I looked up from my notebook, not sure I'd heard him right. "Wha-huh?"
"I don't want to do it."
"This storyline. I don't like where it's going to go."
I blinked at him. "Why?"
He shuffled his feet. "Let's just say I've got my reasons, okay?"
"Dude, it's me. You can tell me."
"I don't want to talk about it!"
I sighed and put down my pencil. "C'mon, man, don't do this to me. Do you realize how hard I've worked to get to this stage? All the crap I've had to get through? I've been knocking myself out to get us here, all of us. If something's bugging you, well okay, we'll work it out. But a blank veto with no explanation's not going to cut it. I wouldn't take one from Tiffany, I won't take one from you. You're a boss yourself, you know what it's like."
He sat down ... huge and immense, making my expensive but human-scaled easy chair creak and look rather silly under his bulk. And with a worried look that I'd seen before, and that always bothered me.
"It'll hurt her," he said. "I don't want to do that."
I just sat for a moment. "I know," I finally said. "But it's necessary. Without conflict, there's no story."
"Yeah, I know, but, well, dammit..."
"If she has to feel pain, you don't want to be the one who's the agent of it, is that it?"
He examined a spot on the wall with great interest. He was ashamed of himself.
"What about all the pain she's caused you since 1999?"
"Feh. I can take it."
I wanted to hug the big jerk, but I knew he wouldn't react well to that.
"Leonard, buddy. Trust me. I know what I'm doing."
He stood, narrowed his eyes, and hit me with the most piercing gaze he could muster -- which I don't mind telling you, is pretty damn piercing.
I didn't flinch. "I'm sure. And I'm sure of something else, too."
"You've got butterflies in your stomach. And you don't like it."
He looked baffled at me for a moment, then frowned with comprehension.
"Gaaaah," he said, and stalked out of the room.
I smiled, and said at the space he'd vacated, "You also don't like being told the truth about yourself."