Kyr opened his eyes to the dirty grey brick walls of a police cell, lit only by a single bulb that hung down from the ceiling by a chain. He was lying on a lumpy mattress with a threadbare blanket tossed carelessly across his legs, and his nose hurt so bad it brought tears to his eyes. He reached up gingerly to touch it and realized the lower half of his face was caked with dried blood, cracking and flaking as he grimaced and sat up.
The room spun for a moment before seesawing back into place and he just sat for a few minutes, gingerly working his jaw and squinting out through the bars of his cell. It wasn’t the first time he’d ended up in a jail cell, and he could see enough of the hallway outside to know that he was in city lockup, where occasionally the guards could be bribed or puppy-eyed into slipping prisoners candy. He carefully got to his feet and limped over to the bars to look out at the hallway, glancing both ways up and down it to see if anyone was around. The hallway was empty, though he could distantly hear the ringing of phones, and a quick glance at the clock showed why: it was past one in the morning.
He returned to the cot and sat down on it, trying to think through his pounding headache. The last thing he remembered was giving his keys to Solan and telling him to run, but after that he wasn’t sure what had happened, though obviously it had been enough to give him a broken nose and land him in a jail cell.
“Solo?” he said out loud, though there was no way Solan was anywhere nearby. If he hadn’t managed to escape—and please any gods that existed, he had—then he was dead or he was locked up somewhere with half a million locks and guards around the hour.
Even though he’d expected the silence that greeted his call, he still ducked his head against sudden tears, taking a deep wavery breath. He’d been in jail before, enough that most people would want to throw the book at him and pack him off to a real prison for a few years, but he had the advantage of a rich father who didn’t want the Damascus name smeared by a prison sentence. The only thing that worried him was what he’d be charged with; if they managed to get a treason charge to stick, he’d be going to prison, rich father or not.
He got up again to pace, already working out his defense in his head. By the time his cell door rattled and a sleepy-looking guard let his father in, he had a good idea of what he was going to say in his defense. Taking a deep breath, he turned to face his father, glad he hadn’t yet washed the blood off, and made his slight limp look worse as he approached the front of the cell.
To his surprise his father pulled him into a hug that made him squeak in pain—his ribs appeared to have taken some blows, though he didn’t remember that either—then held him out at arm’s length and looked him over critically. “We’ll get them on the police brutality,” he said. “Are you actually all right?”
Kyr didn’t calculate the tears and was as surprised by the sudden flood as his father seemed to be. He put both hands over his face and brought himself under control after a few painful sobs, then pulled away from his father and went to wash his face in the little sink. He felt better when he was done, though his face looked like a sunset in the cracked mirror over the sink and his lip was badly split. He dried his face on a bit of towel and sat down on the cot beside his father, tucking his hair back behind his ear.
“Did they catch Solan?” he asked, knowing it would look bad but unable to help himself.
“No, but they found your car and a blood trail leading away from it. They think he probably crawled into the woods to die but they won’t know for sure until they can search in the morning.”
“They’re, uh, are they sure he’s dead?”
“There was a lot of blood, Kyr. Even Fae aren’t that fast at healing themselves.” The way he said ‘Fae’ with his mouth twisted down at the corner made Kyr want to punch him. “I can’t believe something like that made it into my school. Befriended my son.”
Kyr thought suddenly of the man in the fancy suit, the one who had been so upset over his own son, and had to fight a sudden and entirely inappropriate urge to start laughing. He cleared his throat instead and asked, “What are they charging me with?”
“Everything they can think of. Aiding and abetting, resisting arrest, attacking a police officer, even treason. Like you weren’t just as taken in as everyone else.” He looked at Kyr. “Right, Kyrianos? You didn’t know.”
“No,” Kyr said softly. “How’d they find out?”
“Someone left an anonymous tip. I’ve had to shut the school down for at least a week, and we’ll be vetting the students very carefully once they come back. The parents are calling for me to step down, of course. The news will be having a field day with it come morning.” He squeezed Kyr’s shoulder, oblivious to the way Kyr’s lip curled. “I’ll have you out of here by dawn, before the vultures can really come pecking.”
“Thanks,” Kyr said, and that at least was sincere. “Guess I’ll try to nap a bit then.”
His father took the hint and got up, crossing over to the bars and calling out for the guard. As the guard was unlocking the door, he looked back and said, “You’ll be fine, Kyr. We’ll get you out of this.”
Kyr plastered on a smile until the guard had walked his father out of sight, then flopped back down on the mattress and put his hands over his face. For a while he just lay there like that, not quite dozing, then shifted a little more onto his side and felt something poke him in the hip. Reaching down, he dug through his pocket until his fingers touched metal tangled in with a bit of loose thread. He tugged it free and took Solan’s ear cuff out of his pocket, holding it up to the light and examining it. It felt no warmer than anything else that might have been in his pocket and he knew somehow that whatever magic had been on it, it was gone now.
He glanced quickly out towards the hallway to make sure it was still empty, then got up and went to wash the ear cuff in the sink. When it was clean, he removed the stud in his own ear and put the cuff in its place, anchoring it with the stud’s backing. Feeling better, he lay back down on the cot and drifted into a shallow sleep until the guards came to tell him his bail had been posted and he was being handed over to his father’s custody until trial.
He didn’t say much on the drive back to his father’s house, staring out the window at the buildings passing by in the early morning light. There had already been a few reporters clustered outside when Kyr had been hurried out, but he had just pulled his coat up over his head and let his father push him into the car. At the house he was directed up to the room that had once been his but was now a guest room, where he found all his stuff had already been collected from the dorms and brought here.
He turned on the TV to play a video game, but turned it off again without doing much more than loading his latest save. Everything reminded him of Solan, from the second memory card in the console to the battered grey T-shirt thrown in with his laundry. He spent a little while organizing things to his liking, though he didn’t expect to be here any longer than he had to be, then wandered downstairs to get something to eat.
Marigold gave him a wide-eyed look from her seat at the table, where she was eating a bowl of cereal, and looked around carefully before whispering, “Was he really Fae?”
“That’s what they say.” He slumped down in the chair opposite her and pulled the cereal box towards him to eat a handful.
“But he was really nice.” She studied his face. “You look really ugly.”
“Thanks, Mari, I love you too.” He pushed the box away again, no longer hungry. “I’m surprised your mom let me come back here.”
“She didn’t want you to,” Marigold said matter-of-factly. “Said you were a crim’nal and you should be left to rot. Daddy said he wasn’t leaving his son in jail and now they’re not talking.”
“Great, so she’ll probably fucking kill me in my sleep. Stab me with her nail file or something.”
“’Specially if you keep saying fucking.” Marigold jammed another dripping spoonful of cereal in her mouth and spoke around it. “And she said she hoped you were jailed for life but if you got away with it, she didn’t want you hanging around here after the trial.”
“Trust me, midget, as soon as they tell me I’m free, I’ll be gone so fast your little head will spin.”
To find Solan, he thought and didn’t say. “Dunno. Somewhere else. Maybe I’ll join the army after all.”
She wrinkled her nose, then raised her bowl to slurp the last of the milk out of it. “Maybe someone’ll shoot you.”
“You can only hope.” He got up again and went out into the backyard, standing on the porch until he felt half-numb with the cold.
The phone was ringing when he got back inside and he answered it automatically, digging his fingers into the plastic case when he recognized Jax’s voice. “What the fuck do you want?”
“To talk to you. Are you okay? I heard... they said you’d been arrested. And there was shooting.”
“Fuck you,” Kyr said, and hung up on him. When the phone rang again, he unplugged it and went upstairs to sprawl on his bed, pulling the pillow over his head.
The doorbell rang an hour later and his father’s voice floated up the stairs, calling him down to the front hall. He went grudgingly and stood on the bottom step with his arms crossed and his eyes narrowed in a hostile glare when he saw it was Jax standing awkwardly inside the front door. His father left them alone with an absent murmur to stay on the property, too distracted by his cell phone to notice Kyr’s glare.
“Step outside for a moment?” Jax asked after a few moments of silence.
“Yeah.” Kyr stepped down off the stairs and went out the front door, taking deep breaths of the cold air.
“You didn’t tell anyone about the fire,” Jax said as he came out, closing the door behind him.
“Yet. They’ll be getting another anonymous tip pretty soon.” He saw Jax flush red with anger. “Can’t believe I ever trusted you.”
“I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.”
“Yes.” Jax gave him a defiant look. “And I’d do it all over again.”
Kyr hit him as hard as he could, sending Jax windmilling off the porch into a pile of snow. He tried to get up but Kyr tackled him, using his weight to pin Jax down and hitting him again, putting so much force into it that the next day he could barely lift his arm above shoulder-height. Jax tried to protect himself for the first few blows, then punched Kyr in the ribs, toppling him off and into the snow. Wheezing a little and shaky with the pain from his bruised ribs taking another blow, Kyr still managed to land his heel into Jax’s stomach, driving Jax back with a pained grunt.
“Get out,” Kyr managed. “If I see you again, I’ll beat the shit out of you. Again.”
Jax swiped a hand angrily across his bloody face and spit into the snow, then walked away, still holding his stomach. Kyr watched him go, waiting until he’d gotten in his car to pull himself up out of the snow and limp inside, one hand pressed to his ribs.
He went back up to his room and turned on the TV, flipping through the channels until he came on the news. The shooting at the Academy and the discovery of a Fae among the student population was the top story. Kyr felt his mouth twist as the news anchor read off her notes, twisting it to sound like Solan had been the one who had been shooting. According to the news, three police officers had been taken to hospital with serious if not life-threatening injuries, and another four had been treated and released.
“Over to you, Damien,” she said brightly when she was done reading her notes, and a field reporter bundled up in a heavy winter coat came onto the screen.
He was standing in front of a heavily forested area and in the background Kyr saw his car, sitting in the snow with the driver’s side door hanging open. Even from that distance he saw the blood staining the seat and churned into the snow outside, leading in a ragged trail under the trees. He swallowed hard against nausea and turned his attention back to the reporter, who was saying that the police had launched an exhaustive search through the woods for the Fae’s body.
“He’s not dead, fucker,” Kyr muttered, only half-aware he was saying it out loud. “Please, Solo, don’t be dead.”
The reporter touched his earpiece and announced that he was receiving something from the officer in charge of the search. Kyr leaned forward despite his aching ribs, biting his lip nearly hard enough to bleed as he waited. The reporter nodded a few times at the invisible voice in his ear, then put the microphone back to his mouth and announced that the police had found the area where the Fae had collapsed, but not a body. Large footsteps had surrounded the area, and the telltale lines of a heavily laden sled had been spotted a few feet further on, leading to the conclusion that the Fae had been picked up by someone or someones unknown.
Kyr barely listened to the conspiracy theory the reporter put forth to explain the tracks, too busy yanking a pillow onto his lap and burying his face in it so nobody would hear him sob in relief. He took a deep and unsteady breath, hoping that whoever had picked Solan up would take him far away until things calmed down and until Kyr could come find him, then went back downstairs to talk to his father about how fast they could go to trial.