Sundays were come-down days at Addergoole, and the halls were nearly empty as Emrys made his way back to Shahin’s room. He waved at Aviv, walking Seralondae back to her room. Odd pair, but they didn’t seem to be a couple, either, just walking together companionably.
He wasn’t in any great hurry, so he took the long route back, slipping through a couple pods as he ambled. Even in the lounges, there weren’t many people – one girl passed out face-down on a couch, Barem halfway inside his room, as if he’d fallen over in his doorway.
Emrys kicked the albino monsters once, hard, in the thigh, and kept walking. The party had to have gotten pretty wild the night before. Usually people at least made it into a room.
And there was another one. Curled like a baby just feet from his door, his blonde hair covering his face. Looking all sorts of vulnerable. Yngvi.
Leaving him there would be like putting an injured bird out for the cats. Someone would find him, even if Barem was passed out cold. Not that the little prick didn’t deserve some bashing around… but it would probably upset Shahin.
Not that there was anything Emrys could really do for him anyway. Well, that wasn’t, strictly speaking, true. He knelt over the smaller boy, whispering, “Idu Tlacatl”.
Not sick. Not drunk or hungover. Just almost completely out of juice, totally exhausted, as if he’d just run a marathon. Underwater. While dragging cement blocks.
Curious. Really nothing he could do about that, though. He rose, to keep on towards Shahin’s room, and caught a glimpse of Ardell, looking into the pod with a predatory grin.
“Should’ve expected something like this to be your doing.”
“Not my doing,” Ardell grinned, “but I won’t mind helping myself to some of the spoils.”
Emrys sighed, shaking his head and taking on a resigned tone. ”Not today, Ardell.”
Ardell laughed. “I don’t see why not. There’s no-one here to stop me.”
“It’s not Hell Night. You can’t just pick them up like strays.” He crossed his arms, standing over Yngvi’s prone form.
“It doesn’t need to be Hell Night for me to pick fruit hanging this low.” He advanced lazily on them.
Emrys rotated his right hand, fingers curling upward as a ball of flickering orange flame blossomed to life in his palm. ”Back off.”
Ardell kept moving forward, muttering under his breath, doing a Working.
“Oh no you don’t.” He gathered his power, focusing it through his Words as he chanted. “Abatu Kwxe Ichos, Abatu Kwxe Ichos...” Each repetition became softer, duller, the reverberating echo of his chant absorbing all of the sound waves in the hallway. In moments, no sound escaped his moving lips at all.
Ardell glared at him, his lips still moving as he tried to force his Working through. When that didn’t work, he drove straight at Emrys, instead, in a football tackle.
Emrys was taken down easily by the larger boy, falling beside Yngvi, but then his whole body erupted in silent flame. The flames licked over Ardell’s body, melting holes in his T-shirt and catching his hair on fire. The boy jerked back, mouthing what were probably curses, furiously patting out his hair.
“…fucking kitchen stove,” his voice slowly became audible as he backed away. “Flame on, then, if you really want the little bitch.”
Emrys got back to his feet cautiously, extinguishing his immolation and brushing off his clothes instinctively despite knowing he hadn’t damaged them. Ardell kept backing up, however, until he was out of the pod, swearing and patting at his singed hair the whole way.
“…fire?” Yngvi groaned.
“Not anymore, kid.” He sighed, waiting for the inevitable arrival of the resident referee.
It took Luke a couple minutes to get there; by the time he did, the bleary blond had dragged himself to his feet and was eyeing Emrys cautiously.
“You didn’t quite manage to set off the sprinklers,” Luke grumped.
“You want me to try harder next time?”
It got a laugh, but the old warrior looked tired. “Everything settled, then?”
“Yeah, I think so. Just the usual people dead after a party night, and the usual scavengers out.”
He shook his head. “This isn’t usual. Thanks for not burning the place down.” He stomped off, evidently in a hurry.
Emrys frowned, shaking his head at Luke’s retreating back. “Wonder what’s got his panties in a bunch this morning.”
“Dunno.” Yngvi coughed, and pulled himself up a little straighter. “Did you…?”
“Get Luke’s panties in a bunch? Hell, no. I just saved your ass. Probably literally. Don’t ask me why.”
He pushed his hair out of his eyes, getting the start on a haughty, pain-in-the-ass expression, but it faded before it was fully formed. “Ah… thank you.” He hesitated for a moment, still leaning against the door when he thought Emrys wasn’t looking. “Ah… Shahin and Aelgifu don’t need to hear about this, do they?”
“About you passed out in the hall and Ardell looking like Michael Jackson in a Chuck E. Cheese’s?” He smirked. “I think Sheen’d get a kick out of that.”
He turned an interesting shade of purple, his mouth working like a fish and no sound coming out. Finally, he regained his voice, sounding exhausted and beaten rather than arrogant. “What do you want, to keep it quiet?”
“For now you just owe me one. Although it’s funny that you think it’s for not telling. Of course, if Sheen wants to know she’ll find out. C’mon, they’re probably wondering where you are.”
The other boy just blinked at that blearily. “Okay…” With obvious effort, he began walking, stumbling, really, towards Shahin’s room; Emrys simply opened the door with no further fanfare as they arrived.
Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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