Author’s Note: So I was trying to fulfill this prompt, and down they forgot as up they grew ~ “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by e. e. cummings, piggybacking off of what I did in Into the Fire.
I’m not really sure it hit the prompt, but it did what I wanted it to do, more or less. I’m also in danger of making way too many puns. 😛
“You’re late, Royston.”
Her eyes closed as she sat down in the chair, not sure she was up to dealing with his crap today. “What’s it to you, Washburne? I don’t even know why I came.”
She didn’t need to look at him to know he was the same. He hadn’t changed. The light would still catch his black hair in a way that made it look blue, his skin would always appear to have that permanent tan. He’d be fit, keeping up that athletic look, always in motion, so fluid. He was the boy with the water, the soothing personality that put them all at ease, the most popular kid in the neighborhood, and he seemed to expect her to remember that, but over the years, too much time had passed for her to call him a friend, and he was not a neighbor, not anymore. She didn’t owe him anything, and he didn’t owe her. He just thought he could use her, and she never knew why. She wasn’t that easy.
“No one forced you to come, so if you don’t want to be here, don’t stay.”
“Sounds like your day was as bad as mine.”
“I don’t know what your day was like.”
“Right. You don’t care, either.”
He kicked her chair, and her eyes opened, glaring across the table at him. He shrugged, once more being that duck, the one that let water run right off his back. That figured. She knew better than to bother. She didn’t know why she tried. She couldn’t help it, she supposed. She needed to fight.
He never did, though she could provoke him every now and again. She used to be proud of that, but now she didn’t remember why.
“That’s better. We need to talk.”
“You’ve had your chance to say whatever you need to say.”
He leaned forward, hands on the table, getting too close to her. “When they come for you, you’ll regret ignoring me now.”
She stiffened. She’d done her best to get far away from all of that, to put it behind her. None of them were safe, no matter how much distance they put between them and the beginning. “You’re sure?”
She couldn’t think about Stone being dead. That wasn’t something she knew how to deal with. She would rather ignore it, pretend she hadn’t heard anything at all. She knew she had, but she refused to acknowledge it.
“His sister’s terrified.”
“Bet that wasn’t fun.”
“I said I had a bad day.”
He was too proud to ask for help, and she knew he wouldn’t. He never put any demands on her, though she sometimes thought he would. Instead, he’d let her walk away like it didn’t matter.
She reached into her pocket and took out her keys. “I’m not going back with you.”
He nodded, rising. “Never expected you to. Just wanted to make sure you listened to my warning. You know, since you ignore my calls most of the time.”
“I have my reasons.”
“We all have our reasons.” He started toward the door, and she thought about staying where she was. She wasn’t about to follow him. He led the others. She wasn’t one of them, though, and she stayed separate for a reason. Too many of them, damn it.
He looked back at her. “What?”
She didn’t remember standing up, and she didn’t know why she’d used his first name or why her throat was so dry. “Be careful.”
“You too, Enya.”
She shrugged. “You don’t have to worry about me. I know better than to look into any mirrors.”