Chapter 24: Friendship

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            Chay paced rapidly back and forth in his room. Kaden wouldn’t be back until curfew, but Perry was there, sitting backwards on his desk chair, watching Chay’s movements with slitted eyes. The satyr hadn’t asked him anything since he’d arrived and found Chay in a bad mood, just sat down and waited.

            Which was good for Chay. He wasn’t sure he could articulate what he was feeling at the moment. Betrayal was definitely one of the chief emotions, since Fiona had lied to him all this time. If he was being honest with himself, he’d admit that she hadn’t ever expressly told him she was a dryad himself, that she just hadn’t corrected his assumptions. But he was still worked up to look at things critically, still smarting from the loss of someone he’d thought he could trust completely.

            As he tried to sort through the whirl of emotions seething inside enough that he could explain things, the door to his room flew open. Chay and Perry both turned to look at the short figure in the doorway. It took Chay a moment to recognize the girl from Fiona’s dorm before she leapt at him.

            Reflexes born of his family’s training had him darting out of her way. She hissed and whirled. The kobold picked up one of the books off the bed beside her and hurled it at his head. Chay ducked, but only barely missed getting hit. “What are you doing?” he demanded.

            Fireballs appeared his both her hands as she glared at him. “You broke her!” she shouted, lunging forward.

            But Perry had already moved and caught both her wrists, ignoring her struggles. “Calm down and tell us what’s the matter,” he said.

            She shook her head, still fighting against his grip. “No! He broke her. He broke her! So I’m going to break him and…” The girl trailed off as tears began to fall. “It’s not fair! She didn’t deserve this…” She trailed off as she began to sob. Perry released her as the fire in her hands went out.

            Running footsteps and a shout preceded the arrival of more uninvited guests. What was obviously the kobold’s twin came rushing in first, stopping in front of her, one arm going around her shoulders while he turned to glare at Chay with dark green eyes. “Haven’t you done enough?” he spat.

            “I-” began Chay, before the next arrival shoved his way into the room.

            “You two are leaving now,” Howard growled, eyes blazing as he looked at the twins. “You’re not touching my residents.”

            “What’s going on?” Perry asked.

            Howard jerked and then winced as if he’d just noticed them. “It’s nothing you need to worry about. These two broke in and are causing trouble but I’ll have them out in a minute.”

            “It’s his fault,” Robin snapped, pointing at Chay, face still wet with tears. “He broke her!! She was already broken because of Meredith and he broke her more! We can’t fix her, not like Meredith could, so we’re going to get revenge instead!”

             “I don’t care,” Howard said, arms crossed over his chest. “You’re leaving. You’ve already broken enough rules to get both of your guardian statuses revoked. If you leave now, I’ll let it slide given everything you’re dealing with, but if you don’t, I’ll be speaking to the teachers tomorrow.”

            Before either of them could protest or make another move, he raised a hand and jerked it, like he was beckoning them. The floor underneath the twins bucked before wrapping around their feet and pushed them forward, like they were riding a wave. While they shouted, the twins were pulled all the way into the hall. “Sorry about this,” Howard told Chay and Perry, before following after the twins, shutting the door behind him.

            Chay continued to stare at the door for several seconds, still trying to process what had just happened. It wasn’t every day someone came in and tried to attack him. He didn’t see Perry’s eyes narrow, only looking at his friend when he asked, “What was that about? Did Wilde dump you or something?”

            He choked before turning to stare at his friend. “No! No, it’s…god, it’s hard to explain,” he said, dropping down onto his bed, his head in his hands. His anger had faded to embers, but was ready to flare up at a moment’s notice, his pain at her betrayal and his loneliness at losing yet another person he thought he could trust rising to the fore. Why was it that every time he came to like a person, every time he thought he found someone who liked him for himself and not his family, every time he was ready to bring someone into his sphere that they always ended up betraying him?

            Perry shrugged, reclaiming his chair. “Do your best. I’m used to your mangled explanations.”

            “It’s… She told me she’s… Fiona’s not a Phasm, she’s human.” Just saying the word human almost put a bad taste in his mouth, Kimi’s face in his mind again. Though it flickered briefly with Fiona’s expression when he’d left which he shoved down as quickly as it appeared. She’d lied to him.

            Perry blinked. “And…?”

            “And? She’s human! Isn’t that enough?” Chay snapped, staring at his best friend.

            The satyr leaned back, his eyebrows rising as a frown pulled at his lips. “You know one of the reasons I’ve always been friends with you? It’s because you’ve never been bothered about what kind of Phasm anyone was. You never thought of anyone as better or worse because of what they were, just who they were. And that I consider something of a miracle given your family.”

            Chay stared as Perry’s voice darkened, his eyes snapping together into a glare as the satyr continued to look at him. “Which is why I’m finding this particularly hard to swallow. Because I honestly thought better of you. So what if Wilde’s a human! Has that changed the person she is? Does that erase everything you know about her? Why the fuck should it matter what she is? And I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you weren’t a complete ass about this.”

            He couldn’t help the guilty flush that creeped up his neck. Not when the look on Fiona’s face was still fresh in his mind. Perry saw and crossed his arms over his chest, his jaw tight. “You just blew her off, didn’t you? God damn it! You didn’t even think about what’s going on with her, did you? Did it even register with you that she’s already basically lost her best friend and that you were the only person she was still relying on?”

            Each word was another knife in Chay’s chest. Perry was right of course. He generally was. He…he could have done that better, could have cut things off more gently. “But,” he said, trying to meet Perry’s eyes. “After what happened to Kimi-”

            His friend cut him off as he stood. “What happened to your cousin was done by a small group of humans. If it’d been a bunch of satyrs, would you have stopped hanging around me? Because honestly, I’m starting to feel like you would have. You need to figure out if what someone is is more important than who they are. Because our friendship depends on it.”

            Before Chay could formulate  a response, Perry walked out, shutting his door just short of slamming it. Staring at the wood door without really seeing it, Chay knew he’d be up all night thinking.

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