Chapter 25: Decisions

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            Having watched throughout their classes left Chay feeling even more conflicted. It didn’t help that Perry refused to sit near him and that Fiona sat isolate herself, her head down, not speaking to anyone. It was like the brightness in her as gone, snuffed out. And he knew who he had to blame for that.

            Chay rubbed one eye as he walked into the cafeteria. He hadn’t got much sleep and he was feeling the effects, which didn’t put him in any better of a mood. He had made it through the serving line and had a fully laden tray when he noticed Fiona. She was alone again, her shoulders hunched, her hair hiding her face as she ate alone. Everything about her posture told him she was upset.

            He stopped and stared. He wanted to sit with her, to bring back her smile, to make her stand tall again, but at the same time he couldn’t forgive the broken trust and the feeling that he’d be betraying Kimi if he relented. Chay opened his mouth and closed it a few times before he turned and moved to the other side of the room. He did make sure he could see Fiona from his seat though.

            Chay ate mechanically, not even tasting the shepherd’s pie, one of his favourites. He kept his gaze locked onto Fiona, not liking the way her fork mostly made circuits of her plate, very rarely being put to her lips. He liked the brief flash of her pale skin and the dark circles under her eyes even less. She was even wearing the same clothes as yesterday.

            What the kobold twins had said echoed in his mind. She’d already been broken and he’d managed to break her further. Guilt began to gnaw at his stomach and he dropped his fork back onto his tray, knowing he wasn’t going to be able to eat another bite.

            As he stood, he could see Fiona already taking her tray back. He hurried to do the same, but did his best to make sure she didn’t see him. He didn’t want to upset her further. Especially since he didn’t really know what it was he was doing or even what he wanted. Too many emotions were mixed up inside of him and he didn’t like it one bit. He wanted to go back to being normal, to forget all of it, but he couldn’t. Instead he actually had to deal with it all, sort through the insanity and try to find an answer.

            Fiona didn’t head towards her dorm or the library like he’d thought she would, instead cutting across the grass towards the school’s building. Chay thought she might be going to the computer lab so he trailed behind, noticing how no one really paid her much attention. Which shouldn’t have surprised him. If she hadn’t told him, he wouldn’t have ever guessed she was human.

            Chay couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or not, so he concentrated instead on following Fiona. She didn’t head straight like he’d though she would once she got inside, but turned right at the second opening. He continued behind her, but fell farther back, hoping her senses weren’t sharp enough to detect him. They shouldn’t be, but he wasn’t sure. He’d never spent much time around humans before.

            When she turned again, Chay figured out where she was going and felt a fresh surge of guilt. He slowed even more, just barely coming around the corner in time to see Fiona head into the medical centre, leaving the door open behind her. He padded along, tensed in case she came back out and saw him. He didn’t think he’d be able to find the words to explain what he was doing. He really didn’t understand it himself. He just needed to see her, to watch what she did, or he’d never be able to decide what to do.

            Dr. Volkov wasn’t at the front desk for once, so Chay was able to slip to that side, hidden by the half drawn curtain that was used to shut off most of the room from the doorway. Feeling like he was doing something wrong, he stood there and listened. Because Fiona was talking from where she sat beside Meredith.

            “I’m sorry Mer,” he heard her say, her voice almost cracking. “You were right. I should have listened to you from the start.”

            Chay frowned, wondering what it was she’d been right about but getting the impression it was about him. That irritated him. What had the selkie been telling Fiona? Realizing the direction of his thoughts, he flushed. Perry had been right about him being a dick to Meredith and he guessed she’d been right about him if she’d warned Fiona. The realization had him shifting his weight from foot to foot, feeling like a weight had been attached to his stomach as it sank to his feet.

            “I don’t know what to do,” Fiona said, her voice blurry with barely restrained tears. “I wish you were awake. You always know what the best option is. I want to leave, but there’d be nothing left for me if I did. And I don’t want to leave you. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, and leaving you like this… I don’t think I could live with myself. Please, if you can Mer, please wake up.”

            The soft hiccupping noise that came from Fiona after her words confused Chay until he heard her sniffle. She was crying. Chay thought guilt couldn’t make him feel any worse than he already felt. He’d been wrong. His stomach twisted, and it felt like molten slivers of glass was flowing out form there, stabbing at every inch of him. His conscience was working overtime, practically stabbing him over and over again with feelings.

            Chay had never wanted to make her cry, had never really wanted to hurt her. He just… He shook his head. No, he hadn’t thought, hadn’t considered things from her perspective. And what he knew of Fiona was nothing bad. She certainly had more honour than some of his family members! Who among them would sacrifice their chance of escaping a bad situation just to help out someone else, someone they weren’t related to?

            That decided him. If he thought of Fiona as better than his own family, how could he hate her? How could he repudiate her simply because of where and who she’d been born to? No, he’d been wrong.

            Chay took a step forward, opening his mouth to say exactly that when sparkling blackness closed in around him and he felt his consciousness fade away.

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