Inquest Chapter 7

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I watch the horde of retreating news vans in relief. I don’t think they ever would have left if Principal Andrews hadn’t come out and banished them from the premises. She stormed back to her office right after looking angrier at me than them. My knees are shaking, and all I want to do is flop down on the pavement and bang my head against it. I might have if Milo hadn’t been staring at me. Despite the fact that he sat in that same irritating, slouchy position during the entire attack with an expression of detached curiosity, I stagger over to his car and plop down next to him. Jen would have hugged me. Lance would have kissed me and rubbed my shoulders until he felt the tension dissolve. Milo just sits there.

“Thanks for the help,” I say, my annoyance blatantly obvious.

“I thought you did great. Especially when you clocked that guy in the mouth. You can bet that bit makes it on the evening news,” Milo says casually.

A frustrated groan slips through my teeth. I was so focused on keeping them off me and trying to make them believe I wasn’t some mutant, terrorist freak hell-bent of annihilating the world that I had barely even thought about how everything was being taped before I hit that guy. “I can’t believe I did that,” I moan.

“It’s not like it’s going to make people have a worse opinion of you,” Milo says.

“How so?”

“Because they already hate you. What’s stronger than hate?” he says.

My head feels like it’s going to explode. I hope the fragments of my skull bash right into Milo’s face when it does. “You suck at cheering people up, do you know that?”

“That’s only because I wasn’t trying to cheer you up.”

I sigh and laugh weakly. “Well, then let me say, you’re fantastic at making people feel even worse than they already did.”

“Yeah, well, it’s just one more thing to love about me, I guess,” he says, “but I wasn’t trying to make you feel worse, either.”

“Too bad, because it worked.” With the adrenaline beginning to wear off, my hands start shaking. I stuff them under my legs to hide them.

“I was merely stating the obvious. People are going to hate you when they find out who you are no matter what you say. Words don’t matter when it comes to people protecting their lives or their family’s lives,” he says seriously. Very seriously.

“So what do you want me to do? Admit I’m going to kill everyone?” I demand.

“Are you?” He asks it with all the concern of a bug for the blade of grass it’s crawling over.

My eyes narrow at him. “No.”

“Then you probably shouldn’t admit you are,” he says.

“Has anyone ever told you how incredibly irritating you are?” I ask.

“Often. But my point is, if you want people to believe you aren’t going to hurt them you have show them you aren’t. Those vans are going to be back. They’ll follow everything you do for the next two years. Do whatever you have to in order to make sure the world knows who you really are. And by that I don’t mean the Destroyer, I mean Libby Sparks.”

The length of his speech is surprising enough, but the honest, thoughtful tenor of his words is even more shocking. Plus, he’s looking right at me for once, rather that peering at me from behind his mop of wild hair. His eyes aren’t red from smoking too much pot. He isn’t covered in acne or tattoos or piercings like I thought he might be at first. He’s actually kind of…attractive. Milo notices me watching him and looks at his feet.

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