"I'm sorry, what did you say? I thought I heard you say Anya's here in Northvale."

I rocked back on my heels and nodded slowly. "Yes. You heard me right."

Theo blinked. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

"Theo, come on. It's not impossible."

"It is," he said, face and voice carefully void of expression, as if in denial. "It is. Anya and her family would never—it's just not possible."

"They're already here," I countered with a raise of my eyebrows, pulling him further inside the empty classroom. "Faust has been seeing her."

My brother cocked his head to the side. "And you're okay with that? She's his ex-girlfriend."

Remembering what Faust had asked of me yesterday, I bit my lip and answered, "It doesn't matter. What matters is that someone else involved in the attack has been reaching out to me to find out who this monster is. We need to find him."

"No," Theo said immediately, shaking his head, "no. What I'm not going to do is drag you into this mess. It doesn't matter if Anya's back in Northvale for whatever reason, we're not going to do anything, okay?"

My jaw fell slack at his reaction. "B-but we can help her. We can help her by digging further into things, all we need to find is a person with a tattoo—"

"Thea." My brother took me by the shoulders firmly. The brown in his eyes held something fierce—something that told me no matter how hard I tried, I wouldn't be able to change his mind. "The police closed this case a year ago. I know you want to help Anya, but that isn't your call to make. This is dangerous territory. And what if the attacker's long gone? He's stupid if he's here in Northvale, unless he wants to be for the thrill of it. He may have gotten the tattoo removed—who knows? Not us. We stay out of it. You stay out of it."

"Theo—"

"Tell whoever's involving you in this shit to stop," he ordered sternly, a crease appearing in between his eyebrows. "Or tell me who he is and I'll make him stop myself. He's putting you in danger and I'm not fucking okay with that. Is it Carter?"

I shook my head, still feeling dejected. "No. I can promise you it's not him. He didn't tell me anything about Anya—I just found out."

Theo exhaled heavily and released me. "As much as we want to help Anya, it's too risky. I'm serious, Thea."

"I am, too."

"Stay out of it," he repeated, pulling open the door. "I may still care about Anya, but I love you. I'd tear the world apart if you got hurt, you understand?"

I took a deep breath and nodded.

Theo smiled at me. "Later, sis."

Bowing my head, I slumped against one of the desks and wrapped my arms around myself. What was I supposed to do now?

I sat there for a few more minutes, my mind racing with thoughts and possibilities even as I knew that lunch break was almost over. Nico and Faust were once again absent, and because things hadn't smoothed over between JJ and I, staying inside the staff room until I got a chance to talk with Theo seemed like my best option.

I knew that my brother was right. But Will was desperate—it felt wrong to refuse him a chance to help to catch the person who caused Anya much suffering.

But Theo was adamant on wanting nothing to do with the situation, and placing myself on his shoes, I understood where he was coming from. I just wished that it didn't feel as if the world rested on my shoulders.

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