Chapter 19

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A few weeks later, Elion found himself nodding politely to officers who greeted him loudly and aggressively. It took him biting a wound into the inside of his cheek to keep from swinging his fists or screaming at them to back off. He knew he wasn't the same man he had been the last time he had walked into work, but they didn't seem to see it. He wasn't sure how since he didn't even recognize himself in the mirror.

Mikhail's door was open and the older man did a double take when Elion walked in. The pen in his hand fell and with a flick of his wrist, the door closed and the room silenced.

"No need." Elion said tiredly, because he was tired. He couldn't remember the last time he'd gone to sleep without hybrid liquors to shut down his mind. He had lost track of the hours in the day after the first week of being locked inside his apartment with the curtains drawn, and now he knew what he had to do. He dropped a thin booklet of signed papers in front of Mikhail and waited for the sorcerer to look them over. Mikhail frowned at the signature on the last page, the pen in his hand hovering over the clear line under it and his tired eyes looked up intently.

"You're sure?" Mikhail asked cautiously. Elion nodded immediately, stiffening his upper lip when the papers were slid back to him. "You will still have to be released by psych before you can return to duty."

"Fine." Elion shrugged. Mikhail stood up then, his elegant robes swishing as he came around the large desk. Elion found himself in a tight embrace and inhaling the scent of smokey herbs and sweet magic and when he finally pulled back, his eyes stayed focused on the ornate rug under their feet.

"I'll go clean out my desk." Elion muttered, not sparing Mikhail a final glance before he walked out.

Elion paused in front of the closed door, his fingers resting on the knob until almost ten minutes had ticked by. He swallowed hard as he crossed the room with a worn box in hand. Stavros's desk was a mess, his computer on and a chewed pen rested on the keyboard. That was all it took for Elion to find himself trying to force down the lump in his throat.

He made short work of the items he needed to clear out. Case files were stacked in a neat pile to be filed away after he was gone and small knickknacks were tossed in the beaten up box. Despite only having a few things accumulated over the months, it felt like he was packing up his home, and not even actually doing that had been so hard. It had been exciting to leave the nest, to spread his wings and prove to his parents that would survive the big, scary world, and he had. He had managed to do it for years. He had managed it until everything was ripped out from underneath him by a scowling man.

When he was done, the bottom of the box was scattered with a few photos he had tucked away in his desk drawers, several chewed pens and the small trinkets he had found in the market, the ones he had thought would make their dreary office a little more alive. That was it. Nothing grand or special enough to make him want to curl up and cry at the sense of loss that had magnified since he had walked in. He sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face, his fingers brushing over the puckered scar that hooked along his jaw.

He hugged the box to his chest tightly as he slowly made his way down the hallway. His eyes stayed downcast in protest to the greetings and shoulder slaps that made him cringe. When he slammed into another person, it didn't surprise him, but when he began to part his lips with forced apologies it was only his breath that escaped. Stavros immediately retracted the hand that had shot out to keep Elion from falling on his face. Elion tore his eyes away slowly, letting them punish him with the sight of haunting eyes and velvet lips. Elion crouched to his knees and quickly gathered the items that had spilled, his joints protesting the demanding stance and making him wince as he stood. The healers assured him that with time and therapy, he would be almost as good as new. Almost. Never again would his body forget the beatings it had taken, and that was okay with Elion. The reason for it was standing in front of him healthy once more and that was enough to make it okay.

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