"Íl'iàn. That's such a pretty name."

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Eli keeps expecting someone to haul his ass up over the Bathroom Incident, but no one does. People avoid him in the hallways, though. Where before he was invisible, now he's feared. It's not a feeling he's unused to, exactly, and it's definitely not a feeling he enjoys. Like hanging out with a whole school filled with the old women in fur coats who won't sit next to him on the subway.

The rest of the day passes in a sort of flat daze. Eli keeps jumping between buzzing numbness and cold, sharp rage. He isn't sure who he's more angry with: Morgan, for ruining everything, or Zoe for sending Eli away. After he'd saved her. After she'd, what? Tried to bewitch him?

He wants to tell himself the magic would never have worked, but Zoe's own words keep coming back to him: the only way to activate a mundane item is to use something that's in itself magical. Like the hair of a dragon, for example. Eli keeps running his hand through his curls, trying to find the chunk that's missing. He thinks maybe there's a piece low near the back but he can't be sure; if it was cut, it's mostly grown back by now. Which means Zoe must haven taken it ages ago, maybe right when Eli first came to the school.

Goddamnit, Zoe.

Addi is out again when Eli gets home which, honestly, he's fine with. He has a mountain of homework built up that he'd been too busy playing draconic Scooby Doo to work on, so he attacks the pile now with vicious enthusiasm. He puts on dubstep loud enough to shake the walls, and tears through algebra problems like the rotting flesh of a peryton.

An hour later, the sun is down, Aunt Addi still isn't home, and Eli's homework pile has shrunk to essays for History and English. They aren't due tomorrow and he can't focus on them tonight, so instead he eats half a cold pizza straight out of the box in the fridge, and decides to go running.

It's dark out, darker than it should be; the clouds are still hanging low and leaded and they bring the twilight quickly, even for this time of year. There's a bite to the air but Eli warms up well enough after a block or so, feeling the comforting heat begin in his legs and his lungs.

Running in Rosemont is nothing like running in Manhattan. It's barely seven o'clock but the streets are all-but deserted, just the odd car zooming beneath dull streetlights.

Manhattan is never empty, and never dark, and suddenly Eli misses it with such a powerful ache that it stops him dead. He doubles over, hands on his knees and eyes clenched shut hard enough to send black and red fireworks blooming behind the lids.

He misses his city. His friends. His school.

His parents.

It'd been okay, in Rosemont. Almost like a holiday; a dislocated summer out of the city. He'd found Zoe in the library and they'd hit it off and—

And now even that memory is broken. Seeing Zoe sitting by herself, reading Iron Man, "Because I just saw the film and wanted to check out the comic, y'know? For . . . research." A little bite of her red-glossed lip Eli would later learn was her way of stopping herself from confessing she was reading the comic to research her latest Stony fanfic.

"Extremis is okay," Eli had said, "but I always thought Ellis's indie work was better, y'know?" The next day, he'd brought in copies of Fell and The Authority to prove it, and that'd been the start of . . . of everything, really.

Eli wonders, now, how real that memory is. Whether Zoe's enchantment was working on him even then. Drawing him to her so they could, what? Geek out about comics?

Zoe hasn't messaged Eli since the Incident, but he hasn't messaged her, either. He has his phone in his hand and is staring at their chat history before he's really realized what he's doing. Just talk to me, he wants to type. Tell me you didn't . . . do what Morgan said you did.

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