Chapter 72: Dreaming

The walls glowed with an eerie light. The bars too. Magic, he assumed; it kept him from breaking out. Not that breaking out would have done him any good. The world was his prison. Everyone out there knew his face; they knew that if he ever made it home they would vanish from existence like a dream.

They didn’t need to bother. He’d died the same day she did. The last thing he did before falling through the cracks was destroy their apartment and throw his cousin out a window. He didn’t have a home to return to.

He paced from one wall to the next, gently tapping his fingers along the bars of his cell. They didn’t treat him poorly, but the boredom was going to kill him. They were afraid that if they gave him too much to work with he’d break out. He got a new book every couple of days. No TV. No Radio.

Most of the time, he was alone with his thoughts. He tried to lose himself in happy memories. He remembered her smile, her voice, her lips. But it always led him to the same place. The sight of her, overwhelmed by her own power, sinking into a level of depression that took years in a matter of moments. He remembered not being able to reach her, to hold her back. He watched her pick up the shard of glass. And then he’d done the worst thing he could.

He turned away.

It had been his fault. She shouldn’t have been there at all. She definitely shouldn’t have been the one to try and take down Eclipse. It hadn’t worked any of the dozens of times they’d killed him before. They didn’t have any reason to believe that dying by his own hand would make it stick.

But it had been a chance. And Kalliope had wanted to try; she wanted to take a chance to end the monster’s life once and for all.

It was meal time. A guard was walking down the hall. As always, his other accompanied him. It was the easiest way to keep his powers in check.

Rumor watched himself through the bars. Staring into his mask in a way he had never experience until these last few months.

Neither of him said a word. The guard kept glancing between the two, as if any hint of conversation would lead to his doom.

The other Rumor scoffed. Despite the mask in the way, Rumor caught the smirk on the face that wasn’t his.

“New book.” He handed it through the bars and Rumor passed the old one back.

The guard slid the tray through the door and quickly backed away.

The other him turned to walk away and he stared at his back.

“It won’t work forever you know.”

The other him paused.

“It’s a stop-gap. Sooner or later this whole place will collapse and the only thing that will change is you’ll take me with you.”

The other him turned back slightly. “It gives us time. If you want to live, the best option is to give us as much as you can.”

Rumor looked himself in the eye. The other him couldn’t look for long. Whatever spark they’d once shared, whatever drove them to become who they were, it was gone now. He hated that look, that defeated void, coming from his own face.

Rumor couldn’t have looked for long either. This him had grown more ruthless without her. He was frozen in a moment of anger that he may never move on from. Even without the news, he heard the guards gossiping, just out of sight. He hadn’t started killing, but he was close. They’d found at least a few villains with every bone in their body shattered. They couldn’t wake up for days without fainting from the pain.

They both saw each other as the worst they could ever become. They hated each other almost as much as they hated themselves.

“You’re wrong about that,” Rumor said as he returned to his bunk. “If I wanted to live, I’d already be gone.”

The other him didn’t answer as he led the guard out of the room.

Rumor glanced down at the book. He’d read it already, but it was one he enjoyed. At least he could trust himself to pick out good books.

He ate his meal in silence and slid the tray back to the door when he was done.

Then he sat down and opened the book.

He tried to focus on the words, to string a sentence together. But before he knew it, he’d been staring blankly at the first page for minutes on end without reading a single line.

.His mind was wandering again. It led to the same place as always. Even months later, it was the only thing he could thing about.

It wasn’t her death, or her song of depression, or her lips, or her voice, or her smile. Those were all things he used to distract himself from the truth.

It was the last thing she’d said; before she started to sing. It was when she asked him to help her.

And he had

Eclipse didn’t kill Kalliope.

Rumor did.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Will’s eyes shot open, but his head remained firmly planted on the pillow.

It was the fourth time he’d had that dream in as many nights. Before that, it had been a year and a half since he’d had it.

Ever since he was in Mach’s head, ever since he’d seen himself in the state he’d been in for months after escaping that place, the cell hadn’t left his mind.

He couldn’t talk about them. Most people would have shrugged it off as a nightmare, but people like his friends tended to be a bit…paranoid about dreams. The last thing he needed right now was The Court trying to interpret it as a sign of modern events or Maestro psychoanalyzing him about how it was a reaction to similar emotions, or Lux telling his mother.

It was just a bad dream.

It didn’t have to mean anything.

A knock on the door.

His clock said half past one, but he didn’t care. Right now he needed the distraction.

When he opened it, there was a note stuck to the other side.

It was from Zero. Apparently, someone needed to talk to him, fast. She didn’t give a name. It was odd, but not uncommon.

Will looked back at his bed. He wasn’t going to get anymore sleep tonight anyway.

Will threw on a long jacket over his t-shirt and sweat pants. And walked out the door.

The meeting place was close luckily.

Will sat down on a park bench, haloed by a lamppost mostly covered by a tree.

Miss Mirror slowly floated down to him, and Red Racer was there just as she landed.

Red Racer’s explanation was long and full of segues, but the message got through.

Will grabbed his phone and started making calls.

He wasn’t going to lose another one.

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