The voice was harsh and loud, startling Alan awake. He looked around groggily, assessing where he was, rubbing one blurry eye with his fist. There was stone and bars and a tin can in the corner and he lay on a wooden cot. For a moment, he tried to remember why he’d been brought here, but, after a spell, remembered why it would have been better not remembering.
Alan covered his face as the night unfolded to him once again. The strange, haunting message he’d received from Kynan, the City Watch, the beast’s hunger, the park, that vampire ... and, oh, yeah, the Watch, again. It was all so embarrassing. Alan had never dreamed that he would ever see the inside of a prison, and it brought him nothing but a feeling of shame and self-pity, even if it were for a good cause.
“Hey! You awake?”
A fist pounded on the bars of his cell and Alan jumped a second time. He looked up, but no one was there, not even in the cell across from his.
“Err … yeah. I’m awake,” Alan replied cautiously to the air.
“Yer the Mammon kid, yeah?” the voice rang out. It seemed to be coming from just outside his cell.
“Yeah … th-that’s me.”
“Yer dad’s here for ya. Waitin’ out in the lobby. I’ve come ta take you to him.”
Alan groaned aloud. That’s right; he’d asked for his dad to come bail him out. This wasn’t going to be fun.
“You ready?” the voice called out.
He sighed. “As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.”
“I mean, are ya dressed? I don’t want to see you bare-ass nekkid longer than I had ta already.”
With a quick glance down, Alan blushed and swore. They’d left him without clothes when they’d shown him to his cell -- he was still a wolf at that time -- and Alan hadn’t thought to ask for any before he’d fallen asleep. Now there was a neat little stack of them sitting by the bars of the cell. Alan shuffled over quickly, suddenly happy no one was in the adjacent cell, and, mumbling to himself, he drew the clothes on. Hearing this, the guard stepped out from the corner. He looked at Alan flatly, and Alan gave him a blushing grimace.
“Good. Now back up and face yer cot.”
Alan did so and the sound of keys jingled behind him. He heard one fit into the lock of his cell and, with a heavy clank, the tumbler turned and the door squeaked open.
The guard took a few steps inside. “Hands behind yer back.”
Alan obliged and a rope was tied to his arms, binding them. When the man had secured the rope to his liking, he grabbed Alan by the back of the neck.
“Follow me,” was all he said.
There wasn’t much following to do. Alan was led quickly into the lobby which, for its size, seemed precariously bare of others. He’d expected there to be a bit more bustle than there was, but other than a receptionist at the front desk and a pair of watchmen talking to the side, there was only his father and one of the men from last night, one of his interrogators -- a David something -- deep in discussion. His father's face was fixed in a deep scowl, while the other’s face looked somewhat bemused. As he and the guard approached, Alan began to make out their conversation.
“… and we were lucky enough to get a name this morning, so even though we have not caught him yet, there is a better than even chance we will. Once your name gets out, for these criminals it’s like a death sentence. You’ll have everyone in Waylon’s looking for you, both citizen and Watch alike, and there are only so many places to hide when that happens. Yes, I’d say it’s only a matter of time before -- Ah, Officer Gallen.”
The guard holding Alan gave a firm salute. "Sir, I've brought the Mammon boy."
"Excellent, thank you." Turning to Alan's dad, "This is your son, Mr. Mammon, correct?"
Alan's father finally turned to look at him. Their eyes met for a moment and Alan swore he could taste the levels of anger and disappointment that his dad showed. His father looked Alan up and down, as if deciding whether he should claim him or let him rot in jail a while longer. Their eyes met again and Alan did his best to silently plead his case, shifting from foot to foot nervously. His dad stood stone still; nothing moved about him but his eyes.
After a few moments, David cleared his throat. "Mr. Mammon, I --"
"Yes," he decreed without taking his eyes off his son. "Yes, he's mine."
"Very well, then. Gallen? Please release the boy and return to your duties."
The officer let go of Alan, took out his knife, and cut him free. Then, without a word, he gave another little salute and walked back toward Alan's cell.
Alan rubbed at his wrists for a while, standing awkwardly in front of the two men. He kept his head bowed and looked slightly downward, occasionally glancing up at his father who hadn't yet taken his eyes off of him. Alan knew that look all too well, from years of living with the "Take no shit" attitude his father preached. He was liable to blow at any minute, and Alan knew it. If he just kept quiet, perhaps he could --
"Well," David said. "I know we've filled you in, but I'm sure you have a lot of questions."
"You're damn right I do!" His growl was loud and deep, causing the receptionist to look up from her paperwork at them. Alan blushed furiously.
"... Dad, could we not do this here?" Alan said under his breath.
"Why were you out last night?"
"Dad, I --"
"I was ... I got a message. Late last --"
"Oh really? And who brought you this message?"
"I-I don't know!"
"You're full of shit! Do not lie to me!"
"I-I'm not!" Alan said, trying to look as hurt by the statement as possible. Now would not be the best time to tell his dad about Kynan. Come to think of it, there'd probably never be a good time to tell him, but now especially would be bad. So, he did the only thing he could think of, modifying the truth, ever so slightly: "He-I ... I don't know who he was! I'd never seen him in my life! He ... he said that Kynan was in trouble and that I needed to go and help him. What else was I to do? He told me there wasn't much time and that I was the only one that could help him. I couldn't have gone to the Watch; they would have arrested me right away! A-and I thought I could control it enough to just go and check! I know it was stupid, but I had to see if he was alright!"
"So a stranger came up to you in the middle of the night, is what you're telling me."
"Eh ... yeah."
"Who just happened to be alright with werewolves and who didn't think twice about his own health or safety?"
Quieter, Alan said, "Yeah."
"And somehow knew about this acquaintance of yours for whom you built those damn things for and haven't seen for years?"
David, who had been on the verge of backing out of the conversation, perked up again after hearing that. Alan shot him a cautious glance, then one toward his father, and back down to the ground.
"Yeah, well, actually, I have been helping him lately," Alan said.
"Lord, with what? What could that man possibly need out of you?"
"That isn't any of your business!" Alan snapped back.
Alan's father stood back, boiling with rage at his son's sudden outburst. Alan looked away from him with a scowl and David scratched his head awkwardly. They stood there motionless for an eternity, Alan refusing to look at the eyes he could feel burning through him, and both men staring directly at him, cross-armed.
After a while, his father finally spoke again. "Maybe I should have left you in that cell. Maybe you would have learned something in there instead of coming out and feeding me this line of crap. Do you honestly expect me to believe that 'mysterious man' bullshit?"
Alan said nothing to him, only continued to look away.
"Maybe you need to be reminded of who it was that got you here in the first place. Maybe I should remind you who it was that bailed his son out of jail. You have no right -- no right! -- to do this to your family, to endanger our names, our way of living, our reputations! Your mother and I have worked to damn hard for you to just throw it away on a whim. Damn it Alan! You’re the brightest kid I've ever known and I'm not saying that because you're my son. Use your damn head once in a while, think about someone else, and stop living in your own fantasies."
"I am thinking of someone else, and those 'fantasies' earn me a living, don't they?" Alan shot back. "Are you just too proud to admit that I might be successful without learning to be a master metalworker? Or is it that I finally have a friend to care about outside of the family?"
"You're not to go anywhere near that man again, do you understand me?"
Alan mumbled under his breath; his father's eyes narrowed and his body tightened.
"What did you say?"
Staring directly at him, "I said, fuck you!"
The slap landed hard across Alan's face, and he stumbled and fell from the impact. He gathered himself on his hands and knees, breathing hard, telling himself not to cry, to not give his father that much. He closed his eyes, concentrating on his racing heartbeat and steady breathing.
"I expect you to be at work tomorrow morning," Alan's father stated. "And after that, you're to get those contraptions out of my shop. I don't reward impertinence." With that, he turned on his heel and left, bidding David farewell. When he was out of sight, the vampire made a move to help Alan up, but Alan swatted him away, standing on his own. He stared at the front doors, shaking his head, touching the spot he'd been slapped.
Fuck it, he was eighteen, damn it! He hadn't been a child for years, not since he'd moved out on his own.
"Is there a problem here?" Two heads whipped around and Duncan halted mid-step, lurching to a stop. Suddenly, he didn't feel so well.
Alan licked his lips. There was something about this new person that narrowed his field of view considerably and made the beast buried deep inside strain for control. He blinked a couple times, thinking his vision had blurred, but the only one affected was the older man. He shimmered slightly, like he stood in a lazy sunbeam, the light seeming to suspend endless streams of dust motes. Alan took a step toward him, snarling when a hand descended on his shoulder.
"Sir," said Inspector Moore in a strained voice. "Perhaps you should return to your case? This one," he looked down at Alan, "has already been seen to by Justiciar Heim." Whatever, David just wanted him away before either he or the kid did something stupid. Why the hell hadn't David known that Duncan was coming? He was always told! As the only vampire on the Watch, he took pains to avoid this particular justiciar.
Alan squirmed, but the watchman kept an iron grip on his shoulder.
David stepped backward, dragging the werewolf away, pushing through the doors to stand outside. He shook the kid until he looked up. The vampire gave the boy a small push.
"I can't!" cried Alan, massaging his temple with one hand. "What about Kynan?"
David sighed. "Look, kid, I don't know how you got mixed up with that thief, but you're better off just putting this whole thing behind you. That's what your justiciar said, wasn't it?"
Nodding, Alan frowned stubbornly. He'd had to wait for his father to come pay the fine, but, other than that, he had a clean record, and he was young, so Justiciar Heim had lectured him about being a responsible citizen and left. Hadn't been there more than five minutes.
"But," he protested, "he's one of you! Aren't you looking for him?"
"Who?" Now David was impatient. He had work to do and being outside, even this close to dusk, made his eyes hurt. He fumbled for his sunglasses.
"Kynan!" Excess energy bounced Alan from one foot to the other, swinging his arms, clasping then unclasping his hands, to finally shove them into his pockets.
"I don't know what you're talking about," David grumbled, rubbing his head.
"He's missing! Kynan's missing!" What did he have to do, beat it into these guys? Why was nobody listening?
"Then his family can come file a report," said David, reaching for the door handle. "Go home."
Alan stared as the door to the precinct slammed shut in his face. He trembled, hands going to his face. "Kynan," he whispered. "Kynan."
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