(Author's Summary: In a future where gene-shifts are common-place and democracy is a thing of the past, Tyrell, a relative of one of the world leaders, finds himself trapped in a deadly web of deception, lies, and politics in which even his friends might be his own worst enemies.
Disclaimers: All of the characters belong to yours truly.
Author's Thanks: Tsuyuno, Gilded Muse, and Edana for reviewing.
Warnings: Shounen ai, violence, murder, profanity.
Author's Notes: I decided to have the futuristic world use military time only. It's far less confusing than the civilian way of using 10:30 to mean both AM and PM, and so if you see something like 13:30, just subtract twelve hours. That means it's 1:30 PM. Thank you all very much for your reviews. I'm glad you're a member of the Hoyt fan club, Gilded Muse—he's one of the characters I have a lot of fun with. I'm really glad you like my worlds and my characters, Edana. I do work hard to develop them. Thanks again, and enjoy the next installment of Amends for the Dead!
Amends for the Dead
By Cinaed, Born of Fire
Chapter Three: Lost From Within
The next day, Tyrell was back at the university, this time with Hoyt as his second shadow. The other man still hadn't vanquished the young man's expectations of him, and continued to be as austere as ever. His only flash of brilliance had been about the walls.
The young man glanced around, looking for a flash of ebony that would signal Helice's arrival. They had agreed to meet at 10:30 sharp; she was now ten minutes late, and Tyrell was beginning to get nervous. At last, however, he saw that familiar head bobbing in the sea of students, and grinned.
"Howdy, Ty!" She stepped out from the mass and beamed at him. "Sorry I'm late. Was trying to drag Nisei with me. He's not a bleeding morning person, let me tell you!" Helice tilted her head upwards to grin innocently at the tall, muscular man whose arm she had a death grip on.
"Good day," said Nisei in a polite tone. It was quite obvious that he had planned to sleep in—his clothing was rumpled and he had a grumpy expression on his handsome features. His stained, pale blue shirt had a few buttons undone, revealing more skin than he'd probably planned to show to the public. His pale yellow strands were mussed as well, and Tyrell was amused to notice that the attractive man had what someone of the 21st century would have called a cowlick.
Tyrell extended his hand. "It's nice to meet you, Nisei." He remembered his shadow and, once they had shaken hands, motioned towards his bodyguard. "Nisei, Helice, this is Hoyt. He's going to be around to make sure everything's safe and secure for me at Varhad. Hoyt, this is Helice, the girl I met my first day here, and Nisei, Helice's boyfriend."
"A pleasure," Hoyt said. He used Nisei's same polite tone as he extended his own hand, but Tyrell got the odd suspicion that his guard disliked the blonde. He wasn't quite certain where the thought had come from, but he knew that Hoyt didn't like Helice's boyfriend at all.
Nisei shook both of their hands without a change of expression, and then turned to Helice. "I don't have class until 13:30. Now that I've met your friend, can I go back to bed?" There was a hint of sullenness to the request, and it was evident that the girl had been right in saying that the young man was not a morning person.
Helice offered her morose boyfriend a bright smile that was obviously meant to win him over. "Aw, c'mon, Nisei, don't be like this! You've got to quit sleeping in 'til twelve o'clock, anyway—it's bad for you every other day of the week, even if we can use technology to bleeding help you catch up on the sleep you lost. How about you hop along and go to the gymnasium? I'm sure no one would mind if you took a spin on the equipment."
The blonde grunted in response and rolled his dark brown eyes as soon as his girlfriend turned her attention back to Tyrell. The young man with the golden flesh seemed more likely to go back to sleep, despite Helice's wishes. Not that Tyrell could blame him. After all of his sleeping at random hours because of his illness, he was already longing to crawl back into bed.
"So, Ty, you'll really like class! Our teach is real great—and he knows what he's talking about!" Helice informed her friend excitedly as her teal eyes danced. "I sure hope you like him as much as I do. Some idiots call him a snob, but he isn't, not really, and—"
Tyrell's quiet laughter was the only thing that made the girl pause in her babbling. "I'm sure I'll like him, as long as he doesn't turn out like Professor Channing," he assured her, and then wondered why he'd thought of that particular professor. He shoved memories of that fickle man away from the forefront of his mind, not wanting to think about the oily-voiced teacher.
"Well, I don't know 'bout that guy, but I hope you like Professor Zel." Helice turned back to her boyfriend, and batted her eyelashes playfully. "Nisei, honey, maybe you can meet us after class? Snag Marisol for me? She'll want to meet Ty and Hoyt. Oh, and maybe you could snag some lunch for us and—"
"I'll do what I can." The blonde smiled faintly at his girlfriend, some of his prior petulance fading at her enthusiasm. "Mari might want to eat lunch with her brother though—Declan doesn't have school today. Can't remember why."
Helice looked momentarily disappointed before the bright smile was back on her face. "Oh well, she'll have to meet them later." Releasing Nisei's arm, she clapped her hands together. "D'you think you can meet us after class though? You know the best bleeding places to eat!"
As the blonde ran a hand through his straight tendrils and tried (without success) to comb back his cowlick, he gave a slight shrug of his broad shoulders. "Probably, though I might have to skip out after a few minutes. Professor Belarus will murder me if I'm late again."
"Well, I certainly don't want you to kick the bucket, honey," Helice assured her boyfriend, a teasing note to her words. "Now, go to the gymnasium and we'll see you later." She flapped her hands at him, and laughed when he rolled his eyes. "Don't gimme that look, Sei-baby. Go. Shoo." Watching as the blonde rolled his eyes again and then walked off, Helice turned to Tyrell and grinned triumphantly. "And that is how you handle someone who definitely ain't a morning person, Ty."
"I'll take your word for it," he murmured, and watched from the corner of his eye as Nisei rubbed at the cowlick with a violent, irritated gesture. Then the blonde vanished into the hordes of students who were moving past the building and Tyrell refocused his attention on Helice. "So why do people consider the professor a…a snob?" It would take some time adjusting to the girl's use of 21st century slang. The young man was now very glad that his mother had forced him to watch documentaries of that time, a period of history when mankind had still been delusional enough to think that democracy worked.
"Probably because I am one." The husky comment was cheerful and came from behind Tyrell, making the young man jump in surprise before turning towards the speaker. The man looked too young to be a professor, only in his mid-thirties or so. He was short, about five-seven or five-eight, with a scrawniness to his frame that made Tyrell suspect that the professor often forgot to eat. Either that, or he was the sort of fellow who ate and ate and ate and never gained an ounce. Pushing his silver-rimmed glasses away from the tip of his nose where they had waiting to fall, the man beamed at him. "You must be Master Tyrell."
"Yes, sir. You're Professor Zelig?"
"That's my designation, but most of my students call me Professor Zel." The man couldn't seem to stay still—his long, slender fingers were constantly pushing his glasses back to the bridge of his nose or tucking a stray strand of crimson behind his ear. He grimaced, although there was no actual pain or annoyance in his expression. "They overheard my sister call me Zel, and it unfortunately stuck."
"Aw, you know you bleeding love your nickname, Professor Zel," Helice teased, and grinned at the redhead when he wrinkled his nose and pretended to ignore her. She turned towards Tyrell and said, "The professor here isn't a snob, not really. You just have to look past a lot of flaws in personality, is all."
"Helice, if you keep this up, I'll start telling him some of your flaws," Professor Zelig said. The gentle warning made the girl flush and go mute, and then the professor continued. "Class is going to begin soon. How about you all come inside?" His gaze landed upon Hoyt and he looked momentarily puzzled. "Who're you?"
When Hoyt stared back without responding, his dirt brown eyes vacant, Tyrell sighed and supplied his earlier explanation once more. "I hope you don't mind him sitting in the back of the class, Professor."
Professor Zelig smiled. "Not at all. I might even teach him a few things." He winked at the bodyguard and announced, "I hope you're interested in history, Master Hoyt."
The title surprised Tyrell—and apparently Hoyt as well, for those lifeless eyes widened for a moment, and his features tightened with an unknown emotion. Then his expression went blank once more, and Hoyt said dully, "I'm Hoyt, Professor. Just Hoyt."
"My mistake." Still, there was no note of apology in the redhead's words. Instead there was a flash of something akin to smugness in Professor Zelig's eyes, a callous self-satisfaction at causing the bodyguard to lose his composure. In that instant, Tyrell began to understand why some people considered the man conceited.
Helice seemed oblivious to the fact that Professor Zelig had been mocking the bodyguard, and grinned before she grabbed Tyrell's arm. "C'mon, Ty, we can get front-row seats and you can see how great Professor Zel is at teaching us stuff. Let's go inside."
Without knowing why, Tyrell found himself glancing between his bodyguard and his professor once more. There was tension in Hoyt's features if the young man looked hard enough, and continued smugness in Professor Zelig's leaf green eyes. Professor Zelig had made an enemy of Hoyt today, and the older man seemed to relish the guardian's intense dislike.
Tyrell was beginning to dislike the professor as well, despite Helice's apparent adoration of him. After all, Nisei had turned out be rather discourteous. Perhaps the girl was just a bad judge of character….
"I hope Nisei can take us out to eat." Helice's cat-like eyes were darkened with anxiety as she glanced around for her boyfriend once more. She fidgeted. "I want you to enjoy the best bleeding food on your first real day of Varhad."
Tyrell stayed silent. Professor Zelig was indeed an excellent teacher, and the young man had enjoyed the animated discussion the class had had about the technology of the 20th century. Imagine, having a computer that filled an entire room! Still, Tyrell couldn't shake the feeling that the professor was not a man he wanted as a friend—or as an enemy.
The black-haired girl looked up, and a smile lit up her features. "Sei-baby!" She flung herself at her boyfriend as Tyrell stared in shock.
During the past few hours, Nisei had gone through a complete transformation. Instead of his slovenly clothes and sullen demeanor, he was now in unwrinkled, black pants and a white dress shirt that had every button fastened. The cowlick had been tamed, and the blonde wore a warm, almost radiant smile on his face that made him seem like an entirely new person. Nisei hugged his girlfriend to him and said, "Sorry about being so obnoxious this morning. I got us reservations at Spencer's to make up for it."
"Really? Spencer's?" Helice squeaked the words, her eyes wide. "How'd you manage that?"
"One of the waiters there is a friend of the family, and when I mentioned that we wanted to show a new student the best restaurant in the city, he told me that there'd been an opening for 12:30." Nisei was surprisingly modest as he shrugged and grinned. Now that his disposition had taken a turn for the better, it was easy to see why he and Helice were together. "I'll have to skip out early for Professor Belarus' class, but you three can enjoy the meal without me." To Tyrell, the blonde said, "I'll pay for you and Hoyt. Consider it a welcoming present."
Tyrell blinked. How could Nisei have changed so much in just a few hours? He was like a different person. And besides, who in their right mind would actually bother to pay for the meal of an emir's relative? Tyrell could buy the most expensive restaurant in the city without needing to worry about depleting a thousandth of his wealth, and everyone knew it, including Nisei. So why would the blonde offer to spend his own, not as immense, capital on practically strangers? He opened his mouth to argue, but Hoyt was already speaking.
"You won't need to pay for me, sir." The bodyguard gazed at Nisei, and yet again Tyrell got the impression that Hoyt disliked the golden-skinned man. "I can afford to feed myself. Even at Spencer's."
Nisei met his gaze and didn't blink. "Fine. I'll admit I'm bribing you. I was rude this morning, and I want to make amends." There was a pause, but Hoyt didn't respond. Some of the former Nisei returned as the blonde snorted and rolled his eyes. "Is there any way to apologize that won't wound your pride?" Sarcasm layered the inquiry.
"No. I don't need any apologies."
Tyrell decided to interject. "And you really don't need to pay for my meal either. Helice said you weren't a morning person, so I didn't hold you responsible for any rudeness. How about we go to that restaurant now?"
With a final glance towards the stoical bodyguard, Nisei at last nodded. "All right. C'mon, I'll drive us over in my car. Mari is off visiting Declan, but she said she can't wait to meet you."
His car turned out to be a fairly new one, a hover version that gleamed gold, almost the same shade as Nisei's flesh. Gazing at the hover-car, Tyrell wondered how much money Nisei had. He had not yet seen the crystal that signaled the blonde's status in the world, but he was apparently well to do. Hopping into the car with everyone else, Tyrell relaxed against the seat, which molded to fit his body perfectly. As he closed his eyes for a moment, he smiled to himself. There had been no relapses, and he felt fine. Doctor Wainwright had been right—Tyrell was slowly but surely getting over his illness. He couldn't wait to tell the doctor—
"We're here," announced Nisei a second later, making Tyrell open his eyes in surprise.
He felt disorientated for a moment, and realized that he had drifted off to sleep for the short car ride. Blushing as Helice smirked at him, Tyrell scrambled from the car and ignored the questioning look she directed towards him. He was fine! His body had just taken the opportunity of a quick nap, that was all. He resisted the urge to stretch, and instead turned his gaze upon the restaurant. Even from his initial glance, Tyrell knew it was the most expensive place to dine in the entire city.
"Nisei! How're you?" The maître d' who met them at the door beamed at the man. "Your table is ready."
Nisei returned the broad smile. "I'm doing well, Alfred. Thank you for helping me to get a reservation at such short notice. How's your wife?"
"Just fine, just fine." The garnet-red crystal on the forehead of the maître d' hummed, and he looked apologetic. He beckoned a waitress to his side. Introducing her as Lydia, he said she'd show them to their table, but that he had something to attend to. Lydia, blushing and timid, showed them to the table, which was in a section away from the most prying eyes. After asking what beverages they would prefer, the shy waitress hurried away and left the quartet to converse with each other.
"So, you went to Nellnor for two years before coming to Varhad." Nisei broke the silence, and smiled at Tyrell. Yet again the younger man was astonished at the difference between that morning's Nisei and this afternoon's one. "How different are the two schools?"
Tyrell thought of Professor Channing and his oily smile, and then of Professor Zelig and the cruelness lurking behind his pale green eyes. "Not very different," he said after a moment, and offered the other man a wry smile. "I've only been to one class, of course. Ask me in a week or so, and I'll probably be able to answer you better."
Nisei laughed. "All right, I will." Running a hand through his hair, he asked, "What's your major then?"
Hesitating for a moment, Tyrell absently rubbed at his shoulder. Although his hair and eye coloring made his blood relation to an emir obvious, no one in the room had seen the silver-colored crystal that marked him as the son of a high-ranking government official. "Government Administration," he said at last, and was pleased at how casual he had made his tone. No one could have guessed that he and his father had exchanged furious words over his major. No one could have guessed that Tyrell had wanted to go into Computer Mechanics instead.
"I'm in my senior year of Education," Nisei said, which surprised Tyrell. He hadn't thought of the blonde as someone who'd want to go into the teaching field, especially after showing that he was so well off. Not many people would enjoy descending from prestige and luxury to the meager salary of an educator.
"Really? What age group?"
"Youth, ages six to twelve, mostly."
"My Nisei honey has always loved children," Helice piped up, and sounded proud of her boyfriend. "Children always like him. He's got charisma with 'em or something."
A blush spread across the blonde's face, and he looked torn between embarrassment and pleasure. "I just know how to handle them, that's all," he murmured, and looked almost grateful when the waitress hurried over with their drinks, effectively instilling a hiatus in the conversation. No one commented when Hoyt tasted Tyrell's drink, everyone seeming to take it in stride.
"What's your major?" Tyrell asked Helice once the silence had begun to grow uncomfortable.
"Law Enforcement," was her cheerful response.
He choked on his water and ended up coughing, his eyes stinging and wanting to tear from the hacking that made his entire body shudder for a moment. Fishing in his bag for his eye drops, he managed to control his breathing and let a few droplets soothe his irritated eyes. Tyrell ignored Hoyt, who had risen to his feet at the first cough, and managed a smile. "Sorry, the water went down the wrong tube."
Still, Helice in Law Enforcement? He couldn't imagine the bubbly girl learning to handle a gun and arrest those who broke the laws that the emir had created. He couldn't imagine her using that gun to end someone's life.
Hoyt sat down, slowly, any concern that might have been on his face gone before Tyrell could glance at him. The bodyguard was still a bit on edge, and glowered at the nervous waitress when she returned, handing them the menus with a stammered apology for her forgetfulness.
Tyrell opened his menu, and barely kept himself from raising an eyebrow at the price. How could Nisei afford this? For that matter, how could Helice, the daughter of a lower class professor, afford this? He snuck a glance at Hoyt to try and see what the bodyguard thought of the price, but there was only a vacant look on the man's face as his gaze traveled along the inked words of the menu.
"Anybody know what they're eating?" Helice asked after a few minutes, closing hers with a loud thump. The waitress, hearing her inquiry, drifted closer to the table, a handheld computer in her trembling hands. "I'm having the Europa lasagna with a side order of garlic bread and a salad. I love Italian."
"Italian?" Tyrell repeated, puzzled. Then he remembered. Back when democracy had reigned, mankind hadn't understood that uniting each continent under a small group of leaders was the way to ensure peace. There had been—what was the word, oh yes, nations—that had made up bits and pieces of the continents. Utter chaos…. If he recalled correctly from his Ancient Geography class, Italian meant the food was from a nation called Italy, which was on the lower end of Europa. The area was famous for its wine and cheese. "Oh yes, food from Europa is wonderful." He closed his menu as well before saying, with a smile towards the nervous waitress, "I'd like the smoked salmon with a salad and side order of green beans."
"Just a large salad for me, please," said Nisei. At Helice's frown, he smiled a little. "You know I'm a vegetarian, Helice. Nothing you can say will get me to eat steak."
A vegetarian? Now that was a rare thing in today's society. Hardly anyone cared about whether or not a cow or a chicken had died to feed humans now. After all, humans were superior to all animals on earth, and it was an "eat or be eaten" world. Vegetarians were as rare as people who decided not to gene-shift. Tyrell glanced at Nisei, and wondered what had caused the man to become a vegetarian. He just kept surprising Tyrell again and again.
"Steak, medium rare, with breadsticks and asparagus." Hoyt, without speaking further, gathered the menus and handed them to the waitress, who tucked them under her arm.
"What—what sort of dressing would y'all like on your salad?" The stammering had brought out an accent in the young woman's voice, one that said Lydia was from somewhere in the middle of Amerika, on the eastern coastline. Most accents had vanished with the continued advancement of technology that allowed people to live anywhere, and Tyrell always listened to rare accents with pleasure. For some reason he particularly liked the soft, drawling quality of the waitress's voice.
Once the waitress had vanished from sight, he returned his attention to Helice. "So, what made you decide to go into Law Enforcement?"
To his surprise, the normally dynamic girl went still, her teal eyes darkening with a foreign emotion. It took a moment for Tyrell to recognize the sentiment as sorrow. His father had never shown grief in front of him, and so he could only think back upon times when his mother had gotten a melancholy expression on her face. "My sister was murdered when I was ten. The Regulators found her killer and brought him to justice. I want to be able to do the same for others."
Nisei reached out, and gently touched Helice's shoulder. There were no words spoken between the two, but Tyrell got the impression that the man was trying to ease his girlfriend's sorrow.
Not knowing what to say, Tyrell cleared his throat. "I'm—I'm sorry about your sister." For a second, there were words so eager to leap from his lips that they got stuck in his throat, lodging there like a lump. After two, three swallows, they were gone, banished to the shadows of his own anguished heart. He didn't want to burden Helice with his own sob story, that he'd witnessed his mother's murder, seen her—
"I'm very sorry. I didn't mean to dredge up old memories," he said, and knew his voice had roughened with his own desperation to keep his memories at bay.
Helice forced a smile, her eyes still darkened by old grief. "You didn't know. Not many folks do. Well, not many people ask me why I'm going into Law Enforcement." Her smile turned stronger, the teal returning to its normal shade. "They all think I'm doing it for the money."
Tyrell made himself laugh at her joke, for Regulators were paid just a bit more than educators, but not by much. Ignoring his stomach, which was roiling at the bad memories that had been stirred by the conversation, he cleared his throat. "I'm sure you'll make a great Regulator."
The girl beamed, apparently over the distressing memories. "Thank you, sweetie. I hope I will be." She turned a delighted grin upon the waitress as she returned with their salads. "Now this is why I bleeding love Spencer's! The service is faster than the speed of light!"
At that, they journeyed into lighter conversation, Helice telling Tyrell about more of the professors, who to trust and who to keep quiet in front of. Of course, judging by how much he disliked Professor Zelig, Helice's apparent idol, Tyrell wasn't about to take her advice anytime soon. Still, he enjoyed watching Nisei try to keep her from flailing her arms too wildly whenever she got very animated by the conversation. It was only when Nisei glanced at the nearby clock and cursed that the spell was broken.
"I'm going to be late," the blonde groaned, abandoning his second helping of desert. Thrusting a hand into his pocket, he pulled out some wads of currency and put them on the table. "Here's my share." He reached out to give Helice a hug, and Tyrell finally saw a flash of a bronze crystal on the palm of Nisei's hand, signaling him to be the son of a lower ranked government official. Well, that explained the wealth.
After saying good-bye to the still-cursing blonde, Tyrell silently counted the money that Nisei had left. There was far too much of it to be only his share, and he frowned until realizing that it was precisely the amount needed to pay for Nisei and Helice's meal, plus extra for the tip. So that was how Helice could afford to eat at a place like Spencer's! Tyrell supposed it didn't matter—after all, Helice obviously wasn't after Nisei for his money if she knew he was going into teaching and abandoning his wealth.
"So, you're Ty's bodyguard." Helice beamed at Hoyt. "Where're you from?"
"Nowhere in particular."
The girl didn't seem deterred by Hoyt's terse answer. "Did you move around a lot then?" When the bodyguard simply nodded, she laughed. "Sounds like fun to me."
Hoyt shrugged. "It was fine. You get used to moving every few years, after a while."
"Why'd you move around? Does your father have a job that makes him travel?"
The bodyguard stared at her, and, unknowingly echoing Mateo, asked, "Do you always ask so many questions?" This, however, was not a warning like Tyrell's father's had been, just an offhand question that expected a truthful answer.
As she had before, she grinned. "Only when I think I can get some answers."
Helice blinked, and a puzzled expression crossed her face. "Excuse me?"
"You won't get any more answers from me," Hoyt said matter-of-factly. "I don't like questions."
Both Tyrell and Helice looked at the bodyguard in surprise, but he simply pulled out some money and paid for his share of the bill.
(To be continued….)