The Queen had given him orders. He’d just chosen not to follow them. The son cannot always obey the mother after all, no matter how much he is afraid of her.
And he was very afraid. But he’d do anything to earn her forgiveness.
He snuck to the jail again at night, using his Shaded powers to blend and move through the shadows. He found her awake in her cell, later than usual.
“I thought you were asleep,” he said quietly. She didn’t reply.
He sighed. “Still not talking, hm?” He leaned against the wall across from her. She didn’t respond.
“I’ll have to make this quick,” he whispered, though he doubted she even cared at this point whether or not he came at all. “I’m not supposed to be here.”
She blinked her brown eyes at him- a question.
“My mother doesn’t want me near you.” He explained, then added, “But that won’t stop me from coming.”
Was that concern in her eyes? He couldn’t be sure. But he was intent on hanging on to any sign that said she still cared about him.
His ShadowReach was picking up vibrations- footsteps- beyond the prison. More footsteps than usual, they didn’t need that many guards in the Black Palace. He frowned. Glancing at her, he knew she had heard it too.
He moved to get up when her hand reached over and caught his. He looked at her in confusion. Her round eyes were wide and pleading, he saw small sparks of excitement behind them.
“What is it?” he asked. The footsteps were nearing.
She stayed silent, her hand gripping his wrist firmly. She wasn’t letting go. He patted her fingers gently. She hadn’t touched him in a long time- so why now?
Suddenly, the prison door burst open. He scrambled to his feet, tugging at his wrist, but she held on. People wearing black uniforms streamed into the jail, busting open cell bars, freeing their captured friends and comrades. His eyes caught the all too familiar red symbols on their jacket. He’d once worn the same uniform.
One of the Rebellion soldiers saw them and yelled her name. He paused when he saw the Shaded Darkling standing next to her.
“You,” he breathed. “It’s you.”
“Kyle?” the Darkling said uncertainly.
“Traitor!” hissed Kyle and he lunged. The Darkling Prince dodged the slash of Kyle’s sword. Then, she stepped between them.
“Get out of the way,” snarled Kyle, eyes never leaving the Darkling.
She didn’t move. “He’s not worth it, Kyle.” Behind her, the Darkling winced. He’d been looking forward to the day when she’d speak to him again- he hadn’t imagined it would be this.
Kyle spat on the ground. “You don’t understand. He betrayed us all. He’s the reason Stacy’s dead, Kieth is dead, Brook is dead, it’s all his fault. And to think he was once our leader.”
At this, the Darkling’s eyes blazed red, thin black smoke began rising from his fingers. He bared the fangs that had drunk the life out of so many people. She noticed this, foresaw danger, and turned to face him. Calm brown eyes met his, he bit his lip and looked away, clenching his fists until the smoke disappeared. By now, the rest of the Rebellion soldiers were watching in awe at their former leader’s new power.
Kyle’s eyes were still full of hostility and distrust as he signaled to the soldiers that it was time to leave.
“You coming?” he said to her as everyone, the soldiers and prisoners, filed silently out of the prison.
“What, you’re leaving?” The Shaded Darkling stared at her in disbelief.
She gave him a small nod. “The Rebellion needs a Darkling.”
And suddenly, she said, “Come with us.”
He blinked at her in surprise. Kyle opened his mouth to protest, but she kept going.
“You’re their leader- if anyone can lead them to victory, it’s you. I can’t do this, I don’t even know everything there is to being an Era Darkling. I-”
“I can’t.” He didn’t dare meet her gaze as he said it. “You know as well as I do I’m not getting a second chance. There’s no life for me in the Rebellion.”
Silence. Kyle was quietly fuming to the side, working his fingers impatiently. The Shaded Darkling continued to stare at the ground, feeling her eyes on his face.
“So- I guess- there’s no life with me?” she whispered.
He started to say no, but realized with a sickening jolt it was true- they were not meant to be. When he didn’t say anything, she lowered her head…
And was gone.
He didn’t realize how much he loved her until now.