neil and any of the fox fam with #1? i live for angst
01: “I’m sorry.”
In retrospect, they really should’ve hired some sort of security for the court. It sits nestled into campus like Palmetto’s gaudy oversized jewel, bright bright white like glaring snow, impossible to pass by without some part of you wanting to deface it.
It’s also like a neat little box with Neil’s name on the label. Even though his biggest enemies are mercifully holding back with an open palm and a cocked gun, he has a host of new people to fight since he’s been in the news. A thousand more misguided fans trying to come calling.
A year ago he would’ve understood that staying at Palmetto is like a wanted man staying in a burning house, waiting for the smoke or the police to get him first. But Neil has a taste for smoke, now. It’s so easy to stay at the court, where he’s surrounded by family — most of whom have mile long protective streaks and criminal records like the markings on poisonous snakes.
He’s not worried. He has Andrew simmering at his side with the best right hook he’s ever seen and a clinical willingness to kill someone if the occasion should call for it. He’s wasn’t worried. He should’ve been worried.
It’s a former Raven who ends up coming for him; someone who took the tyranny of Riko’s regime and tried to shrug the crown on himself. Someone who got a taste for the sweet, dark paralysis of a life that’s never yours.
Neil never leaves a door to close without waiting for the click of the latch, so he can’t imagine how this bulky, wild-eyed person came to be facing him in the heart of the court, palming a gun from his pocket into a threat at half mast.
Neil’s head is a full suitcase. He can’t even see through the panic. There’s stuffing coming out of his eyes and all he wants to do is gather it up and run.
It’s stupid, really, that he hadn’t properly tried to see this coming. He’d discarded the possibility and settled into the flames.
The guy— Spencer?— is a raven dealer with an upper body that could incapacitate Neil with one well-placed collision. He watches the old raven line number shift on his chest as he shoulders the door to the court open. Neil considers the heft of a ball still in his racquet. His aim isn’t precise enough to take out the gun if Spencer still has the presence of mind to be a moving target. Kevin would know how to calculate his odds and find an angle that works, but all Neil has is his nerve and his speed.
“If rumour serves, you’ve changed a lot, Nathaniel.”
Neil shifts backwards, adjusting his grip and breathing through the familiarity of the gesture. Hunted, defended, retreating.