"You...are...a...jerk." The boy was panting pathetically, but his stare overrode that sign of weakness.
"I lied for you."
"Didn't do a very thorough job," Sev pointed out honestly. "Looks to me like it backfired."
"I lied for you!" Avery's eyebrows contorted his expression into something so...unexpected, that it caused Sev to take his words into deep consideration.
"You knew? Why didn't you just...let him? I could have handled it."
"Handled it? Sev, is this your idea of handing it? And then, just running away like that! He's hurt!"
"Yeah?" Severin spat, his fiery eyes tracing the contours of his companion's tensed upper half. "So am I. Besides, how could that have possibly been my fault? That kind of thing doesn't just--"
"It was," Avery interrupted, without missing a beat. "I'm not falling for it. I know you, Sev. That wasn't...it wasn't natural."
Severin scowled, letting out a troubled sigh. The worst of it wasn't that Avery saw straight through his lies, but that he was the only one who could. "I know. I--I didn't mean to. I didn't start the fire, though."
"But you said--"
"That I caused it," Sev finished impatiently. "Because I know it wouldn't have happened if I weren't there. It was because of me that those people were hurt, not some (dang) accident."
Avery simply continued to stare at his feet, then the ground beneath them... Everything was subjected to his gaze, everything except his best friend. "...through the window," he muttered, obviously not realizing he had said the senseless phrase aloud until Sev replied with a confused tone.
"Wh--? Oh. Er... Do you know what started the fire?" He paused, waiting for a response. When Sev shook his head quickly, he continued, "The windows were open. I mean, that's what I've heard... They were, weren't they?"
"Yes...?" The clueless answer sounded more like another question.
"Well, it only makes sense that something flammable just blew on top of the stove and caught fire, right?"
"Sure. Whatever you say," Sev shot back in an irritated monotone that thrived with everything he hadn't said. The last thing he wanted to do was stand here and discuss the plausible ways his home could have been completely destroyed. All he kenw was that he had nothing to come back to--nowhere to run.
"All I'm saying is that... It couldn't have anything to do with you," sighed Avery.
"But what happened a few minutes ago is all my fault?"
Avery opened his mouth to argue, stuttered incoherently, and closed it again. Severin restrained himself from smirking--he was fooling his best friend. So easily...
Interrupting his train of thought, sirens droned on in the distance. Both he and Avery jumped, and his heart rate peaked, as it had done the previous night on a similar occasion. He met his friend's glazed eyes desperately. "I was never here."
"Sev, it isn't your fault!"
"Would you make up your (flipping) mind?!" Sev hissed, wrenching himself away from the narrow path of light that peeked in on them. Gradually, flecks of alternating red and blue became visible, grazing trees and the sides of buildings in their rotations.
Avery seemed to battle with himself for a brief moment as Sev slipped expertly out of view. Then, he lurched forward, matching his pace to that of the escapee; which, he grimly realized, he had also chosen to become.
"Get away," Severin muttered under his breath. "You're risking yourself."
"I'm coming with you," Avery insisted loyally.
"I don't know where I'm going! Get away!"
"GO!" Sev shouted, eyeing the suspicious officer who had already spotted him. Instead of speeding up, as Avery did obediently, Severin stumbled to a halt and held the policeman's gaze intently.
"Why the rush?" the man inquired in a grumble.
"There's no rush, Sir," Sev replied, head cocked and face pulled into a smile. Behind the approaching officer emerged another, clad in an identical uniform. The newcomer's arm was outstretched, clenching a weapon of dull metal. Sev did not flinch, despite all the reasion he had for fear.
"Honesty is the best policy, boy. Your face is plastered all over town. Who knew we'd handle two cases for the price of one? Put your hands up where I can see them."
"There's a boy back there," Sev jerked his head to where had come, "practically dying. I'm not more important than he is, am I?"
"He'll be fine, he's being taken care of. We just tagged along to supervise. Hands up, boy." The first officer simply stood, surveying Sev with an unnerving sense of recognization.
Severin glared devillishly at the second cop, shook his head no, grabbed Avery roughly by his forearm, and began to take off. A sudden blast all but shook the ground. Instinctively, Sev and Avery dropped to their knees. However, the sounds of the boys hitting the ground were followed by the same behind them. Then, ringing silence.
Slowly, Severin raised his head and glanced back. Laid out before him was the most unexpected scene yet. The first officer was much closer to the ground now, slumped forward and clutching his right hand around his bloody left arm. The second was still standing, his mouth ajar in shock. The gun clattered hopelessly to the hard earth below him.