Eduard stumbles into the street, tripping over himself. What does Banshee mean he didn’t kill her? He saw him with his own eyes. He was there in the front row.
But what if it was all a hoax?
The voice is quiet, but he can hear the urgency in the tone. Harlem jogs up to him, snapping Eduard out of his trance and pulling him into the present.
“Yeah?” Eduard asks, concern flooding its way through his system.
Harlem looks around nervously and steps closer to him after stopping himself. He waits until the group of people walking on the sidewalk passes by before saying anything else. He’s breathing hard and he’s fidgety. Harlem’s presence alerts Eduard. Something’s happened. Something out of the ordinary, or else he wouldn’t be back so soon. He just recently had the talk with him about the Maskless a few days ago…
“My dad’s back.”
“What?” Eduard asks, more out of shock than as a question. Quill had been missing for a few days now, and Harlem’s been looking all around the city to find him. And now he’s back without any announcement at all or anything?
Harlem nods quickly. “What are we going to do?”
Eduard feels the wheels turning in his head as he snaps his focus back to Harlem’s mask.
“Get me in there.” Eduard says in a tone that would seem threatening to anyone else, but it’s the voice of a natural-born leader. “I want to see what’s going on with my own eyes.”
Harlem nods and looks around again. “Come on, then.”
After grabbing Eduard’s white mask from his room so they don’t have any trouble getting into the building, the boys start walking briskly down the sidewalk towards the city hall building, trying not to seem suspicious. They’re stopped at the doors, but the security guard recognizes Harlem and lets both of them without any questions asked.
Eduard pushes away the memories of Becca as he walks through the door and takes a deep breath.
She’s gone, he keeps reminding himself.
And then he sees Quill.
He’s just standing, his arms behind his back and the lights casting eerie shadows on his mocking mask. Anger lights like fire inside of him as the memory of that night flashes in his mind, but he suppresses it as they approach the man in the dark clothes. Something seems different about him, but Eduard can’t place his finger on what it is.
People seem to pass around him like ghosts, as if they mean nothing to the image of the man in the mask. The man that pulled Eduard from the Light Clan, the man who threatened Becca and held a gun up to her, the man who covered her in all black and buried her six feet deep in the ground.
Eduard clenches his fists as he fights his emotions with every ounce of strength he can muster up. He can’t blow it. Not now. He could find who killed her, what’s going on… He could find a way to beat Quill, to beat the system, the society, the main government.
“Father,” Harlem starts as they reach him.
Someone in a white mask with a big blue spot of paint covering one side of his face steps in the way.
“Excuse me? That’s my father—”
“Yes, I understand,” the man says. The voice sends something ringing in Eduard’s brain. He knows that voice. But whose is it? “The Leader of the Clans has contracted a case of laryngitis, and can’t talk until he’s well again. If you have any questions, you can go through me.” He holds out his hand. “Thomas is the name.”
“Harlem,” Harlem says as he shakes his hand back and looks at his father. “When will he be able to talk again?”
Thomas shrugs. “Don’t know yet. Hopefully before the Leader of the State gets here.”
Harlem nods. “Well, alright. But I just needed to get something from his office, is all.”
“Whoa,” Thomas holds out an arm to stop Eduard and Harlem from going down the hallway that holds the room. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. You father wouldn’t like that, I’m sure.”
“Dad?” Harlem says over Thomas’s shoulder, and Quill looks at Thomas and nods. “See? It’s okay. Let me go.”
Thomas nods and puts his hand down. Eduard follows Harlem as they walk casually past the people and to the office. They say nothing, waiting until the door closes behind them and Harlem turns back around to inspect the room.
“It’s exactly the same,” Harlem breathes as he walks behind his father’s desk.
“You were expecting something different?” Eduard asks, walking over to the wall holding the photos of past Leaders. “Even the pictures are the same.”
“They’re not the same,” Harlem says, sounding annoyed. “Only their mask is.”
Eduard shakes his head and turns back into the room. He starts shuffling through papers on top of the desk.
“What are you looking for, anyway?” Eduard asks.
“Travel logs,” Harlem says, rummaging through a desk drawer. “Every time my dad leaves, he has to fill out a form.”
“And why would that help?”
Harlem doesn’t answer.
Eduard sighs and shifts through some more papers as he tries to preoccupy his brain from thinking about Becca, about how much he put on the line for her, about how much she willingly put on the line for the Maskless, about the changing she went through as she got deeper into the rebellion… If he would have never offered for her to be the Face… If she would have just lived a normal life in the Dark Clan, she’d probably be alive now.
“Aha!” Harlem exclaims, standing up and holding a small stack of papers. “Found them.”
He flips through the pages, slowing down as he gets to the last page.
“I knew it,” he whispers.
“What?” Eduard asks, walking over to peer at the paper.
“See that space?” He points. “It’s blank. He didn’t go anywhere purposely…”
“What are you saying?”
“That’s not my dad out there. That’s an imposter.”