The next week went by quickly. Devin seemed to be growing increasingly more introverted. He continued to spend more time sleeping and staying under his sheets. Whenever he glanced at Darian, he muttered under his breath, often glaring in his direction. Darian was finding it increasingly more difficult to have conversations with him, and this caused Darian to become very restless. Devin had always been a rock from which he could stand on. He was someone that was part of Darian’s life as far back as he could remember anymore and was the only person he could talk to about anything.
Of course, Devin seemed to have been right about his association with the guards. Other prisoners seemed to be giving him increasingly dirty glares. The stories that once painted him as a hero who fought the guards, were now morphing into him being a prison snitch who snitched on the wrong person. Many of the prisoners seemed to selectively forget it was guards who had attacked him some time ago, as long as it continued to feed their desire to gossip. Within a few days, the tales had spread across the entire prison and Darian found himself alone with no one to speak to, trying to ignore the occasional glares he received whenever he met someone’s eyes.
Darian had managed to get some information from Devin, who grudgingly suggested that he avoid the gym and to stay low. The more noticeable he became, the more likely he would trigger one of the prisoners to do something about it. Beiromon stayed apart from the prisoners as well. Any prisoner who moved towards him received an icy stare, which seemed to stave even the hardest of criminals. He ate alone and had no cellmate.
Before the rumors of Darian associating with guards spread, he had managed to ferret out from some of the prisoners that Beiromon was some sort of rebel. He had been in prison for years after being caught spreading rebellion. He had been part of the group called the Lancers. Darian noted that the group involved was the same group as the blue-eyed woman from his past. He really couldn’t remember anything else, just those eyes, angry and accusing, and her dead sister at his feet.
The guards also ignored Darian. Most of them treated him as they treated every other prisoner, with silent indifference. Unfortunately, every once in a while he saw a glare from one of them as well. Darian did not see either Tifran or Joseph. He would have considered asking, but he knew the other prisoners were listening and did not want to further aggravate his situation. He spent most of his time looking inward; trying to remember what put him in this situation in the first place. He couldn’t remember. He didn’t think he had been lying when he said a noble had put him there. Then again, he couldn’t remember why either. Did he kill a man? The memories were so muddled.
He often contemplated why his visions came at random. Why his intuition seemed to help him one moment, and then contradict itself the next. For example, why would he have gotten himself beaten up to be well-liked by the prisoners, only to associate with the guards and have that opinion change? Where had his intuition been when he got himself into that kind of trouble? At least, up to that point, the prisoners had left him alone. He supposed he could consider that a certain kind of luck. Of course, that all changed within a day.
After a while of feeling restless at being trapped in a room with the increasingly depressing Devin, Darian decided to go to the gym during the allocated period. He had not faced anything more than dirty looks at the mess hall, and figured that a run could assist in clearing his head. Beiromon was there, in a corner by himself. He sat down, his eyes closed with his hands to either side. Although he appeared to be at rest, he had a certain aura about him of someone ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.
Darian began running, letting his mind wander as he often did. He had come to the conclusion that if he wanted to solve the mystery behind the girl from the Lancers, he would need to find some way to get into Beiromon’s good graces. It seemed like that task would become impossible, especially given his growing reputation. He looked inward, hoping for a little bit of that intuition or insight to guide his way. He felt nothing. It was incredibly frustrating, like a thirsty man trying to drink water, only to have it continually slip through his fingers before it reached his mouth.
Darian dived to the floor, his legs sliding as he did. He couldn’t say why he did it; it seemed to hit him as an impulse. As his feet slid an object zoomed near where his head would have been. He slid a couple of feet before he could stabilize himself and turn back. Three prisoners were nearby. He recognized them as the first three to approach him the first day he had been in the gym. The man, Frez had been his name, had a startled look on his face that quickly turned to anger.
He spat to his side before approaching, a large wooden board to his side he had somehow acquired, “You rat, I don’t know how you found out about our planned escape, but telling those guards will be the last thing you ever do.”
Escape? The riot. Darian’s mind worked quickly. That must have been why the prisoners were so angry. He warned some guards about some kind of plan of theirs. Frez closed the distance quickly; he must not have had too much time before the guards arrived. Darian became vaguely aware that everyone in the gym was watching the four of them. Frez’s followers fanned out to take him at either side in case he bolted. His back hit a wall. He hadn’t even been aware he was backing up.
Frez grinned; it was a cruel grin that engulfed his entire face. Darian wondered what Frez had done to put himself there. Murder probably. Why had Darian ever wanted to be liked by these people? He didn’t care about these people. These people were scum. He couldn’t remember what he had done to get here, why he had been experimented on. But all he could feel now was anger. Hot white rage at being targeted for revealing things he hadn’t even been aware of. Angry for having his memory, his ideals, and his very life stripped away from him. He was ready to fight back, to take on all three of them, heck, to take on the entire prison. Suddenly, for an instant, he knew he could.
Frez raised the wooden club, ready to bring it down on Darian. Darian acted first. His hand shot out like lighting, confident in its capacity to strike true. The fingers of his flat palm struck Frez’s throat. He did not feel or hear any indication that he had collapsed Frez’s trachea, but the shock of it still disorientated the man. The wooden club fell but lacked the vigor and force Frez had intended it to have. Darian stepped forward as Frez stumbled back. The club struck the floor harmlessly. Another strike with his hands and the club was in his hands instead. Frez let it go, his hands going to his throat as he continued to step back.
Darian attempted to lift the club, but it was far heavier than he could handle. He pulled it up and swung it, giving a low swing that managed to strike one of Frez’s followers in the stomach just as he moved into the right spot. The man bent over with a grunt, crumbling to the floor.
Darian dodged as a fist passed where his head had been. He had moved before the fist, he was fairly certain of that. The last follower punched again. Darian moved to avoid his punch. The man continued throwing punches, as Darian continued to dodge. He knew where the fists seemed to land before they landed. Dodge to the left, dodge to the right. The man became increasingly more frustrated. He could see other prisoners running to watch the spectacle. Where were the guards?
His vision doubled from a blow to the back of the head. He had felt it coming, but was so focused on the man in front of him; it was too late for him to move. He collapsed to the floor. It must have been Fez or one of the other prisoners. Either way, it didn’t matter, as he hit the ground, all of the prisoners rushed him, beginning to kick. The pain wasn’t bad. He had experienced pain far greater than this. It reminded him of the guards from before. Where were the guards? Is this how he would die?
Then the kicks stopped. As a man was about to kick him in the stomach, a fellow prisoner collided into him, flinging them both off into the crowd. Another man went down, landing next to him, clutching a clearly bloody head. Darian forced his eyes to focus, looking up.
Beiromon stood amongst the crowd with a circle of prisoners around him. Most of them had lost interest in Darian, finding a new person to attack. Beiromon seemed unconcerned, a haughty look in his face and a deadly grace in his stance. He wielded the wooden club that Frez had used. However, he held it with one hand without any strain. It swirled back and force in his hand like liquid, ready to lash out in a moment. He stood facing the prisoners, almost in a protective stance in front of Darian.
The prisoners rushed him. Darian could see that was a mistake. Was it the intuition that told him that, or Beiromon’s deadly calmness? Beiromon’s club lashed out, striking the first man, the second, and then a third. He spun as he flung the club like an extension of his own body. A single swipe in an upward arch struck three prisoners, one in the thigh, one in the stomach, and one in the head.
Darian could see Frez trying to take him from behind. He stood with some difficulty and flung himself forward at the man’s feet. The man, focused on the deadly force in front of him, was surprised at being struck from the side. He went down on top of Darian. Pain flashed through his back as Frez collapsed on him. Darian forced himself to ignore the pain, putting it apart from his body, a trick he had learned after the years of experimentation and rolled putting Frez under himself. Darian began to punch Frez in the face. Two, three, four blows. He just wanted to make sure Frez did not rejoin the fight. If for a moment Frez regained the advantage, Darian knew he would easily be overwhelmed. He told himself that at least, although the punches felt good.
Beiromon himself wasn’t doing so well himself. He seemed to be fighting against the entire prison. He had numerous cuts and bruises from blows landed by others and was steadily becoming overwhelmed by the pressing group. They had all completely ignored Darian now. He knew he would need to help Beiromon. His eyes met with Beiromon’s for the first time. In them help a bit of respect that Darian had not expected to see. He rose to his feet painfully, preparing himself to charge into the group.
A hit in the back of the head put him to the ground. It was harder than before. Harder than the club at least.
“Stop this, order, enough!!!” Voices shouted as darkness overwhelmed Darian.
He woke up. His head was throbbing. He really needed to take fewer hits to the head. He shook his head slightly. That was a mistake, Nausea and sickness almost caused him to vomit on the spot. He barely seemed to keep it in.
After a few moments, he cautiously began to look around his surroundings. He was not in the gym. He did recognize the place though. This was the infirmary. So they must have broken up the fight then? It would appear that way. It took them long enough.
Darian slowly inched his way up. He was actually surprised. He was in considerably better shape than he had expected. It looks like his ribs were fine, and with the exceptions of a few bruises and a throbbing head, he felt good enough to get up. He had thought the prisoners had done more damage, but they were a lot less effective than the guards. Perhaps that was caused by the lack of weapons and batons.
“Are you OK then?” a voice asked from the bed next to him.
He looked over to see Beiromon. Nausea and dizziness followed causing him to close his eyes.
“I’ve been better,” He replied with his eyes still closed.
Finally, he took a closer look at the man next to him. Beiromon had a couple of bruises, but was sitting up and looked ready to run a mile. He had a meal in front of him. Darian was vaguely aware of a meal at his side as well. It wasn’t much, just the same gruel that he had grown accustomed to eating the first few weeks he had been at the prison.
Beiromon nodded slowly, “I have to say, I’m impressed. You took quite a beating and then stood back up. I’m surprised you’re even awake now after the guard hit you with the back of his rifle. Why were you getting back up?”
“I assumed you had come to help me,” Darian responded, “I figured I would return the favor.”
“You were in no shape to continue to fight,” Beiromon snorted.
“Fights come whether you are in the right shape or not,” Darian stated.
Beiromon’s eyebrows rose, but after a moment a small grin touched his lips. It was the first time he had seen anything close to a smile since he had first seen the man. The smile slipped after a few moments, causing him to go back to the grouchy demeanor he previously had.
“Was that the riot you spoke of?”
“No, that hasn’t happened yet,” Darian spoke before he realized what he had said.
“You really shouldn’t have told the guards about the prisoners, I don’t know why you are trying to convince them you have some supernatural abilities, but that’s not the way to get on anyone’s good side. The guards, they will see you as just an oddity. A toy to play with until you fail or break. The prisoners, well, you see how they will treat you, not worth it,” Beiromon stated after a moment.
Darian hesitated a bit but decided to go on, “I did not know anything about the prisoner’s plans before telling them. I probably wouldn’t have said anything but I was a little shocked when I saw what will happen.”
Beiromon frowned, not responding. After a moment he looked back at Darian.
“Where did you learn to fight like that?” He asked.
Darian blinked. It had not been the question Darian had expected. Was that a failure in Darian’s intuition? Still, so much he did not know or understand.
“It was unpolished,” the older man continued, “but wasn’t without a certain kind of flare. Three men at once? And you didn’t even bat an eyelash. Impressive, I think. ”
Beiromon seemed to become uncomfortable for a moment, turning his head down slightly as if embarrassed.
“I… I can’t remember. I don’t even know, even now, if I knew how to fight,” Darian responded honestly.
He decided that he trusted the man. He didn’t know why, but the man had protected him at no provocation. He didn’t know where trusting him would lead him, but at the very least he owed Beiromon honesty.
“A lot of my memory was taken from me,” Darian continued, “and in its place, some kind of psychic intuition, a kind of certainty of the future.”
Beiromon snorted, “Are you saying you guessed where to dodge and land your blows?”
At a nod Beiromon burst out laughing,” Very well, ” he said, wiping tears from his eyes, “Keep your secrets, we all have them.”
Darian winced at the comment but otherwise stayed quiet. They didn’t have much of a conversation after that. Darian closed his eyes and let his headache throb on. His head pain was finally starting to subside when a doctor finally came in and gave them a checkup. As soon as he opened his eyes the pain started to return.
Within short order, both he and Beiromon were released. As they left, Darian realized there were many rooms with many other prisoners being treated. Several of those Beiromon and he had put there themselves. He was slightly bewildered to see many of them in far worse shape than he himself was. Beiromon was apparently very effective with that club.
They were returned to their cells in short order. Devin sat on a corner of his bed. He began glaring at Darian as soon as he entered.
“What happened to you?” He sneered.
“Some prisoners attacked me, jumped me,” Darian responded.
“Not surprised,” Devin laughed.
Darian grimaced. He was not in the mood for Devin’s increasingly erratic behavior. Still, a thought crept into his mind.
“I am surprised that there was no solitary confinement or punishment,” Darian considered.
“There wouldn’t be,” Beiromon responded from the cell across from him as the guard snapped the door shut, “Too many involved, and they can’t put everyone in solitary. Instead, the prison will just go into lockdown for a couple of days, no one in or out of their cells, until heads cool down.”
Darian nodded, it made sense; this caused dizziness to spread through his body. He stumbled a bit, moving to sit down on his bed while ignoring the malevolent grins that Devin tossed his way. After a few minutes, he heard the clang of a coin.
“Heads or Tails,” a voice stated across the cell.
“Heads,” Darian spoke, standing up and walking over to the bars in front of the cell. The movement was harder than he expected; he grasped onto the bars of his cell for support.
Beiromon sat on the edge of his bed. He had a glint of silver in his hands.
“Lucky Guess,” Beiromon scoffed, eyeing Darian’s slow movements to the front of his cell, “It’ll feel worse tomorrow.”
Darian nodded before grimacing. Why did he have to keep nodding?
Beiromon flicked the coin up in the air once again, “Heads or tails?”
“Again,” Beiromon flicked the coin up and caught it deftly.
“Heads,” he said again, Beiromon showing a glint of annoyance.
“One more time,” Beiromon said.
Darian noticed Beiromon didn’t even check the coin that time.
After the fifth time, Darian answered heads Beiromon growled, “Are you planning on guessing tails ever?”
“I would if the coin you’re using had a tails,” Darian responded.
A choking cough sounded behind him. Devin was watching them, for a moment his demeanor seemed almost like what Darian remembered. When he saw Darian looking his scowl returned, but at the same time he had a mild look of interest in his eyes.
Beiromon scratched his long sideburns, blushing slightly before reaching into his pocket and pulling out another coin.
“You saw that, did you?” He responded, slightly sheepishly.
“Is that so? We’ll see about that,” Beiromon flipped the new coin, this time bringing up tails.
Beiromon continued to flip the coin, demanding an answer after every flip. Darian guessed right 97 of the 100 throws as Beiromon counted them. The first time he guessed wrong, Beiromon laughed with vigor and assuredness, only to have the smile slip off his face when he came to the realization that this came after 20 consecutive right guesses.
At the end of the 100th coin flip and 35 consecutive correct calls, Beiromon sighed, “Well, you’re not perfect.”
“Hey, ninety-seven guesses aren’t shabby,” Devin replied.
Darian hadn’t realized he had become as interested in the exchange as Beiromon and himself. For a little while, he seemed to be a little less crabby.
“So he’ll only die in 3% of his fights,” Beiromon responded, “Or get shot or lose an arm after the enemy tries to hit him 98 times.”
That knocked the smirk off of Darian’s face quickly, “That’s not fair; ideally I won’t be in that many fights.”
“Yet as you said, fights come,” Beiromon shrugged.
“But…” Darian began as a thought came into his head,” You can train me?”
Beiromon’s eyebrows rose. He looked at Darian for a few minutes. His eyes were stoic and calm, sturdy and trustworthy.
“We’ll see,” He responded.
“I still say that was impressive,” Devin scoffed to himself as Darian returned to his bed; after a moment he licked his lips and turned towards Darian, ” So you really can see the future, I always thought… is that why you? Never mind, I think I understand things a little better now.”
He ran his hands through his long white hair. He had grown older since Darian had met him. He vaguely wondered if Devin saw himself growing younger over time.
“Do…” Devin began nervously, “What do you see in my future?”
Darian had caught that he changed what question he was going to ask but didn’t bother to inquire on it. He hesitated for a few moments. Devin really had been a great friend to him. Was this it? Was this the end to their friendship? He hoped not.
“I see that I will become your best friend, but by the time that comes, I won’t even remember who you are,” Darian finally answered.
Devin frowned at him, a mildly confused look on his face. Darian turned away, lying down under the covers of his bed. Devin eventually cursed, turning away and pulling his own sheets up over his head. Darian wasn’t trying to put Devin off; he simply didn’t want him to see the tear coming down the side of his cheek.