Year 19 of the Addergoole School
“Look at you, you’re filthy.”
Antonia flinched. She was filthy; she hadn’t had a shower since the gods attacked, unless you counted rainstorms, and hadn’t had a bath in over a year, unless you counted dipping in creeks.
Her clothes were so grimy they stood on their own, but they had held up against weather and road damage, enough that she thought the dirt might be a layer of protection all on its own. Her hair, she’d finally chopped short as the summer came – with a knife, because that’s what she’d had.
They had run when the gods attacked her hometown, ten of them on a school trip. There had only been three when the terrifying winged man had found her; she didn’t know what he’d done with Mella or Steve, and she was scared to ask.
He’d dropped her here, in the halls of what appeared to be the plushest underground bunker ever, and taken off with barely a word. She’d been fighting him the whole time, but now, sitting here with her duffle bag and nothing else, she didn’t have anything to fight.
“You’ve been out in it this whole time, haven’t you?”
She peeked up. That was still the same voice. “Out in… the war?” she offered. “Yeah. I mean, not in the combat. But out there. You haven’t?”
He was clean. Clean the way she hadn’t seen anyone since the gods attacked; his hair fell in perfect red-orange curls around his ears, his skin looked brown, not because of sunburn or dirt, but just because it was his skin tone, and his pants even looked pressed.
Some small part of her mind thought he was also rather handsome, but she ignored that part; she was checking for weapons.
He could be carrying something in the pocket of the khakis, or under the madras-plaid shirt, but his hands were open and empty in front of him.
“I got lucky.” He shrugged, as if to apologize. “I was in a safe place when it hit, and then it wasn’t long before I was supposed to come here. So I never got the worst of it – but over half the students who actually make it here come in looking like you or worse. I’m Raleigh, by the way.”
“Tony… Antonia.” She held out a hand, and then looked at it. “Sorry, I’m filthy.”
“I noticed. Look, come with me. I’m gonna get you a bath, a nice warm meal, and some clean clothes, okay?”
It’s a trap. Her skin itched, reminding her how long it had been since rain, even. “I’ll take it.”
He grabbed the hand she’d offered and pulled her to her feet. “Awesome. My room’s this way.”
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