Alex recalled his blade then turned from Arlin to Syrus and sighed.
"Well, now's your chance." he huffed. The girls looked at him with a bewildered expression.
"Yes..." Arlin utter before jumping to his feet. Alex flinched.
"Wh-wait!" he attempted to stop Arlin as he charged past. "I didn't mean you."
"Time for you to get what you deserved all along!" Arlin roared as he leapt through the air, his hands charged with a dark mana.
"STOP!" Alex shouted as he removed his scarf. He flicked it, wrapping it around Arlin and pulled him to the ground.
"LET ME GO, TRAITOR!" Arlin screamed as he squirmed, trying to break free. Alex knotted the ends of the scarf around Arlin despite his shrieking.
"This isn't going to solve anything!" Alex hissed. "Deep down you know that!"
"Even you betray me?!" Arlin growled. "If I can't kill him, I'll kill his sister instead!" Alex's jaw dropped as the words left Arlin's mouth. An overwhelming sense of dread washed over him. Syrus, who had been silent for a while, started toward the two. Slow at first, gradually getting faster until he was at a full sprint.
"FUCK YOU!" his voice bellowed with an uncharacteristic rage. He drew his balled fist back and swung with great force. His fist struck Arlin across the face, the impact caused him to recoil back and blood to splatter on the ground with a loud crack. "To think that, even after all this time, I still considered you my friend!" tears started to form in his eyes.
"Don't start with that shit again!" Arlin growled. Blood dribbled down his face from his nose.
"Why do you think your mother hates me?" Syrus asked as he tried to suppress his emotions.
"Because you're an asshole!" Arlin snapped and spit blood at Syrus.
"Why was she so quick to defend my father after he murdered my mother?!" Syrus continued his questions, ignoring Arlin's remarks.
"Wh-what does that have to do with anything?" Arlin scoffed.
"My father was having an affair with your mother!" Syrus's voice wavered with a mixture of anger and despair. "When my mother found out, she filed for a divorce, so he killed her!" All the animosity faded from Arlin's face. "She did everything in her power to discredit me, she threatened me to keep quiet!" At this, Arlin fell to his knees as tears streamed down Syrus's face. "If the nature of their relationship was discovered, it would have implicated her in the murder as well!" Syrus covered his face with his trembling hands. "Your mother blames my mother, my very existence, for keeping my father from her!" Syrus exhaled loudly to keep from sobbing.
"N-no, th-that can't..." Arln gasped.
"There's photographic proof, Arlin." Alex interjected. "Your mother, a lawyer no less, lied in order to save face. She even helped destroy evidence." He dug out some bandages from his bag and knelt down to Arlin. "Look down, you don't want to gag on your own blood, do you?" He applied the wad of bandages to Arlin's nose.
"How did you know?" Syrus uncovered his face and looked to Alex with a vulnerable expression.
"I had, no I still do, have a lot of respect for your mother." Alex sighed as he pulled out his phone. "When I heard about her death, I did some digging on my own."
"You never were one to leave things unexplained." Syrus chuckled bitterly.
"Hold this." Alex freed Arlin's hands to hold the bandages on his face. "You broke his nose, so I'll be taking him to the hospital." Alex stated flatly. "Had he not done that, I'd have your ass for that threat!" Alex glared at Arlin as he walked over to Syrus. Arlin sighed and closed his eyes, wracked by guilt. Alex leaned in close to Syrus and fished something out of his pocket. "While I was at the studio, I saw your father snooping around so I took the key to your mother's office." he pressed his hand into Syrus's, passing the key along discreetly. "In the top left drawer there's a hidden compartment with a letter addressed to you." he whispered then took a step back. "And no, I didn't open it, don't worry." Alex waved as he walked back to Arlin.
"Thanks." Syrus forced a grin as he dropped the key into his pocket. Alex turned his head to face Syrus once more.
"Your mother was a great person, she deserved better." He paused, preparing to say more when a sleek, black, stretched Rolls-Royce pulled up. "Ah he's here." Alex uttered as his train of thought was derailed. A well-dressed man started to exit the car. "I'll take care of it, you can stay in the car." Alex waved, gesturing to him to sit back down. "Take it easy, Syrus! You know where to reach me if your shit-stain of a father causes you any more problems." Alex called out one last time as he helped Arlin into the back seat of the luxury car. Once the doors shut, the car drove off.
"WHAT WAS THAT?!" Jem gawked absolutely baffled.
"Alex's parents are incredibly rich, that was his butler." Syrus announced. Aside from that small outburst, the group silently stared in awe. Skai walked up to Syrus and patted him on the shoulder without a word.
After getting treated at the hospital, Arlin was escorted home by Alex.
"You have a lot to process." Alex spoke.
"Yeah..." Arlin groaned softly.
"I'll leave you to that, but I'm here for you if you need anything." Alex gave him a brief one-arm hug.
"Why did you do it?" Arlin aske as Alex was about to step away. "Won't this cause you trouble?"
"Because I'm 'too damn compassionate for my own good'." Alex jeered, quoting Syrus from before. Arlin stared back confused. Alex let out a short breathy laugh. "Get some rest dude." Alex grinned before turning and walking off. Arlin shuffled into his room and plopped on his bed. His face was bruised, and his nose swollen under the cast. "What am I even supposed to do?" The scene replayed in his mind. "Was he trying to push me away so I wouldn't be put in this difficult situation?" Arlin thought to himself. His face ached as he started to doze off. There was a soft click of the front door opening. "She's home." he snapped back to reality. "How am I supposed to face her after everything that happened?" The unrest gnawed at him until he got up. "I can't not say anything now that I know." He charged out the door to speak to his mother. She was setting her briefcase down as he walked out.
"Mom." he called out to her from the doorway.
"Oh kultaseni, what are you doing up so la-" she started to ask as she turned around. She stopped when she saw his face. "What happened to you?" She ran over to him in a panic, she smelled of liquor.
"Syrus punched me." he grimaced, remembering the pain.
"What?" she howled. "I thought I told you to stay away from him!"
"I...I deserved it." Arlin shrugged. "I threatened Kori, so he got mad."
"Wh-why were you talking to him in the first place." she asked frantically.
"What? Are you afraid I'd learn the truth?" he sneered.
"What do you mean by that?" she yelled.
"How you lied about your relationship with their father or that you committed perjury to clear his name last year!" he scoffed "You weren't 'just friends' in college."
"My affiliation with Yuan is none of your concern!" she roared. "Who are you to question the truth?"
"What truth do you speak of?" Arlin retorted. "The truth in your delusions?"
"GET OUT!" she shouted in rage.
"Wh-what?" Arlin stuttered, baffled by the sudden shift in tone.
"You are no longer my son, get out of my house!" her eyes burned with hysteria. Arlin took a step back while keeping his eyes locked on her.
"M-mom?" he uttered, his voice trembled.
"OUT!" she shrieked "I no longer have a son!" Arlin took off running out the front door. Even with the result, he didn't regret taking a stand against her. He pulled his phone from his pocket and called Alex to come pick him up.
Once they arrived at Alex's house, Arlin collapsed to the floor.
"I can't believe this." he sighed, the exhaustion had set in.
"Sorry." Alex grimaced. "It didn't occur to me that she would kick you out."
"Ha, I'm not even upset." Arlin laughed as Alex helped him to the sofa.
"What? Why not?" Alex questioned dubiously.
"Using her authority to control who I can and can’t talk to was getting obnoxious." Arlin complained.
"I can understand that..." Alex grumbled. "So, what are you going to do now?"
"I want to make things right with Syrus." Arlin perked up. Alex averted his eyes. "Ah, sorry."
"Don't, you two have been friends forever." Alex countered. "Don't let me stand in the way of that." she shrugged.
"You're still my friend too, ya know!" Arlin pouted.
"I-I know, but they won't like that." Alex frowned, his face flushed lightly.
"So, that's not my problem, it's theirs." Arlin shrugged. Alex choked back laughter.
"HAA," Alex exhaled loudly. "Let's go by your house tomorrow to get your stuff."
"Do you think your parents would let me stay?" Arlin asked.
"Ah crap... I didn't think about that." Alex gasped under his breath.
"We can figure it out later if they don't." Arlin tried to be optimistic.
"It wouldn't hurt for you to think things through rather than acting impulsively, for a change." Alex smirked as he poked fun at Arlin. Arlin sneered back in response. "Should we call it for the night?" Alex eyed Arlin then the clock.
"Yeah." Arlin answered enthusiastically. The boys headed down the hall before Arlin stopped part way.
"Yes?" Alex asked skeptically.
"I just thought of something!" Arlin cheered and took off back down the hall. Alex groaned and followed behind him. Once Alex reached the foyer, he expected to see Arlin but he was nowhere to be seen. "What are you doing?" Alex scoffed. Soon after, Arlin emerged from the kitchen with a knife. "WHAT!?" Alex gaped in shock. "What is that for?!"
"I want to prove that I'm turning over a new leaf." Arlin cheered.
"What does a knife have to do with that?!" Alex asked with growing concerns.
"New me, new look!" Arlin smirked as he griped his long ponytail in his hand. Before Alex could reach him to stop him, Arlin cleaved off the long section of hair from the base of the hair tie holding it in place.
"What did I just say about being impulsive?!" Alex chastised him. "Fuck! Come here, let me even it out." he muttered. Arlin handed Alex the knife and he spent a few minutes touching up the edges to make it straight. "You idiot." Alex sighed and dragged him to the game room, which he had prepped for his guest.
"Night Alex." Arlin grinned.
"Night." Alex paused. "Dork!" he smirked and went to his bedroom. Arlin lied on the plush couch and pondered the events of the past two and a half weeks until his eyes grew heavy and he fell asleep.
In the morning, Arlin and Alex left for school and Adrian headed to Arlin's house to pack up his possessions. They split up once they arrived on campus. Arlin spotted the group among the masses of students. He calmed his nerves the best he could and approached. It grew quiet.
"You cut your hair?" The twins gasped simultaneously. Arlin turned his face down bashfully and scratched his flushed cheek.
"Arlin..." Syrus spoke up solemnly. "What happened?"
"Ha, you noticed..." Arlin hummed to himself. "My mom and I got into a fight soooo," he drew it out, feeling awkward around the people he'd attacked countless times before. "She kicked me out."
"Seriously?" Sal jumped up.
"Yeah...but it's better this way!" he forced a smile. "I wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing she was in the same house, after all she's done."
"That's rough." Tori murmured. Arlin stepped forward toward the group.
"I know it doesn't really mean much but I'm gonna say it anyway." he started before bowing to them. "I am so incredibly sorry for my actions!"
"Hmph!" Aren huffed. Tori growled at him.
"I-I'm sorry too." Syrus played with his hair as he returned the apology. "I didn't handle that the best way, you had every right to be mad." Arlin perked up and looked at Syrus. He smiled weakly and opened his arms. Arlin's face lit up and he jumped into Syrus's arms and squeezed tight.
"I said some appalling things too." Skai lowered his head, catching his glasses before they fell off his face. "I apologize as well, Akseli."
"How can you guys just forgive him like that?" Aren scoffed.
"You heard it too." Sai scolded him. "Besides he was genuine with his apology." Aren groaned but backed down.
"He's been through a lot too!" Mira stood up. "Let me heal that for you." she held out her hands.
"Oh, no thanks!" Arlin grinned. "It serves as a reminder that I need to atone for what I did."
"That's quite mature." Kelly commented.
"Meh, I'm the same age as most of you!" Arlin pouted. Throughout the day the group gradually warmed up to him. After school, they headed to Gentle Leaf Café. Alex met up with Adrian to finish packing Arlin's things. Inside, they saw Skai's mother waiting. Skai's eyes widened in shock until he remembered the shop closed early on the weekends.
"How are things, mother?" he asked politely. She looked over the large group a bit perplexed.
"There's more of you each time I see you." she giggled. Skai grimaced and blushed.
"Oh, you mean me?" Arlin hopped up. "Hi, I'm Akseli Arlin!" he introduced himself eagerly.
"Heavens what happened to you?" She covered her mouth in awe. Syrus looked away anxiously.
"Ah, a lot." Arlin withheld the truth to not cause a scene.
"Do you feel alright?" She asked frantically. "Do you need some ice?"
"Oh no, I'm fine." Arlin tried to evade the subject. "I got some rest at a friend's house last night, I feel fine now!"
"Why a friend, what about your parents?"
"My dad died when I was little, and my mom disowned me." Arlin blurted out without thinking.
"WHAT?" She choked in dismay. "Do you have a place to stay?"
"Uh..." Arlin swallowed hard. "I shouldn't have said that."
"There's a spare room with us, it may not be much, but we'd love to have you!" she offered to him.
"M-mom!" Skai darted over. "That was dad's."
"Honey we can't let your poor friend live on the street." she pleaded. Skai's mouth hung open, there was nothing he could say that would change her mind.
"I'd have to get my stuff." Arlin meekly argued.
"That won’t be a problem dear!" she declared. "I'll get the car." then she ran out the café.
"Is she always like this?" Arlin turned to Skai bewildered by what just occurred.
"Yes...sorry." he groaned and buried his face in his hands. Arlin pulled out his phone and dialed a number.
"Hey, are you done over there?" he asked softly.
["Yeah, sorry about my father."] Alex answered back.
"Well, uh...you see..." Arlin tried to find a way to word it as to not raise any suspicions from his company. "I uh, have a place to drop it off at."
["Oh? Wow you work fast."] Alex teased.
"Hush!" Arlin whined. "We're gonna come by and get it soon, apparently." he followed in an unsure tone.
["Ah, so I should disappear?"]
"Yeah, thanks for the help." Arlin tried not to sound too guilty. "I'll make it up to you later."
["Nah man, take it easy while you recover."]
"Un." Arlin moped and the called ended. Syrus locked eyes with Arlin. Before anything could be said, Skai's mother came back in, with a car parked outside. "Well, later." Arlin waved. He, Skai and Skai's mother entered the car and drove off, to move Arlin into their spare room.