Lightning danced across the sky as thunder rolled. Heavy rain pelted the forest mercilessly while strong winds attempted to bend tress over backwards. The howling of the wind was the only sound to be heard. The lone person running through between the trees couldn’t even hear their own breathing.
A young man, barely an adult, ran as fast as his legs could carry him. His running was hampered by the fact that his hands were tied behind his back with coarse rope. His body ached from days of abuse and little food. Sandy white hair, that he always kept neat, was matted to his head with dirt, sweat, and blood. One bronze eye was swollen shut while the other was halfway there.
His thoughts were scattered as he stumbled over rocks and tree roots hidden within the darkness. Rain soaked him to the bone while the raging storm threatened to blind and deafen him. The only coherent thought was that he had to find him. They he’ll be safe.
A soft sigh escaped the man sitting on the edge of the bed. Both hands were pressed to his forehead, black bangs hiding his slender fingers. Many of his mornings, and nights, found him like this.
Eagle was calling him. Again. Just as he had been for the past week and a half. That’s how long his long time friend and lover has been missing. One second they were sitting in the garden together, leaning against each other and a tree trunk. The next thing Lantis knew, Geo was leaning over his shouting and looking very concerned for some reason. Then everything just… faded away.
He later found out that four small bombs had gone off right outside the garden walls. Both he and Eagle, along with a few other students, were flung towards the center of the garden. Nobody was seriously hurt, some scratches and bruises mostly, and Lantis had managed to receive a mild concussion thanks to some decorative rocks.
All in all, everything was just fine. They caught the punks responsible and jailed them. Property damage was minimal. It was the next day after Lantis fully woke up that Geo and Zazu told him.
Eagle had been kidnapped.
No one knew where he was. No ransom notes or threats had been delivered. Nothing. The punks wouldn’t talk. At first. When they did their information was less than useless.
And the missing presence of his lover was slowly driving him insane. For the past nine days Lantis skipped all of his classes to search for Eagle. It was beyond difficult with the lack of information and motive.
Silently he stood and prepared to leave. With Eagle calling out to him, louder and louder, he’ll use that to find him.
The storm has tapered off. Just a little. Enough for the young man struggling through the forest. Now he’s able to hear several things. The sound of his heavy breathing, his bare feet slapping against the muddy ground. Branches grabbing at his clothing and skin, leaving behind dozens of stinging cuts.
He could also hear the barking of the hounds, the laughing of the men as they hunted chased him down. That was what kept him running despite the burn in his legs, in his lungs. That was why he was running through the woods of Cephiro. He had no memory of how he got to Cephiro from Autozam. Not did he know how long he had been away from home. All he knew was that he had to escape. He had to find Lantis.
A tree branch falls from above as a bolt of lightning struck its trunk. It lands right in front of him, startling him so badly that he trips over it.
He fell face-first into the mud. For a moment he just laid there, getting his breathing under control and willing the stars away from his vision. He weakly struggles to his feet. Right as he’s staggering to his feet a rope snakes around his neck.
“Caught ‘em, boys!” an overly jovial voice exclaims. The noose tightens enough to make Eagle afraid. A hand grabs him by the shoulder and spins him around.
Through mud dripping down his face, Eagle does his best to stare down the man holding him up. His legs give out suddenly, causing him to collapse. The man instantly lets go of his shoulder. But not the rope. Eyes closed, the exhausted teen dangles in the air, supported by the slowly tightening rope.
A quick jerk and… he’s back on the ground. Above him comes the sounds of fighting - fists against skin, pained grunting. Less than a minute later all is calm. The only remaining noise is the is the rain coming down and footsteps.
‘Who is it? Who? Lantis!’ Eagle struggles begin anew, weak against the hands on his arms. Through his panic he doesn’t notice how gentle those hands have become.
‘Shh. I’m not going to hurt you,” the voice assures soothingly. “Lay still, I’m going to cut you free now.” The hands let him go. Carefully, oh so carefully, they use a small knife to slice away the ropes around his wrists and neck. Once freed, he’s tugged up into a sitting position, leaning against a familiar body.
“Open your eyes for me, Eagle. Show me that I’m not too late.”
Gradually, like waking from a fevered sleep, he manages to crack open one eye. At first all he can see are dripping leaves and a fuzzy outline of a man. A hand appears and gently wipes away mud and turns his face towards the warm body.
His boyfriend’s face wavers in and out of focus, distorted by exhaustion and rain. Letting the warmth seep into his body from being held so close, he drifts off to his name coated in worry.