At a standing height of 6 foot 3 and weighing in at almost one hundred and twenty kilograms of pure muscle, Damen knew it would be an easy feat for him to overcome anyone in the room, handcuffs and all. However, he also knew that he was just a touch too far north and his skin just a shade too dark, that if he did try anything he would quickly end up as another statistic. He would also be stamped as the guilty party for whatever reason he had been arrested for in the first place.
Instead of thinking about how easily he could break the arm of the man watching him, he thought about his best friend, Nikandros, and how there was no way in hell he was going to tell him what was happening. It was a matter of pride. Nikandros had told him multiple times not to return to Aquitart. He told Damen about the increase in discrimination surrounding those of Akeilon heritage since he had last been in the city. He had told Damen, that it was too soon, and he didn’t care if he had been forgiven. In fact, Nikandros had gotten so angry he had left the room to attack his punching bag bare knuckled.
Of course, he would not tell Nikandros, because he had been right, within a day of being back in Aquitart he had been arrested, man handled and beaten by police officers. He had been given no reason, simply slapped into a pair of handcuffs and driven away. Now he was sitting in some cliché of a room, with nothing but a table and chair and a blacked-out window. There was even a guard at the door that was obviously suffering from little man’s syndrome and looking ready to pounce on him for anything.
A few minutes earlier he had yawned just a little bit too loudly and had been yelled at to keep it down. So, he didn’t yawn, as bored as he was, and instead tried to figure out how long he had been held, at least two hours by the feeling of the swelling around his eye. It wasn’t too bad, and would probably be mostly gone within a day, yet his eye would probably be some interesting colours within the coming days.
He sighed loudly and was immediately yelled at by the man at the door.
‘Barely a man at all,’ Damen thought to himself while taking in the youthful appearance of the officer watching him, ‘How did he even get accepted into the academy?’
He started to wonder where his day had gone so wrong. It had started off perfectly, waking from a deep and satisfying sleep, after a long night of sex. He had expected his partner to be gone by morning, so he wasn’t too surprised to wake to an empty bed. Crawling out of bed he had taken a moment to admire himself in the bathroom mirror, flexing and stretching for his own delight, still pleased by the sight of his body.
He had lost a large amount of muscle in the past few years. His neck no longer blended seamlessly with his shoulders, and his arms could rest peacefully at his side without jutting out from his body. He was not as strong as he once was, but he was still in fine shape, with a muscular body worthy of the cover of any fitness magazine.
At first, he had been disappointed with himself. It had taken him years to build the body mass required, long hours of routine, workouts and diets. However, in the end, his current physique was the result of real honest work. He still had defined pecs, strong biceps and solid stomach muscles that made the jut of his hips so much more noticeable.
He was no longer the gym junky he once was, although the sight of his toned and naked body in the mirror still filled him with a charge of pleasure. Especially after the night he had had with a once familiar partner. It had been years, but she still reacted with the same delight and enthusiasm he once knew so well. It was easy to fall back into the old habit, pleasuring her for hours on end. She was just as demanding as he remembered, and he felt a sense of pride in being able to deliver her needs all over again.
It was because of the way that he spent his night that he felt so energetic. He should have been worn out after a long day on the road and being up all hours. Instead of resting up, he had gone out for a run, checking to see if Aquitart was just how he had remembered it.
The morning sun was gentle as he stepped out of his hotel room, the temperature mild with not a hint of becoming harsh and no humidity in the air. Having spent the last few years in the city of Ios, it was easy for him to replace one set of familiarity with another. Taking another deep breath, he set out to rediscover the place that he had called home years ago.
It had not occurred to him that he would miss the smell of a certain native flower until he smelt it again after years of its absence. Ios was damp, a thick layer of humidity covering it year-round, and while he missed the ocean and the fleshy, tropical fruits, he found there was enough enjoyment in the subtler lands to the north. Heading towards his old jogging route, Damen laughed to himself wondering if he would feel the same once winter arrived and snow started to settle in the region.
The city was changed but at its heart, remained the same. It was still a university town, even though a city had grown around it. He avoided the city centre, much busier than he remembered, and instead trekked along the thin body of water that cut through the dwelling. Not quite a river, but too large to be called anything else.
He noted to himself, that there were at least three times as many coffee shops as there use to be. It was a good thing, he thought, as he had grown fond of the coffee culture in Ios. The old and wizened owners, sitting out the front of their shops, describing the difference in textures and the flavours a single roast and the difference altitude can make.
He had finished his run by stopping at one of the new coffee shops and had found an old acquaintance making his coffee. At the time he had called her a fuck buddy, a term he no longer used, but for six months they had been casual with each other until the workload became too much. Now Lykios was chasing her PHD and he left the shop with a free latte, a phone number scribbled on his cup and a wink telling her he is looking forward to seeing her around the campus.
It was a perfect day. An easy morning after a satisfying night that was filled with nostalgia and the phone number of a soft and intellectual woman.
He still did not know how he had ended up in handcuffs with a swollen eye.
The snippy young guard was changed out. In his place was a bored looking officer that Damen, figured as being a few years older than himself. He simply nodded in his direction before pulling out his phone and becoming absorbed with the screen.
Assuming that the shift changes were the same as they were in Ios, Damen figured that it must be around six o’clock in the evening. That meant that he had been in custody around four hours. He had been waiting outside O block, the health department, at one thirty when he had been arrested by surprise.
He was calling it his surprise arrest in his mind because other than smoking a joint two years back and a few parking tickets, he had been sure to keep himself on the straight and narrow for over six years. Ever since the incident that had led to him leaving Aquitart in the first place.
Nik had schooled him on the official procedures in Aquitart before he left. At the time he had rolled his eyes and told Nik he had been over reacting. Now he was glad he knew he could only be in custody for a total of eight hours without being officially charged. He could however be questioned for a total of four hours in that time.
After spending four years as a paramedic, seeing all kinds of shit, along with watching Nik rise through the ranks, he knew the procedure. The next four hours were going to be spent trying to get him to admit to committing a crime. A crime that he could not have possibly committed in his brief 24 hours in Aquitart.
He sighed again and then immediately tensed up, expecting a retort or a fist as he had for the last four hours after having sighed. When nothing happened, he took a chance to glance at the officer standing by the door.
He was still staring at his phone, not showing any signs of acknowledging Damen in the room, that was until he spoke.
“Calm down, dude,” he said, not looking away from his phone, “I honestly don’t give a flying fuck. I’m just earning a few extra hours of overtime, as soon as the big boy gets in I’m out of here.”
“Right,” Damen said, immediately tensing and hating himself for how quickly he had become accustomed to his abuse.
‘You can’t always trust the boys in blue,’ Nik had told him, ‘Not even when they look like you.’
The sound of Nik’s voice in his head sapped the strength from his body and left him slumping in his chair. He almost felt the need to laugh because the exact longing he had felt for Aquitart was the exact need he felt for Nik and Ios. The need for something familiar but, now he was missing the work he was accustomed to.
He should have just taken leave.
He should have waited.
He should have thought for a moment before uprooting his life and moving back to the place that held both his best and worst memories.
It could have been 15 minutes, or it could have been an hour. His face was beginning to throb in a way he could no longer ignore, and all he wanted was to take a shower and go to bed. By the time someone else entered the room, he was beginning to understand why so many people admitted to crimes they had not committed.
The man that entered the room was a few inches shorter than Damen but carried himself like he was taller. He strolled into the room casually, his head held high and with no indication that he noticed the strain of his stomach against his uniform. The buttons looked ready to burst and between the gaps of fabric, Damen could see pale hair covered skin.
If this was the man in charge, Damen felt his day was going to get a whole lot longer.
At a glance Damen knew his rank by the marking worn on his shoulder. One pip and above it, a starburst surrounded by golden laurels, a superintendent. Aquitart was the first place to recognise the union between Akielos and Vere, the first to incorporate a joined symbol.
Once the sight of the joined symbols had filled Damen with pride. Now it was something to be feared. Now it was the symbol of power. Now it didn’t matter that he was a six-foot three wall of muscle, he was just a man, too far north in a room where anything could happen.
“Damianos,” the man said, sitting down across from him. “I am Superintendent Govart,” he said, tapping the name badge on his chest.
It read C. Govart and Damen couldn’t help himself.
“Does the ‘C’ stand for Cockhead?”
Govart scoffed and lifted his hand to run a finger into the depths of his chest pocket. A second later Govart’s thick hand withdrew and with surprising speed backhanded him across his already aching face.
“Keep it up, and this night is going to get a whole lot longer.”
He reached into his pocket and withdrew a handkerchief. It creaked as he unfolded it and Damen could see the dried yellow stains of the already well used cloth. Govart wiped his hands with it, not seeming to care that he was rubbing his hands across his own filth.
“I suppose you’re wondering why you’re here?” Govart said, stuffing the filth back into his pocket.
“Hadn’t crossed my mind at all in the last few hours.”
With a quick jerk, Govart raised his hand to hit him again and Damen couldn’t help that he flinched at the sight. Just because he could take it did not mean he wanted to be hit again. Seemingly pleased with his reaction, Govart let his hand fall and leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest.
“You’re here because a respected member of our community has gone missing. A highly respected man as it is.”
Damen let a moment pass before he responded with a simple, “And?”
“And…” Govart said, rolling his eyes. “You appear to be the only person in town with a reason to want to be rid of him.”
“What?!” Damen said, “I’ve only been here since this morning. I was literally arrested while waiting for a friend.”
“Well that’s a lie isn’t it?”
“What? That I have friends? I know, it’s hard to believe for someone like you, but it does happen. Maybe one day you’ll find friends of your own.”
There was a sharp ringing pain in his head. The world blurred for a second before focusing again and Damen realised he was on the floor with Govart standing over him.
“It’s a lie because I know you arrived last night. You spent the night in town, at the Comfort Inn to be exact. Just so happens that you arrived in town not long before our man went missing.”
Wincing in pain, Damen tried to roll away before realising he was tangled with his chair. For his efforts he received a kick to the back with a heavy boot. A boot that must have been steel capped going by the pain it caused.
“You’ve already lied so it’s not looking good for you,” Govart said, pacing around showing his teeth like a wild dog. “But let me fill you in for my own morbid curiosity, good term that, morbid curiosity,” he said it was a laugh before continuing on. “You were the last person to contact him. You are the only person in town that has a documented bad history with him, and you just so happen to come back to town the day he disappears. So, this is up to you. What did you do to Auguste d’Vere?”