8th of Achtus, 2718
UPTOWN | MIDDAY
"I gotta have something." Rhys offered, voice slurred and slowed further by a tongue discovering a tooth that was definitely wiggly. As if that was the worst of his problems, the loose sensation sending a wave of new panic through the beaten, pathetic creature and he tensed, less swollen eye widening. But Drezda had the sense—not necessarily the kindness so much as the understanding—to place her hand on his and the bloodied blond whined but seemed to visibly relax. It took everything in his power to keep his tongue from wandering back to where he knew that tooth was, aware that hopefully, someone's magic could keep that where it was—
Oh, she was casting.
His attention drifted, listening to her words because he knew them,
"Ribs. Broken. Swelling's bad." He echoed the analysis in her head but not in the same order, surprisingly accurate in his assessment of his own damages, "Two, maybe three. More? Fuck. Damen's a real bastard. I'm gonna—" He wheezed, watching the Hoxian's face, "Face, huh? Yeah. Somethin' there." He rolled his head from side to side, "Arm though. More than broken. Magic. That Benjamin—oh—"
There was panic again.
And something else.
Something more than just physical pain.
What wasn't swollen or immobilized or bruised beyond recognition of Rhys' face twisted into some awful expression of sadness, "—I came home. He'd been there. Benjamin. Charity—he'd—he'd—" A gurgle of a growl escaped him, unable to say the words, just the thought of it all enough to dredge up the anger and also the regret. He'd made the wrong fucking choice and it hurt far more than his entire body, "—I didn't even see 'f she was okay. I just—left—I was so mad—I'm—an' this—ersehole. Me. Yes. I—"
The sound of something approaching visibly disturbed him, fingers of his working hand curling tightly into his shirt, around her hand. Whatever he could grab. But Drezda said it was hers and like some dumb, sleepy animal, he attempted to tilt his head to see. It was a useless endeavor,
"Oh, gods. For fuck's sake." He groaned at the thought of being moved, a special kind of lucidity filtering through the concussion-induced delirium, "I'm not in shock anymore, Miss Ecks—" The tall blond felt the motion of Living mona as she gathered her field, heard the voices of men he didn't know, and heard the specific phrase about attention, "—patrols prob'ly know I'm here—fuckin' Damen. What time 's t. How long have I—"
The Hoxian was attempting to cast while he rambled on uselessly and he felt the resistance, a sluggish denial to her request that caused him to tense, that caused his one good eye to squeeze shut in obvious fear of repercussions. Thank the Circle there was no backlash, Drezda realizing the fruitlessness of her efforts and simply finding a swifter end to her spell,
"S'fine. I'm fine. Look 't how fine I am." He smirked again, reluctantly letting her hand go with a very wet sigh. Shadows passed outside of his very limited range of vision and then a broad-shouldered older man hunkered near him, lack of a field making him obvious. He was making comments about moving him and Rhys bobbed his head a little,
"Gotta coat? M' arm—don't want 't t' dangle." Consummate Seventen that he was, he was giving half-slurred, bloody-lipped instructions on how to bind his arm without further damaging his ribs. He fell quiet for a second or two somewhere in the middle—unconscious again—wheezing awake and whining in pain when Jerome gingerly touched his broken left arm, laying it carefully across his chest and wrapping a coat over the suspended officer backwards, "Just move me. I'm not going t' be ready—wait—no—"
His eyes narrowed at Drezda and without concern for who heard him between the Hoxian and her two servants, he groaned the words he believed to be true, the hurt in his voice anguished beyond the beating he'd received, interrupted in a few places with a hitched voice, with harsh, difficult sobbing as everything sank in for the first time. Really sank in. Like plunging a fiery poker through his sternum. As if he needed anything else to hurt, "Benjamin Tolsby raped m' wife. Promised t' go back. M' apartment's 'bove th' dsoh shop. Kingsway. Charity now. Right fucking now. Not later. Now. Please—I'm not makin' th' same mistake twice, Drezda. Look 't what I did. Please."
Rhys had very little left and reluctantly tilted his head away from the dark-haired woman to press the swollen, still-oozing side of his face against the cold cobblestones and look toward Jerome, giving instructions once more like it was his duty now that he'd made his plea, like he needed to talk to stay conscious (because he did),
"Lay me flat. Don't elevate m' head. Then, Kingsway's a straight shot—" The passive was moving, agreeing with him quietly because he knew where he was going, everyone's hands finding their places.
There really was no bracing for anything, not when you didn't know what to expect and not when everything already hurt. Or, at least, when you thought everything already hurt. The elevation of the lanky blond's pain levels came as an obvious surprise once his weak, bloodied body left the chilled alleyway and his voice rang off of the painted brick when he shouted a few very clear, very loud expletives. Somewhere between the puddle he'd made and the carriage itself, he blacked out again, mumbling incoherently and then falling limp, heavy.
Everyone in the courtyard stopped and stared. Everyone. This far into Uptown, so close to the Theatre, the crowd that braved the chill and ice today were all galdori. A few gasps and wild gazes. A few motions to skitter away from the carriage, eyes wide and hands raised to lips. Did anyone offer their help? No. Did anyone ask questions? No. The man out of uniform wasn't recognizable, anyway. If anyone was in the crowd specifically to watch him, it was impossible to tell, but it was increasingly clear that no patrols on blackback had been this way on schedule.
Steadied carefully on the floor of the carriage, forced to bend just so at the knees to fit, coat tucked tightly around him and beneath him to keep him still, he'd gasp awake again, vaguely aware that he was shivering despite the extra layer, blood loss and adrenaline gone,
"No hospitals. I'm afraid—their reach—you know? I know people. Service Constable Jarrod's off today. I can give you his address—he'd take notes. Evidence. This is evidence." He clearly meant his broken body, rambling on and on (and on) in his indescribable discomfort, "Are we there? Oh. See. Short ride. Listen. If he's there, you can so take him. He's a godsbedamned toffin. I'm gonna kill him, though. If I don't die. I'm gonna—wait. Fuck. That’s admissible in court. You didn’t hear ‘t from me. Okay? Just forget I—"
The motion of everything eventually reduced him to whines and groans, sobs and grunts. He'd recount everything as if Drezda was his last witness, emphasizing his anger with breathless gurgles and deep, struggling breaths. Moving had made things worse, sure, but it had to be done. He knew it, but everything else was a blur.
"Tell Charity 'm sorry. She's gonna be mad. Real mad. I made a mistake. I did."