Emery woke slowly. The man had brought him to a small motel to rest for the night. Tomorrow, he promised, they would continue with training. Emery dreaded the thought of more training. Sleep had been difficult and not at all restful. He was too tense to sleep. Once he had fallen asleep, though he woke frequently, he couldn’t make himself stir.

It was not until he heard an unearthly scream that he woke fully. He sat up, his breath coming in short pants. He heard the door to the room open and saw the sliver of light from the doorway. A shadow crept through the room toward him. Trauma and anger filtered from it.

“St-stay back,” he hissed, pushing as far back on the bed as he could.

“Emery,” a soft almost familiar voice said. “I’ve come for you.”

Emery closed his eyes and shook his head. Too much had happened since his kidnapping for these to be words of comfort. “No,” he managed. Then arms were gently holding him and he smelled the familiar scent of his father’s aftershave. With a soft sob, he leaned into the older man’s arms. “Dad,” he greeted.

“Emery,” Nathaniel said. “We have to go. They’ll come before the wardens do and we don’t want them to get you. Come on now.” Emery let his father draw him to his feet and guide him out the door, pausing only to slip his shoes on.

“How… how are you here?” Emery asked softly. Last time he’d seen his father, the older man had been in an asylum. “Did they let you out?”

“I escaped, Emery,” Nathaniel said calmly. “You needed help and I knew where you were. It was easier this way than to try and contact your friends and get them to listen to me. Not to worry, I’ll go back as soon as you’re safe.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Emery said softly. He’d suspected for a while that his father wasn’t as crazy as he’d let on, now he was almost certain of it. He briefly wondered what the scream he’d heard earlier was from and where the trauma he still sensed had come from, but he also realized that he was now safe.