A few tendrils of cold leaked in from the open window hole as Anders’ eyes cracked open the tiniest bit. Met with the sight of fresh white linen instead of the soft face he had grown to expect, he opened his mouth to whisper but was instead greeted with a knotted ball of fabric in his mouth.

“Whppt-” His eyes flew open, and he saw nothing but the small intricate stitches of the mattress sheets. He wiggled for a few seconds until he was able to determine that no, there was no Miranda beside him, and yes, he was in fact bound with sheets the same way that he’d bound Miranda’s wrists the previous night. “Hmrph?” Giles, it would be really useful if you could barge in right now… how the hell did this happen?

For the next five minutes, at least as far as Anders’ muddled brain could tell, he tried to no avail to slip out of the bindings of the sheets- but unlike how Miranda had allowed himself to be stuck to Anders for the rest of the night, Anders’ ankles were slowly chafing from also being tied together. By the time that a Giles worried about late breakfast burst through the suite doors and immediately stooped down to help him, Anders was pretty sure that he’d have quite a few callouses to remove over the remainder of the weekend.

“Master Shew, I don’t know a single thing about your private life, but I’m pretty sure that none of this is safe.” He removed the cloth gag from Anders’ mouth, allowing him to swallow the spit that had collected in his mouth. “Did Miranda do this by his own, or did you help him with it?”

“Do I really look like the type to bind myself?” Giles removed the blindfold, and Anders waited patiently as Giles scooted over to untie his wrists. “Miranda’s smart, but he was the only one bound, and he accepted that. There’s no way that he could have done this.”

“But then who…” Through the broken window, the sun hit Giles’ eyes, which he shielded as he undid the last knot and helped Anders to sit up with his still-bound ankles. Returning his focus to the window, he immediately face-palmed, making a vein in Anders’ forehead twitch. “We really should have taken care of that earlier. That was an incident waiting to happen.”

“What is it, Giles?” Anders leaned forward to undo the knots around his ankles.

The broken window. God, I’m dense.” Giles pulled out his walkie-talkie and called for Lainey to come up to the room. “I’m sorry, Master Shew.”

“Maybe you should have fixed the window earlier!”

“I mean, that too, but we have to get the police involved, Anders. Whether or not you like it.”

Anders finished the last knot on his ankles and stared at Giles with a weakening face, finally allowing his head to sag into his open hands. He sat wordlessly until Lainey arrived in the room and took a seat next to Giles.

“Miranda’s gone missing, Anders. He’s nowhere in the building.”

“I know that.” He sucked in a deep breath, holding back tears as he clenched his fists and raised his head to acknowledge the two. “What are we going to say to the police?”

Lainey raised her hand. “How about we say, ‘yo, police, Anders’ fiancée went missing. Can we please have permission to activate the embedded tracker so that we have a chance of figuring out what happened to him?'”

“He has a tracker?” Anders wiped away the tears beginning to form with one sleeve. “Why didn’t I know this?”

“Standard issue for all potentially viable subjects in Soona Bris, sir. I wouldn’t blame you for forgetting. Why, do you want one too?”

Anders’ fists trembled as he crossed his arms. “Not right now.”

“You seem to be very distraught, although you’re acting much calmer than normal.” Lainey pulled Anders’ phone out of his bag and handed it to him. “Do you want to call the police? Or should I?”

“You can.” Anders pushed it back to Lainey, who dialed 911 as Giles shut and locked the suite doors. “They’d probably listen to your voice more than mine.” Anders’ breath heaved as he collapsed back onto the bed.

Giles rushed back from the doors to Anders’ side, laying his cool hands on Anders’ chest. “Deep breaths, Master Shew.”

“My fiancée-” Anders gasped as he covered his eyes with his hands, fighting back the urge to puke.

“Deep breaths, Master Shew.”

A few tears slid past his hands. “But-”

I said deep breaths!” Anders begrudgingly followed his command as Lainey turned away to report to the police.

“My fiancée is gone.” He sucked in another breath, softly whistling as he released it. “He’s gone, Giles. How did this happen?”

“That’s what we’re going to figure out, Master Shew.”


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