Professor Milo’s hand was extended, and Silas didn’t take it, even as Professor Woo’s expression pinched in worry. Silas wanted to smash Milo’s face. He wanted to shove him into the wall and beat him senseless. The best he could do was nothing, his lip twitching as Peri dug her fingernails into his arm—grounding him.
“Silas already hit you once,” Allen said. “Just keep talking, and he’ll do it again.”
Professor Woo gave Milo a nudge, and he let his arm drop. “I am sorry,” Milo repeated, turning to go.
Silas choked. “She did change the past,” he managed, voice breaking, and Milo slowed, head cocked. “Don’t you ever forget that.”
Pausing, the man rubbed his arm. The entire campus remembered him getting shot, but there wasn’t a mark on him. Neck red against his stark white shirt, he walked to the door.
“I’ll see you tomorrow for lunch,” Professor Woo said, touching Silas’s elbow in parting before hustling after Milo.
Peri exhaled, eyes following the retreating men. “I don’t know you well enough to say if that was good or not.”
“Good,” Allen said, sweating as he took Silas’s discarded punch and downed it. “Real good.”
Time was weird stuff. Everyone on campus including Milo himself remembered a timeline where he had been shot. There was blood in his car, and a hospital report—even used bandages in his trash and pain meds by his sink. But by the way Professor Milo shoved the door open as he left, Silas could tell there wasn’t a mark on the man. Day by day the differences that had been created were being rubbed out by the passage of time. Except for Summer’s absence.
“It’s going to be okay,” Allen said, frowning at everyone avoiding eye contact. “The semester will start up in a few months and things will get better.”
“Not for me,” Silas said, not wanting to find a new normal. “I quit.”
Peri jerked. “Silas, you can’t,” she blurted, far more distress behind her eyes than he was comfortable with.
“I can’t do this,” he said, hunching his back and turning away from the room. “Everything I make, they pervert into ways to control and manipulate. I’m not going to do it anymore,” he finished.
But no one said anything, and finally Allen cleared his throat.
Turning back around, Silas flushed. An older woman dressed in L.A.’s latest business-casual red was standing before them, her hair styled and the scent of expensive perfume making his nose wrinkle.
“Can I help you?” Peri said, her tone telling the woman to go away.
“Oh, yes,” the woman said, rings flashing as she handed Silas a card. “And I can help you,” she added decisively. “You want to make them accountable? Come see me. Don’t wait too long. There is a time window.”
“And who are you?” Peri said belligerently.
“All of you are invited,” she said, not answering Peri’s question. “I insist. All three of you. Tomorrow. Noon. Address is on the card.”
“Hey. Lady,” Allen began, but the woman patted his arm with a practiced false warmth before turning to walk to the door.
“Fran Jacquard,” Peri said, having taken the card from Silas. “Who does she think she is?”
Grim, but feeling a sense of purpose, Silas took the card back and tucked it away. “Poetic justice.”