"He's been asking to see you since we brought him in."

Rogue nodded, still feeling numb from the previous night. Too many hours had gone towards wiping up blood and figuring out how to hold a funeral for someone who left no remains. Even if he wasn't in shock he'd be too tired to do anything but go along with what he was told.

"We don't have any previous record of negative behavior, but given the crime he's in a higher security cell. You don't mind the walk, do you?"

Rogue started to nod, then realized what had been asked, and shook his head.

"Would you like a guard in the room with you?"

"No. I'll be fine."

"You don't know that for sure."

"I do."

The officer shrugged and turned down a hall, letting silence fall over them for the remainder of the walk.

Sting's cell was at the very end, held shut by no less that twelve locks. Rogue tried to recall the speech he'd prepared as the officer took his time undoing each lock.

No use. He was just so worn down...

He hadn't voiced that thought, but it still made Rogue feel guilty when the door swung open to reveal and even more worn looking Sting. The blond didn't even look up as he stepped into the room and nodded along to everything the officer said.

Once the door was shut behind him Rogue spoke. "Given the circumstances, you're expected to get a light sentence. Only a year or two."


"Minerva's taking charge of the guild until they can appoint a new master."


"Frosch misses you," Rogue tried, getting desperate.

That one finally got a reaction. "What about Lector?"

"Lector..." Rogue sucked in his breath, hoping that if he didn't answer then Sting would forget that he'd asked. "We didn't find a corpse."


"Sting, are you alright?"

"No. Is Lector?"

"Lector's gone, Sting."

"There wasn't a corpse. He can't be dead."

Rogue bit his lip. Would it be alright to let Sting tell himself that? Given how he'd reacted he had to know that wasn't the case. If it kept him sane while he served his time... but then how would he handle it after they released him.

"Lector's gone," Rogue repeated, forcing his voice to become gentle from someone other than Frosch. "I'm not going to tell you it's not a big deal. It is. I know. I was terrified that the same thing would happen to Frosch. But Sting, you need to acknowledge that it happened. You killed a man over it. Lector died."

"He's not dead." Sting insisted. "He's just gone. He'll come back. Lector can't be dead."

"Sting..." Rogue shook his head. There was no point. "I'll be sure to visit, all right? Whenever I'm not working I'll stop by to see you. I can bring Frosch too, if you'd like... or would that be..." insensitive, showing you my exceed right after yours died?

"Oh. Okay."

Going against every instinct he had, Rogue bent down and gave Sting a hug. "I'm sorry."

"It's alright. He'll come back eventually."

STA: The cats should have been off limits.

So I've already seen a theory that Minerva warped Lector away to make Sting think he died, and used him to take out Gemma. Also there's the possibility that Sting didn't succeed in killing Gemma, but I have my fingers crossed that he did, and that whatever hell is about to go down will prevent him from getting arrested for murder too.

*sigh* I went and vented about the chapter to a friend (who's on a 2 hour time difference so she was putting up with me at 2am) and since she's only to the nirvana arc I had to be extra careful not to spoil it while I ranted. All I told her was that Gemma was a horrible person and Sting, who I've told her about before, needs a hug. At some point I added therapy and grief counseling to that. She suggested that he needed a kitty.