Episode 11.

CW: Male Violence, Alcohol, Knives.

Back | Next image shows the letters C, I, T, B, in bold green type.

Arriving at the hideout precisely at the same time as the bailiffs and the law-men, as if kismet itself had timed it, Issané counts the men – amused by their number. Ha! Look at these dickheads. What a coincidence. Okay! One two three, four five six. She exhales, gleeful. Ahaa! They should’ve sent more. Here we go!

Stalking up the opposite end of the shit-riddled side alley, wearing stolen leathers and wielding a long double-edged knife and a sabre she has 'found', she swings them, first together, then separate. Flaunting, she tests their weight, looking nothing short of treacherous. Sly and devilish, she fairly crackles inside with anticipation. A laugh would escape her if it could.

Unseen – the bailiffs far too busy and important to notice her – and using a handcart as leverage, she leapt into the air with poise, cutting down the first. Turning, catlike, as he fell away from her, she plants her feet into the cobbles, back on solid ground, and clashed swords with the second and a third. They defend themselves from the swiftness of her onslaught, but to no avail, the second downed easily, the element of surprise still fresh.

The third was ready for her. A sharp rap on bare knuckles with the pommel of her knife, and he relinquished his grasp on the heavy greatsword he clearly didn't know how to use. Alleviated of its weight, he muttered something about, “Not today...” and ran.

Three down. Piece of piss.

“DID YOU SEE THAT?! Fucking Hell!” The racket of the fight unfolding drew them to the window, certain they are the ones under attack, and Jed is awestruck, alert to her taking down guys twice his shoulder width while punching at Reed’s arm.

“Can’t be? It’s her? Oh...” Reed blanched, the swear word left unsaid. “This is bad. This'll be trouble.”

“Go on Girl! Get’m then!” Unfazed, cheers accompany his rapturous laughter, and clapping.

Tristin hears their respective amazed yelling and woeful beseeching from the shadows. Too drunk to look up, let alone stand, he is halfway through drowning himself in a bucket of cider. Somewhat understanding that Axel and Kayn start towards the door when they make worried noises at the sounds coming from outside, additional to that, Jed and Reed were now shouting in unison. He wished he had the energy to tell them to shut up. Whatever it was out there causing this commotion, he hoped it would go away and leave his throbbing head alone. And if it turned out swords were coming for him, even better. He deserved them.

The pair reach the other window in time to see the girl pinned to the opposite wall of their passageway, and they watch her duck away from her assailant with some fancy footwork, rounding on him from the rear. Leaping again, easy, she pops him on the back of the skull just hard enough to switch off his lights. His acquaintance, the last of them, was already backing off. It didn't take much to press him to the window that Reed and Jed were facing out of. Threatening to snip his head from his shoulders with her twin blades, she let him go instead, with a move that is all flourish.

SIX! Ha! Harder than I thought. Too long inside the cell! Breathing hard, her mind raced as she coughed, bent double. One hand on her knee, wiping her mouth with the back of the other, she curbed a heave while the last one scarpers. Did he see? Was he even watching? She clears her head, deciding that he probably wasn't, concentrating again on her plan. Right then, anyway. Plan B. Aww yesss. I’m gonna get that lanky fuck-face.

Jed winced in empathy for the potentially headless man, with a sharp intake of breath before swivelling Tristin’s way. Failing to withhold the laughter in him, his friend has NO clue what they have witnessed. Not a one. Realizing the fullness of this, he laughed even louder, yet his humour is cut short once he comprehends what she actually intended to do. Turning back to the window, she bore through the glass at him, and he waved back, despite every instinct screaming, Why are you doing that?! Riveted to the ground as she pelts for their door, her face told him that Reed was right to worry.

Kayn, however, is incandescent. Whipping the door wide open, he screamed into the void, “What the actual fucking FUCK?!” and finds himself addressing no one but the writhing, or out cold, or fleeing bodies outside, once Issané has barreled through the entrance head-first. Blades still firm in hand, she back-kicked the door out of his grasp, slamming it shut. Beginning to lose his shit completely, he felt reality slip as a nightmare comes true. She had crossed their threshold. She’d approached them, armed to the tits, trained on him only. Blades more than ready, she was after blood. His.

“What is this? What the fuck is this? How? Who set her free? Who gave us away? The orders were to let her die. It was all in the plan, and look, it’s clear she fucking hasn’t. So who did this? Who? Which one of you?” A hand flexes in tension. He wished he had at least a shirt on, let alone a weapon nearby. “Fucking tell me. NOW!”

“Okay, it could have been me, Kayn.” Jed was more cautious now that the danger was apparent. “Obviously no, like, on purpose or anything. She might have been able to read my mind in the cell...” Not knowing how right he is as he tries to protect his brothers from this new fury, he is staunch, in the direct line of fire, hoping to distract him, without giving Reed away. After confiding that something wasn't right about her, the medic complained when his mind felt fuzzy after spending too long in her company. Jed couldn't relate, but he'd noted his concern all the same. And Tristin. Something was unquestionably up with him, but he wouldn't have freed her. Couldn't have done. Following that line of thought, it clicks how he’d tried to offer her a protection, a defence from Kayn by a marking. Tristin had put himself in the way then because he hadn’t. He wished he’d realised it sooner. Shit, Reed had even tried to get involved back then, even if she was having none of it...

At his admission, Kayn cut him off from speaking further. Catching her by the throat, hoisting her off the ground, his eyes flash as her legs swing when they inch away from the floor. Heavier than she looks, he struggles to lift, only acting as though it is nothing, while staring directly at him. “Then, blade in hand or no – this, my friend, is your fault.”

Without breaking eye contact, he holds her there, sneering as she is wild, kicking her legs, still trying her best to stick the boot into him. Too short to reach by at least a foot, he slams her, hard, into the floor, the impact scattering both blades in opposite directions across the room. Not letting up on his attack, he begins kicking her hard in the ribs, shouting, “Try and get to me, will you? You little fuck. I promised you you'd die. Could have gone quietly in your sleep, eh? You've chosen to go this way though, and so. Be. It.”

He kicks her so hard, he grunts the last of his sentence, and at that, Tristin rose up off the bench at the table, woozy, drawing his own knife, and cursing his drunkenness. He willed himself to clear the fuzz away – and yet checked his half-committed stride when Kayn’s volume level dips. A husky, dangerous whisper comes when he shakes his head, beams locking on to him, commanding. “Tris. Sit. The fuck. Down.”

Taking the only opportunity to step in while Kayn has his focus elsewhere, Axel hunkered over her foetal form, and sticking his arm over her as a trainer would a hound, he hears his unmistakeable, irritated growl. Talking would be useless. This threat was too big. He was too far into the ice, and he knows he has mere seconds to act. Somewhat daunted, he prepared to read her, and finding her open to him – surprised that Jed was right – and he began his questioning.

Is this it? Is this how you did it? How you escaped? Found us?

Yep. The voice in her head splutters, retching, weak.

Demanding, he is not taken in by her wheezing. What else can you do?

A deep breath or two, she exploited the break in the kicking. Springing from the floor to her feet into a crouch out of nowhere, her own obsidian blade in hand, it is Reed who recognises her boot knife. Within half a beat – plus a startled, misjudged step towards her – she has stuck her blade into Kayn's shirtless, unsuspecting torso. Slicing upwards, hard, and two handed, she tore him from pelvis to collar, altogether opening him up.

He loomed above, muscles constricted in agony, and spilled his own blood at last, covering her in it. Bearing the weight of him as he leaned on her bodily, his bulk forced her to step back a pinch. Supporting his weight, as she does, his bare chest touched against her cheek, making her grimace – revolted by the sudden contact with his nipple. Ew, gross.

In the next instant, she has swept his legs from under him by kicking at the back of his knee – and with a hand at his back, she controlled his direction of descent. Aiming for Axel's lap – since he was on his knees now – he caught him, cradling him, stopping his body from hitting the floor.

Leaning him, guiding him into his arms with this action, it was clear she did not mean for him to fall, her next action demonstrating why. Now on the ground, she works to close the wound she’d created, and palms aglow, a bright, lightning bolt blue shone as they healed him shut again, fusing the shredded skin back together with magic.

Still in the room with them, petrified, Kayn is certain he will perish this time. One mistake too many, he knew this time he'd pushed his luck too far. Despite this, he still refused to let Axel in. Blocking him, he still knew how much he wanted to read inside his head. But, when he looked up and saw tears in those jet black eyes, he began to drift, and cannot help dwelling on the stars he knew danced there. Soothed, he imagined a music. Thinking of how it would sound, he wished he could play the glitter like the notes they'd always made him think of. His own sight becoming more hazy as he blinks, he fought to delay their closing forever. I never said sorry. I always meant to let you know I was sorry. Failing to pass on his message, still struggling to see and convinced he is in his last seconds, he squeezed at Axel's hand three times before he slipped away.

Issané’s own hand slid as she repaired, causing her patient to suddenly cough blood, her expression reflecting she hadn't intended at all for that to occur. Mouthing her apology for the mishap, her mind full of the word, she gestured it to the stricken body in front of her.

But stunned by the scene, shaken, Axel’s whole world is turned upside down within those three horrific seconds. He cannot look at the strained, blood-spattered body in front of him. An illusion? Was it? Is he dead? Tell me!

She took a tick to respond, engrossed in her task. Shock.

Pale as he can get, while flushed at the same time, Axel's complexion became mottled. Real fear threatened him then, and concentrating hard, with Kayn's cheek resting against his leg, he smoothed the scant forelock of blonde in his hands. Absent, he ran his fingertips over the stubble where his undercut used to be, and using his cuff, he wiped the coughed blood from the corner of his mouth. Even in his inner speech, Issané hears that he is tearful. You’ve done this before? You'll bring him back to me? He'll live? We can trust you?

She does not answer his barrage of questions, but nodded instead, transfixed on the glow between her hands. More carefully now, she ensured the skin was making good contact and that everything that should be on the inside of him was in fact inside, while blood crackled and turned to glitter, covering her hands as she sealed the wound she worked on. Mesmerising to watch, the others peer over her shoulder, but Axel still cannot face it. Yep. There you go, good as new. She grinned. Better than, in fact. I’ve fixed him for you.

Done, she runs her hand over his chest and belly one last time, patting him, amiable, and proud of a job well done. She felt the irony, her plan going well for once, but Axel is inexplicably angry.

Heat rose at her over familiarity, as well as her choice of words. “I asked you, can you be trusted? TELL ME.”

She looked up at Axel then, expression distasteful at his shout. Meeting his eye, she is unafraid of his territorial glare. She knew what fear was underneath it. Easing herself away from his property, back from kneeling to crouch again, she is ready. Reaching for her blade, she flicked Kayn’s blood off it, and nonchalant, she raised her eyebrows while she cleans it. Cautious again to hide the smart-arse smirk she didn’t want him to see, as well as the irritation in her thoughts which she could tell wouldn’t help any of them in this moment, she answered him, honest.

I said yes, Axel.

Satisfied she is genuine, the wound healed shut, Axel is abrupt, springing into action and ordering Jed and Reed to turn from their fierce clinging to each other for dear life, to helping him haul Kayn to bed. Urgent, blaring at them that he wanted him comfortable while he recovered, he is still paled. Turning greyish, a cold sweat covered him as he swallows back dread, and he used a voice they never heard unless he spoke about his father. He barked his instructions, imposing, cutting, harsh. “No. No! Don’t put him in there. Fuck's sake! My room. It's more comfortable. My bed. Now.”

They saw the terror in his face, eyes glued to the floor, a rosy flush burning on his cheeks. Jed nor Reed question him, sharing a glance between themselves instead, and leaving the girl with a still half drawn, half cut Tristin, the three make to settle their friend somewhere safe from her.

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