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Chapter 3: Composure

Prompt(s) Used: “You’re not as evil as people think you are.” “No, I’m much worse.”

 

“Ju-”

“Rain, run.”

I wanted to run. There shouldn’t have been anything holding me back from doing just that. I despised him. I hated how there was nothing in the world could make him lose his composure. I hated how he teased me whenever I started to feel guilty about taking away so many lives. He would laugh while I cried in my locked room at 2AM in the morning.

I hated that he was always saving me when I needed it the most.

“Rain,” this time he sounded like he was pleading with me, “You’re in no position to fight.”

I drew my gun.

Bang.

He wasn’t expecting it, and he didn’t have time to react. That’s the thing with keeping the trigger as a stranger. You’re never comfortable enough with pulling it. Once you’re acquainted with it, sometimes it’s difficult to stop yourself from pulling it again. It’s never as difficult as your first time.

I flinched at the sound of his blood-curdling groan. The gun had fallen out of his grasp and he was clutching his bleeding hand. His knees buckled and gave out from under him. He was going into shock. That was our chance.

Still holding onto the pile of towels, Hail ran towards me. He almost fell over twice before reaching me. He dumped the towels onto me. Luckily, I was able to catch them in time before they fell onto the floor. His urgency was uncharacteristic.

“Are you hurt?” my eyes searched him for answers.

“I need to pay for these before we leave.”

“What?”

He took out his wallet and fished out a few bills. Once he determined that he had the correct amount, he ran back to the cash register and dropped them onto the counter. I stared at him in disbelief.

I knew that I shouldn’t have bothered worrying about him. As usual, he wasn’t fazed by what had just happened. He was more worried about being seen as a thief. Every crisis he faced was just business-as-usual for him. It made me wonder what he had to go through to get that hardened.

“Let’s go,” he took the towels from me and shoved them into a huge bag that he must have gotten from the cashier.

He took my hand and we ran.

*****

“I’m sorry you had to run with your leg all messed up.”

“Who the hell was that back there?”

“What?”

“The guy! Who was that? You never let witnesses survive. How could he have recognised your eyes?”

He looked taken aback by this. It was as if he never considered the possibility that he could have been caught during one of his assignments. His eyes narrowed.

“Nice going, Rain,” he was seething with rage, “Now we won’t get assignments for a while. We’re probably on a watch-list now.”

I had never seen him this emotional. He was fire, but I felt chilled to the bone. This wasn’t the Jude I was familiar with. The thought that he had failed must have shaken him. I, however, wasn’t going to let him talk to me like that because of something that wasn’t my fault.

“Wha-,” I hesitated,” Wha- what’s wrong with you?”

I slapped him. He didn’t even look a little surprised by that.

“I saved your life, you idiot!” my face was starting to heat up.

“I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a trained assassin. I can take care of myself. I don’t need you looking out for me.”

“If that’s the case you’re dead to me because you would have been if I hadn’t shot him!”

I stormed into my room and slammed the door.

“Rain, I-,” I heard muffled by wood and concrete.

I peeled off my coat and threw it onto my bed. I removed my gun and left it unloaded on my desk. My holster came off next. I reached out for my bottle of leather conditioner and rubbed it into my holster with a soft cloth. When I was done, I took a step back to examine my work. There were drops of liquid on the leather. Was the conditioner separating?

No, it must have been my tears. I grabbed the cloth and rubbed it over the leather again to dry off my tears. It wasn’t working. The more I wiped off, the damper the leather got. I couldn’t afford to let something that trivial damage my holster. I kept rubbing. I lifted the cloth hoping to see it dried.

The leather looked like it had been stained red.

“Wha-?” the pressure I applied increased.

I lifted the cloth again. The leather looked wet with blood.

I screamed.

The door flew open.

“Rain, what’s wrong? What happened?” he shouted.

“Blood… BLOOD!”

“Where?”

“On my holster… on my guns… on my hands…”

“Rain, listen to me,” he had a firm hold on my arms, “There’s no blood. It’s not real.”

I screamed again.

“Close your eyes!”

I listened. He jerked my body towards him and put his arms around me. He had never done that before. He felt warm.

“You’ve experienced this before. This too will pass. You’ll be okay.”

“Jude, I’m sorry.”

“Shut up and start feeling better, you idiot.”

He was rubbing my back. He had never done that before. I thought back to what he said about my letting him touch me. Maybe he was only cold and detached because I never let him be anything else. But everyone else who knew him also felt the same way I did about him. There was something about him that made you keep your guard up.

“You know, you’re not as evil as people think you are.”

“No, sweetheart, I’m much worse.”

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