A Good Servant Ch. 19

By Laura S. Fox

Copyright 2018 Laura S. Fox

All Rights Reserved

Gay Erotica

Intended for Mature Audiences Only

This story contains graphic depictions of sexual intercourse, strong language and it is not meant for readers who are less than 18 years of age.

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Chapter Nineteen

He wasn't in shock. There were small bouts of pain radiating from the point where the metal ends were hanging, and he could hear his heartbeat resonating in his ears.

"Marcus, what the fuck, man?" Ayn was the first to react.

Ayn pushed Marcus away, and grabbed the man's hand, forcing him to lower the weapon. As expected, Marcus pushed back, trying to hold Xavier at gun point.

"He's a fucking freak, Ayn! Let me put a hole through that metal head!"

"No fucking way!"

"Stop it!" Xavier intervened.

The two other men turned to look at him, Ayn's hands still on Marcus's wrist, fighting him, the other fighting him back.

"I'm still bleeding," he pointed out, raising his hand.

Ayn let go of Marcus and grabbed the torch from the ground. He didn't look at Xavier at all, while directing the blaze over the open wound. Xavier grunted and thrashed despite his effort to remain cool. He was breathing heavily and the smell of burnt flesh was making him sick to the stomach.

"He bleeds like a man," Ayn pointed at Xavier, as he stood up, and looked at Marcus.

"Then what is that shit? Could you tell us what the fuck you are?" Marcus had no qualms about turning to look at Xavier.

At least, the man no longer seemed that murderous, lowering his gun and just watching Xavier with a deep frown on his face.

"It may come as a surprise to you, but I do not know the answer to this question. These modifications have occurred without my knowledge of the situation," Xavier spoke with difficulty.

"How can you tell you're not going to kill us all? I'm sure you can break our necks, like this," Marcus made a hand gesture to emphasize his words.

"I doubt it," Xavier replied. "Ayn can overpower me, and I doubt he is stronger than you."

Marcus shook his head, his frown deepening.

"I don't believe you. Your word is horseshit."

"It's true," Ayn mumbled. "I can take Xav, if need be."

"I am not going to turn against you. Do you have anything in those skulls that might resemble brains?" Xav shook away Ayn's hand still resting on his wrist. "But please, do not let me keep you. The both of you. I will take the bracelet with me and be out of your hair right away."

He stood up. There was a small, rhythmic throb in his hand. It was going to get infected, most probably. But it didn't matter, anyway. His lifespan prognosis didn't look any brighter now from before.

"The fuck you will!" Marcus said through his teeth. "We'll take that thing and throw it somewhere away from here. And you? We'll just fucking kill you."

Xavier sighed.

"Should I want you dead, I would say `fine by me'. But, regardless of what you might think of all these, I still think it would be for the best that you two won't be anywhere near me. Unless you want a death warrant and a bounty on your heads."

"No one is killing anyone," Ayn intervened sharply.

"Like fuck not!" Marcus protested. "Ayn, listen to me, moron. This is not your sweetheart," he pointed the finger at Xavier. "He's some fucking machine and he will fucking kill us in our sleep."

"So why hasn't he?" Ayn batted his friend's hand away from his face. "He could have done it countless times until now."

"Beats me! How should I know what freaks like this one think? I bet he has a plan!"

"The only plan I have is to start walking," Xavier spoke.

True to his word, he stood up and picked the bracelet from the ground with the only hand he had whole now. The greyish light was still there, but it was getting fainter and fainter by the second. That was a good sign. Probably there had been a magnetic impulse between the metallic structure enveloping his bones and the device. With it gone, there was a chance for the device to lose its power.

He started walking away, his decision taken. But strong arms reached him from behind, pulling him into a strong hug.

"I said that you're not going," Ayn spoke, his voice pained and soft.

"Ayn," Xavier warned. "Go back to Haven. Forget everything."

"No way," Ayn said stubbornly.

"Marcus," Xavier called. "Please take Ayn away. As you can see, I cannot break myself free from him, especially now with this bloody pain in my arm."

"No, you're coming with us," Marcus replied. "I know the perfect place to throw that shit away. And we could throw you there, too. No one will find you."

"Stop speaking shit, Marcus!" Ayn shouted, but he didn't let go of Xavier.

"Ayn, you stop with the bullshit! This guy's bad news. Don't worry, I'll let you kill him."

"Like hell I will!" Ayn shouted again.

Xavier set his jaw.

"You are doing nothing but endanger yourselves. Go back now. Marcus, be at least the one reasonable. Take Ayn and go."

"No, I need to see you dead, motherfucker," Marcus spat. "I don't trust you."

"And you have no reason to. Fine, let's go to this perfect resting place for me," Xavier decided to acquiesce. "Ayn, let's go."

"No way! No one is killing no one! Do you hear me, Marcus? Or do you want to kill me, too?" Ayn finally let go of Xavier to turn and face Marcus.

"Don't make me. Are you insane? Dude's some kind of robot! Do you think he cares about you?" Marcus gestured wildly, his gun still in his hand.

"He does, or else he wouldn't have left in the first place, moron. And he's not a fucking robot!"

"Then why the fuck is he made of metal?" Marcus yelled.

"I am not made of metal," Xavier protested.

The throbbing in his arm was intensifying, and the pain was making his stomach clench. He dropped to his knees.

"Xav, what the fuck?" Ayn asked, alarmed.

The world went black.

***

He woke up to the monotonous sound of the vehicle engine. For seconds, he didn't open his eyes. This way, he could listen to the conversation taking place between Ayn and Marcus.

"Do you vouch for him, then?" Marcus's voice was apprehensive and tired.

"Of course I do. Since when do we know each other, Marcus?" Ayn was aggressive, but Xavier could read impatience and fear in his man's voice, as well.

"I must be fucking mad," Marcus murmured. "If it were just me at stake, I'd say, `yeah, why the hell not, let's see how I fare going against a robot', but you know, Ayn, that it's not just me. Think of all the people back home. If some shit goes down, they'll just pay the price."

"I know Xav," Ayn said stubbornly. "He left that shitty city of his with me, and not because I forced him. He could just sound that fucking alarm and have me executed, like that," he snapped his fingers.

"You really do think that thing loves you or something," Marcus sighed.

"He isn't a thing. He's flesh and blood. I know he is."

"All right, I am a complete idiot for trusting you with this."

"Come on, man, why would he have let you cut his thumb if he knew he was going to expose himself? He doesn't know why he's like this."

"Yeah, and we don't know what he's capable of. What if he has one of those machines in his brain that'll tell him to kill everyone?"

Ayn grunted in response. Xavier decided that it was time for him to intervene.

"I highly doubt it."

Marcus didn't turn to look at him, busy tending the wheel. But Ayn did. Xavier wasn't sure he could face all the questions in those dark eyes. But he could reply to a few from Marcus.

"What makes you say that, Your Majesty?"

Good, the man was back to calling him annoying nicknames. That was a good sign.

"There would have been no need for the bracelet, should I have had a neural implant," he replied promptly.

"I don't think I understood all the words you said," Marcus shot back.

"These modifications I have, they may not be extensive. There was still a need for an external device. And by the way the signal seems to fade, it needed to be close to me. Take a look at the bracelet, Ayn."

"It looks dead," Ayn grabbed the thing from the dashboard and shown it to Xavier.

"See? The proof is in front of your eyes. But still, Ayn, I believe that Marcus has a point. It is best if you don't let me live."

He could not believe his own ears, but his decision could not be shaken. Not by Ayn's dark eyes filled with hurt. Not by the hands that were now reaching for him.

"Your Majesty," Marcus sighed, "your boyfriend here, unfortunately, is deep under my skin. So Gods forgive me if I'm making a huge mistake here, but after we throw this thing away, you're coming back with us to Haven."

"Marcus," Xavier tried to reason with the man. "Hear me out."

"No, I'm done with talking. And I already cut you once. I spilled your blood. That's enough for me. Should be."

"Now I am the one who fails to understand your logic."

"Don't bother," Marcus raised one hand and waved. "Your partner thinks you're human. You say you have no idea you were modified. And you two just seem so in love that it's stupid. Who am I to go against that? But, make sure you understand this one right. The moment I notice you putting us in danger, I'll fucking kill you, no matter what your boyfriend says."

"Fair enough," Xavier replied.

He got to one side and grunted.

"This thing fucking hurts like hell," he mumbled. "Do you still have that booze?"

"Look at His Majesty. He even knows dirty words. Hit the man with some medicine, Ayn. And stop staring at me like you found God or something."

"I owe you everything, Marcus," Ayn patted Marcus on the back.

Xavier was thankful when Ayn cradled him into his arms and helped him drink some of Marcus's liquor.

"This thing tastes like gasoline," he grimaced, but took another mouthful.

The burn in his blood was doing him good.

"Who says it isn't?" Marcus joked.

"We need something more than this for the infection," Ayn spoke. "I don't like how this hand looks."

Marcus threw a look behind.

"Shit."

"Yes," Ayn confirmed.

"You should draw some blood from the area," Xavier offered.

"Yeah, that will help," Marcus confirmed. "It's bad blood there."

"More cutting?" Ayn asked.

Xavier captured Ayn's hand with his free one.

"It will prevent the infection from spreading, trust me on this. I will show you where to cut."

"Okay," Ayn nodded.

"Are you going to make a mess in my luxurious vehicle?" Marcus joked.

"Fuck you, man," Ayn said back, but there was no more bite in his bark this time.

Somehow, the two men had reached an understanding. Xavier could not say it was a good or a bad thing. But one part of him, the egotistical one, the one that yearned for Ayn's love, was tipping the balance hard.

***

"So, what are we going to do now?" Edgar tried to get his attention.

Cory could barely draw his eyes away from the book he had brought with him to dinner. He could feel the women's eyes on him from all sides, but he was trying to ignore them. It was normal for them not to trust them. They were men, after all. He had to say that it was unnerving for him too, to be surrounded by so many females, and it was only this much he could do not to stare. In Aeria, the women had been so wrapped up in their strange clothes and were talking only about scientific topics that he hadn't felt that uneasy. But here, many of the women, especially the young ones, had lost their hoods to show off their flowing hair and fresh faces. So he was trying hard to focus on reading. The fact that Edgar was pestering him wasn't exactly helping.

"I suppose we should just read some more," he whispered, aware of the way some of the others were trying to pretend not to be interested. "And I thought you were hungry."

"The food here appears to be quite filling. I don't think I am capable of taking another bite. Frankly, I think we should talk to Tora again."

"Why are you so impatient?" Cory finally decided to look at Edgar.

The man looked a bit pale and he was adjusting his collar over and over again. What could make Edgar so uncomfortable? He risked a look around and understood right away. Some of the women were giggling and pointing at them. While Cory had done a fine job ignoring them, poor Edgar hadn't been that strong.

"You have women in Aeria," Cory tried to point out, leaning over the table.

At least, they had been allowed a small private table, so, if they managed to speak quietly, no one could understand them.

"Yes, we do, but never before have I ..." Edgar began, but stopped mid-sentence.

"Go on," Cory tried to encourage his friend to speak.

"Well," the other exhaled, "never again have I been the subject of so much interest from the fairer sex."

"Ah," Cory managed. "What about Lena?"

"You're not helping," Edgar glared.

"Why should you be so bothered? And they're staring at us, not particularly at you," Cory tried to reason with the Aerian scientist.

For a man who was supposed to be extremely rational, Edgar seemed to be quite an emotional mess at the moment.

"Again, Cory, this is not helpful. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to act? What if I do something that is not done?"

"Like what?"

"I don't know," Edgar complained. "Let's just go."

"All right," Cory understood his friend's predicament and closed his book.

Maybe it was not such a bad idea to talk to Tora after all.

***

The old woman was sitting behind a wooden desk that looked like it was sharing her age, and there was musty smell, of ancient books, all around, more overpowering than it had been at Edgar's house, in Aeria.

Tora was accompanied by that young woman, Diane was her name, if he remembered correctly. They were both perusing some papers, and were engaged in hush conversation. Diane's young face was scrunched up in thought, and she was carefully listening to what Tora was telling her.

"We're sorry to bother you," Cory began.

"Not at all," Tora waved and gestured for them to sit on a long wooden bench that seem to be siblings to the old desk. "Diane and I were just talking about the next step of your journey."

"The next step of our journey?" Cory repeated, unsure he was understanding Tora's words right.

"Oh, thank you, thank you," Edgar mumbled next to him, and Cory elbowed him quickly.

"Too bad you have to leave so soon," Diane spoke and giggled, her attention trained on Edgar more than on Cory.

It was clear as day that the young woman found great pleasure in tormenting the poor man. Cory just squeezed Edgar's hand in sympathy.

Tora began speaking again.

"You needed the rest, and if it were solely after me, I will keep you here with me a lot longer."

"And we would have been so happy to have you," Diane spoke, earning a stern look from Tora. "With all due respect, mother, but look at how cute they are. You can't expect us not to talk. And make plans."

"Plans? What about?" Cory asked.

Diane's mischievous eyes set on him this time.

"For making babies, of course."

"Babies?" Edgar exclaimed. "Well, I do understand why Cory, but what could I possibly offer in terms of genetic material? And do you have one of the Trainers' reproduction facilities here?"

"You're kidding me, right?" Diane snorted. "First of all, you're a scientist from Aeria. And you're cute. Secondly, we prefer the old fashion way of reproduction," she burst into laughter right away.

Edgar remained nonplused, while Cory averted his eyes, blushing. Poor Edgar didn't have it in him to protest anymore.

"Stop teasing the young men, Diane," Tora finally intervened. "They have a nobler mission. Diane will take you to one of the settlements inhabited by free men. There you can start laying your groundwork."

"But what work that might be?" Cory inquired.

"Recruiting man power," Tora explained.

"For what? We're nothing but a former servant, and a scientist, both on the run. I don't see how we will manage to convince these men ..."

"You will," Tora cut him short and stood up with difficulty.

Diane hurried to help her. Tora rummaged for something in the folds of her black dress and her gnarly hand came back with something that looked like a pendant. From up close, he noticed that the silver wires were making up the same symbol he had burned into his flesh.

"Those who pray, those who work, and those who fight," Edgar spoke.

Tora nodded.

"It is up to you to unite them all."

"So, I'm going to go searching for ... those who fight?" Cory asked, taking the pendant and wrapping its long chain around his hand.

"Yes. You know those who work. They are your friends back home, and you were once one of them. You have just met those who pray, here, so the only ones that remain for you to know are those who fight," the old woman explained.

"How will I know ..." Cory hesitated. "How will I know how to make them join us?"

"You show them the pendant. We all do our part. You just need to do yours. You were born for it."

He wasn't so convinced. Everything seemed new.

"We need to fight them," he spoke with determination, going against the feeling of anxiety nestling in his chest.

"Yes, we need to fight them. There, in the dessert, The One is not forgotten. Your pendant will keep you safe and will bring you what you need to move forward."

"Are you in danger?" Cory asked. "It feels like we are leaving you behind."

"Don't worry about us, Cory," Tora caressed his cheek and her glassy eyes filled with warmth. "We know what danger is. We live with it every day. They might think that they made us kneel, but as we knelt, we prayed. Our faith is not a whim, something they believe they let us have so that we obey. Our faith is the true power of this world. Help us unite those who believe."

"Yes," Cory said softly.

"Can I still have the scientist?" Diane interrupted.

Cory might have thought the young woman rude, but, by the way she hurried to take Tora to sit down again he understood that they were overstaying their welcome.

"Well, when are we bound to leave?" he inquired.

"First thing in the morning," Tora said.

"But what about the books? I've barely scratched the surface about ..." Cory protested, but his voice was low.

"One day, you will have the time to sit and read," Tora said softly. "But now the time is ripe for action, not for old words on paper."

"Will I ..." Cory stopped for a second. Was it the right thing to ask? "Will I ever see her again?"

"Don't you understand, child? She is you and you are her."

With those mysterious words, Tora gestured for Diane to see them to the door. Any answers he wanted to learn, he had to find them on his own.

***

Xavier looked down the deserted well and then watched Marcus throwing the bracelet into the darkness.

"Tempted to join that thing?" Marcus pressed one heavy hand on his shoulder.

"Not in particular," he replied.

Marcus laughed.

"His Majesty knows a joke or two, it seems," the man talked to Ayn, who was sitting a few steps away, in a crouched position, pretending to be taken with examining the way the grains of sand were flowing through his fingers, as he picked fist after fist full of them.

"Are we done? Can we get home?" Ayn asked, without raising his eyes.

The young man was troubled. Xavier could tell. He wished he could chase those troubles away, and it felt like such a thing was not in his power at all.

"Sure, let's hit the road," Marcus agreed.

For the long exhausting hours back to Heaven, everyone remained silent. Xavier could feel the pain in his hand, raw and intense. He was not a robot, and that meant that he could still die from an infection. Haven was not the best place to get medical attention. By the frown on Ayn's face, the guy knew it, too. Marcus was probably trying to deal with his own thoughts, as well.

***

"How is it?" Ayn asked softly, placing a hand on his arm.

Xavier laid on his back, trying hard not to moan in pain. There was no point in scaring Ayn more, at this point.

"I'm as fine as I can be, seeing what I went through," he tried to joke.

"That hands hurts like fuck, right?"

"It does. I'm afraid that we need to take more of it out."

"You need medicine," Ayn said flatly.

"Yes," he confirmed.

"We cannot treat you here."

"That's true. But don't worry. People are already suspicious, seeing me like this. I noticed their looks," Xavier added, watching Ayn turn his head away. "Don't give them any more reason to suspect something is not right."

"I won't watch you die," Ayn said stubbornly.

"Then don't watch," he replied. "You should have just killed me there, and threw me in that well. You're putting your life in danger for nothing."

"It's not for nothing, asshole," Ayn shouted.

When Ayn had been just a slave, his slave, suffering through everything that had entailed, he had never cried, if Xavier could still remember correctly. But right now, there was so much pain in the man's voice that Xavier found it unbearable.

"Consider this, Ayn. We had a good time together," Xavier said.

Ayn made a small pained sound.

"We had," Xavier insisted. "So I'm asking you this. Wipe your tears, look ahead, and survive. It's not much I'm asking."

"You're such a bastard," Ayn sniffled. "You're asking me everything. I won't do it without you."

"Stop speaking like this," Xavier hoped his lover could still find reason.

"You stop speaking like this," the young man shot back. "You don't have the right. As soon as Marcus is up, I'll go with him to find some medicine. Something that works."

"Your head is clouded. I fear you might not be careful enough."

"Oh, I'll be careful enough. I'll blast the fucking head of anyone who gets in my way," Ayn spoke through his teeth.

"Hey, come here," he stretched his good hand towards his lover.

Ayn linked his fingers with his, but he didn't move.

"I want you here," he insisted.

Ayn finally came closer.

"Here," he put his hand over his chest. "Come here and have some rest."

Running his fingers slowly through Ayn's hair, Xavier drifted off to sleep. He knew he was going to wake up soon, due to the pain, but Ayn needed to rest, and the man's proximity was making him feel at peace, too.

***

Diane seemed a different person, in her new getup consisting of a jacket, pants and boots the color of the desert and made from some kind of rough material. She wore a helmet, too, as well as a large piece of eyegear that was covering half her face.

They had been given the same sort of clothes, although finding something to fit them well had been a bit of a challenge, seeing that everyone around was female. It was a good thing, after all, that Edgar and him were not exactly well-built, or that would have become a problem.

"I wish you guys could have stayed longer," Diane chirped away happily. "We didn't even have enough time to show you where we raise the children."

"Do you have children here? And the Trainers don't know about it?" Cory expressed his wonder.

"We know how to hide them. They're predictable in their routines, plus, it helps that they're so disgusted with us that they don't care for visits."

"But they did come to Aeria announced," Edgar pointed out.

"When they came for you, right? Well, we're prepared for all sorts of situations," Diane winked at the scientists, making Edgar look away in distress. "You're so shy for a guy who's into science. I thought there are no mysteries left for you to uncover," she teased.

"I'm afraid there are plenty of mysteries I have not yet the pleasure to uncover, and the female of the species is one of them," Edgar replied promptly, although he kept his eyes averted.

Diane guffawed.

"You're so much fun. I like you!" she exclaimed.

"He has a special someone," Cory intervened, seeing his friend in trouble, as Diane seated behind the wheel of what looked like a truck, and patted the place next to her, while looking intently at Edgar.

"Oh, you do?" Diane asked Edgar. "Boy or girl?"

"Well, Lena is a female," Edgar tried to explain. "But our conversations used to be purely in the realm of the reasonable and the explainable."

Diane's eyes traveled from Edgar to Cory.

"This Lena girl must really hate Edgar right now," she shook her head. "He clearly didn't take one step to uncover her mysteries," she added with an eye roll, and ignited the engine.

"You're not fair," Cory tried to side with his friend, but he could feel his lips twitching at Diane's shenanigans. "They have this machine in Aeria that robs you of your happiness, if you ever feel something for someone."

"Yeah, I heard," Diane made a disgusted face. "Well, when you guys beat the Trainers, we will destroy that stupid machine, and Edgar will be able to do other things with Lena, besides interesting conversations."

"I beg your pardon," Edgar said with a small huff. "There can be no way I can ... debase Lena with ..." the man had a lot of trouble finding his own words.

"Is she pretty?" Diane asked, interrupting his mumbling.

"Lena? I ..."

"She is," Cory offered. "Edgar is madly in love with her."

"That clearly he is," Diane grinned. "He can barely speak her name."

"You two," Edgar shook his head, but he began smiling, too. "You are having fun at my expense, right?"

"We definitely are," Diane confirmed.

The machine started rolling.

"How do you know where we're going?" Cory wanted to know.

Diane pointed at the strange displays on the board.

"We have this baby to show us the way."

"But where is it that you're taking us? Tora didn't say," Cory fished for more information.

The pendant was heavy in his pocket.

"We'll drive to the nearest settlement where free men live. I can introduce you to a few people, but from there on out, it's up to you. I cannot be away for too long. The old lady needs me."

"She definitely does," Cory murmured.

"Sometimes I feel like she has just postponed any rest, just so she could see you," Diane spoke.

"I'm not sure why she thinks I'm so important."

"Well, you're her son, I mean HER son," Diane said with a bit of emphasis. "And not in the sense like we all are her children, but you're really hers. The One somehow managed to sneak you into this world, and there's just one reason for that."

"How do you know so much? I mean, it must be old history."

"It is," Diane confirmed. "Sometimes I wish I had as much faith as Tora. But, I must admit, although I read the old words, and I sing them, and I pray them late at night, I ... don't feel the same way. It might all be just, you know, make believe."

"Does Tora know this is what you think?" Edgar questioned.

"No. It would break her heart. She has been a priestess all her life. Since she was a little girl. Her mother was one, too, and so was her grandmother. But she had no kids of her own. And she often joked saying that it was only one child she was expecting, and would all her life. It looks like her wait is over," Diane looked over at Cory. "Don't disappoint her, okay?"

Cory nodded.

"I wish I could say that with more determination," he spoke. "But I'm not a believer. I wish I was. I mean, it feels like there's hardly anything else I want more right now."

"It will come to you," Diane shrugged. "Tora says so. And even if I'm not that big a believer myself, and I cannot give you advice, I have to tell you something. This faith thing? It grows on you. It's like you're never alone at night. So it has to be real."

"If you say so," Cory looked down. "I wish Tora had let us take those books with us."

"It's guns you'll need, not books," Diane replied.

"I don't want to sound like the devil's advocate here," Edgar spoke, "but, as Cory already said, we're not exactly warrior material."

"It's not you who'll have to carry those weapons," Diane explained. "I tell you this, though. You don't have to be a fighter to have the will to fight. And, seeing what we're going up against, we'll need everyone. But, of course, it never hurts to have some real fighters on our side."

"Will we find them in these settlements?" Cory questioned.

"The people living out there," Diane gestured for the desert stretching in front of them, "they're survivors. Yes, they steal, and they cheat, and they brawl, but they're of the mold you need for what's ahead. And, while they might not be the most ardent believers, they have plenty of hate in their hearts. You'll have to play on that."

***

Ayn woke up with the first rays of sun. He looked at Xav for a few long minutes, taking in the man's breath. Xav was a strong motherfucker, but it was not like he could cheat that fucking thing, or go against it. Not without medicine, and that was something they didn't have there.

He moved slowly, to avoid waking up his lover. It was maybe a good thing that Xav could sleep. Ayn didn't like the pallor stretching on the man's face, nor the way his arm twitched from time to time on the wound side.

He had slept enough. Now it was time for action. Marcus had to help, but first, he needed to leave Xav on good hands.

***

Xavier could feel something cool and pleasant touching his forehead. With some difficulty, he managed to open his eyes.

"Hey, hey, look who's awake," Myra appeared in his field of vision, smiling. "So, what happened?" she gestured towards his hand.

"What are you doing here?" Xav struggled to get up, taking the cold cloth from his forehead and threwing it away. "Who let you in? Where is Ayn?"

Myra huffed and went to collect the wet cloth from the corner where Xavier had thrown it. She mumbled something, but he could not exactly make what she was saying. Probably some unflattering words directed at him.

"Ayn has work to do," Myra explained, as she threw the cloth into a trashcan and proceeded to collect another from a bag she had left on a chair. "You should be a good boy and make yourself well," she wagged the finger at him.

Xavier huffed in indignation.

"I cannot tolerate you. Please, be gone," he spoke.

"Yeah, you wish," Myra snorted. "Now tell me, Xav, is women in general you don't tolerate, or do you have something against me in particular?"

He stared at her, hoping that his rightful annoyance was going to make the damn woman to shut up. There was no such luck, it seemed. Myra's grin was only widening, getting on his nerves.

"You're so damn lucky he loves you," Myra continued. "Or else ..." she left her threat hanging in the air.

"No, please, indulge me," he pushed her hand away, as she tried to touch him again, and push him on the bed. "Tell me what I should expect from the likes of you."

"I'll be damned," Myra guffawed. "You're stupidly jealous! Of me!"

"You're misunderstanding," he clenched his teeth, as Myra held his shoulder down, and fiddled with the cloth, dipping it in a small bucket, filled with water, placed on the nightstand.

"No shit," she replied with satisfaction. "Well, seeing that you're sick, I won't take pleasure in tormenting you, although I feel so damn tempted. Ayn and I might go way back, but we're not an item, don't worry. Now, seriously, just sit nicely already, or I can't play nurse."

"I doubt you can be of any help," Xavier protested, but fighting the woman was too hard. For the moment, he was going to let her win. Plus, his throbbing temples felt a little better with the cold cloth on his forehead.

"Well, it looks like you're in deep shit," Myra nodded, her eyes clouding for a second. "But don't worry," she said brightly. "Ayn will find what's needed and get it for you. All you have to do is to lie here, like a good boy, and let me take good care of you until you're better. How does that sound?"

"It looks like I don't have a word to say," Xavier turned his eyes away.

"Hmm, seeing how much obnoxious you can be when you talk, maybe that's for the better," she replied.

Somehow that irked him.

"Then I won't stay silent. Maybe my obnoxiousness will convince you to leave me alone."

"Sure, and then let Ayn have my head. No, thanks. I think I have a really pretty head."

He stared at her, and she laughed.

"Xav, you're so much fun. Really, Ayn should let others talk to you. You might be haughty and a bit annoying, but you're too handsome to frown all the time. C'mon, let me tell about this place."

"I'd rather not listen to your annoying voice," Xavier mumbled.

"Well, you have no choice. Now, I brought some food, but I don't know if you can keep it down."

She was watching him now with serious eyes. He could have used a bit of nourishment, so he made a gesture for Myra to bring the food.

It was weird to be helped out like that. He could not remember ever feeling ill, and he had always had servants to take care of him, so this was all new. But, from so up close, Myra didn't seem as dangerous as he thought her to be. There were fine lines around her bright eyes, and something in them was telling him Myra had seen plenty, despite still being a young woman.

The soup was filling his stomach, spreading a sensation of warmth, pleasant, and making him feel like he wanted to go back to sleep. And Myra began talking, in a soothing voice, her words falling, one after another, like beads on a string. She was talking about Haven, and he tried to focus, but soon enough, sleep took him.

***

Dion carefully pushed a few rebel strands under the helmet, and he watched with unease as Andreas was swinging his hips and flirting with the guards. The entrance to the mines was making him shiver; it gaped like a mouth, ready to swallow everything and everyone. The men walking through seemed all made of the same mold. They were tired, moving like in a trance, their faces as grey as the clothes they were.

He could not see John among them, but his man had left early in the morning. The guards seemed impressed with Andreas's charms, but not enough, and their eyes were still traveling towards the men pouring in, scouting them. They were younger than the miners, and maybe that position was giving them an advantage, because they didn't seem to care that they were watching over people like them. There was a certain sense of superiority in how they held their hands resting on their weapons.

Dion could not remember ever seeing that kind of weapons in Drena. There, the higher ups often indulged in collecting beautiful pieces, and some even liked the sport, so almost everything could be found, even some serious firepower. Antoine had once threatened him with one of the weapons in their master's arsenal, only to reveal later that there was no ammunition. While servants could acquire weapons for their masters, ammunition was a totally different thing and even the Rulers had to justify ever firing a weapon.

But he was pretty certain that the dark weapons carried casually by the guards were loaded. The men would not have looked so empowered if they hadn't been.

The crowd of miners going in was thinning. It was time for him to hurry, or else he was not going to make it. He looked over at Andreas, and it was like the guy could sense his distress, because he suddenly grabbed one of the guards and kissed him on his lips, making the other hoot.

Dion sprinted towards the gates, and didn't throw one look toward Andreas. He was afraid for his new friend, but there, in the darkness, John was in danger.

"Hey, you," he heard someone calling from behind, and he just sped up.

A heavy hand landed on his shoulder and he turned slightly, feeling his knees on the point of giving in.

"You forgot this," the miner who had stopped him spoke.

The man pushed a small pendant into his hand. Dion looked at the object and felt his fingers getting numb. The miner began walking, without looking at him again. He let the pendant slid from his hand, and brushed it with his foot, covering it with soot and dirt. The blood was returning to his fingers.

He hurried into the darkness.

TBC

Author's note:

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