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He was barely aware when Aya's hands took hold of his face. He reflexively pulled back from her touch and pushed her away, but his arm had gone heavy and his vision had blurred worse than ever. Everything throbbed, and nothing made sense. Dranzer shouldn't have caught fire like that, so...explosively. So out of control, especially when he hadn't meant to summon...what?

Her hands returned to his arms, icy and painful against his smarting skin. A sound rose to his awareness, low, coaxing, beautiful and soft as harp strings.

"Shut up," he tried pushing her back, but now even his arms were failing. He would fall. "Don't take—don't make any..."

So gentle. Even as what could only be her song continued, his fear begun to fade, as though drugged. With it went the last of his will to remain conscious.

He woke up to too white and too bright. Faces he didn't know shuffled about, their pink mouths moving. He couldn't hear her, and he cried out as all the fear caved into the blackness, brilliant as sharpened knives and glacial ice. Was this pain ridden vulnerable thing really who he was? No, this couldn't be it. This had to be death. He was dying. And it hurt.

"It's alright, Kai, you're going to be all right. Can you tell me how old you are?"

He didn't give a damn about his age. He didn't give a damn about these people. He wanted out—he wanted the pain to end—Tyson and Ray and Max, he had to get to them. He had to get to them. He had to...

"He's hitting 180, we need a sedative!"

But he was awake now, and knew entirely where he was. He was on a gurney in the emergency room, surrounded by the hospital flock once more, and as they fluttered to hold him down he saw no difference between them and the frivolous chicken-fan girls back at the stadium.

He pushed back the nurses, surprising them with his strength. His chest was bare, allowing him to see just how red the slashing burns along his arms were in comparison to the pinkened skin on his chest that had at least the protection of his shirt.

Dranzer had burned him. That was impossible. Dranzer had never burned him, even when he had been young and inexperienced.

But he couldn't worry about that now. The others didn't know what was coming for them and he didn't know how many assassins had been in that building. Who had they come for? Had anyone died or had they really come just for him? But, then, how could they expect him to come to the cat walk? Had that just been a coincidence?

Ayah. How had she known? No one could just have 'instincts' for that, but then why would they feel the need to threaten him in order to get to her?

But it didn't matter, because when they tried, they'd be stopped by his team—his foolish, trusting, naïve team who would protect Ayah with their lives without question, and be mowed down in the act.

He knocked the syringe out of the hand that aimed it at him.

"I'm fine," he snapped. "Let me go."

"Some of these are third degree, you must be in a lot of pain—"

"No shit! Get off me!"

The medical flock about him had gone beyond distressed by now. A tiny nurse he hadn't noticed before had thrown herself over his injured leg, and it took him a second to realize she had been half way through stitching the gash in its side when he came to. Blood had been smeared up her shirt and across her cheek, and her belligerent gaze met his with the only fierceness in the room besides him.

"You stupid kid," she snapped. "You'll get up when I'm done with you!"

He was so caught off guard by how much fury such a frizzy headed, tiny person could convey that by the time he noticed the syringe coming in again, it was too late to dodge it. There was a prick on his thigh and the world suddenly flopped over onto its side.

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