Chapter 17

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Fia wrinkled his nose at the smell of decomposing garbage. The back alley glowed under a red neon light as he proceeded to tug a stiff body bag towards the open dumpster and relief tugged at the back of his mind.

Even if he'd only managed to kill one, the rest of them knew not to come looking for him.

Fia hefted the stiff body bag into the dumpster, covering up the single corpse with a few handfuls of cardboard and bottles. He wiped his nose, shivering a little and suppressing the lingering pangs of guilt. It wasn't the first time he'd killed.

He was hoping it was the last.

Even in self-defense, blood on his hands never seemed to wash off cleanly.

Fia shut the lid on the dumpster and shivered as a breeze tossed sand into the air as it hissed down the alley.

He stood quietly for a moment, looking towards the mouth of the alley and thinking.

No amount of blood on his hands, however, would deter him from defending Yann. He was willing to die for her. He was more than willing to kill for her. If they wanted to threaten him, he could run, hide, and escape.

But if they came for her...

They would be the ones running. They'd never be able to hide, and they'd only die tired.

Fia dusted his hands off and walked to the door in the alley.

He glanced at the dumpster once more, and exhaled.

It'd been worth it. But only because of what was inside.

Fia turned the knob and stepped inside.

The smell of powerful alcohol filled his nose, the dim and warm light from his personal back room at The Sand Pit illuminating Yann as she sat on the edge of their bed. Her once-crisp newsroom shirt was creased and stained with tears, her shoes tossed to the side and her drink untouched. The sheets were bunched up from where she had been clenching them, and her eyes only jumped up to meet his for a moment.

Fia felt his heart tug. He'd defended her from harm. But he needed to comfort her too. He wanted to.

"Yann..." He said softly, starting to pace towards her. "You need to eat. Or at least stay hydrated." He said, nudging her glass of premium vodka.

She nodded.

"I know." She mumbled, not looking at him.

Fia bit his lip.

"Are you upset with me?"

Yann looked up at him.

Fia met eyes with her. He felt his chest tighten, his instincts demanding that he remedy each tear and his heart pleading with him to be close to her.

"No." She said, her voice still raw. "I'm just..."

Her voice cracked, and so did his heart.

He sat, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and letting her lay her cheek on his chest.

Yann tried to wrap her arms around Fia, her whole frame trembling as tears wetted Fia's shirt.

"I-I-I'm scared."

She swallowed, and quietly cried for a minute.

"I'm scared for you. And for us." She took in a shaky breath, "What if we don't make it out?"

Fia stroked the back of her head quietly, soothing her and holding her close.

"Don't worry." He said, looking across the room at his weapon.

"We will."

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