Leon, who my eyes flew back to in an instant as my peripheral vision caught a flash silver in his hand.
A knife. Oh god, he had a knife. This time, I couldn't hide my whimper, and he turned at the sound, making me cringe as I took in his evil smile. Spinning the blade deftly in his hands, he walked slowly towards me, his eyes bright with malice as he paused just a foot away.
'You know for once, I'm glad I didn't kill you all those years ago in the woods.' He said, tilting his head to the side as he stared at me. 'Because now, you might actually be of some use to me.' I'd be lying if I said my heart didn't stutter in a mix of surprise and fear at his words. Surprise, because for the last 36 years he'd never wanted anything except to hurt me and kill me. And fear, because whatever he wanted, it could not possibly be good.
And so I kept one eye warily on the knife, even though he held it carelessly at his side; I knew from experience how good he was at hurting me with it.
It was the reason I carried my own knife with me at all times. I had it on me now; I could feel it pressing against the small of my back, tightly trapped between the wall and my body. It was the one thing I had that might save me. Even though I couldn't reach it, couldn't use it, eventually, I would get the chance.
And it was that knowledge that allowed me to keep quiet as he suddenly whipped the knife upwards, jabbing the point threateningly at my throat. I could feel the cold tip pressing into my skin as his face inched forward until it was just centimetres from my own.
'Listen. Very. Carefully.' He said lowly, his voice quiet and screaming danger.
'I'm going to ask you a question. And you're going to answer it, or this will go very badly for you. And if you even dare to lie to me...' He snarled, pressing on the knife so that the point just broke through my skin. 'You will regret it.'
I didn't doubt his words. I had seen – too many times – what he could do with just the slightest provocation. But I also knew that most of the time, he didn't need any prompting when it came to attacking me. I knew that whether I told him what he wanted or not, I was going to be hurting. The only difference was, I might actually be able to get back at him for once.
A thought that hardened my resolve and allowed me to push my rapidly growing fear down a notch as he spoke once more.
'Now, I'm looking for something. A weapon that I'm sure you've seen before, back when your precious father was still alive.' The way he said the word 'precious' made it clear he thought my father had been anything but. I didn't pay attention to that though; I was too busy wondering and panicking over the weapon he was so interested in.
He wanted it. He wanted it badly. And though he tried to hide it, he didn't succeed.
'It used to be on display. But the elders decided it was too dangerous and valuable to have out in the open. And so it was locked away and hidden, with everything else the tribe values and wants to keep safe.' He couldn't hide his frustration over this fact, his eyes filled with anger. I had started to quiver against him, fear taking over and growing stronger with every second that passed. Not even knowing I was going to deprive him of whatever he was after could squash it; I was too busy panicking over what he was going to do to me.
But I couldn't panic. If I did, I might tell him; I would lose the only way I had to fight him, and that I couldn't do. I had to be strong.
But it was hard to be strong when I didn't even know what I was hiding from him. I needed to know what it was, if I was going to get through this. And so I spoke; somehow managing to sound strong and not scared as I did.
'Well, I can't tell you anything if you don't tell me what the weapon is.' He glared, giving me a look of suspicion.
'You think I'm going to tell you what I'm after?' I returned his glare without flinching, though my hands were clenched into fists.
'Yes. Because you need me. And unless you let me know why exactly this weapon is so dangerous and important, I won't say a thing.' He growled, shaking slightly as his grip on the knife tightened. For a moment, I thought he would snap, because his eyes were burning with such rage it seemed as if he would explode; but then he reluctantly choked out the words.
'The weapon…is a sword. And it's valuable…because it's laced with vampire venom.'
All of my air blew out of my lungs in a rush.
Oh. I knew what he was talking about; I remembered vaguely the silver sword my father had shown me. The vampire venom made it strong; strong enough to kill a vampire.
But also strong enough to kill a werewolf. And the vampire venom; it was poison to shapeshifters. That was why it had been hidden; so it couldn't be stolen and used against them. I was relieved at the fact; if it hadn't been locked away, Leon probably would have used it on me.
I froze as realisation struck.
No. That was why he wanted it; to kill. To kill me, most likely, but for more than just that. What he could do with it; I pressed my lips together tightly to keep in a cry. The pack. He could kill them; a thought almost scared me more than the thought of my own death.
Jake. Jake could not die. And Quil and Embry, and all of the others I hadn't met; they couldn't either. I could feel them though Jake, feel them all; they could not die. The thought was so terrible it almost brought tears to my eyes, but I forced them away; Leon could not see. He would not see.
He would not see, because I had found my motivation to keep quiet now. I had figured out how to keep strong when the inevitable came.
Though that knowledge didn't stop me from shuddering when Leon stepped forward, towering over me as his eyes lit up with want.
'You know it. I can see on your face that you do.' He was pressed hard against me now, my head forced against the wall by the knife as his harsh words came out mixed with a snarl. 'Where is it?' I didn't answer, fighting to keep my expression neutral, though I couldn't stop myself from trembling as my breaths quickened. His face twisted with anger, his gaze deadly as his eyes bored into me.
'Tell me where it is.' He growled menacingly, his voice promising pain if I didn't answer. My lungs froze, my chest tightening as I met his murderous gaze.
For a moment, everything was still. And then my reply fell from my lips, strong and steady just as I'd hoped, and the pressing silence broke.
Suddenly, pain exploded in my skull. My head slammed back into the wall with a crack, my jaw aching fiercely with pain as I gasped and reeled. For a second, I was too stunned to figure out what had even happened, my vision flickering wildly as my ears rang. But then I blinked, the world clearing fast; in time for me to see Leon lowering his clenched fist. Understanding dawned; he had punched me. But even though my head was now pounding painfully, that was not what bothered me, what scared me and made me cry out.
It was the look of pure and uncontrolled fury on his face.
He stormed forward, shoving me roughly into the wall behind me. I expected to feel the knife at my throat again, but there was no hint of the cold metal, which was worse; my terror peaked as I imagined what he was preparing to do with it. Especially when he suddenly grabbed my hair and jerked my head to the side, pressing my cheek against the rough wall as he snarled into my ear.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him readjust his grip on the knife.
And then he was plunging it into my right forearm just below the wrist, digging it in and dragging it slowly down to my elbow. I clenched my teeth, but couldn't stop myself from crying out; because it hurt. It hurt far more because it was not a quick slash with the full length of the metal, but a savage, deep cut with the tip; a fact I was sure he knew. And already I could feel the beads of blood trailing down my skin, falling fast because my arms were stretched up above me. The warm drops were almost down to my shoulder, but I didn't pay attention to them; because Leon was in my face again now, his eyes flashing dangerously.
'Where. Is it?' He asked slowly. I swallowed heavily, and said nothing. I wished I could give him a look of defiance, but fear was all I had left; deep, consuming fear. Fear that spiked even higher within me as his face hardened with cruelty, making my breaths stutter.
'Very well.' His tone was flat, cold. Somehow, that was worse than him being angry. I expected another painful slice with the knife as he raised his hand, and I started to tremble at the thought, but the cut never came.
Instead, I found myself screaming as he suddenly dug his fingers into the jagged slash he had already made.
Agony. Burning agony. I could feel myself thrashing, writhing as I tried to get him away from me, but it was no use; he was immovable.
And it felt like he was killing me. It hurt a hundred times more than when he had given me the cut in the first place, and now I was bitterly wishing he had decided to slice me with the knife again, because anything would be better than this. Anything would be better than this agony.
Agony that – after what felt like an eternity – disappeared the moment he simply relaxed his fingers. I sagged the instant he released me, my legs crumpling as I hung by my arms, shuddering at the tiny pin prinks of pain that still lingered in my body. Tears were rolling down my cheeks, sobs choking up my throat as I sucked in shaky breaths.
Breaths that hitched as Leon's face once again appeared in front of mine.
'Now, if you don't want to go through that again, you better start talking.' He sounded a strange mixture of happy and angry as he said the words; he was enjoying this. But at the same time, he wanted his answer.
And answer he wouldn't get.
I shook my head, and I couldn't stop myself from flinching as his mouth turned into a thin line.
'Talk. Now.' He said forcefully, his hands roughly grabbing my shoulders and shaking them, but I shook my head again. And again and again.
No. no no no.
Not just no to talking. But no to the pain.
Please, please, no.
But his face disappeared then, disappeared as he moved into position, and I knew that my mental pleading was pointless.
He was going to hurt me like that… again.
I didn't watch what he was doing; I didn't have the energy, and I didn't want to. I barely even had the energy to whimper as I felt the sharp pain of the knife digging into my left arm, once again tearing a deep gash through my skin that made me sob. I was shaking almost violently now, fresh tears flowing down my cheeks. They blurred my vision, making it hard to see Leon properly, even when he grabbed my chin and jerked it upwards so that I was looking up at him.
'If you don't tell me where it is, you're going to pay. I'll make you scream.' He threatened, rage twisting his words. Words that terrified me, that scared me more than anything, the fear so overwhelming my brain was filled of nothing but panic. Nothing but panic; and a faint but unsquashable urge to prove that he couldn't break me.
He had killed my aunt. He had killed her. And he had hurt me; hurt me so much, too much. And I hated him for that; hated him for the hurt, the betrayal, the fear.
So much fear.
But he would not break me.
So I gave him the coldest look I could muster, and with the memory of pain still fresh in my mind, retorted in what I hoped was a bold voice.
'You can hurt me. But I will never give you what you want.'
For a second, Leon seemed almost stunned, the whole world freezing. But then he was roaring, roaring furiously, his fingers digging deep into the gashes in my arms. And then the agony was back, back with a vengeance, drawing a blood curdling scream from my throat.