Der Rüpel

Märzen

Der Rüpel

Chapter V:Märzen


Levi.

Levi, I know he's not bad, he's not guilty, he's misunderstood.

Levi, he's like me.

Can't you tell Levi?

Levi just read between the lines.

I'm not bad.

My skull let out a deafening outcry as the bone was repeatedly slammed against the wall. The small rock fragments, from the bricks punctured my skin. The pain intensified the more I struggled. The more, I desperately tried to free myself against the sinister holds.

There was no holding back the tears.

No words of comfort, to shield me, us, from this horrible nightmare.

I heard the sobs from my friend, my dear other half, as she too was pinned next to me. Our choking breaths and pounding hearts matched. Even our bruised and bloody faces nearly looked identical. Though I wanted to cry for her, I pleaded for someone else.

"Dad! Daddy-Daddy please save me!" My quivering lips leaked an ounce of saliva. My wrists were twisted behind me. The frail cartilage in my arms strained as the aggressive hands held them. A handful caught an excessive amount of my hair. I whimpered as the strands were tugged roughly. My scalp grew inflamed as every thread was pulled to its limit. I was sure the skin was slowly being pealed away with it.

"Dad-!" I cried. Instantly, the man behind me crushed my frame harder against the stone. Tears overflowed my cheeks.

"Shut up! Fucking worthless trash." The grizzly male sneered. His body reeked of alcohol and sulfur. I hid my wrinkled sorrow face into the wall. My limbs shook from the rubber band tight nerves within me. My neck was craned at an odd angle. Strangely, pair of leather fingers traced my hairline and down my jaw. It sent my spine into a round of shivers.

"Now, boys-don't be so harsh with our treasures." The stout, lip-bearded man purred. I attempted to jerk away from his touch. The disguising leader laughed at my pathetic unwillingness. "Would have expected a bit more piss and vinegar from this one-after all she's A.H's. That damn fox thought he could sneak around us. Well-well guess who's victorious now. " He thumbed his finger over the raised scar on back on my head.

I wanted to die.

The fear that was once locked away was now bubbling to the surface. Its thick black liquid was consuming my sanity. I felt nauseous. My intensities twisted as if they were being kneaded into dough. I bit hard on my lip, hoping to stop the burning pain of the scratchy rope that was bounding my wrists.

Amara.

I heard her struggle.

I heard the pounds, the thrashing, and the stomping.

I heard the screams.

Amara, I thought to myself; this is entirely your fault.

If I had listened, if I had followed the rules, we wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be here standing in this tormented moment. My heart wouldn't be racing nor would I be sick of the unpredictable future. No. I would be home. I would be tucked into my soft comforting bed, with thick blankets, and a story. My tea would have been long ago devoured and my stomach would be filled with a satisfying dinner.

My teeth chattered as I felt the rope being pulled into a knot. My mind filled with the memory that brought us here. Why hadn't I listened? My forehead scrapped down the bricks. Burry the pain, I told myself.


"We're not bad are we?" I asked my question with a somewhat regretful tone. My arms were resting on my torn pants while my head hid in them. I couldn't face the world. I heard Amara ripping a piece off her loaf of bread. I cringed. Why were we like this?

"What are you ramblin' on bout' now? All you've done the last couple of days is mope and talk about senseless things. The short guy hates you-get over it." Her words cut like a steak knife through hot butter. I felt queasy on the inside.

"I know-sorry. It-Its just-" I sighed, "I didn't mean to break any rules. I was just doing what we use to do. It didn't seem wrong, it-" Amara interrupted me. Her sloppy chews were heard through her voice.

"Look-fighting isn't wrong. It's a gift, dude. If you don't protect what's yours then how you ever gonna eat? I'm not gonna let someone take my food-" I raised my head and looked at her wide eyes with her 'duh' expression. I seemed to get that facial language a lot. She then rattled the bread in my face. "And don't bother arguing with me."

"Its just-when I talked to Farlan he told me, that Levi just didn't want me to end up a troublesome brat with a bad stain. Its like they're saying we're bad. What we've done is bad. Are we bad?" I asked. Amara rolled her eyes as far back as she could. She apparently had gotten in another scuffle. Her grey shirt and brown pants were nearly shredded. Not to mention, the countless bruises that covered her face and the protruding whelp on her cheek.

"I'm not gonna sit here and listen to your garbage." My friend spat before jumping to her feet. I was convinced she didn't feel pain. My body was still stiff and I had to stagger to get up. I followed as usual, like a lost puppy. Amara the leader, slowed slightly but still looked ahead. "You know, its not like they're saints. You told me before they're thugs and are always runnin' from the police."

I paused.

"Yeah-I guess you're right." I said. Reality struck me. They were just as dirty and rotten as we were. "Nothin' more than flying gutter rats." I let out a chuckle. Our pace matched as we strolled down the street.

"Whacha' mean flying?" Amara asked. I shrugged my shoulders.

"They have that gear that pulls them through the air. It's kinda neat, actually. But-but I'm not allowed to use it. Mister Levi won't-" Amara shuffled in front of me. My tracks halted before I collided into her.

"Keep talkin'! What gear? What's it look like? How do they use it-?" Amara was bombarding me with a list of questions. Again, I slightly shrugged. I felt bare without that comforting jacket. The long tope sleeves weren't the same.

"I dunno. They're heavy, kind of shinny-" Amara gripped my shoulders and shook roughly.

"That's not what I meant!" Her blue orbs burned into me. "Is that how they've been stealing so good? That how they're escapin' the MP?" I pulled at the sleeves near my wrists.

"Yea-yea, they usually go out early and are gone for most of the day-"

"Are they home at night?" Amara pressed.

"Uh yea, that's-that's when Mister Levi would read to me. His books are really-" My friend shook me again. I could feel my brain being tossed back and forth. The pressure in my face had yet to drain; the pain radiated.

"No one cares 'bout your stupid books! Listen, Elke! We have a chance here. What's it called-?" Amara paused, "An-an op-opportunity. Yeah, an opportunity to rule the streets, we can finally be top dogs. No more getting' caught. No more havin' to get beaten up or give up our food! We can fly to the highest roof and never come down! Don't you see? We can live in paradise! Maybe even escape to the surface-" Amara's face lit up at all the possibilities. Her hold on me loosened as her thoughts traveled.

I stared at her. Something deep and low in my gut was twisting. I couldn't voice it. I just new this feeling of pins and pulling of strings in there wasn't good. A tightness in my chest tugged near my heart. Something wasn't settling well with me.

"But Amara, we don't have any flying gear-" I started to say but was cut off.

"Duh, dummy. We don't have a food cart either, but that hasn't stopped us from getting what we want." Amara lightly punched me in the shoulder. A smirk stretched up into her cheeks.

"You don't mean-" I wined as the imaginary nail jabbed my insides. My brown eye pleaded with her. I knew what she was implying before she even spoke. She let out a snort as she stared slightly up at me.

"Don't give me that look- we're not doing it during the day. We'll be smarter. We'll steal'em at night." Amara smiled as she faced the path to the house. The streetlights this evening didn't shine as bright.

The red blistering rings had crept up to her jawline.


"Stop squirming rat!" The grungy man yelled. His spit flew into my face as I flung my head in all directions. The cloth was becoming embedded into my cheeks. Irritated blisters were forming, as the fabric was pulled harder. My tongue had to endure the awful taste of the stained grease that had lingered on the rag. I gagged. The fumes of gasoline intoxicated my senses.

I tried to scream.

I wanted to call out to someone, anyone who would spare me a horrible death.Frayed fabric sawed in between my teeth. I wormed and groaned with desperation. The fear wouldn't allow me to think past that dreaded thought of dying.

He would come for me.

Soak me up in his dark cloak then eat away at my decaying body.

Just like Daddy said.

"I said enough!" The man yelled his threat. However, he also enforced it. I heard the loud snap before the throbbing agony engulfed my wrist. My eyes shut with blinded tears and even against the cloth I managed a powerful lung-filled shriek. "Quiet your damn crying! Stop it!"

But I couldn't.

My muscles trembled more as my limp detached wrist flopped against the rope. I kicked my legs out and threw a tantrum. Even as I was wrestled back into a tight hold, I fought. I wouldn't be taken. The door to the cargo transportation was open. Its dark unfilled area was haunting. As if a monster lurked in there, waiting to gobble me whole. Panic gripped my lungs.

"Easy with the treasures, boys. Can't have them too mangled, otherwise they won't fetch a hefty price on the surface. After all, just because they're test subjects doesn't mean they shouldn't be handled without care." The man of authority thundered another deep belly laugh. His mustache crinkled under his beak nose. Those squinty eyes held no mercy.

"What should we do with this gear, Sir? Ditch it-?" A nasally merchant member asked. The boss let out a sigh, his patients was thinning. He turned to his worker who stood adjacent to Amara and her handler.

"Don't be stupid, we'll sell it. Fucking idiot." The headman rolled his eyes. "Load it. And start throwing them in too- I don't want a crowd."

I could hear Amara fighting. Her aggression and fear was making her difficult to handle. The man kept threating her. Yet, Amara wouldn't listen. Her mind was controlling her actions. If I hadn't been struggling with my own battle, I might have saw, I might have stopped her before it escaladed.

Sadly, it was too late.

I stood trembling in shock.

My eyes watered and yet they never spilled over. It was as though the time surrounding me froze. Everything was a blur, a white out of disbelief. I wasn't even sure my heart had a pulse. The only sound that rang was the gurgling of Amara's leaking lips. The scarlet liquid dribbled out of her. However, it wasn't registering with me, what was it? What was that rusty fluid?

I heard another thrust.

Another grunting jab enter her body. I watched the knife disappear and then come back with that same metallic red stain all over it. What was it? The copper scent captured my nose. It swirled inside and tickled my senses. I felt myself backing away from the horrific scene. My body rammed against the man holding me. His grip was deadly, except I could barely feel it. I was numb to the core.

"You idiot! I fucking told you to hold your goddamn temper! Shit-look at the fucking mess you made." The leader cursed as he headed towards the cargo carriage. I didn't see him motioning to the other members. "Finish it-at least the body might be worth something."

I didn't even have a moment to flinch.

A spray of red misted covered my face and neck. My bruised skin was now layered with a wet spotted fluid. Still I stood, with bulging eyes and unresponsive reactions. Amara's petite body collapsed at my feet. Her expression stoned with bewilderment. Her once shinny brunette hair was matted and swirling around the crimson pool. A massive black hole was drilled deep between her eyes. Those wild blue eyes, no longer held the glint of life.

Her lips were stuck open and acted like a fountain as that unfamiliar liquid drained. Against the cloth, I mustered a whimpering cry. The gap in my mouth whistled as my rapid breathing returned. The fear had lite up in me again. The hands behind me hoisted me higher. My feet dangled over my dear friend.

Being carried shocked me back into reality. All at once, the feelings flooded my nerves. Those little receptors fired off like explosion. The memories pounded my head. The recognition of blood caused the nausea to return. I spit up my insides as I was being pulled away from her, from Amara.

I pleaded, I begged, I screamed for my friend.

But there she stayed, unmoving as I called for her.

The tears finally came as the arms strangled around me. I bit the fabric and pulled against the rope. The doors to the carriage were closer. The darkness smiled like the evil demon of Death. It's black hands wanted me; they were coming for me. If only I had listened.

Remember you're not bad.

Remember?

There was no reason to steal, no reason to hunger for something more, you had all you needed.

You had everything.


I sat at the wooden table.

My hand nearly touched the hollow hole where Levi's knife had impaled it. The sickness from yesterday was filing in me like a broken damn. I was already breaking rules. Nearly a week after the fight, clear boundaries had been set.

"If you're caught even glancing at that blue eyed runt, you might as well jump off the tallest damn building here. Since, your ass won't be alive once I find you-"

That was Levi's most emphasized rule out of the countless others he had rattled off to me the following day. How could I though?

How could I not see her, my best friend?

Amara meant everything to me. She was my other half, the light in the dark room, the decision maker, the risk taker, the icing to a distasteful meal. That blue-eye-runt was my world. Her shoulder was there for tears, her hands were outreached to pull me up, her words of encouragement kept me going.

Amara.

The girl, who suffered with me, never left my side.

And now, she's finally called upon me for help. My throat dried up at the thoughts. And now all I could do was wavier in my decision. My fingers ran through my hair and over a raised scar on the side of my scalp. I lightly traced the abnormal skin.

I remember, dad.

"Hey-" A voice woke me from my thoughts. I glanced up to see Farlan standing over me. He looked empty as his eyes roamed to my plate. There sat an untouched meal. The bread and watered down soup still remained how they were prepared. The baked dough on the tin circular dish while, the now cold soup didn't stir and sat well to the rim.

Farlan laid a hand to my forehead. "You feeling ok, kiddo?" My head turned away from him. I pulled my arms from the table and placed them in the lap of my black pants. I shook my head.

"Am-am I bad?" I asked in a hush voice. I could hear my caretaker hesitate then he let out a sigh as he crouched next to me.

"No-and why would you ask such a thing?" Farlan replied. I shrugged as I twiddled with my thumbs.

"Because, Mister Levi said I was stained. I did wrong. I am bad-" I stopped. My shoulders were tense until a warm hand tapped my cheek. That familiar gesture brought back a comfort. Words were hardly needed between us. Farlan and I had our own secret language. A small tear had spilled as I looked at him.

"You know kiddo, sometimes Levi just has a hard way of communicating. He doesn't understand his choice of words can be so-so hurtful. All he knows is he wants the best for those he cares about-" Farlan wiped the droplet away. I grabbed a lock of hair and pulled at the ends. I sighed a painful breath.

"Yea, but he only likes you and Isabel. He's never mean to you guys-"

Farlan laughed, "He calls Isabel an idiot all the time. And I've had my few rounds with Levi when we first met."

I remained silent.

"Alright-" Farlan stood up from his position. I felt him lean his weight into the back of the chair. His one arm rested near my head. "I know I shouldn't say anything, Levi would be embarrassed, but I think you have the right to know."

I waited. I didn't bother to look behind me. I figured what I was about to hear would just be another slap of more hurtful words. He leaned toward my left ear. I could smell exquisite aroma. He always smelled of fresh baked goods, as if they had just been pulled from an oven. The scent sent me back to times with Mom's spontaneous late night cookie cravings.

"When you're not around, all Levi ever does is talk about you." Farlan paused when I spun my head in his direction. My eyes were as wide as saucers, even against the swelling. I focused intensely with my good eye.

"He-he does?" I asked in amazement. Farlan smiled as he nodded.

"Oh yea, I barely can say something about my day without being interrupted about an event with you. Levi is constantly boasts about his damn good cleaner. He enjoys reading to you and hearing your opinions. Not to mention, he likes your curiosity for learning and drive for perfection. Yeah, in Levi's world, you're the perfect kid."

I sat there in complete awe.

Farlan ruffled my hair, "So-don't worry about his ranting. Enjoy it. It means he cares about you." Before my caretaker could leave, I jumped from my chair and wrapped my small arms around his lower torso. I hugged him preciously. The hatred, the sickness had drained from my heart. A new enchanting warmth filled within me.

"I'm sorry about the money, I'm sorry for not bringing home the food, and I'm-I'm sorry for fighting. I'm so sorry- sorry for everything-" I buried my face into his clothes. Farlan did as a reliable caretaker would; he leaned down and hugged me back. His strong limbs engulfed me.

Getting on his knee he embraced me into a tighter hold. We stayed together for several moments before he gently pulled me back.

"Remember the day, we decided to take you in? The day we took a break from looking for your dad and you became a member here? Do you remember that day, Elke?" Farlan asked. I nodded.

"I have never regretted a moment of it. You've been such a joy, Elke. You've come so far. I'm-we're all so proud. You're a special person-you're going to do great things, kiddo."

"You think so?" I asked with more confidence. A smile pulled at the corner of my mouth. Farlan crossed his arms and held out two pinkies. "I'll even double swear to it."

I exploded with a full mouth of teeth. My heart leapt at those words and as our smaller fingers locked I nearly flew with happiness.

"Oh boy-looks like someone needs a tooth pulling." Farlan let out a chuckle. I raised a brow before my tongue wiggled a bottom tooth.

"Someone's growing up quickly-"


My feet were in the shadows of the cargo. The cold damp box was sucking me in. No matter the effort, no matter the fight, I was defenseless against the Lord himself. I had to accept dying and stiffening in that hole. Dad was right; you don't trust people.

I closed my eyes.

I didn't want to see the lights from the city to be closed. I didn't want to see the image of my friend being forever shut. A salty tear dripped to my tongue. Why hadn't I listened? There was no need to steal. I wasn't bad.

Suddenly, I felt myself collide with the ground. My contorted body took a hit as I smacked the pavement with my chin. The bones around my chest roared with discomfort. I ignored the pains and managed to get enough strength to crawl. My clothes would have to endure the burn.

The scuffling behind me only fueled me to move fast. My raw jaw pulled me forward inch by inch. I scooted my torso across the bumpy ground. I would claw through the earth with my teeth, if it meant freedom. The clanking of metal and the sounds of fired arms spurred me again. My heart leapt at every noise, I never knew if the next moment would be my last. I didn't know if I too, would end up with a hole in between my eyes. Would it hurt? How quick would the lights go out?

With grinding shoulders I managed another sluggish crawl before I heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Then the sound-shattering chime of a fallen tool interrupted my ambition. My semi-bleeding lips mumbled a few prayers. I hid behind the draping of my bangs.

My heart stopped when smooth cold fingers lightly touched my neck. They lingered there for a moment, before the presence behind me scooped me into their arms. I trembled into a near stroke. Then I saw the black threads and steal eyes. It was as if the dark cloud vanished.

My eyes once again, filled with water. Except, it was relief that washed over me. I shoved my head into my caretaker's chest. Even with bound hands and redistricted mouth I let myself grieve on my angel.

"Shhh-I've got you. It's alright-brat-alright shhh-" Levi's words were barely heard over my relentless cries. I shook in his hold. I soaked his clothes and dug deeper into him. I never wanted to leave his reassurance.

Levi didn't fuss over his attire or the endless sobs that filled the air. He stroked my hair and remained quiet. After a few moments, he let me sit in his lap as he untied the rope and gentle removed the fabric from my cheeks. I saw how bloody the rag was before Levi tossed it away. I didn't look at him as he tried examined my injured wrist.

"You-You're right Sir-" I mumbled my sadness, "You're right-I'm bad. I'm bad. I'm-" Levi pulled me closer to him. I inhaled his spicy warm scent. His hands held my shaking shoulders.

"No-no-shhh. We're not going to discuss that. Not now. No-you're not bad, kid." His velvet voice passed through me and against the silent street. I pinched my brows as another round of cries escaped me.

"I never meant to be bad." I sobbed. "I didn't mean to steal. I didn't want to be troublesome. I didn't-I didn't- Amara-" The waterfalls poured. Levi held me tighter as he got to his feet. He supported my weak body.

"I know-" Levi said bluntly as he turned in the direction of home. Over his shoulder I could see my friend. Her beautiful face lost in the deep crimson pool. I pulled on the fabric of Levi's shoulders. My heartstrings were still connected to Amara, my dear friend.

"No-no-no we can't, we can't leave her!" I screamed with blurry eyes. Levi pulled me back down as he continued. The distance between my friend was growing. Her figure was becoming a shadow, a lost form. "Sir-Sir please-please we can't leave her! She needs to come home! She needs to come home-" My voice drowned in my grief. Levi shifted my weight from his shoulder and carried me lower.

"There's nothing we can do. She's dead." Levi said. He pried my hands from his collar and situated me so my head once again rested against his chest. My legs hung over his arms. I didn't want to believe him. I wouldn't believe him.

I wrestled myself from his hold.

"Elke!" I heard Levi holler. With stumbling legs I fought back to my friend. My knees buckled as I stood over her body. I let my pants soak up her vital fluid. There she remained, stomach flat on the ground, with open eyes, and a hole in her head. I trembled at the sight.

"Amara-Amara please-please get up." I pulled on her shirt. Again, no response came from her. I wanted to see her chest rise. I wanted to hear a groan, a mutter of annoyance. I wanted her to slap me away and tell me she was just resting. But there she lay. Frustration grew with in.

"Get up! Get up! We've got to go-Amara we've got to go home!" I screamed at her and shoved her body. My hands splashed in the blood as I hit my fists on the ground. "It's your fault! It was your idea-you said- you said it was simple! That we would take the stuff and leave. You said-things would be better. You said we would never get caught!" I wilted over my dear friend.

My painfully filled lungs let out moans of despair.

"You lied-you were wrong. Amara we were bad." I choked. My head rested on her solid stiff back. She had never felt so empty. Amara, my world has been broken, shattered into unfixable fragments. She had a physical hole; I had an invisible one in my heart that would never heal.

A pair of lean arms grabbed my waist.

I thrashed against the restraint.

"No-no! I'm not leaving her! I'm not leaving her! Amara!" I pleaded as Levi swallowed me in his grasp. I heard the cables and the pull of the trigger. The wind caught my hair as we glided over the city.

I looked over his shoulder.

The tears floated through the air.

"Don't bother looking back-" Levi stated. Another cable reached for building. "She's not coming back." With sorrow and regret I tucked my head into my rescuer.


"Hey kiddo-"

I could hear Farlan's voice but the deadened nerves refused to make sense off it all. They told me it was 12:47 am, exactly, an hour after the tragic occurrence. Levi had brought me to my room. That's when the entire story unraveled from the other caretakers. I had listened, as they told Levi from outside the door, about Amara and I stealing the 3DM Gear.

I had listened as they relived the moment for me.

I listened and each time my throat splintered a bit more.

My mind unfortunately reeled back to that hour. I remember she and I struggling to carry the one piece of equipment out the window and down the street. We had been seen by Isabel but were sadly, quick enough to cover our tracks.

I swallowed the lump.

That's when, my mind flashed the image, those merchants saw us and decided to gain some extra cash for the evening. At first, they were going to sell us as mere slaves. That was until my eye drew the attention. And from there, everything turned muddy.

It was my fault.

I shook on the bed. My eyes again, glassed over with distraught emotions. I couldn't hold back the dreaded cloud that hung over me. The guilt had wrapped itself tight around my organs; it was squeezing the life out of me. The pulsing pain within my wrist was only adding to the torment I was enduring. Why wouldn't it stop?

"Hey-hey-Elke. Elke it's alright-hey kiddo don't blame yourself-" Farlan's words were making it worse. I feverish damp sweat coated my back. My forehead felt hot and my stomach went queasy. I choked down the emotions but they weren't stopping. Unexpectedly, I was yanked from my spot on the bed, dragged out of the room, and tossed at the toilet.

I didn't resist puking every last regret in my intestines.

Levi allowed me a moment and quietly shut the door.


The ticking clock reminded me of the gunfire.

It was haunting me as I tired to sleep.

Isabel and Farlan had offered to stay with me, but I remained silent, which they assumed meant I wasn't interested. Everyone had long since gone to bed. Their undisturbed snores were making me jealous. Why couldn't I have that?

The bed creaked and moaned the more I tossed. My wrist was beyond inflamed. Levi had supported it as best he could, yet the bone still shifted against the wooden planks. I sniffled as more tears rolled down my cheeks.

Amara.

I could see her in my dreams.She stalked my thoughts.She invaded my vision.

Yes, I could see her dead corpse just lying here or there. The blood might have been washed from my face and my clothes had been changed. However, there was no forgetting the past. I couldn't push it out of my mind. Her presence, whether it was real or not, was scaring me.

I knew Amara wouldn't want to be alone.I knew she needed me. She was still out there.

A blanket, yes, a blanket would comfort her. They comforted me. Yes, she needed a blanket and a hug. She needed my warmth.

I had crept from my room to the main area. I hurt and was exhausted but I carried that blanket across the floor. I would drag it through mud and through driving winds if it meant my friend would be comfortable.

My hand reached for the handle.

"Elke-" A voice hesitated my actions. My fingers slightly curled back. "She's dead, Elke. Let it go." My shoulders heaved at his words. I clutched the blanket with my left hand. I shook my head.

"No Sir-you-you doesn't understand. Amara needs this. She needs warmth-its-its cold outside." My words trembled as I faced Levi. He was standing near the table with crossed arms. When I was about to turn back, a hand rested on my head. I hadn't heard Levi until he was there. I felt his strong presence behind me. His fingers barely disturbed my hair."Let her go. She's resting, Elke." Levi whispered. He hardly ever used my name, which his choice of words only made me sob more. He reminded me of dad, the man whom I haven't seen in months. The sudden realization hit me.

"I'm alone. I'm all alone-" I cried. I let the blanket fall to the ground then my knees. I didn't control anything. I bashed my palms into the floor and yanked my hair. I screamed and nearly threw up again. I had to get it out. Those feelings were bottled deep. I kept pounding the ground and as I did the split was coming loose. The bone made little pops as I flew my flustered self around.

Levi eventually managed to pull me up. Like before, hoisted me into his hold. I wrapped my arms around him tightly. The tears leaked down his collar.

"Woah, everything alright?" Farlan asked nearly half awake. Isabel followed with sleepy eyes.

"What's going on? Whats wrong?"

Levi ignored their questions and carried me passed them. He hesitated before opening his bedroom door.

"Hand me that left over swig of beer-"


With drowsy eyes and a bittersweet tongue I laid next to Levi. My muscles were relaxed as he quietly read our story. I had worked up the courage to rest my head near his side. I was more than relieved, when he allowed me to snuggle near him. Never, had I been more content in my life.

I would listen for a moment then drift off.

Then my attention would return to him.

I was fighting sleep.

I heard a page flip. "Close your eyes." Levi said in-between his narrative voice. I slightly looked up at him. His gaze remained on the book. "You have your jacket now, your shield. Nothing will harm you."

I swallowed. The sour liquor washed around my mouth.

"I have to think of impossible things-Sir." I said. Levi nodded though his interest elsewhere. "My eye wouldn't look this way-" I started. I felt Levi stiffen. Yet, I continued.

"I'll-I'll see Amara again." It was hard to get out. I took a breath then said my final thought. "And that you would be my dad." I whispered the last part.

My head lowered back down. My good hand pressed against Levi's clothes as I curled myself into him. I felt his beating pulse and I smelled his scent.

Just as I was about to drift off, a blanket was pulled up around me.

"You've had way too much liquor, brat."


To clarify: Amara had talked Elke into stealing the 3DM Gear. As they were escaping with the tool they were noticed by merchants who, captured them and were going to sell them for profit.

Amara was stabbed and shot because of her actions.

Thanks,

Enked

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