The Story Continues

Criminally Annoying

The morning was crisp and fresh, usual for the city of Lagaard, as Lynus made his way toward the hospital. It was a path he had walked countless times before so it was normal for him to let his feet lead the way while he mused to himself in his head. He wasn’t oblivious to his surroundings by any means. He always made sure to keep an eye out so not to walk into anyone, a habit he still had the misfortune to have.

Thankfully he hadn’t walked into any…undesirables, as Axel would call them, lately. If he had accidentally bumped into someone, they were polite enough and brushed it off.

Despite his innate ability to walk into people, he was becoming more aware of the auras and presences around him. Despite the distance between him working at the hospital and his guildmates relaxing at the inn, he could sense them from time to time. He wasn’t aware of them all the time, but every once in a while he would feel a trill of familiarity race down his spine and feel a fraction of whatever intense emotion they were feeling.

Usually he would feel Magnus’ shyness or embarrassment when someone he didn’t know tried to talk to him. He would also feel Tobyn irritability whenever someone he didn’t know or like the look to tried to speak with Jhon. And sometimes he would feel a spike of fear from Macerio as he tried to desperately avoid the Pinkettes.

Their emotions didn’t affect him and he wasn’t able to feel them all the time; he just sensed them on occasion.

The twinge of pain that wasn’t his own pulled Lynus from his thoughts and made him pause in his steps. As his hand instinctively reached up to grasp at the strap of his bag that laid over his chest, he looked to his left to a small alleyway that was located a few yards away from the steps leading up to the hospital.

Despite knowing how many people would object to him wandering close to a darken alleyway, Lynus found himself drifting closer. He could sense someone’s aura, or specifically the discomfort in someone’s aura.

As what was becoming quite usual for him, he had felt their pain before he heard a stifled groan of discomfort.

Grasping at the strap of his bag tightly, Lynus edged closer and cautiously peered into the alleyway between what seemed to be two residential buildings. Though the lighting was dim due to the early morning light unable to reach in-between the two buildings, Lynus was able to see a man leaning his back against the wall of one of the buildings. His head up rolled back to rest against the wall as well as he right arm reached across his stomach to grasp at his left side. He was panting, his breathing laboured but seemingly not from the pain in his side, but rather from a different kind of exertion.

Not only did he appear in pain and distress, Lynus could sense it in his aura.

He couldn’t just leave him like that.

“E-excuse me?” Lynus called out as he carefully stepped into the alley toward the man. “Can I help you? I’m a medic. There’s a hospital nearby if you need any assistance.”

Surprisingly, without even glancing over at him in surprise, an easy and sly grin immediately appeared on the man’s face and with confident ease, pushed himself away from the wall and stood up tall, appearing as if he wasn’t bothered by the obvious injury to his side.

As he stood tall, seemingly unwilling to allow a visible hint of vulnerability, the man finally turned his eyes in Lynus’ direction. And unexpectedly did a double take, his smirk faltering for a fraction of a moment before quickly returning.

Now that he was standing up, away from the shadows of the tall building, Lynus was able to get a slightly better look at him. He had dark hair, either black or dark blue, with blue eyes that gave the indication that they were quite striking, but were currently dulled from the pain in his side, and his skin was a deep tan, the mocha colour of someone who had spent a lot of time outdoors under the sun.

He was someone Lynus hadn’t seen before. Even his clothes, the gun and curved blade strap to his sides appeared to be foreign to that of Lagaard.

To be truthful, he looked like he would easily fit on the front cover of one of those romance books that he had caught Angie swooning over during her breaks at the hospital. He looked like he belonged somewhere on the open sea, that was for sure. Pirate, buccaneer, or a cargo ship captain. Someone akin to that.

Lynus was about to ask him again if he would like his help when he found himself unexpectedly falling silent when the man looked at him, his eyes travelling up and down in a painfully obvious way. In a way that made him instantly regret stepping into this alleyway.

“Hah, not heading to the hospital, sweetheart,” the man said to him

Lynus chose to ignore the name (he would often get called different names at the hospital and Sweetie uttered by an elderly person was one of his usual) as he reached out a hand toward the obviously injured man to help steady him as he took to his feet. “But the hospital is just-”

The man moved quickly and suddenly to share the collar of his shirt to tug him to the side, to become unbalanced. Lynus stumbled as his shoulder hit the wall, his heart skipping a beat in his chest. He then winced, visibly shaken when the man slammed his right hand against the wall next to Lynus’ head, entrapping him between his body and the stone wall behind him.

Lynus’ heart raced as his breath hitched in his throat. With wide eyes, and his bottom lip trembling ever so slightly from fear, he stared up at the dark blue-haired man. “W-what…?”

The man’s blue eyes seemed to glow with an intensity of…something Lynus had never seen before. Maliciousness? No, that wasn’t quite right. Ill intent was more accurate. But what kind of intent he was leaning towards, Lynus didn’t have a clue. But…

He was scared.

“Sweet little medics like you shouldn’t wander into dirty backstreets like this,” the man drawled to him, his voice heavy with an accent that Lynus hadn’t encountered before. “After all, there are certain types of men who wouldn’t hesitate to pounce on such benign little rabbits like you.”

Lynus swallowed thickly as he tried to stop himself from trembling in fear. He couldn’t prevent a frightened wince when the man slowly reached out to curl a finger under his chin.

“I’m sure you, precious little medic, wouldn’t have a clue what I mean, do you?” he said as he forced Lynus to lift his chin up and tilt his head back, to force him to realise that vast height difference between them. “The different types of men who would just love to get their hands on a sweet little specimen like you.”

W-what was he talking about?

The man unexpectedly chuckled lowly. “Wanted criminals and the like. Men like me, for example.”

Lynus felt himself shudder as the words bounced around in his head and licked his lips nervously. “O-oh, a wanted criminal? Y-you don’t look the type,” he murmured feebly, skittishly.

“Oh, you’ve never seen a dashing criminal like me before?” the man asked as he tilted his head in tauntingly curious manner. “That is a shame. Well, on the other hand, it does mean that you don’t know what handsome men like me are capable of, do you?”

Tears threatened to form in Lynus’ eyes and he shook his head in an attempt to push them back, unwittingly appearing as if he was shaking his head ‘no’ to the man’s previous question.

“Oh, that really is a shame, but I’ll be happy to tell you more,” the man drawled with his uncommon dialect as he purposely lounged in Lynus’ only escape path. “Pillaging, kidnapping, adultery; and everything in-between.”

Unexpectedly, Lynus felt himself frown slightly in confusion, his terrified trembling coming to a stop. As the man before him spoke, Lynus sensed nothing but conceited dishonesty from him. He was boastful, proud, arrogant but still very dishonest.

He was outright lying to him.

“I also happened to be into arson and sabotage, particularly of the murderous kind,” the man continued, his voice steady, prideful but still prattling.

He was seemingly unaware or simply unconcerned that Lynus was no longer trembling before him, but was looking at him with an expression of mild scepticism and confusion.

The more the man spoke and the more Lynus concentrated on his aura rather than his words and body posture, the less intimidated Lynus felt, surprisingly. All of his boasting, the seemingly endless list of his terrible crimes were spoken in a confidence voice, but the subtext, the aura the man was giving off was that of pure dishonesty. If a negative emotion like dishonesty could be allude to as ‘pure’.

“Abduction and torture is also on my rather impressive resume.”

Surprisingly, Lynus had to resist the near overwhelming urge to roll his eyes in disbelief and exasperation. The man was lying yet again. Was he unable to speak the truth at all? Did he believe what he was saying? Or did he know that he was lying? No, he had to know he was lying. He wouldn’t be feeling dishonest if he thought he was telling the truth.

The man arrogantly ran his hand through his dark blue hair. “Ah, but my absolutely favourite endeavours were the simplest; being a thief and con-artist.”

Now, that sounded and felt to be truthful.

“Manipulating others to do my bidding is so much more…thrilling,” he continued, his voice low and husky, almost as if he was trying to sound somehow…seductive?

However, as the man raked his fingers through his hair in a tauntingly charming manner, Lynus noticed a slight falter in his movements and a flicker of pain in his eyes. Despite the man’s confidence, the wound in his side still affected him.

The man before him was an arrogant liar, but he was also hurt. Lynus, as a medic, had taken an oath; to administer healing to those who needed it and to preserve life, regardless of the patient’s background or ethnicity.

In all honesty, the man’s wound was only that of a flesh wound. It would only take Lynus a matter of moments to heal it enough for the man to recover on his own. Perhaps it would be best to pacify the man and heal him? Surely, even so-called wanted criminals like him had some morals and gratitude?

Also the man’s aura didn’t feel outright threatening. He was intimidating and he made Lynus feeling unnerved and uneasy, but he wasn’t exactly frightening him.

“Are you done?” Lynus found himself asking the man, earning himself an honest expression of surprise from the boastful man. “Your wound, while able to heal itself in time, still needs addressing so you don’t get an infection.”

A stunned silence followed his dumbfounded expression.

Lynus pointed to his side. “Want me to take care of it?”

Despite his arrogant boasting before, there was a light flush of embarrassment on his face as he sheepishly complied by reaching down to snare the end of his shirt and lifted it up to allow for Lynus to get a visual on the injury on his side. And just as Lynus had anticipated and sensed, it was a flesh wound. Wouldn’t take long at all to administer a cure spell and a bandaged for extra support.

The wound, however, was somewhat…suspicious. It was clean – neat without any foreign bodies. It looked like a knife wound. That of a sharp blade. Did he anger the wrong person? Still…

“You won’t need stitches,” Lynus said as he reached into his bag. He quickly poured some medica onto the white wadding before pressing it against the man’s side, his expression turning sympathetic when the man uttered a low hiss of discomfort. “It won’t even leave a scar.”

The man pressed his lips together before an oddly contemplative expression appeared on his face. And his eyes seemed to look at him more closely, trailing up and down slowly.

“Ah, you really are a cute one, aren’t you?”

But Lynus ignored him as he concentrated on the wound on his side instead. With the use of a few adhesive strips, he quickly dressed the wound.

It only took a matter of minutes. All this trouble for a minor flesh wound. Honestly, some people were just too stubborn and arrogant for their own good.

As Lynus was placing his equipment back into his bag, the man unexpectedly snared his wrist with his hand and with a strong tug, dragged him closer. Lynus felt his heart skip a beat from the discomfort of their closeness and immediately tried to pull away.

“You’re married, sweetheart?” the man drawled lazily at him as his thumb trailed over the ring that sat snuggly on Lynus’ ring finger.

Lynus curled his hand into a tight fist to ensure that he wouldn’t be able to slip the garnet ring from his finger. The man had been dishonest about the vast majority of his so-called resume of criminality. But the exclamation of being a thief was one of the only things he didn’t sense any dishonesty from.

“Fiancé,” Lynus decided to answer quickly as he abruptly tugged his hand back and pressed it against his chest.

“Oh, can’t say I’m surprised.” He didn’t sound disappointed or relieved.

“You’ve done a lot of talking, but you still haven’t even uttered your name,” Lynus quickly stated, somewhat surprised at himself for sounding so…unfearful?

“My name is inconsequential,” the man said as an expression, a look that was nothing short of a leer, appeared on his face. “After all, all you need to say, all you’ll be able to say are words akin to ‘yes’ and ‘more’.”

Lynus wasn’t entirely sure what he meant, what he was alluding to, but it made his skin crawl.

“The ring tells me you’re the commitment type,” the tanned skin man said. “That’s sweet. Really cute. Commitment isn’t something for me. I’m more of a fling type man myself. Sexy little one night stands. Ever had a one night stand, sweetheart?”

That didn’t warrant an answer, so Lynus simply stared at him.

“No? Ah, don’t know what you’re missing,” he continued as he lifted a hand to slip under Lynus’ chin again. “I could show you a really…swell time. I bet that fiancé of yours won’t be able to satisfy you like I can. Once you’ve been with me, no one else will be able to compare. You’ll dump that little fiancé of yours and come crawling to me, you’ll see.”

Lynus felt something he never felt before bubble in his chest - anger. What the man was saying about him, about Axel, about how he felt that he was so much better and talented than Axel was made Lynus grit his teeth in anger. What he did next, however, shocked him more.

He raised his right hand and slapped the man across the face.

The crack of the hit echoed effortlessly around the dank alleyway’s walls. It was so sharp that the birds that had perched themselves on the two building’s gutters took off into the air, startled. The impact and suddenness of the hit caused the man to turn his face in the direction of the slap, and that conceited, smug smirk dropped from his lips as an expression of sheer shock and disbelief appeared on his face.

Lynus felt his heartrate increase as he took a stumbling step back, his right palm tingling and stinging from the hit. He stared wide-eyed at the man and watched as his cheek, the one he had actually struck slowly turned red.

He had…hit him pretty hard.

Slowly, the man lifted his hand to touch his cheek, his fingertips weakly brushing over the reddening skin. He then turned his face back toward his Lynus. Unlike what Lynus had expected, instead of anger, the man simply looked surprised.

Honestly, though, Lynus probably looked as surprised as the man he just slapped across the face did.

Lynus somehow managed to compose himself outwardly as he clutched his hand to his chest and slipped out from under the man’s arm. He took a few steps closer to his escape route before he turned to give the so-called swashbuckler a stern look. “Listen Mr Inconsequential, my partner, boyfriend, lover, fiancé, whatever you wish to call him, can and will beat you senseless should he find you.”

The man, the so-called fearful criminal simply stared dumbfounded at him for a long, silent moment. However, and rather unexpectedly, his lips soon twisted into a smirk of pure amusement. “You’ve got guts,” he said in a praising manner. “I like that.”

Well, Lynus certainly didn’t like the way he was looking at him!

“There he is! Quickly!”

Lynus jumped slightly and the man’s haughty expression quickly turned into that of sadistic glee as a small troop of dark armoured soldiers suddenly rushed into the alleyway.

Guards? What? They were after that man?

Lynus immediately turned to look at the blue-haired man in surprise. “You-?”

“Let’s just say; you’ve had a meeting with fate,” the man interrupted him cryptically as he reached into his leather vest and slid on a black mask over the top half of his face, his blue eyes far more piercing behind the garment. “Until next time, sweetheart.”

With a grace and speed that Lynus had never seen before, he jumped up, grasped onto a stone that jutted out slightly from the wall and used it as leverage to effortlessly swing himself onto the roof. He paused for a second to glance down at Lynus again to offer him a mockingly charming grin before abruptly lurching forward to race fearlessly across the rooftops and out of sight.

Lynus stood still as he stared dumbfounded at the spot the man disappeared in.

“Are you all right, sir?” one of the guards that had suddenly appeared stopped next to him.

“Ah, y-yes,” Lynus answered as he turned to give him his full attention. “What-?”

“The staff at the hospital were worried that you did not arrive to work on time and asked that we search for you,” the guard quickly explained, and though the helmet he wore prevented Lynus from visibly seeing his emotions, he was able to sense the man’s honest relief. “Lucky that we did! Who knows what that wanted criminal could have done to you?”

Lynus felt the colour drain from his face. “W-what had he done?” he found himself asking.

“Money laundering and larceny!” the guard replied with a heated, stern voice, absolutely riled up with anger. “And so much more! Honestly, we had to put up two different wanted posters for all the crimes he committed!”

…H-he really was a wanted criminal?

N-no, that couldn’t be right!

Oh god, he just slapped a wanted criminal! O-ok, the man deserved it, sure, but what if he reacted violently? What would have happened if that guard turned up a second later? Or not at all?

Lynus felt nauseated as he stumbled past the guards and out into the main streets of Lagaard. He felt slightly better when he felt Axel’s reassuring aura as it drew closer. He was either heading to the hospital to check up on him or was also on the hunt for this wanted criminal.

Whatever the reason, when Lynus’ gaze locked with Axel’s the second he came into view, he felt his fear slowly dissipate. And, ever so mindful of him, Axel instantly knew something was wrong, that something or someone had frightened him.

A look of concern immediately appeared on Axel’s face as he broke out into a half-jog, half-run to get to him. And Lynus moved to meet him half way, completely forgetting about how Dr Stiles and the other staff at the hospital would be waiting for him.

When Axel wrapped his arms around him and drew him closer, encircling him with security and warmth, Lynus instantly felt safer, and he breathed out a sigh of relief.

“What happened?” Axel asked as he wound an arm securely around his waist as he threaded the fingers of his other hand into Lynus’ hair, gently massaging his scalp to make him feel comforted and safe.

As Lynus nuzzled his face into Axel’s shoulder, he thought back to what had occurred. He honestly didn’t even know where to begin telling him what had happened. It still felt so surreal. He would tell him. He would tell him everything. He just wasn’t sure where to start. How to start?

How could he tell Axel that the first person he felt angry enough to actually slap across the face appeared to be someone who was a wanted criminal?

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