The First of Many

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Chapter 32

Aedan walked into the weight room of the base apprehensively.

The rest of the teams were already there, in a circle around Hannah and Tex.

I can't believe she's doing this, Aedan thought. I warned her...

“Last chance to back out,” Hannah taunted, grinning at Tex.

“Just fight,” he snarled.

“Not so fast,” she teased, arching her back as she stretched. “Isn't it better to just... take things... slowly?”

“He grinned. “I agree, beautiful,” he growled. “But first, I have to beat you. Unless, of course, you want to do yourself a favor and surrender now?”

“Not a chance,” she growled, launching herself at him.

They collided with the force of a train wreck, punches flying. The pair fought hard and fast: The circle surrounding them widened as teammates sprang back to avoid the brawling pair.

“Shit,” Blade muttered to his brother. “Check it out, Shadow, she's gone beast again.”

Hannah had completely lost all semblance of control. Her mind narrowed to some form of autopilot.

Duck, swing, move, watch the arm. Free expanse of neck, swing – No! Her hand shook and she managed to deflect the hit to his shoulder. Only stumbled, not good, aim to kill can't let them up again – no, stumbled is good, won't – can't kill them here. Her leg swung up, hitting him in the ribs. Her arm came down automatically to snap his neck. No... the hit collided with his temple No, stop, it's just a game. Tex's hand grabbed her arm, his fist aiming to her face, she bit him hard. Blood. Stop, can't... No lethal force.

Hannah's hits grew uncoordinated as she tried to control herself as best she could. Tex quickly gained the upper hand, forcing Hannah to defend herself rather than attack.

She fought like a caged animal, but he had complete control; his frame was too large for her to overcome in their limited space without killing him, and he pinned her to the rough concrete floor.

"Surrender.”

"No," she spat.

He pulled her arm harder behind her. "Fine."

She let out a muted roar of pain, struggling as best she could. He snarled angrily and pulled harder. She screamed in pain as a sickening snap echoed in the room.

"Tex, that's enough," Snake ordered.

“We made a bet, time to keep it, beautiful,” he taunted, still pulling.

Snake walked up, wrestled Hannah's arm from Tex's grip, and kicked him off her.

Hannah curled up on the ground, clutching at her arm and gasping for breath. Shadow was by her side in a second. “Rosie? Rosie, are you all right?”

He touched her arm and she flinched away, sucking in a breath to hold in a scream.

“Rose, look at me. You're safe, hear me? What'd he do to you?”

“Dislocated,” she panted. “Help me get it back in right.”

“What?”

She turned over onto her back, her face white with pain, and held her injured arm out. “Grab...” she growled.

Shadow took her hand confusedly.

“Foot on my shoulder, and pull until it pops again. Don't stop for anything.”

He did so and Hannah screamed in pain as her arm returned to its socket.

She stood, still cradling her newly-placed arm, and stumbled over to where Tex was being held back by a seething Snake. “Dragon, let him go,” she ordered, her breath coming out in snarls.

Snake snarled and threw Tex to the ground. Hannah picked him up by the collar, holding him in front of her.

“You were right,” she growled. “I made a bet.” With that, she kissed him, hard and furious.

Aedan saw red, but his teammate Wraith's hand on his shoulder held him back.

"Save it for later," he muttered.

"Dude, I'm going to kill him." Aedan said.

“She'll do it for you,” Wraith answered. “Look.”

Tex started struggling, his eyes widening in surprise before Hannah threw him away and into a wall. He was panting slightly, and he spat out a mouthful of blood.

“Have fun stitching that tongue back together,” Hannah snarled, whirling around and storming out of the room.

Aedan strode up to Tex and punched him so hard he flew back and hit the wall.

“You keep your hands off that woman, do you understand me?” he snarled.

Tex spat another mouthful into Aedan's face. “Sthe asthed for it,” he lisped out, his mouth open enough to reveal the gruesome sight of his tongue, which Hannah had clearly bitten halfway off.

"You touch her and you will wind up with a bullet to the head."

“Yeh can't kill -ee,” he answered, grinning with bloodstained lips.

"Oh, try me, asshole. I dare you."

“Enough,” Snake growled. “New guy, get out before you hurt someone.”

“I'm going to kill him.”

"New guy, cool it. Something tells me that her team will do it for you," Snake said.

Aedan growled and stormed out of the room, leaving a trail of hostility in his wake.

He wandered the halls in an attempt to clear his head, and literally ran into Hannah, who seemed to be doing the same whilst still cradling her arm.

"You okay?" He asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

“You should get to the infirmary,” he said. “The bastard really did a number on you.”

"I'm fine."

Aedan took her hurt arm gently and rubbed it gently with his fingers. She flinched at first, but let him continue.

"Didn't I warn you about Tex?" He asked after a moment of silence.

“I know,” she said.

“Then why didn't you listen? I mean, come on, Rosie. I hate to say 'I told you so', but...”

"He challenged me. I never walk away from a challenge, you know that. I'm not a coward.”

“Refusing for your safety doesn't make you a coward,” he answered. “Rosie, you started it, and now he's going to want to finish it.”

“I can take care of myself.”

“No, you can't,” Aedan growled. “Not against him.” He sighed heavily. “Look, Rosie, I've seen that look in his eyes before – a month before a beautiful, intelligent, important, and loved woman just like you committed suicide.”

"I'll be fine, Aedan. I'm not a weak woman. I've encountered men like him before."

“You haven't.”

“I have.”

"No, you haven't. He's different. He'll kill you if you give him half a chance."

“Good,” she spat. “He'll be better than most of the ones I know.”

Realizing he was getting nowhere, Aedan sighed and turned to leave. “Just watch your six,” he said finally. “Tex's watching you.”

She nodded, staring at his back. “And I'm watching him,” she promised.


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