The First of Many

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Chapter 34

Hannah had known it would happen eventually: Tex had been sulking around her too much, glaring at her when he thought she wasn't watching.

She was always watching.

It wasn't much of a surprise, then, when as she was wandering down a hall in the base, she suddenly found herself pressed against the wall, a hand at her throat and a hard, solid body against hers.

“Thought you'd get off easy, did you, bitch?” Tex's voice snarled, his breath hot and heavy against the shell of her ear.

“Drop it, Tadpole,” she snarled, but it was half-hearted. There was something so primal about their position, something so cold about his demeanor, that a cold fear paralyzed her. He was ready to hurt her, he was hoping she would put up a fight so that he would have an excuse to do so. She held back a shiver, tensing her muscles experimentally. His hand tightened about her throat, though not tight enough to choke her completely.

He grinned, grinding himself against her as she stood ramrod-straight against the wall, stunned. What the –

“Relax,” he whispered, “Play along, and I might let you enjoy this.”

“Get away from me, you sick bastard,” she hissed.

“Not before I finish what I started,” he snarled before crushing his lips to hers, his newly-healed tongue hot and insistent between her lips.

A dim voice in the back of Hannah's head reminded her that she should be resisting. She obeyed it, letting out a scream into his mouth that didn't so much as echo in the hallway.

Tex snarled and bit down hard on her lip, drawing blood before he pulled away. “I'm being nice, slut,” he spat. “Move again and I'll tear you apart.”

She wriggled in his grasp, but Tex snarled and pulled at her shirt, ripping it clear off her body. “That'll be your head, you crazy bitch,” he threatened. “I don't mind fucking your corpse so long as you're still warm.”

Fear glowed cold in her chest. “Get away,” she begged, sagging in defeat and humiliation. “Please stop...”

He grinned. “That's more like it,” he said, much softer. “Go on, beg for mercy. You won't get any, but it might be your lucky day; I'm feeling generous.”

Rage bubbled in her chest as his hands kneaded her flesh roughly, ripping messily at her clothing. His breath was hot and labored on her neck as he worked. She stood stock still, her breath coming in muted gasps of terror as he started removing his own clothing.

She struggled briefly again, and something cold and sharp pressed against her neck.

“Go on,” he taunted. “Fight. Just give me a reason, beautiful.”

Hannah snapped her mouth shut, shaking her head violently. He grinned and pressed the knife down slightly, the steel biting into her throat and drawing more blood.

He growled again, biting down on her neck. Hannah ducked, biting him back, and took advantage of his surprise to knee him between the legs.

She ran away from him in a full sprint as he fell to his knees with a high-pitched shout, as light and silent on her feet as when Mirage had shadowed the streets of countless cities. People, she thought, he can't attack me if I'm with someone...

The mess hall, she decided. There was always somebody there, even if it was just a custodian.

Fortunately, it was only about half an hour after lunch, and both Aedan and Snake were engaged in conversation at a table.

She stormed up to them, rage burning hot in her chest. “Snake,” she snarled angrily. “Get. Tex. Off. Your. Team.”

“Why?” Snake asked, looking concerned as he took in the sight of her; she was completely topless, her pants had been torn to shreds, there was a worryingly deep cut on her throat, and her lip was still bleeding.

The worst, though, was that her chest and sides were already showing bruises, darkening yellow smudges in the vague shape of hands.

Aedan stood, startled, rage making his eyes gleam. “Did he hurt you?” he snarled.

Hannah shook her head. “Not badly,” she said dismissively. “I’m in working order. It could have been worse.”

Aedan sighed and pulled her into a gentle hug. “It's okay,” he murmured. “I've got you.”

Hannah pushed him away gently. “Don't touch me,” she whispered.

Aedan snarled loudly. “What did he do to you?” he growled. “Rosie, I need to know.”

“The answer’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?” she snapped. “He cornered me and tried to rape me, threatened to slit my throat if I didn’t comply. Not very good technique, but it almost worked.”

He let out a long, aching breath. “I know,” he said softly. “Are you going to be okay?”

“He didn't break anything,” she said. “It's just a few cuts and bruises. I'll be fine.”

“You sure?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she muttered, letting him pull her close again.

“That son of a bitch,” Snake growled lowly.

“Snake, he has to go,” Aedan said. “He has to go, or I swear to God I'll kill him.”

“Get in line, New Guy,” Snake snarled. He stormed out of the room, presumably to go murder Tex, and Aedan walked Hannah back to her room.

“Rosie, are you sure you're okay?” he asked.

She nodded, clinging to him as they both entered. “Just hold me,” she whispered.

“What happened to 'don't touch me'?”

“I changed my mind.”

He sat down on her bed, holding her on his lap as he pulled her close. Hannah felt herself relax into the warmth of his chest.

“You're good at this,” she murmured.

“Am I?”

“Definitely.”

“Maybe I should charge you for the privilege of being hugged by me.”

“Maybe you should.”

“Fine, then I will.”

“What'll you charge?” she chuckled drily, content to forget about Tex for the moment.

“Hmm...” Aedan cocked his head comically, his chest trembling with suppressed laughter. She could hear his heartbeat, slow and steady and firm as a drum.

“That hard to think up what you'd like from me?” she teased.

“A kiss,” he decided. “I think I'll charge you a kiss.”

Hannah froze. “What?”

“Relax,” he said. “I was joking.”

“Pity,” Hannah said, pulling back and trailing a finger down the center of Aedan's chest. “What if I didn't want you to be joking?”

“You didn't?”

“No,” she whispered. “I need to get him off me, Aedan. Can you do that for me? I… I’m sorry if it’s… I know what this looks like, I don’t want to just use you like that… I just need him off.”

“It’s okay,” he promised, before he lowered his head and kissed her.

A feeling similar to drowning – or being waterboarded – flooded Hannah's body, and it was just as terrifying as she thought it would be, this odd connection, but she didn't pull away. She kissed him back and accepted everything he gave to her while giving him more than she ever expected she even had to give. They broke off slowly, leaning wordlessly against each other.

They sat there, reveling in each other's warmth.

“That was good,” Hannah said finally, breaking the silence.

“That was good,” he echoed, holding her closer, forcing down the rage that made his blood boil. “That was good.”


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