The hands running over her skin and the wet spots it left on her afterward was what jerked her awake. She tried to sit up but was pushed back and a body loomed over her. The heat of his skin felt too close. Reaching her hand, she felt his warm, naked skin under her palm. His temperature was going down.
"How long have I been asleep?"
She jumped when she felt his lips touch her neck, lifting her dress up to trail his lips up from her stomach down to her thighs. He shifted and went to kiss her lips. Nova felt his leg nudge hers apart so he could settle between them, fully clothed.
"Vicious," she emitted a groan of protest. "You should be resting."
"Fuck, I know," his voice was hoarser than before, as he rested his forehead against hers. Vicious pulled back from her and Nova followed him, catching his lips with hers to silence the protest that was about to escape his lips. However, he pulled away before she could deepen the kiss. "You're gonna get sick, doll."
"I don't care."
His lips spread with an amused smile. "Yeah, but I kinda do." Then finally laid back down on the bed.
Nova closed her eyes and rubbed her legs to stop the tingles she was feeling. She was positively sure that she was feeling hotter than him, and Nova wanted him even more for arousing these feelings inside her, even when he knew they couldn't do anything until he got better.
"How are you feeling?" she asked after a minute of silence as they recovered from the heated moment they had shared.
Vicious shrugged. "Got the best doctor at hand, what do you think?"
"I didn't do anything."
"Besides giving me blue balls?" He laughed while her face heated up. "You got food?" he asked, noticing the bags on the floor.
She nodded and scrambled out of the bed. "I also went to the pharmacy and got you some meds. You might feel a little drowsy when you take them, but you will feel much better." Her hand reached for the first bag, picking it up as she retreated back to the bed. He watched her with an amused smile playing on his lips. She blanched at that. "What?"
"I love it when you play doctor," he answered with a bite to his lower lip. "You should get inside my head and see what goes on in there—picturing you in nothing but lacy underwear with a stethoscope around your neck. You could do a lot of things with that."
Her eyes took on a dangerous heat before she chewed the inside of her cheek and exhaled loudly. "Stop it," she begged because she couldn't take it if he kept talking about it. Nothing should transpire between them, at least, not until he got better.
"Can't fucking stop, doll. It's been so long since I have tasted you, I almost forgot what you tasted like." His tongue darted out to swipe across his lips, watching the green flecks in his eyes darken further. Her heart began to rise and fall with speed.
Her heart pulsed, but she managed to squash it down enough to glare at him. "Behave," she warned.
She gave him his meds and water to swallow it down with, and when she asked him to open his mouth like a little child, he snorted but complied. They ate the takeouts, and it was at that moment she wanted to ask him about Ben, but if he hadn't told her, he probably didn't want her to know.
"I can't taste shit." She heard him groan out in annoyance and pushed the food away.
She laughed. Such a baby. "You're acting like this is the first time you've been sick, Vic."
"No, but I forgot how much it sucked." He rubbed furiously at his face, scowling at nothing in particular. She laughed, and he rolled his eyes at the sound, dropping his hand to lean back against the headboard.
"You will get better, but at a slow pace. That can change if you see a doctor," she tried to manipulate, even though there was zero chance of that ever happening. Can't blame her for not trying again.
"Thought I was already," he said, eyes half-lidded, lips drawn, and she rolled her eyes.
"I'm not a doctor."
"Why—" He coughed. "did you give it—" Another cough. "—up again?"
Things left in the past needed to remain in the past, not revisited. Nova sighed, filling up his water glass and passing it over. "I wanted to do something else. Follow my choice, I guess? Are you comfortable?"
"Why? You plan on tucking me in?" He gave her a shit-eating grin, earning him a flip off. "Come here, darlin'." He circled his arm around her waist, pulling her flush against him, as he hooked a leg around his own.
She found comfort in his arms and warmth. It felt nice. Cozy. "Is there anything you'd like to tell me?" she quietly asked, hoping the question would urge him to confide in her about his recent run-ins.
"My dick doesn't have sick days." He laughed breathlessly against her, reaching his free hand up to grab her breast, the suddenness of it making her clench around him. Vicious pressed a kiss into the back of her neck, then dropped his head to her shoulder.
It's been two days since they have been cooped up in the motel room. The only time Nova went out was to get food or a change of clothes. Vicious' fever was getting so much better. He was gradually getting his energy back, and it was only a matter of time before they had to get out of there, and back into the real world.
It felt nice to spend so much time with him alone. He tried to be there with her, even when he got so tired and could barely open his eyes, he listened to everything she said and responded with a nod or short answers. Sometimes, he would have his head on her lap, and she would run her fingers through his locks because according to him, it helped him sleep faster. They tried not to kiss, but they also didn't try to keep their hands off each other. He gave her releases and in return, she did the same thing.
The tv was on, but the sound was muted. Vicious was studying her. The multi-colors from the television flashed over him, casting him in a changing canvas of shadows. It made him seem more alluring and dangerous. He lifted her into his lap and pressed a kiss to her forehead, brushing my hair back and continued to do so. Sometimes, it surprised her how his touch could be so tender and soothing.
"Sorry, I'm keeping you here."
"Are you kidding? I get to see you like this when no one else could. That's a huge thing for me. It makes me believe I'm special."
He tightened his hold. "Because you are special." His eyes told her that she should believe him. Licking his lips, he added away, "More than anyone out there. I don't have to tell you those three words to understand my feelings for you."
Her heart pounded and her eyes grew wide. Did he mean what she thought he meant? She waited, her breath held. "Vicious, what are you saying?"
"I think you know."
"No, I don't," she wrenched out. Yes, I do.
His chest lifted, and Nova felt the air that he drew in. Her eyes closed. Her breath went with him, into him. "No one has the guts to stay with me after what I did to you, Nova, but you kept coming back."
"That's because you won't let me go."
"And I still won't. I care about you more than I should. You're a liability, a weakness I shouldn't have, but I don't care. I don't care that being with me puts you in danger, or that it would kill me if something were to happen to you."
"Sorry, but I can't grasp that. Sum it up in a few words," she pleaded. The need was blossoming in her chest, ready to explode. However, Nova didn't know if she was quite ready for that, so why was she pressing? Neither one of them wanted to say it.
He grinned. "Sum what up?"
"Stop teasing me."
His smile slipped and his eyes dropped. They lingered on her lips. Then he said, "I don't know if I can give you what you want." He scratched his forehand and sighed. Looking back up into her eyes, he concluded, "But I can give you this, muneca. I want a lot of time with you."
Everything fell away at that moment. It was a lot to take in. It was heavy words, and she knew how much it took to admit it. Men like Vicious didn't love. They didn't commit. They live in a dangerous world where loving someone wasn't easy.
Her eyes caught and held his. "I want a lot of time with you too," Nova confessed with a grin. "I adore you, you crazy, demented man." Her hand fell to his chest, and it stayed there, feeling his heart.
Vicious tilted her head back and pressed a kiss underneath her chin as he murmured, "I adore you too." His hand slid to the back of her neck and his lips moved back to hers.
Maybe they weren't quite ready for I love yous, but that was close to it, and it was something they were both comfortable with saying.
Her body melted to his. She became one with him as she said those words. Then she said it again, because she could because he really got it, and because she was feeling a lot right now. "I adore you so much, Vic." His lips opened over hers, demanding his entrance. She gave it because she needed all of him, as much as she could get.
They left the motel. Vicious had been away for too long, according to him. The only reason why she let him convince her to bring him back was that she could see that he was better. There was no trace that he had ever been sick in the first place. The cocky gang leader was back.
She drove them to the warehouse he had located to after the other one got burned down. The new one was a bit smaller than the old one, but he told her that could be temporary too. Through the thirty minutes drive, Vicious hired her full time to work with him. Not for him, but with him. She was going to get paid too, although she had expressed her discomfort about it. Nova didn't want to accept money from the man she was seeing, so Vicious agreed that until she found a new job, she would be working full time with him.
When they reached the warehouse, she walked out of the car. She crossed to the other side, meeting him halfway as he wrapped his arm around her waist and kissed her deeply and possessively. They pulled away to get inside the warehouse when something clicked behind them.
Ben was pointing a gun at them. No, he had his gun out and pointed at Vicious. She tried not to panic when she read the murderous rage in her friend's eyes. They looked at each other for a few seconds or so, and didn't speak. Ben gripped the gun harder while she continued to stiffen, obvious to the dark look that crossed over Vicious's face.
"Ben, what are you doing?" Her voice was so small, almost frightening, and in a way, she was frightened. And shocked. It was a mixture of both. How did he find them?
His gaze shifted from Vicious to land on her, and she saw disappointment written there. "You know, I really wanted to believe you, Nova. I wanted to believe you had no clue who he is." He sounded betrayed but mostly mad.
"Ben..." She took half a step closer, but Vicious grabbed her arm and hauled her back to him. His eyes were so dark she couldn't see the green in them anymore.
Ben eyed them with disgust. "Game over for you," he told Vicious, fishing handcuffs from his pocket to throw it at Nova's feet. "Put it on him."
She stared at him in alarm. Inside she was shaking like a leaf, but she did her best to show bravado. She did her best to try and calm him. "Please, put the gun down, Ben. I can explain."
"Explain what? That you're with him?" He jerked his chin towards Vicious, gun still pointed at his chest. "Do you think I'm going to believe everything you say? I knew there was something wrong about you. God, my instincts have always been right, ever since that day you lied to my face. You're fucking him, aren't you?" he hissed out. "Aren't you ashamed of yourself? What would your parents think?"
A whimper escaped her lips. Pain sliced through her heart. He was right, but he didn't have to cut her that deep.
"Say another fucking word to her, and I will put you down," Vicious growled out dangerously.
Ben snorted. "I'm the one holding the gun, asshole, and if you move, I'll shoot. We're going to do this the easy way, Vicious. I will bring you in so I can put you in prison once and for all. You're going to rot there. Put the cuffs on him, Nova!"
She swallowed, desperately seeking the strength to be brave. Not once did she move to pick up the cuffs lying at her feet. She wouldn't. She couldn't. He must have expected her to comply, but she would not give in to him.
He sent a deep glare her way. "Be glad I'm not dragging you with him. For the sake of the friendship we shared, I'm letting you go, and because you're the one who led me straight to the gold pot. Thank you for that."
She felt as if her stomach had dropped to the floor and beyond. He had followed her here, which meant he had been stalking her for days, waiting for her to lead him to Vicious, to the warehouse. She felt sick. She felt Vicious' gaze upon her, but could not summon the will to meet it.
"You can't take him," her voice rapped out sharply.
"Do you hear yourself? He has brainwashed you. He's a criminal! Do you know how many people he's killed? I'm trying to clean this city, Nova."
"Killing me won't clean this city, dumbass. Someone is gonna step up and take over, and then god help you because they won't hesitate to kill you for sniffing around them. The only reason why you ain't dead is because of her, but I'm fucking regretting that decision now."
"Shut up," she hissed at Vicious, knowing that any wrong thing could easily make Ben pull the trigger. She didn't need him to push Ben over to the edge, which seemed to be what he thought was a good idea. What an idiot.
Though his jaw tightened, he seemed to like the next words he would say because he was smirking. "You might have killed my informer, but she will testify against you."
Breathlessly, it came out, "What?"
"Oh, yes. It's only right that you get to be the one to nail his coffin."
Ice ran through her veins. Her mouth fell open as her breathing slowed, punched with fear. "I will not do that." Nova stared at him in disbelief. Did he really expect her to rat Vicious out? Was he mad?
"Would you rather see him dead, Nova, or alive? If you don't testify against him, I will kill him, and then I will get away with it. Do you know why? Because I'm FBI, and he's a piece of shit who has been on our radar. People like him die all the time." His lips, she saw, had twisted into a faint smile. "I thought you'd like him better alive. It's all up to you what happens now."
"Vicious..." She stopped breathing. No way. Nova felt gutted. Someone had taken a knife and slid it across her throat. A sick sensation started to fill her and she began to tremble.
Vicious chuckled, a humorless sound dancing across each one of their ears. It sounded taunting. "Funny how you say that but you ain't so clean yourself, are you? Sent a lot of criminals to jail, haven't you? More than your colleagues, which isn't so impressive if you shed more light onto it." He snorted and went for the kill, "Vipers are selling you information, and in return, you keep them off the FBI's radar."
Nova shook her head. It couldn't be, but Vicious wouldn't say something without it being somewhat true. Ben was dirty? Disbelief ran through her, as she watched his face go pale and disappeared in seconds. The hand holding the gun trembled twice. So, it was true.
"That's why nothing had been found in the warehouse. I left one of Vipers' members alive so he could be found by the police and interrogated, but imagine my surprise when he was found dead—shot in the head and in close range. You were the first one at the scene, hence the only one to silence him."
"You're speaking bullshit now." There was something in Ben's posture, a flash of vulnerability.
Some dark, seething emotion seized hold of him. "You can't prove anything," Ben replied with an edge to his tone.
"Are you sure about that? Imagine what would happen if I expose you to your force. An FBI agent on a gang payroll—it sure does sound like something your colleagues would be interested in," he taunted. "You struck me as vanilla, but I got no idea you got more flavor."
"Ben," she choked out in a disbelief cry.
A whole range of emotions chased themselves across Ben's expressive face. First, there was fear, then anger, then weariness, followed by anger again. His flushed face was even rosier than it was already, and his eyes as they met hers gave off sparks. "Whatever you're trying to do right now, it won't work. Cuff him while I call for backup. You're not going anywhere, dipshit. Cuff him!"
"Where is Batman?" demanded Vicious. The ice in his voice froze the blood in her veins. "Who is he?"
Ben ignored his question, seizing her with an impatient look. "You're wasting time, Nova. My patience is running out." He waved his gun for her to proceed.
"Okay!" The breath she drew was deep and shuddering, the word torn from deep inside her chest. "I will do it, but please don't pull the trigger." She reached down, with trembling body and picked up the cuffs, turning around to face Vicious.
He looked down at her, his eyes unreadable but somehow, she could figure out his feelings. His blank face told her that he cared what happened to her, and he didn't give a shit what happened to him. She could also tell that he was not doing anything stupid for her. The warehouse was behind them. Vicious' boys were only a shout away. One second and they would be blasting out with their guns. Maybe that was why they weren't yelling for help. Things could go wrong.
Nova continued to stare at him as if she could extract her soul so that it could reach his. He was tensed. He had clenched his teeth. He would offer her his wrists for her to the cuff. She didn't think he would hate her if she testified against him. The problem was, she didn't want to. She didn't want to be the reason he was sent away. She didn't want him in prison or dead.
Her shoulders tensed. Ben barked another order. She flinched and shut her eyes. When she opened them, Vicious was staring at her with a frown.
Can't see you get sent to prison.
One more glance to his face. She looked down at his hips, and then Nova was grabbing the gun tucked inside his jeans, spinning around to point it at Ben as she stood in front of Vicious, shielding him away from harm.
The gun felt like a brick in her hands. Her hands were heavy as they aimed at Ben, who stood looking at her in disbelief, looking at the end of the barrel now facing him.
"Throw your gun away," she begged as he continued to burn holes through her. Both guns were pointed at each other. His was steady, and hers trembled.
"You won't shoot."
"Do you want to try me?"
His face heated with anger and betrayal. "For him?" he hissed out.
Nova gritted her teeth and lets out a sound that she didn't recognize. "For him." Her heart was thudding in her chest, and she felt sick. "I'm begging you. Please, don't make me do this." Her voice cracked.
Ben raised his gun higher and instantly, Vicious shoved her out of the way, and Ben must have gotten startled by it because, in a second, she saw his hand on the trigger. Preparing to shoot. Nova squeezed her trigger, and the first bullet landed in his arm. Blood pooling around the wound instantly, seeping into his white shirt. The sound startled her so much that she jumped and accidentally pulled on the trigger again, letting one more bullet out. It hit him in the chest. She watched him fall to the ground.
The sounds around her muted, and the only thing she could hear was her own breathing. Echoing all around her. Everything was moving in slow motion. From Vicious rushing to check Ben, to the loud footsteps coming from behind. The gun slipped from her hand and it hits the floor with a loud sound that filled her ears. Nova brought one of her hands up and placed it over her chest. She could feel her heart pounding through her shirt. She could feel her knees weakening, but she couldn't stop staring at Ben's unmoving body.
Vicious slowly turned, and he signaled his boys to take care of the body before he crowded over her. He bent over to pick up the gun she had dropped. When he stood back up, their eyes lock, but she really wasn't seeing him. Only when Nova's knees buckled, did she realize that she hadn't been breathing. Strong arms caught her and she hesitantly looked up at him, and the tears finally spilled over as she heard her ragged breaths.
Her nails dug into his arms as he gripped her shoulder, holding her upright. His face was void of all emotion.
She lost all feelings to her legs as she clung to him, his words settling in and a fresh wave of tears and panic fell through her.
"No." She shook her head. "He's not dead. You can save him. You...there's something that you can do, right?" She twisted her hands into his jacket, looking over at the body still lying on the street.
She stumbled away from him to get to Ben, to check his pulse, but the arms that secured around her prevented her from taking another few steps. She hit Vicious' chest, forcing him to look at her.
"He's already dead," he deadpanned. She lets out a shaky sob, clutching her stomach.