“This is awkward, huh?” Alexa asked, drowning in an oversized hoodie and avoiding eye contact, Alexa couldn’t look less like the nation’s savior and the King’s First Guard.
“Might be less awkward if you bothered to look at me.” Leia may have abandoned her black suit of armour, but she couldn’t shed the color. In a tight black t-shirt and jeans, she was still the nation’s villain even if everyone around them didn’t know it.
“I’m shy.” Alexa whined lightly, still staring at her coffee. The other cocked a side wat smile.
“You weren’t quite this shy when you were trying to blow my head off.” She countered.
“That was a professional setting,” She huffed. “And I wasn’t actually going to blow it off.”
“You told me you loved me and jumped on me.”
Alexa’s face eyes widened and her face went through fifty shades of red before settling on the brightest. “Thought you were dead.” She whined again, trying to hide in her hoodie. “I was relieved and you…you kissed me back. Didn’t seem like you were complaining.”
Leia moved right next to Alexa and cupped her face, causing the other to now hide behind her bubble gum pink hair. “Kitten.”
“What?” She asked, innocence sending shivers down taller girl.
“You’re like a kitten.” She said, moving the bubblegum colored hair to kiss her forehead. “So tiny, always trying to hide.”
Alexa nuzzled against the elder’s chest, partly because she did not ant the other to see her strawberry red face and partly because the scent of citrus drew her in. “Kittens like to be snuggled.” She hummed, content. “I missed this. I miss you.”
Leia has stiffened slightly at the younger’s sudden boldness, at her sudden confession. Best friends for years before they fell apart to their opposing views. Leia had been a monarchist too. Their dream as little girls had been to be apart of the King’s First Circle of Warriors. They planned on joining the Academy together, to train to be apart of the King’s First Circle. Alexa did. Became the First Guard too. But for Leia, that night had planted the seed of doubt in her and every dictatorial order that followed, every unanswered question sowed it further and up until the night before the coronation of the new king. The unfit king. She knew she couldn’t work for him, begged Alexa to change her mind too, but it had torn them apart instead. For years, they did not speak until they were suddenly fighting at opposing ends. Their identities may be hidden from the world, but they knew each other. Could tell exactly who was under the armour.
Leia moved her arms to pull the younger closer, right into her lap. Alexa let out the smallest scream and put her arms around the elder’s neck to balance in her awkward sideway position on the other’s lap. “We’re in public.”
“We’re hidden enough.” In their alcove like Leia had intended. Leia’s green eyes had always enchanted Alexa. And this moment was no exception. “Can I kiss you?”
She nodded, unable to form any words.
Leia’s stare lingered on Alexa’s lips. So pretty. So pink. Tasted like strawberries. Leia leaned forward slowly.
Alexa’s breath hitched. She closed her eyes, her lips pouting slightly. Soft lips brushed against hers. So much sweeter than the first one they had shared. There was no urgency or relief this time. They kissed languidly. Comfort. They sought the comfort they had had to deny each other for so long.
Leia pulled back when she felt Alexa apply more pressure, making the other whine unconsciously. Leia smiled and gave her another peck. “Save the excitement for when I take you home tonight.” Smirking at sight of the strawberry shade her skin had taken a permanent liking to today. “And the whines. I don’t think I’ve heard anything prettier.”
Alexa smacked her slightly. “Who said I’m going to let you take me home tonight?”
“You did.” Leia raised an eyebrow teasingly. The bubblegum haired girl had done that. Had demanded to be let into Leia’s the night before.
“To take care of your cuts!” And maybe to cuddle you to sleep. “And that two nights ago. Who said I want to go today?”
“You told me that I have to let you into my house for the next month to take care of me.” Leia smirked. “Should I take someone else home instead? Not that she would take anyone to her home at the headquarters. Leia might be her first love, but the rest of HXS didn’t share quite the same passion.
Alexa narrowed her eyes. “I’ll blow their head off.”
At least I’m only your kitten. She thought.
“Well, I hope so.”
Her eyes widened. Had she said that out loud?
“Yes,” the other chuckled.
“Get out of my head.”
“Stop saying everything you’re thinking.”
Bickering. Alexa had missed the bickering. With everyone else, she was so selfless. She was hardworking and always happy. She never let anyone walk all over her, but she’d never demanded anything of anyone. Growing up, she had been bratty with Leia and Leia only. She missed being able to just be with someone without thinking. They could’ve had this for years.
Alexa looked back up at her, a hand on Leia’s cheek. “Why did you leave?”
Leia stiffened, her smile dropping. “Why did you stay?” Leia had told Alexa about that night. Had rushed out as good of an explanation as possible in the time she had and in the state of mind that was in.
“I had to.” Alexa looked down at her lap, toying with the hem of her hoodie. “I’ve always wanted to.”
“To serve him?” Leia questioned, wincing at how harsh her voice sounded. “After what he’d done?”
“It’s not that simple. The monarchy…it’s not just him. The monarchy is so much more than that.”
“He’s the head. He’s at the top. The monarchy is him. It’s nothing but him.”
Alexa looked up. “The Senate’s there to stop him if he gets out of hand. The spare.”
“They didn’t stop the bombing.”
Alexa winced. “It had-“
“Don’t tell me it had to happen.”
How could they possibly just jump back into an old friendship? Old love? When there’s a gaping wound between them.
Leia sighed. “I knew I’d be defeated. Everyone at HXS did. We accepted it this year.”
“Then why did you leave? Why did you go up against me?” Tears were brimming in the corner of her eyes. She went so many years without being vulnerable because she really had no one to be vulnerable with.
“We wanted people to stop being so fucking blind. It’s not just him. It’s the entire monarchy,” she whispered harshly. This was not a conversation to be had in public. “How is the idea of any one absolute power not insane to you?”
“Stability. Assurance.” Alexa was sure of this. “Nothing else can unite us like a monarchy can.”
“Unemployment is not stability. Laws being changed because of a vexed heart is not assurance in anything.” Leia could not do this. She knew how gut wrenching it was to have to stop believing everything you grew up building, how it felt like a knife twisting in your gut to have everything you’ve ever done to not only be meaningless, but harmful.
“VICTORY PARADE TO BE HELD TOMORROW.” The announcer on the TV blared. Alexa nd Leia looked up to see pictures of them. Fighting. Leia almost unconscious in the building Alexa had brought down. She knew it’d be blamed on her as the former was the hero. It was family house. It seemed like a dollhouse children played with Half the house had been reduced to ash, giving a perfect look at the inside of the other half. Dolls, half a dining table, beds, clothes. So many things were cluttered about. They had no way of knowing the family hadn’t been at home. Alexa had no way of knowing and did not seem to care.
Bile rose up in her throat. Alexa wasn’t just a blind follower. She was the executioner.
Why did she ever think this could happen between, that anything could be fixed?
That night, the former executioner had killed her neighbor. It had been a fight. Nothing quite as big as this one. The King, just a prince then had picked a fight with children on the street for continuing to play football when his car passed by. Took their ball and even kicked one of them. Threating and towering over them. Leia and her classmate walked in on the incident. The prince threw the ball at one of the children’s faces, breaking a tooth. The classmate, after telling Leia to take the children away, grabbed the prince’s collar and had been annihilated on the spot. Leia came back just in time to see her friend be reduced to a pile of ash. The prince gave her a smirk and took the hand that had been around his collar back with him. She froze in shock.
She tried to report it, but it had already been covered up as a case of assault. The powerless taking the fault. In a rundown neighborhood like theirs, it was already easy to cover up. And something that happened in a street corner with no witnesses?
Leia told Alexa. She ran to Alexa’s. Had heaved and puked. She still has nightmares about it till date. But Alexa hadn’t been swayed. A hardened monarchist. Just like the friend that had been reduced to Ash.
Alexa was The Executioner now. She must’ve done things like that. The bombing, there was no warning, no planning. Even Leia’s mole hadn’t been able to inform her. It had happened in a quick flash. All those innocent lives. Just because they didn’t want to lose their land, their homes. Where else could uneducated farmers go? With no other skill and the monthly income they lived on. The news had called them domestic terrorists, a threat to the monarchy, ‘a threat to the stability of the nation’. Had slandered and defamed them before reporting the bombing as a slight incident and cure for antinational behavior. A luxury resort is currently being built on the same land and there is no one to question it.
The Executioner is the only one capable of such destruction without machinery. Even machinery needed at least a day to be transported. Her mole would’ve have reached her. Leia and HXS would’ve stopped it. But for The Executioner, it wouldn’t have taken more than 30 minutes to fly down and destroy everything.
Leia looked at Alexa. “Why did you want to come home with me so badly last night?”
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