After Ahmeil’s declaration to me, I had lost all desire to go see Tristan like I had originally wanted. I was shaking and fuming, a boiling wreck that needed release of some sort and going to have sex with Tristan wasn’t the answer. So left the manor entirely and went out into the huge expanse behind it to the training areas. I needed something to do, something that would get my mind off of her words and her lies. Something that would make me feel a little better, like imagining a bullet going through her head.
I ended up near the range where I usually trained with Jace. The weapons that he’d shown me the first time I was there remained on the table. By then I could tell what was a shot gun, a rifle, an assault weapon, and more. I reached out and I lifted up one of the rifles. It had a long barrel, a bolt on the side that you would pull back to open the chamber and a sight attached to the top of it. As I was examining the weapon, footsteps came up to me and I stiffened half expecting it to be Ahmeil again. I swear to God I’m going to bash her over the head with this thing!
“Never expected you to pick up something like that,” it was Jace’s voice and I felt relief flood me.
“Jace,” I uttered his name and turned to face him.
He arched an eyebrow, “Expecting someone else? This is my range you know.”
I laughed a bit, “Yeah, I know. Sorry, I was just… Lost in thought.”
“You seem to be doing that a lot. What do you want with a .30-06?”
I shrugged a bit, “Try it, I suppose.”
“It’s got one hell of a kick, you sure? It’ll knock you on your ass if you’re not careful.”
“Serious? It doesn’t do it to you.”
Jace rolled his eyes, “I’m used to shooting these kinds of guns, Valkyrie. You’ve never even touched one until now. So yes, I’m sure.”
I eyed the gun for a bit before I laughed and turned my gaze back to him. With yet another shrug I looked over to the range, “There’s a first for everything I suppose.”
Jace huffed a bit before he reached down to the table and took another rifle, the same one I held but with a different scope on it. He motioned for the tables a few feet away from us and we walked over to them. Putting the gun on the table he grabbed two chairs and set them up. I examined the range that he’d chosen and then the gun itself. Honestly, I was a little excited to shoot it, but at the same time nervous because I’d never handled anything quite as powerful.
“All right, sit down, give it to me, I’ll put it on the stand. You remember how to load it right?”
“Yeah,” I answered as I handed it to him so he could set it up for me.
Though I had never handled one, Jace had made sure to drill me on how to unload and load every weapon he had on that table. At first I had thought it to be pointless because he said I wouldn’t ever use one since I used the handgun only. However, as the days went by, I realized that should I ever be in a tight situation and didn’t have my handgun but something else, I would need to know how to use it. Jace really did think things through, especially when I didn’t.
Once the weapon was set up, I took hold of it and loaded it. Taking a breath, I aimed down the sight and pulled the trigger. The kick hit my shoulder rather hard and I winced a bit. This was probably a bad idea… I thought to myself, but didn’t say anything as I sat there. The loud bang of the rifle made my ears ring and for a moment I thought I’d lost my hearing. Next to me, Jace’s hand tapped my shoulder and I looked at him.
“Too quick. Take your time with the shot. Relax,” he ordered me, a frown on his lips as he looked mad, but I knew that he wasn’t.
With a nod, I did as he said and turned back to look down the sight. I focused on the target, slowed my breathing and gently squeezed the trigger this time instead of just pulling it. The gun went off again, the kick knocking me back slightly, but thanks to the chair I stayed seated. I supposed Jace would have been correct in saying it would have knocked me on my ass should I have been shooting it standing. Sitting down was a little different.
As I reset and looked down through the scope, I noted that my second shot was straight through the head of the target down the range. It was probably just a luck shot, but it felt sort of good to know that I could do it if I really wanted to, or really tried. I pulled back the bolt, releasing the shell of the bullet and put in another one. One shot at a time, I put holes through that target, all the while thinking it was Ahmeil standing there and not just a piece of paper stapled to a piece of plywood fifty yards out.
I wasn’t sure at what point I had become numb to the kick as it pounded into my shoulder, or how long I had just continually put bullet after bullet into the chamber of the weapon. I almost didn’t register Jace’s presence next to me when he called my name, and fired again. He reached out and gripped my shoulder tightly, getting my attention that way.
I looked over to him, shocked and surprised. I’d forgotten he was with me, “Y-yeah?”
“Stop. First off, you’re going to overheat the gun shooting like that, and second, what is wrong?”
Wrong? What did he mean? I stared at him for a while totally confused as to what he meant. Slowly I shook my head at him, arching an eyebrow. Jace’s green gaze grew wide a bit before he frowned and reached out. His hand across my face felt strange. Jace never really showed any affection or emotion to anyone, but this time he was. Running his fingers under my eyes, he wiped at my face.
“You’re crying. What’s wrong?”
I took a deep breath. When had I started crying? I couldn’t recall. All I knew was that I had been thinking about everything Ahmeil had done up to that point, how it was unfair that of all people, I was the one who was dying, and that Tristan had no clue that she was the culprit behind my injuries as well as a few other things. Stress was starting to take over. Perhaps that was why I had started crying. Slowly I reached up and wiped at my face as well, sniffing as I finally realized what had happened.
“S-sorry, I didn’t… mean to.”
Jace shook his head at me and sighed heavily, “Why are you out here? Shouldn’t you be with someone right now?”
“I…” I didn’t know how to answer him. My heart was heavy with all of my thoughts and I wanted to tell him, I wanted to tell him everything but I couldn’t. A hiccup wracked my chest and a heavy sob filled my throat. The tears that had flowed on their own were even thicker when I realized I had started crying. Without warning, I threw myself at Jace, latching onto him and balling on his shoulder.
“H-hey! W-what… S-stop that…” Jace’s voice stuttered heavily and I was pretty sure that if I looked up he would be as red as a beet as I clung to him.
Even though he said to stop, he didn’t push me away though. I felt his body turning as he looked around, probably making sure no one saw him sitting there with me hung up around his neck, sobbing on his shoulder. After a moment, I felt his arms around me, gently touching me almost as if he were afraid to. He let me lean heavily on him for a long while, crying hard. All of my frustrations were running out in the tears that soaked his shirt.
It was a little while later that I finally settled and slowly lifted myself off of him, my own face flushed red in embarrassment that I had broken down like that in front of him. Jace was always fairly collected, stronger than me for sure. I supposed I had wanted to show him that I could be just as strong, and I had failed in that moment. He awkwardly patted my shoulder as I sat back.
“S-sorry,” I mumbled.
Jace sighed and shook his head, “It’s fine… But seriously, go see Tristan,” he stood up then and turned his back to me to head to the manor, “Next time if you’re going to cry, bring some tissues… Jeez, you got my shirt all wet,” he muttered, trying to sound irritated by it but it didn’t come out right.
I laughed a bit and nodded, “Yeah. Sorry about that, I’ll try to remember to do so next time.”
“And don’t latch onto me so suddenly… it’s weird…” he added with a glance over his shoulder.
I smiled and nodded, noting his blushing features before he stormed off to the manor, leaving me at that range. Staying in the seat for a while longer, I took deep breathes to try to calm myself and wiped at my face constantly as stray tears still managed to leak through, trailing down my face. As much as I wanted to see Tristan, I didn’t want to at the same time. Everyone was taking my crying for the wrong reasons. Thinking I was upset about Excalibur eating me away. That was far from the truth though. Sure, I was terrified of dying, but I was more upset and pissed off about Ahmeil.
Once I dealt with her, I was sure my attention would definitely turn to my predicament. However, for the moment, I was more concerned about how I was going to reveal her true intentions. How she wanted me to use Excalibur and speed up the process of being burned away by it. Turning, I leaned against the table next to the sizzling barrel of the rifle. I honestly hadn’t noticed how hot the weapon could get.
After a while, I finally got up and headed back to the manor. Maybe seeing Tristan was a good thing. Even if he was going to take my being upset for something other than what it was. For the moment, I really didn’t mind. Once again, all I wanted was to see him and to be held by him. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the mood for anything else, though. I was still too irritated about Ahmeil, but I needed company.
So I wandered through the halls of the manor until I found him. He was in his study, working on something that I didn’t ask about. Hell, I didn’t even knock; I just opened the door and looked in to see if he was there. Upon spotting him, I walked in, shutting the door behind me and locking it. I wanted it to only be the two of us. Tristan looked up at me from his work as the door clicked against the frame.
Without a word, I strode across the room, my eyes trained on him. His hazel gaze was locked on me as well, but he looked confused and worried. As I got close to him, he leaned back in his chair. Going around the desk, I pushed the chair back enough so that I could climb onto his lap like a child. Sitting on him, I wrapped my arms around his neck and buried my face into his shoulder. It took him only a moment to enclose me in his arms. Tristan leaned back further in the computer chair, so that we were slanted and most of my body weight was resting against his large chest.
I hugged him tightly, taking deep breathes to keep from sobbing uncontrollably on him. My body shook slightly and he shifted, reaching up higher with one arm as the other pulled at my waist, dragging me closer to him. We didn’t say anything to each other, I was sort of grateful that he didn’t ask me what was wrong. I didn’t want to talk about it, besides, how was I supposed to? I felt his fingers tracing along the back of my neck, stretching up to go into my hairline and I shivered at the touch. It was nice to feel him rubbing my skin gently, calming my body.
I let out a heavy sigh as I curled up on him. His head turned and I felt his breath on my neck. As I lay on him, I started to feel myself slipping into the sweet recesses of sleep. Every limb was slowly beginning to relax and my heart was slowing down as was my breathing, growing heavier and deeper as I lay on him. Tristan shifted just slightly, moving my body to a more comfortable position on his lap. His warmth seeped through his clothes to me and I sighed again, this time in content.
“I love you,” Tristan whispered to me as I drifted off to sleep.
I love you too, more than you know. I love you…