Chapter 53: Slither
Giselle felt the trill of excitement when she heard the approach of heavy footsteps on the stairs. Like a teenager prepping for prom night, she fluffed her hair, and selected a duly appropriate pose on the couch, tapping the small jewel on her bracelet to complete the scene.
The pose would have been more comfortable without the thin metal blade laced into her bodice, but beggars cannot be choosers.
A thin smile curled across her lips, and she watched with breathless anticipation as the door rattled, broke and opened, revealing the man.
The disheveled, mad-eyed man in the black coat.
Normally, Giselle would have been disappointed as she rose gracefully to her feet. The state of the man was less than ideal for her standards. His clothes were ratty and unkempt, he was unwashed, and sweating. And his hair was a ratty mop on his head.
One hand reached out, fearless tingling running down her fingertips as she moved to shut the door behind him. At first he seemed oblivious to her presence.
Once the door clicked shut, Giselle could feel his eyes on her. She returned the stare unabashedly. There was an unmistakable power there, flashing beneath the surface and lashing out at her with every breath he took, and every weary move he made. She could almost feel it between them. It was exhilarating.
This was a killer, a vicious beast that had taken down countless muscle bound cronies, in most cases with his bare hands or a knife. But then again, so had she.
He watched her, Giselle realized, like a wounded bear would watch the hunter who shot him; He’s done and he knew it.
Giselle’s smile cracked her face and her pearly whites flashed with glee. Her illusion of black hair tumbled over her shoulders and through the misleading image that X-XIII saw, Giselle’s triumph shone in her eyes.
“Lucas Bainbridge,” She purred, “I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Who...” He narrowed his eyes at her, circling away and further into the apartment.
Giselle turned slowly to keep him in full view, following his lead. This was a dance she knew well, and his novice steps were only making hers better. She watched him with the careful eye of experience – His gait was unsteady. Flecks of blood were on his chin, but seemed to have been hastily wiped away, intoning an injury. That should make things easier. He had circles under his eyes and they seemed to be flitting about in an uncertain manner. The longer that she tried to catch his eye, the more she noticed how out of sorts he seemed – he was unfocused, distracted.
Possibly from the injury?
“My name is Giselle.” She said. “I know about you.”
The man stopped moving, and his eyes seemed to focus rather quickly then on her face. The suddenness of his attentions surprised her, and she felt her eyebrows twitch up slightly.
“What do you know?” He asked, voice hoarse.
She edged towards him, hands open and visible. “I know plenty of things, Lucas.”
“What... who is that? Why do you keep...” Lucas pressed his left palm to his temple, head jerking to the side. He groaned then, his right hand lashing out to clutch at the little island counter.
Giselle furrowed her brow. This did not seem like the sort of guy that could cause so much trouble. He seemed like a broken, injured boy. However, as fate would have it, apparently he also had no memory of the name Giselle had taken care to obtain.
Briefly, the thought came to her that she had the wrong person. But honestly, how many people walk around in a tattered black coat covered in blood? She was willing to bet money that if she called Martin now, he would have just gotten the news that another of his businesses had been annihilated just minutes ago.
And how many people felt so powerful? She wished she could understand that feeling, explain it better to herself in these moments so that later she could explain it to Martin. But she couldn’t put her finger on it. It was like he was... super charged.
She made no sudden moves towards him. He sat there a moment, one hand braced on the counter and the other on his head. When his breathing seemed to slow down, she casually stepped in. Just one step.
“Perhaps there is something else I can call you, mad man?” She asked.
She took another step, peering at him. Her quick eyes saw the marking on the back of his neck. She reached out and brushed some hair from the spot.
Lucas squirmed quickly away, turning again to face her with a snarl on his face. Not before she saw the number – X-XIII.
It was the man! From a year ago, the one they had never found, the so called burglar! She felt the pieces come together and was smugly reassured that she had been right about her hunch.
“Don’t -” He raised a hand to ward her off.
Giselle took a leap. A hunch. She reached out and took his hand. “X.” she cooed, in her best gentle voice.
She saw his snarl begin to crumble.
“I’m not going to hurt you, X.” She sighed. She pulled herself closer, using his hand as a guide. He tried to take a step away from her, but he was attached now, and once the snarl was gone, it seemed like the movements he made were slow and clumsy.
Silly boy. It was like he didn’t want to hurt her.
She managed not to laugh in his face.
In moments she had him pressed against the wall. His eyes were wide and she looked deep into them, for a second admiring their... unique hue. It was like looking into cracked glass, blue like watered-down chemicals. She felt a static shock tickle her fingertips as she put a hand on his chest and closed the gap between them with a kiss.
He made a pathetic, helpless sound when they connected, and she could feel him going rigid. It was like every muscle in his body froze up.
She ran her hand into his coat and up to his shoulder, pushing one side of the jacket off of his chest. Giselle pulled away from him and his eyes were still open and staring.
“See? That didn’t hurt, did it?”
X shook his head slowly. Giselle reached up with her other hand and pushed the jacket off the other side. She gave it a brief yank from a bunch of fabric by his hip, and it slid to the ground with a thwop.
He watched her as she slowly pulled his shirt up. He made no move as she ran her hands underneath it onto the bare skin of his chest.
Giselle’s hands ran across something she suddenly wanted to see, and she pushed the fabric up and slowly over his head. She kept her eyes locked on his as she did so.
When he put up no resistance – but offered no aid, she quirked an eyebrow at him.
He blinked. Giselle allowed herself a giggle.
“A little help here?” She murmured.
Hesitantly, he lifted his arms and she pulled the shirt off and her eyes widened at the sight of the two starbursts of scar tissue. As she stared, she could feel him starting to edge to the side.
“You aren’t so tough, are you?” She said.
X scowled at her, but there wasn’t any power to it. No, the power was under his skin. She ran a greedy hand down his chest. She could feel the tightly corded muscle there, the thrill of kinetic energy that tickled her fingertips.
“Yes I am.” He whispered. He was wide eyed.
Giselle felt her lips curling into a smile. She let him go, then, and she slipped out of the jacket. She dropped it on the floor, then slowly reached back for the tie of the sarong.
“Don’t... don’t do that.” He protested weakly. He hadn’t moved a muscle since she’d run a hand across his bare chest, and he had held her gaze with admirable rigidity.
That was about to change.
The sarong dropped.
X stopped breathing.
Giselle took his hand.