Chapter _; book ii.
Working chapter title: - Repair. (part 2)
*author note: this is in direct continuation of the last chapter (Dismantle.-)
"Fai un esempio del suo," he barked to the other men. The blade dug into her flesh and dragged downward; she could feel every centimeter of the seven inch edge as it dissevered the upper and lower portions of her cheek. She felt the metal scraping against her teeth and tried not to think about the now-gaping wound on the side of her face. She swallowed the blood.
Someone shoved her forward and her knees hit the stones once more, she wondered if she would ever actually get out of the alley. Salvatore twisted her arms up against her back at an awkward angle, fat hands on her wrists, and when they pulled one of her forearms up sharply, she cried out in surprise. The motion of her jaw ignited a fresh searing in her cheek. They didn't give her a chance to acclimate to the pain before Fausto was bashing her face in; blow after blow, left, right, left, right. In the back of her mind, she allowed a small amount of concern for her slowing heartrate. When the pummelling ceased, she wasn't sure which part of her hurt the most. There was a startling pain in her cheekbone, an intense throbbing behind her eyes, and a violent, almost nauseating, smarting in her neck.
She opened her eyes for an instant but couldn't tolerate the brightness. On the outskirts of her cognizance, which was growing dimmer and dimmer every moment, a voice rang clear. Remembrance surged forth, shattering the daze that had settled behind her eyes. It was an hallucination, she told herself, desperate to reel herself back into reality. It would be so easy to lose herself in the hallucinations; the quiet snowfall that hung, suspended, in the air around her, the resounding safety of his voice.
He'd come. She wasn't sure how, or why, or what strange twist of fate it was that brought him there, but there he was. The miasma that she had been combating was dissipating; languidly, but progress was progress. He'd come, to carry her home, to toss her one more last chance. She was certain of it.
Impossible, but so close, so promising; a flicker of hope coming to life. It wouldn't take much for her to shut her eyes and let him get her out of this mess. Let him handle the brutes while she gave in to the sleepiness that filled her very bones.
"You're going to step away from her," he said, his words a heavy growl. "I'm not going to suggest it twice." The threat was clear, nearly palpable, and it filled her lungs in slow, uneven waves. There was something foul in the thickening air, even through the drowsy haze she could taste it.
"Vai a casa, ragazzo, questo non è la sua preoccupazione." Her eyes half opened and she watched, powerless to move her own tongue to warn him, as, beside her, Salvatore drew his pistol. Despite her efforts to simply to vibrate her vocal chords, her attempts were soundless. She wasn't even sure she was doing it correctly. She couldn't see him, but she knew he was there; looming and menacing, about to be shot trying to save her.
Whatever resiliance was left inside of her crumbled; all of her will, her determination, disintigrated beneath the unliftable weight of the inevitable. Everything felt so much worse than it had mere moments prior. She was going to die, she'd already acknowledged that and the truth of it didn't bother her as much as one might expect. She'd come close already, been pulled back from the brink. The concept no longer frightened her; she'd faced death and had come out of it still alive. But for two and a half minutes, she was dead. Death was death, and it was no longer entirely foreign to her. At the end of the day, she wasn't sure it had been worth coming back. If she had it to do over again, she wasn't sure she would. Now she wasn't alone. He would die alongside her, their reconciliation hanging in the air like so many unspoken apologies and confessions; a bitter satire of what she'd always expected. And it would all be for nothing. She couldn't even speak his name.
Then, everything changed.
The gun levelled, she watched, horrorstricken, as the trigger was pulled. As if in slow motion, she could see the bullet leave the barrel. She watched the recoil quiver up Salvatore's arm. Movement to her right pulled her attention away.
The sight before him was astounding; even seeing it with his own eyes, he couldn't fathom the odds of the reality he'd stumbled into. He was bewildered, as if he were lost in the brume of a waking dream. A surreal numbness filled him, temporarily calming the storm that had already begun brewing in the back of his head. Ancient instincts burst into the forefront of his thoughts; urges he couldn't resist, a bloodlust he wasn't sure he could tame. His careful control began unravelling, indescernably at first, but faster and more intractable with each second he continued to watch.
Whatever she was doing in a back alley in Italy, he didn't know. He had his suspicions over what the thugs wanted from her, but none of them mattered. It thrilled him, as it always did, to allow his fury to crash through him, molten and glorious. It reminded him of sky diving; of free-falling backward into nothing but air and letting himself plummet. There was no other freedom quite like it.
The twitch of Salvatore's hand gave him away and Pilot knew his intentions long before the man even reached for his weapon. He took a leisurely drag on his smoke.
It took Pilot a second and a half to criss cross his arms and pull out two of his Sure Balance throwing knives from their shealths on his forearms. He bit down on the butt of his cigarette, ducked and rolled, cutting the distance between him and the men from ten yards to seven, to dodge the bullet with the ease and grace of years of practice, and threw the knives. He had been throwing knives so long it hardly took any concentration; the blades moved as extensions of his hands, and when they left his fingers, he knew precisely where they would land.
Their hilts protruded, bordering on comically, from the throat of his assailant and the man crumpled instantly, Salvatore's hands wildly attempting to grasp at the wounds.
He was closer now and, rising to his feet, he crossed what little distance remained. The cigarette dangled from between his lips, pinched and short, still burning He stood nearly a head taller than the second gorilla, Fausto, the one hovering over Eden's incapacitated form, and at least three inches taller than the one they'd addressed as Acilio. They hadn't been particularly cautious with their chatter.
Acilio sneered at him, arrogant and stupid, "Che cosa significa questa materia cagna a voi per?"
"Lei è mia," he snarled, letting all the pretense fall to the wayside. His anger teetered dangerously on the brink of rage. He didn't hold in the gloom, he stopped restraining it. His eyes changed, became Stygian and depthless. The power filled him effortlessly once he stopped fighting it.
Beneath the glaring sun, he became shadowed and indistinct; part of both the light and dark simultaneously. Tendrils of smoke drifted up around his face, curling and climbing, broken up only by the puffs escaping his nostrils. The dogtags around his neck glinted in the sunlight.
He didn't wait for a response; instead, he swung his fist violently, his knuckles connecting with the side of the remaining goon's nose. The crunch of cartilidge he felt wasn't satisfying enough. He swung again, this time with his left arm, coming upward into the man's ribcage. The force behind his blows astounded even him. Fausto's torso caved around his fist as if he were being pummelled with a metro cab. He took a celebratory drag on his cigarette.
The first inklings of satisfaction began creeping into his thoughts, like the first taste of a favorite beer. Just enough to really get him interested; just enough to wake the beast.
Acilio's arm wrapped around his neck and pulled him away from the man. Pilot laughed, brittle and edgy, dangerous. Manic. His cigarette fell from between his lips and hit the stones beneath his feet. Through his cackling, he said, "That was your final mistake, Acilio." The arm around his neck tightened. He could feel his windpipe compressing, and he instinctively held his breath.
Synchronously, he kicked out Acilio's knee and hooked his hands under his opponent's arms. A low roar of effort escaped his throat as Pilot heaved Acilio up and over his own head.
Acilio flew through the air, landing with a loud thunk on the stones, directly between Fausto and Pilot.
Stepping over Acilio, he turned to pivot on one foot, slamming his heel into Fausto's temple. Fausto went down soundlessly and Pilot turned his attention back to Acilio, who was trying to scramble out of reach, his breath coming in hard pants. Pilot cracked a wicked, leering smirk at him and paused, keeping a slight distance between them.
"Pensi che una donna insignificante vale la pena di tutta questa morte?" He was desperate, Pilot could hear it in the thick stuttering accent.
He took one of his twin Glocks out of it's holster under his arm, flicked off the safety, and placed Acilio's forehead in his sights. "Non ci dovrebbe essere la vergogna di essere battuto da un uomo migliore, Acilio, ma nel tuo caso, spero che il tuo Dio perdona tale inadeguatezza flagrante," he said before pulling the trigger. The round hit its mark and Acilio's skull exploded, blood and a sick grayish-pink matter splattering against the surrounding walls as fragments of bone rained down around the lifeless body.
He holstered his gun, crushed the still burning cigarette, and crouched down to lean over Eden. Her face was a mess; blood and mucus drained from her nose, her lips were split open, she had deep scratches and a long wound on the left side of her face. Her nose was distorted and he was pretty sure she'd spit up two of her teeth onto the ground beside her. Her breathing was irregular and he wondered how many broken ribs she had. Her right forearm was cocked at a sickening angle. He checked her pulse, low and delayed, and felt panic rising up in his chest.
Even though she stared up at him, the aurous glow was glazed over and hollow. She was heavily drugged. He pocketed her loose teeth and gingerly lifted her from the ground.
Mostra la facciamo sul serio. - Show her we are serious.
Vai a casa, ragazzo, questo non è la sua preoccupazione. - Go home, boy, this is not your concern.
Che cosa significa questa materia cagna a voi per? - What does this bitch matter to you for?
Lei è mia. - She's mine.
Pensi che una donna insignificante vale la pena di tutta questa morte? - Do you think this insignificant woman is worth all this death?
Non ci dovrebbe essere la vergogna di essere battuto da un uomo migliore, Acilio, ma nel tuo caso, spero che il tuo Dio perdona tale inadeguatezza flagrante. - There should be no shame in being bested by a better man, Acilio, but in your case, I hope your God forgives such flagrant inadequacy.