Alex had planned on pulling the same maneuver he had previously by going around the hover to take down their escape route, but the attackers had spread wider this time, and he had to fight his way through them. Not difficult, but the cuts and burns reminded him the main reason as to why he should wear more than his makeshift shorts and knife harness.
When he made it to the hover, he was surprised to find it empty. The fighting was still going on so he went through its content, dumping the spare guns, med packs and rations out. Then he coerced his way through the hover’s security and looked for any indication of who had sent them, but still nothing.
He heard cheering. The fighting was over. Checking Jacoby was heading toward him, a body over his shoulder.
He dumped her in the hover. “If you want the bodies removed, it’s going to be the two of us. They’re all in the process of throwing a party.” Alex studied the man, he didn’t look happy. Maybe he hadn’t gotten enough kills, or was angry that they others wouldn’t help with the cleanup.
Alex shrugged. “I don’t know if it’s worth it anymore. Another hover that crashes? I’m outside the average already. And they’ve increased the size of the attacks each time. I don’t think they bought it the first time.”
“Does that mean I can keep this one? I could use spare parts.”
Alex shrugged again. “Sure, but hide it beyond the tree line. And make sure any trackers are removed. I’ve disconnected it from the network, but I won’t be surprised they added extra ways of keeping track of it.”
“We can do that before I move it.”
Alex patted Jacoby’s shoulder as he stepped out of the hover. “You can do that yourself. I’m going to join the party.”
“So, if I go to our hover, you’re going to just leave this thing here for the corporations to find and hurry to send another team?”
Alex grinned. “If I even thought you’d be interested in the party, I’d send this thing to fly into space and lose itself there. But you’re not coming. You hate those things. You want nothing to do with the locals past teaching them how to shoot.” He turned and continued walking, just making out the grumbled “Fuck you,” Jacoby said.
Music came as Alex entered the town. Conversation, he made out enough of the language to understand they were retelling the fight. He froze when he heard Tristan’s name, then hurried to the edge of the town square. If Tristan was here, things were about to turn bad.
He was easy to find. Still among the moving people, watching. Someone placed a hand on Tristan’s shoulder and Alex got ready to run, only to stop when the Samalian didn’t react. He didn’t lash out. He didn’t strike. He didn’t do anything. Someone handed him a mug. Tristan sniffed it, then downed the content.
Alex didn’t know what to think. Was this an improvement? He wasn’t killing anyone, or screaming, or crying. He seemed to be in control of himself. He took a step in his direction, then stopped. Anytime they interacted, things turned bad. If he wasn’t better, and they started arguing here, someone would get hurt, and it wouldn’t be Alex, he knew.
He walked back between the buildings. Out of view of the celebration and leaned against a wall. He could go help Jacoby, but there was a chance Tristan would lose control. Recently the one thing The Samalian had been around crowds was unpredictable. The others didn’t seem to mind a fight with him, but Alex was sure if there was a death because of Tristan, they wouldn’t be all that happy about it.
So he closed his eyes and enjoyed the music, waiting to hear panic, screams terror.
When he heard the steps approaching he expected a couple, looking for an out of sight place to enjoy each other’s company, but it was Rig’Irik, walking toward him.
“It was a good fight,” he said.
“Yeah, it was.”
“I like good fights.”
“That’s pretty evident.”
Rig’Irik canted his head, but Alex didn’t elaborate.
The Samalian stepped closer. “I am strong, Alex.”
Alex sighed. Not that again. “Rig’Irik, I told you. I’m not interested.”
The Samalian leaned in and took a deep breath. “I can smell your desire. Why do you say no?”
Alex rubbed his face. “Because It’s not you—” There was someone behind Rig’Irik. “Tristan, don’t!”
Rig’Irik went flying back and Tristan was in Alex’s space. “What do you think you’re doing?” he growled. “You’re mine! Not his! You want me! Not him!”
“Tristan, calm down.” He could smell the alcohol on his breath. How many mugs had he had? He’d seen the Samalian drink a lot and not react, but those had been human drinks. How potent was Samalian alcohol? “I’m not going to do anything with him.”
A growl came from behind Tristan. “Rig’Irik,” Alex sighed. “Don’t.” But it was too late, he’d rushed in, and Tristan had struck him again. Only this time He wasn’t content to let him fall back. Tristan followed him and when Rig’Irik stood they attacked each other.
Alex had an instant to admire the way Tristan moved, the precision with which he was cutting the other Samalians’ chest, then realization set it. He was going to kill him.
“Tristan, No!” Alex grabbed his arm, and Tristan spun. Alex felt the pain in his chest, then he flew back and hit the wall. He touched his chest and his finger came away with blood. He had three bloody lines across his chest. Tristan had hit him.
He looked up, hope filling him, to vanish as he saw the horror in Tristan’s eyes. His mouth worked, but no sound came. He hadn’t realized who he’d struck. In the heat of the beating he was inflicting, Alex had just been another opponent to remove.
“Alex,” Tristan’s voice broke as he took a step back. “I—” he backed again, then turned and fled.
Alex’s heart broke again. Tristan was running away. Tristan, was running scared. He wasn’t better. Far from it.
“Are you well?” Rig’Irik asked.
“I’m fine,” Alex replied dismissively, although the way his breath caught at the pain might not make him sound like he was. Nothing felt broken, but he would have a bruise along with the new scars to remind him of how strong Tristan was.
A blond furred finger carefully pressed around the cuts. Alex didn’t react to the pain.
Rig’Irik looked at him. “I would never hurt you this way.”
Alex slapped the hand away. “What?”
“I respect your strength. I—”
Alex pushed him away, hard. “I’m with him! Can’t you get that?”
“He doesn’t respect you.”
“What the fuck does respect have to do with anything? He made me. He’s the man I love.”
Rig’Irik shook his head. “He doesn’t care for you.” He reached for Alex’s face. “I would.”
Alex slapped the hand away. “Do I fucking look like I need to be cared for? Would I love a killer if what I wanted was someone to care and cuddle me?” He walked past the Samalian.
“Alex.” Rig’Irik grabbed Alex’s arm and in the next instant he was on his back, Alex’s hand pressing on the Samalian’s throat. Alex was impressed at his restraint, he hadn’t even considered reaching for a knife.
“Don’t touch me. Go find yourself another guy to fuck.” Alex released him and walked away. He wanted to run, but he wasn’t angry enough to overcome the pain in his chest. The hover was gone, which was good. He trusted Jacoby to have found anything hidden. He’d even put the stuff Alex had taken off back in the hover and taken that with him.
He stepped around the House and found Tristan sitting on the ground, knees to his chest and head resting on them. “Go away,” he said weakly.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Alex was surprised at the amount of disgust in his voice.
Tristan chuckled, then he laughed.
Alex watched him, unsure what this was. It wasn’t the hysterics that had assaulted Tristan when he was drugged, this sounded genuine.
“What is wrong with me?” The anger came through the laughter. Tristan stood. “You want to know what is fucking wrong with me?” He wasn’t laughing anymore. “You! That’s what’s wrong with me! Ever since you shoved your way into my life, things have been going wrong. Why the fuck couldn’t you leave when I told you to!”
“Why didn’t you kill me?” Alex wasn’t afraid. As Angry as Tristan might get, he wouldn’t hit him. He couldn’t hit him.
“I don’t know! You think I haven’t thought about it? You think I don’t regret not killing you that first time? If I’d done that I wouldn’t be in this state. I’d be in my workshop, working! Why the fuck can’t you leave?”
“Fine.” Alex turned and began walking away.
“Alex, don’t!” The fear in Tristan’s voice stopped him and he had to force the anger down before he turned.
“I’m not leaving. I’m never going to leave you. When you finish that wall, when you’re yourself again, you can get rid of me, but I am not leaving.” He turned and headed for the hover, closing his eyes when Tristan screamed.