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19. Exiled – Click. Bang.

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19 chap

It was gone. The Dragon burned down to nothing more than a frame of ash. Eventually, that too would collapse. And there would be nothing but the memory. Nothing else would remain. The dust and ash would blow away into the wind and be lost from us. Just the memory – preserved in the minds of those who were there.

The Trio.

We would remember because we’d seen it. We would always know, until the end of time, that we had been the Dragon’s downfall. Nobody else was there. Nobody else had seen the truth. Only from our lips could flow honesty. And it would never happen. We didn’t know the meaning of the word “truth” and it wasn’t humanly possible for us to live through honesty. We were liars, cheats, thieves…we were demons.

Angyl had gone. Maven took off. I started home, thinking things over. The question that we were all stuck on was what to do next. I wasn’t entirely sure. I figured I’d go home, sleep it off, and attack things the next day. Start new.

The only thing that kept going through my mind was Angyl. She was something else. She was a force of nature and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t get her out of my head. She had singlehandedly destroyed our history. She had accomplished something in a matter of days that I could never do. I could never have done something of that caliber…ever. She was a girl. She was older. Theoretically wiser. The bottom line remained – she was better. She was better than I could ever be. She beat me at my own game. I prided myself on running the streets, on having complete control. In the end, she had more control than I ever had.

I debated calling Irish over. She was a great comfort, but it had been a long night. We’d have a lot of talking to do. I decided to save that for tomorrow. Right now, my mind was on overload. I wanted nothing more than to just sleep.

The streets seemed emptier, or maybe they were just darker. I had no idea what time it was. Sometime in the morning I’d assume, or late night. I felt like I’d been awake for years. I got to my place after an eternity’s walk, trudging up the steps. I had to go up a few flights to get to mine. I could feel the dirt and ash on my skin; the smell filled my lungs. I put the key in the lock and pushed the door open, my eyes to the ground. Sleep never seemed so welcoming.

Everything was where it should have been. I listened to the quiet tick of clocks in the place, the sound that never ended and would drive me crazy at night. I shrugged and moved off to the bedroom, sliding my jacket off to throw it on a chair. Something stirred and I pulled my gun from the back of my pants, where it’d been tucked into the waistband. Wheeling around, I found I had my gun leveled at Angyl.

“Can I help you?” I demanded.

“I’m glad you don’t shoot first and ask questions later,” she replied simply.

“What are you doing here?” I tried to calm down, but her presence didn’t make sense. It just didn’t sit well with me.

“I just dropped in to talk to you…and you weren’t here, so I figured I’d just let myself in.”

Hearing that she had no particular purpose, I decided to ease up, putting the gun down on the dresser, emptying out my pockets as I spoke:

“What’s so important that you had to “drop” in?”

“We have debts to settle. You still owe me something.”

This made absolutely no sense. I turned around again, walking a few steps while we spoke. I was pacing involuntarily. I needed to keep moving to keep my mind working. If I sat still, if I stopped, I’d lose focus. I was falling asleep standing up, and now was not the time to doze off.

“What are you talking about? I did everything you asked.”

 

“I set this whole thing up. I know you didn’t get Harley’s story.”

She knew the truth. I tried to play it cool, I would have to. To make this work, to get away with my screw up, I would have to pretend like I had no idea what she was talking about. She had me figured out. She knew the truth. But I couldn’t let her win. I was bigger, I was better. This was my home. This was my safe haven. She was in restricted territory as it was. I came up with the best defense I could –

“It burned, I did just as you asked, I kept up my end.”

“This is Harley we’re talking about. She doesn’t like you, and for that matter, she doesn’t like anyone. She’s been through this all already and she’s not going to give some punk street demon her story. And you might be really good at what you do, but I don’t quite think you’re talented enough to steal it from her. I knew you weren’t going to get her story.”

This conversation was going in circles. But it was going in circles around me. We’d switched places in the room – I stood near the bed while she stood near the dresser I had started at. The door was out of reach. And besides, what kind of reputation would I have if I ran now? I couldn’t be beaten by a girl. By a stranger. Who the hell did she think she was anyway? No. I couldn’t let it come to this.

“So you go through all this trouble, break into my apartment, just to kill me? Aw, I’m flattered,” I replied to her, mockingly. I felt the false smile spread across my lips, as I strained to make it look more…accurate. I tried to mimic her familiar gestures of confidence.

“Yeah babe, I kind of thought you would be.”

I laughed. I was losing my calm, but I had to make it look like I knew what I was doing. I looked her dead in the eye, trying to stare her down before saying: “I’m every bad name you could think of, and then some. But nobody ever saw me coming.”

I looked around the room, scanning the top of the dresser – the gun was missing. I had left it there when I emptied my pockets. I tried to run the conversation back in my mind, thinking, desperate to figure out what happened, where it had gone. I came up empty. I looked around the room in a bored type of way, trying to intimidate her. I wanted her to see that I wasn’t amused. I wasn’t impressed. I had other weapons stashed, but for the life of me, I couldn’t think of where I’d put them. Of all times, of all days…this couldn’t be real. A girl, a fucking female…my downfall. No. It wouldn’t happen, it couldn’t. I returned my sight to her.

“Actually, I believe it’s – I’m every bad name you could come up with, and then some. But nobody ever saw me coming. And I’m the best you’ve ever seen. And darling, I saw you coming a mile off. Sorry to break it to you.”

I took this cue to make a dash for the bed. There would have been a gun under the pillow. I keep it there for safety reasons, it was just…convenient. It had been a wise decision that had worked out for the better in more ways than one over time. I had barely gone to motion for it when the pain tore through my stomach and I hit the ground with the all-too-familiar thud.

Click. Bang.

“You fucking bitch,” I muttered.

“Rev, do you really think I would let you miss out on this? That I’d just let you die? This is pain you’ll never get to feel again. This is being able to feel the difference between living and dying. You’ll know what it’s like to slowly die. To watch your own life end. I would never let you miss out on something as memorable as this.”

 

“I’ll save you a seat, Angyl,” I swore. This was the end – this was my downfall. I was going to just lie here and bleed out. She wouldn’t end it quickly; she couldn’t do me that simple favor. I could expect no mercy. Part of me knew better, but it was worth trying. Getting help was out of the question, but I’d make an effort in attempting to stop the wheel from turning again.

“Revere, darling, how does it feel to be endless? Please, give Toryn my regards.”

And she stepped out of the room. I looked past her, watching the shadow disappear, hearing the steps die. Digging through my pockets, I found my cell phone. I hit as few keys as was necessary to get the phone to ring Maven. I prayed desperately that she’d be home, that she’d trust me – that she’d listen.

She picked up and I told her not to talk. I told her to listen. I told her to run. I told her to trust me. I told her that Angyl was the enemy. I told her that I was sorry. I told her that I loved her and no matter what, I’d be there for her. I told her that we were in this together. I told her I was sorry until the words hurt in my throat. I kept telling her the same things, over and over, as the steps came back into the room. As I felt the shadow looming over me. As I considered, for a moment, how it felt to be on the receiving end.

The last thing I ever heard, the note that I died on, echoing in my ears with the sound of the shot, right after I had nearly finished repeating my warnings for the third time, was a solitary word that Angyl said to me. Maven was still holding.

“Break the cycle. To the last, kid,” I whispered.

“Smile.”

Bang.

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