Chapter Five – Hide and Seek

"She tried to stab you?!" Erica exclaimed in pure shock. The lens that she had been polishing just seconds ago now lay forgotten on the desk. It was a miracle she hadn't dropped it. "Are you being serious?"

Nathan nodded mutely, not quite sure how to respond with words. The entire incident had been a bit of a shock for Nathan and, even now, the afternoon after it had occurred, he was struggling to process what had happened. Even Kieran had been shocked into silence.

"I think she may have been in a gang," Nathan eventually confessed, his voice quiet. "I mean, after everything, I saw her running towards the abandoned warehouses on the edge of town and she had this weird tattoo on her shoulder."

"Tattoo?" Erica echoed, prompting for more details.

Nathan nodded again.

"It was this angular spiral design," he said. "Pretty distinctive, you know?"

Erica nodded, processing this information. Her father was a Chief Inspector in the police and, if anything, she had grown up briefed on the different identifying tattoos of different groups. She had never heard of one with a spiral, though…

Something flicked in the edge of her mind. Kieran was being awfully quiet…

"Kieran," she said, turning to face him, "are you OK?"

As if a trance had been broken, Kieran's head snapped up. His brown eyes were burning with a dull fire – at least, that was how it seemed to Erica – but a second later, the image faded.

"I'm fine," Kieran said, his voice sounding strained. "It's just a bit of a shock," he admitted.

Erica looked disbelievingly at Kieran, showing him that she really didn't believe that was all, but soon turned away and back to Nathan.

"I'm just glad you're not hurt," she said. "Did you call the police?"

Nathan squirmed uncomfortably under her gaze. Erica knew just then that she wasn't going to like the answer.

"No," he gave up reluctantly.

Erica took a deep breath in preparation for her rant, but was cut off by Nathan.

"She just seemed so upset when she couldn't stab me," Nathan explained hurriedly. "She started crying and everything and…" Nathan drifted off, not sure if he needed to say more. "She just looked so… so…" Nathan searched for the right word.

"Afraid?" Kieran filled in softly.

Nathan nodded.

Erica snorted in an unladylike manner. When both Nathan and Kieran gave her identical looks, she stared at them incredulously.

"She tried to kill you!" she exclaimed as if it explained everything. To her, it did. "You're not going to ask me to keep this from my father, are you?"

"Is that alright?" Nathan asked, flinching when Erica glared at him.

"No, it isn't alright," she said, anger penetrating her tone. She calmed down before continuing. "I'll do it, though, because you asked me, Nathan."

"Thanks," he said, not really sure why he was so intent on keeping this secret.

"To me, though," Erica said, "and I hope you understand this, Nathan, her attempt on your life is a very clear message. You should stay away from her."

Yes, to Erica, the fact that Iris had tried to kill her best friend told her everything she needed to know about Alden's character. To Nathan Book, however, it only created more questions.

Iris threw her dagger across the warehouse floor in blind frustration. Her brown hair looked wild, as if she hadn't slept, and her face was slightly gaunt, speaking of a lack of sleep.

"I couldn't kill him," she ground out. "I was there, we were alone, I had my dagger above my head, so why couldn't I fucking kill him?!"

Iris whirled around in fury, daring anything – anything – to show itself and face her wrath.

"Cassiel!" she shouted to the empty warehouse. "I know you're here! Come out already!" Nothing happened. Iris became angrier. "What? Are you out of philosophical speeches already? Show yourself, you bastard!"

"Look, Iris, I know you're upset," Cassiel began, appearing barely three feet in front of her.

"Upset?" Iris choked out. "Upset?" She laughed bitterly. "Try pissed off to the seventh ring of hell, Cassiel."

"I know, Iris," Cassiel said, his tone laced with understanding. "But—"

"But what, Cassiel?" Iris interrupted. "But it isn't the solution? I'll tell you what the solution was, Cassiel, and I passed it up the moment I couldn't kill Nathan!"

Cassiel winced. The only other one of her targets that she had called by their name was Jane … and that hadn't ended well… It was time to change tactics.

"Who are you angry at, Iris?" Cassiel asked calmly, settling himself down on the floor in front of her.

"Everyone!" she screamed back in reply. She took several deep, ragged breaths, trying to calm herself down. "I'm angry at Nathan because I couldn't kill him! I'm angry at the gods because They made me have to kill him." Iris paused before continuing in a smaller voice, her anger dissipating. "I'm angry at you because you're one of them…"

That admission should have made Cassiel flinch, but he accepted it in his stride. He merely shuffled closer to Iris and put his arms around her as she broke down into sobs that racked her chest.

"I'm angry at myself because – because I couldn't kill Nathan," she admitted, tears streaming down from her eyes. "But I'm mostly angry because I chose this path for myself and I hate it to the core…"

Cassiel stroked Iris's hair, an action he used to do when she was younger after a nightmare. Soothing phrases he hadn't used in years came to his lips and he whispered them into her ear. So, he realised. It had finally happened. Iris had, after years of not stopping, not looking back, taken a moment to stare at her surroundings. She'd stopped to experience the emotions she'd killed for… And it had finally broken her.

"I'm so scared, Cassiel," Iris admitted softly. "I'm so scared because I have no idea what will happen to me…"

"Shh..." Cassiel soothed her. "Everything will be al—"

Suddenly, Cassiel broke off from his speech. He looked around. "Shit."

Iris's head snapped up, her tears already clearing from her face as she forced herself into an alert mode.

"What is it?" she asked, pushing away from Cassiel slightly so that she could look at his face as she spoke.

"Someone's searching for us."

Iris's eyes bulged out, first in shock, then in panic.

"Is that even possible?" she asked.

Cassiel nodded absent-mindedly.

"I haven't fully grown into my powers, yet, Iris," he explained, his eyes staring at some unseen spot on the wall. "It's possible."

Iris pushed herself away from Cassiel fully this time, already in action mode. She retrieved her dagger without a second thought and began checking the various weapons on her person. Cassiel was still staring at the wall, thinking out loud.

"It's not a god… or a mortal…" he murmured. Suddenly, his eyes widened. "Shit! It's a Thread Cutter!"

Those words caused Iris's blood to chill. A Thread Cutter. They were out of their depth already just from that realisation. Without thinking about it, Iris's hand twitched as it found its home on the hilt of her dagger. They couldn't afford to take chances with this one.

Cassiel's panicked voice was what caused Iris to jolt into movement. "He's found us!"

"Hide," Iris hissed without feeling. Footsteps could be heard approaching their warehouse.

Cassiel's figure faded into the darkness without another word from him and Iris was left seemingly alone. The footsteps got louder in the silence.

A shadow fell past, spilling into the light from the moon, outlining their hunter's silhouette in an earie darkness. Footsteps sounded.

The figure moved into the light and Iris stared the new arrival in the face.

"Hello Iris."

© Copyright 2013 Mari Thomas. All Rights Reserved.