"All you have to do is tell me where he is. Just one word, Yawnadi. Is that so hard?"

Kent glared at the battered and bloody form on the floor, a bit tired, a bit hurt, and with a lot of frustration. They'd been here for hours and he still hadn't gotten anything out of her. No matter how many years passed, he could never get anything out of her. A secret. A strong reaction. They're always out of his reach. He was looking at his frenemy while trying to pretend there wasn't any discolorations on her. It was getting harder and harder to keep hitting her. Even if she didn't show any sign of pain, it had to hurt. He just... didn't *cough* like *cough* seeing her blood or bruises on her skin. Maybe he was getting soft. Why didn't she spit it out already? How the hell did it come to this?

Yawnadi sat up slowly. She was bound, ropes encaging her wrists and ankles. There wasn't a hint of terror in her eyes, her face. Hell, she even stared right at her captor's angry eyes. That didn't make him feel any less guilty. It was eating away at him. A sort of complicated agony was plaguing him, driving him crazy. And he was pissed off. She was the only one who could anger him so much. Unable to meet her eyes, he kicked her down again and sat on her.

"Why don't we raise the stakes a little?" He lined a knife to Yawnadi's throat, nearly piercing her skin. Her expression never changed. She didn't even freaking blink. She could feel his hand shake slightly, the split second hesitation in his eyes, his fury, his desire to want to believe she was innocent. She nearly smiled, despite the circumstances and the pain running through her body. Her friend certainly was a strange one. Kent wanted to trust his gut instinct. He really wanted to. However, the odds were against her. There was a load of incriminating evidence pointing fingers right at her. The package was supposed to arrive at the hotel, a hotel she checked in at, in the afternoon, but it was stolen. Reports said it was a man with dark skin and amber eyes. The subordinate the thief knocked out said it was Michael Lems. The description certainly matched the man. However, no one on Kent's side had seen him for months. Someone had to know where the bastard was hiding. Someone like Lems's partner. Someone who most likely helped him. Someone who was in his hands right now. A woman who knew no fear. The most stubborn woman he knew. An enchantress whose undulating grace and beauty had captured his attention time after time, after time. A woman who didn't know how to sugarcoat to save her life. Bluntly honest, no matter whom she was speaking to. Despite being a person of few words, she certainly wasn't afraid to speak her mind when she wanted to.

Damn. She was simultaneously frustrating and intriguing. It was difficult to sort out whether he wanted to kill her or love her. Her vague, clean scent like a fresh breeze mixed with a bit of sweetness. Shampoo and something else entirely. Something indescribable. And so sweet. So her. Her scent was unlike her brusque and cold personality. Her mild stare that never wavered. Her soft, low voice that was so rarely used but when is gives out meaningful words and useful information. Information that she was currently withholding. He thought he was used to all of these things, to her. But, each time he saw her, even after years of meeting her, talking to her, it was like a sudden and violent punch to the stomach. It was nearly impossible to breathe. All he could do was stare at her. Until she spoke or, in most cases, tapped his shoulder or tugged his sleeve, breaking the haze he was trapped in. He'd been completely bewitched by this beautiful creature. This funny and witty creature. Who's so ridiculously kind to him, in her own way. He didn't know how many "hits" he could take from her. So he ran. Like a fucking coward. He ran and left his bleeding heart behind. He was scared. Terrified. Completely scared shitless. He was falling hard for someone who didn't like him back. Someone who could reject him none too kindly. Someone who would unintentionally crush his heart and toss it back to him, broken beyond repair. He cut all ties with her. It'd been three and a half years since they'd seen each other. And now look at the shit they were in. The years hadn't changed the effect Yawnadi had on him. Even now, he found it difficult to keep hitting her, watching her skin darkening, purpling. And sometimes catch that fleeting flash of pain in her eyes. Even if she didn't reciprocate his feelings, weren't they at the very least friends? Dammit, dammit, dammit. However, he had to. It was his duty. He had to find out the fucking retard who stole from his family and punish the bastard. He had to.

She met his eyes, staring at the rage, the accusation in his eyes. He looked almost... betrayed. And that, for some strange reason, for some unknown reason, it discomfited her. It prompted her to speak. Strange. That usually didn't happen. Maybe it was because he was one of her few friends. Her mouth opened slightly, murmuring her first words since her capture, her voice a bit hoarse from disuse. "Don't believe me? Then you should kill me... here and now."

He slapped her, turning her relentless gaze away from him. Her piercing eyes seemed to see through him. They seemed to be able peer into his very soul. They always did. For some reason, she has always had a certain quirk. She could tell out his mood, his emotions, his thoughts. No matter how hard he tried to cover up, she could see through anything. But he couldn't do the same. Don't look at me. Those eyes, dammit... he couldn't have those eyes stare at him as he hurt her. Why? Why was she willing to go so far for that bastard? Yawnadi was the most intelligent person he knows, so why? Why didn't she do anything? She didn't even fight back or try to escape, letting Michael's trail grew colder by the minute. Fuck you, Yawnadi. Fuck you. Don't tell me that.

I just might really kill you.

-x-

"...dump the body."

"She's still alive, boss," Den said. But just barely. Just barely. Yawnadi was a pretty little thing. Kinda nice, too. In her own way. She was like a quiet, adorable little sister to him. Den regretted not saving her, not coming in time to help her. Well, what was done was done. The only thing he could do now was take her to a hospital. If she didn't die by then. He hoped to hell that she didn't. All of this would be done without the boss's knowledge, of course. Yawnadi was unconscious and barely breathing. The oxygen flowing in and out of her making the slightest movement in her chest, almost not rising it at all. She was pale as hell and looked like shit. Kent didn't dare look at her. He couldn't. Kent was an idiot.

"I said dump the fucking body!"

"Yes, sir." Holding in his anger, Den went out the room while Kent's best friend and right hand man, Alfred, came in. Alfred has always been with him since they were kids. They'd always liked the same things. Hell, they'd even fallen for the same woman. Although, Alfred met Yawnadi first and was the one who introduced them all those years ago.

"Kent..." He started a bit anxiously, hoping it wasn't what he thought it was. Even though it was extremely obvious. "That wasn't Yawnadi, was it?"

That sentence alone was enough for Kent to know what condition Yawnadi was in. If she wasn't dead by now, she was dying. Kent didn't move. He just kept staring out the window, seeing nothing but memories. Memories that hurt yet filled him with so much happiness, nostalgia. Memories he was trying to erase, crush, destroy. Just like he did to the person in his memories. Pain seized his chest, stabbing it over and over again. Ripping it apart. Murdering his heart. The urge to cry, to sob like a fucking child, nearly overwhelmed him. His voice was hard and bitterly cold. "And what if it was."

"Why would you mess her up like that?" Alfred's tone was cautious, careful not to provoke his friend. He knew how sensitive Kent was, despite his poker face.

"She wouldn't spit out Lems's whereabouts."

"How the hell do you expect her to do that?!" Alfred grabbed Kent's collar, jerking Kent to face him. A first. Alfred never got angry with Kent before. His voice changed, turning loud, angry. Another first. "She cut all ties with Lems ages ago."

Kent lost his uncaring front, shock overtaking his features. The agony in his chest increasing, increasing, flooding him, driving him crazy. He hardly managed to say one word. "What?"

"If you weren't such a coward and shied away from anything even remotely related to her, you would've known that she hasn't seen the bastard in years!"

His knees gave out.

He gripped Alfred's shoulders, but that didn't work. He was sinking to the floor. Something in him broke. Images, memories of Yawnadi, the bruises, the open wounds, the blood, flashed before his eyes, playing over and over again, each another alternately freezing and burning knife in his chest. Then, something from further back. The small, rare, almost shy smile that he surely lost. The multiple shards of guilt , regret, and deep, utter self-loathing pierced his chest, sinking deeper, clawing their way into his heart. Each discoloration, each mark on Yawnadi's skin drove the shards ever deeper. He couldn't stop shaking. His hands tightened unbearably on his friend, cutting off the circulation in Alfred's shoulders. Alfred didn't complain, letting his friend sort himself out. Kent hated himself. The webs of repent and regret wrapped around him tighter, ensnaring him in an inescapable mess.

Then, he ran.

He ran as freaking fast as his legs could launch him, his heart pounding wildly in his ears. He had to get to her. He had to save her. That was the only thing that kept him going, from completely breaking down. He kept repeating it in his head as if his life depended on it. Don't die! Don't you dare fucking die on me, Yawnadi! Liquid seared his eyes. Fury and desperation ran through his veins, warring a hectic battle in an already hectic body. He caught up to Den, jumped in the car, and something remotely like relief crossed his mind. Until he noticed the condition she was in. His heart stopped. "Hospital! Drive to the hospital! Now!" Then, he forgot about Den. Kent pulled her to him—fuck, she was so pale—and shook her, panicking when she didn't respond, desperation building up higher and higher. He'd never known fear, absolute and overwhelming terror, until he met her. He'd never known love until he met her. Ages seemed to pass by. At a crawl. An agonizingly slow crawl. He was terrified. Completely and utterly. He was scared to his very core. Sweat beaded up on his forehead. His throat felt strangled. He couldn't breathe. His insides were going haywire. The pain. The fucking pain. He thought he was going to cry soon until her eyes opened drowsily. Just barely making out a familiar figure. She was confused. But she pieced it together in seconds. She was used to pain, so it didn't really hinder her thought process that much.

Then, he blew a fuse.

"WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?! Why didn't you say anything?!" He screamed, each word punctuated with a violent shake.

"...only asked for his location."

"You could have told me you didn't know!" The rage in his eyes turned cold, his hands forming claws. The fury turned him into a monster. "Do you want to die so badly?" What the hell was he saying? His hands went around her throat, squeezing. He couldn't stop. He didn't want this. What was he doing?! He pushed her against a wall, still strangling her, subconsciously trying to make her feel like he felt. Hurt like he hurt. Fear never once entered her eyes. She just stared at him quite calmly despite the circumstances. Just as she always did. Her hazel eyes just looked at him, no judgment, no anger, no anything. She just simply stared at him. Not showing anything of what she was feeling. Which was her way. He suddenly let go. He couldn't do it. He had already hurt her. So much. Then, he muttered relatively softly compared to his earlier explosion, emotion choking him up. The agony in his chest tearing up his sanity. This woman right here driving him crazy. "I could've killed you." Twice.

"You've saved me once. You can kill me if you desire."

He deflated completely, going limp against Yawnadi. Her passiveness... He squeezed his eyes shut as his grip tightened on her, terrified that she'd slip through his fingers, disappearing forever. At that point, she let herself sag against Kent, almost too weak to stay conscious. After all, she was in excruciating pain. She probably wasn't going to live. She also knew he was going to hurt her anymore. Even if he didn't know about the impending death. He wasn't really a bad person. Just rash and hot-tempered. He wasn't that difficult to understand, really. Kent leaned his head on hers, hugging her gently. Her body was cold. So cold. Yawnadi had no concept of self-preservation. Because, frankly, she didn't care. He knew she'd do anything for him. Her life didn't matter to her. She even told him that he could kill her if he wanted. She was willing to die for him. He wasn't going to leave until he found out the source of her nonexistent self-importance. He wasn't going to leave when he found out. He was never going to leave. The same mentality might not apply to her. He didn't want her to leave, to be left alone. Kent watched her slumbering form helplessly, not knowing what to do if she wouldn't wake up anymore after adding something to his life. A meaning. A light. Happiness. She... she...

"You fucking scare me."


Thanks for reading. A lovely present and future to you.