Legacy

BY : Rina76
Category: Final Fantasy Anime > Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children
Dragon prints: 1417
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII Advent Children or any of the characters from the film. I am not making money from the writing of this story.

Part 8. Club Chaos


Uncounted and unimportant minutes pass while Loz are I are holding each other, his big muscular body still pressing me to the bathroom tiles, only not as crushingly now. It feels so wonderful to be held like this, to be surrounded by his heat and musky, masculine scent – a mixture of leather, aftershave lotion and motorcycle exhaust fumes. His solid male presence makes me feel safe and protected, his arms gentle yet strong around me, his face in the crook of my shoulder, his breath brushing intimately and warmly over my skin. He’s still deep inside me, although I can feel him softening, starting to wilt and slowly slip from between my thighs; the nerves in my legs throbbing with the after-effects of our intense climaxes. Though my mind is cloudy with relaxed bliss, it suddenly hits me what I’ve just done. Something I said I wouldn’t do, and honestly hadn’t planned on ever doing.

I’ve just had sex in a nightclub restroom.

Up against a wall.

With a guy whose last name I don’t even know.

And I loved it.

Not only did he give me the best orgasm of my life, I actually touched myself in front of him – a thing I rarely do in full view of another guy, not unless I know him really well. I usually do that in the dark where nobody can see me but it’s not dark in here and Loz saw everything. Though I have a lot of issues and insecurities about my body, I didn’t try to hide from him. I wanted him to look at me, to admire me, to see how much fun I was having and how good he was making me feel. I’ve never acted so wantonly before, so shamelessly indecent and promiscuous but then again, I’ve never been with a man like Loz before; so large and looming with immense power, yet filled with deep passion, emotion, tenderness and hunger. He’s awakened a part of me that’s always been there but never fully been released; a carnal appetite and freedom previously quashed down and made dormant by depression, shame and self-guilt, and he’s allowed me to express it without judging me or making me feel less of a person. If anything, being with him makes me feel more like who I am meant to be; a desirable, sensual woman who deserves to be loved and pleasured and who loves to give pleasure in return. Being with Loz makes me feel alive in a way I haven’t felt before, my whole body buzzing and humming and vibrating, like the Life Stream has surged out of the planet’s centre and is flowing through my veins, energising and empowering me.

“Oh, great Goddess of Gaia,” I sigh dizzily, still on an exhilarated high. “That was so good.”

I know guys don’t feel like making a lot of conversation after sexual intercourse due to all the blood being drained from their brains, but I expect Loz to at least mumble something about it being good for him too. Or at least grunt in agreement. What I don’t expect is when he gives a sudden strange muffled noise, something that’s not perspiration landing on me and trickling down my upper arm. He starts to shake, as if trying desperately to hold something in.

I know that sound, I realise with a shock. That sound was a sob.

My Gods. He’s crying!

“Hey.” I frown, trying to look at his face but he buries it in the side of my throat, hiding from me. “Hey, honey, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he chokes out, sniffling into my neck. “It’s just...you’re so nice...and I really like you. And I don’t want this to be over.”

My chest begins to ache at his sad, innocent tone. He sounds like a little boy. Stroking the back of his head I say softly, “I really like you too, sweetie,” while thinking that he must have drank way too much of that moonshine shit and turned overly sentimental. Yazoo said he was sensitive but c’mon, he can’t be THAT emotionally fragile.

Or can he?

Maybe this /is/ how he is normally. Maybe he does wear his heart on his jacket sleeve but only those close to him get to see it. Maybe that snarly toughness he shows to everyone else is just a front, to hide how soft he actually is inside. I don’t know him well enough to be sure. Either way, this is the first time I’ve seen a guy cry after sex and it makes me feel all tender and maternal towards him, like I want to comfort and protect him which is dumb because he certainly doesn’t need protecting from anything. He’s a freaking hit man, for heaven’s sakes. He probably knows a hundred different ways to kill somebody.

But still, I somehow sense that he needs comforting so I continue to stroke his hair and the nape of his neck, soothing him until his sobs die down and he stops shaking.

“You all right now?” I enquire carefully.

He nods against me, miserably mumbling, “Sorry. Didn’t mean to bawl all over you.”

“It’s okay. These things happen sometimes,” I reply understandingly, placing a kiss on the crown of his head.

“See? You ARE nice.” He sniffs again. “Other chicks would be laughing so hard at me right now.”

“Well, I’m not other chicks,” I remind him, wishing I could meet the ones who did laugh so I could punch them all square in the fucking mouth for their insensitivity. “I’d never make fun of you like that, Loz. Ever.”

He still won’t show me his face so I say light-heartedly, “And who says this has to be over, huh? Do you see me leaving yet?”

“No,” he admits in a mutter.

“Well, then. What are you sad about? Hmm?”

He rubs his cheek on my shoulder and finally glances back up at me, his dark lashes still moist and slightly sticking together into points. Apart from that, you couldn’t even tell he was crying. His eyes haven’t gone red or puffy like mine do after a big bawling session and there’s no trace of skin-blotchiness or patchiness. He still looks picture perfect.

Genetically-blessed bastard.

I cup his face and brush away a lingering tear-trail with the pad of my thumb. “Feelin’ better, big guy?”

“Yeah. I’m fine.” He gives a sheepish shrug. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

“And thanks for this too,” he adds with a squeeze to my thigh, meaning the hot, drunken wall-sex we just had. “Damn, girly. That was pretty friggin’ awesome.”

“/You’re/ pretty friggin’ awesome.” I smirk deviously at him. “In fact, you’re so awesome, I think I’m gonna have problems walking tomorrow.”

“Sorry,” he says again but he’s grinning now, seemingly back to a happier mood.

“You are not,” I tease, slinging my arms around his neck and placing a kiss on the cute tip of his nose.

“Okay. I’m not really.” He tentatively indicates to where we are still joined. “Are you right if I...?”

"Sure,” I reply, hanging onto him as he begins to slide out, Loz holding the base of the condom so it doesn’t slip off. Feeling him withdrawing from me emphasises once again how particularly well-endowed he is as it seems to take forever for him to get to the very end. He’s being cautious and I only wince a little bit. There’s a definite soreness left behind but it’s a welcome soreness and one that I will remember fondly when I wake up in the morning. I uncurl my legs from around him and unsteadily stand up, letting go of his neck and pulling my skirt down. Since he tore my underwear in half I’m gonna have to go back into the club without it but that can be our little secret. I’ll just have to make sure I don’t bend over in front of anyone. I’m even gladder that he used a condom or I’d have a lot of gooey stuff running down the inside of my thigh right about now. Fortunately for me, all that goo is safely contained in the protective rubber sheath and Loz, his hand bashfully covering his privates, goes over to the rubbish receptacle and takes it off, wrapping the used prophylactic in a paper towel before scrunching the lot up and disposing of it.

As he's fixing his pants, I readjust my bra and straighten my top, going over to the basin and peering in the mirror above it. My cheeks are pink, my lips are swollen and red from kissing and my chest and neck are mottled with an orgasm-flush. It looks like I’ve had a very thorough, satisfying fuck. Which I have.

“Aw shit,” I exclaim, grabbing at one empty earlobe. “I’ve lost an earring.”

I search the floor for the dangly silver piece of jewellery but can’t see it anywhere. I must have lost it in the main area of the club, maybe while I was dancing.

“Was it valuable?” Loz asks in concern. “I can help you look for it.”

“Nah, it’s okay.” I shake my head. “It’s only cheap costume jewellery. I can’t afford the real stuff. Being a florist isn’t exactly a high-paying job.”

I walk over to the toilet and hesitate. “Turn around so I can pee.”

Loz raises one slanted eyebrow at me. “I already saw what you got down there.”

“Well, you haven’t seen me peeing and you’re not going to,” I return obstinately. “Turn around. And run the water in the sink so you can’t hear me.”

He shrugs and does what I ask, presenting me with his back and turning the handle of the faucet above one of the many basins, letting water gush down the drain noisily.

“No looking at me in the mirror, either,” I warn him as I scrunch my skirt up to my hips and perch gingerly on the cold stainless steel rim, keeping a wary eye on him to make sure he doesn’t sneak a peek.

He chuckles deeply, clearly finding my prudishness amusing. “Don’t worry. I’m not lookin’.”

While I’m emptying my bladder, he goes over to one of the other mirrors – away from my reflection – and checks out his hair, sliding his palms over the sweeping silver style and tidying a few strands that have been messed up by me running my fingers through it. It still looks pretty darn resistant to the effects of gravity, considering how sweaty and hot he got during our coupling. It ought to be flat and lifeless by now but it’s still full of body, the back curling up like the pointy end of an elf’s boot.

“How the heck does your hair stay up like that?” I ask, tearing off a length of toilet paper.

“Dunno.” He lifts a shoulder casually, smoothing down his sideburns. “Just does.”

“It’s cool. And I like your sidies. Not many guys can carry off facial hair like that but it really suits you. It’s like, all manly and shit. You’re a real good lookin’ dude, y’know.”

“Thanks.” He sounds flattered, even though I’m rambling like a fool. I’m still under the effects of all those cocktails, yet pleasantly so. As I’m sitting there the room is spinning slightly, or at least my head is anyway. However, I feel quite healthy and can still walk in a straight line so I’m not overly intoxicated. Just drunk enough to be happy.

I finish up on the loo, pull my skirt back down and flush. I go over to the running faucet to wash my hands while Loz finally turns back around, leaning against the vanity top with both hands on the edge, watching me with lazy, sex-satisfied emerald eyes.

“Hey, Loz? You know what I said before to that red-haired guy, about letting you off the leash? I totally didn’t mean to imply that you were my dog or that I own you or control you or anything. I so didn’t mean it like that,” I explain anxiously, wiping my fingers on a paper towel. “I know it was none of my business and I probably should have kept my mouth shut but I just wanted him to go away and leave us alone.”

“Ah, it’s all right,” he replies blithely and unconcernedly. “I wasn’t offended. I knew what you meant.”

“He’s really annoying, isn’t he?”

“Yeah.” He rolls his eyes. “Tell me about it. I was this close to smashing his big stupid head open.”

“I sensed that. Thanks for not doing it.”

He stares at me, that intense almost-frown on his face. “It wasn’t you, Cate.”

I blink at him in bewilderment.

“What you said made me think more about what I was gonna do but you didn’t stop me. I stopped me,” he points out. “I was the one who decided not to fight. Believe me, when I want to hurt someone, I don’t let anyone or anything get in my way. If I really wanted to kill that Turk, I would have. And nothing you could have said or done would have made a damn difference.”

“Oh,” I mumble, suddenly not feeling so special anymore. “So you didn’t do it for me, then.”

“Well, that’s not entirely true,” he concedes in that deep drawl. “I just thought about what would be more fun: slamming him into the wall...or slamming YOU.”

Then he grins mischievously, showing that wicked sense of playfulness which I find so irresistibly appealing and soon I’m grinning too.

“You’re a very bad boy, Loz.” I sidle up to him with a smirk. “And I love bad boys.”

“You do, huh?”

“Mm. Especially when they’re big and strong and handsome like you,” I coo, trailing a flirty fingertip across his chiselled jaw.

He’s almost blushing. It’s too cute.

“What’s your number?” I ask, bringing my purple cell-phone out of my skirt-pocket and scrolling through the menu to the contact list. “I’ll add you.”

“Uh, hang on. I’ll have to check. I forget,” he admits, taking out his phone as well and flipping it open. “I never have to call myself.”

When he finds his number, he reads it out and I type it into my keypad, storing it for future use.

“Am I ever gonna see you again after tonight?” He re-pockets his phone, sounding doubtful. “Because every time I give a girl my number, she never calls me.”

“They have no idea what they’re missing out on,” I murmur, running my hand down the centre of his fantastic chest. “Don’t worry. I’ll definitely be calling you and coming back for more of this.”

Before he gets the idea that I’m only interested in his body, I look up into his beautiful blue-green eyes and smile before standing on tip-toes and kissing him sweetly on the mouth. “And this.”

He starts to kiss me back and then abruptly pulls away, avoiding my gaze. “Tell me you’re not.”

“Not what?” I query in confusion.

“Messing with me.” He tentatively peers back up. “If you don’t wanna do this again, it’s okay. I get it. Just say so and I’ll leave you alone. But don’t mess with me and say things you don’t mean. Don’t do that to me. Please.”

He’s gazing at me in fearful apprehensiveness and all of a sudden I realise that in spite of his outer toughness I actually could wound him very deeply if I’m not careful so I reply gently, “I’m not messing with you, Loz. I’m not going to hurt you or lie to you. That’s the last thing I’d ever do.”

“You swear?”

“I swear. I don’t normally do this with someone I’ve just met so the fact that I did means something, all right?” I cup his jaw with one hand and softly caress his cheek. “It means that I feel something for you and I want to see you again.”

He still looks slightly sceptical.

“Didn’t I say back at the bar that we were gonna be dating buddies?”

He nods at my reminder.

“Well, I meant that, Loz. Only next time, you better take me somewhere nicer than a strip club. Or I’ll kick your ass.” I fix him with a mock-stern glare. “All right?”

Smiling, he nods again, believing me now. “Anywhere you want to go, babygirl.” He takes my hand and kisses it. “You name it. I’ll take you there.”

Suddenly, he glances over toward the door, his smile fading.

“Shit,” he curses, quickly dropping my hand and beginning to refasten all his zips, straps and buckles.

“What?” I ask, shooting a quizzical glance at the doorway, having heard nothing out of the ordinary outside. That guy hasn’t even knocked again, not since Loz yelled at him.

“My brothers are in trouble.”

I stare at him. “How do you know that?”

“I just do.”

Fully dressed again, Loz pulls on his gloves, his face settling into a serious, grim expression. He unlocks the bathroom door and opens it, the music getting louder. There are people in the hallway but nobody waiting by this door. I follow him in mounting puzzlement as he strides determinedly up the stairs, towards the main area of the club.

“Loz?” I question uncertainly. “What’s going on?”

“Stay back, all right?” He turns to give me a warning glance. “It’s probably gonna get messy.”

As we head past the bar and cut through the crowd, I see Kadaj and Yazoo in the middle of it, standing with the blue-eyed redhead and his pal, a dark-skinned bald guy in shades, the four of them facing each other challengingly and hostilely.

“Turks,” Loz spits out, looking like he’s got a sour taste in his mouth.

I stop right where I am, watching the scene unfold with an escalating sense of dread.

They’re gonna fight. I’ve been around boys long enough to recognise the signs. Yazoo is standing there with a slight mocking smile on his pale lips, silver head tilted to the side expectantly. Kadaj is glaring straight ahead, his slitted green gaze gleaming viciously through the razored layers of his hair.

Even though he should be, the smart-mouthed dude with the red rat-tail and the goggles doesn’t look scared of Kadaj in the least. Or of Yazoo. In fact it looks like he wants to sever their heads and mop the grimy floor with their hair. The bald one in the suit and tie is staring at Yazoo expressionlessly and wordlessly, like a rock wall with sunglasses. He’s built huge, like Loz, and he’s not intimidated by these cat-eyed assassins either. When Loz stalks up and towers protectively beside Kadaj, the redhead grins tauntingly and makes some sarcastic remark I can’t hear over the music but it has the same effect as before and Loz’s metaphorical hackles go up. He gets into a fighting stance, broad shoulders lowered, both gloved fists raised, glowering venomously at the goggle-wearing guy, keen to finish what he didn’t get to in the corridor. Unlike then, I don’t step in and interrupt. I don’t dare. The testosterone is oozing out of not just Loz but all five of them so strongly I can almost smell it and if I tried to get in the middle of this, I’d get torn apart like a piece of meat amongst a pack of wild wolves.

Sorry, Ponytail, I think with a wince, imagining what’s shortly about to happen to him. You’re on your own this time.

Red-Boy says something else smart, tapping his head as if making fun of Loz’s intellect and I can see Loz growling from here, his muscle-bound body stiffening with rage. He glances to Kadaj and the younger male gives a short nod. That must be the signal Loz was waiting for because from that point afterwards, the fight is fucking on.

Loz goes straight for the redhead. Yazoo and the bald guy attack each other while Kadaj waits and watches, letting his two older siblings battle first. I wasn’t sure if the skinny pony-tailed dude could hold his own against someone bigger and stronger like Loz but surprisingly, he can, the tattooed flame-head ducking and blocking Loz’s heavily-thrown punches, swung elbows and lifted knees. For a larger man, Loz can move astonishingly rapidly, as can Yazoo, who seems made of smoke or like he’s got wings – he’s that light and flighty, appearing to hover in the air for an unnaturally long time. The bald guy – who is also a formidable fighter - somehow manages to hit Yazoo with a solid punch, sending the slimmer male sprawling back into the crowd, which has gathered around to watch the entertainment. Yazoo goes soaring backwards into them, knocking a couple of men over in the process.

Kadaj evidently doesn’t like his brother being harmed because he lunges at the dark-skinned male, rudely smacking his sunglasses off and crunching them to splinters beneath his boot. Bald guy scowls in irritation, cracks his neck with a couple of sideways jerks of his head, slips on a fresh pair on shades (kept in his suit jacket pocket) and then lunges back with teeth bared.

The people that Yazoo fell on are now riled up and enraged and they bloodthirstily join forces, trying to get at Yazoo and beat him up because he looks like the easiest target, being so slim and feminine in appearance.

They fail.

Those men - and a couple of big butch angry lesbians - soon find out that they’ve sorely misjudged Yazoo, the graceful young man taking them all down with a rapid-fire succession of elegantly performed hits, leaps and head-high kicks, the split in his black coat allowing him to get his leg up that far, like a ballet-dancer, his long silky hair swirling and shimmering around him as he turns and strikes. Coolly dispatching his attackers one after the other, Yazoo leaves them slumped on the floor, bleeding and battered. One guy tries to jam a broken glass into Yazoo’s face, to make him not so pretty anymore, and I gasp in fear for him but Yazoo notices in time and spins aside. As he does so the lengthy hem of his dress-coat whirls out and the other male’s downward slash catches the leather; jagged glass piercing through the article of clothing and dragging all the way to the bottom, resulting in a long rip. Yazoo glances down, a mildly annoyed look crossing his features. He only looks mildly annoyed but I bet for Yazoo that’s his highly pissed expression. I am too far back and the din is too loud for me to hear Yazoo speaking but I see his lips move and I swear he says icily, “Look what you’ve done to my coat,” before retaliating by snatching the guy’s hand and jabbing it forward, making the unfortunate bastard stab himself in the thigh with his own glass. The guy howls, rivers of crimson pouring out and running down his leg. As if that punishment wasn’t enough, Yazoo’s boot crashes into the man’s lower jaw. I can see it dislocating and shattering from here and I cover my mouth in shock as the guy drops to the floor, out cold.

Yazoo just smiles. Nastily.

Beside him is the third segment of the terrible trio – Kadaj - and I switch my wide-eyed focus to him. He is a lot smaller than the beefy bald man he’s duelling but he effortlessly and efficiently disables the dude, Kadaj smashing him to the ground with a couple of powerful well-aimed blows. The bald guy tries to get up but can’t, falling back down in a groaning heap, sunglasses still on his nose, which has begun to bleed. I’m staggered by how strong Kadaj is - he’s only a kid for Gods’ sakes! - and though he just fought someone three times his size he’s nowhere near tired yet. Wanting something in his hand, the younger brother swipes up a cue from an abandoned pool table, wielding the wooden stick much as he would his sword, twirling it flashily in his gloved fingers before using it to inflict injury upon anyone within arm’s reach, whacking them across the face, over the back or chopping them across the shins, even using the broader end like a hilt and jabbing people in the stomach with it, every motion lightning-fast and viciously accurate. He plays this game until he wears the pool cue out and it snaps in half. Undeterred, Kadaj simply takes the second piece in his other hand and uses them both at once, like separated nunchaku, able to hit twice as many people at the same time now. He skips, dodges and twists his super-fit trim body, the slit bottoms of his pants flaring out as he drops and circles, sweeping his leg out to trip people before knocking them unconscious with a sharp blow to the head. One of the guys he knocked down tries to crawl away but Kadaj grabs his arm and mercilessly yanks it back, pulling it out of its socket, thereby preventing him from going anywhere in a hurry. The guy passes out in pain.

Starting to feel sicker and sicker, I glance back to Loz and the redhead. While they’re trading blows Loz gets hit in the jaw and briefly staggers back – dazed - but he speedily recovers and flashes forward to attain his vengeance, slamming his knee into the smaller male’s stomach, doubling him over, and then crashing his fists down on the redhead’s back, flooring him. Ponytail’s fine face smacks into the floorboards and when he dizzily lifts it, I can see blood trickling from his busted lip, dripping down his chin. He pushes at the floor with shaking arms but is incapable of getting up, instead weakly reaching out to his shaven-headed partner, trying to pull himself over to his wounded friend. I blink, wondering if my eyes are lying to me because I could have sworn I saw a blue streak of light behind Loz as he charged forward. I soon discover that no, it’s not my eyesight because he does it again when he attacks some random dude in the crowd, the bulky hit-man flashing from one place to another in an impossible instant, that eerie glow trailing him like an electrical field. It’s definitely not the disco-lights. It’s coming from his body, like some sort of bioluminescence. I stand there with an open mouth, unable to believe what I’m seeing yet unable to look away either.

Apparently not noticing this disturbing teleporting thing that Loz is doing, the hat-wearing cowboy that grabbed my ass earlier - along with his redneck buddies - decide to get their revenge on Loz. Fuelled by beer and bravado, the mob angrily charges into the fight and confronts him.

Bad idea.

Very, very bad idea.

As Cowboy swings his first clumsy punch Loz stops it with one sturdy arm, grabbing the other guy’s fist and prying it open, bending all four fingers back in one crunching motion, breaking them all at once. Cowboy gives a high-pitched shriek and stumbles backwards, clutching his wrist. One of his buddies tries to defend him but Loz kicks out with the flat sole of his boot, popping the man’s knee out of its joint. The man looks down dumbly, his leg now bent back at an abnormal angle, and he topples to the floor, screeching above the music, Loz sneering at him in disgust.

I divide my shocked stare between him, Yazoo and Kadaj, trying to watch them all at once. Loz moves like a space-bending sledgehammer, Yazoo like a fierce floating wraith and Kadaj like a swift and lethal vortex, spinning around and laying waste to everyone unlucky or stupid enough to get caught in his path. I now understand why the doorman insisted on taking their weapons.

They’re doing enough damage without them.

All the girls in the club - and the boys who sensibly don’t want to get involved - are staying as far back as they can, pressed against walls or hiding behind columns and potted plants, peeking around the corners to witness the carnage, mixed looks of horror and perverse exhilaration on their faces. The DJ has left his booth for safety reasons but his record is still playing and over that I can hear screams, shouts and bellows. The strippers have deserted their poles and podiums, fleeing back to the protection of their dressing rooms. There are a couple of security guards up here on this level but they’re hopelessly outnumbered and stick to the outer edges of the expanding brawl, attempting to prevent any newcomers from joining in, holding them back with arm-locks and neck-holds but there’s too much pumped-up male aggressiveness in the club to stop this violent behaviour from occurring.

As they are triple-handedly rendering most of the club’s male occupants comatose, Kadaj has a pleased little smile on his lips, Loz is grinning like a rabid dog and Yazoo is actually giggling. They’re having fun hurting people. They’re /enjoying/ this. Way too much. I don’t know if any of the people on the floor are actually dead but they are totally incapacitated, some of them still moaning and twitching in pain. There are broken bones, puddles of blood and lost teeth galore. The local hospital’s emergency room is going to be packed to the rafters tonight.

Curiously, though the red-head and the bald guy have been immobilized and are both attempting to quietly limp away without being noticed, none of the silver-haired brothers inflicts any more injuries upon them, though they could extremely easily, even killing the both of them if they so wished, getting rid of their rivals permanently. Despite the fact that they are all enemies and clearly hate each other, neither Loz, Yazoo nor Kadaj touch the other two any further. It’s as though they need those guys alive for some reason and merely humiliating them in combat is enough for now so the black-clad assassins let them go and focus on everyone else there is to hurt.

By now, more and more guys in the crowd are jumping into the clash, turning it from a simple club-scuffle into a full-on bloody battleground, mindlessly assaulting each other and also attempting to attack Yazoo, Kadaj and Loz, since they started the whole thing and nobody seems to be able to defeat them. Things are happening so quickly and the boys are zipping around so fast I can’t even see what’s going on most of the time but I’m pretty sure they’re winning, if the mounting stack of unconscious bodies piling up around them is any indication. I’m frozen in stunned awe, wondering once again what the hell Loz and his brothers really are.

Sometime in the middle of all this gore and mayhem, Yazoo holds up his hand, like he’s telling everyone to stop but nobody pays any notice to him. Shadowy mist starts creeping up from the floor in front of him and things that look like giant black dogs emerge from it. Only they’re not dogs. They’re some sort of unnatural creatures; dark, sinewy and bony, with claws, spurs and long whipping tails. There are four of them. As if hearing unspoken instructions, the creatures begin to charge into the crowd, sending everyone scattering and shrieking. I don’t know how it’s possible and Gods knows where they came from but somehow Yazoo summoned these things and now he’s controlling them. Still holding up his gloved hand, he sends another of his demonic manifestations galloping into the panicked mass, making it a total of five. Smiling in satisfaction, Yazoo lowers his arm and watches the creatures springing forward and attacking the general public, chasing them down and pouncing on them like hounds hunting small, furry mammals.

And yet, people are still fighting each other. It’s utter madness.

I gawp around in disbelief, knowing I should run for my life but I’m utterly unable to make my feet move. I feel like I’m dreaming but at the same time I know this is real and it leaves me feeling disoriented and like I’m outside of my body, looking down. As the crowd surges around me, I happen to meet the blue-haired bartender’s gaze from behind the counter and we stare at each other for a couple of seconds. Strangely, he doesn’t look as shaken as I am. He looks worried and alert but not shocked. It’s like he’s seen this before. He’s staying behind the bar, ducking as glasses, bottles and bits of furniture whiz past overhead, using his work station as a kind of bunker to hide in or fort to protect himself with until it’s over. As long as he stays in there, he’s relatively safe from the ferocious, unruly horde and the predatory monsters. While I’m stupidly looking at him, wondering if he can tell me what the fuck is going on here, his violet eyes grow huge and afraid and he starts yelling at me but I can’t make out what he’s saying. He’s pointing and gesturing at something, desperate urgency in his face and finally, my brain clicks into gear and I turn to see what he’s motioning at.

There’s one of those things right beside me.

It’s colossal. Like the size of a car. The creature is facing me, crouching as if preparing for a lunge. I freeze in fright, standing there like a statue. I’m looking right into its eyes. Its tail twitches. It slowly lowers its craggy head, nostrils flaring as if sniffing me. I start praying to the Gods in desperation, frantically hoping that if I stand very, very still it will leave me alone. I jump a little when its head swings back up but I stay in the exact same position, thinking that movement will only entice and agitate it. The thing seems to be inspecting me, maybe figuring out if I’d make a good meal or not. I would have peed myself if I hadn’t already gone back in the bathroom with Loz. The nameless thing snorts, hot breath blowing into my face, and then it pounces. Too scared to even scream, I cower, my arms covering my head, squeezing my eyes shut and waiting in sheer terror for the feel of teeth tearing my flesh.

It doesn’t happen.

I feel a heavy thump on the floor behind me and spin around to see the creature grabbing a man by the leg, starting to drag him off. It didn’t touch me. It’s like they don’t attack women. I catch Yazoo staring at me, just for an instant, and then he swivels to the side, blocking a punch with one strong arm, his long hair fanning in a circular sweep. Amidst all this nightmarish insanity, I see my foster-brother Jaren whirling around in horrified uncertainty. One of the hell-hounds is coming right for him. My protective instincts kick in and I run and stand in front of Jaren, facing the monster. It slows down when it sees me, thin tail flickering indecisively.

“No!” I yell at it in fury, like one might yell at a disobedient puppy. “Get away! Leave him alone!”

The massive beast growls and shakes its bone-plated head in aggravation but it backs off, going after somebody else. I turn to my white-faced foster-brother, his brown eyes large and distraught. He’s got no idea what’s going on either. I grip his shoulders urgently and shout at him.

“Jaren, get the fuck out of here!”

He starts to leave but then when I’m not following he turns back, confusedly looking at me.

“What about you?” He shouts back, holding out his hand. “Come ON, Cate!”

I shake my head. “I gotta find Shandi first.”

“But those things!”

“I’ll be okay. They don’t want girls.” I shove him, hard. “Go now. GO!”

With a last anxious, unsettled glance at me, he bolts, yanking a couple of his college friends along with him on the way. I fretfully scan the room for Shandi, not seeing her anywhere. Maybe she escaped already. Gods, I hope she has and isn’t lying trampled on the floor somewhere. As I’m spinning around searching for her trademark black dreadlocks, I see something that stops me dead in my tracks. One of the dog-demons has got somebody in its mouth.

A female.

And not just any female, it’s Justine – the girl from the ladies toilets who has a crush on Yazoo. Or used to. She’s screaming at Yazoo to save her and he’s ignoring her cries, impassively watching her struggling in his creature’s jaws like she’s just a play-toy. She’s crying and reaching out to him and he’s not doing anything, just looking at her with this unemotional blank expression. He doesn’t care. He’s going to let her get eaten. I know Justine called Loz big and ugly but she doesn’t deserve to die for it. Nobody deserves this. I want to help her but I don’t know how. I can’t pull her out of that thing’s teeth without tearing her legs off and if I try, it might attack me too.

Why is Yazoo letting this happen? She’s just a girl. She didn’t do anything!

As I’m staring at the long-haired gunman in helpless horror, I catch his attention, and he looks at me for a timeless few seconds with his head tilted slightly, his eyes no longer beautiful but cold and empty.

“Don’t. Please,” I whisper, pleading with him to have some compassion and pity for this innocent young woman. I glance at her again and then back at him, beseechingly, tears starting to spill down my face. “Let her go. Yazoo, please!”

He can’t hear me over the chaotic bellowing and shouting but I know he understands what I’ve just said, what I’m begging him to do. For an awful moment I think he’s going to dismiss my plea and let Justine get ripped apart right in front of me but then slowly, he raises his arm. Without taking his eyes off me, he lifts his left hand and that particular creature disappears into black smoke, leaving Justine crumpled on the floor, petrified and sobbing, but alive. As I rush worriedly over to her, I look back at Yazoo, grateful for his mercy, but he has already turned away, the slender silver-head joining back into the fight; kicking and striking his male attackers with swift, deadly dexterity.

Reaching Justine’s side, I crouch down and assist her to sit up. Her face is streaked with runs of mascara and she’s shaking uncontrollably.

“Are you all right?” I ask, raising my voice over the deafening noise of the melee. “You okay? Can you walk?”

She nods jerkily, taking my help to stand, her hands trembling. There are a few cuts on her legs and she’s frightened out of her mind, but otherwise she’s relatively unhurt. Her high-heeled shoes have fallen off and her feet are bare. There’s broken glass all over the floor and she’s standing right in some but she doesn’t seem to be able to feel it.

“Y-Yazoo,” she says stammeringly, her eyes haunted and traumatized. “He...he did this... I saw...”

“I know. But you’re safe now.” I point to the stairs and yell at her. “Justine, go get your friend Sara and go home. Immediately! Can you do that?”

She nods again, shivering, too scared to even ask how I know her name. With one final terror-filled glance at Yazoo’s elegant, dancer-like figure she stumbles away, heading for the exit, too afraid to look for her friend. All she wants to do is get out of here and never come back. I don’t believe she will ever think of Yazoo the same way again, not after this, not after seeing what he can do.

I know I won’t.

I won’t think of any of the boys the same. Especially not Loz. The handsome, gentle man I was beginning to fall in love with is gleefully occupied stomping on someone’s ribs like an angry rhino and when he spots me staring at him he freezes, a dismayed expression crossing his face, as if he’s only just realised what he must look like to me. He steps back hesitantly. It’s seems as though he’s about to call out to me but before he can say anything, one of the butch bull-dykes smashes a bar stool across his wide back, turning the seat into splintered firewood. Unhurt, Loz turns to her, batting the masculine woman away in annoyance like she’s a mosquito bugging him. She goes flying, taking out four other men when she comes crashing down. The dyke’s even meaner girlfriend decides rather unwisely to retaliate, roaring and rushing at Loz with a piece of broken wood in her hand, aiming right for that exposed wedge of his chest, like she’s trying to stake a vampire. He lifts an arm and casually stops her with his gloved fist. It doesn’t even look like he’s trying - it looks more like a tap than a punch - but her whole face caves in around his clenched fingers and when he pulls back, a fountain of blood sprays out from the flattened area where her nose used to be.

Screw this shit. I’ve seen enough.

Without waiting for Shandi I lurch around and desperately shove my way through the hysterically hyped-up crowd, stumbling down the stairs. Along the way I come across Roscoe the bouncer and his apprentice Tommy, both charging up the steps to join their fellow security guards on the next level and put a stop to the riot.

Good fucking luck with that.

As they’re running up to the bloody, brawling mess I’m leaving behind, Roscoe is shouting stern instructions to his rather nervous and understandably scared-looking trainee.

“Just remember, kid – break up whatever fights you can but for Gods’ sakes, don’t get between Kadaj and his brothers!”

“But aren’t they the bad guys?” Tommy yells back in perplexity, attempting to keep pace with his bigger superior.

“Exactly. That’s why you don’t fuck with them. They WILL hurt you and I can’t stop them. Nobody can.”

Tommy gulps, turning visibly paler.

Roscoe grins with a feral sort of excitement, slapping the smaller male on the back. “Welcome to the security biz, kiddo...”

After struggling my way through the freaked-out mass of people and getting elbowed hard in the ribs, shoved roughly in the back and my feet stood on, I finally reach the entrance of the nightclub, bursting through the front doors onto the pavement outside, swept along in a panicking human tide.

Wanting to get as far away from this nightmare as possible, I run.

Closed stores, shops, warehouses and ramshackle apartment buildings go past me in a blur, only the occasional flickering orange lamp to light my way though the darkness, the sound of my boots thudding on the sidewalk like my own terrified heartbeat. As a street-smart girl I know that I should not be out alone after midnight but whatever is lurking in the corners of this city cannot possibly be as frightening or dangerous as what I witnessed in that club so I continue sprinting, even though I am gasping for breath, my legs are burning and my sides are full of painful stitches. I only stop once, to lean over and forcefully vomit up a bellyful of curdled purple liquid into the rubbish-strewn gutter, a brown alley cat hissing at me before scampering away into the early-morning silence. I’m sweating, my head is swimming nauseatingly and my stomach is cramping in protest but I wipe my mouth and stagger back into a lumbering jog, my mind still filled with shockingly horrific scenes of violence.

I keep running until I safely make it home and lock the door behind me, sagging onto the floor and breaking out into shuddering sobs of relief.


***


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