Escaping the Devil: Chapter Thirty



This story is rated Mature for adult language, sexual content, references to graphic violence, drug, and substance abuse. This means that this is intended for audiences 18 and up.

Yui was barely conscious when they saw her that night. Nevertheless, she was able to recognize them. At least enough to smile. Her clammy hand had opened and closed for Eli, summoning her to her side. The invitation was accepted immediately, drawing her in like a moth to the flame when she sat down at her side.

Since then, Eli only left when it was required.

The healers in the village were quite thorough. They checked in on Yui with the same proficiency one would accept of hospital staff. With more frequency, too.

More and more, her questions began to grow. Whenever she tried to broach the subject with Gunner, he shrugged her off or rapidly changed the topic. It was intriguing. Archangel had always been a man of secrets, but exile was a whole other matter.

Whatever reprieve their strange confrontation had afforded them was rapidly splintering. His agitation with her was mounting, and she couldn’t bring herself to care. She was no longer afraid of being Serenity — having concluded that as strange as these Shifters were, they were at least honorable — but her curiosity was piqued. Unfortunately for Gunner, she wasn’t so easily swayed. There was no amount of dirty looks or barked replies that would make her leave the subject alone.

During the day, he did his best to avoid her. An impossibility, given that neither was particularly accepted amidst the Shifters. They could not move among them unnoticed, leaving her deeply unsettled. Of course, it was far worse for Archangel, who was regarded with open disdain and mistrust. Her treatment was far kinder — uncertain, tentative, but not openly hostile.

If Yui were up on her feet, she would have made the entire village her friends. It was impossible not to note the many smiling faces that emerged from the healing tent. They all carefully schooled their expressions when they spotted Eli and their exile. It was almost as if they thought Gunner could bleed their souls if their eyes locked.

Two days had passed, and Yui was getting better by the hour. Finally, the healers informed them that they would be able to leave by nightfall the following day.

It was hard to say who was more relieved — Eli, who had grown impatient with being in one place for too long, or Gunner, whose mood grew blacker every day they were in Serenity. 

They were finally allowed in the tent after a rather grueling last examination. Both took up chairs to sit at opposite sides of the Siren’s bed. 

“You’re looking so much better,” Eli gushed, beaming brightly as she reached for her hand.

“I’m still looking rough,” Yui laughed, self-consciously smoothing down her hair. “I just want a shower,” she whined, squeezing Eli’s fingers in hers. 

“You can take a bath,” Gunner suggested, not-unkindly.

Eli grimaced and shook her head. “She hates baths.”

“Unless I’m having fun in them,” Yui tittered. 

Gunner, perplexed, frowned at the pair. 

“It’s like dirty body soup,” the Siren shrugged as if what she said was the perfect explanation. “To get actually clean, you have to take a shower afterward, and, at that point, it’s just a waste of water.”

The coyote’s expression shifted into outright confusion. 

The girls laughed, taking too much pleasure in his expression.

“I’m not going to lie, though,” Yui hummed, her toes kicking childishly under the blankets. “I’m going to miss it here.”

Gunner let out a sardonic chuckle, his head shaking as if to say, “you’d be the only one.”

The Siren frowned at him, folding her arms over her middle. “It’s a beautiful community.”

“Something like that,” he growled in response.

“You can’t be pissed at them because they exiled you. It was justified.”

His eyes flashed dangerously; his jaw clenched as his gaze snapped to hers.

Eli’s attention, too, fell onto her. “What do you mean, Yui?”

The Archangel let out a vicious snarl. “Don’t.” 

The Siren’s attention shifted sharply between the two, her expression growing ashen. “I just know what they told me,” she squeaked, shifting until she was practically sunken into the bed.

“Which was?”

“Don’t tell her.” 

Yui frowned, her lips pushed out into a pout. “She’s going to find out eventually.” 

“No. She isn’t.”

“I’m going to tell her. Whether you’re here or not,” Yui shrugged. 

Gunner stared reproachfully at her, his eyes widening in disbelief. “It’s none of your business.”

“It is, though,” Eli interjected, not liking the hardness in his gaze as he looked upon Yui. “You brought us here to get Yui help and didn’t indicate that there was a reason you wouldn’t be wanted back. We could have been attacked. Or killed.”

“Well, you weren’t.”

“We weren’t, but things could have gone a lot differently.”

Yui slapped her palms onto her thighs. “Enough!” She stage-whispered. “You two are the absolute worst. You have to stop arguing. Or so help me.”

Temporarily cowed, their attention shifted to the floor beneath them.

“Gunner was exiled because he murdered someone. I mean. Someones. Plural.”

Eli’s mouth made a perfect circle. “Is that all?”

“‘Is that all?’” Gunner snorted. “Seriously?”

“Are you forgetting where I came from?” 

“It was a bit harsher than run-of-the-mill murder,” Yui clarified. 

“Ah, so are we talking some serial killer shit?”

Archangel fixed her with a reproachful glare. “Can you please just leave it?”

“To be fair, he had his reasons.”

Eli folded her arms around her middle, glib as she kicked her feet onto the edge of Yui’s bed. “Oh, good. I love a justifiable murder.” 

“They killed my sister.”

Eli balked, her legs falling with a dull thud as she leaned forward. “They?”

“A whole village,” Yui whispered.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” 

“Holy shit,” Eli said, staring wide-eyed at him. “You razed the village?”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it.”

Eli threw her hands up, her head shaking from side to side. “Fine. Fine. We don’t have to talk about it now. But…”

“No ‘buts.’ It’s none of your—” 

“It’s none of my what?”

“Shh!” Gunner stood abruptly, darting for the tent flap to stick his head outside. Through the ceiling, Eli could see something happening. Colors flickered and faltered overhead, casting the town in a tidal wave of changing colors. 

“Gunner?” Yui squeaked, slipping out of bed. She moved gingerly, padding silently to his side. “What’s going on?”

“The perimeter alarm is going off,” he growled. “We’ve been found.”

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