Escaping the Devil: Chapter Thirty-Four

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CONTENT WARNING

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.


“So, no one even knows you’re gone?” Gunner pressed, testing the meat in their cooking fire. 

“Yup,” Eli shrugged, wiggling her rear into the ground, hoping to find a more comfortable position.

“He’s always been a prideful prick,” Yui explained, shrugging lopsidedly. With a sigh, she flopped next to Eli. “And he’s a bit of a hack. I’m sure he doesn’t want anyone knowing that he was—”

“So inept.”

“Yeah, that,” Yui pointed at Eli, nodding emphatically. 

Gunner rolled his eyes as he turned their sausages over in the pan. “Everyone knows he’s a brat. He only has what he does because of his daddy. It’s been the talk of Vegas for as long as I’ve been around that.”

“You’re not wrong,” Eli said, twisting in place. She grimaced, feeling a dull throb rock its way up her spine. 

Yui pulled a sympathetic expression as she reached for her, kneading her fingers into the taut muscles. 

“That’s for the best, though,” Eli said after a long moment’s silence. “Hopefully, he lets his pride hold out for a bit longer. At least, until we can disappear fully.”

“We really fucked him over by getting rid of that tracker,” Gunner said, his eyes darting to Yui.

The Siren grazed her fingertips over her throat self-consciously. She nodded but offered no response. 

“That still begs the question of how they found us at Serenity.” 

“I’m willing to bet it was a snitch,” Gunner growled.

Eli’s brows lifted, her brow furrowing in consternation. “Do you really think so?”

He gritted his teeth and nodded. “I know how that place looks, but trust me when I say nothing is how it appears.”

“Do you want to elaborate on that?”

“No.” He unceremoniously dropped their dinner into cheap styrofoam plates. Then, still scowling, he doled out their meals, completed with plastic bags filled with knock-off brand “cheese-flavored” chips. 

Yui poked at the sausage, wincing when it burned her. Pouting, she set the plate down on her knees and watched it as if it would cool from her gaze. “You never did give us the full story of what happened?”

Gunner’s mouth pinched into a thin line. “It’s because I didn’t want to.”

The Siren frowned, her head tilting slightly to the side as if listening to something on the wind. They lingered in uneasy quiet.

Eli didn’t much care about it now that they were out of Serenity. Gunner was entitled to his secrets. But Yui seemed to feel differently. Perhaps, because of the bond she had formed with her caretakers during her time in the village. 

“It’s…” Yui started, her voice dying in her throat.

The quiet spread. Cancerous.

“It’s not fair that you know so much about us, and we know nothing about you.”

Gunner frowned — an expression he carefully concealed by standing and fetching beer for the trio. “You think you’re entitled to know about my life before I met you? Because of what? Because I know what’s happened in your lives?”

“Yes,” Yui grumbled, her chin lifting defiantly. “After everything we’ve been through together, it sucks that your walls are still up with us.”

The Shifter let out an unkind laugh as he shook his head. “I don’t know what you thought this was, but it was never in my contract to… bond with you two.”

“But you did,” she protested hotly. “You did. I know you did.”

“Do you?”

“Yui,” Eli shook her head, reaching for her hand. 

The Siren refused to be deterred. “You’re acting all big and bad because you’re afraid to let people in. But I know you like us. You wouldn’t have done any of the stuff you did if you didn’t.” 

Gunner paused, his tongue tracing a visible path inside his cheek. The silence was reborn, a poisonous fog over their campsite. “You two hired me to do a job. I’m here because I’m being paid. Don’t confuse that with affection.”

Yui’s face fell, the hurt in her eyes shining in the firelight.

“Yui—”

Eli reached for her half a second too late. The Siren was on her feet before she could stop her. Abandoning her dinner, she disappeared into the backseat of her car. 

Eli sighed, watching as the door slammed shut behind Yui. “Remember when you were lecturing me about treating her like shit?”

“Remember when you used to mind your own fucking business?”

Eli chuckled, taking the first bite of their overcooked supper. “You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to,” she said after a long moment’s consideration. “Fuck knows, I wouldn’t share shit with anyone if I can help it. But… Is it really such a bad thing to admit that you actually like us?” 

Their eyes met. Gunner’s dour expression shifted into amusement. “No,” he conceded after a long moment’s silence. “But I don’t do that sharing shit. None of that… touchy-feely whatever.” 

“Neither do I.”

He grunted. “You do with Yui.”

“She’s different.” 

Gunner paused, his gaze drifting to the place she disappeared. “She is.” 

They sat in peaceful silence, both tearing at the charred meat with their plastic utensils. 

“You can stay with us,” Eli said, her voice barely above a whisper. “If you want. When we get there.”

They stared at each other, his fork walking tine by tine across the porous surface. “Thanks.” 

“I can get it if you don’t want to. We have definitely been up each other’s asses for too long already. But,” she paused, exhaling slowly, hardly believing what she was saying. “It might be something to consider. Y’know. Sticking together.”

“Are you going to say some sentimental shit like ‘we’re family’ or whatever?” 

Eli made a gagged sound in response. “No. Definitely not. But,” she shrugged, her lip wedged between her teeth. “Just think about it.”

He chuckled, shaking his head. “I don’t know if I can deal with being interrogated about my feelings.”

“Don’t worry,” — she waved a dismissive hand — “eventually, Yui will realize you don’t have any.” 

They, for the first time since their journey began, laughed. Sincerely laughed. And it felt good.

They were coming home. A pang filled her chest when she realized that she was so close to Aria. 

I hope it wasn’t for nothing.




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