Brittany was speechless.
For several moments, the only sound between the two was their unsteady breathing and the sound of the tires eating up the miles on the highway towards the house. She swallowed, licking her lips as she tried to formulate something to say in response to what he'd said.
"…you're…an alien." She finally settled on, intentionally keeping her eyes on the road so they didn't drift to the man sitting beside her. Suddenly she could feel every hair on the back of her arms, a strange tingle running up her spine as the brunt of his words finally sunk in. She gave a humorless laugh. "You've got to be kidding me."
"I assure you, I speak the truth." He glared at the woman, knowing by the small shake of her head and the breathless laugh that she didn't believe him in the slightest. He internally sighed, wondering how Lexi's world accomplished anything with everyone's narrow-mindedness.
"Right, let me get this straight…you're telling me that you're some pirate in a make believe land," She waved her fingers in the air childishly, "and that you are best friends with a talking kung fu polar bear, and that you have magical powers that allow you to do super cool stuff in a blue bubble."
A sidelong glance confirmed that she was grinning in amusement, obviously finding this whole thing rather humorous. He cleared his throat, crossing his arms.
"I don't quite see what you find so funny." His dark tone indicated he would not be laughed out any longer. Brittany stopped her audible laughter, but if the shake in her belly and the still-present grin were anything to go by, she was still laughing on the inside.
"Oh, just the fact that I now know why Lexi was so hesitant to get with you." He raised a brow in surprise. "You're a total nutcase. Belong in a mental institute."
They finally arrived at Lexi's street, turning down the road and heading towards the house. Once they were close, Brittany slowed the truck and turned into the driveway, cutting the lights once they'd come to a complete stop. She cut the engine and got out of the driver's seat, and instantly she tried opening the backdoor to try reaching her bag. Law, however, was prepared for this. Not having gotten out yet, he turned in his seat and snatched up her purse, holding it out of her reach as he exited the vehicle from the other side.
Brittany huffed, eyes narrowing as he walked around the truck and smirked at her. "A valiant attempt, Brittany-ya."
"Bastard." She muttered, walking up towards the house. From the windows inside, she saw Shachi and Penguin peeking through. They opened the door once they came onto the porch.
"Captain! Is everything alright?" Penguin questioned.
"Where's Lexi-chan? And her grandmother?" His friend inquired, looking around behind them for any sign of the brunette or the older woman. Pushing past the two, Law walked into the house and immediately went to the closet. The others finally entered back into the house, closing the door behind them.
"Lexi's grandmother died at the hospital." Brittany said softly, and the two men looked to the floor.
"Oh…I'm really sorry, Brittany-chan." Penguin rubbed the back of his head, while Shachi dug the toe of his shoe into the tile.
Law's perusing of the closet caused several bumps and thumps, and finally he withdrew a long black and white object. Her eyes widened when she realized what it was, taking a step away from him.
"Lexi-ya has been taken by that murderer." Law explained matter-of-factly, facing his two friends. "We are going back out to find her and bring her back."
At the mention of their host in danger, their solemn expressions cleared up just as suddenly as they'd appeared. Backs straight and chins up, they were looked decidedly angrier than before.
"That bastard! We'll show him who's friend to mess with!"
"Just wait until I get my hands on him!"
Staring at the two, she felt a jolt of gratefulness pass through her. She wasn't alone in all this. She wasn't the only one grieving the disappearance of her friend, and she wasn't the only one set out to find her, seeing as Law wouldn't allow her to contact the police. She was still pissed-off about that, in fact, she was livid, but it was nice to know that at least these two truly cared about Lexi.
Law turned to his men and pointed towards the living room. "See what useful supplies you can find in the basement. Shachi-ya, go find any firearms you can to bring with us. I don't want to take any risks."
"Yes, Captain!" The two scurried away to do as they were told, practically tumbling over each other in their haste.
Law then unsheathed his sword, and Brittany's eyes were drawn to it's sheer length. Much longer than any other stereotypical sword she'd seen in her life, her curiosity was quickly dashed by the intense fear at the sight of him brandishing it like it was a twig, as if it weighed nothing.
He inspected the blade, finally nodding in satisfaction before returning it to the black and white crossed sheath. Then, he turned to the stairs. "Bepo!" He called, and Brittany frowned.
A door upstairs opened, and something heavy began down the stairs. Blocked so far by a wall, she was startled to hear a voice.
Something white and orange rounded the bend in the stairs, and very…furry. Eyes widening she watched as an orange-jumpsuit-clad polar bear sauntered down the steps with purpose, coming to attention in front of Law.
"I'll need you to track Lexi-ya's scent. You'll be coming with us." The bear raised a hand in salute.
Law turned to Brittany, who held the keys for the truck. Seeing her shocked expression at the sight of Bepo, who cocked his head at her curiously, he smirked. Deciding that introductions were in order, he gestured to the woman.
"Bepo, this is Brittany-ya, Lexi-ya's friend." The bear walked forward, but Brittany took several steps back, staring up in terror at the bear's face. He leaned down and sniffed her, and she whimpered aloud.
"D-don't!" She cried, and he straightened up again.
"…I'm sorry…" He slumped in depression, a darkening aura surrounding him. Shachi and Penguin sweatdropped, still in disbelief at the bear's sensitivity. When he spoke, she froze up, her mind still unable to process what was going on. Law walked up beside his first mate, laying a hand on Bepo's arm.
"You…y-you…" She raised a shaky finger, pointing limply up at the bear.
"As you can see, not quite all of my story was make-believe, as you so blatantly put it." He practically purred, watching her face with interest. He quite enjoyed this blatant fear in her eyes.
It took several moments of open-mouthed horror for Brittany to really begin to understand what was going on. Law watched her force a deep breath, an attempt to get her rapidly-beating heart in check. The black-haired woman blinked several times. And then, with a shake of her head, she let out a huff.
"The longer we stand here the longer Lexi is in the hands of that murderer, so let's go." Then, promptly turning on her heel she opened the front door and walked out again, not bothering to wait and see if the others were following.
Smirking again, Law followed, knowing that the others would return once their tasks were complete, satisfied that he'd come out on top. Now, the only task left was to find Lexi. And when they did, he'd be sure to give this murderer Law's personal regards. His fingers tightened around the sheath of his nodachi, a grin slowly growing on his face.
"…and get your love. Come and get your love! Come and get your love!…Hey, hey…what's the matter with your feel right…" Slowly, the sound of music floated in and out of her consciousness, the lyrics making no sense to her as she hadn't quite gained her cognitive ability back yet. The next thing that registered was the pain at the back of her head.
"Ugh…" Lexi groaned, rolling her neck slowly from the slumped position against her chest. It was difficult to breathe. Her eyes cracked open, the painful sensation at the back of her head causing her to close them once more. She tried opening her mouth but found that something prevented her from doing so.
"Ah, you're finally awake!" A voice said somewhere in front of her. Head jerked upwards to try to pinpoint the source of the voice, she let out another muffled groan when the movement caused a spike in the pain in her head. She wouldn't be doing that again.
Something metal stopped her hands from reaching her head, and she experimentally pulled at them again, hearing the clink of chains behind her back. As the fog from being unconscious slowly wore away, the panic and fear began to set in. Her legs were chained too, she quickly discovered.
She sucked in a breath, or at least tried to, but failed when she finally registered the tape across her mouth. Instead, she sucked it in through her nose, and whoever had spoken chuckle a little. But she was much too terrified to open her eyes.
"Aww, the poor thing is terrified. I guess I should have expected that though." It became apparent that whoever was there was a man, and then she remembered what had happened in front of the hospital. Lexi's body tensed up.
A hand appeared on her face, tipping her chin upwards. Fearfully, she jerked it away, only for the hand to grip it tighter, preventing her from moving.
"Open your eyes, my dear. Look me in the face." His voice purred, just as soft as the song in the background. The heated breath of her kidnapper could be felt on her face. Contrary to what she had expected, his breath smelled minty and fresh, not like the gross and disgusting smell she'd would have attributed to him.
Shaky breaths escaping through her nose, she somehow found the courage to open her eyes, taking in the amused grin of the brown-haired man. He tilted his head, searching her eyes.
"See? Isn't that a bit better?" He leaned forward then, and she leaned back as far as she could, but his cold lips still pressed a gentle kiss against her forehead, mimicking the way Law's had in her moment of grief.
'Law…' She immediately thought, missing that confident smirk and the presence that always made her feel so safe…She wished he was there now, instead of this unknown man.
His mouth lingered there longer than appropriate, and she whimpered at the feeling, but he ultimately pulled back without any other action. His hand finally leaving her chin, he backed up and stood, wandering over to a table on the side of the room.
While he was busy with something else, she frantically searched the room, trying to figure out where she was. It was a basement, that much was obvious. The concrete floor and brick walls that smelled like mildew made that frankly apparent. There were no windows, and the only light source appeared to be a single lightbulb above her, the long string dangling within a foot or so of her head.
"Tell me, Lexi." The man started again, finished whatever he was doing and walking back over to her. He brandished a large kitchen knife in one hand, idly twirling it in between his hands. Her eyes widened, watching as the blade reflected the light from above, glinting dangerously before her very eyes.
The man pulled a chair nearby closer, sitting directly across from her. Lexi swallowed thickly behind the tape, eyes never leaving the weapon in his hand. He continued to spin the knife, eyes inspecting the blade with interest.
"Do you know who I am?" He asked quietly, eyes finally staring into hers with an intensity she could only imagine possible with Law. But those blue-green eyes of his held no hidden warmth, or teasing nature. These ones held a cold fury, a twisted mind, and an insanity that terrified her to the very core. She'd never seen someone so emotionally detached and uncaring as this man before her.
Remembering his question, she shook her head. In response, he sighed dramatically.
"Hmm…that is very unfortunate. I don't appreciate being lied to." He whispered. Tilting his head, he leaned forward with the knife, reaching towards the pants at her thigh.
'No!' She thought loudly, only able to cry out in a muffled whimper, shrinking into the chair as he lowered the tip of the knife to her leg, about three quarters up her thigh. He held the knife vertically, slowly pushing the blade into the jean material, until it poked through, stopping short of piercing her in the leg.
"Mmph! Mmmmm…" She cried, her panic edging over the clarity in her mind as she heard the sound of her pants being cut. Delicately, the man sawed a horizontal line through her jeans carefully so as not to cut her skin, down the side of her thigh and as far to the back of her leg as he could, then, unable to reach and further, he returned the knife to the starting point and went the opposite direction, meeting the two cuts at the back.
"The more you struggle, the more it'll hurt." He 'tsk'ed, eyes concentrating on his task. Then, he began cutting down her ruined pants leg, opening it down the front until he reached the very bottom, having to crouch down to the floor for the rest. She resisted the urge to kick him, knowing that knife was still held tightly in his hands. And he looked as if he was willing to use it.
Finally cutting it all the way open, he was able to pull the material from her body, leaving her one leg in nothing but improvised shorts. Then, he did the same for the other leg, Lexi trying to cry out the whole time.
As he discarded the second half, Lexi looked down at her now bare thighs, feeling her whole body trembling. His purpose for ruining her jeans was still unknown, and not knowing what was happening was just as frightening as what was actually happening. He returned his attention to her one more, sitting down in the chair.
"Now, let's try this one more time." His soft voice drew her attention. Eyes hard, he positioned the knife above her leg once more. "Do you know who I am?"
Air being pushed and pulled rapidly through her nose, she slowly shook her head, not knowing what this man wanted. Behind her back, she clenched her fists, tensing her body to prepare for whatever pain would come. The cunning look in his eye disappeared, and in its place was that cold fury again.
"LIAR!" He shouted into her face, taking the knife and slashing it across the exposed skin of her thigh.
"MMMMM!" Lexi tried crying out. Her screams obscured the quiet music playing in the background. Her legs squirmed at the intense burning line, hot blood beginning to pour out from the wound. It dripped to either side of her leg, plopping to the concrete floor. Her body twitched, writhing in the wooden chair, the legs of her seat squealing in protest. Tears immediately filled her eyes, sliding down the side of her face on either side of the tape.
The man breathed in a large breath, finally releasing it with an audible 'Ahhhh.' "As much as I enjoy hearing you scream, my dear, I do also like hearing the truth." Her quiet sobs broke through his sentence, with her shaking her head back and forth, over and over, wishing this would all just stop.
He brought the knife back over her skin. "Who am I?" He repeated, holding her gaze. She looked away, knowing that she had never seen this man before in her life. And that was most terrifying.
"Mm dmnm nmm." Her strangled 'I don't know' came out muffled and wrong, but it was the best she could do given the circumstances. Either way, he seemed to understand her meaning. He gave a tired sigh, but grinned nonetheless.
"No, Lexi. Wrong again." The blade slid across her skin once more, this time slower and more pronounced, and she screamed behind the tape. He watched as the blood seeped down her leg and to the floor, the red liquid staining the edge of his blade. Holding up the blade, he inspected it in the light, a few drops dripping from the tip onto the floor. Her screams slowly died away but she simply began crying harder, her whole body shaking from fear and her sobs.
"I do so love your screams. I wonder what they sound like unhindered." He mused aloud excitedly, eyes glazed over as he imagined it in his head. Feeling like she'd become too quiet for his liking, he positioned the knife once more.
"Why don't we try again, shall we?"
Before they'd officially left the house, everyone had found flashlights in the basement. Seeing as they were going to be trekking through the dark, these were essential, and Law had both of his men check them all before setting out.
Brittany was still rather shell-shocked, her gaze looking haunted and distant. At least she was still concentrating on driving, instead of running them into a side ditch on either side of the highway. There wasn't much conversation, though. He was content with that. Though, Shachi and Penguin were discussing ways they were going to kill or maim the murderer in the back seat.
Bepo, of course, couldn't fit in the cab of the truck and so he was forced to take up the bed in the back. Thankfully there was no one else around at that time of night, so there wasn't any risk of him being seen.
Brittany drove straight back to the location they had last seen the murderer's car, but this time they went past the point of where they'd turned around, having lost him the first time. The open meadows on either side of the road slowly turned into the heavy forest, tall shadows of trees surrounding them. As agreed upon, they would stop every mile or so, get out and search the woods, just in case there was some sign of the brunette.
They passed a mile marker and Brittany made the decision to stop for the first time. She left the lights of the truck on, in case Lexi somehow stumbled upon it she would have light to see by. Taking their flashlights, and Penguin and Shachi carrying a pistol and rifle with subsequent ammo, they exited the truck and convened in the light of the headlights.
"Brittany-ya and I will take the left side of the forest. I want you two to take the right." He gestured to the opposite side, and the two engineers nodded, tightening their holds on their weapons. Brittany, still unsure of what was really happening, didn't question or make vocal her inane fear. "Bepo, you're with us. I want you to try to track down her scent."
"Yes, Captain!" He saluted again, sniffing the air experimentally. Looking to Brittany, he nodded, and she stepped forward, tugging something out of her pocket. She held out a small phone to Shachi, and he glanced up quizzically.
"It was Nana's cellphone, we'll use it to keep in touch. Law has mine." Giving a criticizing glance at the man, he only raised a brow. Apparently, he still didn't trust her not to call the police. Not that it mattered now.
After she briefly explained how to get into and call her cellphone number, she stepped away, watching as Shachi stuffed it into his pocket. "If you find Lexi, make sure she's safe and call us. We'll meet up with you."
"You have your orders." Law nodded, and the two friends trotted off into the woods, their flashlights switching on. He trusted they'd remain safe.
Without another word, Law set off in the opposite direction, flicking on his own flashlight. Brittany and Bepo followed suit, though she made sure to keep a wide berth from the bear, still not fully trusting him not to bite her face off.
She gave a hopeless sigh, turning on her flashlight and directing it between the trees.
'Please,' she thought, 'let her be alright.'
"MMMPH! MMM!" She cried, feeling the stinging bite of the knife slice across her skin, though the oozing blood was barely distinguishable from that of the dozens of other knife cuts on both of her legs, ranging anywhere from a few inches above her ankles to right below the line he'd cut in her pants, and varying in size and direction. Below the chair was a rapidly-growing pool of her dark red blood, dripping down onto the floor and some into the tops of her tennis shoes.
The flow of tears had left her face feeling wet and sticky, as the old ones dried and the new ones streaked through their paths.
Her muscles were sore from the awkward positioning on the chair. Adrenaline had eased some of the pain but left her body feeling weak, the shaking becoming more pronounced as time went on. Fighting back the urge to pass out, because who knew what this monster would do if she lost consciousness, she bit the inside of her cheek.
"While I admire your tolerance of pain, this is becoming old rather quickly." The man admitted, a tired sigh escaping his lips. Placing the knife coated in her blood onto his lap, he reached over and held the edge of the duct tape covering her mouth with two fingers, aggressively yanking the strip from her face with a loud Riipp!
She moaned in pain, finally able to breathe probably, sucking in precious breaths to fill her lungs. Her sobbing was loud and unhindered now, and her face stung from the harshly-removed tape.
"P-please…I don't know what you want…" She sobbed, closing her eyes to the pain flooding her legs. He chuckled then, leaning forward towards her face. Too weak to pull away from the hand that gripped her throat, Lexi was force to look closely into his eyes, coming ever closer to her.
"Oh, Lexi. Isn't it obvious? I want you." He answered, bringing his lips down onto hers without warning. He crushed their mouths together. He pulled away at her whimpers and cries, tilting his head in curiosity. "Isn't this what he did to you? Pulled you close and kissed the pain away?"
Deep in her fuzzy, panic-overloaded brain, she wondered if he were talking about Cooper, or Law. Either way she didn't like the implications. Feeling a bit more courageous, she yanked her face away from his, pulling out of his grip on her chin.
"Don't touch me!" She spit, glaring steadily at the man. He looked shocked, almost taken aback by her accusation.
"Oh, I'm not going to touch you. I would never." He scowled, eyes distant as if seeing or recalling something else. "No one should be able to touch you like that bastard. Cooper." The venom in his voice was genuine, that much she could tell. He hated the man.
"My dear, I'm not going to touch you like that filthy pig of a man did." He gently brushed a stray hair from her face, but she pulled away. "I'm only going to kill you."
Her eyes widened. Inwardly, she already knew that, but to hear him say it directly and with such a sweet tone of voice, it was…horrifying.
"But first," He leaned away, picking up the knife once more, "I need you to tell me who I am. I'd rather not play this game all night, but if you so insist…" He let the sentence hang, trailing the tip of the knife graze over her previous wounds. They stung, and she winced in pain.
"I…really don't know who you are! I've never seen you before in my life!" She tried getting that point across to him. She expected him to feel the blade glide across another unscathed portion of her skin again, but he only sighed.
"Hmm…" He thought, tapping a finger onto his thigh. "Perhaps it would help for me to give you a hint. Or, rather, a story."
She only watched him, afraid of speaking and sparking his anger again. Pausing for several moments as he pondered this information, he suddenly smiled.
"It was a dark and stormy evening, and my father and I were driving home from the movies." He leaned his head on his hand, recalling the memories. "My father, the kind man that he was, had bought me an ice cream cone. I sat in the back seat eating it, completely content with my 12-year-old life. Everything was happy and cheerful. He played his old music on the radio, singing to the songs he knew, smiling all the while.
"But then, I was jerked against the seatbelt as we slammed into something hard. I couldn't cry, because my breath had been stolen away. Naturally, I'd let go of my ice cream cone, and it was on the floor, melting. I went to tell my father what had happened, but when I looked up, I could tell something was wrong."
Lexi's eyes widened, feeling as if she knew where this was going. This couldn't be happening…He couldn't possibly be…
"No matter how many times I called out to him, he didn't answer. He wouldn't look up, and there was red all over the inside of the windshield. Then, after a long time, someone took me out of the car, and I came to the realization that we'd hit a car. Or, more accurately," He paused, sending an accusing glance her way, "another car had hit us."
He leaned forward then, eyes wild. "So, my dear Lexi, is that enough of a hint for you?"
Her mouth suddenly very dry, she tried to swallow but failed, feeling it catch in her throat. Flashes of memories from years ago filtered through her mind. News articles, news reports, conversations between Nana and reporters…they all came back. As did one aspect of the entire event that had slipped her mind for all those years.
A single name. A young boy. A survivor.
"…Logan…" She breathed out, glancing between his eyes as if trying to disprove that it was. But he smiled wider, stepping away.
"I told you, you knew who I was all along! You just didn't realize it!" He waltzed around eagerly, finally satisfied that she'd answered the question. However in his elated celebration, he still kept hold of the knife, flashing in the light from above.
"What do you want from me?" She yelled, drawing his attention once more. He skipped around the back of her chair, placing his hands on either side of her face. Logan chuckled, and Lexi felt the warm breath at the back of her neck. She shivered at the feeling.
"What I want, Lexi, is for us to die together." He whispered. "I want to die with you, just like fate would have wanted us to that day so many years ago."
"Y-you're crazy." Her voice wavered, eyes darting around the room in fear. Logan remained behind her, though.
"Think about it! The accident happened on the Summer Solstice, a precious day in many religious beliefs. And more than one culture would offer sacrifices to the gods. Surely that is a sign!" He yelled, finally letting go of the chair and returning to walk in front of her. Again, he was wearing that unhinged grin with wide eyes. "Your parents and my father were those sacrifices! And now, you and I will take that place, as we were destined to that day! You, see Lexi, it was fate that brought us together, and it shall be fate that dictates our deaths tomorrow."
"T-tomorrow?" She whimpered, watching as he moved over to the table and picked up a rag. He wiped the knife clean, giggling madly as he watched the bright red stains appear on the white cloth.
"Why, of course! Our deaths have to be on the summer solstice!" Once the blade was cleaned, he returned to crouching in front of her, his sick smile in place. "And while I'm overjoyed to be dying with you, Lexi, this is also a bit of revenge for me as well. You see, because of you," He pointed the sharp end of the blade at her face, "my kind father, the only person to ever truly love me, was taken away."
He gripped the base of her throat then, squeezing, bringing the knife point to rest underneath her chin. She gasped for breath, watching as he gritted his teeth with barely-restrained fury. He closed his eyes, forcibly removing his hand from her neck. She breathed deeply to replenish the lost air.
"But I will bide my time. I will kill us both as fate planned it out. The anniversary of our parents' deaths, and what will quickly be ours as well." He resumed his sadistic smile, finally standing.
"Trust me, I do want to spend more time with you like this," His gaze flitted over the multiple lacerations on her legs, "but you and I have a rather important day tomorrow, and we both must get our rest."
With one more casual grin, he reached above her and turned off the light, plunging Lexi's prison into darkness. It took several moments for her eyes to adjust but by that time he'd already moved to the stairs to go back up.
"Sleep well tonight, my dear, as it will be your last."
Logan chuckled, climbing the steps and pulling the string to the other lightbulb, closing the door behind him. And Lexi was left alone, bleeding, crying, and wincing at the pain, in complete darkness.ns 220.127.116.11da2