At first, there were a few times Lexi heard Logan calling out her name with a deranged laugh, tromping through the brush angrily. After awhile, however, she could no longer hear anything besides the downpour of rain and the splashing of water against the cave's entrance.
She gained her breath back, resting inside the mouth of the cave, but now found it practically impossible to move a single limb. The burnout from running and the excess of adrenaline coursing through her body all night had taken its toll. Even shifting in place ached something fierce.
Her pants of fatigue had quieted down to ragged breaths, her lungs still burning in her chest. Whole body soaked thoroughly, the water began to chill as the cooler air within the cave began to settle. Unable to feel her fingers or toes to any extent, she simply waited for either Law and his group, or Logan, to finally find her.
Eyes closing, her hands skimmed a few inches around beside her for the fishing knife, closing her hand over the grip once more, as that last thought penetrated her tired mind. Logan. If he was the one who found her first, she'd at least attempt to get a stab in before he killed her.
Vision swimming, she allowed her head to loll to the side. Her injuries and the prolonged blood loss were the most worrying part. While she never really got a good look at how large the puddle of her blood in the basement had become, she knew that humans could only survive 2 or 3 pints of blood loss in the worst conditions. She'd easily lost at least 1 pint, looking down at all of the numerous cuts. She just hoped it wasn't too much more than that.
Because if they couldn't get her to the hospital for treatment soon, she my just bleed out in this very cave.
Outside, she heard the familiar snapping of branches and the crunch of shoes. With the darkness in the cave and the ever-flowing curtain of water blocking the entrance, she couldn't make out shapes or figures very well. Was it Law or Logan? Lexi couldn't tell. Swallowing thickly, the rational part of her brain concluded that it was better to be prepared for the worst, instead of mistake her would-be killer as a friend.
Then, she saw the figure move in front of the cave, running straight for the entrance. It was a man, that was for sure. It wasn't Brittany. Whoever it was was much taller than her friend.
Swallowing thickly, she prepared for whoever may walk through the entrance, holding the small knife up at the ready.
Law ahead of the rest of the group, he rounded the last corner and spotted the familiar-looking cave up ahead. The same one his men had stumbled out of in confusion, rain pouring down and soaking them to the bone. Sword leaning against his shoulder, he glanced around for any sign of Lexi but found none. There was no one around. Perhaps they'd gotten there first.
Panting from their jog through the forest, he directed his attention to the ground, searching the area for any footprints or signs of someone having been there. The river's flow was faster than when Lexi had brought them to look around for a way back home, the rain rising the water level. It obscured one section of the path, but a part still remained in tact, though excessively muddy.
Peering around, he spotted three prints running towards the mouth of the cave. The rain hadn't yet washed them away, so they couldn't have been too old. Widening his search, he also found another set of prints, these ones much larger in size than the others, running perpendicular off to the left. The man who'd taken her must be close as well.
Deciding to follow the smaller prints, Law's eyes rose up to see the mouth of the cave covered by a waterfall, cascading over the entrance and carving a path back into the river flow. He unsheathed his sword, holding it out at the ready in case the man had managed to loop around and find his way there, hiding in wait.
Edging closer to the cave, he pushed past the water and stepped inside. Then, his instincts kicked in, causing him to jump back, barely dodging the small knife swipe aimed at his legs. Brandishing his sword, he stepped in again, pointing it towards whoever had attacked him. In the darkness it was hard, to see, but he squinted to get a better look.
"L-Law?" A hoarse feminine voice cried. He sheathed his sword, dropping besides the woman leaning against the wall in the next instant and letting his sword fall to the side with a clatter.
"I-" She started sobbing, letting the knife fall from her pale hands. "I thought you were him."
"It's alright, Lexi-ya." He reassured, kneeling close enough to allow the tired brunette to hold him close. He wrapped a hand gently around her head, pulling her closer to his chest. My god, she was freezing. Her skin was like ice under his touch. Feeling her small figure shake within his arms, he brushed strands of wet hair out of her face, too soaked to feel the tears that she cried into his hoodie.
Feeling his knees begin to ache, he shifted position, but stopping when Lexi let out a choked cry of pain. He released her, looking down where his knee had touched.
Her legs were shredded, cuts running vertically all along the exposed skin of her calves and thighs. They bled all over, and Law's eyes widened. His trained medical eye, inspecting the cuts critically, he turned back to her. "Did you run through the forest like this?"
She shook her head, looking over to her left. "I tied those around my legs to protect them." He followed her gaze, spotting two white and red towels wrapped in duct tape lying a feet few away, sopping wet. They were more red than white, a testament to the amount of blood she'd already lost. Directly behind his clinical worry about the possibility of her bleeding out was the intense anger building up. He didn't quite like others thinking they could touch or hurt those he considered friends. Especially his crew. And since he'd extended the offer to the brunette, she was warranted the same respect and protection.
"I've lost…a lot of blood." She admitted, closing her eyes tiredly. "Everything feels cold." With Law here she felt infinitely safer, and the urge to sleep rose up from the recesses. Feeling a hand on her cheek, she opened them again, peering into Law's concerned face.
"As a medical student you should know that sleeping at a time like this would not be wise." She sighed, feeling the tiny bit of warmth that his hand provided her.
"I know…it's just so hard…I ran so far…" She coughed, the action making her spasm.
"Then rest, but don't sleep. The others aren't too far behind." He said softly, brushing his thumb across her cheekbone. Sitting her beside her, he felt an immense relief flood through his body, finally finding her safe. Well, at least not dead. She was still in danger of bleeding out. Pulling away from her, he lifted the wet hoodie above his head, exposing his tattooed chest in the cold air. It hadn't really been providing any essential body heat anyways. Law didn't need it. He twisted the material to get as much moisture out of it as possible, before laying it across her legs to cover them.
Lexi seemed to remember something important then, and her eyes shot open, body tense. "Logan is still out there somewhere. He's got a knife."
"I know. As soon as the others arrive, I'm going after him." He finished, staring out the water falling over the entrance of the cave, watching for movement.
"He's crazy…Be careful." She muttered, pushing past the pain in her muscles to reach for his hand. It rested on the rock floor a few inches from her, and she managed to press her cold fingers to his, drawing his attention back up to her. She only smiled gratefully.
Strangely caught by her gaze, he couldn't look away. Her eyes were alight, though obviously tired, as she looked to him. Voices coming from outside forced his attention to the noise, seeing as several figures and an orange and white mass made their way into the clearing. Law stood, Lexi's fingers sliding off from his as moved to the entrance again.
"In here!" He called, standing halfway out of the curtain of water and waving a hand, gaining their attention. Brittany was the first to pass through the entrance, eyes scanning the inside until she found Lexi.
"Oh my god I thought you were dead!" She cried, tossing her flashlight to the side and dropping to her knees, catching her friend in a tight embrace. A stream of unintelligible words erupted from the black-haired woman's mouth, interrupted only by her gasps of air and choked sobs. The brunette, too tired to protest that she was squeezing too hard, simply accepted the gesture, struggling to breathe.
Shachi, Penguin, and Bepo all passed under the water, greeting Lexi with relieved smiles and words of support. She nodded slowly, her eyes becoming heavier by the second. Law, twisting and wringing out his hat, turned to his men, suddenly all business.
"Shachi-ya, I want you to stay here and guard these two." He pointed towards the women, and the engineer nodded. "Penguin-ya, Bepo and I will track down Logan-ya."
"Oh, hell no." Brittany suddenly rose, crossing her arms. "I'm going with you to take this bastard down so I can give him a piece of my mind." She snarled, daring Law to disagree with her glare alone. The pirate regarded her cooly.
"So you'll leave your friend wounded in a cold, dark cave?" He shot back, seeing her moment of hesitation. It was low of him, but he'd rather deal with Logan on his own, without the presence of a woman who may find what he intended to do to him inhumane or disgusting.
"Law." Lexi called softly, and he turned to her sitting figure. "Let her go. It's alright."
It seemed she had registered his reason for doubt. Lexi gave a little grin, probably quite aware of the things he'd do to the man who'd cut her legs to shreds. Glancing between the two women, he eventually nodded, and Lexi spoke up again.
"Brittany, take this knife." She pointed towards the long and thin blade she'd almost sliced Law with, and Brittany stooped down to pick it up. "It's not much but it's all I have."
"It'll do. I'm sure I'll put it to good use." She grinned wickedly, all sorts of fitting punishments dancing through her head.
Law went to place his hat on his head, but hesitated, watching as Lexi's hands fidgeted from worry and the last vestiges of her fear. The woman was terrified, probably of something bad happening to them, though that was unlikely. Still, she'd probably sit there and fret until they returned. Sighing gently, he walked over and placed the hat onto her wet hair, surprising her. She pushed the fuzzy brim up to look at him through wide eyes.
"What-" She started, but he was already walking back to the entrance, stooping to pick up his abandoned sword from the rock floor.
"Let's get going. Bepo, see if you can track his scent." He ordered the bear, walking out into the rain with Brittany and Penguin trailing behind. Shachi watched his friends and Brittany leave, crossing over from the other side of the cave to sit beside the injured Lexi.
"Hey, you must be pretty important to Captain if he gave you his hat!" The engineer grinned, checking the pistol he'd taken from the house to be sure it was still fully loaded.
"Why?" She asked meekly, folding onto the damp fuzzy thing on her head. Despite it being wet, it was still strangely comforting. The inside was warm, from Law's own head perhaps.
"He's always had that hat. It's something special to him. Won't go anywhere without it." Clicking the safety off, he closed the chamber and peered through the waterfall, watching as the figures of the group slowly disappeared back into the woods.
"Hmm…it's a bit hard to distinguish…" The bear said, sniffing once or twice more as he sniffed the footprints in the mud Law had found earlier. "But I can still pick it up."
"Lead the way." The captain said, brushing some of his hair out of his face. Without his hat in place the rain now made him squint to see, whereas his brim had successfully blocked out most of the rain from his eyes.
Brittany and Penguin took up the rear of the group, talking quietly. She glanced around them every so often, scanning behind them in case Logan was actually trailing them instead. Penguin, grip tight on the rifle he'd taken from the house, conversed with Brittany but maintained eye contact with the forest, never dropping his guard.
Bepo kept his nose to the ground in front, concentrating on finding Logan. More of the sky had lightened, making it easier to see in the forest. Law kept a close eye on the trees around them, listening intently for any strange noises not made by the group.
Logan crouched behind a tree, peering through the thick downpour of rain for any sign of Lexi. Damn it all! He gritted his teeth, pounding his fist into the wet bark. How could he be so careless? How had she gotten away? Stupid, stupid…
"Our game of hide and seek has been fun, my dear, but the fun is over." He shouted into the rain.
It had to be today, they had to die today. But she was nowhere to be found. Early on, he'd sworn he could hear her running through the trees, whimpering in pain and exhaustion, but how in the world had she escaped his grasp? She was injured, losing blood…
How had she managed to get out of those shackles? There hadn't been a key in the basement with her, the only one sat dangling on a chain around his neck. It shouldn't be possible!
Anger bubbling in him, he rose, slowly pacing in no particular direction. He'd find her. He had to, whilst it was still raining, for the sacrifice to work. It had rained that day the accident happened. It had to be raining now. Still, he trudged on, a dark aura surrounding him.
Yards of rope coiled around his chest, he'd hoped that once he found her he could then tie her to a tree and slice open her torso, watching the blood drain and her face grow pale. Now, that seemed more and more unlikely, but he could still hope. Blade of the kitchen knife gleaming in his left hand, he pulled out the pistol from his back pocket, clicking off the safety. If he couldn't get close enough to kill her with a knife, he could do it from a distance this way. As long as she died, that was what mattered.
But it was more than irritating that he couldn't feel the life leave her, clutch her throat as she took her final breath, eyes full of fear and terror. He couldn't get off that way. It wasn't as fun, not as enjoyable to be close as death overtook his victims.
Too lost in his own thoughts, he didn't hear the figure slowly approach from behind him, nor did he see the barrel of the gun until it was pressed up against the back of his head.
"Found you." A male voice said, stilling Logan's movement. Surprise widened his eyes, but as the situation finally sank in, a wicked smile slowly played out across his lips.
So, this was how it was going to be…ns 220.127.116.11da2