The night breathed with blood and venom. Darcy and Dexter scrambled from the ground, collecting glass, blood and grazes, and searched for shelter.
“Move it!” Dexter yelled, glancing left and right looking for somewhere to hide as the sound of scratching grew louder, the claws tearing the ground apart. Dexter kept his hand glued to his sword, like Darcy did hers. Her nose twitched and face contorted once they paused to catch their breath.
“What’s wrong?” he watched Darcy as she doubled over panting. “Leg,” she breathed. A shard of glass had lodged itself in her thigh, and the pain was beginning to get to her.
Dexter cursed. “Here,” he looped Darcy’s arm around his shoulders, but as she protested, he hissed, swept her legs from underneath her, and cradled her in his arms as he ran. The sound of scratching grew louder. Other delegates raced into alleys and houses, hiding from the rats, which were approximately the size of a small car, and vicious to boot.
“Over there,” Darcy elbowed Dexter in the rib softly with her right arm, inclining her head toward the closest house. “We can patch up, get ready and run.”
He looked unsure, but they didn’t have much choice, so darting a quick glance over his shoulder to see if they were being followed by a rat or delegate. Either way, it wouldn’t be good.
Dexter padded over, dropped Darcy gently on the ground, and propped open the door with his left shoulder. After three failed attempts, and an obligatory mental scolding, Darcy finally got up and limped through the door.
“Here,” Dexter took her arm again, acting as her walking aid, but the pain and the closeness made her uncomfortable. “I’m fine.” She said, followed by three steps and a re-acquaintance with the floor.
The house was pretty empty, but it being Riverside, each building had a first aid kit attached to the wall and some supplies. Just in case. Dexter grabbed the box, came back and fell to the floor on his knees.
“You’re not fine.” He said simply, looking for some cloth, and not seeing any. A second later, he whipped his shirt off, placed it between his teeth and ripped some strips free. They were uneven and broken, but Dexter looped two strands together, tied them tightly and rolled up her trousers. He didn’t wince, didn’t say a thing, but the look in his eyes said that it wasn’t good.
“I’m gonna pull it out on three, okay?”
Darcy drew a breath and Dexter said “three.”
It was like an electric pulse racked through her body. She didn’t scream, but damn, did she feel like it. Darcy stuffed her fist in her mouth, and Dexter tied his make-shift tourniquet tighter.
“There,” he said. “the bleeding’s stopped.”
“Good.” She breathed; learning to control her pain like Jack had taught her. Training was nothing like the real thing. In the centre, you get shot with an arrow, you heal. In Riverside, you get shot, you bleed. Or you die.
Not great options all round.
Darcy met Dexter’s eyes. “Thank you.” She murmured, but she trailed off as the spark of something ignited in his eyes.
“You okay?” he asked.
“I’ll live.” She tried to sit up, but that flare of pain stopped her. Dexter arched an eyebrow, and, hesitantly, as though he wasn’t sure what he was doing himself, leaned down and kissed her wounded leg.
It was like ice had formed in her veins. Unmoving, she asked “What are you doing?”
Dexter leaned close into her ear, his words caressing her skin and making her tingle “I’m kissing it better.”
With that, he stooped down and kissed just a little bit higher than he had before, right in the centre of her thigh. Darcy felt herself begin to tingle, as his trail of kisses flowed up from her thigh to her outstretched hand. His eyes flickered up as he kissed her knuckles languorously before moving to the crook of her elbow, lingering ever so slightly more. The heat of her skin and his kisses was spurring them both on. Darcy’s breath hitched, and she heard Dexter laugh while he pressed his soft, searing lips against her bare shoulder, finally resting in the hallow of her neck. He must have been able to feel her pulse, hear her heart beat stutter. The room was filled with echoes, the sound of her panting reverberating in her ears. When Dexter’s tongue flicked out against her neck, she lost it. Thrusting into his form and pulling him fully on top of her, Darcy felt his breath hitch in his chest and saw the a smile grow on his usually stone-cold serious face. Before he knew what was happening, she flipped the position and was staring down at Dexter’s burning brown eyes, his slight scar from temple to cheek, his waiting, wanting lips...
And the chain around his neck.
The chain with her sister’s favourite ring looped around it. Darcy froze, her heart beating harder than ever and shame spiralling in her stomach. The loss of blood had made her nauseas, but that made her sick.
“We better go.” She said
The light in his eyes quenched like a match in a rain-storm. Darcy helped herself up, offered Dexter a hand, which he refused to take. He went to the closest supply closet, grabbed a shirt and said “I’m ready when you are.”
Darcy looked around, saw the coast was clear and they made their way back to headquarters.