The Guild – Chapter 119 – Heath

Heath sits on the porch swing kicking his lanky legs as he swings back and forth. He sits by the window of his second foster family’s house. He looks aimlessly at his feet as he kicks at nothing, listening anxiously to the conversation coming through the window.

“Yes, yes, I heard you Mrs. Chen. But I just don’t – yes. That’s what you said. But why would Heath do that? No, I don’t see a reason for him to –  I understand that. No. Are you calling my son a pyromaniac? No, he isn’t. I’ve never seen him – That’s beside the point,” as she goes on, mother gets more and more flustered.

Jimmy spies Heath from the boulevard and walks up, a sly grin on his face. “Hey, Heath. Get in trouble again?” he teases.

“No. It’s none of your business,” Heath pouts.

“Sure it is. ‘Cause when you cause trouble for my mom you cause trouble for me.”

“She’s my mom too,” Heath pouts.

“Nah, I got here first. So you’re just second pickings,” he pokes.

“Nuh uh,” Heath frowns. “Go away Jimmy.”

“What if I don’t wanna? I don’t have to go anywhere,” he smiles plopping himself down on the swing next to Heath. It stops moving, the momentum interrupted by his weight.

“Get off. I was here first,” Heath growls.

“No. You get off. This is MY house.”

Heath glares at Jimmy hard but doesn’t move.

“No, you’re not listening to me, Mrs. Chen. Heath would never start a fire in the boys’ bathroom. He doesn’t carry lighters and he’s a good boy. I don’t appreciate you calling me a liar!” Mom shouts at the phone before hanging it up with a loud clang. She stomps away from the window.

“See, when mom has to defend you, that means you’ve done something bad. That’s when you cause trouble for me,” Jimmy teases, making the swing move.

“I didn’t do it!” Heath shouts, feeling an anger boiling in his chest.

“That’s not what Mrs. Chen says.”

“I don’t care what Mrs. Chen says. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

“You just say that ‘cause she doesn’t like you.”

“Not true! Leave me alone!”

“If you don’t wanna talk, why don’t to just run away and light something on fire, Pyro.”

“I’m not a pyro! Just, shut up!” Heath yells as the heat spreads to his arms and eventually his hands. It takes a lot to hold it back and Heath struggles, hands shaking with the pressure that’s building up.

Jimmy notices. “What’s wrong there? Got the shakes Heath?” he sneers.

“Shut up!” Heath grits.

“Haa, you can’t even stay calm. Bet you couldn’t have even really started that fire. It was probably an accident,” he laughs.

“It was an accident!” Heath shouts.

“So you did start the fire!” Jimmy looks at Heath, a shocked look on his face like he didn’t really believe what he was saying the whole time. “You really are a freak! Get away from me, you freak!”

Heath stands up and stomps towards the door. Jimmy bolts up and grabs Heath’s arm before Heath can touch the doorknob. His hand starts to sizzle. He shrieks and pulls it away. His palm is bright pink and covered in blisters. “What the hell is wrong with you?” Jimmy screams.  

Footsteps come running from inside at Jimmy scream and mom suddenly throws open the door. Heath jumps back before he’s hit by it.

“What happened? Are you hurt? Who screamed?” she panics.

“Heath burnt me! He freakin’ burnt me!”

“I – I didn’t!  I didn’t mean too! I swear!” Heath stutters.

“It’s true! He really is a pyro!” he cries, holding his hand to his chest.

Mom takes his hand and looks at it, a fearful expression on her face. “How did this happen?”

Heath backs away as Jimmy starts to explain. “He made me touch him and then he burnt me!”

“It’s not true! He grabbed me. I don’t know how! I swear! It was an accident!”

“Yeah, just like that fire in the bathroom was an accident,” Jimmy sneers.

“It was! I swear!”

“Wait. What? You really did start that fire?” she asks.

“No, I mean. Yes. But I didn’t mean too. It just sort of happened!” Heath frantically tries to explain.

“How?” she demands.

“I Dunno. I just touched the door and it caught fire and melted!”

“Doors don’t just catch fire,” Jimmy whines.

“But it did! I swear!” Heath backs up, foot slipping on the step of the porch. He reaches his hand out for the railing before he falls and grips the wood hard, but his hand is burning hot and the wood suddenly bursts into flames and begins to melt as Heath’s hand, now a molten lava colour, holds the wood.

Mom and Jimmy look at his hand in shock as the flames quickly spread up to the porch roof and into the house as the porch itself caves in, dropping them both into a burning pit. It’s not long before the house is covered in flames. They hardly have time to move before the second floor collapses, trapping his foster mom and Jimmy inside.

Heath crouches on the lawn, hugging his knees as his second home since the accident burns to ash in front of him along with his mom and his foster brother, Jimmy. He hardly reacts as the authorities come and take him back to the agency

~*~

Once we’re out of sight of Rose and the stairs, I turn to Kat. The egg looks like it weighs a ton in her scrawny arms. “It’s easier if I carry it. Here,” I offer, reaching for the egg. She stops and lets me take it. Its warmth is somewhat comforting. Suddenly I recall the little dragon that was flying about and look around to see where it went. “Where’s the other one, Typhon?” I ask.

She looks up, curious. “Oh, I guess he stayed with Rose. He likes to stay with the whoever the most powerful person around is,” she shrugs like that’s not a big deal.

“The strongest, hmm?” I eye her.

As we start moving again, she glances around the hall. “This wing is one of the worst, being in disrepair… but, you can let Markus deal with it. It’s his apartments anyway,” she explains, a tone of bitterness in her voice.

“Oh? Got it,” I nod curtly. I look around as I follow her out of the area of the Guild, wondering what exactly I’m supposed to do to ‘fix’ it. “So, you said we have training and stuff?” I ask, raising my brow as we descend more stairs.

“Yep,” she seems to cheer up. “We can go now if you’re ready.”

“Sure,” I reply. “Whatever you say… boss,” I look down at her without moving my head. I see her cheeks turning red but she wears a smile on her face. Looks like she likes the idea. I chuckle silently in my head.

Eventually, we reach the training rooms. I don’t know how she knows her way around so easily, this place is a maze I could easily get lost in. It’s not really worth my time to memorize it anyway, it’s not like I’ll be here long. We take an empty room because it’s so early, we have our choice of the lot. As we step in, the lights come on automatically, like they’re motion censored or something.

“So, how are we gonna do this, if you can’t spar and what not?” I ask her, hugging the egg to my stomach. I feel the soft beating against my abs.

She looks around, and back at me with an innocent smile. “Who says I can’t?”

“Uhh, your boyfriend, for one,” I retort.

She shrugs. “He’s not here. Pretty sure he’ll be asleep for a few more hours.”

“He won’t be happy if he finds out you’ve been sparring against his wishes,” I point out. I like how she’s got a rebellious side.

She catches my eye and winks, catching me off guard. “No, but there are worse things I could do. Besides, I’d be shocked if you managed to hit me.”

I shrug, she’s probably right. “Well, you’re the boss,” I look down at the egg. “What should we do about this?” I ask.

She frowns at the egg. “Rose said it’s really strong, so I don’t think putting it on the floor will hurt it. Leave it by the racks, it’ll be okay there.”

“What about the heat?” I say as I make for the weapon racks.

“I think it’ll be okay for a little while,” she tilts her head. “It just becomes petrified if it’s cold, she said.”

“Ok,” I place the egg down gently, despite knowing its resilience, and return to Kaitlyn at the centre of the room. “So, shall we?” I say, flexing my arms out at my sides from holding the egg.

“Yes,” she waves for me to come closer. “Take your stance, like you’re getting ready for a fistfight.”

“If you don’t mind, I’m already sweating,” I say, crossing my arms to pull off my shirt. It’s already damp… I toss it towards the egg and turn back to face her, lifting my fists to my face. I stop when I see her face. She looks a little startled, obviously trying to keep composed as her face turns a shade of pink.

“What? Can’t handle a little bare chest?” I smirk. I didn’t take her to be the reserved type.

She coughs and looks away, laughing awkwardly. “That’s not it. Just, the last time that happened in a spar… Nevermind. Take your stance.”

I raise my brow curiously. I wonder what happened last time… I can only imagine. I shift my feet and shake my fists. “Ready when you are.”

Her amber gaze traces over me, scrutinizing every detail as she starts to walk around me in a slow circle. I feel like a show dog or something. I flinch as I feel her hand on my shoulder. I’m not used to people touching me. “You’re too tense here,” before I have a chance to respond, she’s moved on. She pulls my hands further away from my face, pushing my elbows closer to my ribs.

“That’s a little exposing, isn’t it?” I question. It feels weird, having my hands so low.

“If you hold your hands like that, you’ll break your own nose,” she retorts passively. “Put your weight on the balls of your feet, not the heels. Your center of gravity is off.”

I frown as she criticizes the way I’m standing. I guess I should just accept it though. She does know more about fighting than me. “I feel like a marionette.”

She snickers as she stops in front of me. “Good, at least you’re co-operative,” I gaze into her amber eyes. They seem to glow, like her hair. She takes another look over me and nods. “Okay, hit me.”

“Wait, what?” I start. I still feel like I shouldn’t… I don’t want to hurt her. I briefly recall the match yesterday and shake off my uncertainty. I probably won’t even land it. She’s too fast. I feel the energy course through my muscles as I shoot out a fist towards her shoulder.

There’s a moment of panic as I feel it connect before I realise it’s not her shoulder. She stopped my fist with her palm, well before it could have possibly reached her shoulder. “Is that the hardest you can hit, or are you holding back still?” she asks, genuinely curious.

I heave a breath, withdrawing my fist. “I’m not sure. It’s kind of hard to hit a girl… as pretty as you,” I wonder if my comments will rattle her. It’s not like I mean anything by them, they just sort of slip out. It’s a good thing her boyfriend isn’t here.

She stares at me, a wicked smile growing across her pink lips. “Would it help if I hit you first?”

I let out a chuckle. “Uhh, well, I expect to get beat up. I’m terrible at fighting. I’ve brawled a few times in high school, and that’s it,” I adjust my stance, trying to find the starting position.

She rolls her eyes. “I’m not going to beat you up,” she chews the inside of her lip, obviously thinking. “Okay, let me show you,” she crouches, mimicking a similar stance to mine. She waits like that, watching me.

I look her over, making adjustments as I see the differences. I bend my knees more, tucking my elbows in, rolling my shoulders back. “Like this?” I confirm when I think I’ve got it down.

She grins proudly. “Yes. Now, hold up your hand. You’re going to block me.”

“Alright,” I lift my hand up, palm facing her. I didn’t wear my usual gloves today. She doesn’t seem to be phased by my blackened fingers one bit. I don’t even have time to blink before I feel the impact on my palm. How’d she move that fast? The pain radiates like a wave up my arm, and into my shoulder. I let out a grunt, flinching away.

“Now, hit me like that, and I’ll be impressed,” she teases, standing up straight again.

I ready my hands and strike, not nearly as fast as her, but maybe a little harder than my previous attempt. My fist collides with her hand with a satisfying smacking sound.

She nods. “Better. Again. Most fights, you want to hit hard enough to break bone. Usually, your own bones. If you practice your punches, causing very small microfractures, each time they heal, your bones grow stronger. That’s how you see those people who can punch through concrete do it.”

“I thought that was just a special effect in the movies?” I say, pulling my fist away. The idea of breaking bones doesn’t appeal to me.

She shakes her head. “Nope. I could punch a hole in the wall if I wanted to,” she shrugs, “But, I’ve had a long time to break and regrow my bones. Baby steps,” oddly enough, despite her size, I believe her.

I nod and let my hesitation drop away. I strike out, harder than I want to, and our hands clap together loudly. I immediately pull back and repeat, not leaving much time between my strikes. She’s not giving me any reason to hold back, so I let my restraints go.

“Faster, both hands. You don’t want to have only one good punch,” she encourages, as she begins to move to the side, and back, forcing me to follow.

I do as she instructs, swinging my left fist forward into her hands and stepping in time with her. Suddenly it feels like a dance as we move about the room in a strange pattern. Minutes pass until I begin to slow, feeling the stiffness in my knuckles. I try a few more hits before I drop my hands, straightening my back as I stand up from the crouch.

She watches me, beaming. “You’re a quick study. Give me your hands,” she holds out her palms.

“Why?” I tilt my head curiously as I hold them out to her.

“Unless you want to wait for them to heal on their own,” she snickers, taking my hands. She stares down at them, her face scrunches, jaw clenching. Our hands glow a soft orange light. The pain and stiffness begin to fade, and after a moment they just feel a little sore.

“Wow… that’s pretty cool,” I say, turning my hands over and inspecting them. I flex my fingers and feel the corner of my mouth twitch, impressed.

“I can teach you that too. For most people, it becomes almost second nature,” she flexes her hands, looking somewhat distracted.

“It looks pretty handy. If I can learn that, why not,” I resume the crouched position, running through the checklist.

“Okay, but since no one is hurt right now, let’s try something else,” she suggests with a strained smile. “How about you try to dodge me? I’ll go slow, of course.”

“Slow,” I chuckle. “If that’s possible for you,” I crack a smile.

Her eyes seem to dance as she grins. “You’d better hope so.”

“Oh?” the first swing comes as I utter the word. She hits me in the arm, not nearly as hard as the first time. She’s obviously holding back. I struggle to move back, barely avoiding another punch. It dawns on me after several more blows, that she’s avoiding my torso. I wonder if being shirtless is making her uncomfortable after all, but then again, she doesn’t strike me as the person who lets those things get in the way.

I try dodging her blows, trying to keep my arms out of striking range. I finally manage to not get hit like five times in a row, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. She backs off, seeming to bounce on her toes.

“Okay, now let’s combine the two. Try to hit me, try not to get hit,” she seems to be enjoying this a little too much.

“Easier said than done,” I purse my lips, resuming the crouch again and shaking my arms out before pulling them up into a ready position. I take the first swing and she dodges it expertly. I’m too slow for her response and I feel her knuckles connect with my bicep. We have a few more back and forths before I manage to strike her shoulder with a solid smack. I think she was holding back on the speed though. It doesn’t stop me from feeling accomplished.

A few seconds after I land a hit, she disappears. She makes a backflip, moving far out of reach. “That’s cheating,” I pout sarcastically.

She holds a finger up, then shakes her hands out. Sparks fly out of her fingers, disappearing on the mats. “Stop it,” she hisses under her breath. She flexes her fingers again, like before, glaring at them.

I raise an eyebrow. “Having trouble holding back?” I smirk.

Her eyes shift to meet mine, but she doesn’t seem to think it’s funny. “Yes.”

I shrug. “Well, we could add a little heat to the mix. I don’t mind,” I ball my hands and focus on the heat in my chest, raising the temperature in my hands. I feel the heat burn and watch as my veins glow black and fire bursts from them, trailing up my arm.

“Cute,” she scoffs, unimpressed. “You don’t want to face me, though. You want to see what happens when I stop holding back?”

“Why not? I’ll have to see it one day,” I say.

“Only if I’m fighting for our lives,” she retorts. “Never in a spar.”

“Aww, that’s too bad. And here I thought I’d have a challenge today,” I grin mischievously.

“You think so?” she raises an eyebrow. “You think you can handle this?” she hums. “Alright, try not to run screaming.”

I watch, with amused anticipation as she lets her arms fall against her sides, her eyes falling closed like she’s going to sleep. I wonder what she’s doing until her hands burst into flame. It crawls eagerly up her arms, spreading across her chest and swallowing her entire body in an instant. Even her hair is consumed, transformed from resembling fire to the real thing. Her eyes open again, but their bright amber colour is gone, replaced by the same orange-yellow that forms the rest of her body.

I have to force myself to keep my mouth shut. “That’s pretty… cool. I’ll admit. You must go through a lot of bedding, with a skill like that,” I muse. I sure have.

She laughs. It sounds strange, hollow. “Try the entire dorm wing. It’s all been fire-proofed, but I’ve only been able to take this form since I became a Guardian a couple months ago. It’s actually hard not to when the Fire gets excited, or afraid.”

“Wow, only a couple months?” I smile. “Must be nice,” I feel like this has become more of a competition of ability rather than a training session. I’ll probably regret it, but I’m sure I could order new clothes later. I close my own eyes, the training room going dark as I, for the first time, willingly look for the heat that hides there. It feels like a rumbling earthquake at times, and today it’s bubbling with anticipation.

I force it into my limbs, feeling my heat raising above any normal body temperature. I hope I don’t melt a hole in the floor. My shoes burn up, rubber melting into a black puddle, then my black jeans. I liked those… Oh well. The metal of my belt clangs as it hits the floor, the leather strip burning with the jeans. When I open my eyes, my skin glows a bright red, like lava. The occasional flame whispping off of my arms.

She stares at me in silence for a while. It’s hard to tell if she’s stunned, or just thinking. “I wonder… What would happen…” she mumbles, reaching out absentmindedly. She quickly pulls her hand back, shaking her head.

“Are you scared to touch me?” I ask amused. I take a step towards her.

“Of course I am,” she snaps. “Who knows what might happen.”

“You wouldn’t be the first. But, like you said, we’re both a form of fire. We can’t really burn each other,” I reply, advancing another step. Honestly, though, I too am curious.

“You don’t know that,” she calls my bluff, taking half a step back.

“No, I don’t. Let’s find out. If anything happens, you can do that healing thingy,” I shrug.

She hesitates, her eyes darting between mine and my hand as I reach out. Slowly, she extends her hand, flinching as her fingers get closer to my palm. I grin, leaning forward and close the gap. I feel her fingers press into my palm and… they seem to pass right through it. I slowly pull my hand back and look at it, frowning.

“Well… that was… Strange,” I say. “I kind of expected something to happen… but it just tickled… a little,” I describe the feeling. All in all, I’d say it was a little underwhelming. “How about you?” I ask her, curious if she felt the same or not. When I look at her, I see her eyes bulging as she stares at her hands, a fiery expression of shock on her face.

“Kaitlyn? Are you ok?” I ask, worried maybe it hurt her and not me.

Her mouth opens, her voice barely a whisper. “I’ve never… not burnt someone…”

“Oh… that. Well, me neither. Wanna try it again?” I grin eagerly. I half want to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.

She nods, reaching out slowly. This time, her palm presses against my chest. I look down a little startled by the touch. It doesn’t go through, like the first time. I feel her hand as if it was just a regular hand, neither hot nor cold. It feels… nice. I don’t blink as I lean into it, trying to memorize the feeling. She holds it there for a moment, and I notice the fire recede up her arm. Her hand returns to normal as she holds it against my moltin skin.

I watch her hand, intently, debating if I should pull away, but nothing seems to happen. I feel a fluttering in my chest. Is this what it was like… before I fell into that volcano? Sometimes, I can hardly remember. I lift my lava hand to hers, pressed against my chest and touch her wrist hesitantly. I stare in wondrous amazement. I don’t even know what to say…

She pulls her hand back, to my slight disappointment, turning her palm up to look at it. It’s bright pink but otherwise normal. “Wow…” she breathes. “I never imagined that,” I just nod. I feel the same, surprisingly. “I wonder… if it works both ways?” she hesitates to say as the fire eagerly swallows her hand again.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“It looks like you can’t burn me, even without the fire. I wonder if it goes both ways. If you’re… immune to the fire,” she mumbles.

“Umm…” I bite my lip nervously. I don’t think she realises if I turn back now… I’ll have no clothes on.

She smiles, embarrassed, pulling her arms back to her chest. “It’s okay. It’s probably not worth the risk.”

“What risk? I think it would work. But…” I trail off, a little too shy to say it.

“But?” she asks innocently.

“Well…” I can’t say it. “I’ve never really changed just one part of my body before, like you did,” I lie. I’ve definitely used only my fingers for my job. I’ve just never done it the other way, normal fingers, lava body.

“Oh,” she giggles, “That’s not too hard. It takes a little bit more concentration to pull back on a specific area.”

“OooK,” I hold up my hand, feeling nervous butterflies in my stomach as I seriously try not to change completely back to normal, but only my hand. It seems like it’s taking forever when suddenly, my fingers start to turn black and the glowing recedes backward, slowly growing up my hand, past my wrist. I struggle to make it stop as it inches towards my elbow, but finally, it does.

I turn back to her and extend my hand towards hers. The heat doesn’t seem to bother me, so I inch closer and closer until our fingers hover in front of each other. She watches intently, holding her breath, her eyes wide. The anticipation starts to grate on me. I press my fingers into hers and feel a pleasant warmth in them, like a hot cup of coffee.

I heave a sigh of relief and suddenly, I lose my lava form. A shiver runs up my back as I stand butt naked before her, hand pressed against hers.

She gasps, spinning away. A moment later, the fire recedes into her hands. She’s still dressed in the jeans and form-fitting shirt as before, her slender hands covering her face. “I’m sorry!” she squeaks.

I can hardly move, my hand still held up in front of me like a statue. “Uhh… my bad?” I ask questioningly. “I’m pretty sure that was my fault,” I say tensely. “How did you keep your clothes on?” I ask curiously.

“They just sort of… stay…” her voice is muffled by her hands.

“But… How?!” I repeat. That’s no fair… I liked those jeans.

“I have no idea,” she answers, reaching one hand to her back pocket. “I’ll ask someone to bring you some new clothes. Hold on.”

“I didn’t really pack a bag, so I don’t have anything else,” I say with disappointment, looking over at the egg, where my shirt lays.

“That’s fine,” she mumbles, holding her left hand to block her view while she types with her right thumb. “We have plenty of spare clothes around. This isn’t exactly… uncommon.”

“It isn’t?” I ask, surprised.

“No,” she chuckles. “I used to go through a lot of clothes in training. Only recently did I discover that the fire form doesn’t ruin my clothes. I was relieved. It doesn’t seem to affect my body at all, actually. Unfortunately, that means it doesn’t cauterize wounds either,” she adds, almost as a bitter afterthought.

“I see,” I say, stepping toward the rack where my shirt is. I use it as a cover, just to make us both feel less awkward about this. Wish I’d thought of that before I went and made this a competition. Oh well…

When I turn around, I catch her quickly spinning the other way, and I narrow my eyes suspiciously at her. I turn my bare back to the wall, trying to hide what I can with my shirt.

“I’ll make a note to have spare clothes on hand next time,” she says, pretending that didn’t just happen.

“Uh-huh… Good idea,” I chew the inside of my cheek.

We stand in awkward silence for a few minutes before there’s a knock on the door. Kaitlyn turns and heads for the door. I note her gaze landing on me at least twice before making an effort to look away. Her face is bright red the whole time. When she finally looks away, I smirk to myself, leaning casually against the wall as she pulls the door open.

“Where’s the fire?” a deep male voice teases. For once, I actually feel a chill in the air.

“About to be right here,” she sneers back. “You brought some?”

“Yea, I got it,” the male seems unfazed by her blatant threat. “What’d you do to the poor guy?”

“I didn’t!” she gasps. “Why do you assume it was my fault?”

“Seems like that’s usually the case. I heard how quickly you got Andrei naked,” the voice snickers mercilessly.

“That’s not what happened and you know it,” she growls in response.

I cock my eyebrow, intrigued. “So that’s what happened last time?” I ask from the rack.

“No,” she grabs the clothes, tossing the bundle at me. “Excuse me while I kill him now.”

“Aw, don’t be so uptight, Kat,” a bear of a man leans into view through the door, his huge hand ruffling her hair playfully. “I won’t tell,” I wave nervously from the wall as he turns his head to look in at me.

“Hey, nice to meet you… I guess,” suddenly, Kat wraps an arm around his, and he’s miraculously airborne, flying into the room and landing on the floor with a loud smack. My mouth falls open as I bend down for the heap of clothes at my feet. I can hardly peel my eyes away from the carnage. Now I know what she’s capable of.

Kaitlyn stomps over to him, hands on her hips, a figure of wrath, even when not wreathed in flames. “You so much as allude to something happening today, and I really will kill you,” she growls, murder in her amber eyes.

I quickly slip on the pants while both their eyes are turned. The guy on the floor actually starts laughing. “Come on Kat, take a joke. As if he’d believe me anyway.”

“Make a funny joke,” she retorts.

The guy reaches out, catching her by the foot. She falls onto her back with a yelp, and he laughs. “How’s that?”

“Ow…” she coughs. “Still not funny.”

I forget the button and dash over, concerned. “Dude, that’s not funny. You could seriously hurt her. She’s pregnant, or did you forget?” I hiss, dropping to my knee and holding out a hand to help her up. “You sure you’re ok?” I ask her.

She stares back at me, blushing again. “Yeah… I’m okay. Thanks.”

The guy on the floor smirks. “I didn’t forget. Considering what that baby’s already survived, I’m not too concerned.”

I raise a questioning eyebrow in his direction. “I’m sure Andrei won’t appreciate you throwing his girlfriend around, baby or not,” I say, expecting that to hit a nerve.

To my surprise, he just grins. “Andrei doesn’t appreciate much when it comes to me and Kat. Even though I brought her back from the brink of death and all.”

I look between the two of them, trying to appear placid about all this crazy information I’m hearing. Out of context like this, it sounds like these people lead very dangerous lives. But it shouldn’t matter to me. It’s not like I intend to stick around. I should just leave well enough alone.

“Yeah, and you just won’t let that go, will you?” she sighs as she takes my hand. I pull her to her feet and then step back, grabbing my shirt off the floor and hanging it over my arm, listening.

“It was a very elaborate death,” he replies happily as he stands up. “How many times were you shot before you were thrown over the bridge?”

“Totally unrelated incidents,” she waves him off. “I’m leaving now. We have work to do.”

“Oh, right,” I jump, startled out of my shock of the things that come out of this guys mouth and turning to grab the egg before I head for the door after Kaitlyn. I briefly glance over my shoulder as he waves casually from the floor with a smile on his face.

“Watch yourself around her, new guy. She’s trouble,” he winks playfully.

“Shut up, Nik!” Kaitlyn yells back, annoyed.

“I’m going to hazard a guess Andrei and Nik don’t get along,” I throw that out there, pretty confident that I’m right, once we’re out of earshot.

“Not even slightly,” she confirms. “Andrei doesn’t like being reminded about what Nik was referring to. It… wasn’t a good time.”

“It doesn’t sound good,” I say as we make distance between us and the training rooms. “He’s fairly obnoxious.”

“Yeah…” she sighs. “But he’s not wrong. He has every right to rub it in my face.”

“Does he? Sounds like Nik likes to remind everyone about Andrei’s apparent lack of presence,” I ask, hoping I’m not intruding too much.

“He was under a spell… His ex, I guess is what she is, had him under her thumb. I took off, thinking it’d be better for everyone if I just… disappeared. At the time, it made sense,” she gets a faraway look on her face.

I listen as she reveals to me what happened at what seems to be a pretty dark time in her life. I don’t want to pry. It’s not really my business. I’m not a huge fan myself of people asking me about my personal life. “Nevermind. I shouldn’t have asked. Please forget I brought it up,” I hurriedly dismiss.

She glances up at me, guilt in her eyes. “No, it’s alright. Most people don’t ask me about it, afraid I’ll do something stupid again. The whole thing was my fault, to begin with. I stupidly went off on my own, and someone died because of it.”

My eyebrows shoot up at the mention of a death. “Well…” I try to respond, but I really don’t know what to say. “I mean… we learn from our mistakes, and if you feel that bad about it, I doubt you’ll try that again.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure. I’m not known for making smart choices,” she smiles sadly. I think that was an attempt at a joke.

“I’m not one to judge,” she laughs seeming to relax again.

By Kayla West

One thought on “The Guild – Chapter 119 – Heath

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