It is late very, but it is here. I will try and make the lateness up to you all.
For the full chapter list, go here.
One moment, his feet were on the floor--with a hand around his collar dragging him away from his quarry, but his feet had been on the floor.
Then he was summarily flung out a window.
You’ll thank me later.
We’ll see about that.
Tim caught sight of Jo when he glanced down, his mind moving even faster than his falling body as he considered his options. One hand shot out, fingers finding purchase on the wall, his descent abruptly halted somewhere above the window where the Hunter waited. He winced, muscles and bones protesting as he caught himself, then again as his body swung into the wall. There would be some damage, but nothing a quick spell couldn’t fix.
At some point, I’m going to get too old for this shit.
Climbing down was going to be interesting, since one hand was still occupied by the sword he’d drawn out of its hidden sheath across his back, and re-sheathing it from this angle would be tricky at best. He ignored the stab of pain in his shoulder that didn’t quite feel like the strain of catching himself.
He looked up and saw Tom hanging out of the window, looking irritated, then took a deep breath and glanced down toward where Jo was looking up at him.
“I wouldn’t suggest going back up there,” she said. “Just drop. I’ll catch you.”
She seemed too small for that. He just asked, “You’ve got the kids?”
That’s something, at least.
He hated to leave the job unfinished, but the most important part was done. He took a deep breath and started to climb down toward the window where Jo waited.
“Don’t wait for me to climb down,” he called up to Tom. “Let’s clear out.”
The young Hunter didn’t even need to be told once. He was already leaping through the window. Tim heard the roar of a gun after him, and then Jo caught Tom as if he weighed no more than one of the children they had rescued. She dragged him back in through the window.
Once safe inside, Tom yelled, “Downstairs, kids!”
The muscles of Tim’s shoulder burned more than usual and he could feel blood trickling down his arm and side.
She had a gun and she used it.
He’d have to deal with that once they got the kids out of danger.
There was nothing more important than that.
Wes heard another gunshot tear through the night air and twitched. He gave Meatsuit a savage kick to keep him compliant and ran for the stairs, taking them two at a time. Brigid shouted his name but it was lost in the thunder of footsteps coming down the stairs. “Tom! Jo!” he yelled, grabbing for the railing to haul himself up faster. He felt it start to give beneath his hand and let go. Fuck this building.
“She’s behind us!” Jo yelled back.
Wes didn’t bother questioning who ‘she’ was. He got up to a landing and flattened himself against a wall to give them room to pass him on the stairs. Jo was in the lead, and though most of the kids gave Wes wide-eyed, suspicious glances, they seemed to trust her enough to keep following. Tom skidded to a halt beside him, but Wes said, “Go with them. Keep them calm.”
Tom nodded and ran down after Jo and the kids. Tim stayed behind, one hand pressed to his shoulder.
He took a few deep, steadying breaths. “We have to get everyone out of the building,” he said grimly.
Wes saw the blood that stained his jacket, the peculiar way that blood loss drained skin of color and adrenaline brightened the eyes. “You, too,” he ordered. “Go.”
“You can’t take her alone.” Tim turned back, looking up the stairwell. His sword was still in hand, gleaming white-blue, though faintly.
Wes could hear the click of heels descending the stairs, ominous and echoing, though there was a hitch in the steps that suggested a limp. Pfft, he thought. He opened his mouth to argue, but Tim seemed ready for it, and added, “She knocked your girl on her ass.”
Wes narrowed his eyes, and murmured, “Just gotta slow her down, then.”
Click click click click went the woman’s heels on the stairs above. Still one floor up.
They still had time.
Tim grabbed his arm to drag him back. “Don’t bother,” he said, his voice sharp and brittle.
Wes always liked when a human tried to move him. It was a silly, prideful, immature feeling, but he couldn’t quite help himself. A boulder might have budged before Wes. Even with thing unknown bearing down on them from above he couldn’t help but grin. “Go,” he said. “Brigid’s gonna need help moving our prisoners.”
He didn’t wait to see if Tim would go. He shook him off, reached for the loose metal railing and ripped it out of the wall.
Tim leapt back as Wes moved a couple of stairs down to angle it. Wes watched him from the corner of his eye, watched him stare up at the landing as that ominous click click click sounded down a few more steps and then she was on the landing above them.
Wes drew back, steadied himself, aimed, and as he rushed forward, he saw the metal of the landing above them frost over, saw his breath fog in the air, felt goosebumps rise on his arms from a sudden deep, arctic chill, but there was no stopping. He ran the railing through the landing, and was rewarded with a shriek of surprise mingled with pain above them.
Behind him, Tim stumbled, having the presence of mind to fall up the stairs instead of down them. Wes let go of the railing, left it sticking through the landing and whirled around, almost sliding on the suddenly icy floor.
“Friggin’ hell,” he breathed.
Tim shivered, murmuring, “Cold...like the water all over again...down to the bone…”
Wes got his arm around the other man’s shoulder, trying to avoid doing further damage. “Can you walk?” he asked. “I can carry you.”
“Don’t you dare,” Tim managed, his voice hoarse and soft. “I can walk.”
“I’ll carry you if you can’t,” Wes warned, hauling him to his feet and starting down.
Then, above, them, click click click faster now, with the hitch in her step more pronounced and Wes looked to the side and up over the railing to the flight of stairs leading up and saw her. White pantsuit streaked with grime and blood. Pretty face. Dark hair falling out of the pins that should have held it back. Bright, hard, cold eyes staring back at him and then the hint of a sudden, knowing smile.
Wes turned, keeping himself between Tim and the woman, drew his gun and shot at that knowing smile.
The woman saw the gun and leapt back up the way she came. Wes turned and half-dragged, half-carried Tim down the stairs as fast as he could go, firing a few shots back the way they came haphazardly to keep her from following.
She didn’t follow.