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The Assassin

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Breath caught in my throat, taken by the very sight of him, my eyes widened. Here was someone I adored. Here was someone that I craved. “Dominik…” His name fell from my lips like a plea, whispered into the air. The sound must have reached his ears because one corner of his lips quirked and lifted. This melted soon after into a full-blown smile. That smile… It caught me off guard and caused my head to tilt. I felt warmed and my cheeks flamed, suddenly very interested in a speck of dirt that rested upon my fingertip. I held it up for inspection and then flicked it away.

I waited for him in silence as he crossed the street to meet me, and each of his movements were fluid and were preformed with careful, feline-like grace. Blonde hair trapped by sunlight, strands held aflame, slid into view. I had to look up, just once, and I found his grey-blue eyes. They met mine for an instant before he finally reached me. I stared into the irises, lost within their murky depths. They startled me each time and, to my surprise, I found them shining with mirth.

“Dominik,” I whispered again as soon as he was close enough. Automatically, my arms wound their way about his taller frame and I melted into him. A breath later, I refused to move from the spot. My fingers clung to the material of his shirt. He hadn’t said anything yet, but there was the familiar presence of an arm that hung around my waist. “I missed you,” my lips told him and I tilted my head up in order to gaze at him. He wasn’t looking at me this time and his gaze was far away.

He seemed distracted by something and so, on tiptoe, I leaned up and placed my lips, very lightly, against his. The man in front of me did not react to such a kiss and so I pulled away from his mouth, almost disappointed. I knew, however, that whatever had his attention currently must be something of vital importance. We stayed there, locked in an embrace, as the seconds melted into minutes. “Two men,” he finally spoke, “with dark eyes. They’re watching us.”

I tried to move, turn in his arms, in order to get a better look at them but his strong hands stayed my movements and kept me against him. He leaned down, lips against my ear, and whispered, “Don’t move, Sonia. We must be inconspicuous. We cannot draw attention to ourselves.” A soft sigh flew from my lips.

We were always on the run, doomed never to settle in one place for too long. “As you wish,” I told him. I knew nothing of survival or why these men were following us. I doubted at times that he knew the reason why, despite the constant assurances that the information would be passed on to me when the time came. It was a frustrating world when you could not ask the question why. During the nights when I did, when I chose to ask, he became a rigid form and his eyes were as cold as ice. They were frozen river water. My safety came before anything, he’d tell me, even curiosity. Time had hardened him. It did not matter that he was only a boy of eighteen and I already nineteen.

“Come,” he said. I relaxed, moving quietly away from him. Today I had been lucky. Instead of wearing the formal outfits I was so used to, I had settled instead for a simple t-shirt, a pair of loose-fitting jeans, and jogging shoes. Convenience at its best, I thought, hurrying to take Dominik’s warm hand in my own.

I enjoyed the play of his fingers against my knuckles even at our brisk pace. The sun was just setting this late in the evening, disappearing behind the horizon in a spark of fiery red and purpled hues. It was speckled with clouds and they dotted the sky much like they would a painter’s canvas, their fluffy bodies drifting lazily overhead. The sound of Dominik’s smooth voice stole me from my pleasant reverie, “They aren’t too far behind us. Keep moving.” I moved, following his swift steps to the mouth of an alleyway.

Despite the resounding of alarm bells in my mind, I was almost utterly calm. The chills that had spread across my skin earlier were gone and even the rapid thumping of my heart had slowed. This is how Dominik had always affected me. He cooled my temperamental moods, speaking a calm logic into my ear. It was one of the reasons that I kept him around. With him I remained level-headed and without him… Well… Let’s just say that bad things happened without him.

To me this boy, whose hand held my own almost gingerly, tenderly in his own, was much more than a companion. He was much more than my guardian. He was much more than a friend. I would not be alive today if it weren’t for him. I loved him.

“Sonia,” he told me softly, “focus. Stop allowing your thoughts to drift.”

I only blinked at him. Between us it was strange sometimes. Was he picking up on my thoughts? I surely hoped not. I muted the past, the memories, and my mind settled into the present. It sunk into the depths of reality, if somewhat reluctantly. “Sorry,” I muttered.

His hand gave mine a gentle squeeze, reminding me silently that he was there and that he was real. I breathed out, asking, “Where to?”

“Anywhere but here,” he muttered, pulled once more into that mask of seriousness. He used it less often around me now, but, in the beginning when we were barely old enough to understand, it became a constant. I had since then tore down those walls.

Their footsteps against the pavement echoed and the sound was coming closer, moving languidly through the streets. They would take their time. There were civilians in the area and until we isolated ourselves they could not lay a hand on us or they would risk exposure.

“Dominik,” I said. My voice was a tense whisper.

“I know,” he told me, nodding.

A minute passed and the footsteps stopped. There was no noise. The surrounding area was dead, consumed like prey by silence.

Dominik stepped from the alley, leaving me alone in the gaining darkness. “Stay here,” he grunted and disappeared from sight.

With a sigh, I rested against the alley’s wall. It smelled of decay there. Decay and death. What an awful combination. A wave of drowsiness passed over my form and my eyes fluttered closed after a moment. The silence comforted me, soothed my nerves, and then I drifted to sleep against the dirty brick wall in the presence of scurrying rats.

My body seemed unbearably weighted to the ground, each movement was sluggish. Someone, something, rested a hand against my lower back and began pushing me forward slowly. With an unpleasant sound, disgruntled, I drifted back into consciousness. Dominik was at my side. It was his hand that rested at my back. Something seemed so off about his stance even in the darkness. I planted my feet and stopped us abruptly.

I turned, squinting beneath the light of the moon in order to stare at him. The silver glimmer painted him in eerie colors and as I reached forward I realized that there was some substance that stuck to his cheek, bathed his neck, and drowned his shoulder. My fingers reached out, but he grasped my wrist before they could connect with his skin. “Is that…” The sentence trailed off, my eyes widening.

I choked upon the word even as my mind brought it forward, whispered it through crevices... “Blo... Bl...” Blood. Most assuredly, it was blood that stained both his skin and his clothing. Once again that amused smile appeared, affecting only the corner of his mouth. He didn’t seem worried about it. He didn’t seem to care.

I clutched at his hand as if it were my lifeline before falling to my knees. My head swam with dizziness, a light-headed feeling creeping upon me. Nausea was pressing on the back of my tongue, urging my body to purge itself and rid itself of the bitter taste that arrested my taste-buds.

It was common knowledge to me that Dominik could kill. The man was lethal, but I had never seen him raise a hand. Tonight, however, some balance had shifted between us. It was a balance that was now broken. What was his goal? What was he attempting to accomplish by showing me this side of him? Perhaps it was to frighten me… If this was his goal then he had accomplished it.




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