Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Chapter 23 Part 2

photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing
Adam stumbled into the icy morning sunshine, blinking against the gleam of the snow. His head ached, partly from the still-tender bump growing on it, and partly because he hadn't slept well the night before. He'd squirmed in and out of the covers, too hot, too cold, too scared, too guilt-ridden.

Had he been right to leave Alexis alone in there with Will last night? Seeing her hurt had filled him with a wave of nausea. Her ragged face and empty eyes had held him back, even as they begged him to stay, staring into his soul, telling him that this was all his fault. And the worst part? The worst part was he knew that she didn't blame him.

Why was he doing this to himself? It wasn't his fault. He hadn't known. He'd spent all night trying to convince himself of this, but, no matter how he tried, his heart would not let him forget.

Now he found the fire blazing happily, a stark contrast to the sullen pair crouched on a log beside it. Alexis was huddled as far from Will as possible, biting her lip against the pain whilst he ran a thin, hot needle through her shoulder, stitching up the wound with a look of indifference clouding the hurt in his eyes.

Another stab of guilt. Smothering a groan and realizing it was too late to turn back and hide, since they had already seen him, Adam sidled up awkwardly and watched as Will worked. "Doesn't that hurt?"

"No." Alexis said quickly.

"Yes." Will replied simultaneously. They shared a brief glare and went back to sulking.

"Alright then..." He scratched his head and looked about, hoping desperately for the presence of another person to ease the palpable tension in the air. His wish was granted, in a fashion, when the icy crunching of footsteps brought into view a tired, dirty Robin. "Damn." Adam winced, seeing the annoyed look in the man's eye as he approached. "Morning." He ventured hesitantly. He should have stayed in bed.

Robin nodded a curt acknowledgement. His eyes were red and heavy, his lips twitched with agitation. "Ah. She's still here." He noted, glancing at Alexis.

"Is there a problem?" Will asked, an edge to his voice as he looked up.

"Evidently not." The answer was less than satisfactory.

"Good." With that said, Will turned back to his work, jabbing the needle too deep and making Alexis break her vow of silence. "Sorry."

"So, where's my breakfast then?" Robin asked, determined not to be ignored. "Surely she can cook, right?"

Will stiffened. Alexis drooped. "Excuse me?" He rose to his feet in an instant as she buried her face in her good hand.

"Everyone in this camp must earn their keep. We've been needing someone to do the woman's work around here. Surely she can handle that?" Robin watched with sick pleasure as his cousin's eyes brightened and his nostrils flared.

"She doesn't have to do a thing unless I say so!" Will pushed his cousin back with more force than he knew he possessed.

"Oh, really? I'm sorry, I didn't know you suddenly held so much control. Last I checked, I made the decisions around here. My mistake, your highness." Robin sneered this remark, dropping low in a mocking bow. His mistake indeed. In a second, he was on his back, nose broken and bleeding from the punch that Will had hurled.

"Stop!" Alexis rushed towards them, but Adam held her back. You'll only make things worse." He whispered, locking his arms tightly about her waist.

"I'm sick of it!" Will screamed, chest heaving. "I'm sick of everyone telling me what to do, of making my decisions for me. I'm sick of being told to step aside, to trust you, of being made to feel like a child! I'm not a child anymore." He yanked Robin by the collar till they were face to face. "You want to take all of it from me, to punish me and make me miserable, saying it's for my own good, but the truth is, you simply can't handle the fact that I am a free human being, not some slave you can order around, not some infant for you to protect."

Robin allowed himself to be punched again, feeling his head spin as he fell a second time, blood smeared across his whole face. The ground rolled beneath him, and his bottom lip was split deep to his chin. He could have had Will on the ground in his stead, beaten to a pulp, begging for mercy through a toothless mouth, but Robin simply lay there, flinching more at the words than the blows. "Are you through?" He asked, spitting out a mouthful of blood.

Will drew back his fist to attack again, but after a moment of deliberation, lowered it, all the while cursing his own weakness. Biting back a scream, he turned away and stormed off into the woods, grabbing Alexis's wrist and dragging her behind him.

"Hey—" Adam began to protest, but a look from Alexis silenced him.

Start at the beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1

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