Chapter Three: Petrova
There was a second wave of energy to them, somehow the demons before me had summoned some strength and pushed forward at me but I fought back. With every blow I fought back. I didn’t see her behind the slimed creature, but when it obliterated and I saw the cause, my heart pounded in my chest. Lei stood, not her upright self, I could see the cuts and the blood and the bruises ready to form that had changed her. She was still fighting, even though she looked close to being lost.
I pushed forward. One more I kept telling myself, until it came time to chase after the stragglers, not usually the fastest runner, after all I hate it. I was the most effective and strategic and the first one to push the chain to order. I didn’t want Lei to be at the back fold but in her condition, it was the only place for her, with someone who could fight more efficiently. I could tell she trailed behind in the pursuit but it was better that then leave her entirely on her own, just in case a demon saw it as a chance to get its lucky break.
With the last demon obliterated we remain on high alert for a few moments, we examine our surroundings now taking them in, looking and waiting for another to spring from a dark gloomy corner or behind a statue or the mouth of a tomb. But nothing came at us. I felt a figure near me slump before I saw what it was.
I stepped back before the fountain of vomit could hit my shoes. It’s not the first time I have seen someone react this way after something like, well, that. Without the adrenaline and immediate danger Lei had come down from high alert and projectile vomited across the grass. I gave the nod to Monty to give her the Elixir. We wouldn’t be able to go through any streets with her like this. Pale, gasping and bleeding Lei would garner far too many stares and lord knows what else. I put the last of our patrol to the back burner of priorities for the moment. We stand watching the Elixir begin to take effect. Pale wisps of skin appear to knit over the gashes in her skin. The blood stops seeping from her skin, soon enough there were no open wounds, the deep red of bruising impending had lightened to a slightly flushed colour. Lei was breathing normally. We wait to see if she will throw up again, but even that seems to have stopped, not always guaranteed with Elixir.
Satisfied that she has stabilised enough I pass her back her blade that she had dropped in a bout of vomiting. I look around now not so concerned over demons, I am not the only one who had this thought I catch Ward’s eye. We look around now for any Adam and Eve’s that might have witnessed any of that hot mess of demon crazy. A swarm as big as that, it must have caught some kind of attention from somewhere. Biting the bullet, I see Beth pull out her phone and fire off a message. A moment later there was the familiar beep of reply. Headquarters sent instructions. “Stay put. Keep it secure.” Bethany divides us. Ward and Monty take the north and east perimeter, Beth and Francis to take the south and west. My job, to sit here and keep an eye on Lei. Beth knew I was uncomfortable with her presence anyway, she took that as a sign I would be most on high alert and trust Lei the least, at least that is what Beth whispered in my ear before I could protest.
In seconds they split to their patrols. I waited before I thought they were far enough to be away from earshot as I tried to find a headstone comfortable and strong enough to lean against.
“What were you doing up here?” I ask unable to wait longer for answers.
“Trying to find the patrol. I figured that is where I would get sent so you know.” Lei shrugs and stares at the statue of what appeared to be a Chihuahua.
“And the demons?” I push.
“Well I sort of stumbled on them near the warehouse and they obviously saw me, and next thing I knew I was running, so I tried to get here to get some kind of safe ground. I couldn’t exactly obliterate that many on the street and I hoped you’d be here.”
“You’re lucky, we weren’t far from leaving when you got here. You’re ok now though?”
She nods and smiles at me, “yeah, thanks.” I see a flush in her face, I guess it could be embarrassing. I take a look around and see no one for a distance. They are slowly making their patrols and no one new has entered either gate. I sit next to her. I see her hesitate, for a moment before she speaks, “I make you uncomfortable?”
“That obvious?” I laugh for the first time with her and she just smiles. I swallow the lump in my throat. “Do I make you uncomfortable?”
“Yes” her voice is quiet. “Is it wrong that I feel like I already sort of know you? I mean not just because we look-”
“The exact same? I get it.” She shuffles a little bit closer to me on the stone, I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end when her fingertips graze mine. “I better stay on high alert” I say springing up and looking around.
“No one’s here,” she tells me what I already know standing up. “I must make you really uncomfortable” she says popping a soft mint in her mouth offering me one. I resist, only for a moment, what could the harm be of just one. I take it and thank her, but her gaze doesn’t falter once. It’s like being examined, by a mirror, by yourself in some kind of way. I wonder if this is what Ward see’s when he looks at me? I feel a pang of guilt, it’s not for me to know these things or think these thoughts.
“Thanks” I mumble again remembering my manners as I finally swallow the mint, taking a look around for the others to be in sight. But we seem to be so thoroughly alone right now and Lei seems to have bounced back, swallowing the mint appears to have brought her into high spirits, all though I don’t feel quite so bright around the edges. I suppose the fighting fatigue is slowly setting in.
Lei steps a little closer, her voice seems to have risen a little. “Are you curious?”
I am left a little confused. The change of topic has me thrown for a moment, before I can say “about what” she steps in closer and puts her hand up to push the strand of hair from my face. “About what it would be like to kiss someone who looks almost exactly like you.”
“Can’t say I even thought about it” her face is so close to mine I can smell her breath, fresh mint.
“Liar” she whispers smiling. She steps back and goes to sit back down leaving me standing there astounded in the absence of her presence in front of me. The cool breeze lifts the fog as I resume my watch for my comrades.
I stand there in awkward silence just looking around until I see Ward and Monty followed by a handful of leaders. I straighten up. Readying myself for their approach. A couple of minutes later, though it felt like longer, Ward comes to stand beside me, it appears they had pre briefed Bleddyn and Orla. I grazed the back of Ward’s hand with the back of mine, letting our fingertips catch as Bleddyn and Orla focus their questions on Lei. One question than another about the warehouse and what had happened. Every detail of the report that they could squeeze out of her of the fight and of why she was given Elixir. I hold my breath but that is where the story ends.
Orla turns to Ward and I and orders us to resume the rest of our patrol but rather than the usual split, double up in pairs. Patrol is going to take longer and its already near the end of our shift. We nod and tell Monty that we will let Beth and Francis know. Monty got out of patrol by saying he would go with them to the warehouse just in case of a repeat. Leaving Francis, Beth, Ward and I to divide his area between ours to meet in the middle. We take a walk towards the gates before we part ways.
We look back over our shoulder and see Beth elbow Francis in the ribs. It’s nice to see her having a little fun, him too. They deserve it.