sour times

x

Devan rubbed wrathfully at his temples, not caring that the furious stroking of his head was only adding to his discomfort. His breathing was quick, hissing out of his nostrils in snorts as he tapped his blaster against his knee, clearly agitated. He could still hear the sounds of explosions and gunfire outside his chambers; evidently the battle had not yet been finished.

His eyes wandered over to the Earlong woman, not even bothering to drop down to the explicitly low neckline of her dress as many of his subordinates did, as he found her most repugnant. She drew her own gaze away from the door, eyes narrowing when her eyes settled upon him lacquered lips pursing in a tight line.

"He's coming."

"I gathered," Devan growled, the tapping against his knee faster, harder, more impatient.

"He's going to save me, and he's going to kill you."

The turtle monarch hissed, raising his gun, pointing it at the middle of the princess's spilling chest. She swallowed, lips slightly quivering, but did not waver, staring defiantly back at him, pride mixing in with the sheer and boundless faith that Jazz was, in fact, going to rescue her. Devan smirked, lowering his weapon.

How repulsive.

They sat without speaking again, Devan releasing his temples, but falling back into his nervous twitch, the weight of the blaster against his bony knee somehow comforting, helping to clear his mind. Eva, tied on the far wall, squirmed in her manacles for several seconds, trying to struggle into a more comfortable position while trying to maintain her dignity and the virtue of her hideously plunged neckline.

Something exploded again, stone dust raining down from the ceiling. Devan curled one of his lips, mentally berating himself, so caught up in his own self-loathing that it took him several minutes to realize that Eva had once again spoken.

He blinked. "What?"

"Why are you doing this?" Eva repeated, her face lost of its usual haughtiness, concern washing over her tiny features.

Devan smirked again. "I doubt you could wrap your mind around it, princess," he said, the slightest accent on the word princess, expressing his distaste for the title. Eva's face contorted in anger, but she did not say anything, Devan continuing, standing up, and Eva pressed her ears to her skull, the turtle somehow taller and bulkier than she remembered as he walked closer, somehow threatening.

"I doubt you would understand the feeling of helplessness, experiencing oppression first hand and watching as it slowly swallowed the life of the only people you'd ever cared about. I don't think you have the slightest idea what it is to be an outcast, held back by society from even the simplest joys in life, tiny distractions of happiness that keep you from committing suicide. Do you have an idea how your people treat mine, Ms. Earlong?"

He was painfully close then, and Eva couldn't do much but shake her head and try not to hyperventilate. Her father, the King, had kept his daughter well guarded and ignorant of violent affairs, and she had been only too happy listen to what her Daddy had to say, and respect and trust his decisions. She released a breath, finally noticing that she had been holding one in, realizations spinning through her head.

Devan Shell's war is only about freedom. He used me too, Father used--

Eva floundered for the right words, summoning upon all of her tact and years of charm school. She was drowning, and came up to the surface coughing, and found "Um."

There was a blink of wet amphibious eyes, Devan nodded, pushing his thick glasses up his beak.

"...I'm sorry."

It was whispered, and Devan was not sure he had heard it at all. He was startled, his defenses painfully lowered, and hadn't had time to brace himself for any kind of sympathy from her. He sneered, face slowly giving way to surprise when Eva stared back at him, pain and compassion and perhaps even pity scribbled across her soft face. Devan swallowed.

It was a trick. It had to be. No rabbit had even shown him anything less than scorn, much less consideration. He was losing his balance, and could not disguise his fear of the deep.

"I don't hate you."

Devan was suddenly drowning, too. He sucked in a mouthful of air, feeling overwhelmed and overpowered, by a tiny rabbit woman who was chained to a wall. No threat to him.

Every threat to him.

Because she did care. She, of all people, his captive, held no hate or fear of him, only sorrow and compassion. Something shifted inside of him, and he despised it already.

Devan finally regained control of himself, pushing his glasses up, pulling up his defenses. He reached out, and slapped Eva, and was able to turn in time to see a familiar green hairball explode in through the shattered doorway.

"Devan Shell," Jazz nodded, face devoid of his usual humor and sarcasm, training his blaster on Devan's chest.

"Salutations, Jazz," Devan returned, raising his own blaster, victory resolute in his mind, even as pain seared its way through his heart, something erupting inside of him. His breath was torn from him, his mouth awash with blood. Devan was plunged into the deep again, and fell, submerged and suffocating as his shell met with the back wall, body slumping forward as he lay twitching, breath turning rapidly to liquid and gurgling out of his nostrils.

I am...... very fond of you too, Eva.

x

fin.