Chapter 18: Broken Bottle

Here's to hoping I haven't lost readers over the course of two years since my last post… Review responses first and foremost, as usual.

Ruby10294: Thanks for the review. I'm glad you enjoy my fanfic, and I'm sorry you had to wait so long again. I hope you enjoy this update.

John Smith/IHAVENONAME/007: I believe you're the same person, so. Haha. I'm glad you enjoy. And though you're right, I don't like David, he does have a point and I'm trying to get Griffin to realize it. Griffin doesn't want to, but we're taking it slowly (as you can see from two years of no updating..?) Anyway. Here you are!

ArandoraStar: I hope you enjoy the dinner, and don't worry, totally normal stuff happens. Lolol.

BritanyJean: I'm glad you like this fanfic, and I'm even more so glad that you think I've written it well. Hopefully after a two year absence, I'll seem even better of a writer to you (and I do feel I have definitely improved). I just hope it doesn't seem too awkward of a difference. Haha. I don't know how much I've changed. .

Valkyrii: Thank you for the constructive criticism. I feel like the whole story needs a revamp once it's done, since I've written it over the course of four or five years, with giant breaks in between, so my ideas/pacing changed drastically from time to time, and I think that's what you're experiencing. I feel like my writing has much improved since the last time I updated, so hopefully you'll continue to overall enjoy it. If I ever go through and polish it/even it out, I'll be sure to let you know and see what you think. (:

: My sincerest apologies for the lack of update. Here you go, you deserve this. Also, feel free to threaten me if I give you too long of a wait between chapters again.

Lovebuggy: I do believe you've been around since the beginning, and I want to thank you for continuing to read and sticking with me through my horrible absences. I'm glad you enjoyed the story so far and I hope that I remain up to par, and that you enjoy this as well. Here's to hoping my next update doesn't take two whole years again!

SissorSplit: Glad you enjoyed! Sorry to keep you waiting. I hope you like this chapter as much as the rest. (:

LuLeo: Haha. Well, I'm glad you left a review after all. Here's a long-awaited, well-deserved chapter update for you.

Jumper fan: Sorry, sorry, sorry! Dx I'm so grateful you enjoyed the story, and I'm so sorry you've been waiting for another update. Here! Take it! D;

Anon: My bad. I'm glad you think it's one of the greatest ever. ); Here's an update for you.

Theeminator10: I'm sorry! Here you go, late, as usual. D; I just hope you think it's worth the wait.

Animals are my life: I didn't update soon. . Here's one, finally. I'm glad you like my story. Please keep reading!

Are You Afraid Yet: I'm glad you're in love with this story. It makes me so happy to hear that. Thanks for reading, and I'm soooo sorry for the wait on this update.

Crusherccme: I'm glad you enjoyed it, sorry for the wait. D;

LadyMorph18: I need Griffin sicced on me, I deserve it. I totally lied about updating. Dx Finally, here you have your well-deserved chapter. Don't hate me. ):

Trinityjean: Sorry! Here you go!

Not gonna waste words, just go ahead and read, guys.

Griffin scowled as he righted his shirt, yanking impatiently at the cloth. Button up shirts were not his favorite item out of his wardrobe, and he never wore them two nights in a row. He didn't care if Mercy wanted him to wear a tie—he didn't own any, and wouldn't wear one even if he did. It was too easy to choke someone who was wearing a tie, he knew from experience, and he wasn't about to put himself in such a position.

He wished he was wearing his favorite t-shirt and lounging on his couch watching old movies right about now.

"Can I come in? Are you decent?"

"Yeah." Griffin snapped, still fumbling with the shirt. His hands moved up the shirt, buttoning as they went. Mercy slipped into the small section of the cave with him, scanning him up and down as he turned to cast his slightly irritated glance her way.

"Oh, Griffin, it looks great on you!" She was already close to him, since the space was so small, and she closed that distance completely by throwing her arms around his neck for a moment. Griffin paused in his buttoning, his scowl softening slightly, and she pulled back, a grin on her features as she fixed his collar. "It brings out the blue in your eyes."

He had to admit; she'd chosen the shirt's color well, something between light blue and gray, slightly metallic and silky. He supposed it wasn't too bad, as long as he didn't have to wear a tie or button it all the way to the top. He rewarded her with a small smile. "You sound like such a bloody girl, Mercy."

"Well, I am a girl, so get over it." She released the collar she'd fixed, smoothed the material across his shoulders, and then took over his buttoning.

Griffin stilled and let his hands drop, looking the inch down at her with a small, bewildered smile on his face. He was unintentionally and extremely conscious of how close she was to him, and part of him hated it as much as the other half of him relished in it. He didn't want to be dragged along to dinner with David and Millie, but Mercy was hard for him to resist, and he couldn't stay mad at her for it for long. He didn't want to admit it, but he thought that David might have been right. If it meant choosing between killing Roland and saving her…? The choice he'd make was a simple one that went against everything he'd taught himself since the day his parents had died. The revelation unsettled him, scared him, even. But perhaps, since she was a Jumper, like him, things would turn out differently than they had before.

She finished buttoning his shirt and looked up, meeting his eyes unexpectedly. She stared at him for a moment, and then blinked. "What's wrong?"

He shook his head and flashed her a grin, leaning over to kiss her forehead. "It's nothing, Mercy. Your turn to get ready, yeah?" He brushed past her and through the curtain into the larger part of the lair, escaping, heart pounding.

Idiot. No feelings, no attachments, remember? You know what happens.

He cast a gloomy look towards the curtain, behind which Mercy was getting dressed. You let her kiss you, kiss her back, and what does that lead to? Sex? And then what? She's your girlfriend? You just hunt Paladins and go on about your merry fucking way?

When Mercy emerged, Griffin was still lost in thought, and he looked up distractedly. When his eyes fell on her, however, what he saw stunned it all out of his head.

She was clothed in a black dress of slick looking fabric, slitted to just above her knees on both sides, with the neckline cut to reveal her shoulders. It hugged her curves suggestively, and Griffin could only stare, speechless.

"Well?" Her makeup was different, too, but Griffin couldn't really tell how, he wasn't well versed in such things. Still, he could see the question in her glittering emerald eyes, and the vulnerable tilt to her lips.

He opened his mouth to say something, couldn't find a word to utter, and closed it again.

"It's the dress, isn't it? It's a little much. I can go change…" She turned hastily to go back through the curtain. He was waiting for her on the other side, and caught her in his arms as she yelped in surprise.

"Don't, please…" He muttered, not meeting her eyes. "It looks… great…"

She eyed him suspiciously for a moment, and then a small smile curled up the corners of her lips. "You think so?"

He nodded mutely, and her smile widened. She leaned into his chest, bringing her face inches from his. "Yours is the only opinion I care about."

Then they were kissing, and all thoughts of what they shouldn't be doing were as far from Griffin's thoughts as anything ever could be. When he pulled away, they were both breathless, and he took a step back, letting his hands linger on her arms. There was a hunger in his eyes that she didn't recognize, that looked something like what she saw when he was hunting, but not the same at all. She grinned at him, and he frowned back at her.

"Ready to go, then? We still have to catch a cab." She said softly, and slipped her hand into his as he nodded. In another heartbeat, the lair was empty.

The cab ride lasted half an hour, because they'd chosen a place far enough away from their destination so as not to gain Paladin attention. The restaurant was higher end, though when Griffin protested, Mercy assured him that David was buying.

"On stolen bank notes, no doubt." He muttered heatedly, but said no more. They met the couple at the door, exchanged greetings, and were seated at the restaurant. There was a bit of awkward tension between David and Griffin, but the girls got along well, and did enough talking for the four of them put together.

Griffin spent most of the evening in quiet contemplation or watching Mercy enjoy herself. While he was out of his element in a button up shirt and a restaurant that served hundred dollar bottles of wine, she was enjoying herself thoroughly, and he could see without a doubt that she must have had a lot of friends before the Paladins. He wondered if it bothered her that she was stuck with just him in a cave in the tropics. He didn't require social interaction, but she did.

Though he had ignored David for much of the night, when it came time to pay the bill and he paid in cash, Griffin couldn't resist slipping in a snarky comment.

"Nice to know you haven't changed. Still stealing from banks, Davie-boy?"

David shot him a glare. "Am I supposed to get a job somewhere? Do tell where you get your own funds."

"I have a job, and it's hunting Paladins. Tried to get you in on that one, but you sort of left me hanging."

The all-too literal language that Griffin used caused David to burst into genuine laughter, and Griffin seemed a little irked for a moment, before he relaxed slightly and shrugged. "It pays well enough for me. At least I don't steal from people who are going to keep using their money."

At that moment, the server came back with David's change, which he left as a generous tip on the table as they stood to leave.

David continued their conversation on the way out. "If you think about it, I don't steal from people at all. I steal from corporations, and they don't really need all that money, do they?"

"Do you?"

"What, need all that money? Sure. Better me than them."

Griffin shrugged, bored with the conversation already and becoming irritable. He slipped over to Mercy and touched her arm. She turned to face him, and he was struck by how happy she looked. He didn't know what she and Millie had been talking about, but whatever it was, she had enjoyed the subject. Part of him didn't want to ruin her fun. She guessed what he wanted anyway.

"Well, we'd better get going, Paladins to hunt, you know." She said, glancing between Millie and David. "Thanks so much for dinner, it was great! We really should do it again." David and Griffin were quick to say farewell, though Millie and Mercy shared a few more words before hugging, and then finally parting.

When they were walking off down the street alone at last, Griffin stole a glance in her direction. She caught his gaze, grinned at him, and linked her arm with his. "That wasn't so bad, was it? You guys seemed to get along fine to me."

"For two people who want nothing to do with each other, I'm sure you're right. We're definitely good at pretending to be civil, anyway." He replied, wrinkling his nose with disdain. She laughed.

"You enjoyed yourself, don't lie."

"I enjoyed you." He responded truthfully, and she turned to face him again, her expression quizzical.

"I don't—"

"Don't fret too much over it, Mercy. I'm not social, but I can appreciate the fact that you are. It was nice to see you enjoying yourself, love."

She smiled softly. "Well, I can accept that, at least. We're going to do it again someday."

"I'll be there." He grinned. "And I'll ignore that bloody imbecile David all over again. Won't that be fun?"

She nudged his shoulder as if reprimanding him, but there was a smile on her face as well. They turned down an alley and prepared to jump home.

Footsteps echoed behind them, and Mercy glanced over her shoulder, a smile still on her face. Her eyes widened, however, and she pushed Griffin aside abruptly. A shot rang out as Griffin fell to one knee from the force of Mercy's push. Blood sprayed, droplets falling on his hands. He stared, uncomprehending for a moment, but running footsteps took his attention next. He turned, in time to see a green bottle swinging straight for his face.

Blackness enveloped him.

It was only a few moments before he regained consciousness, but it was enough to leave him feeling unsettled and groggy. He opened his eyes to a night sky and a brick wall rising into the stars. He blinked, something sticky and warm was running down his forehead and into his hair. He raised his arm, despite the feeling that his whole body was asleep without him, and touched it, bringing his fingers in front of his eyes to find them bloodied.

Blood. Mercy.

He started, then, and suddenly registered what he was hearing. A woman, sobbing and calling out—calling out a name, his name.

He sat bolt upright, in spite of the dizziness that sent him reeling and the throbbing pain in his head. What the fuck is going on?! Mercy!

He turned, scrambling to his feet, taking in the scene before him. Mercy was backed into a corner, bleeding from a wound on her arm, her makeup streaked from tears, eyes fixed on the three men surrounding her.

"So, doll, where's the money? Your boy over there don't have none, so you must be the one with it, eh? Give it to us and maybe we'll let you go without hurting you more."

"I don't have any money." She said, voice shaking slightly.

"Oh, that's too bad." Another of the men said, grinning sickly and grabbing her bleeding arm. She yelped from the pain, and he laughed. "What do you think, boys? No money. Should we have some fun instead?"

Griffin could see her terror, see that she was frozen with it. Finally he was standing, if unsteadily, and a black rage filled him to the brim. These men were even worse than the Paladins. He looked around for a weapon, but he hadn't brought one and the bottle that they'd used to knock him out had broken, the neck still in the hands of one of the men, jagged edges held out in Mercy's direction.

It took him a moment to find the place in himself that allowed him to jump. When he did, he ignored the sick feeling that rose in him and forced it. It hurt, for the first time in a long time, but he ended up where he'd planned, in the air over the man with the bottle. Leaving behind a jumpscar bigger than he'd ever seen, he fell through the air with a snarl, landing squarely on the man's shoulders. He went down, bones cracking, barely able to breath enough to scream, and Griffin snatched up the bottle.

The other two men looked at him with alarm, and the one with his hand around Mercy's arm squeezed. She gasped, and Griffin nearly couldn't form words around his anger. "Let her go." He growled, motioning with the bottle.

"No." The man holding her snarled back, grinning sickly and lifting his other hand.

The gun. Griffin had forgotten the gun. It was now right in Mercy's face, and he almost couldn't breathe.

"Just leave, boy. Before we hurt her more than we want to."

Griffin stood absolutely still for a moment, and then dropped the bottle.

"Good. Now turn around and walk away."

Griffin's stormy eyes glittered. He was calculating beyond the pain in his head, his gaze flicking between the two men and Mercy, who stood completely silent and still, and instead of looking to the gun or her assailants, chose instead to fix her gaze on him. He was caught for a moment on her eyes, and he saw them calm as she let out a breath.

She trusted him to do what he thought was best to save her. He nodded, and then fixed his gaze back on the man with the gun.


Griffin took a slow step back, not breaking his gaze, and the man grinned. "Good boy."

But Griffin's eyes held no surrender, no meek acceptance of the circumstances. They burned with unbridled fury, glimmering with a promise of pain. If the man didn't take that look seriously, that wasn't Griffin's fault. He took another step back, and then vanished.

The men broke into curses, and the one with the gun pulled it away from Mercy to point it around them.

"Where the fuck…?"

Griffin slipped out of the shadow behind him, gripping the hand holding the gun and twisting it. His movements were practiced and fluid, and his fingertips, which had been placed precisely over important tendons, did their work—the gun clattered to the ground and the man screamed in pain. That was cut off all-too quickly with one jab to the throat, and he fell to his knees, choking, as Griffin bent to pick up the gun with slow and deliberate movements. The other male bolted. Griffin watched him run with smoldering eyes, glanced down to the man on the ground, who was still struggling to breathe, gave him a kick for good measure, and then swayed from dizziness as his head spun.

Shaking his head and wincing, he rubbed his face with the hand holding the gun, looked at the gun like he didn't know why it was in his hand, and then glanced to Mercy. Alarm flashed across his face, then, and he shoved the gun into his pantline, moving over to her and gingerly, but hastily, examining her arm.

"It's just a graze, I'm fine." She said, trying to hide the tremor in her voice.

He shook his head again, ripped a piece of fabric from his shirt, and gently but firmly bandaged the wound to staunch the bleeding.

"Griffin, seriously, I'm more worried about you. That hit you took to your head, you could have a concussion."

"I'm okay." He growled, finally satisfied that her wound was taken care of for the time being. He grabbed her hand then, like he was going to jump them home, and then shook his head again, pinching the bridge of his nose with a grimace as he tried not to sway. "Maybe you should jump us home, though."

She looked at him with concern, eying the blood flowing sluggishly from his forehead warily, but she nodded.

"Be gentle, please." He said weakly, closing his eyes. Before the man could breathe properly again, they were gone, as if they hadn't even existed. Once he could take in air, he bolted too.

I'm sorry it took so long. I'm not going to make promises I can't keep for the next chapter, but considering the fact that I'm going to make it sort of sexy, and I want some action to go on soon, I should be less lazy. As a college student, I'm busy sometimes, so I have a problem with doing other things. I'm so grateful to all of you who are still reading, and who have been reading from the beginning. I love you all so much and I hope you stick with me until the end. It's not too far off! I think, anyway. Haha. Characters. They have a mind of their own, don't they?

Until next time,