Author's Note: Hi, I'm really sorry I haven't updated in so long, but I'm very busy with school and dying to catch a break; hope you'll enjoy this chapter, remember reviews are always welcomed.
"You and I have unfinished business." – "Baby, you ain't kidding."
Kill Bill Volume II
He'd never felt least like a predator than now.
Paul Kellerman was used to control. Not unimaginable strength, but a sharp intelligence and well enough developed for him to able to take on about anyone. A proper strategically placed hit was worth better than an angry huge fist. A rightfully aimed bullet was worth every blow in the world.
But animals – well, that was a different story. One that he'd never needed to consider either. Exactly where do you punch a white bloody shark?
"Oh god." The young woman uttered for what was probably the ninth or tenth time. "Paul?" And there came that urgent plea, desperate and terrified.
It hadn't taken very long for Kellerman to guess that Sara wasn't such a big fan of sharks. Since the animal's aileron had innocently peaked out of the blue sea, her body had tensed into his and she'd clung closer to him almost ridiculously so, as though to be plastered to her companion's skin would make it less likely to be eaten by a big toothy fish.
"Paul?" Sara repeated, still that same frenzied panicked squeak, as though half hoping for him to say 'what, this a shark? Come on, princess, it's clearly nothing but a big sunfish.'
But Kellerman didn't say anything.
He was a little ashamed to admit that there was something inside the young woman's fear that he actually enjoyed, and not just because she was still half naked and sitting on his lap; there was something about her terror that awakened something very primal and dark, buried deep inside of Paul Kellerman. The animal. The one that didn't have a face or a name, but which was perennially starving and enticed; to this animal's ears, Sara's terrified shrieks of his name were perhaps just as exciting as the lustful moans she was letting out seconds earlier.
He could have enjoyed it, and exactly might have enjoyed it if the danger stirring the young woman's fear had been something that he could control. He could have enjoyed her worry if he'd been able to nobly step in front of her, in a protective manly way, then shoot at whatever it was that was the source of her fear.
But he didn't have a gun here. He didn't even have a way to get their sabotaged motorboat to work. In other terms, the only reason why he wasn't also letting out shrill terrified shrieks was out of sheer pride. That, and the fact that it wouldn't help with the young woman's panic.
Paul Kellerman drew in a deep breath and summoned that imperturbable phlegm which came in handy so often. "Relax." He told Sara, being careful to remain unflinchingly calm himself. "It's going to be okay."
"It's going to be okay." He reasserted, articulating slowly to demonstrate his confidence; the quick moment of uncertainty had gone and he was back to his normal state of mind. If there was one thing that the Burrows case had taught him, it's that there was always a way out. "Sara." He called so that she'd look at him, because he wouldn't be able to handle things correctly with a hysterical woman chained to his wrist. "How long have you been scared of sharks?"
She swallowed, only with slight embarrassment. "Ever since I saw Steven Spielberg's movie."
Kellerman nodded, and retained a sigh of relief because he clearly wasn't dealing with a phobic; and that would have been a great problem. "Look, we're going to get out of this, okay? If you knew how many situations I've gotten out of which would make this one look like a piece of cake, you'd probably have a good laugh right now."
She didn't exactly look as though she was in the mood to laugh, but Kellerman could hardly hold that against her.
"Things are going to be fine." He said again, to her and to himself. Because they were going to be fine, it was simply the only possible alternative; he had not gotten through a lifetime of dodging bullets and death threats to end up as shark food.
He didn't have much time to register what was happening before Sara's face was diving into his neck, certainly in the aim to hide the shark away from her eyes rather than to seek comfort, nevertheless her nose was buried against the hollow of his shoulder, breathing warm air into his throat, and her red hair seemed to pour out of him like blood from a gashing wound.
He rested a hand against he back of her head, more reflexively than out of actual affection at first. Whilst torn between practical thoughts and the terrified redhead snuggled against him, he kept an eye on the shark.
Still at reasonable distance; still not disproportionately big. But it would have no trouble tipping over their boat, no doubt in that.
Kellerman swallowed, his eyes still fixed ahead. "Sara?" He called, and took the woman's hushed whimper as a sign she was listening. "We're going to get out of this." He said for the umpteenth time, though with actual faith this time. "You'll need to help me look for something heavy in the boat, we're going to scare it off –"
"Paul…" She interrupted in a sigh; a desperate long-suffering sigh. "Do you think we're being punished?"
"Punished?" He echoed with audible annoyance.
And exactly what would they be punished for, he wondered. Kissing? There was no law against that last he'd checked, which meant that she could only be referring to one thing, and the fact that Sara would get preoccupied over her boyfriend right now deeply irritated him.
"No." He answered firmly, and a little bit dryly. "No, Sara, I don't think there's anything such as karma and I don't think that we're getting punished for anything. I think that we're going to get out of this situation and laugh about it when it's over, and also finish what we were in the middle of earlier."
She straightened her position slightly; her cheeks were almost crimson red, and marked with what could have been light traces of tears – whatever it was, an expression of frustration soon came to replace it.
She let out a sigh, so angry it was close to a grunt. "Could you be any more inappropriate?"
Kellerman uttered a chuckle of disbelief, only tainted with genuine infuriation. "Oh, okay. Really?!" He shouted. "We're going to argue now?"
"Well, it isn't my fault if we're trapped in the middle of the ocean! It isn't my fault if some sea monster is going to make a toothpick out of our boat when it's done chewing on our bones, and all you think about is verifying that you'll still get laid if we survive this."
Kellerman smiled, entirely mirthless and devoid of amusement – that smile was perhaps scarier than the shark. "First of all," he began, his tone a matchless imitation of his smile, "it isn't 'if' we survive this but 'when' we survive this. And second of all, this was no verification, sweetheart." And something in the way that he said it made it sound as though absolutely no verifications were in order.
Third of all, he added in his mind only, she didn't have the right to blame him for bringing up sex when she was naked from the waist up and sitting on his lap. Though he hadn't spoken a word of it out loud, the observation seemed to hit her and she hastily attempted to close her shirt, closing her fist around the ripped edges without forgetting to blush and lower her eyes, as though trying to recover a bit of dignity.
Kellerman watched her, entirely wordless, and not one bit amused. "Oh don't," he willingly made a poor attempt at a caring tone, "I'm certain our friend Kenny here will enjoy eating you a lot more without your clothes getting in the way."
She glared at him; not a mild annoyed eye-roll, but the sort of glare that actually burns through your flesh and bone so powerfully that you have believe you'd see that scorching gaze, even if your eyes were closed.
He expected venomous words, but Sara held her tongue. She kept her eyes set on her companion, the one who was pinning her down with his hips and throwing her lace bra into the Atlantic sea not ten minutes earlier. Ultimately, gathering every bit of restrain there was to gather, she said. "You were saying that you had a plan."
"Yes." He agreed on the same tone, both quiet and unbearable with hatred and unreleased tension. Their eyes never parted. "Scaring it off." Kellerman continued. "Although now, I'm thinking it might be smarter to feed you to it and hope it's enough to sate him."
Sara forbade herself to even react. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of merely looking worried or – even worse – begging; he'd be way too glad if she were to even take the threat seriously, so she kept calm and didn't break their eye-contact. It took her a second to utter. "You know, it's going to be dark soon. I hate to tell you that if the shark's here now, more could come."
"In other terms, to let it chew off your leg wouldn't be such a good idea." He grinned at her icy silence. Still that mirthless cold smile. "I was joking, you know. Come on, Sara," he sighed, and he was saying her name in that way she hated again, this peculiar way that both oddly made it sound like something she should be ashamed of and the most beautiful word of all languages on earth. "You know I'd never let a shark make you it's dinner." He continued.
There was something in his voice that was too angry and too falsely innocent for him to leave things at that.
He should really learn to stop teasing her.
She should really learn to stop making him.
"At least," he pursued on the same tone, merciless; almost oddly cold. Almost with despise. "Not until I have."
She didn't glare at him this time, nor slap him, which he had been expecting for quite a while now. She simply moved away from him as violently as though his touch was setting her skin on fire, and the mocking laughter that parted his lips as she pulled as far away from him as she could manage doubled the anger she had for him.
It was more than anger; right at this second, she was certain of it. She hated that man. She hated him just as vigorously as she did when she'd pressed a burning iron to his chest and tried to strangle him in the train to Chicago. And yet she'd begged him to touch her in half-aware sighs, let him undress her damned near completely, and allowed him to put his tongue inside of her mouth.
It didn't make the hatred she felt for him any less true.
Right now she looked at this man, flashing white oddly threatening teeth as he grinned, and she felt many, many heinous things. But disgust was not one of them.
"Well," Kellerman sighed, as though to say 'time to go back to business.' "I'm certain it goes against what you've seen in movies, princess, but sharks aren't actually cruel. I suggest that we toss it some food, half of our supplies if needed, and wait to see if it goes away. We can't be very far from Mexico, still I don't think that we'll make it without food for two or three days." He smiled again, and once more it was entirely humorless. "That really depends on one thing, Sara, would you rather die eaten or starving?"
She didn't answer. Her fist was closed so tightly against her button-less shirt that her knuckles were turning white, and yet the thought of loosening her grip was inadmissible somehow. She ultimately looked away from her companion and her eyes set on the sea – and the huge gray animal clouding the path.
"Yeah, okay." She agreed, complying but glacial. "Let's toss it some food, see where it gets us."
Kellerman nodded and didn't add a word, but he was still smiling in that peculiar way of his. Sara decided that she didn't like that smile; especially now. Now that her fist felt frozen against her ripped shirt, her bare legs cold beneath the cooling air, and her underwear, the only untouched clothing remaining, such a small barrier from Kellerman's eyes.
And that smile seemed to say: you and I have unfinished business.
He'd never least felt like a predator than now.
He was looking at her with burning eyes, a sinister overly large grin curved his lips, and he had every bit of the appearance of an animal about to strike. The puma that gracefully circles around an antelope. The wolf that spots a white mouthwatering lamb and sinks his claws into the ground.
She was furious, and beautiful, and hated him, and a six-meter long white shark seemed to have taken interest in their boat, but there was something less obviously wrong than all of that. There was something both thrilling and painful about hurting her.
He'd never least felt like a predator than now.
"How far?" The young woman wondered, and he had to at least give her credit for the perfect restrain and coldness in her voice.
"As far as you can manage." He answered.
He'd figured they might as well begin by throwing all the meat, and so they'd opened the canned duck first.
Kellerman slightly sighed before he went on. "We want to lure him away from the boat, not closer to it."
The young woman remained professionally silent while they complied; exactly six cans of duck confit went through, plus a couple of peas, but it didn't seem to drive the shark away. Sara had let out a gasp the first time the animal had jumped and caught the flying food; it actually looked bigger out of water. It looked realer, too. After that one, she'd let Kellerman throw the food, only because she knew he could throw it farther than she could, and opened the cans herself.
Neither of them tired or complained for a while; she was the first one to speak, only after letting out a slight sigh – one that was rather scared and defeated than angry. "It isn't working, is it?"
"You can't know that." She insisted, and bit her lip before looking at the sky and sighing again. "It's getting really dark."
"Sara." Paul interrupted, and this time her name didn't sound nearly as annoying. He looked at her with a form of solemnity and repeated. "It will." He sighed too, because she was silent again, and because he didn't intend to apologize but would like her to forgive. Maybe just because they'd been tossing the shark food for about half an hour and it really wasn't working.
If he was going to speak again – not to apologize, but start towards a truce nevertheless – he never got the chance to. Because soon, devoid of all trace of resentment or even anger, Sara's hand closed on his wrist. "Paul." She spoke with urgency, one which was perhaps greater than the one he'd heard when she'd spotted the shark.
Her neck was twisted behind her shoulder, and that's when he noticed that her recent hadn't been due to resentment at all; it was fear. Plain fear.
He looked behind his shoulder as well and followed her gaze; then he didn't search, he saw. He couldn't not have seen and had not seen sooner, only because they'd both been so busy looking at the shark ahead that neither had bothered to glance behind.
There stood a gigantic boat, which was a monster of steel rather than it was a machine. A mountain which made the shark look like a cockroach, and their small motorboat a pebble. The vessel was far enough, but inevitable and undoubtedly imminent. The night had taken away its shadow and it stood there like an apparition; a ghost ship, spectral and alive.
Kellerman swallowed and uttered. "I guess they found us."