Those four words
Considering the circumstances Santa felt calm, almost serene. The fear that had influenced him the last hours was gone, now that the end was out of reach no longer. It was good to know what was going on- so relievingly simplifying.
"You had all this planned from the beginning, eh?", he asked, breathing heavingly. It was hard to move with all the blood and the pain he had to concentrate on, but he managed to roll on his back and look at her.
When he had first woken up in his cabin, almost drowning as he searched the room over and over for clues. The puzzle hadn't been that much of a problem, the key for the numbered door 3, however, had been in the water already, hard to see.
Outside, on the staircase, he had met them all, all of his unlucky companions.
And she had been among them, the girl with the bright red hair and now he knew what had made him feel uneasy around her.
"You killed my brother", she simply said and bit her lip.
Now Clover was a little girl now more, she was a demon with an axe now. The edge of her weapon's blade was painted red with Santa's blood- was it his? He had no idea if he was the first to die or just another corpse on her way to freedom.
"No, goddamn"; he murmured and laughed, swallowing blood, "Come on, what reason could I possibly have to kill a blind old man? If I had had a chance to kill someone, I'd have chosen someone that's more of a threat."
"You and Seven forced him to authenticate on door 3 and then you shoved him in there alone! It was you, bastard, stop fucking search or apologies!"
Santa couldn't help but laugh. He had not particularly liked Snake, but that didn't mean he was ready to kill the man.
He faintly remembered how Clover had said her name at the central staircase, explaining it was connected to the four-leaved flower- her number would suit as well.
He gagged, but couldn't stop laughing.
His body had tensed automatically… 'four-leaved clover'.
Those terrible leaf words would follow him around the world and back again, even in the Nonary Game they haunted him. And now there was this girl who embodied the words he hated so much and she was his executioner of all people.
"Whatever. Believe what you want, doesn't matter anyway."
The axe had hit him twice, but not hard enough to kill him. His whole body was on fire, so that he couldn't tell where the wounds were and how bad they looked.
Clover stood and watched.
Then she smiled.
Santa felt the horror tingle down his spine as he saw her eyes.
They sparkled like he had never seen it before, sparkled with joy.
"Oh, it does matter. I will leave you to drain if you deny it any longer, honey."
Drain- he definitely didn't like the sound of it. But his senses were numb and his body paralyzed by shock, so what would it change?
He tried to avoid thinking of death, he wasn't yet ready to die at all. It was a childish repulsion of something he did not know, but it was a grip too strong on his heart, lowering its beat. The feelings washed over him with an unknown intensity and suddenly he felt he was halfway there… it wouldn't take long now.
"Yeah, fuck you", he spat and tried to hide his fear, "Just piss off already and kill whoever it is you want to blame."
Clover tilted her head and grinned wickedly. There was something dark and wrong in her eyes, like a hidden message in a song you discover too late and never forget. It hit Santa she was probably not quite right in the head because of her brother's death, but he couldn't find the strength to pity her.
"They killed your sister, too, right?", she asked, completely ignoring him. Her voice was distant and Santa felt like she had now lost it completely.
"Don't you dare speak of her, she wasn't crazy as-"
"But you are, aren't you?"
Her question fazed him and he suddenly wished she would just finish and be gone with it. In his past were several things he didn't want to talk about, especially with a teenage girl trying to kill him.
"You should know what it feels like to seek revenge for someone you lost and loved"; she said arrogantly and sounded like the aristocrat her brother had looked like, "Yeah, not an axe, but a gun- how doesn't that make us equal?"
Santa clenched his teeth and tried to crawl backwards, to no avail.
"The difference is that I am not fucked in the head"; he forced himself to say, while he felt cold sweat drop from his forehead. Breathing seemed like an impossibility now and the taste of copper provoked the urge to vomit.
But all he could do was stare.
Clover had surprised him in one of the hallways, yelling a warning and he had been so foolish to turn around and look for the threat. The sharp pain was a memory now and suddenly Santa wondered if he'd feel anything after he drained. He didn't believe in heaven or hell, but what awaited him then?
"I know you understand me", Clover claimed and shook her head in a pitying motion. Suddenly she started screaming.
"So why did you have to kill him? Why can't you see what it means to me? Answer, you-"
"Come on, seriously?", he interrupted her weakly, "You run around killing people for no reason and ask me if I understand you while I bleed out on the fucking floor of a ship I am taken hostage on? What did you expect, honestly?"
Clover kept silent and avoided his eyes. Santa thought she looked much scarier when she seemed to be sane and still held the axe.
"Just get over with already, you annoy me", he said. He knew he couldn't keep his façade up much longer, the grip tightened on his chest, he was almost ready to scream and curse incoherently to just make it stop.
"Remember why I did this, 'k? Remember it was me!", she said, devoid of all emotions.
Santa had a thousand sarcastic answers, a thousand laughs he wanted her to hear, but he was silenced too soon.
Hope, faith, love and luck… leaf words.