White Hawk and Sable Swan: A Martial Romance of the Far Future - Part XIV (End)

in #fiction6 years ago (edited)

This is the fourteenth and final part of an ongoing serial, written in honor of the Swords of St. Valentine initiative. Here are Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen.

The light was fading. It was like there was a ring of darkness around his head, clamping his brow, growing smaller and softer and fuzzier with every strangled breath.

He batted at the hand around his throat with his own. But it was so useless. Why was he even resisting?

No! She was there too! Dying! He had to…

He kicked, but his legs were feeble as a kitten’s. He stared at her, a dark gasping shape on the edges of his fading vision. He blinked.

The pain was fading. He was fading. Relief, sweet rest, cradled his brow like the bosom of his long-lost mother. All he had to do was stop breathing.

It was all becoming so…

He reached for her and touched, for an instant, her flailing hand. The ring of darkness wiped the world away.

#####

There was no room in Xu Hai’s head for thought. No room for fear, or disgust, or even anger. Two days of near-constant paralysis had reduced her to little more than an automaton, a husk filled with one thought only.

The wish to see him. The wish for him to live.

And so, when his hand touched hers, sending her one last gasp of chi, she moved without conscious thought.

She drew her leg back and kicked her father in the groin. She did it again, and again, with every last ounce of her enhanced strength, until at last he screamed in agonized frustration and threw her to the bed.

“You dirty sow bitch whore! I’ll kill you! I’ll tear you apart!”

And as he lunged for her throat, wild with fury, she raised two stiff fingers straight up and struck him with the Three-Point Flash-Freeze, right beneath the neck.

#####

“Please. Wake up. Don’t be dead. Please.”

He stirred, then coughed and spluttered. Pain raked its fingers down his left side and forearm. He screamed.

“You’re alive,” said the girl. Her voice was like a broken pot, too exhausted, too fragile to even emote. It took him a whole minute to realize who she was.

“Xu Hai,” he said. “Oh, Heaven. Xu Hai.”

“I called the ambulance,” she said. “Froze Father’s meridians. They should be here, they traced his phone, and… I…”

She sank into his good shoulder and shook, quietly, gasping dry and arid sobs. He leaned his head against her matted hair, breathed in her sweat and stench like perfume.

“He was recording,” she choked. “The whole time, with the holoprojectors. He wanted everything.”

“Shh. It’s alright, Xu Hai. It’s alright. How did you stop him?”

“The synthsuit, it doesn’t block chi transfer. If… if it did, then there’s no way you could use any techniques in-ring…”

“You didn’t kill him,” he said.

“It’d… it’d turn me into him,” she said miserably. “A criminal. Li Wei, I… I thought I’d never see you again. I thought you hated me. They wanted me to fight you in the championship, and I said… oh, Li Wei, I couldn’t do it. You’d be back on the streets, and then you’d starve, and…”

Her words spilled out like water. He raised shaking fingers to touch her hair. It slicked his palm with grime and oil.

“You silly girl,” he smiled. “Did you really think you could beat me that easily?”

“What? I… I can’t fight in the…”

“You will,” he said. “I’ll make sure you will. You’ll carry on everything people loved about your father and his legacy. And if you’re good enough… well, I might just see you in next year’s championship bout, Sable Swan.”

“But if you lose, then…”

“Never mind if you kick my ass or not. As long as I have you, Hai-er, I’ll be fine.”

This time, she really did bawl.

“Wei-er…

It was true, he thought, as he patted her shaking shoulders. He finally understood what the Red Arhat meant. As long as he saw her as a means to stay his loneliness, she was nothing but a crutch for him. As long as she saw him as a ticket to the tournament life, he was nothing but a footstool to her. Both means to each other’s ends. Both nothing but selfish desires.

But now that they had almost died for each other?

“You’re an idiot, you know that?” he smirked. “The strongest idiot I’ve ever met.”

“And you’re a punk-ass jerk,” she laughed, her voice wet and ragged around the edges. “But I guess I’ll let that pass for now, my gentleman knight. Maybe if this goes on, I can let you in on the family secrets.”

There wasn’t much good in death, for either of them. Not at all.

“Yes, milady.”

He placed his torn fingers on her dirty chin, leaned in as the sweet siren of the ambulance rang, and kissed her.

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Finally. Thank you for an exhilarating read.

And thank you very much for reading. :)

You're welcome.

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