A shrill whistle caught her attention just as she was about to enter the teleporting station.
She looked up and, seeing Ribbon standing in the doorway, watching her, she jumped right into the stall and tried to activate it.
It didn’t work.
Ribbon’s laugh was harsh. “You honestly thought it’d be that easy?” she asked, pushing off of the door and entering the transportation hub. The door closed with a decisive click behind her, telling Amadhay that she was now locked in there with the woman. “You need a password,” Ribbon explained, moving around the cars. Amadhay warily moved from the teleport, keeping a good distance between herself and Ribbon. Ribbon was doing a good job of circling her, but Amadhay kept her eyes on the woman.
“See, I would ask you what you’re doing, but I’m pretty sure I know,” Ribbon held something up in front of her face and it took Amadhay a moment to recognize her hair ribbon. “It’s weird, because when I went to check on you, all I found was this. Even weirder is that Kimiko and Tairyn are searching their room and the garden for the chip, worried that they must have lost it. But I thought it was strange that I remember her having the chip right before you attacked Tairyn. Funny coincidence, huh?”
Amadhay still didn’t say anything, keeping a close eye on Ribbon as she moved closer to the door. She pulled at it, but it didn’t budge. “Green sleeves?” she muttered, but the door still didn’t budge.
Ribbon laughed again. “Come on Red Bird. You have to do better than that.” She hopped right over an air cart and was eating up the distance between them quickly, but Amadhay rolled right under a carriage. She could see Ribbon through the window, but the width of the carriage kept them apart. Amadhay kept moving back, not wanting to have to fight the woman.
“You see, it’s funny, because I knew something was wrong with you the moment I found you in the garden. You were too calm, too sure of yourself. That wasn’t my Red Bird, who’d been curled up at my side for the past week. No, you see, that was much more like the Red Robin I first met. The calculating, manipulative Phoegani member.”
She gave another harsh laugh as she walked the entire length of the carriage rather than rolling under it, which would have been easy for her to do. Amadhay slid across a car. She tried the door, but it was locked.
“How long have you been planning this? Or was it a spur of the moment thing?” Ribbon paused for a moment, watching as Amadhay tried different doors, her green eyes turning paler by the click, a sure sign to the aelfe that Ribbon was calling all of her power to her skin.
“Because I figure that you’ve been planning this the whole time, only this was the first time the chip was somewhere you could get it, which in hindsight was probably a stupid idea. We just thought that with you all grief-stricken, that you might not notice us working. Should’ve known.” Ribbon moved quickly and stood on the hood of a car before moving to stand on the cab, jumping over to the top of another and then another until she was at the end of the cars. “Because you always notice everything. You always have. You are always watching. And we were idiots to let our guard down when you still hadn’t.”
Amadhay dashed back to the teleporter.
“Are you even actually sad about the golem-makers death, or was that all part of your plan too?”
“His name was Indigo,” Amadhay automatically responded, focusing on the way Ribbon had pointedly not attacked yet. She thought that maybe Ribbon didn’t want to hurt her anymore than she wanted to hurt Ribbon. “And don’t ever question my feelings about him.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Lying Bird, I just wasn’t sure what parts of you were real. Didn’t mean to insult you,” she drawled, circling around toward the teleport again. “It’s just you’re so good at faking emotions that it’s hard to tell.”
“I really don’t want to hurt you,” Amadhay whispered, more to herself, but Ribbon heard her.
She gave her a sharp smile. “I think we might be a bit past the time where we worry about hurting each other. That’s a fixed point. The real question is how much I have to hurt you.” Amadhay frowned, staring at her lover. “Am I going to have to kill you? It would be an incredible shame if I do. Atlas would never get over it. But if I don’t, how long before you betray us again?”
“Just let me go and no one has to get hurt,” Amadhay tried. She tried not to let it bother her that Ribbon was worried about hurting Atlas, but was completely fine with killing her. She had thought they were more than that, more than she was with Atlas.
“I’m already hurt!” Ribbon yelled, allowing Amadhay to see that she was truly upset with the entire situation, even if she had tried to cover her own feelings by using Atlas as a focus. “I trusted you. I more than trusted you. I love you.”
Amadhay flinched. “I’m sorry,” she said, choosing not to move as Ribbon closed the distance between them.
“No, I don’t think you are,” Ribbon stated, looking her over.
She stood directly in front of her, still wearing her pajamas while Amadhay was dressed for travel, with her hair pulled back in one thick plait, wearing tight pants with boots, a loose black shirt and cropped red jacket. The jacket was Ribbon’s. The rest of the clothes were borrowed from Kimiko. On her, she had one of Ribbon’s ceremonial knives strapped to her thigh and a gun stolen from Atlas’ room holstered to her hip. Ribbon only had the hair ribbon and a thin, long wire that Amadhay had never seen before. Her eyes were wide and an icy color, lips pressed to a thin line, and her veins were a visible dark green all over her body, throbbing with power.
She had never seen Ribbon look more dangerous.
“But you’re going to be,” Ribbon swore, narrowing her eyes. “I hate people who break promises.”
Amadhay didn’t flinch, but she thought that Ribbon was talking about the promise she had given when she kissed her the first time. She didn’t want to break that promise. This didn’t mean that Ribbon didn’t come first. She wanted to tell her that, but she couldn’t form the words. It wasn’t something she could tell the woman standing before her, the one ready to kill her. This wasn’t her Ribbon. “I don’t want to hurt you,” she repeated.
Ribbon shook her head. “But I really want to hurt you,” she stated. She reached out and Amadhay let her. Amadhay let the older woman cup her cheek gently, rubbing her thumb in the pattern of her spoor. They both stood there for what had to be a whole clack, staring at each other. Some of the hardness eased in Ribbon. Amadhay pressed her cheek to Ribbon’s hand.
“We don’t have to do this,” she tried softly, encouraged when Ribbon didn’t move her hand. “I just have to go. I need answers and you know Atlas won’t give them to me. I have to keep Benjy and Monkey safe. I love you but I—”
“Are you done running?” Ribbon interrupted abruptly, dropping her hand to her side.
Amadhay stared at her for a long moment, her mouth still open to plead with her lover. But after a click or two, she saw it. There was a glint in Ribbon’s eyes that told Amadhay all she needed to know. She wasn’t going to convince her of anything, because the woman had already made up her mind. So, recognizing that the woman had no plans of them both leaving this fully intact, she nodded and took a step back.
She was reaching for her Gift when Ribbon gave a dangerous smile. “Good,” the woman said.