Atlas Palnoki was on her bed when she shot in, grabbing only the necessities for this mission.
She had moved right past him to slip on her favorite black jacket and press her well-known black and red mask to her face. She’d gone under him to grab her communicator and different knives from under her bed. She must have touched him when she reached over him, to pull a loose ribbon from her bedpost. She’d removed Christein’s taser from his holder and strapped it to her hip, and then she only had a momentary pause to tie up her hair before she decided to grab one of her guns.
She had shot in and gone almost out of the compound before it dawned on her. He was sleeping in her bed. Her skin itched at that, the thought that someone other than her was laying in her bed, and with an animal no less. His hair, Mayday’s fur, the mess of covers all got to her, but what got to her the most was that he was no longer locked in an interrogation room where he should have been.
No, actually, the thought of all the hair she’d have to clean got to her more.
She was back in the room as fast as she had left it, her knife to his throat.
He didn’t even open his eyes. “I think we’ve already done this today,” he mumbled, not even attempting to be careful.
“What are you doing in here?” she demanded through gritted teeth.
“Sleeping,” he said as if it should be obvious. It was obvious, and that was what irritated Amadhay so much. Mayday, who lay curled up on Atlas’ stomach, opened one eye and his mouth spread wide in a little kitten yawn.
“I see as much,” Amadhay responded. She heaved a great sigh before sheathing her blade back under her sleeve. She knew enough of him to know that threatening him with a knife wouldn’t change anything. He wasn’t afraid of her. “How did you get in here?”
“Oh, yes,” he opened his eyes and grinned at her, only moving his head. “One of those darling child-assassins showed me how to get here. He was very helpful, even offered to give me a tour.”
He was mocking her. Her fists clenched. “How did you get out of the interrogation room?” she demanded.
He raised his eyebrows. “It wasn’t locked.”
Amadhay gave a sarcastic laugh. “I leave you with a superior and he forgets to lock the door. Typical. Why are you still here?”
His smile was mocking her again. “I didn’t think you were done with me.”
“Well thank you so much for that,” she responded, feeling a bit disgruntled and more than a bit irritated, but still grateful that whatever Atlas was really doing kept him here, even if it was in her room.
“Were you going somewhere?” he asked in an altogether too amused tone for her liking.
She looked from Atlas to the rug covering her fake floor, shrugging her jacket off. She couldn’t trust him here by himself, and she certainly didn’t want to have to explain why there was a Palnoki member in her bed. She was going to have to get him back into an interrogation room, though she wasn’t sure how. He was undoubtedly stronger than she was and, even with her speed on her side, he definitely had all of the advantages. He was the Palnoki’s leader for a reason, and it wasn’t just because he was the king of Palnoki.
It was then that it occurred to her what the utter feeling of wrongness had been coming from. Atlas Palnoki was playing a game with her, a real game and specifically with her. She wasn’t sure why, she wasn’t even sure how, but she was positive that he was. He had allowed her to capture him. He had told her things he didn’t mind Arne Riff knowing. He had even sent her out on the field purposely.
He had sent her and Benjy out purposely. She could have taken out both the necromancer and his vampire, but he had told her to take Benjy with her, so she had. She didn’t even know why she had listened to him. He had planned for Benjy to be hurt.
Without thinking, without warning, she was a blur as she launched herself at Atlas. Mayday squeaked when he was knocked onto the floor as Amadhay’s hands went to Atlas’ throat. “You meant for Benjy to die,” she hissed, ready to hurt him.
It was the raise of his eyebrows, as if he were daring her to strangle him that made her pause. She fell back on her heels, staring at him. “Why did you try to kill him?”
“I told you to keep him away from Tenshu,” he responded. He lifted one hand slowly and she watched as he pushed his glasses up on his nose. “So really, it was you that had him killed.”
He didn’t see the punch coming, and really, neither did she. She stared at the reddening spot on his jaw. He stared at her in mild disbelief. “You punched me.”
“Yeah, well let’s say that calls us even,” she responded, standing up and hopping off of the bed. She ignored Mayday when the cat gave her a halfhearted hiss.
“Where are you going?” he asked. It made her feel a lot better, actually, to see how off his game he seemed. For the first time since she’d laid on Atlas that day, she felt completely in control.
“Picking up some of your friends,” she told him, turning away from him.
“Are you looking for Mitch and Scarlet now?” he asked.
She gave him a smile that told him exactly nothing. “If your cat pees in here, they’ll be looking for your body,” she added as she made it to her door. She paused there as she pulled her jacket back over her arms. “Are you planning on running off while I’m gone?” she asked, turning back to him. He was still rubbing his face as though he couldn’t believe she had actually punched him.
“Will you punch me again if I say yes?” he asked, sitting up.
“No, I’ll bind you to this room until my return.” The look he gave her told her that he thought she was bluffing. She wasn’t. Not even in the slightest. She wasn’t going to take any chances that would leave Alphonse or Arne Riff in worse moods than they already were or to have Benjy and Christein more disappointed in her.
“And if I say no?”
“I won’t bind you physically as well,” she taunted. She knew he didn’t believe her for a click, but his eyes did move to her stash of rope placed in neat coils in the corner. When he looked back at her, she gave him a fake smile, which made the corner of his mouth twitch up.
“I’m not very interested in being the one tied up,” he responded, lying back down.
She decided not to play verbal tango with him any longer. Instead, she focused on the hidden runes in her room, calling on them to create a barrier of sorts. She took several deep breaths, aware, even though her eyes were closed, that he was watching her closely. Her lips moved in silent chants, but she made sure not to verbalize any of them. She didn’t want Atlas to have any chance of getting out if he was Gifted in the magical arts, and she had a niggling feeling that he was.
Her foot tapped the binding rune, hidden underneath rugs and that was when she opened her eyes. She focused on Atlas, letting the magic know its target, and finally, she expelled her magic in a purple, shimmery cloud. Atlas’ eyes left her to track the cloud. It formed a sort of barrier between where she stood, relatively close to the door, and the rest of her medium-sized, uncluttered room. It shifted until the cloud was in all of that part of her room, hiding Atlas from her view. Then the cloud disappeared, only leaving a slight glitter to the air around Atlas.
Atlas was immediately on his feet, moving much faster than he had since Amadhay first pulled him out of bed. He scooped Mayday up and onto the bed before he moved to Amadhay. She turned her back on him as he approached the barrier. She was at the door faster than he was at the barrier, though she did make a point of stopping to pick up the communicator and gun she had dropped upon re-entering her room. He touched the barrier and Amadhay felt a chill flowing in her entire body. She glanced back, trying not to show how his bothering the shield bothered her. There was an impressed grin on his face as he stroked it. Her breath almost caught, so she shot out of the door, slamming it closed behind her
She wasn’t sure how he did it, considering no one she had bound before had been able to touch the shield, but it was taking a toll on her, and not in an altogether bad way. She wanted to curl up and enjoy the heavy petting even if it wasn’t real. But then, just as abruptly as it had ignited the warming chills through her body, it stopped, leaving the residual chills to float through her limbs. She stood up straight, taking in deep breaths to calm herself, and left.