Last Minute Resistance
rating: +13+x

Graphic depictions of abuse ahead. Proceed with caution.


Alonso Álvaro Andino didn't like Ways, and especially not ones that went too far out. Very especially, Alonso did not enjoy taking several Ways at once, from the bakery that one chick manned, to Boss's nature reserve, to Outer Lichtenberg, to some tight, dark, and distressingly spartan facility. Ways made him sick, spiritually and physically.

But Boss was boss, and Alonso was stuck with him for now. Bottom of the totem pole, with some bipolar wildling that ate rats.

For now.

If this was somewhere in the world, Alonso wouldn't have been able to map it. Everything in these halls was too grey, too brutal. Too cold, he only just realized, even for October. Even for a druid driven by what Alonso could only assume was oneitis, Boss wasn't an indoors man; what was he doing here on such short notice?

Finally, at a set of off-white double doors, Boss held up his hand. "Here, initiate."

The doors opened themselves, and Alonso was ushered into a conference room, manned only by two wehrdaemons and… and a man that…

Alonso blinked, and looked back to the wehrdaemons. He didn't face the "man" again.

Boss cleared his throat. "Mr. Rass."

"Acolyte Fels." The "man"'s voice was smooth, calming. Too much so. "And am I to assume this is Initiate Andino?"

The room had been cold before this Rass spoke, but the minutes leading up to this meeting might as well have been a Spanish summer's day compared to the violent chill that accompanied the words coming out of his mouth. If Alonso had anything to say, Rass had preemptively silenced him.

"That he is." Alonso nearly jumped at the sudden pat on the back, and nearly cringed when he realized he'd definitely have to get this shirt washed. Again. "Is this about ZO1869?"

"… perhaps."

Despite a hard fought mental battle to do anything but, Alonso turned his gaze back towards the "man", and found himself unable to turn any further.

If there were words to describe Mr. Rass, they weren't in Alonso's dictionary. The closest he could could come was an utterly mundane man-shaped imprint in the surrounding space; any attempts to quantify his features further were wrong, somehow. Your average man on the street, except not at all, because every man maintained a unique frame of self, and yet Mr. Rass presented the bare minimum requirements to be a man on the street.

"Initiate Andino." Mr. Rass smiled, but Alonso's mind couldn't put an adjective to it. "I'm rather impressed by your work so far. You've shown diligence, charisma, and, well," that was a smirk. "ZO1869, the hag… that was all you, wasn't it?"

It took everything Alonso had not to gulp.

"Don't worry, innovation interests me. Tell me," Mr. Rass was several seats away, but even just leaning over, Alonso got the feeling he was looming. "Are you interested in promotion?"


OCTOBER 15th, 2013 STRIKE AGAINST SWJC LICHTENBERG ART SHOW

PURPOSE

With the heavily publicized mobbing against Acolyte Salz, SWJC Lichtenberg has declared open war upon our organization, and with it, the people of Germany. In any other circumstance, this issue may be solved through a series of anonymous tips to the SCP Foundation; however, the minimal Foundation presence within Outer Lichtenberg, along with the presence of the Fourth Reich's Berlin branch headquarters, suggests that the Fourth Reich could do better to minimize the resulting damage by intervening itself.

Despite such declarations, however, SWJC Lichtenberg are not soldiers. As such, they may be deterred through a simple display of power.

PERSONNEL INVOLVED

  • Initiate Andino
  • Two instances of WEHRDAEMON-XA7177
  • A single instance of UNTERDAEMON-▲B5621
  • UBERDAEMON-ZO1869

Well, this was it. This was the mark. The place he'd, uh…

"Next."

Alonso gulped, stepping up to the doorman with 10 euro in his free hand. The parts in his instrument case shifted ever so slightly in their padded confines, a sound that echoed off the anxieties throughout his mind.

The doorman was bigger than Alonso, even just sitting down at the podium. Even if Alonso were to sic his minions on him (which would put him in hot shit with Boss), that left a hot second for the doorman to crush him in two. Was Alonso sweating? That wasn't good.

Fuck, how many years had he been hitting the gym? Didn't fix how short Alonso was. He'd be broken like a twig if this doorman knew what he was really doing, but Alonso hadn't expected an overgrown meatball to be this… inquisitive. Was he looking Alonso over, or did he see something, a tic Alonso hadn't rid himself of? To think, five years of PUA training down the drain, all because-

"You're good."

Alonso was overthinking things, again. With a few deep breaths, Alonso went on ahead, keeping an eye on the ones behind him.

The Snitch and Witness were first, put under just as much scrutiny as Alonso had been. Course, he couldn't blame the doorman; these things were the size of children, even if they did look like del Toro extras. The wehrdaemons, those tree people Fels brought with him on outings, they were next; they were dumb as rocks, though, too dumb to cause trouble until Alonso commanded. Was he sweating too much?

Zoey came last.

Alonso had always been proud of the job he did sculpting her; if anyone could get through, it was her. Pale, porcelain skin clung to a voluptuous frame, decorated with a mop of long-black hair that had been brushed and tied into a tasteful rave-appropriate 'do. Still, the hair hid her face, as usual; was that taboo?

He supposed he'd dressed her well enough. Would they notice? Alonso knew it was dumb, but if experience taught him anything, it was that the commies were not only too smart for their own good, but far too prevalent at punk shows for his liking. Catch-22: think too little and he ends up with a black eye, think too much and his frame crumbles around him. But how much was too much? How-

"You're good. Next."

Fuck. Maintain frame. Alonso nodded back to his squad, and head inside.


Like most commie punk venues, this place was shit, and packed with almost enough people that Alonso could see the 10 euro per head doing something to fix it.

What was once probably an apartment had been ransacked and rearranged into a maze of rooms that served whatever the inhabitants wanted them to serve. If the furniture was any indication, that changed daily: roll-up futons were lined up with only a jury-rigged system of curtains as guides, surrounding dressers and hangers on wheels more often than not. Aside from shitty little trinkets, that rarely extended to the decor, a general mishmash of pomo mural trash and whatever tacky garbage someone had hung upon a wall. That was in addition to the inhabitants/guests (he couldn't tell either from either), who used the space however they wanted. Hell, coming in, they'd already converted what should've been a commons room into a ramshackle bar.

Someone bumped into his case and he nearly jumped. Again.

Right. Alonso turned back to one of the wehrdaemons (the one on the right, at least the "right" right now.). "Hey, big guy. Need you to hold me case for a bit."

It did as he asked, as expected. Good, nice. If anyone stole it that was their problem. "Right. Stay there. You too," punctuated with a point to leftie. "Be back in a bit." That'd make exploring less awkward.

Alonso continued on, stopping only to spare a glance at the two lugheads standing awkwardly in the middle of the "bar"; admittedly, said glance had brought his feet to a standstill.

"… don't just… come on." Making his way back was even more awkward, given he had to contest with the flow of partygoers. "Have fun, nonlethally. Mingle. Maybe score with a dryad. Act natural, like I taught you. Remember?" Did trees think? Boss skimped before he'd left Alonso to babysit them. "Maintain frame."

The two lumberheads looked at each other with beady not-eyes, before nodding back. Good. Alonso and his merry squad made their way further in.

The further in Alonso went, the less the walls shook with music and the more they shook with a cacophonous cluster of arrhythmic sound. While the loudest sound was by far the thump of an inexplicably distant dance beat, Alonso couldn't ignore the sounds of cheap sneakers striking woods, nor the variety of other beats they danced and moshed to: some poorly-tuned punk outfit, or a dissonant cacophony typical of these pomo losers.

While Alonso took careful note of the surrounding architecture, making small notes of what could be brought down and when, the back of his mind processed the scenes of each room he passed. Dance floors and mosh pits shimmered, marked by a rainbow chalk that fenced in the dancers as the others did god knows what. Every corner had its own beat, whether that be a demented music machine or a quartet of dreadful, off-tune performers. Half of everything had a placard, and almost half of everything was coated by a neon vomit. If the men painted on the walls could face forward, Alonso was certain they'd be staring at him.

Some chick was macking on a drunk dude under the first flight of stairs Alonso ascended.

As below, not quite above. The walls were a hell of a lot different, and it was less crowded. No less degenerate, no less coated in paint. Anywhere Alonso stepped was an accident waiting to happen, whether it be some numale playing guitar, a pile of art supplies, or someone who'd hopefully choke on their own vomit. At least the lights were somehow on. Easier to make notes.

Some chick was macking on a drunk chick under the second flight of stairs Alonso ascended, but now wasn't the time to sarge.

All painted, a rainbow vomit lit with a combination of colored bulbs and flood lamps. Did they think their pretension made them better than him everyone else?

Some dude was checking his phone under the third flight of stairs Alonso ascended.

One room was empty but for an easel of vomit. Alonso kicked it over, and didn't feel any better.

Alonso kissed Zoey under the fourth flight of stairs Alonso ascended.

A shame they kept the fire extinguishers. Building could do with a burning, as with the people inside. Looks like he'd need a fell swoop. How Alonso would've loved to stay and watch.

Someone was sleeping under the fifth flight of stairs Alonso ascended.

Was the paint obscuring the cracks? Was it too dark to see the trash? Buildings in Outer Lichtenberg grew like tumors, and SWJC wasn't the type to call a carpenter. Didn't matter; put the right sigels on the right spots and the building would implode, with or without impurities.

Some drunk dude consoled another drunk dude under the sixth flight of stairs Alonso ascended.

Alone at a party. Again. Alone, except for everyone else. Alonso hated being alone. Always alone.

Nobody was under the seventh flight of stairs Alonso ascended.

Wind rustled softly through the rooftop garden. The streets below were mostly empty. It was going to be a very long night.

Alonso stared up at the star-spotted sky, and the moon over Outer Lichtenberg stared back.


"You look tense. First time?"

Alonso gave the cute bartender the best smile his muscle memory allowed. "They don't got this in Barcelona." A shame she'd end the night buried in rubble.

"I get that." She smiled back, before her gaze swept Alonso's merry band. "Start you off with a pick-me-up? Try the Spellbreaker."

Bars. What a good place to host a… a thing. No, the gutted apartment foyer wasn't actually a bar, but it served as one, counter, stools, and all. And Alonso did mean all; him and Zoey took up half the seats (the Snitch opting to ride on his back and the Witness currently wandering the grounds for tattlers).

Alonso unconsciously squeezed Zoey's hand, careful not to scrape himself on her nails. "Spellbreaker?"

"Spellbreaker." The way this chick juggled bar glasses, she was probably some sort of performance artist… nah. She deserved it with everyone else. "House cocktail. So good, it'll break you outta any spell."

"Doubt I'm under a spell, but thanks. Just need a shot of liquid courage. Tequila?"

"Five euros?" At least it was cheap.

An exchange later, and Alonso felt slightly more prepared to kill absolutely everyone in the fucking building. Just absolutely stoked to wade through the rats' nest with a case full of fake art and implosive death. Really excited to run like hell and never show his face. Dammit, Rass better be proud of his boy, because Alonso didn't know if-

"Yoooo, this seat taken?" Ah, English.

Alonso looked back (and instinctively smiled) towards the chick that'd just approached him. "Nah, I was just taking a breather before heading back on the floor." Like clockwork, that opener.

"Oh, cool." A quick look-over told Alonso what, on most nights, he'd need to know: foreign girl, or the daughter of foreigners. Hell bent on denim, with the long hair of a hippie that washed. Three points higher on the scale than him (not that he hadn't trained for that). No tits; everything else made up for that. "Whaddya think of the show so far?"

The chick didn't wait for him to answer before taking a seat. Any other night. "It's… it's something." And of course he thought too hard. Fuck halfsies.

"Me too, bubelah." That was a new word. "I mean, it's fun, but I'm used to more, like… structured shows? Dunno."

"Really? You look right at home."

That earned Alonso an admittedly somewhat charming half smirk. "Chalk it up to different kinds of chaos."

Well, now or never. Alonso extended his hand. "Either way, good to meet you." … come to think of it, this part probably didn't matter. "Name's Alonso. You?"

"Shit, name's Sara." She didn't take his hand. She did lean back to look at Zoey, and at that moment Alonso felt unpleasantly chilly. "Yo, goth chick. What about you?"

Zoey turned to face the chick, not that it mattered under her hair.

"Uh, well… Alonso's outstretched hand remained where it was, most probably out of denial, though it did unconsciously curl into a fist. "Sorry. Zoey's not really… she can't talk. There was a bit of an accident a while back, and… yeah." An interesting physical paradox: his muscles tightened even as his heart slipped down his stomach.

"Huh." If the pause was any more pregnant, it'd be having twins. "Shit, I gotta do something. Sorry to run."

It's no problem., what he would've said if she hadn't just bolted. Alonso smiled, turned back to Zoey, and nearly yanked her arm off as he turned to leave.


Point A was the highest point of the building. It was also empty, and surprisingly quiet, and well lit, and overall an otherwise relaxing environment in any occasion where Alonso wasn't pacing through the crisscrossing garden plots like some cheap noir detective.

"Hey, 'lonso," if the Snitch had anything useful to say, it could stand to do so in a voice that didn't want to make Alonso throw it off the railing and into an open dumpster. "Someone named Sabina just told her friend the, uh, one of the wehrdaemons was cute."

This was stupid, he'd decided. He was treating it like a game, like the Game. That was most of what he was already doing as an initiate, but fucking hell, what a jump. And Alonso tried, he swore he tried to have a pure enough heart for this work, but something was throwing him off. Was it the pressure, from Boss and Rass? Or was he still the spineless, scrawny coward he no! That was the whole point!

Something was throwing him off his game. The music? The shitty decor? Or-

"Sara just told some tall girl about how weirdly stiff you-"

"Shut up!" Alonso pried the peanut gallery off his back and threw it to the floor. "Shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut! Up!" The Snitch was lucky it could pick itself up faster than Alonso could ponder the merits of stomping it.

Alonso clutched his forehead, too preoccupied to care that he nearly ruined his hairline. As if the structure cared whether or not he looked fuckable. He probably already looked like some permavirgin loser, pacing back and forth like he was trying to find a bead on a shag carpet. So much for maintaining frame. At least nobody was there to mock him.

"I have tried to do everything right." The Snitch ran over behind a plot of wheatgrass, not that it mattered when it was under binding. "No, I am doing everything right. I've plotted the points. Worked the plan. Snuck. You. In. I'm the reason they didn't catch. So what about you?"

As Alonso walked closer, the Snitch moved further back. Too bad someone had payed attention to the architecture, and someone else hadn't. "What are you bringing? Recon? Intel? Or fucking gossip?!" The Snitch had backed into a corner, forcing what would've been a face-to-face with Alonso if it wasn't blind as a bat. "Do you think you're my equal? You're a rat. Less than a rat, you're half a rat. You know what rats do? They run the fucking maze!" If the Snitch had anything to retort, it was caught in its throat as Alonso delivered a swift kick to its chest.

"And you." Zoey adopted the body language of a guilty dog as Alonso turned to face her. "You know how much work I put into you?"

Zoey backed up a step, but a "Stay!" stopped her in her tracks. "You're my blood, sweat, and tears." If Zoey could breathe, Alonso was close enough that he could've seen it. "I've put so much into you. Bar none, you are my masterpiece. Why, then," Alonso shivered as he grabbed her by the frigid forearms. "Are you not helping?!"

Alonso waited for an answer, anything. A choked sob. A slouch. A nod yes or no, or maybe a hand gesture, or a pantomime of literally anything other than following Alonso around like a little lost cat.

She answered with silence.

"… dammit." Alonso sighed, pulling Zoey in for another kiss, savoring her familiar taste before letting her go again. "Sorry. I don't like doing this, either. But you need to stop acting like an insecure bitch. No more last minute resistance, alright?" Sparing a glance back to the Snitch, Alonso trudged back to the case he'd set at Point A. "Both of you."


Point B was on floor six. Not that it needed to be; you could probably take a sledgehammer to everything, activate every other sigel, and come out with just as much ruin. Maybe if Alonso wanted to show his power level, which wasn't an option. Rass made that very clear.

In what was either a sitting room, a game room, or a studio, Alonso set to work building the sigel. Zoey was guarding the door in, the Snitch sat on the windowsill silently until something big happened, and honestly the wehrdaemons could do whatever they wanted until clean-up time.

In a side room, the sound of squeaking springs and muffled declarations filled Alonso's workspace like a fog. Not that it mattered; Alonso packed a set a fake placards for just this occasion, and a disassembled rifle if that wasn't enough. Enigma always told him to prepare for rejection, and Alonso was nothing if not prepared. It's why the Snitch/Witness wore scarves and the wehrdaemons wore vests, no matter how magically hidden the tattoos got. It's why Zoey's tattoo was right above her cunt.

Alonso almost wished they'd come out. They were annoying. Too loud, like they wanted to fucking brag. Look at us, we're having fun and you're stuck working. Another twig in the pile.

If he peppered them with bullets right now, would anyone notice?

… no, not right now.

Great, he hadn't even really started and he was already sweating like a pig in heat. Hadn't even fucked up; he should be reeling in excitement! Why wasn't this exciting?

Nobody walked in on him. He finished the piece and the two idiots were still fucking and nobody walked in on him. Wasn't that supposed to be a good thing? Why didn't it feel like a good thing? That was the last thought on his mind as he shepherded his two idiots to Point C.


Point C was a ventilation shaft on the third floor. Quickest way through was a bathroom. Zoey was the only one with eyes who could actually fit through, so Alonso and the Snitch had a very fun time hanging out in the locked bathroom for however long she took.

The Snitch had been silent since Alonso kicked some sense into it, which meant they were good so far. Good for him. He didn't feel good. Quite the opposite, in fact.

For fuck's sake; he was on the cusp of a perfect getaway. The cusp of rising in rank, learning like… any magic, or at least more magic. If that meant every mouth-breathing commie in the building fell with it, who cared? Commies weren't humans. Was Alonso supposed to feel bad for pissing on an anthill? He was making the world a better place. No more fucking ants. No more being the wimpy loser.

Alonso scratched at the nicotine patch on his arm, and thought back five years ago. Some loser who'd just earned the distinction of a Bachillerato, some mediocre recluse no one talked to. He'd fixed that. He'd fixed himself and now he was an alpha. Right?

Alonso grimaced at his reflection, and his reflection grimaced back. Fit like a swimmer, because he was a swimmer, he'd taken that up because he was some scrawny manlet who'd never make it as a lifter. His fashion was impeccable, unique without looking like a blind, peacocking freak. His hair? It looked fantastic. He was passionate but controlled, manly but cultured, and just staring into his eyes made him want to crack his scrawny, foppish reflection's face into a billion little pieces.

Someone knocked on the door. "Busy!" Wait. Fuck. Nevermind.

Lost his frame. Lost his fucking frame, what a shock. How did it get this bad? How the fuck did he let it get this bad? He'd done everything right. Was it the constant music? The air? Had the bartender put something in his drink? Lousy piece of shit. Why was Zoey taking so fucking long?

"Snitch?"

The Snitch's head jolted up in surprise, feet still rocking back and forth from its spot on the toilet seat. "Yeah?"

Alonso slid down to sitting, back against the wall. "They saying anything… good? About me?"

Of course the Snitch was silent for a few seconds. Of course it had to think it through before responding. Of course. Un-fucking-believable. "… some lady, uh, Velma or whatever, said you were cute. Guy named Richter likes your art. Uh… Ashton? Sorry, they don't really…" The Snitch tilted its head. "I don't know if this is helping, boss. Sorry."

"'sfine." Alonso clutched his forehead in apparent frustration. Come to think of it, he wasn't really sure what he felt.

When Zoey finally crawled out of the shaft, Alonso just stared. Even caked in dust, she was fucking radiant. Maybe if he fucked her, that'd be his pick-me-up. A few minutes against the wall, burying his frayed nerves in a hole until the friction cleared his mind. Part of him wanted to grip her like a vice and never let go, not until he crushed her into a thousand pieces. Alonso wanted to do a lot of things to Zoey, and didn't do any of them when the knocking resumed.

Instead, the three of them listlessly emerged and headed downstairs.

Point D would be on the first floor. He'd need a drink before that.


One away.

Alonso Andino was one sigel and five minutes away from social apotheosis. The Witness hadn't seen anything troubling, nor did the Snitch know anything negative. The wehrdaemons hadn't had to bust a single head since coming in. In a little under ten minutes, Alonso would be out of sight and out of mind, free to spend the rest of the night in bed with Zoey for however long his nerves kept him awake.

He was a winner, and he sure as hell didn't feel like it.

Something went wrong; it must have. He'd trained for years, ridding himself of the fear of rejection, training under Enigma and then Dunst and then Fels to be the best person he could possibly be. He'd fucked a dozen dimes and so much more. He… he made Zoey. He wasn't a failure. He just… wasn't. Why did he feel like one?

Alonso sat at the bar for what felt like a decade, staring at his drink. Spellbreaker. Maybe it'd help, maybe it wouldn't.

He knew, of course, that every minute was another commie that got out. He had to act now.

Had to. Had to? Some tiny voice in the back of his head was telling him to run away. Very far away.

Alonso took a sip of his drink. Pungent. Sweet. Burnt on the way down. Didn't feel any better. Never did. Alcohol was rarely enjoyable outside of social contexts, that much was obvious.

Alonso's gaze swept the room. Everyone else was having fun without him. That was the problem, he didn't belong here. Too much time in the belly of the beast, putting himself to work in the thick of a hedonistic storm. But that'd change with just a few more minutes. Just…

"Hey, boss."

The Snitch's words, coming from behind Alonso's seat, were enough to break his trance. That was before he saw the Witness, Snitch in tow, macking on some…. on some small blue thing the Snitch had dragged along for the ride. "Can we hurry up? My partner's got a date."

Alonso said nothing, and stared back down at his drink. The lights, the music, everything felt a bit too far away, a bit too chilly, everything except for the drink. He took another sip, and nothing around him changed.

"Seriously, it'll be quick. Wehrdudes are already out."

Another drink. Such a pungent scent, lingering on his breath like the reminder that he'd spent the whole event alone.

"… you okay?" The Snitch must've hopped onto the bar proper by the sound of feet on wood, the gasp from the cute bartender that he could've scored with on any other day, if he'd been allowed to have fun. Was that what it came down to? Not enough fun?

Alonso took another gulp. He'd have fun. He'd have so much fucking fun seeing this building crumble… if he could get off his ass. If he could get off his fucking ass and do it, do anything not to be the same loser from five years ago. Not to be another fucking coward, too scared to self improve and have actual fun, too afraid of the current to jump in. Always left out. He wasn't a loser.

"… you going cold turkey? Don't make us wait up."

Another drink. Maybe if he sat still, the world would pause with him.

The bartender cut in at around this time. "Little dude needs to get off my counter, but he's got a point." If Alonso wasn't already staring at his drink, he'd note that eye contact was a bit hard.

Another drink. A million imaginary eyes burned holes into Alonso's back.

"Don't

be



a




loser.






In the span of a moment, Alonso had finished his drink, backhanded the Snitch off the table, and kissed Zoey, proving he wasn't a loser.











Alonso woke up to the scent of iron and years-old perfume, mixing with the alcoholic fumes that lingered on his breath.

"Spellbreaker. House cocktail. So good, it'll break you outta any spell."

Everyone was silent as Alonso stepped back to his seat, his eyes kept firmly on Zoey while he awkwardly picked up the case he'd left against his stool and slung it over his shoulder. On instinct, he soon took another step back.

Zoey took a tentative step forward.

Alonso ran.


Lights, flesh, furniture; all of it bled into each other as Alonso ran thoughtlessly through the maze in whatever direction took him away from the gurgled screams crawling along the walls.


Alonso shut the door just in time to hear a sickening crunch against it, and locked it just in time to hear the rustling of the locked door turn into a series of violent slams.

His case thudded against the dirty tiles of the bathroom, a thump almost as loud as the one made throwing the lid open. The remaining pieces exploded outward, leaving a scattered mix of firearm parts and sigel components strewn across the floor, specks of detritus and vomit that, if Alonso's own seemingly scattered organs had any say in the matter, would soon become less of a metaphor than Alonso would've wanted.

Trembling hands began immediately, desperately grabbing for the iron and plastic pieces of the puzzle that could possibly save Alonso. With every scratch of claw against the door, his pace quickened and his coordination deteriorated.

Alonso coughed up a small bit of bile onto himself. There was no time to think. There was no time.

Squeaking pieces mixed with clinking metal mixed with the scratching of nails mixed with the gurgling. Alonso's salvation was buried in the soundscape, washed in the dim fluorescent light that dripped down from above. Every peg was round and every hole was square, slammed together in a miserable and oppressive cloud of danger. Even now, his chest seized like he'd already been caught.

By the time Alonso successfully assembled the gun, the scratching stopped.

Alonso backed against the far side of the wall, rifle facing the door. This was a trick. She… he'd seen her. What she could do. What she did when he let her.

And so Alonso waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And when the ventilation grate above him tore off its hinges and clocked his head, all he could do was drop his gun.

Zoey poured out of the vent with an inhuman grace, and Alonso was at once reminded that he'd once been proud of his work sculpting her. Pale skin that never rotted draped an intimidating frame that never bloated, adorned with a tangle of pitch-black hair that had grown far too long. Her familiar scent, that of blood and expired perfume, filled the air with a familiar repugnance. Delicate fingers tipped with dirtied talons pinned Alonso to the wall, digging in his flesh as it had when… when…

For the first time in five years, Alonso began to cry.

Zoey brushed the hair out of her face with a free hand, and Alonso closed his eyes. He couldn't look. He couldn't.

Their foreheads touched, and the scent of grave grew overpowering. A hand found its way under his shirt, and the chill of her flesh burnt into his nerves. Her ragged, guttural moans coalesced into a distressingly familiar voice.

"No last minute resistance."

For the first time since they'd met, Zoey initiated the kiss. Alonso began screaming when caressing turned into tearing.

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