The guards were gentle as they blindfolded me and dragged me back to my cell. My head spun and I could barely walk, but they didn’t jerk me forward or yell at me or anything like that, like they would if this were a movie or something.
My cell door screeched open, and my blindfold was taken off as I was pushed inside. One of the guards nodded dismissively to the other, then proceeded to lock my cell as the second guard walked away.
As soon as the other guard was out of earshot, the guard shoved the key in her pocket and gestured for me to step forward. I did so, frowning slightly at the guard.
Wordlessly, the guard pulled back her sleeve to reveal a butterfly tattooed on the inside of her forearm, then winked and walked away.
I leaned against the bars as she did, watching her retreating back, wanting to cry out and ask her to stay. The butterfly tattoo meant she was my only friend here, and I desperately needed a friend.
The butterfly tattoo meant she worked for Avanya, more commonly known by her alias, The Butterfly. I wasn’t sure exactly where the nickname had come from- probably from her light, agile fighting style, which could be described as fluttering and delicate, like a butterfly.
It didn’t matter where it had come from, honestly. It was pretty and very, very misleading.
The cold bars began to dig into my skin and I backed away from them, shivering and rubbing my goose-bump covered arms.
I could only hope I’d get out of here soon.
Night fell. I could tell, because my supper of a cold ham and cheese sandwich was delivered to me a few hours after my very short- I didn’t think I could even call it an interrogation. I kinda just gave up after a few seconds.
Night had fallen.
I ate supper quietly and continued to wait.
The guard with the butterfly tattoo came a few hours after supper, at what I assumed was midnight or somewhere close to that. She held her finger to her lips as she unlocked the door, making a shh gesture at me. What kind of idiot did she think I was? I knew I had to be quiet.
She led me through winding hallways lit only by a few torches - who on earth still used torches? It was 2022 for God’s sake, not the Dark Ages - avoiding Deserae’s minions as she did so, often dragged me behind pillars or into small crannies just before a guard glanced our way.
It was suspiciously easy to avoid them, though, and a knot of apprehension began to grow in my stomach.
It was like Deserae wanted us to escape.
Finally, the butterfly-tattoo-guard-lady led me up a flight of stairs and out into the weak moonlight. I blinked, looking around and trying to get my bearings. We were in a back alley, behind a warehouse or something of the sort. It was kind of disgusting back here, honestly. Broken walls, shattered windows, trash and dirt and mess everywhere.
Exactly the place I’d expect an evil villain’s lair to be.
I looked at the guard, who was glancing around warily.
“Get out of here,” she said softly. “The Butterfly’s waiting for you.”
I nodded and took off running, almost immediately tripping over a pile of loose, broken stones and tumbling to the ground. Both the guard and I winced at the sound it created as I scrambled to my feet and continued running.
I didn’t stop until I reached a street I recognized. I was still far from my own home, but I knew Avanya lived around here somewhere, and right now I wanted to be close to her. It’d also be good to tell her what I went through and that she’d have to move her HQ somewhere else right away, but mostly I just wanted the feeling of safety I felt around her.
I hesitated a moment longer, looking up at the sky. It was late, the moon far below where it’d be if it were midnight. It was probably closer to two or three in the morning. I didn’t want to annoy Avanya, but what other choice did I have?
I took a deep breath, then started across the street toward Avanya’s apartment building.
“Six-four-two, six-four-three, six-four-four!” I muttered to myself, proud of myself for remembering which apartment she lived in first try. I nervously knocked on the door, stuffing my hands into my pockets as I waited.
Avanya was tricky to deal with. On the one hand, she was the hero. On the other… well, if I had to pick a twin I’d have assumed was the villain just by looking at them, it would be Avanya. She was cold and distant most of the time, working silently, showing almost no emotion at all. She was terrifying, even when she was saving people.
She was also my only hope right now, so I really hoped she wasn’t going to immediately slam the door in my face when she saw me.
I squeaked and stepped back, a little bit startled.
Avanya leant against the doorframe, arms crossed, giving me an irritated glance. As always, she was immaculate, dressed in black leggings and a cozy cableknit sweater, with not a hair out of place in her thick braid.
“Did I wake you up?” I blurted out. “I’m sorry, but I w-was captured by Deserae and she interrogated me and I just escaped and I had no other place to go and-”
“Shut up and come inside, you look frozen.” She stepped back, leaving my path into her apartment clear. I didn’t hesitate.
“So tell me exactly what happened,” Avanya ordered, amethyst eyes drilling into me like her twin’s had just hours earlier. “You’ve been missing- what, three days now?”
I nodded, pulling the fluffy blanket I’d found on the couch higher around me. Avanya’s cat, Twirl, jumped up next to me and began to purr loudly, and I reached over to scratch behind the cat’s fluffy white and cream coloured ears.
“Yeah, it was three days ago she got me,” I confirmed. “I’ve just been sort of hanging out at her secret lair - which I now know the location of, by the way- also I may have accidentally revealed the location of your headquarters? Wasn’t my finest moment, honestly-”
“Kara, you’re getting sidetracked,” Avanya said quietly.
“Right. Right. Sorry.” I swallowed nervously and my hand tensed on Twirl’s head. She hissed, and I startled. “Ack, sorry!”
Avanya sighed, resting her chin on one hand, and I blushed.
“Uh, where was I?” I asked, brushing a few wayward locks of my choppy black hair out of my eyes. “Right. Deserae had me in her evil lair. I was just sort of chilling out until today, when Deserae dragged me out - she blindfolded me! Like, what the heck? What did she think I was gonna see, her ugly walls? She still uses torches like she’s in the Dark Ages-”
I laughed nervously, and Twirl pushed her nose into my hand comfortingly. “S-sorry. She interrogated me. And I told her the location of HQ.”
Avanya nodded slowly, her expression betraying nothing.
“I’m so sorry, she was in my head and I panicked and-”
“I don’t blame you. Dizzy’s always had a way of getting people to tell her what she wants to know,” Avanya cut me off. “It’ll be easy enough to move, so don’t worry about that.”
I nodded and nervously stroked Twirl as I waited for Avanya to continue.
Abruptly, she stood up. “You can crash here for the rest of the night,” she said. “I’m sure Twirl can share the couch.”
“You’re tired, I’m tired, and neither of us are in any state to make decisions about what our next move is.” Her tone of voice indicated that the conversation was done. I nodded silently. “You need another blanket?”
“N-no, I’ll be fine with just this.” Avanya nodded and without saying another word, turned and vanished into her bedroom.
I sighed softly and slid down until I was laying on the couch. Twirl curled up on my chest, and her warm weight lulled me to sleep almost immediately.