Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence.
James breathed slowly, inhaling and exhaling. In, out. In. Out. He’d been doing it for three minutes now, and yet his heart was still beating faster than a galloping racehorse’s.
He was sitting on his bunk, back against the wall. The lamp was unlit, and there was no sound inside the room as he watched the doorway. He’d gone over all of the things that could happen, he knew the words he would say for each situation – and yet, when a spear of light fell across the floor, James lost them all.
Josephine closed the door behind her, locked it, and faced him. Her hair was ruffled, falling messily about her shoulders. In the darkness he could only barely make out her face. Mouth, set in a dead frown. Eyes, sad and cold. A knife, in her hand.
“You killed those people, James.” Even now, her voice was beautiful.
Wordlessly, he nodded.
“I didn’t want Max and Richard to die.” There was a terrible stillness, a dark silence. James ended it. “Are you going to kill me with that?”
She looked down at her knife. “I don’t want to…”
“So we can just… move on?” James said, feeling his heart in his chest. “I’m obviously not a Hunter any more, but if you promise to just leave me be I won’t get in your way-”
“…But I have to.”
“Don’t make any noise or they will hear.”
“Josephine, please don’t-”
She rushed him. James was too slow to move – forced to grab her arm to stop the blade from reaching him. They were face to face and he stared at her in shock, seeing their short friendship being ripped apart in her eyes, and then she pushed forward and he was on his back. James kneed Josephine’s stomach and shoved her off, going for the door.
If I get out she’ll be forced to stop-
His hand was on the doorknob before she wrenched him back, slammed him into the wall. James got his hands on the one holding the knife. For a silent five seconds the two struggled, the man trying to pry the weapon out of the woman’s hands. He won, she bit his arm and the weapon fell onto the floor. Josephine was the one who got it first, punching him before diving to the ground. He tried to follow then took a step back when Josephine turned to face him, knife in hand. She got to her feet, came forward again.
James felt the bunk bed frame on the back of his leg, reached backwards, grabbed his blanket and threw it at her. She fumbled with it in the darkness, he leaped forward, his weight sent her to the ground and they grappled for the knife again, twisting and rolling. Holding down her wrist, he wrestled the thing out of her grip and sent it flying away. James was on top, and just like during their duel, he thought he’d won – then Josephine punched his face, twisted her hip, flipped him over and retook the knife. He tried to move but she gripped his shoulder with her free arm, pinned him down, put a forearm across his throat, and it was over.
“I told you, James,” Josephine said, panting as she looked down at him, hair spilling down her cheek onto his, “I would be ready for your sneaky tricks.”
James could feel his heart pounding, his ragged breathing, the cold air, her breath going onto his face –
And then he kissed her.