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Now, I see what they’re trying to do here. Deprive a girl of normal human interaction for a few weeks, torture her until she’s on the brink of death (but not actual death, that’d be far too nice), and then throw her into a room where a hot boy is her interrogator. I haven’t broken down yet, what makes them think that I’m going to now?

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3. Chapter 3.

The table between us, hard with round edges, is not long enough for my interrogator to be a comfortable distance away. We’re having a stare down, minutes of silence punctuated only by my ragged breathing (there might be a broken rib) and his exasperated sighs. The light bulb swinging above our heads has been replaced, this time the light more white than yellow.

It has been three days since that asshole guard pulled me from my cell. I have an angry red scab that’s in danger of infection stretching down my chest. Since then, I have not been interrogated once, no one has come to see me, the only contact I had was with the hand that shoves my food tray through the slot in the door.

On the second day, instead of my hand reaching for a hot dented metal tray, my fingers gave way to cloth. Fabric, ordinarily scratchy and worn but compared to everything else here, it felt like strands of angel hair and soft feather pillows wrapped in silk.

The colors had been mismatched but I was given a snug fitting white long-sleeved t-shirt (God, could they give up on the white?) and gray sweatpants that were so insanely large I’d needed to roll up the waist band three times to at least maintain the hope that they’d stay on my hips. While I was undressing, I became painfully aware of how my hips bones jutted so far out of my skin, threatening to pierce it. I could count my ribs beneath the bruises.

After that I cried until the light beneath the door began to dim.

I’m wearing the clothes now, with the same blanket draped around my shoulders.

My wrists are bound loosely in the cuffs, just enough to ensure that I won’t wiggle out of them.

“Have you given up?” I say dully, watching Harry’s face as he contemplates an answer.

“You haven’t answered my question,” he states, dropping his gaze to the file in front of him before looking back up.

“Oh, I wonder why. It must be all the fabulous treatment I’m receiving here. It’s like spending three weeks at a fucking spa,” I spit, rattling the cuffs. It is my dream some day to kick the asshole that created these in the fucking face.

One of his hands disappears beneath the table, emerging with his gun, free from its holster. He flicks the safety off, letting it rest just far enough away from the tips of my fingers. Bastard.

For a second his face screws up, a flicker of irritation permeating his entire demeanor. A hand flies up to his ear, like if he hit it there the nuisance would stop. I raise an eyebrow.

“I’ll ask you one more time,” his voice rumbles, and his eyelids flutter shut over the green. “Why were you tailing the emissary?”

In my head, I see the truck, feel the impact, and hear the gunshot all over again. The pain that rocks through me is so intense that I rock back and forth in my chair. Gritting my teeth, I answer him. “I don’t really think you’re the first person I would tell that to.”

He smirks. “And who would that be?”

I take him by surprise and smile wide, manic, like a character ripped straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon. “I’m sorry, she’s dead. Try again.” I have to smile so the tears don’t spill from my eyes.

“Holly. You know, if you just cooperated, things would be much different for you here. They might let you go.” There’s a twinkle in his eye that promises things I won’t dare to hope for.

“My name isn’t Holly, first of all. It’s Sophia. And secondly, you must be a fucking idiot to think I’m stupid enough to spill all my secrets like we’re twelve and at a sleepover. If I cooperated, they’d torture me worse than they do now. No chance in hell I’d be able to leave, because I’m a liability. Do you know what they do to liabilities? They kill them.

Harry’s fingers dance around the gun, taking it into his hand and placing it so the barrel faces down. His voice is light and airy when he says “But don’t you want to die? You made it very clear a few days ago. Would cooperating just give you what you want? It’s a win-win situation.” He leans forward, and briefly I catch a musky scent that sends my heart off the edge of cliff. I pray that the rest of my body can go with it. “The only casualty here, would be you.

“If I cooperated, Styles, then I’d be condemning my friends. My family. Every good person I’d ever known would be dead, and I’ve spent enough time on this fucking planet to know that they’d kill them and make me watch.” My fingernails are digging into my palms, cutting crescent moons and dripping blood that looks like teardrops.

My little confessional sparks something in him. “Friends? Family, Holly? I’m surprised you still care so much for them. After all, here you are taking the punishment of the mission theysent you on, and not a single soul has come to rescue you. You’re alone here, whether you want to admit it or not. No one is coming to save you, Holly. Why support them? Why not get a little revenge?”

Anger races through my blood, fire licking every single vein. How dare he. How fucking dare he suggest that. He knows nothing about me, not a single goddamn thing. I spot the pencil, the grey point sharpened to deadly levels.

I fly forward in my chair, the cuffs slipping nearly up to my elbows. I hadn’t considered that one.

The smile that spreads across my face is genuine.

Harry reaches for his gun first, but that’s not my target. I get just enough movement to grab the yellow number two Ticonderoga pencil.

I grab the thing and jam it into his palm, twisting it and wishing belatedly that pencils were still made with lead and not graphite. Nothing says revenge like lead poisoning.

The point breaks off somewhere in his palm, but Harry doesn’t scream. Instead, he bites his lip and bares his teeth, hissing out air like it’s taking all the self-control in world not to let one loose. That’s unfortunate.

“Are you fucking insane?” He gasps, yanking out the pencil before deciding that might not be the best idea.

“Why not get a little revenge?” I mock him, throwing my voice a pitch lower though it’s a hideous comparison to his.

Harry winces and the hand lacking the fantastic addition of a writing utensil hits his ear. He grimaces, tapping a beat on the table as if it’ll distract him.

Then I realize.

“You’re wearing a comms unit.” The shock on his face is consuming. None of my interrogators have worn a comms unit, and none of them would have gone to the trouble of hiding it.

I only know one person who requires fucking Morse code to answer a comms message.

The reality of this sucks the air from my body, and I sag backwards into the chair. Immediately, Harry stops tapping.

“Who are you?” I whisper, scrutinizing every aspect of his existence. His dark curls are disheveled and shiny, his eyebrows furrowed together in an expression of pain. His uniform, albeit stained with his own blood, is crisp and looks like it was issued last week. The cuff of his shirtsleeve hides a tattoo on his wrist, a symbol I don’t take the time to register. Emerald flecked with sunlight gazes out at me, like he knows what’s going on in my head. Like he’s watching me put it all together.

He doesn’t answer my question, and the words die on my lips. I won’t let myself think what he could mean. Three weeks and nothing. No attempts at rescue, nothing to let me know they were trying.

I had stopped trying when I thought they did.

I whisper one thing, one single thing that I knew the people on the other line would hear. If it was really them, which I was refusing to let myself believe because it had to be Harry’s superiors, someone he was reporting to, they’d know what this meant.

The name leaves my mouth like a sweet secret, something made of darkness and light and pain and joy and ultimately, despair.

I whisper, dead and empty.

“Olivia.”

Then I tell Harry to get the fuck out and to never let me see his sorry face again, or else I’ll make sure his splinter becomes a little more permanent.

In the resulting silence, I cry.

***

I wake up to the sound of banging on my prison door. It’s not someone knocking, because I don’t get visitors, and it sounds much too violent for that.

It sounds like someone is getting their head beaten against the door until their skull smashes in and quarters of brain spill out and mix with their blood.

Throwing off the blanket, I move to stand beside the door. It’s dark as pitch without the light on, and nothing lingers beneath it to give me any semblance of what time it could be. My body aches more so than usual, heavy with sleep and aching joints.

Then the door bursts open, poor hallway lighting catching the destroyed body of a guard, blood leaving his head in a river of scarlet.

“What the fucking hell?” I hiss, plastering myself against the wall of my cell. It’s chaos; men with gruff voices are shouting, shots are being fired haphazardly, looking for a target. Large thumps echo as bodies hit the ground like sacks of flour.

No one would be baking a cake today.

“Phia?” A voice calls out into the darkness. Female, familiar. I know that voice because it haunts my nightmares.

My blood runs so cold it’d take the sun to defrost it.

“Phia? Are you in there?” The voice calls out again but I can’t bring myself to answer for fear it might be a ghost. I could be hallucinating, it seems about time to hallucinate. Maybe my brain just gave up completely.

“God fucking damn it, Styles, you said she’d be in here!” A gruffer voice that I’d recognize anywhere says, and three shadowy figures push into the room. Their backs are turned to me, holsters wrapped around their waists. They are layered in black clothing, the three of them.

“She is! She can’t go anywhere else. She stabbed me with a pencil for fuck’s sake.” There are a couple of chuckles.

One is Harry, broad-shoulders tense and a black cap shoved onto his curls. One hand is bandaged, and the corner of my mouth lifts slightly. Nobody said I couldn’t appreciate my own handiwork. Sue me.

The next is a man of equal height, a tattoo on the base of his neck disappearing into his collar. His head is shaved though his hair used to once be shaggy and light brown. Liam. My brother, for all intent and purposes. He’s here. He’s actually here.

The last figure is short, with white-blonde hair thrown up into a ponytail. Her right arm is in a cast, slung against her body as she walks with a limp around the room.

I know who she is because she’s supposed to be dead.

Olivia.

“You’re alive?” I say, and the gravel tone of my raw throat catches the attention of all three of them. “Olivia?”

“Phia! Oh thank God you’re okay thank fucking God,” She cries, pulling me into a one-armed hug.

“He doesn’t deserve a thanks,” I mumble, before locking eyes with Liam. “Liam?” A tremble of his lips and he’s in on the hug too, but my arms are limp at my sides. My feet are suddenly filled with lead and I can’t bring myself to move anywhere.

I barely feel it when they let go of me, shouting things and screaming my name and shaking shaking shaking me but it’s like I’m a thousand league beneath the sea.

I hear the word Holly before my eyes roll into the back of my head and everything goes black.

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