It doesn't take us long to find her. The bullet wound has sapped her energy as well as slowed her down. When we find her, she's slouched against a tree, clutching at her thigh where a patch of red has seeped into her jeans.
Seeing us, she tries to jolt into action but we quickly hold our hands up.
“Rin, wait!” I cry, having already ripped off my microphone and dropped it to the ground. “We want to help.”
She eyes us warily, face pale and tired.
“Drop your guns.”
Pulling them out of our holsters, we do as we’re told and let them fall to the ground.
Roan steps forward.
“We’re going to let you go, we don't know what they’d want to do to you and- well, we don't want you to find out. Can you...can you just tell me why?” his voice brakes and his face suddenly changes almost recognisably. That's when I realised the Roan I’d grown familair to, the face I knew as well as my own, was in fact a mask.
This….this whole other person standing in front of us was the real Roan.
He looked so….vulnerable. Despite his height he seemed small.
What happened to you Roan?
Rin winces slightly, whether due to the gunshot or the obvious pain Roan is in, I cant be sure.
“What do you mean why? Surely you know about all the lies if you’re letting me go?”
At our confused and blank expressions, she smirks humourlessly.
“Oh come on, you must have suspected something. Even I knew things weren't all hunky fucking dory even before I took The Head’s quirk and could see it all for myself.”
Leo growls in annoyance.
“What are you talking about? Stop being condescending and enlighten us oh almighty one.” He does a sarcastic bow in her direction.
She gives him a glare before explaining.
“Have you not noticed the random age gap between us and the teachers? How there’s only two generations of people like us?”
I had, and I was getting a bad feeling about this.
“I mean, my god guys! Why would they send the Outsider kill squad after me if I could only leak more information the world already knows? Shit on you guys is worth fuck all now.” She grumbles, a sudden sadness passing over her features.
“Why leak information at all though?” I say through gritted teeth, a flashback to reporters asking for The Sadist making me see hazes of red and a ball of heat form in my chest.
The sadness comes back tenfold.
“My mum is…...she’s sick. She needs a carer but she’s all alone, how else is she supposed to care for herself?!” Rin angrily wipes away at her tears.
The wind blows my hair around my face and I push it away in irritation.
I took myself back to Before, before the incident, before St. Bart's and all my life was now. To when I had a family I adored and who returned the love I gave them. What would I have done in Rin’s situation?
I told myself I would have found some other way, a way that didn't ruin other peoples lives.
But I didn't even believe my own lie.
“Rin-” I start, but find myself choked with empathy and unable to speak.
I don't even have time to right my thoughts before headlights illuminate the field ahead of us, Rin’s eyes go wide and we turn to see the familiar black car speeding towards us. Hank appears, leaning out the window on the passenger side.
The setting sun bounces off a gun.
A gun aimed directly at us.
“You look surprised!” Hank chortles, the barrel still staring at us like an empty eye. “Its like you actually thought the microphones wouldn't be able to hear anything if they weren't on you!” He full on laughs now, shaking his head as if in wonder.
The blood drains from my face and I feel something ugly and warm settle in the pit of my stomach.
He was playing us, he knew all along our plan. We led him right to her.
Rin flickers in and out of focus, like a hologram on the fritz. She’s trying to disappear, to sneak off, but her leg wound is still steadily dripping blood and she hasn't the energy.
“Nuh uh uh!” Frank sings, turning the gun to Rin and beckoning her closer. “Just in case you three get any ideas…” he gives us a glare and presses the gun to Rin’s temple.
Her brown eyes shine with fright and withheld tears as she silently pleads with us to help her.
But what can we do?
Everything has gone so wrong.
We drop our guns at his feet and hold our hands up.
The warmth in my stomach is steadily heating, becoming prickly and hot.
Could I zap him? Maybe a short blast of pain to his head would distract him enough for one of us to tackle him.
But that gun…
I cant guarantee he wont shoot before that.
Rin, apparently still with The Head’s mind reading abilities, shakes her head sharply at me, her eyes flicking to where the gun is pressed at her temple, a mere sheet of skin separating it and the awaiting bullet from her brain.
“Good, now you kids need to do something for me. This girl is either coming with us in the backseat of the car, or she’s going in a body bag in a Cleaner van.” He clicks the gun. “You choose.”
“We’ll do what you say, but I think you want to put the gun away.” Roan says slowly, meaningfully. I feel a wave of placidity wash over me and my arms fall to my sides as my body loses its tension.
He’s trying to mind control him.
Hank blinks, his shoulders dropping and, just as it looks like the gun will fall from his drooping hands, he seems to realise whats happening and shake it off.
“Nice try,” he growls and, before we can do anything, he pulls the trigger.
Flash of heat.
Warm blood spraying across my face.
Then it’s just Rin’s still body lying on the floor, a look of surprise on her lifeless features, her eyes flat and a dark, bleeding hole in the side of her head.