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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317599
In which Kam and Nina figure out how to help Bel
Bel is in a furnace.

Every inch of his body burns.

And he aches.

Every muscle inside him—even ones he didn’t know existed—aches.

Like the man with the knife had found him and was dragging his blade throughout his whole body, and then stoking the flames under his skin.




On fire…

Kam said to stay awake.

But if he keeps his eyes open, then the metal walls around him start to swim, twisting and bending into shapes that turn Bel’s stomach.

Don’t close your eyes, Bel.

Don’t close your eyes.


So dizzy…

There’s an iron pressure on his lungs.

Squeezing every last bit of air from inside him.


So hard to breathe…

Kam said to press down.

He said to press down to stop the bleeding.

He said he would find Nina, that he would bring her back safe.

Bel isn’t hot anymore.

Now he’s cold.

Tendrils of ice are shooting through his muscles, extinguishing the fire that had been burning through them before.





And now someone has decided that not only should they squeeze his lungs, but they should shove sandpaper down his throat.



Water would taste so good right now.

Why won’t his fingers move?

Why can’t he see anything?

Why does he hurt so damn much?

Why does he feel so alone?



Where are you?

Where are you?

Where are you?



Nina’s voice sounds calmer than Kam’s, but maybe it’s because she’s kneeling next to her brother while Kam is still standing. Bel is shaking, sucking in air through clenched teeth, his face a mask of blood and dirt and sweat mixing together to create some horrible mural on the ground beneath him.

A mural that widens the crack in Kam’s heart.

Nina’s fingers are running over Bel’s face, her own face a mask of worry lines. Her brows knot together as she takes in the blood on her brother’s body. She says his name, softly, over and over again, until Bel’s eyes finally crack open.

“Nina…” The snarky tone is gone, and Bel’s voice sounds like his vocal cords have been rubbed raw.

“Yes. It’s ok, Bel. I’m here.” She brushes her little brother’s damp hair, smearing the blood and dirt across his face. But she doesn’t care, and he probably doesn’t either. “I’m safe.”


“I know. Let me help you.” Nina is already unzipping her pack, and removing the vodka and water bottles. Kam grabs the water bottle and crosses to Bel, kneeling beside him, lifting that bloodied head.


“Mmmmm.” Bel turns his head away, but Kam lifts him a little higher, pressing the bottle against Bel’s lips.

“It’s water. Just drink a little bit, baby. Please.”

Kam doesn’t see Nina’s eyebrows quirk at his gentle tone, or that he called Bel “baby” out loud instead of in his head. All he cares about is that Bel’s lips open just the tiniest bit, allowing the water to trickle into his mouth.

One sip.



“Good boy. Good boy.” Kam lowers Bel back to the ground as Nina kneels next to them, with the vodka and actual bandages. Kam unscrews the vodka while Nina unwraps Bel’s shoulder.

“Kam—” Bel’s hands are reaching, fingers desperately clawing at the empty air until Kam’s arms are around him again. Kam rubs his thumb along the back of one of Bel’s hands.

“Shhhhh.” Kam murmurs. “It’s ok, baby. I’m not going anywhere.”

Bel’s hands clamp around Kam’s like a lifeline.

“You’ll have to hold him down.” Nina says. “He’ll feel this even if he’s unconscious.”

Kam adjusts his position next to Bel, pressing his hands gently—very, very gently—on Bel’s shoulders. Nina pours the vodka over the hole in Bel’s shoulder. Bel jerks. Kam tightens his grip as Nina cleans and bandages the hole in Bel’s shoulder, then turns her attention to the slashes in Bel’s arm and cleans and bandages that, too.

“Was it a knife?”

Kam nods. Both know the question is rhetorical; and both know the question Nina asks and confirmation Kam gives is a way to fill the silence, to vocally reassure themselves of something, anything, so they can concentrate on what needs to be done. Nina puts the back of her fingers to Bel’s face.

“He’s burning up.” Nina says it just to have something to say. She knows she shouldn’t remove Bel’s shirt, as it’s sticking to the wound in his side, but that means it’s formed a sort of crude bandage, which is better than nothing. “This is only a temporary fix, so we need to go somewhere Bel can be looked after properly.”

“No hospitals.” Kam’s hands unconsciously tighten on Bel’s body. “Bel said—”

“I know, and he’s right. But we can’t stay here.”

“Where will we go, then?” Kam can feel Bel’s rising temperature through his own clothing.


This is so bad.

This is so very very bad.

“Give me a minute,” Nina is already pulling out her phone. She thinks for a second, then types out a single sentence:

NINA: I need you.

She doesn’t want to say more, in case her instincts are right and she and Bel are being tracked. But even if they are, they can’t stay in this warehouse in the middle of nowhere; and they can’t go to the hospital, not if the bastard who attacked Bel is waiting to finish the job. Nina glances at her brother and the man that she paid to look after him.

Kam’s arms are locked tight around Bel and his cheek is resting on top of Bel’s head. The tension that filled his body when they first entered the warehouse is still there, but it’s easing, and the worry lines are smoothing out.

“What are you staring at?” Even though Kam’s eyes are tinged with worry for Bel, they’re also curious about Nina.

Nina. The only other person Bel cares about in this world. Nina, who got her brother put through the meat grinder rather than protect him. Kam did a better job of looking after Bel than Nina did. Her smile is warm, apologetic. She’s beginning to understand.

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

For not getting him killed like I nearly did.

“For taking such good care of Bel.”

Kam holds her gaze for a minute. “It’s what you paid me for.”

“Is that really all it is?”

Kam doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t need to say anything, and Nina doesn’t need to hear anything. Each knows what the other means.

Nina’s phone vibrates, and she glances down. There’s a location on the screen, and a single short sentence.

SILO: I’ll unlock the gate for you.

“So where are we going?” Kam has seen Nina looking at her phone.

Nina flips the phone around so Kam can see the location. “Pattaya. Silo’s waiting for us.”

"21. Shelter

read from beginning "1. Phone Calls in the Dark
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