A Sharp Cut

A Sharp Cut

This scene is a direct continuation from both This is What I Dreaded and Midnight Air.
. . .

“A quick, sharp cut is all it should ever take to kill your target.”

It was the first lesson given to every assassin, repeated from the time they were old enough to hold their first knife. It was, in fact, the speed with which they killed that set them apart from common murderers. Assassins did not make their quarry suffer.

So it was ironic that he had suffered from the moment he departed the guild tower, dreading every step across the city rooftops that brought him closer to this room. Tonight there was no easy prey, no crusted feather pressed to the book concealed in his upper pocket. Rather than comfort and relaxation, the warmth of his lover drew the life from him, leaving him miserable and cold.

This meeting had been unlike any other, and not just because he knew it would be the last. From the moment Domerin swept through the hotel room door, he had buried himself in passion, letting it consume him utterly. And Elian had responded with equal abandon. It had always been good between them, sometimes wild, always unfettered, but tonight had transcended every other meeting.

The fire still tingled beneath his flesh. Domerin tried to hold onto it, burning the memory of his lover’s hot body writhing against his into his mind so that he would never forget. He longed to light the spark one more time, to find some way to make their final meeting last forever, but the hour grew late. He would be expected before the first light of dawn with a crimson stained feather, or he had better not return to the guild hall at all.

He shifted and the man beside him did not stir. He could tell by the steady rise and fall of his chest that Elian was half asleep. It was unwise to ever allow oneself oblivion, especially when the man lying beside you was easily identified as heir to the assassin’s guild. It would have been kinder if he could wait and strike before the man could wake.

He peered down at his lover, etching his peaceful face alongside the rest of tonight’s memories. The way Elian’s blond curls fell across his forehead, the easing of the worry lines along his eyes and jaw line, the slight part of his lips. Domerin ached to kiss him, to hold him, to run away with him before the sun had a chance to rise. Though his face was an emotionless mask, his soul wept for what he was about to do.

As silently as he could manage, he rolled on top of his lover, pinning the man beneath his weight. As he expected, that was enough to rouse his lover back to consciousness. Green eyes opened wide and his mouth parted to make a startled demand. But already Domerin had positioned himself to keep the man from rising and, the moment Elian’s lips drew apart, Domerin shoved his left hand between them, stifling his ability to speak or yell.

Elian could have cried out if he wanted to, but he didn’t and that made it all the harder. Instead he stared.

The blade of Domerin’s dagger was already pressed to his target’s throat. He should have done it already, but he hesitated. It was something about the look in his lover’s eyes. Elian’s initial shock faded quickly. There was no anger to replace it, no desperation. In its place was simple understanding.

This was the life they lead. It seemed he, too, had come to the conclusion that this confrontation was inevitable. Perhaps he even carried his own directive to kill.

Their faces were only inches apart, close enough that Domerin’s lover would be able to feel every quick, ragged exhale. He wondered somewhat absently why Elian didn’t bite his hand. It might have been his imagination, but he could swear the man lowered his chin ever so slightly, as if to offer his permission.

He could imagine Elian’s elegant fingers moving beneath the covers. Both men were nude, but an assassin never let his primary weapon wander far from his person. If he didn’t act now, Elian would press an answering blade to his chest and both their deaths would become pointless.

If he were a better man, a stronger man, he would have waited until he felt the bite of the blade. He would have let it pierce his heart and let his lover go on living instead. But he hadn’t yet tired of life and, despite his wild fantasies of the two of them running off to live a glorious life as exiles, he wasn’t keen on spending the rest of his life dodging his own kind either.

He wouldn’t allow himself to take his eyes off Elian’s. If he was going to do this, he was going to witness every moment of his own cruelty so that he could never let himself forget.

A quick, sharp cut is all it takes.

Time slowed so that it seemed to take forever between the moment his knife pierced the flesh of his lover’s neck and the moment the blood began to flow. And while he watched the life leak from his lover’s prone form, he wished it had been him the knife had pierced, that his heart was the one about to stop. Did it matter how much he wanted to live if he was never going to be able to live with himself?

When it was over, when his former lover’s glossy stare grew empty, Domerin slid his hand across the green eyes to close them, leaned forward and whispered beside his ear, “I’m sorry.”

When he fled the room through the window, Domerin left a piece of his soul behind. His hands would never again falter, but nor would his heart ever heal.

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Please check out what my writing partner did with this one!

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