Private Tales Brothels and Broken Things

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Cassian

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He wasn't too far behind her, and he realised that she wasn't slowing as she grew closer to the flames. His stomach flipped and he picked up his pace to a sudden sprint as he muttered under his breath.. "Don't...don't... don't.."

"LEXI!!" his voice dwarfed any other that currently echoed through the city as she ran at those flames. It was anger and fear rolled into one, his blue eyes widening as he bolted after her.
 
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Lexi Quinzell

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A beam snapped and landed a foot in front of her when she entered, sending up a puff of ash and enabling the flames to climb higher. She pressed the sleeve of her shirt over her mouth and nose and squinted through the rubble for any indication of fallen soldiers. Even if they were... no, she couldn't think like that. There was magic in this library old enough to help even those with only a breath of life left. She just had to get them out.

Lexi barely blinked when Cassian came barrelling in behind her.

"We go up, floor by floor," she shouted over the roaring flames and coughed as she inhaled the thick black smoke. With a grimace she bent and rubbed her thumb in the ash on the floor and carved a rune into his forehead, before doing the same to hers. The constricted feeling in her lungs eased almost immediately and she let out a sigh of relief. "It doesn't keep the ash out of your lungs, but it makes it easier to breathe. It won't last long, maybe 20 minutes. We have to move quick," she ran her eyes over him and set her jaw. She was within her rights to order him out but she had promised... she had promised she wouldn't unless it was vital to the mission but here? Here she could use his help. "Are you ready?"
 
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Cassian

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He could barely see a few steps ahead of him, and panic had struck him when he'd heard the falling beam ahead, a fresh wave of scalding heat crashing into his bare skin, already blackened with smoke and glistening with sweat.

He reached out for her when he found her, intent on wrestling her from the blaze, but her instruction cut him off and he knew any attempt to argue would be fruitless. She traced the rune onto his head and his lungs relaxed. She wanted his help, she wasn't ordering him to go, and so he nodded sternly.

"Please don't do anythin' stupid. We'll do what we can and we get out alive." he frowned at her and ducked slightly as another beam cracked.

"Alright - go!"
 
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Lexi Quinzell

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Lexi managed a fleeting smile that was all teeth before she bolted up what remained of the stairs.

Fire snapped at their heels as they made their way up to the first floor of the building. She couldn't make sense of where the fire had even started; this seemed as bad as the ground floor and the one above them looked the same from what she had glimpsed. It was like someone had thrown a giant fire ball at the building but she couldn't taste magic in the air. At least, not in the flames. Still she didn't think it was an accident and that made her angry. An anger that helped her moving.

Taking one wing whilst Cassian took the other she kicked down doors or ducked her head in, calling for anyone who could hear her to answer and give her a clue as to their whereabouts. Nothing but silence came back and she couldn't see any bodies. When Cassian came back with news they went up to the next floor.

"Help!" a strangled cry wheezed from a pile of rubble that had once been a wardrobe from the floor above. Lexi squinted against the blaze and made out two figures trapped beneath, one still and the other writhing.
 
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Cassian

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That fucking smile, even in a time like this. He felt himself groan as he watched her bolt up the stairs, and he swiftly followed after her.

Cassian kicked in several doors, having to shield himself from the blistering backdrafts before taking a quick look inside the rooms, calling out to ensure they were empty. His lungs screamed in pain, his skin felt like it was blistering from the heat, his eyes burned, but he kept going, focusing more on the distant sound of Lexi's voice.

"Get it.. done, Cass." he coughed to himself as he staggered amongst the burning debris back toward her and up onto the next floor. He looked down the stairs they'd come up, now engulfed in flame and he quietly cursed.

"Lex we're goin' to end up trapped in here!" he called up to her, but paused as he heard the same cry as she had. He stumbled toward the pile and started hauling the largest pieces from the two trapped underneath it. The floor under them shuddered and creaked and for a moment, Cassian stilled, his eyes shifting to Lexi.

They had to move.
 
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Lexi Quinzell

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They had to move.

"P-please... don't leave us, please," agony tore across her face in the final few moments she held Cassian's gaze and then she got on with the job at hand. With a grunt she threw the bit of wood she was holding to somewhere to her left and then crouched down beside the two bodies beneath. The girl who had spoken and was still awake had her leg twisted at an odd angle and a nasty bone shot up through her thigh. The man next to her had a gash in his skull so deep she could see through bone. She desperately put her fingers to his neck to feel for a pulse.

She glanced up at Cassian and shook her head.

"Get her out - the window -" she said in between deep draws of breath. "I can go - another level," she wasn't human like he was, like they were.
 

Cassian

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Cassian's breathing was becoming more and more difficult and the heat more and more impossible to withstand. He lifted the girl into his arms, having to keep a firm grip of her as she begged him to help the dead man.

"I got you, lass." Cassian assured her, though when he realised that Lexi intended on climbing further he stared at her in fear.

"Lex this place isn't gonna hold out." he coughed, his words gritty and strained. As if to emphasise his point there was another violent shudder and another beam fell from the ceiling above and crashed straight through the floor below, sending up another blast of flame and a cloud of black smoke. The girl in his arms screamed and Cassian staggered back.

He had to get the girl out before the smoke killed her, and reluctantly he turned away from Lexi and moved carefully toward the window to climb out onto the awning where he lowered the girl down to Kain. He was coughing so hard he felt dizzy, but the moment the girl was safely on the ground he got up to return to the window to see flames billowing out of it, and the awning gave way beneath his feet.
 
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Lexi Quinzell

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Lexi knew he was right but she had to try at least one more floor. She was about to head for the blazing stairs once more when she caught sight again of the dead man's face. Her lips twisted and with a soft curse she hurled him over her shoulders; she couldn't let this be his final resting place. She was only a few steps behind Cassian when the groaning noise came back louder this time from above and she stopped with barely enough time as more of the third floor came crashing down and fire spurted from the window like angry dragons breath. She coughed and gasped as fire licked at her skin but changed her route instead to the window to the left. She was expecting Cassian or Kain to appear when she ducked her head out but when she saw neither she began to panic and turned towards the awning that had been under the first..

"CASSIAN!"

Kain was already moving before he knew what he was thinking when he saw Cassian fall. Someone tried to grab him but he yanked them with him atop the rubble.

"Start digging!" he ordered, hurling bits of rubble out of the way and muttering under his breath a string of curses that got him anxious looks from the young recruit by his side. A moment after he heard Lexi's shout she was at his side, digging twice as frantically as he was.

"Cassian!" she hurled a large slab of roof out of the way.
 

Cassian

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For what felt like minutes but was more likely seconds, there was nothing but darkness. He blacked out entirely and awoke to the crushing pain of a few broken bones. He coughed as he tried to draw in a breath, grimacing as he did. He could feel the rubble atop him shift and he squinted as the dusty light shone in his eyes.

"I'm alrigh'!" he grunted as loudly as he could, shoving a hand up into the light toward the sounds of Kain and Lexi's frantic voices. He could feel blood trickling from the back of his head and ear, no doubt the reason for his blackout, but he could move and was sure there were no serious wounds.

He had no idea if there were any more people left in the building, but he was certain that he was going nowhere fast.
 
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Lexi Quinzell

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Kain and Lexi scrambled to where the hand poked through the debris and renewed their efforts to clear the rubble from around him. As soon as his upper half was free with his legs quickly following, the Commander forgot who or what she was and flung her arms around his neck in a fierce embrace. Tears splashed onto his ash coated skin and her whole body shook with the relief and sudden loss of fear.

"Gods I thought I'd lost you," she whispered against his ear. Vaguely she was aware of Kain getting up and leaving them to it, clearing the others back to make way for those with buckets of water or spells which could help to dampen the blaze. She trusted her second to do what needed to be done, for the moment she needed to be Lexi and not a Commander. Slowly she pulled back and then promptly punched him in the arm. "Don't ever scare me like that again."

What? She was Lexi after all.
 

Cassian

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He grimaced, but the pain wouldn’t stop him from holding her as tightly as she had to be held, and so his jaw clenched tightly as he pushed it all to the back of his mind. “Never..” he rumbled by her ear, his breaths hard and deep and rattling with smoke and ash. He turned his head to press a kiss against her temple before she drew back from him.

He’d been about to speak when the punch to the arm came and he winced. Not that it stopped him laughing at her mood swings. “Aye lass, I’ll try my best..” he coughed, refraining from pointing out that she was the one intent on running into burning buildings.

He leaned on her to move a little further away from the blaze, the heat of it scalding his already scorched skin. He felt bones shift and the heat of blood trickling down his back as he moved, his teeth clenched and bared as he found a spot on the road to sit down. He paid little attention to the people fussing around here and there, but there was a loud crack as another floor of the building gave way, and a loud scream came from inside.
 
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Lexi Quinzell

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Lexi barely gave a second glance to those milling about helping others who had been dragged from the buildings blaze Her eyes were on his face and then roaming down his bare chest to look for any wounds. Her lips twisted when she saw the mottled bruising that hinted as broken ribs and made a mental note to teach him some basic spells to make his bones stronger. She tenderly helped him when he rose to his feet and took his weight when he needed it.

"I'll get a medic to--" the loud scream had her head whipping round, eyes going to the fourth floor where it had come from. A sudden uneasy quiet fell over those working outside as everyone turned to look and then there was a rush of movement. More buckets were being hurled up to try and dowse the flames and the screaming pleas grew more frantic. Her fingers tightened briefly on his shoulder and then she let go.

"I have to," please understand, her eyes implored as she took two steps back from him and then turned before she talked herself out of it. At a run she vanished back into the flames.
 
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Cassian

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He stared at the building, still breathing hard and wincing at the pain each breath caused him. The blaze was loud. The crumbling walls and ceilings louder as they cracked and collapsed.

"Lexi." He spoke before she had, knowing what she'd be considering, but her words cut him off and he studied her face as she let go of him. He had promised her, but he wanted to argue with her, to put his foot down and tell her no, but he hadn't the time to process before she was turning to rush back into the deathtrap.

"Wait Lex--" he took a step after her, already dizzy with the pain in his movements. He felt hands on him, holding him back, though the energy that it took to fight back took him to his knees. People were talking to him, trying to calm him, though he couldn't hear anything but the burning building and the screaming over the sound of his own thundering heart.
 
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Lexi Quinzell

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The smoke and ash seared her lungs as soon as she stepped inside causing her to cough and squint against the waves of heat that engulfed the lower floor. Somehow it seemed even worse than it had before. The stairs barely existed and the walls bent and groaned as the fire ate away at the timber frame that had turned the vast floor into rooms with purpose. She ignored it and stumbled up a mould of rubble that bridged the gap between the ground and first floor. Even at the top she was still a good six foot from what remained of the steps. Lexi squinted at the ledge she needed to aim for and took a few steps back to give herself a run up. As the wood groaned again somewhere to her left she charged forward and leapt, hands outstretched to grab a hold of the stair. The wood shrieked in protest but held and the Commander hurled herself up before it decided to fall to join its comrads below.

She didn't pause on the first, nor the second or third floor. The screaming had come from the fourth or fifth she was sure of it. Sure enough as she climbed her way up the flaming building the shouting and pleading grew louder. The smoke had rubbed her lungs raw by the time she hurled herself up the last staircase and she had to pause to hack up bloodied Ash.

"Help us, please, God's!" The voice didn't belong to the one who was screaming and wailing like a banshee but, with dread, she realised it was one she knew. Lexi followed it through the black clouds and swore when she came upon the scene.

Four of them were huddled in what had been one of the communal rooms. The ceiling above them had completely caved in and the stars peaked in through the tear in the buildings fabric like curious spectators. One of the large timber beams which should have been holding the roof up had splintered and now skewered one of the cadets to the floor through his stomach.

"Peter," Lexi breathed and Alec looked up from where he was holding his friends bloodied hand. Tears streaked down his sooty cheeks.

"Lexi-- Commander... I... we couldn't..." she waved off his words and went to take a step forward only for the floor to give way beneath her.

"The whole floor is unstable," another cadet -- a girl that looked familiar... someone she had seen Peter blush around during training -- informed her. She was stroking the hair back from his face. "Davvid tried and then..." all their eyes flickered to a hole in the floor not far away. A pregnant silence filled the air.

"You're getting out of here," she snapped to draw them back from their bleak thoughts. Her mind raced for the spells she needed that would hold up in this heat. "One at a time you're going to..."

Kain paced outside, his eyes never leaving the windows on the top floor where he had heard the screaming. He debated going up himself but knew if anything were to happen to Lexi it would do the Ravens no good to lose both their Second as well.

"She'll be OK," he reassured Cassian as the healers all but sat on him to keep him down. "She's--" a shout went up from one of the crew on the ground and then a figure appeared in the third window on the fourth floor. Hurriedly sheets were pulled taught and encouraging shouts went up for the cadet to jump. They seemed to pause but something inside made them step off the ledge and fall into the awaiting sheet. There was a cheer as she was hurled to her feet and passed to a medic but the cheers died down as another figure and another appeared in the window again...
 

Cassian

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Three times he'd tried to get up and three times he'd failed.

"If you don't sit still you're going to do yourself damage that even the commander can't repair." a female voice said to him, her hand firmly clamped down on his shoulder, forcing him from trying to rise a fourth time. He didn't think he could even without the restraint.

"I need to get this out." she said. He'd no idea what she'd meant until she yanked a thick splinter of wood the width of a dagger from his back and he dizzied so fast he all but blacked out. His breaths were wet and rattling as he coughed.

"Then why the fuck are you down here!?" he barked at Kain's assurances, unable to shout in his breathless state but the tone was clear. If it was so certain that she'd live then he'd be there helping her. "Go fucking get her!" Cassian glared at him and turned his head sharply to watch, his bleary gaze wide as they searched the windows for Lexi.
 
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Lexi Quinzell

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"Alec..."

The boy didn't look up at her but from the way his shoulders hunched she knew he heard her, knew what it meant. Her eyes flickered to the beam still pinning Peter in place and the amount of blood already lost.

"This is a really elaborate way of getting out of those 10 silvers you owe me," he said through the tears rolling down his cheeks. His hand clutched Peters so tight his knuckles appeared white even through the murk. The building groaned as Peter coughed. Every movement the lad made sent ripples through the whole structure.

"How about... I throw in.... a gold... if Penelope asks you out first," Peter wheezed and Alec seemed to surprise himself by laughing. He pushed the tears away.

"It's a deal," they stared at one another for what felt like an age as fire licked at Lexi's boots. They could have crawled up her bare legs for all she cared in that moment: she wouldn't take away this goodbye. Eventually Alec stood and turned to make they journey the other three had before across the strip of solid air Lexi was barely keeping in place. When he got to her shoulder he stopped.

"Y-you can't leave him... not alone--"

"He won't be alone," Lexi soothed and touched the lads cheek. "Go," she couldn't take another loss tonight. How many? How many bodies would they find when the fires finally went out? She watched Alec go before turning back to Peter and carefully making her way to his side. More of the roof began to fall around them.

"I... really fucked it... this time," Peter laughed which descended into more coughs and the building groaning louder. Gently she placed his head on her lap and stroked his hair. "I don't... I don't want to die..." He whispered. Lexi felt her heart breaking and made quiet shushing noises.

"I'm going to be right here," she soothed, stroking the tears from his cheeks.

"N-no.. you don't... under...stand... I don't... want...to...die... like this..." slowly. Painfully. Impaled and feeling his insides burning from the inside out. Lexi's eyes tightened but she nodded and begun to whisper a spell. Peters eyes closed in relief and she was glad he wouldn't see her own tears.

A final figure appeared in the window. It was carrying another wrapped in a tattered cloak in its arms. The cheer which had been rising suddenly vanished and the slowly dying fire was the only noise to be heard as the Commander jumped and landed smoothly. Behind her the last of the upper layers caved in but she barely paid it mind as she walked slowly to where the bodies were being laid out, to add the bundle in her arms to the tally.
 
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Cassian

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Cassian watched the figures emerge from the window, recognising Alec through the smoke, and knowing well that look on his face.

Once again he was forced down as he attempted to get up, and he put what energy he could muster into fighting the grip of the two unknown hands that held him.

Was it Lexi? Where was she? Where was Peter? - One never appeared without the other.

Cassian's heart sank and he swore at whomever was holding him before Kain appeared in front of him, his hand held out. He took it and, and the pair paused on their way toward the building when Lexi appeared.

The waves of emotions caused his knees to buckle, but thanks to Kain he remained standing. She was alive, safe. But he knew who she carried, and so did Kain. Words stuck in his throat, a painful lump that he tried to swallow and in doing so brought tears to his eyes to roll freely down his cheeks. The way Kain held onto him had nothing to do with keeping Cassian upright.

He felt his heart break for them. For Alec, who's sobs he could hear, for Lexi whom he watched carry and settle the boy's body with the others. For himself, who'd lost another brother. He broke free of Kain, who went to Alec, and he limped to Lexi to grip her shoulder and tug her against him.
 
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Lexi Quinzell

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Lexi was as stiff as a board when Cassian tugged her against him. The silence surrounding them was deafening in her ears. Those gathered were watching, waiting, yearning for words from their Commander. If she fell apart like she wanted to it would break something inside of the Raven's that might take years or longer to repair. For a brief second she allowed herself to squeeze her eyes shut and breathe in the scent of him beneath the smoke and ash, before she pushed herself back and turned towards those pale faces who were gathered.

"I want to know who did this," the ice in her voice dampened the heat from the dwindling fire behind her back. The last few buckets were going on to the east wing leaving on the west still burning. It wouldn't take long for that to be put out too. It had just been too late for the cadets at her feet. 21. 21 letters she would have to write. She shoved the thought from her mind.

"This was an attack on the White Ravens and I want to know who. Is. Responsible," she ground out the words and sad faces turned to determined ones. A few begun to mutter to one another. "When I find out who it is they will pay," oh that was a promise. She had promised it to Peter as she'd stopped his heart and she swore it now to the other 20 bodies. To the others they would no doubt find. Lexi wrapped herself in that anger and wore it like armour as she abruptly marched off and began hollering orders to the team still fighting the blaze.
 
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Cassian

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Cassian watched her along with the rest of them as she pulled back and spoke. He’d never cease to be in awe of her strength, but he knew her, and he knew her heart and how it was undoubtedly breaking in her chest. His face was a contortion of pain as he watched her leave and he let out a choked breath as he dropped to his knees at the body's side, reaching to peel back the blood-soaked cloak to see Peter's dead face.

"Fuck." Cassian dragged a hand down his own face. "I'm sorry, little brother." he murmured quietly, his voice strained and quaking as he fought the urge to fall apart. He covered Peter's face again and settled himself down next to him, his elbows braced on his knees and his head falling below his shoulders as he let his tears silently fall into the dirt.
 

Lexi Quinzell

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It was another hour before the blaze was fully out. The fire had spread from the cadets quarters to several of the nearby buildings too. Most people had been turned out of their beds and were looking with glassy eyes at the devastation in the middle of their city. There was no doubt in anyone's minds that this had been on purpose, and they were only proven right when Rose turned up some time later and announced someone had tried to enter the library vaults with dark magic. They would never know who considering the nasty backlash spell turned the would-be-thief inside out. Literally.

Lexi moved everywhere. She was amongst the injured helping to tend to worse wounds or holding hands, she was helping those digging out the fallen buildings and carrying bodies out to be buried with the due honours, she stood as people cried on her shoulder. Eventually she found her way back to Cassian and Alec who at some point had come to join Cassian beside Peter's body. Her eyes ran over the bodies. 53. She ran a hand down her face then dropped a hand to his shoulder then into his hair to gently pull his head to rest against her stomach. She was still wearing just his shirt and her boots.

"He wasn't in pain," she said softly and Alec looked up in confusion only for realisation to dawn on his face. "And he wasn't alone. We'll give them all the proper send off they deserve."
 
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Cassian

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He didn't understand. He wasn't prepared for this. They weren't on a battlefield or fighting some demon or beast, they were asleep in their beds, expecting to share their usual banter at breakfast or on the training field in the morning.

Cassian and Peter had fallen into silence some time ago. It wasn't a pleasant silence, but the empty silence that normally surrounded death. The grim reality that someone they loved was gone and that silence would never be filled with the sound of their voice again. Death had always confused him. His father had said that men weren't supposed to understand it, that they weren't supposed to dwell on it and that they had to get on with things and just accept them as they were, but since his mother had died he'd always wondered what came next.

Nothing. There is nothing but the black abyss, Cassian, and some day it comes for us all.

That thought had haunted him. The thought of his mother, his brother and comrades and now Peter trapped in darkness. His father deserved a fate like that, but they didn't. He flinched out of his thoughts as he felt Lexi's hand on his shoulder, initially assuming it to be another pestering medic trying to insist that he have his injuries tended to. The moment the hand ran into his hair however he eased and let his eyes close as she held him, his hand giving a gentle squeeze at her thigh.

"You alrigh' lass?" he asked, his voice gritty and raw.
 
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Lexi Quinzell

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A medic quietly came to collect Alec and take him to finally get checked. The younger lad had refused to be seen until the others in his group had but Lexi suspected it was because of nothing to do with some sense of macho bravado and everything to do with not wanting to leave Peter just yet. She watched him go. The stoop of his shoulder, the way he seemed to flinch at every word the woman said to him. He was not far off she age she had been when she had lost the Commander - a man who had been as close to her as her own father. A loss like this shaped a man.

"No," her voice broke and her fingers tightened a bit more in his hair. She'd been holding all her grief and pain in for hours and the dam was close to bursting. "If I had just got there a bit sooner maybe I could have..." Lexi cut herself off by taking in one shuddering breath and shaking herself.

Two Ravens decked out in a haunting black had come to quietly tend to the bodies.
 
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Cassian

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Cassian could barely look at Alec. He knew that pain well, and he didn't quite know what to do or say other than just silently be there.

His brow furrowed as he listened to Lexi and he growled quietly. "No." he repeated the word much more firmly than how she'd spoke it, with a solidness to it that denied any argument. Pain lanced through him as he pulled himself to his feet, and he reached to take her face in his hands, settling his eyes firmly on hers.

"You can't save everyone, Lex. You saved as many as you could. You can't blame yourself for this, do you hear me?.." he frowned at her.

"Lets go get cleaned up. You've done enough.."
 

Lexi Quinzell

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Tears danced unshed in her eyes as she looked up at him. She knew his words to be true but it didn't end the aching feeling in her heart and the bleakness in her mind as she desperately thought of a way where she might have been able to save just one more life. Mutely she nodded when he suggested heading home and tore her eyes away from his to glance once more around the scenes of destruction. Most people had left. The medics had done a fine job of getting people moving to the infirmary and Kain had organised those without a place to sleep to take up new rooms with more than willing fully fledged Ravens.

Cassian was right, there was nothing left to do and she had done enough.

"Kain said you threatened to turn one of the medics into a ferret if they tried to touch you again," she said casually as they made their way back to their suite, her head leaning on his shoulder. A year ago Lexi would have never allowed herself to appear so publicly vulnerable but now these slight touches had become second nature to her.
 
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Cassian

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The pain in his chest far outweighed that of his injuries when she looked up at him like that.

"Not true." he murmured quietly, taking her hand with a gentle squeeze. "I said you would turn them into a ferret if they tried to touch me again." he pressed a small smile against her temple. They walked slowly back to the apartment, the smell of smoke hanging thick in the air as a painful reminder of what they'd walked away from, and of those who hadn't.

Red was sitting by the door waiting for them and slunk inside as Cassian pushed the door open. He led Lexi passed her study and back to the bedroom, sitting her on the edge of the bed and kneeling down to pull off her charred boots.

"I'm so fucking sorry, Lex." he whispered as he looked up at her, afraid his voice would break if he spoke the words any louder.
 
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