The following prompt references a wip temporarily titled Glitch, which takes place in the same universe as Rivener, though several hundred year in its past.
“This time, do what I say.”
Cipher scowled up at her from where he was sprawled, and Sacha simply raised an unimpressed brow down at him, unmoved.
“If I was able to shift so that we’d be the same size,” he snarled, getting back to his feet and wiping at the blood trickling from his nose. “I’d be able to take you.”
“Is this supposed to impress me?” she replied. “That you’re defenceless without your shapeshifting?”
Cipher’s scowl only deepened. “’S not fair,” he muttered, but got his arms up like she’d showed him, one fist protecting his face, the other slightly lower. “Etienne’s a shrimp and you’re a—a giant. The odds are stacked against me.”
“Etienne would have blocked that punch,” Sacha replied, circling him like some kind of predator, looking for his weak spots so she could attack him again. “Like I trained him to.”
Cipher was convinced she got some sort of perverse pleasure out of beating him bloody, even if her face (what he could see of it behind the mask hiding her mouth) had never shifted from professional focus.
“My strength and size only give me an advantage because I know how to make it one,” she continued, her tone lecturing. “You need to do the same, which is why you need to do as I say. So if I say you need to stop locking your arm up, then you need to stop locking your arm up.”
Cipher’s scowl shifted into a pout. “Do you know what time it is?” he whined. “I’m exhausted.”
“You may be exhausted while attacked,” Sacha replied implacably, settling in front of him again. “You will need to train your body—Etienne’s body—to respond effectively.” She eyed him critically and then nudged his elbow higher with a tap of her palm. “Better,” she murmured.
“You know,” Cipher said, taking a deep breath as he saw her slide her foot behind her, ready to square off with him again. “I’m sure this—throwing yourself at someone untrained in fighting and hoping they’ll just pick up self-defence--has never worked, ever.”
There was a flicker in her pale eyes, something Cipher would swear was exasperation, and he was very good at reading expressions, as he’d spent his entire life studying them. Seemed like he was finally getting under her skin.
“And you would be the expert in that,” she replied drolly, and without warning, lunged at him.
The end result was Cipher flat on his back, a bruise the size of Sacha’s not inconsiderable fist imprinted on his ribs, he was certain.
“You could have died,” she said, squatting over him as he wheezed desperately for air, “If I was trying to kill you. It would have been pitifully easy.”
And there, another flash in her eyes. Humour. She was amused by him, the horrible hulking--
Cipher swung at her. She wasn’t expecting it, mostly because Cipher hadn’t been planning to lash out at her, and it was that element of surprise that had him raking his nails over her face. He didn’t do much damage—the mask was in the way, but the point was that he got her.
She lurched back, too late to escape entirely, and jerked to her feet. Cipher grinned at her, even as he was still struggling to make his lungs expand, heart pounding hard in his chest, and refused to acknowledge the prickles of fear in his belly.
She raised a hand to the line scoring her cheek over the mask, just under her eye. He could’ve done some real damage. She could now do him some real damage.
But all she did was feel along the ragged cut and then look at him. “Very good,” she said, and was that approval in her tone? How wildly aggravating, even if relief washed through him at her words. “You took advantage of your apparently compromised state and my assumption that you were out for the count to get closer to me than you would have otherwise.”
Cipher glared at her. “That is not the compliment you think it is,” he bit out.
Her face shifted, and Cipher just knew she was smiling beneath her mask, with the way her eyes curved. He didn’t even know she could do that.
“Bold of you to assume I meant that as a compliment,” she replied.
Apparently, Etienne’s bodyguard and Cipher’s jailer had a sense of humour buried under that mask and her robotic adherence to her profession.
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