This was the first time in my life I punched someone in the face– and actually landed the hit.
The loud thud from it resounded throughout the room, and my face of surprise immediately shifted to pain as I held my throbbing hand tight.
Zuria looked at me with surprise as I cursed under my breath.
Pierce wobbled in place, rubbing the part of his jaw where my fist connected, hissing with a wince.
“Yeowch, the little lady packs quite a punch!”
I held my aching knuckles in my one good hand, standing my ground as I glared at him.
“Yeah? Well, there’s more where that came from!”
“Oh, I bet!” He laughed, cracking his neck from side to side, seemingly perfectly fine already. He took a step towards me, towering a head or so above my height.
“So,” he adjusted the giant mallet back over his shoulder, and something cold and evil flashed through his bright, yellow eyes as he glared at me like a feral animal. “Where do you want to die?”
Ah… He meant it, for sure.
I knew I should do something. There was no doubt in my mind that this was an enemy for sure. Like, I knew it seemed obvious but nothing here made sense! So for all I knew, maybe friends of people just go around smashing their bestie’s houses or something!
Zuria was still holding the shield of light from Posthaste and didn’t seem like she was in any position to help me, and Pierce’s words– where he called me out on not having a weapon, were drilling holes down my brain.
Of course I didn’t have a weapon, nobody told me I needed one!
Guiltily, way in the back of my mind, I was thinking how this guy was actually kinda funny and looked my age, and I liked his cool, RPG-like military clothes, too. Under different circumstances maybe I would've liked playing videogames with him or something. But instead he was here to kill me.
A drop of sweat fell down my forehead, hopelessly feeling like a deer about to be devoured.
This guy thought I was a helpless girl, and for all intents and purposes, at this time, I pretty much was exactly that! What could I do!? Play dead!? Cry!? Beg for my life like my sister would–
That’s right! My sister!
This guy thought I was the real Alice - and not only that, he knew I had no weapons! Maybe I should use that to my advantage…
He took one loud, intimidating step towards me, leaning down until our faces were almost touching. I gasped in fear.
“Are you deaf? Huh!? I said Where. Do you. Wanna DIE!?”
I was paralyzed for a second in surprise, but I knew what I had to do. I tightened my lips and looked away from him, letting my hair cascade down my eyes as I brought my fist to my chest demurely.
“Please… Mr. Pierce…? Please don't do it…”
A long, agonizing moment of silence followed my insincere words, and I didn’t even have to look at Zuria to know she was probably giving me a look of absolute disgust.
In contrast, however, Pierce had been paralyzed in turn, blinking at my sudden change in attitude, but he didn’t seem fully convinced. He leaned away from my face, glaring in disbelief.
But that’s all I needed. As long as he bought my act even a little, I had the advantage!
I decided to crank the damsel in distress act to max, squeezing my eyes shut and holding my breath to force some activity from my tear ducts, and it worked like a charm. When I opened my eyes to look at him, they were nice and dewy, and if I looked anything like my sister (I did), I knew I had the most defenseless look any pretty girl could ever have.
I reached my trembling hands towards one of Pierce’s - the one not holding the mallet, and squeezed it tightly between my own as I gave him the saddest, cutest look I could muster. You could probably hear the sparkles in the air.
His eyes opened wide, and he held his breath as heat started to take over his face.
Good! It was working! Haha!
I tried my best not to laugh, bracing myself for my finishing move: begging for my life!
“Please… Spare my life, Mr. Pierce?”
A deep, warm shade of red colored his cheeks, his nose, all the way to his ears. He stumbled on his words and immediately let go of my hand, trying to steady himself.
I kept the damsel act even then.
Pierce took a few steps back, shaking his head quickly like a dog trying to dry itself.
“W-What– I… Whu… Whut? Huh…??”
Haha. He looked so dumb. How do you like that!
Yeah, okay. This was a stupid tactic that I’d seen my sister use many times in the past, and it was always super effective. I never thought of using it myself because– well, why would I!? But honestly, it was easier than I thought.
At least, it seemed to work on Pierce, who was clearing his throat and catching his breath, trying to act tough again.
Zuria was quiet, and from the corner of my eye I could see she was absolutely repulsed by me. I wished she’d stop looking at me like that! I only did what I had to do to survive, lay off me!
Still, the fact that she didn’t interrupt now meant she knew what I was doing, and we both knew at this point that was my best bet for survival.
“...Fine,” Pierce sighed. “I’m clearly at a huge advantage here, and I’m not into killing useless prey.”
Oh. I looked at him, surprised.
He scratched the back of his head, avoiding eye contact with me, still slightly blushing. I guess he’s purer than I thought?
His eyes found Zuria, and after a second, he lowered his mallet with a loud thud on the ground, raising a palm as if signaling a truce.
A second of hesitation later, Zuria put away Posthaste and its shield, but kept the pocket watch in her hand as a precaution. I was grateful for this, really. Who knew what this guy had in mind, after all.
He leaned over the giant handle of his weapon, crossing his arms and sizing me up with his eyes. It was gross, but I knew I couldn’t stop him if I wanted to live. I groaned through my teeth, and I could hear him scoff right after.
“Not gonna lie, you girls both look kinda lame.”
I was mildly offended at that, but Zuria was as taciturn as ever.
“Alright, then,” Pierce carried on, gesturing with a hand. “If there’s something I hate more than lame fights, that’s lame fights with someone that won’t even put up a fight. So, why don’t we talk for a bit instead, yeah?”
Zuria and I looked at each other.
We couldn’t trust this guy at all, but what choice did we have? If we disagreed to his offer as we were, he’d turn us both into splatters. We didn’t say anything, but we knew we were both thinking the same thing.
I looked at him and nodded.
“...I have some questions for you, too.”