Next one, here we go. More action/plot based than the last hopefully. Reviews appreciated, as always all. Enjoy!

Chapter 15 - Debt Repaid

Eragon PoV

'Well, isn't this just bloody brilliant...' I think, racking my brains for a way to reach Arya who's currently in Durza's confines.

"How did this even happen?" I murmur to myself, my mind going over today's series of events that led to this situation.

Earlier That Day, 5 Hours Ago - Eragon PoV

"So that's the grand plan? Eragon and Arya follow Durza after this afternoon's races, while the rest of us create a big hoo-hah as a distraction?" says Murtagh, his voice laced with sarcasm and disbelief. It's just after 2pm on a Sunday and all of us have gathered in a nearby park to discuss the finer details of our 'escapade'.

"It's slightly more intricate than that." Arya replies, rubbing her index fingers on her temple in frustration.

"We'll need to be subtle. Discretion is the absolute top priority here; Durza can't know we're up to anything or the games up." adds Saphira, eyeing everyone seriously.

"Following him will be a lot easier if we had some way of tracking his car; better to rely on technology than playing 'cat and mouse'." says Nasuada, looking around hopefully for someone to provide a solution.

"I've got a GPS tracker you guys could use," says Firnen, rummaging around in some boxes, "It's easy to use: just stick it anywhere on the car and track it via Google maps. Aha! Here it is."

"Perfect." I grin, taking the tracker from Firnen and examining it. "Once we follow him to his destination, we sneak inside and grab a few pics of anything incriminating. Then we skedaddle and job done."

"You say that like we're taking a lollipop from a baby, Eragon." Arya replies, arching an eyebrow at me. "Who knows if we'll even be able to follow him inside said destination? Not to mention avoiding detection and gaining access to the building or compound or whatever it might be."

"You don't have to follow him inside wherever tonight, you know. Just find out where exactly he has his little drugs operation going on and we could all go there some other time for a more thorough investigation." comments Saphira, a few of us nodding at her logic.

"Perhaps," says Arya with a frown, "but we need to make the sure the location he leads us to is actually part of his operation, not some other destination with no relevance."

"Agreed." I say, nodding my head slowly. "I guess it mainly depends on what exactly happens tonight and what exactly we find."

Present Time - Eragon PoV

'She must be in that room where that light's coming from.' I think, trying to judge how far away the building is in the darkness with only a few bits of overhead lighting to aid me.

"Wonder what Durza's doing to that bitch now." says a voice further ahead, multiple footsteps indicating more than one person moving around.

"Probably made her scream for a bit, before she begs him to stop and spills everything." the other individual replies with a grim laugh. My hands clench painfully into fists at their words, anxiety gnawing away at my mind.

'I swear if that sick bastard does anything to her…' I think angrily, the knife sitting in my inside jacket pocket coming to the front of my mind.

Clearing my head, I scope out my surroundings. As far as I can make out, there's only these two guys on 'patrol' outside; knowing my luck, there'd be more inside. I sit still in my hiding spot between a few parked cars, praying the two men both keep moving on with their 'rounds'.

Mercifully, they do and I press on silently towards the building with the lit-up room.

Earlier That Day, 3 Hours Ago - Eragon PoV

"So who exactly is going to plant the tracker on Durza's car?" I ask, looking around at Murtagh, Firnen, Rum and Raven. The rest of the gang were helping setup for this afternoon's races, with their respective crews.

"I'll do it: just give me a small distraction and I'll have it done before you know it." replies Firnen, winking at us.

"You sure? You've gotta be fast and subtle Firnen, remember that." says Rum, eyeing him warily.

"No sweat, I'm a fucking ninja boys."

"This guy, thinks he's a ninja. Oh boy." I comment, rolling my eyes.

"You'll see, ye of little faith." responds Firnen, swatting my arm. "Just go make a scene to get Durza's attention and I'll know when to plant the tracker."

We head towards Saphira and the others only to run into the goon himself: Durza.

"Looks like we'll be getting a scene, whether we like it or not." Murtagh murmurs, tensing up.

"Have you come here to try and stab us again, Durza? We all know how that panned out last time." I say, trying to goad him a little.

"No, I've come with some interesting information. A little birdie told me you're busy tuning a new ride. Now, that got me thinking: it would be a damn shame if something were to happen to it, right?" he replies, lazily grinning at me. Trying to play it cool, I force myself to not react to his words.

"And which little birdie told you those lies? Might want to check your sources."

"Oh really? Well, whose car is this then?" I'm presented with a picture of my tuned GT-R parked in the Paladin's garage.

On Durza's phone screen, of all places.

"What the fuck?! Where did you get that photo you little-"

"Like I said, one of my little birdies told me." It suddenly clicks. He has moles inside some or all of the other racing crews.

"Well here's my warning then: you go even 5 centimetres near my car and I'll carve you up with that knife of yours like a fucking roast dinner." I respond menacingly, getting into his face. He smirks at my words, before heading back to his car.

"What was that all about?" asks Saphira, her, Arya and Nasuada walking over briskly.

"Durza has spies dotted around the other racing crews, moles of some sort." says Murtagh, still watching Durza walking away.

"What? Are you positive?" demands Nasuada, her eyes going wide. Murtagh nods, turning his attention to me.

"He knows about Eragon's GT-R, showed us a picture on his bloody phone. He threatened to, essentially, smash it up."

"Shit." says Arya suddenly, all eyes turning to her. "He knows what your car looks like now, Eragon."

"Bollocks! There goes our plan of following him in my car." I reply, rubbing my hand down the side of my face.

"I've done it! Tracker is planted and ready to go." Firnen comes jogging over, looking gleeful as ever. His expression slowly fades as he looks at us. "Don't tell me, we've already hit a hitch in our plan?" Arya fills Firnen in on what we learned while the rest of us stand there, trying to think of a solution.

"We could still use Eragon's car. I reckon Durza doesn't know if it's insured and ready to hit the road yet or not." says Raven, clicking his fingers at his realisation.

"That's a good point actually. Durza mentioned my ride still being 'tuned'; he thinks it's won't be out of the garage for a long time to come." I add, looking at Arya to see her reaction. She's quiet for a few seconds before replying.

"We'll have to risk it. This also means we cannot be spotted at any cost or the game is up."

"No shit, Sherlock." comments Murtagh, clapping his hands patronisingly.

"Shut up, Murtagh." the rest of us reply, all hitting him at the same time as well.

"You know… you guys are mean." he whines, rubbing his chest where we smacked him.

I glance at the others, all of us mirroring each other's mischievous expression, before saying "We try."

Present Time - Eragon PoV

Inching the door open slowly, hoping it doesn't creek, I take a look around the interior of the building. Seems like it's an old, abandoned warehouse of sorts judging by the shelved spaces everywhere.

Or rather it used to be abandoned, if not for the numerous cardboard boxes stacked around me.

Keeping my ears and eyes open for any signs of activity, I take a closer look at one of the open boxes.

'White 09A?! Fuck, that's the same label Murtagh saw on the drugs in his Dad's office.' I think, my brain suddenly awash with multiple thoughts. I snap a picture of it on my phone, along with a wider, panoramic view of the warehouse before continuing on.

The light was coming from the 1st floor so I wander around in search for some stairs; a lift would be too risky, since I could bump into some of the other 'patrolmen' which would not end well. Within a few minutes, I spot a narrow staircase leading upwards but, as I head towards it, two said 'patrolmen' begin coming down it.

Quickly diving between two rows of stacked boxes, I keep my head down and listen to their footsteps.

"Dunno why Durza thinks there might be another person who came with that girl, not a soul around except for us lot." says one of them, grunting in annoyance.

"Nothing strange reported outside?" replies the other, looking at him questioningly.

"Nope, nada. All's quiet innit."

"Eh, let's just keep looking. Keeps us busy in the meantime instead of having to shift these boxes around, to make 'em ready for transport in a few days."

"True that."

Thankfully, they both walk past the aisle I'm crouched in without looking around and disappear from sight. Waiting a few minutes in case they come back or for anyone else to come down, I head for the stairs and climb them softly.

'Please don't be squeaky, please don't be squeaky…' I pray mentally, taking each step as lithely as possible. When I reach the top, my eyes immediately lock onto a light source ahead of me and I creep towards it.

"Who else was with you?! Any more games and I'll start slicing, you bitch." Durza's angry voice comes from the room ahead, no question.

"Oh let me see… I think I brought the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and-"

A loud slap interrupts her and my jaw clenches in fury.

'Oh he did not just hit her. He did not just hit her.' I think lividly, my hand edging towards the knife in my pocket.

"Last chance to answer seriously or I start cutting. I think I'll start with your forearms, before working my way up towards your chest." he replies, the sound of a switchblade being whipped open following it.

Shuffling towards a window looking into the room, I peek my eyes just over the lower edge and assess the situation: Durza standing opposite Arya, knife in hand, who's currently tied to a wooden chair with a bruise on her face, along with a split lip.

Neither notice me as both are facing side-on to me but, crucially, they're the only people in the room.

'I'll need to be quick and quiet, using the element of surprise on my side.' I plan in my mind, trying to devise a way into the room unnoticed.

Earlier That Day, 1 Hour Ago - Eragon PoV

"Now's our chance, Eragon." says Arya, both of us sitting in my GT-R which had been parked away from the race area. "Durza's just got into his Ascari." She fires up the tracker on her phone and once the signal's been established, we wait for him to move off.

"Keep at least 20 metres from him and make sure we have a few cars in between us. Once he turns off into the emptier roads, we'll have to wait for him behind corners. As soon as he turns into a new road, then we move. Got it?"

"Yes boss, roger that. We are Oscar Mike. Ready to chase tangos-"

"Oh shut up, Eragon." she interrupts me, rolling her eyes at my military speak even though her lips twitch at my humour. I grin in response, mock saluting her.

"He's setting off… by himself? I thought some of his other henchmen would be going with him." I comment, confused by the lone car moving away without the expected escort.

"Likely he's trying not to make a scene or draw any attention to himself, which is a good indicator he's going somewhere important. Let's wait for him to get past those traffic lights ahead before following."

The whole journey is a series of stop, start, stop, start followed by creeping around corners, frantically checking the GPS tracker and arguing over what a 'safe' distance is.

"Look, we're far too close Eragon. Hang back." hisses Arya, glaring at me.

"How on Earth are we too close? The man might as well be on the other side of the bloody country with how far we are." I retort, frustration evident in my voice.

"We have a GPS tracker; we don't need to be this close. Hang. Back."

"If I hang back anymore, I might as well let him go. We need to stay close because the GPS signal is iffy at best, since we're in a built-up area right now."

"Alright, just don't- "

"Get too close. Yes, yes. I know."

"You are honestly a pain at times, Eragon. Too hasty, too oblivious." My hands grip the steering wheel harder at her insults.

"Me?! Well, apologies, your eminence. Not all of us are as grand and majestic as yourself. 'Too hasty', fuck off." I mutter, shaking my head in annoyance. Her eyes narrow at my words but just as she opens her mouth to respond, I cut her off. "Look, Durza's pulling up to that building ahead. I'll park the car here and we'll take a closer inspection on foot."

"Agreed." she snaps, still irritated at me judging by her body language.

'God, she's in a right foul mood. Fuck me.' I think, praying she regains some calm. As she begins to walk ahead, I grab her arm to hold her back.

"Remember what I said Arya, back at my place: don't go pulling some stupid shit that'll get us both in deep trouble. Alright?" She takes a deep breath, snapping her mouth shut at the obvious retort that was about to come out.

"Got it. Let's go."

We both creep up to Durza's car, crouching behind it and observing him as he walks into the building up ahead.

"What is this place?" I ask, glancing at Arya.

"I have no idea." she replies, with a small shrug of her shoulders before beginning to move forward. "We need to get closer, he's moving out of- shit! Hide!"

"What- "

Before I can even finish my question, she yanks me down between some other parked cars in front of the building just as two men walk out of the building ahead. "Ah bollocks. He's got people on watch."

"Which means he must be hiding something valuable or incriminating here. Good."

"How do we even get near the building, let alone inside it, without being spotted?"

"Let's wait for those two to move on. You stay here, I'll signal if the way ahead is clear."

"Sounds good, be careful." Swiftly nodding, she sneaks towards a door on the side of the building rather than the main entrance. Just as her hand reaches for the door handle, it's kicked open from the inside.

And the worst thing that could happen this night becomes reality: Durza and two of his goons now cornering a frozen Arya.

"Well, well. I'm glad I trusted my instincts: I knew I spotted some movement outside. You really ought to check your surroundings for these wonderful devices called CCTV cameras." says Durza mockingly, motioning for the others to grab her. "Take her to the empty room upstairs. Tie her up, gag her and leave; I'll question her alone in a few minutes. If she gives any trouble, point a knife at her."

"Right boss." they both reply, one of them putting her arms in a lock and the other wrapping a piece of cloth in and around her mouth. I hear her grunt in response but thankfully she cooperates, saving herself any mistreatment.

'For now… who knows what Durza has in store for her?' I think worryingly, slamming my fist into my thigh. 'Shit, shit, shit. Think Eragon, think. By the time I call the police or the others, Arya might've been harmed already.'

Only one option presents itself to me: I'll have to get her out myself. For fuck's sake.

'Arya, you owe me big time if I get you out of this God damn mess. Big time.'

Present Time - Eragon PoV

'I can't afford to make any noise or his whole goon squad will come running for me. I'll have to lure Durza out of the room and silently take him out.' Sliding the switchblade out of my jacket pocket, I flick it open and check to make sure my surroundings are clear.

Tiptoeing towards the door, I knock on it a few times tentatively before quickly moving beside it poised for action.

"Here goes nothing…" I mumble to myself, trying to not tense up. I hear him shove the gag back in Arya's mouth before marching over to the door.

"What is it?!" says Durza sharply, wrenching it open. He steps forward, trying to find the source of the noise, and I waste no time in surprising him.

Slipping behind him, I put him in chokehold immediately with the crook of my right elbow against his throat and my left hand pushing the back of his head away from me.

"Surprise, you cunt." I whisper in his ear menacingly. All he can do is gag and make choking noises as he struggles against me. However, I make the mistake of not watching his arms closely enough: his elbows slam into my gut, forcing me to let go of him.

"Come to save your friend, have we? Too bad you'll be on the floor soon, bleeding out." he spits, lunging at me with his knife. I jump back, getting in a defensive stance with my switchblade in a reverse grip, my mind suddenly swarming with every bit of technique I learned back with the Daggers.

"Always remain out of striking distance and always move. Never stand flat-footed; be on the balls of your feet and circle your opponent. Move as he moves, Eragon: never stand still." commanded Mark, barking orders at me as I faced my opponent.

"If they move to slash or stab low, you move back and to the side in synch. Attempt to slash their forearm. If they move to slash or stab high, you do the same but attempt to slash the underside of their forearm. Remember: you want to your opponent to drop their knife at all costs. Disarming them is your first and only priority in a close quarters combat situation with blades."

I smirk at Durza, trying to unsettle him.

'Thanks Mark, looks like those tips will come in handy once again.' I think, waiting for him to strike again so I can counter him. He lunges forward again, thrusting towards my stomach; I parry the blow and move to the side, while trying to slash Durza's forearm as he pulls back.

"Seems you're not a complete novice to bladework." taunts Durza, twirling his knife in his hands.

"Seems I'm not indeed." I reply, tucking my chin in slightly to protect my throat.

This time Durza slashes downwards at a 45-degree angle, trying to score a cut across my chest. I parry the blow away from body with my free hand, successfully managing to slash his forearm as he passes me.

Glancing at the cut on his arm, his eyes narrow at me. He suddenly feints multiple stabbing motions at me, which I react to and in turn this allows him to land a cut on my stomach area. I hiss in pain, ignoring the cut and focusing on his blade hand instead.

My lips twitch upwards slightly as I catch sight of something to my advantage: his fingers are trembling slightly due to the cut on his forearm.

'His wrist will be his weak spot to go for…' I mentally scheme, waiting for his next attack. 'The timing needs to be just right.' Sure enough, impatience gets the better of Durza and he thrusts at my already injured stomach area.

Twisting around it, I grab his wrist with my free hand and slash the underside of his forearm. He immediately drops his knife, grunting in pain. I keep a hold of his wrist firmly, not letting him pull away and smash the hilt of my knife into his temple.

The blow causes him to stagger back as I let his wrist go and I deliver a high roundhouse kick to his jaw, a globule of blood spewing from his mouth. He falls to the floor, falling into unconsciousness.

But for some reason, rage continues to fill me and my vision flashes red.

I pounce on him, delivering a strong right hand to his head while my other hand raises the knife above him.

"Mmph!" The sound of Arya trying to get my attention through the gag in her mouth makes me freeze, my blood going cold at what I was doing.

I get off Durza slowly after a few seconds, feeling dazed. Staring at my now shaking hands, I watch the small drops of blood fall off the knife hypnotically.

Drip.

Drip.

Splash.

"We have to go, now! Before any more of them show up! Move you morons!" yelled Mark, pushing me and causing me to stumble forward. As I began to sprint away with the others, I took one last look at the carnage behind me. One thought was endlessly looping in my mind.

I almost killed a man tonight.

Shaking myself out of the memory, I quickly wipe the knife on Durza's sleeve and run over to Arya. I remove the gag from her mouth and get to work cutting the ropes securing her to the chair.

"You good?" I ask, glancing over her body for any hidden injuries. She shakes her head slightly and my eyes widen in alarm. "What-"

"My left ankle is sprained. The bastards tossed me onto the chair roughly, causing it to bend awkwardly." she says in a muted voice, her eyes boring into my mine. I look away, unable to face the accusation evident in them.

"Alright, I'll carry you out. Ah-ah-ah, don't protest. You're in no condition to walk and we need to get out of here fast. Before any of Durza's thugs show up." Nodding in defeat, she holds her arms up.

I crouch down slightly, one arm going underneath her knees and the other going round the middle of her back. Lifting her up, I watch her cross her arms over her chest.

Her body language is practically screaming 'not happy with this'.

'And here I was hoping she'd wrap her arms around my neck.' I think, actual feelings of disappointment coming and going.

Through - what I can only assume - sheer, dumb luck, I manage to locate another entrance to the parking lot outside the building and sneak our way out.

"What are the chances of that, eh?" I say to Arya, a small grin on my face.

"Indeed. You can let me down now Eragon by the way, we're out of the danger zone."

"Oh. Right. Erm, sorry. Didn't realise." I stutter, letting her down gently while keeping one of her arms wrapped around my shoulders for support. Once we get into the car, I'm not surprised at the next question that comes out of her mouth.

"What happened back there, Eragon? You almost stabbed Durza. I can understand you were angry but he was already-"

"Can we not talk about this right now, please?" I cut her off sharply, my eyes squeezing shut. I take a deep breath, trying to forget what happened with Durza.
Suddenly, a soft hand lays itself on my jaw and turns me towards her.

"Hey, Eragon," she says softly, "I'm not accusing you of being some violent psychopath. I'm just shocked. And worried about you." I open my eyes slowly, looking at the gentle expression on her face.

"Yeah well, tonight you got to see a glimpse of my fucked up past. Hope you enjoyed the show." I reply sarcastically, pulling my face away from her hand and starting the car up.

Suddenly my head reels back as Arya slaps me. Hard.

I turn to her in shock and anger, raising a hand to my cheek. "What the hell?!"

"Snap out of it. Stop being a douche for one second and throwing yourself a pity party. I'm trying to make sure you're feeling ok, while you're making a mockery of it." I open my mouth to snap back at her but I let it slowly fall shut, realising she's speaking sense.

"You're right, sorry." I mutter. "I'm not really in the right frame of mind after tonight." Her eyes soften at my apology and she nods in acceptance.

"How's that cut on your abdomen?" she asks, glancing at it. I lift my top up, lightly touching it.

"It's fine, it's stopped bleeding for now. I'll bandage it up when we get back to the Warden's base where you need to get patched up as well." I reply, pointedly looking at her.

"I'm fine."

"That bruise and split lip, not to mention sprained ankle, says otherwise." My jaw clenches as I take in her injuries. "I can't believe that little shit hit you while you were helpless; now I'm glad I did batter the cunt."

"I'm not some hapless damsel that needs rescuing all the time, Eragon. I can take a few hits, don't worry about me needlessly." I stare incredulously at her words.

"You're actually a real piece of work. I sneak in, save your arse from Durza and you don't even have an ounce - no, a microgram - of appreciation or gratitude. It's all snarky remarks and bullshit pride talking. Next time I'll just leave you there and let you fight your own way out, after you miraculously escape from your prison with some Houdini space magic. Easy, huh?"

She turns away crossly in response, looking straight ahead and not saying a word. Shaking my head in response, I drive off into the night.


An hour later, I pull up to the Warden's base. Things had been frosty the whole journey, neither of us uttering a word the whole way.

'Whatever, I'm right and she knows it. Ungrateful woman.'

Getting out and crossing over to the passenger side, I open the door for Arya. "Need help getting out and making it inside, or should I not bother?" I comment scathingly, causing a small blush to form in her cheeks. She holds out an arm in response, not looking at me directly as I help her into the garage.

"I'll call Saphira and the others, let them know we're alright since we were supposed to meet them at the Paladin's base." She nods in response, limping over to a set of draws with first aid supplies in them.

Arya PoV

Rummaging through the draws for some disinfectant and bandages, I think back on the utter failure tonight was: no evidence of Durza's drug operation, my kidnapping and Eragon almost fatally wounding Durza.

I wince slightly while applying some of the disinfectant to my split lip and check the condition of the bruise on my face in the mirror.

"It's not too bad." I mutter, after seeing the small yellow patch. Unwrapping a reasonable length of bandage, I cut the section off and wrap it around my sprained ankle securely.

"This on the other hand will take a day at least to heal." I sigh, thinking about the awkward day I'll be having at school tomorrow. Eragon suddenly comes back into the garage, pocketing his phone in his jacket.

"All's good. Called Saphira and told her we'll fill them in tomorrow on what happened." he states, fidgeting slightly under my stare.

"That's a relief, I don't particularly feel like being bombarded with questions right now."

"Agreed." he laughs lightly, taking his jacket off and lifting his top up. "Pass the bandages and disinfectant?"

"Let me do it, Eragon. Knowing you, it'll be half-arse job at best."

"Rude." he says, rolling his eyes and standing in front of me while I sit on the table to stay off my ankle. I carefully clean the wound with the disinfectant and a paper towel, wiping off any congealed blood. He hisses slightly and I smirk at him in response.

"Grow up, you big baby."

"Hey! You're not the one that almost got sliced open like a pig for slaughter."

"Hmm, well the pig part could apply to you."

"Oh very funny, I'm stunned at your sharp wit."

"Naturally." I reply, unable to stop my lips twitching at our banter. He grins as well, before suddenly sighing and running a hand through his hair.

"I'm sorry for what I said in the car. I didn't mean it; it was just frustration talking." he mumbles, looking at the floor instead of me.

"No, it's not your apology to give. I'm the one who should be sorry: you were completely right. If you hadn't come for me, who knows what that psychopath might've done?" I sigh, my shoulders slumping slightly. "Anger got the best of me. I was - and still am - annoyed at how much of a disaster the whole night was. I threw caution to the wind and got myself caught, not to mention we didn't even find out anything about that place."

"I wouldn't say it was a complete failure- Ow! Easy with the bandage lady, I'm not some piece of meat." he complains as I tighten the disinfected bandage around his stomach and back, trying to ignore the muscle definition of his abdomen. As soon as I tie off the bandage, I turn to his face to avoid looking at that area of him any longer.

'I seem to be around a nearly shirtless Eragon fairly often…' I remark, irritated at the situation.

"How was it not a complete failure then?" In response he whips his phone out of his jacket, scrolling through it and handing it to me. My mouth opens slightly in shock, gawking at the photos on the screen.

"When did you take these?" I ask, turning to him in disbelief and elation.

"While I was making my way to where Durza held you, I came across some fairly incriminating stuff. Figured I'd snap a few photos just in case. More interestingly, it turns out all those boxes of drugs are being transported somewhere in a few days' time. According to his lackey's anyway."

"This is perfect! Concrete evidence that Durza is involved in some smuggling operation. We have photos of his car at the scene and of the actual substance." I exclaim, grateful that something positive came out of tonight's fiasco.

"Well that might be too optimistic but it puts him into question for sure. We'll have to file a report to the police soon so they can potentially raid the warehouse before everything disappears."

"Definitely."

Silence then settles over us, Eragon seemingly staring into space as he puts his jacket on while I continue to analyse the photos in my head. A flicking sound pulls me out of my thoughts abruptly. Turning to the source, I find Eragon playing with the switchblade he used tonight.

"You really weren't joking when you said you knew how to handle a knife, were you?" I comment, watching him go rigid. He grunts in response, a resigned look coming over his face. "Eragon, look at me. Eragon." He tries to turn away from me but I catch his wrist, holding him in place. "What's the matter?" I ask in a soft voice, turning his cheek with my other hand so he's facing me.

"Tonight. That fight." he sighs, his eyes snapping shut and his head shaking back and forth lightly. "It brought up something I'd buried away in my head." He tries to turn away from me again but I hold him in place once more.

"And that means you keep avoiding my gaze because…?" He laughs hollowly at this, a grim, dead sound filling the garage.

"Because of that damned look in your eyes after I asked if you were alright. The accusation in them. The horror in them. The disgust in them. As it should be." My eyes narrow at his words.

"I won't hesitate to slap you again if you keep acting this idiotic. The look I gave you was a piercing one, not an accusing one. I was trying to understand what was going on inside your head. And I still am, quite frankly. Now look at me, Eragon. Look at me." He slowly shifts his eyes to face mine.

"You're past caught up with you today and that's that. You didn't stab Durza or fatally wound him. You're not some criminal who goes around stabbing people either, so quit acting like-"

"I almost was a criminal once though." he interjects, his voice deathly quiet. "That's what came back to haunt me tonight."

"What happened?" I ask just as quietly, my eyes continuing to search his.

"You don't want to know. I'm not saying that to 'protect you' or some shit; I'm saying that because you really don't want to know. It was grim and it was bloody… and it changed something in me that day."

With that, he gently removes my hands resting on his cheek and wrist before wrapping my arm around his shoulder for support. "Come on, I'll drop you off at your place. I'm about ready to pass out from exhaustion myself. Need some sleep." he says in a lighter tone, helping me limp towards his GT-R.

I can't help but observe him in a new light, curiosity burning through me. I know he wouldn't want my pity - neither would I in his situation - but picturing his dejected visage from before only brings that emotion up more than ever.

The car journey is silent once again but for different reasons. Instead of anger suffocating the air, it's deep thought and reflection upon tonight doing so instead.

As Eragon pulls the car up next to the front door of my house, I turn to him.

"Eragon, as much as you may think you're some horrible, disgusting human being for whatever happened that day in your past… you're not. And don't you dare to presume any of us would either. You can talk to us about this and we will not judge you. Why? Because we're your friends and I- we care about you." I ignore my slight stutter even though I can feel my cheeks turning red slightly. "So drop the tough man act, okay?" I finish softly, with a small smile.

He's quiet for a few seconds before looking at my sincerely.

"That means a lot to me, thanks Arya."

"No need to thank me, I'm just telling you the truth as it is."

"Of course, omniscient one." he replies with a small chuckle, his mood suddenly swinging back to a slightly more cheerful one.

"And sarcastic Eragon is back." I elbow him lightly while shaking my head in exasperation.

"Thank you! I'll be here all night."

"Just help me to the front door, before I'm no longer able to resist the urge to apply my fist to your face idiot."

"As if you could hit me; I'm too much of a ninja for that to happen."

"Well it's already happened tonight Mr. 'Ninja', unless you've forgotten already?" He grumbles something in response, while I just wave it off and fail to fight the grin that appears on my face.

We make it to the pillars near the front of my house and, as I head up the few stone stairs before the door, I turn around and grab his arm lightly. Looking at me in confusion, he cocks his head to one side slightly.

"In any case, I should be the one thanking you for getting me out of that situation tonight. So… thanks." I then lean down - as he's still on ground level - and kiss his jaw lightly, pulling back and heading inside.

"Anytime." he replies quietly, after staring at me for a few seconds. I flash him one last smile and close the door behind me. One thought suddenly pops into my mind as I'm removing my jacket and shoes though, making me hesitate.

'Why did that feel like the most normal thing in the world? What's changed between us?'


Inevitably, the next day, Eragon and I are subjected to a barrage of questions from the others during lunchbreak.

"So what happened?"

"How did you get that bruise and sprained ankle?"

"Why's Eragon wincing every time he sits down and gets up?"

"Did you manage to find anything-"

"Guys, chill! Jesus effin' Christ. Give us a chance to breathe." shouts Eragon over them, raising his hands and lowering them in a calming motion. "All in due time."

"Well come on then, spill the beans." states Murtagh impatiently, watching us both intently.

"Long story short: we followed Durza to a shady looking warehouse, snuck inside, snapped a few pics of some dodgy stuff and snuck back out. The only, ah, slight hitch was running into a couple of his goons guarding the drugs. That's where we both got our injuries from, right Arya?" explains Eragon, giving me a 'we're-sticking-to-this-story-ok' look.

"That sums it up quite well. They managed to surprise us which is why Eragon got that cut on his stomach and I got bruised from a weighty punch." I reply, nodding at him.

"Show us the pictures then!" says Saphira, holding out her hand expectantly.

"Alright, alright. Somebody's pushy, sheesh." he grumbles, unlocking his phone and handing it over to her.

"These… aren't half-bad at all. I'm impressed Eragon, you didn't fuck this up."

"Oh, thanks- wait, what the hell do you mean 'I didn't fuck this up'?!" growls Eragon, narrowing his eyes at Saphira who cheekily grins back.

"I'm kidding you moron. In all seriousness, these should get the job done. We've got photos of Durza's car on site and the drugs being stored there; the police have no choice but to take notice of this." remarks Saphira, the others all nodding and making noises of agreement as they scroll through the photos.

"You know what? I ain't buying this gag about you two being surprised by some of Durza's boys." says Murtagh, abruptly. "How could you 'sprain your ankle' while fighting, Arya? And how could you be surprised enough to let a knife touch you, Eragon? Moreover, how could 'a couple' of guys hurt you both this much?" he continues incredulously, gesturing at our multitude of injuries. "You're both hiding something. What really happened?"

"Fine, fine. You're right." replies Eragon, after a few second of silence. My eyes shoot to his face as I try to contain the alarm racing through my mind. "It wasn't just a couple of his goons; it was six of them. I just didn't want you all to get too worried and I wanted to save us the lecture about being careful. Blah, blah, blah. You get what I'm saying."

This leads to another volley of questions from not only Saphira but the rest as well, concerning how we managed to fight them off, how they injured us, how Durza didn't hear all the commotion and so on. Murtagh, however, still eyes us both dubiously; he isn't buying the story at all. One glance at Eragon's expression confirms my suspicions.

Suddenly, the bell rings signifying the end of lunchbreak and the start of the next class. As we being walking towards our respective classrooms, Eragon appears beside me and starts talking quietly to me.

"You do realise we've even now, right?"

"What?" I reply, a few seconds after registering his words.

"We're even."

"Since when did you owe me?"

"When we first met, remember? When I crashed that Skyline and you got me safely away from the cops, as well as patching me up." I laugh softly, recalling that night from two or so months ago.

"That's right. I guess your debt is repaid."

"You're damn right it is." he replies, smirking at me to which I respond similarly. It slowly fades though, as the conversation brings back what happened yesterday evening.

'What happened back then, Eragon? What happened that was so grim and bloody that it made you nearly grievously wound or, worse yet, almost kill a man?'

Like it or not, I was going to pry this information out of him somehow.

Aaaaand cut. Next chapter will feature some racing since there hasn't been any for a while. There'll also be some interesting Murtagh and Eragon character developments, not to mention Morzan being in a sticky situation with this drug scenario becoming more and more incriminating for him. As always, reviews are much appreciated!