Chapter 10 - An Unexpected Kiss

It's hard to hurt someone once you understand them.

Veronica's POV

"Alright, let's see 'em," Vaas said, gesturing to my wounds. I had bled in the night due to all my tossing and turning. Even after a week, I was still having nightmares of tigers, Cheshire cats, blood, and death.

I was healing, luckily, and not dying of diseases. Vaas had made sure to help the wounds stay clean and the stitches in tact. My nightmares were not helping. Vaas had to wake me up at least once a night and we were both losing sleep over it. I knew he was annoyed by it but he was always there for me when I was panting or crying. He had even let me hug him.

Neither of us spoke as Vaas removed my bandages and cleaned the wounds with antiseptic. He made sure the stitches weren't ripped and made sure there wasn't any sign of infection. Once he was satisfied, he wrapped them back up and stood.

"When am I allowed out?" I asked. I asked that every day for the past week. Every time Vaas answered the same.

"When I say so. So stop fucking asking."

My patience was wearing thin and I hated staying cooped up in the hut all day. By now, I had watched all his movies and even gone through all the cabinets and drawers of the house.

"Here's some food. Eat up," he said, putting a bowl of fruit on the table. "I'll see you later tonight, serpiente." With that, he was gone.

It usually happened like that after our "almost kiss" moment. He was quick to leave in the morning and quick to sleep in the evening. There were no more gentle touches except when he changed my bandages which was frequently. It was almost awkward, if that was even the right word for it.

I sighed and plopped down on the couch, putting in the movie Bambi for about the third time. Fuerza had gotten even bigger it seemed yet she still enjoyed sitting on the couch with me. Her paws and head rested on my lap while the movie started up.

Not even five minutes into the movie, I got bored. I began counting Fuerza's spots and stopped when I got lost in the pattern of yellow and black.

Then, I thought of an idea. I should sneak out…

The punishment was something that didn't occur to me since I hadn't left the hut in what felt like weeks. Fresh air and sunlight was something that I was craving. Fuerza hopped off the couch when I stood and leaned against my legs as I scratched her side. Much like a dog, I thought.

"Andiamo, Fuerza. Mi annoio come cazzo," I said and she purred in response. More to my petting her rather than my words.

I pulled my boots on and found that the door was unlocked. Maybe Vaas and I were coming to some sort of level of trust. Fuerza followed me out the door and I took a deep breath of the jungle air. A smile curved at my lips and I sighed, I felt immediately better.

It didn't take me long to reach the busy life of the compound. Fuerza had slunk off into the jungle, most likely to hunt despite the generous amounts of meat Vaas brought her daily. She would be fat sooner or later even though Vaas claimed it was for her growth.

I wandered around the compound, some eyes curious and others not. I guessed most of them had seen me being brought into the compound all bloody and torn up. Carlos suddenly ran up to me, a broad smile on his cheeky face.

"Veronica! Back from the dead so soon?" he asked and I chuckled while shrugging. "How's the eye?"

"It's fine. Healing nicely. Vaas says I should be good within the month," I answered and he nodded.

"I'm surprised he let you out. He's been keeping you his secret in that hut of his," Carlos said and I gave him a nervous smile. "Ohh, someone snuck out, didn't they?" he smirked, "don't worry, my lips are sealed."

"Thanks, Carlos. You're the best."

With that, he backed away and went back to whatever he had been occupied by before. With another short walk, I found myself by the cages. A place which felt like a distant memory to me. I worked hard to keep Eden's blue eyes out of my head as I neared the prisoners.

"Veronica?"

I turned my head towards the voice and saw Drake. He was still alive. He looked healthier than the last time I saw him and I came to the conclusion that they were going to sell him which didn't affect me at all. I even felt a bit relieved that I wouldn't have to look at the face of the person who reminded me of my sister.

"Veronica, you're alive!" he exclaimed and even smiled at me. I walked closer even though I knew I had nothing to say to him. "I thought you were gone for good. That wetback brought you in and I thought… There was so much blood."

"Excuse me? What did you just call him?" My tone was deadly and my eyes were narrowed.

"I'll kill him for doing that to you."

I closed in on Drake, feeling powerful since he was tied up and behind bars. I crouched down, ignoring the ripping of my skin from the wounds.

"Has he done anything else to you? What has he done?"

"If you ever─"

I was cut off by Drake's lips crashing against mine.

Just as I was about to reach for his throat, a hand grabbed the back of mine and yanked me away. I grimaced at the tearing of my skin but was too caught up in my rage at Drake. It was Vaas who had grabbed me and he couldn't have looked more angry. I saw his fist twitching but he didn't raise it.

"What the fuck is this? Huh?" I sensed jealousy in his words. He couldn't hide it. "What the fuck is this bullshit?"

"Vaas, he was─"

"No follando excusas tiro de mí."

"Vaas─"

"Don't," he spat before turning to Drake. "I'm gonna sell you to someone very special, hermano. He likes little boys like you. Yeah? You'll be his new toy."

Drake's eyes filled with fear and even tears. All Vaas did was grab my bicep and drag me away. He hauled me back to his hut with the whole camp watching, not quite surprised that I had gotten myself into trouble once again.

"Vaas! Let go!" I yelled at him but he refused to listen. "Vaas!"

He just threw open the door to his hut and threw me inside. I stumbled and bumped into the side table by the couch. Papers that had been stacked neatly on it fluttered to the ground along with me. I cried out as my wounds ripped open even further and I saw blood spots seeping into my shirt.

"What the fuck are these?"

Vaas walked forward to pick up one of the papers and my eyes widened. I struggled to grab all the papers before he did.

"Nothing!" I called out a bit too loud but he just nudged me away with his foot to pick up a paper.

The papers were my sketches. Fuerza, birds, fruit, Bambi, the jungle. And he was holding one of himself. His eyes scanned the paper with confusion, his eyebrows were drawn together as he took in what was on the paper.

"Is this...me?"

I was silent, focusing on picking up the other sketches. I had found the paper and pencils stowed away in one of his kitchen drawers. With all the boredom, I figured I would pass the time with drawing.

"I'm sorry," was all I could say.

Vaas' expression changed to one of frustration or annoyance and he let go of the paper, letting it float to the ground. He turned to leave but I called after him.

"Wait! Please, what are you going to do with me?" I asked, desperation in my voice.

He didn't answer me and slammed the door behind him. I heard a lock click and then there was silence. I just picked up the sketch of Vaas and stared at the detail.

The lines of his jaw, his large nose, the scar that graced his face. The expression was one I had seen many times. It was filled with malice, playfulness, and mischief. His smirk hid secrets that I knew he would never tell.

My fingers caressed the pencil lines, careful not to smudge them. I sighed and began to gather up the other drawings.

Translations:

Serpiente: Spanish for "snake"

Andiamo, Fuerza. Mi annoio come cazzo: Italian for "let's go, Fuerza. I'm bored as fuck"

No follando excusas tiro de mí: Spanish for "don't fucking throw excuses at me"

Herman: Spanish for "brother"