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Powerless (The Powerless Trilogy): Chapter 38

Kai

“You’re terrible at this game.”

Kitt’s responds with a loud laugh that is only cut off when he brings the flask to his lips and takes a sip. After swallowing, he sputters, “The game is to drink every time Jax steps on Andy’s toes. How can I be terrible at that?”

I take in my brother’s flushed cheeks and messy hair, knowing I likely look the same. We’ve been sitting on the grass and watching guests spin across the colorful carpets under the starry sky for nearly an hour now. The rough bark of the tree I’m leaning against digs into my back now that I’ve discarded my suitcoat, wearing only my stained button-down.

Kitt gives me a look, still patiently waiting for an answer to his question. And I don’t hesitate to give him one. “You’re terrible at it because you keep missing your mouth.”

We’re both laughing when Kitt wipes at the whiskey dripping down his chin. It seems we haven’t outgrown our tradition of drinking during these balls, and I’m happy to see that some things never change.

“Wait for it…” Kitt murmurs, his eyes trained on Andy and Jax dancing with the other couples. Jax stumbles with a laugh, his long legs getting tangled in the steps before his foot lands on top of Andy’s. “And there it is. He never disappoints.”

“Cheers,” I sigh, grabbing the flask from him to take a sip that burns my throat.

Kitt watches me. “Are you sure you should keep drinking when you have a Trial tomorrow?”

“Have a little faith in your Enforcer, Brother. I’ve faced worse things than a hangover.”

When he doesn’t respond, I follow his gaze, finding it pinned on Father and Mother swaying slowly.

“This is the happiest I’ve seen him in…well, years,” Kitt says quietly, all traces of humor gone from his voice. I nod in agreement, watching the king smile at his queen in the way he’s only ever done for her. He never fails to give her the affection he never gave to us. To me.

With that thought in mind, I’m taking another swig from the flask.

“Maybe once the Resistance is taken care of, he’ll be a happier man,” Kitt adds with a sloppy shrug. “Speaking of which,” he tears his eyes from the dancers to look at me, “did you get any information out of the Silencer?”

“Killed him,” I say with an equally sloppy shrug.

He isn’t the slightest bit fazed by this. “Is that a no, then?”

I sigh. “Yes, that’s a no.”

“Hmm.” Kitt frowns. “What about the Ordinary near Loot you were sent to find? Did you get any information then?”

The little girl’s face flashes in my mind, her red hair bright like the fire in her eyes. “The Ordinary was a child. I doubt she knew anything about the Resistance.”

We are silent for a moment before Kitt clears his throat. “How young?”

“Too young.”

He nods slowly. “So, you didn’t go through with it?”

I stiffen slightly. Kitt and I never talk about this. Never talk about the time he found me in the stables, covered in blood and vomiting after one of my first missions into the city to kill an Ordinary. I was a boy, only fourteen when I took the life of a child not much younger than I was. And I vowed to never do it again.

The king has sent me on countless missions since, all a part of my training. Kitt may be the one trapped in the palace, but I have never known freedom from killing. Never known choice. So, I steal back the one stitch of sanity I am able by banishing Ordinary children with their families.

Even if I am still condemning them to death.

“No, I didn’t go through with it,” I answer slowly, only trusting my brother with the weight of those words. It took him years of putting pieces together before he came to my room to drink one night, confronting me when I could no longer see or think straight.

Destruction is my duty, and the king has made me grow numb to killing. But for the children, I force myself to feel.

Even monsters can have morals.

I heave a sigh, bringing the flask to my lips. “I’m not drunk enough to talk about this right now.”

“Neither am I.” Kitt snatches the flask from my hand with a grin before his eyes drop to the stain on my shirt as if noticing it for the first time. “What the hell happened to you?”

“Paedyn.” I sigh again. “Paedyn happened to me.”

Kitt chuckles, but the sound is strained. “She certainly is…something.”

“You have such a way with words, Kitty.”

He shakes his head and runs a hand over his face. “I don’t even have words to describe her but, Plagues, does she never fail to have words for me.”

My shoulders stiffen, but I force myself to sound relaxed. “Does she?”

He huffs out a laugh. “Yeah. She’s the only person who doesn’t tell me what I want to hear, isn’t afraid to speak her mind. And quite often, might I add.”

“Would you like me to call you out on your shit more often, Brother?” I ask casually. “Is that what I’m hearing?”

He gives me a lazy shove, ignoring my comment. “She’s got this sort of fire. Even called me an ass the other day.”

My lips twitch despite the tension coursing through me. “Sounds about right.”

“It’s strange,” he says quietly, his eyes scanning the crowded garden. “I haven’t known her for long, and yet, I find myself wanting to know her for longer.”

Silence stretches between us, his words hanging in the air.

“Maybe I was wrong,” I say stiffly. “Perhaps you do have a way with words.”

He turns towards me with a crooked grin. “And what do you think about her, hmm?”

My eyes drop to the stain on my shirt. I smell of wine and whiskey and the faintest hint of lavender that always clings to Paedyn. And with the way she clung to me tonight, the sweet scent of her has seeped into my clothing to distract me.

What do I think of her?

When do I not think of her?

I grab the flask from Kitt’s fingers and repeat the same words I had earlier. “I’m not drunk enough to talk about this right now.”

Lies.

Even sober she has my head spinning. I don’t need to be drunk to admit what she’s done to me, how she’s made me feel.

The swishing of skirts and chatter of excitement has me looking up. I watch as the guests begin to head out of the gardens and towards the training grounds. I throw Kitt a confused glance, to which he responds, “I have no idea.”

We stand, only slightly unsteady on our feet, and follow the crowd. Before we’ve even made it to the training yard lit with torches, I spot rising platforms surrounding a large dirt ring where guests begin taking seats.

Tealah steps out into the middle of the ring and spins in a circle, smiling at the guests surrounding her. “How fun is this! Not only did we get a ball, but we also get a brawl!”

I was certainly not planning on fighting tonight.

The crowd cheers and claps as they look around, likely searching for the contestants. And I’m doing the same. There’s no sign of the girls, only Jax, Braxton, and Ace on the opposite side.

I run a hand through my hair, suddenly dizzy from the alcohol and all the powers pressing down on me. The flask grows sweaty in my hand and I’m wishing I hadn’t drunk so much of it even as I contemplate downing the rest. When I move to head over by the contestants, a hand grasps my arm.

“Kai.” I turn to find Kitt’s eyes pinned on me. “In case I don’t see you before tomorrow…”

“I know,” I say, not needing to hear the three words to know that he means them. “I know.”

“Be careful,” he says with the hint of a smile. “And don’t you dare die.”

“Don’t worry. You won’t be able to get rid of me that easily, Kitty.”


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