WIP Wednesdays | Bloody, Sweaty, Teary Excerpt #3 | 6/8/2022

Just realized that I’ve never posted any scenes involving Kry’s love interest and had to fix that. Context to this is that Salina is a reserved, elegant gym rat who fights using water and has just asked Kry for a friendly spar. He has a big dumb crush on her and she has a big dumb crush on him and they are both bad communicators.

Warning for mentions of self-harm.

“I’d say I’d be gentle, but I don’t want to make a promise I can’t keep,” Kry says, grinning darkly.

Salina’s lips quirk and he realizes it might be the closest thing to her smiling he’s ever seen. “How considerate.”

Her expression slackens and she shuts her eyes. She takes a breath, then abrupt tears slide from between the closed lids. Kry’s grin drops and he takes a half-step back. It never ceases to startle him when people cry on command to make sacrifices. He could never quite pull it off as a kid, always needing to force himself, concentrating with all his might on things that made him upset for minutes on end. Otherwise he would pinch himself so hard he might as well have just drawn blood. As a teen it got easier between hormones and his increasing misery. Now, though, he can’t remember the last time he cried. He doesn’t plan on ever doing it again.

The rush of seawater she can influence in exchange swirls around her arm and he remembers too late that he should make an exchange of his own. Slicing through the skin on one of his forearms with his teeth is practically habit, but he has to slow down long enough to get a grip on his emotions. It will affect the lava, after all, from its texture to its heat.

He settles on the strongest thing he’s feeling at the moment: the part of him that anticipates fighting her, shot through with attraction. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s been attracted to an opponent and it won’t be the last. But this is different than usual. She makes him hot and cold both at once, incites a tightening in his chest. And when she looks at him with those eyes, dark as the ocean on a moonless night,  he dares to hope she might feel the same.

It’s hopeless, of course. She’s gorgeous and he’s… him. But it’s nice to imagine.

Thanks to his delay, she strikes the first blow, washing away most of the blood he’d drawn and necessitating biting himself again before the lava pours down his wrist.

As expected, he feels like a bear chasing after a mouse. Huge and powerful but entirely too clumsy to finesse his way into catching something small and fast with ease. He surprises himself with that sudden ferocity as he lashes out, misses. Maybe it’s the heat of the day combined with the lava’s boiling intensity. With Terro, he tends to hold back. Other, more experienced earth and water users are usually the targets of the full extent of his wrath. The god’s water will protect them from burns, but they’ll still feel the heat, the promise of what could happen if their devotion runs out.

Salina stays just as cool and aloof as usual. Every motion she makes seems practiced and prepared in advance of dodging him, as though she can anticipate anything he has up his sleeve. She gets in a swift jab here and there, blinding him with water, shoving liquid up his nose and down his throat to choke him, and otherwise making it very inconvenient for him to actually get in an attack of his own.

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