Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Fifty Nine

Chapter Fifty Nine

Iman drew in a deep breath, trying to steady her nerves. Adam was healed. He knew it and so did she. Soon, there would be nothing to stop him from diving back into the muck, from filling his days with even more blood and danger.

She couldn’t bear the thought of having to go through it again. Iman wasn’t stupid – she knew that Adam was skilled. But she had seen him, bruised and bloody and torn, and she knew far more intimately that he wasn’t invincible. He could break, could bleed, could die.

The thought was abhorrent.

But how could she convince him not to go back? They’d fought so hard over him just waiting a few weeks, Iman thought miserably. And even then, the only reason Adam hadn’t continued to insist on risking his neck had been that there was no one left for him to risk it with.

Iman buried her face in her hands and groaned, whispering a quick prayer while she kneaded her temples. She’d been doing that so often it had become a little habit whenever she became overwhelmed. Whether or not it made a difference was another debate entirely but the soft, whispered requests never failed to make her feel better, if only a little.

The strangeness of it struck her and Iman shook her head, fighting a bizarre urge to laugh. She’d never prayed for herself. Not because she hadn’t believed that there was a God – she’d never doubted that – but because she’d been afraid. She’d always thought of herself and her own problems as too insignificant to beg for help with, especially considering the fact that she rarely ever fulfilled any kind of religious obligation.

But for her grandfather, for Adam… For them, she did it. She’d beg and plead and try absolutely anything she could. She just couldn’t imagine doing otherwise.

Adam came up behind her, his arms snaking around her waist. “Hi,” he whispered, kissing her forehead. “Why are you up so early?”

Iman covered his arms with her own. “Hi,” she returned his greeting, spinning around and rising on the tips of her toes to bestow her own kiss. “I couldn’t sleep.”

Adam drew back, sobering. “Nightmares?”

No, nothing like that. I just had some stuff to think about.”

Do you want to talk about it?” Adam offered, wandering over to the fridge.

After we eat,” Iman decided. If she even could eat with the knot her insides seemed to have twisted themselves into.

Alright,” Adam nodded agreeably. “Am I cooking?”

Please,” Iman agreed gratefully, thinking longingly of a nice, hot shower.

She looked back at Adam, silently watching the way he moved around the kitchen for a moment, Please let him agree. He felt her eyes on him and turned his head, offering her a quick smile. Please.

Half an hour later, as she sat with a still half-full plate in front of her, Iman knew that she could put it off no longer. Adam had been watching her push her breakfast around with his mouth turned down and his eyebrows scrunched together. He’d already asked her twice if something was wrong with the food and he seemed ready to do so a third time.

Iman pushed her plate away.

We need to talk,” she began.

Adam gave her his full attention, staring unwaveringly into her eyes.

The carefully prepared speech she’d crafted in her head deserted her and Iman scrambled for words. Finally, she blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “Are you still going to kill people?”

What?

Adam stared at his wife. Iman looked ready to bolt.

She’d been distant for the past few days and he hadn’t known what to make of it. Eventually, he’d decided to wait until she was ready to talk to him before doing anything.

Well, now she had. And he had no idea what to say.

Probably,” he admitted. What else was there for him to do?

Iman’s face fell. “Oh,” she mumbled. “You are.” Her eyes turned dull and Adam wanted to kick himself.

I don’t really know how to do anything else,” he reminded her helplessly. “Why are you worrying about this now anyway? I don’t have a job lined up.”

You’re healed now.” Even her voice was dull and Adam scrambled to find something to cheer her.

Yes,” he agreed. “I am. But I’m not going anywhere right now, Iman.” He squirmed uncomfortably. “I’m not… Your grandfather runs things differently. I wouldn’t be going up against anyone innocent.”

That’s not what I’m worried about,” Iman said immediately. “I’m worried about you.”

This again. Adam restrained the urge to sigh. “Iman, I’ll be fine. I – I’m actually pretty good at this.” His one call to fame – he could kill well.

Her eyes dropped to his newest scars, almost as though she could see through his shirt.

That was different.” Adam got to his feet and held out a hand to her. She took it and he pulled her up, hugging her close.

I was a mess. I’m still a bit of a mess but… I’m a lot better now. It turns out almost dying is good to help you see things clearly. I didn’t… I didn’t care much before, whether I lived or not.”

Iman’s head jerked up and she looked at him, her eyes filled with horror. He tightened his grip on her reflexively, hurrying to add. “I do now. This past month… Being with you again… It helped. A lot.”

Then why keep going? Why keep doing this?” she pulled away, stepping back to stare at him with big, hurt eyes.

What else is there? I have to do something,” he pointed out.

I’m scared, Adam. I’m scared that you’re going to leave again and you’re not going to come back. That’s a possibility every single time you leave and just the thought of it is driving me insane.” She gave him a pleading look, as though begging him to fix it.

You didn’t react like this before,” was all he could think to say. Even as the words left his mouth, he knew they were a mistake.

I didn’t know before. I didn’t know what seeing you like that would do to me. I didn’t even know that I loved you!” Her face crumpled and she rushed from the room.

Adam stood rooted to the spot, still frozen.

What had she just said?

By the time the shock had worn off, she was gone. The sneakers she favoured were gone too. Out for a run, he realized.

Adam snatched up his keys and phone and stuffed his feet into a pair of running shoes, intent on going after her. He knew Iman’s preferred route.

He’d just crossed the threshold when familiar hair caught his eye.

Kat?”

What was she doing here?

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