BloodBorne Ch. 03bypurefire©
"Seen enough?" Xan relaxed her posture to stare at a very stunned Liam. His blue eyes were wide with shock as they traveled up and down the length of her body. She wasn't a shy woman, having shared a bedroom and bathroom with Pogue for many years, but the intensity of Liam's stare made her anxious. A slow churning in her stomach made her cross her arms over her chest as she narrowed her eyes. As evidence by the two bags in his hands, he'd come to deliver the clothing left in his car. They hung limply at his sides as he continued to stare dumbly. Xan had to take control of the situation; she walked forward and tried to take the bags from him. His grip didn't lessen so she tugged harder to rip the bags from his steely grasp. Still, he did not let go. "Give me the fucking bags, Caspar."
"Why didn't you tell us what you are?" Liam hadn't meant to direct the question to her breasts, but he couldn't help himself. They were just so... nice. Pert, firm, and covered with creamy bronzed skin. Holy fuck, she was hot. No wonder he thought she was a boy; though she barely had any womanly curves, Xan's body was tight and toned and corded with sexy feminine muscles developed from her time demon fighting. The horrible scars on her skin didn't distract from her appeal; if anything, those scars enhanced the look of her body. He liked the way her muscles flexed and moved when she tried to take her bags from him. Strange pulses of heat coursed through his body and settled uncomfortably in the pit of his stomach. "What the fuck?"
Xan steeled her feet on the ground as she used all of her strength to pull the bags from Liam's hands. It took two tugs, but she managed to take them from him. "Figured you already knew considering I'm Esmali." When Liam only continued to stare at her, this time curiously as he seemed to consider her words, she asked, "What, Scarface never told you that only females are Esmali?" When he only shook his head, she rolled her eyes heavenward. "Figures. Why would a man want to point out another reason why you need us more than we need you? Estúpido." She turned to place the bags on the bed and quickly opened hers to find something to wear. The door closed, and she looked over to find Liam leaning against it. He wasn't leaving. Perfect. Xan steeled herself against the shiver that went down her spine at that ice blue stare of his. To distract herself, she turned back to her bag and sifted through until she found underwear; simple black panties and a sports bra that held her down adequately. As she pulled up her panties, she said, "What does my gender have to do with anything, anyway? You're helping me and my sister. Great. Thanks. We'll repay you one day." She glanced over in time to watch his eyebrow rise at her tirade before she slipped into the sports bra. "But I fail to see what my being female has to do with anything." Xan glanced over at him once more and allowed herself to give him a thorough once over. Her heart rate accelerated the second her eyes skimmed his hips. "Based on the raging hard-on trying to bust through your cargos right now, maybe it's a good thing I kept my mouth shut." The fact that the normally enraged man remained silent was not lost on Xan. Liam seemed content to watch her dress, even though his expression continued to dance from curiosity to disbelief. After a few minutes of unbearable silence, Xan allowed herself to become livid. "Why don't you get the fuck out and share the great news?"
The command was enough to snap Liam out of his trance. He remained silent as he left the room and headed back downstairs. Xan was a woman. A fucking female. As if the piece of shit wasn't enough trouble... She just had to be incredibly enticing, didn't she? Now that he'd seen her, he understood a lot more about her. She didn't look like a young boy on the verge of manhood; her slightly androgynous looks seemed more feminine now that he'd seen her without the armor of men's clothing. "Holy fuck," Liam muttered. He couldn't get the image of her naked body out of his mind. While he understood her reasons, he couldn't seem to agree with her decision to mask her appearance. She was fucking gorgeous!
No, he wasn't supposed to think of her like this. Xan was a piece of shit little bastard who didn't know the meaning of respect. She needed help with Sherlaine and after that, both she and her sister would be gone. There was no use in dwelling on the drops of water glistening in the light as they coated-
"Son of a fucking bitch!" Liam ran down the stairs and into the kitchen where he knew his brothers waited. Alexis sat at the center island, his main focus the morning news. Draco stood in front of the stove scrambling eggs -- no doubt for their guests. Euan, who chose to appear in avian form, sat perched on top of the refrigerator. "Why in the fuck didn't you tell me?" Liam shouted at Alexis.
"Tell you what?" Draco asked causally. As he was used to Liam's outbursts, he felt no need to panic.
Liam paid no mind to Draco's question and instead focused his anger on his silent brother. "I fucking walked in on her naked standing there like nothing was wrong, telling me that you already know."
"Wait, you walked in on Xion naked?" Draco asked.
"No, her sister." Liam glanced at Draco and Euan as they glanced at each other in shock.
"You mean Xan? Xan's a chick?"
Liam nodded in answer to Draco's question.
Draco calmly put down the spatula he used to scramble the eggs before bowing his head in silence for a moment. "Thank God, I'm not gay."
"Oh, for fuck's sake!"
"Getting pissy isn't going to change the situation," Alexis murmured. As he calmly turned off the television, he opted to keep from looking at Liam to spare himself Liam's angry glare.
"I do not get pissy."
Alexis said nothing to the comment as he stared toward the entryway. "Xion's in the solarium so keep it down."
"Why didn't you tell us she was female?"
"Why am I always the one who gets yelled at?"
"Because you know all of this shit and you don't say anything." Liam planted his hands on his hips, fully ready to engage in battle. "You always wait until the last possible moment-"
"In all fairness, bro," Draco interrupted, "The guy speaks about as often as you're in a good mood."
"You still should have fucking said something," Liam directed to Alexis.
"Euan knew," was Alexis' simple reply.
Everyone in the room turned to look at Euan, who seemed unconcerned that the blame had been shifted to him. He looked at his brothers and blinked once before turning his back to them.
"Maybe if the rest of you kept up with your ancient history instead of playing video games and chasing women around, you would have known that Xan was a woman too."
"He's still on that?" Xan slowly shook her head as she walked into the kitchen. The way Liam turned to look at her made her stomach churn again, but she ignored the feeling. "What's for breakfast?" She asked Draco. His stare she could deal with; it was more playful and flirty and not as intense as his brother's. This was the first time she'd been in the kitchen for more than a few moments, and now that she had the time to study it, she wasn't very surprised by what she saw. Rich chestnut wood cupboards were accented by black marble countertops. Stainless steel appliances covered a small percentage of the countertops, but somehow enhanced the sophistication of the room. The floors were marble as well, and shone brightly underneath the fluorescent ceiling lights. There was a beautiful center island covered with bowls of fruit and a tiny wilting flower arrangement that was no doubt the work of a woman no longer in residence. Alexis seemed unaffected by it, even though he sat on one of the tall stools placed in front of the island.
"Scrambled eggs," Draco replied. Now that he knew that Xan was female, it was easier to pinpoint her more feminine facial features. "Xion said that you make it for her every morning."
"Only because she hates cereal." She moved to the center island and sat down next to Alexis who nodded a greeting to her. "What's up?" she asked him.
"Why pretend to be a male?" Draco asked as he transferred the eggs to a plate.
"Don't have to worry about fighting off any rapists. Dymos' aren't exactly female friendly."
"No worries here. I am extremely female friendly."
"Don't fucking think about it," Liam warned. He ignored Draco's shocked expression as he focused his attention on Xan. He didn't like the thought of anyone flirting with her. That didn't mean he wanted to; he simply didn't like watching his brother throw himself at her. "Concentrate on breakfast, Gordon Ramsey."
"Jeez, he's just having a polite conversation," Xan defended, "I know the concept is foreign to you, but you don't have to be this bad of an asshole."
"Don't worry about me, sugar," Draco placated, "I'm more than used to Liam's attitude."
"That doesn't mean that he should give you shit because your mother raised you right." There was a sudden tension in the room that made her nervous. The bulk of it came from Liam and the second she saw the pained expression on his face, she knew that she'd said the wrong thing. It almost looked as if he wanted to throttle her, but at the same time, he looked incredibly sad. Alexis and Draco's obvious removal from the conversation didn't make the situation any easier. Rather than try to remedy the situation, Xan simply stood up and walked out of the room.
"Xan's in the solarium," Draco called after her.
Xan raised a hand in thanks as she made the right turn that took her to the solarium. She chose not to dwell on the awkwardness of what happened in the kitchen, but it backfired on her; her thoughts went back to her reveal as a female and the strange reaction she had to Liam. She would never admit it to anyone, but she was wildly attracted to the asshole. He had a strong personality, the kind that challenged her and made her hate him. He wasn't the most gorgeous man on the planet, but there was something about the way he looked at her that knocked her off center. None of the other brothers had that affect on her. Not even Pogue, with his wild and dark looks, made her stomach churn. "So not good," she muttered.
"What's not good?"
Xan shook herself out of her thoughts as she walked into the solarium. She'd forgotten about Xion's exceptional hearing. "Nothing, kid." She sat down on the ground next to her sister, who seemed engrossed in her sketch of the person dominating her thoughts. She wasn't going to get a break from him today. "Why him?"
"I already drew everyone else."
Xan looked beyond her sister's small body to the row of sketches lying beside her. She was impressed by the portrait of Alexis sitting in the chair near the fireplace reading a book. He seemed very aware of Xion's presence in the sketch, but he remained in tune with the book in his hands. Xion had a very distinct way of drawing; the pattern of her strokes and smudges could have been mistaken for an advanced artist, but there was always a kink in her lines, a signature that set her apart from everyone else. "When did you do this?"
"When I woke up. Lexi says that I have a heavy hand but I have potential."
"He said that?"
Xion nodded as she said, "He showed me his drawings."
"Alexis can draw?"
Xan remained quiet as she looked at the other pictures her sister drew. Draco on the phone. A large cougar- Euan no doubt- sleeping near the base of the staircase. All of them extremely still, but full of life. She glanced at the portrait of Liam and felt her stomach churn hotly again as she looked at the intensity of his eyes. Even as a sketch, he was able to get to her. "Not bad, kid."
"What's not bad?" Liam stopped at the entryway when Xan shifted to look at him. He couldn't stop picturing her naked body. His hands itched as he looked at her, and he knew that if he didn't stop staring, something bad would happen.
"I am drawing your picture," Xion announced in a sing-song voice.
Shocked by the news, Liam walked forward to look at Xion's work. Sure enough, it was a picture of him sitting in front of the solarium window staring at what looked like the sunrise. That was no surprise; Liam was usually awake before sunrise and took solace in the calm of the solarium. He'd heard when Xion walked into the room, but he hadn't acknowledged her presence, hoping to have that moment alone before his brothers came downstairs. He wasn't aware that she'd taken the time to start her portrait of him; when he'd finally left his spot at the window, Alexis had taken his place at his chair and she'd focused her attention on him. What surprised him now was the fact that Xion drew him smiling. "Why am I smiling?"
"Because that's how the story goes."
"Xion makes up stories when she sketches to explain her visions," Xan explained.
Liam crouched next to Xion as he asked, "What's the story?"
"The sunrise makes you happy because no one has made you yell yet."
He almost laughed at the near accuracy of his temperament. Sunrise usually was the calmest part of his day because he was able to concentrate on the beauty of nature and not on the daily reminders he didn't want to face. "Is that right?"
"Yes," Xion responded as she lightly shaded her sketch, "You're not so mean in the morning."
Xan glanced at Liam and felt her brows rise at his surprised expression. She figured he was the type to have heard everything, especially considering his age. There had to have been a time when he wasn't such an infuriating asshole. "Well, you did a good job, babe," she praised. "You made him look good."
"You think I look good?" Liam asked.
"In the picture, you do," Xan replied as she brought her attention back to Xion's work.
He ignored the unspoken insult as he said, "But that picture is of me. By extension, you think I look good."
"Why are you fishing for a compliment?"
He had no idea, but he did like the fact that she'd seen though his nonsense. "Why do you care?" The warning glint in her eyes made him want to smile; her temper was even worse than his. While he hated it and still wanted to choke her when she let her temper flare, he could only appreciate the fact that she had no problem standing up to him. Even when he thought that she was a boy, he commended that trait about her.
"Why do you?" Xan didn't care that he wanted her to compliment him. What she did care about was the fat that her stomach was in knots. Did he have to sit so close to her? It was as if he knew the effect he had on her. And it wasn't just this morning; from the moment she'd first laid eyes on him at the Dymos, standing almost separated from the crowd, she'd been affected by him. Hell, he'd almost cost her the fight; she'd been distracted by his presence and had Pogue not focused her...
Xan frowned as she fought the pain that came with her friend's memory. He didn't deserve to die so young. He wasn't supposed to die at all. Her best friend was gone.
"You have to eat something."
Xan shook herself out of her thoughts and brought her attention to Liam. His focus was Xion, who seemed unwilling to move from her spot on the floor. Xan sympathized; it was always a battle to pull the child from her drawings once she got started. "How much longer until you finish?"
"I don't know; I don't feel finished."
Which meant that she'd be at it all day. Xion refused to finish a sketch until she felt there was nothing left to perfect. She'd once gone a full day without eating because she refused to break her concentration. "I'm giving you another hour before I take all of this away."
"She needs to eat now," Liam argued. It wasn't healthy for a child to starve herself for the sake of a stupid picture. "You can't make allowances."
"Don't tell me how to raise my sister." If there was one thing Xan hated with a passion, it was being criticized about the way she cared for Xion. Her methods weren't conventional, but her sister was always well fed, had clothes on her back, remained polite and soft spoken, and always excelled in school. Xion knew that she was loved and protected. She didn't want for anything. "You don't know shit about-"
"I know that letting her choose when she eats is a slippery slope to other shoddy decisions."
"Shoddy?" Xan quickly gained her feet for the sheer pleasure of having the advantage of height. "Shoddy? This coming from the little asshole that could. Don't sit there and tell me how to care for my sister. Concentrate on your own family."
He didn't like her tone at all. Liam made sure to gain his feet before speaking. "You really have a lot of fucking nerve, talking to me like that. Ever heard of not biting the fucking hand that feeds your dumb ass?"
"How many goddamned times do I have to tell you to keep your language clean in front of her?" Xan glanced at her sister and was pleased to see that she was too engrossed in her sketch to care about what was happening. One small blessing that came with her obsessions. "And as for your stupid need to remind me that we are under your protection, don't bother. We may be up shit's creek, but Xion and I can take care of ourselves."
"You've been doing so well thus far."
"You know what? Que te jodan."
He was getting very annoyed with the Spanish insults. "Is that what you said to the Magori every time he tried to watch your back?"
"Hijo de puta!" Xan shouted. Rage got the best of her and she wasn't able to stop herself from walking to him to get in his face. "You have no right to bring him up! You knew nothing about us! Don't think for a second-"
"Oh, but I do think," Liam said in a low, menacing tone. He didn't like the way she talked about the friend, the way she referred to them as "us", as if they were some kind of item. More than that, he didn't like the fact that he cared so much. He was supposed to regard her as nothing more than a pain in the ass that he had to protect. "You put your stupid need for an adrenaline rush over the welfare of your sister and your friend. And that you haven't opened your eyes and gotten your shit together when it comes to her..." Liam looked over at Xion and felt his stomach knot uncomfortably at the terrified look in her young eyes. Her face was flushed with anxiety and her gaze darted from him to her sister. Practicality urged him to end the argument, but pride and anger got the best of him. "It only tells me that the best thing you could ever do is give the kid up to child protective services." Liam knew the second the words escaped his mouth that he shouldn't have said that. Pure uncontrollable rage contorted Xan's face; her olive-toned skin became red and blotted and her eyes blazed with obvious bloodlust. Beneath the rage was pain, a pain that left him with a bad taste in his mouth. He'd hurt her, possibly more than he'd ever hurt anyone. And there was nothing he could say to take it back.
At least she knew what he really thought about her. Lying, cheating unfit guardian to a slowly damaged and possibly anorexic child. Good; now she knew that the stupid feelings forming inside her were nothing more than female intuition. He was an asshole and a first class son of a bitch. Nothing was going to change that. "It's almost hilarious, how much of a judgmental prick you are." She ignored the surprised look that crossed his face as she turned on her heels to leave. It was then that she noticed Alexis and Draco standing in the entryway, observing the incident before them. She should have turned to check on Xion, as she did not fare well with raised voices, but Xan knew that she'd let her emotions get the best of her if she did. She couldn't afford to show weakness. Not now. With her chin held high, Xan strode from the room, grateful that Alexis and Draco parted to allow her room to pass.
"Liam, dude," Draco said with a shake of his head, "you need to stop doing that."