I gingerly stuck a finger into my mouth and tapped a top molar. Pain shot up my face and I winced. “Aaaaargghhhh…” I moaned. Beside me, Johnny chuckled, but clutched his jaw in pain as well. I laughed back painfully, pressing a hand to my cheek in an attempt to pressurize the pain away. “Piss off,” he joked. “I tried. You wouldn’t let me,” I tried to say without closing my mouth.

“You were gonna kill that shitbag,” he stated. “How? I’m not you,” I retorted, noting his bestial supremacy. How I wished I had his claws alone. That would definitely give me the upper hand in dealing with perverts like that sicko I pummeled. “You’re resourceful,” he commented. I flashed him a smile. He looked at me and grimaced, laughing even harder despite his pain. “What?” I scowled. He gestured to the bin we were using to clean up, hoping the water’s reflection would show me. I glanced in to see my mouth bloodied, my teeth stained with red. My smile must have looked deranged and disgusting, like someone ate particularly moist chocolate cake with extra fudge. “Oh god,” I exclaimed, both hands flying up to cover my mouth. Johnny burst out laughing, doubling up in pain. I gargled a mouthful of water, my eyes screwing shut as the liquid met a few cuts and tender spots. I spat out red water and a few gobs of blood out, lamenting the fact that I can’t eat solid food for the next few days.

“What the hell happened?” Ken crossly called out from behind us. I gestured to Johnny, hoping he would have some words for what did go down. “Some of the newcomers got touchy. Lucky for us I got there before she killed any of them,” he shrugged. Ken crossed his arms. “I’m surprised you didn’t try to kill them yourself,” he regarded Johnny. Johnny grinned. “I would’ve, if she kept out of the way,” he shot me a withering look which I responded to smugly. “But she just had to solve things on her own and elbow you in the face, huh,” Ken remarked, a hand automatically coming up to rub his nose. Guess he still hasn’t forgiven me for breaking it when I left. I tried to smile, but my face hurt too much. ┬áKen cleared his throat. “Sorry bout the newbies,” I said. He exhaled. “It’s okay. I think they got the message to keep their hands to themselves and stay away,” he shook his head. “Go see Marlo. She might have some herbs or something that’ll help with… all that,” he gestured to me and Johnny’s faces. I waved Ken off and he returned to camp.

“You would’ve killed them?” I asked Johnny after a while. “When I got you out of sight,” he responded, not skipping a beat. I looked away from him, incredibly guilt-tripped. So his insistence that I walk away was so he could deal with them, his way. But I had assumed he just wanted to keep me quiet and not blow up the whole thing, so I turned on him instead, physically. But he could’ve told me, damn it, instead of simply taking an elbow to the jaw trying to pin me down. I stepped on his foot, intending it as playful banter. He withdrew and nudged me so hard I fell off the log we were sitting on. I glared at him with a thoroughly fed-up face and he guffawed.

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