trickle down

“Have you seen my brothers?” The rain is pouring outside, the day is still sticky hot but the humidity is now falling in almost sheets from the sky. Zora, fresh back from work has yet to find her brothers in their apartment so she goes up to the top apartment. It usually is where they end up or so she figures so it can’t really hurt.

However, at the door, Eoghan shakes his head. “Sorry Zora, we’ve just come back from a trip to the store ourselves, haven’t seen them since, have you checked in with Armin? They do come back with him after all, maybe he’ll be aware of where they’re at.”

She scrunches her nose at the idea of having to discuss the with the man and Eoghan rolls his eyes. “He’s not all that different from us, Zora and your brothers both adore him. He’s a good man.”

“He’s human.”

“Only partly. He’s like us, he might just not live to be as long as us.”

“Which means that now that my brothers care about him, they’ll have their hearts broken when he’ll die.”

“That’s not any time soon and this is hardly fair. He’s good to them and he’s been good and kind to all of us. He deserves kindness in return. You don’t have to have any affection for him, no one is asking you to, I’m just asking that you don’t treat him like a stranger. It took time for you to let us into your life but I know you can do the same with him.”

She only grunts in answer and turns to head back down the stairs.

“I tolerate him.” She mutters the words softly to herself as she stares at the door. That one door she has never cared to be anywhere near. She can’t understand why her brothers seem to care so much about this man. Mira she can somewhat grasp, his desire for more knowledge about the whole world is present and this man can give that to him but Agni is more the physical kind so it makes no sense.

Eventually, she does knock on the door and listens. It is quiet for a minute and she prepares to turn back when she hears the slight shuffled sounds of his steps. This is another reason for which she cares little for him. If he was like them he would not be like this. She could not think of anyone in their family who had been born crippled. He was wrong.

He did open the door and she kept herself from grimacing at the sight of him. Usually at the shared dinners they were apart at the table, she at one end on the side and he nearly at the other so they didn’t really have to share conversation.

“Have you seen my brothers?” Her words are slightly clipped and Armin only cants his head at her. He smiles and she knows that the smile is genuine but she still cannot bring herself to care at all for this man. He steps closer to his door and she backs away a step, the motion is instinctive.

“You might want to look out back, I think they ran down the hallway when we came in. I could barely make sure to get them to keep their umbrellas open and over their heads on the walk back.” His voice is soft and gentle, the words are kind and he smiles at her. She nods, a curt little tip of her head and he slowly closes his door again.

“Think you’re so good with them and think you’re so mighty, I bet.” The words, a mutter between her teeth, escape her as she walks down the hallway, shaking off the unease she feels from being around the cripple. Alexis and Eoghan are good souls, this much she can tell. Quentin is a little off putting and Yael is just flat out strange but they all get along and she knows that she should not bite the hand that feeds her so she plays nice. After all, this roof over her head is only possible because of Alexis and Eoghan’s kindness.

As she makes it to the glass and screen doors that lead to the back yard, she stops a moment to watch the rain as it trickles down the panes. Rain is good, the air had been so humid lately that sleeping turned out to be a chore more than anything else.

Finally she looks away from the trickle of waters themselves and out into the yards, there are her brothers.

“Mira, we’re going to get sick if we stay out in this rain too long!” Agni’s words are called out over the soft roar of the falling rain. It falls down hard and loud but not enough to be painful to be out with. He knows this is comforting, especially for his brother though he can appreciate the rain too. He vaguely recalls spending several hours in rain this hot before when he was younger and he closes his eyes, canting his head back up to the sky. He is soaked to the bones, his clothes sticking to him like second skin and he hardly cares.

Not far from him, Mira laughs, the sound is clear and bright. His arms are outstretched on either side of him as he slowly twirls on himself. “The only way we’ll get sick if by getting back inside and into the cold air of the apartment, the AC will make sure we’re both frozen solid!”

Agni knows his brother has a point. With how wet they both are, stepping back inside and to their apartment without cooling down a little beforehand is bound to turn into sickness. He knows he can dry them both up well enough before they head back up so he’s not all that worried. He just wants to enjoy the rain for what it is. He can’t recall last they had more than a passing cloud.

Zora watches her brothers for a moment more before she sighs and shakes her head. She turns back around and starts on her way back up the stairs to her apartment, as far away from the cripple as possible. She knows Eoghan means well but she doubts she’ll ever be able to be friendly with the man at all, it feels wrong to her in all senses of the word. He can’t help her keep her brothers safe so she can’t really be anything for him.

Almost an hour later, she hears her brothers’s steps as they come down the hallway towards their door. She hopes they’ve somehow dried up or at least will do so in a hasty way once they step inside. The AC has been turned off for the time being and the apartment is comfortably cool but not cold though it isn’t warm yet. Once she knows they are inside, dried and changed it will be turned back on so that the place is comfortable for sleep.

They chatter excitedly as they step into the apartment though they stop near dead at the sight of their sister standing in the hallway, her hands on her hips. “I looked everywhere for you. I even had to bother Eoghan to ask him if he knew where you two were at.”

Agni shrugs lightly, not overly surprised at his sister’s words. He only smiles at her lightly and slips an arm about his brother’s waist to get him to walk along so they can head towards their room.

“You two could have left a note!”

“Zora, we were just outside, we were enjoying the rain. You know Armin never leaves the library without us and he always makes sure we’re home safe and sound.”

“Armin has nothing to do with this family and you two should consider yourselves lucky I’m letting you work with this cripple at all!”

Mira, winces slightly at his sister’s words but only pushes forward a little more. All he wants is to get both himself and his brother out of her sight and away from her anger. He’s more than aware that she cares little for the half-demon but it doesn’t change the fact that he personally cares more than enough to make up for her cold heart.

Agni doesn’t fight, simply goes with his brother though he looks back to their sister and shoots her a look that states plenty. While Mira might not stand up to her, he would and protect them both from her icy cold heart. She might love them but her care for anyone else was more than a little difficult to earn, he knows.

“Dinner is almost ready!” She calls out, anger swarming her though she tries to calm it down.

“We need to get changed, we’ll be out in five minutes.” Agni’s voice is surprisingly calm as he leaves his brother to his door and moves into his room with a soft, quiet sigh. “Some days just aren’t meant to end on a good note.”

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