“This shouldn’t have happened.”
“It happened, there’s no changing it. It was bound to happen, they’re growing up and they’re learning the ways of life.”
“It shouldn’t have happened. They know better.”
“Do they, Zora?” I see her clench her jaws shut as she shoots me one of the dirtiest looks she can manage. I can feel a cold breeze starting to run through the car and I snort gently. I’d look at her if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m driving.
“When did you ever stop to tell them that stealing in any way, shape or form, was bad?”
“I never stole anything!”
“Perhaps, but most of the time when you were dealing out the details of getting some shelter or some food, they were huddling away elsewhere, or when they were with you, they didn’t speak that strange language you spoke so how were they supposed to understand? They saw that one game in the window they really wanted and they took it. It won’t happen again.”
“They should have known better!”
“But they didn’t.” I’m really trying to rein in my temper, losing it would be bad for everyone around us and I’m not really in the mood to deal with collateral damage. The wind eventually dies out, just moments before I pull into the station. The store clerk only did what he was taught to. Someone tries to steal something—and in this case not even try to hide it, I don’t know what went through their minds—they call the cops.
“They will be grounded for this.” She slams her door once she’s out and I sigh, rubbing the bridge of my nose lightly. I feel a migraine coming on, this is not pleasant.
“What good with grounding them do when they didn’t know that what they were doing was wrong?”
“If my parents hadn’t been killed-“
“In a perfect world, there would be no law breakers, there would be no crime and there would be no hate. The world is not perfect, it will never be. Some of us have the gift of Time and they can alter it but the cost of that is great, I’ve seen it happen. Your parents, not just yours, remember, they’re your brothers, their parents as well. They are gone and dead, they’re not coming back. You’ve been dealt a bad lot in life but we’re now doing our best to give you the life you deserve.”
The look she shoots me is full of hurt and the tears are moments from escaping. I round the car though not to reach to her, I’m not even going to attempt that. “Zora, if you come inside like this, you’re going to cause a scene,” she opens her mouth and I shoot her a look, she closes it, “don’t start with me. If you don’t want to wait in the car, don’t. You can sit on the bench there, I’ll be out of there in ten minutes at most, we’ll give home and then, just then, when we’re all out of the car and inside, you can give them a piece of your mind, not before. I don’t want any of us to be endangered by your temper and your gift while we’re in the car, Zora. I’ve also seen that happen before it is not pretty.”
Again she looks hurt and near tears but I shrug it off. I’ve had decades and then some to grow used to the sight of tearful women, of scorned ones and of murder-plotting ones. This is nothing.
As I walk away, I catch her moving to sit on the bench, her head in her hands. It’s a start.
We’re out of the building barely ten minutes after I’ve entered. Mira looks frightened as can be, he doesn’t really understand all of what happened. All he understands is that people in uniforms, cops, showed up at the store where Agni had taken the game box and brought it outside to show his brother. From what I understand of their story it was really just a case of showing, he had no intention of taking it without paying it. Mira hadn’t wanted to step into the store with them.
This is what I explained to the officer at the desk and while he gave me a doubtful look, he believed me. These kids didn’t even have a spot of dirt in their files at this point in their lives after all and it still now was absolutely spotless.
Mira slips into the car silently, Agni settles into the other side. It takes Zora a minute or two before she follows suit, sitting next to me up front.
I get us going and only when we are at home do I actually lock all the doors. The car is off, motor no longer running. I tell Zora what her brothers have told me. I know she’s bound to better listen to me and pay attention to what I am saying than her brothers. I’m her elder, I’ve seen the world so many times over at this point that there’s not a lot I’ve missed out on.
She stiffens when the locks go down but she doesn’t fight. Her temper still is on edge and remains on edge even after I have explained. I’ve done all I can for her, I just hope she takes it easy on her brothers. Mira looks like his whole world has collapsed around him, he doesn’t understand. Agni is harder to read, his face is almost blank though I catch little notes of discomfort and fear. They both know they’ve done something wrong but there is nothing more that can be done about this.
I know Zora will hold this against me for a while. When I had all of the paperwork for them done so they could have their citizenship cards and birth certificate and the rest. I put the twins with my name as an emergency contact. Zora has no means of getting to them if something arises and in a case like this, where they were at the police station and needed getting out, my knowledge of it, I’m sure, has saved us all from a tornado or two.
Zora is sweet, I can give her that much but she has a temper that can rival Quentin’s own. If he snaps, there’s not much he can do to harm any of us, at least until he learns the true nature of his gift. Zora, on the other hand, she loses her temper and the town is good to be subjected to a few tornadoes.
When I got the call about the boys, I thought it over. I could either tell her or avoid telling her altogether. They are her brothers so I did tell her. Eventually I suppose she might see the truth in that and she might forgive me for all I’ve done today but it was for the good of the many. I’m pretty sure she’s going to avoid coming to our shared suppers for a while, I just hope she doesn’t keep the twins from coming. They don’t deserve to be punished.
Finally we all get out of the car. Zora in the lead, stalking away and it takes Agni rounding to his brother’s side of the car and pulling him out to get these two moving. I stop them just moments before they step inside. I offer them a slight sort of smile and I partly crouch down to their levels to talk to them. They’re so much smaller than me.
“Listen. I know you two didn’t mean any harm with what happened this afternoon. Personally I get it. It must have been frightening as all hell too when they pulled up and took you in.” I look down to Mira rubbing his wrists gently and I sigh. Honestly, this kid wouldn’t even hurt a fly and they handcuffed him. I can’t help him forget that, it’s not in my gift. Eoghan could clear their memories of the event but that’s not really something that should be done.
I reach out, brush my hands over his wrist gently and he looks up at me, his eyes wide and startled. “The memory is more than likely going to be right there in your mind for a while but don’t let it swallow you down. You did nothing wrong, you didn’t know it. Everything needs to be paid for before it’s brought outside. So next time one of you wants to show the other something, leave it there, step outside and ask them to join you in so you can both look at it, okay?”
I get a tiny little nod out of Mira and Agni sighs but nods in turns. There’s the ghost of a smile on his lips and I know he’s just trying to be strong. “If Zora starts yelling, you two come up top and we’ll let you both sleep in the guest room, all right?”
It’s a single but king sized bed so I doubt they’d mind. I get this feeling Mira might be crawling in with his brother for the next few days.
Finally I step back and I gently touch each of them on the shoulder before letting them step inside. I go up the stairs with them and watch them disappear down the second floor hallway as I go up to the third.
What a day today turned out to be.