the cost of ___________

The twins did end up in our apartment for the better part of two weeks following the incident at the store where Agni had only wanted to show Mira something. Things had just spiralled out of control before they could explain themselves. It’s sad really, the way things turned out to be but we can’t turn back time. I personally don’t know any Time-gifted demons. I know Lex does but he says that it’s a gift that should more or less never be used unless the whole planet was about to be destroyed.

When Agni knocked at our door, Mira in tow, two slight bags held close as if it was his only safety, I was more than happy to let them in. I thought they’d stay a day or three, a week at most. They’ve tried to head back down but I guess Zora is the type to hold grudges because they’re still with us after two weeks.

I let them in, showed them to the guest bedroom though I knew they were aware of where it was since it wasn’t the first time they were here, after all. We postponed the weekly gathering that week because the twins weren’t really in any shape to appreciate a shared meal and I knew Zora wouldn’t come. So we told everyone that we’d make it up for it one weekend by going somewhere that everyone who came could enjoy.

I gave the twins a couple of days to try to wind down about their whole adventure before I started to spend time with them to explain the cost of things to them. I knew they understood the basic knowledge but the finer details were somewhat lost on them. I told them that things had price tags on them because people had worked hard to get the product to us in this final form and they needed food, and food required money and—well the discussion went on for a long while.

Little by little I added a bit more information to that knowledge, just a bit more every day. I didn’t want to overwhelm them. I called Armin on the first night, telling him I didn’t know whether or not the twins would be going with him to work on the following day but they both surprised me by going. I suppose it was a good thing, they needed the distraction.

Now, two weeks later and they’re packing their clothes up again into their little bags. This is the third time they’ll be trying to head back down and see if the woman who thinks she’s been scorned has calmed down in any way enough for them to get back to their habits and their bedrooms. I know they miss sleeping in their own beds though Mira has had nightmares almost nightly through the first week. He reminds me of Yael a little bit.

I watch them walk down the hallway to the staircase and I sigh a little. I leave the door partly opened, just in case. I don’t know Zora that well, I don’t know how long it might take for her to calm down. What I do know is that Agni is strong-spirited and he might just stand up to her enough to get her to back down and let them back in to their own lives. I feel bad but really, there’s nothing more we can do about this but grow from it all.

Hours pass and they don’t come back up so I go back to the door and I close it. Once that’s done, I collapse on the couch and I mostly stare off. Now that they’re out of the apartment I’m not sure what to do with myself. Two weeks of watching them get up, eat a little, head to work with Armin, come back in the late afternoon-early evening, teach them a little more about the cost of life and then dinner and bed, it settled into a routine and I’m at a loss.

A couple of hours later, Lex comes out of his work room, he stops by the living room where I haven’t really budged from the couch and he rests his hand atop my head, as if to tell me he’s there. I chuckle softly and I close my eyes before I tilt my head back to look up to him. I smile faintly and I shrug. I don’t know what else to do.

“This is a good sign, Eoghan. It means either she’s finally calmed down or Agni stood up to her and she backed down.” His words pull an amused moment of laughter from me. He looks at me in that way only he ever can, that questioning sort of look that’s all his.

“That’s more or less exactly what crossed my mind. That since they hadn’t come back, either Agni had stood up to her or she’d calmed down.” He chuckled in turn and stepped around the couch to settle next to me. There’s that faint odour of chocolate that lifts off of him. Usually when he’s done with his work he showers, he knows I’m not strong on sweet things, chocolate one of those things but right now I don’t really mind. I might be the one with the gift of mind-reading and mind-altering but he knows me well enough to understand that I need company right that instant and that I don’t care what he might smell like.

He sits next to me and I don’t need to be asked or told before I shift and move to settle onto his lap. His arms curl about my waist and I rest my head against his shoulder with a sigh. I close my eyes and I try to forget that they’re gone, even if it is for their own good. They couldn’t live with us forever though it wasn’t such a bad sort of routine. They’re growing up, they’re strong and willful, they need to develop their own pathways in life.

The next morning, right before the hour at which I know Armin leaves for the library with the twins, Mira comes knocking on the door. He looks calm, he looks peaceful. I sigh, a little note of relief and he smiles at me somewhat. In his hands is an old sort of book, one that doesn’t ring any bells but it might with Lex. I take it from his offering hands, look it over and carefully set it down. The moment the book is out of my hands, I have a Mira latched onto me, hugging me tightly. I hug him back, it’s all I can do.

He’s murmuring nonsense, words I can’t make out but the accent is somewhat clear and I tell myself that he’s talking in his native tongue. I don’t mind. I just appreciate his presence so close and the fact that he’s not crying. It breaks my heart to see him crying.

When he finally releases me, he looks up to me, he looks calmer now and I smile down to him, reaching out to muss my hand through his hair gently. He laughs and bats away at me hand, the worry lifts from my soul. He hadn’t laughed in two weeks. This feels good.

“Go on before you’re late for work.”

He nods and he smiles again before he turns and runs down the corridor and off to the staircase. I hear him distantly thumping on the way down and I chuckle softly to myself.

I close the door and carefully pick up the book he’s handed me. I’m not sure if it’s a temporary or permanent sort of thing, I’ll ask during our next shared meal. I bring to book to the kitchen table where I set it down carefully. I know Lex will be able to tell me a bit more about it. I’m honestly quite curious.


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