no remorse

As she looks through the house she now has been settling in for about a week and some days, Zora wonders briefly about the changes that have settled in her life over the short period of time. She no longer wakes up at five thirty in the morning, despite sharing her bed with Jed. There no longer is yelling though there hadn’t been any of that for a short while but there had been plenty of it when she’d first moved in with Niall.

She doesn’t have to clean the whole house by herself, doesn’t have to prepare every meal on her own without fail, she has days where cuddling seems to be the best thing that could ever happen to her. She feels no remorse for having eased out of Niall’s life so close to the holidays.

Two days following her little escape, Jed sat down with her, telling her about how things were going at work and how Niall was doing. It was the only time they ever discussed it. It had been his one rule and she had no issues whatsoever about it. ‘We don’t discuss him unless it’s work related’. There never had been any discussions about work before, this wasn’t going to change.

Sitting down in the spacious living room, she briefly wonders how she ever managed to live with him without wanting to tear his head off every other day. It makes no sense in her mind but she knows it simply was in the way he acted, in those little words he murmured. He had a good, strong hold over her and that just was it. If Jed hadn’t eventually come along as he had, she still would have been with Niall.

Briefly she wonders about the wellbeing of he brothers but that too is out of her mind quickly enough. They are old enough to take care of themselves. She has no reason to worry or fret about their well being or about anything at all that concern them, in the long run. They have a roof over their heads, they have food and if for some reason they get in trouble, well it would be their own fault for wanting to stay where they were and not coming with her.

As she nestles a little deeper into the cushions of the couch, she closes her eyes and relaxes. Jed is still asleep. She sees no reason to waking him up since there is nowhere he has to go and there is absolutely no where she might want to go. She knows he works hard and that his very work is bound to be a little harder as of lately since he does still work with Niall and as it turned out, during their conversation, Jed had told her that the man had been a little pissed at finding the note and he’d been giving his partner the cold shoulder ever since.

“Maybe he’ll ask for a partner change.” She yawns softly, feeling almost ready to drift back to a comfortable doze. This feels so different. Dozing this way, just relaxing. Something that just couldn’t happen back there.

“Ask for a partner change for what?” Jed’s voice startles her out of her relaxed state, fear spiking briefly in her though she relaxes and manages a low, startled laugh. He murmurs an apology and settles at her side, taking her hand in his, simply brushing his thumbs over her palm. This is how he usually tells her that he’s sorry, by trying to soothe her.

“You just startled me, I’m sure that before too long I’ll be used to your coming and going, you’re surprisingly light on your feet and I think I’m not used to that yet.” She smiles at him, curling her fingers over his gently and he smiles back though he doesn’t look too convinced.

“I was just thinking that it can’t be safe that he gives you the cold shoulder constantly. He’s supposed to be your partner. I know we’re not supposed to talk work but hear me out just right now and then we can go back to work to celebrate our new chance at life together a little more, yes?” He frowns briefly but he caves in, nodding, he’s still rubbing his thumb against her palm.

“You’re a cop, Jed. Your job can be downright dangerous in particular situations, I know that much and I’m not going to ignore it, that’d be stupid as hell. If he’s giving you the cold shoulder, he’s not focused on doing his job. What happens if you two get in a sticky situation and he’s not paying attention? What happens if you get shot?” The worry suddenly gets a good hold of her and she freezes. She can’t recall being this worried about Niall in this way ever in her time spent with him.

Jed smiles, bringing her palm up to his lips to kiss it. “I’ve been working with him for a little more than ten years, Zora. I’m not honestly worried about this. He always acts this way when he gets dumped because he’s always the one getting dumped. It usually last a week or two, a month if the relationship really seemed to mean something to him but it passes. He’s my friend, despite how he acts and how he treats other women and I know he looks out for my ass in bad situations.”

Still filled with uncomfortable fear, Zora sighs and rubs her free hand over her eyes. “I trust you. I want to trust you to the end of the world but I can’t trust him. I swear if something happens to you while he’s this way, I’ll have to do something. I don’t know what but I’ll do something.”

“You’re precious, Zora. Thank you for worrying about me.” As he utters those words, Jed moves back to his feet before he moves back down to her, sweeps her off her feet but instead of keeping her to his arm, he drops her over his shoulders. She shrieks, just once, too startled by his sudden motions to do anything else. Moments later she laughs as he walks his way out of their living room and back to that bedroom. She had promised it, after all.

He settles her down gently, lovingly on the bed despite his shoulder treatment and she sticks her tongue out at him. “You’re an absolute oaf, I swear.”

“An oaf, me? I carried you gently and carefully, I have now deposited you lightly on the bed and here I was thinking of making sweet and tender love to you but if you think I’m an oaf, I suppose I’ll just have to wander off and do oaf things.”

“No, no wait!” she knows he’s playing with her but playing along doesn’t hurt. She wants nothing more than kindness and love with this man and she knows that she has to treat him in a way he deserves as he’s treating her as she knows she deserve.

“I’m sorry, I take it back. You just know how I get when you do these kind of things, it’s so sudden that I don’t really know what to make of any of it.”

He murmurs a slight apology, they both know they’re somewhat at fault for this one mock-situation. She came out of a bad relationship and he knows it, he has no intention of being rough with her but some actions are customary with him and he knows they’ll work out a way to make things work.

“Cuddle?”

“Cuddle sounds perfect, after that and once my heartbeat is back to normal, you can take me to places unknown as much as you like.” She chuckles softly as he eases to her side, pulling her against him. She nestles, closing her eyes and marvelling at how right it all feels. There are no remorse whatsoever in her and she knows there never will be.

“I’m thankful you’ve appeared into my life when you did, Jed. You have no idea how thankful.”

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prancing ponies

There were horses and ponies everywhere. Some prancing, some standing still. Not a single one of them was looking at her and for some strange reason, the thought comforted her. Some of the animals were black, some had strange red spots and others strange blue ones. For a moment she wondered if this wasn’t supposed to be a sign but she ignored it. Zora wasn’t sure at all about what she was doing right where she was. She wasn’t even sure as to where she was to begin with.

Something beeped in the distance. She started walking in that general direction, trying to find out just whatever that beeping thing was but the closer she thought she was getting and the louder the beeping got, the more lost she felt. There was nothing left around her now, just vast plains, a few hills and a whole lot of red, blue and black flowers. There were some purple and lavender ones but they were a slight distance off from the others, as if they were not to mingle at all. She frowned, reaching out for a prettily blue flower and as she tried to curl her fingers around it, it vanished.

She slammed her hand against the alarm clock. It went quiet.

Zora rubbed her eyes, trying to focus on the blurry numbers that were flashing at her in that ugly green colour of theirs. Five thirty. Too early for her, this wasn’t her alarm, it was Niall’s. She couldn’t understand why he seemed to not want his own alarm clock, he could set it on his bedside table, at least there would be that less of an issue to deal with. She wasn’t due to get up for another hour and a half at least and this was just one of those things.

She loved him, she really did but there were just some of his habits that made things crumble a little more every day. She knew he was verbally abusive, it just didn’t really work with her, she could dish it as well as he did, he’d tried it over the first few weeks and it had badly backfired, they’d had a pretty bad fight but they’d made up. The make up sex was pretty great, really, then again the sex as a whole was pretty great.

Closing her eyes, Zora tried to think back on the strange dream she’d been having. The red, blue and black everywhere was pretty significative, now that she was awake. She did miss her brothers but there was no way in hell she would reach out to them first. They had decided to not come with her. It had been their decision to stay with that group of lunatics. They were old enough to take care of themselves and they knew her number if they did ever want to get in touch with her. She wasn’t at fault here, if that moron Eoghan hadn’t gotten in her way, they would be in this apartment with her and Niall, they’d probably be working a better job than at the lame library with the lame Armin and they’d be happier in general, she just knew it.

“You awake, babe?” She looked to the foot of the bed, shrugging her shoulders a moment.

“Your alarm woke me. I still don’t get why you don’t want us to get you your own alarm clock. I didn’t need to be up for another hour and a half at least and I know I won’t get any sleep again any time soon.”

He shrugged and she rolled her eyes. “Y’could come and make me some breakfast.”

“You never eat breakfast here, Niall. You’re always rushing out because you’re late. Which I don’t really get since you don’t need to get to work until seven. Your partner keeps on dropping by every few days because it seems as though he was supposed to pick you up and you’re already gone.” Her tone was quietly amused, it was an interesting sort of situation though she took plenty advantage of it. The sex really was great and she felt no remorse for it.
“How about I make it up for having woken you up then, mm?”

How could she refuse?

She waved him off as he drove out of his parking spot and left for work. It was Jed’s day, she knew, he’d come by in half an hour or so and she could have herself another reason to appreciate having been woken up.

Zora looked out the window, leaning against it gently. The sky was dark, heavy with clouds. For a few moments she wondered as to how her brothers were doing but she pushed the thought away without much of a struggle. She didn’t want to think about them, even if her dreams made it seem as though she was supposed to. This would be their first Christmas apart, not that they’d ever celebrated before. She couldn’t afford anything and most certainly didn’t want to. She’d given them the gifts she could manage on their birthdays, it had been enough.

When Jed’s car pulled up into Niall’s parking spot, she chuckled and shook her head. Right on time. At times she wondered why she didn’t spend more time with Jed instead of Niall. The man treated her better than her boyfriend did. Perhaps it was for that whole issue that they were partner and she didn’t want to cause any friction between them.

But honestly, who was she kidding? She already slept with both of them and Jed at least wasn’t the type who’d abuse her in any way. He was too sweet. At least that was what she’d learned from him during all the time they spent together. He even made sure she had utterly enjoyed herself, not something Niall much worried about during their sexual encounters.

She knew Jed had stopped coming around to pick Niall up months ago. At first Niall had gone with him but soon enough he’d started taking his car to head to work, leaving her to take the bus though it was how she usually made her way to work. Jed tended to offer her rides after they’d had their moments.

As he came up the steps and knocked on the door, she moved away from the window and went to let him in, a soft chuckle escaping her as he stepped inside, closed the door and swept her off her feet, swinging her carefully about, as if they were lovers finally reunited.

“I think we have something very important to discuss, Jed, something that might just change both of our lives though I don’t know how safe it will be for me.”

He set her down then, a frown to his lips as she led him to their usual spot. She had no issues with making use of that bed thoroughly as she needed, even with Jed. She sat on the edge and he settled next to her. The difference between the two men were so drastic that she wasn’t even sure what had pulled her to Niall in the beginning.

“I think I’m ready to take us to the next level. We both know I’m not happy here, this isn’t the kind of life I need and he keeps on trying to make me miserable.” This wasn’t new, they’d had this discussion before and Jed had offered to house her in his home for a while, until she got her feet back under her or until she decided that maybe they could be more than just a fling.

His face lit up though he knew it wasn’t really that good a thing to be happy about. The woman he wanted was finally opening him the door. At least in a way she was opening him the door.

“How do you want to work this out?” It was cruel to break someone’s heart before Christmas, as it was right around the bend but she knew he didn’t quite love her the way she knew she’d loved him at some point.

“I don’t have a lot of things. I could just pack it all up. If you have any time at all this morning we could drop my stuff off tonight and after work you could come and pick me up from work? I’ll leave him a note, tell him I needed some space, of course I won’t tell him where I’ve gone off to, if you want to tell him you can but I don’t really think that should be necessary.”

The man only nodded, his eyes were bright and happy. He knew he’d been more or less used just for the sex for those few months but there always had been hoped in him, always.

the confrontation

The day had gone by in a blur, unlike yesterday where it had been so quiet that I had spent the better part of my day almost lounging along one of the windows, just following the patches of sun, today was a rush, there were people coming around left and right, most of them not looking much older than Cyrille.

Armin said something about how the next few days would be a rush of the sort as students who were missing particular books to their studies, mostly the collegial or university kind, were coming in to try to see if there weren’t some copies that could be taken out on long-term. He did that, rent long-term though they had to deposit a fee and once the book came back in good condition at the end of the term or the year or whatever, the deposit was paid back. That whole thing confused me a bit but I figure that’s just the way life happens.

Cyrille dropped by with lunch but we couldn’t all eat together. The place was still so jam-packed that I ate with him during the first half-hour and Mira used the second half-hour of the break to eat with Armin, we said that if it still was this way tomorrow we’d just switch and he’d get to eat with Cyrille, I don’t mind.

After lunch, he stayed and helped, it made things just a little bit easier and the afternoon isn’t quite as much a blur as this morning was though not by much.

When the rush finally died down and Armin was able to close the doors for the night, to the dismay of a couple of people who had come in just barely five minutes before the usual closing time—Armin noted down the books they needed and said he’d set them aside for tomorrow to be picked up—we all stepped outside to breathe a quiet sigh of relief. I can freely admit that this was one of the hardest days of work I’d had to handle to that day. It had been worth it though, I felt worn but not in a bad way, as if I’d done my part for today.

We were about to cross the street to head to the bus stops when Armin was bumped into and you could almost imagine a bomb had gone off for what happened over the next little while.

Armin stumbled, of course but with Mira at his side, there was no real harm done, I turned to face the bumper and I’d been moments from giving them a piece of my mind when the words died in my throat. There was Zora, standing tall, her nose slightly upturned as if the sight of us wasn’t good enough for her.

“I see you boys still work in this place. That’s a shame, if you’d moved in with us, you’d have much better jobs and you wouldn’t be around this monster.” I don’t think it so much was her comments about the job as it was the comments about Armin that set me off. He was good to us, he took care of us and taught us new things, they all did. I almost lashed out at her but Cyrille’s arm across my chest kept me from going anywhere.

“Look at you two, hanging around this half-man and this-” her eyes swept over Cyrille and now even his arm couldn’t really keep me back, “this whatever he is, it’s pathetic, I didn’t raise you to be like this.”

“You didn’t raise us!” I was in her face, just barely an inch away, neck craned to be able to look up at her and I was silently cursing the damned inches she had on me. “You dragged us around, from one place to another, begging for money, trying to find us food, not even teaching us this one language as if you could keep us to yourself well that’s bullshit. We’d probably have been better off if you’d dropped us off at some orphanage!”

That one might have been pushing too far but I was tired of the bullshit that came from her. It was unlike her, she hadn’t been this way before. She still was calm as she looked down at me, she even smiled and it was a pleased, winning sort of smile. “I don’t miss you boys a whole lot. Niall takes care of me just fine and I don’t need you two punks in my life to hold me back anymore.”

I felt Cyrille shudder slightly besides me and I had to assume it was the name, I can’t imagine there are a lot of folks with that name in this particular city and I felt bile try to rise in my throat. It was Mira who finally stepped forward, he pulled me back though I suppose Cyrille might have helped him. When I was a few paces away, he stepped up to her, his voice was low and calm, peaceful almost and I think I envied him the ability to keep his cool. I felt like I was going to be ill or that I was going to start crying, I couldn’t decide.

“I don’t think you’re wicked, Zora, but I think you’re too easily swayed by the person you believe to be in love with. Personally I think you’re in love with the idea of being in love. If Niall is who we think he is and I’m pretty sure he is, he came to threaten us, he was the one who took us into the station that one time with the incident and if he knew you were related to us, he might not let you stay around much, I’m sure.” He shook his head, a sad look on his face as he turned away.

“We have better things to do than stay here and be spoken to this way. If you ever decide that you’ve had enough of your current love life, the apartment is still open though I can’t guarantee settling back into a kind of peaceful lifestyle will be easy. ” I really do envy his ability to stay calm. He moved past me, gently touching my arm as he went and he settled at Armin’s side once more. We walked to the street corner and crossed.

I don’t know how I managed to keep myself from crying until we were home. I don’t know how I felt either, betrayed, hurt, confused, the emotions were swarming when we finally stepped into the apartment and I broke down. I cried and I did so hard. At times I understand that I’m not really the one who’s all that strong. I put up a strong front for Mira and I protect him best I can but in situations like these, he’s better at controlling his emotions than I am.

He hugged me, it’s all I needed. He hugged me and held me until I calmed down and until the need to cry had passed. Her words hurt. It’s one thing to act as if they meant nothing but when you stopped being all hyped up and stopped being angry, it all comes crashing down and it hurts so bad.

Armin was hesitant to let us go upstairs to our apartment but eventually Mira managed to persuade him to let us go. That he was all right and he’d take care of me. I suppose he was only half convinced because after a while, there was a gentle sort of knock on the door, it was while I was soaking in the tub, trying to calm myself down but I heard talking and eventually, Mira came join me in the bathroom, just sitting down next to the tub. He said Eoghan had dropped by to make sure we were okay. We might not have our older sister with us anymore but we have a bigger family now than we’ve had for years, I want to believe we’ll be okay.

short __________

I’ve never really realized how short tempered she is. To this day, up until at least Alexis and Eoghan offered us a roof, she’d been kind and driven to keep us safe but now that we’ve settled, it seems as if the fuse has gotten shorter and shorter for those rare times where we actually see her at all. I feels like half of her clothes have been moved elsewhere and she doesn’t really live with us anymore.

She came in this morning, two large travelling bags in hands and she announced that we were moving. I just mostly stared at her but Agni, oh Agni went up in flames, figuratively, of course. But he argued loud and clear. She even slapped him, just once. That silenced him for a moment, just a moment and he was right back in her face seconds later. I don’t know if it was the yelling or- yeah, it must have been the yelling because Eoghan was at our door just minutes later, his eyes wide and worried, a little frightened maybe. I don’t know. At times I have a hard time reading his face. Nearly at his heels, there was Alexis and while I imagine he must have been uncomfortable to a point about whatever was happening, he looked mostly poker-faced.

I took Agni with me and we left after Eoghan told us the adults needed to talk. Zora started yelling at him about how he had no right to tell us what to do and he just waved us off. I’m not going to argue, they’re older, they’re adults and we’re not going to get in the middle of that. So I took Agni and we went downstairs and instead of heading out, we knocked on Armin’s door. He let us in without even asking to know why we were there at all.

I don’t know what happened after we stepped out. The building shook a little but it didn’t last. Agni just sat staring outside a little morosely and I know it hurts him to think that Zora seems to want to move away from this place. This is the best home we’ve ever had, the only home we’ve ever had and I don’t want to move away.

It was some hours later that Eoghan was knocking on Armin’s door to fetch us. He looked a little worn and I felt bad for it. It was our fault he was this way, really. If we’d just gone with her, thinks would have been different but it felt crazy to want to go anywhere, all things considered.

“Are you both all right?” I spared a glance to Agni at my side, just clinging to my hand as if to protect me and I nodded. We were as well as we could be. The bruise on Agni’s cheek was already well on its way to healing.

“Okay, here’s the deal.” Here he stopped in his tracks, at the top of the stair and he sat. We sat down next to him. It wasn’t as if we’d be disturbed, the place only has us as folks living in so no one but maybe Alexis could come this way. “Zora decided that she wanted to live with her boyfriend. He has a small apartment on the other side of town, it’s where she’s been spending most of her time, is what I gathered from her.”

He shook his head here and sighed, running one hand through his short hair. “I wasn’t trying to pry into her mind to get more details since she didn’t really want to give us any but I ended up doing that anyway. I know that what we’re offering you here is simple enough, it does the job but she still is your sister and as per the law, she essentially is your legal guardian, to a point.”

I recalled bits and pieces of what he’d told us when he’d gotten us from the police station, how it was his and Alexis’s name at the top of the papers when it came to us. I had thought this might have meant that they were closer to our legal guardian than Zora since she was just our sister and had never really gotten any paperwork done.

“Now, from what I saw in her thoughts, I’m pretty sure you both would have been in a rather small bedroom, sharing something akin to bunk beds. I know it’s not such a bad thing but I know you’re both growing up and you’re growing used to having your own things and your own space. If she wants to live in a slighter space for the sake of love, then she can but she can’t force you both to go anywhere if you don’t really want to.”

Again he paused and looked to the ceiling this time, as if to gather his thoughts. I leaned my weight against him gently and he smiled down at me. “I offered to her that her boyfriend move in here with her but she said she didn’t want that. She started screaming something about how we were a bad influence on you boys and Alexis had to shut her up. He just held a hand over her lips for a minute, mind you. She bit him.”

Agni breathed a startled laugh and he shook his head and Eoghan actually snickered faintly. “He called her a vicious pup and told her that she could pack all of her things if she wanted but she had to leave your stuff here. So she packed up most of her things. Now, this doesn’t really change anything in the way our lives have been going for a while. You both have been getting your own groceries for weeks, you’ve prepared your own meal, you come to the shared supper, you’ve been acting like two very mature adult while she found herself someone to love and drifted away.”

As he said that, he moved to his feet and we followed suit. He finished heading down the hallway to our door and opened it up for us. “The place was something of a rightful mess when she was done with her tantrum but we fixed it up.”

“You didn’t have to.”

“I know but It didn’t feel right to leave you two to pick up after her. Now, we told her she’s free to come back if she ever wishes, which is why we’ve left her bedroom was it is, we don’t see the point to changing it and I know you two didn’t really bother with it as it was either. If either one of you need anything, you know you can always get in contact with us, we’re easy to reach, okay?”

I could only nod, really. Agni surprised me though, he latched onto Eoghan, hugging him fiercely. It’s not that we don’t love Zora. She’s been with us since we were small and she’s been keeping us safe, but we’re growing up, we’re almost seventeen, we work, we pay for our own food, we’re careful with what we do. If we were to move out with her and her boyfriend, someone we don’t know, there’s no saying what could happen.

Mussing Agni’s hair, Eoghan smiled at us both before he reminded us of tonight’s supper. Though he mentioned that if we didn’t feel like it we didn’t have to. I told him we’d think good and long about it but I knew we were going to go anyway. These folks have been feeling more like family lately than our sister. I’m not saying we’re going to forget her, she took care of us for years, it means a lot but I guess we still have some growing up to do.

When he was out of the door, we closed it and looked at one another quietly. It was a strange feeling, knowing she was likely not coming back though it didn’t change much in the routine we’d had lately. Still, it was a different way to look at things.

“Want to go up and have a swim?” Something to change the scenery was the best course of action and Agni nodded, smiling faintly as he did.

“We’ll adapt. Just one day after the other.”

law breaker

“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.