The Shadow

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If nothing else was well known about me, I’m horrible at addressing my feelings… but a lot more is known about me than that. I am afraid of trusting people, and when I do I am more likely to end up burnt than not, I don’t understand how the people around me think and feel, nor do I know that about myself. They raised me to be an assassin, to kill without mercy.

And here I was, standing outside of the Dawsons room, ready to apologise for something I hadn’t meant to do.

Because I was changing and had to move forward somehow.

After talking to Vince, I knew I had to apologise for my behaviour, and that he had already done all he could for me. With his time in the military, he was also depleted in the areas of emotion and empathy… if I wanted to continue bettering myself as a person, I had to ask the Dawsons for help, to teach me.

If I didn’t do this, then I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight, plus I would disappoint Vince.

So I knocked on the door.

“Hey…” Nylah answered the door, confused why I was on the other side of it.

“Hi, Nylah,” I replied, not knowing what I was supposed to say. I didn’t know how much Syrus had told her, didn’t know how much she agreed with him.

“You here to talk to Syrus?” She asked me.

“Yes, and no. I wanted to talk to you as well…” I replied, she let me into the room, and I observed her as she closed the door.

“About the argument?” Nylah asked next, and I nodded. “Syrus came back pretty pissed off, to say the least, I made sure I talked to him and got him to think things through properly before making any rushed decisions. He walked in and told me to get ready to leave. I had to point out we didn’t have a way to leave just yet…”

“So he told you?”

“Yeah, he told me.” She replied. I was stiff as I stood in the room, I was in the open, vulnerable…

“How much did he tell you?” I asked. I had barely realised I’d moved until my back hit the wall.

“Everything, like I said, I made sure I talked through it all with him.” She replied, and I nodded. So, it was like Vince and I talking it over… they worked similarly. “It’s how family works, you work through things together.” She added as if she could read my thoughts. She had a knack for reading people, something that I was still working on. I could pick the basics, could see anger, happiness, realisation, the apparent stuff… but how Nylah could read people, I honestly did not understand.

“So, what did he say?” I asked her, she smiled.

“Well, to start with he was yelling a lot, once I got him to calm down then I could understand what he was saying. He told me you two had an argument about trust and family and all that kind of heavy stuff, that some words were said that probably shouldn’t have been. From what I could understand, he was angry that you won’t trust us, but that you want us to be a family. He said that you can’t have one without the other.” She told me, I nodded.

“He’s right…” I trailed off, she smiled gently.

“Well, a family trusts each other and cares for each other unconditionally, with no doubt. I trust my brother completely, but I know that he overreacts. Which is why after we talked it over I told him to have a shower, it helps to calm him down.” She told me, maybe Syrus and I were more similar than I had initially thought… “We have a few minutes left until he comes out, so I’ll say what I need to say.”

I nodded and prepared for the worst, I had no idea how this was going to go.

“I’m not angry with you, I’ve been trying to understand why you are the way you are. It’s your past, you don’t know any better and learning about all this trust and family stuff has to come from an outside source with experience… Syrus and I have to teach you, don’t we?” She asked me.

“Vince has tried, but his past isn’t the greatest either so he’s done all he can,” I replied.

“Well, it starts with trust, obviously. We know you would do anything to keep us safe, you’ve proven it. You don’t know if we would do the same, you don’t know if we’re going to stay. You think once we find Paititi that Syrus and I are leaving…” She trailed off, waiting for confirmation from me. I crossed my arms over my chest and hung my head down.

“I’m used to being used and then thrown away once people have what they want from me. I’m a weapon to most people, not a human being, which is why I avoid making close connections with people I work with. You and Syrus… you’re different, and I want to be close to you two, but I don’t know what’s going to happen once you get what you want from me, or when that’s going to be. You can only be around me because you want me for something, the same way that Syrus thinks I’m keeping you two around for numbers.” I explained, I felt far too vulnerable, saying that to her, on purpose.

Nylah walked over to me with a comforting smile on her face. She was far too empathetic for her age, to know exactly what I was feeling and sympathise with me. The girl wasn’t just intelligent, she was emotionally intelligent, it would prove useful to her in future if she stayed in this line of work. She would be a force to be reckoned with… but right now, she was just a girl who I was about to cry in front of. I held it in as I looked into her eyes, I wouldn’t cry in front of her, even if she would probably understand my pain if I did.

“We want nothing from you, Caeli, we care about you too,” Nylah told me as she wrapped her arms around my torso. I froze at the action, no one aside from Vince had hugged me to provide me comfort. I held my breath for a moment before I wrapped my arms around Nylah’s shoulders. I wouldn’t cry, I pushed it all back, but I couldn’t leash a single tear that ran down my cheek before I breathed out and closed my eyes. It was the calmest I had felt in a long time, I felt secure… I had to protect Nylah at all costs, she deserved to live a lot more than I did.

I snapped back to reality when I heard a door opening, I opened my eyes again and looked to the sound, immediately on edge, but it was just Syrus exiting the bathroom. I moved away from Nylah and averted my eyes away from the brother.

“For Christ’s sake,” I said as Nylah moved away from me to look at her brother. Her brother, who was only wearing pants, his shirt in his hand.

I knew that Syrus was still angry when there was no flirtatious quip about wanting to see him shirtless; when there were no sexual or playful words at all.

“What do you want, Caeli?” he asked me. He sounded exhausted, but I didn’t blame him.

“I wanted to talk,” I said as he pulled his shirt on over his head, it gave me the ability to breathe and look at him again.

“I’m going to check on Vince,” Nylah stated, swiftly exiting the room. Once it was only Syrus and me in the room, I couldn’t look at him. I didn’t know how to address the situation again. I should have worked this out before I walked into this damned room.

“I’m sorry.” I didn’t notice I had spoken until the words reached my own ears. I could look at him then; after I had filled the air with something other than silence. “I am so sorry…” I repeated, and I hoped he didn’t want me to elaborate because I didn’t know how to put it into words without sounding like excuses.

“I’m sorry too, for what I said.” He replied, and I nodded. I’d pretty much forgiven him for that, after everything I had said.

“Call it even?” I asked, biting my lip to stop myself from saying anything else.

“On that front, yeah.” He replied, and I nodded again, waiting for him to explain further. “We have to be equal, for this to work and keep working, we have to be equal. We have to trust each other with our lives.”

“I know, I just-”

“But after talking with Ny, I get it. I knew that your past would have influenced you like it does with everyone, but I had never thought about how... or what kind of defence mechanisms you would have put in place for yourself.” He stated, and I didn’t know what to say. “So, you don’t know what Nylah and I would do if it came down to it... for you, actions are louder than words, but I don’t know how we can show you that.” I shook my head.

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve saved our arses a few times now, and you always place yourself in the direct line of danger to do so. We haven’t been able to do that for you yet, even though I tried...” He trailed off, I just waited for him to continue. “Look, Caeli, the Hansen thing-”

“I’m not in the mood-”

“Just, please let me finish.” He cut me off, I nodded. He deserved to explain himself. “I know my actions weren’t well thought through, but they were well-intentioned. I honestly thought you might be in trouble and that I had a chance to start repaying you for saving my arse. When you stopped giving me updates I...” He trailed off and ran a hand through his wet hair.

“You what?” I asked, starting to lose my patience. Not that I was angry, just getting tired.

“I got scared.” He told me, and I, once again, didn’t know what to say. Why was he scared? That was why he came for me that night? “The thought that something might have happened to you, it terrified me. Until then, I thought this was just a business partnership, but that night I realised it was a hell of a lot more than that. So since then, I have been getting more and more annoyed at you not trusting us because I care about you and what happens to you, as well Sinclair for some messed up reason. The point I’m trying to make here is that Nylah and I can’t show you we would do anything to keep you safe because we don’t have the opportunity to, you tend to not need saving.”

I let out a breath I didn’t realise I had been holding. He was right. I would do everything in my power to avoid a situation where I had to be protected, it would mean that the others would be in danger. My eyes shifted to the floor as guilt weighed down on my body, I had put too much pressure on the Dawsons without due reason, without thinking it over first.

“You still think we’re going to leave, that once we get what we want... we’re gone. I don’t know how to prove it to you, all I have is my word.” He told me as he walked over to me, standing an arm’s length away. His expression was the most serious I had ever seen, he showed that this was the truth, that this was him being vulnerable. “This is the only time I’m going to say this, so believe me when I say it.” I nodded and took a deep breath.

“We want nothing from you, and for as long as you are willing to have us, Ny and I will be here. You told me that if we left that you and Vince would always be people that we could count on, and if we part ways; I need you to know that we will always be there for you. We are closer to a family than I thought... because that’s what family does.” He told me, I had to keep myself from crying again but opted to let out a breath of relief.

“Family?” I asked, holding a hand out towards him to shake.

“Family.” He answered, but instead of shaking my hand, he pulled me into a hug. My third hug of the night. This one felt different... not that I knew why; it just did. I hugged him back, and it was over after a few seconds, but I felt alone after we separated.

“I’ll want you around for a while, so... you might have to get used to my horrible humour and help me get better at understanding emotion. I’ll work on the trust thing, it’s a tough shell to crack, but it’s almost there.” I hated asking for help, almost as much as apologising. And I had done both tonight. Progress.

“As long as you can get used to my terrible flirting...” he bargained, I smirked.

“Doesn’t seem like a fair deal on my end, but... I’ll take it.” I replied, and he laughed, silence hung in the air for a few seconds afterwards. “We should get some sleep,” I said, he nodded in agreement.

“Promise you’ll dream of me?” He asked, I was glad to see his smile back on his face, it made me happier...

“Sure, I might just be smothering you with a pillow of that’s alright with you,” I replied as I walked to the door.

“If it’s to keep me from screaming your name-”

“Good night, Sy,” I said without thinking, but his expression made me notice I had used his nickname. He smiled softly then, looking to the floor before he looked back to me.

“Good night, Caels.” He used the nickname he had given me on the night we met.

And this time, I didn’t hate it.

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