Taking a step away from Nira, Drew realized that maybe he was getting a little too close for her comfort. Although he was taught social skills and etiquette back at his home base, the concepts are not executed correctly unless they are practiced. And practicing his social skills was something he didn’t do much of.
Another reason why living out here could be a good thing.
Clearing his throat, he spoke up to break the tension. “You know, you didn’t have to go through the trouble of baking a pie.”
His intention was to reassure her that she shouldn’t feel like she needed to go through extra measures for him to feel welcome. Just being in her space was welcoming enough. Fortunately, his stoic demeanor didn’t affect her one bit. She was determined to make a friend out of her new neighbor. She figured her invitation to come inside was also assurance to make conversation.
“That’s alright, I wanted to. So where are you from?”
He had to think about it before he answered. He couldn’t tell her who he really was. She wouldn’t understand yet, although he wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to tell her. But its not like he was going to be able to tell what would be safe or unsafe to tell her yet. They were barely even acquaintances. He would have to take it by day.
“I’m from around town. I actually grew up in this area, so I know it pretty well. But I’ve been away for a while and decided that moving back home was the best decision for me,” he said.
“Why?” Nira asked. “I mean, is there something here that you wanted to come back for, or were you just missing home?”
“I guess its a little bit of both,” he chuckled. He liked being able to talk freely like this. He wasn’t lying, just not telling the whole truth. And he hoped she wouldn’t ask him for specifics.
“What about you?” He asked, trying to gear the conversation towards her in hopes of getting to know her better. “Have you always lived here?”
“I have actually,” she said, following him to the living room. Sitting on the sofa, she continued. “I actually only moved up to Los Angeles for school, but I graduated early this year, so now I’m back home too.” Nira felt comfortable talking to Drew. So comfortable in fact that they spent the next hour talking about all sorts of things, from Nira’s love for baking to Drew’s friends.
“They’re more like my brothers, actually. Colten and I were raised together since we were little, and we found Cody when he was eleven years old,” Drew smiled at the memories of when him and his friends were young.
“You found him?” He looked over at Nira, who had a confused expression on his face.
“Oh, uh, what I meant to say was-” He had screwed up, but he needed to find a way to fix his mistake before Nira felt suspicious of him. He decided he would say what he’s been saying all along; the truth. Just not all of it.
“Colten and I were orphans,” he said. “We both ended up as roommates in the orphanage that took us in. He was already there when I arrived, and when we were about sixteen, we found Cody on the street.” His mood suddenly changed as he remembered how he first met Cody. He had been abandoned by his alcoholic father who dropped him off at a local market and gave him $20 to ‘buy himself some food’. His father drove off and never returned.
“We took Cody back to our orphanage, and after his father was charged with child neglect, he made his home with us. We’ve all been together for over eight years.” He couldn’t help but smile at that last part. He really didn’t know where he would have been without Colten and Cody.
Nira smiled at how close the three must be, and how lucky they all were to have found each other. While she wanted to know more about her new acquaintance, her heavy eyelids and the yawn that threatened to escape her lips reminded her that it had gotten late and she still wanted to call Kate.
Drew noticed the droopy look in her eyes and decided that it was time to call it a night. At the door, Nira reminded him to let her know what he thought of the pie.
“I will,” he promised with a smile.
Nira closed the door to her apartment and sighed with content. Despite the low throbbing still happening in her ribcage and the various bruises covering her body, she felt pretty good. Now to relieve the rest of her worries and check up on her friend.
The thing Drew loved most about small towns like these was the darkness. For most people, the darkness would be threatening, something to fear. But for him, it made getting around a lot easier. Clad in his black attire that both protected him from physical harm and peering eyes, he would blend in perfectly so that no one could see him moving around buildings, on rooftops, and through alleys where crime was most common. As soon as the sun went down, he was more than happy to climb out of his new apartment and patrol the town.
On most nights, he would meet up with Cody and Colt to tackle the night’s jobs together, but tonight he needed time to himself. The recent events involving strong earthquakes might be something that scientists couldn’t figure out, but he knew exactly who was responsible, and he knew that the person responsible wasn’t going to stop until they got what they wanted.
But that wasn’t what was bothering him the most. He knew something about them that no one else at base knew, not even Colt or Cody. While he didn’t like keeping secrets from his friends, he would have to try to come up with a solution to the problem fast. Because that was the only thing that was certain nowadays; there are no secrets that time does not reveal.
The next morning, Nira awoke to the sun shining through her curtains. She slowly and painfully got out of bed with a groan. Clutching her still aching ribs, she walked towards her bathroom, and decided that she would shower before heading to the coffee shop.
After last night’s talk with Katie, she learned that she was fortunately (and unfortunately) the only one who got seriously hurt. Everyone else in the coffee shop made it to cover in time and only received a few cuts and bruises. Today, the manager was going to open up the shop so that a few workers could start cleaning and patching up the damage. While Katie explicitly told Nira that she didn’t have to go in because of her injuries, Nira just didn’t feel right leaving them to do all the work. She would be there for moral support and maybe even get everyone some lunch or something.
After showering and eating a quick breakfast, she opened her door and unconsciously looked towards Drew’s door. Training her focus back on what she was supposed to do, Nira made her way to the Wayward Coffee Shop.
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