XXV | Burdens Borne

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It was a strange thing to be met with silence. Kaia had heard so many things, so much more than she ever wanted to. Her snapshots could be a burden, or maybe a crappy gift depending on how she looked at it.

She was getting used to them, of course. She could control when she got them for the most part, so it was easier. But still, Kaia had never asked for it. She'd always told herself that.

So she felt like a hypocrite when she attempted to see into Jack. Maybe it could give her some insight, show Kaia the truth, how he was genuinely feeling behind his mask. That's what she'd thought.

But instead...silence.

When Kaia shook his hand, it was quiet. Kaia didn't hear anything or see anything where usually there were sights and sounds. It was like numbness. There was a black hole where there should have been an entire world. Kaia wondered if this was just what the inside of Jack's mind looked like, black and quiet.

But then Kaia remember her nightmares, and she knew that he wasn't anything like that. There was so much more to him than anyone could guess just looking. Kaia wanted to know. Everything.

But when she touched him again after they got into the car, there was that silence once more. And Kaia knew that it hadn't just been a mistake or a shortcoming on her part. For some reason, Jack was quiet.

"Listen, Kaia, I know that you're starting to learn about the full extent of your capabilities," Jack said after a stretch of silence much too long for Kaia to be comfortable. Though it wasn't as if comfort was something she'd expected from her time with this man. "And I want to help you do that, but honestly, child, if you try to peer into my head one more time I won't help you."

He knew, then. He hadn't underestimated Kaia as severely as she'd hoped; still, she could make this work. "Help me? Help me do what?" Kaia asked.

Jack sighed and looked at her, his eyes telling Kaia that he held secrets; it was like he was dangling them in front of her. Catch them if you can. "Understand yourself. What you can do."

Kaia frowned, "And how do you suppose you can do that? You don't know anything about me?"

His first response was a light laugh, a sound that made the air buzz. And then his face darkened and he turned in his seat so that his eyes could stab directly into Kaia's heart. "I'm a very well informed man, Kaia. I know everyone's secrets, including yours."

"I don't have any secrets."

"Don't lie, Kaia. Not to me. Everyone has secrets," he said, relaxing back into his chair, "You let me inside your head, Kaia. All I had to do was take a quick stroll through your memories, and I knew everything there was to know about you."

The thought made Kaia's stomach roll and her palms sweat. Having this man, a murderer, see her most profound, most treasured memories? Letting him see her soul, touch it all he wanted? It was revoltingly invasive and so much worse than unwelcome. "I don't believe you," Kaia said.

Jack smiled, "No, you do. You don't want to. Would it help if I told you your biggest fears?"

Kaia's mouth went dry. "No, I-" She didn't need to hear them. She didn't want to know what they were. But that didn't stop him.

"Losing the rest of your family," he said immediately, not looking at her, "That's your biggest fear. Not losing your own life, but losing them."

He finally turned to look at Kaia, and when he did, his face had changed. His eyes were dark, the previously startling blue turning to a stormy whirlpool of grey. His voice didn't betray his emotions, but Kaia knew that there was a spark of hate in his words. "Just like your mother."

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