April 21, 2084
Niki followed Robert like a shadow—a very desperate shadow—and though shadows were necessary, sisters meant more. When Niki was around, I kept my arm locked on Serena at all times. Even though everyone was well aware of Niki almost taking Serena out of the world, I seemed to be the only person who remembered.
"You're my guardian angel," Serena had joked.
But I took my job seriously.
"You think he likes her?" I asked as I laid my head playfully on Serena's shoulder.
I expected her to frown, to show some sort of emotion, but she simply smiled.
I groaned and straightened up as we continued to walk back toward the house. After traveling through Southern Vendona, searching for scraps or food, I looked forward to resting on the couch all night. Still, I had enough energy for gossip.
"Niki," I muttered as I flicked my hand in their direction. Ten—maybe fifteen feet—in front of us, Niki and Robert walked south. Though he talked quietly, she giggled loudly. I could barely stand it. "Don't you think she likes Robert?"
Serena's nose scrunched up. "She's thirteen."
"So?" I asked. "You are, too."
She laughed, though I didn't hear the joke. "Exactly."
I tore away. "No, not exactly," I played. "Don't you like him yourself?"
At this, Serena blanched. "Robert?" she repeated, incredulous. I could hardly believe it either. "He's practically my brother," she said, but turned her face so I couldn't see her whole expression. It seemed...off.
"Right," I hummed, but as I caught up to her, she didn't let me slide my arm in with hers. We walked in silence for a few minutes, only listening to Niki's laughter and the spring weather around us. For once, I could breathe in Vendona. I could even see. April was a rare month where the allergies weren't terrible, the humidity didn't drown passerbys, and the sun didn't shine too bright.
We didn't travel during the day often, but Robert liked April. Robert said April was the best month. I half-suspected it was his birthday or some other kind of marker he kept to himself.
He lived off of secrets.
And I bet that was why he liked Serena, too.
She seemed to know everything.
"So," I continued to tread carefully, "do you think he likes her?"
Serena eyed Niki thoughtfully, almost nonchalantly. "No." But I heard the rest in her tone, like any sister would. Not in that way. Not really. Not yet anyway.
"It'd be weird, wouldn't it?" I asked, thinking of how our little Southern Flock family had changed in only a year. Where it had once been Robert and Serena and their stolen home, it was now Robert and Serena and Niki and me. But only I seemed to hear Serena and Robert staying late up into the night, whispering and laughing and talking about pretty things.
Once I heard him tell her about the sea in Eastern Vendona. Another time I heard her tell him a fairy tale about a cat and a piano. Then, they laughed because neither knew what a piano was. I had a feeling Robert was lying, and Serena knew it, too. In fact, I had a feeling Serena liked that about him. Sometimes, lies were fun things. Other times, necessary.
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Bad Bloods PrequelTeen Fiction
Before the Bad Bloods novels, twenty-four homeless bad bloods had to find shelter and safety in a city set out to eradicate their kind. These are those origin stories.