Chapter Thirty Six ~ Unfathomable

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By the time the knocking registered, I was almost certain Aiden would leave before I made it to the door.

He'd been knocking for a while, I realized. The knocks were growing louder, more frantic, more frequent.

I hoped he wouldn't leave. I didn't think he would; he already came all the way here. But it was cold outside and I still hadn't answered the door.

Finally, I dragged myself out of the corner behind the couch I had stuffed myself in, keeping the blanket wrapped tightly around me as I opened the door, letting in a blast of chilly air. Aiden stood there, one hand stuffed into the pocket of his thin coat, shoulders hunched against the cold, and fist raised in mid knock. I took an automatic step backwards out of the reach of his fist, but he didn't seem to realize the reason for my retreat, instead taking it as a welcome into my apartment.

He took a step forward over the threshold, closing the door behind him, banishing the cold, and drew me in for a hug. I simply stood there, clutching the blanket to myself and finding that I did not want to push him away.

"Aiden..." He pulled away so he could see me, and I realized that words wouldn't come. "You came," I finally marveled after several long moments. "It's late."

"I don't mind walking for a bit in the cold to see you." He gave me a smile, then glanced around the room; it was just as bare as the first time he'd seen it, and his smile slipped into a frown. I pulled the blanket tighter around me.

"You alright?" he asked slowly, eyeing the broken teacup on the floor of the kitchen, the tipped over chair, and the blanket wrapped tightly around my shoulders.

I stood there, feeling awkward in my own skin, not knowing what to say. "I..."

He was silent, waiting for me to speak, but I had nothing I could say at the moment. "Do you want some tea?" he finally asked. I nodded, mouth still tightly closed, not trusting my voice to not betray me. "Okay," he smiled gently. "Sit down. It'll just be a moment."

I nodded again, and he entered the kitchen. After a moment, I slowly entered the living space, ignoring the small couch that wasn't nearly as comfortable as the couch I'd left at Aiden's--my old apartment--in favor of a corner of the room. I sank to the cold, hard ground, listening to Aiden right the chair, pick up the broken tea cup, and start the water boiling.

He finally returned with two cups of tea, joining me in the corner on the floor without question. Accepting the proffered mug, I held it between two hands, welcoming the searing heat. After several minutes of silence, I finally told him, "You'll never understand, y'know."

He didn't argue, simply watching me with dark eyes. "Maybe not," he admitted. "But that doesn't mean that you can't tell me."

And when he put it that way, everything suddenly seemed so simple in this complicated world. I returned my gaze to the tea in my cup, watching the steam spiral lazily from its surface as my mind both raced and stuttered to a stop.  "Okay," I agreed softly. "Okay."

At first, I couldn't force the words out, but eventually they fell from my mouth, and Aiden caught them before they could hit the ground. A cold part of my brain screamed against revealing this weakness, screamed and screamed and screamed, but the larger part of me was simply tired. So I talked, ignoring the fact that I might hate myself for this in the morning, ignoring the fact that this was a bigger risk than I should ever have been willing to take, ignoring the fact that I would never be able to rationalize or justify this sudden break in control.

We talked, and he soaked in the information with ease, without so much as a shudder, but that was because what I was giving him was nothing significant. Nothing with meaning. Nothing that would scare him away. Nothing that would make him hate me. I knew what would happen once he found out about that. About everything. About exactly what kind of monster had been teaching his little brother. With the weight of things unsaid our conversation slowly dragged and died down.

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