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"So..." Ainika looked at him. Here it came. The question everyone just had to ask.

"My mom was raped by an American businessman. Some cruel twist of genetic fate left me with his appearance." Ainika spit the words out quietly, but she didn't look at Caden when she said them. No matter how many times she said it the words never became any easier.

"Oh." He opened his mouth and closed it again. When he didn't say anything, Ainika slowly risked a glance at him. Surprisingly, he didn't look at her with pity, instead he looked angry.

"And I suppose he never got in trouble for any of it."

"Of course not," she scoffed. "She was just a hotel maid, she doesn't even matter to anyone." A steel edge lit her voice.

"She matters to you, doesn't she?"

"Yes, but..." Ainika couldn't give voice the end of her sentence. Her mom did matter to her, but she did not matter to her mom. Her mom had never wanted a child, and she took out her hatred of the world on her daughter. She knew she was a visible reminder of what had been done to her, and she hated it. She hated that her mom had wounds that would never heal, and every day she reopened those wounds. She supposed that her curse was her payment for being such a hurt to her mother. Maybe if she saved enough people, she could eventually save her mom. She turned away from him and moved against the far wall, not wanting Caden to see her crying. She wished she could be strong, but the truth was that she was falling apart slowly. She pulled her knees to her chest and laid her head down.

She felt movement beside her, and opened her eyes slightly to see that Caden had moved next to her. He held his hands out gently, and Ainika lifted her head. She looked at him for a moment, and his gentle smile faded. He started to pull his hands away, but before he could Ainika leaned against him. He wrapped strong arms around her , and she started to cry even harder. She couldn't remember the last time someone had touched her willingly, even María didn't usually hug her.

They sat there like that for several minutes. Finally, Ainika stopped crying. She moved from his arms and wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm supposed to be the one that doesn't need help, I shouldn't..." She stopped talking as Caden took her hand.

"Ainika, don't ever apologize for needing help. You save everyone, but who saves you? I think people forget that you're human too."

He put his arms around her again, and this time Ainika hugged back. How had this boy, who she had known for barely an hour, already have made her feel more wanted than she ever had felt before? A tear slipped out and she quickly wiped it away. She let go of the embrace and looked at him.

"Thank you." Her voice was so fervent, she hoped he could tell that she meant more than words could express. He smiled, and she knew he did. This boy had so much goodness in him. Then a spark of anger came over her as she remembered why he was here. "Why did those men tie you to the track?"

"I told you. They wanted you to come save me. They—well, he—wants to capture you and use you."

Ainika went pale. "Who wants to use me?"

"His name is Everett."

Ainika fell backward into the floor of the train car, shaken. Caden held out a hand to her and she took it. "What's wrong?"

"That's...that's the man who..." She shook her head. She couldn't finish the terrible sentence.

"He's the man who raped your mom, isn't he?" Caden said softly. Ainika could only nod, her throat and chest contrasted to much to speak.

Caden reached out and took her hand. "Breathe. Is this okay?" She nodded, she appreciated him caring for her and not forcing her into touching. Their eyes met, and something unspoken passed between them. Caden nodded, that one movement full of conviction. "We're gonna beat those assholes."

This simple sentence was enough to let Ainika breathe again. She smiled half heartedly. "I believe you mean those chingados."

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