Chapter 35 - Corners

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Chi spent the next ten minutes grilling me about the caliber of mage tutors the Vault housed. What skills they had, what their specialties were, personalities even. And though she didn't have her notebook out like the last time, it still brought back memories of that teaching session, going over words of Spoken this Clan would otherwise have never known.

As much as they didn't want to admit it, I could see the careful eagerness in Chi's dark eyes, in Spade's quiet lingering. Most of our kind never got training from mages, not anymore, certainly not an anonymous Clan like theirs. And though the twins looked mainly uninterested or annoyed that I had their leader's ear, again, I saw more than one look from Spade when I mentioned the Vault's prophet - though I doubted he would like Danny much after they met.

"Tell me about Ailech, your healer here." Spade's deep voice sounded like he was very much trying to sound less interested than he truly was.

I glanced around only partially for show, just to make sure he would never hear what I was about to say, though I knew he wasn't in the room.

"He is the best healer I've ever seen, best I've ever even heard of. And...he's a good man."

"And his family? His brothers?" Spade continued, watching me, the longest he had held my eyes since arriving.

"They were taken by a Fallen called the Collector, James' father. He killed and stole their bodies, just like Syn. It happened when he was a child."

"Why?" Chi and Spade spoke in unison, and a blush crawled her dark cheeks. He dropped his eyes respectfully.

"I think James' father wanted to stop him from using his abilities, but didn't know which brother had what he wanted, or would eventually have it. I don't know why he took their bodies. And I actually don't know how Ailech got away."

"He's smart." Chi stated matter-of-factly.

"Smart doesn't save you from the Collector, but he has certainly been through a lot and learned a lot because of it. He...has a role to play in what's coming against the Collector."

Chi's sharp jaw tensed as her dark eyes narrowed. I knew her question before she asked it.

"Do we play a role?"

"No. We didn't bring you here to use you, any of you, only to protect you."

"What is your role?" Halo spoke up for the first time.

"One part kamikaze soldier, one part sacrificial lamb?" I attempted a smirk.

"Avenge Syn first." Chi said with determination etched into the lines of her face, her dark eyes boring into mine. And though she didn't say it, I knew I was forgiven. Or, at least, she listening to Ailech's advice and her anger and revenge were turned to the Collector now, not me.

That was why she wanted to learn, to train. Though I knew no amount of training, no expert tutors could make her and her boys worthy foes of the Collector, I nodded, not knowing what else to say.

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I found myself in the closest mess hall only a couple of minutes after leaving Jordan, after wanting to kiss her and actually doing it. It felt strange wanting to kiss someone, to touch them without killing them. Strange, but not in an unpleasant way, just a foreign way, like when you try a new training and are sore in a regularly unused muscle.

But then my mind circled back to that evening in her room when my nature or past or perversion had taken over and I had wanted to both touch her and kill her. Yet another question for me to push to the back of my mind with no one to ask, not that I would ever have asked anyone even if they could know the answer. I didn't even know how I would explain it, articulate it. I barely could to myself. It was just another barrier I would never be able to scale, never overcome.

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