Author’s Note: I admit, Occie’s accusation made me very uncomfortable.
Cress jerked away from her, staring at her in disbelief. He didn’t know how his sister, of all people, could think he was capable of that. He was a monster in many ways, and he’d ruined all of their lives, but he didn’t do that.
“No. Cress never did that. We might not have been there when your parents died, none of us saw it happen, but that doesn’t mean that it was him,” Enya said, putting her hand on his arm. He looked down at it, unable to lift his eyes from her fingers, the smooth lines of her hand. “It was probably that bastard we went up against earlier, but we don’t have any way of knowing that.”
“Or it was some of our parents. The only ones we put in the ground before then were Enya’s, so why the hell not one of ours?” Moira shook her head. “None of us know how the Landons died, and there was no retrieving the bodies of my parents from the bottom of that mountain. Not by anything we knew how to do or were capable of at the time. Sherwin and I tried, but we couldn’t even see the car. Who’s to say any of our parents were really ‘dead’ when we thought they were?”
“Oh, this just gets more and more twisted.”
Cress moved over to the window. He couldn’t think right now. He had to admit, when his parents had told him that Enya should die, he’d wanted to kill them. He’d wanted to make their deaths long, slow, and painful, but he’d never been that good at defying them. He kept the peace, didn’t rock the boat, that was what he did. If there was something that would cause a division, he kept it to himself. He didn’t go looking for fights. He just wanted to find a way to give them all a chance, and he’d thought that he could do it by sending Enya away and working with the others to stop the rogues. They’d had almost a full year without any interference from them, and he’d discussing parting ways with them when the “agents” showed up and forced them back on the run.
He had wanted something simple, but they couldn’t have simple, could they?
“Cress, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that or doubted you, but I thought, if they’d threatened someone you loved—and you love all of us—that you might have thought you had no choice. You’d do anything for us, right or wrong, and you have, but not that.”
He didn’t look away from the window. “Leave me alone, Occie. Please.”
“For now. I just… I can’t leave it like this forever.”
He turned back and touched her face. “Our bond is way too strong for it ever to get broken. Bruised and stretched near that point, but we’ve always come back from it in the past, no matter what one of us said or did.”
“I never accused you of murder before.”
“True, but you had a lot to say about me playing favorites, and that made me plenty angry. I just need some time.”
She nodded, stepping back and returning to the others. He put a hand on the glass and watched the rain start to fall. His mood made controlling that impossible, and he didn’t feel like stopping it even if he should.
“Guilt will destroy you. Remember telling me that?”
He shook his head. “Enya, I just made my sister leave. Why would I want you here?”
“Oh, I know you don’t want me here. I just know you need someone to push you at the moment, and I was always the best at that. Occie was right about one thing—your parents did a real number on you. When they died, I bet you were relieved and hated yourself for it.”
He nodded. “Yeah. It was like getting a gift in some sense, and yet at the same time, it scared the hell out of me because I knew what was coming. They’d want me to lead, and I knew how terrible I’d be at it, and I knew that my ‘best’ would never be good enough. I wanted to run and abandon everyone. Maybe I should have.”
“Don’t say that. You know you’ve held them all together for years now.”
“But did we ever need to be together? All I knew about rogues was from my parents. Who’s to say they’d ever have been a threat if we’d all decided to go our separate ways and lead normal lives? Well, as normal as we freaks can get. You didn’t have any problems until I made the agency cross your path.”
“We’d have settled close enough to each other where it might still have happened. This is family, Cress. All of us. We’ve all been family, even if I wasn’t a part of it for a while. All I wanted you to tell me about when you called was how everyone was, and I could see your smile when you’d tell me about their antics. You know you never shared any of the bad times? You always made me smile, let me share in those good times… You’d talk right until I fell asleep. I looked forward to those calls, even if they sometimes meant a nightmare after you were off the line.”
He touched her cheek. “Sending you away was hard. I didn’t want to do it, but I wanted you to have a chance.”
“You would have let me stay if I’d wanted to, if I refused to go.”
“Yes. I… I wouldn’t have forced you to go. I might have threatened to order you to, but you’d have defied me and stayed, and I wouldn’t have been able to stop you.”
“I miss looking at the clouds with you.”
He winced. That was one of his stupider tricks. “I haven’t done that in years.”
“You haven’t done anything for yourself in years. Admit it.”
He shook his head. She didn’t understand. He was a selfish bastard, and he’d stolen plenty of moments for himself. He’d made excuses to take them, and he would have gone on doing it if the “agency” hadn’t intervened. “Trust me, I did. I just have simpler pleasures than most.”
She shook her head. “When we get Stone back, I want you to do something you really want. To travel somewhere you really want to go or rekindle things with Hannah or something…”
He grimaced. “No to the last one. Maybe the first one, but only if we do enough damage to their organization that we’ll all be safe.”