Zane leads me through the back door of the restaurant. No one seems to notice our disappearance. The back door behind the counter leads to a hallway.
"These are all the bedrooms. Everyone you just met lives here and sleeps in one of these rooms," Zane explains.
He continues down the hall and pulls me with him. At the very end of the hall is another door. Zane opens it and I see stairs. He leads me up them and I find that we're on the roof. The air is so crisp and clean, it's a giant breath of fresh air after being in that place with so many people.
I look up to see a clear night. There's not a single cloud in sight. The moon is bright and full. The dark sky is filled with bright stars twinkling everywhere.
"It's a great night to look for constellations," Zane says, breaking the silence. "Do you know any?"
"No. I've always lived in the woods where there's too many trees to see the stars," I explain.
"Oh, well, do you see that one there?" He traces the air underneath the stars and I nod seeing what he means. "That's Virgo, the Zodiac sign. And over there--" Zane traces a different shape. "That's Libra, the sign after Virgo. They're both in the sky because it's September eighteenth, so the signs are changing soon."
"I see," I say nodding. "I think my Zodiac sign is Taurus."
"When is your birthday?"
"Oh, that'd be right. My birthday is September first. I'm a Virgo."
"Like what you just showed me."
He smiles. "Yeah, exactly. Do you see that bright star right there?" Zane points to it.
"Yes, it's the brightest. Isn't it the North Star?" I ask.
"Yeah. And there's the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper."
"How do you know all of these constellations?"
"Oakie's big on astronomy. He wants to become an astronomer, but he's working on getting the money for college."
"Why does it seem like all Outcasts are broke? Even the ones who hide their whole life what they are," I ask.
Zane shrugs looking at the sky. Then he sighs and turns to me. "Well, we're not broke, we're just not rich. It's called the middle class. But I guess I have nothing to worry about then."
"I thought you were an Outcast, too," I ask suspiciously. I can't stand when people lie to me. And lying about being an Outcast is the worst lie you could possibly tell me. You cannot just say that you're like me and have me assure that you understand then just turn it around and tell me you have lied the whole time.
"I sort of am. I come from an Outcast family... Kind of. My dad is a Rebel and my mom is an Outcast. So are Ash, Oakie, Merriam, Alphonse and Marni. So far I haven't developed any special abilities, though," Zane explains to me.
"I know I should probably be happy that I'm just a Rebel. They're less likely to be harmed or killed. But most of my family has Outcast blood. I almost feel left out." He shakes his head and laughs to himself. "It sounds stupid."
I shrug at that last sentence. "I don't even have a family," I mumble. In the otherwise silent night, Zane hears it pretty clearly.
"What happened to them?"
"My mother, father and brother were discovered as Outcasts one day. I was with Valentia and hadn't known until I came home to find the bloody bodies on the floor in the living room. Right after that, I ran back to Valentia's house and told her everything. I stayed with her family for a few months and then decided to try and do things on my own."
"Oh. That'd be terrible to come home and find your family dead."
"I hate to think about it," I say, choking up. I can't cry. Not now. Not in front of someone I barely know.
"Then we'll talk about something else... What are your abilities?"
"I have heightened senses. It's nothing much, but it still makes me an Outcast."
"Ash can turn invisible. It's perfect for him because he can pull pranks better that way. Oakie can communicate with animals. My mother has healing powers. Marni can manifest things out of thin air and Alphonse can shape shift. I'm the only one without anything."
I nod. Then I stare up at the stars. I have nothing more to say. I've basically just told him my life story and he's told me his. I guess none of it matters because I really don't plan on seeing him again after tonight. It's not like we'll become friends after this. Technically he owes me for saving him, but I don't think I'll be sticking around long enough for him to pay me back. I hope he knows this.
"I have so many questions," Zane blurts out.
I'm taken by surprise. "For me?"
"Yes. Do you mind? If I ask, that is?"
"No." I guess it won't hurt anything.
"Do you have a home?" He starts.
"I guess you could call the woods my home,"
"But do you live in an actual house?"
"Oh. You could always stay here. I-if you ever need it. We have two extra rooms, four extra beds."
"Thank you, but I don't take charity."
"I'm not in need of help."
"Why do you think that?"
I look down at my hands. That is a good question. Why do I think I don't need any help?
"Pass," I say.
"What?" He asks.
"I don't have to answer all of your questions, correct? It is my business."
"Correct. Sorry. If you have no house, no family, and you don't take 'charity', then how do you get money, for food and clothes?"
I gag at the thought of it. Drugs. I can smell that shit just by thinking about it. "Pass," I say sort of gagging.
He laughs. "What? Are you a burglar?"
"Worse. Just don't ask."
"Okay." Zane's still laughing. "Have you ever been to school?"
"Not a day in my life," I reply.
"Yeah. My parents were always too scared to take me and my twin brother into public, or to let us be known. That's why I've lived in the woods my whole life. And somehow they were still discovered."
"That answers about three other questions... How did you meet Valentia?"
"My brother and I were wondering in the woods and stumbled across her village. We got in so much trouble with our parents that day."
"Oh." Zane appears to be thinking.
I look up at the sky. The contrast of bright stars on the black sky is amazing. It's something I never see in the woods. I've only seen it few times I was with Valentia in her village.
"Do you have any questions for me?" Zane asks me out of nowhere.
"Uh, not really," I say.
"Come on, I just asked you about ten questions and you have none for me? Absolutely nothing?"
"Well, let me think... So, your name is truly Zane Macias? That's not a made up name at all?" I ask.
"Nope. That's the name I was given at birth. I suck at making up names," Zane says.
"How many lies have you told me so far?
"So far... I can honestly say I've never lied to you.
"How much of what I just told about myself do you think you'll actually remember?"
"Not much," he laughs. "I have a terrible memory. You'll probably have to remind me of some of it."
Great. He thinks he'll see me again. What an idiot. Does he think we're best friends now? We are far from it.
"Do you actually believe that you'll see me again?"
I kind of regret asking it, or at least saying it in the way I did. His face falls. The light in his green eyes seems to go out. He must feel stupid and it's my fault. For some reason I start to feel bad.
"Well, I guess not," Zane says, with a slight laugh. "At least now that you've said that."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way," I try to save myself.
"No, it's fine. You're not a social person, I can tell.
"I'm sorry if we caused you and your family any trouble from this visit. I'm going to go find Valentia and were going to leave, okay?" I say, heading towards the door to the stairs.
"Wait," Zane says. He grabs my arm to stop me. I don't bother turning around. "Can't you guys stay a little bit? I mean, it's late. You and Valentia can spend the night. I understand that you both plan on disappearing after this, but I can't let you guys leave when it's so dark outside."
I turn around and look him in the eye. "We've both traveled under much harsher conditions than a dark night. We made our way to the jail and back here in this darkness tonight," I say. I just want to leave so I can breathe and forget.
"Please? It'll make me feel better."
"I'm going to talk to Valentia. But I don't need your charity!"
"Sorry for offering, jeez."
I turn and run down the stairs. I slow down in the hall before opening the door to the restaurant l look back. Zane hasn't followed me. I almost wonder why, but he's probably disappointed that were "ditching" him, God knows why. Finally heading into the restaurant, Valentia bounces up and rushes over to me.
"Before you can refuse, I'm telling you that we are using the guest room tonight. I'm really tired. It's late. I know that's not usually a problem, but we've never been offered things like this before," Valentia says. Then she lowers her voice. "Plus, I really like the food here."
I look down and shake my head in an attempt to clear it. "Fine," I tell her. At least that'll make Zane happy, or at least whine less for a bit.
Valentia looks at me weirdly. "You're seriously okay with this?"
"It's fine. I mean, I want to escape this place ASAP, but I'm way too tired to fight right now."
"Want to go to bed?"
Valentia goes over to Mary. I follow.
"Mary, where is the guest room were using tonight?" she asks.
At that moment, Zane walks in through the back door.
"Oh, Zane can show you," Mary says glancing I've this way. "Zane, show them to the guest room."
"Okay." He nods for us to follow. We walk into the hall with all of the bedrooms. I count five door on each side of the hall. Zane takes us to the middle one on the right. "This is the one guest room. There are two twin-sized beds. Down the hall is the bathroom." He points. "Good night. I'm right across the hall if you need anything," Zane disappears into his room, closing the door forcefully but not quite slamming it.
"Is he okay?" Valentia asks me as I open the door to our room and walk in.
I lay down on the bed to the left. "How should I know. He's probably fine." I shrug it off.
"Are you sure? Where'd you two go when you disappeared?"
"Hmm, I hadn't realized that people would notice I was gone."
"Of course I'd notice. It's not often you trust someone else besides me anymore."
Is she serious? "I don't trust him though."
"Oh really? Then why did you disappear with him?"
"I don't know. Probably cos he seems so weak and innocent. Even if h had tried to pull something, I am confident that I could've taken him."
"So you trusted him."
"I trusted myself."
"Can you just admit it already?" Valentia is still standing in the middle of the small room. Her arms are crossed and she looks me right in the eye. I makes me wonder what she wants me to admit so badly.
Instead of caring, I stay laying down and sigh. "Admit what?"
"Don't play dumb."
"It is not playing dumb when you don't make things clear enough for me to understand.
She flops down on her bed and rolls her eyes. "Just admit that you actually trust these people. It's not that hard to do."
"Why exactly would I admit something that's not true?" I ask sitting up in the bed.
"Well, quite honestly, I know that it's true. It's just that I want you to admit it to yourself. I know that you're capable of trusting people. You're just to guarded to realize it.
"Yeah, whatever," I mumble. She doesn't hear it. "And what do you mean by 'I'm so guarded'?"
"You protect yourself too much by shutting people out before even getting to know if they are okay or not. You need to stop being so suspicious and quit assuming everyone's against you. These people are like you! They're Outcasts! They obviously won't sell you out to the Government."
Ahh, the Government. They are the people who rule the world. The ones who decided it was perfectly fine, and even encouraged, to kill every single Outcast alive. And murder every Rebel standing in the way. They're such great people.
"You can never be too careful," is all I say.
"Yes, you can. And that's exactly what you've become," Valentia says.
Great, a lecture. I avoid her gaze.
"What happened to you? When we were younger, everything was fine. You knew how to have fun, how to live. But now," she shakes her head. "You're so boring and you barely talk to me. I don't even know you anymore, really. It's pathetic, Sienna."
I take a breath in attempt to not blow up. "How long have you been sitting on his thought?"
She shrugs. "A while now."
I nod. I can't help it. "Well, things were better back then. My family was alive back then! They knew nobody. They were close to nobody. And they were still murdered for being Outcasts! And you have the nerve to wonder why I'm so suspicious? That's what is pathetic, Valentia. Maybe you should walk in someone's shoes before you go judging who they are and why!"
"I don't care anymore!"
I cover up with the blanket and turn my back to her. I hear her sigh. She gets up and turns out the light.
I'm running. As fast as I can through the woods. He's beside me again. It's been so long. I think I've forgotten his name.
Damn, what's his name!? I know we share a last name, but...
"Run faster!" He screams at me. "They're coming!"
I sprint as hard as I can. It doesn't feel like enough. Looking behind me I can't see them. Where are they? I can hear the thousands of feet running behind me. It's too dark in the woods to see how close they are. At least, behind me it is. In front of me it's bright as day.
I stop short despite my need to get away. Where is he?!
"Hey! Where did you go?" I look all around me. He's nowhere in sight, and neither are they. "Where are you?!" I feel myself crying. I'm alone again. I'm so alone! I have no one and the footsteps are becoming so much closer and more urgent. "Where'd you go? What's your name?"
"I'm here, Sienna." He appears beside me.
They catch up. They surround us. There's nowhere to run anymore. No way to escape the men with guns and knives aimed at us. We're Outcasts. We should've seen it coming.
"What's your name?" I whisper to him.
"You don't remember, Sienna? How could you forget me?" He screams at me.
A bullet is shot through his heart.
I can't look. The tears are coming more and more. How come I've forgotten his name?
All of the guns are aimed at either my heart or head. One of the triggers are pulled. I hear it.
Then I wake up.
Breathe... Breathe... Just breathe, Sienna!
I try to listen to myself. I look around in the dark bedroom. My eyes quickly adjust. Valentia's still sleeping. I am still crying.
I sit up. Are there tissues in here? Nothing.
I get up and quietly sneak out the door. Once I know Valentia's still not awake, I go down the hall to the bathroom. I see the light on through the crack under the door. I knock.
"Hold on," a boy's voice says. Is it Ash's voice? No, not quite.
I hear the toilet flush he opens the door. It's Alphonse.
"Hey, are you okay?" Alphonse asks.
"I'm fine. I just had a really bad dream," I say.
"You sure everything is okay?"
"Yeah." I push past him and close the bathroom door. He left the light on. I look at myself in the mirror.
"Well then. Somebody's moody," I hear Alphonse say. His footsteps travel away from the door.
How could I forget his name? It's only been five years, right? I was eleven. I'm sixteen now. And I forgot his name. Wait, what was his name?
I have to think for a moment. It makes me cry more. I sit down in front of the sink. I can't watch myself cry in the mirror.
Okay, calm down, Sienna. Think. You know his name. His last name was Follese. His first name was... Bael. Bae for short.
I let out a sigh of relief.
That's it. His name was Bael Phobos Follese.
I still want to slap myself for forgetting my own brother's name.