So my brother- the one person who I thought really cared about me- now hates me. I suppose you could say I deserve this- a point that I wouldn’t argue. I suppose you could call this just another chapter to add to my already miserable life.
I had no way of telling whether or not time passed, since the space had no light of its own. Nothing changed. Just the same grey-white walls, and no natural light. And of course, Kalla and Elle, who both were asleep at the moment.
I probably should have been sleeping too, but I couldn’t make myself rest. Despite the monotony, I was full of adrenaline, and the silver burned at my wrists. Elle would murder me if she realized that was causing me pain and I hadn’t told her, but I didn’t want to make her any more worried than she already was. Honestly, I don’t know why she bothered. What made me so special that she’d decided to treat me like more than the mutant I am?
I had already resolved not to ask her that- the last time I’d pushed her away, it had come back to hurt me later.
I quickly forced myself off of that topic. I couldn’t think about my feelings for Elle now- I had to have a clear head for talking to Kyle. One thing I’ll admit I envied him for- he was very easy going around girls, whereas I could barely think straight.
All right, enough, Finn. I thought, shaking my head to clear it. Focus on survival first. Then you can daydream after. But don’t think this will end with anything for you.
I closed my eyes, leaning my head back against the wall. And naturally, that was exactly when Kyle opened a space above us, dropping down into the room.
“Wake up!” he said, kicking me in the side. I winced, pulling away from him and opening my eyes.
“I was awake,” I replied. “Stop yelling. You’ll wake the girls up, and they deserve a rest at the moment.”
“Aw, too cute,” he grinned. “Have you made up your mind yet?”
“About what?” I sighed. I reminded myself to tolerate him.
“Which girl is actually yours,” he replied. “You can’t have two.”
I shook my head, forcing my usual amused smirk back onto my face. “We haven’t seen each other for years, and this is what you choose to talk about? Girls?”
“Why not?” he grinned. “I did tell you we would talk.”
“But not here.”
“And why is that?”
“Because if Elle wakes up right now she might actually kill you, and there’s nothing I can do to stop her.”
“The red head?”
“That’s a… casual description of her,” I muttered. I was tempted to snap, she’s my red head, so back off! But I managed to hold my tongue again. I was trying to reason with Kyle, not get into a fight with him.
“Fine, we’ll take this elsewhere,” he replied. He didn’t even bother to move. One second we were in the room, and the next we were outside of the building, in the wastes of Koran again. Kyle pulled me to my feet, and we started walking, though I’m not sure where we were going.
“So you wanted to talk?” I said after a moment of silence.
“Yes, as a matter of fact I did,” he replied. “I thought I could have a proper conversation with you, oathbreaker.”
“Hardly,” I replied, showing him my palm. The scar was still there- the day Kyle and I had each cut our palms and declared ourselves brothers. “You think I would have gotten this healed?”
“Whether or not you have the scar, that doesn’t mean we’re still brothers!” he snapped. “You left me, Finn. In the wastes, no one survives without a blood brother. Did you ever think of that?”
“Kyle,” I sighed, aggravated. “We were eight! I didn’t have a choice then.”
“You’ve always had a choice, Finn,” he rolled his eyes. “You always could have come back.” He sighed, shaking his head. “Listen. I may hate you, but that doesn’t mean I want Tara to kill you. I might be able to save your life. You’d get what you wanted- your brother back, and a home where people actually appreciate you. I’d get what I want- my stupid, stupid brother back, and Tara, of course.”
His offer actually caught me off guard. I’d assumed Kyle was lining up behind Tara to kill me, but apparently that wasn’t his first plan.
“And my friends?”
“Why do you care?” he raised his eyebrows. “Finn, you never got attached to anything when we were brothers. And now you’ve got not one, but two girls. And not only that, but you’re willing to turn down my offer for them?”
“The normal world isn’t like the wastes, Kyle,” I replied. “We don’t always fight with each other. You can make a friend without them stabbing you in the back. Those two are the most dependable and trustworthy people I’ve ever known. And I’d die for both of them.”
Kyle shook his head. “Finn, you’ve gotten way too attached. Nothing is worth dying for. You can’t really care that much about those two. And they can’t really care that much about you. Have you even told them the entire truth yet? Do they know how much of a mutant freak you are?”
That one stung. I changed tactics. If Kyle wanted to play that game, then I’d have to play it right along with him.
“Are you jealous?” I raised my eyebrows. “You’ve got one girl, who hates you. I’ve got two, and they’re everything you look for. And unlike you, I don’t let them make a complete puppet out of me.”
He raised his eyebrows, obviously impressed by my comeback. “What changed? A minute ago you were too afraid to even look at me, and now this?”
In truth, I was still afraid of him. There were plenty of terrible things that could happen. And Tara was fully intent on making good on her threat- I knew that much.
“Kyle, you won’t even listen to me talk,” I rolled my eyes. “I thought away from Tara I could talk some sense into you. What’s Tara going to give you that you can’t get yourself? She’s going to get rid of you when she’s done, and personally I don’t want my brother to have to deal with heartbreak. I still care about you, and if you’re too much of an idiot to see that, that’s your problem, not mine.”
He shook his head. “You’ve got some pretty convincing words, brother, but that’s not how things work. How do I know you won’t just use me as well, to help you and your two girlfriends escape? You might think you’re powerful, but Tara is much more powerful than you or your friends. You had one chance to make it out of this alive. You denied it. I’m sorry, brother, but if your friends matter more than your family, then there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“You know there’s such thing as friends and family, Kyle. It’s not one or the other.”
“Well, that’s your world, not mine. Sorry, but we’re not brothers anymore. You broke your oath, and sided with them. Personally, I don’t care if Tara does crack your head open and kill you. If you choose your two girlfriends over me, than fine.”
We started back towards the cabin in complete silence. Mentally, I cursed myself. I had been sure that I’d been able to convince him to change his mind, but he was completely obsessed with Tara- and not so quick to forgive as I’d thought.
We made it back. Tara was sitting on the small bed, messing around with a ball of light. She looked up when we entered. “I didn’t say you could go anywhere Kyle. And I especially didn’t say you could take him anywhere.”
“Sweetheart, I don’t see why he’s that special,” Kyle rolled his eyes from next to me. “I thought you were more focused on the other two. I mean, did you see the red head fighting? And then there’s your darkmage- bit of a rebel, isn’t she? Not to mention gorgeous…”
“Kyle, I will make you permanently blind if you don’t shut up,” Tara rolled her eyes.
“I hadn’t even gotten to you, sweetheart,” Kyle pointed out.
“I really don’t want to hear it,” she rolled her eyes. “Can you leave Finn and I to talk for a minute?”
“But-” Kyle protested.
He sighed, and stormed out.
Tara sighed, grinning after him. “He’s an idiot.”
“Your puppet strings are choking him,” I replied. “You really have no sympathy for anyone, do you Tara?”
“No one that gets in my way. Do you know why I haven’t killed you yet?”
“Aside from your overwhelming generosity?” I said sarcastically. “No idea.”
“Because that wouldn’t be fun,” she grinned. “You’ve driven me insane for several years, with your oh-so-important secrets, and uncaring attitude. And besides, I managed to get Kyle to talk to me. Imagine that- a mutant. I never would have guessed. Oh, and one other thing.”
“What’s that?” I asked, beginning to grow worried. How much had Kyle told her?
“The whole magic thing,” she remarked, eyes glimmering maliciously. “You have a problem now, don’t you. I know your secret. Imagine if the government found out what happened! Imagine how interesting that would be to them. Imagine how many innocent lives could be lost in the experimenting. All on your conscience. Because if you and your friends somehow escape, and manage to bring me back alive, I’ll tell them everything, and you’ll never see your friends again.”
“And if we kill you?” I replied.
“You don’t have it in you. Any of you,” she replied. “So really, I’m at an advantage. Your secret is safe with me- for now. But I’m ready to give it away whenever I need to. And then of course, there’s the matter of your two friends. Sure, Kallisto I might need for now, but the other one? Annella? She ended up here by chance. I don’t care about hurting her. You know I will.”
“What’s your point here, Tara?” I demanded. I could feel myself shaking slightly, though I wasn’t sure if it was from fear or anger. Possibly both. She was threatening Elle. My Elle. Who would kill me if she knew I thought of her like that. “What are you trying to get at.”
“The point is,” she sighed, “I have several advantages over you. I can make you do anything I want, or let your friend pay for it.” She smiled, though it was more of a smirk. “Do we have an understanding, Finn?”
I considered it. There really wasn’t an option here. I knew exactly how disastrous it would be if Tara told everybody what had happened with the wastes and my magic, including Elle and Kalla. I wondered if they’d still care so much if they found out how much of a mutant freak I really was. And of course, I couldn’t let her hurt Elle. As long as they were safe, what did I care?
“Yes,” I sighed, letting my head drop. “Yes, we do.”