“Who are you?”

on

“Look in your mirror. See me?”

I did see him, but when I turned I saw no one. It was as if Declan had
painted a picture and placed himself in front of me, but the image was of no
one. “What does it matter where I’m going? We’re going north. To my
grandma’s house.”

“Are you sure?” His eyes looked confused, but he nodded. “You don’t
know what to believe anymore.”

“I know what I believe. I have to follow my instincts, remember?” Once I
had gone with the Brigands, I had gotten it out of me to not question what I
was doing, just trust. That was what I believe now. “I want to go to
your house, and I want to spend the night there. We’re traveling light on
meagre supplies, and we need to reach the last town before we head north.”

He grunted. “You know they don’t have much food there. I’ll get you on a
plane, in a few hours,” in a few hours could be too late. “In the meantime, let
me buy you dinner. When you are stronger, you can buy me dinner for this.”

“You don’t have any money now,” he said, walking towards the door. “I have
one condition. Do whatever you have to do. I don’t want you to be hurt. They
might get violent. I don’t want you to be a target.” He glanced over at me, one
of his eyes now a little watery. “What about you, kid?”

“I don’t care, I don’t care what you do. If I feel better I’m going. I’ll
get my money.”

He sighed, but he opened the door. “Promise me you’ll leave the door open if
you want to see me again.”

I laughed, knowing he was serious. “I promise.”

We rode in silence the rest of the way to town. Once we stopped to purchase
a box of food. I had been so hungry, I could almost forget how tired I was.
The first step had been a difficult one, one I was certain would get me killed.
Once in the town, Declan bought us a few cold meals, and then, once again, we
sat in the empty diner bar, not leaving the door open the entire time.

“Who are you,” he asked, once again. He wasn’t asking me a question, he was
asking my opinion of my own life. “How do you live your life?”

“I’m not sure,” I shrug, “it’s different every time, with every decision
I make. Right now, with this decision, I have no control. I have no choice
about where my life goes from here. I have no choice if I want to stay here
and take my chances. I have no choice if I want to go with the Brigands.”

“You’re not going to be able to change any decisions. It’s up to you to
make the best decisions you can for yourself.” Declan ran his hand along my
shoulder, and looked at me. “You’re not the kid I used to know when we left
Bridgen. You’re not going to get hurt again.”

I shook my head, getting up from my seat and moving to the door. “I think
I like my life. I think I’ll leave and come back. I haven’t been back home
in four years.”

“Do you remember me?”

I smiled, he was wearing the same clothes, same shoes, same hair. “You
haven’t changed. Still the kid I used to know before I became a Brigand. I
never wanted any of this. All I wanted to do was stay here. I want to stay
here, and make my own decisions.”

That didn’t surprise me. I never had wanted this, but it didn’t surprise
me, either. It was fate, it was what fate planned for me. “I didn’t have any
choice in the matter either.”

Declan walked towards me and put a hand on my arm. “This is what I want for
me. For you to be safe. You didn’t have control in the beginning, not much
control at all. I knew you, I always knew you. Now, we’ll get you to your
grandma’s house. I promise. If anything happens to you, I never want
to see you again.”

I nodded, looking again at the door. “I hope you’re right.”

The door slammed shut again, and we got a good five minute breather. I
started picking up the box of food, eating my dinner, getting the best of both
worlds. It was nice to be able to eat, and for it not to matter anymore. I
took the box from my bag and went back to the bed with it. “I guess,” I
asked, “I guess you’re going to have to kill me now.”

He groaned and leaned over the bed, grabbing the bag and stuff it back in
his bag, then he stood. “I’m going to kill you if you don’t leave, I’m going
to kill you if you make me.” He left the room, slamming the door as he
left.

I was glad I had put a lock on the door before he disappeared.

The rest of the trip, he was on his best behavior, if not great. He bought
me drinks, and kept me company. When we reached my grandma’s house, he
handed me a car key and escorted me to the car. We drove to my grandpa’s, and
when we reached here, he handed me the key and went to the door. When he
opened it, he made an announcement. “I’m going to kill you.”

“Oh,” was all I could say.

He smiled, walked to the back of the house, and locked the door. “You’ll
probably get a few hours sleep in your own bed, but you won’t be alone for
long now.” He turned towards the door as he finished locking it. “That’s
not a request.”

“What happened to your grandpa?” I asked, as I realized I was
dealing with a man who could kill me easily, and my grandpa had made
his own rules. “How did you manage to take over his store and make sure he
died with everything he had?”

“It’s easy.” He looked at me, one corner of his mouth turned up. “He
made me a promise when we were young. He said if I stayed with him, he would
help me live the life I wanted to live. When he couldn’t pay me on time, I
killed him. I’m only sorry I had to do that.”

I was angry on his behalf but I had to admit, he was an interesting man.
“You never got that big store up and running again?”

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