Twenty-four – 01

[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]

“You surprised me today.”

Kellin turned away from the edge of the ravine, her brow arching slightly. “What do you mean?”

I shrugged as I moved forward, arms crossed and hands tucked into the sleeves of my sweatshirt. It was getting damp and oddly chilly despite lingering summer, so much like the same day a year ago it made me ache in ways I’d almost forgotten. “I guess I just didn’t expect you to volunteer to go. I figured you’d want to stay here.”

She smiled faintly, glancing away again, watching the play of light and shadow among the leaves and branches above us. “Why’s that? Because of what happened the first time we had a major fight on our hands?”

“Well, yeah.” I hugged my arms a little tighter against my chest. “You’ve never really been all that keen on the whole fighting part. Surviving, doing everything we can to make this place defensible and a home, yeah. Being a voice of reason? Yeah. Marching off to war? I guess—I don’t know. I didn’t expect it.”

“Well, you hit it on the head,” she said. “Voice of reason, defensibility—that’s why I have to go. Matt’s right, if we don’t face them, I don’t know that our defenses will be enough. I think we’ve just gotten lucky the past few times and at some point our luck’s going to run out in a pretty serious way. If this is the moment, then at least it’ll be away from here.” She glanced back at me, staring for a few seconds. “You should stay behind.”

I rocked back against my heels, feeling gut-punched. “What?”

“Someone has to lead them if this goes sideways,” she said. “Someone has to get the people who stay behind to safety and I think you can do that.”

“Neve’s staying,” I said. “She can handle it.”

“They’ll need you.”

“They won’t,” I said, swallowing hard. “Because we’re not going to lose. It’ll be okay.”

“You sound pretty sure.”

The truth was, I wasn’t nearly as sure as I sounded. “That’s because I am,” I lied. “It’ll be okay. We’re going to win this one. I’m sure of it. We’ll be fine.

We’ll be fine. Everything will be fine.

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