Sixteen – 06

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

“It’s not an easy responsibility to shoulder,” she said, her gaze still on him even as he assiduously avoided returning it.  Bryant kept his eyes trained on David, watching his friend in the faint lamplight as his eyes darted beneath their lids—caught in another dream.

Always another dream.  Always another something.  Always looking out for them because no one else can the way I can.  None of them ever really trusted any of the actual adults—not really, not completely.  Everyone just seemed too closed off after Aoife left, and the ones who didn’t know her very well just thought we were all weird, I guess.

“No,” Bryant managed to say.  “It’s not.  It’s always been hard, but I—I don’t know.  At first it was just because all of the adults in the room always seemed to have more important things to be doing.  It just got worse after David’s mother left.”

“Aoife.”

A chill shot through him and he stiffened.  How could she know that?  “We never said her name in that meeting, did we?”

“You didn’t,” she confirmed softly.  “But I can see her brother in your friend’s face.  I’m sure if you looked at Phelan long enough, you’d see it, too, and I’ve spent a lot of time looking at that face.  I would know his nephew—Aoife’s son—anywhere even though I only met her briefly a long time ago.”  She smiled slightly and her gaze, too, strayed back toward David.  “Gray is his father, isn’t he?”

Bryant swallowed hard and nodded, feeling oddly numb.  “Yeah.  How do you know?”

“They came here once,” she said.  “It was a long time ago—before any of your friends were born, obviously.  I imagine that she was probably pregnant when they finally got back to wherever you all were raised.”  A soft sight escaped her as she looked back toward Bryant again.  “You know, every time Cameron rode out toward the east, he would always look, always listen, hoping to find some trace of where you all were.  He’s neve been able to find it.  That place where you all were raised must have been pretty isolated.”

“It was,” Bryant said, lips barely moving.  “But that’s how they wanted it, I think.  I don’t know why, but I think it was a choice.  I never had the guts to ask.  Maybe—maybe someday if I get back there again, I will.”

She nodded.  “You’re safe here, you know.”

“I know.  But we have our quest and it needs to be fulfilled.”  He swallowed hard against the rising lump in his throat, staring at David.  “No matter what the cost.”

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