They did not want to come with me.
I could feel it in their emotions, like I could feel their hatred, disgust, and that little pang of sympathy from Tara that made me want to slam her head into a wall. But I didn't.
I must say, I think I have exercised amazing self control over the past few days.
"There are people listening here. People...people you would not care for to hear what I am about to tell you." I knew it to be true.
I knew I was being followed, and I suspected the girl was as well.
"It's not like you're saying anything that bad. Besides, why shouldn't we just go to the administration? They have the power, they can help." I refrained from rolling my eyes at what Tara said.
She was naive, and blindly obeyed these fools.
"You don't understand, do you?" I snapped back. "The person-or perhaps the people-most likely to have mastered that demon is someone IN the administration.
You go to them, and next thing you know, you're being murdered in your sleep"
Tara stared at me, her mouth open in shock. The girl-the powerful one with no control-stared at the floor, like she already knew this. She was grey inside, deep down.
Underneath a thin layer of bright bubbly colours she was grey and blue-melancholy and despair. Her sass and laugh and tone hid it all.
She was an actress, but she played a part I had seen a thousand times. I made a mental note of that.
When I asked if they knew any place perhaps more private, she was the one who took the lead, silent the whole way. I wondered whether this was frequent, or if she was silent and angry a lot.
I wondered if this is her real self, or if this is another layer of a character buried so deep she can't feel herself anymore.
She walks with her head low, her feet simply moving as if they know where to go. I can see her emotions, as hers are brighter, deeper than most.
She feels intensely, passionately, which is good and bad. Right now, it's bad. She's scared-petrified, a deep plum colour that grips at her chest.
She sad and angry, cerulean and ruby swirls flow everywhere. Her heart is a whorl of multicolour, featuring every hue in the rainbow. Complicated, complicated, complicated.
Tara? Less complicated. She's stressed, by the glowing orange around her head. She's sad and scared of her friend. She excludes a pulsing blue light, projecting confidence.
I shake my head, and the light recedes, and my vision turns back to normal.
We enter a rundown shed with damp, moss infected walls. The wood is plagued by rusty nails, and broken timber.
The floor is unpleasant to sit upon, but the girl nestles herself into the corner, which she must have done before, as it has no nails, nor moss,
and is shielded from the wind which blows through a gaping hole on one of the walls. Oh yes, she had certainly been here before.
Tara, however clearly had not been. She stared around this pitiful hidey hole in shock. She was clearly wealthy-in fact, I was quite sure I had heard her last name before.
The shed was silent, and I could feel Tara growing more anxious by the second, so I decided to speak.
"I believe proper introductions are in order. My name is Jackson, and you are?" I held out my hand. doubting they would take it.
Small steps. They'll trust you eventually.
To my surprise, Tara did step forward. "Tara. Tara Dayanae. And this is Jay" She motioned to the other girl, who was crouched down in the corner.
"Jayessa" She spat
"Excuse me?" I asked, knowing full well what she meant
"You will call me Jayessa, assassin" Her tone was scathing, bitter, to match her red rimmed eyes.
I smiled at them, mockingly. "And you know this, how?"
She smiled back, but with no humour. "When you know what to look for, it becomes clearer. Your talent, for one.
For another, you're a new student-in the second level-and you know everything already. And your last name-that's not your real last name, is it?"
So she did know, or at least, suspected. Fine. This was fine. They would trust me more if I admitted it, anyway.
But she said talent. not talents. There was one secret I could keep, one upper edge i had to manipulate.
"You have a good eye, Jayessa. That's not my last name. It was foolish, I'll admit. But, as you said-knowing what to look for makes everything easier." I drawled.
Tara looked openly shocked at, I suppose, my confession. I doubt anyone in my trade would so openly admit it. Jayessa did not look comforted in the slightest.
However, when I tilted my head, the ruby swirls had lightened slightly.
"What was it you wanted to say? Why are we here?" Jayessa demanded.
I had almost forgotten.
"You guys wanted to know about motives. About murder." I started. Tara flinched at the word, all the anger from our previous encounter drained out of here.
I suspect she practically never even expressed displeasure.
"Why would someone murder? That's a good question. The three common motives are revenge, money and love. Money we already ruled out. That leaves us with revenge and love.
Love, I think, we can also rule out. No one would go after me for love, and clearly the attacks were orchestrated by the same person. So, we have revenge.
Here it gets interesting, because everyone has a secret they hide that could be fatal. My attack could have perfectly well have been revenge.
Would there have been any reason that the girl would have been killed?" I ask. I listen carefully, closely to the answer, as this is an important question.
"No! She was my cousin, and she would never have done anything to incur murder!" Tara squawked.
A cousin. That is the word I latch on to in that sentence.
"Your cousin. Was there anything you could have done to prompt someone to murder?" I ask, but I doubt it. It's something else.
Tara squeaks, horrified. Jayessa scowls at me. She stands up, her fists clenched.
"What do you think happened that day, then?" She demanded of me.
"I don't know" I told her, quite truthully
"But you have theories..." She hedged, persistently.
I heaved a sigh, to show my annoyance. "I have ideas, but none are worth sharing"
Tara and Jayessa looked at me skeptically. Their expressions were crazy similar.
They didn't look alike, but they way their facial features shifted when they were angry or sad was practically the same.
"Well then, tell me why you aren't a killer anymore. Show me why I should trust you, assassin"
My blood ran cold. I shut down any emotions on my face. I was not going to tell them.
"I don't see how it's any of your business" I said, haughtily.
"I can't trust you if I don't know that you won't murder me in my bed! This could be a trick, or a trap! Maybe you're a spy, sent from your collective! Maybe you killed her!
How am I supposed to know?"
I felt my face heat up, and my blood boil. Fury ran through my veins. "I don't have a collective. Not anymore."
Jayessa looked slightly taken aback.
Tara tried a calmer approach. "We just need to know why. If you want our help their needs to be a certain bond of trust."
"How am I supposed to trust you?
She-I gestures to Jayessa-, if you haven't noticed blew up and tried to kill everyone in her sight! Twice! Not to mention the fact that you could go to the administration and ruin everything!
I am stacking everything on this, and you won't trust me!"
I should not have opened my mouth. I knew it as soon as the words came out. They could guess my secrets, my life. But I was incensed over their words. Lack of trust...
I had been told that my whole life. I didn't need another reminder.
Jayessa exploded too, but not-thankfully-in a fireball.
"Oh yeah, because you're mister high and mighty! Maybe I have an uncontrollable talent, maybe I have a demon inside of me! But you were an assassin! You had a choice! I didn't!
" She screamed back.
For a second, I could only smile as I felt my anger building inside of me. I could only smile as I felt a mountain of resentment bubbling. And then it erupted.
"I DIDN'T HAVE A CHOICE! I HAVE NEVER HAD A CHOICE!" I roared at her. I wanted to say more, but I couldn't.
"WELL MAYBE IF YOU TOLD US WHY, WE WOULDN'T BE ARGUING! MAYBE THIS WOULD BE DONE, AND I WOULDN'T HAVE TO WORK WITH FILTH LIKE YOU!" She hollered
I stopped. I breathed in, and out. Usually I had a far firmer handle on my emotions. It goes with the job. You can't throw a temper tantrum and spill all your secrets.
But that was exactly what I had done.
"So you accept"
"You just said that you're working with me. With filth. Are you?" I asked. My wrath was drained, poured out of me at the opportunity.
"I will. But you're going to have to tell me one day. You're going to have to. And. I need you to train me. Teach me how to move like you do. Teach me how to become a weapon.
" She seethed still, but her tone, like mine, had reverted to it's usual manner.
"Fine. Deal. And you?" I turned to Tara, who hadn't spoken this whole time. She had simply watched.
"Help me find the killer." She raised her gaze to meet mine. "Help me avenge her"
And I accepted, even though it was quite possibly the stupidest thing I had ever done. Agreements like this don't' last. But they hadn't exacted a promise. Who said I had to tell them anything?