Chapter Thirty-SixMature

A sudden flow of strength filled my body as I pulled the katana back over my shoulder and positioned it in place. I looked up to Hayden, the light reflected in his eye giving it a slight glimmer in the dimming sunlight.

With a laugh he turned to me. "Hey, get settled back in. I got to get back to training otherwise I'll have ANOTHER leture from Red." I jogged up beside him as he pushed upon the doors that led into the back of the City Hall and almost directly into a bust social point of the AFB. It felt weird as I stepped back into the low grumbles of noise that I had grown used to not being able to hear in both my captivation and the hospital.

"Another lecture? You've had one before?"

"Many." He laughed in return, not phased by what he had just said. "A lot more recently since many of the hospital visiting times fell the same as training and I would have rather been with you then being moaned at by Red." I couldn't help but laugh. Considering the fact that Hayden and Red had been Shield-Siblings for the good part of eighteen months, it was weird to see that they did not get along at all when not on the front line of everything.

I looked ahead of me as we walked side-by-side into the dorm. "Why does she treat you like she does?" The question ran out of my mouth and I couldn't help but ask it. If she had a problem with Hayden, why did she always save his back when he needed her support?

We exchanged glances from the corner of our eyes and he greeted me with a small smile. I knew from there that there was friction between the two of them and I made the decision to take a step back if anything kicked off.

For some reason, as I walked towards the door being held open for me by Hayden, I felt a jolt in my stomach and a wave of sickness rushed over me. I could only guess that it was home-sickness considering that only two days of being here before had lead me to return to the safety of my home only to be brought back.

My life just seemed like it was on a cycle. Always ending back in the same place I started. Like I hadn't gained anything but lost everything. What would it be this time?

Thanking Hayden with a smile, I headed back to my bed which I fell onto with a second thought. For the first night since I was last here would I be able to get a decent nights sleep without the fear of waking and discovering new bruises and cuts along my skin.

As I started to examine the smaller cuts and marks that had been left on my arms, I noticed Red enter the dorms and storm up to Hayden. I didn't want to get involved but sat up instead and tried to see if I could hear what she was saying to him.

"One word and then a question : Sparky. Where is he?" Red demanded to an unsuspecting Hayden who was searching for something in his back. When she stopped only metres away from him, he looked up to her and slowly shrugged his shoulders.

That was when I found something out about Hayden that I wouldn't have learnt any other way.

He was hesitant but eventually replied to Red. "He was last here. I remember putting him into sleep before I went to collect N-Nieve from the hospital." Red scoffed before tutting rudely at him.

"Give up with the pathetic lies." She said to him, crossing her arms over her chest. "And what's with the stutter?"

I noticed Hayden look down to the ground at Red's final comment. Was he ashamed by the fact that he had this stutter? I knew from my lessons at school that it was very common for children to have them and can often, but rarely, stay with the person into adulthood.

Something inside me was telling me to stand up for him against Red but there was already a small tension between us and I didn't want to break the bond of our formed siblingship... who knew what troubles it could cause when we needed to protect each other.

Resisting the strong temptation I had to go and defend Hayden, I stayed seated, listened to and then contemplated Hayden's response.

He didn't even look up to meet her eyes. "You know about it. D-don't act like you have never heard it before. The only one who wouldn't really know would be N-Nieve...." I looked over to them at the mention of my name and met Hayden's slight stare at me out of the corner of his eye.

With a single motion of his hand, Hayden called me over to them and beckoned for me to take a seat next to him on his bed. I was reluctant to move at first, taking into account how Red was currently acting with Hayden but he gave me one of those looks that you can only see in people like best friends.

His look was saying that he needed me there for the moral support.

I pushed myself off the bed and made my way over to him, watching him as he smiled but carried on looking either to the ground or to the surroundings which I would only assume he would of seen too many times considering the amount of time he would of spent in here.

Red started tapping her foot against the floor. "I'm waiting for an answer... what's with the stutter?" Just as I took my new seat next to him, he looked up to Red though not entirely.

"You know why I h-have it." He said sternly through gritted teeth as Red just shook her head. "I will explain to Nieve. but not now..." He took a pause and smiled before he finished. "She's been through too much just lately to have to be haunted by my problems." I looked up to him and he turned his head away, making sure he did not make eye contact with me or Red as he looked to both of them, hoping... praying that none of us would make him explain.

If he didn't want to talk, I wouldn't force him though Red I couldn't imagine letting him stay quiet about it now he had said something.

Hayden looked down to the floor, clearly upset so I took his hand in mine like what I used to do with Kyra when she was younger. When I saw the faint smile start to fade, I looked to Red.

"If you know why he has a stutter, why are you getting him to tell you?" I asked her, locking eyes with her and not tearing my vision away from her as she leant against the bed post behind her.

She looked to Hayden and tried to get him to look at her but no matter what she did, Hayden matched but in the opposite direction. Red was teasing him, tormenting him almost. Whatever it was that she wanted him to talk about involved his eyes. Why was it so important to her? Surely, if there was nothing for him to hide to her, he would look her in the eye.

I looked to Red scornfully, telling her to back off with a simple movement of my head. When she stood back to lean on the bedpost again, I attempted to get Hayden's attention and although he didn't completely look at me in the eye, he did turn to face me.

Red didn't seem to impressed by the fact that he looked to me rather then the girl he had been working with for the best part of eighteen months of his life. " Tell her, Hayden. Don't you think she deserves to know why you won't make eye-contact with her? Tell her the real reason to the eye patch. Tell her the real reason behind everything." She paused and I looked to her, shocked. With a smile, she ended sharply. "If you don't... I will."

"No. You're right. She does deserve to know. Just not yet. Not now." He stuttered, stumbling over his words as he fought against the pace of his own speech. His skin had turned pale with fear. Whatever this thing was, it was big. Something inside of me wanted to know what Red was talking about it and it matched with the part of Hayden that wanted to get it off his chest finally.

Yet, both of us didn't want to talk or know anything about it. My feelings were met in the middle, an equal split between my curiosity and the privacy that he deserved.If it was as big as Red was making it out to be, surely Hayden wouldn't be comfortable talking to someone he had only know for just over a fortnight about it.

"Por favor, Red cair. Apenas deixe cair!" Hayden shouted even though his head was still glued to a spot on the floor beneath us. I couldn't understand what he had said, but Red could and responded to it by crossing her arms across her chest

I looked to Red as Hayden spoke again, translating what he had just said as his eyes began to tear up. "Please, Red drop it. Just drop it!"

Red turned to Hayden, talking about me like I wasn't there. "You going to explain THAT to her too? My, Hayden... you are going to have a lot of explaining to do to her aren't you?!"

The urge I had to hit Red began to boil inside me and I tried to hide my clenching fists. I couldn't bring myself to look at Red as she continued to try to get Hayden to look at her. I swore that if she even attempted to force him to look at her then I was going to hit her.

"Red, please." Hayden mumbled, pushing Red's face away with the back of his hand. "If Nieve wants to know, she'll ask." I sat next to him, still with my hand on top of his other.

Hayden was right. If I wanted to know that bad, all I had to do was ask him. Though, at the moment, he didn't seem to be in the mood for talking so I patted him on the back of his hand and stood up.

I turned to him with a smile. "I'll leave the choice to you. If you want to tell me, you can but I'm not going to make you." I aimed the last section at Red, who was still looking down at Hayden. "He's asked you to leave him alone..." I told her, placing a hand on her shoulder. "...If that's what he wants, don't you think you should respect that and walk away?" She didn't answer me. She didn't even look at me but simply shrugged my hand away and turned on her heels. She knew I was right and wasn't prepared to come to terms with it.

With a sigh, I looked back to Hayden who had brought his knees up to his chest and was sitting with his head down still, looking down to the bed covers. Though he didn't see, I smiled weakly at him and turned away with a sigh.

Just as I began to walk away, I felt his fingers intertwine with me. "Nieve." He whispered. "Red's right, I do have a lot to explain to you." He let out a deep sigh and I retook my seat next to him. "But so does she." He raised his head slightly and smiled. "Where do I begin?" I didn't know how to reply so sat playing with the fingers he had wrapped around mine.

He closed his eyes tightly and I could hear every singular breath he took; in, out, in out. "I'll guess I'll just go from the start..." He said eventually.

The End

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