I saw Eddy return to the closet without Jericho, she looked flustered. I waited a moment for Jericho to follow her, when he didn't appear, I let myself in to see Eddy sitting on a stool near Jacer's head. She held a mug in both hands, she seemed far away. I saw a smile flicker across her face. I knew that look, I'd seen it before, but I'd never thought I would see it on Eddy's face. I stepped forward and reached for her hands.

"Oh, no you don't!" I said without preamble. Eddy blinked and looked at me.

"What?" She asked. I leaned down to look her in the eye.

"Jericho is not a good man for you Edwina." I used her full name to make sure I got her full attention. "He's a pirate and he doesn't feel anything towards you!"

Eddy stood up, brushing past me to stand near Jacer's feet. "Why are you saying this?" She cried, her face reddening. "He's not... I'm not... We're not..." She stuttered.

"I just don't think you should get to close to him. He's dangerous, to you, not just because he's a pirate." My voice was softer now, I tried to speak gently. Eddy nodded jerkily.

"I have to go check on something." Quickly she drained the liquid in her mug and left the room.

Now that Eddy had left, I noticed Jacer. He lay on the table, much like he had during his creation, but he seemed different. Instead of seeming dead, he appeared to be asleep, he had a slight frown on his face creating lines in the artificial skin. He looked worried, as much as one could look while being asleep. The thought of him worrying bothered me, and not like it usually did. I wasn't afraid now, I did not fear this creature like I had just yesterday. I reached out a hand to smooth out the frown, almost believing I could help him with that small gesture. My fingers barely touched skin when that old fear crept into my mind again and I snatched my hand back with a shuddering breath. Silently I yelled at my self for my cowardice and reached out again.

Inexplicably, as I stretched out my hand, steam began to come from Jacer. His heart starting again. My hand continued its course to Jacer's forehead and I felt the lines smooth out beneath my fingertips. Jacer's eyes opened slowly unlike my nightmares, and he looked at me from beneath my palm. I froze for a moment, this being so different from the suddenness of my nightmares, then drew my hand away from his face.

"Good morning," I said, shakily.

"Good morning." He replied, his voice sounding louder than it should because of the silence in the room. I said nothing, listening to the mechanical click and whir of Jacer's heart. Steam began to cloud the air between us. The silence stretched as Jacer looked at me, seeming again, to be trying to read my mind.

Uncomfortable, I reached back towards the door handle, stepping backwards to reach it. Jacer sat up, swinging his legs ove the edge of the table. He was shirtless still, from the operation, and I could see the thin lines on his chest and arms from where Eddy had patched up his skin after being sliced open. Trying to stop shaking, I reached out towards him.

"No, you aren't ready to get up yet." I gestured for him to lay back down. "The sealant hasn't set yet, your skin will split open if you move too much."

Obediently, Jacer lay back on the table. Sighing with relief that he hadn't argued, I turned to go.

"Aster?" Jacer's voice sounded out. I froze, turning my head slightly. I saw him reaching out for a moment, then he withdrew his arm, putting it back to his side. He continued speaking softly. "Where's my sister?"

I tried to smile, I really did, but couldn't manage. "She's taking a walk around the ship." I said, reaching for the door again. Jacer's next words made me freeze again.

"Why are you so afraid?"

"W-why would you say that?" I said stupidly, yelling at myself internally again. Of course it's obvious you coward!

Jacer looked thoughtful, not answering my question. Good, it didn't deserve an answer.
Jacer's next words seemed to be a part of a train of thought that wasn't meant to be heard out loud.

"You were relieved when I went to sleep... You touched my face." Jacer out a hand to his forehead, the same way I had done before he'd opened his eyes. I closed my eyes and clenched my fists, opening and closing them several times slowly to help calm myself down. When I opened my eyes Jacer was staring at me, waiting for me to say something. I didn't, leaving the room swiftly and crouching down in the hallway outside, trying to deal with the tangle of emotions that plagued me around Jacer. Fear, dominant of all of them made my body shake and my teeth chatter. It was a fear born of cold nights in a dark cellar, of believing in all of he he stories about ghosts and demons, and of watching a dead man come to life in nightmare after nightmare for three years.

Yet, when the nightmare had come to life, it had been a surprise, but not the bone chilling experience of being stared down by dead, cold eyes and frozen flesh reaching out to grab me. It had been warm. Clear eyes had looked at me with understanding, skin warmed by steam had reached out, not to choke, but to comfort. I'd run, but no one had chased. Another emotion filled me, I couldn't name it, but relief made tars come to my eyes and spill down my cheeks. I wrapped my arms around my knees as I sat in the hallway.

Maybe my fears were unfounded.

Oh, I hoped I was right.

The End

210 comments about this story Feed