Lucius’s head shot up so fast he had to take a moment to regain ocular focus. “You have a sister?” His mind wandered back to Arianna as he asked, and his hand flew up over his heart where the useless lighter remained. A curse bubbled up to his tongue, but he kept it in that weed-like corner of frustration in his mind. With all the recent events, he had nearly forgotten his purpose for coming here. It was hard to believe that a couple days could block out years of memories, but Lucius felt strangely detached from the normal world, and that included everyone from it. Even Arianna. This time, he did utter a rough phrase of self-condemnation.
Mikhail tilted his head, although Lucius wasn’t sure if it was to consider the question or if some anger had shown itself on Lucius’s features. Hopefully not the latter. “Eh,” Mikhail started, taking care to run his words through a filter, “y-yeah. Six years older.” He stopped to see if Wila or Lucius would take the conversation onto a different course. They didn’t, so he kicked the trunk with the side of his sneaker and continued. “Her n-name’s Veronika.”
“Veronica?” Lucius tried the word out and felt that he had terribly butchered it. It didn’t help that most people in his town had simple names and gave similar ones to their children. Arianna included, he thought, determined to involve his adopted sister as often as possible. Of course, he would never actually forget her.
The boy raised an eyebrow at the pronunciation, but shrugged as if he got that a lot. He got to his feet, shaking the branch a bit, and glanced upwards. Not much time could’ve passed since they entered the forest, but it was likely somewhere around noon and Claud would be less than pleased to find them gone. “Are we… done h-here?”
Wila set down a fierce “No” the same instant that Lucius nodded and said “Yes”. The two glared at each other and Lucius was glad for the few inches that let him glower down at Wila.
“Wila, can’t you go kill people alone?” Lucius snapped, irritation stomping on his fear of her. “Unlike you, I don’t constantly entertain the idea of stabbing someone and would rather just go back. Immediately.”
“First off, I don’t constantly want to murder someone, that’s ridiculous,” Wila started, just as annoyed. She screwed up her mouth into a dry smile. “And for all that you say that, I’m sure you somewhat agree.”
“Ah?” Lucius was taken back by her response. He had expected vehement orders to continuing searching, or at the very least an argument. A part of him screamed to stop where this conversation was heading. The curious part of him, fueled by a dragging anger, won over. “What do you mean?”
“Luc, there’s a reason we’re all in this place,” she said. A dramatic hand gesture in the air. “It’s because all of us want something. We all want something enough that the voice brought us here to let us steal it from each other. Now, I don’t know what you want. I don’t need to nor want to know. But I do know that you have that urge inside you, no matter how deeply embedded it may be, and it must be particularly strong if, out of seven billion people, you were one of those chosen.” Wila began to pace back and forth. “I’ll tell you right now that I need some lives brought back, and I’m not afraid to act on my reason for coming here. So what do you want?”
Lucius was speechless. He ran his thumb over the dented corner of the lighter, almost as a reminder for his brain. Arianna, he told himself, but he didn’t say that. There was no way he could kill someone… but it would bring Arianna’s family back. She could have a good life. Not necessarily normal, since Lucius doubted his power to change her social status, but a life with both parents. Maybe she would even get a sibling. His indecision scared him. Was he really considering murder?
Wila saw his contemplation and chuckled. “You don’t have to think it over extensively now. Like I said, I don’t want to know. It’s just food for thought.” She shrugged and kicked a patch of dirt, sending the earth flying. “Well, it was also to show my side of the things.”
“… Wila.” Mikhail’s tone was disapproving and his tensed frame expressed the same. Sliding down the tree, he raised his hand and paused as if to put it on Lucius’s shoulder. Instead, he plucked a leaf from his hair and let the breeze whap it onto another trunk. “Th-there’s not need to go… into that.”
“Mikhail, it’s fine,” Lucius said. His words came out a little shaky. He grinded his teeth and spoke again. “Thanks for that enlightening speech, Wila. I still want to go.”
“Yeah, didn’t expect it to change your mind.”
Mikhail looked between the two of them, a grimace forming. He settled for stepping back and letting them figure it out. In the meantime, the boy kept himself busy by inspecting the grass around him, which was as lush as a balding man’s head. The patch around him was dying, it seemed.