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Blood. I watched it swirl down the drain. At least it wasn't mine this time. But the alternative wasn't better, and it hurt a hell of a lot more, as images of Talon lying dead on the ground, then dead in the backseat, filled my head. Malachi's sobbing. Elias's pale and blank stare. I stuck my face into the spray of the shower and scrubbed it with a washcloth, as if I could remove all traces of the nightmare from my head.
There came a knock at the door. It was Gideon making sure I was alright. I lied and told him I was fine. I shut off the shower a few seconds later, even though I wanted to stay in there for about ten years, letting the near scalding water cleanse away. But I had to be considerate because I wasn't the only one in need of a shower and I doubted this rundown motel, just a few miles from the United States border, had very much hot water. I dried quickly and dressed into the clothes that'd been scavenged for me. Isaac was the smallest, so I got a pair of his drawstring sleeping shorts and one of his t-shirts.
I offered Talon the use of the shower first, as he was a whole lot bloodier than me, but in Talon fashion, he argued ladies first. There was no point in arguing with him, not when he got something in his head. Stubbornness seemed to be a Theron family trait, as Ben was persistent back in the van on the ride here from Valle Del Lagarto. He refused to let it go and insisted on talking about the events that transpired. I knew he meant well, but he got to me, and I lost my temper. So had Talon. The only words he'd spoken at all were to yell at Ben and declare I wasn't going to try and repeat what I done. Truth be told, I had no idea what I'd done, and it scared me. I was just as terrified as all of them, probably even more. What the hell was I? Gideon was quick to reassure me we would figure everything out together. He also effectively shut down the conversation, sighting the fact we were all exhausted, and emotions were running so high it wasn't the time for the conversation.
But I didn't regret it. And I was terrified for Talon too. He'd been so quiet. When we got to the hotel, he'd sat on the floor so he wouldn't get blood anywhere, and stared at the wall barely moving. His face betrayed nothing but deep thoughts. He probably needed therapy. He was trying to accept and process he'd died. And probably my death too. I'd also died, but that didn't seem to faze me like his death. Maybe I hadn't accepted my own death or processed it either. But it was hard to forget because the evidence was there in the form of the bruise on my chest, and the sharp pain in my rib every time I breathed or moved. Gideon had broken my rib by getting my heart to beat again from the chest compressions.
But still, my physical pain didn't touch the emotional pain I now felt. And not just about Talon. I felt for Grandma Marta when she learned her son was dead. Garren may have been evil, but he was still her son. I thought about my Uncle Alden and the pain I saw in his eyes when he had to let me go again. It was a hard, selfless decision on his part. I thought about all those I left behind in Valle Del Lagarto.
I also thought about the pain I'd caused the Theron's. Malachi and Talon often argued and fought, but Malachi was the first to break down and lose it. He'd been devastated and wrecked over his little brother's death, and was probably feeling the same emotions I was, including guilt. I would never forget the sound of his sobbing as long as I lived. Elias had been in shock. Gideon's face was cast in shadows, and he was deathly quiet and still as he'd glanced down at his dead son in his lap. Josh's tears were silent at first, then transpired into sobs nearly as gut wrenching as Malachi's. I felt my own eyes begin to burn. I almost let them fall again. I'd done my fair share of crying earlier. Now was not the time to fall apart again.
I swiped a hand across the steamed-up mirror. I barely recognized the face glaring back at me. Her long, dark hair fell in clumps beginning to curl once again as the chemical straightener had nearly worn off. She looked older than me. Her green eyes were red -rimmed, blood shot, and full of hurt, exhaustion, pain, fear, and something else. Anger. It began to boil inside me. My father had killed Talon. He could've shot me. He could have shot any of us. He could have killed several of us. But he only fired a single bullet. One he knew would cause the most devastation. I was going to hunt him down and kill him. And he wasn't the only one. I was going to kill my Grandfather Atticus too. They both deserved to die for all the things they'd done, and not just to me.
The knock came at the door again. This time it was Malachi asking how much longer I was going to be as he had to pee. But he didn't fool me. He could've used the bathroom in one of the other rooms the Theron's rented or even out in the desert surrounding us. He was checking up on me. In reply to his question, I opened the bathroom door to face him. He looked surprise by my abrupt exit, but he recovered quickly.
"Feel human again?" he asked. Then he muttered awkwardly. "...Aahh..Sorry, no offense."
"None taken," I answered.
He stood there uncomfortably for several seconds. His shaggy brown hair was disarrayed, probably from the mask he'd been wearing earlier, and in light of what happened, he hadn't smoothed it back into place. He didn't have any of Talon's blood on his hands or arms any longer, but his dark shirt and pants were stained darker in spots. He looked tired, there was stubble on his chin, and his chocolate eye held traces of all the tears he's shed earlier in the night. I loved him like a brother, but now I felt something else for him too. Admiration. Because he hadn't been afraid to show his emotions. He hadn't held back or tried to live that ridiculous stereotype men were not supposed to cry. Without warning I drew him into a hug. He handled it well. He hugged me back tightly, not that weird half hug back pat thing. Well uncomfortable only because it sent a tinge of pain through my rib.