Path of Endurance chapter 13
When he was absolutely sure little Bryan was fast asleep, the man stood up from the floor carefully and laid Bryan on his bed, tucking him in as if he had been taking care of his own son. Voices had faded from the living room where Brianna faced the intruders. Suddenly, the door to Bryan's room opened slowly. The man's mechanized hand grasped the hilt of his katana, waiting for an unfamiliar face to pop in. But as it was Brianna who peeked from the doorway, the man dropped out of his battle stance. "They're gone," Brianna said. "Don't ask how."
"Not when there are children present," the man replied. But then, he noted a sad look on Brianna's face. Now that she was sure Bryan wouldn't see her, she felt like letting out her emotions or she would explode. But as she felt a tear forming into her eye, she quickly turned around and walked out of Bryan's room, shortly followed by the man. Without saying a word, the man laid his hand on her shoulder. "It is alright," he said, softly.
"Is not," Brianna whispered, biting her lip not to cry. "Is definitely not. Why... what... how..."
The man said nothing. He didn't have to. He turned Brianna to face him, and gently embraced her. Normally Brianna would've rejected this kind of closeness, but now she felt too restless and weak to resist the urge to seek comfort. The man felt warm and safe, and he awoke feelings within her ? feelings she hadn't even known existed. It was similar to the feeling she felt towards Bryan, yet slightly different... more intensive, in a strange way.
Was this love?
Brianna turned down the thought immediately. It wasn't love. It mustn't be love. She was not born to love; she was born to defend Bryan. She was born to fight. She didn't even have time to love. Besides, the man was obviously reserved. He had been there with a pregnant woman, and Brianna was sure the man was the father of the baby. Once again Brianna left her heart unlistened, breaking out from the man's embrace. "... I can't," she breathed and turned her back again.
"Why do you run?" the man asked.
"Oh yes, you do. You're running from yourself. From your thoughts and feelings."
Brianna shook her head ? it was scary that the man read her like an open book, but it was even scarier that the man knew her better than she knew herself. It was as if the man knew everything about her and her life, beginning from the cramped studio in Queens and ending into this very moment. Brianna found herself soon gasping for air as the room began to spin around her. "I... I'll be outside," she said, trying to find her feet again. "I need some fresh air."
She sat down on their porch outside. The man followed her shortly, observing closely as the first drops of rain fell down from the cloudy sky. He took a deep, meaningful breath: "Ah... the gods are in the rain."
He let the raindrops fall down on him, stretching his arms towards the sky to welcome them. Brianna came by his side. The chilly rain truly felt refreshing. She closed her eyes, trying to feel the rain with every part of her body.
"Did you ever smell the rain, the humidity in the air?" the man sang softly. Brianna hardly heard his voice. "Did you ever feel the pain, depending on what you will dare?"
The sweetest pain you ever felt, it's fun and desperation. Emotion which you cannot steal ? love has no date of expiration.
She sat on the sofa in their living room, with her blanket wrapped around her. A sudden fever had taken over her, along with muscle ache and cough. It was part of the poison she got, the man knew to tell ? it would cause a normal flu within a few hours. He brought her a cup of hot tea he had made with some assistance from Brianna.
"Just rest a few days, and it'll be gone," the man said. "It's nothing fatal."
"If it doesn't kill, it gives strength," Brianna snickered.
A moment of silence.
"I should go," the man said. "I have... duties to attend to."
He turned to leave, when he suddenly remembered; ?Oh ? your jacket.?
"Keep it," Brianna said. "You're the one going outside, into the rain. You need it more than I do."
"Thank you, Brianna," the man said with a deep bow. "I shall give it back to you, one day."
"If it ain't too much trouble. I never caught your name?"
The man just blinked. "I never gave it."
Brianna nodded. She understood perfectly if the man didn't wish to identify himself. He left, turning off the lights and locking the doors behind him. Brianna finished her tea and laid down under the blanket, soon falling into a calm sleep.
To be continued...