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Her memory of lessons and activities passed by in a blur of colour and sound. Towards the end of the week she didn’t even bother going to scouts. She knew she probably should since she had a fundraiser for her trip coming up but she decided that it would ultimately be useless. She wasn’t retaining any information and was finding it increasingly difficult to do the bear minimum amount of set work. No one had said anything though. For some it was probably because they hadn’t noticed, whether they didn’t know her well enough, or they didn’t care enough. For other people it was because they didn’t know what to say. People like her parents, Morgan and Iris. She wasn’t tired enough to miss their side-eyes. Their constant offers to help with homework. The invites out. Everything except walking up and asking her directly what was wrong. They probably thought they knew, and she couldn’t really blame them. Whose mind would logically conclude that she had a supernatural entity that resides outside her realm of existence watching her every move, just waiting for her to finally do her end of the bargain and bring a reckoning upon humanity. Kidnapping or attempted murder seemed tame in comparison.

Keira desperately wanted to go out with them and relax though. To forget about whatever was going on, but her last conversation with the being was still weighing heavily on her mind. And she didn’t know which part of it scared her more. The part where she would have to actively kill, or the part where she would be responsible for the death of millions. One was certainly easier to grasp, to comprehend the consequences for. To look dead in the eye. The other was horrifying on a conceptual level. That wasn’t the worst part though. The worst part was that she had seriously considered it. It was part of the reason why she was so tired, any time she felt like she wasn’t going to sleep, or felt too anxious, she would go and check out what her ‘candidate’ was doing. At the moment she had taken to sitting in a small passageway between Archer Hamilton’s house and his neighbour’s.

Archer may or may not be the culprit. It could be almost anyone, they didn’t even have to be from the village. But she knew that if she went after him, she would feel the least guilt. That was a very big if though. Keira was human, with human emotions and empathy and a very long track record of not murdering people, no matter how well deserved she perceives it to be. It was why she had taken the slightly less morally lacking route of stalking instead. Which was also slightly ironic in its own way. Palotl had said information was valuable after all, and it was right. Even if she had no plans to act on any of it at the moment, it calmed her slightly. The illusion of progress.

The place she had chosen was very good though. It was extremely overgrown, making it easy to hide within the ferns and tall grass. Keira wouldn’t have even known that there was a path there if Morgan hadn’t shown her and Iris one day. So she really shouldn’t have been surprised when a few days after she started her extracurricular activities, Morgan planted himself right next to her. An early morning fog had settled over the ground and her breath came out like smoke, but she had brought enough layers to stay warm. Morgan had not. This little visit might have been a little impromptu. Keira would have offered her own, but she knew that she would get cold if she did. Her current plan after all was to sit tucked between two houses, next to a front door with only a fence between them. It was not an active plan.

They sat there in silence for a time. Keira might have been happy about his company, breaking the monotony of a stakeout in the early morning, but it was her… alone time. Time to think. In the past few days she found herself there whenever she woke up in a cold sweat or saw that fucking butterfly drifting behind her in the reflections of windows, puddles, the canal, windows and mirrors and all the windows. Compared to that, staring at an empty street for hours on end was a relief. Morgan didn’t get the memo though, and as much as she liked him, this wasn’t a conversation she was excited to have.

“Keira, you can’t keep doing this.”

“Watch me.” Morgan glared at her and then hunkered down opposite, so he had a clearer view of the front grate, but he was still well hidden by the ferns.

“Seriously Keira, how long have you been here?” She deigned not to answer that and instead kept her eyes firmly fixed on the road. He pushed anyway. “An hour, two?”

“Feels longer.”

“This isn’t good for you. The staying awake, the studying and the obsessive behaviour. You need to talk to someone.” Keira stayed quiet for a moment before finally turning her eyes to him.

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I-“ She couldn’t really say that she was under a magic NDA, not only due to the fact that it was a magic NDA but also due to the fact that it sounded ridiculous. Instead, she went with something else, “I don’t want to relive it. Talking, it’s just salt in the wound. Especially to someone who couldn’t possibly know what I’m going through.”

“I… know. Maybe you could try those officers? They might be able to relate a little more- or at least be more experienced in handling cases like these.” No. Nope. Definitely not. She was going to keep as big a distance between her and those officers as she conveniently could. She couldn’t tell him that though.

“I’ll consider it.” Then blessed silence came once again, but it didn’t last long.

“I… this reminds me of the times we used to hang out.” Keira blinked at Morgan. “When we’d get lunch at the café and then run through the forest merrily together?” Keira snorted.

“You’re really remembering that now? And for the record I never ran, it was always Iris who ran off ahead and tried to hide.”

“I know that. You were always terrible at running”

“Just like how Iris was always terrible at hiding. Remember that time she accidently leant too hard on their-“ she gestured to the other house “-gate too hard and fell into the garden?”

“That was funny.” Keira was smiling slightly. “It was lucky that the Andrews were on holiday.”

“Yeah.” The chuckling between them stopped.

“Why are you here? To relive the good memories?”

“If only…” What she was doing here was multipurpose. Mostly it was information gathering and drowning in regret. Regret in not asking more about the specifics, the motives. Maybe Morgan had another view on this, something to help her come to a decision. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure…”

“What would you say if you had to chose between your life and someone else’s?” Morgan blinked once. Twice.

“That’s not the type of question I want to answer so early in the morning.” Keira kept looking at him though. This was an answer she wanted. He sighed and thought for a moment. “I’d probably chose someone else’s? I mean it would be a hard choice unless they were, like, a saint. Or maybe I’m lying to myself. Thinking I’m a better person than I actually am.”

“Would choosing someone else’s life over your own make you a better person? I don’t think it’s wrong to be selfish sometimes.”

“It’s not being selfish to chose your life over someone else’s. No one wants to be in that position, so it’s a good thing that no one is in that position, right?” Keira didn’t reply and continued staring at the front of the house. “Keira? Is there something you’re not telling me?”

“What if you knew that they were an awful person?”

“…I’d feel less guilty. Especially if I knew that they’ve hurt people before and would do so again.”

“If they die, they lose all chance at redemption though. That opportunity to change.”

“They also lose the opportunity to hurt others.” The only response Keira gave was a half nod in his direction. She truly felt a little less sad with company. She was about to pull another memory out when her wrist flared up in pain. It had happened enough now for her to know what it meant. “Somethings coming.”

Morgan frowned but stayed quiet. Roughly a minute later a small van passed their hiding place and stopped quite a bit beyond the house. Both of them poked their heads around the large bush and watched as a woman with brown hair that was pulled back into a ponytail walked up the steps, small box package underneath one arm. Keira hadn’t seen her leave the van, hadn’t even heard it.

Keira was very glad that the foliage was thick, and that there was a fence between them, so they could hide before she turned towards them to walk up to the front door. Morgan poked his head back around once they heard her reach the door, but Keira stayed where she was and pushed her ear to the door. There was a knock on the door and it didn’t take too long for the door to open and a vaguely familiar voice to answer.

“What?”

“Hi. I have a delivery for Archer Hamilton.”

“I… am him. I don’t remember ordering anything though.”

“It’s been marked for you. Could I ask for you to sign for it anyhow?”

“Let me look at it first.” There was a noticeable pause before he eventually grunted. “That’s for me alright. Not quite sure why though.”

“So will you be signing your name for it?”

“I guess I should.” There was another pause, that was filled with a slight rustling noise, as if someone was looking for something, before she heard the delivery woman sigh.

“I don’t have a pen. Get one for me.”

“Excuse me? You can’t talk to me like that.”

“Do you want the package or not.” Keira found herself pausing at this. There was no reason for the woman to take that tone with him, and she didn’t seem too apologetic once Archer called her out for it. Morgan tugged on her sleeve. She looked at him and noticed that his face was pale. He jerked his head, gesturing for her to look around the corner.

“Fucking fine. Bitch.” Archer conceded. Keira wasn’t really listening though; she was too busy staring at the van. In the drivers seat sat an exact copy of the woman who was currently talking to Archer, although she was staring blankly out of the front window. At least that was what she could tell from the reflection in one of the van’s side mirrors. Distant grumbling brought her attention back to the door and there was the sound of aggressive signing. “You could’ve at least have been polite about it.”

“Oh, thank you so much.” Her words did not match her tone. They were dripping with fake sincerity. “I truly owe you one.”

“Yeah?! You’re welcome!” With that final shout Archer slammed the door shut. The woman didn’t seem to mind though. She was humming as she made her way back to the van that held her maybe twin. Keira ducked back and hid behind the plants alongside Morgan. The engine started and the van drove off. Again she didn’t hear the woman getting into it, nor did she hear the humming anymore. Peeking her head out she saw that the woman was indeed gone. Morgan was already looking at her, eyebrows reaching his hairline.

She was half expecting him to crack a joke about aliens again, but instead he jerked his head further up the path. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to. She nodded and then the both of them broke into a sprint, away from the scene.

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Nocturnea

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