86 Days Until Tests And the Uncertain End (part 3)
Evester sat in his room, strumming on the guitar he had as he looked over the paintings he had made, repainted, and repainted. The room was a mess of oils and paints mostly blue. He sat humming with the guitar, making no particular song but the one that was in his mind, for no reason other than boredom.
Evester snapped his head towards the door where Rayda stood leaning against the door frame silhuoetted by the light. “Rayda.”
“Crass says you are going to do something crazy.” The opener was not one that Evester had ever heard before. He tried to think of what it was that he was going to do. When he thought of it, he clipped his finger tip against the guitar.
Sucking on the blood, he smiled at her and winked. “And you are going to stop me?”
Rayda was not nearly as cheerful. She pinched the bridge of her nose and then walked further into the room. “This is life or death, don’t get our friends involved.”
“When isn’t it?” Evester had already planned it out. He was rational about the decision. Unlike most of his ploys this one was the most logical one. He had thought long and hard about it after telling the two of them the idea. He had needed to know if it was momentary impulsiveness. After time, and two too many paintings, he was certain that it was needed. Yes, the decision was reckless, but they needed a bit of reckless abandon. They’d clean up after him. He was thinking of them but this needed to happen.
She sat on the bed next to him. “You are taking Crass and Karla? Only?”
“We are going to try to push for a deeper connection between people.” Evester nodded. “I need you here with Uly.”
“And if you fail.” It was not a question but an expectation.
“Then I fail and come back. We can’t stay out here forever.” They’d have to go back one day. They’d return to society. Evester needed to put his face out there and start pushing forward more. Heia had done the heavy work. Evester needed to push it more and let it slide. He was the only one who had the chance of making it happen more. Heia and Kim could not fight the uphill battle alone.
“Uly will have the final planet soon.” She wanted him to stay and wait? He could wait, but would that be enough? “You don’t believe him.”
Evester looked her in the eye and glared. When she shuddered he knew he had gotten his point across. Evester believed in Uly. Evester had made the plan to fool the world. Evester trusted Uly more than anyone and it was precisely because he trusted him that he had to make sure that the world was ready to jump when Uly said so. “We need now in order to convince people.”
“You won’t get that.” Rayda was acting as devil’s advocate. She was testing him. This was to see how dedicated he was. She was verifying for them all that this was not a decision with little care.
“We need to give them more hope than that.” Evester was not sure how to convince her. How could he make any of them see that he understood them. That he saw what they needed of him. That he was no longer the child they still thought he was. He knew his part, he always had. He was sick of running away and pretending none of it mattered.
“You are going to lie?” Rayda surveyed him, and the room, speaking lightly.
“I’m going to say what is needed to be said and Crass and Karla will help with that.” Evester placed the guitar aside and sat with his back straight mustering every bit of Igilistal confidence that was in his veins. He breathed slow.
“And you aren’t going to go back to the Circles?”
“Mother doesn’t need me.” He channeled it as she did not see him. He mustered it all and then when she looked back at him, he met her eye directly. There was a long pause as her eyes traveled down to his hands and back up. There was little convincing to do from that point on. She knew. She saw that he meant to do it and to do it right. That he was willing to take on the position of leader in full and carry the weight of what that meant. He no longer was going to run from his problems. He was no longer going to disregard the world. He was going to use the inspiration that the world held above him, and get them to act.
He was not a product of the Project. Not anymore. Now he was willing to control it. Just as Heia had. With it his heart was racing. The idea of it was making him smile. He wanted nothing more that to go out there and do it that moment. However he had to plan and predict and ensure that the effort he established mattered. EverDanger did not do things without preparation.
There was a long silence before Rayda looked to the paintings. “Zeydar. He’s the reason you’ve change.”
All the ego and self certainty disappeared with the one single name. His stomach twisted and washed over him in a wave of worry. He wanted to make sure Zeydar was safe. He knew to trust those with him to keep him from Dreams. And the more he thought, the more he let himself feel, the more he recognized his emotions, the more they scared him. He was afraid to vocalize them for what they would mean. Evester was willing to bend over backwards and change the world for anyone, but he feared giving up the last bit of freedom he’d ever had. If he admitted it… Then he’d forever be shackled by his family. “I don’t know what you want me to say about that.”
“I want to know what you want to say to him.” Rayda would not let him back down.
If he said it. If he addressed it. If he let the words leave his lips he’d be tied down forever. His family’s decisions would hold them both tight. Zeydar was not a person who was to be tied down. Evester could not make him. Evester did not want it either. “Nothing.”
Evester tried to deflect instead. “I can’t say anything to him, because he has avoided me. We have nothing between us.”
“But you care more.” Rayda pushed. She would push until he broke.
Evester did not mean to have his voice break when he asked. “Is that a shame?” It did anyway. He did not mean to make Rayda jump or to admit to the thing without admitting to it. He did not mean to pour out his fears on her lap with four simple words.
“I feel as though you are avoiding it.” She touched his shoulder.
“I am.” He whispered. He was avoiding Zeydar, avoiding saying the words. He could act to save the world. Evester was ready to be that person, the new version of who he was. However he– If he told Zeydar he liked him. If he said that he liked Zeydar more than the danger, more than the rush, more than words could allow. If he said that he liked him, was Evester willing to risk the consequences. Forever was a long time. Zeydar, like Evester, liked their freedom, but Evester did not want to let the emotion go.
“You should probably talk to him before you do something stupid.”
“Going to the X’s is not stupid.” Evester shook his head.
“I mean ignoring your feelings forever. He has the right to know you are serious, even if you are afraid of the Igilistal legacy clipping your wings. He doesn’t have to accept that pressure, and neither do you. You were raised outside of it.” She said as she got up. She didn’t know what Kim and Uly did. She didn’t see that Evester had been a calculated measure of the system the whole time. Evester was as much an Igilistal as any of them, and with that meant picking his battles wisely. Evester had long believed he’d grow old without a single lover, filled to the brim in happiness, friendship, and family love. Now? Now he wanted Zeydar, at least for the time. But Igilistals either went all in or not at all. Every move was calculated. This one had to be weighed, and as much as Zeydar had a choice, Evester needed to know if he was willing to give up the freedom to take the risk. He wasn’t sure. “Now Uly needs your help going over documents he is going to send to your sister.”
With that Rayda let the room. She did not wait for him to follow. And when Evester finally peeled himself off the bed, his finger had stopped bleeding, yet the pain remained.