Eve was doing sit-ups when Fynn entered her cabin. She didn’t stop when he opened the door, and she didn’t stop when he shambled inside and seated himself on the floor. She also didn’t stop when Fynn offered her a timid greeting.
“Hi,” he said, clicking the door shut. “I’m… I’m Fynn. Hi. Nice… nice, to… nice…”
Eve stared at Fynn from her cot, eyes wide and unflinching. Her steely Non-green pupils gave Fynn the chills, and he dropped his gaze to his legs, focusing on his thighs. The incessant shuffle of fabric told Fynn that she still hadn’t stopped doing sit-ups, and he wondered how long she’d been working out. She didn’t look tired at all.
“I… ah. Um.” Fynn laced his fingers together, unlaced them, laced them again. “You… so… you’re… my… um…”
“We are bonded by a bloody curse,” Eve said, her voice monotone and even.
Fynn felt as though he might jump out of his skin when she spoke. He backed up against the door, looking at Eve for only a second before he focused, again, on his legs. Something on his calves required his absolute concentration. “Agh! Ah! Um, uh, that’s… that’s… uh… kinda, y’know, weird, but - “
Eve continued with her sit-ups, but her legs rose into the air as well, and she began peddling. The motion reminded Fynn of his times with the rhino, back on the Matriarch, helping the great beast power the transport across the country. The thought gave him a temporary sense of warmth, but the coldness of Eve’s presence squashed the comfort.
I feel like I’m being swallowed, Fynn thought, acutely aware of the thin sheen of sweat on his skin. I’m, like, twice her height, but she’s so much… taller… than me… feels like she could eat me in an instant if she felt like it. No wonder dad didn’t just walk in.
Fynn tried a friendlier approach. “Um… are you hungry…? I could… I could, like, go to the galley, and… maybe… I mean, dad told me once that you’ve… like… your appetite is crazy… but, well…”
Eve continued to stare at Fynn, peddling and scrunching, scrunching and peddling. Fynn envied her strong sense of bodily coordination.
“I…” Letting out a breath, Fynn slumped. He reached for the door handle. “I’m sorry. You probably, like, wanna… be… alone. I’ll… I’ll go - ”
Fynn’s hand shuddered to a halt, then began to tremble as Eve abandoned her sit-ups and hopped nimbly off of her cot. With three lithe steps she crossed the cabin and stood, perfectly balanced, in front of her brother. She leaned in uncomfortably close, her face only inches from Fynn’s, and he could smell blood wafting off of her grimy uniform. He wondered, between spasms of fear, how long she’d gone without a change of clothes.
She’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen, Fynn thought, huddled so fiercely against the door that he wondered if he should just break through the wood and try to flee. He suspected Eve would not let him go so easily, however. She makes dragons look like puppies. I… I can’t… take this…
Eve’s gauntleted hand rose to Fynn’s cheek, the rough steel caressing his skin with a cold, firm kiss. She ran her fingers down to his throat, encircling Fynn’s neck and pressing very lightly. He knew she could crush his windpipe in an instant, and he also knew that he could do nothing to stop her. No amount of buffing magic could slow Eve.
“I…” Fynn winced, wanting to pull away, fearful that Eve might strike if he tried. “I… that… that kinda… hurts… please…”
Eve pulled in so close to her brother that their foreheads touched, and her eyes bored into his. She sniffed him, the gesture both predatory and creepy. Fynn nearly followed in his father’s footsteps and wet himself, but his bladder seemed too paralyzed by fear to respond.
“I…” The first hints of an emotional expression flickered across Eve’s face, but she smothered them with fierce blandness. “Sir. Sir, my mom heist. My… augh, my mom heist, sir. His mess, some Ed? My… my mom heist. Sir.”
Fynn blinked. “W… what? I… I don’t…”
Eve’s grip on Fynn’s neck faltered, and after one more careful sniff of his face she pulled away. Her fists clenched, and she looked as though she wanted to mangle something, but Fynn felt that her irritation had nothing to do with himself. For the first time since entering the cabin, he felt… well, not safe, exactly, but safer. The teeth of the predator were no longer seeking to end his life.
“Firm yeti shams,” Eve muttered. She returned to her cot and sat, cross-legged, mumbling to herself. “My mom’s rimy heist. Sir… heist… augh. Sir. Let pleas hem… let… sir. Hem tall.”
Watching his sister struggle, the sweat on his brow turning cold, Fynn did something he didn’t realize he was doing until it was done. Using his magic, he reached out to Eve and scanned her. It was a branch of his buffing magic, he knew, but Fynn hadn’t known he could look into a person until he was in the middle of seeing his sister through a different pair of eyes. Green power flooded his corneas, obscuring his humanity, and when some of the glow faded, he saw.
“You’ve got something inside you,” Fynn said, his fear forgotten. “Something’s holding you back. Something… old.”
Though Fynn couldn’t see Eve’s face properly anymore, he knew she was watching him, her attention entirely fixed on his presence. A vague sense of relief, long penned away in a secret part of her soul, washed over her body as a red, warm silhouette. For one fleeting second Fynn actually saw his sister, hidden somewhere beneath the monster she was forced to present to the world.
“Firm yeti shams,” Eve said again, but Fynn didn’t hear nonsense. “I… I miss my father. I miss my mother. Does she miss me? I want to see our parents, because I miss them. Please tell them I love them.”
The scan didn’t last any longer than that. Something inside Eve, the old something, abruptly shoved Fynn out of her soul, breaking the connection between the two siblings. Fynn’s head rocked backward as though he’d been punched, and a headache lingered there for the rest of the day. He rubbed his temples, gasping and amazed.
“Wh… whoa.” Fynn hunched forward, drips of renewed sweat falling onto his legs. “Holy… wow. I… I dunno what to say…”
Still seated on her cot, her face stolid and expressionless, Eve bowed her head. She reached beneath the cot and pulled a grimy, tightly-tied parcel out, setting it on her lap and tracing lazy lines across its surface with her fingers. The motion reminded Fynn of the crew of the Dauphine during their visit to the Imperium town of Cheem, skating on ice and enjoying Allofusmas in the shadow of a massive, frozen beanstalk. Fynn had made a snowman with his mother that day.
It was one of a thousand happy family memories Eve had never experienced, and probably never would experience, because she’d grown up as a weapon.
“Kill the fat man,” Eve hissed, all business again. She tugged at one of the strings on the parcel. “Rip his head from his corpulent body. Let his veins flood the world with red. Then I will be free.”