I heard the door open, close, open, and then close again. I could hear whispering—Zephyr, I think—and I waited a second before getting up and walking to the doorway. I leaned against the frame.
He was standing in the front room, looking around.
"I was wondering if you were going to come back again," I said.
He almost jumped out of his skin when he turned and looked at me.
I glanced over at the clock on the wall. It said it was three in the morning, and I'd been sitting around the house for the last two, waiting for him to show up.
"What are you doing here?" Zephyr asked.
I ignored his question. "Where did you go? I told you to just wait outside," I said. "You get too impatient."
"I didn't think you'd be back yet," he said, backing towards the door.
"It's three in the morning. Mission briefings don't take that long."
He kept backing away from me, moving closer and closer to the door. I was skeptical of him, of what he was doing while I had my back turned.
He'd come a long way in the last year. For the longest time, he didn't trust me. At all. But it seemed like he'd come out of his shell a little bit, but now, he was acting strange again, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. He was hiding something, though. I could tell that much.
"So, what's outside that I don't know about?" I asked.
"You're acting like something's waiting out there."
"No, nothing's out there," he said.
I eyed him. "You're guarding the door."
"I'm not guarding the door."
He looked behind him, realizing how close he was to it, and took a couple steps forward. But he refused to look me in the eyes. Instead, he kept glancing at the ground, halfway up at me, back to the ground…
I forced a laugh. "Oh, you know what I forgot to do? Grab the mail earlier. I'll be right back."
I started walking towards the door, resting my hand on the knob, about to pull it open.
"Wait, I…already got it," he said.
"Where'd you put it?"
"It was all junk."
"What? We always have at least one work request," I said.
"Not today, I guess. But it's Christmas. No one's really going to need help on Christmas."
"Cardinal Theresa asks for help every year," I said. "This year wouldn't be any different."
"I guess she doesn't need us this year."
I was still skeptical. Usually, Zephyr was stand-offish with me. He was quiet, and when he did say anything to me, he was about as friendly as a scorpion. He wasn't acting like himself, even I could see that.
"Well, I'll see if anyone dropped off a last minute request," I said.
I heard him tell me to wait again as I pulled the door open.
There was a girl standing on the porch. She looked shocked to see me, and maybe a little scared. Her hair was dark brown and her she wore a plain-looking white gown.
"H-hello," she said.
Behind me, I heard Zephyr groan in an "I got caught" kind of way.
"Well, who's this?" I said.
"She said her name's Leanne," Zephyr said. "I just…I brought her here so she could have somewhere to go for the night."
"Excuse us a second," I said, and closed the door again. I turned around and Zephyr was staring at the door before he looked at me again.
"Who is she?" I asked.
"I have no idea. She was…going to jump," he said. "She was going to kill herself from Chandelier. Something told me I needed to save her."
"Save her, huh? What told you to do that?"
"I don't know. Just something."
"And you brought her here?"
"Where else was I supposed to take her?" he asked.
"Well, the Seminary would've been an option," I said, muttering it under my breath. He still managed to hear me, I think.
I sighed, trying to think of what to do with her. "Do I look like I always pick up the city strays?"
"Well, I'm about as stray as they come," he said.
"I wasn't talking about you. She's something completely different from you."
"It'll only be for a little bit until she can figure out what to do."
"If she was going to kill herself, it means she won't figure out what to do. She has no plan. That's what suicide means," I said.
He didn't say anything and the few seconds of silence made me realize how harsh I was being.
I was a loner, or supposed to be. I worked better alone, and I always had before. Before Zephyr came along, anyway, and because of him, I had to change my routine completely. I didn't have to want to fit a third person into that equation too.
"We can make sure she works," he said. "Once we…you teach her, just think of the jobs we can take on. The big ones. Lucia, Mine 24, Freud Remnants, all of it."
The idea was tempting. Bigger jobs meant we'd hit bigger cash, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to start from scratch with a brand new recruit. When Zephyr started, he at least knew how to handle a gun. This girl didn't seem like she even knew what a gun was.
There was a small knock on the door.
"Sorry, but it's getting really cold outside," she said.
I leaned over and rested my hand on the knob.
"Just give her a chance," Zephyr said.
I didn't say anything to him as I pulled the door open and told her to come inside.