My name is Silas Cole and Ciaran is my only relative.
But that's not even true. He saved me. Relative is a claim for him to keep me.

Deafened by the heavy rain, I sat swamped in mud. The grungy liquid was tattooed upon my flesh and armour, I was lost.

Abandoned by all, I had nowhere to go. No one to follow. Nothing to hold on to. I was alone.

"Help me," I bawled. The world had glitched; my parents vanished into thin air along with our house. For some reason I was the only one left. "Please, help me," The uncontrollable sobbing fell endlessly from my mouth, like the waterfall in the garden. I was a small, rusted waterfall in a large messy garden.

Upturned soil. Blackened grass. The world glitched once more and the swamp was tinged red. New memories began to form in my mind. I watched my parents' slaughter play through my young brain like a movie. It felt unreal. You know when you finish a book and return to the real world? How you walk around the house and slowly remember you have a cat or that you like sausages and that the characters don't really exist… It was the opposite of that.

I had a big brother. Or was it a big sister? I can't quite remember. The details are fuzzy.

I loved him.

But I don't know where she went.

A gravestone appeared before me,

Here lies

Evelyn Cole

Loved by all.

Paired with the forest

May this bird never lose flight

Even in the darkest of moments

I think that was his name.

Evelyn was the most wonderful sister you could ever have.

He was tough and confident, a fearsome fighter, but at the same time soft and caring.

I loved her.

But I don't know where he went.

The writing began to disintegrate; I watched solemnly as the words turned to ash and floated away in the wind.

A flickering image appeared between us. An ephemeral cat sat calmly in front of the gravestone, staring at me. We watched each other for a while, patiently observing each other.

She seemed calm, content. I was curious, intrigued. But we both just sat silently staring into each other's eyes. Her yelloweyes entrancing mine, I felt myself pulled towards her yet I couldn't move an inch.

We gazed in placid observation; she flickered in the light like a glitching hologram. I knew she wasn't one though. Her existence seemed ghost-like but certain. She mewed softly at me and I could feel the weight of her young paws on my lap as she reached up to lick my cheek before glitching once more and disappearing.

XXX

Ciaran found me.

He didn't wear the mask at that time but his green eyes were just as piercing as they are now. He knew what had happened, he understood. I couldn't even understand and I'd witnessed everything time and time again. I don't know how long I waited before he came to stand next to me, before he scooped me up and carried me home. His hair just reached his shoulders and the shiny coal-like substance made me think of fire.

I don't know how far we travelled or how he even found me. He was a teenager at the time and had no means of travel spare his feet and legs. I lost the sense of time, cradled in his arms, I recall the sun setting and rising but all the memories blur together.

He put me to bed and asked for my name. I couldn't answer. He left me, only coming back to spoon food into my quiet mouth. I drifted in and out of sleep, my hair warming my cheeks as he piled thicker blankets on top of me. And then one day, I woke up. My mind was clear, I could focus on the fact that the snow was blinding, I could feel the weight of wool on my body; and so I got out of bed and went looking for the stranger who saved me.

I found him in the other room. His chin rested on his clenched fists, his hair nearly reached his elbows.

"… Sir?" I paused, unsure of how to approach him.

XXX

"You are my brother now, do you understand me, Silas?"

"Yes, sir." I answered. His voice was soft but deep. I could hear the kindness in his command as he instructed me on my new life. I were to be his younger brother by blood relation and would act as his underling when employed. He cut my hair, telling me,

"If you cannot control it, it should not be there." His hair was always neat. It was always well brushed and shone like the night's sky.

I began to serve under him, helping out as his 'servant boy' when he had jobs.

XXX

"Silas, I think we will have a proper job soon." His whisper surprised me. Ciaran did not speak often unless circumstances called for it. We had grown a mutual respect of silence throughout the months. It was just easier. We didn't often have much to talk of except our customers and we were both strong believers in not biting the hand that feeds you. I responded positively and laughed about our lack of consistent work.

"Do you know what it will be?" I asked, smiling.

"No." Like a candle, his flicker of warmth heated my chest.

"I hope it's something fun." I said.

"Yes, I hope so too. I think we will need something fun soon." Although his voice was the same as usual, I faltered at the tone. Something was off but as usual, he was lost in thought.

XXX

The rain had been pounding against the glass for a while now. Our previous conversation had long been forgotten by my fickle mind. We were sitting down to carrot soup and bread when he suddenly stood up. The look he gave me lasted no longer than a second but I could tell it was important. With a swift turn, he picked up his cape and left. I watched the empty door for a while after. It was only autumn but he'd taken his winter coat.

As was the case, I had no concept of time. I simply thought "It's been a while," as I swallowed my lumpy soup. I tended to be the one to cook dinner and Ciaran wasn't always home due to jobs he deemed too dangerous or unsuitable for me, so the mood in itself wasn't unusual. However, I couldn't help but think,

"It's been a while."

Then out of nowhere, he came home. I'd always loved the thunderstorms of spring and had been gazing out the bedroom window when the door slammed open. I nearly threw up.

I can't even begin to describe the sight that stood in front of me.

XXX

He'd only stayed the night before heading out again. He only stayed long enough to put this girl to bed and let me treat his wounds.

He brought me outside as the sun rose. He covered my face with mud and ruffled my hair.

"Don't wash." He told me.

"I'll be back soon, make sure she has food." He told me.

Once more, for strict specification, "Don't. Wash." He told me, before fleeing the field.

I did as he wished and stayed filthy and smelly for the days he was gone. I fetched water from the river and would pour it into the girl's mouth. I watched as she slept, tears always streaming down her cheeks. I think it was that night that I knew I would always be loyal to Ciaran. For it was that night that I realised there was only one bed in the cabin.

When he returned, he carried clean clothes and new blankets. He lay them some out on the dining room floor, telling me that this was my bed until she could stand.

"Who is she?" I asked.

"I don't know." He said.

"Do you always do this?"

"Do what?"

"Pick up strays." He laughed at this,

"I don't pick up strays." He replied. "I pick up lost kittens."

"Is there a difference?" I asked, bemused.

"Yes." He smiled, "There is always a difference."

XXX

She stayed with us for a while. She was… different, to say the least. I couldn't even remember the last time I'd lived with anyone other than Ciaran. It was a strange experience having a girl in the house.

Soon enough she grew lively and ambitious. She started making these grand plans and I was never sure how to respond but Ciaran would smile and nod. Sometimes, he would disappear for a few weeks at a time. The girl would play with me. Some would say she was acting like my big sister but I don't think that's how she saw it. Some of her stories were really messed up. Her plans for the future disgruntled me but I never said anything.

We lived far away from any town and rarely received travelling passerbys due to how far outs from the road our cabin was, so we weren't exactly up to date with what was happening. But soon we started getting visitors.

XXX

You thought you were going to get something climactic, didn't you?
You know, I did debate about when to post this chapter. Oh well, here it is!:)

-Please review! It means a lot to me and only takes a few clicks. Thank you!

Hope you're all doing well – Cherry xxx

/kdfnadsnf I've just had this huge scare about all of my documents and I think I may have accidentally replaced a bunch with old files. I /think/ that at least my most important document right now is safe [an unpublished story I've been working on] however I'm not entirely sure about the Alice chapters I've yet to post so I'm giving you this one now :) ((Although it was meant to be posted before Christmas... Sorry!))