Note: An alternate timeline where Dawn and Cyrus met as teenagers. With overlapping timelines, she has completed her adventure already, and faced off with one Cyrus, but then met another who was the same age as her. She set herself up as his babysitter, but it's more like a friendship. This timeline is semi-continued in Rewritten Ending, if you're interested!
I had always thought that for all his brilliance, his ideas were just a part of his madness. The imagined, crazy solution to a problem only an insane man would believe he could solve by himself. After all, it was always inherently delusional to think one person could do something so drastic, so transformative, to the whole world.
Over the past three years I had learned how wrong I was. The plan? It wasn't crazy. It was order amid a crazy world, sense from the void of nonsense. But somehow I knew it was still wrong. He still could not make this decision for everyone, it wasn't right. Or was it?
And that was the magic of him. He had made me question myself so many times - too many to count! And I'd made him pause only a handful at the most.
I hadn't given up. I wouldn't. But there was doubt, hidden, just beneath that mask of a bright smile that greeted him. It wasn't that I thought his methods were right - those, always, I would find reprehensible. Total destruction was unforgivable. But the concept itself was so inherently simplistic.
And yet I knew I'd made cracks in his wall of logic. He had his doubts, too. They were better concealed than mine, but I could tell. He was not so flat, and around me, he had mostly stopped trying. He tried to pretend nothing bothered him, but I knew it did, from little things, like not being able to hink of a word, and having to waste time looking it up, to the bigger things, like my nagging him to take better care of himself. There would be a flash of irritation, a dismissive wave, an attempt to paint his face with that impassive look again - I ignored these. The body language spoke louder than his grumping that he could care for himself. He would let me touch him, to wipe his face, or pick at his hair, without protest. We often sat on the couch together, pressed next to each other at one end, rather than apart. On more than one occasion, we'd fallen asleep together in the middle of piles of books and papers.
Despite our avowed rivalry in nine years, we trusted each other. But I never dreamed he trusted me as much as he proved to one night in summer.
We'd gone to the Resort Area for a few days, taken several bags full of dusty old books on myths from the Canalave Library. They were strewn around the villa, and we lazed about all day, reading, idly chatting, him tinkering, me flipping through magazines.
It was hot, and Kricketot buzzed outside every night, the sound carried in through the open windows along with a hot, muggy breeze that could hardly be called a breeze. The night was velvet black outside, the moon a tiny sliver on one side of the sky. You could barely see it around the palm tree in the front yard.
"Aren't you hot?" I'd never seen him wearing anything but long sleeves and long pants. Tonight was no exception.
"No," he answered without looking up.
I sat up, leaning over the back of the couch to watch his work. There were metal pieces scattered across the table. He had some little fiddly thing in his hands. He'd tried to explain to me on several occasions, but mechanics were not my strength. "Really?"
The villa had one bedroom (with two beds, mind you), so we'd been in the habit of taking turns changing clothes when we needed. Even his pajamas were long.
But that night, when I came back into the bedroom after he opened the door to signal I could, was different. He'd opted to go shirtless in deference to the heat. I tried not to react at first, but then I saw, and all resolve went straight out the open window. His scars. I'd had no idea.
He pretend to not know what I was reacting to. "Good night, Dawn."
And then I couldn't help myself. I was across the room in a heartbeat, throwing my arms around him, drawing him in, where he'd be safe. Once upon a time, he would have flinched, and tried to push me away. Tonight, he let me embrace him. Once upon a time, there would have been hot tears on my cheeks, and I'd be trying to convince myself away from the truth. I knew. I knew how he'd gotten those scars. Once upon a time, I would have wished I was still oblivious, but not tonight.
"Stay with me, and I promise, I won't let anyone hurt you ever again," I heard myself saying. My voice was strong. Even more amazing, though, I felt strong to match it.
"I can protect myself," he said softly. "And everyone else, too. No more...suffering."
"This isn't the way to do it."
"You can let go at any time."
I shook my head. "I can't."
"Nor can I. Funny that."
I ignored his flippancy. I would not let him go. I could not let him go. I held him, as if somehow that could undo eighteen years of ills by the world, by those who were supposed to protect him. Slowly, he leaned forward, resting his head on my shoulder. "It'll be okay," I told him.
This surprised me. "You do?"
"It's not as if I can't take care of myself, Dawn. Sometimes, sure, I have it harder than others. It doesn't mean I'm defenseless."
"Stop being so tough!" I protested. "Just because..." I shook my head. "Just let me hold you, and stop worrying about all the evils of the world for a few hours."
"I can do that."