Hey lovely stragglers! I wrote this as an afterthought to the story. I received very good fan reception on Jupiter, and noticed that her feelings were never really delved into on a personal level. I figured this might be effective in doing so.

Sorry about my slow updating. School has been very busy lately, and I haven't had much time to sit down and write Starting the Fire (or really anything). I apologize for this. After marching season, I hope to be back on track.

Don't forget to drop a review or a favorite! I appreciate it very much!



I believed there would be an end to this at some point, but I didn't think it would come this quickly. Everything is wrong in this place—corrupt, lurking in the shadows, waiting to strike an unsuspecting victim with its sinful guise. After all, this is a sinister organization, so it is only fitting that sinister secrets follow the leaders of genocide and their willing participants. We are all fools here—if I blamed only Cyrus, then I would be blindly at fault. I'd be alluding that I lived without flaw.

But Dawn—she is a fool as well. She is melodramatic, obsequious, and somewhat stupid. She might have been perceptive and the most intelligent young woman I have ever known, but her naivety is clear to everyone around her. Perhaps one isn't so bright to themselves or the consequences of their actions at sixteen, but I feel she is denser than others her age. I haven't seen the boy that led the charge against our Team Galactic two months ago, but I knew that he was more aware of his circumstances. However, if he had been in this girl's same position, he would have faltered long ago. His romance for her clouds his judgment, and turns him into a docile beast. While he was restrained in the arms of our grunts, thrashing and pushing against their arms, his eyes—brimming with fear and love so powerful that it would be the downfall of any man—never left her.

Now Cyrus's own gaze is captivated by her. If this had happened earlier, I would have been confused as to their infatuation with this clumsy, curious girl. She is imperfect in ways that cannot be defined, and yet her charm is potent to everyone. I understand this, because I am under her spell as well.

I sit by her bed on occasion, deep within the night when no one else is awake. Something makes me want to reach out to her, even in the throes of a restless sleep—even when I should be alone, swallowed by the suffocating atmosphere in my oppressive home. I cannot help myself when I need her. It rouses me, makes me dress myself and stumble to her room, an unwelcome voyuer that she has never known about. During the day, I am her caretaker—I keep her clean, brush her hair, bring her meals and wash her clothes. She is not allowed to do any of those things herself, as Cyrus treats her as if she is a delicate, helpless flower. Why does he worry? She might be clueless, but she is strong. If his own abuse cannot weaken her, then surely she can go to the bathroom on her own. Surely she can do her own hair. Surely she can be without me as her crutch.

Yet I hope she never does.

At night, I know I should not be present. The night should be hers to take stock and calm down, struggle against the invisible chains bound by a lonely man's love. When she is asleep, I do not have to read her expression or understand how she is feeling. I—no, we—can be by ourselves, but I can't stay away. She never hears the door to her room opening as she skirts from dream to dream, her selective hearing tuning out any noise or intruder that might enter. I can come and go as I please, watching her as her small chest rises and falls with every ragged, disturbed breath. I tell myself that I am merely checking on her, but even that lie cannot convince me.

I am a puppet. She is no better.

I've heard her say his name. Not the boy's—his. Cyrus. If I reach out to touch her limp dark locks, she speaks. "Cyrus," she murmurs. "Cyrus," as if I am him. I do not know why she does, and it makes me wonder if he's come to see her at these late hours in the past. Their relationship may be one of master and slave on the surface, but what truly goes on when Cyrus has her trapped in his office at odd hours of the day? Do they fight, or do they hold hands? Do they glare or stare with confused love at each other? I recall when the girl stumbled out, bleeding and incoherent, violated by a man she hated in a storm of torn clothing and desperate weeping. I held her in the showers, waiting as her sobs dissipated and her body slumped, exhaustion taking the place of her distress.

But these days, it is different. Does he still rape her?

Or do they make love?

Those are questions far too intimate for me to ask. It is not my business—Cyrus is my leader, and Dawn is my job. No, she is not my "job"—Dawn has progressed from that point long ago. She is a part of me now, and I will not deny the influence she has over me. As far as prisoners go, she is not mine. I do not hesitate to hold her, touch her, comfort her. What I feel for this girl is not lust. I am the mother of this shattered child, this teenager that is unable to walk her own path. While she is chastised, I stand by and wait, for I can do nothing. I nurse her bruises and wipe away her tears. I am her rock, as she was to me. Dawn gives me a sense of place and belonging—she needs me, and that bond goes deeper than one I have ever known before.

Yet when she says his soulless name in her sleep, I know that I am not the most important person anymore. Perhaps I never have been. Cyrus is just as broken as the rest of us, but perhaps he realizes that now. Perhaps he knows that Dawn is what he needs. She can heal him, and after so long, he finally admits this.

I am glad.

I am proud, as a mother should be.

I will always be here for you.