Her wounds had healed, though she looked liked she’d been burned in places all across her body. Scalded droplets of scarred flesh. If queried, she would say someone threw acid at her once, leaving the scattered marks across her skin. Her hair covered the scaring where fangs had once punched through her scalp.
If withdrawal hadn’t gotten her away from the seeds for good, then nearly overdosing certainly did. Sometimes, she would tell recovering addicts at the refugee shelter she’d overdosed once and went through withdrawal. The one thing that helped her through was the vision of an angel. She never mentioned that the angel she spoke of had the eyes of serpent and spun webs like a spider.
The wind had taken on its cool autumnal bite. Once more, Cynder found herself wearing a coat at night. On some mornings, there was a thin layer of frost.
It was a warmer night and they all were gathered at the silo. Poison cradled Eclipse in his arms whilst Cynder leaned against Scarecrow as he occasionally ran his talons through her hair. All four of them were looking at the stars, marveling at their cold diamond brilliance.
She realized that she loved him completely. It was a sense of love she had never felt for anyone or anything in her life. She could not imagine her life without him, that part of her would die if they were to ever become separated.
Yet, although she knew she loved Scarecrow, it wasn’t like love girls she worked with at the refugee shelter would describe with songs they heard or poems they were given by suitors. The love she felt wasn’t like that between child and parent or siblings. It wasn’t like the emotional attachment of very close friends. It was far deeper, stronger than that. Something Cynder sometimes wondered was a different emotion altogether from love, but love was the only word she could find to describe it.
Whatever it was, Scarecrow felt it too. She could sense it. He had helped her through withdrawal and protected her when she was in danger. When she had been poisoned in more than one way, he worked desperately to save her life. He was always elated when she came to watch the stars with him. When her gaze met his cold blue eyes, the emotion she could only describe as love was evident.
Being there at the silo, in the company of the hunters, looking up at the stars was perfect. Nothing existed beyond the moment under a blanket of night. She truly relished these times. Scarecrow’s company, Poison’s odd humor, Eclipse’s games of chess. This, along with her late night walks and her work with refugees, was her life now. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
At one point, Cynder felt eyes on her and turned to meet Eclipse’s gaze. It was for only the briefest of moments before the hunter’s amber eyes once more drifted upward toward the night sky. In that moment, Cynder sensed a sort of longing mixed with a little bit of envy. She realized the bonded pair missed the lama. They still hadn’t found a simian, and Cynder’s company was the closest they were getting to that, even if she had been chosen by Scarecrow.
She looked up at him, almost desperately. Poison’s anger over the lama’s murder had subsided somewhat, and was replaced by the dull ache of not having a human companion. Eclipse just seemed genuinely heartbroken. Cynder felt for both of them, even if she was unsure of what to do.
“When do you think?” She started, unsure of how to further word her inquiry. Even sensations and images seemed inadequate.
What looked like a smile formed on Scarecrow’s face. His tongue tested the night air as his mind brushed gently against hers. She could feel his talons softly working through her hair.
“In the fullness of time,” he said. She leaned against him with a slight smile, returning her gaze to the stars. His answer was all there was, and, right then, it had to be enough.