Mira returned about two weeks later. Noah was sent out on another mission after he recovered, so she was on her own to keep an eye on me. She was pretty closed off for the first couple of weeks. She keep her mask on, barely uttered a word save for a "Thank you." after every meal, and sometimes wouldn't even sleep in the apartment and instead took residence on the roof.
"I'm sorry." I said one day at dinner. I had finally decided to see if I could get something out of Mira.
"If it wasn't for me, you'd probably still be on a mission with Noah instead of babysitting me." It sounded like something out of an anime but it was true.
"It is nothing new. I have done missions on my own before." she said softly. "Please do not patronize me."
"I'm not patronizing you. I'm just saying you seemed happier whenever you are with him. Well, from what I could tell. You said that you guys are basically siblings, right. And after Noah got injured, well I ju-"
"I am fine. There is no need to concern yourself with me."
I let out a heavy sigh. "Look, despite the fact you could kill me at any time, I still consider you a friend. Hell, you've been living in my apartment for the last- what? Four months?"
Mira remained silent looking down at her half-finished meal.
"You don't have to be so hostile you know. I've proven that I'm trustworthy."
"I have every reason not to trust you. You are not one of us."
"Not one of us? Are you serious? That's it? Is that something your 'father' ingrained into your head?"
"No, it is common sense. Family is all you can trust. That is how it was long before I became an Eye."
I have to admit, I had found myself growing irritated. "And let me guess, it's all you have and nothing else."
Mira shot up and slammed her hands on the table. "How can you make light of this? Does family mean nothing to you?"
"Not at all. I love my family and I'd do anything to protect them." I said, rather taken aback by her sudden outburst. "Why do you think I'm so distant from them? I can't let them get hurt because of me."
"Then why can't you understand why I cherish it?"
"There's a difference between cherishing it and obsessing over it."
"It is not an obsession, it is common sense!" I had to admit I was kind of surprised to see Mira raising her voice like this.
"Well I understand tha-"
"Then why are you bothering to ask?
I shot up from my chair now. "Because that is all you ever talk about. The only damn thing! You talk about nothing else.
"Because there is nothing else!"
"Bullshit!" Not thinking, I grabbed her mask and yanked it off "Maybe if you stopped hiding behind this all the time you'd see there is far more than just a psuedo-family! You have a free will you know! You don't have let this man rule over
Her eyes widened as she was exposed and grabbed her fork, stabbing it into my free hand. Tears began to well up in her eyes. "You really don't understand! He saved me from what was a living hell. There is nothing I can do to repay all that he has given me. He gave me a new life!" She stormed off into her room and slammed the door.
After tending to the stab wound and wrapping my right hand up, I decided to let the each of us of simmer down for a little bit before I tried to make amends. I took some time to view her mask. It was made of some kind of material that I wasn't familiar with but you can just sort of tell that whoever made it put in a lot of effort in doing so. It was like it was made specifically for Mira.
After waiting a couple of hours I cracked open the door "Mira...are you okay?"
She was sitting on the bed, hugging her legs against her chest. I could only assume that she did not intend to come out for the rest of the night since she had changed into a tank top and loose slacks. I discovered that her face wasn't the only place that was burned. Most of her left arm was near blackened and her other arm had patches of burns that were of various degrees. Some of the burns appeared to have extended to where she was covered.
She gave me a very spiteful glare as she said "Why does it matter to you?"
"I said and did some things that I probably shouldn't have done."
The glare morphed into a way that said "You think?"
"I'm sorry. I guess I still don't exactly understand how the Eyes work..."
"My family and I were always very close. At a young age, my parents made sure that they emphasized how much of a treasure family is. We did everything together and my brothers always helped out with our bakery. I could not have been any happier." The peaceful expression quickly grew to be blank and dull "Then the Yugoslav Wars happened. Militants came into our town. They lined everyone in the town up. One by one, they either killed them or took them away. I do not wish to think about what happened to them. Eventually, only my family was left. My father tried to fight back when they attempted to take my mother away but they shot him down as soon as he took one step out of the line. My mother bit the man who was dragging her away and she met the same fate. My brothers were unceremoniously shot and I was the only one who was left. I was about to be shot when the leader of the group ordered them to back away. He looked me over for a long while and finally said 'Let's take her with us.'"
"After that, I was their toy. They abused and violated me whenever they had the chance. I was dragged along with them and watched as they slaughtered others. I was fed whenever they remembered that I was there. It felt like I was there for years. I had pretty much lost all hope. I was confident that this would be my fate." She tightened her hold on her legs. "One day during winter, one of the militants was drunk and...using me for pleasure. I could barely understand him because his words were very slurred but I guess I had angered him in some way because he yelled at me and brutally beat me before tying me up, taking me out of tent and throwing me in their campfire. He made sure that I didn't roll out of it, continuing to yell at me before some of the other militants who were watching finally had enough of the show and pulled him away. They put me out and decided that I wasn't of any use to them. Damaged goods. They left me for dead. I'm not sure how long I was out there for. I was in so much pain and so malnourished that I couldn't move. And some point I just began waiting. Maybe I was going to be eaten by something. Maybe my body would finally give out."
She started to tremble "Even after all I had gone through, my time lying in those woods were the scariest moments of my life. It eventually hit me that I didn't want to die. Not that way. Not alone and useless. And with every minute that passed, that fear intensified. But then I remembered something. I wanted to live. As young as I was, I still knew that I had some sort of importance in life. A reason for my existence. I couldn't die here!" She went silent for a moment as her grip on her legs finally loosened. "I began to muster every ounce of strength that I could and dragged my body until I found a snow bank to rest in."
A small smile formed on her face. "A snow storm was starting when Father appeared before me. I was surprised to hear him speak in my native tongue. He knelt down and asked for my name and then asked me if I wanted a new life. A family. A home. A reason for living. I could not say no. I would have been mad to have said no. He picked me up and smiled in way that...I do not know. It was a smile that only a parent could give to their child. As I drifted off sleep I heard him say 'Welcome home'."
I finally had a chance to speak up "But didn't you think that earning your keep by killing people was just a little fucked up?"
She gave a small shrug. "At first it was shocking but...I suppose in the end I accepted it because it was worth it. Father gave me everything I ever wanted, I had to repay him. He even gave me the chance to deliver retribution to those militants. I took up the offer without hesitation. It was the first time I killed people. It felt very, very satisfying."
"Is it always satisfying for you?"
"Not all the time. It is usually only when they are so vile that they deserve to pay for what they have done. The other times that I have killed...it was uncomfortable at first but I eventually grew indifferent to it."
"That makes sense. I guess."
"Does the reason why I am so obsessed with the concept of a family finally make sense to you? My parents told me that a family is the only situation where you can feel unconditional love for someone. I feel unconditional love towards the Eyes. That love and that bond is what I value, more than anything else in the world."