I placed the last chair onto the table in front of it. The cleaners would be coming during the night to vacuum and clean the carpets. It wasn’t anything enthralling, but it was something that needed to be done occasionally.
“Hey Fifteen, are you finished now?” Commander called to me from her office.
“Essentially. I was just going to go check the locker rooms to make sure they can be mopped properly, but besides that, yeah.” I shouted back to her.
“Okay, Just make sure you talk to me before you go.”
As stated, I went to the locker room to make sure that there wasn’t anything left on the floor. There wasn’t. The rules in the locker room were normally followed quite well.
I went back to Commander’s office, and waited for her to notice me standing in the doorway. She was typing away, likely filing reports.
Eventually, she stopped typing. Her eyes scanned the screen intensely for a moment, then she pushed the keyboard away from her, eyes closed and sighing.
She opened her eyes and saw me leaning in the doorway. “Oh. Ren. It’s good to see you waited for me.”
“Of course. What did you need Commander?” I stood up straight.
“I just wanted to see if you wouldn’t mind just coming over to my house for the night.” She stood up from her desk, and collected a few of her belongings.
“What for? My house is closer than yours is. I’d be able to get to sleep faster, and be ready for work tomorrow better.” I cocked my head at Shelby. I understand she wanted romance, but we both had work tomorrow.
“So? I doubt you’d be sleeping very well anyway. You have schemes to craft and all that. I just thought you’d like a break.” She took my arm and led me out.
“I don’t scheme during the night. Mornings are always fresher and your mind is more active than during those late hours.” Shelby kept her grip.
“Whatever. Just come over anyway. I want to talk to you. You know, as friends. I didn’t feel like waiting for another day off between us. Honestly, we were just sort of lucky that we shared days off those past days we,” Shelby paused while we walked out of the door, “Visited.”
“I don’t think you’re giving me much choice, Shelby.”
“Now you’re catching on.”
Shelby and I walked to her home, with a brisk breeze blowing at our backs. At some point, Shelby released my arm and simply grabbed my hand. Throughout the talk, Shelby was quiet. She didn’t seem dissatisfied, however. After about twenty minutes, we arrived at Shelby’s home.
“You don’t want any dinner, do you?” She asked. Shelby was a much better at keeping guests than Famine. Although, I suppose there’s a reason for that.
“No, I’m fine. Thanks for offering anyway.”
“Alright. I only have my one bed if that’s alright with you. It’s a wide bed, so there’ll be space for you as well.”
“Thanks. It’ll see its use.”
Shelby laughed, and headed upstairs. I followed her.
Shelby was already taking a blanket out of her closet, and making space for me on the bed. “I figured you might like to have a side to yourself, so I’m just setting that up for you really fast.”
I nodded, but Shelby wasn’t looking at me. It didn’t matter, she had already made up her mind. After Shelby had finished making her bed, she hopped onto one side and motioned for me to lay on the other. I did as she wanted.
“Thanks for coming by. I appreciate it.” Shelby laid down on top of her blankets, and looked up at the ceiling. I followed suit, but I made sure to get into my blankets. It was getting colder every night, and I couldn’t really afford to get sick.
“Well, you sort of forced me into this.”
“Are you complaining?”
I considered her question. At first, I thought of saying ‘yes.’ However, I started to realise that I didn’t really regret being here.
“I don’t think I am.”
Shelby giggled a bit. “That’s a surprise. Well, only a little.”
I looked over at Shelby. Her eyes were closed and she was smiling. I wondered what she was so fond of me for.
“Shelby. I have something I need to tell you. I lied to you when I told you about my name. I did have a name, but I stopped using it when I was put into academy. I decided it would show some sort of dedication to the academy, and they would favor me that way. Eventually, I just forgot my name. Years can do that to you.” Shelby’s smile faded into a neutral position after hearing that.
“Yeah. I know you lied. Zoe told me. She was a good friend of mine before I joined the force. She was the one who convinced me it would be worth it. I actually had offered her the Commander position if I died, but she denied. I didn’t ask why; it seemed pretty obvious to me.” Shelby took a deep breath before she went on. “Let me get the lights.”
She got out of bed, turned out the light to her room, then laid back down. “So what got you there?”
“What do you mean?”
“What got you put into Academy? That’s what I mean.”
“Ah. That. I don’t talk about my past before academy. It doesn’t matter.”
Shelby rolled onto her side in order to look at me. “Don’t give me that. You just like to seem dark and mysterious. Tell me.”
“I don’t think you’ll want to hear it.”
“Well, I was half counting on you to make something up anyway, so it doesn’t matter.”
I sighed. This was something I wasn’t going to be able to run away from, was it? Despite my best efforts, here I was again. Maybe it had something to do with my secretive nature. Although, most people are put off by me too much to try to pry.
“I killed my sibling when I was very young. I don’t remember why anymore, but I do remember I drowned him. We were in the tub together, and somehow I had gotten in just enough time to overpower him and ensure he stopped struggling. It wasn’t the noise that attracted me parents, but instead the silence. Once he stopped fighting back, and it wasn’t noisy, that’s when they decided to investigate. Needless to say, I was out of there within moments.”
I held my breath and closed me eyes. I really didn’t want to hear what Shelby had to say next. I think I was afraid of disappointing her, which was a new experience for me.
Her answer rang through the tenuous silence. “That’s a pretty good reason to keep your past a secret. It makes sense, too.”
“So you believe me?”
“And you don’t want to kick me out right now?”
“Not really. You were incredibly young back then.”
“That’s a first.” I exhaled from relief.
“I thought you never told people this story?”
“I don’t. Not anyone besides a court, anyway. That was years ago. I probably wouldn’t have gotten into the police force if Holland hadn’t decided he could use a psychopath on his team.”
Shelby threw her arm over me. “Thanks for telling me that. Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer I call you something besides Ren or Fifteen?”
I considered her question for a moment. “Not really. Names still don’t matter to me. Is there something you’d rather I call you?”
Shelby pulled herself closer to me. I could feel her breath on my shoulder.
“No. Shelby is fine. But I guess I should also tell you that it isn’t my real name, either. My real name is Amanda. I don’t care for it much, so I decided to go by something else. Although, I will say that my choice is a bit smarter than ‘Fifteen.’”
“Thanks for that, Shelby.”
“No problem. Goodnight, Ren.”