The girl- Dulcie, held out her hand for a while. Aiden just stared blankly at her face before she broke the silence by letting out some nervous laughter and gently taking his hand in her own.
"Do you know how to shake hands?"
Aiden sputtered, then laughed and shook her hand. "Sorry, I'm just kinda... in shock."
Dulcie let go of his hand and smiled.
"Of course you are. Everyone is. You're not the first, and I doubt you'll be the last. He nodded. "Yeah, how often to people come here?"
"Not particularly often. It's the cause of some talk when it does happen, after all this things been running for twelve years and we only have like, a hundred members."
Aiden smiled. He had so many questions running through his mind, and Dulcie could see that.
"I'll answer all your questions once my brother gets here."
"You have a brother?"
"Yup! His name's Pollux. We were kind of surprises, because mom and dad didn't look at the ultrasound and we're twins. Our parents had names picked out for a boy and a girl, and according to my brother, Dulcie and Pollux mean 'sweet' in whatever."
She paused for a minute.
"Am I talking too much?"
Aiden shook his head. "No."
"That's good," Dulcie laughed. "If joining a rebellion and fighting against the Catago is sweet, then I'm the sweetest, and so is Pollux."
As she finished talking and Aiden's laughter died down, someone entered the room.
"Speak of the de- you're not Pollux."
Rico laughed as Dulcie flushed red with embarrassment. "No, I'm not. Anyway, Dulcie..." It was clear he was trying not to smile. "Could you not hit Curtis? Or swear at him?"
Dulcie smiled, a little uneasy.
Rico discreetly- but good-naturedly rolled his eyes. "Not very hard, though, see you!"
He laughed as he left, and Aiden heard a cheery voice say, "Hey, Rico."
Dulcie brightened. "Pollux! Over here!"
"I'm aware, Dulcie."
Aiden smiled and turned to face the boy who'd just entered the room. He was definitely Dulcie's brother.
He had ginger hair as well, though it was a lighter shade than Dulcie's, but they had the same eyes, skin, and freckles.
Pollux sat down and invited Dulcie and Aiden to do the same.
"Okay," Pollux said with a smile. "Questions first." He glanced at Dulcie to make sure she agreed.
She did, and both Pollux and Dulcie turned to Aiden with a smile.
Aiden shut his eyes, trying to think. "Rico seems awfully young. Like, young enough to be my brother."
Pollux answered. "I was expecting that. You see, this whole thing was started twelve years ago, by Rico's father. Bryson-"
"Let me finish. Bryson was second-in-command. If needed, he'd be leader. We weren't expecting Rico's dad to suddenly die, so Rico became leader when he was only sixteen."
Aiden paused. "Is Bryson still second-in-command?"
Dulcie nodded. "Yup. I'm honestly hoping that Bryson won't become leader. Bryson's great- you'll meet him soon, but I don't want Rico to die or step down."
Aiden nodded. "How do you stop the ravens from delivering messages to the wrong people?"
"They're taught," Dulcie answered simply.
Aiden paused for a minute. "People will want to know where I am. How will you stop them from reporting me missing to the Catago and tracking me down?"
Dulcie frowned. "Are you well known?"
"No. I think only the orphanage knows I exist."
The redhead smiled reassuringly. "Then I don't think it'll be much of a problem. The orphanage will report you missing, I'm sure, but we have spies. They pretend to be Catago, but they're really Ravens. The Catago are the only ones who have access to the records of the world, I'm sure the spies will waste no time in removing you from the records."
Aiden nodded. There was something nagging at him, but he couldn't place what it was.
Pollux spoke. "Do you mind if I ask you a couple questions?"
"Yeah, I mean, no," he shook his head. "Ask away."
"How old were you? When your parents..." He didn't finish his sentence. He didn't have to.
"Two," Aiden said quickly.
Pollux nodded. "Why weren't you adopted?"
Aiden tilted his head to the side. "It wasn't an orphanage, really. Everyone called it that, but it was more a temporary home, until we were eighteen or so. Then we'd move out."
Dulcie interjected with a question of her own. "Who's the head?"
"Ms. Carr. Well, we can call her Ms. Carr, Ada, or mom."
"What do you call her?" Pollux asked.
Aiden shrugged. "Ms. Carr or Ada. I don't think I've ever called her mom, she's never been that to me, really."
The twins went silent at that.
"Sorry about Curtis," Dulcie said quietly. "He's really not that bad, just..."
"Impulsive?" Pollux tried.
Dulcie nodded. "Yeah. Impulsive."
She sighed. "Sorry for my outburst, I suppose I'm impulsive too."
Pollux shot his sister an amused glance. "Did you swear at him?"
"Did you hit him?"
The door creaked open and Aiden just about jumped out of his skin.
"Sorry about that," Rico sighed, shutting the door behind him. "That thing's always been a tad creaky."
He watched the door intently, as if it could swing open at any moment.
"Well?" He faced Aiden now, one hand on the door. "Are you ready yet?"
Aiden gave the older man a perplexed look. "What? Ready for what?"
Rico sighed. "You seriously didn't tell him?" Rico asked, now looking at the twins. Dulcie shook her head. "Nah, that's always been your department."
Rico chuckled. "Fair enough. It is my idea, so..."
He walked over to the small group and gestured for Aiden to stand.
"Every time a new member arrives, I treat them to a normal day. We eat at a restaurant of the member's choosing. I'll buy them one or two luxury items. Things like that."
"Why?" Aiden recoiled when he realised how jerky the question sounded. A guy says he'll buy you food and nice things and you ask 'why?'
"I mean," he caught himself.
"Why spend money on people who are practically strangers? They're not poor, not starving... why?"
Rico relaxed. He'd tensed up a little at how Aiden put his question at first.
"New members need to experience a normal day." His face darkened.
"It's the last one they'll be experiencing for a long time."