Angela awoke to a gentle touch on her hair. Her eyes fluttered open, and she found herself looking into Lezvie’s eyes, only inches from hers.
She jumped back, heat rising in her cheeks. “How’re you feeling?”
“I’ve been better.” He grinned. “I’ve been worse, too.”
“Good. Good.” She let her hair fall in her face to hide her blush. “I’ll just, uh… Go get some breakfast.”
Angela slipped out and ducked around a corner, leaning against a wall and letting out a long, shaky breath. “Why does he keep doing that to me?”
Footsteps drew her attention, and she looked down the hall to see Ruth, carrying a tray. “He’s awake, I take it?”
“Yeah, he is. Listen, Ruth…”
The redhead paused. “Yes?”
“Who is Lezvie? I mean, where did he come from? What’s his goal?”
Ruth chuckled. “That is such a long story, and I don’t even know all of it. He doesn’t talk much about his past.”
“What about his present? What can you tell me about him?” Angela chuckled, half to herself. “I’ve traveled with him for months, but he’s almost as much a mystery as when I first met him.”
“As with all of us.” Ruth chuckled as well. “He’s a good man, though, so none of us pry too deeply.”
“That makes sense, I suppose.” Angela nodded. She followed Ruth back into Lezvie’s room, where he lay in his bed.
“I see you two have met. Been swapping stories?”
Angela took the tray from Ruth and set it on Lezvie’s beside table. “You’re impossible, you know that?”
He grinned. “You keep telling me that.”
Ruth quietly withdrew, leaving Angela and Lezvie alone.
As he ate, Angela sat quietly, thinking. When he finished, she asked, “Lezvie… Will you tell me about yourself? Where you came from?”
Lezvie looked at her, setting his tray aside. “What brought this on?”
“No one knows anything about you.” She shrugged. “I just want to know.”
“All right.” He shifted on the bed, patting it. “It’s a long story, so you should sit down.”
She sat down on the bed, then leaned back, laying against him.
He put an arm around her, and then he began to spin his tale.
“I was born in California. My hair was white even then.” He twirled a lock of his hair between his fingers. “As you can imagine, it set me apart from the other kids. I tried to emulate characters in Japanese anime; they were the only people I knew that had white hair.
“I studied martial arts of several kinds, including weaponized. That’s why I can do what I do with my blades. It also somewhat isolated me, so I studied. The only real company I had was my family and a few people I had met online that stopped by from time to time.”
Angela looked up at him. “Tell me about your family.”
“There were five of us: my father, my mother, my big sister Katie, my little brother Matt, and myself. My dad was a mechanic, and Matt was following in his footsteps. Literally. He’d stick to my dad like a shadow whenever he worked on a car. Mom was a mythology teacher. Japanese mythology. That’s another reason I got so into the way of the ninja and things like that.
“And Katie…” He smiled fondly, remembering. “Katie was the all-around perfect one. Principal’s honor roll, captain of the women’s volleyball team, black belt in martial arts, the works. It’s mostly thanks to her that I succeeded as well as I did.”
He chuckled faintly. “I won so many awards in martial arts and academic achievements, that between me and Katie, they covered every wall of my house. None of that matters anymore, of course…
“When the invasion came, I was hand-picked by the United Resistance to be part of a crack team to resist the aliens. I got my knives on our first mission. After that, we were much more capable of resisting them. Only the aliens’ own weapons could penetrate their armor.”
He let out a heavy sigh. “And then came the operation that destroyed our world. We carried out a strike on one of the alien ground bases. It was the first time we managed to fully destroy one of their bases. And it provoked them.
“They decided Earth wasn’t worth the cost they were paying for it. But neither could they just give up. We’d eventually develop space flight and become a threat. So they Glassed the planet.” His head fell back on the pillow, and a tear ran down his cheek. “We caused the Glassing. We killed seven billion people, and reduced the few millions that remained to savages.”
Angela wiped the tear away, resting her head on his chest. “It wasn’t your fault, Lezvie. You only did what you had to. The aliens killed those people. If you hadn’t fought them, they would have just taken over.”
He exhaled slowly. “My family survived the invasion, and the glassing. But not a month after the glassing, they were attacked by raiders. My father and brother were the lucky ones. They died quickly.”
She rested her head on his chest, putting her arms around him. “I’m sorry.”
Lezvie rested one hand on the back of her head. “That’s why I fight so hard against the raiders. As though I can make up for losing my family by making sure no one else loses theirs.”
“So that’s why I felt like I could trust you, back when we first met. I could feel that conviction.”
“You’re the first person I’ve ever told.” He grinned faintly. “Feel special.”
“I do. Believe me, I do.”