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So here I am again. Alone in the quiet.

It's not a bad thing, I like it in here. Sometimes I just feel like I spend a bit too much time buried in this studio by myself. It's just that... I don't have much else to do.

I used to help out Cutter with some of the simple mechanical things that needed to be fixed. I still do, sometimes, but since Tasmin has gotten interested, and she's faster and better at it than I am, I've sort of become superfluous.

I'm too old to play with the kids and too young to be an adult. Oh, there are new members coming in all the time, but to be honest -- they frighten me a little. It's a little strange to have been raised in a den of thieves, even killers, in some cases (always by necessity though, not for fun), and still feel sheltered.

But I am sheltered, and sometimes I think it's not such a good thing. Most of the time, though, I think I'd rather be naïve. There are just as many things I'm happier not knowing.

So I find myself spending more and more time painting. Just paining. Faces, mostly, but I paint other stuff sometimes too when it strikes me. Right now I have a picture pinned to my easel, and I'm painting that. It's a beautiful old tree. Not too many of those around anymore, since the Occupation. But I don't like to think about that. I don't remember too much. It was messy, and smelly, and I was scared and hungry a lot. Daddy was there, but his eyes were scary. I wasn't afraid of him, but I think, if I'd understood enough, I would have been afraid for him. I don't remember much, but I remember those eyes. I'm glad Daddy doesn't make those eyes anymore.

Alex does, though. It's a little worrisome, but then, I don't really get Alex. Sometimes I feel like he doesn't know why I exist. Like he'd just as soon I went away. I don't know why... it's just a feeling.

Well. I don't paint Alex's eyes.

Painting is fun, I like it. It's neat to see what I can do with globs of oil and pigment. Kind of like fixing things, putting things together, but prettier. I don't really paint for myself, though. I like doing it, but it's not a love of art or anything... it's a love of the process, maybe, but I don't think I'm really an artist, like Tam is. I'm not an artist the way Kai is a poet, or the way Sparky is a hacker, or the way Milantha is a historian. A painter, but not an artist. I just... like to see people. I paint for the people I care about, because it makes them happy, and it makes me feel close to them, just for a little bit at least.

Maybe that's why the lonelier I am, the more time I spend in here.

Not today, though. Today, I'm just painting trees.


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