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The Smallest of Things

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Cassie's a smart mouthed kid with attitude the size of Havana, and for a long time, that was all Nick saw. Sometimes she would roll her eyes so hard he was seriously afraid an eyeball would pop out on the floor and he'd step on it. She stole his food from under his nose, she left her shit everywhere, and she was the biggest pain in the ass he had ever met.

And fuck it if she hadn't wormed her way so thoroughly into his life that she couldn't be pried out with a crow bar.

When he comes back to wherever they're living at the time, she's generally sprawled out over the sagging couch with her legs in ripped tights tossed over the arm rest and her markers all over the place. When he's there with her at their current little crap hole of a hotel, she's constantly talking, shoving her drawings in his face, and leaving the bathtub tile splashed with weird colors from her experiments with hair dye. When he takes off for a while, she's yelling after him to pick her up something to eat and for god's sake, Nick, duck when the lady with the fish smiles or don't turn left after dinner, dumb ass.

Which makes about as much sense as any of her visions, and she never even bothers to pretend that she isn't laughing at him when he walks back in covered in red paint or smelling like fish guts because he didn't understand the warning.

Nick's given up trying to label her. He'd tried calling her his little sister once , but that only got him a snort and an eye roll and a pointed remark about how she had overheard enough of his pornographic dreams to know that you don't tell your sister to suck it, baby, harder. She lowered her voice in an attempt to imitate him and blown him an over exaggerated kiss, and hell, she was annoying enough to be a little sister, no matter what she was doing in his dreams.

Besides, he had pornographic dreams about the half naked statue in the pathetic little fountain outside their last hellhole the other night, so what the heck does Cassie know about it?

But honestly, it's not like anybody but him cares what he calls her. Cassie just raises an eyebrow on the rare occasion anyone asks what they are to each other and rattles off something from the top of her head, like she's his muse, he's the love of her life, or she's really his second cousin from Toledo. The string of landlords and desk clerks at the hotels they suffer through don't care if she is his cousin or his under aged mail order bride from Russia so long as their money looks real and they don't bitch too much about the roaches or the water leak over the bed. Although they had gotten the honeymoon suite in at least one crap place because Cassie had been wearing her mini skirt and leaned over the desk with her ass in the air. Which led to Nick's insistence that she not take off on one of her solo jaunts while they were there, because creepsters who got off on a 14 year old's ass could only lead to bad news.

They settled into a weird sort of mostly happy life after the whole initial mess with Division. Nick had figured Cassie would pop up with another indecipherable drawing about Division or her mother and would either drag him into it or take off on her own. He kept feeling surprised whenever she wandered back in through the door and flopped down on his bed while helping herself to his dinner, but she hadn't taken off. Instead, she ended up moving in, shoving her way through the door with a ratty backpack and a complaint about waking up with a mouse in her hair.

They end up hopping from hotel to hotel and city to city across most of Asia and then onto Europe when Cassie has a slew of visions about card games and gambling and pesters Nick into playing with a local gang. Which ends up with them having to sneak off in the middle of the night with money stuffed into Cassie's boots and Nick's underwear. She bitched about paper cuts on her ankles for hours after they finally managed to hitch a ride on a crappy tourist trap of a yacht where there was no free booze. They spent way too many hours in a cramped little nook Cassie had found. It was probably a good thing she wasn't his sister at that point, as they were squeezed way too close together for Nick to be able to ignore Cassie's barely there chest and his body's obvious response to it. Cassie had rolled her eyes and made a smart ass remark, but her ears had turned red and she had shifted away as far as she could and abruptly changed the subject. It's one of the only times she actually acted her age, so Nick hadn't even teased her about it.

Cassie sits around and draws mostly, occasionally disappearing and popping up hours later with a smirk or an irritated frown but nothing but a too innocent look when he asks where the hell she's been. She tends to come home with money or booze, or once, a live chicken she insists on naming Daisy. Nick finally gives up on keeping tabs on her and figures she can handle herself just fine if she's been on her own since she was ten. Nick rigs games of dice when he can, steals food when he can't, and tries not to trip over her boots or the damned chicken when he's home. He still hasn't figured out how she always has hair dye to hand when half the time there's nothing in the fridge but an empty cartoon of milk and a mysterious puddle of something he's pretty sure they've never eaten.

Cassie just shrugs whenever he brings up Kira or Division, says she hasn't seen anything, but he's seen the way her mouth turns down funny when she says it, and Nick's betting she just can't figure out what she's seeing yet. She has a bunch of drawings she keeps tucked in a notebook that she'll scatter all over the floor and pour over sometimes, but when he asks about them, she just shakes her head. He knows they probably aren't done with Division, not with the mess they brought down and the fact that Cassie's mom and Kira are still all caught up in it somehow.

But that will come. Or they'll get thrown out of this place when Nick pushes the creepy landlord into the opposite wall for grabbing Cassie's ass, or they'll pick up and leave, chicken tucked under Cassie's jacket, when she draws the next hotel. Whatever. They've handled it so far, and Nick figures they'll keep going until Division grabs them, or Cassie draws something that makes sense and they spring her mom, or they finally catch up with Kira

If it's a crappy hotel or crappy apartment when they're somewhere longer than a week, it doesn't matter. He'll deal with tripping over her boots and her dying his hair blue and her insistence that she doesn't kick in her sleep. He'll put up with a chicken pecking his toes and her eight thousand markers and her tendency to use his arm as a pillow. Nick figures she's worth the hassle. Even though he can almost see her rolling her eyes at the thought.

END