I stared at Nic sitting there with a smug expression on his face, his eyes poised like fists ready for a little boxing. "Of course it would seem so to you, Doctor. You don't have any experience in the 'sacrificing for other people' department."
"Ooh, you have the theology of your father and the wit of your brother."
I didn't respond right away. So he just fired again, "I'd hate to have had to deal with your mother. She was probably the worst of all of you."
And right then and there I started crying.
I stood there watching his wry, gleeful smile. He enjoyed watching me fall apart under him. Well, if that was what he wanted, he wouldn't have it.
"Yes, Nic," I sniffed my way through the words. "She was the worst of all of us. She loved other people too much to let them live without the truth. She cared to much about the truth the let other people take it away from her. She cared to much about us to let us be taught anything but the truth.
"But as for you," I went on, "You wouldn't care about the difference between the truth and a lie. You would just feed off of lies if it would help you get control of your petty world of weapons and hate. The only lie you would ever care about would be your science."
"Exactly. Because science is truth."
"No. Science is what you think. Science is you thinking you can take control over everything. But you can't. Only God can."
I was done with it, but Nic wasn't. "No, Philadelphia. I can. I don't care what you say about God or truth or justice or anything. Just let me have my science, and I will finally be in control."
I was still done. I sat down back on my little bed mat and didn't look behind me. Nic merely sat there, looking at the fire.
Eventually I heard Nic snoring again, and after looking briefly to be sure he didn't fall in the fire. Then I started trying to crawl over to my daddy. He had slept enough.
I was almost over there when I stumbled over an extra body. It was Ephesus.
"Ow. Watch it sister."
"What's got you moving around."
"I was looking for Daddy. I think he fell asleep praying in the corner."
"What's that catch in your voice?"
"That's talking to Doctor Nic."
"You talked to that..."
"Watch it, Ephesus."
"That lovable gentleman with agnostic predispositions?"
"Yes. He caught me awake... and he's hard not to talk to."
"And he makes little girls cry."
"Well he does make me cry, anyway. Sometimes."
"How'd he do that, Phil?"
"He... he said something about mom."
"Well you go talk to Dad, then, Philli. He's better at comforting. I'll do the talking to Nic when it needs to be done. I've worked with him before. Don't listen to another word you don't want to, even if he says the house is on fire."
I hugged my brother tightly for a short moment. He was such a good protector when he could. When our family was together, there wasn't anything that anyone could do.
Then the lights came on. Stanyard was probably coming down.