The words hung harshly in the air for a moment before Leyla shook her head, glaring at the door. "You knew that." He seemed to know everything. "The virus killed her when I was a toddler." Now, Leyla barely remembered her.
If his plan was to distract her with all of this idle chatter, it wasn't working. She hadn't forgotten that he was, currently at least, effectively her enemy, and that she was little more than a prisoner.
"Listen, you have what you want. Why keep me here?" She understood taking the money. Everybody wanted money. He apparently didn't need to marry her to get his hands on that- so why was he even bothering with her?
"I am cursed." Elijah nodded, crushing the tip of the smoke stick into his aged palm. Yes, he'd known all about her mother. He'd been there when she'd died, when everyone had been in mourning. He'd been there for her service. Burials weren't his thing, but he'd been part of the family for a long time.
Leyla leaned her head against the wall. "You've got a funny way of convincing people to help you," she said dryly. At that moment, she was glad he was cursed. It seemed like he deserved it, if he treated everyone the way he was treating her. He didn't seem like much more than a bully.
"Of course, I don't expect my words to convince you." Elijah messed with his pocket knife as he lounged back in his chair, really needing to sleep. But he would not rest until he was certain that the hotheaded girl wouldn't slit his throat while he slept. Or put a bulle through his skull.
Leyla rolled her eyes. "Let's say I do believe you," she answered, drumming her fingernails against the barrel of her handgun. "Let's just say you're cursed. What reason could I possibly have for wanting to break that, now?" She'd been cursing him herself for the better part of an hour, now. He hadn't exactly made friends.
"It's a handsome bargain." Elijah coughed softly. "You break this curse, and I'll give you control over your accounts, give you back your home, and then I'll disappear from your life and never bother you again. How does that sound?" He knew she'd want all that. All she had to do was comply and help him figure out how to break this damn curse.
For a minute, there was silence. Leyla wasn't going to believe a word out of this man's mouth. "I would agree to that if I had any more faith in this agreement than I have in the one you shattered to pieces," she answered levelly. The last deal she'd found herself involved with involving this snake had gotten her into this mess in the first place, and she wasn't at all convinced that she wouldn't end up backstabbed over this proposal as well.
Elijah cut the video and went back to the maps he had up, thinking of where he could go for more supplies and information. His informants were dwindling, as families liked to migrate whenever there was an alert of danger. He kept his informants limited to children and women, the only cunning creatures left in the world.
Leyla didn't move from the room she was in, though she did take a few hours to find and disable his camera. Brooding in the corner, sitting on her cot, she stared at the door. For years, she had told herself she was carrying on her father's work, but now- now she didn't know what to think. Her father had put her into this situation just as much as Eli had.
She had nothing left to do but simmer until nightfall.
At nightfall, the door to Leyla's storage room opened and the lights flickered on so Elijah could see Leyla's face, and she his. He pulled off his hood to reveal the young face of his 15 year old self. He took out a small smoke stick and lit it as he gazed at her with his piercing dark eyes.
Leyla lowered her gun, raising an eyebrow. A curse? It was a curse in his eyes to become a young, energetic, non-arthritic teenager every night? "That must be hard on you," she said dryly. "Puberty is such an awful curse." Honestly, she was surprised that he didn't just sleep all day like the old man he was, and leave all of his work to the nights.
"You're so witty." Elijah's tone was just as dry as he stared down at her, leaning against the door. "The old man and the kid you see isn't me. I am older than you, but not to the point of being senile." He'd been this way for many years, and had been waiting for figure out the puzzle. When he'd deciphered it at long last, he'd come back for Leyla.
Leyla settled back against the wall, watching him quietly. "So you think I can fix all of this," she answered, waving a hand at him in general. In exchange for her help, he would give her what was technically hers to begin with, or so he said. "You said you had insurance for me." She had no reason to trust him to keep his word on this bargain.
"I just gave it to you." Only few people knew of his condition, and it was the only proof Leyla needed as insurance. What else did she expect him to give? She acted awfully entitled. "Take it or leave it." He didn't have to deal with her, but he wanted out of this curse. If she didn't agree to help him, he'd make do.
Leyla stared at him. Did he think she was stupid? So she knew about this curse, and if she did manage to break it, she would know that he had had it. He would be free, and he would still have all of her accounts- what would stop him from just running off? His 'insurance' wasn't any reassurance at all.
"I suppose I don't have a choice."
Refusing to help him wouldn't do her any good whether or not he would keep his promises. "What do I have to do?"