We watched as Nyx strode away, with her head down, towards the compound. I felt torn. I knew that I needed to help with the humans, but at the same time I wanted to run and comfort her. What that man had said was horrible and the look on her face when he spoke, the fear and anguish, it broke my heart.
“You should go after her,” Kane said quietly.
I looked up at him for a moment, nodded, and then took off after her. She was already in the compound’s garage when I caught up with her. I watched as she methodically put the armor and rifle away before I walked in.
“Nyx,” I asked cautiously.
“Now’s not a good time, Clarke,” she replied, refusing to turn around.
“I think now’s the perfect time,” I said as I came up behind her and wrapped my arms around her waist.
She stiffened, but didn’t try to get away. Without releasing her, I walked around until we were eye to eye. She had tears running down her face and that anguish I had seen was even more prominent.
“Oh, baby,” I said and pulled her tight against me.
She broke down and started sobbing as she wrapped her arms around me and laid her head on my shoulder. I let her cry herself out, comforting her. When she was calming down, I led her to the hood of the buggy and we leaned against it.
“I jus-, he ju-,” she tried to say through her sniffling.
“Hey, hey, you don’t have to talk about it, okay,” I said gently. “He shouldn’t have done that. He had no right to. But you can’t let what one man says stop you.”
She nodded, “I know, but…”
“No. There are no but’s, Nyx. He knew that you were here. He knew that you were in charge. He came up to you with the intention of hurting you, even if he apologized for it. I know that you had no control over what you saw that day and you acted the way anyone would have acted. You wanted to save your men and your family. He doesn’t know what you saw. He can’t because it was meant only for you. Nyx, you’re more then that one day. Look at all the good that you did before that day. All the good you’ve done since. We’ve all made mistakes.”
“Not everyone’s mistakes cost the lives of dozens,” she whispered.
“Maybe not, but it was still a mistake. You’ve learned from it. I mean, you may not have realized exactly why you saw what you saw, but think about how you helped people by using the same technique. You told me that you’ve manipulated minds to help people move beyond traumatic events. I think that’s rather cool of you.”
“Look at me, Nyx,” I said gently. She refused, so I took her chin and turned her head to me and said, “I love you, Nyx. Regardless of what’s happened in your past. Lexa, Dani, and Scarlett love you. They know what happened and they haven’t turned away from you. They don’t despise you. Even your own sister doesn’t hate you, nor your mother. Those are the people that matter, not some jerk who only wanted to hurt you.”
She smirked at my name calling and I smiled a bit. I wiped the tears away from her face and leaned in, kissing her gently. Her arms wrapped around me tighter as she deepened the kiss.
She laid her forehead on mine and whispered, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, love.”
She cleared her throat and said reluctantly, “I guess we should be getting back.”
“We’ve got time. The council can handle the scheduling and Seph can take care of your men if the need arises. Let someone else take the burden for awhile, hmm?”
She nodded and I stood up, pulling her with me and said, “For once, let someone take care of you.”
Taking her into the house and up to the bedroom, I showed her that I didn’t care about what she’d done or why she did it. I just showed her how much I loved her and cared for her.
I woke sometime later and automatically reached over to where Nyx should have been, but I encountered empty space. Opening my eyes, I saw that she was only sitting up with her knees to her chest and staring out the windows. I took this moment to study the tattoos on her back. Taking center stage was a triskele done using a Celtic knot and in the center of it was a beautifully detailed head of a wolf. It looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it at the moment. Following her spine was an interwoven braid made up of a vine and fire, wrapped around a chain stopping just above her waist. On her left shoulder blade was an image of a woman with her back towards me, walking through a field of wheat with her hands brushing over the sheaves. On her right, a man stood on a rock, his arms spread wide as water split on either side of him. Her left hip was a phoenix rising above smoldering ashes. Her right was blank, but it was marred by what I could only guess was a wolf bite. Each tattoo was beautifully done with such great detail that they must have taken hours to do.
I felt my hand itch to draw her like this, the exposed vulnerability amidst the tempered power of who she was. She quite simply took my breath away and I could understand why Lexa claimed her. Why women wanted her. Why I wanted and loved her. And then she turned her head and smiled at me and time seemed to stop, to allow me to catch an even more amazing image of her.
She lay back down, stretching her full length as she faced me. Still smiling she gently removed my hair away from my face and like a feather, traced it with her fingers.
“Hey,” she said softly.
“Hey,” I returned with a smile. “What were you thinking about?”
“Oh, this and that. Nothing serious. And I was speaking with Lexa, letting her know how this morning went. Touching base with Seph. They’ve hashed out the schedules and guard rotations. Your mom and Jackson reported that there were only bumps and bruises and a couple of broken limbs.”
“Did you tell her about Lincoln?”
“No. There was no need thanks to you,” she said as she leaned over and kissed me, my mouth parting for her.
The kiss deepened and I rolled us until I was on top. Our bodies demanding one another and rejoiced as we came together.
When I woke up this time, I heard her slow beating heart against my ear, her arms holding me loosely, her softness very evident, and the peace she felt in this moment. I wanted to lay like this forever, never losing this moment. Feeling nothing but peace as if everything was alright in the world.
But everything was not all right in this world and our peace shattered as I felt a growl build in her chest. I had barely moved when she shot up and pinned me to the bed, straddling me as her hands wrapped around my throat. Panic struck as I tried to fight her off, but she was too strong. Her eyes were wild as she gave me a feral grin, growls escaping her throat. As her hands tightened around mine, my vision became tinged in black. My voice barely a whisper as I called out her name. Fear pushed my will to live and in a desperate move, I placed my hands against her chest and called my lightning.
She flew across the room and into the wall, crumpling down onto the floor. I rolled off the bed and landing on all fours, I struggled to get air into my lungs as tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t grasp what had just happened. Why had she suddenly snapped and attacked me. Watching her, I got up shakily and hesitantly made my way to our piles of clothes. Searching through them, I finally came across one of the communicators. I quickly backed away from Nyx and hid in a corner.
“Seph,” I croaked around the pain in my throat, “Persephone.”
“Clarke,” she answered, confusion in her throat. “What’s happened?”
“It’s Nyx. Something happened. Get my mom. Hurry, I don’t know how long she’ll stay knocked out.”
“I’m on it,” she said, panic in her voice. “Find someplace to hide and stay quiet. We’re on our way.”
I swallowed making my throat lance with pain as I desperately looked for someplace to hide. I looked behind me and the closet was right there. As quietly as I could, I opened the door and closed it behind me. I felt around me and couldn’t find anything to block the door, so I crawled into a back corner and hid myself under a pile of clothes.
I heard something stir in the bedroom and then the clicking of claws on the hardwood floor. I covered my mouth to try and stifle my breathing. I heard the furniture being moved and crashing against the walls. The glass breaking as something was thrown through them. I felt a scream in my chest, but I swallowed it down. I could hear her sniffing as she came closer to the closet, growls coming from her. I dug myself deeper into the pile as I waited, my heart beating furiously in my chest. I desperately wanted to know why no one was here yet and then I heard the noise I had been dreading, the door slowly opening. I curled myself tighter, squeezing my eyes tight, my breath coming in shallow gasps. She crept closer, sniffing and growling, as I prayed for her to not find me.
The clothes flew off of me suddenly and I screamed in terror as her jaws clamped around my leg. She started dragging me out of the closet and I reached for anything to stop her or pull myself away from her. My hands clamped down on the doorway as I screamed at her to let me go, but she only pulled harder as my fingers began losing their grip.
Just as I lost my grip, the door burst open and Seph rushed in and threw Nyx away from me, ripping my leg open, making me scream. I looked over and saw Nyx trying to move, but Seph was holding her down. Mom rushed in next, ran straight for me and pulled me out of the room.
“Jackson,” Seph yelled. “I can’t hold her down much longer, she’s too strong. You have to put her under, now!”
He ran into the room and I heard a yowl of pain and then silence. Mom had her hand over my leg and was in the process of healing it, when Seph emerged and leaned against the doorframe. When she had caught her breath, she made her way over and kneeled down beside me. She took my head and tilted it to look at my neck.
“Do you know what happened,” she asked, fear and worry in her eyes.
I shook my head because my throat was on fire.
“Here, let me,” Jackson said and Seph got out of the way so that he could heal my throat.
I sighed in relief as the pain in my throat and leg receded. I swallowed experimentally.
“She was asleep and suddenly I could feel a growl in her chest,” I said weakly. “Next thing I know, she had me pinned against the bed with her hands around my throat. I tried to fight her off, but I couldn’t, so I shocked her and threw her across the room. When she woke up, she came after me. Why would she do that?”
“She had a waking nightmare,” mom said as she sat down. “It can happen in soldiers who experience a traumatic event during conflict.”
“She was back at the northern border,” Seph said in horror and then angrily, “It was that bastard, Lincoln. If he hadn’t said anything, this would have never happened.”
“Wait a minute,” mom said, “we don’t know if that was the cause. It could have been something completely unrelated.”
Sephy shook her head, “You didn’t see her face when he told her what she’d done to his family. She actually feared that he was going to kill her. There was so much pain and horror on her face, Abby. It was so bad, that she couldn’t even stay to coordinate everything. That’s why Clarke was here. To help her from doing something stupid.”
One of the men came up the stairs and entered the room. Moments later, he had Nyx cradled in his arms.
“Can we still get into the psych ward,” Sephy asked.
“Yes,” Jackson answered.
“Good,” she said and turned to the man. “Take her there and pump the neurotoxin continuously into the room. It’s the only way to keep her from using her powers.”
He nodded and left.
“What happens if she’s exposed to the toxin for too long,” Abby asked.
“Her powers will remain permanently dormant,” Seph answered sadly. “She’ll be human.”
Octavia appeared with a duffel and said, “I was able to get into your room, Clarke. I’ve brought you some clothes and I’m setting up the bedroom that’s between mine and Nate’s. It’s the safest place I could think of that wasn’t in the bunker.”
“Thank you,” I whispered.
Sephy helped me stand and down the stairs to the room with everyone following us. She guided me to the bed and when I was sitting, everyone left except Mom. She sat down next to me and I turned to her, sobbing. She held and rocked me like she used to when I was little.
I must have cried myself to sleep because I woke up under the covers of the bed. My entire body ached and it was difficult to reach over to the nightstand to turn on the lamp there. Mom had left me something for the pain and a glass of water. I took the medicine and sank back into the bed.
There was a knock on the door and Sephy poked her head through.
“Can I come in,” she asked when she saw that I was awake.
“Sure,” I replied as I sat up and pulled the covers over me.
She came in and sat at the foot of the bed and asked, “How are you?”
“Like my body is just one big bruise,” I said with a weak chuckle.
She nodded, “I’m glad we got there in time. When you called, my heart froze in my chest.”
“I think she would have killed me if you hadn’t gotten there,” I said quietly.
“It would have destroyed her if she had. When she realizes what she almost did, I don’t know what she’ll do. I’m scared for her.”
“So am I. It was like she wasn’t even there, you know. All I saw was rage.”
“I’m sorry that it happened to you, Clarke. What’s messed up is that legally, Lincoln didn’t break any laws so he can’t be punished,” she said as she looked at her knuckles that I now noticed were bruised and bloodied. “So, instead I showed him what it meant to mess with an Allistar.”
I could hear how angry and bitter she was and I didn’t want to press, but I had to know, “How is Nyx?”
“I had to turn off the neurotoxin and pump in sleeping gas. I still can’t reach her. She’s locked in whatever it is she’s created for herself. We’re hoping that when she wakes up, she’ll have enough control to shift back and sane enough not to use her powers to try and escape.”
“God, I can’t even imagine what she must be going through.”
“None of us can. Not even our veterans have come close to experiencing what she’s been through. I had to tell Lexa what happened. She’s sending Indra and Dani in the morning to take over while Nyx recovers, if she recovers.”
“Seph, we have to believe that she will get better, especially for her sake,” I said as I scooted closer to her. “She doesn’t deserve this and we have to keep telling her that she’s forgiven and that this wasn’t her fault until she believes it.”
“I know. It’s just real hard right now. I grew up without her, but what I remember about her…she was the best sister I could have ever asked for even though there’s such a huge age difference. It never bothered her when I would tag along with her and Lexa. She always had time for me. She made time for me. And now I see her like this and I wonder if she’ll ever be the sister I remember.”
“She’s still in there, Seph. What happened on the northern border changed her, but she still fought back to find herself again. I think she’s stronger now than she was, just from living through it and pushing past it. Because of that, she made it her life’s mission to continue to help those in need. With our help, she can get through this too. I’m sure of it.”
“For all our sakes, I hope so. I talked to Ben and Scarlett about what happened. They pretty much told me the same thing. In the beginning, she used to wake up from these nightmares just screaming and it would take them hours to calm her down. She had to take medication to help control it. Eventually, the nightmares tapered off and she stopped taking the medication. Ben said that he hasn’t heard her have a nightmare in at least a year.”
“These things take time. She knew that coming back here might trigger them again and she’s been doing real good about it.”
“Right. We just have to have faith in her.”
She smiled crookedly at me and said, “Faith is all I have.”
“So do I.”
“Thank you for letting me get this off my chest, Clarke.”
“Your welcome and thank you for letting me know.”
“You deserve the right to know. She loves you.”
I gave her a small hug and said, “I love her, too. What time is it?”
Sephy looked at a band on her wrist and replied, “It’s late. I should let you get some rest.”
“Alright, but only if you promise me that you’ll get some too. Real rest.”
She laughed, “I promise. I will get some real rest. I’ll keep you updated about Nyx.”
“Thank you. Good night, Sephy.”
“Night, Clarke,” she said and gave me a hug.
The feeling of hands tightening around my throat and my leg screaming in pain startled me awake as I tried to scream, but no sound came out. I felt tears stream down my face as I fought to bring air into my lungs. My eyes finally flew open and I quickly sat up seeing no one there. I scrambled out of bed and threw myself into the corner, my entire body lighting up like a Christmas tree. My hands flew to my throat as I gasped to breathe, but there was nothing there. Looking down at my leg I could only make out faint lines from where Nyx’s teeth had ripped through it. Sobbing, I could only curl up on myself as fear paralyzed me and lightning skittered across my skin.
The door burst open and I screamed and tucked myself tighter into a ball, trying to make myself as small as I could and prayed that whoever had come through that door wouldn’t find me.
“Clarke,” a frightened voice called out.
I only tried to make myself smaller and quiet my breathing.
I heard cautious steps walk into the room, “Clarke, it’s Octavia. I’m coming in, okay?”
Lightning shot out towards the voice and I heard a yelp and a thud.
“O,” a man’s voice questioned.
“Stay out there, she’s using her power.”
“I’m getting Abby,” he said and I heard footsteps running away.
“Clarke? I need you to calm down, okay? I’m not going to hurt you. I need you to trust me.”
Lightning struck out for her.
“Clarke, it’s okay. I promise. I heard you scream. I’m sorry that I came in the way I did, but it scared me. I only want to make sure you’re okay.”
“Don’t, don’t come any cl-cl-closer,” I stuttered.
“Okay. I’ll stay right here. Will you talk to me, please?”
I shook my head violently.
I heard her sigh and then she said, “Your mom’s on her way, Clarke. I need you to calm down, though. You’re using too much power. If you keep this up, it’s going to drain you, Clarke. Remember what Nyx said…”
At the mention of Nyx’s name, lightning shot out a third time.
“Okay, note to self, don’t say her name,” I heard her mumble to herself.
Octavia didn’t say anything more as we waited. I couldn’t remember what we were waiting for and it confused me, making my lightning surge outward in a small circle and making her yelp in fear.
“Thank god,” she said as footsteps raced to the room.
“Octavia,” a familiar woman’s voice asked.
“Abby, I think she had a nightmare. She screamed, waking me up and I kind of came through the door hard. I can’t get near her. Every time I move, she shoots out lightning. I can feel the power coming off of her, if she keeps this up for much longer, she’s going to start draining her life force,” Octavia explained in a rush.
“Clarke, honey, it’s me. It’s your mom,” the woman, mom, said soothingly.
“Mom,” I said, confused. Why was my mom here?
“That’s right. I’m here,” she said. “I need you to listen to me, alright? You need to stop using your power, sweetie. I can’t come in until you do.”
“Mom,” I said again.
“I’m here, baby.”
“She’s not here, is she?”
“No, she’s not. She’s in the bunker. She can’t get to you,” she replied soothingly.
I started to pull the power back into me, but then I heard footsteps approach and I pushed it back out again, but didn’t shoot lightning in the direction of the sound.
“Baby, I’m just trying to get to you. To make sure you’re okay. Can you let me do that, please,” she begged.
I wanted my mom. Needed her, so with great effort, I pulled in my power. The room automatically darkened now that I wasn’t lighting up the room.
“That’s great, sweetheart,” she said, her voice still soothing. “I’m going to come closer now, okay?”
I didn’t say anything, so she made her way cautiously and telling me exactly where she was to not frighten me. She stopped a few feet from me and knelt on the ground.
“Clarke, I’m going to have Octavia turn on the lights, okay. I need to see.”
I nodded ever so slightly and shut my eyes tight. There was a sudden flooding of light, making me cringe.
“There’s my sweet, baby girl,” she said softly. “Honey, can you look at me?”
I opened my eyes and peaked at her over my knees. She had a soft smile on her face. Seeing that smile and seeing her, relief rushed through me and I lunged at her. She caught me and held me tight. Sobs racked my body as she rocked me gently back and forth and rubbed my back like she used to do when I was little.
“Mom,” I cried out.
“Shh, baby. It’s okay. I’ve got you,” she said soothingly as she worked on calming me down.
My crying subsided and I hiccuped. She continued to hold me until I pushed away from her a bit. I sat back as I looked at her and she moved the strands of hair that covered my face.
“Can you tell me what happened, sweetie,” she asked quietly.
I thought hard as I tried to recall what happened. In flashes, I remembered hands and teeth and I recoiled, but she grabbed and held me tight again.
“It’s alright, Clarke. You’re safe. No one’s going to hurt you. I promise. Do you believe me?”
I nodded against her chest.
Taking a deep breath, I answered her as I stammered, “H-h-hands a-around m-my th-thr-throat. Teeth. P-p-pain in my l-leg, b-b-bad pain.”
“Would you like me take a look?”
I nodded and she gently took my head and lifted it to look at my throat. She let go and extended my leg, turning it slightly. I glanced down at it and only saw light scars from where Nyx’s teeth had been.
She tucked my leg back in and looking up at me with a gentle smile said, “Your neck is healed and so is your leg, sweetheart.”
Looking at her in confusion, I said, “It felt so real.”
“It probably did, but it was only a bad dream,” she replied. “What happened was terrifying and it’s okay to be scared, honey. It’s over now, she can’t hurt you again. We’ve made sure of it.”
“Is she…is she dead,” I asked even though I wasn’t sure which answer I wanted to hear.
She pulled me to her and said, “No, honey. That’s not what I meant. She’s still very much alive, but she’s heavily sedated and locked in the psych ward. She can’t get out.”
“Oh,” I said quietly.
It relieved me to know that she was still alive, but at the same time the feeling of fear crept up my chest. If she’s alive and if she knows that I’m alive, would she try to kill me again. I shuddered at the thought that she might try again.
“Mom,” I asked quietly, “if, if she got out…would she try again?”
“She can’t get out, Clarke.” She answered. “Honestly, we don’t know where her mind’s at. When she wakes up, she could very well still be stuck in the past and not realize that the danger is long past. It’s why she’s locked up and heavily sedated.”
I nodded, “That’s smart.”
“Yes, it is. How are you feeling, now?”
I thought about it and replied, “Confused, hurt, scared. I don’t think I can sleep.”
“I understand. It’s only an hour past dawn, you don’t have to go back to sleep if you don’t want to. I was about to start my rounds to see how our people are responding to the cure. Would you like to come with me and help?”
“I, I think I’d like that, Mom.”
“I’d like that, too. Why don’t you go and wash up. I’ll meet you in the kitchen, okay?”
I nodded and using the bed for support, stood up. Mom did the same and she embraced and kissed my forehead before she left the room, shutting the door with a soft click.
I sat on the bed and took a moment to regain some clarity. Logically, I knew exactly what I had just experienced. I’d been attacked and I was clearly traumatized by it, hence the realness of the dream. I understood that Nyx had a nightmare about what happened and that because of Lincoln’s description of what he witnessed, had brought it forward and made her relive it again to the point that she actually thought she was really there. So, it made sense that when she woke up, she didn’t see me as me, but me as an enemy. That was her reality.
Except in reality, it had been me and not an enemy she was trying to kill. In reality, she would have killed me if Sephy hadn’t gotten there in time. In reality, she has become dangerous to those around her. In reality, I loved and feared her at the same time. In reality, I didn’t know what to do.
I took a deep, shuddering breath and got up from the bed and forced myself to wash up. I had a feeling that I was going to have to force myself to do a lot of things, because all I wanted to do was hide under the covers and never come out again. I couldn’t do that because there were people that relied on me, people that needed me. I couldn’t let them down. I was determined not to let them down.
When I came down into the kitchen, Mom and Octavia were sitting around the breakfast table eating. I went straight to the coffee machine and poured myself a cup, making it the way I liked it. Joining them, Octavia silently slid a bowl of fruit my way. With a silent nod of thanks, I started eating.
Octavia sighed and said, “I am not looking forward to today.”
“Why’s that,” I asked after taking a sip of coffee.
“Seph informed me last night that Lexa is sending two of her people here to oversee their pack members. Indra and Dani,” she replied. “Indra’s the pack leader of the Southern Pack. Seph doesn’t know exactly what Dani does.”
“And you’re worried about what they’ll think of you because you’re new to being a pack leader?”
“That’s an understatement. Indra is an experienced pack leader and a trusted advisor to de Pakstoka according to Seph. Whereas, I am just stumbling around trying not to trip on my own feet.”
“I’m sure they’re aware of the fact that you’re very new to your position,” Mom said. “This may very well be beneficial for you. This Indra may be able to help you understand your role more and maybe let you shadow her while she’s here.”
“God, if she does that I’d willingly be indebted to them forever.”
I chuckled, “Octavia, we’re already indebted to the Forest Pack. They’re letting us stay and lay claim here. I don’t think we could become more indebted than that.”
She lifted a corner of her lips in a smile and replied, “True, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and turn away any help they’re willing to give.”
“That’s a positive attitude,” mom said. “Just don’t let them take over your pack completely or they’ll run roughshod over you. You have to maintain the mindset that this is you’re piece of territory and that they’re just here to help.”
“So, maintain authority while at the same time learning from them.”
“Right,” mom said and then asked me, “Clarke, honey, are you about ready to go?”
I looked down at my bowl of fruit and seeing I was nearly through and replied, “Yeah, I think I’m done. I’m really curious to see how everyone is doing.”
She smiled and replied, “Then let’s get going, shall we?”
I smiled in return and we left the compound for the bunker.