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When Fire Meets Fate

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That night was the first time I experienced Nyx having a nightmare. She woke up screaming in the middle of the night and it took hours to calm her down enough to let her get some more sleep. We were both exhausted by morning and she kept apologizing to me.

“Nyx, you don’t have to keep apologizing,” I said around a yawn as she made breakfast. “We knew this was going to happen eventually.”

“I know, but I feel bad about it,” she said looking at me. “I had forgotten how bad they could be.”

“Hey,” I said as I came up and hugged her from behind. “It’s okay. We’ll get through this.”

She nodded, but her mood stayed melancholic. When the food was ready, we sat at the table and I checked my messages.

“Damn,” I said. “Jax was killed last night.”

“What happened,” she asked, looking at the screen.

“There was apparently a scuffle last night and another human killed him trying to grab his pack. The others stopped him, but it was too late to try and save him.”

She looked up at the wall where their cameras were still playing and unmuted the sound. They weren’t saying much, just hurrying down the streets and keeping an eye out. There were more people out at this time of day. We watched as people avoided them, knocked into them, and even a woman with a child saw them and quickly crossed the street in fear. It was a little hard to watch so I returned to my meal.

Nyx continued to watch as she ate her meal, frowning at what she saw.

“What are you thinking,” I asked curiously.

She seemed startled and looked at me a little surprised, but replied, “Um, it’s this perspective. It’s slightly unnerving to watch. From a human perspective, you know? There is so much hate and disdain coming from the Apex. I realized that I probably looked at them the same way. I never even considered how they felt at their treatment, but now I am.”

“Does this mean you’re starting to like humans?”

“I don’t know, but I think I’m starting to sympathize with what they go through. What we consider normal behavior isn’t always the right kind of behavior, I think. I mean they’ve only been in the city maybe 24 hours and two of them have already been killed, it’s sad.”

“This is hard to watch,” I said. “It’s not because I grew up with these people, I grew up believing I was human. If I wasn’t an Apex, that could be me. I seriously doubt you’d have given me the time of day, if that were the case.”

She looked at me thoughtfully and said, “You’re right, I wouldn’t have. I may have noticed how beautiful you are, but I wouldn’t have cared if you lived or died. Plus, you wouldn’t have been allowed in the bar.”

“That says a lot about how Apex are raised.”

“I guess it does,” she said falling back into silence.

I reached over and muted the sound again and glanced one last time at the screens.

“Nyx, are you feeling alright,” I asked concerned over her mood.

She gave me a crooked smile and said, “Probably not. Nightmare, lack of sleep, and watching this isn’t a conducive environment to being in a good mood.”

“Wanna try and get some more sleep?”

She sighed and looked around the room and said, “I guess I should, but you should too. You’re just as tired as I am.”

“Maybe I will, but I’d like to take a walk first. Are you okay with that?”

She frowned as she thought about it, “Not really, but if you really feel like a walk, then you should take a walk.”

“What if I got you a tranq stick? That would help you sleep deeply and you might not be disturbed by your nightmares.”

“Yeah, that sounds good, just not four x dosage. That knocked me out nearly all day.”

“Two x?”

She nodded, “Yeah, that sounds good. I’m in my human form, so it shouldn’t burn off nearly as quickly as it would when I’m in my wolf form.”

I leaned over and kissed her and whispered, “Okay. I’ll let Jackson know and maybe he’ll give us a few so that you can rest easier.”

“How about we use them only if I can’t sleep or the nightmares are bad?”

“Deal.”

“Thank you,” she whispered to me and pulled me in for a deeper kiss.

I got ahold of Jackson and was soon in possession of four tranq sticks. Nyx settled into the bed and injected herself with one. I stayed with her until she fell asleep. I moved the hair off her face and gave her a kiss on her forehead. Her mouth quirked in a small smile before it went slack.

I left the room and strolled towards Mom’s and Jackson’s office. Mom was sitting behind the desk when I knocked on the door.

Mom looked up and a smile lit her face, “Clarke, what a pleasant surprise. Did you need something?”

I shook my head and came in, “I was wondering if any of them were showing signs of developing powers.”

“As a matter of fact, there’s a few. Want to see for yourself?”

“Please.”

She brought up a total of five scans and zoomed into the sections. They were weak, but showed a definite spark. It was too soon to tell their powers, but you could tell there were three werewolves.

I leaned back in the chair and said thoughtfully, “You know it’s interesting, Mom, that there are more werewolves than mages.”

“Why is that interesting,” she asked currently.

“Well, when we did the brain scan on the people who hadn’t been affected by the toxin, we had 13 werewolves and only 9 mages.”

“Do you think it means anything?”

“It could. Since we’re in werewolf territory, the cure is trying to create enough werewolves to make a bigger pack.”

“How can a cure do that? That doesn’t make sense.”

“It does if you consider that Mother Earth could be manipulating the mutations. She is the original creator of the Apex, after all.”

“I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that this is all real. That Mother Earth actually exists,” she said shaking her head in disbelief.

“Well, it’s hard to ignore the fact when you can do this,” I said and created a small ball of lightning in the palm of my hand. “On top of the fact that the pack can communicate with Mother Earth.”

I let the ball fade back into my hand as my mother looked on in awe.

She cleared her throat and asked, “How is Nyx doing?”

I sighed and replied, “She had her first nightmare last night. We were up a very long time before she could calm down to get some more sleep. I had to tranq her just so she could get some solid rest.”

“You had to tranq her?”

“Yeah, it was the only way I could get out of there for a little while. We only used a double dose though.”

“You know it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better,” she said worried.

“I know, Mom. I just hope that I’m up for it.”

“You can always ask the others to help, too, if you need to take a break from keeping an eye on her.”

I smiled wanly, “Only if Nyx allows it. Right now, she only trusts me.”

She frowned, “That’s not good, either. She needs to let the others back into her life.”

“She has to a point,” I replied. “She speaks to them telepathically if they search her out or her them. Or she calls them up on the computer. She’s not keeping them out of the loop and ignoring them completely.”

“Still, you’ve got to start letting them into the room so she can adjust being around them. It’s not always a good plan to continue to isolate herself.”

I nodded, “I’ll talk to her about it. Mom, I better get going. I want to walk around for a bit more before I try to get some sleep of my own.”

“Alright, sweetheart. Just remember that if you need to take a step back there are other people who would be willing to step in.”

“Thanks, Mom. I’ll see you later,” I said and left the office.

She had given me something to think about that honestly, I had forgotten I could do. It would be nice to have some more solid help, but it was something that I had to discuss with Nyx before I could ask them. And really, it was only one nightmare for now. We’d see over time just exactly how bad it was.

I walked into the sunlight and shaded my eyes until they could adjust. I walked around heading towards the fields and the new greenhouses. Walking into one was like walking into fields of crops. I ran my hands gently over the new stalks as I walked through it. The earth mages were hard at work and I watched as the pack members taught ours in how to efficiently use their powers. Monroe looked around and when she saw me, smiled and waved. I waved back, but didn’t walk over to her. She needed to concentrate and I was glad that she found something that let her feel good about herself.

Next, I headed over to the compound. Mainly, because it was habit. I entered it and headed straight to the back yard. Stepping out, I noticed that there were a lot of things going on at once. Some of the wolves were working out on the obstacle course as others were learning to use their powers while in their wolf form. Mages were working on efficiency and target practice. I watched a little bit of that and was mildly impressed at how well they seemed to be doing. I saw Dani over by the obstacle course and made my way over to her. I felt we needed to have a conversation about the other day.

She apparently had a bit of sixth sense because she turned towards me as I started walking across. She looked about like she was looking for someplace to hide, but when she couldn’t find one, she walked over and we met in the middle.

“Hey, Clarke,” she said shyly.

“Hi,” I replied. “Can we talk?”

She nodded looking a little worried, but I smiled at her as we walked back to the house.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to yell or anything,” I said to reassure her. “I just want to understand the other day.”

“Oh, okay,” she said looking out of the corner of her eye at me. “Look, I’m really sorry that I did that out of the blue. It’s just that I can’t seem to get you out of my mind.”

“Really,” I said, intrigued. “Come on, let’s head up to my room.”

“You sure that a good idea?”

“It’s the only place where we’ll have privacy, Dani.”

She nodded and said, “Okay.”

We walked up to my room in silence. When we got to my room, I warded the door and she looked at me with renewed worry.

“To keep people out,” I replied. “And to keep you from bolting like you usually like to do.”

“Oh,” she said and sat in the chair by the desk.

I sat on the bed and crossed my legs so that I was sitting fully on the bed.

I looked at her, but she couldn’t look me in the eyes.

“Can you tell me the why behind the kiss?”

She blushed a scarlet red before she glanced at me and quickly back down. She sighed and said, “It’s just that I couldn’t take it anymore. Like I said, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you. The more I’m here, the greater the pull towards you. I’m visiting the barracks nightly trying to curb what I really want to do.”

“Which would be to sleep with me,” I said.

She nodded, “I know how it sounds, but I just had to kiss you. I think it was a mistake to do that, because it makes it even harder to control myself.”

“I had a conversation with Nyx about what happened.”

“Oh,” she said looking up at me. “What did she say? She’s not mad at me, is she?”

I shook my head and smiled, “No, she understands and is quite comfortable with it.”

She visibly relaxed and said, “I’m glad. I was worried that I put a wedge between you two.”

“No, she surprised me really. She took it like it wasn’t a really big deal and told me it was frequent to have multiple partners even if you’re in a committed relationship with someone.”

She grinned sardonically, “She would. She’s always been so chill when it comes to things like that. Honestly, Lexa is too.”

“Really? They seem to be quite the pair, don’t they?”

“You have no idea. Even after they claimed one another, they always welcomed me into their bed if I wanted to.”

“Did that surprise you knowing that they were planning to spend the rest of their lives together?”

“A little, but it spoke volumes about them. They knew that I was a little hurt that neither one of them wanted to claim me too.”

“So, they gave you the next best thing.”

She smiled, “Yeah, they did. We were inseparable as kids and our affection grew with one another.”

“Nyx made it seem like you made a habit of grabbing women and kissing them.”

She blushed, “I may have done that a few times when I wanted to steal a moment.”

“With them?”

“Yeah, it usually turned into more than just a kiss. I knew that I couldn’t do that with you, though. I figured you’d have a hard time understanding that this is natural for us.”

I nodded, “It is hard to understand, but I’m beginning to.”

“Oh,” she replied hopefully.

I chuckled, “Yes. She helped me understand that what I was feeling towards you was natural. That it was okay to be attracted to other women even though I’m with her.”

“She told you that,” she asked surprised.

On impulse, I got up and kneeled before her.

I smiled shyly up at her and said, “Yes, she did. I’m gonna kiss you now.”

She looked at me surprised as I stood up and held her head gently in my hands. Her eyes widened, and her breath came in short gasps as I leaned down and brought my lips to hers. The kiss naturally went deeper and I felt desire building and let myself accept it. Her arms reached around me and brought me closer. I sat on her lap as we continued to kiss. When we parted, she looked at me in wonderment.

“Why,” she asked me hoarsely with emotion.

“Because I wanted to. When we first met, I could understand why Nyx fell in love with you.”

“Really,” she asked surprised.

“Yes,” I said smiling. “You’re a very attractive woman, Dani.”

She smiled and I chuckled.

“And when we were in the kitchen alone and you kept complimenting me, I started to feel attracted to you. Made me really confused.”

“Hmm, and now that we’ve kissed again?”

I smiled and said softly, “It’s still there and a tad more.”

“How much more?”

In answer, I leaned down and kissed her again. She ran her hands lightly up my back and my body shivered in response. She chuckled huskily, breaking the kiss and feeling emboldened, her lips traveled down my throat making me gasp in pleasure.

I started to lose myself as her lips traveled lower and I didn’t want her to stop. She kissed my breast through my shirt and the friction cause my nipples to raise and I moaned.

“God, you are so beautiful, Clarke,” she whispered.

I looked down at her as she looked up at me, her eyes filled with desire. I felt my own desire respond to hers and I greedily captured her mouth with mine. She moaned, parting her mouth and I plunged deeper into the kiss. Her hands had traveled back to my waist and I felt them tighten. Her thumbs slid under my shirt and inched it upward. I allowed her until it was off of me and she stared in wonder. She looked up at me and I nodded slightly. She took a breast in her mouth and I moaned. I lost myself as she picked me up and carried me to the bed.

I woke up laying amidst crumpled sheets and Dani’s breath in my ear. I lay there, amazed at myself at what I did. It was so unlike me to just randomly indulge myself like this. I shifted onto my side and looked at her. Her arm tightened around my waist and pulled me slightly closer. Once more, stirred by something greater than me, I leaned over and kissed her. She willingly parted her lips and shifted so that I lay on top of her. I couldn’t believe I wanted her again, but lost myself a second time.

This time, I woke up to Dani tracing my face and I smiled up at her.

“Regrets,” she asked.

“None,” I replied.

“Me neither,” she said and kissed me gently.

“Now, I understand why Nyx spoke about your power in such a way.”

She chuckled, “Well, you gave as much as I did.”

“I did?”

“Mm-hm.”

“I didn’t realize I did that.”

She looked at me confused, “You didn’t?”

I shook my head, “I kinda got lost in the moment.”

“Hmm. That ever happen before?”

“Frequently with Nyx,” I answered softly.

“Speaking of Nyx, you should be getting back to her.”

I made a face and replied, “You’re right, but I need to take a shower first.”

She grinned slyly, but I shook my head and said, “Alone, Dani. I don’t think I can handle a third time.”

She pouted, but let me go. When I got out, she was already dressed and waited patiently at the desk.

“You didn’t have to stay,” I said as I dried my hair.

She laughed, “I probably would have left, but you warded the door, remember.”

I blushed and said, “I forgot. Sorry.”

“No worries.”

I pulled on my boots and took down the ward. Dani came up behind me and wrapped an arm around my waist. I leaned back into her for a moment and she gently kissed behind my ear.

“You didn’t have to do this, you know,” she said softly.

“I know, I just wanted to,” I answered and turned around.

I looked up into her eyes and saw a look of worry in them.

“What are you worried about?”

She cracked a smile, “I’m worried about what all this means?”

“What do you mean,” I asked creasing my brow.

“I feel a bond between us,” she said carefully. “And at the same time, the bond between me and Nyx feels stronger. I’m starting to wonder what it is about you that is pulling us together, the three of us.”

“So you think I’m at the center of all of this?”

“I’m beginning to believe so,” she said as she moved a strand of my hair behind my ear. “You are a remarkable woman, Clarke.”

I blushed and she grinned, then planted a kiss on my lips.

I opened the door behind me and left, leaving Dani leaning against the door watching me. I chanced a glance back and she smiled at me, I smiled in return.

 

When I got back to our room, Nyx was still asleep. I made myself a cup of coffee and turned the sound on to the screens. It looked like they had found shelter in an abandoned house. They were discussing whether or not they should make their way back home since they’d already lost two of their own. Jaha, of course, wanted to stick it out, trying to reassure them that they were perfectly safe. Seeing the look on their faces, they didn’t agree with him. Jaha actually wanted to make his way to the Coalition and expose the Forest Pack and the fact that there were over a 100 humans being held captive here. I scoffed. The man didn’t even know where the Coalition had their headquarters. For that matter, I didn’t either.

I heard a rustling from the bedroom and I muted the screen. Nyx came slowly out of the room and made her way to the couch where she flopped down, laying her head on my lap.

“Did you get any rest,” I asked noticing how tired she still looked.

“I’m not sure. I was dreaming in fragments, good and bad,” she answered, looking up at me. “I didn’t wake up, but my mind still feels like it’s been beat up.”

“Hurts?”

“Mm-hm.”

“Let’s see if I can help with that,” I said and put my coffee down on the table.

I turned around a little bit and started massaging her shoulders. She groaned when I found a knot and tensed as I worked it out. She sighed when she felt it ease. I moved up to her neck and then the base of her skull. I worked my way up until I was gently working on her temples. I could tell the pain was lessening as she continued to relax.

“Better,” I asked as I rested my hands around her neck.

“Much, thank you,” she said, her eyes closed. “How was your walk?”

“It helped,” I said. “Mom showed me brain scans of five people showing signs of becoming Apex. Three more werewolves and two mages.”

“And not even a full four weeks yet,” she said.

“Mm-hm. I starting to think that the cure will produce more werewolves than mages.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Well, Octavia’s pack has more members than there are mages right now. When you throw in Kane and the three in recovery, that brings the total to 17. Mages number 11, I think.”

“Mm, it’s possible,” she said thinking, “but we’ll know more soon. Go anywhere else?”

“Just the compound,” I replied casually. “Watched them training for a bit.”

“How are they looking?”

“Good. They’re really catching on quick.”

“When you accomplish a goal successfully it builds confidence. Then it keeps building and you don’t freak out so much when you fail.”

I smiled and said, “I can attest to that. It’s an amazing feeling when you do something right.”

“It is, but sometimes it can lead to overconfidence, which in turn can become deadly.”

“Double edged sword?”

“Mm-hm. It’s important to find a balance between confidence and a healthy dose of common sense. It’s why I stress learning your limits.”

“I can understand that,” I said thinking. “I, um, ran into Dani at the compound.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, we had a talk about the kiss.”

“And?”

“She told me that she hasn’t been able to stop thinking about me. That she’s been visiting the barracks nightly trying to get me out of her mind. Didn’t work, so she kissed me, which in turn made it worse for her.”

“Oof, that’s heavy, but I can understand how she feels. I had the same problem.”

“Really,” I said, smiling.

She looked up at me bemusedly and said, “Really. It’s hard to describe, but there’s this constant desire and pull when it comes to you. I can tell you feel the same way.”

“Oh, really? Do tell.”

She chuckled, “Every time I’ve come into the same room where you are, you never stop looking at me and sometimes there’s this hungry look in your eyes. You initiate as much as I do. You’re probably have had more sex in the past three weeks, then you’d ever thought possible.”

I laughed, “Yeah, you’re right. I’m surprised that I can walk straight.”

She smiled, “Something else happened today with Dani, didn’t it?”

I blushed and said softly, “Yeah, um, we ended up sleeping together.”

Her smile widened, “And I don’t think you mean actually sleeping.”

“No.”

“That explains why I feel closer to her.”

“She said that she felt the bond between you two grew stronger and that she feels one between me and her,” I said confused.

“Ah, I’d forgotten our bond.”

“Bond?”

She sat up and turned to look at me and explained, “A bond is something that is deeper than a claiming. It’s extremely rare because bondmates actually feel one another, like they’re connected in similar ways to twins. The three of us, me, Lexa, and Dani bonded nearly 15 years ago. It could have been because that’s the first time we all slept together. After that, it grew stronger as we got older and we could tell exactly what each other was thinking without looking at one another. Sometimes we would scare the Council when we’d finish each other’s sentences or spoke nearly identically.”

“Did it go away when you were banished?”

“It didn’t go away, per se, but it diminished greatly because we were no longer in contact with one another. Our bond strengthened when Lexa and I made up and rekindled our relationship and got stronger the night we all slept together. Even my bond with you has gotten stronger.”

“Wait, you knew we were bonded?”

“Yeah, sorry I didn’t mention that before. It became apparent when you got me to talk and shift for you.”

“So, the three of us are bonded? Wait, does that mean I’m bonded to Lexa, too?”

“Yes to the first question. I don’t know if you are bonded to Lexa. The two of you would have to meet and see if there’s any kind of pull towards each other, similar to what happened when you met Dani.”

“Oh.”

“It doesn’t mean that you have to claim either one of us, if that makes you feel better. It just means that we’re more deeply connected than normal Apex.”

“Hold up,” I said, looking at her sternly. “I can claim you or Dani?”

“Yes,” she replied. “Mages claim differently than weres and it usually occurs between a were and a mage. It’s different than our biting. Mages actually brand those they claim if it’s a were.”

“Does claiming make the bond different?”

“Actually, yes it does. It binds them closer and it becomes like they’re constantly in the back of their mind. Not invasive like you lose the difference between yourself and the other person. They’re just always there.”

“How come neither you nor Lexa claimed Dani?”

“Honestly?”

“Mm-hm.”

“Because we thought she didn’t want to be claimed. We figured she would say something if it was something she was interested in.”

I shook my head and said, “She thought it was because neither one of you were interested in her that way.”

She laughed, “God, we never knew. We spent most of our time with her trying to get her to claim us. It wasn’t because we felt bad for her or anything. We were giving her a choice. Man, we should have just had a conversation with her after we claimed one another.”

“But it didn’t and she thinks that you didn’t want her in that way.”

“Looks like at some point, she and I will have to have a long conversation.”

“I’d say that it’s a long overdue conversation.”

“You’re right.”

“Now, can you tell me why I’m not running for the hills over all of this?”

“No clue. You’re just special.”

“God, I’d wish you would stop telling me that. I feel like everyone is in on some giant secret that they refuse to tell me.”

“Nope, we’re all in the dark with you.”

Something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye and I turned towards the screen. The four of them were suddenly on the run and from their glances back, they were being chased by three people. I reached over and turned up the volume.

We watched and listened as they pushed each other to run faster. We started to see the ground shoot up around them, fire in front of them making them change course, and water trying to trip them up.

“What the…,” I said not understanding what was going on.

“Slavers,” Nyx said quietly. “They’re trying to capture your humans to put on the slave market.”

“There’s a slave market? Like an actual slave market?”

“Yeah, but these guys aren’t official looking, meaning it’s black market slaving. Which is real bad if any of them get caught.”

“What are you talking about? Can’t we call someone,” I pleaded.

She shook her head, “No, there’s no one to call and even if we got somebody to listen, they would want to know how we know. We can’t have them associated with us in anyway.”

“Fuck. What do you mean by bad?”

She started ticking things off of fingers, “Sex slave, fighter fodder, human experiments, game hunt, food, torture, any evil thing you can think of and it’s there.”

I shuddered at the impending horror as I watched in dread. There was a grumbling noise and suddenly earth shot up right in front of everyone. All but one hit the earth and immediately blacked out. The one that got away, ran even faster and eventually found an abandoned house to hide in. The audio on the three knocked out men was still working and we could hear the conversation the other three were having.

“That was nice work, Billy,” a voice said. “Bribing that clerk was the smartest thing you’ve ever done.”

There was a low whistle and then a voice said, “Will you look at these boys? Wherever they’ve been hiding sure kept them fit. They don’ look like they nev’ missed a meal.”

“Yeah, Sullivan will be as pleased as honey on a biscuit when he sees this haul.”

“How much you think we gonna get for ‘em?”

“Mebee 500 a piece? I don’ know. It’s too bad we lost one, tho’”

“Yeah, he’d a been good for a game hunt. I hear Ice Pack lookin’ for some fresh meat.”

I felt Nyx bristle at the name and laid a hand gently on her arm and gave it a quick squeeze. She placed her hand over mine and squeezed back, her eyes glued to the screens.

“Well, come on den. Bes’ not keep the boss waitin’ for these fresh pickin’s.”

We heard them grunt as they hauled them up and moved them. We heard a door open up and three thuds as they were dumped in the vehicle. The door slammed shut and the engine started up.

We looked over at the one who had escaped and he was crying. My heart went out to him.

“Can we get him,” I asked.

“It’s not up to me to decide, Clarke,” she said shaking her head. “Your Council will have to decide and then petition Indra to send someone out to fetch him. I don’t think that’s likely though. She’ll see it as a waste of resources. I’d agree with her. It’s not worth our men to get one human back here. If he wants to make his way back, all well in good, but we’re not going to help him.”

“What about the other three?”

“They’re as good as dead, Clarke. Raven needs to increase the encryption on the implants, like 50 times, to keep anyone from getting any information off of them.”

“What kind of information could they possibly get?”

She looked at me and coldly said, “Where they came from.”

“No. We can absolutely not let them know where they came from. They’ll try and take everyone.”

“Exactly.”

“Let me get in touch with Raven.”

“Tell her not to cut the feeds of the three from the rest of the humans until after they’ve been sold.”

“Why not now?”

“The humans still have to know what happens when the wrong Apex capture the humans for slavery.”

“I’ll let her know,” I said sadly.

I went over to the computer and got ahold of Raven. She was just as taken aback about keeping the cameras rolling after I explained where they were being taken. She didn’t like it, but she agreed to do it. When I hung up with her another vidcall came through. I answered it and was surprised at seeing Ben on the other end.

“Ben, what a pleasant surprise,” I said. “Did you need to talk to Nyx?”

“Yes, ma’am if you please,” he said. “It’s important.”

Nyx came up behind me at hearing Ben’s voice.

“Ben,” she asked warily. “What’s going on?”

“I think you better sit down for this one, boss. By the way, it’s good to see you back in human form.”

“Thanks, Ben,” she said dryly as she sat down.

We scooted ourselves so that we could both see him comfortably.

“I got some bad news.”

“Okay. Spill it.”

“The Garrison Commander was found dead this morning after being missing for over four weeks.”

“Damn. How?”

“Torn apart limb from limb. Much like the human that witch kept.”

“You think it’s the same people?”

“I’d bet on it. He disappeared the night our house blew up.”

“Fuck. This can’t be good. What the hell did that bitch find that would’ve brought them to visit the Garrison Commander?”

“I don’t know, but they were captured on video speaking with him outside his home and then walking into it together. They’ve put out a bolo and are asking anyone who may be able to help identify them.”

“Did you send them what we know?”

“I did, through anonymous servers and emails, including the name of the woman.”

“Good man. Any other news?”

“I’ve been watching the camera feeds you implanted into the humans. I recognized the name they said, Sullivan. Nyx, he’s real bad news. He’s the one you go to if you really don’t want anyone to know you’re buying humans. Only the worse of the worse buy from him, including Ice Pack.”

She rocked back into her chair and I could feel her vibrate with anger.

“Sorry, boss, but it also appears that they’re roaming the market for fresh meat as well as hunting you down.”

“Thanks for letting me know. Have you already informed de Pakstoka of this?”

“Yeah, boss. She knows and wanted me to pass on that the Western Border is closed down. No one’s getting in or out. They’re replacing the entire guard and leadership. The rest are being tried for treason.”

“What the fuck did that bitch do?”

“I don’t know, boss, but it took her eight years to find out that the border was a huge ass leak. Who knows what information went out that way.”

“And there’s nothing for you to follow either, is there?”

“I’m afraid not. Not a single file, image, bit, or paper trail. Whatever information they got a hold of is gone and probably in the Bear King’s hands.”

“Dammit,” she seethed.

“It’s alright, Nyx,” I told her, rubbing her back. “There’s time to figure the Ice Pack out. We have other things to concentrate on. Like you getting better.”

She nodded and closed her eyes. She took some deep cleansing breaths and slowly relaxed. When she opened her eyes, they seemed clearer.

“Thanks for letting me know, Ben. I appreciate you keeping me in a loop,” she said.

“No problem, boss. Just work on getting better. Maybe you should consider taking the medication again.”

She nodded and smiled at him wryly, “I’ll think about it. I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Right-o, Nyx. Bye,” he said and the computer screen went back to my inbox.

“Nyx,” I said worriedly, “are you okay.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay,” she said, not looking me in the eye.

“Nyx, look at me.”

She glanced at me, but then quickly turned her attention to the wall.

“Seriously, Nyx. A glance isn’t cutting it.”

She heaved a long sigh and looked at me. There was burning rage in her eyes and she was tense again.

“Nyx, there isn’t anything you can do about it,” I said carefully keeping my voice calm. “You’re wasting energy. You need to relax.”

She shook her head and replied, “I’m trying. It’s just that every time I start to think about everything, my mind goes right back to the bitch and the Ice Pack. They ruined my life and are now hunting me because I’ve cost them information on Lexa and the pack. And I can’t do a damn thing about it. I’m stuck in this damn room, because I can’t get myself to take one step beyond that door. I should be out there hunting her down and ending her and the Bear King. Make them pay for everything.”

“Nyx, that’s not the answer. You can’t just kill them because they messed up your life. The better question is to ask why. Why did they feel the need to get rid of you? Why are they so desperately looking for a way to take Lexa down? The question is why?”

“It’s not fair, you know,” she said sniffling. “I did everything right. I trained. I learned. I kept Lexa safe. Then they destroyed it in a single day. It took me so long to feel halfway normal. To move on. To forgive Lexa. To learn to love again.”

“I know, sweetheart. It’s not fair that they can continue what they have been. Thanks to you, Lexa found out the truth. You’ve shut down the leak. You’ve shut down the Western Border. Ice Pack won’t be able to get back in here.”

She scoffed, “All we’ve done is slow them down. Whatever their endgame is, they’re not going to stop. I’ve done nothing.”

“You’ve bought the pack time, Nyx,” I said, forcibly trying to get her to listen to me. “Nyx, you’ve done good. You went above and beyond what you were hired to do. You proved that what you saw was real to you. You ousted a spy, uncovered a conspiracy, welcomed back into the pack, made up with Lexa, and you’re right where you’re supposed to be. This is just a hiccup. A slightly dangerous hiccup, but a finite one. You’ve got to trust yourself again and we can help you regain that self-trust. You are worthy of our help and trust and love. Don’t let the Ice Pack win by losing yourself. Fight.”

She sighed and laid her head on her arms and sounding muffled said, “Logically, I know you’re right. I know that. Then there’s all these self-doubts and I’m beating myself up mentally because I feel like such a failure. Like all of the good that I have done these last 8 years are meaningless, no matter how many people I’ve helped or saved. Not even the reputation that I worked so hard to cultivate. That confidence is gone and I’m not sure I’ll ever get it back this time.”

“Nyx, the very fact that you can identify and voice these thoughts and feelings is a sign that you’re fighting to get better. You know what to work on. Now, you have to stay motivated to changing those thought patterns. That’s why I’m here, in this room, with you. That’s why everyone else wants to help you beat this. You are worthy and you are loved.”

She shifted her head until she looked at me with one eye and said, “We’re going to be having this conversation or some variation for awhile, aren’t we?”

I smiled at her and replied, “Until you start believing it, yes. Nyx, I love you. I realize that this sucks and you want to just curl up and hide in a corner of the closet, but you can’t do that. I won’t let you.”

“You know,” she said as she propped her head up to look at me better, “I’m not so angry anymore.”

I leaned over and gave her a kiss, “That’s because we talked, silly. Talking helps.”

“Hmm,” she said and pulled me closer. “Thank you.”

I nodded and kissed her again. She deepened the kiss and when we parted, she said, “I love you, Clarke.”

“I love you, too, Nyx.”