I did that. I harmed another human being. With my own two hands.
“I think she may have PTSD,” I hear Ember whisper from the other side of my door. Ignoring her words, I roll and face the opposite wall. “She said she was never going to use her power again…” her voice lowers an octave in fear of what will happen.
We all know Parallax plans on taking over, the details I’m still fuzzy on, but to be frank I don’t care. My body is an empty shell of what they want me to be. I put my wall up to hold off the emotions that I can, but they still wash over me and weigh on my chest like a rock.
My breathing is shallow, the crushing sorrow making it hard to breathe. I breathe as deeply as I can and squeeze my eyes shut, my aunt's lifeless body flashes behind my eyelids so I snap my eyes awake.
I haven’t left my bed, but I’m deeply exhausted. It’s an exhaustion that settles in my bones.
“Astra? Honey? I made you some soup…” Ember's small voice comes from my doorway. I should feel bad that I’ve hurt her so, but I can’t extend my heart to feel that.
It’s already full of pain. The pain of the loss of my parents, the loss of my aunt, the loss of my comfortable life.
It’s already full of regret. Regret of not staying with my aunt, regret of hurting Beckett, the regret of not handling my own emotions.
She sits on the bed lightly, as if I am porcelain and I will simply shatter if she sits too rough. “Are you awake?” I say nothing, I just lightly shut my eyes and pretend I’m not there.
“Ok...I’m going to leave this soup on your side table. Please eat, when you feel ready.” Still so kind to me, even though I sliced open her brother's head. Ember leaves quietly, and I open my eyes once she’s gone. I don’t want the flashing images anymore.
“Maybe she’s depressed? PTSD, or depressed?” Ember offers again behind my door, her voice is scared for me.
“Well tough shit.” I hear Beckett snap, and then my bedroom door flies open. “Get up,” he demands but I close my eyes and pretend I’m not here. His feet are heavy as he comes to my side of the bed, he pulls the blanket off me and pushes me onto my back so I meet his eyes.
“Stop-” I groan, stretching for my lost blanket.
“No,” he says, grabbing my wrist from retrieving my blanket. He uses his grasp on me to lift me, I try to go ragdoll so he takes me by my shoulders and holds me up.
“Beckett-”, I whine.
“No, stop it! You’ve had your pity party, but it’s time to clean up and get back on your feet.” He says to me fiercely, his eyes blazing with his irritation. I break from his grasp and lean against my headboard, staring at him sadly.
“But,” my lower lip trembles, and the tears burn my eyes. “I hurt you,” my voice cracks at the last word, and the tears break freely after. He sighs lightly and says nothing. Silently Becket stares, letting me have my moment of ugly tears.
“You’re so mean!” I say to him loudly through my sobbing; all of my emotions breaking through. “You’re an ass to me for no reason! But I still feel so bad about hurting you! Make that make sense! I’m dangerous, and I can’t hurt people from my bed.” His eyes soften only slightly, maybe my gross tears are causing a human reaction.
“Okay,” Beckett says plainly, he grabs a tissue off the food tray Ember brought, and hands it to me. I wipe my face embarrassed, I just cried in his face and he’s cool-headed. I toss the tissue away and look down at my lap, with my head down I can smell myself; I need a shower.
He places the warm bowl in my lap, I instinctively take it so it doesn’t spill. “Eat it,” he tells me, “my sister made that from scratch for you so you better not waste it.” My cheeks are hot from the compassion Ember shows me through her soup, and the love I can see Beckett has for his sister.
My empty stomach yells at me to eat, it aches and makes my whole body hurt. I spoon some into my mouth slowly until my body adjusts, then I just lift it to my mouth and slurp it up happily. It’s hot and delicious, chicken noodles with heavy spice.
I almost forget he’s standing there until I’m done and I see him leaning against my wall still, the light from the hallway illuminating his body.
“Listen, if you give up because of one error I’m going to be pissed. My sister and I had no life because we spent it training to fight with the world's best warrior, and I’m going to be disappointed if that warrior ends up being a sissy. My parents, your parents, are dead because of Parallax and his plans. Do you want to lay here in this bed wasting your life that our parents gave up to protect? I won’t let you.” His tone is still hard towards me, but this is the most he’s ever spoken to me; I take it as he’s attempting to make peace.
“You already think I’m a sissy,” I mutter back, “so don’t act surprised.” He scoffs at me, I don’t meet his eyes.
“You think we all start tough? No. We have it drilled into us. You’re just coming into the game late, which throws a wrench in things. But we’ll figure it out.” Finally, I do meet his eyes, they’re the kindest I’ve seen them.
“But I hurt you,” I state with a hoarse voice. “I can’t get the images out of my head...you on the ground, unconscious.” I shake my head trying to get the memory to fade, with no dice.
“Ok,” he shrugs, “learn from your mistakes. Don’t wallow in them, learn from them and do better. Be better. If not for you, or not for Ember, then do it for the family we’ve all lost trying to get here.” His words are warming to my soul, the ache in my body subsides and I can feel myself able to breathe again.
“I’m sorry I hurt you, Beckett,” I whisper, looking at his face sadly.
“I’m not.” He says making me blanch. What? “I’m not sorry at all. Now we know how strong you are, and that’s without any real training. You are powerful, and it’s gonna be fun seeing how far you go. Besides,” he winks, “I did kind of egg you on.” I laugh, it feels strange to laugh beside him. He chuckles lightly, a noise I had yet to hear from him.
“You did taunt me a bit.” I agree, and then we sit quietly for a moment. “Why are you being nice to me?” I ask hesitantly, feeling like a kicked puppy; scared to trust.
“I mean, someone had to come in here and not baby you. I’m not here to lick your wounds, I’m here, to be honest, and get you out of your pity party.” His words make sense, he didn’t come in here with bandaids to heal what can’t be fixed. He came in and told me how it is and what I need to do. Shockingly, it’s what I needed.
The question of my future events comes back into my head, so I finally work up the courage to ask.
“Beckett, how do we know when I have to fight Parallax? Like, I guess what I’m asking is what next?” Beckett shrugs again, pushing the hair off his forehead.
“Well, there are four portals. Two to get to the Somnium Realm, the Dream Realm; and two to get to the Umbra Realm. We will know it’s time to attack once he starts taking out the Somnium portals. That will mean he's pushing on to take over. That’s when we come in.”
Another moment of silence while I mull over his words. By that way of thinking, we have no idea how much time until he attacks. I can’t be afraid anymore like Beckett said. I need to learn from my mistakes, and not wallow.
“What exactly happens if Parallax takes over?” The heavy question.
“Well,” he sighs, “the end of everything. Vamps and Fae and other creatures will roam freely in our world, and because the other portals are gone the Somnium people will not be able to protect.” His words pack a punch, they settle in and I know what needs to be done.
“It’s quite literally up to us to save the whole world then, huh?” I ask, laughing a little despite the seriousness of the conversation.
“Now you’re getting it.” He laughs back, smiling genuinely. It looks handsome on him. “Ok, so are we ready to get back to it?” I nod, swinging my legs out of bed; but as I get closer to Beckett he pushes me back into the bed.
“What?” I laugh, looking up at him confused.
“I don’t mean right this second, you stink like something awful. Shower, then I’ll see you downstairs.” He heads to my bedroom door without a parting glance.
“Will you make coffee?” I ask hopefully, grinning at his back.
“Still not your maid,” he replies, closing the door. I don’t think the sarcasm will ever leave, but I do believe at this moment in time, he and I came to an understanding.
I don’t think he hates me, I believe Ember was right when she said he may resent me for his upbringing. Though I can’t change it, I can understand it. At the end of the day him, and Alatar, and Ember are all I got.