Out of the Light

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Four | Hakota

With a cry of rage I swiped the crystal lamp off my desk, the sound of it shattering into a thousand pieces as it hit the dark cherry red wood floor doing nothing to sate my anger. I put my head in my hands, my fingers digging into my scalp as I tried to get her voice out of my head.

My eyes screwed shut so I'd stop seeing a ghost of her image floating around me.

Why did you kill me, Hakota?

"You know why," I growled in response to her voice echoing through my head. My insanity was growing, evident through my conversations with my mate's voice that I conjured up in my head. We had this discussion before but none of my answers seemed to satisfy her.

Are we not mates? She prodded, her voice in my left ear. I swore I could feel her lips brushing my skin but when my eyes snapped open and I whipped my head to the left, there was nothing there.

Her voice took on a forlorn tone. I killed for you but in return you killed me.

"It had to be done," I said, running a hand down my face. "You couldn't be trusted Cleo." My head turned to the right where I saw her perched on the edge of my desk, her eyes filled with sorrow. When I blinked again she was gone, a mere whiff her of scent flooding my nostrils. "It had to be done," I whispered to myself.

The door opened to reveal Syn who was looking at me worriedly. "I thought someone was in here, I heard you talking." The lycan didn't step into the room without my permission, nervous that I'd attack him in my unstable state of mind.

My knuckles pressed down on the desk as I stood above it. Putting pressure on my curled fists, my knuckles began to turn white as I replied, "It's just me."

I could see his response clearly through his expressive eyes although he didn't dare speak out loud. I know. His expression said. And indeed he did, because it was always just me talking to thin air while thinking it was Cleo.

Syn looked at his feet and shuffled awkwardly outside the door, his hand reaching out to steady himself as if forcing his eyes back to mine caused a huge weight to crush down on his shoulders. "Denahi and Kenai returned," he finally spoke.

I straightened, the pressure on my knuckles easing. "And?"

Syn let out a breath and I knew I wouldn't like what he had to say next. "I'm sorry Hakota but it was another dead end."

I slammed my fist down on the desk, a large crack resounding through the room as a hairline fracture splintered the wood from one end to the other. "Damnit!" I pounded my fist on the desk again, but only half heartedly this time.

Syn stepped over the threshold, "Hakota it's okay, we will find him eventually."

"Eventually?" I snarled. "I don't have any more time to waste finding that bastard!" I dug my claws into my desk, making another set of puncture holes to add to the collection already littered over the surface. "I can't make a bold move on the Lunar Kingdom until I get this," I stabbed a finger to my temple, "taken care of."

"Alpha, even if we–"

"The Lunars need to be brought down!" I snapped, causing him to frown in displeasure of my interruption. "Giving them more time will only allow them to grow stronger!"

"They are already strong, Hakota," Syn shot back. "They were always going to be the toughest to take down and you knew that long before any of this," he gestured towards me as he referred to the soundness of my mind, "became a problem. All of our strongest opposers fled there to band together but now there's nowhere left for them to hide. Eventually we have to strike the hornets nest, but we should do it when we are more prepared. Minimal casualties is a necessity."

"Then find me that god forsaken hunter!" I howled. "Bring Coda to me so I can be done with this torment."

Syn's shoulders collapsed in defeat. "I'm trying, Hakota, we are all trying." His eyes pierced mine with such concern it gave a sharp poke at something inside me.

Torment? The sound of Cleo's voice had me snapping my head to the right where I saw her slowly sit up from the couch. I was unable to keep my heart from throbbing as I took in her disheveled hair and tired eyes. It reminded me of the times she would wake up beside me, only she greeted me with a smile then, now it was a look of anger and grief. My presence torments you? My eyes followed her as she stood and walked over to Syn. Her finger trailed up his arm and around the back of his shoulders. I couldn't help but growl at the display of affection. Well, I know when I'm not wanted. Perhaps Syn would rather have my company? I always did prefer him over you.

Each new statement had me grinding my teeth harder.

Syn did not miss the look of fury that sparked in my eyes and the way I suddenly tensed. "Hakota?" He took a step back, sensing my growing anger.

I always wished he was my mate instead of you. Her words were sharp, meant to sting and hurt me like my words had hurt her. Even though I knew she didn't mean what she was saying I couldn't help but go into defensive mode, ready to take out the threat.

My gaze slid to Syn who was looking back at me with wide, uneasy, eyes. My claws shot out from my fingers and Syn stumbled back out the door, holding a hand out as if to stop me. I prowled towards him, my steps sure and deft. Each time my foot fell, Syn's level of panic increased. "Get away from him Cleo, or I will not be held accountable for my actions." I told my mate as she clung on to Syn's arm.

Syn went pale. "Hakota," his words were calm despite the obvious shaking of his outstretched hand. "Hakota," he tried again, seeing that I was not stopping. "Cleo is gone, you killed her remember? She isn't real." He backed up another step, his body going straight through Cleo.

I halted at seeing this, frowning in confusion. Then I was striding over to them, pushing Syn out of the way and made a move to grab Cleo. My hand passed through her neck as I tried to trace the ring of scars around her neck that signified my claim on her. She looked up at me, her lip trembling as a single tear slid down her cheek. I hate you. Her words were just a hoarse whisper but nevertheless they caused me to flinch back and withdraw my hand sharply.

"I..." words failed me, "I'm sorry." Was all I could think of to say.

I don't want your apologies, she spat and stepped away from me. You don't mean them.

Before I could utter a word she disappeared, leaving me to stare dumbly at the empty space she had just a moment ago occupied.

"Hakota?" Syn voiced his concern but did not make a move to touch me.

I blinked a few times trying to pull my mind away from the falsehood of everything I had just seen and heard. Yet again I was pulled into an illusion. I slowly turned to Syn, my hands clenching into fists. "Find that damn hunter," I muttered and fled from the room. I ran from the embarrassment of showing my pack member how unstable I was, how I was in no state to be running the pack and planning a war.

"Alpha!" Syn chased after me probably worried I was about to go on a killing spree, it hadn't been the first time, or the second for that matter. "Hakota come back!" Syn pleaded with me. "Just stay here before you do something you will regret."

As much as I hated being told what to do, he was right. I slowed my hurried strides to a halt, letting out a breath to calm myself. I felt the hesitant touch of Syn's hand on my shoulder. He came around to face me, looking me up and down and his shoulders sagging in relief when he noticed that the tension had left me. "For Lune's sake," Syn murmured, his eyes scanning over my haggard body. My posture was deflated and hunched, my eyes tired and dull. I knew what I looked like to him. I looked like a ghost, a shell of my former self. I saw it every time I looked in a mirror and as of late I made it a point to avoid them. "When was the last time you slept Hakota?" He demanded and then prodded at my stomach, "when was the last time you ate?"

I knocked his hand away in annoyance. "I don't need you to mother me Syn." The words came out sharper than I had intended them to.

"For Lune's sake Hakota! You are falling apart before my eyes and you want me to just stand back and remain silent as you deteriorate?" He shook his head fiercely, "Not a chance in hell."

Instead of being a real male and accepting his help and acknowledging the fact that I did in fact need help, I turned on him. "What about you Syn?" I retorted. "You want to talk about sleep? When's the last time you slept soundly?" His jaw dropped open in surprise and then quickly snapped shut but it was too late. My assumption was right, something was troubling him and now I knew my observation in his change of behavior was not ill founded. "What? You didn't think I noticed your random disappearances or how you hide papers and watch your words? Why don't you tell me what that's all about?"

Syn clenched his jaw, unable to deny my claim.

"No?" My tone was condescending, "I didn't think so." I shouldered past him only for my arm to be grabbed roughly. I turned as his fingers dug into my arm. I rose a brow, a silent order for him to speak or let me go.

His fingers slowly relinquished their grip and he took a step back, exhaling a breath. "It's about my mate," he admitted.

My smirk melted away into shock. "What?"

Syn looked away in shame, mumbling under his breath. "I've been trying to talk with my mate but they want nothing to do with me."

I'd never heard words filled with such heartbreak leave his mouth. "What do you mean? Why does she–" I did not miss the way Syn flinched and cast his gaze to the ground, hanging his head as he awkwardly rubbed at his arm. "...not want anything to do..." I gripped his shoulder firmly. "Syn?" My voice was filled with an urgency. The Lucan looked like he was about to throw up.

"It's not a—my mate is not—" he looked up at me with wounded eyes. "He's..." he dropped my gaze immediately.

"Syn, is your mate a male?" I used the gentlest of voices I could muster. Why was he so nervous to admit this? Lycans were known to have mates of the same gender. Although not common, it happened from time to time. Unlike werewolves whose whole point of a mate was to reproduce strong offspring, lycans were two halves of a whole connecting with each other, gender didn't matter in Lune's eyes like it did in Fate's.

"I know we really need pups Hakota and I'm sorry–"

I crushed him in a tight embrace, hating myself for making Syn even believe I would be angered by this. Had I really been so obsessive over the whole matter that Syn thought I'd disown him for having a male mate? "Don't apologize," I scolded him, "I'm the one who should be sorry." I let him go. "I'm sorry that my actions made you doubt my acceptance of this circumstance." Syn nodded numbly but I could see that guilt was still eating at him. "We'll get through this." My words sounded hollow to my own ears but I needed Syn to believe this, my pack needed to believe it, I needed to believe it.

We had to pull through.

We had to.

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