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Calling Thalia, finally
Alone in the tunnels was better than being surrounded by people at Kallisti.  He was spiraling and the two people he could talk to weren't there.  One didn't have their phone and wasn't actually talking to him, and the other was miles away too far to catch him before he fell.  But that didn't stop him from sending Thalia a text.

  So. I fucked up pretty badly. Broke the only thing I had to give. 

  So I feel like we're not talking about your other arm here. My signal is sketchy, this might be a little jittery. Calling!   

The phone rang immediately and the video switched on as soon as he answered.
"Hey! Hey? You hear me okay? Nox, why is it so dark?"

Nox forgot where he was kinda, he pulled the ball of light a little closer to the screen so she'd see him better. She was a bit fuzzy but that was likely due to both their crap connections. "I can hear you just fine."  He stuck his tongue out childishly and she giggled which made him smile even in the dark state his mind was in. "It's dark because I'm camping out in the tunnels for now.  And nope not about my other arm." He laughed, but it trailed off into a sad one. "How do I put it nicely. I... I cheated on Raffe. Told him. And now my life is ending. Plus side.  I told him.  I never intended to tell Elyse I cheated on her with Jay.  Irony: it was with Jay -- again."

Thalia's image wobbled around making him a bit dizzy as she tried to find a place. He clamped his mouth shut.  He rambled when he was nervous.  He looked behind her and saw nothing out of the ordinary and the sounds of the country tingled in the back.
“Woah. Okay woah, we need to circle back. You did what? That’s not… but it’s just, I thought you and the boy were doing good? That it was serious? And with 4th of July Guy? Again.” She blinked, surprised. Then leaned in to whisper conspiratorially, “I mean, the cowboy hat. I get that part, Nox. But I thought you were happy.” 
She paused for a moment, clearly concerned. 
“Side note, your life isn’t ending. Also side note, I’m not sure I’m the best person to dish out relationship advice. But I can listen. What exactly happened?”

"Happy doesn't even begin to cover how I felt." Nox sighed. "It's not like it was planned. I knew it would happen but I was on guard. I thought I was stronger than that now." 

“You knew it was going to happen? You mean you have feelings for Jay too? Or are we talking about the, uh, the other ‘other’ thing.”

Nox sighed.  "Being completely honest, a little of one, and nail on the head with the 'other' thing."  He told Thal about the conversation he'd had with Raffe before he even went into the tunnels.  The one where he told Raffe about Jay to explain the 'little bit' and then added. "I don't have feelings for Jay -- at least not those kind.  He's my friend.  Hot as fuck, but still he's just a draw.  The first guy I kissed since... "  Nox didn't expand on it.  He'd told Thal enough times about how he remembered and what he had remembered.  And the reasons for the repressed memories.  And then he spilled straight into the first leg of the hunt.
And then right on through to the end with barely a breath between the words. Nox cried softly when he told her about Nova. "He kissed me. I told him I shouldn't that I'd message a promise. He kissed me again. I thought the horde was dead. His hand went in my pants and what little control I had was gone. Was never more than that. But it was a broken promise."

Thalia listened quietly to the story. By the time he got to Nova her eyes were wide and slicked with tears. The moment he began to quietly sob they fell. She hugged her knees. She’d shuffled so close to the screen it was like she planned to somehow jump right through. 
When he paused she wiped the tears from her cheeks. “You’re not a bad person, Nox. It doesn’t make you one. You know that right?" Her voice was soft, but the absolution was firm. "I take it things didn't go well with Raffe, then.” 
Nox chortled. "He kissed me first and I could have just went with it.  Raffe I  mean.  First thing he did when he saw me was missing -- right in front of Elyse, not even caring."  Nox smiled softly at the memory but then the story went bad.  "He cried. I didn't. I didn't want to influence him. When it was his turn to talk he said he needed time.  So I gave it to him.  I left Kallisti that night, I didn't want Raffe to see me fall apart.  Because I did.  I still am.  Before I left I gave him my wallet. I had another one coming, I'll explain that in a bit.  But I gave him the wallet with a message for him on it. Told him all the things I couldn't say then. I wanted him to not hear the emotion in my voice when I told him so I told him in a message.  Been a few days, haven't seen him.  He took leave from work too. I'm so fucking lost." 
“You’ve seen Elyse too? Why didn't you call me sooner?

"Embarrassed.  Didn't want you to yell at me.  I wasn't ready for that yet." He smirked a little but it was the complete truth.

"You know what I mean. You’re such an idiot, Nox." 

Nox had nothing but a smirk to offer.  She spoke the truth.

"What had you promised him?” 
He sighed in resignation at the promise.  [color#0072bb]"I promised to be faithful.  It's not the cheating that's the big problem for him.  I betrayed a trust."[/color] Nox growled. "He didn't even ask for the fucking promise.  He didn't care, not until I said the words 'I promise to be faithful'.  All I have is my word, Thal.  That's all I fucking have to give him and I broke it." 
Nox angrily stood up in one lithe movement the power floating the ball with him as he paced back and forth with the wallet hovering in front of him.  "Doesn't matter that all the moments that lead up to it.  All the pain I fought through, the temptation of Jay right there for a week.  It all blew up in one fucking lapse of fighting.  I stopped fighting for one fucking moment because I thought they were fucking gone. No matter how many I kill, if their all fucking gone, it's still going to be in my fucking head.  Every fucking day is a fucking fight. One misstep and my life tumbles to shit. One fucking promise he didn't even want."  Nox wasn't mad at Raffe.  He was mad at himself.  He hadn't realized how mad things made him until he verbalized it to Thal.  For Nox the broken promise stung, the fact that Raffe didn't care that Nox was worried about Jay hurt on top of it.  He hated that he had let his faith and trust in Raffe put that temptation into his path.  His choice.  His problem.  And now Raffe was paying the price. 
"And not only did I implode my life and Raffe's but I fucking upended Jay's too.  Told him I couldn't be friends in a fucking text."  Nox growled as he stomped back and forth. "And then I saw him at the Almaz he attacked me.  That went over well we got thrown in the pit and he beat the shit out of me.  Then left saying good-bye.  I don't know what happened I'm still reeling from that."  Nox pressed his fingers to his head and gripped his hair tight.with his only good hand.  He didn't want to hurt himself with the mechanical one -- he still didn't trust it. 
“Please sit down. I don’t want to see you hurt yourself more.” For a moment her eyes were wide, her expression still concerned. She squinted, trying to see evidence of his injuries in the glowy light of power, but the screen wasn't that clear. 

Nox stopped his rapid pacing and slide down the wall and unhitched the arm and set it in his lap between his stomach and knees as he pulled in on himself.
“Maybe Raffe didn’t expect monogamy until you promised it. Had you actually talked about it at all before then? Like actually properly? He knew about what happened with Jay and Elyse; you told him not to expect different before things got serious. Doesn’t mean he definitely doesn’t care about what you do. Least I don't think so. If it upset him enough to cry he must do, otherwise why not just be mad about it and move on? Or just tell you to fuck off? I think if someone I loved did that to me, I would be mad. Unless I didn't want to let them go, you know? But maybe I didn't want to make them stay either." 

She paused for a moment, thoughtful. And Nox took the moment to fill the silence with his frustration.

"Raffe, get mad." Nox growled.  "I'd love to see that.  Fucking wish he'd yell at me.  I'd settle for him punching me in the fucking face like Jay.  Least them I knew I rated somewhere on the scale."  Nox knew it wasn't healthy but that's what his life was like growing up.  It's what he expected of family and loved ones.  Even Aurora yelled at him when she was pissed off.  And he knew his sister never stopped loving him.  He could feel the tears flowing again as she started speaking again.

"No more punching. Just listen to me a sec. That's all besides the point. You’re not responsible for their reactions, okay? Not Raffe's and not Jay's. Don’t get me wrong, you did fuck up,” she laughed a little, still wiping tears, “but we all do that at one time or another. And icebergs, right? Bear with me, it makes sense. We don’t know what else is going on in someone else’s life. That part isn't your fault. And maybe they don't know everything that's going on with you either. You hid stuff, and maybe they did too. There's this thing called talking, you know. And you're pretty good at it usually. Not texts and voice messages." 
"Are you still there? God, this connection is rubbish. You have more to give, Nox.  Stop talking like that. If Raffe asked for space you give it. And then you talk. Maybe Jay too now the punching is all out the way. Or, it better be all out the way. And I can’t promise what will happen with Raffe, but I can promise that you’re not alone, Nox."

Nox was grateful for Thalia's small comfort.  He only wished she was actually close by."I know I fucked up.  And we've not talked about it exactly.  I've labeled things for myself but no idea if Raffe feels the same. He never objects when I've called him my boyfriend in the past.  But the serious stuff -- monogamy, explicitly -- no."  Nox took a deep breath.  "Thing is though, if I stop fighting this thing inside me I'm going to fuck up again. It's hard.  I can't do it alone.  And I love you dearly and I'm grateful for our friendship but there just are some lines you don't cross. Raffe helps in so many ways. So, so many ways."

"It's been only a handful of days and I'm lost without him. Pardon my french, but, I'm itching for something to fuck.  The horde has no concept about human reproduction.  The fucking need to replicate itself drives the libido. That's what ultimately fucked me over with Jay. He's not so goddamned hot I can't keep my hands to myself. I fucking can.  I do it every fucking day at work.  Hotter guys and gals at work all the time.  Eat, fuck, fight, that's what the horde wants. What happens when I'm too tired to fight their drive?  This obviously and probably so much worse." Nox leaned his forehead against his head and sighed.  "I don't know how much of this even with Raffe's help I can manage.  I won't stop fighting but I'm getting tired."

"Then that's what you need to tell him. What's done is done. You're both upset over something neither of you properly talked about in the first place. For now, you have a show to get ready for, right? A fabulous, glitzy extravaganza of a show that I am not at all annoyed and disappointed to be missing out on first-hand again. Brooding alone in the tunnels going over everything you should have done differently, or everything that might go wrong in the future, is doing you zero favours. Promise me you hang up and go back to Kallisti. Don't make me use Sage-sense to check that you do."

"And promise me you'll call next time. I can't fix things, and certainly not like that, but you don't have to suffer it all alone. I can listen. Don't promise not to yell though. Not if it knocks some sense in, hmm?"

Nox nodded wiping tears from his eyes. "Yes ma'am."  He grinned at her and took a deep breath. "Thank you.  I wish you could be here, maybe next time. I should go." 

"Love the new hair, by the way."

Nox ran his fingers through his hair with a smile. "Me too.  Talk again soon.  Be safe in that strange land of wherever you are.  Next time maybe I'll let you talk about you."

She laughed and Nox was happy to hear it."I already met the Pope. Not much else to tell anyway, don't think I can beat that. Speak soon."

He hung up the call and leaned back against the stone and thought long and hard about how best to make things up to Raffe.  He promised to go back to Kallisti, and he would but not just this second.  He let the light wink out and sat in the darkness pondering his next move.

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