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I so fucked up! (Calling Thalia #2)
[[ with Thalia ]]

His life was falling apart and he wished for Aurora to be there or someone to physically be there.  But no one was, he'd normally rely on Raffe for comfort but that was over.  And he had no more tears left to cry.  It was the second night he'd cried himself to dry eyes.  And now he couldn't sleep so he sent Thalia a text maybe she'd be available to talk -- if she even wanted to talk to him anymore.  He was a monster... it was everything he had to keep going. 
  I so fucked up.  It's over. 

Nox didn't hesitate when his wallet rang.  He knew it was Thalia. No one else called him. And definitely not late at night like it was. She chided him for not just calling. Honestly he forgot, he rarely called anyone either.
“Just call me, I said. Any time, Nox. I’ll always answer if I can. Talk to me. You’re somewhere safe, right?”

"I'm home.  In bed." His voice sounded weak even to his ears. He had no tears left to cry and his voice only cracked with strain. "How are you? I didn't wake you did I?"

She let out a great rush of air, relieved by the answer, relieved to hear his voice. "No, you didn't. Sleep is for the weak, and, well, you know. Geez, my heart is pounding; you scared me. You don't sound good though. Do you want to talk about it?" The words were soft. There was some rustling sounds like she'd sat up.

Nox was so glad to hear her voice. He wanted to just hug her and the tears somehow started to fall. "I fucked my life too hell and back three times over. Raffe ended it. Basically said we needed to figure ourselves out. I'm barely making it out of bed. But not sure I am ready to talk. Tell me about your adventures."
She listened to what he said quietly, and didn’t interrupt. There were some more shuffling noises. The quiet close of a door.

"Well, you know all about the Pope already. And Philip the goat, who I believe might finally have been starting to like me. Though who really knows with goats.

Have you ever heard much about the lake here? It’s ancient – the deepest lake there is, like it goes all the way to the very heart of the world. In winter it freezes tight, but this time of year it’s beautiful. Like a secret. And well, I could never resist a secret.

There’s a rock on the lake, called Shaman Rock, and there are all sorts of folktales about it – Anastasia, the lady I was staying with, she told me some of them. I’ll tell you sometime; the stories are beautiful, but sad too. Only I drew it, that rock. So many times. Sage helped me find it, actually. I went looking for someone at the lakeside, stayed all day and night. Chasing dreams I don’t understand, honestly, but are there any other kind?

And, oh, gosh, Nox, you should see the stars out here! They’re so bright away from the city lights, like someone just flung a fistful of glitter into the sky. A thousand tiny worlds, a thousand miles away. And the brightest of them all, Sirius; I look for it sometimes, especially when I feel a little lost or like I need to know there's something more, you know? I can see it now actually. It always makes me think of safety.

I didn't find what I was looking for that night, but I did get found." She paused for a moment; a thoughtful sidestep of silence before her soft voice continued, like the turn of a new chapter.

"We discovered caves under the water. And when I touched the walls, the power in me rippled. It was like falling. I don’t exactly know what happened. Inside was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Walls made of water. Seascapes drifting beyond, like the bottom of an ocean. I thought I was going to sink straight through when I touched it. I would have said I was dreaming, except I couldn’t be, because I remember everything about it. I don’t know where it was, Nox. Nowhere here. Compelling, and dangerous too. It’s strange. I could have disappeared in there and never even realised I was lost. I’m glad I didn’t go alone.

We found the face I'd drawn, deep down in that place. The reason I didn't come home after Tartu. She was beautiful and alien, and I think it was a good thing she was so hidden from our world, because she was nothing most people would understand. Maybe that's why I went to find her. I think you know what it feels like too, feeling out of step with the world around us. I wanted to know if it was real. If it meant something.

Sometimes anger is really just pain, and she was certainly angry. There was something else down there too, though; an egg. Its shell was whorled with power like a net, all different colours and patterns. I didn’t even know it was possible to tie it off like that. Inside was a child, all folded up like a flower. That place was ancient and they must have been separated for a long time, Nox. I can't even imagine how that would be. The hardest thing in the world to endure, but she did endure. We all deserve connection. I'm glad we could finally help her."

Nox lost himself in the drone of her voice.  She knew he was having a hard time and she just talked.  It was warm and comforting and the only thing that would make it better would be having her laying beside him. 

She was right about a lot of things and he found his voice in the emptiness of the void that came with the power.  It shimmered and shifted in front of him. The familiar lights of the Aurora Borealis danced from his fingers. "I hate my self for betraying his trust. And there will never be a way I can earn it back since what made me react the way I did is part of me forever. How is anyone going to see past that? I will forever be a slave to the horde.  Its whims are mine. I will always fight it because if I don't I'll become the monster I was. And I don't want to be him. I don't want kill with out conscience."

"Some of us don't see monsters," she said softly. "Not even when they have teeth and tentacles."

“Listen to me. The horde doesn't change who you are. But it does mean you have to make changes in your life. I don't know if you can win back trust once it's broken. But you can't force it either, and there’s nothing you can do about that but to see what happens. What I do know is that you deserve someone who will accept all sides of you, though."

Nox interjected rather dejectedly "I thought he was the one to do just that." The words fell out of his mouth in a quiet whisper. There was pain and emotion tied to it, but words came out with nothing -- just a whisper over the phone. It was like watching the ancient games of his father's childhood bounce from plain pixel box to plain pixel box until it missed -- the rejection and pain bounced off the walls of the power and got lost in the aether.

"But he didn't," she said firmly. "And it sucks. I wish I could tell you otherwise, and I know it hurts. Maybe he needs time to realise what it means to be with you, or maybe it really is over, but for right now the important one is you.""

The words resonated.  She sounded like his sister and even in the void of the power he felt the tears fall and let the power crash around him.  The lights exploding into colorful shards dramatically as the expired into the thin air.  His tears fell silently, he wasn't sure if it was happy or sad or angry.  But that he found them again made dealing with his emotions only a tad bit easier.  Hard to cry when your body says you can't anymore. 

“I never told you this, but when I first came to Moscow my sister took me to see a woman at the Guardian. A patient. She called me a demon. I used to think about that a lot when I was afraid of what was happening to me. It matters what we call ourselves, even in our own heads. You are not a monster, Nox. What did you mean you're afraid of being him? Did you remember something?

Nox hated that anyone could be so cruel, but he understood it all too well too. His voice cracked a little with emotion, but otherwise he was present, the distance chill gone. "Only the most horrible hypocritical thing ever." The peace of before was gone, he was quiet and still in voice but the lights around him swirled with his lack of inner peace. The monster inside. "I saw a blast from my past. A man I admired and adored and loved like a father. A man who taught me to fight and kill without question, all under the Atharim banner. For the greater fucking good. The faces in my dreams have names. Those I didn't know, didn't remember. Didn't want to remember. I know who they are, and what they did to be a part of my murderous nightmares -- my failures weren't my failures. Well they weren't failures are the time -- victims of the cause. A boy who was like me -- who could channel. I can feel his blood on my hands. He did nothing other than be born the same way I was."

She was quiet a while then and Nox's thoughts went places he knew wasn't true.  But that didn't mean it stopped his mind from recoiling with the rejection and hatred he felt for himself. But Thalia wasn't like that and her words only proved the rational side right as she finally spoke. "You should remember them. That's only right. You can't change who you were or what you did, and it's a part of you as surely as the horde is now. But you can't punish yourself forever either. That old Nox is dead, too.”

“What if we did something when I'm back in Moscow? To commemorate those people, that boy. We'll do it every time you remember something horrible. Remember them, remember who you were, and remember that it's not who you are any more, or who you will be, horde or not.”

Nox chuckled softly. "That sounds nice, but I don't know if I'm not still him or not.  The horde is chipping away at it -- at the memories.  Everyday is a new fight.  And Jacob, reminds me everyday of how I used to be.  It's not in his words, or retelling memories.  He's a fucking long-lived Atharim hunter who's bread and butter is killing kids like me.  He's got some new angle, some new line he's trying with saving a few channelers but he still wants me dead.  I see it in his eyes.  He's everything I was taught I should be. I even pulled Salvation and Damnation out of storage against my better judgement.  I don't trust myself." Not that a pull of the power couldn't do even worse damage to himself with so much more ease that the knife and gun Jacob had gifted him oh so many years ago.  A razor thin string of air would be ever so easy.  Even just tugging on the power past capacity would burn him up completely.  The ijiraq's power had scared that fear into him.  Burning from the inside out was not pleasant. But it was always there.  And being without the power scared him even more -- more so now than ever before.  Now what would he become?

"I want to believe I'm not a monster.  But everything tells me I am, Thal. At the very least how is someone ever going to accept the fact that I might never live up to their standards.  Raffe or not. Who's going to jump into a relationship when I'm always on edge -- ready to fight.  Who's always going to have something else driving his desires and needs.  All it takes is a moment to slip and I've fucked up more lives. Raffe's been with it from the start.  Seen what it does and he couldn't do it. And he shouldn't have to."  Nox growled and stood up and started pacing in his room.  "I hate myself right now.  Everything about me. I'm going to fall back on old habits, things that kept me sane.  Be the person my father expected me to be.  I hate him too. I just need to not be me."

“And what if you’re wrong? How will you know if you don’t try?"

The words rattled around in his head.  He did try.  Though he pushed people away more often than not.  He didn't want to get close, didn't want to get hurt more -- again.  Even when he was the one who did the hurting, it was painful.  He'd loved Raffe.  Loved him so much it hurt, and not it was gone from his life and he had to cope.

“I still draw your dreams sometimes, you know. I know they’re yours because of what’s in them, and who. Usually when that starts to happen with people I know, I bail. Who wants someone knocking around in their head, digging up secrets they don’t want to share? It doesn’t end well, believe me, and I can’t stop myself from doing it. I’ve tried. Easier to make the decision to just leave, or never call. And then there was you. You’re the first person I ever stuck around for, and now you're my best friend. I've never had one of those. So don't write yourself off because you're in a bad place.”

Nox laughed and flopped down on his bed with a smile on his face.  "I've never had one either.  You know I couldn't make it through this without you.  All this I'm alone shit, isn't accurate.  I'm not alone.  Not completely.  I got you. And I'm sorry if I don't say it or don't act like I appreciate it.  I'm an asshole, self-centered prick." He chuckled to himself but kept going. "But I need you as much as I needed him. I miss Aurora. Miss my mom.  I thought I was making a family and now it's falling apart. I don't know." He sighed. "I got you.  At least I haven't fucked up one relationship because of the fucking horde.  Thank you, Thal for sticking through it. I should try to get some sleep.  Not that it'll be restful.  I need to go see if Ezekeil's got anything I'll try -- he offered.  And I can see the girls.  Get a hug from one and a punch in the arm from the other I'm sure.  They always make the day brighter -- something to get up for.  That's all I need -- just one reason to get out of bed the next morning.  I'll be fine.  I'll text you tomorrow so you know I'm alive."

"You got me," she agreed. "I'll speak to you tomorrow. Goodnight, Nox."

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