Forty-nine – 02

[This post is from Matt’s point of view.]

“How much do you actually remember?”

The question jolted him and Matt’s brows knit, suddenly wary. “Why are you asking?”

Phelan’s expression went slack for a moment. “Because this gets easier if you’ve got frame of reference, sheanchara. How much do you remember?”

“A lot,” Matt whispered. “I remember a lot more than I ever dared let on. It just seemed safer to keep quiet.” He squeezed his eyes shut, his stomach flipping over itself. “No, that’s a lie. Not safer. Easier. It was easier to pretend. It was easier to ignore the dreams and the feelings.”

Phelan’s fingers flexed, digging into his shoulder almost painfully. “We’ll deal with that later,” he said. “For now, we’ve got a big problem to solve. Do you remember what we did at Tammas?”

Matt swallowed, nodding. That had been one of the first battles after Cíar had been rescued, after he’d begun to recover himself. “Are you serious?”

“Do you see another way out of this?”

“I wish I did.” Matt exhaled, looking toward Phelan. “I don’t know if we can hold this shield and do it.”

“I think I can bolster the shield for you two,” Thordin said, staring at the lightning that crackled off the invisible wall.

Phelan’s brows knit. “Are you—”

“—sure?” Thordin smiled weakly. “Usually not anymore.” He slowly reached out for the shield, touching it with fingertips first, then his whole palm, his hand pressed against it as if it was something solid instead of ephemeral. Lightning coruscated across the wards, rippling and growing brighter until it flowed back toward Thordin’s hand and vanished at his touch.

He smiled faintly and glanced toward Phelan and Matt. “Do what you need to do,” he said. “We’ll buy you time.”

Matt took a deep breath, nodding and feeling abruptly shaky. He squeezed his hands into fists, a sudden pain lancing through the hand he’d slashed, the one that already carried the scar shaped like Interstate 75h across his palm. Phelan squeezed his shoulder again.

“Are you sure you’re up for this?”

“We have to do something,” Matt said, looking back out to the field. He was dimly aware of someone shouting Thom’s name as he concentrated, recalling the skills of a man who had died centuries ago, a man whose soul had been reborn in him.

Phelan gave him a gentle shake, jarring him from his thoughts. Matt blinked.

“What?”

The once-druid pointed behind them and Matt twisted to see Thom standing beneath them with Jacqueline at his side.

“It’s Marin,” Thom said, his face pale. “It’s time. She’ll want you there, too, Matt.”

Matt shook his head slightly. “No, I need to be here. Tell her Phelan and I are ending this. She’ll understand. Tell her I love her.”

Thom hesitated, then nodded. “Be careful.”

Matt smiled grimly.

Careful wasn’t something on his mind, unless it was being careful not to get anyone he cared about killed when they did this.

He turned back to Phelan, seeing a flash of relief in the other man’s gaze.

“You can’t do this alone, either,” Matt murmured.

Phelan shook his head. “No. No, not without dire consequences. There might still be consequences.”

“We’ll deal with them,” Matt said. To his right, he could hear Seamus commanding the forces on the wall in Thom’s absence. He took a deep breath. “Ready?”

Phelan nodded.

Matt exhaled slowly and reached deep.

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