[This post is from Hecate’s point of view.]
She had lived through things like this before, but they had rarely ended well—for anyone involved, if she were to be brutally honest. The waiting was always the worst of it, the hardest. More often she was on the leading edge of a charge, or the knife in the shadows. Hecate was almost never hidden away like this when a battle was joined. Oh, certainly she’d been elsewhere at times, doing work necessary to a “cause” but this…
…this was different.
This is like waiting for him when he went away, when they—when I—would send him into battle, would point him at an enemy they wanted eliminated. When they would force us to do what they wanted and he would go away and I would die a little more inside even as I watched him crumble a little bit more each time, watched the pain get a little bigger each time he would come back to me.
Her heart ached.
This is different. You know it’s different.
She exhaled a shaky breath. Lin squirmed a little in her arms, making quiet baby sounds. She looked down at him and reached to brush a fingertip along his tiny cheek and jaw. He stared up at her with wide, brilliantly bright blue eyes. A calm washed over her and her shoulders sagged a little as she leaned in to kiss his forehead. He waved a tiny fist at her, fingers catching in her hair for a moment.
Everything is different now. Everything is different and that’s good. It’s very good.
Above them, the hatch creaked, then opened. Hecate, Neve, and Angie looked up toward the sudden light, dull though it was. Matt peered down toward them and smiled weakly.
Relief flooded through her, so strong it made her light-headed and weak-kneed.
“Come on,” he said. “It’s safe to come up. Wet, though, so be careful.”
He didn’t need to ask her twice.