[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]
Hecate put pencil to paper a few moments later. I watched for the span of a few heartbeats, then my gaze drifted back toward the sky. Lin shifted in my arms, then quieted, settling down, eyelids drooping more. It wouldn’t be long before he was asleep.
“How’s Thom doing?” Hecate asked softly, glancing up for a second. “He didn’t seem that great the other day but he definitely knew what he was talking about.”
I sighed, tilting my head back. “That’s a complicated question.”
“Is it?” She looked up, smiling slightly. “That sounds familiar.”
A laugh escaped me and she grinned, nudging me gently. “Right,” I said. “Right. Sorry.”
“It’s all right. What’s going on?”
I shook my head, rolling my neck before my gaze returned to the clouds. “He’s just pushing himself too hard, I think. I know why. He doesn’t think I do, but I always know, just like he always knows even though I don’t tell him.”
She stopped in mid-sketch, pencil momentarily frozen. “That…that wasn’t convoluted at all.”
I snorted, turning the words over in my mind. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess it is. He doesn’t like feeling useless or helpless. None of us do, but especially him. He fights it harder than anyone I’ve ever met. It almost broke us—it did break us for a while. He was ready to walk away because he thought it was the only way to save me. It broke my heart and his.”
Hecate was quiet. Her pencil scraped softly against the pad for a few strokes before she asked, “What happened?”
“The world ended,” I whispered. “And we both realized that not everything is set in stone, but some things are and those things are worth anything and everything.” I swallowed hard against the emotion that welled up, tried to fight the tears that threatened, the ones that already stung in my eyes, ready to well up. “I thought I’d lost him when it all came down. It was the lowest I’d ever been, then someone told me he hadn’t gone, that he’d stayed and he had to be somewhere here and my heart soared and then crashed again because we didn’t know where he was, we hadn’t found him.”
“But you did,” she said. “You did find him.”
I nodded, swallowing hard. “I did. We did. He wasn’t good, but he was still here and we had another chance. I will never stop being grateful for that.”
“You love him.”
I nodded. “More than anything. Almost anything.”
She glanced at Lin. I nodded slightly.
“Sometimes, it’s kind,” she whispered to me.
“Sometimes,” I agreed, knowing what she meant. “But it’s usually a mixed bag.”
Hecate nodded in agreement, glancing down to her sketch again. She squeezed my knee before she resumed drawing.
I leaned my shoulder into hers and watched the rain.