Thom lay on his back, staring at nothing with Marin’s blanket pulled across his chest, so he could at least have a hint of her near, since it smelled like her. It had taken half an hour to convince Jacqueline that he was all right, that he just wanted to rest, no, nothing was wrong with his head—not from a building falling on him, anyway.
She’s so pissed at me. Maybe it’s better that she is. He closed his eyes. If we’re apart, maybe nothing will happen. Maybe the nightmares will stop.
He opened his eyes to the sound of footsteps and pushed himself up on his elbow, watching Matt as he rooted around in Marin’s bag for something. “Hey Matt.”
The glare Matt gave him could have melted steel.
Thom tried not to recoil. Fuck. What did I do? “Is she okay?”
“No thanks to you,” Matt snapped.
What the hell? Thom sat up fully, ignoring the sharp complaints from his ribs. “What’s wrong?”
“Damned if I know, because they won’t tell me, but I know it’s got something to do with you. You two can’t go three days without fighting about something, can you?”
What happened to her? “We’re not—”
“If you’re not fighting again, Thom, then why the hell is she on my mattress instead of hers?” Matt growled and jerked Marin’s bag up and onto his shoulder. “You would think that the apocalypse coming would teach you that there’s more important shit to worry about than whatever the hell you’re fighting over.”
She can’t accept that I don’t see the shit she sees. That’s all. My dreams are just that—dreams. Nightmares. That’s all. Maybe the shit she’s seeing is real. I don’t know that one way or another because I can’t see it. What I see isn’t real. It’s not. It can’t be. Thom shook his head. “You wouldn’t understand anyway.”
“Yeah, right,” Matt said, voice dripping with sarcasm. “Probably not.”
Thom tried not to make a sound, slumping back to the mattress as Matt pivoted and marched out, carrying Marin’s bag. Thom groped blindly for her blanket, fist closing around the fabric. He closed his eyes. Mar, what did you do? What happened? He took a steadying breath, trying to tamp down the fear welling up inside of him.
“I can’t just sit here,” he murmured to himself. He pushed himself to his feet, ignoring the screaming, almost blinding pain in his ankle. The splint only supported him so much. Jacqueline and J.T. would kill him.
But maybe she won’t. He threw Marin’s blanket across his shoulder and started the painful limp toward where her brother had been sleeping. He tried to keep as much of his weight off his injured ankle as he could as he made his slow trek to where he hoped she’d still be. By the time he made it there, she was alone, just curling up on Matt’s mattress with a blanket. Her back was to him. Thom leaned against one of the shelving units that still stood in place, still served as a sort of wall between each sleeping cubical, and stared at her for a moment. She had the blanket pulled up to her shoulder, hair spilling across the pillow. He limped over and slowly sank down on the ground next to her, starting to spread the blanket he’d brought over her.
Marin gave a start and started to roll onto her back. She blinked up at him, then rolled back onto her side, not looking at him. “What do you want?”
“Are you okay? Matt said you got hurt.” And it’s my fault, probably.
She shook her head slightly, staring straight ahead. “You don’t care.”
It was like she’d plunged a frozen knife into his chest, sharp and cold, enough to stop his heart. There was never a time I didn’t care. “I care,” he whispered. “What happened?”
“You won’t believe me. You don’t think any of it’s real.”
The ice in his chest worked its way down into his guts, coiling like a great, frosty snake inside his belly. He reached down to tentatively brush her hair away from her face. “Mar…”
She jerked away. “Thom, don’t. Please. I already know you’re not going to believe me, so why bother?” She tugged the blanket closer. “Thank you for my blanket, but you didn’t have to bring it. Could you leave me alone now, please?”
Thom swallowed hard. Don’t want to leave her. I don’t want to leave things like this. “What did I do?” He finally murmured.
She rolled onto her back again and stared at him. “You lied to my face, Thom. That’s what you did. You lied to my face in front of Jacqueline.”
Her eyes narrowed. “About why you fell over. You weren’t dizzy.”
Thom looked away. “No,” he agreed. “I wasn’t dizzy. My mind was wandering, that’s all.”
“Yes, wandering!” He glared at her for a moment, then instantly softened as he saw the hurt and disbelief in her eyes. He sighed. “Mar, I was daydreaming, okay? Just…imagining things. Like what could happen if all of this actually somehow works out and we don’t all die in the next couple of months.” It wasn’t a complete lie, anyway. He hoped she’d take it as truth enough and believe him. “Now what happened to you? Did you fall or something?”
Marin’s lips thinned and she slowly sat up, staring at him for a moment. “You won’t believe me.”
“Stop saying that. Just try me.”
“Fine.” She looked away. “It was the grays. The little mischief-maker entities that Drew’s been sensing almost his whole life.”
Thom’s stomach twisted, noting that Marin hadn’t mentioned that he himself had admitted to seeing them, too, before he decided that it was too dangerous to accept that it was more than their imaginations running away with them. All the moisture in his mouth dried up. “What did they do?”
“They got me surrounded. Thank god Drew and Rory followed my sorry ass down into the ravine. I broke our rule and almost paid the price for it.” She still wasn’t looking at him; she was instead very interested in picking lint off her blankets.
Thom reached over and took her hand, noticing what looked like some kind of burn on her left arm as he twined his fingers in hers. Her fingers were cold, trembling. “Did they do that?” He asked quietly.
Marin squeezed her eyes shut. “You believe me when I’m telling you that the grays hurt me, but you won’t believe that you and I can both see things before they happen?”
“Maybe you can,” Thom said quietly, forcing doubt into his voice and trying to quell the sick feeling in his stomach, the feeling that said that he was in denial and maybe she was right, “but I can’t. I don’t see any of it.”
She jerked her hand from his and hit him, backhanded him hard enough that he toppled over backwards, more stunned than hurt. He blinked up at the bottom of the wooden bunk above his head, sucking in a deep breath. Marin was crying next to him, painful, wrenching sobs. A big, cold hand wrapped icy fingers around his heart and squeezed.
God, Marin, why can’t you understand? He squeezed his eyes shut. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
“Just leave me alone, Thom,” she managed to say through her sobs. She mopped at her eyes with the corner of her blanket.
“I can’t,” he whispered as he forced himself up on an elbow, wincing at pain in his ribs.
She shook her head a little, staring at him. “Why not? You obviously can’t accept…a lot of things.”
“Because no matter how much we fight about what you think I can see, I still love you.” He took her hand again and squeezed, then let go. She needs space, though. Maybe I should give it to her. He forced himself fully into a sitting position with a wince, then started climbing to his feet.
“…did you come here by yourself?”
He nodded, trying not to look or feel guilty. “I had to. Matt wouldn’t tell me anything.”
“Matt didn’t know anything.”
Thom nodded, shifting his weight fully onto his good leg. “Are you going to be okay?” He whispered.
She stood up slowly, leaving her brother’s blanket behind. She slid her right arm under Thom’s shoulders. “Lean on me,” she murmured. “Jac’s going to kill you for walking on that ankle.”
“Only if you tell her,” he answered, looking down hat her. He settled an arm around her and leaned against her, keeping most of his weight off his ankle again. “I’m sorry, Marin,” he repeated after a moment of shared silence, voice a bare whisper. “I do believe you. You see what you see. I have to trust that. I just wish you could believe me.” I wish you could believe that I don’t have the same gift—or curse.
Marin looked up at him, pain flickering through her dark eyes. He had to look away; he couldn’t bear the sight. Her arm tightened around him and he winced despite himself, his ribs protesting the pressure. “I love you,” was all she said in response. It wasn’t an affirmation, just a matter-of-fact statement. Then she started walking, leading him gently back to their cubby, their space. They sank down to the mattresses together and he gathered her into his arms, lacing his fingers through her hair, ignoring his throbbing ankle and sore chest. She was so small in his arms, trembling and cold. He rested his chin against her head.
She buried her face in his neck. “I just hate you sometimes,” she murmured into his skin. He shivered a little.
I hate me sometimes, too, Mar. His arms tightened around her. “I’m sorry.” He kissed the top of her head, inhaling the scent of her hair. “But you’re stuck with me. I can’t live without you.”
She shivered and he drew her blanket around them both. They stayed like that, sitting together, holding each other, for a long, long time.
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