He was there when she awoke, standing by the window with his arm braced against the wall. The light from outside was just beginning to filter into the darkness of the room and her head was pounding. She could hardly look at him it was almost too bright, the light illuminating his tan skin and bouncing off of his bloodstained white button-up shirt.
“Jonas,” she croaks out his name and he tenses at the sound. He turns to her then, his eyes filled with concern for an instant before his expression fades into indifference.
“P,” A woman’s voice whispers in awe from the other end of the room. P turns her head quickly, the pounding sensation worsening in her head. She presses the heel of her hand to her forehead, closing her eyes tight.
There’s an IV in her wrist, she realizes as she moves her hand. Someone had provided her with medical care and with Chuck gone she had just hoped the care they had provided was necessary and correct. Her head throbbed, her mind racing. Why couldn’t she remember how she got here?
“What happened?” She asked, unable to acknowledge the other presence in the room through her pain. She heard Jonas shuffle away from the window and come to her side. His concern made her uneasy, had they not only known each other for a number of small hours? Across the room, the woman stood as well, her shoes clicking rhythmically on the floor as she came to the bed.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” She asked, her voice soft like sunset. P was getting the distinct feeling that there was something else, something more hanging in the room between them then just a few hours.
“They took Chuck,” she answered almost immediately. She could feel the change in the room even though she couldn’t see it. She could feel Willow and Jonas exchanging worried glances and it made her sick to her stomach. What had happened in these hours, these days? A broken, uneasy feeling rushes through her and she feels the hot sting of tears in her eyes. What had she forgotten?
“Is he dead?” She whispered harshly, moving her hand from her face and squinting up at them. Willow’s face swam into view first and for the first time P was struck by how beautiful she was. Or perhaps it wasn’t the first time? She couldn’t quite recall, broken memories swam just out of reach of her mind.
She stood tall near her, clothed in the same soiled red dress she had always been in. Her black hair was still a mess, her dark skin marred with the same bruises and cuts she had treated only hours before. If they wore the same clothing it couldn’t have been longer than a day, could it? She hadn’t lost more than a few days at most, but she remembered suggesting they change, she remembered them gratefully accepting a change of clothing.
“Why are you back in those old clothes?” She asked suddenly, not wanting to hear the answer to whether or not Chuck had survived The Glass. She looked at them each in turn, watching with an anxious feeling deep in her gut as his Adam’s Apple bobs in his throat. Next to him Willow sucks in a breath, her pink lips parting. P was shaking now, her whole body trembling with anticipation and fear.
“You’ve lost a lot of time, P.” Jonas was the first one to speak, his brown eyes filled with so many emotions. He was sad, concerned, angry, but there was so much more there left unspoken. She turns her head slightly, slowly to look at Willow who was looking at her with a similar mix of emotions in her eyes. Something dangerous passed between them, something she didn’t quite remember. She felt her stomach knot, her skin prickle with something electric.
“How much time?” She asked, her body reacting to their closeness. Willow reached out and gripped her hand while Jonas settled his arm behind her shoulders. The touch was both new and familiar, it made her feel like she was floating, dizzy with an emotion she didn’t quite understand.
“It doesn’t matter, P,” Willow says with a soft smile, leaning forward to press her forehead against P’s own. At first P wanted to flinch away, the contact seeming so new and unwanted, but she remained there, unflinching and allowing the contact. It made her stomach roll, erupt into a feeling she had never before experienced, her skin was hot beneath the touch.
“It does matter,” P complained, her eyes fluttering closed in some sort of muscle memory as Willow bumped her nose against her. Jonas, for his part, remained calm and silent next to them, his hand gripping her shoulder in a reassuring touch that should have made P feel disgusted, but left her wanting more.
“You still remember,” Willow whispered, noting how she leaned into them for comfort. P tensed, she didn’t remember, not quite. She could tell there was something hanging in the air between the three of them, something she couldn’t quite touch, but it was there and it was palpable. Willow tilted her head, nose brushing against hers once more. P opened her eyes slightly, mouth watering, heart thudding in her chest.
“I don’t remember,” P corrected, her eyes half closed, her lips parted in some strange sexual way she had only seen in magazines. Her body reacted in ways that betrayed her. In ways she didn’t quite understand.
When she surged forward, so quickly it almost hurt, Jonas’s hand falling from her shoulders in surprise, it was almost as if she had not acted of her own accord. Her lips found Willow’s, soft and warm against her own. Her head ached, her body stinging in pain, but it all took a backseat to the feeling of the moment.
Willow allowed her hands to rise, cupping P’s face, tilting back her head, fingers scratching softly at her jaw in a way that made P shiver. She could feel the tears now, falling hot over her cheeks, catching on Willow’s fingers at her jaw. Jonas stirred next to her, his hands on her again, cradling her back, rubbing soft circles between her shoulders. She knew she should find it strange, should find the touch in such an intimate moment to be unwanted, but she didn’t.
Beneath his touch, her skin ignited. Her lips moved hungrily against Willow like a woman starved. It was like she had been without food, without water, without breath in her lungs. When she finally pulled away, Willow lingered, eyes still closed and lips parted.
She struggled to breathe, these newfound sensations nearly overcoming her, but before she could think another set of lips found her own, his fingers beneath her chin, tilting her head back gently. Her head sang in pleasure and pain as he kissed her. His once clean-shaven face now had a very pronounced stubble that tickled and scraped against her face in rhythm with his lips.
She had lost time, she had lost too much time she knew. Her body’s reaction was a not only a betrayal to her mind, but it was also filled with a whisper of her memories. When had they done this? When had they become this? She pulled back from him, heart thundering in her ears as she laid back on his arm and watched them.
Both of their eyes wide now and glassy with tears. She swallowed as her own tears continued to fall. This was a situation she had never been in before. She had never lost her memories, never experienced the power of whatever electric feeling passed between them. She reached up to run her hands through her hair, noticing for the first time that her head was closely shaven and her fingers had instead met the indentation of a large wound. She pulled her hand away immediately, a loud, sharp sound escaping her mouth before she could stop it.
Her eyes were on her companions again, searching. She was mutilated. She had been injured and severely at that. The indentation in her head indicated a wound that was deep, but had begun to knit together again. The time she lost echoed between them, her fear and self-hatred escaping through her tears that had begun flowing faster.
“Am I dead?” She asked suddenly, not trusting what was passing between them. This harmony of need and want. The feeling of something so much larger than herself, unable to be contained within her. It felt so much like bliss, the harmony she had always been taught death brought to the people of The Sand.
“You’re not dead,” Willow spoke immediately with a sharp, startling laugh. Her tears finally began to fall down her face, her gaze settling on the wound wound that marred P’s face. It was a large, terrifying scar that stretched from her chin to the apex of her scalp that was held together by stitches and grafts of skin from the dermal regulator. It was a wonder they had saved the sight in her eye.
“You’re not,” Jonas confirmed, pressing a soft, tentative kiss against her scalp to the right of her ugly scar. She felt his tears slide against her short hair, tingling against her skin as he wiped them with his thumb.
“I don’t understand,” P said, her voice sounded broken, confused. She looked at both of them in turn, the ache in her head and neck forgotten for now in lieu of understanding what had been done to her.
“You are very much alive,” Willow said, her voice sounding almost distant. As if it had sparked something within her, a ghost of a memory that skipped away from her probing finger tips.
“You’ve said that to me before,” P said, brow furrowed. Willow nodded sadly, her tears zig-zagging against the dirt on her skin. She could feel it, the ghostly haze of a memory igniting within her. Next to her Jonas and Willow were silent as she worked through it, lost in the fog.
She could see it, almost as if she were watching a story. There was screaming, impossibly loud noises popping all around them as she lay bleeding on the floor. Her head ached as if it were on fire, her eyes coated in a liquid so thick she could not open them as she lay there choking on her own blood.
She could feel Willow next to her, her voice was soft and still against the torrent of other impossible sounds. Her hands were gripped harshly against her wrists.
“Stay with me,” her voice said, the only thing she could hear.
“Am I dead?” P struggled to ask against the blood streaming into her mouth. She was choking, fading away by inches.
“No,” Willow said, voice loud and certain, “You are very much alive, and you are loved.”
“Loved?” P asked when she came from the memory, her eyes on Willow an understanding settling between them. Willow nodded, choking back a sob. Love. She was loved. She turned to Jonas, her tears falling in earnest, making her eyes ache.
“Loved?” she asked him and he nodded too, holding her to his chest as gently as he possibly could.