Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: femslashbb May 2017: Happiness
Word Count: 1,900
Date Written: 19 May 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
She finds her sitting at the kitchen table, staring off into space with the look of one who's completely lost in her thoughts, but Rachel knows that look better than most. She sees the vague lines on her cheeks that her tears have made. She notes the hint of red to her blue eyes that's there because Amara's been crying for hours. She knows the look too well. Her dear friend isn't just lost in her thoughts; she's lost to the Demons of her past.
Rachel moves about the room without speaking a word. She pours a glass of milk and heats it just a little in the microwave before setting it in front of Amara. The blonde blinks slowly as Rachel moves directly in front of her, and as Rachel's form before her finally interjects itself into the blonde's mind, she blinks with silent surprise.
Rachel's lips curve up into a smile that she hopes is reassuring, although she knows it's going to take much more than a friendly smile and some warm milk to give Amara what she needs to even begin to feel comfortable in her own body, let alone around their team mates again. "I remembered you used to like a glass of warm milk before bed," Rachel speaks softly.
Amara blinks again, then nods slowly; Rachel can tell she's forcing herself to go through the motions that are acceptable in this time. "Thank you," she manages to say, but she doesn't pick up the milk. She just stares at the glass in front of her.
"I promise it's not going to turn into a monster," Rachel says gently.
"He was a monster," Amara remarks, shivering visibly. Rachel's heart hurts seeing her like this. She's been in her shoes before. She's been hurt, controlled, forced to hurt her friends, to kill her family, and thought of herself and her captor as monsters. But how did Kitty first break through to her? she wonders. Kitty had helped her to open up and learn to live with her past a long time before Amara had entered her life. There are still times, especially sometimes when she wakes up in the middle of the night, screams from her past, one of the many futures that could be but, she finally believes, will not be in this timeline, still echoing in her head, and she thinks, for a moment, that everything that's happened with Kitty, Amara, and the others, everything that's happened in this timeline, was just a dream. Terror seizes her, but then she takes stock of her surroundings, of the thoughts she can hear, the dreams she can sense, and reminds herself that it isn't a dream. This is her reality now, not pain and terror, heartache and grief.
"Yes," Rachel acknowledges, sitting across from Amara and reaching over the table for her hand, "but that doesn't mean you were a monster."
"I almost killed Wolverine -- "
"Please," Rachel says, almost unable to keep her smile meant to comfort from turning into a humored smirk, "it takes a lot more than that to kill him."
"Anybody else -- "
"But he isn't anybody else. You didn't attack anybody else. You didn't hurt anybody else, and you only hurt him because Mesmero made you."
Amara's eyes finally, truly meet Rachel's. "How can you be so sure?"
"Because I know you, Amara. I know you would never willingly hurt your friends." Her voice drops to a hushed whisper even though her telepathy tells her that no one is anywhere near them and most of the school is sound asleep, their minds caught in their own dreams and nightmares. "Just like I would never willingly hurt my friends or family. But I did because of a monster similar to yours."
"Ahab -- "
Rachel nods. "You forget," she says, her own green eyes shimmering with unshed tears, "you're far from being the only one who's been controlled and turned against her friends."
"Rachel, I -- "
Rachel holds up a hand to stop the apology forming on Amara's lips. "It's okay," she tells her. "My nightmare was a long time ago, even if it sometimes when I wake up screaming, it feels like it was just yesterday. Your nightmare is the one we have to fight now." Her hand closes around Amara's and squeezes her softly. "Just remember you're not alone, okay?"
Amara nods. "I . . . I know," she says. "You and Kitty didn't give up on me tonight. Ororo was ready to let me go. So were Kurt and Peter, I suspect, and I can only imagine what Logan wanted to do to me -- But not you two. You didn't give up on me."
"And we won't," Rachel vows, "ever. Kitty's kind of grown adept at not giving up on people, and I, out of every one, know too well what it's like to be some monster's puppet."
"But what do I do after tonight?" she asks. "How do I make it up to them?"
"Don't worry about Logan. He'll be miffed for a few days, but more because you got the jump on him than because you barbecued him. This one isn't the same one you knew before. He knows what it's like to be tricked. He . . . " She chooses her words carefully because his story is not hers to tell. "He knows what it's like to be tricked into hurting your friends, or forced. The others will get over it with time, and Kitty and I will always have your back. Especially me."
Amara's lips tremble as though she wants to smile but is yet afraid to do so, another gesture Rachel knows all too well. "It's okay," she says, squeezing her hand again. "We won't let him get you again."
"But you will help me stop him?"
"But what do I do tonight? I can't go after him yet . . . "
"No, you can't, and when you do, you're not going alone. But tonight . . . Tonight, you need to remember you're not alone, and you're not his puppet any more. Tonight is the night you start getting your happiness back."
"I don't know . . . ," Amara breathes uncertainly, but Rachel's smile is firm.
"I do. You're not going to give that creep the pleasure of keeping you scared and hurting when he's no longer in control of you. You're free, Amara. You just need to believe that."
"I keep expecting him to come back at any second. I keep thinking he's going to make the drop on me again at any time and this is all going to turn out to be some kind of elaborate hoax. You're not really here. I'm not really free."
"But you are," Rachel says firmly, squeezing her hand, "and I am. You are not and will not be alone again until you're ready."
"I'm not ready -- "
"I know. Now drink your milk and come to bed. You need to rest."
"Come to bed?" Amara asks.
Rachel stands and pats her hand one more time. "I'm not leaving you alone, Amara. I'll be right there while you sleep, and I'll still be there when you wake. Nobody will get the jump on you while you're asleep. While I'm around, no one's hurting you any more."
Amara nods slowly before sipping her milk in silence. Rachel hovers nearby as she drinks down the glass, and when she's done, she washes the glass out, leaves it to dry, and returns to the table to take her hand. Without speaking another word, she leads Amara not to a guest bedroom but to her bedroom and doesn't let go of her hand even as she sits down on the bed. "Get comfortable," she tells her. "It's going to be a long night."
Amara nods, and Rachel can see she's trembling again. She backs up on the bed, stretches out, and waits until Amara lays down before her. Then, carefully, gently as though she's holding a lamb, she wraps her arms around Amara's lithe form. "Close your eyes," she whispers next to her ear, and then she reaches out to her mind with hers.
Tonight is only the most recent chapter of their life together. Amara knew Rachel's deep, dark secrets, but they've shared much more than pain. In Amara's mind, Rachel's telepathy plays the memories she cherishes: memories of their kisses, of their first time making love, of holding each other all night long, of a friendship that's come to mean so much more to Rachel, of the times they danced together, and the times they played tag through the evening sky, unseen by humanity's prejudiced eyes. Rachel shares every happy memory she can recall them forming together until, at last, Amara's smiling again and is nestled comfortably in her arms.
"It'll come back," Rachel whispers next to her ear.
"What will?" Amara questions, not yet understanding.
"Your happiness. I promise it will come back."
Amara focuses on the arms holding her, of the love she feels radiating protectively around her, of the sweet taste of Rachel's lips which she remembers so very fondly. Then, with a spring of new tears forming just behind her closed eyelids and with a genuine, albeit small, smile on her face, Amara confides quietly, "I think it already is." She knows it is when Rachel kisses the back of her neck, just below her wavy, blonde hair. "Just don't leave me," she whispers.
"Never," Rachel vows. Or, at least, she amends silently, not until you want me to go. "What happened tonight wasn't your fault, Amara. It was that monster's. And we're not going to let him keep you down. You're gonna be fine. You're going to be better than fine."
"I already am," Amara whispers, dozing off to sleep for the first time in weeks.
Later in the night, she'll awaken to the sound of screams that she'll come to realize are erupting from her own mouth. The nightmare isn't over. She relives it several times throughout her first night back at the school, but every time she wakes, Rachel's right there, holding her, talking to her, soothing her beasts. Together, they make it through the night.
Somehow, when Amara wakes in the morning, she's the one holding Rachel. She watches the rays of early morning sunlight creeping into their room playing over Rachel's bright red hair and realizes, with a smile, that a new day is dawning. A new day is dawning, and she's neither alone nor Mesmero's puppet any longer. Rachel's right: Everything's going to be okay. And it might sound corny, and she'll never say it aloud, but she's definitely on the right path to happiness. After all, she's holding her joy in her arms this very morning.
She gently turns Rachel around and kisses her awake. "You made it through you first night," Rachel whispers, gazing into her eyes.
"Yes," Amara agrees, "and I'm going to make it through many more. We are going to make it through many more," she adds, remembering times in the past when she's been the one to wake Rachel when she was screaming and to hold her until her nightmares subsided, "together."
"Yes, we are. Welcome home, Amara."
"Thanks." Amara beams at her. "I missed you," she whispers, and then she sets to kissing her and making their first morning back together glorious and happy indeed.