Set just before/during Nightmares
Why the Hell did she ask if I was worried? I've never been worried in my life. Certainly not now... Ok, maybe that wasn't quite true, but- oh, forget it. Who was I fooling, anyway? Not Aretha. And she was really the only one who mattered anyway. Just the fact that anyone mattered to me was... What's the word...? Frightening. That's it. I was afraid. Afraid because the limp body of one Aretha Tesla sat before me propped up against a tree, slowly bleeding its life out. And afraid because I actually cared. Terrified because I realized that if she died.... I just didn't know what I would do with my life anymore.I might break. But I wasn't fragile like that- I never broke, because there was never any heart to break. Rule number one: don't get involved. Too late.
I had a hand laid as gently as I could manage on her shoulder, and focused on the energy pulsing through into her body. If I tried to heal everything too quickly, I was afraid her body wouldn't handle the shock, but if I went too slowly she would bleed to death. I was determined to avoid both of these- no, not eventialitites-possibilities. Emotions were relatively new to me, and so far, I didn't like them one bit. Possibly the most annoying thing about them was that now they had started... They wouldn't stop.
Aretha began to squirm and wimper in her sleep. Nightmare? Probably. Darn it. I had tried to block the memories from her, but I wasn't as thorough as I usually was; my priority was to get her out alive, and I'll admit that I rushed when I formed the barrier in her mind because of that. Now she was paying for my carelessness by reliving every moment of Mevolent's curelty... Rule one: never let Aretha suffer like that again. I took my focus away from healing her- she would live, at least- and began to shake her gently.
She jerked awake, panting heavily and sweating, and all of a sudden she was clinging to me like a teddy bear. Ok, emotions were one thing, but this... It was just too weird. Too much new territory for one day. "Kid." I murmured, "Get off me."
She muttered a quick "Sorry," but didn't move. Normally, I would have just pushed her away from me, but... I mean, it was my fault she was feeling all of this in the first place. I messed up and made her live through that twice. I had broken rule number one. So if I had to pay for that by being a pillow, so be it. Eventually she started outright sobbing into my shoulder. I wanted to do something, anything, to comfort her at that point- but what? That kind of thing just wasn't me... She knew that just as well as I did. At least she wouldn't expect anything of me- that meant I couldn't let her down.
She stayed like that, clinging to me, for quite some time. I had never seen her so broken. Even while she was being tortured, she didn't beg. She never said a word. She stayed strong, God only knows how. But the second time was tearing her apart, and it was entirely fault. I think I could name this emotion, if I tried; I think it's guilt. Definitely guilt. But guilt wasn't going to help her, so I used the time I had to mull over her injuries again.
She would have some scars, for sure, but those were no problem- it was the one on her neck that really worried me. It was an old symbol- very old- typically used for binding. Whoever bore the symbol would be bound to the will of whoever had placed it. That is, if it worked. But this was Mevolent. I was almost certain it would. If it had been anywhere else I could have peeled a bit of the skin off, or made another small cut on top of it, just to break the magic, but this was her neck. Right on top of a major artery. What could I do without killing her? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Mevolent was a clever little twisted soul. As it was, the only thing preserving Aretha's free will was the fact that it hadn't been activated yet.