Jillian didn't sleep much these days.
In the moments that she did, she always saw Michael.
Her beautiful, perfect boy.
In those moments, she forgot about the pain.
When she woke, Jillian was consumed by silence and grief.
So she filled her time with work, pouring over data and calculations.
Anything to get that portal to come to life once more.
Every method she had tried had brought nothing but failure, there had been nothing that could compare to the readings from the day Michael had stepped through.
When it had first happened, Jillian had spent days with no idea what had brought the portal to life.
And then Camila had called her.
That was when they had both learned the reality of what had happened to each of them on that day.
The time the portal had activated had matched up with the time Ava had been inside the tomb.
Camila hadn't gone into much detail about what had happened inside that tomb or their version of events at the Vatican, but whatever had happened, it had been enough to power up the portal despite the distance Ava was from it.
Jillian had been trying to comprehend that information ever since and could only come to one conclusion.
Ava was the answer, not divinium. Ava. she always had been.
But Jillian had no way to get to her.
A fragment of hope had come in the form of Camila reaching out for her help to find Ava after she had been kidnapped. The deal that they had made had only added to that hope.
Jillian was not completely blind to the war that they were fighting, that Ava couldn't die if they were to stand a chance.
If Ava died, so did her chance of getting Micheal back.
So the deal had been made. Jillian had helped them.
And all she had heard since then was a two word text from Camila that had simply read:
Jillian had respected their space. She knew that they were dealing with a threat beyond comprehension, she knew that whatever had happened to Ava in the time that she had been gone had no doubt been traumatic.
But it didn't erase the fact that Jillian needed them too.
That they had a deal.
It was a delicate situation, but when it came to her son, there was nothing that she wouldn't do to bring him home.
Surely everything she has already done was evidence of that?
Jillian didn't particularly want to have to remind those girls of what had been promised to her, to do so could be interpreted as hostility.
But this was her son. Jillian could try to give them more time, but time was something Michael didn't have.
Each day he spent… Wherever he was, alone, lost and scared, was another day where she risked never seeing him again.
On the morning when Jillian's patience had reached its end, the portal came to life.
It lasted only seconds, fleeting enough that had Jillian not been in the room at the time, she could have gone hours without noticing it.
It was over before she had even gotten out of her seat.
Jillian looked over the data, the sheer amount of energy output that the readings were showing were astounding.
It could only be Ava.
So Jillian reached for her phone and called Camila's phone.
She was prepared to risk the change in perception. She was prepared to do whatever it took.
Jillian couldn't be patient anymore.
"Do you think one of us should go after them?" Camila asked quietly.
Ava and Beatrice were still in view, the only signs of life against an otherwise stretch of land, but it was impossible to see what was actually going on between them.
But Ava had seemed almost inconsolable when she had fled from the car, and Beatrice hadn't seemed far from a breakdown herself as she followed close behind.
"No." Lilith said quietly from the backseat. "Ava is going through something very intense right now. She needs support that I think only Beatrice can give to her."
"Are you sure about that?" Mary asked. "Because Ava seemed extremely worked up about Beatrice. So if you want to tell us what the fuck she was talking about, that'd be great."
Camila heard Lilith sigh heavily and looked over her shoulder to see Lilith tip her head back against the seat and close her eyes.
"Basically… When the halo exploded, Beatrice must have had her hands on Ava's back because her palms were all burned."
Oh… Oh no.
Camila kind of wanted to cry. Poor Beatrice, who constantly seemed to be accumulating more injuries.
And poor Ava… The guilt that she must be feeling.
No wonder she had reacted the way that she had.
Hurting any of them would be devastating to her, but to hurt Beatrice? That was something else entirely.
They all saw the way those two looked at each other.
Mary pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. "Fucking hell."
Lilith merely hummed in response. Camila closed her eyes and let her head bump against the window.
"How many injuries does Beatrice have now?" Mary asked.
"Too many." Camila murmured.
"...I also hurt her." Lilith spoke up quietly. "My claws were out when I grabbed her arm."
Camila was running through their supplies in her head, the claw marks she could bandage up easily, but burns?
Depending on the severity it was safe to assume she was unequipped to deal with them.
And Camila didn't have much hope that any of them, Ava included, could talk Beatrice back into a hospital.
Jillian had the resources to treat her, but that was even more unlikely, not with them knowing what Jillian needed Ava for.
What a mess.
"You powered up the halo." Mary said.
Another sigh from Lilith.
To an unbelievably powerful degree, it would seem.
It was the kind of power Melanie described in the journal. Was that an insight into the full capability of the halo? Why Adriel wanted Lilith dead?
Was there a way for Lilith to give Ava that power back permanently without having to die?
Neither of them could die. Camila didn't think she would be able to cope with those losses.
Camila chanced a look over at Mary and knew exactly what she was thinking.
Burned hands were nothing compared to the alternative.
Beatrice could have died, whether Ava and Lilith had interfered or not. But if it had been because of them?
It was terrifying to think about.
And Mary was clearly very aware of that, of a potential danger that hadn't really occurred to them until now.
This was new power. Raw, dangerous and unchecked.
Ava had done well to hone her abilities with the halo when she had. Lilith too, considering how little time they both had to get to grips with it all.
But they needed to learn to control this, and fast.
How were they supposed to be able to do that? Where?
The sensation of her phone vibrating in her pocket startled Camila so much that she banged her head against the window.
Feeling Lilith and Mary both watching her didn't make it any easier to get her phone into her hand, but all Camila could focus on was the way her stomach dropped the moment she saw Jillian's name on the screen.
Her seat shifted slightly as Lilith leaned forward and rested her hands against it.
"Let it ring out." Lilith said.
"She'll just call again." Mary pointed out.
"I got this." Camila said, sliding her thumb across the screen and lifting it to her ear. "Jillian, hey, I'm sorry this really isn't a good -"
"The portal activated." Jillian interrupted firmly.
Camila's breath caught in her throat, she turned her head, looking past Mary and out to where Beatrice and Ava were still talking.
"And I don't think I need to tell you when it happened because I think you know."
Ava and Lilith had opened the portal, just like Ava had when Adriel had tried to take the halo from her on that night in the Vatican.
"Like I said… Now isn't a good time. We're trying to deal with something right now."
"I need answers, Camila."
"What's she saying?" Mary asked quietly.
Camila shook her head. "I don't have answers to give you right now. Bea is hurt, we were attacked, we don't have time."
"I need you to make time." Jillian replied, the frustration was beginning to seep into her voice.
"We have a deal, remember? And right now, none of you are honouring that."
"You have to understand that it's dangerous." Camila said. "We can't just come to you without risking bringing the enemy to your doorstep."
"Then we need to find a way." Jillian replied. "I want to talk to Ava."
"I don't know if she's in a state to be able to do that."
"Then I need to hear that from her."
Jillian wasn't going to back down. She wanted them to come to ArqTec, Camila couldn't exactly blame her but it was just more pressure that they really didn't have the room to deal with right now.
Her timing couldn't have been worse.
Camila reached for the car door and opened it, much to the confusion of Mary and Lilith.
"I'll ask her and see how she's feeling but I can't make any promises." Camila said.
"...What's happening?" Lilith asked quietly.
"It sounds like Jillian wants to speak to Ava." Mary replied.
Lilith murmured under her breath about the ridiculousness of the situation but neither of them stopped Camila from getting out of the car.
She walked around the car and headed towards where Beatrice and Ava were.
"I'm heading over to them now." Camila said.
"You do understand where I'm coming from though, don't you?" Jillian asked.
Jillian had lost her son, and as far as she was concerned, Ava was the only key to getting him back.
And he had been gone for so long. Any situation when a child has been missing for this long is terrifying, but for Micheal?
He wasn't even on this Earth as far as they knew.
Could he really be in heaven? Hell?
Was he where Lilith had been?
Jillian was defined by so much more than just being a mother, but she was still a mother.
A mother who just wanted to find her son.
"Of course I do." Camila replied. "But you also need to understand our situation, we can't even stay still for long enough to rest for a whole night. An innocent man was just killed for working at the place we were hiding."
As Camila continued to walk, she could see Ava clearer now, she took in the way that Ava was kneeling before Beatrice.
The way that Beatrice was hugging her close.
It didn't seem like they were crying, but it did look like a very intimate moment.
Camila really didn't want to interrupt.
But they must have heard her approaching because Beatrice turned her head slowly to acknowledge her presence.
"Guys! Guys!" Camila called out to them.
Ava shifted slightly so that Camila could see her face, the worry was evident on her face.
"What's wrong?" Ava asked.
Camila held up the phone for them to see.
Beatrice immediately looked frustrated.
"Now isn't a good time." She called back.
"Is that Beatrice?" Jillian asked.
"I know. But she said that the portal activated." Camila explained as she brought the phone back up to her ear. "Yeah, that was Bea."
She watched Beatrice turn away for a moment, hands moving to help Ava up to her feet as Camila moved closer.
Jillian sighed heavily on the other line. "I'm going to be honest with you, Camila. It feels as though you're all keeping Ava away from me."
The back of Camila's neck went cold. A whisper of instinct that had her guard rising slightly.
It felt like standing on extremely thin ice.
"Ava is literally two feet away from me." Camila replied.
Ava stood as close to Beatrice as humanly possible without actually stepping on the other girl, her cheeks were still wet with tears and everything about her right now just gave the impression that she seemed extremely dazed.
"Hi." She said weakly.
Beatrice gave her a long, concerned look.
"You should all come in." Jillian said. And after a few agonisingly long seconds added, "For all of your own goods."
And that… That almost sounded like a threat.
Beatrice held her hand out, as if to ask for the phone but Camila took a step back and raised a finger to stop her.
Ava looked concerned, one hand came up to rest against Beatrice's arm, fingers curled into her jacket.
Who the touch was intended to comfort, Camila didn't know.
Beatrice's jaw tightened, no doubt reading the worry on Camila's face easily.
Camila's mind was racing, trying desperately to interpret Jillian's words as quickly as she could.
Was it a threat? A warning?
Had Jillian's patience reached its end, the need to find Michael overshadowing everything else?
If it were Camila, what would she do in this scenario? If she was talking to the people who potentially had the answer to everything.
She would want to find them.
And she would do anything to do that.
…How long has the call been connected?
Camila looked from Ava to Beatrice and let out a long breath.
"Jillian…" Camila began apprehensively. "Have you traced this call?"
Ava's grip on Beatrice's jacket tightened, they both focused their attention on Beatrice as they watched her take a deep breath.
The silence felt painful.
"I can have a team there to meet you in two hours." Jillian replied eventually.
Camila hung up the phone, and shoved it into her back pocket.
"Are you two okay?" Camila asked.
Ava frowned. "I… Long story. What just happened?"
"She traced the call." Beatrice said softly to Ava, though her tone swiftly grew heavier when her attention shifted to Camila. "Standard procedure for a trustworthy ally, yes?"
The bite in Beatrice's tone may not have been directed at her, but it had Camila taking a small step back all the same.
"We need to get back to the car." Camila said. "Tell Mary and Lilith, we can make assumptions about Jillian's motivations later."
Thankfully, rather than argue, Beatrice lifted a hand to press against Ava's back, gently guiding her to move forward.
Camila's gaze lingered for a moment as even more confusion settled within her.
Lilith had said Beatrice's palms were all burnt.
So why did her hands look completely healed?
Even when they were back in the car, Ava didn't feel like she could speak. It was much easier to stay as she was, wedged between Beatrice and Lilith as Mary drove and Camila explained everything.
Beatrice had offered to take the middle seat, but Ava had merely shook her head and climbed in.
Her leg was still injured, it'd be too uncomfortable in the middle seat.
Everybody was angry . Not at Camila, they could never be angry at her.
Hell, Camila herself seemed pretty pissed.
They were angry at Jillian, at the idea that she was sending people after them to bring them, to bring Ava back to ArqTec.
Ava didn't know what to feel.
Not about Jillian, not about the others' reactions, anything.
Ava was still trying to come to terms with the grief that came with knowing she had hurt Beatrice.
But then there was the awe of healing her.
That part still didn't feel real.
She kept staring at the back of Beatrice's hand where it rested on Beatrice's thigh, trying to understand how she had done it.
"So where exactly am I going?" Mary asked.
"Just keep driving." Camila said. "I'll find us somewhere when I'm done with this."
She had both her and Mary's phones in her hands, typing numbers from her phone into Mary's.
"Do you really think she's sending people to us?" Lilith asked.
"It's what I would do." Camila mumbled distractedly. "I could be wrong and I hope I am, but I want to play it safe."
Lilith hummed. "So we've got Adriel and his growing demon army, the Vatican and their Swiss Guard, quite possibly the police and now Jillian looking for us… Wonderful."
Ava frowned at Lilith's words.
"Would the police even be able to link us to what happened at the safe house?" She asked quietly.
"We can't rule it out." Mary said. "But I think Lilith is referring to the night you were kidnapped, when we took Beatrice to the hospital to check out her injuries."
"A nurse got suspicious because Beatrice didn't want to stick around for the x-ray and observation." Lilith explained. "And then she spoke to security when she heard that a car had been stolen by Mary from the parking lot."
Beatrice's hand slowly curled into a fist.
Ava gave a small nod. "I see."
She watched Camila pop the sim card out of the side of her phone, break it in half and throw it out of the window.
"At the rate we're going, we're all going to need new phones." Mary sighed.
Ava began to tune them all out, she moved her own hand to tap two fingers gently against the back of Beatrice's.
Neither of them looked at each other, but Beatrice didn't need any clarification. She simply flipped her hand over, palm up.
It didn't seem real.
There were still faint scars, the larger ones Ava assumed were the remnants of the burns, the smaller ones most likely from Beatrice's past.
Ava pressed her finger to the middle of Beatrice's hand and inhaled softly.
Her skin was so soft.
For all of the damage Ava had caused, she had also healed it. She had taken Beatrice's pain away.
She had helped .
But it still didn't change the fact that Ava had still caused Beatrice harm. It didn't erase the knowledge or memory of her actions.
Ava brushed her finger along the lines of Beatrice's palm, watching as her hand twitched but didn't move away from Ava's touch.
Curious, Ava brought her fingers down to the tiny bit of wrist that wasn't covered by the sleeve of Beatrice's jacket and back up again. When she reached Beatrice's fingers, Beatrice straightened them out so Ava could touch her fingertips.
They were calloused from years of training, her fingers flexed as Ava touched each one.
Even though she could see Beatrice's fingers twitching, Beatrice didn't do anything else in response to Ava's touches.
But Ava saw Beatrice's head move, turning to look past Ava.
Ava frowned and followed the movement, coming face to face with Lilith's watchful gaze.
It wasn't judgemental or anything like that, but it was watchful, fixated on Beatrice's hands too.
It wasn't the touches she was looking at, it was Beatrice's hand.
Lilith must have seen Beatrice's hands before.
Ava looked away, back at Beatrice's hand and slid her fingers into the spaces between Beatrice's and curled them until their hands were entwined.
She heard Beatrice exhale slowly and watched her gaze drop back to their hands.
Ava smiled to herself as she watched Beatrice's fingers close around her own.
Nothing really made sense anymore, but this… This did.
Beatrice made sense.
Ava's fascination with her hand seemed to extend beyond trying to understand her new healing abilities, that much had become clear when her touches had moved to Beatrice's wrist and fingertips.
She had touched with such caution, such delicacy, making sure to give Beatrice room to move away should she want to.
When Beatrice had noticed Lilith watching the exchange, her first instinct had been to pull away, to hide. Her second instinct had told her that Lilith was only watching because she had noticed the healed skin.
It had surprised her that Lilith hadn't said anything about it, but knew that it was something that would be brought up later.
Lilith gave them this moment of peace.
Ava had held her hand for the rest of the drive, it was only when they had parked up outside a small cafe did Ava let go.
Which led them to now, all sat together in the corner of the cafe. Ava, dressed in a new hoodie, tucked between Beatrice and Camila. From where she sat, Beatrice had a good view of the entrance and the windows.
Mary put a menu down between Beatrice and Ava.
"You're both ordering something." She said. "So have a look and decide."
Ava sighed. "We have bigger things than breakfast to think about right now, don't you think?"
"Yeah, but I think that you both still need to eat so we're going to order food and then we're going to figure this out."
Ava scowled and dropped her head to look at the menu.
"...Do you wanna split an omelette or something?" Ava asked.
"Yes, sure." Beatrice replied. "Would you… Consider easing away from coffee?"
When Ava dropped her head a little bit more, it bumped against Beatrice's shoulder.
"Yeah… You're really that worried about my heart, huh?"
"You know I am."
Ava hummed quietly, took hold of Beatrice's hand once more and gave it a gentle squeeze.
They were given a small respite as they each placed their orders, Beatrice opted to glance through the window instead of acknowledging the fleeting looks from the rest of the group.
"Where do we even begin?" Camila asked.
Lilith levelled Beatrice and Ava with a long look. "I think there's a lot that needs to be discussed."
Ava's grip on Beatrice's hand tightened.
"I think our priority right now is the several different groups of people trying to find us." Beatrice said. "And more specifically, Jillian's actions."
She was making little effort to hide her feelings about these new developments.
Could they still consider Jillian to be an ally if she willingly sent people out to find them? It didn't exactly fill Beatrice with much faith.
Or any, in all honesty.
Camila glanced up from her phone and sighed. "We'll get to that."
"How about we just think about this for a minute, wait for our drinks to arrive and then we can start falling down the rabbit hole?" Mary suggested.
"I'm sure we can at least agree on that." Lilith nodded.
Beatrice felt Ava's shoulder bump gently against hers.
"You aren't in pain, right?" Ava asked softly.
"No." Beatrice replied. "I mean, yes, but no more than usual. It's manageable."
When would it be the right time to bring up Ava's healing? It didn't feel like it was her choice to even do so.
Ava turned Beatrice's hand over and brushed her thumb along her palm before bringing it over to rest on Ava's thigh.
Beatrice held her breath.
As Camila began to look through her phone and Lilith and Mary talked quietly about exit points in the building, Beatrice glanced down to watch Ava adjust their hands.
Ava's thigh was warm and soft beneath her hand, Ava hand was a steady weight keeping her in place.
"Is this okay?" Ava asked quietly.
"Yes." Beatrice replied.
It was still so new and unfamiliar between them, and yet it just felt so… right.
And to be honest, Beatrice really needed these touches.
She just wanted Ava to be closer to her.
"So, good news, maybe?" Camila began, waiting until at least Ava was looking at her before continuing. "I've been going through the security footage of the town we said we were heading to and there's been nothing suspicious there."
"So what, based on that we're saying Adriel isn't in my head all of the time?" Ava asked. "Cause I don't really buy it…"
"It's something though." Mary said.
"It depends on if he knew that the Swiss Guard were going to find us, why waste sending men out there when they were going to catch us at the motel." Lilith shrugged.
Mary stared at her. "Seriously?"
"I want to be wrong, obviously." Lilith replied. "But we have to look at this at all angles."
Ava sighed and slumped back into her seat, Beatrice watched her for a moment before squeezing her thigh gently.
(That in itself was a foreign experience, as was the way that Ava's attention was instantly on her.)
"For whatever my word is worth… I think it's at least somewhat reassuring that Camila's trap didn't pan out." Beatrice said softly. "It doesn't mean that we're entirely out of the woods, but it could suggest he can't see through you all of the time."
Ava used her free hand to run it through her hair, going so far as to pull her hood up too.
"It is better than nothing, but I'm still dubious." Ava agreed after a few moments.
It was the best that they could do. Beatrice couldn't blame Ava for her apprehension either, why would she want to get her hopes up only to have them crushed again?
"I don't know how we're going to get answers, but we do need to hide you from him." Beatrice continued.
Mary lifted her hand slightly to silence them all as their drinks were brought over to their table, the highlight was seeing the small smile on Ava's face when she was given a side helping of marshmallows to add to her hot chocolate if she wanted.
"You're saying we need the vest." Mary said.
It was starting to feel like the only feasible option.
There were still a lot of problems to take into account, but if it meant keeping Ava safe and easing some of her fears then… It was worth it, wasn't it?
Yes. For Ava, it was always worth it.
But they still had to be careful.
Beatrice reached for a single sugar cube and dropped it into her cup. "It seems like it's our best chance to keep Ava safe."
"But trying to find it in the Cradle seems really risky." Ava said. "Look at what happened the last time we were there, and that was before we had Adriel to worry about."
It was endearing how she dumped almost all of the marshmallows into her drink.
Even more endearing was how Ava offered Beatrice a marshmallow too.
"I can teleport in and out." Lilith said. "It'll take ten minutes."
"Not alone you aren't." Mary replied. "We don't know what's in there. And before you say anything else, we're not letting you go without us being nearby."
Lilith frowned. "That defeats the purpose of having teleporting as an ability."
"Yeah, but if you get ambushed or separated from whoever goes with you, then we need to be nearby to give backup." Mary argued.
"You know she's right, Lilith." Camila said. "It's not a solo rescue mission, we have room to think now."
It was impressive to watch Lilith's expression shift from bordering on argumentative to something more accepting and resigned at Camila's words.
"Fine." Lilith said.
"That's our possible next step then." Mary nodded. "What's next?"
"Jillian." Beatrice said.
"Beatrice." Lilith said at the same time.
Ava's attention quickly snapped to Lilith, her grip on Beatrice's hand tightened.
"What about Beatrice?" Ava asked.
The sharpness in her tone had everybody looking at her, surprised.
For Beatrice, it made her chest feel warm, it was a strangely protective gesture to see Ava display.
"When I say Beatrice, I don't just mean her ." Lilith hurried to explain. "I should have elaborated, I meant the explosion and what happened to Beatrice."
"Actually while we're on the topic of the explosion…" Mary began.
Lilith cut her off, and nodded towards Beatrice. "You got hurt in the motel."
Her tone wasn't sharp, per say, but there was an edge of impatience to her voice.
Lilith had definitely seen Beatrice's hands, and she had held back on getting her answers up until now.
"I did." Beatrice nodded.
"I saw the damage to your palms."
Mary and Camila were looking at her now, Beatrice kept her gaze focused on Lilith even as she could feel Ava tensing up.
Lilith raised an eyebrow at her. "Don't you think now is a good time to show them what I saw during the drive here?"
Beatrice took a sip of her tea and lowered it back to the table with a sigh, gently removing her hand from under Ava's.
She turned her hands over and lay them palm side up on the table.
Mary raised an eyebrow, while Camila leaned forward slightly to get a closer look.
"After the explosion, those hands were raw." Lilith said.
"I healed her." Ava interjected. "I… I have no idea how and I'm still trying to understand it, but I healed her before Camila came over with the phone."
Beatrice had every reason to believe that if they weren't in a public setting, Camila and Mary's reactions would be very different.
Okay, mostly Camila's, if the way she covered her mouth with her hand to muffle her gasp was anything to go by. In comparison, Mary was much more subdued.
When Lilith reached over as if to take hold of one of Beatrice's hands, Beatrice immediately drew them back in favour of curling them around her cup.
"Lilith did mention that you'd gotten hurt while you and Ava were outside talking, and I was confused when I saw your hands." Camila said. She shifted her gaze to Ava. "Ava! You can heal!"
Ava smiled at her enthusiasm and nodded. "Yeah. I'm still not sure how. I just… I was crying and I felt so guilty for hurting her and I just wanted to take the pain away."
"Sure looks like you did." Mary said proudly. "Good job, you keep on surprising us."
Ava wiggled slightly in her seat, knee bumping against Beatrice's in the process.
"I just wish I understood how I did it." Ava said, turning her head to look at Beatrice. "You're still injured elsewhere."
"I do kind of want to see it in action." Lilith said.
"Not here." Beatrice replied. "It'll draw too much attention."
Ava sighed but nodded, letting her hands rest back in her lap and dropping her gaze down to her drink.
"So now you can heal and cause damage on par with C4." Mary said.
At the mention of the explosion, Ava seemed to shrink into herself a little more, deflated. Beatrice hesitated for a moment before letting her hand drop down and sneak back over to rest against Ava's.
It seemed to help, if only a little.
"You can't blame Ava for that." Lilith said before Beatrice could speak up. "I'm equally responsible for what happened."
Mary rolled her eyes. "I wasn't blaming anyone. I just wanted to point out that this is a lot of power that you two have, it's amazing that Ava can heal, but we can't ignore the danger that you both pose."
"I can't control it." Ava murmured. "It happened so fast I couldn't keep the energy inside."
"All the more reason we need the vest." Camila said.
"But they also need to learn to control this." Mary sighed.
"To do that, we need a space." Lilith pointed out. "And if the Swiss Guard have gone through the files back at the cradle, that means all of the safe houses are likely to be compromised."
There were too many factors to consider, too many points of concern for each of them. If Beatrice could feel her own head spinning trying to keep track of it all, she could only imagine how the others were feeling.
She just wanted to rest. More than that, Beatrice wanted Ava to be able to feel comfortable enough to sleep again.
"Even if we had a safe house and the vest, would that be enough?" Ava asked.
The vest would make it harder for Adriel to trace Ava, but would it be enough? They wouldn't know if they didn't try.
But she couldn't think of a way to get them a safe house, unless they resorted to the methods the group of people Ava had hung around with after receiving the halo.
Breaking into rich people's holiday homes didn't feel like a great option.
"I actually have an idea." Camila spoke up softly. Her gaze was apprehensive as she glanced at Beatrice.
Beatrice already knew in her gut what was coming.
"Let's hear it." Mary said.
"It's all theory, but to even attempt what I want to do, I'd need Jillian's help."
Ava's hand found Beatrice's and held on tight.
"Jillian isn't going to give us any more help until we go to her." Beatrice said.
Camila's shoulders dropped. "Bea…"
"She tracked your phone to send people to find us. She wants to use Ava to power the portal and -"
"Find her son." Camila said, cutting Beatrice off as gently as she could. "You know I don't agree with what she's done today, but we have to look at it from her perspective."
"It's hard to do that when I know what she wants to do to Ava." Beatrice replied, she could hear her own voice getting firmer, louder. "What happens when she finds out Lilith charges the halo? She'll use her too."
"Beatrice, calm down." Lilith said carefully, glancing around the cafe.
Ava was silent, even though Beatrice could feel her gaze on her. She could only focus on Ava turning her hand, threading their fingers together and holding on as tight as possible without hurting Beatrice.
Camila's eyes were understanding and sympathetic as she looked at Beatrice, but she showed no signs of backing down either.
"Love pushes us over lines we would never normally cross. We can't judge Jillian for the things she's doing, I don't think any of us could say we wouldn't do the exact same thing if we were in her position." Camila stated calmly.
The truth in her words cut through Beatrice.
Because she was right, and Beatrice knew that.
And she hated it.
It didn't take a genius to look at her actions since the night Ava was taken to know there was very little that she wasn't willing to do to find Ava and keep her safe.
Beatrice had essentially told Mary as much that night in the warehouse.
It felt like the walls were closing in on them, everything was pointing them to go to Jillian.
And by extension, potentially putting Ava in even more danger.
Beatrice wanted to throw up.
She could barely focus on the growing silence, the eyes that kept shooting uncertain glances at her, even Ava's hand in hers felt like a ghost of a touch.
"I think we should take five." Mary said. "I'm going for a quick smoke before the food comes. Beatrice, do you want to -"
Beatrice pushed her seat back and pulled her hand from Ava's as she got up her feet.
"I'm going to the bathroom."
Ava looked stricken as the rest of them watched Beatrice walk away. Camila watched her gaze drop to the table as she slowly pulled the sleeves of her hoodie down over her hands.
Camila felt bad.
"Ava… You should probably go check on her." Mary said.
"I will. I'm just giving her a minute to herself first." Ava replied. "I'm gonna have to go through this portal, aren't I?"
"No." Lilith said. "Not if you don't want to."
Ava frowned. "But…"
"There are other options. If Beatrice will hear out everything Camila has to say first, we can actually reach a point to discuss them."
Ava lifted her head to look at Lilith, that frown still firmly in place even as Camila saw some kind of realisation in Ava's eyes.
It happened at the same moment Camila realised what Lilith was saying.
Lilith was the other option.
"Don't, we're not talking about this right now. You need to go talk to Beatrice."
Ava stared at her for a long few moments, before getting up from her seat with a resigned sigh.
Mary got up too. "Yeah, I'm still going to smoke. I'll be back when the food comes."
Lilith leaned back in her seat and took a sip of her drink as Ava and Mary both left the table.
"You were right, you know." Lilith said, addressing Camila. "We would all do exactly what Jillian is doing and Beatrice knows that."
"Thank you." Camila sighed. "I should still apologise, though."
"What for? You didn't insult her, and I don't think it was a directed attack or anything."
Camila grimaced and averted her gaze.
"Not exactly. It certainly wasn't an attack but I was directly talking to Beatrice when I said that."
"I still don't think you need to apologise, but it is your choice." Lilith said.
"Will you really go through the portal in place of Ava?" Camila asked.
Lilith nodded. "I made a promise that I would keep Ava safe, that if it came to this then I would go."
When Camila had brought love into the discussion, she had meant it in terms of the (very clear) romantic love that was growing between Beatrice and Ava. But the platonic love that was felt between them all was just as strong.
There was very little that they wouldn't all do for each other.
She understood Beatrice's fear of Ava going through the portal though.
Camila suspected it felt something like how she was feeling at the idea of Lilith going.
She wished that she knew what to do to help.
In hindsight, the bathroom had not been the best option.
It was far too cramped and the open window was far too small to provide much in the way of fresh air.
But she couldn't go outside with Mary, she didn't want whatever words she had to offer. Not right now.
So now she was sitting on the closed toilet seat, head in her hands as she tried to keep herself composed.
What was she supposed to do? Jillian needed Ava to open the portal, she most likely wanted Ava to go through it too. Beatrice didn't want her to do either of those things.
But… What if she went through instead of Ava? Would she even survive? Probably not, but it would still be more ideal than letting Ava go.
There was also the potential that Ava would want to be the one to go, that she wouldn't want anybody to go in her place.
If that were the case, then Beatrice already knew that she couldn't let Ava go alone.
She'd follow Ava, no matter what.
It was too much to be able to think about.
There was a gentle knock at the door.
"Occupied." Beatrice said bluntly.
"It's me, Bea." Ava replied. "...You're not actually peeing right now, right? Or pooping. You're not pooping are you?"
Beatrice got to her feet and unlocked the door, opening it and pulling Ava into the room by her hoodie before closing the door and locking it again.
"I was doing neither of those things." Beatrice replied. "Although strangely, I do appreciate you asking."
Ava laughed weakly and leaned against the door, watching Beatrice as she took her seat again.
They held each other's gaze, and Beatrice knew that it would only take a few moments for Ava's presence to make her feel better again.
"You okay?" Ava asked.
Ava made a sound of agreement as she pushed the hood off of her head. "Yeah, same. Do you want to talk about it?"
"I don't know how." Beatrice admitted.
"Can I speak freely?" Ava asked after a few moments of thoughtful silence.
Ava pushed off of the wall to cross the small distance, turning on her heel to lean against the wall beside Beatrice. When she moved to slide down it, Beatrice threw her arm out to catch her elbow.
"I wouldn't sit on the floor, Ava, we have no idea how clean it actually is."
"...Okay yeah, good point."
Beatrice pulled her hand away reluctantly and waited for Ava to say her piece.
"With this Jillian situation, is it because you don't trust her? Or because of the portal thing?"
Beatrice sighed. "Both, but… More the second part."
"We can't just leave Michael out there, Bea."
"You don't want me to go through the portal if we can power it up again, do you?"
Beatrice shook her head. "I'm not trying to speak for you and I'm sorry if I have. I know that ultimately it will be your choice and I do respect that but -"
"Bea." Ava interrupted softly. "I know, it's okay. Your feelings on this are important to me, I want to hear your thoughts."
"We don't know what's on the other side, what other dangers are there. What if there are tarasks? What if you can't open it from the other side?"
"What if you get trapped there, Ava?"
Neither of them missed the way that Beatrice's voice cracked. She felt Ava's hand rest on her shoulder.
"I know. I'm scared too." Ava said softly. "But we have each other, and the others will do everything to keep us safe too. And I don't think that Jillian would throw us into this without doing some tests first."
"We can't know that for sure, Ava. What if she's working with Adriel?"
"I don't know." Ava said. "What I do know is that Lilith and Camila have ideas, and we kind of owe it to them to hear them out, don't we?"
Beatrice sighed again and got to her feet, turning away from Ava and wrapping her arms around herself.
"We do. Have I been awful to Camila?"
"I don't think so? Not awful, anyway. We all know that you're not angry at her specifically or anything. It just because she's who's relaying Jillian's words." Ava replied. "We all understand."
Beatrice still made a note to find a moment alone with Camila when she could, at the very least she should still apologise.
She was still thinking about it when she felt Ava press up against her back, arms circling around her stomach and chin coming to rest on Beatrice's shoulder.
Did Ava know just how grounding this type of hug was for her?
Beatrice moved her hands to cover Ava's arms.
"How are you feeling?" Beatrice asked.
"Honestly, most of what you're all saying out there is going right over my head." Ava replied quietly. "All I can think about is healing you. I think about that a lot. I still can't believe I did that."
Beatrice couldn't either. It was just another reason as to why Ava was spectacular.
"It was incredible, Ava." Beatrice said. "You're incredible."
"I… I also keep thinking about your other injuries and that I really want to heal them too. If you'll let me?"
Considering the things Ava had been thinking about which led to her discovering this ability, Beatrice probably shouldn't be surprised, but she still was.
Ava cared about her.
She cared so much that Beatrice and her injuries were on the forefront of Ava's mind.
Beatrice knew that the others cared about her, and had done so for a long time. But not like this.
Not as intensely as this.
"You don't need to do that Ava. Not right now." Beatrice whispered. "It's okay."
"I want to."
It might help Ava relax a bit more.
Beatrice nodded. "Okay."
Ava released her hold on Beatrice so that she could turn and face Ava again.
She watched Ava's gaze focus on the cut across her eyebrow and reached out to still her arm before Ava could really begin to lift it.
"I wouldn't." Beatrice said. "It might raise questions if the waitress or anybody else sees it healed."
"Oh, right. Then where should I…"
While her ribs and leg definitely hurt more and it would be so much more comfortable to move around, the idea of having Ava's hands on those areas was… it was too much.
And it was definitely too much to happen in a tiny bathroom.
There was also the gunshot wound, but Beatrice also had to wonder how much energy Ava's healing used up, would something like that be too draining?
They had a lot to learn about it.
Beatrice tapped her arm where the puncture wounds caused by Lilith rested.
"How about here?" Beatrice suggested. "They're not deep, so it shouldn't be too taxing."
Ava offered her a small smile. "Don't worry about that."
"Still, humour me?"
Ava nodded and gently reached up to curl her hand around the space Beatrice had pointed out to her.
Her gaze grew serious and focused as she stared at the spot, drawing in a deep breath before closing her eyes.
Beatrice watched the halo light up, and she could just about feel the warmth from Ava's touch but the tingling sensation Beatrice had felt last time was strangely absent.
She watched Ava's brow furrow, the halo brightened even more but all she could feel was Ava's frustration growing.
Ava broke contact suddenly, stepping back and letting out a huff. When she opened her eyes and looked at Beatrice, she seemed on the verge of distraught.
"Did it work?" Ava asked, the heaviness in her tone suggested that she already knew the answer.
Beatrice wanted to hug her.
"I'm sorry, Ava."
Ava dropped her head and sighed. "I don't understand… I did everything like before. It even felt the same? Mostly."
Ava gave a weak shrug. "It felt like it wasn't connecting to you."
Beatrice frowned and looked down at her own hands.
They had been touching, skin against skin, when it had worked earlier.
Could it really be so literal?
"Ava… Do you have enough energy to try again?" Beatrice asked. "If that's what you want."
Ava gave a small nod and reached up again, even though she kept her head down.
Beatrice caught her hand again and moved her own free hand to rest on Ava's shoulder and waited until Ava lifted her head before speaking.
"Just hold on a moment though, okay? I have an idea what the problem might be."
Ava frowned, but stayed put as Beatrice took a step closer to the door and unzipped her jacket before removing it and hanging it up on the coat hook.
Beatrice glanced at her arm and grimaced at the streaks of blood, both fresh and dried, against her skin.
She had seen firsthand the damage that Lilith's claws could do, Beatrice supposed she should be thankful that she had gotten away with simple puncture wounds.
"Wait, Bea… Do you really think that'll work?"
"It's worth a try, isn't it?" Beatrice asked, moving to lean back against the wall.
Ava seemed to agree and moved back into Beatrice's space, her hand found the same spot and her fingers pressed into the soft skin of Beatrice's arm.
"Ready?" Ava asked quietly.
This time, when the light of the halo filled the room, Beatrice felt the tingling dance across her arm, the familiar warmth filled her body.
It almost felt like she could feel the skin knitting itself together, but it was over too quickly for Beatrice to catalogue every sensation.
Beatrice found it hard to care when she saw the hopeful look on Ava's face when the light faded.
"Did… Did it work this time?"
Beatrice turned her arm as Ava removed her hand and despite the blood streaked across the skin, they both saw the absence of any puncture wounds.
At most, Beatrice thought she could see faint white scars.
"It did. See? You can still do it, it just seems like you need to have direct contact."
Ava laughed breathlessly, thumb pressing into Beatrice's arm to inspect the marks.
"The halo can bring me back to life, destroy a room and lowkey melt a guy, but when it comes to healing it draws the line at cotton poly blend? Crazy."
Beatrice was just thankful that they had discovered this before they tried to heal her ribs and legs.
This means Ava needs to have her hands on Beatrice's body, doesn't it?
Her ribs, her thigh...
Beatrice could feel her ears burning.
"I think… When it comes to the halo we have to choose the parts we want to try and understand and just accept some of its mysteries."
Ava snorted. "Yeah, true."
Beatrice felt Ava's fingers inch lower until they brushed against the bandage protecting her gunshot wound.
The minutes were counting down until one of the others came looking for them, either to make sure they weren't having a breakdown or to tell them that their food was ready. But Beatrice could see the idea in Ava's eyes, and feel the intent behind those touches.
"Why does it still leave a scar though?" Ava asked softly, almost as if she was talking more to herself than Beatrice. "Is it based on how much energy I try to put into it?"
Beatrice covered Ava's hand with her own.
"There's no rush to figure that out, Ava. A scar is nothing to be concerned about right now." Beatrice said reassuringly.
"Can I still try?" Ava asked. "...Please?"
Oh… Puppy dog eyes.
Beatrice couldn't say no.
"Help me with the bandage?"
Regardless of how gentle Ava's touch was, each bit of pressure sent a jolt of pain through to the bone.
Ava made a sad sound when she saw the wound, even though it was healing well courtesy of Camila's stitches.
"What will happen to the stitches?" Ava asked.
"They'll probably just fall out, like yours did." Beatrice replied.
"Okay…" Ava nodded to herself and covered the area with her hand. "Let's do this."
Beatrice relaxed as much as she could against the wall and watched as Ava grew focused, the halo began to light up and bathed them in light once more.
This time Beatrice was sure she could feel her body knitting itself together, the pain eased as Beatrice felt Ava and the halo repair her arm.
It was a strange experience. Was this how it felt for Ava? Going through traumatic injuries and then watching and feeling her body repair itself, leaving behind no physical scars, only the memory of the pain that she felt.
The light from the halo stuttered for a moment, at the same time Beatrice felt Ava's grip on her arm tighten and heard a sharp inhale.
The light grew brighter and Ava drew a deep, steadying breath.
"I'm fine." Ava replied.
Her voice sounded strained.
She definitely didn't seem okay. How much energy was this taking from the halo?
"You can stop, Ava."
"Not yet. I just need another minute." Ava muttered. "Fuck."
Beatrice flinched slightly when Ava's other hand shot up and hit the wall beside her, Ava's body weight pressed up against her and jarring the aching pain in her ribs.
Ava's breathing grew heavier, laboured and exhausted.
Beatrice grabbed onto Ava's shoulders to keep her steady. "Ava, stop."
Ava's hand dropped from her arm, body going heavy against her.
She was silent for several moments, head tucked beneath Beatrice's as she got her breathing under control.
"Are you okay?" Beatrice asked.
"Fuck, yeah. Yeah I'm good." Ava replied quietly. "Damn that… That really drains the ol' powerbank. Did it work though?"
"It feels like it. Do you need to sit down?"
Ava shook her head. "Can we stay like this?"
Beatrice adjusted her hands until they were wrapped more securely around Ava's body, taking on her weight.
"Whatever you need."
For as stressful and intense everything was, Beatrice always found that when they ended up in each other's arms, things felt a little easier to deal with.
A little easier to face.
Ava groaned quietly. "Kinda wishing I'd ordered a coffee now. I'm exhausted."
Beatrice turned her head enough to rest her cheek against Ava's hair.
Ava needed to sleep, she needed to rest, but Beatrice knew that Ava wasn't going to be all that willing to try.
"Will you try to rest?" Beatrice asked.
"No. Not yet."
There was a light knock at the door.
"Guys, food is out." Mary said.
It took longer for one of them to come and check on them than Beatrice thought it would.
"We'll be out in a moment." Beatrice replied.
At least with Mary, there was no fuss involved.
"Moving seems like so much effort." Ava sighed.
But she did, reluctantly pulling herself from Beatrice's hold and stepping back.
She looked paler than before, worn out beyond her limit, but it wasn't enough to stop Ava from smiling at Beatrice.
"How does the arm feel?" Ava asked.
Beatrice glanced down and gave her arm some experimental movements. She had gotten so accustomed to the pain that always followed that now it actually felt strange to have such freedom.
A scar still remained, something that seemed to dishearten Ava slightly, but Beatrice would never complain about that.
"It feels good." Beatrice said. "Thank you, Ava, I'm just sorry that it's left you feeling this exhausted."
"It's worth it. You're worth it."
"Are you ready to head back out there? Try to eat?"
Ava nodded. "Yeah, but can you promise me one thing?"
If she could, she would promise Ava the world.
"Just… Hear out what Camila has to say? I know your feelings on the Jillian situation but we gotta look at all of the options. Jillian isn't our enemy, as far as we know, so we shouldn't treat her at one."
Even when they all had reason to doubt, Ava's kindness and empathy was unwavering.
Beatrice sighed. "I just don't want to put you in any more danger."
"I know, and you know I feel the same way about you and all of the others, but we just need to try right? And know that we'll do everything we can to keep each other safe." Ava said. "Trust in your team, right?"
Ava really had taken those words to heart.
"Right." Beatrice nodded.
Ava took Beatrice's jacket off of the hook and handed it back to her.
"Ready." Beatrice said as she pulled it back on. She smiled at Ava. "You know, I feel like you missed an opportunity there."
Ava frowned. "How?"
"Jillian the villain, it just sounds so much better."
Ava's laugh was beautiful.
"It rhymes! We'll save it for if she does turn out to want us dead."
It felt good that they could still make jokes about their situation.
(It felt better to make Ava laugh)
The omelette was really good. Ava was really glad that the others had encouraged her to keep trying.
It was also comforting to see Beatrice eating too.
There was an unmistakable warmth in her chest, one that was always present when she looked at Beatrice but now only felt stronger. Brighter.
Sometimes, Ava felt as though she had very little to offer. She wasn't a skilled fighter, or great with technology and while Ava knew she had displayed some okay skills at strategising but those skills were nothing compared to what the others could do.
Ava didn't bring all that much to the table in those regards. She knew that her identity wasn't defined by the halo, that there was so much more to her than just that hunk of metal in her back.
But knowing that she could heal? Seeing the proof for herself on Beatrice's skin?
There was so much more potential here. Ava could do so much more to help.
She felt useful.
"I became skilled at so many things just so I would still have value."
Ava paused with her fork partway to her mouth and looked to the girl beside her.
This was just a taste of the feelings Beatrice must have felt for her entire life.
"You always seem to be right when it comes to me, Ava."
Those had been Beatrice's words to her last night.
It was true. They understood each other.
Beatrice noticed Ava watching her and gave her a questioning look, a silent 'are you okay?' clear in her eyes.
Ava nodded and smiled back.
They were far from okay, but they were both doing slightly better since their time alone in the bathroom.
Beatrice had listened without protest as Camila had explained her plan despite the apprehension evident in her expression.
The whole thing had mostly gone over Ava's head.
But Ava could blame that on just how tired she felt now. It had hit her like a truck whilst healing Beatrice.
It was going to be hard to stay awake for much longer.
"Okay… Talk us through it one more time." Mary frowned. "You want to build a what?"
"A Faraday cage." Camila said. She made a face and shrugged. "Or something like one, anyway."
Ava was glad that Mary and Lilith seemed to at least be sharing in some of her own confusion.
"Is it like… A literal cage?" Ava asked. "Cause I think I'd rather take my chances with the vest."
"Sort of?" Camila replied. "An actual Faraday cage is used to block electromagnetic fields to protect whatever stuff is inside. If there's a way to use divinium or even the vest to create something similar, then maybe there's a way to create a perimeter for Ava to move around freely whilst also hiding her from Adriel."
"Giving Ava and Lilith a space to train freely without risking the vest from affecting their abilities." Beatrice finished.
Camila nodded enthusiastically. "Exactly"
"Do you think it's possible?" Beatrice asked.
"No idea." Camila replied honestly. "But that's why I need Jillian's help. She'll have the resources and knowledge to help make it possible."
Beatrice set down her cutlery and pushed the plate they were sharing closer to Ava, silent for a few moments as she thought.
Eventually, she turned to Ava.
"What do you think?"
Ava tried not to let herself feel optimistic, but if this was something that Camila could pull off, it could buy them so much more time to regroup together safely.
But it was more than that.
"I think that me and Lilith really need to have a chance to get to grips with all of this." Ava said softly. "We need to, Bea, I can't risk what happened today happening again."
They couldn't risk hurting the people she loved.
She couldn't hurt Beatrice again.
Ava couldn't ask Beatrice to trust Jillian, regardless of the empathy that they all felt for her situation, they had all been through too much for there to not be some apprehension.
All Ava was asking was for Beatrice to trust in her and their friends.
Beatrice studied Ava for a few moments and nodded, turning back to Camila.
"Do you have any ideas on how to approach Jillian with this?" Beatrice asked.
Camila pushed her own empty plate aside and shook her head.
"There's no way Jillian will help us unless we show up, and we can't just walk into ArqTech right now because of the risk of Adriel knowing we're there and sending an attack."
"So… Before we can think about doing that, we get the vest?" Ava asked.
"It certainly sounds like it." Lilith agreed. "I'm on board with this plan, but like all of you, I have my reservations about Jillian. Anything to do with the portal can wait until we meet with her, but before that we need to make sure that she isn't allied with Adriel in some way."
"I think if we just go to her, that will appease Jillian for a little bit." Camila said. "Right now she feels like we're actively avoiding her and keeping Ava away."
Which they were, but none of them voiced that fact.
Ava watched Beatrice's jaw tense, but said nothing.
"Do you think she would do that?" Mary asked. "Work with Adriel, even after she helped us find Ava?"
"It's like Camila said earlier." Beatrice said. "Love pushes us over lines we would never normally cross."
There was something about the way Beatrice said the word love that made Ava's heart race.
"And Adriel is like… A master manipulator." Ava added. "Just look at what happened between me and him in the tomb."
He'd almost talked her into giving him the halo back, after all.
"So we need to rule out any potential involvement before we even consider going forward." Mary said, nodding to herself. "Okay. It's a rough plan, but it's something."
Lilith hummed in agreement. "I think we focus on our next step first. Get the vest and then see what our situation is before moving onto Jillian."
"We'll hit the road soon then." Mary decided. "We can figure out who will go in with Lilith on the way because no way are you going in alone."
Lilith didn't bother to argue that point again at least.
Ava wasn't sure how long the drive would be back to Cat's Cradle, but a long drive, almost certainly with Beatrice's warm presence at her side?
…She was going to fall asleep.
Was there any point in fighting it?
Ava didn't want to sleep, she didn't want to come face to face with him again. She didn't want to risk revealing any of their plans to him.
But what if she could flip the script? What if she could get information from him?
Maybe it could help.
Maybe she can get some answers.
And if the others were awake, then they could watch over her, wake her if she starts showing signs of distress.
Ava turned the idea over in her mind as the others finished up their food and got ready to leave.
As they made their way back to the car, Mary leading the group, she felt Beatrice's hand gently touch her arm.
"Are you okay?" Beatrice asked. "You seem quieter."
Ava made her choice.
"I think I'm going to try and sleep, if that's okay with you?" Ava replied.
"Of course it is." Beatrice said softly. "Are you sure?"
"I'm… Scared." Ava admitted. "But if he shows up, I kind of want to see if I can get information from him?"
The relief that had been on Beatrice's face at Ava's intention of sleeping was replaced by concern.
"You don't have to do that, Ava."
"I know. But… I don't know, I want to try." Ava replied. She took a deep breath and held Beatrice's gaze. "Can you keep me safe? Wake me up if it seems like I'm freaking out?"
"You know I will." Beatrice whispered.
Ava would have hugged her, had they not reached the car.
She knew that Beatrice would keep her safe.
The car was filled with the gentle music of the radio as they began their drive to the place that they had once called home.
Lilith had taken shotgun this time, leaving Beatrice, Ava and Camila in the backseat.
It didn't take long for Ava to pull her hood back over her head and begin to shift, trying to make herself more comfortable.
Beatrice only hesitated for a moment before she lifted her right arm in invitation, something that Ava responded to immediately.
Nobody said anything as Ava fit herself against Beatrice's side, head resting against Beatrice's shoulder and tugging on her hood to block out as much of the light as possible.
Beatrice lowered her arm and let it curl around Ava's body, hoping that if she did manage to fall asleep, Ava would still be aware of the weight it provided and know that Beatrice was there.
It meant so much more when she felt Ava's hand press against her arm, keeping it in place.
"I'm going to be right here with you the whole time, Ava." Beatrice said quietly. "We all are."
Ava's fingers flexed around her arm in acknowledgement.
Beatrice watched Camila throw a soft smile their way while Lilith glanced over her shoulder, looking almost relieved to see Ava at least attempting to rest.
None of them knew what awaited them back at Cat's Cradle or what would happen afterwards if they were successful in their goal of retrieving the Osmium vest.
For now, Beatrice could only think of the girl resting against her, the trust that Ava felt in Beatrice to allow herself to be vulnerable like this.
It made Beatrice feel vulnerable too, even with the knowledge that the others must have a very good idea about how she felt about Ava.
But they accepted her, and that meant everything to Beatrice.
She rested her cheek against the soft material of Ava's hood.
Love really did make people do things they never thought they would.
And as she felt Ava's breathing even out and her body slacken against her, Beatrice found that in this case, she was really glad of that.