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Can't You Hear My Cries?

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Quinn had taken them to an ex-dodger house, far west into the Cession. It was only farmland encircling the house, the nearest neighbour far over the hill. The group had settled in fast, worn from the tedious journey, all exclaiming how cute the little house was, how homely it felt. All except Scylla. It was so similar. All Dodger houses were. They all had the same stale smell, hinting at expired food items and once loved objects, forgotten in haste. She shifted on her feet, unable to stay still as they debated future plans. Her eyes darted, and against her better judgement, drew similarities in this house to stories of her past. She remained silent during most the conversation, struggling to control her thoughts.

Eventually, they split off. Abigail taking the far room with Adil, Tally guiding Khalida (they had bonded over the journey) to the one next door, and Quinn offering to bunk with Nicte in the shed. It's a bit rustic, but it has a lotta space. To which Raelle had replied, as if she could sense Scylla's emotional upheaval or perhaps it was just her ingrained Cession hospitality; stay in the house, we'll take it.

She was glad.

Buildings brought up memories.

Hushed conversations. Rushed emergency plans. Perpetual worry.

She wanted out of this house.

"You okay?" Scylla felt Raelle's hand brush the back of her own. "You seem quiet." Scylla smiled tightly.

"I'm fine." The two of them strolled towards the barn. It was nice outside. Fresh air did feel good after the confines of the bus. Raelle chivalrously held the door open for her, gesturing for Scylla to enter. "It's small.” She commented, once inside.

"Yeah, Quinn wasn't joking about it being rustic."

Normally Scylla would have cracked a smile. She could feel it, inside her. It wanted to laugh, wanted to take this opportunity, this privacy to rediscover the two of them. But there was this blockage, an undecipherable emotion sticking in her throat. Images normally suppressed, reappearing in her head, having persistently replayed ever since they’d reached the house.

Raelle, oblivious to the whole situation had unceremoniously thrown her stuff on the ground, dropping herself onto the mattress with a relieved sigh.

"I know we've been sitting all day, but this feels good."

Scylla just stood there, taking in the barn. The rugged wooden planks, the clearly handmade bookshelf. A single pendant light hanging from a tenuous wire, warmly lighting up the room. It was just…so similar.

Raelle must have noticed something was off because she sat upright, moving to the edge of the bed. Her eyes were searching Scylla's face, a concerned expression painting her own.

"Hey. Scyl, talk to me." Cool fingers tilted Scylla's face towards Raelle. "It’s just us here."

Goddess that made Scylla feel worse. She should be jumping Raelle's bones not reminiscing on things long past.

"I'm sorry." She closed her eyes for a second, willing her face into a smile.

"You don't have to apologise with me." That was a lie. As if Scylla, after all she'd done didn't have anything to be sorry for. Especially when Raelle was a true war hero. She had always been the best of them, the very depiction of life, the fixer. Scylla...she was death itself

Her heart was beating erratically, and she found she couldn't look at Raelle. It was too much. The house, the barn, the ties to her past.

"I just...I just need to sit." Raelle moved quickly, allowing space on the bed.

Scylla stared off at the wall. Trying to gather herself.

"How are you?”

"Scylla..." Raelle didn't buy it. Of course she didn't. "Talk to me. Tell me what's going on.”

Hesitantly she met Raelle's eyes, and the concern waiting there nearly broke her. It had been so long since anyone had cared like that. Since-. She pressed her lips together, struggling desperately to maintain some semblance of control.

"It's just memories. That's all." She looked down at her hands, taking in deep, calming breaths.

"About your parents?" Raelle asked gently. It grated on her, the tenderness, rubbing her raw, provoking the pain. She was so tense, coiled so tightly. Brittle. The love…Raelle’s love, it was going to shatter her.

She needed to say something, the ease the pressure slightly. To make it bearable again.

"It's not, I'm's just this dull ache. This pain that I guess never goes away. No matter how hard you try." She said it matter-of-factly. Sticking to facts had always made it easier. It was what it was. It was how she had survived those years. How she had moved past it, ignored the pain.

"Yeah, I know." Raelle said. And of course she did. Raelle, who had lost her mother, half the army, her sisters, that she had sworn to fight alongside. Penelope.

"I'm sorry about what happened." Raelle searched her eyes, confused.

"It’s not your fault, Scyl."

She had nothing to say. Raelle wouldn’t understand that it was. That it was all her fault. Words couldn’t express that monumental guilt festering under her skin. Not the way she wanted them to. Would it ever leave? Would the rage ever cool? Would the pain ever dissipate? Her chest hurt. That dull ache morphing into a sharp pang. All of a sudden she craved comfort. She longed to get this…thing…this feeling out of her. She wanted it gone. It was uncontrollable, undeniable, unrelenting. It threatened to burst.

"Why does it hurt so much?" Her voice cracked and it was like that tension inside of her snapped. Her body started to tremble. That coil inside her rapidly unwinding, unravelling.

"Scyl? Scylla.” Her words seemed far away. “Hey, I’ve got you, it’s okay.”

It was a deluge she couldn’t contain.

She needed it out.

"I was so afraid...that they'd die without being avenged...that I- wouldn't- couldn’t- But-bu-. I can't even remember their voices." She knew she made no sense, knew these were just broken fragments, so emotionally charged, her voice couldn’t express them. "I never thought I'd forget…their faces...I- , they, oh God, what do they look like?" She looked helplessly at Raelle. "I can't...she-she used to say something. Raelle. I can't remember what she said." Her voice steadily rose.

Arms wrapped around her, pulling her close. A soothing hand ran up and down her back, silent support, giving her permission to let it out, no matter how indecipherable it was.

"The Spree were...they became my family. I thought I was justified...but, all those people...but we- we went to the mall. Their faces. The children. Raelle. You don't-... don't understand. I can't explain." It was too much, too soon. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t express what she so desperately wanted to say. She had gone years, trusting the Spree, trusting their methods, believing they were truly fighting for a better world. What a lie. "It was all a lie." She whispered, hoarsely.

"You were doing what you believed was right." Raelle stroked the hair back from her face.

"How could I have believed that.” She curled into herself. Raelle’s gaze exposing her vulnerability, her guilt. “There were flowers and candles. They all kept getting up…saying- stories of their families. It was- there were...parents of kids. Photos, Raelle, of children no older than Tiffany. It was me. I did that. The pain on their faces. I- I the working...I made people see horrible things. I was trying to stop the army, conscription. Civilians they were just the necessary fallout. But...the Camarilla..." her voice a whisper "...Rae, is this my fault?"


"My parents...they'd know. If they were alive..." Her voice cracked. "What would they think if me now?”

It just kept coming. Everything she had quelled, everything she had shoved down, the rage, the helplessness, the grief, all channelled into such overwhelming despair. It wouldn’t stop. And Raelle. Raelle. Why was she sitting here? After everything she had done. Fresh guilt washed over her.

She was drowning.

"...and the pain I caused you" Breaths came out of her, short and rapid. Uncontrollable. "Your mom...she-she died because of this. Of me-"


"No, she was there. She went in. To save you...instead of me. It should- it should have been me." Words were flowing, pouring out of her from some deep, dark pit inside. "I owed you that much. After everything. You deserved a mom..."

"I'm so, so sorry." Her face thick with tears, she repeated it, again and again, until her throat was raw. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I’m sorry. Raelle pulled her into a tight hug and Scylla buried her face in her shirt. Holding desperately. So tightly to this woman, this lifeline. How did she deserve her?

Raelle said nothing, head resting atop Scylla’s. There was nothing that could be said. Nothing that could truly make this feeling better. Make it go away. Some part of her, didn’t think she wanted it to disappear. She felt…human. After years of numbness, years of replacing grief with a cold rage, it was almost a relief to collapse. To shatter completely. To have all those fractured pieces of herself laid out, for Raelle to see.

It allowed her to hope.

Maybe she could be fixed. Maybe she could be better. Maybe she could let go.