Approx. Nov 2
She woke from sleep slowly, uncertain what had roused her. The world was silent except for the soft sound of Jared’s breathing above her head. It was amazing, she thought, how very loud and intense silence could be. Before Destruction Day, she would bet that most people had no idea of how truly dark and silent the night was — the constant subtle hum of electricity or traffic and some amount of light pollution, even when you were out of the city. Now, though, the silence could be deafening.
Moving carefully, Natalie tugged the blanket down slightly to uncover her ears so as to be able to better hear what might be going on, but still nothing drew her focus. So she shifted just enough in her companion’s embrace to settle once more comfortably in the curve of his warmth and let her breath out in a contented sigh.
Awake now, though, she let her mind wander. Jared’s arrival had brought a great many things to the forefront of the community’s collective thoughts, not the least of which was the idea that although we were currently cut off from it, there might actually be something resembling a government out there. And how would that affect us? We’d spent the past two years building our own small fiefdoms with their own rules and governing bodies… would people just begin to fall in line if Army tanks started showing up?
Well… yes, Natalie thought. Of course they would. Might goes a long way in this world. The people who could enforce the rules of law they wanted to impose would invariably be the winners. And it was the thing that kept making Natalie practically break out in hives, even now that the communications gear was destroyed, when she considered that at some point, the ‘government’ — or at least Jared’s General and his version of it — might show up here. With her own powers active and a couple of other people able to use theirs… what would happen to her?
And selfishly she couldn’t help but wonder who would actually stand up for her. She knew she could count on Ang and the others. Knew she could count on a few people in Refuge Point like Wolf and Charlie and Santae… but that didn’t mean much if they came in force. And while she trusted Jared with her life, she wasn’t entirely sure that his General might not convince him somewhere along the way that it was in everyone’s “best interests” to have any Powers they located under the command of the “government” once more.
It wasn’t in her to not trust this man who had spent a number of years protecting her. Natalie couldn’t worry about what would happen someday when the government showed up. She could only worry about the here and now. And here and now, she wanted what she’d so envied Ryan and Melody — the closeness of another person who both could see you for who and what you were and loved you for exactly those things, good, bad, and ugly. She wanted … him. She was letting him see her… in bits and pieces. And he wasn’t turning away, even from the dark parts. She kept expecting him to, any minute. And it kept not happening. She wasn’t sure what to do with that — hell, she was pretty sure he was right. We, all of us, needed a shrink and some time on a therapist’s couch for PTSD and survivor’s guilt and anxiety and probably a whole host of other things.
Stroking her hand gently down his arm where it curved around her, Natalie smiled in the darkness. It had been a while since she’d woken this way — usually when she couldn’t sleep, she’d run. Tonight, she was merely content to lay here in the warmth of the cocoon they’d made under her blanket and contemplate the possibilities of the future.
And even as her mind wandered again, her power flared subtly. She could feel it reaching for… something. What the hell was she trying to heal?
Now that she knew what had awakened her, Natalie paid attention to that ephemeral pull on her senses. Did someone need help? No… it wasn’t strong enough for that, she didn’t think. Unless it was Jared. Was he hurt somehow and she was only just catching on because of the way they lay here? Struggling to follow that gentle tug, it didn’t seem to be that either.
It took her nearly ten minutes to work her way through the possibilities, and when the realization hit, she went stiff with shock. No fucking way. That’s…. No.
But she could feel… something. And it was something deep inside her own body. She could feel a difference. A kind of heaviness that wasn’t there before. And she realized that what had woken her was the nascent feeling of not being ‘alone’ in her own body. The implantation of a set of cells fully distinct from her own, one that her healing factor was apparently categorizing and identifying as ‘separate.’ She almost felt as if her healing ability was wrapping itself like a bubble around the microscopic form.
For a long time, she lay there marveling at the power and how it was reacting. It wasn’t until some unmeasured amount of time later that fear hit her. Holy shit. I’m… What the FUCK do I do now? She couldn’t tell anyone. Hell… if what she was sensing was right, she was literally barely past the implantation stage. Who knew what would happen? No one told people until the end of the first 3 months, right? Jesus…. That seemed a long time to wait. But … it wasn’t like they could test, scan, check on her, anything at all. Like every woman who ever lived before the age of electronics and DNA testing, she would simply… have to wait it out. See if it took.
But there was a level of awe as she slipped her hand down her side to rest just inside her hipbone, right over the spot she knew held the cells that might become her child. Maaaan… go big or go home, I guess, she thought on a stifled burst of amazed chuckles.
Jared’s arm tightened around her in response to the brief shaking of her body. His sleepy sound might have been a query, but when she simply nuzzled him, he relaxed immediately and his breathing resumed the cadence of deep sleep. She’d promised him she had no more secrets. But she supposed this one more secret could be forgiven … for a short while.