Chapter Ten- Panic

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Aria groaned and opened her eyes. She looked at me as I sat on the couch, trying to play it cool. Archer walked out of the kitchen and sat next to Aria.

“You feeling better?” he asked and she nodded.

A sudden thunder made me jump and Aria raised her eyebrow at me. “Are you alright?”

I nodded reluctantly and swallowed harshly. I don't know whether I should tell her about my anxiety or not. Sure, we were good friends, but I didn't think we were close enough for them to know everything.

The lights in the living room were off and whenever the loud thunder made a boom, a few seconds later a bolt of lightening would be visible through the thin curtains. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

I was so focused on trying to calm myself down, that I didn't even notice Aria and Archer talking about the storm. I felt the sweat forming on my forehead and I shakily wiped it off. I once again jumped when the sound of another rumble of thunder made its way to my ears, following with another lightening flash and yet another thunder crack.

I clasped my arms around my knees and closed my eyes rather harshly. No, this can't happen. Not now. I started shaking. Flashes of the fire appeared in front of my eyes. How I struggled to run around and find something valuable in order to save lives.

I remembered the wooden pillar falling on her and her scream continuously rung in my ears. I wanted to scream, run away; I was guilty of murder and there was no denying it.

I could feel the tears streaming down my face as the rain poured down loudly, filling me up with even more anxiety. I looked up my arm and saw that Aria was asleep again and Archer was once again gone. My best guess was that he left to raid the kitchen, but I was wrong. He soon appeared with a blanket and threw it over Aria's sleeping figure.

I slapped my hand over my mouth to prevent me from screaming when I saw another lightening bolt. I breathed heavily and my heart started pounding heavily in my chest. My gaze became blurry and I blinked, letting the tears flow freely.

“Are you okay?” I felt a sudden hand on my shoulder. I looked up at Archer, still breathing unevenly. “Tris!”

I nodded, saying yes, but when I saw another flash of lightning, I shook my head saying no. I wasn't okay and I couldn't hide it. It was impossible to hide it when all I wanted to do was pull my own eyeballs out of my own eye sockets.

All the flashes once again reappeared in my head and I muffled a scream before jumping off the couch. I couldn't take it in. I had to let it all out somehow. All the guilt I buried deep inside my heart was starting to once again eat me alive and I couldn't handle it. I thought all the years of therapy could finally take away all the pain, but I was proven wrong. They constantly told me I didn't kill them, but they were relying on me, their big sister, to save their lives and I failed. I failed to save them.

I held onto my upper arm and I didn't even realize that I dug my nails so far in my skin, that it was starting to bleed. I again felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked at Archer who was giving me a worried look.

“Tris,” he said and did something I never expected him to do. He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me tightly. I was shaking and sobbing and I didn't try to pull away from him or even push him away. Instead, I hugged him back and held onto him as if I was holding onto my life. He rubbed my back and didn't let go. He just comforted me. He suddenly picked me up bridal style, and yet I didn't say anything. I just held onto him as if my life depended on it.

He brought me back to the living room and sat on the couch with me on his lap. I didn't let go. The fear of thunder and lightening, the guilt, all the pain, it left me numb. All I wanted to do was hurt myself in ways no one could ever imagine.

“It's going to be fine, just hold on. Just for a while.” he stroked my hair. “It's going to be over soon...”

I don't know what it was. Perhaps it was the softness of his voice or the care in his touch, but it helped. I hugged him tighter. I didn't understand. How could he do this by just uttering a few words that he maybe didn't even mean?

Archer hated me. Why was he even comforting me like this?

The soothing strokes he gave my hair finally calmed me down and after God knows how long, I finally managed to cry myself to sleep.

The soothing strokes he gave my hair finally calmed me down and after God knows how long, I finally managed to cry myself to sleep

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I groaned as I felt a hand on my forehead. I slowly opened my eyes just to see Dad smiling at me.

“You okay?”

I slowly sat up and looked around, realizing that I was at home. “Yeah, I'm fine... But.. How did I end up here?”

“Asher brought you here.” Jake said, startling me.

I hadn't even noticed him. “Asher? But Asher was at the hospital. What the fuck happened last night? Was I drunk?” I groaned at the piercing headache.

“No,” Dad said and looked at Jake before looking at me. “You had a panic attack.”

My eyes grew wide. “Again? No... What did I do? What did I do, Dad?” I asked eagerly, holding onto his shirt.

Dad smiled at me. “Don't worry. All you did was dig your nails into your skin.”

I breathed out in relief. “At least I didn't throw a knife at someone.”

Jake chuckled humorlessly. “Yeah, you almost killed me that day.”

“Shut up,” I hissed.

“But,” I frowned. “How?”

“One word, Archer.”

---

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