Chapter 11

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The reaper's laughter rings in my head like a haunting mirage

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The reaper's laughter rings in my head like a haunting mirage. A dull pain throbs on my shoulder over the exact spot where he stabbed me. It doesn't feel like it's cut open, but a phantom wound still lingers on. I touch it, hoping to spirit it away.

The skin isn't sensitive like any newly grown skin would be, and my clothes are normal. No stab wound in my hand. No blood on my forehead, although I feel groggy. It's as if it never happened and the dream is just a nightmare.

And maybe it was. Since my abilities weren't working, the reaper could have been lying. Maybe I'm just starting to mentally lose it with all these stories and stress. I'd rather that be the case then accept this all to be true.

The gods are coming for you.

Sam groans, nuzzling his head further into the crook of my neck, tickling my skin with his feathery hair. I can't believe I fell asleep here. I told myself I would leave after I calmed down, but after the second movie, I couldn't keep my eyes open. I think I'm more shocked Marc never woke me up.

When the morning sun breaks through the clouds, its rays hit the glass monitor, showering rainbows and dust floating about. It's blinding. There's a strong scent of watermelon mixing with sizzling bacon and warmed bread. My stomach growls.

Sam shifts around, pulling the blanket closer. His body heat warms me to the bones. It feels nice to cuddle with someone. It's been years since the last time I did. Staying like this for a few more minutes won't hurt. I'll consider it therapeutic.

I close my eyes and let the calm wash over.

A hollow crash flinches me awake. The sound of a stainless steel bowl swirls around the floor in the kitchen until it comes to a complete stop. Someone curses under their breath and steps quickly towards the sink. I imagine them grabbing a towel to clean up the mess.

Another set of footsteps languidly come from the hallway.

"I'm surprised they're still asleep with all the noise you're making," Darious says, his voice sounding even more silvery when speaking in the Ama tongue.

There's a scoff as eggs shells crack, then sizzle in the pan. That's right. Mika said he loves to cook.

"Apparently, Ava is a heavy sleeper. She once slept while the planet shook—it's what Gio told me," Mika says.

"That's the first time you used her name. Don't tell me you're getting attached to her as well."

"I'm not. And I've used her name before."

"To me, you haven't."

A deafening silence falls between them. The only sounds come from the sizzling eggs and their smells of breakfast in the air. They seem close.

There's a sigh before Darious speaks. "The end of the war will be here soon. It could be in six months or a year. We're not sure. But after this is over, we'll be going back home and acting like this never happened. So don't get attached."

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