BOOK 2 // THIRTEEN: Eyes Open

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            I didn't plan for Jace and I to fall asleep holding hands, but it happened anyway.

At the time, it seemed like a natural movement – when Nova decided it was getting late, and people started crawling into sleeping bags to settle down for the night. We'd slipped into our own, laid neatly side-by-side. And after the first few moments of lying still in the dark, our hands found each other.

Jace drifted off more quickly than me. After about ten minutes, his breathing started to slow, and I felt the tension in his arm weaken. His grip slackened a little as he slipped deeper into sleep, but our fingers stayed intertwined in the dark.

For me, sleep didn't come so easily.

It was hard to shut out the noise overhead, despite knowing that each crack of thunder and flash of lightning was unlikely to harm us in here. The unknown was more frightening. I couldn't see the extent of the damage outside, how many inches the water level had risen. There was no telling what we'd face when the doors opened – and that alone was enough to keep me awake, wondering.

Still, being together helped. Nova's plan to bring everybody into one place was a good one; the night had a much weaker grip when I was surrounded by the warmth and steady breathing of so many others.

And I wasn't alone in my waking hours. It hadn't escaped my notice that Nova made no attempt to secure a sleeping bag of her own, instead lingering at the edge of the room, watching everybody else as they settled down. From what I could tell, she was still there now.

Perhaps it would've been an opportunity to talk, had everyone else not been asleep in the same room. There wasn't anything I could do. So I ended up just lying there, thinking about Nova sat quietly just a few feet away, wondering whether I'd crossed her mind too.

Then, I heard footsteps – and I realised that where I'd been thinking of conversation, someone had beaten me to it.

"Hey."

A voice edged tentatively through the darkness, one I recognised as belonging to Art. He kept it quiet, but unlike most of the room, I was close – and awake – enough to hear every word.

"Are you not going to at least try and get some sleep tonight?"

I opened one eye, and the pair came into view. Nova was perched on the edge of a plastic chair, staring deep into space, while Art stood beside her. "It's fine," she said, with a dismissive wave. "I don't need to sleep. I can handle it for one night."

"Is it going to be just one night, though? You know you've got a tendency to turn it into more than that."

"Art," she said, "I'm fine. Honestly."

"Hey, you were worrying about me earlier." There was some movement, the sound of a chair being dragged across the wooden floor, and Art sat down beside her. "Now it's my turn to worry about you."

For a few seconds, she didn't say anything, despite his expectancy hanging in the air. Then, I saw him reach over, placing his hand on her knee. She looked up, their eyes connecting for a second, but didn't attempt to move it.

"You did a good job today," he told her. "Really."

"I did what was necessary," she said. "I made the decision, and it turned out to be the correct one. That doesn't mean the same thing will happen next time."

"You've not been wrong so far."

"And that still doesn't guarantee anything for the future." It came out quickly, perhaps a little sharp, and she seemed to regret it as soon as the words had left her mouth. "Sorry. I didn't mean it like that. You were a big help today, and... I don't know what I would've done without you."

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