This is a short passage that takes place in The Book. You’ve probably seen posts about it. This is all my original work. Please do not copy or redistribute without (easily-attainable) permission. This is from Hazel’s point of view, pre-relationship, post-world-end.
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She could almost see it, like fireworks behind closed eyelids, sitting cross-legged there in the training room across from the man himself. The cement floor was warm from the heat that radiated from his body, still gleaming with sweat; broad shoulders lifting and lowering with the sweet cool air. She’d peeked a few times to his chagrin, and had since lulled herself obediently into some semblance of meditation. And she could almost see it.
She could almost feel it again; the fire that leapt between them in the air, grasping tendrils reaching through atmospheric particles towards her as she skittered, breath heaving through aching lungs.
On Earth, they would have probably called it PTSD, the icy fingers that stroked her blood vessels as her legs churned calories–and suddenly she was fleeing her nightmares. The first few times, she screamed and ran painfully into the cargo crates built into an obstacle course through the long-former storage room, she woke up in cold sweats in the night. She whimpered and suffocated over and over, overwhelmed by fizzing spectres in the corners of her small cabin, particle hands reaching toward her and ghastly mouths open in fierce hunger.
Merrikh? He didn’t call it anything save daily routine, as if that could ease the hissing in the night and the phantom muscle cramps. As if it could give a name to the tears and the vomit. To the screaming.
Hazel only had a few choice words. Particularly synonyms of “hell,” and especially of “torture.”
On Earth, they’d call him a psychopath.
But she could just almost see it.
Between the punches and the kicks, the fireballs that whizzed over her head; through all the cuts and bruising, the burns, she fancied she could nearly see behind those red, reptilian eyes. Somewhere far away, in a place that only exists in memory.
Every punch he threw and she’d bring up her arms to parry the blow, she could see his red hair flaring as he ran the fastest he could. Every cocky smirk hinted to a fearful, open-mouthed gasps and dark, knitted eyebrows. Every time she felt the air warm in that way that reminded her to pull up her defenses as quickly as possible, she could see him raging walls of fire at those dark shadows.
And every time his fist touched her ribcage and threw the breath from her, forcing her to roll away in gasping pain in whatever defense she could muster, she could almost see the ice-cold fear in his tanned face.
Certainly, she held the training sessions against him. After all, she’d only recently recovered from her memorable departure from Earth. But she felt she could understand. Though it would never eclipse the first-mate’s face, she had the premonition that her screams lighted some primal fear in him. She could take the grim satisfaction that he slept more poorly than anyone on the ship.
The battles she was forced into training for, he’d already experienced. The planet he’d left behind; the family, the friends, the knowns and unknowns; the loneliness… she could almost see that he’d known them all more intimately than she could lay her fingers on.
She opened her eyes and found him staring at her. She flinched, and the expected warmth bloomed across the air, fire rippling in the space between them. She instinctively through up her own semi-fluid wall, air particles shivering together in the space just beyond the reach of her bent knees. She breathed against the terror, forcing it down, closing her eyes against the sudden swarm of familiar nausea.
“Is it better?” his voice was warm honeysuckle.
She frowned, eyes slipping open into a glare. His angular face lifted in laughter, shoulders drawing his body back into the wall that said Try me in a cocky youthfulness.
“Is it ever?” She hissed, eyebrows not lifting from their fierce scowl.
His eyes slowed their dancing, his lips pressing together into a thin line, face aging well-past comfortable limits. “No,” he said, with all the sage wisdom of the cosmos. Past, present, and future summed into a single, hideous word.
And within that word, there was that glimpse again. The green body-suits, thick oval-shaped helmets. There was those hefty guns with their purple pulsing light.
But this wasn’t her memory. It wasn’t the eerie, empty Manhattan streets she’d glimpsed in a blurred world as her feet pounded on the sidewalk. It wasn’t raindrops and one-night-stands.
This was an open field. This was a different horizon.
This was a corkscrew rocket trail into a dusty, red horizon. This was too-early-goodbyes. This was terror in the night, screams and coughing and empty pleas thrown to deaf ears. This was unheard prayers.
This was the truth behind the red eyes and flickering hair.
Just within two arm-lengths of a grasp, she could almost feel it.
It was fear.