From Darkness

When did we lose our way?
Consumed by the shadows
Swallowed whole by the darkness
Does this darkness have a name?
Is it your name?

-Disclaimer: This story is a sequel. Summary quote from One Tree Hill.

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4. Chapter Four

I woke when someone grabbed me by the shoulder. I immediately swung my arms to fight them off, but one of them was stuck above my head, and the other only flailed against the back of a seat.

“Hey, easy,” a voice said. “I’m just giving you some water.”

I blinked a few times before the haziness faded. I was in the back of a car, stuck between the front seat and the back seat. My legs were cramped, and my arm had gone numb. A man was lying across the backseat and the other leaning between the ones in the front. I turned to him.

“I’m still here,” I said. His eyebrows rose. I knew that expression and that face.

“Where did you expect to be?” he asked.

“Back—in my cell.”

“Is that where they took you when they were done?”

“Sometimes.” He took a deep breath and let it go.

“You’re not going back there. Ever.” He paused and then turned toward the front. “You’re dehydrated and malnourished.” He reached into the seat behind me and procured a water bottle. I tried to grab it, but he kept it out of my reach. “You have to take it slow.” He poured some into the cap and handed it out to me. I took it, but my fingers were shaking so badly that most of it spilled out onto my hand. I sipped it anyway.

“I might be able to do this better with two hands,” I remarked.

“Last time you had both your hands you tried to beat me to death with a stick,” he quipped.

“I wasn’t trying to kill you. I just wanted to knock you out.”

“Why?”

“So I could get away.” I handed the cap back and waited for him to give me more water. He didn’t.

“I’ll let you go if you promise not to try and knock me out again.”

“I won’t. I promise.”

He reached above me and unlocked the cuff from around my wrist. He didn’t seem worried about it anymore. Or at least he knew to be vigilant. I wasn’t going to fight him again anyway. I didn’t have the strength to this time, and my mind was slowly starting to process things a little better.

He took my arm and helped me climb into the front seat at his side. I leaned against it and shut my eyes. My stomach wasn’t queasy anymore, but my head still hurt, and my arms felt weak and wobbly.

“How long has it been since they gave you water?” he asked.

“I don’t know.”

“You haven’t eaten in a while either. You don’t look too good. And you couldn’t bring anything up when the tranquilizers made you sick.” I felt him tap my arm and I opened my eyes to see him handing out the cap with more water. Once I had it in my hands, he reached for something in the backpack at my feet.

“Tranquilizers?” I asked. “What tranquilizers?”

“Couple of scouts. Following after your caravan. Hit you first. Missed me. Didn’t get the chance to take another shot.”

“What did you do to them?”

“I shot them, Jo. Is that what you wanted to hear?”

“I thought you said you don’t do that anymore.”

“I thought you couldn’t remember.”

“Getting easier,” I said as I sipped on the water. He pulled something out of his backpack that looked like a protein bar. I watched as he opened it and broke off a piece.

“Do you remember the last time they fed you?” he asked as he handed it out. I took it in my shaking fingers but didn’t eat it. I just dropped my head back again. I was still exhausted enough to sleep.

“No,” I admitted.

“It might not go down easy.” He poured another capful while I tried to choke down the chalky piece of food.

“Where are we?” I asked him.

“Belarus.”

“How did we get to Belarus?” He handed the cap back out.

“I drove us.”

“How long have I been out?”

“Since you hit me on the head or since you got shot with a dart?”

“Dart.”

“It’s been a while. Russell has been in and out. More than you have.”

“Russell—He doesn’t like when I call him that.”

“You remember?” I nodded slowly and sipped on the water.

“They let him talk to me sometimes,” I told him.

“What’d he say?” I chewed on my lip and hesitated. “You don’t have to tell me. I’m just trying to understand what the hell happened to you in there, and neither of you has been very helpful.”

“Do you think he’s going to be okay?” I asked him. He was leaning against the steering wheel now, watching me and waiting to hand out more water when I asked for it. He seemed pretty confident that I wasn’t going to get violent again.

“I don’t know. That was your job, not mine.” I handed the cap back out, but he didn’t fill it again. He twisted it back on the bottle and tossed it into the backpack. “I’ll give you more in fifteen to twenty minutes. If you can keep it down.” He turned back around and adjusted the gearshift to put the car back on the road. “Put your seatbelt on,” he instructed. I didn’t move.

“Bucky,” I said. I could see him pause from the corner of my eye. He didn’t respond right away. He kept his hands on the wheel for a moment before turning to me.

“Yes?”

“This feels different.”

“What do you mean?”

“It feels real this time. I don't remember it hurting this much.”

He sighed audibly. I could see his shoulders hunch as if he was tired. But then he pulled the emergency brake and turned back to me. He reached over my shoulder for the seatbelt and yanked it around me. Once it was snapped into place he took the hand I’d left resting on my thigh. He pressed my palm flat against his chest. I could feel his heart beating in a steady rhythm. I shut my eyes again.

“That’s because it is real,” he told me.

“I didn’t—I didn’t want to.”

“To what?”

“To hurt you.”

“Then why did you?”

“They made me see things. It was different every time but—the objective was always the same.”

“What was it?”

“They made me watch you kill everyone. And the only way I could stop it—is if I killed you first.”

“Did you?” I lifted my other hand and rubbed my eyes. The memories didn’t feel like they were hidden behind a veil anymore. I could feel them and pull them apart. If my head didn’t hurt so bad and my body didn’t feel so weak, I might be able to organize them a little better.

“I didn’t want to,” I repeated.

“But you did.” He didn’t ask. He just confirmed it. “I’m still here. Your family. They’re all okay,” he said. “It wasn’t real.” I took a deep breath to work passed the lump in my throat, and he let me go. My hand felt cold now that he’d released me. I pulled it back into my lap and picked at the bandages. He turned back to the front but didn’t start the car.

“The last time we saw each other. For real. When was that?” I questioned.

“I took you to Russell. They pushed you over the balcony. I let them take you. He said I would regret it. He was right.”

“No,” I said, sitting back up straight. The seatbelt held me down, and I felt a panic flutter in my heart again. “That can’t be right. You did come back for me. You got me out. We were—in Ohio. I remember.” He turned back to me to stop me from trying to get out of the car again. This time both of his hands wrapped around both of my wrists, and I froze. He leaned over the center console and tried to get me to look him in the eye.

“Jo,” he said. “Jo, look at me.” I couldn’t. I looked out of the windows at the darkness around us. I could see the darkened silhouettes of trees and twinkling lights between them. Like a distant town or city. “Please?”

I did what he asked. I turned back to him and studied his face. I knew that face. And not just because it had been haunting my nightmares, but because I’d wanted to know his face. Not because I was being forced to see him and the damage they’d made him do, but because I used to look at him and never wanted to forget him. I remembered every line and every curve. Even though his eyebrows were knitted and his jaw was tight, I knew what he looked like when he smiled and the way his eyes shined when the sun shone through strips of light.

He took my hand again and returned it to the place above his heart so that I could feel it beating. Blood had caked to the side of his face, but he’d tucked his hair behind his ear. There was a softness in his eyes that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Something warm and real.

“Whatever they made you see,” he said. “It wasn’t real. The last time I saw you, you were lying on the hood of a car. Whatever happened after that—it wasn’t real.”

“This is,” I stated. He nodded and his jaw unclenched.

“Yes. This is real. I’m not going to hurt you. I didn’t kill anyone.” I shook my head. I could feel my own heart beating much quicker than his.

“They can still make you. They can control you. They told me how they’re going to do it.” His jaw clenched again, and he pinched his lips. His eyebrows creased, but his eyes were still soft as he focused on me.

“They can,” he agreed. “And that’s why we have to get away. To make sure they won’t.”

“What are you going to do to me?”

“I think you should go back to Stark.” I shook my head again, my fingers involuntarily flexed and squeezed his shirt in my fists.

“No, no. I can’t go back to Stark. Not to New York.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’ll kill them.”

“You didn’t kill me. You had the chance, and you didn’t take it.”

“It’s different with you. They wanted me to kill you differently.”

“How?”

“I don’t know.”

He moved his hand off of mine and touched his fingers to my chin. It felt strange to be touched like that again. The only time I ever felt affection anymore was when she wanted me to believe he was real, right before he murdered all the people I loved. But she hadn’t got it right. The expression on his face was different. He touched me, but he was closed off and guarded. As if he was afraid of overstepping a boundary.

“What do you remember from DC? Before they came for you?” he asked. I shook my head slowly. My fingers were still clenched in his shirt, but he didn’t seem bothered by it.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. There’s just—so much,” I explained.

“Do you remember when we were in your kitchen and I told you that they were going to try and make you kill me? You made me promise not to let you?” I nodded.

“I think so.”

“I didn’t lie. I didn’t fight back because I trusted that you wouldn’t do it.”

“What if I did?”

“You didn’t.” He moved back, and I released the front of his shirt. “I trusted you. I still do,” he told me. He sat back in his seat and got the car moving again. I rested my head on the window and pulled my arms to myself.

“I wouldn’t,” I said. The radio on the dashboard had gone silent, and now all I could hear was the hum of the engine and the shallow breaths of the man in the backseat. He never answered.

 

New update day is on Thursdays.

Jo's thought processes is becoming less chaotic. *phew*

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