Note: Jesus Christ, we’re already back full circle. Well, like I said two weeks ago, I’m going to try and keep going, til the wheels come off. Might start taking Saturdays off, just so I can have a little more me time (by which I mean family time, and not literally me time- nothing gross should be inferred from this); I think I’ve been de facto doing that unintentionally because I keep getting caught up over the weekend and missing a posting. Also, just a note on continuity, I think the chapter with Mahmoud is going to be first, so 29 brings us back to Rox’s group, and we’ll be going back and forth going forward.
Rox couldn’t sleep. They drove all night to get over the border into Texas, but now that they were back in the US, she couldn’t shake the feeling that they were being pursued.
Mahmoud felt it too. At least, that would explain the way his breath kept hitching, and the way he was twitching. He was sharing the other Queen bed with Rui and Ben, nearest the Queen she was sharing with Sonya and Anita. Suddenly, he sat bolt upright, screaming. The lights went off, the alarm, the television- every electronic in the room shut down at once. Rox was already on her feet, running to the window, and watched as a shockwave washed through the nearby city, killing every light in its path.
“Goddamnit,” Mahmoud muttered, standing beside her.
“I don’t blame you- I don’t. But you just lit a signal flare even the Drump Administration dummies could see from space. We can’t be here when they get here.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice dripping with self-loathing.
“Sorry. You don’t need my whining right now.”
“No. I mean shut up,” she grabbed him aggressively and his instinct told him to fight, to get away, hit her if he had to. His fists were balled, without even thinking about it; a wave of shame shook through him when he realized she was hugging him. “You have every right to be upset, to be traumatized. It’s going to take time for things to even approach a semblance of okay. So don’t take it out on yourself. I want to collapse into a weeping ball just thinking about what you’ve been through- and I know I can’t truly understand it without having lived through it. So if you need to freak out sometimes, if you need to cry, if you just need to be held,” she squeezed his ribs tighter for emphasis, “we’re all here for you- at least as best we can be. We’re all dealing with this open wound of a world, and we all have days and nights like the one you’re having. But the absolute last thing you need to do is apologize. We’ve been there. We are there. We’ll be there again tomorrow. But we’re here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do to help.”
“Yeah,” Rui said, yawning, “what she said.”
“Shit,” Mahmoud said. “Didn’t mean to wake you.”
“If it makes you feel any better, Rox was the one who woke us up,” Ben said from beneath a pillow. “Just as well,” Rox said. “We need to be in the van in 5-” she was interrupted by Sonya, snoring loudly. “And somebody wake Sonya.”