Title: Rest for the Weary
Author: Nace M.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything, please don't sue me.
***

White cotton sheets hit the floor with a barely audible thump as they were kicked with restless feet from the bed. Long blonde hair tousled left to right as the body rolled back and forth incessantly. Low soft moans escaped her throat every few minutes and her eyes were pinched shut. If you were standing near the bed watching her it would appear she was in great pain. In a sense she was. Isabel Evans had been plagued with nightmares all her life. From the small bright-eyed little girl to the strong confident woman she was growing into. They started out as your typical young child "the boogie man will get me" bad dreams, but soon grew into a hellish façade in which no one, especially a little girl of such innocence should have seen. It grew much worse when Max, Michael, and her had discovered what they truly were. Haunting images of being pulled from school, or her home, or even directly from her mother's arms by men with no faces hauling her away and throwing her into steel cages not fit for even the wildest of animals. Experiments and tests done on her while still conscious enough to see it all. Her screams fell on deaf ears and she shouted out in terror at the black holes on their featureless faces where eyes should have been. Her blood was not red when they cut her and gathered it into small bowls leaving her sick to her stomach. Then, the dissection would begin. She would watch as they removed everything inside leaving nothing but a hollow husk for them to bag and tag. She could see through the transparent plastic as it was filed into someone unknown vault filled with others exactly like her. On occasion she would the faces of Max or Michael in the other bags…and then she would scream. For years she would wake up screaming with no sound. Her mouth would be wide open as she clung to her bedspread with tears streaming down her cheeks. Most of her childhood nights ended like that, and she told no one. It's what made the ice princess act so easy, she merely fueled it from her torment. For a period of time they had stopped. Humans came upon her secret and accepted it. Even going so far as to protect and defend her when she was in danger. One of them even loved her. Only then did the nightmares stop. But with all the craziness her life had become, it was just a matter of time before they started again.

The letter V seemed to want to destroy her. It first appeared in the form of a constellation linking them to their past, bringing in a fourth that was supposedly their lost kindred. Telling them of a life and a duty long ago that they were still required to follow through. Of love supposed exist between the four, for her in the form of someone she never thought more than a brother. Now V meant Vilandra. Traitorous Vilandra. The congresswoman's words still echoed inside her head.

"Your name was Vilandra, and you were beautiful...even more beautiful than you are now. You had a great love...and for him...for us...you betrayed your brother, your race. You sacrificed him. You sacrificed everyone...even yourself. And history, my dear, always repeats itself."

Sacrificing all that her brother, his bride, and her betrothed had worked for. All for another story of a great love. Love of the enemy. Her heart was shattered when Whitaker had told her these things, and her mind shut down when her hand destroyed the congresswoman. It was far too much for her to handle. Isabel a killer? Responsible for how many unknown deaths with her treachery. It all could have been a lie. A plot of the skins to throw her off and make them all vulnerable. But still, the mere idea of it sent the little grain of composure inside her subconscious that kept the dreams away to vanish, and they returned with a vengeance.

Inside these dreams she could see herself doing everything Whitaker told her she had done. Vivid images of betrayal and double crossings against her people, her world. A world she had never seen or known, completely alien to her even though it's where she came from. It's what she was supposed to be defending. It was supposed to be home. She could see the destroyed look on Michael, Tess, and Max's faces as she turned them over to the others. When they had discovered it was she whom caused their downfall. All for a great love that now appeared in the form of fourteen-year-old boy. That was disgusting in an entire manner of it's own. Every night since she was told of these things, she had seen them. She had lived them. She had even possibly…enjoyed it. Then the scene of the most shameful thing she'd ever done. The shame was self-induced, but it was shame none the less. Whitaker had pushed her farther than Isabel ever thought she was capable of. She destroyed the woman. She could still feel the pieces of skin floating around like demented snowflakes, blinding her, choking her, burying her. Till she could no longer breathe…

Isabel woke up, her mouth wide open in another strangled scream. Her breath was heavy and her eyes scattered in different directions all around the room. Tears welled and her clothes were clung to her body covered in sweat.

"Not again," she cried silently. "Oh god not again."

She wrapped her arms around herself rocking slightly trying to shake the fear in her mind and the pain in her heart. She wasn't sure how much longer she could take this. It had been months since she had a decent nights sleep and even longer when she actually felt safe. The last time she had even been remotely content was with… Suddenly she had an idea. An idea that turned into a need, a very strong need. Grabbing some clothes from her dresser she quickly threw them on and took her purse and set of keys off the nightstand. Quickly and quietly sneaking out of the house she climbed in the jeep. Putting it in neutral she wheeled it halfway down the street so as not to wake up anyone in the house. Then drove as fast as the jeep would go, skidding around corners and flying down main streets. Needing that safe feeling again was ironic in the way that she was completely disregarding her personal safety with the way she was driving. Soon she was on his street. She killed the engine a few houses down from his and coasted to a stop directly in front of the small southwestern home. She checking herself out in the review mirror before exiting the car. In short, she looked like hell. But she knew it wouldn't matter to him.

***

A gentle tapping on his window caused his eyelids to flutter, bringing him out of a light sleep. He wearily rubbed his eyes and glance at the clock on his nightstand. 2:43 am. Who or what could be so important that they needed to come knocking at this hour? He threw his sheets off and walked towards the window. Pulling back the curtains he nearly jumped and screamed like banshee when she lifted her head to peer in. He swallowed back the lump that formed in his throat and took a few deep breathes in an attempt to calm himself. She gave him a small smile from the other side of the glass.

"Isabel?" he asked quietly.

She nodded and he opened the window as quietly as he could, then took her hand and carefully pulled her inside. He put his finger up to his mouth telling her to be silent as he closed the window behind her. He's not exactly sure how his parents would react to having a girl in his room at this time of night, and he's not too eager to find out.

"Is everything alright?" he asked. "You don't look so good."

"I'm not feeling so hot either," she muttered. "Listen Alex, I uh…well I didn't know who else to turn to and um…"

The floor suddenly became very interesting as she lowered her head to get a closer look. The feeling washed over her in waves. Guilt. Guilt for things she things she had or had not done, things she was never going to be sure of. She felt his hand on her shoulder and she found the courage to look him in the eye.

Seeing the tears welling in her eyes Alex did the only logical thing he knew to do. He took her in his arms and let those tears fall, hoping that some of his comfort would flow into her. She cried into his shoulder and he cooed her softly, smoothing out her golden hair and making lazy circles with his hands on the small of her back. The ticking of his alarm clock was the only noise filling the room besides the rhythmic beating of their hearts, and after awhile her tears eventually stopped and her sobs grew quiet.

"You going to tell me what's the matter?"

She lifted her head from his shoulder and as she looked at him he could hear his heart cry out at the sight of Isabel in such peril.

"I…I can't," she said. "I mean I want to, but it's all…it's just too much and I can't."

His eyes closed with disappointment, but he nodded his understanding.

"It's okay," he said. "You don't have to. I guess I want to know so I can help…"

"Just hold me," she interrupted softly. "I can't remember the last time you just held me."

His arms gave her a reassuring squeeze. "I can do that."

She smiled into his chest as her arms snaked around his waist and held on tight. She was beginning to remember this feeling. Being snug and secure in his arms. As she began to feel the weight of the nightmares slowly lift from her shoulders, she began to wonder how she had ever lived without it. She wondered why she ever let it him go. She could feel his breath through her sweatshirt and it sent a little spike of pleasure down her spine. She knew then that the nightmares would never come back as long as he was here. It was remarkable to her to have such reassurance when her life these past weeks had been riddled doubt, guilt, and unanswered questions. But as he squeezed her again she knew it to be true. Anything was possible inside his embrace. She sighed and let the calm take her into a place she'd not been in ages, a place where she feared not the event of slumber.

"I'm sleepy," she mumbled softly.

His hands suddenly stilled their comforting touch and she felt him stiffen. She could have laughed at how awkward he could be around her despite all they had shared. She knew he was fighting with himself to ask her if she wanted to stay, so she made it easy for him.

"Can I stay here tonight?" she asked.

As soon as the words left her lips she felt him relax.

"Yeah, of course you can."

He led her to the bed and she lied down and wrapped a blanket a blanket around herself, closed her eyes, and waited for Alex to join her. When he didn't, she looked over the side of the bed and saw him sprawled out on a blanket she hadn't heard or seen him setup.

"What are you doing down there?"

He rolled onto his side and looked up at her.

"Letting you have the bed."

"I'd prefer it if…I'd rather have you up here," she said softly.

Still he was hesitant.

"Please."

That's all it took. In an instant he was lying next to her and she snuggled close as he draped an arm across her shoulders. This is what she had needed. The words, the past, the dreams could not get her here. Not with Alex anchoring her heart and soul to only place she now realized she truly wished to be. No earth shattering decisions, no threats of an entire race from a past life, no nightmares.

"Thanks for being here," she said.

"Thanks for letting me."

It was quiet after that. But for the first time in a long time Isabel didn't dread the sleep weighing heavily on her eyelids. She let herself drift off knowing that tonight she would actually get some rest.

She dreamt of Alex Whitman.