This is a rewrite of a scene from Moonshine as told from Niko's point of view, where Promise is questioning Cal's willingness to recall events from Tumulus. Moonshine spoilers, of course.


RV Nightmare

"Even if it's only guesses, impressions..." Cal said. And with that he was gone – snapped back in a heartbeat to Tumulus, where the auphe had tortured him. Cal's eyes rolled back as he convulsed and gripped the RV's seat cushions until his fingers broke through the fabric. Niko shoved Promise aside. He grabbed Cal's shoulders and shook him, yelling his name, but his brother was choking on alien air. Niko's blood ran cold when he realized the sounds his brother was attempting to strangle out were words – auphe words in their hateful, twisted language. A ball of gray mist began swirling over their heads – a gate. For a split second Niko hesitated. He never wanted to hurt Cal after last fall, but he couldn't think of how else to reach him. He slapped Cal hard enough to rock his head. Cal slumped back, words dying on his tongue. He reached up in a daze to touch his bleeding lip.

Niko gripped Cal's shoulder. The mist was still there.

Cal's gray eyes flew open, and fixed on the gate. "You don't want to go there," he repeated dully. "But maybe it wants to come here."

"Can you close it?"

Cal focused, but the gate expanded. "Knock me out. Now," he rasped.

This time Niko didn't hesitate. He trusted Cal's judgment. He popped his brother on the jaw and he collapsed a second time. The gate winked out.

The RV was silent except for the running engine. Flay only glanced back in the rear view mirror and kept driving down the highway. Niko looked up. Promise was still pressed into the corner where he'd shoved her, her purple eyes wide with horror and one hand over her mouth. Robin was braced in the narrow corridor by the bathroom.

Promise reached out a hand. "Niko, I'm so sorry," she began.

"Don't" His cold gray eyes froze her. His voice was soft but fury etched every word. "The very worst beings this world has ever seen took my brother to hell for two years and tortured him. They nearly broke him. You knew that. There is nothing Cal could tell us about that that would be worth his reliving even a second of it. And what you said to him just now…" he stopped. "Stay the hell away from my brother."

Promise looked horrified and guilt stricken. She opened her mouth, but Niko cut her off. "Go!" He pointed to the front of the RV as if ordering a dog in disgrace. Promise gathered the little dignity she had left and retreated, slipping past Robin.

Niko took several deep breaths, willing his control back into place. As he pulled a light coverlet over Cal, a lean hand offered an ice pack over his shoulder.

"Thank you." Niko accepted the pack from Robin. He placed it on Cal's jaw, but his brother didn't stir. Niko checked his breathing and pulse, but Cal was completely out. "I shouldn't have hit him so hard," he said softly.

Robin shrugged. "The gate back to your apartment seemed to have done a number on him. Maybe this one…"

Niko nodded in understanding.

Robin straightened. "Well, I'm sure he'll up and brooding again soon enough. Just let him sleep it out. I'll be up front resting, since I so selflessly gave up my ice pack." He manfully limped back towards the front of the RV.

Niko sat next to his unconscious brother and stared out the back window. He rested a calloused hand on Cal's forehead. As the highway rolled away into the distance, he wished briefly he could jettison Cal's nightmares onto that road and leave them behind so easily. We'll get Georgina back for you, little brother, he promised silently.