Side Story 2
Matthias was surprised to find himself in the attic of his family’s lake district holiday home. He’d homed in on Sonia via their bond, but he hadn’t expected her to have managed to jump so far. She might manage it on her own when she was well, but he could sense her pain â€“ and she’d brought the kids along as well.
She was curled up on the floor in a ball, sobbing. The kids were curled up around her, asleep and apparently unharmed by their ordeal. A quick scan confirmed that all four were fine so he turned his attention to his wife – who clearly was not.
“Sonia?” He knelt down beside her and laid a hand on her shoulder. She stirred slightly and mumbled incoherently. “I’m here, Sonia,” he whispered as he tried to soothe her pain to the best of his limited healing ability. “Everything will be alright.”
After a moment, she stirred again and opened her eyes. “Matt?” Her voice cracked with pain, but at least she was lucid.
“I’m here.” He continued soothing her as he stroked the sweat-drenched hair from her face. She looked so fragile â€“ and that was not a word which he had ever expected to apply to her.
“I hurt,” she said. “What-” She broke off and went even paler. He wasn’t reading her for fear of injuring her flayed essence even more than it already was but he knew that he memory of what had happened was returning now the pain had decreased. “The kids!” She tried to uncurl herself then cried out in pain and lay still. “Did I manage to bring the kids?”
“You did. They’re right here and they’re fine,” he reassured her as he held her down. “You need to rest. You’ve managed to burn your essence.”
“Hnnn…” She pushed his hand away and started to cautiously uncurl herself again. “No time to rest, I have to leave.”
“No!” he said sharply.
“You know I do, Matt,” she said. “The Lavernes will know that I’m still alive as soon as the kids resurface. If she thinks you helped me she’ll go after you as well. I won’t have our children orphaned. It has to look like I left them here and fled into exile. She’ll still be monitoring the barriers for signs of me escaping, so I have to go or she’ll know I haven’t.”
“No,” he said again. “Just no. We don’t even know that there is an exile. For all we know, the resonants who’ve fled Earth have all died in the Void before finding another world humans can adapt to. It’s not like any of them have ever come back, and I would have if it were me. And even if they have, you’ll never make it in that state. I’ll hide you and the kids – I’m not sure they’ll be safe if the bitch finds out they’re alive anyway.”
“What?” Sonia scowled and finally eased herself into a sitting position. “How the hell do you intend to do that?”
“I – I haven’t worked the details yet,” he admitted as he began teleporting bedding and pillows up from the airing cupboard. “You’ll have to stay here for a few days at least. I really can’t move you in this state.”
“What if you can’t hide us?” she asked.
“Then we’ll flee into exile as a family,” he said firmly. “I won’t lose you.”
She looked at him for a moment before nodding faintly. “Okay, we’ll try it your way.” He suspected her aquiesence was more adue to realising she was unable to flee in her state than any belief in his plan.
“Good.” He helped her wrap herself in one of the duvets and placed a pillow under her head. “Try and get some sleep. It’ll help.” He kissed her forehead and continued pouring what anodyne he could on her psychic wounds until the pain lines on her face faded and she sank down into sleep. He checked that the kids were unlikely to wake up in the near future, then headed downstairs to get himself a drink and plan how to hide his family.