“It rained the day they brought us to Thurmond.
And it rained the day I walked out.”
“Black is the color that is no color at all.
Black is the color of a child's still, empty bedroom. The heaviest hour of night-the one that traps you in your bunk, suffocating in another nightmare. It is a uniform stretched over the broad shoulders of an angry young man. Black is the mud, the lidless eye watching your every breath, the low vibrations of the fence that stretches up to tear at the sky.
It is a road. A forgotten night sky broken up by faded stars.
It is the barrel of a new gun, leveled at your heart.
The color of Chubs's hair, Liam's bruises, Zu's eyes.
Black is a promise of tomorrow, bled dry from lies and hate.
I see it in the face of a broken compass, feel it in the numbing grip of grief.
I run, but it is my shadow. Chasing, devouring, polluting. It is the button that should never have been pushed, the door that shouldn't have opened, the dried blood that couldn't be washed away. It is the charred remains of buildings. The car hidden in the forest, waiting. It is the smoke.
It is the fire.
Black is the color of memory.
It is our color.
The only one they'll use to tell our story.”
“They'd never fade, even in the afterlight of all of this”
“Everyone needs reality to punch them in the face every once in a while. Keeps you on guard.”
“You wanna go build some shelves with me?”
“The thing is...what they don’t tell you about forgiveness is this—you don’t give it for the other person’s sake, but your own.”
“What I’m trying to get at is, as bad as everything seems, I think, at its heart, life is good. It doesn’t throw anything at us that it knows we can’t handle—and, even if it takes its time, it turns everything right side up again.”
“I love you. With my whole heart. My whole life, however long I'm lucky enough to get, nothing will change for me.”
“Ruby, what does the future look like?” Nico asked. “I can’t picture it. I try all the time, but I can’t imagine it. Jude said it looked like an open road just after a rainstorm.”
I turned back toward the board, eyes tracing those eight letters, trying to take their power away; change them from a place, a name, to just another word. Certain memories trap you; you relive their thousand tiny details. The damp, cool spring air, swinging between snow flurries and light rain. The hum of the electric fence. The way Sam used to let out a small sigh each morning we left the cabin. I remembered the path to the Factory the way you never forgot the story behind a scar. The black mud would splatter over my shoes, momentarily hiding the numbers written there. 3285. Not a name.
You learned to look up, craning your neck back to gaze over the razor wire curled around the top of the fence. Otherwise, it was too easy to forget that there was a world beyond the rusting metal pen they’d thrown all of us animals into.
“I see it in colors,” I said. “A deep blue, fading into golds and reds—like fire on a horizon. Afterlight. It’s a sky that wants you to guess if the sun is about to rise or set.”
Nico shook his head. “I think I like Jude’s better.”
“Me too,” I said softly. “Me too.”
“Thing is, though, fear is worthless. It stops you when you need to keep moving most. And it only exists inside of your head.”
“Are you sure this isn't a nightmare?" he asked quietly. "And that we won't just wake up?" I stared ahead at the road, the way the dust blowing in from the desert covered it with a faint golden sheen even as gray clouds began to gather over us. "yes," i said after some time. Because dreamers always wake up and leave their monsters behind.”
“This whole time, from the moment we met, he’d been waiting for me to realize he’d known me all along, and he had never once wanted me to change.”
“There is one side. That is the side of friendship and trust and love and that is the side that everyone should be on, and I am refusing to acknowledge that any other side could exist.”
“I grabbed Liam's arm as he passed me on his way to the tunnel door, kissing his cheek. "See you later tonight."
He stepped down into the tunnel, shouldering a backpack Cole had left for him there. When I turned to say good-bye to the other Stewart, he'd stooped, turned his cheek toward me, and was waiting. I flicked it with my finger, making him laugh again.
"You're impossible," I informed him.
"It's all part of my charm," he said, shifting the heavy bag on his shoulder. "Take care of things, Boss."
"Take care of him." I said, pointedly.
He gave one last mock salute before shutting the door to the tunnel. I waited until the sound of his and the others' steps faded completely before locking the door after him.”
“And the open road rolled out in front of us.”
“I don’t care,” I said, leaning my head back against the seat. “Can we just get lost and see where that lands us?”
“Yes, well”—he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose delicately—“the burner phone we had accidentally fell out of the car, and someone accidentally backed over it. Because someone was in a rush after she accidentally alerted some skip tracers we were nearby when she accidentally used her abilities to move a light pole out of the road after she had accidentally backed into it.”
“Someone better shut their mouth before I accidentally slam my fist into their teeth.” She punched his shoulder, and it was almost...playful.
“Shut his mouth, fist into his teeth.”
“Really? A grammar lesson?”
“Has anyone else . . ."
"Hmm?" Grams walked the paper back across the room and took up her tray of hospital good again, settling it over me. "Has anyone else, what?:
"Been by," I mumbled. "To visit."
Grams gave me a knowing smile. "A charming young woman with a mouth that could give a sailor a heart attack? A sweet little one who brought you flowers? The one who spent half a day chasing doctors and nurses around, demanding answers about your condition? Or, by any chance are you referring to a very well - mannered Southern boy?”
“That's not very Team Reality of you."
His smile matched mine. "Screw Team Reality - I'm leaving to join Team Sanity.”
“Now, darlin', I just had myself a little thought."
"Did you?" I murmured, distracted by the way he reached up to run his thumb over my bottom lip.
"I did indeed. It being that you are seventeen and I'm eighteen, and we have every damn right to make out like teenagers. Like normal, happy, crazy kids.”
“Now isn't the time to change yourself to fit into the world,"Clancey said his voice raw with whatever thoughts were storming beneath his skin. "You should be changing the world to accept you. To let you exist as you are, without being cut open and damaged.”
“I don't mean to be such a burden," I whispered. All I ever wanted to do was protect you.
"It's not a burden if people are willing to carry it," she pointed out.”
“Are you sure this isn't a nightmare? And that we won't just wake up?
Because dreamers always wake up and leave their monsters behind.”
“Seat belts. Welcome to Psi Services. I'm Zach and I'll be your driver on this epic quest to freedom. If you look out your windows--but, obviously, don't because Ruby just told you not to--you can give Nevada the finger as we pull away.”
“It was almost painful, I thought, to have a heart so swollen with gratitude and what must have been pure, untainted happiness. I wanted to live inside the feeling forever.”
“They don't burn, do they? Not like us.”
“You keep going to your bad place," she added. "I have one, too. I get trapped there if I stay too long."
"If you go to the bad place again," she said simply, "Tell one of us so we can help you back out.”
“You want to hear the rules?"
My heart jackhammered as I nodded. That same hand slid around my hip, up under my shirt, and felt warm and perfect against my lower back. I closed my eyes as his lips just barely brushed mine. His touch made me feel brave. It pushed the uncertainty back until it couldn't reach me. "The first one is you can't think too hard about it. The second is you say when you want to stop. The third is you do whatever feels good to you. The fourth is-"
"-you stop talking," I said, blindly reaching back to pull the door shut, "and kiss me?”
“Ugh.” Cole rolled his eyes, gave a small laugh. “In a move straight out of Lee’s playbook, I rolled over in bed this morning and hit the dresser. Already killing it this morning.”
“We used our minds like weapons clenched tightly in our fists, struggling to return them back to their holsters without injuring ourselves in the process.”
“I do not accept evil. Man is perfect. The soul does not topple. Progress exists. Good is irreducible. Antichrists, accusing angels, eternal sufferings, religions are the product of doubt.”
“Ain't no way to change the world for the better if you can't stand up for what's right when everyone else is wrong.”
“When Yesu is everything to you, it is impossible not to speak of him.”
“Three men came in. They wore ragged jeans, tight T-shirts, and work boots. And they sat at one of Grace's tables.
Noah was up and off his bar stool in a heartbeat. Ben silently wondered if he should be paying Noah a bouncer's salary, considering how much time he spent making certain Grace's work environment stayed pleasant. Noah didn't say anything to the men, but he did stop Grace, tip up her chin, and give her a lingering kiss right in the middle of the floor. Grace got so flustered, she nearly dropped her tray.
Noah released her, gave the men a long look, and positioned himself at an empty table—facing them.
Ben had to turn away so no one would see him laughing. If he ever got that smitten with a woman, he hoped someone would shoot him to put him out of his misery.”
“Are we, then, insane because we have not gone mad?”
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