"Could he have been trying to create a hybrid?" Brenna scowled. "But that's stupid - he could have as easily spliced DNA, or gotten a changeling woman pregnant." But though he had violated her in so many ways, ways she still couldn't think about without her vision hazing over with the dark red of blood, he hadn't tried to impregnate her.
"Sascha agrees. So do I." The F-Psy dusted off her hands. "From my own experience, I'd say it was more likely Enrique somehow ripped open a previously dormant section of your brain."
"A part that was probably meant to stay that way."
"Yes. What was done to you wasn't natural. But it was done."
"And I have to learn to live with it." The monster had stolen her right to choose.
"I'll give you what help I can. Sascha, too - she'll understand, you know." Faith's voice was gentle. "You don't have to worry that she'll judge you."
Brenna's throat burned with withheld tears. "How could she not? What I feel during those nightmares...it's twisted and wrong. And she's so good, so kind."
"Being an empath means she feels what you feel, including your pain and your horror. And she may be kind" - Faith smiled - "but she's assuredly not perfect. Ask her mate if you don't believe me. But that's a decision for you. As to our help, we'll do our best, but I'm not sure how much we can do."
"At least I know I'm not crazy." She tried to sound confident but the truth was, she wasn't sure. Maybe she was sane now, but what if the nightmare visions succeeded in changing that? It made her face heat up in raw panic, her heart stutter...and her eyes search for the cold comfort of a Psy lethal enough to vanquish all her demons. Her face flushed again, but this time, it wasn't fear that prompted it. "Can I ask you about something else?"
"Of course. Brenna..." Faith seemed momentarily lost for words, awkward. "I would call you a friend."
Before today, Brenna would have said that there were no two women further part. Faith was very composed, very together, while she was a mess. But now she realized that both of them knew what it was like to be forced to bear witness to things they'd rather not see. "I'd like that."
Faith's smile made her even more beautiful. "What did you want to ask me?"
"It's about - " She paused, knowing the second she asked this question, there would be no more hiding from the truth - that she'd gone to Judd for reasons other than his being Psy, reasons that had nothing to do with practicality and everything to do with how he made her feel as a woman. "You were conditioned not to feel."
"Yes. All Psy are."
"But you broke it. I heard it didn't take you that long after you met Vaughn."
Faith's nod was slow. "I think I know what you want to ask." The redhead's expression grew pensive. "Judd?"
Relieved at not having to articulate her complicated and confusing feelings for a man who had none, she nodded. "He's been out much longer than you, but he's completely shut in, completely Silent."
"The difference between us is that both Sascha and I had our abilities turn on us in a sense. We had to embrace emotion or drown. I don't think that's the case with Judd."
You don't need any more nightmares.
"No." It hurt her to remember the bleak darkness in his eyes. "He was a soldier, I think."
Faith seemed about to say something, but then shook her head as if clearing the thought. "Aside from that, he's male."
Brenna had definitely noticed that fact. She'd never seen a man she wanted to stroke more than Judd. "You think that changes things?"
"If you'd asked me while I was part of the PsyNet, I would've said no, that we're all the same. Now" - she took a deep breath of the cold air - "I know that to be a lie. Men and women are fundamentally different. I don't think it was a coincidence that the first two to drop out of the Net because of emotion were female."
She understood the distinction at once. "Judd defected to protect the kids from rehabilitation, not because he felt things he shouldn't."
"Yes. But that in itself is a hopeful sign - that he did it to protect. If he - " Faith turned away. "I don't know if I should say this."
"Please. He won't talk." And a deep, unknown part of her flat out refused to do the sensible thing and walk away. She knew that a wolf male - able to give and accept the touch and affection she needed to be fully alive - would make her far happier. But it wasn't a wolf male she wanted.
Faith relented. "If Judd was who I think he was in the Net, I'm fairly certain he must have been offered a chance to escape the sentence of rehabilitation. That he didn't take it but embraced the likelihood of death to save the children...well, that says something about your Psy, doesn't it?"
Brenna had her own suspicions about who Judd had been in his other life, but she'd ask those questions to his face. "To reach that part of him - " She kicked at the snow, sending it sparking into the sunshine. "He's as stubborn as any wolf, and with the conditioning on top of that - "
"Would you like some advice?"
"Everything you have."
"Leave it." Faith's expression was solemn. "He's probably never going to break Silence - he's done and seen too much to chance feeling."
"No." She would not believe that. "It can be broken."
"It'll hurt. Both of you." The voice of experience. "And, Brenna, he's not the kind of man you need, to heal."
She gave a frustrated little cry. "Everyone thinks I should be wrapped up in cotton wool and babied - when I'm not being pitied, that is! But I'm no tame housecat. I never have been. What was done to me didn't alter that. I'm attracted to Judd's strength - give me a nice gentle puppy dog of a man and I'd drive him to tears within the hour."