Chapter no 18 – WARNER ‌

Restore Me (Shatter Me Book 4)

Panic, terror, guilt—unbounded fears—

I can hardly feel my feet as they hit the ground, my heart beating so hard it physically hurts. I’m bolting toward our half-built medical wing on the fifteenth floor and trying not to drown in the darkness of my own thoughts. I have to fight an instinct to squeeze my eyes shut as I run, taking the emergency stairs two at a time because, of course, the nearest elevator is temporarily closed for repairs.

I’ve never been such a fool.

What was I thinking? What was I thinking? I simply walked away. I keep making mistakes. I keep making assumptions. And I’ve never been so desperate for Kishimoto’s inelegant vocabulary. God, the things I wish I could say. The things I’d like to shout. I’ve never been so angry with myself. I was so sure she’d be fine, I was so sure she knew to never move out in the open unprotected—

A sudden rush of dread overwhelms me. I will it away.

I will it away, even as my chest heaves with exhaustion and outrage. It’s irrational, to be mad at agony—it’s futile, I know, to be angry with this pain— and yet, here I am. I feel powerless. I want to see her. I want to hold her. I want to ask her how she could’ve possibly let her guard down while walking alone, out in the open—

Something in my chest feels like it might rip apart as I reach the top floor, my lungs burning from the effort. My heart is pumping furiously. Even so, I tear down the hall. Desperation and terror fuel my need to find her.

I stop abruptly in place when the panic returns.

A wave of fear bends my back and I’m doubled over, hands on my knees, trying to breathe. It’s unbidden, this pain. Overwhelming. I feel a startling prick behind my eyes. I blink, hard, fight the rush of emotion.

How did this happen? I want to ask her.

Didn’t you realize that someone would try to kill you?

I’m nearly shaking when I reach the room they’re keeping her in. I almost can’t make sense of her limp, blood-smeared body laid out on the metal table. I rush forward half blind and ask Sonya and Sara to do again what they’ve done once before: help me heal her.

It’s only then that I realize the room is full.

I’m ripping off my blazer when I notice the others. Figures are pressed up against the walls—forms of people I probably know and can’t be bothered to name. Still, somehow, she stands out to me.


I could close my hands around her throat.

“Get out of here,” I choke out in a voice that doesn’t sound like my own. She looks genuinely shocked.

“I don’t know how you managed this,” I say, “but this is your fault—you, and your brother—you did this to her—”

“If you’d like to meet the man responsible,” she says, flat and cold, “you’re welcome to. He has no identification, but the tattoos on his arms indicate he might be from a neighboring sector. His dead body is in a holding cell underground.”

My heart stops, then starts. “What?” “Aaron?” It’s Juliette, Juliette, my Juliette—

“Don’t worry, love,” I say quickly, “we’re going to fix this, okay? The girls are here and we’re going to do this again, just like last time—”

“Nazeera,” she says, eyes closed, lips half mumbling. “Yes?” I freeze. “What about Nazeera?”

“Saved”—her mouth halts midmotion, then swallows—“my life.”

I look at Nazeera, then. Study her. She seems just about carved from stone, motionless in the middle of chaos. She’s staring at Juliette with a curious look on her face, and I can’t read her at all. But I don’t need a supernatural ability to tell me that something is off about this girl. Basic human instinct tells me there’s something she knows—something she’s not telling me—and it makes me distrust her.

So when she finally turns in my direction, her eyes deep and steady and frighteningly serious, I feel a bolt of panic pierce me through the chest.


Juliette is sleeping now.

I’m never more grateful for my inhuman ability to steal and manifest other people’s Energies than I am in these unfortunate moments. We’ve often hoped that now, in the wake of Juliette learning to turn on and off her lethal touch, that Sonya and Sara would be able to heal her—that they’d be able to place their hands on her body in case of emergency without concern for their own safety. But Castle has since pointed out that there’s still a chance that, once Juliette’s body has begun to heal, her half-healed trauma could instinctively trigger old defenses, even without Juliette’s permission. In that state of emergency, Juliette’s skin might, accidentally, become lethal once more. It is a risk—an experiment—we were hoping to never again have to face. But now?

What if I weren’t around? What if I didn’t have this strange gift? I can’t bring myself to think on it.

So I sit here, head in my hands. I wait quietly outside her door as she sleeps

off her injuries. The healing properties are still working their way through her body.

Until then, waves of emotion continue to assault me.

It’s immeasurable, this frustration. Frustration with Kenji for having left Juliette all alone. Frustration with the six soldiers who were so easily relieved of their guns and their faculties by this single, unidentified assailant. But most of all, God, most of all, I’ve never been so frustrated with myself.

I’ve been remiss.

I let this happen. My oversights. My stupid infatuation with my own father

—the fallout with my own feelings after his death—the pathetic dramas of my past. I let myself get distracted; I was self-absorbed, consumed by my own concerns and daily dealings.

It’s my fault.

It’s my fault for misunderstanding.

It’s my fault for thinking she was fine, that she didn’t require more from me

—more encouragement, more motivation, more guidance—on a daily basis. She kept showing these tremendous moments of growth and change, and they disarmed me. I’m only now realizing that these moments are misleading. She needs more time, more opportunities to solidify her new strength. She needs to practice; and she needs to be pushed to practice. To be unyielding, to always and forever fight for herself.

And she’s come so far.

She is, today, almost unrecognizable from the trembling young woman I first met. She’s strong. She’s no longer terrified of everything. But she’s still only seventeen years old. And she’s only been doing this for a short while.

And I keep forgetting.

I should have advised her when she said she wanted to take over the job of supreme commander. I should’ve said something then. I should’ve made sure she understood the breadth of what she’d be getting herself into. I should’ve warned her that her enemies would inevitably make an attempt on her life—

I have to pry my hands away from my face. I’ve unconsciously pressed my fingers so hard into my skin that I’ve given myself a brand-new headache.

I sigh and fall back against the chair, extending my legs as my head hits the cold, concrete wall behind me. I feel numb and somehow, still electric. With anger. With impotence. With this impossible need to yell at someone, anyone. My fists clench. I close my eyes. She has to be okay. She has to be okay for her sake and for my sake, because I need her, and because I need her to be safe—

A throat clears.

Castle sits down in the seat beside me. I do not look in his direction. “Mr Warner,” he says.

I do not respond.

“How are you holding up, son?” An idiotic question.

“This,” he says quietly, waving a hand toward her room, “is a much bigger problem than anyone will admit. I think you know that, too.”

I stiffen.

He stares at me.

I turn only an inch in his direction. I finally notice the faint lines around his eyes, his forehead. The threads of silver gleaming through the neat dreadlocks tied at his neck. I don’t know how old Castle is, but I suspect he’s old enough to be my father. “Do you have something to say?”

“She can’t lead this resistance,” he says, squinting at something in the distance. “She’s too young. Too inexperienced. Too angry. You know that, don’t you?”


“It should’ve been you,” Castle says. “I always secretly hoped—from the day you showed up at Omega Point—that it would’ve been you. That you would join us. And lead us.” He shakes his head. “You were born for this.

You would’ve managed it all beautifully.”

“I didn’t want this job,” I say to him, sharp and clipped. “Our nation needed change. It needed a leader with heart and passion and I am not that person. Juliette cares about these people. She cares about their hopes, their fears—and she will fight for them in a way I never would.”

Castle sighs. “She can’t fight for anyone if she’s dead, son.” “Juliette is going to be fine,” I say angrily. “She’s resting now.” Castle is quiet for a time.

When he finally breaks the silence, he says, “It is my great hope that, very soon, you will stop pretending to misunderstand me. I certainly respect your intelligence too much to reciprocate the pretense.” He’s staring at the floor. His eyebrows pull together. “You know very well what I’m trying to get at.”

“And what is your point?”

He turns to look at me. Brown eyes, brown skin, brown hair. The white flash of his teeth as he speaks. “You say you love her?”

I feel my heart pound suddenly, the sound drumming in my ears. It’s so hard for me to admit this sort of thing out loud. To a veritable stranger.

“Do you really love her?” he asks again. “Yes,” I whisper. “I do.”

“Then stop her. Stop her before they do. Before this experiment destroys her.”

I turn away, my chest heaving.

“You still don’t believe me,” he says. “Even though you know I’m telling the truth.”

“I only know that you think you’re telling me the truth.”

Castle shakes his head. “Her parents are coming for her,” he says. “And when they do you’ll know for certain that I’ve not led you astray. But by then,” he says, “it’ll be too late.”

“Your theory doesn’t make any sense,” I say, frustrated. “I have documents stating that Juliette’s biological parents died a long time ago.”

He narrows his eyes. “Documents are easily falsified.” “Not in this case,” I say. “It isn’t possible.”

“I assure you that it is.”

I’m still shaking my head. “I don’t think you understand,” I say. “I have all of Juliette’s files,” I say to him, “and her biological parents’ date of death has always been clearly noted. Maybe you confused these people with her adoptive parents—”

“The adoptive parents only ever had custody of one child—Juliette— correct?”


“Then how do you explain the second child?” “What?” I stare at him. “What second child?”

“Emmaline, her older sister. You remember Emmaline, of course.”

Now I’m convinced Castle is unhinged. “My God,” I say. “You really have lost your mind.”

“Nonsense,” he says. “You’ve met Emmaline many times, Mr Warner. You may not have known who she was at the time, but you’ve lived in her world. You’ve interacted with her at length. Haven’t you?”

“I’m afraid you’re deeply misinformed.” “Try to remember, son.”

“Try to remember what?”

“You were sixteen. Your mother was dying. There were whispers that your father would soon be promoted from commander and regent of Sector 45 to supreme commander of North America. You knew that, in a couple of years, he was going to move you to the capital. You didn’t want to go. You didn’t want to leave your mother behind, so you offered to take his place. To take over Sector 45. And you were willing to do anything.”

I feel the blood exit my body. “Your father gave you a job.” “No,” I whisper.

“Do you remember what he made you do?”

I look into my open, empty hands. My pulse picks up. My mind spirals. “Do you remember, son?”

“How much do you know?” I say, but my face feels paralyzed. “About me

—about this?”

“Not quite as much as you do. But more than most.” I sink into the chair. The room spins around me.

I can only imagine what my father would say if he were alive to see this now. Pathetic. You’re pathetic. You have no one to blame but yourself, he’d say. You’re always ruining everything, putting your emotions before your duty

“How long have you known?” I look at him, anxiety sending waves of unwelcome heat up my back. “Why have you never said anything?”

Castle shifts in his chair. “I’m not sure how much I should say on this matter. I don’t know how much I can trust you.”

“You can’t trust me?” I say, losing control. “You’re the one who’s been holding back—all this time”—I glance up suddenly, realizing—“does Kishimoto know about this?”


My features rearrange. Surprised.

Castle sighs. “He’ll know soon enough. Just as everyone else will.”

I shake my head in disbelief. “So you’re telling me that—that girl—that was her sister?”

Castle nods.

“That’s not possible.” “It is a fact.”

“How can any of this be true?” I say, sitting up straighter. “I would know if it were true. I would have the classified data, I would have been briefed—”

“You’re still only a child, Mr Warner. You forget that sometimes. You forget that your father didn’t tell you everything.”

“Then how do you know? How do you know any of this?”

Castle looks me over. “I know you think I’m foolish,” he says, “but I’m not as simple as you might hope. I, too, once tried to lead this nation, and I did a great deal of my own research during my time underground. I spent decades building Omega Point. Do you think I did so without also understanding my enemies? I had files three feet deep on every supreme commander, their families, their personal habits, their favorite colors.” He narrows his eyes. “Surely you didn’t think I was that naive.

“The supreme commanders of the world have a great deal of secrets,” Castle says. “And I’m privy to only a few of them. But the information I gathered on the beginnings of The Reestablishment have proven true.”

I can only stare at him, uncomprehending.

“It was on the strength of what I’d uncovered that I knew a young woman with a lethal touch was being held in an asylum in Sector 45. Our team had already been planning a rescue mission when you first discovered her existence—as Juliette Ferrars, an alias—and realized how she might be useful to your own research. So we at Omega Point waited. Bided our time. In the interim, I had Kenji enlist. He was gathering information for several months before your father finally approved your request to move her out of the

asylum. Kenji infiltrated the base in Sector 45 on my orders; his mission was always to retrieve Juliette. I’ve been searching for Emmaline ever since.”

“I still don’t understand,” I whisper.

“Mr Warner,” he says impatiently, “Juliette and her sister have been in the custody of The Reestablishment for twelve years. The two sisters are part of an ongoing experiment for genetic testing and manipulation, the details of which I’m still trying to unravel.”

My mind might explode.

“Will you believe me now?” he says. “Have I done enough to prove I know more about your life than you think?”

I try to speak but my throat is dry; the words scrape the inside of my mouth. “My father was a sick, sadistic man,” I say. “But he wouldn’t have done this. He couldn’t have done this to me.”

“And yet,” Castle says. “He did. He allowed you to bring Juliette on base knowing very well who she was. Your father had a disturbing obsession with torture and experimentation.”

I feel disconnected from my mind, my body, even as I force myself to breathe. “Who are her real parents?”

Castle shakes his head. “I don’t know yet. Whoever they were, their loyalties to The Reestablishment ran deep. These girls were not stolen from their parents,” he says. “They were offered willingly.”

My eyes widen. I feel suddenly sick.

Castle’s voice changes. He sits forward, his eyes sharp. “Mr Warner,” he says. “I’m not sharing this information with you because I’m trying to hurt you. You must know that this isn’t fun for me, either.”

I look up.

“I need your help,” he says, studying me. “I need to know what you did for those two years. I need to know the details of your assignment to Emmaline. What were you tasked to do? Why was she being held? How were they using her?”

I shake my head. “I don’t know.”

“You do know,” he says. “You must know. Think, son. Try to remember—” “I don’t know!” I shout.

Castle sits back, surprised.

“He never told me,” I say, breathing hard. “That was the job. To follow orders without questioning them. To do whatever was asked of me by The Reestablishment. To prove my loyalty.”

Castle falls back into his seat, crestfallen. He looks shattered. “You were my one remaining hope,” he says. “I thought I might finally be able to crack this.”

I glance at him, heart pounding. “And I still have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“There’s a reason why no one knows the truth about these sisters, Mr Warner. There’s a reason why Emmaline is kept under such high security. She is critical, somehow, to the structure of The Reestablishment, and I still don’t know how or why. I don’t know what she’s doing for them.” He looks me straight in the eye, then, his gaze piercing through me. “Please,” he says. “Try to remember. What did he make you do to her? Anything you can remember

—anything at all—”

“No,” I whisper. I want to scream the word. “I don’t want to remember.” “Mr Warner,” he says. “I understand that this is hard for you—”

“Hard for me?” I stand up suddenly. My body is shaking with rage. The walls, the chairs, the tables around us begin to rattle. The light fixtures swing dangerously overhead, the bulbs flickering. “You think this is hard for me?”

Castle says nothing.

“What you are telling me right now is that Juliette was planted here, in my life, as part of a larger experiment—an experiment my father had always been privy to. You’re telling me that Juliette is not who I think she is. That Juliette Ferrars isn’t even her real name. You’re telling me that not only is she a girl with a set of living parents, but that I also spent two years unwittingly torturing her sister.” My chest heaves as I stare at him. “Is that about right?”

“There’s more.”

I laugh, out loud. The sound is insane.

“Ms Ferrars will find out about all this very soon,” Castle says to me. “So I would advise you to get ahead of these revelations. Tell her everything as soon as possible. You must confess. Do it now.”

“What?” I say, stunned. “Why me?”

“Because if you don’t tell her soon,” he says, “I assure you, Mr Warner, that someone else will—”

“I don’t care,” I say. “You tell her.”

“You’re not hearing me. It is imperative that she hear this from you. She trusts you. She loves you. If she finds out on her own, from a less worthy source, we might lose her.”

“I’ll never let that happen. I’ll never let anyone hurt her again, even if that means I’ll have to guard her myself—”

“No, son.” Castle cuts me off. “You misunderstand me. I did not mean we would lose her physically.” He smiles, but the result is strange. Scared. “I meant we would lose her. Up here”—he taps his head—“and here”—he taps his heart.

“What do you mean?”

“Simply that you must not live in denial. Juliette Ferrars is not who you think she is, and she is not to be trifled with. She seems, at times, entirely defenseless. Naive. Even innocent. But you cannot allow yourself to forget the fist of anger that still lives in her heart.”

My lips part, surprised.

“You’ve read about it, haven’t you? In her journal,” he says. “You’ve read where her mind has gone—how dark it’s been—”

“How did you—”

“And I,” he says, “I have seen it. I’ve seen her lose control of that quietly contained rage with my own eyes. She nearly destroyed all of us at Omega Point long before your father did. She broke the ground in a fit of madness inspired by a simple misunderstanding,” he says. “Because she was upset about the tests we were running on Mr Kent. Because she was confused and a little scared. She wouldn’t listen to reason—and she nearly killed us all.”

“That was different,” I say, shaking my head. “That was a long time ago.

She’s different now.” I look away, failing to control my frustration at his thinly veiled accusations. “She’s happy—”

“How can she be truly happy when she’s never dealt with her past? She’s never addressed it—merely set it aside. She’s never had the time, or the tools, to examine it. And that anger—that kind of rage,” Castle says, shaking his head, “does not simply disappear. She is volatile and unpredictable. And heed my words, son: Her anger will make an appearance again.”


He looks at me. Picks me apart with his eyes. “You don’t really believe that.”

I do not respond. “Mr Warner—”

“Not like that,” I say. “If it comes back, it won’t be like that. Anger, maybe

—yes—but not rage. Not uncontrolled, uninhibited rage—”

Castle smiles. It’s so sudden, so unexpected, I stop midsentence.

“Mr Warner,” he says. “What do you think is going to happen when the truth of her past is finally revealed to her? Do you think she will accept it quietly? Calmly? If my sources are correct—and they usually are—the whispers underground affirm that her time here is up. The experiment has come to an end. Juliette murdered a supreme commander. The system won’t let her go on like this, her powers unleashed, unchecked. And I have heard that the plan is to obliterate Sector 45.” He hesitates. “As for Juliette herself,” he says, “it is likely they will either kill her, or place her in another facility.”

My mind spins, explodes. “How do you know this?”

Castle laughs briefly. “You can’t possibly believe that Omega Point was the only resistance group in North America, Mr Warner. I’m very well connected underground. And my point still stands.” A pause. “Juliette will soon have access to the information necessary to piece together her past. And she will find out, one way or another, your part in all of it.”

I look away and back again, eyes wide, my voice fraying. “You don’t understand,” I whisper. “She would never forgive me.”

Castle shakes his head. “If she learns from someone else that you’ve always known she was adopted? If she hears from someone else that you tortured her sister?” He nods. “Yes, it’s true, she will likely never forgive you.”

For a sudden, terrible moment, I lose feeling in my knees. I’m forced to sit down, my bones shaking inside me.

“But I didn’t know,” I say, hating how it sounds, hating that I feel like a child. “I didn’t know who that girl was, I didn’t know Juliette had a sister—I didn’t know—”

“It doesn’t matter. Without you, without context, without an explanation or an apology, all of this will be much harder to forgive. But if you tell her yourself and tell her now? Your relationship might still stand a chance.” He shakes his head. “Either way, you must tell her, Mr Warner. Because we have to warn her. She needs to know what’s coming, and we have to start planning. Your silence on the subject will end only in devastation.”

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