A/N: Ok, so the last chapter came as a bit of a surprise to me. I suppose that is what happens when you don't plan out a story. I hope you'll forgive me if I continue to not plan this, it's an interesting experiment… sort of stream of consciousness, and I find it oddly liberating. I know things have turned a little dark, and since the place I left off last time, was sort of the bottom of a pit, the getting out part won't be all sunshine and daisies… I hope that's OK. So, in other words, this one's dark too, but light is in sight.

To clarify a common question: Abby is now 16.

Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar or any of its characters, my OCs are my own.

The all out war that some had feared, others had hoped for, did not materialise. There were skirmishes, small-scale attacks, but it seemed as if the Na'vi were still reluctant to believe that their home was under threat. Abby knew that some of the concepts so natural to the human mind, were completely alien to the Na'vi's. Eywa's bounty was just that, hers, not theirs to take, give, or lose. The forest was part of a larger network, not something that belonged to them, it was their equal, it lived in symbiosis with them. The idea of somebody trying to steal it for them, was not even comprehensible, was nonsensical.

In equal measure, the human's attempts to re-establish peace, to negotiate land-rights, were as ill informed as they were dishonest. Hamstead told them what he thought they wanted to hear, using words such as 'ownership', 'division', and 'preservation', effectively making himself unintelligible.

Grace, of course, was trying to rectify some of his bigger mistakes, but her tentative grasp on the Na'vi's mindset occasionally made things worse rather than better. Her school had now been closed for over six months, and her desire to return to a more harmonious relationship with the Na'vi was beginning to border on desperation.

Abby in the meantime was playing hide and seek with her own thoughts. She assisted some of Grace's researchers with cataloguing and preserving plant samples, she trained with a determination that almost scared Quaritch, and that was saying something, she even went so far as to volunteer to help with her father's work, staying out of his way while helping his assistant with the menial tasks of prepping slides, scanning samples, and organising them in the genetic database. Somehow her father's glances, the ones that reminded her of a child staring at a toy that had been unfairly placed just beyond his reach, were infinitely more bearable than being left alone to think, to remember.

you are alone in your own mind.

But Mana'ey was wrong. Her vulnerability, her fear of her father, the small girl's memories of pain, warped into adolescent hate, her guilt and her shame, were like ghosts living in her head, whispering to her.

Don't come back. They tolerated you because you were amusing, because they thought your people were no threat to them.

But she had known. Had read about and seen the sort of things her people were capable of. Had never doubted their reason for being here. She even knew about the things they'd done to their own planet; no plants other than those housed in giant man-made constructions, their purpose merely to feed, not to live; no animals in the wild, only the shadows of them, bred and caged, existing only to be food: A planet without a soul, to be done with as the humans pleased. She'd known all of this, even when she was much younger, and yet she had never told them. She had deceived not only them, but herself as well, believing that if she wished for it hard enough, then it would not be real.

If you thought that you were part of the Omaticaya in some way, then you are foolish.

No, she had never thought that, had always known, had always felt, just how different she was. Perhaps part of her self-delusion was her way of escaping human nature. Perhaps she thought that if she told them what the others were, she would reveal herself. Perhaps…

I was not cruel to call you a pet; it's what you were.

She'd known this, too, had been willing to accept small graces; pathetic, desperate, and irrevocably lost as she was.

Why did you come to betray your own kind tonight?

This, perhaps, was the most important question of them all… and it was the one she could not face, the one she was running from.

Eventually an uneasy truce was reached, the expansion was 'halted', a ruse, since it had already reached its new perimeters, and Grace's school was opened again. But things were very different. The Na'vi no longer sent their children, only their young adults, all of them full warriors, who made no secret of the fact that they were only there to gain a better insight into a questionable enemy.

The military presence on the human side had been doubled, with some of Quaritch's men standing guard around the school's perimeters, as if they were expecting an attack.

Neytiri had embraced Abby, tears in her eyes and a shy smile on her face, but the others had hung back, weary and unsure of how to behave. Abby herself was not entirely certain how to act, she was still running in her mind, and her confusion and guilt made her uncharacteristically reserved and quiet.

She did not blame Ni'ran and Tsu'tey for staying away; the occasional apologetic glances told her that this was not entirely of their own choosing, and that Neytiri's defiance was somehow more than they were capable of.

Ta'laht ignored her altogether, pretending that she simply did not exist. In some perverse way, this bothered Abby more than his blatant dislike of her ever had.

She would try to provoke him intentionally, try to make him acknowledge her in some way, but he persevered, never letting his temper get the better of him, never giving her the satisfaction of even just growling at her.

At one point, she succeeded in having him shove her out of his way, apparently even he could not walk through a solid human girl. Encouraged by this, Abby followed him out of the classroom, taunting him with some of the worst insults she could think of, but to no avail, until she hit upon what seemed to be a sore spot:

"It must be such a disappointment… the great warrior Ta'laht, ready for battle, and the elders decide on peace." She'd been running after him like a terrier snapping at his heals, and he was almost at the school's border, Roger, one of the guards, only a few feet from him, when he turned an threw her the most scathing look.

Oh sweet victory!

He caught himself almost immediately, scowled and turned, practically running past Roger who stepped out of his way.

"Oh no you don't." Abby made to follow, but the marine stepped into her path with an expression of finality on his face. She feigned a right turn, ducked left as he made to grab her and slipped past him, hearing him curse and call a commanding "Abby!".

Ignoring his protest, and picking up speed, she called behind her:

"You'll have to shoot me." They both knew that he wouldn't, they also knew that he had no hope of catching her.

She reached the small clearing where Ta'laht had ambushed Neytiri and her a few years ago, and felt certain that he was here.

"You think that ignoring me will make me go away? It doesn't work that way, trust me, I know."

He made no sound as his feet hit the forest floor a mere two feet away from her, he sank into a low crouch so that his eyes were level with hers. He was looking at her now, but did not say a word.

"I'm sorry." It left her mouth before she even knew what she was saying, it was only a whisper, but it made him look as surprised as she felt.

"I knew what they were, and I didn't tell you." She wasn't so much speaking to him, as to all the Na'vi, picturing her friends' faces as she continued:

"They are not like you… they don't understand, they are as blind as hatchling banshees…" She shook her head at this, not sure where her words were coming from.

"And I've been running away from the questions you've asked me, because they scare me, because I don't know how to answer them." She was looking straight at him now, he was still silent, but the resentment in his eyes had given way to confusion.

"You said that I'm not one of the Omaticaya, and I know that, but I'm not one of them either… they've made me into something… I… I don't know what I am… maybe I'm nothing." She could feel her face turn warm, her eyes began to sting, and she knew she was crying.

"But I know that I'm not blind like them. I can feel life around me, like a pulse, like it's pressing against this bubble that surrounds me and I have no way of letting it in… but it's there, and…" She'd begun to sob now, but she balled her hands into fists and willed herself to continue.

"They come from a dead world… I've never been there, but I've read about it, I've seen pictures… you cannot possibly imagine…" She took a deep breath.

"They won't stop… all they know is want… they won't ever stop, Ta'laht… " She finally succumbed to the hic-uppy sobs, her shoulders no longer under her control as they moved on their own, shame and despair making her bend forward and curl into a hunched over ball. She'd told him the truth, she'd allowed her thoughts to catch her, and this was it; no wonder she'd been running for so long.

"You think I want war? You think that because I am brash and thoughtless, that I want my people to go up against the cold beasts to be torn to pieces? I can be foolish, but I'm not a fool. But more will come… and you only confirmed what my father has always known… if we do not defeat them soon, there will be too many and…" His voice was even, he didn't sound angry, but she could tell he was worried.

"I want peace… but they do not."

Abby simply nodded, then whispered again:

"I'm sorry."

"They did not bring you here?" He sounded almost formal now.

Abby shook her head.

"I was born a year after my parents arrived on Pandora." She was studying her feet, not able to look him in the eye.

"Then you are Eywa's, and she must have plans for you, the way she has plans for all of her own." At this she did look up at him.

"I told you, I don't know what I am… I…" Her tone was pleading, as if she thought he'd allow her not to finish the sentence. "I'm part of them too,… no matter what I do, I'll always be a traitor in one way or another."

He shook his head at this, then tilted it to the side and studied her more intently.

"I don't know what I am… it's not for me to know… but I know who I am, maybe that's the best we can do." Then he did the strangest thing; he placed his hand on top of Abby's head, leaving it there for a moment, then he was gone. She could hear his voice from somewhere above her:

"You should go back, now… no point in uselessly upsetting their warriors."

She could hear the rustle of leaves, the swish of a tail, and the next moment the pulsing pressure that had been his presence was gone.

She struggled with the decision for weeks, revulsion and fear making her weak. She debated whether this truly had anything to do with who she was, if it was really a way of answering some of her questions, or merely a way of forcing them out. In the end, she decided that it was a test of courage, a way of confronting her daemons, of confronting the ghosts in her head.

She found him hunched over a microscope, muttering to himself as usual. He was alone, after all, it was well past midnight. She cleared her throat to catch his attention, and he looked up at her. There was something vacant about the way his eyes seemed to struggle to fully focus, something oddly disconnected in the absent smile on his lips.

"Finish it." She told him; and the smile her father gave her at this, was anything but vague. An almost manic glee shone from his eyes; she'd returned his toy. Her stomach tightened and she felt like she would be sick, but her fists were clenched, her mind was made up, she would take what haunted her and use it.

A/N: Reviews are my only reward.