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Deirdre Evering

The perfect girl who is sick of the consquences of being "perfect"

457 views · last seen in New York City
a character in “The Once and Future King: Book One”, as played by SkullsandSlippers

Description

Image

Age:19
Nickname:D
Hair:Long, wavy and light brown. Worn in a bun for so many years that she now leaves it out almost exclusively.
Eyes:Blue
Height:5'8

Reincarnation-Guinevere


Physique/facial: Small nose, full lips and fair skinned. She has a traditional ballet dancer's build with slim frame and lean arms and legs.

Works part time at a lingerie store and is a student studying history.

Once quiet, proper and overly agreeable, Deirdre has taken to speaking her mind and testing the waters of the world around her. While not "sheltered" she is still just getting a feel for who she is and the things she likes.

Her days are spent in cafes with novels or in the occassional class. She works evenings and then goes out at night. Deirdre has discovered a love of fast food, though she doesn't eat too much.

She still keeps up a few habits from her years in ballet, like regular stretching.

Clubs have become her favourite hang out at night, the crowds and anonymity appealing to her.

She has a tiny room in the apartment she shares with three other people off campus. She has her clothes, her books, and the random things found in her room but nothing that she is overly attached to save her claddagh ring that was a gift when she turned 16. She wears it on her right hand ring finger facing out and has no intention of ever turning it around.

Deirdre was the perfect little girl, all ribbons and bows, ruffles and dresses. Her favourite colour was pink and she loved unicorns. At a young age she showed a natural ability in dance.

She grew up just outside of New York City in Port Washington. By the time she was 6 she was auditioning for the American Ballet School and by the time she was 8 her parents had sent their daughter off to the school to live. She lived there most of the year, only taking breaks to visit home for a week in the summer. She was a straight A student, a model dancer and the apple of her parent's eye. Deirdre never caused an trouble and was never a source of anything but pride.

When she turned 17 she began to feel worn now by the need to be perfect. being perfect meant never making a mistake. Never getting in trouble, never doing anything out of turn and never doing what you wanted. She spent her life pleasing everyone and no one had ever bothered to ask her what she, Deirdre wanted. Expectations were high for the girl and the pressure to meet them was overbearing.

One night she met a few people outside of the school and they convinced her to go to a movie. She knew it would be past curfew but they were new and exciting friends. It was the first time she had broken a rule and the backlash was terrible. Her parents railed on her irresponsibilyt, her teachers tsked and lectured her. Deirdre grew frustrated but fell in line. The anger and resentment grew. She began to wonder if beign perfect was worth it.

When she hit 18 she was given the choice to become part of the New York City Ballet Company or leave the school for University. Everyone expected the girl to go on to join the company, perhaps rise in the ranks as expected to become a star. She chose to leave.

There were arguments and discussions, tears and screaming but none from Deirdre herself. She was tired and fed up. She wanted out. Her intial thought was to not attend school, get a job and explore the world. Her parents threatened to bring her home by force. She compromised, attending school full time to appease them. Her grades are just barely good enough to pass and she has taken on the philosophy of "No consquences and no regrets."

For the first time in her life Deirdre wants to live without any "plan" or "expectations" in place.

So begins...

Deirdre Evering's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson
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INK

She crossed the campus, coffee in hand and headphones in her ears. Her phone was stashed in her coat pocket and her music was loud in her ears. Deirdre had decided to go to her classes today. With two afternoon classes and no evening ones it was an easy day. Fridays were nice for that. She wasn’t working and no one would be going out until much later. She’d be able to catch up on the lectures, make an appearance where needed and still have time to go home and change before she went out.

She inhaled the crisp, cool air. Her eyes glanced up at the grey sky. The rain had stopped before she had left the house. How many days like this had she wasted in a studio, at a barre or in a rehearsal room with no windows at all?

Her hat,a grey beret held her hair down and the rest flowed long down her back like a waterfall.

“Black his hair as winter’s night,
White he rode as the summer snow,
Red his face as the morning light;
Cold he lies in the grave below.

My love is dead,
Gone to his death-bed,
Under the willow-tree.”

Deirdre sang along to the song as she headed to the student union building. She planned to kill the time before her first class by catching up on some long over do reading. Her messenger bag bounced lightly at her side as she pulled the door open.

She headed for a bank of comfortable couches and gracefully removed her bag, laying it on the seat. Her coat was removed, along with her scarf. Her hat remained. Deirdre sat down. Her posture was impeccable, almost regal from years of strict ballet training.

Taking a drink of her coffee her hands removed a book from her bag. She cracked it open and began flipping. A book for one of her history classes. They were discussing medieval poetry, specifically love poems. Deirdre always had a soft spot for this sort of thing. The ballets she loved to dance in the most were one with stories of tragic love. Giselle, La Sylphide and even Sleeping Beauty. Not that she had any experience with love herself. She had never had a boyfriend. Dance and lessons had always come first. There was no time for friends or boys.

”Things are going to be different now." University, no more dance classes and rehearsals and a life of her own. Deirdre was free for the first time in her life and she intended to take every advantage of it.

Her eyes scanned the poem.

Love me slou
And love me drou
And love me layde on bere
Love is my pes
For love I ches
Man to buyen dere


She frowned. ”And in English that means....” Deirdre’s eyes moved to right side of the page where the translation lay.

Love killed me
And love dragged me
And love laid me on the bier
Love is my peace
And for love I chose
To redeem mankind at great cost

”How can this be? I loved you both, how...” He was pacing and distraught.

Her chest hurt and she was crying. Beside her he was on his knee, at the feet of his king and friend. “Arthur, my king, my heart...” She stepped forward.

“How can you say such things to me?” There was a pain in his eyes that she could not bare to see and her eyes were cast down. In front of her was the man who was her heart and behind her was the man who was her soul. She stood between them.


Deirdre shook herself and looked around bewildered. ”Where the fuck did that come from?” It was vivid and very real, yet she had no idea where it came from and why it had happened.

Her eyes went to the words of the poem again but Deirdre shut the book. She took a drink of her coffee. ”Maybe I am hungry. Yeah that is likely it.” She knew it wasn’t but felt like if she kept saying it that she could convince herself it was just that simple.

She looked over at the boy on the next couch. “Do you think you could watch my things for me for a moment? I am just going to run and grab something to eat.”

He looked up. There was a momentary pause before he answered her. “Of course.” He gave her a slight nod.

Deirdre gave him a polite smile and nod in return. He was cute, dark hair and dark eyes. “I will only be a minute.”

He shook his head. “No trouble, really. I am at your service.” He chuckled and smiled.

Deirdre laughed lightly, “Why thank you gallant sir.” She turned and walked off. A shiver ran up her spine. ”Silly poem.”

She went to cafeteria area. By passing the salad bar and sandwiches, she immediately headed to the where the hot food was being cooked. “Bagel with cream cheese please.” Deirdre waited and was eventually handed her food. She made her way to the cashier, grabbing two chocolate bars on her way by.

Food paid for, Deirdre returned to her seat. “Have no fear, no one has accosted your things. I have preserved them for you.” Him smiled as he spoke.

“Why thank you and as a token of my appreciation for your service please accept this humble snack.” She held out one of the bars to him.

“I am unworthy but hungry so I’ll take it.” He winked at her. Deirdre sat down, laughing.

There was a moment of silence as she poked at her phone and ate her bagel. He opened the chocolate bar with a crinkling of the wrapper.

“My name is Tim by the way.” He was somewhat awkward and tentative. She looked over at him, her phone still in hand. “Deirdre, nice to meet you Tim.”

Again silence fell between them. The student union was busy and more and more people walked by.

“I have to go to class. Will you maybe be around later Deirdre?”

Again, she turned to look at him. “Well I am around most of the day but I do have classes. Hopefully we can run into each other again.” She smiled.

“Great! I hope to see you later then!” He walked off quickly, leaving her sitting there on the couch.

Deirdre smiled and poked at her phone again. ”I can get used to this.”

Setting

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Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson
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INK

“Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.”

Tim’s eyes were on his page, re-reading the chapter for his human rights and liberties class when the voice made him look up.

He had come to relax in the student union before class, he had caught a quick nap when he first arrived and now going over his notes and reading. He chose the student union because most of his buddies were either at one of the frat houses, hung over or just still asleep. He never expected to be interrupted.

“Do you think you could watch my things for me for a moment? I am just going to run and grab something to eat.”

At some point the couch next to his had become occupied by a rather pretty woman. Now she was talking to him, asking him a question. It took Tim a moment to process that she was speaking to him.

He was silent for a moment. “Of course.” He gave her a nod. His dark eyes looked her over. She was only a little shorter than he was, her hair very long and the grey hat set off her eyes. Tim felt like he knew her or had seen her before but he was sure that he hadn’t.

She smiled, a sweet small smile but it too seemed familiar. “I will only be a minute.”

He shook his head. “No trouble, really. I am at your service.” He laughed off the overly chivalrous talk and smiled back, a little wider. He wasn’t normally so formal with women but something about her made him sit a little taller and feel the need to be more than just polite.

The woman laughed, it was light and joyful. Tim frowned. He knew that laugh, he was sure of it. “Why thank you gallant sir.”

He watched her walk away, back straight and head high. “That was weird.”

Passing it off as nothing but an odd encounter Tim went back to his book. It wasn’t a great deal of time before she returned. Tim looked up as she sat down.

“Have no fear, no one has accosted your things. I have preserved them for you.” He smiled but inwardly he was rolling his eyes. ”You sound like you are trying to woo her. You sound like an idiot.”

“Why thank you and as a token of my appreciation for your service please accept this humble snack.” She held out one of the bars to him.

”But she is playing along so...”

“I am unworthy but hungry so I’ll take it.” He gave her a wink. For a moment there was silence between them. Tim opened the chocolate bar and took a bite. He looked over at her, bagel and phone in hand. She was pretty and Tim decided to find the nerve to speak to her more.

“My name is Tim by the way.” He was sure she was about to shoot him down, ignore him or worse. Instead he was met with a look from her blue eyes. Again he was struck by a sense of the familiar but he couldn’t place it.

“Deirdre, nice to meet you Tim.” She went back to looking at her phone.

Tim was pleased as he took another bite of the chocolate. He glanced at his watch. “I have to go to class. Will you maybe be around later Deirdre?”

He began to pack up his books, shouldering his bag.

“Well I am around most of the day but I do have classes. Hopefully we can run into each other again.” She was smiling at him again and Tim stood.

“Great! I hope to see you later then!”

He walked off, practically in a run in order to make it to his class. He hoped he would run into her again.

Tim took a seat at the back of the class just as the professor began the day’s lecture. Human rights were the backbone of places like legal aid. Tim focused, made neat and precise notes. He wanted to help people.

An hour later, Tim headed off across campus to another class though this was anthropology and not nearly as engaging. His mind wandered during the talk to Deirdre and the fact that he felt like he had met her before. He went through years and years of memories from highschool and hockey games but he couldn’t place her. He resolved to ask her if he happened to run into her again.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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INK

Deirdre finished her bagel. She ignored the book of poetry, apprehensive about opening it again and reading more of that poem. As much as she wanted to pass it off as hunger something about that whole 'dream' she had left her unsettled. The memory unsettled her like she was having deja vu from someone else's life. She focused instead on other textbooks, lesson notes.

She yawned. The freedom was nice but this whole school thing was dull.

Her phone beeped. Deirdre checked the text message. It was one of her roommates, Heather.

Going partying tonight? You in?

She smirked.

You have to ask? Hitting classes now, be back around 5. Grab some chinese and then get ready?

She waited for the response and began to plan her outfit in her head. She didn’t own much in the way of ‘club’ clothes but she didn’t care. Deirdre liked to dance and liked the crowd, the feeling of being lost in the push of people.

Sounds good to me. Rebel?

Deirdre stood and grabbed her coat.

Nah we were just there and I don't like the sticky floor. Galaxy?

They hadn't tried that club out yet but she heard the music was great and the bartenders were hot. She hit send and gathered her books into her bag. She headed for her classes, thoughts of dancing, the thrum of the bass and the crowd filling her head.

Deirdre was barely able to concentrate as she sat through lecture after lecture, taking notes and highlighting things. She retained none of it but didn’t matter she would just read it again later.

In her last class she sat, her phone out and was busy flicking through media sites when she overheard three girls in the seats behind her.

“Did you hear about the girl they found? Her throat was like slit or something.”

"I heard the guy took her eyes out and you know...."

Deirdre frowned she hadn't looked at the news yet. In fact she rarely did preferring fashion sites or social media. Sure there would things about some girl being killed but she had looked at that. Who wanted to be reminded the world was a messed up place? She had her own life to take advantage of there was no time worrying about what happened to some random stranger.

“Eww...some real sickos out there. Let me guess boyfriend did it when he caught her cheating.”

Deirdre felt wave of guilt come over her. She shook it off, confused at to what caused it. She had never kissed a boy let alone had a boyfriend. She certainly had never cheated on anyone.

“There is nothing about a suspect but apparently she had been out with friends before they found her.”

“So like every other girl over seventeen in this city. Nothing new, they will catch the guy and he will turn out to be some loner who wanted a girlfriend and she turned him down.”

Deirdre frowned. Her phone buzzed with a text. She thought it would be Heather again but instead sighed.

Hi sweetie! How’s our princess? Just wanted to say hello and to find out how you were doing.

Deirdre hadn't seen the news but clearly her mom had. She heard about the girl, about the murder and next would come the text about being safe, studying instead of going out, a good girl makes sure to keep her grades up. Deirdre did not want to try and spend time assuring her mother that she was safe. Avoidance was for the best.

Hi mom, in class. Can’t talk.

Deirdre waited for it.

Oh sorry honey! Just wanted to say hello and remind you to study hard, and stay safe. Daddy says hi to his little girl. Glad you aren’t doing like other kids and ditching classes to party. You are our princess. Love you!

She almost gagged. They would never stop, she knew it. They wanted her back in ballet, back under the careful watch of teachers and choreographers. Grueling hours that didn’t allow for her to have a life or friends. They didn't want her safe, they wanted her under twenty four hour watch. They wanted her in class and on stage. She wanted to breathe and to have experiences. She wanted to make friends and spend time having fun. Deirdre loved performing, hell she loved practicing but she also wanted her life to be more than just that.

Love you too.

She shoved her phone into her pocket and settled in as the professor arrived.

By 4:20 she was ready to go home. She hadn’t run into Tim again, despite detouring through the student union on her way to her classes. Hat on her head and coat done up, Deirdre slung her messenger bag over her body and headed out onto the campus. It had cooled down even more though the rain stayed away. Her finger hit a button on her phone and music began playing in her ears. It drowned out the other sounds.

"cause it was trapped
Trapped between two lungs
It was trapped between two lungs
It was trapped between two lungs

And my running feet could fly
Each breath screaming: "We are all too young to die!"

Between two lungs it was released
The breath that passed from you to me
It flew between us as we slept
That slipped from your mouth into mine
It crept between two lungs”


She hummed along as she headed home. Ti was all Deirdre could do not to dance down the stree. She was young and had the whole night in front of her. Friends, dancing and fun. She smiled.

Heather was waiting for her, containers of rice and stir fry on the small table. “No one else is home yet.”

The blonde handed Deirdre the bag with the egg rolls. She dropped her bag by the couch and undid her coat as she took the greasy bag.

“All good, not in a rush anyway right?”

She sat cross legged on the couch opposite Heather. Deirdre bit into the egg roll. “Mmm, thank you for grabbing dinner.”

Heather nodded a spoonful of rice on its way to her mouth. They ate in silence for a time.

“Did you see the news?” Deirdre put a container down, her stomach full. Heather nodded, “That girl? Yeah I saw. That is why we go out in pairs.”

Deirdre nodded, “Guess you gotta be careful. She was blonde like you.” She smirked a little at her roommate.

Heather laughed, “Right cause us blonde girls we get all the attention from the crazies.”

By 7:00 everyone was home though only Heather and Deirdre were up for a night out. They showered and dressed. Deirdre opted for tight black jeans and a loose red shirt over a lacy black tank top. Flats completed her outfit while Heather had chosen a tight skirt and low cut tank top.

"It's the blonde hair that gets the attention. Gotcha." Deirdre teased as she looked her roommate over.

By 9:30 they were making their way to the subway. Deirdre couldn’t wait to get there.

They walked up to the club, the line was stretched out, though not as long as at other clubs. Heather dragged Deirdre to the front of the line. The bouncer looked both girls over and smiling let them in.

The sound hit them hard as soon as they opened the door. Deirdre felt her heart pound with excitement, matching the vibrating of her ribs from the beat. They checked their coats and headed into the crowd. As promised the music was good and the place was packed. There seemed to be more women than men but Deirdre didn't care. She was here to dance. Heather would be disappointed but she came for different reasons.

It didn't take long for the girls to get separated. It happened all the time in the clubs though at the end of the night they always met up, even when Heather was not going home.

Deirdre made her way onto the dance floor and was instantly taken into her dancing. She moved with the music the way only a natural dancer did. Everyone around her was moving, some with partners and some on their own like her. Song after song Deirdre danced. About the fourth song in she felt an arm circle her waist and a body moved against her. Deirdre looked over her shoulder at the person. The man was good looking though he had obviously been drinking.

She continued dancing, not pulling away from him right away. A little dancing isn't a big deal. The song came to an end and as the next one began the man spread his fingers wide across her stomach. He pulled her hard against him. Deirdre frowned and stopped dancing.

“Let’s move off the floor.”

His voice was in her ear and as he leaned down to talk to her he left behind bit of spittle. She turned in his arm and he smiled at her.

Deirdre shook her head and put her hands up defensively.

“You, me and a dark corner. I’ll buy you a drink even.” He leaned down to kiss her.

Deirdre stepped backwards, bumping into a girl who was dancing. “Sorry”

Her attention was back on the man as he took a step towards her. He was smiling as if it was a game.

“Gotta go.” Deirdre gestured with her thumb towards the exit and then turning made a beeline into the thick of the crowd. She was glad there were so many people. There were faces she recognized from school, from various classes but no one she knew really well.

She began to skirt the edge of the dance floor looking for a place to dance where her previous accouster would not find her. Given his state it wouldn’t take long for him to forget about her and turn his attention to some other poor girl. She hoped the bouncer threw him out before he got too aggressive.

Deirdre found a spot and began to dance again. A couple of songs later she felt a bit guilty. With the girl in the news and the way the drunk man had acted she knew she should tell someone. She made her way to the bar and waited until there was space to get a bartender’s attention.

A man with dark hair, dressed in black came over to her. He had just finished serving a pair of women when she had stepped up to the bar. “What can I get you?”

Deirdre shook her head, “Nothing I just wanted to report a guy with really roaming hands in the crowd. He is pretty wasted.”

The bartender nodded. “Right, never fails. Always one jackass at the beginning of the night.”

He reached over and picked up a phone. It was only moments later when two men approached the bar. The came to where Deirdre stood and asked for a description. She told them about the man and the pair headed out into the crowd. The bartender went back to serving drinks and Deirdre began to slowly walk with her hand on the bar. Her eyes were on the moving crowd hoping to spot the man.

There were a few tense minutes where she feared they would not find him in the large crowd. The men approached. Mister drooly was between them and they brought him over to Deirdre. Her back was straight and she lifted her chin as she looked him over.

“This him?”

A simple nod was all she gave and they immediately began to usher him outside. Deirdre felt better knowing he wouldn’t be bothering anyone here for the rest of the night and headed back to the dance floor.

She danced and danced. Sometimes she stopped to get a glass of water. The dark haired bartender always seemed happy to hand her a fresh glass and she in turn was happy to thank him.

Hours went by and she lost herself in the crowd and in the music. Around one in the morning the crowd began to thin out. She was content to keep going and enjoyed having more room.

Less people meant less people at the bar. Maybe I should go talk to him. Her stomach went tight with nerves as she contemplated the dark haired bartender.

With a deep inhale she set herself the task to talk to him. She headed to the bar and was immediately disappointed not to see him. She looked up and down the bar but only saw one other man and it wasn’t him. Deirdre’s fingers drummed on the bar. Could just walk away or....

She raised a hand hoping to get the other bartender’s attention. He had dark hair as well but his was tinted purple at the ends. His right ear was pierced with what looked like a sword. She leaned on the bar and kept her hand up. “Excuse me...”

Setting

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Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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INK

A number on a napkin. Arin had seen this a few times before. He or Shane often ended nights with a napkin like this. Yet, for Arin, this was a completely different feeling. Never was there a conquest comparison between he and Shane, like he’d seen with other barmen. Other women’s numbers always were viewed as a honour to receive. Yet, this seemed precious. Arin almost couldn’t bring himself to take it. As though he were taking something far more valuable. He was excited and humbled. Nervous and proud. He had proved himself but was afraid of making a mistake. Yet, he had to play it cool. He could not pass up this chance at getting this close and just missing it. He didn’t want to turn this into a missed opportunity. He hated those kind of stories.

He reached for the napkin, brushing her fingers as he grabbed it. Even though he was half expecting it the shock of familiarity took his breath away for a moment. Vivienne had taught him how to handle the flashbacks. How to let them play through without overwhelming. However, he had not had any contact with others yet. He had no experience with what a joint connection would be like.

Intense flashes of unquestioned loyalty, deep connection, comfort of being around each other, overcame him. A quick intake of breath and a tensing of his hand on the napkin were the outward signs of his flash. He hoped hers did not cause undue reactions. If she had one.

“Thank you Arey. I will call, soon. Hope you like motorcycles?”

Just then another group of patrons came to the bar. Shane was busy so it fell to Arin to accommodate them.

“I’m sorry, please excuse me. As much as I would love to continue with you, I do kind of want to keep my job,” he smiled and moved to take care of the new arrivals.

*

As the night went on and the crowd thinned, Arin had more idle time. He found his thoughts coming back to Arey and Guin. Finally, he had found her. He would have to tell Vivienne, but he wanted to get to know her first. He didn’t want Arey learning about her past life to cloud anything they might have naturally. Viv would be pissed, but he would deal with that later. Could he tell Kat? Would Kat help him or go right to Viv?

A voice interrupted his thoughts. He looked up and saw a pretty brunette waving him down. He hadn’t seen her tonight. She was certainly pretty. No doubt she had her share of attention this evening. Arin nodded at her and started to move toward her. Just then Shane walked out from the back room. He saw the woman and Arin starting to move. He gave Arin their sign for, ‘I got this.’ Arin smiled and let Shane handle it.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott
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INK

The other bartender was attractive enough and she might have been more interested in him if he had been helping her but he wasn’t. He nodded and started to come over. The dark haired one, the one who had helped her appeared and interrupted his action. He came over to lean on the bar in front of her.

“What can I get for you?”

He gave her a smile and Deirdre could not help but smile back. He seemed like the type at ease with charming the women who approached the bar. She was out of her element but that is what she wanted, the whole reason she had fought to go to school. Something new and exciting.

“Water please.”

He raised an eyebrow, surprised at her choice. “Wait a second. A college girl not using a fake i.d. to score a drink. I didn’t think they existed.”

Deirdre shrugged. “What can I say? I came to dance, not fall over drunk.”

As if to illustrate her point two stumbling girls came towards the bar. One tripped, bumping Deirdre and her friend tried to hold her up. All the while the two laughed.

The bartender glanced at them and shook his head before moving to get her water. He returned and placed the glass in front of her. He rested his elbows on the bar, leaning so that they were closer and conversation could be done at a more reasonable volume.

Deirdre took a drink and then stood there for a moment. She glanced to the dance floor as if thinking before turning back to face him.

“I wanted to thank you for calling the bouncers. The guy was being creepy and I was afraid he was going to get worse as the night went on.”

The man shrugged, “Part of the job is dealing with the jerks. Some guys don’t know how to be subtle.”

Deirdre nodded, “Or some girls.”

Her eyes moved to the people dancing. She watched as a girl in a short skirt ground herself against a guy. And they call that dancing... They weren’t even moving to the music, just dry humping each other on the dance floor.

She turned her attention fully to the bartender again. Deirdre took a drink, her glass now half empty. She was trying to kill the awkward silence. Deirdre put the glass down.

“Thanks for the water and thank you again.”

With that Deirdre turned and walked away. She felt like a fool. He didn’t seem very interested and she was terrible at flirting. Nerves and embarrassment mingled now and she couldn’t decide if she should try and leave or go dance. If she stayed, she vowed not to go back near the bar. A glance back saw another girl take her place and the bartender was making short work of talking to her. He was playing with her hair. Deirdre turned away from the bar.

The music was still good and the crowd had thinned a bit more which left more room for her to dance. It felt good to be back on the floor. The failed attempt at flirting was forgotten as Deirdre moved with the music. She danced for a few more songs before the water caught up to her. Deirdre headed to the ladies room. She was about two feet away when a man barrelled out of restroom door and right into her.

“Hey!”

They collided and he kept going while she barely kept herself upright.

“Asshole!”

She moved to the bathroom door just as a blonde girl came to the doorway and shouted for 911. Wasting no time Deirdre pulled her phone from her pocket and dialed 911. She ran in behind the blonde.

Another girl was laying on the floor. Deirdre’s eyes went wide and she slid to the floor as the blonde began CPR.

“911 What is your emergency?”

The phone was to her ear. “I need an ambulance at Galaxy. A girl is unconscious in the bathroom. A-another woman is doing CPR.”

She looked to the blonde. Deirdre watched her. She was scared but something about blonde made her feel better.

“An ambulance is en route. Stay on the line with me. Does she have a pulse?”

Deirdre looked to the blonde. She did not want to interrupt the CPR so she leaned in herself and pressed a hand to the unconscious girls neck.

“Yes but it is faint. She isn’t breathing though.”

The operator’s voice broke through the growing fear, “Okay keep doing CPR they will be there soon. Stay on the line with me.”

Deirdre looked at the blonde. “She says keep going. You are doing great.”

Arey recognized that someone had followed her back into the bathroom and was dialing 9-1-1, but she didn’t really pay attention to who it was, as her focus was all on the girl she was giving CPR to. This wasn’t the first time she encountered someone in immediate distress, it wasn’t even her first time giving CPR, but for some reason Arey felt panicked, and emotionally invested in saving this girl in a way that made little sense. No one wanted to watch someone die if they had to power to help, but the way Arey felt wasn’t natural. It was like her entire world revolved around saving this girl, and Arey couldn’t explain why. The very thought of failure made her feel like she might shatter.

Deirdre's eyes were on the blonde as she worked hard on the prone girl. She did not know what happened in here but she was sure it had something to do with the jerk that had run into her.

"Does the woman still have a pulse?"

The voice on the phone startled Deirdre. She was focused on the blonde as she worked so frantically. Something about her face, the distress and panic in her eyes that bother Deirdre a great deal. It pulled at her like a weight in her chest. She wanted to reach out and help, to do something but she also did not want to be in the way. Her fingers went to the victim's neck. The once faint beat was now gone.

Her voice cracked, "N-no...there is no pulse now."

Minutes passed, and Arey kept up the CPR, though the girl remained unresponsive. She couldn’t even find a pulse anymore, which was a very bad sign. What they needed was a bloody AED Arey thought cursing as she went back to pumping her chest, desperately trying to keep oxygenated blood flowing. Arey had basically dissolved into a mindless rhythm, tears flowing freely down her face, when paramedics finally arrived. One had to haul her off the girl, when Arey proved to be unresponsive to their orders, before they applied the AED. Arey broke down in sobs after the first failed attempt still left the girl unresponsive, and after the second, she felt inconsolable.

The bathroom was suddenly full of people. Deirdre had tears in her eyes. She watched as the paramedics pulled the blonde away. They began working. Deirdre backed off and hung up her phone not saying anything more to the operator. it was slipped into her pocket and she moved to be closer to the blonde. Not just move. She had the overwhelming urge to be close, to console her. The woman was sobbing as she watched the paramedics work. Deirdre's eyes were not on the scene but the anguish in the woman's face.

Deirdre wrapped her arms around the blonde and hugged her tightly. She was quiet. The sounds of the paramedics were overwhelming. The bathroom was small and suddenly felt claustrophobic. Deirdre put her head down towards the girl's shoulder and closed her eyes.

Suddenly everything went very quiet. Deirdre hugged the blonde a little tighter. Things felt odd, as if they two were apart from the entire scene. Almost like a dream. There was an odd feeling of comfort, her arms around the woman like this.

Rationally, Arey couldn't explain why she was this upset. Feeling bad that she hadn't been able to save the girl who had been attacked would be understandable. Being in shock and going into a funk would be normal. This wasn't normal, a very small and rational voice that she recognized as her own was chanting it like a prayer in her head, but that did little to console her. Arey felt overwhelmed by the feeling of crushing failure. Faces she didn't recognize seemed to flash across her mind, each like a dagger to her heart that brought on such unbelieveable guilt that all Arey wanted to do was crawl into a bawl and die.

Then Arey felt arms circling around her, and she felt such immediate comfort and safety that she felt shaken in an entirely new way. Her mind was whirling and chaotic, and Arey felt like she was suddenly competing for space in her own head as another, stronger presence reared up; a tidal wave of chaos that was once the calm waters of her mind.

All will be well, dear heart. Deirdre suddenly felt like her thoughts were not her own. Yet, it felt entirely right as she held the woman. The woman was taller than she by a few inches and Deirdre rested her head close to her shoulder. It felt natural. She felt like she had been here, in this position before and on numerous times. It also felt like there was more than just comfort in the embrace. She stepped a bit closer and one hand reached up to stroke the woman's hair. Deirdre's eyes closed.

She wanted to say something but there were no words that formed. Every fibre of her being wanted to comfort her, to make her believe that she had done all she could. Deirdre opened her eyes.

Gone was the bathroom. Gone were the body on the ground and the paramedics. Instead there were stone walls and a stone floor. A tapestry hung on the wall in front of her. There was the smell of dirt, blood and sweat. She was still holding the woman, the blonde but something was different.

"The war is not lost, dear heart. There will be many more battles to come. You are stronger than those that oppose you."

"I am just a man Guin. How can I be what they need me to be? I do not know how to be a king...be everything they say I'll be. I can't even lead my men to victory in battle, how can I lead a kingdom?" Arey's voice shook with self doubt and despair, except it wasn't her voice at all. It was a man's voice, completely strange and yet hauntingly familiar. A part of her drew immeasurable comfort from this vision, but there was also pain and an aching sorrow that lingered as well.

Her face moved slightly, snuggling in closer to his neck. She inhaled deeply. The smell of him, even under the coppery scent of blood was comforting. He had returned to her.

"My heart, you are a man and it is because you are a man that they follow you. There was victory today. Not in the battle but in what you learned of those you fight. Those men followed you into battle because they believe in you Arthur, as a man and as their ruler. Not because of what Merlin says but because your men trust in the man you are. A kingdom is not built on prophecies and predictions. It is built by the work of men and those that follow them. Those men learn from defeat and fight harder against those that would bring them down. That is why you are stronger than those who would see the kingdom fall. That is why your men swore their loyalty to you and follow you into battle. They believe in you as Arthur, the man. As long as you have faith in them and the things you hold dear, they will follow you. That is what makes you the king you are."

Her face lifted. "I believe in you Arthur."

They were not just words. She loved him. She also fiercely stood by him. Every part of her knew with a certainty that Arthur was a leader. She was not fond of Merlin, there was even rumour that the man had told Arthur not to marry her and that she should have been drown at her birth but she did believe him when he said that Arthur was destined to be a great king. Guinevere knew this to be true. She knew the man, knew that he was a leader and king.

"I would be lost without you." The man who was not Arey declared with such sincere emotion as he clutched the woman tightly, one large calloused hand gently cradling her cheek. Arey felt overwhelmed by him, his love and devotion to this woman so strong that she began to feel it as well. As he rested their forehead against that of the woman's, their lips meeting in a desperate mash, Arey felt stripped bare by the sheer intimacy of the moment.

Her body was crushed tightly against him. She met his eyes as the hand came to her cheek. Deirdre was overwhelmed. The kiss took her breath away and she desired to be closer.
Deirdre could think of nothing else.

"Clear!" The voice of one of the paramedics shouted as they tried for the third time to start the girl's heart with the AED. "I got a pulse, grab a respirator and get her on the stretcher!" Arey was brought out of the hallucination suddenly, by the sound of the AED, only to find herself lip locked with the girl who had hugged her after calling 9-1-1. Arey jumped back as if burned, feeling shaken and confused, and very much in shock, as she managed to do little except stare and offer a token apology that resulted from instinct than any real thought process. "Sorry, I'm really not gay..."

Deirdre was brought back to the bathroom. Gone were the stone walls and floor. She was still holding the blonde but they were kissing. The woman jumped away and Deirdre's eyes were wide, one hand on her lips. They were staring at each other. There were words, an apology but she did not really register them.

Arey couldn't really process what was happening, and she wasn't sure how much time had passed when once of the paramedics cornered her. "Jesus, those are goinging to be some serious bruises on your neck. Were you assulted too? Do you need medical attention?" Arey just blinked, feeling dazed. Words simply wouldn't form when she tried. "She's in shock. Joe grab her a blanket. You should really come with us to get checked out, I see blood. The police are going to want to talk to you anyway."

Deirdre stood there as a paramedic led the blonde away a short distance. They were treating her and Deirdre looked around. Everyone was busy and it was a good time to get away. She was confused and a little freaked out but she wanted to leave. She slipped out of the bathroom. It was easily done with paramedics and police more concerned with the body and the blonde.

The blonde Leaving felt wrong. A part of Deirdre wanted to go back to stand with her as she talked to the police but she shook this away. The club was emptying of dancers. It appeared only the staff and a few scragglers remained in the building. She took this as a cure to head out.

“D! Hey D!”

Deirdre’s head whipped around to look for the source of the voice. Heather stood in the crowd. They lined the street watching with morbid curiosity. Her feet carried her quickly to her roommate.

“Let’s go.” Deirdre grabbed her hand and began pulling her through the crowd.

“What the hell? Deirdre, what is with the rush? Did you see what happened? Come on slow down!”

Deirdre was on a mission to get out of there as fast as she could. Her lips still felt like she was being kissed. Her first real intimate kiss and she did not know what to think of the whole thing.

“Deirdre!”

The woman turned and looked at her roommate. “Heather I don’t want to talk about it right now okay?”

She dropped her hand and walked off. Her roommate’s heels clattered on the cement as she ran to catch up. “Okay, okay....”

They walked in silence to the subway and remained that way all the way home. There were short good nights and Deirdre closed the door of her room and sat on the floor with her back against it. Her face went into her hands and she began to cry. Her shoulders shook with the force of the sobs.

She felt guilty, sad, elevated, desired and simply overwhelmed by the crazy mix of emotions that were running through her. She did not understand what had gone on but she did know that what she thought she saw, the stone room and the man felt entirely too real.

The kiss was certainly real. The woman seemed as confused as Deirdre. Did she have the same vision?

The tears slowed and Deirdre pulled herself up and into bed. Maybe it was just adrenaline.... A weak reasoning to attempt to get herself to calm down. Not bothering to undress she laid down.

Sleep came out of exhaustion but her dreams were filled with the man, his arms around her, his voice and his kiss.

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The ride to the hospital was mostly a blur for Arey. There were too many thoughts and emotions running through her head, but nothing to focus on. Trying to organize her thoughts at the moment felt like grasping at smoke; it was there, she could feel it, but she couldn’t grab hold. It didn’t take the doctors long to patch her up, considering how superficial her wounds were, and soon she was led to wait in the room with the other girl, who was apparently still unconscious, but stable. She spent the next half hour in a daze, replying to texts from her friends, assuring them she was alright. Probably condemned to wearing scarves for the next week or so, but alright just the same. She’d probably be out on the field again right as rain Monday morning, Arey thought fondly, though she wished she could dismiss the psychological trauma as easily.

It was probably just the stress of the situation she reasoned, or maybe the bloke just liked weird colored contact lenses. Who knew what kind of freaky stuff that guy had been into? The weird vision she’d shared during her hug feast with the brunette from the club however, was a little harder to write off, but she had just been assaulted and emotionally seemed to be all over the map, so maybe it was just a byproduct of the stress? Arey wasn’t left to stew for long however, as the detective she’d been told would want to talk to her arrived.

“Arianna Trescott? I’m Detective Velazquez. I’m here to ask you a few questions about your attacker.” The man who walked in had dark features, and looked vaguely Hispanic, though Arey couldn’t have told you from where. He was also handsome, and seemed pretty young to be a detective. He couldn’t have been older than twenty-five she guessed, but there was also an air of confidence and competence about him that also put her at ease.

“Shoot.” Arey replied quietly, arms crossing across her front. He asked her to describe the attack, and any details about the attacker she could. Arey recounted the story fairly calmly, tossing in her suspicions about the guy possibly drugging his victims as well.

“Her tox screen hasn’t come back yet, but we’ll keep that in mind.” Detective Velazquez said putting his pad away. The rape kit hadn’t been completed yet either, but he was fairly certain this wasn’t their guy. The captain had sent him sniffing on this one, seeing as their perp seemed to have a taste for pretty young college girls as of late. This wasn’t his M.O. though, too sloppy, and he never did his victims in the clubs. Those were his hunting grounds, not his place of action. The brass still wasn’t willing to call him a serial killer, partially due to his choice in victims being all over the place, and partially due to the panic that would ensue. A more concrete pattern was forming though, and that was bad news for the women of New York.

“Need a ride home?” David Velazquez offered the poor exhausted looking girl. The thought of her walking home alone left a gnawing pit in his stomach. Young, blonde hair and big blues eyes, his perp’s M.O. personified not five feet away. The worst part of working serial killer cases, was getting in their demented head space. Everywhere he looked, he saw potential victims, fitting them into behavioral patterns and analyzing the likelihood of them making the cut. It was exhausting to deal with, and more than a little disturbing for the young detective. Perhaps for this reason, David felt strangely protective of this girl. She agreed to the ride, and twenty minutes later, after being discharged, he drove her back to her dorm before calling his boss to give a status report.

Once Arey got home, the first thing she did was take a shower. She still felt numb, but the hot water helped. She felt drained emotionally, too much happening too quickly, and the only thing she felt like doing now was sleeping in, which was what she was planning on doing, falling into a restless sleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.

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The man was there. He had his arms around her. He leaned in to kiss her, just as he had before. It was hard and passionate. Her body leaned into him....

Deirdre gasped. Her dream, the kiss had left her breathless. She rolled to her back and stared into the darkness of her room. The evenings events had left her exhausted and feeling drained. Her clock said it was only forty five minutes she since had gone to bed.

She rolled to her side again and curled herself up under her blanket. She did not know who the man was but she knew him. Her very core knew him and wanted him. Deirdre felt shaken and raw. On top of that the woman, the blonde in the bathroom seemed to have something to do with it all. Deirdre could still feel her lips on her own.

Was I drugged? Were we hallucinating?

She knew the vision and the dreams weren’t real yet they were very tangible and very familiar, as if she were reliving things, events she had already done. It was not her though it was her. Deirdre was confused.

Her eyes slowly grew heavier. Her breathing slowed and grew even.

She stood at the window. The walls of the castle, the fortress were visible. She knew it would take a great deal for them to find her here. One pale hand slipped into her hair, brushing it from her face. It was tangled and dishevelled, falling from its stays but she did not care.

She placed her hands on the stone sill. It was cold under her palms.

She felt a fool for being caught off guard. She had wanted to see the dancing at the maypole, to see the festivities. The court routinely went though this year the king and his knights were gone away. She had put together the group who attended. She did not consider that anyone might come after her on this day. Her guards had not been enough to stop them.

Guinevere had gone with Meleagant to spare the slaughter of her men. She could not have them killed simply to defend her when they were so clearly outnumbered. She went but first gave one of the ladies in waiting her ring. She told her to get it to Arthur at any cost. To tell him what had happened and that she was safe.

Now she was in this room, in one of the towers of his keep. Meleagant had put her here and had no intention of letting her go.

“Dearheart worry not for me. I am safe.”

Guinevere stared out the window and imagined Arthur’s face as he was given her ring and told that she had been taken. It pulled at her heart to know that she would cause him such distress.


In her bed Deirdre tossed and turned. A light sweat broke out on her skin and she cried out softly.

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The shouts for 911 shocked him. Galaxy wasn’t typically the kind of place that inspired violence. Arin looked up and saw the pretty brunette heading toward Arey. Arey, bloodstained, looking shocked and yelling for help. Arin barely resisted the urge to hurtle the bar and go to her. It seemed that brunette was taking care of it. He felt an unexpected sense of calm, “It’s taken care of. They have it.”

Arin shook his head. He wanted to talk to that brunette now, and he especially wanted to make sure Arey was okay, but he needed to keep the other patrons calm.

Eventually he saw Arey coming out with paramedics. He looked for the brunette and caught a glimpse of her as she snuck out the door. Obviously she didn’t want to deal with the the questions. Arin cursed his not approaching her faster when she waved him down. At least to find out her name. There was something about her that he wanted to know. He was distracted from those thoughts as he once again noticed Arey, looking a little worse for wear, being escorted outside. Of all the times to be tied to work. He wished he could easily walk away, but he did need the job.

Finally, after answering his own set of questions from uniformed officers gather routine eye witness statements, he was able to close up and go home. He talked with Shane but found out his co-worker did not get the brunette’s number either. She hadn’t even introduced herself, so Arin still didn’t know her name. With mixed feelings he headed home. Excited about meeting Arey, but vexed with the brunette.

He went up to his apartment, which was thankfully empty. It was even odds that Kat had decided to get some quiet time and fallen asleep on his couch. Tonight he had the place to himself. He briefly thought it was too bad Arey wasn’t able to come home with him, but remembered she was kind of occupied with other business. That memory brought back some worry and he took out the napkin with her number, considering if it was too late to call to see if she was okay. He decided to call her first thing tomorrow and placed the number by his phone.

He took a hot shower, trying to relax before heading to bed. It partially worked, as he fell asleep quickly, but his sleep was not uneventful.

He was gathered with other newly knighted men. His new lord, Arthur, stood as he received the Queen’s lady with a message. Lancelot heard the lady say that the Queen was being held prisoner. He watched Arthur blanch. Though he was newly sworn a knight he found it too difficult to stand by while his lord and king was distressed, “Your grace, tell us what you need. We will act as your right hand and ensure this villain knows the critical mistake he made by daring abduct our Lady.”

A few other knights nodded and agreed with Lancelot’s proclamation. Lancelot waited for his King’s order.

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“Not quite.” The professor drawled, ignoring Martin’s snarky comments for the most part. He had come to associate such behavior from the boy from their brief association, and it wasn’t something he felt a particular need to correct. “I would advise however, you not let her touch you. Succubuses, nasty bottom feeders that they are, tend to be rather aggressive around individuals such as yourself.” He continued, not bothering to hide the distain in his voice.

“Tonight, you are going to learn how to break their thrall if approached. Then if we get around to it, we’ll cover how to torture one for information.” His smile was shark like, hungry but without malice. The hungry little unseelie inside had information he wanted; like what the new player on the scene looked like. He’d had his little birds out watching Vivienne’s errand girl for a while now, and it appeared they’d finally found one. Was it Arthur? There was really no telling, but it was enough of a possibility that he wanted to know exactly who this young man was, and what he looked like.

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Arthur had never before felt such rage; the need to draw blood and inflict pain never an urge so tempting. He wanted to hear the crunch of bone beneath his foot, and slash apart the man who dared to steal the light of his life. The urge to cause Meleagant pain was an all-consuming one, and for a moment Arthur felt a darkness trying to creep into his heart, but carefully he shoved it away. It would not help his love to act in rash anger, only to alleviate his own guilt and worry, which Arthur felt he did not deserve. When one of his newly sworn knights, Sir Lancelot, spoke, Arthur welcomed the distraction and listened. The man was charismatic and passionate as he spoke, and the young king felt a mixture of admiration and envy.

“Meleagant wishes to draw us into open warfare. His Cliff side fortress would give him the clear advantage in any battle we waged. We will need to outwit him if we are to rescue my Lady wife.” Arthur responded after a moment, quieting the call for blood that sang in his veins.

“Indeed.” Chimed in an old though sharp voice as the cloaked and wizened figure of Merlin appeared, and made his way to the king. “Fortunately for you my king the paranoia of kings past has left its mark through their masons.” The old wizard said smiling as he pulled out a roll of old parchment from his cloak. "There is another way to enter your foe's fortress."

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Lancelot leaned in to watch the old man unroll the parchment. His eyes widened as the contents became clear. The entire layout of of this Meleagant’s fortress was laid out. Lancelot’s eyes scanned the information quickly. Lancelot thrust his finger toward the parchment, almost shoving aside the old man’s hand, “Here, Your Grace...”

The old man raised an eyebrow, “Yes. As this over enthusiastic young knight has astutely pointed out, there is a less than used ingress that would allow a means to extract the Lady. However, the fortress is well manned, and this is not the way for an army to enter.”

Lancelot had the grace to look chagrined as the old man rebuked him, yet quickly turned his attention back to the parchment. He pointed at an isolated room, “This is where she would be.”

Another raised eyebrow silenced Lancelot and he stepped back. He looked up at Arthur.

As Arthur gazed at the parchment, he was filled with a growing sense of purpose. The man within him wanted nothing more than to ride through the night and storm through the secret passage to rescue his captive love himself, and damned be anyone who stood between them. His inner tactician however, recognized how foolish a plan that would be. The best way to ensure his Lady’s safe escape from the fortress could not allow such reckless passion on his part. He needed to be smart, and keep his wits about him.

“I will lead a company of men toward the gates as if to do battle. By doing so Meleagant will focus all his attention there. He wishes to see me dead, and will be distracted by that goal.” Arthur began explaining, grabbing a stick from the ground and drawing up a crude map of their positions. “This will provide an opportunity for one knight to slip through the passage, rescue the queen, and take her back to the safety of Camelot.” He finished.

“The gate is where he wants you Arthur. By doing this you play to his hand. Do not forget that Meleagant is a practitioner of magic, and has proven himself to be a master of trickery and dishonorable conduct. He may try to curse you from his tower above without ever mobilizing his own men.” Merlin warned, as he was made uneasy by his King’s willingness to put himself in such a vulnerable position.

“No, he is also a man ruled by emotion and pride. He would not be satisfied with defeating me thusly. He would much rather run me through and watch; nothing else will temp Meleagant and his men from their fortress. There is no other way.” Arthur argued back, mind already made up. Merlin looked aggrieved with the decision, but spoke no more against it. Arthur turned to his knights, appraising them all as he tried to decide who to send through the passage. He did not doubt the intent or loyalty of any of his men, but he would need the knight who was the most tenacious and unyielding, to protect his wife. One among them stood out from the rest.

“Lancelot,” Arthur said solemnly as he turned to his young knight. “I would trust you with my most sacred treasure. Protect her with your life; bring her home.”

*

She sat, straight backed and hands in her lap. Meleagant had sent a servant with a tray for her but she refused to eat. Guinevere did not think he wished to hurt her but she was not willing to take chances. He himself, had not come to see her since he escorted her to the room but she knew at some point he would come to discuss what he wanted of her. She knew her guards were in a nearby room since she could hear them if she moved to the locked door. Guinevere took comfort in their still being alive and unhurt.

The queen knew that by now her husband had received her ring and was likely working out a plan for her rescue. Guinevere stood and crossed to the window again. The room was high up and the castle itself in a position of power. Any attack Arthur might wage would surely be for naught. Meleagant held the power here and while she knew Arthur to be a great leader and tactician she could not see how he could lay siege to such a fortress without losing many men. Her eyes lowered to the stone of the sill.

“Impenetrable....”

*

Lancelot made his way through the halls of the keep. He had found no resistance at the entrance. Other than avoiding a few servants there was very little activity. Meleagant had pulled all available resources to his battle with Arthur’s main force.

He found his way to the isolated section of the keep where he suspected the Queen would be held. Here, finally, he found some opposition. Two men left behind. The minimum to secure Meleagant’s prize. There would be no avoiding them and Lancelot would not attempt to back stab them. He would face them head on.

“Men, surrender your prisoner quietly. Arthur has come to reclaim what was stolen from him,” Lancelot stood, sword drawn, at the end of the hallway.

The two men turned, surprised to be challenged. After a brief hesitation to gather their wits they drew their weapons and charged.

Lancelot used the confines of the hallway to his advantage. Gracefully circling to keep the two men from being able to attack him simultaneously. He fought defensively in order to control the flow of the encounter. The clash of swords echoed in the hallway. Finally Lancelot found the opening he needed. A clumsy attempt as one guard attacked over the other. With a quick parry, Lancelot entangled the two men’s weapons and struck. With a quick reverse cut he was able to disable both men before either could counter. He quickly ensure neither man would be able to raise any alarm or report. Bloodied but unhurt he quickly found the first door and pushed it open.

Guinevere turned at the sound of a man’s voice stating that Arthur had come to reclaim her. She was positive however that it was not Arthur in the hallway. It was not his voice she heard nor was it the voice of any knight she recognized.

She moved quickly to the door. Outside in the hall there was the sound of swords clanging together. Men grunted with effort. Then it went quiet. Guinevere backed away from the door as someone undid the lock and opened the door. Her eyes quickly looked for something to defend herself with.

Guin darted to the tray the servant had left. She grabbed a chalice, silver and heavy. The liquid contents were dumped and she lifted it as if to wield it like a club.

Her eyes were on the door and the figure who moved inside. “Who are you and why do you use my lord husband’s name so freely?”

It was then that her eyes fell on the tabard. He was one of Arthur’s knights. Guinevere lowered the chalice as she looked the knight over. She did not recognize him which meant he was a newly appointed knight, someone from Arthur’s recent journey away.

“Your name good knight?”

Lancelot fell to one knee and bowed his head as the Queen addressed him, “My lady, you may call me Lancelot, if it pleases you. I use your husband, and my king’s name, as it was he who sent me here to assist your journey back to Camelot.”

Guinevere tilted her head, a smile gracing her lips. “Rise Lancelot. This is not the time for such formality.”

She placed the chalice haphazardly on the tray once more and crossed the room to him.

“Let us leave here.”

Guinevere looked down at him.

“There is always time for respect, my lady,” he rose as he said this, looking at her fully for the first time. She was beautiful, more so than any story could do justice. He found himself briefly lost in the blue depths of her eyes. With a cough, he blushed and moved further into the room.

“Yes. Leave. Are there others?” he tried to avoid being caught staring again, but found it quite difficult to keep his eyes off her.
Guinevere felt like time stopped briefly as he looked at her. Lancelot stood. She felt as if her heart might beat out of her chest. Her stomach tightened. Guinevere felt her cheek flush slightly.

“Yes.”

She watched him move away and felt as if she should move towards him but remained where she stood. Her head turned to look towards the door.

“Yes, my men are locked in a room close by. I surrendered to Meleagant’s demands to stop him from slaughtering them.”

Guin turned to look once more at Lancelot. Her eyes drifted over his form. Her eyes took in the blood. “Are you hurt?”

She crossed to stand in front of him again. Her voice was low and throaty as she drew near. She felt her pulse quicken once more. “If you are wounded we should tend to it quickly and then free my men.”

Lancelot resisted the urge to embrace her. Though he almost wished he was wounded if only to be attended to by her. He shook his head, “No, my lady. The men outside were not a challenge to a knight on a righteous and honourable quest.”

He could not bring himself to move away from her and yet the urge to reach out and touch her was torturous to resist, “Yes, your men. It would be good news indeed for Arthur to hear that the Queen’s guard were still alive as well.”

Though Lancelot could only imagine the blow to their honour they were feeling. The Queen captured and the guard without a loss.

Guinevere was relieved he was not hurt. There was more than relief there, though she could not name what it was for certain.

“Yes, good news.”

They were standing very close and she could smell the coppery scent of the blood. Despite it she could not bring herself to move away. Her eyes found his and stayed there.

“We should leave. Arthur shall be waiting.”

At the mention of his name Guinevere felt her blood drain from her face. “Where is Arthur?” She turned to look to the hall. “Where are the other guards? Meleagant?”

Fear gripped her and she reached out to grasp Lancelot’s arm.

“Have no fear. The king has engaged the villain’s forces, drawing them out of the keep to allow my furtive entrance. There is time,” He looked down at the hand holding his arm, stuck between willing it to release him or for it to run up his arm to his face.

Guinevere’s eyes were full of distress and concern. She knew that engaging Arthur, hoping to kill him is what Meleagant wanted.

“We should not delay any longer. The sooner we return to him, the better...”

She pulled her eyes from Lancelot’s to her hand that gripped him lightly. Her fingers relaxed and for a moment her hand lingered, gently on his arm. Guinevere let her hand slip from him. A faint blush stained her cheeks now and she looked away demurely.

“I will follow you Lancelot.”

Gathering his focus back to the task on hand, Lancelot found the Queen’s Guard, “Come men. We must escort the Queen back to Camelot. The King awaits.”

There was a general cheer and clattering as the men rose to Lancelot’s call. They quickly searched nearby rooms to find what equipment they could and Lancelot lead the way back. He attempted to stay as near to Guinevere as he could.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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Outwardly, Kat merely shrugged at Tim’s compliment, but internally she preened at the positive attention. She really did like making him blush too, it was almost like a game, and one she was rapidly becoming addicted to. Kat contented herself with ogling some of Tim’s finer anatomy while he went about his business clearing his schedule and contacting his coworkers. Similarly she enjoyed watching his face as he tried processing all the information she’d thrown at him at once before diving in with his questions. Kat wasn’t entirely sure how to answer them all, but she’d try to be as honest as possible.

“Right, which is why finding him is so important. The city itself is crawling with Unseelie, but dark fae aren’t the only monsters crawling around in the shadows. There’s a whole other world within our own that most humans are never aware of, but it’s dangerous, and there’s no telling how the other supernatural creatures are going to react to him.” Kat began a bit cryptically. “He should be completely human, but a soul spending that much time in the Fae world has to do something to it, chosen or not, the same with all of you.” She continued, and a rather disturbing thought came to mind. “For all we know, you guys could be some kind of walking talking power boosts to these guys.” It was already becoming a more common occurrence to see rogue vampires try to drink fae blood to increase their own power or break a sire bond, and though successful cases of these abductions were rare, they weren’t unheard of. And that was just vampires.

Sometimes, the biggest monsters didn’t have fangs. From personal experience, Kat knew the human variety could be much more cruel. Hoping her face didn’t show just how disturbed that line of thinking made her feel, Kat jumped to his next question. “Honestly, we don’t know how many of you there are. It could be the whole court of Camelot, or maybe just the ones the Gleaming deemed necessary to help Arthur protect the world. We don’t really make the executive orders on this, we’re just the cleanup crew.” Kat tried to explain, though she felt she was probably just making this more confusing.

“Arin seems pretty sure Guinevere’s here, and given their past life history, that could mean a lot of things. Maybe he just really wants her to be here, so he sees and feels what he wants to convince himself that she is. Maybe you all actually do have the ability to sense each other on some level, I couldn’t say.” Kat tried to supply, feeling pretty useless on this end. “Arin will know more on that end than me, but even he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience with that, you being the first knight we’ve found and all.”
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Steel clashing, horses screaming, and pain, maddening and unbelievably all-consuming pain. She was in agony, as she felt every muscle in her body feel like they were being torn apart. She wanted to scream, but it felt like the air was being sucked from her lungs. She smelt horses and fire, saw darkness and trees, but she didn’t know where she was, stuck between her own conciseness and a hauntingly vivid memory that was not her own. There was a man there with a sword, his eyes dark and gleeful, looking drunk on victory. She was going to die, she couldn’t breathe and a maniac had a lethal looking sword pointed her way. She felt so confused, everything hurt, she didn’t know where she was, and a looming sadness pressed in upon her. This was it, she’d never see Guin again…

AREY! AREY WAKE UP!” A voice screamed nearby. Somehow, amongst the fighting and the chaos around her it seemed out of place. Arey…she was Arey, and with that realization strikingly blue eyes snapped open and Arey began gasping desperately for breath, choking a bit on much needed air in the process.

“Thank god! Jesus Christ Arey, you scared the shit out of me!” Amanda blubbered, looking the most rattled Arey had ever seen her. “What happened?” Arey asked groggily, her voice sounding horse and gravely to her own ear. She felt sore all over, but it was quickly fading, more like a remembered pain than an actual injury. The feeling was bizarre.

“You just started screaming! I tried waking you up, but then you kind of…seized up or something and stopped breathing! I didn’t know what to do!” Amanda explained looking entirely lost and shaken up. “Should we go to the hospital? Oh god, I should have called 911. You stopped breathing and I just sat here shaking your shoulders like an idiot. Oh my god, Jesus Christ I’m stupid.” Amanda began rambling, and Arey reached out to grab her shoulder.

“Hey, it’s ok. I’m fine, just a bad dream.” Arey tried to reassure her friend, who countered with a disbelieving look. “A bad dream? Are you kidding me? Arey you looked like you were having a fucking seizer!” Arey just shrugged her shoulders, not really sure how to reply. It wasn’t like she had any clue what had just happened either.

“Was it about what happened last night?” Amanda asked gently, as if just remembering that her friend had been assaulted the night before. Trauma was known to do a lot of funny things to people after all.

“I don’t really remember what it was about.” Arey lied. She had no idea how to explain what had just happened, and she definitely didn’t want to talk about it. She’d been having a lot of weird dreams lately, but this was the first one she really remembered well, and she had no idea what it meant, much less how to explain it to someone else.

“Ok fine. I’m gonna go grab us some coffees. You try and move around and look less…traumatized alright?” Amanda finally said with a sigh before leaving the dorm. Arey could tell she needed to work off the tension, so she probably wouldn’t be back for about an hour, which left Arey alone with her thoughts.

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Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering
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Deirdre was shaking as she slowly woke. She wasn’t sick but everything felt off. Why the hell am I dreaming about Lancelot and Guinevere?

She slowly sat up in her bed. Her body ached as if she had been extremely active though it was only her mind that had been working overtime. Deirdre ran her hands across her face and then looked at them. They were shaking. I feel like a junky who hasn’t gotten high in days and needs a hit.

Deirdre shifted in her bed, placing her feet on the floor. When I was in the bathroom, when the blonde kissed me....the vision I called her Arthur...Why the hell am I hallucinating Camelot?

Even the thought of the blonde, of Arthur made her blood race. She was overwhelmed with guilt and desire.

“What the fuck is wrong with me?”

Her head hung in her hands as she softly cried. Her mind was a swirl of images. The woman in the bathroom, the man she called Arthur and the she called Lancelot. Deirdre stood and stumbled her way out of her room and into the bathroom. Her stomach heaved ridding itself of bile as the dizziness eased.

She leaned back against the cold, hard tub thankful for the solidness to help bring her back to the present.

“Hey D, you okay?” A knock on the door.

Deirdre closed her eyes. “I am fine. Just a stomach bug I think.”

“Okay, was worried maybe someone slipped you something..last night was pretty messed up.”

“I am fine, thank you for checking on me.” Go away, just go away. She was shaking again.

“Well I will be leaving in an hour for work if you need anything before then or when I head home just text.”

“Thanks.”

It took a great deal of effort to pull herself up and to the sink. Deirdre ran the water, washing her face and brushing her teeth. Her eyes caught her face in the mirror and she stared for a moment.

The face that looked back at her was not her own. She gasped and gripped the sink. The reflection gasped as she did, it’s face screwed up into an expression of confusion and fear just as hers did yet it was not her. Who are you?

Deirdre took a few slow breaths. Am I going crazy?

She turned and left the bathroom. She couldn’t look in the mirror any longer. She did not know who the woman was but if she had to guess it would be her mind’s version of what Guinevere would look like.

Her bedroom door was closed behind her as she grabbed her phone and laid down in bed. Why Guinevere? Why now? What the hell is wrong with me? I let that woman kiss me and it wasn’t like I didn’t enjoy it.

Deirdre pulled up her bosses’ number and texted her to say she was sick and wouldn’t be coming in. She offered to do a double shift the following week but she was too sick to leave her room today.

With a clunk the phone was returned to the bedside table and Deirdre began to change into more comfortable clothing. Her clothes were tossed into towards her laundry basket though most missed. She even took the time to run a brush through her hair as she sat on the end of the bed. Her mind wandered.

“My lady do you wish me to do that?” Holding her hand for the brush.

Guinevere smiled up at her lady in waiting. “No, it is alright I will do it. Thank you.”

“We are happy you are safe my lady. It must have been a trying time. Thank the stars the king had all those new knights with him. So very brave of them, especially Sir Lancelot. Going in alone to rescue you.”

A small smile appeared on her lips unhindered at the sound of his name. “Yes he was very brave. They were all very brave.”

“Look! Some of the men are sparring!” Another of her women was standing by the window. The women, the three that were attending her rushed to the see. Guinevere finished brushing her hair and then slowly stood.

Graceful steps brought her not to the window but to the balcony of her and Arthur’s quarters. She stepped out and placed her hands on the stone balustrade. Below her some of the knights were sparring as others watched on. She could see Arthur and she smiled down at him though his eyes were on the men who battled.

Another face looked up at her and their eyes locked. Guinevere’s heart jumped in her chest and she could not pull her gaze from Lancelot.

“Look my lady, the king is waving.”

The words broke the spell as Arthur stepped near Lancelot and looked up, now waving to her. Guinevere smiled and waved back to him. She kept up the facade of the calm queen though inside she felt undone and shaken.


Deirdre dropped her brush with a gasp. It hit the floor with a thud.

“You okay? You fall or something?” The voice at the door called out to her.

“I-I am fine.” Deirdre managed to choke out the words before the tears began. She laid out on her bed, pulling the blankets about her.

She felt trapped and alone. Her own thoughts were betraying her, making her confused and unsure.

She closed her eyes and willed the visions away. “No more. Please. No more...”

Her chest heaved as she began to sob into her pillow. Deirdre felt more like a captive here in her room, in her thoughts than Guinevere had in the tower.

She had a knight to save her...

Deirdre’s sobs slowed and soon she fell into an exhausted sleep.

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Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering
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The woman beckoned her closer. Deirdre knew her though she couldn’t place her. The face was the same as the one that looked back at her in the mirror. As she drew closer she felt a pull to the woman.

The medieval style gown she wore was blue with trim of white and silver. Her hair was long and part was pulled into a silver net. Her eyes were sad, her hands knotted together.

“They have not found you. We need to help them.”

Deirdre shook her head. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

The woman closed her eyes, head turning away in annoyance. “Now is not the time for being coy. We feel it, don’t ignore it. He was close, he held you...it was....”

She looked at Deirdre once more.

Deirdre’s lip quivered. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you are talking about.” Even as she said it, a knife drove itself into her stomach.

“Yes, you do. You know it with every fibre of your soul though you refuse to see what is in front of you.”

The woman stepped closer and touched Deirdre’s cheek. She realized that it was her own that hand that brushed the skin there. “Do not hide. We are not in need of rescue though we do long for them to hold us. Never weak, never fragile but the guilt...”

The woman stepped even closer and Deirdre gasped as they became one person.


“D! Holy crap, breathe!”

A hand came down on her cheek and Deirdre inhaled. Her face stung.

“Oh my god, I thought...what the hell is the matter with you!”

Heather was staring down at her, her blue eyes wild with fear. She was lightly shaking her hand. Blonde hair hung slightly in her face.

Deirdre shook her head. “I-I don’t know.”

Heather grabbed her and hugged her tightly. “You scared the shit out of me. I came home from work and you were still in bed. I check on you and you are all opened eyes and mouth wide but not breathing. You were pale...fuck are still pale. I thought you were dead.”

Deirdre weakly hugged Heather back. “I’m sorry.” She began to shake and tears fell. The apology wasn’t really for Heather it was for the overwhelming sense of guilt that suddenly rushed over her. She remembered the man pacing asking her how she could do that to him. Another on his knee. It slowly dawned on her that the men in that daydream were the same in the others....the man who the blonde turned into in the bathroom and the one who rescued her...they were all the same people including her, the woman he called Guin.

Something was very wrong. Dreams of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere seemed to taking over her life. Was it stress? Was it a brain tumour?

Heather let her go. “Look I am worried about you. I don’t want you cooped up here all day. Come out with me tonight.”

Deirdre flopped back on her pillow. “No, no nightclubs.”

Heather grunted, “No even better. Rave. Just think big crowd, dark room, lots of moving bodies. You can get lost in it for a while. You know how hard it is to see, no one will know who you are except that your body moves and maybe your clothes glow a little. What do you say? Let’s get lost.”

Deirdre looked up at her roommate. Lost. I already feel lost. The very idea of a crowd, a pounding bass and the ability not to see who was around her was appealing. She felt tired though not able to sleep anymore.

“Alright.”

Heather jumped up from the bed. “Shower and get dressed. We head out in an hour.”
***
She knew most people at the rave would be wearing hardly anything in the way of clothes. They tended to dress in as little as possible. Deirdre didn’t feel like being mostly naked and wanted more to disappear in them than stand out.

Pulling on dark jeans she added a black tank top that had a white skeleton torso decal. Her hair was simply pinned back from her face. In the black lights the skeleton would glow but the rest of her would blend into the darkness. Deirdre stepped into the living room.

“Really? Black to a rave? Good god woman when did you turn all goth on me?” Heather stood there in a mini skirt of neon green and a crop top of neon orange. Her stomach was loosely wrapped with neon ribbons and they adorned her arms as well. Her makeup too was done in neons that would reflect the lights. Her blonde hair was pigtails and curled into ringlets.

“You look like a maypole with all those ribbons.” Deirdre tilted her head as if inspecting her.

“What the hell is a maypole?” Heather asked as she slipped on a pair of running shoes, also neon green.

“For the May day celebrations a pole is erected and maidens dance around it weaving ribbons...”

Heather gave her a look that stopped her words. “Why do you know that?”

Deirdre paled. ”I was going to the May day celebrations while Arthur was gone looking for more knights. It was there that Meleagant ambushed us...remember?”

“And it was then that we met Lancelot.”

“I only wanted to watch the maidens dance, to enjoy the feasting with my ladies and the men...”

“Yet so much changed that day.”


“D, earth to D, I asked how do you know that?”

Deirdre shrugged. “I read about in the literature class. We were talking about poems and stories as they were written for special events.”

Her words sounded forced and hollow but Heather gave a small laugh. “Whatever. Let’s go.”
****
The floor vibrated under their feet as the music kept up its steady pounding beat. The crowd was moving,a thrumming of its own. Bodies gyrated against each other though you could barely make out who was male and who was female. The room was pitch black save for the black lights and other neon light that set parts of people’s clothing glowing.

She lost Heather to the crowd instantly. For a brief time she was able to follow where the glowing ribbons went but eventually the black, faceless crowd swallowed them. Heather became one with the thing that was the dance floor.

Deirdre wanted to forget about the woman. She couldn’t even bring herself to say her name though it was always there, a tickle on the back of her mind. She stepped into the crowd, all black save the glowing white bones and gave herself over to them.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera
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Deirdre tried to move into the crowd. She had brushed near someone and it had felt odd. It was like she knew the person but she couldn't figure out who it was. With everything else that had gone on the fact that she had felt similar with the blonde when she hugged her, Deirdre didn't want to deal with what it might mean.

She lifted her hair from the back of her neck. She was warm. The crowd was pressing against her. She was trying so hard to forget, forget Arthur, forget Lancelot, to forget the blonde woman, she wanted to forget everything. Deirdre was ready to go. She looked around for Heather. She'd never find her in the crowd and she wouldn't want to leave, not this early.

Deirdre moved towards where she thought the bar was. She needed water. She pushed through some people. Her hands went onto someone's back.

Tim froze. There was a hand on his back. I know you... He wanted to turn but Kat's hands kept him facing her.

Deirdre panicked. That feeling came over her again. She pushed against the person's back and bolted, shoving people out of the way.

Tim looked side to side. "There again. Kat did you see them?"

Kat peered around Tim's shoulder catching sight of the retreating figure with the skeleton cut top. "Got it." She said with no more warning, releasing Tim's hips and launching herself into the crowd after skeleton girl. The one good thing about being small, was that it made it easier to move through a crowd, and Kat managed to quickly catch up to the other.

"Hey wait!" She called out, trying to get the girl's attention. If she'd had a flashback, she might be freaking out, and this was a bad place for that to happen. With that in mind, Kat reached her hand out to grab at her arm.

Deirdre couldn't her anything over the music. She wanted out of the crowd, needed to get out of the crowd. A hand grab her. She stopped dead and whipped her head around. She found herself looking down at a neon covered female. Deirdre didn't feel the same familiarity with her that she had with the other person in the crowd. She shook her head and tried to pull her arm away, unsure what the woman's intention was. "Let go."

Definitely freaking out, Kat thought quickly, taking in the girl's appearance. It was dark but the set of her shoulders was enough to give away her stress. "You okay? You kind of looked like you were about to barf." Kat asked, quickly releasing the other girl's arm and getting as close of possible while still maintaining personal space standards. "Do you need help finding anyone?" Here was probably not the place to spring this sort of thing on her, but if Kat could get her name, and a little background info on her, some recon and surveillance would be easy to make sure she was safe.

Tim looked around as Kat disappeared into the crowd. "Damn it." He hissed through his teeth and began to push his way through in the direction he thought she went in. If it was Arin they should have just tried to watch but Tim knew in his gut it wasn't Arin, it wasn't Lancelot. This one was different. "Kat! Kat!" He used his large frame to move people from his path.

Deirdre frowned. "Barf? How can you see anything in this place? I-" She shivered remembering the feeling that came over her when she put her hands on the person's back. The smaller woman had let her arm go and Deirdre crossed her arms about herself. "I am fine. My friend is around somewhere. Thanks."

"Good eyesight." Kat said casually, and to an extent it was true. Part of it was fae-blood (though anything attributed to that was nowhere near the enhancement Arin had), and the other part was just the amount of time she spent working in the dark. Sometimes trudging around in old graveyards for scrap iron at night came in handy.

She tried to smile but knew it was somewhat pointless in the sea of neon. Deirdre looked up as the crowd parted some behind the woman and larger body with orange framed glasses came closer. Deirdre backed away a step, only to find herself bumping into someone else. She sighed in frustration.

When Kat noticed Tim push his way through behind her, she almost sighed too. Kat felt confident in approaching the girl because she was not likely to cause any untimely, and if Tim's own reactions to them were anything to go by, freaky flashbacks. Hence her solo entrance. As it was, maybe they could still avoid it if they just avoided touching each other.

"Sure you don't want help getting toward the bar? Three people shoving through a crowd gets people to move easier than one?" Kat offered, seeing the other girl struggle to get through the crowd. "I'm Kat by the way." She said cheerfully in an attempt to be conversational and force a polite reciprocation.

Tim closed the distance between them. He spotted the shorter Kat with another person. Skeleton shirt. HIs hand went lightly to Kat's shoulder. "Hey found you." He tried to keep his voice cheerful though he was trying to make out the person she was talking to.

Deirdre looked around herself. "I guess help wouldn't be all bad...he seems good for moving people." She gestured towards Tim. Her eyes moved over the pair, though really only taking in the glowing bits. "Deirdre, D...people call me D."

Tim frowned and leaned over Kat. I'll be damned. "We've met...well we looked a lot different. You didn't have a glowing torso and I wasn't dressed like some bizarre...I don't even know."

"You what?" Kat chimed in surprised. Weird coincidence she thought, but didn't comment further, letting them catch up grudgingly.

There was confusion in Deirdre's voice as she tilted her head and focused on the guy. "We've met?" The voice did seem familiar.

Tim leaned down to whisper in Kat's ear. He moved so his mouth was very close to her earlobe so she could hear clearly. "Think you got the wrong person. I go to the same school as her. We met in the student center. She isn't a knight." He followed it up with a chuckle.

Tim's lips on her earlobe made Kat shiver a little, but in a good way. His words however were not nearly as welcome. "So?" She hissed back. The was definitely the girl who'd touched his back, she was 95% positive on that. She pursed her lips as he went on with the conversation, an unpleasant sensation settling in her gut as the two continued on.

"Yes, student center. You bought me a chocolate bar for watching your things."

Deirdre laughed, "Ah yes my gallant knight. Tim right?" And just like that she felt cold and strange. "Hey, I should go...see you around, both of you." She tried to back away. Something felt off and she didn't want to get upset here in the large crowd.

That's totally my line. Kat thought moodily after this D person called Tim her gallant knight. Jealousy was a strong word, and Kat wasn't particularly fond of owning up to experiencing such strong irrational emotions, but she definitely did not enjoy hearing another girl call Tim that. Especially when it was too dark to properly size up the competition.

When D started to retreat, Kat shook off the irritation and moved in. "Cool, we'll just help you get to the bar then head back to the dance floor. This one's a real party animal if you couldn't tell." Kat said, forcing her normal cheer a bit before grabbing hold of Tim's hand (perhaps a bit territorially) and moving forward to help push aside the crowd.

Tim let Kat pull him forward. He used his size to make a path so that all three could get by easily. Deirdre was unsure and nervous. With everything that had gone on already she just wanted to vanish into the crowd. For a moment she considered it, turning and pushing her way into the dancers behind her but Tim knew her and it was rude. He was cute she recalled from that morning in the student center. Also has a girlfriend so his being cute is really a non starter.

Reluctantly she followed them. Tim looked over his shoulder and smiled at her. "So never thought I would run into you at a place like this!"

He moved them towards the bar where there was a bit more in the way of light. Tim pulled Kat close beside him, protectively. Deirdre followed and immediately got a bartenders attention. "Water please."

He looked at Kat and Tim. "What about you?"

"Gin and tonic!" Kat called out, eyes shining with mischief.

Tim looked down at Kat, "Two waters."

The bartender shrugged, which meant he was going with Tim's order whom he presumed would be paying. "You're no fun." Kat pouted.

"Says you." Tim resisted the urge to pat her on the head.

Deirdre leaned on the bar a little and brushed her hair from her face. "It is odd. You didn't seem like the rave type." Or the I have a girlfriend type... She looked him over once more and then let her eyes wander to Kat. She was shorter than Tim by a bit, shorter than herself and young looking though in the low light of the bar and with the get up everyone looked young.

"So you two like to dance?" It wouldn't hurt to be friendly. Hell it was better than feeling off and that thankfully had passed. She was sure it had nothing to do with Tim and more to do with her calling him a knight. With the whole Camelot visions she'd been having it made sense that words like that would make her feel not quite herself.

"This one? Oh yeah, can barely ever drag his fine ass off the floor." Kat chipped in, sensing an opportunity for passive-aggressive revenge for the booze-blocking, and shameless flirting in one go, sending a well placed smack to the before mentioned rear.

Tim's eyes went wide as Kat's hand came down on his backside. "Ha ha. Such a kidder this one."

Deirdre tilted her head a little, one eyebrow raising mischievously. "Kat are you kidding about how much he likes to dance or that his ass is fine?" She was relaxing, just a little.

"Oh I never kid about a fine set of glutes." Kat replied, eyes sparkling in her element.

Tim's jaw dropped a little, one hand rubbed the back of his head and that was when he remembered what Kat had done to his hair. He gave a small groan of annoyance and shoved his hand into his pocket.

"Tim, I never would have pegged you as bashful. He always like this? Kind of cute...." Deirdre smiled at Kat. Tim's shoulders hunched a little.

"You have no idea." Kat replied, grinning up at Tim and bumping her hip to his.

"Lucky for us he doesn't know just how cute he is. Otherwise he'd be off dating some supermodel by now. Still haven't figured out yet if you're a blonde or brunette kind of guy." Kat replied, sending a playfully inquisitive took up his way.

Tim was speechless. The bartender arrived with three bottles of water. He waved away Deirdre's money with a smile. He looked to Tim who fished a bill from his pocket. In truth he was glad for the distraction. Kat is fifteen, have to put an end to this teasing. His cheeks were hot.

He handed Kat her water. "Here, and I am an equal opportunity kind of man. I just don't get out much and don't really have a type thank you."

Deirdre frowned slightly as she took a drink of her water. "So it was really fun to run into you and to meet you Kat but you likely want to get back to dancing."

"Everyone has a type." Kat replied cheekily, though secretly satisfied with his response. "They just don't always know what it is."

"Likewise. Always nice to run into people with common interests." Kat replied with a wink thrown D's way.

Tim held out his hand. "Are you sure you don't want to stick around with us? For a little bit maybe, unless your uh…boyfriend is waiting?"

Deirdre smiled at Kat. "Well always good to know people with good taste." She moved to take Tim's hand. "It was good to see you and no, no boyfriend but three's a crowd. I'm fine."

Tim grabbed Deirdre's hand and with a small smile leaned down to kiss it but stopped. Both of them stiffened a moment and then pulled away. Deirdre's eyes were wide and the colour in her face, what little could be seen in the dim light of the bar drained away.

Tim looked at Kat. "Fuck."

"Shit." Kat agreed.

Deirdre backed away quickly, practically running. She turned and tried to make her way to the bathroom.

Tim was breathing heavy. "I have to go after her. I have..."

"What you have to do is stop hyperventilating." Kat said, pulling up a bar stool and practically shoving him into it as she watches D's form move toward the girl's bathroom. "Here, drink and breathe. I'll go check on her." Kat said handing him the bottle of water. "Try not to be anyone's snack while I'm gone." She said in parting, trying to break his tension with half-baked humor.

Pushing her way through the crowd, Kat tried following D into the girl's restroom. "Hey, wait!" She called ahead, trying to get her attention.

Tim sat and took the bottle of water but his mind was racing. How do those things work? If I am Ywain and she is the other person that makes her....but that can't be right because Arin... Everything was muddled and confusing. He took a drink of the water and began to look around. If Arin were here we could talk, figure this out. There can't be two and if she isn't...but... He put the bottle on the bar with a loud thud. "Kat she's..."

It was too late. Kat was too far away and the music too loud for her to hear him. Tim rubbed his thigh. This is bad. If she is who I think she is then who is Arin bringing tonight? What if one or both of them are fakes? Can you fake this kind of thing?

Deirdre stepped into the bathroom. Everything was steel and shiny. Here at least there was lots of light. She moved to the sink and ran the cold water. A few others milled about. She splashed cold water on her face and then again, letting the cold shock her. Can't be. Another vision of this...these people but who the hell was that? Why was he kneeling?

More cold water splashed her face. Her hands were shaking.

"What'd you take honey?"

Deirdre looked up. Another woman was applying a fresh coat of neon lipgloss. "Nothing."

"You want something?"

I wonder if this would go away if I... A voice drew her attention. She turned to see the door opened as some exited and Kat calling for her to wait. "No, no thanks. Maybe later."

Deirdre splashed another handful of water on her face.

As Kat finally managed to make it to the bathroom, she opened the door and entered in behind the retreating figure of a girl wearing neon lipstick. The bathroom looked empty enough, but she check to see the stalls were empty first before approaching D. "So what'd you see?" Kat asked calmly, subtlety not really being her forte. Direct and gentle might be the best approach right now anyway. This girl had looked ten kinds of shaken before they'd stumbled across her, she Kat could probably guess this wasn't the first incident she'd had.

Deirdre looked up at Kat in the mirror. "See?" She tried to play it calm and cool. "I don't know what you are talking about."

She turned and looked at the small woman.

"Tim's hyperventilating at the bar, and you're in here trying to stave off a panic attack. I know the signs ok. You don't have to tell me what you saw if it makes you uncomfortable, but we needed to make sure you were ok. Sometimes after that happens you're not." Kat replied smoothly, keeping her voice calm and unaccusing.

"It isn't the first time and I am fine." Deirdre shoulders slumped. "Been having them for a few days. Just odd things..."

She frowned. "Tim is hyperventilating? Did he...did he see something?"

"Yeah. He gets those too. From what we can tell, it looks like everyone deals with them differently. Tim for the most part starts looking like he just did an intense cardio set, though considering most of his have been about sword fights so far, I'm not really surprised." Kat replied.

"No swordfights this time...one time I watched one. Another time he..." Her cheeks flushed. "Rescued me and there was fighting. There was the one where Ar...He smelt of blood."

Deirdre lifted her eyes to look at Kat. "Why is this happening? How do you know about it? She...she told me I had to find them."

The more Deirdre told Kat, the more intense her eyes became. Shit buckets. It wasn't for sure, there were lots of Ladies who'd been rescued in Arthurs court at one point or another, hell it was practically a prerequisite, but deep in her gut she had a bad feeling that she knew who this was, which spelled trouble for Arin and whatever poor girl he was currently trying to charm the pants off of tonight. "Because you're special." Kat replied honestly. "I know about it, because I grew up with people like you. Did the woman by chance have a name?" Kat asked calmly, hoping not to hear the name Kat feared she'd give.

"Special..." Deirdre spat the word out. Her parents had always called her special and she hated it. 'I don't want to be special."

"Trust me, we never really get a choice in the matter." Kat replied evenly, letting Deirdre vent.

She paced. "The woman was me...but it wasn't me." She gave a shake of her head. "Camelot, King Arthur and my god…Arthur...." Deirdre shivered. "And Lancelot."

She stopped in front of Kat. "Guinevere. She…I...no it was, is...god. What is wrong with me!" She hit the bathroom stall door with her fist and immediately regretted it.

"Nothing is wrong with you ok, that's the first thing you need to accept right now. You are perfectly sane, and any emotional turmoil you're feeling right now isn't coming from you. You're just working through something right now that most people can't begin to understand." Kat dropped the bag from her shoulder and pulled out a business card that had the address for the Round Tablet and her emergency number on the back.

"I don't know if now is the place or time to go over all the details with you, but here's my contact info. If you want answers, or need someone to talk to about this, call me or swing by. You're not alone in this, that's the one thing I can promise." Kat said extending the card. The all at once approach had worked surprisingly well with Tim, but Kat had a feeling it might made D bolt. It might be better to let her come to them when she was ready rather than try and push it all on her now, especially with her being so shaken.

Deirdre stared at Kat. "No thanks. I just want to forget about all of this. It will go away, the sooner the better." She moved to the door. Her hands were fixing her hair. "Just bad dreams." She stood tall, back straight. "I do appreciate the offer but I'd rather not go to some 'special people' support group.

"It's more of a round table." Kat said dryly. "And ignoring what's happening isn't going to make it go away. I'm not going to force you to do anything you don't want to, but at least take the card. Just in case something happens to change your mind." Kat insisted holding out the card.

"Change my mind? No won't be changed. Nothing you can say is going to make me want to dwell in these bizarre hallucinations." She opened the door and stepped out. "Thanks again for checking on me but I am fine."

The thrum of the music filled the air.

Deirdre moved out into the crowd again. Round table, bah. Others like me? Whatever. This is ridiculous.

Tim was on his stool and getting anxious. Kat where the hell are you?

Kat watched Deirdre go before shoving the card into her pocket with a little too much force. Pissed at herself for not being better at this sort of thing, Kat stormed out of the bathroom and back into the crowd, trying to make her way back to the bar. It was slow going though, and before she'd even made it half way there, a cheerful voice behind her grabbed her attention.

"Hey, you look thirsty, want a shot?" The guy was older than her, but all things considered, that wasn't saying much. It was hard to tell in the dark too, but she supposed he was also good looking. Hard to tell under all the neon though. As tempting as the offer was, especially in the wake of failure once again, she didn't think Tim would appreciate it, and she was alarmingly swayable where Tim's opinion was concerned. She still wasn't sure if she liked that fact yet or not.

"No thanks, I'm not in the mood." Kat said, trying to wave him off nicely. And then he grabbed hold of her wrist.

"Let's see if we can fix that then." He said smiling, though up this close now she could see it didn't reach his eyes. It was like fire was extending from his hand and up her arm, making her feel numb and hazy and it was hard to think. Fucking fae... She though hazily, panic and arousal warring for dominance as she clutched at her neck, belatedly remembering she'd given Tim her iron necklace for this very reason, which meant her only iron weapon was in her bag...

"Why don't you have a drink sweetheart, you'll feel better, promise." He said smoothly, bringing the bottle up to meet her lips, helping her take the first couple drinks. It burned going down, but not as much as his touch and she whimpered slightly, barely able to remember her own name. There was nothing but him and her desire to please him, so she took big gulps even though it make her feel like choking.

Tim was annoyed. He stood. Screw that it is the girls bathroom. He started pushing through the crowd towards the bathroom.

"Kat? I think I might take that..." Deirdre came up behind her. "Oh." She frowned watching Kat drink.

Tim spotted the skeleton body glowing in the lights. "Deirdre? Is Kat with you?" He stepped up and saw her drinking. "Oh no! What do you think you are doing?" He pushed D out of the way and pulled Kat towards him. "Kat? What are you thinking?" He glared at the guy. "What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Deirdre shook her head, confused and backed away slowly. "I shouldn't have come back..."

Tim was angry. He was beyond angry. He held Kat against him and bared his teeth at the man with the bottle.

The man's eyes flashed red for a moment as the girl he'd just acquired was suddenly yanked out of his grip. She started coughing immediately, looking more disoriented than anything and shook a little, suffering the withdrawal from his thrall. His eyes shot up to the boy she was with. Attractive, bright soul, and obviously pissed. Angry boyfriend he guessed. He was tempted to just thrall him too and just bring him along for the party, but another girl who had come up behind them caught his eye more.

"I have to say, you're probably the most beautiful woman I've seen here all night." He said with a bit of gravel in his voice, side stepping Tim entirely and stroking a hand through the girl's hair and down to her shoulder. Her soul was so bright and intense, and it excited him in ways he hadn't been in centuries.

Tim was breathing in hard, deep breaths. "Kat, what were you thinking? Drinking? I thought you were looking after Deirdre?" He looked down at her. "Kat?" She seemed off and he grew concerned.

Deirdre's breath caught in her throat as a hand moved through her hair. "Oh...I..." She gave a small moan. She felt weird but not like when she shook Tim's hand or when she hugged the woman in the bathroom but she felt cloudy.

Tim gave Kat a little shake. "Kat what's wrong?" And then it hit him, the air around them felt wrong. He didn't know what was going on but it wasn't right.

Rubbing both his hands now over her shoulders, the man leaned in to give an open mouthed kiss down her collar bone, laying it on a little more thickly. "Why don't you and me get out of here." He practically purred.

Deirdre's knees went weak as he leaned in to kiss her skin. She felt cold and hot all at once.

At the lack of attention from the man who was now her sun, Kat whimpered pathetically, reaching out her arm weakly in protest in Tim's arms. Chuckling lightly, the man reached back and ran his hand up her arm again, making Kat shiver violently and moan obscenely. "Don't worry, you can come too sweetheart." He promised, trying to draw her closer. He was more than game for a little double action tonight, feeling a bit greedy with so many bright souls at his disposal.

Kat shivered in his arms and with that Tim knew what was going on. "Oh no...no..." He had the same reaction to the woman. He took the iron cross out of his shirt and held it towards him.

"Back the fuck away from her." Tim pushed Kat behind him but held her arm with on hand. "Deirdre you need to move away from him right now."

Deirdre leaned against the man in front of her. She sighed.

The man eyed the iron with distaste, and glared pointedly back at the boy holding his appetizer. "Fine, you keep her. Seems like you two need to work on some of that sexual tension permeating off you anyway." He sneered, pulling Deirdre closer and projecting out a fresh wave of arousal toward Tim in hopes of creating a distraction. The couples around them, already dancing in a somewhat questionable manner were now looking down right obscene, and the Man grinned a bit with pride at his own prowess.

Tim growled and ignored the man. "Let her go. Deirdre come over here, now." His lip curled into a snarl. He was in battle, he could feel it. He shook off the feeling of desire that started to come over him. "You will not leave here with her."

Deirdre hung onto the man, her body laid against him and her arms draped around his neck. She looked over at Tim but she couldn't really focus on him. She wanted this man, she needed this man.

Tim reached out, "What's it gonna be? Let her go or I will make you let her go and in the end this won't go the way you want." Something came over him. He felt ready to fight, he needed to fight....everything that had gone on in the last couple of days culminated in this moment.

"I didn't realize you were her father." The man growled, not about to give up the tastiest looking meal he'd seen in weeks. "I think the lady's old enough to make her own decisions about who she goes home with. So why don't you scamper off there boy scout and mind your own business."

"She is my responsibility. I am pledged to protect her. You will not be leaving with her and your sway over her won't stop me." Tim stepped forward and grabbed Deirdre. He yanked her towards him.

"You and me...you want them, you fight me."

Deirdre whimpered as she was yanked away from the man. She gasped as if finding air for the first time.

"Pledged?" He snorted. "What are you from a medieval theme park now? It's the modern age boy scout, pledging is for Frat boys, and for the most part they are entirely unappealing. If you're feeling left out kid, you're more than welcome to join." He said suggestively. He wasn't really the fighting type, one didn't last eleven centuries outside the unseelie prison undetected and relatively unscathed without resisting that particular urge. He'd rather just have a romp with the three of them, fill up and skip out before morning, as was his usual M.O. Hell, even just one of them would be fine by him, though it didn't seem boy scout was up for that option.

Tim glared. "Yes I have to protect her and you...you abomination need to leave before I make you pay for this." He held both women back behind him. He felt the urge to hurt this man, to protect Kat and Deirdre.

Balthazar stared hard for a moment, weighing his options. His wasn't really a confrontation kind of guy, and considering the second girl was starting to come out of his thrall, and her guard dog was being persistently unreceptive, his odds didn't look good. The only one still really in a thrall-able position was the first girl he'd stumbled across, though he guessed it was the spiked Jack still making her so pliable. He decided to just cut his losses and back off, maybe he'd circle back later and snatch one up for the night he thought comforting himself.

"Whatever you say boy scout, don't strain yourself." Balthazar shrugged dismissively.

"You might try pumping some water into the little one though." He said offhandedly. "People have been putting all sorts of goodies in my drinks tonight. Can't imagine why..." He said in parting before shuffling off.

Tim growled once more. "Get out of here. Get out of the club. You are not welcome here and if I see you at all I will make you pay."

He turned to Deirdre and Kat. He picked Kat up and with her held in one arm, he grabbed Deirdre with a free hand. "Come with me." He dragged D as he carried Kat to the bathroom. He kicked open the door to the women's room and put Kat in front of a sink. He cranked the cold water and splashed her with it. "Kat come on."

"Wheeeee!" Kat said giggling as Tim picked her up in the air. With the incubus gone she just felt plain inebriated, without the killer lust factor going it. "Wow you're strong." She pointed out semi-lucidly. The cold water was like a slap to the face though, and she groaned, trying to cover her face.

Deirdre slumped against a stall. "I don't want to dream of her. Of Arthur or Lancelot. I want to just be normal. No dancing, no spotlight...no guilt..."

Tim was frustrated. "Kat damn it. Drink some of this." He scooped water towards her mouth with his hand.

Kat drank obediently, kissing his hand once she finished and smiled up at him goofily. "You're so nice..." She slurred going in for an uncoordinated hug.

"No, no...drink more water Kat." He pushed her back towards the sink. "Drink!" He kept trying to scoop more towards her mouth.

Deirdre was breathing deeply. "I need to go. I need to get out of here."

Tim barked. "Do not move! You stay there and just wait."

Deirdre pulled her knees to her chin. "I ruined Camelot. I hurt them..."

Tim didn't know what to do. "Deirdre just sit and Kat, drink!"

"I don't wanna, my tummy hurts..." Kat whined before unceremoniously barfing into the sink.

Tim sighed and held her hair away from her face. "Okay Kat. Just let it all out."

That continued for an awkward couple of minutes before Kat began running the faucet herself and rinsed out her mouth before splashing her face. "Fucking fae..." She groaned weakly, the last vestiges of the thrall finally wearing off, though she still felt shaky and a little off her center of gravity.

Tim sighed. "How you feeling?"

"Like I almost got date raped." Kat said bluntly.

Deirdre stood, "I will leave you two to it." She wanted towards the door.

"Don't you dare move! I didn't just go through all that for nothing." Tim stood. "My queen, stay here so I can ensure your safety." The voice that came out was not entirely his own.

"Oh fuck." Kat groaned, head pounding too much to deal with this right now.

Deirdre stopped dead, her back to him. "Don't call me that."

Walking wobbly toward the door, Kat pulled the latch to locked before turning her back toward the door and sliding down it slowly to the ground. "You two..." She said hazily. "Work it out." She finished lamely, leaning her head back against the door. It was smooth, and felt good against her head. She still didn't feel completely lucid, but she was trying. "Why does everything look purple..?" She mumbled absently.

Deirdre stared at Kat as she sat on the ground after locking the door. She couldn't face Tim.

He stood there waiting. "Please. I know who you are....were..."

Deirdre shook her head. "I'm not her." Her eyes welled up a little. "I don't want to be that. The cause of so much pain."

Tim looked uncomfortable. "I know but you are. I only just learned who I am. It is hard but we are who we are."

Deirdre shook her head. "I can't. I can't be that. I know what they went through."

Tim sighed. "I know my lady. I know. It will be different this time."

Deirdre's lip quivered. She turned to face Tim. "Different? I hurt Arthur. I loved them. I..."

Tim moved forward and wrapped her in his arms. "This time you aren't just Guinevere you are Deirdre."

He looked over at Kat.

Deirdre felt both odd and wonderful in Tim's arms. "It isn't enough. I can't do this."

Tim pulled back and knelt. "You are needed my queen. I don't know what will happen but we are here for a reason."

Deirdre was shaking. She looked down at Tim. "Stand up...." There was desperation in her voice. "Stand up."

Deirdre backed away until she was against the door. She sat down beside Kat. "I can't do this. I don't want to hurt them. I don't even know them but I dreamt of them. I can't do this again."

Tim was still kneeling. "We can let you meet Lancelot. Would that help?" You better be right on this Arin or this is going to be all kinds of fucked up.

"Aww man, Arin's gonna be piiiiiiiissed." Kat slurred with a snort.

Deirdre looked at Kat. "Arin?"

"He already thinks he's on a date with you, but you're you." Kat giggled pointing a finger at Deirdre. "He's Lancelot by the way, welcome to the family."

Her chest felt tight. "He has a Guinevere. He doesn't need me. I don't want to hurt him. Let me leave. Let me go." She was pleading now.

Tim looked at Kat and then back to Deidre. "You can't go. If you are here it means something...right?"

"Apparently not. They went all flashbacky and stuff on each other and he thinks she's you. I wonder who that Arey chick is then? You think Morgan La Fey? I'd put my money on that." Kat said groggily.

Deirdre looked at Kat. "A girl? The girl who kissed me was Arthur....but I think it was due to the stress not her in particular. But she turned into Arthur and we were kissing. Oh god I think I kissed her..." She put her head in her hands.

Tim swallowed hard trying not to picture Deirdre kissing another woman. "Maybe?" Was all he could weakly get out.

"I dreamt of them. Arthur and Lancelot. Lancelot rescued me...her...me...I don't understand this." Deirdre's hands ran through her hair. "Let him be happy. Arin I mean. Let him have her and be happy. I don't want to cause problems."

"Dude, he's like mildly obsessed with you, the minute he finds out she's not Guin, he's probably gonna drop that girl like a hot potato. He's nice and all, but he's a man on a mission...kind of like that Bourne Identity guy, but with cooler hair.." Kat said smiling while staring off into space.

Deirdre didn't like hearing that. It upset her to know that she was someone's mission and that someone else was going to get hurt because of who she was.

Tim felt terrible. He had told Arin that things might not go well and now he was looking at Guinevere who didn't want to be Guinevere. "Maybe there is a mix up? Maybe she, this girl Arey is Guinevere and you are just, I don't know caught up on accident? That can happen right?" He looked at Kat and wished desperately that she were sober. "They are going to be here soon, hopefully. We have to find them and sort this out."

"Instincts baby cakes, rule number one." Kat mumbled.

Tim sighed. "My instincts say you are Guinevere and that your presence here means something. I know you are reluctant but so was I."

Deirdre shook her head. "He thinks he has found her. Leave it be. If I am not present there will be no hurt." She bit her lip. "What of Arthur? Has he found...has he found his Guinevere?"

Her heart pounded thinking of both men. There was pain there, to give up Lancelot as she was, to ask about Arthur and knowing she should stay away, hurt a great deal. She needed to know.

"Fuck if I know..." Kat replied yawning with a full body shrug. "Haven't even finished the data sheets for him yet...too many variable, not enough eliminating factors..." Kat slurred, shifting to the side until her head was on Deirdre's lap. "You smell nice...Tim smells better, but you're good too."

Deirdre looked down at Kat. She caressed her hair. Her eyes drifted to Tim. "I am sure Tim smells very good. Rest now. All will be well."

Tim stood. "I should go out there, find Arin. He is coming here and it would be good if you met."

Deirdre lifted a hand, staying Tim where he stood. "Or it is best to return her to her home, to her bed and leave it for another time."

Tim shook his head "My lady I know you wish to spare him the hurt but you cannot hide yourself from him. Lancelot...Arin wishes to find you, to change what happened last time."

Deirdre looked sad. "If I could spare them both the pain of me I would. I would do anything to take that from them, to take the memory. I do not wish to..."

Tim winced. "You cannot hide. Moths to the flame is what we are. I swear I will do all that I can to protect you but I will not keep you secret. I cannot keep you secret."

Deirdre looked up with sadness in her eyes, "No I cannot hide but I do not need to give in either. If I-I keep my distance than my love for them cannot do the damage it once did. I tore a kingdom apart. I tore two friends, two brothers apart. Do you not understand the guilt I feel but I loved them."

Her hand still stroked Kat's hair. Tim hung his head. "I bear you no ill will for that which was done. We must overcome all of this."

Deidre raised her voice. "For what? What reason could there be for this, for this past life bullshit!"

"To save the world from dicks like roofie-dude..." Kat mumbled in her lap.

The bathroom was quiet. Outside the door people would knock or the music would vibrate through but inside it was still at the moment.

Deidre looked at Kat and then to Tim. "Than I serve no purpose. I do not fight. I am nothing but an obstacle for Arthur and Lancelot...for Arin and whoever Arthur is. I am a distraction.....let me go."

Tim shook his head. "I can't. I am sorry."

Deirdre was angry but with Kat in her lap she was remiss to move. "So you would rather them hurt and distracted? That...that man was not normal. They cannot win and if that is our purpose.....what use am I!"

Tim flinched as if her words were blows. "You wouldn't be here if you didn't matter. Arin needs to find you. He needs to fix things. He carries guilt as you do."

"So I am here to make him feel better. All the flashbacks, the guilt and tears are to make Arin feel better. Special my ass. I am a check mark on a to do list."

Deirdre looked away. "Go, find him. Hurt him now so that it will somehow be better later." Her tone was cold.

She began to shift from the door, moving Kat with her. "We will be here. I won't leave her alone."

Tim looked beyond uncomfortable. "I will find him and you will see. This all has a reason." He tried to sound more confident than he felt in that moment. He took two strides to the now unblocked door and opened it.

Two women bumped into him as they rushed to stalls. With a last look behind him he disappeared into the crowd once more.

Deirdre pulled Kat close as they sat on the floor. Her hand stroked Kat's head slowly. "Tell me about yourself. Tell me about Arin and the others."

If Kat hadn't been under the influence, she probably would had shrugged the question off and dug right into Arin, which was a far more comfortable topic. As it was, Kat was in the mood for oversharing. "Haven't you guessed yet? I'm the little orphan side kick with freak computer talking powers." Kat said bitterly. "A stupid fucking cult killed my parents and I spent three years in a fae supremacist re-education camp, the awesome perks of being a walking ATM. Saw a lot of bad shit and didn't do enough to stop it, so I think I got you cornered on the guilt thing." She plowed along, surprised at her own willingness to talk about it. "...Don't tell Tim okay, he'll look at me different. I think I actually have him deluded into thinking I'm cool." She said with a bark of laughter that was more to mask the flood of negative emotion welling up from those memories.

"Arin is good, fights with Viv sometime, but he's strong. Works as a bartender at Galaxy too, which is pretty cool. He doesn't treat me different ether, even though he knows...I think you'll like him." Kat continued, patting her shakily on the knee.

"You're not useless you know." Kat said after a beat of silence. "Even then you weren't. You're strong in other ways. You're mentally tough." Kat said gently poking Deirdre's forehead. "You make people want to be their best, that's why they need you..."

Deirdre stared down at the girl in her lap. It was a lot to take in and it was the last part that struck her the hardest at first. She shook it off and gave Kat a sweet smile. "Sounds to me like you are the one who is mentally tough. That is quite the life you have had. You don't look like a freak to me. Okay the neon is a bit much..." She smiled and gave a light laugh. "You seem very smart and very put together. I am sure Tim thinks very highly of you. He is certainly protective."

"If you knew half the things I've been a part of, you wouldn't want to touch me." Kat deadpanned, but shifted gears willingly enough when she mentioned Tim. Her grin was goofy but contagious when she replied. "Yeah, Tim's awesome. Sometimes he'll even act like I'm not some kid and flirt back. Not like other people, they're just patronizing about it. Talk to me like I'm a fucking puppy are something." Kat said making a face.

She brushed a piece of hair from Kat's cheek. She left the topic of what Kat had done alone for the moment. "A bartender at Galaxy you say? I was there last night. I wonder which one he was...Who is Viv?"

"Purple hair, hard to miss. I give him crap for it all the time..." Kat said grinning, remembering how hard she'd ribbed him for it when he'd first gotten it.

She didn't feel up to responding to the comment that she was mentally strong. The words were still very slowly sinking in and she couldn't quite bring herself to believe them. She didn't feel strong. She didn't feel needed in a way that was productive. She just was. She was there. Deirdre pushed thoughts of herself aside and focused on Kat.

"Tell me about Viv."

"She saved me." Kat said quietly. "I'm her resident charity case." Kat clarified. "Old fae, and powerful, or at least she used to be. She doesn't talk about it much, but I think she used to be a seelie court fae. She' s the Lady of the Lake now though, guards the sword."

Deirdre nodded slowly. She was listening but had a great deal of information to file away. Purple hair. He was there. I didn't talk to him. Maybe for the best...Tim, knight I know that. Treats her well. A kid but not immature or young. Age only. To be respected. Viv...Lady of the Lake. She felt like every part of her tensed with just the title on her mind. The sword.

"What is Kat short for?"

"Katrina...I think it was supposed to be after my grandma." Kat said numbly.

"It is a very regal name." Deirdre gently ran her hand over Kat's head. People came and went from the bathroom though no one said anything to them and those that stopped to look were waved away with a brief motion of her hand.

"You know, it sounds to me that you are not a charity case. It sounds like Viv is a smart woman and knew what she saw when she met you. I bet she never doubted for a second what sort of woman you'd turn into. You came here tonight, for what? To dance? Seems not quite right. We both know Tim isn't the cut loose and shake his hips kind of guy. I bet you are quite the force to be reckoned with. In fact I have seen parts of that myself."

There was some silence as she surveyed the girl in her lap. So young yet so much experience, so much pain. More than enough for a lifetime. The things she could show us...

She closed her eyes briefly. "I don't want to be useless but I don't think I am as strong as she was." The words were little more than a whisper. Deirdre was afraid and this was about the only time that someone would get her to admit it and she was only able to say it out loud because Kat was sharing so much and D was sure the girl might not remember it in the morning.

"Well you're not her, and you shouldn't try to be. It'll just make you crazy." Kat said reassuringly. "Your past life is the past y'know, experiences to draw on. Doesn't mean you'll make the same choices or feel the same things as she did. It's just a matter of filtering I bet."

"So ideally I won't have feelings for either man and I can crush Arin's dreams of fulfilling his mission...great so no matter what I do someone is getting hurt." She sighed a little. "I sound terribly pessimistic. What if he is great?"

"Some dreams are stupid." Kat said bluntly. " And you can't live for other people." Kat shrugged. "I think he's cool, but he's also like my brother, so what else am I going to think?"

"Tell me about him. Not that he is a bartender. Tell me about what he is like as a person." She was curious about this man though it concerned her that Kat had said he was a bit obsessed with Guinevere. She could see it from his side, a fulfilling of the past but there was a part of her that worried he would like her because of who she was then and not who was now. If she could know more about him it might help her.

Kat had to think about that for a moment. How did you accurately describe someone who was a constant and integral fixture in your life? "He's protective, but not in an overbearing sort of way. Gives people space when they need it, and will totally ninja hug you from behind if you're too proud to ask for one after a bad day. He's outgoing, one of those friendly types that can charm the pants off people without even trying y'know. He's also got this quiet confidence about him, and I think he'd rather show off than brag about anything." Kat explained.

"He's also got this weight to him, that kind of sadness people get when they've been worrying about something their whole lives. Arin's Viv's son, so he's grown up knowing who he is, and I think that does something to a kid. Living with that kind of guilt his whole life, I think he's built up this fantasy in his head where he's gonna meet you and make everything right, that way maybe some of that guilt will edge off a bit. Try not to hold it against him okay, he doesn't know you yet, he just knows the idea of you."

Deirdre looked away, "He sounds wonderful." It made her sad to know that he was so complex yet had to live with the guilt longer than anyone. Was that a part of their punishment? It felt like it. To feel the guilt and worse to know that the man she had loved so strongly came back and could never escape it. At least she had been ignorant of it for a long time but not him. "It won't go away, the guilt just by us meeting. It is going to be worse when I am not someone he is interested in and he tries to pretend there is more there than there is."

She smiled down at Kat, "I don't hold anything against him. Don't worry. Maybe it will be different this time. Maybe this other girl is his Guinevere and I am just the part that will help him with the guilt and he can go off and be happy with her. Who knows. Maybe he meets me and hates me and just the fact that he has no feelings is enough to take the guilt away. He can do it right this time...for both of us...for all three of us."

"I think regardless of how you both end up feeling about each other, that it's more important that you guys forgive yourselves...or past selves. The only crime any of you committed was loving each other too much, and I mean if you're going to be villainized for something, might as well be for good reasons." Kat replied, before a more lucid and mischievous thought ran past her hazy head. "Y'know...I hear people now a days are more open that that whole threesome thing...If all else fails, I'm just saying..." Kat joked.

Deirdre started laughing. For the first time in days she openly laughed. "I will keep that in mind. If all else fails take them both to bed." She put her head back against the wall. "You know Arin might be in trouble anyway. I mean I did end up kissing this blonde woman in the bathroom at Galaxy and she turned into Arthur when I started hallucinating. Maybe in this life Lancelot and Arthur won't have a chance..." She chuckled again. Her mind drifted to the blonde and how she had been hugging her back, how intense the kiss was and the look on her face when she broke the moment.

"Maybe I am into women?"

A woman in the bathroom looked over at Deirdre. "Hey sweetie, let me know if you ever want to find out for sure. I can help." She gave Deirdre a wink.

"Oi! I got dibs on the role of bi-curious genie-pig!" Kat exclaimed cheekily. "It's part of my duty as the cheeky comic relief."

Deirdre bit her lips and smiled before looking down at Kat quickly. She wasn't sure if she should laugh or what. "Um, thanks I will keep that in mind." She gave Kat a look of amusement. "See?"

The woman looked over at the pair and with a bit of a scoff left the bathroom. Deirdre shook her head and giggled. "Bi-curious genie? Is that your nickname or something?"

"I don't know, I'm drunk...I think...my diction's all over the place tonight." Kat replied with a shrug. "I prefer equal opportunist myself...but Batman will also do." Kat chuckled. "If you want in on the montage, you're gonna have to be Batgirl though. I've already assigned Tim as my Robin, and I will not give up my dream of seeing him in tights."

Deirdre smiled again. "Tim in tights...I could see that. I have seen a lot of men in tights." She pointed to her chest. "Dancer. All the men wear tights when you are a ballet dancer." She frowned a little, "What's Batman? And before you go all shocked on me I was in a ballet school until this year. I didn't get out much or at all. I am only now just learning about tv shows and movies, hell a lot of music too. My parents were pretty careful when I was home to make sure I was still going to classes. Between that and sleeping, studying there isn't a lot of time for fun. Hell my first kiss was only like a day ago and it was a woman...and I ruined that by hallucinating and freaking us both out."

"Nice, men in tights..."Kat giggled as Deirdre explained. "Yeah, I can see that. You kind of look like a dancer." She didn't hear about ballet much, but then she didn't really run in the circles for that kind of thing either. She'd kind of skipped over that whole "I want to be a ballerina" phase of her life. When D said she'd never heard of Batman however, her mind went blank.

"I must save you!" Kat said looking up at Deirdre in horror. "A life without Batman is empty and sad...where do I even start with you?" Kat mused absently.

Deirdre shrugged, "Consider me a blank slate. There is a lot of my life that I have missed by trying to be perfect and the special girl my parents wanted me to be. I am game for anything. Only reason I come to things like this. It is so different than anything I know. And school…the freedom bit intoxicating honestly." She looked at Kat. "Oh, sorry."

Kat pursed her lips and gave a lopsided thumbs up sign to show she was cool. "S'ok, that's how life should be I guess. If nothing ever make you feel excited, what's the point?"

Deirdre nodded slowly. "Can you tell my parents that?" It struck her in that moment that Kat was a teenager but she spoke with the maturity and experience of someone far older. She wondered just what had happened to her before she was taken in. "They would have rather I was on stage, a pretty and perfect ballerina, safe from the horrors of the world." As if on cue her phone vibrated in her pocket.

"I bet that is my mother now. She wants to know that I am doing alright...it is Saturday night and she is worried I might get into trouble. I might be drinking or drugs or the worst, having fun."

"Sometimes the world's scary. Moms are supposed to worry right? The ones in those ABC Family movies always do." Kat added, not really sure what else to say. She didn't have a whole lot of experience with moms.

Deirdre pulled her phone out of her pocket. She held it up. There on the screen a text from her mother. Hi Princess! Just checking in.... "Ha. Predictable as ever."

She dropped her hand down. "Is Viv protective of you? What about Arin?"

"She gets on me if she thinks I'm being reckless I guess, and she helps out if I get into too much trouble on errands." Kat answered reluctantly. Viv was protective in her own way she supposed, but the Fae were pretty hard core proponents of tough love, and coddling wasn't really their thing. She was warmer with Arin though, it was hard to see sometimes, but Kat noticed it. She was a tough mom, but she was far more willing to idly touch him or give a random word or praise. It was natural motherly affect she supposed, but didn't voice that. "She's supportive." Kat concluded. "Tough but fair. She gives you what you need, even if you don't really appreciate it right away."

Deirdre nodded slowly. "She sounds like she trusts you to try things, to tackle problems but she makes sure you don't get in over your head."

When she asked about Arin, Kat snorted. "Not the way Tim is." She said with a goofy grin. Tim was kind of like a guard dog if tonight was anything to go off of, barking at anything suspicious that got too close. Arin was much more like Viv in that department. She knew he'd have her back if there was ever any real trouble, but he let her make her own decisions and work through the consequences herself.

"Arin sounds like he has a lot of faith in you too. Smart people. I know it didn't take much to convince me that you knew what you were talking about. I don't know how you knew to follow me but I am glad you did."

She went silent for a moment, her fingers played with Kat's hair. "I don't think I should be here when he bring Arin in. I don't think I should meet him. Not if he is with someone. Maybe in the future, a year from now...I don't know but..."

Deirdre looked pained. "I am scared. I know I should be asking more questions and maybe even freaking out more but this whole past life thing isn't so bad, it just makes this life more confusing and I really don't want to hurt them again. I don't want to be used to make him feel better. I-I don't want to do this."

Kat sighed heavily, not really sure what to say to that. She wasn't like Tim or Arin, she couldn't honestly say she understood the feeling because it would just be a lie. Feeling trapped with no control over your life though was something she got. "Then don't let him define your life, either of them. You're strong and independent, so don't let them dictate how you live. If you run though, it just gives them more power over you. When you do that, they're the ones dictating your life, so don't let them do that."

Deirdre frowned, "If I make the choice not to be involved, to just walk away how is that letting them dictate my life. I am making the choice to live my life without them. I don't need Arthur or Lancelot. I don't need this." She trembled a little. "What if I stay and I meet Arin and I like him? What if it turns into more than that? Then when I meet Arthur what if it happens again? What if I can't stop it?"

"I don't know." Kat said honestly. "But I do know that when you start running from the things that scare you, you never really stop, and then that's what really runs your life."

She shook her head. "I don't want to leave you alone but I am afraid of what will happen if Tim comes back and Arin is with him. Or the poor girl he is courting." She knew Kat was right, that running from them now wasn't going to solve anything. She only wanted to run because she was afraid, a large part of her wanted to stay and be with them again. They tugged at her and her other self had told her they needed her. Deirdre didn't honestly think she could make herself walk away from Tim and once she met Arin she knew it was going to be even harder.

"I won't go anywhere but when he doesn't like me it will be a relief."

She wanted to change the subject away from her fears. "So Tim...how did you meet him? When I met him he never said anything about being a reincarnated knight of the round table though he was very chivalrous."

"In a pizza parlor." Kat blurted, equally happy for the subject change. "I flirted him into submission and he was too tired to fight back." Kat said with a grin. "Then a succubus tried to eat his face and I had to rescue him. No biggy."

"Succubus?" Deirdre bit her lip to stop from giggling. The mental picture of Kat flirting with Tim that he ended up on his knees at her feet was just too amusing. "What's a succubus?" She tried to keep her attention on the more serious part of Kat's comment.

"The chick version of roofie-dude." Kat grumbled. "The feed on people by having sex. Make people so crazy for it that sometimes they stay that way, or just die. Sometimes people just wake up in a hotel room the next morning with a room bill and a body ache. They're not always predictable."

Deirdre gagged a little. "I would have had sex with him? Oh no...no...my first time with him, that...Thank god Tim knew what to do."

"We're lucky we were in a crowded place and he wasn't hungry enough to be bothered with a fight." Kat replied. "Besides the magic sex hands, those things are strong. The bitch we ran into last night chased us into a freaking law building before I could get us out of there." Kat grumbled. Remembering the succubus's hands on Tim, all claiming and manhandling-like made a little green eyed monster rear its ugly head.

"She sounds lovely..." Her tone was sarcastic. "So succubus that is what we are fighting? We stop sex crazed...what are they? Demons or something? And the world is saved?" I should be more freaked out by this. I should be laughing at the absurdity. None of it felt crazy to her.

"Pssht, I wish. Those things are just bottom feeders, low caste among the Unseelie, dark fae I mean. The light fae aren't much nicer, but at least they don't eat people and stick to their side of the vale for the most part." Kat replied. "They're not all bad, but it's not a good idea to trust one you don't know really well."

"I don't understand. If it isn't just them who else? What exactly is it we are supposed to be fighting against?"

Deirdre brushed a strand of hair from Kat's eyes. Three women came into the bathroom chattering away. They ignored the pair on the floor. Two of them popped something into their mouths while the other brushed her fingers through her hair to fix it. Their make up was running due to sweat and in the light of the bathroom they looked a mess. In dark of the club no one would notice.

"I'll get you the encyclopedia." Kat said dryly. There were just too many different kinds of fae to list out here.

"Oh goody, more studying." Deirdre sighed and looked to the bathroom door. "What if he doesn't find them? Can I take you someplace?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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"True enough. Nice thing about being on scholarship I guess. No parents trying to push you into their dream career." Arey conceded. The music had just changed over to a rare slow song, and Arey had shifted her arms up almost shyly to circle round Arin's neck. Arey hadn't slow danced since year 9, and that had been an awkward mess, but she figured she still knew what to do.

Not long into the song though, a shirtless man came pushing through the crowd and stopped when he saw Arin. Apparently they knew each other Arey thought in confusion. The guy seemed vaguely familiar, but Arey couldn't place him. A classmate maybe she reasoned? "Do you two need a minute?" Arey asked awkwardly, feeling like she was intruding on something.

Arin was enjoying the closeness when someone bumped and grabbed him. Exasperated he turned to brush off a suspected drunk or otherwise over served when he recognized Tim, "What? Why the hell are you here?"

Tim looked completely unsure and cut off anything else Arin might say, "I-Kat...." With a deep inhale he relaxed just a little. "Look, sorry I need you to come to the bathroom. Kat's not okay. And...." He looked over at Arey. "Things aren't what you think they are."

He gave Arin a look that asked him to trust him. He knew he had only just met him but he hoped that their past bond would count for something. "You can bring her too but...not sure that is a good idea."

"Kat? What?" Arin sighed, "I should have figured she wouldn't leave well enough alone."

He turned back to Arey, "Kat is that sort of sister I was talking about. Tim here is a friend. Apparently they must have got wind of my plans to come here and wanted to join the fun. You're more than welcome to come meet Kat. Despite what Tim says, it's probably fine," Arin had a sense of dread. He knew Tim wasn't going to speak lightly, but he really didn't want to desert Arey. He looked to Tim, trying to convey the spot he was in.

Why do I feel liked I've just been insulted? Arey thought taken aback. Wondering why Arin's friend seemed so put off by her. They hadn't even bloody met, and she was already getting pointed "ditch her" looks from his friends. She wasn't really sure how to respond to that, but at the mention of Arin's sister being in trouble, she back off from the issue mentally. Maybe he was just anxious was all.

Tim looked ill. "Nice to meet you, wish it was better circumstances." He held out a hand and braced himself. "I am Tim. Sorry about all this, really. Bad time here and all..." He felt terrible but he was incredibly certain that this was not going to go well.

"You too." Arey replied, reaching out to take his hand until she got a better look at his face, and reached her hand up to feel his forehead instead. "Bloody hell, are you alright?! You're burning up!" Arey asked concerned, the pre-med student in her kicking in as a strong urge to protect and take care of this man came over her.

Tim shook his head, eyes wide. "No. No things are not alright." He looked to Arin. How did he not know? How did he think it was Guin? Tim knew, the moment her hand touched his forehead. He saw it all. The kneeling as he was knighted, the discussions over maps, the laughing, the battles. His eyes moved from the woman to Arin and back again. He had to fight the urge to kneel at her feet. Oh Arin....

Oh fuck. Really? Arin inwardly winced as he watched the two react to each other.

Tim didn't know if she felt it too but he knew. Trust your instincts Kat said. Well I fucking win the prize now don't I?

"We need to go to the bathroom...." It was all he could say. He stared at Arey, the woman before him with admiration and respect in his eyes.

"I think you need some water." Arey replied, seeing the look in his eyes snapping her back to reality, and making her feel insanely uncomfortable. A little warning of trepidation flared up from somewhere deep inside, and something screamed at her that she certainly did not want to go anywhere near that bathroom.

Arin looked to Arey and half shrugged, "Maybe you should come. I think you might be interested in meeting Kat too. She's cool."

"You're friend said she wasn't feeling well, are you sure she'd want me there...?" Arey asked uncertainly. She trusted Arin, probably more than knowing him for two days warranted, but there was also a growing anxiety rising up that she couldn't put a name to.

Arin was feeling pressured. Obviously Tim and Kat have had some kind of event, happening or something. He couldn't just leave Arey here. Yet, Tim was quite insistent that her coming was bad. He knew Tim for less than a day but something in him was sure that Tim would not be frivolous about this. Arin needed some kind of assurance that Arey wouldn't just leave. Meeting Kat at a rave and getting it all laid out wasn't his plan. He needed to do something to make sure that Arey would be here when he came back, or at the very least, there would be a second date.

"I'm pretty sure things are okay. If you'd like to meet her now, shouldn't be a problem. If not, wait here, I'll be right back," Arin leaned in toward her, sliding a hand behind her head. He kissed her, gently, but fully. He was hoping for some kind of spark, flashback, something to convince her to stay. It was extremely pleasant. He quite enjoyed the kiss. However, it was a kiss. Nothing else.

He stepped away, "I... I'll be right back. Or... you know."

Tim froze. Oh not good...not good... He waited, holding his breath and frowned as Arin stepped away. No shock, no surprise. My instincts have been right. He’s deluded. His mouth formed a straight line. "You both coming or what?" Still not a good idea.

The kiss was unexpected, out of the blue really, but not unwelcome either. She didn't exactly have a lot of experience with the whole kissing thing, and she was pretty much forcefully blocking out the insident from last night completely, but this definitely hit the top of her list. A little unsurely, she kissed back, enjoying to feel of his surprisingly soft lips against hers as she tilted her head back for a better angle. It was over too quickly, and she felt a little breathless afterward, but she was smile once the broke away, a little confused but happy.

"Sure..." Arey said hesitantly, lacing her fingers through Arin's when Tim asked if she was coming or not. It didn't really feel right to just stay behind after sharing that, and he was asking her to meet his sister. It would be rude to not go she reasoned, pushing away the nervous feeling.

Tim sighed and led the way to the women's bathroom. How do I explain this to him. Shit this is going so beyond bad. What would Ywain...I mean I do? Tim didn't have a clue.

He pushed open the door and looked down at Deirdre and Kat who remained where he left them on the floor. "I found Arin but you should know I found out that..."

Deirdre looked up as they entered. She paled immediately. "I have to go."

Tim shook his head. "No you have to stay. We..." He looked at Arin. "Lock the door would you?"

Deidre was shaking, almost violently. She kept shaking her head.

Arin looked at Tim, confused by the request, "Huh? Why? And who's... oh, wait. I remember you. From Galaxy."

"No, no you don't." She gently moved Kat. "Arin is here. I have to go." She couldn't bring herself to look at the blonde woman.

Arey didn't notice the other woman at first, as she'd sent an odd look Tim's way when he said to lock the bathroom door. When she heard Arin say he recognize someone from Galaxy however, she turned her head to look at the other occupants in the bathroom before going as stiff as a board, and almost forget to breath.

ITS HER! a voice she didn't recognized in her mind screamed, though Arey certainly recognized her from last night. She wanted to leave, and Arey seconded the motion, suddenly overcome with the urge to flee.

Tim sighed, "You can't leave."

Deirdre's lip trembled. "Yes I can." She stood gently leaving Kat. Her eyes moved from the woman to Arin. "This is a big joke. That is why I am here. You want a reason? It is punishment for what I did. I am to watch them..."

Tim reached out to grab Deirdre as she headed to the door. She stopped dead in front of Arin who blocked her path. "Let me pass please." Her voice was full of sadness and pleading.

Tim shook his head. "If you do Arin you are making a big mistake."

Deirdre raised her eyes to meet Arin's, "Please."

The pain in the other woman's voice felt like a physical blow to Arey, and her hand dropped from Arin's as if burned. She was confused, felt jumbled. Part of Arey wanted nothing more than to pull the other woman into her arms and hold her until her pain went away, a deep voice that was not her own demanded it. The other part screamed at her to run, fast and far and to never come back. She started breathing hard instead, inching closer to the door as the other woman approached.

Arin's world flipped. He felt like he must do what this new woman asked, as though he should be only out to ensure her desires. Looking into her eyes as she pleaded with him to let her pass all the flashbacks with Arey replayed in his head. Every one of them included Guin. Yet, every one of them included Arthur. Arin felt the color drain from his face. His one chance to make it right. His whole goal in this new life, missed because he mistook the person in the vision. There she was and he had left her to Shane.

He turned to Tim, "I don't know what to do now. Help?"

He sunk to the floor.

Tim looked pained. "I-"

Deirdre watched Arin sink to the floor, she could hear the woman behind her, breathing hard out of anxiety. "I have done it already." There were tears in her eyes. She looked at Tim. "You should tell them. Help him."

She looked down at Arin and knelt beside him. Her hand brushed his cheek. "I am sorry...."

Tim was at a loss. He crossed to Arey. "Here, come get a drink of water..." He wanted to clear space, to give the three of them room and right now Arey looked in the most need of some sort of breather. "It's okay, it is a lot to take in."

Arey didn't know what had happened, couldn't explain it to herself in any way that made sense. Not five minutes ago she'd just had her first proper kiss with a boy she liked, and now it felt like the world had just flipped on its side. Arin sunk to the floor, looking as lost as she felt, and she didn't know what to do. Arin was hurting, that woman was hurting and she didn't know how to make it stop. The woman looked heartbroken, and she leaned down next to Arin, apologizing as she brushed his cheek.

And that was all it took. Like a flood gate had just been opened up, pain, anger, betrayal all felt fresh and new. She saw flashes of images, people she recognized but didn't, and then there was just pain. In the back of her mind she felt a presence, trying to crawl its way to the surface, trying to gently edge her back for control, and that, more than anything else, terrified her. With a will power she hardly knew she possessed, she beat back at it relentlessly until it finally slunk away.

"I don't want any water." Arey replied hoarsely brought back from the brink by Tim's voice. "I don't know what the bloody hell you're talking about, but this is...is..." Arey didn't finish that sentance. Instead she turned on her heel and launched herself at the door.

Deirdre stood and put her hand up to stop Arey. "Don't. Don't leave. You are scared and confused. We all are." She was surprisingly calm. Her eyes met Arey's. Their blue depths made Deirdre feel like she was drowning for a moment. "Please. Don't leave him, not like this. We all just need a moment."

Arin sat on the floor, looking straight down. His attention had been totally focused on Tim or the new woman until this point. Now, he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, Kat, laying on the floor. He turned to look at her. She did not look well. Arin shook his head and suddenly, the Lancelot part of him fell away. What had happened to Kat. He turned to Tim and almost growled, "Is Kat okay? What happened? Who did this to her?" He dragged himself over to where she lay.

"S'okay...I barffed up most of the drugs…I think." Kat mumbled, head still pounding too much to get up.

Tim inhaled. "Incubus. He got a hold of her as she was chasing Deirdre and got her drunk but I fought him off. She is okay just still a bit drunk. He got me as well, while I was trying to find you to tell you I found...well you know. She stayed with Kat but I think she needs to get home."

Deirdre looked at Arey, "You will be okay." She gave her a smile and squeezed her hand before turning for the door.

Arin stood up, a resolve coming back that had been missing for a time, "Don't." The soldier in him started giving orders, "There is no guarantee this Incubus has left. Or that it's the only one here. If you leave now, when they know you are here, you are unlikely to make it to the door. Now is not the time to play with the past. We need to focus on the present and get us all out of here, safe. Tim, that cross, it's iron?"

Arey didn't know what to think. This was the girl who had comforted her yesterday when she'd thought the world was crashing down around her. Her eyes were earnest and a part of Arey called out to go to her. She couldn't believe a words the woman way saying though, it just all sounded too insane.

"Don't yell at her." Arey practically growled. An anger rising up in her that was partly her own, but mostly not. "What the fuck are you talking about?" Arey felt like shouting, felt like punching someone, and a lot of that anger seemed highly directed for some reason.

Tim nodded slowly, his eyes on Arey's back. All kinds of fucked up now. "He warned me there were more out there."

"Perfect. I have a set of, well not brass knuckles obviously, but iron. You and I will cover the others," he turned to Arey. He knew what she would be feeling. He saw it in her face, but he didn't have the ability or desire to explain.

"I am not yelling. I am trying to ensure none of us end up as a midnight snack. Please, be pissed at me all you like, swear at me up and down, but do not go off on your own. If you are so pissed at me that you can't accept my help then accept Tim's. For her sake." He pointed at Kat.

"We need to get her home. She will explain it all."

Deirdre was still looking at Arey. She didn't move though she wanted to.

"Help from what?!" Arey exclaimed in frustration. No one was talking sense. Incubuses? What the flying fuck!? Was this just some kind of game? Get his buddies from Galaxy to pull some stupid prank on one of the girls who was fool enough to give him their number at the bar? That seemed a hell of a lot more plausible than anything they were telling her now.

"Help from those that would harm you, and them. I know it makes no sense and defies all reason but it is the truth. They will protect you even though you don't know that you need it." Her voice was calm and reassuring. There was a levelness to it that should not be there given all that had gone on. "There are things that are strange and unusual out there. Haven't you seen the crowd?" She offered Arey a reassuring smile.

Arey just stared hard, at each and every one of them in turn. "Do you have any idea how bonkers you sound?"

"Only every idea," Arin nodded.

"Yes" Tim said.

Deirdre nodded.

"Look, you said you were thinking about being a doctor? Think of it this way. This young girl needs help out of a rave and she's currently surrounded by a bunch of loons. Seems like it's the only reasonable thing for you to do. Help her get home safe," Arin knew there was no way he would convince her of the rest of it. So, he fell to something more mundane.

"I thought she was your sister? Or was that a lie too?" Arey asked eyes hard, though they softened a little when she looked at Kat. She looked dehydrated and definitely under the influence of something. Medical attention there would be wise.

"I always said, sort of sister. She's not directly related but she lives with my mother," Arin explained.

"She crazy too?" Arey shot back, though her eyes stayed with Kat, the overly morally compelled part of her being too easily swayed.

Tim moved to pick Kat up, cradling her in his arms. Nice play Arin. He gave the man a look of appreciation.

Kat gave an exaggerated cough, playing along. "Help me they're nuts..." She joked weakly giving Arey a wink. Arey just blinked, not sure what to say to that.

"Not helping Kat," Arin whispered to her.

Deirdre backed up very slowly to the door. She hoped to make an exit while they discussed. She stopped when she noticed Tim's eyes on her. The look he gave her made her pause.

Tim whispered to Arin. "Don't let Deirdre slip away. She is going to try, I know it."

Arin nodded, "Noted."

Arin looked to the woman Tim called Deidre, "It's really, really not a good idea to leave. You know that. Tim says you've experienced it. Nothing in this room is going to be worse that what one of those things will do to you," Arin spoke plainly. He wasn't trying to convince her, he was just laying it bare. Too many balls in the air and he was just barely keeping it together himself. The only thing going for him was the knowledge that Viv had given him. He knew damn well that, if what Tim said was true and there were more of those monsters out there, then the only way they had a chance was sitcking together.

Tim nodded, "Shall we then?" He hoped that it was settled because he wanted to be anywhere but right here, right now.

Deirdre looked away from Arin. She couldn't face him. "I am aware but I thank you to leave me to my own decisions. You have enough on your plate."

Tim crossed the bathroom, Kat in his arms. He passed Arey, "Come on. Stay close." He moved to the door, slipping past Deirdre. "Don't you dare disappear."

"I do have a lot on my plate. Yes. And you taking off will only add to that burden," Arin sighed.

Tim opened the door and exited the bathroom. He gave one last look over his shoulder to make sure they were all following.

Deirdre stepped out of the way, letting Arey move past. "You should stay close in case she gets sick again. There was more than just booze that he gave her."

She looked at Arin, "I will not add to your problems here. But I cannot stay once we are outside. I shouldn't be here."

"I will not tell you what to do outside of any threatening situation. However, I strongly advise you to continue with us to a safe place. We will then be able to arrange anything that needs arranging," Arin's tone was one of resignation. He didn't have the will to fight multiple battles. He just wanted to get everyone safe and be allowed to focus on that. It was the only thing allowing him to function currently.

Deirdre smiled. "I know who I am. I know who I was. I know what is out there...mostly. I won't interfere with what you were doing." She turned and followed out the door. Her chest hurt and she wanted to cry but couldn't. There would be time for that later.

Arin turned to Arey, "Please?"

Arey felt conflicted. They were obviously crazy, all of them, but they made it clear they weren't letting her leave the bathroom unless it was with them, and apparently the club to. Arin said safe place, which implied he was trying to take her somewhere. There was no way in fucking hell she was going to let that happen, but for now she'd play along until they got out to the streets. She could break away once they were out there, and she was confident she could outrun any of them of foot. It was survival mode now, so silently she followed along, tense, and waiting for her chance to bolt.

"Where'd your shirt go?" Kat asked absently to Tim, as if just noticing that it was gone.

Tim blushed, "Ugh well....Incubus took it off of me. He well...I fought but he managed to get close. Strong bugger."

"That code for he put the whammy on you?" Kat replied tiredly, but some humor played across her face.

Tim looked chagrinned, "A little but not because I wasn't trying. It was not easy for him."

"Never said it was." Kat agreed. "You're a strong bugger too."

"You are sweet Kat. I still feel like I failed and with..." Tim shook his head. "Never mind. You just rest sweetie." He hugged her a little closer, feeling very protective and overly aware.

"You didn't fail anything." Kat protested. "I'm the one supposed to be looking out for you noob." She gently patted him on the shoulder snuggling closer for reassurance. "Can't help your MVP gettin' KOed in the first quarter." She tried to tease.

Tim blushed. "Rest you." He looked up towards where they were going.

"Oh yeah." Kat challenged. "Make me." She finished sticking out her tongue.

"Careful there half pint." He smiled down at her.

"Are you really gonna make that a thing?" Kat whined at the nickname, but smiled back.

"Maybe. You gonna make me stop? Half pint?" Tim gave her a wink.

"Don't tempt me toots. I can be pretty creative when properly motivated." She grinned back, pleased.

Tim chuckled.

Deirdre walked, back straight and held slightly tilted. She heard Arin ask the woman to come along. She felt a twinge of guilt that she hadn't done enough to calm the woman down and still put up a resistance of her own. When she saw them walk in together it was like someone had stabbed her. She immediately knew who the woman was, no doubt. Maybe it is for the best. I won't have to be the thing that relieves his guilt. He will have Arthur, he will have her. No conflict, no hiding. They can have a bond that is as strong as it was before and there will be no worry that I might come between them. This is right. She tried to convince herself of that and her rational mind knew it but another part of her was heartbroken. She had hurt them by her mere presence. I told Tim he should have just let me go. If Arin had figured it out after they had been dating then I wouldn't matter, Guinevere wouldn't matter. She was lost in her thoughts as she followed Tim out into the club and to the door.

Tim moved through the bodies, Kat in his arms. He was not gentle as he shoved people out of the way. His eyes darted around, watching for signs of danger as well as behind him to make sure the women followed. He knew Arin would ensure it as well, he trusted him. He fought back his sense of dread, replacing it with duty and alertness. There was no time now to worry about what might happen once they got out of here.

The front door loomed ahead. Tim was almost holding his breath. He worried about what might be waiting for them out there. Not just now but in the coming days. What would happen with Arin and Arey? What of Deirdre? Could this be repaired enough that they could still win this battle that seemed to be coming or were they doomed before they really had gotten started?

Arin finally followed the rest out of the bathroom. There was no time to wallow in his self-pity, he had to make sure they were safe. He watched the crowd and the group in front of him. Deirdre walked just like Guin did. Proud, regal, beautiful. He shook his head. Stop, that's over now. Focus. He saw Tim and Kat exchanging grins. Good, she seems okay. Arin was just realizing that Kat meant more to himself, as Arin, than anything about Guin did to his Lancelot part. It was seeing Kat helpless on the floor that kicked him out of his stupor. Sort of sister? I think I can drop the sort of now. Finally he looked back to Arey. She looked jumpy, shocked and scared. No doubt, and she hasn't even been told who she was yet. Arin sighed. This beautiful woman, who he was actually finding himself attracted to and not as Lancelot, but as Arin, turns out to be his king and best friend ever. What's next? Merlin is some sort of skeptic that rails against any type of unexplainable anything? I can't imagine this becoming more awkward.

The shock of the cold as Tim opened the door refocused Arin's attention. Good job at keeping an eye out. he berated himself.

With a shove he opened the door. The cool air hit his bare torso but his concern was for Kat. He held her closer against him. "Cab?" He looked to Arin.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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INK

Alan hated night clubs. They were noisy, dirty, and attracted the wrong kind of people. Or not people at all, He thought grumpily. Why the professor had sent him here with the damn succubus he’d impressed into service, he had no clue. Matt would have been the better choice, he was the one who could use magic after all. Probably thought he’d get distracted with all the half-naked girls around. he thought unkindly.

“Do you…smell them?” Alan asked the succubus uncertainly, her presence mostly just making him feel uncomfortable. Being attracted to women was weird to him, and though he could rationalize why she could induce that reaction in his head, it didn’t make it feel any less weird.

Shaukar breathed in deeply. They were here. She’d had a taste of the lovely man already, she could track him now, follow his scent wherever he went. The fae girl’s smell she recognized too. They were here, and together. She wanted to rip out the girl’s throat for daring to burn her face with iron. Maybe she’d break the girl’s legs first; drag them both to a corner and make her watch while Shaukar drained the man dry. NOT ENOUGH! her mind screamed. She wanted vengeance, and she’d had her fill of energy last night, thanks to her new employer. She could afford to take her time with this.
“There, by the door.” She hissed, keeping them in her line of sight.

Alan looked at the group she pointed out. Two men and three girls. One he surprisingly recognized. "The one with the ponytail's in my chem class." Alan remarked. "Think she's one of them?"

Shaukar's eyes blazed as they landed on the girl, breathing in a ragged breath. "Yes." She practically moaned.

The door was in sight, and Arey tensed. It felt like someone was watching her, but she decided to chock it up to the watchful eyes of the loons she was currently walking with. She had to stop herself from walking on the balls of her feet, it was too much of a give away to her intention to run. She had to wait until they made it out of the door. Ahead, she heard Tim ask about a cab, and she took a deep breath, preparing to break away.

Arin stepped out the door and turned to Tim, "Absolutely. I have my bike here. I can't take everyone." Leaving Tim with the entire group was not a good idea. Deirdre seemed less likely to bolt currently. Arey seemed unpredictable and Kat needed attention. Having only one person in that group would ensure trouble. "I can leave my bike here and pick it up later."

Tim nodded, relieved that Arin wouldn't leave him to wrangle all the women. He wasn't sure he had the energy or willpower to fight them. "Good, okay...." He shifted Kat and made an arm free. He watched down the street for the first free cab. It wouldn't be hard to get one, not in this city and not outside of a club. One was coming down the road. Tim raised his arm and started waving it down.

Deirdre stood quietly. Her only purpose right now was not to spook the woman and not to make Arin's life more difficult. She'd already done enough by just being there. Once we get to a better place I will just take off. Maybe they will let me just take the cab home... She felt an odd shiver run through her. She didn't want to stay but the other part of her didn't want to be parted from them. You can't win this. I have to do what is best for everyone. Our punishment is I have to distance myself. You did that. Your mistakes have to be paid for and this is it. Deirdre chanced a glance to the blonde woman. She looked stressed and tense. Deirdre wanted to go to her, to hug her but the last time they had ended up in a passionate kiss. The memory made her cheeks flushed a little. She looked away. The universe can be cruel, you just have to live with it. Kat said you were mentally strong, prove it. Walk away without a fuss.

They were outside. Tim held Kat in his arms while he and Arin looked to call over a cab. Carefully Arey looked both ways down ether side of the street. Right would take her toward a main road she guessed, and decided she'd bolt that way. She caught the other woman staring at her for a moment and held her breath. She looked away and Arey turned, sprinting to the right to get away. She couldn't look at those eyes anymore. Run run run...

Deirdre wasn't shocked when she caught the motion of the blonde running away out of the corner of her eye. She licked her lips. Do I slip away? Do I stay?

Tim whipped his head around. 'Fuck. Arin she is running." Tim held Kat but couldn't run after her. "Are you just going to let her run?" He looked to Arin with concern.

Kat glanced over to watch Arey's retreating figure and sighed, wishing she was up to snuff and could chase after. She'd been afraid that blondey might bolt. Instead, she reached her hand out shakily toward Deirdre, trying to look as pathetic and pitiful as possible. "D, will you hold my hand? I feel cold...?" She whimpered like a champ, sending her puppy eyes. Kat wasn't about to watch two of them bolt on her tonight, and she kind of like D anyway.

Arin felt odd. Something wasn't quite right here. There was something else nearby. When Arey bolted Arin didn't react immediately, being distracted by the sense of dread, "Shit! No, Arey, wait!" He turned to follow then stopped as he heard Kat.

Deirdre felt guilty for considering leaving. Kat reached out to her and despite her own discomfort and rationale that she should vanish from Arin's life now, she couldn't just leave. She didn't have it in her to simply walk away when someone needed her reassurance. She liked Kat. The young woman was everything that Deirdre never was. Blunt, confident, independent and just spunky. She reached out to take Kat's hand gently. "Of course I will hold your hand. We will get you home and everything will be okay."

Tim felt bolstered by Deirdre's words though he knew it was more for Kat than anything. Something about her struck a chord in him. He stood taller, more sure that they would be okay than before. His doubts faded slightly.

Arin looked back to Tim, carrying Kat. He wouldn't be able to fight anything like that, "Deirdre, can you take Kat? Let Tim get his arms free? There's something here... I... Why the fuck did she have to run?"

Tim took a deep breath. Arin's words caused him to pay attention the weird itch at the back of his mind that he had been ignoring. He looked at Deirdre. "Well?" He handed Kat off without waiting for an answer.

Deirdre couldn't hold the girl like Tim could. She grabbed Kat but immediately sank to the ground with her. "I-I...Go. Don't worry about us."

Tim turned and looked at Arin. "So?" He looked for the cause of his danger sense.

Arin grinned, "Remember. Keep your off hand guard up. Like I've been trying to tell you for centuries. You'll be fine."

"Funny man. You going to get her or what?" Tim readied himself.

Arin was torn, leave Kat, Tim and Deirdre to fend off almost certain danger. Chase Arey, Arthur, so she would come back with them. If Viv found out they let Arthur leave while there were known threats around she would implode. He looked around for that cab, "Look, can we all get to the main street first? Then I'll come back and chase her down on my bike. I should be able to find her. She's only on foot. And she's not been marked yet. You all are known to the unseelie. I don't feel comfortable leaving without assuring you are at least in view of many others and a cab."

Tim set his mouth into a line. "Go. Go now and get her. We will take care of this. Deirdre get a cab."

On the ground Deirdre awkwardly shifted with Kat's body on her. "You know you are heavy for such a little thing. I am not built for lifting people. I usually get lifted." She grunted a little and tried to get to her feet. "Can you stand at all?" It was then that she felt it too, something dangerous was nearby. "Kat? Kat I need you to stand." Her voice was slightly commanding though gentle.

Deirdre looked up at Tim. She said nothing but kept up her effort to get Kat off the ground.

Tim looked at Arin. "Go before they find her. I have this." A part of him, the part that wasn't Tim was far more sure and took control at that moment.

Arin looked up and down the street, "They aren't looking for her, they are here. Where's a fucking cab when you need one. Kat? Kat, can you stand? I need to know you'll be okay too."

"Yeah yeah." Kat grumbled as she began shakily getting to her feet. "Been playin' the cripple enough for one day." Her vision blurred for a few second as she got to her feet, but after that felt surprisingly ok. She shifted her shoulder bag off her arm and opened up the drawstring, pulling out her iron rod. "Fae bitches be crazy if the think they're puttin' hands on my boy toy." She drawled jokingly, sending a wink Tim's way.

Tim blushed a little but kept his attention on the door behind them. He could feel it.

Deirdre looked at Arin, her eyes meeting his as he asked Kat to stand. "We will be fine. Worry not."

Arin took some comfort seeing Kat stand and arm herself. He found himself looking into Deirdre's eyes as she reassured him. Calmness over took him and he smiled, "God damn but you sound just like her."

Arin shook his head, "Right, look, I see a cab heading this way. A couple blocks. I can't let Arth--- Arey get away. Can you imagine what Viv would say, Kat? Shit... Just... don't split up for any reason. Backs to a wall if threatened and Tim, give 'em hell."

"Go." Deirdre stated before turning away and closing her eyes. She raised her arm to flag the cab down. His words left her both happy and extremely sad. Tears stung her eyes and she willed them to stop. You don't get to be hurt. You did this. Every compliment, every look your way is a punishment. Not in this time...now is the time for facing your mistakes.

Tim looked at Kat. "Nice to see you looking more like yourself. Let's kick her ass this time okay? Like really kick her ass not just a little bit." He gave her a smile.

Arin nodded and turned toward his bike and jogged over. He quickly unlocked and geared up. The engine growled to life and he revved it a few times to warm it up. He headed off in the direction Arey fled. The bike would let him be nimble enough if she chose back alleys, he just needed to find her trail again.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera
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INK

"They've separated." Shaukar growled, the urge for blood over taking her as she stalked toward the door and watched them from the shadows.

"Hey, we're just supposed to track them remember." Alan glared, not liking the look that came over her eyes.

"I want him, want to make her paaaay!" She hissed eyes flicking red. The stronger one had chased after the girl who had fled, her soul so strong it was almost blinding. Shaukar wanted her too, but she was too far away...

Blood, she wanted blood she remembered. She'd soak in the seelie-girl and drain the boy. Or maybe she'd keep him, she couldn't decide. A thrall slave might be nice, she hadn't had one in centuries. She sensed another succubus behind her, drawn by the scent of their souls as well. Her hair was a fiery red that matched her eyes, and she looked on ravenously toward the group beyond the door. "Join me?" Shaukar husked with a smirk as the other fae wet her lips.

"Fuck..." Alan grumbled pulling out his phone to call Matt as the two succubi walked out the door, practically blasting him with enough pheromones to bring him to his knees on the way out.

As the door opened, Kat was blasted with pure unadulterated need and tensed as she gritted her teeth. "Fuck..." She growled, gripping the rod more tightly in her grip.

"They're all so beautiful..." The red head said breathily, almost in wonder, her eyes scoping the three." How do we pick?" She asked softly looking to Shaukar, as if Christmas had just been delivered.

Tim was instantly on edge. He held the cross out in front of him. "Two. There are two of them..."

"I know..." Kat gulped nervously, one of her hands slipping from the rod. Why...were they fighting again? It was getting hard to think.

Deirdre kept waving down the cab. At first she didn't sense the new arrivals. She was focused on the task of getting the cab. One seemed to notice her and edged to her side of the road though still half a block away. "I have a..." She turned and froze at the sight. "What are they?"

Almost too quickly to see, the redhead came up next to Deirdre, gently moving some hair from her face as if examining her. "You have such a beautiful soul..." She sighed, bringing her lips up to brush against her forehead.

Tim growled and Deirdre whimpered as the woman kissed her forehead. With less than two steps Tim was on the succubus. He grabbed her, making sure the cross touched her. "Don't you fucking try it." He pulled her from Deirdre. "Kat! Cab's coming let's back it up."

The car was closer now.

Deirdre was confused. She wasn't sure what was happening but she knew that she should get away though couldn't make her feet move. Tim put himself between her and the redheaded woman and she frowned a little. "But...but..."

The redhead cried out as the iron touched her skin, the little piece of jewelry burning her flesh as it it had been sitting on a bed of coals.

Tim had never hit a woman but he resolved himself that this was no woman. Iron cross in hand he decked the redhead.

Shaukar heard the younger succubus struggle, but with the beautiful man distracted, her eyes were only for the seelie whelp. With impressive speed, Shaukar rushed Kat, grabbing her by the neck and lifting her in the air with one hand. Kat tried to bring the rod down on the bitch, but this time she grabbed the right wrist, squeezing until Kat was forced to drop it. "You and I have unfinished business." Shaukar growled, squeezing her hand to block off the air and practically blasting her point blank with pure unbridled lust. Kat's body couldn't figure out whether to choke or moan, and Shaukar's grin was practically feral with victory.

Tim felt a rush of anger. He saw Kat, the rod falling and the succubus gripping her by the neck. A battle cry, a yell of rage burst forth and he barreled through the redheaded succubus intent on the other. His foot came down on something but he didn't stop. He ran, landing a full body check that his hockey coach would have been proud of into Shaukar.

Behind them the cab pulled up. Deirdre was confused. Cab...need to go...but...no... "The.." She shook herself. "Cab, its here!" A moment of clarity pushed forward and as her eyes surveyed the scene she wasn't sure she fully grasped what was going on. "Kat! Tim!" There was fear in her voice now.

Shaukar flew back, hissing like a snake as Kat fell from her grip, landing on the ground in a shaking heap. The red head had already begun to retreat, not having signed up for such violence from her meal and fled back inside.

"You're next!" Shaukar shrieked smugly, reaching out for the man blindly.

Tim landed on the thing. She was clawing at him. He pressed the cross into her and raised his other hand in a fist. Tim began punching her, over and over again in a blind rage.

Deirdre saw Kat fall to the ground. She bolted forward and grabbed the girl. "Come on!" She tried to pull her up and towards the cab. "Tim!"

Kat babbled incoherently, sighing breathily in contentment at the feel of contact against her skin, needing more.

As Tim laid into her, Shaukar began laughing hysterically, high on victory. Even the sting of iron couldn't take away the joy that the sounds coming from the seelie whelp was making. Maybe I drove her crazy! Shaukar thought aloud with glee. It was not an uncommon occurrence after all after too much direct exposure, and she was not being gentle.

Tim was making noises that no 'man' would make. He was beyond anger. He took the cross, ripping it from his neck and in an effort to stop the succubus' noises shoved it forcefully into her mouth. He wanted her to pay.

Deirdre pulled at Kat. "Get up. This instant. We must leave." She took a harsh tone. She knew Kat was not herself but she had no time to play this game. She also had no ability to carry her. With a noise of frustration she ran to Tim.

A hand grabbed his arm and with a snarl Tim turned to strike out at the one who grabbed him. He pulled up just short of punching Deirdre. "I need your help."

He gasped slightly at what he had almost done to Deirdre. She was calm. He stood and followed her. With a large step he was above Kat and quickly scooped her up. Deirdre grabbed the iron rod, Kat's bag and ran to the waiting cab. Tim put Kat over his shoulder and made for the cab as well.

Shaukar was slow getting to her feet, but was ready to follow them when she was stopped by an icy voice projecting from the doorway.

"Who said you had permission to hunt on my territory?" Balthazar's voice rang out with icy calm. Shaukar turned slowly, her eyes filled with terror as she back away slowly, head bend down slightly.

"I-I didn't know this was your territory sir..." She struggled to get out. How had she not noticed his scent?

"I've already marked that lot." He remarked, eyes hard and unyielding. "Run along and pass on that little tidbit through the ranks dear." His voice was dismissive, but final, and Shaukar took the opportunity to flee for what it was. One did not cross the Underking often and live to tell about it.

Kat squirmed in Tim grip, trying to maximize the contact with their skin. She was on fire, and the smooth touch of skin her only balm. She whimpered and needed, but couldn't form the words. Instead she tried ripping at her own shirt, needing to be rid of it NOW!

Tim climbed into the cab, a squirming Kat pulled down into his lap. Deirdre climbed in after them. For a moment the only noise was Kat's whimpering. Tim didn't have an address for Kat's place.

"Round Tablet please."

Tim gave Deirdre a grateful smile and then turned his attention to Kat. She was pulling at her shirt. "Stop that." He pinned her arms to her sides, hugging her tightly to him. It was not right, the way she was whimpering and moving. He looked up at the roof of the cab.

Deirdre inhaled slowly. "It will wear off but it is a matter of when. We can't let her do anything."

Tim nodded slowly. "Tell her that."

The cab drove off.

Kat protested incoherently as Tim pinned her arms. Didn't he understand she burned?! Tears were welling up now, she needed, so badly and she didn't know why. The feel of Tim's naked chest helped a little, even with her own layers in the way, and she splayed herself against him as close as possible, rubbing in an erratic mindless rhythm in an attempt to find relief.

Tim was beyond uncomfortable. Kat was rubbing against him and his only defense was to hold her tighter so she couldn't move. He didn't want to hurt her but he also didn't want her doing things that she shouldn't with her body. He also didn't want his body to react in ways it shouldn't. He was in a very tough spot. Blood, fighting, gore, Viv yelling at you... He was doing everything in his power to focus on anything but the writhing body in his lap.

Deirdre looked on with concern. "I do not know how to help. I am sorry."

Tim didn't look at her, his eyes on the ceiling, "It is fine. We just have to wait this out or get her home so we can lock her in her room, tie her to the bed...Viv will know what to do."

He wanted to apologize but now was not the time. When they got back he would, he would take her aside and say how sorry he was for almost hitting her.

"Hurts..." Kat managed to grit out, the first coherent word she'd managed since suffering the blast. She clutched tightly to Tim, but after a few minutes she'd managed to stop herself from rubbing mostly. The Round Tablet wasn't that far away by cab, and soon they were dropped off in front of the door, Kat still clinging to Tim's chest.

Tim felt bad that Kat was in pain. "I'm sorry..." He was at a loss. Deirdre walked behind him as he approached the door. He banged, solid fist on the door. She contemplated leaving the bag and slipping away but one look at Kat's face and she knew she couldn't just go. I don't belong here.

Tim kept banging. Viv where the hell are you? He didn't have a key, he didn't know how to get in, hell he had never been in the front door before.

"Panel..." Kat struggled to get out, reaching her hand out toward the password protected computerize lock next to the door.

Tim moved, letting Kat get closer to the panel that she reached for. He still held her, afraid of what would happen if he let her go even for an instant but he loosened his grip just enough to let her do what she needed to do.

Deirdre looked around at the neighborhood. I'll go in, drop the bag, make sure Kat is okay and then go home. I can walk till I can find a cab. Heather wi- She looked at her feet, her hands tensing on the bag. Oh no! I left Heather at the club! I left her, I didn't even check to see if she messaged or text her to say I was leaving. Shit, shit....

Her hands fumbled for her phone in her pocket. The message from her mother sat still unread and she pulled up Heather's text messages. Nothing new which meant her roommate was still dancing and not leaving in the short term. Ignoring Tim and Kat she turned her back to them and began to type furiously. Not feeling well. Leaving now. Text when you leave so I know you are okay.

She didn't feel right lying to her but she had no idea how she was going to explain that she left with people she knew but didn't know.

Kat reached out toward the panel, running her hand down the smooth side. "Doug..." She whined to the screen. "Tell...Viv..." She had to stop to reorganize her thoughts. "We're coming in." And with that, the door clicked open. "Mirror..." Kat mumbles, trying to point to the full sized mirror in the far back corner of the shop.

Tim pushed the door open and headed towards the mirror that she had somewhat pointed to. He focused on the fact that his sole task was to get her home and safe. Viv will know what to do. He didn't even look back to see if Deirdre followed.

Deirdre stepped inside. She intended to leave the bag and go back out but she watched as Tim approached the mirror. She froze as he didn't stop and simply kept walking.

"Viv! I need help! Succubus, nasty ones. Incubus too, powerful bugger. Kat...well she...." Tim called out hoping the woman would hear him.

Deirdre approached the mirror slowly. A lot of this whole thing she was coming to terms with but some of it still defied her rational mind. Nope...not walking into a mirror....nope, not happening. She dropped Kat's bag.

"I hope you are okay. I should go!" She called out to no one in particular.

"D!" Kat groaned out reaching back toward the mirror as Tim walked them through. She didn't want Deirdre to leave, but unless she came through the mirror, she couldn't reach out to her.

Deirdre heard Kat call for her and as much as it bothered her she couldn't bring herself to walk through. Glass. I can't walk in there. She stood there staring at her reflection. She shook her head. I am not strong. Deirdre to a step away from the mirror. "I'm sorry..."

"You always are." A strangely accented voice replied, closing the front door to the shop. Vivienne was wearing a fashion forward coat, and her hair was perfectly curled, but despite the ageless beauty she possessed, there was a kind of ancientness to her that was hard to miss to those who cared to look. "I receive Douglas's message, and find myself perplexed." Her voice was even, cordial but cool. "I suppose I have no choice then, If I find you here now it's for a purpose." Vivienne said almost more to herself.

Deirdre shook her head. "No, I shouldn't be here. Kat and Tim...they are in there. They need you. I need to leave. Arin is bringing Arthur and they need each other. They found each other. I was a mistake. Let me go, let me leave and they can do what needs to be done. They will have each other. She...Arthur, she is what he needs."

There was pain her voice but also a resolve as she did what she felt was necessary. "I already caused damage, I do not need to do more." Deirdre stared at the woman both in awe and in fear.

"You know very well I do not refer to our physical location." Vivienne's voice was clipped and precise. "The Gleaming does not make mistakes, and you are here to fulfill a purpose. Every one of you who was reborn has."

When the girl referred to Arthur and Arin having found each other Vivienne's shoulders tensed, but her resolve did not waver. "Then the damage cannot be undone, but your lack of presence will only make that wound fester. Their souls cry out for you as much as it does each other. Only bitter resentment will come from your absence." Vivienne predicted while unbuttoning her coat.

"You are wrong. I am here to show them that they only ever needed each other. I saw it. It is right this time. I am here as a reminder of what I have done and how they do not need me. They will have a bond that will go further than ever before. My presence is a reminder of pain. I saw it in her eyes. I saw it in his. I can't do that to them again. I can't bear to have them look at me like that. They are not just their souls, they are themselves. A man and woman who will have a connection stronger than any. I am just here...." Only then did Deirdre waiver. She didn't want them to resent each other or her. She wanted them to be happy, to fight side by side and to have what they deserved. All she had was guilt and love. "I should go before Arin gets back. He will have her with him. It is hard enough for her without me here."

"Has she already accepted her identity then?" Vivienne asked flatly. She had been momentarily surprised to learn their Arthur was a woman, but she didn't see the point in dwelling.

"I don't think so. It was shoved on her without any explanation. She only knows something is odd. I felt Arthur...the eyes...I...." Deirdre shook her head. "No she is struggling, afraid and confused. I won't make that worse."

"Then she may need you to convince her. Whatever you may think, your souls share an intense bond that surpasses nearly all others. You have already accepted what you are, so help her to do the same. Otherwise the dangers she and the rest of your world will face are innumerable." Vivienne countered.

"Or Arin can do that and they can share a past and a present without the complication of....me..." Deirdre looked to the floor, feeling a lack of confidence about her position in all of this for the first time. "Accepting who I was, who is a part of me is better than thinking I am insane. This feels logical and right. I am sure you can all help her find that place without making her relive the pain of what I did."

"I don't know what to do. There is pain if I stay or leave. Is it not just better to let them have each other?"

"Should you not allow them to decide that for themselves?" Vivienne replied softly, almost reluctantly. A part of her wanted nothing more for her to go, but Vivienne knew better than to ignore the Gleaming and what it sent. This girl would have a role to play, whatever that may be, and letting her leave now, when the difficult task of ushering in the new King was upon them, would not be wise.

"I will stay even if it is just to push them together. I deserve that for what I did. They deserve to be happy." Deirdre lifted her face to look at Viv once more. She was right, Deirdre owed them the chance to make the decision. She was there for them to cast aside as needed. Kat told her she was there to make people do better, that she inspired. Deirdre felt that she was there to take the blame and guilt. If she could take Arthur's hurt and Lancelot's guilt it would mean in this life she had done something right.

"Come along then." Vivienne drawled as she walked toward the mirror, gesturing with her hand for Deirdre to go first. "It's just a water portal. You'll feel refreshed on the other end." Vivienne remarked, and those who knew her well might believe she was jesting. It was usually hard to tell.

"You say that like everyone has one lying around." Deirdre tried to keep the majority of the sarcasm from her voice. It was hard to read the woman but she got the sense that she didn't like her. With an inhale Deirdre stepped into the mirror and to the other side.

Tim had sat Kat down and he looked anxious. "What kept you? Where's Viv?"

Deirdre gestured behind her and moved off to find an out of the way spot. She didn't feel like she belonged here at all.

Gracefully, Vivienne stepped through the mirror and took stock of the chamber. Among the surprised was to see Tim Shirtless and riddled with anxiety, and Katrina strung out on the floor. She raised and eyebrow, not sure she wanted to ask, but did so regardless. "Explain."

Tim looked up. "We followed Arin to the rave where he was taking the woman he thought was Guinevere. We ran into Deirdre and it was very clear who she was. We ran into an incubus who gave her booze laced with god knows what, we had a chat, I fought the incubus again...though I could have done better. I found Arin, met Arey, figured out who she was and the shitstorm that was to come...said shitstorm happened. We left, Arey bolted, we were attacked by two succubi, one of whom really throttled Kat with well their whatever. Arin went to chase down Arey and we are all here."

He nodded hoping that he hadn't rambled too much but knew that he was coming off his adrenaline high and that it was entirely possible that none of that made sense. He took a few deep breaths.

Vivienne attempted to stay calm, but her patients tonight was beginning to wear thin. Lips pursed in a straight line, Vivienne approached Tim and sniffed the air around him. Good God, Balthazar she thought in irritation. She would have to check the others for it as well, but she suspected it was the same there as well. Balthazar had always been a possessive bastard with a contemptible sense of humor. Repeating the process with both Deirdre and Kat, whom she lingered over longer to feel her head, Vivienne sighed tiredly.

"Congratulations, you've all been marked by the Underking." She announced vaguely. She'd determine later whether or not that could be used to their advantage, but for now, Kat needed attention. "Theo!" She called out, waiting for the Brownie.

"Put on the kettle and bring me my herb box if you would. Our Katrina is in need of a detox." Vivienne directed before bending down to pick Kat up with ease. She might have weighed ten pounds for all the effort Vivienne seemed to exert.

Theo huffed in disappointment toward Kat, be rushed to do his Mistress’s bidding. "Honestly Miss, I thought we'd finally gotten past all that." He mumbled as he waddled off.

Kat groaned when she heard the word detox, knowing full well the faery hoodoo crap she was gonna have to swallow. "That stuff's gross...." She whined.

"Indeed." Vivienne replied without sympathy, but there was a bit of a twinkle in her eye as she carried Kat off to her room

Deirdre pushed herself into the nearest shadow. Her back was against the wall. She closed her eyes, relieved that Kat was being taken care of and would be okay but disappointed with herself.

Tim kept looking over at where Deirdre stood. I should say something...I don't know what to say... He sat in a chair and looked at his feet.

"You took very good care of her. You fought bravely." He looked unhappy with himself and Deirdre felt the urge to say something to make him feel better. "Have you fought many of them?"

Tim looked up and smiled weakly. "Only learned who I was and what they are last night. No, I haven't fought. I'm sorry. I almost..."

Deirdre raised a hand, "But you didn't. Even if you had you were in the heat of battle."

Tim felt better but not like himself just yet. "I am glad you came with us."

Deirdre looked away, "I did not have a choice now did I? I did not wish to make his or your task any harder and once here she did not exactly make it sound like I had many options since all of them led to making things worse. I don't think she likes me."

Tim gave a small smile, "I don't really think she likes me either but I think that is more her personality than general dislike."

Deirdre shook her head, "No, it radiated off of her when she talked to me. She doesn't like me. Doesn't matter. I am not here for people to like. I am here to make sure Arin and his Arthur get together. I am here to watch their happiness grow so that I can finally be taken out of the story. You know...I remember...well she remembers hearing that Merlin told Arthur that I should have been drowned at my birth. Perhaps once they find each other it will be like I don't exist anymore. For now I will continue to be the villain."

Tim frowned. "I thought the other woman, the other witch type was the villain?"

Deirdre shrugged, "It is about perspective. No story show Guinevere as having truly loved both men, though differently. She is just the bitch who wanted both men, got them and tore everything apart because of it. She is always a cold and shallow character. I won't be that. I won't be what people want and expect. I will do this right. I will show that she loved them and loves them enough to spare them from ever caring. You head the way Arin spoke to me. I will always be her, always be Guinevere to him. Who I am won't matter. Who she is, who Arthur is outside of Arthur will, it has to. I have had enough years of people making me into the person they want and not asking me. I will do what I can so that isn't an issue."

Tim frowned. "That sounds stupid and like you are being a martyr. 'Oh poor me, people thought I was a terrible person well I will show them, I'll go sulk in a corner all alone and act like I am being selfless.' No I think you are just too scared of what might happen that you intend to make the wound first under the guise of being gentler."

He crossed his arms over his bare chest. He wanted to shower. He felt gross and disgusting, not just from the dancing. "Look. Maybe Arin likes you, maybe he doesn't. Maybe he falls in love with Arey and they end up together and you have to watch it. Maybe he doesn't like either of you, hell he just met her and it was only one date. He isn't proposing. How about you wait and see?"

Deirdre was on the verge of tears but she bit her cheek to stave them off. She didn't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing he had hurt her. His words stung.

About five minutes later, Vivienne returned to the main chamber with Timothy and their new Guinevere. "She'll sleep it off now." She announced vaguely. "The tea will take care of most of the toxins for her." Vivienne's eyes then shifted toward their newest addition. "I believe introductions are in order." She said flatly, walking forward. "I am Vivienne, mother, guardian, and entrepreneur." She introduced. "I know what you are, but not who." She elaborated.

Both looked up at Vivienne returned. Tim nodded and relaxed visibly. Deirdre swallowed. She was afraid of this woman. She trembled a little. "My name is Deirdre. Deirdre Evering. I know you don't want me here and you wish the..." She tried to remember what Vivienne had called it. "The Gleaming hadn't decided I needed to be here. I will do my best to try and stay out of your way, out of everyone's way."

She felt cold and scared.

It bothered Tim to see Deirdre seemingly shrink in on herself. Where was the poise and grace that the Queen always had. She never waivered. You are doing it now. You are treating her like she is Guin and nothing more, faulting her for being Deirdre. He frowned. He vowed to protect her, not just because of who she was but because she needed it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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INK

Vivienne's eyes were piercing, calculating. They were eyes that gave the kind of gaze that weighed and measured, both potential outcomes and people. It was not a comfortable experience to receive that gaze and be found wanting, but there was a degree of pride in store for those that came away deemed passing.

"What I wish," Vivienne began as Theo came out with a fresh kettle a five tea cups. "Is irrelevant. I only expect you to do what is necessary in the coming time to protect your king.' She finished as she poured both Tim and Deirdre a cup and handed them off. "Drink. You'll feel better with something warm in you."

Deirdre looked down as Vivienne spoke. My king. She found herself wondering if that woman wanted the role that she was about to be given. She took the cup but couldn't bring herself to drink it. Feel better. Tea isn't going to make me feel better.

Tim took the tea and sipped it. "How do we explain to this woman that is she king Arthur?"

"That, will depend a great deal on her." Vivienne replied taking a sip from her own cup. "You both have met her. What is your estimation of her so far?" Vivienne asked, first looking at Tim and then Deirdre.

Tim took another drink. He swallowed and thought it over. "She is Arthur. But....she is scared. And confused. Very confused. It is in her though, everything about Arthur is in her. She is strong, she is brave and she will run if she is too freaked out."

Deirdre remained silent, holding her cup. It was warm in her hands and it made her feel calmer. She had nothing to say about the woman who was Arthur. She barely knew her. Other than an impromptu kiss she had barely looked at the woman, let alone spoken to her.

"That is a very common reaction." Vivienne agreed taking another sip. "We had best hope my son has the sense to bring her here then once she's found. Running will not be an issue then." She replied matter of factly as she moved toward one of the shelves and began rummaging.

"I assume that you both have begun experiencing flashbacks now that your contact with one another has increased." Vivienne more stated than asked. "How are you feeling? The tea should help, but I should know if I need to change the dosage."

Tim frowned. "Dosage? I don't-"

Deirdre looked up and then to her cup. In that moment she was glad she hadn't taken a drink, only warmed her hands with it. She was breathing slowly but deeply. What is going on? She looked for a place to dump the tea out.

"Yes flashbacks but...Viv what did you give us?" Tim looked confused. "Why?"

"Nothing to be concerned over." Vivienne replied absently as she finished digging out a few dusty looking books. "It's an old concoction your previous mother taught me actually." She supplied giving Tim a pointed look. "Helps to calm the mind and body. It will also help with some of the more physical symptoms from your forays into the past. Morgan really was quite a gifted practitioner of the healing arts when she put her mind to it." The compliment was offhand and without much emotion, but there was a lingering bitterness there that was hard to hide.

"Daily consumption will be mandated from now on. Think of it like medicine. If the negative symptoms continue, I'll simply up the individual dosage. Your individual reactions to these flashbacks may well be different. Arin, as you may have gathered, is half-fae, so his natural resistance to these side effects is higher." Her voice did not leave much for debate on the matter.

"Mother? Right…other witch..." Tim looked at his cup. "So medicine...." He wasn't sure what to think. He took another sip. "Sure, medicine. Was kind of hoping you'd say it would get rid of them."

Deirdre still couldn't bring herself to take a drink. Arin is half-fae? What does that mean? Her eyes looked around and wondered how she could get out of here. Once again the urge to disappear, to get away and not face Arin or the woman was overwhelming.

"Morgan La Fey, yes." Vivienne corrected without heat. "It will minimize the effects only, convince your body not to compensate to what the brain believes is happening. Nothing can take the visions away, but over time they may become less frequent."

Tim nodded slowly. "Morgan." The name brought a wave of sadness followed by a feeling of detachment. He shook his head. "I could do with less impactful flashbacks. What about you Deidre?"

She looked up at the sound of her name. "Oh, I yeah sure..." Deirdre still didn't know what to do. "Is there a bathroom I could use?"

"Attached to Katrina's bedroom." Vivienne pointed toward the residential side of the cave. "Have you had any of your first mother then?" Vivienne asked Tim calmly before taking a sip of her tea. She was still unsure whether or not the gleaming would deem it wise to bring her back, but the fact she had been unable to find even a trace of her had the old fae worried. She would not have called herself Morgan's friend, but respected adversary and occasionally colleague might be accurate. "I have a few distinct memories of your former self in swaddle on her knee." Vivienne said fondly, her tone in her own brand of light teasing.

Tim frowned and looked down at his feet. "Just one, just a glimpse of standing there wanting her to hug me." He kept his voice low. "Tell me about her, that woman."

Deirdre put her tea down, undrunk. "Thank you." Tim was talking about a mother he didn't know and just the name made Deirdre uncomfortable. She walked in the direction that Vivienne pointed. She found Kat's room. It took a bit to get over the shock of seeing it, everything on the walls and ceiling.

Tim waited unsure why he was nervous to hear what Viv might tell him. It wasn't his real mom, his real family but it felt like it.

Deidre moved to the bathroom and splashed water on her face. Stay....I have to stay. I have to stay. She could feel panic building. No, just don't drink the tea. Stay out of the way and when it all works out for them you can fade away and finally have a life. Her hands ran through her hair to smooth it out.

"She was a complicated woman." Vivienne began slowly, sensing his nervousness. "She dealt with hardship and persecution in her youth which made her a hard woman with her own set of morals. Being married to a man she could barely be civil with did not help her disposition either." Vivienne conceded, preferring to list the bad before the good. "She was also capable of great compassion toward those she felt in need of it, and she would often help those she loved in little ways, and never take the credit for it. “

"She doted on you as a baby you know." Vivienne's smile was genuine with that memory. Perhaps nothing melted the hearts of hard women like them quite like babies. It was an odd similarity, but one none the less. "But as you got older it became harder for her to express her affection. More dangerous as well. She was a woman with many enemies, and those enemies tend to strike at the ones you love." Vivienne continued sadly.

"A nursemaid working for one of those enemies tried to whisk you off once when you were just a small child. She was stopped, but Morgan purposely distanced herself after that, to appear as if she did not love you. I believe it came at a very high personal cost." Another sip of tea followed, but the smile had left her eyes. "I won't pretend Morgan was a saint, because she was not. She did many morally questionable things, and she would never apologize for them, but she did love you. More than your former self may have ever known."

Tim was frowning. Ywain, a deep part of him balked against Viv's words. To think that Morgan had doted on him, loved him seemed impossible. Tim nodded. "I am sure she had her reasons for doing what she did. Will she appear? Like the rest of us?"

Tim wasn't sure if he wanted to meet Morgan in this life.

Deirdre made her way back to the cave. She moved to stand in the shadows, her back against the wall. When will they get here? When can we get this over with?

"Any attempts to locate her reincarnation have been...concerning unsuccessful." Vivienne began vaguely. "There is really no telling for sure whether or not she has appeared as well. She was never truly Arthur's alley, but she did not openly oppose him either. I am unsure where her instinctual loyalties might lie regardless."

Tim frowned. "More out for herself than anything else?" Tim finished his tea in one final drink. "I do hope that I am not the one to find her. I am not sure how those flashbacks will go over." Placing his cup down Tim looked to Deidre and then back to Vivienne. "What's the plan when Arey and Arin get here? Assuming he gets her here. Do we just tell her and hope for the best? Have her sit at the table? I just want to know how we are going to do this without really, really freaking her out."

"That...may be unavoidable." Vivienne said slowly. "If she has begun to experience some of her past life, or run into some of the creatures that hunt her, perhaps she will be more receptive."

"If she is not, then making her accept who and what she is takes precedence. We will keep her here until she comes to terms with that and try to persuade her." Vivienne finished casually. She disliked the term "winging it" but until she met the girl and got a read on her, she could not very well create a strategy.

"We will of course try to ease her in gently if possible. Do not make physical contact unless necessary or prompted until we've given her some 'tea'. We'll try to not overwhelm her with visions of her past, especially as some of it is quite painful." Vivienne replied, hinting they not mention there was anything but tea in the 'tea'.

"So no kissing her like before...." Deirdre joked quietly. Tim looked up. "You what now?"

Deirdre shrugged. "I told you I ended up kissing a woman who was Arthur and it was her...the girl Arin brought to the bathroom."

He blushed a little as the image of the women popped into his head. "Right, no physical contact. Tea first and see if we can talk it out. Got it."

She didn't want to drink the tea, she wasn't entirely sure she believed Vivienne that it would do nothing but help with the effects of the flashbacks. Deirdre picked up her cup and eyed it again. It wasn't nearly as warm as before. She can't make me drink though I know she wants us to but she can't make me... Her eyes darted to the woman. Deirdre immediately reconsidered her rebellious notion and slowly sipped the lukewarm liquid. Rather be drugged than see what she is capable of.

Tim stood and began to pace. "What do we say to her? Oh so you are Arthur and we have to stop all these weird things from happening? I don't think she is going to believe us, hell I still barely believe us sometimes."

"I believe a bit more tact than that would be wise." Vivienne remarked, brow raised. "If you feel that way Timothy, I will gladly extend your lodging here until you feel differently." The comment was offhand and followed by a dainty sip of tea, but the threat there was sharp and clear. No one was leaving here without her leave, and there wasn't much they had in the way of say about it.

Tim looked over at Vivenne. "You gotta admit it sounds pretty crazy. Without all the flashbacks, without seeing the guy and those women." Tim shivered, his face twisted in disgust. "It is pretty hard to wrap your head around."

Deidre shook her head, 'No it isn't. I'd rather believe this, believe my dreams than think I was going crazy. For a bit there I thought I was. It wasn't until you found me in the club, well Kat stopped me in the bathroom. It makes a lot of sense when you read the clues. Then again I don't know how many of you have had your former self tell you that you had to help..."

Tim looked at Deirdre, "Have to admit you've taken this better than me."

Deirdre looked away with a slight shrug.

He sighed and looked at Vivienne. "So you are saying though as long as I believe you I can go home now? No more crashing on the lower bunk?"

"I am saying regression is unlikely to help your case." Vivienne countered smoothly. "Not fond of Katrina's decor are we?"

Tim blushed. "I am an adult in a teenaged girl's room. Not so much fond of her decor as well...I am not a teenaged girl. Some of my own clothes would be nice too."

Deirdre looked up, "I don't have to stay though do I? I have a roommate and a job, classes...I thought once we tell Arey who she is I could leave."

"For your own safety, I would not repeat that statement around Katrina. She is not overly fond of being reminded of her age." Vivienne's eyes shone with amusement. "If I deem you are not a flight risk, than we will discuss your options. No one however, is leaving here tonight."

Deirdre sighed and sat down on the floor, her back against the cool wall. She remained in the shadowy corner of the room. Not going home tonight great. I have to think of something to tell Heather when she texts. I could just say I went home with a guy. She gave a small, sarcastic laugh to herself.

Tim sat back down. "What's keeping them? This is hard, not knowing where they are and if he found her."
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"Portal?" Arey said skeptically. It looked like a mirror to her. Could this night get any weirder? In for a cent in for a penny, Arey thought tiredly, reaching a tentative hand out toward the mirror. She was ready to feel her hand touch the surface. It went through it instead. That fact did not freak her out as much as it should have. Yep, I'm in shock...

She kept moving forward, face blank, until she came out in what looked like some professor of medieval history's wet dream...in a cave. "This is bizarre..."

Arin watched her tentatively reach out toward the mirror. He was impressed by her acceptance and immediate movement through the portal. Nodding to himself, and mentally preparing for Vivienne's questions he followed.

He took in the situation, searched the room and saw Deidre in the shadows, but didn't see Kat, "Is Kat okay?"

Tim stood as Arey appeared, Arin behind her. Deirdre stayed in her seat on the floor in the shadow but her breath caught in her throat.

"Yeah Viv gave her stuff to take care of the junk in her system. Glad you made it back safely, both of you." Tim smiled as he spoke. He looked to Arin for some sign of how things went. Is she freaked out? Angry? She looks okay...

Arin nodded at Tim's words, an unspoken thank you apparent in his face. He looked over to Deirdre and smiled thankfully at her as well, "I was told I needn't worry. I'm not surprised I didn't have to."

Deirdre gave the briefest of nods. Arin was looking at her and it left her feeling very unsure. She looked away from him.

Arin finally addressed Vivienne directly, "Hi mom. So, kinda busy night. But look who I managed to find in all this. Even if it took a little extra convincing."

"Why does everyone keep speaking about me as if I'm some kind of lottery ticket?" Arey remarked, a tired kind of annoyance lacing her voice as she crossed her arms. They'd found her? What did that even mean?

Tim looked hurt. "Hey I just said I was glad you both made it safely. Things weren't exactly happy go lucking leaving the club."

Arin looked at Arey, "I dunno. I think I was pretty lucky to find you."

Deirdre said nothing but looked down at the floor. It felt like someone had drained all her blood, leaving her cold and empty as she heard the annoyance in Arey's voice and Arin's comment about being lucky he found her.

Tim looked at Vivenne, "So?"

She was in shock, and he was flirting, this date was definitely ending on a weird note. When the boy named Tim spoke, her eyes shifted first to Deirdre, drawn by some unknown force. She looked...not upset, but definitely not ok either. Everyone was sitting around some posh looking woman, defering to her like some kind of Queen, and that thought put her on edge.

"What did you do to her?" The suspicion already there, Arey acted on instinct, not rational thought, moving toward Deirdre and standing between Vivienne and her like a shield. Her eyes shone with accusation and her shoulders were stiff, as if preparing for a fight.

Deirdre looked up and looked unsure of what to do as Arey approached her. "Me? I am fine." The words were quiet. She was trying so hard not to bring attention to herself and now things felt tense. She wasn't sure if she should stand or not. Vivienne had made it clear there should be no contact, not till she fed her tea. "Really. I am okay."

Arin watched as Arey immediately became protective of Deirdre and inwardly nodded, "Hey mom, I'm just going to check on Kat then, okay? Let me know if you need me." He started to walk toward Kat's room.

Arey looked back toward Deirdre skeptically, and though she nodded her head slightly toward the other girl, she didn't move from the protective position either. Somehow, Arey could sense Deirdre's anxiety, it was rolling off her in waves, and that made her feel incredibly angry.

"We have yet to be properly introduced. My name is Vivienne, I believe you've already met my son. And you are?" She intoned levelly as she stood up and approach with an outstretched cup of tea. Arey ignored the cup. She already felt like she'd drank the Kool-Aid, she wasn't about to try it literally.

"From the way you all have been talking, it seems you know bloody well who I am." Arey griped, arms crossed again. "and I didn't come here for tea and pleasantries, I came for answers. What was that thing in the alley, and how do I get rid of it?" Arey's tone was direct and commanding, and totally unlike herself, but she was too irritated to really care. Something about this woman put her on edge, and she didn't like it.

Arin stopped, without turning completely, a slightly bitter tone to his voice, "Yeah, meet the parents, first date. Moving a bit fast?"

"Yes well if I recall this wasn't my idea, so no complaining if I don't get on with your mum." Arey snarked back with a sarcastic tight lipped smile.

Deirdre's breathing increased as Vivienne drew closer and Arey balked at the tea. She didn't know what to do. Arin seemed like he was leaving. Tim stood silently simply watching. Do something? Why aren't you two calming her down? Her hands balled into fists and her eyes flickered between the two men. You are supposed to be brave men. Say something! She wanted to scream at them, command them to fix this and yet she felt too afraid of Vivienne to say anything. Too afraid to go near Arey.

Biting her lip hard Deirdre slowly stood up behind Arey. She was careful not to touch her and kept her back to the wall. "Maybe we should all sit down." Her voice was soft and just loud enough to be heard. She tried to sound calm and sure though she didn't feel that way.

Arin shrugged, "You getting on with mom isn't my primary concern. Just happy you all met, really. Is Kat in her room then?" Arin wasn't quite ready to sit down with Deirdre and Arey. He didn't even know Deirdre, but felt oddly compelled to do what she asked. He knew why, of course, but was now having a harder time with the concept. He was enjoying himself with Arey but now they seemed to be connecting on a level he hadn't, with either of the women.

"Yes, Theo is also in there with her." Vivienne answered Arin first before looking back at Arey and Deirdre. "That...is an excellent suggestion." Vivienne announced, silently ushering them all toward the dais, which held both the round table and a cozy sitting area by the fire place. Arey followed along reluctantly, but stood unsurely on the dais with the others. She was getting pretty tired of people constantly telling her what to do tonight without proper explanations, and in a subtle act of defiance decided to stay standing.

Tim looked at Arin as he left. How can he just leave at a time like this? How can she just let him? He was angry and frustrated. He followed and sat down in a chair though he was not impressed with Viv. He crossed his arms. Arey stood there and though she looked angry a deep part of him wanted to kneel and pledge himself once more as Arthur's knight. He grit his teeth, angry at the situation.

Deirdre stood where she was as the others walked away. She turned her head to watch Arin leave. She wanted to say something but there was something in his body language that told her it was best to stay quiet.

She very slowly made her way to the dais and gave Vivienne a look that asked permission to be there. She knew she didn't want her around but had to tolerate her. Deirdre was just trying to stay out of the way and do what Vivienne asked.

She chanced the smallest look to Arey, her eyes losing their fear when she did. "We haven't actually met. I mean…we well...but I'm Deirdre." She gave her the smallest of smiles though it tugged at the corners of her mouth wanting to be more than such a meager thing. Deirdre looked away, waiting for Vivienne to tell her to sit, anything to break the moment.

"Yeah...I remember." Arey's cheeks lit up in flames at the memory of their lips tangled in a desperate mesh, a flash of heat flying through her stomach that didn't help with that much either. "Arey." She introduced simply, outstretching her hand for a more formal greeting with an almost shy smile.

Deirdre saw the outstretched hand. She bit her lower lip slightly, trying to hold back a smile as she lifted her face to Arey's again. "Nice to have a name to go with the…well..." She knew Vivienne said no touching but the temptation was too great. Take her hand. It's Arthur. Do it. A voice in her head called out to her.

Tim saw it coming, Deirdre leaned a little about to take Arey's hand. "So how about that tea ladies?" He practically shoved D out of the way to move past them for the tea. "I'll grab it Viv, how about you sit and chat with the ladies?"

Deirdre gave a small noise of distress as Tim pushed her aside.

"Be more careful!" Arey's head whipped around toward Tim, eyes hard as he practically shoved Deirdre out of the way. Like a hawk Vivienne swooped in, ushering Arey toward a chair without ever actually touching her. How the woman managed that Arey wasn't entirely sure, but she didn't like it. "We have much to discuss."

"Yes well I've been waiting for an explanation since I got here, and I'd wish someone would just come out with it, because there's obviously something you all know and aren't telling me." Arey shot back. What ever it was, they were all tripping over themselves not to be the first one to say it, which was never a good sign.

Tim jogged off and returned quickly with the tea. He balanced the tray carefully and gave Deirdre an apologetic look as he passed her. "Here you are. One for you Arey, one for you Viv and Deirdre this one is yours." He placed them down on the small table in the middle of the seating area. He picked his up and sat down.

Deirdre picked her cup up and with a slight sigh sat down. She kept her eyes on her lap. Viv scared her and she couldn't look at Arey knowing that they were about to tell her who she was. There has to be a gentle way to do this. There just has to. It is so unfair. She took a sip of the tea. It is Arthur and once she comes to terms with it all will be well, you will see. You are here to help bring him home. We need him. Deirdre wished that Guin's voice didn't sound so sure and confident.

Tim looked at Deirdre then Viv wondering who had the unlucky job of telling Arey. Viv better do it, not like we can really explain shit.

"No thank you." Arey tried to decline as politely as possible, but there was an edge to her voice. She wasn’t drinking anything until she knew what the bloody hell had happened to her world. The one where the most complicated thing in her life was her relationship with her father.

"Drink it." Vivienne replied, eyes unnervingly intense. “I insist.”

“And I already said no. I want answers, not cozy beverages." Arey replied back, digging in her heels. She could out stubborn anyone when she put her mind to it, now damn sure she didn’t want to be drinking that tea. Vivienne’s eyes were hard, her hand twitched involuntarily and her lips were pressed in a hard line. And then she began talking, for the moment seeming to concede.

"As you may have witnessed tonight, there are things of a rather dangerous and…perhaps you’d call it supernatural nature that lurk about in the shadows." Vivienne began, and Arey nodded.

Deirdre flinched at little at the hard edge that Arey's voice had. She remembered that and the hurt that followed. She remembered times when his voice made it clear that he would have his way. Her mind drifted to Arthur standing before his men. So confident. He was not angry but commanding. Those men looked at him with such respect that it had made her tear up.

She shook herself from her thoughts and took another sip of the tea.

Tim held his breath as Vivienne began speaking. "Some nasty things out there that aren't human." He shook his head a little. "Seems downright unreal but they exist."

"I got that." Arey replied slowly. "How do I keep them away? What are they exactly?"

"Fae." Vivienne replied simply. "Iron is your usual catch all, but different fae have different specific weaknesses, but iron will always burn them."

Tim smiled, "They hate it when you touch them with it so be warned they can get mighty pissed off."

Arey nodded slowly, her brow furrowed. "That thing in the alley...it made itself look like my mother..." For a moment, Arey's eyes looked lost, remembering back to the run in. "She's been dead for five years. I knew that, but I couldn't...I just...I don't know why I couldn't just run..."

Vivienne tried to explain it softly. "Shades are a particularly nasty caste of fae. They feed off of painful memories, and are particularly difficult for their victims to resist."

Deirdre could hear the slight pain in Arey's voice as she spoke of her mother. "Excuse me..." She stood and left the dais. She needed to be away for a moment, to breathe. Vivienne unnerved her so much. Arey made her both uncomfortable yet so comforted. Tim was taking it all in stride, Kat was hurt and Arin had disappeared. She felt alone yet suffocating.

Deirdre moved to the hallway, the one between Kat's room and the cave. It was quiet and darker than the rest of the place. She sat with her head against the wall. Just a moment to breathe and collect myself then I will go back.

Tim watched D leave but immediately turned his attention back to Arey. "I haven't seen one of those. Must have been a bit freaky. Also...upsetting."

"Yeah..." Arey replied vaguely as she watched Deirdre go, fighting the urge to follow after her.

"They are also, far more attracted to individuals with strong, powerful souls, which is why at this moment you are not safe." Vivienne continued, trying to get to the main event.

"Why? What does any of this have to do with me?" Arey asked

Tim looked at Vivienne. He waited for her to spill the beans. He couldn't bring himself to say it.

"You carry the soul of another in you. Just as Tim does and Arin." Deirdre appeared on the dias. "And me. Reincarnations some call it. We are apparently not just ourselves. When we kissed in the bathroom, what did you see?" She was calm and collected. Her eyes were gentle as she looked at Arey.

Arey's eyes shot up to look at Deirdre when she began talking. A feeling of foreboding ripped through her at those words, and it was like there was a faint ringing in the back of her head. "I..." Memories of what she'd seen in that bathroom trickled back. A man, a woman, overbearing guilt...and a kiss. "It doesn't matter. It was just a hallucination or-or shock." Arey said standing up abruptly. "I think this was a mistake ok. I'm just going to go. Good luck with...all this." Arey didn't want to hear anymore. Her head felt too small again, like someone else was there, and she was terrified by that.

Deirdre looked hurt. "Doesn't matter? I didn't matter?" It wasn't her voice, it was Guinevere. Her eyes met Arey's as she stood and made to leave.

"That's not what I meant!" Arey cried back unbidden before clamping her hand over her mouth. Visions of walking through field of wildflowers and lazy kisses ran across her mind. On horseback, stolen behind the training yard, and in bed as the first rays of light filtered through the window pane. You always matter...[/i} A voice in her head called out, bidding her to do the same. Arey beat back at it savagely like she would a stick. "I'm not doing this. I'm right you all are crazy." She was hyperventilating, the only conscious thought she could manage was to leave, NOW before it was too late.

"You and I, you held me after telling me that you couldn't be who they wanted. That you couldn't be that person. I told you that you were their king. Dearheart you know who you are and who I am. Please don't say it doesn't matter." Her voice waivered just a little. Her lower lip trembling though she held her head high. "Not crazy but we need you with us. I can't....Lancelot can't do this alone. Ywain needs his king to lead him."

Tim felt frozen, unable to say or do anything. He looked to Vivienne [i]Help her! Help show Arey!


Deirdre looked as if she might break down, as if the weight of it was getting to her. "Please do not fight it, just listen and remember."

"Please!" Arey begged. "I don't know you!" She felt light headed, she wanted to run, run before this woman made the other one stronger than she could keep at bay. "I'm Arey, I can't lead anybody!" She screamed.

Deirdre shook her head, "Please don't say that. Arthur.....please...." She crossed to Arey and grabbed her hand. "Don't leave me to do this alone."

One word, and Arey was gone. There were memories, battles and swords, fields and friendships, doubt, love, sorrow, friendship, betrayal, all sharp and consuming. For a moment, Arey just stopped breathing.

Tim stood and bolted down the dais. 'Arin! Arin! A little help might be good right now!" He looked back to where Deirdre, almost in tears was holding the hand of one panicked Arey. "Seriously man!"

There stood a woman, and there was love, so powerful, so consuming that the last vestiges of Arey's consciousness that had hung on threw the onslaught folded to its power. She was crying, upset because of him, and that was unacceptable. In three quick strides he was at her side, pulling her into his arm. "You always matter! You always will, never forget that."

The force of it all overtook her. Deirdre wasn't sure she could even remain on her feet any longer. She was crying, the slow tears turning into faster ones. She looked up into the blue eyes. "Please don't leave."

Arin looked up at the sound of Tim's shouts, "Oh boy. Take it easy Kat. Let Theo help." He stood up without waiting for a reply and headed out the door. He was almost bowled over by Tim as he stepped out.

"Whoa. What's the problem?" Arin asked.

Tim looked a bit wild. "She...Deirdre...I...just come!" He ran off down the hall. "Arey didn't want to listen and I don't know where Deirdre got the...balls? to do it but well...I think Arthur is back."

Arin had started rushing after Tim but held up as he finished, "Oh. Well... they don't really need me there then. I think it's best they figure it out on their own. Bad enough I'm going to have to teach them how to fight later."

Tim skidded a little and looked back at Arin. "You aren't going to come and help? You know how to deal with this better than any of us! You can't be a fucking coward now!"

Arin flushed and pushed Tim into the wall, "Coward? Do you know how hard it is right now to not rush in there and comfort both of them? Do you really think MY presence, when they are already confused as hell, is going to assist? I'm pretty sure if I go in there right now neither of them will be super happy to see me, or, they will be VERY happy to see me which will just fuck them up more. Coward? You try living as me for your whole life, dreading this very moment. I envy you and your just learning about this."

Tim grunted as he hit the wall. "You sound like D. Being a martyr, I'll stay away because it is just better this way. You are seriously delusional if you think there is only a couple of ways that this works out. They could both hate you, both love you who the fuck cares? Right now they are both in a world of trouble. D is going to fall over and Arey is...broken I don't even know. But I don't want to be alone to pick up the pieces."

"You're absolutely right. Who the fuck cares what they think of me at the moment. Don't fool yourself and try and pigeon hole me. I'm not concerned about me. They are going through enough right now. I will be here when they come to some sort of terms."

"So Lancelot in this time is just a selfish asshole who is looking out for himself. Good to know. You couldn't get the girl first so the rest of it...well what does it matter. Your terms right?" He shoved Arin away.

"You know, fuck you Tim. You want to see how this goes? It's on you." He brushed Tim away and started back toward the round table room.

"HEY!" Kat shouted angrily from the doorway of her bedroom, clutching the side as she moved her way down the hall, a rather pissed looking Theo shouting at her to get back into bed on her heels. "Both of you stop acting like testosterone fill dimwits before I come over there and kick both your asses myself!" Kat growled as she inched her way closer. "Do you think shoving each other around is going to help anybody?"

Arin stopped, "I think Tim needs to stop playing other people because he's afraid to step up himself. He wants to fling around labels so easy, but who came running for whom when the shit hit the fan?"

Tim looked at Kat, "Get back to bed." He turned to look at Arin, his face in a snarl. "You are a part of this, you can't hide just because it is a rough spot. Would be nice not to have to do it alone but hey, isn't the first time right? You always were fond of taking off and leaving the rest of us to clean up the mess."

"Fucking make me." Kat growled as she continued moving down the hall. "Let me know when you two want to start acting like fucking adults. Until then, someone aparently needs to be helped." Kat said limping past them both toward the main room.

Tim was angry but lowered his head. Kat was right. The whole thing was too overcharged and he let it get to him. He felt like a kid who got caught fighting in the school yard over a ball. He looked at Arin. "Look Arey's not handling it well and I don't know that Deirdre is strong enough to do it alone. Viv isn't helping and I only just learned who I was yesterday. I don't know how to help them. We are supposed to be in this together." He lowered his voice, the anger stripped away.

Arin sighed, "Let's get one thing straight. You don't know me. I am not Lancelot. And you holding me to things he did in the past does not sit well. I will help. Not because I think you're right. Not because I think it's the best idea. Only because it's the only choice I have, apparently."

He continued to move into the main room. Though Kat made some good points it was not enough too cool him off entirely. This will not end well.

He stepped into the room and looked over at Vivienne, "So, this happened. Why couldn't you have a least made it easier on these two, of all of them?"

Tim nodded and moved back into the main room and up the dias. "Kat, you really should go back to bed or at least let me carry you..."

Arthur didn't notice any of the new additions. There was only Guin, and the promise she wanted from him. He'd hang the moon for her, this was both so much easier and so much more difficult. He would never want to leave her, but he wasn't the only one she needed and that tore him up inside. He also wasn't the only one making decisions anymore, which made things infinitely more complicated. "I won't, I promise." He croaked, slating his mouth over hers desperately trying to convey the emotions he could never express with words. In the end, Arthur would always be ruined for Guin, there was just no way around it.

"Ain't missing this show." Kat drawled tiredly, though it lacked her usual saucy humour to it. "If you wanna carry me to the coach though I won't say no."

Tim scooped Kat up in his arms and jogged with her the rest of the way. He stopped dead at the sight before him.

Guinevere's breath hitched as his mouth found hers. Her eyes closed and the world was nothing but the two of them. He was back, no longer lost to her. No longer a glimpse only to be ripped away. He had returned and now the others would have their king. Her knees gave way beneath her. She felt suddenly drained and exhausted. "Arthur..." She managed to breathe out as the world swirled.

Arin watched Arey and Deirdre kiss. There might have been something interesting to see there, but he was quite angry. At Tim for pushing all the wrong buttons. At his mother, for putting them through all this. At Kat, for not just staying in bed and getting better. Everyone seemed caught in their own agenda. He realized the irony, having just failed to keep his agenda, but that didn't actually help, either.

He looked to Tim, "They seem quite fine to me? You think I should go over there and break them up? Maybe join in?" He looked to Kat.

Tim growled, "No I want you to notice that Deirdre is about to collapse, that Arey is going to likely be freaked when she comes out of that. That Viv hasn't done anything and I am one person to the two of them. So I need you to either help keep Arey calm or grab Deirdre. Pick your poison." There was a look of sadness in his eyes as he looked over to Arin.

"I get it, not easy. None of this is. I have it better than you, I know it but don't ignore where you can help. Deirdre was going to try that too. Figured it would be easier to hide, push you and Arey together so she could fade away. You really think any of us hiding is going to help. Hurt now or hurt later."

Arin just shook his head, "No. You really don't understand. You can't. But I'm not holding you to some standard that says you can. You seem to think that I needed to see all of this. To be here for all of this to be able to help. Fine. I could have helped after this." He turned back to the two women and moved toward them.

Arey came back to herself fast and hard, like the snap of a rubber band. Deirdre was slipping, Arey felt like she was about to pass out or puke, but neither of those options bodes well, and she stumbled back. Vivienne was suddenly there, barely catching Deirdre in time. "And that, is why you drink the fucking tea." She seethed unsympathetically as Arey fell to her knees and began hyperventilating.

Tim looked upset "I didn't know they were gonna..." He put Kat on the couch and approached the women quickly.

Arin, sadly, "I was going to let them have their moment, before I had to ruin it. Far from being selfish."

Tim "Sorry..." It didn't feel like enough.

Arin stood near Arey, watching, with a twinge of envy as Vivienne caught Deirdre. Better for Arey to see that. Arin was ready to help Arey stand, "Arey... are you okay?"

Tim grabbed a cup of the tea. "Arey, here. Can you take a sip?" He knelt down with her. Looking up at Arin. "Maybe take Deirdre to lay down? Or want me to? I don't know which is easier..."

Arey didn't really respond right away. She heard voices in the background, but it was like they were far away. She couldn't process anything. "Why...why does this keep happening?" She felt on the verge of a break down. Her fucking head had just been hijacked. Again. She felt out of control and her thought were racing a a mile a minute, nothing coherent really sticking.

"Because you are King Arthur. Want some tea now?" Tim offered weakly.

Arin continued to avoid contact with either woman, "I don't think it would be a good idea to physically help either one of them currently. I'm not sure they'd be able to take another flashback so quickly." He leaned down to Arey, "Tea is a good idea. It will help you refocus your thoughts."

He stood back up and moved over to Vivienne and Deirdre, "What do you need me to do?" He resisted the urge to lower himself to one knee when asking the question.

"I can't breathe...." It felt like something was smothering her face. Deirdre felt like she was caught in cobwebs. Her legs barely worked, there was no energy to stand but a voice pulled her away from the unconsciousness. "Help me..." She gasped slightly and tried to stand up. Someone held her. Her eyes opened slowly. The sight of Vivienne made her heart stop. She whimpered in fear. Hers was not the voice she'd heard. Where was Arey? Arthur...he was here! The voice in her head screamed. "I need water." Deirdre managed weakly while trying to stand on her own.

Arin nodded and went to get a glass of water. He also carried a cup of the tea back with him. "Water and tea. They both should help."

Deirdre stood, slowly and shrunk away from Viv. She found the first seat she could and sat. When Arin returned with the cups for her she gave him the slightest look before nodding. "Thank you." She whispered.

Shaking hands grabbed the glass of water first and she swallowed most of it before placing it back down again. Her eyes found Kat, "Why are you here?" She gave her a weak smile.

"Someone had to be the adult of the family." Kat said flatly, but returned the smile and gave her a hug from the side.

Arey took the tea with trembling hands, but she could barely get the stuff down her throat.

Tim tried to smile. "I know tastes terrible but it makes the effects easier to take."

Deirdre accepted the hug but it didn't take much for her to start shaking. "I'm cold. Kat will she let me go home now?" She whispered to the girl.

Her eyes opened and she looked over at Arin. He looked so helpless, as if he wanted to help but couldn't. It hurt to see him like that. "Why hasn't he helped her? He should go to her. She needs him." She whispered into Kat's ear.

"He's afraid he'll trigger one of you." Kat whispered back. "The emotional bond you all have is pretty intense."

Arin noticed Deirdre shivering next to Kat as he stood by, feeling lost. He realized he still had his riding leathers on. He took off his jacket and offered it to Deirdre, "It's not a blanket. But it should help. I'm afraid to leave the room now, else I be accused of cowardry a second time."

Deirdre reached for the offered coat. "Thank you." She slipped it over her shoulders. It smelt of leather and him. She looked at Kat. "Intense yeah...." She swallowed as the smell of the coat brought a wave of emotion over her. She reached out and gripped Kat's hand. Her eyes were on Arin. "Cowardry?" She shook her head. "Not a word I associa-would associate with you."

Deirdre looked to Arey and then back to Arin. "Will she be okay? I mean did it work? I don't...I don't know where it came from. I know where..." She was talking nonsense. She took the cup of tea and took a drink.

"I'm Deirdre. Deirdre Evering. We haven't met." She spoke to the floor, her head down.

Tim looked Arey over carefully, "Want to sit in a chair? You took quite a whammy of a flashback."

Arin shrugged, "It was an attempt to help. I should get over it. I will, but it might take me hitting him with a wooden sword a couple times." He looked up at Tim and chuckled.

"Hello Deirdre. Nice to finally, officially, meet you. I'm Eärendil Ablach. But you can call me Arin. Also, please don't look at the ground. I would much rather see your face when talking to you." Arin replied, crouching down so he was at eye level with her.

Her hand, the one that held Kat's hand tightened. Her other hand almost released her cup of tea. Arin crouched in front of her, his eyes level with her own. "I have heard a lot about you..Arin." She wanted to look anywhere but his face. Her cheeks flushed slightly. "I am sorry I just didn't think...given what I-I mean she did that you would want to risk that again. I don't...I don't know how to do this."

Her breathing grew slightly quicker. Her hand on Kat's was like a vice grip. "You should go make sure she is okay. Don't worry about me. She needs you." Deirdre blinked back tears and looked down at her feet.

Arin couldn't understand why Deirdre was always so eager to get rid of him. He sighed, "Tim is taking care of Arey. I doubt, given what she just learned, she's all that eager to speak with me. Don't worry though. I won't risk anything you don't want. I'm just here to protect you all. But Kat probably needs that hand."

Deirdre's head snapped up. She frowned at Arin and dropped Kat's hand like a hot potato. She bit her lower lip. "Sorry."

"Risk anything I don't want?" She tilted her head slightly trying to read his face to get an understanding of what he meant. "I am not worried. She made mistakes in past and I won't hurt either of you in this life. I don't know what you think your job is but the mistake is mine to fix." She reached out to touch his cheek but stopped part of the way. "Sorry, I shouldn't...."

Arin closed his eyes, anticipating, yearning, for the contact. He released a breath he didn't realize he had held when she stopped. "The past mistake was Lancelot's. You did not make any mistake. And the only mistake Guin made was falling for someone who should have known better." He opened his eyes, "I had hoped to meet the person in whom Guin was coming back. I wanted to see, to prove, that Lancelot and Guinevere should have been, not Guinevere and Arthur. I realize I was wrong. I won't make the same mistake he made." Please, don't let me make the same mistake.

He looked at her hand, so close to his face, "No... it wouldn't be good for you to do that now... And, you don't want Arey to get the wrong idea before you both can get your thoughts settled."

Tim looked to Vivienne for some sort of guidance in all of this. Arey was trying to choke down the tea, he wanted to get her to a chair but was worried now about touching her. Deidre was on the couch with Kat and Arin was talking to her though it didn't seem overly mushy, in fact they looked downright uncomfortable. This night just keeps getting better.

Deirdre stared at Arin. His words crushed her, not just her but Guinevere. Her lip trembled. her hand outstretched to caress his face came across in a slap. The sound of it hitting his face echoed a little. Deirdre stood and ran down the dias. She was angry and hurt. She couldn't explain why fully, everything was such a jumble but she was and hearing him say the things he did was like a knife in heart.

Tim was shocked. "Okay....not how I saw that going...."

Arin closed his eyes again. The sting on his face only a small pain to what he felt inside. Finally he stood. He looked at Kat sadly, "Not today." He turned to Tim, "I've done enough damage tonight. Would you excuse me now?"

Tim rolled his eyes a little, "The two of you even talk the same." He sighed, 'You know you two keep living in the guilt and we are all going to drown in it before we ever get started. You try talking to her tomorrow. And I'm sorry this isn't going smoothly."

"I never said I was finished. Just for tonight. You know, after they can collect their thoughts. This is the kind of smooth I was trying to avoid." Arin shook his head in annoyance, "I thought you were a lawyer, not a pychologist."

Tim wiped a hand over his face and looked at Arey, "Yeah well not sure what the fuck I am anymore."

"Finally, something we can agree on." Arin gave a half hearted grin. Arey wasn't looking like she was recovering well though. He wasn't sure he should make a second attempt. Also, he just realized Deirdre took off with his jacket. How was he going to explain that?

"Kat... uh, advice? Or... you need help back to your room? Give me an excuse to leave?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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"King Arthur..." Arey huffed out a humorless laugh. It almost sounded delirious. "Then why the fuck am I a girl?" She glanced over to see Arin with Deirdre, wondering how she'd never seen it before. Lance and Guin. It was like seining the world in Technicolor for the first time, and mostly overwhelming. The sight of them together brought a numb kind of pain. The kind that people who've accepted defeat have when they go looking for a bottle of Jack. "The universe's biggest 'fuck off' that's what it is." She babbled.

Tim winced. He didn't have any answers for her. "Chair? Do you want to sit?"

"I'd have to agree. Not the best sense of humor. This universe could take lessons." Arin tried to add his own humor. Something other than the intensity that had been flowing around.

"Bringer her over here." Kat suggested. "She ain't gonna go all freaky flashback syndrome on me."

Arey looked between Tim, Arin and Kat, unsure really what she should do next. She figured standing up would probably be a good start, so she did, albeit shakily.

Tim nodded, "Good idea. I'd help but..." He watched Arey stand. His eyes moved to Viv. He wondered why she hadn't helped in all of this. She stood back, cold and detached like an observer. He shook his head. She gave the same feeling of distance that Ywain remembered from his mother. He moved to sit in another chair.

Arey wasn't really sure where to sit, but followed the persistent beckoning of the girl on the couch. Kat she remembered foggily. The sort-of-definitely little sister of the boy she was currently crushing on. Or maybe not anymore. Who the hell could keep track with so many people's different competing emotions. Remembering the kiss from the club was like a shot of herself though. Nothing tainted by some dead king who'd now dumped all his personal emotional bullshit on her.

"So..." She said awkwardly, nothing better to say coming to mind as Kat wrapped a blanket around her shoulders and snuggled close. It was kind of weird. She didn't exactly know this girl and Arey like her personal space, but it was kind of a relief that the physical contact did bring back any weird memories to make Arey get to know her either.

Tim looked at Arin and then to Arey. "So...ugh welcome?" He shrugged. "Arin has been doing this longer than me, I only have you beat by a day. Not sure about D. Though we only found her last night. So questions should be directed to Arin or better yet Vivienne." There was a hardness in his eyes when he looked at Viv.

For precaution's sake, Vivienne had been avoiding physical contact as well. She, unlike the others, did not just echo with the soul of someone Arthur had known in a past life. She was a person he had known, and more than a few of those memories involved violence and pain for Arthur. If she triggered a flashback, it was hard to tell what Arey might experience. It could be something victorious like the first time he pulled Excalibur from her Lake, or when she'd attended his wedding. It could also be a memory of the time she'd had to use Fae magic to save Arthur's life after his battle with Melegant, or worse, when she'd stood over his dying body while his soul was being ushered across the veil from Avalon.

She approached carefully with a fresh pot of tea that Theo had had the foresight to brew, and refreshed her cup. "Drink up, you need it." Arey looked up at her almost looking grumpy, but this time drank the damn tea almost meekly. She didn't have any fight left in her to say no.

Arin watched sympathetically as she cuddled up with Kat, "I'm sorry Arey. I couldn't prevent that. I tried to give you as much warning as I could...." He trailed off. He realized he sounded like he was making excuses.

"I don't know if it made much difference, but thanks for trying I guess." Arey replied numbly. How exactly was that supposed to go more easily. "I'm a bit of a stubborn blighter when I dig my heels in." Arey admitted absently. "I'm not sure I've got my head around this whole thing...but I'm willing to concede you may not all be crazy. My second running theory is that it's contagious, but we'll see which one wins out."

Tim smirked a little. He relaxed for the first time that night. His body was tired and he stifled a yawn. "Crazy is relative."

"There is a third option. The combo of both of your original theories." Arin grinned. The grin turned to a slight frown, "Someone should check on Deirdre. I don't think I made her too happy."

"So go find her. You pissed her off, go talk to her. She is calmer I bet." Tim looked at Arin hopefully. "I am sure it was just leftover from everything else. You know emotions running high..." He did his best to sound confident and positive.

Arin chuckled at Tim, "First you thought it'd be a bad idea for me to talk to her. Now you're sending me off? I don't think I could be more confused about the best approach to any of this..." He looked over at Arey again, "You know who we are now... I don't want to do anything that seems permanent before everyone gets a chance to let things settle down. I don't want Deirdre to be left by herself tonight, but I'm not the one that should go to her, am I?"

"Yeah you are." Arey replied tiredly. The feeling inside herself that knew Deirdre needed Arin right now wasn't her own, and it wasn't pleasant, but the thought of that girl alone and upset made her feel worse. She didn't feel great about Arin being cozy with another girl either, but Arey sucked it up. They'd gone on one date, and apparently under false pretenses, so she didn't have the right to start acting like a jealous girlfriend. "Just go." Her voice sounding too wary to be completely her own.

"Hey look I think you could just leave her alone. If it is that much of an issue, which I understand just leave her to herself tonight." Tim felt a twinge of regret but he knew if he went he would have no idea what to say to her. He didn't even really know what happened but he wasn't doing well in the comforting or understanding department tonight. "We can all just sleep on it and in the morning back to ourselves with some new things to tackle."

"Arey, then what about you? You think I want to see you alone tonight? Look, you both went through a traumatic experience. You are both upset. I don't think either of you should be stuck without someone to talk to." Arin was torn. He wouldn't feel right leaving either of them to themselves.

"I would volunteer Kat's room. The three girls. Like a slumber party, right?" He tried to grin.

"I'm beginning to think D was right with this whole get Arey and Arin together plan. Be easier on us all..." Tim grumbled a little. "Sounds like a plan Arin. Come on Kat I will carry you to your room and you can decide who takes my place as Robin. Arey can you walk alright? We will get Theo to set up...I don't know an extra bed or something." Tim was quite terrible at being comforting. This whole thing felt awkward and he wanted nothing more than to go to bed and forget about it, even for a little bit.

"Or we could do that and you can graduate up the the Batman bunk with me." Kat said grinning cheekily.

"Is she always like this?" Arey mumbled. A little shocked by that insinuation as she glanced awkwardly between the two.

Tim turned red, "Nice Kat, nice. And yes she loves to do that. The more she can put me on the spot the better."

"Actually, that was quite tame." Arin agreed.

Tim nodded, "True. I am shocked she didn't go for something along the lines of a threesome. Off her game tonight. Right half pint?" He gave Kat a wink and scooped her up from the couch.

Arin sputtered.

"Well Arin's like my brother so that's be weird, but say the word baby cakes and I'm up for a blondie sandwich. What about you baby blues?" Kat said winking up at Arey, who blinked awkwardly as her face turned red.

Tim chuckled, "Oh thank god someone else she can make blush. I will not be the only victim." He adjusted Kat in his arms so it was comfortable. "Come Arey, let's get you to a bed so you can sleep, been a long hard day." His voice was sincere.

"She's joking right?" Arey asked cautiously, but got up to follow regardless.

"Nope." Kat smirked as she made herself comfortable in Tim's arms. She needed to make this happen more often. "You either toots. I'm traumatized remember. I need batman bed sheet cuddle time."

Tim blushed as he carried her down the dias and down the hall. He didn't see D anywhere and he frowned but kept moving. "Hey now I think cuddles need to wait for a bit. We are all a bit traumatized by tonight's activities. Besides girls only slumber party."

"Boo." Kat pouted. "I like a nice rack as much as the next bi-curious girl, but our little camp out needs some sausage."

"I don't know how to respond to that..." Arey mumbled, not sure whether to be awed or horrified by her ballsiness.

"You don't have to say anything, blush and she is satisfied." He shook his head a little. "Nice and crude, way to end the night half pint." He entered her room. "Okay here is where I leave you ladies to it." He kissed Kat's forehead gently. "Take it easy okay? You had us freaked out." Tim gently put her down.

He looked at Arey. "Try and sleep. Things are always a bit clearer after you've slept on it."

Arin shook his head as they left, "Traumatized..." He turned to Vivienne, "What's next? What would you like me to do about all this? Should I be expecting a 'told you so'?"

Vivienne looked at her son. There were a thousand things she wished to convey in that moment. Her anger, disapproval of his actions, her relief that he had gotten himself and Arthur...Arey she mentally corrected, home safely. He'd found both Arthur and Guinevere, and the results we predictably explosive. She wanted him to understand why she had the position she had, that she didn't want to see his heart torn to shreds again in the same love triangle that tore all three of them apart originally. But she also wanted him to be alright, and right now, emotionally, he wasn't.

In a rare show of motherly affection, Vivienne pulled him into a tight hug, rubbing his back soothingly. "Go to sleep. Take Timothy with you, I think he needs a break from Katrina's pawing. I'll handle the preparations for the morning." She said gently. "We can't change what has come to pass, we will deal with the ramifications of it in the morning."

Arin slumped in her embrace, releasing the tension of the past few hours. He whispered, "Thank you..." After a moment he pulled back enough to look at her, "I'll save Tim. I owe him that. I don't think I treated him very well either. Batting a thousand, really. Someone has to find Deirdre and set her up for the night and I think she's quite intimidated by you."

"I appear to have that effect on the women you fancy." Vivienne said dryly. "Except perhaps Arey. She was quite determined to be disagreeable." There was a slight amusement in her voice when she said that. "Take Timothy with you when you look for her then. His presence may buffer any lingering effects for you both." She suggested.

"I was thinking the same. And I think that's the curse/blessing of all mother's. They only want to protect their sons." Arin shrugged, "Just a might more complicated in our case."

Arin lingered for a last moment before breaking the embrace and heading out to find Tim. "See you in the morning, mom."

Tim walked down the hall. It had taken a bit to extract himself from the room but they were both exhausted so in the end he won out. Not that Arey was doing much but looking shocked at Kat but still...

He rubbed his face as he walked. Damn I don't know where I am sleeping tonight....

Arin turned into the hallway and saw Tim, "Looks like you can bunk with me. I've got a place above the garage. No threesomes required. But let's find Deirdre first? Get her settled, okay?"

Tim blushed, "Oh yeah...no I was teasing....D? Oh." He looked uncomfortable. "Just she seemed pretty upset and she has some pretty interesting ideas on her job in all this. She kind of wants to fade out of the story, thinks it is best for you and Arey to be together. She didn't like it very much when Kat said you were on a mission to find Guin. That whole obsessed thing. She seems kind of...I don't know....I mean she is Guinevere, don't get me wrong but she isn't that strong. Not Deirdre anyway. Don't you think it best we just leave her alone?" The thought of seeing her upset at Arin or worse, being there if something happened that didn't involve anger made Tim very uncomfortable. "Maybe try and remember that she is a woman you don't know, sure a second soul or what not but still a woman."

Arin leaned against the wall as Tim was talking, "Nice lecture." He grinned. "I got it dad. Let her alone cause she's someone more than I think. I figured that one out already though. Kinda hard not to notice the lesson." He rubbed his face. "That said, you, the person who came running in for my help, now think it's okay to let this woman who is scared and confused, wander around a not entirely welcoming, strange place, by herself?"

Tim shrugged, 'No but if she feels like we are forcing her to do something it might make it worse. She honestly has it in her head that she needs to just make sure you and Arey are a couple. Viv told her she couldn't leave. She has been frightened out of her mind and not left alone since Kat and I found her. I don't know what is going to happen when we find her and I don't want to see her upset." He looked at his feet. "I don't do well when women are upset and last time I yelled at her to stay in the bathroom. I even called her my queen and she got pretty upset. Kat had to lock her in the bathroom." He grumbled to his feet.

"Hmm. I would recommend not doing that anymore. Nor should you call Arey, my king, your grace, your majesty... that kind of thing. Just like I wouldn't want you calling me Sir, either. I'm Arin." He chuckled.

Tim shuffled his feet, "Wasn't really me, you know. I was just under pressure. I didn't mean to...Kat was puking and she tried to run and I knew you were coming. She didn't want to meet you, you know...she is scared she is going to hurt you and Arey again."

"Yeah, I got that too. I guess we all have that going. It's a great ice breaker. 'So, you know, in the past when I stole your wife, fun times eh?" Arin shrugged, "The complications are there. Absolutely. I've had a lifetime to work them through in my head. I knew what I was getting into when you made me go into that room. But that's not the item in question. Deirdre has been marked. She is known to some pretty nasty things. You think it's the best move to just let her leave? I think it would be the worse thing we could do to her. She'd quickly end up a thrall."

Tim sighed and started walking down the hall, "I know that. Make her believe it." Tim glanced over as he walked. "Do you think of yourself as a bad guy in all of this? You know for what happened?"

Arin followed Tim. At the question he did a double take, "I consider myself Arin. My good or bad hasn't been decided yet. Do I consider the actions of Lancelot to be bad? Not really, no. He made a mistake but for reasons he couldn't avoid or change. Did I have a chance to change the repeat? Maybe. Do I still? God, I hope so. But what he did isn't me."

Tim frowned. "Do me a favor, when things are calmer explain that to Deidre? She called herself the villain. She said that...just explain to her that it wasn't a bad thing, she isn't the bad guy that she seems to feel like she is. She really is hanging on to a lot of guilt and it sucks to see. In her eyes..." Tim shook his head.

Arin nodded sincerely, "I think I understand better than most. I'll do what I can. I can't promise she'll want to hear anything I say. I am also wary of too closely identifying." He trailed off.

"So you don't want to have any feelings for her in this life? Is that your goal, to keep a distance?"

"I don't know the woman. I just met her tonight. I know that there is a deeper connection that I cannot let control my actions otherwise I'm doing us both a disservice. Hence, I don't want to identify too closely because that biases Arin and Deirdre's relationship." He looked at Tim, "You sometimes seem to understand, but you still can't get past the point of boxing in my reactions? I hope you'll learn to trust me, at least a little bit."

Tim sighed, "Hey hard to understand motives when there are two of you in you...just making sure...As for trust, I just met you. The part of me that knows you, trusts you. The Tim part is just starting to get to know you."

Arin smiled, "Exactly. Notice I said learn to."

Tim nodded, "Just making sure you haven't pre decided things like she has."

"All I have pre decided is, it's my job to help you all learn about the dangers and how to defend yourself. I've trained all my life to fight these things. Now I finally get to try and teach you all. That's my predetermined position. Mostly because I have the experience to do it. Not because it was pre-ordained."

Tim was looking around the main hall now as they talked. "You are gonna hit me with a wooden sword aren't you?"

"Oh, so, so many times."

Tim laughed. "How the hell do we find her in here? I mean there are boxes and junk everywhere and she is a slip of a thing. Tall...great legs but slim. She could be anywhere."

Arin raised an eyebrow, "Hmm, looks like there are more people interested in Deirdre?" He grinned.

He walked around looking for some sign of Deirdre. "No, she is beautiful don't get me wrong but no spark between us. I tried. Sweet and all but more...I don't know....just don't see it. Doesn't mean I can't look though."

"Fair enough. I'm not cupid either. This place isn't that big. She can't be far. She wouldn't have known how to get to my apartment from here. And I didn't see her go back through the portal."

Tim shook his head, "Sure but where then? Use the spidey sense." He grinned at Arin.

Arin looked over at him, "You can too, you know. Not a bad time to try it. No pressure."

Tim rolled his eyes, "You are messing me up. You have a better connection with her. All I am getting is 'he is gonna bruise my ribs' vibes. Yeah can you tell I am looking forward to sword practice?" He chuckled and walked away a little trying to 'feel' out where she might be.

Arin smiled, "Fair enough. So... stop thinking about me. Find a memory of her. Focus on that."

Tim, "My spidey sense has gotten me a whole lot of trouble tonight...you sure you don't just..." He stopped and looked to his right. He walked slowly in that direction. There were a few boxes and Tim shifted two. Deirdre was sitting on the floor, her head on her knees and tucked into Arin's coat as much as she could. "Go away Tim. I am not deaf you know and this place has amazing acoustics."

"Then you know why we don't want to let you leave right now."

"And you know I can't get out of here plus Vivienne told me I couldn't and she doesn't like me so I hate to think what she would do to me if I tried. I am not going anywhere I am just keeping to myself. Safer this way."

"Deirdre, if she didn't like you, she would have let you leave. Left you to fend for yourself against the incubus."

She looked up at him. "No she couldn't let me leave because she said if the Gleaming decided I needed to be here it didn't matter what she wanted. So she didn't have a choice either. She wasn't entirely pleased to know I existed in this life. Guess you know all about that though."

"That's her lovable, gruff exterior. You probably don't realize yet, but the fact that she's here, been here for so long, kinda shows that she only puts so much stock in what the Gleaming wants. Push comes to shove, she does what she damn well pleases."

Tim looked at Arin and shook his head slowly. "No man...I don't think Vivienne likes Guinevere at all..." He tried to keep his voice low.

"I know all about what?" Arin barely registered Tim's comment.

"Just leave me alone. I can't do any damage if you just stay away. When things are put right I can go away and you won't ever have to see me again. Hell you don't even know me...I am so sick of people telling me what to do, who to be. I can't make her stop talking in my head, I can't make you stop looking at me like you are just waiting for me to tear your heart out and Arey...the look in her eyes when she saw me in the bathroom. I can't...I didn't do anything but there it is and all I feel is guilty."

Tim looked at Arin and shook his head. He had no idea what to say to her.

Arin took a breath. Watching Deirdre struggle with the same pain and guilt he had his whole life was harder than he thought. He knew where he stood now, but it took him awhile. Seeing her just start. He knew she was in for a long struggle, "Deirdre... Can I call you D? I've heard that a few times tonight." He paused.

She looked up, "Sure, its easier to say." She looked back down at her knees.

Arin moved over, keeping a respectful distance, not trying to avoid her, he sat, "It probably doesn't mean much right now. But hopefully, one day, it will help. I know exactly what you're going through. I have been held to the standard of Lancelot since I was born. I have had to live with the idea that I was responsible for tearing down a great man and causing an amazing woman to turn her back on him." He paused again, "The thing is... I'm not actually Lancelot. I'm Arin. I think we've met" He grinned, again trying to interject some levity.

"It took me a long, long time to come to terms with that. You... you are Deirdre. I would love to get to know Deirdre. But I can't do that if you feel like you aren't her. I'm sure Tim would love to get to know Deirdre as well."

Her heart pounded in her chest. "I don't know Deirdre. I have been living the life my parents wanted me to live for the last eighteen and a half years. I was just learning how to have a life that belonged to me and now I have this woman, she is strong and independent but god damn is she commanding. And she wants me to find Arthur, find Lancelot. Vivienne expects me to do what needs to be done to make Arthur return. So I am right back to no choice, no options and no Deirdre. So when this is over with, when you and Arey are together and I can't hurt anyone and Vivienne tells me I did my duty then I can go figure out my life."

Her eyes met his. She was angry and hurt. She was terrified.

Arin nodded, "You say how it made you feel when Arey looked at you in the bathroom, when I look at you... You know, when you look at me..." He shook his head, "Right now, you need to find Deirdre. That is your duty. I'll give you a hint. Part of Deirdre is Guinevere. She is not you and you are not her, however together you are what you will become. I'm not Lancelot but I'd be foolish to not recognize his influence."

"Trust me I know her influence well." She looked away, unable to focus on him any longer.

"You know some of it, yes. But she was a force of peace. She was diplomacy incarnate. And she could inspire the most out of the least of us. But that is just what she did. What you will do with that influence is still to be determined. But don't limit yourself to what you think she did or didn't do."

Tim shuffled his feet, he felt like he was witnessing something far too private. I could just pick her up and carry her, not like she could fight me off.

Deirdre put her head down, 'Your words makes sense but I still just want to be alone where I can't do anything wrong when I am not needed. It is the in between that will do the most damage. Guinevere is a small part in a big story but she had a big impact with her mistakes. I will just stay here until you need me." She sounded defeated.

"I can seriously just pick her and carry her to Kat's room if you want..." Tim whispered.

Arin shook his head, "Weren't you just lecturing me on ensuring I gave her choice?"

"Yeah but she is being unreasonable and we are going in circles. She needs to go to bed, we need to go to bed." Tim inhaled slowly. It was very uncomfortable to see Deirdre like this.

"No, she is being confused and feeling lost and unwanted. Those are unreasonable states to be in. Only fair for her to respond in kind." Arin turned back to Deirdre, "D, I will not make you leave. You have full choice on where you want to stay tonight." He shifted slightly to lay down further, "As do I. I choose to stay here with you."

She looked up slowly. "Why would you do that? Just go. Tim said it, you need to go to bed. You guys have a lot to do in the morning and god help me it sounded like your mother intended to kill me...yes I could hear all that. I will just stay out of the way. Besides,she is really hurt right now and it isn't helping my being unreasonable." She glared at Tim. 'Acoustics, amazing in here remember?"

"More reason for me to stay then. I don't plan on letting you be killed. If someone is hurting, they shouldn't be alone. I didn't have a peachy night. I could use the company. Tim, follow this hall, then right. There's another mirror. Through it are stairs. You'll find my apartment there."

Tim shuffled his feet and turned red. "Okay…you sure?" He looked at Arin questioningly.

"No. I would much rather D chose a place a lot more comfortable. But, it is her choice."

Tim started backing away, the look at Deirdre face frightened him a little. "Well, right...." He backed off further.

"How dare you." Her eyes were full of anger and hurt. "How dare you try and make me feel guilty for you staying here. I didn't ask you to. You aren't bound by any oath to stay here. You have no right to make me feel guilty because you will not be comfortable." Her voice was low but there was a tremor to it. "That is low."

"You are correct. I have made no such oath. So, why do I stay? Not for the comfort, as you say. It really wasn't an attempt to make you feel guilty. It was to point out that you have other choices."

"Yes to make you comfortable or not. It isn't about me at all. You know damn well I don't want you uncomfortable and will go off to bed like a good girl so that you don't have to lay on the floor." Deirdre stood. "Fine, have it your way and you can report back to your mother that I am good at doing what I am told."

"No. It wasn't about me and my comfort. I have an apartment, maybe you heard? Tim and I were going there. I had company. I wasn't looking for a reason to stay on the floor. Instead, I was looking for a way to show you that I did, in fact, care about what you wanted. That I do in fact care about you not having to deal with this alone. I wanted to show you that there were people here who will be there for you when you need it. By your choice."

"By pointing out you'd rather be somewhere more comfortable? Saying it is my choice if you are or not? That doesn't say you care that says your job was to find me, get me to bed any way possible."

"Now who's playing the guilt card? You know damn well that's not why I came to find you. You heard it. Acoustics, remember?"

Tim was beyond uncomfortable now. "I-I am just gonna..." He backed away.

"You are just going to sit your ass down and wait. You aren't deserting her either. Look, we really can't stay in the hallway, you know that. Obviously my point was misplayed. D, you have to realize no one here is trying to make you something you are not. Unless it's you. And in that case, all we want to do is help you be who you are and not let you limit yourself."

Deirdre started to cry, she sunk back to her knees. Her face was in her hands. Her shoulders shook with the force of the sobs. Tim looked at Arin, "Really man? You made her cry..." Tim started towards her but Deirdre looked up like a caught animal. She stood. "Fine done, defeated."

Arin stood, "It isn't all a competition. We're not out to get you. Honestly."

"No but you don't pull punches when it comes to hurting someone. A mistake...she won't let me forget that you know." She moved to Arin and took his jacket off. "Thank you for this." She held it out a short distance. "Don't worry I won't touch you." She looked away and waited for him to take it.

Tim shook his head. "Didn't think it possible for someone to have that much guilt or sadness in them."

Deirdre glared at Tim before looking to the floor.

"What do you mean, mistake?" Arin made no move to accept the jacket.

"You said it was a mistake. Loving her was a mistake that you won't repeat. It isn't that you don't want to repeat it it is that you feel that it was a mistake to begin with."

Arin recoiled in shock, "No... no, no. Loving her was the best thing that ever happened to him. He never thought that a mistake. The mistake was acting on it when he knew that his best friend was already in love with her. He would never want to repeat that part. But he, I, wanted to repeat the love. It was perfect. If Lancelot loved her first, Arthur wouldn't have been hurt. It would have been perfect."

"Yeah well...sure as hell didn't sound like you believed that and she wasn't perfect or blameless and the more you make it solely about you the worse it is for her." Deirdre looked at Arin, her eyes locking on his. "If the love is meant to be it doesn't matter who was first. That is the point. The hurt can only be stopped if that love isn't there. If you and Arey get together than there is no hurt." She tried to sound confident.

Arin shook his head sadly, "That time has passed as well."

"You have given up before you even tried. You never failed with me, you hadn't hurt Arey. Nothing had happened except you talked to the wrong girl first. Like Tim said it was one date. But hey you give up, you give up."

Arin smiled gently, "When I saw her face in the bathroom, I knew that was not true."

"No Lancelot knew it was true. What does Arin think of her? You just lectured me on being myself. What about you? You are giving up on a girl you just met, why because she is Arthur reincarnated? She could end up head over heels for you and you'd hurt her by ignoring it."

Arin shook his head again, "You both are developing a habit of putting me in a box you think fits. I didn't say Lancelot knew anything. I said, I knew that the hurt was already accomplished. At that moment. In her eyes and yours, it was done."

"That was ME! I did that by being present! If I hadn't been there...If Tim had just let me leave. I did that!" She walked towards him till they were almost nose to nose.

"No. You don't understand. It was at that point that I realized there was no avoiding the hurt. We were all brought back here. It had to happen. Hence, my failure wasn't in the lack of execution of the plan, it was in the plan itself. There was no chance of success. Before you interrupt, there was no chance of success at that plan. That doesn't mean I've given up anything."

"So no matter what I do I am going to hurt you both again?" She whispered, the will to fight leaving her.

"No. It means that we've established the past hurt and relived it. Now is the time we get to figure it out as Arin, Arey and Deirdre. And whoever else might be involved." Arin looked at Tim briefly.

"Well Arin, you and Arey make a great couple." She held out his jacket. "Or you and whoever. I wish you nothing but happiness and perhaps if I can figure out who I am outside of all this we can get to the point of not being afraid to shake hands."

"Oh my god, you can be obtuse at times. You think I'm afraid to touch you?"

Arin laughed, "You have just been through a quite traumatic flashback. I saw no reason to put you through another at that time. But..." He couldn't see a reason any longer. She was hurting and she needed some kind of comfort. He pushed the jacket aside and gathered her fully in his arms and held her close.

Tim saw it coming, Deirdre didn't and he knew that too. "Arin I don't think...right..."

She was shocked and stiffened as arms pulled her in. The smell of him was overwhelming and the feel of his arms so familiar that she immediately relaxed and melted against him. The emotions came in strong waves and she felt like she was drowning in his presence. Her arms wrapped around him, dropping the jacket. Her hands clung to him like she was drowning and she began to cry. It was in anger and relief. Deirdre wanted to push him away but couldn't bring herself to let go.

Arin knew it could be overwhelming. He focused on the feelings of comfort and friendship that Guinevere and Lancelot had. He wanted to help calm her, not cause more confusion. He hoped Kat was right that they could direct flashbacks and intensity.

Deirdre felt it coming and knew that if she didn't break the contact it was going to come and it wouldn't stop. At first it was calm, safety, trust. Then there was more, it was building, the voice inside her reaching out to him. Doing so would open a set of floodgates she didn't think she wanted or were helpful. She struggled in his arms. "I can't....I don't want to feel how much she loved you....don't make me..."

"Never will I make you." Arin broke the contact immediately, but not forcefully. He stepped a half step away and bent to pick up his jacket.

She looked at him. "Why?" She wanted to beg him to hug her again, she wanted to feel safe and wanted. She had never experienced anything like that in her life. The love, the overwhelming love and desire that was about to swallow her was scary, it felt right but frightening.

"Why? Why won't I make you? Because I have no desire to force either of us to relive something we're not. D, I don't know you. Arin can't yet possibly love you like Lancelot loves Guinevere. Maybe, one day? Who knows? But I know that before that can happen I really want to know Deirdre. Maybe we don't work out that way. But using some ancient feelings as an excuse would be a major disservice to us both."

"Why did you hug me?" She choked out the words.

"Oh..." He looked chagrined, "That's a much easier question. Because you looked like you could use the comfort and it seemed like you thought I really didn't like you. Two birds, I hope?"

Deirdre frowned but approached Arin slowly. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him. "Next time warn me." She closed her eyes and very briefly put her head on his chest. "I don't know how to understand it but...thank you."

"If I was sure you wouldn't have hit me again, I might have warned you. Next time, I'll know better. And, you're always welcome."

She looked down at her feet. "You aren't going to let me just stay here are you?"

Arin smiled, "Finally figured that out eh?"

"Was more trying to gauge how serious you were now that you've yelled at me and what not. I don't mind just being alone. I don't think being with Arey is a great idea."

"There are things you two will have to resolve. As much as there are more things for us, as well. But, no, being with her is likely just as overwhelming as being with me. Tim, can you take D to my apartment?"

Tim turned red, "Well uh, where will you sleep?"

Arin grinned, "One, I don't mean like that. I trust your chivalry there Tim. Plus, there's a room with a door and a pull out couch. You two figure that out. Me, there's a futon in the shop upstairs. Wouldn't be the first night I slept there."

Deidre shook her head. "No, I can suck it up. Vivienne will be angry that you went out of your way to do something for me. She is looking out for you." She wrapped her arms about herself. "Good night guys. I am sorry you had to come looking for me and that I was so unreasonable."

Arin stopped her before she could leave, "Who said I'm doing it for you? I'm doing it for Tim. He needs to get used to being around you too. He has foot in mouth disease something fierce. Help him out, okay? Viv won't care where I sleep. And you're still cold. Take the jacket. Finally, we covered the unreasonable thing already, so no more of that."

Deirdre looked extremely confused. "Foot in mouth?" Tim rolled his eyes. She took Arin's jacket. She felt bad for taking it from him but the weight of it was comforting. She slipped her arms in and pulled it about herself. Deirdre felt instantly warmer and calmer. She realized it was the smell, the leather and Arin's scent. It brought back flashes of horses, saddles and a man leaning down to kiss her from horseback. She shivered a little.

"Yeah, he was telling me how he almost called Arey, your grace. Kinda funny, really."

She looked at Tim. "You do know the next time you call me my queen I will have to hit you."

Tim threw his hands in the air, "It wasn't me and it wasn't like you gave me a choice!"

"See, lots to figure out. Apparently Tim likes to be hit. We'll try with swords next time. So, keep him on his toes."

Tim groaned, "Let's go D before he keeps going."

She gave Arin one last look. "Are you sure? I can deal, honest I am not that weak." The sudden thought that he might think her weak or fragile made her feel ill.

"Not even a consideration. I just think you should get to know Viv a bit more before you see how she handles mornings. You know, for all concerned parties."

Deirdre looked wary, "Good night then."

Arin winked, "It will be now."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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Footnotes

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INK

Arin nodded and went into Kat's room. He saw Theo attending to her, "She asleep for a bit?" He looked over at Kat. He could see the marks on her neck where she was grabbed.

"Theo, do you know what happened? Who did this to her?"

Theo looked up from the bottom bunk where Kat was laid out. She was groggily tired, but awake, looking almost grumpy as Theo continued to force feed her cups of treatment tea.

"From what I’ve been told, a rather vengeful succubus Sir." Theo replied matter of factly.

"I'm right here y'know." Kat grumbled quietly.

Arin smiled at her voice, "Great to see you Kat. I was worried there for a bit. I haven't seen something knock you down like that yet."

He nodded at Theo, "Thanks. More succubi. I'd like to get my hands on the one that keeps after you Kat. You know where I can find them?"

"She's just pissed I got her good across the face with an iron rod." Kat croaked out, managing a lopsided satisfied grin. "I'd love to help you out with that, but I was kinda out of it when Tim dragged us out of there."

"Yeah. That one was the incubus that did that. Quite the target you are out there. What's it like to be so popular with the guys and girls?" Arin winked.

"I'll let you know when I get laid." Kat croaked dryly.

Arin chuckled, "Yeah, those details I might not be nearly as interested in." He moved to sit down next to her on the bed. "So, big show in there right now I expect. I managed to get Arey back here."

"Even if it's Tim?" Kat joked. "I might try cuttin' in on your bromance action there." She was both kind of joking and also not. "That's good. How you think she's gonna take it? Hell, how are you taking it?"

Arin grinned, "Especially if it's Tim."

He shook his head, "I'm not sure how she'll take it. Depends on how much she fights Arthur's influence. She's already shown a lot of his tendencies." He paused and shrugged, "I don't know what I expected, but I didn't get the chance to even meet Deirdre. I thought Arey was cool, even when I found out she wasn't Guin. Yet, she seems to hate me now and Deirdre's done all she could to avoid me. I guess I just try and ride it out. My plan failed. I didn't get to Guin first. I didn't stop hurting Arthur."

"Don't beat yourself up over it." Kat tried to placate lamely. "They're new, they'll get over it eventually right?"

"And if they do? Then I have to try and resist any feelings I might have for Deirdre as Lancelot and additionally resist any feelings I have for Arey as Arin. I'm in a double bind. It's pretty much the worse way this could have went." Arin replied bitterly.

Kat attempted to sit up a little bit as she patted Arin gently on the shoulder. "I'm gonna give you the same advise I gave Deidre back at the club." Kat began seriously, making eye contact. "Threesome." Somehow, she managed to say it with a straight face.

Arin raised an eyebrow at Kat, "Mock a guy when he's down, eh? Tell you what, you go ahead and convince them that it's a good idea and I'll not complain. Somehow, Lancelot approaching Guin and Arthur offering his presence in their relationship seems a little less likely to be met with enthusiasm." He chuckled.

"Can't help y'all used to be vanilla prudes." Kat said attempting to shrug. "But if y'all have the hots for each other, why not dude. Get it out of your systems and then go fight monsters. Seems like a solid plan to me."

Arin laughed, taking some of the gloom he'd felt away, "Thanks Kat. At least a good chuckle cheers me up a bit. But I'll take your advice under consideration. To me, it sounds like a good solution."

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The next morning-Sunday

He had slept well. He was so used to being up early that Tim couldn't sleep in. He was careful to be quiet as he moved from the pull out couch and slipped out of Arin's apartment. His head felt clearer than yesterday and now he was angry with himself. He had panicked, he had called for Arin's help without thinking what it might to do him. Tim was disappointed. He hadn't stepped up, he hadn't done the smart or compassionate thing. He had let Deirdre do the hard part, let her approach Arey. He had made Arin come help when part of him knew damn well that it wasn't fair to make him see any of that and in the end what could he really do? Touching them would have meant another intense flashback and who knows how much worse that would have gotten.

Hands in his pockets he walked down the hall to the main cave area. He wished he had a shirt but he wasn't about to go swipe one from Arin's drawer and going in there would have meant possibly waking Deirdre. He shook his head. After the accident he had so much determination, he wanted to walk, he wanted to regain the life he had, to be strong and independent once more. He had felt ready to tackle anything and wanted to help others. So what had happened last night? He balked at helping Deirdre when she was upset. At the club he had taken charge but once they were here he had simply panicked.

No more of that. We have to fight. I can't go running to Arin every time something seems overwhelming. Come on they have way more to deal with than you do. They are facing a life where their past lives want each other and are so connected it is intense. In this life they just want to have a life that isn't tied to the past. You aren't helping.

There was no one else up yet so Tim stripped down to his boxers and began a series of pushups. He needed the physical push to bring him back to focus on what was important. Protect them, help them, be there for them. Have to be the strong one when they have to face the emotional baggage. Can't run when there are tears. Think more before you talk. He was pushing himself, arms moving, breath coming in big puffs as he strove to push past the anger.

Tim worked his arms until they shook so much that he couldn't hold himself up. He rolled over and began to do some crunches. He needed this, the routine. He needed to do as much of his normal everyday stuff as he was allowed. If he didn't he worried that he might lose Tim and let Ywain take over. Course he wondered if that would actually be all that terrible. Ywain seemed much better with this shit than he was. I have already been through it. I had to watch it the first time. It hurt to watch Lancelot, knowing he was so in love with her and she him. To know that she loved Arthur but couldn't be stronger for him. Not this time. This time we ensure they are all stronger.

Tim wished that the voice made him feel better yet it didn't. It felt like there was going to be more hard times before things settled into the 'normal.'

Kat had gotten up early as well, tired of feeling like a cripple, and she's never really been able to sleep for long periods of time anyway. She'd left Arey to sleep in the bottom bunk, she looked exhausted, and who knew what she was dreaming about, but she looked peaceful enough when Kat left. She figured the girl would also appreciate the privacy. From there, Kat took a quick shower before getting dressed and heading to her Kat corner. She needed to cancel some of her search programs (which would be pretty useless now) and open up the space for other projects.

She hadn't been working long when she was lured out of her office by the sounds of exertion, and decided to take a peak. What she saw made her mouth go dry, and she contented herself with quietly watching from the entryway, not about to disturb this show. This is definitely making my fictional dvd...

Tim finished his crunches and rocked to sit up. He stood and hopped lightly from foot as if skipping. He was trying to steel himself up, exhaust the body and re-energize it once he ate. The day was going to be a long one. If she won't let me go home permanently maybe just to grab few things. Clothes, basics, she can't be that heartless not to understand we need clothes. He also needed a shower. He felt gross from the man touching him yesterday and the club in general.

He stopped moving and bent over, elbows on knees taking deep breaths.

"So you're a boxer kind of guy huh?" Kat's voice rang out as it looked like Tim had finished his set. He looked pretty exhausted by now, which considering the routine he'd just finished, it made sense. So she decided to throw a softball his way, unable to avoid a comment all together. Just wasn't in her nature." Totally called it." Kat said with a shit eating grin.

"Morning Kat." Tim gave her a small smile. He was not in a joking mood. "How are you feeling? Arey still asleep?"

"Yeah, figured she deserved to sleep in after last night." Kat replied un-fazed. "You smell super manly and everything, but I think you could use a shower." Kat hinted offhandedly. "There's one over by the room Arin's sleeping in if you want. It's not as fully stocked, but it's got hot water and soap."

"At Arin's place? No Deirdre is sleeping in his bed. Arin is in the store on a futon. Last night..." He huffed. "Love to shower but I have no clothes to put on once I do. Nothing." He was frustrated. "Kat I fucked up. I turned into this...I don’t' even know who I was but it wasn't me and it wasn't Ywain. I wanted to leave her. She was crying and I wanted to just leave her there. I went to Arin for help without even thinking how he might feel about what was going on!"

Tim balled his jeans up and tossed them at the nearest box. "I have to figure out the best course of action. The three of them are not a good thing. It isn't good for us. I don't think Deirdre is strong enough to be Guin, I mean she did what no one else could and got Arey to know who she was but everything else? I have to make sure she doesn't hurt them again or get in the way. We have to succeed. Someone has to look out for her."

Even saying that made him feel worse. Did he really think Deirdre wasn't strong enough? He wasn't entirely sure but he was still very angry with himself.

-----

Deirdre woke with a start. She was not in her own bed. She didn't recognize the room. Disoriented she sat up and looked around. Like a slap to the face the previous evening brought her back. Arin's. She was breathing heavy, her hands gripping the bed. He had gone to sleep in the shop so that she could have space from both him and Arey. She remembered Arey's face and Guinevere taking over and calling out to Arthur. What have I done? She...oh god poor Arey.

She laid back down, pulling the blankets over her head. The bed smelt like him. God this is sick. You can't do this. Get up. You can leave. It is an apartment which means a front door. She sat up again and slipped out of bed. Just put your pants back on, grab your phone and go. They don't know where you live. She grabbed her jeans and slid them on. Her skeleton shirt lay on the floor and she pulled it over her tank top. Her hands frantically sought her jeans for her phone. Her eyes darted around. No coat, can't take his. The blue orbs landed on Arin's leather jacket. So you make do, a couple of blocks and get a cab.

Deirdre pulled her phone out and made a face when she saw the date. A Sunday meant there won't be as many cabs so she might have to walk a bit further. Suck it up princess. She thought bitterly.

With a last look around she made her way to leave. Her eyes were on her phone. No text from Heather. That's weird...

Her feet carried her to the bed where she sat and pulled up her friend’s text history. The last message was the one she had sent to Heather saying she was going home and to text when she left the club. No response last night, nothing this morning. Nothing. She felt a chill run through her body. It wasn't like Heather. She was glued to her phone. She would have checked as soon as she was out of the club.

Deirdre began to type. "Hey! You didn't text? What's up with that? lol" She waited for the angry, "You woke me up, I'm hung over" response. She waited and waited. "Why aren't you answering me?" Her hands were shaking. Something wasn't right and she was going to kill Heather when she saw her for making her worry like this. Go. I have to go find her. I will go into her room and.... She had a knot in her stomach.

With a twinge of guilt, a feeling she was becoming very used to Deirdre wondered if she should leave a note, something to explain. She felt odd snooping for paper and a pen in Arin's home but leaving with no explanation felt worse.

It struck her in that moment that she had woken up in a man's bed. She had slept there, in her underwear and tank top, alone but it still felt like a big deal to her. In his bed... She shook her head. Sorry not this morning. He is just a guy I don't know, that happened to be really nice to me and let me crash there. No point or reason to get all sentimental. Means nothing but a friendly gesture.

Deirdre found a pen and the back of an envelope. "Arin, I need to go. I did my job. You needed Arey to know who she was and I did that. I can't face her this morning or you. I know incubus or whatever. So I get attacked, die...I don't know. Friend is in trouble and I have to go help her. I can't stay. My story is done."

She knew leaving was a bad idea. In her gut, in her head and in her heart Deirdre knew leaving was the worst thing she could do. It was stupid and dangerous. A very small, dark part of her hoped that the incubus got her and killed her but she pretended that didn't exist and focused on Heather. That was her justification for doing something so insanely stupid.

The note was signed quickly and she pocketed her phone. Still no message from Heather. Fingers ran through her hair in and effort not to look like a drunk who woke up on the street. Deirdre tried to make her feet move to the door. Go. Have to go.

Somehow out there felt much bigger and much scarier than it had yesterday. Heather is in trouble.

You do not know that or sure and they would help you if she were.

Deirdre stared at the door. Okay four deep breaths and then I leave.

-----------------------

Arin woke up on the futon at the back of the shop. It was a little less comfortable than his bed, but he had gotten used to it. Occasionally Kat would try and sneak out of the house and would use his apartment to crash in when he was working late. They had come up with a system of signals so he would know when to use the futon. She paid him back by covering the times he tried to find Guin and kept it hidden from Viv.

I guess that's not going to be needed anymore. I wonder how Kat will handle not having that leverage next time she tries to hide out in my place. he smiled at the thought.

He rolled over to the side of the futon and put his feet on the floor. Sitting up, he rubbed his face and ran his hands through his hair, smoothing out the morning mess. He grabbed his clothes off the floor and dressed. He longed for a shower but knew he'd have to wait until Tim and Deirdre cleared out of his place. I should probably offer my shower to them as well. Otherwise there'll be one big lineup for the one in here.

After a quick stretch he folded up the futon and headed to the mirror. He expected to step through to some activity, but the room was empty. He frowned. Hmm, I guess it was a late night. Maybe everyone's sleeping in.

He walked into the hallway, heading to the entrance to his apartment. As he turned the corner he heard a commotion from Kat's room. [i]What's she done now?
he wondered, amused.

-----------------------

He saw her from the middle of the crowd, eyes drawn unbidden to watch her dance. The club was dark, and the room was crowded. His catching sight of her statistically was completely by chance, but then, John didn’t really believe in chance. It was destiny, and watching the bob of her blonde ponytail occasionally catch the light as she danced made the itch inside him start up again, sooner and more urgent than usual. The last one had barely taken the edge off, but this girl was better. He could feel it in his bones. He inched closer in the crowd to watch her more closely, already fantasizing the noises she’d make once he had his hands around her neck. Would she cry? He hoped so, he loved watching their big blue eyes well up right before the tears spilled down. He could see in the dark, but somehow he knew her eyes were blue. He was so eager, that he felt downright giddy, an anticipation that surpassed the others growing inside.

She wasn’t alone. The man she was with drew an equal sense of familiarity, but he only felt irritation for him. He stood between John and his next target. He wanted her, was going to have her and play until she broke. The vial in his pocket would insure her compliance, at least for a short time, but he had to get close enough first.

Something was happening. More people, and suddenly they were all moving into the bathroom. John watched; vexed but waiting for his opportunity. It never came. It was like they’d expected him, and the girl was being ushered out of the club with a virtual entourage. There were too many of them around her to whisk off without notice, but he managed to touch her in passing. Hardly noticeable in the club, but for a witch it was all the connection he needed to establish as he came away with a stray hair. He could find her again.

There was satisfaction in that knowledge, but the itch was still there. So he adjusted his plans for the evening and once again surveyed the club. This time, his eyes landed on a girl dancing around in blond pigtails done up with ribbon. She had blue eyes too he noted, as there was a passing resemblance. She’d do.
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The sounds of swords clanging together in battle could be heard in the background, but Arthur couldn't seem to focus on his surroundings. He could barely focus on the fight at hand, but all of his movements felt wooden. Everything was falling apart, and here he was fighting his own son in mortal combat. He hadn’t even known Mordred was his son until now, but he had always treated him as a beloved nephew. Arthur could not understand this blind hatred directed at him, not from someone he had always cared for and trusted. But then a judgment of character from King Arthur was apparently not worth much. Hadn’t the two people he had admired and loved above all others just betrayed him as well? Everything he had ever believed in, everything he had ever cared about, it was all a lie. How could he believe otherwise after all that had happened?

This is a dream…I’ve had it before…


The moment’s stray thought proved costly, and Arthur could not move in time to avoid Mordred’s blade completely. The gash to his middle was not incapacitating, but deep, and as he clutched the bleeding wound, Arthur knew it was a fatal blow.


“Don’t worry father, I’ll be sure to retrieve that pretty wife of yours and keep her company. Perhaps I’ll even drag the corpse of her lion lover in to watch when I bed her!” Mordred taunted, sensing his victory was near.

Arey didn’t want to see this, she needed to wake up!

Arthur didn’t know why the insult stirred such anger in him. Lancelot and Guinevere deserved ever slander thrown their way, but somehow, especially from Mordred, he couldn’t stand to hear it. A part of him would always love Guin he supposed. Her love was the reason he’d strived to be the King Merlin foretold he would be. Somehow, when the old man had said it to him, it had always sounded ridiculous, but when she smiled at him with her lips curled back in just the right way that he knew it was for him, Arthur felt like he could do anything if it would make her proud to be his wife. As for Lancelot, it felt more complicated than that, but once he had been Arthur’s greatest friend, they had saved each other in battle more than once, and he would never tolerate such open disrespect of Lancelot in his presence, at least not from Mordred!


With a surge of passion induced strength, Arthur unleashed a powerful assault, the ferocity of which took them both by surprise. It was a steady rhythm of parry strike, parry strike, until at last Arthur found his opening. With one quick strike, the tip of Arthur’s blade made it under Mordred’s helmet, slashing open his throat. It was finally done…

Yes it is, Arey thought in relief. She’d had this dream enough times to know when it would end. This time it didn’t though. Instead it just kind of shifted, and now she was staring at a scene that made her stomach turn. She wasn’t Arthur this time, she wasn’t anybody. She was just there, watching.

There was a girl there, mostly naked and looked beat to hell. She was tied to a crappy looking motel bed, and her mouth was taped over with duct tape that someone had used red marker to draw lips on. Her hair was still in lopsided pigtails, and though one eye was swollen half shut, there were still tears leaving out of her blue eyes.

“You honey, have been such a good sport.” A man’s voice rang out cheerfully, and the girl whimpered. The sound made Arey bristle, whatever was happening she needed to make it stop. She couldn’t see the man clearly, it was like his face was a blur, but his voice made a sharp chill run down her spine. He had a knife in hand, and it looked like he was carving strange letters into her skin.

“Better than I could have hoped really. You, are quite the creative beggar, and trust me I’ve seen quite a few.” He announced cheerily as if paying her a compliment. “If I wasn’t in such a hurry, I might have even extended out our little rendezvous here sweetheart, but I think this is where you and I are going to have to say adios.” He had moved to her stomach now, carving out one large symbol that the trail of smaller ones on her limbs connected to.

The girl was openly sobbing now, though the sound was muffled by the duct tape, and the blurred man brought the knife up to her face. Arey wasn’t sure why she knew what was about to happen, but she screamed and thrashed. Anything to make him stop. In one quick motion, the blade was slit across the girl’s neck, and she gurgled pathetically in a futile attempt to breath.

Arey screamed in protest, and suddenly it felt like a pair of hot piercing eyes were staring at her, drinking in her very soul. I found you… The same voice sing-songed as sharp pain bloomed across her abdomen. Arey couldn’t tell what was real and what was in her head. She was stuck somewhere in the middle and didn’t know how to find her way out, but a very real scream echoed throughout the bat cave.

The scream broke him from his present ranting. Not thinking he ran. Didn't matter that he had just done some working out. Nothing matter. Tim ran, barefoot and in his boxers down the hall and burst into Kat's room. He was at the bed in a flash. "Arey! Arey!"

He grabbed her shoulders, gripping her tightly. "Arey wake up!"

Arey's eyes flew open, wild and disoriented. The image of the motel was still burned into her eyes, it was all she could see as she began to thrash when she felt arms around her. "He killed her! HE KILLED HER!" She screamed over and over like a chant.

Kat rushed in behind Tim, taking in the scene with wide eyes. "Shit, she's bleeding!" Kat spotted the blood seeping through Arey's shirt first, and rush out and toward Arin's apartment to grab the med kit he kept in there.

Tim was glad he was strong but the way Arey was fighting him it was like she had superhuman strength. "Arey! Look at me!" He was concerned that she was bleeding but he was more concerned that she would try and get out of the bed before they could help her or she was more coherent. "Arey, it's Tim. Look at me! You have to stop moving!"

In Arin's room Deirdre could hear someone in the main part of the apartment. She shrunk away from the door and waited for them to be done and leave again. She didn't want anyone to know she was trying to leave. She held her breath and waited. They sounded frantic but Deirdre needed to leave, there was no time to worry about anything else.

"Kat! Where did you go? " Tim tried to hold Arey down, "You are hurt! Please Arey hold still!" He didn't want to hurt her but her thrashing wasn't doing her any favors. Tim also wanted to get things under control before Arin got there. If he could keep them apart for just a little, judge what sort of feelings were actually there, if any he might be able to make a plan. Plus he could prove that he didn't need Arin's help.

“Had to grab the med kit, look at all that blood.” Kat explained after she’d come crashing back in. She didn’t know what to do or how to help. She’s never seen a flashback like that before, and definitely not one that actually left someone bleeding. She also wasn’t sure how to help, Tim was holding Arey down while she thrashed, looking thoroughly out of her mind. The only time she’d ever seen anything remotely similar to this has been at the compound, when Nox was punishing someone for rebellious behavior.

“What’s happening?” Vivienne demanded from the doorway, dropping the duffle bag she’d pilfered from Tim’s apartment on the floor as she strode in, trying to examine Arey while Tim held her down.

“Katrina, fetch the talisman box off the shelf.” Vivienne commanded, calm but firm. “This isn’t a flashback.” Vivienne observed out loud, her eyes narrowing as Kat rushed off to fetch the requested items.

Tim looked at Viv. "What is it? If it isn't a flashback what is it?" He was holding Arey. "She is bleeding."

"I noticed." Vivienne replied, lifting up Arey's shirt to better look at the wound. It was smeared with blood, but there was clearly a symbol there that looked like it had been carved into her skin.

Tim's eyes went wide. "Where did that come from?"

Vivienne ignored his question for the moment as Kat came running back in with a box filled with what looked like coins etched with strange symbols as well. Vivienne dug through the box until she found what she was looking for and pulled out a silver one and placed it on Arey's forehead. Vivienne then place her hand over the girl's eyes, forcing them shut as she chanted softly in a language neither Kat nor Tim were likely to understand.

Slowly, the motel room and the dark eyes faded from Arey's vision, and she stopped thrashing, just laid there panting and shaking. "Someone was using blood magic." Vivienne exhaled once she'd stopped.

Tim let out a big exhale as Arey stopped thrashing. He shook his head. "Blood magic?" He looked concerned. "Is she okay?"

"Very potent, very dark magic." Vivienne explained as she hiked up the girl's shirt to begin cleaning the wound. "Using runic spells with blood magic is also very rare and dangerous. I don't know a witch in the city who would even try it." Vivienne said looking disturbed. "Physically yes, she will be fine. She just had someone rooting about in her head however, and they did not seem to be showing her pleasant things. We will have to wait and see are far as the psychological damage goes."

Tim looked down at Arey. His hand brushed the hair from her forehead. She looked peaceful but he knew it had come at a price. "We will be here for her. We have to be. We need her and someone is attacking her. Who could have done this, who would attack her? Who else knows who she is?"

Deirdre waited with baited breath. The noise from the apartment stopped meaning she was alone again. Okay I can do this. I can leave. Heather why haven't you texted back? She wanted to leave but couldn't even bring herself to leave the bedroom.

"That is a disturbing question that I currently have no answer to." Vivienne replied, her gaze intensely gazing down at the rune before she pulled Arey up into a sitting position and had Kat assist her with the bandaging.

"H-he killed that girl...I saw him do it, I couldn't make him stop..." Arey croaked out her eyes were coming back into focus, but she was still shaking. "He looked so...so happy doing it. Like it was b-bloody Christmas!." Arey bit out in disgust, and suddenly she was pushing herself out of the bed and toward the bathroom, relieving herself of the contents of her stomach.

Tim moved a little away to let the women take care of Arey. "What girl? He, who? Arey..." He moved again so that she could get to the bathroom. He looked to Vivienne, concerned. "What's happening?"

Arin stepped into the doorway of Kat's room, "Yeah, what exactly is going on?" He looked around the room, taking stock of who was where. He could hear someone being sick in the bathroom and could only assume it was Arey, "And... Tim? Where's D?"

Tim looked over at the door. "Morning to you too. Arey had a nightmare, Viv says blood magic, Arey says some guy killed some girl. She was screaming and moving around. She is throwing up now. Some symbol is carved into her stomach." He looked at the bathroom door. There was worry in his eyes. "We are waiting to see if she is okay."

He took a deep breath. He frowned and shrugged. "Deirdre is likely still sleeping." There was an edge to his voice and his mouth moved into a straight line. "Right now the only thing we have to worry about is Arey. Her stomach is cut up. Someone is targeting her and we don't know why. Everything is calm at the moment, Viv came at the perfect time and took care of it." He shrugged. "See I can handle things without calling for you."

He tried to smile but there was a bit of edge to it. Anger, though not directed at Arin.

Arin nodded, "I knew you could. Kind of why I was surprised last night." He looked over to Vivienne preparing. "Are there more preparations required? Should I get Deirdre so we can all figure this out? Wait, did you check on D at all? Are we sure it was only Arey that was targeted?" He was worried about Arey, but Vivienne's calmness kept the edge off. He knew Deirdre would be less likely to come to the group if she had a problem.

Tim shook his head. "I came when Arey screamed. When I left the apartment was quiet. I didn't go in and check. Plus with the screaming and what not there was no time. Do you really think....?" He huffed. "Look I got Arey, she isn't going anywhere, plus Viv is here in case it happens again. Maybe we should get D....you know so we can all be together." There was a bit of worry now in his voice. He hadn't thought to look in on her. How was he to know something like this was going to happen? He also hadn't considered there might be more trouble at all and easily dismissed D as a nonissue when Arin brought it up. He felt a pull of guilt. Hey I had Arey to worry about. I can't be in two places. Can't beat myself up. "Yeah check on her and bring her here. We shouldn't be apart right now. Arey needs protecting."

Arin nodded, hearing the worry creep into Tim's voice, "Look, no big deal. I'm sure she's sleeping soundly. Someone screaming and blood magic has a certain way of gaining one's attention. But yeah, if things are under control... and you're sure Arey's okay?" He paused. He wanted to go in and check on Arey, but knew he'd be in the way. Plus, he wasn't really sure he was who Arey would want to see right now. Maybe getting Deirdre down here would make Arey feel better. "I'll go get D. Just... make sure Arey gets anything she needs, okay?"

Tim nodded and looked to the bathroom, "She is as good as one could expect at the moment given everything. Viv says we have to wait and see what the damage is. I got her man, not going to let her out of my sight. She..." He remembered how she looked thrashing around under his hands and then the bit of peace that came to her face when Viv chanted and finally was able to help her. "I got her, get Deirdre. Anything Arey wants I will make sure she gets, anything." Tim looked back towards Arin. Bring her back here. She isn't strong and if she is in trouble... Tim swallowed now a bit worried at what Arin might find. "I am sure it is all good, with D I mean."

"Right. Okay. I'll be right back with her then..." He nodded at Tim and after a last look toward the bathroom, he turned and headed to the apartment.

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Deirdre still stood in the bedroom. She gripped the envelope with her note in one hand, her phone in the other and was bordering on tears. She couldn't get her feet to move. You are not this weak. Come on don't let them tell you what to do. You want to go, so go. She took two steps to the door and gripped the handle. Turning it she paused. But if you leave and that incubus finds you he will.... She gagged a little remembering what Kat had told her. She did not want her only sexual experience to be at the hands of that man.

The handle was let go. Deirdre closed her eyes. If you don't go and Heather is in trouble it will be your fault that you didn't do anything. You know, you know because she didn't text you. You might be the only one. Her hand wrapped around the handle once more. Two breaths and open the door.

Deirdre took two very deep breaths and opened the bedroom door to step into the main part of the apartment. She stopped and stared toward the front door. Okay so out, go out. She took a deep breath.

Arin stepped into the apartment quietly. No reason to wake her up in a panic if she is asleep. He moved toward the door when he saw the handle turn. He waited for the door to open, but the handle returned to it's original position. Odd. He stopped, and sat down on the couch, watching the door. After a few moments the door finally opened and out stepped Deirdre. She had her back to him as the door was on the same wall as the couch. She seemed to be focused on the front door. She took a breath, as if preparing herself. Arin wondered if she still thought of leaving. He waited a moment to let her make the decision on her own.

Her hands balled into fists, crushing the envelope. She took one step and stopped. Why can't I go? The feeling in her stomach told her she knew why. It was wrong to leave but staying carried so many issues. Arin said I should be myself. I know what will happen if I stay I see it in all their faces I should just go.

She exhaled forcefully and shook her head.

Arin could see she was struggling with something, "Good morning D. Anything I can help with?"

Deirdre jumped and turned, wide eyed to look at the couch and the person who sat there. "Why are you here?" Did he know? Did Vivienne send him to stop me? "I-I mean good morning. I didn't expect to see you...I mean here...I know it is your place but...." Her eyes dropped to the floor.

Deirdre moved towards him and held the scrunched up paper out, careful to keep space between them. "Here." She waited for him to take it, unable to look at him at all.

Arin smiled, "Don't worry, I didn't come to spy or anything. Actually, I was worried. Arey's had some sort of magic cast on her and I was concerned that whoever was targeting her might also try to get at you. I wanted to be sure you were okay." He stopped when she approached and held out the paper.

"Oh... I see." He looked up at her, "Look, if you can look at me, with confidence, and say you believe you are making the right decision then fine. But I'm not taking a good bye letter. That's not cool."

"Arey?" Deirdre looked up at him. "Why are you here if she is in trouble? You should be with her."

Arin nodded, "You're right. We should all be there for her. We should all be there for each other right now. Obviously there are things out there that are looking out for us. We could all be in trouble." Arin cocked his head, looking at the paper still in her hand, then at Deirdre again, "So, you want to go check on her with me then?"

Deirdre shook her head slowly. "Arey won't...I mean I don't think she will want me to be there. I made him come back even though she fought it. I did that and I don't know how she took it all. What if she hates me?" She held the paper out a little more. "My part is done. Vivienne told me I had to do what it took and I did. I did what none of the rest of them including her, were going to do. I stepped forward and let Guinevere take over, I brought Arthur back to you and I am done. My friend is in trouble and I should go."

Arin frowned, "Weren't you just telling me last night that I shouldn't jump to conclusions about how Arey might feel about me? If you really want to know how she took it, let's go ask her."

Arin shook his head as she tried to rationalize her role in all this, "I really doubt your role was simply cupid. And even if that is the complete impact you're intended to make in this part of the story, you're still not done. Arey and I aren't nearly more than people who know each other's names. Lots of work still to be done. But if you really think you have a friend in trouble and are intent on leaving, take me with you. It's your decision, but I would like to accompany you so I don't have to worry about something getting you while we're distracted."

Deirdre took out her phone and sat next to him on the couch. "My friend, my roommate she never not texts me back. I messaged her last night when we left, I left her at the club all alone. We joked about the killer, you know the one in the news and how she is like the victims. She never replied last night. Nothing. I texted her again and still nothing. Not even an angry text." She held her phone out to him and then paused realizing how close they were. "I-I should stand." Her voice was shaky. She held both the phone and the note towards him.

Arin frowned as he looked at her phone, "Okay, yeah, I get it. We should definitely go check on your friend. Tell you what, come back down with me and we'll let them all know what's up. We can make sure that there's nothing else Arey needs and maybe even get more backup from Tim." When she held the note out again to him he shook his head, "Look, I'm really, really not going to take that note. I don't want to read it. So, you can get rid of it, or pocket it, or whatever. But I'm not reading it."

She looked down. "I can't. I wrote it on the back of one of your bill envelopes. You kind of have to take it at some point." Her voice was very quiet. "You can't come with me either, or Tim. Or anyone. Vivienne won't like it."

Arin chuckled, "Right, well, I'm unlikely to mail that letter then. I'll find another way."

He sighed at her continued fear of Vivienne, "She may or may not care what we do about your friend, but if it means that much to you that you are willing to desert us, I don't care what she thinks. We will be going with you. And I would prefer to have Tim along. The others will be safe here."

Deirdre lowered the paper and the phone into her lap. "You don't get it. I don't want to leave. I mean I do but I know I shouldn't. Hell I have been in the bedroom for a while trying to get up the nerve to open the door. You can't do anything to help me. You can't come near me. Vivienne knows that I am the villain. I am the bad part of all of this. It was in her eyes and the way she talked to me when she found me in the store. It was in the way she pointed out that Arey was the only woman you fancied that didn't cringe under her presence. She doesn't want me here. She doesn't want you near me and god knows I have one job and that is to do what it takes for the king. I did that. I didn't see her or Tim or you stepping up to show Arey who she was. That really, really sucked but I did it. Vivienne doesn't want me to mess things up and you know it. You don't want me to mess things up. It was in your eyes when you saw me in the bathroom, when you realized who I was. You didn't want me here anymore than she does. You wanted Arey. She wants Arey, they need Arthur."

Her eyes were on her lap. She couldn't look at him. She was having a hard enough time sitting next to him. The voice in her head wanted her to do things, longed to touch him, to move closer, she called for his touch and the longing Deirdre felt was leaving her unnerved. "I-can't be near you. I can't hold her back...I don't know how to handle this feeling....trying not to let it cloud anything."

Arin sat back, trying to follow the flow of Deirdre's thoughts, "Wait, hold on. Too many things at once... Can we take one thing at time? I'm sorry, I will move if it's too hard. I... I don't mean to..." He resisted the urge to just tell her to let it go, just follow the voice in her head. Not only was it a bad idea, it really wasn't the right time. She had a friend she was concerned with. Arey was hurt and being attacked by magic, and all he could think about was bringing Deirdre, no, Guinevere, back into the bedroom.

"I don't want this to be between Lancelot and Guinevere. I really don't." He forced himself off the couch. He didn't move too far away though. He wasn't trying to avoid Deirdre and did not want to make her think that. Instead he sat a foot or so away from the couch, on the floor.

"Look, you have to understand where Viv is coming from. She's the only one who witnessed the original. She saw directly what happened. Now, I'm her son. She may come across as cold and domineering, but she does actually care about me. You can understand that she doesn't want her son to get hurt like Lancelot was. I don't think you intend to do that at all, but I'm willing to take the risk and she isn't as willing. It doesn't mean she doesn't like you. She doesn't like what you might represent. So, prove her wrong. It'll be satisfying to see her have to change her opinion of you." He grinned.

"As for not stepping up and telling Arey anything. I knew I wasn't the right person to do it. You saw what happened when I tried to talk to you about it. Hell, I felt it. I wanted to wait so I didn't have to cause anything like that until you two had come to some sort of terms with who you were. But yes, I'm sure it was incredibly difficult. It was quite difficult to come in and witness you two in that embrace so, I have some idea." He shrugged.

"That's what I was thinking when you saw me in the bathroom. That realization I came to, right then, that there was no preventing the pain that would be caused by our first meeting. I tried. I thought I had the perfect way to do it. Then I saw you and Arey and watched as we all recognized at some level and knew... I don't know if I want Arey. I don't know if I want you. I know Lancelot does want Guin, but he also doesn't want to betray Arthur again. But that's him. That's only a part of me and I refuse to let it define our potential friendship or anything that might grow from that."

He sighed, "Sorry for the rant."

Deirdre looked up and smiled a little. "It's okay. We both sort of have a lot all pent up. Thank you for moving. The things I feel are very foreign to me. Never had a boyfriend so being overwhelmed with what she feels for him is a bit difficult." Her cheeks reddened a little. She echoed his sigh. "I can't leave. I should, something is wrong with Heather but I can't do it." Her arms wrapped around her body, her knees folding in. "I am scared Arin."

Arin watched Deirdre curl up. His heart wrenched in sympathy. For once he felt in sync with Lancelot as they both just wanted to go hug the woman in front them to comfort her. Yet, he held off. The last thing she needed was any kind of flashback right now, "Yeah, D. No doubt. I won't give you false platitudes. But, my experience, any fear is best met head on, sword drawn, ready to fight. Don't shrink away from it. You have people who will help. Hell, you will be hard pressed to prevent them from helping. So, let's take this on. You, me, Tim, Arey, Kat... whoever. No more running away, no more hiding. Step up, be strong. Show Viv and everyone else that you are not going to be trapped in a role you didn't ask for."

Deirdre's eyes locked on Arin's. "All I wanted was to choose for myself. My whole life someone has told me what to do. I-I don't want to be patted on the head and told I am a good girl or perfect. I am not any of those. I mean I am good I..." She blushed and looked away. "I don't fight though...not with swords."

She stood and put a hand out to him. "It's okay I have it controlled. Don't worry I won't try and do anything to you. I mean not that I don't think you aren't good looking..." She looked away, feeling warmer. "No running, let's go find out what Arey needs. She is what is important. Maybe I will call my friend and if not maybe Viv will let me go."

Arin smiled gently as she fumbled with explaining how she felt. He understood, there was no easy way of putting any of this in words, "I'm sure you are a great person. As for swords, well, that will be the one time that you will have to let me tell you what to do. I'll make sure you're at least able to competently defend yourself."

He watched her stand and hesitated to take her hand. He grinned with pleasure as she complimented him, "Thank you D. It's flattering you think so. Trust me, I have no arguments with Lancelot's choice when it comes to appearance. Though I appreciate the sentiment you intend." He grabbed her hand, trying to repress any effects as he boosted himself to his feet. Even with his best efforts he couldn't completely avoid the deep memories of holding her hand as he pulled her into bed with him. No, not me and not her. He let go of her hand gently and shook the image out of his head, "Sorry."

Her lips were parted, breath slightly ragged. "It is strong." She swallowed though her mouth was dry. Her body felt like it was vibrating at his touch. Her eyes were on his face. Arin let her hand go. "Please don't apologize. I appreciate the division, I really, really do but I have to learn to get a handle on the attraction. Hers and mine." Her voice dropped lower. "We should go."

Arin nodded, "Yeah, it's not that easy to just dismiss the deep feelings there. Especially hard when the attraction makes sense in this time as well. Though I can't imagine how it feels for you and Arey. Still, the flashbacks do get a bit easier to control and recover from. I know."

"Yes, we should go. And don't worry about Viv letting you go. We will go and check on your friend."

"Makes sense..." She gave a small sad smile. "Don't worry about me. Arey, think about her. Focus on her."

She turned, "Thank you Arin. For this...for the bed...and if we can go find my friend without getting into trouble I would really appreciate it. Something doesn't feel right."

Arin shook his head at her stubbornness, "Of course I'm going to worry about Arey too, but stop trying to get me to forget about you. One, that's impossible and two, I don't want to. But you're welcome. I'm glad I did come to check on you. You weren't in the same kind of trouble but I'm still happy I could help. And I will do my best to ensure we get out there to check on her."

Deirdre shrugged a little trying to dismiss the comment about not wanting to forget about her. "You will have to tell me at some point what your name means." She let him lead the way back out. Tim had led her here, she had been upset and she wasn't sure she remembered where to go.

"Ah yes. Traditionally it's lover of the sea, or devoted to the sea. Not surprising when one's mother is the lady of the lake." Arin shrugged. He had long ago come to terms with the obviousness of his name. Yet he always felt a little silly explaining it to new people. He led them back down the hallway toward Kat's room.

"I like it." Deirdre smiled. She went quiet as they walked. "Is Arey okay?"

Arin shrugged, "I hope so. Let's find out." He indicated Kat's room and followed her in.

Deirdre stepped in and looked at Tim. She resisted the urge to take Arin's hand. She was nervous and his presence, even if it was just because of Lancelot, made her feel better. She didn't think it was all Lancelot. Arin had a way of talking that made her calmer, more level when she felt so overwhelmed. His presence just made things better.

"Is Arey okay?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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Footnotes

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INK

Tim looked up at Arin and Deirdre. "Oh good you two are back. Okay." He nodded and really looked them over for a sign of how things had gone. Deirdre looked fine and that is all that mattered at this moment. All attention was for Arey now.

"I think she stopped puking." Kat called from the bathroom, where she had taken up vigil as Arey retched into the porcelain throne and held back her hair. Arey's grip was still hard on the sides, and she was breathing hard as she tried to rationalize what had just happened. The eyes alone had been enough to spook her, but everything about that dream had felt too real, like she'd just been made to watch someone be murdered. She didn't even want to begin contemplating why she'd woken up bleeding.

Kat gently pulled her up toward the sink, handing Arey a cup of water and ushering her to rinse. "You'll feel better if you do." Kat urged. Arey complied numbly, feeling too shaken to really do anything but comply to the gentle cajoling.

"We need to cleanse the wound." Vivienne replied, watching the bathroom intently as she waited for the two to come out. "Whoever cast that spell was trying to create a mental link between the two of them, and that mark is the tangible connection."

Deirdre bit her lower lip as she listened to Viv. "Is there anything I can do to help?" She tried to sound confident in the face of the woman who intimidated her so much. Arin said to show her. Show her, prove her wrong. She stood a little taller.

Tim frowned, "Who wants that sort of connection?"

"Yeah. Mom, can you actually track any of that back? Anything we can get a hint at where this person is?" Arin didn't know a lot of the details around the magic that his mother knew. He focused on the physical world. Swords and other combat techniques was where he felt most comfortable.

"If we move quickly, I might be able to catch an imprint." Vivienne conceded. "We'll have to un-wrap the wound however, which will involve some pain and a good deal of restraint."

Tim inhaled. "I can help." He looked at Deirdre, "Maybe you should go and ugh...go and wait in the other room."

Arin raised an eyebrow at Tim, "How about we let D decide for herself then? Besides, we should be asking Arey if she's okay with it before we hold her down. Not to mention, D might be best to help keep her as calm as possible."

Tim frowned a little. "You are right. We should ask Arey."

Deirdre looked to Arin. There was a great deal of appreciation in her eyes. "Whatever I can do to help."

"Kat, is Arey up to talking?" Arin called toward the bathroom. He didn't want to barge in there. He knew no one felt like showing weakness and being ill was one of those times that an audience was not appreciated.

"Uh...Maybe?" Kat replied unsure, as she tried to usher Arey out of the bathroom and toward the bed. "She still looks kind of out of it."

"Arey?" Vivienne began softly. "This will be unpleasant, but we need to know who is attacking you. This is our best option for immediate information, while the connection is still strong." Arey gazed up blankly, but cleared her throat a moment later. "Just do it." Arey croaked. Whoever that was just killed a girl, she could feel it in her bones. If a little pain on her part could help make him stop, she could just suck it up.

"Who do you want holding you down Arey? Viv says there'll be some restraint required. D will talk you through it." Arin was sincere in his questioning. He didn't want to jump in there and assume he was welcome.

Restraints? That was disconcerting. Did it really matter who held her down here? It's not like she knew the others any better. "Don't care." Arey replied tiredly

Tim looked at Arin. "Head or feet?"

Deirdre slipped into the room and gently climbed onto the bed beside Arey. "Hi...." She whispered to her. She brushed her hair from Arey's face.

"How strong you feeling? And you think you're okay with grabbing her thighs? Best leg restraints are just above the knee."

Tim nodded, "Tell me where you want me and I am good."

Arin shrugged, "She didn't seem to care either way. If you're up to it, take her legs. Just don't get kicked. Unless, of course, that falls into your desire to get hit..." he winked and walked toward the head of the bed.

Tim grumbled. "I'll be fine." He moved to the foot of the bed and climbed up, straddling Arey's legs. "Sorry about this." He put his hands on her lower thighs and held her down with his body weight.

Deirdre smiled at Arey. "Hey tell me what you are studying in school."

"Not sure yet...law? Medicine?" Arey replied quietly as Vivienne began removing the gauze from around her stomach, revealing an angry red symbol carved into the skin. It didn't feel pleasant, but there wasn't any earth shattering pain like she'd expected.

Arin winced in sympathy as the wound was revealed. He reached down and wrapped his hands around her wrists, then thought twice, "I don't want you to dislocate a shoulder. So, I'm going to need to get a little closer." He bent down and grabbed her upper arms, laying his forearms across her forearms and pinning her. He used his full body weight to prevent as much movement as possible. He didn't want to add any injuries.

Vivienne reached down into the box and pulled out another token before making eye contact with Arey; a flicker of sympathy there in her eyes. "Brace yourself, I'm going to reopen the connection." She warned.

"Keep your eyes up here. Law or medicine. Big subjects. I am still not sure myself. Do you live on campus?" Viv's words made her anxious but she wanted Arey to stay calm so she kept her voice level and soothing.

In one quick motion, Vivienne placed the coin on the mark with her hand over it, and kept it there. Arey's body suddenly seized up, her upper body trying to fling itself away as a strangled scream ripped out of her throat, eyes rolling back.

Vivienne's sight shifted, no longer her own. She saw a room, and a bloodied body lying on the bed. There was a man, using a knife to cut off the two pigtails of the body before him. He was blurred, but Vivienne could sense rage through the bond. So much rage. Her eyes turned as if sensing their presence, and Vivienne got a clear look at his dark dead eyes. Breathing in a sharp breath, Vivienne yanked the token away, breaking the connection once again. She knew who they were dealing with, and that was not good news.

"Mordred..." Vivienne bit out, mind reeling at the implication, for the life of her unable to reason why the Gleaming would choose to revive him as well. Arey had stopped jerking once the connection was broken, but she had broken out into a heavy sweat, looking exhausted.

Deirdre laid her hand on Arey's forehead and gently stroked her skin. "It is alright now. Close your eyes and rest." Her voice was low and soft. She looked up at Arin. "It is alright now."

Tim looked a bit pale but he held fast until the end. When Arey relaxed and Deirdre spoke he released his hold. He shifted to sit at the end of the bed at Arey's feet.

"Kat can you please get me a cool, damp cloth?" Deirdre looked over at Kat, her hand still gently moving on Arey's face, brushing her hair back. "It is done, just rest."

Tim looked at Arin then to Vivienne. "Why is Mordred back and why is he doing this? She said he killed some girl. Is that true? We can't let him get away with this but can't call the cops, we have no proof. What do we do now?" The lawyer in him wanted to find out if someone was murdered and see justice done. Tim was worried about Arey, about the girl she said he killed. "Maybe it was in the future, you know she saw what he was going to do. Maybe we can stop it." He could tell by the look on Vivienne's face and the way Arey had screamed that he was being optimistic. He felt it in the pit of his stomach. "Mordred had a hate on for Arthur. That hasn't changed has it? And how does he know who she is?"

Deirdre looked over at Tim. "Too many questions, too many things for us to discuss at this moment. Let's make Arey comfortable, wrap the wound and then we can move forward. Everyone breathe a moment. One thing at a time." She waited for the cloth from Kat. Her first task was Arey and then the rest. The blonde looked so pale, so drained and Deirdre didn't want them tossing around all that information and questions until Arey was rested. She was a part of it too, not just a body on the bed. Arey had every right to be a part of the discussion and not to have more things dropped on her after everyone else had figured things out.

The name Mordred made a pit of anxiety churn in Arey's stomach, along with a swell of guilt an confusion. When Tim suggested that the murder she'd witnessed might not have occurred yet, Arey found herself desperately wishing that it was true, though part of her knew it was a false hope. She didn't say anything against it however, afraid that if she voiced her doubt it would be true.

Vivienne had no such qualms banishing the delusion, though she tried to do it as gently as circumstance allowed. "A spell like the one he performed requires a great deal of power. To find you in this manner, and form that connection using blood magic, it requires a sacrifice. I very much doubt that the girl you saw is alive."

Kat came back with the damp cloth, handing it off to D before listening in. "So what do we do now? We can't just let this guy run loose killing people."

Deirdre took the cloth from Kat and began to gently wipe Arey's face and neck. She listened to what everyone was saying, her mind working over all the details. Someone was dead, a girl and they didn't know who she was or where she was. She had been sacrificed and that left Deirdre feeling ill. She focused on Arey though, letting the others work on the issue of Mordred. Arey had been his focus, his target. She looked exhausted and pale. Everything led back to Arey and they needed to make sure she was okay.

"For the moment we need to recoup and train." Vivienne replied, making herself plain. "With the exception of Arin, no one here is ready to face the dangers lurking in the city's shadows. Mordred, however much a man, also appears to be a practitioner of dark magic, which given his apparent fixation, makes him infinitely more dangerous."

She smiled down at Arey before looking over at Vivienne. She understood the gravity of the situation but needed to check in on Heather before she could really focus. Besides training has nothing really to do with me. Arin said he would teach me but really....why? "I have to leave. My friend is in trouble. I just need to make sure she is okay. I left her alone at the club last night and now she isn't answering my texts. If I promise to come back can I go and check on her?"

She reached down to hold Arey's hand as she spoke. "I will even grab clothes and the things I need. I won't run, I will come back until you tell me you don't need me here. I just can't ignore the feeling in my stomach that something is wrong. I will try calling her first but if she doesn't answer I have to go and check in on her."

Tim was ready to train, ready to learn and fight off whatever came his way. He had to prove to himself that last night was not the way it was going to be, that he could do what needed to get done and be stronger for all of them. He looked over at Deirdre and then to Viv, giving her a "You aren't going to consider that are you? She isn't going anywhere." look. His jaw clenched as he resisted the urge to tell her that she was safer here, safer maybe in Arin's room, away from everything and everyone. At least for now. Deirdre wasn't asking him though and he would give his opinion if it was needed. He stood slowly from the bed and leaned against the frame, arms crossed.

A petty angry little voice that Vivienne usually kept locked away reared its head at that. Oh you promise do you? We know the value of such promises from our beloved Queen Guinevere do we not?" It hissed. Outwardly, she was more calm, though her gaze was piercing and hard. It was not fair to compare this girl to Guinevere, her rational mind argued back, suing for calm. I have said so as many times to Arin, and it is the truth, they are different people, let it go.

"I would have your word given officially then, and I promise you that no good ever came from going back on a pact with a faery." Vivienne finally replied flatly.

Deirdre looked at Vivienne. "I promise. I will go, check on her and come back." She looked over at Arin. "I swear I will come back."

She still held Arey's hand and had not moved off the bed yet. She held her breath and hoped that Vivienne would let her go now that she promised. She ignored the way Vivienne was looking at her, trying to keep in mind what Arin had told her about his mother. Don't overreact, she is like that with everyone Something in her gut told her differently.

She just wanted to go home, see Heather and throw something at her for making her worry and then come back. She'd pack some clothes, toiletries and maybe even her dance shoes to help pass the time while the others work.

"I'm going with her," Arin declared. He gently released Arey's arms. "If Mordred is out there I don't think it's a good idea to let any of us go alone. Arey needs time to recover and quiet will do her well. It's safe here. Tim can come with us and we'll make sure nothing else goes awry."

Deirdre looked over at Arin. She wasn't sure if his offering to help would make Vivienne change her mind.

Tim frowned and huffed. He shook his head a little. He couldn't believe that Vivienne was even considering letting her leave. Did she realize that she was most vulnerable of all of them? "I'll go but you have to let me shower and Theo needs to clean my clothes. Maybe best to wait or not go."

Deidre slid over Arey gracefully. "I have to go. Look, before anyone decides..." She looked at Vivienne. "Let me call her and see. If she answers well, all good."

She pulled out her phone and held it up. "Just going to step outside..." She stepped into the hallway.

Tim looked at Arin. "What are you thinking?" He lowered his voice. He looked to Vivienne. "You can't seriously be thinking of letting her go. Arin we need to stay here with Arey, we need to train and going out on silly errands are not needed right now."

Arin looked at Tim, confused, "A quick trip out to her apartment to let her gather her things and check on a friend doesn't seem that silly. Mom, is Arey going to be okay now? Tim, training will come. A couple hours won't be the end of the world. Arey, are you feeling well enough to let us take a quick run out?"

Tim shook his head again. Arin was forgetting about Arey. They all needed to stay here with her. He couldn't make sure they were all okay if they separated. Arin and Deirdre shouldn't be alone together. He wiped his face, he still felt sweaty and desperately needed a shower. Vivienne won't let them go, she knows.

Her hands shook as she pulled up Heather's contact and pressed call. She put the phone to her ear and desperately hoped to hear Heather's voice. Just pick up. Come on, just pick up.

Deirdre was trembling, just a little. There was fear that the feeling in her stomach, the feeling that something was wrong with her friend would turn out to be true. Pick up. The phone rang and rang.

"I've already made a stop in at your residence Timothy." Vivienne replied flatly as she indicated the duffle bag lying forgotten on the floor. "You should find that I have packed it with your essentials." The idea of Arin going to accompany Deirdre did not sit well with Vienne if she was being completely honest, but it did make the most logical sense. Tim was too green to send out as protection yet; that would only put then both in danger. Arin was the best prepared and best trained. If they left, Arin would have to go. She didn't have to like it, but there was no way around it.

Arey didn't like the decision being pushed off to her. The last thing she wanted to do was keep anyone trapped here, especially if they were worried about a friend. She wasn't sure what she wanted either, to be alone or to cling to someone. If she felt more like herself, the answer would have been clear. She hated to depend on people, it sounded cynical, but doing so had only ever led to disappointment and heartache, and those were two emotions she was bone weary of experiencing.

"Sure." Arey replied simply, eyes fixed on the ceiling. Everything Arin had just said was logical, and saying anything else would have been selfish.

Tim didn't like it but he didn't argue. "You grabbed things from my place?" He noticed the bag for the first time. "Thanks." His tone was somewhat cold. "I'll go shower so we can get going if you are all sure this is a good idea."

He walked over to the bag and picked it up. Only now did he remember he was in his boxers. Tim held his bag at his hips.

Kat continued wiping the cloth across Arey's forehead, trying to ignore the palpable tension that had begun to engulf the room. Everyone seemed irritated or on edge, and she hated it. "Why don't I go?" Kat offered up after a moment. "Next to Arin I've got the most experience with this stuff, and if we need to do a little B&E if we run into trouble, I'm more useful out there than in here." She reasoned.

Tim frowned and looked at Arin. "You go instead of Arin and I or go with us? You and Deirdre alone, I don't think so. The last time that happened you both ended up in the incubus' arms. Hell if I am letting that happen again."

"That was one time, and I was off guard!" Kat shot back hackles raised. "How many times exactly have you been caught in a thrall?" It was a cheap shot, but Kat didn't like the implication he was throwing that she was weak.

Tim's eyes narrowed. He shook his head at Kat and looked to Vivienne. "They can't go alone. Kat is still recovering, she needs her rest just as much as Arey. If you are okay with this stupid little errand then Arin and I go with Deirdre."

"Hey, if you've got something to say about me do it to my face, I'm right here." Kat growled. "I'm not a fucking five year old that needs to be managed."

Tim looked at Kat. "Well neither am I and I don't think you being petty helps anything now does it. You want to talk about who was in thrall, well I only had it happen once. I fought it off the second time, he didn't have me moaning and I wasn't the one in the cab writhing around. So let's just see the end tally shall we?" He was angry at everything, Kat just happened to open her mouth. It wasn't right, it wasn't fair but it is what was happening. This is all Deirdre's fault. Tim thought angrily.

"Guys, seriously. We're going to an apartment. With the person who lives in said apartment. No B&E. There is unlikely to be any danger. I'm just going so nothing goes awry. Hell, I might even stop to get a pizza. How about you both just settle down a bit. There's no reason to snap at any one." Arin was getting a little annoyed at how difficult this seemed.

Kat's cheeked flushed red, both in anger and embarrassment. "Fine, do what you want." She said angrily as she got up from the bed and left the cloth lying on Arey's forehead. "Adults always do." She stormed past Tim and out of the room, not really sure where she was going.

The guilt hit Tim hard as Kat stormed out. "You are right Arin." His voice was low. "The situation just got the better of me. I shouldn't have snapped at her." He looked to the door where Kat had gone. He looked at Vivienne, "I was wondering...." He glanced at Arey in the bed and then Arin before he looked back to Vivienne. "Could we maybe take Deirdre someplace, set her up and just...keep her separate maybe? This whole thing is only so heated because she is insistent on leaving to check on a friend. It might be best for her not to be here while we are training. She is proving distracting."

"Can we stop giving her a reason to leave? She is training just as much as the rest of us. We're not in the middle ages anymore. Why would it be okay to train Arey but not D? Move past who you think she was and start looking at who she is." Arin rubbed his face in frustration.

Tim looked at Arin, "They are not the same and you know it. Arey is strong. I mean come on! Look at what she has been through already. Our job is to fight with her, at her side. Deirdre just makes you all act...she just is more of a hindrance than a help and you know it. She wasn't here to help when Arey laid there bleeding. Where was she? Sleeping? On the phone?"

"If we're going to solely judge on how someone deals with pressure on the first take...." Arin didn't finish. He just sighed. "Why the hell has this devolved into a fricken argument. There is nothing to discuss or debate. I've already decided."

"Will you two just stop it." Arey finally snapped, forcing herself to sit up despite the ringing that burst in her ears. "Nobody here is a hindrance, and we sure as hell aren't going to be making decisions for each other while we're not all here." Arey grabbed the side of the bed and swung out her legs so that she was in a sitting position. Her body protested at the movement, but she was beginning to feel trapped in that bed and wasn't going to stay there any longer. "If we're going to be staying here, let's get all our affairs in order and regroup, then we can talk about where to go from there."

"Arey, take it slow, okay? You don't need to be moving around too much. You need to get better before I can start hitting you with swords." Arin grinned, "But, she's right. We need to get you and D settled in here and constantly taking shots at each other isn't a good tactic to feel settled." Arin moved toward Arey and sat down next to her. "You know, you really should just rest. But I'm not telling you what to do. Do you have things you would like me to pick up while I'm out?"

"I'm not going to let some sicko with a knife dictate the rest of my day." Arey said stubbornly, though there wasn't any heat directed Arin's way. "If we go by my place, I should really be there. I didn't come back last night, and Amanda's already threatened to gut you." Arey finished, looking mildly amused. "She's rather fierce when affronted."

Tim was quiet. Arey was right. Arin was right. He was just trying to keep things in focus and it felt a lot like Deirdre was making it hard for Arin to do that. He looked at them as they sat on the bed. It seemed right but he wasn't sure if that was Ywain's memory of Arthur and Lancelot conversing, making plans as he stood by or Arey and Arin just making sense, together. His mouth was set in a line. "I'm going to shower."

He walked off to find a shower that wasn't the one in Kat's room.

Arin nodded at Tim then turned back to Arey, "Right, well, that makes a lot of sense. It might seem a little odd for some bartender to come barging in. Hmm, did you want to call Amanda and ask her to pack you something that she can drop off? We can set you up at my place? You can pretend it actually went well?" He winked.

Arey couldn't help chuckling at his self-assuredness. "Yes well, I might have already mentioned to her last night that it hadn't, but I’d be more than happy to give her a ring. I lost my mobile last night after that whole...blob incident, so I shudder to think about the amount of messages she's been leaving."

Arin winced, "Well, that might complicate things a little. I can get you a phone, but does it look better or worse to come up with my number?"

A grin spread over his face, "Though, it might help back up the story that I changed your mind with my charm."

"Oh, confident aren't you." Arey managed to laugh. "She'll be angry with me either way, but better she hear from me sooner than later. Amanda's not the type to ignore a call regardless, though knowing her I won't be hearing the end of this for a while."

Arin chuckled, "Sorry. Forgot that laughing probably isn't the best for you right now. Confidence isn't something I lack. And there's still a chance that my charm will win you over. However, I'll wait until you're feeling better." He smiled at her as he handed his phone over. "I was just looking for a way to make it easy for you to get some stuff without having to explain the crazy."

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The conversation with Amanda predictable consisted of a lot of shouting. Arey's friend had indeed not been pleased by her friend's sudden disappearance, especially after their last conversation had left her alone and upset somewhere in the city in the process of calling for a ride. "Do you have any idea the kind of whack-jobs are running around the city?! The cops won't call it, but I read the papers Arey, there's a fucking serial killer on the loose!" Amanda had growled. Arey had apologized, Amanda had huffed, but she'd agreed to pack up some of Arey's things for her. "Are you at least going to be at practice tomorrow?" Amanda had asked. "I don't know." Arey had replied honestly. "Once I've got everything figured out, I'll let you know."

"Is this about your father again? Is he trying to yank you back home for the campaign?" Amanda asked quietly. The assumption seemed from left field, though given the rocky relationship she had with the man, if was a natural conclusion. "I can't really talk about it." Arey replied quietly. "I promise we'll talk later." The conversation had ended soon after that, and Arey handed Arin back the phone with quiet thanks.

"Anytime. While Tim's getting ready I can set you up at my place. TV, computer, whatever. We'll get it so you don't have to worry about hurting yourself." Arin suggested, not patronizing. "Plus it'll give you some time to yourself to figure out your own plan how you want to deal with this going forward."

Tim showered and dressed. He was frustrated, annoyed and feeling just a little bit guilty and stupid. He came back to Kat's room bag in hand. "So I guess we need to think about arrangements for sleeping and such once everyone gets their stuff back here."

Arin and Arey were still sitting on the bed and for the first time Tim felt like there was no tension, no stress. Maybe this is how it is supposed to be. The three of us. Them making the decisions and me backing them up. He felt calmer and more centered just stepping in the room with them.

Arey still didn't feel right sitting it out on the bench so to speak, but she had to admit that she wasn't a hundred percent right now either. She didn't want to be a burden any more than she wanted to be left behind, so she figured she should just stop fighting them on this. "Fine, but come back safe and come back soon."

Arin smiled as he stood, "That's the plan."

Tim dropped his bag "I take that as we will figure all that out when we get back. Let's make this quick shall we?" He nodded at Arin. "Arey it is nice to see some color in your face again." He smiled at her and found himself staring just a little. "We will take care of everything."

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Sick son of a bitch. Detective Velazquez had hoped when they'd received the anonymous tip that it had just been a prank call, a sick inappropriate one. The body turn around was just too quick otherwise. Walking into the motel room however, there was no doubt that this was the work of their guy. They'd mobilized fast and gotten there within ten minutes of the call, but their man had already left the building, leaving a disturbing lack of DNA behind him for forensics to analyze.

"He's accelerating off his time line Dave." His partner Jerry Malone commented tiredly. They were both getting sick of finding butchered girls with no leads.

"I know." Dave said. "This is the third one this month. Same M.O., same vic type, we're going to have to call it to the press."

"Which means copycats and little busy body old lady's calling in tips on their neighbors." Jerry spat, rubbing a hand down his face.

"I know," Dave sighed. "But they need to know what's lurking out there right now, otherwise the next butchered girl's on us." From under the bed, there began a ringing sound, and snapping to attention, Dave moved toward the sound. Under the bed, was a phone, and he quickly picked it up with a gloved hand. Last time the sick bastard had left them pictured of the vic as he'd raped her as a calling card with her own phone. Was the bastard calling them now to taunt them?

"Who is this?" He asked coldly after pushing the answer button. The phone was showing the listing as unavailable, which he never took to be a good sign.

Deirdre froze at the sound of the man's voice. "H-Heather? Can I talk to Heather please?" Her voice was shaky, her hand unsteady as she tried to keep the phone to her ear. Why is a man answering her phone? The voice was cold, almost angry as it spoke. "This is Heather's number...who is this?" Her voice went soft and the knot in her stomach grew. Heather loved her phone, she was never without it, to have someone else on it felt very wrong.

At hearing the shaken female voice, Dave sighed and tried to back down his down. A friend of the vic he reasoned, dreading the rest of this conversation. "Ma'am, this is detective Velazquez of the NYPD, can I request you sit down for a moment?"

Deirdre felt the blood drain from her face. "Detective?" She slid down the wall until she was on the floor. "I-I am sitting. Where is Heather?" She choked on the words, trying not to cry. She knew. They had joked on how Heather was the killer's type that she was like the other victims. Deirdre shook her head. Can't be. She is fine, lost her phone...that's all. "Can I talk to Heather, please?"

"We haven't made any positive identification." Dave began, trying to stay optimistic for the girl without giving her false hope. "But the phone you are calling was found at a crime scene this morning."

Deirdre was shaking, fighting tears. She knew something was wrong. "Crime scene but maybe someone stole Heather's phone. Maybe...excuse me a moment." She pulled the phone from her ear and stood. She walked back into Kat's room but stopped dead at the sight of everyone. Arey was on the bed, Arin standing beside her. Tim was standing off to the side. She looked at the three and tried not to show she was upset. "Sorry." Deirdre put the phone back to her ear. "What can I do to help? Should I go see if Heather is at home? I left her last night and haven't heard from her...I called because she...I didn't know..." Her voice waivered but she tried not to let it show on her face or in her body language. They were all there, she didn't want them to know she was upset.

When Arey saw Deirdre come back into the room, Arey could tell something was wrong, despite the other woman's valiant composure. Arey wasn't sure how she knew, but she did, like some kind of deeply buried sixth sense. She watched silently as the phone conversation played out, but her concern played freely across her face.

Arin looked over at Deirdre when she walked in. His smile faded as he saw he face and heard her voice. Not a good phone call. He moved toward her. He didn't know what he was going to do but it just felt like he should be near her.

"We'll have the body to the morgue in two hours at the latest. It could prove very helpful if you could come by and preform an identification. If nothing else, to rule out your friend." He offered, hoping for the girl's sake that were true.

Body. Deirdre almost dropped the phone. She nodded though the man, the Detective couldn't see her. "I will go to the apartment first but I will be there to give you an identification. Thank you." She felt cold and detached now. Deirdre hung up the phone.

Don't cry, don't get upset. Keep it together. "I have to go to the apartment and then to the morgue." Deirdre nodded slowly and then looked at the floor. "That is if I am allowed to leave." She could sense Arin moving towards her but she couldn't look at him or any of them. If she did she was afraid she might break down and she was supposed to be strong. "May I leave please Vivienne?"

With a deep breath Deirdre looked up but brought her eyes to Kat's bed, unable to meet anyone's gaze. Strong, proud, confident. That is what they expect of you.

"Morgue...?" Arey was filled with a feeling of dread. Something had happened, she had a guess what, but her mind didn't want to confirm it.

"Of course." Vivienne replied, voice soft and perhaps the warmest they had ever been to Deirdre as she anticipated the girl's loss sadly.

"I'm going too." Arey announced as she pushed herself up, all thoughts of hiding out in Arin's apartment gone. This changed things. Deirdre needed support, the kind she had already extended to Arey on several occasions, and Arey feel a need to know what was going on, witness it firsthand. She couldn't just sit up in Arin's apartment like some tower on high and wait for everyone else to hopefully come back safely. She just couldn't.

Arin lowered his head and sighed, "Arey, I'm not going to tell you to stay. But if you come you have to promise to not try to take too much on yourself." He looked up to Deirdre, "We'll get you where you need to go. Are you okay? Or do you need time to get ready?" Arin could see she was upset and wanted to give her an out if she wanted privacy.

Deirdre didn't know what to say. She was afraid anything that came out of her voice would end with her in tears. She had to take a few slow breaths before she could find the ability to speak.

"Thank you Vivienne." Her eyes moved to Arey as she stood and Arin told her she had to promise to take it easy. Deirdre's lower lip quivered just a little. This woman who she had made remember who she was, who had gone through so much wanted to go with her. She wanted to run to her and hug her but knew it was a bad idea.

Arin's voice caught her attention as she realized he was no longer talking to Arey. Her head turned to find herself looking into his eyes. She shook her head slowly, blue eyes filling slightly with unshed tears. "We should go. I am al-alright." Between Arey and Arin she was having a hard time holding it all in and keeping Guinevere pushed to the back of her mind. Can't be weak right now.

Tim felt like a heel. He looked to his feet as Deirdre tried to hold back her tears and not get upset. She had said morgue and he knew what that meant. He felt even worse for trying to stop her from going. Worse, she didn't even know that he had spoken out against her.

Arin nodded at Deirdre's determination, "Alright. I need to get some things. We know there are fae out there that are noticing us. We should all get something iron as it's easier to carry unnoticed. However, Mordred is human, by the sounds of it. An iron rod will still hurt, but I'd rather have something that might keep him away. I won't give you real weapons yet, sorry. You need to be taught to use them. Until then they are just as dangerous to you as to your opponents. Mom, do you have anything to help Arey manage any pain?"

Tim looked at Arin. "I'll help you gather some stuff up. Maybe give Arey a moment with Vivienne." He looked at Deirdre unsure of what to do. He moved to the door.

"Sure thing. And Kat will kill us if we all go without her." Arin gave Deirdre a sympathetic look, "I'll be right back." He left the room, headed toward his training room.

Tim followed, head down unsure how he was going to find a way to apologize to Kat. He sighed. Big mouth. You have a big mouth...

Deirdre stood there, unmoving. She couldn't, not yet. Arin's look of sympathy tugged at her and she had to bite her lip to stop herself from crying. Her hands gripped her jeans to stop herself from reaching out to him as he left. She had no right to do that and he might think it was Guin, not her. Her breathing was slow and deep.

"I'm ok, really." Arey tried to placate, uncomfortable with some many people looking at her like she was fragile.

"You are not." Vivienne replied. "But you are also strong...both of you." Vivienne said the last part almost reluctantly, but fae cannot speak untruths, which was somewhat encouraging.

"If you don't mind my asking, are there any clothes we could change into?" Arey asked. Half her shirt was already ripped open and covered in blood, which was probably not the best way to enter a morgue and meet police officers.

"Of course, I'll bring you both something." Vivienne said quietly, slipping out to acquire some appropriate clothing.

Deirdre remained where she had been since she stepped into the room. Arey and Vivienne were speaking but Deirdre felt like she was somewhere else. Heather can't be dead. She can't. It isn't her. Her gut told her differently. She tried to slip her phone into her pocket, only to drop it on the floor. She stared down at it. "Oh."

She looked up and slowly realized she was alone with Arey. 'I can leave if you want."

"No, it's fine." Arey said gently bending down to pick up the phone and handing it back to Deirdre. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Deirdre took the phone. "No, no that's okay. I'm not supposed to...I mean I shouldn't talk to you a whole lot. It will just cause issues because of you know..." She bit her lip. "She is just my roommate and my only friend and now she is..."

Deirdre shook her head and looked down, her hands covering her face. Stop it. Stop crying Tears wet her palms and she tried to keep them silent.

"Hey, we don't know anything for sure right?" Arey tried to comfort, pulling Deirdre into a careful hug. The contact brought with it stirrings of emotion, but it was getting easier to separate herself out from it, especially the more she got to know D. "I'm sorry I kind of freaked out on you last night. This is all just going to take some adjusting." Arey tried to apologize. "And I don't care what they said alright. If you want to talk to me then you can do it. They don't get to choose who I'm friends with."

Deirdre put her head on Arey's shoulder, the hug was soothing. "It is her. She is the killer's type. Blonde...blue eyed...out on her own..." Her shoulders shook a little as she tried to stop the tears. She pulled back a little, afraid to her hurt Arey by getting to close to the wound on her stomach. "You don't have to apologize. I did that to you. I am the one who owes you the apology for forcing that on you but they didn't tell you anything and she…Guinevere kind of stood up when they didn't."

Deirdre wiped at her eyes. 'Please don't tell them I cried. They already...well not all of them but still I am already not off to a great start here and I am supposed to be strong to show Vivienne and Tim. I don't want them to know. You shouldn't be my friend." She gave a slight shrug and felt exhausted. She knew the worst was yet to come still. There was the apartment, Heather's empty room and then her body in the morgue. You need to be ready. You need to get it together.

"I was in denial and being a stubborn arse." Arey said flatly. "I've been having strange dreams for months, random out of context daydreams, and had a hallucination in a bathroom that made me practically jump your bones. I didn't want to believe there was something happening to me, so I pretended it wasn't. You just gave me a necessary reality check." Arey argued back.

"I won't if you don't tell Arin I said he was right." Arey replied, trying to manage a grin. "I won't force my friendship on you if it's not something you want, but you're wrong. You seem like an excellent friend and I'd be a sodding prat if I didn't want to be your friend."

Deirdre managed a small smile. "What was Arin right about?"

Her smiled dropped away, "I would like to be your friend but given...given the past there are things that will be difficult. You should know to that I won't be trying to get between you and Arin."

She didn’t' know how to explain and if Arey was anyone else she wouldn't bother but something told her that 'Arthur' would understand. "You two have a connection, I have a mistake to fix. Arin says it was Lancelot's but we know the truth. He likes you, Arin that is. I know that so don't worry. As for us, the whole um...kiss and what not..." She blushed profusely though she still frowned. "Friendship with me might not be easy and you have enough on your plate. Even now it's hard to hold her back. No one would believe me if I tried to explain how she felt about either of them...I will take your friendship but I also won't begrudge you for not giving it."

"Please don't say that." Arey nearly pleaded. "Look, I'm British, I know all the stories about Camelot and the grail and all that nonsense, we're spoon fed it as children over there. What happened between the three of us then was a tragedy, and Arthur wasn't blameless either ok. Whoever we were back then, we were products of our time, and he...let’s just say the not seeing things we don't want to acknowledge thing is a commonality so far." Arey wasn't really sure how to explain this, but it was a feeling she'd always had about Arthur when she was forced to read about the legendary king when she was in school.

"The only mistake we have to worry about correcting this time around is not being honest with each other. We get so worried about preserving each other’s feelings, that we start doing more damage in the process." Arey insisted. "I don't even know where to begin about where Arin and I stand right now, but we barely know each other, and we all have a connection here, not just the two of us. For now, let’s just worry about figuring out who we think we are now, and then we can work on the more complicated stuff."

Deirdre smiled weakly, "You are taking this whole thing pretty well. You are smart, but I am not surprised." She shuffled her feet a little. "The guilt is terrible but deserved considering. Thank you Arey." She gave the blonde a hug. "I don't want to go to the morgue alone."

Deirdre's phone buzzed and she hugged Arey tighter. She dreaded it but knew it was coming, it would be from her parents. Once the most recent murder hit the news they would be texting her. She was just glad they didn't know that much about her roommate. "I'm sorry for crying all over you. I should answer this." Deirdre reluctantly stepped back. In her head Guin was upset for letting go but Deirdre needed to be herself in that moment. She looked at her phone. Princess call us please? We are very, very worried about you. We are thinking of coming to visit, maybe bring you home for a bit. All this talk of a killer in the city. We think it best for you to come home where we can look after you.

Deirdre turned and whipped her phone into the hallway. Tim ducked, the phone narrowly missing his head as it hit the wall behind him. "Whoa! What the hell? I know I haven't been your greatest supporter and I said we should keep you away but you don't have to throw stuff at me, you could have yelled like Kat."

Deirdre looked at Tim. "You said what?" Her voice was low. It was hard to tell if she was angry or upset.

Tim stuttered, "Oh, I-uh-"

Deirdre looked at Arey. "Is that why you are being so nice? Are you all planning to get rid of me? I don't understand."

"What? No!" Arey replied immediately. "No one's making decisions about anyone or anything until we get our ducks in a row and we all get a chance to catch up with what’s happening and just talk."

Tim flinched, "No it was me. I thought well I thought if we sort of kept you away that it would be easier for Arin and Arey, you know a strong connection with no trouble and you seem so fragile and sensitive that it makes things strained. Even Arin pointed out that Kat has experience and Arey is an athlete so she is strong. I just know..." He stopped, knowing as the words left his mouth that not only was he not explaining it well that he was making it worse.

"Look, Tim..." Arey said trying to fight down the anger that those words inspired. "I get that you are just trying to help, that you want us to all be safe somehow as we go along merrily fighting monsters, but no one here is fragile, and everyone here is important. Everyone, so we’re are not separating, and we are going to start acting like a team." Her voice was level and shook with borrowed authority, making her demand very very clear.

"And I am doing it wrong and putting my foot in my mouth. I know...." Tim sighed. "Just going to shut up now. Here." He held out the things Arin had given him. The tone of Arey's voice made him feel worse about what he had said, as if that was possible. "I am sorry I just thought.." Tim let it go. He was wrong and he knew it.

Deirdre didn't know what to say. They had been talking about her. Tim thought her weak, Vivienne didn't like her and even Arin didn't see a strength in her. He had told her to be strong but he didn't think it was there. "I just need to go to my apartment and then to the morgue. I didn't want to cause this."

She looked at Arey, there was hurt in her eyes and it just added itself to the pain she was already feeling. "A team." She nodded slowly. It was hard to hide how upset she was now. It was borderline overwhelming. Don't give them more reasons to doubt you.

"Yes, a team." Arey said firmly. "And teams support each other and help one another to improve. The only bad team mate is the one that gives up on one another, or stops caring, and that's none of us here ok." Arey said looking at both Deirdre and Tim.

Tim hated himself. He wasn't trying to give up on D, he was trying to do what was best for the majority and she didn't seem like the best. He lowered his eyes to the floor and resisted the urge to kneel and ask for forgiveness from his king. "It won't happen again."

"Look, none of us are coming in here with a game plan ok, you were just trying to do your best." Arey tried to comfort, not feeling good about making anyone feel bad about themselves, and she layed an hand comfortingly on his shoulder. "We just have to start thinking about this whole thing differently ok?"

Tim nodded and looked at Arey. "I know, Arin said the same thing. I just thought she was mad at me..." He looked at Deirdre. "I am sorry. I am letting the past cloud my decisions. I thought that if I could negate the issues ahead of time that it would be better."

Deirdre's eyes hardened. "Yet you yelled at me for doing the same thing. So it is only bad when I do it. I understand. You clearly have a better handle on things."

Arin stepped quickly into the room, without taking note of anything, "So, Kat's got a head start on us it seems. Hopefully she'll let me know where we can meet her, but we ought to get moving...." He paused when he saw the hard stares. "Ooookay. So... how are you all doing now?"

Tim grabbed a few small items, as well as a rod similar to what Kat carried. "Ready to go." He walked out of the room.

Deirdre looked down. "Waiting on clothes for Arey. Vivienne has them and then we can go." She picked up a random item and shoved it in her pocket, not looking at Arin as she passed him. In the hall she picked up her phone and pushed it into the other pocket of her jeans.

"They're here." Vivienne replied smoothly as she sauntered in with the clothing, a pair of lightly used jeans and a blue top that matched her eyes. "Thanks Arey mumbled awkwardly as she accepted the clothes. She looked toward the bathroom, but hesitated to go there to change and leave such tension hanging in the air.

"And that's my cue. We'll be in the hall when you're ready." Arin stepped out to join Deirdre and Tim, closing the door behind him.

Arey changed as quickly as possibly, trying to avoid touching the wound, which still seemed to pulse with mal intent. She didn't like the idea of this Mordred person having some kind of connection to her, but for now they had more important things to worry about. Once she was finished, Arey stepped back into the hall. "Ok, ready."

"I'll attempt to locate Katrina with a scrying spell whilst you're out. I'll let you know once I've managed to pin down her location." Vivienne supplied.

Deirdre stood in the hall, away from Tim and away from Arin when he joined them. Her eyes were on her feet as she struggled with her feelings, her concerns and everything that Tim had said. Arey had made things slightly better but in the end knowing what she did now was upsetting.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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Footnotes

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INK

"How pissed is Kat do you think?" Tim asked as he followed Arin.

"Pretty annoyed, no doubt. I appreciate that you're trying to keep people safe but being the over protective brother type doesn't play well with any of the women here. If you hadn't noticed." Arin grinned at Tim. "Thing is, we're all going to have to pull our weight and no one is to be treated like a wilting flower. You think I think it's the best idea Arey's coming with us? But she's a high level athlete. I'm sure she knows her limits better than I do. I don't get to make the decision for her. Kat's been doing this a long time too. You can trust her, to a degree." He chuckled.

"Not a big brother but charming lover seems to go well...." Tim muttered under his breath. "I just didn't think it was a good idea for Kat to be thinking about going out there with D. The two of them aren't enough to take on things, hell we might all not be enough right now. Arey's an athlete huh? Explains a lot, like her thigh muscles..." Tim shook his head, cheeks reddening a little.

"See, now who's thinking like a lover?" Arin raised an eyebrow at Tim.

"Sure, maybe Kat and D taking on one of those incubui isn't a good picture. But how about this one? Kat and D, small and nimble, stay out of sight easier than you and I? There are always multiple solutions to any given problem. Don't box your thinking in. You'll notice that will apply to my training as well, so consider this an early lesson." Arin gathered various items from around the training room. Handing a few to Tim. Finally he pulled a sheathed knife from a drawer and belted it behind his back, on an angle, such that his leather jacket hid it quite well.

Tim took the things Arin handed him. "Okay sure but I notice you only pointed out how strong Arey is and how long Kat has been doing this. You know it too, don't you? D is the weak link and she is making things dangerous. I mean she says she has to go and everyone ends up at each other's throats. Come on man, she is pretty but she is trouble."

"I didn't speak for D because I don't know her well enough to know her strengths, or weaknesses. It isn't her fault that the lot of you can't just understand that she might need to do a few things in the 'real' world before staying with us. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it wasn't in her short term plans to have her life thrown for complete loop. Now, it sounds like her friend is dead. And you still want to go after her for being a weak link?" Arin shook his head. He had heard enough about Deirdre's apparent uselessness. "I'm done with this topic, alright? You are not going to convince me because you have no data to back your claim. You know just as much as I do about her."

Tim gritted his teeth. "Hey I feel bad because of what might have happened to her friend but none of us asked for this and yet we are doing what needs to get done. What has she done but make everyone fight? She wasn't wrong man, Vivienne hates her, hates Guinevere. You weren't here when we arrived. Trust me on this one. It was very clear that Guinevere is the last person Vivienne wanted to see in all this. I am just trying to keep things a little less dramatic. You can't tell me it is easy, flirting with Arey with Deirdre around. I know what I see and I see trouble coming."

"Right. Less dramatic. I can see it." Arin huffed. "I said I was done. I continue to be done. And I will remain being done until there's something factual to say." Finished with the knife, Arin headed back toward the main room. "I'm going to check Kat's office. See if that's where she's hiding out."

Tim shook his head. "Fine." God damn it we are starting out just like we did then...he doesn't want to listen to reason when it comes to women and that one will be nothing but trouble for him. He stomped back towards Kat's room.

Arin hoped Tim would start to form his opinions on what was actually happening, rather than letting some preconceived sense of things cloud it. He would need Tim to be clear headed if he had any hope of getting him into peak shape. Arin was trying very hard to not let Lancelot's feelings affect how he treated Deirdre. Arey was different. It was easier to know that he was talking to her and not Arthur, but with Deirdre he had to examine everything he did or said to be sure. He felt horrible not being able to comfort Deirdre when she so clearly needed it, but that was definitely something he couldn't be sure would be understood by any of them. Arin knew that every action he took toward Deirdre was going to be over analyzed, but he felt Tim was looking for something that hasn't even happened yet.

Arin approached Kat's computer room, calling out gently, "Kat? You there?"

"Oh dear umm, Master Arin." Theo scurried out of the room looking rather flustered and upset. "I tried to stop her Sir, truly I did. She seemed rather upset, wouldn't listen to reason." Theo tried explaining as he began wringing his hands.

"Dammit Kat. I almost had it all in line too. It was going to be an easy run out and back." Arin cursed. "She took off on her own, didn't she? Did she look up an address? Did you catch where she was headed?"

"No Sir, she just grabbed her phone and jacket and then left." Theo explained. "You don't think she's planning on doing something unwise again do you Sir? I had so hoped those days were behind her." He said like an exasperated nurse maid.

"Those days? What, yesterday? This is Kat. Unwise might be overstating, but rash and lack of forethought do come to mind quickly." Arin grabbed his phone and dialed Kat's number. "Hopefully she's not so stubborn to not answer."

Arin let the phone ring for some time before giving up. "Shit. Stubborn little...." He didn't finish mumbling, instead he composed a text, hoping that it would be enough to get her to wait, at least.

"Kat, Deirdre got some bad news. Now we're all going out. I came to get you too, but it looks like you have a head start. Care to meet up someplace?" he hit send and hoped for a reply.

"Thanks Theo. I'll let the others know and we'll try and track her down." He turned and headed back to Kat's room.
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Deirdre didn't look up as Arey joined them in the hall. Tim was ready and headed down the hall. "How are we getting there?" He looked over at Arey, deferring to her for orders. The way she had spoken in Kat's room had left him feeling more confident in her.

"Unless you have a car Arin, I think we'll need to take a cab. I don't think four of us will fit on your bike." Arey suggested, standing next to Deirdre.

Arin chuckled, "Not likely, no. I don't have a car. It's the bike or subway when there's too much snow. Kat talks about getting one. But that's not super helpful right now, is it? So, D, how far's your place and is it near a subway? Or, we can cab it."

Deirdre didn't look up at Arin. "Yes it is near a subway but cab is faster on a Sunday. I am not that far. Off campus...."

"Take the Mariner." Vivienne offered, tossing Arin the keys to her Mercury. "Not a scratch." She warned lightly before heading back toward the main chamber to begin scrying. It was best they had a more flexible mode of transportation she reasoned.

"Well...I can't legally drive here so...Arin? Tim? Deirdre? Who drives?" She asked awkwardly.

Tim held up a hand. "I can drive. If it makes it easier."

Deirdre shrunk more into herself. "I can but not sure I should."

"No, its fine D. Tim can take it. That way Viv will kill him and not me." Arin grinned at Tim. "I need to be able to answer my phone if Kat or Viv call. Arey, the front seat might be easier for you to get in and out of currently. D, mind sitting in the back with me?"

Deirdre looked at Arey. "That is fine as long as Arey is alright with it." Her voice was low. It was hard knowing Tim and Arin had thought so little of her.

"Yes, that's perfectly alright, I'm not the seating arrangement police." Arey said with a small smile shot Deirdre's way, hoping to raise her spirits.

Tim inhaled slowly, "Now that that is settled can we go?" He was uncomfortable.

"Easy to settle things when we're on the same page." Arin tossed the keys to Tim. "Move 'em out. This way folks." Arin lead the way to Vivienne's car. He opened the passenger doors for Arey and Deirdre and waited for them to get in.

Tim got into the driver’s seat. He adjusted the mirrors, his seat and put the key in the ignition.

Deirdre slipped into the backseat and pulled her seatbelt on. She tucked herself far into the side. "Tim, please when you pull out you want to head back towards campus and you are going to take Gateway to Rothdale."

Arin climbed in next to Deirdre, "Off campus. Are you studying at the uni?"

Deirdre nodded. "Yes, I am a bit behind though. I was at the school of dance."

"Cool. You can help me critique the foot work then. You will likely be a natural. I'll show you the techniques, but you'll find them quite familiar." Arin smiled at her. It was going to be good to have people who should be easy to coach to start his teaching with.

"I can't help you do anything. I know...sure..." Arey said they had to be a team. She would do what she could but it didn't take the sting off knowing Arin found her weak. "Whatever you need me to help with."

"D, I can't imagine the stress you've got going on right now. I'm sorry, I was just trying to distract, get your mind off." Arin tried to think of something else to get Deirdre's spirits up.

"No it is fine. Now is not the time to think about myself. I will help you with whatever you need. We have to be a team. For Arey." Deirdre glanced up at Arin.

"Wait. What happened to Deirdre who wants to do things for herself? I agree, a team would be good. But not for Arey. I'm sure Arey doesn't want a bunch of yes men around her. You should want to be a team because you believe it's a good idea." Arin was confused. It seemed Deirdre had regressed. He knew she wouldn't be quite herself, being worried about her friend, but this was a bit more than expected.

"She was told that she needed to be part of the team, that she didn't have strengths like everyone else. That there was talk of getting rid of her even when she just got used to the idea of being useful." She shrugged. "I get it. I just appreciate you all going with me. I don't know what I am going to find." Deirdre sighed.

Tim tried to shrink down in the front seat. "Arey you comfy?" He looked over hoping to change the subject.

"I'm fine thanks." She replied, trying to stay out of Arin and Deirdre's conversation. They needed to be able to get to know each other too, they all did. That way the tension might lesson and they could all move forward with their lives. "Do you go to uni too?" Arey asked Tim, trying to be conversational.

Arin gave Tim a hard stare while replying to Deirdre, "Some person has been voicing thoughts that may not be fully informed yet. It happens. People are under stress. A lot of things have suddenly shifted under you three. Questions and doubts are natural. However, those ideas were not considered past refuting them. As a matter of fact, I think my first set of students is starting off well enough. I'm ahead of the game. Arey is an athlete. You're a dancer, Tim seems capable of figuring things out quickly. Must be smarter than he seems sometimes, given he's lawyer. I'm making my mental list of how strong you guys will be, but fact is, I've yet to see anything that indicates there is a show stopper weakness."

Tim drove off, "I study law. I work for a law firm as well." He focused on the road. "I hear you are an athlete. I played hockey. You?"

Deirdre actually smiled a little at Arin. "I heard you didn't think I had a strength. I guess I have to prove you wrong." He had a way of making her feel better, more balanced.

"That message has been slightly misstated. My words were, I don't know her well enough to know her strengths or weaknesses. I hope to get to know her better. However, I fully welcome the drive to prove anyone who thinks you have no strengths, wrong. Especially if it was me." Arin smiled back at Deirdre again.

"And good to hear you are also an athlete Tim. You guys are going to make my job so easy." Arin turned to catch Tim's eyes in the rear view mirror, "I'm still going to hit you with swords. A lot."

Tim nodded, "And I deserve it."

Deirdre smiled and actually giggled a little. The thought of Tim getting hit with a sword was a nice thought. "Can I hit him too?" She leaned over and whispered it to Arin.

Tim frowned. 'I can hear you." He looked over at Arey, "So athlete, what sport?"

"Football." Arey replied smiling, glad the mood had lightened a bit. "I'll have to get used to using my hands it seems. At least with hockey you already know how to use a stick."

Arin loud whispered back to Deirdre, "There's your real incentive to learning. You don't have to prove anything."

"Football like soccer right? You're a Brit so you don't mean our football, big men whacking into each other. I also haven't played in a while. Car accident."

"God no. Nothing but a bunch of men tackling each other to the dirt. Not that hockey's much better in that regard, but at least there's some real skill involved there." Arey teased lightly. "I'm sorry to hear that. You seemed...uhm really really fit this morning." Arey said with her face turning red, remembering Tim straddling her legs while practically naked. He really did have a nice...chest...

"Hey now! Hockey is way better than football. Course rugby, now that is rough sport." He chuckled. "Fit? Oh um..." Tim turned equally red as he recalled straddling her legs and holding her down.

He cleared his throat. "I worked hard to be able to walk again. I try and keep in shape." He grew warmer and redder. "You are quite fit as well." He smiled at her.

"Well you are quite successful." Arey replied are her ears turned scarlet. "Product of the running regiment I guess."

Deirdre frowned a little as Arey and Tim flirted. She glanced at Arin, concerned on how he might be taking it. "You are really going to teach me to fight?"

Tim smiled, "Running? We should run. And work out, you know if you are interested. I would love a running partner." He was still blushing.

Arin couldn't quite decide how he felt about Tim and Arey flirting. He wanted to call Tim on it, but he had no place to do it. The only real reason he could was because Tim made such a big deal of his flirting earlier. Yet, sitting next to Deirdre he didn't quite feel like he should make a deal of any of it. "Damn right I'm going to. As I mentioned to Tim earlier, there are no wilting flowers in this group. None of you is made of glass and you should all be able to take care of yourself. You think you'd rather have Tim always hanging out, 'protecting' you from the big bads?"

"I'd rather have you protecting me." She looked down. "I would like to know how to defend myself." Arin mention Tim and Deirdre looked up. Was he jealous? Was he annoyed?

"Sure, I don't mind protecting you. I know just how to do that." He grinned at her. "By teaching you to defend yourself."

"Besides, nothing wrong with a couple women handling my swords." He winked. "Sorry, crude. But really, I had to say it."

Deirdre's eyes went wide and she stammered. One hand went to her mouth, to cover her noise of surprise. "Its okay." No one joked with her like that.

"I'm surprised you've gone this long." Arey teased back good naturedly, having gotten somewhat used to Arin's style of humor.

"Yeah. It was especially hard when you mentioned getting better with your hands. But I'm only human. I can't hold out forever." Arin chuckled.

And just like that the flirting and teasing altered to Arin and Arey. Deirdre sat back and looked out the window.

Tim chuckled. "How much further D?"

"Apartment on the right. Just pull over and I will go in." Deirdre undid her seat belt as Tim parked the car.

"I'll come with, if you don't mind. I'll just hang out at the door. Just... cautious. Maybe too much, but sue me. Wait.. Tim, ignore that." Arin said releasing his seat belt and opening the door.

Deirdre didn't argue as she got out of the car. "Are you sure you don't want to stay with Arey and Tim? Just in case? It is just my apartment." She walked to the front door and let herself in. She glanced over her shoulder in case Arin decided to follow.

Tim shifted to look at Arey. "When did you move here?"

"Tim, lock the door, be ready to move if you need to. I don't want anyone tracking back to this address and waiting. There was a phone, there might have been more identifying items. I really think I'm over reacting but we need to be prepared for anything." Arin stepped out of the car and followed Deirdre. He reached behind him and release the loop on the knife that kept it in the sheath.

"A couple months ago." Arey replied as she watched Arin and Deirdre leave. "Ambrose offered a full ride, and being as far away from home as possible seemed a very appealing option at the time."

Tim nodded, "Nice, full ride is a sweet deal. You like it here? Sounds like you like it better than home at least."

"Usually yes. I miss London sometimes, but not home." Arey replied, not sure why she bothered to make the distinction, since it was fairly meaningless without knowing her family.

"Hmm, gotcha. Is London nice? I have never been out of the states. Gone all over with hockey but never overseas. Would have had a chance at a lot of things if I hadn't...well car accidents have a way of messing things up. You told D you are studying law or medicine? Go law, we need more cute women." Tim smiled and felt his cheeks redden once again.

"Well if all the men in your profession look like you I'll never get anything done. Be too distracted all the time. Besides, I hear office romances never end well. Better go medicine if that's the case." Arey replied with a smile as her cheeks heated up again.

Tim looked down a little. "Well only thing hotter than a lawyer is a doctor so maybe medicine would mean I could flirt with you."

"I think we've already hit that particular milestone." Arey joked. "Here's to hoping you finish becoming a hot lawyer, and I bloody well make up my mind." She said smiling.

"Or we settle for an office tryst. Or just you know...flirt more now." Tim looked pained. "Though I guess I should lay off eh? I mean Arin and all, not really in the guy's code to hit on another guy's girl. In my defense you are really pretty, hard not to."

"You never came off as the kinky type, but good to know I guess." Arey laughed at the visual. As Tim mentioned Arin though her good mood died down a bit. "I'm not his girl." Arey said flatly. "I think we're just working our way to friends. The only reason he even asked me out was from a case of mistaken identity, which kind of kills the mood there you know." She said looking away. "I don't know what to feel or how to feel about anything lately, but I'm single and I'm not going to apologize for flirting."

Tim put a hand on Arey's hand, "Hey, Arin thought you were beautiful. He told Kat and I that. But if you aren't taken I don't mind being the object of some of that flirting as long as you don't mind me flirting back. Also, we run together. Agreed? I promise not to stick my foot in my mouth so much."

"I suppose we do need to work on that with you a bit." Arey smiled playfully. "Running partners it is then. Hope you can keep up." She grinned.

"Oh I can keep up. Don't you worry Arey. And I can't wait to go on our first run. You all to myself, I like it." Tim smiled. "So you ready for sword fighting?"

"We'll I'll hold you to that then." Arey grinned. Flirting with Tim somehow made her feel lighter. With Arin everything was so intense and always seemed to move too quickly. With Tim she felt like herself, no pressure, no predetermined outcomes, just two people who found each other attractive enjoying each other’s company. And Tim was cute, a different kind of attractiveness to Arin's, but so far she liked him. She hoped they would be good friends too.

"Sounds like it will be entertaining to say the least. I'll try to have your back when Arin begins abusing you too much." Arey joked.

Tim groaned, "In this life and the last he enjoys the idea of hitting me way too much. I bet you can kick his ass. And I look forward to sparring with you too. Hey Arey, before all this jumble what did you do for fun?"

"Football mostly." Arey admitted. She didn't really consider herself to be all that interesting to be honest, but she'd spent so much of her life trying to make her mother happy, and then the unbelievable complicated nature of her relationship with her father had left her with a more internalizing nature. "I play piano sometimes, but I wouldn't say I was particularly good. I was starting to get into hiking when I came here. I liked the mountains." She replied.

"What about you? Spend all your time reading dusty law books?" She asked with a smile.

"I would love to see you play sometime. Piano? Oh man, I don't know anything about music. Hiking I know. Only thing I do to relax, takes my mind off all the things I hear in the office. I work with lower income families. Everything revolves around books, statements and homework. This whole thing is kind of a nice break." Tim chuckled a little. "We should tackle some trails too. Ever trying mountain climbing?"

"No. I've heard it's pretty intense though. Take a lot of upper body strength and a good grip." Arey replied. "We'll have to give it a try sometime."

Tim nodded, "You bet. I looked forward to climbing up behind you." He smiled at Arey.

“Or the reverse. We'll have to play that rock paper scissors game to figure out who gets the prime view." Arey teased.

"Oh you are on." Tim smiled and looked over. "Here they come."

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"Let's go D. But, when we get to your door, let me open it, okay?"

Deirdre frowned, "Do you really think it could be dangerous?"

"Here's the thing. I don't want to worry you too much, but... I want to be prepared for anything. Your friend's phone was found. What about other identifiers? This might not be the most secret address currently." He tried to deliver it as kindly as he could but he needed her prepared as well and there was no way to pussy foot around this.

She nodded. "Okay." Deirdre stepped behind Arin. She pointed to her door and handed him her key. She put her hands on his back and then pulled them away. "Sorry."

"Why? It's fine. Let's me know where you are. Keeps me from putting you in the line of fire, so to speak." Arin walked to the door and tried the knob without the key first.

Deirdre put her hands back on Arin's back. The leather jacket was cold under her hands. She stepped in close to him. "There are two others who live here." She whispered.

Arin stopped and looked at her, "Geeze. Damn good thing you told me that now. Who are they? Should I expect them home now?"

Deirdre shrugged, "Sunday, they are all probably sleeping." She grabbed his hand. "Come on." She unlocked the door and tiptoed in. There was no sound. "Hangover likely." Deirdre pulled Arin into the apartment and closed the door. "My room is down here."

"D? Is that you? You and Heather stayed out late." A woman in shorts and a t-shirt appeared in the hall rubbing her eyes. "Oh, oh well...." She started laughing. "Princess brought home a guy!"

Deirdre cringed. "No I-I"

"I'm Jeannie. D is one of my roommates and you are?" She held a hand out to Arin.

Deirdre looked at Arin.

Arin stepped up and grasped her hand, "Hello Jeannie. Don't be too hard on Deirdre. It was quite a chore she had keeping all the interest down. I just happened to stick around long enough to impress." He grinned.

Jeannie looked at Deirdre and then back to Arin, "You are kidding me right? I've seen her try and flirt. What did she do, put her leg around her neck or something? I heard lots of guys fall for that yoga, flexibility bull." She crossed her arms and smirked.

Deirdre looked at the floor. This is ridiculous. "Hey have you seen Heather?"

"Now, now. Don't be jealous of Deirdre's ability to charm. Check outside. She's got a hockey player driving her around and the hot bartender helping her gather some things. Too bad, we might have asked you to come along, but I kinda don't like your attitude." Arin leaned casually against the wall, eyeing Jeannie.

Jeannie laughed, "Well good news for me since I don't do men babe. Cocky bastard. I like it. D, you are totally in over your head but he seems like he'll have you panting so that is a bonus. Heather? Nah she went with you and haven't seen her since."

Deirdre looked like a deer caught in headlights. "Right...I...so my room is this way." She bolted down the hall towards her room. Jeannie licked her lips. "Hey, I gotta know someday if she really is as flexible as I imagine. She seems like she'd be wild."

"Go see her in a show then." Arin followed Deirdre into her room. "Odd roommate. She seemed a little aggressive for someone you live with."

Deirdre closed her door. "I didn't get a choice. I moved in and she was already here. I'm so, so sorry for that." She grabbed a bag and began tossing clothes, toiletries, her phone charger and laptop into it. Deirdre paused, her hands on her pointe shoes. She picked them up and then put them down once more.

"No apologies required. It was kinda fun." He watched her try to decide on her shoes, "Bring them. You will miss the chance to use them if you don't. There's no need to completely drop something you like."

Deirdre paused and looked at Arin. "I don't know. Seems personal so not really a team player." She picked them up again.

"Right, because my bike is certainly built for team work. C'mon, you just made a big deal last night about finding yourself. Don't give up what you like now because you feel like there's something you should be doing. Kind of what you hated before, right?"

Deirdre nodded. "But Tim...no, you are right." She tucked the shoes into the bag and then grabbed a couple of pairs of tights and bodysuits. She double checked that she had everything. "I am ready Arin. Thank you..." She moved towards him. "So this is my room, guess it is only fair since I saw yours." Her voice was low.

"Right. It's nice. I'm sorry I didn't get to give you the personal tour." He watched her move toward him. He felt like he should turn to leave, but something was rooting him to the spot. Something in her voice.

"We should go...they are waiting and I have to go to the" She paused. "I have to go to the morgue." She didn't want to leave. The room was small and intimate. Deirdre swallowed hard. "Not much to show you here. Dresser, closet, bed."

"Uh, right... Sorry." Arin shook his head. He glanced over at the bed and the image of her flexibility jumped into his head. "Oh... D..." He rubbed his head, "Too many thoughts in my head right now."

"What?" Deirdre tried to breathe and found it difficult. "Not you, its okay, I understand." Her voice was soft still but slightly sad. "Door is maybe a good idea...."

"No D. It's a lot me at the moment. But really inappropriate timing." Arin forced himself to turn toward the door. "We can talk more when things settle down, right?"

"You? Yes...yes we can talk." She was surprised and she could feel her cheeks flush.

Jeannie was waiting for them outside the door, trying to listen. "That was quick. Sorry D, guess wild in looks but not in the sack."

Arin chuckled, "Keep trying Jeannie. You'll find I'm more of a gentleman. You're showing a lot of interest in me for someone not into men. Better to leave me out of your games you're trying to play with D."

Jeannie chuckled. 'Look I was just hoping you'd be so bad she come running to me to finish the job but hey, guess not."

Deirdre grabbed Arin's arm. Jeannie smiled. "Aww aren't you sweet."

Deirdre moved her hand, giving Arin an apologetic look. "We have to go."

Arin grabbed Deirdre around the waist and kissed her deep. It was quick, but intense and he looked up at Jeannie when he broke it, "Sorry. She won't be running to you anytime soon."

Jeannie's eyebrows raised. "Well now...hot."

Deirdre stood there stunned. Her only kiss had been with Arey. This was just as intense but on a different level. He kissed me. She couldn't say anything.

"Have fun you two." Jeannie went back to her room. "Well I know what I will be thinking about...."

Arin watched her leave, then looked back at Deirdre, "Sorry, but she was really getting on my nerves." He paused, "And, really, I didn't need that much of an excuse." He let go of her waist, slowly and reluctantly.

"It is okay. I think...I mean I know I didn't mind but..." Deirdre was unnerved. "I've never been kissed before, by a guy, that was....never mind. Let's go." She couldn't move yet and hoped that Arin would lead the way.

"That's almost criminal. Keeping something like that to yourself for so long." He grinned. "Yeah, let's go because I really think I am having a hard time not doing it again." He started toward the door.

He wanted to do it again and that made Deirdre smile as she followed him out of the apartment. She put her bag on her shoulder and tried to keep the kiss in mind instead of thinking about the next stop.
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"You alright?" Arey questioned Deirdre gently as they re-entered the car. She looked a little flushed and shaken, and Arey hoped it wasn't more bad news for her.

"What? I um..." She looked at Arey as she settled in. "Yes right, I am fine. Heather isn't here, hasn't been here. Jeannie, one of my other roommates was teasing me and bothering Arin, he well, he put a stop to it." Deirdre smiled a little.

Tim started the car, "What he'd do flirt with her?" He drove off.

"No Tim. I'll leave that up to you from now on. I just showed her it would be better to leave the room and stop trying so hard." Arin retorted.

"How'd you manage that?" Arey teased. "Pull out one of your toys? You can be pretty intimidating with those when you try."

Tim laughed.

Deirdre looked at Arin but didn't know what to say. She hesitantly placed her hand on his.

"Intimidation was not required." Arin didn't quite understand why the jibes were not sitting well with him. He should have been able to return them lightly. He didn't think he should make a big deal of kissing Deirdre though and he really didn't want to embarrass her.

Deirdre inhaled slowly. She remembered something that Arey had said. "He kissed me and it shut her up. It was a good laugh on her."

She pulled her hand very slowly away from Arin's and looked out the window. It was all good for a laugh for them and better to have it out in the open.

Arey blinked. "Oh..." She wasn't really sure what to say to that, or how to feel, but the emotions were mixed. "Whatever works I suppose." She said forcing a smile, trying not to think about it too much. Arin certainly works fast... A stray rebellious thought bit out unkindly, but she didn't voice that thought. She's said it herself, she wasn't his girl, and she had no right to feel even mildly jealous. Despite what Tim had said, her date with Arin had been a case of mistaken identity. He'd only asked her out because he thought she was Deirdre, and Arey wasn't the kind of person to stand in the way of other peoples' happiness. Arin and Deirdre weren't the only ones with unresolved guilt from their past lives. One did not have to look hard through the stories of King Arthur to know who the crowd favorite couple was. Lancelot and Guinevere were the tragic lovers, and Arthur the jealous, sometimes doddering old, husband standing as wedge between them. Arey wasn't interested in reprising that role.

Just like that the enthusiasm and thrill she had gotten from the kiss was gone. Deirdre felt terrible. Arey's reaction made her feel as if she had done something very, very wrong. She glanced at Arin and wished she didn't feel bad because she really, really had enjoyed it. You can't do this again.You can't get in the way but....god, it was amazing.

Tim sighed and gripped the wheel. "And this is the crap I have been trying to stop from happening..." He grumbled to himself. He had been enjoying the light flirting with Arey. They had a lot in common and it was nice to talk about things that didn't revolve around past lives or supernatural creatures. Arin why in the world did you go and kiss her? You should have just picked one and left it at that. Tim knew it wasn't that easy on a few levels but it didn't mean he didn't wish it or would do what he could to help. With one action Arin, no Tim corrected himself Deirdre had brought back the tension in the car. Knew I shouldn't have let them go in together. I knew she was going to do something. He just had to get near her. He glanced at Arey. She had said she wasn't Arin's girl but it showed on her face that she wasn't happy. Course he kissed her first and was on a date with her. I might be pissed too. The whole thing was annoying and complicated. If they had listened, Deirdre out of the way to let Arin and Arey connect and I thought D said she wouldn't get in the way? Stop, you are doing it again. Knuckles went white as Tim gripped the wheel tighter. It was far too easy for him to blame D he realized.

"So Arey, where do you live? We will grab your stuff and then head to the morgue." Tim's attempt to change the subject made him sound cold. From his tone of voice one would have thought he was discussing going to grab coffee or stopping at the bank, not taking someone to potentially identify a friend's body.

Deirdre put her head in her hand as Tim talked to Arey. Nothing had happened. He had kissed her to shut Jeannie up. Yes Arin had said he wanted to do it again. She just wanted to be honest with Arey, with everyone. Her eyes moved to Arin once more. He was good looking, the type of guy she tended to watch or look at. He had that rebellious, wild look that she loved and the personality to back it up. He was funny, though a bit shocking. He was sweet and spoke to her in a way that people didn't. And he likes Arey. Okay maybe he thinks you are pretty but you are supposed to stay out of the way. God this sucks...

She looked out the window once more. Who is Deirdre and what does she want? Someone who has no idea what to major in at University but loves the freedom of choices. I want to do things, love to go dancing, coffee and fast food. If things were different I would have gone back to the club and talked to Arin. I miss performing. I want to make my own choices I want...to help, to be useful. I don't want to come between them. I don't want to go to the morgue but I know I have to. I don't want to do it alone.

Her jeans vibrated and she shifted to pull her phone out. She marveled for a moment that it hadn't completely smashed when she threw it. There was a good crack in the screen but it worked still. Deirdre looked at the screen, she shook her head and began to type. Vibration, more typing, vibration and more typing. She grew more and more upset the more she typed. Finally she tossed the phone onto the seat. It slid into Arin's thigh as she looked out the window, furiously wiping at her eyes.

"Not too far from here actually." Arey said giving Tim the directions. The tension in the car hard sharpened again, and Arey felt guilty about it. She needed to try and defuse it somehow, and get over her own petty feelings about them kissing. Deirdre was about to find out if her friend had died, she didn't need to feel guilt tripped about liking the same guy. Even if Arin's affections seemed annoyingly flexible. "I'll be quick I promise." Arey said trying to shoot a smile Deirdre's way as they drove up toward her dorm.

Tim parked. "Want me to come? I can carry the bag."

Deirdre was still looking out the window, ignoring her phone and fighting her tears. She didn't have time for her family right now. "I can go if it is easier than having a guy meet your room mate." She managed to get the words out though they were somewhat quiet.

Arey thought about it for a second before replying. "That might be better actually. Amanda's a bit of a man eater, and she's kind of aggressive when she's pissed." Arey answered. "She's already mad at me for scaring her last night. Might as well not add insult to injury by dragging in handsome men." She tried to joke.

"Besides, always good to introduce friends of friends right?" Arey offer as she climbed out of the car.

Arin felt the drop in spirits in the car immediately. Playful banter turned to sullen silence. He shook his head sadly. He sat silently in the car, stuck in his own thoughts. When the phone hit his leg he almost jumped.

“Oh. Uh, drop this D?” He asked, picking up the phone and handing it back to her.

Deidre looked over at Arin, "Oh...sorry I..." She sighed a little. "You know what, just hang onto it right now. I might chuck it out the window if I take it back and that would be really bad." She opened her door and slipped out, casting a look back at Arin. "I am sorry."

The car door closed and she followed Arey.

"Sure." Arin slipped the phone into his pocket. He took the opportunity to check his to see if Kat or Vivienne had contacted him.

Tim put his head down on the steering wheel as the women left. "Man, what were you thinking?" His voice was calm and low.

"Not in the mood Tim. I've had enough lectures." Arin replied quietly, still looking at his phone.

Tim turned to look at him, "Not a lecture, I get it. Things are all messed up but not cool. I just had Arey convinced that you liked her."

"Sounded like it." Arin's sarcastic tone didn't have as much bite as it had in the past. "I don't really want a cupid though. There's enough of that going around already."

"Hey I am not playing cupid I just don't want this to get all...soap opera like. Can't you keep it in check till we know how they feel? Hell do you know how you feel about them? I just..." He sighed. "You are going to get hurt in this and man, I don't want to see Vivienne if that happens." Tim shrugged. He felt terrible, he really did. Both girls were beautiful and Arey was really fun to talk to. He didn't blame Arin, not one bit but there had to be an easier way.

Arin looked up at Tim, his questions coalescing the random thoughts that had been spinning around Arin's head during the ride, "Yeah. That's mom's biggest worry and why she's been so hard on D without giving her a chance. But you're right. I'll tell them."

Tim frowned, "Tell them what?" He wiped at his face in frustration.

Arin replied, "That I shouldn't be making it harder to figure out what's going on for them. I'm just complicating things unnecessarily."

Tim shook his head. "Pretty sure it isn't you man. Come on, you guys have these past connections that make everything that muddled. Deirdre is pretty and she is Guin, of course you want her but admit it, that is likely all it is. Arey on the other hand. You have a chance to be with this amazing woman and given your past you'd be pretty amazing as a team. Maybe just keep D at arm's length, keep the division clearer." He was trying to sound optimistic.

"Muddled is the point. Clearer heads and all. And I don't want to hear any more about who other people think I should or should not pursue, okay? I am just going to do my job."

Tim wanted to whack his head off the steering wheel in frustration. "Now I can see why the swords would be a good idea." He huffed. "Ever get the feeling we have had this discussion in some form before?" He gave a halfhearted smirk.

Arin narrowed his eyes, "No Tim, considering I just met you a day ago or so, I do not get that feeling."

Tim rolled his eyes, "And we are beyond even joking. Right." He turned to look out the windshield once more.

Arin went back to his phone, not really noticing what he was doing, rather focusing on what he wanted to say when Deirdre and Arey returned.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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Footnotes

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INK

"Arey?" Deirdre ran a little to walk beside her. "I didn't mean for anything to happen, he was trying to shut Jeannie up. I didn't want it to be some secret though. I won't get between you. I honestly..." She was at a loss. Vivienne had told her that she was always sorry and it was apparent that she would spend a good deal of time apologizing to one or all of them.

"Hey, it's fine, really." Arey insisted as Deirdre tried to apologize. "There's nothing for you to get in between alright. I was just...surprised is all." Arey tried to explain. She wanted to be reassuring about this, and honestly she hardly knew Arin, she really shouldn't care if he was kissing other girls. "Thanks for being honest about it though...it's good to keep things in the open." Arey said trying to smile.

"Be easier if we were into women only..." Deirdre tried to smile though she didn't feel jovial. "Look I don't want to stop something before you get the chance to start. Just don't be mad at him. Arin is really nice and understanding but he has a lot to deal with too."

"Same goes for you too." Arey returned. "Either way, I'm not into having to compete for someone's affections. Neither of us deserve to have to deal with that." Arey said opening the door and holding it open for Deirdre without thinking about it. "If you like Arin, you have just as much right to persue that okay. Where ever the chips fall, I'm not going to be mad at you. We both deserve to be happy, and I think we have to keep reminding ourselves of that."

"I don't want to compete. This doesn't feel like a competition. I don't think that is his goal." She stepped inside as Arey held the door for her. "Thank you. Right now I am just trying to understand my role in all this and not make the same mistakes she did. I don't want us to have secrets. There is no reason for it." Deirdre sighed just a little. "This is going to be strange no matter what I think."

"I think you're right about that one." Arey agreed as they made their way up to her dorm room. Sliding the key into the lock, she turned the nob as was practically assaulted on entry by her roommate.

"Don't you ever do that again blondey!" Amanda growled as she pulled Arey into a bear hug and practically lifted the smaller girl off the ground.

"Am-anda! Can't breath!" Arey gritted out as she squirmed in Amanda's grip. "Too bad." She bit out before putting her down a moment later. "Who's this?" Amanda asked when she spotted Deirdre.

"Deirdre, this is Amanda, Amanda Deirdre." Arey introduced after sucking in some much needed air. "She's a friend. We're...working through the same issue." Arey tried to explain.

"Is that code for you both might be into boobs?" Amanda asked bluntly. Arey's face turned about as red as a tomato. "W-what-? Why would you-? No! Jesus Christ you never stop." Arey stuttered with her face aflame as Amanda chuckled. Arey was too easy to tease sometimes.

Deirdre stood to the side as Arey was attacked by her roommate. "It's nice…" Her words cut off by Amanda's question. Deirdre blushed and closed her mouth. She looked away out of embarrassment. "We ran into similar date issues and found out we have a few things in common." It was the best she could offer in terms of an explanation.

"You mean sexy bartender? Arey, I told you if he stepped out of line I'd cut him for you." Amanda threatened, face darkening as she remembered Arey's phone call last night.

Deirdre couldn't help the slight smile as Amanda referred to Arin as the sexy bartender. "Let's just say our evenings did not go as planned. No one's fault really, just outside forces." She prayed it was enough but still vague enough to satisfy Amanda. "Sexy bartender wasn't the issue." She felt like she needed to defend Arin.

Amanda raised an eyebrow but relented. "Ok. If you change your mind though, I'll help you go all Carrie Underwood on that bike of his." She offered seriously..

Deirdre shook her head but looked at Arey, "We should go unless there is something you need to take care of first."

"Right." Arey agreed as she grabbed the bag Amanda had packed for her. "Thanks Amanda. I'll call you when I've got things figured out." Arey promised.

"You better." Amanda said sternly as Arey and Deirdre made their way back to the car.

Deirdre gave Amanda a small smile, "Nice to meet you." She followed Arey out. "She seems nice."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tim looked up as the car doors opened. Arey had a bag. He nodded. "Alright then. Buckle up and let's move on." He was on edge. Arin had been silent for a while now and he wasn't sure what was going on in that man's head but his face was serious and Tim had a bad feeling.

Deirdre slipped in beside Arin. She gave him a small smile and did up her seat belt.

Arin watched the women return to the car and get in, “Hey, Tim made a good point while you were gone. I just... I want to set something straight, okay?”

Arin sighed, “It would really have been nice to get to know you both. I really begin to understand where Guinevere was. Being forced to decide between two people you actually like is tough. Of course, she had established relationships to work with.”

“It’s starting to be obvious to me that there’s too much overhead and I have no real chance to get to be friends with either of you without hurting the other. Let alone see if anything develops from there.”

“Here’s the sad part. You both seem nice, fun, kind and are certainly attractive. I have no reason to think I wouldn’t have noticed you if you came into my bar. Actually, I can say that I did do just that. But, because of this insistence on making me something I’m not, or worse, looking at yourselves as something you’re not, I will never have the opportunity for you to just get to know me. As Arin. Everyone wants so badly to question my motives, but no one seems to actually believe me when I tell them. Nor do they want to look past the Lancelot baggage. Heaven forbid that I’m a guy who might like to talk to pretty girls and get to know them. Not me. I’m Lancelot. I move quick to stake my claim and expect people to follow along. I get told who is the better option for me as though it’s predetermined, without being given the chance for me to even hang out with anyone for longer than five minutes.”

“So here I am, trying to prove that I’m interacting with all of you as Arin and yet, no matter what I do I hurt someone. Or I get told how dumb an idea it is for me to be interested. Or I get accused of not actually being interested, just influenced by some past life.”

“Alright, enough monologue. Stupidly dramatic. How about this? I know exactly where I stand. I’m just making it harder for you to figure out where you all stand. So, I’ll keep my interests subdued. You figure out what you want. However long that takes. I’ve a job to do to make sure you all stay safe. I’ll do that. You can expect that from me and nothing else. If it turns out someone is interested in knowing Arin, great. If not, I’m a big boy. I’ll handle it.”

Arin spoke with determination, tinged with sadness. The realization he came to on the drive finally being expressed. I’m expected to be a teacher. I will teach. No other expectations should have ever been placed on me. I’m just as guilty at trying to follow some stupid destiny or something. Stop, grow up, and focus.

Deirdre's heart pounded against her ribs as he spoke. Forced, baggage... The color drained from her face. She had done all those things. She had tried to steer his interest towards Arey, she had assumed that it was Lancelot and not Arin who was attracted to her in her room. He had said it wasn't and she wanted so much to believe that. She had hurt him, she had put him in a spot that she knew all to well and yet it was infinitely worse for him. She was beyond embarrassed. She wanted to ask for forgiveness but was beginning to get the sense that her words meant nothing unless it was to upset someone.

"I understand. " Her voice was quiet. "I won't be here much longer. My parents aren't giving me a choice. I don't think even Vivienne can change their mind." She was sad, she didn't want to leave and yet hearing Arin, knowing how he felt was upsetting. "You haven't hurt me Arin." Deirdre looked over at him. "I really...I'm s-" You always are. Vivienne's voice added to her thoughts. She had liked him. She had wanted to get to know more about him. All she wanted was to be judged for Deirdre, not Guinevere and in the process had done a lot to put Arin in a bad spot. He and Arey had tried with her but she hadn't.

In the front seat Tim wanted to sink lower and lower but kept his attention on the road. You deserve every bruise he gives you, you giant jackass. You stupid, idiotic, judgmental jackass. He cleared his throat. "Look I don't think we need to jump to...I..." He stopped mid-sentence, unsure of how to do this without making it worse. Tim smacked the steering wheel.

Arin shrugged, "Your parents will have to get used to disappointment. You're an adult. You get to choose where you live now. They can ask, but not demand. Assuming you don't want to go back, that is." Arin still spoke with a more determined tone. He didn't leave any doubt that this was fact. "D, they only have as much power over you as you let them. Goes for anyone, really."

Deirdre looked down at her lap. She closed her eyes. How do I tell him I don't want to leave? How do I explain that they will drag me away, no matter how much I fight? How do I tell him that I want to get to know him even if he doesn't end up liking me? Her hair fell forward covering her face.

Tim looked at Arey. "Okay look we are going to the morgue, we are going to go find Kat, get some food. Everyone needs to eat. We will go back to the bat cave, explain to Viv what is going on. She won't be too happy but hey she never is. Arin, you three can talk. You know without other people butting in and adding their two cents..." His ears turned very warm. "Deirdre you aren't going anywhere. Vivienne isn't going to let them take you, you know that. You aren't some little kid. Sounds like a plan right?"

For some reason, Arin's speech rubbed Arey the wrong way. She got that he was trying to say he was backing off, that no one was going to feel pressured by their past life to start or end a relationship before they'd even gotten to know each other. She got that, really. But the, 'poor me, I have too many options and everyone thinks I'm Lancelot' part pissed her off. He had done all those things, trying to stake a claim with Guinevere beforehand (which another smaller part of herself was also pissed about) for starters, and he'd asked her out with the thought in mind that she was Guinevere. Being defensive about it now didn't change that fact. And that wasn't even what she'd been angry about. Dropping all the reincarnation predetermined bull, the fact remained that Arin had kissed both her and Deirdre in less than a twenty four hour period. She was a woman, she was allowed to be pissed about that. Anyone normal would be. They all had baggage to deal with, she was not going to be emotionally blackmailed on this issue, and she was not going to feel sorry for him. If she wanted to deal with that nonsense she would have stayed in London with her father.

For Deirdre's sake, Arey kept her comments to herself. She was about to deal with something very difficult, and she didn't need to deal with Arey airing her 'emotional baggage'. She'd leave that to Arin. Arey remained stonily quiet until Deirdre mentioned her parents. The thought of Deirdre being dragged away and trapped under the suffocating hold of her parents was disturbing to Arey on a number of levels, and she vowed silently that she wouldn't let that happen. "We'll tell them together if it comes to that. Big united front. Sometimes that's the only way to send the message that they don't control your life anymore." Arey promised, voicing her support.

Deirdre nodded though didn't look up. "Thank you. I appreciate it all."

Tim sighed, "So we are good with the plan? Morgue, Kat, food and back to discuss with Viv." He put the car into drive, not waiting for anymore responses. Tim was a little lost in thought as he made his way through the city. It wasn't his first trip to the morgue, he had gone to get statements for cases but it was the first time he was going with someone who knew the deceased.

The car was parked and Tim turned to half face the back. "How do we want to do this?" He looked from Arey to Arin and finally to Deirdre.

"I have to go and identify the body. You don't have to come, any of you. I won't be long." Deirdre looked at the door handle. Come on, you owe it to Heather. Chin up, shoulders back, head high. She wished she had showered or at least taken the time to change from her skeleton shirt. She should have waited for Vivienne and took clothes like Arey had. No time to think about that now.

"I'll go with you." Arey said gently, following her out of the car. She didn't want Deirdre to have to face this alone, and if she stayed in the car with Arin and Deirdre wasn't there, Arey was pretty sure she'd say something they'd all regret later.

Tim sighed. "Should we go too?" He looked at Arin.

Deirdre kept her head up, her eyes forward. She stood tall, shoulders back and every bit the graceful dancer. The only sign of her apprehension was the way her hands were knotted together at her stomach. "You didn't have to come with me but I appreciate the company. I have never done something like this." Her voice was soft.

Arin shrugged, "Go ahead. I'll hold the fort. I'm going to touch base with Viv, see if she's heard from Kat at all. I don't like that she hasn't responded to my text yet."

Tim looked at his hands when Arin mentioned Kat. "Look I really, really....I can't stress this enough, I really fucked up. With Kat, with you. I put my opinion in without really thinking it through, you know taking everything into consideration. It was all surface, all what I wanted to see. I was wrong. I know that every one of those things you mentioned, every single one I did. To you, to Deirdre, hell to Kat in some ways. I am not handling this whole situation well."

"It's to be expected. You've kinda went for a big spin in your life. Things get dropped sometimes. This is the first time I've met anyone like me... meaning past life stuff. Pretty sure I could have handled it better too. Mistakes are where you learn. We'll all get better with it. Kat too. She'll blow off some steam and be fine. Just stop calling her a kid." Arin grinned. "Look, when it comes down to it, mistakes can be exploited by your opponents. Get better at learning quickly from them and you'll be harder to beat overall."

Tim gave a small smile. "Last time my life took a spin I kind of went into my own world. Shut everyone out. I guess this time I am trying to just keep everyone safe and not trying to think about what might happen if I don't. I can't handle the way Deirdre looks sometimes. The sadness, its like I am drowning and I just want to push her away to protect everyone from it. I don't know, I really don't. Then I forget and do things like flirt with Arey, which I apologized to her for but I owe you an apology too, even if it is way too late. And Kat....I owe her so many apologies. She is going to milk it though isn't she? I'm totally okay with that I just want to be prepared."

"See, that's where you and I differ. I see someone struggling, I want to help them, not the people around them. You owe me no apologies for Arey. I don't own her, never claimed to, never would. She's a big girl, she can decide for herself who she likes to flirt with. Kat, maybe... she was pretty pissed. Not sure milking it will be her go to. You might have earned yourself the 'ignore it' treatment. We'll see when we find her, I guess."

Tim looked out the windshield. "I spend a lot of time listening to people in trouble. People taken advantage of, abused and stepped on. I want to help, I do but something about her just makes me so uncomfortable. Like I know a secret but can't tell anyone. I don't even know that it is 'me', know what I mean?"

"Exactly. Which is why you sell Deirdre short when you don't take a moment to look past that. It takes time. I have the advantage that I've dealt with it all along. Doesn't piss me off any less when people start pegging me into their expectations, but at least I have had the time to figure out where I stand with it all. Just know, you cannot rely on your past life instincts under pressure. They are from a different time. So, don't get too comfortable. Find yourself in there."

Tim nodded, "I can't imagine doing this for as long as you have. You know you shouldn't be so mad at the girls for what I did. Your rant, I know it was at me. I wish you hadn't taken it out on them but I get distancing yourself in general. I did that, after the accident. Pushed everyone away. The more they told me what to do, said I wouldn't walk...the more they limited me, the angrier I got but not always a good place."

"I'm not even a little bit angry. I'm sorry it came across that way. I probably over spoke. I often feel the need to over explain myself. Habit from ensuring I wasn't taken out of context." Arin shrugged. "It was directed at all of us. I was trying to use myself as an example of what we've all been doing to each other for the last day. And I'm really not trying to push anyone away. What I'm trying to do is not push myself on anyone more than the required amount to teach." Arin was sincere. He knew he made his share of mistakes and was trying to stop putting people in the same place he hated so much.

Tim nodded. "Okay I can see that. I feel lousy. I need a good run, a piece of pizza and god help, me a beer."

"I need to find Kat. Then I can try and relax."

"You don't think she is in trouble do you? Like she isn't off after those women or anything right?" Tim looked extremely worried.

"I'm sure she's fine. Just blowing off steam." Arin said, while thinking, It's Kat. I wouldn't put anything past her.

"Okay, okay if you figure that I am only a lot worried..." Tim inhaled slowly. "Call Viv."

"Yup." Arin pulled out his phone and dialed the shop.

"I'm working on it." Vivienne replied tartly as she picked up the phone. "Katrina took he bag with her, which means she at least has iron, but also the anti-scrying charm she figured out how to make last year. It would appear we have not done as through a job confiscating those as I would have liked."

"Dammit Kat. Okay, well, I didn't quite feel comfortable doing a full search of her room. You know that. She's a teenager now. Okay, just... I'm not driving. Tim is. So call whenever you find something. Thanks mom." Arin cursed himself for letting Kat weasel her way out of giving up her home grown charms. He should have known better than to believe she would actually give them all up.

Tim looked over at Arin. "No luck eh?"

"Not yet. Kat has some stuff that's making it harder. Look, I have another idea, but... I apologize in advance Tim. You'll get your chance to make amends though." He picked up his phone again and started typing.

Kat. If you get this, Tim feels really bad about insulting you. He offered to let you take it out on him however you'd like, but you have to contact me soon. I don't know how long he's willing to keep that offer open.

Arin shrugged at Tim, "I hope it works."

"What exactly are you apologizing in advance for?" Tim looked a bit worried.

"Let's just say I've incentivized a response." Arin smiled.

"Violence or partial nudity?" Tim cringed not entirely sure he wanted the answer.

Arin thought for a moment, "Honestly, it could be both."

Arin opened the door and moved to the front seat, "Sorry, but if she texts I may need you to look at the phone and confirm. Might not be good spoken out loud." Arin chuckled. "Plus, Arey can comfort D."

Tim groaned, "If it gets her back I am willing to suck it up. " He nodded. "I get it."

Kat had effectively ignored all communication since she’d stormed out of the bat cave that morning. She was pissed off, royally, and she didn’t feel like talking to anyone about it right now. What did they care anyway? She was just the teenage side kick that was good for the occasional pep talk, a liability. They didn’t need her, they had their own little round table super hero club now, no kids allowed! Well screw that noise, Kat was a badass superhero, she thought angrily as she rocked out another game of Super Street Fighter IV at Astro Arcade. She already held several records in the arcade, but turned out anger was great for focusing video game skills.

She’d just beaten her own high score for the third time that day. “I’m fucking Batman!” She growled triumphantly. Tim didn’t think she was Batman though. Just the damn side kick. If his words were anything to go on, she didn’t even make the cut for Robin. No, it was worse, she was mother fucking Batgirl. The one who got kidnapped every other issue and had to be rescued from her own well-meaning short comings. The one who had the awkward as hell crush on Batman that never went anywhere because he could never see her as a woman. Fucking Batgirl.

Why she bothered to look at the latest text to buzz in, Kat wasn’t sure, but she did. If only to tell Arin the bug off, she didn’t need a babysitter. She was also getting really tired of having to tell people that. The content of the text made her stop short though, and she took a minute to pause and consider.

Anything I want?” Kat texted back, a slightly evil looking grin splitting across her lips.

Arin felt the phone buzz in his hand and yelped a little, "Shit! It's Kat."

He read the text. That's what he said. He feels really bad, you know.

Arin looked over to Tim, grinning, "Uh oh Tim. She seems interested in the conditions."

Tim groaned again, "Great. Hey tell her only if she let's us pick her up. I can suck it up. I have been a shitty friend." His mind whirled with all the things Kat might do to him or put him through. It will be worth it if she is back and safe.

Arin nodded, "Good call."

Where are you? Tim says he wants to pick you up so he can hear firsthand the conditions of his apologies. Arin knew better than to make it sound like they were overly worried.

Good. Kat texted back flatly when she heard Tim felt guilty. He was being an asshole.

She thought about Arin's other text for a moment before replying. Terms first then i'll give you the location. Strike while the irons hot and the bargaining power was in her hands Kat figured.

Done. But null and void if you give us the run around. I want a bike ride tonight. I don't want to chase you around the city. ;)

Deal. Full on slave boy, 24 hours. No saying no, no reneging on the agreement, and full and complete compliance with all demands in that time period. I can initiate the 24 hours whenever I choose. Hours to be consecutive and will not roll over. Kat fired back as she got down to business.

Does he get a safe word?

Sure, but it's gonna be Dutch and hard to pronounce. ;) Kat quipped back.

Arin chuckled. I'm asking for final approval. brb.

Tim watched Arin text and he grew nervous. "Why are you laughing?" There was a great deal of wariness in his voice.

Arin looked at Tim seriously, "She drives a hard bargain. I got you some concessions. Practice dutch." He showed him the phone.

Tim's face grew steadily redder as he read the messages. "Are you kidding me? Slave boy? Oh Arin, do you know what she is going to make me do? You should have told her nothing that can get me arrested. This is so not good." He shook his head. "Whatever. If it brings her home I will do whatever she wants."

Arin shook his head, "You're talking about Kat. There's not many arrest warrants that would hold up long with her around. So, that's an empty give back, at best."

"A Dutch safe word is the best you could do? Wow, guess hitting me with swords won't be enough punishment huh? Just tell her I agree and give us an address. She better be there."

"The swords are from me. Not her." Arin smiled. "I think she will be there."

You have a deal Kat. Where are you?

"I kinda feel like this is a little bit you too." He looked grumpy.

"The only thing this does for me is I don't have to wonder where Kat is anymore. I can relax tonight. For that, you'll have less bruises." Arin said sincerely.

"Well that is nice." Tim smiled. "I am glad we will know where she is and get her home too."

"See? It's for all of us then. Nice work." Arin grinned.

"All of us...that's me, learning to be a team player." Tim sulked a little.

Excellent. I'm at Astro Arcade eight blocks over from the shop. If either of you renege on this I will make your lives suck. Kat threatened as she surrendered her location.

Arin laughed in relief, "Well, it'll be a little ways out of our way to get her, but she'll be fine until we do." He tried to keep a straight face.

Kat, this deal has nothing to do with me. Just the middle man. Nothing I could reneg on. We'll be there shortly.

Arin looked up from the phone after he sent the text, "She's at the arcade, down the street from the shop."

Tim's face screwed up in annoyance. "Of course she is."

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Deirdre opened the door and stepped inside, holding the door for Arey. The place was cold. The hall empty and there was a faint, strange smell in the air. She headed down the hall before coming to a window. It felt like there were eyes watching her but she couldn't see anyone.

A man looked up, "Can I help you?"

Deirdre nodded, "I was told to come down to identify a body. A Detective...Vesz...Vasquaez...Vesqzquaz? I am sorry I was pretty shaken when I talked to him. It was about my room mate."

The man frowned and flicked through some papers. "Just a sec." He moved off into the back.

Deirdre looked at Arey. "I can't remember the detective's name."

"Deirdre?" A man asked as he came out the main hall's door to the office. "Detective Velazquez. We spoke on the phone." The man introduced. He was tall and dark of feature. Young for a detective, but well-built and mature looking.

Deirdre nodded. "Yes that is me. I brought a friend with me. I went home like I said I would but Heather wasn't there." She blinked. "I am sorry. Deirdre Evering." She put her hand out. "I wish I wasn't meeting you like this."

"Agreed." David agreed taking her hand for a quick handshake. When their hands met, David could have sworn he was looking at someone else for a moment, but after blinking hard the image passed. Jerry's right, need to get more sleep... Looking up at the friend, he found he recognized the face.

"Miss Trescott?" That was an odd coincidence. Arey waved awkwardly.

Deirdre stiffened as he took her hand. She dropped hers and frowned. Couldn't be another...no.... She had an eerie feeling creep up her back. She looked from Arey to the Detective. "You know each other?"

"You certainly seem to be followed by trouble lately." David remarked but held the door open for them to pass through. "We've got the room prepared for you when you're ready to go in." He said turning to Deirdre, trying to stay professionally sympathetic.

Deirdre looked at the open door. She took a slow breath in and entered the door. "Heather didn't come home. My other roommate told me this morning. I stayed with friends last night." Her voice was soft and her hands once again knitted together. She forced them down to her sides. Can't break down.

Arey extended her own hand to lay across Deirdre's knit ones. It was there if she wanted something, or someone to hold onto.

"How does this work detective?" Her eyes moved to Arey, a silent thanks in them and she let her hand relax to hold onto Arey's. She was scared and as much as she didn't want them to see her upset she was glad not to be here alone.

"I'll escort you to the room, the front is all double sided glass. You'll be able to see the...the body but you won't have to enter the room. We're confident that this is a homicide, but the ME still needs to do an autopsy to determine cause of death definitively." David explained as gently as possible.

Deirdre nodded. Homicide "I am ready." She looked to the detective.

David led the girls down the hall to the autopsy room. The window showed a stark looking room with an examination table that held what was clearly a body covered with a sheet. "Whenever you're ready." David said gently.

Deirdre gripped Arey's hand and nodded. "Alright." She wasn't sure she was actually ready to see the body and part of her still hoped it wasn't Heather but that part had been small to begin with and it was fading fast.

"Ok." He said softly, knocking on the glass. A woman in a clinical looking lab coat carefully pulled away the sheet, revealing the girl underneath. Arey's hand tightened on Deirdre's afraid her own knees might give out as she saw the face. The body was covered in ruins that had been carved into the flesh, culminating in one familiar symbol on her stomach. It's her, I saw her die, that sicko killed her while I watched...

Deirdre stood tall, head up. She looked at the body, felt Arey grip her hand tighter and she did her best to support her. There on the table was her roommate, her only friend. She was pale. There were marks on her body, carved there. Deirdre knew what had happened. "Its Heather...."

Deirdre inhaled very slowly. "That is my friend. Her...I left her at the club. We knew that there was a killer out there. We even joked that she was his type. Papers kept saying he...he liked blonde girls with blue eyes...I knew when she didn't text me back." The color seeped from her face but she didn't cry, didn't falter. She stayed strong for Arey.

"What happens now?" Deirdre pulled her eyes from her friend's lifeless body to look at the detective. "What happens to her?"

"If you need some time, we can have you come in the make a statement in the next couple days. We need to contact the parents to confirm the ID first, and then we'll preform the autopsy to see if we can get some forensics on this guy and hopefully stop him." Detective Velazquez explained.

Deirdre nodded. "I can leave my cell phone number and I will come give a statement. This is a lot right now." She looked back to the body. I am so sorry Heather. I shouldn't have left you alone. I was so caught up in all of this that I just forgot about you. "She comes from out of city, just outside. If you have her cell, her parents’ information is in there. I can't believe she is..."

Deirdre looked away again. "Sorry. Just too much." She looked at Arey. "Can I go detective? I can't breathe very well right now." She felt cold and numb but she was more concerned with Arey at that moment.

"Thank you for all your help, and I'm sorry for your loss." David said, feeling almost robotic. Keeping a professional distance was part of his job, but seeing these two look so upset cut him up for some reason. "I'll see you when you're ready." He said gently before taking her contact information. The ME covered the body back up as the two began to leave, but David got another eyeful of the mess their serial killer had left behind. If it was the last thing her did, David was going to catch that guy.

Deirdre just kept nodding as the detective offered sympathies. She turned, still holding Arey's hand as they left the room. "She's gone." Deirdre whispered. Her lip quivered but she held it together. "Are you okay Arey?"

Arey has become lost in her own thoughts, rerunning everything she'd seen through the connection that morning as Deirdre pulled her along by the hand. Her breathing had become irregular, and it was only when Deirdre addressed her directly that she managed to snap out of the disturbing memory. "It was her, the girl from this morning..." Arey said weakly, fresh waves of guilt washing over her as she remembered screaming for him to stop a she watched him cut that girl's throat open.

Deirdre nodded slowly. "I sort of wondered when you grabbed me and the carvings..." She shook her head and tried to swallow back the bile. "Come on let's get you to the car." She led Arey out of the morgue's back room and out to the hall. She held her tightly, one arm now around her for support as they made their way out to the car.

Deirdre frowned, seeing Arin in the front. "You are in the back with me Arey. You okay to get in?" She was doing her best to concentrate on Arey and not her own emotions at that moment. Bigger things to deal with. Opening the door she let Arey get in first.

Arin still had his phone in his hand and a relieved smile on his face as the women climbed into the car. The smile faded on seeing their faces, "You two okay? I... don't even know what I could say to help."

Tim inhaled slowly. It was clear that it had gone the way they feared. He frowned as he realized that Arey looked more upset than Deirdre. Maybe it wasn't her friend. "We found Kat so if you need a minute to sit and you know...or talk..." He added lamely.

"Arey is pretty shaken up. My friend was the woman she saw, the woman Mordred killed." Her voice was level and she fought to keep her emotions out of it. She wrapped an arm around Arey. "Let's get Kat."

Tim looked at Arin and then put the key in the ignition. "Maybe once we pick up Kat I will drop you all off and go get some food."

Tim set off and headed to the arcade. He pulled up in front. "Arin you want to run in and get her?" He looked towards the front door.

In the back Deirdre did her best to comfort Arey.

"Sorry..." Arey said in mumbled apology as she desperately tried to stop her hands from shaking. "She was your friend, I should be the one comforting you...not the other way around."

"Don't think anything of it. You are the one who was connected to the whole thing. I will deal later, right now..." She took Arey's hands in her own. "I am here for you."

Arin nodded, "Sure. You won't escape that easy though." He smirked at Tim as he opened the door and headed into the arcade. He scanned the room for Kat, trying to suss her out in the crowd of high school and university kids.

"Three high scores on the same game in one day? That is impressive. Wouldn't mind you giving me a few pointers sometime." A smooth male voice filtered through the crowd.

Kat preened at the attention, grinning widely at the guy she'd been flirting with for the past ten minutes. Dude was hot, bit older too from the looks of him, but not waaaaaay older. Like nineteen maybe. He seemed cool, especially since college guys didn't look her way or flirt back seriously all that often. "What'd you say your name was again?" She asked.

"Matt. Forgot it already? You're breaking my heart darlin'." He said grinning back, dark hazel eyes twinkling.

Arin finally spotted her and headed over. She was talking with another guy and he hesitated a moment before interrupting. He was hungry and wanted that bike ride though, so he tried to be somewhat polite, "Hey! We're here. Tim's pretty excited about your deal."

Matt's eyes shifted to Arin as he interrupted their conversation. His eyes narrowed slightly, but he tried to keep his displeasure from showing. He'd been trying to track this one down for weeks.

"Hey Arin!" Kat greeted, in significantly better spirits than before. "Right, sorry Matt gotta split." Kat apologized genuinely.

"No problem, I get it." Matt replied playing it cool. "Here's my number though...In case you ever want to show me those moves of your's sometime soon." He said with a wink as he handed her a folded scrap of paper.

Arin let Kat lead the way toward the door after she finished with her conversation, "Smooth Kat. Nice work. You kept it to only three high scores today. Gotta make them think they have a chance." He grinned.

"Naturally." Kat grinned as she practically bounced on her way back to the car. "Shotgun!" She called, racing ahead and into the front passenger side seat.

Arin paused as she climbed in and sighed. Should have anticipated that one. He walked toward the closest door, which happened to be the passenger's side, "It's not far. I was planning on a bike ride tonight. If you'd rather head home to talk, I'll take off now." He really didn't know if he'd be welcome in the back seat at the moment.

Tim looked up as the door opened. He blushed. "Hey Kat." He managed though he turned his eyes to the windshield.

Deirdre looked up and frowned a little. "I don't understand. Get in and go back with us. There is no reason for us to be separated now and Vivienne will not look kindly on us arriving back without you. Don't do this." Her eyes met his for a moment. "A team. Don't walk away, even if it is just to walk home."

She moved over, squishing closer to Arey to make room. She was doing her best to keep her composure and arguing was the last thing she wanted to do right now. If he was going to be insistent she was going to let it go. A small smile appeared, "Don't make me come out there and walk with you...you know we'd both prefer to be more comfortable."

"Never walk away." He looked up at Arey. "If it's cool, I'm happy to take the ride."

"Hey!" Kat said grinning, still in good spirits after the impromptu flirting. Pulling out her phone, Kat quickly typed in Matt's number into her contacts.

Arin shrugged. Being ignored was better than be actively rejected and he really just wanted to get home, "Alright. I'm going to order the pizza, maybe it won't take too long and we'll get it when we get home." He opened the door and sat, pulling out his phone. As he dialed he pulled out Deirdre's phone and held it up, a questioning look on his face.

She was relieved when he got in the car. Deirdre closed her eyes a moment and when the door closed she opened them. Her lips parted as Arin held up her phone, her eyes widening in fear. She shook her head frantically. 'Not right now." As if on cue it vibrated, her parents contact on the screen. They had taken to calling instead of texting. "No. No thank you."

Arin nodded, hit the cancel button and slipped it back in his pocket, "Doesn't exist, as far as you're concerned."

Deirdre swallowed hard, her eyes stinging slightly. "Thank you Arin." She couldn't deal with them and everything else right now.

Tim drove off. He was tense and a bit fearful of what Kat was going to do to him. Worst is that he had no idea when it might happen.

Arin shrugged again, "Nothing really. If you'd like I'll answer it and talk to them next time. Or I'll just let it hit voice mail- Oh, hello. Yeah, two large..." He continued with the pizza order on his phone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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Footnotes

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INK

Tim parked the car and inhaled, "Made it back without a scratch." Hopping out, he opened the door for Arey. "Hey, let's get you to a chair or something." He reached in to help her out.

Deirdre had been silent the rest of the drive. When the car stopped and Tim came to help Arey, Deirdre turned to Arin. "When you have a moment, alone, could we talk?"

Arin pursed his lips, "Yes... the training room. It's off the back of the main room. No doors."

She nodded, "Thank you. I have some things to do and you can find me there in half an hour maybe? Or later if you prefer..." She suddenly looked very awkward.

Arin saw she wasn't comfortable and he knew she'd been through so much today, "Look. Dinner is here shortly. I wanted a ride, but whatever you need first. Just ask."

Deirdre looked at her hands, "Half an hour, I will be brief so as not to interfere with your plans." She was being, or at least trying to be, very formal. It was all she could do to keep her voice from cracking or the tears to start flowing. "I won't take too much of your time."

"I'll be there and you'll have as much of my time as you need." Arin said gently. He opened his door and stepped out, waiting to see which side Deirdre would exit from.

Her eyes were on her lap and for the first time she noticed that she was trembling. She had been holding Arey's hand, helping her but now she was having trouble controlling her reactions. As the tension and heightened emotions lowered Deirdre could feel her own close to the breaking point. She slipped out after Arin, grabbing her and Arey's bags.

Tim held his hand out for Arey. "Viv! Viv we are back! Got Kat and everything!"

"Thanks." Arey said gratefully when Tim extended his hand to help her out. She needed to calm down, and it was frustrating to her that she couldn't just will herself to stop her hands from shaking. "I'll be ok, promise. I just need a minute." She said taking a deep breath.

"Wanna take a gander at Tim's future?" Kat said conspiratorially to Arey as she showed the other girl her phone. In Kat's experience, humor was the best way to cut tension, and what else were teenage sidekicks good for if not comic relief? On the screen was an adult Robin costume. Old school Robin, as in the one that didn't wear pants.

Arey snorted in laughter despite herself, trying to curl her lips in to hide the smile. "That's a uhm...very interesting choice." Arey got out a little shakily, though she felt a bit lighter as well.

Tim stood to the side, eyeing the two as they whispered while looking at Kat's phone.Deal with the devil...that is what I did... "Come on you two, let's go sit down and relax. Pizza should be here soon and Viv has a lot to get caught up on." He was worried about Arey. She seemed really shaken up. Tim put his hand out to take hers. "Walk with me, you know in case I get weak kneed and faint of hunger." He gave her a smile.

"I am going to drop the bags off in Kat's room." Deirdre watched Tim and Arey, glad that she was having help. "I'll be quick and we can take a seat, okay?" She nodded and headed off quickly towards Kat's room.

Tim watched Deirdre leave and wondered how she could be so calm. Her friend was dead and she had cried. She looked put together. He knew how he would be. His eyes moved to Arey and he instantly knew why Deirdre was able to be so strong. She was keeping it together in order to help support Arey. I think I might have underestimated D... Arey made him feel stronger, like he couldn't let her down.

"Oh this is just for the photo op." Kat said more loudly with a firm grin in place. "I've got a twenty four hour period to work with, so I'm giving myself time to be creative." She finished giving Tim a smirk.

Arey kind of felt sorry for him. Whatever deal was going down between the two of them, Kat did not seem the kind of person one wanted to be creative, at least not when it was directed at them. Arey smiled back at Tim though. He seemed like a tough guy, she was sure he could take it either way. "I'll do my best to catch you if you fall then. Can't promise how successful I'll be though."

Tim chuckled and put an arm partially around Arey's waist, his eyes flicked to Kat Photo op?. He was still willing to suck it up, after how badly he had spoken to her, he deserved whatever she dished out.

"We'll be fine I think I can make it." He gave Arey a wink and walked with her into the bat cave. "Want to go sit up there?" He gestured towards the sitting area. "Seats are at least comfy." He turned his head. "Vivienne? We are back!"

Arin lingered for a moment while everyone else headed inside. He took his time, watching them and waiting for the pizza to come.

Deirdre came down the hall from Kat's room. She watched as Tim walked with Arey toward the dais. Moving slowly she came up behind them but she looked at Kat. "Glad you didn't get into any trouble."

Don't they look cozy... Kat thought sourly as Tim put his arm around Arey's waist and winked at her. "How long has that been going on?" She mumbled grumpily to D as the other girl came up behind her.

"What?" She looked up at Tim and Arey. "What is going on? Arey's had a rough day. So...a day?" Deirdre frowned a little.

"Yeah, nothing a little light flirting and eye making can't fix." Kat grouched sarcastically, before turning her head away for the moment. She wasn't in the mood to watch that. "You alright? She's not the only who had a rough day." Kat asked.

Deirdre gave Kat a slight smile. "I am fine, I'll be fine. There is just a lot to let sink in, you know? Arey is in a harder spot." She swallowed hard, fighting the urge to cry. Now was not the time, not yet. "You really just took off to the arcade? I would have bolted much further." She nudged Kat with her elbow, trying to change the subject.

"Thought about doing something else honestly, but despite what Tim thinks I'm not stupid." Kat said flatly as she remembered considering hunting down that damn incubus from the night before and giving him a taste of iron. She'd felt the need to hit something, so she settled for video games to be her emotional outlet.

Deirdre frowned, "You know that Tim doesn't really think you are stupid. He is scared. He is worried about everyone. Hell he wanted to send me away. Sure, upsetting. Do I wish I had tried to throw my phone at him? You bet but we have all said and done things without really thinking it over. Some of us just need to learn to breathe and pause before we speak." She looked sad for a moment but quickly pushed it aside.

Tim leaned in close to whisper to Arey, "So any hints on what it is Kat has planned for me? Want to maybe tell me what she showed you on her phone?"

Arey laughed lightly giving Tim a slightly pitying look. "Well I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise, but I'd say be prepared for tights...or maybe not. That particular outfit didn't seem to have any."

Tim looked back quickly at Kat before leaning in again to Arey. "Tights? Shit...you are not allowed to hold this against me, got it? It does not take away from how manly I am." He tried not to laugh. "I'll prove it when you let me take you mountain climbing. Earn back my man cred..."

"I'm British remember, we think Shakespeare is sexy. I wouldn't hold a pair of tights against you." Arey said winking back. "But if you want to get all sweaty and flex your muscles for me on a mountain I won't complain either."

Tim grinned and turned very red. He cleared his throat a little. "Good to know..." He couldn't stop smiling. He climbed the stairs, arm around Arey and led her to the couch. "Sit, Arin will bring the pizza when it gets here. Want a drink?" It was then that he realized he didn't actually know where the kitchen was. Theo had brought him tea and Kat, the breakfast his first morning here. Which was what...two days ago? It felt like a lifetime.

Deirdre put a hand on Kat's shoulder. "I'll be back shortly. Make sure they save me a piece okay?" Behind her Arin was coming in with the pizza.

Arin set the pizza on the table, "Dig in folks. Kitchen is through that door, Tim. I've got some beer in my fridge, feel free to help yourselves."

Tim looked over as Arin appeared with the pizza. "I am starving." He sat down, drinks forgotten and opened up the pizza box. He pulled out a slice for Arey and then one for Kat. "Here you go ladies." He looked up at Arin, "Right...I was going to find drinks." He hopped up, taking a bite of pizza as he left.

Arin grabbed a slice and headed to the training room, eating it quickly on the way.

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Deirdre smiled and walked off. She was exhausted and there was time before Arin said he would meet her. She wanted a moment alone, needed a moment alone to let some of the emotion go. Not all but enough to allow her to focus on talking to Arin.

She made her way to the back room and moved to a corner. She sat down hard and for the first time let the emotions break the surface. Tears came accompanied by deep sobs. Deirdre kept picturing her friend, laying there, cut up and lifeless. She was gone. Heather was gone and Deirdre had left her alone to deal with her own things.

Her whole frame shook with the force of the grief though she tried to keep her hand over her mouth to keep from making too much noise. Deirdre gasped and wiped at her face. She didn’t want Arin to see her like this.

Get a handle on yourself. He doesn’t want to deal with this. She shook her head and tried to take a few calming breaths.

Arin finalized the arrangements for dinner and ensured it would be set up for the rest as he was talking with Deirdre. Finally, a half an hour after they arrived, he stepped into the training room. He looked around, finally seeing her, seated, almost hidden.

“D, if you need some more time I’ll make sure no one else comes in. It’s my training room. They have to listen to me.” Arin said softly.

“No. No sorry. I just needed a minute.” She stood and wiped her face. “Guess that means when you put a sword in my hand I am at your command.” Deidre smiled, trying to move past her sadness.

“Command might be too strong a word. I won’t be ordering you around. However, mercy, that I could get behind.” He grinned, also trying to lighten the mood. He knew she had to be hurting.

“So you prefer to listen to people beg for mercy?” She cocked her head a little and then blushed. “I mean not like beg, beg...” Deirdre looked down at her feet. “So that went quickly sideways.”

“It’s fine. Yes, I prefer my opponents to know they are defeated. I’m not a leader. I don’t command people to obey me. I teach them to the best of their abilities. I suggest tactics. I improve their intelligence under pressure. But I don’t command. So, mercy is preferable to obedience.” He was matter of fact. This was his training room. In here, he was a teacher.

She nodded slowly. “I will remember that when you are kicking our butts.”

Her smile fell away. “I just wanted to thank you, for the phone and all...I couldn’t deal with talking to them or the umpteen billion worried texts and voicemails. I know I have to face them at some point but in the car was not that time.”

“You don’t have to. That’s part of what I meant when I mentioned disappointment. You have support of a bunch of us now. You don’t have to face them alone. You just have to let us know that you want something other than what they are asking. I’m not going to presume I know best for you, but if you ask for help, I will be right there.” Arin was quite straight forward. There was nothing in his voice that gave doubt to his statements.

“I don’t want to go with them.” Her tone of voice matched his. “I don’t want them to come and take me away or tell me what to do. I don’t want anyone to.”

“I can’t promise they won’t try to tell you. But there’s no way I... we, will let you go with them against your will. Stand up for yourself and you will have all the support you need. They come to take you against your will, they might be surprised.” Arin smiled encouragingly.

Deirdre looked at her feet for a moment. Very slowly she looked up at Arin. She returned his smile. “That means a great deal to know I actually have support and help.”

“No matter how things work or don’t, there is no question you will have my support. I think there are others who would agree, but I’m not them.”

Every time Arin mentioned not deciding things for others or knowing what was best she felt like someone was stabbing her in the stomach. “Arin....about what happened, in the car....I know I did those things to you. Doubted where your actions were coming from and all the rest of it. I came here thinking I could just force you and Arey together and it would fix everything. You tried to tell me, to show me and I didn’t fully appreciate your actions. When you moved away from me, in your apartment because I couldn’t, because you didn’t want either of us to be clouded by the past...I never really thanked you. I won’t tell you who I think you should be with, or if you should be with anyone. I....”

She pulled on her shirt a little.

Arin noticed her pause, “Look, you did what anyone would do. Actually, there’s never been anyone in the situation you’re in now, so who knows what anyone else would have done. I doubted my actions as much as you did for a time. But I did know for damn sure that unless I didn’t doubt I would not follow through. It’s easier for me. I said the same to Tim. I’ve been doing this longer. I shouldn’t expect any of you to process it at the same level as I am. But I did. That’s not fair. You don’t have to thank me. I did nothing special. I just didn’t take advantage.”

He paused briefly, “Thank you for not telling me who I should or should not be with. I don’t know any of you very well yet. But I think you are all good people. I can see myself liking all of you. Does that mean more than that? I’m going to try to make sure you have as much choice in determining that as I do.” He shrugged, “Really, that’s the best I can do.”

“All I wanted was choice and I sort have forgot to make sure others had theirs as well. Look, I want to get to know you. I do. Take that as you will. You seem interesting and nice and I know that you haven’t been trying to pull anything with Arey or I. You are figuring it out too. I don’t want to know the roles we once had, I already deal with that enough in my head. I’d prefer to have friends. Today I lost the only one I ever had.” She shrugged a little.

Arin felt gutted. Here was this woman who needed somebody, anybody to comfort her and he felt like she was off limits. He felt helpless, trying to provide something for her without crossing this stupid line caused by a life he barely remembered. It wasn’t fair to her at all, “Not the only one. Or, at least any more. But I understand what you mean... I can’t pretend to imagine what you’re going through.”

Deirdre almost broke down, almost started to cry but caught herself. She wrapped her arms about her body. “I’ll be fine, I just don’t want you to think all I see is the past. When you kissed me, it had nothing to do with her. I very much enjoyed that as Deirdre. I told you, first time a man has kissed me and it was really nice. I liked that Arin did it and I knew that, never doubted it.”

Arin barely knew what to do with himself. He started pacing slowly in front of Deirdre, trying hard to contain the emotions, “D... I have no doubts you’ll be fine. You are stronger than anyone I’ve seen at handling adversity. I wish I could offer you more. If your memory of your first kiss is pleasant, then I’ll take the compliment. It was me, and I really don’t know how best to proceed from here.”

She shook her head, “Not asking for more.” She interjected though she wasn’t sure he heard.

Deirdre frowned a little. “How best to proceed is by doing what makes Arin comfortable and happy. If that means limiting everyone’s relationship to you as teacher and student right now, so be it. Maybe in the future you can add friendship in there. I am not asking for anything, I just wanted you to know that I don’t only see Lancelot. You talk to me and I know it isn’t him. I know I don’t show it or act on it but I do know. I just hate knowing that you feel so forgotten behind the expectations. I know what that is like, I know how painful that is. More than just dealing with her in my head, I know where you are coming from.” She sighed. “I am not very good at this, I think I missed making my point.”

Arin stopped his pacing and chuckled, “Welcome to the club. Verbosity is my curse.”

The smile faded, “I don’t want to exclude friendship. But no one can tell the difference. D... there’s nothing more that I want to do right now than comfort you, as a friend. But I know, anything I do, anything, will be judged out of context. Maybe not by you. By your words, you understand. But that must mean you understand why I am struggling so much with this.”

She nodded, “It is why I wanted to talk to you. Everything we do together will be watched and criticized. I have to stand over here because going over there to hug you while you are struggling would send the wrong message to anyone who sees. I get it. I just can’t have you thinking no one understands. If it means standing here and watching you struggle than I will suck it up. I know what it is like to be alone. So I am here, I can’t be there but you aren’t alone.”

Arin closed his eyes, “The one who understands the most is the one I have to keep the furthest from me. Dammit. Stupid bad romance novels. I promise, the struggle isn’t so bad that you need worry. I can handle it. I have for a long time. I want you to find the comfort you need.”

Deirdre smiled, though it was a sad smile. “And so I too have to keep the person who would understand the furthest away. You let me know how that goes for you standing over there and I will let you know how it goes over here. We can compare notes on what it is like to watch and not be able to actually do anything.”

Arin chuckled, “Yeah, I have detailed notes. They go like this. Fucking sucks. I think that’s the end. Oh, wait. Life sucks, deal with it. I can’t let myself wallow. I need to be who I am. I really hope you can be who you are. I will always be there to support you when you choose that. Even if it’s from a few feet away. Remember that, D. You are who you want to be.”

“I will keep that in mind. No wallowing.” She walked over to him. “I should probably call my parents before they send the police after me.” Deirdre stopped so that she was less than an arm’s length away. She put her hand out for her phone. “Doesn’t get that much easier from here either.” Her laugh was humorless.

Arin took a deep breath as he reached into his pocket and pulled out Deirdre’s phone, “Not even a little. Are you sure you don’t want me to talk to them. I have quite a few pent up feelings that could really use an outlet.” He grinned as he handed her the phone.

Deirdre smiled, her eyes sparkling. “And who would you say you were? A guy on my phone would have them going ballistic. Perfect princess’ don’t have men answer their phones or call their parents for them. Though I would love to watch their heads explode if you did.”

“Do you know a perfect princess? I know Deirdre. I don’t expect perfection, she is fine the way she is. Head explosions are underrated. Good for the sinuses.” Arin was having a hard time leaving Deirdre to her parents’ devices. Obviously she wasn’t going to have an easy time.

Deirdre laughed and slowly removed her phone from Arin’s hand. She wished she could just take his hand, just hold it for a moment so he’d know but she couldn’t, she knew that. “They expect perfection and I don’t know the person they think I am. Right now I just need them to simmer down and this is going to be a nightmare but I will get through it. No explosions necessary.”

“This isn’t the time I referred to when I mentioned disappointment. You are far from it. If they can’t see that, it’s on them.” Arin forced himself to take a step back, “There are more private locations if you wish.”

Deirdre shook her head. She watched him step away, heard the formality come back to his words. Way it has to be. “Here is fine unless you’d prefer I leave the space. I don’t really know a better spot. It is just a phone call.” Her words lacked confidence, she tried to smile.

“Simple, right?” Arin didn’t believe it for a second. “You’re fine here. I’ll let someone know to come check on you in a bit.” He looked up at her sorrowfully, “I would.... I’m off to take a ride though. I need some.... time.”

“I know.” Deirdre nodded and again tried to smile. “I hope you find some peace or closure or answers while you are out there.” She looked down at the phone. “Now or never right?”

“No time like the present.” Arin agreed as he turned. He left the room heavily, but steadily. Peace, temporarily. Answers, maybe. Closure, not likely.

“Hi mom...mom please stop yelling....” Deidre sank to the floor on her knees. She glanced over as Arin left the room. “Mom...If you want me to talk you have to stop yelling at me. Stop crying.”
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Tim came back with some bottles of water and pop. "Here, I didn't feel like running off to Arin's apartment for beer. Later?" He looked at Arey, questioningly.

"Thank you." Arey said accepting the bottle of water. "Tempting as that is, I don't think alcohol consumption would be wise at the moment." She declined. Drinking was for pubs and friends, and celebrations, not trying to forget ones problems. That's how alcoholism starts.

"I'll take one." Kat joked as she nibbled on her pizza on the other side of the couch, resisting giving the two of them the stink eye for sitting so close.

Tim looked over at Kat, "Not a chance." He smiled. "I was thinking beers later or maybe another time..." Eyeing Arey a little, Tim sat back on the couch, taking another slice of pizza with him. "How's that wound feel?" He pointed towards her stomach before taking a bite. He wondered where Vivienne was and where Arin went. Tim frowned realizing that Deirdre was missing as well. No jumping to conclusions, Arin said he was staying away from them. Space and all that. Likely just a coincidence or they are getting something or... He tried to stop his mind from wandering.

The wound felt uncomfortable, but not in the way Tim would probably expect. The was the dull pain which was normal there, but the wound itself felt like it was pulsing, as if somehow alive. It was a pretty disturbing sensation, but she didn't know how to explain it. "I'm fine." Arey tried to assure. She took another bite from the slice, though she really didn't feel like eating.

Tim nodded. "So the girl in the morgue...Deirdre's friend? You are sure it was her you saw?" He lowered his voice, a calmer lower tone and placed a hand on hers, holding it lightly.

"You don't really forget the face of someone you watch being murdered." Arey replied, her eyes focusing on something far away. "She was covered in those marks, I remember her screaming when he made them." Her voice trembled a bit before she cleared her throat and tried to sit up straighter. As if that would help banish the image from her mind. Arey squeezed Tim's hand back, silently grateful for the support.

Kat felt bad for Arey, she really did. She understood seeing things you wish you could unsee, more so than a lot of people. In that moment however, all she could see was Arey and Tim holding hands, and it pushed a very deep seeded button in her that made her want to growl and do something violent. For the moment she just stared at the locked hands with blank intensity.

"Hey, we are gonna stop him you know." Tim shifted a little closer to Arey. "Vivienne will be able to help us find him and we will get the bastard." He smiled gently. "He obviously has issues."

He released her hand and brushed a piece of her hair from her face. "Guess I will have to take a rain check on the running and mountain climbing until that is all healed up. Once Viv finally gets here and we give her all the info we should probably all get some rest. I bet you are exhausted after all that has gone on."

Tim looked at Kat, "Where is Viv?"

"That would be an understatement." Arey agreed as she managed a weak smile. "No, I'm definitely going running tomorrow." She said when he talked about a rain check. Running helped her clear her head, it was almost religious for her. "He's not going to take that from me too." Arey said resolved.

"That's the spirit!" Kat explained with a grin that was a little too wide and forced as she wedged her way in between Tim and Arey on the couch. "We'll stop creepy magic guy, and then we'll get back down to the saving the world business." Kat agreed as she gave Arey a comforting one armed hug, effectively killing two birds with one stone.

Tim opened his mouth but didn't say anything as Kat plopped herself between them. He leaned forward so he could see Arey. 'Alright, sounds good. Tomorrow, you and I, it's a date. We run and when we come back we will be ready to tackle anything." He smiled at her.

Tim patted Kat's leg. "Glad to have you back, can you go grab Viv? The sooner we tell her everything the sooner Arey can get to bed." He gave her a nod. "Then you can maybe give me a clue as to what you have in mind as my punishment? Or at least let me actually apologize?"

The word 'date' made Kat practically twitch in annoyance. The dismissal of her so he could continue making goo goo eyes at Arey also did not sit well, and she sure as hell wasn't about to move. "Magic of smart phones." Kat said flatly as she shot out a quick text to Viv. "She'll be down in a minute."

Arey suppressed a smile, recognizing the signs of territorial jealousy when she saw it. It seemed Arin's little sister had a bit of a crush on Tim.

"Thanks half pint." Tim smiled at Kat. "Figures I yell for her and nothing, you text and wham she heads down."

He shifted to sit back on the couch. He was happy. Arey and he were going to be running partners. The prospect of the physical exertion made him look forward to the next morning. "What time do you want to go out at Arey? I am an early riser but I have other things I can do if you want to sleep in. I am really excited to go running with you."

"You want to start at six then?" Arey suggested. She liked running in the cooler morning air, but it wasn't so early that there wouldn't be any light out.

"She said she was working on something. Don't take it too personally, she kind of just disappears sometimes. She'd never longer than a week though." Kat explained as she typed away on her phone. "I'm thinking Star Trek booty shorts...what do you think Arey?" Kat said suddenly as she showed Arey her phone.

"There...ah...short?" Arey offered, face turning a little red at the thought of Tim wearing those.

"That'd be the point." Kat said dryly. "Not sure which color to go with though. Kinda tempted to go with the blue one and nab some Spock ears while I'm at it." Kat mused to herself, envisioning making Tim play Spock to her Captain Kirk in that outfit made her grin triumphantly in satisfaction.

Tim turned red and leaned forward to reach for Kat's phone. "Short shorts? What? Spock ears? Kat what are you planning?" He tried to snatch the device from her. "Come on show me. Arey help me here. Kat, let's be a bit reasonable okay? I will get down on my knees and apologize."

"What happened to Robin?" Arey asked curiously, more than a little amused as she ignored Tim's plea.

"That's still on the table, but now that I think about it, I kind of want to make a calendar. You know, exploit all the options. I'm feeling creative today, I shouldn't limit it." Kat said grinning.

"Can I get a copy?" Arey joked with a chuckle at the girl's confidence.

"Don't worry Tim, I'm sure a few shots can involve you on your knees." Kat said with a smile too innocent looking to be sincere. "A little kinky, but I can work with that."

"Robin? Calendar? Oh come on...." Tim put his head in his hands. "Arey, I said help me..." His face was red. "You are really going to humiliate me aren't you Kat?"

"Not if you enjoy it." Kat said with a wink as she pulled up the earlier text conversation with Arin. "I have written agreement, twenty four consecutive hours of unquestioned servitude. I pick the when, and decide what we do. You show up and comply with every demand in that twenty four hour period." Kat reminded after combing through the text. "I'm still working on the safe word."

Arey nearly choked on her pizza. "You agreed to that?" She asked incredulously.

Tim glared at Kat, "Arin negotiated it and it was the only way to get Kat to answer her stupid phone. Yes, yes I agreed to that." He sighed. "Fine, fine...no more complaining."

He slumped a little. "Alright Kat, whatever you say. I was a giant ass and deserve whatever you dish out." Tim gave Arey a small smile. "I really need to work on thinking more before I talk. Still on for running though. Six works great and I expect us both to work up a good sweat."

Arin came into the room and chuckled at he sight of them all crowded on the couch, "There is a lot of furniture around." He started toward the hall to his apartment, "D is talking to her parents. I don't expect it to be a good conversation. Can someone go in and check on her in a bit?"

"Relax toots." Kat said shifting over until she was sitting on Tim's lap and grinned up. "I'm the forgiving type. And if the pictures turn out reeeeal well, I'll be inclined to keep 'em for myself. Can't be humiliated if no one else sees them."

"I'll do it." Arey volunteered. She got the feeling that the conversation between Kat and Tim might become a bit personal, and she felt the need to make sure Deirdre was alright regardless. So standing up, she waved at the two and wondered off to find Deirdre. "See you at six then." She said in parting.

Tim looked a little uncomfortable as Kat climbed into his lap, "Okay Arey, six it is!"

He awkwardly put his one hand on Kat's back. "Whatever you say Kat." Tim smiled. "I am glad you are back and I am sorry I was such an asshole. It was like I couldn't stop talking."

"Yeah little bit." Kat agreed as she shifted her legs so that she was straddling his lap now instead. "If it means I get to dress you up in skimpy nerd costumes and parade you around my room though, I think I can deal with it." Kat's smile was a little more predatory.

Tim grew very red, "Uh Kat...." He put his hands up in the air to avoid touching her in any way that might be taken as improper. "You probably shouldn't um..." Stinky socks...stinky socks...

"Yup, hey whatever you want me to dress up as. Could you maybe..." He tried not to shift or move under her.

"Shouldn't what?" Kat asked cheekily as she wound her arms around Tim's neck and shifted her hips a bit in his lap in pretense of getting comfortable.

Tim looked up at the ceiling. "Kat you shouldn't be in my lap like this. Do you know how this might look?" Sweaty, sweaty socks. Smelly locker rooms. "So Robin costume and killers on the loose...crazy stuff right?"

"Like we're enjoying ourselves?" Kat quipped. "Most guys would relax and enjoy the view." She said with a wink. "I think you're going to need to readjust your version of crazy toots. Not to say serial killers are everyday things, but dude you haven't even seen pixies yet."

"Kat, I can get into a lot of trouble for..." Tim's ears were burning. "Enjoying this. Vivienne will skin me. Come on, I get it...I was a jerk." He kept his hands up in the air. "How about you sit on the couch and tell me about them." He breathed out slowly.

"Legal age of consent's sixteen, so you've got about a month for that to remain a valid excuse." Kat replied smoothly as her fingers worked their way gently through his hair. "Vivienne's more likely to be pissed off at me for harassing you than the other way around toots. You couldn't take advantage of me if you tried." She continued smirking. "And my enjoyment of this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you were a complete jerk this morning."

Tim held his breath as Kat's fingers went into his hair. "Kat." He tried to smile. "I-I, say maybe we go find D too or Arin...or Arey...." Where was Vivienne? Where was anyone else? He couldn't tell her that she was a kid and it wasn't okay, he tried to do that gently already.

"As a jerk though I should pay big time right? I mean you should be ignoring me, make me worry about what you are going to do to punish me, more costume talk..."

"And ruin the surprise? You won't blush nearly as red if you know what's coming beforehand." Kat teased. "I noticed you were getting chummy with Arey." Kat acknowledged with a slight note of displeasure showing up in her voice before she masked it under humor and her usual racy teasing. "That mean you two are finally up for that blondey sandwich?" She asked leaning in closer.

Tim looked shocked. "Oh uh no just offering my support. She had a really bad day you know. Woke up with a carving in her stomach, watched a murder...kind of takes its toll on a person. I wanted to be there for her. Team and all." He leaned back a little as Kat came closer.

"Kat..." He whispered her name. She was pushing the teasing much further than normal and he didn't know what to do.

"Yeah, and being a team player for that kind of thing is grabbing a blanket and a box of tissues and talking about it. I know what flirting looks like." Kat replied flatly as she sighed in frustration when she watched Tim shrink away again.

Tim frowned. Holy fuck...she is jealous? He felt terrible. "Look Kat, I'm allowed to flirt a little right? I didn't mean to upset you. Arey and I are just getting to know each other, flirting happens." Why am I defending myself to her? Arey's beautiful. Kat's... He looked her over and realized he hadn't really looked at her closely. She is young and pretty. Too young. Vivienne will shoot you, she will and she is scary.

In other words none of my business. Kat saw it the second the thought crossed his mind. He saw her as a child, and he was never going to take her or anything she tried to initiate seriously, she could see it in his eyes. For one brief moment, Kat's whole demeanor crumpled into misery before she quickly schooled it under a mask of indifference.

"Who said you upset me?" Kat said standing up. This wasn't fun anymore, and she just wanted to wallow alone in her room. "Got it, I'm not your keeper." She said turning on her heel to head back to her room. She wasn't hunger anymore either.

Tim frowned. "Kat!" He watched her walk away. "God damn it..." He put his head in his hands. "Big mouth strikes again." How had that gone that badly? He was doing the right thing. He stood up and stomped off towards Arin's apartment.

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Deirdre was still on her knees, her phone at her ear. "I am not coming home. No I don't want you to come get me. Dad...dad please tell mom to stop...I am going to hang up now. I really, really need to go. I can't handle....No I am not drinking..."

She was shaking. The conversation was going on much longer than she wanted. There was no escaping it though, they were far too worked up to be brushed off.

"I am fine. I am going to class, I have friends..." She choked a little on the words. "I need to go. We can talk later."

Deirdre growled, "I am hanging up now! Do not come here and I am not coming home." She hit end on the phone and put her hands to her face. She started crying. It came in such a rush that she wasn't sure it would ever stop.

Arey listened to the tail end of Deirdre's phone call from the hallway, heart heavy as she pieced together a bit of Deirdre's relationship with her parents. Controlling with a side of emotional black mail...sounds familiar.

Arey wanted to give D her space, allow her to stand on her own as she told her parents no. The first time was always hardest, and she needed to do it herself. As soon as the call ended however, and the sound of Deirdre's sobs came through the doorway, Arey bolted to her side. If she couldn't take any of the pain away, at least she could be something to hold onto.

Someone was by her side and Deirdre turned and wrapped her arms around the person. Her whole body was shaking. She clung tightly to them. It hurt. Everything hurt. Her chest heaved.

"I've got you, don't worry." Arey said gently as she held on to Deirdre, rocking them both slowly. "Whatever you need, get it all out." Arey continued, rubbing a hand soothingly on her back.

Deirdre let Arey hold her. She tried to get the sobs to slow down but the day had finally gotten to her. "I-can't-get-her-face-out-of..." Deirdre hugged Arey tighter. She choked and gasped.

She was trying to stop, to come back to the present. There was a lot of other things to focus on and her grief and frustration was not one of them. "I'm sorry..." Her face buried itself into Arey's neck.

"You have nothing to be sorry about." Arey replied fiercely. "You did nothing wrong ok. Whatever you need to do now, don't worry about it ok. It's your turn for someone to listen and give you what you need."

Deirdre moved back a little to look at Arey. "I need to...." She didn't know what she needed. She was upset, she was angry, she was frustrated. She hugged Arey again once more. Her tears soaked Arey's shirt at the shoulder. It went on for a few more minutes before she was finally too tired to keep crying.

Deirdre hiccupped. She sniffled and shifted so that her cheek rested on Arey's shoulder. A few more deep breaths and she was much calmer. "Thank you." She choked out the words followed by another sniffle. "Thank you for being here."

"Of course." Arey whispered, not letting go of her hold. "Do you want to talk about it? Believe it or not, I've got a bit of experience when it comes to difficult relations with parents." She offered gently.

Deirdre closed her eyes. "Yes...maybe....I don't know." She hugged Arey a little tighter. Deirdre took a shuddering breath. "I should let you go rest and eat." She felt muddled and scared. Everything was overwhelming. "You need to relax, you have had a long day."

"And so did you." Arey argued back gently. "Besides, I'm not really hungry anyway." She confided. The last thing she felt like doing was sleep either. She had a feeling any dreams she had tonight were not likely to be pleasant.

Deirdre pulled away. "Do you want to go someplace more comfortable? This floor is cold." She smiled to look happier. "I would like to shower, change my clothes...maybe talk later."

"Whatever you need." Arey agreed, standing up and helping Deirdre up as well. "Should we just use Kat's room? I think It would be weird using Arin's apartment, even if he's not here." Arey asked.

D stood. "I don't know. Kat's room might be crowded. I can sleep on the floor. Arin's...." She frowned. "Kat's room is best." She took Arey's hand. "Means a lot that you came to check on me."

"Well umm...if it's not too awkward we can just share the bottom bunk?" Arey suggested sheepishly. She didn't like the idea of Deirdre sleeping on the floor, but she didn't think Deirdre would let her offer to take it either. It seemed like the most logical option...

Deidre smiled weakly, "Sure, better than either on the floor right? Shower, pj's and bed...I don't want to be alone right now."

"You won't be." Arey promised taking Deirdre's hand as they walked back to Kat's room. Arey was a little surprised to see Kat there when they came in, but the teenager was brooding on the top bunk with headphones on, she Arey figured she would not be welcomed to comment.

Deirdre didn't let Arey's hand go as they walked. She was drained and exhausted. She knew that tomorrow would bring more conversations with her parents but for now it was quiet.

"Do you want first shower?" Arey asked Deirdre. She figured they should draw the line pretty firmly at sharing those, though a niggling little part in the back of her head that she was beginning to recognize as Arthur heartily disagreed. The sensation was weird, so she ignored it with gusto.

Grabbing her bag from the floor she nodded. "If you are sure you don't mind." She felt a bit like a ghost, drifting from one room to the other. She was only vaguely aware of Kat's presence in the room. Her eyes were on Arey. "I will try not to take too long." Deirdre wanted to shower but she also wanted to go to Arey and bury her face in her neck again. It was hard, when she was so emotional vulnerable to keep Guinevere at bay. The draw was harder to ignore and Deirdre wasn't sure she had the fight in her right now to do it.

"Yeah, that's fine." Arey reassured gently as she released Deirdre's hand to let her go take her shower. She felt like is she didn't let go of the other girl now, she never would, and some hot water and time to process would do them both a lot of good.

Deirdre nodded and headed to the bathroom. The shower was hot. The bathroom steamy as she tried to let the day go. There were more tears but they were quieter. When she stepped out Deirdre felt like there was no energy left in her body. She pulled on a tank top and a pair of shorts.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Deirdre Evering Character Portrait: Timothy Matheson Character Portrait: Arianna Marie Trescott Character Portrait: Katrina "Kat" Rivera Character Portrait: Eärendil Ablach
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Footnotes

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INK

"All done." Deirdre came out of the bathroom, brush in hand and wet hair hanging down her back. "Your turn." She smiled at Arey, tiredly.

By then, Kat had taken out her earphones and was staring moodily at the ceiling. Arey wanted to ask what had happened, but didn't know how well received the question might be, so she left it alone. When Deirdre came out of the bathroom, Arey stood and grabbed her bag.

"Ok, I'll try to be quick." Arey promised with a slight smile as she headed into the bathroom.

Deidre looked up at Kat. "Want to give me a hand?" She held up her brush. "I don't think I have the energy to get the brush through my hair. I refuse to cut it though. Silly I know, you'd think I'd want to make it all gone but I like it and I finally get to wear it out."

She sat down on the lower bunk with a sigh. "Can tomorrow be better? Is there some way we can make that happen?"

"Sure." Kat said simply, swinging her legs over the bunk and plopping down before taking up the brush. When D asked about tomorrow being better, Kat just shrugged.

"You are unusually quiet. What's up?" Deirdre closed her eyes and let Kat brush her hair. "Not in the mood for a slumber party? Don't worry I am too tired for pillow fights. That is what goes on right? Never been to one."

"Me either." Kat replied as she gently stroked D's hair with the brush. "Being fifteen sucks ass. No one every takes you seriously. I might as well walk around in pig tails and frilly sundresses for all anyone ever looks at me." Kat could help getting out.

"No one takes you seriously? I think you are way more mature than any of us. Where is this coming from? Where is the kick ass girl who tried to get me to see who I was, who tried to fight off those weird women? Where did Batman go?" Deirdre reached back and grabbed Kat's free hand. "What's with all the doubt? I thought that was my job."

"She got demoted to Batgirl by Robin." Kat sulked. "And I don't doubt myself, I'm just tired of being a teenager and treated like I'm fragile. Hell, I'm almost sixteen, I'm barely two years younger than you guys, but he's got no problem making goo goo eyes with the coeds!" Kat said in frustration.

"You are gonna have to help me here...I don't know who Robin or Batgirl are..." Deirdre frowned. "He? Who is...Oh...you are talking about Tim aren't you?" Deirdre turned to face Kat. "Hey, don't let some boy get you out of sorts. Speaking as someone that people treat as fragile and a whopping nineteen years of age I have some advice, some good advice that was given to me. Show him, prove him wrong. He sees some kid, maybe it is because he is worried and being overprotective of everyone so show him he is overreacting."

Deirdre smiled. "Come on there are lots of guys who would love to flirt with you."

"I've really got to assign you some homework." Kat sighed as she reached under the bottom bunk and pulled out a crate filled to the rim with comic books, most of them Batman related.

"How exactly do I do that?" Kat asked miserably. It's not like she could magically make herself look older or something. "You mean like make him jealous?" Kat asked puzzled when she mentioned flirting with other guys. Her mind turned briefly to the guy she'd met earlier at the arcade who'd seemed oddly into her.

"I don't know to be honest....I have never had a boyfriend, never really had a guy's attention." Her cheeks flushed a little. "Minus Arin kissing me today but that isn't the same. I don't think making him jealous will work. If Tim thinks of you a young woman and someone he can't flirt with then you can't make him jealous, he will just be happy for you. Prove to him that you are smarter than he is, tougher and his attention is nice but you don't need it. Sounds good right?" Deirdre shrugged.

"So....I have to read these to know what you are talking about?"

"Pretty much." Kat replied indicating the comic books. It was hard to feel like a superhero when the person you most wanted to acknowledge that fact didn't seem to agree, but she got what D was saying. Maybe she should just swear off dick for a while. Boobs were nice too...

"You know if you're still up for that pillow fight, I'm totally game for some hot chick action." Kat said with a lewd grin and a wink, tired of sharing her self-pity and slipped the cheerful incorrigible teenage sidekick mask back into place.

Deirdre smiled, "Hair first then we can talk pillow fight." She turned her back to Kat again. "I will read the comics, it will give me something to think about other than what is going on outside these walls."

"I'd totally be up for a tickle fight too." Kat said wiggling her eyebrows are she hugged Deirdre from behind.

Deirdre laughed, "After today I don't know that I have the energy for either." She squeezed Kat's arms. "Did Arin make it back from his ride? Do you know?" She was worried about him but tried not to sound too interested or concerned.

"No clue." Kat said honestly. "It might be a while still. He like the freedom of riding." She explained.

"Glad to see you're both looking to be in better spirits." Arey replied as she came out of the bathroom, finished with the shower and brushing her teeth, she'd changed into a pink t-shirt and blue running shorts for pajamas. She walked over toward the bed and sat on the other side, letting Kat and Deirdre finish their hug.

"Letting someone brush your hair for you does wonders for a person as does discussing comics." Deirdre point to the crate. "And how dumb boys can be." She adjusted in Kat's arms a little.

"Which is why we have to dress them up in embarrassingly skimpy outfits and threaten to post them on the internet." Kat chipped in cheerfully, which was almost creepy considering the implication.

"Sounds healthy." Arey replied awkwardly, having seen a couple of those outfits she was talking about. Poor Tim...

"Skimpy outfits? I don't think I want to know." Deirdre slid backwards on the bed till her back was against the wall. "At least these guys actually look at girls. Do you know how few guys like that are in a dance school? Not that you can date or even have time for that but would have been nice sometimes." She sighed a little and yawned.

"Good point." Kat agreed lightly. "Nothing worse than eye candy that's blatantly not interested." She mused thinking of Tim's ass, and then his insanely pretty blue eyes that would normally look weird on a guy but he somehow managed to pull off.

"No, there is something worse...." Deirdre said though mostly to herself. "I am ready for bed...what about you two?"

"Yeah, I'm getting up early tomorrow to run." Arey agreed. Kat shifted enough to let Deirdre go, but didn't leave the bed just yet. "You know if you want, I'm still up for that blondey sandwich..." Kat said suggestively.

Arey cleared her throat as her cheeks flushed. "I-uh don't think..."

Deirdre smiled, "But I'm not blonde. You hiding someone else in here?" She nudged Kat a little. "I think Arey needs a rain check on that sort of thing, her stomach needs to heal." She smiled at Arey.

"Well that's the point sugar bear." Kat said winking. "We're the blondes and you're the tasty chocolate filling." Arey's face looked about as red as a tomato and felt like she might choke on air.

It was Deirdre's turn to blush. "Kat you are amazing." She looked at Arey, her eyes growing wide. "Arey, Arey breathe...Kat you broke her..." She scooted on the bed to kneel next to Arey. "Maybe not tonight, though you paint an interesting picture miss Kat." She took Arey's hand. "Been an emotional roller coaster today."

"I'm...ok." Arey got out, trying to banish the picture of being naked with Deirdre out of her head. So much for not making this weird...

"Why thank you. such flattery and I haven't even gotten to demonstrate my prowess yet." Kat chirped. "Let me know if you two change your minds." Kat said in parting before climbing back to the top bunk.

"Night Kat." Deirdre looked at Arey and whispered, "Hey you want me to sleep on the floor? I don't want to make you uncomfortable..." She gave Arey's hand a light squeeze and with her other hand moved a piece of Arey's damp hair from her face. Every fiber of her core wanted to hug Arey, to lay down and curl up with her. Deirdre tried to stifle the feelings, to stifle the urge. Though refreshed from the shower, emotionally she was still weaker than she'd like and it was harder to hold back.

Arey held her breath for a moment as Deirdre touched her hair. Part of her wanted to wrap her arms around the other woman, pull her in and hold her close throughout the night. To give and receive the physical comfort they both cried out for silently. "No...stay." Arey whispered, not daring to let herself say more.

Deirdre nodded and moved to pull the covers back. She laid out near the wall, "Easier for you to go for your run if you are on the outside." She kept her voice low, just a whisper. Sitting up she reached for Arey's hand and pulled her towards her. "Thank you...I...I really didn't want to be alone. I don't want you to feel awkward though..."

She laid down on the pillow and turned to face Arey. "I hate always feeling alone...with Heather gone I thought I no longer had anyone but...maybe not...she is the only friend I have ever really had. Was...was my only friend.."

"You're not." Arey assured, letting Deirdre pull her closer. "It's not awkward, I just keep feeling like I'll do something that will freak you out. I mean I'm not...you know...but I..." Arey didn't really know how to explain her sudden bursts of attraction and intimacy when she was around Deirdre. She wasn't into women, was fine with those who were, but she'd always been attracted to men before. Arey wasn't really sure how she should deal with this, but at the moment she didn't really have the will to put up a fight.

Deirdre smiled tiredly, "I understand. Trust me...I don't have the energy to worry about it right now though and you won't freak me out. I think we might be beyond that...." She closed her eyes. "Can I do anything to help make you worry less?" She opened her eyes once more, looking into Arey's. "I can tell you again there is nothing at all you can do to make me freak out." Guin was pushing, pushing for closeness, pushing for intimacy and Deirdre needed it, she knew that. Not the way Guin wanted it but she didn't care right now. The closeness, the support, the knowing there was someone there is what mattered. "Would it help or hurt if I held your hand to reassure you?"

"I don't know." Arey replied honesty, taking her hand anyway. The touch tingled, like the skin was somehow electrically charged, and Arey shivered. For once in the past two days, it was the pleasant kind. Arey desperately wished that Deirdre was right, and that whatever was about to happen wouldn't freak either of them out.

Deirdre sighed softly as Arey took her hand. She moved a little closer so that she didn't have to stretch her arm at all to reach. "Nothing hurts so far." She closed her eyes. "We'll be okay. We have to be. There is a lot to do and we can do it, together. I believe in you, in us." Her breathing shuddered a little. Arey smelt of soap and something else that Deirdre couldn't place. The bed was warm and comfortable.

Arey lent over without thinking, and kissed Deirdre's forehead softly. "Always..." She said gently, holding Deirdre in an intimate embrace that neither of them seemed able to break.

"No one's having sex in my room unless I'm involved." Kat called dryly from the top bunk.

Deirdre inhaled as Arey kissed her forehead. She moved closer to her. "Still doesn't hurt." Her arm draped over Arey. "Not everything is about sex..." She said a little louder, hoping to put both Kat and Arey at ease.

There was a connection, a draw to Arey that Deirdre didn't fight. She wanted to be closer, needed to be close to someone. In the back of her mind there was contentment, there was love. Deirdre felt able to really rest for the first time in her life.

"Everyone says that until it is." Kat mumbled, but didn't comment further.

"Good." Arey sighed, feeling exhausted but relaxed, and hoped this night their dreams wouldn't be plagued as they fell asleep in each others arms.

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Tim went into Arin's place and headed right to the fridge. Grabbing a beer he flopped onto the couch. "Women are so frustrating!" He turned the tv on and sat there staring at the screen as he drank.

Today could not have gone worse.

He was on his third beer about forty five minutes later. He was a bit drunk. He was changing the channel on the tv unable to find something to keep his attention.

Arin came back into the apartment, helmet under his arm, dressed in racing leathers, "Hmph. Toss me one of those."

Tim grabbed a beer and tossed it towards Arin. "Today fucking sucked."

Arin caught the beer deftly and put his helmet in the front closet. He popped open the beer and took a long drink to prevent it from over flowing.

He sat down next to Tim, "Yup. What happened to you?"

Tim took a drink. "Well your sister straddled me and I ended up insulting her while being very careful not to insult her. Cause I can't even do that. I put my foot in my mouth so many times....and your sister, man why does she have to do that? I think I made her jealous. How? Why? I am older than she is, she shouldn't be straddling me."

Arin looked at Tim, "You really haven't figured that out yet? Think. What is the common theme every time you've made Kat mad at you?" Arin took another swig of beer, giving Tim time.

"I told her or somehow hinted that she was a kid. But I didn't this time! I swear. She can't go straddling someone! She is fifteen! I can go to jail. She is cute and all but Arin..."

Arin nodded, "You told her that, I bet."

Tim looked over at him, "I didn't say it like that. But she called me out on flirting with Arey and I somehow upset her and it hit me that she was jealous but she really shouldn't be....right?"

Arin scratched his head, a little incredulous, "Tim. She's fifteen. Of course she should be. It was pretty much the only response that made any sense at all."

Tim slumped on the couch and took another drink. "This day fucking sucked."

"You should have went for a ride before drinking. Can't let you do it now." Arin turned back to the T.V. and took another long drink.

"I don't ride." He sighed. 'I think Arey is the only sane one. Where'd you go before your ride?" He looked at Arin. "D disappeared too."

"D asked to talk. I'm not about to say no to her for that."

"Thought you were staying away from both of them? Hey all the power to you if you can figure one of them out." Tim shook his head. "Kiss her again?"

Arin looked at Tim again, noted the empties around him, "You get that one because you've been drinking. I suggest you refocus your line of questioning and try again."

Tim nodded, "D okay?"

"Much better. Yes and no. She is not going to be having a fun time with her parents. But she wants to stay. That's a positive change." Arin finished his beer.

"Arey went to go check on her. I should have gone but Kat..." Tim took the last drink of his beer. "You aren't having an easy time either I guess. Bed. I am getting up at six to go running with Arey." Tim stood, wobbling a little. "Just gonna clean up."

"Sure man. I'm fine. I figured out where I need to be. It'll be... interesting. But I have something to focus on. Don't exhaust yourself on the run. I have your first lessons all planned out. Yes, plural." Arin stood up and went toward his bedroom door.

"No worries. Plan to get sweaty and warmed up." Tim cleaned up the cans and then flopped onto the couch. "Is your place, where you need to be better than where I am? Cause your sister is frustrating man..." He closed his eyes.

Arin shrugged, "Grass is always greener. Sleep on it. Kat is Kat. Not all bad to be liked by someone."

"I know. I know. I like being liked cause I was an ass..." Tim rolled to his side. "You like to be liked...D likes you. Arey…has nice hair. She is awesome..." He fell asleep.

"You got it." Arin said as he opened his door, shaking his head.

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Tim woke up and though not hung over he certainly wasn't feeling entirely one hundred percent. He groaned as he sat up and ran his hands through his hair. He hadn't even bothered to undress, simply laid out and fell asleep. He rolled his neck, stretching stiff muscles as he stood and headed to the bathroom, grabbing his bag to take with him.

He was happy to find workout clothes in the bag along with his toiletries. He wondered how Viv had gotten in and what she had told his roommates if they had even seen her that is. Tim washed his face, brushed his teeth and pulled on clothes for running. Tying his shoes he was out the door and done in the bat cave just before six.

The next morning, Arey awoke to find her limbs intertwined with another’s. There hadn't been any nightmares, for which she was eternally grateful, and seeing Deirdre's sleeping face next to her was a far more pleasant experience, if a bit confusing. She removed herself from the bed gently, so as not to wake up Deirdre or Kat, and shuffled to the bathroom to go through her morning routine. By the time she had finished, Arey had slipped on her running shoes and put her hair up in a high ponytail before leaving Kat's room quietly for the main chamber. Tim was already there when she entered, and Arey managed a sleepy greeting as she began to stretch.

Tim smiled as he watched Arey come down the hall. "Morning, sleep well?"

"Very." Arey replied with a smile as she spread her legs and bent over the right. "Did you? Kat seemed a little glum when we came back. I didn't know if you both had had a row, but you seem to take it hard when that happens."

Tim watched as Arey bent over and silently wished he was behind her. He gave his head a shake, cheeks turning pink. "Me...well I fell asleep, a bit drunk on Arin's couch so....yes?" He let out a slow exhale when she mentioned Kat. "She was laying on the flirting a little thick and I was trying to you know...not end up in jail for accidentally doing something with a minor and she got upset. I think she was jealous because we were talking. I don't get it. I mean, she teases and stuff but maybe she is just mad cause I was treating her like a kid. Which I wasn't just as a minor. You know cause she was in my lap and straddling me and that is so not something I want people to misunderstand. I was not taking advantage."

"If it makes you feel better she propositioned Deirdre and I both last night...at the same time." Arey said clearing her throat. "I'm sure she'll be alright. We’ve all had crushes we acted batty for at that age. Can't blame you for trying to be noble." Arey said with an understanding smile as she switched to the left leg.

Tim nodded, "Thanks..." His words came out automatically but his thoughts were centered around the women and a bed. Tim looked away from Arey, afraid that his thoughts were readable on his face. "Glad to know she will be okay. I like her, I do. She is really cool, just not really a good thing to flirt. You on the other hand." He turned giving her a smile.

With a chuckle he gestured to the door. "Ready? I will leave you in the dust. Don't think I am gonna slow myself just cause you are a girl. I have a feeling you are way tougher and faster than most."

"You are welcome to try." Arey teased in return as they headed out the door. "I'm not planning to go easy on you either. Care to make this race interesting?" Arey asked with a raised brow.

"You mean something more interesting than watching you stretch? Sure, name it." Tim smiled, arms crossed.

Arey chuckled. "Flatter all you like, but I'm still going to leave you in the dust." Arey smiled. "I was thinking more like a bet. Any suggestions for the terms?"

"No Robin outfits...no short shorts. Other than that....Dinner, you and me." He felt daring all of a sudden.

"From what I heard that's in the works either way." Arey joked. "Done. And if I win, which is the entirely more likely option, what should I get?" She teased.

"Well, what do you want?" Tim smiled. "I am at your service."

"Hmmm." Arey mused for a moment. "I'll let you know after I win." Arey decided. "No short shorts, no costumes, I promise."

Tim looked at Arey with mock concern. "Alright, I guess I can trust you." He took off to the door. "Come on slow poke!"

Arey grinned as she took off behind him, determined to close the early gap. "Say that after you've lost." Arey challenged.
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Forty minutes later, Arey finished their race in a full out sprint toward their finish point at the central fountain in the middle of alumni garden at Ambrose. The campus wasn't far at all from the electronics store that serves as their entrance back into the real world, and the campus itself had some excellent running routes. Central Park was her favorite place to run, but the athletic side of campus was a close second, especially near the gardens.

"I won." Arey panted once she reached the fountain, grin splitting her face wide. "Good run, you had me on my toes there for a while." She complimented before taking a drink from the water fountain.

Tim ran and slowed as they approached the fountain. He took a bunch of deep breaths but was smiling broadly. "Great run and yes I concede defeat to you. What would you like for your hard won victory and know that I will be better next time." He had his hands on his hips, moving his legs a little to keep them from growing stiff.

"Ice skating." Arey said after a moment, thinking it over. "I've always wanted to try, but I've never had the chance. Think you can teach me how to skate?" She remembered Tim said he played hockey, and she thought it might be something they'd both enjoy. And if they happened to grab dinner together after that, well everyone won then she thought smiling.

"Oh..." Tim inhaled slowly. He looked uncomfortable for a moment. "Arey, I-" He took a deep breath. "Sure Arey. We can do that." He looked at the ground. Tim really wanted to take her out, do something fun with her but he didn't have the heart to tell her he hadn't stepped foot on the ice since the accident. "I might be a bit rusty though." Tim looked up at Arey and smiled. "I would love the chance to take you on the ice." It has been long enough. She has never been. I want to do that for her.

"You sure?" Arey asked concerned. She hadn't expected the hesitation, she'd thought it could be something fun to do together that he was good at. Maybe I should stop trying to be creative with my choose of dates. Arey thought sullenly. Last time I picked the venue things didn't end well either.[i/]

"Perfectly sure. I just..." Tim sat on the fountain. "I haven't skated since the accident. I kind of...I don't know felt like I didn't deserve to go back there. I had to learn to walk again and others weren't as lucky. I just looked at the ice as a place I lost." Tim rubbed his legs. "That being said the chance to take a pretty girl out is enough to make me realize that it has been long enough. I [i]want
to take you out on skates Arey. I'd love the chance to see you laughing as we try and get you to glide around. I just psyched myself out a little." He looked up at her. "Not you at all, I don't want you to think I wasn't sure about you. My own past and that needs to stay in the past." Tim smiled. "You, me and some skates. I love it."

Arey listened to him a little in awe. He'd taught himself to walk again, which was amazing in itself, and here he was racing with her and proving an actual challenge. "Do you have any idea how incredible you are?" Arey blurted without thinking. She felt horrible at first, thinking she was pressuring him into something he wasn't ready for, but his reassurances helped put her a little at ease. "Ok then. I'll be sure to cling to your arm the entire time as I try not to fall on my face." Arey promised.

Tim turned beet red. "I can't think of anything I'd like better than you on my arm as I hold you up." He managed to get the words out with only a little difficulty. She had floored him with her statement. "We do this soon...like tomorrow night. I will make some calls okay? I don't want to wait, I don't want us to get caught up on something. Maybe tonight...do you want to go tonight?" Tim was a bit flustered, both from her exclamation and from his own eagerness to take her out. He stood and smiled. "You say when and I will make it happen."

Tim couldn't remember the last time he'd been this excited and even the thought of getting on the ice, the small bit of nagging guilt couldn't bring him down in this moment.

His excitement was contagious. "Tonight's good, why not?" Arey grinned, happy to see him look so happy. "Think we'll be sore after Arin's training session?" Ask asked humorously. "I believe he promised us quite the thrashing with wooden swords."

Tim grimaced, "He promised me a thrashing many times over with the sword. You not so much. I bet he works us hard but I will ignore every bit of pain for a date with you. It will be worth it. I will make those calls as soon as we get back. I got a few friends who can make things happen." He smiled once again. "I am glad you beat me. Maybe you will even let me treat you to a hot chocolate after. Tradition you know."

"Well I simply cannot allow than now can I?" Arey teased in reply. "I will of course endeavor to defend you fair Sir from the assault of our tyrannical swords master." She finished saddling up beside him. As the talk turned to coco, Arey's smile was more carefree. "You've to but say the word chocolate, and I'll be putty in your hands." She joked in easy agreement.

Tim raised an eyebrow, "Putty in my hands...I like it. You shall have your chocolate, have no fear." He grabbed her hand, "Oddly I am totally okay with you defending me from Arin though I do deserve quite a few of those hits." He pulled her lightly, "Come on, I have a whole new burst of energy now that my evening is looking so amazing."

"Looking to get beaten twice in one morning are you?" Arey teased as she let Tim pull her up. She was looking forward to tonight as well, and the thought helped her keep her mind off the craziness that the rest of her life had descended into. Maybe the both really needed this slice of normalcy.