Author Topic: Fighting the Good Fight  (Read 1014 times)

Rhys Bristol

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Fighting the Good Fight
« on: July 16, 2019, 04:33:12 PM »
The farmhouse should have been abandoned. It had been abandoned, up until a few months before. Even now, with the sun beginning to set, it seemed empty. But the group gathered downwind from the forgotten homestead knew better. Amaris was the only one of the wolves still in human form, translating for the humans accompanying them as the first scout returned.

"The Alpha and his Betas are in the house proper," she said in a low voice. "The kids are all Omegas by the sound of things - my uncle can take care of them without any bloodshed, but that means we won't have him to counter the rogue Alpha if he decides to try and dominate us."

"Dev and I are human," Rhys reminded her quietly. "He won't be dominating us." Dev nodded in agreement. Each man had brought their own weapon of choice. For Rhys, it was Caliburnus - the legendary Sword in the Stone, not to be confused with Excalibur, Arthur's sword, which was another sword entirely. Dev had brought a pair of handguns, loaded with silver bullets. If it had not been for the young ones, he might have chosen an assault rifle, but he didn't want to risk hitting the wrong target.

"I know," Amaris assured him. "We're all Betas here -" One of the wolves huffed out what might have been a laugh, but she ignored the interruption. "We have a close bond with our Alpha. That should be enough to keep him out of our minds."

"Maybe you should wait out here. We don't need the Alpha getting into your heads and fighting us, too," Rhys suggested. He was fairly confident that between them, he and Dev and the Alpha could take the pack down without help from the others.

The largest of the wolves nudged Amaris, and she turned to him, her brow furrowing as they communicated silently for a long moment. Then she rolled her eyes.

"All right," she said with a sigh, turning back to Dev and Rhys. "They'll subdue and control the kids. The three of us should be able to take on the five in the house."

"And your uncle?" Dev asked, wondering what he was going to do now that the other Betas had volunteered to take care of the kids. It had only been a few days since he'd tangled with the wolf outside at the daycare center, and had been surprised at how hard she'd been to kill. He wasn't looking forward to this fight, but he wasn't going to be left behind either.

"He's going to set himself up to challenge the Alpha, take him out as fast as possible," Amaris told him gravely. It was obvious that she was not happy about that, but it wasn't her decision to make. She glanced up at the sky, noting the sinking sun. "I should shift, if we're all clear on what's going on?"

"As clear as we're gonna get," Rhys said, one hand almost lovingly caressing the pommel of the sword that was strapped to his waist. Though he appeared like the epitome of calm, inside he was feeling the usual anxious jitters that always accompanied a hunt - the surge of adrenaline that would carry him through the battle.

"You two go through the front with the Alpha," she suggested, nodding to the largest of the wolves as he padded around to stand with the two humans. Heedless of her nudity, she stripped off her clothes as she spoke. "I'll go through the back and cut off any escape."

Dev was watching Amaris carefully, almost nervously, not because he was afraid for her or afraid what might happen when the fight started, but because he instinctively knew what she was about to do. He stepped in front of her to block the view of this woman he was growing to care for, but Rhys only flashed him an amused smile and turned his back so that she could strip in private.

Dev's care did not go unnoticed, earning him a smile and a gentle touch of her hand to his cheek before she stepped back. The shift was not as violent as he might have expected, but there are certain discomforts when it comes to seeing your lover's bone structure reorganise itself into that of an animal's. When she was done, the tawny colored wolf that was Amaris licked Dev's hand gently.

Dev was no stranger to the supernatural world. In fact, as a special agent with a branch of the FBI that handled such cases, none of this took him as a surprise. What did surprise him was how lovely the wolf was that was Amaris and how tame she seemed as she licked his hand. He smiled, realizing that even in wolf form, she recognized him and knew him.

The amber eyes that looked up at him seemed amused, a familiar humor often seen in her human eyes as she nudged him back toward her uncle and Rhys. The Alpha wolf made a soft sound, and all the wolves stood, tension suddenly there in their frames as they prepared to run to the farmhouse and barn. Surprise was their only real advantage in this today.

Rhys waited for the Alpha to give the signal before drawing the sword from the scabbard at his hip and moving forward with Dev and the Alpha toward the main door. He wasn't too worried about what awaited them, but he was a little worried about his friends.

In a burst of motion, the wolves were moving, loping down toward the farmstead in absolute silence. Amaris' wolf peeled away toward the back of the house as her uncle lengthened his stride, staying in range of the humans running with him. It was only a matter of seconds before they reached the house, and already the sounds of the younger rogues being cornered and subdued were making themselves known.

Rhys heard the sounds coming from the barn and knew the wolves were well on their way to subduing the younger rogues, but there was still the rogue alpha and other mature wolves to deal with. Rhys clenched his jaw in determination before lifting a booted foot to kick the door down.

Dev rolled his eyes at the hunter's less than subtle entrance before following him inside. So much for stealth.

What they found in there was a scene of disarray. Five figures in various states of shift, and one wolf, bristling and growling, yellow eyes fixed on the Alpha between the two men. Amaris' uncle didn't waste time on posturing - he leapt for the rogue Alpha, and a violent exchange of tooth and claw followed. The five others turned toward the humans at the door, malevolence shining in their eyes as they, too, shifted down to wolf.

Dev caught one wolf right between the eyes at it leaped toward him, firing a second shot just to make sure. Rhys didn't hesitate either, circling around to gain enough space so that he could wield the sword without getting in Dev or the Alpha's way. He, too, was aiming for the head, but so long as he made contact, it hardly mattered. The sword may not have been silver, but it was enchanted and he was sure it would draw blood. And he'd brought a handgun along as a backup, just in case that didn't work.

One down, four to go, and the Alphas still fighting ferociously, heedless of their surroundings. Two of the wolves closed in on Rhys, working together in their attack; the other two focused on Dev, circling, always moving, keeping him from getting a decent shot off. Then a tawny wolf burst from the back rooms and pounced on one of those two circling her lover, pinning him down and ripping out his throat with a vicious snarl before he could react.
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay.

"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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Re: Fighting the Good Fight
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2019, 04:33:39 PM »
Dev hesitated a moment, pulling his gun up, as the wolf he knew was Amaris joined them. Thankfully, he hadn't yet pulled the trigger or he might have wounded her in all the confusion, but a split second later, he was taking a point blank shot at the remaining wolf, just before snapping jaws reached his face. Meanwhile, Rhys had decapitated one of his own attackers and was pursuing the other, who was trying to escape through the open door.

A whimper caught Amaris' attention, her muzzle snapping around just in time to see her uncle's heart ripped from his chest by the rogue Alpha. Fury rose up in her at the sudden loss, and with a terrible howl, she sprang at the rogue, bowling him over, tearing at him with teeth and claws.

With Rhys outside pursuing the last rogue, it left Dev behind to defend Amaris, but with her tearing at the Alpha, there was little chance for him to take a shot without risking wounding her. He moved over to check her uncle, but there was nothing that could be done for him. Turning back to Amaris and the Alpha, he lifted his handgun and took careful aim, but hesitated to take a shot until he had a clear target.

She had not been exaggerating when she had told him that a fight between wolves was a terrifying thing to watch. There were no holds barred between the rogue and Amaris, blood spraying as wounds were torn open along each flank and limb. She howled in pain as the rogue bit down on her back leg, as he shook her violently until they all heard the resounding crack of bones breaking under the assault. The tawny wolf dropped to her belly, struggling for breath, glaring furiously at the rogue Alpha who was only slightly better off than she was.

That was all it took for Dev to squeeze off a couple of shots and finish the Alpha off - one to the head and one to the chest. He might have been amazed at how quickly the wolves had been defeated it if hadn't been for the loss of Amaris' uncle, not to mention her own wounds. Once the Alpha went down, Dev wasted no time in rushing to her side without hesitation, all his concern for her and not himself.

The tawny wolf was bleeding profusely from too many wounds, her fur matted with her own blood as she whimpered softly in pain. She could barely move, but somehow mustered the strength to change her form, sobbing with the pain of that as she resumed her human appearance. Too many wounds, too much blood lost ... not even a werewolf could recover from that.

"Amaris," Dev whispered, very carefully pulling her into his arms, at a complete loss as to how to help. There was too much blood from too many wounds. Even calling 9-1-1 seemed futile, but he refused to give up hope. Where to begin though? "Stay with me, baby. I'm gonna get help."

Amaris barely responded, focused on keeping her pain to herself as he moved her gently about. She knew she was on her way out, managing to scrounge up a tired smile for the human man who had touched her. "Could've ... loved you ..."

He knew he should put some pressure on the worst of her wounds, but where to begin? He knew it was futile, and she seemed to know it, too. It seemed so unfair to be losing her so soon, but what could he do? He yanked his cell phone out of his jacket, his hands slick with her blood and was just about to dial 9-1-1 when Rhys stormed back inside. The hunter had a triumphant look on his face for about half a second before he took in his surroundings and his expression turned grim.

"What happened?" he asked, though it seemed obvious enough. "Amaris!" he called, kneeling down at her side to search her wounds before Dev reached over to still his hand with a shake of his head.

"Shh," Dev whispered, a soft smile on his face. "It's gonna be okay," he assured her, though that was obviously a lie.

Paws scraped on the wood of the porch as one of the other wolves padded into the room, letting out a heartbroken whimper at the sight of the dead Alpha, and his own sister bleeding out. He moved over to gently nudge at her shoulder with his nose, stilling when she hissed in pain.

"'m ... okay," she lied to her brother. "Jus' ... resti-"

But even as she spoke, her eyes rolled back.

"No, no, no," Rhys murmured. "This is not happening. This is not how it was supposed to go down."

Dev sighed softly, as if he was resigned to the fact that he was going to lose her - the woman he was just starting to fall in love with. It didn't matter to him whether she was a wolf or not; she was like no one he'd ever met, and they were just getting started.

"I'm so sorry, love," Dev whispered, his voice choked with emotion, though he refused to shed a tear. It was his fault this had happened; his fault she was there; his fault he hadn't taken the shot when he should have.

"No," Rhys said again, moving to his feet. "This is not going to happen. I'm not gonna let it." No one else seemed to be paying any attention to him, but that hardly mattered. He knew what he had to do and he had to be quick. "Lailah!" he called, lifting his head to the heavens, though he wasn't sure that was necessary. "You said you would come when I call. Well, I'm calling!"

In a deafening beating of invisible wings, there she was. Lailah eyed Rhys warily, already knowing what he was going to ask her. "She's not human," she said pointedly.

"I don't care," was Rhys' quick response, refusing to take no for an answer. "She put her life at risk for me and for Micah. The least I can do is to save her, but I don't have that kind of mojo. You do." He really didn't want to beg, but he would if he had to. "What good is having an angel around if you can't help when I need you?" he asked her. "I need you now. You do this for me, and I'm in your debt. Whatever you ask, it's yours."

Dev was only just starting to realize what was going on here, looking from Rhys to the woman who'd just appeared there out of thin air. He'd seen a lot of weird things in his life, but an angel?

"You do this for her, and we're both in your debt," he added.

Lailah frowned, torn between her loyalty to Rhys and her loyalty to Heaven for one agonising moment. Then she sighed sharply. "I can't heal everything," she warned, moving to kneel beside the fallen woman. "But I can make sure she doesn't die."

She reached out, glancing briefly at Dev, and set her fingertips to Amaris' forehead. Within a split second, the worst of the wounds was closed, color returning to Amaris' skin, and she arched up with a sharp gasp, coughing up a good mouthful or more of blood in the process.
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay.

"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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Re: Fighting the Good Fight
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2019, 04:34:10 PM »
Dev dropped his phone, letting it clatter to the floor, while he loosened his hold on Amaris so she could cough up that blood and not choke on it.

"Oh my god," he murmured, not too far from the mark. "Maris? Baby, are you okay?" he asked her.

Though she was far from okay, she wasn't looking like she was on Death's door anymore, which was nothing short of a miracle. Rhys smiled, knowing the wolf's ability to heal her own wounds would take care of the rest.

"Thank you," he told his guardian, as sincerely as he was able. His gaze darted from Amaris to her Uncle, the fallen Alpha, but he had a feeling it was too late to do anything for him.

Lailah caught Rhys' glance, shaking her head imperceptively. There was nothing she could do for a heart that had been ripped out. "I should go before my presence here draws any attention," she murmured, touching Rhys' shoulder. "I will always come when you call."

As she disappeared, Amaris surfaced from her coughing fit, wiping the blood from her lips as she gasped in a breath.

"Well, that wasn't fun," she said absently, relaxing into the curl of Dev's arms. Her eyes fell on the body of her uncle, and no doubt Dev felt the shock that ran through her. "Oh no."

Rhys nodded in acknowledgment, before Lailah disappeared as quickly as she'd appeared. He didn't feel the need to thank her again, though perhaps he would light a candle in her honor later to thank her privately. He moved forward to take a better look at the Alpha, frowning at the carnage that had been left behind. He'd never expected it to be easy or without bloodshed, but he hadn't expected this.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, mostly for the wolf that was Amaris' brother. The Alpha had known the risk going into battle; they all had.

"Shh," Dev whispered in an attempt to comfort Amaris, though he was still in a state of shock that she was alive. "Easy, Maris. You've lost a lot of blood."

"I'll heal." It was a short answer, but there were other things that needed to happen - indeed, were already happening. "Can someone bring my clothes, please? I need to ... I have to talk to the pups."

"Maris, you ... you just ... you almost," Dev stammered, uncharacteristically.

"It needs to be done, Dev," Rhys said, taking off his own jacket to lay it over the Alpha. Like the others, he was splattered with blood, but thankfully, none of it was his own.

"They need a pack," Amaris told Dev as gently as she could. She looked at her brother and sighed heavily. "And our pack needs an Alpha." The wolf perked up a little at this, licking her shoulder affectionately before turning to trot out through the door. "He'll get my clothes. I can't shift again, not yet."

Rhys disappeared further into the house for a moment only to return with a blanket, which he wrapped around Amaris' shoulders. "Don't worry. I hardly noticed," he teased her, with a wink to Dev. "I'm, uh, I'm just gonna go check on the young'uns."

"Thank you." Tucking the blanket about herself like a towel, she hissed just a little at the sensation of the fabric brushing against still open injuries. "Dev ... you okay? You kinda saved my life there."

"Right," Dev replied to Rhys, looking as if he might be in a slight state of shock, though he was supposed to be used to this sort of thing. "Amaris," he said quietly, turning back to her and brushing a strand of hair from her face. He knew she was still bleeding, but those wounds were no longer life threatening. "I thought I lost you," he told her, in a hushed tone of voice that was verging on emotion again. "We need to clean you up, tend to your wounds," he said, remembering himself.

She curled her hand to his neck, drawing his brow to hers. "I'm still here," she promised him. "Right now, what's important is those pups and my pack. We ... we don't have any Alphas old enough to take on the pack mind. Except me."

Whatever had just happened, she didn't seem to have noticed the angel or the fact that she'd come so close to death. He was going to have to talk to the hunter about it later, but for now, he was just grateful she was alive. "Don't ever do that again," he warned her quietly, touching a kiss to her lips, bloodied or not.

She smiled into his kiss. "You gonna come to the afterlife and drag me back, Orpheus?" she asked - teasing, yes, but with warm affection in her voice. "This won't happen again, baby. But I have to see to my pack."

"If that's what it takes," he told her, smiling a little, but perfectly serious. "If you're the Alpha now, what's that make me?" he asked, only teasing a little. He knew a little about Lycan packs, but he'd always assumed an Alpha female generally mated with an Alpha male.

"Mine." She kissed him softly, stroking his cheek, drawing back just before her brother padded back into the house with her clothes held in his mouth. "Thanks, Ty. We'll be in the barn pretty soon."

He smiled softly at her reply, only pulling away when her brother returned with her clothes. "What do you need me to do?" he asked, looking from one to the other.

"Help me get dressed, and stay close," was Amaris' quiet answer. She glanced over her shoulder as Ty padded back out of the house, meeting Dev's eye as a thought occurred to her. "I'm not leaving you, Dev. I'll hold the Alpha place until one of my cousins is old enough to take it on. It's just a rank; it doesn't come with mating."

"What about your brother?" he asked, with a nod of his head toward the door said brother had just disappeared through. Why couldn't he be the Alpha? Or wasn't that how things worked? He wasn't sure. He carefully pulled the blanket away, ready to mop up any more blood before helping her get dressed.

"Alphas are born," she tried to explain. "Usually it goes through the bloodline, but it doesn't have to be a male. My brothers are Betas at heart - one of them could step up, but it wouldn't be the same connection." She twisted, letting him wipe the worst of the blood from her skin before reaching for her clothes. "The Alpha is the hub of the wheel."
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay.

"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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Re: Fighting the Good Fight
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2019, 04:34:44 PM »

"I know you weren't expecting your uncle's death," Dev said, with a dart of his gaze toward the body of the wolf lying beneath the hunter's jacket. "But were you expected to take over as Alpha?" he asked as he helped her get dressed. They had to have discussed the possibility at some point, he reasoned.

Guilt flickered through her eyes as he helped her dress. "My dad was the Alpha when I was a kid," she said softly. "When he died, my uncle took on the mantle. He's been trying to get me to take it from him for years."

"I see," Dev replied, frowning thoughtfully. "But you don't want it?" he asked, curiously. At least, that's what it sounded like. So long as it didn't affect his place in her life, it hardly mattered to him what she decided, so long as she did what was right for herself and her pack.

She shook her head with a sigh. "I never wanted to be the one in charge," she admitted ruefully. "It's not a huge responsibility these days, but it means I'm the point of contact. And that means I have to deal with other Alphas and ... and the Lady." She offered him a slightly apologetic look. "I need to ask before I can tell you about her."

Dev arched a brow, unsure what or who she was referencing. He knew she was special somehow - part of a larger group that was connected to some mystical group, but he hadn't known her long enough to know much more than that. Rhys might have been able to explain, but he had gone to check on the younger wolves and make sure they didn't cause any trouble.

"Okay," Dev said, willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. He didn't want any secrets between them if they were going to be together, but that would come in time. "Perhaps someone will step forward to take over as Alpha, at some point," he suggested. Or perhaps she'd find she actually enjoyed the role.

"Hopefully," she agreed, leaning on him as she stood up. She was still shaky, definitely without the strength to shift again, but she was already healing. "With luck, it'll only be a couple of years before Hayden is old enough to take the role."

"Are you okay?" he asked, still in something of a state of shock at her miraculous recovery. He knew that as a Lycan, she had the ability to heal quickly, but he also knew she had nearly died. The proof of that fact still remained in the pool of blood that soaked the kitchen floor, and then there was the body of her Uncle to deal with. "What are you going to do about your uncle?"

"I'm better than I would have been without help," she said with a smile, trying not to let it show just how close she had been to death. The smile faltered and faded as she looked over at the covered form of her uncle. "We'll ... make arrangements."

"It was an angel, Maris," Dev said, still in awe of what he'd witnessed - or thought he'd witnessed. "Rhys called up an angel," he said, shaking his head in disbelief. He'd seen a lot of strange things in his life, but nothing like that. And who was this Lady Amaris spoke of? Was she an angel, too?

"Every human has a guardian angel," she told him, leaning against his side as she turned toward the door. "Rhys ... he's unique. But he did call his guardian when he needed her."

"Right," Dev murmured. He knew his Catachism, but he wasn't sure angels were real. Or at least, he hadn't been until now. "Why didn't he call down your guardian angel? Or aren't you considered human?" he asked, sliding an arm around her waist to help her to the door.

"I'm a lycan," she said ruefully. "I'm considered a monster, not a human. Heaven's rules, not Earth's." She shrugged painfully, glad he was there to help her as she limped through the door and out into the fresh night.

He frowned as he considered this. She had been born lycan, so if what she was saying was true, she had never had a guardian angel to begin with.

"I thought I'd seen everything," he murmured to himself.

He'd always had a curious nature. It was what had led him to this sort of work to begin with, but just when he'd thought he'd seen everything, he'd learned he knew nothing at all.

"Baby, there's more to see than just Heaven and Earth," she told him with an affectionate smile. Her head tilted toward the barn, from which was emanating the sounds of whimpers and defiant snarls. She sighed. "Great. My first job as an Alpha is going to be dominating a bunch of pups."

Dev still had that look on his face that was a mixture of doubt and wonder, but he couldn't deny what he'd seen and he couldn't deny the sounds emanating from the barn. "They're not kids, Maris," he reminded her. He wasn't entirely sure, but he had a feeling the younger wolves were made up of teens and young adults who had somehow come to be involved with the rogues. "They're lucky to be alive."

"I know. But they need a guiding hand, some kind of connection. It's not like I'm going to take their free will away from them, Dev. Whatever the angels think, I'm not a monster."

The door to the barn was open, the suggestion of movement inside hinting at restless agitation within.

Just as they were arriving, Rhys stepped out of the barn, in hopes of not further agitating the younger wolves. A hunter was probably the last thing they wanted to see, and it was obvious to him that Amaris and her brother were the only ones capable of calming the younger wolves.

"There's not much more I can do here," he told the pair. "Unless you need backup, but I think it would be better if you talked to them without me."

"I, uh ..." Amaris hesitated, and then came to a decision. "Champion, I am formally requesting that you bring Dev into the secret," she said, meeting Rhys' eyes confidently. "I need him to know, and I can't tell him without her permission. But you can." She squeezed Dev's hand gently.

One of the hunter's brows flicked upwards in surprise at her request. His gaze darted from Amaris to Dev and back. It wasn't that he was surprised by her request so much as the fact that bringing Dev into the secret of Avalon meant giving him information only those in service to Avalon were aware of. It meant possibly making Dev a Guardian, and it meant he was forevermore going to have a connection with both Avalon and with Amaris. It wasn't a request he could take lightly.

"You're sure?" he asked, assuming Amaris knew the implications of what she was asking.

"I'm sure." She nodded firmly. "And since I have to present myself to the Lady now anyway, I would like to be able to take him with me." She glanced between the two men. "So while you're doing this, I'm going to deal with that." She pointed toward the growling barn.

Everybody's got their dues in life to pay.

"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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Re: Fighting the Good Fight
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2019, 04:35:16 PM »
Rhys sighed, not really envying her the task of trying to talk sense into what amounted to a bunch of scared teenagers, but if anyone could do it, it was Amaris. "I don't know if she's going to like me blabbing," he confessed, but if Dev and Amaris were going to have any chance of being together, he was going to have to find out the truth sooner or later. "This would be better done over a couple of beers, but I'll do my best," he promised them both.

"I'll take responsibility for it," Amaris promised Rhys. She paused, gently removing her arm from about Dev. "This won't take too long," she murmured, kissing his palm before she released him to limp toward the barn.

"Speak for yourself," Rhys muttered. It might not take long for her to pacify the group of young wolves, but explaining Avalon wasn't something you did in five minutes. He turned to Dev with the hint of a smile on his face. "I hope you have an open mind."

"Try me," Dev said, having remained quiet during this entire exchange until now. Whatever it was Rhys had to tell him, if it had anything to do with Amaris, he needed to know.

Apparently pacifying a group of frightened young werewolves wasn't something that happened in five minutes, either. The growls and whimpers intensified for what seemed a long time before finally falling silent, and the cadence of Amaris' voice speaking softly floated out to the men waiting outside. There was a strange sensation that came with her voice, as though she was bringing more than just her voice to bear on the young group before her.

As for the discussion between the two men, while it was true that Dev had an open mind, he was being asked to believe in something that was far more mystical than anything he'd ever encountered before. It was one thing to believe in Heaven and the existence of angels, but quite another to learn that Avalon had not only been real, but still existed, somewhere "beyond the mists", as Rhys had said. Rhys had only chuckled at his doubts and assured him that he'd had a hard time believing it, too, but that Dev would see for himself before long.

Before a hour had passed, the wolves began to file out of the barn, the younger ones following docile at the elders' heels. Two of Amaris' brothers peeled off and entered the house, no doubt to collect the body of their uncle, and finally Amaris limped into view, weary and in desperate need of sleep now.

"I should probably check in with Adam and Ree," Rhys said, once Amaris came limping into view. "I'll see you both later, I'm sure," he said, meaning back in Avalon. "If there's anything you need ..." he added, with a soft smile for Amaris. He hadn't been exaggerating when he'd said she had saved his son's life, and Dev knew it as well as he did.

"I'm sure you will." Amaris smiled wearily, leaning gratefully into Dev's side with a low sigh. "You've done more than enough, Rhys. Thank you."

"No, thank you," Rhys said, stepping close enough to touch an almost brotherly kiss to Amaris' cheek, a soft smile on his face. He could never do enough for this gentle woman who had taken it upon herself to keep his children safe. It had probably been at the Lady's request, but that hardly mattered.

"Careful, Mr. Bristol, people might start thinking you've gone soft on the lycans," she teased, but Amaris didn't mind somehow gaining another brother in the midst of all this. She glanced over his shoulder as a shimmer in the air settled itself into Aurelia and Adam, no doubt here to fill Rhys in on the vampires' attack. "I need to sleep," she admitted, looking up at Dev. "Take me home?"

"I was just thinking about you," Rhys said, as Adam and Aurelia shimmered into view. He was glad to see his friends were both in one piece, and from the looks on their faces, they seemed to have been successful in their conflict with the vampires. "Come on, I need a drink," he told his friends, slinging an arm around both their shoulders.

It seemed as though Aurelia had been ready for this, the shimmer of her unique method of travel already wrapping itself around the three of them as Rhys declared his hello. Amaris smiled as she watched them fade from sight.

Dev blinked. "People come and go so quickly around here," he said, quoting Dorothy and feeling a little bit like she must have when she'd found herself in Oz. "Do you mind going home the old-fashioned way?" he asked, as he turned back to Amaris to answer her question.

She laughed, hugging him fondly. "I will never object to going anywhere with you, however you choose it," she assured him. "And, you know, you're the one with the car keys."

"So I am," he replied, reaching into his pocket to dig out the car keys. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked again, pausing a moment to really look her over, now that they were alone.

She looked up at him, and her confidence faltered. "I'm not," she told him, her throat tightening around the words. "I'm really not." The tears, once begun, wouldn't stop, and she hid her face against Dev's shoulder, not wanting her brothers to see her like this when they brought their uncle out of the house.

It was almost a relief that she finally admitted her true feelings. The crisis was over; she no longer had to be strong, and as far as he was concerned, she had nothing to prove. He wrapped his arms around her and drew her close, allowing her the comfort and security of his embrace.

"I'm sorry about your Uncle," he told her quietly, unsure why the so-called angel had been unable to save him, too, but maybe it had just been too late.

How could she describe to him the terrible sense of loss, when a presence that had been a part of her mind for most of her life was suddenly ripped away? She couldn't, but she knew he was there, that he wouldn't leave her in the midst of her grief. She knew he was a good man. So she clung to him through the storm of her grief, until her brothers were gone, until only they remained.

"I'm sorry," she hiccupped as she drew back. "I didn't mean to ..."

"You have nothing to apologize for," he assured her, gently and patiently, his arms still around her. What was she apologizing for exactly? For her grief at her uncle's death? For her own upset at nearly having died? All of it had been a shock for which she could not have prepared. "I just wish I could help," he murmured into her hair.

"You're here," she whispered, easing back into his embrace as her breathing calmed once again. "That's all you need to do. Stay with me."
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"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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Re: Fighting the Good Fight
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2019, 04:36:34 PM »
"I'm not going anywhere," he assured her, fingers gently stroking her back. "Let's get you home, okay?" he asked, tilting her head up to meet his gaze. Whatever had happened here, whatever his uncertainties, he was certain of one thing - that his heart was slowly opening to this gentle woman.

She nodded, deeply relieved that he hadn't turned and run from her after seeing her truly fighting. Dev had been introduced to a lot of new things tonight, but he was still there.

"Okay," she agreed softly. "I should clean up these cuts, too."

"I could use with a little cleaning up myself," he said, smirking just a little, though she was by far worse off than he was. He hadn't been injured in any way, though he was wearing some blood that didn't belong to him, most of it hers. "My place or yours?"

Amaris snorted softly, rising onto her toes to kiss him. "Mine, if that's okay?" she asked. "We, um ... we're going to need to take a little trip tomorrow, and all the stuff for it is at my place."

"Right, to Avalon," Dev said, with just the tiniest hint of doubt, or at the very least, uncertainty. It wasn't that he didn't believe her exactly, but that he wasn't too sure what was really going on here.

"It's one of those things that is much easier to show than to tell," Amaris assured him gently. "I've never been there myself, but I've spoken to the Lady, and to Sir Lionel. They're not as scary as they seem."

"I'm not scared," he assured her. It wasn't fear so much as it was incredulity. Then again, there had been a time when the world of the supernatural had seemed unbelievable, too. "So, if you've never been there, how are we going to get there?"

"We'll ask to be brought across the mists," she said, as though it was in the same mundane league as calling for a cab. She stroked his cheek. "In the morning, though. I'm a mess, and you're not that much better yourself."

"But how ..." he started, trailing off as she touched his cheek. He supposed all his questions would be answered in the morning, so long as he didn't wake up to find out this was all some weird dream. "I need a shower," he said, no argument there, but it was her who'd touched Death's door, not him.

"I'll wash your back if you wash mine," she murmured in answer, tucking her hand into his as she headed for the car, concealed over the rise from the farmhouse.

"Tempting offer," he admitted, as he accompanied her back to the place where he'd left the car. He opened the door and carefully helped her inside before going around to the other side and letting himself in. "So, what happens now?" he asked her, without being too specific.

Resting back into the seat, she let her head settle against the headrest for a moment. "We go home, we clean up, we sleep," she said. "I don't need to call anyone. I've already spoken to my aunt. But tomorrow, I have to go to Avalon, and I'll have to go to my aunt's house."

"Well, you won't be alone, in any case," Dev assured her. This time, he didn't have any paperwork to file, though he'd have to show up at work at some point. He'd done all this on his own time, and thankfully didn't have to explain any of it.

Her smile warmed as she looked over at him. "I'm glad. I kinda want you to meet my pack, anyway." She sighed, settling herself more comfortably. "They'll like you. Any of them cause trouble, I'll scruff 'em."

"Haven't I met them already?" he asked, looking a little confused. Had the entire pack not been here for this fight, or was she talking about meeting them in their human form?

"No, that was my uncle and my three brothers," she explained. "I have five more cousins, and three of them have their own families as well. They all live close to Aunt Joy."

"How big is this pack?" he asked curiously, as he put the car into drive and pulled out onto the road, back in the direction of the city. He had no pack of his own for her to meet, and few remaining family members. He'd never said much about his past, either because there wasn't much to tell or he just felt uncomfortable talking about it.

"It's just our bloodline," she assured him. "And people can choose to leave the pack at any time. Right now, there's fifteen of us, not counting the pups we just took in. I don't think they'll all stay, but they'll have an anchor point they can come back to."

"So long as they don't end up in another rogue pack," Dev replied. He was hopeful the young ones could be saved because if they couldn't, they'd likely end up dead.

"They won't." She seemed very confident of that. "Only a couple of them willingly joined that pack. The others were swept up and dominated before they really knew what was happening."

"How young are they?" he asked, comfortable sticking to topics he considered safe, for the moment. "I mean, they're not children, right?"

"It depends on how you define children," she mused. "The oldest is around seventeen, the youngest seems to be thirteen or so. To me, they're pups; they should be sheltered and allowed to be young before they have to grow up."

"Anyone under twenty, in my estimation," Dev said. He knew there were teens who'd argue they were as competent as adults at a much younger age, but he wasn't so sure. Just because someone thought they were mature didn't mean they were.

"Then yeah, they're children, Dev. The least we can do is give them a home they can come back to if they need it." She sighed, shaking her head. "It'll take time to find out who they were and where they're from. What they're running from. But I won't force any of them to go back there."

"So, they were born lycans," he reasoned, knowing the difference now only because she'd explained it to him. "Where did they come from? Are they family?"

"A lot of runaways end up in New York," she pointed out sadly. "It takes a lot to break an Alpha's hold on you, especially if you're related to that Alpha. I guess you could say we've adopted them? I don't really want to think about what might drive a pup to break with their pack."

"If something happened to that pack," Dev speculated. "If the Alpha died or was killed." He paused a moment as a thought came to mind, though he was only postulating. "Maybe a couple of rival packs?"
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Rhys Bristol

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Re: Fighting the Good Fight
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2019, 04:36:56 PM »

"It could be." Amaris frowned as she considered this. "A pack war would definitely disrupt that connection. I haven't heard anything about one, but if it was a longstanding feud that exploded, it might not have reached other ears yet."

"Just a thought," Dev replied with a shrug. "It could be anything really." There were probably worse possibilities than that, and he was sure she'd find out the truth eventually. "Anyway, it's good you're willing to help them. Someone else might not have bothered," he said. He didn't bother to name names, but if it had been left to him or the hunter, they probably would have killed the entire pack and asked questions later.

"It's not their fault they got caught up in this, mostly," she said thoughtfully. "I'll need to talk to the two who joined the rogues willingly, find out what their motivations really are, but I'm not that worried. Sometimes you just need a place to call home, you know?"

"Maybe," Dev agreed. "Or maybe they were lied to," he suggested, though it hardly mattered. He was sure she'd find out the truth sooner or later. "Just ... be careful, okay? You don't really know what you're dealing with here."

"They accepted the bond," she murmured. "I can control them if I have to. I just hope I won't have to." She turned her head, smiling over at him. "It's nice when you get protective over me. I like it."

He grunted at her remark, though from the look on his face, he was amused. "I have a feeling you wouldn't want me to get too protective though," he told her. She was an independent woman, a wolf, and an Alpha - not someone to be kept caged, even if that cage was a gilded one.

"There's a difference between protective and smothering," she pointed out. "I like protective. Even a wolf likes to feel safe with the man she loves."

He arched a brow, turning to her briefly as he navigated the road. "You are safe with me, Maris. I promise you that. I would never do anything to hurt you." It was a strong statement and one he'd never given anyone before.

Her gazed softened as she watched him drive for a long moment. "I know," she murmured, her tone almost tender. "I've known that since the day we outed ourselves to each other."

"It's only been a week," Dev remarked. "But it seems like a long longer, doesn't it?" he asked, wondering if she felt the same way. He knew he'd never met her before, not before they'd started working together at the daycare center. Even so, they had never gotten well acquainted there, but he couldn't deny that they had a connection.

"Sometimes you just click, you know?" She reached out, laying her hand on his knee. "I guess I should've asked you out when you got the job at the daycare."

He smiled, not only at the touch of her hand, but also at what she'd said. "Does it really matter?" he asked, knowing it didn't. All that really mattered was what was happening now.

"No." She laughed quietly. "You might not have taken the four legs and a tail thing quite so calmly, though."

"You might be surprised," he said, a hint of amusement in his voice and his eyes. "This isn't as new to me as you might think," he told her, giving her a small hint about his background. Apparently, the supernatural wasn't as new to him as she might have thought.

"Oh, really?" She raised a brow above her smile as she admired his profile, enjoying the quiet conversation possibly more than she had any other in her lifetime. "I know you're part of the X-Files or whatever they're called. Does this mean you were aware of the supernatural before you joined up?"

"It's not the X-Files, but I know what you mean," he told her, glancing her way momentarily before looking back at the road. "What you're really asking me is what made me join the Bureau and how'd I get involved with the supernatural."

"I guess I am," she agreed. "But that doesn't mean you have to answer me. I know some things get played close to the vest, you know? Just because I spill all my secrets early doesn't mean you have to."

He shrugged. "No secrets, really." Not like hers, anyway. "There's just not much to tell." There had to be something though, some story as to how he got involved in a supernatural area of the FBI. It wasn't something that happened to just anyone.

She squeezed his knee gently. "You don't have to tell me right away," she promised him. "We're still getting to know each other, after all."

"It's not all that exciting really," he assured her. "No big secrets. No defining moment. It's probably partly because of my aunt. I don't talk about her much because people get weird about this stuff, but she fancies herself a medium. It's a little too woo-woo for most people, you know? Hell, most of what I do is a little too woo-woo for most people."

Amaris laughed softly, understanding that sentiment. "I think we've established that under my mundane facade I am all about woo-woo, so no worries there."

"When you're raised by an aunt who has nightly conversations with the dead at the dinner table, you generally have a more open mind than the average person," Dev said, giving her more information in that one sentence than he had since he'd met her.

That pulled her up for a second. "Nightly?" she queried, her eyes lighting up with genuine curiosity about his childhood now. "Did any of them talk to you?"

Dev chuckled at the inevitability of her question. "No, I'm not wired that way. Or like my aunt would tell you, I don't have the gift. It's usually passed down from mother to child, and my mother didn't have it either."

"Oh, I see." Smiling, Amaris relaxed a little. "I'm the last person to judge, but it sounds like it was an interesting way to grow up."

"When you grow up like that, surrounded by the supernatural all the time, it gives you an open mind. But I didn't have the gift, and I knew it wasn't my calling." He shrugged again, as they neared the Brooklyn neighborhood where Amaris' brownstone was located.

"But being aware that so much else happens that most people never even realize is real must have been a pretty powerful influence on your life," she reasoned curiously.
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"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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Re: Fighting the Good Fight
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2019, 04:37:23 PM »
"I guess so, but you learn pretty early on not to talk about it too much or other people will think you're nuts. When other kids were learning how to play rummy, my aunt was teaching my tarot," he confessed with a chuckle.

"Yeah, I get that," she agreed, laughing with him. "My mom used to have to constantly tell me and my brothers not to try out for sports, because we had an unfair advantage. Ty hated that - he really wanted to play football."

"So long as you don't bite anyone, I don't see a problem with it. You might be the minority, but this is your world, too, Maris," he pointed out. "Might as well use your gifts to your advantage. God knows everyone else. does."

"The main thing is the aggression when you're a teenager and a wolf," she mused. "Sometimes it clicks into the wolf, and the wolf goes nuts on the other person. Mom really didn't want that happening on a football field."

"That's understandable," he said. "Your mom is part of the pack?" he asked, though that much seemed logical, given she'd been born a wolf.

"Yeah, she is." Her expression and tone softened with tender warmth for her mother as she spoke. "She doesn't get involved in pack runs these days, but she hangs out with Aunt Joy, and she likes being around the pups. Honestly? Dad dying was probably the best thing that could have happened to our pack, and especially for her. He wasn't fully in control of his wolf; it made life hard."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that." He frowned in sympathy, unsure what more to say that might offer some comfort, but he supposed she'd already comes to terms with it. "Family is family, I suppose," he said, whether it be human or Lycan.

"He died when I was five, I don't really remember him," she said, as much to reassure him as anything. "Brandon, my biggest big brother, he, uh, he remembers Dad as being this quiet guy who liked to read, but had a problem with his temper. And when he lost his temper, the wolf took over, and everyone ran for cover. I don't remember that, I remember the guy with gentle hands and quiet voice reading me fairytales."

"It's probably better that way," he said, though that much seemed obvious, too. "It's better to remember the good stuff than the bad," he clarified. "It sounds like you had a pretty happy childhood though," he added as he pulled up in front of the brownstone. "Here we are."

"Yeah, I did," she agreed, happy to be able to say that. "My uncle's house is next door to my mom's, and us kids'd be at one or the other. I mean, I told you about how rowdy Christmas gets now we're grown - just shrink that down to eight teenagers eating everyone out of house and home and rough-housing constantly." She dug in a pocket for her house keys, visibly bracing herself to get out of the car and walk up the steps. "If I've bled on your seat, I'll pay to get it cleaned, I promise."

"I envy you," he told her, in regard to her family and upbringing. He might have said more, but they'd arrived and she'd changed the subject - at least, for now. He chuckled a little at her anxiety regarding his upholstery. "Don't worry about it. I'm more concerned with you than the car," he assured her, pocketing his keys and climbing out of the car.

He was out of the car before she could say anything more, and a part of her was glad he cut her off. She needed him to absorb Avalon before she dropped on him the fact that being with her made him a part of their pack, human or not. As it was, she eased herself painfully out of her more comfortable lean against the seat, breathing through the pain, and reached for the door handle.

He was there in a second, ready to help her from the car, whether she had already healed or not. If there was one thing his aunt had taught him, it was to be a gentleman, despite most women's tendencies these days to assert their independence.

"Just take it easy," he told her, as he reached for her to help her out.

It seemed as though the superficial cuts had healed, but she definitely had muscles and bones that were still sorting themselves out. And she didn't reject his offer of help, grasping his hands and leaning on him as he assisted her out of the car.

"Holy goobers, that rogue did a number on my leg."

"But it will heal, right?" he asked, darting a glance at her leg in concern.

From what he understood about Lycans, they possessed enhanced healing abilities greater than those of humans, but he assumed there were still limitations. Healing wasn't the same as regeneration, after all. If she'd lost a leg, it was unlikely one was going to grow back in its place.

"It will," she nodded. "The angel reset the bone, it's just the soft tissue nonsense that hurts now. I figure he got through all the muscle and probably a couple of the tendons, too. I'll be walking normally by tomorrow."

"The angel, right," Dev echoed. Now that wasn't something you saw every day, not even for someone like him. "Well, I'm staying the night, so there's no need for you to do anything but rest," he told her as he helped her hobble from the car, wondering if he should just scoop her up and carry her inside instead.

The smile he got for that was brighter than the rising sun, relief merged with real pleasure that he would stay without being asked. "You're a real treasure, Dev," she informed him, leaning gratefully against him as they turned toward her house.

He hadn't bothered to ask her, assuming he'd be welcome to stay the night. After all, she was in no shape to take care of herself yet, and they were sleeping together. He chuckled again at her compliment. "Better wait before you make any final judgments of my character. You don't know me that well yet," he told her with a sparkle of mischief in his eyes as he half-carried her toward the door.

"Oh, I think I know you well enough to make that judgment," she countered easily, glad of the help as she hobbled up the steps to the door. Out of breath by the time they reached the top, she rolled her eyes at her own weakness. "I hate having to heal up," she muttered, inserting the key into the lock.

"It beats the alternative," he pointed out, meaning death, which she barely escaped by the skin of her teeth. If it wasn't for the angel ... But he didn't really want to think about that right now. "Let's get you inside and settled," he said, waiting for her to unlock the door before scooping her up in his arms to carry her inside, kicking the door shut behind him.
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Rhys Bristol

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Re: Fighting the Good Fight
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2019, 04:38:23 PM »
She actually squeaked in surprise as he lifted her up, looping her arms about his neck as the door clicked shut in their wake. "Well, this is nice."

"You really don't have to go to such extremes to get me to spoil you, you know," he told her, that smirk still on his face. "Where to? Bathroom? Bedroom?" he guessed the two most likely destinations. They both needed to get cleaned up, and they both needed to rest. Nothing much more than that was likely to happen tonight, until she was on the mend.

"Bathroom, I guess." She sighed. "I'm a mess. And I got you into a bit of a state, too, didn't I?" She rested her head on his shoulder, comfortable to be cradled and carried about after the last few hours.

"I just need a shower and I'll be as good as new," he assured her. As far as he knew, he'd suffered no injuries; if he had, he thought he'd have noticed by now. He smiled as she rested her head against his shoulder, captivated by the simple demonstration of trust and affection.

"I'm not sure I'm gonna be able to stand long enough to shower," she admitted reluctantly. "I think it's a sponge bath night for me."

"What about a bath?" he suggested, seemingly willing to help, whether she settled on a shower, bath, or something in between.

"God, a bath would be heavenly. But you shouldn't have to worry about getting me in and out safely, you know." She lifted her head, looking at him fondly. "It's been a long day for both of us."

"You know," he said, as he started in the direction of the stairs. "I may not be a wolf, but I am a full-grown adult, and this ain't my first rodeo," he teased as he started up the stairs, looking like his burden was no burden at all.

"All right, all right," she conceded with a smile. "But it wasn't about you being human. It was kind of about your girlfriend not wanting to tire you out having to look after her just because she can't stand on one leg tonight."

He couldn't help chuckling again to hear her describe herself that way. "Is that what you are?" he asked, corners of his eyes crinkling with amusement. He really did make carrying her up the stairs look effortless, but then he was in pretty good shape, or so he thought.

"Only if you want me to be." The ball was in his court. She had been as open about her own hopes as she dared to be so far; the next step was entirely in his hands.

"We're not in high school, Maris. Why do we need to put a label on it?" he asked. Though he wasn't opposed to being together, he thought they were both a little too mature to refer to themselves in such terms as boy or girlfriend. The truth was they were lovers, but no one introduced their significant other that way. "Are you worried what your family might think of me?" he asked, as he very carefully set her on her feet, just outside the bathroom.

"Oh god, no." The sheer vehemence of her response should have been enough to reassure him there. "I have three cousins-in-law who are human, and a couple of the little ones aren't lycan. They're still a part of the pack, and a part of the family. My mom will love you."

"Are they all connected to Avalon?" he asked curiously, circling back to the part of her life he found most puzzling. "Do you need help getting undressed? I want to get the bath running," he added.

"I can get started undressing myself," she assured him gently, easing herself over to the dresser to pull out a clean t-shirt and shorts to wear afterward. "Our pack bloodline is connected to Avalon, but we can go generations without ever being called into service by the Lady. Only the Alpha ever visits Avalon, and usually it's only to confirm that they are the new Alpha."

"So, you've never been there," he said, though he'd assumed that from what she'd already told him. He disappeared momentarily into the bathroom to get the bath going and grab a few towels from the cupboard, the sound of running water telling her he was filling the tub.

"No, I haven't." She paused, contorting herself to pull her ruined shirt off without making a sound, despite the internalized screaming coming from muscles that really just wanted her to stop moving while they healed up. "I've made contact, but never been there."

If he'd known the pain undressing was going to cause her, he might have volunteered to help, but he had asked. "So, you'll go in the morning?" he asked, though she'd already told him that. "I have to admit, I'm curious." Satisfied that the bathwater was about the right temperature, he turned to watch her undress, ready to help if he was needed.

She couldn't hide the wince as she set her shirt aside, hands dipping to undo her jeans as she leaned a hip against the wall. "I was going to ask if you would like to come with me," she offered, grimacing at the start of her bend.

"Am I allowed to come with you?" he countered, pushing off his lean against the wall to go to her aid. "Here, let me," he told her, stepping in front of her so that he could help her ease her jeans down her hips and off her legs. It didn't help that they were bloody and sticking to her skin, but he was careful to try not to hurt her anymore than she was already hurt.

"Thanks." At least she wasn't so proud she wouldn't accept help when she needed it. Bracing herself against the wall so he could navigate her jeans off her legs was hard enough without bending to do it all herself. "I'm gonna ask permission to bring you with me," she told him through gritted teeth. "Rhys will have told the Lady I asked for you to be brought into the secret by morning."

"So, what happens if we break up?" he asked. Though he was hopeful that wouldn't happen, they hadn't know each other long and he had no idea what the future might hold for either of them. "Do you stick a neuralyzer in my face and wipe my memory?" he asked, with half a smirk. It was obviously a reference to Men in Black, but he was trying to make a point.

She snorted softly in amusement. "Believe it or not, once you're in on the secret, you're in," she told him. "There aren't that many people who know about Avalon. We keep the number small to keep the secret, but if you know about Avalon, it's kind of expected that you'll do what Avalon asks you to do."

Dev set her jeans aside, either for washing or discarding later, and gave her a curious look. "So, what does that mean exactly?" he asked, meeting her gaze, though he was well aware of her half-nude state.

"Most of the time, it means you're just aware of the secret," she explained, leaning back against the wall, her face pale. "Avalon might ask you to find some information for them, or change a record for one of their agents on Earth. Nothing that's morally wrong, just occasionally illegal."

"Okay, that's enough talking for one day," he told her, sliding an arm around her waist to help her to the bathroom. He'd noticed the way all the color had gone out of her face, and knew she needed to get off her feet. Taking a bath might not be easy, but it would be worth it, and then she could rest.

"What, my vocal chords are on bed rest?" she teased, limping into the bathroom with his help. Now her legs were bare, it was easy to see the swelling and bruising that would take a few days to go down. Her knee had been well and truly destroyed in the rogue Alpha's jaws, but Lailah's intervention had mercifully set the bones back into their rightful places.

More importantly, she was damned lucky to be alive. He'd have to thank Rhys later; without the hunter's help, he might have lost her, and that was not something he wanted to think about right now.

"I'd rather not have to call 9-1-1," he replied, as he helped her into the bathroom. "Steady a moment," he said, placing her hands on his shoulders so that he could remove the last piece of clothing before helping her into the tub.

"You won't have to call 9-1-1," she assured him, though that was mainly because she wouldn't let him call an ambulance. Her fingers gently stroked against the nape of his neck as he drew the last of her clothing down her legs, letting out a low sigh as he helped her into the warm water. "Oh gods, that's almost as good as an orgasm."

He chuckled at her comparison. "I hope I can do better than that," he murmured with a smirk as he reached to turn off the water before the tub overflowed. "Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back," he promised, touching a kiss to her cheek before rising to his full height and turning to leave the room, if only momentarily.

She chuckled, tilting her head into his kiss before he straightened up, letting her head fall back as she soaked in the heat of the water. It wouldn't do a lot for the swelling in her leg, but good god, it felt good to her muscles.

"How long does it usually take for you to heal?" he called from the bedroom. A thump told her he'd just removed his boots, followed by the jangle of his belt, and another soft thud as he pulled off his guns and left them on the nightstand. He hung his jacket on a chair and pulled off his shirt, leaving himself only in t-shirt and jeans.

"Couple of days," she answered, tilting her face toward the door. "Like the bite. That was gone by the next day, pretty much. This is going to take a little longer, but I'll be back to normal in just a few days."

"Can they do anything for you in Avalon?" he asked, unsure if there were healers there who could help with her wounds, though he thought there was probably no better healing power than that of an angel.

"They might. There's power there that doesn't come from Heaven or Hell." She smiled as she spoke, closing her eyes for a long moment. "Won't know unless we ask, I guess."
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Rhys Bristol

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Re: Fighting the Good Fight
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2019, 04:38:45 PM »

And then he was there, crouching down beside her, taking up a washcloth and soap to help her bathe, his touch gentle but firm. "Makes me wonder what else I don't know," he told her, smiling to see her relaxing a little.

"I don't think anyone is meant to know everything," she murmured, gently shifting her limbs so he could help her clean up. "Aren't you supposed to be getting cleaned up too?"

"I will," he assured her, but not quite yet. "Why don't you just relax and let someone spoil you a little?" he asked, though it wasn't really a question. He'd shower and scrub himself clean, but not until he had taken care of her.

"Because I spend all day looking after little kids?" she suggested with a smile. Easing herself to sit up, she twisted awkwardly, leaning over the edge of the tub to kiss him. "How'd I get lucky enough to catch your eye, hmm?"

"Do I have to remind you again that I'm not a kid?" he asked again, pausing to savor her kiss. "You had me at hello," he teased, returning her kiss. The quote belonged to a female character in a movie, but it seemed appropriate. "You caught my eye, Maris. I just had a rule against mixing business with pleasure," he told her.

"I'm not business anymore," she grinned back at him, drawing a wet finger down his cheek. "If I was feeling up to it, I'd definitely demonstrate that."

"No, you're definitely pleasure," he remarked, mirroring her grin. She'd never really been business to begin with, but now that he was no longer working at the daycare center, undercover or otherwise, she was definitely no longer hands off. He leaned in for another kiss, letting it linger a moment against her lips. "Now, be a good girl and let me get you cleaned up."

"I thought I was always a good girl," she murmured teasingly, trying to calm the wolf inside her. She could feel her currently non-existent tail wagging under her skin, the inner wolf delighted with being looked after by her chosen male.

"There are times when it's okay to be bad," he teased back, as he went back to bathing her, doing his best to control his own urges, at least until she was well enough for him to act on them. His touch was surprisingly gentle, yet thorough, as he washed the blood from her body.

The scars left on her skin would be gone by morning, though she might not be entirely all healed until the day after that. She relaxed as he swept the blood from her skin, though, enjoying being the cared for rather than the carer for once. "Sure you won't join me?"

"There's not a lot of room in there for both of us," he told her, as tempting as the offer was. "Maybe we should install a hot tub," he suggested with a smirk, though that would hardly do them much good at the moment.

"Mmm, tempting." She laughed wearily, sitting up in the bath with a faint groan. "Come on, get me out and we can drain the tub so you can shower."

"Yes, ma'am," he told her, leaning close to slide an arm around her waist and help her to her feet. Once she was standing, he slid a towel around her body, lifting her hair out of the way. "Feel better?" he asked, trying to force his gaze from wandering.

It was less than dignified to hop out of the bath, but that was exactly what Amaris had to do. She smiled up at Dev as he tucked the towel around her. "You do know you're allowed to look, you know," she pointed out fondly. "Nothing you haven't seen before."

"You do know what looking does to me, right?" he asked, chuckling a little at her hop. He was more than willing to help her out of the tub. "I'm here to help, remember? Do you want me to carry you again?" he asked, not quite a threat.

"Who says I can't take care of that for you?" she asked sweetly. "My hands are fine." There was more than a little suggestion in her expression as she grinned at him, but she knew not to push her luck. "Plant me near the bed?"

"I'd prefer you were well enough to enjoy it, too," he pointed out. He could wait another day, if he had to. They had the rest of their lives, after all, or so he hoped. Instead of scooping her up, he helped her to the bed, one arm around her waist to support her.

"Fine," she conceded with teasing bad grace. "But tomorrow night, I'll rock your world." That was both a promise and a threat, but not necessarily a bad thing. She sank down to sit on the edge of the bed gratefully. "I do solemnly swear not to fall over while you're showering."

He chuckled at her teasing. "Fair enough. I'll just have to be patient, until then," he said. "No peeking either!" he warned with a smirk. "Do you need help getting dressed?" he asked, uncertainly.

"I can manage," she promised, already having decided that the shorts were a no-go tonight. He was just going to have to deal with her wearing something her mother had bought for her years ago in the hope she might one day have a boyfriend for more than a week. "Go and get clean."

He couldn't help but feel eager to scrub the blood and grime from his body, but it wouldn't take long. "I won't be long. Promise," he told her, turning to head back to the bathroom. He'd left a few extra items of clothing here, enough to get him through the next few days anyway.

Amaris' smile followed him into the bathroom before she turned her attention to drying herself down. It took a bit of maneuvering to get the burgundy chemise out of the chest of drawers, but it went on over her head easily. At least she was covered up, right?

True to his word, he wasn't too long in the shower, foregoing shaving for now and focusing on just scrubbing away the blood and sweat and grime. He was going to have to either dispose of his clothes and or scrub them clean, too, but that would have to wait until later. Come morning, she was taking him to Avalon, or so she said. What did one wear when traveling there, he wondered. He turned the water off and patted himself dry before wrapping the towel around his waist and padding back into the bedroom in search of a pair of shorts.

Amaris was on the other side of the room, rummaging through another chest of drawers standing on one leg. The chemise skimmed her thighs, so she was pretty sure she wasn't flashing him.

"I've got some of my brothers' things in here, if you want a borrow of them."

"I left some things when I was here last time," he assured her, though not more than a day's worth of clothes. He went to the closet, where he'd left a small duffel, pausing a moment to admire the view of her in the chemise and chuckling at the irony of it. Did she really think that was going to discourage him from looking?
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay.

"Dream On" - Aerosmith

Rhys Bristol

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Re: Fighting the Good Fight
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2019, 04:39:06 PM »
She looked up at his chuckle. "What?" she asked, half-smiling just because he was. She glanced down at herself, rolling her eyes. "It's not that bad."

"I didn't say it was," he said, giving her an appraising look before turning to snag the duffel and toss it on a chair. "In fact, it's not bad at all." He turned to rummage through the duffel for a pair of shorts, not because he was bashful, but because it was safer that way.

"Would it make it easier to appreciate if I told you my mom bought me this as a joke a few years back?" Amaris offered in amusement, carefully limping back over to the bed.

"I don't really see the humor in it," he confessed as he pulled a pair of boxers up his legs in place of the towel. He moved over to fetch her towel and took them both to hang in the bathroom to dry before returning.

"She said I was more likely to keep a guy if I spiced things up in the bedroom," she explained laughingly, pulling the covers back on the bed. "And then gave me this. As a hint."

"And she doesn't think nudity is spicing things up?" he asked, as he crossed the room to the bed and climbed in beside her. "What do you usually wear to bed?" he asked, though he couldn't imagine her wearing anything he wouldn't find enticing, even if it was just a t-shirt.

"T-shirt or a vest and shorts," she said, carefully easing her sore leg onto the bed to wriggle down beside him. "Tops that aren't long enough to hide my astonishingly pert backside when I'm not comfortable to get the shorts on."

"And you feel the need to hide your backside from me because?" he asked, having a hard time hiding his amusement, as he reached over to help her with the covers. He figured he already knew the answer to that question, as he had admitted to his weakness for said pert backside.

She snorted with laughter, lying back against the pillow as she turned her head toward him. "Well, you know, you seem to have a weakness for just looking at me, so who knows what would happen if I had it all hanging out lying next to you in the dark?" she teased.

He rolled his eyes and smirked. "What's the worst than can happen?" he asked, given the fact that they'd already slept together - and it wasn't just sleeping that had gone on. "If you were that worried, you shouldn't have invited me home with you," he teased, turning to flick the light off before settling himself beside her. "Seriously, Maris. How are you feeling?" he said, turning serious.

"You're the one who's worried about me going that far tonight," she pointed out, but the seriousness of his tone sobered her. "Honestly? I feel wrung out. My leg hurts, I can feel my mom and my aunt in my head and they're hurting so much over losing my uncle. And I'm suddenly the Alpha. I never wanted to be responsible for my whole bloodline."

Dev sighed softly. There wasn't much he could do, but try to be there for her. He couldn't bring her uncle back, and he couldn't help her be Alpha, but he could be there for her, and he could believe in her. "If it means anything, I believe in you, Maris," he told her quietly, his tone sincere. "And I'm not going anywhere. I'm here for you, if you need me," he told her, taking her hand and pressing it to his lips.

She rolled onto her side, curling into him with a low sigh. "You have no idea how much I appreciate you," she murmured, stroking her cheek against his shoulder. "How much I need you." She laughed softly. "I don't even know your full name, and I'm still pretty sure if you asked me to marry you, I'd be down the courthouse in a half hour with the ring off a milk bottle."

He couldn't help but chuckle at that, even as she curled against him. It hadn't occurred to him that she didn't know his full name yet; it hadn't seemed very important, and they hadn't known each other that long. But he had something more important to ask her. "Did you mean it when you said you could love me?" he asked, unsure if she even remembered it.

She smiled in the darkness, kissing his shoulder gently. "Yeah," she murmured. "I've never felt this safe with anyone. This wanted. I'm pretty close to falling. If you don't want me to, you need to say so."

He was quiet a long moment, as if considering her words, or maybe surprised by them before replying. "Would it surprise you to know that I feel the same?" he asked, his voice still quiet, still solemn.

She shifted against him, wishing she could share with him the wagging of that unseen tail under her skin. It would make this conversation much easier if he could see how happy that made both her and her wolf.

"A little," she admitted. "Most men can't handle a mate who can literally rip out a throat with her teeth. But you're not most men."

He smiled, a flash of white teeth in the dark, though she probably had no problem seeing him. "No, I'm not," he said, in agreement. He might be human, but it didn't seem to bother him that she was more than human. "Get some rest, love," he urged her, touching a soft kiss to her lips. "I'll still be here in the morning."

She hummed into the kiss, just a soft sound of happiness that he was still there, and nestled into him, letting her breathing calm. Her leg throbbed, but she knew it wouldn't hurt so badly in the morning. It had certainly been one hell of a day.

He smiled into her kiss, lifting a hand to brush a soft caress against her cheek. "It's Duncan," he confessed, finally giving her his full name. "Duncan Devereux."

"I like that," she murmured. "I like you, too." She giggled quietly, drawing in a slow breath as she settled down. "Promise you'll be here in the morning?"

"Promise you won't call me Duncan?" he countered, amusement apparent in his voice. Of course, he'd be there in the morning. He'd promised her that already, and he wasn't the type of man to renege on his promises.

"Promise." Nestling just that little bit closer, she tucked her arm about him, and was out like a light within seconds. The next few days might be hard on her, but so long as Dev was sticking around, she was sure she could handle it.

He had told her wasn't going anywhere and he intended to keep that promise, no matter what. He smiled as she drifted off to sleep and tucked the blanket around her, chuckling a little to himself at the irony of it all. His aunt had always told him he'd fall hard someday when he least expected it. He just hadn't expected it to be now.

But then ... that was the point. Wasn't it?
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay.

"Dream On" - Aerosmith