DeClan Asher Quinn

Fucking Out of Here.....

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"…where? New York is the largest working hospital still in North America. Has the largest concentrated population. Has the most people in need. The hardest cases that no one else can solve………..or touch."

Has the largest instance of stupid too…  brow buckled slightly.  It still didn’t answer why he put up with so much.  She had to resist the urge to jump slightly at his errant turning of the wheel every so often.  Had it not been for the sense of calm rolling from him in the vastness of nothing, she would have been terrified.  She should have been terrified.

 

"…perhaps I am like your brother in this. I couldn’t leave it alone."

Lips pursed.

 

It got her brother into a lot of trouble.  They both seemed to ponder in the “silence”.  A shiver racked her shoulders, not because she was cold… it was just, the thought of everything that had happened in the last few days.  Coat was tucked even tighter around her, she was starting to get cold- unsure of why she didn’t feel comfortable engaging anything to warm herself up.  Seemed, weird.  They had left everything behind, did she want to drag that along too?

 

"….fear drives everything these days……..……fear….. and pain."

[maree]…not me..[/maree] she said mostly to herself. [maree]….there’s nothing to be afraid of.[/maree]

 

She’d hit the very edge of fear, challenged it and bounced back.  Not unscathed, but wiser, fearless.  She truly feared nothing.  All was as it should be, or would be.  All she could do was go along for the ride.  Of course there were moments when she was scared of random things, but deep in her core she knew nothing could touch her.  She wouldn’t be afraid like that again.

 

"…couple more hours we will make Ocean City…. no one there anymore but good place to dock a bit for sleep. Can normally just sail through the night and not go too far off course…. but not in winter waters, have to steer the whole time."

She nodded quietly, settling into the coat like a parka and watching the sky.  Warmer…. she’d wanted to hear the word warmer.

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[maree]…not me…. there's nothing to be afraid of.[/maree]

 

Faint smile tickled the edges of his lips. Not that he didn’t believe she meant it… but something always tickled the dark corners of the psyche… he too was "not afraid of anything"… but the dark corners hid… things.

 

An almost comfortable silence fell over them. The wilder the ride got, the calmer the doctor seemed to become. Smile licked upward each time their companion surfaced in the violent waves to blast water against the side of Sam's hull. Winds were cold and chaotic but in their favor, Ocean City coming up in a little under ninety minutes. As the boat fought him to move inland, the winds began to pitch them both left and right as much as up and down, it would tear them apart. Hands left the wheel as feet leapt out of the captain's cabin onto the thin side deck, body automatically pitching to keep upright like a bobble doll that could not be knocked off its seat. A feline that could not be knocked from its perch.

 

Lock on the main mast was wrestled downward, the rope releasing to send the massive sail furling wild and loose in the wind as he muscled it down to the boom, latching the flapping wet whip to the large horizontal post, a welt rising on his cheek where it got him before he got it.

 

Fingers scratched at the shadow on his cheek before he hopped back down into the captain cabin to stand behind the second wheel, key turned to ignite the engine and head inland on gas power. There used to be a large white flag on the front of the boat garage for nights just like this, when it would be nearly impossible to spot it in the churning storm. But like a migrating animal he seemed to have an internal homing beacon that drove him right to it.

 

Under the wheel he unlocked the glove compartment and hoped the solar panels had enough sun in the last few days to have some juice in the batteries as he pulled out a large remote and pointed it to the shadowy coast.

 

Nothing.

 

That would be a pain in the ass, docking beside the garage and wrangling the two story glass garage door by hand. He did that when he originally found the place until he installed the solar panels to the single door he used. Hopefully it was just the storm blocking the signal until he got closer. As the boat pitched less in the protected waters of the inlet he tried again, relieved when a faint little light turned on betraying the door was sliding upward.

 

The garage was at the base of a ridiculously decadent mansion. He never went up to the house, he had picked the spot because it was the only boat garage that he could literally drive Sam into without pulling down the mast. (garage) One side of the garage had an apartment so there was no need to go to the house anyway. Besides, he usually stayed on Sam when he docked.

 

The garage still had some of the original "toys". A few were cannibalized for parts. He had made good use of the find. As he put the beast gently into reverse to slow their movement he chuckled at the whale making itself at home in the bay next door having swum under the glass garage door. The water was deep enough that it seemed content to hang out outside of the violent waters. Likely the first peace it had in weeks.

 

Engine died as he quickly jumped off the deck to the center dock, pulling Sam's tie off until it gently hit the bumper on the dock before the small garage door light flicked off to bathe them in darkness. Makeshift switch on the wall was hit, a small light on the side wall flickering on, a jimmy-rig to his solar panels.

 

He blinked at her in the soft dim light as though he had forgotten she was there. Fingers scratched the back of his head as the other gestured up the stairs near him.

 

[declan]…. apartment upstairs… has working water and a good little stove heater. I keep a stack of wood next to it all the time.[/declan]

 

It was a clean loft, the bathroom the only separate room as the bed looked out a wall of windows, kitchenette in a corner of the large room. He kept the loft tidy and stocked with canned goods in case he ever had to stay more than a single night. Smile was a bit lopsided as he walked to the back of the hull to tie off the back against the dock, peppered curls shaking to spray a bit of the ocean waters from the locks.

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Lashes fluttered slightly, soft sigh at the weight that finally seemed to begin to let up.  Weather was horrid, the fact they were in the swell of it was completely crazy, still… no fear.  She’d chosen to do this, he’d chosen as well.  Impossible odds, it was the willingness to face what others couldn’t and wouldn’t that oddly enough made her light.  She tucked herself in the corner of the seat, seemingly lost to thoughts that were far from the cold and darkness, flicking out of it when he moved in what had felt like hours.  She watched him, not knowing whether it was inherent skill or something beyond.  He spoke as if he’d always been here- not from some other place far away.  She didn’t know what was worse, adjusting to a new body or a new world.  A new body it seemed.  A new world was around you, to be changed at the core… that was something terrible wasn’t it?

 

An elf in a new body.

 

Hm.

 

He didn’t seem to mind it so much out here.

 

Eyes blinked at the light, adjusting from the roar and darkness to the beacon of sudden calm, not missing the lurking massive shadow beyond of what she could deduce was the actual house. It felt flat to her as she dared reach out to it, hulking.  It was empty, lashes lowering as she stood to peer over the side at their companion.  Odd little thing.  Darkness again.

 

Pupils were confused, maybe it was the sudden silence from the cacophony of the storm.  Everything throbbed, fingers pinching between her eyes when the soft light popped on.

 

[declan]…. apartment upstairs… has working water and a good little stove heater. I keep a stack of wood next to it all the time.[/declan]

 

She nodded, making her way downstairs to grab her meager bag.  Sure footing she wasn’t as she stepped onto the dock, the sudden solid feeling too hard against the constant adjustment of muscles to balance.  It took her a moment, the flail of arms like a toddler on a balance beam for the first time, her legs trying to realize they didn’t need to be fluid anymore, the sheepish smile amused as each step became a bit steadier.

 

Up the stairs, bag set quietly on a chair.  Hat off, coat off and hung.  Towel was found first, wrapping it around her plait and squeezing as she got the wood into the stove to get it started, no idea exactly how this was going to work.  Boat had its own place.  Was he coming up here and she staying down there?  Vice versa.

 

“Going to get this started and try a shower… warm up.  I'd ask if you needed help, but you seem to have it...”

 

She winced bit at her slightly teasing voice. It sounded almost too loud against the sudden silence of their haven.  She could warm up on her own, but she was tired.  The last few days, the weird of not feeling anything but space around her for hours, she was tired… and cold.  She’d be absolutely heartbroken if he said there was no hot water.  Of course, there was a stove… but there was just something about being able to dry off after being warm, not dry off as you were trying to get warm.

 

Lighting the stove the old fashioned way, she waited a bit, finding where things were, prepping for the night, finally stepping into the bathroom to turn on the water.  It paused a moment, sputtering before finding its flow.  She wasn’t really sure she was going to get hot water, but… there were solar panels, and he did say…

 

After a few moment of wiggling fingers under the stream, voila.  Door kicked closed behind her, everything was pulled off and tossed over the sink to put by the stove later, stepping into the heated streams and pulling the curtain, the shiver from heat hitting cold skin bringing a string of percussive words to her lips.

 

Swearing with a rich hum in Czech was pretty much almost melodic…

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Gray eyes watched the wet woman vanish below deck from his perch on the dock tying off Sam's hull. It took him a moment to realize he had been staring, even if it had been of the back of her head, eyes averting to the other bay where their companion seemed content to float and occasionally spray a douse of air and water upward.

 

It felt strange. To be here with another person. These voyages had always been alone, his solace, a way of escaping the reality that had become his nearly ten years before.

 

 As she re-emerged and hit the dock, a glint of a smile crossed his lips as he tried not to watch her sway and wobble arms out. For a land-lubber the sudden stop of violent sways could almost feel unnatural as the muscles still felt the need to fight for direction. For him it was as natural as breathing to adapt between the two extremes.  He didn’t miss the sheepish smile which only made him move gray orbs more intently at the rope he was tying off.

 

It felt strange….

 

He relaxed when she vanished into the upstairs loft. He slept up there when it was really cold but most of the time found he was more at home tucked into cabin with the hull swaying gently under him.

 

“Going to get this started and try a shower… warm up.  I'd ask if you needed help, but you seem to have it...”

 

He startled at the voice floating down from the loft. Staring up at the open door he could see the faint amber glow inside of the small bulb that was hooked up to the main switch, her shadow passing by.

 

"No worries… I got it down here. Just need to… you know… put the boat to bed….so to speak."

 

Throat cleared after the stilted speech, staring at Sam who was already "put to bed".  Shower did sound good. He only now noticed he was soaked through to the bone and the longer he stood still the colder his skin under the dripping clothes got.

 

"oh… hot water might take a bit…. got solar panels running an instant tankless but hasn’t been on for a while so…. ya… let me know if it doesn’t warm up."

 

He waited until the water was running a while. When she said nothing he assumed the tankless kicked in and she was enjoying a hot shower.  Now he had a dilemma. He could wait and then go take a shower after her, hoping the solar panels had enough juice to keep the tankless going that long… or he could just call it and wriggle his cold ass out of his clothes and into some dry ones and warm up over time.

 

A shower meant going up there…. with her….

 

As confident as he was sailing his vessel, was as painfully awkward he was now at the concept of a naked wet woman now upstairs. 

 

It had been a long time…….. a really long time.

 

Into dry clothes it was. Wet sweatshirt was slopped over his head, tossed on the rail of the dock to drip dry as he slid the soaked shoes off his bare feet and started to unbuckle his pants. He didn’t want to drag his soaked clothes down into the dry cabin of the boat and she was upstairs in a shower anyway so he was….safe.

 

As the zipper went down a stream of swears erupted upstairs. Gray orbs were huge.

 

She was scalded…fell through a rotted floor…bit by a wild animal that had taken up residence… what?!?

 

Bare feet slapped the deck boards making the stairs in about a half second before he sprinted up them three at a time, the bathroom door flung open, slapping the wall with an atrocious clap. Cold air flooded the steam filled room as he stood half naked in the doorway.

 

"WHAT'S WRONG? YOU OK?!?"

 

Instantly his lips clamped shut as he was staring at her naked figure through the clear curtain. He had never considered the need to swap it out, modesty wasn’t something he considered since he came here alone. Ears blistered crimson as he snapped around, back to her.

 

"So sorry.. I…I heard you swearing… worried that… you know…something….. damn… sorry."

 

Swallow was like dead weight down his throat as he stepped a dripping foot out of the bathroom, hand reaching to gently pull the abused door closed behind him with another soft "sorry".

 

He quickly followed his trail of wet footprints back out of the loft and back down the stairs, the crimson flooding down to the lobes before staining down his neck and prickling goose bumps over frozen skin.

 

He couldn’t un-see what he had seen, and he felt guilty that he wasn’t sure he wanted to.

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It tickled the back of her neck. With as much as she was trying to get rid of any and all somethings permeating into her bruised psyche, lack of buzz from a million people around her in the concrete jungle only amplified whatever floated from her companion… even from the big gray hitchhiker beneath the waves. Animals did have personalities, not necessarily thoughts, but intentions.  An empath could feel those things whether they were “in English” or not.  She felt the peculiarity in his mood, which was why she opted for the loft.  He could stay on his boat with whatever ghosts were making him oddly not as carefree as he was when out in what most would consider certain insanity.

 

"No worries… I got it down here. Just need to… you know… put the boat to bed….so to speak.  oh… hot water might take a bit…. got solar panels running an instant tankless but hasn’t been on for a while so…. ya… let me know if it doesn’t warm up."

 

It did and she loved it, though almost scalding, but he wouldn’t shut up.  Not physically… his unsettled vibe peppering her skin was almost as heavy as the hot water.  Sigh was almost a huff, brushing the soap off her skin that had lit up with the root pattern burns from several days before.  It would be short, she was being a hot water hog and she could warm up on her own, brain snapped to attention by a zing of panic from below. Shit, what now…

 

Smack of the door brought an embered reaction up her spine like crackling flames, brow quirking at him when she realized why he was there.

 

"WHAT'S WRONG? YOU OK?!?"

 

It stayed quirked as he freaked and turned, reaching to turn off the water and sweeping the mass of hair over her shoulder to twist out a waterfall of droplets.

 

"So sorry.. I…I heard you swearing… worried that… you know…something….. damn… sorry."

 

She pulled a towel and fluffed it around her, stepping out with the soft pad of bare feet.

 

“You speak Czech?” hummed quietly after his nearly inaudible sorry came from the other side of the closed door.   He was completely freaking his shit.  “That’s a bit disconcerting.  I’ll watch my language from now on.”

 

Hair was squeezed again as she wrapped a towel around that too and gathered up her wet clothes.

 

“Get in there before your freeze.”

 

She should have been embarrassed, but that was something she’d never been at odds with.  All over the world, people viewed themselves differently; she just didn’t think modesty was worth worrying about.  He on the other hand seemed to be having a heart attack, and it was her nature to put people at ease. She simply was always at ease, or tried to be within the confines of her unwanted power.

 

“Get in there now Asher, while the water is still hot,” voice was quietly terse.  “I can’t sail that thing myself if you catch pneumonia... and my toes are itching for some sandy beaches to walk in.”

 

On cue, toe reached over to push the bathroom door open a crack for him.  She stepped aside and started draping her clothes to dry near the stove, ignoring the fact he was half naked, turning her back to give him a moment to collect himself.  Jesus, they were just tits.  Given the color of his ears, if she said something it looked like he would probably die more of embarrassment than freezing to death.

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The blink at her naked form seemed to last an eternity.  The mere fraction of a moment leaving a burned image. It had been a long time since he had appreciated the naked female form other than a body on an operating table. He had to admit it was a beautiful form to appreciate. Her dark curls laying wet clinging to her neck and down her collarbone, one long curl hooked just around a round….

 

He had spun around in the hopes of being released of the memory of the visage only for it to burn deeper, flushing the ears a brilliant crimson.

 

"You speak Czech?.That’s a bit disconcerting.  I’ll watch my language from now on."

 

He had almost made it out the door when she spoke, head shook as he cleared his throat after the first "No" nearly had a pubescent squeak before the timber became once more deep and masculine.

 

No….. no… but swearing in any language has a… cadence… a rhythm….so…. you know……

 

Hand rubbed the back of his cold neck as the chill ran bumps over every inch of flesh.

 

“Get in there before your freeze.”

 

Huh?...

 

Not his most eloquent response but under the circumstances it was understandable.  It took him a moment to gather his wits as he heard the metal rings of the shower curtain slide away. It wasn’t like the curtain offered any privacy, but somehow the lack of it between them only burned his ears brighter.

 

I um…. got a shower on the boat can use….really just….. you can enjoy it all here… you know…. to yourself…. I mean…

 

Of course, the shower on the boat was small, he had to duck under the spout and hope that the tiny heater would give him about 3 min of lukewarm water.

 

“Get in there now Asher, while the water is still hot, I can’t sail that thing myself if you catch pneumonia... and my toes are itching for some sandy beaches to walk in.”

 

He half jumped at her curt words before her toe pushed at the bathroom door and she slid out by his side to pass towards the stove.

 

Ya…. I guess I could…. you know…. and then… get out of your way and all…. I mean…. water's already hot…

 

Side glance appreciated the damp legs that pushed out from under her towel, tracing the curve just behind her knee before he pivoted and found himself facing back into the bathroom. Swallowing he pushed inside and quietly closed the door, breathing once more only once it clicked into place. He suddenly wished he had put a lock on the darn thing. Perhaps if he had she would have locked it and this all could have been avoided.

 

Wet jeans nearly fell off his narrow hips… he needed to eat more. They crashed to the tile floor with a sickening slop as he reached in and turned the water back on. Muscles melted as he stepped into the tiled surround and slid the curtain shut to keep the water from splashing over the entire room. There was another benefit to this shower, it had real water pressure. Sighing gently to himself, gray eyes closed, hand resting on the tile above the old silver temperature control knob, the water left to pound on the back of his neck and shoulders, chasing away the freeze that had sunk into every bone.

 

Bliss. It stole from him all awareness of where he was, who he was with… as breathing became regular once more. Time fell away as his forehead came forward to rest on the back of his hand, sleep almost finding him as he stood there. Silver blinked open as the heated waters became lukewarm, losing the stock from the hot water tank.  Frown spoke his disapproval as he quickly picked up the soap and washed the city and sea from his skin, shampoo foaming over his head, the grease washing away to highlight the gray wings at his temples.

 

Just as the water turned cold he snapped the valve off, sliding the curtain open to reach for the towel that was now missing. Blink was pronounced as he suddenly was aware again of where he was and who was in the other room. Ears flushed as wet feet stepped out of the shower, the cabinet in the wall opened to grab another towel, the first one discarded when he realized he had no clothes to change into and it was not long enough to properly wrap around his hips.

 

Shit….

 

Word was soft under his breath as he rummaged for a bigger one. Finally managing to get one that tucked modestly around his hips and hung to his knees.  The smaller towel was scratched over his curls to discourage the moisture from clinging before he wiped the fogged mirror with it, frowning at his own reflection.  He needed some sun, he hadn't gone rock climbing or sailing in a while and it showed in his vampire complexion. Opening the mirrored cabinet he used the deodorant and mouthwash before approaching the door with his wet jeans in hand, standing for what seemed an eternity with a hand on the doorknob.

 

Ah fuck it. Knob turned and the door was pushed open, the silver timidly peeking around the corner of the door at her. Unsure what to say now.

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She couldn’t shake it off.  The distance, the weight lifted to carefree and now the taught skittering that was buzzing against her skin like a stiff breeze.  If her own thoughts didn’t drive her mad, his shifting moods were going to.  Was he afraid of her?  Of course he was freaked out about walking in on her.  Fuck.  Who cared.  She wasn’t American.  American’s had this weird hang up about their bodies always being about sex.  They were just bodies.

 

No….. no… but swearing in any language has a… cadence… a rhythm….so…. you know……

 

“Touche’” she admitted.

 

He was right after all.

 

I um…. got a shower on the boat can use….really just….. you can enjoy it all here… you know…. to yourself…. I mean…

 

She was going to drag him in there if she had to.  Seriously, she would be fucked if he got sick.  There was no way she could sail that thing on her own.

 

Ya…. I guess I could…. you know…. and then… get out of your way and all…. I mean…. water's already hot…

 

“It’s your water, I’m good.”

 

There it was again.  Jesus. Sitting near the stove she finger combs the curls, squeezing the water out of them with the towel as she heard him climb in behind her.  Hair was put into a long plait, feeling… the nothingness.  Someday she would be able to put it into words.  He had fallen asleep or was incredibly close to it.  Soft footsteps back to the bathroom to reach in and fish his jeans out, the closed door enveloping the entire room in a fog of steam.  There was no intention of turn-about fair play. None at all.  The man had to be able to take a shower in peace, that’s what the whole deal at the hospital was about and she wasn’t about to delve into the same level as the rest of…

 

Eyes blinked at the shimmer that caught her eye, the soft twinkle as water turned metal into chimes bringing a pursed frown to her features as she stole out and closed the door quietly.

 

What a complete ass she was. Strides were gentle, moving like she was back at her job.  Silent.  Unseen.  A teeshirt covered with a deep grey Irish sweater; it was warmer than hell but worn to the threads and she loved it.  Jeans with tattered cuffs.  Stepping out she wrung his jeans out, finding a place to hang them and her towels, leaving him to his loft.

 

Her skin was so warm now her cheeks seemed to steam, they had to steam; the bite against the chill outside of the loft was sobering.

 

She had no right to be here.  She was an intruder.

 

Silent bare feet made their way down the steps and hopped effortlessly onto the boat, the shadow beneath it stirring slightly, small laps of water against the hull a welcome white noise as she sat on the side with her feet dangling over the edge. Hands slid under her thighs, watching the shadow.  Mist rolled off everything.  It must have been her, water on the boat around her drying, the top of the water on her side gently starting to waft a light fog.  Was she angry?  Yes.  At herself.  Feet slowly swung back and forth, the water far below moving with the motion.  She was bleeding out again.  The math all added up now, and that made her a third wheel.  Christ.  She was so fucking selfish sometimes.

 

She should drop herself into the water.

 

She heard the door open upstairs, staying put.

 

Eyes traced the tiny ripples, making more, she rarely used her telekinetic abilities.  They scared her… right now though, the focus Ardal had taught her made thoughts more rational, and the guilt a little lighter.  Lip was chewed furiously, forehead relaxing slightly when the small burst of air and water sprinkled the surface. Lifting her feet, she stretched her toes and let go of her pull on the water, the swirls lost to thoughts that she needed to paint her toenails again.

 

She would apologize.  Grab him clothes and apologize. Pushing to her feet, she disappeared below deck and grabbed his bug-out bag, hopping back up the steps.  She relinquished the bag to the couch and stuffed her hands into her back pockets.  She didn’t trust them.

 

“Look,” she started.  “I’m sorry, I made some connections... I had no idea, have no right to be here.  This is your space.  I can crash here until you come back up from the south alone.”

 

It was her turn to find a spot on the floor and rub the back of her neck a moment.

 

“The boat, your delirium at the hospital.  Sam, was your wife,” she nodded softly toward the rings on his necklace.  It was now a bit painfully obvious she’d made the connection.  Where most she knew would be demanding they be removed, she found herself admiring them.  Was she jealous?  Yes.  She’d never had anything like it.  A lot of men, yes, one she would marry?  Hell no.  Her smile was incredibly soft, nodding slightly as she came close enough to pick up his hand and close his fingers around the rings.  He didn’t need to answer.

 

“The loss is so much deeper.  A spouse is someone you choose, not something you're born into without choice.  There is no sorrow like it.  I'm starting to understand you a bit.  But... .don’t let this,” she gripped the closed hand a moment, realizing how warm she was if he still felt cool to her, “make this numb.”  finger tapped his forehead once.  The smile was understanding as she sought out her bag, “Life is still out there, and doesn't require you to forget in order to still love it.  You relax up here, I’ll sleep in the boat.  I’m my own space heater.  Don't sweat the shower thing.  I'm European, I've been to topless beaches.  A lot.  Doesn't always end well for gingers.  Learned that lesson the hard way.”

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He completely missed the mouse sneak into the bathroom to retrieve his jeans. Shoulders had relaxed to the point of borderline slumber. He had been running on adrenaline since the events at the hospital. He drank too much and ate and slept too little. It was a bad combination.

 

Cold alone snapped him from his reverie, bringing the womb of warmth to an abrupt halt. By the time he peeked out of the bathroom he was not sure what to say to her. The fact that she was not there drawing him out of the bathroom with a blink.

 

Where had she…… as if on cue she came in with his duffle, dropping it onto the couch. Blink at her was pronounced. Was she expecting him to sleep in the same bed as her?? Lips parted only to shut as she spoke, acutely aware that he was dripping and naked under a towel and she was once more fully clothed.

 

“I’m sorry, I made some connections... I had no idea, have no right to be here.  This is your space.  I can crash here until you come back up from the south alone.”

 

Wait….what??

 

“The boat, your delirium at the hospital.  Sam, was your wife,”

 

He had taken a step towards her only to freeze in his tracks as "her" name was spoken. Fingers of his right hand reflexively went up to curl around the two platinum bands that hung from the chain around his neck that she indicated… met by her hand closing over his. Somewhere in the mix he forgot to breathe, heat wafting from her touch that made his spine shiver with the droplets still slinking down his skin.

 

“The loss is so much deeper.  A spouse is someone you choose, not something you're born into without choice.  There is no sorrow like it.  I'm starting to understand you a bit.  But... .don’t let this, make this numb.” 

 

The frown was puzzled, lost, as she touched his forehead with a smile.

 

“Life is still out there, and doesn't require you to forget in order to still love it.  You relax up here, I’ll sleep in the boat.  I’m my own space heater.  Don't sweat the shower thing.  I'm European, I've been to topless beaches.  A lot.  Doesn't always end well for gingers”

 

What the hell was happening? Brain was fogged, Sam now lingering in his thoughts in a very "real" way. In a way he hadnt thought of her in a long time.

 

As Maree turned to get her things, his hand caught hers, pausing her turn away.  At first he didn’t say anything, his brain had paused, words refusing to form.  The silence lingered like a weight in the room before lips finally were dampened in preparation to speak. What to respond to first was still uncertain.

 

I sleep… in the boat… because I prefer it. The sway feels more natural at times than a motionless bed.

 

He didn’t let go her hand as wet bare feet shifted closer, the furl of his brow betrayed he struggled for words and yet wanted to speak. Lips were licked again as a breath lifted the wet chest.

 

Ten years ago….

 

It was said as though Maree would understand. The frown still lingering as he absently lifted his free hand to caress a thumb over the side of the smaller ring.

 

…that I um….. lost her…………. ten years ago.

 

It was the first time he acknowledged it out loud since it had happened. Now said aloud, it seemed almost absurd that after so much time he still struggled. But there was more to the story than that. He had not been able to save her. So many had been snatched from death by his hands, but she….she he had failed.

 

Makes no sense for you to stay here…..island is big enough for both of us if you are looking to be alone…. and at least its warm there.

 

He still hadn't let go her hand as he realized his towel was not as secure as he wanted, hands snapping to grab the hem as it started to slip from his hips, pulling her closer in the effort before successfully releasing her fingers. He blinked at her as he bent slightly at the waist in an effort to retuck without exposing, putting him nose to nose with the hiding ginger.

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Where had her empathy gone?  Before this entire mess, she had the innate ability to put people at ease, free, easy going, no worries, an artist. Everything had beauty and meaning. She still thought that.. but, eloquence.  Eloquence had escaped her.  In her attempt to clear the air, she’d realized the air perhaps didn’t want to be cleared. Then why, so brazenly, were things in front of her face that she’d never noticed before…

 

Eloquence. 

 

Sigh was soft, a crinkled look up at his confusion, almost ready to take a step back as he stepped forward. Turn it off. Turn it off.  Brows lowered, SHE was numb.  New York was a constant hum, and she had shielded herself against it. Out here. Jesus. It wasn’t her, it was him, and it was a flood.  She managed the eloquence for what it was worth, and it only made things worse.  It was him… unable to resist the urge to brush the skin of her forearm to see if the peppering sensation would go away.

 

She needed to get some distance, and he caught her, and it caught her breath.  Eyes tracked to his hand, urging it to let go, unable to do so because…  just because…. it was complicated.

 

I sleep… in the boat… because I prefer it. The sway feels more natural at times than a motionless bed.

 

She nodded, eyes still on the back of his hand, very aware goosebumps had flared up that arm. He moved closer, she stopped breathing.  She nodded, a springy curl quickly tucked behind her ear by her freehand.

 

Ten years ago….

 

When his thumb touched the smaller ring, she sucked in a silent, stilted breath.

 

…that I um….. lost her…………. ten years ago.

 

“I know.”

 

The tightness in her throat had almost completely closed off her airway, the pale green that finally flicked up to him was riddled with moisture on the lashes.

 

“I can feel it,” words were strained.  “Ten years like yesterday.”

 

Free hand reached up to whisk away the droplets bubbling at the inside corners of her eyes. Threatening to spill over, a taught lower lip caught from trembling. Jesus her chest hurt…  it was him.

 

“Sorry,” she sniffled and half smiled, wiping the back of her hand over the tip of her nose to catch a droplet and dry it on the front of her thigh.  “Comes with the territory, just a lot more tuned in without the background ‘noise’ of a million other people.  You’ve always had this… wall. Hard to read.”

 

Sniffling again, her chest rose and fell calmly with a small ‘whew’ on her lips, half smile on her lips to give a bit of perk that it was okay.  There was so much guilt.  It was crushing.

 

His jerk to catch the towel made her flinch, a melodic ping made her blink, two infinity shapes making the sound of a flipped coin spinning in the air as the rings twinkled downward again.  Reflexes reached out to catch them, no idea why, almost knocking heads with him as he fought to reclaim his towel, letting them go to slap a palm on his chest to keep from knocking herself out… or at the very lease a good lump.

 

“You cannot possibly be this much of a clutz,” she hissed quietly, eyes slightly cross-eyed from the close vantage point, breathing finally as she leaned back to give him his space and dignity, and herself some air.  Several smooth strides moved silently to the stove and pulled one of her now warm and dry towels down and tossed it to him, offering his bag at his feet before slouching into the couch with her back to him.

 

“You should tell me about her,” she pulled at a stray piece of yarn on her cuff, voice quiet as she tucked her legs under her, looking relaxed… doing a good job of faking it.  “Was she a doctor?”

 

Was she poking the bear?  She didn’t know… she just had to shift the guilt that was seething from him in waves and making her nauseous.  Maybe on purpose, maybe not… head turned slightly, a sprout of drying curls the only veil between a really fucking good view and being discovered.

 

“You can tell me it’s none of my business, that’s fair,” voice was so quiet, sniffle again soft, reaching to tug down the tattered cuffs of her jeans.  “I can’t read minds, my mojo doesn’t work that way…  …but I’m absolutely sure, whatever happened, it wasn’t your fault.”

 

For once, she was incredibly… awkward.  Lower lip was chewed.

 

"If Gertrude knew I was sitting here with you in a towel she would kick my ass," she leaned over and grabbed her messenger bag, settling back in and sliding out one of her sketch pads before it flopped back to the floor. Soft humor... always made things lighter.

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“I know. I can feel it, Ten years like yesterday.”

 

Ya….

 

His soft admission agreeing to the fact that it still felt like yesterday so often. It was odd. Sailing out here had been one of the first times that Sam had managed to not linger thick in his thoughts.

 

He hadn't let go her hand yet when she wiped the moisture from her eyes, drawing the brow downward. What had he done now? He was so bad at the social thing. He had spent the last ten years being nothing more than a hermit or a surgeon. The extent of his social had been across the bar from a tender that knew him just enough to always pour the right drink and keep the other patrons off him. He was just about to ask what was wrong.

 

“Sorry,  Comes with the territory, just a lot more tuned in without the background ‘noise’ of a million other people.  You’ve always had this… wall. Hard to read.”

 

 Oh….

 

It wasn’t a very eloquent reaction.  

 

Sorry…..

 

Neither was that.

 

Throat cleared as he tried to collect himself to say something better. He knew he was hard to read. He preferred it that way… it kept people at a distance. He didn’t get the chance as he felt the towel begin to slip from his hips resulting and a chain of movement that left her palm on his wet chest and her features a mere inch from his silver orbs.

 

“You cannot possibly be this much of a clutz,”

 

I'm not.

 

The frown and protest almost had a boyish indignant charm. As she managed to pull away first he pivoted a hip slightly so he could open the towel without exposing himself and retighten it around his waist. He free climbed fucking mountains. He wasn’t a clutz. Petulant frown side-glanced at her, ears dipping back had lost much of the red blush.

 

He was just socially inept one on one. Not exactly something he was going to voice aloud. He blinked as he was tossed a warmer towel and his duffle was dumped at his feet. Tossing the warm one around his shoulders he bent down to unzip the duffle.

 

"You should tell me about her"

 

Mmmm….

 

He didn’t seem to have fully grasped what she said as he pulled out a long sleeved gray tee and a pair of black jeans.

 

"Was she a doctor?"

 

Yea…..

 

Reply was automatic but soft as he rubbed the warm towel over his cold damp hair, unaware she was peeking as he dropped it onto the floor and lifted his arms over his head to slip the tee over his forearms, stretching the neck out as he flipped it over his head before sliding it down his torso. Towel around his waist had once again begun to creep down the hips, his V muscle exposing as he snapped the jeans out in front of him and slid a foot into one leg with the towel still around his waist.


Pediatric surgeon……

 

Towel fell off to the ground as he wriggled the jeans up the damp thighs and finally found some modesty again as he buttoned the row of silver heads before letting the tee fall over the waist.

 

“You can tell me it’s none of my business, that’s fair, I can’t read minds, my mojo doesn’t work that way…  …but I’m absolutely sure, whatever happened, it wasn’t your fault.”

 

Head shook a bit as he grouched and picked up the two towels, ears dipping back like a guilty puppy as the frown lingered. Hand rubbed over the pained expression as he walked back into the small bathroom to hang the towels over the rail on the wall, words coming quietly from inside the safety of the other room.

 

I didn’t save her….

 

He breathed deeply before exiting the bathroom again, hands sheepishly in his pockets as shoulders shrugged a bit at her. Silver watching her chew her lip, wondering what she was thinking. 

 

"If Gertrude knew I was sitting here with you in a towel she would kick my ass,"

 

No…she'd strip you down and spank you over a knee…

 

It came out unexpectedly, mirth clear in the tone. His mother hen was  a vicious lioness when it came to his protection.  For the longest time she had been the only one on his side.

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He seemed confused by her confession, but.. not the least bit unsettled when it began to sink in.  Bully for her she supposed.  The spinning emotions felt so tangled, the beast downstairs, his confused discomfort that she was starting to realize might be as much hers as his.  Trying to pull everything apart felt like separating magnets.  Things were there, she could feel them, but finding where one ended and the other began was exhausting and terrifying at the same time.

 

Then defensive... the clutz comment.  It was anger, just a defensive charm that was becoming easier to pinpoint and push away from her.  True curiosity met with half answers and nonchalance.

 

Pediatric surgeon.  

 

He didnt save her.

 

He was now distant, and she... 

 

...frown wrinkled her forehead, slide of eyes through the curtain of curls almost stopping her breath.  That.. weird...  the...

 

Damn... she knew why the nurse posse always tried to peek into the shower.

 

Blink was profound at his Gertrude comment, she'd been watching him nearly the entire time.  Watching him get dressed.  Jesus.

 

Shit.

 

She turned her back to him again with a snap and sat back quickly...  settling her crossed legs under her and beginning to furiously scribble on her sketchpad.  Shit... shit.. SHIT

 

"Sorry.."

 

It came out as a quiet squeak, the flutter was her.  The flutter was her... and him.. and her..  mouth opened and closed a few times before gnawing on her lip.  What the fuck was going on here.  Pencil was stuck between her teeth as she braided and unbraided her hair several times.  She played with things when she was nervous... normally a walk or something, a sequester in her studio... but there was only here, or the boat.  He was taking the boat, and she couldn't force him out of here.  Frustrated fingers gave up halfway through the plait and just left it. .. staring at her sketch pad.

 

This whole thing was such a bad idea.  Before, a vacation... now, a dance with someone that she was going to need to avoid because SHE had become part of the nurse gang, hadn't she???

 

There were probably going to be some choice words... get lost, fuck off.  Worse, the silent treatment.

 

"Sorry, I wasn't thinking..."  bullshit... 

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"Sorry.."

 

Head lifted quizzically, unsure what she was apologizing for as she sketched in her pad. That’s right, she was an artist. He remembered that from when he went to her place to check on her wounds. Silver watched her hands move instead to work on her damp hair, the plait growing and shrinking as it was done and undone several times before being abandoned.

 

"Sorry, I wasn't thinking..."  

 

A light shrug came as he stared at the small stove that gave off tremendous heat, hands still in his pockets.

 

Nothing to be sorry about….I haven't really talked about her since….well….. since I lost her.

 

Crouching he opened the small door to push another couple pieces of split wood inside, a third piece used to push the burning chars around in the black belly. The quiet words drifting as if she were not even there.

 

Asher isn't even my last name……

 

Crackle burst as a log in the back broke in half with his prodding, silver eyes lost on the lick of flames inside.

 

Its my middle.

 

No one knew that. He had no idea why he was telling her. Elbow rested on his crouched knee as the little stove became the most interesting thing in the world.

 

We worked in the same hospital. When people put Doctor in front of my last name excited, I was guaranteed to turn around and see her standing there.

 

Small door was pushed shut, handle locked before his hand  slid slowly over wet curls.

 

I couldn’t stand the thought to hear it, turn around…… and her not be there.

 

Hands pushed on his knees to stand again, he suddenly felt old.

 

After a while…. I just got used to not having a last name.

 

He watched the water bead off the half plate and bleed into her threadbare sweater. She would catch her death, even with the heater going.  Standing near the wall of the loft he could feel winter's bite latching onto the outside of the building. The temperature was dropping.  Bare feet padded back into the small bathroom to open the cabinet and pull out a dry towel.

Coming back he unconsciously took her plait in hand, wrapping it into the dry towel, powerful fingers squeezing the towel around her hair without pulling or twisting. Clearly it was not the first time surgeons hands handled long hair.

 

Going to be real cold tonight. If there is too much ice in the channel we might not be able to sail out tomorrow.

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Sigh was thin, he hadn't caught her.  That would have been, uncomfortable.  Not as uncomfortable as he was at "his transgression" probably, but she'd been forgiving.  He just hadn't seen her wandering eyes... dismissal of her apology leading to more than she anticipated.

 

 

Fingers continued their sketches, almost afraid if they stopped moving he'd ponder why, she didn't want to interrupt him.  She had that effect on people, she listened.... they talked.  Hearing him speak more than one or two short phrases was odd, she was riveted, hands moving across the paper in scribbling motions to create shadows and light.

 

 

They finally stopped, watching him tend the stove.  She could help... she could, but she let him keep busy.  She couldn't say she understood, but she could feel it, thick in her throat; enough to swallow the thick lump.  Tight.

 

 

"Maree is my pseudonym," she smiled briefly as her pencil stopped a moment.  "Most people can't pronounce Maree'Anca so I just let them.. reminds me of someone I lost too."

 

 

Her daredevil days were for another time.  Probably would have married the guy if he had come back from his excursion to the Alps.

 

 

It was nowhere near his reasoning, but something to relate and keep the conversation from becoming dark.  He seemed to be comfortable with the short amount of sharing, she didn't want to push it.

 

"Memories are yours to keep, they're something nobody can take from you.  You like Asher, then it's Asher.  No need to rationalize... it's what you want it to be."

 

Voice was quiet, breath had stopped, the feel of a towel squeezing out her curls bringing goosebumps across her shoulders.  Few things more pleasurable than having hair played with... and with curly hair it was even more sensitive.

 

 

Stay?  Because of ice?

 

 

"I can.. I can probably fix that."

 

 

She swallowed slightly, she wasn't really sure how far her abilities could go, but it seemed like she had to say something.

 

 

"...never done anything like that before, but... I probably could if you don't want to be stuck here."

 

 

She had stopped breathing, letting out a long sigh, eyes fluttered, fingers stopped on the sketchpad.  Water, the view from her perch on the boat, the half finished sketch still able to tell the story of the road so far.

 

 

His fingers were caught gently.

 

 

"I'm my own heater," she said quietly.  "You don't have to do that, unless you want to."

 

 

Smile was slight, over the shoulder, then attention back to her sketch.  The same tight lump in her throat, guilty, fingers on the pencil but unmoving.  Just... afraid to say.. do the wrong thing, Gertrude creeping into her thoughts.  The woman was going to kill her.

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It was strange. He never talked this much outside of work, and there he only spoke of sutures and microsurgical procedures. He had done the same thing when he had visited her to check on her wounds.

 

"Maree is my pseudonym, most people can't pronounce Maree'Anca so I just let them.. reminds me of someone I lost too."

 

He blinked and glanced at her, almost as though he missed that he had been talking to a live person who was actually listening to what he said.

 

Maree'Anca…

 

It was said softly, testing it on his tongue, his transformation had altered vocal chords ever so slightly which would allow him to speak the musical language of the elves if he knew it. It mixed with his newfound uncanny ability to pick up languages but it was wasted on most of them except perhaps Gaelic. It also gave him an unnatural ability for mimicry of sound so her name tripped off the tongue with an almost perfect cadence.

 

"Memories are yours to keep, they're something nobody can take from you.  You like Asher, then it's Asher.  No need to rationalize... it's what you want it to be."

 

There was a soft chuckle that barely resonated in his chest as he shook his head gently.

 

Or….. just hiding…..

 

Words came as he scrunched her wet hair and then pondered at the possibility of being stuck in the morning due to ice.

 

"I can.. I can probably fix that....never done anything like that before, but... I probably could if you don't want to be stuck here."

 

Head shook as a knee rested on the couch behind her to work the other side of the plait.

 

You unnaturally warm water and you harm the fish….. they can't handle rapid temperature changes…. hate to have our friend follow us this far only to kill him.

 

Smile was a bit lopsided as he rubbed his finger into the towel at the base of her skull to pick up the moisture dripping from the back of her hairline and down her neck, oblivious of his own actions until she caught his hands, causing an instant freeze.

 

"I'm my own heater. You don't have to do that, unless you want to."

 

He forgot to breathe as he blinked at her hands wrapped over his fingers, only now really aware of what he had been doing. Throat cleared softly…

 

Sorry…..

 

Quiet apology came as he gingerly pulled his fingers and the towel away and out from under her fingers. Throat cleared again as he realized just how "comfortable" he had become. It was something he had not felt in a while and an edge of guilt crept around the corners of his embarrassment. He stood fluidly from the couch, walking to the bathroom to lay the towel over the sink to dry. Hands wiped on his hips as though using his jeans as a towel as bare feet padded past her, words soft…

 

Need to get the heater running downstairs…..don't want water in the garage to freeze, it will crack the hull…. gotta get the air to stay above freezing…

 

With that he slipped out and down the stairs, shuddering violently as he realized the large open space of the garage was significantly colder than the room upstairs. The bare feet didn’t help. He had installed three small black wood stoves around the expanse of the garage about four years ago when a thin layer of ice formed overnight around Sam and scared the dickens out of him. The stoves didn’t warm up the space like it did in the small room above, it just helped keep the air over 30 degrees, usually right around 40 when it got this cold. It was enough to stave off the ice.

 

Crouching at the first one with a shiver running over his shoulders he began to work on getting the flames going, trying to ignore what had just happened… trying to ignore how natural it felt.

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No... no no no.  The pause was distant, the distance created physical space, and then he was gone into the cold.

 

Damn.

 

HE was going to catch a death.  Hands both plopped onto the sketchpad with a sigh and whiff of air that blew a frizzy curl from in front of her eyes.  Well, she could help with that at least.  Paper and pencil set aside she followed him out the door and paused while he lit the first stove.  Hands disappeared beneath her cuffs as her arms cross, tapping into something she rarely called on out of purpose.  First it was the air around her, billowing downward to take the chill off.  Quiet footsteps moved down the stairs and followed him on his trek.

 

"Nothing to be sorry for."

 

Hand tentatively rested on his shoulder while he worked.  Did she trust herself to do this?  Yes.  Yes, Ardal had helped her control it.  She could control it.

 

"Didn't say I didn't like it, can always use some help taming the curly mop."

 

The heat was gentle, enough to take the shiver off his shoulders as she warmed the room to give the stoves a head start.

 

Fingers lifted from his shoulder and curled into their overly long cuffs.

 

"I'm going to fix something to eat,"  bare toes wiggled slightly in the now tolerable  -albeit still chilly-  temperature.  "Come up when you're done."

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Cold cold cold cold…….. COLD!

 

Bare feet bobbed up and down as he worked to light the first stove. Brain was still trying to figure out what had just happened. It wasn’t the first time he had parked out here in the cold… he just normally was alone and ensured he showered and got dressed with shoes included before he came back down. The fire had just barely lit when a warmth tickled at his ankles causing the spine to straighten a bit, head cocking oddly at the stove. That was quick…..

 

"Nothing to be sorry for."

 

The voice and hand caused him to stand abruptly,  nearly knocking her chin with the top of his head, pivoting to find himself mere inches in front of her, hand now on his arm. Blink was a bit boyish as silver grew and shrunk with the flex of his pupils to focus on her features.

 

"Didn't say I didn't like it, can always use some help taming the curly mop."

 

I um……..

 

The blink came again. What was he supposed to say here? Shoulders stopped shivering as warmth billowed against his clothes and crept over his skin. Blink was slower as her proximity was suddenly…. close. There was a tip back of the ears without the telltale crimson blush, silver focusing again.

 

So close……

 

"I'm going to fix something to eat. Come up when you're done."

 

Throat cleared as he leaned a bit back, her words waking him from the vacuum of space that seemed to be disappearing from between them just a moment before.

 

Ya……

 

Throat cleared again as he took an actual step back this time with a nod.

 

Sure… I will be up in a minute.

 

Soft words had a husk that another clear of his throat chased away as he turned to remember where the other stove was. He took a little time as she disappeared, needing a moment to recover from….whatever the hell…. had just happened.

 

By the time the third stove was going his feet were back to half frozen. The warmth she had billowed around him having lost its effect.  A foot on the bottom step he stayed staring up to the open door to the loft.  He had two options. Go to the boat, start the small furnace in there and settle in for the night with complete disregard for the fact he had told her he would be up…… or…… go up.

 

Problem with up…. whatever had happened, had still happened…..  if he chose the boat…. perhaps it had never happened.

 

He lingered a moment longer before left foot slipped from the ground and took the next step.

 

Up it was.

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Her hand was snatched back within her proximity as he stood, worried she had done something wrong, or been trying to help too much, or read the cues wrong and he wanted to be alone and save face after his slip up... or because she shrugged off his help... which she really didn't, it was just...

 

Sigh soft 

 

She didn't know.

 

Lips pursed slightly at the odd reaction, then the step back, almost folding her hands behind her to make him more at ease.  First he was shy and apologetic, then no problem drying her hair, now weirdly stand-off ish when she took a step forward.

 

He was like a puppy.  A cute, sly, goofy, feral little puppy that licked your hand but fled when you paid attention.  This was not the Doc she knew.  Hand found his for a second and squeezed.

 

"You're an odd duck Asher," fell from her lips as the quirked expression turned carefree and she hopped up the steps two at a time.  She wanted to help in a way she knew how, he got all weird.

 

It was probably still the boob thing.  Americans and a woman's chest.... she would never get it.

 

Opening cabinets she found enough to get started on something edible in the skeleton kitchen and...

 

Ooo

 

The bottle was snatched and sniffed before she had a chance to second guess, a small glance cast over her shoulder to make sure nobody was peeking this time before taking a swig and putting it back into the cabinet.

 

Sweet jesus.

 

Cough was light... unlike her lightweight brother, she could drink like a fish.  But... it wasn't hers to drink, humming softly to herself as she sucked the lingering taste from her lower lip and started to fill the small loft with the scent of food, bare toes wiggling as she moved through the motions like a pro...

 

Food, light conversation, then sleep.  Maybe a better handle on her odd duck.

 
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Grab of his hand drew a tightening in his gut, the blink again wide and boyish as a husk lingered in his throat causing him to hold his tongue or else betray it.

 

"You're an odd duck Asher."

 

Lips parted then closed again before a faint lopsided grin crossed his expression.

 

Well….. I have been called worse.

 

The soft words betrayed it, a sensual husk murmuring at the base of his throat, rumbling deep in his chest. Throat cleared as she smiled in return and trotted up the steps two at a time.  Thumb unconsciously hitched into the pocket of his jeans, tugging them a bit to the right before lighting the last stove mumbling softly under his breath about what the hell was really going on here. He had been a recluse and an outcast so long he had forgotten he had once been a carefree spirit, a charming quick-witted socialite, a Casanova that swept women off their feet until one returned the favor.

 

The room was cold once more but something itched warm at him.

 

Breath huffed violently from his lips as he tried to shake the husk and warm tingle in his chest, finishing up and lightly taking the stairs. Her cough drew a stifled laugh. That nasty rum he cooked with. She must have swigged it. Stuff was only really good to cook with.

 

Nostrils flared at the scents billowing out the door. Damn…he only stored here things that could keep for months at a time. He never managed to make rice, powdered milk, bouillon cubes, beans, jerky and canned corn smell that good. He had a few spices in the kitchen but he never did much with them when he did the speedy edible meal when he was out here.

 

Head peeked into the room.

 

Smells good…..

 

Shit… he hadn't realized how cold he was until he walked into the room that was now toasty warm from the stove. Smile was a bit shy before his hip rested on the footboard of the bed and pushed to the side, the entire thing sliding to the right to expose a trap door in the floor.

 

I store the good liquor down here…

 

Pulling the ring the wood door opened to reveal almost a dozen bottles in various states of being drunk. Hand slid over them before plucking a Hennessey Cognac out of the trap and closing the door, the bed pushed back into place.

 

Probably a bit better than that cooking slop you swigged.

 

Grin came with a wink.

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There wasn't much... but she was used to working with less.  Rations, cans, even things that were gathered locally with the help of people that didn't even speak a language she knew.  She'd learned to cook by smell, taste and even in rare cases the consistency of things when they heated up.

 

She blinked up at his comment.  So he was going to be social.

 

"Spent a lot of time with Bo in places that didn't have take-out.  Or proper nutrition, or clean water."

 

She stirred for a moment.

 

"Can make anything out of anything."

 

Pale greens watched the unearthing of better booze.... scooping something into a small bowl for a taste after sticking a fork in it, holding it out to him.  She licked her other thumb, offering the bowl with insistence.

 

"If you don't like it the rum is what I get, if you do.. I get a tumbler of that.."

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"Spent a lot of time with Bo in places that didn't have take-out.  Or proper nutrition, or clean water."

 

Nod came with a distant smile, the gaze vaguely focused somewhere in the past.

 

Been there myself.

 

Doctors without borders had led him and Sam to some of the most remote locations where they waited for supplies that never came forcing them to subsist on practically thin air. It was horrid, usually hot, and death surrounded them, yet he remembered it fondly.

 

He blinked at the bowl thrust at him, glancing to the bottle of Hennessey in his other hand. Drinking he was good at….. eating…. not so much. He was always starving for an appetite. The cut of muscles was pronounced from sailing and rock climbing but also because there was little else of meat on the bone. It hadn't always been like that, he ate well with Sam, usually out at a diner or pizza hovel after she had burned a meal. Sam couldn’t cook water in a microwave.

 

It did smell good.

 

"If you don't like it the rum is what I get, if you do.. I get a tumbler of that.."

 

Chuckle was soft in his chest.

 

That’s quite the risk, that cooking slop could rot your gut.

 

Taking the bowl he leaned a shoulder against the wall near the small row of cabinets that passed for a studio kitchen.  Hennessey was set gingerly on the counter as the fork pushed around in the goulash. He doubted he could eat it all but not eating any would be an insult. Fork pushed up through the depths of the steaming bowl, lips pursing to blow over the bite before finally slipping the fork over his tongue.  Expression remained impassive as he chewed, like a pompous French food critic, the brows quirked and fell as if pondering the flavors. Finally the nod came with a tilt of his head and shrug.

 

Eh…. not bad…..

 

Lit eyes and grin betraying he was teasing her as he couldn’t hold the straight face.

 

Not bad at all…. a cup of the good stuff it is then….

 

The fork was slid back into the bowl so he could reach up and pull open the cabinet that held the mugs. Not exactly as classy as a lowball glass but it was all he had here. A white mug with a the faded words "Evil Genius At Work" on it was set on the counter before he reached in and pulled a dull yellow one that held an iconic smiley face grin on it.

 

Honestly…. Would feel bad if the other stuff left you sick for days….

 

Smirk was warm.

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The cooking slop could rot her gut.... Lips curled into a lopsided smile as she put on some final touches.  It would go great with French bread or a flatbread of some kind.  It was a little too flavorful for French, reminded her more of the Ethiopian cuisine she loved to cook and sit around a table and eat with good friends.  Their experiences... probably incredibly different.

 

"Most likely not... my studies took me to different places with much different drinking habits.  I was staying with a Russian art restoration project once, the vodka alone was blitzing... someone had gotten ahold of some Appalachian moonshine."

 

She coughed slightly and made two bowls.  His teasing was noted.  Odd duck.  It had to be the hospital that made him so uptight.  Then why be there?  Sense of duty to the world?  Hm.

 

"I remember very little, but I do remember... my friends didn't."

 

Smile was surly as she handed him his food and flopped in the corner of the couch.  Legs folded under her.

 

"Of course it's good," she pointed at the evil genius mug before taking a bite.  "I was the cook in the family.  Bo can make peanut butter on a spoon and that's about it.  Parents were always away.  Business I guess."

 

Lips quirked as she chewed.  She loved her parents dearly, but it was what it was.  The twins were sort of perfect little accessories.

 

"So what else do you do besides sail ships and save lives?  I tell you something, you tell me something.  You know I'm an artist, and professional world traveller.  I know Aikido and was lost in the Paris catacombs for a day."

 

Drinking, good food, and hopefully good conversation... it was definitely shaping up on her end.  She was going to coax a laugh out of the good doc.  Yes she was.

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"Most likely not... my studies took me to different places with much different drinking habits.  I was staying with a Russian art restoration project once, the vodka alone was blitzing... someone had gotten ahold of some Appalachian moonshine."

 

Chuckle was soft.

 

Like Akpeteshie…. local brew in Ghana.

 

He had definitely had his share of….unusual…. liquors.

 

"I remember very little, but I do remember... my friends didn't."

 

Smirk was a bit lopsided….soft "been there"… escaping his lips. Fork pushed the goulash in his bowl as he watched her plop into the small couch in front of the bed. Smile lingered as she agreed that it had to be good, no arrogance at all there. He listened quietly as he bit the screw top and unwound the cap while still holding his bowl in the other, the metal spat into the tiny sink, even if she didn’t drink much, he doubted he would be leaving any liquid in the bottle before the night was out. Both mugs were filled more than three quarters full, bit much but they weren't going anywhere tonight and likely they would be sleeping in until well into the day waiting for the sun to heat up the straight before setting out.

 

Bo sounded like his Sam. She burnt toast even when the toaster was on the right setting. He never managed to figure out how the hell she did that. Walking over he set the "Evil Genius" mug on the arm of the couch, knowing the liquor would go down dangerously smooth. He tended to only keep good strong stuff in stock at the loft.

 

I was the cook as well….

 

Quiet confession didn’t seem to really be to her.

 

"So what else do you do besides sail ships and save lives?  I tell you something, you tell me something.  You know I'm an artist, and professional world traveler.  I know Aikido and was lost in the Paris catacombs for a day."

 

Lips parted only to clamp shut again as he blinked at her. He didn’t share… at least…. he hadn't shared in a very long time. He had managed to be a gruff enough ass to keep people from bothering to try and delve into any personal factoids about his life. Confronted with the question he felt himself completely uncertain how to respond.

 

Throat cleared as he moved to lean against the wall across from her rather than the kitchen counter off to her side.  The bowl in one hand and the drink in the other he sought sustenance from the mug since he didn’t have a free hand to use the fork…. that was the perception anyway as he imbibed his preference trying to gather his thoughts. Tongue licked over his lips before quiet words finally left them.

 

Every time I get off for a week or more… I sail down to the island….. if I only have a few days… I head to the mountains to rock climb….. just like to get…away….

 

Mug was swirled before being brought to his lips again, it was missing half of what he had slid into it already.


…..and fix old motorcycles when I only have a day off……

Faint smile was quirked as he half shrugged at the confession.

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