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  1. #41
    Declan McDermott and Clare Murphy



    That was the one glimmer of hope in this sorry mess, Declan realized - all of this was in the past. They couldn't change things because the outcome was already decided. Fortunately in that outcome, Clare was alive. Not just still breathing, but living a full life on her own terms. Riff was right; Clare had survived. Clare was okay. Declan's breathing slowed slightly. He understood now why they were here, what Iphigenia wanted him to see. And it had changed everything he thought he knew about himself. To think, he'd been foolish enough to imagine Clare would want his engagement ring on her finger. He was lucky she tolerated him at all.

    Declan nodded to Riff, closed his eyes, and waited for the horrible memory to be over. "Thank you," he said softly. "I'm glad you're here."


    ***


    "That's enough!" Clare said sharply.

    "Far from it," Iphigenia said dismissively. "They haven't seen--"

    "Enough!" Clare's tone was so harsh that her mother stopped short and stared at her. "This isn't your memory. This isn't what happened to you. I'm sorry you had to see it with your clairvoyance, but that doesn't mean you have to inflict it on anybody else. Least of all my boyfriend! You've already given me more than enough to apologize for!"

    "Apologize for? But what happened back in the Drowned City wasn't your fault..."

    "No, mother. It wasn't. But now you're using what I went through - using me as a weapon to bludgeon innocent people with. I won't stand for that. Declan and Riff had nothing to do with this. Those humans caused me pain in the past, yes... but the only one causing me pain right now is you."


    ***


    The memory ended abruptly. It was not clear to Declan - since he hadn't heard Clare's last statement to her mother - why Iphigenia chose that particular moment to release them, but the scene blurred again and suddenly their consciousness was back in the hotel, back to their bodies that had never left.

    That didn't mean everything was back to normal, though. Declan's whole world had turned inside out, and he crouched on his hands and knees on the plush hotel carpet, fighting the urge to pass out or throw up, or maybe just scream.

    Clare, clearly worried, dropped to her knees beside him and wrapped her arm around him. "It's alright, love," she said soothingly. "It's over. It's alright. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry... to both of you."

    She closed her eyes and kissed Declan's forehead, fighting to contain her own shame and guilt about the vicarious trauma that had just been inflicted on two good men.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-29-2018 at 06:31 PM.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  2. #42
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Riff was relieved to find himself back in the hotel room, back in his normal clothes, back in a time where everyone he loved wasn't getting torn away from him. The blackness falling from his eyes, he kneeled down and took a hold of Pepper. The dog had been pawing at his leg while he'd been in his trance-like state, working herself into a frantic state when Riff hadn't responded. Now that they were safely out of the nightmare, the tears began to flow. He tried not to be dramatic about it. Still, though that scene from this particular Fae family's past had been awful in its own right, Riff couldn't help how it brought him back to his personal nightmare from not so very long ago.

    It reminded him that he was lonely.

    He allowed himself several minutes on that floor with his dog (currently on loan) before he took a deep breath, kissed Pepper's head and shakily stood to his feet. Pepper leaned into his leg as though Riff were about to disappear into thin air and she was the only one who could stop it. Her protectiveness brought a chuckle from the Lycan, who made a concession and sat on the couch instead. The dog was instantly on his lap and he was very glad for her closeness.

    At least Declan and Clare had each other. Though, as he looked at the scene before him he thought to himself that sometimes physical closeness and personal closeness were two very different things indeed. His heart clenched in his chest. Above many things, Riff believed in love. It pained him to see something he believed in challenged so mercilessly.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

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  3. #43
    Declan McDermott and Clare Murphy



    For several long minutes, Declan just felt paralyzed. It was all he could do to keep breathing in and out, let alone move or speak. He was still too shocked - both by the horrific suffering he had witnessed, and by the awful revelations about himself - to know how to react, what to do or say. He didn't want to let go of Clare, though, didn't want to move away from the embrace that was the only thing keeping him at all grounded when his whole world had been upended.

    "Declan?" Clare finally said hesitantly. "Can you talk to me?"

    Declan nodded, took another moment to collect himself, then met Clare's eyes. "They hurt you..." he said.

    "They did," Clare agreed. "What happened was awful. But it was a long time ago. Life went on. I'm sorry you had to see it."

    Declan hadn't wanted to, of course - but he wasn't the one who'd had to live through it. If she could survive the actual experience, surely he could survive the mere memory... though he knew it would haunt him. That he would see those scenes in his mind and his nightmares for the rest of his life. It had changed him in some as yet imperceptible way, and there was no going back.

    "They were monsters," Declan said. "And I... I'm a monster too, I saw it..."

    "No," Clare said firmly. "No, you are not. What they did was not your fault. It was out of your control. You are nothing like them. You were willing to die for me. You just found out about the Fae thing today, but even so you've taken every opportunity to try to protect and comfort us. I've never seen you intentionally hurt anybody, and I know I never will. You're nothing like them - and you know that in your heart. You must know. You would never do those things. Would you?"

    Declan shook his head. She was right. In his heart, he knew he could never commit such acts of cruelty. Maybe it wasn't necessary to hate himself, despite his bloodline.

    Iphigenia was being uncharacteristically silent; even she finally seemed to realize she had gone too far, that she had done something that couldn't easily be taken back. Alessa and Erin were also quiet, unsure how to interact with anyone who had been involved in the painful little drama.

    Clare continued to hold Declan, continued to keep her arms around him. "It's alright, love," she said. "We'll get through this. We'll be alright."

    It was harder to know what to say to Riff. She had been flat-out worried about Declan, but at least with him she didn't have to worry about her weaknesses being exposed. Riff too had seen her vulnerable now, though, and that embarrassed her. Her cheeks were faintly red as she said, "Hey, Riff, I'm sorry you got dragged into this. Really sorry. Apparently my mother isn't going to apologize to anybody, so I will. I hope you don't think less of me."

    She didn't want him to think she was just some fragile little victim who let herself get pushed around.

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