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  1. #51
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    There wasn't a werewolf in the world who was happier than the one that was plastered against the back wall of the recording studio at that very moment. His favourite band...made a song just for his Maria! It was a dream come true! Even better, though, the song might lead to his greatest dream coming true. That Maria would get the message, find him, and the three of them could be together again. It was a long shot, but Riff had been so long without any tangible hope of reunion so long that he was willing to let hope bloom around the idea.

    "You mean it? I can come...on tour with you?" Riff had a moment where he totally forgot what the whole thing was about. But only a moment. "I mean, right. Of course, I would love to tag along in case Maria responds to the song. If she does come out of hiding, she could be in danger and I need to be there for her." He blushed, then continued. "And if she somehow magically hears the song and makes it to Switzerland, I don't want to leave her wondering if the message was from me. I want to be there to meet her and Sofie. Thanks so much, Declan. You have no idea."

    Riff spent many of the hours on the way to Switzerland trying to figure out what he was going to say to Maria when he saw her again. Sure, he'd dreamed about it, but now that there was more of chance of meeting, the need to find the right thing to say was much more urgent. Another thought prodded at his optimism - what if she did hear the song, and showed up, only to tell him that she'd moved on? That she was in a stable situation. That she loved someone else. That Sofie already had a dad and didn't need him around. What if he found her and she didn't want him? Riff firmly pushed the thoughts aside. He knew how he felt about Maria and that was really the only thing about the situation that he could control. However she responded - however she felt - was up to her and he would just have to be happy with whatever the consequences.
    Last edited by Quaxo9; 03-29-2019 at 07:15 PM. Reason: spelling error!
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

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  2. #52
    Declan McDermott



    "Of course you can come," Declan said. "You're right, if Maria shows up and you aren't there, it would all be for nothing. She probably wouldn't feel safe enough to talk to anyone else. But also... you're our friend, Riff. You helped us a lot. We're not just going to ditch you. You're welcome to stick around as long as you want."

    The trip to Switzerland was uneventful, to Declan's relief. He had been a little concerned that the Cold Iron Brotherhood would mount another attack while they were in transit, but it seemed like for better or for worse, they were focusing their attention on Swiss matters. It was nice to just stare out the bus window, chatting with the others and holding Clare's hand. Declan had expected everything to be different now, but he found that it really wasn't. Yes, there was a Before and After, knowing about immortals and becoming part of their world. It was strange to him how much hadn't changed, though. Clare was still Clare, and Declan felt just as comfortable and at ease with her as he always had. As soon as he found the right moment, he was all set to propose. Now that he'd had time to sleep on the discovery of his own heritage and Clare's acceptance of it, he was once again pretty confident she would say yes.

    As the bus arrived in Bern, Declan kept his eye out for women who might be Maria. Not that he would know her even if he was staring right at her, but he was curious about what Riff's lady was like. He kept watching as they checking into the hotel, as the crew set up at the concert venue, as the band did sound checks, from the wings as the crowd started pouring through the gates...

    Declan wouldn't know her if he saw her, no. But Riff would. And Declan sincerely hoped that sometime soon - tonight, or another like it - Riff would not be disappointed.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 03-03-2019 at 05:01 PM.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #53
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Riff found himself unable to sleep, unable to eat, unable to think - at least unable to think about anything other than seeing Maria again. He had to keep reminding himself what a long shot this whole thing was. IF she heard the song. IF she knew the message was from him. IF she cared. Really, the idea that Maria would be there at the next show was the biggest stretch. They had just released the song yesterday. Even if Maria heard it and somehow knew to come meet him on this tour, what were the chances that she'd be anywhere near to any of the stops on the tour? There were just so many "maybes" - and yet, he was willing to hope. He could chance his heart on this.

    Being a musician and having been around a lot of shows, Riff ended up helping with unloading and setting up equipment. Not that he minded - he was ridiculously excited to be with the band - and he felt like he needed to earn his keep somehow. Pepper was the real star, though. No one could be grumpy with that dog's happy face and wagging tail. She knew enough to keep out of the way, and also could tell where she was needed most. The stage manager even softened up after awhile.

    Riff had held himself back from standing around the outside of the building watching all the people in the line - he didn't want to seem suspicious to anyone that wasn't Maria. Instead, he made himself useful yet again - as the coat check guy. This way, he got to smell everyone's coats, well, all the coats that came in anyway. He could keep a nose out for Maria and also the Cold Iron Brotherhood. It wouldn't be long before the next cell figured out why they were a few members short and he didn't want to get caught with his pants down, so to speak.

  4. #54
    Maria



    Bern, Switzerland

    Maria let the crowd carry her along. She felt dazed and dreamlike; it had been a long time since she was around this many people. Life at Swithin School had made her accustomed to the quiet, and the press of bodies and hubbub of voices was at once exciting and unsettling. She held tight to Sofie's hand, being careful not to lose her little girl in the crowd. Not that there was any worry of that - Sofie was clinging tightly too as she stared around with wide eyes. Sofie didn't seem afraid, though, just curious, as if she was trying to absorb as much information simultaneously as she possibly could.

    They were approaching the coat check, but Maria didn't intend to give hers up. Her bulky coat was designed for someone larger, so it hit her mid-calf in length, and it was neither shapely nor flattering. It made good camouflage, though. Most people didn't give a second glance to her when they couldn't see her shape or her hair, so between the coat and her scarf she might as well have been invisible. Maria liked it that way.

    She kept her head down, eyes focused on the ground just ahead of her so she didn't have to make eye contact with anyone as the crowd streamed through.

    Once again she asked herself why she was doing this. Why had she followed this crazy long shot? Nothing would come of it, and she would have to grieve all over again. Maybe for just one evening, though, she could lose herself in the music and the crowd, and imagine her life was still how it used to be.

  5. #55
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    There was a small pile of jackets at the lycan's feet as he stood immobile in the tiny coat check. Riff's work partner gave him an odd look and nudged him, bringing him back to his senses.

    "I gotta go."

    He was out into the crowd a half second later, his eyes wide as saucers. It couldn't be - yet he knew he had caught Maria and Sofie's scent. THEY CAME. He pushed through the crowd as politely as he could being in the hurry he was and stopped himself just short of a woman in a trenchcoat holding a little girl's hand. His breath caught in his throat, so when he said her name, it was barely above a whisper.

    "Maria?" Riff waited for her to turn as though seeing her with his eyes would make her more real than his nose led him to believe. His heart was thrumming with excitement and nervousness and his face belied both of those emotions and everything in between. It was all he could do not to just gather her up in his arms and kiss her right there in the aisle. The only things holding him back were the memory of instructions to remain in hiding and the depressing thought that she might have just shown up to tell him it was over and stop risking all their lives.

  6. #56
    Maria

    She hadn't really expected him to be there.

    Maria had dreamed it, fantasized it, wished for it... but she hadn't actually thought it would happen. Now that it had, everything flew out of her mind. Everything she had wanted to say for years. Everything you shouldn't say to your love who had moved on. None of it was coming to her lips.

    All she could do was stare at him, her whole body trembling, electric with tension. Suddenly she was crying, with huge but silent tears rolling down her cheeks.

    "Mama, what's wrong?" Sofie asked. "Who is that man?"

    "That... that's Riff," Maria answered in a quavering voice.

    This name was clearly very familiar, and Sofie beamed. "Hi, Riff!" she said, as if greeting a long-lost friend. Then she ran to him and threw her arms around him.

  7. #57
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Riff

    She knew him. Sofie knew his name. As hard as it was to tear his eyes off of Maria, it was only too easy to turn his attention to the enthusiastic Sofie now clinging to his knees. He bent down closer to the girl, his own eyes tearing up, breaking her hold on his knees only to have his chest instead. Wrapping his arms around her he smiled. She knew his name.

    "Hi Sofie - it's been a really long time. Look how big you've grown! You're amazing!"

    Looking up and seeing Maria in some sort of distress, Riff realized he should have been concerned, but he was just far too happy to take heed. He stood and took Sofie's hand in his and closed the distance between the girl and her mama. "You told her about me." He practically sang the words, more than a little wonderment settling on his face. "Oh Maria, I can't believe I found you...or that you found me? We found each other? Yeah, we found each other, that's more like it. I...did you really come to meet me?"

    Riff remembered somewhat belatedly that his girlfriend of four years ago may have moved on and he should be sensitive to that, though he couldn't bring himself to prepare for a 'no'.

  8. #58
    Maria

    Sofie grinned at the compliment. "I used to be really little when you saw me last!" she told him. "But now I can read and help make cookies!"

    Maria swiped her coat sleeve across her eyes, trying to clear some of the tears away. A few passersby were giving them curious looks, but no one was willing to lose their place in line to gawk, so they had relative privacy. While Riff hugged Sofie, Maria took a few seconds to try to collect herself. But where did you even begin?

    "Yes, I - we - came to find you," she admitted. "To meet you. But not... with any expectation. I know it's been a long time. I'm sure you've moved on with your life. I'm not trying to guilt you or make you feel bad for us. I just... I needed to see that you were okay. I wanted to see you happy. I promise I won't interfere or try to make you relive the past. I just wondered if maybe... there could still be a place for us in your life?"

    Realizing that sounded like she was asking a lot, Maria added, "It would be great if we could still be friends."

    She complimented herself on how mature she sounded. How she was playing it cool. The idea of just being friends after what they'd had was so painful, though, that it brought on a fresh round of tears.

    "I'm sorry," she said, wiping them away. "I can't. I don't know how to do this. I understand if you just... need to be done."

    Maria reassuringly squeezed Sofie's hand, feeling guilty for how she was falling apart. She was supposed to be strong for her child, not crying over her lost boyfriend. She forced a shaky smile and looked down at the ground.

  9. #59
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Riff was stunned. He didn't understand...that was why they wrote the song...to find her so she and he and Sofie could be together. But of course, Maria couldn't have known that - not for sure. She wasn't there in the hotel when the words were spoken and the promise made. She wasn't there on all his sleepless nights where he lay awake just thinking about her. She wasn't there when he saw hints of her in the faces of the people he met. She didn't know how he'd always looked for her.

    "Oh Maria." How good it felt to breathe her name with her right there in front of him. He knew - after all this time - he knew that she was alive and that she still loved him. Now she needed to know that he felt the same way.

    "I love you too."

    He drew her up into his arms and kissed her tenderly.

  10. #60
    Maria

    For the first time in years, Maria allowed herself to feel fully. Nothing held back, nothing repressed and tucked away so she could be strong for her daughter.

    All this time, she had worked so hard to deny herself. To stop believing in miracles. To stop hoping. And gradually, it had worked. Even a song with her name in it, even Riff at the concert - it couldn't be what she truly wanted. It had to be a coincidence, or a goodbye, because hope was so frightening. Hope could endanger the fragile shell she had built around herself and Sofie to protect them from the danger that seemed to be everywhere.

    But it was real. Riff was saying it was real. He hadn't moved on. He had waited. He still wanted them. And somehow, he had understood that her awkward fumbling meant an 'I love you.'

    There were things that would need to be said. There were practicalities. But for now she just clung to him.

    "You're really here..." she finally whispered.

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