Declan McDermott and Clare Murphy

The instruments were tuned. The sound had been checked and rechecked. Out where Declan couldn't see, out beyond the curtains, the audience was filing in. Now it was just a matter of waiting till it was time to go on stage. Declan could only hope that wherever Riff was in the crowd, he'd found the person he was looking for.

Something was bothering Declan, and the waiting was making him antsy, so he figured he might as well ask. "Clare, what are you doing here with me?" he asked honestly.

Clare looked up from her book. "You're my boyfriend and I love you," she said, with an implied 'duh.'

Declan cracked a crooked smile. "Well yeah, I get that part but... why did you even talk to me in the first place? You remembered that I looked like that guy, right...?"

Clare instantly understood, and became more sympathetic. Declan was still processing her old memory - and wondering why she was now sharing her bed with someone who looked like the ringleader of her attackers all those years ago.

"I was startled when I first saw you," she told him bluntly.

Declan nodded. Of course she had been, though she hadn't shown it. They'd met at a house party, bumping into each other at the appetizer table, and Declan had been intrigued by her, the curls and gorgeous eyes. He'd wanted to know more. But why had she?

"I was going to brush you off," Clare admitted. "No offense - you're attractive, but you did look like him. But then you started talking. You were just... yourself. I could see that right away. You were so warm, so kind and good. Once I realized that, you didn't look much like him anymore."

"Thanks," Declan said. "It means a lot to hear."

It was still a lot to come to terms with. Declan had a lot of questions. But at least knowing Clare wasn't seeing a monster every time she looked across the dinner table - well, that was reassuring.