Thanks For Being You

A/N and Trigger Warning: Some uncomfortable blood, gore, and home-done stitches in this chapter. Also emotional slaying happening too.
I'm a mess.

The merciless shrieking followed Esmerelda close behind as she lunged herself across the bridge’s pavement. She could feel the wind of their failed attempts to grab at her which was far too close for comfort.

She gripped the case of her violin tightly as she ran, her mind wrestling with herself over this decision. This was the violin Casper gave her. This was the one thing besides her shell that she kept…

Yet it wouldn’t matter if she was dead.
The tears burned in her eyes as she skidded to a sudden stop, using the momentum to turn and forcefully throw her violin with all of her strength.

It knocked the closest one back into the other two with a horrifying wail and bought her precious moments to make a greater distance between them.
I’m sorry, papi.

How she had managed to keep her violin this long had probably been a miracle, but she hadn’t expected to lose it like this.
What was the difference here? The fact that she had a shelter right around the corner? Would it even be safe there? Maybe I should keep running, her mind whispered to her, no one had ever truly been able to keep her safe before.

Don’t turn at the intersection. Run forward. Run for the mountains. Run until her lungs burst. Run even more after that. Run until the artifact inside her responds.
Run until I die.
She involuntarily slowed.

Perhaps she could make it to the mountains. Perhaps she could keep running until her artifact boosted her. Living was never a guarantee. Nothing was.
But Quinn was different.
“Nothing can get in or out of my house without my consent.”

She picked up the pace again, her eyes focused on the mountains ahead, yet as she approached the intersection her boots skidded to accompany the harsh turn.

Esmerelda trusted Quinn, and that was terrifying.
Something whizzed past her ear and she recoiled suddenly as pain radiated in her cheek, her hand instinctively covering it.

Tranquilizer darts.
Fuck, not again.
That certainly couldn’t have been the only one they had. Thankfully that one only grazed her, but she might not be so lucky next time.

The house was in view. Sanctuary.
Her legs threatened to give out, burning with every commanded move; her lungs were going to burst; her heart pounded three times faster than the rhythm of her boots hitting the ground below her.




Esmerelda could hear the click as another shot was fired, her head jerked around to look for where the shot might land just as her foot caught the curb.
She cried out as her momentum sent her flying forward and she skidded across the grass, feeling the sticks and rocks hidden in the grass as they scraped at her arms.

Ignoring the pain, she forced herself onto her back to shield her face. They were here. She didn’t make it.
Her rapid gasps halted if only for a moment as the first one lunged…

...and crashed right into an invisible shield.
The breath she had been holding came out immediately in a horrified sob as the Sirens shrieked and pounded against the barrier that protected her.

Quinn had been right.

Quinn had saved her life.


“Uncle Quinn! Duck!”
Quinn hit the ground quickly, a potion being launched where his head was whizzed past with a shattering explosion that made his ears ring.

The smell of the battle was potent: smoke from the fires burning trees and flesh alike filled the air and entered his lungs, threatening to knock him off balance as he got to his feet.
Staying on the ground might’ve been wiser.

He enjoyed forest warfare - well, as much as one can enjoy war at all. It used to be what he would look forward to, these little blips of excitement in an otherwise boring life.
Now he found himself finding that excitement elsewhere.
Maybe excitement is just a state of mind?

Or maybe Esmerelda was just different.
The woods were growing quieter, but he knew there was still more of them hiding in the cover of the greenery. Something dark moved in the brush and he smirked as he yanked them forward with a pull of their magical essence.

They hit the ground yet got back on their feet before Quinn could even blink, the man twirled a blade in his hand and bared his fangs to him.
Quinn’s nose twitched up in slight distaste, Vampiric speed.

The Vampire lunged forward and Quinn narrowly missed the edge of the blade, his hand scrambled into his pocket to grab one of his capsules. He fumbled with two of them, shoveling them into his mouth as he ducked out of the way of yet another inhuman dagger swing. His teeth found the capsules and crunched down on the shell, releasing the liquids contained within.

Quinn always used potions when fighting, however potions were cumbersome to carry so he condensed them into capsule form.
It was slightly weaker, but it would get the job done. He could condense any potion he wanted, health, magic boosters, sense boosters, anything to give him a leg-up in hand-to-hand. The world made strong and weak men, and potions made them equal.
The potions began to kick in and the Vampire’s movements seemed to slow down for him to something more manageable.

That’s more like it. He cracked his neck with a stretch of his shoulders. Let’s dance.
Using his chaos strings was too demanding and required too much precision he could not have when his target moved faster than he could see. He had already been using it fairly liberally and he could feel it taking its toll.

He wasn’t close to the edge of his magic, of course, but he hated going into battles unprepared.
Being prepared meant being ready for the battle to last far longer than you planned it to.
The Vampire was putting up a good fight, but now that Quinn was up to speed…

He crumpled with the force of a blow not from this battlefield, but elsewhere.

His home.
The shields had taken a hit.

He was stunned for only a moment, but it took only a moment for the blade to gash into his upper arm before he got out of dodge.

Master, it’s-!
Bow out, Quinn. We’ve got this. His master’s voice cut through his plea. Call if you need backup.
Another rush and the Vampire who gashed him flew backwards, dangling against a tree as Kefka made eye-contact with Quinn and nodded. Go.

Quinn didn’t waste another second before vanishing from the field.


“Ezzie? Esmerelda!” His gaze tore around and landed on the unwelcome guests.
It only took slamming them into the house shield once with a pull of his hands to watch them fall lifeless to the ground.


“Ezzie? Ezzie!” He desperately pleaded as he nearly kicked his front door down. Essence be damned if they got to her before he-
“Quinn?” Esmerelda’s voice trembled as it echoed from another room.

Her form appeared hesitantly in the living room just as he opened his mouth to call to her again and he ran to her.
“Are you alright?”
She nodded and held her arms clasped around her as she shivered, still dripping from the rain outside. He felt relief rush through him at the sight of her, but it didn’t last long when his eyes caught the cut on her cheek.

He hadn’t even thought about it before he brought his hands up to steady her face so he could examine it closer, ignoring the pain that radiated in his arm when he moved it.
“Y-You’re hurt.” She murmured to him. “Wh-What happened?”
“Just a small shuffle with some old nuisances. Don’t worry about it.” He released one of his hands from her face to dig into his pockets one by one until he came across the capsules he had left. He pulled out three blue ones and a green one.

“Quinn… your arm-”
Of course he used up one of the green ones earlier when he blindly consumed a few, what a waste of a health capsule. Thankfully there was still one left and he chucked the others onto the floor. He crushed the green one in between his fingers - she could take this orally but given how shallow the cut is it would take far too long to reach - and carefully moved his hand back up by her face. “This might sting a little.” He said softly as he brought his thumb over the cut that adorned her cheek.

Blood usually made him feel sick, but he was too focused on the fact that those creatures had made her bleed. He told her she was safe here and they threatened that.
If Calypso wanted a war he could bring the house down on her head.
“What happened?” Esmerelda broke from his gentle hold on her to look at his arm then and that was when he saw it - oh.

The blood was oozing out of the wound and down his arm. He bit his cheek and avoided looking at it. “Guess I didn’t notice it on my way out.”
Those capsules had been the last health potions he had. He wouldn't have changed how they were used - except it would've been nice if he hadn't blown one on a random chance grab. He’d let himself run dry on his healing potions due to the lack of conflict, so he’d have to wrap it up for tonight and have Mania look at it tomorrow.
There was simply no way he was leaving Esmerelda alone in his house tonight, and the boys might need help more than he would after the battle. Waiting overnight wouldn’t kill him.
Esmerelda tugged on his good arm, pulling him back towards the kitchen.

“I’ll wrap it up tonight and have it looked at tomorrow.” Actually, he might still have an older potion laying around in the office. It would take longer but if he wrapped it and somehow managed to drink that foul potion he’d probably be better in a few days. Maybe.
Or he'll get violently ill.
It wouldn't be the first time.
Esmerelda had shrugged out of her soaked boots and shirt before she pressed him back into one of the kitchen chairs, dragging the other over next to him. He couldn't even begin to protest by the time she had one of her legs resting on his, dabbing away at his arm with the top of his sleeve. He winced in reaction, and put his gaze on the wall away from it.

“This is going to need stitches, Quinn.” She murmured softly, her eyes still examining the gash as she pushed his sleeve back up.
Quinn grimaced and shook his head before clearing his throat. “I’ve got a potion leftover in my office, I’m sure of it. I can wrap this up and take that and… and it’ll be good as normal.”
“How old is it?” Esmerelda was looking at him skeptically and he gave her a half smile with a roll of his eyes.

Old. He contemplated lying so she would stop fussing, but was it the fussing he didn’t want? No, he actually didn’t mind it, for once. Perhaps the compulsion to lie stemmed from the fact that she’d already been through too much tonight, he didn’t want to have to admit his potion would do jack-all to help him and that he would have to leave with her to get aid. He knew she would insist he do it right away, and he sure as fuck wasn't leaving her here alone. “I got my last batch of them before you moved in.” He answered honestly.
Lying to her just didn’t seem like something he could live with, and besides the next day it would be painstakingly obvious that the wound hadn’t budged much.

“I can stitch it up for you.”
Quinn turned to look at her then with his brow furrowed. That wasn’t what he expected at all. “You’ll stitch it up?”
She nodded and removed her leg from him to stand. “I’ve done it before on myself at least a half a dozen times.” She stretched where she stood. “Stay there!” She warned him with a point of her finger before she vanished out of his sight and towards the hallway.

He wanted to laugh at her command, but as he sat there something just kepting circling in his mind. “You’ve had to do this to yourself before?” He called to her, hearing her fumbling through the cabinets and pacing the upper floor of the house.
“Yeah! It’s no big deal, I promise! I just need some… ah! There it is!”
She had set up the supplies in the table meticulously, and he still couldn’t wrap his head around her words. “You’ve performed stitches… on yourself?”

She turned to look at him, seeming a little confused and she gave him a weak smile with a shrug. “I mean… it’s not like I could go to the hospital when I was being tracked. I didn’t have the money for that kind of shit… nor time.”
His hand rubbed down his face wearily. “Fuck Calypso.” Fuck her and everything she stood for.
Esmerelda gracefully set herself down in the chair next to his, turning back to his arm before she spoke. “We’re going to have to get this shirt off you, here… try to lift up your arms.”

He lifted his arms and she slowly worked his shirt off over his head, discarding it onto the floor away from them.
Quinn studied her face carefully as she began dabbing at his arm with cloth, her brow furrowing with focus. He had never been so stuck on someone before - on everything about her: the intensity of her eyes; the carefulness in her movements; the steadiness of her breathing. She was stuck there in his head like no one else had ever been.

She was beautiful.

Esmerelda worked and applied some alcohol to a new cloth, dabbing at his arm further - only this time it left a residual stinging from where the alcohol touched his wound. He made no sound though, and focused on her.
It was easier that way.
“Here, you’ll want this.” She pushed a glass of whiskey towards him. “I hear it helps.”
He shrugged lightly before taking a sip of the burning liquid. “I’ll drink to that.”

With that she started to stitch the gash in his arm, and Quinn lurched forward, doing what he could to stop himself from moving too much.
“Yeah… the first stitch always hurts like a bitch.” She empathized. “Are you ok for me to continue?”
He bit his fist before nodding. “Oh yeah, I’m… I’m cool. Didn’t even feel it.” He reached up and downed the rest of the whiskey that was in his glass, happy to focus on that burning sensation instead. He felt another prick before another, and each one got a little easier to bear until he could easily focus on something else again.

The room had fallen quiet.
Quinn didn’t want to break her concentration, but he felt compelled to ask, especially as it would get his mind off of the pricks he felt in his arm. “What happened today?”
Esmerelda sighed softly as she finished tightened some of the stitches she had done so far, causing him to grit his teeth to not make a noise. “I was out at the park today when the storm hit. My gut had been warning me all day to not go out, but I… I didn’t want it to be right.”

She resumed her stitches and Quinn processed her words.
Fuck Calypso. Fuck those filthy, cursed sirens that followed her, too.
Esmerelda’s hands slowed in their working, and her eyes looked pained. “I lost my violin to them.”
That made him clench his fists again, but this time not from the pain. “They took your violin?” His voice hissed out through his gritted teeth.

Yet she shook her head. “No, they were gaining on me… so I threw it at them to buy me time.” She continued working down the gash, coming closer to the end. “I lost it over the bridge somewhere. I’ve had to do it before and somehow got lucky enough to find it again but…”
Quinn had to resist scowling; he’d be damned if he let them have that victory of her. If the boys weren’t busy he would’ve called in a favor, but unfortunately everything had to happen all at once. Typical.

“I almost kept running.” Esmerelda confessed, not meeting his eyes when he turned his gaze to her. “...Back at the bridge, I almost kept running for the mountains.” She had tied off at the end and cut the string that remained there. “That’s what I would’ve done before.” She paused before adding. “-before I met you.”
He wanted to respond, but he could tell she wasn’t done speaking.
“I… I almost did, but I turned at the last moment.” She swallowed, her eyes lingered on his arm, then his chest, then the floor - dancing between all three. “...and I came here.”

“Why did you?”
She carefully placed the needle on the table before she twisted her hands together - something she does when she’s nervous. “I don’t know.” Her voice came out quickly and she watched her hands move. “I mean… I do.” She breathed out slowly. “I took the risk because… I… I trust you. You’re… different from anyone else I’ve ever met and… I…” She brought her hands through her hair anxiously. “I feel safe with you.”
The shock of the words rolled over him and he immediately shifted his body towards her. Her head jumped up at the change and he brought his good arm up to touch her face.

Esmerelda’s eyes were wide and vulnerable as he leaned closer to her.
Words never meant much to him, so using them usually felt like a farce, yet this time was different.
She was different.
So he would be different.



Esmerelda had wrapped Quinn’s arm in a bandage to ensure the stitches wouldn’t be disturbed before moving him up to his bedroom to get him changed and settled in. Normally they would eat dinner together but...

Neither of them were particularly hungry after the way the day had unfolded.
Quinn eased himself back onto his bed as she settled some supplies on his nightstand.
“After blood loss, sleep is the best thing for you.” She watched the way his face changed to something more peaceful as he leaned against his headboard. His eyes were closed and his head tipped from side to side before they opened again to watch her. “Your bandages should be changed every few hours, especially to ensure the cut doesn’t get infected. Gods only know what was on that Vampire’s blade.”

“Fun.” He spoke with a grimace and it made her laugh.
“Don’t worry, I can do that.” A chill ran down her back as the chase ran back over her eyes. “I’m not going to get much sleep tonight anyways.” She never did after days like today. She’d be lucky to sleep soundly at all over the next few weeks.
She turned to start heading for the hallway, the rain hadn’t let up, so tonight would be-

She stopped suddenly, turning back to look at Quinn.
“You don’t have to go.” His voice was gruff and his features were soft. His eyes glanced to the bed next to him, as if gesturing. “Stay with me.”

If the circumstances had been different she would’ve joked with him that he didn’t seem well enough to proposition her, yet she knew that wasn’t what this was.
This wasn’t sex they both wanted.
She should say 'no.'

That’s what she would’ve said months ago - before they’d found each other; before she’d fallen into… this with him. She couldn't even let her mind think the word.
Her mind was churning over this request, hitting every command that told her to flee after today.

Yet her body had easily settled into the bed with him. She felt herself shake a little with nervousness as she inched across the seemingly-vast landscape of his comforter.
Sex was so easy.
Sex wasn’t personal.
Being emotionally intimate though?

That was something she’d never done before.
It was scary, but at the same time it was Quinn. She was safe with him.
Quinn was rolling over onto his side and she watched the distance between them close until all that was left was the fabric of his white tank top for her to press her face into.

Esmerelda could feel his breathing and the way his arms moved with just as much hesitation as hers did until she was pulled completely into his embrace. She slipped her arm beneath his bad arm so she could hold on to the comfort that radiated off of him.
Her eyes burned and she struggled to hold back the tears. Tears that came from the relief she felt as the sound of his heartbeat began to drown out the panic that once consumed her mind.
“When did this start?” Quinn spoke into the top of her head. “...this pursuit, I mean.”

“It didn’t really start until I was sixteen.” She rubbed her face back and forth against his shirt slowly as she spoke. “It wasn’t so bad then, though.” She was staying with - well, she would have to explain that. “It’s a long story, I guess.”
Quinn laughed lightly, “well you know I was going to just sit in silence for a few hours, but I can easily reschedule that for another time. Hmm, there. See, would you look at that? I’m suddenly free to listen to long stories.”

Esmerelda couldn’t stop the grin that spread across her face and she sniffled. “Well since you cleared time out of your busy schedule, I think I can share.” Her smile slowly faded as she began. “You know I was in Siren’s Cove when it was attacked.”
“Mhm.” He shifted slightly, adjusting his arms around her. “How did you get out?”

She could see his eyes again, shining from the depths, and she subconsciously moved closer to Quinn. “I don’t… really know.” She paused. “My mother ordered me to swim and I did until her command faded. I remember watching my home burn and smelling something foul in the air that made me feel sick…” She closed her eyes tightly. “Then I was dragged under the water… and the last thing I remember is his face.”

Before Quinn could even ask, she answered. “My father’s face.” She hadn’t told anyone that - it never was really that important, yet it was something that still haunted her. “He kept dragging me further and further and I couldn’t breathe… and… that’s the last thing I remember. I woke up in the murky water outside of Dragon Valley, apparently, and crawled onto shore. A pack found me… specifically their Beta. My-” She stopped herself and corrected. “Casper. My papi.”

Quinn remarked as he adjusted he rested his cheek on her hair. “You’ve mentioned him by name before. Did something happen?”

She had been liberal about what she had told Quinn. He was easy to talk to. “Things were good for a while - a long while. Some of the pack wasn’t thrilled that I was there, but at the end of the day… I was still one of them. That’s why I couldn’t stay.” She shifted against him, feeling her anxiety creeping up. “The first time the Sirens came, they weren’t violent. I was fourteen and afraid of losing the family I felt so close to. I told the pack I didn’t want to go, and they relayed the message for me. Things were seemingly ok for a while.”

“The pack was a traveling one - I know that’s not very common, but I guess I don’t know that much about Werewolves to know how they’re supposed to be. I just know when we’d run into other packs they’d comment about how uncommon we were. Point being, it was easy to not run into the Sirens. Until we did. Then they made it clear that rejection was not an option.” Esmerelda swallowed.

“They started making demands. Give me up or suffer.” She rolled backwards slightly, allowing her to see Quinn’s face more clearly. Something about that helped, but she couldn’t explain why. “The pack got defensive then. You don’t threaten one of its members. You just don’t. So when the Sirens came next, they tried to force me out… which caused the pack to chase them out. Everyone kept telling me that they’d give up. Surely they’d give up… but they didn’t… and eventually… people started dying.” Penelope. Jason. Vincent. It was more than she could take.

Quinn was quiet, his hand had moved to twisting some strands of her hair as he listened to her. It was just another form of comfort she took as she continued. “I couldn’t let other people die for me anymore, so at sixteen I packed my things and snuck out in the dead of night. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Everything in me screamed to just… go back, but… three people had died... three pack members… family members. All for… a girl who wasn’t even one of them, technically.”

“The first year was grueling, and I nearly died at least three times. I found out then that I couldn’t die of starvation… or illness, so I started leaning heavily on the artifact in me for that. Honestly, I just had nowhere to go. I bounced around a lot, ran out of money within the first month. I learned the hard way about infections and cleaning wounds properly. The Sirens weren’t a threat back then, so much as nature itself was. By the time winter hit, I had no shoes, no jacket, no money, and had somehow landed myself in the mountains around Bridgeport.”

“Bridgeport in the winter?” Quinn’s brow was furrowed. It hadn’t been her wisest idea.
Esmerelda sighed, nodding as she tilted her head into him. “Think about it, Quinn. Bridgeport is the largest city in the world! With my ability to disguise? I could vanish there without a trace. Vanish in plain sight. I had spent all my money that hadn’t been robbed from me just crossing the ocean from one continent to the next… I hadn’t even given a second thought about the weather. I just saw freedom, and I went for it. My sneakers had deteriorated when I landed on the coast of Starlight Shores. My clothes had been… shredded, and if someone had asked, I wouldn’t have been able to recall the last time I’d eaten. I didn’t have a plan for after I got there, just that I had to get there.”

“By the time I got there, I was too close to turn back and winter had already set in. I had to go around the mountains and it took me too long. It was hard to see where was safe to walk and where wasn’t… and I fell through ice into a frozen lake.” She stopped as she bit her cheek, it was hard to think about.

“You see… my artifact has kept me alive through starvation and injuries… infections and diseases… but… it didn’t work on the cold. I managed to get out of the lake and several feet away before my legs gave out… then my arms. It was like I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move them at all. All I could do was shiver and stare at the sky as the snow fell on me - and the artifact never kicked in like it used to.”

“But it did… right?” Quinn propped himself up slightly. “It did kick in - surely.”
Esmerelda looked at him and licked her lips before shaking her head. “No, it didn’t.”

She moved her gaze up to the ceiling and she could see the snow falling still. “Someone found me. It was… miraculous.” No, impossible. “Skinn and Miriam had been out of town for a doctor’s appointment. Miriam had cancer and it was sucking away at their lives and funds. It was late at night, Skinn was driving and he told me it was like someone jumped in the road."

"He apparently slammed on the breaks and jumped out to investigate… and…” Tears were spilling over the edges of her eyes. “-and… he found me.”

“They took me in, got me warmed up and cleaned up. Got me proper clothes as I told them my tale of why I was there. I would start working for Skinn’s operations when he found out about my ability to disguise and that was how I made my first checks. There’s a surprisingly large market needed for people who need someone undercover, so I started helping Skinn and Miriam in return. Life wasn’t great, but it had gotten a lot easier. We lived on the edge of homelessness, but I made a lot of friends - like Joe. They ask me to stop in and see them whenever I ‘bounce through town.’”

Quinn was smiling softly - it was almost unusual on his face. “It’s a good choice of phrase for you.” His face grew more serious. “How long did you stay in Bridgeport after Skinn and Miriam found you?”
“Two years… around, at least. Calypso caught up with me and she brought some of her best. They weren’t even Cursed, so they blended right in with the crowd. I had been out dancing with a few friends when I got this sinking suspicion I was being watched. I mean, at 18 I wasn’t a stranger to men’s gazes, but one of them… he was fucked up. Even if he hadn’t been a Siren I would’ve avoided him just for the twisted looks he gave me.” She shivered.

“Sounds like most of Calypso’s followers.” Quinn quipped with a smirk. It was a much nicer face to look at than the one in the forefront of her memories.
“He was their leader of the band, I think based off the way the others seemed to obey him; he had this twisted look whenever he smiled that implied that he probably liked kinky shit that involved burying a body when he was done.”

Quinn seemed intrigued and he thought on it before murmuring. “Reminds me of Zeke, Calypso’s High Priest. The fucker has a twisted hard-on for screams of bloody murder.” The name made Esmerelda’s heart sink into her gut. It didn’t take long for Quinn to register the change in her face. “Is that name familiar?”

Esmerelda shifted away from Quinn’s gaze and nodded, feeling paranoid talking about someone they both knew. Was this wise? “He eventually got me cornered and as soon as he got distracted I managed to slip his grasp and bolt. Once I got out of his grip my artifact reacted - for once - and I made a clean escape well out of the city’s boundaries.”
“He’s one twisted son-of-a-bitch, that’s for sure.” Quinn was grimacing. “I had to deal with him recently and it was a good reminder for why I don’t do diplomacy. I don’t know how Mania does it, honestly.” He shook his head. “How did you manage to slip away from him?”

“I scratched the shit out of his face.”
Quinn’s head snapped to look at her then, eyes slightly wide.
Had she said something wrong? She must have. She avoided his gaze and suddenly he was shifting upward on his good arm, leaning over her to try and meet her eyes. “Where?” His voice was gruff and low. “Where on his face?”

Esmerelda’s eyes betrayed her as tears fell out of the corners of her eyes and she gave a loose shrug. “The fucker was talking crazy and he tried to kiss me so I… I scratched his face.” She weakly brought up her hand to gesture the motion.

She couldn’t read his face and she bit down hard on her cheeks to stop feeling so exposed. Please don’t reject me. She could feel the thought echo in her mind. Yet his face was too… soft? Concerned. He was making connections in behind his eyes that she couldn’t see.

His hand came up to gently cup her face and she was startled by it. His forehead was closer to hers and he sighed as he shook his head.
“I’m going to kill him.”
Esmerelda broke into a smile then, despite her tears. “What…?”
Quinn had shifted upward further, almost like he might sit up. “That’s it… I’m going to fucking kill him. I gave him ample warnings and chances to not be a dick and he fucking went and pulled the biggest dick move-”

Esmerelda hadn’t even realized how fast she moved when she gripped him into an embrace. He grunted as they adjusted into the new position and she was careful to watch where she pulled at on his arms. This was too good. This acceptance and understanding was a high better than any drug. “Thank you.”
“For what?” Their voices had both gone quieter.
“For… well…a lot of things; for listening to me, for not making a big fuss over everything, for making me feel safe… when I never thought I would be allowed to feel this way.” Why did it always hurt to verbally acknowledge the pains felt in her mind? She sniffled and pressed her tongue to the roof of her mouth to stop the stinging in her eyes from spilling over again. “Thanks for… being you.”

Quinn was quiet for a moment as they settled into a comfortable position. The lull implied that the conversation could be finished, all the unsaid things hanging in the air around them. It didn’t need to be said in her mind - just knowing it was there was enough. It soothed her just as much as the sound of his heartbeat and rhythmic breathing.
She was safe here.

She was comfortable and she smiled softly into his shirt. “Hmm?”
There was a silence that followed, and she wondered if he had drifted off to sleep, himself. His breathing wasn’t that steady though and his fingers traced in a circular motion on the small of her back. Her eyelids felt too heavy to examine his face and his head moved to rest against hers.
He took in a deep breath.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

"Survivor" by 2WEI
"Indestructible" by David Edwards
"Be Together" by Major Lazer
"Stay" by Rihanna
"Anchor" by Mindy Gledhill


  1. (flops on the ground like the dying fish I am)
    Oh mygodddddd


    Maybe people have PERISHED in the explosion

    God why are they so fucking precious. I love them so much? I felt it so strongly how much CUDDLING meant, like the weight of that emotional intimacy and to see them embrace it so openly. I'm a MESS

    Also sweet christ EZZIE god that's some heavy backstory. I second QUINN, let's get to some KILLING of Zeke he's CREEPY.

    hnggggggggg what a goddamn RIDE
    I need to go sit in a corner because I cannot be for the next year at least
    (comes back for one) God lmao and QUINN over here giving his best potions to her like I DON'T NEED THEM. THAT SCRATCH ON YOUR FACE IS a much MORE PRESSING MATTER (bless these two)

    1. I KNEW YOU'D LOVE THIS CHAPTER! I did I did indeeed!

      There were BOMBS dropping in this chapter. BIG ONES.
      God it was such an emotional wrecking ball for me to watch them go through this. Normally I'm like this when my characters get like PHYSICALLY intimate, but they slayed me with just emotional intimacy and I can't even BE.

      God Ezzie did lay out a thick ass backstory. I needed it to be known, this poor girl has seen way too much shit.

      God let's sit together and ooze about this cause I'm falling deep into this AGAIN.
      HE DID GIVE HER HIS BEST POTIONS like totally unconcerned for his own health/safetymygoditssocute.

  2. Beautiful, simply beautiful. Their backgrounds are so touching, makes me happy that they found each other.

    All your stories are excellent and I glad that I found the world of Atalan.

    1. Thank you SO much! I'm so glad you found it too! Your comments have brightened my day and always make me so inspired to keep writing!

      Thanks for being you!