DISCLAIMER: Lost Girl and its characters are the property of Showcase and are used here for entertainment & not profit.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Huge massive thanks goes to my 'bourbon' adviser for 'technical' help on that subject, and also for going above and beyond on beta duties - these chapters are the better for it! Any remaining errors are purely my fault. Thanks to Ralst for posting, and to anybody taking the time to read this story, many thanks.
FEEDBACK: To kajola63[at]yahoo.com
Geminus Fatum - Epilogue
"Meeting the Parents"
The Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow" was playing on a classic hits radio station, and blasted out from the car's speakers. Lauren felt the music, like a strong pulse vibrating through the floor into the seats. She laughed as she and Bo sang along at the top of their voices; Bo thumping the steering wheel with her hands, along to the beat, as she drove.
The sea breeze coming in through the passenger window, teased at Lauren's hair, and she closed her eyes, turning towards the window, feeling it brush across her face; it was warm from the sun, like a hot breath whispered against her skin.
She felt wonderfully happy, turning to look at Bo, as they continued singing.
Bo reached out for her hand, winking at her. "Okay?" She asked in-between lyrics.
Eight weeks had passed since the incident with Hades. The headaches had started two weeks after that. Low and over the eyes to start with; non prescription pain killers able to quell the discomfort. Then the pain became worse, causing nosebleeds as well as blurred vision and tingling sensations in her limbs. Lauren had self diagnosed that it was migraine clusters; quick onset symptoms, alleviating after she vomited. Double checking, she ran various extensive tests and scans, and thankfully nothing abnormal showed up. Her conclusion was delayed stress. She'd been viciously stabbed, had died and been 'reborn'; it was obvious that her body and psyche would have been affected on a deeper level, and that eventually both would heal in time.
Bo had been constantly vigilant. The first time she'd seen Lauren experience a full on nosebleed, she'd been concerned, but Lauren had waved it off. When the symptoms went full blown, Bo was beside herself with worry. Watching Lauren in obvious pain, nose bleeding, retching into the toilet, and left weakened after, was stressful to her, and just as baffling as it had been for Lauren.
Lauren's medical opinion of her condition, and the fact that a multitude of tests had showed nothing sinister had helped to abate Bo's concern and she trusted that, as Lauren did, the events that had triggered it would lessen. However, Lauren had decided to hold back one additional possibility from Bo; that her current symptoms might actually worsen over time.
Other than this small setback, life couldn't have been better Lauren pondered. That night at the mansion hadn't been a one off either. In fact, the physical side of their relationship often left them in a state of awe; stupid grins, giggling, longing looks, suppressed desire, kisses that would ignite a desperate passion within both of them, and that was when in the company of others. Left alone in privacy, to let those desires and passions run amok, invariably meant steamed up windows in the car, blinds hastily closed in Lauren's lab office, and a reluctance to leave the comfort of the bed and each other's arms.
Bo's only concern was sharing their energy during these times; she had wondered if that was affecting Lauren, causing her current headaches. The sharing heightened everything, but Lauren had convinced her that it wasn't the cause. As much as they could share energy like that, when Bo had tried to pass hers to Lauren, to try and alleviate her symptoms, for some reason Lauren couldn't take it for the purpose of healing, yet it could work the other way; Lauren could help to heal Bo. Distracted while watching Lauren as they had cooked a meal together one time, Bo had accidentally cut herself while chopping some vegetables. It wasn't anything serious, but Lauren had held her finger under the tap to help stem the blood, and then had playfully kissed her; it had jumped started Bo's passion and without thinking, she had taken some of Lauren's chi; the cut had immediately healed.
As for the Fae Clans they had been shocked, but appeared accepting so far, of the news of the real Chosen One, and now they held Lauren in more esteem over the sacrifice she had made. Hale and Evony were currently in joint leadership, and the hope was that others, worldwide, would start to unite.
And despite what Kenzi had initially found, Lauren had always known her parents' names to be Patrick and Madeline; she had a birth certificate to show that fact, so it must have been an exceptional network of people who had aided her parents. She'd phoned them in the last eight weeks, taking care not to say too much, but enough for her parents to know what had happened and who Bo was; now being able to see them, Lauren knew the whole truth would finally be told from their side.
As her parents had since moved from their last home, Evony had arranged all their travel. The Dark's private jet had flown them into the nearest airport, and she had also ensured their means of transport. The Jaguar F Type was by far the sexiest car Lauren had ever seen, let alone ridden in. With a top speed of 200mph, she'd left the driving to Bo, just in case a migraine had erupted.
Bo took a slip road off the coastal highway, the road bending almost back onto itself. Then it started to climb upwards, a gentle incline that allowed Lauren to look out over the ocean. The azure coloured sea was calm, sparkling from the sunlight; the waves, with their white tips, gently folding over and falling into the shore. She could see why her parents had chosen to move here; there was something tranquil about the whole view, one that she knew they would both enjoy.
The road flattened out, and rows of detached houses started to appear, with long front lawns, that gave a high view out over the sea.
"Do you think they'll mind we're a bit early?" Bo asked slowing the car as they both looked for the mail box that would indicate the house number.
Lauren smiled. "I don't think it will be an issue, considering how long it's been since I last actually saw them."
Lauren's stomach tumbled when she spotted the house number at the same time as Bo.
"This is it." She said quietly.
Bo looked at her. "Ready?"
Lauren nodded, and Bo turned the car onto the driveway, slowly taking them towards the house.
"Wow," Lauren mumbled. "Mom finally got the house she always dreamed of."
The colonial style house was impressive but not ostentatious; that would not have been her mother's taste at all. Instead, it was understated; the wrap around porch with its pillars, was more homey and welcoming, and although the windows appeared plain, they actually enhanced the overall architecture. This wasn't a house that promoted itself to have money; it was house that promoted itself as a home.
Lauren inhaled sharply, leaning forward in her seat.
Bo had spotted him, too. Lauren's father was forking the soil in a flower bed on the lawn; he looked up at hearing the car, turning his head towards the house.
"Maddie! They're here!" he shouted out. Dropping the gardening fork, he strode across to the drive, smiling, excited.
Bo stopped the car, and they both got out. Before Lauren could move towards him, her father was already in front of her, engulfing her in his arms.
"Welcome home, Laurie." He said softly. His voice broke, his eyes welling with tears. He pulled back, holding Lauren at arm's length, to look at her again.
Bo smiled at how he referred to Lauren. She studied him for a moment, and thought of the resemblance that Trick had mentioned. How Lauren's human parents would have been picked for a similarity in inherited genes, so as not to raise suspicion as she grew up.
He was tall, easily six three, and he looked in good shape for a man in his late fifties. He was wearing battered sneakers, jeans and a black T shirt, that defined toned pectoral muscles, and toned biceps. His olive coloured skin looked healthily tanned, and his sandy coloured hair, graying at the temples, was neatly cut short. His eyes were a darker brown, but it was the smile that was captivating. Bo imagined that that alone, would have melted many female hearts when he was younger, and probably still did. He was a handsome man, in a semi rugged way, and undoubtedly could have given Robert Redford a run for his money in the pin up stakes. As for the Ancients, he was the embodiment of a Greek Adonis, so his appeal was obvious from their perspective.
"God, it's good to have you home again!" Lauren's father hugged her again, kissing her forehead.
Lauren choked back a sob, gently easing herself out of his arms. "Dad, this is Bo."
Bo stepped forward, her hand outstretched in greeting. "It's nice to meet you." She smiled at him.
He stood for a moment, frowning, staring at her hand, as though hesitating whether to reciprocate.
Bo's stomach knotted. She understood he knew who her father was, and that he was possibly not eager to welcome a child of Hades into his house, nor was he too pleased that his daughter was in love with a child of Hades. Bo knew there'd probably be a lot of questions asked later, so she was not surprised when he didn't shake her hand.
Instead, she was surprised by what he did do.
"No need to be so formal, Bo," he smiled. "It's Patrick, Pat, or Paddy, and welcome also." He then embraced her warmly into his arms.
Bo gulped, thrown by his welcome.
As they stood there, Patrick eyed the car. "Nice set of wheels, kiddo."
"It's just a hire, dad." Lauren told him.
"You two go on in, your mom's waiting. I'll get your bags and put the car up near the garage."
Bo dropped the keys into his hand. "It does one hundred real easy, on that coast road." Bo whispered to him.
Patrick gave a small laugh. "Does it now?"
Bo smiled. She figured he might like to test that out a little later.
Lauren took Bo's hand, leading her towards the house. As they stepped up onto the porch, the door opened, and Lauren's mother appeared.
Bo couldn't believe it. Lauren's 'resemblance' to Patrick was rather vague, but to her mother, it was extraordinary. Although tiny, only about five two, she was slim, and had the same blonde hair. It was tied back in a loose ponytail, and untamed wisps of it hung down at the sides of her face. Her eye colour was an exact match, but the remarkable resemblance was the smile. Again, like Patrick, Madeline didn't look late fifties, and it was obvious that they both took care of themselves.
Madeline, barefoot, was wearing three quarter length jean shorts, a light flamingo pink polo shirt, and an apron, that was dusted with flour. Her face and hands were also smudged with it.
Madeline stood, her arms open and Lauren walked into the embrace, bending her knees slightly to compensate for her mother's short stature.
"Welcome home, sweetie." Madeline said. Lauren nuzzled into her mother's neck, and Bo saw Madeline breathe in, as though taking in her daughter's scent, squeezing her closer.
Pulling apart, Madeline touched Lauren's cheek; her eyes narrowing, scrutinizing her daughter. She said nothing for a moment, just stared at her. Then she wiped off the flour she had deposited on Lauren's face.
"I've made your favourite, chicken soup. Looks like you need some. And I'm just making key lime pie and a chocolate cake, now. Come on in."
Madeline reached out, taking Bo's hand, squeezing it. "Welcome, Bo." She smiled, leading them both into the house.
Bo tried not to gulp down the chicken soup. Her taste buds were on the point of overload from the flavours exploding in her mouth; it was like a culinary orgasm on her tongue and she hoped there'd be enough for a second helping.
They sat at a breakfast bar in the kitchen; a housewife's dream of a kitchen, with a state of the art range cooker, and other top notch appliances and gadgets. Bo wondered if it was all really necessary for just the two of them, but as Madeline obviously had a talent for cooking, it made sense that her kitchen would be so well equipped.
"Hey, save some for me!" Patrick gently squeezed Bo's shoulder as he came into the kitchen. "I know that look when people try Maddie's chicken soup. They're always figuring out if there'll be enough for seconds!"
Bo almost choked.
"Ha! So that's what you are thinking!" Patrick sat down on the stool beside her, laughing.
Madeline placed a bowl in front of him. "Paddy could finish the whole lot in one sitting, if I'd let him, so help yourself to more, before he does!" she said to Bo.
"You like key lime pie, Bo?" Patrick asked as he spooned soup into his mouth.
"Goddammit!" He exclaimed. "Guess I have to share that, too!"
Bo grinned. Lauren was sitting opposite her, smiling at the exchange between the two of them.
For a short while the only sound was spoons in bowls and happy noises over the soup.
After a second helping all round Madeline suggested showing them the room they'd be sleeping in.
"Let's get you settled in. You can take a rest, and then tonight after dinner we'll talk and tell you everything."
Patrick stood up; Bo thought he looked worried, even sad at the prospect. He watched them follow Madeline out of the kitchen, but didn't move.
Patrick had left their holdalls at the bottom of the stairs. Grabbing them they followed Madeline up. At the top she pointed down a hallway. "Our bedroom is just down there." Then she went in the other direction, pointing out a bathroom on the way, and two other bedrooms.
"I'm sorry, sweetie," Madeline said to Lauren. "It's not like your old room; we didn't think you'd still want all the fan posters and sports trophies, and other such stuff on display. But we still have all that, Bo," she smiled at her. "If you want to see them?"
Bo liked that Madeline was teasing Lauren, threatening to expose her youthful achievements.
"But I hope you'll like this room. It has wonderful views of the mountains out the back window." Madeline opened the door, inviting them in. Again, the room was tastefully decorated, with a large comfy looking double bed.
"Sorry, there's no en-suite, but the bathroom is just across the hall."
"Mom, its fine, its lovely." Lauren dropped her holdall, walked over to the bed, and sat on it.
"Good, I'm glad you think so," Madeline looked at Bo. "Aren't you coming in?"
Bo stood in the doorway. "Oh?...errm, well I thought maybe I'd be in the guest room "
"Whatever for?" Madeline asked. "Unless that's your preference?" Now she was teasing Bo. "I'm touched by your obvious respect, Bo, but please, it's not necessary here. I'd find it very odd that you'd want to be apart from each other, especially since recent events. You're grown women, not horny teenagers that I need to separate."
Bo bit her tongue. If only you knew, she said to herself. She was pretty sure Lauren had told them what she was, but perhaps it had not registered, and they probably didn't stop to think about Lauren's own appetite for such things. Horny teenagers were nothing compared to what healthy sexual indulgences they engaged in.
It was Lauren that partially let the cat out of the bag. She stifled a laugh at her mother's comment, and when her mother raised an eyebrow at her, Lauren blushed.
Madeline just smiled knowingly. She went over to her. "What is it?" she held her hand to her forehead.
"Nothing. Just a slight headache." Lauren answered. Bo tensed, wondering how Madeline suddenly knew to ask. Lauren had appeared fine.
"Take a nap and rest. As I said, we'll talk later." Madeline kissed her forehead then left the room.
Bo finally put down her holdall, going straight to Lauren.
"Are you okay? Is it bad?" She searched Lauren's face for any sign of pain.
"No, I just think it's all the excitement, of seeing them both again." Lauren's eyes filled with tears. "They haven't changed a bit. I guess to them, I have."
Bo pulled Lauren to her. "Hey," she soothed. "I don't think that matters to them, and I doubt you have all that much; just grown a little older and wiser since they last saw you. It's obvious how much they love you."
Lauren managed to smile. "I feel guilty, for having neglected them for so long. They haven't seen me since I went off to the Congo with Nadia, and then the Fae happened. I thought it best to keep my distance, to keep them protected. I didn't know what might happen; they must have been worried, knowing I had a purpose " Lauren's voice trailed off as she yawned.
"I'm sure they'll understand, you can tell them the full story later. Just lie down for a bit. I'll unpack our stuff."
Reluctantly Lauren drew her legs up onto the bed. "Just five minutes, that's all I need "
Bo kissed her and watched as Lauren closed her eyes. As her body visibly relaxed, Bo knew she was asleep.
The unpacking done, Bo contemplated lying down beside Lauren, but her attention was drawn to the view out of the bedroom window. The mountains were a spectacular backdrop. The house was ideally located; with that view at the rear, and the sea to the front, who wouldn't want to live there. She decided she would go downstairs, find Patrick, and see if he wanted to take the Jag for a quick late afternoon spin while Lauren slept.
The house was quiet, which instinctively for some reason, made Bo move stealthily, not wanting to disturb the peace. At the bottom of the stairs she could smell chocolate cake baking, the warm richness of it making her smile.
Bo turned towards the kitchen, rounding the corner from the hallway; she stopped dead in her tracks, rocked by the scene.
Patrick was sitting on one of the counter stools, while Madeline stood, holding him. His shoulders were shaking, and it was obvious he was quietly crying. Madeline just held him, rubbing his back, softly kissing his face.
"She's home, Paddy. She's fine. She's safe."
Bo turned away quickly, feeling like she had intruded on something very personal. Patrick's obvious delight at seeing Lauren again, had manifested into an emotional outburst with probable relief that she was okay. She had survived the last few years without them, and that everything they had done to keep her safe, possibly knowing her fate, had meant they had not lost her, quite literally, for good.
Moving quietly, Bo reached the front door, stepping out onto the front porch. The sea view was quite stunning, and she imagined the sunset would be quite a spectacle. As she stood there, she could faintly smell the salt from the sea, mixing with the scent of the flowers in the garden. The sun's rays were blinding, and as much as she wanted to admire the view out to sea, she needed her sunglasses if she was to stay and sit here for a moment. She remembered they were in the car, so ambled towards the driveway.
She could see the vehicle parked up near the double garage. When she got to it, she noticed another outbuilding to the side, semi hidden by trees. Retrieving her shades from the unlocked car, Bo saw that it was a workshop, and that the door was open.
She walked over peering inside from the doorway. There was a large table saw, and a mounted mitre saw. Various tools were neatly arranged, hanging against the walls. Benches had pieces of wood on them, and more wood was stacked around the workshop.
Bo jumped at Patrick's voice. He stood holding out a bottle, while he held another in his other hand.
"Sorry, didn't mean to sneak up on you," he smiled. "I saw you from the kitchen window, thought you might like one."
"Thanks." Bo took it gratefully, taking a small swig. "This your hobby house?"
"Yep, go on in." Patrick urged her. Bo entered, and he followed.
Bo could now see various woodworking projects. Table legs, table tops, wooden toys, and various guitar parts were all hanging, waiting to be assembled.
"You make all these?" Bo motioned with her bottle.
"You make guitars?" Bo questioned.
Patrick smiled. "Yeah, that's been quite the challenge. Tried it many years ago, but failed. So I left it, then a couple of years ago, I decided to try again. Not sure yet, if they'll be playable, but that's all part of the creation. And I decided it would be nice to make us all some new ones to play."
"You play guitar?" Bo asked.
"We all do; Maddie, Lauren, Nathan. Maddie taught me when we met and then the kids. She'd taught herself when she was young."
"Hang on," Bo looked at him. "You're telling me, Lauren plays guitar?"
Patrick's smile widened. "She kept that quiet, didn't she?" He leant against one of the workbenches, as Bo wandered around the workshop. "We've still got her guitar. Maybe while you're here, we'll all play for you, if she wants to. It's been a while since we played as a family."
"I'd love that." Bo smiled at the idea.
Then she noticed the chess board and pieces, obviously made by Patrick. It looked as though this had been a lifetime project. The pieces were intricately carved, and from her knowledge of the Gods, she recognized some of the figures; Athena, Artemis, and Aphrodite took the roles of the rook, bishop, and knight, while Persephone and the Fates were the pawns. The pieces denoting the King and Queen, both of which were female in form, were not recognizable Gods to Bo. The most remarkable thing about all of it was that the board squares and all the pieces had been hand painted in one tone of gray.
Bo tilted her head as she looked at it. "Aren't both sides supposed to be distinguishable? Historically black and white?"
Patrick smiled. "Well, life's not so black and white, as much as we'd like it to be. There can be gray areas. And I've found chess is a gray area. It's a battle, tactical and strategic, so why should it be so easy to define both sides? Opponents are not always so distinguishable; sure, you can try and second guess their moves, but you never know just how much they are willing to sacrifice for victory. And yet, there's no real clear winner at the end. It's rather ambiguous; a victory can be claimed, but no real total defeat. It's an impasse of sorts."
He picked up one of the queen pieces. "The queen is the most important piece. You can eventually corner her, but you can never remove her from the board; never completely take her from the game. But all the other pieces can be sacrificed, even the King. Their only purpose is to protect her, at all costs."
He gently placed the queen back on the board.
"I guess," Bo smiled wryly at him. "That's your way of telling me, that if I ever hurt Lauren, or don't protect her, then I'll answer to you."
Patrick slowly nodded. "Although something tells me, you'd never let that happen."
"That's my only purpose now; Lauren. She's all that matters."
"I'm glad to hear it, Bo." Patrick retrieved the car keys from his pocket. "How about we test that fancy set of wheels? What's its top speed?"
Bo liked Patrick. She liked him very much.
Lauren woke with a start, her heart pounding. She sat bolt upright, her hand pushing into her stomach, trying to ease the searing pain of the knife's blade. Hades' face had been taunting her, his mouth twisting into a sneer of hate. It took her brain a few seconds to remember where she was, those moments between dreaming and being awake, when the mind is unsure which one is real. She'd been wondering when flashbacks might begin, knowing that they'd probably become more intense.
The bedroom was semi-dark; from the window she could see that it was now early evening. She swung her legs off the bed, making her way out of the room. Out on the landing she heard muffled voices, interspersed with laughter, going in search of where they were. She found Bo with her parents in the dining room, all sitting at the table.
"Hey!" Bo said. "I was just coming to get you," she kissed Lauren's cheek. "Your mom has dinner ready."
"It smells good." Lauren answered. "Home made meatloaf, mom?"
Madeline nodded. "Sit, we'll eat now." She left them, heading towards the kitchen.
"You feeling okay?" Bo asked quietly.
Lauren nodded then noticed the photo albums on the table. "Oh no." She mumbled.
"Didn't I just know you'd be a cute looking baby?" Bo's comment couldn't hide her delight.
Lauren raised a questioning eyebrow at Patrick.
"Bo needs to know what she's getting herself into, Laurie. I think it's only fair she gets to see what you were like as a youngster."
Lauren could see his delight also, at her mild embarrassment at old family photos. "Please tell me, you haven't shown her the videos?"
Bo looked at Patrick. "You didn't mention them. You holding out on me, Pat?"
Patrick just shrugged. "Well, I wasn't going to subject Lauren to you seeing those, but now she's broached the subject?"
"I hate you." Lauren murmured, and Patrick laughed.
"I've never been able to picture you in a tutu doing dance classes until now." Bo held up the album, pointing at a photo of Lauren when she was about six years old.
"I hated ballet, but I just loved the dress." Lauren sat down beside her. "That was my 'wanting to be a princess when I grow up' phase."
"Quite sporty, too, from this one?"
It showed Lauren with a tennis racket. "I was ten there. That was my 'I'm going to win Wimbledon when I grow up' phase. I was also into track and field at the same time, so it could have been my winning Olympic gold phase, too."
"Can you explain this one?" Bo asked.
"Oh God!" Lauren mumbled. She hid her face in her hands. The photo showed her with messed up coal black hair, heavily made up eyes, assorted chain style necklaces, wearing a black leather jacket, and holding a guitar.
"I was fourteen. That was my 'I'm gonna be Joan Jet' phase."
Bo stifled her laugh. "There's just too many to choose from that are potential favourites." Then she flicked over some pages, pointing at another one. "But I think this one is probably my favourite of all."
It showed Lauren, now a young woman, smiling happily, holding her test results that would get her into Medical School.
"That was my 'I'm going to be a brilliant doctor' phase."
"Ain't that the truth! I guess that phase stuck, eh?" Bo winked.
"That one was always there; the others were just part of growing up and having dreams. But being a doctor was inherent. Now I know why of course!"
Madeline appeared carrying a tray with the meatloaf and vegetables.
Bo's eyes widened. She wondered if there were going to be more guests.
Lauren noticed her surprise. "Mom can't cook in moderation. It's as if she expects an army for dinner."
"Ignore her, Bo," Madeline added. "My family can eat enough for an army, trust me! They've always had healthy appetites!"
Dinner was a delicious as it looked, and when everybody had eaten as much as they could, the dishes were cleared away, and they all retired to the living room. Madeline produced the chocolate cake, while Patrick poured out glasses of red wine.
Bo and Lauren sat opposite her parents on one of the two large comfy sofas in the room.
"Why don't you two start, sweetie? Tell us everything that happened from when you left for the Congo?" Madeline suggested.
Lauren sighed. Her mother had been diplomatic by not saying "when you left for the Congo with Nadia". Her parents had met her partner at the time, and they had been as welcoming as they always were. Lauren took a sip of her wine, and slowly retold the events of the past few years; Bo explaining her family history along with her.
Patrick appeared to be more affected by what he heard, while Madeline remained calm. Hearing about his daughter's supplication at the hands of the Fae, caused Patrick visible distress. His hands balled into fists, the knuckles turning white. His eyes became pained, but he said nothing. Madeline's hand rested lazily on his thigh, and when she felt his body tensing as she sat next to him, she gently rubbed his leg, easing him away from his anguish.
Hearing how Lochlyn had had her caged for several days, Patrick's jaw set, his breathing quickened. Now even Madeline showed small signs of discomfort.
Nadia's death at Bo's hands, and from Lauren's plea for her to do it, meant neither could hide their shock. Patrick looked at Bo, and his eyes showed pain again, but for her, for having made the choice she had for Lauren's sake. Madeline had also been moved by this admission.
The only light moments came when Bo and Lauren spoke of their own relationship, the trials they had faced together and apart, which brought smiles to her parents' faces.
The most recent events with Hades were the most difficult for Patrick and Madeline to hear. Both moved closer together on the sofa, Patrick reaching for Maddie's hand, as Bo retold the scene; Lauren's death at her own father's doing, her return to life, and how she had bargained with the Gods to live the life she wanted.
The bottle of red wine was empty. Patrick stood up without speaking, fetching another.
Lauren looked at her mother, motioning with her eyes towards her father. Madeline just nodded, assuring Lauren that he was okay.
Patrick refilled their glasses, sitting back down. He cleared his throat looking at his wife as she sat quietly smiling at him.
"You know I met your mom in college. I was eighteen, real excited to be there, mostly because of all the young women I'd meet. Like most eighteen year old males, my mind wasn't too much on studying. But I'd told myself, I wasn't gonna be one of those guys to get tied down. I'd just play the field, study and then head off with the world at my feet. So on my first day, I'm looking for my class; I round a corner, bumping into someone, books scattering all over the floor. This person was so short, I hadn't seen them. They were picking up their books, so I lent a hand. She turned to look at me, and I was dumbstruck. She was the most amazing, beautiful gal I'd ever seen. She said, "Is there something you'd like to say?" and she just stared at me, waiting. I wanted to apologise, but I just couldn't speak, so she said "I see you've forgotten the word for sorry, asshole!" and with that she'd picked up all her books and left. That's when I fell in love with your mom. Right at that moment I knew this was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I spent the next few months apologising and trying to convince her that I wasn't an asshole."
Bo laughed. "So it wasn't love at first sight for you?" she asked Madeline.
"On the contrary, it was," Madeline smiled. "But unlike Paddy, I was there to study, and I'd worked hard to get there. And I figured he was just one of those good looking college jocks who was out to play the field, and I wasn't about to fall for that. Besides, he was so good looking I didn't think he'd give me a second glance. But I made him work for it, for those first few months."
Patrick squeezed her hand, sipped some wine and continued. "Plus, that was never really the plan for both of us. I think we had ideas about our future, and they didn't include that kind of involvement so early in our lives. And of course, your mom had no idea about my family's history; what that involved. I wasn't supposed to meet someone outside of it, and if I did, it wasn't expected to last. When it became obvious, just how important our relationship was, and that I wasn't prepared to give it up, then it was deemed necessary that your mom be told the truth. I knew that it would either end the relationship, or cement it, but I was willing to take the risk, rather than keep your mom in the dark about my family's secrets."
Lauren shifted forward on the sofa, waiting eagerly to hear what her father had to say.
"Just so you know, your real last name should be Kelly; that's my family's name. But to aid in keeping you safe, it was changed to Smith .such a common name that it would be harder to track you down amongst the millions who share it. For us, it became second nature to use it."
"And by the way," Madeline added, "you knew my maiden name to be Browne; it's actually Lewis .the fact you decided to change yours to that from Smith because of your favourite biology teacher, and that there was another student with the exact same name as you, was strangely perverse. Me and your dad spent many nights discussing the coincidence!"
Lauren's mouth fell open. Her brain tried to assess this information, but the computation over the odds was too great to even contemplate, so she gave up trying.
Bo just looked at her, with the same expression of disbelief.
Patrick sipped more wine. "My family line can be traced directly back to the ancient Greeks. We were not related to or born from any of the Gods, but were trusted guardians, supporting and assisting, especially where their liaisons with mortals, resulted in children. The Gods often distrusted each other, and any such infidelities, could result in conflict between them. Keeping those children hidden was sometimes of paramount importance."
He explained that it wasn't just his family alone that had the honour of serving; each major God would have their own support network, with allegiance focused solely on them. It wasn't restricted to the main known three, Zeus, Poseidon, Hades; it also meant their offspring.
"For instance, your grandfather, Apollo, would have had his own specific network of support. The thing about our line was that it was one of the three high trinities; our priority was for Zeus, and any descendents from his line; Asclepius included, as that was his grandson."
"And what was the punishment, if these families failed in their obligation?" Lauren asked.
"They rarely did, and the Gods couldn't afford to be rid of them, if it happened. These families were also responsible for keeping the people's faith alive in the Gods; they worshipped them, loved them, and the Gods needed the adulation to exist. People want a God to love them, not punish them for their fallibility when trying to measure up to a higher being; one that sets such a high benchmark of spirituality that's practically unobtainable to reach, no matter how hard they try."
"So the Gods are still worshipped?" Bo asked.
Patrick nodded. "The Hellenic religion underwent a revival in the 1990's, although it's been in practice for centuries. Of course, what I'm talking about predates that," he smiled. "The Fae weren't anything new to the families either. Their existence was known back then also, and of course, they had their own network of human guardians. They just didn't know how much we knew about them. The Prophecy of the Chosen One wasn't exclusive knowledge, it was entwined with the Gods; the Fae just didn't figure out how much, and how much influence the Gods had in it."
He looked at Lauren and winked.
"It's hard to get my head around this," Lauren said. "You've never really shown much interest in any form of religion, apart from discussing various ones with me and Nathan as a way to broaden our minds. There was nothing, no idols on show, or even hidden ones of the Gods, to suggest you were remotely devoted!"
Patrick cleared his throat. "Ah, well, that's because I was a reluctant devotee." He refilled everyone's glass.
"Your mom and I are part of the baby boomers, that generation born after the Second World War. Of course by then, the Greek Gods had been relegated to school text books, their power no match for the religion that came after them and swept across the world. World War II was a defining moment. There'd been wars of course, throughout history, but nothing on this scale. The sheer genocide of innocent people, a Holocaust so horrific, that not even the Gods believed humans could reach such a level of depravity. Not even Ares himself would have found any Glory in leading any army in that conflict, and he'd lead many in the past. They trusted, as did everyone, that the allied forces would find a way to prevail, which thankfully we know they did, at a high cost."
"The issue for some, was knowing that there was no great rescue from on high, no Ancients, or new Gods that had put a stop to it, so the generation after changed a culture steeped in faith and tradition. The fifties started it, but the sixties struck a chord: music, fashion, free thinking ideas, the sexual revolution, drugs; young people initiating a new form of freedom, one they already owed to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice. Their hope was that it wouldn't happen again. So belief, faith, religion took a bit of a battering. I was a child of the sixties, too young to fully understand, but old enough to know that what our family considered important, wasn't. As much as my family had cared for these Gods, what had they done for us?"
"When did you become aware as a child of the family history?" Lauren asked. She placed a slice of the cake on a plate for her and Bo to share.
"My parents made us aware of it from a young age. Of course it was pretty secretive, so not something that was spoken of outside the circle. As a high family, we had others in the employ of keeping it that way. Guardians for the guardians," he smiled. "Meetings would take place at the house every now and then. But we didn't have a secret altar down in the basement, where everyone stood in a circle wearing cloaks, spouting demonic chants and making human sacrifices!"
"It seems the Fae have some of those traditions." Bo mumbled.
Patrick smiled at her.
"You said your parents made us aware?" Lauren said. "Who was us?" she felt her body tensing, waiting for his response.
Patrick looked at her, his eyes apologetic. "My two brothers and my sister."
Lauren closed her eyes. "I had an aunt and uncles? You told me when I asked that you didn't have any siblings." She then looked at Madeline.
"I was an only child; that was the truth." She confirmed what she had told Lauren.
"I know that's what I told you when you were young," Patrick added. "It was all part of the plan to keep you safe; no curiosity on your part, searching for any family that could lead to your discovery."
"So if you were reluctant over the family history, why the change of mind?" Lauren sipped her wine, hoping the alcohol would ease the tension out of her shoulders.
"My plan was never to be involved. I had two younger brothers that could take over, the emphasis on younger, and my sister. My father had years to prepare them. I'd met your mom and as far as I was concerned, I had no obligation to be a part of it."
Bo smiled. "Yeah, family obligations suck sometimes."
Patrick laughed. "Your mom and I were coming to the end of college," he addressed Lauren once again. "Rumours started to propagate that something big was on its way. Something all the high families would have hoped for but the idea that it might actually be a child born of the Gods was unthinkable. That hadn't happened in several millennia for mankind. To understand it, for the Gods, there is no time, their world is the same as it's always been, but time by our standards means thousands of years of progression; effectively we've moved on and they haven't. You may only be thirty-six now, Laurie, but you're an Ancient of their time."
"Don't worry sweetie, I have some Seven Seas vitamins for the 'over fifties' that might help." Madeline suggested.
Bo gurgled her wine as she sipped it. "Sorry." She said to Lauren, noticing her scowl. She was partly grateful for Madeline adding a touch of humour to the conversation. She could feel Lauren was on edge sitting beside her.
"Of course, we know what the 'big something' turned out to be!" Patrick reached for a slice of the chocolate cake. "It was Zeus' line, a direct descendant, and of course that meant my family's direct involvement. My own parents couldn't have explained the arrival of a new baby at their ages, and that was never a choice. The responsibility would have to fall down the chain. At twenty-two, I was the only choice. My sister was seventeen, way too young for the responsibility, and my bothers only fifteen and twelve. Your mom and I had already been tested, and the decision was final. The day after we finished college, we were quietly married. Amongst our friends it gave the impression of a shot gun wedding, and we'd already said I'd had a job offer out of state. If we should come across anybody we knew, a baby wouldn't be a surprise."
"What about help?" Lauren asked. "What about money?"
"My own father was an investment banker. He was in charge of," Patrick quote signed, "Funds, belonging to the Gods .over the years that diversified into cash, bonds, stocks, shares, investments. That was part of the high families' trust, in case anything like this happened."
"Wow, old and rich? I feel an accident coming on once we're married!" Bo joked rubbing her hands together with delight. Lauren playfully slapped her on the arm.
"Sorry to burst your bubble Bo, but it's held in trust," Patrick said. "Some will be available to your children, and the rest will continue to remain tucked away, for the next time this could happen. We were only given a small financial handout to start with, again, anything too substantial could have flagged up investigation. As much as possible, we needed to give the impression of a normal young married couple, and lack of finances helped. Official documents were taken care of, and we were informed when to move on, to what towns and what job opportunities could be found. What helped was my eventual career at a pharmaceutical company that was researching cancer medication. It seemed fitting under the circumstances. I progressed, was paid well, and made some wise investments; hence my early retirement and this house."
"Did you know Lauren's purpose?" Bo asked.
This time Madeline answered; watching Patrick explain it all, years of a life shrouded in secrecy, was tiring him. "Not specifically. Her true parentage obviously meant a healer, and that her purpose was to defeat one of the Ancients, although we had no idea who or how. We also knew what would need to happen for her to ascend to her true self. That was the hardest part, every parent's worst nightmare. We knew it couldn't happen too soon in her life, but that it eventually had to. When you left for the Congo, we pretty much figured that could lead to it."
"So, my human grandparents were actually alive?" Lauren asked her father. She'd been informed by him they had died when she was a toddler. She looked from him to her mother.
"Again, I was telling the truth about mine having died before you were born." Madeline answered first.
Patrick nodded. "Yes, they were alive while you were growing up."
"Were?" Lauren asked quietly.
"As I said, we'd get messages every now and then. My mother died ten years ago, and my father five years ago."
Lauren held her breath for a moment. "You never got to see them after you left, did you?"
Patrick simply shook his head.
"And you never got to attend their funerals, either." She concluded without his affirmation. "You did all this, both of you, just for my sake!" Lauren found she couldn't hear anymore. "All that sacrifice!" She stood up, agitated, feeling unworthy of what had been done, the lives it had affected; it wasn't just her parents, but Patrick's family, his parents, his siblings, not being able to see their son, or their brother again.
"Nathan." She closed her eyes, as she thought of her brother, realizing there was a whole family he didn't know about as well, as not truly knowing who she was.
"Lauren," Paddy stood up also. "The outcome far outweighed any sacrifices we made. Believe me it was all worth it, to have you. And Nathan's life hasn't been any the less for it, either. There is nothing to feel guilty about."
Lauren opened her mouth to speak, only to find she couldn't answer him. He knew that's exactly what she was feeling; guilt. She hugged him tightly, hoping he would feel how much it meant for her to know he understood, and for all that he had told her.
He squeezed her to him, kissing the top of her head. They stood together like that for a moment. "Is there anything you want to ask?" He said.
Lauren shook her head.
"Bo?" Paddy offered her the same opportunity.
"No. I'm like Lauren, I'm a little speechless right now." She told him.
Madeline got up out of the chair. "I think we've all had quite a day. You two must be tired; traveling to get here, on top of hearing all this. Let's call it a night. We can continue tomorrow, if there's anything you want to ask."
Lauren nodded, kissing Paddy on the cheek, and then her mother, before heading out towards the stairs.
Bo hung back. "Thank you."
"For what?" Paddy looked puzzled.
"For keeping her safe. She's the only reason I've survived what I have. If you hadn't done what you did, I wouldn't have met her, and I don't wanna think about what I could have become."
Now it was Patrick that couldn't speak; his shoulders set. Madeline reached out, taking his hand, a familiar sign of quiet support. Bo noticed it, guessing it was time to leave them in private.
Up in the bedroom, Bo and Lauren quietly moved around each other, taking off clothes, until they were just in tops and underwear. Bo was still trying to process the whole conversation, suspecting that Lauren was trying to come to terms with it, too.
"I'm just gonna go brush my teeth." Bo said.
"Okay." Lauren answered, without looking at her, folding her clothes neatly as she always did, while Bo's were an untidy pile on the floor.
Bo stood brushing her teeth, as Lauren entered the bathroom, going straight to the toilet.
"Quite a story?" Bo remarked, feeling the need to say something about it, trying to gauge Lauren's reaction.
Bo continued brushing, watching the doctor sitting there. Bo smiled at her. That was the thing about relationships; how quickly any inhibitions or shyness ebbed away, how couples fell easily into 'sharing' an openness about habits. Dr Lewis taking a leak was just as sexy as anything else they shared.
"What?" Lauren asked.
Bo said nothing, spitting into the sink. Lauren flushed the toilet, joining her, squeezing paste onto her own toothbrush.
"How do you feel about it? Now you know the whole truth?" Bo asked, leaning against the countertop.
Lauren shrugged. "It's kinda surreal. This whole life we had as a family, and their lives before it. What they did, what they gave up. It's hard to believe that it was for my sake. It was like it had happened to someone else."
"Are you upset by that?"
"No. I'm not explaining this very well. If I could put it into scientific data, then I probably could!"
"So you need to get all nerdy, to tell me how you feel?" Bo pushed Lauren for a response. "That was some heavy stuff to hear."
Lauren stared at her for a moment. "You don't think I'm reacting normally? I should be more emotional about it?" she tilted her head pondering. "Okay, that's data I can analyze." She said more to herself.
"It's also okay, if you don't feel anything," Bo assured her. "It's not a requirement."
Lauren spat, wiping her mouth. "I'm more comfortable showing how I feel, than talking about it." She leaned in, leisurely kissing Bo. "You wanna help me with that?"
Trailing her fingers down Bo's chest, Lauren left her standing there, going to their room.
Bo frowned, pushing away from the sink. She found Lauren, pulling down the bed comforter.
"Are you suggesting what I think you are?" Bo said quietly. She'd lowered her voice, hoping it meant Patrick and Madeline wouldn't hear her, or the implications of Lauren's comment, despite their room being several meters away.
"That's a matter of your perception," Lauren moved to stand in front of her. "I'm just wondering if you want to participate in a sexual study that might produce biological results of how I feel right now." Her hands caressed Bo's body, as she moved them closer to the end of the bed, pushing the succubus slowly down onto it.
"Lauren?" Bo's protest was interrupted by Lauren forcing her further up the bed. "Is this really the way to deal with it?"
"I don't know yet." Lauren crawled up to her, silencing Bo from speaking, with a deep kiss.
Despite trying to resist, Bo couldn't help moan. Lauren straddled her waist, then pulled her own t-shirt over her head.
Bo twitched as she took in the sight of her semi naked body, her own reacting excitedly, goose bumps erupting. "What about your parents?"
"I don't think they need to be involved in this study."
"You know what I mean." Bo's hands worked of their own volition exploring the doctor's torso, her finger tips feeling the heat emanating from her skin. "This is their house, shouldn't we be more respectful?"
"Bo, this won't be the first time I've had sex with someone while my parents slept just down the hall." Lauren whispered.
Bo stared at her. "Crap!" she moaned. The whole sentence evoked erotic images of Lauren and past lovers. Lauren was not going to let this go.
"You know us .we're not exactly quiet well I'm not!"
"Then perhaps now is a good time for you to learn. I figure there's forty feet between our room and theirs. I know I can do it, but let's see how you cope."
Bo considered momentarily that this was a strange way for Lauren to react. She also knew, as the doctor had told her in the past, people dealt in different ways to processing events and emotions. For Lauren, that meant right now a physical need to connect with her, and if that's what she needed, Bo couldn't deny her.
Bo discovered Lauren was right, despite her best efforts; Lauren had mastered the art of quiet control. A while later, Bo also found a way to cope; staring down at Lauren, settled between her legs, and looking back at her with wicked satisfaction, Bo grabbed the headboard, and stuffed her other fist in her mouth.
Bo woke up immediately sensing the empty space beside her where Lauren should be. She scrambled from the bed, grabbing a t-shirt and underwear, dressing as she made her way out of the bedroom. She spotted the light coming from under the bathroom door along the corridor.
"Oh no!" she mumbled to herself, rushing towards it. In the bathroom she found Lauren, naked, on her knees, retching into the toilet, dollops of blood splattered on the tiled floor.
Bo grabbed a large bath towel, wrapping it around Lauren's body.
"Why didn't you wake me?" Bo said softly.
Lauren couldn't answer as she continued to vomit. She was shaking violently, sweating, as blood continued to pour from her nose. She was holding her head, her fingers digging into her own scalp, trying to ease the pressure and pain.
Lauren lent back against her. "I'll call a doctor." Bo said.
Lauren, shivering, shook her head, then heaved again into the toilet bowl. Bo held her, stopping her from collapsing, from hitting her head against the porcelain, or the floor.
Hearing the sink taps running, Bo turned to see Madeline standing there, wringing out a face cloth. Kneeling down with her, she placed it against Lauren's forehead.
"How long has this been happening?" she asked.
"A few weeks."
Madeline pinched the bridge of Lauren's nose, still holding the cold damp cloth to her head.
Bo continued to hold Lauren, now too weak to support herself. Madeline dampened the cloth again, and re-applied the pressure pinch, in an attempt to stop the nose bleed.
This routine carried on for an hour. Lauren's stomach, bare of any contents, still going through the motion of trying to empty itself, only regurgitating the water that Madeline had been forcing her to try and drink to stay hydrated. Finally, the nose bleed ceased.
It was only when Lauren's eyes closed and she slumped back against her, that Bo knew this episode was over. It was the longest lasting one yet. She sat on the cool tile floor, holding Lauren against her for a moment, shaking herself, relieved that it was finished.
Madeline looked at her. "Are you okay?"
"Can you manage with her, or shall I get Paddy?" Madeline asked.
Bo nodded again. "I can carry her." Thankful for her Fae strength, she managed to stand, carrying Lauren in her arms.
Placing her back on the bed, Bo stared at Lauren's pale face. The doctor appeared small, vulnerable, as she lay there, and Bo suddenly felt afraid.
Madeline appeared with a bowl of hot water, handing Bo a cloth.
"Let's wash her down."
Bo removed the towel covering Lauren and following Madeline's lead, helped to gently wash the sheen of sweat from Lauren's arms, torso and legs. Madeline's face showed her concern, but she said nothing, as she gently nursed her daughter.
After they dried her, Bo found a t-shirt and shorts for Lauren to wear, then pulled the comforter over her.
"Is this over, or likely to start up again?"
"No," Bo answered Madeline's question. "Normally once she passes out, that's it."
They silently watched her for a few more minutes.
"Would you like a coffee?" Madeline offered.
Bo hesitated. She knew Madeline was eager to know just what had been going on over the last few weeks, but was reluctant to leave Lauren. She knew, by recent episodes, that it wasn't likely that Lauren would wake up and suffer another bout of illness. In fact, the opposite was the case. Once she did recover, her energy was stronger every time, until it struck her again, but every strike now seemed to be more severe.
"Yeah, I'd welcome a coffee right now." Bo answered. Instinct told her Lauren would be okay, but a mother's concern needed her assurance. She kissed Lauren's cheek.
Grabbing shorts for herself to wear, Bo followed Madeline down towards the kitchen, noticing she too was in just shorts and a t-shirt, her blonde hair loose and a little messed up from sleep.
As they got to the bottom of the stairs, Madeline waved a hand of dismissal at the kitchen.
"To hell with coffee, let's have something a bit stronger." She headed towards the darkened lounge, passing the sofas to a room at the back, with glass French doors.
As Madeline opened them and switched on a lamp, Bo could now see the room; a study, with a desk, and wall to wall shelves, bulging with books. What couldn't fit on the shelves, were stacked in neat piles on the floor.
Two leather chairs were in front of the desk, and Madeline motioned Bo to sit, as she switched on another lamp.
"I guess this is your hobby room?" Bo said.
"Yes," Madeline answered, fetching a bottle and two glasses from a small cabinet. "Paddy's has always been his workshop. It's where he goes to work things out, think things over. He's a physical man; he has to be doing something. My destresser is books, reading; it's how I work through stuff."
She handed a glass to Bo. "Kentucky bourbon, straight up, okay?"
Bo nodded, holding up the glass, her hand trembling. Madeline helped to steady it, as she poured. Filling her own glass, she downed the shot in one. Bo followed suit, eyeing the bottle's label. 'Angel's Envy', a bourbon aged in ruby port barrels; Bo expected an explosive taste from the name, but instead the finish was smooth, lingering, and felt like liquid silk as it soothed its way down. The usual burn was slow, the warmth spreading evenly; it was primarily a sipping bourbon, and she realized why Madeline had downed the first shot; Bo felt its affects, easing the tension from her body, helping her to relax, as Madeline knew it would.
Madeline refilled both glasses, setting the bottle on the desk, sitting in the chair opposite her.
"I assume by your reaction," Madeline pointed at Bo's trembling hand. "That what happened upstairs was bad compared to recent incidences of the same thing?"
Bo nodded. "How did you know?"
"I know my daughter, and I knew something wasn't right when you arrived. Despite not having seen her these last few years, it was obvious something was wrong."
"That's the worst it's been." Bo said, explaining about all the attacks Lauren had had, and the tests she'd run that had shown negative results for any cause.
"It's not like her to be ill. Even as a child, she rarely got sick. Her brother was the opposite!"
Bo managed to smile.
"Of course, I put that down to her being .special, that it was part of her nature, that illness wouldn't be a major issue. She had colds, but nothing that she couldn't shake off after a couple of days. With Nathan, she never caught anything off him, not even chicken pox. He was a magnet for anything going around at school."
Bo started to feel more relaxed, as Madeline talked. It seemed a natural ability that she had, to put people at ease, despite her obvious worry over Lauren.
"Did they get along?" Bo asked.
"Oh yes. Lauren's four years older, so Nathan practically followed her everywhere once he could. They adored each other, and she was very attentive towards him, even as a baby. Oddly enough, she seemed to know when he was getting sick, before it became obvious. Even then, she showed signs that a medical career was where she was destined to be. She probably wouldn't remember any of that now, but she was always concerned when any of us were ill, and was very adept at helping as much as she could."
"That sounds like Lauren, doesn't look like much has changed." Bo gave a small laugh.
"And her bedside manner showed a very caring personality from a young age, as well as a curiosity for medical practices. On the odd occasion Nathan had to be taken to the doctor's and Lauren was there, she paid great attention to what the doctor said and what they were doing. One time, Nathan broke his leg falling out of a tree they both liked to climb. Lauren was beside herself with worry and guilt, 'cos she knew he wanted to do everything she did."
Madeline sipped at her drink.
"So she was fascinated at the hospital, with all the x-rays and the cast for his leg. I mean, if you've ever had a hyper six year boy at home from school, and tried to keep him occupied, you'd appreciate the effort that takes. The only one who could keep him calm was Lauren. She'd sit with him for hours reading him stories, playing games, and he'd do whatever she told him."
"They sound like great kids."
"They were, but there were times they tested my patience, believe me! Toddler tantrums, teenage angst, and having to support young idealistic views; seriously, a whole freshman year in a wedding dress and combat boots? I expect she's told you about that?" Madeline rolled her eyes. "But we've been very lucky, very blessed with our children."
Bo smiled to herself. It seemed to Madeline there was no distinction that Lauren wasn't her natural daughter.
"What is it?" Madeline tilted her head, her eyes narrowing.
"Nothing." Bo dismissed.
Madeline moved forward in her chair, taking hold of Bo's hand. "I'm so sorry you never felt that from the people who cared for you. We may not be Lauren's biological parents, but she's our daughter." She refilled both their glasses.
"As you know, we had gotten married more quickly than we'd expected to. Paddy's whole family obligation towards the Gods? When they first told me, it was a real what the fuck? moment."
Bo laughed at the candid comment.
"I honestly thought it was a joke," Madeline continued. "Then I thought maybe they were a bunch of crazies, until I realized they were deadly serious. Once I was taken into the whole confidence of it, I realised we loved each other enough, and not even something like that, could break us up. And then the whole, we're going to parent this special baby. That was probably the point where I was ready to run because that was something I wasn't sure I could do. How the hell, at just twenty-two, was I going to cope, to be a good enough parent, to any child, let alone one so special? I remember the night she arrived. Paddy had gone on ahead to some quiet rural town, to find us a home, to get a job. I eventually joined him, thinking I'd have time to organize this little house he'd found, for the arrival of a baby. I got one day at it, because my second night there, they brought her to us. I remember everything about that night, the time, the meal we'd eaten, what we were wearing. Even seeing Paddy's reaction, and knowing in that moment, it had changed him into a man. This tiny little bundle, literally just a few hours old, and the minute I held her in my arms, I fell in love with her. I knew, no matter how hard things might be, whatever we had to do, she was the most important thing in our world; she was our responsibility, and at the cost of our own lives, we'd ensure hers. I understood in that single moment, what it meant to be a parent. And that in fact, I was ready to be one."
"She's lucky to have had you both." Bo raised her glass in salute.
"It's been a two way street." Madeline smiled.
"It couldn't have been easy, having to hide away, move constantly?"
"I imagine no harder for any other family, with commitments. We did what we had to do, to provide a good home for our children, to give them a solid family foundation. Paddy's job meant relocations, which helped in the overall scheme of things, and the kids were young enough that it didn't affect them too much. That all settled after the first ten years; not to say it was all plain sailing, there were moments that were tough, and Paddy struggled for a while, but we came through it."
"I'm not surprised it was tough. Having to leave your families, not having any contact with them. Paddy mentioned his family earlier, but neither of you really mentioned yours. Was there no other family members at all who would have missed you?" Bo asked, as she finished her drink.
Madeline didn't answer right away, refilling their glasses once again. Bo stopped from protesting at another drink. Truth be told, she actually didn't mind if she got smashed. She knew it would be very easy to do so right now, after seeing Lauren so ill, and it seemed that drinking with Madeline was an easy pastime; it was relaxing and had a quiet sophistication and maturity about it, rather than the frenetic drinking sessions she and Kenzi engaged in. As a future mother-in-law, Madeline was scoring high in the buddy stakes right now.
Madeline sat back in the chair. "My parents were killed in a car crash when I was five. My mom was only seventeen when I was born; not quite as acceptable back then, as it is now. They were very young and a little reckless, and probably considered themselves to be indestructible, as most young people tend to see themselves. With no immediate family, or even distant ones willing to take in a five year old, I was delivered into the foster care system."
"Shit!" Bo gasped under her breath.
Madeline continued. "The constant change for us as a family was already a familiar one to me. For four years, I had no real stability, moved from one foster family to another; not that I helped much in trying to settle in. I proved to be a handful," she winked. "So the foster services tried a different tact. Instead of a family with children, they opted for a couple with none; a much older couple in fact. They'd been foster parents for years and were on the point of retiring, when services begged them to take me. They were reluctant at first, due to their ages, both early sixties, but when they were informed of my case, they decided they couldn't let me go back into a system that wasn't working for me. It was only supposed to be for a few months. I was nine. They officially adopted me when I was ten."
"That's where Lewis comes from, isn't it?" Bo guessed.
Madeline nodded. "John and Marion were my parents, and that's the only name I wanted."
"You must have loved them very much."
Madeline breathed in deeply. "Yes I did. It was a calming home, very loving, very attentive. They were both school teachers. My level of academia was helped greatly under their influence. Fortunately I was awarded a scholarship to attend college, as by then, they were retired, so I didn't have to worry about fees. I could get through with odd jobs towards what I needed for classes and living."
"What happened to them?" Bo sensed there was more to come from this story.
"I think they filled a massive obligation, and finally seeing me achieve my goal, they were able to let go. Marion died first, and John followed two weeks later. It was during my first semester."
Bo closed her eyes, unable to take in what she was hearing.
"I got through it, knowing they'd want me to. I managed to pick up classes after everything was settled. And I guess that's why Paddy's family had no concerns over me, as a rank outsider; in fact his mother was ultra supportive of our relationship and that I be included."
"That's what I call a what the fuck? moment!" Bo shook her head looking at Madeline in disbelief.
"My goal was to be have been able to take care of them as they aged, but they denied me that," she half smiled, remembering. "So I did what I set out to do, and what they'd done for me. I became an English teacher. I've had the great privilege of teaching eight to nine year olds, instilling in them a love of story-telling. It's just the right age to catch them, before they start to slide down the road of puberty, before that battle begins! When there's still innocence, and a belief in magic. And books are magical journeys. There's a small school here in town that I still teach at part time."
"Lauren told me you were a teacher, but she never mentioned all this. She doesn't know does she?" Bo said quietly.
Madeline smiled, leaning over the side of the chair. "She didn't, until just now." Her voice louder, aimed towards the lounge. "You might as well come in here, rather than sit there in the dark!"
Bo frowned, until Lauren sheepishly appeared at the doors to the study, wiping at her eyes. Bo got up immediately, going to her.
"How do you always know?" Lauren whined, sniffing.
"A mother's instinct! I always knew when you and your brother were sneaking around. I can tell your footsteps, even barefoot!"
Bo wondered if Madeline had always been alert, especially where Lauren was concerned. Any attempt at trying to sneak off could have led her towards a danger she would have been completely unaware of when she was younger.
Bo gently held Lauren, who still looked pale, but now distraught at what she had heard.
"Why didn't you ever tell me all this?" Lauren pleaded.
"Because when you came along, you were my life; you, your brother and your dad. Whatever I'd gone through was of no importance, compared to that." Madeline said softly.
Lauren inhaled sharply, forcing the lump in her throat back down.
"But I knew there'd be a time, when I'd be ready to tell you, and that time is now."
"I want to know all about it, about John and Marion!" Lauren said forcefully.
"And I'll tell you. But not now. It's two in the morning, and you need to be in bed!"
Lauren went to protest.
"No arguing! Enough talking for one night! We'll talk more tomorrow." Madeline looked to Bo to back her up.
"Your mom's right. Let's get some sleep."
With her mother's and Bo's arms around her waist, Lauren allowed them to lead her back upstairs.
Up on the landing, Madeline cupped Lauren's face in her hands, kissing her forehead. "Sleep now," she kissed Bo on the cheek, "Goodnight, Bo," then started towards her bedroom.
"Night." Bo said quietly.
"Mom?" Lauren called out. Madeline turned to look at her. "I love you."
Madeline showed the first signs of caving in, a slight stumble at Lauren's words. Bo held her breath watching her, not surprised, considering everything, at the sudden welt of emotion that had appeared. She willed her not to crumble, not now; but ready to catch her if she should.
"Love you, too, sweetie." Madeline's voice cracked slightly, but she managed to smile, then went quietly into her and Paddy's bedroom.
In their own room, Bo took off her shorts and laid down next to Lauren. "You should have stayed in bed." She gently admonished.
"I woke up and you weren't here."
"Sorry, but your mom offered coffee, and it sounded like a good idea." Bo quickly kissed Lauren's lips.
"That would be bourbon coffee from the smell of it?"
"Yeah, just minus the coffee."
"Did my mom get you drunk?"
"No," as Bo thought about it, and at how much they had in fact drunk, she smiled to herself. "No, I'm not drunk at all. But that was one of the best drinking sessions I've ever had." And she knew it was one she had been privileged to be a part of; one that she would never forget.
"Your mom's a remarkable woman."
Lauren just nodded.
Bo pulled Lauren to her, stroking her face. "I love you. So much."
Unlike her mother, and for no immediate reason Lauren could fathom, she crumbled at the words; Bo caught her, aware more than Lauren in that moment, that this was probably the reaction she should have had after her parents had told them everything.
Bo held her tightly through the sobs, until sleep finally claimed them both.
Bo edged herself away from sleep, entering consciousness disorientated. It took a few seconds to recognize where she was. She reached over to find Lauren, who once again, was gone. Swinging her legs quickly out of bed, she bolted out of the room, along the corridor to find the bathroom door open and empty.
Her sense of dread evaporated. Looking at her watch she saw it was 10am. Back in the bedroom she pulled on some jeans, and headed down stairs to the heart of the home.
She found Lauren sitting at the breakfast bar, eagerly eating breakfast, her mother cooking bacon and eggs, while her dad flipped pancakes.
"Morning sweetie, sleep well?" Lauren asked as Bo sat next to her. Lauren kissed her.
"Yeah," Bo said bemused. "How are you feeling?" she looked at the plate of food Lauren was devouring; pancakes, eggs, bacon, hash browns.
"I feel great!" Lauren forked in another mouthful.
"Would you like some, Bo?" Paddy asked, showing off his stack of pancakes as he placed them on the counter.
Madeline plated up some more eggs, bacon, and hash browns. A pot of coffee was also available, as well as orange juice.
"How long have you been up?" Bo asked.
"Oh, about an hour. God, I felt so hungry when I woke up, so I came down to start breakfast."
"That's her third plate." Madeline added.
Bo's head snapped up, as she looked at her. Madeline just raised her eyebrows.
Bo turned her attention back to Lauren. "Breakfast for you is normally grabbing a coffee as you rush out the door to get to the lab." She knew some of the reasons for that; begging Lauren to stay a while longer, "let's cuddle, just five more minutes," which could mean another hour, or lead to more than just cuddling.
"I know I wouldn't condone not having breakfast, it should be an important meal, probably the most important one of the day. Perhaps it's the sea air, but it's like I haven't eaten in years." Lauren forked in more food. "Everything tastes sooo good!" she said, her mouth full, drinking some orange juice.
"Your mom could eat like that after morning sickness, when she was pregnant with your brother!" Paddy innocently mentioned, as he poured syrup onto his pancakes.
Bo had just taken a sip of coffee that she proceeded to half spit out, and then choked on the rest.
"Okay sweetie?" Lauren asked, slapping her on the back.
Bo nodded, coughing, staring at her.
Lauren read her mind. "No, I'm not. Nice thought though," she leaned in closer to whisper. "I guess you wondered if we'd pulled off a miracle?"
It had crossed Bo's mind momentarily at Paddy's remark. Perhaps the energy sharing was having a side effect that Lauren had not considered, or that test results were not picking up. She dismissed the notion as quickly as it had arisen, although her stomach had flipped with excitement at the possibility; an image of Lauren pregnant, her belly swollen with their child had caused a visceral reaction that had surprised her; talking of having kids together hadn't produced the longing she now felt to have them.
"You don't eat breakfast yourself, Bo?" Paddy asked, pointing at the pancake she was picking at.
"Yeah, but I was thinking I'd go for a run first this morning, give you all a chance to talk."
"You don't need to." Lauren squeezed her hand, knowing that Bo wanted her to have some time with her parents.
"I know, but I need to work off the extra pounds I've probably put on with your mom's cooking!"
"Thank you." Lauren mouthed.
Bo left them to go and get changed. When she came back down, she found them now sitting in the lounge, looking at more photos.
Lauren glanced at her, before doing a double take. It was a usual reaction to seeing Bo in her running gear. The tight hugging shorts showed off toned thigh muscles, as well as a cute rear, while the running top gave a clear view of her midriff, her stomach flat, and defined. Her beautifully shaped arms, and her long dark hair tied back into a ponytail caused Lauren to salivate at the image.
Bo looked at her, figuring the doctor was mentally undressing her. She wagged her finger at Lauren, telling her off for doing so.
Lauren pouted, "Have a good run," knowing Bo would probably be gone for a good hour.
Outside on the porch Bo did some stretches to limber up; taking in a few deep breaths of the morning sea air, she set off down the driveway.
Lauren gently touched the photographs, a tangible sense that she could actually feel the people in them.
Patrick and Madeline had been allowed to take a few family photos with them all those years ago. They'd kept them secretly hidden away, where Lauren and Nathan had never managed to find them. They'd never had a reason to, believing, as their parents had told them, that some belongings had been lost in a fire before either of them were born.
Since hearing about them, John and Marion Lewis were just what she'd hoped they'd be, for her mother's sake. They looked to be a very loving, caring couple, sitting with Madeline between them, on the day her adoption was finalised. Her mother's smile beamed out from the picture, her joy obvious.
Patrick's parents looked oddly familiar; a tall man, almost ram rod straight, with a petite wife at his side. They also appeared to be a close family; Patrick's siblings sharing the same good fortune as himself, graced with beautiful features.
Lauren knew her paternal grandparents' names, William and Joan, but not the siblings.
"What are their names?" she asked.
Patrick pointed at his sister first. "Her pet name was Lottie, but that's Charlotte," then he picked out his brothers, "Ethan and Samuel, he's the youngest."
Lauren stilled for a moment, frozen.
"What is it sweetie?" Madeline asked.
Lauren swallowed, her mouth dry. "I thought if I ever had kids, then I liked Charlotte for a girl, Ethan for a boy," she laughed from shock, "sorry, Samuel," she added. "I guess we'd better include you in there somewhere!"
Patrick handed her some more photos to look at. "I assume you were also able to pass messages back to them?" Lauren asked. "So they knew about us growing up, me and Nathan?"
Patrick nodded. "We were able to let them know some details of our life."
"What happened after your father passed away? As head of the high family, who took over?"
"Ethan and Samuel. It's now their responsibility, and their children will carry it on, along with my sister and hers."
"So I have cousins, too?" Lauren pondered over it. "Would it be possible to meet them?"
Patrick thought it over for a moment. "I've no doubt they would love to meet you!"
"But I guess Nathan can't, can he?" Lauren blinked painfully.
"It's not beyond possibility, but with his own life settled now, it might be too much for him to understand."
Lauren nodded. "I should go see him anyway." She also hadn't seen him since leaving for the Congo. Despite the four year age gap, they had been close and she had missed her sibling these last few years. They had always been supportive of one another, Lauren helping him with studies, and his protective nature towards her always on hand. He'd grown tall, like Paddy, and if any young guys tried to hassle her, they soon backed off with Nathan standing by her side.
"Does he have anyone in his life?" Lauren asked.
"Yes," Madeline smiled. "He's finally found Miss Right. I wouldn't be surprised if they make it official soon."
Lauren smiled, happy to hear it. She looked at her father. "Can you get a message to the family? Arrange a meeting so we can go and visit them soon? I need to thank them."
Patrick took her hand. "Of course."
She knew that he was aware of how much it would mean to her, not just to pass on her gratitude, but to get to know an extended family, more aware of her existence than she was of theirs. These last few years, her 'family' had been the Fae and those around them; Bo, Kenzi, Trick, Dyson, Hale, Tamsin. She had them to thank for her sanity, more so since Bo had arrived on the scene, her influence ensuring that Lauren wasn't viewed as something disposable by the Fae world. As to Bo herself, Lauren knew it wasn't just her sanity she had saved; she had allowed her to feel love again, and to be loved, something that she'd had to bury away inside.
She knew with Bo at her side, anything was possible.
Bo kept her strides long and rhythmic, a steady speed. She knew with long distance running that the trick was to relax and not really think about it. Once she did that, her breathing matched, oxygen feeding muscle tissue to stop them tightening up. If the body liked anything, it was routine; it's functioning could continue, as long as any disruption had its own form of control.
She liked to run, it helped sometimes to curb her succubus urges, keep them satisfied by pushing her body to seek pleasure by other means, even if that meant muscle resistance at being forced to work hard. Like most people, pain wasn't anything she enjoyed or sought, when faced with the possibility of it, but when it was the result of a workout, she found the benefits enjoyable. She could feel her body getting pumped, blood forcing its way around; the heat her muscles generated, a sense of excitement, all similar to another form of exercise she enjoyed. Plus, this was a better way of dealing with her succubus nature rather than tame it with the injections Lauren had formulated but had concluded some time ago, were not the answer. It made more sense to allow Bo to 'feel' what she needed to, rather than try to banish it.
The other thing she enjoyed about running was while her body concentrated itself on the activity, her mind had the luxury to think. Time and distance could easily be forgotten when the mind was occupied. And most of her thoughts concerned a certain blonde haired doctor. The recent revelations, events, and even the previous trials of their 'messy' relationship, had all been worth it as far as Bo was concerned. She had known that any involvement with Dyson or Tamsin, couldn't match what she felt for Lauren, and that she'd pretty much known that from the minute they'd met. Dyson may have helped her to be able to love, physically, without harm, but Lauren had been the one to help her love with her heart. Bo knew that no matter what the future held for them both, she was in it for the long haul.
She noticed that she had come back around to the road, seeing the house further up the street. As she neared it, she took it up a notch, breaking into a sprint run, pushing hard, her muscles screaming, as she raced up the drive to the porch. She bent over, panting heavily, her legs wobbly, catching her breath. She moved to the porch rail, leaning on it for support, stretching out her back, and legs.
She spotted the small pitcher of water on the porch table, slices of lemon and lime floating with the ice, and knew Lauren would have added a pinch of salt and some honey, to help replenish fluid and give her a boost of electrolytes.
Smiling, she grabbed it, and chugged down a couple of mouthfuls, some of it spilling out from her mouth. She wiped it away with the back of her hand, "God, I love being in love with a doctor," she said out loud to herself, before sipping the rest of it, the taste stimulating and refreshing.
The porch door opened, Lauren stepping outside. "Enjoy your run?" she asked.
"Yeah!" Bo said, still out of breath. "I feel good."
"You look it." Lauren noticed the glow to her cheeks, could see her muscles straining from the effort. She pulled Bo to her. "It's certainly enhancing all your attributes, and they weren't bad to start with!"
Bo laughed. "Is that medical speak for saying I look fit, Doc?"
"Well, right now, this bod is all sweaty, so I'll go take a shower." Bo quickly kissed Lauren's lips. "Thanks for the drink."
"Okay." Lauren smiled after her, as Bo headed inside.
Bo stood in the shower, arms outstretched before her, hands splayed against the tile. She felt the hot water hitting her shoulders, causing her skin to tingle before it cascaded down her back and legs. It didn't take long for steam and condensation to build up.
She closed her eyes, turning her face up to the shower head, her mouth filling with water, before she let it dribble out down her chin. She heard the familiar sound of a song being played in the bathroom, the volume as high as the I-phone could play it. Bo smiled. Animal Feelings' "Chemical Love" had become a favourite since they'd discovered it, and it was the main theme played when they made love. Lauren loved it, as it was a sensual beat, not too slow, not too fast; a pace that Bo could stick to, stopping her from rushing ahead; it was also set to repeat. When Kenzi had first heard it she had remarked. "Oh my God, that's what sex sounds like! Hale needs to hear this!" and had proceeded to immediately download it to her own phone.
"Need your back scrubbed?" Lauren asked seductively as she stepped up behind Bo.
"That would be ni " Bo didn't get to finish, as Lauren's hands went directly to the front of her body.
"That's not my back."
"Then you need to turn around." Lauren bit into the top of Bo's shoulder. While one of her hands caressed Bo's breast, the other slid down past her stomach.
As much as Bo had tried to resist Lauren the previous night, she knew this would be pointless in doing so. Her body was still on a high from the run. She also knew Lauren was very aware of the physiological effects that running caused; increased heart rate, endorphin rush; muscles tight, tendons stretched; all that pent up energy needed an outlet for release.
"What's gotten into you?" Bo half moaned, as Lauren started to slowly grind her hips against her.
"Nothing yet, but hopefully you will be soon."
"I thought last night was " Bo's voice hitched in her throat, as Lauren stroked her. "Special," she managed to say. "You need to eat breakfast more often!"
"Hmmm," Lauren murmured. "I'm still hungry, how about you?"
Bo reached behind, pulling Lauren's face to her, crushing her mouth to hers.
"Babe, this is too dangerous."
"Cos it's hot, wet and slippery in here."
Now it was Lauren's turn to moan. "That's way too many double entendres for me to play with."
Bo turned around. "So I guess this will be a health and safety study?" She guided Lauren back against the tiled wall, kneeling before her, hastily hooking one of Lauren's legs over her shoulder.
"Bo?" Lauren realized that maybe she should have let Bo cool off for a minute or two longer. She couldn't support herself against the wet tile; her body sliding, unable to grab onto anything.
Her eyes glowing blue, Bo told her, "You started this, so I think you'll find a way to cope," before her mouth took Lauren's breath away.
Gripping Bo's head proved to be Lauren's only option to stay upright.
After showering, Lauren had shown Bo all the old family photos, explaining who was who and how she hoped to meet them.
Noticing the weather outside, Lauren suggested they go for a walk to enjoy the sun and fresh air together. They went in search of her parents, finding Madeline in the kitchen reading a recipe book.
"Hey mom, are there any good trail walks?"
Madeline nodded. "If you go out the back yard, past your dad's workshop, there's a wooded area. Walk through that and there'll be a small fence leading onto one of the trails." She slid off the stool. "You want me to pack you a picnic?"
"No, we'll just take some fruit." Lauren chose some from the fruit bowl. "Where's dad?" she asked.
Madeline rooted around in a cupboard, finding a bag to put the fruit in, handing it to Lauren. "Out in the yard, digging up an old tree stump he's of a mind to carve something out of."
Patrick came bounding through the kitchen door. His face was a little red from exertion, beads of sweat trickling down the sides of his face. He was wearing shorts, and was shirtless, his body also perspiring.
Bo noticed his physique, knowing guys half his age would kill for muscle definition like his.
"Today's the day, Maddie, today's the day! I just know it!" He exclaimed. "That stump is finally coming out of the ground!"
Madeline looked at Bo and Lauren. "He's been saying that every week for the last three years." She filled a glass with water, handing it to him.
Bo watched her, noticing a momentary shiver run through her body. Bo silently mouthed "wow", at the realisation that Madeline's reaction to Paddy was desire. Her eyes raked slowly over her husband's body as he stood there downing the drink. Bo couldn't help the large smile spreading across her face. After all these years, not only did they still love each other, they were both still in love. She wondered at a future life like that with Lauren; waking up everyday next to someone you couldn't imagine life without.
"Three years?" Lauren asked. "Wouldn't it be easier to hire a mini digger?"
Patrick wasn't looking at her when he answered. He was gazing at Madeline. "Now where would the challenge be in that?" he smiled. "Thanks darlin'." He referred to the glass of water; leaning down, he kissed his wife lightly on the lips.
Madeline's hand instinctively went to his chest, over his heart, her fingers brushing through the hair on his chest.
"Okay," Patrick said, "back to it," flexing his muscles like a body builder, "here I come, Mr. Stumpy!" and he bounded out of the door again.
"I don't have the heart to tell him, that I think Mr. Stumpy still has the upper hand for now." Madeline smiled. "Anyway, you two go out and enjoy the air and the views."
As Bo and Lauren stepped out of the kitchen door, Madeline gave Lauren a message for her father.
They found him leaning on a shovel, staring at the tree stump, catching his breath. Various other tools he was using to get the stump out of the ground lay nearby.
"Mom said she needs your help." Lauren told him.
"Oh?" Patrick looked back towards the house. "That'll be something she can't reach on a top shelf somewhere!" he smiled. "You gonna go walking?"
Lauren nodded. "Mom told us there's a trail through the woods here."
"Yeah, it'll lead all the way to the mountain trails. That's a bit too far for this time of day now, but you should get a good vantage point after about an hour, around that area," he pointed out a spot to them. "Great views out over the ocean."
"I better go see what your mom needs." He dropped the shovel and headed towards the house again.
Lauren was setting an incredible pace; even Bo was surprised, she'd already had one cardio workout with her run earlier, another 'workout' in the shower, and now a third one appeared to be in the cards. Lauren wasn't even breaking a sweat, although she was.
"You in a hurry to get somewhere?" Bo joked.
"Maybe. Just a little bit further, and then we'll take a bit of a rest." Lauren said in-between a mouthful of banana, the rest of which she gave to Bo. "Dad was right, the view is incredible!"
Bo couldn't dispute that. The higher the trail went, the better the vista. The mountains towered away in the distance, while the view out to sea seemed to go on forever, the horizon blending with the sky.
Lauren veered off the trail over to a large tree, its branches and leaves offering shade.
Bo stood beside her. "Wow, that's some view."
"It sure is!"
Bo recognized the tone and the look on Lauren's face and knew she wasn't referring to the same thing as herself. Before she knew it, Lauren was kissing her fervently.
"Whoa, tiger!" Bo held Lauren back, moving away to put distance between them.
Lauren sprung at her again.
"Babe!" Bo tried to speak between kisses, stilling Lauren's hands as they wrestled her shirt out from her pants. "We're on a trail! People could be ."
"We haven't seen anybody for an hour!" Lauren hastily answered. She pushed Bo's hands away, eager to get back to her shirt.
"Wait! This is crazy!" Bo protested.
"C'mon, it's not like you to be shy. You lost your succubus appetite?" Lauren wiggled her eyebrows. "It's one of the many things I love about you knowing we're never likely to suffer lesbian bed death!"
"Are you for fricking real?" Bo exclaimed.
"Sweetie, what is it?" Lauren finally stopped, stepping back, concerned at Bo's lack of enthusiasm. "You seemed okay last night, with mom and dad just down the hall. Is doing it outside causing anxiety? It's not like this is the first time for either of us."
"This isn't you .I mean, of course it's you, but you know this isn't right, right? Something's wrong." Bo said.
"Yeah, I know something's abnormal, everything is so heightened; my sense of sight, smell, taste. At breakfast this morning, it was like I could actually taste the chicken the eggs came from! My heart rate is a little faster than it should be, so cortisone levels are high, but my BP seems okay .normal hormones are off the charts, like zooom! Nerve synapses are full of serotonin and epithelial tissue is hypersensitive so I just know if you touch me I'll explode! It's a euphoric state, probably due to a delayed anxietal reaction over the incident with Hades. It's like I'm rushing headlong towards something, but I just don't know what, if I could run tests I might be able to isolate it I wonder if dad still has my old chemistry set?...anyway, I just want to celebrate life. Look at this view, look where we are life's too short to miss an opportunity like this, and as someone once told me, you can never make up for the times when you didn't. I know you're feeling the same .you're part excited, part confused, but hey, that's okay I don't normally act this freaky, well, apart from when I am acting freaky but all I know is right now, you're standing there looking so damn cute and all I wanna do is carry out a thorough examination!"
Bo stared at Lauren for a moment to make sure she'd finished. She'd said it all without taking a breath. Bo also wasn't sure if it had been an explanation or a science lesson, as she'd tried to understand the medical terminology littered throughout the rabid speech, but as Lauren hadn't mentioned 'cultures' or her 'medulla oblongata', Bo settled for the former.
"You done with the verbal diarrhea, Doc?"
Lauren nodded excitedly.
"You know I wouldn't normally say no, but "
Lauren interrupted. "Then don't start now!"
Bo continued. "I just wanna make sure this is really what you want."
"Yes!" Lauren answered quickly.
"We're in an open public space, where people could pass by at anytime, and you want us to have sex? I mean, we could be arrested if we're caught and you're okay with taking that risk?"
"You're talking too much!" Lauren moved, standing right in front of her.
Bo wasn't sure why she found herself thinking this was a good idea, except that a large part of the attraction was Lauren herself, she exuded something evocative; not that she normally didn't but this was strangely appealing. And despite not really understanding Lauren's geeky medical monologues at the best of times, Bo did find them somewhat arousing. Lauren's intellect in such matters pushed a 'hot' stimulus button in Bo's succubus genes.
"You sure you feel safe, out here, with me?"
"You know I trust you."
"So if I lose control, you're not suddenly gonna call the police for help?"
"No well not unless I think you need it!" Lauren grinned.
And there it was, that Lewis smile. Part awkward, part semi-apologetic, part playful. Once it came into play, Bo knew there was no resisting.
Funny, smart, and sexy. She concluded, falling more in love with Lauren than she thought possible.
Bo's muscles ached; even Lauren winced as she redressed herself, picking up their discarded clothes. Bo could feel her back was scratched, not just from Lauren, but from twigs and tree bark that had been ground into her skin. Vigourous didn't seem an adequate word to describe it, but she was sure the mountains had trembled a little, as well as echoing out their cries. Fortunately, they seemed to be the only witness to it. No one had passed by, or rather, Bo had not been aware that anyone had.
The hike back was more leisurely than the outward journey.
As they walked across the rear lawn, holding hands, they saw Madeline and Patrick sitting on the swing seat on the porch, their fingers lazily entwined.
Bo picked up on their aura's straight away. Outwardly, no one would have known; no obvious sign; just a couple sitting there, enjoying the view. Only Bo did know, she could see their colours, so deep and warm, and was aware that she and Lauren hadn't been the only ones to have taken an opportunity to make out. Bo was in complete awe of them both.
"So how's Mr. Stumpy?" Lauren asked.
Lauren's timing was priceless. Bo looked down at the ground, keeping her mouth shut, stifling the bawdy laugh that threatened to erupt.
"Still stubborn," Patrick said. "Maybe next week."
"You two work up an appetite on your walk?" Madeline asked.
"Yeah, pretty much." Lauren glanced at Bo.
Bo was thankful that nobody seemed to understand the double meanings taking place.
"You want to eat now?" Madeline stood up.
"Stay there!" Lauren pointed at the seat. "We'll cook for you both."
Madeline held up her hands in mock surrender. "Okay."
Lauren pulled Bo with her towards the door, when Madeline gently grabbed her arm. She reached up. "I don't think you need these little twigs in your hair." she plucked them out.
"How did they get there?" Lauren feigned shock, before escaping into the kitchen.
One thing Lauren knew she could rely on was a well stocked kitchen; her mother had always ensured a variety of ingredients were on hand.
Taking some steaks from the fridge, she seasoned and drizzled oil over them, leaving them to one side. Next she gathered salad items; lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, raw mushrooms, broccoli, avocado, and anything else she considered salad worthy. Bo knew that when Lauren made a salad it was usually a meal in itself and contained as many super-foods as possible. Bo's task was to then chop, slice and dice, while Lauren fixed a homemade blue cheese dressing. With that done, she then grilled the steaks, timing them to the exact second for medium rare, setting them to rest, allowing the juices to keep the meat succulent.
Tossing the salad in a bowl, Lauren cut the steak into strips and added them, giving a piece for Bo to try.
"Good job!" Bo smiled, high fiving Lauren's hand.
The venue for eating was the front porch, a warm late afternoon bordering on early evening ambience that made the meal all the more enjoyable, along with the red wine to help consume it.
Remaining outside, the chat consisted mostly of family memories; Patrick and Madeline happy to retell stories from Lauren's childhood, her mother injecting her dry wit and causing moments of hilarity. Lauren herself recalled antics of high school and as a medical student at which Bo found herself crying with laughter; so much so her sides ached.
Lauren glowed, smiling and laughing, and Bo didn't think she'd ever seen her this relaxed. There was something calming about her inwardly, and she wasn't sure Lauren was aware of it herself.
At Madeline's suggestion of coffee, Lauren volunteered to help her make it.
Bo and Patrick sat, watching the sun start to slowly sink down towards the horizon. She heard him sigh, happily.
"Enjoying it here, Bo?" he asked.
"Absolutely! It's awesome! Perfect!"
He nodded. "Perfect." He repeated quietly.
They continued gazing out at the ocean, and Bo knew they didn't need to say anymore. Perfect just about summed it up. It didn't get any better than this; nothing could ruin this.
But then something did.
"Paddy!" Madeline screamed from the kitchen.
It only took a tenth of a second, as Bo and Paddy looked at each other, before they both lurched out of their seats. Bo beat him inside the house, and he was right behind her as they raced to the kitchen.
Madeline was kneeling, crouching over Lauren, trying to push the stools out of the way, as Lauren lay among them, convulsing violently on the floor. Paddy grabbed them, flinging the chairs away.
"One minute she was sitting there, then she just went down!" Madeline said, panic evident in her voice.
Blood started to flow from Lauren's nose, as she thrashed about on the floor.
Bo stood watching, horrified, unable to move. "No, no, no." She murmured. Lauren's eyes were glazed, vacant, rolling back and forth. Bo looked from Paddy to Madeline.
"She's having a seizure," Madeline said. "We mustn't hold her down, but we need to keep her comfortable. Has she ever had one before, Bo?"
Bo shook her head.
Madeline beckoned her to come forward. "Try holding her hand, it might help, she might know it's you, talk to her."
Madeline's words suddenly galvanized Bo, releasing her from the paralysis of seeing Lauren this way. She needs you! She knelt down beside her.
"Paddy, get some cushions we can put around her!" Madeline ordered. He immediately ran to the lounge.
Lauren's body arched upwards, then slammed down, her head smacking against the floor.
"Shit!" Bo hissed. "Lauren? Can you hear me?" she hovered over Lauren's body, careful not to restrain her, but ensuring that Lauren's violent convulsions would impact more against her, and not cause Lauren anymore harm.
Paddy placed the cushions around them.
Blood was running over Lauren's mouth, down her chin, to her neck, it was being spattered over the floor from her movements, and it started to look like a crime scene.
"Come on baby, come through it!" Bo urged her. Her mind reeled, thinking back eight weeks ago; she couldn't face this again. This couldn't be happening again surely, the consequences of that were over? But what if it wasn't, what if there was still a price to pay?
Froth started to appear from Lauren's mouth, a gurgling strangling sound, turning pink from the blood from her nose.
"No!" Bo yelled. "Call an ambulance!" she looked at Madeline.
Madeline stood up, stricken with fear. "Paddy?" she reached out for him.
Bo grabbed Lauren's head, holding it still. "Come on, take it this time!" she passed her energy to her, and for a moment Lauren appeared to absorb it, before she then rejected it.
"Goddammit, don't do this!"
Lauren's body arched upwards again, as though possessed, thrashing and shaking, then she stopped, and so did the gurgling. She exhaled a long breath, and her body stilled; her eyes open and lifeless, staring off to nowhere.
"No, not again, please, not again!" Bo looked at her. "Wake up!"
This wasn't going to happen again, Bo wouldn't let it, not after Valhalla. She knew there was only one possible option. If it worked, Lauren would probably never forgive her, but she was left with no choice; Lauren's survival would also be her own. Without her, the struggle wouldn't be worth it. Her emotion over Lauren lying on the floor, stilled by death, started to bubble within her like hot lava. That side of her that she kept tamed more than any other part of her nature; that side of her inherited from her father, the side she feared more than anything. She knew its power; she had used it before, to save both Lauren and Dyson. And as much as she hated it, she needed it now, knowing that if she couldn't control it, she would cross over to a darker side of herself, lost to all of those that knew her. There was only one person that could bring her back, who had always been her salvation. If she could save Lauren then Lauren would save her.
Bo turned to look at Paddy and Madeline. "I'm sorry!" She stood up, and started to draw on that dark side of herself. "But I can't lose her, and I don't have enough energy! I need yours." Her eyes turned blue, ready to drain every inch of their life forces.
"Bo," Paddy said quietly. "It won't work, trust me," he held Madeline's hand. "But trust what you know," he looked at his wife. "Ready?" She simply nodded.
His calmness, faced with her imminent threat disarmed Bo, halting her destructive step. She watched them just stand there, wondering at how they could be so resigned to the fact that their daughter, was lying dead on the floor. Then both of them inhaled sharply, closing their eyes, rocking backwards, as though an unknown force had hit them. It appeared they physically changed, although they looked the same.
Paddy opened his eyes first, looked at Bo, smiled, then looked down at Lauren. Madeline went straight to her, gently stroking Lauren's face. Paddy joined her, placing his hands on her head and heart.
"Live, daughter." Paddy said, but it wasn't his voice.
"Come back to us, my child." Madeline added, but again, it didn't sound like Madeline. The whole time, both of them gently touched Lauren.
Paddy kissed her forehead. "Breathe now."
Suddenly Lauren breathed, a breath that sounded like shock, from the sensation of surfacing after plunging into freezing water. She gasped, huge great gulps of air.
"Oh my God!" Bo mumbled; her legs weakened, and she sank down, her knees hitting the floor. She fought the urge to throw up, as relief surged through her body, rapidly followed by emotion; she began to cry.
Madeline touched her arm, and Bo felt a power from it; warm, strong. The emotional pain she felt over what was happening, dissipated, soothed away. Realisation started to sink in. The Soother of Pain; Bo had just assumed that it meant physical pain, but it seemed her abilities weren't that limited.
"Epione?" Bo asked.
Madeline nodded. Bo now looked at Paddy. "Asclepius?" He just smiled, urging Bo to take hold of Lauren, as she started to come round. She sat, cradling Lauren in her lap.
Lauren's eyes started to focus, and her body's reaction was flight; she started to fight her way back to reality.
Bo tightened her hold. "Hey, it's okay! You're safe! It's me, it's Bo!"
Lauren's breathing was ragged, her eyes settling on the person speaking to her. Unlike before when this happened, finding herself surrounded by unfamiliar faces, the sight of Bo's face was a relief.
"Bo?" Lauren asked.
"Yeah," Bo smiled at her. "You're okay." She assured her.
"What happened?" Lauren's voice was hoarse.
"You left us for a minute, but you came back."
Lauren frowned, looking confused. She noticed the blood on the floor, touching her face, her fingers confirming where it had come from.
"I was sitting, talking to mom. Did I pass out again?"
Bo hesitated. "Kinda." She looked at Paddy and Madeline, not sure if she should tell Lauren the truth.
Lauren looked at her parents too, her expression changing with recognition. "You're not them you're them aren't you?"
"How can you tell?" Bo asked.
"I don't know I just know."
Paddy proceeded to lift Lauren from Bo's lap, carrying her easily to the sitting room. Bo followed, grabbing a kitchen towel.
As Lauren sat, Bo knelt before her, cleaning up her face.
"Where did I go?" Lauren asked. "You said I left."
Bo avoided looking at her, until Lauren grabbed her hand. "Tell me!" Lauren pressed.
Bo looked directly at her. "You had another attack. This time it was real bad .we lost you it killed you." Her voice broke up.
"Then how come I'm here?"
Bo looked at her parents. "I think they can explain that one."
Lauren turned her attention to them, waiting. Madeline moved to sit beside her on the couch.
"It was necessary." She started to say.
"Whoa!" Lauren jumped with shock at hearing Epione's voice coming from her mother. "Where is she?" she asked.
"She is still here, she is able to see and hear everything. No harm is being done."
"How do I know that?" Lauren asked.
Asclepius spoke through Patrick. "We have used them as vessels before."
"Before?" Lauren felt more alarmed.
"Before you were born, we had to make sure they were strong enough."
"Patrick said they were tested." Bo remembered his comment from the conversation of the night before. "That's what he meant!"
Epione nodded. "And there were times after; they would allow us to visit."
"For what reason?" Lauren asked.
Epione reached out to touch her face. "To watch you sleeping, when you were a baby; to be able to hold you in our arms." Her voice conveyed a mixture of joy and sadness.
Lauren's mouth fell open.
"We are so grateful to them," Epione held Lauren's hand. "For the love and care they have given you. You are their daughter, but it was our privilege that they included us in certain moments; seeing you walk, hearing your first words. All precious to us, as it was for them."
"Until you began to recognize when it was us and not them," Asclepius smiled. "You started to speak of the 'other people' watching you when you slept. And we could no longer take the chance as you were becoming too observant. Your brother had been born by then, so we decided that such visits would need to stop."
"I vaguely remember now." Lauren said, as images flashed through her memory, her parents standing by her bed late at night, just watching her, not speaking. "So, you're here now, because I died? I thought Zeus' part of the bargain was my lifeline would be matched with Bo's, so what went wrong?"
"Your bargain with Zeus? I was so proud of you," Epione stated. "To offer up what you had, to save one man, and ultimately to do it for love but you see, your gift cannot be bargained away. We hoped that maybe it could be so; you were so passionate about the life you wanted to live, but Zeus' power is no match. As much as he is part of your blood, you are also the granddaughter of Osiris and Isis. That bloodline from me is the stronger inheritance. And that's why you have been ill, why it's been getting worse. You had already ascended to your true self, and in rejecting that, your body could not survive. It needs to be who you truly are; You need to be who you truly are. It's your purpose."
"Wait," Bo said. "So you're saying that not only have you brought Lauren back, but she has regained the power she willingly gave up?"
"Yes." Asclepius simply answered.
"What?" Lauren gasped. She turned to Bo, looking for help.
"It's okay, don't freak out." Bo grabbed her hands, seeing the fear on her face. "Breathe, okay?" she felt Lauren squeeze her fingers, hanging onto her, keeping herself grounded.
"There is nothing to be afraid of," Epione assured her. "You will need to learn how to use the gift you have."
"Won't Zeus be pissed about this? He didn't exactly like the fact you had the same ability!" Bo challenged Asclepius. "If he's gonna come after Lauren, I won't hesitate to kill him if I can!" she knew the odds were against her, but she'd willingly die trying to save Lauren.
"Zeus' hand was forced at that time with me; Hades demanded it. Now he is dead, Zeus knows that to kill another God would bring a retribution he doesn't want. The other Gods would not allow it, and he is aware that it's time for change. He won't seek punishment for the gift Lauren has. How can he, when he himself has presided over life and death? And she is also his great granddaughter; a part of his legacy will be carried on into future generations. I know my own grandfather's ego!"
Lauren looked at Asclepius as he spoke. "If I need to learn to use it, how was I able to heal Hale so fast?"
"The bargain you struck, your promise that it would only happen that one time? As soon as you touched him, the power transferred to give him life. But now, like any healer, you must learn to master it, control it."
"We can help to guide you." Epione added.
"It's not a natural thing to do!" Lauren said desperately. She put her head in her hands. "It's too much." She mumbled.
"We must leave you now." Asclepius put his hand on her shoulder. "But we will always be here. Patrick and Madeline know how to call us to visit."
Lauren looked at him, and then Epione, her expression soft, understanding.
Epione pulled Lauren to her. "I'm sorry this is not what you wanted. But too many people would suffer if you were lost to them." She whispered, before kissing her forehead.
Epione stood up from the sofa, clasping her hand with Asclepius.
"Thank you!" Bo blurted out, realising what was about to happen.
"Wait!" Lauren said, but before she could thank them, Patrick and Madeline were released from the occupation of their bodies.
"They know you're grateful." Was the first thing Patrick said, reassuring Lauren.
"Are you both okay?" she asked.
"We're fine, sweetie." Madeline moved to sit next to her. "How are you feeling?" she was more concerned about Lauren.
"Considering I was recently dead, again, I feel extremely well. It's starting to become a habit!" Lauren said flippantly. "I guess you heard everything?"
"Yes. How do you feel about it?"
"What part? The fact my parents occasionally and voluntarily get possessed by Gods, or that I'm one, again!" Lauren ran her fingers through her hair.
"Laurie," Patrick said gently. "I know it's a lot to process, it's all you've been doing since you arrived, but you can deal with this. Compared to what you've dealt with these last few years, this is just another part of your life; it doesn't mean it has to take over."
"Your dad's right." Bo agreed.
Lauren sighed heavily. She turned her attention back to her parents. "Does that hurt?" she thought of Hale fighting against Hades, resisting his take-over of his body.
"Not at all," Madeline smiled. "It's very calming, comforting. We are aware of everything, but it's like being muted in the background."
Lauren hugged Madeline to her. "You two are just extraordinary, you know that right? Epione and Asclepius owe you so much."
"We got the better end of the deal." Patrick said.
"Now, as I remember, we were about to have coffee? You still want one?" Madeline asked Paddy, signaling to him that he go with her, not to make coffee, but to leave Lauren and Bo alone for a moment.
"I'll come help." Bo went to get up. Still in shock over what had happened, she suddenly thought of the state of the kitchen, not wanting them or Lauren to face it.
"We can manage." Madeline told her, as though aware of what Bo was thinking. "You two sit for a minute."
Bo watched them leave. "Are you okay?" she asked Lauren.
Lauren just nodded.
"That wasn't fun, seeing you like that, and then " Bo didn't finish. "I thought I'd lost you for good. Thank God your mom and dad were able to call them for help; I mean what if we hadn't been here? What if we had been at home?"
Lauren reached out, gently holding Bo's hands. "You're shaking?"
"Well it's not every day you standby helplessly, watching the person you love, die right in front of you. It's not something I ever wanna get used to, and you've made a habit of it just recently," Bo tried to joke. "This is the last time right? I can't go through that again." Her voice choked on the words, her eyes misting with tears.
"I'll try not to." Lauren reached out, gently touching Bo's face. "What's wrong? What else almost happened?"
Bo wiped at her eyes. "You don't wanna know." She wondered how Lauren could tell.
Lauren studied her for a moment. "You felt you had no choice; you'd have taken their energy?"
Bo closed her eyes. "I didn't know any other way, and if " she faltered. "If saving you, meant it killed them? Then yes, I would have done it. I'm sorry I was just so scared."
"No, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do this to you; all I do is put you in impossible situations!" Lauren sighed.
"What do you mean? None of this has been your fault. How could you know this would happen?" Bo asked.
"Maybe I should have known. There's always something. Our lives are not that simple, let's face it."
"No, they're not, but it doesn't mean we have to see everything as a complication."
Lauren half laughed. "I guess they're just a clichéd challenge?" It sounded dismissive of Bo's comment, and she could see that's what Bo thought. "I'm not thinking straight. Dad's right, it's been a lot to process; I'm tired."
"Come here." Bo sat on the sofa, getting Lauren to lay her head in her lap.
They were quiet for a moment, when Bo broke the silence. "I didn't know Gods could get tired."
Lauren snorted a small laugh. "I guess resurrection has a side effect." She felt Bo laugh, although her own humour of the moment quickly vanished.
As Bo stroked her hair, the feel of it helped to ease away the thoughts that were starting to plague her; she wasn't actually tired but rather than let them have free reign over peacefulness, Lauren subdued them for now, allowing herself to be lulled into sleep.
When Bo woke up, she was stiff from sitting upright on the couch and Lauren was absent from her lap. The living room lamps had been turned off, so she knew that Madeline and Paddy must have retired to bed themselves. There was a ruffled up blanket that she figured Madeline must have placed over Lauren. Squinting at her watch it was 1am.
The only light came from the study. Bo padded over to the room, finding Lauren sitting in one of the armchairs, her knees tucked up under her chin, reading a book. She spotted the bottle of bourbon, and the glassful that Lauren was sipping from.
"This is another habit you need to break, Doc. I'm starting to get a complex waking up and finding you're not there."
Bo bent her head to look at the title; Greek Mythology. There were other similar books on the same subject that Lauren had placed on the desk. "Couldn't sleep?" she asked.
Lauren shook her head. "You want some?" she reached for the glass, sipping from it, holding it out for Bo to take.
She took it, only taking a small sip, watching the doctor as she read. Lauren's brow was furrowed with concentration. The book looked well thumbed from use.
"Mom has had these books for years in her collection," Lauren spoke. "Both me and Nathan have read them, it even helped with some of our studies. I guess they would belong in most normal families' possessions with a passing interest in the subject. It's a little ironic, don't you think?"
"Why would it be? Your mom's a teacher. I'm sure the subject was of interest on an intellectual level. Why are you reading them again now?"
"I'm trying to see if I might have missed something!"
Bo sat in the other chair.
"But I guess that's not going to be the case, is it? We're both secrets from the world." Lauren said bitterly. "You must be tired, why don't you go on up to bed."
"You should know, you can't get rid of me that easily, so I'll just sit here, if that's okay. Not too keen on you being out of my sight right now."
Lauren managed to smile, before she went back to reading.
Bo reached for one of the books Lauren had selected. "The Iliad", an epic retelling of the Trojan War, appeared to be a compelling one to read, and Bo stuck with it as best she could, fighting with her eyes to stay open, until she dozed off.
She heard her name being spoken, gently making its way into her mind, helping her to wake up.
"Bo?" This time a soft squeeze of her arm. Her ears registered that it wasn't Lauren's voice. She managed to crack open her eyes, to see Madeline before her. Looking at the other chair, it was empty. Bo suddenly jerked awake.
"Where is she? Is she okay?" she started to scramble from the chair, getting tangled in the blanket that had been tucked around her.
"Lauren's fine." Madeline stopped her from bolting forward. "She's taking a shower. Would you like some breakfast?"
Bo flopped back into the chair with relief. "Breakfast would be great. I'll take a shower first."
Lauren was coming down the stairs, dressed, and her hair wet, when Bo made her way out of the living room. Bo smiled at her, kissing her lightly on the lips, surprised by the lack of response.
Lauren continued on into the kitchen and Bo stared after her for a moment, before heading up to the bathroom. Showering quickly, she found them all in the kitchen still, but nobody was speaking. She sat next to Lauren.
"Did you sleep?" Bo asked her.
"You should have woken me."
"You looked comfortable; I didn't want to disturb you."
Lauren's tone was flat.
"I wish you had," Bo smiled. "Fricking weird dream, I was Helen and you were Paris, and then it'd be the other way around."
Lauren attempted to smile, but didn't quite manage to.
Bo noticed she wasn't really eating the breakfast in front of her either, stabbing at the food with a fork, moving it around the plate. Bo reached for her other hand, but Lauren pulled away from the touch.
"I'm not really that hungry." Lauren mumbled. She got up, leaving the kitchen.
Madeline placed a plate of breakfast in front of Bo. "Has she said anything about last night?"
Madeline shook her head. "She's barely said two words since we came down."
"I think she's mulling things over." Paddy added, although he didn't sound too convinced.
Bo knew Lauren's way of mulling things over; it normally involved sudden outbursts of excited realization over something scientific, rushing to grab a pen, or talking it out loud. This behavior wasn't that; this was retreat.
Bo got up, smiling apologetically at Madeline for leaving her breakfast.
"Go talk to her, Bo." Madeline urged.
Bo found Lauren curled up in the corner of the sofa, her eyes closed, frowning deeply. She gently sat next to her, touching Lauren's arm.
Lauren recoiled. "Don't!" she said fiercely, opening her eyes.
"Don't think you can make this better." Lauren glared.
"What?" Bo was shocked. "You think I'm going to use my power?"
"It hadn't crossed your mind? You're wondering if it would help?" she sounded accusing.
"No, it hadn't crossed my mind. And yeah, I wanna help but I can only do that if you let me."
"Then don't waste your time." Lauren looked away staring at the floor, sullen, disinterested.
"Talk to me," Bo pleaded. "Tell me what's going on in that beautiful, smart brain of yours; don't shut me out, not after what we've been through."
Lauren huffed. "What's there to discuss? It won't change anything."
"Won't change what?"
Lauren just shook her head, staring at Bo in disbelief. "You seriously don't know?" she got up from the couch. "You witnessed what happened last night, right?"
"Yes," Bo said. "You were returned from death, and from the way you're reacting, you're not happy about it."
"Not happy about it?" Lauren flung her arms up in despair. "You're damn right there!"
"Then why aren't you?! Jesus, Lauren, you fricking died in my arms, again!" Bo stood up to her. "You'd rather I suffer that, than the fact you were saved?"
"No, of course not! You don't get it do you!" Lauren shouted. "Everything has changed. I've been changed." She beat her fist against her chest.
"So what? You're alive, that's all I care about!"
"You don't understand!" Lauren could sense Bo's frustration as well as her own. For all her intelligence, she was struggling to articulate how she felt.
"Then talk to me! Tell me why this is bothering you!"
"You know how I felt about the power I inherited! I don't believe it's right; it's not how things should be!"
"I know, but we'll cope, it's not the end of the world." Bo said.
"No it's not, but this wasn't my choice! I made my decision eight weeks ago. It's like being enslaved again being supplicated like I was to the Fae, but this time it's worse .because I can't escape from this ever!"
Lauren stormed from the lounge.
"Lauren, wait " Bo said, but it was too late. She heard the front door yanked open and then slammed shut. Dejectedly, she made her way to the kitchen.
Madeline gave her a small smile, placing a reassuring hand on her arm. "You know she's not angry with you, right?"
Bo nodded. "She's not angry. I'm normally the one who gets all moody and pissy. She's scared. She's spent the last few years being that way amongst the Fae, until she found the courage not to be. I'm trying to get her to see it's okay to be afraid again, but we'll work it out. I don't think I'm saying the right thing or what she wants to hear right now."
Madeline looked at Paddy, while still talking to Bo. "Maybe it will help, if her dad tries? She'd always listen to him," she suggested. "He tends to know what needs to be said."
Paddy stood up from the counter stool, kissing his wife on the forehead. "I'll try." He winked at Bo, and headed outside.
Lauren stood hugging her body, looking out to sea, although she wasn't actually seeing anything. She tried to calm the anger she felt, the sense of unfairness that her life couldn't be the one she wanted. She felt like screaming her wrath until her throat was raw from the effort; she wanted to lash out, hit something, kick something, hard, but even the thought of harming the porch railing made her feel guilty; the irony of not being able to hurt something inanimate made her emotional anger teeter towards tearfulness.
She heard Patrick come out onto the porch. "This isn't what I wanted! It's not my choice!" she said angrily.
"No, it's not. But it's what you have, and it's how you find a way to deal with it that matters. You can either stay angry over it, or look at it from another perspective."
"How did you cope? Having your life change completely, having no control?"
Patrick took a deep breath. "I was lucky .I realized before it was too late, before I did something stupid."
"There was a time, when I was ready to walk. I was thirty with two kids and a job that paid well, and would give me opportunities to progress up the corporate ladder, into higher earnings. I was good at what I did. My ideal job was to be a carpenter, have my own business. For some reason I got it into my head, that life was passing me by, that this really wasn't my choice, to take on this responsibility. I felt trapped, like you do right now."
Patrick leant against the porch railing, looking out to the sea. "You probably remember I was sometimes away on business trips, or conferences. Nights spent in strange hotel rooms a long way from home. For a man in his thirties, looking to "escape', that could lead to possible options. Drink alone in the bar, or find company to drink with."
He turned to look at Lauren. "I'd only ever known your mom, never had any reason or need to know anybody else. But there was one time "
"Dad, I don't need to hear this." Lauren shifted uneasily. She wasn't ready for the possible confession he was about to make. This was a man she had idolized, the perfect father, realised even more so since recent events. She didn't want that image sullied, by him admitting to some past indiscretion; her own didn't matter, she knew her faults, but she'd never considered he'd had any.
"Yes you do! It's nothing your mom doesn't already know."
Lauren stared back at him, stunned but not surprised. She knew her parents' relationship to be an open and honest one.
"I sat at a hotel bar one night, and this woman sat next to me. She was also on some kind of company business trip. The conversation was light and easy. I noticed the ring on her finger and she'd noticed mine, but we didn't speak about husbands or wives or families. But we knew we were both looking for the same thing; a chance to leave reality behind."
Patrick clenched the railing as he continued talking. "I found myself in her room. I don't think she actually invited me, we just ended up there; I couldn't even remember how I got there from the bar. She went to the bathroom to 'freshen up' first, so I just stood there. I spotted the phone by the bed, no real cell phones in those days, and for some unknown reason, I called home. I don't know if I was seeking permission or forgiveness, but your mom knew." There was anguish in his eyes still, as he spoke. "She just said hi, and that whatever decision I made, there was always a home waiting for me; she'd always be there. I hadn't even said a thing, but I think she'd sensed I'd been struggling. I put the phone down and left that room. Nothing happened and do you know why nothing happened?"
Lauren couldn't answer; a part of her was so relieved at his admission. She could tell it still tore him up to remember it. She just shook her head.
"Because I realized it wasn't about me, or what I wanted. I hadn't been forced to give up anything, or the life I wanted. Because I already had the life I needed! There was only one reason Epione and Asclepius had picked that time, had decided on me .they'd chosen me, because of the young woman I'd fallen in love with. She was their only reason. She had a whole life ahead of her, too, but because she loved me, she was willing to stand by me, and live this life, together. No questions asked. In all these years, your mother has never once complained about making that choice. She could have walked away, but she chose me. And I thank the Gods everyday that she did. I'm the luckiest man I know. I look at my family and at times it's hard to believe I have what I have; your mom, you and your brother."
He gently grabbed Lauren by the shoulders. "I'm sorry Laurie, but it's not all about you or your choices, or what you want either. There's someone else that doesn't have a choice in all this, who probably doesn't want this life, who would change it all for you if she could to make you happy, but she's willing to do whatever she has to, to ensure that anyway. She'll stand by you, defend you, protect you, and I've no doubt if it goes to your head, and you get too big for your britches, she won't hesitate to put you back in your place. That's how much she loves you; because she's chosen you."
Lauren fell against her father's chest, finding comfort there. It was something she'd done many times as a child; she felt safe, protected, hearing his heartbeat, feeling his strength and love.
"You don't have any regrets?" she asked him, quickly wiping her tears from her cheeks.
"None, only that I almost made a mistake. How can I have regrets, when I have what I have? But you're missing a vital point. You've been given an extraordinary gift, and as much as you don't want it, are scared of it, it's what you were meant for! It's not just about being able to return a life, it's being able to give life. Don't you realize what that means?"
He gently held her hands. "You know what I see now, when I look at your hands? I see my grandchildren. The enormity of the life you can produce, once you master how to, is just the most precious gift of all. And I know you and Bo will be exceptional parents."
Lauren wanted to speak, but she was too emotional to do so.
"I've given Bo my permission." Paddy smiled.
It took a moment for Lauren to realise what he meant. "What? When did she ask?"
"I suppose she knew, from someone else's advice, that chess, strategically, would be an opportune moment. But then she doesn't always follow other people's advice does she?"
"No." Lauren smiled.
"That's what I like about her. But she does know when to pick a moment. Driving that car at one hundred and twenty on the coast road, proved to be mine, it was so exhilarating, exciting and she knew I couldn't say no!"
Lauren's hand went to her mouth, as she laughed.
"She's a smart cookie."
Lauren nodded. "I love you, dad."
"I know you do, and you know you don't have to say it. Your mom and I both feel it."
"There's someone else who knows how I feel, but I guess I should go tell her anyway."
"Yep, you should; go on back in there."
"Thanks, dad." Lauren kissed his cheek.
"By the way," Paddy added "Well done, kiddo. She's also stunning!"
Lauren smiled and headed quickly back into the house. Bo was sitting at the breakfast bar, nursing a cup of coffee.
Madeline spotted Lauren standing there, clearing her throat, alerting Bo.
Bo looked up, seeing Madeline smile, and followed her gaze to Lauren. Without saying anything, Madeline swiftly left them.
Lauren waited until her mother had gone. Bo slid off the stool, and Lauren surged towards her, her hands pulling Bo's face to hers, to kiss her.
"I love you," Lauren searched Bo's face. "I'm sorry about earlier."
"I know, and I love you, too," Bo said. "And you know we can work this out, right?"
"I know it's not what you wanted."
"And you know I'll struggle with it?" Lauren stroked Bo's face.
"Yeah, if you didn't I'd know something was wrong."
"But you'll make sure I don't lose my way?" Lauren asked.
"You betcha! I got your back, Doc. I'll be there, always!"
"Good," Lauren placed her fingers against Bo's lips. "Enough talking. Just kiss me, dammit!"
Bo happily obliged.
They spent the day down on the beach, Madeline and Patrick with them, enjoying the sun, swimming and frolicking in the sea. An impromptu game of beach volleyball against Lauren's parents, resulted in fits of giggles, with Patrick rushing to lift Madeline up so she could get the ball back over the net.
Typically, Madeline had made a picnic basket, but that didn't stop them from going into town and eating at one of the seafood restaurants for dinner in the evening.
Despite what had happened the night before, Bo found that it had been another perfect day. She'd kept an eye on Lauren, noticing a couple of times that she seemed deep in thought, but with a touch, or kiss, Bo brought her back, and the doctor seemed happy once again.
After their evening meal, the front porch was the favoured venue once more, just to sit and admire a moonlit sea.
Patrick appeared, carrying two guitars. He handed one each to Lauren and Madeline.
"I think we promised Bo, before you leave, a little family jamming." Patrick said.
"I think Bo had forgotten, but you obviously didn't!" Lauren muttered.
Patrick ignored her to fetch another guitar for himself. "It's already tuned." He added.
Lauren just glared at him for a moment, then strummed across the strings.
"Still sounds good." Lauren admitted with surprise.
Bo stood up from her chair so she could face the family trio.
"Don't get too excited," Lauren told her, seeing Bo's obvious smile of delight. "I haven't played in years! This could turn into a mess!"
"Hell, I don't care if you play out of tune," Bo remarked, taking her phone out of her pocket. "But I just gotta record this for the gang!"
Lauren huffed in despair.
Madeline, sitting between Lauren and Patrick, quickly plucked at the strings, eliciting the most wonderful melody, as she flexed her fingers in preparation to play.
"So what's it to be?" Patrick asked, doing the same. Lauren followed suit.
Bo quickly hit the record button; if that's all Lauren managed, it was already wonderful, as short as it was.
"Hmmm," Madeline mused. "How about Mr. V's 'Winter'?"
Now Lauren stared at her mother in disbelief. "Are you fricking kidding me!"
Her mother smiled back at her. "You can keep up, it hasn't been that long."
Lauren huffed loudly, and seeing Bo's frown, explained. "Mr. V, is Vivaldi, and my mom has decided we are gonna play 'Winter' from his 'Four Seasons'."
"Oh." Bo said, hoping she didn't sound too ignorant in that she didn't have a clue what the piece was.
"Ready?" Madeline asked. Patrick nodded and Lauren took a deep breath. All three of them moved slightly in sitting and posture.
When Madeline saw they were ready, she quietly counted, "One, two," and without having to murmur three, she started first, gently, with Patrick and Lauren joining her.
Bo listened; the notes at first, staccato, sounded discordant, jarring, dipping and building in volume, until they burst into a rhythm, before ebbing away again, rebuilding in tempo, until they erupted and Bo then realized she knew this piece very well, if not by name.
It was obvious Madeline was the expert player; Bo watched her fingers as they teased the notes, effortlessly, into life. As the trio continued, she noticed that Lauren and Patrick were also watching Madeline in admiration as they all played, and the smiles on their faces showed their delight. Lauren looked relaxed.
Bo was mesmerized by the scene. She wondered how many hours in the past they had spent practicing. Just how good they all had to be, to be able to play such a complex piece. Having recognized the composition, Bo knew that it would lead to an almost thrilling climax. She found she was holding her breath, hoping that Lauren's concern at not having played in years wouldn't cause her to falter. However Madeline was right; Lauren kept up beautifully.
As they continued on, without fault, Bo lost herself to the sheer bliss of listening to them play. It was like an outpouring of joy, of happiness, and love, and she felt it reach out and envelope her. This was family, this is what it meant to be a part of one, and she wanted it to go on, hoping that the piece wouldn't end.
When it eventually did, in perfect unison, Lauren collapsed with relief and laughter, along with Patrick, while Madeline just smiled at them.
"Damn, that was fun!" Patrick said.
"It's a shame Nathan wasn't here to join in." Lauren added. She looked at Bo, her smile fading, replaced by concern. She quickly got up, placing the guitar in her seat.
"Bo?" Lauren stood before her. "What's wrong?" she wiped Bo's tears from her face.
Unaware that she was crying, Bo looked at her. "That was the most incredible thing I've ever seen." She managed to say, her voice thick with emotion.
Madeline now stood beside Lauren; opening her arms, she pulled Bo to her.
"Welcome to the family, Bo. Welcome home!" Madeline said softly.
Bo tried to stifle the sob, but it escaped. Patrick made trying to keep her emotions in check even worse.
"There will always be a home for you here, Bo!"
"Oh Jeez!" Bo sniffed, pulling back. "You guys are killing me!" she smiled, wiping her eyes.
"Who'd like some coffee?" Madeline asked.
"I'd like one thing?" Bo said. Madeline waited. "I'd love to hear y'all play that again." She suggested hopefully.
"Of course, be right back." Madeline said as she steered Patrick back into the house with her.
"Are you okay, sweetie?" Lauren pulled Bo against her.
Bo nodded. "You know I'm crazy in love with you, right?"
"Yeah, I kinda get that." Lauren smiled.
"Well, I think we should have a prenup agreement."
Lauren tilted her head, waiting.
"Not that it's ever going to happen, but should we divorce, I get to keep your parents!"
Lauren threw her head back, laughing. "Ooooh, smart move!"
"One other thing, we take that guitar home," Bo added. "That was some skilled hand work you got there, and you need to keep up with your practice."
"Oh, that was nothing. I have fingers skills you can only dream of," Lauren said. "I can tease a tune or two out of you, trust me."
Bo shivered. "Is that so, Doc?"
"Ha-huh," Lauren leaned in to whisper in Bo's ear. "C'mere and I'll prove it!" She took Bo's hand, leading her off the porch. "The car's unlocked, right?"
Bo whimpered, quickly looking back at the house.
"Don't worry, you know mom's coffee. It's bean to cup; by the time she grinds it, lets it percolate, I figure we got twenty minutes."
"God, I hope that's why your mom decided to go make some. She's one intuitive woman!"
Bo also realised something else. Lauren's recent sexual overdrive obviously hadn't diminished. Her excitement escalated at that prospect, and also that Lauren's reinstatement as a God could mean something powerful was about to happen. She considered that combined, both their energies could be dangerous in a car with a full gas tank.
Oh hell! Bo thought, dismissing her concern. What a way to go!
Madeline turned away from the sink, pouring water into the coffee machine.
"Hey," Paddy suddenly said. "Perhaps Bo and Lauren would like to play some chess. It's about time I broke in that board I made. I'll go get it from the workshop."
"Good idea," Madeline said, but stood in front of him, blocking his way to the door. "Get it later. Keep me company while the coffee brews?" she asked, smiling, circling her arms around his waist.
Paddy looked at her. "Sure."
From the kitchen window, Madeline had seen Bo and Lauren clambering eagerly into the car, and she knew there were some things a father shouldn't witness his daughter indulging in.
She figured she'd give them thirty minutes to get themselves back to the porch.
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