DISCLAIMER: Lost Girl and its characters are the property of Showcase and are used here for entertainment & not profit.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This may include some spoiler info from series 3!!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To kajola63[at]yahoo.com

The Brave
By Kate


Present Time

As Lauren ran along the corridor to her apartment, she looked at Kenzi, keeping up beside her. The younger woman looked pensive, anxious. It was no real surprise. Everybody was feeling the same. Bo was entering the Dawning, two hundred years earlier than she should have been. There was little time to prepare Bo for it, and Lauren knew the consequences if Bo didn't make it through. A devolved Fae was not how you'd want to see anybody end up; kept away from the world, caged and shackled. Lauren shuddered at the thought.

As they entered her apartment, Lauren took the stairs two at a time up to her bedroom, pointing at the large dresser of drawers in the living area.

"In there, you'll find some old Fae books. Take them out and I'll find a holdall for them. I'll fetch what I need and be right back down!"

Kenzi nodded and started pulling open drawers, rifling through them.

Lauren entered her bedroom going straight to the closet, sliding open the doors. From the top shelf she pulled down a large khaki coloured holdall. Her name was stitched onto the side of it.

She opened it pulling out various items of clothing; khaki t-shirts and combat fatigues before she found the weapon. In a pocket she found the clip of ammo and snapped it into the pistols chamber, then tucked it into the back of her jeans, her jacket hiding the fact it was there.

Whatever the Dawning held for Bo, Lauren wouldn't see her regress to a devolved Fae.

Lauren took a deep breath, calming her nerves. She didn't want Kenzi to see her anxiety, only the efficient controlled medical practitioner that she was. Under that façade Kenzi would remain calm, knowing that at least Lauren wasn't freaking out as much as Kenzi was inside.

Nodding to herself that it was time to get back to Bo, Trick and the others before the Dawning began in earnest, Lauren raced back down to Kenzi.

Lauren found her staring at something in a small box. Her body tensed for a moment; she'd forgotten they were in one of the drawers. Lauren started stuffing the holdall with the books Kenzi had amassed.

"This is a medal." Kenzi stated touching the item in the box. "And there are others."

Lauren ignored the remark. She could feel Kenzi looking at her and guessed at the look of shock on her face.

"There's a letter with it, too, it says you…"

"I know what it says," Lauren interrupted. "Let's get going." Lauren slung the holdall over her shoulder.

Kenzi stood, staring her down for a moment, then spoke. "You got these freaking medals in Afghanistan, didn't you?"

Lauren grabbed it from Kenzi's hand and put in on the dresser.

"Yes. Now let's go!" Lauren urged.

"You didn't think to mention this? Kenzi asked incredulously.

Lauren sighed deeply. "Right now, it's not a priority, but Bo is. So let's forget this, okay?" Lauren headed for the door.

"You sure are full of mystery, doc!" Kenzi mumbled. "Any other surprises?" she asked as she passed Lauren into the corridor.

Lauren half smiled but didn't answer. "More than you could know" she said to herself then pulled the door closed.

2006 – Afghanistan – Camp Bastion Hospital

Lauren scribbled some notes on the medical chart and smiled warmly at the young soldier sitting on the bed. He looked restless and bored. His leg was in a cast. His injury had been sustained playing football with other members of his regiment. A pastime that kept them distracted from the serious nature of why they were here. But it was true what they said about the Brits; they were passionate about their national sport, even to the point of over-zealous tackling while playing.

"How much longer, doc?" the young soldier asked, expectations of hope on his face that she had good news. "I want to get back to my guys!"

Lauren smiled. "Just a couple more days, then the cast can come off and we'll see."

The soldier huffed. "All this bloody way and I break me fucking leg playing footie! I'll never live it down! 'Scuse the swearing, doc."

Lauren tried not to laugh. She could appreciate the irony. Of all the dangers the troops faced, this squaddie could never have predicated he'd suffer a sports injury. Lauren thought him lucky. She'd seen far worse in the almost 12 months of her posting, and was glad that it was coming to an end soon. She'd lost more than she'd ever thought when she'd volunteered.

It seemed the ideal opportunity fresh from medical school, to put everything she'd learned into practice, in the most severe conditions a doctor was ever likely to face in their medical career. She hadn't hesitated when her mentor, Dr Robert Pullman, had mentioned it. He'd thought she'd had the right amount of compassion and level headedness to remain calm in what could be extreme adverse conditions.

The Joint Force Medical Group had welcomed her enthusiastically. It wasn't too hard of an adjustment. Her father was retired a Canadian Air Force and her older brother was already serving in Afghanistan. That pedigree and her excellent medical background had meant she was snapped up and shipped out. She was sent to Camp Bastion, the main base of over 28,000 British Troops and Military Medical Corp groups of the British and US armies. Camp Leatherneck, the US military base was practically next door.

"Do you drink, doc?" The young solider asked.

She looked at him and saw the smile on his face and knew what was coming next.

"Maybe, when this thing's off, we can get together, for a drink or two?"

Lauren appreciated the effort. He was only 20, but in situations like this, you had to try your luck; you might not get another chance, especially if a patrol didn't go too well.

Lauren let him down gently, as she did them all. "Sorry solider, but I'm spoken for."

"No surprise there! Lucky bastard!" He mumbled.

It was a lie she told, but it worked most of the time. Some guys said that didn't matter. They would never tell "the lucky fella!" Lauren had never bothered to inform them about her gender preference. It was something she kept very much to herself. She assumed she exuded a "Private: Keep Out" air about her. None of the commanding officers sought to ask her about her personal details and she took that as a sign of respect from them, that they regarded her above intrusion into her private life, and respected her professional medical knowledge far more.

Lauren put down the medical chart, and tucked her hair behind her ear, rubbing her neck, feeling the perspiration. She closed her eyes for a moment.


Lauren's eyes snapped open and she looked at the person addressing her urgently.

Lt Colonel Peters stood in the doorway. He twirled his hand above his head informing Lauren the MedEvac chopper was waiting, and they needed to leave immediately.

Lauren was suddenly alert, her adrenal glands pumping adrenaline into her blood stream.

She tore off her medical coat, her combat fatigues underneath and headed after Peters. On the way out, she grabbed a holdall and did her best to catch up with him.

"Sir?" Lauren called to him. "What do we have?"

Without looking at her, he carried on at a fast trot. "Two casualties. Helmond province. ETA 20! Armed support bird will be with us. Troops still taking fire!"

It was bluntly said, matter of fact, no emotion. Lauren's stomach lurched.

Lauren knew Peters to be an irascible character and in that respect he usually irritated and angered those around him, of the same rank or higher, as much as they angered and irritated him. Of the men he commanded, they would die for the man, such was their respect for his leadership and military service, which was long and decorated.

In the time Lauren had been at this posting, she couldn't recall ever seeing him laugh, or even crack a smile; he appeared humourless. He was over six foot, an imposing figure, broad shoulders, that were always pulled back, so that his chest stuck out. She had no idea of the colour of his eyes, as the permanent scowl he wore meant his eyes were always squinted. His nick-name was "Eastwood" and with a chewed cigar stuck in his mouth, he would have resembled the actor's 'Man With No Name' persona. He was a no nonsense military man, who obviously loved his role as a soldier, and was proud to serve with the men he commanded. He was a poster soldier, typical of the perception many had of American military servicemen. Lauren had heard someone say that he was from Tennessee, but as he didn't talk much, and mostly bellowed commands when he did, it was hard to ascertain from where in the US he was from. Most were just glad he was part of the allied forces, and some believed he should lead them.

The only thing Lauren could tell about him was that he was married. He wore a wedding band on his left hand, and she was curious as to the type of woman who could live with such a man. She was glad her own mother had not had the misfortune to marry the same type of man. It has led her to wonder if Peters was a completely different man away from the military life; a Bermuda shorts, sandals wearing, BBQ-ing type of guy. You couldn't be this much of an asshole all the time, surely, she had pondered.

Nothing more was said as Lauren followed Peters to the waiting chopper. She shielded her eyes as they neared it, the blades churning up the dust. Peters clambered in seating himself down. Lauren slung in her holdall and one of the other medics offered her help to get in, not something Peters was prepared to do.

Lauren sat down, and the chopper proceeded to take off. From her bag she removed the heavy bullet proof armoured jacket and put it on, then fastened the strap of the helmet after tucking her hair underneath it, adjusting the small microphone near to her mouth. Finally she fastened herself into her seat.

The helmet's earpiece crackled into life as one of the other medics spoke.


"Affirmative!" Everyone answered.

"Reports are casualties still down, and under fire! Air strike on enemy imminent. We're in and out!"

Lauren knew the situation wasn't good. Normally the casualties were secure and away from enemy forces before they went in – it meant extraction was much safer for all concerned. There had only been a handful of times she had faced this situation, and she tried not to think about the last time. Sarah's face flashed before her and she clenched her fists, forcing the image away. She could feel her heart rate increasing, matching the steady thud, thud, thud of the chopper's blades.

She now associated their sound with fear. In the beginning it was hope, the sound of rescue approaching; that any pain would be dealt with and eased. It didn't always mean life was assured, but for those lost, it was the last comfort they would know, to be surrounded by people who cared.

That didn't make the losses any easier and Lauren remembered them all. It had a profound effect on everyone when it occurred, and it made everyone more determined that they do their medical best. As much as losses were always going to be a possible factor, the ones that were the hardest to bear were the ones least expected to happen.

Like Sarah.

Lauren closed her eyes to shut out the sound of the chopper, and put her head back. She allowed herself to remember the first time she had seen Captain Sarah Livingstone.

Lauren had arrived at the camp's medical hospital late afternoon, and Sarah had been one of the attending doctors on duty. As statuesque and as slim as Lauren, with dark short wavy hair and sparkling blue eyes, Sarah had made a beeline straight for Lauren, and had introduced herself with a dazzling smile. The look on Sarah's face had also told Lauren, that Sarah had immediately recognised Lauren's sexual preference and her firm handshake had confirmed a kindred spirit in that respect.

"Welcome, Dr Lewis. I'm Captain Livingstone." Sarah had said.

"That's Doctor Livingstone, I presume?" Lauren had smiled.

Sarah had laughed. "That's an old joke, but from you, it sounds hilariously new!"

And that's how it had begun, as easily and as quickly as that. Sarah had been 10 years older than Lauren, and a career medical doctor with the British Army. She had already served three tours in Iraq and this was her second tour in Afghanistan.

Sarah had been an exceptional and experienced doctor in the field and her ability to assess injuries into order of priority had saved many lives that might have been lost. Lauren had also discovered that Sarah had always remained professional and discreet.

During med school Lauren had had a couple of short lived affairs, her desire to be the best at her medical studies had meant her priority had never been the relationship, and that's what she had found refreshing about Sarah's attitude. Sarah had never let her emotions interfere with her professional work ethic, and as far as Lauren had been able to tell, no one had known of their affair.

From their daily interaction with each other, it had not been evident that there was more than a professional relationship going on. Sarah had never sought Lauren out, and had always spoken to her as she would have done any of the other medical staff. Lauren had admired this ability to be emotionally detached, and had wondered if it was due to the British stiff upper lip not to show outward emotion.

Not that Sarah had been devoid in that respect. Broiling underneath her controlled exterior had been a deep passion, and the first time Lauren had been on the receiving end of it, Sarah had apologised. She had admitted to a dry spell in the last few years where physical intimacy had been concerned and had explained that her ardent and athletic seduction had been due to being surrounded by horny, testosterone fuelled soldiers. Not that Lauren had complained at the time. She had discovered that Sarah's medical abilities were equally matched to her sexual prowess. And that Sarah had also been adept at finding inventive ways to give them the privacy needed to indulge in it.

In those first few weeks it had been a baptism of fire for Lauren and she had been pushed and challenged by Sarah and the other experienced doctors to think on her feet, improvise, find another way to splint, stitch, anything that would secure an injury in the field until it could be dealt with back at the hospital, or the injured could be flown out.

It had been the most exhilarating 8 months of Lauren's life. She had been doing what she loved most, and had a partner that understood the pressures, had stimulated and had offered support, with no heavy strings attached. She had still felt too young and committed to her career for it to have been anything more. Or so she had thought. She had never stopped to analyse emotions or feelings.

The first time she had had to, it had started off as an ordinary day, by Camp Bastion standards. Lauren hadn't seen Sarah that morning and had just come on duty, when Peters had appeared, signalling that a chopper was ready. She did what she had always done; grabbed her kit and had raced to the MedEvac.

The situation that had been reported as they had taken off, was that there had been injuries amongst ground troops and that another medical team had come under enemy fire.

When the Medevac had approached, they could see the other chopper had landed; its blades were still spinning waiting for take-off. The armed air unit was returning fire to give cover to those on the ground.

Lauren and the other medics had alighted as quickly as possible and had headed to where the injured soldiers were being kept from harm's way.

Lauren had quickly noted there was a medic missing from the team that had already arrived.

"Where's your third medic?" she had asked, assessing the injuries.

"Back there, with man down. Couldn't move him, under fire!" had been the quick answered assessment. "It's enemy within! Two British trained Afghan soldiers turned on the troops, while they came under attack from enemy forces! One has been contained, the other they're still looking for."

At that moment Lauren had turned to look in the direction the medic had mentioned and had seen Sarah attempting to make it to them, with a wounded soldier holding onto her for support.

Then everything had appeared to have stopped, suspended in animation. From behind a building a soldier had appeared and had stepped out in front of Sarah. He had aimed the weapon at both her and the soldier she was helping and he had managed to fire a volley of bullets, before British soldiers had surrounded him, shooting to contain him. They had yelled and shouted at him as he lay on the floor. Elsewhere, gunfire could still be heard taking place.

Lauren's immediate reaction had been to get to Sarah and the soldier and she had raced over to them.

Both had suffered gun shots to their legs, an additional injury for the soldier to the one he already had. He had writhed on the floor shouting in agony. At first Lauren had been relieved that their body armour had protected them, but Sarah had not moved.

Lauren's assessment of the solider had been that as he was yelling loud enough he could wait a moment longer while she had seen to Sarah.

Under Sarah's body armour, Lauren had seen blood seeping through her combats near her groin.

"Medic down! Medic Down!" Lauren had screamed into her mouthpiece.

Sarah had grabbed her arm. "See to the others."

"Where's the blood coming from, Sarah?" Lauren had tried to open her armoured jacket.

"Bullet ricocheted off squaddie's armour, entered my groin."

Lauren had not been able to believe the freak injury, but had realised that as Sarah had been taller than the solider she had been supporting, a bullet had been deflected off his body armour and had managed to get underneath hers.

Sarah had continued to speak calmly. "It's ripped through stomach cavity, probably liver and lung, and I think it's lodged in my upper chest, near clavicle."

Lauren had frozen. She had known that the internal bleeding would be immense and that they'd need to basically open her up right there to have had any chance of saving her.

Lauren had torn open her med kit, needing to find something that she could stem the bleed with.

"Lauren," Sarah had said gently. "See to the soldier."

Lauren had ignored her; her mind had raced as she had stared at the med kit and had realised there was nothing in there that could do what was necessary.

"Look at me,"

Lauren had looked at her and had been awed by how calm Sarah had appeared, despite her injuries.

"Focus." Sarah had said

"I am focused!" Lauren had answered. Her hands had started to shake as she still fiddled with her med kit

"No, you're too involved. Focus on the facts. I'm no longer a priority. I will not survive," Sarah had now started to shake as her body had started going into shock. "Focus on the others."

"I can fix this!"

"No you can't. You'll just prolong the inevitable. So focus," Sarah's voice had started to weaken and her breathing had become laboured. "You can choose to end this for me, right now," Sarah motioned at the soldier's fireman. "End the pain before I start to scream, or leave and attend to the others."

Lauren had been mortified at the suggestion. "I can't do that, you know that!"

"Then do what you've been trained to do. To save the lives that can be saved!"

Lauren had tried to argue but Sarah had found the strength to command her.

"That's a medical order, doctor!" Sarah had coughed and blood had dribbled from her mouth.

Lauren had closed her eyes and grabbed Sarah's hand, squeezing it tightly. Another medic had arrived at Lauren's side.

"Gun shot, entered groin, no exit upper chest. Major organs damaged! Administer morphine!" Lauren hadn't recognised her own voice, it had sounded disembodied; it had sounded like it belonged to someone else.

She had let go of Sarah's hand and had left her with the other medic, while she had attended to the soldier. Without knowing it, she had started to weep. By the time she had finished attending to him, she had started to gently sob.

She had checked on the rogue solider and had pronounced him dead. Then she had returned to the other casualties. She had no idea what part of her brain had been functioning enough to be so focused on administering the medical aid they had needed. None of the injured or other medics had commented on her emotional state, they had just let her be, allowing her to do her job, despite the tears that had flowed unchecked down her face.

While this had been going on, an airstrike had stopped the enemy forces and silence had fallen on the chaos.

When Lauren had looked around she had seen Sarah's body being gently carried by soldiers and medics, who had carefully placed her into the body of the aircraft. It had been a sombre task. With other casualties already filing the space, the Medevac took off and that had been the last time Lauren had seen Sarah.

Lauren's knees had started to buckle, and somebody had grabbed her by the elbow and had helped to escort her to the other Medevac. She'd had no idea who it was. She had sat, stunned into silence along with everybody else. Other medics had continued to monitor the casualties they were flying back to the hospital, but their voices had been quieter than normal, speaking more softly.

Lauren had looked at one of the injured soldiers and had noticed the terrified look on his face. She had moved to kneel beside him, had smiled and had taken his hand to hold. He had squeezed it hard, grateful for the contact and assurance it had given him.

Lauren had never been informed of what had happened to Sarah's body. It had not been taken back to the Camp Hospital for any post mortem, so Lauren had had to assume that Sarah had been flown straight back to the UK, to her family. Her belongings had also been removed. Lauren had realised in the short time she had known Sarah, she had known nothing of her life outside of the army.

Lauren had been told to take some time off, but after just one day, she had not been able to stand the desolation and idleness of not doing anything, so had thrown herself back into work.

And that's how it had remained for the last 3 months. She only had 3 weeks to go and then she would be going home.

Lauren was suddenly snapped out of her memories, as reality invaded her thoughts. The pilot banked sharply to the left as they approached their destination and Lauren was able to see what appeared to be a small semi deserted township.

Some smoke residue was rising from a small hillock in the landscape just outside the town, and must have been due to an airstrike aimed at where enemy forces may have been hiding when they had ambushed a routine patrol.

As the pilot brought the chopper down to land she could see soldiers signalling their location and where the injured men were. They were a small group of troops who had obviously come under severe bombardment from portable launched missiles. It was possible that the two injured men may have lost limbs, but Lauren wouldn't know for sure until they got to them.

She leapt out of the chopper along with Peters, and another medic, her heart beat pounding as it always did in these situations. She quickly scanned the area. The walls of the buildings were peppered with bullet marks, chunks were missing, as well as large holes. The area was arid and dusty, with just a few tufts of sparse foliage. Dust was starting to settle back down where it had been churned up on landing and she could taste it in her mouth.

Lauren felt extremely uneasy about the situation, a sixth sense telling her something was unusually wrong. It wasn't something she had ever felt this strongly before.

She caught up with Peters and only realised that had been possible because he had slowed his pace. She looked at him and saw apprehension all over his face. He looked around wildly.

"Fuck!" He growled. "Run for cover!" He shouted. "It's a trap!"

Lauren heard the gunfire and a hail of bullets descended upon them. She could hear the whizz as they passed them, and the thud as they hit the ground. She ran for all she was worth towards the relative shelter of a building in front of them. Peters and the other medic were now ahead of her and she could hear Peters yelling into his mouth piece.

"Where are the motherfuckers!? Send another airstrike now!"

In that moment, Lauren heard a whizz and felt the full force of the bullet as it hit her body armour near her shoulder. The impact lifted her off her feet, causing her to twist in mid-air, before she slammed down face first into the dirt. Her chin and cheek took the brunt of the fall and she felt her lip split open. She was momentarily stunned, trying to assess if she had been hit anywhere else. Her shoulder felt like someone had punched her hard in the muscle. She stayed low, looking to where Peters and the medic were still running. She knew she needed to get up and move otherwise she would be a sitting target to whoever was firing at them. She raised herself up and was about to run, when she saw the ground between Peters and the medic erupt upwards. A loud bang followed and the missile sent both of them in separate directions, through the air.

The explosion was enough to deafen Lauren's ears momentarily, and all she could now hear in the earpiece were muffled shouts and she couldn't tell who the voices belonged to.

She could see rather than hear bullets still whizzing past her and realised the target was now the Medevac chopper. She looked behind and could see it had taken damage to the main window. The pilot signalled to her that he had to pull up and get out of harm's way. Their armed escort chopper was hovering to give it cover and moved itself into the path of fire, while trying to ascertain where the enemy was.

Lauren took a deep breath, grabbed her med-kit and launched into a run. The medic had been blown clear over a wall, but Peters was lying on his back in an open area, away from any cover. Lauren got to him and saw his lower leg was badly injured; the bone had broken through the skin at his shin. The sleeve on his left arm was ripped and blood was oozing out of an open wound, running down and out from the cuff. His face was bloodied with cuts and gashes and dirt was stuck in the blood.

"Sir!" Lauren shouted. "Can you hear me?"

Peters' eyes flickered open. "Shit!" was the first word out of his mouth.

"Sir, can you tell me where it hurts most?" Lauren quickly felt for other broken bones. She needed to know that if she attempted to move him, she wouldn't make a bone pierce a lung, or sever a major artery.

"Everywhere hurts!" He grumbled.

"I need you to concentrate, sir. You can tell me better than anyone what else might be wrong other than what I can see. I need to move you, but I need to make sure I can without it killing you!"

"For God's sake are you sane?" He looked at her. "I'm almost 200lbs without kit! How the hell are you going to move me? Get the fuck to safety!"

"Please, sir. Are you aware of any other injuries?"

Peters clawed at his body armour and unfastened it. Blood had spread out from his chest staining the jacket beneath. "I'd say this is pretty damn serious. Now get to safety!"

Lauren took a moment to think. "I'm afraid this is going to hurt like hell!" she refastened the jacket and grabbed the thick straps over Peters' shoulders, then proceeded to drag him towards a break in the wall. She knew if she could get through there, they'd have better cover.

Peters yelled in pain, as his injured leg was pulled straight as Lauren moved him to safety.

"Goddammit woman, this isn't worth the risk!"

"I'd appreciate it if you could help yourself a little here!"

He looked up at her and scowled. With his uninjured leg, he was able to push his body up to help Lauren lug his weight, but Lauren could see the amount of pain he was in from his face. She needed to assess his chest wound as soon as possible.

By the time they reached the gap in the wall Lauren was sweating and running out of energy, her arm and leg muscles ached, and sweat was running down from the brim of her helmet and into her eyes, the salt making them sting.

There was a small amount of rubble in the way but Lauren knew she had no choice; she'd have to drag Peters through it and that would cause him more pain. She heaved as much as she could, and ground out a long shout with the effort. Peters swore with pain.

Finally they were the other side of the wall and Lauren pulled Peters up against it, so he was sitting. She half collapsed beside him, out of breath.

"Please don't attempt to go anywhere, sir!" She managed to say.

He looked at her and saw the triumphant look in her eyes, and the dare that he might consider it, despite the fact she knew he couldn't.

"I'll be right back!" Lauren told him. Keeping low, she made her way over to the other medic. He was crouched against the wall, holding his arm. That seemed to be his only injury, along with some cuts to his face. It seemed Peters had taken the brunt of the blast. By some miracle he had managed to hold onto his med-kit and Lauren was relieved to see it. They'd need more than hers now.

"Are you okay?" Lauren asked him.

"Yeah," he nodded. "Think I busted my arm and my ankle when I landed over this wall!"

Lauren gently felt his foot in his boot. He winced in pain. "Yep, looks like you're right!"

"How's Eastwood?" The medic asked.

"We need to get him out of here as soon as we can!" Lauren answered. She opened the med kit.

"We appear to be trapped here. Could you tell where the attack was coming from?" he asked.

"No, but hopefully the armed bird has. MedEvac had to lift off, they were taking fire. We can't afford to lose them with more casualties."

Lauren could still hear heavy gunfire taking place and was sure that the small group of troops were now also engaging the enemy.

"I need to get you to the other casualties; try and get everyone in the same place. You up for that?" Lauren asked him.

"Yeah, we could be sitting ducks here. What about Peters?"

"I'll worry about him. Let's get you moved first. You can help the original casualties as much as you can."

Lauren helped him up. He placed his arm around her shoulder and she held him by the waist. He hobbled as quickly as he could, and she knew every stop on his broken ankle would have sent shots of pain into his body. But his determination to survive the situation was stronger than the pain.

They found two soldiers with the casualties.

"Jesus, you're alive?" One of them said in disbelief. "We saw you fly over that wall and thought…." He didn't bother to finish.

"Where's the rest of your troop?" Lauren asked as she immediately started to give medical aid to the injured.

"Trying to find the fuckers still shooting at us! We got fucking missiles, the whole fucking works raining down on us!"

Lauren could hear shouts from around the town, as the small troop desperately sought to contain the situation.

One of the injured had suffered a major injury to his leg and the blood loss was sending him into shock. One of his comrades had done a good job of trying to stop the blood flow with a tourniquet, and Lauren adjusted it. The blood stopped oozing out but she wasn't sure if the leg could ultimately be saved at this point.

The other injury was a gunshot wound to the leg. It had gone clean through and had not shattered any bones. Both the soldiers were remarkably calm.

"We'll have you out of here!" Lauren assured them. She turned to the other medic. "Keep monitoring them, call me if you need me!" she tapped her helmet to signal the communication they had. "I need to get back to Peters"

"The other guy's still alive, too?" The soldier asked.

Lauren nodded. "He's badly injured. I'd need help moving him."

The soldier looked torn. "We need to stay here, commander's orders, but I'll relay the info. One of us will try and get to you, in the meantime…" he reached for one of the injured soldiers weapons and handed Lauren the HK417.

"Hopefully you won't need it, but just in case!"

Lauren took it then quickly made her way back to Peters. She found him, thankfully, still alive propped up against the wall, but he had removed his helmet.

"Sir, you need to keep this on!" Lauren picked it up, attempting to put it back on his head.

"You seriously think an injury to my head could be any worse than the ones I already have? It might actually finish the job quicker!" He said irritated by her instance.

"Sir," Lauren tried again.

"Doctor, just let me have bit of comfort from the fucking pain will ya, without having to wear that damn heavy thing on my head!"

Lauren didn't push it but was pleased he had the energy to be angry. He hadn't weakened too much since she had left him.

He spotted the battle rifle. "You know how to use that?" he mumbled.

"No, but I figure you do."

"I didn't know the British had been issued this." He looked over the weapon, feeling the weight of it in his right hand.

While he was distracted in studying it, Lauren was busy dealing with the injury to his leg. She applied a tourniquet above the wound, but didn't cover it, leaving it open and the bone exposed. That was the least of her concerns.

Next she moved to his left arm. The sleeve was ripped enough that she managed to rip even more of it away. The gash was deep that she could see the bone. Again she applied pressure and bandaged.

Peters became aware of what she was doing. His scowl returned. "Stop wasting medical supplies, doctor."

Lauren noticed the pallor to his face and her concern rose. She needed to see the chest wound.

"Have they figured out where they are firing from?" He asked.

"No, they're scouting now."

Peters turned his head to listen. "They're over that way somewhere, so they're heading straight towards them. Where's the MedEvac?"


"What the hell is the armed response bird doing, can't they fucking find them!" Peters said in frustration.

There was still a lot of gunfire and Lauren couldn't determine in what direction it was coming from. To her, it appeared to be all around them.

"This was a trap. We were lured here. Air strike thought they had had them and left, but there must have been a second group lying in wait." His speech started to slur.

Lauren started to unfasten his body armour.

"Forget it, doctor!"

"Let me be the judge of that, sir!" Lauren eased it off him, and opened the jacket to reveal his chest.

A piece of shrapnel was poking out right in the middle of his t-shirt. Lauren couldn't figure out how at first, as there was no visible damage to the front of his body armour, then it hit her. It had gone through from the back. She mentally kicked herself for not having initially checked, and relying on Peters to have told her what he already knew.

"Shit." Lauren hissed under her breath.

"Told you!" Peters said.

"I need to support the chest. I need to bind you up as much as possible, to hold this in place." It was the only thing she could think of. She had no idea what damage she may have caused dragging Peters to safety. But he was a big man, and she felt sure that part of his ability to survive would be his build and strength. If she bound him and put the body armour back on, that should suffice, until they could get him to the hospital but they needed to do that urgently.

Being under continual fire didn't help.

A voice crackled over both their earpieces.

"Air strike imminent from the south. Move all personal to safety!"

"About fucking time!" Peters shouted. "Shame they'll end up blowing us all to hell, unless they can see where the enemy fire is coming from."

Lauren bound his chest as tight as possible with bandage.

"Get to safety, Lewis." Peters told her.

"I can't leave you right now, sir."

"Get out of here, Lewis! That's a fucking order!"

"Just let me do my job, sir." Lauren helped him back into his body armour.

"Goddammit, I'll have you court martialed for disobeying…" He bellowed at her.

"Actually you can't," Lauren interrupted. "I'm a civilian volunteer, and medically, in our current situation and my assessment, I out rank you!"

He stared at her for a moment. "I'm not fucking Livingstone, doctor!" he said through gritted teeth.

Lauren was too shocked at first to react to the knowledge that he had known about them. She now also realised who it had been that had grabbed her by the elbow and had escorted her to the helicopter the day Sarah had been killed. Then she became so incensed she reacted instinctively and violently. She slapped Peters across the face.

"You listen up you sonofabitch!" Lauren yelled. "This is not going to happen again! Not on my watch! You just wanna be another notch on the belt of someone on their way to future martyrdom? Then die some other day! But you're not dying today. No man left behind is a military motto, right? Well sir, trust me, if I have to drag you by your fucking balls to that chopper, I will!"

Lauren slammed his helmet onto his head and fastened it. "Once again, don't go anywhere! I'll be back!" she stood up, aware of what she was about to do and felt no fear. If it didn't work, then hopefully she wouldn't know it, or suffer.

"Lewis?" Peters said. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" His voice rose with concern. "Don't you dare!" Peters tried to grab her leg to stop her, but she moved out of his reach.

"Don't be a fool!" He shouted.

Lauren took in a deep breath then exhaled, and put any trepidation and anticipation aside. The next thing she knew she was through the wall and running out in open space.

She could hear Peters screaming in her ear. "Don't run in a straight line! Zig zag across!"

She followed his command, listening as he communicated with the armed chopper.

"Tell the air strike guys to follow the enemy fire that is being drawn to that crazy fucking doctor currently running towards you! And for fucks sake, make sure you cover that girl's ass as much as you can!"

Lauren was now aware that she was indeed drawing enemy attention, as bullets whizzed all around her. She continued to zig zag crossways and wondered how long it would be before a missile was launched at her. If that didn't kill her, she was sure her elevated levels of adrenaline would probably cause a massive heart attack. She knew at some point her muscles would tighten from the sheer stress and that she wouldn't be able to keep this up. She realised she was holding her breath, and that the lack of oxygen would not help. She allowed her lungs to take in air, and it energised her body. It almost tasted sweet to breathe and she was surprised by the sensation. She relaxed and ignored the frantic pounding of her heart, that she could also feel pounding in her ears. She felt a surprising sense of freedom, and welcomed it for however long it might last. She thought of Sarah and felt herself smile.

It felt like she had been running for hours, buoyed up by her determination that everyone would get out of this, but she realised it had been only a minute and probably not even that.

"Get down! Get down! Get down!" Lauren heard someone shout in her ear piece and she threw herself to the floor. She hit the dirt so hard that dust billowed up and she slid along on the ground. As she looked up, the armed helicopter swerved quickly to the side and Lauren saw the missiles fly over-head, the jet that had fired them, roaring away above.

The missiles hit with such explosive force that Lauren felt the ground shake beneath her. She lay still, waiting to hear confirmation that the air strike had been successful.

The armed helicopter hovered above her. She looked up and the pilot signalled her to stay down. She could hear communication going on, but the engines drowned out her ability to understand it. She became aware that it was gaining height and she looked up again. The pilot signalled the all okay, and from behind it she could see the MedEvac heading back to land, along with another one.

Lauren hurriedly made her way back to Peters.

"Do you know how many fucking land mines you may have just missed pulling that stunt?" He yelled. "You got some crazy assed wish to be some fucking hero?"

Lauren looked down at him. "Being near death hasn't tempered your nature one bit has it, sir?"

He went to open his mouth to yell something else then closed it. More gently he spoke.

"That has to be the bravest thing I've ever seen anyone do. There's going to be a medal in it for you, Lewis!"

"Well I figured you've had more than your fair share displayed on that chest of yours, so it was about time to share, don't you think?" She smiled at him.

He shook his head in disbelief.

"Would you really have dragged me by my balls?"

"Yes sir! But I'd have left you to explain that injury to your wife!"

He stared at her and for a moment she thought he might actually smile.

"You left me with this. Any reason?" He held up the HK417.

"Just in case I hadn't succeeded, you'd have had a choice, on how you wanted things to end."

He nodded in understanding and gratitude.

Just then, the troops and medics from the other MedEvac appeared.

"Priority casualty! Shrapnel to chest…" Lauren refocused and she quickly told them about Peters' injuries. She left him in their capable hands to get him on the chopper and then went back to the other casualties and helped them.

Once back at the camp hospital Lauren asked after Peters and was told he'd been rushed into surgery. She had hoped she could have been part of the surgical team, but having flown in the second chopper, she'd not arrived with him. She had asked if she could go into theatre but had been politely declined the opportunity.

The hospital had some of the finest orthopaedic surgeons and she knew his leg and arm would not be a problem for them. The shrapnel injury she was not so sure about.

Sometime later one of the surgical team sought her out, and informed her that by some miracle, it had missed his spine and all major nerves, had not pierced a lung, missed his heart by millimetres, and a full recovery was expected.

The name Lewis quickly became the most bandied about name on the camp. A week after the incident, Lauren's hand ached so much she was convinced all 28,000 personnel on the base had shaken it. She'd had more than her fair share of grateful thanks, as well as propositions from both sexes for a "drink or two" in appreciation of her courage.

She'd been effectively grounded from off base duties. Every team would have wanted her on their flight as a good luck charm, so they made better use of her demand in the hospital for her last three weeks.

She'd checked up on Peters during his recovery, and was surprised to see the same medics attending him whenever she did so. She assumed that his rank meant he was afforded such treatment.

His recovery also appeared pretty miraculous. In no time at all, he was up and about, and showed very little sign of the injuries he'd sustained. She'd seen him around the camp, now only assisted by a cane while his leg still healed, but had not really had the chance to speak to him.

For her last night at Camp Bastion, her colleagues threw a farewell party, and it felt like all 28,000 personnel had once again managed to pop by. Many hoped she would reconsider and stay, most wished her well and thanked her profusely for all she had done, and there were more propositions for how she could spend her last night at the camp. At some point during the evening, she was aware of seeing Peters hovering in the background, but when she had sought him out, he had gone.

Lauren didn't really sleep. She'd stayed up talking to many people, doing last minute rounds on patients, before packing for her mid-day flight out of the camp.

Before that happened, she was summoned to the commander's office. As she entered everyone stood to attention.

She didn't know half of the British command, but recognised enough to know this was an unusual precedence. Also present was Peters. Nothing was said, but each one come to her, saluted, shook her hand and left.

Peters was the last to stand before her.

"Do you know how many fucking military citations are flying around, all about you right now?"

Lauren smiled to herself. It seemed Eastwood was back to his normal irascible self.

"I didn't mean to cause so much fuss but I'm glad to see you're feeling better, sir."

He huffed. "For God's sake we're way past rank, Lewis! It's Richard!"

Lauren couldn't reconcile the name to his nature. She'd expected something more fitting, like Hank, or Buck, or Brad.

"So I guess this is it? You're done with this life?" He asked.

Lauren had known that as much as she had gained from the military styled life, she wanted to explore her career in other ways.

"It's been an experience I shall never forget. I've learnt so much, from so many incredible people. But I want to put all that experience to use in other areas that could benefit so many more."

Peters nodded. "Well, if you ever change your mind, you'll always have a place to come back to."

"Thank you. What about you? You're not transferring to a nice safe desk job."

"Not a chance in hell, Lewis!" He tapped his leg with his cane. "Just a scratch. I'll be back out there as soon as I can!"

Lauren wasn't surprised; she knew he would rather die in the field than fade away at some desk job.

"Mrs Peters wouldn't rather have you home?"

"My wife is a saint, doctor. Why and how the hell she puts up with me, I have no idea, so I try not to test her patience too much by constantly being in her way. It's the best thing about the job I do, that I have her to go home to."

Lauren was shocked at the admission; an almost emotional declaration from a man that seemed devoid of feeling.

"What are your plans, when you get home?" He asked.

"I think I'd like to study medical science more, combine it with what I already know."

He nodded.

"Before all this, there could have been an opportunity to study in the Congo. I might see if that offer is still open at some point in the future." Lauren added.

He held out his hand. "Then I wish you good luck, Dr Lewis."

Lauren took his hand and he shook it. It was a man's handshake, firm, that almost crushed her fingers.

"It's been an honour to serve with you." He face softened and he smiled.

The smile changed his face completely from what she had been used to. He had a dazzling smile, and Lauren saw the sparkling blue of his eyes.

It rocked her back on her heels for a moment, before she gathered herself.

"Likewise, Richard." She turned and headed towards the door.

"Lauren?" Peters called after her. She turned to face him, pleased that he'd finally used her first name.

"Welcome to our world." He smiled.

Lauren frowned, puzzled by the comment and what he had meant by it. She smiled back then walked out of the door towards home.

Present time

Lauren closed the door to her apartment and leant against it for a moment. She was relived to be home and the relative safety she felt from being there. She pinched the bridge of her nose to try and ease the tiredness, before she pushed away from the door and wearily made her way up the stairs to her bedroom.

The Dawning was over. Bo had made it through to the delight and relief of all concerned. It seemed there should have been some huge celebration but everyone had been exhausted by the ordeal.

Lauren had left Bo resting with Trick and the others at the Dahl. She had needed to get away, to have some space to think for a while.

She noticed the open closet and clothes scattered on the floor. She knelt down to pick them up, and shoved them inside. From behind her, she took the pistol out of her jeans and held it in her hand, staring at it. Her hand started to tremble, and she felt tears prick at her eyes. Shakily she stuffed it in amongst the clothes, to put it out of sight.

She fell against the frame of the closet and started to cry. She felt so damned tired she didn't even have the energy to crawl to the bed.

It seemed that the last few years had finally caught up with her. The world she had thought she had known before the Fae, and the world she had come to know with them in it. She found she had no real sense of what was actually real anymore, what could be acceptable to be classed as real.

She had come to realise in these last few years that the Fae had existed in her world long before she had been exposed to them. How many had she actually met, she had no idea, but she could probably name a handful looking back.

She remembered one in particular that she had concluded a while ago, could only have been Fae. She had no idea what Fae they had been, but he'd actually gone out his way to tell her of their existence.

"Welcome to our world." Peters' words had resounded in her head these last few years.

At the time she had thought it was a late welcome into the military world, but he was giving away a secret, that without knowing it, she'd been initiated. It made sense. His recovery had been quick, he'd had the same medical staff looking after him, and that must have meant they, too, were Fae. No one else but them would see his medical records, blood results; that might have raised a few questions under human scrutiny.

It might also have explained why Sarah's body had been flown straight back to the UK.

Lauren wondered just how deep the Fae actually resonated. Over the millennia, had Fae DNA been adopted into the human race, from Fae and Human mating's? Had it been diluted down enough, that it wasn't too noticeable to modern medicine? Was Fae, in fact, in all of humankind?

Is that what made some stronger than others? Is that what made some athletes faster than others? Was it why some were prone to be great artists, or composers? Did it cause some to have a better talent to sing than others, or play instruments to a virtuoso performance? Was it responsible for making the explorers of history more inquisitive to explore the world? Could it cause psychotic & sociopathic behaviours? Did it make some leaders great? Did it make some scientists push the boundaries to think outside of belief? Could it make a man capable of walking on water? Could it be a reason for some doctor's to excel at their profession? Could it be a reason why someone would, without question, face a hail of bullets to save others? Was it responsible for making people brave?

And was bravery only judged on the merit of having selflessly acted to save the lives of others? Or was it also possible to judge bravery as an act of taking a life to save someone from misery?

Lauren had faced this conflict twice before, firstly with Sarah, and then Nadia. On both occasions she would have never chosen the latter, but with Bo, she knew she would have done.

Sarah had opened up her emotional nature in a way she hadn't realised. It had been a catharsis, a shield that had privately protected her emotions, had been breached and it no longer mattered to try and hide them. Sarah's impact on her life had been greater than she had realised at the time.

When Nadia came along, Lauren was ready to commit to a relationship. Nadia was younger, full of youthful energy, and she was like fresh air. Lauren fell for the simplicity the relationship held and believed this could be a relationship that would endure. She never had the chance to know if that would have been the case. Only six months into the relationship, the Congo changed everything, and Nadia was lost to her for 5 years. Lauren effectively shut down.

Then there was Bo. Nothing Lauren had experienced up to that point, had prepared her for Bo.

Bo was vibrant, passionate, compassionate; at times she was like a runaway freight train. She was safety, she was danger; she was predictable, she was unpredictable. She was innocence, she was wise. She was simple, she was complex. She was dark and light. She was fearless. She was emotion and love, and in that respect she was all or nothing; no half measures given.

And Lauren loved her beyond her own understanding of that emotion. It was no longer within her control and that terrified her. It was so strong that what Lauren hadn't been able to do for Sarah and Nadia she had known without question she would have done for Bo. She'd have ended her life, rather than see her misery and suffering as a devolved Fae, and Lauren would have done it as much for herself to end the pain of seeing Bo that way.

But Lauren couldn't keep on living this way, in this life. She was so very tired. She was now sobbing uncontrollably, emotionally spent.

She felt herself being lifted from the floor, and carried. She didn't know who it was and she didn't care.

The softness of her bed was welcome and her body melted into it. She felt a soothing hand stroke her hair then her face, then felt her shoes being removed.

Lauren finally cried herself into exhausted sleep.

When Lauren woke up, her body felt heavy from sleeping too long. She cracked open her eyes; they felt sore and puffy from crying. She looked at the bedside clock and was surprised to see the time. She'd only slept a straight 8 hours, though it felt longer, but she realised she had slept deeply, not able to recall any dreams.

She then realised she was actually under the bed cover, and when she moved, she was aware that her clothes had been removed, and she was just wearing her underwear and t-shirt.

She sat up, rubbed her eyes, and stretched her back. She threw the cover off then slowly swung her legs out of bed. Grabbing her robe from a chair she put it on and padded down to the living area.

She noticed the familiar figure from behind as they sat on the couch. They appeared to be reading something on her laptop, and as Lauren neared, she could see what was holding their interest; medals were laid out on the coffee table.

Lauren stood still for a moment, not sure whether to announce she was there, but then Bo suddenly turned and saw her.

Bo rose quickly and came to her. "Hey you! How are you feeling?" she smiled.

"Okay," Lauren attempted to smile, reassure Bo that she was okay.

"You look worn out. Come and sit." Bo took her hand and made her sit down.

"Are you hungry? Can I get you anything?"

"Tea would be nice." Lauren said. She felt thirsty and her stomach growled.

"I'll fix you some eggs and toast, too." Bo told her.

Lauren relaxed into the couch, her head back, eyes closed.

In a short while, Bo was back with a large mug of tea, a pile of toast and a bowl of scrambled eggs.

At first Lauren didn't think she could stomach the eggs, but she forked in a mouthful and bit into some toast and felt better.

Bo was watching her closely. "You left in a hurry last night. I woke up at Trick's and you weren't there. I was worried. Is everything okay?"

Lauren didn't answer right away; she just chewed on the toast. "I was feeling a little tired. I knew you'd be okay, with the others to look out for you."

Bo gently rubbed her leg. "I missed not seeing your face when I woke up. I've been getting used to that lately." She said. She looked so happy.

Lauren suddenly lost her appetite. They needed to talk about things.

"You know, I couldn't have got through the Dawning without your support. I'm so lucky to have you. You're amazing. And incredibly brave, more than I'd realised!"

Bo indicated the medals.

"Kenzi told me about these. Why didn't you ever say anything?"

"It was a long time ago now." Lauren said it like it didn't matter.

Bo looked at her in disbelief. "Has the Light Fae known?"

"I'm pretty sure they found out or were informed at some point."

"Lauren, why are you being so blasé about this?" Bo's eyes widened.

"Because as I said at the time, I didn't want any fuss."

It had been true. When Lauren had returned home, she'd been informed of the medals she would be awarded. The Canadian media had got wind of it, but she had declined to comment. Her father had summed up her feelings in a statement to the press, after they had started to hound her parents.

"We are incredibly proud of our daughter, and it's no surprise knowing her nature to have taken extraordinary steps to ensure the safety of the casualties in her care. But Lauren's quiet modesty won't allow her to take credit for her actions on that day. She is fully aware of the many acts of bravery and heroism she had witnessed during her time in Afghanistan, and would rather the media's attention be focused on those extraordinary men and women who proudly continue to serve their countries."

With Lauren still declining to comment publicly, the media had given up, and she was able to return to her love of medicine unhindered.

"You didn't want any fuss?" Bo couldn't believe it. She picked up one of the medals. "This is the Cross of Valour! The second highest award of Canada!"

Bo placed it back down, and picked up another one. "This? US Secretary Of The Army for Valour Award, to acknowledge acts of heroism and bravery!"

"And this," Bo picked up the last one. "This is the British George Cross! The highest gallantry award for civilians and military personnel."

Bo read from the laptop; "awarded in recognition of acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger."

Bo stared at Lauren. "And I had to read about all these, to figure out what the hell they meant!" She then picked up some letters. "And these citations? They told me what you did to get them! Whoever Lt Colonel Peters was, the guy was all over you to even get the US Medal Of Honour, but that can only be awarded to Military personnel. That guy's citation was the most incredible thing I've ever read!"

Bo was out of breath from incredulity.

Lauren just sipped her tea.

"You don't even want to talk about this?" Bo asked shocked.

"Not right now, sweetie, no."

Bo shook her head and threw up her arms in defeat. She narrowed her eyes and looked at Lauren.

"There's something on your mind though, right? Something you do want to talk about?"

Lauren half smiled, Bo could tell when Lauren was struggling over something.

"I need a break, form all this, the Fae…"

Bo interrupted. "Then take one, we'll go away for a while…."

"Hale won't agree to it."

"Says who?"

"Hale!" Lauren answered. "He's already been throwing his weight around, and telling me exactly where I belong!"

"What?" Bo's voice grew angered. "You leave Hale to me, I'll kick his scrawny little ass…"

"Bo," Lauren reached for Bo's hand. "It's not just the Fae. I think I need a break from us."

Bo's mouth gaped open.

"These last few years, I've not really known which way was up, or my head from my ass! I've tried my best to adapt to this world I've come to know, and despite all that, even an opportunity to leave after Lochlyn, I chose to stay. It's like classic Stockholm Syndrome! I can't leave my captors. There's a sense of safety in staying, I can lose myself in my work! And I stayed for you; I stayed for hope, for a chance. I stayed for love."

Bo finally spoke. "You're saying you don't love me after all?" she sounded wounded.

"No, I love you very much, too much." Lauren gently stroked Bo's cheek. "But I'm not sure we can last. There's too much against us."

"No, we can make this work!" Bo pleaded. "I know things have not been great, and I've not been my usual self, but I'm okay now. I've survived the Dawning, things will get better, I promise!"

Lauren sighed. "We can't survive on promises, Bo. They lead to disappointment."

"What do you mean?" Bo asked.

"Just a few hours ago, you sucked the energy out of people you care about, including mine, to save Dyson. I saw the look of joy on your face when he breathed again."

"Lauren, that didn't mean what you think. He sacrificed himself to help me through it, I owed him; he's my best friend!"

"And he'll go on sacrificing for you, Bo! That's how much he loves you!"

Lauren stood up to put distance between them.

"You want to break up, because of Dyson?" Bo half laughed.

"If he hadn't gone to the Norn, would you have been in it with him for the long haul?"

Bo stood up to the challenge. "Probably! But that was his choice and none of that matters now. I don't care about that anymore!"

"But you should, Bo. He can give you what I can't!"

"You do!" Bo moved towards her, but Lauren stepped back to halt her advance.

"Bo, face reality sweetie. I can't give you all you need. And you can't give me what I want."

Bo stalled and she almost stumbled forward. She stood waiting for Lauren to explain.

"I want it all Bo, but I want too much, I want what you can't give me. I want all of you. I don't want to share you. I want us to have kids, I want us to grow old together, but that will only happen to me. I want to be the last person in your life, but your longevity will mean they'll be others after I'm gone, and they'll probably be Fae, someone you can grow old with."

Lauren's voice cracked, but she gathered her strength to continue.

"It's never being sure about a future. That dormant power of yours, what it could lead to, the danger it might bring you. I die a little every time you walk out that door, because I never know if it will be the last time I see you! There are so many enemies in the Fae world, Light and Dark that are out to harm you, and the crazy thing is, you're safer in it, because I dread to think what the human world would have done to you, if they'd ever discovered you!"

Lauren stopped for a moment, her body shaking with emotion. She saw tears welling up in Bo's eyes.

"I'm so tired, Bo." Lauren's resolve started to wane. Her mouth trembled and her voice became quieter. "I don't know what's real. I can't tell if I imagine half the things I see, or they've actually happened. I just want a normal life, a real one, but I don't think I know what that is anymore! I feel alone and lost."

Lauren tried to swallow down the lump in her throat. She closed her eyes forcing her tears to flow down her cheeks.

The next thing she knew she was being held tightly in Bo's arms.

"I'm sorry," Bo whispered. She kissed Lauren's forehead. "You are the bravest person I know. And I have no idea how you have survived this."

Lauren held on to her, comforted by the support.

"But I am not prepared to let us go." Bo added.

Lauren pulled back to look at her. "Please, Bo, I can't do this anymore." Lauren begged.

"Then don't. Don't do anything. Let me take care of things, let me make this work. I'll make it right because I love you too much too see you in pain."

"It won't matter, none of its real." Lauren tried to get Bo to see sense.

Bo's response was to kiss her.

Lauren moaned against Bo's lip, before Bo pushed against Lauren's with her tongue. The kiss was deep and sensual and passionate and Lauren felt its full effect, as she always did, as it settled in an aching throb.

Bo parted from the kiss, and softly whispered in her ear. "Now tell me that wasn't real."

Bo then took Lauren's hand, and placed it against her breast so Lauren could feel her heartbeat.

"And tell me this isn't real," Bo said. "That holds all my love for you, and that's as real as anything I know. You make my life real, Lauren. And I want the same things you want. And I will do whatever it takes, to make our life together as real as possible, I promise that. I'm not going anywhere, and I won't let you give up on us, because I am in this for the long haul."

Lauren knew the sensible thing to save her sanity would be to walk away. But she knew she never would be able to. Before her stood the most remarkable person she had ever met, whom she would love till the end, and whatever doubts Lauren had, she knew Bo would make sense of it all, and she would keep good to her promise.

Whatever reality really was, her best, and only shot at it, would always be with Bo.

The End

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