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Generated: Jul 19, 2019 9:43 AM
Post last updated: Jul 19, 2019 9:43 AM
satellite heart, lost in the dark
flo and sarah in aurum
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It's an awkward hike and she may have over-packed. But she really didn't want to leave any of her sketchbooks. Or her charcoals, pencils, acrylics... okay she definitely over-packed. It doesn't really bother or exert her. Her werewolf super-strength is good for something. But her backpack is definitely feeling the strain. It was already pretty worn before, but now she can almost hear the stitches stretching.

Also she has mud on her runners and her socks are soaked. Not a good feeling.

And she has no idea where she is. Which is kinda exciting and also terrifying. At least she's lost in the middle of nowhere though. The alternative is worse.

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Sarah keeps walking, and walking, and walking until nightfall. And then walks some more. She really is in the middle of nowhere. Which is also really good because it's very unlikely her aunt will find her out here.

...she stops suddenly and blinks. Totally thrown out of her thoughts.

Before her stands -- ish -- a house. Here in the middle of freaking nowhere.... which kind of makes sense since it also seems to be in very very need of repair. She thinks some of the roof has collapsed a little. But it's also huge, so the rest of the house might be... habitable?

She really really hopes it is, because her feet are freezing and so is the rest of her body. And she probably has a cold. She didn't even know she could get a cold. Werewolf with a cold. Sniffles McFluff.

Okay -- she really needs to get inside right now. She's probably delirious.

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There's something on the air, coming from the house. Like once upon a time there was something burning. 

Below all of that, something she hasn't smelled before.

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Well, the fact she smells burning doesn't bode well. And the other smell... weird mould? Ugh. She has no idea.

She's cold and sick and she can smell a storm of the horizon. She'll just have to suck it up. It's not like it can kill her. Probably. Maybe.

She goes inside.

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There is absolutely no evidence that anyone has lived here for some time, but there are some things that mean someone was here recently. Someone had definitely passed through, leaving that 'weird mould smell'.

In a hallway near the back, there is a door left ajar. Below seems to be the source of the smells.

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Sarah really doesn't want to go check it out. Really doesn't. But if someone is living here...

She cracks open the door slowly. "Creature from the Black Lagoon? This place isn't really lagoon-y, y'know."

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A soft noise, like someone startled, but then tried to make it like they hadn't moved.

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She doesn't open the door any more and stays where she is.

"Uh -- okay. Sorry about this. I didn't actually think anyone was living here. I was just really cold. And this place is kind of the only place around for miles."

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"You need to go," says a voice. A man, probably not much older than Sarah. 

He sounds terrified.

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-- worrying.

"Are you okay? You... smell kind of sick. Which is a weird thing to say, but."

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A sick sounding, bitter laugh. "Sick is one word for it."

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Creepy!

"Do you need help?"

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Yes.

"Don't come down here!" His voice is panicked at the idea.

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"Okay. I'll stay up here, I promise. We can just talk? My name is Sarah."

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"You're still in danger up there. I can smell you."

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"Right back at you, dude. But I can take care of myself."

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The voice is quieter this time. "Not from me."

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"Unless you have super-strength too, I kinda doubt that."

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There is silence for a long moment. Complete silence, she can't even hear breathing.

And then, finally: "You don't smell like a vampire."

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"Uh... because I'm totally not a vampire. Are you a vampire? Vampires exist?"

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"You- you're not here to-"

Silence for a moment. 

"They are. I didn't know till about two weeks ago. I don't blame you for not knowing."

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"....you didn't know they existed because you weren't one before."

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An anguished sound, like he was trying to cry but couldn't. 

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She wants to go to him, but she doesn't dare. Instead she sits down next to the door and hugs herself.

"I'm a werewolf. That's where my strength comes from. When I was five this -- monster -- attacked me. He bit me."

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So quiet, that if Sarah didn't have enhanced hearing, she would've missed it: "A monster bit me too."

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"He left me there to die. Bleeding out in my backyard. If my aunt hadn't been there, saved me..." Her breath is ragged, but she pushes on. "The first full moon afterwards was the worst pain of my life. The transformation..."

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"I can't speak for the pain of being a werewolf. Clearly I won't ever know that.

But the transformation pain...yes."

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"You survived. We survived. In the face of... everything. Let me help you."

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"You did. And you will have a full life. You will find happiness."

He wouldn't.

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"I'm lost in the middle of nowhere with wet socks and a cold. Yup. This is the life."

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Was that a nearly-genuine laugh? "A slight blip for you. Cold, wet, and in a house with a vampire."

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A laugh! "Things are only getting better. Does the vampire have a name?"

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"I-"

...

"Florenzo."

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"Pretty name. Mine is boring compared to that. Sarah Kyle. I don't know if you could get a more common name."

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"Sarah's a lovely name. Simple. My mum had a tendency for the dramatic."

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"I've been accused of that too. It's incurable, unfortunately. Or fortunately."

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"Runs in the family for the Tabris'."

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"Florenzo Tabris. It's a pleasure to meet you. Dramatics and all."

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"Friends call me Flo."

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"Flo. I like that. People mostly call me 'Sarah', but I happen to be in the market for an exclusive friend nickname. Any ideas?"

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Silence, though a thoughtful kind.

"Sare-bear?"

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She bursts out in giggles.

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"Had a cousin with that nickname. Sarah's far too common, you know? I've never met another Florenzo."

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"Maybe in Italy? It sounds Italian."

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"Don't think I'll make it out there any time soon."

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"I'm pretty sure you have time. And I've just made a new friend, so I'm not going anywhere either."

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"You should go."

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"Probably. But I've never been accused of making sensible decisions. For one, I have nowhere to go. Running away from home and all."

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"Nothing stopping you from running a little further."

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"Wet socks."

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That same, bitter laugh from before. 

"Would rather have wet socks or your life?"

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"You really think you could take me? The girl who has been a werewolf for thirteen years?"

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More of those anguished not-crying sounds.

"I've already killed someone stronger. I- fuck-"

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"Were they... were they the one that made you a vampire?"

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The sound he made-

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Sarah is silent for a long time. Thinking and just breathing.

"I'm not leaving. I want to help you. Whatever that means."

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"I am just like him. You'd do better to leave."

He sounds broken.

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"You're not a monster. He changed your body, but he can't change who you are. Florenzo Tabris. I've known you for a moment and I know that with my whole being."

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"He killed me. He changed me. He made me like him."

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"We are not what they are. We are not monsters They can never change us like that." She stands, opens the door and starts walking down the staircase. "I'll prove it."

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"NO!" The voice is terrified, and there's a sound, like he was pushing himself as far away as possible.

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"I'm sorry, but you're wrong. I'm not going anywhere." She settles at the bottom of the stairs and looks across the room and into the darkness. "Flo."

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In the furthest corner, Flo. A skinny, young man, with blond hair. 

He has forced himself as far into the corner as he could go, and his entire body is shaking. "Go, go, go, I won't- I won't hurt anyone else, please!"

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"You're not going to hurt me."

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"You don't know that."

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"I'm right about most things, as you'll come to learn."

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"Sarah...please.."

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"Trust me. Trust yourself. You can do this."

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Flo tenses. She doesn't fucking know him, doesn't know the first thing he did when he woke was to kill Anders. He could turn and kill her right now. She doesn't know that!

Fine. She wants to see? He'll show her. 

"Sarah," he says, and turns. 

And his entire world changes.

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She...she's everything.

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She laughs and blushes a little at his staring. "Am I allowed to say 'I told you so?'"

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He doesn't know what to say. What do you say the a person who has become your sun?

"You-"

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"The one and only."

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"How are you doing this?"

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"Pretty sure this is all you, Flo."

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"It's like the world was black and white and you brought in colour. I am not doing this."

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That... makes no sense.

"I don't know what you mean?"

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"You are-" 

Anders' voice. I know it's confusing, but when you've turned you'll feel it too. We're meant to be.

"No. NO! I WON'T." Flo flung himself into the wall. The plaster cracked around him.

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She wants to go him, reach out and help. "Flo, stop. Please."

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"Sarah, run. Please. This is what he did, he saw me like this and he wouldn't let me go- I won't. I won't be him!"

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"I'm not going anywhere. I don't know what's going on, but I'm not leaving you like this."

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"You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," he sobs.

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"I'll hurt you. I can only hurt you."

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"That's not going to happen. For one thing, it's really hard to hurt me. And for another... I kind of doubt you could hurt a fly right now. Strength wise."

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"You don't know what I'm capable of."

He looked around to see her, and his body crumpled. "You're so beautiful."

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"You make it sound like a bad thing."

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"He-"

God. How could Flo blame Anders for what he did, if this is how he felt?

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"Do you want to hurt me?"

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"No!"

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"Then I trust you. And you can't convince me to leave. I'm staying right here."

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Flo huddles into the corner, purposefully not looking at her. 

"I don't trust myself. How can you trust me?"

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She sits down where she is and crosses her legs.

"I don't know. I just... have a feeling. And you're my friend. I've never really had a friend before."

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"You've decided that rather quickly," Flo says, leaning back into the wall, looking away from her. 

His friends are probably sick with worry. He's not sure how long he's been sitting here.

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"It's kind of a trend with me. I trust my gut. Hasn't steered me wrong yet."

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"First time for everything."

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"Maybe. But I'm willing to take that chance."

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"On me?"

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"Who else is there?"

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"You are really striking me as someone who makes poor decisions."

The corner of his mouth twitches with an attempted smile.

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She laughs and smiles at him.

"I wouldn't say that. Having you as my friend is worth all the trouble in the world."

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Flo laughs self-deprecating me. "We'll see. You don't actually know me yet."

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"Floenzo Tabris. Flo to his friends. Loves him mum so much. I'm pretty sure he has siblings. A bunch of cousins, probably. Big family. Has a great sense of humour not so very well buried. He's a good person. A good friend. Really cares about people." She pauses and smiles cheekily. "Doesn't like green vegetables? Hates custard. Wants a spring wedding. On the beach. By an Elvis impersonator..."

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There's a moment when Flo doesn't move. 

But then he looks up, and there is a smile. "I love green vegetables. Don't you slander me like that."

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"What, even brussels sprouts?" She looks aghast.

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"My sister's vegetarian. She does things with brussel sprouts you wouldn't believe."

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"I'll believe it when I see it. Have many siblings do you have?"

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"Two. Anwen is older, Eddie is younger."

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"I'm an only child. Well, probably. I'm not really sure. I was adopted."

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"Have you ever thought about finding your biological family?"

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"I've thought about it, but I don't really see the point in it. Maybe they gave me up for a reason. And I also don't really have any feelings about them one way or another. Mysterious figures as they are."

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"Maybe they got turned into vampires."

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"That would be a twist. Suddenly everyone is vampires."

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"You go from not knowing about them to hey, everyone you know is a vampire."

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"It's such a cliché. Like we're the protagonists in some sort of teen romance novel."

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"Or the start of a terrible joke. A vampire and a werewolf walk into a basement-"

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"Doesn't sound so terrible to me. Well... I suppose when the basement is as run down as this one."

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"It was this run down when I...got here."

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"You mentioned two weeks?"

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"I guessed. I don't actually know what day it is. You can't see the sun down here."

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"I'm pretty sure it's the 8th. Friday."

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"Friday?" 

What day was he taken again? Has he been sitting here a whole week? 

Then a cold feeling takes his gut. "Of what month?"

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Uh. "It's April. 1994."

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"What!?"

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"...three years?"

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"But you said two weeks."

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"Three years," Flo whispers. 

Then, like a puppet with its strings cut, he slumps against the wall.

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Sarah rushes forward in a moment and is at his side. She doesn't know what to do, or what to say. But she can be here. By his side.

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Flo doesn't move. There's an absence in his eyes, like something has gone out behind them.

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Sarah sits by him for hours. She talks to him. Telling him about her life, school, people she wants to befriend. She doesn't get much into her home life. But. Enough.

She reads to him. Her battered copy of Hamlet. Henrik Ibsen. Though she apologises for the morbidity.

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If she didn't know he was a vampire, she might've been concerned by the fact he does not move at all. 

As such, he leans against the wall, somehow both slumped and stiff.

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She... is still really concerned. Especially when the hours roll on and turn into days.

"Flo. Please. Talk to me. Tell me what I can do. Anything."

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And yet, still no response.

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-- she reaches out to him, to his hand and takes it in her own.

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It's cold, and stiff. 

But his fingers twitch against hers, as if about to curl around her hand too.

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"I think.... you're a vampire now. And if I'm up on my folklore -- or pop culture -- You need blood. I don't think going three years without it is good."

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Flo offers no additional information.

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"I don't actually have a convenient bag of blood in my backpack. But. I do heal really quickly."

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...was that a small movement?

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"-- I can do this, Flo."

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He shudders, just the smallest bit.

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"Is there another way?"

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Something brightens a little in his eyes.

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"I could hike back to a town, find a hospital? Though. Do you need human blood, or..." she's really thinking aloud at this point. "I definitely smelled some foxes in the woods on my way here."

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"Did you...seriously offer me your own blood?"

It's the first thing he's said in days.

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She takes his hand again. "You didn't move or respond to anything for three days, Flo."

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Before her hand makes contact with his, suddenly Flo is on the other side of the room, braced against the wall, staring at her with terrified, black eyes. 

"Don't- don't."

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"I'm sorry. I won't touch you again. But you need blood. If not mine then someones else's."

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"I've made it this long."

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"This isn't living. You can't continue like this."

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"I'm not even alive."

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"Bullshit. You're different now, yes. But you'll still alive. As much as I am. I don't care if your heart doesn't beat. It still works. You still feel and think and love. Nobody can change that. Not ever."

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Why do you care, he thinks exasperatedly, while also knowing that he was deeply and tortuously in love with her.

"I am not going to eat anything living."

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If she kills it and drains it herself... "I'll bring it to you in a glass container."

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"I-" Flo makes a bitten off, frustrated noise. "So you're going to go and kill someone and then bring me the blood? Like a weird, blood stealing assassin?"

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"I was more thinking foxes. I don't really think I'm sneaky enough to be a successful human blood thief. But if that doesn't work, I know a few guys that might be able to help me get human blood. Pretty sure not all blood that gets donated can be used."

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Flo's silent for a minute, contemplating. Then: "Would you be safe? If you did that?"

She's mentioned blood enough times now that he can feel the burning thirst back in his throat.

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"They can hurt me, but I heal too fast for that to matter at all. But I don't think it's going to come to that. It's safe." Ish. So long as her aunt doesn't find her.

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"If you're not completely sure, then it's not worth it." 

He just got her, he wasn't going to lose her. Not that she was his to lose...or gain.

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"I'm sure, I can do this."

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Flo looked at her for a long moment, warring with himself over the need for blood vs the letting her risk herself for him, but his thirst won out in the end. God. How fucking awful. 

"I- I'd appreciate it, Sarah."

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She smiles at him, happy to help.

"I'm totally getting you a whole new wardrobe too. Unless you have one hidden around here somewhere and the dirt and rags look is just to impress me."

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The smile was slight, and maybe brittle, but it was there. "I haven't exactly moved in three years."

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"So it's totally out of season -- or whatever the term is. Not that I know much about fashion. My clothes are probably fourth generation hand-me-downs."

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"Let me know if tye-dye is making the rounds again?"

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"I'm pretty sure that's a challenge. Operation: Find Flo A Tye-Dye Shirt. You'll be the envy of all vampires everywhere."

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"I'll be pretty happy if I never see another vampire again, but it wouldn't hurt to look cooler than them, should they come around."

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"You're already cooler than most people, so that shouldn't be too hard."

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"You definitely have me beat on that front."

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"It's a hard life, being cooler than cool. And I'm sure to never abuse my privilege. I only hope you will follow my good example."

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"You're already a very patient teacher. Can't imagine it was fun sitting next to a vampire for three days while he disassociates."

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"Gotta catch up on my reading some time. Keep my brain healthy."

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Flo laughs. "Exercising the mind!"

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"I probably should get going soon... though I have no idea what time it is."

And she hasn't actually slept for three days.

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"Did you not...leave? At all? While I was-"

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"There is a bathroom upstairs, but otherwise, yeah. I can stay awake a really long time. Werewolf perk."

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“You should probably get some sleep before you do anything.”

Especially not this thing for me. 

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"Will you watch out for me? I've seen some pretty creepy crawlies around."

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“I promise. As the creepiest crawly in here, the rest ain’t got nothing on me.”

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Oh no, he's cute. Sarah already knew that. But now he brain is screaming it. She can feel her face heating up in a blush.

Instead of replying, she smiles and grabs her sleeping bag out of it's slip, lays it out and lies down.

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Flo tucks his knees under his chin, hugging his legs. He watches her carefully. 

Like it was at all possible to look away. 

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She settles and smiles at him softly.

"I'm glad I met you, Flo. And I'm going to help you. No matter what."

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Flo smiles, but doesn’t say anything. 

He knows a few ways she can help him, and two of them he did to Anders. 

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It doesn't take her long to fall asleep, a few minutes, though her thoughts are filled with a lot of thoughts. Mostly to do with him.

Good thoughts. Hopeful. Maybe things will be okay now.

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If Flo were still human, he would probably shift around, feel the need to move, do something. 

As he is not, he simply sits and watches, listening for anything approaching. He hears nothing, and so can study Sarah’s sleeping face in peace. Well. Outward peace, until she awakes. 

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Sarah sleeps around four hours, then is abruptly awake, blinking in a little bit of surprise and fear (?). Confused about where she is. But it only takes her a moment to remember, too see the door open at the top of the stairs. She's not trapped. She can leave and return and no one can stop her.

She sits up and stretches a little, smiling at him. "Next time I might need something a little softer to sleep on."

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“I can’t help you there,” Flo says on a laugh. 

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"Have you checked out the rest of the house?"

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“I’ve been too busy brooding.”

He could ask, he supposes, what set her heart racing like that, what made her stare in alarm at the open door. But he doesn’t want to push, feeling this thing between them was still too fragile. 

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"I'm pretty sure you're a master at it by now. World Class. Reigning champion."

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“Well, I’d like to see someone with my level of practice.”

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"Gonna add that to the challenge board, honourable rival."

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“When you spend three years in a basement without realising, call me.”

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"I definitely will. We can spend the time brooding together. Brooding and bonding."

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“At least that way I’ll have you beat, your three years to my six! Haha, even when I lose I win.”

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"Damn it, all my stunning plans have been foiled. How will I ever live with myself?"

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“With grace and humility, I’m sure.”

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"Doesn't really sound like me at all. I'm way too dramatic for that."

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“You’re in good company, then.”

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"Seems like we were destined to meet then. To try to out drama each other."

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“Pretty sure I’ve got you beat, Sare.”

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"For now, sure. But I'm coming for your brand." She scoots out of the sleeping bag and stands up, stretching some more. "Is it daytime?"

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Flo shrugs. "No idea. Was it daytime when you got here?"

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"Nope. Was around two in the morning."

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“Well. There’s one way to find out if the sun’s up.”

He points upwards. 

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"Do you want to come up with me? Well, probably not in the sun... that's probably a fire hazard."

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“I-“

He seems to shrink against the wall. “I don’t know. I haven’t been upstairs in three years, apparently.”

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She listens carefully, straining her hearing to upstairs and the surrounding area.

"We're pretty well in the middle of nowhere. Nobody around for a long while. It'll be safe."

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“The smells are weaker down here.”

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"It's a good place to start. And I'll be right beside you."

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“I’ll- I’ll stay down here. I’ll be here when you come back.”

Flo smiles. 

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"Okay. I don't really know how long I'll be, I can get there pretty fast if I shift, but I'm not really sure how long it will take to get the blood."

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“I’m not going anywhere.” This time, Flo’s smile is bright, and almost...adoring?

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Still cute. Though a little confusing.

"Would you like to see the transformation? It does involve me undressing, but. I don't really want to destroy this outfit."

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“Oh, I’ll, uh. Um. I’ll just...look at this very interesting wall.” 

He turns away, very purposefully. 

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"There are going to be a few pretty concerning noises," she says as she undresses. "It's not exactly an instant painless magical transformation."

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“I will try to not defend your honour from yourself.”

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"'preciate it."

She finishes undressing, takes a deep breath and closes her eyes. Then leans into the part of herself she is always holding back.

-- ugly, painful cracks -- bones breaking, Sarah breathing harshly and grunting, holding in the pain. She's used to this, forced to practice over and over and over --

It doesn't take her long, maybe ten or fifteen seconds.

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She stands up on all fours, finally finished.

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Flo winces with every crack-

but once it's over, he looks back over and smiles. "Fluffy."

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Her tail wags and she looks pleased. Well, as pleased as a wolf can look.

She's tempted to offer pets, but his reaction to touching was bad before, so she just gives him a wolfy smile and mentally reassures him she will be back soon.

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"Have you, uh, got a clear path? Or- can you open doors on your own?"

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If she were human, she would be laughing.

Instead she runs up the stairs and opens the door easily.

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Flo laughs, and then curls up to wait for her.

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-- and she's gone.

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Flo zips to the wall facing the stairs, and settles in to wait for her to come back.

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Time goes on. Hours pass.

Days.

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The first day, Flo was patient. The house, after all, was in the middle of nowhere. It would take some time to get to anywhere with a blood bank and back. 

The second day, Flo was worried. There was so much that could've happened to her, that he could've protected her from if he had just gone with her. 

The third day, Flo managed to make it up to the last two steps, before he was overwhelmed with the smells, the pain of going up there-
And so he just went back to the wall, leaning against it, telling himself to be okay with the fact that she had gone. It was the right decision, after all. 

Then the blankness took back over.

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-- he smells blood.

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Flo jerks upright, eyes wide. 

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Sarah sits a few metres away, holding a bag of blood in her hand. Flo can see that's she's a little bruised, her lip is split and the bags under her eyes need their own passport, but she smiles at him softly when their eyes meet.

"Hey there, stranger. Miss me?"

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Yes, so much, but what the hell happened?” 

He wants to go for the blood, the smell is so tempting, but the state of Sarah’s face has made him almost nauseous with worry. 

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She throws him the bag.

"Explanation later, drink -- eat, whatever -- first."

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He does, and... 

Wow. He really didn’t consider how bad his thirst actually was. And the blood- weird that he’s drinking someone’s actual blood, his rational brain says- quenches it far better than water ever did when he was alive. 

He stops himself before he starts licking the inside of the bag. 

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-- she throws him another bag.

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Flo catches it. “You really came back prepared, didn’t you?”

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"Well, figured I should go all out. Couldn't do any less. Not for you."

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Flo looks up at her in wonder for a moment. “For me,” he repeats quietly. 

Then he busies himself with draining the second bag. 

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He feels much better. Stronger, even. He tosses the empty bag away, and then zips forward, closer to Sarah, but still with some space between them. 

"Now. Please. Tell me what happened." The words feel strange in his mouth.

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Sarah blinks, and leans closer to him, drawn to him and his words. She should tell him everything.

"My aunt caught me when I got back into town. Forced me to go back to her house, locked me up. I broke out though. Kinda hurt myself in the process. The cage is supposed to keep me in, but only really during the full moon when I have no human mind."

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"She does what!?" The words don't have that same strange feeling in his mouth, but he barely takes note of that, suddenly and completely furious that anyone dared to keep Sarah from him- 

and to lock her up?

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"I'm a mindless beast during the full moon. The cage is so I don't hurt or kill anyone..."

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"Did you choose that, though? Were you given any other options?"

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"What other options are there?"

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"There has to be a better way than forcing you into it. There has to be. You said she forced you."

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"It's not the full moon. I had to help you. But eventually... it always ends that way. I run away, the full moon approaches, and I always end up crawling back to her and that cage. I hate it. But --"

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"Then don't go back."

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She hesitates.

"It's a lot. I'm strong. Maybe even stronger than you are. And I'm completely without humanity. If I hurt you. Or someone else..."

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"So we'll find a way to keep you safe- keep others safe, if that's what you're worried about- here. Don't go back.

"Please."

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She looks at him for a very long time. Even after only knowing him for a short time... she trusts him. Believes him.

"Okay."

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Relief makes him smile so hard. 

“What do you need? Is there something we could put down here to tempt your...bigger wolf?”

He bounces up onto his feet.

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"Like some sort of yummy chew toy?"

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“Well, as long as that’s not me?”

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"Not my first choice. You were all stony, before."

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"Stony?" Flo pushes a thumb into his wrist. The skin moves easily, it feels normal except for how cold it is.

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"I guess it would feel different to you. I might feel very delicate, in comparison."

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He supposed she might, were he actually able to reach out across that small distance and touch her. 

"Yeah, well. I haven't really tested the limits of my strength." Except for ripping Anders apart.

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"Usually we try to sedate me, but I'm not sure we can do that here."

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"How do you sedate a wolf?"

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"Elephant tranquilizers, pretty much. A lot of them."

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"Jesus." Flo runs a hand over his face. "I would really rather we didn't do that."

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"I'm not sure where'd be get it anyway. My aunt usually does that."

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"Can we just,  I don't know, shut you down here and wait? Without tranquillisers and locks and bars?"

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"I'll get out. This place isn't really Fort Knox. We're pretty far away from everything, but I'm fast."

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"Yes, but this is underground. We give you no way out, maybe reinforce the door, or take away the ladder, and it doesn't matter how fast you are, or how strong. No way out."

Flo blanches then, feeling a little sick. He's just trapping her a different way. 

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Sarah nods and tries a reassuring smile.

"Let's try it. I've never had a you with me before. Maybe it will make a difference."

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"At the very least, this will be an actual choice. Your choice. No more locking you in because you feel like you have to be."

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"It's a choice, yeah. Not really one I could make without you here though."

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Flo laughs, self-deprecatingly. "Yes, I have already drawn that comparison in my mind, me and your aunt."

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"I meant it in a positive way, Flo. I would go back to her if not for you. I always do."

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“Because she was the only one who knew?”

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"Because she raised me. Protected me. Kept people safe from me. I owe her." Love her.

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"You're not supposed to owe people anything who love you."

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"In theory. But it's a bit more complicated than that."

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Flo is silent for a long moment. And then-

“when- when you left. To get me blood. Your heart was beating so fast and I thought I...I could smell your fear. It’s a weird smell. Bitter, almost.”

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"Not afraid of you."

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Flo's lips quirk upwards. "No, but you seem to not have the best judgement with that."

His look darkens. "You're afraid of your aunt, aren't you?"

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"...I'm sorry. I'm still...I don't know how to interpret all the additional sensory input."