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1.

It was their fourth date, and Wren felt they both knew where it was going. It was quite funny, because she'd been completely sure there wouldn't be even the second one. Wren didn't date. Period. She had always considered it was for the best. After all, letting anyone near her would be the worst possible idea considering her life choices.

John was different though. It just clicked. Right then and there, in a small coffee shop where he approached her. She had a bedhead and wore glasses, for comfort reasons, contacts tended to eat at her eyeballs. She was reading a book and chewing at a scone, and he just blew her away. He was calm, polite and straightforward. He told her he found her very attractive, and he approved of her choice of a book. He said he almost never dated but for her he was ready to make an exception. She almost refused him, but something stopped her. It wasn't the looks, though there was nothing to complain about. He was tall, almost six five, large, wide, with an impressive mane of dark weaves scattered on his shoulders. She loved the blue eyes and the beautiful artistic wrists, long fingered hands, and an arse to die for. She decided to return the favour and explained to him that she never dated either, and if any, could spare him very little time. She gave him her usual explanation of working in a hospital and having a lot of night shifts. He nodded and explained that he worked in a network security firm, which meant he also had a lot of night shifts, consisting of sitting in front of a screen and reading lines and lines of code. She hardly understood anything from his explanation but somehow listening to him didn't bore her. Once again, it was perhaps for a very petty reason. He had the most beautiful of voices, low, velvet, perfectly articulated, with a slight irregularity in vowels due to his Northern accent.

Wren said yes. They had dinner and the most wonderful of conversations that just wouldn't end. They eventually separated, agreeing to text, and only when she fell on her bed, clutching her mobile in the hand, she realised that she hoped for a text right away. That was the first. And she also realised they didn't kiss. That was also the first. She had so little time for romance that if she ever ended up on a date with a bloke, she preferred to quickly turn it into a one-off. She had neither time, nor patience to wait for a bloke to call. The text came ten minutes later, and Wren felt giddy.

The second date ended with the most perfect of kisses. Somehow everything just came together. They were walking, the conversation sort of paused, and the silence was amazingly comfortable, snow was falling softly on their heads, and he looked very handsome in the light of streetlamps. She slipped, he caught her elbow. She winced from the fresh bruise on her ribs, but hoped he didn't notice. He supported her under the second elbow then, she lifted her eyes at him, and then he leaned in. There was a second there, when he seemed to let her decide, at the same time showing her how much he wanted it, and her feminist ideals cheered. Her mitt covered hand lay on his nape, and she pulled him down and to her lips. He was skillful, tender, and so mindblowingly fit, that in just a few seconds she was as much as hanging on him, he was wrapped around her. For the first time in her life, despite the height difference, she didn't feel suffocated when a pair of long strong arms enveloped her.

Date three was full of laughter and some endearing shyness. They pussyfooted around each other for a few seconds when they met. He first leaned in to her cheek, she tried to shift. They bumped their noses. Both laughed. Then she cupped his jaw and led him to her lips. Three minutes after, she realised they were kissing passionately in front of restaurant with their reservation. They laughed. With each new course it was becoming more and more obvious that they both were thinking of where they'd go after pudding.

She couldn't bring him to her place, but he didn't know that. She sipped her coffee and wondered how to delicately ask him whether she could come over to his place, when his mobile rang. He excused himself and stepped away from the table to take the call.

He had to leave, and she felt a rather sensitive pang of disappointment. It'd been awhile for her. The thing she had with the American fell apart fifteen months ago, and there was no one else since. She also thought that she might have been wrong but it felt as if she'd never wanted anyone so much as him.

Even more astonishingly, she actually loved talking to him. He had a dry sense of humour, odd at times, but somehow completely perfect for her. He was well read, witty, but not chatty. Wren didn't fancy chatty men.

This was date four, and she was still poking her salad, when he suddenly put down his spoon and exhaled sharply.

"Wren, could we leave?" John asked, and she suddenly realised that it'd been the best idea ever.

He hastily paid, and they rushed outside. The snow was swirling around in a thick flurry, and he suddenly pulled her to his lips.

"Wren..." he breathed out, and the kiss was deep, and passionate, and everything she dreamt of. "I never do that… But you are just so... " She smiled into his lips, and then he slightly moved away. "I'm sorry, but we can't go to my place. Among other things, it's just cluttered... and it's..." His pupils were dilated, lips swollen from her enthusiastic efforts, and he shook his head clearing his thoughts. He then cupped her face gently, and she as much as purred from the wonderful feeling of his scorching palms on her skin. "I don't want to seem manky, but can we find some nice B&B? I can pay, or we can share the expenses, and..." He was clearly uncomfortable, but she had to agree. It would be most convenient. All circumstances in mind.

Wren smiled to him and pulled him into another kiss. And then another.

"Sure, a B&B sounds rad."

***

She expected awkwardness and some other grotty feelings to kick in any moment, but it was just wonderful. They took a cab, they kissed at the back seat, and he helped her to climb out of it. With her hardly five three her feet tended to dangle and never reach the ground. They walked in, his arm wrapped around her shoulders, and instead of usual irritation from such gesture she felt warm and safe, and pressed into his side. They got the key and kissed some more in the lift.

The room was clean and cozy, they ordered some bites, she didn't drink, and he didn't want any. There was a fireplace, and they didn't turn on the light. Standing became uncomfortable, and he pulled her down in an armchair in front of fire. Sitting on his lap, wrapped in his arms, she fully enjoyed his lips, her fingers scraping at the coarse whiskers of his beard.

His hands were wandering and then he pulled at the hem of her top. And then she remembered about the bruises.

"Um… John?" He hummed into her neck, his lips tenderly brushing to her throat. "I'm afraid to ruin the mood, but there is this thing..." He slightly moved away and cocked an eyebrow questioningly. She properly fancied the eyebrow. "I have a bit of a complex, a hang up, and… Can we keep my vest on? I mean, you probably want access to..." She gestured around her tits, and he smirked.

"I do… But I also want you to feel comfortable." She exhaled and smiled to him. That was nice. His consideration was very nice.

She pushed her hands in his mane and doubled her efforts on his lips. A few ace minutes later he tore his mouth off hers.

"Actually… That reminds me..." He smiled to her a bit shy, lovely crow's feet running in the corners of his eyes. "I was an imbecile last week… You know, how I told you I play rugby? So my brother-in-law and I went for that game last week… Basically all my left side is one big bruise. Would that be OK?"

Wren quickly got over the coincidence, which wasn't a coincidence to think of it. She was always covered in bruises. She giggled.

"What do you mean, would it be OK? It's not like I'm buying an apple, and don't want a smashed side." He guffawed.

"No, you aren't." He leaned in and quickly kissed her lips. "We can close the door to the parlour and the bedroom will be dark, and..."

"Tough tits! I want to see!" Wren interrupted, and he guffawed again.

She did. She had a suspicion that under the soft cardigans and dull button-ups there was quite a nice body. He had a naturally wonderful build, wide shoulders, narrow hips, most deliciously shaped buttocks. He wasn't either lean or heavy, just the perfect balance. And her hands had wandered a bit already. There was definitely chest hair under the jumper and the shirt, she could feel the roughness through the clothes. She wanted to see, and touch, and taste.

She jumped off his lap, and grabbing his hand she led him to the bedroom. Clothes slid off, without haste but not too slowly. She remembered Durex, and he had some of his own. He wasn't cocky about it, a bit shy, but altogether it went very smoothly. She also thought of the right knickers, and the red lace seemed to properly work for him. Her bra and vest stayed, and he was so passionate, hot, and altogether magical that she even didn't feel pain when his large hand would brush over the battered ribs.

He was right. His left side was quite impressively purple. She flipped him on his back, her lips and hands exploring the chest and then the stomach, moving slower. She kept in mind to avoid touching the bruises, but he clearly didn't mind too much. After a few delicious moments he suddenly sat up jerkily and picked her up under her arms. She licked her lips and looked at him questioningly.

"It's been a while..." he rasped. "If you go on, I'll embarrass myself… And I want you…" She smiled to him widely. She properly enjoyed her previous oral efforts, though the task was rather labourious. His cock was large, thick, with a peculiar curve to it. Lovely indeed.

He rolled her underneath him, covering her body but not weighing on her too much. Her legs went around his hips, and she shifted her pelvis inviting him inside. He pushed in with a groan, and she arched on the bed with a loud moan.

He felt magnificent inside. Like he belonged.

"God, it's like it's been made for it..." he mumbled, and she laughed loudly. It felt so right and so hot, and she spurred him with her heels digging into his backside.

"Please, move..." she exhaled, and he did.

They were moving together, on the bed, and against each other, in a surprising for the first time accordance. She would gasp, and her hand slid on his back, he would thrust deeper and deeper, making her cry out in acute pleasure. Her nails dug into his back, and he found her lips, at the most perfect moment, just as she wanted a second before it.

She came with a loud unrestrained scream, and he followed in a couple seconds. His hips pumped into her, and she arched and spread her legs wider, taking him even deeper, and then her arms and legs went tightly around him, she pulled him in, clenching around him, prolonging the pleasure for both of them.

He stayed immobile for a few seconds, and then he fell on her making her puff air out.

"Sorry… Just a mo..." he mumbled into the pillow, and she stroked the back of his head, her hand full of his heavy silken strands. They were dark with the sexiest silver streaks on the temples and above his forehead. And then he moved off her carefully. His head was near hers on the pillow, and he turned and looked at her. She smiled to him, and he gently kissed her.

That night they went two more times, with a break for snacks, and a lot of talking, and it was probably close to dawn when she realised she could hardly keep her eyes open. They climbed under the duvet ,and she curled into him. It was so wonderfully natural, to sleep with him, no awkwardness, none of her usual desire to run from a man as if he were a carrier of Black Death.

It's been three months, and it's been pretty much the same. And that was ace. They went to cinema once, and watched a cartoon, since it was his job to check the schedule and he said he had, but he clearly hadn't. It was fun, and they kissed like teens in the theatre, and the cartoon was actually very nicely made. They went for ice cream once, and twice to a book shop. Wren sometimes would stop and just shake her head. It was almost impossible to believe. It was so not her. Her real life was different. It didn't involve kissing between bookshelves, sharing the last slice of a treacle tart, or waking up in someone else's arms, feeling pure and unadulterated happiness.

Four weeks after the first date the bruises on her torso healed a bit, and she told him she was comfortable enough with him to take off her top. It was only a half lie, she indeed had never felt so liberated with a man before. He seemed to be very chuffed with the advancement. After all, he seemed to be very much a tits man. Apparently hers were best he'd ever seen.

She had a funny feeling about never seeing his flat, but after a while he explained that he lived with his sister and her family, and she accepted the explanation. She said she had a flatmate.

She grew into a habit of carrying a toothbrush in her handbag. He had a mad schedule, she still used her usual excuse of night shifts in the hospital, but altogether they were somehow making it work.

2.

"What do you think of the whole superhero thing going on in the city?" Wren asked when they were soaking a large tub. She was rubbing his chest with her foot, and he had his head dropped back on the edge of the bath, eyes closed.

"What superhero thing?" he asked lazily, his hand stroking her knee.

"You know, they say that superhero, Black King has gone dark, after losing his sidekick, and the city is appealing to Golden Tide, that chick with golden ribbons shooting out of her hands, to hunt him down. I mean the bloke has been protecting this city for so long... "

He lifted his head and gave her an attentive look. She was chewing at her bottom lip, her face pensive, quite clearly speaking to herself.

"And what do you think?" John asked. She hummed distractedly, her small fingers dancing on her other knee, in her usual fidgety habit. Her unusual slanted eyes were narrowed, and he studied her face. The high cheekbones, currently flushed from the hot water and the very enthusiastic shag they had had on the floor of the B'n'B bathroom, her wide mouth, with curved bright red lips that drove him positively bonkers; her face was familiar, he had had a good look at it over the past months. And suddenly he just felt sort of wonky.

"Wren? What do you think of it?"

"Hm?" She blinked, shaking off her stupour, and then her face relaxed again. "To be honest, I don't think about it much… Just saw the article..." She pointed at the newspaper lying on a stool by the wall. He brought it with him and was reading the aforementioned article while filling the bath for them. And then she came in, and somehow the bed seemed too far.

Black King Rules No More? John had to agree, the title was pretty catchy. He pushed both hands under the bubbles and caught her legs. She squeaked, sounding very pleased, and he wiggled his brows, warning her. She visibly braced herself, and he pulled her towards him. She twisted and somehow still ended up straddling him, instead of spitting soapy water and flailing her arms helplessly. The usual nagging thought that she was way too fit for a night nurse flashed through his mind, but her hands were already sliding down, raking at his chest, and he stopped thinking. He caught the back of her head and pulled her to his lips.

***

Black King stepped on the roof, the long cloak thrashing in the wind. His movements were slightly stiff, four ribs slowly healing after the latest altercation with the goons of the Crimson Dragon. The posh wanker was once again after the chemical labs of the Erebor Inc., and Black King spent the last few nights hunting down the gangs of masked thugs.

He received the message from another vigilante, Golden Tide this morning. To be precise, she left him the coordinates and time, charred out on a billboard with her golden flame. He had always found her ability sort of… well, sexy. The ribbons of some strange golden energy would slither and hiss, weaving and blooming around her like a giant chrysanthemum. He had seen the ribbons burn through the thickest metal and rip car doors out.

She stepped out of the shadows, in her usual tight spandex, black and orange, the hood and the large goggles, covering the top part of her face, with a silk scarf covering the mouth. He suspected a voice modulator underneath it, and he was right.

"Alright, mate?" The voice was distorted but he could still catch the sexy purry intonations. He wondered if the chavvy accent was real. "Ta for coming."

"Your invitation was hard to ignore." He hadn't forgotten to turn on his own modulator built into the collar of his suit. She jumped off the higher part of the roof, in a graceful springy move, and started prowling towards him. God, those hips and the perky backside. The legs were long and shapely, buckles on her boots going up the sculpted calves, turning into lacing on her thighs. "What can I do you for?"

"Woah there, mate. Let's leave doing for when the city doesn't want to end you in." She gave out a snicker. "I am all arse over tits for you and your mental pectoral muscles, but at the moment, I'm more likely to arse you up than get you off." Her snark was part of her persona, but he himself knew how little truth the exterior of a masked vigilante bore.

"Pity," he deadpanned, and she pressed the fists into her hips. "So, are you here to, as you put it, arse me up?" He couldn't quite contain his sarcasm, which seeped even into the modulated voice.

"What? You think I can't? I can bloody cock you up before you say 'I'm a self-righteous codger.'" She opened her palm and one of her golden glowing flowers bloomed on it.

"I do not doubt it." He quickly estimated that if he decreased the density of the floor underneath her, she'd go down crashing through the roof. She still might have enough vigilance to jump out of the aggro, but he bet she wouldn't be able to 'cock him up' in the process. "I just think you would have started by now instead of chin wagging with me."

"You aren't that thick, are you?" She once again chuckled, jumped on the nearest chimney and sat there, dangling a foot in her high boot. "No, lovie, I'm here to offer you to be mates. Double act, partners in crime, and all other bobbins."

He tilted his head and gave her an evaluating look. He obviously couldn't see her face, but the body language spoke tons. She was relaxed and playing with a throwing knife in her hand. The movements were fidgety, and something scraped at his mind. Altogether, she looked as if she were cocking about in a hammock on a sunny day. There was this amazing feline grace about her, and he once again tried to stop thinking about the hips and the arse. He was only successful because there was another pair of legs and other buttocks that his mind was habitually preoccupied.

"You are offering me to team up?"

"Yep," she popped the last sound.

"Would you care to elaborate?" She cocked her head, probably hiking her eyebrows under the hood. "I just find it rather odd. The city thinks I'm a villain, and you are offering me your help."

"Well, you see, mate, the thing is, that way I'll be able to keep an eye on you. I still haven't decided whether it's true and the Crimson Git had brainwashed you. Or you are just gutted about that sidekick of yours dying, and you are a bit more jittery. I sort of think that bomb in a lab was a set up, but I'd rather know what your tight arse is up to, as opposed to having to fry up your bollocks because the mayor's demanding your head on a platter."

He watched her for a few seconds, moonlight dancing on the blade of her knife. It made sense. And he really could use some help. The Crimson Dragon was winning on all fronts.

He stepped ahead and stretched his hand to her.

"I accept your generous offer."

"Rad!" She clapped her hands and jumped off her perch. She approached him but didn't take his hand. "That juju of yours, making shite lighter and heavier, does it work on touch?" She seemed to be studying his hand. "You know, I'm fine with my weight." She patted her flat stomach. "No need in bloody extra stones."

"My ability is to change matter's density, it's not about weight. And it most definitely can't make you fatter."

"Shut your gob!" she cried out in pretense horror. "No saying the F word!" She then clasped her hand with his, and he felt a slight zap of her golden energy through his palm. "Alright, mate, let's see who's got bollocks in this couple."

***

They still hadn't established which one exactly had the bollocks for the next four months, but he couldn't say he wanted those months to pass in any other way. They made a great team. She was ballsy, fast, light. She was also very smart, and judging by a few slips, though she had been very careful, the chav tude was all mask. As much as she pretended that the only thing she knew about Caesar was the Septic salad, he was starting to slowly see so much behind the pikey chick image.

She had a strategic mind, and they had done in those months more than he had accomplished in the last five years. They fought together, they ran together, and with time he started noticing that after a mission would be over, they'd spend more and more time just sitting somewhere on a roof and relaxing. Sometimes, of course, neither just had any energy to move.

"So when did all that shite with density start?" she asked lazily. She lay on her back, eyes under the goggles either closed or studying the starry sky, and he suddenly wondered what colour the eyes were. That was odd. Before he just appreciated her as an ally, without giving a woman under the suit a single thought. He of course noticed the physique, but beside being spoken for, he also respected the vigilante too much to ponder the content of her spandex.

"I was thirteen. Usual age, as far I understand." He was sitting leaning his back on the rail of a fire escape. Everything bloody hurt, but they did well today.

"I was a late bloomer," she drew out, and then sat up and opened her palm with a small golden flower on it. "Bloomer, yeah? Get it?"

"Yes, I get it," he answered, and she laughed gleefully.

"You need to chill, mate. All crime fighting and no fun makes Black King a wazzack with quickly developing erectile dysfunction." She fell back again and stretched, arching her back on the roof. "Blimey, I'm flagged. Is it just me, or the manky gits are becoming quicker?"

He had no time to answer, when the first bullet swished by. On an instinct he jumped and covered her body with his. They hardly ever touched, and it felt so odd, to scoop her in his arms and roll under the nearest roof. And familiar. Bloody hell, it felt familiar. He had no time to analyze his mental sensations. The bullets rained, goons jumped seemingly from around every corner, and he released her.

The attack was well planned, and he quickly thought they really shouldn't have chosen the same roof for rest several evenings in a row. It just had such a great view.

In fifteen minutes it was becoming clear the goons should have come better prepared. From the corner of his eyes he saw four of them fly at every direction from her, golden ribbons hissing and slashing. He placed a punch on the face of the nearest thug, and then she shortly cried out. He swirled and saw her hand pressed into her left shoulder. Blood was pouring from under her palm, and she swayed.

"Tide!" he shouted and moved towards her when her right hand flew up, in a warning gesture, and a thug jumped on his back.

Black King twisted from out of the man's grasp, but a kick cut him down, and he toppled on the ground. Another man jumped at her. She swore dirtily, and he saw a golden wave hit the goon into his chest. The man flew backwards, and over the edge of the roof. Another one jumped at Black King, and received a kick into his solar plexus, and followed his mate...

...dragging Black King after him. The vigilante tried to find something to grab to, but it had just rained, the tiles were wet, and his body plummeted from the roof.

"King!" Her high-pitched scream came from above, and all he managed to do was to squeeze his eyes and channel his power underneath him, not knowing what was there, and just hoping it would crumple under his weight.

It felt like he'd crashed through five or six floors before hitting the ground. Most of the floor panels broke easily under his weight, affected by his ability, but then a long piece of some internal support went through his side, and he screamed in excruciating pain. For a few moments the world went black.

He groaned and rolled from under debris. The piece was still sticking out of him, and he jerked it out, lightening it up first. He pressed his palm over the wound. Blood was pouring on the asphalt under his feet, and he stumbled and walked out of the back alley he landed in.

And then a large explosion of golden light came from the roof. The building burnt and shook now, and then another kaboom came. He saw several bodies of goons fall off the sides, and then an immense flower of her power bloomed over it. A helicopter that was depositing new goons onto the roof during the fight didn't stand a chance. Long ribbons slithered like surreal pythons, wrapping around the blades of its propeller, more of them crawling and snaking under the panels, tearing it from inside. Altogether, and he had by now learnt her temper, she was not amused. Putting it in her language, she was 'arsing them up' in an immense fury.

He made a few unsure steps ahead. He was of no help now but he needed to know she was fine. Something crunched under his foot, and he saw his communicator smashed into pieces on the floor. Great, now he had no means to contact her.

He walked, blood dripping behind him, but it soon became clear he wouldn't make it there. He returned to the same back alley and heavily leaned on the wall. Police cars and helicopters arrived, and he assumed she was probably gone from the roof. That had been their protocol from the start. They hadn't discussed it but it went without saying. They both had their civilian life to protect, family, kin. The masks were worn for a reason. He waited for the barney to slightly calm down, and then he rang his brother-in-law. Changing in denim and a tee was hard, but he had the medical tape in his backpack. With a small help with his abilities he was as good as new. Meaning he could last till home, where he'd patch himself up and take as many painkillers as the tag on the bottle allowed. Well, and a couple more.

3.

The ring of his mobile woke John up, and he groaned. He dropped the hand on the floor, and rummaged in the bloodied rags that used to be his jeans and tee. He really should have cleaned, Dea or the sprogs could enter any moment. He had managed to walk by them, pretending to be bladdered. It hadn't been that hard, he could hardly stand. He then crashed in his usual guest room. To be honest, he should have gone to his place but there was just not enough energy in him.

"John?" Wren's voice was nasal, and he realised she was crying desperately.

"What is it?" He jerked to sit up and gritted his teeth. He looked down, the blood had seeped through the bandages and the tee, there was a spot on the sheets. He would have to clean them before Dea noticed. "Wren, what is it?"

"I'm sorry to bother you… I don't even know if you're at work, but..." Her voice broke, and he heard another suppressed sob. "But I really need you now… I know we never do that, and we meet when it's convenient for us both, but I need you now… I have lost… a patient today, and he was a friend, and I just can't..." He could just imagine a sob wreck her body. "Please, can you come? I'll give you my address."

He looked down at his side. With another dosage of pills he could probably get up. And again, she was right, they had always arranged dates when they both were free. This was new. This was serious. And he had never before seen or heard her cry. And she was inviting him over to her place.

It was either the pain, or the blood loss, or the sound of her voice, but he agreed and wrote down her address. The question remained, how was he going to hide the wound from her? On the other hand, she would hardly want to cop off in her state, John assumed. He'd make her tea, listen to her, they'd sit hugging on a li-lo or something.

Let's face it, he really needed a hug now.

In a spark of genius he pulled the top of his suit under a thick jumper. The spandex kept the bandages in place, reduced his sensitivity, so he could actually press his girlfriend into his side if he wished to, and it didn't feel that weird under the clothes. Well, if anything he'd lie as usual. He could say it was a back support after yet another unfortunate game of rugby. The excuse was getting old, but she never questioned it.

Her building was in a neat and posh block, but that was exactly what he expected. She once told him about a rich aunt of hers who left her a generous heritage. She hadn't given up her job in the hospital, but spend most of the money on the flat. John could relate. His extracurricular activities were also funded from his quite impressive trust fund.

She buzzed him up. There was no lift, the building was too old, and mid-stairs he realised it was a very bad idea. He was dizzy and nauseated from weakness, and it was only the matter of time for the blood to start running down his torso, then leg and into his shoe. But then he remembered her desperate voice, and hissing he made the last few steps.

The door was jerked open before he even lifted his hand to reach for the handle, and she ran into him and pressed into him clawing at his shoulders and sobbing.

"Thank you, thank you so much..." She muttered between sobs, and he wrapped his arms around her.

"It's nothing…" He was cupping the back of her head, and then he made a few steps into her flat leading her in. "I wouldn't leave you alone in this time..."

"I just couldn't be alone, it's so horrible… I just can't believe he's gone… I thought he'd ring, I waited, but there was so much blood..." He was making comforting shushing noises. Her mumbling made little sense, but it was understandable in the circumstances.

They stepped into a small parlour, stylishly decorated in country-manor esthetics, and he once again didn't expect anything less from her. He seated her on a cozy looking chestnut settee, and she hid her face into his chest. Her arms went around his middle, and suddenly she squeezed with astonishing strength. Through reinforced spandex it still felt like she was crushing his ribcage. He groaned. He'd probably keep his gob shut otherwise, but the silken holstery really didn't need his blood all over it.

"Wren, you are breaking my ribs..." She jerked and shied away from him.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" He saw her wince. "I forgot… I mean, I didn't mean to… It's just..." He looked at her face, the eyes were red and puffy, and dark purple shadows lay under them. Simply put, she looked completely broken.

"That patient, he was a friend then?" he asked softly, and her lips trembled.

"Yes, he was. God, I can't believe it..." Tears rolled down her cheeks again. "I haven't realised it, but he was perhaps one of my best friends. After Thea, but he was… We were close, you know… I think it was because we really understood each other." She pressed her elbows into her knees and dropped her face into the open palms. "I don't even know where the body is… Whether the cops got to him, or… God, they will open him up now..." She was sobbing loudly again, and John felt even more nauseated. She was rather nonchalant about medical stuff; that he knew about her, but the fact that she was thinking about her late friend's autopsy was a bit too much for him in his state. "God, I've been such a bitch to him sometimes, I should have told him… How much I admired him, and that I trusted him, and how important he was to me..."

John had to admit, he was getting a bit jealous. It was properly bonkers and he should hate himself for it, of course. The bloke was her friend and… well, dead, but she was so crushed and just kept on complimenting the bloke, whom John, by the way, hadn't heard anything about up until now. How come they had been such great mates, and her boyfriend was hearing about the man only now?

"And no one will ever know, how much he had done, and how much we all owe him..." She once again shifted and pressed her face into his chest. He started stroking her hair, his cheek pressed to the top of her head.

"I lost my brother two years ago," he whispered. "Fred… He was younger, and I was responsible for him." John had never told anyone about it. Dea knew of course, but John fed her the same old lie about street mugging. Somehow he just couldn't lie to Wren. She sniffled into his jumper. "He always followed me, and it was my fault..." He tried not to think about Fred's broken body down on the pavement under the roof the Dragon pushed him of.

"I'm sorry…" she whispered, and he hummed in response. They sat in silence for a bit.

"It wasn't worth it," she suddenly said in a grave voice. "What he did, the good he did… it wasn't worth his death. Not his… People didn't deserve his sacrifice. He should've let everyone sort out their own shite, and he would live… God, was it my fault?" She pushed away from John and looked at his face as if expecting him to answer. "Were he alone then, would he have survived? God, did I make it worse?"

"Wren, what happened to your friend?" John asked carefully, and she wiped her eyes with her hands.

"Um… Street mugging. Can you pass me the tissues?" She asked and pointed at the box on a small journal table. He grabbed it and passed it on to her. She lifted her right hand, and only then he noticed the stiffness of her movements. And the edge of something white peeking from under the collar of her jumper. On the left shoulder.

He was an idiot. Was he? He really was.

But how?.. His mind worked frantically. Everything was right in front of him. Why didn't he see it? Because that was absolutely fucking impossible. Too much coincidence. Improbable. Inconceivable. Fucking out there.

Her fluid feline movements. The strength she just squeezed him with and had done before, in bed, when he would be too far gone to care. Bruises on her body. Night shifts.

He was studying her face, as if seeing it for the first time. The willful pointy chin, lips pressed in distress, little wrinkles in the corners of her eyes. Fuck him, of course, the eyes. They were of this strange amber colour, sometimes light hazel, sometimes light green. And fuck him again, how many times had he told himself he just imagined the glimmer of golden in them?

The electricity that ran through his body when she'd orgasm in his arms...

He wondered what was there, behind the closed door from her parlour. A computer? A room full of throwing knives and her favourite katanas? A gym with ropes and weights?

And then he realised she was crying over him. His alleged death. She was sitting on the sofa, completely defeated, tears running down her pale cheeks. She said he had been important to her, that she trusted him, that she admired him. That felt nice. Now, since the truth emerged, it was nice to hear.

"How's your shoulder, Wren?" He asked lightly, and she shook her head distractedly.

"It's fine, I stitched it..." she answered, and then froze with her mouth half open.

She had always been a smart girl. Both of them were. His noggin was working on 200% capacity at the moment, industriously fusing two women in his life together. His girlfriend and his best friend. It was difficult, but not impossible. Instead of a ginger and a snarky one he now had a snarky ginger. She was staring at him, still having not blinked once.

And then she punched him in his jaw.

His head whipped sideways, she clearly held back, but it was still sensitive.

"Fuckhead!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. "Why didn't you ring me? I thought you were dead! Fucker!" She jumped at him, blows raining on him. He wrapped his arms around her, but she kept on raging and trying to kick him. "I'm pouring my heart here, I thought you died because of me! You wanker! Wanker!"

He tried to contain her, but after all superhero thing included superstrength, and he was properly weakened. She was yelling some more obscenities at him, and he swayed and toppled on the floor, accidentally pulling her with him. Or maybe not so accidentally.

His side met the carpet covered floor, and he hissed.

"Oh god, John, let me see!" She immediately went into her doctor mode. He was suddenly on his back, her hands were roaming him, examining, prodding, and then she found the hem of spandex. "Are you an idiot?!" Even swearings sounded posh on her lips, and he suddenly started guffawing. And that was the woman who'd been calling him 'guvna' for four months.

"Are you actually a nurse?" he asked and received a glare from her. She was deftly pulling off clothes from his upper half.

"I'm a certified surgeon. And, blimey, John, what kind of butcher's work is this?" She pointed at the extensively bleeding wound on his side. "Do you even have anyone to patch you up?"

"Fred used to," he answered. "After he was gone, I just do it myself."

"Then you are definitely an idiot. That's the most bodged up stitching I've ever seen."

"Well, show me how it's done then." He just couldn't stop laughing. She hissed another curse at him and rushed into the next room. The door stayed ajar, and yeah, a gym, and katanas, and knives, and a computer with whole bunch of screens. Just like in his back room.

She came back with a large doctor's kit.

"Can you get up? Can you get to the bed?"

"What, now? I might be lacking in performance today." He just couldn't stop joking. Probably from blood loss.

Or maybe from how perfect it all was. In a convoluted, masked vigilante way, but perfect.

"Don't even hope for anything!" she sneered, pulling bottles, swabs, needles and threads out of the box. "Once I patch you up, we are done. You are a lying bastard! You let me cry over you, I was as much reading you an eulogy here." Despite her snarling words, her hands were gentle, and he closed his eyes. "What did you take?"

He obediently listed the pills. She called him an imbecile. He was fine with it. As long as she continued touching him. Her hands were cool and dry, and he was almost in heaven. Almost, since it fucking hurt as if a rabid dog was nibbling on his insides.

She fished out a giant splinter of wood out of him, called him a moron, and then suddenly her hands cupped his face, and he felt her lips on hers.

"God, you are alive! King, you're alive! I thought I'd die… I went down, and there was so much blood, and I was losing consciousness from the blood loss, and I thought the Dragon's goons got your body..." His eyes flew open, and he looked at her. Her tears dripped on his cheeks, and he stroked her jaw with his thumb, pushing his fingers in her extraordinary ginger hair.

"I'm here, mate." She sobbed and pressed her forehead to his.

"God, I love you so much." They just somehow never said the words. Well, he guessed, they now did.

"And I love you," he murmured and kissed her forehead. She straightened up and gave him another glare.

"I'll patch you up, and then I'm done with you. Both of you. No more shagging, no more fighting crime together. You lied to me and let me think I lost my best friend." He was almost certain she wasn't serious, but he wasn't going to risk it.

"I only figured it just now! When I saw you weren't moving your left shoulder properly!"

"Damn straight I'm not moving it properly. Two bullets went through it," she grumbled, and he grabbed the back of her neck and jerked her to him. "John, I need to sew your side. What..?"

"Hush, just give me a moment." He pressed her to him, and she stilled, a curved needle still in her hand. "I also almost lost my best friend just now too." She exhaled softly, and her unoccupied hand stroked his chest tenderly.

"How didn't I see it?" she asked pensively. "Seriously, I have been shagging with you, and it's not like you are an average looking bloke. I guess, it just seemed so very impossible." She twisted from under his hand and went back to tending to his side. He closed his eyes and breathed through it.

***

He properly fancied her sheets. And the pillows. And the duvets. All very nice and expensive, Egyptian cotton, and it smelled so nice, her favourite lilacs, and something else, fresh and flowery. Maybe it was her skin. He was patched up, given a shot, scolded for being irresponsible, which he accepted with a loopy smile and loved up eyes. Then he was given a sponge bath, which he very, very much appreciated, and then she put him down in her bed. She carefully curled into his left side, conveniently on her right shoulder, and her hand was drawing some random squiggles on his chest. He remembered that Tide mentioned his pectoral muscles, and far from once, and Wren loved to bite into them and play with chest hair, and he suddenly laughed. It was shaky, but very cheerful.

"What?"

"Now I know what our role playing will be like, if we ever get bored of just shagging," he mumbled, running his fingers through her soft orange curls. They were silky and heavy, and he sleepily wondered how she even managed to contain them under the hood. "I properly fancy the orange spandex on your bum…"

"No, now that we know the truth, we will have to role play that we are common people with no abilities and excitement in life, and we are married, with kids, and matching Volvos."

"We can still have it. After a few years of crime..." he yawned widely, "fighting, we can give it up, and move, and have kids, and matching Volvos..."

"I don't like Volvos..." she muttered and nuzzled his shoulder. He noted she didn't object to kids.

"I'm all for Tesla, love. Cover or not, I do have a computer science degree." She lifted her head and looked him over.

"So, that's what we're doing now? Telling each other the whole truth and no more covers?" Her eyes were studying him, and he smiled to her.

"Yes, but starting tomorrow… Because whatever you gave me is working…" Another yawn followed, and he couldn't keep his eyes open anymore. "It's so good now… So much easier." His thoughts were muddling. "I can actually look at your arse in spandex… I kinda haven't even thought of it, but you don't wear knickers under it, do you..?" He heard her snort.

"Nice to know that you weren't mentally cheating on me with me." The thought was a bit too convoluted for him now, and he was warm, and it almost didn't hurt, and she was near.

"I love you, Wren…" He could hardly move his lips. "And Tide too, I think I might love her too..."

"Sleep, duffus." Her voice was affectionate, and he felt her soft lips press to the corner of his mouth. "We love you too."
A short story written based on a prompt from Wynnifredd as a thank-you for pre-ordering my novel "Convince Me the Winter Is Over" on Amazon www.amazon.com/dp/B00XJ16W7W

The story features John Thorington (my usual Modern AU Thorin Oakenshield) and my OC, Wren.

More stories with the same protagonists can be found on my fanfiction page www.fanfiction.net/u/4633889/ and one more story on my JukePop jukepop.com/home/userprofile/3…
:iconwynnifredd:
Wynnifredd Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2015
love love love LOVE!
all of it
every bit


perfection.
and um, sorry about the window panes....
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