A/N

Shocking, I know. But I FINALLY got the bleeding chapter done. Love me anyways. Honestly, it may be time to get to the 'happily ever after' already for these two. Or like, actually plan an adventure for them to slog through together.


Bri had to giggle. There was only a few people she knew besides herself that knocked in the 'shave and a haircut' pattern. One of them was supposed to be coming by about now.

Getting Wren ready and out the door was about as big a hassle as she thought it'd be. The poor girl was turning her own ears into hamburger trying to get her earrings in. It wouldn't do to let her bleed out before she even went out. So that meant putting them in herself, and checking her over and then helping her towards the door.

Then there was the seeing the two off. Light and Lively surprised her again, having a little bouquet of violets to hand. They were cute and probably guaranteed to set off a certain bonny blonde beau she had. She was half expecting Fili to show up with a massive bouquet of wildflowers, since she was fairly sure Frerin wouldn't pass up the opportunity to rag him about his wee giftee to the bestie. Honestly, she wasn't sure which would impress her more: resisting the urge, or seeing what kind of bouquet he came up with. Either way, she was about to find out.

Just to make sure, she checked through the peephole. She'd grown a bit more cautious after that whole 'pouncing the UPS guy' incident. Wren still felt the need to bring it up on occasion, but Bri steadfastly maintained it was probably the highlight of that poor man's month, maybe his whole year. Once target was positively identified, she flung open the door and launched herself in one fluid motion (she might have practiced a time or three) and landed happily in her blondie's arms. "Hello Handsome. Wanna help me crack hickories?" The look she got was plumb stellar.

"So, why am I holding a hammer, again?" Heaven save her from the cocked eyebrow and dashing dimples. Luckily, not mashing her fingers preoccupied a higher portion of brain function than the libido drooling over said features.

"Sugar, have you ever had the pleasure of cracking hickory nuts before?" Go Bri! Voice sounded just the right mix practical and just a tiddle bit patronizing.

"No."

"Watch and learn, Lovie." Bri's work area consisted of a clean tarp on the back porch, and over that, she'd laid a couple layers of wax paper. A pot and a pile of hickory nuts were carefully laid out on that.

Bri settled herself indian style, and swung her hammer hard on a hickory nut. The resounding crack was reminiscent of the uncles' duel. Underneath her hammer lay a shattered hickory. Bri carefully removed the meat of the nut from the remaining shell.

"Now that has to be the thickest shell I've ever seen." Fili inspected the fragments.

"Now you can see where the reputation came from, hey?"

"So much shell, so little nut. Is it really worth it?" Bri popped a piece into his mouth to answer.

"You tell me, Shug." She snickered as his eyes widened as hickory flavor bathed his taste buds. It was a rich and full flavor, slightly smoky.

"Wow."

"Now, that's what I'ma add to my chocolate cake."

"We're cracking how many of these?"

"All of 'em, and we're saving the shells for the grill later." She pointed to the empty grocery bag where she'd already deposited the largest shell fragments. Fili added his, and they both fell to cracking nuts, racing to see who could crack the most or leave the biggest fragments. Pretty much anything one could claim to be better than the other at doing became a contest they had to indulge.

They finally lost the sunlight and might have stayed out there cracking jokes as often as hickory nuts if they hadn't been reminded of the inevitable march of time.

It was a good thing, too. Because about the time Fili had moved from the shower to her room to change, the dating duo made a reappearance. Bri, still holding her spoon covered in fresh made icing, opened the door to Wren and Frerin. Apparently, the previous ritzy plans suited nare one of 'em, and they wanted to change before heading someplace less uptight. Bri stepped aside, idly wondering why they didn't go for comfort the first go round and laughing up her sleeve at their antics.

Fili wisely stayed in her room until they left. If he couldn't resist laughing at them, at least it was quiet or muffled enough it didn't pass her room walls. As much noise as Wren and Frerin were making, chances were he would have still passed unnoticed if it hadn't.

Bri waved them off the second time, and then sauntered back to her room door. "All's clear, me darlin'."

"I was beginning to think they'd never leave." Fili leaned against her doorframe, loose and relaxed. It was still enough to make her belly turn flips. No man should look that scrumptious all stretched out like that.

"Same here. I managed to get the cake baked while they were ditherin' about. I'll be able to frost it in a li'l bit." Fili took an appreciative sniff of baked chocolate and hickory in the air.

"Mmm, now that's pure magic." Bri's quick ears detected a bit of brogue. Apparently, someone's roots started showing when relaxed and comfortable.

"So, movie now or later?" Bri moved back towards the kitchen, Fili lazily trailing along behind her.

"Well, now, that depends on how involved supper's goan t' be."

"Easiest to do would be to order in. I could utterly spoil you with my patented tummy pleaser recipe for cube steak and mashed taters. However, that would be involved and time consuming." Bri only felt it fair to warn him, since she saw his eyes lighting up with gastronomic glee. He had to pause to think about it.

"Hmm, isn't there a steak place that delivers?"

"Wanting Steak Away, are we?" Bri leaned over the kitchen island, chin propped on her hand as she idly turned the cake, checking to see if it were ready for frosting. Fili leaned towards her, grinning.

"If it gets you out the kitchen and in me arms that much quicker the better." Bri felt the shudders run slap down to her toes from her neck, goose bumps following right behind.

"Steak Away it is, then." Her voice was most certainly not breathy nor hitching in her throat.

"So, what are we watching here?" Supper had arrived in a timely fashion, and they made short work of it. Soon enough Fili was disposing of the evidence while she perused through her dvds for a movie, finally settling on Lady Hawke.

"This'n. It's one of my favorites. Whatcha think?" She waited patiently for his answer. It could quite possibly decide the fate of their relationship, as far as she was concerned.

"I think I'm sensing a theme." The delightful smile causing both dimples to wink at her boded well for his continued position as boyfriend.

"And?"

"No complaints." With a graceful gesture to load the dvd, Fili arranged himself comfortably on the couch, making it patently obvious where he expected her to perch. She certainly wasn't going to disappoint him. Besides, he made a fabulous mattress.

"There's just one thing I never understood about this movie." Bri waited to talk once the final theme started playing. Talking during LadyHawke, Fili found, was nigh close to sacrilege in Bri's book.

"What might that be?" Fili's breath was soft and rumbly in her ear, once again causing the most delightful shivers.

"Why on earth did Isabeau call him Nevar instead of Etienne? I mean, this is supposed to be the love of her life, and she's callin' him by his last name? What gives? It'd make as much sense as me callin' you Durinson!" Fili loved the absolute indignation on Bri's face. He wanted to kiss that pout right off. So he did, turning her in his arms so he could kiss her proper. The cross-eyed dazed look he got for his troubles didn't hurt, either.

"Now wouldn't that cause confusion at the practice sessions." He chuckled as he helped her sit up on the couch.

"Oh lawd, don't remind me! What time do you want me there tomorrow?" Bri threw herself against the couch cushions. Her hand dramatically held to her forehead like some fainting plantation belle, surprising a guffaw out of her date. Too bad thinking about practice reminded him who else would be on the Faire grounds tomorrow.

"Nine for warmups. Are you going to be alright, though? The Four Hunters are still scheduled after us."

"Better question is, are you going to be alright?" Bri cut her eyes over at Fili, remembering just how ready he had been to take Sean apart.

"If he keeps his hands to himself, yes. If he lays a finger on you, then I can guarantee he won't be alright." Fili glanced down at his watch. "And I must be going. I'll be amongst the zombie horde as it is now."

"Yeah, it's about time for Wrennie. I need to be on distraction alert. I have no idea if she's gonna be bouncing off walls in glee or clinging in anxiety or spitting mad." In times like this, only a healthy dose of nonsense could distract Wren from The Angst. Bri came back out with her cyan blue teddy. He was always the perfect foil to distract and redirect her ginger roomie.

Fili had a hard time giving her a goodnight kiss for all his laughter. Which meant he just had to kiss her that much longer. She finally had to push him out the door. "Goodnight, Fili! I'll see you tomorrow!"

Tomorrow wasn't going to come soon enough.