Written in an hour and a half, enjoy!
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Annette was busy washing dishes while Danny was watching tv nursing a beer while silently lamenting the fact that he had to herd cats yet again on the morrow, something she could easily understand all things considered. It would only be a couple more weeks before it was back to grading papers written by stoned out trust fund babies and over achieving sycophants after all, ugh. Though on the up side in a few short years she would be grading her little owl's papers which truthfully was something to look forward to. Taylor had a particularly martial and rather viciously gray sense of right or wrong along with a ruthless streak that would have given Lustrum's most violent followers a gleeful pause in suspense. Her personal bias in her literature debates would be so fascinating surrounded by her social peer group.

Annette sighed at that while shaking her head slowly, her little girl was most certainly a product of her parents best and worst personality traits though, that was for certain. Kind, caring, philanthropic, protective, vengeful, ruthless...unyielding.

Even without that damn Holocron grooming Taylor, Annette was not sure if her little owl would not have become the near personification of pragmatic necessity...and that scared the shit out of her.

Her thoughts were interrupted when the doorbell rang, grabbing a dishtowel Annette dried her hands as she walked towards the foyer while calling out, "I've got it!" to Danny who simply raised his mostly full beer bottle to her as he changed the channel to the Discovery channel. It was Shark Week? Damn she should have been recording that, Taylor loved sharks...

Flipping the front porch's lights on Annette pulled her Glock 19 out of the holster at the small of her back and racked the slide before double checking the reinforced chains securing the door, once clear that it was secure she nodded to herself slowly with a hint of trepidation.

The reduction of violence in the Docks had gotten better since her little owl had destroyed the ship graveyard, but it was not all lollipops and unicorns in the aftermath of the bay getting a second chance at life after all.

All things considered when she threw the four deadbolt locks open and cracked the door against the half dozen chains while readying her pistol the last thing Annette expected to see was her good friend Zoe and her goddaughter Emma. Both looked a bit spooked, but neither redhead seemed to care that she was armed. Ah, the neighborhood, Annette couldn't blame them especially this time of night with a car as nice as theirs.

"Hey you," Zoe stated sheepishly with those same adorable dimples she had back when they were reckless schoolgirls, all while Emma shot Annette an awkward wave and a pained smile, that right there required some investigation.

Regardless Annette couldn't help snorting in amusement as she holstered her Glock, "Hey you, gimme a second here."

Closing the door just long enough to undo the chain locks she let the Barnes ladies into the house and quickly secured the door behind them while eying the umbrella stand making sure the Mossberg 500 Cruiser was still mixed with the various none-martial items.

Annette did not give this acknowledgment a second thought as she turned and followed her guests to the kitchen, like her daughter she was a docks girl after all. Escorting the pair of redheads to the kitchen she set a pot to boil and then gestured for them to take their proffered seats. The awkward silence lasted for a time before Zoe finally spoke up, "My husband is an idiot."

Annette nodded at this while sagely stating, "I am well aware, what caused you to finally acknowledge this after twenty years of me telling you exactly that?"

Surprisingly enough it was Emma who spoke up rather than her mother, "He took a shortcut through ABB territory, we were blocked off in an ally by a dumpster and...and they..." She took in several deep breaths before managing to calm herself long enough to continue. "They smashed open the cars windows and dragged me out... I don't remember much at first, they were beating daddy while he was hanging out of the window, then they threw me against a wall..."

"Emma," Zoe whispered while her daughter ran her hands through her hair.

"I...I...oh god I..."

Emma was nearly hyperventilating and it was only Zoe and Annette hugging her that kept her from breaking down, it didn't stop the the tears though.

Taking in several deep breaths the traumatized teen managed to calm herself down enough to continue on, "The...the woman leading them told me how she was going to let her crew gang rape me... That I was going to be sold off as a sex slave, that if I didn't resist she wouldn't cut out my eyes, nose, ears, and that I should appreciate her being so lenient with me..."

That's when Emma broke down.

Annette couldn't decide what she was feeling more at the moment, fury, rage, hatred? Regardless she pulled Emma close to her chest as Zoe wrapped her arms around the sobbing girl.

They remained like that for at least ten minutes, eventually Emma calmed down and once guided back to her chair she seemed to mentally crash. Annette brewed up Emma's favorite tea, black, a pinch of mint and a dollop honey, and placed it in her goddaughters hands. She held onto them as she gently guided the cup to Emma's mouth, who for her part guzzled the scalding liquid with relish. Taking in several deep breaths she glanced up and met Annette's gaze evenly while shooting her a wan smile, "Thankyou, auntie..."

Annette smiled at that as she ran a hand through her goddaughter's hair, "Nothing to thank me for scarlet, that's what auntie's are for."

Zoe spoke up for the first time in a while and shook her head slowly, "I really can't thank you enough Annette, I...I have no idea how we would have handled this without you around."

Annette shrugged and shot her a knowing smirk and a wink, "Lucky for us we'll never know how that would have turned out yeah?"

Zoe snorted in amusement while nodding slowly, "Too true, too true."

The three stayed silent for a time, then eventually Emma spoke up, "Auntie... If you realized that regardless if you were dead or alive, no one with the power to save you would care; then had a goddess of war land before you at the worst point of your life and utterly destroy everyone who threatened you just because they had threatened you, what would you do?"

Annette smirked, "I'd thank her, and kiss her."

Emma nodded, then stood up, "Is Taylor in her room?"

Annette nodded, "She is."

"Ok..." Emma muttered as she placed her empty mug on the table and headed towards the stairwell.

Zoe glanced to her friend as her daughter walked away and barely resisted the urge to chuckle as she muttered, "Hindenburg or Apollo 11?"

Annette for her part chuckled darkly into her palm while muttering somewhat despondently, "I'm thinking Apollo 13, honestly."