---

The sun was setting with a brilliant orangey-red in the west, making the shadows lengthen across the ground to infinity, and causing the air to glow with a warmth that could be felt. Darien had slept away most of the day, a need for some serious sustenance drawing him back towards consciousness late in the afternoon. Once awake, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, he found himself restless and chose to escape the confines of his tiny studio apartment for the canyons and valleys of the city proper. For the first time in ages he gazed about without the wariness and paranoia of a secret agent - always on the lookout for potential danger... or trouble that would require him to play the ill-fitting part of 'hero' once again. He also failed to see any marks, fools to con, places to case, easy money to be made with a minimum of contact and deft fingers. No, today he simply saw people; talking, laughing, arguing, alone or in groups, all moving to some throbbing pulse through veins of steel, stone and glass. Like the lifeblood of some giant slumbering beast, knowing their place and that without them all that surrounded them would wither and die.

He wanted to be part of that.

Not that he ever could be; he was smart enough to know that. His choices in life had made that eminently clear. And it made him realize that, no matter how good the intentions of Claire, he was cut off from any relationship with those oh so blissfully ignorant ordinary people about him. He would be forced to lie, to hide so much of what he did and who he was that any meaningful relationship would perforce be built on fabrications, window dressing, and of no real substance or value. And he was finding he needed to be valued, on his own terms, on his own merits.

How could he 'go out and find a girl, fall in love and be happy' when she would never see anything but the special effects? And should she ever pull the curtain aside, to look past the smoke and mirrors and reveal the true nature of the wizard, she would be just as disappointed as Dorothy was in the Land of Oz, and far more likely to walk away without a backward glance, unable forgive no matter how honest the emotions, the love.

Darien knew this. He'd lived this. Casey O'Claire had been his greatest triumph and his greatest tragedy all rolled in one. Shakespeare couldn't have done better, and Darien didn't want to hurt someone like that ever again. Including, maybe especially, himself. Claire was, he could now admit, at least partially correct; he was afraid of being hurt, of investing time, energy and trust in a relationship that stood every chance of being doomed to failure. How could any relationship he was involved in not be?

Forget for a moment all the potential pitfalls of two human beings trying to mesh their lives, there were all those work related issues: enemies he'd collected, ones he'd yet to make, those after him for the gland and its secrets, others who would surely love to pick his brain for what he knew about the Agency. The list went on and on and on.

No, it just wasn't worth the risk.

That left him with few choices. Celibacy had never really been something he was interested in. He liked sex. It would be the first thing he did every morning and twice every night given the opportunity. His gland-enforced chastity was the longest dry-spell he'd been through since he'd first become sexually active back in his teens. Now that he had, once again, nixed any potential partner from the general population, his choices for possible bed mates dropped exponentially.

There was Claire who, even though that doctor/patient line had most certainly been crossed - both of them quite insane at the time, admittedly - wasn't a viable option any longer, as Bobby's obsession with her would make him very unlikely to share. Though he had been oddly unfazed to learn that Darien had been having erotic dreams about his partner, which left the door open the tiniest of cracks. However, this wasn't prison, no matter how much it felt like it some days, so there were no mitigating reasons to seek a male relationship when he preferred females. Shit, except for Bobby, all his fantasies revolved around women.

There was Alex, he supposed, who probably wouldn't shoot him should he suggest a tryst, but who would also move on without batting an eye. He would be nothing more than an interesting diversion to her and, in truth, he'd just be getting laid.

There were a few other ladies at the Agency that Bobby claimed would be more than willing to pass some free time with his lanky partner. But outside Claire, Alex, and Bobby, Darien wasn't really comfortable with the remaining employees of the Agency.

Which left him with... plenty of time to increase his magazine collection. 'I wonder if Netflix carries porn?'

He pulled to a stop; the left would take him deeper into the city proper and ultimately the Gaslamp District. A few beers in a few bars didn't seem like such a bad idea about now. The right would take him to Cabrillo, just a few short blocks away. He'd avoided the place as much as possible out of deference to Casey and their prior relationship. She wanted... needed to move on and him being nearby only put her at risk. His life had spilled over and swallowed up hers once already, he wouldn't risk repeating it.

His right turn signal came on seemingly of its own volition and the car followed along. Why was easy enough to figure out: Fallon O'Neill. Now there was a conundrum to ponder. She was damn fine looking, smart, quick with her tongue, and more than capable of taking care of herself. Plus she knew about the Agency and the Quicksilver. Of course, that could also be construed as a downside, since that info would probably be available on the thieves' eBay by week's end. And, yeah, he was attracted to her, but more than that he was attracted to what she could get him: Arnaud.

He'd have to think about that, as he was damn certain her fee for info on the Swiss Miss Mother would be far more that he had stashed away. Besides, that wasn't why he was here today. After their... adventure, he just wanted to make sure she was all right. Claire's comment about Fallon being the Agency's responsibility had really hit home with him. 'It's a convenient excuse, anyway.'

He pulled into the visitor parking lot with indecision and justifications still battling each other in his mind.

An inquiry at the information desk sent him to another wing of the hospital; up three floors to a progressive care unit (PCU), and the nurse's station, where he was greeted with a sign warning that 'visiting hours are strictly enforced.' He had a half hour to see Fallon.

A matronly woman wearing scrubs covered in cutsie kitties gave him the evil eye from within her plexi-glass sanctuary. "Can I help you?"

Darien gave her his best charming smile and said, "I hope so; a friend of mine was brought in this morning with a gunshot wound. Lily, at the info desk, said she was probably here," he checked her nametag, "Margie."

"Your friend's name?" the question was decidedly cool.

"Fallon O'Neill."

Margie harrumphed and turned to a computer to tap a few keys. "Your name, sir."

"Darien Fawkes."

The evil eye returned. "Mr. Fawkes, you are not on the approved visitor's list."

'Visitor's list? Huh?' "Oh," he mumbled. "Can you at least tell me if she's all right? Please?" He added a hefty dose of the whipped puppy look.

It didn't work. "Mr. Fawkes, I am not permitted to release information about our patients to non-family members." The standard and pretty much expected answer. He debated trying to use his badge to convince her, but doubted it would work. Probably just make her even more suspicious. Besides, he had other options. That whole invisible schtick had its uses.

"Then I guess I'd better go call one of those family members. Thanks." It never hurt to be polite, especially to someone who knows how to use sharp pointy things. He walked away, ostensibly heading for the elevator, checking for a good spot that was out of sight of both the eagle-eyed Margie and the cameras.

Security was pretty tight, with eyes everywhere on the floor, but not off of it. That meant no cameras in the elevator - he'd checked on the ride up - and not the stairwell. The doorways were only monitored from the floor - unless they had upgraded since his last visit. Since he didn't want to get stuck riding up and down with strangers until either the car was empty or he lucked out and someone pressed the button for three, he headed for the stairwell.

He swung the door open, double-checking for cameras in the within (there were none, just like he recalled) and then, beginning with his extremities that were out of sight of the floor camera, started the Quicksilver flowing, going for a speed record. By the time he was out of camera view, he was invisible and there was still plenty of room for him to slip back through without having to hold the door in place. Then it was back to the nurse's station where Margie was still sitting in her fortress of solitude. Darien wandered around the perimeter of the room to the entrance, which had been left open, and poked his head inside. Off to the right, out of direct sight of visitors, was a dry erase board listing all the room numbers, the nurse assigned, special needs of the patient in some cryptic nurse code and the patient's last name. Fallon was in room 316. 'Nice of them to make it so easy for me.'

'Eight, 10, 12...' Darien rattled off the numbers until he stood before 16. The door was shut, but a little thing like that had never stopped him before, and he swung it open just enough to slip inside. The room was dimly lit, the sole window covered by drawn curtains that easily blocked the last of the day's light. He checked for cameras and, finding none, let the Quicksilver cascade off his body.

He eased closer to the bed, noting the plethora of tubes, and wires and boxes that went beep, hovering about like worried relatives - not that there were any of those, relatives, that is. Fallon was alone in the room, her skin as pale as the bedclothes she lay under, that shock of dark hair a dramatic contrast that was very apropos. Both light and dark, day and night - good and evil? - in one package. She was what she was, he supposed, whether or not he'd get the chance to find out which was the unknown at this moment.

Her hand shifted slightly, drawing his attention, and he noted the IV in the back it, with three different bags of... stuff dripping into it, plus a morphine drip in a box mounted lower on the pole - for the pain. There was an automatic blood pressure cuff about her left biceps and a collection of wires that vanished under the ugly blue hospital gown she wore, one of which was connected to the heart monitor that counted off her pulse in slow but steady beats. The gown had slipped off her left shoulder, revealing skin, collarbone, and a blood-stained bandage, hopefully the hole in her shoulder was now lacking one chunk of lead, and that she'd actually been well enough to have it removed.

She looked frickin' awful.

Okay, so maybe that was to be expected, but he figured... they'd fix her, y'know? Remove the bullet, give her some painkiller and antibiotics, and she'd be all better. Not the flushed, sweaty, shit warmed over person he'd found.

The air conditioner kicked on and the door swung shut with a soft snick. Fallon visibly twitched, the heart monitor making it very clear she was no longer slumbering peacefully. She remained still for several seconds, waiting for the rush of adrenaline to slow before coming to any decision about achieving full consciousness or drifting back to sleep. As a precaution, Darien went see-through; he could just imagine her reaction, waking up and finding him there, staring down at her like some thief in the night, hell, she probably had her gun under the pillow.

The sound of the Quicksilver enveloping him must have been enough to rouse her and her curiosity completely, for she opened her eyes, blinking in the dim light as looked right at him... around him. "'Ello? Is someone there?" she called out, her voice hoarse. A few seconds went by, Darien holding his breath and hoping she wouldn't get up to investigate, the only sounds in the room from the machines and the ventilation system. Finally, she sighed and ran a hand through he hair with a hiss. "Great, now I'm 'allucinating." With a huff of irritation, she rolled away from him and curled up on her side.

Darien allowed himself to breathe, if shallowly, but remained unmoving until her heartbeat slowed back to its previous level, signaling, he assumed, that she was once again asleep.

Since he had achieved his goal of ascertaining her current health, he left the room and made his way back to the elevator. He dropped the Quicksilver inside the empty car and headed back to the lobby area. As he exited, he spotted Murphy coming in the doors and head to the info desk.

Lily smiled brightly at him. "Welcome back, Mr. Quintvalle," then handed him a nametag, which he clipped to the collar of his shirt. He gave her a quick nod of thanks, turned towards the elevators, and spotted Darien.

Though there was a momentary urge to hide, thinking that he'd be unwelcome, he decided, what the hell, the worst Murphy could do was tell Darien to stay away, and he wasn't entirely sure he cared what Murphy thought.

"Quintvalle?" Darien repeated as Murphy approached.

Murphy chuckled softly. "Aye. Most folks have last names."

"So, that would make you Murphy Quintvalle." One less mystery to solve about Fallon and her band of merry men.

"Nope. First name is Bartholomew."

Darien's eyebrows shot up. No wonder he went by Murphy. "Okay, I give; why does everyone call you Murphy?"

Murphy waved towards a sitting area that moved them out of the flow of traffic. "I earned that nick when I was in the service."

"RAF?"

"Royal Marines."

Darien swallowed his surprise. Not because Murphy had been military, that much had been obvious even to him, but that he'd been a Marine - like Bobby.

"You heard of Murphy's Law?" Murphy asked.

"'Anything that can go wrong will go wrong'," Darien quoted.

"Exactly," Murphy agreed, scratching behind one ear. "I had a knack for confounding that Law."

Darien thought about that for a few seconds. "You were Murphy's Law for Murphy's Law?" Okay, that sounded nuttier than an invisible man.

Murphy shrugged. "So it seems. Got my men out of more fubared situations than statistics could account for."

"Sounds like a good man to have guarding your back," Darien pointed out astutely.

Murphy produced an enigmatic smile, but didn't comment. Since he seemed willing to answer questions, Darien pulled out a few that had been rattling around in the depths of his mind since meeting Fallon. "So. How long have you known Fallon?"

"A couple of years, why?"

"Just curious. I mean, a career military man joining a merc group is kinda like switching sides..." Only then did the previous response sink in. "Wait. Two years? But that's after she left Phoenix." Maybe it was stupid of him, but Darien had assumed that Murphy had been with Fallon and her previous band of merry men. It just seemed to fit with their obvious camaraderie.

"Aye. If you want t'know about her Phoenix days and she won't tell you herself, then ask Steve. He's the one who recruited her." If Murphy was surprised by the false assumption, he didn't let it show.

"Then how did you end up working for her?"

Murphy smiled, as if inordinately pleased that particular question had been asked. "Simple, I needed info and she could get it."

Darien nodded. The answer not very useful in his opinion. "Guess I'm slow. Could you elaborate?"

A look of - was it pain? - washed across the older man's features. "Short version?"

Darien nodded, willing to take the puppet show version if it would feed his curiosity.

"My unit was used as scapegoats after a mission went very wrong. We lost several men and I was convinced we were set-up - by our side."

"Oh, man, that sucks," Darien commiserated.

"I went digging to prove it and my family was threatened to get me to stop," Murphy paused, the old anger burning just below the surface. "I'd done enough poking about where I shouldn't have to show up on Fallon's radar, and one of her people made contact."

"And you made a deal."

"Aye. She'd give me the info I needed and, in exchange, I'd come to work for her for one year. I was out of the military no matter what, so it was a reasonable deal."

"You didn't just pay her?"

Murphy laughed. "Do I look rich to you?"

"Oh." Darien should have realized that if the info was important enough to be buried, then it was worth a lot of money to anyone interested in it. A year of work, similar in some ways to what Murphy already did for a living, was indeed reasonable. "Was the info good?"

Murphy grinned. "Very. I got an honorable discharge and full benefits. Just have to keep my mouth shut."

Darien shook his head, impressed. "Why are you still working for her, then? Your time was up after a year."

"What else did I have to do? I walked once my end of the deal was fulfilled, but after two weeks of nothing to do, and no one wanting to hire me, I got bored and frustrated. Another month and I was ready to bite a bullet, so, one morning I just got up and walked into her office, ready to ask for a job, any job. Fallon just looked me up and down, and said, 'What took you so long?' and handed me my next assignment. Like she knew I'd be back."

Darien snorted. "She probably did." He'd learned that much about her even in so short a time, she was a past master at manipulating people. Quite possibly as good as the Official.

"Too right," Murphy agreed. "Now, since I doubt you came here to talk to me..."

"Already tried. I wasn't on the list." Darien wasn't bitter about it; she had every right to protect herself.

"I can fix that," Murphy offered, but Darien shook his head.

"Not necessary. Just... is she gonna be okay?"

Murphy suddenly looked like he swallowed a bug, an icky one at that. "Eventually."

"Eventually? How bad could it have been?" Darien's worry meter instantly kicked into gear, which was kinda odd given he barely knew the woman. It wasn't like he planned on marrying the girl, but he was also human and he didn't want her dropping dead... at least not before he got a chance to pick her brain.

"She..." Murphy trailed off, as if trying to decide what exactly to say. "You know about the car bombing, that she damn near died."

Huh, she'd glossed over that bit of information in her drunken story-telling, though she'd certainly dropped more than enough clues for him to figure it out. It was pretty clear she didn't dwell on what had been done to her, oh no, her focus was aimed at finding Tor and getting revenge for her brother. Whatever the lingering results of her injuries, she hadn't let them slow her down or prevent her from achieving her goals. "Enough."

"Well, what you don't know is that it caused a serious infection that all but destroyed her immune system. On top of that, she's built up a tolerance to most antibiotics. Something as simple as a fever can kill her." Murphy waited for Darien's reaction with a cool look on his face, as if how he responded was of importance in the grand scheme of things.

"Damn," Darien muttered. "No wonder she got sick so fast."

Murphy nodded in agreement. "They're using a new antibiotic and she's responding, but slowly. She'll be here at least a week."

Darien shook his head in disbelief. "Shit."

"You sure you don't want to come up? It's not a problem." Murphy sounded sincere, Darien must have passed some test, but he begged off.

"Nah, I got stuff to do." Not quite a lie and Murphy bought it.

"I'll tell Fallon you stopped by."

"No need. Don't want her thinking I'm stalking her or something." Darien gave him a wry grin and stuffed his hands into his pockets. "Thanks, Murphy."

"Anytime, Fawkes. Anytime."

They parted ways then, Murphy for the elevator that would take him up to see Fallon and Darien the exit, his mind whirling with the information he'd been given to mull over.

---

Darien poked his head into the apartment and knocked on the open door. He could see Fallon next to one of the windows, an easel set up in front of her with an oversized drawing tablet balanced on it. She lifted her head and waved him in with a pencil still between her fingers.

"Murphy said to come on up." He stepped into the room, noting little had changed since his last visit over two weeks ago.

"Aye. I'm 'not working' on doctor's orders." She set the pencil down on a nearby table, which held a large jar filled with dozens of them in a rainbow of colors, and carefully rotated her left shoulder, wincing as she did so.

Since she didn't seem to mind his presence, he strode casually towards her. "Can't manage without you, huh?"

"They better not. Put me out of a job." She gave him a sly smile. "So, what can I do for ye today?"

"I, uh, wanted to ask you something," he began, suddenly feeling nervous about broaching the subject with her.

She nodded as she stepped away from the easel. "Thought ye might." She picked up a portfolio case that had been leaning against the back of the couch and began going through it, looking for something specific. "Ye don't 'ave t'worry 'bout your secret. Mr. Borden and I 'ave... an arrangement." She withdrew a piece of cardboard backing in a plastic sleeve, like those used by serious comic book collectors.

His curiosity was cut short as her words sank in. "Wait a minute, you cut a deal with the 'Fish? For what?" This was news to Darien, though the Official had been awfully quiet on the subject of Fallon knowing about the Quicksilver. Too quiet, in fact.

She shrugged as she carried her prize back to the easel. "Information, of course. Access to some databanks, some files, things like that."

"And what do you get?"

"That is what I get," she corrected.

"Huh?" Darien might have been completely confused, but she didn't seem to mind, or was used to it by now. He was certain he'd failed to impress her during their stroll through the desert. No, she seemed to be enjoying his rendition of the village idiot.

"Your boss is a smart man, smart enough to figure out that I can occasionally be persuaded to not sell a piece of information that I come across." She gingerly opened the plastic sleeve, slid a sheet of heavy vellum out, and clipped it to the paper already there.

'Well... damn. Maybe she isn't quite the mercenary everyone has made her out to be.' "But I thought that info was worth millions?" Based on her comments, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Granted that meant his life at risk, but that was nothing new.

"Oh, aye, 'tis," she agreed.

"But why cut a deal, and so cheaply?"

Fallon locked eyes with him, no guile, no trickery, no wicked grin, just frightful honesty and said, "'Cause it's the right thing to do."

Man, oh man, oh man. There it was, plain as day: payback. Her way of repaying the simple favor he'd done for her that night he'd invaded her home, drunk her whiskey, and helped her to her bed. Which didn't make sense; it couldn't be her only reason. She was too good to turn away all that potential profit out of a sense of obligation to him, some guy she just barely knew. It just didn't fit what he did know about her.

"Fallon, that doesn't..." He moved to stand beside her, his train of thought derailed as he saw what she had been doing. "Damn, girl, I didn't know you could draw."

"What? Ye think I can create sculptures of intricate Celtic knotwork from memory?" she questioned, amused. "Me mum taught me. She's much better than I will ever be."

Darien found that very hard to believe, considering he was staring at a rendering of Tormond Westgaard, which she had drawn from memory. She'd caught everything: the variations in the blond hair, the slight downward curve of the lips that signaled confusion, the brilliant blue eyes widened in surprise. It was unfinished, still rough in spots, lacking color here and there, except for the eyes. He could tell she'd concentrated on them, as the detailing was exquisite and exacting to his untrained eye. The second, smaller picture explained why, as all it was were eyes; the cheekbones, nose, and brows only hinted at. Darien gazed from one to the other in amazement. He stepped forward and used his hands to block out the rest of the face on the larger image, and damn him if they weren't a perfect match.

Then he noticed the date on the smaller drawing: July 1990.

"You drew this a year after it happened?" he asked as he spun about to face her.

She nodded. "Took awhile to get use of me arm back."

"Oh, cause of... right. Well, it's incredible, but why bother? I mean, you got pics of him, you saw him. Why draw him?" He moved to the open window and leaned back against the sill as he watched her.

"Proving me memory correct is all. There was a time even I thought I was imagining things. That 'Tor' was more sgàil than real. Now I know for sure," she told him.

"And got a nifty souvenir to boot," he reminded her, which made her chuckle. "So now what? Track him down and get your revenge?" Not quite the subject he wanted to broach, but in the right direction.

"Revenge? Who ever said I wanted revenge?" she questioned, hands going to her hips.

"Isn't that why you spent all these years looking for him? To get revenge for your brother Ian?" The touch of irritation in her eyes was something he hadn't expected.

"Nay." She unclipped the older drawing and returned it to its protective sleeve.

"Then why? Seems like a lot of effort just to get a portrait of the guy." He had hoped for a chuckle or grin, but her look was serious as she placed the picture back into the portfolio, returned to stand before the easel and put the loose pencils away.

"Justice. I want to face 'im in court, want to see 'im convicted and spend the rest of 'is life behind bars." She precisely placed each pencil point down, into some sort of padding to protect them. "I want the world to know the truth, to know what 'e is." She paused, gazing at the image before her. "Killing 'im would be too easy and not nearly as satisfying."

Darien shook his head in total disagreement; he couldn't think of anything more satisfying than seeing the Swiss Miss Mother die before his eyes. "How can justice be enough? How can waiting years for the case to make its way through the system ever be enough?"

One of Fallon's eyebrows rose. "Vengeance is mine, is that it?" She walked away, disappearing into the kitchen.

Darien followed her and ignored that she was digging in her fridge for something. "What? I'm supposed to wait for god to make things right? That'd be the only thing that'd take longer than justice," he sneered. 'Shit.' This wasn't how this was supposed to be going. How the hell had they ended up arguing about revenge and justice?

Fallon straightened and swung the door shut hard enough to rattle the contents. "Aye. That's exactly what ye should do. I've seen, first 'and what vengeance can do to a person, to a good person, and the price is incredibly 'igh. Ye best be sure ye be willing to pay it."

Her impassioned words made little impact for he didn't hesitate with his snarled response, "Whatever it takes." He took a deep breath to calm himself; she'd done nothing but voice her opinion, based on her own experiences; he simply chose to reject the sage advice. It was his life to use or throw away as he saw fit. And he wanted revenge. "Which brings me back to why I'm here."

She sighed and leaned back against the counter. "Didn't we cover this already? Your little trick..."

Darien interrupted, "I didn't come here about that."

She looked surprised. "Then what?"

Since he was not quite sure how to begin, he decided to dive in head first, figuring it'd be easiest. "You mentioned having info on Arnaud de Ferhn."

She blinked. "Aye."

"How much for it?"

The change in body language was instantaneous; the person with whom he'd been discussing the merits of justice versus revenge was replaced with the shrewd businesswoman, just like he wanted.

"More than ye 'ave," she assured him.

He stuffed his hands into his pockets. The answer was no more than what he expected. "How about a trade?"

She crossed her arms over her chest. "I don't think your boss would appreciate ye stealing intel to pay me off."

Darien chuckled. "You got that right, but not what I had in mind."

"Then what?" Her words might have been questioning, but her eyes... she knew exactly what he was offering in exchange. Still, he went through the motions.

"Me. I'll work for the info."

She gazed at him thoughtfully. "Interesting. There's quite a bit of info, going back over a decade. Is there something specific you're looking for?"

"Anything. Everything." Too eager, he realized, but she didn't pounce like he feared.

"Can I assume ye'll be keepin' your day job?"

"Uh, yeah," he answered, wondering where she was going with the questions.

"I'll pay ye on a per job basis. A mix of new and old data. It'll be up to ye to sift through it and figure out what's useful." She tilted her head slightly. "Ye willing to use your trick? I'll guarantee your security."

A ha! Now he understood why she'd be willing to cut a deal with the 'Fish that made her so little initial profit. She could sell the info about the Quicksilver a few times for big chunks of money and risk the market being flooded, so to speak, or keep the secret and use the ability to gain access to other information, possibly things she hadn't been able to get to previously, and make more money in the long run. That was a motive he could understand. "Why? What difference will it make?"

"Ye will pay off your debt quicker," she informed him.

"How long?" He was already cringing on the inside in preparation for the worst. 'Indentured servitude here I come. For the second time.'

"Three years without, one with."

Oh yeah, she'd been planning for this. She hadn't even bothered to pretend to think about it. But, damn, the invisibility must be worth way more to her than he'd first thought. He didn't doubt her people would keep it a secret - they wouldn't still be working for Fallon if they were prone to spilling what they knew - so that wasn't really an issue.

It was a risk, a huge one, but... the reward. Oh man, the reward would be so worth it.

"A year works for me."

She smiled and held out her hand. "Do we 'ave a deal?"

Darien took her hand, and grasped it firmly.

"Deal."

---

The woman who said, "Weight Watchers does not simply give you a method of losing weight. What it is, is a new way of life." also was gave us, "It's choice - not chance - that determines your destiny."

Least this time it was my choice.

Finis