This is actually from last November. I was digging around for a few post-In Sheep's Clothing one-shots I'd done and I came across this entry I wrote for the prompted Round Robin game on Bloodfeud. Technically, the game is still running and still taking both new challenges and new entries.

http: // z3. invisionfree. com / The_Bloodfeud / index. php ? showforum = 13

The prompt, courtesy of Terraphim86, was, "The rain dripped a never-ending rattle on the old car's roof."

Rated for language only.

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The rain dripped a never-ending rattle against the old car's roof. Michael shifted his arms inside his jacket and tried not to think about how much he wanted a hot shower or a dry sleeping bag or--hell--a shirt. At least his hair was almost dry. He'd spent a good twenty minutes out in the rain trying to get the engine to work. Then the drizzle had turned to downpour and he'd had to put the hood down to keep anything important from getting wet.

Michael twisted his neck to take in the lithe figure dead to the world on the back seat. Selene didn't seem to mind the chill or the damp. Or if she did, she didn't whine about it, not even as much as he did. Michael was used to complaining as commiserating. "Damn this fucking rain," tended to get a, "Nicholas is the biggest hardcase chief intern of all time," or a "God I'm so tired; I've been up all night." It made people feel comfortable with each other. It was a way people in Michael's life, his other life, invited each other in without inviting too far or too fast.

But Selene didn't do that. The first time Michael had complained in her presence, she'd looked straight at him, impression unchanged. By the third time, Michael had learned to stop inviting. Selene wasn't going to complain back and he wasn't going to risk appearing like he really meant it, like someone who couldn't take small hardships. If he was going to be Selene's excess baggage, then the least he could do was not make a gripe the whole way.

Besides, there was no sense takling about the rain or the chill or the lack of proper wardrobe when there were things to truly mourn for. And Selene had lost so much more than he had...

Michael knew, deep down, that he shouldn't have been so worried about fixing the car. They'd find another one. Or steal one. Or walk. But when he'd closed the car door behind him earlier...

"Not another miracle?" she'd said.

He must have looked stupid or something because she'd actually explained what she'd meant: "The SUV back at the mine. I wouldn't have thought they would have left it behind if it had been reparable."

Michael had explained that it hadn't been that badly damaged, just a few parts. And he'd been able to scavenge them from other machines. And it was only stuff he'd learned in high school, really. And the car would probably break down before they could go any real distance.

And she'd smiled. She'd smiled because she'd found out that there was more to him than a some unnecessary medical expertise and an ability to rip other supernatural beings apart real good. She'd smiled because she'd learned to speak in a time that valued modesty the way his valued social connections. And that was how he would be able to connect with her.

It should have been hard to watch her habits this closely but it wasn't. It had never been so easy to focus on another person. Even with Samantha, whom he loved, loved hadn't held onto his mind like this. Michael sometimes wondered if he'd pulled in any of Selene's memories along with her blood, if there wasn't some shadow of herself buzzing quietly inside him, like the one of Lucian that he already knew was there.

But there was more than enough to explain it. The two of them had been through hell together, like some sort of blameless, mutual Stockholm syndrome. He barely knew her. Only it didn't feel like he barely knew her. In the past four days, they'd both been drowned, exiled, burned, blasted, stabbed and worse, had some truly fantastic refugee sex and even completed exactly one adult conversation.

Oh he cared about her. Michael would go so far as to say that he loved her. He loved Selene and she loved him. But she didn't know him. It was a quick love, a love based on need and danger.

He shouldn't have felt like he knew her. He should have acknowledged, silently and to himself, that he was only imagining that she was a certain way, and that time would show him that he had only been guessing, really. He couldn't really see inside her the way he thought she could. Selene could turn out to be anything.

"How long are you going to sit there staring at me?" she asked, face unmoving.

Michael tried not to act surprised. "How could you tell?" he asked.

She opened her eyes. They were brown again. A beautiful ordinary. She didn't answer his question any more than he'd answered hers. She sat up and ran one set of smooth fingers through her hair. "How long was I asleep?"

"Only a few minutes," he said.

She blinked, squinting her eyes like a woman with a headache, a hangover or both. "All this light," she muttered under her breath. "I'm still not used to it."

Michael looked down, a smile pulling at his mouth. He didn't feel cold any more. "And it's still raining," he said carefully.

Selene was already shaking her head. "Damn..."

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drf24 (at) columbia (dot) edu