Fanfic name: Understanding Loneliness
Series: Magic Bites/ Kate Daniels series
Pairing: mentioned Anna/Greg
Time frame: Kate at 16
Summary: Anna wouldn't understand. How could she? Greg and I were bound by a treacherous and bloody secret that seemed to destroy everything it touched. She couldn't live in our world of danger, while we would never fit in to her hope of a family.
A/N: Reading and reviewing is appreciated, but flames are not. Grammar and sentence structure critique is accepted. This is a ONE-SHOT, however I might write other stories of Kate younger if this one is well-liked. And this is FAN-FICTION as in the author didn't write this. I have no affiliation, connection, or relationship of any kind with Ilona Andrews aside from author/ adoring fan. Magic Bites series is wholly hers and Gordon's, not mine so please don't sue. Well, enjoy.
"Kate! Would you please stop your exercises for one second?" Anna's clipped tone made me pause in the middle of a round-house kick. I knew Greg had been missing for a few days, but it didn't mean she had to snap at me. It wasn't like Anna didn't already know when he'd be home; she was a seer after all. Besides Greg always came back, it wasn't a question of if he'd be here, it was when.
I sat down on the ancient couch in the living room to appease her for the moment. Anna and I didn't clash really, but I had the feeling we'd be much better friends at a distance. Watching her in the kitchen from my post, I got the feeling something bad was about to happen.
Scratch that, something explosive.
The seer's mouth was drawn tighter than a straight line on paper. Her hands shook with small tremors of anger, her cheeks puffed, dusted with an angry shade of red. She couldn't hide the burning frustration in her eyes, ready to smolder any suitable target they found. Greg was going to get ripped a new one when he got back.
It was futile to seek out shelter from her eventual blow-out. Anna tended to yell loud enough to echo through the entire house. Hell, even the Smokies would resonate with her screeches from time to time. By contrast Greg's voice would get quieter and quieter as his anger grew, slowly suffocating every word he said until it choked all sound from his body. It was scary as hell.
Anna suddenly tensed, digging her nails into the rim of the sink. Her eyes rolled back into her head, exposing the red-rimmed whites underneath. I ran to get a chair under her butt before she fell and cracked her head open on the wood. She collapsed into it, writhing like she was having a seizure. Her hand clawed into mine. Those deceptively gentle hands gripped in an iron-lock hard enough to make my bones creak.
"Kate get some bandages and open the door." Her raspy voice instructed me from a place far beyond this room. I didn't waste time. She meant Greg was coming home and he was hurt. Luckily, the magic was up, he could use an R-kit to patch himself up if it was critical.
He stumbled in just seconds after the door opened, sagging against the doorframe, favoring his left leg. I shut the door on the inky blackness of midnight and led him to the couch. I quickly cut up his blood soaked pants and quested for the liquid stitches in the aid-kit to plug up the long gash on his outer thigh.
I looked up from stitching Greg's leg to see Anna hesitating in the kitchen. It was like the vision had crushed all her anger into dust. She stood in the kitchen looking devastated at Greg's latest injury. I saw her quickly turn to mask wiping tears into a dish-towel. For all her explosive anger, Anna wouldn't cry in front of anyone, she thought it made her weak.
I finished sewing Greg up and moved to bandaging. The feeling of impending doom itched between my shoulder blades like a newly formed scab begging to be ripped off and allowed to bleed. My intuition took a nose dive into anxiety when I saw Anna finally leave the kitchen with a thick stack of forms. Greg tried to rise and kiss her hello, but I pushed him back into the couch.
"Anna what are those papers? Did the Order send more forms for the case I'm investigating? I thought I had filled out everything." Greg was blissfully choosing to ignore Anna's body language. There was no way he could miss the frantic trembling of her hands, bouncing to the tenor of her fear. Instinctively my mind understood what those papers were.
Every sigh, every weak smile, every day Anna came home exhausted, to find only me here replayed in my mind. I didn't understand how she could do this. How she could destroy Greg's and mine's world for her own selfish reasons. It had been 5 months since my father died. 5 months since my world was thrown in to a tsunami of loneliness threatening to drown me. Greg had pulled me from that disaster, helping me reassemble all the meaty strips of my maimed heart.
Now all of it was going to change. Anna was going to kick the legs out from under the one support I had. I was not strong enough to hold up both of us. In that one moment I hated Anna more than almost everything in the world. My mother and father were dead because of me. I would never be able to have close friends, lovers, and my own family. I deserved one easy break god-damn it. I willed with everything in me for her not to tell him what those papers were. Anna did not oblige.
"Greg these are-" She paused, taking a deep breath, trying to comfort herself. For some reason the action offended me. Her need to relax herself into destroying my life was unacceptable. I wouldn't give her the luxury.
"They're divorce papers." My eyes bore into Anna's, challenging her to contradict me. Yeah that's right, I know you're deserting us. Get it over with quickly and I won't hurt you.
"Yes, Kate they're divorce papers. I know it's sudden to you Greg, but I've been feeling this way for weeks, months now. Don't get me wrong Greg, I still love you, still will love you after this, but I can't deal with this anymore. I can't stand by the door waiting for you to come home, not knowing if you're dead in a ditch or bleeding to death in some god-awful place. I can't put my life on hold for you and-" She pressed her fingers to her eyelids trying in vain to staunch the flow of saltwater.
"When we began this relationship, we agreed kids weren't an option. You told me it wasn't a negotiable thing. You could be targeted for your position in the Order and you couldn't risk that for a baby. But seeing Kate here… Seeing how good you are with her. I can't stay here knowing that children won't be in any part of our future. I'm sorry." Her voice cracked over the last words. Like she couldn't quite believe she was basically blaming me for their crumbling marriage.
"I want you out by next Friday. I have my mother coming to live with me and she's taking Kate's room. I'll help you pack up if you need me to." Anna couldn't seem to find anything to say after that. Tech crashed down, pushing magic out of the way with malice. Anna set the papers on the coffee table and went outside to walk without another word.
I felt Greg's hand encircle my own, his adept fingers lacing through my calloused ones.
"I'm sorry." It was all I could say. I wasn't sure though what it was for, my heritage, my father dying, or the strain I put on their marriage. I couldn't articulate all of the things I regretted. The cold hard facts were that Greg would never willingly desert me. Anna wouldn't understand. How could she? Greg and I were bound by a treacherous and bloody secret that seemed to destroy everything it touched. She couldn't live in our world of danger, while we would never fit in to her hope of a family. It wasn't fair.
"How do you feel about Atlanta?" Greg turned to face me, icy reality glared harshly at me from his normally warm eyes, starling me stupid for a moment. His emotive eyes had locked down, shutting out his pain before I could glimpse at it.
"I hear there are some openings in the Order's Academy down there. I could always put in a request to become one of the city's knights." Greg knew I hated the Order's structure and discipline. I would probably flunk out within the first 2 years if I attended. Ever the opportunist, Greg only thought of the protection they could give me if I was a member of their organization. He also had a hunch that I wouldn't attend before hell-sprouted an ice-rink. Unless he could guilt me into it.
It chaffed a little to figure out he was manipulating me to his own end, even if it was for my own good.
"Well, I'm going to have to follow you anywhere you go. I'm a minor and fighting my way onto the streets seems like too much work at the moment. I'll put on their dog leash for a little while, but only since it'd be boring as hell to stay here alone." He laughed at the nonchalance in my voice and gently moved my shoulder-length hair out of my face to look in my eyes.
"Very noble of you Kate, why with morals like that you may even turn into a decent human being." I slapped him gently on the shoulder.
"Hardy har, har my guardian, the comedian." I hefted Greg's arm over my shoulders, lifting up the older man to make him put his weight on to me. He did so and we made the heroic trek over to my room. I figured sleeping in Anna's and his bed would be too hard after recent events.
I helped change him into a sleep shirt and shorts, trying to make Greg comfortable as possible. He settled into my bed with surprising ease, complaining Anna always had the bed too soft. I started to make my own "mattress" on the floor when Greg grabbed my hand.
"Stay in the bed with me tonight." I looked at him with saucer wide eyes.
"Greg, what the-"
"No, no, not that way. Let's face it I'm not used to sleeping alone anymore, and there's no sense in you giving up your bed when I won't sleep in it."
"Sleep stab, I know, but if I stay awake it won't be a problem and you don't have any weapons on you, just under the night table. The worst you could do is punch me and I can handle that." His eyes brimmed with the need to not be alone. The world had decided to kick him down and he wasn't sure he could haul himself back up. How could I say no, when I fought the exact same crushing loneliness and helplessness every day from my father's death? At least for tonight we could wallow in our losses together without judgment or trying to be strong.
I slid into the covers on to my right side mirroring Greg. He moved closer and wrapped his arms around me in a hesitant embrace. I positioned my arms in a loose circle around his waist, feeling comforted in his loose cradle, but too scared to cross any lines into uncharted and unwanted territory.
Tomorrow we would charge to the store and get boxes to pack up our lives, to go to Atlanta. Tomorrow Greg would sign the divorce papers and give half his soul away. Tomorrow I would have to face Anna and figure out how I could possibly forgive her.
But tonight, just for tonight, we could forget about tomorrow.
We could become two people who understood loneliness and wanted to soothe each others pain by staying together, nothing more, nothing less. That feeling of dependency while disastrously dangerous comforted me in ways I hadn't known I needed.
I relaxed into Greg, falling asleep in his arms, feeling warm and safe for the first time in my entire life. It was horrifically wonderful.