A/N: dearest fans, try not to get too excited about this new chapter. Twas pure luck I had time to update after so long, and I have no idea if it shall happen again, hence it is so short. I do want to continue this but the time constraints of Uni life are well, constraints. That being said, enjoy this update, I know I loved writing it! Its for the September Teslen challenge, "waiting." read and review, all reviews welcome =]

Ashley was the light and joy of Helen's world as nothing had ever been. She was a workaholic by nature, her father's good genetics no doubt. But Ashley, Ashley was her everything.

She was a beautiful blonde haired little girl with glinting quick gray eyes. Curious about everything she was constantly snooping around and getting into all sorts of mischief. Though Helen was not swayed in the least by her young daughter's cute attempts to wriggle out of trouble and would deal out the punishment, she also harbored a very soft spot for her. Ashley was a bright child, learning to read and write quickly, and was soon far more advanced in her studies than any other child her age.

Over time Ashley was no longer a little girl, but a young woman, and then just a woman. It happened so fast Helen could hardly believe it. It seemed as though Helen blinked; she closed her eyes and Ashley was in pigtails, light up sandals, and a flower covered pink tank top and when Helen opened her eyes Ashley was wearing combat boots, a holster proudly displayed on her hip and her hair still twirled into those golden pigtails.

Helen had never tried to sway Ashley one way or the other as far as getting involved in the Sanctuaries functions. She had always encouraged Ashley to follow her heart, and do what she felt was right. But nobody else had any doubts what was right for Ashley from the moment she took her first steps in the Shoe. Mother and daughter were destined to work together. Though it troubled Helen that her daughter did not choose a more, safe, aspect of the Sanctuary work to conduct that did not lessen the pride that she felt. Ashley was the best abnormal hunter there had ever been, and Helen would know. They made quite the pairing, and though Helen would never admit it, she loved working beside her daughter. It assuaged the ache in her heart, for the first time in a long time.

But there were moments. Moments that Helen found herself caught lost in the warm sweep memories by the minute mannerisms her daughter had, a look or a phrase.

She was always waiting, and watching.

Watching when her daughter was a child, watching reaction to violence blood. She went running at the first cry echoing from her room, fearing the DNA had finally clicked in place to bring out a trait. Watching when Ashley was older, tending to the most minor of wounds on an hourly basis.

Helen watched for genetics to come into play and blemish the happy life her daughter lead.

She was always waiting.

Waiting for that click on the telegraph.

Waiting on sound of her door swinging open and then closed.

Waiting to read the familiar sloppy if not elegant script in a letter.

Waiting to see that mischievous smile.

Then one day, in Rome, she looked up from lecture notes, and there it was. That pristine suit, that gentlemanly stance.

That mischievous smile.

That sloppy if not elegant script.

"PS. You look hot".

That snark.

Her heart raced, she stammered out what she hoped was Italian for taking a small pause, and if not for her Victorian grace would have sprinted out the doors. And there he was, that smug smile plastered all over his unchanged handsome face, standing with the kind of poise that isn't learned but innate, and his eyes twinkling in a way that she was certain mirrored the look in her own.

This was going to be just the beginning of a very long day.

She took a deep breath and began approaching him in what she thought was a manner that spoke of nonchalance but not indifference.

So she walked over to Nikola, hoping this meant they could finally stop waiting.

But then again, when in her life had she ever gotten that happy ending kind of deal, or something even remotely close to it?

And that was when she felt an uneasiness clench her gut.

She hoped against hope that they would both just make it out of this day alive.