Rating: T, for the moment.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Night World characters; I haven't even got around to finishing 'Enchantress' yet.

At the end of Secret Vampire, James says to Ash "You know, you've never really cared about anyone. But someday you will and it's going to hurt." What happens when Ash and Mary-Lynnette need James and Poppy's help, but James is still sore about the past? Will James forgive Ash and help the two soulmates?

Dealing with the Consequences

Chapter 2

The Meaning of Together

"I miss screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain,
It's two am and I'm cursing your name,
I'm so in love that I acted insane,
And that's the way I loved you."
-The Way I Loved You, Taylor Swift.

Mary-Lynette's POV.

Mary-Lynette yawned and rested her head against the desk. She could hear her English teacher's voice droning from the front of the classroom as she closed her eyes. She'd spent another night under the stars and that had consequences; she was exhausted. And that was without mentioning the other reason she couldn't sleep at night.

She felt eyes on her and turned to look into the amber eyes of Kestrel Redfern. Kestrel's usual attentiveness to her studies was missing and instead she was completely focused on Mary-Lynette. She rubbed one of her eyes and gave Kestrel a tired smile.

"Are you okay?" Kestrel asked, in an urgent whisper. They all kept asking her- Mark, Jade, Kestel, Rowan. "This is the fifth lesson you've slept through this week."

"I'm fine," Mary-Lynette murmured. "I spent all night watching the stars again."

She sat up and picked up her pen, tapping it sleepily against her notebook.

"Then you should stop," Kestrel said fiercely, when the teacher's back was turned. "Have a break from it, Mare. You can't carry on like this."

Mary-Lynette nodded but she knew it was no good. She hadn't told anyone the real reason she didn't sleep at night, the reason she spent all night gazing at the sky.

"Even when we're apart, we'll be looking at the same sky!"


She couldn't sleep because all she could think of was Ash. When she was awake she thought of him. And when she was asleep, she dreamt of him. The only time she felt relaxed was when she was staring at a midnight black sky and remembering the last thing her soulmate had said to her before he left. She felt close to him when she looked at the glittering stars, knowing that they could see him at the same time as they gazed at her.

It wasn't that she was unhappy, how could she be? She had three wonderful girlfriends that she'd never had before, her brother was so much happier than he used to be and her father and stepmother were brilliant. But there was a hole inside her that could never be made whole whilst her soulmate was away. She needed Ash here. They belonged together.

She returned her attention to the notes in front of her and noticed that they were garbled and messy. She was going to have to borrow Kestrel's again. And then they'd argue about her lack of sleep again. She didn't want anyone to worry about her. And she definitely didn't want them to know how much she was pining for Ash. She wasn't the kind of girl who needed a boy to look after her. She was perfectly capable of being on her own. That didn't stop her missing him though.

But even though Mary-Lynette definitely missed Ash, she wasn't sure if she was ready for him to return to her. She still felt so young. She didn't feel ready to start her life as an adult and with adult responsibilities. Besides once Ash returned, she had to make a decision. What were they going to do? Run away and hide? Would she be able to stay human? Would their secret stay hidden? Could she leave her family forever?

There were so many questions that she couldn't answer and their future was so uncertain.

Then there was Ash. What if he'd changed while he was away? What if he'd decided that he didn't want to leave the Night World for her? What if they'd been caught and he was on his way to finish her by the orders of the Night World Elders? What if there was someone else? What if 'soulmate' was a lie?

Mary-Lynette didn't think she could take it if Ash didn't love her anymore. She knew she could never forget him and she was never going to be the person she was before she met him ever again.

Sometimes she just wanted to be like Mark and Jade. They just enjoyed what they had between them. They didn't worry about the future or what had happened in the past. Mary-Lynette didn't even think they really thought about the rules that had been broken in the Night World. She wanted to be that carefree. To be able to hold Ash without thinking about the horrible things he had done in his past or where their future would lead. She just wanted to love him and for him to love her in return. Love should be simple. But it never was.

"-see you all next lesson, with your essays please… that includes you, Mr Walker," the teacher was saying. Mary-Lynette tried to shake away her thoughts of Ash and slowly packed her things into her bag.

She tried to listen to the conversation that Jade, Kestral, Rowan and Mark had at lunchtime about the upcoming school prom. She tried to answer the quiz questions in her biology class. When she got home, she answered the questions Claudine asked about her day with lies. Then she made her way to her room to do her homework. As always, she secretly hoped that Ash would be sitting on her bed and waiting for her but it didn't happen. He wasn't there.

"Do you know where your heart is?
Do you think you can find it?
Or did you trade it for something,
Somewhere better just to have it?"
-All I Need, OneRepublic.

Poppy's POV

The news of his parents' upcoming party was worrying James much more that he'd admitted to Poppy. She just knew it. He'd been quiet and withdrawn and Poppy knew him too well to think he was okay.

Poppy was worried too though.

Their last visit from Ash had been almost disastrous. He'd nearly had her killed. True, she wasn't considered illegal anymore but she was sure Ash hadn't forgiven them for making a fool of him the previous summer. She was sure he had some sort of mischief or revenge on his mind. She was sure this meeting was going to be just as disastrous.

They hadn't seen Ash in nearly a year. It made Poppy sick thinking that he was probably off somewhere, seducing some poor girl. Or ripping the throats of innocent young humans open and drinking them dry. She imagined his eyes, violet and innocent before his fangs extended and dug into soft flesh.

This made her own fangs extend and Poppy frowned. She needed to feed more often. She shouldn't let it get to the point where she was fantasizing about blood.

She heard the door close from the front of the cottage and footsteps echoing along the hallway. She placed the book she'd been attempting to read and went to meet James, who'd just been out to hunt. She kissed him on the lips but he pulled away quickly, just as he had every other time she'd kissed him in the last few days.

"Jamie?" she asked.

James' eyes flashed silver for a minute. Then he turned his back on her. Whenever she tried to bring the subject up, James walked away.

"James, don't shut me out," Poppy said. "Let's talk about this."

"Poppy," James started. "It's nothing."

"Don't try to protect me!" Poppy said powerfully. She placed a tender hand on his cheek and forced him to look into her vivid green eyes. "James, I'm worried about it too… but we won't get through it if we don't stick together."

James buried his head in the curve of her neck. "I don't want him to hurt you," he murmured.

Poppy smiled softly and tilted her head so she could kiss the top of his silky hair. "As I said, we can get through this together," she promised.

James nodded but didn't reply. He placed a tender kiss on the pulse point on her throat and took one hand with his own.

"We'll just have to keep an eye on him," Poppy replied, "and not let him get to us. It'll be okay!"

James nodded, pulling Poppy into his embrace. "If he tries anything, this time I will kill him!"

Poppy bit her lip and discovered her fangs had extended. "Okay, deal," she said softly. "But until then, please don't worry, James."

"Okay, I'll try," James replied, kissing her softly.

Poppy wasn't entirely convinced this would be the last time they had this conversation. But she knew she'd just have to keep trying.

So thank you, thank you, thank you… thank you so much for all your support and interest in this. As you can see I decided to carry on with it. And Ash may come back for the next chapter…. Maybe. I haven't really decided yet ;)

What do you think anyway? Please keep the reviews coming and tell me if this doesn't work.

Love JLF xx