Characters/Pairings: Leslie, Ani, Ash, Gabriel, slight Leslie/Iri and Leslie/Niall
Summary: The aftermath of Ink Exchange.
Leslie looked at the concrete below her feet. It was the old dirty concrete one instinctively associated with the bad part of town, as if humans had developed a sixth sense in regards to the age of concrete and the lives of those that walked on it. In this case, it was a spectacularly unspectacular shade of gray, with dirt so ingrained in the myriad of cracks that it was likely the entire slab would be destroyed by any attempt to clean it. On top of the ground which had drawn her inspection were two brightly coloured shoes. Her favourite pair, evidenced by the innumerable stains, the frayed laces and hole near one side. They were familiar to her. As was this place, this city. It was home.
She had stood there, doing exactly what she was doing now, over a week ago, while in the passenger seat of a car. And after that, she had seen Aislinn being visited by Bananach, and a cold haughty figure she could only assume to be the Winter Queen receiving the same guest. She saw the terrible, terrible things that Bananach had shown them, but the shock had worn off, having seen these things before either…vision. It seemed all she saw now were horrible, horrible things. Ani was a Queen, Sorcha was insane, Irial poisoned, Seth lost his humanity. She grieved for him, even if he rejoiced, because she fought so hard for her humanity. Look how she had failed.
It started slow, small. She'd see something mediocre in her mind's eye, and dismiss it, just a wandering mind. It lasted for only a second and she would forget it, until days later. It happened and she found another excuse, just déjà vu. Then it happened for minutes. Her friends would notice her absentminded gaze and snap her back into reality. It could be a day, a week, and hour and events she had foreseen would unfold. She thought she was going insane.
Then it seemed as if the universe got tired of her denial. She lay in a semi-awake state one morning, contemplating whether getting up was worth the effort. The vision hit her like no other, leaving her paralysed as she was shown her future. She wasn't third party observer, but subject to the smells and sound and pain she was going to experience. There was something warm running down the side of her face, she felt a pull in her hand, which turned to pain as she moved it. She craned her neck and took in the odd angle the car was in, in relation to the road and the street light. Someone was unconscious and bloody beside her.
She's sworn off driving for a week, before it was late at night, she was at a party, home was too far away to walk and given the hour, she wouldn't have done so anyway. So she got in the car, just a tad bit sloshed. And, unfortunately, so was the driver. The next thing she remembered there was something warm running down the side of her face, she felt a pull in her hand, which turned to pain as she moved it…
But then she was looking at the concrete below her feet. It was the old dirty concrete one instinctively associated with the bad part of town. On top of the ground which had drawn her inspection were two brightly coloured shoes. They were familiar to her. As was this place, this city. It was home. Gabriel came up behind her, with Ani, a welcoming party. They approached her timidly, a word she rarely applied to the near-indestructible fey. Ani spoke first. "Leslie…what's going on? You've been here for hours, you haven't moved." Leslie fleetingly wondered whether she asked as an old friend, or as the newest Queen, though it was possible she was both. Then she wondered how Ani knew what she had been doing for the last…was it really hours?
Next, Gabriel clapped a hand to her shoulder. Gently, as if not to startle her. But she knew what he would do before he did it, making the chances of him startling her slim. "Let's get you out of here."
She was steered towards his steed, though in reality it was a comfy car. No, that wasn't right. Ani spoke as they sped down the roads, headed for the Dark court. Maybe. "Leslie, why did you come back?" She had been unnerved by Leslie's lack of expression, her dead straight stare, her silence, as if she were somewhere else entirely. She took a few moments to respond.
"I need…someone who knows…what has happened to me."
"And what is that?"
"I don't know." A few more minutes passed in silence. Gabriel broke it.
"Leslie, before we get there, there are some things you should know. Things have changed. Niall…and Irial…"
"Niall is the new Dark King, Iri has been poisoned by Bananach." She said it without surprise, but there was a barely detectable undercurrent in her voice. Worry. But Ani felt heartened by the fact she had used Irial's nickname.
"Leslie, how do you know that?" she coaxed.
Leslie paused trying to say how she knew. Unable or unwilling to find the words, she answered their previous question instead. "That is what happened to me. I need someone to fix it."
It needed to be fixed. She walked through the door. Then she opened her eyes and there were flashing red and blue lights at full power in her face. And she turned away and her face moved further into the pillow she had been gripping. It needed to be fixed. Because she no longer knew when she was. She just knew there was a faint itch in the tattoo on her back.