I have such ADD when it comes to directing my inspiration. Anyhow. I've been afflicted with some strange, horrid illness recently, and my muse was all "You know, this could be an excellent plot…"

Three-shot! Rated M just in case, there's nothing too racy.

(This is set sometime after Responsible. Definitely AU, but not too much.)

How's it you

That makes me

Better?

- Vanessa Carlton

"Awek."

The extremely nasal voice drifted through the phone and into his ear, and he squinted open his eyes to double check the caller I.D. Yep, it was definitely Chloe. Or someone using Chloe's phone.

"To what do I owe the pleasure at…" He squinted again, glancing at the clock beside his bed. "Five thirty in the morning on an optional-school-attendance Friday?"

A beat, and then, "Sah-wy. I've been up all night. I didn't realize it was this early."

He listened to her apology, and when she didn't elaborate, he snapped "Well?" And wondered why her voice sounded so funny. Almost like Squidward from that demented show about the sponge.

"Oh. I'm sick. Like, weally sick. So I can't train today. Tonight. Whatever."

An extreme coughing fit broke the silence as he decided how to respond to that.

"Well… have you been to the doctor?" He finally managed.

Valentina is not going to like this.

"Uh huh. I have the fwucking fwu. Or maybe pneumonia. They weren't exactly fwucking sure. How can they not know? They have medical degrees, right?" He couldn't help but decide she sounded adorably like Elmer Fudd.

"Now, now, Chloe. Language." He rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling.

She coughed some more, and he winced at the hoarse sound.

It sounded a lot worse than the flu.

"Didn't you get a shot like the rest of us?" He asked. They'd administered them to most of the student body at school this week.

"No! Are you cwazy? Why in the world would I let someone stick a sliver of metal into my skin?" The scratchiness in her throat caused her voice to break several times, and the damn coughs started back up.

She sniffled and sighed.

"Because it keeps you healthy? Because Valentina is going to throw a bitch fit and a half when she hears that you've succumbed to such a worldly thing as the flu?"

A thought occurred to him suddenly. If Chloe was too weak to train, it meant she was too weak to fight. She could be in any amount of danger right now.

His voice was sharp when he spoke again. "Chloe, listen to me. Stay on the line, alright? Don't hang up."

He rolled out of bed and shoved his legs into jeans faster than lightening. He pulled on a clean-ish black shirt, the first one he found on the floor, and stuffed his feet into shoes.

"Why?"

"I'm coming over, alright?"

"What? No! My mom is here to take care of me."

"So? Remember the break-in the two of you had? Your mother is powerless against assassins and the Order, and right now you're extremely vulnerable."

He sprinted to the kitchen, silent on his feet, and scribbled a note Jasmine would be sure to see when she woke. It appeared Valentina was already out for the day.

"…Oh."

"Yeah, oh," he muttered under his breath, grabbing the keys to one of the cars in the garage.

Valentina wouldn't mind if he borrowed.

"Well, at least make yourself useful and pick me up a few things on your way. That can be a good cwover for my mother, too."

He smiled in spite of himself. She was just so cute. "Yes, of course my dear. What would you like?"

He could sense her rolling her eyes at him. "Tea. Lots of it. Stuff that smells good. Hot stuff. And really cold stuff. Like ice cweam."

Well, way to be specific, there.

He searched the cabinets before resorting to wasting time in a grocery store; he found tomato and chicken noodle soup, and a few tiny bags of tea that would last at least until this afternoon. He also grabbed three of the six flavors of ice cream in the freezer, the heaviest ones.

"Got it," he said, and listened to her heavy, labored breathing on the other end.

It scared him a bit, the rattling noise, and the way her coughs came through ten times louder than her voice.

He made it to her house in half the time.

The sun hadn't even come up yet; the sky had that luminescent blue look to it, and he didn't bother with the door, just used the tree to jump to the roof like he always did. He saw her window was open already, and swung himself down and through it, the bag of stuff bumping against the sill a bit.

She was collapsing back onto her pillows, and Alek didn't know what he had expected to see, but this certainly wasn't it.

Her bed sheets were rumpled; they didn't look slept in, they looked wallowed in. Tons of pillows were stacked, one on top of the other, and Chloe lay back against them, still not seeming to get her head high enough or at just the right angle. She wore tiny shorts, but a huge hoodie, and he vaguely recognized it as the one he left here for when it rained.

Her hair was messy and tangled, up in a bun, and she looked much, much paler than usual. There were dark circles under her eyes, and she seemed absolutely miserable.

"Oh darling," he said, the affectionate word slipping without his permission, "why didn't you just get a vaccination like the rest of us?"

Chloe moaned pathetically, closing her eyes and sinking stiffly into her nest of pillows. "Hey mister. Don't go all condescending on me right now. If it's pneumonia, then there's nothing a flu vaccination would've done."

Well, he couldn't argue with that.

Normally her room was well-lighted, but now she lay in the dim shade, and he immediately switched to his cat-vision, his eyes glowing green in the dark. He turned and shut her window, then her blinds and curtains.

"How long have you been up again?" He asked.

"All night," she groaned.

He rose his eyebrows. That couldn't be healthy.

He could tell by the sound of her voice that her nose was probably killing her. She kept it tilted up, probably hoping it would all drain out.

"Alright. Up." He ordered, sitting the stuff down on her desk. He was pleased to notice the roses still sitting there.

"Alek, I don't think you understand. Every part of my body hurts. Seriously." He wouldn't call her tone whining, exactly, but it was pretty close to it.

"Do you want your nose to stop feeling horrible or not?" He asked impatiently.

Her eyes flew open and she evaluated him skeptically, then painstakingly sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed.

She winced when she stood, and he internally cringed right along with her. He hated seeing her feel so awful.

He took her hand and guided her to her bathroom, turning on the shower before she could protest. Within seconds, steam filled the room.

"That's too hot," she shook her head.

"Are you in there yet? No. Now, do you need help undressing?" He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

She rose her eyebrows. "Really? Right now?"

"Kidding, kidding. I'm going to go put the ice cream you demanded away before it melts. Get in."

He turned and shut the door, grabbing the bag and walking noiselessly down the stairs. Today was going to be interesting.


Chloe couldn't believe it.

She'd stripped down and slid into the scalding water, and the second she did, her nose started clearing up.

For the first time in roughly twelve hours, she could breathe again.

She relaxed, enjoying the soothing feeling of the water pounding against her back before washing her hair and scrubbing the icky feeling of sick-sweat from her skin, shaving for good measure.

When she was through, she stepped out and brushed her teeth, getting rid of the grimy feel, and toweled off, putting on a fresh pair of pajamas (which basically consisted of a tank top and cotton shorts) and Alec's hoodie again.

Her skin was tinged red from the heat, but she didn't mind. Her nose was finally clear and her head pounded a little less.

Her chest still protested with every breath she took, though, and the air rattled in her throat. Her muscles ached and her throat hurt so badly it practically burned.

She felt like she was living through hazy fog, and her legs trembled as they carried her downstairs. She hadn't eaten a thing in the last few days, feeling the sickness coming on even though her conscious refused to recognize it.

She glanced at the clock; she'd taken a half-hour long shower, and knew her mother would be up and getting ready for work.

Chloe frowned a bit at that. She didn't like being left alone while sick.

But then she remembered; she had Alek to take care of her.

Oh, boy.


Alek heard it the second that Meredith King began to move around upstairs. He kept clattering around the kitchen, putting the stuff he'd brought over up, and searching for a bowl to warm up the soup in.

He kept himself preoccupied, dumping salt and pepper into the bowl as well to give it a little extra flavor, when he heard the footsteps on the stairs.

"Um. Hi." The woman's shocked voice called out to him, and he turned with a winning smile on his face.

"Good morning, Mrs. K. Not the most traditional breakfast I know, but I didn't think Chloe would want something that required a lot of swallowing."

Her eyebrows rose. "Chloe invited you over here?"

Alek smiled again. "Not exactly."

Meredith clearly did not know what to say to this.

Alek sighed. "Alright. Chloe called earlier to say she couldn't meet me later today because she was sick, and I couldn't stand the thought of her being miserable all by herself. So I came over under the guise of bringing her food."

Meredith softened a little at that. "Well, you're a very good friend, Alek. I presume Chloe let you in?"

There was that bloody word again. Friend.

"No, actually. You people should really learn to lock your windows." He tried to keep his face straight, and Meredith looked shocked for a moment before letting out a disbelieving chuckle.

"Ha! Cute. Now scoot, I want to make an omelet."

Alek quickly stepped out of her way, sitting the bowl on the counter. He heard Chloe begin to trudge downstairs, coughing.

She paused, seeing her mother and Alek getting along quite well. He sat down on one of the bar stools, and she shook her head a bit before coming to plop down next to him, in front of the bowl.

"How you feelin', kiddo?" Meredith asked, peering at her daughter over her coffee cup.

"Like I jumped out of a plane without a parachute on. And then got ran over." Chloe muttered, and Alek snickered under his breath. She glared at him.

Meredith turned her gaze to Alek, rolling her eyes. "Gotta love how melodramatic she is."

"I'm sitting right here," Chloe snapped, before succumbing to another coughing fit.

Unable to help himself, he reached out and rubbed her back soothingly until it was over. She'd tied her damp hair back in a braid, and the tiny pieces around her face that had managed to escape were already drying and kinking up into curls.

"Ugh," she groaned, burying her head in her arms in exhaustion.

Alek frowned.

Meredith watched this little exchange with worry clear in her eyes. "Are you going to be okay while I'm at work today?"

Chloe said something unintelligible, taking a shallow breath that was supposed to have been deep. Then she raised her head. "I'll be fine. It's just the stupid flu. Go to work before you're late and you get fired, and then we have to live in a cardboard box."

Meredith smiled a tiny bit at that. "Cardboard boxes are very fashionable this time of year."

Chloe rolled her eyes.

"I'd be happy to stay here with her if you're worried, Mrs. King," he offered. He was on Uniter duty all day today anyway. Jasmine didn't take over until late tonight.

Meredith glanced at Alek sharply. "You've had a flu shot, right?"

Before I could answer, Chloe protested in a croaky voice. "Mom! I can't stay here all day with Alek!"

"Why not? What'd he do?" She asked, like he wasn't sitting right there.

Chloe didn't answer, just sulked in her seat.

Doubts began to fill Alek's head. What if she really didn't want him here? What if she already had plans with that human of hers?

What if the human were here all day feebly trying to take care of his Chloe while he was forced to sit outside and observe his horrendous, miserable failures of attempts?

"If you want me to call in, I can-"

Chloe looked up, and suddenly Alek knew; she didn't want her mother to leave her while she was sick.

He melted a little, though he'd rather be the Uniter himself and die nine times before he admitted it.

He reached underneath the counter top and brushed his fingers against her soft thigh a few times. She stiffened and glanced down, then looked at him. He offered her a tiny smile.

"No, Mom, it's okay." Chloe shook her head. "I'll be fine with Alek, he'll take good care of me."

Chloe's mother hesitated. "Are you sure?"

"Of course."

She turned towards him next. "Alek, you don't have to stay if-"

"Of course I do. What kind of friend would I be if I didn't?" He tried not to let the bitterness shine through.

"Well… if you're both sure…" Meredith trailed off, waiting on their confirming nods. "Alright, then. Chloe, I'll be home during my lunch break to check on you, okay? Answer if I call."

"You got it," Chloe nodded, and Meredith was about to kiss her forehead when she started coughing again.

"Ugh. Have fun, Alek." She grimaced, and Alek smiled politely at her, waving her away.

"Love you!" Chloe called, a little desperately.

"Implied!"

She desolately turned on her stool to face the steamy bowl. She picked up a spoon and plunked it in, sniffing at it when she brought it back out.

"Okay, I know it's tomato, but I can't smell a thing." She huffed.

Alek's eyebrows shot up. She was sick enough that even her super-strong Mai senses were hindered?

A sense of dread settled into his chest, and refused to be dislodged.


"You can't do that!"

"Yes, actually, I can."

"Check the rules. Check them. It clearly states-"

"That if the card has this symbol on it, the next player- also known as you- must push that button until the blasted thing spits out cards."

He'd beaten her sixteen times at Uno Attack. In a row. Chloe was about to absolutely lose it. She'd already had to control the urge to whip out her claws, spider-monkey across the table, and tackle him to the ground.

He was such a cocky, arrogant son of a bitch.

She remembered the way he'd comforted her this morning, though, before her mom left, remembered the soup he'd made her and the way he'd rubbed her back when she was coughing up both lungs.

She felt a little bad for thinking that right now (she was sure he'd do something to reassure her statement later).

She sighed. "Fine. Whatever."

The stupid thing only gave her two cards anyway, and they were the cards she used to finally win.


"Which movie?"

"You pick."

"You're the sick one, King. Get your arse over here and pick one out."

She sighed, winced at the feeling of the air scraping against her raw throat, and scooted off the couch to the shelf of DVDs.

She browsed through, and finally picked up Lilo and Stitch.

Alek arched an eyebrow at her. "Seriously?"

"You said I could pick."

He sighed and rubbed a hand across his face. "Couldn't you at least pick a good cartoon?"

She rolled her eyes and put it back, pulling out The Lion King instead.

"You just love irony, don't you?" He asked, reaching up to turn the television on.

It was on a news station, and two words on the headlines at the bottom caught Chloe's attention: Coit Tower.

Her eyes widened as she listened to the news anchor rattle off the report.

"It appears that someone actually has been pushed off the tower this time around. Authorities got the call around ten this morning, and were reluctant to follow up after false reports of a girl being thrown off a couple of months ago. They arrived on the scene to find-"

Alek had changed the channel to the one that would play the DVD, and was staring at her with an incomprehensible expression.

Chloe blinked several times, trying to get rid of the flashbacks that assaulted her; running through the trees, the feeling of being stalked, the way her heart had beat out of her chest and her breath hadn't come fast enough.

The feeling of falling, falling, falling, and then the crushing impact, the intense pain before everything had gone black.

She launched herself into an intense coughing fit to cover the tears in her eyes.

"Geez, Chloe," Alek whistled when she was through. "You sure you don't have anything more serious? Like, terminal lung cancer?"

Every inch of her hurt, and her chest ached every time she took a breath, and now her throat was stinging again.

There was a softness in his eyes that hadn't been there since this morning. "You okay?"

She knew he meant about more than the illness.

"I'm fine. I'm really tired," she said softly, scooting back to lean her head against the couch. She shoved a pillow behind her back for good measure. "You pick."

He looked away, then grabbed Lilo and Stitch again. "I'm in the mood for some alien action, myself."


Meredith got to the house exactly five minutes after she got off work for lunch.

Alek looked up from ESPN, glaring at the woman making all the clatter with her keys and her heels and her bags.

He waved at her to get her attention, and a smile grew on her face when she saw him, but he snapped at her and pointed to the girl sleeping on his chest.

Halfway through the movie, he'd convinced her to get up off the hard floor, and she'd complied, leaning back against him between his legs.

He'd kept trying to get her to fall asleep; he knew she was exhausted after being up all last night. She finally had about half an hour ago.

Meredith's eyes widened in understanding, and she made a facial expression that just screamed Awwee, isn't that cute?

"How long has she been out?" She asked quietly, stepping out of her shoes and coming over to the couch to smooth hair out of her daughter's face.

"Not long. I've been trying to get her to rest all day. Stubborn one, your daughter." Alek avoided meeting Meredith's eyes, and instead focused on Chloe, and how her body nestled perfectly against his.

"She always has such a hard time sleeping when she's sick…" She mused, biting her lip. "Have you ate? I brought some extra sandwiches back from Subway."

"Sounds great, thanks," Alek nodded. He hadn't thought about lunch. Chloe hadn't eaten anything except the bowl of soup this morning.

Suddenly he felt like a pretty lousy caretaker.

But still better than the human.

"No problem. I owe you, anyways. Turkey, ham, or pepperoni?"

"Doesn't matter, I'm not picky." He shot her a grateful smile, and turned the volume down on the TV.

Chloe's breathing became rattled, and she frowned in her sleep. She sniffled a bit, and coughed.

Oh no. You are not waking up yet.

"Shhhh. Back to sleep, Chloe." He whispered, and she whimpered against him.

"Can't," she managed, and coughed some more. "Throat hurts too much."

She slurred the words, on the edge of awake and asleep.

Alek grabbed at her water bottle that she'd left sitting on the coffee table, unscrewed the cap and held it up for her to drink. Her slim fingers wrapped around his, and she took several gulps before fluttering her eyes back closed, laying her head back on his chest. She sighed, then dropped back off into oblivion.

Alek put the water bottle back, and turned his head to see Meredith staring at the two of them.

Feeling awkward suddenly, Alek asked "What?"

"Nothing," Meredith shook her head jerkily. "Nothing. Here." She handed him his sandwich (Foot long. Good woman), and then rifled through the fridge to find him a soda.

"Thanks, this is great. So, how's work?" Anything to get the spotlight off of him and Chloe.

"It's okay. Boss man has some big assignment he wants to talk to me about later, though." Meredith rolled her eyes in the exact same way Chloe did.

"Do you not like him?"

Meredith hesitated, and Alek cursed himself. "Sorry! If I'm being too nosy..."

She smiled. "No, that's not it. It's just that I'm so used to Amy and Paul already knowing everything that it's strange, having someone here who doesn't know the details already. Speaking of, have those two come by today?"

Alek shook his head. "Nope. Chloe's phone is upstairs as far as I know, I haven't seen her check it all day. So we haven't heard from anyone." Meredith had called the house phone earlier to check in, not Chloe's cell phone.

Actually, now that he thought about it, he hadn't checked his all day either. Shit.

"I'll go get it, she'll probably want it when she wakes up," Meredith went upstairs, and Alek pulled his phone out from his back pocket.

There were four messages from Valentina:

Sorry to hear Chloe is sick. You better be taking care of her. I'll be checking in.

How is she?

Alek, answer me.

I swear, if you weren't one of the best… And my nephew…

She'd sent that last one not two minutes ago. He quickly scrawled out a reply.

Sorry Aunt Val, I've been taking care of Chloe all day. She's pretty miserable. I'll keep you updated.

The reply didn't take two seconds.

You better.

Alek scowled and stuck his phone back into his pocket, just as Meredith came back into view.

She sat Chloe's phone down on the table next to her water.

"You need anything before I head back out?"

Alek wrapped his pinky around one of Chloe's curls absently. "No, all I need is right here, thanks."


Chloe woke up freezing.

She was shivering, trembling against her pillow, and she ached worse than ever. Her nose was stuffy again, and she couldn't breathe through it, but it killed her throat to breathe through her mouth.

She sat up, feeling the rush of fever inside her.

She blinked, feeling incredibly groggy. Where was Alek…?

She heard running water and turned towards the sink. He was there, with several wet washcloths on the counter next to him.

She frowned. "What-"

Her voice seemed to startle him. "Chloe! Damn, you woke up."

She didn't know quite what to make of this, so she just sat there, drawing his hoodie tighter around her and shuddering.

"Your fever spiked, big time," he elaborated. "Don't you people keep aspirin or Advil or anything in this house?"

She suddenly knew what the cloths were for, and couldn't help her rush of affection. She managed a tiny smile. "Top left cabinet."

He searched and instantly found the small bottle of pills. He tossed it to her, and she downed at least three, even though that was probably more than recommended.

He went to the fridge and wrapped ice cubes in one of the cloths and came back to her. He maneuvered himself back behind her, and she tried not to blush. He guided her body to lean back against his, like it had been when she was sleeping.

His heat was delicious, washing over her in waves.

"Take this off," he commanded, tugging at the sleeve on the hoodie.

"What? No! I'm freezing." She protested, holding back more coughs.

"That wasn't a request, King." He growled, and she felt something coil deep within her, hotter than her fever, than her blood, than her cheeks when Brian complimented her…

She shrugged it off her shoulders, and he tossed it out of her reach. She trembled violently now, feeling the air assault her.

Funny, how you felt like you were freezing when you were really burning up.

"Oh, geez," she whimpered when she felt the cold wetness of the cloth against her forehead. Her entire body tensed, making her sore muscles rebel within her.

"Shhhh. Just relax. Didn't the doctors give you antibiotics?"

She focused on slowly relaxing before answering him. "No. Just a prescription for some heavy duty cough syrup. They said they couldn't since they didn't know what it was, exactly."

Bloody fucking doctors.

He'd slaughter every one of them.

The door slammed open and Meredith stomped in, then shoved it roughly closed behind her. She threw her purse down on the counter.

Was it time for her to be home already?

A quick glance at the clock told him it was already five thirty in the afternoon.

"UUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH."

Chloe frowned and twisted her head on his shoulder to look at her mother. "Mom? What's wrong?"

"I hate my boss. Hate him. The arrogant, inconsiderate, heartless di-"

"Mom!" Chloe reprimanded.

Meredith huffed, plopping down in a chair across from them. "Well! He is!"

Alek had to bury his face in the couch cushions at his side to muffle his laughter.

"Uh huh. Laugh it up, Alek." Meredith muttered, which made him laugh even harder.

Chloe sneezed, then coughed.

Meredith gave her a half smile. "How you feeling, kiddo? You slept right through my lunch break."

"Sorry," Chloe apologized. She hated that she'd missed her mother.

"No, no, I'm glad you did. You definitely needed the rest." Meredith waved her off. "Anyways. Guess what the idiot told me I had to do."

"What?" Chloe asked.

"He told me I had to go to Colorado to file some paperwork on some property out there that clients from here are buying."

"…Okay?"

"This weekend."

"Oh."

"Yeah. So when I told him where he could stick the plane ticket, he said if I didn't go, I was fired. He didn't even care that I had an extremely sick child at home with absolutely no one else to look after her."

Alek cleared his throat.

Meredith glanced at him. "No offense, Alek. You've been so great to Chloe today."

Chloe was quiet for a moment, then glanced back at her mother. "Mom, you have to go. You can't just get fired."

Meredith's mouth fell open in indignation with a little pop. "Chloe King! What kind of mother would I be if I left you here for a whole weekend by yourself while deathly ill?"

Chloe sighed. "Mom, I'm not deathly ill. I'll recover. I promise."

Alek wondered what her mother would say if she knew Chloe had fell roughly 200 feet and sort-of-kind-of lived to tell the tale.


In the end, Meredith had to go.

Chloe knew she would all along, and was just as upset, if not more so, than her mother about it, but there was nothing to be done.

"I'll call as soon as I land. And about a million more times after that." She promised on her way out the door.

It didn't make Chloe feel any better.

Actually, she was feeling worse all around.

Her fever had barely gone down, and she was actually starting to get pretty dizzy.

"When are you leaving?" She asked Alek.

He scoffed. "Leaving?"

"Yeah. You know. Exiting the building. Getting out of here. Leaving." She refused to admit she didn't want him to go.

"That's a horrible joke. Really, you should work on that."

She stared at him doubtfully. "What, are you gonna stay here all weekend?"

There was a mischievous, playful glint in his eyes, and she really wished she'd kept her mouth shut.


Valentina had sent Jasmine over early, just for good measure. The Uniter was too important; she had to be protected in her weakened state. Everyone knew assassins liked to attack in the night.

Yeah, Chloe thought bitterly. Tell that to Scarface. He pushed me off a freaking building in the middle of broad daylight.

Still, she felt better knowing that Alek and Jasmine were here for her.

She'd had nine text messages from Amy and Paul when she'd finally checked her phone.

Good morning! Or should I say afternoon lol? - Amy

Why rn't you replying? L - Amy

Hey- Paul

Chloe, I'm going 2 get rly worried! - Amy

OMG, ALEK ISN'T ANSWERING HIS PHONE EITHER. WTF. - Amy

Uhhh, Chloe? - Paul

Wait. R u with Alek? Are u 2 like, TOGETHER rite now? I want deets later. Lots. Specifically, juicy ones. Ok, txt me later. Srsly. - Amy

You know, as your sidekick, I really need to be in contact with you at all times. - Paul

The other two texts were from Brian.

Why good morning. ;)

Why aren't you answering? Did I do something wrong?

Chloe felt a stab of irritation at that. Brian was always so incredibly insecure and needy. It was like he was terrified for her to be upset with him in any way. Even when he'd introduced her to his "friend", he'd had guilt written all over his face.

Was it so wrong to want a bit of confidence?

She shot a quick text to Amy (Yes, I was with Alek, but I'm extremely sick. Don't come over, you could catch it, you haven't had the flu shot yet. No details to report other than that he can make pretty awesome soup.), then another to Paul (Sorry Paul, I've been sick all day and haven't been around my phone), and yet another to Brian. (Hey, sorry, I've been busy today. Busy hacking up a lung, that is. I'll text you later.)

"How are you feeling?" Jasmine asked, sympathy written all over her face.

Chloe considered this for a moment. "Like I could really use another shower. I'll be back." She scooted off the couch and went upstairs, her legs wobbly underneath her the whole way.

Her hearing had faded and her sense of smell was completely gone. She felt incredibly weak and vulnerable. She strained her ears for any hint of an intruder, twisting the shower on.

She didn't even think twice about the phone she'd left downstairs.


The incessant buzzing was driving Alek nuts.

Chloe had been receiving text after text while she was in the shower. Really, it was rather irresponsible not to read them. So many unread messages could result in a full inbox, and that would be bad. What if Valentina needed to contact her for something and the message couldn't get through?

That was all the excuse Alek needed to grab the phone and open each of them.

Hey kiddo! Just landed. Two and a half hours on a plane has me beat. I love you! I hope you're feeling better. I'm crashing now, text me in the morning?

At least Meredith had made it to Colorado just fine. He typed back a quick, vague response just so Meredith could go to bed without worrying why Chloe wasn't responding.

Awwweeee! He's taking care of u when ur sick and u 2 rn't even officially dating? That is the sweetest thing ever. Too bad they don't make hot nurse outfits for guys like they do 4 us gurls. ;) - Amy

Alek smirked. A lot.

Oh. I hope you feel better soon. We've got to get back to kicking butt and taking names! - Paul

Did he mean watching Chloe kick ass while standing on the sidelines and trying not to shriek in fear?

Alek tensed when he saw the last name. Brian. Stupid human.

Sorry to hear you're feeling bad. You need anything?

Alek needed a few things. Namely, a spacious car trunk and some bleach.

He sighed and put the phone down where he'd found it, marking Amy, Paul, and the human's messages as unread so Chloe wouldn't find out the extent of his snooping.

Not that he considered it snooping. Not at all.


"Maybe some fresh air would do you good," Jasmine suggested when Saturday morning dawned.

Chloe just stared at her. She was utterly miserable. She felt like she had the fucking plague. The last thing she wanted was to go outside. Where there were bugs. And heat.

"No. No way." She was just going to sit inside and wallow all day.

"Come on, you don't have to go far." Jasmine prodded.

"I'll take you up to the roof." Alek offered.

Chloe was about to protest again when she remembered; she and Alek had kissed on that roof. It was basically one of their spots. (She didn't allow herself to think of the fact that it was completely absurd to have a "spot" with Alek.)

"Okay fine." She grumbled, and Jasmine smiled in success.

Alek smirked and took her hand, leading her up the steps, into her room, and through the window.

Black spots danced in front of her vision as she hoisted herself onto the roof, and the world around her began to spin. Her breathing became labored, and she allowed herself a minor coughing fit, followed by a sneeze.

"Damn. You look even worse in this light." Alek observed, scanning her from head to toe.

Chloe scowled and looked away.

"Chloe. Come on. You know I didn't mean it like that." He said softly, tilting his head to gaze at her.

"Yeah whatever," she muttered and sat down in an effort to make her head stop feeling like it was about to float off her shoulders.

Carefully, she planted her feet flat against the roof so she wouldn't slide and laid back, staring up at the clear blue sky. There were no clouds whatsoever, and she was glad she hadn't donned the hoodie today since it was so warm out.

She felt Alek settle in next to her, and shifted unconsciously towards him. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, ignoring the itch in her chest and throat that made her want to cough.

"The sun feels really nice. I'm glad Jasmine suggested this." She finally said, because the silence was becoming a bit much to bear.

"Bastet was the daughter of Ra, you know." Alek said conversationally. "The sun god."

A sense of peace seemed to rush through her at the mention of the goddess. She smiled and relaxed. "Really?"

"Yeah. A bit strange when you think about it."

Chloe imagined the sands of Egyptian deserts, imagined the pyramids straining towards the sky, straight and tall. She imagined the Nile gliding through the land like a liquid ribbon, imagined the amulets and charms. She thought of what it would have been like to have stood guard over the pharaoh, to have lived in one of the huge palaces with them.

"Not really all that strange."

Alek seemed to be following her line of thinking. "There's a story, you know. More of a myth, really. Very Romeo and Juliet."

"Tell me!"

"I don't know… you're very passionate about these sort of things. Telling you might make you cry, which might make you even more ill."

"Alek!"

He laughed. "Alright, alright. I'll tell you."

Chloe waited.

"By the time Ramses the third was pharaoh, the Mai and humans had already begun the process of a falling out. He wasn't particularly fond of the Mai, and even looked down on them, but he saw the advantages of having them around as bodyguards, so he kept them on to protect himself and his family."

Alek paused a moment before going on. "He assigned one Mai to each of his daughters, and his eldest ended up falling in love with her Mai protector, and he with her."

"I thought that Mai and humans can't be together," I interrupted him, frowning.

"They can't. It's supposedly a curse Bastet bestowed upon us for breaking up with the humans. I personally think it's just evolution. Defense of the purity of the species- genetics, ya know?"

Chloe digested this. "Okay. Go on."

"Right. So the daughter and the Mai go to Ramses and beg for his blessing. Instead, he's furious, and he forbids the marriage. So they elope. They didn't get very far before they were captured, and Ramses sentenced the Mai to death. This didn't exactly bode well with the Mai race, so they kidnapped the daughter and killed her, and attempted to assassinate Ramses and failed."

Chloe wasn't entirely sure how to feel about all this. Yes, it was awful and tragic, but what did they think they were doing? They were too different. They had it coming. He belonged with a Mai girl, and she belonged with a human boy. Their poor children, if they ever had any, would've come with no telling what kind of genetic mutation.

Not to mention she was the pharaoh's oldest daughter. She had a duty to fulfill. How could she just turn her back on her people like that?

In her hazy, sickly state, she realized with a jolt that the same logic applied to herself and Brian.

She really didn't want to think about that.

So instead she focused on the car horns and the other noises of the city all around her. She focused on the tweets of birds and of the rustle of wind in the trees.

And she focused on the feel of Alek next to her.


Chloe didn't make it all the way across her room that night.

She'd taken her shower for the day and was about to get dressed and call her mother to see how Mission Colorado was going. Her brain was so incredibly foggy, and she could feel the blisters in the back of her throat. Her skin radiated an intense heat from her fever, and she was more sore than the time she and Amy had went on a health kick and exercised for six hours straight one day.

She felt so dizzy. So, so dizzy. Then came the black spots, getting larger and thicker until she could no longer see a thing. She felt her legs tremble and shake with the effort of holding herself up, and she frantically reached out for the wall to catch herself, but there was no wall there.

She crumpled to the floor and laid there, floating somewhere dark that seemed incredibly quiet and noisy all at once.

"Chloe! Oh my God, Jasmine! Call Valentina!"

Alek. Alek would help her. Alek had gotten beat up by Kai's family for her. Alek had saved her and those she cared about time and time again.

He'd been so sweet lately. So kind and caring and attentive while she was so icky and sick.

She felt something incredibly akin to loss as she realized that when she was better, he probably wouldn't act like this anymore.

He wouldn't care anymore. Not really.

But the Kai incident…

Strong arms picked her up, placed her on her bed. She sighed.

"I don't know, she just collapsed." Jasmine. On the phone to Valentina, no doubt.

Chloe wanted to say something, to reassure them she was okay, but she couldn't remember how to make her vocal chords work.

She felt so weak. So helpless. She couldn't even extend her claws.

"What kind of medication did the doctor give her?" Jasmine's voice was quiet now, addressing Alek.

"They didn't. They had no clue what was even wrong with her."

Several seconds, and then: "Mom's on her way."

That was all Chloe knew before everything faded completely away.


Alek was more terrified than he'd ever been in his entire life.

He was more scared now than he had been in the Order raid. More scared than he'd been when he'd been in the orphanage, more scared than he'd been when the strange couple took him home.

He was more scared than when his hands had started to grow claws and he'd been able to see better in the dark than he could in the middle of the day.

He was more scared than when his parents had totally flipped the fuck out and sent him across an ocean alone to live with an aunt and cousin he'd never met but apparently had.

He was more scared now than he'd ever been in any fight.

Chloe was not moving, was not responding to anything he or Jasmine did, and he was seriously about to hyperventilate if someone did not do something to get her to open those beautiful eyes of hers.

"Chloe! Chloe, come on, wake up!" He pleaded, brushed her hair out of her face, shook her gently.

"Alek, don't. Just wait on Mom." Jasmine's voice was tight, and her entire body was taut with worried tension.

Valentina got there around thirty minutes after they'd called. It was around nine at night now. What if Meredith called soon to check in?

Jasmine shifted out of the way to let Valentina closer, but Alek didn't move. He wouldn't.

Valentina didn't seem to mind. "Alek, get behind her and hold her head. Make sure she doesn't move when I wake her, or she could get dizzy and faint again."

Wake her? She was unresponsive to anything he tried.

Then Valentina pulled some smelling salts from her pocket, and Alek almost fainted himself from pure relief. Of course. Typical, practical Valentina move.

She waved them under Chloe's nose, and Alek put both hands on either side of her face, her head on his lap. Nothing happened at first, and the knot of nerves inside him grew, but then Chloe began to frown and her nose wrinkled.

She came to gasping, panting almost, coughing and shaking. Tears streamed from her eyes, which he promptly wiped away.

"Shhh, Chloe. You're alright." He whispered. Jasmine echoed his sentiments from the foot of the bed.

Even Valentina, perpetual Ice Queen, broke down and rubbed Chloe's leg soothingly.

"What happened?" She croaked, one hand coming up to rub the side of her head, probably where she'd hit the floor.

Walking in to see her crumpled there like that had been so horrible.

"You blacked out," Jasmine said.

Chloe moaned.

"Chloe, the doctors didn't know what was wrong with you?" Valentina questioned, and Alek had to use all of his self control not to whip out his claws and hiss at her. How dare she question her like that when she was so sick?

"No," Chloe croaked. Alek looked towards Jasmine and made a drinking motion. She nodded and scurried out the door.

"Well, I think I do."

Alek's head whipped around to stare at her.

"Mai transformations are a gradual thing. They can take up to two years to come in fully. A person's body has time to get used to their new changes, and their training gets tougher over time. Your transformation, however, took a couple of days, and you've been training hard nonstop. I remembered reading about something like this in a book about the Mai once. It's extremely rare, but not unheard of, for someone's transformation to take place as quickly as yours. This illness is your body's reaction to changing so quickly, and training so hard. It's all started to catch up with you," Valentina explained.

"How long will it last?" Chloe asked.

"I think this was the peak. So it should be completely out of your system by this time tomorrow."

"Thank God." Chloe sighed.

I rubbed the spot between her shoulder blades, moved down to her lower back. I was just so glad she was awake now.

Jasmine returned with her water. Chloe downed it all in one gulp, wincing as she swallowed.

Valentina's eyes met Alek's, and then Jasmine's. "Will the two of you be alright to take care of her tonight?"

"Absolutely," Jasmine said confidently. I didn't answer, just stared down at Chloe, stroking her back, brushing her hair out of the way, studying the way her body bent and her chest rose and fell with her struggled breaths.

"Alright. Call me if anything else drastic happens." She left the salts, and was gone.


Something was burning.

Smoke, thick and black, billowed through the air. Screaming came from all directions, and fire danced against the black night sky.

Chloe sat in the middle of her floor, the flames licking all around her, consuming the walls of her house and the furniture.

Someone scooped her up. Someone that was certainly not her matinka or her tato. They ran with her, ducking behind burning buildings and cars, slithering through alleyways. Loud booms that Chloe somehow knew as gunshots echoed all around, and there was the sound of metal on metal. People fighting.

She was so scared.

She clung to the mysterious person until there was another boom, and he fell, and didn't get back up.

And eventually Chloe was all alone with the fire and the smoke, and there were no more screams.


She was shivering on the ground, and there was no one there. Muffled whimpers sounded from all around her. Someone coughed several times. Another person was wheezing. A newborn sobbed somewhere.

The thin blankets and the barely-there cot did nothing to insulate her heat, and her nose ran and clogged every few minutes. She kept coughing.

Her muscles ached, and the people here didn't speak like the people at home did. Some of the adults didn't even know her name. They just called her girl.

She huddled in the corner of the chain link fence when she and the other children were forced to go outside. She didn't like them. They weren't like her. They were dirty and messy and loud and mean and they couldn't count to ten or recite their alphabet.

A man and several others walked by her spot, on the other side of the fence, on the street. She didn't know this town. She didn't know where she was at all.

The man was talking, but when he saw her, he came to an abrupt halt. His eyes widened, and he grinned at her.

Tears welled up in her eyes. No one smiled on her side of the fence.

She begged. "Help me. Please. Help help help help help-"


"Chloe, help!"

She was back in the fire and the smoke, and more bullets were being shot. A car exploded down the street.

She saw a dark shape running with a child in his arms. A two, almost three year old little girl.

Herself.

She started to take off after them, leaping over fallen bodies and debris. She thought she recognized some of the frozen faces, but she couldn't place them, didn't know how in the world she knew them.

"Chloe, help!" There was the voice again. Alek.

"Alek?" Chloe called, stopping, and fear stronger than any she had ever experienced bit through her when she saw the white-clad people marching down the street, systematically fighting others with claws and lightening fast reflexes, striking them down one by one.

The man and the little girl disappeared around a corner, and Chloe felt a sharp pang of grief because she knew what would happen to the poor man and the defenseless child…

"Chloe!"

Chloe whirled, and there was Alek, fighting the Order along with everyone else.

The Order had strange weapons; bombs and automatics, long swords that impaled two or three warriors at a time.

The Mai here weren't prepared for this at all.

Chloe rushed over and joined in, kicking and clawing and snarling.

Alek had her back. She had his.

Kai and his jackal family, and other jackals they knew joined the Order then, fangs dripping with blood.

Chloe was forced to watch Alek getting beaten over and over again like he had when he'd protected her, but against this new backdrop of pitch black night and fire and smoke and carnage, it was a thousand times worse.

Suddenly, she was thrown onto her back, and she knew if she died now, she wouldn't wake up at all.

Next to her laid Brian. Blood dripped from his eyes and his forehead, seeped through the tuxedo he had worn the night of the art gala. Chloe screamed.

"A fish might love a bird, but where would they live?" He asked.

"Chloe!"

Chloe twisted her neck around, and there was Alek, beaten and raw, laying next to her. She couldn't breathe, couldn't think, and the fire was so hot all around her it made her sweat.

She realized suddenly that she was sobbing.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a woman with her hair and a man with her eyes get impaled by the same sword.

She was kicked, twisted onto her back by an Order member, and she barely had time to grab Alek's hand and witness a flash of white cloth and silver metal before it bit into her neck, her back-


"Chloe!"

Chloe's eyes flew open and she gasped, sucking in air desperately.

She sat straight up and sobbed hard, coughing and hacking. Where was she?

Where was Alek?

"A-a-alek? Al-"

She couldn't catch her breath. Her head pounded and she was sweating, her skin like fire to the touch. She could still smell the smoke and the way her muscles ached seem to be an effect of being thrust into the ground.

The sting in her throat and the coughs that kept coming reminded her of the orphanage. The orphanage. She had never allowed herself to believe that those were actual memories. But now she knew that they were.

She was spiraling into a deep abyss of emotions and disorientation and illness from which there was no escape, and she-

"Chloe! Chloe, look at me."

Suddenly, Alek was right there, and she realized it had been his voice that jarred her out of her nightmare. Realized that she was in her living room, safe. Alek had made her sleep on the couch, next to his spot on the floor, and Jasmine's on the recliner, so that they could keep an eye on her throughout the night.

"Alek-"

"Shhhh. Shhh, darling, I'm right here. You're alright." His hands were on her face, stroking her cheeks, wiping her tears away.

She crawled over her mess of blankets and settled into his lap, pressing herself against him and burying her face in the crook of his neck.

"I want to get better," she cried in a whisper, careful not to wake the other Mai girl up. Jasmine had been looking extra tired lately.

Chloe didn't feel like a strong Mai warrior herself right now though. She didn't feel like the Uniter. She didn't even really feel like Chloe. All she felt was sick.

"I know. I know."

"I can't stand this."

"Shhh…"

"It's just like the orphanage. It's just like being there." Her voice broke.

The memories were fragmented and dream-like, like most of her memories were before age five. But they were memories all the same, and there was no denying that truth now.

Alek froze against her. "You can remember…?"

"Yes."

He let out a shaky breath, was hesitant for a moment before whispering, "I can, too."

He'd never told anyone that, and he'd certainly never meant to tell the quivering girl in his arms.

This quivering, perfect, beautiful angel of a girl. What would she think now that she knew he wasn't made of steel?

Chloe could sense the change in the air. The past seemed to hang there in the air with them.

"Were you ever sick? In the orphanage?"

Her voice came out meek and timid. Two things Chloe King had never been.

"Always."

His came out mournful, which shocked him. It almost always came out bitter and slightly sarcastic when he talked about this. Which he rarely ever did, anyway.

She swallowed, and found that her throat hurt slightly less than it did two hours ago. But only slightly.

"Alek… When I'm not sick anymore, will you still call me darling?" She recalled thinking something along those lines right before she fainted earlier.

Alek grinned, glad that her face was hidden so that she couldn't see his joy at her question. "Do you like it when I call you darling?"

Chloe was very still and very quiet.

"Well? Do you?"

"So what if I do?" Ah. There was the Chloe-tone he knew and loved.

He smiled again, turning his head to press a kiss against the top of hers. "I'll call you darling even when you get better."


Chloe had pancakes and eggs and bacon for breakfast on Sunday. Alek whipped them up for her in no time, and they smelled so good.

Her senses were finally coming back to her. Her nose was still irritating as hell, and her throat hurt, but no worse than with a really bad cold. Her aches had eased up some, and she no longer had a headache.

Her coughs no longer turned into fits; they were just coughs.

Valentina had been right. It would be completely out of her system by tonight.

"I can smeeellll." Chloe moaned, holding her nose right above her plate and taking several deep breaths.

Alek snorted, watching her with fond amusement. "Are you going to eat it or stick your face in it?"

"Maybe both." Chloe shrugged.

Alek smirked, and came around the counter to stand behind her. He leaned down, pressing his chest to her back, and pressed his lips against her ear.

"I could help you lick it all off, if you wanted."

Chloe shivered.

He chuckled somewhat manically.

"You're such a dork," she said when he was a safe distance away.

He was about to retort when Jasmine emerged from downstairs, freshly showered and ready to head home.

"I'm glad to see you feeling better, Chloe," she said, bending a little to give her a hug.

Chloe returned the affectionate squeeze. "Thanks. Tell Valentina I say hello."

"Sure. See you later, Alek." Jasmine gave a little wave and then slipped out the front door.

Chloe's phone buzzed.

Hey kiddo! Flight home leaves around six tonight, so I'll be home a little before nine! Can't wait to see you!

Chloe smiled at her mother's message.


"So," Alek said, when she was finished eating, "what would you like to do today?"

Chloe stretched and felt her muscles hum underneath her skin. She wasn't built to remain lethargic for so long. She could feel the sickness draining out of her with every passing minute, and she was tired of wallowing.

"Actually… I want to train." The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them.

Alek's eyebrows shot up. "Are you bloody insane?"

She figured he'd have that reaction. "Come on, Alek, please? I've been cooped up in this house since Thursday. It sucks. And I feel tons better today."

"Chloe, just last night you completely collapsed."

"So? It's a brand new day."

"Chloe…"

"I'll wear a sports bra. With nothing over top." She was trying to be sarcastic, but it probably didn't come out that way. It really wasn't like her to bargain like that

"Seriously, Chloe? You honestly think I'd compromise your health for a glimpse of skin?" He looked almost offended. Certainly angry.

Chloe faltered. "I was joking, Alek."

He stood there a moment, and then in the blink of an eye, he'd lunged.

So it was hand-to-hand today. Excellent. Chloe's favorite kind.

She jumped to the side, aiming her body downwards while extending her leg, hoping to kick him square in the side. Instead, he grabbed her leg and twisted, and she cried out when she felt herself being spun and hurled onto her back.

Just like the nightmare.

Extra adrenaline poured into her at the memory and she drew her captured leg closer to her. Alek expected her to kick it back out and try to dislodge him, she knew, so he allowed his body to follow her movements, bringing him closer to her.

She reached up and grabbed the front of his shirt, using her leg and her arms to propel him over top of her. He flipped and landed on his own back with an "oof", his head right next to hers.

She didn't give him time to recover. She rolled, straddled him, and whipped her claws out, holding them against his throat.

She grinned. "Chloe, one. Alek, zero."

And then she coughed.


The. Suspense. Was. Killing. Him.

Chloe had taken him this morning in their brief duel. They'd settled down after that; Chloe reading a book and Alek listening to her iPod. Then he'd randomly attacked her, and won.

Now it was her turn to strike, and he jumped at every little move she made.

Her phone buzzed on the table and he glared at her arm as she reached out to pick it up. It was because he was watching so carefully that he noticed her eyes widen a little, and then narrow.

"Trouble in paradise?" He asked, assuming it was the human.

She jumped, then shook her head. "It's not Brian."

Then she bit her lip; a dead give-away that she wished that perhaps she hadn't said that. That she should've let him come to his own conclusions.

"Then who is it?"

Chloe was silent, debating on whether or not to tell him. Alek could sense her internal debate, and knew that whoever it was and whatever they'd said was a big deal.

"Chloe… you can trust me." He'd never really said the words out loud before. The trust they had between them had just been built up to the point that it wasn't needed. It was just an emotion. Just there, like the sky was just blue.

Just like the fact that he loved her.

"I haven't told anyone this. Not even Amy, or Paul. Mom only knows because she snooped."

This admission rocked him to his very core. Chloe, keeping secrets from her best friends? This had to be serious.

He waited, and she turned around to face him. She played with her fingers and her phone, not looking at him.

"It's my dad."

The words seemed to hang there for a moment, and no matter how hard he tried, Alek couldn't understand the significance in them.

He knew there was no father here.

He knew she never talked about him.

That was pretty much as far as his knowledge went.

Chloe seemed to sense this, and went on. "He disappeared ten years ago. We haven't heard from him since. But then… the day I transformed… I got an email. From him. And he's been contacting me ever since."

Something painful constricted inside of Alek's chest. Her father had left her. Abandoned her. Something about this made him ache in ways he never knew existed.

But the fact that he had magically reappeared on her transformation date worried him in an entirely different way.

"Do you think he knows you're Mai?"

He expected Chloe to be shocked at the question, but she wasn't. She'd already thought of it herself.

"He knew where I'm from. He was the one that found me in that orphanage, and pulled a lot of strings to get me here in a very short time span. And clearly he's somewhere out there, still looking out for me. He said it wasn't safe… he said I couldn't trust anyone." Her face crumpled on the last word, and she bowed her head, and in an instant, Alek was next to her, holding her, whispering comforting words in her ear.

He wondered if all girls got this emotional when they were sick. Wanting her mother to stay with her, the nightmares, now this.

Then he figured that if the physical aspects of becoming Mai had worn her down, the mental and emotional couldn't be that different.

"I mean, what if he left because of me?"

She was seriously blaming herself for this man's shortcomings?

Alek tried not to let his rage show, but he did hold her tighter. Fiercer. "Chloe…"

If her father ever showed his face around here again, he would have to answer to Alek.

"Don't I deserve some answers?" She asked, and he was glad she wasn't sobbing, just crying softly.

"Of course you do." He nodded.

"I can't help but wonder if when he said not to trust anyone, it meant him, too." She whispered, almost like if she said the words aloud it would make them true.

"If he ever asks you to meet him, I want you to call me. I want to go with you."

He braced himself for a fight.

"…Okay."

He blinked. A lot. "Okay?"

"Okay."

"I just want to protect you. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if something hap-"

"I know."

"I mean it."

He had scooted farther away from her to stare into her blue eyes. They reminded him of water and the sky and the vague memory of the color his room had been as a toddler, before the Order and the murder of his birth parents and his entire mess of a life.

She made her move then. The sharp, unexpected one he had been expecting since their last spar.

Except instead of blows or claws or defense/offense tactics, she fluttered her eyelashes closed and leaned in quickly, but gently.

She stopped right before her lips met his, whispered, "And I mean this," and then kissed him.

It wasn't like any of their other kisses. Not forced, not hurried, not desperate or tentative, not testing.

It wasn't like any of the other lustful ones he'd shared with girls before her, either.

It was stronger than desire and more than a quest.

He moved his hands to her hair, bringing her closer, cupping her face, and she stroked her palms over his shoulders, her nails digging into his back a bit.

His entire body shuddered, and he leaned backwards without even realizing he was doing it, pulling her with him. Her body followed his willingly, eagerly, and then she was on top of him, every inch of him pressed against every inch of her, and he could feet her heat and her rapid heartbeat thumping out a rhythm against his.

He licked her lips, and she opened her mouth, her tongue meeting his almost shyly.

His entire body felt like it was on fire, and he knew he'd have to stop soon if he ever hoped to regain control over this situation.

He broke away from her, and she gasped for breath. His own lungs felt like they'd burst from lack of oxygen, so he sucked air in as he pressed kisses to her jaw and slid his tongue along her neck and grazed his teeth over her ear.

She trembled and whimpered, and he couldn't help the smirk that slid over his face.

Slowly, the atmosphere winded down.

They laid there in each other's arms the rest of the day.


Chloe heard the taxi pull up, and rolled out of bed and bounded down the steps. She waited by the door, bouncing in impatience, and then the lock jiggled and the door open.

"Mom!"

"Hey, kiddo! You look so much better!"

"How was Colorado?"

"Boring."

Chloe grabbed a couple of her mother's bags and helped her carry them upstairs.

They ordered Thai takeout and invited Amy over for a movie night.

And when Amy left and Meredith went to bed, Chloe opened her window and called for Alek.

He swung down and into her room, cocking an eyebrow at her in curiosity.

"If you're going to watch out for me, you might as well do it from in here."

She woke up to her Monday morning alarm and another rose on the pillow next to her, right where he'd been lying the night before.

Okay! Chapter one of three! What do you think? Review please!
(Also, the two strange words in the first dream -matinka and tato- mean "mother" and "father" in Ukrainian.)