Summary: The record continues.

Written for Lucathia Rykatu for Yuletide.


The Continuing Record

By Dark Ice Dragon


[I remember the first time I wore my fighting outfit; I was so embarrassed – I'd never worn anything so revealing in my life!]

Elraine could feel the heat rising to her face as Kiri held out her fighting outfit for her to take. Not that she could say she was surprised that it was finished – she had been with him the entire time he was creating it, of course. It was just, she could turn her head away then, pretend that Kiri was working on another project, not…this.

She had also spent so much time Not Looking that she didn't know if Kiri had made any adjustments (as if she would be able to tell anyway). Or patches. Elraine eyed the bundle of clothing suspiciously as she took it from Kiri's hands; it moved like regular cloth, so there probablywasn't any patches somewhere. Still, it wouldn't hurt to check…

"What is it?" Kiri asked as he watched her, his brow furrowed.

"You didn't make any…changes, did you?" Elraine asked cautiously, shaking out the outfit. It didn't look too different from her drawing; if anything, it looked better than she could have imagined. And then Elraine's face heated up all over again when she realised she had to wearthis.

Kiri pouted at her. "Fallan said that your design was the best one, so if that's the one that's the most helpful…" He trailed off, ruffling the back of his head.

Taking a deep breath, Elraine draped the outfit over her arm that was touching Kiri's. "Thank you," she said softly.

Kiri blinked at her before he grinned. "It might need a couple of modifications, but the only way we can find out is if you wear it!"

She huffed, shaking her head. Okay, she could take a hint. "No peeking!" she told him sternly. Elraine knew he wouldn't, but it was a habit now, a routine, just like how Kiri rolled his eyes as he spun around in his chair, leaning an elbow on the desk.

Once Kiri had settled himself, sounding like he was doodling, humming under his breath, Elraine drew her attention back to the outfit, gulping. O-okay, so now she had to put it on...

She took off her Sister robes with well-practiced ease and after taking a deep breath, she slowly put on her outfit. Once she was done, Elraine merely stood there, frozen. She didn't want to look down, didn't want to know what she looked like.

Elraine could feel the difference in the weight alone, feeling breezy instead, and she wasn't sure if she liked it. In her robes, she felt protected, surrounded by cloth; they protected other people from her too, making sure she didn't accidentally touch someone. It was a comfort she had gotten used to, one that she didn't think that would ever change.

It was after her third deep breath that Kiri made an inquisitive noise and she realised she hadn't felt him move for a while. "You done?"

She nodded once before she remembered he couldn't see it. "Yeah…"

With a whoop, Kiri twisted around, keeping his hand on hers, and instantly began inspecting his work. Elraine could feel even more blood rush to her face.

"Does it feel all right?" Kiri quizzed her, looking her up and down. "Nothing's too tight, you can move freely?"

Well, she didn't know about the movement, so Elraine tested it, rolling her shoulders and raising her knees. The cloth moved smoothly with her, but Elraine quickly lowered her leg, smoothening out her skirt. She was going to have to get used to feeling (and not feeling) clothes around her – it was just going to take a while.

Kiri's hand tightened on hers, drawing her attention back to him. His brows were furrowed, his lips at a slant. "You okay?"

"I…" It was a silly thing, really. It wasn't as if she was dressed like Sui (and Elraine was sure she would die of embarrassment if she had to) but right then, it felt as if she may as well be. But her clothes were the difference between her life and death; a little discomfort was an easy compromise for that.

"I feel exposed like this," she said quietly. But that still didn't mean it was easy to deal with. One hand raised unbidden to her shoulder – they had never been so completely uncovered before.

Kiri hummed, staring intently at her shoulders before he beamed, a wide grin flashing across his face. "Give it back to me for a sec, okay? I think I have an idea." He turned around without prompting, and Elraine could hear him furiously scribbling on a piece of paper again. She did as she was asked, handing her top over Kiri's shoulder.

He took it and started working immediately. Now a little more curious, Elraine tried to peer at what Kiri was doing but he shifted so that he blocked her view. He did it again when she tried another angle. Elraine huffed, amusement growing in her, realising it was another dance. So she waited instead, listening to the bustle of people outside and Kiri's muttering as he did…whatever he was doing to her outfit. And that was when Elraine's worry started to kick in again, because she knewKiri's strange artistic tastes – what if he was adding a cape made entirely of patches? Or what if he was lining everything with-

"Done!" Kiri held it over his shoulder and Elraine took it automatically. When she held it up…she couldn't see anything different. She blinked when the shoulder flaps flopped down, except, she knew they hadn't been there before – especially since they were black loops, rather than the light blue of everything else.

Oh. So that meant... Elraine hurried to take off her robe and put the top back on; she smiled when she saw what Kiri had done. The strips just covered her biceps, but they were also loose enough that she could move her arms unhindered. And she was slightly more covered.

With his hands resting at the back of his head, Kiri asked, "Is there anything else bothering you?"

Elraine was silent for a few seconds as she floundered for words. She was asking too much, and if she changed more, that could create other problems.

"Elle?" Kiri tilted his head back to blink at her upside down.

"It's – it's too light," she mumbled, her gaze skittering away from his. She shouldn't be complaining about that but…

"Huh." Kiri's hand clasped her own as he leaned forward, grabbing a swath of cloth. All Elraine could do was stand there as Kiri placed her hand back near his neck again and then proceeded to tie the cloth loosely around her waist.

Once he was done, he stepped back to admire his handiwork and Elraine looked down to do the same. It was simple but the added weight of it just helped to ease Elraine's mind.

"But the only way we can test if it's good enough," Kiri started, quirking a grin at her, raising his eyebrows.

"Is if we dance, right?" Elraine finished, catching the thread instantly.

They moved into position, doing it with ease. They didn't bother with setting a rhythm; Elraine wasn't sure who made the first step, but it was matched, as was the next, and so was the one after that. And it was so much easier, not being constrained to holding hands – until they forgot where they were. More importantly, they forgot that there was furniture in the room.

Kiri's back thwacked into the desk, eliciting a yelp from him and sending papers flying.

"Are you okay?" Elraine demanded, and Kiri nodded, wincing slightly as he rubbed his lower back.

Elraine frowned as she saw what Kiri had been doodling. "Is that…Fallan?" She could recognise his face but…

A grin lit Kiri's face and he nodded, looking like he had completely forgotten about the pain. "Yeah! If we need new outfits, then he should have one too! He'd look so much cooler if he wore these!"

Elraine could feel a vein throb in her forehead. "I'm the only person who has a new outfit. And Fallan will killyou if he saw these."

Kiri tutted, but he didn't slip any of the papers into his pockets as they left the house.

xOx

It was very, very strange to feel the sun on her arms and legs, Elraine found. And she could feel every gust of wind as well.

She couldn't help but walk even closer to Kiri than usual, just in case someone came too near to her. Without her Sister robes, people didn't look twice at her, didn't leave a large berth between themselves and her. It was…nice to experience, but also nerve-wracking that people weren't so cautious around her.

Kiri twined his fingers with hers, and then started leading her down the quieter side-streets.

xOx

[We hadn't had a lot of time to talk after our first try-out of our 'Double Arts'. I guess we hadn't needed to, but that first time, it was absolutely perfect.]

Elraine couldn't believe that this was happening. Every step they took was mirrored, even their breathing was in synchrony. She could hear the thudding of the needles as they pierced the road, far faster than her heart, yet she wasn't worried.

Because she was with Kiri and they were moving as if they had the one mind. It wasn't as if she was reading what Kiri wanted to do next or vice versa; they moved in perfect harmony.

The declarations of moves were just more confirmation of that, said at exactly the same time and followed through without a pause; their glances were double-checking, just letting the other know they were all right.

It wasn't a surprise for them that they won that fight.

xOx

[You hadn't believed me when I'd said I was a bad cook; I take no blame for what happened.]

Elraine frowned at the bubbling pot, stirring it. Night had fallen, and while the moon was out, she couldn't see the contents that well.

"Are you sure you want to taste this?" she asked, poking at it. It seemedto have the right consistency…

Kiri leaned back further, peering into the pot. "I instructed you on everything, so it'll be great!"

Elraine breathed a sigh, not believing him; she could follow instructions, but it just never seemed to work out.

There was a burst of noise to their left, a family of startled birds whizzing out of the trees.

"Is Sui challenging Fallan again?" Elraine mused. She had been too distracted with trying to cook that everything else had been filtered out.

"Yep." There was a small pause. "He's still not rising to it."

That wasn't a surprise. Elraine spooned the soup into a bowl, taking a discrete sniff. It certainly smelled better than anything else she had made.

They flinched at Sui's frustrated yell before she stomped off.

Elraine shook her head. They were trying to move as quietly as possible but hopefully they were far enough off the beaten track that it would take longer for Gazelle to find them.

Balancing bowl between her knees, Elraine took a small sip. …Huh. That was better than she had expected.

Kiri's hand flashed in her vision, stealing some of her soup before she could say anything.

"Hey – wait-!"

The soup promptly went flying into the fire, Kiri spluttering, his eyes watering. "What did you do?" he gasped at her, pointing his spoon at her. "I saw you – you did everything I told you do!"

Elraine scowled at him. "I toldyou I was a bad cook!"

"Maybe it's just something you need to practice," Kiri said, lowering his spoon, "just like dancing."

"What do I need to practice if you said yourself that I'd done everything right!" Elraine considered dumping the soup over Kiri and as soon as she thought that, Kiri scooted as far back as their hands would let them.

Kiri coughed. "We still have the fish."

"There's three."

"A perfect number."

"There's four of us here."

"Eh, it's all right – Sui won't eat anything apart from cherries."

Elraine stared Kiri, waiting for his usual grin, but it didn't come. "Really?"

Kiri nodded, no teasing in his eyes. "Yep."

"…Really?"

"Yep."

How was she still alive…?

xOx

[Did you ever keep that record of how many times Fallan tried to make an animal stay close to him? We eventually lost count, didn't we?]

"I think that's cheating," Kiri murmured, as he and Elraine watched Fallan try to coax a little kitten next to him, crouched down low, holding some piece of food that Elraine couldn't see. Behind him, Sui was sneaking, trying to close the gap between them.

When Sui was a few steps behind Fallan, he glanced at her over his shoulder.

And that was enough to send the kitten bolting away from him.

Fallan straightened himself while Sui flailed at him, wanting another bout.

"Argh! If I can get an animal to sit with you for more than ten seconds, that means I get to fight you!"

Elraine and Kiri's mouths both dropped open at the same time, staring as Sui dashed off without any acknowledgement from Fallan.

xOx

The first animal Sui tried was another kitten (or possible the same kitten. Elraine wasn't sure). Sui didn't get within ten paces of Fallan before she was injured far worse than in any fight Elraine had ever seen her in.

Elraine had desperately hoped no-one remembered their faces after the amount of screaming that had happened after.

xOx

The second animal had been a puppy; that had had the same results (but at least a lot less blood).

xOx

After that, Sui got…creative. She learned that anything with wings definitely wasn't going to work, and bugs just didn't stay in her grasp for very long.

When she presented a fishto Fallan, it flopped out of her hands and right into the cooking pot.

Kiri had been the one to cook that night and Elraine made very sure to not make eye contact with Sui while they ate.

xOx

Sui was grumbling as she stalked past Elraine and Kiri and they shared a look, knowingwhat that meant. Her body was covering whatever poor animal she was carrying but she didn't seem to be struggling with it. Had she finally found something that would stay calm (or had she hog-tied it?) near Fallan?

Fallan watched her approach, his expression not changing.

"There!" Sui said with a flourish, setting down a – tortoise? Where had she gotten that? "Let's see this one run away!"

Craning her neck, Elraine could only see its shell, everything else tucked in and hidden.

"It doesn't want to be close to me," Fallan said flatly.

"But it's here, and it's stayed here for more than ten seconds!"

"Not because it wants to."

Sui glared at Fallan, her body trembling, before she picked up the tortoise stiffly and started to carry it back to wherever she had gotten it from.

xOx

[I won't ever forget when we first arrived at the Sister's Headquarters. But then, a lot of it was new for me as well.]

They had seen the dark silhouette of the headquarters half a day ago and it was that sight, that hope that drove Elraine forward, putting one foot in front of another. They were so close; if they could just reach headquarters, then maybe, maybe they could do something about Troy.

"So…how big is the headquarters anyway?" Kiri asked as they neared the building, both of them stepping over the tree trunk at the same time, the pale moonlight filtering through the trees helping them to see. "I didn't think we'd be able to see it from this distance."

"It's…big,"Elraine said uncertainly, at a loss for words. She'd never had to explain it to anyone before. "It can hold every Sister and still have enough space to carry more." It was largely empty though, most Sisters traveling throughout the land – the ones who stayed were the novices, the researchers, or the ones who guided the Sisters out in the field.

Kiri whistled, his eyes wide. "I can't wait to see it."

Neither could Elraine – it had been some time since she had stepped within its walls too.

xOx

When they eventually made it to headquarters, Elraine took a silent deep breath to try and settle her nerves. Weeks of travelling, weeks of fighting, weeks of trying to stay unnoticed had finally come to this.

There were the usual guards posted at the front gates, and Elraine and Kiri were the ones to approach them first, Sui and Fallan watching their back as always.

The guards straightened up as soon as they saw Elraine and Kiri, their hands instantly going to their sword hilts. "Who are you?" one of them barked.

"Elraine," she called out, halting where they were, just in case it was taken as too threatening.

There was a pause as they stared at her, and then their eyes flicked to Kiri. "Your number?" the other whispered, her eyes going wide.

The question made Elraine's mind blank for a second – the last time she had said her number was weeks ago; she'd stopped thinking about it after they realised her phonecalls were what Gazelle was using to track their location.

"It's…4003," Elraine said after a drawn-out silence, hoping it didn't seem too suspicious.

At her number, the guards' eyes went even wider, and slowly they fixated on Kiri.

"Y-you can enter," the one on the left said in a hushed tone.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Elraine squeezed Kiri's hand in reassurance when she felt Kiri's pulse quicken.

"But your companions may not."

Both Elraine and Kiri's hands clenched at the same time.

"We trust them," Elraine told them, a frown tugging at her lips. "If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have been able to get here at all."

The guards blinked at her before they slid their gaze at Sui and Fallan. Elraine didn't have to turn around to know that Sui was grinning cheerfully at them, while Fallan was staring indifferently in another direction.

While they waited for the guards' decision, Elraine shared a look with Kiri and knew they were in agreement: they wouldn't allow Sui and Fallan to wait outside for them, not after everything they had gone through together.

The guard on the right cleared her throat and then stepped to the side, her partner following shortly after.

Sharing a relieved grin with everyone, they moved together to enter the headquarters.

There weren't that many Sisters-in-training wandering about and after a second's deliberation, Elraine started to lead them to the research facility. She heard Sui's quiet huff and Elraine breathed a laugh, glancing at her over her shoulder.

"I can show you where the Militaire Sisters train later." After warning whoever was in charge, just in case.

The grin that spread across Sui's face made Elraine remember she should have told Sui after, not before.

"So, this is where I get experimented on until I die, right?"

Elraine tried to elbow Kiri in the gut, but he hopped out of the way, an easy smile on his face. But he did have a point – Elraine had been focused on getting here, on what would happen after the cure had been found, not in the in between, because the before and after were hopes and a target to shoot for, something intangible so there hadn't been any point in think of howit would come about.

"Oh, I'm sure they wouldn't allow that to happen – they can't get data on you if you're dead," Elraine said mildly.

Kiri gaped at her, and she burst into laughter at his expression. "Hey!"

xOx

It didn't take them long to reach the research facility, and Kiri wasn't the only one who was gawking at everything in awe. Elraine had never been there either, knowing dimly of where it was, but never venturing over, too busy with learning what to do as a Sister, how to defend herself, and then she was too busy travelling around the world. The facility was large, with numerous machines clustered around that Elraine could only guess at what they did. In the centre were a group of Sisters, talking about something.

One of the Sisters raised her head and then froze when she saw them. "Elle?"

Elraine belatedly realised that it was Sister Martha – it had been far too long since Elraine had seen her in person.

As if there had been an explosion, she and Kiri were suddenly the focus of every single person in the room.

"You're-"

"That's-"

"You mean-"

The babbling of voices grew in volume, like a swell in the sea, the Sisters gathering close, but keeping a respective distance away.

There was a hush as Sister Martha stepped forward, bowing. "We thank you for coming," and Elraine could hear the crack in her voice, the waver caused by relief. "You don't know…"

Kiri rubbed the back of his head, an embarrassed expression on his face. "Uh…"

Sister Martha raised her head, her eyes apologetic. "I know you're tired from your journey, but would you be able to manage a couple of tests right now?"

Elraine and Kiri shared a look, but all Elraine did was smile at him; this was his body – this was his choice.

Kiri snorted and then tugged at her hand, raising an eyebrow.

Oh, right. Anything he would have to do, she would probably have to do as well, if not at least sit through it.

Elraine shrugged. They had kept a rather fast pace in the last stretch to headquarters, but she was only slightly winded. She doubted the tests would be anything strenuous.

"We can do it," Kiri said.

Sister Martha bowed again. "Thank you."

"Now, is there anything you two want to see while you wait?" Elraine heard behind them, and before she could warn the Sister about what she shouldn't mention, Sui and Fallan were already gone.

…The headquarters was going to be rubble when the tests were finished.

"If you could follow me?" Sister Martha said, gesturing in the opposite direction, leading further into the facility.

As they walked away, whispers trailed in their wake, of disbelief, of awe, of hope.

xOx

They were led to an unadorned room, furnished sparsely with only a bed, a chair, and a set of drawers. Sister Martha left, saying that she needed to find someone.

As Kiri slid himself onto the bed, a Sister stepped in after them, a tray of medical instruments in her hands. She kept her head down as she set the tray next to Kiri.

"Could you – we're…going to need a blood sample," she murmured, not looking up.

"Yeah, sure," Kiri said, looking at the tray curiously, his eyebrows drawing in slightly. "What do you need me to do?"

The Sister blushed and ducked her head further. "Just – um, can you extend your arm?"

Kiri did that, presenting it to her.

Very carefully, studiously keeping her gaze fixed on Kiri's arm, the Sister cleaned Kiri's arm. Her fingers flitted from place to place, never staying for too long; they weren't touching Kiri, Elraine realised, and from the way Kiri was watching the Sister, he knew that as well.

"Hey," he said softly, and the Sister stiffened, the syringe almost slipping from her hand. "I'm not going to be hurt if you touch me. I promise."

The Sister started trembling, shaking her head. "But," she choked out, "what if – what if you aren't completely immune? What if I touch you and I'm the one that-"

She yelped when Kiri reached over and grasped her hand. "Then it would best to find out, right?" he said, grinning. "No point making a cure if it only helps somepeople."

The Sister stood there, frozen, not breathing as she stared at Kiri's hand. When nothing happened, she started shaking again, the tray clattering as her hands slammed next to it. "I – I didn't… I didn't infect you…" she whispered, her eyes screwed shut.

"No, you didn't," Kiri said softly.

Scrubbing at her eyes before any tears could fall, the Sister took a shaky breath. "I'm sorry – I just didn't want to… Um." She lifted her head, smiling weakly.

"Heh, it's all right. Just, don't take too much blood!"

"Well, they might have to," Elraine teased, grinning at Kiri when he whipped his head to her. "They'll need to do a lot of tests."

"That is not-" Kiri yelped when the needle glided into his skin, and Elraine and Kiri watched in fascination as it filled with blood.

The Sister let out a shallow breath, keeping her fingers on Kiri's arm after the needle was extracted from his arm before she turned to Elraine. "I'm going to need a blood sample from you as well."

Elraine gaped at her, while Kiri started laughing.

Once the Sister was finished with Elraine, she stuttered, "I – I'll go make sure this gets started on straight away!" She dashed out the room, the tray somehow not making that much noise as it should.

Before Elraine and Kiri could talk about her, Sister Martha came back into the room, a couple of small vials in her hand. "I am aware that this is a little personal but…do you two need to go to the toilet?"

Um…

xOx

[It took us a while to settle down for that first night, didn't it?]

Her heart fluttering, Elraine pushed the door to her room open, wondering what Kiri would say. It wasn't as interesting as Kiri's, only sporting a record player and a few items that she'd found interesting on her travels. It also had a thick layer of dust on everything, making them cough, and Elraine wondered if they would be able to sleep with that in the room.

Kiri had been staring at her bed while Elraine had been thinking, but when she focused on it, she realised why.

It was a single bed.

"You can't construct a separator with that little space," Elraine stated, starting to bite on her lip.

"I could try, but we wouldn't have that much space to move before the separator was made," Kiri mused, scratching his chin.

"I think we should find another room anyway – it's too late to ask someone to move a bed here." Elraine frowned, realising something. "I wouldn't think there are that many double beds here; I'm not sure if there would be a lot of rooms with more than two beds in them either." She had never asked though, so she could be wrong. And…come to think of it, where were Sui and Fallan?

It took a bit of knocking on doors and poking their heads into rooms before they eventually found a room that was a decent size, and even better, it had far less dust clustered in areas than Elraine's room.

After making sure it wasn't occupied, Elraine and Kiri went in search of something they could use as a barrier.

They found Sui and Fallan while they were manoeuvring the broken table awkwardly around a corner – it was a little unwieldy, but they had used stranger things.

With the barrier jammed in between two bookcases and the bed shoved up against the wall, all four of them settled down to sleep like they had been doing since the start of their journey.

xOx

[Sometimes, the problem of having a destination in mind and heading for that sole goal is that you forget that something has to come after.]

Sister Martha was frowning at a sheaf of papers when Elraine and Kiri went to her workroom, and they stood at the doorway, unsure if they should completely enter or not. She hadcalled them but she seemed rather busy…

It took her a couple of minutes to realise Elraine and Kiri were there, and after looking startled for a second, Sister Martha sent them both an apologetic smile.

"If you two could take a seat?" She gestured to a number of chairs and a couch that were dotted around the room. "There's a couple of questions I need to ask you two."

Worry flickered in the bottom of Elraine's stomach. She wanted to believe that they would be standard questions, but the way Sister Martha sat, her gaze distractedly flicking back to the papers, Elraine didn't think they would be.

Once Elraine and Kiri were settled on the couch, Sister Martha cleared her throat and placed the papers onto her desk. "How are you both feeling?" she asked.

"All…right?" Elraine answered hesitantly, Kiri making a confirming sound as well.

"And," –Sister Martha's gaze went back to the papers again- "compared to how you felt before you two met, is it similar, different, or the same?"

Elraine stared at her in confusion, her eyebrows drawing in. What…? It wasn't any kind of question that she had been expecting. "I'm feeling a lot better than I used to," Elraine told her honestly. Which wasn't at all surprising, considering how she no longer felt the effects of Troy and Kiri's Flare was constantly in effect.

Kiri hummed, turning his gaze to the ceiling. "I'm the same as I was before we met."

Sister Martha's eyes sharpened on him. Elraine's fingers must have twitched at the suddenness of it, because Kiri focused back on Sister Martha. "You don't feel any different from before?"

"No," Kiri said, shaking his head.

"I see…" Sister Martha picked up the papers again, skimming its contents. "Your blood is unusual, and from its results, we've found that it produces a large amount of a hormone we haven't seen before." She sighed, straightening out the papers. "But since we don't have a sample of your blood before you met Elle, we can't know if that's normal or if it's because you're constantly nullifying the Troy in Elle's body."

And Elraine didn't understand most of that, but before she could ask, Sister Martha continued on.

"We do have a solution that we're thinking about but…it could be dangerous," she warned, keeping a steady eye on both of them.

Elraine and Kiri stilled. "Dangerous, how?" Kiri asked.

Sister Martha let out a slow breath. "It involves drawing your blood constantly, so that we can get concentrated forms of that hormone and-"

"It'll weaken me," Kiri said softly.

"Not only that," Sister Martha said, "but if we take too much, if we destroy the balance and your body can't produce enough of the hormone in time, Elle could die."

It felt as if Elraine's heart had stopped beating. "W-what?" she croaked.

"We also don't know if, since Kiri's body has been producing such high levels of this for some time now, what will happen if it suddenly stops doing that."

And it didn't look like Elraine was going to understand anyof this conversation. She could die if too much blood was taken from Kiri…? And if she no longer had Troy in her body, that could affect Kiri too…?

They were silent as Elraine and Kiri tried to absorb this new information.

"What are the chances of us dying?" Kiri asked.

Sister Martha shook her head. "We don't know. We'll be careful of course, but there is always a chance that either of you could die."

Elraine smiled at Sister Martha's words just before she and Kiri said, "We'll do it," at the same time.

They had a more than one percent chance of living – of course they would go for it.

xOx

[Those tests were pretty hard on us, weren't they? But we eventually got used to them.]

"You know," Kiri said mildly, rubbing the crook of his elbow, "I think you're vampires; that's the real reason why you want so much of my blood."

Elraine chuckled, watching Ashel take the blood away, while Sister Martha kept an eye on her and Kiri. There had been a number of times when too much had been taken, either Elraine or Kiri suddenly getting stricken by intense pain after those initial happenings, but they were able to work out what the maximum amount of blood was that they could take from that.

"How are you two feeling?" Sister Martha asked them as Elraine and Kiri settled back onto the couch. It was a question she asked every single time blood was taken from them, but it wasn't a surprise, after what had happened.

Elraine and Kiri nodded, Elraine smiling, Kiri waving a hand.

Sister Martha hummed, her gaze sliding towards papers that she had brought in with her. "I think, we may be getting close to making the hormone artificially – we shouldn't be needing to take your blood soon."

They sighed in relief at that, grinning at each other, but Elraine's smile dimmed as that sunk in. If they were near to finding a cure for Troy and she was given it, what would happen to Kiri?

"As for you, Elraine, we're hoping if we give you small doses of the hormone, that can slowly lower the amount of Troy you have in your system, rather than making it disappear all at once." Sister Martha gazed at Kiri. "We're hoping that that will mean your body can slowly adjust itself with each new dosage so that can lessen any of the withdrawals."

That did sound like the best option and really, it wasn't as if she and Kiri were in a rush to stop keeping skin contact with each other.

xOx

[Somehow, even after all the injures we had, I always forgot about Sui and Fallan's bedside manner by the next time we saw it again.]

"Here," Sui said, shoving a couple of tins in Elraine's direction. She fumbled with one, the second one dropping onto her lap.

"I – thanks," Elraine said, squeezing Kiri's trembling hand, hoping he would stop pretending he was asleep. He didn't, and continued to lie in bed, making sure his breathing was as deep and as even as he could make it. Dammit. Then again, he was helped with having pale skin and dark shadows under his eyes, his spiky hair falling limp over his forehead.

"They'll help you recover faster!"

And Elraine was notgoing to look up to Fallan, since she'd just heard the door open because she was sure he was going to be carrying in a plate of carrots.

They were nice thoughts, but when they were the only things they were given to eat, that was when it was a bit of a problem…

xOx

[It took a long time, but it didn't really, not when we were always together.]

Sister Martha stood beside the bed Elraine and Kiri were sitting on, smiling at them. "We have the results of your latest blood test, Elle – you no longer have any traces of Troy left in your body."

Elraine stared at her, her breath caught in her lungs. If she was back to normal, then that meant… She flicked her gaze to Kiri, who was staring back at her in shock.

Sister Martha excused herself and left the room, but Elraine barely noticed, her focus on her and Kiri's linked hands. She didn't have to touch Kiri anymore?

They sat there, silent, and she felt Kiri's hand loosen on hers, enough that she could easily pull free. He watched her, waiting.

Taking a deep breath, Elraine gripped Kiri's hand, feeling his twitch of surprise and then smiled. "Let's go get lunch."

Kiri's careful look faltered before a slow, wide grin spread across his face. He returned her touch, holding her tightly.

"Yeah."

xOx

[Of course I remember all these. And I'm going to remember everything else that comes after too.]