This story though was requested by an Anonymous reviewer and Cat and NCIS Obsessed. They wanted a piece that went through some of Doyle and Emily/Lauren's courtship, and this was the best I could do with a one-shot. Really, it deserves to be a chaptered epic, but I just don't have that in me. I hope this satisfies.

The end switches POV, but it felt...appropriate to tie off the story. I considered breaking if off, and posting as a separate one-shot, but this story just needed something else, and that seemed to provide it. So, let me know what you think.

Also, this follows 'It Takes a Village', so there will be spoilers for that.

" And I'd give up forever to touch you
'Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't want to go home right now

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies
Yeah, you bleed just to know your alive"

Ian sat at his discount dining set, pieces of his weapon spread out over the table, and his cleaning kit in front of him. He was wearing nothing but a wife-beater tank top, sweat pants, and his own scruff. He needed a haircut and a shave badly, but either depression or simple preoccupation had let him neglect simple hygiene issues. It certainly wasn't the first time in his life, but the others had been when the fighting in Ireland was active, when they didn't always have time or access to showers, clean clothes or barbers.

Hiding always came with it's own set of inconveniences.

He used to have homes in three different countries. They were comfortable, even cozy, with servants, fine furnishings, and wide, beautiful grounds. The rolling hills of Northern Ireland, the land that would always be his home, the warmth of the sun beating down over the lush green of the Tuscan countryside, and the sweet smell of the ocean that hung over the small town in the south of France. This was where he used to call home. Before he met Lauren Reynolds, the woman that changed his life.

Now, home was a dingy 500 square foot apartment in an old building in the low-income section of Washington, D.C. It had a bathroom barely big enough to pee in, a sparse kitchen, and barely room enough to fit a dining set. There were a lot of things Ian Doyle could sacrifice, but he was not some peasant. He didn't eat on the floor, and he was raised better than to eat in his bed. It didn't matter how bad the apartment was though, not until he found his son. Ian didn't need more than this until he found Declan, and then they could find a new home together. It was the only thought on his mind since he'd lost everything for the second time.

Except for her of course.

Whether locked up and rotting away in a North Korean prison, or hiding in some pathetic hovel, she always found her way into his brain. Lauren Reynolds. Emily Prentiss. He still wasn't sure who he thought of her as, or if he could think of the two women as the same person. They were, he knew this, but it was still very hard for him to reconcile. He'd loved Lauren. He'd loved her more than any woman he'd ever known in his life. Part of him still did love her, and that's why he couldn't seem to forget her. Part of him still clung to those happier times.

Their caravan of two pulled up slowly to the meeting spot, a deserted little area behind an older couple's sheep farm, and crawled to a stop. Ian remained seated, allowing Liam to get out of the lead SUV first, and assess the area. With his long-time associates, he wasn't quite so cautious, and if he was honest with himself, the beautiful, flirty smile she'd worn when they'd met made him nervous. There was something dangerous about her, something that he found highly intoxicating.

There was only one other vehicle there, an old, beat-up smaller model SUV. Ian watched the door open and a woman come out, and walk toward Liam. She was frowning in disappointment, distrust or confusion, he wasn't sure, and she was also packing, at least at the small of her back. He'd bet that was only one of at least a few weapons she'd hidden on her person.

Ian watched only a few minutes longer, before he climbed out of the second SUV, and joined the party. Lauren eyed him with annoyance.

"What's with the shadow games?" She demanded.

"I've never worked with you before. Had to be sure," he explained. "Lauren Reynolds, my second in command, Liam O'Grady, Liam, our new supplier."

"She's nicer to look at than the last one," the older man said.

Ian grinned. "Aye, she is that."

Lauren's annoyance deepened. "Would you like to move your wandering eyes onto the merchandise, or are we going to stand here all day while you picture me naked?"

He chuckled, and even Liam cracked a smile. "Lead the way."

She nodded, and turned to the side, unlocking the back of her vehicle. It was a small shipment today, meant to test her skills, rather than add to their storehouse of weapons. He'd requested a handful of weapons any dealer could wrangle up, and a few pieces that would take not only skill, but a reputation in this business as well.

She pulled out small wooden shipping container, and cracked open the top. "MP9s, five of them, and there's ten boxes of ammo underneath the guns."

Ian nodded Liam to take one, and examine it. He removed the magazine from the machine pistol, checked the trigger function, the firing mechanism, and every other piece of mechanics in the weapon.

"So?" Ian asked the other man. Liam nodded.

"You satisfied then?" Lauren seemed almost bored.

"Aye, so far. MP9s aren't so hard to come by though."

She raised an eyebrow. "It's a popular weapon. They're easy to use and cause a lot of damage with limited effort."

She sounded almost disgusted. Ian smirked. "Not your first choice of a weapon I gather?"

"Only amateurs need that much fire power. You can accomplish just as much with a an automatic pistol and a 15 round magazine if you know what your doing."

"You got the rest?" Liam interrupted their slightly off-topic conversation. He stored the MP9 back, slid the lid back on the crate, and passed it to one of their men to take to the SUVs.

With a smirk Lauren pulled off the lid on a larger crate. "TAR-21s. These ugly SOBs were not easy to get, I assure you."

"Look at that…" Liam's eyes were instantly fixed on the weapon, almost like love at first sight. He took one from her, and went about examining it.

It was an Israeli-made assault rifle, common to their military, but not used outside the country widely. Not yet anyway. It had only been on the market a few years, and was steadily growing in usage.

While Liam focused on the gun, Ian was still focused on Lauren. "I gather you'd prefer a more traditional breed of rifle?"

She smiled. "I would. I think most of these new military weapons lack finesse and elegance. When is the last time you held a rifle with wooden grips finished a beautiful dark cherry and soft as a baby's skin? Even AK-47s had wood grips built into the design."

His eyebrows touched his forehead. "AKs? An old-fashioned girl."

"You can't be an expert in anything until you appreciate the history behind it."

Liam cleared his throat. "If you two are finished…it's good. There are ten of these?"

Lauren nodded, and pointed to the box beneath. Liam nodded over two of their men, and directed them to carry off the boxes.

"Now we've just got the M203 and the pistols," he reminded her.

"Of course. The pistols are in that box, down there. 44 caliber semi-autos, just as you requested. And, I've got the M203 under here." She snaked her arms under the seat, and tugged a hard plastic case free. While she opened the plastic case, Liam glanced at the pistols, and waved a hand for one of the men to take them to the cars.

"It should fit on one of the TAR-21s nicely, just do me a favor and be careful with it. I'd hate for my newest customers to accidentally kill themselves."

Liam pulled his eyes off the grenade launcher attachment long enough to glower at the woman who'd just insulted his skill with weapons. Ian chuckled. "She's joking, Liam."

He glanced at Ian, and took the case with the M203 over to the vehicles. Lauren watched him go and turned back to Ian, her smile still in place. "Your friend doesn't have much of a sense of humor does he?"

Ian just smiled.

He'd never met a more brazenly confident woman, or one who knew weapons so intimately. They were her business, her livelihood, and her passion, at least so he'd thought at the time. It was her passion and confidence that had attracted him, the way she spoke effortlessly about the weapons, even the way she toyed with the two of them, clearly enjoying every minute. Ian had always been attracted to strong women, fearless women, warriors like himself.

In their own way, Lauren and Emily both were warriors. He often wondered how much of Lauren was really just Emily, how much of their time together wasn't really an act. From his brief experience with Emily Prentiss, he'd guess that Lauren and Emily shared much more than she'd ever admit. Yet, he still felt so differently about them, because he still loved Lauren and missed her terribly, even if she wasn't real. It didn't matter. Once you love someone you don't fall out of that feeling.

Ian gently shook his head, trying to send thoughts of her away, even though he knew it wouldn't work. He focused on his weapon, carefully replacing each cleaned part and slamming the fully loaded clip back in place. He rested the weapon on the table, and ran a hand over his head. Images of Lauren were still as fresh on his brain as they had been seven years ago.

It was their first real date after months of flirting over weapons deals. He'd pulled her aside after the exchange early that morning, one hand suggestively grazing her hip, and invited her to dinner. For several seconds all she'd given him was a coy smile, before finally agreeing and instructing him on where and when to pick her up. Any other woman he might have put her in her place for trying to take charge, but there was just something about Lauren.

She sat across from him now, sipping red wine, and wearing the same smile that she'd had the night they met. She ran her tongue over her top lip as she thought, and his eyes were glued to the unconscious gesture.

Collecting himself, Ian cleared his throat, and set down his fork. "So tell me Lauren, how did you get into this business?"

"Absent parents," she said.

"Oh? How's that?"

She sighed and pressed her lips together. "They were always very busy and concerned with their own lives, so I was left to my own devices a lot. I guess you could say I fell into a certain crowd. An older guy, father of a guy I was friendly with, he had this bar, a lot of characters passed through, used it to do business. There isn't much a guy won't tell a girl with low cleavage, a flirty smile, and wandering hands."

Ian chuckled at that. "Not opposed to using your feminine wiles to get what you want then?"

"I didn't sleep with any of them, just made them feel like I might want to."

"Is that what you're doing here?"

She shook her head, smiling. "No, if I wanted information from you, Ian, I'd be milking you for it right now."

"Fair enough," he paused, "How about we take a walk then?"

Her brown eyes focused on his, carefully reading him, before she nodded, understanding his intentions. "I hope it isn't too far."

He threw some cash onto the table, and stood up, Lauren moving with him. He rested a hand on the small of her back, and gently escorted her out of the restaurant, holding the doors as they left. The walk was short, to a hotel only a couple blocks away. It wasn't a very large town that he'd chosen for the deal, though it was far away from anything and surrounded by forests and fields. Either a perfect area for a clandestine meeting.

He led her to his room, keyed the door, and held it open for her. By most he'd be considered a bad man, but in some ways he was certainly better than many men. He was killer, but also a gentleman. At least, until they passed the threshold.

But it was Lauren who started things almost as soon as the door was shut and locked, spinning around and grabbing his neck to pull him into a full-mouthed kiss. He slid his tongue between her lips, and wrapped his arms around her waist, bringing her flush against his body. She slid one of her long legs between his, and purposefully shifted just enough to draw a moan from his mouth as he grew hard.

"Satisfied that information isn't what I had in mind?" She whispered the question, close, he could feel her lips brushing his ear.

"Quite." He captured her lips again, and moved her backward toward the bed.

He pushed her back onto the bed, one of his knees coming to rest on the mattress in between her legs. Ian found her legs, and began to slide his hands underneath her dress, hands traveling over her warm skin, pushing her clothing up as they moved higher on her body. He skirted the area around her groin, letting his attention linger more on the soft flesh of her belly, before continuing up higher. When he reached her breasts, he only briefly traversed the area, fingers trailing over the lace-covered cups, before he suddenly pulled away, and gestured that he wanted to pull her dress off.

She nodded and leaned up, allowing him access to the zipper in the back, which he grasped in one hand and pulled down slowly. With his other hand he followed, fingers tracing down her spine delicately, earning him a shiver. With the dress off, she was in nothing except a bra -a lace bra that sat against her porcelain skin, displaying her breasts perfectly- matching panties, and thigh stockings.

He pulled off his own clothes quickly, and straddled her, bringing her arms up over her head, and kissing his way from her neck to the top of her panties. When he rubbed two fingers over her clit, she tensed at the sensation, even through the fabric. Ian carefully pulled her underwear down her legs, and flung them somewhere across the room. He'd barely returned his focus to her when he felt her hand slide into his boxers, sliding over his length. He swallowed and inhaled, his eyes briefly closing as her fingers danced along his sensitive skin.

She worked his underwear down, and pulled him close, finding his lips again. Ian's head was half-spinning as she touched him and kissed him, and sent him into sensory overload. Just as he was had gotten so hard it was almost painful, she moved her hand and her mouth, and let her tongue travel over his neck to his hear. "You have a condom?" She asked.

He didn't move or speak for a moment, his mind still frozen from her ministrations. She repeated herself louder. "Ian, you better have a condom."

He shook himself, and smiled at her. "Of course, Love."

He made for his bag and came back with a strand of condoms, ripping one off and open, and slipping it over himself. In that time she'd removed her bra, exposing her breasts and pink nipples, already hard from the foreplay. He straddled her once again, taking one breast in his mouth, and working his tongue over her skin. She gasped and moaned, and cried out when he reached down and slipped a finger inside her. He added another finger and began thrusting in and out.

"Oh…Oh god…Ian…Ian," she gasped and muttered as he worked her.

Once satisfied, he removed his mouth from her breasts, and adjusted his position, so he was between her legs. He kissed her lips again, and felt her arms wrap around his body. He rubbed himself against her opening before slowly sliding in, swallowing her gasp as she adjusted, before pushing in even further. Her fingers grew tense, digging into his back for a grip. He pulled out quickly, and then slid back in again, going even deeper this time. Lauren wrapped her legs around his back, just above his butt, and hooked her ankles.

He finally had to break their kiss as he began thrusting at a steady rhythm, sliding as deep into her as he could go, and pulling out. The pressure built higher and higher in his body, and Lauren gasped and panted beneath him. She moved her body perfectly with his, gripping him tighter and tighter as she grew closer to climax.

"I'm getting close," she said. He increased their momentum, bringing her over. Lauren screamed loudly as her body clamped tightly around him, and brought him with her. He felt himself explode, the pressure releasing in fast rush.

They collapsed in a tangled heap.

Ian sometimes wondered what his life would have been like if Lauren Reynolds had been real. He wondered at the life they'd have had together. Declan would have had a mother, brothers and sisters even, if he could have convinced her. She wanted Declan to have the world, and he didn't fault her for that. The boy was a Doyle though, and Doyles were warriors. It had always been that way. He always quickly brushed those fantasies away though, fantasies were for little girls with dreams of Prince Charming.

Did a young Emily Prentiss dream of Prince Charming? Something inside him, said no, that she'd have been too smart to believe in such things. He knew that not everything she'd told him had been a lie, and he often wondered which parts were true. From his extensive research, he knew that she grew up with wealth, and often with wealth come absent parents. That wouldn't surprise him, there was a deep loneliness in her, both Lauren and Emily. What he was certain of, was that the young girl she used to be certainly hadn't dreamt of him.

Doyle turned as he heard a quiet bang echo through the building. He moved from the table and headed to the window, gun in hand, brushing the curtain aside just enough to look out. Black SUVs, a sure sign of Feds if there ever was one. There was no time for thinking, and no time for shoes. He'd deal with that later. He hurried to his closet, pushed aside his suits, and pushed the cover of the heating vent up. Ian got a grip on either side, and heaved himself up through the small hole. He turned to the right, and shimmied through the vent.

They wouldn't catch him. Not today.

She was spending this weekend this time.

Lauren had arrived late last night, appearing tired and a bit travel weary, but still smiling appreciatively at Villa and teasing him about his taste for extravagance. He hadn't asked her where she'd been to, just like she never asked him where he spent his time. Ian had simply welcomed her in with a steamy kiss, and a promise of a hot dinner before he took her too bed. She demonstrated her gratitude later that night.

They'd been seeing each other for almost five months now, and had spent the weekend together before, but never at his home. What they did required extra security, even with those they were intimate with, and Lauren never questioned it. She was well aware of the life, and didn't pester him over the details or complications. They discussed work some, generally heavily cloaked in euphemisms and code names, but it was all they could do.

Ian enjoyed seeing her in his bed, sleeping peacefully and naked in his sheets, the morning light hitting her pale skin just right and giving her an almost ethereal glow. It brought out the red in her hair as well. With the pale skin and reddish hair, she could have been an Irish girl; his mother might even have accepted her. His mother had been a great woman, but she'd be adamant that her only child would marry an Irish Catholic girl.

He ran his fingers gently over her bare skin, and she stirred, and looked sleepily up at him. "Morning, Ian."

"Good Morning, Love. Sleep well?"

"With you? Always." She beckoned him close and pressed a kiss to his lips.

He hummed in satisfaction. "Don't be tempting me now, Lauren."

"And why not?" She asked, kissing along his jaw.

He made a half-hearted attempt to keep her mouth away from his skin. "I made plans for us. Breakfast, and then a ride through the country."

"A ride? Like on a horse?" She asked.

He chuckled. "No. More of a, what is it you American's call it, a hog?"

Her eyes lit up. "You're taking me out on a motorcycle?"

"Got a new one Thursday, thought I'd wait to try it out." Instead of responding, she practically tackled him, her mouth seeking and finding his easily.

As it turned out, they were late to breakfast. But when they arrived they were showered and dressed, and ready to go as soon as they'd eaten. Though, since they were late, Declan was up, and sitting quietly as Louise cooked his breakfast for him.

"There you two are," Louise greeted. "Let me just bring him into the kitchen with me."

"Oh, it's fine," Lauren was quick to say. She looked at him. "You don't mind him eating with us, do you?"

He smiled at her. "Let him be, Louise."

She nodded and headed back to the kitchen. Ian watched as Lauren walked right over to the three-year old boy, and sat beside him. Ian sat across from them, and watched the two interact.

"Hi, what's your name?" Lauren asked.

"Declan." His voice was quiet and shy, something Ian hoped to break him off in the years to come.

"Hi Declan, I'm Lauren."


She smiled. "Louise is your mom?"

Declan glanced quickly at him and then turned to Lauren and nodded. She sat there watching him a minute before she attempted to engage him again. "What are you playing with?"

He held up the little blue train engine with a gray face on the front. She pretended to be all excited. "Oh, I think I've seen him before. He has a name right?"

Declan nodded. Lauren smiled in amusement. "Do you remember his name?"

The little boy nodded again, a small smile on his face. She was smiling widely back now. "So, can you tell me?"

Grinning now, Declan shook his head back and forth.

"No?" She gaped. "You won't tell him his name?"

Declan giggled and shook his head again.

"Aww, come on. Why not?" She asked. Declan shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, you know what happens to little boys that don't answer adults' questions?" She asked in a teasing whisper.

"No," he said, his mouth retaining the 'o' shape longer than necessary.

Lauren leaned close and whispered to him. "There's this thing, and it comes to get them. It's called the Tickle-monster!" She spoke the last part loudly and began to tickle him.

Declan squirmed and giggled and shrieked in delight, and Lauren laughed with him. The smile that had been on his face steadily as he watched the exchange widened, but then disappeared, replaced by a more thoughtful expression.

He had fallen completely for Lauren Reynolds. Seeing her with his son, Lauren so natural with the boy, it made him wonder if he'd found the woman he'd spend the rest of his life with.

He'd been stuck in the damn interrogation room for hours. His hands cuffed to the table in a way that made him hunch uncomfortably. But that was irrelevant at the moment. What was relevant was that his son was missing and they were making him sit there and do nothing. His boy was in trouble, and he was unable to try and help him at all. He was just supposed to sit there and let the FBI find him.

Ian supposed he should give them some credit. They'd tracked him down today, and they'd followed whatever trail Emily had left seven months ago. Of course, they'd been too late then, she'd died anyway, but they had found them both. He supposed if any group of Feds could find his son, it would be this group. They certainly seemed awfully persistent, and he knew it wasn't for his benefit. It wasn't even entirely for Declan.

It was for her.

They loved Emily, as he'd loved Lauren. He could understand both their feelings for the woman, and the pain of losing her. Lauren was the woman he would have married had things been different, and that made killing Emily, her vessel, rather difficult. Not exactly at the time, and not that anyone would ever believe, but killing her hadn't been easy to bear. Yes, she'd destroyed his life and disappeared his son, and he would have gladly killed her for that, but part of him ached for it.

He ached for the loss. Lauren was a great deal of Emily, and in killing the FBI agent, the spy that wormed her way into his life, he'd also killed the woman he loved.

He heard the knob twist and the door opened. Ian looked up then, right into the eyes of a dead woman.

When he'd first suggested it, she'd insisted there wasn't much point to it. She traveled so much she didn't really live anywhere. Ian had smiled and told her, fine, she could come and not live in his home with him. Lauren had smirked at that. Eventually, he'd gotten her to agree, and today she was coming and bringing her things with her. She'd warned him it wouldn't be much, and Ian had rolled his eyes, and commented that the definitions for that differ wildly for a man and a woman. He'd earned another smirk.

He'd done things he'd never given much thought to before, namely making space for her. He'd cleared part of his closet, and had one of the spare rooms converted to an office for her, so she could conduct her business undisturbed. He'd stepped into the bathroom, prepared to make some room in there too, but decided to just let her figure that out on her own. Women had a lot of bathroom items, and he wasn't sure where she'd need space.

Declan was excited. When he'd told him that Lauren was going to be living with them, the boy could hardly contain his excitement. In the six months since Lauren's first weekend at the villa she'd come regularly, always bringing smiles to both Doyles. Ian had never been the romantic sort, but with Lauren, it was different. He wanted her in his life, he wanted all of her, and he'd told her as much when he gave her the gimmel ring. If he'd had his way, they'd have each worn a piece until the day they married, but Lauren wasn't interested in marriage, so he'd settled for the symbol on a chain.

The sound of a car coming down the drive pulled his attention away from his thoughts and to the present. He'd had a car meet her at the airport and drive her to the villa, and the dark town car had finally arrived. He noted Declan standing a few feet from him at another window. The boy turned to his father, grin plastered on his face. Ian smiled, maybe today would be the first step to giving his son a proper mother.

"Stay inside for now, Declan," he directed, before heading to the door.

Like a gentleman, he opened her door, though the deep, possessive kiss that followed was decidedly not gentlemanly. He stepped back, his hands gently holding her arms.

She smiled. "Good to see you too, Ian."

"How was the trip?" He asked.

"Just fine, the driver was very kind." She nodded at the man as he brought her bags around from the trunk.

There were only two: a large rolling suitcase, and a duffle of a much more rugged fashion. He eyed the bags and then looked at her. "That's it?"

"I've got my laptop and a cosmetics case in the back with me."

Ian eyed her, still not convinced. She nearly laughed. "What? I told you there wouldn't be much. You have to limit your possessions when you don't really live anywhere."

"A woman's idea of "not much" is usually about twice this." He said.

She shrugged. "I guess I'm a different kind of woman."

Ian smiled. She was certainly, he'd already figured that much out. He reached into a pocket and pulled out some cash, handing a generous amount to the driver, and taking the two bags from him. Lauren grabbed the two from the backseat and shut the car door. He waved to the driver, and nodded her toward the house. She opened the door herself, and stepped inside, like the place was already hers. He was happy to see it.

"Lauren!" A little voice cried, as Declan ran up and wrapped himself around her legs.

"Hey sweetie," she greeted, hugging him with her free arm. "I actually have something for you in one of these bags."

"Like a present?" He asked excitedly.

"Sure," she said, maneuvering them to the nearby living room, so she could set her bags down. She turned back to Ian, and bent to retrieve something from the pouch of the suitcase. She turned back to Declan. "I was in Barcelona, in Spain, when I got this."

She opened her hand in sitting in her palm was a small, wooden cat. It was painted black, and sitting on its bottom, its tail wrapped around it's legs, and head angled toward the side the tail was on.

Declan frowned confused as he picked up the figurine and studied it. "It's a cat."

"Yep. I got that from an old gypsy woman. She carved and painted it herself, and you know what?" Lauren asked him with exaggerated enthusiasm.

"What?" Declan was listening intently, sucked in by her theatrics.

"She was blind."

"Really?" The little boy gaped, looking at the cat again.

Lauren nodded solemnly. "Completely blind, and she carved and painted that little cat herself."

He glanced at the cat again, then back at Lauren. "How?"

She pressed her lips together, and shook her head seriously. "You know, I don't really know."

He looked down at the cat, turning it over in his fingers as they watched. Ian wore an amused smile, and wrapped an arm around Lauren's waist. "What do you say to Lauren, Declan?"

"Thank you." He gave her another hug, before returning his attention to the cat.

Ian tried not to laugh at his sudden fascination. "Why don't you go put the cat in your room, Declan?"

He looked at Ian, and then ran off to do that. He turned Lauren to face him. "Did you really get that thing from a blind, gypsy woman?"

Lauren nodded. "She had to have been about 100, and had the worst cataracts that I've ever seen."

"And, did you bring me anything from this little adventure you went on with the gypsies?" He teased.

She rolled her eyes, then smiled seductively. "Actually, I did." Lauren waved him closer with a finger, and he brought his face within inches of hers. Without warning, she captured him in a heated kiss, one hand on his neck, the other grabbing his shirt to pull him closer. Her tongue invaded his mouth, and stole his breath. Then as quick as she'd attacked, she pulled away.

She gave him a smug look. "You get to open your gift in the bedroom tonight."

"Can't wait." He smiled and kissed her again, grabbing her around the waist again. He moved back after a minute, but still held her in his arms. Ian ran his fingers through her hair as he spoke.

"Welcome home, Love."

Ian heard the shot before he felt it penetrate his throat. It felt like white fire slicing through his neck, and he knew he wasn't going to survive this showdown. He fell to the ground, suddenly unable to move or even stand.

Chloe, the crazy bitch, had gotten her revenge, and by the sounds of the firefight above his head, had died for it. He heard Emily move toward Declan, ready to protect him at all costs. It didn't surprise him one bit. While it was a given that she hadn't felt for him, when he'd felt for her, or rather Lauren, she'd definitely loved Declan.

Breathing heavily, Ian raised a hand to his neck, and felt a warm, sticky river pouring out beneath his fingers. He brought his blood soaked hand toward his face, as if he actually needed the visual confirmation of his own mortality. His fingers were soaked in slick, wet red. It grew oddly quiet then, the firefight apparently over, and that's when he felt eyes on him. Ian looked over and saw those of his son fixed on him.

The boy had grown so much. He wasn't a man yet, but not far from that day. He was definitely not the little boy he had been, the small child that changed his life the day he came into the world with a shrill shriek. The boy reached out his hand tentatively, and Ian did his best to meet it. For the first time in seven years, he was allowed to touch his son, and as they joined hands the boy spoke the sweetest words Ian could imagine hearing at that moment.

"I remember you."

He felt his body weakening, and knew his time was nearly come to an end. He looked the child in the eyes, and said, "I'm sorry son."

His focus then drifted toward Emily, who held Declan in a protective grip. She looked almost upset to seem him dying, even stunned, like she believed him to be immortal. His eyes grew heavy, and began to drift shut. Before everything went dark, he caught the shortest glimpse of Lauren's dimpled smile as she chased a giggling Declan around the living room.

The cemetery was empty. It was far too early for anyone to be there, and that's exactly why she'd chosen now to come. The figure moved delicately through the stones, as if she knew exactly which plot she was seeking. She stopped in front of a fresh grave with a brand new headstone. The inscription was simple.

Ian Cillian Doyle

May 15, 1965 – September 21, 2011

Loving Father

The burial in Washington had been so his son could have closure. Other than a 12 year-old boy who had only vague memories of the man, Ian Doyle had no other family to care where he was laid to rest. Except for her.

She sought privacy and solitude in the cemetery, because it would be far too difficult to explain to those she loved. They wouldn't understand her complicated relationship with Doyle, or why she needed to come here today. She could hardly explain it to herself. But, his blood soaked hands and sorrowful eyes refused to leave her mind. The final moments of his life mixed inside her head with the day he'd nearly killed her, and the hundreds of memories of their happy, but false relationship as lovers.

She crouched in front of the stone, and stared at his name. She brought a hand up, closed her eyes, and delicately and slowly traced each letter with her fingertips. Her fingers slid over the smooth stone and sharp edges, and it was in the crevices that she dropped her memories. In each letter of his name, she released some of her nine-year burden, feeling it rise from her shoulders like some much dead weight. When she reached the 'E', she opened her eyes, and took hold of the flower she'd brought with her.

It was a single red rose. She set the rose delicately in front of the head stone, careful of the thorns, because it would be so like Ian to drag one last drop of blood out of her. In one last gesture, she pressed her lips to her fingers, and softly touched the stone one last time.

Emily pushed herself back to her feet, turned away from the stone, and walked out of the cemetery for the last time.

"And I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am"

Iris, Goo Goo Dolls