Sorry for the wait - I had difficulties with this one, I'm afraid. Anyway, thanks for reviewing/faving/story-alerting! Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own the Shades of London.

Disconnected: Part IV

Rory Deveaux opened her mouth to reply – to say something that would clear her name –, but no acceptable words came out except for a meager attempt at "I'll be fine." And that didn't cover it at all.

Some part of her was a deep, deep pit that she was very, very close to. One small wrong move, whether it was meeting Stephen's eyes (they were usually emotionless, blank; not now, however), or saying too many words and that pit would swallow her whole like she was a humongous hamburger.

She yearned for a hamburger. She was American. Hamburgers were greasy normal things. They were American.

And, if anything, it would delay Stephen's stubborn interrogation.

Stephen's brow furrowed even more, and Rory watched his fingers curl into fists. She grappled with her own sparse emotions; euphoria, the most miniscule bit of happiness, was still nowhere to be found. The options to choose from were limited: she could be sad, she could be mad, or she could be distant.

"Are you relieved?" his voice was able to be heard over the pounding rain. "Are you relieved that I came?"

"Stop that," she finally gripped his hand in her own. "It's weird." No matter how hard the girl tried, his fingers still persisted in forming fists. His nails pressed softly against the skin of her palm each time; the cursed Shade just wouldn't stop.

"Tell me whether or not you're relieved, and I won't continue," he said, his expression serious. "Childish, but if it's the only way-"

"I-" Rory glared at him. It was a question disguised as another, and that was clever. Pit pit pit pit pit pit pit pit must skirt around the pit- if I tell him he'll stop annoying me about it and then – "I-" she faltered.

It wasn't that she had no idea of what to say; the words were right at the tip of her tongue – if she even wished to say them in the first place. Recognizing the fact that she had attempted to jump led to the release of all of the thoughts she had strongly believed that she had kept at bay.

It was like waking up from a dream that helped her deal. She was in complete reality once again, with her reasoning laid out in her mind's eye. She could examine it for as long as she liked, because she and her mind weren't exactly on friendly terms.

Not at all.

She audibly swallowed.

His heavy sigh interrupted her train of thought, and the fists began to cease until they stopped altogether. She waited, but he didn't remove his hand. Instead, while watching the countless rain drops stream down the window pane, his fingers gently intertwined with hers.

She was immediately drawn to the fact that her nails were nibbled and uneven, and his were short and clean.

"I can't say it becomes better," the commanding officer began slowly. "Or, at least, better overnight," the corners of his lips twitched. "But, you're returning to London. That should help." He paused. "You're just….You're simply disconnected right now. That's all. You aren't going mad or insane or whatever you wish to call it." He squeezed her hand. "Whatever it is, Rory, you'll be all right."

They had somehow ended up closer together, but Stephen didn't seem to mind. A bzzt bzzt was to be heard, and he used his other hand to retrieve the phone. After glancing at the caller ID, he pressed the answer button and held it up to his ear. "Hello-"

"Is Rory okay? Boo is freaking out-"

"Calm down. Rory's fine-"

"What made her do it? Stephen, you know you can't talk to her!" Some clattering of utensils could be heard in the background. "I'm glad you saved her, but-"

"If you'd give me a moment," Stephen said tightly, "I'd tell you."

"Hold on. I'm putting you on speaker. Boo wants to hear." There were some unrecognizable sounds and then Callum said that they were both ready.

Rory waited, still focused on their hands.

"I don't know what made her do it."

"No way did you just drop her off-"

"Stephen, let me talk to Rory," Boo joined in.

"She won't tell me why she did it."

"Really?" Callum said, highly surprised, and was echoed by Boo.

As Stephen began to elaborate, constantly interrupted, Rory eventually gave up on following the conversation. She was indifferent, really, to the idea of him telling them. There were no strong urges to wrench the phone from his hand and end the call; there were no strong urges to speak loudly into the phone and gloss it all over. If anything, the load she carried felt lighter thanks to the fact that she was not the one who had to relay the story.

If this was normal, she was not aware of it. She only had Stephen Dene to compare herself to, anyway, and he was far from normal - so he barely counted in that aspect.

"What? That's ridiculous!" Stephen's untamed outburst disturbed the air. She jumped, the bed slightly bouncing, but his eyes did not dart towards her. "That's absolute rubbish and you know it." The voices were speaking too low to hear; either that, or Stephen had turned down the speaker volume. He withdrew his hand from hers; the warmth faded away much too quickly for her liking. He inhaled strongly, and said, his voice restrained, "Enough. I'll see you in a few days. Yes - yes - fine, I'll get more milk," he said, ended the call, and placed the phone on the other side of him. He ran his hands through his hair. "I didn't tell them all of it; just the basics."

She nodded in acknowledgement. "What was ridiculous?"

"Don't change the subject."

Her mouth tugged down to a frown. "Can't you just accept the fact that I don't want to talk about it?" she grasped the air for words - words that would make him stop. "You – of all people! - should understand."

His expression transformed to that of a lost child as quickly as she could blink. It was as if she had taken a hammer, and smashed the glass that kept up his defenses down. His superiority vanished. Her words had left a visible impact, and landed on their target so quickly, that it surprised even her and she covered her mouth.

"Stephen-"

"Okay," he managed to say, his throat obviously constricted by the grip of her well-aimed blow, "just - just don't attempt…again." His voice trailed off and his fingers clenched so tightly she knew that the knuckles were going to pop out of the skin. It was going to happen. She just had to wait, and soon she'd be rushing a Shade to the nearest hospital.

She almost wanted it to.

Just to clear the awkwardness that you could taste and Stephen's hurt that you could hear and it was simply so confounding to her that of all the things to come out of her mouth, it was that.

He briskly stood up, and Rory watched Stephen Dene recede, retreat, to hide away out of sight and out of danger. "I'll take you home."

"Stephen-" she grabbed his wrist, and his stiffness could be easily compared to the likes of a pole's.

"What, Rory?" he said. He was staring at her, yes, but she was merely not there to him. His gaze looked beyond her, and a deep sense of dread and desperation appeared - an intimidating buzzing at the back of her mind to see his eyes become nothing: no longer concerned or even emotional as a whole.

She glanced from side to side, expecting – wishing – hoping – for something, for an instigator. For something that would drag Stephen Dene back out again. He was like a Rubik's cube, and she had been so close to cracking him.

She needed him back again.

Rory looked up to him, and before she considered anything beyond the initial idea, and that there were more logical options - like just spilling out the entire story, but she was not one for the logicial -, she roughly yanked him down.

"Rory-" his sentence was cut off when she crashed her lips against his. He physically started, and he attempted to say her name again and ask just what was she doing. But, apparently thinking better of it, he let out a sigh – whether it was a sigh of defeat or contentment she couldn't tell, and frankly didn't care -, and began to move his mouth against hers in return.

Yep. Ended it there. I think there's maybe one more part to go, guys! -MythScavenger