A/N: I got a tiny bit stuck on the whole 'plot' thing, but here's the last part. Tiny, tiny spoilers for the end of the Women of the Otherworld series. Well, more my speculation, but still. Might give something away.
First, Tori freaks out.
Because he's Daniel and he's dying and people are shooting at them and she really, really doesn't want to die. Keeping her cool isn't her thing. She worked out a whole complicated system with Daniel back when he was a stranger she shouldn't trust just to help her deal with the fact that her powers go nuts when she gets upset.
So the first guy who creeps up on her as Daniel bleeds out while she can't do anything but watch, well, dies.
So do the next couple.
She's not even sure how she does it. She's freaked; they die (or at least fall down and don't move; she'll worry about it later). It takes her a second, but then she realizes that Daniel's still breathing, even if he's passed out.
Second, Tori takes a deep breath and calms down.
Calming down doesn't mean being powerless. That's what all the training was for, to ensure that calming down never, ever means being powerless. Electricity sparks from her fingers and she sends it through the trees.
Third, Tori has a plan.
It goes like this. Sensing spell. Energy bolt. The simplest plans are the best. There's still panic and fear, just under the surface, and she knows if she looks at Daniel again she's going to lose it. So she sticks to the plan. Sensing spell. Energy bolt. She calls on the power of her mixed heritage and freaky genetics and takes on anyone dumb enough to fight her.
"It's okay, Tori," Simon says to her. He's holding her up because she's very, very tired. But she...
"I got them all. Right?"
"You sure did. Are you—?"
"I'm fine. How is—?" But the words don't come and she's terrified of looking some place other than Simon.
"Daniel's fine, Tori. See?" He turns them so she can watch Maya and Rafe, Daniel between them. Someone's ripped off his shirt and they're doing something to his chest. "Or he will be. Maya won't let him not be fine."
The older girl glances back and gives Tori a look—a promise.
Tori glances around, sees Derek on two legs. "What happened to running away?"
"Not anyone left to run from," Derek says gruffly.
"You, um," Simon looks helpless. "Blew up the forest."
She did not blow up the forest. Yes, in every direction there are long rows of downed trees and what might have been small fires the rest of them had put out while she was busy making sure the Cabal Team couldn't get close. But it wasn't that bad. If you squinted.
"Imagine if I hadn't done it on purpose."
"Liz can't find anyone else," Chloe says, coming beside Tori and taking her hand. "We figured we'd just give Maya and Rafe a second to fix—Liz'll tell me if someone's still out there."
Tori takes a step and almost falls over except Simon's still beside her. The world is moving underneath her and that's not very nice. Sam brushes Chloe out of the way. Simon on one side, Sam on the other, they help Tori to the van.
"Derek'll take Daniel," Sam says gently.
At the quick reply, Tori feels her face flush. She's exhausted, but not enough so that she isn't embarrassed. It's one thing to like a guy. It's another thing entirely to have Sam be nice about it.
Simon tucks her into the van. When Derek comes in a long while later, he puts Daniel in so that his head—Tori glares. But she keeps his head on her lap and runs her fingers through his hair and tells him to hold on. Since, you know, he's already there.
"So, uh, what did you tell Daniel?" she asks Maya. She knows it doesn't come out smoothly. At this point, it hardly matters.
They're at a motel far from the city. Daniel gets his own room, where Maya and Rafe hurry to heal him. The rest are planning. Tori is hiding. She will admit that (not out loud, or to another person, but to herself; she is very much hiding).
"That he got shot. We got away." Maya's lips twitch. "That you were a little protective."
Tori glares and Maya burst out laughing.
"He wants to see you," Maya says. "But he also said that you think people make bad decisions when heavily medicated, so he said he'd wait."
"For now, Tori." Tori has never liked Maya's eyes. Mostly because of the eye sex with Rafe, but what she's doing just now, the amused, fond emotion in her eyes, Tori doesn't appreciate either.
"Jeez, you save a guy's life and all of a sudden he thinks—"
"He's hoping." It stops Tori; might have made her heart do this weird thing, too. "This is the part where I remind you I've known him forever. When we were in Arizona, he—he wasn't happy on the nights you couldn't talk."
Tori is not blushing. She is much too cool for that. Besides, Maya hadn't been able to figure out when Daniel was in love with her, so Maya's opinion doesn't mean all that much.
Still, Maya can rip Tori's throat out with her teeth, so Tori just mutters, "Oh."
Maya wraps an arm around her waist. "Come on," Maya says, "Let's find something to eat."
Corey laughs when she goes to see him.
"Oh, so today you decide to remember who I am?" Tori maybe whines. It's harsh because he usually doesn't remember and Hayley glares at her, but he just laughs again.
"Orey-o, you are super hot when you get mad," he tells her with a wink. "Poor guy won't know what hit him."
"A bullet hit him."
Corey gets serious. "He's okay." He says it for his benefit just as much as hers. It wasn't part of the plan Corey can barely remember when he's having a bad day.
"Let's keep it that way."
"Yeah," Corey agrees. "I was just telling Hayley I think they found us using a clairvoyant; we need to figure out how to counter that."
That's really, really bad, Kit says.
Cabals only use clairvoyants when it's really important. To prevent what's happening to Corey from happening. If they were willing to use a clairvoyant to find them...
Kit gives them an even longer list of measures they should take to protect themselves. It's all they can do. For now.
The second Daniel is well enough to travel, they start moving again. They ditch the car, take a bus, borrow another, anything to get away. Tori doesn't even have time to feel awkward about the forest thing because they have much more important things to worry about.
Anyway, the second the others leave him behind at the motel of the day in order to secure more provisions, she takes a deep breath and goes into his room so they can get this out of the way.
His hair's sticking up and Daniel hasn't bothered with a shirt (the bandages get in the way—even Maya and Rafe's healing can't perform miracles) and Tori just wants to kiss him, mess up his face the way the rest of him is messed up. She doesn't though; it's easy to see how he's leaning against the wall for support.
He should be in bed, but he wants to check the exits himself.
"You son of a bitch."
Okay, so maybe they aren't the most romantic words ever spoken. Tori's too pissed to care.
"Getting shot is not okay. Or a good idea. It is a very bad idea and, like, the dumbest thing you've ever done and—"
"No," she announces. "You got shot and you don't get to talk anymore. You almost—"
The half hysterical sound that comes out of Tori's mouth just then is pathetic. She's trying to sound authoritative but she just sounds scared. And tired. Mostly scared.
Daniel doesn't say anything about her voice. All he does is push himself off the wall, coming towards her.
"I'm serious," she says, hands up, because she's dangerous that way. He doesn't care, just keeps getting closer. "You almost die on me again—"
"I'm sorry," he says and just like that her anger is gone. All that's left is the fear in her stomach that she cannot deal with. "I didn't get a chance to thank you for saving my life, with everyone around before. Thank you, Tori. It was amazing."
That part's true. The magic is super impressive.
He laughs, looks so cute she just wants Chloe to split open the earth and have it swallow her whole.
"It might be the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me," he says and he's taking another step closer and she's not sure if she wants to step back or faint. She maybe shuffles forward a bit herself.
"There's not very many people who can stand being around me."
He bites off his answer, whatever it is. Tori wants to hit him. She settles for babbling.
"I took out a forest. And a bunch of Cabal goons, too. Let's not forget those. I think I've made my feelings here pretty clear. You can read them from the sky, clear. And meanwhile you haven't said..."
His good arm ends up around her waist. It's a very nice hand he has, settled against the small of her back. It's only a one armed hug—the other arm's got all these bandages, but still. Does a girl have to do everything around here herself?
"Any time you want to talk," she snaps.
"I can be very convincing when I talk. I can't take the chance—I won't do that to you."
Oh. And yes, she still thinks boys are stupid, but she gets it—after seeing the way it scares him for so long, she has to get it. The way it makes him nervous, the way he has to be sure. He keeps his feelings to himself (and Maya) and that's the way he thinks it has to be. It doesn't mean—
His hand is burning through the thin material of her shirt. Oh.
There's the solution, then.
"So don't talk."
There's a hint of a grin on his face and then his hand's not on her waist, it's cupping her face and he's leaning down or she's leaning up or, anyway, it really doesn't matter. Daniel is kissing her. Daniel Bianchi, benandanti, totally should have been a quarterback in another life, but it's not another life, it's this one, so he's going to be one hell of a demon-hunter one day—and he's kissing her. Nice and slowly, until she wants to just push him against the wall and—but he has too many bandages on already.
When he pulls away, she licks her lips. It's been a while since she's been kissed. She's never been kissed quite like that. Her boyfriends...she's never met anyone quite like Daniel. There's a stupid grin on her face that she can't stop.
"Think you get it?"
"More explaining," she murmurs.
"Okay," he says and gets back to kissing her.
Since he did just almost die on her, Tori doesn't mind torturing him a bit (a lot). She leaves him long before the others get back, makes him get in bed and orders him to sleep, tells him to leave the planning to the people who don't have holes in their bodies. When the others get back, no one says anything about how she stayed behind (or about her swollen lips). It's more a sign of how much Daniel's near death scared them than anything else. Lauren looks old and tired, but Tori doesn't care.
When the girls go to their room for the night, Hayley gives her a smile and Maya gives her a wink (Sam looks like someone killed her puppy, but that's not because of Tori).
It's Chloe Tori practically drags outside.
"So he likes you."
"That didn't sound like a question," Tori notes.
Chloe laughs at her. "We suspected. I mean, when he told Derek to lay off you I think he was just being nice but when he started spending all that time with you...you didn't seem to mind. I thought you might like him, too."
"For ages," Tori complains. She doesn't tell Chloe everything—doesn't tell Chloe how he kissed her neck and whispered in her ear, how he told her was in awe (exact words) of how strong she was, how he'd been wanting to mess up her hair for ages—because Chloe is the useless blonde girl that Tori can't stand. Except maybe Tori does.
Sam pretends she doesn't have a broken heart. It doesn't work—Sam hasn't gotten into a fight in days.
"It's my sister's birthday today," Hayley says one day. "I wonder if she has powers, too. Or if she ended up like Nicole."
Tori rarely thinks of Lara—she forgot her sister's birthday completely. Lara never had problems; if she had powers at all, they were easy enough to control. Tori has a sudden desire (that she blames on the exhaustion) to see her sister, to find out for herself. She wants to storm back into the house and demand her sister prove once and for all which one of them is better—there's a pile of mulch that says Tori's going to win. And she wants to see her dad again, her dad who—
"We're never going to get to go back."
The words come out before Tori can stop them, but she feels their truth as they spill from her lips. She learned there was no going back the night she called her father and her mother came instead. But...even though she wouldn't have admitted it, part of her still believed that somehow, someway, she would be able to return. Now, even in her secret heart of hearts, Tori knows it's not happening.
She can't go back.
"I know," Hayley says, hitch in her voice. "I—I know."
Tori hugs her friend and doesn't say that maybe it's a good thing. Maybe, just maybe, it's the best thing that could have happened to them.
Kit calls to check on them all the time, of course; Simon and Derek are his sons, even if they have the best supernatural body guards around. The boys keep in touch with their father, but Kit makes sure to talk to Maya and Daniel, too, makes sure the Project Phoenix kids are getting the orders he wants them to get.
After yet another call in yet another small town that isn't going to hide them for long, Daniel comes to sit beside her in the café. She's busy and he knows it; the phone call is nice, but the internet is better.
"What?" she asks, when she looks up to see him smiling to himself.
"Kit mentioned how important it was that I stay focused. Twice."
"Are you saying you find me distracting?"
And he kisses her and that's nice, she heartily approves of that. It even manages to distract her from...
"How does Kit know?"
"Derek told him."
"Told him what, exactly?"
"I got shot; you got us out of there; we're together."
"Oh, so we're together now? 'Cuz I don't really remember you asking me."
"Tori..." It's not a game, not to him. He's lucky she's fine with being the one to make...well, whatever move they're on now.
"You are my boyfriend. To be clear." When he smiles, Tori forgives him for making her be the one to say it. "But only if you realize I'm awesome."
"Realized that already."
Okay, so his nose is warm and it tickles and his hand on her cheek feels nice and he's kissing her and kissing is good, Tori missed kissing. But when she pulls away, she adds, "If you tell me you like me, I promise not to turn into a stalker."
Bringing up Nicole isn't the best idea. It ruins the vibe, most definitely. But she has to put it out there.
"It wasn't just that I was worried about having persuaded you to like me," he admits. "I needed time to—I know I might worry over you more than you think I should, definitely more than you need me to, I just—"
"You have good reasons." Serena. Nicole. Cabal goons out to kill them. Tori gets it. Theoretically. She gets it a lot better when he's kissing her.
"I'm sorry I'm such a mess."
"You should be."
"I'm working on it."
"You should work faster."
He laughs. "You're really super understanding, you know?"
"I've been told that."
"I really like you," he says, still laughing a little. "And I'm glad you're my girlfriend."
"Well, that's a start. Is that what you told Kit?"
Daniel groans and buries his head in her neck; maybe she squeals at that, a little. His breath is hot against her skin. "I promised I wouldn't let anything distract me from keeping you all safe."
Which he won't.
Tori cannot believe she finds his obsessive need to be responsible this hot. Before, on the outside, she put on a good front: good grades, good friends, good daughter. But this isn't a superficial thing with him; it goes all the way down. But his definition of good is something all of its own and maybe that's what makes all the difference.
"I can't believe Derek told him."
"I can't believe it took your overprotective brother this long." He kisses her neck, so lightly she thinks she imagined it; it still makes her shiver. "I think he likes me. When he doesn't think I'm dead wrong, which is a lot more often then I'm used to."
Watching Derek and Maya and Daniel try to be so very reasonable and logical while they all think they're the only one who's right is always vastly entertaining.
"Derek's not—he doesn't think of me that way."
"Yeah, he does. He might not like you—"
"He definitely doesn't like me."
"Okay," Daniel admits easily. Yeah, Derek doesn't like her. "But you don't get to pick your family."
It's just because of Chloe. Maybe. Maybe it's…maybe it's not just because of Chloe.
"Oh." Her fingers tighten in Daniel's shirt. "He didn't threaten you did he?"
"Derek knows you can take care of yourself. I think Simon was going to try, but Derek reminded him that, you know, we aren't living in a country music video."
"And anything Simon can do, I can do better."
Maybe Tori cackles a little bit before she goes back to making out with her really hot boyfriend.
Dating while on the run isn't exactly dating. Chloe and Derek have ways, of course (still together after all this time, though Tori frankly doesn't think Derek has it in him to even consider you don't have to like just one person ever). Maya and Rafe also make good use of the forest, but for all that Tori can totally show the forest who's boss with her eyes closed, it's not really her favourite place to make out.
"Amen," Hayley says. If Corey wasn't losing his mind, he would have lost something else after Hayley tells her the tale of Corey, the forest back home and a pathetic attempt to get to third base. Classy, Orey-o.
They have more important things to worry about. There are people trying to kill them, after all. Still, they are teenagers. It's a little weird that Simon, who really can pick up girls even on the run for his life, is the only one who manages to have sex...more than once.
Tori's thought about it (thought about it more now that sparing with Daniel usually ends with a kiss or two or twelve) but not a lot. She's always been a girl who's careful about her body and Daniel isn't the kind of guy who pushes (wasn't the kind of guy who pushes—now he's the kind of guy who needs an engraved invitation). Whatever is between them, it's still pretty new.
Rafe and Maya she thinks did, at some point, but then he started turning into an animal so they stopped. They're off-again, on-again thing is a little too complex for Tori to understand (too complex for them to understand, she thinks). Hayley's grieving (you can grieve for the living, Tori's learned). She'll flirt with Simon, sometimes, but they all know her heart's not in it (Simon really only flirts back to be nice).
Sam's still recovering from just having to disappear on her girl, though trying to talk about it gets Maya a split lip. Even Daniel almost gets a fist in the face (he just manages to duck in time).
Derek's too scared to hurt Chloe and for now she hasn't pushed. She's probably a little bit scared herself (Lauren is not helpful, is the exact opposite of helpful to her teenage niece who's starting to get curious about sex, but Chloe has Tori who has the internet so Chloe knows all about safe sex, thank you very much). Werewolves are still scary, even if Tory would destroy anyone who ever said that.
Not having sex doesn't mean Chloe and Derek aren't up to anything.
They're somewhere in Kansas, in a temporary safe house, and Tori's sharing a room with Chloe and Chloe is the one who says, "Do you mind if I switch with Daniel tonight?"
She does it for Chloe and Derek, who really don't have enough alone time together. This thing with Daniel ...a girl has standards. She doesn't want to rush it. But Derek spends a lot of time with Maya and Rafe and she can understand why Chloe gets a little frustrated. So she tells Chloe, "Derek and I are better at sneaking around."
Which is true.
A blur spell and she can slip into the boys' room without anyone seeing. She likes the nod Derek gives her, a tiny thank you that's really all she wants, before he creeps silently down the hallway.
It's nice, what with all the responsible talk and the incurable belief he has in his own rightness, to be reminded that Daniel is just a teenage guy. One who is so totally into her. One with great taste, obviously.
Really, they probably should have just gone to sleep, maybe snuck a few kisses or two, but she likes this, the way she feels warm, the way her body feels like it's being stretched taunt in the most delicious ways, the way his eyes have a slightly glassy look to them. Because Daniel is not the perfect gentleman she expected him to be, grabby and demanding and pleading, and she likes this side of him when the only thing he's worrying about is touching her, kissing her.
Okay, when people say Tori is a little power mad? They might have a point.
"Yum," she says between kisses.
"Tori," he warns her and it makes her laugh, that he's trying to sound disapproving just now. She's not a tease; but she doesn't mind if he thinks she is for a minute or two. "Tor—"
He makes himself stay quiet, so afraid of hurting her and then she's furious at the people who did this to them, who made it so he has other things on his mind right then when all he should be thinking is 'wow, I'm so damn lucky my girlfriend is this super hot.' She wants to smash something; she kisses him so hard it hurts.
They pull apart after that; he even gets up to use Derek's bed. They're both still panting a little, but she tries to make herself calm down.
"It's okay," she tells him softly. "You need to stop being afraid of what you can do."
Lucky for him Tori's learned a few tricks about how to stop being afraid.
They talk. A lot. Everything and anything she can think of. Her old boyfriends used to call her high-maintenance but Daniel doesn't mind that. As long as he knows what's on her mind, he doesn't care what it is. Sometimes, she thinks he likes the frivolous stuff the best because he knows for sure that's not his influence.
She even makes him a list, written down and everything, of what she'd be comfortable with, so he knows ahead of time that, while it's not a to-do list, if they go there, it's not because he made her.
But what really helps are the fights.
Not like that, because she can (and does) kick his ass blindfolded in training, so there's no point in them fighting each other. But in a 'go to a new town and find bad people doing bad things and see if Daniel can't feel better teaching people a lesson' type fights. If there were any doubts (if there were, they weren't Tori's), the look in Daniel's eye after the first one settles it. He might like fighting more than she does. She likes proving she's powerful; he likes the results, bad guys with tails between their legs, running off, promising never to do it again.
So Tori find them and traps them and lets Daniel teach them a lesson they won't soon forget (can't forget, not when his words get stuck in their heads). She can't help feeling a little proud of herself, at the way it helps him feel more comfortable in his own skin, knowing she's not scared (knowing she could watch him make people sorry forever). After all this time on the run, it's nice being the ones setting the rules for a change.
They bring Sam along, too, sometimes, because the girl needs to get out and it's good training. Sam might be broken-hearted but she's still Sam; she's a whole lot more bearable after she hits someone (the more people, the better).
Daniel does wonder why he can't call her Victoria and she threatens never to speak to him again, but other than that, it's good.
Well, aside from being on the run for their lives.
"I can't decide," Maya says to her one night, "If you trust him that much or if you're just that arrogant, that you don't think his powers will work on you."
From behind Maya, Sam says, "She knows they work on her."
Though he barely has to use them anymore—Tori can almost always control her powers now.
Tori glances up from the computer screen to watch their carefully neutral faces. "Is this an intervention?"
"I need people to want to do what I ask them to do for it to work," Sam says slowly. "He could get someone to kill themselves without them even thinking of fighting back."
They have to want it, though. Not necessarily what he was ordering them to do, Daniel explained a bunch, but part of them had to want to listen to orders or to give up control or to take a break from fighting or something that let him hook in. He could make people work against their own best interests, but first he had to figure out how to make it appealing. So the guy who punched a cop just wanted to commit more violence; the vandals in the last town wanted the attention cleaning up the neighbourhood would bring.
"That's just a theory," Tori says. He's tempted to try, she knows, but the others would disapprove (if only because it would draw too much attention to them), so he can't, she says, and he's pushing down the feeling for now.
"I know the Daniel I grew up with wouldn't do anything to you," Maya explains. "But…"
"None of us are the people we were," Tori agrees. "But he's not using his powers on me."
That or he's a great actor. When she asked him to show her what it felt like it took her forever to convince him to try and all he did was make her jump up and down. He'd been upset afterwards, too, that he'd done even that.
Maya nods. "So it's arrogance."
"Duh," Tori says with a smirk. When Maya refuses to laugh, she drops it. "If he wanted a mindless servant I'm not really the way to go."
"You are a pain," Sam admits. Tori flips her off and Sam snaps back and Maya tells them to please grow up.
"It's okay," Tori says, "That you're scared of what we're becoming. But you shouldn't be. He's not, anymore. It's awesome, what we can do."
"Sometimes when I look at you," Maya explains, "All I see is food."
"You want to eat me? I think you've got the wrong—"
"Don't even," Sam warns her. Tori shuts up, even though it would have been funny.
Instead, Tori tells Maya, "You try to eat me and I'll stop you. When Rafe…we took care of him then. We're a team. We'll help, if something goes wrong."
Maya gives her a small smile. "Maybe it's sweet, that you trust him that much."
Tori just returns her attention to the computer.
Simon gets sick.
Between him and Derek, they're usually wonderful about monitoring his blood sugar. But sometimes they have immediate life and death problems to worry about and Simon's diabetes become (a very important) secondary concern.
They all help out every way they can but after yet another escape, Simon ends up having to go to the doctor.
It's not bad, but when Derek brings Simon to where the rest of them are holding up, Simon looks tired. They're all tired.
"I miss school," Hayley says suddenly. They all glare, but she glares right back. "What? I miss school. I miss it. I miss being normal."
"Simon," Tori begins, "You could—"
"Shut up," Derek says to her. Simon's too busy glaring. Oh, please. Like she was going to be all self-sacrificing, getting them to leave so they'd be safe. She wasn't even thinking it.
Chloe leans over and whispers, "I've tried. They just don't listen."
"There might be a way," Maya says slowly. She's not sure, wants to be sure, but they don't have the luxury of that any more. Maya has the inclining of an idea and they're too tired not to try to make it work with everything they've got.
"What have you heard about the interacial council?" Tori asks Savannah on the phone. Derek's calling the werewolves, even though they won't like it, not since he turned them down, so she can do this. Having a friend whose life she doesn't occasionally have to save (and who doesn't occasionally have to save her life) is one of the few things that keeps her sane. Not that Savannah is her friend, ew, Tori totally has better taste than that, but it was still nice. She hopes this conversation doesn't freak Savannah out too much.
"They're the good guys. No question."
"You sound sure."
"You could say I've had a couple of close encounters with the interacial council. I know what I'm talking about. You can trust them." Savannah never hesitates for long; Tori likes that about her. "Or you could trust me and tell me what your deal is."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Please. You practically scream 'I have a deal.' And asking about the interacial council makes me think it might be a big one. They'll help you. But maybe I can, too."
"You own a Cabal?"
"Well, when you do, then maybe you can help."
"The council is meeting in two weeks. If I give you the info, will you show up?"
"You could be setting me up."
"You're too young to be that paranoid," Savannah says, starting to sound pissed. Maybe not at Tori. "Okay. I get it. I'll give you what info I have on the next couple of meets, so you can take them by surprise. They don't have the resources to have twenty-four hour security."
That's the problem. But Tori says thank you and means it.
"They'll help you," Savannah promises.
"I've heard that one way too often."
With Kit's data and Corey's visions, Derek and Maya hash out a plan. It's not that complicated, but they spend hours worrying over everything. They have to. The rest of them listen and offer suggestions, but they trust them. When it comes time, they trust Daniel will be able to persuade everyone else that it's a good idea.
They trust each other.
United we stand, divided we fall and all that.
Daniel thinks about working that into his speech for a minute, but Derek nixes it. Daniel's powers work best when the words come from him.
They've scouted the town out a month ahead of time, so when the time comes they just walk into the building where they interacial council is having its meeting. They know the exits. If this goes wrong, they'll have to fight their way out.
It takes a long time to figure out who gets to go in. Daniel, for sure, because he's doing the talking, but Derek and Maya argue for ages about who goes with him, since it wouldn't do to have too many predators scaring the council. Derek argues his superior strength makes him better equipped but Chloe quietly points out the surly attitude won't help. In the end, though, the fact he's a werewolf and the others aren't means Derek gets his way.
Everyone—absolutely everyone, Derek included—tells Tori to bind him if he starts getting snippy. All they have is their words and the ability to look pathetic, so that's what they're going to use.
Tori's going in for sure; it's not a debate because she's the best offensive weapon they have when there aren't dead bodies around. They do argue whether Sam or Hayley should go. All Sam can do is fight while Hayley can calm a crowd with the right song and Hayley looks tiny enough that no one should think she's a threat, but Sam might be able to sense if something bad is about to happen (Daniel will be concentrating on other things). In the end, Sam's experience with Daniel tips the scale. They know how to fight together, if it comes to that.
They hope it won't.
But Chloe will provide one hell of a distraction in case they need to get away, so Tori's not worried.
The security is limited though; they're all on edge, but they get in easily enough, pausing right before the doors to the hotel's meeting room.
"We relax when this is over," Derek orders them all.
"Down boy," Tori mutters and then she's pushing her way through the door because she doesn't want to listen to Derek's response.
Tori goes in first because her powers are strong, and because they might pass for normal if you're not looking too closely, and because like hell is she going to let anyone else pay the price if this goes FUBAR right away. As soon as she walks in, someone stands up, but a binding spell takes care of that and then Daniel's behind her, saying, "We're sorry for the interruption. We weren't sure how to get on the schedule. We need to talk to you. I promise we don't want to hurt anyone."
A woman, a very short woman with curly hair, stands up slowly and doesn't look too scared of the four teenagers in front of her. Sam's scowl is pretty impressive and so are Daniel's arms, if Tori does say so herself, but Derek can't help being scary even if they're all trying to look as non-threatening as possible. The short woman and Daniel do the politic-y stuff that Tori doesn't care about (except that if she ruins it, her life might be over), so she just keeps watch, making sure no one makes a move towards them. Savannah's leaning against the back wall.
"You're on the freaking council?" Tori demands. Loudly. Whoops.
Savannah doesn't mind the attention. She points to the short lady and the tall Hispanic guy beside her. "That's Paige and Lucas. And that's Adam," she adds, pointing to the guy Tori saw with her before. Tori finally makes the connection.
"So you're doing part of the council. You could have mentioned it."
"I could have, Barbie."
Sam snickers like she always does. Whatever (It's the first time Tori's heard Sam laugh in a long while).
Derek's growl interrupts. Tori picks out the werewolves, then; the werewolves are the ones who don't jump.
"Since you knew we were coming—" Daniel's worried, Tori doesn't have to look over to know; probably about to pull the plug on the whole thing.
"We knew you were coming; we still don't know why." Even Tori can tell short and curly—Paige, who doesn't look the way Tori imagined Savannah's do-gooding step-mother would look like at all—is holding back on them. They might not know who the kids are, but they have an idea. But the plan could still work, so Daniel asks for a chair.
They talk it out.
Yay, for diplomacy.
Afterwards, Tori complains to Savannah. "You could have warned me." She's actually getting a little repetitive.
"If I told you it was safe, would you have believed me?"
"Still should have told me."
"They'll help," Savannah says. "They're the good guys."
"Good guys without any power."
"No wonder they didn't let you talk."
"Blondes get better results." They explained what the benandanti can do, of course, but no one needs to know just how damn good Daniel is at it. No one's going to question why they let the blonde All-American guy talk for them (even the interacial council can't help a little quiet sexism/racism/whatever the reason they don't mention Daniel's technically Canadian).
"When this is over," Savannah says after a moment, "I'll let you look at my grimoires. That'll make us even."
"Is that the world's creepiest come on line? Because you're way too annoying to be my type."
"Ha ha." But Savannah's smirking now. "Grimoires are spell books. You and the grimoires are going to be epic."
Tori has to agree with that.
Tori wakes up early one day and for once doesn't stay curled under the blanket. There's this thing where her boyfriend doesn't really sleep much anymore, just paces around and broods and it's not at all attractive. Since she's awake today, she grabs a bagel and heads to the porch.
Daniel's sitting there, watching who cares what.
"Hey," she mutters and when she settles beside him he wraps an arm around her. That's nice. She likes that. He's warm and the morning air is cool and the contrast just makes her shiver in a good way. "You going to tell me what's wrong or are you going to make me guess?"
There's a small noise that could be a chuckle. His fingers brush through her hair—he is obsessed with making her hair stick up; finds it adorable because he's an idiot—and he relaxes just a fraction.
"The Alpha agreed. She gave the go ahead. We're on for thirteenth."
Predators don't belong to the Cabals is the point—how far the Pack will go to make this point is still up in the air but once, on record, might be enough when combined with the other stuff. The next phase is about to begin.
"So it'll be over, then. One way or another."
Daniel laughs. "You're cheerful this morning."
"I'm your little ray of sunshine," she agrees, just to hear him laugh again. His face grows serious (something about this being a life or death situation for them, maybe).
"If it works—when it works," he corrects himself because he's hoping his powers work on him, too, "We might be able to have stable lives."
Not normal lives.
That dream was chased out of them a long time ago. Supernaturals don't get normal lives.
"But?" Tori asks.
"The Edison Group might break up but there's no—they could do it again. They will do it again. We can't stop it."
"We could," she says. "We could hunt down every last single son of a bitch who did this to us, who helped do this to us, who thought about doing this to us. We go after them. Let them know we're coming, too. And then we take them out. We could do it; hell, I bet the two of us could do it by ourselves."
Daniel laughs and pulls her closer, so she's half on his lap. That's very nice.
"Go all Bonnie and Clyde on them?"
"Sounds fun," she murmurs against his throat and she smiles when he shivers.
"It wouldn't be enough. It still wouldn't make what they did right."
"I don't mind what they did that much," she says. Not the trying to kill her part (or the killing Liz part), but the other part. The part where her fingers grow warm and when she puts her hand on her boyfriend's thigh he jumps. And his eyes darken and it's quite nice.
"It's not what they did," he says as he grabs her hand. "It's that they thought they could."
The kiss is a preview for something Tori's beginning to think she wants (she's seventeen, but she feels older and younger all at the same time). There's something she finds reassuring about Daniel, though. He'll always pull her back before it gets too dangerous.
"So what do you want to do?"
"I don't know," he admits.
"I want a new laptop."
Daniel laughs and tugs her so she really is on his lap, now. This kiss is short and sweet. "I'll make sure to start the list of demands with that. Tori needs a new laptop."
"And a new wardrobe. Since you're making a list."
"I like your wardrobe." The shirt is threadbare and worn and almost see-through. Probably not almost, if Daniel's grin is any indication. "But we'll put it on the list if you want."
"This list is going to get very long, very fast, isn't it?"
"I should have brought paper out here." He's smiling but he looks tired; a lot of their plan depends on getting the right people to listen and even Sam can't help him with that.
"I'm sorry we can't help you more."
Because if there was a fight, she'd be there. She'd take on every single Cabal for Chloe and Derek and Simon (the makeshift family that means more than her real one ever did) and for her friends (friends who she gets into fights with, but friends she'd fight to the death for, every time). But it's not a fight, so she just has to trust in all the work they've put in before.
"You do," Daniel says quietly. He's tired but his expression makes her blush. "You've been amazing, Tori. It's kind of why I'm in love with you."
There's never been a boy who stuck around long enough to say that. There's never been…Tori thinks she loves Chloe and Simon and Derek, but they don't say things like that. The last time anyone's said that to her, said it and meant it, it must have been—well, her parents never said it. Maybe Lara said it, once or twice when they were kids, before she became the sister from hell.
It's nice, she decides. Which works, because that's what she thinks about Daniel, most of the time.
"Okay," she says, because she has to say something and her brain isn't really her friend right then. Daniel seems to understand—he kisses her, so clearly he understands something. Kissing is good. Kissing is always good when it's him.
When they pull apart, she rests her head on his shoulder. "We can make the St. Clouds squirm a bit."
He laughs. "I'd like that."
"Good. I love you, too."
"I like that, too," he says and kisses her again. This time, they pull apart when Derek comes by, clearing his throat.
"Good morning," the unfriendly neighbourhood werewolf snaps. They take it as a sign and go get breakfast.
They travel to Miami and find a motel on the outskirts. They all stay together in the single room they've rented (what the hotel clerk doesn't know won't hurt them). They need to stay together tonight because if this works—well, that'll be it. This is it.
If it works.
She and Hayley have a nice talk (about boys, fashion, hair—normal people things) and then they both go sit by Corey and even if he doesn't remember who they are every single minute he remembers he cares about them for at least a couple of minutes and they'll take it.
With Chloe, Tori apologizes—Chloe says it doesn't matter. Tori ends up crying, but they don't say anything about that either.
She tells Rafe she's glad he's back, tells Maya she's wishes she could be here when she grows up (Maya understands what she means; they're cool; Maya's letting her date Daniel, so clearly Maya doesn't hate her).
Kit takes her aside and tells her that no matter what happens, he's glad he got the chance to know her. He's proud he's her father.
When Kit moves on, Simon's there. "Hey, little sister."
"Oh, please," she snorts (it sounds funny because her nose is stuffed but she can't help that). "I can still beat you up."
They get into some of the old defense moves he once taught her, trying to flip each other onto the ground. They're laughing so hard by the end, they both end up on the ground, but it doesn't matter. After the laughter stops, they just lie there, quietly, beside one another.
"Think it'll work?" Simon asks her quietly.
He breathes deep; she wonders if it hurts him as much as it's hurting her right then.
Right before she heads to bed, Derek comes up to her. He hugs her. That's all.
The only thing she has are her superpowers and her people. It's enough.
Miami is a bureaucratic, political nightmare but there's a lot more than one or two trigger happy gun toting idiots around so Tori's not bored. She doesn't even get to listen to Daniel's speech (though she's heard him practicing it enough times) because she's got all her attention focused on the room around them, watching all the men in suits who want to cut Daniel open as they stare at him as he demands they stop treating the kids like science experiments.
There's other speeches of course. Tori almost falls asleep from all the speeches. There's one from the Alpha—the blonde woman doesn't look all that scary, but she snarls, once, near the end, talking about how they killed the three boys they created, and damn if the men in suits don't all jump. Lucas, Savannah's foster father, isn't nearly as scary, but the men almost look respectful and that doesn't seem to be something they do all that often, so it might be a good thing.
It's not really the speeches that are the important things, Derek and Maya had explained (over and over). It's that once everyone knows—once everyone knows everyone else knows—once word carries from the supernaturals in the board room to the supernaturals around the country that the Cabals executed children who are not dangerous, thank you very much, then it'll be that much harder for anyone to kill them.
So when the speeches are over the very nice men in suits start offering them jobs.
The only part of the mess in Miami that Tori isn't bored out of her mind for is the end.
Everything is hopeful and sunny, so she grabs Daniel and drags him downstairs. Might as well make out in the garage—and it's a sign of how giddy he is, how relieved he is that it worked, that he managed to pull it off, that Daniel just laughs as she pulls him through the building. He doesn't even stop to worry about how dangerous it might be.
And they're making out on the hood of a shiny black SUV when the guys in the black suits clear their throats.
"Sorry," Tori says, pulling her shirt straight, "Hey, you guys are the St. Clouds, right?"
The look Daniel gives her just then she remembers for a long time. It's a very nice look.
"No hard feelings," Daniel says diplomatically, sticking out his hand. There are four men there (and a lot more bodyguards) and they take the hand Daniel offers because they still want the kids even if now they have to play nice to get them. Tori wasn't listening to the speeches, but it doesn't matter. Daniel was paying attention. She knew he'd be listening. All Tori does is make sure that the St. Clouds think Daniel mumbles when he speaks to each one of them in turn. If he lingers with the one in his fifties who once thought funding crazy scientists was a good idea, no one seems to notice but her.
The St. Clouds leave.
He doesn't kiss her afterwards. It feels good but he isn't going to celebrate it. It's just what he is.
"What did you say to him?" she wonders very quietly.
"I just said I hoped he felt as guilty about what he did as he should."
"I may have phrased it differently."
Tori wraps her arms around him and lets him lean against her. He's had a really long day.
"You did good," she tells him.
"We did okay," he agrees.
Alastair St. Cloud kills himself two weeks later.
(it takes that long for the guilt to eat away at him and Tori thinks that it says a lot about the guy)
People speculate that he was falling on his own sword, giving the company a scapegoat, but they aren't talking about it all that much. Supernaturals who screw up often end up dead.
No one says it could be the guilt—Cabals don't feel guilty.
Neither does Tori.
The Cabals are still the assholes who created children they couldn't control and tried to kill them for it, but they've got unlimited bank accounts and if you can't buy forgiveness, no one ever told that to the Cabals. They offer everything they can think of—especially to her and Chloe, the girls who would have been put down for sure, but are valuable now because they managed to survive puberty without ending the world (wasn't that lucky?).
Chloe is a little less than polite when she tells them to go to hell. Tori is so proud.
Chloe's going home to her father and if she turns up missing again all the Cabals are going to start pointing fingers at each other, so it's better if she doesn't turn up missing. Tori figures going home might also have to do with Derek relocating to New York state. Simon and Kit are going to Buffalo, too, even though Kit's going to stay on the go. He still has things to organize, mistakes to atone for, making sure the lists of names of kids the St. Clouds messed with is complete.
If it's complete, no one goes missing. The interracial council tells them to trust the Cabals to police each other, so they will.
The werewolves give the cougars territory, mostly in the southwest, (not just Maya and Rafe, but all the other kids Kit had found and hidden over the years, the names the St. Clouds had been forced by the others to make public) and the Cabals are advised to stay out of their way.
Predators don't share.
There's a lot of reuniting with parents that makes the Tori want to scream, though she likes Hayley's sister a lot and Corey's mom looks so glad to see her son whatever condition he's in that Tori can't help smiling through her tears. Sam bawls when her fake aunt shows up for her and Tori should be laughing but she finds her eyes suspiciously wet for that, too.
Daniel's dad doesn't show, but he's not surprised. The Delaney's offer to take him in (they have to take Rafe in and they don't look like they know how to respond to that). Daniel says no thank you; he's eighteen now, anyway. He doesn't say that Maya isn't the daughter they remember. It might have been Rafe who started forgetting he was human, but there's something decidedly animal about all the skinwalkers.
Or maybe it's just that they aren't quite human. None of them are and all the happy family reunions might be touching, but that's because no one's admitting it just yet.
Almost all the families end up settling for deals offered by any Cabal but the St. Clouds. Too bad, so sad.
The Nasts—well, the Nast Corporation that he agreed to talk to, apparently against the other Nast corporation on principle—promise Daniel they'll pay for school, law school and everything else he might want. He is a little geeky about the whole thing, but Tori doesn't make fun of him too badly because the fact everyone just assumes they can get her into MIT when the time comes is kind of really cool. Part of the reason he picks the Nasts is because he likes Sean Nast, CEO, when Savannah introduces them. Thinks Sean is the sort of guy who does the right thing, even if it isn't what people might call good.
Part of the reason he picks the Nasts is because they are very good about paying for his travel expenses (Tori thinks they know exactly how Daniel would play in front of a jury).
Cambridge isn't that far from Buffalo if you can afford to take a plane.
It isn't like Tori can leave her family, okay? She is just seventeen; she has to stay with Kit.
Tori is too busy taking tech classes and Sabrina School classes to worry about the whole job thing (though she works internships with both the Cortezes and the Nasts Daniel doesn't hate to test things out). Witches aren't really welcome in the Cabals and she isn't so keen on working with organizations that think people like her are second class citizens, even if they recognize she is totally better than the rest.
There is always the interacial council. They could use some real fire power.
Tori's keeping her options open.