This is a Clyrnin fic for Naruto Rox; I hope you enjoy it.

I don't own anything


Myrnin's eyes were bright and feverish, complete with a manic glint that made Claire realise that work today would be ten times more exhausting than it usually was – and she never left feeling that she had enough energy to do anything but go home. The aftermath of today would probably be with Claire for at least three days…and since tomorrow Claire had a meeting which would require ultimate sarcasm, (aka a meeting with Oliver) she was not impressed.

"Hello, Claire!" Myrnin shouted from across the room, causing Claire to groan – internally, of course. She didn't have the patience to analyse the meaning of her groan, not today. "Are you excited to work this fine, fine morning?" as Myrnin spoke, he flew across the laboratory, stopping not half a metre away from Claire.

Close up, he looked…different. There wasn't the usual smile on his face that accompanied his manic phases, yet there wasn't the sanity that she had grown to rely on lately; he was in a strange mixture of moods, and that basically guaranteed that today's work was not going to be boring, or even straight forward.

"Uh, I will be if you don't have any knives poised to kill whoever goes into your cupboards," she said sharply, recalling what happened the week before. She had gone into one of the storage units on the far side of the room, one of the ones that she usually avoided after Myrnin told her Bob had made them his home, and had been seconds away from death; three knives had launched themselves in her direction as soon as the door opened, and only Myrnin's recollection of this booby-trap saved her head from being removed from her body. Since then, she had refused to touch anything in any cupboard, no matter whereabouts in Morganville, to Shane's great amusement, and was willing to milk the situation as long as possible.

She had a feeling that it wouldn't work today, though; Myrnin seemed in the sort of mood that he wouldn't care about what he had done to her in the past, and that she was there to work that day so that was all they should care about.

Myrnin raised an eyebrow at her tone but didn't say anything, stepping aside to let Claire further into the laboratory. It was only when she didn't have his face to see that she knew what was different about it: he was guilty about something. But what? And, more importantly, why would he be guilty around her? The only thing she had forbidden him to do was put her brain in the machine…and unless he was planning on breaking that promise today, he didn't need to be guilty.

Deciding not to press it – if he was going to break his promise, she'd rather not bring it back to the forefront of his mind – Claire took a step closer to something that was on the main desk. It was some sort of machinery, a design that she hadn't seen before, and the pieces of sharp metal that jutted out from it gave her the idea that it would be pretty lethal if used as a weapon. Something about its structure, however, reminded her of the machine downstairs, the one that had once housed Ada's brain and now housed Frank's, and that worried Claire. Why would Myrnin want to build a machine that would either control people, or be able to move people around the place?

"Myrnin, what is this?" she asked, turning around to face Myrnin…for him to be right in her face. Again. He seemed to seriously be enjoying trying to scare her today, or was moving without realising how quickly; either way, it threatened her life even more than usual. "Why are you making another machine – is the other one broken?"

Myrnin's eyes swiftly looked away from Claire, and she knew in that moment that he was going to attempt to hide some information from her. She hoped that he would think against this; after all, he would now that he had been caught out, and if she had to, she could always threaten to go to Amelie. If it was something legal, he would tell her anyway…but if he didn't want Amelie to know, then her threat would work out.

Finally, he spoke, taking steps across to the other side of the table as he did so, running his finger along one of the pieces of metal that were sticking out from the main body of the machine. "It's something I've wanted to develop for a while," was all he said, evading the question Claire had asked.

She raised an eyebrow, feeling more confident than normal, and given that his voice had lost the slightly manic edge it had had when she entered the lab, she felt safe enough to say, "and? Myrnin, you know that that isn't answering the question." As his silence continued, she had to add, "if you don't tell me, I'll tell Amelie that you're doing something illegal." Claire felt like such a tell-tale, but she had to; if she didn't find out what he was doing and it ended up affecting Amelie's rule of the town, it would be her fault, in their Founder's eyes. It didn't matter how illogical that was, it would be what happened if something happened.

Sighing deeply, Myrnin looked at Claire, no hint of a smile on his face. "You're turning into quite the threat-maker, I must say," he told her, though Claire hoped that the edge to his voice wasn't going to bode ill for what happened to her. "Wait here two seconds, I shall find something I need to finish this…" he said, trailing off as he moved so quickly, Claire couldn't see where he went.

He was more than two seconds, though. Just as Claire was about to yell for him to come back or she would go tell Amelie right then (she thought he was running away to avoid answering the question) Myrnin returned, a screwdriver and a piece of copper in his hands. "You know how I have always desired to visit other parts of the world and see how they have changed?" he said, and Claire shook her head. "Oh, well, perhaps I have not shared such ambitions with you of late, I forget about the short recall human brains have, but I have that desire. I want to see how New York has changed since we moved to Morganville, see whether or not Paris still has a famous bakery with the most delicious pastries…I want to see the world!"

Claire sighed. She now had a very good idea as to what this thing was, and she wasn't impressed. "You don't normally seem fussed about being locked in Morganville – you're pretty much the only vampire who wants to stay."

Myrnin shook his head vigorously, setting down the screwdriver, and he swiftly moved around the table to be merely a metre or so from Claire. "I want to see the world!" he said, his voice filled with desire. "I want to, just for a little while, get out of this comfortable world Amelie has created for us…I want to see whether or not she is right to do it. Do you not understand, little one? I have been here for almost two centuries; that's two centuries of living in the same place, never leaving, never seeing other parts of the world. We used to run, used to move whenever the fancy took us…but now we are here, stationary and never changing." As he spoke, his voice both grew more and more desolate, as to represent his mood, but he bounded around the laboratory as though he was young and filled with energy. The two things didn't go together, but Claire didn't question them; she was too focused on what he was saying.

"You can't do this!" she shouted at him, feeling the need to increase the volume of her voice. One hand reached out to touch the machine, and there was the feeling of some sort of beat pulsing through it…and all she hoped was that there was no brain in there. "It's not right, and it's not allowed; Amelie will kill you if you leave Morganville! Don't you understand? It isn't a law that you feel the need to break, like when you drive, it's something that you've not been allowed to break yet, and that you're never going to be allowed to!"

Myrnin stopped moving at this point, froze in the position he was in, though his eyes focused back onto Claire's. She could see the coldness, the hardness there; she knew he was angry now, angry that she had both not been excited and had reminded him that it was wrong, what he wanted to do.

"You don't want this, do you?" he said, and Claire shook her head slowly. It was too dangerous to get on Amelie's bad side, especially nowadays, with Richard gone. "I would have thought this would have appealed to you more than almost anyone, Claire; you, like me, are not from Morganville. You have lived outside its walls, have known the world of being able to move locations at will. I…I thought that you would want the experience once more, to go to cities you have never been to before, to escape Morganville's constraints just for one day." He sighed slowly, lowering his gaze. "I was wrong about you, Claire. I thought that you were adventurous, that you were like me."

Claire knew that this was Myrnin's attempt to goad her into agreeing to what he wanted; his insults were designed to make her say that she wanted to do this, just to prove that he was telling a lie. But, unlike normal when she would fall for it, Claire knew that this was a bad idea; it would only lead to conflict and problems, something Myrnin couldn't see. So she was willing to look like a coward…if it was going to save her life, she would do anything.

"You're right," she agreed, taking a step away. "I don't want any part of this; it's wrong, Myrnin, and the only thing it can bring is trouble. Do what you want, I don't care…but this isn't for me. I want no part of it. If that means I'm a coward in your eyes, so be it. I'd rather have my life than stand in high stead to you…goodbye, Myrnin. I'll be back whenever you've finished this ridiculous idea." With that, she turned and walked up the stairs, back to ground level, and Myrnin never called her back.

She knew he wanted her to go back, though…she just couldn't.

~x~

"Claire…Claire…Claire…you need to wake up."

This was the first thing that Claire heard as she came to, and it took a few seconds for her to process that it was Myrnin whispering in her ear. Myrnin, as he seemed to enjoy doing recently, was in her room, in the middle of the night, waking her up.

She wasn't having it.

Opening her mouth to scream, Claire suddenly found his hand covering her lips, preventing her attempt to make a sound being effective. "Ah good, you're awake," he said, far too cheerily for some time pre-dawn. "I know that you were opening your mouth to merely greet me at this fine hour, but I had a fear that you were going to scream, which would be detrimental to what we are going to do today," Myrnin continued, and Claire rolled her eyes. Of course he would have something for her to do at an ungodly hour.

Motioning for him to get off her so that she could sit up, Claire was thankful when the cool hand was removed from her face. "What the hell are you doing here at—Myrnin, it's three o'clock in the morning!" she hissed, noting the time on her alarm clock. "Could this not have waited until it was a time that didn't mean waking me up from my sleep?"

Myrnin merely stared at her. "Goodness, I'm glad that you don't normally work with me in the morning. You're awfully cranky."

Sighing extremely loudly, Claire turned away from Myrnin, lifted up her pillow and put it over her head. "Not listening...now go away, Myrnin. I want my sleep before I go and annoy Oliver."

"Whilst that does sound like a good way to spend your day, little one, I have already allocated you to a short trip," he said, and Claire froze. No. He couldn't be there to take her away from Morganville…

"Get out of my room now, or I'll yell for Shane," she threatened, but the only response it evoked was laughter. "I'm serious, Myrnin. I'm not going in this little time portal thing you've got!"

"Firstly, it's merely a transporter, I cannot take you back through time, and secondly, you want to see your parents again, don't you?" The way that Myrnin said it, it was so casual that Claire almost disregarded it…until she thought, that was.

Her parents had packed up and left Morganville; it was for her father's heart, but their brains had been wiped. Amelie wasn't going to force them to return. If she didn't ask them to come back – and she never would, not if it meant they would never be allowed to leave again – then she would never see them again, and Claire didn't know if she could handle that.

Sensing that her hesitance meant she was coming around, Myrnin knelt down by Claire's bedside and smiled at her. "You want to see them again, if only for an hour or two…and I want to leave Morganville. Why do we not go to Paris this morning – it's ten in the morning over in France, and I am sure their croissants are delicious fresh – and then visit your parents' abode this afternoon? If we are sneaky about it, Amelie need never know that we have left." The way that he phrased this made Claire think that, so long as she left Shane and the others a note so that they didn't worry, she would be able to get away with disappearing. Amelie wasn't going to pick today of all days to come and irritate her, and the odds that she would visit Myrnin were astronomically small, also; her closeness with Oliver continued and from what Myrnin had said, there had not been a visit from Amelie in many weeks.

Very slowly, Claire nodded. "Fine…but we need to take I.D, fully charged phones, money and everything that we could possibly need, just in case something goes wrong." Instantly, she regretted thinking like this; she was trying to have faith in Myrnin's machine and considering contingency plans meant that she had doubts.

"I sorted them already, little one, and I even wrote a note for you to leave for your friends!" Myrnin brandished the note proudly, and Claire took it from him, unable to stop herself from laughing as she read it.

Dear Sheve, blond boy and I-wish-I-was-a-vampire-hunter

I am spending the day with my perfect, clever boss, who would like to teach me things that will make me even more apt in all aspects of life. It would be appreciated if you do not interrupt, for I may not get a complete education if interruption occurs, and I'm sure that you want me to have that.

Also, you all need to clean up because this house is an absolute state, I have not seen a home as bad as this since the last time I visited Oliver's home.

-Claire

"Myrnin! I can't leave this!" Claire said, trying to be appalled but failing miserably as a smile spread across her face.

"You have to agree that all points raised are true," Myrnin countered, raising an eyebrow as he spoke.

"I don't know what Oliver's house is like!" Claire reminded him, but all Myrnin did was shrug. "Give me ten minutes, and I shall be in your laboratory; I need to get ready and leave a proper note addressed to the people who live here."

"But…" Myrnin began, stopping when Claire shot him a look.

"Myrnin, I'm in my pajamas," she reminded him, at that point realising that her top was rather low cut and therefore pulling up the quilt to cover her body. "I'm not going to Paris in them…and you're not seeing me in them, either!"

Shrugging, Myrnin walked across to the portal, and Claire was certain that she heard him say, "I saw it all anyway, little one," before he walked through, but she couldn't be certain.

Anyway, she had to get ready to go to Paris!

~x~

As she stood by the machine – which turned out to be linked to Frank, yet only magnify the teleportation aspect of Frank – Claire hesitated; this was bound to be a bad idea, and if anyone but Myrnin had suggested it, she would have instantly said no, but she was drawn to the idea of going with Myrnin. Getting out of Morganville with him would be…interesting, to say the least, but it could be what she needed. Part of her was confused about how she felt with regards to Shane and Myrnin, and potentially, a situation which didn't revolve around science would help her make her mind up. It wasn't as simple as 'choosing' Shane or Myrnin – firstly, she had to even decide if there was anything between her and Myrnin – it also involved her deciding whether or not she would enjoy the other's company in the long run.

But she was also getting to see her parents, which was basically the crux of this plan; the excitement at getting to see them was so great that Claire had almost forgotten the painfully early hour it was. Almost, but not quite.

"We're ready to go," Myrnin said, his tone extremely excited, and Claire smiled, taking a step towards the door that had appeared on the wall. It was a new door, one that seemed made of plastic and glass, and Claire wondered why this was the case – but decided not to ask. It was probably just because the machine was new, and the door matched to the newest style available.

"So, whereabouts in Paris are we headed?" Claire asked Myrnin as they walked towards the portal door in tandem. Claire's bag contained everything they could potentially need: money, food, her passport (she didn't think it hurt to be prepared) mobile phones (two, both fully charged) and Myrnin had even managed to dig up an old map of Paris from his possessions, so they were taking that. She didn't think it would be particularly helpful, given that it was compiled before the Eiffel Tower had even been constructed, but Myrnin had insisted that she put it in her bag, and just as she had been unable to say no to his asking her to come with him out of Morganville, she was unable to say no to taking the map.

"Just to the south of the River Seine, I think," Myrnin said, not making Claire feel particularly confident with his use of 'I think' at the end. "Though we must be careful to stay in the shade." Whilst he was wearing a thick leather coat and a hat, both of which he assured Claire were all the fashion in Paris, she knew that if he was exposed to the sun for a long time, he would grow thirsty…and she didn't fancy becoming vampire chow again.

As they walked through the portal, Claire's eyes closed so that the impact would be all the greater, she thought about how different this was; she had never thought she would get out of Morganville, and here she was, going to Paris! It was a dream come true, and it wasn't as though she was even alone. She had Myrnin, someone who both enamoured and infuriated her at the same time, and perhaps she would even be able to use this trip to decide which on was the overarching emotion.

The noise of vehicles moving roused Claire from her thoughts, and she opened her eyes to see a regular street with dozens of heavy goods vehicles driving up and down it. They weren't even on the other side of the road, which was disappointing…it just looked like a regular, American street.

"I…uh, there may have been a slight change in our destination," Myrnin said hesitantly, and Claire turned her head to see his gaze focused on an illuminated sign on one of the shops nearby.

They were in Chicago, Illinois.

They hadn't even left the country!

"Why are we in Chicago?" Claire said through gritted teeth. The wind blew across her and she shivered involuntarily, regretting the lack of warm clothing. "Why did your stupid machine send us a few hundred miles north-east, Myrnin, because I have absolutely no idea what connection there could be between Paris, France and Chicago, USA!"

Myrnin shrugged. "We could…go back home and see what went wrong?" he suggested meekly, shrugging his coat off as he spoke. "Here, have this, Claire. You must be freezing."

Claire shook her head. "I can wait until we get back to Morganville. I don't need your stupid coat."

Myrnin put his coat over his arm, not making any comment about what Claire had said about his coat – which surprised Claire, really – and turned around to face the wall. "Hm…where has the portal gone?" he said, and his words caused Claire to turn around in a panic.

The wall which had housed the portal through which they had gotten to Chicago was merely composed of bricks and mortar, no plastic-and-glass door whatsoever. In fact, there was absolutely no sign that there had ever been anything there, other than the faint outline of some graffiti saying 'Chaz luvs James'.

"Are you being serious?" Claire whispered, slamming her hand against her forehead in frustration. "How can this actually be possible? We're in Chicago, and we can't get home. How great is this?"

Naturally, Myrnin had to butt in at this point. "Claire, I hate to have to mention this, but talking to yourself hardly makes you sound like a perfectly sane person," he commented, not looking at her.

"You're actually commenting on the fact that I was talking to myself, when you created a teleporter that took us somewhere we didn't want to go, and now won't let us go home?" Claire confirmed, increduled at Myrnin at this point. She shook her head. "You're absolutely insane; why did I let you talk me into this plan? All you've done is trap us somewhere else, so Amelie is definitely going to find out, and then I'll get the blame for it because I always do, so that's basically my life over. Thanks for that, Myrnin, really." Her tone was heavy with sarcasm that Myrnin didn't seem to hear as he turned to face Claire, diverting his attention from the wall to look at her.

"You need a bit of humour in your life," Myrnin said, a grin on his lips as he spoke. "It's a little different to be in Chicago than Morganville, no? I personally think it's rather exciting!"

Claire sighed, shaking her head and smiling ever so slightly; it wasn't a happy smile, but rather one filled with bitterness and resentment. "You don't understand, do you? I am not you; I am not Amelie's longest friend. I won't get away with this like you will. I'll make my own way back to Morganville before Amelie realises, hopefully. Consider this my resignation." She didn't know where she was going as she turned and walked away from Myrnin towards the road, only that it was the middle of the night, she was freezing, and she had to find either an airport or a train station that would take her close enough to Morganville to hopefully get back before the end of the day. Only that way would she have even a chance of getting home without Amelie knowing.

Before she could even get ten steps away, however, there was a flash of movement to her right hand side, and suddenly, Myrnin was in front of her. "Get out of my way!" she snapped at him. "I don't need you getting me into even more trouble, alright?"

Ignoring her, he reached out and tucked his coat over her shoulders, and Claire suddenly felt the warmth of the coat. It was thicker than she expected, and surprisingly comfortable – and it smelt nice, too, a bonus that never occurred to her. "This isn't your fault," he said quietly to her, his eyes locked into hers. "If I have to fight Amelie to make sure that you do not get the blame for this idiotic decision of mine then I will. I will not have you taking the fall for my mistakes."

Claire wanted to believe him, she really did. She wanted to believe that she meant more to him than his oldest friend did, wanted to believe that her position in his heart was so great that he would do anything to protect her. But she just couldn't believe it; he was a vampire, someone who put himself above all others, and unless he loved her, he wouldn't do anything like he was saying. And she wouldn't expect him to, if she didn't love him; he would have to live with Amelie forever, after all, whereas she had only another seventy years or so.

"Whatever, Myrnin," was all she could say, trying to step around Myrnin, but failing miserably. "I need to go find a train or something, see if I can get back to Morganville without her finding out."

Myrnin's hands reached out to place themselves on Claire's shoulders, stopping her from moving; it was as though she had been covered in concrete, his grip was that firm. "I will go with you. I must return, also, otherwise Amelie will send a search party out after me. Whilst I am indeed interested in why the machine decided to only allow us to move one way, it is not as important as getting home safely. We must find the way to get home…I suppose you are glad that we brought all the money we had with us, are you not, Claire?"

She nodded slowly, unable to keep anger being her strongest emotion; the way that Myrnin was being with her seemed genuine, and it was too hard to keep up being annoyed with him. For a while now, she had been unable to keep mad at him for more than a few hours at a time, and it seemed now, out of the lab, her tolerance was down to mere minutes.

"I think the town centre sounds as though it's that way," Claire said, pointing in the direction she was walking in as best she could, given that Myrnin still had a grip on her shoulders. "Wait, Myrnin, what are you doing?" she yelled as she found herself being whipped up into Myrnin's arms. "I'm perfectly capable of walking!"

He shook his head – at least, that's what it felt as though he was doing, since Claire's eyes were closed – and said, "you move too slowly for me, little one. It is dark; we will not be caught. I want to make sure that you're safe and not walking through a bad area of town."

Claire snorted. "Myrnin, that's the worst excuse ever; you'd be able to fight off any hooligan who attacked us." As soon as she spoke, however, she wished she hadn't; she had only proven that Myrnin had other reasons for carrying her and that she had considered that he would have an ulterior motive for carrying her, both of which suggested that there was something between them. "I…seriously, I can walk," she continued, now feeling slightly embarrassed.

Chuckling, Myrnin refused to stop or even slow down. "We are almost here, Claire, I will set you down when we are at the train station. It is the middle of the night and there are holes everywhere; with your footing, we would be taking a trip to the hospital, I am certain."

She heaved a sigh of relief at his comment, pleased that he hadn't lingered on what she had said and had merely insulted her footing. In fairness, he was probably correct and anyway, she had no desire to argue with him; it would only give him a chance to bring up what she had said before, and that wasn't something she particularly fancied. So Claire leaned into Myrnin's chest, wrapped his coat around herself more tightly than before and allowed herself to drift off into some sort of half-dream world, hoping that by the time she woke up, she would be back in Morganville.

~x~

Claire stopped dead outside of the casino, shaking her head. "I'm too young to get in!" she whispered in Myrnin's direction, making sure that none of the other people standing around them heard. It was four am and yet there was still a steady stream of people entering the building.

It was the only place that was open at this early hour, and since Claire had had no desire to sit around the train station until ten o'clock – the time of their first train of seven home – they had headed out to find something to do…and that seemed to be gambling.

"I will get you in," Myrnin promised Claire, taking her hand as he spoke. It felt so natural that Claire didn't even question it, merely pulled herself up the steps with him and attempted to stifle a yawn. She wouldn't exactly look like a twenty one year old desperate to gamble if she was yawning, would she? "Just stay quiet behind me."

Myrnin approached the man on the door, and smiled as he said, "isn't it a lovely evening? How are you, fine sir?"

The man didn't fall for it, however. "ID for your girl or no entry," was all he said, and Claire groaned; her ID would prove her age to be seventeen, aka four years too young to gamble.

What she didn't count on was Myrnin's vampire skills.

His eyes flashed a strange colour, one inbetween their usual brown and the red that occurred when he had consumed blood, and bore into the guard's own. "You will let her in, or I may have to tell your wife about the affair you had with the boss of this establishment," Myrnin growled, his other hand whipping out to grab the guard's elbow. His hand tightened slightly, causing the man to groan, and after a few seconds of this, the guard relented.

"In you go," he agreed, relaxing slightly as Myrnin's hand removed itself from his elbow. "Hope you have a good twenty first birthday, miss, and don't forget to use protection!"

Claire's cheeks coloured a bright red at the guard's final comment, but she didn't question it until she entered the casino. "What did you do to him?"

Myrnin shrugged slightly, approaching the chip-cash exchanging point just before the slots machines. "If you would give me the cash, Claire, I would like to play some roulette to win enough money for me to pay you back for the misfortune that has befallen us," he said, and Claire handed him the cash hesitantly. "I merely put something in his head that made him think that tonight is your twenty first birthday…that's all." The way that he spoke made Claire think that there was more, something that caused the colouring in her cheeks to darken further, before she realised something more pressing.

She had given Myrnin all the money – including the money that she had decided would be enough for their train tickets home.

"You don't need to change all the…" she said, trailing off as Myrnin handed the money over to the woman behind the counter. "Just…you do know how to play roulette, don't you, Myrnin?"

"I presume the rules have changed slightly in the years since I played it, but I will be able to catch up in no time!" he replied, and whilst she didn't want to have faith in him, Claire knew that she had no choice but to have it. He had all the money in chips now, and there was no chance of him letting go of it.

So they sat down and played roulette. For the first hour or two, after an initial loss, they were making money. "We really ought to put some of this away," Claire said to Myrnin when they had doubled their cash. "If we save enough for the train fares, then you can gamble with the rest of it and it won't matter if you lose it."

Unfortunately, Myrnin was in the sort of mood that meant he wouldn't listen to anyone – not even Claire. "Whilst I value your opinion, my dear, I am perfectly capable of winning thousands of dollars, but to do that, I require all of our money." And, because she was unable to say anything to get him to stop gambling with their money, Claire let him.

She knew it was a mistake, though.

~x~

They waited for the ball to roll around the wheel for the final time, Myrnin's belief that it would land on the twenty so great that he had put every cent they had onto the table. He was the only one playing, and Claire had the worst feeling about the move he had made; no matter how many times she had tried to tell him not to do it, he wouldn't listen, and had ended up gambling with everything they had.

The ball stopped rolling.

It did so, on number nineteen.

"Unlucky, my friend," the person behind the counter said, sweeping the chips into his hands and stacking them up on the side. Claire could barely hear, however; all she could focus on was the fact that they now had no money. They were trapped in Illinois, and they hadn't even a cent to their name to get them back to Morganville.

In a word, they were screwed.

"Claire!" Myrnin called after her as she staggered away from the table, half-blind with worry and rage. He had done what she had told him not to do, he had gambled with their one safety net, and he had lost.

Before she could get more than a few metres away, Myrnin was by her side, but Claire managed to shrug off his hand from her shoulder. "Get away from me!" she snapped at him, stalking as fast as she could towards the dark corner on the other side of the room, near to where the toilets were located. "You did this, Myrnin! I could forgive you the mistake with taking us here, but this…you've lost everything, and we've got nothing else to lose! Why did you have to do this?" As she stopped next to the toilet door, Claire turned her back so that it was pressed against the wall…she just didn't expect Myrnin to be standing merely centimetres away from her.

His head was bowed, but this time, the fury continued to pump through Claire's veins; she didn't feel sorrow for him. All Myrnin had done was ensure that they would have to call Amelie, would have to alert her to the fact that they had left Morganville, and that sickened Claire.

"I am so sorry," he whispered, but that didn't do anything for Claire.

"I can't believe this!" she snapped at him. "You lost us everything. I can't believe that I…that I could ever have thought of you in any way other than as a boss! You're selfish, immature, and you don't care about anyone but yourself. You were enjoying yourself, and you knew that I didn't want you to gamble with everything, but you were oh, so confident, and you were certain that you were going to win. But you didn't, Myrnin, and now…now you've left us at Amelie's mercy." She couldn't help herself; the tears began to stream down her cheeks, and that was something Claire didn't want. She didn't want to be with Myrnin as she cried as a result of something he had done.

"Claire…" he began, but she managed to turn away and move towards the toilet door.

Before she could enter, however, she felt his grip on her hand, and she was pulled around to face Myrnin again. There was nothing she could do at this proximity; his hands were around her waist now, gripping her close to him, and he was so close that she could do whatever she wanted at that point…if she wanted to. And that was something that confused her; she was sure, so sure, that this would make her hate him more than ever – but all she wanted to do in this moment, with her wrapped in his arms and still wearing his coat, was press her lips to his, regardless of what he had done and what she had in Morganville.

So she did.

It was wet, considering she was crying still, but somehow, her lips made their way towards Myrnin's, and they locked together, something spreading through Claire as they did so. She was still torn and fearful because of what he had done, but the kiss…it was unexpected, though initiated by herself, and it was something that she had wanted more than anything, she then realised. For something like this, she had decided to join Myrnin on his adventure, and now she had had it.

Now, she had had a kiss from both Myrnin and Shane, and she would have to make her decision as to whether or not she stayed with Shane or chose Myrnin.

"I…I can't," she whispered, pulling herself from Myrnin's arms suddenly, though she had been the one to kiss him first. It had only lasted a few seconds, but it felt like so much longer, and everything seemed to be so much more blurred than before. Everything but Myrnin, that was; he was in high quality whilst the rest of the world had been blurred out to make him a focal point, and all Claire wanted was to fall into his arms and weep about the mistake he had made, allowing him to make the wrong a right once more.

That was something that was only a fantasy, however; no matter how confused Claire's mood was – turning from hatred to love within seconds was naturally going to scatter her emotions all over the place – she knew that Myrnin had no clue how to solve the problem he had caused. That was all on her.

And she had only one solution.

Stepping away from Myrnin, who didn't try to stop her, Claire entered the toilets, which were thankfully empty, and pulled her phone from her pocket. It would be about six am in Morganville, and she hoped that Amelie would be awake already.

"If your excuse for calling at such an hour is not good, Claire, I shall have you punished," was Amelie's greeting as she answered the phone.

"It is, I promise," Claire said, swallowing. "I…uh…Myrnin and I are sort of in Chicago. Could you maybe transfer a thousand dollars or so from his account into mine, like now?"

"You mean to say that you are not in Morganville?" Amelie asked, her voice sharper than before. "Pray tell how you managed to leave without my guards noticing you."

"Myrnin made a machine…it's all his fault, he wanted me to say that, but we sort of need money to get home because he sort of just gambled away every cent we had and now we're trapped and please, Amelie, help or…we'll be stuck here forever." Claire knew she had rambled on, and half expected Amelie to hang up – she didn't like it when Claire was not concise in her relaying of messages – but she didn't.

"Come to my office the moment that you return to Morganville, the pair of you," she said coldly. "The money is now in your account. I expect your explanation of the events to be most detailed when you see me."

The phone went dead and Claire held it in her hand for a moment, shocked at how so much had changed so quickly; they had been in Morganville, and then they were in Chicago. Then they had enough money to get home, and then they didn't. First Amelie didn't know they had left her town, then suddenly she did; it was all very confusing for Claire.

"She's given us the money," Claire said in a monotone as she returned from the bathroom to Myrnin's side. As he opened his mouth to say something – perhaps about the kiss – she held her hand up to silence him. "Please don't talk to me…I can't deal with it right now."

With that, they walked out of the casino and towards the train station, deciding that waiting in the station would be a better idea than potentially losing all their money for the second time.

~x~

Waiting outside Amelie's office was painful for Claire.

The journey home had taken eleven hours, and it had been almost twenty four hours since she had slept, having been unable to do so on the way home. It had been conducted mostly in silence, save for when Myrnin ordered her food and a short discussion about where they were changing, and Claire had used it to reflect both on the trip and life in general.

Whilst she hated to admit it, it had been a fun trip; it hadn't been like the monotony of her usual day-to-day life, but rather exciting and different. She had seen a different side to Myrnin, and he had seen an alternative side to her (albeit not quite as drastic a difference as his had been, with his gambling) and the kiss…the kiss had given her a lot to consider. The way that it still lingered on her lips even now told her that it was something special, and the electricity that had been running between their bodies all the way back to Morganville gave her even more of a message that she had to listen to.

In all honesty, if she hadn't had the trip to Chicago, Claire would never really have considered the depth of her feelings for Myrnin; she would have buried them under the knowledge of what was and the easiness of merely sticking with Shane because he was something she knew. Myrnin, on the other hand, was something different – and there was more to him than she had thought before. The way that he had told her that he would defend her against Amelie, as well as how he had looked after her even when he didn't have to, they were things that made Claire think that perhaps, Shane was wrong for her; perhaps Myrnin was the one who was better suited to what she needed.

"The Founder will see you now," said one of Amelie's assistants, and slowly, Claire stood up. Before she could get up, however, Myrnin was by her side, assisting her tired body with standing, and then supporting her when she was upright.

"Thank you," she whispered to him, but he merely nodded in response, his face hard as he looked ahead to their destination.

Once the door was shut and they were seated before Amelie, the blonde woman spoke. "Why did you leave my town?" was her first question, which surprised Claire. If it had been Claire – and by the look on Myrnin's face, his too – her first question would have been how they left.

"I wanted to see the world beyond Morganville, and I exploited Claire's emotions in order to make her come with me," Myrnin replied instantly, and Claire turned her head to look at him in shock. Whilst he had, she hadn't expected him to be quite so forthcoming with his responses…he really was doing what he said he would do.

Amelie, also, seemed shocked. "I…how did you do so?" she quickly continued, and Myrnin responded quickly once more.

"I created a machine that would draw on the main machine's teleportation power in order to allow us to achieve distances outside of the town's borders," he told her, turning his head to look at Claire as he spoke. All Claire could see was the softness in his eyes, see emotions that she hadn't seen before, and in her heart, she knew that whatever he was doing, he was doing for her. "It was meant to take us to Paris – I was going to buy you a new bottle of the rosé that I drank from your cupboard – but it only took us to Chicago…which is really rather a shame, though it did make it easier to return home when it became apparent that the portal had closed."

Amelie's eyes focused on Claire, something Claire realised when she turned her gaze back to the Founder. "And why did you go?"

Claire knew that she now had to answer, and she swallowed, not dropping her gaze from Amelie's face. "I wanted to take a trip with Myrnin outside of Morganville, and it was certainly…interesting. It was more interesting than I was expecting, in all honesty, which surprised me. But, Amelie, don't punish him…all he wanted was to show me the world, and to see it for himself for the first time in so long. I didn't have to go, I know, but it was too hard to resist not to."

Amelie's fingertips pressed together, and for the first time, Claire noticed a ring on Amelie's left hand's fourth finger, though she didn't question it. She also knew that Myrnin had spotted it at the same time, and turned to quickly flash Myrnin a warning glance, as well as grab his hand to do the same thing.

"Do not do it again," was all Amelie said, and Claire was in shock; that was all they were getting? "I cannot punish a girl who followed a man for love – do not deny it, silly girl, I can see it in the way that you look at him – and I cannot punish my oldest friend for something like this, not today. Leave my presence now, and do not push your luck with me for the foreseeable future…but that is all."

Claire was shocked; was it because of the ring that Amelie had been so lenient? But before she could consider this point further, or even the point that Amelie had raised about her loving Myrnin, Myrnin had thanked Amelie and was dragging Claire out of the room, shutting the door behind them as soon as they were in the corridor.

"I do not know why you came with me, and I am not going to pressure you into explaining why," Myrnin surprised Claire by saying. "That is your decision whether you want to tell me…and everything that happened is also yours to share, if you desire. I shall bid you farewell now, little one, and see you when you feel it is right to see me."

Shocked beyond belief at the actions of the elder vampires, Claire could only watch as Myrnin blurred his way into the distance, before following suit; she wanted to go home and think about what she had decided on the train, what had been confirmed in Amelie's office, and then cry herself to sleep over what she would have to do the following morning.

~x~

She didn't dare to do it in person.

Having avoided the three housemates when she returned the night before – which was hard, since all three had waited up for her – Claire had gotten up late, having agonised how she would break up with Shane throughout the night. She knew that there was no chance that she could stay with him; the way that her mood changed so quickly with Myrnin, the way that she had agreed to go with him even though she knew that it was almost guaranteed to end up in disaster, and how she had kissed him first…they were all things that proved to Claire that she needed to be with Myrnin. Even if it was only a short-term thing, it wasn't right for her to live her entire life with the same man, and if she was destined to end up with Shane (which, now she thought about it, she doubted) then she would gravitate back to him.

But, for now at least, she was Myrnin's.

Unable to say it to Shane in person though, she wrote him a three page letter explaining everything as well as she could manage – everything but the kiss, though. That, she didn't dare to say. When she returned to the Glass House that evening, she would have to sit down and explain everything to Shane, make him understand why she had changed, but for now, she was free of him.

For now, she was able to go to Myrnin.

"Hello?" Claire called as she walked through the portal and into the laboratory. "Oh, what are you doing?" she asked Myrnin as she noticed him dismantling a lot of metal.

"Amelie instructed me to break down the machine," he said, slightly sadly. "I'll never get to see Paris again, she guaranteed me that as much."

It was in that moment that Claire realised that Amelie had been to see Myrnin about what had happened after she had left, and that he had most likely been punished in some sort of fashion, just that Amelie did not want Claire to know what it was. But she wasn't going to push the point; that was Myrnin's to share if he desired to.

"Oh, really?" Claire said quietly, taking a step towards the man and his (now defunct) machine. "Well, I know it's not quite the same, but I can quickly head to Common Grounds and get some food and coffee, and then we can sit down with some books and read about Paris? Or just…physics, if you want?" she was hesitant with what she said, not sure how to approach this new side to their now completely different relationship, one that would scare her as soon as he next lost his mind. For now, it was all daisies and sunshine, but very soon, she knew that it would be challenging…and that was sort of what drew her to it. It wouldn't be a predictable relationship, but for now, it was going to go slowly.

Myrnin looked at Claire and understood the message she was trying to get across to him. "I would very much like that," he said, standing up and taking a step towards her. "But please, allow me to accompany you to Common Grounds…I have the strangest desire to mock Oliver for everything he's worth, and just happen to release the news of the Founder's relationship to a very full building."

It was in this moment that Claire realised things hadn't changed from before they went to Chicago; she had just been made to see what she already knew.


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