[Setting | The cargo bay of Argent Nautilus]

[Time | Unknown]

[Date | Post-Titans]

"I'm just saying, it was definitely the butt. So round and perky and-"

"Colin Iblis mac Fir-Bolg! Don't make me demote you to fifth-in-command!"

"Affirmative, Dark Mistress! I was just trying to explain to Quentin here how it happened that I was able to return to my human form!"

"We all know the story," sighed Vanity disinterestedly. "You were wounded and stuck as a raven after saving Amelia from Grendel, we all reconnected, wound up on the cruise ship, and you wouldn't snap back to your human body until Amelia, excuse me, Captain Amelia "reinspired" your manhood, blah blah blah." Under her breath, Vanity added "Dumb perv." Quentin smiled a little and leaned over to whisper in her ear, and neither Colin nor I caught what he said that made her blush rose-red. Not that I would want to know anyways; those lovebirds were a bit much to handle. Ever since Quentin propsed, the two of them had been floating around in a perpetual state of baby talk and googley eyes. In love.

Nobody had ever acted like that around me. Maybe if Victor had been more affectionate...

But no. The "what-ifs" are what had ruined our relationship in the first place. Or rather, my chasing the "what-ifs" is what ruined the relationship. Archer really had known what he was talking about when he said we would never work out... but that was all in the past. Things were much better now between us, although we would never be able to be together again, the way I had dreamed of us being all my childhood. I had ruined us, all because I tried to change him.

"Dark Mistress, I would just like to point out that I am already fifth-in-command, and your threat is therefore null!" Colin spoke up, catching my attention and distracting me from my reverie. He had been doing that a lot lately-distracting me, with all his flattery and attention and unfounded admiration. It could confuse a girl, go to her head sometimes. I tried to keep it under control.

"Please, just keep your lewd thoughts to yourself, Colin. Everyone already knows what's on your mind most of the time anyways-no need to talk about it," I sighed, rolling my eyes just a bit as I felt a touch of warmth rise in my cheeks, trying not to think too much about what went on Colin's head. Colin glowered, then for just a moment something in his eyes shifted and the slightest hint of a smirk passed his lips. His face resumed its usual carefree grin then, but something about that momentary expression stuck with me. Odd-Colin wasn't usually one to play subtle.

"Yes, Dark Mistress, as you wish!"

"Thank you Colin. You can stop calling me Dark Mistress, you know."

"Aww, but Melly, you can't deny your true identity as the world's greatest-"

"Just shut up already, Colin," I sighed, and that little smirk passed his lips again. Feeling slightly off-balance, I looked to where the lovebirds had been sitting moments before, only to realize that they had slipped away, probably to kiss and whisper sweet words to each other and do the things that couples do when they are young and vibrant and very much in love. Victor was up on topdeck building a new body or some ingenious piece of artillery for himself; I was left alone with Colin.

"Wow. Just you and me. Alone. All this tension in the air... oh, I'm getting excited!" Colin laughed heartily, not moving an inch from where he sat leaning against the wall. His hands were behind his head, his thick dark hair mussed, his blue eyes were dancing across my body as he gave me a cocky flash of sharp white teeth. I inhaled sharply; time seemed to freeze around him in his masculinity and youthfulness.

"It doesn't take a genius to guess what's on your mind," I muttered.

"Babe, if it did, you would be overqualified." That smirk again-oh god, when had he learned to do that? He hadn't been smirking like a swggering pirate a week ago-and a little tilt of his head, and suddenly I could hear my heart pounding in my ears.

"What the hell, Colin? Stop doing that!" I blurted out suddenly, surprising even myself. His smirk fell from his face, his demeanor melting from alpha wolf to young pup in a matter of moments.

"It was just a joke... Melia, what's wrong?" he said impishly as he came over to me. "I was just messing around, I didn't mean to upset you... Melly? Amelia? Talk to me." He knelt in front of me, searching my eyes. I couldn't respond, though. Standing behind Colin, just dropped in through the hatch, was Victor. Tall, streamlined, blond and handsome, perfect in every way. Victor Invictus Triumph.

"Amelia? Is something wrong? Did Colin do something to upset you?" he asked, his voice cool as his metallic gaze swept over Colin and I, his mechanical mind striving to assess the situation. I felt his eyes pass over me, but I didn't see him. I found that my own eyes had been pulled, instead, to Colin's directly in front of me. There they were, blue and dark and clouded, trying to understand what was happening, what exactly he had just done to offend me so. Victor made a sound, and I'm not quite sure now what it was exactly, but when Colin and I both looked back to him, Victor's face was stern, his jaw rigid. His eyes were slitted and stormy and had a sort of knowing look to them, and I realized then what he must have realized only a moment before.

I didn't belong with Victor anymore, and I never would again. Victor knew it, too, and was already backing away.

"The situation does not seem to require my assistance. I'll take my leave," he said, and slipped out the hatch. I started to get up to go after him, by force of habit and confused emotion, but found myself held back, being wrapped up in Colin's strong arms.

"Don't go to him," Colin murmured in my ear, his warm breath ruffling my hair and caressing my neck. "It's over between you two. It has been for a long time; you know I'm right." Of course he was right. It had been more than a year since ithat/i had ended. It was high time I stop thinking about the past and move on with my life.

Colin was holding me tightly to him now, one arm wrapped around my waist and the other tight against my back, fingers running through my hair absentmindedly. I felt more than heard his next words, his voice was so hushed and deep.

"I want you more than he ever did, so why can't you look at me like that?"

And that was all it took. That was where we began.