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Adventures in Fantasyland

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She watched from the corner of her eye as he seemed to get nervous. Then he said it. He voiced what she was crying when he fell unconscious all those years ago. Galadriel turned pink and sniffed. "You stupid fool," she got up and threw her arms around him planting a kiss on his lips before leaning on him. "I love you too. The only guy who never told me to act like a lady. Putting up with me. You kicked the hell outta the other kids at school for that stupid disguise dad made me wear and they'd make fun of it." She burrowed her head into his shirt. "I don't mind it. Yes I've been through hell, but if it's you I'll be okay. Just. ..nothing too serious yet. Okay?" She said softly running her fingers through his hair. "You better treat me like a queen though or else you'll be getting a three more scars. You know.. like Zorro instead of a Z it'll be a G..... Okay I admit it,I'm a dork. There. That's some expensive cologne you have on... damn it's the good stuff too." Her voice was muffled as she buried her face into his jacket. After a long moment of her not moving, a snort sounded, then a couple yipps before silence, something she did when she fell into a deep sleep.

 

 

-----

 

Hunter nodded. "Tomorrow at your favorite coffee shop. It's still open. " he said hugging her back tightly. "Take care and stay safe. I best get some sleep too. Night brie."

Edited by AroaraAngelwolf

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Damien was nothing short of surprised when not only did she say she reciprocated his affections, but also kissed him voluntarily. He pressed a kiss to her temple and smiled. "Don't worry, I wouldn't dream of doing anything that would make you uncomfortable." He told her, before chuckling. "It's one of the only kinds I use. Rest assured, I will make sure that you are spoiled beyond belief." Shaking his head as she literally fell asleep in his arms, Damien scooped her up and carried her into the bedroom he used when he stayed in this house and tucked her under the covers. Peaking into the bedroom where he had killed a man, he was pleased to see that Mouse was just about finished.

"Where's GG?" Tia asked.

"She's asleep," Damien said. "Which is what you need to get ready to do, alright?" After much whining (mostly from Tucker) and bickering the two kids were finally in bed. Damien returned to his bedroom, gathering pajamas quietly so he wouldn't disturb Galadriel. After a quick shower, he exited the bathroom, wearing a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt that read 'I'm the Boss'. During the summertime he would sleep shirtless, but with the chilly weather he didn't want to get cold during the night. He wrapped an arm around her, and though warm, lay awake for a while as he mulled over the events of the day. Eventually, however, he dropped off to sleep.

 

~ ~ ~

 

"Goodnight, Hunter," Brienna said, hugging him. "See you in the morning." She slipped off into the night, her form shifting back into that of a great cat, and arrived quickly back at her hotel, drowsy and ready to sleep after the hectic events of the day.

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Galadriel woke up early. It was a dream that woke her as she drifted from the deep dreamless sleep to REM. To put it correctly, it was actually a nightmare. She was back in the cell, believing she dreamed about escaping, and finding her best friend is alive. The guard walked around, throwing bread inside cells and then banging on the bars to wake them up. The hollow ring of a night stick on iron echoing through her mind and the rough sound of laughter made her bolt upright with wild eyes and claws slashing the air.

 

Disoriented and confused she breathed heavily growling lowly as she drank in her surroundings. No bars. No chains. She was in a soft, warm bed not on the cold concrete. Switching from sucking the breath between clenched teeth to her nose she was then surrounded by a familiar scent. Looking beside her calmed her further seeing Damien still alive, grown up and still as handsome as ever.

 

Taking three deep breaths in through her nose and out through her mouth she calmed her rapid heartbeat before slipping out of the bed heading to the bathroom where she stripped and looked at her body. The bruises where still apparent on her skin from lack of protein to heal properly, placed strategically where other men wouldn't see them. Thin old whip scars streaked her back from back when they first broke her body to a man's harshness and anger. Malnutrition had made her face hollow, her ribs showed through her skin. Hell, she had to pull the belt to the last two spaces to keep her pants on her hips.

 

For the first time in ten years she was seeing the damage they had done to her. Tears pricked her eyes once more. Siren shifters where suppose to be hauntingly beautiful, gods and goddesses among men. This..... this was haunting alright, a haunted broken shell of a woman who didn't deserve the lifestyle of a queen. They made her a slave and put her in her place constantly. How could Damien undo that sort of mental damage after having it beaten into your very flesh for a decade?

 

She shook her head with venom as she rubbed her leaking eyes with the heal of her palms. What the hell was wrong with her? Her emotional state was always controlled but now it was all over the freaking place! She leaned against the cold tiled wall to wake her up a bit more. It was probably because she hasn't slept well in years nothing more to it.

 

 

-----

 

Hunter returned home and slept for a while.

 

In the morning, he was the first one at the coffee shop. He got up before dawn every day, well... with the winter days getting shorter, he usually got up before five thirty. It was his training. A assassin's doesn't sleep, only doses a few minutes at a time with their eyes open and ready for an attack. It's hard to kill someone when they are asleep if the person thinks they are looking right at them. So, this is what he did at the shop.

 

The baristas where used to this, and also knew to leave him alone as he looked into space with his legs crossed on the plush chair. So basically by the time Brienna came, he was well rested and reading the newspaper.

 

--------

 

Craven woke up and carefully extracted himself from Luna before starting to make a carrot stew with some fish meat he had for protein and adding beats, onions chives potatoes, cheese and peas. While it was cooking, he made a herb mix for weight gain and pulled out his grooming tools before starting to sew a fur sweater for Luna to keep her warm.

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Damien stirred as Galadriel shot upwards, still mostly asleep, he only completely roused several minutes after she had left the bed, reaching over and finding it empty. He sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and standing. He saw the bathroom light as on and felt only slightly relieved - she was probably just using the toilet. Still, he pushed himself out of bed, walking lightly over to the door. "You alright, Gala?" He asked in concern, wanting to go in and check but at the same time, not wanting to overreact. "I woke up and you had left," He continued. "I'm just making sure you're okay."

 

~

 

Brienna woke just after eight, and as she rolled out of bed the events of the night previous raced back to her. She rushed to get ready, brushing her hair and teeth and putting on a light layer of makeup. She pulled her hair back into a messy braid before heading off to meet Hunter.

 

The shop's bell rang quietly as she entered, and, spotting Hunter sitting in the corner. She grinned as she slid into the seat across from him. "Good morning! Did you sleep well?"

 

~

 

Luna was roused only slightly as Craven moved out of bed, quickly falling back to sleep until the smells of a simmering stew reached her nose, causing her stomach to growl and her to wake. Yawning, she pushed off the blankets and emerged into the main room, smiling at Craven. He was currently sewing, it seemed, and feeling the slightest morning chill to the room grabbed a blanket before returning. "Hi," She said softly, settling down near him and pulling the blanket around her shoulders. "I hope you slept well. What are you doing?"

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"I don't know.." she sniffed. "I keep crying, I'm not usually like this. I'll be okay, just give me a minute... " she called back and got dressed once more slipping out from the bathroom rubbing her eyes. "That was the best sleep I've had in a while, just.. exhausted knowing I'm finally safe that's all. What time is it? Can I get another shower, I still smell like the street..." she said rubbing her arms. A darker bruise was on her upper arm where the man killed last night had grabbed her. She moved and sat on a chair looking blankly at the floor. "Just tired that's all." She said softly, as if she was trying to convince herself of something.

 

 

------

 

One of the baristas snickered at her question as Hunter answered her. "Why yes. You want to read the funnies? I just got Garfield then I'll be done with them. How did you sleep last night? I hope it was good?" He asked looking at her as a coffee was placed beside him and the Batista went back to work.

 

 

----

 

"I'm making a sweater for you. You need something to keep you warm. It might be a bit big but large keeps you warmer." He bit the string after he tied it and handed it to her. "I'm making carrot and fish stew. Now, shall we get started with the grooming?" He asked handing her a hair brush, a human one before picking up a horse brush and started grooming her speckled grey body.

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"It's alright," Damien soothed, wrapping his arms around her in a comforting gesture when she walked out. He stepped back in order to see her. "You've been through a lot. Give yourself time to heal," He said. "Of course you can get another shower. Would you like me to get you come comfortable pajamas? It's close to two." His gaze softened as he followed her over to where she collapsed in her chair, kneeling down in front of her. "What woke you? Did you have a nightmare?"

 

((They're at a slightly early time but they'll catch up soon. Hope that's okay))

 

~

 

Brienna gave the barista a completely unamused look, one eyebrow cocked up and a deadpan look in her eyes. Once the girl looked away Brienna turned her golden-eyed gaze back to Hunter. "Sure. The funnies are always, well, fun to look at. I slept great, actually. Thanks for asking. Any plans for the day? I could use a good run." She suggested. Though her cat form was definitely built for strength rather than speed, she was still quite fast - though not as fast as Hunter's lithe dog form.

 

~

 

"Oh, thank you," Luna said, smiling. She moved the blanket covering her shoulders and pulled on the sweater. It was a bit big, but it was also soft and she felt warmer already. "The stew sounds - and smells, for that matter - delicious." She took the brush he offered, pulling it through her dark hair. She felt, rather than saw, Craven begin to brush her dappled coat, the rhythm of the brush putting her at ease. "How long have you been up?"

Edited by polaristar

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((That's perfectly fine. ))

 

 

She hesitated, then nodded. "I was back there. They'd bang on the bars at this time to wake us so we were fed and ready when the guys would come. Now is usually when the bars close. The men always reeked of booze and cigars. High class guys... that's all I'd know. Can we not talk about it? I feel a little queasy. Yeah.. some pajamas would be nice... and a hoodie.. I'm freezing..." she said rubbing her arms more. "Damien..... I.... I saw what... they did. I have scars too.. I'm so thin." She started crying again. "I don't feel like a siren shifter anymore. We pride on our appearance but I know if others like me would see me they'd laugh! I feel more like a banshee, a husk of a broken weeping woman! I don't deserve any of this... they've reduced me to someone only good for sex and beatings before becoming nothing more then a body Mouse has to dispose of!" She rubbed at her eyes angrily. "I'm so damned emotional I can't think straight and I keep crying like a baby when I'm not like this at all!" She sniffed. "I just need a shower and more sleep. Then I think I'll be okay..."

 

 

---

 

 

"Chester didn't mean anything about that. I sleep a little strangely that's all. Got here when they open like I usually do. I don't have many plans but there's a new ice age exhibit at the museum if you want to see your cousins." He grinned at her handing her the comics. "We can go for a run on the beach or around a track if you want. " He suggested.

 

 

----

 

"I hope it is. I've been up for about an hour." He said brushing out dirt and dust from her flanks and down her legs he then picked up the nail pick and clippers. "Okay, back right hoof please I'm going to clean it and clip it. Then I'll polish it, it looks like it's flaking a little bit. " He said and carefully cleaned out any rocks and brambles that got stuck and would irritate her hoof before clipping the long nail down to a comfortable size. "Is that better?"

Edited by AroaraAngelwolf

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Damien felt himself getting angry. Not at Galadriel, of course, but at the people that had done this to her. "Don't say that about yourself!" He ordered. "You're still beautiful. I still think you're beautiful. And if any other siren laughs at you, let me know and I'll pummel 'em," He said, rubbing his hands on her arms. "Of course, I'll get you some nice comfy pajamas and a hoodie. Also a Tums, if you're feeling queasy," He said, standing and kissing her forehead. "You deserve all of what I'm going to do for you and more. You don't have to worry anymore - I'll keep you safe. In the morning we'll be heading back over to my real home, and you can help me decorate the Christmas tree while the kids are at school." He said. "Take as long as you need, okay?" He slipped out of the room, returning to where he kept the clothes he estimated would fit her and pulled out a soft, fleecy pajama set. He returned to his room, pulling out one of his own hoodies (which he rarely wore) and setting them all in the bathroom for her. "I'm going to be in bed if you need anything." Damien crawled back in the bed, laying on his back and staring at the ceiling. He was worried about her, and angry towards her captors, and desperate to utterly destroy the ones that had done this to her. He let out a breath - he was used to waiting for what he wanted, and this was no different. When the time came - they would all be dead. Every single one.

 

~

 

"You got here at 6 AM?" Brienna asked him, twitching an eyebrow. "Man, you wake up early. Sorry to keep you waiting," She said, before sticking out her tongue at him. "Oh, you must think you're hilarious. My cousins. Very funny." She took the papers from him, an idea striking her. "Speaking of cousins - someday we should go look for the animal from which I got my shape, assuming it's still alive. To prove I'm not some sort of genetic experiment or weird freak of nature or whatever - I've heard it all, you know that," She said, snorting. "A run on the beach sounds nice. I need breakfast first though." She picked up a menu, chewing her lip thoughtfully as she read it.

 

~

 

"I slept better than I have in a while," Luna told him, finishing her hair. It was soft and silky now, no longer knotted and tangled like it had been. She ran her fingers through it. "Ah, that's much better." She was referring to both her clean hair and coat and to her hoof, which Craven had cleaned expertly. "You don't have to do that, you know," She said to him. "I am more than capable. But thank you," She said, smiling gratefully at him.

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Galadriel nodded and hugged him tightly before taking another shower. She used his strong body wash to scrub herself, but didn't bother washing her hair again. She actually put it up in a shower cap so it stayed dry. Once dried off and dressed in the soft clothes, she crawled into the bed and lay her head on his chest humming

softly before falling Asleep. It was a song his mother sang all the time and she had liked it enough to ask her to teach the song to her.

 

She woke up at six, helping him get the kids ready for school. After dropping them off and getting coffee and groceries, they headed to his original home. It was around nine that Damien's phone rang making her jump.

 

(Hope that's ok))

---

 

"I sleep differently. Part of my training. I can't sleep any other way now. I am hilarious, it too you this long to realize that kitten?" He chuckled and nodded at her wish of finding what creature she was and looked to the door when a police officer walked in heading towards them while she looked at the menu.

 

"Hunter Dire?" He asked roughly. Hunter seemed to change, from smiling to scowling, loose and open to tense and shielded. "Who seeks the Hell hound?" He replied.

 

"We got a job for you, come with me." He said while his eyes raked yo and down Brienna. Hunter got up- really it seems like everyone was so flippin tall- and snarled darkly at him. "Eyes off her or I will make you swallow them after I pluck them from your skull." The man turned white, nodded and left the shop. "I'll be back sweetheart, duty calls." He followed the officer out.

Ten minutes later he came back inside, tucking a envelope in his jacket with a smirk and pulled out his cell flipping it open and calling Damien. He snapped his fingers twice and the coffee grinder stopped in the background as the workers took a break even though the morning rush was yet to come.

 

----

 

"I don't mind it.." He said clipping her front hoof and them moving to the back hoof on the other side. "I did promise to take care of you. If your parents find you and try to take you away, I swear by my ancestors that I would protect you and won't let them have a single hair on you or your foal." He said, softly rubbing the baby bump again. He finished her hooves, and washed his hands before dishing out the stew. "It's a little hot, be sure to blow on it before you eat.." He sprinkled the medicine he made on top of hers and mixed it in. "There. That should get you to a healthy weight in a couple months. Take the herbs once a week when you eat okay?"

Edited by AroaraAngelwolf

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Damien was awake until she returned, falling asleep as she quietly hummed the lullaby his mother used to sing. Waking up around six, shortly before Galadriel, he waited for her to wake before going to rouse the kids. Tia in particular was proving difficult, but after a warning of no TV for a week she complied. After dropping them off at school, he bought himself and Galadriel some coffee and went grocery shopping, something he needed to do anyways. Kai and Rose were already off to school when he returned around 8:30, and after a quick tour he sat down at the kitchen table. His phone rang, and he furrowed his brow. What did the Hell Hound want? "This is Damien. What can I do for you, Dire? If it's about your girl, I'm sending stuff out today once I go in. No need to get impatient."

 

((You're good))

 

~

 

Brienna furrowed her eyebrows. Since when did the police work with mercenaries? Brienna herself hissed lowly in warning to him, canines extending slightly - she didn't want any guy so much as glance at her the way the officer was other than Hunter. The said wolf kin's threat seemed to do the trick, however, and Brienna ordered French Toast with scrambled eggs while he was gone.

 

"Since when do the police work with mercenaries?" She asked when he returned, flicking up an eyebrow at his smirk and seeming control of the diner. "Who're you calling?"

 

((I love how interconnected Hunter and Damien's lives are, haha))

 

~

 

"Thanks," Luna said, blushing as he rubbed a protective hand over the baby bump. "York - my Dial's sire - has a brother. He's already married, and I'm quite sure his wife is with foal, though I wouldn't be surprised if my mother dragged him out to find me." She told him, blowing lightly on the soup before taking a sip. "He's really not that bad, though. He's actually pretty decent - much kinder than his brother." She took another sip. "Just so you know. I don't think... well, he doesn't seem like he'd just rip me away from happiness. The first time I met him was at the wedding, and he seemed to almost pity me. He also apologized, which seemed strange but makes sense now, of course..."

Edited by polaristar

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Galadriel was sipping her coffee at the table with him tilting her head curiously. "Is that the guy who caught me?" She asked softly. Feeling the need to give him privacy, she left to go to the living room and look upon the biggest Christmas tree she'd ever seen. She was going to have fun decorating it. There must be hundreds of ornaments to even cover the thing.

 

---

 

"Quite please dear." He said softly to Brienna before addressing Damien. "Well actually, there's no need. My kitten had found me. Apparently she thought I was killed and came to find my grave then put two and two together. Now, because you so generously offered your help to me I'm going to make things easier for you. Twenty grand. That's what was offered to me by the mayor of the city, the DA, and the chief of police along with a couple sharks. They said their quote unquote, "Fightsy fox play toy" has ran away. The fools put ten Gs in my hand when I said I knew where she was.

 

Now I'm giving you an hour head start, I sent them on a wild goose chase then to that house where I dropped her off. I know it's your girl because they had a picture, however.... that photo wasn't a pretty sight. Poor thing. Tread carefully my friend, these are powerful people, and keep that sweet gal out of sight, I have a feeling she'd rip off their heads on sight now she's unchained and free. Like you, I too have my limits, and I didn't like what I saw... and I believe one of them was thinking about doing something similar to my mate." He snarled darkly. "I hate those who hurt a woman like that, you finish them or else I will myself. Men like that shouldn't be allowed to breed let alone even look upon a woman."

 

 

----

 

 

"Good, because I don't like fighting but if I have to I will." He smiled and took a bowl for himself and blew on it eating it as well. He laid down and ate the stew with her.

Edited by AroaraAngelwolf

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Damien nodded, pressing a finger to his lips to tell her to be quiet as he listened. His expression steadily darkened as Dire explained the situation, and he cursed, running a hand through his hair. "Thanks for the heads up, Dire. My problem is, well, they are very much important city individuals that I would get im very much trouble for killing. Glad you found your girl, by the way. I can't very well trust the police, considering both the chief and the DA are involved, so..." He trailed off. "I'll figure something out, just keep me posted if you're able. Oh, and I'll pass you the other half of that twenty grand once they're silenced as a thank you." He smirked. "See you around, Dire." He hung up and walked into the living room. "You like the tree? It's always fun to decorate. I promised Kai he could put on the star this year." He wrapped and arm around her waist and kissed her forehead. "Unfortunately, some... complications have arisen." He deliberated on how much to tell her before deciding that she needed to know. "The ring came to Dire just a few minutes ago looking for information as to your whereabouts. You should be in no real danger but I need to take care of the sharks and there friends but need to make sure you're safe. Which means you don't go out and I handle the situation from here, as well as call in some men." His fingers squeezed her shoulder lightly. "I want to be honest, but you can't go after them, no matter how much you want to. For one thing, it's too dangerous, not to mention you're skinny enough that it would be too easy for them to carry you away." He pulled out his phone out and began to dial a number. "I moved all the ornament boxes into the closet right over there." He pointed to a door right outside of the kitchen. "Now, I need to make a few calls, but I'll be here."

"Hello?" The rough voice of his best hitman and second in command came over the phone. "Brentwood speaking. What can I do for you, boss?"

"I need you to go to my second house with three or four others. I just got someone rather important returned to me and people are looking for them - kill the three most important and hold on to the sharks."

"Sure thing, boss," Brentwood said. "You need people with you, too?"

"Yes, as soon as you can," Damien said. "Dire says you have about an hour, so I'd get moving if I were you. Let me know when you habe the sharks so that I can, erm, interrogate them."

"Of course," The hitman said smoothly. "Anything else to should know?"

"The three men I need taken care of are the Mayor, Chief of Police, and the DA."

"Noted," Brentwood said. "I will work accordingly. See you soon, boss."

Damien nodded, slipping his phone back in his pocket and going to his office to grab a gun, slipping it into a holster that sat in the small of his back before returning to Galadriel. "Now that that's been taken care of - ready to get started?"

 

~

 

Brienna nodded, waiting for him to get off the phone before speaking. "Who was that? Who's after a woman? Is there any way that we can we help?" She asked in rapid succession, leaning forward. "It sounds serious."

 

~

 

Luna smiled, eating in silence and looking over at him once she had finished. "What are your plans for the day? Anything I can help you out with?" She asked him. "Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I'm useless. Though I do need to go back to town to quit my job. It's too far to go back and forth from here," She mused aloud, looking thoughtful. "You could always come with me. It'd be nice to have some company."

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Galadriel started shivering. "So they were the ones. The officer often brought his night stick. He guarded us and sometimes beat us. They can elect new ones, although it would get suspicious if they all died the same way. " she said softly. "One of them, a younger one, likes running in the woods. An animal attack would fit this aria.." she said in a low dangerous tone.

 

After a moment of pressing herself against him she looked up at the tree and nodded. "Okay. Let's get going. Let's start. I can't wait to see your other kids. Tell me about them. Did they make any of these?" She pulled out a box and set it down opening it up. "Man there's a ton in here! Awww..." she dug out a little white seal cut out with a ribbon glued to it and a button that read ' My seal of approval' "You kept this? I made this for you in like.. fifth grade! " She smiled and she kissed his chin. "You probably know what it means now don't you?"

 

 

-------

 

"An employer. He had a friend that went missing, her mother murdered her father and her mother gave her to some loan sharks to pay off her debit. Now that ring wants her back. I just gave him a tip." Hunter said softly. "We can't do anything now. So, did you get breakfast?" He asked

 

-------

"Finish that room and rethatching the roof. You can help me bring the thatch here." Craven said. "And you can help pack clay to make the wall. It would be a tremendous help."

Edited by AroaraAngelwolf

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"Shh, don't worry. It'll be alright. Brentwood is very good. Besides, I'll let him know to get confessions from them first." Damien pulled put his phone at that, shooting the werewolf hitman a text with what he wanted done. "Still, no one will have any idea about their deaths until much later - that part I am not worried about." He smiled as she pulled away, rummaging through ornaments and saying how excited she was to see the other two. "Yes, they've all made quite a few. Kai is a typical six year old boy: he likes cars and guns. Not unlike myself, incidentally enough. Rose is very cunning and creative - excellent of talking her way out of trouble." He laughed. "Of course I kept it! Yeah, I get it now. The kids love the pickle the best; whoever finds it first gets to open two presents on Christmas Eve instead of one." The doorbell rang. "Be right back, that's probably the men Brentwood sent over." Damien went to the door, opening it. "Rook, Strange, Waylond. Glad you hurried."

"Well, Brentwood it said it was important. I was already with Strange and Waylond, so we headed on over." Rook was small and wiry, about five foot six with a shock of red hair and hazel eyes. Strange was the tallest and the most intimidating of the three, with short black hair, dark eyes, and a large amount of muscle.

"So what's going on? Brentwood didn't explain," Waylond asked as Damien led them inside. Strange locked the door behind them. Waylond looked to be both the youngest and the kindest out of the three, with light hair and eyes and a slight Southern drawl.

"Well, Dire was able to find Galadriel, but now the ring is after her. Several high ranking city officials are headed towards my second home as we speak. I sent Brentwood and a few others to wait for them. Dire tipped me off."

"And you trust him?" Strange asked. "He is a merc, after all."

"Absolutely." Damien showed the three into the living room. "We're just decorating the tree. Galadriel, these are three of my men: Rook, Strange, and Waylond." He pointed to each as he spoke. "They'll behave themselves, don't worry."

 

~

 

"Sounds like a fun group," Brienna said sarcastically. "Though it sounds like your friend can take care of himself. I ordered French toast while you were outside. It should be coming soon. So... apart from your way of making money and looking for me, have you been doing anything? I mean, the most interesting thing I did was get in a fight with a female tiger werecat who found out I was seeing a therapist. I gave her a heck of a scar and got in a whole lot of trouble, but... it was worth it." She shrugged slightly.

 

~

 

"Sounds simple enough, I can do that," Luna said. "Can we go into town tomorrow, then? Better to do it sooner rather than later. It'll only get colder as the month wears on." She said. "I'm really glad I stumbled upon you when I did. Any longer and the foal and myself would have been hurt by the cold." She shivered at the thought. "Not a huge fan of the cold anymore, to be honest."

 

((On my kindle, sorry for any typos))

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She was pulling out a bobble and hanging it on the tree next to her seal when the men came in. Instinctively, she hid on the other side of the tree, peeking out at them as Damien introduced them. She came out hesitantly watching them wearily. She plucked a hand made cotton snowman and wooden clothe pin reindeer from the box slowly and placed them on the tree. "Are you sure they won't touch me?" She asked, voice barely above a whisper. "I don't want to repeat last night again..." She added moving to the box again and pulled out a blown glass ornament in the shape of a pickle.

 

 

----

 

"Why where you seeing a therapist? Nothing much really. Losing my eye and killing half my family basically takes the cake. I suppose you scented me out and found my living area. You can't live a high life and be hard to find. It's better than a hotel where the floor moves when you flip a switch. Those places have horrible fleas, man I avoid those places if I can. " He shivered. "Well, he's in charge of the entire underground network. If I were to work for anyone, it'll be him. Though, his girlfriend remained me a lot about you. She's a siren shifter, put three out of five guys who cornered her in a ally in the hospital. She scratched one guy's face to hell. The other two were smart and took off. Heck, I was afraid to catch her. Had to use a trap and stick her in a iron box! If he'd let me, I'd like you two to meet up and have some girl talk. Could do her good... poor thing has been locked up for a decade, beaten and starved. It'll take a lot to get that haunted look from her eyes. "

 

 

----

 

Craven nodded. "Of course we can. I need some extra herbs anyway. You're okay here. Safe and warm, that foal would be treated like my own and you would be treated like the moon goddess you are. No need to fret anymore my dear. " He kissed her head and gave her more soup before getting up and starting to dig the holes for the support sticks and kicking them in to place.

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"Absolutely sure," Damien said confidently, holding up a hand to motion for the three men to stay back for a moment as he moved towards her. "The men from last night were the scum of the earth. These are my hand picked agents, the best of the best - after all, I can't have my veritable special forces agents getting distracted at the sight of a pretty woman," He said, lips twitching upwards. "They won't be in here anyways," He said, turning around. "Rook, I want you in the room right by the front door, keep watch from the window. Strange, I want you near the back door, keep watch from one of the nearby windows," Damien ordered, and the two men nodded and left the room.

"What do you need me to do, boss?" Waylond asked.

"I need you in the dining room, since it's about midway between both the front and back of the house. You'll be able to provide backup to either one if necessary, and alert me since you're right by the kitchen," Damien said after a moment, looking thoughtful. Waylond nodded and slipped off without further comment.

"Now," He said, turning back to her. "Where were we? I'm going to put some tinsel on the tree, that's my favorite part," He said, hauling another box out of the closet and dropping it on the floor in the living room. He rummaged through it for a moment before pulling out a large bag of tinsel. "Here we go. Let the random throwing of tinsel on the tree begin," He said with a grin and a wink.

 

~

 

"Extreme depression," Brienna said with a shrug. "After you died. My parents were concerned, and I went through three." She blinked. "Wow, he sounds powerful - she must really be something for him to look for her like that. I wouldn't mind meeting her sometime, if he okays it." She told him. One of the waitresses placed the French Toast in front of her with a smile and an "Enjoy." Brienna grinned, digging in immediately. "Have you eaten already?" She asked him in between bites. "Because if that's the case we can leave for the beach once I'm done."

 

~

 

Luna smiled, a light blush coloring her cheeks. "Thank you, Craven." She ate the extra soup he gave her, surprised by how ravenously hungry she was, and once finished lifted herself to her hooves and watched him for a moment. "What can I do to help?" She doubted he would let her do what he was at the moment, all things considered. "Do you want me to start bringing in the thatch for you?"

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She laughed and set down the pickle ornament. "I'll get the top!" She threw a bit in the air, jumped up and turned into a snowy owl snatching it in her claws. She spiraled up the tree then perched on a top branch with a small trill. She tilted her head and blinked her eyes at him fluffing up her chest feathers. With another sound she swooped down and landed on his shoulder, careful with her claws. She moved a few strands of his hair affectionately.

 

 

---!---

 

"Well, her aura matches his, so yeah, I guess she is. I've had a bageit so we can leave whenever you're ready. I should've looked harder for you, but... the training took a while and I got really busy, apparently finding things, stealing things and killing people are in high demand. Well.. in this corrupt hell hole of a city. I don't mind dropping everything and moving to where you live now. As long as I'm with you I'd be happy." He said with a broad grin. "My little zombie kitty." He flinched laughing knowing that sooner or later he'd definitely get a slap for that.

 

----------

 

After kicking the last one in place he landed. "We both will bring it together, for hands and eight legs are better than two hands and four legs. " He trotted away to a field of tall grass, several bundles where tied together in a big bundle and there were about ten of these large bundles. "I could carry one or two at a time, but with you here, you can also carry two and it'll be done around noon today, then we can gather some soft things for your bedding. "

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Damien chuckled as he through the tinsel haphazardly at the tree - most of it fell to the ground and he had to pick it up before he could continue throwing on the tree. He smiled at her, rubbing a gentle hand over her feathers as she moved his hair gently. "Enjoying yourself? You know I'm going to have to go shopping for you now, I wasn't exactly expecting Dire to find you so soon after I hired him, considering how long I've been looking, but I do have the ones from previous years..." Damien had bought her a Christmas gift every year since she had disappeared, hoping she would return in time to open it. "You deserve more than just ten though. Not to mention I still have to pick some things up for Tuck still, but don't tell him that. He thinks he's found everything already." Damien chuckled, tossing the tinsel on once more and picking up the pickle. "Where should I hide it? It can't be too high that the others can reach, or too low that Tuck will not be able to see without bending over." He dangled the ornament between two fingers, staring thoughtfully at the tree. "Any ideas? We can start with the normal ornaments and such once this is done."

 

~

 

"Aw, that's so adorable!" Brienna said. "They're soul mates! It's alright, Hunter, I understand. I would have come back sooner but my parents didn't want me to relapse once I was finally in some semblance of recovery..." She grimaced. "Those two years were bad. Antidepressants didn't help much." She took another bit, scowling at the nickname he always called her. "Zombie kitty. You know, someday I'm going to be in a bad mood and you're going to get a smack for that." She grinned, mostly kidding as she polished off her meal and took a drink of water. "I just need to pay, then we can go. I'm so excited, I haven't had a proper run in ages."

 

~

 

"True," Luna laughed, following him outside. "We'll be done in no time. Considering I've been sleeping on pinecones - unwillingly, I might add - for the past month, I'm not exactly picky when it comes to bedding." She laughed, eyes sparkling. "I used to be, but not anymore. Beggars can't be choosers." She grabbed two bundles, holding them under her arms and making her way back to his hut. The winter air didn't sting like before - the new shirt Craven had sewn her kept her nice and warm. "It's so pretty out here - I couldn't see it probably last night, but this view is gorgeous. Definitely worth the wait." She placed the bales down outside the hut, taking a pause to catch her breath and shake the warm ache out of her muscles before turning back for more.

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she hopped down and shifted. "Do all the other ones first. Oh... I... but I haven't gotten anything for you. And for the kids... I feel like I'm butting in at the wrong time." She said softly hanging another bobble on a branch. "Then we can put it deep in the tree low enough for all to find it but hidden enough for it to be a fun challenge. " she said putting a painted Santa on a branch.

 

 

----

 

"I already paid for it. Before you came and whatever change is left I pay it forward to the next costumer" he explained standing up and straitning his shirt. "Let's go then, I kinda already knew that kitten." He took her hand and walked with her. "Try to keep up with me when we get there."

 

---------

He took three, laying one across his back and went back to get three more. "Got them all in two trips. That's a record! Now I'll slip them into place and you pack. Be prepared to get a bit messy!" He grinned and set the bales down, picking one up and flying up slipping it over each post.

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"Hmm, alright," Damien agreed, setting the pickle aside in favor of a brightly colored bulb decorated with silver swirls. "Butting in? Of course not! You don't have to worry, the kids will understand - besides, they get more gifts than they need. My elites - the ones like Waylond and such - love the kiddos, I swear they spoil them more than I do." He shook his head fondly. "Though if you insist, I can take you shopping once all this has been sorted out." He hung another ornament on the tree. "I like your idea." He checked his phone before putting it away. There was no word from Brentwood, and it hadn't been long, but he was more concerned than usual. "Waylond, any movement?"

"No sir!" Waylond responded. "It's all quiet."

"Good," Damien said. "Don't want any of you falling asleep on the job."

"That was once, and only because I hadn't slept for 48 hours!" Waylond protested. "Really, it was Brentwood's fault."

"I was only messing with you, Waylond," Damien chuckled. He hung a candy cane on the tree.

"Oh."

 

~

 

"Oh, okay," Brienna said, standing with him. "That's nice of you." She hissed lightly at him. "Oh, shut up. You may be faster, but that's only because you're lighter and your legs are longer. Let's see how you'd fare if we had a battle of strengths. I'd probably win." She grinned slightly - she was slower, but stronger (as a cat, at the very least), with tight knots of muscle causing her alternate form to be bulky and and strong but not nearly as quick.

 

~

 

Luna dropped the last two bundles on the ground as he spoke. "Well, four hands are better than two," She said, watching as he flew up to slip the bales into place. Luna waited for him to finish. "So what am I supposed to be packing down? I don't mind getting messy, as long as I'm able to clean up later," She said with a giggle.

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"You know me, I'd feel bad I don't get them something, or you something. I-" she stopped letting out a string of curses and bit down hard on her finger. "Damn my emotions are wacky. " She rubbed her eyes until the feeling passed and she hung a shot gun rack ornament up high. She picked out a car one and whistles. "Nice. I bet kai likes this one so I'm going to hang it where he can see it. "She set it on a low branch. "I can make something for all of you. If you have a sewing kit we can get cloth and yarn at the store with a croset hook. I don't have anything to do around here anyway except look pretty. I'm not even sure I can do that anymore." She took a few wooden ornaments and hung them near the top of the tree before getting out the other box of them.

 

 

-------

 

"Whoa, no. I'm not that stupid. Girl your paw is as big as my face! Getting in a fight with you is like taking on a mama grizzly. I have enough scars thank you." He laughed lightly. "No question about that. " He lead her to the beach. With a stretch, he shifted and bounded around the beach for a moment before dragging over a bit of driftwood dropping it at her feet. In this shape there was no eye patch to cover the sunken hollow socket that once held his eye and there were thin marks on his shoulders, back and legs. This however didn't seem to stop him from dropping his ears and looking up at her, begging her to throw the stick.

 

--

 

Once he was finished placing the bales in he scooped up a handful of mud and clay spreading it on the grass. "Do that till they stick together then pa it on thick. I'll be working on the support beams for the roof. Of course you can clean up later! And don't worry about making things smooth. It's mostly for warmth and stiffness of the wall against the wind. Any holes can be filled with moss or wood. Just pack it the best you can."

Edited by AroaraAngelwolf

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"Hey, hey, hey, it's okay," Damien said, grabbing the hand she had bitten. "Don't do that, don't hurt yourself. Emotions can be weird sometime, and you've been through quite the ordeal. Give it time, and things will go back to what they used to be," He told her, hanging up a My Little Pony ornament that belongs to Rose. "She insisted," He sighed, before smiling. "Yeah, he loves that one. He always takes it down and plays with it. I've had to glue it back together twice." Damien chuckled, shaking his head. "Ah, well, that's what I signed up for, taking them in. Don't regret it, though." He hung another bauble. "We have some of those things, but anything else you need I can order without a problem." Damien sighed, reaching out to squeeze her shoulder gently. "Don't talk like that. You'll always be beautiful to me, you know that, right? I love you."

"Don't go around advertising that, Big D!" Waylond called. "There are plenty of people that would love to take advantage of that. No movement, by the way."

"Yes, Waylond, I am aware," Damien sighed. "You act as if I am brand new to the mob scene."

"Just making sure," Waylond said.

"Yeah, yeah," Damien said, rolling his eyes. "Here, I could have gotten that."

 

~

 

"I'm glad you know your place, Hunter," Brienna teased, rolling her shoulders and shifting as well, shaking out her pelt and opening her mouth in an enormous yawn, tongue curling upwards. She didn't seem fazed by his ragged appearance, nuzzling his shoulder lightly and taking the stick from him, throwing it easily. "You're such a child," She rumbled, purring lightly. It dawned on her now that because of their relationship, they were able to understand each other. It made sense, considering she couldn't understand any other canines.

 

~

 

"Seems simple enough," Luna said, following his instructions. It was indeed messy, with her hooves and ankles coated in mud and dirt caked up to her elbows. Despite this, it was relaxing work, and she felt good doing something useful for once. She hadn't done much work back where she used to live. Luna didn't refer to the place she and York lived as home, as it certainly wasn't a place where she felt safe or comfortable. She made sure it was relatively smooth as she worked - Luna didn't want to leave too many holes. "How does it look?" She asked him after a while of working, looking anxious - she didn't want to mess up. Back with York, messing up meant punishments that satisfied him and made her feel like a discarded newspaper. "Did I do okay?"

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Galadriel laughed, although the sound was cold and lifeless. "I've spent years of men taking advantage of me. Time wouldn't do anything. Time won't get rid of scars, time can't take away the memories I have. I was used like a living blow up doll Damien. How can it go back to how it used to be? You a leader of a ruthless mob and me who practically a high school drop out forced into prostitution. You really think I can finish school and go to college, and become a grade school teacher like I wanted to? The school board of any district would never allow that! Any dreams that I had went up in smoke. There isn't some magic stone that can give me ten years of my life back. ..... can't get my dad back or your mom.... I never got to wear that dress daddy got me for my birthday.... never got to go to prom... I don't even know if grandma's old wedding dress even survived all these years! And... and papa's pocket watch... the stupid thing was always stuck on four... that censorkip.gif probably sold it for cash.... it was made from platinum." She sniffed and flopped on to her knees face in the couch cushion. "They took everything, my womanhood, my father, my life, hopes, dreams, beauty... everything! It feels so strange being safe if you can even call it that. I don't know if I ever will be safe! Like your guy said I can and probably will be used against you at some point! What would you do then?"

 

She slapped his hand away when he tried to comfort her. "Don't touch me, just decorate the stupid tree you worthless... bunch of blubber.." She tried to get some bite to her words but they just sounded pathetic. "Leave me alone."

 

A sheriffs car drove slowly down the street.

 

------

 

He bounded after it and returned rubbing his head under her chin. "Such a lovely kitten. Let's run! Play! Can't get me!" He barked and play bowed bouncing around before darting ahead of her down the beach. He stopped leaping into the sea like a dork running back out doing this several times.

 

----

 

 

Craven carefully inspected the outside his nose almost touching the mud and clay. He had finished thatching and the roof frame to the new room was up by the time she had asked him to inspect it. "Hmmm, there's a spot here where when it dries it'll crack, so thicken it up a little bit. " he drew a very shallow circle around the spot. Then he knelt looking at the bottom. "If you pack in the bottom very thickly, it would keep out the cold and hold up better in the wind." He got up and looked at her his hands on his hips eyes narrowed slightly. "Have you built a house before missie because you're definitely good at this for a beginner. You missed a big spot too." He then grinned and stuck his hands on her cheeks. Pulling them away he showed her the mud and clay he had on his palms he had transferred to her face. "Better!" He started laughing.

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((I did not see that post until just now xd.png Damien's part is so long compared to the others... but there's a lot going along there, so...))

 

"I get it, okay?" Damien said with a deep sigh, something akin to hurt glimmering in his heterochromic eyes for barely a moment before it vanished. "Life sucks. I get it. I may not have been used as a human... a human sex toy -" He forced out those words, disgust lacing his voice at the very thought of someone being treated such a way. "- but I get it. I have scars too. I had the crap beaten out of me in the pit only because I couldn't seem to die. I watched my mother die in front of me due to my own foolishness. Her death was my fault, did I mention that? It was unintentional, but she was killed because of me. The police have a target on my back because of my position, even if they don't know my identity." He snorted, running both hands through his hair as he paced back and forth across the room. "I'd be the firs to admit that we were both dealt a bad hand. But if we just let that eat away at us forever, never moving forward or learning from past mistakes and experiences..." His voice softened. "What a waste our lives would be. I may not be a good man," He laughed harshly. "half the time, I wonder if there's any man left in me. But I don't give up. I don't stop trying, even if I'm a mob boss. Even if I've killed people. And you know what? You're right. Things will never go back to the way the used to be, not completely. But please, for my sake, for your own sake, at least try." Damien paused, wheels turning in his head. Galadriel was right, her mother had sold her papa's pocketwatch. He hadn't been able to snag it in time. But the wedding dress... it was one of the first things he saved for her, since he knew she loved the dress. Perhaps giving it to her now, instead of waiting for Christmas, would make her feel better? "Look, Gala, there's something I want to -"

"Hey, bossman?" Waylond interrupted. "I hate to cut into your moment, which I heard all of by the way -"

"Cut to the chase, Waylond," Damien sighed, heading over to the slightly younger man. "What's up?"

"Rook spotted movement," The Southerner reported. "Cop car."

Damien cursed, pulling the gun from the seat of his pants and heading into the room where Rook was. Said man seemed to have procured a large black rifle from nowhere. "Talk to me, Rook. I can't go to the window, it'll be suspicious."

"I've got a cop car driving down the road, perhaps fifteen miles an hour. Passed the house, seems like he's..." He paused, squinting. "Turning around. We got trouble brewin', boss."

"Strange, get in here!" Damien called, loud enough that the other man was able to hear.

"I was already headed over, D. I heard you talkin' to Waylond and figured I had better come over to find out what was going on." Said man walked into the room, an automatic rifle slung over his shoulder. "Don' worry, the safety is on."

"We'll talk about leaving your post later, Strange," Damien sighed. "There's a cop car outside. What's it doing, Rook?"

"Outside the house now. He's stopped..." Rook paused, completely still. He spoke again after a few moments. "Thought he saw me, sorry. He's stepped out, trouble has become double."

Damien cursed again. "Strange, I want you in the bathroom by the front door. Use the shadows to your advantage."

"You know it, D," Strange saluted, slipping off. "Rook, what's he doing?"

"Up the drive, bossman," Rook said slowly, brow furrowing. "You know, I think he's going to ring the bell."

"I'll deal with this. Waylond, guard Gala, and for heaven's sake, be subtle about it." Damien ordered. "Rook, I want you away from that window and hiding right inside the doorway. I'm gonna answer the door."

Slowly, Rook withdrew from the window, face incredulous. "You're gonna do what?"

"Answer the door," Damien said levelly, returning his gun to its holster. "It'll be less suspicious that way." He jogged quickly over to Galadriel to explain what was happening. "I believe one of the ring has come to investigate. Waylond will take good care of you, don't you worry, and I have both Rook and Strange stationed out of sight and able to intervene at a moment's notice, but you need to stay out of sight. I'm going to answer the door and take care of this."

At that moment, the doorbell rang. "Boss," Waylond hissed. "Don't act like you're expecting him."

"I am well aware of procedure during these sorts of information, Waylond," Damien responded. "But you keep her safe. Anything happens to Galadriel and I will ensure that you will never reproduce."

"Noted," Waylond said, wincing. "Don't worry, she's perfectly safe with me."

"Good," Damien nodded. "Get out of sight," He said, walking towards the front door and unlocking it, pulling it open with a sort of placid, confused expression. "Morning, officer! What can I do for you today?"

 

~ ~ ~

 

Brienna purred, rubbing her face against his in a distinctly cat-like manner before her eyes started to shine with amusement and she bounded after him, tackling him playfully into the water and rendering them both completely soaked. She didn't seem remotely bothered by the chilly water, however, and a cat-like grin spread across her feline features. "Don't catch a cold, pup! I sure won't! Zombie kitty, remember?"

 

~ ~ ~

 

Luna watched carefully, nodding as he explained what needed to be done. "I'll fix it, and it'll be just fine." Her tense posture relaxed, a grin breaking across her face at his actions. "Oh, so that's how you're gonna play, huh?" She asked, stooping down and grabbing a mixture of mud and clay and lobbing it at him. It splattered across his chest and she giggled, prancing lightly across the ground, tail swishing as her eyes sparkled playfully.

Edited by polaristar

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Galadriel sniffed and watched him pace wincing at his harsh laugh. "I'll try." She muttered softly and reached out to him when waylond popped inside giving them the warning. She froze when the word 'police car' sounded. She was trembling when Damien explained the situation. Before he left her she snapped out of her fear and grabbed his coat pressing a kiss on his cheek. "Be careful." She hissed softly. When he went to answer the door she looked at her guard. "Put ornaments on the tree I'll be inside it out of sight. " She whispers before shifting into her Fox form and crawling up the truck into the branches by the wall, her blue phase coat and white fur looking like a stray bit of tinsel. Her eyes were kept narrowed, ears listening for the slightest bits of conversation.

 

 

"Good afternoon sir. We've had a call from this area saying there's a menace around here. Do you mind if I have a look around? I thought I saw something dart into your back yard." Said the deputy. His tone suggested that declining wasn't an option.

 

 

-----

 

 

He snorted and shook himself, looking like a wet rag. "Silly cat, you'll pay for that!" He says, darting under her and up the beach to a wall where the board walk was. In a show of skill, he scrambled halfway up the stones and bounced off. Hitting the sand he darted towards her in a blur leaping up onto her broad back where he promptly started chewing on her tiny ear his tail wagging casting water everywhere.

 

------

 

Craven looked at the mud on his chest. "Oh ho.. no you did not just do that missie. You're going to get it now! Let's see how good you look as a chestnut!" He said scooping up some mud and prancing after her trying to hit her with small bits of mud. He was grinning and laughing as he chased her. It felt... really good. It's been years since he was just... happy. That is... until he stepped in a dip in the ground and flipped over onto his back.

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