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by: Matthew Cox
June 7


That's how many black out level rage fits he'd had in the past two days. He'd managed to get himself outside and away from people, namely Tristan and Maeve, during those times, but Matt had to face the facts: his control was gone.

Before Cora, he'd kept the rage under control. He'd never blacked out and came back to awareness in the center of a disaster zone before her. Then, there had been the kitchen incident where he'd demolished everything...even that had been a fluke, he'd thought. He'd kept control mostly in the last few weeks of being with Cora. On Day Zero, he'd snapped at Cole, but Matt remembered the incident unlike the most recent three.

When she left him, she'd taken from him his control and his confidence that she loved him. After all, she'd abandoned him completely. He could go and confront her, but what would that solve? Would she even want to see him?

He wanted to see her.

That was an ache in him that kept hammering him in his heart. He loved her and had given her everything he had, and in return she left him alone. He'd gone to his priest and been told to forgive her. He'd gone to Klaus and tried to rebuild. Hell, what was left but ash and rubble?

Still, here he was, two blocks away from the warehouse, leaning against a church spire, watching the building like a hawk. She was out shopping in the wizarding world for some such thing or another. He'd followed her progress for a while, but had eventually given up on that. Matt pushed with his shoulder and leaped to the next roof over. It was time.

He slipped through the magical barrier and into the warehouse. Interesting. The wards were still open to him. He was wearing his armor from the cache. The charmed leather armor made him feel safer and calmer. He took a sentry position up in the rafters and waited for Cora to return.
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by: Coraline Larson
Two days. That's how long it had been since their arrest and subsequent escape. Two days of pure, utter, and complete hell.

Cora shivered as she recalled the hours after her escape from Mi5, the agony she had endured from her Lord's magic, her guilt and rebellion warring with the Dark Lady's fury and hatred of her disobedience. As soon as she had made it back home to her warehouse she had tried to break through the oppressive magic, mentally throwing herself against the compulsion like a bird against a window. Just as it had every other time she had tried to rebel the curse wracked her with what felt like the cruciatus, and her body was overwhelmed by the pain.

Cora had lost count of how many times she had blacked out from the pain and the sudden drop in blood pressure caused by the curse, but she had finally broken through it early this morning. If she hadn't had the presence of mind to make some simple runes designed to administer a sharp shock when touched, she was fairly certain she wouldn't have survived the experience. She had gotten short of breath and lightheaded with a terrible pain in her chest at the height of her fight for freedom, followed by what she believed was full cardiac arrest. Her heart had stopped but with the shocking runes and probably more than a little luck, Cora had restarted the muscle and broken through the curse at last...

Now it was simply a matter of recovery, which brought her to her current shopping trip for potion ingredients. She had dosed herself with some general healing and restorative draughts, but didn't have the proper ingredients for a more specific treatment, thus she had braved going out so soon after the ordeal. As she entered her home at last, Cora leaned heavily against the door as she closed it behind herself, simply trying to catch her breath from the taxing outing.
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by: Matthew Cox
Waiting was a game of patience. It didn't do to be hasty when you were stalking (prey) a target or staking out a (hunting field) location. In fact, any (hunter) soldier knew that the key to a good (stalking) stake out was to be comfortable and alert as you waited for your (prey) target to come into your (kill zone) sights. Matt (The Devil) crouched in the rafters like a gargoyle, hidden with shadows behind the curtains of light from the skylights. She was home at last, exhausted and short of breath.

Her heart wasn't right. The beating sounded unsteady and strained, like a muscle that had been overworked. Her whole self was abused and ill kept, it seemed. She'd not been eating well, sleeping enough, or staying hydrated. The Devil seemed to retreat a few steps mentally at this information, leaving Matt to feel compassionate and broken hearted over Cora's condition. He didn't move yet. As much as he wanted to see her and to reconcile with her, something didn't seem right about dropping down and scaring her when she'd just gotten back from a walk that should have been easy for her. The shortness of breath worried him. She was in good shape several days ago. Now, a walk made her need to take a break?

(Weak prey. She ruined my life. Why should I care if she's weak right now?)

The intrusive thoughts of the Devil side of his personality flickered up to his conscious thoughts and retreated again. The intrusions were a lot like a fish surfacing at a lake shore...a fish with big teeth and a bad attitude. Matt took the intrusive thoughts in stride; they weren't signs of any kind of health, but he'd been under a lot of stress recently. They were a chaotic representation of the parts of himself he'd tried to sequester. While he probably should see someone about that, it could wait.

And speaking of waiting, Cora was on the move again. Matt himself stayed perfectly still and watched her, keeping track of her as he waited for the right moment.
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by: Coraline Larson
'Breathe. Just breathe... you're ok. It'll pass... breathe.'

Desperately Cora calmed herself, relieved when the even breathing regimen seemed to ease the fluttering in her heart and the lingering ache in her chest began to recede again. Once she was sure she was alright (for the moment anyway) Cora made her way over to her work space with the ingredients she had picked up and slowly set to work brewing the elixir. It was a common treatment for cardiac patients, according to the healer's reference book she had pulled from the library. Hopefully it would help.

As she prepped the ingredients Cora's mind wandered, not for the first time, back to Matt. She missed him, plain and simple. When the Dark Lady had seen the chance to escape Mi5 she had done so and left a means for Matt to follow her, but was concerned when she realized he hadn't. It wasn't until she was most of the way home that she heard news of the Devil's escape, so she knew Matt had at least gotten away. She had hoped beyond reason, it seemed, that he would follow her back here, but he hadn't yet and with her in the condition she was, it was impossible for her to go search for him herself. She sniffled softly and began building the potion in her cauldron...
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by: Matthew Cox
(Look at her...just going about business as usual as if I was never here, as if I never mattered...)

Breathe. Breathe, dammit! Now was not the time to have a rage fit! Now was not the time to lose control!

Rage was a curious thing. It was helpful in the right situations: in the middle of a fight, when you were injured and needed one big oomph of effort to see you through, or when you were tracking something or someone and needed your senses sharpened. It was not helpful when you were trying to be stealthy and observe someone, or when you were trying to be diplomatic, or when you were conflicted and weren't sure which way you felt yet.

Since Matt was firmly in the latter set of feelings, the eruption of fire in his bones was counter to his intentions. She hadn't cared about him. She escaped and left him. He wasn't wven worth going after and trying to find! She didn't care. The Devil that used to be caged in him prowled freely now and it took the full opportunity to ignite an inferno of rage in him. He wasn't quite to black out fit level yet, but he was well on his way.

Matt dropped from the rafters in a somersault, drawing a baton into his grip. He landed with his back to the potions nook, but the rough edges of his black mood were sketched into every tense line of his body language.

"...you ruined my life. You abandoned me, and you ruined my life!"

The guttural growl was thick with grief and rage, but was curiously flat. The Devil turned slowly, an inferno of emotion wearing the skin of a man who normally had precise control over his internal self.
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by: Coraline Larson
Two handfuls of lacewing flies... three full turns to the left and a quarter turn to the right. Alright, then the mixture needed to brew for a little over an hour and once it cooled, hopefully her recovery would be a a little easi-

As something large dropped from the rafters to stand not too far from her Cora a frightened squeak that wasn't quite a scream escaped her, and she stumbled backward away from the sudden threat, knocking her stool over with a clatter. As adrenaline flooded her system Cora's heart rate spiked sharply and her chest ached painfully again, breathing becoming difficult and only succeeding in frightening her further. Oh god, no.... She couldn't die... She needed to get better, she needed to find Matt! A sense of dread rose up with the panic, settling over her in a blanket of fear and pain, both physical and emotional.

Lightheadedness brought the witch to her knees, clutching her chest with one hand and bracing herself against the floor with the other as she fought against the anxiety that threatened to overwhelm her already fragile body. Desperately she looked up at the figure that had caused the panic, shocked to see Matt, no the Devil, standing with his weapon drawn. And he accused her of abandoning him...? But... She had given him a way out. Had even opened his cell door and dropped the imperious curse on him... A painful flare from her chest as her heart raced out of control had those thoughts quickly derailed, however, and Cora let out a pitiful whimper as she huddled on the floor.

"I... M-m-matty? I'm... I'm s-so sorry..." she managed to stutter, her voice wavering in the midst of the anxiety attack.
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by: Matthew Cox
The Devil stalked forward and crouched over Cora and stilled. A gloved finger traced her jawline gently, then tilted her face towards his. There was no less fury in the expression he wore, but it was tempered with a kind of patience that was more typical of the man behind the mask.

"You're terrified of me. Was any of the emotion we shared even real, or was it dropped when you dropped the curse?"

His intensity was no less despite the gentler tone. This was still the Devil, aggressive and used to standing with his fist against the world. Here was the woman he thought loved him, whom he still kindled affection for, on her knees and terrified. If she trusted him, loved him like she once professed, then what did she have to be so afraid of?

The rage built again in him. He stood and paced off away from the prone witch quickly to avoid lashing out at her. A snarl rippled through the mutant.

"...no control. No control...no FUCKING CONTROL!"

His enraged muttering built into a crescendo of yelling. He flung his baton away from himself and then ripped his mask off and threw it, too, with a guttural yell. For several long seconds, he stood there in tense silence before the rage melted into grief. Matt turned once more to Cora and returned to her. He sat and embraced her, sobbing once into her shoulder.
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by: Coraline Larson
The witch recoiled from his words like they were a physical slap. Terrified... of him? No... never. Cora shook her head, fighting back desperately against the panic that still flooded her system, moaning softly at the pain in her chest. Tears formed in her eyes, the misty grey- green color clouded by illness and anxiety, and she looked up at him with an almost pleading expression.

"No... not af-afraid o-of you..." she croaked, every word and every breath a struggle. "... th-thought I w-was go-going to... to die a-and... wouldn't g-g-get to say... I l-l-love y-you..."

Oh Merlin, it hurt to think he didn't believe she loved him! The emotional pain of his accusation coupled with the physical agony and distress she was in was too much for the fragile woman to take. She crumpled into herself as he screamed and paced away from her, tears streaming freely down her face, her body wracked with tremors as she fought to calm down. Waves of dizziness and nausea washed through her on the tide of her illness, her heart rate spiking into arrhythmia again by the time Matt came back to her and held her.

She didn't have the strength to comfort him and that just galled her further into the dark feeling of dread and hopelessness the anxiety attack had brought with it. Cora trembled in his arms and whispered, desperate and sick, "I love you..."
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by: Matthew Cox
Matt clutched Cora tightly to himself in an effort to comfort and calm both of them. His emotions were whipsawing between depressed grief and burning rage, leaving the man feeling burned out and hollow.

"I love you too...I can't get control. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

He hiccuped once and lapsed into silence, still clutching her to his chest. God, her heart beat sounded so fragile. He shouldn't have come. The anxiety attack he caused probably set her recovery back. Matt kept whispering apologies to her, rocking and stroking her back as his own anxieties began to surface.
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by: Coraline Larson
The sudden shift in demeanor from furious rage to emotional grief was like whiplash to Cora. She just trembled as he cuddled her, still fighting the illness that threatened to drag her down toward unconsciousness again. When he whispered back that he still loved her Cora let out a breathless sob and weakly clutched at Matt in relief.

He might be furious at her, even thinking she abandoned him, but as long as he loved her there was hope, right? That thought did more to ease her panic than all her own efforts to breathe and calm down combined, and soon the anxiety attack began to subside although her heart rate was still erratic and labored.

"I'm sorry... I d-didn't... didn't abandon you, M-matt," her words came out in a shaky, breathless murmur. "Co- couldn't apparate... with y-you, so... so le-left escape for y-you. M'sorry..." she mumbled, her body still shivering and distressed.

God, she just wanted him to understand that... She hadn't meant to make him feel abandoned! Opening his cell and blowing out the wall had been the only thing she could think of to get him out safely...
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by: Matthew Cox
The rage started to build in him again, making him tremble. No doubt she heard the squeaking of his molars as he ground them together in frustration. He needed...needed something.

"What's the one potion...calm...calming draught? Do you have any? Can I try it? We need to talk and I-I-I'm not safe. Three blackouts. This rage is-is...its unreal. I need help."

The confession of needing help was a big concession for the normally proud marine. To admit that he couldn't control himself, to ask for assistance from the woman he was (rationally or irrationally) angry at, and to be so open and vulnerable were all the signs of trust he could give her. He DID love her. But he was still so angry...

He needed the potion, but he didn't want to let go of her to go get it. For this, he could be stubborn. Gently, Matt arranged Cora's arms around his neck and then cradled her. She was too light weight. Had she been eating or was she just suffering in her misery? Misery that he caused...Grief stung him again.

He walked them over to the potions nook and set her stool back upright. With one hand, Matt perused the labels on the bottles. With the other, he supported Cora and held her against him.
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by: Coraline Larson
Rage? Blackouts? God what had she done to him... Asking her for help was a good sign though, she hoped anyway. Even without the level of tension and stress of the past few days, Matt was a proud man and rarely asked for help so for him to do so now truly surprised her.

The witch nodded at his request. "Ca-calming Draught is f-for trauma, sh-shock re-recovery... Can tr-try that... or Dra-draught of Peace..."

Shortness of breath still made speaking or movement slow and labored but before Cora could try forcing herself to her feet, Matt surprised her again and cradled her gently in his arms. She trembled as her chest continued to ache, clutching weakly to him as he held her, simply too exhausted to do anything else.
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by: Matthew Cox
Draught of Peace. That sounded like what he wanted to try. His fingers found the bottle in question and pulled one from the shelf. For good measure, he grabbed a Calming Draught as well.

"For you," he explained. He set both bottles on Cora's stomach and carried her towards the stairs. Her potion was still brewing, so maybe he shouldn't take her away from that. He stood in the foyer between the two destinations, stuck for a moment in indecision.

"You need to stay with your potion...I'm going to go change and take this dose. I'll be back down to talk in a bit after I've changed."

He talked himself through the decision and then followed through with the plan. Once she was settled, Matt grabbed the Draught of Peace and headed upstairs to change. He kept the outfit simple: sweatpants, a hoodie, and house socks. He popped the lid off the bottle and downed the potion, wondering if it would be one of the few that worked on him. Almost instantly, his nervous energy and agitation was stilled. If anything, he felt spacey.

Matt took his armor down stairs to store in the armory. When he returned to Cora, he was slack and vague looking in his expression, but definitely not enraged.
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by: Coraline Larson
Cora nodded again, saving her energy for the talk they were going to have, according to Matt. She had already taken a draught of peace earlier but it wasn't worth ruining his caring gesture to refuse it now; she would just simply put it back later, she reasoned. When Matt began carrying her upstairs she had just opened her mouth to protest leaving her potion when he seemed to read her mind and stopped, caring her back over to her worktable.

Once he had set her down and she settled herself back on her stool, Cora sighed and busied herself with the brewing potion. Honestly, she was nervous about their impending confrontation. How would he react to the news of her freedom, particularly with what it had cost her health-wise? Well, she supposed they would find out soon enough, she thought as she watched him come back from the armory. Cora doused the flame under her cauldron and covered it with the lid as the recipe called for. Once it cooled she would take it.

Cora turned to look up at Matt, unsure of what she should say that she hadn't already.
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by: Matthew Cox
Magic had a weird effect on him sometimes. Potions also had mixed effects. Sometimes, they didn't do anything at all. Other times, they were more effective than normal. This peace-inducing potion probably wasn't supposed to make him feel like he'd overdosed on Vicodin. The same vague and disconnected feeling of detached peacefulness was hitting him in full force. Who knew? Maybe this would make the talk easier.

Matt slouched against the wall and jammed his hands into his pockets.

"I love you. I need to get a leash on my fury. I'm not safe to be around until I do that, so I'm not staying here and putting you at risk if I happen to black out again. I've got a place to stay, so far, but I'm legally dead in the muggle world, so I can't move freely there. I want to keep moving forward with what we were building. We made a lot of promises and dreamed a lot of dreams...are those still real? Can I still hope on those?"

There was a dim note of pleading with the question
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