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By Maeve McLeod
June 14, 0035
West bank of the Thames River, under the Battersea Railway Bridge

Had anyone been walking along the Thames, they might have idly wondered what manner of bullfrog or salamander or other nocturnal water-dwelling creature had made the croaking noise that sounded almost like a faint human cough. As it was, however, there was was nobody wandering through the industrial area at the edge of the river at just after midnight on this muggy summer night. Nor, in point of fact, was the sound made by a bullfrog...

Another wet, gasping cough huffed from Maeve's chest, sending a bright crimson spray of blood across her chin and onto her already-befouled shirt as she struggled to keep her face out of the muck of the riverbank. As hypothermia and shock sank their claws into her ravaged body the Garou couldn't recall how she had ended up in the water, only that she had been fleeing... something. Or someone. She vaguely remembered dropping Matt somewhere... had he asked her to do that? He must have; she wouldn't have just left him injured.... right? Dammit, she couldn't remember! Everything was cold. She had drifted downstream with the current and had finally been washed up into the concrete pylon of one of the many bridged that spanned the Thames through the city, but which one was another mystery to the battered and hypothermic Garou. It had taken her nearly twenty minutes to pull herself onto the bank of the river, using only her good right arm. Her left was nearly useless now, she realized. Numbness was setting in in her extremities and vaguely Mae knew that wasn't a good sign, but couldn't remember why... She heaved another herculean effort and dragged herself as far out of the water as she could manage and simply lay there, shivering and exhausted, in the foul mud of the riverbank.

Everything hurt... though maybe not as bad as it should. Or maybe it did and she just couldn't tell? She was cold too, which was strange enough for a Garou that it cut through the fog of confusion in her mind and registered as an oddity. Maybe... was this shock? Another sharp cough sent more blood dribbling down her chin, taking her breath away with the sheer agony of the action.

Somewhere in the back of her mind her instincts roared at her and drove her to seek help... but how? Where? Her right hand fumbled weakly at the holster on her right leg where her wand should be, but found nothing but slime and river muck. Mae didn't have the breath to verbalize the whine of despair that wanted to escape her. She let her hand slide down her hip and back to the ground, something hard and plastic getting knocked out of her pocket as her arm fell. She panted at the effort it took to grasp the object and slowly held it up in front of her face to inspect it. What was that? A black rectangular piece of plastic... oh, it lit up when she touched the glass section on the front. Oh. Oh! It was her phone! She could call for help! Awkwardly she pressed the command to call the last phone number that was contacted, her hand resting on her chest without the strength to hold the device up. When a loud -BEEP- sounded her eyes snapped open and she slurred her desperate plea.

"....Tris-tan! I- I hope you ge' this..." Her slurred and confused words were overtaken by another wet, sloppy-sounding cough and labored breathing for several long seconds before she could speak again. A warm, almost cozy feeling started to seep into her broken and shredded body. It was nice...

"Save... saved M-matt..... 'scaped af-after I... I took hi-him.... sum'where safe...." She coughed again, her speech getting quieter and more slurred as if she hadn't the energy to keep speaking. She was so tired.... maybe she should just let her eyes close...

".... m'sorry, T-tris... don't think 'm gunna.... m-make it home... shoulda tol-told you b'fore now..." What was she going to say? Ugh... she was so tired... and everything was cozy and warm now.... Even the pain had stopped registering.

She took a shuddering breath and whispered one last phrase before the heavy, warm feeling overcame her and her emerald eyes drifted closed...

"..... I love you...."
(Continued from Fragments of You)
What a bloody terrible night. What was he thinking? Why did he think things were going to turn out okay? He'd let his judgment get clouded with the fact that he'd gotten in touch with them due to some shady business? Matt was a criminal, a traitor on the run from a muggle agency and a bloody mutant. Vigilante. Cora was his accomplice, a former Death Eater, a former assassin. Instead of investigating like he was supposed to, like he'd been tasked to do, he let his personal ties get in the way and he had to find his answers the wrong way. The hard way. He gave her a ring? She loved someone else? Why didn't he see that? Because he always left himself open like this; he was always susceptible to heartbreak.

When his phone vibrated on the nightstand, Tristan sat up. It had to be about one in the morning, or at least half that. He ran his hand through his hair and then back down over his face. He kicked his legs over the edge of the bed and reached over to touch the sensor lamp to bring a dim light into the room. It took his eyes a little longer than he wanted to adjust to the brightness, and when he reached for the phone, the vibrating stopped. "Shit." He uttered, setting it back down on the wooden surface, a little harder than he intended. He had the mentality of: 'If it's important, they'll leave a message'. He hadn't seen who it was calling him, so if it was King or anyone else summoning him at this hour, they sure as hell better leave a message. The service had been fairly poor where they were staying, which was nice to unplug for a while but the downside was the number of voicemails and texts he'd get whenever it picked up again.

As if on cue, his phone vibrated. Bzz. Bzz Bzz... Over and over, it went, at least five or six times for missed voicemails, emails and texts that he'd missed. He sighed, and waited for it to cease its alarum, before unlocking it. His eyes widened when he saw the log of missed calls from Maeve's number, then his brow furrowed when he saw the voicemails. The most recent one dinged and he took a deep breath before clicking on it. What was so urgent that she'd called him that many times? He gulped.

"....Tris-tan! I- I hope you ge' this... Save... saved M-matt..... 'scaped af-after I... I took hi-him.... sum'where safe...." There was coughing, lots of it. Water running in the background, lots of background noise. Shuffling. ".... m'sorry, T-tris... don't think 'm gunna.... m-make it home... shoulda tol-told you b'fore now..."

There was a pause and for a second, he felt his heart just...stop.

"..... I love you...."

He nearly threw his phone down when he heard those words, not out of anger or fear but out of confusion. Was he dreaming? No, he was wide fucking awake, in a country miles from his companion, miles from home, with a head full of thoughts he shouldn't have had in the first place. Did he stay, or go? Tristan paced a couple of steps before realizing he needed to throw on a shirt and hoodie before leaving. He had his wand and swirled it to get his belongings packed. He was chewing on his nails as he paced across the stretch of the room from his bed to his balcony window and back again, the dread washing over him. It was intense. He'd make a pass at the penthouse, maybe this was just some bad joke she was playing to get him home? Maybe it was a faked voice to pull him out of hiding if King wanted him back at work at once--maybe...

Tristan needed to stop. He needed to stop letting his thoughts get to him, and just go. He stood at the door to the adjoining room with his hand raised to knock, but after several attempts, the ill feeling in the pit of his stomach stopped him. Tristan didn't want to wake her. In all honesty, he wouldn't be able to look her in the eye, not after what happened earlier. He was such a bloody fool. Instead, he left a note in nearly illegible scrawl on the nightstand.
C. Had to go home. 911. Didn't want to wake you. I hope you forgive me...for everything. The pilot was informed to take you home tomorrow. I'm sorry. All my love. Tris.
There was the start of a line that looked like he was going to strike through the words "All my love", but he wasn't going to take it back--he just didn't have the time. Regardless of how this trip ended up, Tris would love his friend, but there were pressing matters waiting for him at home.

Without a second thought, he apparated from the villa with the bag over his shoulder, leaving Cora there...alone.

After a failed search at home, Tristan dropped off his bag and apparated again after hitting the 'find my mobile' tracker on his cell. King had thought this was going to be a helpful tool for Tristan and Maeve to keep track of one another while they were working, but they hadn't needed a use for that button in the last few months since most of their operations linked them together and there was a certain level of trust they achieved to never have to use that function. Given the urgency of the message, Tristan knew he had to give in and use it.

He arrived with a loud crack in an alleyway near the Thames, the last known location of her mobile phone. He stumbled some and felt a tight squeeze on his temples when he landed, and even retched, dry-heaving into a nearby bin when he landed. An apparition so close to one from a long distance made him sick, but he wasn't even rewarded for those efforts as nothing came up. There was no time...he had to keep moving. For a few minutes he scoured the area, now wide-awake with fear and adrenaline coursing through his veins. "Mae? MAEVE!" He called out, hoping to hear an answer back, though he was a fool for expecting anything like that. "MAEVE!"

Tristan didn't expect to find her right away but his heart pounded harder and harder the longer it took to spot her. He kept checking the ping on his phone versus where he was on the map, but couldn't get a concise answer, a pinpoint location for him to find. As he looked around, he noticed he wasn't in direct sight of any muggles so he pulled his wand from his pocket and cast a compass spell that would point him in the right direction. Luckily the light wasn't bright to anyone else but him, and he followed the trace to where he needed to go.

When he turned the corner...there she was. "Mae---Maeve? Maeve, oh God, oh no what--wh...Oh no..." Words wouldn't come to him properly as he practically dove towards her on the ground, skidding his knees on the slick, muddy surface where she lie. There was so much blood, so much dirt and muck on her, he tried to wipe her face, and was careful around her eyes and forehead as he pulled her into his lap, rocking her gently in his grasp. Her face had been smashed, her nose was broken, he could tell that much and her clothes torn, especially where some of her wounds had been. She looked like she was mauled by something, or someone not human.

"How did this..How...No. No No... I'm sorry Mae! I'm sorry..." Leaning in closer, he listened for breath that was drowned out by noise and the late night wind. Even though it was faint, he could detect a breath, and as he held his fingers to her neck there was only a faint pulse beating as if it were in the distance.

Tristan ran through the series of events of this unfortunate weekend. He'd left on a trip with someone else a woman he hadn't seen in years without so much as a word to his roommate, his friend, his... His heart sank. Tristan felt like an asshole. He was inconsiderate. After all this time, the woman he'd been 'looking for', someone who cared about him, someone who loved him, was right under his nose. And he just left her...

"I'm so sorry..." The tears stung his eyes and streamed down his face as he held her, desperately clinging on to her cold, bruised body.
They were in a secluded enough area that no one came by to see this pitiful display. Even if there were passersby, there was no way he could ask them to help. Not because he didn't want to, but because he couldn't. This couldn't go public. They couldn't just waltz into an emergency room, even though there was a hospital just down the road. Any normal, muggle doctor would see that her vitals were not human, and because he'd been instructed by King himself not to cause any disturbances in the muggle field, Tristan decided to abide by that. Instead, he pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed one of his connections, one of King's trusted contacts, to help him with this. In case of emergency? This was an emergency.

He wasn't sure how long he'd been sitting there with the broken woman in his arms, but Tristan finally wiped his eyes and composed himself to call for help. With a trembling hand, he pulled his phone up, unlocked it, and pressed nine on his speed dial until it called out. It only took two rings before someone picked up, but they didn't say a word."Buck. It's me. I'm sending you my location now."


Buckingham was the codename for King's cleaner. It was the only name they'd known him by, and the only one Tris would ever ask for. In their line of work, they understood the need for codenames and secrecy, and he wasn't about to break that code now. He was a quiet man, tall, thin but athletically built, with black hair and black eyes that were beady, and eerie at the same time. He hardly said a word when he came to pick them up near the Thames. He was careful with Maeve's body but Tristan couldn't help but feel his anxiety rise as he watched Buck move her from the ground to the transport. It was a quiet ride to the Penthouse, the place he'd requested for drop off, instead of the underground clinic where most of the cleanup crew would take the injured or certain victims to be dealt with.

They took the garage elevators into the Penthouse to refrain from turning any heads (or electronic eyes) in the lobby, and reached their destination without any muggle contact. Tristan waved his wand to clear any obstruction on their kitchen table, and once it was clear, Buckingham set down the girl down on the flat surface. Tristan brought one of the pillows from the couch to prop under her head. She was stirring, moaning in pain and slowly coming to. A small man with pale skin, only known as Dr. Stone, was with them, and he stepped forward to help her as Buck pulled Tristan to the side. Again, he didn't say a word.

"Thanks for this. I'll transfer the money now. But uh...Do me a favor and don't mention this upstairs, alright? " Tristan held a hand up to gesture the man hear him out before getting hasty, "I'll approach King myself, I just don't want this getting out before it's time. Got it?"

"Thank you, Mr. Green." Was all he said, and he gave one last look at Dr. Stone and the girl before turning to leave.
/Floating… warm… This was nice. So much better than the agony and cold that she had been feeling earlier. Her body felt heavy and she couldn’t move, but that was okay. Where did she need to go anyway? She could just relax into the gentle warm feeling that had eclipsed the pain and - /

With a strangled keen of pain, Maeve’s green eyes shot open and her body convulsed weakly at the shock of regaining consciousness so abruptly. The Garou coughed as she gasped for breath, sending a spray of bright crimson blood across her muck-and-blood-covered chin. Her pulse was thready and irregular, her lips and fingernails were blue from hypothermia and lack of oxygen, and her wounded shoulder was just a horrific mess….

Dr Stone looked over at Tristan with concern and shook his head slightly, his expression serious. “She’s going to hurt herself if I don’t sedate her. It’s dangerous with her so injured, but I have to take the risk if you want her to have any chance to survive,” he warned the man, readying a syringe to administer the drug to knock her out.

While her eyes were open and she writhed weakly in pain, Mae was unaware of her surroundings. When it became clear that she wasn’t responsive, Dr. Stone came forward and gave her the shot to sedate her while he worked on her brutalized body, sending her back into the oblivion of unconsciousness...
With every passing second, every scream and flail, Tristan just hurt inside. He was having trouble watching her in all this pain, having trouble dealing with the thought of what she went through as he went away--the thought of even losing her was devastating. He knew he couldn't hold her down, having someone thrash and writhe in a locked hold could hurt them internally, and he didn't want that to happen. Not to her...

Tristan was biting his nails again as he looked down at her, pacing rampantly until he stopped when the doctor looked up at him. "Look, I need you to do what needs to be done, doc. J-just help her, please." There was a desperation in his eyes, a plea to make the good doctor understand that he didn't care how much it cost or how long it took... He just wanted to save her.

Stone solemnly nodded and set to work on the girl, starting with the sedation as promised, to relax her muscles to prevent the seizures from taking over once more. "I won't leave her like this for long--she's in shock
.. hypothermia too. I'll have to pull her from this once that subsides, so I can treat her other injuries. She's very badly injured, Mr. G--"

"Whatever it is, just do it. Okay? You keep her alive and just tell me what I need to do to help you."

The quiet doctor didn't flinch when Tristan snapped. In fact, that seemed to be what he needed to press forward, as if that were validation enough to continue working on Maeve. There would be many steps to getting her properly treated for everything that was done, but Stone knew better than to ask questions unless It was directly pertinent to his treatment. It wasn't part of the job.
With the Garou sedated and unconscious again, Dr. Stone set to work in earnest. He liked to think he thrived under pressure and had always done well in the emergency ward at St. Mungo’s, but this was a special case if ever there was one. He had been called in to attend to some other… interesting situations in the past for Mr Green and their boss, but this was really something else. For Merlin’s sake, he didn’t even have a proper workspace this time! Just a kitchen table and the tools he had brought with him and the ones he could conjure. The situation itself and the condition of the Garou patient was severe enough that it almost made him want to ask Mr Green what had happened. He knew better, of course, so he wouldn’t ask, but still… had to be a helluva story from the look of her injuries…

It took far longer than Dr Stone had anticipated to not only clean the woman up, but locate all the extensive injuries letalone treat the poor girl, but he had done it. She was alive, she was stable, and he was at least moderately confident that she would survive the ordeal. Whatever said ordeal had been.

The internal damage to her liver and her right lung had been the most concerning and had taken up at least 3 hours of his work on the girl, but both lungs were now reinflated and breathing on their own and the two inch laceration to her liver was repaired and the organ was functioning once more so he could hardly complain too much. Stone had assured Mr Green that, while the internal bleeding was stopped and the organ damage repaired, the Garou would need to remain as stationary as possible for the next few days while her healing factor repaired the remaining trauma or she could damage the healing organs all over again. The biggest challenge, however, had been the extensive damage to the Garou’s left shoulder. The total dislocation of the ball and socket joint would have been bad enough in itself, but coupled with the compound fracture of the left collarbone AND the gunshot wound to the same shoulder… Stone had to admit he was proud of the work he had done to set the joint to rights.

“I’ve done everything I can for her, Mr Green. She’s not quite out of the woods yet, so to speak, but all her injuries are set and stabilized and the deep sedation should wear off within the hour,” he explained to his client as he washed up in the kitchen. They had moved the Garou into one of the bedrooms to rest before coming back into the living area for instructions and cleaning up. “That shoulder… Even with her Garou healing- once it starts working again- she’ll probably need heavy physical therapy on that shoulder. I would recommend keeping the arm immobilized in a sling for at least a week before she tries to do anything with it, however.” The doctor fell silent and waited patiently to answer any further questions or concerns Mr Green might have about the Garou’s recovery.
Tristan was listening, even if his eyes had glossed over as if he wasn't. He stared at the body of his companion, lying still now with the help of Dr. Stone's medication. At some point he heard the man's voice calling out from behind him, standing in the kitchen as he scrubbed down his arms and hands from the residual blood he'd gotten on him after her treatment.

After turning around in the hall, he made sure the door was propped wide open before stepping toward the man in the kitchen. He placed his hands on the back of the bar stool and leaned down, stretching his back and quads as he did. He'd been on his feet since he landed from his apparation, and even then he and Cora had been out and about for the day so he was exhausted as hell. He blinked a few times, his eyes burning after running dry from the unexpected tears that welled up now and then. At the mention of physical therapy, Tristan slightly nodded. Everything that Dr. Stone was saying was settling in his mind. He huffed. It would take a hell of a lot to keep this one down, since she was stubborn as an ox, but he would make sure she healed right. Tristan didn't have any intention of leaving her here, unless summoned to King.

"Is there anything I can give her, once the sedation wears off...something for the pain?" Tristan asked, looking up at Stone across the marble counter. His eyes were pleading for an answer, desperate to hear that she was going to be okay. From what he gathered, in time, she would be.

The older man nodded, drying his hands on the nearby hand towel before he cast it aside. "Yes, of course. I can leave a few vials that can be administered once per day, and--"

"Dr. Stone, I would like to request that you stay here for a few days. I can send for your things if you like. I-I'd rather you not leave in case she has an episode. I-I'm not trained for this sort of thing. Take the bedroom, my office, where ever you'd like to sleep--when you do sleep--and I'll cover anything that you need for her." Tristan interrupted him, his face hardened as he wanted Stone to know he was serious. As much as he wanted his privacy, to care for her alone, he wasn't experienced enough in that field to handle her condition. "Please."

There was a flicker of concern in Dr. Stone's eyes as he tilted his head. Green needed him to stay? What an unusual request. Most of the employers per-diem were just that, per-diem and once the job was done, they were to leave. That's why Buck left, after all. His onyx-colored eyes looked at Green skeptically, and with a deep breath, he nodded. "I see."

"Whatever your rate, I don't care, I'll pay it, you know I will. I want the best looking after her, and as far as I've been told, you're the best we've got. Were they wrong?" Tristan asked, standing up straight now. He folded his arms across his chest and stared at the man intently, waiting for his answer. Quite frankly, he wouldn't let the man leave.

"Very well. I'll send for my things and will keep the location secure. I will stay as long as it is necessary to keep your mate alive and well, and facilitate the rehabilitation and recovery." Stone fetched his burner phone from his pocket and proceeded for the door, "If you'll excuse me. I shall return in a moment."

Tristan nodded, and excused him for the short period of time before he would have his belongings delivered to him outside. He turned to look down the hallway once more, through the open door where Maeve lay peacefully on his bed. He leaned against the wall, sliding down against it until he was on his knees. Tristan had imploded with emotion; the sorrow and pain finally taking over him as he had a moment alone to deal with his emotions. He was devastated, and finally had a chance to express it. It was going to be a long night.
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