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by: Matthew Cox
Well wasn't that as much a callout as it was a straight shot to the heart. Matt felt his face work in consternation. A half smile, pained, finally made its way to his face.

"I almost did...I-...I'm-I'm....I'm not okay. Something's wrong with me mentally and I-I-I don't...oh God, I don't know how to tell you..."

He rocked slightly on the wall, trying to force the confession that he didn't want to make. The pained smile became grief and pain mixed with fear.

"The nightmares triggered...wait. Let me tell you what they were first...maybe that will help you understand...three of my worst experiences. Afghanistan...Getting hit with Sectumsempra...and then the squealer last night. That's an ultra high frequency sonic taser...blows out my sinuses and radar."

So there was the stage set. Now he had to confess just how shattered he was. Oh, it was so hard...why was it so hard? He spoke in a stuttering rush, visibly forcing out the information. Matt's voice had shrunk to a shamed whisper in the confession.

"Th-the nightmare triggered...fuck. I'm not alone on my head anymore; something broke in my head during the imperius curse and now...now I have this-this...other...personality. He's....I don't want you around him...I don't want anyone around him."

How would Tristan react to this? Sympathy or ostracism, horror, pity? God only knew. Matt needed help. Maeve and Tristan were all he really had left, so if they cast him out...it wasn't good to think on that. Couldn't think on that right now.
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by: Maeve McLeod
Matt's praise for her offer of help took Mae off-guard, but she nodded easily with a slight smile at the mutant in acknowledgement of his words. At least he wasn't hostile towards her anymore, the Garou mused quietly. Mae moved from her casual stance against the counter to the coffee making and began prepping a pot to brew. She looked over at Tristan briefly when he echoed Matt's praise for her and turned her attention quickly back to making coffee, hoping neither man had noticed the slight blush that had colored her freckled cheeks at the praise. "Of course. Just glad I could help a little," she murmured back.

Tristan went on to tease his brother about how he had woken up alone and wondered if he had been ditched, Maeve only listened somewhat to what the males were saying. She heard him ask about how he had ended up back in his own bed and simply shrugged from her spot in the kitchen, not having an answer to that herself. He had gone to sleep with her and had left at some point after she had fallen asleep; the redhead still wondered why that was herself. She let out a soft snort of disgust at the pang of hurt that line of thought evoked in her and turned her attention to the brewing coffee, pulling the milk out of the fridge and grabbing the sugar bowl as she waited.

When Matt started explaining things to Tristan she was again surprised. Hadn't he just begged her not to tell Tristan about the issues he was having? And men talked about how fickle females were... Mae leaned back against the counter and watched the mutant carefully, sympathy in her green eyes. Nightmares, he said. A shiver of understanding rippled through the little Garou at his admission; she could relate to that herself. It had been several months since they had been a regular problem for her, but even still, Mae had sympathy in spades for Matt on that account. Mae padded a little closer to Matt and leaned against the counter next to him, not reaching out to touch him but simply offering the comfort of her presence.

"Like I said, you've got Garou blood. A lot of what you described about Sunshine to me sounds like what happens when a Garou doesn't know how to control their rage. And if you were under the Imperius..." She sighed heavily. "The Imperius does real bad things to a Garou's brain, even if we aren't put under the full control of the curse. I... vaguely... remember learning that when I was young," she added, referring to her own memory loss. "From what I remember, it strips the neural pathways in the brain that help us control ourselves, our Rage. With that control taken away, we're no better than volatile pups until we repair those pathways in our brains. The only way to do that is to teach you the techniques for control all over again, which I've already promised you I would do, Matt. You're going to be okay," Mae emphasized gently.
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by: Tristan Viridian
Tristan set his food down for now. This was getting serious, darker than he even imagined, and he did well to listen as Matt explained. It somehow made sense, at least for how he managed to find him dumped in a sewer lot. Maybe not dumped but hiding. Huddled. Isolated. The soldier in him probably wanted safety for himself and others by seclusion and he couldn't blame for that. He knew the tactic well. He finished chewing on what bit of food he had and swallowed it down, before getting up out of his seat to step closer. He wasn't going to step closer than necessary; Tristan wanted him to see that he would respect Matt's space, but he took a knee just outside it's invisible perimeter.

Afghanistan he might have been prepared for, but imperius struck him again and the revelation of the squealer made him wince. He looked at Matt with cold, observing eyes for a moment, with a furrowed brow, and was about to speak when Maeve chimed in. She was so willing to help him. But why? He was Tristans friend, sure, but from what she'd taught him, all garou despised unnatural beings. It was their way, wasn't it? Yet here she was, trying to assist him. He tucked that question away for later. It wouldn't do him any good putting them both on the spot when he was trying to keep things light, diffuse the situation.

"Like she said, brother. You're going to be ok." As tough as it was for him to fathom what Matt had been through or even easy for him to judge the choices Matt had made as of late, he wasn't going to leave him hanging right now. As long as Matt wasn't out to harm either one of them, he was going to try and help him.

"But I want to know, who cursed you, Matt?" Tristan asked again. The question was brushed off in the sewer but he wanted to try again.
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by: Matthew Cox
Mae's admission of only vaguely remembering her training and upbringing had Matt twitch his gaze over to her even as Tristan approached and came down on a knee. Matt took that as permission to slide down and sit more comfortably even though he kept his posture curled for comfort.

A deep sigh of relief eased from the marine-turned mutant at the sheer lack of revulsion. Maybe he shouldn't be surprised. Maybe he was the only person comprehending how disgusted people should be with him and his stupid choices. If he knew this was the consequence for agreeing to the program, he'd have never agreed.

And never met Cora.

Hell. His heart twisted again as Tristan addressed the very same subject that his mind had turned to. Matt looked up and over at Tristan, face sorrowful and pained.

"They're not to blame. You're looking for the end link on a chain of orders, and if I told you who did it, you'd be hell bent on getting revenge on someone who is as much a victim as I am. The order came from the Minister of Magic's office, Tris. They let me go. I didn't break the curse. But I hope they break theirs."

Mae would probably scent the pang of love he was feeling, and Tris knew him well enough in the past to probably know that the stubborn refusal to give up Cora was born from affection. Matt shivered for a moment when Sunshine snarled a desire to kill her for abandoning them, but he kept the alter down. As a precaution, he rubbed the pressure points on his wrist again.
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by: Maeve McLeod
When Tristan and Matt settled themselves on the floor Mae remained standing but took a step back so as not to crowd either of them. Offering comfort wasn't exactly something she was good at so she was glad that Tris was understanding and reassuring rather than freaking out and getting angry like Matt had seemed to fear he would. She, on the other hand, wasn't surprised by Tristan's behavior toward his brother; the man was loyal almost to a fault and cared for his friends from what she had seen of him.

Her attention was drawn back to the males when Tristan asked about the person who had cursed Matt. Mae leaned against the countertop and crossed her arms loosely as she observed the men together, but she was more than a little curious to the answer to that question herself. Idly, she wondered if the person responsible had used the imperius on Matt because of his Garou blood, specifically because of the effect the curse had on their kind, or if it was an entirely different sinister purpose that just had the shitty side effect of stripping the man's control. A frown creased her brows at Matt's answer.

The person wasn't to blame? Uh, what? Last time she checked, if you did something you were responsible. As Matt continued, however, Mae started to understand why he didn't blame the person, even if she didn't agree with his assessment. When a subtle change in the mutant's scent hit her nose Mae's head cocked slightly and she looked at him curiously. So it was affection then that kept him from being bitter about the curse... well, that was unexpected. The redhead shook her head slightly.

"You care about the person that did it, don't you?" she asked gently. "That's why Sunshine is so angry with the situation. He wants to make them suffer for what you went through, right?"
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by: Tristan Viridian
This was pretty surreal. Matt, his brother from the muggle side, was talking about the Ministry. About witches and wizards. Curses. He was certain he as dreaming but as sure as the cool air from the vent was blowing onto his shoulders, causing goosebumps to form, and the taste of his morning breakfast... he was wide awake. His face hardened, sea-green eyes were as hard as steel as she looked at Matt, watching him carefully as he configured his response.

End link on a chain of orders? Tristan echoed in thought. Isn't that what they were, anyway? Soldiers took commands from their Xo's, who took orders from their bosses, and so on until they reached the tip top which was usually the Prime Minister or President, depending on where one served. Everyone fit into that chain of command somehow, but in the end everything was just black and white and duties to be fulfilled. It didn't matter who they were or where the orders came from. So...Why the fuck was he protecting them? And how the hell did Coraline fit into this equation? As quickly as he realized that he hadn't yet asked about the Dark Lady, it faded when Maeve cut in.

Tristan had narrowed his eyes at the declaration, his words were stolen from his mouth as Maeve put his thoughts into a kinder delivery. He wasn't sold by any of this. In fact, it made him angry. He stifled that spike in his system by remaining quiet, waiting for Matt to give Mae an answer for the question she'd posed, and his jaw tensed clenching tightly.
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by: Matthew Cox
He could feel Tristan's anger was palpable to the mutant who ducked his head and bit his lip. Did he care about Cora? Did he? He'd been avoiding that wrestling match for as long as possible, and yet here he was now. The recent dates balanced against torture, the kisses balanced against curses, the conversations balanced against being held against his will. What was the truth of his relationship with her? His eyes tracked left and right as he seriously considered the question.

"I think I do...A lot's happened in the last month and finally being free of the curse is...it's a whiplash. But...seeing the real her and not just what she was made to be or do...I think I do."

Why did he feel the need to apologize to Tristan about this? His brother was still furious with the situation. Well, he and Sunshine were in one accord then...fuck...he needed to do something about that stupid splinter personality...but outside of counseling, what was he really able to do?
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by: Tristan Viridian
Tristan wasn't joking around. He didn't play when it came to curses, and now was no different. He would sort out the details when Matt was ready to discuss it, if that time ever came--but the way things were going, he was sure Matt was going to take that name to the grave. Though one tidbit he was able to explain left a clue. Her. Matt said "Her." It was something that was in the Dark Lady's MO to do curse someone but then the fact that he said "real her" truly threw him off. What the hell did he mean by that? Maybe it wasn't Cora he was talking about then...Tristan shrugged off that line of thinking.

"Alright." Tristan said, sternly...quietly. Matt might have picked up the familiar tone of him being aggravated, if he remembered Tristan from the old days. Not necessarily a shit-fit to be thrown because he didn't get his way, but a way that expressed his frustration that he wanted to help...where he couldn't.

Why was he so adamant about keeping this one close? From what he remembered from the delirium that was last night, they disclosed the events of their lives that were pertinent in the now--so why was he withholding? By that observation, it was safe to assume that Matt wasn't going to say anything more. Fine. With a deep sigh, he stood up. He drank down the bit of milk he'd poured and threw the remains of the fruit in the bin. He gave Matt one last glance before looking at Maeve with a silent communication to look after him if she didn't mind. This so intensely irked him that he needed to step away before triggering any negative reactions from Matt, simply because he didn't want that.

He needed a shower and to get to his phone to see if any news came in from his employer. He needed some time to think about what was happening...
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by: Maeve McLeod
Had she said Tris was understanding and comforting? Well, so much for that… Dammit, this was Tristan’s brother, not hers; what the hell was she supposed to do here if the big lummox was just gonna get angry and be mad?! If it wasn’t for Tristan she would’ve attacked the mutant when he showed up, and now he was going to leave comforting the broken man to her? Just goddamn wonderful… Not that it was really that much of a hardship. Matt seemed like he could be a fun guy, kinda like Tristan if he wasn’t so fucked up and broken, but the frustration of not knowing what to do was making the Garou slightly cranky. Mae took a couple deep breaths and centered herself once more, pushing the emotions away and tightening the proverbial chains on her rage.

Tristan’s frustration and anger at the situation were heavy in the air between the three of them, his sudden move to stand up and subsequent leave-taking doing little to relieve the tension in the kitchen. The redhead nodded once to her roommate at his silent request, a barely audible whine escaping her as he turned to go back the hall once more. Mae watched him with concern until he disappeared then ran her hand through her still-bed rumpled hair with a soft sigh.

“Alright, Matt,” Mae started, offering the mutant a hand up, “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving. Wanna talk while you help me make breakfast?” Maybe she could smooth things over with a good meal. The saying said the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach, so maybe the way to get two stubborn-ass soldiers to calm the hell down and talk to each other was the same?
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by: Matthew Cox
Well if that didn't leave him feeling guilty and horrible, he didn't know what would. Matt's head hung sorrowfully as he watched Tris go. Why not just tell him about Cora? Habit, mostly? Or was it not wanting to see his friend go hunt down the woman he cared about? Or maybe not see him get hit by the Dark Lady...After all, the Dark Lady didn't free him, Cora did. If Tristan went after her and got himself put under her spell, she'd be able to find Matt again and things would go all sorts of tits up. Thinking like that wasn't going to fix anything, though. He needed to control his panic and focus. Breathe, Matt. Focus...

"I'm sorry. I don't want anyone hurt in this."

He wasn't sure that Tris heard him. Shit. Matt stood, then, accepting Maeve's help. At her offer to talk while cooking, he nodded. Cooking might help distract him from the flutter of anxiety in his stomach. Matt rifled through the cabinets and drawers quickly, learning where everything was so that he could locate it when asked.

"That's a plan. What were you thinking of making?"
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by: Maeve McLeod
As she opened the fridge and perused the ingredients there, Mae was proud of herself for managing to keep the disgruntled grumbling about the bizarreness of her situation all in her mind. Matt was upset, Tristan was upset… Sigh. Decidedly not how she had wanted to start her morning. The Garou sighed softly and pulled out some sausage links and eggs for breakfast.

“I don’t think he’s hurt really,” she answered Matt’s apology bluntly. “I think he’s more… frustrated. He cares about you and he wants to protect you, that’s all. Wanna get that sausage going first since it’ll take longer?” She transitioned seamlessly into breakfast preparations, hoping to smooth over the awkward emotional crap with food instead. “I’m figuring a good hearty egg scramble with some spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms and sausage links will probably be enough for the three of us, yeah?”

Maeve set about dicing up the vegetables for the egg scramble, letting Matt handle frying up the sausage. She wasn’t entirely sure what else to say to the man, but the silence between them wasn’t awkward at least. It was surprisingly nice, if she was being entirely honest, which was strange in itself for the Garou. She wasn’t used to getting along with most people other than Tristan and a few other members of their organization. Maybe Matt wasn’t so bad to have around… Would certainly be interesting having him stay in the penthouse for a while at any rate.
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by: Matthew Cox
Sure, Tris wasn't really hurt, but the frustration stemmed from the fact that Dorito was a protective person when it came to the people he cared about and Matt's stubbornness was preventing him from enacting that side of his personality. Some things never changed about people and for Tris, that was his desire to take care of those around him. Matt didn't need that kind of protection, he thought with a grimace at the cabinets, nor did he need it. As Matt pulled out a frying pan, he chewed on the concept and his situation.

He was nearly forty, but he was in better physical condition than he'd been in in over a decade. Even in his prime he didn't have the stamina, strength, or speed that he enjoyed now. And his senses? They were farther beyond human than his new physical prowess. No, Matt didn't need physical support or protection. He needed mental assistance. He needed psychological support because he was knotted and tangled still from the past month.

Matt stood in front of the open fridge. "I'll get the eggs out, too, but the tomato is on the edge of going bad. Probably about a day left before it starts turning. The peppers have about two days left."

He got the links out and turned to the stove top as if his scenting hadn't been anything at all. Cold foods like that were right on the edge of his abilities, but it was a thing they could share and talk about, right? It didn't matter really. Did anything, anymore? He wasn't sure.
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by: Maeve McLeod
The Garou huffed her agreement with the mutant’s assessment of the ingredients, mildly impressed that his scenting ability was nearly as precise as her own. “Yeah, if we don’t use the tomato for dinner tonight I had planned to throw it out, but the peppers that are left will be fine for another day or two,” Mae answered.

She made a few more slices in the pepper she was dicing and set the veggies aside until she had the eggs prepped. She let Matt handle the sausage while she scrambled the eggs and continued cooking in the strangely companionable silence between them. After another twenty minutes or so, Mae piled the egg and veggie mix into a serving bowl and carried it over to the table so they could eat. “You know, my offer still stands,” she told Matt as they sat down. “I’m willing to listen if you wanna talk more after breakfast. We can go up to the terrace on the roof if you want,” the Garou repeated her offer, wondering if Matt would trust her enough to take her up on it or not. She assumed he would, but she also wouldn’t have been surprised if he decided not to after all. Maybe he would just try to go talk to Tristan. That would probably be a better idea, at least for the emotional bullshit, but Tris wouldn’t be able to give him the same support that she could with the mutant’s Garou blood. Ugh. Maybe she should just tell him they were gonna go talk after breakfast instead.

Well, one thing was certain at least. It was going to be a very interesting day in the penthouse...
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