Timeline: March 15, 2008, late afternoon/early evening
Rey sat by the newly started fire and half-heartedly warmed her hands. She was cold, sore, nervous, miserable and lonely. She’d almost broken the promise she’d made herself, not to seek Grey out.
Ever since the night she’d gone into Grey’s dreams, she’d berated herself for her stupidity. She shouldn’t have done it. She should have tried to pull out, leave the dream, when he started hurting her. She should have… So many should haves. The stern looks from Ironclaw just made her feel worse.
Rey tried to push all those thoughts aside. Now wasn’t the time for recriminations. She needed to focus. It was the lack of focus that made her lose her footing and twist her knee on the way here. She didn’t let Hamilton heal it, preferring to feel the pain as a reminder to be more careful.
Yesterday, she’d sought out Ramiel and Lyla, asking them to meet her here at this shelter. While at the house, she’d slipped a note under Grey’s door, asking him to come, but saying that if he didn’t want to, she’d understand. And, last night, when she’d finished her training session with Ironclaw, she’d asked him to come, and to pass the invitation along to Grey. She tried not to squirm under his gaze, but whatever he saw or read in her appeared to satisfy him and he didn’t press the matter.
She hadn’t told any of them what she wanted to talk to them about, other than it had to do with what she’d learned in Baltimore. And so there she was, having arrived at least an hour early, hoping to try and meditate to calm her nerves and get her mind focused on what Daniel had told her.
The thick, still-furred deerskin flap that served as a door for this isolated little lodge lifted as someone else entered. Lyla looked out from the furred hood of a warm winter coat the color of sand. “Hi Rey,” she said. Lyla pulled off her coat as she looked around and smiled. “Nice and warm. Cozy.” She laid her coat on the cold ground next to Rey and sat down with her feet closer to the fire to warm them and dry them.
She pulled off her gloves, pushed up her sleeves and warmed her hands near the fire. Rey could see the black markings of a new tattoo work swirling from further up her right arm. It stood out in stark relief on her winter-pale skin.
“Thanks.” Rey felt better now, a bit more centered and less frazzled. “You’re getting tattoos?”
Ramiel showed up a little later. He looked tired as he took a seat near the fire. His hair was pulled back away from his face. He wore an old t-shirt and jeans. His appearence seemed secondary. He even had three day stubble growing. “I was able to make it,” he said as he warmed himself.
“Thanks, Ramiel.” Rey smiled at him, thankful he’d been able to make it. “This is… important, and means a lot to me.”
Noticing Lyla’s arm Ramiel took her by the hand and examined the detail. “Is this Grey’s work?” He asked.
Lyla nodded. “He’s really a master of the art. They match my spirit brands. They go all the way — well, you’ll have to see some time,” she smiled.
A flare of irrational jealousy surged through Rey, but then was gone as quickly as it had come. She let out a little sigh, and shifted to get more comfortable.
A moment later, the door skin moved again and Ironclaw maneuvered his hulking bulk through the small opening. He nodded to each of the three in turn.
The only one yet to arrive was Grey.
Not long after Ironclaw was settled in another cold breeze filled the room as Grey entered. Without a word he sat down.
Ramiel took a moment to lean in and whisper in Lyla’s ear. “I can’t wait to play with those new lines. I hope they go someplace naughty.”
Lyla gave him a smile and a look that said she was ready to be very naughty. She seemed to be nearly back to her old self. “Well,” she whispered back, “I would hope that what they lead to is something you’d think is very nice.”
Ironclaw cleared his throat. “So, what’s up, Rey?”
Rey’s heart lurched when she saw Grey, and her previous calm was shattered. She lowered her eyes to the fire for a moment, and took a deep breath to try and center herself again. Her hands flexed in her lap, and she wished Hamilton were with her, but her little familiar was so intimidated by the Uratha.
After a moment, she lifted her eyes to look at the others. When her eyes fell on Grey, she hoped the longing she felt was hidden behind the mask of “professionalism” she was trying to wear.
“Thank you for coming,” she started awkwardly. “I really ought to have done this sooner, but what happened in Baltimore, and stuff that has happened since… I was just using it as an excuse. I asked you to come because you’re all very important to me, and I think this is information you need to know.
“One of the things I wanted to learn when I was in Baltimore was what happened the night my parents died.” Rey shifted uncomfortably, and all the suave, elegant speeches she’d rehearsed flew out of her head, forgotten. “Ramiel, Michael and I didn’t find anything, but Daniel did.”
Rey told them — no, more recited to them the section of Daniel’s report about the attack. She’d read it so often she could say it in her sleep. When she was finished, she slumped for a moment, then forced herself to sit upright. “And that’s what Daniel was able to figure out.”
“So there are more of them.” Ramiel spoke in a very neutral voice. “I think based on my experience, that the dark man was in fact protecting you. And you say Daniel recognized something, or rather should have but couldn’t. More questions than answers.” He muttered.
Grey remained silent eyes focused on the fire.
“I asked him afterwards, and when he thought about it,” Rey added, “he said one of the Dark Men had white hair.”
“Anything else?” Ramiel asked.
“Or better yet why and how does this effect the pack?” Ironclaw said.
“It affects Rey,” Lyla said, “and she’s one of us.” She looked sharply at Rey, though. “This is worse than thinking the Dark Man was trying to kill you. Now we don’t know anything at all about their motivations.
“But,” she continued, “it’s also in the past now. If they wanted you to know something, they’d tell you. Since they haven’t, then learning more will be pushing this — and they can and will push back however and whenever they fell like it.”
“I don’t plan on pursuing it,” Rey said. “I don’t know what was in that contract or whatever my parents signed, or why the person in white tried to kill me. I don’t know if they’ll try again, or if going back to Baltimore and poking around has stirred things up.” She thought about the rest of what Daniel had told her.
“I’ve dedcided htat I will not actively pursue the dark men. If they cross my path again I will deal with it. From here on out my primary objective is finding Serena, and dealing with this Brotherhood. That is my best guess to the one in white. After all they wore white robes when they took Ariyah. Thank you for sharing this Rey, it helps solidify things for me. The Dark Men have an agenda of their own, and though we call tehm Dark really they walk in the gray. They do what needs to be done to achieve their goals. That I can relate to.” Ramiel yawned.
“And they saved your ass,” Lyla pointed out. “Which means they still need you for something. The Dark Men are not kind or good people. They may not be our enemy, at least not at the moment, but we should never make the mistake of just assuming they and we are on the same side.”
“Okay so what now? Are we done here? Is there more to talk about or do we stare at each other?” Ramiel asked.
Ironclaw was still grouchy. “I think you need to make a decision on how you want to handle this information, Rey. If you need the pack’s help, let me know.” He rose to leave, but paused. “Coming, Grey?”
Lyla watched Grey and Rey with concern.
Grey silently stood and followed Ironclaw.
“Yeah let us know what you want and we are there for you. Though I think I am done providing entertainment for you.” Ramiel said with a tired smile.
Rey flinched, and watched Grey walk out. She pulled her legs up to her chest and buried her face in her knees. After a moment, she began to shake.
Lyla reached moved next to Rey and put an arm around her. She didn’t say anything, just offered her support.
That simple, comforting touch was more than Rey could bear. Deep, heart-wrenching sobs wracked her body as all the pain, grief, and shame of what she had done poured out.
“Awkward.” Ramiel said. Then he sat there watching her cry. Finally, he too moved to her side opposite Lyla and wrapped his arms around her. “Do I need to have a talk with him Rey? Did he hurt you?”
Rey shook her head. Lyla and Ramiel could barely make out the words “I hurt him”, “nightmare”, and “I never should have”.
“Ramiel, don’t. They’re just having some problems right now,” Lyla said softly. “It will be okay. Grey just needs some time.”
“It will pass.” Ramiel said. He knew now what was wrong with her. “Just cry as much as you need to.”
Rey continued to cry, clinging to her friends. “Never forgive…” she choked out, shaking her head.