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Thread: Fang's Fics

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, United States
    Thanked 25 Times in 21 Posts
    Broken Master (A Kingdom Hearts one-shot)

    Almost fifteen years had been spent asleep. Spent living with his heart in that of a boy he’d met once. He knew that boy had tried to find his friends and bring them back, and he’d managed with one. But it was too late. She’d been converted. Taking her to Castle Oblivion, she’d fulfilled her promise, but in a way nobody expected. Walking into the foyer of the Castle and ending the sleeping spell on the young man at the furthest reaches, the Keyblade Master laughed, sealing Sora and Riku out of the Castle as she stalked through the halls of her former home, intent on doing her new master’s work. That was well over eight hours before.

    To him, the last hours had been spent fighting her. His best friend from years ago. The one person that got him to smile. The person who promised to be right back to wake him up. He’d woken up, that was certain, but not in the way he hoped would happen. Ventus, a former student of Master Eraqus, was trapped in a battle with one of the two people he was ever close to.

    “Aqua!” Ven yelled, dodging yet another swing and barely casting a Reflect Spell to block the shotlock burst from Aqua’s Keyblade. “Aqua, please! This isn’t you!” He yelled as his Reflect was broken, Aqua knocking him down and leaping, feeling her foot on his chest. “Aqua, it’s Ven. Please…listen to me…” He struggled to reach his pocket, knowing that if he could just grasp the Wayfinder…

    Aqua looked down at Ven, yellow eyes sparkling in the light of the throne rooms candles, the moon and stars shining in from the broken windows signaling the length of the battle between friends. Laughing, Aqua spun the Brightcrest, bringing it down and pointing the tip of her blade at Ven’s heart. “This is perfectly me, Ventus!” she snapped. “Almost fifteen years in the Realm of Darkness. All I had left was hopelessness and despair, and now—now you’re going to know them, too.” She raised her Keyblade, the light glinting off of the blade.

    “I have known it, Aqua,” Ven whispered, his eyes soft as he tried to hold back the tears threatening to spill over his eyes. “I have known it. While you’ve been trapped in the Realm of Darkness…I’ve been sleeping with my heart inside of Sora. Waiting…waiting for the day you’d come back to me!” He knew he was going to die, and to him—dying by Aqua’s hand, even if she wasn’t truly herself, would have been the way he’d want to die.

    Aqua hesitated, lowering her eyes before she tightened her grip around the Keyblade. “You don’t know anything, Ven! Being stuck in the Realm of Darkness!” she yelled, her hands starting to shake at the thought of plunging the blade into Ven started weakening. “Wandering aimlessly with no concept of time, the only companion you have being your own doubts.”

    Ven, still struggling to get to his pocket, looked at Aqua. “No, I don’t know what that’s like,” he said. “But I know what it’s like to be trapped in a place and unable to get out of it. And I know that the real Aqua is inside there somewhere, struggling to get out of Xehanort’s grasp! The Aqua I know would not give up on her friends!”

    Aqua narrowed her eyes, raising the Keyblade and plunging it down, hearing it hit glass before the sound of it piercing skin ripped through her ears. She looked down, seeing the shards of Ven’s Wayfinder falling to the ground and her Keyblade lodged in his chest, blood flowing from the wound. She felt her grip on the handle of the blade slacken, eyes wide as she realized what was taking place. “Ven…” she whispered, looking down at him as she watched her Keyblade vanish. “Ven, no…what have I done…?!”

    Ven coughed softly, feeling Aqua’s hand in his. He looked up at her, watching her eyes go from harsh yellow back to the soft blue he’d known for years. He squeezed her hand softly, struggling to breathe. “You did…what you thought…was right…” he whispered.

    “I’m going to lose you again,” Aqua sobbed, pressing her forehead to Ven’s hand. “I can’t lose you again! I won’t!”

    Summoning her Keyblade again, Aqua began feeling a pit in her stomach. She tightened her hand, pointing the Keyblade at Ven. “Heal!” When it did nothing, she closed her eyes and took a shaking breath. “HEAL! HEAL!!” She felt her heart sink, screaming and flinging her Keyblade away as she collapsed, her head falling against Ven’s chest. “I’m sorry, Ven…”

    Ven put his hand on Aqua’s cheek softly, making her look at him. He shook his head softly, smiling weakly. “Don’t be,” he whispered. “I…if I was going to die…I would have…wanted you to be the one…to do it…”

    “Don’t talk like that,” Aqua whispered, leaning her cheek into Ven’s palm softly. “I’ll…I’ll find a way. I’ll have to.” She bit her lip, tears streaking down her face like small waterfalls. “I’ll put you back to sleep. I can get you to Master Yen Sid. He can help me. He’ll know what to do, Ven.” She closed her eyes, putting her hand on Ven’s against her cheek. “Don’t leave me again…”

    “I’m always with you,” Ven whispered, looking up at Aqua. “I’m always with you, Aqua. In your heart…” His hand slipped from Aqua’s grip, landing on the floor with a soft thump as the light faded from his eyes, the wound and loss of blood to great for Ven to fight against.

    “No! No!!” Aqua yelled, pressing her hands to the wound. “No, Ventus! NO! I’m not losing you again! I won’t let you!!” She screamed as she tried to bring him back, collapsing to her knees and pressing bloodied hands onto her face, sobbing as realization and dread set in inside of her heart. “Ven…Ven I’m so sorry…I’m so sorry…”

    She sat with Ventus’ body until the sun rose and her tears were gone, a dull shimmering around the Castle signaling the barrier was falling. She heard running footsteps, three sets that signaled Sora, Riku, and one other. She shook with silent shudders, clinging to Ventus’ now cold body, her hands tight in his shirt. Jumping when she felt a hand on her shoulder, Aqua looked up at Sora.

    “I’m sorry…” she whispered, her eyes bloodshot as she felt a new wave of tears, surprising herself since she felt she had no more to shed. She looked over at Riku, her heart tightening as she spotted the man next to him. “Terra—”

    Terra walked over, kneeling beside Aqua. He put his hand on her back softly, reaching down and closing Ventus’ eyes. “It’s alright,” he whispered. “It’s ok, Aqua. This is on Xehanort. Not you. It’s the same with what I’d done as Xehanort. That blood is on his hands. Not yours.”

    Aqua started sobbing once again, turning and clinging to Terra, all traces of the Keyblade Master gone, a broken woman in her place. “I never told him the truth…” she whispered, feeling Terra’s arms around her.

    “He knew, Aqua,” Terra whispered. “He knew you loved him. He always felt the same about you…”

    Aqua shook her head softly. “I’m sorry, Terra…I’m so sorry…” she whispered. “I’m sorry about everything…”

    After a few more minutes of endless sobbing, Aqua felt herself limp in Terra’s arms, her head falling against his shoulder as she fell asleep, the last day catching up to her as well as exhaustion from the endless crying. Sora and Riku had taken care of Ven, the two younger men nodding.

    “Let’s go,” Terra whispered, picking up the shards of Ven’s Wayfinder and putting them in his pocket, lifting Aqua up and carrying her to the Gummy Ship, knowing she’d feel worse again when she woke, but for now, he hoped her dreams were taking her someplace she deserved to go.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, United States
    Thanked 25 Times in 21 Posts
    Slowly Mending--Young Justice Spitfire [Teen]

    Artemis sighed, looking at the calendar and clenched her hands, looking at the date. It was Wally’s birthday, five months after his disappearance. She refused to say he was dead, because she knew somewhere deep inside, that stupid bastard that she, for unknown reasons, was still in love with after five years was too stubborn to die, not when they had so much planned. She drummed her fingers on her stomach, feeling a tiny kick that made her still choke up before taking a shaking breath as she heard the door get knocked on.

    “Who the hell…?” she mumbled, walking over and looking out of the peephole. She groaned when she saw her sister, surprised Jade had found her. She unlocked the door and opened it, stepping back. “Jade? What are you doing here?”

    “Hunting your ass down,” Jade said, walking past her sister and sitting on the arm of the couch.

    “Sure, come in. Make yourself at home,” Artemis deadpanned. “I’m serious, why are you here?”

    Jade looked down, wrapping her arms around herself and biting her lip. Artemis had never seen her sister look vulnerable, and it wasn’t a good look for the usually hard as nails former League of Shadows assassin. “I’m sorry about Wally,” she said after a solid few minutes, looking at her younger sister. “I heard what happened from Ra’s. He found me himself and told me. I…I went and saw Mom to see if you were there, and she told me about the house out here in Palo Alto--”

    “You’re rambling,” Artemis said, turning her back and heading for the kitchen again. “Stop kicking my insides, you little booger. Christ…today’s a day I wish I could drink…”

    Jade cocked an eyebrow, getting up and following her sister. She walked over and stopped in front of Artemis, a confused look on her face before she reached over and put her hand on Artemis’ stomach, blinking and feeling her heart stop. “Artemis…”

    “Don’t,” Artemis whispered, pushing Jade away. “Damn it, Jade, just don’t.”

    “Artemis Lian Crock!” Jade snapped. “You do not get to shove me away! Not today. Not right now!” She glanced at the calendar and stepped forward, putting her hands on Artemis’ face. “Not today, little sister. Please.”

    Artemis felt the dam she’d build in her heart shatter, sinking against her sister and sobbing, clutching Jade’s jacket. She buried her face in Jade’s shoulder, her sister’s arms tightening around her. “I can’t do this…” she sobbed, shaking as she cried. “I can’t do this without him…that stupid bastard…went and got himself disintegrated and we can’t…we don’t know where he ended up or if he’s alive or what…”

    Jade rubbed Artemis’ back softly, closing her eyes. “It’s ok, honey,” she whispered. “It’s ok. It’s been five months…have you talked to anyone?” She felt her sister’s head shake, blonde hair whipping back and forth. “Why?”

    “It hurts too much,” Artemis whispered. “M’gann, Kaldur, Connor, Dick…they all miss him, but…I’m the one that got left behind. And I’m fucking knocked up and I can’t get blitzed because of Willow and I—”

    Jade nodded softly, squeezing Artemis softly. “When was the last time you got out of the house?” she asked. “Like…really getting out of the house? Not to an appointment or anything?”

    Artemis bit her lip, looking away. “Apparently too long if I have to think…”

    “Then we’re going out,” Jade said, standing up and dragging Artemis to her feet. “It’s been five months since Wally disappeared. Like you said, you’re pregnant but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. I had fun when I was pregnant with Lian.” She didn’t say that the fun she had was murder, torture, and other war crimes to find out where the man that ‘killed’ her sister was, but she knew Artemis knew what she meant. “Give me your phone.”

    “Why?” Artemis asked, cocking an eyebrow softly.

    “Give!” Jade held her hand out. “Now.”

    Artemis groaned, handing her sister the phone. “Fine. Whatever you’re going to do, I don’t approve a damn bit.”

    “That’s why I’m doing it,” Jade said. She unlocked the phone and went to Artemis’ messages, starting a new group text before selecting a few of the girls in the contacts that she knew Artemis was closest with, telling them to get to the house because she needed people to talk to. “I will be right back.” She stuffed the phone back in her sister’s pocket, grinning as she did.

    “What did you do?” Artemis asked, her eyes narrowed.

    “Sent out a party invite,” Jade smirked. “I’m going to go get food. Instead of going out, we’re staying in. You’re probably hungry and I know you don’t eat when you’re upset. Never did as a kid.” She hugged Artemis, closing her eyes when she felt her sister’s arm around her. “I’ll be right back. Go have a bath or a shower or something and look nice. Frumpy sweats and an oversized jersey are not party wear, dear.”

    Artemis rolled her eyes. “Yes, Mother,” she said. She sighed and grabbed her purse, taking her keys out and handing them to Jade. “There’s the house key. I’m locking the door behind you.”

    Jade nodded, stuffing the keys into her pocket. “Alright. I will be back,” she said, heading out and shutting the door.

    Artemis grumbled and locked the door, tromping up the stairs and slamming her bedroom door before she locked it, setting her phone on the nightstand and stripping down, letting her mane of blonde hair down before walking into the bathroom. She sat on the edge of the tub and started the water, pulling the curtain closed and pulling the stopper on the faucet, the showerhead springing to life and spraying down into the tub. She got in and sighed as she stepped under the water, closing her eyes and running her hands through her hair softly, getting it wet. Her mind wandered as she massaged the strawberry scented shampoo through her hair.

    “I don’t know whether to kill you or kiss you, babe,” Wally said, back to back and facing down League of Shadows soldiers and Reach.

    “Mm…you can decide later. When we’re alone,” Artemis said seductively, cocking an eyebrow and smirking.

    Wally did decide. They had barely got in the door of the house when he pinned her against the couch and ripped her Tigress suit off of her, crossbows and bolts flying everywhere in his haste. He fucked her against the couch, once in the stairs heading to their room, against the bathroom door, in the shower, and finally on the bed, before going slow and dragging it out for the sixth time, changing from a hard fuck to a slow lovemaking, something both heroes needed. Artemis’ body felt higher then cloud nine with each consecutive orgasm, moaning and whimpering with each stroke and thrust of her boyfriend inside of her. She woke the next morning curled up against Wally’s side, her leg draped over his hips as she hugged close to him, afraid she was dreaming, and she’d wake up back on Black Manta’s sub.

    Two days later, her world was shattered as she stepped out in the cold arctic air. Wally had disappeared to help Barry and Bart stop the Chrysalis, the last of the Reach’s Magnetic Field Disruptors. When the device sparked and started to blow up, two Speedster blurs stopped on the ice, Artemis looking around with a smile on her face to try and find Wally which shouldn’t have been hard considering the mustard yellow suit and red pants.

    She watched Barry walking over, and she felt her heart stop in her chest. “Wait…where’s Wally?” she asked, tears brimming her eyes softly.

    Barry stopped in front of Artemis, biting his lip softly. “Artemis…he wanted me to tell you he loved you,” he whispered.

    “No…no no no!” Artemis yelled, sinking into the snow as the tears spilt over her cheeks, burying her face in her hands before she felt M’gann’s arms around her, curling up into her best friend. “No…no!”

    Six weeks later, she found out she was pregnant.

    Artemis snapped out of her daydream, rinsing her hair out before she washed her body. She smiled softly when she felt Willow’s tiny feet kicking inside of her, spending extra time on her stomach as she lathered the scented bodywash over herself. She washed off and shut off the water, drying her hair as best as she could before wrapping the towel around herself, walking into the bedroom and tossing the towel in the corner.

    “I really need to do that laundry…” she mumbled, grabbing a matched set of underwear as well as her jeans and a shirt, getting dressed before brushing out her hair and pulling it back into her signature high ponytail. She heard voices downstairs, closing her eyes and making out M’gann, Zatanna, Raquel, and to her surprise, Dinah. She slid her shoes on and walked down, biting her lip as she did.

    M’gann looked over and saw Artemis, flying over and hugging her friend. “Hi,” she said.

    Artemis closed her eyes and hugged M’gann back. “Hi, M’gann,” she whispered. She felt the other girls hug her from all sides, hearing Jade’s snickers from the kitchen. “When did you all get here?”

    “I’ve been outside for ten minutes,” Dinah said. “I tried calling you, but you didn’t answer.”

    “Sorry, Dinah. I was in the shower under Jade’s orders,” Artemis said, glaring at her sister who grinned and stuck her tongue out. “Watch it, Jade. I’ll cut your tongue out and give it to Roy.”

    “Oh, he gets my tongue enough, little sister,” Jade said with a smirk, laughing when Artemis shuddered, and Raquel loudly protested having to hear that. “She set me up for that, Rocket. Don’t take it out on me!”

    Artemis rolled her eyes and smiled softly, shaking off the girls and heading for the kitchen. “The hell are you making?” she asked, looking over her sister’s shoulder.

    Goi cuon,” Jade said. “Salad rolls. Something I learned to make when I did a month-long job in Vietnam. Worked as a cook in the Prime Minister’s mansion and learned a few things, but this is one I make all the time since Lian loves them.”

    As the six women sat and talked, catching up on Artemis’ life, as well as learning what the Team and the League had been up to in her absence, Artemis found herself relaxing and having fun for the first time in months. When Raquel left early due to having an interview the next morning, Dinah ducking out a bit later since she was training the Team again, it left M’gann and Zatanna with the two sisters.

    M’gann watched Artemis get up and head into the living room, and she followed. She watched Artemis stop in front of a large picture on the wall, one taken of her and Wally on New Year’s Day on the Watchtower during a party Diana had decided to throw. She walked over and wrapped her arms around Artemis’ shoulders, feeling her lean into the embrace.

    “Are you alright, Artemis?”

    “I don’t know, M’gann. Slowly mending, I guess. It’s been five months, and I’m losing my mind. I keep thinking his dumb ass is going to waltz in that door like a moron and be loud, or trip over his own two feet and land in the laundry basket or something just…Wally, you know? I don’t think I can do this without him.”

    “Do what?”
    M’gann asked.

    Artemis pulled away from M’gann, turning and facing her before putting her friend’s hand on her stomach. “That.”

    M’gann’s face lit up before she hugged Artemis tightly. “You don’t have to do it alone. You’ve got us. We’re all in your phone, Zeta works both ways. You just have to ask for help, Artemis,” she said. “Ok? We’ll always be there for you.”

    Artemis nodded softly, clinging to M’gann as a fresh round of tears fell down her cheeks. “I Know…” she whispered. “I’m sorry I’ve been so distant, M’gann…”

    “It’s ok,” M’gann said, rubbing Artemis’ back softly. “It’s ok. I understand the desire to get away from it and try and heal after what happened. You don’t have to apologize to me.”

    Over the next four months, with regular visits to and by her friends and sister, Artemis found the support system she needed. On the night of March 17th, Artemis welcomed her daughter Willow Mary into the world. Artemis swore that she was looking at a spitting image of Wally, down to the shape of the nose and the shining emerald green eyes. She fell instantly in love with her daughter, more then she had feeling her growing inside.

    Artemis’ life was pretty simple from that point on. Waking up at random hours to feed and change Willow, visiting her mother in Gotham, Wally’s parents in Central City where his mother did not want to let Willow go the first time Artemis visited, M’gann and Connor in Happy Harbor, drop-ins from Kaldur, Zatanna, Barry, Iris, and Bart, even Dick once or twice. Nothing could have prepared her for the joy and shock that she was about to get when she woke up on the morning of June 20th, one year after Wally disappeared.

    Pacing the kitchen with Willow attached to her breast for the fourth time that morning, having realized months ago that her daughter was a Speedster, Artemis looked over as the doorbell rang. “Who is that this early?” she asked, looking down at Willow. She covered herself and Willow up, making her way over and peeking out, seeing M’gann. “M’gann, hi. What’re you doing here? We’re not supposed to meet up until Friday. What’s wrong?”

    “You need to come with me right now,” M’gann said. “Like right now, right now. It’s one thousand percent urgent and Kaldur asked me to get you since this is something you need to know.”

    “M’gann, breathe. What the hell is going on?” Artemis asked, already walking back into the house and shutting off the television before she laid Willow in her playpen for a minute while she readjusted and closed her shirt back up, tucking the cover into the diaper bag. She double checked the bag and made sure she had everything, grabbing her purse and her crossbow from the closet before shrugging a jacket on. “M’gann?”

    M’gann sighed, looking at Artemis. “You know what today is,” she said. “Dinah, she’s been on monitor duty while teaching the new heroes, and…she got a blip in the Arctic. We pinged the blip and when we brought it up on radar, it’s the Chrysalis site. Kaldur asked me to get you, and he’s trying to get ahold of Dick, but Kaldur decided this was an Original Team mission.”

    Artemis froze. She felt her hands shaking, a small spark of hope rising in her chest. She nodded softly, pulling her jacket on before grabbing the baby carrier and putting Willow inside, the young girl giggling and flailing her legs. She swung the diaper bag and her purse on, lifting the carrier up. “Alright. Who’s, um…who’s going to watch Willow? I don’t want her in that cold.”

    “Bart said he would,” M’gann said. “His words were “I feel bad I didn’t slow down when Gramps told me, so I can watch Willow to hopefully start making up for Artemis losing Wally.” Kid’s riding a guilt train.”

    After arriving on the Watchtower and hugging Bart and telling him to stop feeling guilty, Artemis walked out of the Bioship in the Arctic, looking around as she drew her hood around her head. She was thankful they still had her polar suit, even it was the variation on her green suit. Looking around as she started forward, her feet crunching on metal and snow, the blonde archer felt the spark of hope she had start going out with each step. She was about to give up hope she spotted it. In the distance was a yellow and red thing, and Artemis took off running. As she got closer, she could make out detail on the figure, seeing a tattered Kid Flash suit and flaming red hair sticking out of the mangled cowl.

    “WALLY!” she screamed, pushing herself harder and mentally cussing herself out for not keeping up on her calisthenics after having Willow. She dropped to her knees and slid to a halt beside her boyfriend, putting her hands on his chest as tears fell down her cheeks. “Wally, open your eyes. Baby, please look at me! Open your damn eyes, Wally!”

    Groaning softly and wincing as he did, Wally slowly opened his eyes and looked up at Artemis. “Mm…don’t yell at me, babe…” he whispered.

    “I’m going to yell at you, you bastard,” Artemis cried, scooping Wally up and sobbing against his neck. “You complete asshole…you left me alone…” She felt his arms slide around her waist, shaking as she did. “You absolute asshole…”

    “Love you too, Artemis,” Wally whispered, burying his face against her neck. “I don’t…I don’t even know what happened. Last thing I remember was being shocked by the Chrysalis and then just unrelenting cold against my body.”

    “There’s plenty of time to catch you up,” M’gann said as she landed, putting her hand on Wally’s back. “Right now, let’s get you to the Watchtower and checked out.”

    Wally nodded softly, Artemis and M’gann pulling him to his feet and helping him onto the Bioship.

    Hours later, after many exams, tears, hugs, and threats that if he ever did anything that stupid again he would be dead for real, Wally sighed as he laid back on the bed in the hospital room, an IV drip in his hand. He looked over as Artemis walked in, Willow in her arms.

    “Hey, babe,” he said with a small smile.

    “Hi,” Artemis said, walking over and climbing up on the bed beside Wally. She leaned against him, feeling his arm around her. “Wally, this is Willow Mary. This is your daughter.”

    Wally smiled, looking down at Willow. “Aww…you’re adorable,” he said, snickering when Artemis handed Willow to him. “Hi, sweetie. You got your mama’s nose and eyes.”

    “Well, eye shape,” Artemis said with a smile. She bit her lip, looking down. “Wally…why didn’t you say anything that day? When you left to help Barry and Bart?”

    Wally sighed softly, shifting a bit and taking Willow’s hand. “I didn’t say anything because…if I had, I don’t think I’d have had the courage to go through with leaving,” he said. “I left because Barry and Bart weren’t going to be able to stop that damn thing on their own. I knew my slower speed wouldn’t be much use, but I had to try. If I had pulled you aside and told you I was going to help, I wouldn’t have been able to leave. I left without saying anything because I wanted the last thing you to remember me by was that kiss in Paris.”

    Artemis nodded softly, rubbing her hands together softly. “I wanted to hate you,” she whispered. “For just abandoning me, not having the balls to say goodbye, not coming home. But…I couldn’t. I cried, I threw up, I threw things, I cursed your name like it was a swear word, but I couldn’t hate you. No matter how much I freaking tried…”

    Wally wrapped his arm around Artemis, kissing her head softly. “I’m sorry, Artemis,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”

    Artemis nodded softly. “I don’t know whether to kill you or kiss you,” she said, looking up at Wally.

    Wally laughed, smiling as he did. “You can decide later. When we’re alone.”

    Artemis smiled, leaning up and kissing Wally. She knew the road to mending was a long one, but with Wally back beside her, she hoped it would be an easy road. Slowly mending or not, the blonde archer was content with how her life had turned out.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, United States
    Thanked 25 Times in 21 Posts
    Empty Chairs At Empty Tables (Borderlands 3)

    The thrumming of the ship’s engines sent a calming shudder through the bar, the music slightly calming to the Siren as she studied. Amara bit her lip as she flipped the page in the book she’d borrowed from Ava, the one that used to hang from Maya’s hip.

    “Nyriad?” the Tiger of Partali muttered, jotting the name down on a tablet for later research. She’d come to Pandora to hunt Vaults, dish out justice with her phase arms, learn about Sirens. She’d done her share of the former two, but having to watch two of her Siren sisters die without being able to stop it? That was a crime Amara knew she could never forgive herself for. She scanned the page, raising an eyebrow.

    “For every Warrior, Traveler, or Timekeeper, there is always another Vault. Perhaps they’re endless. Perhaps the Eridians had reason for locking these creatures away. Perhaps we shall never know.”

    Amara sighed, rubbing her eyes softly before marking her place in the book. She shut it and pressed her hands to her eyes, her elbows resting on the table in the corner before taking her beer and taking a sip.

    “What’s wrong, sugar?” Moxxi asked as she walked up, sitting across from Amara. “Never seen you study before.”

    Amara chuckled, rubbing her temples. “This was Maya’s, and…I want to learn more about us. The Sirens. This seems to be the closest way to do so.”

    Moxxi smiled softly, nodding. “Well, I can’t offer much in the way of knowledge about Sirens, but if you need someone to bounce ideas off of, I’m always here, sugar,” she said.

    “Thank you, Moxxi,” Amara said. “Actually...maybe you could help me. How long have you known Lilith and Maya?”

    “A long, long time,” the buxom bartender said, folding her hands on the table. “Lilith and her friends took on my Underdome arena. Mordecai wanted the grand prize, a box of loot and yours truly. After that, they helped me with an ex-husband in a prison during an Atlas invasion of Pandora.”

    “Atlas? Rhys tried to take over the planet?” Amara asked. “He doesn’t seem like the type.”

    “He isn’t. This was before he became Atlas CEO. Like Maliwan on Promethea, Atlas invaded Pandora looking for the Vault. They were led by a Siren, Commandant Steele. She got eaten by the Destroyer…before being turned into a human Claptrap…”

    Amara shuddered. “No thank you,” she said. She raised an eyebrow. “Steele was a Siren? What were her powers?”

    “Nobody knows,” Moxxi said. “She only ever used them once as far as Lilith said, and that was to activate the Vault Key.” She smiled softly, straightening her hat. “Why the interest in the girls?”

    “I wanted to learn more about Sirens. I never got the chance to ask either of them to talk about it. With Tannis and Ava being Sirens now, I’m the one with most experience, and I want to make sure they know what they’re getting into. And…it’s atonement.” The Siren’s hands clenched, her tattoos glowing a dim blue and green.

    “For what, sugar?” Moxxi asked, reaching over and putting her hand on Amara’s, the dim glow of the tattoos seeping through her fingers.

    “Standing by while Troy killed Maya and Lilith gave herself up to stop Elpis crashing into the planet,” Amara said. “The four of us stood there and did nothing when Maya and Ava were in danger, and I feel horribly about it. Killing Troy to avenge Maya was fine, but it doesn’t stop the guilt.”

    Moxxi nodded, biting her lip softly. “Listen, honey. Maya wouldn’t want you blaming yourself for her death. If anything, that’s on Ava’s conscious because she didn’t listen and stay on the ship. If you had tried to help, what’s to say Tyreen wouldn’t have tried to take your powers too? She’d already taken Lilith’s, and that Vault monster on Promethea. If you had tried to help, who knows what could have happened.”

    “I know that, Moxxi,” Amara said, sighing. “But to know that I could do something and then do nothing? What kind of friend does that make me? How can I face myself knowing that I did nothing to help two women who were my sisters?”

    “You pull yourself up by your bootstraps and say that you won’t let anyone else die if you can save them, worn out from a Vault monster fight or not,” Moxxi said. “Listen, sugar. I know I don’t have to tell you that the Borderlands ain’t a playground. Each planet you’ve gone to has been one hellhole after another. Monsters and bandits around every corner. You just got to suck it up, take the losses, make them the fire that you burn to keep pushing along.”

    Amara nodded, sighing softly. “I know, and trying to teach Ava and Tannis is going to be hard,” she said.

    Moxxi smiled, patting Amara’s hand. “You’ll figure it out, sugar,” she said. She got up, sauntering over to the bar, and walking around behind before grabbing a bottle and four shot glasses. Making her way back to Amara, she set the glasses down and poured the four shots.

    “Four?” Amara asked.

    Moxxi nodded, setting the bottle down. “One for you, one each for Lilith and Maya, and one for me. Those girls were my family as much as Ellie and Scooter, so losing them feels like losing a part of myself,” she said before taking her glass. “To fallen friends.”

    “May there be empty chairs at the table in remembrance,” Amara said, picking up her own shot.

    The two women clinked their glasses before throwing back the alcohol, setting the empty vessels down on the table. Amara got up, leaving the two full shots before tucking the book under her arm.

    “Thank you, Moxxi. For telling me about them,” the Siren said with a sad smile.

    “Any time, sugar,” Moxxi said, standing up and collecting the two empty glasses. “I’ll leave those sit for a while. Lets the girls know we’re thinkin’ about them.” She walked back around the bar, setting the glasses under the counter, putting the bottle back on the shelf before watching Amara walk out. “Sirens…a sisterhood I never understood, and one I don’t think we’re meant to.”

    Amara sighed as she walked into her quarters, the smell of oil and machinery filling her nose. “Moserah,” she said with a bemused smile, setting the book down and pulling her combat boots off before she climbed in behind her girlfriend, the smaller ex-Vladof soldier pushing back against her.

    “Where’ve you been, Mar?” Moze asked sleepily, threading her fingers through the Sirens, yawning softly.

    “I was studying Maya’s book in Moxxi’s bar,” Amara said, nuzzling her nose against Moze’s neck, hearing the other girl laugh softly. “I was hoping to learn more about them, and Moxxi proved helpful.”

    Moze nodded, laying her head against Amara’s shoulder. “Long as you don’t burn yourself out, Tiger,” she said softly, her eyes drooping closed again.

    “I won’t, ursa. I promise,” Amara said, closing her eyes softly, visions of battles that would never happen with her Siren Sisters at her side filling her dreams.

    Oh my friends, my friends forgive me
    That I live and you are gone
    There's a grief that can't be spoken,
    And there's a pain goes on and on

    Phantom faces at the window,
    Phantom shadows on the floor,
    Empty chairs at empty tables where my friends will meet no more.
    Oh my friends, my friends don't ask me
    What your sacrifice was for
    Empty chairs at empty tables
    Where my friends will sing no more.

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