Embracing the Dark @rubberduckiez
Conflicted Feelings

Maeve fidgeted slightly as she waited for the bank worker to return from the printer. She didn’t have any problems asking to see her mother’s bank records thanks to the power of attorney, but she was nervous about what she would find.

Would his name be there? Granted, even if there was a name listed, it’s not like it would be his actual name. There was always a chance that it was just some cover that he used. Sighing, she glanced at her watch again, noting that she still had an hour and a half until her next class.

“Here we are, Ms. Byrne.”

She sat up as the man returned to his desk, a stack of papers in his hands. It was rather thick, though she supposed that she should have expected that. She had asked to go back since she was born. That was 23 years of bank records. Before, she had only asked how much was in the account so she knew how much of her mother’s current treatment she would have to pay for.

He sat them on the desk and looked up at her.

“And if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be back with the others,” he said, already starting to move away.

“Others? There’s more?” she asked, frowning.

“Yes, from the savings account set up in your mother's name,” he replied. Maeve shook her head.

“My mother doesn’t have a saving account,” she said. He studied her a moment and then looked back at the computer screen.

“Says here that there was a savings account opened roughly 23 years ago. No withdrawals made, only deposits once a month,” he said. “Quite a substantial amount in there, actually.”

“Why wasn’t I told about this when I contacted you earlier about all her assets?” Maeve asked, starting to feel a bit angry. The man sighed and offered a sheepish smile.

“That was our mistake,” he said. “The name on the account was misspelled and I didn’t realize it was connected until now. If you’ll excuse me…” He then quickly walked off.

Maeve shook her head, slightly confused. Though she supposed that would explain why her mother had never used the money. Knowing her, she had forgotten how to access it and then just gave up. But then how would she had known that the deposits stopped when Maeve was 18? That was another mystery she would have to wait to find out, apparently. She was still not allowed to visit her mother.

The man then returned with another stack of papers, this one noticeably thinner. Maeve managed to get all of them into her bag and then thanked him before leaving. She made her way to a cafe near the dance studio and ordered a coffee. Once settled at a table, she pulled out the smaller stack and stared down at it. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head.

There was over a million dollars in the account.

“What the fuck,” she murmured, her eyes roving down the page, taking in the large deposits made each month on the same day - her birthday. This could have paid for all her school. All of her mother’s treatments.

Maeve closed her eyes, shaking in anger for a moment. She then pushed it aside and opened her eyes. There was no use in getting angry and trying to place blame at the moment. But at least now she knew that she wouldn’t have to use Niall’s money for her mother. With this money, she could set her up in an assisted living facility for the rest of her life.

She looked to see where the deposits originated. It was a company name. Dark Enterprises. Maeve snorted to herself. Whoever he was, her father was certainly not original in coming up with company names. She noted the address listed there, and made a point to try and search it up on the internet when she got a chance. Maybe ask Niall if he had heard of it.

Her heart skipped a beat as she thought of Niall. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to face him just yet. Their last meeting over the weekend had left her confused and bothered. Maybe she would talk to Seth first. She then shook her head, refocusing on the task at hand as she looked back down at the company name.

It was most likely some front, but she felt like she was closer to finding out who he was. She then looked at her watch, checking the time. Sighing, she took a sip of her coffee and looked down at the records as she reached for her cell phone.

She may not be able to see or talk to her mother, but perhaps the center would be able to go through her things.

~~~

“So, what’s this about?” Seth asked, settling on the sofa in Maeve’s apartment later that day. She handed him a mug of tea and then pointed to the stack of papers and the box on the coffee table.

She had called the center and they were able to find a box of birthday cards with her mother’s things. Every year he had sent a birthday card to her, letting her know that he had made a deposit. Marianne had hidden them away from her all these years. Maeve was looking forward to the explanation for that.

“He sent me money,” she said. “My father. It was in some sort of hidden savings account that mom must have forgotten how to access or something. She never touched it.”

Seth sat forward and picked up the top sheet, his eyes widening as he saw the amount.

“Holy shit,” he said. Maeve nodded.

“I tried looking up the company, but I couldn’t find anything,” she said. She then leaned over and picked up the top card from the box and handed it to him. Maeve had gone through all of them, each card with the same inscription.

Happy Birthday, my dear Maeve

Love, Your Father

Tell your mother that your provisions are in the account.

Her mother hadn’t saved any of the envelopes, so Maeve didn’t have a name or address. Just clear handwriting. And the name Dark Enterprises.

“Do you think you could look into the company for me?” she asked. Seth looked over at her. “You know, from your side of things?” He sighed and looked back down at the paper.

“Niall would be better,” he commented. “He does know everything about all the Dark Court’s financials.” Maeve shifted on the sofa. “Why don’t you ask him?”

“Well, things are… complicated,” she said, staring down at her mug. Seth’s eyebrows rose slightly as he continued to stare at her, but she wouldn’t meet his eyes.

“Care to elaborate?” Seth asked. Maeve finally looked up at him and sighed, shaking her head.

“If I understood enough to elaborate, I would,” she confessed. “I don’t really understand just what is going on. Whenever he’s near, it’s like I’m… drawn to him. And sometimes it feels like someone - something - else takes over.”

Maeve looked towards the photographs.

“Whatever it is, I’m not sure that I’m ready for something that… intense… just yet,” she added softly. Seth followed her gaze and then looked back at her.

“For what it’s worth, he’s not a bad guy. Don’t let the whole Dark King thing scare you off,” he replied. Maeve looked over at him.

“That’s the thing… I’m not afraid of him . I’m afraid of… this,” she said, gripping her mug. “The only serious relationship I’ve ever been in was with Christopher and, look how that ended up.”

“I doubt that Niall can be killed in a car accident,” Seth said. “He’s a monarch. Pretty strong, if you didn’t know.” Maeve groaned.

“That’s not what I’m talking about. I mean, what if it ends just as badly?” she asked. “And yea, there is the whole Dark Court thing. I mean, do I want to get involved with that? I haven’t even been to the Dark Court. What if… what if I don’t fit in? Or I can’t… I can’t accept some of the things that they do?”

Seth was silent a few moments, thinking over his words. He then turned to Maeve.

“I get it. The Dark Court isn’t for everyone. There are some things that his kind get up to that are… well, that even I don’t really approve of. But Niall - he’s got a good heart,” Seth said. “I think it could be a good thing - you and him.”

“But what about everything that happened with Leslie?” Maeve asked. Seth’s eyes widened.

“He told you about that?” he asked. Maeve shrugged.

“Ash brought it up. Warned me about him and the Dark Court. Said it was dangerous,” she said, staring down at her mug again. She noticed Seth’s wince of pain out of the corner of her eye at the mention of her cousin.

“I get why she would. She was upset that she didn’t see what was going with all of that until it was too late,” Seth said quickly. “But this is different. You aren’t being manipulated. You’re going into this with your eyes open. And, there are a lot of things that are different with this. You have a choice.”

“Then why do I sometimes feel like I don’t have one?” she asked softly. “I mean… this pull… It’s like something wants me to be with him. And I can’t figure out if it’s me or if it’s some sort of cosmic entity or something.” Seth chuckled softly, causing her to look over at him.

“Sorry, this isn’t funny,” he said. “I know it’s confusing and at times scary, but sometimes you just have to go on a bit of faith.” Maeve stared at him a few moments. “At the very least, get to know him better. Don’t let your fear push him away.”

“I’ll… I’ll think about it,” she replied. Seth smiled and reached over, squeezing her shoulder.

“Good. In the meantime, I suppose I can take this to Niall and see if he could look into it for you,” he said, starting to stand. Maeve jumped to her feet as well, while Seth bent over and picked up the papers. “Decide what you’re going to do with the money?”

“Suppose some of it will go towards taking care of Mom. The rest… god, I don’t know,” she said.

Truth be told, she was slightly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of money. She had grown up living paycheck to paycheck. Of course, she did well for herself when she was dancing, but that was still nothing close to this.

“Don’t spend it all in one place,” Seth quipped. Maeve couldn’t help as a small smile flinted across her face. “Maybe thinking about investing some of it. I know that’s what Niall’s done to make sure the Dark Court’s accounts aren’t depleted. What the previous Dark King did before him.”

He stopped as he was walking to the door and looked over at Maeve. She nodded.

“Yea, I’ll think about it,” she said.

“Take care. See you later, Maeve,” Seth said.

“See you.”

~~~

Niall was back in his private sitting room when Seth walked in, carrying a stack of papers. He paused in reading and put the book down, curious as to what Seth had brought in. He dropped them down on a table and sighed.

“What’s this?” Niall asked, standing from his chair and walking over.

“This is a secret savings account that Maeve’s mother had. Or, well, her father opened it. For some reason her mother couldn't access it,” Seth said. “He sent money every year on her birthday. It’s never been touched. Over a million dollars in there.”

Niall looked down at the papers, his eyes widening slightly as he took in the amount. Jesus, this would have more than taken care of Maeve and her mother for the rest of their lives. It also added an extra level to the mystery of who her father was. Not many had access to funds like this.

He bent down and picked up the top page, looking over it.

“She said that she couldn’t find anything about the company it supposedly came from. Asked if we could check into it,” Seth said.

“Dark Enterprises. That’s original,” Niall commented as he thought over who might be able to set up such a thing. It wasn’t any of the current front companies that they used. And Irial had handed over all of the financial and company records to him when he took over the court.

But perhaps there was a chance Irial knew more than what he had told Niall. Sighing, he figured it was likely the best lead he could come up with.

“So… exactly how are you feeling about Maeve?” Seth asked, pulling Niall from his thoughts about Irial. Niall looked over at him, his eyes wide.

“What do you mean?” he asked, though from the look on Seth’s face, he knew that he was playing dumb. “Did Maeve say something to you?”

“Said that she’s confused. And while she’s not afraid of you, she’s afraid of whatever is going on between you two,” he said. Niall nodded, looking back down at the papers.

“I felt as much from her. And I understand. I’m a bit nervous about it to be honest,” he said, frowning slightly. “It’s… it’s different from Irial and Leslie. And… when we’re together… I feel… something.”

“You know, some people would call that falling in love,” Seth joked. Niall sighed again.

“It’s not that, it’s… something happens when I’m with her. When I kiss her, I can feel… it’s like something is happening. Changing. I feel… stronger. More complete, I suppose,” Niall said. “I’m not exactly sure how to explain it. But I think she feels it too.” Seth’s eyebrows rose.

“Maybe this just means that you two are meant to be together,” he offered. Niall frowned as he looked over at his best friend. Now was not the time for trivial platitudes. “I’m being serious. Maybe it’s the world’s or fate’s way of pulling you guys together.”

“But why?” Niall asked.

“Because you’re good together? I don’t know. If I understood what attracts us to people I wouldn’t be standing here with you right now, would I?” Seth answered. Niall could see the pain in his eyes, knowing that he still yearned to be with Aislinn.

But that was another whole mess of complicated that the Dark King didn’t want to dive into at the moment.

“I think I need to speak with Irial,” Niall said, redirecting the conversation.

“Why?” Seth asked.

“First of all, he might know something about this account. Secondly, he might know something more about whatever it is with me and Maeve,” Niall said. “And… I just get a feeling that a lot of answers are with him, though I don’t know why.”

“He was Dark King for a long time before you. He might know who her father was,” Seth said. “Though, I mean, he seems to have gone out of his way to cover up whatever links connected him to her.”

“To protect her,” Niall added. “Though I’m not completely sure what from. The Dark Court? Faery in general? And from this… it’s obvious that he must have been following… watching.”

“Probably wanted to make sure she was taken care of,” Seth said.

“But why didn’t he do anything when he saw that her mother wasn’t using the money?” Niall asked. “Or step in otherwise? Surely he must have seen what was going on.”

“Perhaps he did, but in ways that weren’t obvious,” Seth countered. “I mean, we won’t know for sure until we find him and ask him ourselves.” Niall nodded, putting the paper down and then reaching into his pocket for his phone.

“Either way, I feel Irial might know more,” he said, already dialing him. “At least I hope so.”

“For what it’s worth, I think that you and Maeve… it could be a good thing,” Seth said. Niall paused before pressing call, looking over at him. “Seriously. Just… give it a shot.”

“It’s not me that’s stopping it,” Niall replied, a hint of sadness in his voice. “But she’s already been through a lot. I don’t want to push her to move faster than she’s willing to.” Seth nodded and offered him an encouraging smile.

“I get a feeling that it’s going to work out,” he said. Niall returned it and nodded.

“Let’s hope.”

~~~

Niall glanced around him as he walked through the abandoned street. He wasn’t sure why Irial wanted to meet him here, but didn’t really question it. It was best not to try and think too hard about why Irial did what he did.

He then turned a corner and stopped, seeing Irial leaning against a wall, smoking. The former Dark King looked over and smiled at Niall, pushing off from the wall.

“So what is so urgent that you had to see me right now?” Irial asked lightly as he walked over to him, taking in his shadows as they hovered around Niall.

“Maeve Byrne, the Summer Queen's cousin… what do you know about her?” Niall asked. Irial chuckled.

“Should be more specific. I know that you’re enthralled with her. She used to be a dancer,” Irial said.

“Do you know who her father is?” Niall then asked. Irial smiled.

“I do,” he said.

Niall felt the breath leave him as his eyes widened. He hadn’t been completely expecting that Irial would know. Perhaps have an idea, yes. Point him in the right direction to look. Sure. But it stunned him that Irial would actually know.

Of course, then he realized how Irial might know. It was a possibility that they had all considered, of course.

“Is she your daughter?” Niall asked. Irial didn’t reply, just took a drag of his cigarette and watched as the smoke swirled up into the air as he exhaled.

“How do you feel when you’re with her, Niall?” he asked.

“Stop playing games and answer the question,” Niall nearly growled. Irial looked over at him, his expression contemplative. What game was he playing now?

“Do you feel different when you’re with her?” Irial asked, taking a step towards him. “Stronger, perhaps?”

“I… what?” Niall asked. Nevermind that this was the very thing that he had planned to ask Irial about. But how did he know? Irial grinned as he dropped the cigarette to the ground.

“I think… she would make the Dark Court much, much stronger,” he commented.

“What are you talking about?” Niall shouted.

“Yes, she would make it stronger,” Irial continued. “But you’ll need to hurry if you want to claim her.”

Niall’s mouth dropped open. Claim her? What the hell was going on?

“You see… she’s currently being courted by the Summer Court,” Irial said. “And we both know that Keenan doesn’t play fair.”

Niall stared at him a moment before the sudden urge to protect Maeve came over him. It was like a wave crashing into him and he nearly turned and ran off. But not before he got more answers.

“What’s going on, Irial?” he asked. Irial chuckled again.

“Go rescue your fair maiden and perhaps you’ll find out,” Irial replied. Niall started to take a step towards him, but stopped. The desire to go find Maeve, to make sure that she was okay overtook him.

Without another world, he turned and ran off into the night.

Irial stood and watched him go, an amused smile on his face as he reached for his pack and pulled another cigarette out.

“Go rescue your damsel in distress…”

1. Going Home 4116 0 0 2. To Be Safe 3573 0 0 3. To Tell the Truth 3007 0 0 4. Keeping Secrets 3341 0 0 5. Misunderstandings 3373 0 0 6. The Truth Shall Set You Free 3343 0 0 7. Another Day 3958 0 0 8. Dark Confusion 3579 0 0 9. Confronting the Past 3735 0 0 10. The Truth About Love 3309 0 0 11. Conflicted Feelings 3417 0 0 12. Wooing Maeve 3239 0 0 13. Finding Acceptance 3450 0 0 14. Daddy Dearest 3203 0 0 15. To Have a Choice 3144 0 0 16. Letting Go & Moving Forward 3208 0 0 17. Letting Go and Moving Forward 3256 0 0 18. To Become a Queen 3208 0 0