Embracing the Dark @rubberduckiez
Another Day

"See you tomorrow, Maeve!" the woman running the front desk called out as Maeve walked to the front of the studio. She waved and then pushed the door open, stepping out onto the sidewalk and pulling her scarf higher around her neck. She glanced around, noting the few faeries. Though the cat was out of the bag, so to speak, she still wore her charm, taking comfort in it. She also kept to ignoring the faeries that were always around.

You never knew what human might come up and notice her staring into thin air or worse, talking to nothing.

Sighing, she pulled the strap of her bag higher up on her shoulder. She glanced across the street, seeing the same faery following her. He was never with the others from the Dark or Summer Court. And had been keeping tabs on her since the weekend. She wasn't sure what he was after - if it was just curiosity or something more. But for some reason, she didn't feel nervous about it.

She turned the corner, knowing that he was probably still behind her, yet keeping a distance. Another glance around told her that the other guards weren't there. Frowning slightly, she thought that wasn't right. But at the same time, she still wasn't afraid. Which just confused her even more.

She stopped at a shop and looked down at the display, watching him out of the corner of her eye. He paused, still watching her. She then straightened and went inside, purchasing a bottle of wine. He was still there when she came out. She had a feeling that he knew she could see him. What she didn't understand was why he never approached her. Perhaps on orders from someone. Niall or Ash?

Maeve continued on, not stopping until she had arrived back home, dropping her bag on the floor next to the island and continuing on into the living room. She turned on the stereo and turned up the music before going back to the kitchen and starting on dinner.

She couldn't help as she hummed with the music and started dancing slightly. Once she was finished, she sat at the table and ate, then did the dishes. It was much the same routine that she had kept every night. Food. Music. Dishes. Wine. Sometimes she'd do other chores. Sometimes she would sit on the sofa and stare at the photographs on the wall, getting lost in the memories of dancing with Christopher.

Tonight, she poured another glass and stepped over to the window, looking down at the street. A few faeries from the Dark Court were grouped together at one end of the street. At the other end, there were a few Summer faeries. She didn't know if they were there to protect her or to watch her for the protection of others. Her heart constricted slightly. She hadn't heard from Aislinn. She had sent a couple messages, asking if they could meet and talk, but yet nothing. No response.

Hopefully the Summer King wouldn't keep her own cousin away from her, would he? Or there was always the other option… that Aislinn had willingly turned away from her.

Continuing to scan the street, her eyes fell once again on the faery with dark hair and dark eyes that looked all too familiar. He nodded to her and smiled. Frowning, Maeve turned away, walking back towards the sofa.

Perhaps Niall would know about him.

She glanced at her phone, hesitating. She remembered how she felt just before the altercation with the rowan guard. How she had easily given in to… something. Whatever it was. Her darker side, perhaps. In the light of day, it scared her. How she reacted around him. What if it were to happen again? Was she ready to face that intensity again?

But he was the Dark King and one of the few people who could give her answers she needed. So, sighing, she walked over and messaged him - asking if he could come over to talk. It had only taken a second for him to reply that he was on his way.

Before she could sit on her sofa, there was a knock at the door. That was fast. But then she remembered that faeries had super speed. She walked over and opened it.

"Thanks for coming," she said, stepping back to let him in, quickly looking away from his eyes. Just that split second of looking into them and she already started to feel heat begin building in her body.

"It's not a problem," he replied, an easy smile on his face as he walked in, his shadows following. He stopped just inside the kitchen, turning to look at her.

"Can I get you something to drink?" she asked, playing with the cardigan and pulling in up to cover her chest a bit more - still stuck in her nervous habit.

"Wine is fine," he said, looking at the glass in her hand. She nodded and walked over, pouring him one and then handing it to him.

She then walked over to the sofa and sat. He slowly followed, sitting on the other side and keeping a fair amount of distance from her, also remembering too clearly the other night at the Crow's Nest. The shadows settled along the back of the sofa and the arm, leaning against him.

"So, what did you want to talk about?" he asked. Maeve fidgeted with her wine glass, not looking at him. She took a deep breath and slowly let it out.

"I guess… I just… wanted to learn more about the Dark Court and faeries in general," she said, glancing at him as she took a drink. She figured that was a good enough place to start.

"Well… I only became King a few months ago," he replied. "I wasn't part of it before. I was solitary for a long time and then… I joined the Summer Court under the previous king and served there for a few centuries."

Maeve's eyes widened slightly. Of course, she knew faeries were immortal, but it was still a bit shocking to learn that Niall was far older than he looked. And it only made her wonder how it affected her. She wasn't impervious to injury, she knew that. And so far, had aged normally. But would she be immortal as well? Thousands of questions began running through her mind and for a moment, she completely forgot about what had happened at the Crow's Nest or the real reason why she had called him over.

"Maeve… are you okay?" Niall asked. She looked up, noticing that he had moved closer, a concerned look on his face.

"Sorry just… realized that there's still a lot that I don't know about this world," she said, smiling nervously. "Like… am I immortal? Do I have powers? What can I do? Will the others accept me, knowing that I'm only half-"

Niall's chuckle cut off her string of questions and she looked back over at him, her eyes wide.

"I'm sorry, it's not funny… let me see if I can answer some of those for you. Though in turn, do you think you could answer some of mine?" he asked. Maeve nodded. "No, you're not immortal, unfortunately. Though I suppose that it wouldn't be too difficult to turn you full fey - if that's what you wanted. Yes, you will be accepted among the Dark Court. We have others that are half-fey. As for what you can do, I'm not sure. If I knew who your father was, then perhaps I would have a better idea."

Maeve sighed heavily, looking back at her wine glass.

"Isn't that the question of the hour," she said dryly.

"What did your mother say about him?" Niall asked. Maeve furrowed her brow, thinking back over all the times he had come up. It was difficult to piece it all together as her mother could never seem to talk about things in chronological order. Even when she wasn't drunk, she was scattered.

"She told me that she was out with her friends one night at a bar… it was an adventure to her - she wasn't really a party girl back then. I didn't believe her until my Aunt Elena confirmed it. And then… she met him. All I got out of her was that he was handsome and… intoxicating," Maeve said. She saw Niall frown out of the corner of her eye. "She was involved with him for a week… and then he left. And a few more weeks later, she found out she was pregnant with me…"

"How did she know what he was?" Niall asked. Maeve took another drink of her wine.

"He came back - after I was born. Told her that he was a faery and part of the Dark Court. Gave her that charm and told her that I was to wear it always," Maeve said. "To be honest… It's insane that anyone would believe him, though considering my mom..."

"What exactly was your mother like?" Niall pushed. Maeve looked over at him, her brow furrowed.

"Well… she's… different. Been sick as long as I can remember. She's had a few diagnoses. Bipolar. Borderline Personality Disorder. Been on different meds. They would help for a bit, but then they didn't," she said. "It was better when she wasn't drinking." Niall got an odd feeling at the back of his mind as his suspicions only grew.

"She was… up and down. Sometimes she would be just fine, though a bit… off in some way. She would have a good week, and then the next thing I know, she's off trolling around bar after bar… looking for him," Maeve said. "Aunt Elena swears that she wasn't that bad before, but… honestly, it probably just hadn't started showing yet…"

Niall's frown deepened as he looked down at his glass, obviously thinking over something.

"What is it?" Maeve asked. "You look like you know something." Niall sighed.

"Well… if it's true that your mother's condition didn't start until after she met your father, then I have a good idea what he is," he said. "It's called Gancanagh. They are addictive to humans and in turn can be addicted to them - it's hard to stay away. Usually the human either dies once they are from them or they are driven mad."

Maeve sat back on the sofa, her eyes wide as all the breath left her. Everything suddenly made sense now. Why her mother was the way that she was. What her aunt had told her was right - her mother was perfectly normal, albeit a big dreamer, before she met her father. But that meant if her father was Gancanagh, then so was she. Her eyes drifted to the photographs on the wall of her and Christopher.

Her heart constricted slightly. She already felt guilty about the accident but knowing this. It made her second guess everything about their relationship. Had he only loved her because she had made him that way?

"Are there a lot of Gancanagh in the Dark Court?" she asked, forcing herself to look at Niall and not think about Christopher right now.

"Not at the moment, no," he said. "I'm… currently the only one." Maeve choked on her drink, sputtering at the confession. "There were more… before. Years before."

She nodded as he patted her back.

"Sorry… just for a moment I thought you were about to tell me that you were my dad," she wheezed. Niall looked shocked for a moment and then chuckled, shaking his head.

"No, it's not me. Obviously. I have no offspring. Haven't touched a human in... it's been awhile," he said, though it was followed by a grimace. Maeve made a note to ask about that, but later. It had nothing to do with what they were talking about now. "But I believe this will help. Again, there aren't so many. At least that I know of."

"That's good," Maeve said, turning to look back at her wine glass.

"How… how bad was it? Growing up with her?" he asked softly. Maeve looked over at him, surprised by the worry in his eyes. Part of her was touched that he cared, but she wasn't sure if it was because he considered her part of his court or if it was something else.

"Sometimes it wasn't bad. She could be a lot of fun… she wanted to be an actress and sometimes she would take me backstage at a local theater. Show me all the costumes and props… introduce me to the actors," Maeve said, a soft smile on her face. It then slid off. "But then something would remind her of him, and she'd spent the next few weeks obsessing over it… She'd go back and forth between never leaving her room because she was depressed or out roaming the bars trying to find him…"

Niall didn't respond, just sat waiting. His shadows leaned closer to her. The more she looked into his eyes, the more she wanted to tell him everything.

"I was angry for a long time," she found herself saying. "I was jealous of everyone. They got normal lives. Had normal moms who did all the things moms are supposed to do… throw birthday parties. Make cookies. Cook dinner. Listen to them. My mom spent most of her time either trying to find him or talking about him. I often felt like she cared about my father more than me."

"That's an unfortunate side effect," Niall said softly. "It wasn't your fault. Or hers, really. I'm sure she loved you in her own way." Maeve laughed darkly, her eyes pricking with tears.

"I'm sure she did, but only because I was half him," she replied. "I tried so hard to keep things together. To make sure we had food. That she was eating. Tried to get her to stop drinking. And… for a while it would work. She would be almost normal, but then…" Maeve sighed heavily. "She put in more effort when I was a kid, but by the time I was old enough to look after myself, she would disappear for a couple days at a time and then I'd get a call from some bar owner and have to drag her drunk ass home.

"And sometimes I'd go stay with Ash and Aunt Elena while she did some AA program or whatever - swearing this time it would be different. There were times when sometimes I wished she wouldn't come home, and I could stay with them."

"Why didn't they take you in full time?" Niall asked. While his voice and face remained calm, Maeve could sense the underlying anger in his eyes. She looked away again, a bit overcome by the intensity of it.

"Aunt Elena wanted to, but… I told her everything was fine. I even lied to the social workers when they came. I didn't want anyone to know how bad it really was," she said dully. "Even as a kid, I still had my pride. And well… she is my mother. Despite everything… I still love her."

"Where is she now?" Niall asked.

"Treatment center the next town over," she replied before taking another drink. "She doesn't know that I'm back in Huntsdale. Figured if she didn't know where I was, she would stay put. And it would buy me some time to figure out what to do when she gets out."

"Are you considering bringing her here?" he asked. Maeve frowned. She hadn't gotten around to thinking about that just yet. It always left her overwhelmed.

"I don't want her here with me, but I'm not sure I have too much of a choice," she said. "It's that or… put her in some sort of home - at this point she's completely incapable of taking care of herself. But I'm not sure if I can afford that…"

"If you decide that's the best course, I can help you," Niall said. Maeve looked at him, her eyes wide.

"I don't need your money," she said automatically. He sighed and looked down at his glass. "This is my problem, not yours. I barely know you."

"You're under the protection of my court - and I always take care of my own," he said firmly, looking back at her. "If you need help financially or otherwise with taking care of your mother, I'm here to provide it."

"You do this for everyone in the Dark Court?" she asked. He smiled slightly.

"I'll admit, it's not often someone needs something like this, but… yes, I do whatever I can to help them," he said. "I'm responsible for their survival. For yours, now." Maeve nodded, looking away as she took another drink.

"I'll think about it," she said. She suddenly felt a jolt of electricity run through her body and looked down, seeing that he had placed his hand comfortingly on her knee.

"Don't let your pride get in the way," he said softly. She slowly looked up, meeting his eyes. For a moment, she couldn't speak as she stared at him, the warmth from his hand quickly spreading throughout her body. Her finger twitched slightly as though her hands had developed minds of their own and were begging to touch him.

But then he pulled his hand back, looking down at his glass, almost as if he were afraid to touch her longer than necessary. Maeve turned to look down at her own, her thoughts whirling through her head.

"So… why dance?" he asked.

"Oh, well… I guess… it was just something I always loved doing. And well, it was a good escape from everything going on," Maeve said. "I was always dancing around the house. And one day my Aunt Elena enrolled me in a dance class." She took another, larger drink of her wine. "And it turned out that I was actually pretty good."

"You were… beautiful at the studio that day," he said softly. Maeve looked at him, nearly forgetting about that. The day she had willingly showed him her scars, though he hadn't known at the time.

"You should have seen me before the accident," she said ruefully, though winced as her eyes drifted over to the photographs. "My knee keeps me from doing most of the technique that I used to."

"Your knee?" he asked, turning to her.

Maeve nodded as she put her glass down and then stretched out her left leg, resting her foot on the coffee table. She pulled up her sweatpants, revealing a large, nasty-looking scar on her knee.

"Pretty much shattered the whole thing," she said, staring at it. "Took a couple surgeries and a lot of physical therapy just to walk normally again. I can still dance… a bit. But not like before. They weren't even sure if I'd be able to walk without a cane. I'm okay most of the time, but sometimes it acts up."

She looked up at him, finding Niall staring down at her leg intently. Without speaking, he reached out with both hands, gently placing them on her leg above and below her knee cap. Part of her wondered what he was doing, but it was hard to focus on that thought as warmth began spreading up and down her leg.

She gasped slightly as it intensified. And then shifted. Her eyes widened as her body came alive in a way she had never experienced before. She gripped the sofa as her eyes closed and wave after wave of pleasure coursed through her. Her breathing became heavy and she felt as though she had far too many clothes on, though resisted the urge to start pulling them off.

Niall then let go of her and she looked up at him, wanting nothing more than to throw herself on him right then and now.

"I'm sorry… I should have warned-"

She didn't give him a chance to finish as she launched across the sofa, her lips crashing into his. It only took a second for him to respond, kissing her back with just as much fervor as his hands came to rest on her waist, pulling her closer. Maeve was now straddling him, pushing her hips against his, chasing the high that she had just experienced.

It was almost as though someone else had taken over her body.

His hands were suddenly everywhere. Running up and down her sides, then one tangling in her long hair as the other slid under her shirt, gently caressing her scars. A soft moan reverberated through his chest, making the palms of her hands tingle.

Maeve pulled back, the both of them breathing heavily as she quickly pulled her cardigan off and then began kissing him again, running her fingers through his hair. He tried to push her back, his eyes wide as he stared into hers.

"Maeve-"

She shook her head and cut him off with another kiss. He pushed her back, a bit stronger this time and firmly held her away from him.

"Maeve, stop," he said, though he looked as though he were barely keeping control of himself. From the bulge she felt underneath her, he didn't have that much more control than she did.

They stared at each other a moment and then Maeve realized what was happening. She quickly crawled off Niall and reached for her cardigan, pulling it on.

"I'm sorry… I don't know what came over me," she said, her gaze falling on the photographs again. A deep guilt began to wash over her.

"It's okay… I should have told you before just doing it," he said, trying to catch his breath.

"Told me what?" Maeve asked, reaching for her glass as her cheeks turned brighter red.

"Sometimes when we heal… it can be very… pleasurable," he said. Maeve's eyes widened as she turned to look at him. She wasn't sure what to focus on with that statement.

"Heal?" she asked. He nodded and looked down at her knee. She followed his gaze and lifted her leg, stretching it out and then bending it. The usual tightness and ache weren't there. Quickly, she put down her glass and stood, walking to the center of the living room. Carefully, she positioned her feet and then dipped down into a shallow plie. When there was no pain or stiffness, she went down into a deeper plie, something she hadn't been able to do since before the accident. She then looked over at Niall, a smile spreading across her face.

"I… I can… this is…" she looked back down at her leg and then back up at him. "Can you… can you heal scars?"

Niall stood and slowly walked towards her, but stopped a few feet away, a sad look on his face. He shook his head.

"Oh, well… that's okay," Maeve said. It wasn't completely, but still. She could dance again. Like before. The europhia washing over her was dizzying. Suddenly all Maeve could think about was getting into the studio. Pushing herself in ways she thought would forever be out of her reach after the accident.

"I should… I should go," Niall said, reminding her that he was still there. Maeve looked up at him, suddenly feeling embarrassed again.

"Yea, sure," she said, starting towards the front door. She opened it for him. Niall walked through, his shadows lingering to touch her hair. He then stopped and looked over at her.

"Until next time," he said. Maeve nodded and shut the door as he walked off. It wasn't until she was alone that she realized she never asked about the lone faery on the street.

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