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Greg The Anti-Viking
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On the left is a mod, on the right is a pre-made psycho...get the picture?
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What now?

Tabi Gweneth found herself unable to answer such a question. Her mind had been struck dumb with the facts lain plainly in front of her. Maria's body lay before her. Broken, bloody, burned, bruised, and completely lifeless. She was still hugging Ivan's leg as if she were clinging tightly to her old stuffed rabbit that she had back when five. Whenever the world got scary, Tabi could always rely on her bunny rabbit to keep her safe, to protect her from the bad stuff lurking out in the closet.

Now, there was no stuffed rabbit. Tabi was nowhere near her old pink bedroom. The monsters had come out of the closet again.

Memories. Memories of days in the St.Paul. Back at the Promenade hanging out in the food court. Memories of telling her friends that they should wear a helmet. Memories of picking up the pieces when they didn't listen. Maria, Etain, Max...They were gone now. She kept trying to think about others but by now the names were a haze to her.

A hand found it's way into her hair. In a way, it helped stem the flow of Tabi's tears. The repeated brushes of Ivan's fingers through her long, tangled hair. She remembered the days when hair was something she focused on. Days spent agonizing over whether she should put highlights in her hair. Tabi had thought that it would make her cuter, maybe get noticed by a cute boy...

She closed her eyes. Maria had chose to take highlights too, in typical Maria fashion it was always something a little different. Electric blue, only someone like Maria would chose to put that in her hair. It had fit her personality, always being someone who could break away from the pack. Be different. Be a little crazy.

The hand had lifted from her head, and moved down to her shoulder. It was trying to push her up. She opened her eyes and squeezed Ivan's legs tighter. No, she couldn't leave Maria now. There was so much that she had wanted to say! She wanted to apologize. She wanted to tell Maria about how hard she had tried. She wanted to tell her about what had happened to her. She wanted to talk about all that had happened on what would only be called Day 4 to everyone else. Tabi couldn't say it though, she just shook her head and made little moans, objecting to being lifted away.

"Come on... come with me."

The arms of Ivan had now looped under her own and were starting to pry her away. She tried desperately to cling on.

No! Maria! Maria I'm sorry! I'm sorry!

Tabi's grip slipped, and she let go. She was on her feet.

Her whole body quivered as if she had been submerged in water. The same hands that had lifted her forwards now guided her towards the door. She turned her head back as far as she could, straining to look back to Maria one last time. She caught a glimpse of blue hair, but that was all that she could see before stumbling, only to have Ivan prevent her from falling to the ground.

That final sight came as a blessing and a curse. At once, she felt as if a weight was now gone, released from her and it felt like a relief. That same relief, however, could not yield the pain that she felt trying to save her from her fate. The pain of knowing that she was not successful. Now it was added to the pains already felt here. The pain of nearly losing Ivan, the pain of what had happened on Day 4. The pain of knowing that it was viewed and judged by millions, the pain of knowing that she was back here.

His arms guided her back and she silently obeyed. What happened next had surprised her. Ivan's other hand moved down her body and stopped at the back of her knees. It was a feeling that caused her to let out a small peep, it had tickled and caused her to bend her knees. Then, she was no longer on the ground. She blinked, staring up into Ivan's face. His cheeks were flushed and beyond his green sunglasses his eyes seemed oddly bleary. She was jostled slightly with every step and she couldn't help but notice his winces. She turned to look at the bandaged arm that had been shot at by Clio's bullets on the day they met on the island. Her puzzled look turned to a frown and her gaze shifted to the floor below her. Her face was becoming hot and she felt the rosy plumes rushing to her cheeks.

He didn't need to do that...

With the same gentleness from before, Ivan had placed her onto the couch. Her face turned up to meet Ivan's hoping for an answer, but none was given to her. Instead, he leaned in towards her, their foreheads touching. It was an odd feeling, his skin touching hers. There were words exchanged. Private words, that Ivan did not say to her aloud. It was as if he was projecting out to her.

I'm here...

He spoke to her aloud this time. She tried to cling onto what it was he said, but missed it. He pulled away and turned to the room that Maria lay. Tabi closed her eyes, she didn't wish to look back now. Any more and it would be too much for her.

A click of the door, caused her to snap them open again. She looked to her lap and saw her hands. There were quivering, clutching each other, they felt cold as if all the heat had been sucked away. Tabi sniffed, trying to retract the moisture that lingered above her lips, to little success. She rubbed her hands, hoping to generate a furnace from within them, but again, success was not to be found.

"We... we did all we could. I'm sorry."

Ivan had returned to her peripheral vision. Tabi's hands broke apart before her. As if he had known what the gesture had meant, Ivan placed his own hands in hers and his forehead glued itself to Tabi's own. The silence that was shared between the two of them returned once more. Tabi's thumbs folded over and massaged the back of Ivan's palm. There were words that she wished to say but found herself unable to do so. She had to say something, acknowledge what had happened and acknowledge all it was that Ivan was doing now.

Her eyes looked to Ivan's lips, causing her to fold her own over and over. She pushed upwards, guiding Ivan's head up until he was now staring at her eye to eye. Hesitation followed for a moment before she moved in and kissed him.

She pulled back and cast her face downwards. A mistake. No, she was not supposed to do that. Here she was kissing Ivan, when seconds before, Maria had died before her eyes. The very action was just...wrong...Why did she do something so selfish?

The tears fell again, silently now, the impact they made on the floor the only sound to be heard between them. Her thumbs kept massaging his hands, small semi-circles that meant nothing and would lead to nothing. She had to speak though, before Ivan could do anything. Before it got worse.

"Ivan I..."

Tabi's voice caught herself, and instead of saying anything she retracted her lips. Ivan had said that he was here for her. Any words she said now would be regretted as much as her kiss.

Her hands tightened around Ivan's and began to shake. She squeezed as hard as she could holding onto Ivan, trying to hold off any more tears.

Don't let go...
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