It had been a while since his birthday party, when he’d seen Daryn last but he hadn’t stopped worrying about her. He was understandably shaken by her words but he’d met with Fitz, it didn’t seem to him like anyone was anything but worried about her. He’d been through his own depression in the last week and he was only now starting to feel a little bit better.
When he came to her door he wrapped on it lightly and waited for her to answer. Did he even know what he was going to say? He supposed it didn’t matter since she could easily hear his thoughts.
These days, Daryn made a point to avoid people. After her failed attempt to re-connect with the Faction, only to be turned away by the current leader, Daryn didn’t make much effort to restore that part of her life. While Fitz had visited her once, she got the message loud and clear that she needed to just move on with her life. That was her daily struggle.
The unexpected visit from Ian had given Daryn a tiny flicker of hope. Her life in the Faction was over, her career as a doctor was gone, but maybe, just maybe, she could have a piece of her personal life back. Or at least find some closure about that loss. That was what had inspired her to leave her apartment at all after the storm.
Daryn had refused to evacuate, and no one pushed the issue much. There had been some significant damage to the building, but for her own place it was really just some broken windows. She’d gone out to help with some of the larger clean up, using her telekinesis to lift and move the largest pieces of debris that she could manage. Then she’d done some covert healing of minor injuries before retreating to her home once more. Her own health was poor, at best, and so her energy was now drained with the effort she’d used to help others. As usual, Daryn was still sacrificing herself for others, but now she resented it.
She was curled up on her couch, exhausted and in pain from taking on the others’ injuries. Hearing the knock at the door, she knew she didn’t have the strength to move to answer it, so she used her telekinesis to pull open the door just slightly. She knew she was going to have one hell of a headache from this all later. “Come in,” she mumbled quietly.
Closing the door behind him, Ehren looked around the apartment. He’d suffered some similar damages but the whole place felt like the set of some tragedy. The things that had happened to Daryn were unfair and Ehren felt somewhat responsible. If he’d just gotten to her to let her know what was going to happen, none of this would have happened to her. “Hey.” He said softly as he moved through the room to where she lay on the couch. “Are you alright?”
Of course he knew the answer was a complicated one but it was safe to say that the resounding response would be ‘no.’ He sat down next to her looking for any sign of her condition. She looked like she was in pain and Ehren wished he his ability was something that could help ease her but Ehren wasn’t a doctor and neither was Daryn anymore.
Pushing herself up to sit, Daryn winced. Everything hurt, but there were no visible injuries. She just decided that the best answer would be no answer at all.
She was surprised that Ehren was here at all. After the last time they spoke, she was sure he thought she was completely nuts. Maybe he was right. “How are you?”
He nodded his head. “I’m good, better now than I have been.” He wasn’t trying to but the look of worry in his eyes was evident. I had a vision after the storm, a bad one. he admitted to her, eyes searching her for some shell of the woman she once was.
“I wish I could have helped with the rebuild but I wouldn’t have been much help.” If he’d had control over his ability he might have been able to predict it was coming and found shelter somewhere he wasn’t surrounded by the enemy.
Taking a deep breath, Daryn tucked her legs beneath her and just stared at Ehren. She had tried to help him for a long time. She had been patient with him, and offered advice. She had tried to warn him about things, but it felt like he ignored it all. Here they were again, going through it all over again. She had to bite her tongue not to say what was really on her mind. And luckily he couldn’t hear her thoughts.
She knew what he wanted to hear, so she just got on with it. “What was your vision about? And you could have helped. Lots of people were just cleaning up, it doesn’t require any special ability. Just some time and effort.”
Ehren could hear the frustration in her voice, and his heart jumped as she said the word ‘vision.’ With a quit glance up to where the cameras were placed he looked back down at her. A sigh came heavy from his lungs. “I should have helped, you’re right. I’m sorry and there’s no excuse for it.” His voice was low and calm. He could see she what was happening to her, see the way her thought patterns were forming. He knew because it happened to him.
Why was he really there? Her. It didn’t seem right to put the focus on himself when she was the one who was obviously hurting. “Daryn, what can I do for you? Do you want to talk about whatever’s going on?” There wasn’t a hint of anger or frustration in his voice, only the worry he felt.
Noticing the upward glance she sighed and rubbed at the back of her stiff neck. “Fitz and one of the others took care of the cameras and audio equipment weeks ago.” So much for clear communication among Faction members. But that wasn’t her problem any longer, they didn’t want her anymore and she wasn’t going to fight it.
A dark brow arched at his words. Despite his effort, she knew his thoughts would drift back to himself sooner rather than later. If he cared about her at all, it was only in relation to what she could give to him. “There isn’t much to talk about, everything that I devoted my life to is gone. I’ll get over it, that’s what everyone wants. But, we both know that’s not why you came. So maybe I should be asking you what I can do for you.”
What could she do for him? Ehren didn’t want anything from her for himself, he was worried about her and he felt angry that she’d assume he was that selfish. “I’m not here for myself, Daryn, I’m here because I thought we were friends and when my friends are hurting it hurts me too.” Maybe that wasn’t the best way to phrase it, he really only came because he was worried about her.
“What do you want me to say Daryn? You say everything is gone but people still care about you and want to help you. I actually want to help you.” And he wasn’t going to take no for an answer because all that was going to do was let her sink into this hole she’d been keeping herself in.
Daryn just stared at Ehren. She had much to say in response, about how her so-called friends had done nothing to help her for almost two years, after she sacrificed herself to protect them. But what was the point if even bringing that up, it was always met with a reason, or an excuse. Still she found it hard to bite her tongue, his anger no match for her own.
“If I hadn’t been your doctor, would you be here now? Be honest.” Ignoring the pain that shot through her body, Daryn forced herself to stand and began to pace like a caged animal. “If you are my friend, you wouldn’t be so worried about being seen with me in public, you wouldn’t hide behind closed doors. The people who claim to care won’t be caught dead near me, is that a friend? Maybe I just never had the definition of a friend right. But I know I took care of my friends, I stood up for them, I fought for them, and parts of me died for them. What have they done for me? How are you going to help me, here and now?”
His brows knit, and things were beginning to fall into place. Little pieces of the puzzle coming together. “If I hadn’t been your patient, would you have been mine? There’s no way I can possibly answer that Daryn because it happened and I’m happy it did. You’ve helped me in so many ways and I’m forever thankful, but now my turn to do what I can for you. I don’t know what that is but we’ll figure it out, nothing is lost.”
He sighed as he tried to not match the level of anger that was bubbling up to the surface of Daryn. “I’m not ashamed to be seen with you.” He said more quietly this time. “Who said they couldn’t been seen with you?”
Daryn paused her pacing to lean against a chair, nearly doubled over in pain. Closing her eyes tight, she took a deep breath and straightened herself once more. “Nothing is lost? You have no idea how much I have lost. Not just ‘friends,’ the family I thought I had, my career, my purpose, my child. All of that after coming to this god forsaken place. So please don’t tell me that nothing is lost.”
Slowly, she moved to the window that had been broken in the storm. She’d cleaned up the glass but didn’t bother to try to have anyone repair it. Far more important things were left broken without even a fix in sight.
Answering his question, she sighed. “Diane. And any other person too afraid to be caught to even acknowledge me.” Daryn has once been close friends with the current Faction leader, they’d both been original founding members. Now they were hardly even close enough to be considered strangers. But only Daryn seemed bothered by it. “You’ve thought it yourself, being seen around me is a risk of being found out.”
He stood and walked over to where she stood, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. “I don’t care what government employees think or, or what the faction thinks.” The whole point of the faction was to help the people on the island, especially those of their own organization.
He stood up straight now, bringing his arms down to his sides. “Look, I’m not asking you to forget anything that happened. What happens to us is what makes us who we are.” He took a step toward her and placed his hand on her shoulder. “It’s going to hurt, probably forever, but in time you can learn to channel that into something that’s good for you.” He insisted, because he wanted it to be true.
Daryn watched Ehren as he spoke, words she would have said if she was in his shoes. But it all sounded terribly trite in the moment. She flinched when he touched her shoulder, a new found instinct after being imprisoned for so long. Daryn wasn’t sure if she’d ever be able to welcome anyone’s touch again, and the idea was very lonely.
“So what do you want me to do? Like Fitz says, just move on, get a job doing something else, pretend that I’m fine? That will make everyone else more comfortable, wouldn’t it?”
Noting the way she flinched, he put his arm back down, wanting to keep her as comfortable as possible. “I don’t want you to pretend that you’re fine. You’re hurting and the only way to get passed that is to feel it. I just need you to know that you can reach out to me for anything.”
He ran fingers through his hair, feeling the fight Daryn was pushing at him. “I mean anything. There’s nothing too small, I promise.” He had to think of something, something she’d liked, something that would let her focus on something other than her pain.
“How do you feel about going to the art center for a bit?” He offered though with how stubborn she was being currently, he doubted the answer was yes.
Sighing, Daryn closed her eyes again and tried to pull it together. She didn’t want to take her anger out on him, or anyone else, but holding it inside was killing her. She knew no one would understand and that only fueled more anger and frustrating. Taking a deep breath, she tried to stuff it all back down.
At his suggestion, she looked away and shook her head no. She had nothing against the art center, or even just leaving her place, that wasn’t what was stopping her. She mumbled quietly, ashamed of her own words. “I don’t think I can make it that far right now.” She’d over exerted herself using her abilities, and her body was frail even before that. She never really healed fully from her injuries in captivity, and she sure as hell wasn’t taking good enough care of herself to recover the usual way.
It was a start at least. Now that she wasn’t yelling at him he could get to the root of the problem. Putting his hands up to show her that he didn’t mean to harm her, he placed one gentle on her back and the other on her arm to guide her back to the couch. “You need to rest. Let me get you some water.” He said to her as he made his way into her kitchen to find a glass. He filled it up from the sink and sat down next to her to hand her the water.
“You should go see a doctor.” Which seemed silly to say because she was a doctor. It wasn’t as if she could heal herself.
Even with the warning, she still jumped at the touch. Letting him guide her, she dropped down to sit, curling into the fetal position. Her kitchen was bare, other than water from the sink she had no food or drink in her house.
She took the offered water carefully and took a sip. Hearing his thoughts, she smirked. “I used to be able to. Heal myself, I mean. But after everything they did to me, I think that part of me doesn’t work anymore.”
He looked down at her, noticing her natural reaction of curling into herself. Ehren was like that sometimes, or he used to be, before she helped him. Now he could handle it better. “You don’t know that.” He offered, wishing there was more that he could do. But he could, he could help in the best way he could to nurture her back to some semblance of health.
“When was the last time you ate anything?” He asked her, since it didn’t seem like there was much here and she didn’t look like she’d left in a while.
Daryn knew they did a lot to her to try to break her, and succeeded in too many ways. Destroying an ability that they didn’t even know she had, well, that was unlikely. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder the ways they’d changed her with all she’d been through in the last two years.
She had to really think in order to answer the question honestly. “I don’t know. Two days ago or so, I think.” She took another small sip of water before carefully setting the glass on the nearby table. She wasn’t taking good care of herself, and she wasn’t trying to hide it either.
He sighed and stood up. “Right, ok, you stay here. I’m going to go grab you some food because you can’t live this way.” He said, making his way to the door to go grab a few supplies out of his apartment.
“Put something on. Music, movie. I don’t know. Just don’t sit there and think about it.” He said.
It took him longer than he had expected, the line at the small eatery in the marketplace was longer than average and when he finally got back with groceries and a ready meal, an hour had passed.
He came to her door again with a knock.
Daryn sighed, but tried to listen to the advice. Despite what she was feeling and thinking, she could still recognize that Ehren was trying, and that was certain much more than some others were doing around her lately. She found the remote and turned on the television as directed, trying to find something to serve as a good enough distraction.
When he returned, the door was left ajar. Daryn was still on the couch, and had put on some random movie, but was paying little attention to it. At least she was trying to rest.
He entered cautiously and was relieved to see that she was actually resting. He made his way to the kitchen with the groceries and set the bags down on the counter before fishing out the sandwich he’d picked up for her, along with a bottle of coconut water to help with any hydration issues.
He brought them over to her and placed them on the coffee table in front of her. He went back to her kitchen to put away the essentials he’d purchased for her. He wasn’t sure what she liked but there was enough for her to find something to eat.
When they were safely put away he returned to her side. “Is this ok?” He asked her nervously. He looked up to Daryn, no matter what state she was in.
When Ehren returned, Daryn sat up again, watching him curiously. She’d never really let many people take care of her, even as a child she’d been self sufficient. There was only one other time she’d allowed help, and even then she’d fought it tooth and nail. Now, she just didn’t have the energy anymore, and all the fight she had left she wasn’t going to aim at him.
At the question, she nodded and offered half of the sandwich to him. “Yes. Thank you.”
Politely he took the other half of the sandwich and began to nibble at it sparingly. When his food had been swallowed he spoke again. “Do you believe me now? That I want to help you?” He asked her since before it seemed she only thought him there for his own sake.
It brought to life that Ehren could be needy to his friends and his conversation with Cas led him to the conclusion that it was time for him to take the plunge. To let Caspian go into his head and remove all the anxiety that had ever made him a burden on the people he cared about.
Daryn just nodded in response. She ate in silence, but was only able to take in about half of her portion before setting it down. She took a sip of the water, watching him curiously. She wasn’t sure what his thoughts were in reference to, but in this instance she thought it best not to pry. “Thank you. Again.”
Placing his sandwich on the table, Ehren put his arms up like before to show her he didn’t mean to harm her before pulling her into a hug against his body. They were friends but they never got a chance to get close enough in the faction, he felt more drawn to her now.
It wasn’t because she was suffering but because she’d let herself become vulnerable and he could see the woman she was. The woman who still had doubts and fears. She was like Ehren. Imperfect.
He held onto her for a while, pressing lightly against her shoulder to provide as much comfort as possible.
Despite the fair warning, Daryn still tensed at the hug. It obviously made her uncomfortable. It was the same reaction when Finn had hugged her upon first seeing her after her release. She’d never been much of a hugger, she hadn’t really voluntarily touched anyone in an emotional way in years. It felt foreign.
She tried to just allow the hug, but she felt like she was about to hyperventilate when he finally let go. Trying to ignore her discomfort, she focused on something else. “How much do I owe you for the things you bought?”
He didn’t hold on for long because he could tell how uncomfortable it made her so when he pulled back he offered her an apologetic look. Ehren’s eyebrows knit together as she asked him about what she owed him. “Don’t worry about it.” He replied, getting up to remove the trash from their shared sandwich.
He used the opportunity to clean up a few trash items here and there and throw them in the bin. “Listen, I have to go to work.” He said from the kitchen and came back to her where she sat in the living room. “I’m going to come check on you when I get back ok? I want to see you sleeping.” Which was a silly thing to ask since she could probably sense him coming from a mile away and could easily fool him into thinking she’d been doing it all along. “Can you do that for me?”
He’d have to stop off by the hospital to talk to someone. Someone who knew more about what to do than he did before he came back to her.
Daryn arched a brow at him in surprise but she didn’t argue. She didn’t really expect him to come back to check on her, later or at all really. But she could tell that he was being genuine in his intentions. After a moment, she nodded. “I’ll try. No promises.”
A smile came to his face, a sad one but genuine and he offered her a little wave. “I’ll see you later Daryn.” Maybe he could talk to someone about coming to fix her windows since rain was hardly ever far in Washington. Until then he’d try and do whatever he could while he was working. Daryn was important and it sickened him that others in the faction didn’t see that.