She was pretending she didn't care, but he knew that feeling - the anger, hurt and humiliation that made her eyes brim with tears even as she made jokes. He pretended not to see them, and offered her the towel he'd grabbed from the bar. In his haste to help, he hadn't bothered to check to see if it was clean, but she exhaled shakily and accepted.

"Thanks—" she wiped her nose and winced, "What's your name?"


"Thanks Aidan," her voice wavered, "Those guys were dicks."

He nodded.

"Those guys always are."

Her brother appeared in the doorway of the bar just as she was about to hand back the towel.

Aidan read the frantic concern on his face and noticed that he'd brought the Sanguinem with him. He instinctively stepped back, away from Ashley.

This set-up brought back a lot of bad memories from other places, and he'd been well outside of his comfort zone since before he'd thrown that stool. In all his deployments, he'd never once seen one of the Sanguinem, and now there was one walking toward him in full flash.

"Hey, relax." Ashley said stepping forward, and pressing the towel into his hand with a reassuring look, "You're fine."

The Sanguinem didn't even glance at him.

"Ash, what happened?"

"I'm fine Kate, some idiot hit me, then Aidan hit him with a stool."

Her brother was incredulous, "With a stool?"

"Knocked him out of his shoes. It was actually kind of awesome."

The Sanguinem looked at him for the first time, and her brother laughed.

"Well," he said bending to get a better look, "the good news is they didn't make your face any worse."

Aidan almost said something, but caught the Sanguinem's look. Was that a subtle head shake?

Ashley stuck out her tongue and gestured dramatically at her face.

"I'll have you know, it takes much more than that to ruin this face. Jerk."

They both laughed this time.

"Seriously though, are you sure you're ok?"

"I'm fine Alex, I just want to go home."