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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 4:41 pm  Post subject: New Kid In Town  
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Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:19 pm
Rank: Champ
Location: NC
**latest edit** I'm a bit concerned about the length, but it's pretty much finished. I definitely need fine tuning and working with transitions, so I will welcome input.

This is something I've been working on that takes place after an injury Brodi has. (When I first started playing Tricky I busted Brodi's head open so often my husband accused me of having something against blonde surfer boys. So of course my first fanfic, I give the boy a concussion.)
...........

Anya pulled off her hat and goggles as she made her way into the lodge. She paused a moment in the doorway, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the indoor light. She wanted to make sure the path was clear to the stairwell. The newest rider in the circuit, Anya had no desire to socialize with any of the other riders.

“Hey, Little Red! Awesome jumps out there!”

Anya cringed. Especially that one. She had heard rumors of a possibly psychotic member of the team, but she hadn’t believed it until she’d laid eyes on Psymon. Still, she smiled and waved in his general direction. Just because she didn’t want friends didn’t mean she needed to alienate everyone.

She had shaken all the snow out of her hair, silently cursing the damp red curls in their unruly fuzzy state. She had almost made it to the stairs when she saw Elise stalking in her direction. Great. She hadn’t wanted to deal with anyone, and in the space of two minutes she’d run into two veterans.

“In case you’re wondering, Princess,” the blonde Amazon began as she stopped in front of her, “If Sketchy thinks your jumps were cool, then it means you took far too many risks out there. Watch yourself, kid, or there’ll be a new definition to “become one with the mountain.”

The tall blonde didn’t wait for a reply and walked off. Not that Anya would have been able to think of a good comeback. Well, maybe sometime tomorrow after it didn’t matter anymore. She sighed and started up the stairs.

“Don’t let them bother you.”

Anya looked around to see who had spoken to her this time. The only person she saw was the blond surfer, lounging by the fireplace reading. She didn’t even think he had noticed her, then he spoke again.

“They’re not so bad once you get to know them.”

“If you say so.”

“You’re welcome to sit by the fire and warm up.”

Anya looked at the fire…it did look good. But, no….
“Thanks, but I don’t want to disturb…”

“I’m just reading, babe. No worries.”

That fire DID look good…and it didn’t hurt that there was some eye candy sitting in front of the fire. She had chilled herself to the bone…

Against her better judgement, she found herself walking towards the fireplace. As she rounded the couch, the tall blonde swung his legs of and onto the floor. She sat down cautiously on the far end of the couch and folded her arms around herself. He laughed and she looked up sharply, but the laughter was kind and warm, not mocking.

“I don’t bite, hon. Well, not under most circumstances.”

She smirked at the old joke. “It’s not that. Just didn’t realize how cold I was until I got close to the fire.”

He nodded and put out his hand. “Brodi Ford.”

“Yeah, I recognized you. You’re good…saw most of your runs last season. Oh, I’m Anya Burgess.” She reached out to shake his hand, but he turned his wrist slightly and kissed her hand.

“Very pleased to meet you, Anya Burgess.”

He released her hand when she stiffened. Embarrassed by her reaction, she tried to cover the slight with random conversation.

“So, uhm…what are you reading?”

He smiled and looked down at the forgotten book in his hand. “Thich Nhat Hanh.”

Anya blinked. “The Vietnamese monk?”

“You’ve read him?”

“No. I did meet him once. Well, not exactly meet him. Rather, sat in a lecture hall with hundreds of other students and heard him speak.”

“Cool.”

He did, indeed, look impressed. And impressive, too, she thought. It was his eyes that got to her. So blue, so kind, so…Anya cursed herself as she became aware of the awkward silence Damn it, why didn’t she just go on up to her room?

“It was nice. Uhm, are you in the race tomorrow?”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she knew she shouldn’t have spoken. She smacked herself in the head. “God, I’m sorry! I forgot you were hurt a few weeks ago.”

He smiled warmly. If he had taken any offense, it certainly didn’t show in his face. “It’s OK. Yeah, I haven’t been given the go-ahead yet, but I’m building up to it.”

He rested a hand on her shoulder and she froze.

“I need to go to my room and get a shower in.” She stood up abruptly. “Thanks for the convo.”

“Anya, it’s OK. Really.”

“No, I’m tired. Shower and bed for me—early start tomorrow.”

The look in his eyes – oh, those eyes – told her he didn’t believe her. Still, he didn’t try to stop her.

“Just promise me one thing.”

She stopped, but didn’t turn around. She couldn’t look at those eyes again—not without melting and reaching out to him for help. Still, she stopped. “Yes?”

“Promise me I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Sure”

“No. Promise me.”
Damn it. He knew. How did he knew?

“OK. I promise you will see me tomorrow. I’ll come find you.”

Anya ran up the stairs before he could say anything else. If she started to cry, he’d never let her leave. Word was the boy had a bit of a white knight in him.



Chapter 2.

Brodi watched the pretty redhead run up the stairs to her room and fought the urge to go after her. He didn’t want to frighten her. There was a pain resonating at her core. He hated seeing someone in pain and not being able to do anything about it.

He hoped she would keep her promise. He thought she would. Still, he was concerned. Elise had told him of her actions on the slopes.

“It’s like watching Psymon board, “ Elise had said, “Only we KNOW Psymon is unhinged. You’d think she was trying to hurt herself.”

Brodi didn’t think it was jealousy. Elise had sounded concerned. At least, as concerned as she ever let herself sound.

“It’s called fire, man. Helps keep us warm, useful for cooking…”

Brodi looked up at the usual blinding 70’s nightmare ensemble. “Oh, hi, Eddie. How are ya?”

Eddie plopped himself down on the couch and leaned back. “How are YOU, dude? You’ve been staring at that fire for, like, ever. You feelin’ alright?”

“I’m fine, dude. Just thinking.”

“Uh-huh. You crushin’ on that new girl? I saw you chattin’ her up.”

Brodi glared. “I was not “chatting her up”.” He turned back to the fire. “She needs a friend.”

Eddie let out a low whistle.

“What?”

“Are you a baggage magnet, dude, or what?”

Brodi sighed. “Eddie, everyone’s got baggage and things they need to work on. Me, for instance? Right now I’m reminding myself of my adherence to nonviolence.”

Eddie threw his hands up. “OK, OK. I give.” Eddie stood up to go, and he rested a hand on Brodi’s shoulder as he rounded the back of the couch. “Just do me a favor, my man, and remember one thing.”

Brodi closed his eyes and waited for the comment he knew was coming.

“What’s that, Eddie?”

“You can’t save everyone, dude. And Elise, Zoe, and I don’t like picking up the pieces when you try.”

Eddie left before Brodi could answer. Brodi just sat back and fingered his mala beads, trying to calm his mind.

Chapter 3.


Anya looked at her prescription bottle of sleeping pills and sighed. Why did she go and promise? And why did promises matter so much to her anyway? And how in the hell did he knew?

“Girl, you have officially lost it.”

The surfer boy was just being nice. He was nice to everyone. It was his nature. Still, she had promised him she would come find him. She would make it through this night, go find him tomorrow as promised. The bottles would still be waiting here tomorrow night when she embarrassed herself to find out for sure that he was just being nice.

Anya turned the shower on—just the hot—and sank under it sobbing. Once she had cried out every last ounce of energy, she scrubbed herself with the bath brush until her skin was raw. Finally, when the water started losing its heat, she turned off the water and got out.

Drying herself off, she dressed in her favorite flannel PJ’s and grabbed a diet coke from the mini fridge. She looked at her prescriptions lined up on the dresser. Zoloft, Ativan, Ambien..
“Pathetic.” She thought as she grabbed the bottle of Ambien. She would only take one…it was a safety when she got like this. She would take just the one, and would sleep through the night and hopefully see things differently in the morning light.

Not that she’d been able to sleep without it for the last three years anyway. Ever since IT had happened. She couldn’t fall asleep, and then when she did it was like living it all over again in her nightmares.

So, she swallowed her salvation, set her alarm clock, and checked the door lock about fifteen times before she settled in. The beauty of Ambien—if you lay down and close your eyes, you were waking up before you knew it.

Chapter 4

Brodi paused at the top of the stairs and frowned at himself. Getting winded walking up 20 steps was not something that happened to him. Well, at least BEFORE.

“To suffer is to grow” he told himself. Yeah right, he thought back. How much growing did he have to do?

“Accept it, Brodi. Embrace it.”

He knew he should consider himself lucky. He’d never really had a serious injury until a few weeks ago, and even then he didn’t die when he knew he could have. The entire experience had been a lesson in humility. For at least a week after he woke up, he had to rely on others to feed him, bathe him; he could do almost nothing by himself. He had been attached to a chest tube, an IV line, and oxygen, so his own movements were extremely limited. His mind was left foggy by the drugs he was being fed, and then he had to fight off the depression they’d brought on. That is, when he had been awake enough to know what he was feeling.

And, here he was, weeks later, still getting winded from simple walks. Of course, it probably hadn’t helped that he’d come down with pneumonia two weeks ago.

“Come on, Brodi, get yourself together,” he chided himself and started making his way towards his room.

He found himself slowing in front of Anya’s room. Was she OK? He silently said a prayer and decided he was going to take her to breakfast. No, maybe not. He remembered the way she had stiffened when he touched her shoulder. He needed to let her come to him. No need to force his company on her and frighten her. If he was going to be her friend, it had to be her choice.

Eeddie’s words came to mind. You can’t save everyone. True enough. But this wasn’t about saving anyone. This was about being a friend to someone in need.

Wasn’t it?

Brodi went inside his room and lit some incense before hopping in the shower. He turned the entire shower into a meditation, but it did little good. Where his body was still weak from his injuries and illness, his mind was restless. His hand absently found the healing scar on his side, still angry, red, and sore. His arms still bore the scars of the IV he had been attached to as well as enough puncture sites from countless blood tests to make him look like a junkie.

“Breathe, Brodi. Just breathe.”

A few more minutes of that was about all he could stand, so he shut off the water and dried himself off. Slipping into a pair of sweatpants, he headed out to his bedroom expecting to collapse onto his bed and soothe himself into a sleep.

“Hmmm. Eddie was right. You do look like hell.”

He was mildly startled to find Elise sitting on his bed thumbing through a copy of Shambala Sun.

“Elise! Don’t think I’m not happy to see you—but what are you doing here, babe?”

Elise shrugged. “You never lock your door.”

“And?”
“And you need to come over here and lay down before you fall over. When was the last time you ate? You weren’t in the café for dinner, but I did see Eddie.”

Ah, so that was it.

“When are you guys going to stop babysitting me?”

“When you stop looking like death warmed over. Now get your butt over here and lay down. I’m not here to jump your bones. I’m here to take care of you. Now here, on your stomach. Now.”

Brodi sighed and stretched out on his bed. Elise poured some almond oil on his back and began gently rubbing it in.

“Let me know if I hurt you. I’ll stay away from your ribs and your incision.”

“Mmm-hmmm.”

She finished his back and started working on his right arm. She worked all the way down to his hand, then kissed his hand before moving to the other side.

Brodi opened his eyes. “Any more of that and I’m not exactly going to be going to sleep.”

Elise grinned mischeviously. “Fair enough. I told you I’m not here for that, so it’s not really fair of me.”

Brodi smiled. “It’s OK. Whatever happens, happens.”

Elise returned her attention to his left arm. “I don’t know that you’re quite ready for that yet, honey.”

Brodi opened his eyes again as she fell silent.

“What are you thinking, hon?”

When she didn’t answer, he rolled partially onto his side, letting her keep her grip on his arm. Her thumb was gently circling a particularly bruised area.

“Elise?”

“Hmmm?”
Brodi sighed and caught hold of her hand. “Sweetie, I thought the idea was for me to go to sleep.”

“Oh. Sorry, babe.”
“You OK?”
“Me? Fine. I’m just glad you’re still here.”

He fell onto his back and put a hand out to her. “Me too, babe. Me too.”

Elise leaned over him to switch off the bedside lamp. As he felt the weight of her head settle onto his shoulder, he finally felt calm enough to drift off.

Elise spent most of the night in Brodi’s arms. When she was satisfied that he was going to sleep through the night, she eased herself up off the bed and out the door.

She looked at her watch and was glad that she didn’t have a race in the morning. She was so tired she had actually considered spending the night in Brodi’s room. Two things stopped her. Firstly, there wouldn’t have been any sleep, and not because of anything interesting. She kept finding herself checking his breathing pattern, even though she knew he was well past the healing point where that needed to be watched. Secondly, she really did not want anyone seeing her come out of his room. Least of all Anya.

Not that she was concerned about competition for the surfer’s attention. She was confident about where she stood with the man. It was just that Anya seemed—unstable seemed too harsh a word, but it also seemed to fit. And when Eddie had seen her talking to Brodi…

She had come to Brodi’s room to confront him about his white knight syndrome. She was all ready for the argument, but when she saw how he looked she had decided to just work on getting him to sleep. He really looked like he had been to hell and back.

Maybe Brodi wasn’t the only one with white knight syndrome…

*********


Anya wouldn’t say that she was in a better mood when she woke up, but she did at least feel rested. She blinked her eyes and stretched so hard one of her legs started to cramp.
“OW!!”
She shot up in bed, cursing as she grabbed her leg and rubbed the kink out.

“Well, that’s ONE way to wake up,” she thought as she limped to the shower.

Later, showered and dressed, she pulled her hair back into a tangled, untamed ponytail. She grabbed a diet coke from the mini fridge, popped her daily allotment of sanity, and headed out the door.

She was starteled to see a note taped to her door. With shaking hands she took the note down then slammed her door shut and locked it. Sitting on her bed with tears streaming down her face, she looked at the envelope carefully. She was relieved to see that she didn’t recognize the handwriting. Still, she held her breath as she opened it and removed the piece of paper inside. It was a single piece of unlined paper, folded in half. Unfolding it gingerly as if it might disintegrate, she finally gathered the courage to read it.

“Anya,
I enjoyed our conversation yesterday. Please don’t forget your promise. Come have breakfast in the café with me if you like.
Your new friend,
Brodi”

Anya smiled, then laughed with relief. Of COURSE the note was from someone here. She was actually so relieved she felt up to having breakfast and conversation with someone.

She walked into the café with a hopeful look, but was at first worried that she might have missed him or that he had changed his mind. Then, while at the counter grabbing her coffee, she saw him sitting alone in the very back of the café, reading quietly. She walked hesitantly towards his table, and he looked up when she was about halfway across and smiled so warmly she had to smile back.

“Anya!” he called out, rising to meet her. She hurried across the floor to the table and he pulled out a chair for her.

“Morning. Thanks for the invite. Sleep well?”
“I was worried my note had gotten lost. Yes, I did sleep well. You?”
“Courtesy of Ambien, yeah.”

He nodded. Once again, if he felt any judgement, it wasn’t to be read in his eyes.
“Sorry to hear you have trouble sleeping. That always bites.”

She raised an eyebrow. “The ZenMaster has done battle with insomnia?”

He laughed that warm, infectious laugh of his. “An interesting way to put it, but, yes.” He set his tea cup down. “While I was in the hospital, I was on such heavy drugs that I slept nearly all the time. When I was weaned off of them, my body had to find its own rhythm again.”
Anya nodded. “That must have been a horrible experience for you. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

He smiled. “Probably worse for my friends than it was for me. I was mostly unconscious, and I don’t remember much of the time when I was awake. Usually what we imagine is worse than actual experience.”
Anya actually gripped the table so hard at that statement that he leaned forward and rested his hand on top of hers.
“Anya?”
She made no response; her mind just seemed to blank out at that statement. She didn’t realize tears had started to fall until she noticed that Brodi had moved from across the table to the chair next to her, and was gently dabbing at tears with a napkin.
“Anya? Come on, babe. Talk to me?”
“I…I can’t right now. I really should go. I’ve got runs later today.”
“Anya, please.” He rested a hand on her forearm; gentle, not restraining. “Don’t run away again. I can tell you’re hurting. I have a good ear. Let me help.”

She smiled, blinking away her tears, suddenly embarrassed.
“Brodi, you’re very sweet, and I am honored that you have been so kind, but . . .”
Brodi stood up in front of her. “No buts. I’m offering a listening ear, but I’m also offering friendship, no conditions. I’m reaching out my hand, “he said as he extended his hand to her. “All you have to do is take it.”

***********

Brodi silently let out a sigh of relief as the young woman reached out and took his hand. Something he had said had touched a nerve, and she looked ready to bolt. And if he was right in his thinking, if he didn’t get through to her now, there wasn’t going to be another chance.

“All right. I have no idea why I’m trusting you when I just met you yesterday, but I do trust you. And you might regret that after this, but follow me.”

They left the café and went down the hall and up the stairs. Brodi was ashamed to admit to himself that he had trouble keeping up with her, but he still got winded easily and she was walking fairly quickly. She seemed to notice about halfway up the stairs and slowed down for him.

She stopped in front of her room and fumbled for her keycard. She slid it through the lock and opened the door, motioning for him to go first. He entered the room, and she followed, shutting the door behind her.

“I want you to know that just standing in an enclosed room with a man is a big step for me. I say that up front so you’ll know how important it is. Uhm, we should sit—probably better for you anyway.”

Brodi nodded gratefully and purposefully chose the chair by the window. He had a feeling that if he planted himself between her and the door she was going to panic.

She sat at her desk, turning the chair to face him. She leaned forward, resting her arms on her knees, wringing her trembling hands.

“I don’t know where to start.”

Brodi folded his legs up underneath him and leaned forward. “Just take a deep breath and let it come to you. You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to.”

Anya took a deep breath.
“I guess the best way is to just put it out there as is. Three years ago a man broke into my apartment and raped me for the next four hours. I, uhm, know it was four hours because he broke in just after 2am, and left just before my boyfriend got home from work.”

Brodi closed his eyes. This was not going to be easy to hear.

“Turned out the guy was a friend of my boyfriend’s, and I had been bargained off to him for the night as payment for a lost $50 bet.”

Brodi forced his breathing to remain even and calm, though his fists were clenched in anger. He reminded himself that he was here to listen, to bear witness, not to react.

“$50! Someone I loved and trusted sold the use of my body for a $50 debt. That’s all I was worth to him.” Anya choked back a sob, then brushed her hair out of her eyes. She then folded her arms around herself and leaned forward. “I, uhm, I…I wasn’t worth even that, apparently. The guy game and demanded his money, saying I was a lousy lay and fought too much, had no idea what to do with a man. This is how I found out. I, I….”

She started wringing her hands again, opening her eyes only when Brodi took her hands in his.
“I’m listening,” he said gently.

************

Anya didn’t realize she had been wringing her hands until she felt Brodi’s gentle touch on her hands. When she opened her eyes, she found he had knelt in front of her and was looking at her with a deep sorrow in those eyes that gave her chills.

She laid a hand on the side of his face and with one soft motion of her thumb wiped away a tear forming in his eyes. He caught her hand and kissed her palm before she pulled her hand back.
“Go on, babe. I’m listening.”
“This is a bad idea.”

Brodi sighed. “I’m not here to lecture or judge. I’m here to listen and to be a friend. But I’m not going to hit you over the head with it.”

A tear fell from her eyes as she hugged herself and rocked back and forth. “How did you know?” she whispered.

Brodi sat back and tilted his head slightly. God, those eyes were going to kill her.
“Well,” he began, “how did you know you could trust me? What does your heart tell you that lets you know I’m safe, that I’m not going to hurt you?”

The question made her stop, and she looked at him in surprise. “Uhm. Well, now that you mention it….”

“We all get these gut feelings. Problem is, most of us learn to ignore them. Me? I tend to get into trouble if I don’t listen to them.”

When she looked puzzled, he stated simply, “I know the look, babe, because I’ve worn it.”

Something made her sit on the floor beside him and lean her head on his shoulder. “I haven’t been able to sleep since that night. I keep an active prescription of sleeping pills. I’ve been on four different antidepressants, and three different antianxiety meds. I’m in and out of therapy. I feel like such a loser. Some nights,” she paused to wipe more tears from her eyes, “some nights, if I’ve managed to make it through the day without breaking my neck on the slopes, I bargain with myself. I take just one sleeping pill. Just one. I get safely through the night, and pretend my way through another day.”

She swallowed hard and Brodi squeezed her hand. “Yesterday was going to be it. I’d had it, it was over. I just didn’t count on one thing.”

She felt Brodi kiss the top of her head. “What was that, babe?” he whispered.

“You.”
He shifted and put an arm around her. “Well, start counting, babe.” He said quietly. “Start counting.”


************

Brodi looked down at the woman sleeping in his arms. He had an urge to pick her up and put her on the bed, but he was afraid to wake her up. So, he made himself as comfortable as he could on the floor, leaning up against the bed and letting her settle down onto his lap.

He looked at the pretty redhead in his lap and brushed a few curls out of her eyes. She was sleeping fitfully, but at least she was sleeping. He had a feeling that even the Ambien didn’t protect her from the nightmares. He knew it hadn’t helped him. He slept, all night, and usually wouldn’t remember any dreams, but he could always tell by the tension in his body when he awoke if he’d had a nightmare.

As if in response to his thoughts, Anya shifted on his lap and moaned painfully. Gently he rested a hand on the top of her head.
“Shhhhh. You’re OK.”
Anya opened her eyes at the sound of his voice and gasped, jerking herself up and away from him.
“Anya! It’s OK, hon. You’re OK. It’s just me. Take a deep breath—that’s good. Look at me.”
“Brodi? What…”
“You fell asleep. I didn’t want to risk waking you or scaring you by picking you up to put you on the bed.”
“Oh, my God. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
“Anya, it’s OK. Really.” He fell silent momentarily as he held her hand in his. “I was glad that you felt safe enough with me to fall asleep, even if only for a short bit.”

Anya stood and moved back to the bed, patting the bedside indicating he could sit beside her. He did, resting his hand along the side of her face, relieved when she leaned into it instead of pulling away.
Anya closed her eyes for a moment, then smiled at him tentatively.
“You know you have a reputation, don’t you?”
Brodi laughed. “Almost everyone does. But I’m almost afraid to ask.”
“You have a bad case of white knight syndrome. I’m sure your friends worry about you being taken advantage of.”
“Ah, I see.” Brodi cocked his head to one side and looked at her softly. “And what do you think?”
“I think you’re intelligent enough to know when you need to pull back. I also know that I wouldn’t intentionally take advantage of you, so I don’t feel like I pose any danger to you.”

Brodi smiled his warmest smile and touched her cheek with the back of his fingertips. “Not worried. I have a gut feeling you’re stronger than you think you are. And I’ve already told you how I am about my gut feelings.”

She smiled hesitantly. “I hope you’re right.” Then, after a moment of silence, “so, my white knight, what happens now? You’ve seen me melt down, you know I have baggage.”
“Everyone has baggage, babe.”
“And you know now that I am damaged goods.”
Brodi stood suddenly but regretted it when Anya winced. He took a deep breath and knelt in front of her. He took her hands and held them gently in his.
“Anya, look at me.”
When there was no response from her, he took one hand and gently tilted her chin so that she was facing him.
“Look at me, sweetheart.” He reached up and wiped a tear from her cheek as he spoke. “You are not damaged goods. Do you hear me? You. Are. NOT. Damaged. Goods. Someone did something horrible to you. You’ve done what you had to do to survive. And you HAVE survived. It may not feel like it at times. But you survived. And you’re here. You did NOT deserve to be raped. And you did not deserve to be blamed for it, or to be treated like you were property. No one deserves that.”

Brodi stood again and sat himself back on the bed.
“Now, as to what happens next. That depends on you. I’m offering my friendship, and that hasn’t changed. I don’t put conditions on my friendship or love. Can you trust me enough for that?”
Anya nodded her head meekly. “You haven’t stormed out of here in disgust, so yeah, I think I can.”
Again he lifted her chin to face him. “There is no reason for me to. And if you can trust me, you can believe me. Am I right?”
Again, she nodded.
Brodi sighed , not wanting to get into this next part of the conversation.
“Anya, I’m going to ask you something. Please don’t get upset. Are you in any danger? From yourself, or anyone else?”

Anya stiffened at the question, and for a moment Brodi thought he might be kicked out of her room. But she only let out a sigh and looked at him sorrowfully.
“Well, love, since I’ve already admitted to medicating myself to prevent rash decisions, I can’t exactly say no to the first part of your question.”
Brodi nodded.
“But you know that somehow or you wouldn’t have made me promise to meet you today.”
“And the second part of my question?”
Anya looked down.
“Anya?”
“Honestly, I don’t know. I never pressed charges—and please don’t lecture me about that. He finds me every once in a while—my ex, that is—leaves me a couple of taunting messages, then disappears again.”

Brodi’s eyes went wide. “Anya, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have…”
She held her hand up. “No, it’s OK. You couldn’t have known. Nothing wrong with leaving a note on someone’s door. Well, unless you’re a psychotic idiot.”
Brodi nodded again. “Has he left you any notes here? Or have you seen him?”
Anya smiled grimly. “I always think I see him. Always looking over my shoulder, so to speak.”
Brodi nodded and sighed.
“A horrible feeling.”
Anya frowned. “So how long ago was it?”
“How long ago was what?”
Anya squeezed his hand. “Your assault…”
“Oh….”
“You’re not the only person who can read people, love. And don’t make me pull the ‘I showed you mine, you show me yours’ card.”

**********

For a moment Anya was afraid she had pushed Brodi too hard. She had asked a very personal question about a very painful event in his life, and had just insisted on an answer. In a way, she felt she had a right to know—she had bared her soul for him and felt she should be awarded the same level of trust. But, on a deeper level, she knew she had trusted him willingly and needed to afford him the same chance. He offered friendship without conditions—she couldn’t place conditions on him.

As the silence lengthened into an uncomfortable stretch, she relented and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Brodi, I’m sorry,” she began tentatively. When he kept staring at the floor, she continued. “I had no right to say something like that, and it wasn’t meant to be hurtful.”
He finally looked up at her and smiled. “It’s OK. I know what you meant.”
“I am so sorry, sweetie. I…”
“Anya, it’s OK. I’ll answer you. You just caught me off guard. I wasn’t aware that I was throwing off signals.”

“Not so much that as the way you’ve been with me. You knew to make me promise to meet you. You’ve been careful about touching me. Hell, you were even careful not to place yourself between me and the door…yes, I noticed. So you’re either the kindest, most thoughtful and considerate man in the world, or you’ve been through it yourself.”

Brodi offered a faint smile. “And how do you know I’m not just the kindest man in the world?”
“You know what I mean.”
Brodi laughed. “Yes, I do.” Then he took a more serious tone. “I was 19, about two months from turning 20. End of school-year party. Hanging out on the beach, surfing, swimming, live bands. Loads of fun. Until a girl who was upset that I’d turned her down told her boyfriend that I’d macked on her. I left my drink on my beach towel while I went to catch a quick wave. Drink gets spiked, I spend the next day or so alternating between being a punching bag and a boy toy.”

Anya gasped.
“My God, sweetheart….how did you get away?”
Brodi shrugged. “They drugged and overpowered me. Didn’t mean they were smart. They left me alone a bit too long while they went to the next party, I got out and called a friend to take me to the hospital.”
“So what happened?”
“Nothing really. Told the hospital I’d been mugged. No one questioned it. I didn’t say anything about sexual assault. To anyone. Not even the friend who took me to the hospital. In fact, you’re only the second person I’ve ever told.”
“In ten years?”
“In ten years. My own mother doesn’t know.”
Anya said nothing for a moment, but leaned her head on Brodi’s shoulder. When the silence finally became too much, she said merely, “How have you coped?”
“At first? Lots of working out—still my favorite release. Well, one of them, anyway. When school started up again, I threw myself into my studies. Yoga helped me get re-acquainted with my body, as did lots of meditation.” There was more silence, then, “You have to find your groove, what works for you, babe. I can help you or give you suggestions, but I can’t tell you what will work for you.”
Anya stood and walked over to the window, hugging herself as she leaned her forehad against the cool glass. “I don’t want to re-acquaint myself with my body. It hurts. Too much.”
She heard Brodi get up, felt up come up close behind her. He hesitated a moment, then gently rested his hands on her shoulders. “It takes time,” he whispered. “It just takes time.”

She choked back a sob, but it came full force. Brodi wrapped his arms around her as she started sinking to the floor. She was shaking uncontrollably as he picked her up and sat down on the bed with her. He neither chastised nor criticized her, but held her like a child and rocked her back and forth as she continued to be racked with sobs.
“Let it out.” He was saying. “Just let it out.”
And let it out she did. She cried a river of tears that she had been holding back for what felt like centuries. When she was finally empty of tears, she fell into a deep sleep.

*******
Brodi gently eased the sleeping woman onto a pillow. She had cried for a good 45 minutes, a good, cleansing cry, and he had held her the entire time. His arm was completely numb and his shoulder was soaked with her tears, but she at least seemed to be resting. He watched her sleeping, lost in thought. It was nearly noon, and she had missed her race. He would talk to the organizers and explain that it was an emergency. If nothing else, he would pay her fines himself. OK, issue one down.

Next item on the list; making sure she was safe, both from herself and from any old “friends” who might show up. The latter would be easier than the former. There was plenty of security. Besides, Brodi was sure that between himself, Nate, Psymon, and Moby, they could keep on top of any developing situation. Actually, that would probably be less scary for a potential perp than having to come across Elise, Zoe, and Seeiah.

Keeping Anya safe from herself was going to be harder. He could suggest rape counselors and domestic violence counselors, teach her some breathing exercises and meditations, provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, but none of that would do any good until she was ready for help.

He honestly didn’t know if she would agree to a rape counselor. He knew that after his assault he had been loathe to tell anyone, let alone seek help. Some of his issues had been gender-specific, though, as well as age-related. He had felt shame that he had let himself become a victim, though he now realized it wasn’t his fault. He also remembered worrying that no one would believe he hadn’t wanted to have sex, with at least the girl. But he hadn’t, and had in fact made that abundantly clear, and that had only gotten him multiple assaults and a truck load of drugs.

A knock at the door snapped him back to the present. He hurried to answer it before Anya was awakened.

“Brodi?”
“Shhh!”
Brodi stepped out into the hall and closed the door behind him. Eddie and Elise stood there looking at him accusingly.
“So that’s why she missed her race.”
Brodi glared at Eddie. “Park the attitude, bro. It’s not like that.”
“Care to enlighten us?”
“Not really, Elise. She doesn’t feel well, I walked her back to her room after breakfast, and she’s just now gotten to sleep.”
Elise crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes.
“Baggage magnet, man. I’m tellin’ you, Elise, the man is a friggin’ baggage magnet.”
“Can it, Eddie. Zen here just cares about people. A little too much, maybe, but it’s just his personality.”
“Thank you, Elise. Uhm, did you guys have a reason for stopping by Anya’s room? It can’t have been to give me a lecture, since no one knew I was here.”
“Just making sure she was OK, and to find out why she missed the race.”
Elise stopped to study Brodi another moment. “I know better than to lecture you. But don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.”
Eddie just grumbled something incomprehensible, and Elise punched his arm.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“For him. Because he won’t hit you.”
Eddie sighed. “Look, dude, we just don’t want to see you get hurt. I’m not sayin’ this girl would do that. Just…watch yourself. You’re not that far out of surgery, you know. And you just finished the last treatment for the pneumonia you had. Don’t overextend yourself.”

Brodi leaned against the door and softened his gaze. “I appreciate that, Eddie. But you know I’m all about balance.” He rested a hand on Eddie’s shoulder. “Anya knows that, too. She needs a friend, Eddie. I just happened to be the most approachable at the time.”

Elise leaned in and kissed his cheek. “You’re always the most approachable, kiddo. That’s why we worry about you. Now…want to join us for lunch?”
“Uh, thanks guys, but I…”
Elise sighed. “I know. You’re going to stay with Anya. Can we at least bring you something?”
“How about we both join you for dinner?”
Eddie grumbled under his breath again, and Elise sighed, but then smiled. “OK, Zen. But we’re gonna hold you to it.”
Anya bolted upright when she heard the door open and close.

“Whoa…hey. It’s just me, babe. I answered your door, that’s all.”
Anya sighed with relief and fell back on the bed as the tall blonde surfer walked over to her bed and sat down.

“Who was at the door?”
“Elise and Eddie. They dropped by to invite you to lunch. You were still sleeping, so I told them I’d see about getting you to dinner.”

Anya’s eyes popped open. “Lunch? Dinner? What time is it?”
Brodi glanced at his watch. “Uhm…about 12:30.”
“My race! I forgot about…”
“Relax, babe. I’ll take care of it.”
She sat up. “Damn it!”
“Anya! Just relax, babe. I said I’d take care of it.”
Anya sighed and let herself be pulled into an embrace.
“So, how bad was your lecture?”
Brodi kissed the top of her head. “Lecture?”
"White knight?"
“Ah. No lecture. Just a dinner invitation.”
She leaned her head on his shoulder and sighed again. Then slowly overcome by an urge she didn’t quite understand, she leaned up and kissed his neck, then found his lips.
“Anya?”
Another kiss.
“Anya, do you really think…”
Another kiss….
“that this is a good…”
Once more, a little more lingering….
“A good idea?”
She sat up and straddled him, cupping his face in her hands as she sat on his lap. “I think it’s a wonderful idea.”

Brodi wasn’t sure how to handle what was happening. Things were moving way too fast for comfort—WAY to fast. And given the emotional state of both of them, starting a sexual relationship right this minute probably wasn’t a good idea.

Another moment of indecision and the decision was going to be made for him. Her kisses were sweet and tender, and she kept returning to his neck and his ears, her hands were moving ever lower.
“Anya,” he said breathlessly. “Anya, we should…we should really stop.”

She sat back suddenly, and Brodi winced at the pained look on her face. “You’re serious?”
He reached out to grasp her hands, but she jerked them away. Well, he thought…there was no going back now.
“Yes,” he said quietly. “I’m serious.”

Anya lifted herself off of him and sat on the far corner of the bed. Facing away from him, she folded her arms around herself.. “Can I ask why?”

“Anya, please look at me.”
“Please…”
“Anya…” Brodi moved forward and put a hand on her shoulder. She stiffened, but didn’t move. “Honey, I would love to. I would love to just take the entire day, take our time and make each other feel good. Believe me, I want you. I really, really want yo, and it’s taking all of my strength to say no. But I need to be sure that…damn it, I don’t want to be just one more person to hurt you!”

“Nice try. You even told me I wasn’t damaged goods. Nice setup.”
“That wasn’t a setup. And you’re not damaged goods. Sweetheart, less than four hours ago you were sobbing in my arms when I mentioned getting re-acquainted with your body.”
“So I’m getting re-acquainted. Isn’t that what you wanted?”
“What I WANT is for healing to take place. Offering friendship without conditions, remember?”
She stood and turned to face him, her eyes full of fury.
“I don’t remember putting any conditions on it. You seem to be the one not able to overcome your assault if you think it’s not possible to have a healthy sexual relationship after being raped.”
“Anya, I didn’t say that…”
“Then why? Tell me what you’re thinking?”
Brodi stood and looked at her sadly. “Honey, I understand that you’re upset. But I need for you to talk to me calmly, OK? No yelling. I don’t do yelling. Will you come and sit with me?”
Anya sank to her knees on the floor, wrapping her arms around herself. She held a hand up when Brodi made a move towards her.
“Just leave. Please.” She said quietly.
“Anya…”
“Please, Brodi. I’ll promise you anything you want, and I’ll keep my promise. Just leave me alone for a little while.”
Brodi sighed. “OK. I’ll go. I’ll be in my room—come knock on my door if you need me. And as for the promise…have dinner with me? Tonight?”
She nodded meekly.
“Anya…”
“Yes. I promise. Dinner. Tonight. Now, please, Brodi…”
Brodi turned and walked out the door, closing it quietly behind him. He lingered in front of the door for a moment, almost going back in. Instead, he started walking towards his room as he fished out his cell.

“Elise? You still hanging out with Eddie? Can you meet me in my room? No, just you. Thanks, babe.”

Anya breathed a sigh of relief as her door closed. She waited a moment to be sure Brodi had actually walked away, then got up and locked the door.

She walked over to her dresser and picked up one of the bottles, then sat back down again. A promise was a promise….

Damn it, she was so EMBARRASSED. What was she THINKING? Of course he’d turned her down….

“No time for self-pity, girl,” she told herself aloud.

***more to come…not sure where I’m going with this part…suggestions welcome. Should she go boarding? Go shopping? Get drunk? Haven’t quite got her personality down yet, so not sure how she’d deal with this situation****


-------
Elise curled up beside Brodi and kissed his forehead. “Mmmmmm” she sighed contentedly. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. OK, so I was wrong about you not being able to handle this yet. Feeling better, honey?”

“Always with you, babe.”
Elise had answered Brodi’s call immediately. He sounded upset, and said he needed one of her world famous backrubs.

He apparently needed more than that. About halfway through the backrub the erotic tension between them was enough to cave even the most devout celibate, and he had flipped her off his back and kissed her. His movements were soft, tender, and loving, but held enough of a desperation to them that she’d nearly stopped him once or twice. She knew of his history, and they had an agreement: neither of them would use sex to self-medicate. But this desperation seemed to stem from elsewhere, some part of him she couldn’t quite get a handle on. Besides, Elise and Brodi had known each other for so long they had one of THOSE friendships; neither would ever admit to even wanting to date the other, but neither had ever turned the other away either when there was a true need for companionship.

“So, are you going to tell me what’s bothering you, or are we going to pretend that this was just a mid-day romp.”

Brodi said nothing in response. Instead, he curled into her and rested his head on her shoulder.
“Sweetie?”
“I’m OK.”
Elise eased her shoulder out from underneath Brodi and sat up. “Yeah. You wouldn’t let me get by with that crap answer. Any reason I should let you slide?”

Brodi sighed and sat up as well. “Then would you believe I’m not quite sure?”
“I think you’re allowed.” She kissed his cheek sweetly. “We tease you and call you ZenMaster, babe. Doesn’t mean you have to live up to the name all the time.”

“I think I just needed something I knew was safe.” He smiled at her weakly. “You’re safe. You’re honest.”

Elise leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “And I would never take from you what you are not willing to give. That’s what some of this is about, isn’t it?”

Brodi flopped back on the bed, throwing an arm up on his forehead. “Yes.”
“But only some of it.”
“Yes.”

This time it was Elise sighing as she stood and walked over to his dresser/makeshift altar. She lit a couple of candles and some incense, then walked back over to the bed and took his hand in hers and began a hand massage.
Brodi peered at her through one eye as he lifted his arm off his head. “What are you doing, babe?”
“Well, I can’t make you talk if you don’t want to, and that’s fine. But unless you tell me you want to be alone right now, I’m not going anywhere. I thought the candles and incense might help you relax, and figured you wouldn’t be too annoyed or offended by my lighting them. You’re wound tighter than a spring toy right now, and considering that we just had what I thought was really amazing sex, I’d say that was a bit unusual for you.”

Brodi sat up and tilted her chin up to give her a soft kiss, lingering with a light nibble on her lower lip. “It was really amazing. Don’t mean to make it sound otherwise.”
“You didn’t.” Then she smiled. “And you keep that up, and it’s not going to be past tense.”
“I wouldn’t argue with that.”
Elise laughed then turned to face him. She straddled him and sat on his lap facing him, hesitating only when she saw a familiar flash in his eyes.
“Sweetie…oh my God.” She took his face in her hands. “Honey, what happened?”
Brodi crooked his head at her in confusion. “What?”
“Honey, something has happened, within the past day or so.”
“Elise, I’m OK.”
It wasn’t lost on her that he didn’t deny something had happened.
“The hell you are. Something. Happened.” Elise lifted herself off of Brodi and sat back on her knees. “Sweetheart, I know I said I wouldn’t make you talk. I know you have your own way of dealing with things. But honey, the last time I saw that flash in your eyes even for a second, and I ignored it thinking it was nothing, you move into a full-blown panic attack and I get thrown halfway across the room. Then I spend the next twenty minutes talking you down. It was another ten minutes before you’d even let me touch you. So you’ll forgive me if I don’t back off this time.”

Brodi winced at the memory. “I remember. I’m sorry about that.”
Elise shook her head. “Not the point. Nothing to apologize for. I didn’t bring it up to guilt you. I want you to understand how serious this is. You can’t just say, “the past is gone, now is all there is.” And hope it goes away. The past isn’t gone, sweetheart, if you’re moving into such severe panics you’re throwing people across a room.” Elise leaned forward and rested a hand on Brodi’s knee. “Honey, you’re recovering from a serious injury and an aggressive bout of pneumonia. You almost died, babe. Maybe that’s what’s getting your emotional health out of line. But whatever it is…you need to deal with it. The past isn’t gone until you put it to rest yourself.” Elise stood, gathered her clothes, and, with a quick kiss, headed for the bathroom. “Back in a minute.”

Brodi leaned back on his bed and watched the blonde Amazon walk out of the room.
“How are you going to handle this, Bro?” he asked.
If he told Elise what happened in Anya’s room, he would feel like he was violating Anya’s trust.
He had a sinking feeling that things were about to get more complicated when there was a knock at the door. He slipped back into his sweats and answered the door.

“Anya! Hi!”
Anya looked down. “Hi Brodi. I, uhm…”
“Do you want to come in?”
She went red at the suggestion. “No, no. I, uhm. I just wanted to come by to apologize for earlier.”
“Anya, honey, there’s really no need…”
“Please, Brodi. Let me finish before I lose my nerve to face you. I’ve played out what happened over in my head…over and over and over. I said some mean things. I was embarrassed, and instead of understanding, I lashed out at you, then pushed you away when you held your ground. And Brodi, I am so, so sorry. It was abusive on so many levels, and manipulative. I’m just…there is no way to say I’m sorry. You reached out in friendship, pulled me through a crisis and offered me something beautiful, and I betrayed what you offered. That…uhm, that’s all I wanted to say.”

Without waiting for a reply, she started to walk back down the hall.
“Wait. So is 5 o’clock OK? It’s about 3:30 now.”
Anya froze. When she seemed hesitant to turn around, he tried again.
“Your promise? Dinner?”
She turned around, a look of disbelief in her eyes.
“Are you insane?I stopped…rather, you stopped me…just short of assaulting you when you made yourself vulnerable to me.”
Brodi held his hand up. “I’m very aware of what happened. And you weren’t quite that bad, hon…I believe…well, we’ll discuss that later. Everyone…myself included…needs second chances. Unconditional, remember?”

Brodi stepped back into the room and closed the door, and turned around to Elise’s angry face.
“Open the door and move out of my way.”
“Elise, what…”
“I heard, OK? I know what happened, and I’m going to go kick her ass for it.”
Elise pushed Brodi up against the door to get to the doorknob, and he barely managed to get his hands around her waist to move her back.
“Whoa…no you don’t, babe. Come over here and sit down with me.”
Elise pushed away from Brodi. “How DARE you? Damn it, we had an agreement. No self-medicating. Or don’t you remember that?”
“Elise, please, calm down and talk to me…”
“Someone tries to hurt you, and you come to ME and make love to me to help you swallow the pain. I almost stopped you.” She clumsily wiped away a tear. “I almost stopped you because something wasn’t quite right. No self-medicating, Brodi. WE HAD A DEAL.”

“Elise, it wasn’t like that. It was a spontaneous thing. I really did just want one of your backrubs to ease the tension. Maybe curl up in your lap for a while and nap. But, Elise…your hands felt so good, and you smell so good, and you felt so warm and soft, I just…” he lifted one of her hands, “got lost,” and kissed her fingertips,” in you,” and the back of her hand, “and forgot why I was upset in the first place.” He placed another kiss on the inside of her wrist. “That’s why it felt so good, Elise. We were so tapped in, we were IN the moment, we WERE the moment.”

Elise shook herself and pulled her hand away. “Damn you and that charm of yours. Why can’t I stay mad at you? Now…the little redheaded bitch…”
Brodi sighed, “Elise…”
Elise threw her hands up. “OK, OK. I’ll come sit with you. Now, “she crawled up onto the bed and patted the spot beside her, “tell me your side. Can’t be any worse than what I heard her say.”

Brodi sat beside her and shrugged. “She kissed me. I said it had to stop there. She got mad and I left. End of story.”
“Riiiiight. That’s why I was half a second from becoming a projectile earlier? What shook you up so much, ZenMaster?”

“She’s a domestic violence victim, Elise. And it was ugly—really ugly. Do you remember comparing her boarding to Psymon’s?”
Elise nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
“She’s suicidal. I had breakfast with her this morning and kind of forced the story out of her. Told her my story, hoping she’d feel less alone or at least see that I could understand where she was coming from. When she kissed me and didn’t want to let up, she lashed out and threw my attack back in my face.” Brodi shrugged. “She was just upset, was linking my saying no to her past, as proof that her ex was right, that she’s damaged goods.”
Brodi slumped in the bed. “I just didn’t want to hurt her, to use her emotions against her.” Brodi closed his eyes. “I didn’t want to take advantage of her. So yeah, it was more than one kiss. She tried to manipulate me and guilt me, but it was a defense mechanism on her part. I was never in any actual physical danger from her, Elise. She’s just trying to protect herself. She needs to learn some social skills, maybe, but she wasn’t going to hurt me. She’s trying to protect herself. She’s been shattered to the core.”

Brodi opened his eyes when he felt Elise’s hand on his shoulder. “She’s not the only one, Zen.” Elise slid down beside him, curling her body into him and pulling his head onto her shoulder. “Do you remember telling me, years ago, that healing happens in spirals? It feels like you’re in the same spot, but you’re a little bit above where you were last time?” Elise stopped and kissed the top of his head. “You’ve built your body up rock hard. You can go so deep into your Zen that we sometimes forget you’re not an emotional void. You’ve done all this to protect yourself. Something is trying to get your attention now. Don’t just shove it back under the rug. Find out what it is and put it to rest.”
Another kis on the top of his head. “And one more thing, babe. You have friends now, sweetie. You don’t have to do this alone. And neither does Anya., if she’ll let us in.”

Brodi wondered briefly how this had circled back to him again, but decided to let it pass. Instead, he sat up and kissed Elise, making sure to linger on her lower lip before pulling back. “Never a doubt, babe. Never a doubt.”

Brodi slid back on the bed and curled into Elise once more. He could do this, he could find a balance. Balance is what he was all about, after all. Maybe it was time to stop and take a look at where he was and where he was going with his life, and what good he could do with it.

_________________
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Marion Zimmer Bradley


Last edited by bookwitch on Fri May 22, 2009 6:43 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 10:30 am  Post subject: Re: New Kid In Town  
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nice work :cheers


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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 4:33 pm  Post subject: Re: New Kid In Town  
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Thanks! I have more I need to post...but when I re-read it I realized it kind of works ending there, too!

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 3:59 pm  Post subject: Re: New Kid In Town  
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NICE!!! :cheers :cheers

Awesome hard work put into that :china :china

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:13 am  Post subject: Re: New Kid In Town  
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9EDDY2 wrote:
NICE!!! :cheers :cheers

Awesome hard work put into that :china :china

Thanks, luv.
There is a cleaned up version here: http://www.fanfiction.net/~bookwtchery

Other stuff too, if you're interested.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:08 am  Post subject: Re: New Kid In Town  
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Nice stuffs here bookwitch and original fanfiction.net name :)

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 9:03 am  Post subject: Re: New Kid In Town  
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Bennieboj wrote:
Nice stuffs here bookwitch and original fanfiction.net name :)


Thanks. It wouldn't let me do 'bookwitch" when I signed up. Kind of used to the name...I've been "bookwitch" for nearly 10 years, since my livejournal.

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