Two years. It’s been two years since she left Evermore with nary a spoken word to anyone, by far the most difficult departure she’s ever had to do. She had been starting to consider the city a home, beginning to actually form connections and partnerships, and having to break those off so suddenly had been harder than she’d imagined. Of course she’d had good reasons, her very presence always being a danger to anyone she got close to, but knowing that the danger had come close enough to literally corner her had her fearing not only for herself, but for everyone she had come to know. Among the top of those she had been scared for was Orion Valkyrie, her partner in the security business and one of the closest friends she’d made in years.

She’d spent all of her time getting her side of affairs in order, trying to make leaving as easy on everyone as she could. The night she left she’d placed all the appropriate paperwork on Orion’s desk, along with a note explaining that something had caught up with her and she had to go, telling him she was sorry. By the time morning had come she had been long gone and disconnected her phone so she still has no idea what his reaction had been when he couldn’t reach her. Part of her isn’t sure she wants to know, but all the same now that she’s back she can’t put off reaching out to him. She’s never been one to dodge most problems anyway, the sole exception being the one that chased her from home.

Nerves have her up far earlier than she should be, the air outside still dark and cool from the absence of the sun’s rays. She’s always been an early riser but frankly this is ridiculous. Well, slight change of plans then. With the barest hint of light creeping over the horizon, she grabs her coat and a bag and immediately directs her steps toward Sly Fox Security. She’s thankful for the anonymity that being in a city brings, the coat not drawing a second glance from the people out on the street that early despite the promise of a warm day. Em is almost convinced she could walk around with swords drawn instead of hidden under the garment and she’d only draw a couple more glances from the zombies out looking for their morning cup of coffee.

If Orion is holding to his old patterns she’s not expecting him to be in this early but that doesn’t mean there’s no access to the place. There’s typically a couple people helping to run the overnight jobs and it’s not quite shift change yet so she’s let in without a problem, giving the new face a quiet thanks and heading toward the door she remembers as Orion’s office. It’s all so familiar to her, despite the changes that he’s made over the past couple years. She remains exactly the same as he remembers her, even having let her hair return to it’s natural red before returning to the city, and the feel of the place is just as familiar as her own face. As both a peace offering and a reminder of old times she places the extra cup of coffee and fresh baked bread on his desk, then settles into the chair to wait. He’s usually early so she doubts she’ll have to wait too long but even if she does, she feels she kinda deserves it.

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So much has changed over the last few years for Orion and he had taken on more and more responsibility within the city. His business taking a backseat to his Ambassador duties and when he had Ember around to help it had been easier. Arwyn and Sera both deciding to go down paths of different career study he didn’t really have anyone to lean on in the business sense. Orion had done his best to juggle everything which was on his plate but sometimes things got dropped and he was always exhausted, Sariah having mentioned it more than once in a teasing manner but he knew she was concerned.

Despite being an early riser he had laid in bed longer than necessary before finally getting up and going for his morning jog. After getting back home he made a quick breakfast, ate, took a shower and got ready for his day. Fixing a coffee to go he headed out hoping that nothing set him off today since his temper seemed to be bubbling close to the surface these days which was something he hadn’t dealt with since he was a teen. Dropping the thermos of coffee in the driveway he groaned out in annoyance watching the liquid of his life coating the pavement. “Of course.” He groaned to himself before carefully picking it up and pouring out the rest before tossing it into the passenger floorboard. “Great.” He mumbled to himself as he stepped into the car and began to drive to the office since he couldn’t put it off any longer but hopefully he didn’t put anymore contracts at risk today since his anger and mouth seemed to be getting the best of him as of late.

Parking in the lot near the office building he headed towards the door nodding at a few of his employees who were keeping space between them. Despite his usually cool demeanor even his staff was staying away from him sensing a shift in his behavior. There was a different scent that clung to the air though, not a new scent, one he knew rather well. His lips curved into a slight smile as he headed towards his office the scent becoming stronger. Stepping into his office he closed the door behind him, “Long time no see Little Red. I tried to call but I assume that was your reasoning behind shutting off your phone.” Taking a seat on the edge of his desk he didn’t glower or appear angry since he wasn’t. He knew of her past and he was just assessing her to make sure that she was alright. Ember Rinaldi very much like a daughter to him despite her species. “It’s really good to see you.” His voice was genuine and full of joy.

While she waits Ember sips on her own cup of coffee, casting her gaze slowly around the familiar office. While some decoration choices are different now, and she finds she quite likes them, much of it is still the same. She smiles a little when she sees familiar old pictures and hears the chatter from outside the office door as the employees chat with each other, the experience sending her straight back two years when this was just her routine. She doesn’t remember quite the size of the stack of papers on Orion’s desk though, that thing is a monster. An organized monster sure, it’s still Ori after all, but still she definitely doesn’t envy him the headache that’s sure to cause.

She’d had no disillusions about actually surprising Orion too much. There’s not much that escapes the therian alpha and the strong smell of coffee and fresh bread is as much part of her as her own natural scent. It’s no surprise then that he’s greeting her as soon as he walks through the door. The smile that comes over her face at the old nickname is more genuine than she’s smiled in a long time. “Too long Ori… and no, that’s not it. I couldn’t risk being tracked so I got rid of it.” She says it rather calmly, knowing that he’d understand. Sure enough, she looks the exact same as she did two years ago, dhampir don’t change much and she still looks pretty healthy if perhaps a tad tired from the move. However she can’t help but notice just how worn out he looks and she assumes all the work he’s obviously had to undertake to be the cause. She directs her eyes to the still hot cup of coffee that she’d placed on his desk earlier, drawing his attention that way before she responds. “It’s really good to see you too.”

Ember has never been one to like physical contact for as long as Ori has known her and she appreciates that he remembers that, but this time she finds she doesn’t mind. She gets up and hugs him. “I missed you…” she’s never been good at this, but Orion had become like a father to her in her time here. After a second she lets him go, squinting up at him suspiciously. “You haven’t been getting enough sleep have you?” It wouldn’t surprise her, he has a tendency to overwork himself. It’s a tendency the two share she’s noticed. “Well, I’m sure you have… questions for me. I have some for you too, but since I’m the one that pulled the disappearing act I’ll let you ask first.” Other than that one she already asked that is.

Some of the employees clearly had no idea who Ember was since they were newer but there seemed to be a look of joy on the expression of those who remembered her as Orion had passed them. They probably thinking maybe Ember could mellow him out and if not hopefully she would be staying to counter balance his ever growing bad mood. Though as he saw her he did his best not to let that mood show because he wasn’t upset with her, he was glad to see her and know that she was alright. A small smile pulled at him lips as Ember spoke, Ori, wasn’t something many called him but it was a symbol of their friendship, one which clearly hadn’t been lost over the years. “If I didn’t know you any better I’d think you were a spy.” He teased though he knew the real reason she didn’t want to be tracked and why she ran in the first place. Ember was hunted in a similar way to how he once had before Evermore, but he better than anyone knew how your past could threaten your future. “You had me worried for awhile, until I decided that maybe no news was good news.” Though he had thought of her often and what might have become of her.

Dhampirs had never held any sort of negatives within his mind but the species which created them had, but that was just due to personal experience but he had learned not to judge everyone based on past experiences. Ember had always been kind though and full of life even though her past made it hard for her to trust and allow people close. So the hug was unexpected but welcomed, “I missed you too.” He said softly wrapping his arms around her in a fierce hug. Though at her accusation a make of shock took over, “Oh no, no, no. I wasn’t done being concerned about you yet, you can’t just flip it around on me.” Though it was probably clear that sleep had taken a backseat to everything else in his life.

“Questions is an understatement but I can guess most of it. The most important question is are you alright Ember?” His expression full of concerned since that really was the most important thing to him, everything else could be sorted after he was sure of that one thing. As far as what she might have to ask him, he was an open book so speak in that regard but he appreciated the fact she was allowing him inquisitions first.

Familiar faces aside, Ember would be very surprised to hear that any of them were happy to see her if Orion mentioned it. She was always fairly mellow when she was here before but she had very high standards that she expected to be met and she knows it sometimes chafed the newer employees just how strict she could be. Looking at Orion now she can't read a growing bad mood on his face, even if the exhaustion stands out to her more the longer she looks at him. Despite how happy he seems to see her and knowing why she'd left, the obvious tired eyes drags a bit of guilt back to her throat that she has to fight to tamp down. Her lips turn in an amused grin at his teasing comment and she shakes her head. "I wish, that would be way cooler than the actual reason." Phones make it far too easy to keep track of people, it's why she pays for things with cash instead of a card and typically doesn't use her full name. She knows that if anyone understands those precautions it's Orion. "In this case it was good news... I do owe you a better explanation than I left in that note though." In fact she owes him a lot of explanations, but those will come. No need to jump into the deep end quite yet.

Ember has never denied that she has trust issues, anyone who's been through what she has would, it's something she's still having to work on. That's a big reason why Orion grew to be like a father figure to her, he was always patient with her and didn't hold her past over her head. The tight hug is foreign to her but also comforting and she finds herself smiling, a weight finally lifting from her shoulders. She does make a face at him as he deflects her question but she can't blame him too much for it. "Fine, you have that right... but we are coming back to you not sleeping. I was concerned about you too you know." In her time away she'd thought of everyone back in the city regularly and had to fight the urge to call just to see how they were doing. Only the suspicion that it would draw attention back to them had kept her from doing so, she had to make sure they were out of the line of fire.

Is she alright? That's quite the loaded question. In every way that matters her situation hasn't changed, she's still being hunted, returning to the city was a dangerous move on her part that she's second guessed so much in the short time she's been back, but a large part of her knows now that this is home and she's not willing to give it up again. Her expression shifts pretty rapidly between thoughtful and worried before it settles in a small but reassuring smile. "In every way that matters I'm fine. I lost my tail a while ago and wanted to make sure I'd truly shook them off before coming back. Turns out Germans and Italians don't know the US very well." That worked in her favor, it had slowed them way down and allowed her to get far ahead of them. "I won't lie to you Ori, me coming back means trouble for everyone I care about. They've used people against me before." Not that she's ever lied to him, but she felt that was important to clarify in this case. Any question he has to ask her she'll answer, he deserves that much.

Most of their older employees were currently out working on different projects and the newer ones didn’t know the importance of the redhead moving through the building but they would learn. Given the recent shift in his attitude he was sure they might to see someone else partially in charge. And Orion would enjoy the small chunk of time it craved out for him again. “Ember the Spy, has a nice ring to it don’t you think?” Though they both knew her reason for running rather well but it wasn’t necessary to discuss since he knew it was a part of Ember’s past that she hated. “We all do what we have to for our own survival Ember, I would never fault you for that.” He hadn’t said it yet but soon he would have to go to Nevada to finally put a few things from his own past to rest. It had been a long and hard road to get to this point but it needed to be done before he could fully focus on the future.

There was something about those who were lost that just spoke to Orion, he had been in a dark place himself and felt lost so he understood. The intense protective and paternal nature he had been gifted with didn’t help either since he often took many under his wing so to speak. Even if a few of them had been older than he was. He could feel the hug effected the dhampir who was a bit stiff clearly not use to such actions. “Alright Kid, just glad to have you back.” He said releasing her from his embrace as he frowned slightly at her words, “It’s nothing to be concerned about Ember, I assure you that.” He wasn’t really concerned but the rest of the office might be given the recent changes of his sudden temper which hadn’t been an issue since he was a teen. “You’ll always have a place here and I think you know that.” There was a smile on his lips since he knew that was what brought her back since the girl hadn’t really ever had a true home.

His dark, assessive gaze never left Ember, he was truly concerned about her. However if she had come back that meant she at least something had changed to give her the idea it was a bit safer now. “Well I can understand that since I feel like me as an American would not know my way through Italy and Germany either.” Though he would like to eventually see both places but right now was far from a good time to leave the country. “Oh thank god it’s just trouble, I was thinking it was something actually bad.” He mused as he gave her a supportive smile. “Pack isn’t just a group of Therians Ember and I don’t take mine being threatened lightly.” He stated refering to her since pack had never meant the same to him as it did some alphas. An Alpha was meant to protect all, pack was anyone he cared about no matter the species.

It’s always surprised her a little how easy it is for her to loosen up with Orion, the older Therian just giving off an aura of comfort that she’s sure had to come with raising two kids. He’s the protective sort and she has no doubt he can tell those that sorely need it, he wouldn’t have gone into this line of work otherwise. Because of that it’s not too surprising that she chuckles at his joke when most people would’ve been met with silence. “Hey, if you find out about any secret spy gigs sign me up. I already don’t sleep, might as well eat the rest of my time doing something cool.” She’s struggled with insomnia for years now, but surprisingly looking at her she looks like she’s actually been sleeping pretty well recently. She’s silent for a moment after he mentions not faulting her for running, only to give a small sigh that’s softened by a smile. “It never ceases to amaze me how forgiving you are…” and yet, an explanation is still needed. She meets his eyes, knowing fully well that he’ll probably take this better than she did at the time. “They got in my apartment. Or… whoever they hired did.” After years of staying ahead of them, that had shaken her. Fortunately her cautious nature didn’t allow her to keep much there so they’d gained nothing from the venture except alerting her and putting her on the fast track to leaving.

It strikes her strangely when he lets her go, realizing suddenly that it had been a long time since she’d gotten a hug from anyone. However she’s not so good at the heartfelt stuff anymore so once he releases her she takes a step back to be able to see him better. She knows he wouldn’t lie to her but she’s also come to learn that he has a habit of underselling problems he’s having in an effort not to let anyone worry about him. Another side effect of having kids? She can’t be sure. “Well you know I trust you. If you’re sure it’s nothing to be concerned about then I’ll let it go.” For now. Doesn’t mean she can’t keep an eye on him just in case. Her expression softens at his next comment and she nods, the smile returning to her lips. “I know. It’s what brought me back. There’s just something about this city that drags you back kicking and screaming.”

With things a bit looser now she takes a seat beside him on the desk, making sure not to disturb any papers in the process. “I recommend visiting, they’re beautiful. Great food. Awful dhampir though, stay away from those assholes.” She says it as a joke but there’s an undercut of seriousness to her words. At least the ones in power over there are awful. If she ever returns it will be to kill them and they’re very lucky she hasn’t taken the fight to their doorstep. Only the knowledge that she’s severely outnumbered has kept her from doing so. She does chuckle at his joke, making a face at him because she had been serious before but she appreciates the cut to the tension. “I know you don’t. I think that’s something everyone appreciates about you. Just… be careful, okay? Anyway, other than me being alright - which I am - what else have you got for me? Come on, it’s been two years I know you’ve got something.” She really does appreciate the concern, but now that she’s back she doesn’t want him to feel he has to worry about her so much.

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