Tonight was the night. Sariah had spent the past few days since her last meeting with Orion pondering over everything, wondering what tonight was going to be like, of all the things she might learn about him and what she might even reveal about herself. It was weird to think about this being their first date considering all of the things they had been through together and the depth that her feelings ran, first dates were usually the ice breakers and figuring out if there was any kind of connection but this one, this one was different, which only added to the nerves that were piling on.

Sariah's apartment was cosy, despite being the leader of the organization she wasn't paid half as much as she could have been had she chosen to go down either a more corporate or a more illegal route. It was however enough to keep her comfortable and in her opinion, it was decorated nicely. The blonde had spent the past few hours getting ready bit by bit, mostly by pacing back and forth between her room and the living area to prepare everything. Sariah was somewhat of a serial planner, her mind liked to stress over every little detail she was sure most people didn't even notice.

The ambassador was dressed in a dark orange loose fitting dress which moved easily around her, she opted not to bother with shoes since they didn't intend on going out anywhere and Sariah didn't think any sane girl would wear heels around their apartment by choice. Her blonde hair was curled and framing her face in a half updo that was mostly to keep her hair out of her eyes while still looking like she made more than and effort than her usual ponytail and her glasses were tucked away neatly in the dresser replaced with the contact lenses she saved for special occasions.

Once she was happy with her outfit she had called ahead to the Chinese place and ordered a bunch of food to be delivered, not knowing what Orion's preference was she had just picked a range of different dishes and some bases to ensure there was something he would like. On the table she had set two plates and glasses as well as a few bottles of different things to drink. It wasn't often that Sariah really had any visitors to her apartment so she had enjoyed the opportunity to dig out all of the housewarming gifts she had been given when she moved to Evermore and finally allow them to see the light of day.

Sariah had so far done pretty well at not panicking about the part that she was really nervous about, after all, this would be where they figure out whether the feelings that were blossoming between the two of them are something they want to pursue and while Orion had been confident they would have a second date, Sariah was still apprehensive about the answers she might get to the questions she had. After all, this wouldn't be the kind of date where they talked about the weather or at least she hoped it wouldn't because she had so much more to say than that.

Her spiral of thoughts was interrupted by the sound of the doorbell ringing and her eyes widened for a moment before she made a quick dash around the room to grab matches and light the candle on the mantlepiece. Coming to a stop she set she box down on the table and then smoothed down her dress and took a deep breath before she walked over to the entrance hall and reached for the handle to open the door. Stepping around the door she glanced down at her watch for a moment and smiled as she looked up to meet his gaze "On time" she confirmed with a gentle laugh stepping aside to invite him inside.

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It was Saturday, he knew it was Saturday and yet it seemed surreal that the day had finally come especially after everything which had lead to this point. As much as the Therianthrope Ambassador would like to say he was calm, collected and confident that was far from the truth as he stared at the clothes in his closet having no idea what to wear as his hair dried from his shower. Even though a small voice in the back of his head told him that his attire didn’t matter he didn’t believe that. Yes he and Sariah had seen one another countless times but you couldn’t just go into a date wearing just anything or at least that was what his daughter told him. Were jeans too casual? Were slacks too formal? Why was he even questioning this after dressing himself for the majority of his life? Simple, even though he didn’t need to impress Sariah he still wanted her to know he made an effort.

Finally coming to a decision he dressed in a pair of nice, dark jeans and a blue button down shirt with long sleeves that he had rolled up at the cuffs along with being loosely tucked into his jeans and held in place with a black leather belt. It was a good mix of casual and a bit of formal without being suit and tie. This wasn’t a business meeting and he didn’t want it to feel that way by over dressing since he was going to do his best not to mess up the opportunity she was offering him with this date. Tying his polished dress shoes he gathered his wallet, phones and keys before heading out of his home far earlier than the agreed upon time since he had a few stops to make first.

The longest of which was at a local flower shop since you didn’t go to someone’s house let alone a date without a gift or two. The woman who owned the shop was giving him a headache as she explained what each flower meant as she tried to help him decide to what to take to Sariah. There were so many more flowers than he could ever guess. Finally deciding on a bouquet of mixed sunflowers since adoration and loyalty seemed rather fitting and the vibrancy of the flowers themselves did remind him of Sariah. Getting back to the car he placed the flowers carefully in the passenger seat with the rest of the items he had already picked up. Placing Sariah’s address into the GPS on his phone he nodded to himself knowing that he would make it to her place in time.

The drive wasn’t a very long one and he did his best not to overthink the night to come. That was far easier said than done as he turned on the radio to take his mind off of what was to come. It was easy to be confident at The Organization headquarters but it was not so easy now that he was heading towards Sariah’s apartment where they would be alone with no interruptions or gossiping co-workers. Orion found himself singing along to the radio as he pulled up to the apartment building that Sariah had given him as her address. Checking the clock he was still a little early so he checked his reflection in the small mirror of his visor.

Getting out of the car he moved to the passenger side of the car and grabbed a bottle of pineapple wine that he may have asked one of Sariah’s co-workers about, along with the bouquet of sunflowers. His nervousness was beginning to set in once more and he had to push it aside and hold onto the confidence he had felt a few days ago. This would either be a night for the books in a good or bad way but he had the feeling it would be a hard night to forget. This was probably the first actually important date Orion had been on in over ten years since after being with the same person for so long dates were more a routine than anything else and so you could spend time with one another especially when you had kids.

Heading towards the door he stood there a moment gaining his courage before ringing the doorbell and waiting as he heard her moving around inside. After a moment the door opened and Orion smile his jaw going slack at the semi-formal dress she was wearing which flattered her in every way. “You look gorgeous.” He said shaking himself from the momentary stupor. “I come barring gifts.” He stated as he raised the bottle and bouquet of sunflowers. Stepping inside of the apartment he was overwhelmed by her scent which clung to the whole apartment in a warm way. “I do aim to be on time though I think we both know I don’t always make it.” Everything within the apartment screamed Sariah and even though he should be second guessing himself at the moment that alone seemed to calm him. “You have a really nice place.”

The moment she opened the door her eyes met his and she saw the look which crossed his expression which caused her to dip her head a little averting her gaze a little embarrassed as she took in how handsome he looked, of course that had never escaped her attention in the past “Oh this old thing” she spoke the cliche line and then laughed “No I’m just kidding, I literally turned over my closet three times over deciding what I should wear” she chuckled shaking her head and smiled “You clean up pretty well yourself” she responded as he offered out the gifts.

The blonde’s eyes first trained over the sunflowers which brought a smile to her face, she loved bright colors, they made her feel happy and energetic which was probably why the majority of her clothes were of the same caliber. Taking them in her arms she was thinking about where she might want to put them before her eyes moved to the other gift and she gasped for a moment “How did you…?” she asked the question before answering it in her head “Holland” she added with a shake of her head and a wry smirk “I swear that girl will meddle in anything” she teased though she was grateful because she truly did love pineapple wine. “These are beautiful, thank you” she finished brightly.

As they moved inside she closed the door behind them with her elbow very aware she needed to put the things she was holding down. “I’ve gotten used to our unorthodox meetings, this almost feels strange” she chuckled softly “But only almost”. Leading the way into the living area Sariah headed over to one of the cabinets taking out a vase and then proceeded to remove the paper from the bouquet and then not so perfectly arrange the flowers in a bright spray. She set them down on the mantelpiece. In response to his compliment she smiled “Well it was the first place I really got to myself” she explained and shrugged “Shared apartment in college didn't exactly have much opportunity for decorating so when I got this place I went on a one woman interior design spree” she laughed softly “So thanks for noticing” she followed up with a wink.

Sariah gestured for Orion to make himself at home as she sat down on the couch setting the wine he had given her on the table next to all the other drinks she had lined up like a small bar “Well I don’t know about you, but I could really use a drink right now” she laughed as she raised one of her hands for a moment to show that it was a little shaky, she didn’t really know what she had to be nervous about considering that her and Orion had been through much more difficult situations before but now this was really happening it felt very real and a little daunting for her.

Sariah picked up the wine opener from the table and opened it before pouring some into her glass and then looking up at Orion to determine if he wanted some or something else. Naturally as she looked at him her eyes traced over one of the many new scars he had gained since everything had gone down with Elijah. Taking a gentle breath as she sipped some of her wine she tilted her head a little as her attention was then taken by the tattoos which protruded the parts of his arms and neck that weren’t covered “Is there a story behind the tattoos?” she asked curiously, well she had asked to talk and so she might as well get the questions rolling early.

Sariah was always beautiful in an adorable way that was all her own. There was never a time when her attired was dull or colorless since she was like the flowers he had brought, bright, colorful and full of life. She stretched towards the sun and brought so much life into his darkened state and changed him. A smile curved his lips at her comment about her dress as she tried to be cute and casual speaking a line he was sure many before her had spoken. “Old or new, it seems to be made for you.” Though he didn’t bother to admit exactly how long he had spent worrying over his attire since he wasn’t well versed on fashion or date outfits. “I can put in the effort from time to time though mostly on special occasions and I believe this qualifies.”

It was good to see the smile on Sariah’s face and his choices seemed to be have been wise ones. Since Orion had spent a lot of time going back and forth on what to bring but he had went with what he thought were the two best options. As she questioned how he knew he tried to shrug his shoulders and play it off but Sariah seemed to link together who let it slip. “Some of those in The Organization seem to have an odd interest in the two of us and might have let slip more than they should.” He admitted though he knew Holland had Sariah’s best interests at heart. “At least you know her meddling is done with admiration.” He stated with a wide smile.

A chuckle left him at Sariah’s comment about this almost being strange, “It is a little out of the norm for us to have such a normal and scheduled meeting. Especially outside of The Organization headquarters, but at least one of us isn’t near death for it to happen.” He said as he spoke of Sariah’s one and only visit to his home so far. Orion did his best not to awkwardly follow her so instead, stood in the living room attempting not to feel out of place in Sariah’s home. It was rare for the home of a single individual to reflect their personality so well, or maybe that was just Orion’s home. “You’ve definitely made it your own in the best possible way.” As she thanked him for noticing he muttered under his breath, “I noticed everything about you.” Before using a louder tone, “You’re welcome, I can appreciate interior design even if I can’t manage it to save my life.”

It was clear they were both a little nervous despite this being far from their first interaction. Everything leading up to this had been light or held an air of professionalism to it but there was nothing professional about tonight. It was about getting to truly know one another and dropping the fears of how they might truly be seen. “I wouldn’t turn down a drink to be honest. It’s been…a very long time since I’ve been on a date or dared open myself up. I can’t see a drink hurting.” If anything it might very well help. He sat down across from Sariah wanting to maintain eye contact more than being overly close to her at the moment.

A small nod left him at the silent offer of sharing the bottle of wine. It wasn’t something he was accustomed to drinking but he was intrigued by the idea of pineapple wine. Soft and keen eyes trailed over him and he could tell she was really looking for the first time not having to worry about what was proper in a professional environment. “These?” He asked motioning towards the ones that covered his bicep, up his shoulder and ended across half way up his neck. At her small nod he unbuttoned the top few buttons and pulled the fabric a bit to the side for her to better see them. “Pack tattoos. The one that starts at the lower end of my bicep was the mark of my family pack. It morphed once my parents and then brothers were killed.” He said moving the fabric so she could see the shift in it as it moved and flowed up his arm in a tribal like design that mixed paw prints and the Kitsune tail symbol, “Then of course the Evermore City pack tattoo.” He said to the flow of the top part of his shoulder to his neck. “It isn’t required for the tattoo to be so large but I’m proud of what I am and where I come from.” And it was almost a memorial to what had been that lead him to be the leader he was today but he hadn’t thought of it that way at the time.

In response to his compliment she swayed a little from side to side and smiled softly, it was nice when someone noticed an effort you made, especially when that person’s opinions had come to matter to you far more than you ever expected them to. Sariah laughed softly at his comment about special occasions “Oh it’s nothing, only over a year in the making” she teased with a bright smile, it was almost hard to believe the two of them had met over a year ago, time moved way faster than she had ever expected and what had started as a childish crush suddenly felt so much more real now this night was finally happening.

Sariah was a sucker for gifts, by no means was she the kind of person who fussed over most materialistic things, shoes being a massive exception to that rule but she loved when others put in effort to brighten her day and she did her best to return the favor whenever she could. “By odd, you mean literally following us around the halls on the off chance they might hear something they shouldn’t” she clarified with a smirk twitching at her lips. She knew that whole part was going to be complicated, especially as Sariah was naturally wary of the way social expectations had impact on relationships. Holland however was one of Sariah’s closest friends and someone she trusted to keep her mouth shut until the blonde was ready. “I’m surprised you managed to win her over” she stated knowing how protective her friend was, it probably came with a lecture “Colour me impressed”.

Now they were inside and alone she could feel the nerves bubble up a little, a little worried that what she imagined could work out really well might only be that, the wild running of her imagination. Sariah could feel her heartbeat in her chest drumming faster than it normally would, of course it was nothing compared to the terror she had felt the night he had almost died, but it was significant all the same. For over 5 years now Sariah had lived alone and though she had been through a few online dates, for the most part she had become content with being alone, her apartment was a reflection of that life she had rebuilt for herself, purging memories of her last toxic relationship by making her home so far from the one she had back in college helped her feel like she had moved on. Sariah barely caught his muttered words but hearing them caused a blush to creep up over her cheeks for a moment, it was still strange for her to believe that he felt the same level of connection she did to him.

Sariah was mostly scared that once the truth was fully on the table that one of them might not like the picture underneath. The blonde had braced herself for a lot when it came to Orion’s backstory, she knew he had a wife and that he had lost her but she didn’t know the full story. She also had to come to terms with the fact that he was a therianthrope alpha and that role brought a certain line of immorality that she would have to stomach. The blonde however figured that alcohol would help to burn the edge of her nerves off and give her the confidence to share some of her story with him too, to help him understand why it was so hard for her to trust others regardless of whether they had done anything to make her believe she couldn’t or not. As she poured the drinks she was glad he had sat across from her so that she could see his reactions to the things she spoke, he had an unfair advantage after all considering therians could sense emotional changes. “If it’s any consolation, some of the stuff I told you while you were” she waved her arms in the air not really knowing the polite way to put it “Out of it” she decided on before continuing “Were things I haven’t really spoken to anyone about” not in a personal sense anyway.

Once her drink was made she naturally lifted it to her lips and sipped down some of the sweet tasting liquid. Her eyes however were on him as he reacted to her question, Sariah had been curious about his tattoos since the moment they had met, they were after all, pretty hard to miss and at first she had found them a little intimidating, now however, she was fascinated as she leaned forward listening to his explanation. Her eyes moved slowly following the tribal type patterns that intertwined to tell the story of his life as a therianthrope. She was in awe as she listened to his every word, tattoos were personal for her and seemingly for him too, even if he was a little braver with the size of his. “You should be, I couldn’t even imagine you being any different from the way you are” she responded without much thought, being who you were was so incredibly important nowadays, for a while in her life she had been anything but herself and it had slowly stripped away all the parts of herself she loved, it had taken her a long time to find and accept those again.

“I uh…” she spoke up again as she turned slightly to the side where she was sitting “I have a tattoo too” it was only the one, considering she was and continued to be, afraid of needles. Pulling back the strap of her dress a little she revealed the inked word “Stronger” on her upper left shoulder.

A deep chuckle left him since Sariah was right, they two had met over a year ago and been dancing around one another ever since. Attempting to keep things professional and be the back bone with own species needed. Now they were finally giving themselves a chance to see what might be between them since there was obviously something, a something which had been growing beneath the surface for over a year and refused to let up no matter how much he had tried to ignore it and her. “Sounds like a bit of a special occasion to me. A special occasion of two stubborn people finally willing to take a chance.” He said with humor dancing in his eyes. It was easy to think back to the night they first met, he hadn’t really seen her up close before the blinding incident. What he remembered the most from that night was her scent since that was what he had to focus on while blind and it was something which wrapped around him now.

“That is one definition of odd and seems to be what most do when I’m at the headquarters with you. Though I’m not sure what they’re expecting to get glimpse of other than something to substantiate the rumors going around.” Rumors which weren’t just going around The Organization but the city as a whole which made him feel weird since he was a private person. He didn’t need the opinions of others trying to color or change his perspective of a person and that was what the media tended to do. Though as she spoke of Holland it had honestly surprised him as well but she seemed to find his lost puppy expressions when Sariah wasn’t looking to be rather endearing. That and she swore countless ways of making him suffer should he hurt her friend. “I think this is more of a trial period than a full on win. We’ll see how helpful she’s feeling after tonight.” He jested hoping that he was able to do right by Sariah, not because of Holland’s threats but because he had grown to care for her deeply.

There was a lot in his past that was questionable at best and it made him all the more anxious about having this conversation. He didn’t want to lose this before it became anything but at the same time he would never lie to Sariah either, anything she asked he would answer. No matter how dangerous that answer may be to the fragile bond and connection they shared now. Taking the glass of wine he brought it to his lips trying to calm himself a degree. “I remember some of it but I think we both can agree I wasn’t exactly myself that night.” It had been one of the worst nights of his life and even though Sariah could have left him to handle it on his own, she stayed and helped him through it. “You didn’t have to stay that night and you did and I will always remember that. You being the first thing I saw when I woke up reminded me I was still alive and that if I let this slip through my fingers without even trying I really would regret it.” He admitted, “I was grateful to have you there even though I knew you were still incredibly pissed at me for the decision I made.”

It was the first time since receiving his faction tattoo for Evermore City that he had showed and explained the whole thing to another person. The original ink from his first pack tattoo dull in comparison to the newest one which was similar to the memories of that timeframe which were beginning to fade as well. He watched as Sariah looked it over, she had seen it the ice of the ice bath but he had the feeling that was the farthest thing from her mind at that moment. “Everything in life forms us and changes us no matter if it’s for better or for worse. The things that should break us sometimes making us stronger for surviving.” If Orion hadn’t come to Evermore he knew his life would have taken a very different course and he likely would have allowed the rage to take over killing vampires indiscriminately. “We all loss ourselves from time to time and this reminds me that no matter what I’ve been through, I’m still here and some aren’t so I have a duty to myself and to them to live.” He might had lost himself many times throughout the years but he always managed to find his way back and seemed to be the stronger for it.

Pulling his shirt back closed he buttoned it once more and readjusted it on his person. His brow rose as she spoke of having a tattoo as well. Orion found himself swallowing as Sariah moved the strap of her dress reading the word inked onto her skin. From the first night they had met Orion had considered her to be a very strong individual since she had taken a huge risk at the event in order to protect herself. “Is it a reminder or a promise?” He asked intrigued since to some it could be seen as being today than you were yesterday or it could have been done as a promise to become stronger for some reason. Though with Sariah it held a meaning all its own and he was curious to find that out.

Sariah had to admit that when she had first met Orion that night at the event, she wouldn’t have even been able to imagine that this is where they would end up. Back then she had been in doubt about whether she would really have feelings for anyone again and then he had come along and changed her perspective, it was slow, little changes as she slowly found herself more and more drawn to him. Now Sariah couldn’t imagine feeling any other way than how she did. Hearing his words she naturally responded “Hey I am not stu….” she trained the words off before she started laughing because that is exactly what someone who was stubborn would say “Okay guilty” she answered with a shake of her head.

“Who even knows what goes through their minds” the blonde mused in response to his words before her lips twitched in an amused smile “They can speculate what they want” she stated as she tilted her head to the side “They don’t know anything about the truth and they wouldn’t understand anyway” she was still confused by her own feelings, let alone what other people wanted to fabricate. Sariah was also by no means in a rush to take anything public, one date was a start but this was the beginning and neither of them had any clue where this would go just yet. His words about Holland however, sounded spot on, her friend wasn’t the kind of person you pissed off and Sariah could imagine the countless threats she had probably made. Sariah however groaned a little “Guess who’s going to get quizzed endlessly at work on Monday” her serious expression however turned to a chuckle, she couldn’t be mad at him for seeking out help and at least he’d gone to someone she could trust.

Sariah knew this had potential to go both ways, she knew there could be things she didn’t want to hear, she however had hope that she could hold an open mind, he had done more than that when he’d come for her help on the rogue therianthropes, the least she could offer was the same level of understanding and trust. When he spoke about that night Sariah went quiet, it had been one of the worst she had ever experienced, she hadn’t even realized quite how much until she was right in the middle of it, it had taken a lot of her energy to even be able to keep herself together. “It’s probably better than you don’t remember most of my awkward babbling” she admitted reaching up to fix a strand of hair that had escaped. His words however caused her heart to flutter a little in her chest “I wanted to stay” she admitted her tone serious “Being there that night made everything so unbelievably clear, it didn’t matter how mad I was or how much I told myself moving on was better, I uh..” she took a pause “Somehow always find my way back to you” she had stayed because for her own sanity she needed to know he was okay, see with her own eyes that he had made it through the worst.

Sariah had always been fascinated by other people’s tattoos, she felt they said a lot about a person, to choose to have something permanently placed on your skin meant it resonated on a personal level and Orion had so many of them. The way he explained it made so much sense to her, after he had lost so much she was sure a permanent reminder was part of the healing process for him, documented the good and bad parts of his life. She thought they looked amazing, especially the way they curved over the lean muscle on his chest and upper arms. She cut that thought off right where it began trying to focus on his words though her eyes kept drifting “They’re incredibly you” she surmised her thoughts and smiled, his tattoos were as much a part of him as was his stubbornness.

Next it was her turn to show off her one and only tattoo. It was uncommon for a member of the organization to not have a Yin Yang symbol but Sariah had instead opted to wear a pendant as her tribute to the organization consider her first experience with getting a tattoo had been more than enough to put her off for life. Upon his question she pondered it before she went to answer “It’s” she paused considering it “a little of both I suppose” she answered with a gentle smile “I think when I first got it, it was more of a line in the sand, my acknowledgement of moving my life forward” she answered and nodded “But now it’s an ever present reminder and promise, everyday you live on and you become stronger for it” she laughed knowing it sounded a little cheesy.

Her laugh was interrupted by the sound of the doorbell and she suddenly remembered that the food delivery was due. “Perfect timing” she spoke as she took one last sip of her drink before setting it down and walking towards the door to answer it.

As Sariah began to dispute the stubborn comment his brow rose. It wasn’t insult after all it was merely an observation since they were both stubborn which could be a positive or negative character attribute depending on the situation. The Therian Ambassador found himself nodding as Sariah gave in admitted the truth that they both already knew though it did cause him to chuckle. Though as the conversation shifted to those she worked with that chuckle continued even though it really wasn’t all that funny. “I truly shutter to think since I’m sure the reality of it is far different.” He would after all have to be blind and deaf not to see or hear the rumors which were going around. Rumors of them being much more than they were. “I’m not even sure I understand it.” He answered honestly since matters of the heart and attraction were far from easy to explain. At her question of who would be quizzed he couldn’t help but smile, “Then lets hope this goes well since I’d hate for some of those threats to become a reality.”

Orion hoped that things would have a positive outcome but he knew how many factors and variables went into that. He trusted Sariah in a way he had been unwilling to trust anyone since coming to Evermore City but that in itself wasn’t enough to insure a future. “I remember the sound of your voice, the scent of your fear and panic as you were unsure if I would survive. Not many have ever worried over me like that.” At least not people who weren’t related to him. It had given him something to hold on to and a reason to continue fighting which he had done and he made it out on the other side alive. A huge smile pulled across his lips at Sariah’s confession since he knew he had messed up and the last thing he had wanted was for their final encounter to have ended as bittersweet as the meeting in her office that day. “I learned that night I could give you time and space but I couldn’t walk away not like that, not without trying.”

To have allowed things to be left how they were Orion would have always wondered what if, which is why he didn’t let up, when she needed time and space he gave it to her. And them slyly wormed his way back in like any intelligent fox and despite the opinion most held he could be rather sly when necessary. Though his thoughts didn’t distract him from the fact that Sariah’s never left him as they trailed over his inked flesh his marks something he held close to his heart. It was amusing when every time she tried to focus her eyes returned to his tattoos and he couldn’t help but laugh. “That they are. With the noticeable edges of it I think most assume I have more tattoos than I do. Granted I have a few on my other arm to level it out.” It was still rather uneven in the size and sheer magnitude of them but he didn’t mind that so much. Those he might show her another time since often many had no idea what they were despite the tribute to his brother’s they were meant to be.

Orion had half expected to see her Yin Yang tattoo but it didn’t seem like she had one which he didn’t judge her for since it was a personal choice. He watched her expression change upon his question and it clear she had to think on it for a moment, though he had asked a rather straightforward question that probably wasn’t thought on often. The stories of the tattoos of others always intrigued him especially when it was someone he cared about. Orion’s feathers were soft as he listened as she spoke, her words only causing him to want to know more but if she had wanted to tell that story she would have. “The tattoo itself it beautiful script but the meaning behind it makes it all the more beautiful. Often people aren’t born strong, life either crushes them or makes them stronger and it’s a good promise and reminder. You’ve become an incredibly strong woman sticking to your beliefs and not allowing anyone to pull you from them.”

As the doorbell rang he tilted his head slightly listening, he knew it was likely unnecessary but he was always on guard. Besides he didn’t want the night to be ruined by an uninvited guest opposed to the food delivery. His children both told him all the time he was over protective but after losing so much it make it hard to allow those you cared about out of your eye sight being afraid of never seeing them again.  

Sariah wasn’t the kind of person who could just block out the things she heard around her and she heard them loud and clear, they speculated both of their pasts, they raised concerns about how he was too old for her, it was lucky that she had come to a place in her life where she cared little for the opinion of others, or at least those who weren’t important enough to consider. “Something tells me we’re not going to be able to hide from them forever” as nice as it would be to just keep everyone out of this and it just be her and him, who they were in society was always going to play a role, whether they liked it or not. She laughed when he echoed the very thought she had in her mind “Me neither” she answered with a smile “But I know being around you makes me happier” she answered honestly, or at least when he wasn’t making stupid decisions that almost got him killed anyway.

Sariah had to admit she was a little surprised over the his statement, sure Orion could be a little intimidating at first but once you got one level deeper than his scary alpha presence he was actually a really kind and caring person, it was one of the things she liked most about him. “I kinda find that hard to imagine” she answered with a laugh “Surely someone who looks like” he waved her hands in the air searching for the words “That” she added knowing she sounded a little ridiculous “Would have had a whole cult following back when he was younger” she was teasing for most part, but she also couldn’t imagine that he had escaped attention either. Sariah was a little embarrassed by the things she just seemed to spill when she was with him but the grin on his lips helped to ease her mind, if he thought he was bad at dating he really should have seen some of her miserable attempts at flirting. Her expression softened in response to the words he spoke however “I’m glad you didn’t” she answered knowing she had been the first one to walk away.

Sariah had been ready to draw a line then and she would have gone through it, or at least she thought that. Now however, she was glad that she had given him another chance, even if her best judgements told her she was setting herself up for disaster. Sariah liked the look of Orion’s tattoos, they were bold and very large but at the same time, meaningful and intricate. Though she couldn’t stop her eyes from wandering more than they probably should along the bare skin of his chest. That night she had of course had the full view but her mind had been too far into overdrive to step back and appreciate the view. When he spoke again she moved back however trying not to be so obvious about what she had been doing. “Really they’re just absolutely giant” she answered with a chuckle “Bet they took a lot of hours to finish” she commented before shuddering a little at the thought of having a needle against her skin for several hours at a time.

Her tattoo however was over and done with in the space about an hour and not a second too soon as she had to run to the bathroom afterwards. Sariah knew she was being vague about her story but it was simply because it wasn’t the kind of thing you just dragged up, especially before they’d even gotten to the food, though she had a feeling she would be elaborating before the night was through. “Exactly” she had responded to his thoughts on her tattoo her hand naturally touching her fingertips against the inked area as he spoke. Putting the strap back in it’s rightful place she smiled gently “Thanks” she spoke softly “Sometimes it’s really nice to be reminded of just how far you’ve come” she nodded a little, she hadn’t always been as confident in the person she was as she came across now, it had taken her years of rebuilding herself to be where she was today.

Making her way to the door Sariah pulled the door open greeting the delivery man taking the food in her arms before passing him a few bills as a tip and waving him a goodbye. Closing the door behind her she made her way into the lounge onces more peering around the mountain of food she was holding “Okay I may have over ordered” she admitted with a laugh before she looked around trying to figure out how she was going to handle all this “Uh, any chance you can take the ones that are above my head?” she laughed softly doing her best to stay balanced.

Rumors were something he had always hated since many had followed him throughout high school. That was somewhat because of his hard headedness and partially because of his family. After all he lived in the shadow of two over achieving brothers which didn’t make things the easiest for him. But not being a grown adult and having people talk about you was something else altogether. He had heard the whispers and mostly he just rolled his eyes since they had no idea about anything. Though their judgement was completely unnecessary when this was all hard enough for him. “It would be a lot easier if we could but you right. Besides hiding has never been in my nature but it would be nice to have a little time to acclimate away from the eyes of the public for a bit. With both of our positions that seems a bit much to ask for unfortunately.” Orion’s only hope was that others wouldn’t ruin this for them before it had really begun. Society and the general public played a big role in everyone’s life even if they didn’t realize it, add in the fact that both had the weight of their own species on their shoulders it made things ever more difficult. It was nice to have the chance to be open and honest with each other without the possibility of someone walking in or them or overhearing, “Me too and honestly it’s been awhile since I’ve really been happy or even considered it.” Especially with the state his life had been in previously.

“When you’re part of a pack which keep dwindling because you put the lives of others above your own. In high school I was a bit of a ass and maybe a little manipulative until my other brother Perseus gave me a good kick in the rear.” Perseus or Percy had been the oldest of the three brothers and the most responsible and respectable. Perseus, Aries and Orion all being named after constellations in the night sky depending on what could easily be seen at the time of their birth. “When everyone you know is put in danger when they get to close to you, you tend to keep a very small circle of friends and family. There…aren’t many of them left.” Which was why he had been so intent on keeping Tansy safe. “So the last time I really dated with the intention of getting close to someone was….” He trailed off as he mentally did the math, “Let’s just say it’s been longer than you’ve been alive. So a little rusty to say the least.” He said with a chuckle, “I’m glad I didn’t either though this whole thing is a bit daunting for me.” He answered honestly.

Orion tended to be a master of his own self-destruction and he was doing his best for that not to be the cause with Sariah. Even though it had taken him more time that he would have liked to finally get Destiny to fall for him he had been persistent. Once again he knew it was going to take time since there was a lot the two still needed to learn about one another, a few issues they might need to ease into with both of their pasts. More than anything he wanted to know exactly what had brought Sariah into The Organization in the first place. Every passion came from somewhere and she was more than passionate about her job. His need to protect others came from a life time of training and learning from his family and them losing almost all of them, he knew where his own passion for this alliance came from and he knew why he did what he did, Sariah not so much and that was a mystery he would like to solve. As she looked and spoke of his tattoos he smiled with a bit of a chuckle, “They are giant and in total if I had to add all the hours they probably added to about ten to twelve hours. Couple of hours per sitting but as I’m sure you know I’m used to pain and needles are the least of my problems.” Though he could understand that no everyone liked that feeling or idea of needles running across the skin.

The fact that despite the fact that Sariah was wary of needles and still got a tattoo was impressive. The feeling wasn’t necessarily one he was fond of but he did like the outcome of the hours sitting. “The other arm didn’t take as many hours since it’s less intricate but meaningful all the same. Tattoos are full of personal meaning and the full meaning is only known to those who wear them.” Even in explanation it was often lacking since it was hard to convey the personal meaning associated with each piece of inked flesh. “Nice to be reminded of how far you’ve come and sometimes to be reminded of exactly how far you can go.”

Noticing that the delivery person in fact a delivery person he relaxed knowing they weren’t in any sort of danger which was all he wanted. There were after all a thousand ways this night could go and without outside interference would be nice. As the door closed he stood in order to help Sariah as she tried to hold onto and juggle the mountain of food that went well over her head. A deep and rumbling chuckle left him at the very sight of it which was priceless. “At least take away tends to keep because there is no way even with my hunger of legend that we can eat all that.” Chuckling some more he carefully grabbed the ones over her eye level so she could at least see, without unbalancing the whole delicate juggling affect she had going. “The fact that you managed to hold all of that at once was rather impressive.” He said carrying the containers to where she motioned and placing them down. “What did you do? Order one of everything on the menu?” He jested.

As easy as it was to wish that tonight was simply just about Sariah and Orion at the very core, Sariah wasn’t so naive to ignore the fact that the human and therian ambassador would have just as much of a role in this relationship. Sariah didn’t want to start something here that she would have conflict about down the line because of who they were in society, Orion was far too important to her to lead him on like that. She had asked for this date because they needed time to figure out whether they could bring the walls all the way down or not and as scared as she was for his reaction, she knew she wouldn’t be the first one to hold back. “Whether we want to or not, we have to figure out what all this will mean outside these walls too” she knew neither of them wanted to hear it but she didn’t know how she could keep on playing the charade they did in public. It wasn’t news to anyone that they made one another happy, she was sure that was what most people saw when they looked at one another and where most of the rumors were sparked “It feels weird to say it out loud” she admitted a laughed “Almost like something is gonna fall from the sky and crush it” not literally of course but she felt the fear like he did, that once this was real, it was only a matter of time before life found a way to break it, she supposed she was a pessimist that way, ingrained from previous experience.

Sariah tilted her head a little as he mentioned his brother, he had spoken about his brothers as a collective before but he’d never referenced them in name “Perseus” she repeated with a gentle smile recognizing the same as being another constellation from the night sky. Sariah thought the names were really fitting, representative of them being warriors of the night. She however quietened as the story turned darker, Orion had always mentioned his brother’s in past tense but she hadn’t known how to ask more about what happened. She could understand his natural protective nature when he explained it that way, the more you lost the more you clung to the things you still had and the more paranoid you became about the possibility of losing them. “I’m sorry you lost them” she saw through most of what he was skirting around to the truth, her eyes showed sincerity and a little sadness, Sariah never had any siblings so perhaps she didn’t understand that bond but family was everything to Orion and she hurt for him thinking about what he must have lost over the years. He did however turn the conversation a little brighter at the end which brought a smile to her lips “I think we’re both feeling that fear” she admitted honestly, it wasn’t easy for her to let people in either, though her reasons were far different. “But I’ll do my best to let it go if you will” she proposed with a shrug of her shoulders, the only thing they had to fear was losing each other and she knew without the full truth out on the table, that would happen anyway.

Sariah knew that until now she had been pretty evasive with the past she had endured, most of that was because she hated the idea of feeling weak and lot of those moments in her life had been where she was at her lowest, she didn’t always like the person she had been back then. Talking about Noel was a whole different issue on it’s own, every one of her insecurities sparked from that relationship, he was the reason she doubted people when they gave her no reason to and why she usually ran before anything got serious, he had caused permanent damage to her and she could never bring back the innocent girl she was before him and reliving that terrified her. She was glad that the subject pulled her from those thoughts giving her a chance to breathe, though the shudder which came over her body as she imagined sitting for hours at a time with needles poking into her skin said all she needed to say about her thoughts on tattoos “Rather you than me” she admitted with a laugh.

“I feel like the things people choose to get permanently marked on their body tell you a lot about who they are” she admitted her reasoning for asking the question, though she had to admit that getting the chance to really look was an added bonus. Distracted by the doorbell the blonde had gotten up and then returned with the small mountain of food, she hadn’t pictured it looking like so much when she ordered it. She laughed at his jests shaking her head a little the blush creeping over her cheeks a little embarrassed by her overestimation. Once he took the higher boxes she could see properly once more and moved to set them down on the table lining them up, to her luck, the take out place had written on the lids what was contained in each box.

“Well” she chuckled as she set down the final box “I thought ordering lots of half portions would mean having a lot of choice” she admitted and then shook her head “May have forgotten how big even half portions are” she laughed raising her hands to her face so she could hide behind them while she got her composure once more. “Well at least you know for sure there’s something you’ll like” she teased as she lowered her hands as the scent of the food surrounded her and she realized how incredibly hungry she actually was. “Right, let's see if we can at least make half a dent” she shook her head before picking up the plate on her side of the table and opening a few of the boxes serving different things that looked good on her plate before she settled back down on the couch.

It would be much easier if they could just hide behind these walls and pretend the rest of the world didn’t exist for a time that would be nice. However the problem was that wasn’t reality, they couldn’t only exist in this world of their own because they had responsibilities to others and to themselves. It would be a disservice to them both to pretend this was all there was in life when it was necessary to make peace with their entire existence together. Both Orion and Sariah and the Therian and Human Ambassador the people and position, the past and the present. “I know but I’d like for us to take that all in strides this is after all just a first step.” A first step which would show them if there was a possible future for them both in public and out of the public eye. It was becoming harder and harder to pretend to be just professionals. A charade and a façade that neither was good at maintaining anymore and he didn’t feel they should have to. “I’m sure we can protect our happiness but it won’t be an easy task with so many trying to manipulate it.” Or crush it as she so eloquently put it.

“My parents had an odd fascination with the constellations, it probably had something to do with Therians being so in tune to the cycles of the moon and the celestial energy that it holds over us.” Really he could only speculate since his parents had never really given him a clear answer on it. “Perseus, Aries and Orion. The hero, the ram, or the hardheaded as my mom liked to call him, and the hunter.” He said naming all of his brothers. Each having left their mark on the Therian world in their own way, Perseus more than the rest. “Perseus being the eldest fell first, a very nasty and intentional message to my family, it nearly broke us.” Though instead it enraged his family and caused them to fight harder. Aries had died only a year or two before Destiny and had been the final hit to his brother’s his parents passing not long after from the stress and heartache of their lives. “I’m sorry I lost them too but they lived the lives they wanted and I have two strong nephews to show for that.” He didn’t like to talk about the way he had lost them because it was still raw even after all these years. “My brothers were everything to me, my best friends and at times my worst enemies but I can’t imagine what my life would have been without them.” As she spoke of them both feeling that fear he nodded, “We both seem to have that reason to hold that fear but holding on to it does neither of us any good.” He said in agreement to Sariah’s ultimatum since it was something they did both need to get over.

“We all have our fears and discomforts and having needles moving over your skin at a rapid pace seems a reasonable feeling not enjoy.” Though she did have a point since most tattoos were a visual story understood by only a handful. “I think mine speak more of what I’ve lost and want to remember than anything else, of good times and bad.” He said before things changed as the food arrived.

As they placed everything on the table he couldn’t help but laugh feeling rather at ease in their current situation. “That was actually a pretty solid plan and if either of us goes hungry that’s definitely our own fault. Besides it always keeps so you’ll have food for days and days.” Orion jested as he grabbed his own plate and began filling it from multiple containers. “I may get to try some new things as well so that’s always a plus.” He said as he picked up a fork and started to eat, “I’d say we can maybe make half of a half of a dent potentially.” He teased as he moved back to his previous spot and sighed in happiness at the aroma of the food.

From experience Sariah knew that it was very easy to start something, everything felt blissful in the beginning because everything was new and exciting, there was a whole new person to know and learn to understand. It was months down the line that the tests really came, when the little things became more important, when work was pulling you in another direction, when insecurity snuck it’s way in, starting was easy, trying was much harder. “I know” she answered his sentiment, she knew there was no rush, it had taken them a full year to even get this far after all “I’m just afraid to start something we don’t know how to continue” she spoke honestly threading her fingers together to stop herself from nervous fidgeting. As he said, there were plenty of people out there who were going to get in the middle and the very word manipulate sent a shiver through her spine.

Sariah was sure the boys must have had plenty of teasing for their names growing up, much like her name constantly being mistaken for Sarah but she could appreciate the ideas behind Orion’s parent’s choice, the names were unique and yet fitting “Pretty sure my parents picked my name because it sounded unique and trendy” she laughed softly, or at least she somewhat hoped they didn’t choose it because it meant princess. She went quiet as he explained what happened however, Sariah couldn’t imagine what kind of life he must have lived back then, having no idea if the people you loved were going to come home that evening. “I don’t know how you did it” she shared her thoughts on the matter though the way he showed strength from something which could completely cripple a person was admirable. “I mean I’m glad you did don’t get me wrong” she gave a half smile, a new level of respect washing over her as she began to understand why he would rather die before he let others get into danger, he was afraid of losing them more than he was afraid of death.

As they settled down to the food the blonde loaded her plate up with a few of her favorites from the range of dishes. Sariah certainly wasn’t the kind of girl who would barely eat on a date to impress anymore, her and food had much too special relationship for that. Grabbing a fork she started taking bites to eat and every so often reached for her glass to wash it down with the sweet pineapple wine. “Mm so good” she mused realizing she hadn’t eaten properly all day and she was literally starving.

“Well don’t hold back on my account” she teased as she reached for some more of the containers loading a few more bits on her plate in a round of seconds “So what’s your all time favorite food?” she asked with a gentle smile between bites. Sariah was pretty happy with her choice of dishes thus far as she saw his plate piled about as high as hers was.

After she was done with her second plate of food she set the empty dish on the table once more before she laughed softly “I literally think if I eat another single thing I may burst” she admitted as she reached for her wine to have another sip as she pulled her legs up to her chest resting her feet on the couch huddling up for a moment.

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