It had been three days in the middle of nowhere. Which, granted, was not ideal for most people but for Caleb was a slice of paradise. Driving through the plains of Oklahoma and all the way into the mountains of Colorado, he had the opportunity to clear all the thoughts from his head and just be alone. There weren’t a lot of people on the roads he took and it was even better when there was an opportunity to go off the path with only the word of the locals as a guide. Meeting his father had been both sudden and not quite the family reunion he’d always anticipated. From Spencer, he’d heard a new side of the story of his early childhood. How his mother hadn’t always been the saint that he knew her as and had left suddenly from what (in his father’s eyes) had been a peaceful and happy marriage. It filled Caleb with questions that his mother could never answer and a weight on his shoulders that couldn’t be lifted. Leaving the ranch had been a difficult decision.

He urged the motor bike to a slow stop beneath him as he came towards a fork in the path. To the left was more wilderness and towards the right the path was more beaten and in the distance he could see what a passerby a few miles back had referred to as ‘ever more’ with no more descriptors than the simple phrase. It was far enough in the distance that even squinting to see proved useless, other than a few lights that could either be a campground, or a city, or a carnival or all he knew. Caleb bit his lip, exhaustion pining at the back of his mind, just where he couldn’t let it take over. It had been a long few days.

A long few months.

A long year. Caleb absent mindedly twisted the ring on his left hand, red hair and a bright smile flashing through his memory. He still wore it.

Til death do you part isn’t supposed to…

Actually die. Caleb couldn’t think about that right now, the wind was picking up and a storm was blowing in. He kicked the bike back into action, but it protested with a grumpy groan. Granted, it had been a few hundred miles since he’d had it serviced.

Merde.  

This was not the time for his singular mode of transportation to fuss out. Rain drops dashed against his face and thunder echoed  in the distance. Caleb fastened the straps of his backpack securely and wheeled the motorcycle further into the underbrush. He’d come back for the bike. Looking once more at the two angles in the pathway, he chose the one facing right.

Ever more? If only things could last forever.

He stepped further into the rain, struggling against the wind. It was heavy and seemed to easily move against his frame. The thought of tornado was the last one on his mind before a large tree branch snapped from above and came hurtling towards him. There was a sharp pain behind his eyes and everything went black.

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The aspect of light stared out over the distance, watching as the horizon in the distance slowly became illuminated, the night had been stormy and rainy, causing several trees to have been knocked over and powerlines to be cut all over the city and yet the aspect couldn’t wait for the sunrise. Argent loved the dawn, the moment the world became captured in light one more and those after a storm tended to be the most beautiful. While most people spent their mornings tucked up in bed, cosy against their warm blankets, Argent’s routine was always to wake before the sun rose and just walk and wait for it to rise.

Today the aspect was bundled up in a coat and scarf, the temperature low as winter held it’s claws over the city, Argent never really had a problem with being cold but even she was feeling the chill as she continued to move along her usual route through the city. Argent had to admit she really liked the quiet parts of Evermore city, it wasn’t serene as her home in the Isle of Skye had been but it had it’s own quirks and charms. The redhead was mostly lost in thought as she walked, though she was taking in some of the damage from the storm, little changes mostly, knocked over branches and minor damage to fences more than anything.

She turned a corner, heading into one of her favorite places in Evermore, it was a park of sorts but it was pretty expansive and a lot of people came there to walk their dogs or exercise. This early in the morning however there wasn’t a soul to be seen. About halfway through her usual trek however the redhead came to a stop, her eyes widening as she spotted what seemed to be someone passed out on the ground. Without a second thought she rushed over the male’s side. She naturally instantly went to check the male’s pulse, pressing her fingers very gently against his neck and much to her relief there was one.

Her brow furrowed, how long had he been out here, his skin was freezing to the touch. If she had been an average human then she would have probably already been calling the authorities but Argent, out of touch with modern life, didn’t carry her phone on her often “Hello, are you okay?” she spoke to the male to see if she could rouse any response from him but he remained still. Argent ran a hand through her copper curls as she debated what she should do. She wasn’t going to leave him there to freeze that was for sure.

Sighing softly she pulled her staff from her pocket and held it up, as she did so her eyes scanned over the area, making sure that no one was going to see her and then she closed her eyes, allowing her dragon side to take over and shifted. Argent launched herself into the air, her talons gripping the unconscious figure as she pulled him up into the air. The moment that she lifted off her dragon form became invisible and she flew over the city, back to where she had come from.

When she landed in the gardens of the Ailward manor she set the male down softly in the grass before shifting back to her human form, luckily a few guards were still awake on duty and spotted the aspect of light, she waved them down indicating that she needed some help “We need to get this guy somewhere warm” she instructed them and without a word they followed her request helping to carry him inside. She followed them through to the lounge where there was currently a fire lit. She thanked them for their help before sitting herself in a chair opposite where they had laid him on the couch. She furrowed her brow realizing that the male seemed to have hit his head, she wondered whether she needed to seek further medical advice or if he was just sleeping.

It had been three days and, frankly, Caleb felt like his head had been hit by something a lot bigger than a tree branch. The persistent pain in his head wasn’t the only thing bothering him. The details in the the days leading up to the storm were hazy and not much was coming to him apart from the feeling of needing to be anywhere than where he was right before the tornado spun into view. Caleb absentmindedly reached to twist the engagement ring on his finger. Men didn’t usually wear them, but Ava had thought it was both funny to put the finger to tradition and attach the sentiment to him. The fact that the red-headed pilot constantly lost things from socks to the keys to her plane only supported her wearing her ring on a necklace. The girl who found him, Argent, hadn’t told him much. He’d been found on the path outside of the city, unconscious, with a bump on his head; but, her bright eyes and curly locks reminded him of a ghost that he was trying desperately not to chase.

The room was quiet, which was nice, it spared his head the echoes of conversation, unlike the rest of the manor. Caleb had been brought to a spare room, which had giant windows to his left. There was still frost on the trees and the heat of afternoon hadn’t yet hit. His shoes were by the edge of the bed. Moving slowly, he reached for them, and attempted a try at the laces. 

I don't remember this being difficult.

Confusion knit his brows, only leading to a dull pain behind his eyes. It was too cold to walk outside barefoot, or he’d have abandoned the shoes all together. He knew better than to go far, clearly, there were signs of a concussion roaming throughout his body, but Caleb figured he’d check out the site of the accident. Perhaps, it would remind him of the last three days that seemed to have gone involuntarily missing from his brain.

How do I make it out of here without twenty different people stopping me?

He stood, stumbling for a moment, before straightening his shoulders and glancing out the bedroom door. Below, a staircase wound down into a formal entryway where a set of human-appearing people were playing video games from a pair of comfortable couches. Apart from the fact that the building was clearly old, the indoors was decorated so that it appealed to people of his generation and others not far ahead. It was lively, but not loud. It was a home, not a workplace.

I guess try and...act like I belong.

Caleb took a deep breath and walked out the door.

Her decision to bring the male the manor hadn’t been particularly personal, she knew her people were good at taking care of others, especially those who were lost and needed help but after leaving him with one of their medics and him later coming around and the two of them meeting, Argent felt a sense of responsibility for the male who she now knew was called Caleb. Regardless she had left him in his room to rest for the most part, she wasn’t the type to try and force someone to talk if they weren’t interested in doing so.

Today Argent found herself in the kitchen of the open spaced manor, she didn’t really know exactly what she was trying to achieve but she liked to occupy her mind with different hobbies to fill her time and so she had a baking recipe on the counter and was attempting to follow it without too much success, she had just finished up putting what she hoped would be cupcakes into the oven when she looked up over the room to see Caleb enter the room. She tilted her head a little confused as to what he was doing until the noticed that he headed to the door and headed out.

Without much thought for much else, she grabbed her jacket from off the coat rack and dashed out the door behind him, the redhead was busy shrugging it on over her shoulders as she tried to catch up with him “Leaving without even saying goodbye?” she asked tilting her head to the side a little, well he didn’t owe anyone a goodbye she supposed but she was curious as to where he was going. She rocked on her toes a little as she waited for him to respond.

There wasn't a lot blue about the sky today, at least to Caleb, who despite noticing the color couldn't manage to enjoy it. There were bright, clear skies following the storm and he was never one to stay inside for long, even in rainy weather, but today it seemed more out of necessity than enjoyment that he padded down the stairs, hands in his pockets, and slipped out the front door. A few of the people around glanced up, or politely nodded as he passed, but it was easy to jaunt out the door and get in a deep breath full of stark, January air. The trees were tall around Ailward Manor, old too. The giant oak and maples must have had spectacular color in the fall, but in these winter months they only stretched their bare limbs up towards the sky in a giant salute. Caleb glanced upwards, running his fingers down the railing of the staircase, lingering only for a moment before hurrying on his way down the gravel path. The brisk breeze blew past his ears and settled in his lungs fresh and clean. Caleb sighed, finally feeling a load of anxiety slip from his shoulders. Out in nature, away from people, he could be safe. At least, if there were no tornadoes on the horizon. 

He was halfway down the driveway when the door to the house slammed shut. Caleb glanced over his shoulder to see a familiar redhead shrugging herself into a jacket, with her hands covered in flour. His heart ached and he glanced away.

With a gulp, the young man continued in his stride. Surely, she had her own errands to run.

Caleb stopped and managed to muster a half smile, although it looked badly like he was trying. Which, he was — smiling hurt. Almost as much as his head did. "J'ai besoin...air. Fresh air. It is not goodbye." He shrugged and pointed down the path. "Are you coming?"                                    (I need )  

                                                                                

Realizing her hands were completely covered in flour the aspect laughed softly, brushing them together which caused a cloud of white powder to fill the air around her and fall to the ground, she shrugged a little before continuing to move to keep up with the male who seemed to be heading somewhere with a real purpose. He hadn't really said much of anything since she had brought him to the manor and every time she saw him he seemed to look like he was in pain when he saw her. Argent hadn't been mean to him, or at least she didn't remember doing so and so she assumed it must be something else going on inside his head. 

She was pretty short and so when he continued to stride off she had to walk double pace to keep up with him but thankfully she had always been pretty athletic, something she had just always kept up with since she was young. When he turned back she noted the way that he seemed to force a smile and she gave him a genuine one in return, really she was just worried, he seemed pretty closed off and flighty and after going through what he did, the aspect of light just wanted to make sure he was going to be okay. His words, however, were a relief.

"I suppose I am" she responded as she placed both of her hands into her coat pockets, it was so cold that when the aspect breathed she could see it as mist in the air, she thought the winter looked pretty beautiful but the chill was definitely not her favorite part. She was still wondering how Caleb had managed to survive for so long in such cold temperatures and come out practically unscathed aside from an extended need for sleep. By now they had fallen into a silent walk alongside one another, the redhead reached up to pull her hood over her head to keep herself warm "How are you doing?" she asked curiously as she glanced over at him for a moment "Still don't remember anything about before the storm?" when he had awoken he seemed pretty confused as he probably should have been considering he woke in a home that wasn't his own. 

Already, the fresh air was doing wonders for his mood, but admittedly, the company wasn’t bad either. Despite, that anyone with long red locks was a more than a little hard to look at, Caleb would be the first to admit that Argent was different than Ava, even in the short time that he’d known her. Ava was the most fiery person he’d ever met and so far, Argent was not leaving him with an impression that she was quite as impetuous. As he noticed she skipped to keep up, Caleb slowed his stride and before long their pace was comfortable but quick as the walk through the tall trees continued. He glanced up at the grey clouds, trying to think back before his bike had hit the storm, but ran into a wall of straight cerebral fuzz. Caleb scratched his head, looking down at the young woman who was a good half foot shorter than himself  “It’s a bit...vide. Blank.”

He pursed his lips, apologetic that there wasn’t much more of a story to tell.  
Before long, a clearing appeared and Caleb jogged ahead to see if his motorcycle had made it through the storm. The bike was covered in leaves and mud, but for the most part intact. Although, one of the wheels had come loose from the rim and the top handlebar was dented. He surveyed it, arms crossed, but after a few minutes, a genuine grin broke out onto his face. “Bien! Not bad! This I can fix.”

The redhead felt relieved when the male slowed down to a slower pace meaning that she didn’t have to work quite as hard to keep up, not that she was majorly uncomfortable, she was actually pretty athletic and often went running but it was hard to have any kind of conversation while doing cardio “I think you must have hit your head pretty hard during the storm” she commented, explaining why his head might feel blank, it must have been frustrating for him, now knowing exactly how he arrived in this city but at least he was up on his feet now “So you have no idea what your plans in Evermore are?” she asked with raised brows, by now Argent got the sense he didn’t know about the city’s special qualities so there must have been some other reason right.

Argent did her best to shrug off the almost pained look he was giving her, it wasn’t like she knew him well enough to ask the motive behind it and so it seemed better to hold her tongue. Instead she followed him, noting they were walking the exact path that she had walked when she had found him. She hadn’t however expected him to to pull an entire motorcycle out of the underbrush. Her eyes widened as she moved closer to inspect the vehicle “Damn you’re lucky no one found that” she commented, noting that it looked like it had value to it. It was nice to see a smile on Caleb’s face though, he had been pretty solemn since coming to the manor “So are you a mechanic or just an enthusiast?” she asked with a raised brow in his direction.

Caleb propped the motorbike up against a nearby tree and began searching for the missing wheel among the underbrush. There were a fair few fallen tree branches and plenty of silt from the rain. It didn't discourage him, though, he enjoyed the outdoors and had grown up climbing trees, playing with butterflies, and swimming in lakes. Adventure was practically his middle name. After a few minutes of sorting through sticks, Caleb came across the tire. It was in several parts, and he might need the help of a mechanic to fix it. "I enjoy a ride here and there." He hooked them onto the handlebars by the rim.  "But, mostly, I just like fixing things."

The path through the forest was clear and less than a mile, which was nice, seeing as a motorcycle was a heavy thing to lift half the way when it had only had one wheel; but despite being thin, he was stronger than he looked. The pace of their walk grew leisurely and Caleb shrugged. "It does not frustrate me the way it does others. It's' like a...puzzle." 

Argent watched what he was, realizing that parts of the bike had been scattered around from the store, she moved over to where he was, helping to push apart the underbrush so that he could pull out the different parts that had fallen off. “I literally have no idea where all these parts go” she admitted with a laugh, she had never really gotten herself savvy with vehicles or technology, still stuck in her ways she supposed considering she was over 1000 years old, not that he knew that. Finding a couple of screws on the ground she dropped to a crouch position, picking them up before offering them out to him “Something to keep you busy huh?” she had a lot of things she used to distract herself from life in general.

Argent pulled a look of confusion as she realized he was planning to carry the one-wheeled vehicle back with him, she stuttered a little as she pondered whether she should help him, she was an aspect after all and she was far stronger than her short stature gave the impression of. Without a word she placed her hand on the handlebar he wasn’t holding and helped to push it up “I like challenges too, though not usually of the motorbike type, I like learning new things though” she had so many hobbies because of that.

"It's easier to learn than it looks," Caleb's nose scrunched a bit as he smiled. "It's not like repairing an airplaine in an emergency. I've had to do that before and it's not..." The smile faded as quickly as it had come. "as easy as it sounds." The blonde took the screws that his new friend had gathered the screws in his hand and thanked her with a soft nod. "Je vous mercie, Argent." 

"I don't suppose you've ever ridden a motorcycle?" The two of them hoisted the bike and it's assorted parts back towards the manor, settling on the front porch. Caleb pushed his hair out of his eyes, inspecting the damage to the front wheel and wondering if there was any sort of toolbox he could borrow. With him he had the tools to repair a camera, but this was a much bigger job and may require more skills than he had.  There were a lot of happy memories on his bike, to be honest, and seeing it in a state of disrepair was disheartening, but Caleb couldn't focus on that right now. He already had a lot on his mind and adding this to it would only allow the pot to overboil. It was much easier to think about one thing at a time. "What kind of....hobbies?" 

Caleb thumbed for conversation. He was afraid his conversation skills were below par, after all, he'd always been the quiet one who liked travel and research. It was the enthusiastic Ava who had pulled him towards people and into the group. Now, he never felt sure of what to say. Everything felt different; everything had changed.

Argent pulled a surprised expression at his words about the difficulty of mechanics, especially when he mentioned that he’d repaired an airplane before “Well it certainly would be easier than repairing an airplane but neither of those things are exactly easy” she supposed it must come more naturally to him than it did to her, she guessed she was somewhat more of a theorist or artist type than she was for practical application, though there exceptions “So you’re an aviation mechanic?” she asked curiously.

“I did once, though it’s been a long time” she commented with a shrug, didn’t really need any form of human transport when you could fly literally anywhere you wanted to go but of course she wasn’t going to say that part out loud. The bike was surprisingly less heavy than she had been expecting and he kept a decently slow pace so she didn’t constantly feel like she was going to fall. When he asked about her hobbies she laughed “It’s quite an extensive list” she commented with a shake of her head “Baking, drawing, reading, writing, martial arts and recently” she raised her brows a little “a little knitting and mixology” she kept herself busy, it was her way of handling an immortal life she supposed, though it didn’t leave her with a lot of free time.

She could tell that he seemed a little uncomfortable and so she kept the conversation going, Argent was a pretty bright and bubbly person, she was very rarely lost for words “Did you meet many of the other people in the manor yet?” she asked with pursed lips, for the most part he had been spending his time in the room he was staying in so she wasn’t sure if he’d had the chance to meet any of her siblings or the guards yet.

Caleb stood up from where he’d knelt down by the damaged motorbike and brushed the dirt and leaves off of his jeans. It was a short distance walk towards the shed that held the tools he required for the repair and he was quick on his feet. “There’s a lot in common when it comes to repairing an engine. Planes are just big.” He opened the door and began browsing in the half light for the toolbox. It wasn’t difficult to find, but didn’t appear to be in regular use either, considering the light coat of dust that layered the entirety of the shed. It also appeared a few spiders had made their homes there as well. Caleb had always enjoyed nature, even a spider or two from time to time.They had their place in world and he never quite understood what many others found so loathsome or frightening about the tiny creatures. Closing the door behind him, he handed the toolbox of to Argent and reached for the lug wrench. “Vas-Y! Come on, I’ll show you how to reattach the wheel.”

Caleb reached for the broken parts and cleaned them quickly with a wet rag before fumbling in the box for the screws he needed and handing the parts of the wheel off to Argent. “Ces boulons...er, these bolts, go within the holes of the wheel, and you use this wrench to fasten them, oui?”

Mechanics excited him, as did explaining why they worked. He took the wrench and showed his new friend how the first bolt tightened into the wheel and then let her try the next one.”So, how did you get into such a thing as the Martial Arts?”

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