Title: One Journey Ends (24/?)

Author: Esquirella

Rating: R (for violence in some chapters and m/m slash.)

Disclaimer: I own the Rio character and have written other stories with her. I also own all other characters herein unless noted in disclaimers for future chapters.

Synopsis: Every great warrior has an unsettling past. This is the beginning of Rio's story prior to "The Road Less Traveled". In this chapter: Sven and Justin try to hold Tara together.

Distribution: Just in case anyone's interested in it, please ask me first. More than likely, I will agree.

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: This prequel to "The Road Less Traveled" (on Fanfiction.net in the misc./wrestling section) is almost coming to an end. This chapter isn't very good, but it sets up the end, which will be in one or two chapters. But don't worry!

There's a second prequel to follow soon after called "Another Journey Begins" and its first chapter should be up the same day as the final chapter of this one. It will detail Tara's transformation into Rio Angele and the training Sven and Justin give her. It will end with her leaving them to join the Series. (Fans of "Road" know that she reunites with them.eventually. A pesky blonde WWE wrestler gets in the way first.)

One of "Road"'s sequels, also in the wrestling section on Fanfiction.net ("The Way to Eden") still sits unfinished but I will be taking that one back up again eventually.

I had originally planned out a non-wrestling ending (other than "The Road Less Traveled"), but it really stinks, as it was written a very long time ago and hasn't been re-vamped. (Hence, the wrestling ending.) If you like, and you can let me know in your reviews, I'd revamp it and post it here, without wrestlers, just the OC's. Like I said, let me know. But maybe check out "The Road Less Traveled" to see if you like it.

Some of you may have noticed a departure from the usual warrior woman theme in my two new stories: the "Take Me From This Pain" series. I just had the idea in my head, probably from reading so much great slash here on Fictionpress.net that I needed to put it up there. It, too, will be updated as often as I can.

Anyway, on with the chapter and I hope you let me know how you liked it (or didn't, if you don't.)

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Sven tied the thin man securely to a tree near Justin's car and walked out earshot of him. Seka was trying to get Tara to speak to her. The blonde woman was still wrapped in a sheet and sitting in Justin's lap, still unresponsive. The Japanese girl was in tears and Justin looked to be close to them as well. The cabin was some distance away and burning rapidly. The blonde man knew they needed to get into the car and head out of here before the fire trucks came and they had more explaining to do than they cared to.

"We cannot take her to the hospital," the dark haired man said flatly.

"Why not?" Sven asked.

"Look at her, Sven," Justin rasped in an agitated tone. "She will likely be sent to the psych ward in this condition. What is the point of subjecting her to further humiliation and horror with the barbaric rape exam they would do? The perpetrator must be dead by now with the way the house is burning."

"I do not want them to take her away from us," Sven nodded thoughtfully. "She has been failed by that system too much already."

"I help her," Seka said, struggling with her English in her anxious state.

It was clear that she wanted Tara to understand that she wouldn't be leaving her like this. Sven nodded again and spoke reassuringly in Japanese that they would all need her help.

"What about him?" the blonde man jerked his head to the thin man watching them warily from the tree.

"We will make sure he is more than willing to allow you to deliver him to the police staking out Tara's house," Justin replied. "I am sure it will not take much more convincing on your part, love."

"But the police will want to see Tara."

"We will tell them that the case combined with the phone calls from her mother-in-law were too much for her and she went to stay with a friend of her husband's in New York. We will say that she asked us to keep Seka."

"Ah, that will neatly keep them from seeking her and we can move into her house when things have died down."

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Sven returned from delivering the man to Sullivan and retrieving some of Seka's things until they could go back. He had apparently asked the girl to also pack some things for Tara when the police weren't looking because the blonde held another small bag. Now they both trudged into the apartment wearing matching grim expressions.

"Has she said anything?" he asked his mate tiredly.

Justin shook his head and went back to stroking Tara's blonde hair. She leaned against him trustingly but said nothing.

"Did you have any trouble with the police?"

"No," the blonde man smiled humorlessly. "Seka backing up my story made a big difference. And the insect was too frightened of us to tell them anything. He wanted to plead guilty right then."

"That is a healthy decision on his part."

Sven nodded. "Perhaps we should let Seka clean Tara up now?"

Justin nodded and lifted the girl in his lap, still wrapped in the damned sheet. He carried her into the bathroom and Seka stepped aside. She had been drawing a warm bath for her friend. When he went to lower Tara into the tub, she panicked and grabbed for him, clinging to his chest. Sven walked into the small room and looked on worriedly.

"She does not want me to let go," Justin explained. Truth be told, he was loathe to let go of her anyway.

"Seka needs to clean her off," Sven sighed and stepped back out. He returned in a few minutes with a shot.

"Do you think this is necessary?" Justin asked sadly.

"Unfortunately, yes," his mate replied. "Distract her for a moment."

"How?"

"Try to be soothing," Sven shrugged.

Justin looked at the frightened struggling girl and put his mouth close to her ear. "Shh, Tara," he whispered. "It is all right now."

"Y-y-you left me b-before," she stammered. "Y-you w-want to again."

"I will not leave you again," Justin whispered, watching as Sven dabbed a cotton swab onto Tara's forearm.

"B-but," she tried to answer.

"I will never leave you again," Justin vowed, meaning it absolutely. "You are safe with us."

"B-but," She tried again. Then she gasped as Sven's needle pierced her skin.

About a minute or so later her struggling ceased and her head lolled to the side. Seka helped pull the sheet off of Tara and Justin lowered into the tub. Her eyes were open but she stared at the wall dazedly. Seka knelt down beside the tub and began to clean her as Sven pulled Justin from the room.

"It did not knock her out," Justin said.

"No. Not while Seka has her in bathtub," Sven replied. "In a few hours, I will give her another one which will help her to sleep."

"I would like to stay with her tonight," Justin suddenly decided out loud. "I promised her I would not leave her again. Perhaps she will find that easier to believe when she wakes tomorrow."

"The bed is big enough for all three of us," Sven pointed out.

"Okay."

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Seka went to school as usual though at first she went from the men's apartment. They just moved Tara back into the house today, though. But the situation was grueling for all four.

Tara didn't speak anymore since she clung to Justin that first night and she couldn't seem to sleep unless Sven gave her a sedative. Justin was worried she would get too used to them. Moreover, she refused to eat anything no matter how hard they tried. Today, the sixth day since the attack, Sven decided enough was enough. He was attempting to insert an IV into Tara's arm to give her some nourishment, but she struggled fiercely. He didn't want to sedate her again, agreeing with Justin's concern.

"I will help you," his mate suddenly said from behind him.

He reached in and held Tara's arms down to the chair while Sven bound them. The blonde man then quickly inserted the needle and taped it down. Tara stared furiously back at them. Her plan to waste away had become apparent and Sven wasn't about to let her succeed.

"You will have to learn to listen to us," Justin said to her in a stern voice as Sven looked on sadly. "When I promised you I would never leave you, I meant it. And I also mean to be sure you do not leave me."

Tara didn't answer but the venom that suddenly lit her dark blue eyes was enough to let them know how she felt. Sven felt Justin's pain as intensely as his own. They both knew what it was like to feel helpless while someone they care for suffers.

"Seka will be sad when we tell her," the blonde man added.

Tara's anger appeared to have faltered briefly. Sven had noticed the Japanese girl was able to get Tara to do some small things that they couldn't, such as drink tea or broth and let her comb her blonde hair. She and Tara also slept in Tara's room together, as the blonde girl couldn't be left to her own devices yet. Unfortunately, Seka's time in the U.S. was drawing to a close much more quickly than Tara's recovery would probably take.

He had brought this up with his mate the day before and Justin immediately made the decision to take Tara away from here.

"But she should probably be around things that are familiar to her," Sven had said.

"Everything about the Northeast has been painful to her," the dark haired man replied as he twisted a sheet of paper in his hand.

Sven had noticed that Justin did this more often now. It was probably something to do when he was upset. Another piece of information about his love, and Sven filed it away with the precious others.

"I do not think keeping her in the house where she lost everything will help her."

"But it is her house."

"And it will remain her house," Justin nodded. "We will be sure to keep the payments made. But we will take her to Montana with us to recover when Seka leaves."

"Montana?" Sven hid his surprise. When he'd been tracking Justin, the man seemed to return to a house in California after his jobs so the blonde man naturally assumed he lived there.

"Yes," Justin smiled genuinely for the first time in a week. "I have a small non-functioning ranch there. No one around at all. It will be more private. You will like it there, love."

"That is unexpected."

"You are wondering why I always returned to California, are you not?" the dark haired man was clearly amused.

Sven merely nodded.

"The work was usually easier to obtain in such a populated place," Justin shrugged. "I prefer the quiet, though. Especially now that we are retired."

"WE are?"

Justin looked possessively at him then and it sent an excited chill down the blonde man's spine.

"WE," The dark haired man confirmed. And Sven had smiled happily in return.

But now in the light of day, the Scandinavian wondered if they were making the best decision for Tara. He looked down at her now and noted her pale pallor and sunken eyes.

"She will get better," Justin stated firmly. "We will make sure."