Tara watched Sven and Justin pack everything into the truck with a mixture of sadness and blinding rage. Why wouldn't they let her go? She was already halfway dead anyway. And Seka's departure hadn't helped any. The Japanese girl had been a buffer between her and the two men, and now Tara felt the loss more than she thought she would.

The two men would glance at her questioningly now and then, trying to gauge her needs. She wouldn't talk to them. She found she didn't have anything to say to anyone. Sven had taken her to Ben's grave a few times in the last week, but she found she couldn't bring herself to say anything there either. What was the point? Many believe that the dead are always with you, and if that's so then Ben had seen what happened. She was already humiliated enough to know that her friends had seen it. But her husband, the man who had so much faith in and respect for her? No, that was too much. She'd ended up weeping deeply as she leaned against the headstone.

"You will be back someday," Justin assured her softly.

Tara just looked away angrily. She wasn't sure she wanted to come back. She didn't want to leave. She didn't know what she wanted. No. That was wrong. She knew. She wanted to die already. Wasn't that what Ben's mother wanted? At least she could do one thing to make that bitch happy.

"Do not even think it," Sven growled as he closed the truck. "You are not dying."

That's what you think, she mentally hissed back. Who were they to make that decision for her anyway? Who was anyone? She'd let too many people make her decisions all through her life. Trying to please others so someone would look at her with actual affection instead of annoyance. Or ignore her. That's what they all did when she was growing up. No matter how well she listened to them, how well or badly she did in school. No matter how little trouble she tried to cause. They all left her when she was of no further use to them. Her foster parents usually only wanted the money for taking care of her. They rarely spent any of it on her. She'd cared for their elderly parents, their mentally challenged kids, their grandchildren. What did they do? Blame any little thing that happened on her and throw her back out. That's what they did. These two, as nice as they were now, were unlikely to be any different. Except she hadn't figured out what they wanted from her yet.

Not that it mattered at all. She wouldn't give it to them. She was tired of everyone else deciding what was best for her. Damn it, she was determined to make this decision for herself! But she knew they wouldn't leave her alone, so she would have to bide her time. They would tire of her eventually. They all did. Once they started leaving her to her own devices, she would make her move. This time she wouldn't do it as passively as she had been, though. This time she would take matters into her own hands. Literally. They'd see then, she vowed silently. They'd all see that they couldn't use her anymore.

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"I do not know what she is thinking," Sven whispered to Justin after he closed the back door to Tara's side of the truck. "But I think I can promise you that it is not good."

"Even I can see that, love."

Justin took his seat in the driver's side of the front and started up the truck. Sven got in the passenger's side and they began the long trek west.

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Montana was as beautiful as Justin had promised him. Sven had immediately set up the kitchen and planted a small garden. They had been there ten months already and Sven couldn't believe how happy it made him. The only thing that troubled him was Tara. She wasn't trying to starve herself anymore. Well, not completely. Sven found he could coax her to eat one substantial meal a day now. He suspected Seka's conversation over the phone had something to do with it. Tara had not spoken to the girl, but she listened to what Seka was telling her and uttered a series of sighs. Sven just wished Seka could have stayed on longer, but at least Tara was eating now, if not speaking.

In fact, Tara spent her days glaring at him and Justin and staring at the television. Justin had a sophisticated satellite system and many channels, but Sven doubted much of anything she stared at actually impressed her. The only thing he saw in her dark blue eyes was a seething rage that appeared to be growing in its intensity. At first he thought it was directed at himself and Justin, but now he suspected otherwise. He had been testing his theory subtly with simple reactions to word associations and her response was dead on. All of the betrayals and rejections of her past had finally added up and she was livid. While it was about time she redirected her anger away from herself, Sven thought the timing was unfortunate, as it interfered with her recovery.

"Anything new," Justin asked as he wrapped his arms around Sven from behind. The blonde man leaned into him easily, reveling in their closeness.

When they arrived, Sven was still uncertain what to make of their relationship. But he was sure now. Nothing could pull them apart. They didn't show signs of affection in front of Tara, though, unsure of how she would react. Sven thought they needed to keep things as normal as they could for her and the dark haired man agreed.

"No," he sighed as he listened to Tara flip through channels in the other room. "But at least she eats, right?"

"It will get better, love," Justin whispered. "I know it will."

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Tara knew that even though she was essentially alone in the living room, she wasn't out of their watchful eye. She realized that if she ate a meal a day, that damned Sven left her alone for the most part. She'd been looking for a chance to end things but she could now see they were serious about not letting her. It annoyed her further that they would usurp her power over her own life. But she was thinking less and less of ending things right away and more and more about dealing with her own rage. It was building and she didn't know what to do with it.

Sven had been acting weird lately, too. Even for him. He'd been running his daily monologue the other day and she'd been pretending not to listen, as usual. Something he'd said struck a note, however. He'd said that if she couldn't handle the pain right now, maybe she could pretend to be someone else for a while. Someone else. Hmm. The idea was floating around her head now.

She flipped some more channels, looking for something, anything, to watch. Not that she loved television, but it helped her not to think for a while. Even to briefly clear her mind of the terrible memories was relief. Click. Click. Click. What's this?

Two masked men faced each other in a wrestling ring. Tara was never interested in the sport before, but this didn't look like the wrestling she'd seen in high school or on the Olympics. This was flashy. The crowd was screaming. The announcers were speaking rapidly but she couldn't understand what they were saying. It was Spanish though, as she noted the Mexican flag hanging atop the arena. The masked men were flinging each other all over the ring and even outside of it. There were a lot of flying moves that fascinated her. The smacks were leaving red welts on the fighters' skin and she could see the pain and raw emotion emanating from every wince. This was enthralling. Tara couldn't take her eyes off the screen.

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Sven was stirring something in a pot and Justin watched with a small smile on his face. Tara had apparently found something interesting to watch because the clicking stopped and all they could here was a faint cheering sound. This went on about 20 minutes before the kitchen door suddenly opened and a determined blonde girl strode purposefully into the room, startling her two guardians, as she never moved to be near them if she had to. She looked right at Justin as she came to a halt near the table where he sat. She also never spoke, so they were doubly astounded when she opened her mouth this time.

"Train me."

Justin stared back at her in bewilderment. Train her? What was she talking about? He looked at Sven for help but the blonde man only shrugged. Suddenly Tara grabbed Justin's hand and dragged him out to the other room. Justin heard Sven close the lid on the pot and follow. When they reached the television Tara dropped Justin's hand and pointed at the show she was watching. She looked back at the two men and repeated her request.

"Train me."

"To wrestle?" Justin squeaked.

She shook her head.

"To fight?" Sven offered softly.

Tara nodded vigorously. She stared at them as they silently regarded her.

"We must discuss this," Sven said.

"Here," Tara replied before they could move away.

"We need to discuss this with each other," Justin clarified.

"It's ME you're discussing," Tara countered angrily.

"But . . ."

"But nothing!" the small blonde woman exploded. "You two walk around here on eggshells making all of my decisions for me like I was child. I didn't like it when people did that back then and I like it even less now! You wanted me to find a purpose and now that I have, you hesitate to help me! Train me!"

Justin and Sven exchanged a quizzical look before turning back to her. Tara waited, still fuming. Sven finally spoke.

"If we do this, you must eat more."

Tara looked ready to argue, but Justin picked up on what his mate was trying to do and backed him up.

"Fighting takes strength, which you do not possess yet due to your lack of weight and slight frame. You must eat well to train well."

Tara contemplated them both for a while. They could tell she would acquiesce to get what she wanted. Finally she nodded and led the way back into the kitchen.

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"Do you think we are doing the right thing?" Justin asked as he lay in Sven's arms that night.

"She needs an outlet for the rage," the blonde man replied as he played with his lover's long black hair. "I think it will help on many levels. I think she will finally begin to heal."

"Let us hope so."

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Author's note: I'm baa-aack! And I intend to update EVERYTHING! Tara/Rio muse was just the loudest one right now. Don't worry, the piece will pick up a little pace soon. Thanks for anyone who stuck with Rio enough to read this after all of the months I lay dormant. Don't forget to read "One Journey Ends" here on fictionpress.com and "The Road Less Traveled" and "The Way to Eden" on fanfiction.net to read all of Rio's stories. Thanks again! And watch for updates to my "Take Me from This Pain" stories.