Sarah left the bathroom when she was confident he would be able to stand on his own and he pushed back the dingy shower curtain, starting the shower. Going over to the bed, she kicked off her filthy sneakers, peeling off her socks to leave them heaped on the floor. Taking off her coat, she tossed it on a chair in the corner. Finding the remote, she turned on the small box TV and sat cross legged on the bed, flipping through the channels. The alarm clock on the night stand told her it was after 3 in the morning, so most of the channels were off the air. She flipped past the local news channel, but stopped and turned it back when her picture came on the screen.
"Sarah Foster, age 24. Last seen leaving her work after closing hours Monday night. Video surveillance of the parking lot show her getting grabbed by an unknown man whose face was obscured." A prerecording of her parents played on the screen, her mother tearfully holding a picture of her in front of her, her father standing stoically behind her.
"Please, if you saw anything, or if you know where my Sarah might be, please contact the police. Sarah, if you can see this, please come home, we love and miss you so much." Her mother said and the recording switched over to an anchorwoman in a pressed blue suit.
"The Fosters' have offered up a five hundred thousand dollar reward to anyone with a tip that leads to the discovery of their daughter who went missing five days ago while walking to her car after leaving work. No ransom demands have been made and so far all tips that have come in lead to dead ends…"
"Five days?" Sarah thought out loud, "That can't be, I just left work six hours ago."
"Time works differently in faerie." She looked at the open bathroom door, seeing him standing there clean from his shower with a towel around his narrow hips, the claw and bite marks cleaned but still angry looking. "You were with us for several hours, but that translated to five days in human time."
"I have to call them, let them know I'm okay." She went for the phone on the nightstand, but he got there first, putting his hand over it.
"And tell them, what, exactly? 'Hello mum and dad, I was kidnapped by faeries to be hunted down and killed by faerie hounds? But I'm perfectly fine now, except for the fact that I still have some after me, but don't worry about me because I have one protecting me'?" he asked.
"I can't keep them guessing whether or not I'm dead in a ditch somewhere." Sarah said, "Besides, we're trying to keep a low profile, right?" he nodded, "I don't tell them that I'm okay, then every cop and state trooper in the country will be looking for me. They catch me with someone, "faerie hound" or not, and they're going to arrest that person for kidnapping. You can't protect me from a jail cell." They stared at each other for a few moments before his hand slid from the phone, allowing her to pick up the receiver. Dialing her parents' number, it rung a couple times before picking up.
"Hello?" her mom's voice came over the line and she felt like crying again.
"Mom, it's me."
"Oh my god, Sarah! Where are you? Are you okay?" she asked in a rush.
"I'm fine mom, I…" she looked at the man sitting in one of the chairs by the door, watching her talk on the phone. "I managed to get away from the people holding me."
"Oh thank goodness. Where are you now? Can you make it home?" her mom asked and the man nodded.
"Yeah, I'll be home as soon as I can. They're looking for me so I have to be careful."
"Sarah Marie Foster, you call the police right now and have them bring you home." The man shook his head.
"I can't, but I have someone who can take me. He helped me escape." She felt her mom become guarded even over the phone.
"Oh really?" she asked, disbelief heavy in her voice, "Who is this man? Is he one of them?"
"No, mom. He…he found me and helped me escape." Sarah said.
"The second you can, you get away from him. You hear me, Sarah? You run!" her mom said and the man made motions to hang up the phone.
"I have to go now, mom. I'll be home soon."
"Sarah, don't you dare hang up…!" he took the phone from her and put it on its cradle.
"We'll get you home, Sarah. If only to get the police off our tails." He said and she nodded, tears welling in her eyes again. Sniffling, she wiped them away and he knelt down in front of her, wiping them away with his thumb. "Please don't cry. I am utterly useless when women cry." That actually made her smile and he stood, going to the small closet and grabbing one of the spare blankets, spreading it out alongside the bed. "Let's get some rest. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow."
"You can take the bed, you're injured." Sarah said but he shook his head.
"I'll be fine by morning." He said and stretched with his arms above his head, catching the towel before it fell.
"It's not like I've never seen you naked." Sarah said and he chuckled.
"This is true." He said.
"Come here and turn around." She said and he did, presenting his back towards her. "Hold still, you have something…" his breath hitched in pain as she pulled a long, yellowed claw from his back. Turning, he took it from her and held it up, looking at it in the dim light coming off the television.
"That'll lame him up for a few days, we have one less chasing us than I thought."
"Yay for us."
"You're taking this all remarkably well." He said, sitting down the bed next to her.
"I had my mental breakdown for the day. I'm still a little raw emotionally from it, but I'll be fine." Sarah said, shrugging one shoulder and he got up, laying down on the spread blanket on the floor. "Oh, just take the damn bed."
"Is that an order?" he asked, looking up at her.
"Only if it needs to be."
"I'm assuming you're not going to be in the bed?" he asked.
"I'll take the chair." She said, moving her head at the one he was previously sitting in by the door.
"Absolutely not. If anything comes through that door, I want to be the first thing it comes across. I can't keep you from getting your throat torn out from across the room." He said and her eyes widened a bit at the severity of his tone. "I'm trying to keep you alive until the others can see the truth as I have, Sarah."
"Okay." She said and got up, going into the bathroom to try to clean up a bit.
"Go ahead and use the shower, I'll be out here keeping guard." He said and she nodded, closing the bathroom door.
After her shower, she combed through her newly clean hair the best she could with her fingers, getting back into her bra and underwear. The pants were filthy so she left them in the bathroom, putting the plain gray t-shirt back on and tugging the hem over her hips. Leaving the bathroom, she hesitated a bit, seeing him lying there with his back to her, the covers to his waist.
"I'm still awake." He said and she went to the bed, moving the covers aside and getting in, laying at the outermost edge away from him.
"You know," Sarah started and he made a sound, looking over his shoulder at her. "I never thought to ask you your name."
"Ciaran." He said, "Ciaran Wells."
"Thank you for not killing me, Ciaran Wells." She said and he chuckled softly.
"No problem, princess." He said, his tone making it difficult for her to decide whether it was a nickname he was calling her, or a title he had given her. She was way too tired to worry about it now. Sarah was still looking at his back when she fell asleep.