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There was a wolf at her door. It never ventured far, so there was some relief to be had during the day. She could almost forget its presence at work. Almost. The pups had other ideas. No matter where she went, what she did, they were always there, nipping at her heels. With them came the familiar litany: It wasn't real. It had never been real. Talia wasn't real. She'd just been a personality built by the gods-be-damned PsiCorps, a personality designed to be appealing, unassuming, nonthreatening. Certainly not something real enough to consider a friend, and most definitely not something to even consider more from. It had all been fake, nothing more, nothing less. That's all there was to it.

The pups stayed outside at night when she finally made it back to her quarters. Their mother, however, did not. It followed her in, padding silently behind her as she went about her business. It was there when she fixed dinner. It was there when she cleaned up. It was there when she got the nearly empty bottle of vodka out, and it stayed there while she tried to chase it away with the alcohol. When at last she'd had enough of trying to get rid of something that will never leave her alone, it would follow her to bed. She left that side of the bed clear. Stayed off of it. There were just some things she'd never be ready to face. Not that the wolf cared about that at all, it would always hop up when she laid down, would wait until she'd turned the lights off. That was always when it sunk its fangs in, the reminder that it had been real enough to matter. Her feelings had been real. Maybe Talia had just been a construct created by those bastards to get under her skin, but for a little while she'd been real. They'd been real.

The wolf would never leave her. It knew better. Personal demons were like that.