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Abut, Abet, Abed

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Lauren's sitting at the bar in a hotel downtown, rejecting drinks sent over by men she's never seen before, poking at ice cubes in the glass of water she can't drink. Lauren's dropped more beakers in the two days since Bo left her a message to meet here tonight than Lauren had since high school; the last thing she wants is to risk her little yellow cami-top getting wet. It's sheer enough that a bra was not optional tonight.

When she sees Bo come in, Lauren is taken aback. Bo's message ("Hey, Lauren. It's later now. I'm ready to listen. Meet me at the St. Etienne bar at 9 on Friday. We'll talk. And whatever.") had sounded upbeat and easy, but Bo is walking through the door with her shoulders stiff and her eyes sweeping the room, not once but continuously, as she makes her way to the bar. Lauren looks past Bo and is dismayed (not surprised) to see Kenzi trailing behind like the world's slowest bodyguard. The both of them move cautiously, not taking up space, slipping around people instead of smiling their way through the clumps of humanity. But neither of them is favoring a side or limping. Whatever attack they're under, Lauren provisionally classifies it as non-corporeal.

Lauren doesn't wave, maintaining Bo's low profile. She just sits up straighter and tries to catch Bo's eye. Lauren knows she's succeeded when Bo bares her teeth in a grimace that doesn't really resemble a smile.

Bo leans up against the bar when she gets to Lauren. "Let's go," she says, "get out of here."

Lauren licks her lip and leans back a little. "If this is a bad time…if you need to do this later, I can wait," she says. Lauren wants a relationship with Bo, wants trust and love between them. She can wait a few more days to apologize, to explain, if it means a solid foundation for their future.

Bo grabs Lauren's wrist, hard. "I need you now," she says, and looks Lauren straight in the eye for the first time that night.

Lauren gasps, a tiny, breathy, "oh," when she sees that Bo's eyes are red, and there's mascara streaking along one cheek. "Is something —?" She gets down from her bar stool and follows Bo out, because it's clear that something is wrong, and that Bo doesn't want to say what it is here. "I have my car," she offers instead.

Bo shakes her head and pulls toward the elevators instead of the exit. "I got a room here," she says. "We're not going home for a while."

They don't talk on the way up, but Bo moves closer to Lauren, thumb running circles on the back of Lauren's hand. Bo doesn't let go until they get to her room, where she has to work the keycard and handle at the same time.

Lauren follows Bo into what turns out to be a suite with kitchenette, not just a room. There are three wine glasses lined up on the counter, and Bo's pouring red into one already. "There's Pinot Gris in the fridge, if you don't want Shiraz," she says.

Lauren shrugs. "Maybe later." She leans against the couch in the sitting area, a giant, plush thing in red microfiber. "Where's Kenzi?"

Bo stares at her for a moment, eyes narrowed in concentration. Then she knocks back her drink and pours another. "Come on," she says and walks into the bedroom closest to the hallway door.

It takes Lauren a few seconds to wake up and follow. When she gets inside, she sees Bo sitting on the bed, pulling off her boots. "I thought you wanted to talk?" she asks, quietly. It's not that she had decided against sleeping with Bo tonight, but she doesn't want to put off their discussion now and wind up having the same fight in a week or six months.

Bo doesn't say anything, she just takes off her leather jacket and tosses it on top of the nightstand beside the bed. She throws herself back on the bed, and then pats the empty space beside her.

Lauren sits on the bed next to Bo, legs crossed tailor-fashion. "What's wrong? What happened tonight?" she says.

Bo shakes her head. "I can't." She shakes her head again, runs her hand over her face. "When we slept together. You did it because you l— because you have feelings for me?" asks Bo. "Or because the Ash —?" Lauren places two fingers across Bo's mouth.

"Yes," says Lauren, and she reaches down, squeezes Bo's hand. "I was so afraid for you, Bo. I wanted — I want to protect you."

Bo looks away, pulls her hand away. "That's not…." She sighs and runs her fingers through her hair, drinks more wine. "I'm a big girl, Lauren. And you're only human."

Lauren freezes. There were a lot of places she thought this conversation could go, but she hadn't been expecting that particular slap in the face, not from Bo. "That doesn't make me useless," she says quietly.

"What?" Bo's hand is back, on Lauren's thigh. "What are you — I was talking about me. I'm a big girl, I can make my own decisions, and you're not any kind of fortuneteller, you don't know what's going to happen." Bo cackles, and it's an ugly sound that makes Lauren flinch. "I don't want you doing — deciding things for me, making sacrifices for me — ."

"It wasn't a sacrifice, Bo. Is that what you thought — ? Sex with you was no kind of sacrifice. I wanted to. I want you." Lauren puts her hand over Bo's, laces their fingers together on her own thigh. "Since we met, I've wanted you," she says, and she turns Bo's face so their eyes can meet. She wants to wipe away Bo's tears, but body fluids (all of them, not just sexual secretions) are intimate for the fae. She doesn't know if Bo knows that. Doesn't know if Bo wants to hear that she is loved.

Bo closes her eyes and takes one deep breath and then another. "Would you do it again?" she asks. She opens her eyes, grabs the hand Lauren was resting on her cheek.

"I won't…do something for your own good," says Lauren. "I won't make choices for you, and I won't choose to lie to you." She brings their joined fingers to her lips, kisses across Bo's knuckles. "But I have to obey the Ash."

Bo's expression breaks; for just a second, she bares her teeth and narrows her eyes. Her mouth is tight when she says, "No fae's first loyalty is to me, I get it."

Lauren pulls in a deep breath, blows it out slow and steady. "I'm not fae, and that's not fair." She squeezes Bo's hand, still gently. "Be mad at me for what I did, not whatever Dyson did tonight."

Bo closes her eyes. "He saved my life and sold his soul." Eyes open. "You made love to me, and it was a lie."

"I'm not lying now. What I do now, I do of my own free will." She tugs at Bo, until her mouth is close enough to kiss. "This is from my heart," she says. She kisses Bo as fiercely as she knows how, with the steady intention of communicating to Bo exactly how much Lauren loves her.

When they break the kiss, they're panting and pressed together. Lauren's on the edge already, ready to explode.

"God," says Bo. "I want to, but I need to feed."

"Then feed," says Lauren. She pulls her shirt off, starts tugging at Bo's plain white t-shirt. "Enough to take the edge off."

"I can't," says Bo. "You can't be everything to me."

"No. But I can help."