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It was raining, and Odin couldn’t see a damn thing.

Of course the one weekend that Olai sent him out to handle trading in the city was the one that the sky ripped open and dropped wet hell on them. Of course it was. Olai couldn’t have chosen anyone else, or any other weekend, or just have gone himself, could he? Intellectually, he knew it wasn’t really his brother’s fault for this mess, but blaming the heavens for this cumulonimbus bullshit wasn’t as satisfying.

The clock on the dashboard read 9:02.  At this rate, he wouldn’t be out of the city and back home until midnight, and driving in solid darkness and thunderstorm was only worsening Odin’s mood. At least there wasn’t much traffic.

Yeah, because I’m the only idiot who would drive in this weather.

He sighed, and strained already tired eyes through his windshield, trying to see the road in front of him while looking past the constant static of rainfall on the glass. The windshield wipers heaved back and forth, fighting a losing battle for visibility.

Odin listened for the thunder as he turned onto the bridge.




Ava was holding her suitcase, and she needed to get to the other side.

The east side of the bridge wouldn’t work. There wasn’t anywhere she could climb off. But on the west side, the bridge had a metal lip that looked straight down into the river.

Lightning shook out of the sky, flashing great white sheets of light, but Ava had stopped noticing at this point. She’d been outside for half an hour, walking. The cold was nice, for once. It kept her mind off of her next task.

She stepped out onto the street. It wasn’t a particularly wide bridge, maybe a little more than 50 feet. Her little Mary-Janes splashed on the asphalt as she crossed over the partition and onto the opposite side of the conduit.

Just a few more steps.

The white light was getting brighter now. And after a second, Ava did take note of it, because it was absent of the cracking noise that accompanied lighting.

And a moment later, a sound did come with that white light—a long, uninterrupted blaring noise. Ava turned her head.




She stepped out of nowhere.

The width of Odin’s vision extended only from where his headlights reached, and she walked right into them with a purpose.

His heart leapt into his throat as he let out a harsh gasp.

“Shit!” he yelled, and he slammed his foot into the brake, throwing himself onto the car horn.

There wasn’t enough time to swerve out of the way, and in this weather, he probably would have swerved right off the bridge. The wet pavement brought his car forward with sickening certainty, and the girl grew in the headlights as he felt the wheels not slowing down fast enough.

It was over in a few seconds.

He had been slowing down, but Odin felt the thud though his entire body as the car hit her. The car stopped almost immediately after the impact, and the girl was pitched several feet in front of the vehicle. 

Odin couldn’t even move, mouth open and only able to listen to the rain for several seconds. But then his mind was shoved back into reality—she wasn’t moving either.

“Oh shit,” he whispered. “Shit, s-shit, s-shit, shit, shit—“ The words gained in intensity as he threw the door open, the interior of the car lighting up as he peeled himself, shaking, into the downpour. With the headlights, he made his way over to her. His throat was strung tight into silence.

She was so little. At first Odin thought that she was a child, and his stomach dropped thinking about his sisters, but then he turned her face over, and took in the tiny, hurt girl laying in front of him. Her eyes were closed. She was soaking wet, and in the darkness he couldn’t see if she had any injuries.

He hadn’t been going that fast. He was close to stopping when he’d hit her, and she would have been okay if it wasn’t for the damn rain, and damn wet road. But right now, that didn’t matter.

The bridge was deserted; the whole city was inside right now. He could get her to a hospital faster than then an ambulance could get here. Carefully he scooped up the girl and walked quickly back to his car, holding her to his chest, feeling her long wet hair bunch against his sleeves. He thought a noise escaped her lips at the movement, but with the pounding water on asphalt, he didn’t trust his ears. Running was beyond him at this point—shock had settled in, but mostly, he was too scared of slipping and dropping her fragile frame.

Bending down, he threw open the passenger door, and pushed himself and the body—the girl, he corrected—into the interior. He clicked on the light.

She was unnaturally pale, but it looked like that was from the rain. Taking her face into his hands, he almost drew back from instinct at how icy she was. Sliding a thumb against her neck, Odin steadied himself, and felt his stomach leap again as he felt her pulse. It was strong. He observed her for a few seconds, watching intently for her chest to rise and fall under a dripping sweater.

Odin felt his eyes pricking, but shook himself. Now wasn’t the time. He fished around for the blanket that was perpetually mired on the car floor, and after pulling off her sweater, wrapped her as tightly as he could.

He shimmied out of the door and into the rain once more, and as he was ducking into the drivers seat, he noticed the suitcase. He hadn’t even seen it the first time he’d gone out—too focused on the girl—but now he ran his way back out, grabbing it, and threw it into the back seat.

Whoever she was, he thought as he peeled away, Odin owed it to her to get her bag. He owed her a lot more. He glanced religiously back at the small form beside him as he got off that bridge, ignoring the rain as it increased it’s drum.




“It’s amazing, isn’t it?”

Odin was jerked to attention at the sound of a voice. His dark clothes still drying under florescent hospital lights, he turned to the medical assistant next to the bed. He had white hair, but didn’t look any older than himself.

“How intact she is, I mean.” the young man continued, flipping through the papers in his hand. “No broken bones. She’s… bruised, but it seems she’ll be fine. Honestly, she really has more to worry about in catching pneumonia.” He laughed, before coughing uncomfortably.

Odin looked at the girl in the bed. Her hair was red. Crimson, crumpled under her head, long strands gasping at the air as the water dried up. That color shouldn’t have been on such sterile white and blue sheets.

“She can take one hell of a h-hit.” Odin responded quietly.

“You said you weren’t going very fast. When you—“ the doctor gave him a sidelong glance “—hit her with your car, yes?”

Odin glowered at the tone of the comment. “Sh-she walked in f-front of the car. I couldn’t s-see her.”

The young man nodded.  “Right. I suppose with the weather… Anyway, she’ll likely wake up soon. You can probably leave if you’ve filled out the police report—“

“N-no,” Odin interrupted. “It’s fine. I’ll stay until s-someone she knows can come.”

Odin was an asshole—a fact he would never deny—but among other things, he was not the kind of asshole that would hit a person in a car, and then let them wake up alone in a hospital. Especially when that person was this cute.

Wait, what? Where the hell did that thought come from?! Shit, he was probably just tired.

…She was cute though.

Odin sighed as the medical assistant walked away. He stretched his legs out in front of him, bridging the gap between his seat and the bed frame as he uncomfortably felt the damp jeans shift against his skin. His black jacket was draped over the next chair, drying, along with a towel the nurse had provided for him. The windows were sealed shut and covered in thick blinds, but it did nothing to smother the pounding from outside. The weather had somehow gotten worse, and Odin supposed that in all of this, at least he was in a warm building, and not driving off the road somewhere.

Then again, he was in a hospital. She was in the hospital. He’d put her there. Odin gut shifted uneasily.

Who was she anyway? Why had she been outside like that? No umbrella, no coat—and in the middle of a bridge. Surely there wasn’t anywhere that she needed to go that badly. If she’d really needed to go somewhere, and it couldn’t wait, why wouldn’t she just call a taxi? The driver would probably give you hell for making them work in a storm like this, but Christ, why would you walk?

Odin was about to go further with this thought, but then he remembered what he had been doing on that bridge. Olai. He hadn’t called his brother yet.

He pulled out his phone, pressing his contact, and brought it up to his ear, listening to the monotonous ring as he examined the girl’s face, and the way pink warmth was slowly recoloring her features.

“Odin? What happened? You gonna make it back tonight?”

Odin turned his attention back to the phone. “I d-don’t know. T-th-the storm…” He breathed heavily and put a hand over his eyes. Might as well get it over with. “I… I h-h-hit a girl.”

There was a pause, and then Olai responded with significantly more interest. “What—like, with the car?”


“Jesus Christ… Is it dented?”

Odin growled. “The girl’s f-f-fine, thanks for asking.”

“Well, you wouldn’t sound this calm if you’d killed her. She gonna sue you or something?”

“She’s n-not awake yet. I’m going to p-pay for the hospital bill, though.”

Odin heard a groan on the other side of the call. “It better be coming out of your account, that’s for sure. And seriously, if she’s fine, you better hope that car isn’t dented.”

“The c-car—I-it wasn’t m-my main concern at w-when it happened. I was—“

“Yeah, yeah. I got it. I’ll see you tomorrow. Call me when something goes wrong.” The receiver clicked off.




Ava opened her eyes.

She was warmer than before. Her toes were still cold, though.

But where were her shoes?

She looked down to find baby blue sheets pulled over her, and began to process where she was through the chemical, medicinal smell. She tilted her head to the side, and was immediately startled by the imposing grey mass of a person slumped in the chair next to the bed. It was boy, one she’d never seen before, his eyes closed and his face resting on his palm. His clothes and his hair were so dark compared to his surroundings.

“Oh, good, you’re awake!”

A man wearing scrubs was walking into the room, smiling genuinely from over his clipboard. “I hope you’re feeling alright. Do you know why you’re here?”

Ava looked up at the ceiling, already becoming uneasy with the man’s stare. “Yes.” It wasn’t entirely true, but she didn’t want to answer more questions.

“Ah! That’s good. I suppose before we continue, you’ll want to call someone, to let them know you’re okay. They’ll be worried, especially on a night like this. Is there someone that I can—“

“No.” She cut in decidedly.

“…No? Are… you sure? Surely you—“

“No.” she said again. “There’s no one.”




Something hit Odin in the face.

He jerked awake as he felt a wet, slapping sensation, catching himself as he heard a thud on the floor in front of him, feeling aggravation hit him. The projectile was a shoe. A soaking Mary-Jane.

He looked up, and suddenly he wasn’t mad. His chest clenched at the sight of the girl in the bed, bunched up like an animal. Though at the moment she looked less like a scared rabbit and more like a very pissed off rabbit.

“D-did…did you just hit me with your s-shoe?”

“Did you hit me with your car?” she shot back.

Odin’s mouth dropped open in spite of the fact that he didn’t have a response. A few noises fell struggled out before he sat up straight.

“T-that’s…fair.” he said slowly.

She didn’t say anything. She dropped eye contact and shifted onto her back. A silence passed in the room, little noises filtering in from the hospital staff failing to fill the space. Odin swallowed.

“I-I’ll pay for the bill. I-I’m s-s-s-sorry.” Odin’s stomach knotted in frustration at his stutter. He didn’t like talking, but he didn’t want to just stare at this poor girl. She wouldn’t look at him.

 “M-my name’s O-Odin.”

She took a small breath, and said in an even smaller voice. “My name is Ava.”

Ava. A gorgeous name, not one he heard often. Odin had an appreciation for others with off beat names, although “Ava” was much more common than Odin. Most names were.

"I’m g-guessing the doctor t-told you everything, while I was a-asleep.” he said lamely.

She nodded, then looked down at her knees.  Her hair shifted over her cheeks, the red locks a little ruffled from laying down. “Look, you don’t have to stay here. You can go. I can leave in the morning.”

He shook his head quickly. “I’ll s-stay until someone gets here f-for you. It’s n-not a p-problem—”

“No one’s coming. Really, it’s fine.”

Odin stopped. The certainty of that answer threw him off entirely. “…Can t-they not make it out t-tonight?” It wasn’t like Odin was upset about leaving—he just wanted to go home and forget about this godforsaken trip—but something about her tone bothered him.

She glanced over at the doorway, and held a pause for just a touch too long. “…Yeah. They can’t make it out. The rain, you know…”

Odin studied her face, and the dark rings clouding under her eyelashes. He didn’t know what to say, or do for that matter. A moment ago, he was praying that someone would show up soon, so that they both might escape the position they were in. He was too proud to cut and run from a bad situation without resolving it, but Ava probably didn’t care to spend time with the asshole that put her hospital. And something was wrong here.

The silence had drawn on. Ava made a frustrated noise then, caught between anger and discomfort, and brought her eyes to his. “It doesn’t matter. You don’t even know me—I have it figured out, okay? You don’t even have to pay the bill if you don’t want,” she mumbled.

Odin scoffed. “Don’t b-be ridiculous, I’ll pay. And really, I d-don’t m-mind staying if—“

It doesn’t matter, okay?” Her voice slid on the edge of what would be an overpowering volume, the hackles of her shoulders rising in suite. But then her little frame curled back down, the strength of her voice reaching her own ears and smothering the brightness of her emotions. She looked down at her knees again.

“I’m sorry...” She murmured. “That was rude. But… You really don’t have to stay. I’ve got it figured out.” A pause. “Sorry for getting in front of your car.”

And suddenly the reality of the situation hit Odin, much later than it should have, or at least later than it would have if hadn’t been so late, or so rainy, or if he hadn’t momentarily thought he’d killed a person earlier that night. It became very clear to him why there wasn’t anyone coming for her. Why she didn’t mind if he left, why she wanted to leave alone. Why she’d been walking across the bridge. And especially why she hadn’t even had an umbrella, because she had been planning on getting wet no matter what the weather might have been.




"W-Why were you on that b-bridge?” he asked, his voice climbing in urgency.

Her face whipped in his direction, her red eyes crumpling along the edges. “What?”

“What w-were you going t-to d-do?”

Ava could say nothing, but the flat up and down movements of her breaths increased steadily. For the first time all night, the two were holding eye contact. She wished those violet eyes would look away—she wished that he wouldn’t get involved. She wished Odin sounded less concerned and more angry, so that she could match him with her own anger, an emotion she could handle right now.

Why did this have to happen? She didn’t want to explain herself, she hadn’t even let herself think about it. She had just been… going.

He didn’t even know her, he probably didn’t really care. He probably just wanted to go home.

She wanted to go home.

And now thinking about it, and thinking about the words coming out of her mouth, and hearing them out loud, was making her vision glitter, and the boy who sat in front of her was fractured. She couldn’t keep looking at Odin like this, and she couldn’t look down because then he’d get the answer he was looking for.

Something told her he already knew. She looked at her lap.

Her hands were folded together, and her right hand squeezed her left index finger. The room was passing in silence, filled only with her shaking.

How stupid she was. How hilarious this situation was, in reality.

Finally, she said, forcing a tiny laughter into her voice, “What kind of an idiot goes to jump off a bridge and gets hit by car, huh?”




Her hair was blocking him from the side of her vision. Odin wasn’t responding. It was a difficult sentence to follow up, especially listening to water plip onto the bed sheet. He didn’t want to fuck this up. He didn’t want her to think that he was trying to be a knight-in-shining-armor. He wasn’t trying to be a hero. But he didn’t want to lecture her either.

He thought about every time Olai had beat him up as a kid, or every time he heard his sisters call him a freak, or tell him his stutter made him sound retarded before he’d yell at them for using that word. He tried to remember the moment he felt the loneliest, so that he could avoid talking down to her.

But in the end, Odin didn’t know what she was going through. Hell, whatever it was, it was probably a hell of a lot worse than he’d ever felt, and he wasn’t about to equate himself to her feelings. He really hadn’t been in her shoes. Saying that he had been was not what she needed to hear.

“Y-you’re n-not an idiot.” He said suddenly.

She scoffed, and sniffed, and she weakly rubbed her hand over her eyes. “I don’t want your pity, okay?”

“I’m n-not pitying you. I… It’s n-not stupid. T-to want t-to do that. A-and it’s m-my fault you got hit.”

She glanced up at him confused, and panic washed over him as he thought about his choice of words. He scrambled to elaborate, a hand shooting up to the back of his neck.

“I mean—you s-sh-shouldn’t d-d-do th-that—j-jump, I mean—I just m-meant that a-a lot of people th-think that suicide is—th-they think t-that it’s s-selfish, o-o-or c-cowardly, or… ‘e-e-emotionally immature’, or some bullshit l-like that.”

His face was violet. His stutter was just making a butchered mess of it all. He took a deep breath before looking up again.

“...Y-you’re not s-selfish, or i-immature, for f-f-feeling alone. You’re n-not stupid. Th-the way you feel is valid. S-sometimes, you t-think that’s t-the only—I m-mean, you shouldn’t, p-please don’t do that.”

Ava blinked slowly. His heart was throbbing against his ears—he was screwing this up so bad. He was just making her hurt worse.

Odin looked down and realized he was bouncing his leg, and that he was biting his lips again. He didn’t want to lecture her.

Ava sniffed again. Her lips weren’t shaking anymore, which relieved the ache in this chest. Usually, he could handle girls crying—three sisters had relieved him of that weakness—but Ava… she was so small, and so by herself. Except for him, he realized painfully. She would have been better off with anyone but him.

The two listened to the hum of the machines around them, listening to medical staff wheel about outside of the room. He bit into his bottom lip, feeling the flesh buckled under the push of his front teeth.

“J-just… why d-did… why did you w-want to do that?




She didn’t.

Ava Ire did not want to jump off that bridge.

She didn’t want to die.

She wanted to run a flower shop.

She wanted to wear cute underwear everyday, and smile every time she saw herself in the mirror.

She wanted people’s faces to light up when they saw her, just like they did with other people.

She wanted to sleep in clean linen.

She wanted to know what it was like to get used to someone holding her, to become familiar with someone.

She wanted enough friends to have an enormous dinner with, one where by the end of the night, they didn’t know if they were stuffed by the food or by all their laughter.

She wanted a bunny. At least one bunny. At least.

She wanted to live in a cottage with poppies growing next to it.

She wanted a family.

She wanted to sleep in when it rained, and listen to the thunder.

She wanted to feel the way her hair tickled the small of her back when it was soft and she shook her head back and forth, just to feel it sweep over her skin.

She wanted to read books, even if they were bad, but especially if they were good.

She wanted to eat ice cream straight out of the container and not care.

She wanted someone to share it with.

She wanted to wake up and be comfortable in her bed, and to want to get up.

She wanted to leave this city.

She wanted to live.

She wanted


She was so tired. So tired. She shifted back onto the stiff pillow, crinkling beneath her like paper, no longer interested in keeping herself propped up.

She let them slide back into a silence, listening to the world outside this room, that was so bloated with their presence that it’d become it’s own universe entirely. There wasn’t rain, or hospitals, or bridges in this room. The grey wall paper and laminate tile and everything else evaporated. It was only them.




Ava winced as her bruises protested her walk out of the hospital.

Odin’s hand hovered over back, trying not to irritate her soreness, but also keeping at the ready in case her weak form slipped on slick concrete, shimmering in dull greyness as the sky emptied the last of itself from last night.

Odin—Odin Arrow, as she’d learned—had offered to drop her off anywhere she wanted. He’d stayed the night, and Ava was too unfocused to decide if she was glad about that or not.

She had, however, decided that he was okay. Okay, in that he wasn’t just doing this so that he could feel like an upstanding citizen. He didn’t seem like someone who would talk someone off a ledge so that he could have something to brag about at the gates of heaven. She liked his stutter. She felt a little bad about that, since he probably didn’t, but his speech made her feel safer, knowing he wasn’t going to talk down to her.

Ava sighed. Her own thought process wasn’t even making sense.

The whole world around them still seemed like it was underwater. It felt smothered, the scent of rainy tar and grass lifting from the ground in waves. As they trekked across the parking lot, Ava could only faintly hear taxis and car horns from the early risers of the storm, the rest of the city still hesitant to emerge from their shelters. Odin led her around deeper puddles, but Ava could already feel dampness seep through her shoes. The entire lot, nearly empty, was submerged in a thin layer of wetness. It created something of an enormous mirror, and Ava watched herself and Odin beneath her feet, the two pairs plodding along at an equal pace and lifting ripples into the water around them.

They made their way to his car. It was black, and pretty nice, and Ava felt a pang of guilt at the thought of her denting it. She pulled Odin’s coat around her tighter—he’d draped it over her, since her sweaters and coats had been in her suitcase. It dwarfed her completely, but it made her feel cozy, and it smelled wonderful.

He opened the passenger door for her, and she pushed in slowly, trying not lean on her left side too much. He walked around the front of the car, and slid into the driver’s seat, sticking the keys into the ignition and starting up, immediately cranking the heater. He glanced at her, and cleared his throat.

“S-so… do you have an a-apartment?” he asked quietly.

She shook her head. “No. I was staying with a friend until last night.”

His face pinched in confusion. “W-Why until last night?”

“I was staying there until I figured out how to get out of the city. But we’d been fighting, and… I needed to leave. I couldn’t stay there anymore.”

Odin nodded.

But, to her surprise, he didn’t ask for an address.




Odin felt horrible. Horribly guilty, but accompanied by a twisting of his gut that told him what he was about to do was shitty.

He’d hit someone with a car. She was going to jump off that bridge. She had cried last night.

And now, he was just going to walk away from her. It felt like he was ripping himself out of quicksand and leaving her in it. He barely knew her, but he’d spent the last 12 hours focusing on her almost exclusively. After all of that, he was going to drop her off on a sidewalk somewhere and drive away. She didn’t even have a home to go home to. And what was to say she wouldn’t go back to that bridge? She had been intent on doing it last night... Odin imagined making it home, only for him to find some morbid text in the newspaper a few days later, depicting a nameless unfortunate found swollen in the bay. The thought made him sick.

He gripped the steering wheel, and listened to motor hum underneath them. He stared intently at the wheel. The longer he waited, the more irritated she was going to get.

Might as well ask. He swallowed hard.

“L-listen,” he started, ducking his eyes. “I d-don’t know what your p-plan is to get out of the city. You s-said you wanted t-t-to leave. B-but… i-if you want... you can c-come with me.”

He was almost too coward to glance at her to look for a reaction. Sure enough, her visage was wrought with cautious bewilderment, eyebrows knit together over shaded eyes. His heart thumped.

“I-I mean… That way, y-you have a place t-to go. And it’s a-away from here. l live with my s-siblings, and our h-house is out of the way…”

Odin cursed himself for not meeting her gaze. He brought his eyes up to hers, violet meeting scarlet. “You c-can stay there until y-you figure something out.” he finished softly.

Ava paused, and looked very guarded. Odin was sweating. This was horrible idea. He sounded like a creep.

“…Why did you wait until we were in the car until asking?”

Oh, Christ. She probably thought he was going to lock her in, and drag her out into the woods to have his way with her. Oh god.

“I just… I d-don’t know.”

Another pause. She turned and looked through the front windshield, watching rain drops run tracks into each other.

“…I don’t even know you.”

Odin nodded quickly, following with, “I-If you don’t want to come, I’m n-not going t-to make you. I’ll drop you off at a h-hotel, or s-something…”

He felt even worse than before. Not because she’d declined, but because he felt foolish, and probably made her feel even more uncomfortable. She barely knew him—hell, Ava had known him for even less time than he’d known her.

He waited for an address, or a location, but to his surprise, she didn’t give him one.




She wanted to run a flower shop.

She wanted to wear cute underwear everyday, and smile every time she saw herself in the mirror.

She wanted people’s faces to light up when they saw her, just like they did with other people.

She wanted to sleep in clean linen.

She wanted to know what it was like to get used to someone holding her, to become familiar with someone.

She wanted enough friends to have an enormous dinner with, one where by the end of the night, they didn’t know if they were stuffed by the food or by all their laughter.

She wanted a bunny. At least one bunny. At least.

She wanted to live in a cottage with poppies growing next to it.

She wanted a family.

She wanted to sleep in when it rained, and listen to the thunder.

She wanted to feel the way her hair tickled the small of her back when it was soft and she shook her head back and forth, just to feel it sweep over her skin.

She wanted to read books, even if they were bad, but especially if they were good.

She wanted to eat ice cream straight out of the container and not care.

She wanted someone to share it with.

She wanted to wake up and be comfortable in her bed, and to want to get up.


And Ava Ire was not going to get any of that in this city.



“W-What?” he said, his neck snapping upwards.

“Okay. I’ll go with you.”

He blinked. “O-oh. Then—“

But—!” she barked, whipping around to startle him, eyes flaming in a way that she hadn’t felt in a long time. “You do not get to think for one second that I am doing this for you. Don’t think that I’m going because you ‘saved me’. You hit me with your car, and that stopped me, and for that I thank you, but I am leaving this god forsaken city for me.”

She refused to back down from his gaze, and she could tell he knew better than to disobey her. Slowly, she settled back, sitting dignified.

"I’m doing this for myself. Got it?”




He was stunned into silence. He was shocked. He was amazed.

Where did that come from?

And suddenly, he realized he had nothing to worry about at all.

He put the car into reverse, not dropping her from his sight, a smile creeping onto his mouth.

“G-got it, firefly.”