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Thevshi

The Secret Garden

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Just outside London
Monday March 7, 2016
10:13 AM 

Gray clouds hung in the sky, typical of this time of year for England.  Dee Farrington was paying little mind to the clouds as she guided her Aston Martin down the busy streets, instead more focused on her destination and why she was going there. 

With her in the sports car was Erick Sloane, who, as Foreshadow, was her teammate on Vanguard.  The two had been involved for close to two years now, starting slightly after they had met during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.  From the moment they had met, there had been few secrets between them, in part due to Dee's telepathic abilities.  Having learned each other's identities from the start had allowed them both to be more open than either had been in any prior relationships.  But that still did not mean that there were not parts of Dee's life that she had kept from Erick. 

But now she had decided it was time to change that in regard to one of the things that meant the most to her in her life.  It was something she had been thinking about for some time, and finally on Valentine's Day she had decided it was time. 

But a part of her still felt nervous and uncertain.  She would be opening up a part of herself to Erick that she did not share with anyone. 

 

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"You know, I never thought I would miss Freedom City's traffic.  And then I came here."  Erick said jokingly.  Admiring how thick traffic congestion was in the area.  It wasn't even the most arduous drive in Europe.  That honor still belonged to Milan.  But, it was still as noteworthy as the ever graying skies.

 

Of course Erick didn't actually mind the long drive all that much.  If the consequence was being forced to spend more time with Dee in an enclosed space.  Well then he didn't feel like he was losing out in the slightest.  The small talk was merely a measure to distract Dee from whatever thoughts were running through her mind that were making her tense.

 

As much as he expected she would resist admitting any feeling of nervousness.

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"This is not really so bad."  Dee replied almost absentmindedly, veering the sports car around a slower moving car.  "You know how bad downtown London can get."  She added, again taking a deep breath as she spotted their destination up ahead.  Amid the other buildings that lined the streets, a larger section ahead on their left was instead dominated by a tall hedge that ran along the sidewalk.  Two gates allowed passage through the hedge to whatever lay beyond, one smaller for foot traffic, the other larger, straddling a driveway.   

It was the later that Dee guided the Aston Martin, pulling up next to an intercom as cameras looked down on the vehicle from atop the gate, rolling down her window as she did so.   

"May I help you dear?"  Came a female voice from over the intercom.   

Dee removed her sunglasses as she looked at the screen, focused on the fiber optic camera that was built in just above it.  "Lady Dawn Farrington."  She replied simply, her tone as neutral as Erick had ever heard it when using her title and full name. 

"Of course Lady Farrington, just a moment as I queue the gate."  Replied the voice on the other side as Dee put her sunglasses back on and the gate began to slide open.

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Erick considered commenting over the rarity of hearing Dee introduce herself with full name and title.  But, thought better of it.  There was a time to quip and a time to be supportive. Wordlessly he placed his hand over Dee's on the gear shift of the Aston Martin.  Flashing her a smile while they waited for the gate to open.

 

It wasn't quite the same as maneuvering the social combat that occurred while rubbing elbows with high society.  But, Erick was well aware when a certain savoir faire was needed.  And this air felt like such a minefield.  So he kept it short.  "Hey."

 

That softly spoken one word was meant to be a reassurance that he was right there in the passenger's seat.

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The touch of Erick's had on her's caused Dee to glance over at him, a faint smile coming to her face before she focused back on the opening gate.  The young Englishwoman found herself drawing some strength from Erick's support, yet another indicator that she was making the right choice in bringing him here. 

Soon the Aston Martin was moving forward once more, this time at a slower pace as it moved onto the narrow roadway through the facility’s grounds.   

They were rather large, plenty of green space and trees.  Then, the pair arrived at a small car park, next to a larger modern building that was an architectural beauty.   

As Dee pulled into a parking spot, Erick was able to make out the sign on the side of the building near the main entrance: Wiltmoor Hospital.

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Erick Sloane had no illusions over the fact that as intelligent as he was, his smarts still paled in comparison to Dee's.  The only subject he was confident in knowing more on was identifying money.   Whether that meant rubbing elbows with big whig bankers, or the lowlife who got the local crime boss his favorite sandwich every day.  And this was definitely a place that had money thrown on it.

 

He let out an appreciative whistle at the building.  "Top of the line security, cutting edge architecture, they probably have the best of the best on staff.  I might be a little jealous.  After David took me in, it's been solely this one concierge doctor he knew  And here I just sort of make do with back alley docs.  Can't exactly see a doc about knife wounds and gsw's y'know.  Too many questions."

 

He was joking about the back alley doctors.  But, the sentiment wasn't dishonest.

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Dee gave a faint smile at Erik's comment about back alley doctors.  "Well, luckily now you have access to some better doctors that won't ask too many questions."

As the two climbed out of the Aston Martin, the Englishwoman gave the hospital a distant look before adding.  "Yes, while my parents might have a number of behaviors that I cannot stand, their willingness to spend lots of money can be forgiven at times when it is for something that really matters." 

 The pair made their way to the main entrance of the hospital, which again had significant security before they were allowed through, with passes.  They were met by a nurse, who accompanied them into one wing of the hospital. 

"I am afraid your sister has been having a rough time in the last week Lady Farrington.  Hopefully your visit will brighten her up some."  The woman stated as they made their way through the quiet halls of the hospital.

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Erick stuck his elbow out inviting Dee to her arm around his.  The information that Dee's sister was having a rough go about it, was sad to hear.  But, Erick shared in the nurse's optimism.  "Hopefully, I make a good impression.  Would hate to get disapproval from your biggest fan, Miss Farrington." 

 

He genuinely wasn't sure what to expect.  Being able to see the future wasn't all that helpful when the rough stuff came from the past.  Erick would never do anything to press Dee too hard on anything as sensitive as this.  Allowing her to share when she felt comfortable enough with him.  The fact that he was even in the entranceway of the hospital was sign enough of how close they had grown.

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Dee frowned slightly at the information that her sister had not been doing well lately, but when Erik offered his elbow, she put her arm around his, tankful for his support to help her through.  "I am sure you will do fine"  She replied aloud.  <Also, try not to send any mental comments while we are there.>  She then added, using her abilities for the first time in over an hour.  <Even with medications, it can sometimes disturb Susan.> 

The two followed after the nurse as she led them down the halls until they reached Susan's room.  Knocking on the door as she unlocked it, the nurse announced their presence.  "Susan, your sister and a friend are here."  

Susan's room was well furnished, with a bed, table and chair and dresser.  Several personal items were in place throughout the room, pictures of Dee, their bother and their parents, as well as an acoustic guitar, which sat up against one of the walls in a corner. 

The resemblance between Susan and Dee was clear, although Susan’s hair was their natural blonde.  However, Susan had a much more haggard, tired look, and seemed to have an aura of despair around her.  She was seated on her bed, wearing a long gown, her knees up at her chest where she had been looking at the clouds outside. 

But as Dee and Erick made their way inside, she turned and regarded them, a trace of a smile coming to her face. 
"Hi Dee."  She said as Dee let go of Erick's arm and came over to sit next to Susan and gave her a hug.
 

Susan returned the hug, while her blue eyes, so similar to Dee's, focused on Erick.  "You've never brought a boyfriend here before."

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Alright, keeping all conversation verbal then.  He quickly responded before they entered the room.  Once inside, Erick gave the area a quick visual once over.  He suspected that Susan may have held her parents with less resentment.  Or else they wouldn't have received picture treatment.  Assuming she got a choice in the decorating that was. 

 

"The first?  I think your sister has a little bit of a crush on me then."  Erick said teasing Dee a little.  "Hello Susan, I'm Erick delighted to finally have the pleasure of meeting you."  He then stepped forward offering his hand to the blonde woman.

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Dee glanced over at Erick and gave him a slight smirk.  "Don't get too big a head, you were just the first which did not require coming up with some complicated lie about why Susan was here."  She replied with a teasing tone.  While the statement was true, it was far from the sole reason Dee had never shared this part of her life before.   

A fact that Susan was all too willing to voice.  "Don't listen to her.  She's too wrapped up in her tough girl image to admit when she is opening up the painful important parts of her life."  Susan stated as she took Erick's hand and shook it.  "It is a pleasure to meet you as well Erick, Dee has told me some about you."

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"All good things I hope?"   Erick responded while casually making his way over to the acoustic guitar.  Truthfully for as many talents as the young man had picked up over the years, he was not musically inclined.   He would have said nothing of it, however out of respect to Dee's request Erick had decided to leave little time to thought.  Allowing the words to form on his lips as soon as the thoughts.  "Do you play?  Or perhaps the Farrington's own a camper to romp around the countryside in a traveling family band?  Actually, did that show ever get distributed to the UK?"

 

The simple interplay between speech and reason would have left a more reasonable person embarrassed. Erick on the other hand, just steered into it.  "Truth be told, I never considered the possibility of opening up to anything serious or long term when I first started my dangerous extracurriculars.  I figured, Eh I'll probably die on a night out one day.  So may as well live in the moment.   Even less so when I got to cheat to read  the end of the book.  But, between you and I.  I sorta like her too.  Shhh, don't tell her though."

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"I would say it has all been rather good."  Susan replied as she tracked Erick's movements across the room.  Before she was able to respond to his initial question about the guitar she let out a bit of a laugh at his second comment about the family traveling around the countryside as a family band.  Dee smiled slightly as Erick caught a hint of a tear in the corner of an eye at the sight of her sister's brightened mood. 

"The thought of our parents owning something like a camper is enough of a stretch, but them ‘romping’ around as a family band, I can imagine little more impossible."  Susan stated, a small smile on her face as well. 

She then looked at the guitar as she added.  "But yes, I do play.  Like Dee I had a more classical musical education when we were young, but…after coming here I was able to expand to other areas.  It often helps me calm myself when the medication dosage does not do enough." 

She then considered Erick's comments about his generally attitude toward attachment.  "That sounds like a rather lonely way to go through life.  I am glad you felt things were different with Dee."  She replied, looking over to her sister.  "And I am pretty sure you do not need to tell her anything about how you feel."

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"It wasn't all bad.  My best friend, I suppose you guys would say mate, is and was like a sister to me.  Honestly, if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be new money.  My portfolio used to be pretty much entirely managed by her.  If it weren't for the time period she may even have been my sister.  But apparently, a rich stranger was more trustworthy than close family friends in a same-sex relationship.  Not that I have anything against David, love him really.  But, talk about lonely my adoptive father fits that to a t.  Then there's my foster brother."  Erick just whistled at the mention.  And moved the topic back to the light-hearted imagery of the nonexistent family band.

 

"So no camper for Lord Farrington?  I could get him a great deal on a secondhand.  It's not too late to start the family band.  Although I'm sure Edward would like to be the frontman.  Just promise me an autograph before this becomes a Behind the Music special on tv."

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Susan’s smile faded slightly, but there was still a trace of it.  "Edward might have been interested in something like that once, but he has continued to become rather more like father of late." 

Dee’s expression became a bit more serious as she looked at her twin.  "Is that part of why you have been having a hard time recently?"  She asked, a bit of an edge to her voice. 

Susan gave a small shake of her head as she looked back to Dee.  "No, not really.  He has been by a bit less frequently, but he still visits.  I think it has been more a problem with the drugs or the dosage.  It is been harder to keep things out of my head."

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"If you'd like we could take a look.  I'm no Dee when it comes to the science thing.  But, when it comes to throwing money at things there's no one better.  So, the top of the line lab I had built in my place would give an opportunity to take a look at the composition of your party mix."  Erick offered Susan.  Though really, it was more for Dee's benefit.  To give her the feeling of contributing more to Susan's care.

 

As competitive as he was.  There were times that aiming for a silver medal didn't feel like second place.  "Well, I obviously didn't grow up with the guy.  But, he doesn't give me too bad of a feeling.  Maybe I can just respect his attention seeking qualities.  Seeing how we met at Socchi.  But, a dinner with your brother still doesn't sound as bad as a dinner with your dad even for new money like me."

 

Not that he was positive Lord Farrington was judging him for being new money.  But, when your investments turned your millions into billions at a rate that competed with the owners of Social Media and online shipping platforms (which of course he had invested in) he expected a little resentment.  Especially with as concerned with appearances as Dee made him out to be.

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Susan looked over at Erick as he offered for them to take a look at her medication mix but then stated.  "I would not want to take up you or Dee's time."

 

But Dee quickly responded as she took her sister's hands.  "Don't you worry about that.  You know I will do anything that might be able to help you.  Sides, I would be interested to poke around the chemical mix they are giving you, and wouldn't want Erick's investment in the lab to go to waste."

 

"Well…if your sure."  Susan replied after a moment.  She then looked back at Erick.  "Edward is not a bad sort, just…I think he has been adding a lot to his schedule."  She paused a moment then gave another small smile.  "And I would not be so quick to assume our father will have such a negative view of you.  Yes you might lose a few marks being new money, but, the fact you have money will be a plus.  The bigger plus is likely to be the fact you have helped keep Dee out of the tabloids as much as she used to be."


"That settles it, we have to break up."  Dee suddenly said with another of her smirks.

 

"Again, do not listen to her."  Susan said with another small smile.

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