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Hugo High School

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Olivia watched him with curiousity, surveying him with mild amusement. He seemed a little more than scattered and it was hard for her to not comment on it. But then he noticed Lucy and she watched him carefully. He looked surprised and somewhat amazed. She glanced down at Lucy herself, a small smile curving her lips with ease.

Reaching down, she scooped her up and settled her against her hip. Lucy was almost too big for her to do this anymore, and in a few months to a year she wouldn't be able to at all. Olivia kissed the small girl's forehead before lowering her lips to her ears.

"Can you say hi?" she asked, nudging her with her nose and a smile before glancing towards Ryker.

"Hi," Lucy said, though she didn't seem interested in having a conversation and struggled to be put down.

Olivia set her down, but restrained her from walking away into the crowded streets. She glanced at Ryker as if apologizing for Lucy's lack of interest. The small girl was more than used to meeting different people and rarely took an interest in them.

"Hey," Olivia said gently, "Do you want to come with us? We were just about to go-"

"-shopping!" Lucy interjected eagerly

-----

Brixon smiled at her answer and his eyes closed instantly as her lips pressed against his. He deepened the kiss, rolling over so that he was on top of her, but pulled away after a few minutes. He smiled over her, kissing her gently before rolling back over and sitting up.

"We should probably get up," he said, ruffling his dark hair.

He slipped out of the bed, squeezing her hand gently before releasing her completely. The days that went by without seeing her were the only days that were ever truly hard for him. He felt like he could spend every moment with her and never get bored with being around her. It was like a breath of fresh air everytime he was with her, like nothing could ever be wrong with her around.

Brixon lazily got dressed, his fingers moving slowly over buttons and zippers and fabrics. He went into the main living area of Nat's apartment and then the kitchen as he realized how hungry he was. Brixon shuffled around, knowing where everything was, grabbed two bowls, a box of cereal and some milk. He wasn't in the mood to cook or go out to eat so cereal suited him just perfectly; of course, if Natayla wanted something, he would make it for her.

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Ryker watched the young girl as she looked at him for a brief moment to say hello but then quickly looked away as if he wasn't of much interest. He smiled softly, finding it funny that he was her biological father and yet she didn't even know it. She would learn the news whenever Olivia felt it necessary.

He looked over at Olivia when she spoke about joining them to go shopping and his smile grew a bit when Lucy interjected the final word. He didn't exactly want to go shopping, but he knew this could be the only time Olivia would invite him to hang out with her and Lucy. He didn't know if this was her offer to get along again, but he hoped it was.

"Well, sure," he said, shrugging.

------

Nat stretched out after Brixon got up, feeling her muscles tense up then relax and she let out a deep breath. Rolling back over onto her stomach, she propped her chin up on her palms, watching him as he got dressed, a small smile on her lips. Waiting another moment before getting up out of bed, she headed to her closet, giving a short moments thought before picking out a soft pair of jeans and her favorite cashmere sweater. Changing slowly, she went into the bathroom and ran a brush through her long hair and then applying a small amount of makeup.

Running a hand through her hair and then flipping it over her shoulder, she headed to the kitchen where she heard Brixon moving around. Coming up next to him, she wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her chin on his shoulder, giving him a soft kiss on the cheek.

"What do you want to do today?" she asked in a hushed voice, her mouth right by his ear. Pulling back a little bit without taking her arms from around his waist, she looked at him with her eyes, watching his face.

[[sorry they're short.]]

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Olivia nodded when he agreed, glad that he was willing to spend time with Lucy. She could sense his hesitation at the word 'shopping', but he didn't suggest anything else so she wasn't going to offer it. Tucking her hair behind her ear self conciously, she allowed Lucy to pull her along the streets.

They entered the first store, a small, expensive, modern boutique that was designed specifically for girls Lucy's age. It was where most of her clothes were from. Olivia released Lucy's hand as soon as they entered the air conditioned space and greeted on of the regular sales women with a friendly smile before she started wandering around the store. Her eyes continuously slid around, glancing quickly at Lucy, who was putting clothes in the sales woman's arms so quickly it was alarming, and then moved on to Ryker.

She unconciously drifted towards him, her fingers brushing against different fabrics and different styles of clothing. Olivia picked up a light weight, soft green sweater and hastily found Lucy's size. She knew that to some extent she was avoiding Ryker, but she wasn't exactly sure why. Olivia watched Lucy with amusement as she began trying on clothes, quickly deciding what she did and didn't want.

"She's not always such a tyrant," Olivia said quietly to Ryker as she finally approached, a few more articles for Lucy in her arms, "She just knows what she likes."

-----

Brixon felt Natalya enter the room and was about to turn and greet her when her arms slipped around his waist. The gentle peck on his cheek made him smile lightly and he quickly covered her hands with his. He turned at her question, a light, teasing kind of grin on his face. Brixon had kept his hands on hers, not allowing her to move.

"Marry you," he said lightly, the tease flickering over his face and in his eyes. Though, if Natayla agreed, he would seriously marry her in a heart beat.

He kissed her briefly, before releasing his hold on her and grabbing their breakfast stuff again. Brixon placed their stuff at the table before sitting down and patting the chair beside him.

[[Not a problem! Mine weren't much better =/]]

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[[i'm so sorry it took me so long to reply! I got really busy and wasn't very inspired to post. But I will try to keep up now.]]

Ryker was quiet after he agreed to come, following Olivia and Lucy down the streets to a store. He walked around in the store, but didn't wander too far. He felt a bit uncomfortable in the store, especially with all the clothes and girly things. He wasn't a big shopper, but just the whole situation made him feel a bit awkward. The fact that he was shopping with Olivia and their daughter and yet the young girl didn't know it bothered him a bit. He didn't know how to act or what to say.

After a moment of walking slowly around the store, Ryker stood in the middle of the store, hands in his jeans front pockets, letting his eyes just watch Lucy run around with all of the clothes. Ryker felt obligated to say he would pay for whatever she wanted, but he didn't know if it would be strange since the fact that he was Lucy's dad wasn't known to Lucy herself.

Looking over at Olivia as she approached, his blue eyes watched her body language carefully, trying to determine how she was feeling. He just felt so out of place and yet he didn't really want to be anywhere else. He gave a weak smile at her comment, not sure what to say at first.

"I guess that a good thing," he said, knowing he probably sounded stupid with that, but he felt like something should be said.

--------

Hold a sweet smile on her face, Nat watched Brixon, listening for a response. She didn't have much of an opinion on what to do, anything he said was fine with her. As he faced her and then spoke two words, it took her a moment process what he even said. But as soon she saw the look on his face and how he moved away, her heart fell slightly as she realized it was just a joke.

She turned and faced the counter for a moment as he moved the food the to table. She didn't understand why she had such a reaction, but her emotions were getting the best of her. She had actually gotten excited and surprised at the idea, thinking it was serious offer, which was ridiculous. Letting out a soft, quiet sigh, she fumbled around with the silverware on the counter, pretending like nothing happened. She knew he would notice her change of attitude, but she would give it a chance.

Natalya turned around and headed back over to the table, holding a smile on her face, averting eye contact as she set the silverware down. Sitting down next to him, she adjusted her food in front of her before getting herself to say anything.

"But seriously," she said, with a smile on her face, like she was going along with his joking, "what should we do?" It was hard to keep her facade up, but Nat didn't want let anything show.

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[[Ha don't worry about it! Goodness knows that I've made you wait longer]]

Olivia shifted slightly in discomfort, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. He was making the situation uncomfortable and she didn't know why, which bothered her somewhat. If he hadn't wanted to come he should have said that. She breathed out slowly, keeping herself from saying anything snide or unnecessary. Sparking conflict wasn't what she was after, she was tired of fighting, she hated it.

"What's wrong?" she asked quietly, her eyes glancing towards Lucy's dressing room, not wanting her to overhear their conversation.

She sat down on the creme couch behind them, moving her gaze back towards him. Olivia knew that whatever he was going to say would probably spark another argument because one of them was going to get upset. Instead of allowing him the time to answer him, she plowed on.

"Would you rather do something else? Because once Lucy is done here we can go do something else. I just, don't know what you want," she said, somewhat exasperated with the situation at hand.

-----

Brixon instantly noticed the change in Nat's mood and he internally kicked himself; he should know better than to joke around about stuff like that, especially with Nat, but it was just one of his less than perfect traits. He shifted slightly when she sat down, not knowing what to say. When she attempted to go along with his not so funny joke, he felt even worse.

He wrapped his fingers around her knee, squeezing it in what he hoped was comforting manner. Brixon leaned towards her gently, still debating on what to say.

"Nat, I'm sorry, I shouldn't joke about that," he said quietly to her, trying to get her to look at him so that she knew how sincere he was being. It wasn't something he should joke about, marriage was serious, especially when they'd been in a relationship as long as they had.

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Ryker watched Olivia as she spoke again, this time quieter and with a quick glance over to the dressing room. He didn't reply at first, knowing how this would all play out if he did. It was just like back when they were in high school. She would ask a question but it was almost like she didn't want an answer. He had known her so well back then and it still hadn't all left him. With her body language and tone of voice he knew she was a bit bothered by him and the way he was acting.

Watching her sit down and then question him again, without leaving him room to answer, he sighed. He couldn't help but feel a bit short-fused now too. Moving to sit down on the couch next to her, Ryker took that time to think and compose an answer, knowing every word would make a difference.

"No," he answered to her question about wanting to do something else. There was nothing else he'd rather be doing, it was just the situation at hand that left it with a bit of awkwardness.

"It's just... How do you want me to act, Olivia? I don't know how to act with her not knowing," he answered, his voice hushed, but with a pressing tone to it. His eyebrows were knit together as he searched her face, listening and waiting.

"Should I pretend like I don't even know? Because this situation isn't working. I'll leave if you want me to, if that will make everything better," he added, trying to be as flexible as possible because he would do whatever she asked, anything to make her and Lucy happy.

-------

Nat had looked back down at the table by the time she felt his hand on her knee. She had to bite her lip, holding back her wave of emotions. She felt bad for acting like this but she had such a hard time restraining it. She put her chin in her palm, elbow rested on the table with her other hand lightly laid over his on her knee.

As he spoke, she sniffed a little, feeling her eyes tear up. She closed them for a moment, bothered that she couldn't hold it back. Looking up at him after a moment, she let her eyes watch his face, seeing that everything he said was sincere. She was thankful he was so sweet about it all.

"It's okay, I shouldn't be so sensitive," she murmured, taking her hand away from under her chin and wiping the tiny amount of tears away from her eyes.

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His response surprised her. She hadn't expected that to be what was bothering him so much. Maybe it was because she had just wanted him to be overwhelmed with Lucy and the idea of her and the fact that she hadn't told him about her, but no, he was concerned about the fact that Lucy didn't know that he was her father.

"Would you like me to tell her in the middle of a store? Or maybe out by a hot dog vendor? That would be a good place to meet your dad, wouldn't it?" she said, her tone was short and sarcastic, but it was angry, just irritated. Olivia hated how much they had argued since bumping into each other a few days before; she wanted to have a normal conversation with him, but neither of them were making that a very likely prospect.

"Because Ryker, if that's how you want her to find out then fine, that's how I'll tell her. Or better yet, you can tell her. I was waiting for a better moment, the right moment, or at least as right as it ever would be. But whatever you want to do," she paused for a moment, restlessly tucking her hair behind her ear, "And of course I don't want you to leave, that wouldn't solve or accomplish anything."

She stopped speaking again and breathed out in a heavy sigh, trying to put herself in Ryker's situation, while at the same time trying to stick to her own thoughts and feelings. "Look, I know that this situation isn't perfect, and I know that it's not easy for you, it isn't easy for me either, but I don't know what to do. This isn't a chapter in a parenting book or something I can ask my mom about."

-----

"You aren't being sensitive. I would marry you today, I would marry you without thinking, but right now it isn't right. We're too young and we both have so much going on now, with work and then me with Olivia and Lucy. But someday, I will marry you," he said earnestly, not really thinking about what he was saying, but rather feeling it.

Brixon knew that one day he would marry her, he was too in love with her to think that they wouldn't. He squeezed her knee again and leaned forward to kiss her forehead gently. It was crazy to think that they were where they were in their lives and relationship, especially when he thought about how they met and how little she had liked him at first. His lips lowered to hers, softly but pressing, he wanted her to feel better, to feel okay.

He truly could kiss her forever, but he reluctantly pulled away, resting his forehead against hers, "I love you more than you can even imagine"

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Ryker watch her as she seemed to grow tense, a bothered look finding its way onto her face. He started to feel himself get tense too, almost nervous to hear what she was going to say. He was never good at conversations like this where he had to convey his feelings. He always managed to say the wrong thing that pushed her buttons and she always topped him, like it was fight and she would win. It was a horrible way to think of it, but he couldn't help but feel that way.

As she snapped about how to tell Lucy, he nearly cringed, feeling himself get beat down. She always managed to take the hard swing that hurt the most. It was like her defense was so strong he had no chance in these conversations. Sighing and lifting a hand, he rubbed his eyes, feeling exasperated with the situation at hand.

"No, Olivia, that's not what I want either," he spoke, his voice a bit defeated. He felt like every time he did try to get through to her his side, it's never clear enough. He listened as she went on and watched her speak to him, but he left like this arguing wasn't getting them anywhere. If anything it just made both of them more angry at each other which was the last thing they needed.

"I understand, but us arguing like this isn't accomplishing anything either. And the more we sit here and talk like this, the worse it will get. I don't want us to keep going on like this," he told her after a moment, looking to see if she would soften at anything he said.

Ryker felt like they needed a different approach to this. They needed to be somewhere else, in a different mood without all of the pressure of the situation. The best thing he could think of was going out to dinner where they could just talk and hopefully be themselves. Maybe go back to having conversations like they used to. It was at least worth a shot.

"So how about tonight, just you and me, go out to dinner? No Lucy, no distractions. You can pick the place, anywhere you want to go in this whole city."

He wasn't sure if she would take it the right way or not, but if he knew her like he used to, this would be the best chance they had at any reconciliation.

-------

Nat felt her hand trembling slightly, possibly from the rush of emotion or just the whole surprise of the whole conversation. She never thought she could have such reactions and it was slightly embarrassing, but she was grateful for the words that Brixon spoke back. He was so sweet and kind and gentle with her and she knew she couldn't ask for a better guy. The things he said were exactly what she needed to hear.

She nodded in understanding of his words and gave the weakest of smiles to his soft kiss on her forehead. Natalya was amazed that after so many years they still had the same chemistry and spark that they started with. She felt like the luckiest girl on earth to have something as special as what they had.

Returning his small, sweet kiss, she sniffled one last time before looking at him, barely being able to focus because of how close they were. His soft words nearly melted her heart and she gave a sweet smile. Picking her arms up, she hung them loosely over his shoulders, her hands running gently through his hair.

"Well I have a pretty wild imagination..." she joked in a low voice, smiling wider and then giving him one last soft kiss.

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Olivia was equallly exasperated with the situation. Arguing hadn't been her intention when starting the conversation. She didn't know how she felt when Ryker didn't really respond. In her eyes he wasn't fighting for what he wanted, again, and that frustrated her somewhat. Olivia wondered momentarily if she left right then if he would even try to stop her.

His comment made her nod in agreement, she didn't want to keep argung like this. She didn't feel bad that she had potentially hurt his feelings, he was hurting hers by not fighting back; which was strange. Olivia disliked that she felt like she walked all over what he wanted, but he never fought for what he wanted, so she was just going to start assuming that meant he didn't want it that badly.

"Lucy isn't something that just goes away, or is a distraction," she began definsively, crossing her arms in front of her chest. Olivia was about to say that it probably wasn't a good idea when she caught his eye, for the barest of seconds, and her heart jumped to her lips, "But, maybe dinner, just the two of us would be the best solution."

-----

Every nerve in his body seemed to come alive when her fingers slipped through his hair. The feeling was merely magnified by her words and his smile came easily, staying even after her kiss. His hand slipped over the smoothness of her leg while the other rested near her lower back, supporting it.

"Well," he murmured, a wicked smile on his face as he spoke between gentle, teasing kisses on her lips that carried down her jaw to her soft neck, "In that case, we can just go back to bed and put it to the test." As if to emphasize his point, his teeth and lips closed down on the soft skin of her neck, in a quick, sharp manner that was equally playful.

Brixon slowly pulled away from her, knowing that he would turn his words into action if he didn't stop himself. He left his hand on her thigh, just liking the familiarity that she provided. He took a moment, just to gather himself, before giving her a sly sideways glance.

"But, seriously? If that's not an option then we can head to the park or go back to Brooklyn and just hang out."

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Ryker felt himself nearly holding his breath, waiting for her to answer. He could just imagine her tearing him down again and it was the only thing he was expecting, but he tried to think positively. He could see her getting tense and he could feel her frustration in the air.

As soon as her mouth open he nearly cringed again, the words stinging. He hadn't meant for what he said to sound that way. Lucy wasn't a distraction, not in that negative way, but he meant nothing that would hold their attention from each other. He looked at her, hoping she wouldn't snap anymore, but then she spoke again and everything seemed to change. He was so thankful she had said yes. A smile finally found a way onto his face and he watched for a moment, making sure her answer was sincere before continuing.

"Where do you want to go?" he asked, his blue eyes watching her.

--------

Nat felt a shiver go through her body as she felt his hand on her leg, a smile pushing on her lips as he kissed her softly. She closed her eyes for a moment and then listened to him talk, giving a soft giggle as he bit her neck playfully. She let her hands rub though his soft hair before feeling him pull away slowly. Looking at him, she let her eyes wander his face, a smile plastered on her face.

She listened as he spoke again and she laughed softly, knowing he was trying to keep himself from going too far. She admired the fact that he had some self-restraint and was a gentleman.

"You'll have to wait for that until after we're married," she teased, giving him a little wink. Nat knew it would kill him to hear that and of course she was just teasing him about the whole marriage thing he started, but she was also showing him how she was okay with it.

"But Brooklyn sounds nice," she added, taking her hands from his hair and putting one over his that was still rested on her thigh.

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Ryker's smile was mirrored in Olivia's features after she agreed, feeling some sort of normalcy fall between them. Before she could answer his question, Lucy was tugging on her elbow and it was back to reality. She smiled warmly at her daughter and then swept past her towards the salespeople who were weighed down with clothing that Lucy had picked out.

"Why don't you go and narrow that down to your top twelve and then we'll go," she said quietly, but Lucy appeared to know better than to complain or protest because she immediately returned to the clothing in order to sort through it. Olivia watched her for a moment before turning her attention back to Ryker, "Well, there's this great Thai place in SoHo, but I don't know if you like Thai? It doesn't really matter to me, I'll eat pretty much anything."

She shrugged her shoulders and stood as Lucy headed back towards them. Olivia nodded to the woman to ring everything up and then glanced back down at Ryker with a small smile as Lucy loitered near the check out counter, watching the pricy clothing ring up.

"What time did you want to go?" she asked, heading towards the counter as she pulled her wallet from her clutch. Olivia didn't even glance at the total, simply handed her card to the woman who had helped with a small smile.

Once the checked out, Olivia distributed the bags between herself and Lucy, taking more than her daughter, and they headed back onto the streets.

-----

Brixon chuckled softly at her words, not believing her for a moment. He was glad that she appeared to be in a better mood, especially that she was joking about the marriage thing. When her hand covered his, he turned his over and interlaced their fingers, enjoying how intimate their morning had become; but he still didn't plan on joking about the marriage thing for a while.

When she agreed to go to Brooklyn he nodded, glad that that was what she had chosen. He loved the vibe of Brooklyn; it wasn't quite as busy or as crazy as the city could get. Plus, it meant that they could just chill and not get caught up in the crowds.

"It does sound nice; but anything with you would be nice," he said with a slight shrug, returning to his cereal that had become somewhat soggy during the past ten or so minutes.

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Ryker was relieved as she gave him a smile in return, now feeling that everything was heading back in the right direction. His attention was drawn away as Lucy came up to Olivia and he watched the young girl as she got her mother's attention. As he saw the clothes the little girl had picked out, he was blown away by the number. He knew girls liked to shop, but at such a young age- that was a bit scary.

He stood as Olivia did, watching them as they got up and headed to the clothes. He was feeling a bit better now that things were turning around. He knew not everything was sorted out, but he was at least glad that this little fight was over. Hopefully they could end up having a nice evening with nothing negative involved.

As she suggested Thai food, Ryker nodded, listening to her suggestion. He didn't know a lot of restaurants in the big city, so he would go with whatever she chose. He wasn't a picky eater and he had been accustomed to eating anything by the time he was only five.

"That's sounds great," he replied, holding his smile. The air around them seemed to feel lifted a bit. He followed Lucy and Olivia over to the cash register and waited patiently as they checked out. He thought about what time, he didn't know what she would like best. It was already nearly noon and he didn't know how much longer she would want to hang out.

"I'm not sure... How about seven?" he asked, heading out of the store along side Olivia and Lucy.

------

Natalya watched him for a moment and looked down at their hands as he laced them together, her heart beating just a little faster. She glanced over at their breakfast as he turned back to it, smiling at the sight of the soggy cereal. She made an attempt to take a bite, but she wasn't one for inflated, wet cereal loops. Making a small face, she decided maybe she'd just skip breakfast and save her appetite for a lunch out.

"Let's do that. Maybe we could skip this meal and eat a later lunch?" she added, giving him a sort of puppy dog face.

She didn't know if he'd question her for skipping a meal, especially with her history, but she hoped he'd see her reasons why.

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[[Okay, I'm just going to ff, because I don't know what else to do because I kind of have a lack of muse on where to go lol]]

Olivia stepped back from the mirror, made a face, ripped the dress off and put a different one on, before repeating the process. Ryker was supposed to be there in fifteen minutes and she wasn't even close to being ready. After shopping, the three had gone to the park and fed the ducks, which had gone along a least somewhat smoothly; though she knew that he was still upset that Lucy didn't know the total truth.

She muttered darkly under her breath, glancing around at the mess that she had made. Olivia couldn't ignore the butterflies that were starting to well in her stomach and they were making it hard to find something to wear. Five minutes later, she finally found a dress in the back of her closet; it was deep purple with an a-line cut that stopped just at her mid-thigh.

There was a knock on the door, which Olivia assumed meant that Ryker was there, which was confirmed when Brixon called for her. She cursed quietly, and kicked her dresses into the closet, wanting to make her room somewhat presentable when she opened the door. Olivia quickly ran a brush through her hair, frustrated that she hadn't had the time to do anything else with it, and applied make-up.

Olivia grabbed a small black bag that matched her shoes and headed into the main living area, quite unsure of herself. She felt like she was in high school again, at least until she saw Lucy eating the macaroni that Brixon had made for her. Olivia wanted it to be like high school, where everything was easy and simple, but it couldn't be that way, not with Lucy.

She greeted everyone, and kissed Lucy on the head before glancing towards Ryker, "Are you ready?"

-----

Brixon had agreed to a late lunch and the pair had spent the afternoon in Brooklyn, just going around to their favorite spots; he had dragged her into the office for a couple minutes to check something and into a small gallery that his friend was opening. Basically it had just been a fun, good time all around and he had instantly agreed to babysit Lucy that night.

They got back to the loft just after Olivia and Lucy and Brixon had seamlessly shifted into uncle-mode. He played with her, helped her unload her clothes, etc. Once Ryker and Olivia left, he let Lucy watch the television, sitting down on the other side of her and pulling Nat down with him.

"What do you think of Olivia and Ryker trying this?" he asked Nat quietly, not wanting Lucy to overhear.

[[sorry for all the pp!]]

Edited by *Magikal*Wish*

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[[i'm so sorry it's taken me so long to post! I've been so busy with school and sports. I think I'm going to have more time now so I will try to post more often.]]

Ryker stepped out of the cab, pulling his blazer closer around his body as the wind whipped at him. It was a chilly night because of the wind, but if otherwise it was nice. He walked up to her apartment front, feeling a quick wave of nerves running over him. He wasn't exactly overwhelmed with nerves, he was just a bit unsure of what to expect. He was hoping she would be open to the whole evening out and it would be casual fun, nothing awkward or anything. He just wanted to be able to hang out and get them back to where they used to be even though four years was a hard gap to fill.

Knocking on the door, he was quickly greeted by Brixon, a friendly face to see. Ryker was relieved to see him first. As he stood in the main front room, his eyes caught sight of Natalya and then Lucy. He held a small smile on his face as he watched Lucy eat her dinner, unaffected by his presence. He said a quick hello to Nat and stood in the middle of the room, waiting patiently for Olivia. Ryker was wearing a black blazer that he left unbuttoned, a plain v neck shirt and dark denim jeans.

As she came into the room, his smile widened a bit, the sight of her all dressed up bringing back memories from high school. He wished it was as simple as that, but not anymore. The way she moved around and tended to Lucy before even acknowledging showed how much she had become a mom.

"Ready if you are," he replied, giving her a smile, putting his hands in his front pockets as he waited for her reply.

---------

Nat said hello to Ryker when he entered, happy to see him but not particularly under the circumstances. She saw him off and on through the years, but it was just strange to her that he was talking to Olivia again. The two just seemed so far apart from where they used to be. It wasn't like she didn't want to them to get along again, it just seemed like their lives had drifted so far apart that it looked hard to pull it back together.

After the two had left and Lucy was settled in, she sat down on the couch next to Brixon, snuggling close. She listened to his question and a crease fell across her forehead, thinking back to how she felt about it. Nat thought for a moment before looking over at Brix.

"I don't know," she started softly. "I think its a bit strange, especially after so long. But I guess if they're up to it..." she said, shrugging. She couldn't really harness her thoughts well so she didn't really say much at all. "You?"

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[[No problem!]]

Olivia nodded in response, saying a quick farewell to everyone before exiting from the loft. She walked quietly beside Ryker, not sure what to say. Once they stepped outside, she instantly regretted not grabbing a jacket, it was a cool evening and she tended to get cold quickly. Crossing her arms in front of her she turned left instead of hailing a taxi.

"The restaurant is just up here on the left," she said, finally breaking the silence.

The walk to the restaurant was uneventful and they reached it in a matter of minutes; before she could get too cold, but she was still thankful when they walked into the restaurant. It was a small, dimly lit room that was about three-quarters of the way full. The lighting and size made it feel cozy and welcomed people to sit down.

The hostess seated them immediately and Olivia accepted the seat by the window, glad that they could people watch if there was a lull in the conversation. She ordered her drinks, a cup of water and a glass of Pinot Noir. The beverages arrived almost immediately and Olivia took a sip of the alcohol before glancing across the candlelight at Ryker.

"Have you talked to Giselle?" she asked curiously, figuring that she had some sort of right to know the answer. Especially if this was a date, not that it was, but if it was to him too, then she did.

-----

Brixon wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. She felt so familiar and perfect against him that he couldn't help but smile. Everything about her made him smile, it was just another reason why he loved her. He rested his head on hers, listening to her and nodding slightly in understanding.

"I agree, it's strange, but if they can work it out it'll be great, for everyone. But, if they can't I think things are going to get really tough," he said honestly

[[sorry those were rough, I'm tired]]

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Ryker walked in silence with Olivia to the restaurant, surprised it was so close, but also thankful. It wasn't awkward, it was just a bit unnerving to start the night off that way. Once they reached the place, they moved swiftly to a table and settled in nicely. He ordered a bourbon, wanting something dry and strong.

Hearing Olivia's question as he took a small sip, he was a bit caught off guard by the question. He had put aside any thoughts of Giselle almost the whole day and just that small reminder brought a whirlwind of guilt to his stomach. He felt horrible about dropping her so quickly and without warning. They hadn't broken up or anything and he hadn't told her about why he hadn't left. His phone had been turned off all day. His eyes slid down to his pocket where he knew it sat, questions running rapidly through his head.

Looking back at Olivia, he sighed, putting his drink down and rubbing his face.

"No, not yet. I just... I don't know what to say," he said, feeling a bit hopeless about that situation. He realized his situation was nearly the same as Olivia's with Lucy, which was a bit ironic.

-------

Nat snuggled into Brixon's body, comforted by his warmth and sharp cologne. She wished they could live separate from Olivia and Ryker's drama, not have to worry about them for a while. Everything managed to end up being about one of the other three: Lucy, Olivia or Ryker.

She listened to his words, agreeing. If they didn't pull it together, she knew they'd both end up pretty beat up about it, or upset, or angry. The only good outcome was if they fixed everything and worked it out, which was probably the toughest road to take.

"Yeah, that is true," she said, sighing softly, closing her eyes for a moment. Her arm moved across his stomach, wrapping around his body and snuggling in closer, wanting to just melt into him.

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She followed his eyes and watched the guilt swarm into them, a small bit of satisfaction ran coolly through her skin. Olivia nodded slightly at his answer, not surprised or upset by what he said, she just wanted to be kept somewhat abreast of what was happening. Her satisfaction sprang from the irony that surrounded them at the moment. He had been angry that she hadn't told Lucy upon introduction exactly who he was, and yet he'd had almost two days to talk to Giselle and had yet to say a word.

Olivia decided that commenting on the matter would more than likely just turn into a hissy fit between the two of them, so she settled with pressing her lips together before taking another sip of her drink. She crossed her legs and rested her chin in her hand, leaning towards him slightly so she could hear better over the buzz of conversations that surrounded them.

"You don't live in the city, right?" she asked, deciding that they probably needed to get the basics down if they were really going to make this work.

------

Brixon knew by her comment that she was weary of talking about Olivia and Ryker and to an extent so was he. It was different though, since they were family to him whereas Ryker wasn't truly blood to her. But he also knew that she considered him apart of her family. All around it was a fairly complicated situation.

He let it go, instead focusing his attention on Natayla as she shrunk her body against his. His eyes fell shut, breathing her in as he rested his chin on her head for a moment. Everything about her was so familiar to him; he knew every inch of her skin, every freckle or mark on her body and all the nuances of her personality.

Brixon gently pulled her onto his lap, wanting her to be as close as possible and gently cradled her in his arms. He kissed her jaw softly before moving his lips to her ear, pressing his forehead against her hair.

"You are my everything," he cooed in her ear. He pulled his face a little, angling his chin to kiss her softly and then pulled back enough so that he comfortably look her in the eye, "We should get a place together. Just the two of us. No Ryker. No Olivia. But Lucy would have to come every now and then."

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Ryker's eyes traced her face, watching her reaction, different ideas of what she was thinking running around in his head. She was being extremely cool compared to early that morning, but it was sometime to be thankful for, he would definitely rather have the calm Olivia rather than the fiery one who was hard to beat at a conversation.

He looked out the window for a brief moment as a silence set in for a moment. There was no sense of awkwardness between them, but there was something that left Ryker feeling a bit unsettled. He decided it was probably just the fact that things were still unresolved between the two of them. That would take the most time to fix, all of the details and decisions that were to be made about it all.

Looking back at Olivia as she spoke again, he didn't have to think long before answering.

"Yeah, I live down in New Jersey, actually. I'm finishing up my degree in graphic design at a small college."

------

Nat let herself melt into Brixon, allowing him to pull her up onto his lap. She felt so comfortable and relaxed when she was with him, like nothing could ever go wrong. Time seemed to freeze when they were together. Well, that, or pass too quickly. A small smile crawled onto her face as he kissed her softly, her eyes still shut.

As he pulled her chin towards him, she opened her eyes and met the kiss, a smile breaking out across her lips again. As he spoke, her heart fluttered softly, his words something any girl would die to hear. At his suggestion that they move in together, she sat up, giving him a bit of a surprised look. It seemed so sudden and yet it felt so right.

"Really?"

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"Do you know what you want to do when you get out?" she asked, truly interested in what he had to say.

Olivia felt like she had missed a lot in his life in the past years, and that was unsettling to her. Brixon and Natayla had only mentioned him when it was absolutely necessary, which she appreciated greatly. Hearing about him had been too much for her to handle, which she guessed just showed how much she still cared about him. If it hadn't been for Lucy there was no doubt in her mind that they would have stayed together.

She ordered her food when the waitress came, a spicy type of chicken and white rice. Her thanks was murmured when the woman refilled her wine glass, though Olivia knew that she would need to stop after this second drink, otherwise she would lose any and all control of herself. Alcohol hadn't been something that she'd had in the past few years, and she had reverted back to being a light-weight more or less.

-----

When Natayla sat up so quickly, Brixon could feel his heart rate accelerate, maybe it had been too fast? He had been thinking about moving in together for a few months, but maybe she wasn't even kind of there. Though her reaction to the joke about marriage had appeared to suggest otherwise. The surprise in her tone made him relax slightly, at least she hadn't just said no.

"Well, yeah," he said, a small smile finding his lips, "Your rent agreement is almost up, and I really think that Olivia is at a place where she can take care of Lucy on her own. It will be an adjustment, but I can still see Lucy almost everyday and babysit when she needs me. But, if you don't want to, or aren't ready, that's fine, I would wait forever for you."

The last part was halfway honest. If she said no he would be upset, no question about it. But, at the same time, he would wait until she was ready, no matter how long it took. Brixon searched her face and her eyes, wanting to know exactly what she was thinking.

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Ryker was excited when he saw she was interested in the conversation. He was still a bit weary about her investment in their relationship, but he realized if she had come on this dinner, that was proof too.

"No, I'm not sure. I don't think I'll stay in New Jersey. So I'll move and find a job where ever I go," he said, shrugging a bit.

Before meeting back up with Olivia, he had thought about going back to Texas where he felt more comfortable, but now he was entertaining other options too. If they managed to work things out, he would more than likely move to New York where he could at least be closer to Lucy, if they got to that point.

When the waitress came, he ordered some mild curry. He loved any foreign food, the passion starting back when he lived in Africa. Being exposed to so many foods at such a young age had given him a wide pallet.

-------

Nat watched Brixon speak, her bright eyes lit up with excitement. She hadn't thought about it until now and the idea was wonderful. The step to marriage was too big, but staying as they were wasn't enough. Moving in together was the perfect medium.

Leaning forward, her hands taking his face, Natalya kissed him softly, yet it was full of emotion. She was nearly overjoyed with the idea. She was surprised she hadn't thought if it, but thankful he did.

"I love you," she muttered after she pulled away, still holding his face. "And of course I want to move in together."

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Olivia settled more comfortably into her chair, seeing no need to put up a staunch front towards Ryker any longer; at least during the rest of their evening. She tucked her hair behind her ear, thanking the waitress when she set their food in front of them. It smelled wonderful and she realized how hungry she was when her stomach rumbled quietly.

"Well," she began carefully, taking a small bite of her food before continuing, "Where were you thinking about going?"

Her attempt at being nonchalant only kind of worked; her tone was even but here was a certain sheen of hope that remained in her eyes. To hide the eagerness, she lowered her gaze to hyer food and took another bite. Washing it down with the rest of her wine, she refused a refill and instead turned to water. If she got tipsy, she would more than likely say things that she would regret the next day.

-----

Brixon watched her face, a smile breaking out across his features before she answered; he already knew her answer. His lips caught hers when she kissed him, feeling the emotion against his. When she verbally agreed, his smile widened. Brixon reached for her wrist, kissing her palm before leaning towards her and kissing her. He lowered her smoothly onto the couch before breaking the kiss and rolled so that they were both laying down and facing one another.

"Good answer," he murmured with a soft smile, rubbing her arm gently, before continuing, "Now we just have to figure out where to live, Brooklyn or Manhattan."

He was fine living in either burrow, he loved the city, but enjoyed Brooklyn too. Brixon worked in Brooklyn, but she mainly worked in Manhattan and it wasn't like the transport to either was difficult or long.

"And find the perfect place, for the right price. Fun stuff like that."

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Ryker thanked the waitress when she brought their food. Taking a few bites, he listened as Olivia questioned more about his move. It was a question he didn't exactly want to answer. He didn't want to give her false hopes or anything of the opposite nature. He watched as she went back to eating, avoiding any eye contact for the brief moment. He couldn't tell if she was eager to know or just curious. Either way he still didn't want to give an answer.

"Oh, maybe going back to Texas. But theres not a lot of artistic opportunities down there so I'm not sure..." he answered, shrugging and watching her for a moment before going back to his food.

"What about you? What have you been up to?" Ryker questioned, deciding he was done talking about himself and would rather hear about her. Four years was a long time and he wanted to know what she had been doing since high school, besides having and taking care of Lucy.

--------

Natalya held a wide smile at his reaction, overwhelmed by the excitement of the idea. It seemed nearly unreal, them living together, but it also seemed so right and perfect. Giving in to his motions, she moved with him to lay down on the couch and savored his soft kisses and the moment. As he questioned about where to live, she thought for a moment, but couldn't pick one right on the spot.

"I couldn't pick," she said with a soft laugh, finding the decision to be too large. "Maybe we should just look at both, choose based on the apartment we like the most," she said, raising an eyebrow in question.

Personally Manhattan was nice because it was close to her work, but she didn't want to be selfish because he worked in Brooklyn. Both places were nice and she wouldn't mind much either way.

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Olivia could feel her heart slowly icing over at his response. Texas. But, her mind fluttered hopefully, he isn't sure. She suddenly wished that she hadn't turned down a second glass. She didn't want to get attached to him again only for him to go to Texas. Olivia could feel his eyes on her, but she refused to look at him, and instead ate more of her dinner.

When the conversation turned to herself she felt slightly more at ease because she knew the answers to these types of questions. She knew what to expect, maybe not his responses or the questions that would be asked of her; but since it was about her she figured that she could respond more readily.

"Aside from Lucy?" she asked with a playful, if not sarcastic, grin before continuing, "I double majored at Colombia in Photography and Journalism and graduated a year early thanks to summer and online courses. I've been living with Brixon since he moved up here and it's been great having him around. Right now I work for Vogue, as more of an editor than anything, and am working on getting my own studio somewhere. I've spent a lot of time with my mom since my dad died, and we've actually become fairly close. That's about it, nothing too exciting, but it's been interesting."

Between sentences or during pauses, she would glance at him, trying to determine what he thought of each thing that she presented to her. Even in the end she and her father had barely spoken, which accounted for the casualness of her tone when she mentioned his death. When she finished speaking, she took a long sip of her water, quickly catching the leftover water on her lips with her tongue, and then looked over and Ryker and met his eyes.

-----

"That is probably the most sensible way to do this," he agreed readily, too excited to disagree with anything that she said.

Brixon stroked her cheek softly, smiling a final time before disentangling their bodies so that he could quickly check on Lucy and get something to drink. He stuck his head into the small girl's room, smiling when he saw her peaceful sleeping frame and then headed back across the living room, towards the kitchen.

"Do you want anything? Water, food?" he offered, just loud enough for Natayla to hear him

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Taking a few bites of his food, Ryker watched Olivia for an answer. He listened as she readily spoke, easily telling him in short her life the past four years. He was impressed how it just rolled off her tongue, but it wasn't like she had anything to hide. This was just casual conversation that anyone had. Ryker let a smile slip onto his face as she spoke, happy to see that she had gotten a good job out of college and seemed to be doing well.

"Well it sounds like you've been pretty busy," he said with a small smile. He didn't exactly know how to respond without sounding extremely cheesy.

The conversational talk didn't seem to roll of his tongue easily that night and it was a bit frustrating. Ryker didn't want anything to feel awkward at all for even a moment, but by the way he was speaking, he only felt more anxious. Maybe it was the nerves, but he tried to convince himself there was nothing to be nervous or anxious about. They were just friends reconnecting and he couldn't tell himself it was any more than that.

--------

Natalya smiled softly and then sat up after Brixon got up, readjusting her loose tank top. He eyes flickered to the TV and then across the room to Lucy's room. She watched momentarily as he checked up on the little girl and then headed to the kitchen. Pulling her legs up under her, she sat Indian style on the couch, making herself comfortable. Once Lucy went to bed their babysitting job easy, there was nothing that had to be done. It was nice to have a night to just chill and hang with Brixon.

"Um... Water," Nat answered, turning her upper body to look over the back of the couch, barely being able to see him. She smiled a bit and then turned back, her eyes training over the TV.

[sorry they were a bit short and uncreative. Haha.]

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[[i swear I'm not ignoring this, I'm just trying to think of a somewhat decent post. I'll probably have something up later tonight or tomorrow. Just wanted to let you know :)]]

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