Soft lips on his woke Erik from the blackness. His mind was still muddy as he tried to come back into reality. The light kiss turned into a more passionate. Familiar sensations rippled through Erik, but he still felt between dream and waking. Erik was barely able to force his eyes open. A woman with curly dark brown hair sat up.

“Welcome back, love,” she said, and the voice electrified Erik. A voice he hadn’t heard in almost a year.

“Anya, what are you doing here?” Erik asked, “Where am I?” He had been doing something. A job for the Saint. For the life of him, he couldn’t remember. Erik started to get up, but Anya laid a warm hand on him and gently pushed him back to the bed. Pain flashed through him. That’s right, he had broken ribs, but they looked like they’d been bandaged up. How did he get broken ribs?

“Easy, love,” Anya said, “You’ve had a hard time of it. You need to take it easy.” Erik looked up at the love of his life. Her shoulder-length mop of brown curls were hanging loose. He reached up to caress her heart-shaped face as her blue eyes twinkled down at him. She nuzzled his hand. It felt so right, but Erik knew something was wrong.

“What are you doing here, Anya?” Erik asked again. There was some reason Anya shouldn’t be here, but Erik couldn’t remember.

“Where else do you think I’d be?” Anya asked.

“With your husband,” Erik said, his voice cold. That was why Anya shouldn’t be here.

You needed me more,” Anya said, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake.” She bent down and kissed him. His pain faded as it became harder to remember. Erik remembered that Anya had left him to marry someone else, but why and who?

“Just relax,” Anya said, “I’m here to take care of you.” She laid down next to him, carefully snuggling up next to his injured side.

“Anya, you shouldn’t be here,” Erik protested, weakly.

“Don’t you want me here?” Anya asked. “Isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for?” Erik let out a long breath. Of course he wanted Anya back. Why hadn’t he fought harder to keep her? There was a reason, but it was hidden behind the clouds in his mind. It must have been important, but at the moment, Erik really didn’t care. Anya was back. He’d deal with everything else later.

“You remember the first time we laid like this?” Anya asked. Erik groped for a memory. There were images floating through his mind. Most of them were of Anya in different situations, but he couldn’t sort out the jumble. Then one popped up and he grabbed it.

“When you broke into my apartment and announced that you were going to be my wife, and where did I keep my vacuum?” Erik asked. Anya giggled at his side. That was a sound he’d missed for so long. As he grabbed for the memory, it started to become clearer. Anya in a business suit with her arms crossed under her breasts staring him down. Erik yelling at her for breaking into his apartment. Her brushing aside all of his arguments as if they were immaterial. Her horror when she embraced him and he flinched because of the wounds he’d picked up on Battle Island. Her bandaging his injuries before they laid down together. Erik’s confusion at what this woman was doing barging into his life, but happy for the first time in a long time.

“Well, it wasn’t like you kept it in a logical place,” Anya replied. Erik chuckled and pulled Anya tighter. It was worth the pain. He ran his fingers through her hair and breathed deep. It wasn’t the usual light scent of lilac. There was something else missing. What? It was something about her scent. Why couldn’t he feel her psi-scent? As soon as the question ripped through his mind, the clouds started clearing.

In the span of a thought, Anya was straddling him. Erik watched as the Anya’s face was replaced with the platinum blonde creature that questioned him before. Pain, loss, grief, and rage coursed through Erik. How dare this creature use that face, those memories against him! Erik strained to throw her off, but she held him easily. There was something else he should be doing, but it was still hidden in his mind.

“Don’t fight, please,” the woman said, with a compassionate lilt in her accented voice, “Just let me do what I need to.” Erik felt the alien presence in his mind. It was rooting through his memories. He pushed back hard, mentally and physically. The woman deflected his mental attacks, while holding him down. The memory of when Erik had met Anne snapped into place. The woman seemed to be watching it carefully. Erik stopped struggling as he watched his memory. He knew there was something there. Then, he remembered.

The blast of power caught the creature by surprise. She was tossed off of him and into a wall. Erik could still feel her in his head, but he also felt the last of the clouds vanish. He wasn’t in a padded room. This looked more like a hotel room, with bed, chest of drawers, and desk. Erik cautiously stepped onto the carpeted floor as the woman stood up. Her glowing eyes pulsed.

“I’m going to tear you apart!” Erik screamed.

“I’m very sorry to have to do this to you.” The woman actually sounded remorseful. Then she dredged up his worst memory. Anya standing in front of him with that look of revulsion and horror. The last time he’d seen her. The time she finally saw what he was truly capable of doing. Her screams of terror echoed through his mind. It just kept looping through his mind. Erik was suddenly on the floor as the pain and loss pulsed through him. The woman was caressing his arm.

“She was a fool,” the woman said, “A weak fool who should never have deserted you. I wouldn’t use that memory against you, but you are too dangerous. I just need to find something in your mind, and then I’ll take the pain away.” Erik felt her presence digging through his mind.

“I am going to rip those eyes of yours out and roast them,” Erik muttered. Her presence left him. She picked Erik up off the floor effortlessly and gently placed him back on the bed.

“So, you don’t know if she’s the prophesied one, either,” the woman murmured. Her presence returned with a gentle touch. The memory of Anya was swept from his mind. The presence froze. The woman’s glowing blue eyes went wide in surprise.

“Well, now that’s very interesting,” she said quietly, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep that memory to myself.” Erik couldn’t see what the woman was seeing. He looked around for something he could use as a weapon. Then, the woman was kissing him again. It was hard and passionate. All of his pain vanished and the clouds in his mind returned. He fought, but he was losing the battle. She rose up and gave him a strangely warm smile.

“I come looking for the human that will make my clan the most powerful, and I find a human that could be my ljubavnik,” she said, “It’s very strange how fate works in this world. Before you drift back into darkness, my name is Nao. Remember it well, Avalonian.” Erik tried to say something. He wanted to curse this creature, to make it hurt. The warm blackness swallowed him before he could say anything.