"He's. My. Father." She managed through gritted teeth.

"And he wouldn't want you there any more than I do." Evelyn said, her voice softening but not wavering in intensity.

Kat knew the truth in this statement but that didn't make it sting any less. It didn't make remaining still any easier. It only made it worse.

"Kat everything will be fine." Toby offered helpfully.

Kat looked at him incredulously.

"You're on her side?!" She demanded angrily, her voice on the brink of tears.

"Side? Kat don't be ridiculous." Toby exclaimed.

Kat turned on the spot and rushed out the door before anyone could chase after her. Evelyn was quick to follow her but Toby made it to the door first.  

"Allow me." Toby said stepping in front of Evelyn and blocking the way. "I think she may at least listen to me."  

Evelyn looked at him taken aback by this gesture. She raised her eyebrows at him quizzically before nodding understandingly. Though her expression was none to inviting but instead held a warning.  Toby wasn't entirely sure he understood the look. He slipped quickly out of the door.

He looked down the alley way until he spotted her. Kat was jogging somewhat half heartedly in the direction of the market square. Toby rushed after her, catching up quickly. He skidded in front of her.

"Kat. Wait. Listen."

Kat looked up at him her, expression a pathetic mixture of tears and misery.

"You're not going to pin me down again? because honestly I don't think I can survive another beat down." Kat said wiping her tears with her sleeve as she staggered to a stop.

"No." Toby said reaching out and touching her arm. "It'll be all right." He offered.

Kat shook her head.

"Toby I have to go with you guys. I can't stay here! What if it doesn't work what if he dies?! I have to be there! I have to see him one more time!!" Kat shouted desperately.

"Kat I will do everything in my power to save him and...and your mother won't let him die!" Toby pointed out helpfully but this did little to comfort her.

"Toby they would both die for each other!" Kat shouted throwing up her arms miserably.

"Oh." Toby mumbled seeing the obstacle quite clearly.

"Can you guarantee that neither of them will die huh? can you protect them both while fooling Stratagus and still managing to get away yourself? huh? Huh?! That's a lot for one man and you've already done a lot! This isn't your problem, it's mine! my stupid problem!!"

"Kat calm down trust me nothing bad will happen." Toby tried to assure her over her frenzied rambling.

"How can you be sure do you have mind controlling powers?! Can you control everyone's damn reaction and action?!"

"Would it help if I said yes?"

"Lying won't help! Damn it Toby! Why are you even doing this! I don't understand you! I don't understand anything! I can't control...anything...I just...I just..I just want to SCREAM!!"

Toby decided it was best not to point out the fact that she was already screaming at a very high level and simply waited for her to come back to reason. He tried to a soft shushing noise. That didn't help.

"I WON'T SHUT UP!" Kat responded forcefully, flinging her arms around angrily with each word. "MY ENTIRE FAMILY IS IN DANGER AND YOU WANT ME TO SHUSH?! My mom wants me to stay put and...and...and  Skipper just doesn't care if we all roll over and DIE! and that's just what you're gonna DO! Without much rolling over and whole lot of DYING! while I'm HERE...just...just.." The anger melted into another onslaught of tears and Kat struggled to finish her sentence. She stumbled closer to Toby.

            Toby caught her, bracing her on either of her biceps. He tried to catch her darting eyes as if staring her square in the face might somehow bring her around to her senses.  Kat met his eyes.

"I'll just be here...shushing..and...staying...put..." Quite suddenly and with no warning she rose up onto her toes and met his lips briefly with hers. Toby looked at her taken aback. Kat lowered her head softly against his chest. Toby slipped his hand underneath her chin and lifted her face up wordlessly. He planted a soft kiss on her lips. Kat closed her eyes against his touch. Feeling safe in his embrace she let her worries flood away, she felt stronger now. A warm flame burned bright deep within her warming her entire body. She pulled away from him gently.

They're eyes met. A small smile traveled across Toby's lips as wiped away Kat's tears with his thumb. In that moment it became blatantly obvious to Kat why this man was risking everything to help save her parents. She knew she could never repay what he gave. Kat raised her hand up to touch his face. She rested her fingers against his cheek tenderly, savoring the feel of his skin against hers.

            What had been less obvious were the feelings she had for him. They had laid dormant inside her gentle as the flame of a candle until when her fear and desperation kindled the flame into a roaring fire that could not be ignored. She knew in this moment she was at risk of losing not one, or two but three loved ones on this day.

Kat rose up once more and met his lips. She wrapped her arms tightly around his neck, as if her kiss could save him. Somehow her love would protect him from danger. If it was the only thing she could give him, if it was the last thing she could give it would be this kiss. She prayed, harder than she had ever prayed before that this love might shield him.

Toby's hands braced against her back holding her to his chest, his finger pressed against her leaving a tingling imprint on her back as they pulled apart breathless.  Kat leaned her head against his. Her eyes still remained close as she clung tightly to the moment pulling it closer towards her as it sought to slip away.

The End

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