Archive for the ‘Generation 5’ Category

5.33

I was a mother now…

They say that when you hold your baby for the first time, your whole world shifts, and your priorities change. But I hadn’t had that yet. Three months later, and my entire world hadn’t imploded on itself and been resigned to just Luca, and diapers, and baby bottles.

I still cringed at changing diapers, and pulled unenthused faces over story time. I dreaded watching kids shows, and felt my temperature rising to the shrill sounds escaping the little devils mouth. And boy, could he scream, and cry, and wail… And some of the god awful sounds that the kid could make, I shudder just at the memory.

Regardless of the time or day, or the exhaustion in my limbs. Sometimes it seemed that Luca was born just to prove how bad at this I truly was. It seemed that he was born just to hate me, and he did. But that was stupid, the kid was three months old, and it wasn’t like the little brat could smell fear…

Right?

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Of course not. That would be stupid.

I watch the swing rocking back and forth while Luca balls his hands into fists, and screeches. The sound pierces my ears, as hot little tears roll down his face. He was clean, fed, warm, dry, everything was perfectly okay and yet the little bugger insisted on screaming. Non stop. All day. Until of course, Cassiel came home to him, to us.

He knew, he already knew… I suppose it was for the best. Panic momentarily coils into the pits of my stomach, Arkin would be back. For me. And where I was going, Cas, and Luca, they couldn’t come with me, and perhaps… Perhaps I wouldn’t be coming back either. No this was for the best, that the kid had chosen Cassiel over me. Because where I failed as a mother, Cas excelled as a father, the second he entered the room, the little brat’s eyes were on him.

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“It’s for the best.” I say to myself, reinforcing that mindset. Somehow I find my hand stroking the warm fabric of Luca’s blanket to silence the anxiety running through my veins. His heart beat was soft, and steady beneath my touch, even despite his sobbing. “Where I’m going, I don’t want you comin, not now, not for a while, not ever.” As I said it, I didn’t imagine Arkin’s fangs, but ice, and darkness, I imagined his tiny face, contorted as his shrill wails echoed through empty forests, I imagined dark shadows stalking his warmth in the night. Luca’s golden eyes flare open, as if to tell me that he understands, but he doesn’t: Because he’s just a baby, and he won’t remember the sound of regret in my voice.

“If I can give you Cas… If I can keep him alive, and safe, promise me that you won’t hate me later on.” I withdraw my hand, and sigh. There was every chance that I was going to survive this, and that there would be a world after it all happened. That like always, the sun would shine, and humanity would rebuild, a brighter, better world. “It’s better this way, because I’m not… I’m not mom material.And he’s…” I can see Cassiel in my mind. “He’s perfect, he’ll love you in all the ways I can’t.” I can’t live like I’m dying, like I’ve got an expiration date because then Cas will know, he’ll know and he won’t let me do what I need to do to protect them both. “And it’s for the best that I don’t. So don’t hate me cause I’m bad at this, I’m tryin’ the best I can. Sometimes though, that’s just not enough.”

 I rock back on my heels, cradling myself in my arms for comfort. My eyes droop as I continue to watch him screeching, and despite it, I want nothing more than to close my eyes and lay down to sleep. For a whole week. My body jolts as I hear the front door click open, followed by heavy slow footsteps to the doorway to the room. My body relaxes and I breathe a sigh of relief at the sound of Cassiel’s warm voice. The sound even stills Luca. “What are my two favourite people doing?”

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I take a moment to gather myself, my body feeling heavy as I stand. I quickly wipe my eyes, and hide the forming tears that had almost begun to fall. “Oh, you know, the usual. Him screaming, and me slowly losing my mind.” The laughter that escapes my lips afterwards sounds fake, and forced, even to my own ears, so I fake an even bigger grin. I throw myself into Cassiel’s arms, burying myself into his neck, savouring the warm scent of sunshine on his skin.

“Hey, are you okay?” Cas whispers as his lips caress my forehead, I melt into his neck for another long moment. It amazes me how well our two bodies fit together, like two pieces of a puzzle. Even if our union was the work of something bigger, I’ve decided that I don’t care. I’ve decided that all of that other shit doesn’t matter when we’re locked into an embrace. This is what matters. As I look up to face him, a wide smile bubbles on my lips, cracked only by exhaustion.

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“It’s just been a long day…” I murmur against him, brushing my hand against his face. I wonder if I’d miss those golden eyes when I was locked in a world of eternal darkness, I was kidding myself if I thought I wouldn’t. Even here, in reality, in the warmth and light, he was the only light I needed. “I’m just glad that you’re home.” This time I laugh for real as Luca screams again, reminding us that he’s still here.

“We’ll finish this off later.” Cas grins, wide and bright, as if the exhaustion of the work day meant nothing when compared to his kid. Releasing me from his hold, he reaches down, scooping up the bundle of blankets into his arms. His eyes crinkle, a warm grin covers his face, serenity. Cas would be okay, in the end he’d be okay.

“When will that be exactly, tonight? Tomorrow? Next week?” I give him a knowing smirk, but it doesn’t quite reach my eyes.

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*

As I walked into the room, I felt my stomach flip momentarily. It was the second anniversary of my father’s death, and my family was sitting quietly, almost awkwardly in what used to be their living room. One that my father’s laugh would so boisterously fill, or my screaming arrogance would encompass. It seemed a different lifetime ago, like I had died and been reborn a thousand times since then.

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I remember the way my father would sit, shoulders hunched forward, and breathing tense when he thought that no one could see him, when he didn’t have to be strong. I was already forgetting the strength of his voice, and the warm determination in his eyes, time was ravaging my memory of him, stealing pieces of him with every passing month. One day, I was afraid that I would remember him only in photos, and his voice only in recordings.

I watch my mother, sitting lonely and forgotten on the sofa. Swallowed up by the pristine fabric. I couldn’t help but notice that age, and grief had stolen her beauty. Deep lines had formed on her forehead, and cheeks, and the colours she wore hung loosely on her pale, thin frame. I was glad that Sampson had seen to her before I’d arrived, otherwise she’d be in black again, her hair knotted, and face heavy with shadows.

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There wasn’t a lot that we could do for her, I’d found, because she believed that she needed the pain, or it would be an insult to his memory. Only by reliving him, constantly, could she remember him. Only through reopening the wound, could she keep his memory alive. But some ghosts deserve to be buried, I’d found out. Sometimes the only way to respect their life was to move on from it, an act she was incapable of.

As a tribute to mothers lack of attention, Sampson had invited his boy toy, barely under the pretense that they were just friends from the same squad. Sampson wore home guard all over him, from his soft demenour to the shaking in his boots, but somehow the hunk of muscle at his side wore mercenary proudly all over him, even on the uniform that he wore today. In the beginning it was understandable that she hadn’t taken the time to really notice anything about him, but now, two years on..

They’d gotten lazy too with the whole charade. Not that they exactly had to pretend around mother. I was almost sure that they could start a heavy make out session right in front of her and she’d barely process the information, much less act on it. Congratulate him, yell, scream, whatever, anything. I don’t even think Sammy would care if she was disappointed at this point, I think he just wanted a reaction. So he let his eyes linger longer than they would if it was anyone else, and their hands would seek comfort with each other.

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And she never soaked it in. Not today, not two years ago at the hospital when they met, or the funeral, or the dozens of times they’d met between now and then. It bothered me, more than I ever thought it would, because she was our mother, and she always noticed everything. The small things, the cuts on our knees from falling over on the playground, and the meaningless glares that siblings gave. But now she couldn’t look past her own pain, and grief. She couldn’t see what was right in front of her. That her son was begging for her to see him, clearly, as he saw himself, he was desperate for her to accept him.

Somehow though, it was my fault. By changing fate as I had, I had changed my parent’s fate as well. Arkin was meant to kill the cure, my grandfather and Cassiel both. A few months later, my mother was meant to follow, outraged by the loss of the cure, terrorists were going to put a bomb in the cars of politicians sympathetic to our cause. One of them was meant for my mother. But instead, my father had been killed by Arkin before he’d launched a desperate half baked attack against us. We kept the cure, and mother had never left town again, never spoken up again, and would hopefully never be a target again.

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But if dad were here, things would be different. He would have moved on, not to say that my mothers death would have been easy, for anyone. But dad would have done what needed to be done to move forward again. To make this family feel whole. Sammy wouldn’t be dangling his love life in front of anyone, desperately waiting to be noticed. Not that I cared, of course. It was just Sammy…. I didn’t. But I did. And I missed my father. And I loved Cassiel, of those three things I knew way deep down inside of myself.

Waking up again, feeling things again, it sucked.

They don’t tell you that, that when you decide to heal yourself, to feel, that you decide to feel the good and the bad. That you leave yourself vulnerable and open, to the broken pieces of everyone around you. And you collect guilt, and remorse, like honey catches flies. And somehow, it didn’t matter, because you lived with it, and it was worth it. Somehow.

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“Daaaa!” Luca squawks running through the room, before tripping over his own feet. I expect the water works to start as I watch his limbs squirming, and groping the floor awkwardly. When he finally manages to push his face up from the ground he flashes a lopsided grin and giggles again, obviously happy to have all eyes on him. And for a brief moment, everyone in the room smiles, even mom. “Gahh vrmm. Chi bo?” To say that he talked was an overstatement, but he made noise. A lot of it.  “Kah bo ta!”

I reach down, scooping him up into one hand, dangling him by the ankle. Luca squeals again, a train of giggles on his lips as he squirms. “Say hi to everyone, kiddo.” I say, lifting him into my arms properly, so that I can trace my fingers down his neck, tickling the sensitive skin. I hope by doing so, his bubbling energy will continue to fill the room, and everyone will stop being so bleak, and act like normal people again.

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“Gam gam.” He squeals from in my arms, throwing his head back to escape the onslaught. Despite the loud childish giggles, the room remains tense as I knew it would. “Unc niiii! Sha bow too.  Amps.”

“You know, you don’t have to be here.” Mother says quietly, her eyes trained on me like a hawk, not even glancing down at the child in my arms. Her soft voice is almost harsh, and cold. Of course today, of all days, she wanted to wallow in self pity. She didn’t want us to help her, to be here.

“Of course, Miss Vivian.” Sammy’s boy pipes up in a diplomatic voice. I was surprised that even though he wasn’t officially a part of the family, that he spoke as though he already was. That just by being with my brother, he was willing to deal with this… Deal with my mother. “But it’s a very important day. Your husband was a great man, and an excellent father. And Vivian, his kids miss him too. Sam misses him too. What better way to celebrate the man, and his life, than all being here today, as one.”

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She gives him a hard glare, before nodding curtly. “Fine then, be that way, but don’t expect me to go out of my way.” She understood, but she just didn’t care. At least she wasn’t going to make today harder than it already was. “I was going to go down to the grave today after lunch, you can stay til then, but after that, I want to be alone.”

A part of me wants to go to her, and to wrap my arms around her neck. I want to hold her for a moment, and to tell her all the things that dad had told me before he’d moved on from this world. I want to tell her that he looked at her like she was his world, and that all the things he did was for her, and us, his kids. But she would never understand my words, or the ways that I knew them. And I was too weak to go through with it. I wanted to be that type of daughter that could comfort her, but my words always fell short, and my touch was always too cold.

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“You know, I was thinking…” I begin slowly, feeling my cheeks darken with awkwardness, and shy embarrassment. It was a stupid request I was about to ask, and yet I felt compelled to. “That maybe today, we could take a new family photo.” I watch my mother’s reaction carefully, we hadn’t taken one in years, even before dad’s death. I never wanted to be included in them, and everyone was always busy. There were a million reasons that we had all neglected each other, and it was too late to change that, the past, and how we were.

But I wanted a new future, and I wanted Luca to have a better childhood than I had, even despite the world outside of these walls. The book I was editing, and adding onto, the Ravenwood Legacy, it would be decorated with our lives, and faces. I wanted Luca to remember who I was, to remember my face, and know what I was willing to do for him. For us.

“I mean, it’s kinda lame, but-“

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“No, it’s a good idea.” Nick says, his eyes burning with some strange intensity. The look in his eyes made me feel something, like he somehow might be proud of me, like the last two years have actually meant something. The smile on his face, is slow, but steady. “Things are changing, the trials are going well-” Cas pulls a face, like the mere mention of the trials are to be kept under lock and key. “- We’re starting to take back some of the territories that we lost to the war. And lycans aren’t deemed an unnatural species… Yet. So there’s a lot to celebrate. We’re all still here, we’ve got new additions to the family, a baby, and we’ve still got hope.” He turns to my mother, and looks at her softly. “Dad would be proud of how far we’ve all come.”

We can all see what she’s going to say next, that it isn’t right to do without him, because we aren’t a real family without him. Her face twists for a moment, switching from face to face as though she thinks that we’re ganging up on her. And maybe we are; Because we’re sick of seeing her in so much pain.

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“After you get your silly photo out of the way, and we’ve eaten, Larka, would you mind coming to the cemetery with me?” Her request shocks me, because not only is she agreeing to the photo, but she’s never let anyone go with her. Her delicate hand sits atop her cheek as she watches us quietly. With a sigh she takes a step forward. “Lets just get this over with.”

“I guess I’ll take the photo, if you’re all ready.” Sampson’s boy says slightly stiffly. He might feel a part of this family, he might even act like it, but it’s still not official. Sam’s jaw stiffens as he moves over to the fireplace, to stand by mother, but he doesn’t speak up, because now isn’t the time to mention it.

“No.” Nick sighs, as though even he’s sick of it. With a roll of his eyes, he continues. “It’s been two years, you’re basically family now, you too Cas, get over here.” As he sets the camera up, we all stand awkwardly around each other. “I wouldn’t have this photo any other way.” He says thoughtfully, looking up at us. We can’t change the fact that dad isn’t here, but we can live with it.

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“So this is our family now…” I say quietly, looking down at the photo after we take it. It was a mixture of sadness and awe. I was sad that my father wasn’t here, smiling bright, and warm. And I was sad that mother looked so robotic in the photo. But this was us, broken, and fractured, lost, and alive. This was my family. Hot and cold, hard and soft, and full of love.

There was a storm raging outside these walls, but we were brave enough to face the storm and survive it.

We were going to be okay.

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We could heal.

We could move on.

We would survive…

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5.32

Red eyes.

I dreamt of them often. Saw them in my dreams. Felt them on my skin. In my womb… Every time I closed my eyes, and managed to sink into a restless slumber, I saw him, and her, and all the possibility that existed within me. But not as I knew it, not as I would know it. I saw my baby, a mix of Cassiel’s humanity, and my broken fragility, and always those eyes. Red, and Crimson. Dark, and hungry. Hungry for more than I could give to it.

It terrified me beyond any nightmare I’d ever had. This child, and the possibilities of both it’s tormented mind, and my own, clashing together, struggling against each other. Just like I had with my mother. Just like I’d seen in Arkin’s mind. It seemed almost natural to grow to despise those closest to you, who gave you life. It seemed natural to hate all the little things that defined them.

My mother’s sensitive soul for example, broken down after years of abuse and paranoia. When I was younger, and weaker, lost between my world and the next, she’d been so terrified of losing me, that she’d eventually pushed me away. I still remember the way her face would twist and crumple when she thought that I wasn’t looking, and the way her voice would break. Of course I knew the reasons why, she’d lost a child before, and the grief had almost killed her, but it didn’t make it any easier.

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Would this child hate me for all the things that made me, me? The fact that I wasn’t soft, and peaceful, that I didn’t love without fear, or laugh without consequence. I would be cold, and distant, and perhaps my nightmares would tear through the house on dark nights. Perhaps I would avoid watching the news, and seeing the headlines in the newspaper, perhaps like my mother, I would let fear rule our lives.

Or would it hate me because I would bring it into a dying world?

Because I was knowingly sacrificing it’s soul to eternity, just like my own?

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The anxiety inside my heart deepened as days slowly turned to nights, and weeks into months. It grew like a sickness inside of my mind, taunting me at every corner, and stalking me every time I shut my eyes. I waited for Arkin, like I would the morning paper, sick anticipation burning in my muscles. My skin grew pale, and the shadows beneath my eyes heavy and bleak. What if my child became a monster, could I… Could I… Destroy it?

It wasn’t as though my heart was full of love for the thing inside of me. But the pull of my lycanthropy coursed through me, creating a strong desire to protect my pack. My little devil. At least I had that. I might not be  a good mother. I might not be able to do the things that needed to be done, or read bedtime stories, or play dress up, but I would protect it, regardless of the cost to myself.

And perhaps that made me understand my parents just a little bit better. All the things they’d done, the good, the bad, the frantic… Maybe it was their way, their crazy, stupid way of keeping me safe, of keeping me alive…

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I sigh running my hands along the spine of my grandmothers book, the Ravenwood legacy… I don’t know why I’d taken such an interest in it again, or why I’d scoured through the pages making notes, and cutting out old newspaper clippings to place inside of it. Maybe I was curious, or maybe a piece of me felt that this was important. That any tiny scrap of information I could find about my family was impossibly significant, and perhaps it was. To the past, to the future, to eternity. There was a reason that things were happening, there was a reason I was born dead, and I had to know why, and what that reason was. Looking down at the pages, I hear familiar words bubbling in my head.

Yours is not the only family that they’ve taken an interest in…… I don’t know what they want with you, or why they’ve gone to such lengths to keep you and your family…..  It makes me nervous… Be careful..”

Somewhere in my family’s history it was there, the answer to why me, why us. And if it wasn’t in these pages, then it would be in the ones that I would write, or my blood would write. I almost felt stupid cataloging the details of my family’s lives, and fact checking the little details, but it was a nervous compulsion, now that I had started, I couldn’t stop. I had to know what linked us all together. Why me, and not my brother? Why Vivian, and not hers? Of course he had died, but they’d brought me back hadn’t they? He even had a kid before his death. Why had Constance been chosen over her siblings? Someone had to be chosen, but why her, why us?

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I drum my fingers over the curve of my hand, my eyes glassy and distant. Nick had no blood relation to my mother so of course he was never in the running. Sampson on the other hand, he had the right blood, he was alive, and fertile, even though it was unlikely he would ever have children of his own. But if they could bring me back to life, couldn’t they determine a single action he would make, a single choice to affect where his life would take him, and to whom? I suppress a shiver.

I’d found myself tied to Cassiel before I’d even known why, or who he was. I’d somehow survived the attack that had killed my squad, and found myself bleeding on his doorstep. It had been a routine mission that had just so happened to go wrong. It was the middle of no where that I just so happened to stumble upon the cure. Cas had agreed to live amongst his enemies, and love one, and before what was meant to be his untimely demise, he’d knocked me up. It was all to convenient. Too neat. Perhaps we weren’t as free as we thought we were.

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I read over the pages again, adding in notes, and lines to new stories, and new chapters. Filling in the missing years between Constance and now. My hands describe the life that I knew Aleksi had lived, and the suffering he’d survived. I pause when I write my mother’s name, Vivian, who had grown up without a place in the world. Vivian, my mother, who had spoken on behalf of the pureblood Azazel. Vivian, who had her unborn child ripped away from her in front of the world. My mother who was locked up, and tortured and beaten. Who had a daughter who hated her. Who lost the only thing that kept her demons at bay. I pause, my fingers lost between a tremble and clarity.

She had spent her life suffering. We all had. But could you compare Vivian’s pain to Elizabeth’s? Vivian had been held hostage for months, raped, beaten, she had almost lost everyone that she had ever loved, and known. Elizabeth had just been a lonely girl in a lonely world who ran away from home to find peace, and love… Eventually with the guy she ran away from. Those two stories weren’t comparable. You couldn’t compare it to Aleksi’s life either. Just like you couldn’t compare all of my suffering to the life Constance had lived.

But despite that, we’d all lived in pain, and torment, for however briefly. And if suffering was the thing that tied us all together, beyond blood, then who was watching?

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My eyes focus on the point on the top of my palm that had been stabbed in my dream. If I looked at it closely enough, I think I might even see a faint shimmer from the magic. The urge to drive the pen through my hand, to release the magic was almost painful. I wanted someone I could talk about this with, I wanted someone who could understand what it was that waited for me on the other side. And a part of me just wanted to end it.

Of course Arkin wasn’t here.

And there was no demon tightening its grip around my neck.

But knowing that didn’t stop the panic, knowing that didn’t make any difference at all.

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The door clicks open, and Cassiel sighs deeply as he walks through. Slumping down on the couch beside me, I can’t help but notice the darkness under his eyes almost match my own. And the tightness of his muscles is almost identical, until his hands shuffle across the fabric in the space between us, finding my hands awaiting his. His lips curve ever so slightly as he suppresses an exhausted yawn.

“Tough day, huh?” I murmur softly. The brilliant blue of my eyes resting on the gold of his own.

“I just don’t get it…” He says softly, running a hand through his hair, his eyes almost glum. “We’re preparing for an attack on both sides. Vampire, and… And human… They’re on the news all the time, political extremists, going on about how we’re keeping the cure for ourselves, how we don’t really want a cure at all. How can they say that? and the worst thing is… The worst thing is…” He pauses, as though he can’t quite bring himself to say it.

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“The worst thing is, people actually believe it.” I finish the sentence off for him, caressing his cheeks. For a moment his face crumples, and he buries his face into my hands. A twinge of pity runs through me. He didn’t belong anywhere anymore. Cas wasn’t one of us, a supernatural, but he didn’t see himself as the rest of them, he didn’t align himself with the humans anymore, even though he was one, through and through. “People are scared, they just want something to believe in. Something better than the cure might not happen, or might be years, even decades away. Someone’s gotta be the bad guy.”

“Yeah, but we’re not.” His voice is strained as his eyes focus on me intently. There’s a note of fear in the chords he speaks. “Larka, we’re not. How can they threaten war, and extermination, and… I just don’t understand how they can preach justice, and humanity, when everyday, on the news, they talk about invading here, and taking away, or killing everything they don’t understand, or trust, or want.”

“Good thing you’re not a demon then.” I frown at him. They’d been burning and deleting records from the laboratories for a few months now. Anything relating to the cure was being destroyed, apart from the cure itself, there were no records of anything anymore. It was supposed to be a safety precaution, if any extremist groups broke in, or laid siege to the place, they couldn’t just kill everyone and leave with the data. If the worse did happen, Aleksi was trying to make sure that everyone made it through alive. Or the cure would die alongside them.

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“Don’t be silly, Lark.” Cas sighs again, his voice all to serious. “You, our baby… I can’t lose you, and I can’t stand the things that they say about you, the things they’d gladly allow to happen to you.” Slowly he forces a smile, and runs a hand along my fat, swollen stomach. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t bombard you with all the heavy stuff the second I get through the door. A “how was your day? I missed you, babe,” would have been a much better start.”

I smirk at him before pressing my lips against his. “It was fine, this little bugger though didn’t really let me get much rest. It’s been practicing it’s kung fu down there all day.” Finally his smile seems genuine, and the corners of his eyes crinkle as he rubs my stomach. “If it keeps it up, I think it might actually break something.”

“I think he’s just eager to come out and meet his mom and dad.” Cas smiles at the thought, relaxing into my body. The thoughts that he had just minutes ago seemed a thousand miles away, either that or he was just good at pretending. But a part of me didn’t believe it, a part of me believed that being here like this made him truly happy.

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He?” I ask raising an eyebrow at him. It was an it. We didn’t know what it was yet. And I hadn’t begun to make guesses, or personalize the thing yet. Was that weird? I brush the thought off.

“Just a hunch, father’s instinct.” He kisses my nose softly with a goofy grin. “By the way, as cute as your nicknames are, we can’t just call him little bugger, and the thing until he’s twenty.”

“If it’s anything like me, little bugger will be all you’ll want to call it.” I shake my head in his direction.

*

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It happened less than a month later.

The pain explodes through me like a bullet through a gun, tearing through me, forcing a strangled groan from my lips. The pain almost knocks me off of my feet. Gritting my teeth together to silence the screech forming on my lips, my hand shakily clutches at my stomach. I could feel it, him, her, ripping through me, tearing me open. After what seems like hours stuck within the labyrinth of torment, it subsides. I can breathe again, think clearly.

“Cas…” I growl in a shuddered breath. Time warps around me, blurring, and merging together as a rush of liquid pools at my feet. Sweat covers my clammy skin in a thin sheath and drips. For another long moment, the only thing that I’m aware of is the ripping pain coursing through me. I groan again, barely able to stop the screams forming on my lips. “Cas… The baby…” I whimper.

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My brain barely registers the short drive to the hospital, or walking through the doors. I barely notice being lowered onto the hospital bed, and carted through the long, identical hallways to my room. People cluster around me dressed in bright colours and brilliant whites, taking my blood pressure, and pulse, asking me stupid idiotic questions. “How do I feel? How far away are the contractions? How far along am I? Do I need to call anyone?

“Shut up!” I screech in between pants. Uncertainty bubbles on my lips, as does anger and regret. It’s too late to turn back now, even if I so desperately want to. I’m not ready. I can’t do this. “Get this thing out of me!” I beg as another contraction bursts through me, splitting me apart. The doctor shouts orders at me, which Cassiel chants with enthusiasm.

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Breathe, push, breathe, push… It’s like the idiot has forgotten how to speak, and Cassiel’s entire vocabulary has been replaced by those two words. What the hell does he think that I’m doing? Just having a nice, relaxing massage from the INSIDE of my god damned body? I groan loudly, sweat covers every inch of my body, as I struggle to get this thing out of me. I always thought woman exaggerated the pain of giving birth, but no. I was mistaken. I was so wrong.

“Breathe, Larka. That’s it.” Cassiel coos softly. But the sound of his voice just sends me into another rage.

“I hate you!” I scream at the top of my lungs. I can’t hold his hand without shattering every single little bone, at this point though, it wouldn’t even compare to what I was going through, not even by a god damned fraction. I grip into the fabric of the bed, thinking up wild punishments and the joy of this all being over. I glare evilly at his stupid smiling face. “I’m going to kill y- Ughh…” I breathe out heavily.

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“Push, baby, push, we’re so close.” He chants, remembering every single stupid phrase and word from the baby books that he had read. I groan again, this time louder, it felt like this kid was ripping through me, and tearing me apart. “Keep going, Lark, push-“

“Shut up!” I screech, in a low warning growl, but the threat barely even registers. He’s to caught up in the experience, that he doesn’t get to feel, but I could make him feel it. I could let him know how much fun I’m having. Before I can continue the thought, another scream tears through me. “This is all your fault-” I growl through gritted teeth. “I hate you-” Breathe... “For knocking-“ Breathe. “Me up…” Breathe… “We’re- Are- Never- Ever- Having- Sex- Again!” I pant, sweat dripping off of my brow.

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“Almost there, one last push.” A nurse says encouragingly, apparently deaf to my idle threats, and promises. As deaf as Cas is who just keeps smiling and chanting like an idiot. This is it, I think, my brain foggy with exhaustion and pain. I scream, loudly, cursing Cassiel one last time. And then the room is a flurry of movement. For a long, agonising moment, all there is is silence.

And then a baby cries.

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My baby cries…

Guys I’m so sorry that I went AWOL :/
Between moving houses, having no internet, and getting caught up in life, I’ve been gone for a lot longer than I intended to. The good news is that I am back, and pretty excited to finally continue the legacy (and of course get caught up with all of yours). 

*

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I’m lost, drifting between worlds I don’t understand…

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Dreaming in memories, twisted with age, and insanity…

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Where am I..?

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Who am I..?

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I’m so thirsty…

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Who..?

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Rosalyn…

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Don’t cry…

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Rosa….

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Rosalyn…

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Elvira, my baby… My baby…

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I couldn’t save you from her…

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You became a monster…

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DON’T

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STOP

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Please…

No.. Give her back.

No…

*

5.31

Slowly, my eyes begin to peal open. Sunlight shatters through the darkness of my mind, burning through the fog, and unhappy memories. My heart beats steady, and still, inside of my chest, reminding me that I’m alive, and to keep fighting. Great trees tower over me, a thousand shades of green leaves litter the sky, and block out the sun that I know that I can feel. Somewhere, a creak bubbles soothingly, and the wind carries the sweet scent of summer on it’s tendrils.

“What do you want with me?” I croak harshly as my eyes fall onto the dark silhouette of a man. Even though I know that I’m dreaming, my throat feels raw, and cracked. His blue, black eyes, as deep as the core of the earth burn into my skull, and I can’t tell the emotion on his old, yet strangely young face. “I did what you asked, I stopped him. Now let me go. Let me wake up.” I plead, the yearning I felt for home was dizzying, and new to me.

“I’m sorry, Larka.” He says softly, his voice thoughtful, and eyes seemingly bleak. My stomach tightens in response, a wave of dizziness attacks my brains, as I tighten my grip onto the soft fabric I lay on. My heart beats just one word. Cassiel.… His name is caught in my throat, and sensing my panic, the man speaks. “The cure is safe. For now.” He paces back and forth, his feet crunching in the thick underbrush beneath us. “I shouldn’t have left such a task for one so young, I wasn’t thinking. Arkin is…”

5.31 (2)

“Mad? Strong? Invincible-“

“No, well yes, but no. He’s not your problem.” His image flickers, as does the image of the forest he had created for us. He pauses in his stride, and sighs deeply. “We are old, Larka, very, very old. And we have been cursed for a very  long time. Those of us who were forsaken by our creators, we deserved it, but Arkin was merely collateral damage, he was just a baby, a whelp. This curse was never his fault. Wrong place, wrong time.”

“So you think he’s your problem, then?” I ask, studying him closely. All at once, he did seem old, talking of curses, and being forsaken, things that could have seemed impossible to anyone else. Azazel had mentioned it of course, yet he merely danced around the details with vague feather light footsteps. “So he’s your problem, and yet you told me it was my job? You’ve sacrificed thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of lives, you’ve let this war go on, let me sacrifice everything it’s meant to be human, and for what? For a suicide mission that you knew I’d wake up from? Why? Why me?”

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“You’ve a right to this anger, I… I’ve let my own pride, my own… Emotions cloud my judgement.” He sighs, dipping his head down low, with whispers in a foreign language under his breath. I tremble in anger, feeling it coil around my throat to the point I can barely breath. It’s in my stomach, on my skin. And then he looks at me, and I see something barely human scratching at the surface. Something dancing over what is meant to be human, but couldn’t quite touch it. “You must understand though, I take no pride, no joy in what it means to end his existence, if I can even raise my blade against him. Out of all of us, he is the only one to have, even for a short reprieve, found salvation for his curse. A fact that I’m sure, does not even escape your attention, and as you can quite clearly tell, I have fine tuned my own, but to what extent. I also don’t think I can. Beyond affection, and admiration, and pure curiosity. I’m not sure they’ll let me.”

They’ll?” I ask with a croak, barely hanging onto the details he was mindlessly spilling. Within the solace of the picture perfect woods, I was with a being that was beyond human, in the way that reminded me of looking through a frosted glass window, at a silhouette that only resembled a man. And I was stuck in a god damned fairy tale.

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“The forsakers, Larka, gods, witches, devils…” As he steps towards me, the forest flickers with him. I’m almost sure he grimaces with the effort of holding the image in place. “Regardless, if I interfere, I do not know what will happen to me. It is not my fight to involve myself in, for I have remained at the fringes of humanity for over a thousand years. The others, Asmodeus, Morrigan, they fight each other over greed, and envy, but I’ve seen the future, I’ve tasted that loss, and smoke, and I can’t let that happen. If I fight, if I intervene, more than I have: If I forsake the future that they’ve chosen… More than that, if they decide I’m a threat before I can strike, then… Well… I’m sure you can understand the predicament.”

“So what then?” I ask quietly. Trying to decode the details he had told was difficult, he spoke as though he was speaking to someone who already understood the finer details of his existence. Instead of dumbing it down for my simple, ignorant ears. Perhaps he just didn’t have the time to explain to me what he was so afraid of, what he feared would come for him. “You want to fight him, right? You want to end this?” He cocks his head to the side with a gleam burning in his eyes. “But you can’t. Because of them, because they’ll… Sense? You. Trying to defy them. And they’ll stop you.”

“You’re a fast learner.” He states in a quiet breath.

“But who?” I whisper, my voice sounding weak to my own ears. I felt like I was standing on a broken precipice, and was about to fall the long way to the bottom.

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His shadow flickers, til he’s nose to nose with me. His eyes a seemingly never ending labyrinth burn with determination, and uncertainty. “You know who, Larka. You’ve known who for a long time. The immortals are not the only forsaken who walk this earth.” He breath is warm against my skin, almost dizzying as I see images flash before my eyes. “And you, Larka, are not alone.” The words send a shiver down my spine, til I feel goosebumps form on my legs, and arms. His lips press against my ear. “Yours is not the only family that they’ve taken an interest in.”

Slowly his face pries away from my artic white hair, and he watches me turn frozen still. We’re running out of time and I know it. There’s too much I need to know, and too little he can soothe me with. The forest flickers, the shadows turning menacing and cold. The warmth of the sun he had designed and placed in the sky was diminishing by the second, as did the smooth lines upon his face,

“I can’t keep bringing you here, or they’ll figure out what I have planned.” His voice is strained as he speaks. “What you did, to arkin, by summoning his own worst and best enemy, has unsettled the future. I can’t follow what his plans are, they flicker much to quickly to follow. But, I know he will be back. For you. Regardless of anything else. You can give him the one thing he has spent a thousand years mourning. Already you are his most prized possession, and whatever fate he decides, he will not lose you.”

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“So what am I supposed to do? If he…” My voice cracks. By saving Cassiel, and my grandfather, I had scorned myself, painted a giant target right over my own head. I’d brought them time, but it was my own existence that would lead him back to them. More than that, I couldn’t face him again. I couldn’t turn my blade against the being that I had spent what seemed like eternity in their consciousness, their memories. “You can’t expect me to-“

And then there’s burning hot pain in my palm, like a hot iron has been imbued into my flesh. I shriek for a second, until I see a flash of silver searing through my skin. Painting Symbols my mind can’t grasp in Crimson blood, and torn flesh. Then without uttering a single word, the wound shimmers with some dark magic, binding together, and fusing with a spell. The stranger withdraws his dagger, his face grim and dark and bleak.

“When he does return, and only then, break the seal and I will come to you.” He states quietly, gritting his teeth as he does so. Slowly I move my hand in the dying light, looking for any sign of the scars in my flesh. The only thing that existed had laid there before, my life on the battlefield written in specks of silver, and crescent puncture marks. “Larka…” His breath is ragged, and I can see the sweat on his brow. “I don’t know what they want with you, or why they’ve gone to such lengths to keep you and your family, or the others. Things are changing, something is happening.” My heart flutters in my chest, I can feel myself slipping from this world. Falling away. His words should terrify me, but instead his voice is hypnotic, sending me further and further into the darkness. “It makes me nervous… I don’t like it… What you’ve done, it’s changed things…. They won’t like it… Be careful.”

*

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When I finally awake to my own world, I can feel the heat of betrayal in my skin, and in my veins. A firm lump had lodged itself into my throat, making it hard to breathe, hard to bite back the tears. I knew that it was wrong, beyond any belief of a doubt, I knew that it was sick, but the weight of Arkin’s life had sunk deep down into my heart and frozen it with aching, bitter loss. The burden of his life was a colossal weight on my shoulders, that only I could ever understand.

My skin is cold and damp with sweat, and as I look around the small hospital room, I notice that for once, my mother is not here. The realization sinks into my brain like a harsh slap across the face with reality. She’d always been here, regardless of how cruel I was, or how dismissive, if I didn’t acknowledge her, or only regarded her harshly, it didn’t matter, she was always there. I didn’t think, I never thought, that even in the haze of loss she’d found herself in that she would give up on me. God knows I deserved it, at times even wished, but now, I only felt the weight on my decisions.

The rawness in my stomach makes me feel ill, and numb. Just incredibly numb. I’d thrown myself at the monster that had killed my father, and had survived, how was that fair? No wonder she couldn’t be here. I grip my hands together tightly, as though it was the only thing tethering me in the room. And I think to myself, so desperately that it hurts, I ask myself, how can you destroy a monster without becoming one yourself?

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That would mean denying him, denying Arkin, the Arkin that had been a slave his entire life, that had been tortured and broken. Irrevocably. Shattered into so many tiny pieces, and put back together so many times, that he wasn’t even himself anymore, wouldn’t even recognize it. Before he’d had a chance to grow, to decide for himself the path he would take, it was stripped from him and taken away. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Arkin that existed now was nothing more than an instrument of fate, a slave to his thirst, and a slave to his mother’s will.

And no one had ever once mourned the Arkin that could have existed.

Had anyone ever mourned the me that I could have been without the dark presence inside of my heart, on my skin, from the other side?

I feel eyes on me, as I brood, and grieve the possibility of futures, and pasts that could have been. Worlds and possibilities that could have existed without this war, without this curse on humanity. And when I finally meet the gaze at my door, a part of me trembles. Cassiel’s eyes are dark, and lined with deep shadows that dug beneath the surface. His jaw tensed, and the skin pulled tight against his face in anger, and sorrow, and sleepless nights.

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“Larka…” His voice comes out as a low growl as he steps into the room. Despite the stress, and exhaustion, he was still the Cassiel I remembered, a golden sun, only now marred by a dark eclipse in his eyes. He was alive. But seeing the anger clearly written across his face, I had to wonder why. And when was the last time I’d seen him? It didn’t matter when I did it all to save his life. “I told your mother to go home, that you’d wake up when you were good and ready. Just like with everything that you do. On your terms.”

I want to find the strength to be angry with him; To yell at him, to demand to know why he’d send her away, to understand why he could possibly be mad at me for saving his life. I shoot him a devastating glare that falls short as he takes another step forward. A silver crescent shaped scar shimmers across his neck in the glare of the light. I flinch, imagining Arkin tearing at his throat, and find my breath trapped in my throat at the image of him flailing, trying to escape. I try to speak, I open my mouth and my eyes flare as only a strangled sound passes my lips.

“Your irresponsible.” He says finally, his eyes burning into mine. “How dare you even think that my life is worth more than yours, than our baby?” Cassiel growls taking a seat on the edge of the bed, and I react, finally finding an ounce of strength in my distant body. I swing my hand at him, trying to push him away, all I can think about is the image of Arkin on top of him, his fangs ripping, and tearing at his throat, and it’s too much. Cas easily catches my frantic hands, and he holds them in place. “Do you even want me, Larka?” The sun in his eyes shatters into blackness, the pupil swallowing it whole. The toll of my absence, and of choosing to fight for him in the shadows, but never with him was written as clear as day. “If it gives you the tiniest shred of happiness then I’ll do it. I’ll leave. If it’s what you want…”

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“Cas…” I breathe out, not completely sure that I’ve even made a sound. I tremble in his hands, biting into my lip desperately to stop the tears from falling. I was coming undone. My father. Arkin. My mother. Him. I had been fighting for so long that I didn’t know how to stop. “What was I supposed to do, when you were going to die?” I croak out in a strangled voice.  “You know, you’ve never once asked what I see when I go away… No one has.” Of course I was glad that I never had to explain, but if he had seen the things I had, he’d understand, if he felt the god awful memories I’d lived through. “And what I see is horrible. Cas. I only seen the people that I… My only power is seeing people die.”

He pulls my hands to his face, and kisses my fingertips softly. And even though his eyes held the same bleak hollowness as before, it was like him being able to touch me, and to hold me was the most important job in the world at the time. And maybe, perhaps, being here with me was the only thing he would ever need.

We sit in silence for the longest while. His hands stroking my hair, running trails down my stomach, caressing my cheeks. He didn’t need words to bring my body back to life, or to thaw out my bones, only the look in his eyes, and the warmth of his skin. I wondered what he was thinking about, maybe about what I had seen in the week I’d been in the coma, if anything at all. Did he pity me? Did he still wonder if I wanted him to leave, if that would somehow make me any happier? Because it wouldn’t.

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Before him I’d only found joy in senseless violence, and the haze of alcohol. Perhaps I still did. But I was a wreck before him. I didn’t want to see the world around me, or take notice of it, I only wanted to hide behind the drugs, and sex, and insecurities. And now, I thought if I closed my eyes any longer I’d miss it, the world, and something to find hope in. Maybe the sun glinting on his hair, and the way it reflected in his eyes. And soldiers died, following orders without hesitation because that’s what we did, but now, I’d sooner die finding something worthy of dying for, a someone.

And as I watched him, and the sickening scar on his throat, I knew I was learning what it meant to need someone. Even if my entire being was fighting against it. I needed it, and I needed him. Especially here, right now, when I was sinking into oblivion and needed someone to pull me back out.

Tell me something beautiful….” I ask quietly. Cassiel’s eyes soften over mine, and then he responds with my name, and nothing else. Like it was an undisputed fact that everyone knew and understood. I frown. “I’m a demon Cas, even you’ve said so yourself.” I argue defensively. That, right there, was the only undisputed fact that I knew at the moment. “And there’s nothing beautiful about that.”

“Even Lucifer was an angel once. And he was the most beautiful of them all.” He states thoughtfully, running a hand down my arm to my hand. I pull away quickly, and don an arrogant tone, pulling the mask back on that hid this side of me, weak, and sappy, and entirely dependent on him.

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 “Guess you missed the part where he fell, and was banished-“

Cassiel captures my chin, and lifts it up, forcing me to meet his gaze. His breath is warm on my face, only inches from his own. “Then I guess the only difference between the two of you is that you’re going to win your holy war.”

5.30

I force the darkness into my hands, the stillness of death, and the creeping ice of the abyss, I force it right down into my fingertips. I let my claws extend outward. Smirking coldly, I begin to circle my prey, taking deliberate steps around the chair in the middle of the dim room. Pausing in front of the vampire, I trace a line down its arm. Underneath my cold touch, the veins turn black, and heavy beneath it’s skin, and the vampire cries out in pain. Deep down inside, the sickest part of me enjoys it.

“Tell me, vampire, what are your master’s plans?” I ask coldly, not expecting any semblance of an answer. None of the vampires that had been caught understood it any better than we did. No one knew, and that reality was terrifying. But it didn’t stop me from asking, from bleeding it from their skin. “Hmm, no answer?” I coo, repeating the torturous touch down the other arm, only this time applying more pressure.

It had been a week, a week since I’d said goodbye to my father in the hospital. The knowledge that Arkin had taken him away, that the vampires were draining this world dry filled me with an uncontrollable anger, and sickness. And being inside this room, locked in here with my enemies, and all the time in the world to cut, and stitch, and bleed them dry, it felt right. It was what I needed to get over it, to get over all my years fighting them in hand to hand combat.

5.30 (2)

Another forty minutes pass before I finally leave the room. My eyes no doubt were dark and bleak, sitting lifelessly upon my pale face. I wasn’t a torturer, but in torturing my enemy I found solace. I knew the types of people who joint this profession, and they were cold, and sadistic, even outside of these stone walls. Is that how I would turn out? Would I always take joy in it, or was this only a temporary escape from the horrors outside?

It’s necessity, I think, running a hand down my stomach, feeling for the heart beat inside of my womb. Surely there was a part of me that detested this life, that despised the blood, and struggled to forget the screams. Somewhere deep down inside there had to be a part of me that understood this was just pointless revenge, and nothing could bring back what I’d lost. I mean, whoever felt like I did had to be all kinds of messed up, not fit to raise a child.

A loud crash somewhere in the city brings me out of my mind. On instinct, my body tenses, and through my lips I growl low, and threateningly. My heart beats painfully, like it was all to suddenly too big to fit inside of my chest, and was struggling to make room. The pressure knocks the wind from my lungs, and sends a wave of cold nausea through my veins. The tension I’d been feeling building up over the last few weeks, seemed to suddenly reach it’s maximum limit.

5.30 (3)

Baltezhar’s body flies past me, ripping the door open from the shadows, and remaining within them. His bright blue eyes tighten as he surveys the skies, as he watches the streets, and alleyways for danger. Standing together, our nostrils flare as we breathe in the distant scent of blood, and smoke, and death. “Ulrick.” He states in a low tone. “What do you think?”

The scarred vampire is at my flank, assessing the situation with heavy eyes. Suddenly he looked very tired, the sun in front of him taunted him to find out, to fight back. “It’s the direction of the laboratories, sir. But the humans would hardly risk the cure in such a fool hardy move. Aleksi isn’t there, they wouldn’t know what to look for, who to ask.” He turns his face to mine, my gaze meeting with the thick scar running down his face. It was the mark of a traitor. “Sending in day servants wouldn’t be worth the trouble for purebloods. I don’t understand it. Who’d be so mad?”

Mad, that was the word, wasn’t it. I think gravely, balling my hands into fists at my sides. Who would attack during the day? So quickly, and stealthily that no one saw the attack, or assailant coming until it had already begun. Right in the middle of town. There was no conceivable way. No possible way in which it could of happened. The sun mocks me, as I step into the light. It laughs in my direction as I grip the wall for support.

5.30 (4)

“You’ve answered your own question, Ulrick.” Baltezhar growls quietly, his body was tensed in a half crouch as he spoke. “There are ways of course to cross distances during the day, not without the risk or pain of course.” Finally he uncoils his body, and straightens up. His black hair falls messily across his face, and his eyes finally seemed desperate, full of obvious pain. “But it’s possible, and the purebloods that we fight have always been an old race. A mad race.” His eyes fall onto mine with an obvious need to be ask. “Larka, they’ll need all the help they can get. Perhaps you know that better than anyone.”

I don’t remember the journey to the labs, or pushing past the crowd to the epicenter. The scent of blood, and death hit me like a truck and derailed my thoughts, crushed me to oblivion. Smoke littered the sky, and for a second I wished it would block out the sun. The anxious grip upon my heart made me want to crumple to my knees like many around me, there were so many inside the building, so many that their screams burnt in my ears. And Cassiel was somewhere within the darkness, facing an enemy I knew I stood no chance against.

Arkin… The sound of his name ringing in my head makes my breath shudder. The unease in my body fortifies and makes itself a home. Trembling I take a step forward, the chaos barely registering the movement. He’d beaten the sun to get here, to take Cassiel from me, and to destroy the cure in one fell swoop. He was going to take everything.

5.30

“Lark?” A familiar male voice murmurs coldly, but not unkindly. Fingers curl around my shoulder, and twirl me away from the hopelessness of the building. I search his face for a quiet moment, looking for anything comforting and familiar, but all I can see is Cassiel’s face, and the sound of thunder in my ears.

“Captain…” I whisper, dropping my gaze from the intensity of his. I could tell that Sora was trying to hide the fear, and anxiety, but even despite his efforts, his face was just a ghost of his usual casual competence, and self confidence. Weakly, I try to turn away, to take a step towards where Cassiel could be.. Could be dying... My heart thuds painfully.

“No…” Sora’s eyes darken as he tightens his grip on my shoulder. Shaking his head, his own eyes travel towards the flames licking the sides of the building, and cringing as the next round of screams echo in our ears.  “The black ops are on their way, special forces, they’re going to…” His jaw clenches, as he searches my face desperately. He looked hauntingly like a man that was being forced to sit on the sidelines while people died, and all he knew how to do was follow orders. “… Fight.” He growls finally. “We can’t go in there, not knowing, not- It’s a suicide mission. This war, our enemies, that, in there… It’s… No.”

“I can’t just-“

5.30 (3)

“Larka!” He snaps at me, with enough force to make me jump. “Did you not just hear what I said? It’s a suicide mission. Whatever that is in there, it’s not human, it’s not like the enemies we fight. It’s too strong, and you will die. And I can’t bear the thought of losing you too, not to such hopelessness.” His tone softens just a fraction, almost pleading with me to stay here. “You’re not the only one with someone in there, girl. Just trust them to be able to do their jobs.”

I barely let his words sink in as I fall to my knees. Staring down at my hands I trace the lines, and little wrinkles, the traces of blood, and I watch the power cement itself back into my veins. Cassiel was inside, and for once, I didn’t care how the story ended, as long I could get him back out. He was good, truly good, and something bad and evil was inside that building with him, hunting him down. There were so many people in there that didn’t deserve to die, just like my father hadn’t. And the pressure of what I had to do settled in my stomach like a bomb.

“I have to go inside.” I say quiet enough that Sora has to lean in close to hear my voice. A part of me hopes that he can’t hear the trembling of my words. Looking at him resolutely, I try to harden my features to hide any doubts that I had. They didn’t matter, none of them did. If I died before I found him, if I couldn’t save anyone, they were meaningless. I didn’t have a choice. This was either how my story began, or ended.

5.30 (2)

“I can’t let you do that.” Sora growls, all of the fear turning into frustration. More than anything, I could tell that he wanted more than anything else, that he wanted to go inside and hunt the bastard down himself. But I couldn’t let him do that. Not when I didn’t know if i would make it back out. “You don’t think that I want to go in there too? We all do, all of us here. But if that thing could get in there, right now,” He points to the sun. “And do this, then you don’t stand a chance, I.. I don’t know if any of us do.”

“Five minutes, Captain.” My voice changes, as I drop my gaze. He was one of our elites, one of our best and strongest captains, and he was talking like it was over. How long had passed since the attack started, ten minutes? And he’d already given in. “That’s all I ask. Don’t send anyone in after me, just let me do this, alone.” My eyes blaze against my pale, clammy skin. “You know what I can do, sir, I’m just asking for a chance to save those people. And I’m not asking for your permission, I’m asking for a favor. No one else needs to die today, like you said, going in there, with it, it’s suicide. And at the end of those five minutes, regardless, it might not matter anyway.”

“Larka…” Sora says quietly, his eyes turning into stones. A part of him understood what I was asking, and the reasons why. He knew what I was, a necromancer, but he also knew me as something that he wanted to protect. “And what if you can’t?”

“If I can’t, then it doesn’t matter, because in the end the outcome might actually destroy me.” I mumble to him. Cassiel’s face burns in my mind as I take a shaky step forward. Not because I loved him, but because I truly did believe that he was the hope for this dying world, for a cure. Because I truly believed in him, and hell, maybe in my own way, that was what love was. “Even if you don’t understand, this is something that I need to do. No one else stands a chance, no one else can fight him, so I will, even if that means saying goodbye.”

5.30 (4)

A few moments of tormented silence later, and Sora finally steps aside. with just the empty pavement between me and Arkin, I feel dizzy, and weak. And impossibly stupid. Of course I had no way to know that it was him, but it was the same surety I felt that the sun would rise again tomorrow. I knew it in the pits of my stomach, and the fibers of my frantic heart. I knew it. I walk stiffly, trying to hold my head up high so that no one else could see my fear. I could win, it begs to say, I actually stand a chance against the monster inside. Against the madness.

Stepping through the building, my body is tensed, hard as iron, hard as concrete. I can barely hear my own thoughts over the sound of my thunderous heart beat, and the hopeless struggles from just mere floors above. The scent of blood was dizzying, and made what few thoughts I could muster up scarce. Some of the faces I knew, some of them I didn’t, and there was not one single person that I had come across that I could possibly still save. Whoever did this truly did deserve the name of a monster.

Once I reach the third floor, the pressure in my veins, and on my heart is almost to much to bear. Each doorway, and branching hallway, every shadow has me trembling, and clinging onto false hope. I both dreaded and hoped to see Cas. I expected to see Arkin at every turn, so much so that when I finally did catch up to him, I almost didn’t believe it. I felt nervous and sick, and my body was covered in a thin, clammy sweat. And like a swift kick to the stomach I realized I had exceptionally screwed up by chasing him into this building without a plan or hope beyond finding him.

5.30 (5)

“Thank you for coming, little girl.” His voice murmurs softly. Arkin was as beautiful as all dangerous things were, like tigers, and venomous snakes. His skin could have been cut from the whitest of opals, hard, and sharp, and gleaming in the flickering lights. Skin that was adorned in very old, yet intricate armor, dressed as he was, he could have been a king, or a knight of prophecy. And his dark hair hung at his shoulders, obscuring parts of his face, and his eyes. Eyes that I knew all to well were Crimson red, like blood, and trained on me as though I were the only thing in existence. “I’m so hungry.” He says quietly, as though he were in pain. My body tenses instinctively.

For the briefest part of a second, I lose his silhouette in the darkness, before he appears before me. His teeth gleaming, sharp, and white against the Crimson wash of blood against his mouth and chin. “No matter how much I consume, it never ends.” He whispers, breathing in the scent of me. “Your sacrifice is a worthy one.”

For a moment I can’t move as time begins to slow down. His body presses me against the desks, trapping me in place, and the metal he wears is cold and wet from the blood. His fangs close in around me, edging towards my neck, but instead of the hysteria, and the blackness that I thought would follow, my mind snaps awake, and I choose to fight this unbeatable war. I focus the darkness into my skin as I push his face away with my palm.

5.30 (6)

I feel his body go rigid all over, and a low hiss passes through his teeth. And then his weight is gone. He stands across the room from me, barking a sadistic laugh. It sends a chill down my spine, because he was every bit of the nightmare I was expecting. I ignore the dead bodies in the room, the strong scent of blood burning in my nostrils, and the fact that I hadn’t found Cassiel yet. Instead I train my eyes in Arkin. I couldn’t hope to overpower him, he was too strong, and I stood no chance of out speeding him.

Cocking his head to the side, his laughter stops abruptly. “You.” He says. “Are an interesting creature indeed.” We circle each other slowly. Where he takes a step in one direction, I match him, not daring to break his gaze. “Unfortunately for you, I haven’t seen a witch in a thousand years that could stand against me, and you, you are just a little girl, not yet tempered in the fires of age, or experience.”

He breaks the circle, flashing his fangs as he does so. He’s so close that he could reach out and touch me. That I could drive a stake through his heart. I force a smirk onto my cold, frozen face, forcing a calm surety into my voice. “Are you sure about that, vampire?” My eyes are wild, and desperate, and I wonder if through the haze of blood the shade of my eyes was something he remembered.

My hand brushes his cheek as I force all of the hatred I had for him into the attack. For my father, for everyone in this room, for everyone that could never fight back. This time he screams, his veins turning black, and thick beneath the surface of his face. His screech turns into a strangled laugh at the end, as he forces us both against the wall behind us. My spine cracks, and I taste blood on my lips, as I struggle to regain my composure.

Arkin’s hand lightly brushes the hair out of my face, capturing one of the strands between his blood stained finger tips. His head dips down into the crook of my neck, breathing in the scent of rushing blood beneath the surface of my skin. His lips brush against skin as I try to push him away, to force him back again, but he’s silent, as he kisses a trail down my jugular.

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In this close proximity I can feel his burning spirit, aching with loss, and confusion, and violence. There’s memories on his lips, on his fingers, and as he pulls away he smirks. His hand moving to my stomach and caressing it lightly. The touch makes me sick, makes me want to tear his throat out, but I force my face into ice.

“The blood of the innocent truly is one of the most glorious gifts in this world.” He murmurs. Tracing a lone finger down my stomach, drawing blood, and tearing the fabric with a shallow wound. He grins, the type of grin that makes me tremble beneath his touch, the type of grin the turns my skin to ice. “I’d be doing you a favour, you understand? Children are more trouble than they’re worth.”

I can see red hair dancing in his eyes, and teeth shimmering in the morning sun, turning to ash. “Did you always believe that, or only after-” A scream pierces my ears, so loud that we both cringe, but more than the volume is the utter pain, and horror of the feminine screech. “Did you try to help her?” I growl, summoning all my strength to draw out his memories. To draw her out. “Did you want to save her?”

He drives a hand through my shoulder, shattering the bones as he does so. Frustration, and confusion, and something deep, and dark burning with familiarity in the scarlet of his eyes, which flicker around the room. Arkin can’t even deal the finishing blow, not with the agonising scream filling the air. It’s the first time the mask of bloodlust has been lifted, and all that’s left is terror. His eyes flick back to mine, the pupils wide, and black, almost blocking out the Crimson sun in his eyes.

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“You can’t kill what’s already dead, Arkin.” I breathe out in a shudder, coughing up blood. A sick laugh vibrates from behind him, trailing her long fingers down his back. His entire body stiffens as he throws me to the ground to spring into a crouch in front of the girl with the red hair. Arkin hisses, his eyes wild with panic, and confusion.

“Silly, silly father.” She giggles tensing into a crouch, like a snake coiled to strike. Their images flicker, as my grip trembles around a broken leg of a chair. And then like the thunder, a growl so vicious fills the room. Arkin whips his head around, turning his back on me as he watches the black wolf, its teeth exposed, and its body trembling with the ferocity of the growl. I almost can’t hear Elvira’s childish giggles over the sound.

I stand and drive the sharpened wood through his back with inhuman strength, sinking it in deep, not deep enough. Until I’m flying across the room, crashing through glass, shattering it into a thousand pieces, my back soaking up the shards. I can’t make a sound, I can barely see the flash of black whirling past me, and the sound of thunder turning into rain against my skin.

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I want to move, I want so desperately to find Cassiel alive amongst the dead, and bloody. But the numbness is dragging me down, as I breath out ragged gasps for air. I think I’m drowning in my own blood, as shards of glass cut into my body, slashing it open with each tiny movement, but there’s a stillness in the air as the wolf sits at my side, dripping blood into my wounds. There’s a calmness in my heart that hadn’t been there in a while, my father was dead, but somehow I’d fought Arkin, and he was gone, and maybe I’d scared him back into the Arkin that my grandfather had loved so much.

But there was too much to be forgiven.

Too much that could never be.

Too much had been lost.

Too many.

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I struggle to keep my eyes open as I see movement, silhouettes moving past me, and to me, and speaking words I don’t quite understand. I can feel the weight of Arkins memories dragging me into the darkness, even though I so desperately want to stay. Here. In the warmth. With Cassiel. Alive. I can’t. Because Arkins blood is mine now, his burdens are like heavy rocks sinking to the ocean floor. And the image of Cassiel isn’t enough to anchor me in the sun.

5.29

The guilt from that dinner had clawed through my belly and had made itself a home, a home among the dead inside. I already had to much to atone for, and inside, there was a heavy, sick feeling clinging to my veins. My blood felt infected with a twisted paranoia that wasn’t from this world alone.

No, it felt like waiting, for something, someone? My lungs had turned to glass beneath each hesitant breath, my heart began its slow descent to hell with each tortured second. And despite this overwhelming, ever present weight pressing down on me from the other side, it wasn’t a place that I could reach.

I had tried in that week, but my closet attempt at almost slipping through left me jolting back to the warmth of this world. The sheer panic of leaving had left me struggling to find the right breaths, and disorientated and sure my heart was going to leave me in the corner of the room. After that i couldn’t bare to try again. This was where I had to be, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving, not with this… Pressure on my heart.

So when my phone rang, close to two in the morning, with the sky painted black, absent of the stars, it wasn’t a wonder I was awake. Perfectly awake, despite the clear signs of exhaustion wracking my body. I read Sampson’s name, tensing inwardly, there’s almost a moment that I consider letting it ring, but it’s Sammy and he doesn’t bother me unless he’s forced to. And I can feel my insides turn to ice as I say his name, quietly, and anxiously.

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“Lark..?” His voice is strained, and thin, as though it physically hurt to put volume, and emphasis into his voice. The one word, one syllable tells me everything that I need to know. The hoarseness that was never present in his usually cheerful tone, made him sound like he’d gurgled razor blades for mouthwash. “I know you said not to call, but I had too, Lark. Please. Larka… Something’s happened.”

I sat there quietly, alone. Mother sat further up the hallway, with Sampson at her side. After how I had left things, after how I’d spoken to her when I’d seen her last, seen all of them last, I couldn’t bear the look of perfect torment on her face. It wasn’t the everyday sadness that she lived with, it wasn’t the anxiety that wore her down day in, day out. No. This was worse. It was final.

Father was in surgery, nick was in surgery, and she was out here. Stuck watching the flickering light above her head cast shadows against the perfectly white walls. Stuck breathing in the heavy, clinical scent of the busy hospital late at night. Stuck watching nurses brush by, silent grave looks on their exhausted faces. And stuck out here, while Lucian quite possibly took his last breath in the other room. The love of her existence dead, in the next room. The child she had raised as her own, dead, in the next room.

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My head spins, and a wave of cold nausea burns burns through my veins. The need to go to her, and be the perfect daughter who was always “fine,” and always insisted that “everything’s going to be fine,” was painful. And then the door creaks open and Nick’s large body is brought out in a bed, somehow looking tiny, fragile…

Crumpled underneath the white sheet, Nickolai was extremely pale, his eyelids dark, and shadowed. On his throat, and trailing down beneath the fabric of his gown, angry red scars ran livid, some in the shapes of bites, others clawed hands. Even in spite of the vampire blood they had no doubt given to him to heal his broken, dying body, his skin was speckled in light bruises. Whatever had happened, whatever had almost wiped out an entire battalion, almost wiped clean an entire battle field, this, right here, somehow made him the lucky one.

Time passes inside the hospital in a blur on silence, and watching over the almost dead. Father was brought out of surgery over an hour after Nick, with the same fragile, barely hanging on look. Seeing either of them, felt like I was choking, and couldn’t get enough air. I keep telling myself that we’re all soldiers and soldiers-

But all I can see is dad pulling me onto his shoulders when I was little, and complained that my feet hurt. And God be damned if I can’t feel the sun on my skin, and breathe in his familiar scent through the memory. And all I can think about is Nickolai sneaking me in cookies, and stories when I was a kid, and somehow knew that I couldn’t sleep. And I can see all the kind, selfless things they’ve done, and all the memories, and things they do for me, and I hate myself, because the memory of our last encounter, of the last ten, last hundred of them is like a slap across the face.

I rub my eyes, trying to get rid of the sandy, gritty feeling in them. In a daze, I raze my gaze over Nicks crumpled body. He had chords, and wires, and needles tangled over his finger tips, and wrists, and heart. The steady beat of the heart monitor couldn’t bring relief to the absolute self loathing situation I’d fallen into. This could be his last day on earth, and all I was doing i was thinking about myself, and driving myself to madness with the loss of the little things that he does, and doesn’t do for me, and the loss of what he is to me.

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Numbly, I reach for his hand, for the first time since I’d arrived. Squeezing onto it tightly, I can feel the gentle thrum of life in his warm hand. I tremble as I breathe a sigh of relief, but I can’t ignore the soft flicker of images invading my mind. Blood, and screams, vampires, and rebels just lambs to the slaughter. My eyes open hard and fast before I can see what he really wants me to see, because I already know, I can feel it in the bile of my mouth, and the sudden loss of balance. Arkin. It was always Arkin.

And his threat was here, in the room, and he was close. Closer than he’d ever gotten before, a shard of ice dangling precariously on the warm fibers of my heart. Every beat of my heart was his. I enclose my fists into the fabric of Nickolai’s pristine hospital bed, and tremble. My mind was racing, beating like a thousand frantic birds. I breathe out slowly, my breath catching on all the rough edges inside of me. Somehow, Nick had survived, a few others had survived.

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“You’re alive, Nick.” I whisper, my own voice sounded foreign to my own ears. Scared, little, fragile. “But I need you to wake up, I can’t do this by myself.” I withdraw my hands, and gaze at his face intently, trying to read the comatosed, blank expression of sleep. “I know that I’ve never asked before, and I don’t know why I am now, but I don’t think… I don’t think I can beat him. Nick. I don’t think I can win.” My breath shudders. “I see him though, in my dreams, and on the skin of others. And he’s coming, Nick, he’s coming, and with him only follows death. There’s a hurricane comin’, and I don’t know how any of us are gonna make it through the storm.”

As I leave the room, it leaves a painful scar in my chest. Somehow it felt wrong to leave him here, alone, and broken. But I force my feet to move, and follow the path to my father’s room. Dread filling my veins with every step. He was my father, he wasn’t meant to be here, bruised, and cut, and entirely pale. Weak with the weight of each breath. That wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Father was strong, stronger than me, and he’d been injured before, but not like this.

I stand on the opposite side of the door for what seems like hours, listening to the rythmatic beeping of the heart monitor. Despite the sinking feeling in my gut, it was comforting, at least he was alive, so no matter how he might look on the other side of this door, he was breathing. But somehow it didn’t make it any easier to open that door.

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I push through quietly, not quite realizing that I’m holding my breath. Slowly, I walk across the room, avoiding meeting my mother’s face, not that she could have possibly noticed my presence at all above the slow rise and fall of my father’s chest. His eyes were shadowed by darkness, and thin scars ran across the surface of his face. Trying almost in vein to restore him back to the living. Chewing nervously on my lip, I run my eyes across every inch of him, across the groves and indents from years of fighting, and discolored bruises. I almost bite my lip off when my eyes meet his neck, torn savagely apart, and stitched meekly back together. It was red and angry, and I could almost see the artery running beneath, and every pump of his weakened heart.

“Dad?” My voice is ragged, as I take Sampson’s now empty chair. He mutters something about coffee, something about Nick, but I barely process it. My eyes are fixed on my mother’s body, slumped over dad’, her breath shuddering with every sob that threatened to never stop again. Her usual flawless appearance was gone, replaced by a pale, grief stricken face, tears dripping down the sides. Even her hair hung limply at her shoulders. “How is he?”

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“He’s weak.” Mother’s voice is barely above a whisper. So quiet, I have to strain to catch any piece of information I can. “They’re both very lucky the support squads got there when they did, they’re very lucky that whatever did this was gone when they did get there.” She runs a hand over his, gently stroking his hand as if her life depended on it. “They weren’t sure, the surgery took longer than it should, he’s very lucky. He’ll wake up soon. I know it. Won’t you, Lucian.”

Her eyes don’t even soak in the image of me, all there is, is Lucian, my father, and her partner.

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“Dad…” I breathe out as I too take his hand, but the feeling is wrong. His skin is too cold, too off. It sends a jolt through my veins, and I frantically search his face, trying desperately to hold back the growing hysteria. I could see his chest rise and fall, I could feel the gentle thrum of his pulse under my fingers, under the grip that seemed to tighten unintentionally. “Dad?” Nick had felt alive beneath my touch. “Dad, please..” But he just felt, gone..” Dad, wake up.” Felt dead.

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I almost knock the chair backwards as I rip my hand away. Somehow I find myself on my feet, my head throbbing painfully. I felt dizzy, and as the world spun, my stomach danced. “Daddy, please, please wake up.” I mumble under my breath. My eyes fixed on his face, on his chest, on the heart monitor still reading a pulse. I reach back for his hand, hoping it was just my exhaustion leaking through, that I had somehow misunderstood the blankness. But the feeling of death hanging over him knocks the wind out of me. “You can’t be…”

Soldiers die.

People die.

My father-

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I notice the sound before I feel the pain. My mother withdraws her hand away from my cheek swiftly, blinking back at me, both in confusion and anger. The expression on her face is tortured, and I almost don’t mind that she’s slapped me, and that the pain radiated against my cheek. Fresh tears spill down her aging face as she bites back a sob.

“Get out.” She growls between the shuddering. “Just leave.” She hisses between the aching pain that took her breaths away. “I don’t want that in here.” Her eyes loosely fall onto my hands, onto the perfect white of my snowy head. “Your father is strong.” She mutters, turning away from me. “He’s going to be okay.” She falls to her knees by his bed. “Your okay, Luc. You’re going to be okay.”

I don’t want to watch her fall to pieces, and I know, if I were a better daughter, I would take her into my arms and offer some form of comfort. I’d apologize, and tell her I’d gotten it wrong, that my powers were a worthless inconvenience to all of ours lives. I’d promise her that dad would wake up, promise lots of things, about how things would okay, and that I would change until I was blue in the face. But I found myself walking out of the room instead. I don’t see Sammy until we’ve bumped into one another, and coffee stains the floor.

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“Lark-“

“You should say… Sammy, I think you should say goodbye.” I mumble out quietly, watching his face contort in confusion. I expect another slap, another verbal attack, but nothing comes. Eyeing him silently, as I brush my hair across my face, forming a white curtain against the red of my cheek. He nods without a word, as if he understands.

“Have you… You know, said… It?” He finally asks, the words causing him to wince. I shake my head softly, catching his gaze with my own. We were brother and sister, and yet we looked nothing alike, it was an odd thing to think about now. That he had gotten my father’s sun touched skin, and darkened locks. And those qualities that my father possessed would forever be lost without his boys. And that I had nothing of his to give to my child. “It’s going to be hard on her.”

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“It’s going to be hard on all of us.” I say quietly as I begin to walk away, but I think better of it to leave things as bad as they are. as bad as I had always left it. “For what it’s worth, Sammy, I am sorry.” I don’t want these powers either, I think desperately to myself, not like this, not for this purpose.

“If you want to apologize, apologize for not ending this war sooner.” He smiles softly at me, his eyes weary, and pained. Despite the fact he’d always been weak, pathetic Sampson, he was handling the entire situation better than all of us. Maybe he was stronger than I thought, stronger in a different way than all of us. “You don’t have to go. He’s your father too, Larka. You deserve the chance to say… If that’s how its going to go. Cl.. Closure.. And everything.”

“I don’t think she wants me here.” I whisper quietly, shooting him a grimace. “But she needs somebody right now, and that can’t be me, so you have to go in there. And you have to say goodbye, and you have to make it all right for her, or this will kill her too.” I run a hand soothingly down my neck, gently caressing the skin where my father’s throat had been torn out. “Goodbye Sammy.”

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I walk under the harsh light of the moon for a while, watching the sky slowly lighten, and the stars beginning to fade away. It hurt to breathe, each breath forced all the guilt and anxiety and loss to the surface, and each exhale found it sinking back into my bones. My ribs felt like broken glass piercing into my lungs, and heart with the slightest movement. Nick was alive, but my father would not wake up again, and my mind kept returning to that moment where my mother had snapped. It wasn’t the slap that had hurt, but the betrayal within those green orbs, and the torment she felt when she had finally looked at me.

I collapse into the underbrush struggling to breathe. If all I could do was summon ghosts, and know when death was close, then what the hell was the point of it all? Arkin would come, and kill, and conquer, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Especially me. Dad was gone. My comrades, dead, and dying. And Cassiel, and Sammy, and mother, and all the people I wanted to protect were like sitting ducks. Defenseless, and weak, as fragile as glass.

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I focus on my breathing, desperately avoiding flashes of memory, but they come anyway. My dad, my father, just gone. The pain sears through my blood. I was used to people dying. I was used to them being ripped from me. But it didn’t make it any easier, it never did. Knowing the inevitability of it. Burying my father, a fact most children accepted. I feel eyes watching me as I slowly lose myself in tearless sobs.

And that’s when I see it.

See him.

And I know everything that has come to pass.

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“Dad!” I half whisper, and half yelp. I have to fight the urge to run to his arms like I’m five years old again, and he’s been away on business, and fighting. There’s so much that I want to tell him, and that I want to explain, and apologize for. And even more than that, I want him to stay, so badly that it hurts to watch his spirit walk close to me. “I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry-“

“It’s okay, Larka, I understand, baby.” He soothes softly. His eyes were warm, and comforting, the same shade as warm honey. “Everything that I ever did was to protect you, and this family. And growing up, there was so much I thought we had to protect you from. God if only I knew how strong, and determined you were, how little I needed to protect you from. I love you, lark, darling, I love so much, from the moment I knew that you were coming. But now my job is over, and I can’t protect this family anymore, you, or your mother. So I want you to, I underestimated you, and I don’t want to anymore. Baby, take care of your mother, god knows I’ve tried, so it’s time for you to take care of her where I can’t.”

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“But dad, dad, what if I can’t? I want you to stay, please, dad.” He takes me into his arms, and his skin feels like electricity to me. It flickers against me, not quite strong enough to touch me, but it’s more than enough. Somehow it’s everything.

Baby, I’ll always love you, and it pains me to leave this family like this. But my time is over. And this is not goodbye.” He smiles so softly that it hurts, because it is goodbye. For me, for us, and he’ll never see my mother again. “Your going to be a great mother.” He whispers, and then he’s gone. Forever. And it feels like I’ve had blade stabbed through my chest leaving a hole where he was meant to be.

*

I’d debated this monumental task that my father had asked me for two days straight, going over and over in my head. I didn’t know for sure that I could do it, until I saw her face at the funeral. She had crumpled into the dirt, crying soundlessly through the ceremony. In her eyes, it was like she couldn’t truly believe it. Like Lucian would claw himself out of the ground to give her comfort one last time. Like he always had, for her, for us, he’d always been there, always loved us, and knowing that he wouldn’t, claw himself out from that coffin hurt like hell.

The sickness in my blood only got worse, and every shadow I expected to see Arkin laughing inside of. My father had died because of him. The strain on his body after the attack, the strain on his heart, had been too much. The only consolation was that he had died in his sleep, that he couldn’t feel anything.

Nick I think had only managed to attend through stubbornness, he had woken up shortly after our father had already died, and I could feel the wrath of pain through him in each breath. His injuries were significant, but the only thing seeming to hold him together in place, to even stand among the graves of our fallen was grief, and anger. The sole desire to be able to say goodbye, something only he had missed out on, not that I would ever confess to seeing my father’s spirit. My power was just a burden, especially now, especially since I was locked out the hell I’d been sent too.

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After the funeral, I took my time walking back to my parents, now my mothers home. Somehow the energy of the place had changed so significantly in such a short amount of time. Where once it had been lively, and loud, and big enough for a family, it suddenly seemed empty. Nick sat outside, like he couldn’t enter a house where our father no longer existed. And the way the sunset lit his face, made my heart crack all over again.

“You know he saved me in the fight.” Nick says quietly, as though he only wanted me to hear it. It was a statement of pure fact. “Arkin came from the darkness, we weren’t expecting him that night. It was just a routine mission, we were supporting our troops on the front line, only a few towns over, not far from here at all. And he descended on us, all of us, like a bat out of hell. Larka, he killed our men, he killed his own, he didn’t care who or what was in front of them, only wanted their blood. He was possessed, a madman.” He pauses, his still face grimacing for just a moment. “I know that you know he’s coming, I can see it in your eyes. I know how afraid you are, I’m afraid too.”

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“Do you think that we can beat him?” I ask quietly as I move to stand in front of him. He eyes me curiously, his eyes set hard and rigid, his jaw squared. Our father had just died, his entire battalion almost wiped out, it was hard to believe that anyone, or anything could make a difference. Now all of Azazel’s lessons seemed distressingly embarrassing, I stood no chance against the Prince of hell, and yet I had too.

“I don’t really think we have a choice.” He says quietly. And then his eyes meet mine, all the fire and brimstone melting away for a brief moment. “She’s not doing well. Neither is Sammy, he can barely keep up with taking care of her, convincing her to eat, to shower, that he isn’t. I know that things have never been good between you, but if you could put it aside for-“

“I’ll do it.” I say softly to him, squeezing the tip of his finger “You definitely are his son.” I add on, forcing a weak smile onto my lips. They had both asked the same thing, that I watch over her. Nick didn’t only inherit our father’s looks, but he was so much like him it was almost startling.

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“Mama..” I hear, as I push the door to my parent’s bedroom open. “You must eat something, please.” Sampson pleads softly as she lies statuesque in the bed. Other than the soft in and out of her breath, she made no sound, no movement to indicate that she had even heard him, even heard me enter the room. “I remembered you liked this when I made it for you.” His voice cracks, I know that means both my mother and father had. There’s a memory at the surface of his skin, burning him half alive.

“Sammy.” I say quietly, and his head snaps to mine, as if he hadn’t even noticed my presence. “Go home.” I pause, seeing the indecision on his face, to which he was probably right. Mother and I hadn’t been together without tension, or some type of fight since I was nine. “Take Nick with you, I’m sure you could both use the company. Eat something. Sleep. I can take care of her.”

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As I sit next to her on the bed, I slump forward, biting onto my lower lip nervously. I couldn’t help but replay my father’s last speech inside of my head, and how it wasn’t goodbye, because obviously he believed in an afterlife where we would all be together again. And that guilt sunk through me like a ship. And it wasn’t my guilt, but the image of my father waiting at the pearly white gates or wherever he went, just waiting, waiting for my mother’s face, just waiting, for her, for me, and he’d never see our faces again. I used to worry that spending my eternity with my mother would be hell, but no, spending it with her in a world where my father no longer existed would be.

“Mother.” I say quietly, as I grab the plate off of the bedside table. I poke at the salad with a fork, trying to hold back the frustration, and anxiety eating away at me. I’d never been good with words, never been good at comforting anyone, or being there for them, I had never needed to. “The baby will be here in quite a few months, and I’d really like you to be there. I’m scared that I won’t be enough for this kid. I don’t know a single thing about babies, or raising them, or being a mom.”

She doesn’t speak of course, but she blinks back. Whether in response to my words, or just because she needed to blink I had no idea. I hold the spoon out for her, willing her to eat. Softly I smile at her, trying to apologize without saying the word out loud, not because she didn’t need to hear it, but because it would hurt to say, and she wouldn’t care. I’d never been a good daughter anyway, not when counted, and now? It was a pathetic attempt at changing, I didn’t even believe it myself. “I’m sorry.” I finally say. “I hope this kid isn’t anything like me, I don’t think i could bare it.”

In the confines of sleep, I arch my slumbering body, feeling the muscles tense and release with the pressure. I couldn’t move very far due to the comforting weight resting beside me. I didn’t need eyes to see, or scent to pick out the body next to me. All the anxiety, and all the fears seemed to be far away right now, as the weight on the couch shifts against me. Warm, and heavy. Pinning me down into the cushions, and wrapping the warmth of his arm around me. It was stupid, because somehow, even with my painfully human, painfully fragile Cassiel, I felt safe.

5.28

Safe against what? I’m not sure. It wasn’t like he could fight my demons, or stop me from becoming one, it’s not like it was in his capabilities to save himself. And yet, feeling his soft breath against my neck, and listening to nothing but the quiet snores upon his lips, upon the face that looked nothing more than exhausted, peaceful, and entirely far away from this war, I was untouchable.

Utterly ridiculous, of course, but somehow it didn’t matter.

The sound of my phone ringing wakes me to the bright light of day streaming through the open window. Despite the exhaustion creaking inside of my body, I dive to stop the sound from blaring.

“What..?” I grumble into the phone without bothering to check the caller ID. I yawn quietly, squinting my eyes at the growing light, sparing a quick glance to Cas in the process. Somehow, he was still sound asleep.

“Larka.” I recognize the voice instantly, my brother, Nick. His voice is low, and quiet, and even through the phone, powerful. The call of the alpha was coursing through his veins. “Do you know what day it is?”

5.28 (2)

“Saturd-“

“-Sunday. And do you know what we do on Sunday, not that you’ve participated in a while, not that any of us really have, but that’s beyond the point. Do you know what tonight means?” He asks quietly, thoughtfully. Despite the smooth apathy of his voice, I can feel the ache behind it. I think groggily, searching through my brain for anything relevant. Until it hits me, in horror, that I tense up, and lean forward with a groan.

“Family dinner.” I say dumbly over the phone.

“Yes, and you’re coming.” He states matter of factly, but that tiny scrap of pain in his voice deepens, and darkens. “It’s the first time the five of us have all been off duty at the same time, in a long time, perhaps for a while too. Who knows when this opportunity will come up again? I’m not asking for a lot, just a few hours, be sociable, don’t rip anyone’s head off, easy.”

“Fine.” I sigh, already feeling the drags of tonight weighing me down. But with that touch of sadness and urgency present in his usually flawless voice, how could I refuse? It had been a long time, months upon months, since we’d all been forced into the same room together, and it could be a long time, if the opportunity ever presented itself again. My vision didn’t just feature Cas, and my grandfather’s death. And the rest of us were soldiers. But in no way did I look forward to it. Understood it, yeah, perhaps.

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I hang up the phone with another sigh, my eyes travelling over Cas who was now awake. “Am I that boring, already planning your escape?” He murmurs softly, his eyes still groggy with sleep, but with that familiar Cassiel grin livening up his face.

“I admit it’s not a good plan.” I muse softly, running a hand down his cheek. Hesitating, I pull my hand away slowly, and rest my eyes on the hardwood floor at my feet. The intimacy of the night was still present in my mind, in my bones, on my lips.  The tightness in my chest hadn’t entirely disappeared, and thinking about it, I couldn’t remember a time that the hole hadn’t always been present. “Family dinner.”

“If you need moral support.” He says, wrapping an arm delicately around my waist and sliding me back so I can feel the heat off of his body. He plants soft kisses up my spine before he continues. “I mean, I am going to have to meet them at some point.”

“You’ve met my grandfather.” I reply, my eyes boring into his, trying to understand what his angle was. I wasn’t close to my family, we all lived very separate lives, or at least I had. They weren’t something, or someones I considered in my everyday life, much less when it came to my sex life. “And my brother Nick. Isn’t that enough?”

He regards me through half closed eyes for a brief moment. “I would like to know where you came fro-“

“Well, when a mommy and a da-“

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“No.” He smirks up at me, pulling my face to his without touching his lips to mine. “I meant that they’re a part of you, and you’re a part of them, no matter how hard you try to prove that you’re not. They’re your family, I would have been proud to introduce you to mine, if, well. You know the story. But I think my mother would have liked you.” I scoff louder than I mean to, rolling my eyes, almost completely to the heavens themselves. “No, don’t make that sound. You’re strong, and beautiful, and lively, and vibrant, all the things that demons aren’t supposed to be.”

“So, you’ve rescinded the whole demon conspiracy thing?” I shake my head at him, torn between amusement and disbelief.

“Nope, but you’re the worst kind.” I raise my eyebrows. “The beautiful demon stealing the hearts of mortal men-“

I feign slapping him, but pull away too quickly. Beneath my lashes I watch him, trying desperately to decode his soft humanity, and that tiny knot in the pit of my stomach that I felt when we were both together and apart. I wondered how long it would take before he gave up on trying to convince me of my own humanity, that I too could love, and be loved. I only half roll my eyes at this. “The answer is still no, by the way.”

“And why is that, exactly.” He asks.

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“Because that would imply that you’re my boyfriend-“

“Father of your child, yes, boyfriend, no.” He laughs loudly to himself. There was no hint of anger, or resentment in the statement. I cringe at the words still, there hadn’t been enough time to comprehend that I would be birthing some parasite in the months ahead, that I would be, cringe, a mother. My heart races, and my stomach tightens in response. I couldn’t exactly hide the news either, any lycan would be able to tell by now, even god forbid Sampson. “Does that make me your secret lover?”

“Goodbye, Cas.” I sigh, pulling my boots on quickly before the panic could consume me. “It seems that you can amuse yourself without me.”

*

I knock on the door loudly, using the sound as a distraction from that thing inside of me, from the night ahead. A few seconds later my father pulls the door open, a small, tentative smile on his face. His eyes flicker ever so briefly down to my stomach before rising back up to meet my eyes.

5.28 (6)

“Larka, how.. How are you?” His smile wobbles, before he catches it. Grinning wider, he steps out of the door way so I can enter the house. Dad softly places a hand on my shoulder a we walk to join the rest of the family. I had timed my arrival to just before dinner, so I could eat, get the pleasantries over, and leave as soon as possible.

“I”m fine.” I reply almost coldly, too anxious to care. My chest felt tight, but somehow, it still managed to get tighter at the sight of my mothers face. Before I sit down I give my father a meaningful look, meaning to keep his mouth shut about what he knows, and what Vivian doesn’t. I couldn’t bear to hear the questions that I wasn’t ready to answer, or the advice I certainly didn’t need.

“I hear that you’ve been doing some exceptional work in the field.” He continues, almost awkwardly, but only for a second. If he kept that up then mother would surely know that something was up. “Soon enough you’ll make captain like your brother here.” Dad smiles proudly over at Nick who was scowling in the corner of the room at me.

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“And when exactly will Sampson?” I reply through gritted teeth, plastering on a fake smile. I throw a cold smirk over Sammy’s way and he frowns like a lost puppy.

“You know, Larka, I almost swear I remember you saying you’d behave tonight.” Nick sighs, regaining his own composure.

The rest of dinner passes in the same awkwardness. It truly was a surprise that we hadn’t tried to kill each other yet. Mother was herself as usual, chastising us all from the length of our hair, to the scuff marks on our shoes. Which, by the small smile on her face, meant she was in a good mood, and believed all her worrying was just her being motherly. If that ever happened to me, just kill me.

It was an interesting thought though, albeit a terrifying one, but the image of me playing my mother, exactly as she was, and is. Terrified of her, our own shadows, refusing our blood the simplest of things for reason that probably didn’t even make sense to her, perhaps I would birth something that would keep slipping through the shadows of death too. Perhaps that would be enough to scare me too. But she was like this, even before my birth.

5.28 (8)

I hear it’s because she was held captive by humans, and made into a lab experiment. Or maybe because she loved a vampire who was the true definition of vampire, and psychopath. Or because she lost a child, her first baby, before it even took it’s first breath. It happened on live TV, I’ve seen the footage before, the video like a brand inside of my head like it was my fault that it had happened, she acted like I had to pay for it sometimes. It was hard to watch, even for me, someone who has killed hundreds of kids. Sometimes, knowing all of this, I didn’t blame her, other times, I could only wonder how she could have been so stupid, and how she could continue being so stupid.

“So this is really happening?” Nickolai’s smooth voice snaps me from my brooding. I eye him dangerously, willing him to shut up. Instead his eyebrows push together forming deep worry lines across his forehead. His golden eyes study my features carefully, before they settle on my stomach, my womb. They’re surprisingly warmer than I had imagined they could be. “You’re really, you know..?” I nod carefully. “This is sorta a big deal, ya know.”

“Yeah I guess.” I huff out quietly, my chest beginning to truly ache. I wanted to leave, to shut the door on tonight for good. Mother was too much, having a runt was too much, waiting for Arkin… “People have them all the time, whatever.”

5.28 (9)

“Larka. You can’t be like… You don’t just have a-” Nick’s voice stops before he dares mention the words that would change everything. The anxiety ran livid in his voice, across his familiar face, and buried itself deep within his eyes. And I stare back, mirroring that expression, afraid that he would mention all the things that I was afraid of. And I was afraid of so many things. “A baby,” He barely breathes. “Lark… This isn’t just some dumb phase that you can decide on a whim. It’s a real life, living breathing thing. And you’re not-“

“Not what? The right kind of material?” I hiss under my breath, hoping desperately that mother doesn’t notice the nervous hostility in here from the other room.

“You’re not there yet.” Nick eyes me seriously for a moment, and the second our eyes meet, I can feel every thought etched perfectly onto his face. I can feel his anger towards my V addiction, the irritation at my constant drinking, his anxiety towards my work, and the company I keep. There wasn’t a single thing that he had to say for me to understand all the tiny little fears that were being inflicted upon my pregnancy. “But you can’t just keep being, well, you. Because it’s no longer just you. You and Cassiel, you aren’t just going to be you, and then separately him. Because it won’t be. It’ll be the three of you.”

5.28 (10)

His eyes gaze thoughtfully over our father’s statuesque form in the room. Of course dad didn’t speak up, or weigh in his thoughts at all, it would have taken something truly astonishing for him to intervene. There had been times when I had wondered why he had remained so calm, and silent during my tyrannical tirades, and over the years I had begun to understand. The truth was, he was afraid to speak up because he thought he’d lose what little relationship that we had. Which admittingly wasn’t a lot.

Over the years I’d learnt to read his smooth face, and see the quiet anxiety built into the lines of his face. I wondered how much his face had learnt to hide, not only from me, but from mother too. I wonder if she had ever looked deeper into his eyes and read the same fear I could.

“Nick..” I breathe out quietly in warning. Despite all the fights that we had seemed to thrive upon, and all the pointless warnings, I knew that this wasn’t the role that Nickolai would have chosen to play. The enforcer. But we were so tightly bound together as blood, and of the same pack, those ties weren’t as easily cut as everyone elses. “This isn’t ideal… I know. Middle of the biggest war this land has ever seen and I’m thinkin’ of expanding the family. And I mean, I’m not… But. This is happening. And it’s none of your business whether I’m ready, or if Cas is going to be a part of it, nothing concerns you. It’s my life.”

“And doesn’t that get a little lonely som-“

5.28 (11)

“And what exactly are the two of you so fervently whispering about?” Vivian enters the room, eyeing us both suspiciously from the corners of her eyes. Sampson drags his feet in behind her, eagerly avoiding my gaze. She takes her place at my father’s side instantly looking braver than before. I wondered if he ever felt the burden of all the she had placed upon his shoulders. “Well?”

“It’s just a debate, sorry if we got a bit loud, it’s nothing to worry about.” Nick’s face pulls up into a controlled smile as he says it. But I can feel his gaze linger on mine for just the briefest moment before he moves across the room to take Vivian by the shoulders softly. “I saw you icing cake when I came in, are you hiding it or do I eventually get a piece?” He jokes.

As they pass me by, she asks. “Are you okay-“

“I’m fine.” My voice is sharper than I intended it, but I don’t apologize. Just by being related to her I was probably gonna screw this kid up entirely.

“I’m sorry.” Nick whispers under his breath to me.

5.28 (12)

“Larka, honey?” She smiles anxiously, the corners of her lips twitching. Her eyes were wide, and vibrantly terrified. Vivian was transparent, she always had been, even now I could feel her studying my every word, and movement, even the shadows beneath my eyes. Perhaps she thought that right now I might fall down dead only to wake up an hour later, maybe she thought Arkin himself would smash through the doors and haul me away. Nothing was too ridiculous for her fragile mind to concoct. “I know you said you were fine, but if you want to talk, you know I’m always here. I can be quite the listener if you gave me a chance.”

“Just don’t.” I state childishly before turning my back on her. Sighing deeply, I run my fingers through hair, anxiously combing out the knots. Vivian’s bloodline was poison, all anxiety and no restraint. No kid deserved that, especially not my little runt. I could never be like her, continuously repeating the words no, it’s too dangerous and maybe tomorrow.

“I’m sorry.” She bows her head as if to signal defeat, Vivian half turns before facing me again. The fact that she won’t let it go was beginning to grind on my last nerves. “But you know, you can tell me anything. Anything at all, and I won’t judge.” I roll my eyes at that. “Baby, I can tell something’s wrong, you’ve all been acting strange all night. Even I’m not that oblivious. Did something happen? Maybe at work, or between you and your boyfri-“

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“No, oh my god, do you ever shut up?!” I groan in childish retort. I was an adult now, her reign over me was over, and I certainly didn’t need any of her half arsed lectures. Especially about all the things that she knew nothing about. “I’m pregnant! And you wonder why I didn’t want to tell you? You never stop. You’re just always on. Just nag, nag, nag, and don’t do this, and don’t do that-“

“Baby-“

“No.” I growl, fueled by my own words. I’d been here over an hour, stuck it through dinner, through the questions, and now this? I just wanted out. Just over an hour and I was practically looking for any, and every way out. How my father survived I had no idea. So I didn’t care if I took out casualties on the way, I just needed an exit. “You’re overprotective, and over involved.” The more I spoke, the more I just spoke. Barely without conscious thought of what I even wanted to say, but I somehow knew on instinct alone. “And mom, you don’t get it. And you never will. I wasn’t the one who died-“

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“Well sometimes it feels like are.” The one who died, she means. Tears prick at her eyes, already turning red. She was yelling, emotions tearing at her croaky voice. Father is at her side, almost immediately, trying to hold her into him. “Larka, I’m your mother, let me in… Please. Whatever it is, whatever you’re going through, maybe.. Maybe I don’t have all the answers, but… If we talk about it, if you can open up to me, we can try. We can try having a real mother and daughter relationship. Maybe you’ll figure out I’m not the enemy. Please… Just sit down… “

“Lark, I’m sorry, it was none of my business, don’t go-“

*

But the time I’d stormed home, and opened the door into my dark, cold apartment, I’d burnt through all the heat, and anger in my body. I could see her face, mother’s, hear the cracking in her voice. I could feel the absolute frailty of her mind, maybe that was the one thing we had in common. We were both broken inside, both damaged, and soiled, and irreparable. And for the first time in life, I could feel the poison in her veins turning into something dark and cruel, and tonight, that had been me.

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Why did I have to destroy everything that I touched? And break everyone that I spoke to? My own mother. I had been a constant thorn in Sampson’s side, bleeding him out. I had worn down my father, and Nickolai to next to nothing. And now I had my claws firmly secured into Cas, and this kid. It was only a matter of time before I bled them dry too.

If there was time at all.

Since when did I have a conscience when it came to her, to my family? Since when did I care? And why did I have to? It only meant that when the inevitable did happen, which it would, I’d have another broken piece inside of me. And Cas? Didn’t I choose him?  Despite knowing the truth, knowing exactly how he’d die, and the fact that he’d die young, die soon. How could anyone love something so finite?

How could I?

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That night I fell asleep, alone, and into restless dreams. Time was a sieve.

And I was running out.

 5.27

“I should have been more careful.” I breathe out a puff of smoke with a shaky voice. My fingers tremble. My body aches. If you had of told me I was going to war, at least I would have worn a smile, a real one that stretched ear to ear. Because that made sense. I understood that. Not this…

This tiny little complication.

This massive, undeniable screwup.

“Oh god, what the hell am I doing…” This time I bury my face deep into my hands, breathing in the musty scent of the earth, and cigarette smoke. Wetness stains my eyelashes as momentarily cave in on myself. Straightening my body back out, I graze my fingertips over my stomach, gently feeling for the thing inside me.

I rest my fingers over the tiniest beat of a heart. I could feel it. This thing. This infestation growing inside of me. “I hate him. I hate his guts.” I growl to nothing, and no one in particular. In this empty graveyard, I was the only living person here, but I could feel the dead beside me. Watching. Listening. “I’m gonna kill him. And then, I’m gonna bring him back, and then I’m gonna kill him again. Cas, and his super sperm, God. I’m gonna end him.”

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As I rant under my breath, I feel Aiden and Seth. I almost swear I hear them laugh, and feel them clasp my shoulder. They’re explaining the miracle of life in loud boisterous tones, and how beautiful motherhood is. But I can feel the question that only I can answer. Who even wants a kid? Could I even do it? Do I even want to?

“Who has a baby at the end of the world?” I groan into the wind, exasperation heavy in my voice. “A baby at all? Can I even be a mom?” I try to tick the idea over in my mind. I see myself as my mother and it terrifies me. I see fire, and guns, and blood, I see war, and a baby, and even I know those things don’t mix. “What right do I have to bring a kid into this fight? I’m not mom material.”

Excuses.
Whatever

I stare at the smoke in my hand before snapping it with a face full of regret. “I guess I can’t have these anymore.” Trying to quit smoking in the middle of the apocalypse, bright idea, like I’d even last the week. Another problem to add to the ever growing list. “Guys. I guess what I’m trying to say is.. I think. I guess I’m going to be a mother. Oh god it sounds worse out loud.”

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“Nope..” I mumble, finding my feet in a rushed, ungraceful manner. My hands hurriedly move to sweep the dirt, and grass that had attached itself to my clothing. Like that was the one positive thing that could come out of today. “Not today. No. Cas is gonna die and leave this thing with me to deal with by myself. I’m gonna kill him. Myself. And I’m gonna enjoy it.”

I storm away. I suppose that a hormonal pregnant lady is an actual thing, or I suppose I was just pissed off. And partially, mostly terrified. There were other options of course, other than spawning the damned insect. Adoption, as if there weren’t enough war orphans, and the whole pregnancy deal. I’m pretty sure I’d rather a screaming, crying, bratty kid, than have to listen to my mother’s half frantic pleas. There was also not having it, at all, but living in a town full of the occult, the entire town already knew. And Vivian might be a crappy supe, but if she somehow ever found out, no, God no, I’d rather the spawn. That, and I’ve killed enough kids this year, the idea doesn’t exactly appeal to me.

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Which left me with the problem of actually maybe dealing with the insect. Like as a mother. No smoking or drinking for eight months, or however long it took to kick the monster out of my body. I’d be off active duty by the end of the fourth month mark, and training would be on the ban list too. Coupled with the fact that I had the strange tendency to die. A lot. All before it even took its first breath. And then the crying would start. And never stop. Literally, all it would be for the first fourteen years of its life, til it was somewhat intelligent enough to hold a conversation, would be a walking, talking, eating, sleeping, poop machine. And somehow that would be cute. All taking place during the end of days, while I’m supposed to be hunting, and killing a pureblood.

Simple.

People had tiny devil creatures all the time, I’d be fine. Totally fine. Easy.

I don’t even notice Judd until I’ve crashed into his muscular arm, and almost knocked the both of us over. There’s a look in his eyes that I don’t quite understand, fear, pity, maybe even embarrassment. Something. I guess I hadn’t properly spoken to him in a while. Not since Ravenwood, not since I had to. I push the thought away, which was easy enough with that tiny heart beat making me lose my train of thought. “Judd.. I Uh.. I needed to talk to you.”

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“So talk.” His eyes linger on mine for an awkward moment before they fall away. I give him a hard stare before nodding my head. I had to get it over with, better now than later.

“I need you to arrange me a transfer, from the mercenary core to the interrogation unit for the time being. For a while.” This meant being removed from the combat list, which had to happen, at least until the parasite was removed. And I could spend more time experimenting with my powers, getting little bits of information about Arkin, and his attack. Which hopefully wouldn’t happen when I was eight months pregnant, and a bloated whale of a thing.

“Should I be expecting the wedding invite soon then?” His voice cracks ever so slightly, as his eyes linger on my stomach. Which of course he knew about. He was a Lycan after all, a captain no less.  I give him a defiant glare. “Is that all?”

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“Are you angry with me, captain?” I state through gritted teeth.

“No, Larka, of course not. I’m happy for you, truly.” I can tell that he’s forcing the smile on his lips, and he can tell. “I just, I always thought that you’d come back to me. After Ravenwood, I thought that you needed time, to grieve, to grow up, and you did, all without me. And I’m glad that you could, but I guess I just miss my prized pupil. I do understand though.”

“Understand what?” I ask, retreating into a little ball of nerves. I pick my words very carefully.

5.27 (7)

“That you love him. That science boy. The smart one.” Judd releases a heavy breath, running a hand tentatively through his short hair. “After the funeral, and for a while after that, I saw you crumbling, but I tried to keep my distance. I knew that a big part of you blamed me for what happened and I wasn’t brave enough to hear it. I was the one that left you all there. Abandoned you all to the sharks in the promise of your careers, and ambitions. I left you all in deep water, and the boy, he was the dry land that only you could make it too. How can I ever compete with that? And now the baby too, I guess I truly have lost you now.”

“Seriously? What the hell are you talking about?” This time, he smiles at me freely as we wait for the elevator that never seemed to come. The parasite was bad enough, without him bringing their deaths into it, without bringing up old feelings, and new ones.

“That I love you.” He says it casually, barely even watching my reaction. “I mean, I know it doesn’t make a difference. Hardly. But things are so uncertain these days. I’d rather have said it for it to mean nothing, than to be lying, bleeding in a ditch somewhere wondering what if-“

5.27 (8)

I don’t think about it before I softly touch my lips to his. But Judd’s words are so toxic, so intoxicating. We’re soldiers,lost in the idea of death, and love, and all the tiny things that can save us. That can numb us. And so I kiss him, because I know that out of everyone in my life, he understands what we do, and the sacrifices we choose to make. I kiss him, because I know what it is to die, alone, and afraid, and to wonder if in the end any of it even mattered, if anyone would even care.

“Goodbye, Judd.” I breathe onto his face, onto his lips as he inhales my scent, and memorizes my lips. We both know that after this moment, nothing would have changed between us, and nothing will. Our lives will continue as normal, or mostly so. But perhaps at the end, one of us might not be so alone.

I walk into Cassiel’s home, almost like I own the place, like it might even be my home too. Watching him silently, I pause in my stride, and focus on the soft inhale, and exhale of his breath. The comforting rise and falling motion of his shoulders slumped over in concentration. The room was dark, and the curtains open, as though he’d been in that position for hours, memorizing tiny numbers, and assigning them meaning. The trickle of light from his lamp illuminates his hair, and he’s beautiful. Lost in those numbers, he’s beautiful.

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And I’m a mess.

Crossing my arms, I sigh deeply. He was soft, and I was hard. I was the storm, and he was the calm, He was the light, and I was the dark. And yet, somehow, this was possibly the only place that felt like home. And this parasite, it was going to be the fire inside the both of us, the calm and the storm, the perfect and imperfect. The dead, and undead. And that somehow had to work.

“Cassiel..?” I call out quietly. My voice felt stuck in my throat, like a hard lump lodged where my voice box was meant to be. But I just couldn’t find it. Saying it made it real, more real than that heart beat, because it meant I’d made my mind up. It meant I was placing my bets on Cas, and this little bug, and everything else. When the rest of the world was still out there, kind of, when he didn’t even realise half of how messed up I was.”Cas, I kissed someone else.”

5.27 (10)

Was it honesty or sabotage? Growing up or the crippling fear of growing up? I can feel his spirit drain at my words, and the almost tangible sinking of his heart. His thoughts are slow, and muddled, confused. Hurt. “I just… I thought that you should know. So… Sorry I guess.” Is that the best that I could do?

“Did you sleep with him?” He’s slow, hesitant. Cold. And when his eyes meet mine there’s a thunderstorm reigning down hell in those familiar suns of his eyes. The sun that I’ve extinguished.

“No.” I reply.

“Did you want to?” I give him a hard look like he’s the one who’s screwed up.

“No.” The kiss was nothing to do with sex, or lust, or anything remotely…. Anything. Judd was a dying man, just like me, dodging bullets that got faster with every mission, and it was fucking terrifying. I didn’t kiss him for me, for my desires. That was the big difference between the two of us, Cas and I, was that he would never understand.

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“Then why? Lark?” He buries his face into hands, inhaling the strong scent of cotton, and laboratories. It could be so easy to drop the self loathing, sabotaging bullshit and just let him love me. It should be so easy to give up on all the terrible things I hold in my heart and just let myself be. But I just can’t, and I know I should love him. I should want to. I should throw my arms around him, explain that dying is scary, and life is beautiful, and we’re creating it. But I can’t move past the stoney silence of the room. “Please, just talk to me. Explain it. Because if you can’t… Lark if you can’t-“

“N0. Cas. He just. He told me he loved me and I-“

“He told you he loved you and you kissed him?” No, definitely bad. By the ice on his face, it was definitely the wrong thing to say. “You what? You realized that you love him too-“

“No.” I growl impulsively diving down into the barrel of despair, and sinking into the clutches of anger. How could he not see it? Just see what I was saying? What was right in front of him? “I don’t love him. I won’t ever love him. That’s the poi-“

“Thank god you could spare his feelings then, darling. Thank god you didn’t just tell him to leave.” The pain is evident in his tone of voice, the anxieties that he’d let simmer, and boil in his silence. Commitment was the wound that I’d clumsily tried to heal, but love, the thing I should feel, that I should be able to say… If I did at all. Love, that was open wound with salt lining the surface, and I’d just emptied a bucket of lemon into him, into Cas. “I’m so glad that he means enough to you to shield from that truth, that you would kiss him, that you play pretend, even for just a god damned second.”

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“Cas.” I hiss under my breath, trying in vain to slow my heart beat that was quickly sending a wave of nausea and dizziness to my head. Tonight wasn’t about the kiss, that was just a side effect. It was just a reaction. “I didn’t kiss him because I love him. Or because I want him. I kissed him because I don’t. I kissed him because he’s a dying breed, a breed that I’m not terrified to lose, a breed that I don’t have to remember by the touch of his lips. Or the scent of his skin. Or anything. I don’t have to wake up tomorrow with the sinking dread in my stomach that it’s the last time I’ll ever hear those words. Any words. At all. I kissed him because I’m not scared of that possibility with him. I didn’t react well to you telling me that, I know. I’m sorry. But what am I supposed to do when you’re entirely human, and entirely breakable, and entirely important to the rebellion, to the cure. To me. And to this… To the… To our baby. And if you don’t see the difference, if you don-“

“Baby…?” This time I give him a stony stare in response. It wasn’t supposed to go like this, although, there wasn’t supposed to be that thing to begin with. I didn’t even know if he’d be angry- Angrier with me for it, hate me completely or leave. we’d never spoken about it before, because it had never been an option. Not for me. So the words, the implications stole my breath in a frenzied panic. Dread hardens my every vein and artery, lathering it in dark visions of the future, with and without, Cas or no Cas. “We’re… You’re… Pregnant?”

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“If you don’t want it, or me, or… Or anything like that.” The confession weakens my resolve to the point I can barely find my voice. Anger was easy, simple. Fear was understandable. But this. Confusion. Uncertainty. Parenthood. “I understand. You don’t have to be a part of th-“

“Lark..?” His voice is soft, almost pleading as his trembling fingertips cup the underside of my jaw. The gentleness is enough to make me jump. Especially after what I’ve done, and tried to explain in incoherent angry mutterings. Even after what I’ve almost confessed to, to what I have confessed to. “Don’t… Please. You can’t talk like that.”

“But Cas-“

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“No. It’s the end of the world, Lark, I can’t lose you over a kiss.” His breath is shaky as his hand cups the side of my face. My eyes lose themselves in the darkness behind my closed eyelids. I can’t bare to see his face, so hurt, so trusting, so beautifully broken. “I hate that you could do that to me, just kiss someone else. I hate that you lock me out all the time, and that I don’t understand you, and all the reasons for the things that you do. But I’m not ready, or willing to say that it’s over. I want to look forward to the future with you. With this.. With our baby. So if I’m not going to give up on us, on you, please, Larka, don’t lose faith yet.”

5.27 (15)

“Don’t lose faith in me.” He breathes softly, voice thick with emotion. “I know your scared, I understand that now. And truth be told, I’m terrified of losing you too. So talk to me. About this. About us. Help me fix this. Please. I can forgive you, I can find a way to understand, if you can just let me. But you have to want this too. If we’re going to have a baby, if we’re going to make us work, then you gotta trust me, you need to let me in.”

“So…” I step away, trembling all over. Cas was willing to work on this, whatever we were. He was willing to forget about what a mess I was for another mistake. He somehow had another chance to give. Despite all my many screw ups, that I just seemed to keep making. Somehow he didn’t care, and I didn’t know if that was fair. But I had to shoulder the burden of losing him by myself, I had to wear that future branded in my skull. Neither of us were getting off lightly. Maybe we were both broken, both lonely, both terrified. “Let’s talk.”

5.27 (16)

So that’s what we did.