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you despise me and i love you

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Bo is a liar. She's naïve, and feral, and arrogant.

Tamsin kind of hates her.

They've yet to meet but Tamsin doesn't need an introduction to know that Bo doesn't give a damn about the fae—doesn't even know what it means to be fae.

She read Bo's file and it's been, what—ten, fifteen years since her powers manifested? Three since she discovered what she truly is? She's hardly got a toe to stand on.

Tamsin has seen her kind through millennia of war. Her morals are sound, carved to valkyrior standards across a hundred human lifetimes. She knows what she's doing.

She knows a killer when she sees one.

Bo is—

Bo is beautiful, in ways Tamsin can only envy, with curves fitting of a sexual parasite and soft eyes that certainly bring men and women to their knees.

Tamsin hates her. Tamsin—

Shoves her against a wall. Delights in having the light's cherished succubrat trapped helpless between her body and a hard surface.

Wait. That—

That didn't come out right.

The Morrigan calls at quarter past one. In the morning.

But Tamsin is doing shots with her favorite alcoholic at her favorite dark fae bar, so she doesn't get to be cranky about it.

"I need you to get close to her." Evony's mouth is pulled tight, eyes sharp. The angles of her face seem angrier than usual. "I'm on thin ice."

Tamsin's still a little—no, she's very sore about Evony's last ploy to screw with Bo, but she is dark fae through and through and she will protect her kind from any threat, even the ones with cute little asses.

"I don't trust her," Tamsin says.

"You'll do well not to. Just get her to trust you."

"And then what?" Tamsin snaps; she doesn't mean to, but she's kind of drunk and starting to remember parts of that night—sweet smiles and shy kisses—and the last thing she wants to do is make friends with Bo, fake or not. "I'm not an executioner."

It sounds like a lie even to her own ears. Evony laughs, harsh and cruel.

"Darling, I'm not the one you need to fool."

When the fae girl's body is found, Tamsin is certain:

Bo's killing again. Never really stopped.

Tamsin is going to close this case.

When the humans go missing, the threat is akin to both light and dark interests and Tamsin swallows her lust for Bo's arrest because their secret is more important than any vendetta, hers or the Morrigan's.

And it's more than that. Harming humans is part of Tamsin's moral code. They're unequal to the fae; exploiting their weakness and ignorance isn't just disgraceful—it's disgusting. The dark are notorious for infringements of this nature but Tamsin has personal stake in upholding this ethic, and is quietly pleased that it's light fae breaking the rules this time.

It's Bo who saves the humans. Bo, who has nothing to gain from this win—no duty or law or alliance to obey. She saves the humans simply because—

Because it's part of her moral code.

The human doctor fabricates an autopsy and Tamsin goes home, gets into bed and spends the hours until morning wondering what it is about Bo that's so damn special, everyone she knows is willing to lay down on the line, embrace any risk to keep her out of the Morrigan's hands.

Killers don't save humans, don't drink and laugh with them in bars like the stigma never existed. Killers don't—

Smile like that.

Bo's best friend accuses her of everything Tamsin's been trying to prove since day one, and everyone she loves turns against her: Dyson, the doctor, the barkeep. They put Bo in a cage and Tamsin sees her opening.

Finding Kenzi isn't difficult. Tamsin's been around long enough; she's got the connections, and kitsune tracks aren't hard to follow. She does it because—because the Morrigan gave her orders, okay, and because Kenzi is human and not because Bo looks so damn sad without her trusted sidekick.

What's so great about Kenzi, anyway?

She is my heart, Tamsin.


Tamsin's never had a friend like that.

That’s something they’ll soon have in common if Bo doesn’t hurry her ass up. By the time they get there, Kenzi will already be dead.

She knows what Bo needs.

(She was stupid to think this wouldn't happen again.)

Bo says, "I kind of hate you."

It stings a bit, but only because I need you to get close to her is starting to feel like an excuse.

But that doesn't matter, because Inari may be a sociopath but she's also one lethal dose of crazy they better be prepared for, and Tamsin's saying just as much when Bo lunges forward and slams their mouths together.

For a moment, it's just a kiss.

Then she feels it: an ache that wasn't there before, pulled from her core, through her gut, into her chest, and up her throat, where Bo is—

Bo is feeding.

Tamsin knows what sexual chi looks like. She knows it's blue, and mind-blowingly potent.

But she's never—

She's never seen her own chi before.

Is it good? Can Bo taste her hunger? They're absurd thoughts, especially as her knees begin to wobble. She shoves at Bo before she really starts to want it, blames her hammering heart on Bo's love of excess.

"That was amazing. I've never tasted chi like that."

Tamsin wonders if it's because she's a valkyrie or because—


She can't.

All fae pay a price in matters of the heart.

Bo's victims—her sustenance, before she learned control: they were hers. Dyson is still paying his price, every time he sees Bo smile at her human lover.


Cannot love. Not ever. Not if she wishes to serve this calling.

She's learned to control it. There's always a moment, just before falling, when you say yes, I agree to this love.

Tamsin need never say no in those moments. Because a warrior chosen for Valhalla has already fallen, and you cannot love in the afterlife.

She watches Kenzi embrace Bo like no one in the world will ever matter more and thinks:

I can't choose her. I can't, I can't.

She follows her orders, true to her word. She earns Bo's trust, and then she visits the witness, the one Evony is happy to discard of if it means finally having a reason to lock Bo away in her own personal prison.

He is crying beneath her. He's done nothing to deserve this, and Tamsin can think of only one way to justify betraying her morals:

"He didn't talk; he's dead."

If killing this man and lying to the Morrigan secures Bo's place in the sun even for just a little bit longer—

That's a risk she's willing to embrace.

"Why did you give your wolf's love to Bo?"

It kind of slips out and she regrets it immediately.

They're staking out together in a small cop car so there's no place to run.

Dyson sighs the way she expects him to, scrubbing a hand down his unshaven face.

"You can't understand," he tells her tiredly, like talking down to a child. "You've never been in love with her."

Tamsin wonders about the validity of that statement until their guy shows up.

Tamsin serves Odin for a century and a half before her dawning comes, and even with the help of all her sisters, even with a year of preparation: she loses all of her hair, and is bedridden for a week, after.

Bo blinks and is suddenly faced with the threat of devolution.

She is going to fail.

They are lying to her, every last one of them. She watches Trick's dangerously optimistic charade for a week, goes home each night and twists around her sheets, claws at her skin, pounds her fists against the pillows, thinking—

I will not choose her. I won't, I won't.

She wakes on the sixth morning with steel resolve:

She's going to see this through. She'll sacrifice anything—her loyalty, her immortality—to stop Bo from becoming under fae.

It's not a date.

Her hair takes an hour. She tries on four outfits before deciding.

Bo says, "Who are you all sparkly for?"

It's not a date.

She takes Bo to a dark fae bar partly to get away from her lying light fae friends, partly to prove a point about her alliance: dark and immoral are not synonymous. She needs Bo to know this, for reasons she can't confess just yet.

So it only makes sense that a group of drunks pick a fight, of course they do, why wouldn't they? It's not like Tamsin was trying to prove a fucking point.

And of course, because her kind isn't through being annoying today, a spriggan tricks Bo into making a deal and this becomes the worst not-date Tamsin's ever taken someone on.

Fucking dark fae.

The ridiculous adventure they promptly embark on takes them through several sketchy corners of dark fae territory: a sequence of puzzles and tests that Bo surpasses with courage and cleverness that Tamsin can only admire.

She's really quite remarkable, this succubus.

When they pass the gate of Brazenwood, Bo stops and sticks out her hand.

"You said you'd only come as far as the gate. So, thank you."

Tamsin smiles and it feels kindly, candid; she rarely finds reasons to smile like this anymore.

"Come on. When have you ever believed anything I've said?"

She's going to see this through. True to her word.

She finally figures out what's so damn special about Bo:

Bo stands for the misfits, the fae and the humans left to rot in caves and cells and shitty shacks in Brazenwood. She speaks for those who cannot, sees equal worth in every creature she encounters, will never turn her back on a person in need—whether help is requested or not.

She's one of a kind. In all her years, Tamsin's never known anyone with such boundless compassion.

She watches Bo convince the squonk, who's content to live and die in captivity, that there's a future for her outside of this craphole, that she can control what happens to her, she can go to school and make friends and fall in love with boys.

Tamsin watches, and thinks: this world needs you. I rain death and you save lives.

She thinks this again and again as Bo takes her position for the duel.

She does it—she actually fucking does it, and Tamsin is so happy, so proud, so relieved she didn't die, she—

Crashes into Bo. Kisses her senseless, says yes, a thousand times yes, yes.

She breaks away when she realizes her mistake.

Bo is smiling at her like every moral she's broken is forgiven, every life she's chosen is paid for.

Tamsin can't stand it.

"You're one of the good ones."

Oh, Tamsin thinks, if only you knew. If only you'd never met me.

Outside, conviction awaits her on the concrete.

"No," she begs. "Please tell me she's not the one."

Tarot cards surround her like a damned hailstorm and everything that shouldn't happen, can't happen, will not fucking happen—is going to happen.

She goes home and breaks every surface she touches. When her tears fall they are hot and burn her skin like the reckoning she deserves.

She gets into the shower and pounds the tile until her knuckles bleed, sinks to her knees on wet porcelain and watches red run down the drain.

"No," she says, lifting her head to face the spray of water, screaming for the worlds above: "I'm going to fight this!"

This is her mistake, her price to pay. She'll lay down on the line, embrace any risk to keep Bo alive, because—

Because Bo is a hero. She's good, and true, and extraordinary.

And Tamsin kind of loves her.