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Bite Test

Chapter Text

It was a bright beautiful late spring day, quite warm and tempered by a light breeze, and Porrim Maryam was finding herself hard pressed not to smile as the light tickled across her skin in what felt akin to a body encompassing, feather light kiss.

Her hair, tugged over her shoulder, danced idly in the wind as she sauntered down the familiar street; the delicately curling strands incited her to brush it from her face every so often when their swaying caught the edges of her attention.

She felt a bubble of excitement when she ambled up to her destination; a quiet little coffee shop with free wi-fi standing just outside of the reaches of the local college campus, sandwiched in between a small accounting firm of some debatable merit, and a rather culturally abstinent dojo that boasted the ability of teaching newcomers the ways of blockbuster famous moves in two weeks or less.

Porrim highly doubted the master knew the difference between karate and feng shui if the man's pretentious sunglasses and nearly lewd logo were anything to go by; but admittedly, when she had elected to wander inside one cloudy day some months ago, she had found his physique to be well toned and his dedication to his craft prevalent, which had shaken her previous assessment slightly; his stone faced demeanor however had been a little unsettling to discover and left something of a mark against his hypothetical record.

The coffee shop boasted both in and outdoor seating as well as the promise of freshly baked pastries around the clock. As such, it was frequented at all hours by the local student body and at any given time one could walk in and see a handful of them engulfing steamy beverages like a lifeline as they typed away at reports and essays with barely lucid functionality and listless expressions composed of equal parts anxious dread and forlorn misery.

Upon entering the establishment Porrim glanced around at the few faces scattered around the sitting areas before smiling at the barista. She ordered her usual, a boiling cup of surgery coated caffeine that would remain untouched by her lips but faithfully caressed by her hands, and three delicately constructed chocolate chip cookies that she would nibble throughout her stay. With her order quickly in hand she tossed a friendly thanks to both the barista and the cashier, and leisurely made her way over to her favored booth, settled in, and began her self-imposed mission of people watching.

There were many people that frequented the place often enough to be deemed regulars, and out of that number was a steady list of revisiting students, and out of that number was a small handful that she paid specific attention to, and out of those, was a single candidate that Porrim found herself actively considering, and by extension, watching with intense interest.

She had observed this girl on and off for the past month, and to someone who had lived as long as she had, the things Porrim observed spoke volumes.

The way her fingers tapped impatiently against her keyboard without typing, the way they hovered in midair while her thoughts were realigning, the warm greetings to her favored baristas and her curt dismissals of young men that broke her concentration to sit in the seat in across from her; little things that gave a general sense of the girl's personality.

The girl's routines proved to be especially useful in Porrim's study.

She arrived every morning, just before the large clock down the road struck twelve, placed her order, and then as she sat in her favored booth, she would pull a knitted cozy covered laptop from her bag, and would quickly begin typing away with quiet determination.

She would spend no more than an hour and a half like that, every morning, typing away while she slugged back her drinks, only to scurry away to her next class when the tiny alarm pinged on her phone.

It was only after accidentally overhearing the blonde chat with a particularly enthusiastic barista that Porrim learned the girl was writing a book and not a slew of miniature reports or innumerable social media based status updates, which had been her first assumptions for the repetitive behavior.

The correction to her presumptions had prompted a small curiosity, so when on one of her visits the shop was particularly empty, Porrim spoke to the same barista, and learned that not only was the girl something of a regular to the establishment, but that she was a writer with two drafted novels foaming at the bit for the chance to sideline a publisher and overwhelm the masses. Apparently, according to another barista, the girl’s unpublished works already had something of a small following of dedicated readers that seemed to be steadily growing in size with every passing day.

According to rumor, both books belonged to a the girl’s planned ongoing series, which was to run rampant with mystery, intrigue, gender and sexual fluidity, wizards, puzzles, and dark magic, with numerable other fascinating things besides; they sounded like the sort of books Kanaya would adore, and Porrim wasn't too adverse to admitting to liking the idea for the series herself.

It had taken a lot of self restraint after hearing of her books for Porrim to not ask the girl about them in the quiet evenings when the blonde had time to spare at her leisure.

Instead, Porrim simply watched her.

The young author passed several hours, in her booth in the back, reading obscure pieces of literature with fervor, occasionally pausing in their consumption only to answer the messages piling up on her phone.

The books she read ranged from trashy romance, to the zooligicaly dubious, to psychiatric journals just days into their published existence and once, what had looked to be a handprinted comic composed entirely of shitty jpegs. If she happened to finish her material of choice, the rest of the blonde's evening was tied completely to the changing winds, and Porrim liked to guess which action the girl was bound to take.

Sometimes she pulled another book from her bag, already ready for the inevitable end of her current choice, and other times she simply packed up and left, unknowingly forcing Porrim to change plans for the rest of the night.

Other times, the girl brought a friend, a boy whom bore enough of the same facial features to be a relative of some kind (and judging by the sunglasses, a probable student to the dojo next door), and the two would banter at rapid pace, their voices rising and falling like a giggling tide of prolonged metaphors and lengthy dissertations in iambic pentameter.

It was through these nights that Porrim learned the girl had humor to match her wits, and a tendency to delve into dark conversations with gleeful abandon and that if she began sticking people with the barbs of a sharp tongue, it did not necessarily mean that the girl was not having a good time or that she intended her biting words to sting.

The boy took it all in stride, which seemed to please the girl greatly, and he gave as good as he got in varying responses of rambling similes and spontaneous beatboxing. He revealed himself to be every bit as colorful as the girl, and his dubious irony was a perfect foil to her sarcastic jabs; but Porrim still found the girl more intriguing than her masculine presenting reflection.

Other times, Porrim noticed, the girl didn't bring anything or anyone at all and simply observed the world by herself and the two engaged in separate games of spectating.

On several such occasions Porrim had been caught staring at the girl, and the girl in question had first simply raised a well trimmed eyebrow at Porrim's lingering gaze, and now after many similar happenstances, smirked occasionally or nodded non-accusingly in reply which pleased Porrim considerably.

Today the young author was sitting in her usual seat next to the large window near the back and when she rose to replenish her supply of liquified caffeine, Porrim's free hand plunged into her coat pocket. She let out a small sigh of relief when her fingers caressed a thin envelope.

Today Porrim had decided that it was time to approach the girl.

Her sister's life depended on it.

Chapter Text

Rose Lalonde was a young woman of many talents, and of those talents, she had prided herself on a few selective traits and activities for most of her life.

One of which, was her unassuming hyperawareness of the world around her, which was a trait shared amongst her siblings and respective guardians.

She often found this trait both an instrumental blessing in dealing with people, and a monumental detriment in dealing with people.

As her beloved sister often iterated, she was “curious as fuck and paranoid as shit”.

Her sister fared far better than herself in the socializing department, boasting the ability to walk into any room and simply strike up a friendly conversation with anyone in particular about nearly anything at all.

It was through her sister that she and her cousin Dave had made the two of their life long friends, both of which were the younger siblings of Roxy and Dirk's life long friends, and the eight of them got along pretty well.

As such, it was usually by her sister's guidance that Rose handled any social situations that she felt too underprepared to handle on her own.

With a slightly creased envelope in one hand and her laptop settled haphazardly on her lap, Rose logged on to her Pester account and wasted no time selecting the older Lalonde from the small list of contacts stored within it.

 

TT: Roxy?

TT: Before I unleash a tangent of considerable Strider proportions that will inevitably leave us both in want of beverages comprised of questionable components that we have both sworn off of, might I ask if you are busy at the moment?

TG: omg

TG: arent you supposed to be in class or somethin

TT: I am currently waiting for my next class to start.

TT: Are you in class or something?

TG: im TOTES free at the moment like tangent away

TG: I am SO ready for strider level hashing like noprobs

TG: fuckin A level strider dealer-wither right here

TG: no questionable beverages needed

TG: im on that shiz like white on rice stuck to the wall like that one time we tried to make our own chinese food in sixth grade

TT: ...

TT: ...

TT: ...

TG: uh

TG: ...Rosey? U still there?

TT: Sorry, I had to plug in my power cord. Do you remember that woman I told you about?

TG: which 1

TT: The “1” from the coffee shop I endeavor to frequent on a weekly basis?

TG: oh u mean the hot chick who keeps showin up just to make sweet sweet bedroom eyes at u all night long

TG: the one that looks like a supermodel and has a voice like melted caramel?

TG: the chick whose hair you keep writing sonnets about all misty eyed like

TG: that one

TT: I believe “bedroom eyes” is her resting expression and can hardly be attributed to anything correlating to me. I refuse to contemplate the rest of all that. But yes. That one.

TG: rosey u literally for reals said that she shows up whenever u do, buys like one thing and just like stares at you all friendly for however long ur there

TG: and you just sit there lookin back like *hey* but also *maybe not hey*

TG; you know, in that way u do

TG: and shes just sittin there the whole time like waiting for you to make up ur mind while shes checkin you out like god damn

TG: like

TG: shes either gonna drag you into an alley somewhere or throw you onto her bed and stuff you between her sheets

TG: or both

TG: ;3

TT: That makes the note she gave me much more ominous doesnt it.

TG: omfrigginGOD SHE GAVE YOU A NOTE

TG: WHAT DOES IT SAY

TG: TELL ME

TG: tell me right now

TG: like right now

TG: what did it say?!?!

TT: It's a handwritten invitation to her presumable place of residence where she apparently wishes to procure my services to assist her and her younger sister this weekend if I do feel so inclined.

TG: omg WAT

TG: really?!?

TT: I found it sitting next to my laptop when I returned from one of my beverage purchases this morning, encased in a vibrantly jade colored envelope with my name scrawled on the front.

TT: I did not reiterate it word for word of course, but that was the essential gist of it.

TG: how do u know it was her and not like someone else?

TG: not that I dont think it wasnt her cause it was totally was but im just sayin

TG: what if it was like a dumb boob or somethin

TT: When I made eye contact with her as she exited the premises shortly after my discovery of the note, she winked at me.

TG: ooo la la

TT: She also signed her name at the bottom.

TT: Her handwriting is very lovely.

TG: so she got tired of waitin for you to make a move so she invited you to threesies

TG: omg

TG: sometimes I envy you u know that?

TT: I highly doubt that's the case.

TT: One would not typically invite strangers to participate in any intercoursural behaivors with one's genetic relative.

TG: but it sounds like something someone would DEFINITELY do

TG: in FACT

TG: Dare I say

TG: something someone DID do

TG: like just now

TG: to you

TT: For the record I'm still not convinced.

TT: She could want to interview me on my books for example.

TG: or want to interview you on her bed for example

TG: wonk ;3

TT: I hardly think an interview would take place in a bedroom, regardless of the material they were interviewing.

TG: ur just askin me about this to see whether or not you should go

TG: and like

TG: big shock comin up here

TG: you might need to sit down and saddle up for this revelation im about to unleash here

TG: like di-stri is gonna be hella proud of this one

TT: I am sitting and saddled and ready for my revelation. My congregation of one is all ears rapt in their attention to the woman behind the stand; we shall pay our attentional dues as the bowl gets passed round.

TT: Nobody shall pass go.

TT: Everyone shall pay 200 attentions.

TT: And what is the sermon of the day to be?  

TG: you should go

TT: The revelation has been revealed and my flock will never be the same.

TT: Truly today is the day of the dawning of enlightenment.

TT: We must dawn our cardboard robes scribbled with your final sermon near illegible on both sides and vacate to the nearest street corner to shout “the end is nigh”

TG: I mean like,

TG:  you should be smart and bring your phone and watch out for anything shady but

TG: Even if she just wants to hang out or like maybe set you up with herself or her sister or both or just interview you or whatever

TG: it could be fun

TT: So you admit that the situation could be different than it appears?

TG: uh?? yeah??

TG: I mean it could be a lot of things but statistically if it looks like a duck and walks like a  duck, and sounds like a duck...

TT: It's probably one of Dave's metaphors in disguise

TG: It's still somethin you dont get asked everyday

TG: I mean she's been makin eyes at you for WEEKS and this is the first time shes talked to you

TG: well wrote I guess

TG: and who says you actually have to get down if you dont want to?

TG: like you could say like hey no this isnt really my thing at any time ya know

TG: and still hang out and catch a movie together or somethin

TG: and if you DONT go, ur totally going 2b all grouchy for like three weeks moping over “lost research opportunities”

TG: and the only thing you'll be able to write is forlorn quintuplets

TG: the only thing youll want 2 talk to me about will be links for more wizard herbert fanfics

TG: and then i wont hear from you for days as you binge read them all again

TG: and who wants that

TG: not me, thats 4 sure

TT: I do not believe that I am one to mope over anything.

TG: … rlly?

TG: jaspers

TT: That was a different sort of situation entirely.

TT: Also that was a low blow and you know it.

TG: Im not sayin it wasnt low or that I didnt deserve any of what I got but the fact remains that you still obsessed over it for two years

TG: if I hadntv'e figured out how to make mom's old clonerizer work, youd *still* probably hate me with a passion of a burning thousand suns and not talk to me if your life depended on it

TG: which really sucked by the way, worst two years of my life right there

TG: how is Jaspers Jr. doin btw?

TT: True enough I suppose.

TT: And he's been doing quite alright thank you

TG: Tell him that I love him!

TT: I shall inform Mother of your request and see to it she send along your love.

TT: But can we return back to the matter at hand?

TG: my hands are so returned to the matter already

TT: Isn't there some sort of moral query about sleeping with someone who may or may not also be interested in having you sleep with their sibling?

TT: And if there isn't, should there not be?

TG: omg

TG: really?

TG: rosey I s2g I love you but ur bein difficult on purpose

TG: like go if you want to go

TG: just be safe about it

TG: or like ask her to hang out with you first maybe?

TG: like HEY I'm thinking about that sweet letter you wrote to me by hand like a 19th century poet and I'd love to head to your pad and discover like 18 new ways describe romantic shit without using our mouths for words,

TG: but I am a small delicate flower and must be courted before such activities can occur!

TG: I mean people would talk!

TG: my sister (who is totes the best sister 5ever tbh 4realz) would be in shock!

TG: A-GASP!

TG: the very horror!!!!

TT: Fuck you.

TG: <3

TT: I'm not that prudish.

TG: <3

TT: I am as perfectly capable of spontaneity and making ill thought out decisions as any other college student.

TG: Rosie u’ve been pining over this chick for weeks, if u dont sleep with her *i* will.

TT: Fine. I concede. I'll at the very least consider the offer. It's not as though I had anything planned this weekend anyway.

TG: :3

TG: welp im sure glad you got everything figured out then

TT: Yes, it appears your insight to the intrinsities of the social machine has proved invaluable once again.

TT: And at risk of sounding terribly ungrateful,

TT: Thank you Roxy.

TT: <3

TG: no problem sis, always here to help!

TT: I might ask you more about this later if you'll be available this evening but my warning bell just rang and I've got to get to class.

TG: :)

Chapter Text

“Miss Lalonde, I presume?”

The inquiring voice was lilted, thick, and poured smoothly from black painted lips.

The woman the voice belonged too was a tall, stylishly dressed woman, with a small cascade of black hair who appeared to be in her mid twenties.

The blonde haired guest in the doorway sported a pleasant if somewhat catty smirk.

She was dressed in a flowing dark purple skirt, sported a leather jacket, and accented in a lilac headband; her violet eyes twinkled with curiosity and intelligence.

“Indeed I am she, if you are indeed the one and the same Porrim who contacted me two days prior.”

“That I am,” she replied smoothly as she allowed the door to open wider, revealing her well curved figure, her black evening dress, and a glimpse of a beautifully furnished hallway behind her; “And you are here to inquire about my offer are you not?”

“It would seem as such, yes, but then again, I could just be here to admire that impressive garden out front;”she cast a glance at the lovingly landscaped yard behind her, “I was almost certain that I had driven to some sort of botanical preserve by mistake. I half expected to find a state parksman at the gate telling me to shove off lest I lose my way in a tangle of petunias of unusually proportioned sizes, leaving my relatives in charge of writing a very peculiar obituary notice.”

“You wouldn't be the first to assume that actually,” the woman admitted, while the blonde watched as the light glinted off the gold ring on the older woman's lower lip; “And I'll be sure to pass along the compliments to the gardener, it would certainly make her day.”

Rose was about to reply, but her words were lost as she was gently ushered inside the door.

“May I hang your coat?”

Rose shrugged off her jacket, revealing a black low cut shirt adorned with a beautiful velvet lined and bone ribbed corset.

“A sharp dresser I see.”

“I could say the same of you Miss Maryam.”

In truth, Rose was not currently as finely dressed as the older woman, but she had clearly put some effort into dressing nice for the occasion, mysterious as it was, and the older woman respected the gesture; she had noticed from her time in the coffee shop that the blonde's outfits tended to be well planned and made of decent materials likely purchased from before her time as a student, and the rest of the wardrobe Porrim had seen seemed to be based purely around comfort, consisting of large sweaters largely centering around the macabre, the ironic, or cats.

The girl tended to favor darker colors over brighter ones (though both suited her very well in Porrim's opinion) and always had a headband for every occasion, which Porrim found terribly amusing.

It also didn't hurt that Rose naturally carried herself with enough dignity to stun a large sea dwelling creature of the deep, and she even had the decency to color coordinate, which Porrim respected implicitly.

Porrim hung the jacket neatly on a rack and then led her guest a few paces down the hallway until they came to the first door on the left, which led into a rather cozy looking parlor.

The room was well lit, with sunlight pouring softly through the window, and was decorated with throw pillows scattered against the floor and curious looking trinkets and small sculptures filled the lining shelves everywhere she turned.

“I am so pleased you could make it today, Miss Lalonde, but here,” Porrim began as she gestured for Rose to take a seat on one of the two opposing lounges, “please have a seat. We will have much to discuss and we might as well get comfortable while we do it.”

Rose nodded before taking her seat, taking care to smooth her skirt as she did so, to prevent it wrinkling under her.

“Before we get started, can I get you anything? A snack of some sort or a beverage of your choice perhaps? I have a bit of everything, as it were.”

“Tea would be fine, herbal, if you indeed have such variety,” Rose replied politely as she settled against the lounge, “and any will do, if you are in possession of multiple strains.”

Porrim nodded and vanished deeper into the house, leaving her alone for the moment, and the violet eyed girl took the opportunity to drink in her surroundings more properly.

According to the items on the shelves, Rose noted that the Maryam's were either quite well traveled, or else frequenters of online marketing systems. Rose was willing to bet on the former however, if the woman's thick but untraceable accent was anything to go by.

One of them, at least, also seemed to have a knack for interior design, as the blonde was finding the room quite pleasant to look at for the small length of time that her host remained absent.

Rose had only a moment more to tuck an errant strand of hair back into its place underneath her headband before the person in question returned with a silver tray in tow, which was placed gracefully on the coffee table between them before she took the seat across from her on the opposing lounge.

Her smile was still eager, if a bit more subdued than it initially had been, but her posture was still relaxed and inviting, which Rose chose to take as a good sign, and the blonde smiled politely.

When she began to pour the tea, Rose found herself admiring the older woman's poise.

Porrim passed her the cup and saucer, both as beautifully decorated as the pot, and the blonde took a moment to admire the design, which her host seemed to appreciate.

Taking a sip Rose relaxed and crossed her ankles, and watched as it caused Porrim to subconsciously cross her legs in turn.

“Is the tea to your liking Miss Lalonde?”

Taking another sip Rose hummed affirmatively; “Yes, I must say that the tea is as lovely as your home. That is to say quite nice indeed. Who is your decorator?”

“In all honesty, the decorating has been something of a long standing joint effort,” Porrim replied with a wave of her hand, “the garden however is entirely my sister's work. She has a knack for that sort of thing.”

“I would certainly be inclined to agree with you,” Rose agreed before she took another sip.

Porrim smiled, very much pleased, but did not touch the cup she had poured herself, which Rose noted; the notation spun the girl's mental gears, and her mind began running with hyper awareness.

“Well then Miss Maryam, are we to exchange pleasantries and idle gossip for a while or shall we get to the heart of the matter?”

“Is there one you would better prefer Miss Lalonde?”

Rose allowed a moment's pause, in which she feigned a sip of her tea, before deciding on her reply.

“I am not afraid to admit that I have been most intrigued by your pointedly vague and politely prosed letter left on the edge of my table two days ago, preceded by several weeks worth of deliberate eye contact. I do believe that you were studying me Miss Maryam, and as I have earned a written summons to your place of dwelling, I can only assume that I have passed an unspoken test of your design. -To what end have you lured me to your den of admittedly comfortable velvet lined couches and freshly brewed tea Miss Maryam? Nothing nefarious I would hope.”

Porrim's smile stretched into a lopsided grin, flashing Rose a glimpse of pearly white teeth; “No, nothing quite nefarious,” she managed after a chuckle, “Something considerably on the more alternative side of life, definitely, but nothing of the nefarious variety.”

“Can't blame girl for being cautious,” Rose replied.

Though it was a meant as a jest to set her own mind at ease, the sentence drained the mirth from the young woman's face and her shoulder's sagged; an apology was bitten behind the tip of Rose's tongue, and had she not spent years in mental mind duels with her mother she might've let it slip, but as it was she chose let the sentence's weight hang in the momentary silence to study her companion's reaction.

“True,” Porrim replied after what was a mere heartbeat, “One can't be too careful at all nowadays, especially young women. It is an absolute shame, the state our society is in. It's hardly safe to walk the down the street anymore, regardless of what one is wearing or the time of day.”

“Quite.”

Rose took another sip and studied the woman's face; thick black hair, gorgeous cheekbones, full lips, flawless application of eyeliner. Her eyes were large and a stunning shade of green that left Rose feeling more breathless the longer she looked at them.

It was the piercings dotting Porrim's brow and lip that marked her as someone modern and current, and not a breathing renaissance painting, and the swirling tattoos swimming along the woman's rich, dark, smooth skin sent a small shiver against Rose's spine as she imagined them swirling across the older woman's flesh in an abstract dance.

“Actually, caution is the reason I invited you here, since we're both on the subject.”

“Oh?” the blonde replied with a slight lilt; her brows furrowed as her mind snapped back to the present; she kept her gaze steady as she risked a sip of tea.

Porrim nodded somberly; “Before we discuss the actual matter however, I must first impart some information that may color your judgement entirely. And before that, I would first like to know: about how open minded would you say you are Miss Lalonde?”

“I would have to say that I am of the terribly open minded sort Miss Maryam, an affliction I've had since the ill spent days of my childhood I'm afraid, and one that deeply affects my way of life...” she let the sentence trail off for a few seconds as tilted her head and grinned; “But I think you already assumed as much. One would have to, one would think.”

“True,” Porrim replied honestly, “Your work in the literary community seemed to attest to as much. And after your arrival today, I assume that I have at least piqued your interest enough to investigate a little further...”

“If one calls meeting up with a visual acquaintance from a coffee shop that is frequently visited by both parties a small investigation then yes, consider my interest piqued.”

“I could hardly be pressed to label it otherwise Miss Lalonde,” Porrim replied teasingly; the warmth that had first surrounded her returned quickly as the older woman stifled another chuckle.

“Then with that established, I believe we may continue if you wish Miss Maryam.”

“Porrim darling,” the young woman corrected happily; “Lest our conversation grow tedious with unnecessary formality. We shall be good friends in the near future I hope.”

“You may call me Rose then, dearest Porrim, lest I shiver at each reminder of my mother's moniker.” she replied with a small nod.

“Rose,” Porrim affirmed; “May I ask how old you are? -Just to be sure, I'm sure you understand.”

“Nineteen and in my second year of college. Is that legal enough for whatever you have in mind?”

“Were you anymore than a year younger and I'm afraid it would have been a bit of an issue, but one easily worked around. A year is a small wait after all.”

“So you prefer to seduce girls of age at least?” Rose asked bemused.

“I hardly think you can label my behaviour as seductive Rose.”

“Oh, I don't know,” she sighed wistfully, “A mysterious message left to incite curiosity that beckons a young and impressionable author to the sender's isolated place of dwelling... A message that was sent from the beautiful stranger who had spent weeks watching her quietly from afar...” she trailed off, her gaze then regaining focus and turned back towards her host; “Sounds rather on the seductive portion of any literary crime novella to me...”

Porrim nodded softly; “I assure you my dear, that if my intention had been to seduce you, that neither of us would be wearing very much by this point in time;” she replied through a devilish smirk.

“You did not deny that you seduce girls.” Rose countered between grins.

“On occasion, and if they're of age, and if they are willing, then yes I have been known to do so.”

Grinning devilishly, Rose leaned closer and asked, “Did they enjoy it?”

“I have yet to meet one who has told me otherwise,” Porrim offered in reply, her own mouth caught in a momentarily wistful smile; “But that is irrelevant.”

“Their opinions or this conversation?”

“The train of thought,” Porrim stated lacklusterly, dimming Rose's enthusiasm; “I'm afraid I didn't invite you here to beguile you with my feminine wiles or recount my past love affairs.”

“Was it perchance to create a new one?”

“Despite any appearance to the contrary, that is also not my intention, at least, not this time anyway,” she replied gently with a slow shake of her head.

“Perhaps we should talk about why you did invite me here then, as that was one of the few things I was anticipating struck off the drawing board as it were.”

“What were the other things, out of curiosity?”

“Varying ways of being murdered or interrogations about my book drafts mostly,” Rose replied with a nonchalant wave of her hand., “but as you've yet to tell me that you're my biggest fan and I've yet to see a single splinter of something resembling a sledgehammer... I find myself quickly in need of new theories.”

Porrim's face was briefly scrunched in confusion before realization settled into understanding and the older woman chuckled; Rose's grin spread wider in retaliation.

“I admit that one nearly slid past me.”

“That one happens to be one of my favorites, for obvious reasons.”

“Well you can strike the horrific survival scenario off the board as well,” Porrim began as she settled deeper into her seat, “Tell me Rose, do you believe in creatures of supernatural origin?”

A shiver ticked its way up the blonde's spine as she caught sight of two rather pointed canines in her host's smile.

“...Specifically of the blood drinking variety?”

Momentarily taken aback, Rose stared at the way Porrim's pupil's narrowed into thin slits, and Rose found herself grateful that the woman made no further comment nor move until she had found her breath again.

“I was...” Rose paused as she processed the new information and the things it entailed.

Porrim smirked and rested her cheek against her hand as Rose struggled to string together her reply.

“That is to say,” Rose went on, “That I had not dined to truly believe in the physical existence of many things whom most discount, previously speaking, but I suppose the adage 'one learns something new everyday' may hold true in this instance. Although to be fair, it is not difficult to procure pointy teeth or customized lenses in this day and age so you must forgive me if I remain a tad on the skeptical side for the moment. Especially after your dismissal of this being a survival case scenario. So I expect evidence of your claim.”

“The teeth are real, if you wish to try removing them,” the hostess offered idly.

“I shall pass on the offer, as I've suddenly obtained a childhood trauma induced aversion to sticking my hands anywhere near strangers teeth.”

Porrim nodded, as if expecting this answer, furthering Rose's increasing heartrate.

“Also, the sunlight puts a damper on your claims and points to a rather tenuous grasp on reality on your part, which I'm certain would be fascinating in another context where we weren't sitting somewhere fourteen miles from the nearest Burger King.”

“Interesting?”

“I could write a paper based on your unfortunate condition, and with the recognition you could receive some congenital help on the matter while I earned a Pulitzer.”

“You really don't believe me, do you?”

“We're sitting in the middle of broad daylight Ms. Maryam.”

“Vampires are, on a whole, nocturnal, yes,” Porrim allotted, her head bowed slightly; “but it is something of a family genetic disposition amongst those of the Maryam clan to withstand and flourish under the light of the sun. It's a rare gift however, and currently there are only two individuals that bare this trait.”

“You and your sister I shall presume, if the gardening is anything to go by.”

Porrim nodded, “Yes. We are the last of the clan and the last of the gene carriers.”

“My condolences then.”

“No need my dear, two is actually considered a welcome surprise as opposed to the normal one the Maryam position usually has in stock.”

Rose set her tea down, suddenly aware that it had been shaking slightly in her hand.

“...Is there any way you can prove your supernatural claim?”

“I suppose I could grab a blood bag, but there are numerous non supernatural reasons as to why a respectable person might keep some in stock.”

“And several reasons non respectable people might keep some in stock.”

“Do you think me someone non respectable Rose?”

“Do you consider yourself to be non respectable Porrim?”

Sighing, the woman replied,“You'd be surprised at how often I get asked that.”

“Oh?”

“If you met my extended family, you would understand.”

“Fair enough,” the blonde replied letting it drop; “You really can't prove it?”

“I could do the ‘glowy thing’ I guess.”

“Glowy thing?”

In response, the woman closed her eyes, a mere blink, and when she opened them, her previously rich brown skin was instantly brimming with inner light, a phosphorescence so bright that it made Rose's eyes water. Porrim's previously jade colored eyes were now completely overcast with white, eerie in their unseeing appearance and unsettling with their luminous glow.

Another blink, and it was gone.

“While not a 'normal' vampire trait I know, I do hope that that was sufficient enough for you for the time being.”

“I, ah, believe that will do for the moment, yes,” Rose replied as her eyes strained to readjust; “You are certainly something not completely ordinary at the very least. Or barring that, extremely talented with special effects or manipulative suggestion.”

Rose spent a few moments smoothing the fabric of her skirt to allow her heartbeat to settle.

“And are you frightened by me?”

“Should I be?”

“Instinct might tell you that it's a good idea.”

“And what would you say was a good idea?”

“Never wash your clothes in anything floral scented if you're going to spend the day outside. Wasps are nasty little things.”

“Does that happen often?”

“Not anymore,” Porrim deadpanned, prompting Rose to snort; “At any rate, I have no wish nor intent to treat you in any other way than as I have been, if that helps.”

“Then I see no reason to be afraid.”

“Good; my next question is equally as important.”

“And what question would that be?”

Porrim paused for a moment, uncrossed her legs and rested her arms on them as she leaned in.

“What is your stance on blood donation?”

“In general I believe that the practice is good but that they're missing out on opportunity. Sexualities aren't diseases and can't be transferred. They're limiting their own supply with poorly decided policies based on prejudiced decisions.”

“Something left over from the AIDS epidemic I'm sure.”

“Most things are it would seem.”

Porrim nodded slowly and readjusted herself.

“But, ah, how would you feel about more... personal based transfusion?”

“Is this the 'alternative' part of the transaction you mentioned earlier?”

Porrim nodded.

“You already confessed to keeping blood stocked in your storage, are you just planning to bleed a bag or two from me? In which case I don't see why you couldn't just order some online. It would probably save you a lot of hassle. Less time needed to seduce your victims that way.”

“As far as nutrition goes, the freshest option is usually best, and many prefer their meals as fresh as possible. I have a fairly large group of donors to choose from, and I do keep a plentiful amount of bagged blood in stock as well, as it's good to be prepared for cravings, especially when raising a fledgling. But no, the plan is to take your blood directly, not bag it. ”

“Fledgling?” Rose asked as she went to pick up her tea once more.

“A fledgling is a freshly initiated vampire, or a young vampire not yet in their next stage of life. In my letter, I mentioned that our transaction would largely involve my sister and as I've already mentioned, she too suffers my affliction.”

“So it's your sister that you intend to drain me dry?” she asked before taking another sip.

Porrim's expression soured; “My dear, that is the precise thing that I do not want to happen.”

Rose set her cup back on its saucer but held them both firmly in hand and waited for her host to illuminate the matter further.

“You see my dear, the Maryam clan has always prided itself on the way we conduct ourselves, everything from manners, to consent, to self control; our conduct is extremely important to us. I would not have asked you here if I did not think Kanaya was incapable of controlling herself and I will not force you to do this in any way. You are quite free to refuse at any time.”

“And I'm to just take your word on all of this?”

“Not at all,” Porrim replied; she bent over and slid the tea tray aside. From underneath the table she pulled up a folder thick with parchment and a fountain pen; both of which Rose's inner writer appreciated for their traditional merit. From the stack she drew the two top-most pages, that Porrim had clearly taken a lot of time to handwrite several things on.

“I have already taken the liberty of writing out some things you might wish to know before giving your answer,” she said as she handed over the papers, “legal things mostly, but I'll happily highlight the main parts in verbal discourse if you would prefer that instead. If you're willing to do this, we will draw up a contract and construct it to your liking. If I or my sister break the contract in anyway, you will be able to hold us accountable for it.”

“Tell me some things while I glance it over, if you would,” Rose replied; her eyes already skimming the beautiful penmanship; “How do you choose your victims?”

“The Maryam clan feeds only on willing participants ,” she gently corrected, “and never in excess from the same donor. It is poor manners to kill the friend that feeds you after all, and the guilt of doing so is not a pleasant experience. Not to mention murder is still very much illegal, especially in our communities.”

“Is there some sort of supernatural police force enforcing such things like contracts and feeding laws?”

“A few actually. Clan Redglare is quite adamant about it. They would likely be the ones to handle your claim.”

“And if I die, on accident, by you or your sister's hand?”

“We will compensate your family greatly -or your charity of choice, if you do not possess any familial ties, but we will be forced to hide the true cause of your death depending on how easily traceable to anything non human it is. My sister and I would also be brought to court and sentenced for the crime if convicted.”

“What would the punishment be?”

“I doubt either of us really want to know.”

Rose turned her attention to the second page; “So you've told me that you don't think your sister will lose herself to the grim passionate throes of blood lust, but I'm reading a lot of sentences involving how you will pay for every and any damage that might be caused to my body or brain should anything go wrong or if I so much as feel lightheaded and upset about it.”

“I do not expect anything to go wrong, yes, but that does not mean I shan't hold myself responsible should anything in fact, go to hell,” she replied firmly before taking a deep breath; she leaned in and gently took hold of Rose's wrists and when their eyes met she continued,“I want to make sure that if you agree to do this, that you do so knowing that every precaution has been taken to keep you safe and that every care will be taken to make you feel comfortable and appreciated.”

“Has she bitten anyone else before?”

Porrim released her hold, but kept her gaze steady. Slowly, she tilted her head and pulled back her curtain of hair, revealing the swatch of skin between neck and shoulder. It was littered with tiny pin prick sized scars, and a few larger puncture sized ones that looked more recently afflicted.

She let the curtain fall back into place.

“She has practiced with me as her donor for several months, which is how I am certain of her ability to now handle feeding from humans.”

“So all that is required of me is to sit still and let her bite me, to make sure that she is capable of doing so without error?”

“For lack of better words, yes. I will however, bite you first, so that you have a proper base of comparison and can alert us if something doesn't feel right. I will be supervising, so if it comes to it I will keep you safe by force if I need too, but again, I do not believe it will.”

“May I ask why she needs to learn this skill?”

“Self preservation my dear, I can't in good consciousness let my sister ever get into a position where she would either starve to death or pose a threat to society.”

“And is this one of those 'if I don't comply I shall disappear' type of bargains?”

“Heavens no,” Porrim replied as her eyes widened briefly; “I already said that you are free to refuse or to leave at any time.”

“Isn't that a liability?”

“In this day and age people will just assume you ran across a fetishist or something and be done with it;” she waved her hand about idly before her brows furrowed, “Mind you, if you start to hunt us down or take to carrying stakes and trying to film us for the internet and news or other such nonsense we shall have to have a very long discussion, and I assure you Miss Lalonde, that while I mean you no harm, and I very much would like us to get along, that if you ever try to attack my family in any way, I will retaliate without hesitation or mercy.”

Porrim's voice had dipped low, and her speech reverberated through Rose's ribcage before bubbling back to begin curling around her lungs.

Rose ignored the adrenaline rush it incited.

“I would of course, expect nothing less. Rest assured, that if what you say is true, that you will have nothing to fear from me. I see no reason we can't get along if I'm not going to be mauled to death or locked in a cellar.”

Porrim nodded and relaxed once more and recrossed her legs, the long slit in her dress allowing Rose a view of more spiraling tattoos that danced about her upper thigh.

If Porrim caught her involuntary blush she made no mention of it.

Rose took another sip, emptying her cup and the graceful vampire was quick to refill it and the blonde mumbled her thanks.

“So do I get anything from this arrangement? Other than a glimpse of something out of the ordinary and a most unusual case of anemia?”

“I am quite willing to pay you the market price per pint, as is custom, as well as compensate you for the added stress of, well, dealing with the supernatural, and for the added fact this this will be, essentially, a bite test. If there's a certain price you want for that I'm sure I can arrange to meet it.”

“So you choose a lone, struggling college student, with a penchant for writing about the zoologically dubious, and then dangle outlandish sums of cash in front of her for use of her body?”

“I will not deny that I did in fact put a lot of thought into choosing you for this, Miss Lalonde. You must realise that secrecy is the essence of my kind's survival and I hoped that as an individual who favored the forces of the strange and surreal, that you would be less likely refuse a chance to interact with it.”

Rose studied the vampire's face for a moment as she thought.

“What if I do not want any money?”

“If you'd rather something other than cash you need only to name it. I'm quite open to suggestions Miss Lalonde.”

“May I think on it?”

“Of course.”

Rose glanced back at the papers on the table and retrieved her cup. She swirled its contents for a few moments while she thought harder.

“How much blood will she need?”

“Two pints a bite or less is the rule.”

“And when you bite me?”

“Depends on how good you taste,” Porrim replied happily before chuckling to herself; “But the same rule applies. You will of course have ample time to recover from any feeding before the next one occurs. A few months between each if you like, and never during menstruation.”

“Why should that matter?”

“During menstruation, the body is already losing a lot of blood. There's no need to add any more stress on the body by sucking out what blood remains. It would be needlessly cruel.”

“So all the rumors of lesbian vampires and menstruation are false?”

“You misunderstand, I said that Maryam's never bite a donor during their menstruation. Should the individuals wish to engage in oral coitus is another matter altogether. That blood is already being expelled after all, and happens to be the most nutritious;” she replied with a suggestive eyebrow wiggle.

Rose fought off another blush.

“How many bites shall I be receiving, assuming I accept?”

“In the least? Two. Mine and Kanaya's. If you wish to continue past that, we will of course extend or change the contract at your desire. You could even become a long standing donor if you desire to.”

“Very well. When would we begin?”

“Whenever suits you best my dear. Have you decided then?”

“Would it be rude of me to ask to meet her first? I should like to get comfortable with the idea of who I may be inviting to my neck to dine after all.”

“Certainly,” the vampire replied; she tossed her head against the back of the lounge, drawing Rose's eyes along a beautiful neck and into a very bountiful bosom as she called out; “Kanaya my love, come say hello to our guest!”

Her shout was barely above her speaking voice, but it was apparently loud enough because almost instantly, the door to the parlor opened slowly, and a younger girl slipped through.

She looked just younger than her sister, and though she was a bit paler than her mentor, her skin was just as rich and soft looking. She had the same jade eyes as her Porrim, but they were wider, were more open than Porrim's usually heavy lidded expressions, and they gave her an air of nativity that her older counterpart lacked. Her dark hair was short but well styled, a pixie cut, and it framed her face beautifully. Flawless eyeliner also seemed to be something of a family trait, and Rose could see two tiny pointed teeth poking out from underneath her upper lip, and the black matte lipstick she had chosen to adorn her mouth in only served to highlight the white pinpricks more. She ran her hands along her ensemble, smoothing out invisible wrinkles, and to Rose, she looked far too shy in contrast to her sister.

Then again, Rose considered, perhaps this was something of a sensitive moment for the girl; this did seem to be something of a momentous occasion if Porrim's information had been anything to go by.

“Kanaya my darling, this Rose Lalonde, she's the one I mentioned before; the one thinking about being your bite test. Come, sit,” she said as she patted the seat next to her.

The action briefly remind Rose of her mother; she fought back the instinctual scowl the image ignited.

Kanaya complied, and smoothed her skirt as she sat, much the same as Rose herself had, and folded her hands neatly in her lap.

She looked at her uncertainly and Rose half expected her to start worrying her lip.

“Miss Lalonde,” Kanaya offered, “It is a pleasure to meet you, my sister mentioned you approved of the garden earlier. I would like to thank you for the complement.”

Her accent differed greatly from Porrim's, but Rose found herself still as incapable of placing it.

“It was a compliment well deserved I assure you,” Rose replied fondly; “Tell me, Miss Maryam, I have yet to hear your opinion on this matter. What do you think of this proposed arrangement?”

The younger Maryam worried her hands slightly; “In truth, I am both flattered and humbled that you have stayed this long to consider the offer. I... understand that this is a difficult and odd request and I would not fault you for refusing it completely, although if you do not mind me saying so Miss Lalonde, I find myself rather hoping you shall do the exact opposite of refusing, that is to say, that I hope you will accept, of your own accord, if you feel inclined to.”

“What happens to you if I don't feel inclined to?”

“Then my sister looks for someone else i suppose.”

Rose considered this for a moment.

“How shall you know when to stop the blood intake? Is it instinctual or is it by approximation?”

“Personally, I was taught to judge by counting swallows.”

“And do you feel comfortable using me for your practice test?”

“Technically speaking, you would be more like the finishing exam.”

“What happens if you pass the exam?”

“Then I’ll have graduated.”

“And if you fail?”

“Then I am a disgrace to the family name and will likely have to retake the semester within prison, assuming I’ll still be alive, which i would very much like to avoid as Vriska would never let me live it down.”

“Vriska?”

“Extended family,” Porrim interjected, “Tends to get herself into trouble.”

“She has often made light of my 'pampered' upbringing and I do not think I could stand it were i to fail now. Her teasing would be endless.”

“Pampered upbringing?”

“Every mentor instructs their charges differently,” Kanaya explained, “Some have their Fledglings feed almost instantly like the Leijions, and then teach them restraint later, and some do not instruct their charges at all and expect them to be fully self sufficient such as Vriska’s Mentor Mindfang. Others, like my sister, prefer a more involved and steady but slow approach to things. She’s taught me about every aspect of my identity and I would like to think that her guidance has not been wasted. I am in fact quite grateful for the dedication she has shown me, as i feel as though i am one of the most adjusted and even tempered Fledglings in our community, sans perhaps the Nitrams, if that is not too vain a thing to say.”

“It is perfectly fine, sister,” Porrim replied fondly as she gave the younger Maryam's leg an affectionate pat, “You have done quite well so far. And we are all very proud of you.”

Kanaya's glow blinked again as small smile graced her lips, but it blinked out again when she noticed Rose's staring.

Rose studied her for a few moments, watching to see if the young vampire would fidget under her scrutiny, but Kanaya straightened slightly and held her gaze evenly.

Rose blinked and bowed her head to stare into the tea filled abyss of her cup and heard a tiny sigh of relief escape the young vampire and though she couldn't see it, she was certain that a smirk rested on Porrim's face.

The three women remained in a comfortable silence as the blonde continued to drain the cup of its contents.

When she finished, she set the cup on its saucer and placed them both neatly on the tray.

She waved away Porrim's attempt to refill it politely before sitting up; she cupped her hands on against her knee and squared her shoulders.

“I have made my decision.”

“And what would that decision be, my dear?”

“In light of the information presented to me, and by result of a great deal of curiosity stemming from it, and the looming threat of student loans should I refuse, I accept.”

“Wonderful,” Porrim replied as her grin spread ear to ear.

Kanaya's face was literally lit up in delight and her hands gripped the fabric of her skirt tightly.

“Oh thank you Miss Lalonde, you can’t know how much this means to us.”

Rose smiled, pleased with herself and with their reactions and she allowed a small hum to further illustrate her good mood.

“Well then, if that's settled, would you care to work out the contract now, or save it for later and call it a day?”

“I do detest leaving things unfinished, so I would very much like to get this out of the way sooner rather than later. And I've nothing else planned today, other than perhaps reorganizing my prized yarn collection later this evening, so now is as good of a time as any.”

“Very well. The two papers I showed you will serve as the bases for prosecution in the event the contract is broken,” Porrim stated as she passed Rose the fountain pen and the stack of parchment, “all that's left is for you to decide what exactly you expect in exchange for your services, what you are and are not comfortable with, and for the three of us to sign it. Then at your convenience, I shall demonstrate a proper bite, after which, enough time by your discretion will pass for you to recover, and then Kanaya will perform her first proper bite.”

Rose nodded and began scrawling across the paper in a small but beautifully constructed cursive script.

“Would it be in poor taste if I were to write this after a model of a last will and testament?”

“Probably,” Kanaya replied over her sister's laugh, “But I doubt anyone would mind.”

“And on the matter of payment, I doubt you feel comfortable paying me upfront in the event that I should take the money and run, and I do not feel comfortable receiving the money afterwards, in the event that I should not be alive to receive it, so how about half upfront and half upon completion?”

“That sounds quite reasonable,” Kanaya replied, casting a glance at her sister, who nodded to her, before looking back at Rose and nodding herself.

“And in terms of amount, you did imply that you would be willing to pay me rather generously... I do not want to come off as a money monger by any means, but I likely won't ever get another chance to wipe my student debt completely off the map without my mother’s help so I find myself quite inclined to do so while I have the opportunity. Is that still within the realm of acceptability? That is quite a bit of money after all. It seems rather unfair.”

“Darling,” Porrim purred, “Whatever the amount, consider it done. I would rather spend the money on furthering a young woman's education than leave it rotting worthlessly in a vault.”

At Rose's continued hesitance, Kanaya added gently, “She has had a few centuries to amass something of a family fortune, so Porrim very much means what she says.”

The blonde nodded slightly, but scribbled the figure onto the parchment in silence, clearly still uneasy with the financial blow that would be dealt to the women opposite her.

She tapped the pen against her lips for a few seconds, smudging some of her dark purple lipstick, and scribbled something else down as well and then with an afterthought, wrote another sentence and underlined it.

She then looked up and monotonously said, “In the event of my passing, I would like that money to be divided amongst my cousins and sibling. I wrote down their contact information. I also asked that my mother or her brothers to not be included in the picture, as they and I do not get along and the three of them are all too quite well off on their own to need any monetary padding, and in the event that my family refuses the money, that it go to a shelter predominantly concerned with the welfare of cats if one exists or to one concerning the welfare of homeless youth if one does not.”

Wide eyed, Kanaya leaned towards her sister and asked, “Porrim what on earth did you make this poor girl think i am to do to her?”

“It's just precautionary Kanaya,” she reassured as she patted her sister's leg, “I would think you of all people would appreciate that.”

Kanaya nodded, almost satisfied, and rested her head against the older woman's shoulder.

“Just as long as you did not make me out to be some people eating monster.”

“Don't worry,” Rose quipped, glancing up, “she sang nothing but praises for your self restraint and lack of murdering tendencies, which is coincidentally why I am still sitting on this wonderfully plush couch and not absconding for the hills at full haste to rally reinforcements henceforth.”

Kanaya's skin lit up, earning a chuckle from her mentor, and the girl scowled as she blinked it away.

“What did you mean you asked what I was or was not comfortable with?”

“Where you want to be bitten mostly.”

“Ah,” she replied eloquently, her cheeks reddening slightly; “that is something to consider.”

The younger vampire sat up; “Bite Checks are normally monitored by wrist, thigh, or throat, if that helps any.”

“Does the pain involved change depending on location?”

“If it all goes correctly, you should not feel much pain at all. Less than a shot, depending on your natural tolerance levels.”

“Is there a specific reason that the thigh is an option?”

“Easiest place to hide the scars mostly.”

“Is there one you are more comfortable with?”

Kanaya began to glow slightly once more, which Rose now took to be a sign of vampiric blushing.

“I have practised all three, although I think I would feel less nervous if we were to stick somewhere above the waistline.”

“I would highly recommend the throat for the purpose of the lesson,” Porrim added as she rearranged herself, “Is poses the least amount of ways for Kanaya to mess up, if your thigh is out of the question.”

Rose nodded and scribbled another sentence onto the page and the younger vampire's glow dimmed.

“Is there anything else?”

“That should be it.”

Rose spent a few moments more looking over her work, her inner perfectionist demanding that she scrutinize every last detail, before calling it complete.

“Very well, then I relinquish this to you, Madame Maryam, to glance over for yourself,” Rose replied as she passed the document over.

“Verbose,” she offered; she flicked her tongue against her lip ring and worried it as she read.

Kanaya glanced between them, her fingers laced, her own lips worried in anticipation while she read over her sister's shoulder.

With a hum, the elder vampire seemed satisfied and placed the document on the table before them, spinning it to face Rose properly.

Rose leaned down and carefully scrawled her name and handed the fountain pen to the youngest Maryam.

Turning the paper back, Kanaya signed her own name in an equally elegant script before relinquishing the pen to Porrim, who quickly completed the trinity.

The women waited a moment, watching the ink dry.

Wide smiles spread across the two vampires.

“Well then,” Miss Lalonde, when shall we start?”

Chapter Text

“Really Ms. Maryam, you’re indulgences, while implicitly appreciated, are hardly necessary to this nigh absurd degree.”

“They right are, though Ms. Lalonde,” Porrim insisted, as she turned slightly from her station at the stove.

“I cannot in good conscious suckle from the generousness of your person without having first taken proper care to pamper and please you a bit;” Porrim countered happily.

Rose elected not to further the suggestively colorful jibes, as her attention was still largely affixed to the bounty around her.

The air within the well-furbished kitchenette was adrift with wafts of the surplus of breakfast foods and well-plated hors d’oeuvres.

Rose looked over to see Kanaya layering a thin but tasteful spread of cream onto a lightly toasted bagel slice.

She held it out to her, a light grin across her dainty face, as if she too were amused by her sister’s enthusiasm.

Rose took the slice and started in on it, as she continued to watch Porrim hum and flutter about herself and the various clutterings about the kitchen.

“She’ll be like this all day,” Kanaya murmured; it was low and quiet, nearly against her ear.

Rose felt a rising blush tickle her throat.

“Nothing wrong with a bit of nesting,” Porrim insisted; “Fetch her some juice dear,” she instructed after-the-factly as she returned to the, what Rose guessed to be, bacon strips.

Kanaya looked at her a moment, as if to shrug off the banter, before wandering over to one of the many fridges lining the length of the extended walls past the cabinetry.

She came back with a glass and a bottle of orange-hued liquid.

“Shall I receive the customary chocolate chip cookie after the donatial affair?” Rose inquired jovially; she eyed the keenly placed serving tray of assorted muffins.  

“Of course dear;” Porrim lilted, her tone nearly musical; “There’ll be all manners of nutritional pick-me-ups and places for resting afterwards. We Maryams take great pride in ensuring the comfort of our guests.”

“With such besotted pamperings, one could nearly conflate your intentions for a luxury retreat,” Rose mused.

“We do offer complimentary services in that vein,” Kanaya replied absently; “Massages, steam rooms, mud baths; whatever strikes your fancies, if you’ll pardon the unintended pun.”

“Massages?”

“Yes, it’s good to have our donors as relaxed as possible,” Porrim chattered, “We have reading rooms, sitting rooms, rooms for ambient music directed yoga… we try to accommodate and alleviate all stressors before getting down to business, as it were.”  

“Porrim will start your tour after breakfast,” Kanaya started, selecting a muffin for herself; “It could take most of the day, covering everything, which is why we asked you here so early. Feel free to partake in anything and everything that entices you. It’s in everyone’s best interests that you feel safe, relaxed, and happy, if possible.”

“I don’t know about all that,” Rose stated, as she watched Kanaya observe the muffin, turning it slightly in her hands.

She wondered how normal food seemed, to a vampire.

Kanaya licked at the frosting, her tongue brief darting between her lips with a deft precision and quickness; Rose pictured that tongue lapping up droplets of blood welling up on a neck.

Rose watched the way Kanaya fixed her slouching posture, as she set down the snack, and returned her steady gaze to her sister.

“We will not force you to partake in any such events,” Porrim stated as she switched the stove off and turned to face her. But I do insist that afterwards, you let us monitor you, and keep you comfortable for a few hours.”

Rose nodded, sensing that it was a non-negotiable term.

She didn’t much care for the idea of coddling, but she supposed it might be more for the Maryam’s benefit than her own.

She reflected, for a moment, on how intently the pair seemed focused on providing care and dignity to their meals. She wondered if they thought themselves monsters, and pressed on with such traditions, to absolve themselves of imagined sins.

“Something on your mind?” Kanaya asked gently, beside her.

Her eyes were bright, and seemed to be more at ease with her presence than when they had first met, but her posture and alertness suggested to Rose that the girl had yet to completely fall at ease with her or herself, or the situation.

Not that she blamed her, Rose supposed.  

She was sure she was feeling a little of the same way, when her gaze slid over back to Porrim.

The gentle, easing curvature of the woman’s body, and the bright, restingly coy ply to her nurturing smile filled Rose with some sort of trepidation, as she imagined the woman coming closer, leaning in, to press her mouth nearer her neck.

“I think I’m finished with breakfast, for now,” Rose stated; she stood firm, and monitored her breathing.

She wanted to get it over with.

She wanted to prove, to herself perhaps, that none of this was as big of a deal as anyone was making it out to be.

She needed it to be not a big deal, as they all were making it out to be.

Porrim placed the final plates along the counter island, and looked at her with an absence of emotion; her gaze was cool, but not frightening. She was simply observing her, judging her continence.

“Very well, we shall adjourn to one of the parlors, if it pleases you,” Porrim stated, the declaration and question both implicit and required.

Rose nodded, and waited for Porrim to take her by the arm and lead her to the biting place; Kanaya, like a well-trained puppy, followed loyaly after, shutting doors and falling in step behind them.

“Is there a reason we’re going to any room in particular?”

“The familiarity of a specific setting will do both you and my sister good, Rose,” Porrim answered warmly.

“Fair enough,” Rose conceded.

The walk was brief, in comparison to the trek that had led Rose to the kitchen when she had first arrived.

The room was surprisingly enough to Rose, not themed with any shade of red or orange, but in gently, homey pallets of wicker spring and summer green.

It reminded Rose greatly, of the younger Maryam, and her sprawling grandiose gardens; the succulents and fern plants tucked here and there seemed to seal the deal.

Porrim ushered her into the middle of the room, -still holding her arm- next to a comfortable looking sofa that looked like it wished to be a patio embellishment when it grew up. The fibers of the thick carpet rug beneath her feet were lush, and Rose nearly felt immersed in the rooms softness.

Porrim took hold of both of her hands, and waited for Rose to finish glancing around.

Rose looked to Kanaya, who settled herself respectfully, and almost timidly, on a section of couch next to them.

Rose looked back to Porrim.

“Alright, color me curious, Ms. Maryam,” Rose started, feelings of brashness bubbling up within her chest, swelled like bravery; “How does one go about being bitten?”

Porrim smiled, a slight huff to an exhale of amused breath.

“First, dear Rose, you must relax.”

“Please don’t argue,” Kanaya pleaded gently, “We can hear your heart beating, you know.”

Rose felt certain her heart sped up at the notion rather than slow, but she steadied her breath and retained her unworried composure.

“I’m calm,” Rose insisted.

“Then allow me a moment to mellow myself, if you could?” Porrim asked, her tone so gently, her eyes so captivating, that Rose had no other thought than to simply watch her face, and observe the way she was regarding her.

Porrim kindly, started rubbing her thumbs on the backs of her hands; Rose’s breath came in little patterns of spurts for the way the woman’s beauty and proximity seemed to be all at once both new and alluring.

It felt… similar, to the times the times her sister Roxy looked at her, Rose thought; soft wonder and melted fondness.

She relaxed, and Porrim moved one of her hands to her face.

Again, Porrim rubbed her thumb along her skin, soothingly, in soft circles; prompting Rose’s mind to fill with the memories of Roxy fighting her avidly to make her become familiar with the sense of being touched and cared for.

It was a little more sensual than any of the bond-forging moments she had shared with her sister, but it felt just as quietly intimate and important.

Porrim’s thumb started to trace broader strokes, exploring the length of her cheek slightly.

Rose’s breathing started to slow; internally, she marveled at the expert maneuvering of the woman before her. Had the woman truly been a nefarious sort, Rose mused idly that she likely would have been nothing else but a goner.

Porrim's attentions turned from her face, to her hair.

The woman gently slid her hairband from its designated holding section, and pressed it into her hand; Rose’s fingers encircled it almost reflexively, as Porrim’s fingers began a slow, thorough journey traversing the expanse of her scalp.

Her fingers traveled back and forth, the nails scratching ever so slightly, and it felt ever so… good .

Right, in a way that Rose couldn't claim.

Rose struggled for a moment to regain her usual thought processes.

Porrim paused, as if sensing her changed focus.

Rose released a deep breath, and Porrim continued.

After a few moments, Rose allowed her eyes to close.

She drank in the sensations, the feelings of tingles electrifyingly dancing across her scalp, and tingling down into the base of her neck.

Porrim leaned towards her, coming to a rest near her that Rose assumed was to allow her time to get used to Porrim being in her personal space.

Porrim's scent was of some fragrance she'd never encountered, aligned with lingering traces from the things she'd created in the kitchen. 

Rose had a single thought, of that if she were to press her tongue to Porrim's skin, that she'd no idea of what Porrim's taste would be. 

Porrim came closer then, and with her height advantage, rested easily a full head and shoulders above her and thensome extra; Rose tried not to wedge her face into the woman’s bosom, and remained still as Porrim rested her chin along the side of her scalp.

Porrim’s hands petted her hair a moment, and then one drifted down to rest along her shoulder, gripping her arm ever so lightly, and the other, started trailing gently down to her neck.

Rose had chosen to wear lowcut shirt, underneath her jacket for her visit; the feeling of Porrim’s fingers brushing and kneading gently against her muscles and skin was both comforting, and oddly electric.

She was half tempted to give into her body, and moan a consenting sigh of contentment and mild arousal.

She settled for a light humm, instead; one to that Porrim quickly replied.

Porrim’s hands continued to knead her into compliance; Rose felt herself drift further and further away from thoughts of aversion or upmanship.

She was gentle, the way that Porrim’s hands took hold under her arms and pulled her closer still; their embrace now tenderly past any hint of separation, felt both too cold and far too hot.

With a little more maneuvering, Rose allowed herself to be draped properly against the slight swell just below Porrim’s shoulder.

Rose wondered briefly, if she was being ‘cradled’ and what the metaphorical implications of that might mean to either of their psychies and her heart began to race again in anticipation at the idea that Porrim was likely getting closer to her intended intentions now; throughout her body, a few of Rose's muscles began to twitch with directionless energy.

Porrim’s lips were soft, save for the cold and unyielding press of the tiny ring embedded around her skin.

Rose wondered if it was worth feininging as though her body wasn’t awash with embarrassment at her emerging physical awareness, but found herself quickly calmed once more as Porrim began nuzzling her neck.

Rose didn’t know if vampires needed to breathe, but Porrim’s steady, elongated exhales were immeasurably comforting for reasons Rose couldn’t place.

Porrim’s lips moved against her in their own rhythm, igniting levels of curiosity and excitement that soon dulled as the repetitive motions wore on, becoming comforting for their replication and permissible for their sincerity.

Rose thoughts again drifted to her sister, and to the nights spent curled against each other’s sides; much as she was loathe to picture her relation while in the arms of another woman in a decidedly intimate setting, the feeling of Roxy’s breath warming her skin was all Rose had to compare Porrim to.

She wondered, if perhaps her mother should have hugged her as a child, and weather the feelings she was currently feeling would have been more, or less, quietly explicit by their unfamiliarity as they were now.

Still, existent as the aroused awareness was, it was dull and sleepy, as if the overwhelming feeling persisting throughout her body and brain was one of contentedness and friendly apathy.

It was as Rose was adrift in her internal imaginings of such, that Porrim bit.

The instantaneous splurge of dizzying sensations spiraling through her body and brain were overwhelming even as Rose struggled to catalog every thought and furor, until the initial reaction to Porrim’s actions fizzled out entirely.

Rose let the feelings override her.  

It didn’t hurt, exactly, Rose noted; but so unused to tactile stimulation as she’d become, her body lacked a designation for what she was experiencing and so felt all the more continually to it. 

In an effort to alleviate the sudden onslaught of sensation, she called to mind images of sterile doctor’s offices and slasher needles as Porrim’s arms cradled her closer; she’d yet to remove her teeth from her neck, and had not yet swallowed any of the blood rushing to the puncture sites.

In a motion Rose didn’t have time or thought to properly analyze, she nudged her face into Porrim’s breast and willed her eyes to close tighter; the movement incited Porrim to free her teeth, and though Rose couldn’t see it, she was sure her blood no doubt swelled up to escape the tiny wounds that felt so, so, deep.

Porrim murmured to her; Rose couldn’t place the words for their language, and then the woman returned her lips to her neck.

The kiss was brief.

And then Porrim’s mouth opened.

Her teeth scraped gently against her skin as she fought to grab purchase.

Once she was securely latched, the woman began to suckle; and Rose’s vision did something funny in a way that made her wonder if she’d nearly lost consciousness, or if she’d merely succumbed temporarily to the tactile sensations beguiling her.

Porrim hummed to her, as she fed.

One swallow.

Two swallows.

Three.

By the sixth swallow Rose was so aroused, she contemplated weather it would’ve been in poor taste to make mention of it; and by the tenth, she was so utterly enamoured with the encompassing feeling of placation coursing through every fiber of her being, that she wondered what she would have turned out like, had her mother ever taken a note from Porrim’s pages, and cradled her with murmured lullabies and then thought better of it as she felt she'd amounted to anything at all, for the all-likelihood that'd she'd have spent most of her days in a hazy coma.

Rose was trembling, as Porrim opened her mouth again to release her hold; the slight sticky sound of wetness breaking its joint connection was almost too easy for Rose to miss; she shuddered, and Porrim crooned to her again before adjusting their positions.

Their faces nearly touching, Porrim coaxed her to open her eyes.

So bright, and so green; her Porrim's pupil's were nearly a sliver. 

Rose fought her body’s need to shiver.

Porrim ran a hand along her cheek and crooned to her again, in her anomalous tongue.  

Rose could feel her lips trembling, and for a moment, Rose wondered if her eyes were going to cry of their own accord as Porrim placed a steadying kiss against her temple.

Unable to decipher her instincts or impulses, Rose simply allowed herself to fall forward, and nuzzle flushly against the woman, which gave Porrim the expanse of her back to rub and knead.

Somehow, in the tangle of events, Rose had ended up squarely in Porrim’s lap, which made things all the more surreal for Rose when Porrim arched her just enough to run her tongue along her wounds.

Dizzyingly dynamic, those sensations soon too, gave way into repeated placation.

Rose wondered if this was how Freudian complexes were made.

Though her eyes were a little watery, Rose’s heartbeat began to slow again; the brunt of her reaction had been purely psychological, she noted.

A kneejerk reaction to the percival of childhood trauma at the face of ideologies she was unused to considering, she wavered.

Skin hunger, she reasoned.

Nothing more, she thought.

By the time Porrim’s tongue had tempted her contusions closed, Rose’s mind and heart were already steeled in their well worn apparel.

Still resting against Porrim as she was, she was content however, to milk the moment for what it was worth, and allow herself to be immersed in Porrim’s tenderness for a few moments longer.

“Kanaya darling, come here please,” Porrim instructed, breaking Rose from her internal monologue.

Rose tensed slightly, but Porrim’s arms remained gently insistent that she keep her place as Kanaya pressed herself against Rose’s back.  

“It’s best to get Kanaya used to your scent, love,” the older Maryam explained gently, her hands still petting, her murmurs still caressing.

Rose mentally agreed to the notion’s credibility, and tried to ignore the feeling of a second person melding flush against her own, to better drink in the physical sensations of being held in Porrim’s arms; her face seeping in Porrim’s compliant chest, the long, elegant curls of Porrim’s hair trickling over her like a mass of plush lifelines begging to be grabbed for safety, the feeling of her own skin sweating ever so slightly as it remained pressed against Porrim’s, the strange feeling of being encompassed, of connection, or frailty.

The moment was shorn short, as Porrim gently began disentangling herself.

Rose’s immediate reaction was to protest; a lament of loss so childly prudulent, that Rose stopped herself from her sheer asgaspment over it.

Standing in front of her like an impassive matron, Rose’s sense of familiarity reaffixed into place, and she felt herself automatically reeling from the idea of pressing the woman for continual contact.

The older Maryam didn't look apologetic, or tender, strengthening the visions of Lalondian matriarchs within Rose's lightly grit teeth. 

“Kanaya darling,” Porrim instructed, causing the younger girl’s grip to tighten ever so slightly around Rose’s shoulders, “The after routine, if you would?”

“Or course,” the younger sister answered diligently.

At this, Porrim seemed pleased, and she took a seat on the opposing lounge, sprawling out like some large beast well mannered from its feed.

Rose loathed how much she wanted to undress her; the slit along the woman's dress was maddening. 

Aloof, and apathetic; Rose considered weather the Maryam elder was a monster after all. 

And then, almost instantly, Rose’s fixation on Porrim was nearly forgotten when Kanaya turned her around.

The sheer look of trepidation mixed with careful hope and determination was so unhidden across the younger Maryam’s features that Rose took in a small breath.

She remained still, all ingrained predilections and associations forgot, as Kanaya offered her a shaky smile, and pressed a dampened cloth to her neck.

“Let me know if I’m pressing too hard,” Kanaya fretted, as her eyes darted to Rose’s neck and to her eyes again.

The younger Maryam’s other hand remained lightly on her shoulder.

“You’re fine,” Rose answered, a hint of instant placation to her pitch; the moment suddenly felt thin, and eeirly fragile.

“You might feel dizzy for some duration of time,” Kanaya continued absently, as she continued to blot the cloth along her flesh; “It’s also common to feel anxious, though your breathing should slow naturally in some minutes.”

“I assure you, I’m alright,” Rose insisted gently.

Kanaya's eyes focused on her for a moment, and the flicked away again, as if she'd accepted the statement somewhat tentatively. 

"After the blood properly clots," the younger Maryam offered, "We'll apply the dressings. After that, you should eat something to boost your system a bit, it'll be an hour or two before we'll be ready to let you go so, in the meantime you'll be free to enjoy anything leisurely at your fancy."

Kanaya's fingers held just enough pressure to be undenied by gesture, though Rose felt she'd be more than able to twist or turn at her liking, to prove hinderance to the girl's undertaking. 

At each press of cloth, Rose half-expected her touches to linger longer; to press harder, deeper. 

She wondered how close, the younger Maryam would be permissed to be, to better learn her scent. 

“I’ll fetch you something to drink,” Porrim declared, something quite pleased in her pitch, “I’ll be right back.”

At Porrim’s departure, Kanaya stiffened for a moment, and something like resolve settled against her face.

“...I won’t bite,” Rose mused.

Startled, or perhaps surprised, Kanaya paled a moment before grinning.

“If you did, it might even the field, as it were, so i wouldn’t hold it against you,” the younger Maryam mused.

In an action not wholly unlike the spur of the impulses she often traded with her siblings, Rose let the feeling of playfulness lead her; she leaned forward to capture Kanaya’s lower lip between her teeth, in something akin to spite and banter.

It was only when her lip-skin brushed against the fullness of Kanaya's, that Rose realised that perhaps the action was an inherent mistake.

Rose realised quite assuredly, that she didn’t want to let go. 

The feeling of being so close to the younger Maryam, was thrilling in a way Rose could hardly maintain.

Kanaya stiffened; Rose fought the longing to press her lips to the younger Maryam’s more fully, and pulled back.

She slid on a practiced smile and imagined that nothing was amiss.

“...I suppose I didn’t know what I expected,” Kanaya replied after a moment; she chuckled lightly, thereafter.

The younger Maryam smiled, and Rose felt relieved.

Kanaya also, seemed somewhat calmer than she had been, and her attentivity to her neck was almost at once more fluid and far less measured.

The air between them diminished; and Rose allowed herself to gander at their apparent proximity until Porrim returned, silver tray in tow.

They both turned to look at her, and to tray filled with brunch-y enticements and the myriad of juice boxes primed for Rose’s taking.

“I feel as though there is a metaphor to this, somewhere,” Rose mused, as she procured a muffin.

Porrim hummed again, and the woman’s glowing aura prompted Rose to wonder how she ever could have conflated her in any way with her matriarcal relation.

And as Kanaya moved closer to to properly dress the pricks in her neck, Porrim’s smile was so warm, and so rearing, that Rose wondered how Kanaya managed to stand living beside her at all.

 

 

Chapter Text

Unenthused to the offers of the many indoor retreating activities extended her, a flutter of spontaneity consumed Rose’s fascination, and she proposed a simply stroll outdoors under the afternoon sun.

“As you like,” Porrim assented, nodding; “Though I must insist someone accompany you, for your own safety.”

Rose consented the notion and offered a nod of her own; “If it pleases the jury, I shall take the fair Kanaya with me; we might as well use the time to get better acquainted.”

The older Maryam looked her over, likely gauging her steadfastness on the matter, before turning attentions to her sister to judge her similarly.

She seemed untroubled, by the proposition, which Rose supposed, she felt vaguely at ease by.

“All right,” she agreed; “I’ve some matter to attend to anyway; I’ll be inside if you need me. Simply shout, and I’ll hear you.”

Rose bit back an inquiry as to whether it was all vampires who had superhuman hearing, or just a feature crafted by those that were the maternally inclined.

“I’ll take your arm, if you like,” the younger Maryam offered; her syllables crisp and her eyes somewhat bright.

Rose allowed the younger woman her limb, and let her mind wander absently as Kanaya led her through the sprawling house and out into the warmly lit gardens.

The plants really were quite numerous; had Rose half a mind and near a day to spare, she might have considered attempting to identify a few of them, to better encapsulate the scene for some stretched use in later written words or late night regalements.

The gardener didn’t seem bothered by her lack of speech exactly, and so Rose was content to wander awhile, sharing nothing in particular in way of sound.

They ambled through different paths, ducked under overhanging vines and draping leaves, and peaked around hidden corners and fairytale nooks.

When Rose felt they must have been leasiuring for some time, they came across a fountain in disuse, which Rose was quick to make a seat of.

The young Maryam perched herself daintily beside her.

“There’s been questions on your tongue, Miss Lalonde,” Kanaya ventured, “-If I may be so bold to suggest.”

Rose fought a reflexive smirk, and considered the way the sunlight felt against her shoulders.

“It must have taken some time, to grow a garden to such proportions,” she offered at length.

Kanaya seemed to somber, slightly, but looked to be on the whole, unshaken.

-An expected line of reason, perhaps, Rose guessed.

“I am myself, a few centuries now,” the younger Maryam admitted, “And Porrim is that and several centuries older.”

“Oh?” Rose pressed, with a hint of morbid fascination drying her lips.

Kanaya hummed, eyes closed, as if in deep thought for a moment; she seemed to recall her memory however, as she soon smiled.

“I was from a tiny village, some lifetimes ago,” Kanaya began; “I’ve no idea what country or province, if such things were cataloged back then. But I was something of a local scandal. I don’t remember my parents, or what became of them, but I do recall being somewhere around ten summers and shepherding the village youth as their guardians milled around their daily chores. I think I was a seamstress then, yes,” Kanaya mused, visibly lost in her memory of the past, “I clung to a local woman, an outcast with skills far too valuable for the village to run her off. A midwife, who dabbled in witcheries.”

Rose watched the muscles on Kanaya’s face shift, ever so slightly; as if her body was remembering what it meant to be human.

“She taught me how to grow my own food, how to sew my own clothes,” she rattled, “how to tend to the sick and how best to mind those younger than myself. She took me in, out of a mercy she needn’t have given. And in time, I grew enamored of her ways I shouldn’t have been.”

Rose made a physical effort, to keep her expression barren.

Kanaya turned her head, giving up the sight of the faintly clouded blue sky, for her violet-hued eyes; she smiled.

Rose made a mental note of how even she wanted her breathing to be.

“It wasn’t… uncommon, exactly, for love to happen in different forms back then. Quite the opposite really;” the young Maryam explained; “But I was hardly more than a child and Porrim protested, claiming there were numerous other slights in our village’s eyes to risk such a thing.”

“Her vampiredom,” Rose followed.

Kanaya nodded.

“Back then, the… supernatural society, as you might think of it, did not exist. There weren’t really any laws for us to live by. It was just a vast, unknowable world filled with insurmountable horrors, and Porrim had not yet cultivated the Maryam standards that we have today.”

“She killed people,” Rose ventured.

“Not initially,” Kanaya replied, shaking her head, “But there was little in the understanding of medicine as there is now; Porrim was largey valued for what medicinal knowledge she held, though much of it has been changed or outright left behind, as times changed. You may have noticed that there are times when our eyes might look irrevocably blank;” Kanaya stated for emphasis, “That would be the lingering effect of the belladonna craze, back in the day. Everyone was using it for eyedrops and the like.”

“Oh?” Rose asked, surprised.

Kanaya hummed; “Yes, originally it was used by a few ‘optometrists’ of the time as it were, but it soon became a fad for girls to dilate their eyes with it. Porrim and I had been toying around with it to test some… vampiric effects, more or less. Though, even with our regenerative capabilities, the poison was longstanding enough to leave some toll.”

“And the villagers were upset for being blinded?” Rose guessed.

“Oh? Oh no, that was a different decade entirely, sorry,” Kanaya fretted, visibly setting herself back on track; “Though not fatal, her bites would often lead to the villagers dying of say, heatstroke or infection, as some of them would not heed her instructions and then the others would fault her for it.”

“I imagine that would have made it difficult to stay in one place for too long,” Rose proposed.

Kanaya winced slightly, and made an unintended sort of shrug, with one of her shoulders as she thought the statement over.

“Porrim had… some understanding with the villagers,” she explained carefully, clearly deep in her memory; “They knew of her condition, and they needed her skills enough that they considered it an even trade, at first.”

“At first,” Rose repeated.

Kanaya hummed, still recalling.

“As I mentioned, I was greatly fond of her,” Kanaya explained; “I could not think of a life without her, and I could not bear to think of her living an eternity largely on her own. I knew she’d never change me at my request, but I had hoped to warm her up to the idea over some time.”

Kanaya worried her lip a moment, which Rose noted.

“I offered myself, as a vassal to her hunger. Insisted, really; I didn’t exactly leave her much room for a choice,” Kanaya admitted; her head turned to the ground, and Rose watched the emotion play at the sides of Kanaya’s eyes.

Unsure of the change in the moment’s tone, Rose wondered if she should extend a hand to Kanaya’s shoulder, or else let the girl drift in memory and see what else she could recount.

“...Was it a painful time?” Rose finally asked, quietly.

Kanaya huffed a breath of amusement.  

“It was amazing,” she murmured; “It was as if every day were a dream. Porrim’s affection was everything I’d ever longed for, and even now, though her love has never diminished, the suggestions of it then were something I’ll always hold dear.”

“...So,” Rose ventured gently, “you two were…”

Kanaya huffed again.

“Yes, we were together,” she answered; Kanaya looked up to face her once more. Her eyes bright, her smile peaceful.

Beautiful, Rose thought.

“As she’d taught me everything about living, Porrim taught me all she knew of loving,” the younger Maryam offered, her tone nearly coy; “I suppose such things sound hideous in times as these but, it was a wilder land, back then.”

“I assure you, that in the times of these,” Rose pressed carefully, “it is perfectly deemable for one woman to find love and completion in the arms of another such as herself.”

Kanaya hummed.

“But it bothers you, something of it,” Kanaya countered, her eyes glinting as sharply as her teeth.

Rose thought again of her breathing, worried her own lip, and sighed in acquiescence.

“It is difficult, perhaps,” she admitted, “Thinking on Porrim as something of your sister and a mother, while also once being something of your lover.”   

“She was a mentor first,” Kanaya explained; “We grew into lovers, and remained such, until I was turned.”

At her mirthful-dropped tone, Rose tilted her head.

“While they had been content to leave the bargains as they were, a hard summer gave way to a stilted crop, and Porrim was given the blame,” Kanaya offered quietly; the memory evident for its traces of lingering pain.

“They were not about to let her ‘infect the youth’, as it were, and elected to bleed the life out of me;” the admission was quite, and Rose found herself leaning closer, and glancing over Kanaya’s body in her peripherals, as if she’d be able to see the centuries-long damages she’d once acquired.

“Porrim was unwilling to lose me, and, in a fit of desperation, turned me before the last breath of life left me entirely; unconscious as I was, there was no time for talks of consent, which is a guilt Porrim still harbors against herself, though I’ve assured her many, many times, that it was more or less always going to have ended up this way for us.”

“Is that what sparked all the… traditions? Of the Maryam clan?”

Kanaya’s posture seemed inclined to agree.

“Probably; it was after I woke up to forever, that she began ‘mothering’ me, as it were. Feeding me every scrap of affection and support as she could, to make up for the horrors done to me, and the terrors I was to face.”   

“Terrors?” Rose asked.

Kanaya smiled grimly and shook her head once.

“There’s little reason to recount them all now, but; the transformation from living to unliving, is not a series of pleasant event, and the world is not always a pleasant place.”

“My condolences,” Rose offered.

Kanaya seemed soothed for them, and continued.

“We fled of course; never staying in one place for too long after that. What stability Porrim had been able to erect before meeting me, was dashed with the addition of myself; a growing fledgling is not an easy thing to nourish or protect,” Kanaya explained; “Still, there were a lot of good times between us, and there were interesting people that we met.”  

“You must have seen a lot of the world, up close,” Rose agreed, a hint of her inner wanderlust shining through.

Kanaya hummed pleasantly.

“The world, yes,” she agreed; “Porrim was very good about having us avoid most of history, however.”

Rose’s confusion tilted her chin.

Kanaya’s eyes glittered mirthfully; “We once lived in the heart of the Roman empire, and missed the death of Caesar completely because Porrim and I were busy collecting our dues from a silk trader two streets over. It was, just all chaos, all of a sudden. Porrim grabbed my arm and rushed us so hurriedly out of the city that I hadn’t time to pack my things, and it was only by the word of a goatsmen two towns over, that we learned of what had taken place.”

Rose smiled, unintentionally, and thought it well enough to leave it there.

“For the most part, our lives were lived in anonymity; Porrim strived to improve the lives of women wherever we went as she could, and I spent a great deal of time marveling at the many facets of humankind. There were a few fanciful things; ballrooms and grand inventions, last stands and close calls and the like,” Kanaya murmured, “I fell in love once, with a scallywag who set fire to a rival noblemen’s house. A guttersiren of a girl that I met, while Porrim was vying for her mother; a usual enough sort of thing.”

“...You’ll have to regale me those lurid accounts, sometime,” Rose mused.

Kanaya chuckled lightly.

“In truth it was, more tragic perhaps, than exciting. Life often was, back then,” Kanaya claimed.

Rose allowed herself a deep breath, to let the moment drain of ancient tension.

“And what of your life, now?” Rose asked, when the silence seemed too overlooming to spare.

The younger Maryam sighed a deep breath, full of emotion Rose didn’t have time to detangle; her body lit up, in a faint luminous glow.

“Things are so much grander, than they used to be. Builders are taller, cars that can hover; technology has progressed more in the past few decades than in most of the centuries I’ve born witness to;” she chattered, “Porrim has a harder time keeping up with it, I think, but I’ve always felt keen to it. Progression, I mean. It feels as though my path in life is to weave together the accounts I’ve seen, to better preserve what’s come before, to help make the way for what will inevitably be.”  

“A historian,” Rose clarified.

“A seamstress,” Kanaya replied, her tone in align; “Computers were based off of stitches, you know.”

“I’ve dabbled some in knitting,” Rose offered, not quite defensively.

Kanaya smiled; a briefly, but soft little expression.

“Tell me something now, Miss Lalonde,” Kanaya began, as she hoisted her posture slightly.

“The best performances are always in G Major, depending on the instrument,” Rose answered playfully; a slight curl to her lips.

Kanaya gave her a look, which broadened Rose’s smile.

“You mentioned having family yourself, before,” Kanaya questioned gently; “What of them?”

“What do you mean, exactly?” Rose replied, already thinking.

“Are any of you close? Porrim mentioned there was a boy who looks like you, in your drinking place often,” Kanaya rambled innocuously.

“That would be Dave, my brother,” she clarified, his memory burning forefront; “He’s something of a scoundrel, but he’s a good boy with a good heart, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything but two corn chips, as he wouldn’t trade me for anything but one.”

Her tone carried her amusement, which made the younger Maryam smile, even if her lack of clarification left some confusion in the woman’s lips.

“I’ve also a cousin, who’s my brother’s keeper. His name is Dirk. He likes puppets and horses and he always smells like ass,” Rose continued, “We love him very much, even when his electronical doppleganger is being an egotistical fuckbutt.”

Kanaya’s brows raised slightly.

“And then there’s my sister, Roxy. She’s technically my cousin, sort of. It’s actually a long story and there might have been some cloning involved somewhere that nobody’s admitting to,” Rose panned, “But regardless, Roxy and I have always been fairly close since our meeting and I daresay that she is the closest friend I have. We go to the same campus, but she’s a few years ahead of me.”

“I would say that I find half of those things you just said to be absolute hogwash, but as I’ve led an ultimately unconventional life thusfar, I’m inclined to let you have it with the understanding that truth is oft stranger than fiction,” Kanaya replied, waving a hand dismissively.

Rose chuckled; the sunlight was doing all manners of unaccountable things to her body and she felt free enough to pin her mood on the lightheadedness from the blood loss.   

Rose smiled.

Genuinely.

It felt… the place to do so, she supposed.

“...Have you any thought,” Kanaya asked gently, “As to if you’ll be coming back?”

Rose cocked her head along her shoulder, to look Kanaya over.

It was difficult, to imagine the girl centuries old, with other girls about her teeth.

The mental image, of Kanaya’s lips mouthing her flesh as teeth scraped skin, came unbidden to Rose’s mind; she felt almost compelled to push herself into the younger Maryam’s arms, to better imagine what her senses would make of her.

Rose allowed her eyes to close and tilted her head to face the sky.

The rays of the sun felt warm; stung her face, ever so minutely, for keeping in place to it.

She imagined Kanaya, taking a long, hard look at the swell of her neck, naked and pulsing.

She took a deep breath, and thought over her encounter with Porrim.

The woman had been nothing but affectionate and giving.  

She’d been offered nothing but respect, and concern, since stepping foot in the household of daywalking vampires.

If vampires even, she could call them.

How steadfast, she wondered, did a person have to be, to remain at their side for centuries?

How dedicated, their energy, to cultivate a love over a series of lifetimes?

How greatly, did the woman riddled with twisting tattoos trust her, to test her with her apparently single most cherished creation?

The scars along Porrim’s throat attested that she would not be Kanaya’s truest first, at much of anything.

How was she to feel, armed with the knowledge that she was little more than a talking juicebox in comparison to the companion that Kanaya had grown under all her elongated life?

Rose felt as though she had a series of emotions inside of herself; a set that she didn’t feel well equipped to isolate from herself.

Still; she was not what she considered to be a quitter by any means, and felt herself unable to stop the courses of events she’d laid into place.

“I wouldn’t leave you wanting, dear Maryam,” she replied at length, with her tone leaving no room to doubt the confidence she held in the matter.

Kanaya seemed to deflate with something like gratitude and relief washing over her face; it made Rose feel a little more powerful.

“Well,” Kanaya stated, rising to her feet; she smoothed a few imaginary wrinkles from her dress and and offered out her hand before continuing, “Shall we return? I’m sure Porrim will be wondering what I’ve done with you, at this rate.”

“Anything licentious, I would hope,” Rose teased, as she took Kanaya’s hand.

Kanaya huffed; “Feel free to add it to your contract, Miss Lalonde, now come, before I change my mind and have-a-way with you.”   

“As you like,” Rose assented, the air of mischievousness still about her lips.

Chapter Text

Rose allowed the slightly-too-firm-for-comfort mattress attempt to swallow her whole and contemplated briefly if she wanted to simply close her eyes, or else stare into the madness that was the moderately-tolerable popcorned ceiling.

She stared into the miniature rises and depths of light and shadow and was startled by a burst of electrical sound vibrating near her pocket.

Her hand scrounged around the loose fabric of her bedsheets to find the tumbled phone buzzing near her hip, and squinted with the flash of bright screen hurt her eyes.

A low power warning, she noted.

Rose begrudgingly rolled over to locate the powercord for her mobile device, acceptant of her responsibility to save her property from starvation.

After fumbling a moment to properly insert the metal nib, her screen flashed once more, displaying several notifications from her sister.

‘Damnit ,’ Rose thought.

  


TG: rose how’d everything go?

TG: rose how’d everything go?

TG: are you still there?

TG: if ur still there u dont need ur hands u know lt

TG: like bottoms up ;33c

TG: *wonkies

TG: seriously tho when u get a reprieve from sapphoing two hotties in their hometurf give your poor deprived sis a call

TG: just in case, ya know

TG: they really did try to murder you or whatever

TG: you really need to start tellnig me whats been going on with them btw

TG: telling*

 

A sharp breath loosed itself from her nose as Rose thought, and eventually settled on the notion that if she weren’t to update her sister on her whereabouts, that she was likely to come looking after her.

 

The thought of Roxy’s bright warmth, filling the small, suddenly coldly empty room left an impression inside her mind’s eye.  

 

TT: bby come over

TT: my parents arent home

 

She rolled back over and threw her arm over her eyes.

A moment later, her phone buzzed.

Rose moved her arm just enough to make out Roxy’s reply.

 

TG: im on my way

TG: be there in twenty

 

A soft smile ghosted her lips for a moment, at Roxy’s answer to arms.

Exhaustion of a funny sort, fell over Rose’s limbs and heart and mind; she noted the way her muscles tried to sink past the mattress and into an astral plane before twitching ever so slightly some minutes later, reawakened in the places they were supposed to stay in.

Rose let herself drift, neither lucid nor dreaming, until her sister came barreling through the door.

Though her arm still covered her eyes, Rose was aware enough by the sounds of things, to make out the way Roxy indifferently tossed out her roommate, seemingly by startling force.

She smiled as the streamlines of curses got cut off by the door’s sudden slamming.

Her smile faded as she listened to Roxy set something plasticy and thuddy onto what she proposed was her endtable, and then climb her way onto the edge of her bed.

She offered her sister no movement nor response; she felt too tired to chalk her behavior up to anything but childish predispositions.

“That bad, huh?” Roxy asked, as she settled herself beside her.

Rose felt the weight of the bed dip under Roxy’s weight and pull the fabrics taught around her hand, where she was seemingly positioning her point of balance.

Roxy shifted, and Rose allowed herself to remain still as her arm was lifted off of her face; her eyes readjusted to see a caring, if somewhat pitiable smile, a smear of black lips, and two familiarly vibrant pink eyes.

Rose’s lips stretched of their own accord, and Roxy’s face was quick to return her smile by broadening her own.

“Hey you,” Roxy offered, an air of diversional playfulness in her tone.

At Rose’s lack of immediate response, Roxy tilted her head and tucked a lock of hair behind her ears that just wouldn’t stick.

“What’s up?” she asked, a little unsure of herself, if her pronunciation was anything for Rose to go by.

“So,” Rose offered, composing herself.

“So,” Roxy agreed, sitting back.

“I went to their house, the first time,” she began.

“Yeah, and?”

“And…” Rose stalled, as she thought of how best to phrase things, “the lady from the coffee shop laid out her proposition, more-or-less. We drafted a contract which I signed, and I left.”

“Contract?” Roxy asked, her face both confused, and mildly suspicious.

“For… use of my services,” Rose stated evenly.

“So like, your body then?” Roxy pressed, as she glanced her over; “Did they get you into porn or something?”

“...There weren't any cameras,” Rose offered, feeling as though Roxy’s conclusion was the best of any she could craft.

“Alright, so it was just homebrew stuff then,” Roxy stated, as she visibly tried to string up the pieces and read between the lines Rose wasn’t intent on whispering.

“Today was the… trial run. I learned some things. Had a time,” Rose continued, aware that she was being every inch obtuse as she could be, and also rational enough to know that she was too much at the mercy of her old habits to stop herself.

“So what did they do to you? Your back ain’t broke at least, probably I mean, since you’re lying on it,” Roxy mused, tilting her head opsed itself.

Rose smirked.

“Oh, they were quite generous to me, sister dearest,” Rose nearly hummed; “safety was of their first concern.”

“So you’re upset they didn’t ram anything anywhere, or somesuch?” Roxy ventured.

“Perhaps,” Rose admitted; she sighed and sat up enough to lean her weight on her shoulders, to better look at her relation, “Truth be told, I’m not sure quite why I feel the way I do, or to what extension of which chemical compositions to which I am fluctuating from.”

“Well you pulled the ‘my mom isn't home card’,” Roxy addressed, as she repositioned herself on top of her crossed legs; “So you’re either heartbroken, or heart-smokin’, and knowin’ you, it’s ‘prolly a little bit of both.”

“Maybe I just missed your comely face,” Rose proposed facetiously, her tone wrought with overdramatized whimsy.

Roxy looked as though the notion concerned her, but her aura was still warm and mostly compliant; she tried to tuck away the errant golden lock once more and wetted her lips.

“...It can be… overwhelming,” Roxy murmured, tentatively; “Being with someone, I mean. The… closeness, for sure, but the. Um, well the actual reality of it I mean. It’s a lot of physical stimulus all at once, for like, lots way longer than what you might think. I mean, it's a short time usually, in like actual time of course, but in the actual moments, it’s like, really just, constant and all.”

“It’s just in: Roxanne doth fuck,” Rose tossed, in reflexive dismissal; she let her breath collapse most of her chest, and took a few moments before drawing any new brath in.

"Whatever, Rosebeth," Roxy jibed, smacking Rose with a pillow; "You could just thank me ya' know, for tryin'a be a good influence an' all." 

Rose bit her lip, and Roxy quieted, sensing troubled territory; Rose knew she had a habit of... implying too many things without stating them, a trait Roxy knew well. 

She just, didn't like feeling so obvious and unguarded, she supposed. 

Still, her sister's words reminded her that Roxy had made the journey to her side, at the first call of action, ready to shoot the shit and presumably get their existential sleuthing on.  

“We… didn’t fuck,” Rose tried to state, though it came out a little more untreated than she would have liked, regardless of her honest intentions.

“That can be weird too,” Roxy followed, nodding, “‘Specially if you know you both really kinda want to.”

“I was in her arms, and I kept thinking about our mother,” Rose continued, having chosen to push herself into a sitting position; “It was frightfully organic.”

“I mean, we’ve both always known our family’s got momma issues up the metaphorical zilly-wahzoo,” Roxy jested.

“You know, I can’t ever remember her hugging me?” Rose mused, her smile bittersweet.

“I wish my mom had stayed around long enough to hug me, before she died,” Roxy lamented herself, her expression equally whistful; “Not that I'm not, mega grateful for your mom and all, or that I wanna step on your pity-toes or whatever. ‘Jus sayin’ it was nice of her, is all.”

Rose nodded; feeling a little more disgusted with herself for her hangups with her mother, at the reminder of Roxy’s ever overshadowing afflictions.

“I’ve often shuddered to think, what life would have been like for all of us, had Mom not taken you in,” Rose admitted, not for the time.

“Same,” Roxy agreed flatly; "I kinda wish we'd gotten hold of the boys quicker though."

"Perhaps it was better Bro had them for a bit, awful as that sounds," Rose wondered, thinking back; "Gave us time to sort ourselves out first."

"Yeah, I guess," Roxy agreed vaguely, likely lost in her memories; "Still feel bad for them though. Feels like I'm the one who lucked out on the whole re-homing deal," she lilted, giving her an infectious grin.

“Favorite cousin-sister?” Rose asked, smiling.

“Favorite sister-cousin,” Roxy agreed, her eyes gleaming. 

Rose couldn't help but lean forward.

Roxy’s hug was almost an instantaneous balm against her troubled mind and secluded soul; Rose returned it with as much fervor as she could muster, and was content enough to leave herself in her sister’s embrace.

At the warmth of Roxy’s body, the feelings of joy began to tingle inside of Rose’s skin; she felt herself start to shake, and quiver.

“Rose?” 

She felt herself brake apart, even as she was powerless to stop the cracks from fissuring.

“Shit, are you crying?”

Time seemed to spill into limbic space; Rose just couldn't keep track of it through her tears, and half-choked sobs. 

The fabric around Roxy’s chest grew wet and scraped uncomfortably around her eyes. 

“It’s okay, I got you,” Roxy soothed; she re-wrapped her arms around her, and allowed Rose to sink closer against her chest.

Rose found that it was terribly hard, to breathe. 

“Good thing I brought ice cream,” Roxy mused, earning a huff of Rose’s bitter-amusement.

“It’s ok Rosey, you can let it all out,” Roxy then offered fondly; her hands rubbed and patted her back, and Rose felt grateful for the contact.

For awhile, it was just salinity tinted fluid, soaking into her sister's shirt, and a struggle to calm her own chest enough to let her internal organs do their jobs. 

“I’m guessing, kinky private bondage stuff or whatever it is your signed on for, isn’t your thing,” Roxy aired at length, her pitch and attentions an apparent effort to help lighten the mood.

Rose stopped her hiccuping breath from hissing and dug her fingers into Roxy’s shirt.

"It's okay to not be as fucked up as you want people to think you are, ya' know," Roxy insisted; "Dirk still broods enough for the lot of us," she teased. 

It took several attempts to speak, for the shuddering of her lungs. 

“I liked it,” Rose finally murmured, not caring if it was loud enough for her sister to hear.

“Awakenings are rude,” Roxy replied, leniently.

Rose swallowed her agreement and tried not to rub her snotted nose against her knuckles.

Roxy’s arms pulled her tighter.

“Her sister’s a goddess,” Rose seethed; her admission startled Roxy, if her stomach’s twitches were anything to judge by.

“How am I supposed to live up to a deity still every ounce in her own element?” she continued.

Roxy was silent, likely intending for Rose to vent; an opportunity which Rose found herself unable to refute, now that her voice had seemingly returned to her, as wavering and horse as it was.

“Especially when her sister is all she’s ever known,” Rose groaned, pulling away from Roxy’s abdomen to huff her ire at the wall; “How am I to imprint any lasting image when I’m merely an implement of her sister’s service? I can’t wedge myself between a lifetime’s worth of solidarity and expect to amount to anything more than a quaint diversion of circumstance. Furthermore, I cannot lure either Maryam from the other’s coattails for fear that I would devastate the remainder and yet I feel trapped in my own fallibility for today I found I could not form any other possibility of future but to succumb to such imagined trespassings. -They had me eating out of the palms of their very hands and dripped sweet saccharine sentiments over my skin until they were certain of my wrapped staus around their slender fingers, and either they test me of my professionalism by insulting my predelictions, or else they are completely unaware of their effects on my person, and I am solely to blame for my baser instincts. What kind of monster allows herself to be spirited away to a world of such unserendipitous fortunes Roxy, and still pyrichly attempts the climb?”

“First off, like, they invited you for their deal-io so, that’s on them,” Roxy firmly declared, petting her hair; “Secondly, the deal you made with them for your body? Maybe they just thought you'd look pretty inbetween them. I mean, that woman picked you right? Out of everyone else in that place; so maybe she wanted you specifically ‘cause you’re different from her and her sister. Maybe they think of it all in a 'it's not gay if it's in a three-way', 'cept with whatever bloodpact they got goin' on. They're just sisters, Rosey; I don’t think you have to outdo either of them. Like, I know this is hard for you to conceptualize but, you can probably relax around them if you want to? They probably just want to have fun and didn't want to fight and 'prolly hoping to share you.”

"...You have a very optimistically tinted opinion of me, don't you?" Rose mused. 

"Something something 'Rosey colored glasses'," Roxy teased, chuckling briefly; "But I mean, you're my sis and I love you and I know for a fact you're totes a catch; two arms and all for all the lady holding."

“A heart-warming sentiment that would normally hit the mark but, even with that in mind, what I said still stands,” Rose reaffirmed thanklessly.

“You aren't exactly giving me a lot of details to work with, Rosey,” Roxy replied, a hint of indignation in her pitch; "You've told me that you're selling your body and the girls you're doing it for you're kinda into, and they might be into you too. And something happened and now you're really upset about it," she listed. 

"...I would tell you, if I could," Rose promised hollowly, knowing from her expression that Roxy didn't half believe her. 

"You can just say they got you on a hush payment," Roxy murmured. 

Rose allowed herself a few, prolonged breaths to worry her lip, and looked back to her sister.

“...Roxy,” Rose began quietly.

“I’m listening,” Roxy reassured, offering an expression Rose was sure she meant to be endearing.

“Would you spend forever, truely, forever,” Rose emphasized, her face grim, “Looking after the person most precious to you, then offer her a plaything with any real expectation of anything consumate cultivating from the officially-professional offered condition?”

“Uh, no?” Roxy replied unevenly, her posture a little reflectively awkward. 

Rose nodded, feeling as though the argument was settled.

“My feelings are irrelevant to the matter at hand,” Rose stated, as she stared at the bubbled paint across the wall, “I am only to serve as a platform for which Kanaya is to officially practice her expected craft. Any notions of… emotional response on my end is purely an issue of my own unreasonable bias and assumption.”

"So you're breaking the little sister into the porn industry," Roxy affirmed. 

“For what it’s worth,” Rose continued, wistfulness tinting her mind’s eye and resultingly, her voice, “I never thought my reactions to the… practice would be so visceral. I’m allowing myself a moment of folly tonight, to surpass such issues, for the next time I hold up my end of the bargain.”

“Rose,” Roxy stated flatly, her tone leaving no room for voiced opposing opinions; “You’re allowed to have feelings. No matter what you’ve agreed to, or what’s going on," she insisted, "...You don’t have to tell me what any of the specifics are, but, whatever happens, just know that I have you’re back and I’ll help you smooth things over, with whatever you need help smoothing.”

Rose looked at her sister, whose face was saturated in sincerity and steadfastness, and felt her body pitch forward.

They topped over, with Rose landing partially on Roxy’s chest; her sister let out an audible ‘oof’, before chuckling, and then gripped her harder.

“We should prolly do something ‘bout the icecream before it melts,” Roxy warned, though nothing about her body indicated she had any intentions of moving.

“I like it soupy,” Rose replied, equally as content, to lay with her awhile.

The comfort and structure of Roxy's body under and around her own echoed faintly to Rose, the sensations of Porrim's earlier embrace, she noted; but in such a way, that Rose found herself lulled for the simplicity of it. 

She knew where she was laying with her own sister, at least, she mused. 

Rose's phone vibrated again, accompanied by a tiny electronic, 'ping'.

Being closer, Roxy plucked it up from the sheets on reflex, and the tiny screen cast a blue-white glow over the middle of her face. 

"Omg."

"Is Dave on fire?" Rose guessed absently. 

"You're bank just messaged you," Roxy answered. 

Rose lifted her head and craned her neck to get a better look as Roxy unlocked her phone and logged into her accounts. 

"Rose, you've got forty grand from an unsourced account."

Rose didn't know whether she wanted to smile or to cry again; tired and dehydrated as she already was, and as stingy as her eyes still felt, Rose opted to bury her face into Roxy's neck. 

"...Damn," Roxy murmured, as she investigated further.

"Hey Rosey, are those sisters hiring for one more?" Roxy mused. 

Rose chuckled once and shoved her tongue into Roxy's ear, her heart lightening as her sister buckled instantly, and shrieked.  

Chapter Text

If the Maryams had been a dispersion of vampiric myths and stereotypes, the sights flooding her senses now were nothing short of Hollywood fodder.

When Porrim had greeted her at the door, it had been with genuine relish, and Rose could not dignify crushing her spirits for a few toitey onlookers that she cared nor knew nothing about.

There were a great many people milling about the grand ballroom; none of which Rose felt the naivety to label ‘human’.

There were a couple generational stages of guests; some that seemed like Porrim, older and quietly matured. Some seemed more like the younger Maryam; youthful in face and approximate age.

Though ages seemed irrelevant, the greatest distinction seemed to be of parent and child as each guest seemed to be dressed in gilded finery, bearing a hue as a shorthanded crest; it made Rose grateful that the Maryams had sent her a gown of her own to sport. The letter pinned to it had done little to prepare her for the sensations of it all; she wondered if perhaps it had been something of a surprise, even to her hosts.

The guests seemed to eye her.

She didn’t care that the other guests were staring at her; but she was however, growing bored with simply watching them back.

She thought briefly to text her sister, before thinking better of it; she slid her phone back into her pocket.

Plied by needs to be curious and polite, Rose approached a daring woman in a coat of black that sported highlights of a deep blue, but quickly halted in her tracks when she found herself thronged by a pack of likely-faux-teenagers.

The ringleader, a girl who Rose could only catalogue as ‘craggy’ for her missing eye and prosthetic arm, chuckled at her.

“Nice to see Fussyfangs is finally putting on her big-girl britches,” the one-eyed girl mused.

“Pleasure to make your acquaintance, miss?”    

“Vriska,” a girl beside her barked; “She’s Serket’s youngest.”

“Ahh,” Rose exhaled, as Porrim’s designation of ‘troublemaker’ flittered across her mind.

“So you’ve heard of me then,” Vriska boasted, her posture swelling; “Yeah, me and Kanny do go way back.”

“I’m sorry to say that I’ve heard little, about any of you,” Rose admitted; “My name is Rose, in case the Maryams spoke as little to you of me.”

“I’m Terezi,” the second girl stated factually; dressed in a teal suit, she sported a dragon-tipped cane and framed lenses. She adjusted the red-lensed glasses on her nose before grinning widely, displaying a series of incredibly sharp looking teeth that spanned across the whole of her mouth. “I’m of clan Pyrope, and Redglare and I were delighted by your papers.”

“Yes,” Rose replied, nodding; “Redglare is something Porrim mentioned.”

Terezi smiled again, proudly, which seemed to sour Vriska’s face.

“If um, you want to know, I’m Tavros of clan Nitram,” a quiet boy in brown broached.

“Shut up Tav,” Vriska barked, “No one cares.”

“Right, sorry,” he offered apologetically.

Vriska sighed, though Rose wasn’t sure if the girl was actually dispelling air.

“Anyway, you don’t need to know anything about anybody,” Vriska stated, stepping forward; the aura around the girl drew stronger, and for the first time, Rose was able to see why people often spoken of ‘tasting danger’.

“Just be a good little blood bag. -Or don’t,” Vriska quipped, her smile revealing two elongated teeth, not in the quiet same spots as where Rose felt those teeth ought to be.  

“It’s not like you’d get out of here alive,” the girl stated airily.

“Play nice, whelp;” a deep voice interjected, as behind the gaggle approached a sturdy-looking man in a blue-cast set of dress-armour, flanked by a younger, equally physically imposing young man.

“Shove off, horse-face,” Vriska quipped, though her posture immediately hunched on itself; Rose watched the girl cast her eye to the woman in the black and blue coat, who returned Vriska’s glare with a stern expression of her own.

Dejected, Vriska huffed and drug the teal-suited girl with her.

Rose wandered deeper into the crowd.

She paused to briefly watch a pair of guests argue intently; a violet dressed boy speaking hurriedly to a girl that looked as if she’d just stepped off of a beach somewhere.

She observed an older seeming boy, in violet pants, scoffing in her general direction; a man beside him in a great dark violet cape, sported a wealth of gold and jewels across his person.

The way the younger man looked at her, scouring her body up and down behind a smirk and spoiled something within Rose’s demeanor.

Not wanting to entice him into conversation with her, Rose drifted again, and wandered close to some odd fellows in mustard-colored attire.

They didn’t particularly catch her fancy and so Rose wandered on.

A pull at her arm, stopped her.

Rose turned to see a woman before her, dressed in a deep olive dyed coat sporting a myriad of furs.

Something about the woman seemed playful, yet outlandishly prideful.

“Evening,” Rose murmured, wishing she had a goblet of her own to bust her hands with.

“Pretty rabbit,” the woman lilted, running a claw-tipped hand down her cheek; “An excellent choice of prey,” she purred; “A pity, dear Rosa is not here.”

Rose would have been enchanted, had she not felt so slighted.

She was more than a piece of meat; no matter how delectable she’d contracted herself to seem.

With that in mind, Rose felt her body lighten.

“Do you know, little rabbit? How deep in a lion’s den, you are?”

“I am very aware, yes, that I’m walking within a room of hungry vampires,” Rose stated patiently.

The woman laughed.

“Signless is not here, little morsel. As there are others, who should be here,” she spoke, oddly mournful and hollow; “But look, look at little Kanaya, fighting to remember us her past grace-”

The woman grabbed her arm again, and turned her with so little effort that Rose wondered if her body was little more than a doll in her hands; her eyes watered, as she drank in sight of the younger Maryam for the first time that evening.

She was shimmering with a faint glow, her gown radiant, her hair soft.

She looked so thoroughly in her element, and yet, there was a faint frustration about her, that Rose couldn’t place.

“See how she seethes, little meal?” the woman holding her mused.

The woman laughed again, until another figure imposed on them.

“Ahh, hello kitten,” the woman greeted, the younger figure revealing themself adorned similarly in furs of olive green.

“Ampora said to me to say to you he called for you,” the girl relayed.

The woman nodded and left without fanfare, leaving only the younger clanmate.

“I’m Nepeta,” the girl offered.

“Rose,” she returned, pleasantly.

“Um, for what it’s worth, this is a good thing you’re doing, for her. For Kanaya,” Nepeta rambled; “We’re not really supposed to tell you about anything, but, just know that this means a lot for her, okay?”

Rose nodded somberly, letting the importance of nepeta’s words shine reflected.

More at ease, Nepeta smiled.

“Well, I gotta go find Equius, lest he accidentally break all of Porrim’s purr-etty things,” she quipped, before bounding off.   

Rose let her attention drift towards the younger Maryam, scanning the crows again, until her eyes settled on her once more.      

Kanaya, caught in conversations at every step, frequently caught her eye across the ballroom. Rose flashed her a smile, and waited only a moment, for the young Maryam to attempt to breach the masses towards her, before she was once again halted by another guest.

Rose drifted close enough, to learn that Kanaya was caught in an endless series of congratulatory obligations.

Rose snorted, the understanding of Kanaya’s frustrations tickling her humors.

She supposed she was to mill about, until Kanaya was freed from the purgatory of politeness; it was a little more easy for her to notice now, as the night was wearing on, how the party was watching her.

Rose’s hyper-awareness snuck up on her, full force.

“Observant,” a young woman, clad in teal and red, observed.

“I try,” Rose placated.

“I’d’ve thought Porrim would’ve papped you stupid, for this,” the woman chided.

“Believe me, she wanted to,” Rose replied; “But I thought live bait would be best for Kanaya to test.”

The woman nodded, before fixing her red-tinted glasses; Rose wondered if she was another Pyrope.

“Rose,” she offered, as the women seemed to lose interest.

“Latula,” the women replied, before wandering away.

Rose watched her disappear, and took another look at the crowds.   

For all of the jibes muttered under breath, hidden behind curled hands, paired with withering looks that seemed to be occurring, none of the guests directed their displeasures at her .  

Perhaps, Rose thought, they could not.

Or at least, she felt that it was likely the guests appreciated Kanaya enough as to not interfere with her ‘big moment’ as it were.

It seemed as though the ‘adults’ were far too involved in themselves to speak with her, and the ‘younger’ attendees seemed only passingly curious of her.

She allowed herself to feel braver, with this thought.

When Kanaya finally made headway in approaching her, Rose offered her a coy smile.

A decision firmed itself within herself; spiteful as perhaps it was, Rose felt drawn to play a little game of cat and mouse between the crowds.

She retreated, and forced the younger Maryam to come after her.

It was childish, passive-aggressive, even.

But Rose couldn’t deny the sensation of delight the younger Maryam’s dedication to the game inspired within her.

She was freely admitting to herself now, after her grueling admissions with Roxy, that she wanted the Maryam to want her.

And if the ball was to highlight Kanaya’s achievements, Rose wanted to give Kanaya’s peers an exemplary mark upon her records.

Rose watched Kanaya grow from confusion, to determination, to frustration.

And finally, slow amusement.

The quiet acknowledgment, that Kanaya had caught up to their game, was endearing.

The night wore on, and conversations slowly intermingled into dance.

Rose was not at lack for choice in partners; though a boy dressed in red was the first to offer her a spin.

“Rose Lalonde,” she greeted.

“Karkat,” the boy huffed.

At Rose’s questioning glance, the boy growled.

“Of Vantas.”

The manner in which revealed his name piqued Rose’s curiosity.

“Oh?”

Surprised washed over his face, quickly tailed by remorse; “Fuck, right, you wouldn’t know, sorry.”

“It’s quite alright. I would be loathe to utter my own family name, were my mother the only other bearer to boast it,” she lilted.

“Yeah, it’s just rare that somebody doesn’t know I’m the Sufferer’s childe,” he explained, “It just hangs over me like a goddamn maelstrom that I can’t get out of. Wort of it is, Porrim and Kanaya have to be drug with me all the time too, cause ya’ know, their sire and all.”

Rose tilted her head opposingly, as they continued to rotate around the floor.

“Oh shit, right. You don’t know,” he fumbled; “Fuck, am I even allowed to tell you?”

“Would it be easier on Kanaya if you did?”

The boy thought it over for a moment and sighed; “You’re one of Porrim’s feeders so, you’re probably ok,” he assessed, “All you need to know is that they’re trying their best, okay? And they didn’t deserve to be dragged down by my fuckwad ancestor like they did.”

“Your self-loathing is endearing.”

“Fuck you,” the Vantas growled.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to pass on that opportunity,” Rose quipped, “But if it makes you feel any better, I can dance a little closer.”

Rose leaned forward as he spun her, enclosing the space between them; she was delighted to see flurries of emotion wash over his face.

Rose chuckled.

“Relax, I’m not the one with the pointy teeth,” she bantered.

The boy huffed.

“No Maryam ever handpicked a stable woman,” he countered, “-Even Kan has a goddamned chainsaw.”

“How enticing,” Rose keened; she enjoyed the way the boy flustered with directionless embarrassed frustration.

“You know,” Rose mused, studying the boy, “You remind me of my brother.”

“You remind me of a Serket,” he grumbled; as they spun they took in a bit of the room and Karkat added, “Or maybe a Makara. -You feel like the creepy type.”

“Is holding a seance with one’s dead cat to trap a soul of an unfathomable horror inside my mortal vessel creepy? Because I was only possessed briefly and I only vomit up sea-salt and ash a limited number of times.”

The boy stopped spinning with her and stared, his mouth contorted into a disbelieving scowl.

“I find your fear of me flattering, since I remind you once again that you are not the human in this equation.”

“I can see exactly why they picked you,” he groused, as he moved to finish their dance; “You know, if this were for any other person, none of us would even be here.”

Rose hummed, but allowed herself to swept politely back into their swaying movements; they shared the rest of their dance in silence.

When the song flickered out, the boy offered a cordial bow, and Rose was content enough to release him back from whence he’d came.  

Rose felt as though the crowds had grown similarly amused; as the songs wore on, a few even cut in, to share their own moments inspecting her more closely. The more formal ones were content to leave after a full song, but the others spun her away to else-people besides, when their curiosities were slaked.

The night wore on, and Rose grew herself a strange sort of softness; for a moment, she allowed herself to be caught.

Kanaya’s lips, perilously close, to her cheek.

“I do hope you are enjoying yourself, Rose,” Kanaya murmured.

“Quite,” she replied, too happily in her old habits.

The Maryam hummed.

“You could have told me, darling, about the party,” Rose pressed, gently.

Kanaya pulled her a little closer, to sway her gently into the dance.

“This was Porrim’s surprise for me; I assure you I had little notice of it,” she offered.

“Yet, you’d time enough to select me a gown?” Rose countered happily.

“It is with equal parts both pride and embarrassment that I admit to you I crafted that dress the night you’d first visited our house.”

“You’re an excellent tailor, Miss Maryam.”

“Seamstress,” Kanaya countered.

Rose exhaled brightly, as Kanaya spun her a little faster.

They moved together to the gentle waltzing notes, each step constricted Rose’s breath a little more, for the way her heart was hammering in her chest.

Kanaya held her, her lips breezing over the expanse of her shoulder.

“You smell so sweet,” Kanaya whispered.

Rose stifled a reflexive moan, as Kanayas lips traced back up to the hollow behind her ear.

“I could do it now,” Kanaya continued softly, almost as if she were thinking to herself.

Rose felt as though her breathing was somehow drawing in too much and yet not enough air in at all.

“You seem all to eager, for me to lose my composer this evening,” Kanaya added; “Trying to make me jealous.”

“I-”

“Shhh,” Kanaya hushed, her lips ghosting near Rose’s; she pressed their brows together and guided her once more into swaying together to the gentle lilt of the music.

“It’d break my sister’s heart, to ruin her hard work yet,” the Maryam mused.

As if on cue, the dancing stopped.

Rose found herself turning with the crowd, to see the guests fanning out.

It appeared as though each of the heads of clan were centered around Porrim, to flank her on either side.

The young teal coated girl, Terezi, stepped in front of them.

“The council is here this eve, to recognize one of our own. Our beloved Empress, long may she un-live,” she hurried, slapping a hand over her heart; reactively, the other vampires also placed their hands to their hearts, as if in salute, “-Acting as her beneficiary this eve is Heiress Meenah, privileges may she reap.”

The vampires collectively nodded, Rose noted.

“Also this evening, our Grand Highblood will also not be in attendance. Acting in his stead, is Kurloz.”

Another, scattering of nods.

“The court recognizes these,” answered an authoritative woman in teal and red; Rose wondered if she was the ‘Redglare’.

Cleared, Terezi continued, “On this eve, the council will recognize Kanaya of the Maryam clan; long has she lived, longer still may she sew.”

A scattering of murmurs crossed over the ballroom; Rose felt Kanaya stiffen her posture.

“The court will now tally,” Terezi declared, tapping her cane to the floor, “Of the Ampora clan; fast may yee swim, Dualscar, will you witness the Maryam?”

The gruff man, in the dark violet cape, raised a glass; “I witness thee.”

“Of the Makara clan; loud may yee preach, please sign if you will witness for the younger Maryam.”

The boy, dressed in black, a skeleton painted over him, bowed his head once.

“The court proceeds;” Terezi agreed, continuing, “Of the Zahhak clan; may yee never break, Darkleer, shall you bear witness?”

The man in blue armor gruffed, which seemed to be expected.

“Of the Serket clan, tangled may yee weave, shall the Marquise witness for the court?”

The marquise, the woman Rose recognized from her black and blue coat, seemed to grow soft for a moment, nodding, before crossing her arms and letting her air of superiority and danger return.

“The pyrope clan witnesses all,” Terezi claimed, before moving on; “Maryams. Bright may yee glow. We assume Porrim will witness.”

“I do,” Porrim replied, dripping with elegant importance. When she spoke, the murmuring from the others briefly stopped.

“Leijons, fierce may yee hunt, will the Huntress bear witness?”

The woman clad in olive furs roared, which was quickly backed by the addition of two additional roars, from Nepeta and who Rose assumed was the other of the women’s two ‘children.’

Terezi nodded; “Captors, sturdy may yee stay, “Psiioniic, will you witness for the young Maryam?”

The man, lanky and feeble appearing, did not speak; instead, cackling electricity seemed to gather around his eyes. He bowed slightly, seemingly in agreement.

“Nitrams, humble may yee reckon, will the Summoner stand witness?”

An older boy, scruffy around his suit for the purposeful tatters around his clothes, and the grandly dyed stripe of color through his hair, threw an arm into the air, and pumped a clenched fist.

Surprisingly, the two other brown sporting boys in the room raised their arms, along with the Marquise.

“Please quiet thyself,” Terezi commanded after a moment; “Clan Megido, observe as you will.”

An elegantly dressed woman, clad in attire from the East, nodded solemnly.

“The court will also note, that many of the Neonates are also in attendance. We are joined today by Neonates Cronus, Aranea, Horuss, Latula, Meulin, Mituna, Kankri, Rufio, and Damara. Childer in attendance consist of Feferi, Eridan, Gamzee, Equius, Vriska,” Terezi emphasized, “Myself -Terezi; the subject in question: Kanaya Maryam, as well as Nepeta, Karkat, Sollux, and Tavros.”

Terezi took a moment’s pause, and looked to the elders.

Redglare nodded to her, after a moment.

“The court will now commence with the ceremony,” Terezi stated factually, “Does any of the court whish to make a statement?”

“Aye,” the Marquise shouted, drawing attention; she raised her glass of blood; “Your dame was a good one, Milkteeth. Make her proud.”

The rest of the room similarly raised their goblets in toast.

“Fucking finally ,” the sleazy Ampora added jovially; Rose guessed him to be Cronus.

“Let’s get on with it already,” the heiress ordered, “Some of fish got some places to sea.”

Rose wondered for a moment, if she’d misheard the young women before realizing that she had, in fact, spoken in terrible fish puns.  

“The court will now proceed. Maryam, elder, you may take the floor.”

Porrim thanked her, before stepping into the empty space within the ballroom floor.

“My sweetest Kanaya, tonight has long been in coming. -I couldn't be prouder,” she said, her tone dipped felt as if it had been dipped in gold and honey.

“The Maryam, younger, will now take the floor.”

At this, Porrim stepped back, her eyes shimmering, as Kanaya stepped into the empty space.

Rose felt a sudden chill, at Kanaya’s absence.

When Kanaya reached the middle, she turned; her smile was so radiant, that Rose’s heart began to hammer.

Kanaya held out a hand to her.

“The court will now address the Participant.”

The mixture of swelling pride and rushed timidness, playing about the youngest Maryam’s face, made Rose’s stomach twist over on itself.

Rose stiffed her own posture, as she strode forward.

The eyes upon her seemed altogether to unreal, and too enticing.

She eased into Kanaya’s arms, feeling as if she’d somehow been cosmically made to fit there.

“The court recognizes you, Rose Lalonde.”

The statement came from the older Megido; her voice reminded Rose of the very fabric the woman was wearing.

Most of Rose’s attention, however, was tuned solely on the ancient woman in front of her.

Kanaya seemed so utterly entranced, by her as well; the idea flushed Rose’s cheeks and lifted a swell to her chest.

“Last chance to back out,” a boy called, stuttering along his s's; his mustard clothes blended too easily into the blurring of people around Rose’s peripherals.

She paid him no further attention.

Instead, she allowed herself to fall deeply into the greens of Kanaya’s eyes.

So bright, so clear, they seemed.

So soft, her lips appeared.

Their lips met, and the world melted away; even the music wafting around the ballroom seemed to fall distant to Rose’s ears.

There was only the feeling, of Kanaya holding against her; the press of those little teeth rubbing against her lips, the scratch of her dainty nails tucking so wantonly into her back.

Rose felt herself grow giddy.

Needing breath, Rose pulled back, and Kanaya’s lips began to travel.

She kissed down her throat, sending shivers down her spine; she gripped Kanaya’s shoulders tighter, to keep from losing her balance.

Kanaya simply pulled her closer, so that she was bearing most of Rose’s weight.

Rose moved her arms around Kanaya’s neck, and stifled a mewl as little teeth began rubbing against her neck.

Kanaya mouthed, suckling her blood closer to her skin.

As her heart raced faster, the blood felt as though it was surfacing sooner, and in greater force.

Their makeout grew sloppier; Rose supposed, in some distant area of her mind that she could have tried harder to keep still, but she found herself awash in the physical sensations of not wanting to stay still at all.

She clung to Kanaya, and tried to pull the girl closer still; she gnarled a hand into the Maryam’s hair and pulled.

Kanaya kissed her harder, spurred on by her eagerness.

And then, she bit .      

Chapter Text

Her life tasted so vibrantly bright; her teeth dug deeper.

She was used to the visions Porrim’s blood shared with her, the memories of hazy summers and fading whispers.

It was almost a little too much though, the fresh, surreal, images Rose’s blood conducted.

Teaming with life as Rose was, her body was brimming with hastily stippled compositions of sterile observatories and black painted smiles; Rose’s memories were heady and cloyingly sweet.

Deeper and deeper, her fangs bore.

Rose’s scent was dizzying; the images flowing under Kanaya’s mind swirled and jumbled with her own, until there were only sensations of constructed recollections, wherein moments of frozen time passed in increments of cohesion.  

The swells of violins in the air seemed only to pull at the human’s heartstrings more; Rose’s body was swelteringly warm and pliant against her own.

Kanaya wanted to pull her closer; the need to encompass the girl was all too strong.

Dimly, Kanaya was aware of her family still gathered around in attestation.

Pride scourged through her; she folded her arms around Rose tightly. Far too tightly.

She wondered if Rose could taste her lament; she wondered if Rose could sense their nexus at all.  

A shame, likely, if not.

A blessing also, if not; she felt.

Kanaya crushed her eyes closed tightly, blocking out the hollers and catcalls from the gathering; the needles noise from her peers was stifling and aggravating in a way that raked across her shoulders.

Anxiety, a familiar friend, warned her that she could still cease.

For a moment, it almost felt as though her heart was beating.

Hammering away with fear and exhilaration.

She drank on.

Still, she could stop.

A little ‘enthusiastic’, is all she would be.

Rose’s thoughts came unbidden, abstract and desensitized; her exuberance nearly brought Kanaya to her knees.

A little too long now, she’d be warned of misremembering things.

She relived one of Porrim’s long embedded memories, of ravishing a woman on a cobblestone floor, her long-forgotten face now blurring into Rose’s littermate.

There was mumbling about her, that Kanaya couldn’t quite process; they’d be waiting now, to see if concern was necessary.

They’d laugh her off now; a “close call”, they might say.

Another swallow; another hit of soul-shaking that left her fingers digging deeper into Rose’s skin, pulling her dress just lower.

Her jaw ground against Rose’s collarbone; the girl folded almost completely.

The murmurs were louder, Kanaya sensed.

Hasty talks and signals, she was sure.

Likely the lot of them waiting for someone to step in.

Porrim would wait, she knew.

Just a little longer.

Just to make sure .  

There were crashes, as Kanaya’s vision blackened, dipping deeper into a place of Rose’s that her own senses couldn’t go.

As her sensibilities quietly fizzled out, Kanaya felt the unmistakable fussy heightening of feralness awakening within her.

Another crash rattled somewhere around her; shouts cried out and glassware shattered.

She smiled.

Time fell nonexistent, as from the void, light offered her its taste.

A weight rent itself against her, pulling her from her food, from the light.

She roared; brandishing teeth and shrill screeches to a face that she couldn’t quite see.

Stimuli assaulted her in a barrage as the world around fell into chaos.

The will of her Sire forced her to yield, but not before the creature had drug her off, and forced her to submit.

Panting, leftover life-pulses echoing through her stilling-heart, Kanaya came back to herself.

Rage, lingering from the trance, flexed her claws and dripped pearlescent saliva from her teeth.

Her skin, outshown every display she’d ever bloomed.

Here, forced to her knees by Porrim’s hand, she was a monster. Unmistakable, and bright.

She was aware, vaguely, of Vriska slamming Sollux into the dessert table; of Nepeta hissing, clawing her way out of her ancestor’s grasp, and she sensed too, Dualscar's unmistakable snicker, Meenah’s fingers tapping hurriedly against her shell-embellished messaging device, and of the Summoner’s rallying cries.

All of it, however, fell away as she stared into her sister’s eyes.

Porrim’s face was wrought with the kinds of pain Kanaya had only glimpsed in her blood-bonded anecdotes of ‘living’ memory.     

Porrim’s unwavering grip kept Kanaya from moving, but it also kept her grounded, and forced to contend with her shame.

The few seconds, was all Kanaya was spared as the scent of Rose’s blood was apparently a little much, for some of their guests to take; the younger Pyropes kept the Makara’s back, while Redglare wrestled her own battle with Meulin.

Within the moment, Porrim was in the thick of it all, parting the crowd with the divine wrath of Mother not to be crossed.

The effect was immediate.

Kanaya, weak now, sank further onto her knees; her smile flickered faintly.

The Dolorosa, it seemed, was reborn.

Porrim knelt, to collect the human bleeding out on their ballroom floor.

She left them, the girl cradled saintly within her vindicated arms.

With the human gone, the scent of everything was a little easier to bear.

Redglare seemed to be making some progress holding the equilibrium, but Kanaya knew it wouldn’t be enough.

Not for long.  

She forced herself to stand.

Cronus was beside himself, with laughter.

Kanaya’s brows knit tighter; this was the moment she’d dreaded.

The moment they would remember.

She closed her eyes, and centered herself.

After what would have once been a heartbeat, Kanaya’s eyes snapped open.

She let her luminesce dim.

She smiled, softley, and walked steadily to the worst of the fray.

Piece by piece, she helped mend the evening back together.

Their panic faded into uneasy laughter; wavering jibes and crude humor.

It was Darkleer, who approached her, not with banter; but with solace.

A hand to her back, the blueblood said not a word, but nodded.

“Hey, it’s gonna be okay,” a low voice soothed; a hand to her arm.

Kanaya turned face, and found the Psiioniic’s smile sad, but quietly optimistic; it was easy to reflect it.

His words brought on a sour frown to the eldest Pyrope; Kanaya knew what was likely running through the founder’s mind.

“I regret to say, that it’s probably time for everyone to return home,” Kanaya broached, allowing her voice to tremble, just slightly; “It’ll be sunup, before too soon.”

The reminder set forth a stumbling procession of condolences and cuts of masochistic merriment.

Even Rufioh seemed unsure of how best to play the situation off.

Kanaya settled for curt nods and polite deflection.

When the Ampora’s dinged to pass her by, Dualscar stopped to look her over.

She held his gaze, daring him, to say anything.

When his lips parted into a snarling grin, Kanaya felt her hackles rise.

“-Don’t you fucking dare, Wetfoot,” the Marquise hissed, stepping between them.

The woman grabbed the Prince by his collar and stalled him there.

“You’ve done enough to them,” she hissed.

The Prince stepped back; it’d been some time, since the pirate queen had flared any sort of acknowledgment to man. Centuries, perhaps.

The promise of threat in the woman’s teeth was apparently enough to inspire the Ampora to hold his tongue.

Vriska, and similarly Cronus, looked on with surprise.

Still visibly enraged, the Marquise spun on her heels and took Kanaya by her shoulders.

Her growl was bone-tingling, but Kanaya sensed it was not something to fear.

“You have her fight in you, don’t ever forget that,” the woman dared.

There was something, deeply wild, in the ancestor’s eyes.

Porrim's memory of the woman always carried the scent of something burning. 

The Marquise held her gaze, for a second more before throwing herself back to grab a fistful of Vriska’s collar; with her free hand, the woman beckoned to her other charge, who scurried forth with haste.

“Come whelps,” the Marquise barked; the women tossed a parting over her shoulder, as the fight caught the reflective portion of her fake eye, “Tell your sister we liked the party. -Even if nobody died.”

The eldest Ampora, already disgraced for the evening, past by without fanfare, Cronus slinking behind.

“Chin up, Kan,” Eridan offered, quietly.

Kanaya nodded at him; he offered a curt smiled before ducking away to follow his Sire’s footsteps.

Kankri looked at her with disgust; she’d expected his disappointment, but it was Karkat’s neglect to speak to her, and the look of newfound fear in his eyes, that really stung.

The procession continued; Kanaya weathered the weight of every passing, until only the Pyropes remained.

They stood silently, in the now vacant ballroom.

“I shall compose a few of the rooms for you to use toni- I mean, today,” Kanaya offered, correcting herself; “I assume you’ll be wanting to discuss things with Porrim, when she’s free.”

Redglare didn’t move, though Terezi adjusted her glasses.

“The court is not currently in session,” the youngest addressed, tapping her own cane gently against the floor; “We have many events that must be recorded for the stand.”

Latula, her face familiar and friendly, offered her a hug.

Kanaya was surprised to feel the faint echoes of tears, fabeling around her eyes.

“You didn’t kill her, or hurt Porrim,” Latula offered, “And that’s the main thing.”

“You can call us,” the pyrope matriarch finally imparted; “If the human wishes to press charges.”

Kanaya nodded; then, remembering her place, bowed more fully.

“It’s… the most I can offer you, for her ,” the woman stated quietly, a hint of regret clouding her pitch.

Kanaya pressed her lips tightly.

“Thank you,” she answered, forcing herself to speak.

“We’ll leave you, to tend things,” Redglare dismissed, lifting her cane; “Come, Nestlings; for Seamstress must mend.”

Chapter Text

 

An elongated sigh detangled itself from Porrim’s throat, hollow and dejected, as she closed the door Rose’s room.

She didn’t need her vampiric senses to know that her beloved progeny was lurking closeby.

Part of her wanted not to look at her, but Porrim ignored the spiteful thoughts, reminding herself that a mother had to do what was best for their children; no matter undead those children had become.

The anxiety and rage she’d been steeped in moments before started to dull, as Kanaya’s quiet nervousness etched its way into her cold, dead, heart.

She let her shoulders deflate some.

“I made the round of calls; everyone got home safely,” Kanaya offered, “Though Vriska and Sollux got into another scrap in the parkinglot.”

The halfhearted smirk Porrim felt didn’t reach her lips.

“Rose’s sister arrived; she’s with her now,” she stated evenly.

Kanaya’s composure started to slip a little.

The tilt of her ears would’ve been endearing, were situations different, Porrim felt.

“Rose authorized her to act as her power of attorney, but she seems adamant about waiting for Rose to wake up, rather than acting in her stead.”

“That gives us some time then,” Kanaya broached carefully.

Porrim let her eyes fall shut, for a moment, to better let her emotions simmer.

“The Pyrope’s said we were to call them back, when Rose gave word of her charges,” Kanaya continued, as she tangled her fingers together self-consciously.

“Their generosity only stretches so far, Kan,” Porrim warned; her mind returned to racing through one series of failing ideas after another. There was a possibility that the court would be kind, for a final favor to their ancestor, and there was an even greater chance that the court would fall on them harder, to quell any rumor of any founders playing ‘favorites’.     

As Porrim studied Kanaya’s face, she weighed the benefits of running, again; finding herself still faced with a fall of outweighing horrible outcomes. Pyropes loved a good chase, and the planet was only so big.

How many decades, at best, would they have?

What sort of example, would that be setting?

Porrim pressed her lips together tightly, and reached out to run a hand against her progeny’s cheek; one question still burning actively through her tongue.

If they didn’t run, how was she to lose her?  

Kanaya’s pretty eyes, so open, so familiarly bright; Porrim fought to keep her hand from trembling.

Her loss would be devastating.

There was a flicker, through her composure that Kanaya caught; allowing herself the indulgence, Porrim pulled her sister against her and cradled her there as her mind’s eye flashed with visions each as perilous as the next.

The Maryam line was the only thing keeping their brethren on the edges of civility; without her little moth, keeping her heart warm and human, Porrim couldn’t picture anything of herself but to succumb to an all-encompassing rage. Her execution would be a mercy killing, but it would ultimately doom the other clans as they ravaged the planet and its occupants in their crosshairs.  

There wasn’t time enough, to make a new heir.  

The laughable thought almost made her want to scream; even if she did turn someone in proximity, the poor milktooth would just get culled for their illegal conception and with the way the council was gridlocked, no further progeny was likely to be blessed for centuries to come.

As Porrim’s memory ran itself ragged, she ran a hand through Kanaya’s hair.

“I’m so sorry, my darling,” she murmured, ghosts of teardrops dulled along her cheeks.

Kanaya’s arms were tight around her; comforting, for their assurance that for now, she was still there. Solid. Safe. Whole.

She trembled.

“It isn’t your doing, dear,” Kanaya answered, just as softly.

“I should never have tried to thread you through the loophole,” she retorted, her voice thickening as her hands dug harder into Kanaya’s back; “I should have found another way. We still had plenty of time...”

“We still have time,” Kanaya insisted, a little more forcefully; “Rose hasn’t risen yet.”

A peal of cruel, thick laughter, wretched itself from her hallowed chest; “You trust them more fully than even I do, Kanny.”

The creak of a door caught their attentions; her arms around her progeny tightened out of reflex, until the soft, fragile face of Rose’s relation revealed itself to be the cause of the motion.

Porrim forced herself to relax, somewhat.

“Something you need, love?” Porrim asked, a vanner of her usual self in place as Kanaya drew back respectively.

“Her bag is empty and the machine is starting to get upset,” the Lalonde replied.

“Of course, excuse me,” she dismissed, leaving Kanaya in the hall; she stepped past the human girl to work her way beside Rose’s bed and the tangle of tubing affixed to her skin.

She hit the button to calm the machine before setting about changing Rose’s IV’s.

“So… vampires, huh?”

The assessment put a moment’s hesitation inside her fingertips, before Porrim found her ability to respond.

“Yes. I’m sure you have many questions, if Rose did not mention anything to you.”   

“She said enough,” Roxy answered vaguely.

Porrim bit her tongue to keep it stilled; not wanting to soil things further than they already were.

“I’m going to stay with her, ‘till she wakes up,” the blonde continued, “You understand.”

“Of course,” Porrim answered, as she attached the fresh bags; “I’ll bring down some more blankets for you. No reason you can't try to be comfortable.”

“Thanks.”

“Would you care for anything? I doubt your sister would wish you to go hungry,” she offered.

The young woman nodded.  

She looked exhausted; Porrim could taste a familiar air of familial fright and despair about her. It tugged, more than a bit, at her heartstrings.

“Alright, I’ll be back in a moment,” she lulled; hating how helpless everything seemed.

When she stepped into the hall, Kanaya was gone, as she’d known she would be.

She fetched the blanket from another spade room and tried to think of what she could say to the human.

Sorry I let my childe drain your sister to the point of death.

We’re really nice people, mostly.

We had everything under control, until we didn’t.

“Sisters, huh?” the human murmured, when she handed over the blanket.

“I’m so sorry, Miss Lalonde;” was all she could reply.

She looked at Rose, lying nearly motionless in the bed.

“It’s not the first time she’s had a near-death experience,” the sister mused; Porrim turned to see the young woman’s painted black-painted smile, “And knowing her for as long as I have, I know it won’t be the last.”

“It… can be a terrible wonder, minding one’s younger,” Porrim replied.

Roxy nodded, her curls fluttering around her face with the movement.

Such a pretty tree, the Lalondes seemed to stem from, Porrim absently noted.

“I didn’t start out with Rose, you know?” Roxy spoke, slipping her tiny words into the quiet air; “Moved in after my mom died, when hers decided to take me in. -It’s funny ‘cause us four, me and Rose an’ Dirk and Dave, we’re all clones? Pretty sure we all were swapped around to keep anyone from noticing but, I’m the spitting copy of her mom, and she was the replica of mine.”

“Science seems so much more miraculous, than it did last century,” Porrim mused.

Roxy huffed, a quick turn of her lips vanishing just as quickly as it came.

The Lalonde licked her lips, as she worried her mouth over what she wanted to say.

“I used to have to check on her, in the bath. I’d walk in and she’d be practicing drowning.”

“That would be quite alarming, I’d expect.”

Roxy nodded once.

“She didn’t like her mom very much. -Well,” Roxy amended quickly, “She loved Mom, but she resented her too.”

Porrim pictured a smaller version of Rose, standing firm against the skirttails of an older Roxy, rife with vibrant rebellion of youth and fancy.

She thought back, to the way Rose had melted in her arms; utterly awestruck and touch starved.

“Funny thing was, Rose for the most part, always liked me. -I mean, I put the effort into it. I still do.”

“You have an Atlas weight upon your shoulders,” Porrim surmised; “I suppose I can relate.”  

“I told her to come here,” Roxy mourned quietly; “She wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t convinced her.”

“It is… so hard ,” Porrim answered, her pain in her pitch; “To raise a friend. To know beforehand, what’s going to be good for them, or how things are going to turn out for them in what end. To be the perfect, dependable figure, that they need you to be.”

Roxy looked at her, her eyes wide in the way only humans could muster.

Tentatively, Porrim placed a hand to the young woman’s knee.

“I’ve mentored my sister for centuries; trying to anticipate her wants and desires with the changing of the times. I spent years planning this, hoping that everything would go accordingly. And I was wrong. And while I won’t ask you to forgive us, I want you to know that I am so very , utterly sorry for this Roxy.”

“I’d say it was fine but,” Roxy replied, a trace of a smile on her strained lips; “I don’t know how Rose is going to react yet. She… really likes you guys, ya’ know?”

Porrim’s throat clenched, allowing her only to nod.

“...I killed her cat, once,” Roxy stated, “-I brought him back, after a bit. Cloning,” she laughed; before her face fell again, “Rose stopped talking to me. For two whole years. My life was hell. -Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot of time for you, bein’ an undead ‘an all but.”

“No, that’s two years entirely too long,” Porrim agreed.

“Point is, she’s really sweet, but, she’s got this meanness in her,” Roxy admitted; “And I don’t know what that’s gonna mean for you guys, when she wakes up.”

Porrim inhaled a steadying breath, though her body didn’t breathe it.

She leaned back, and let her eyes fall closed.

“She’s also into some pretty kinky shit though,” Roxy added; prompting her eyes to open.

Roxy smiled, lopsided and genuine.

“Please, don’t fret yourself over us,” she insisted gingerly, “You have enough on your plate.”

“Speaking of, I was wondering if I could make good on that offer?” the Lalonde asked hopefully; “I’m getting kinda dizzy so my sugar’s ‘prolly low.”

“Of course,” Porrim replied, standing.

As she laid a hand on the door handle, a hand to arm stopped her.

Porrim turned to see a strange expression on the young woman’s face.

“Hey, um. Thanks,” Roxy said, surprising her; “For being like, really attentive, to everything.”

Porrim gave her a sad smile.

Not attentive enough, it would seem.     

Chapter Text

“Oh thank goodness, you’re awake,” Porrim deflated, tension around her shoulders easing somewhat.

Roxy shifted from where she’d been murmuring into Rose’s ear and helped ease her into a better reclining position.

“Forgive me for not waking the dead, as it were,” Rose answered, an air of exhaustion in her chest.

“There’s nothing to apologize for,” Porrim insisted.

“Where’s Kanaya?” Rose asked, her tone measuredly even; “Roxy says she hasn’t been in to see me.”

“I thought it best if she didn't,” the older Maryam clarified, somewhat tentatively, “In your weakened state, I didn’t want to risk her having any further… lapses; only myself and Roxy have been in to tend you.”

Rose didn’t nod, though she was sure the woman had expected her too; her lips felt neatly pressed and she found she didn’t have the motivation to rend them apart just yet.

She could feel Roxy beside her; she didn’t have to glance at her to know that she could see the gears turning methodically within her mind.

“You’ve been under for two days,” Porrim continued gently, in effort to fill the silence before them; “If you’re feeling up to it, Roxy has offered to drive you home, though I’d feel it wise for us to monitor you for another day or so, but I wouldn’t stop you both from leaving, if that’s of any comfort.”

“I’d imagine you’d like to tie up the loose ends before I go,” Rose mused, as Roxy’s weight pressed closer against her.

Porrim seemed to brace herself, and nodded once; her elegantly long, curling black hair swaying with the motions.

Rose allowed her eyes to close for a moment.

When she opened them, she knew they reflected a grim sort of determination.

“I haven’t decided if I’d like to press any charges,” she began, “I would like to speak with Kanaya before choosing anything.”

“Rose,” Roxy warned, her pitch strained with concern.

“If she hasn’t broken into my room to drink me dry on my deathbed, I doubt we’ve much to worry about now,” she snipped, her tone leaving little room but to allow for her want.

“If you want my sister to, ‘face her failings’,” Porrim replied, “I assure you she’s already racked with guilt enough.”

“I believe I have the right to speak with her, Miss Maryam,” Rose insisted calmly.

Porrim’s expression dimmed somewhat, as she caved into the request; she opened the door behind her, and beckoned forth a familiar figure from the hallway.

Rose let a small smile ply her lips.  

Kanaya entered.

Withdrawn, submissive; a perfect image of sorrowful reflectivity.

Rose almost wanted to laugh, but refrained.

“Hello, Rose,” Kanaya began.

“Kanaya,” she permitted.

“I would like to apologize to you, for the stress and conditions I caused you,” the younger Maryam mourned, “I will not ask for your forgiveness, because that’s not my place to decide your feelings; I just, wanted to say that I am sorry, and that I will abide by whatever you choose to do.”

Rose’s steady clapping, began to fill the room much to the other occupant’s collective surprise.

When she tired of the action, she let the sounds fade away, and her smile returned in fuller swing.

“I must say, it was almost an entirely convincing performance,” she commended; Porrim’s hand reached for Kanaya’s shoulder, as Roxy’s hand fell to Rose’s thigh.

“Had I not engaged in battles of passive aggression with my mother for several-odd years or so, I admittedly would have bought your scene, hook, line, and sinker.”

As Porrim’s face hardened somewhat, perhaps in indignation, Rose continued, stopping the women's protests before they could start.         

“Now that we’ve seen your tailored event to the end, dearest Kanaya, how about you tell me the truth.”

“What truth?” Roxy asked.

“I think Miss Maryam knows very well, what truth I’m referring to,” she answered, as her eyes bored into Kanaya’s.

Porrim’s brows furrowed.

“I think Miss Kanaya framed the entirety of the situation. I don’t think her control was lost for a second, despite all appearances. -Or rather, I suspect she planned the loss from the start. Am I correct, Miss Maryam?”

“How dare you-”

“She’s right, dear,” Kanaya interjected, cutting off Porrim’s defense into a string of garbled consonants.

At Porrim’s face of utter disbelief, Roxy uttered the question ringing in their minds.

“Why?”  

Kanaya feigned a steadying breath; she looked so much older now, than she’d seemed when they’d first met.

Rose wondered how she’d ever taken her for a girl her own age.

“I had to,” Kanaya answered; her voice lacking much of the remorse she’d carried before.

It’s its place, a sort of anger seemed to fill the younger Maryam; it was almost alluring to see.

“I’ve been initialized more with every passing century,” she began, a harshness to her crisply enunciated syllables, “I was once your equal. -Placed with the other second generations. I was important to society. Now, I’m little more than a joke.”

The disappointment and recognition within Porrim’s face was painful to watch.

“I didn’t raise you to be power hungry, Kanaya,” she lamented.

“You raised me to care about our society, sister,” the younger Maryam corrected; “I wouldn’t care about status, if it didn’t hound me for decades on end.”   

“It was to protect you,” Porrim argued, her voice the faintestly more forceful, the volume ever so slightly raised; “Everything we decided was to protect you.”

“I shouldn’t need protecting,” Kanaya counted, her own volume noticeably raised.

Porrim’s face reflected the pain echoing in Kanaya’s eyes.

“I should have been as you are, with how long ago I was turned.”

“You know why that couldn’t happen,” Porrim insisted meekly.

“Why couldn’t she be a grownup person?” Roxy asked, breaking the rhetoric between them.

The creatures turned to look at her; Rose wondered if Roxy’s keen social skills were picking up even more than she was.

“Do you remember when I said the daywalking trait was limited to our clan only?” Kanaya began, to Rose.

Rose nodded.

Kanaya ran a hand through her hair and continued.

“Back when the society was first being formed, every clan was clamoring for rank and recognition. Porrim and I tried to make the transition as monitored as possible; it was we who imparted the importance of rules and guidelines into our society. We were the ones who convinced the empress that hiding within humanity instead of dominating over it was the safest course of action. For centuries, we’ve been the metric for how the clans are expected to act.”

Kanaya’s eyes seemed to glaze over, as she lost herself in thought.

“Clan Pyrope may enforce the rules, but clan Maryam is the clan that dictates what those rules are.”

“What kinds of rules?” Roxy asked.

“How to keep up with the fashions, how to treat others possessions, how to receive a fellow clanmate at one’s lair, how to treat a differing clan, and what modifiers to use depending on one’s status,” Kanaya rambled, “even the greater rules, were ours: to keep our existences carefully guarded, to refrain from killing our own kind unless ordered by the empress after great thought and trial; every meeting we presided at court, acting as the moral backbone of our families.”

“Ultimately,” Kanaya continued, after shaking her head and returning to the moment, “It was that power of position that led to unrest. -One of the other clans, and I have my suspects, whispered into the empress’s ear that we were too powerful to be trusted. We had the ability to walk in the sunlight; what was to stop us from killing others in their sleep?”

“Of course, it was that exact line of reasoning that we had been working so hard to avoid;” Kanaya admitted, “In our attempts to prove our clan an honorable one, we sew the seeds of envy and discontent.”    

“You were too good for them,” Rose observed.

“Our family is flawed,” Kanaya offered tentatively; “Each clan has its own way of doing things, which we’ve tailored over the time we’ve presided. But only the empress is allowed to exist unchecked, as so our clan had to establish its downfalls similarly.”

Rose felt her chest constrict; Roxy’s fingers dug a little deeper into her thigh, as she too, seemed hanging on the edge of the moment.

“I was turned, before a great many of the fledgling existed. Even before some of the neonates,” Kanaya mended, “I was raised on Porrim’s blood. Vampire blood,” she emphasized; “Feeding from our own kind, is considered a sin.”

“We condemned ourselves, in effort to humble our image,” Porrim murmured; “It was an inevitable conclusion, but one that we’d chosen and weaved over time to appear as we needed it to.”

“In order to ‘save me’ as it were, it was agreed by court that since I was turned as Porrim’s charge before the court had even existed, and that I had yet to be recognized as an ancillary, that the appropriate course of action was for Porrim to ‘wean’ me to human blood. Thus removing the threat of diablerie from my clan, and obtaining my self-sufficiency.”

“Damn,” Roxy noted.

“It was a slow thing, decades in the process,” Kanaya dismissed, waving a hand; “as I said, all of this had been of our own calculating measures. We brought this, quite literally, upon ourselves. And while some of it may sound ungracious, I assure you we were given a great deal of leeway that no other clan might have received.”     

“Why are you the favorites then, in the eyes of the law?” Rose asked; “Did you tailor the laws to your benefit?”

“Well, partially, I suppose,” Kanaya admitted; “Not in a ‘get out of jail free’ way, just in, allowing our family to coexist with humanity and having our clans not murder each other at every turn. -Our ‘favoritism’, as you called it, stems from our clan founder. Her demise was… regretful, to a great deal of the founders, and in her debt, Porrim and I were often given the chance to prove ourselves as valuable members of our society, nothing more.”

“The Dolorosa?” Rose guessed.

Kanaya nodded, and Porrim turned away slightly, as if caught in painful memory.

“She was killed in the crossfire of Mindfang and Dualscar as she tried to mediate the clan's furries; the start of our ‘society’ was a difficult time, as everyone had different visions of how they wanted it to function. The Marquise, or Mindfang, as she was known back then, was a pirate queen who’d been very sweet with our founder. In one of the ports Porrim and I ventured, I’d found a guttergirl, named Vriska, and I’d been working up the courage to try my fangs at a bite. Jovially, Mindfang happened to be in town, and after catching up with Porrim, turned Vriska for her own; she invited us to tag along, as she introduced Vriska to our world.”  

“What happened then?” Roxy asked quietly.

“The Emporas, put simply,” Porrim answered.

“Cronus shot a hole through my chest,” Kanaya stated absently; “Vriska went into a rage, thinking I was dead; in retaliation she blew up Dualscar’s estate, escalating matters further. Unfortunately, Dualscar had once been spurned of Mindfang’s affections, and he considered Vriska’s actions as further grounds for avenging himself of the Marquise’s betrayal.”

“With me in torpor, and the clan leaders not listening to her, Porrim called in her sire,” Kanaya continued; “She was… a woman of great history and tragedy, even when she’d been alive. Her son was actually a clan founder himself, of the Vantas clan. So I suppose you could say that they are our brothers, if the other clans are our cousins,” she rambled; “Her son was killed in political warfare, between clans, and with his demise, the Dolorosa had receded out of notice, until Porrim called for her.”

“I didn’t get to meet her, in the scant few hours she’d been between us all,” Kanaya murmured reverently, “And I know her death was spine breaking bone to many, Porrim and the Marquise included. -Even now, the Vantas clan feels her absence like an implicit ghost.”     

“When I awoke, I learned of her death, and I sought revenge,” Kanaya continued, her voice going grim, “Eridan was at the time, a ghoul. I tore him in half, forcing him to be turned seasons too early.”     

“Dualscar ran to the Empress, and finally, laws began setting into motion;” she seethed, “Being of lower status, we were, of course, brought before the Empress to speak. -This was before the court was created, so it was only our three clans, and the Empress at the time. Mindfang, Porrim, and myself were able to convince the Empress of our reasonable innocence. We wouldn’t have gotten off as light as we did, save for the fact that Dualscar had killed the Dolorosa, and back then, killing one’s fellow kindred without justfiable cause was about the only rule there’d been.”

“Instead of culling us, two fledglings without a master, the Empress even ruled that Porrim was to fill her sire’s place. At the time, I was considered an adult with agency; well-learnt and well-spoken. In Porrim’s grief, I spearheaded the Pyrope’s integration of law as best as I was able. Every manner of rule had to be argued and agreed about, before finally being brought to the queen to be debated and picked apart again. It was a maddeningly long process, but one that I was proud to partake of.”

“And every few years or so, we’d meet again to update old things and bring in even more things, the process of never-ending,” Porrim added.

“I was well respected, then,” Kanaya reflected softly; “I spoke with the ancilla without hesitation or reproach. Now, I can’t even speak with the neonates without purpose.”

“The founders still respect you, Kanaya,” Porrim insisted, “They just aren't allowed to show it as directly.”    

“I know, I know ,” Kanaya repeated, as if it was a well-played argument in her head; “It’s just... maddening.”

“So how does you losing control over me, convince them that you should be considered with more respect?” Rose interrupted.

“Because all these years, I’ve been giving them the impression that Porrim had raised me on her blood out of her sense of secrecy for our species, and that it was only because I’d never tried human blood, that I was to be considered any threat. By showing them, convincing them entirely that I was just as consumed by human blood as the rest of them, that I’m not a diablerist accident in waiting.”

“-Convincing them that I was… still upholding my clan merits enough, while doing so was the difficult part. I needed them to think I had you, entirely, under my domain. That our agreement, premeditated as it was, couldn’t have gone any other way, even If i had just pulled out from the street. I needed you to be seduced, and  I needed that seduction to be as elegantly divined as Porrim and I could compose it. I wasn’t on kindred blood because I wanted to be, my effect just had to be too alluring, for humans to stand, to warrant all the fuss and time spent weaning me.”

Porrim placed a hand over her mouth; her eyes braced shut.

Kanaya looked as though much of her rage had left her, leaving her with a conflicting mess of pride and regret.

“I waited a long time, for Porrim to find the perfect candidate, Rose. If nothing else, I hope sincerely, that you truly believe that, for whatever that might be worth to you.”

Rose blinked slowly, allowing herself a moment to process the reality of the situation.

“It seems to me then, that you need my services now more than ever,” she stated flatly.

It took a moment, but Porrim’s head whipped around confusion glossing over her features, as it was similarly for Kanaya.     

Kanaya however, had the beginnings of a smile fashioning her lips.

“If I’m following all of this correctly, there’s likely to be hearing regardless of whether or not I’m to press charges, and Kanaya will need to keep the jury convinced, if your rouse is to be upheld. -I am simply the first taste she’s ever had of my kind. Of course she’d’ve been a little enthusiastic, perhaps even a little too romanticized to the notion, and Porrim thusly a little overprotective. It’s hard to stop a thousand years of fussing after all.”

“Oh god yeah,” Roxy agreed, the tension in her body already melted away; Rose could practically feel her sister’s happiness fill the room.

“And since we’ll need to be sure of this, we’ll probably need another candidate. -A sugarpill, of sorts. For time and efficiency's sake I’d suggest Roxy, since she’s already heard everything and tells me Porrim seems partial to her presence.”

“I’m down for anything,” Roxy cheerily agreed; “Can’t let Rose-y have all the fun.”

“With how this night’s gone, I don’t know if I’m grateful, or horrified,” Porrim admitted.

“If I may ask, what gave me away?” Kanaya asked amiably, her arms crossed comfortably.

“I’ve done a lot of things to make my family react,” Rose admitted, earning a concealed snicker from Roxy; “But in truth, at the party, I knew the second I saw all of the other people, that you intended for there to be a spectacle; I just didn’t know for certain what kind. By the time you had your fangs in my neck, admittedly, I wasn’t as carried away as I was feigning. I was in full control of my capacities, Miss Maryam. I was simply having too much fun playing along.”

A happy, perhaps cruel, sort of smile broke out over the younger Maryam’s face.

“I know,” she admitted.

Rose fought herself for only a moment, before allowing herself to mirror the same smile.

“See Rose-y?” Roxy quipped, catching her attention, “I told you they liked you. And that you should’ve come here. And had all the fun kinky sex you wanted.”

“There isn’t any pornos, Roxy,” Rose insisted happily.    

A hint of a smirk cracked Porrim’s features.

“-I don’t know,” the woman mused, looking the pair of them over, draped over each other as familiarly they were; “If you wanted to add it to the contract, there could be.”