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Hiraeth

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“Just run the damned border, Lena. It’s literally the easiest job, Lena. Just run along the border like a good little pup, Lena. Make sure nobody crosses it, Lena. It’s not that hard, Lena,” Lena cycles through the instructions in her head, each word echoed in disdain.

She feels the wet earth on her paws, how it grips the mud and propels her forward. It is repetitive, almost hypnotically so. Most nights, running around is fun, but tonight, it is raining hard and the earth is slippery. The water has seeped past even her thick undercoat. Even with her superior senses, the visibility is severely limited and all she can hear is the static torrential patter of rain.

Still, Lena has a job to do, graciously given to her by her brother, the Alpha.

It’s the one job nobody likes doing simply because it is…well… literally the easiest job in the pack. Border running. One is given a stretch of the Thorul border to run along and make sure no one crosses it.

And no one has crossed it for ages. Or to be more precise, no one has crossed it illegally, for ages.

It’s not like Lena’s completely ungrateful. She shouldn’t even be in the pack in the first place. She’s an illegitimate pup of the former Alpha who sired her from a lone wolf without a pack. He came back carrying little Lena and forced everyone to accept her.

They never did completely, of course. And when her brother challenged the old Alpha, taking the throne for himself, he only marginally tolerated her out of respect for his sire.

So, Lena gets the shit jobs. Cleaning up, running the border, always last on the feast, sometimes literally just the innards nobody wants and scraping the last of the meat off the bones. It’s enough not to starve her, but it has made her lean. All the running and the chores and food in limited servings has made it so that Lena is almost pure muscle, still smaller than most of the wolves in the pack, but there’s hardly any fat in her.

Which is a detriment in weathers like these when she could certainly use a layer of fat to keep her warm.

Still, she runs. It’s better than standing still and being cold. Running keeps her body warmer than if she’d been lazily lounging about in her den.

Besides, if she doesn’t run, she’ll be out of a pack and lone wolves never fare well… or at all.

 

 

 

The rain is not letting up and the earth is getting to be even more slippery. The sun is about to rise and she’s almost reached the last of her stretch when she hears it.

The night has been nothing but rain and water and wind and the sound is a break from the monotony. She stops abruptly and turns her head towards it, her ears minutely tuning in, trying to get a better read.

Footsteps. Fast. Uneven, but fast.

Faintly she can hear other footsteps, much farther than this one.

It hasn’t reached their border yet, but it will. She tries to sniff the air, but the rain is once again impeding her senses.

She bolts towards the sound, intent on intercepting it before it crosses their border but suddenly it’s gone. Lena stops again.

She can’t have imagined it. She’s sure she heard it. She breaks into a silent walk, focused and listening. And there it is again… but it’s different this time.

Scraping, like something being dragged. Or maybe someone crawling. Still heading for the border.

She once again breaks into a run, this time with a more accurate read on where she needs to go. She knows she’s getting closer. She thinks about alerting the pack, but she doesn’t. She can take care of this. And maybe once she does, they’ll give her a better share of the food. Or at least let her sleep in the bigger den instead.

Then again, she also likes her privacy. It’s a rather confusing aspect of her that she’s yet to deal with.

The scent hits her out of nowhere. Blood. Not just any blood. Vampire blood.

Vampire… singular.

But there’s something else. Something different. Something unique. Enthralling. Lena inhales deeply this time and it hits her hard. Whatever it is, it smells like a memory. Or a home she’s never been to. It smells of sunshine and warmth and fresh dew in the morning. It smells of promises and all the wonderful things she dreams of in lazy summer days when it’s too hot to do anything and Lena just lies in her den, alone, stomach exposed and completely vulnerable, surrendering to the day that refuses to let her move.

It’s confusing.

Lena slows to a pad, slowly, stealthily getting closer. She’s aware that she’s standing downwind and the vampire must have sensed her by now. Still, she lowers her body to the ground, all her muscles tense, ready for an attack if it comes.

But it doesn’t. Because the vampire she finds is covered in blood, resting on a tree trunk. Her blue eyes piercing, dirty blonde hair sticking to a soft face, with high cheekbones, a strong jaw and two little fangs sticking out of her pale, pink lips.

Lena has only seen a handful of vampires in her life but she’s almost certain she’s seen the most beautiful one. Which is saying something because Lena knows vampires are known for their beauty. It’s one of the reasons why they’re the perfect predators.

And yet, even in her wet, bloody state, this one is exceedingly exceptional in ways Lena can’t even begin to describe.

And also, she’s dying.

She looks at Lena and laughs, mirthless. And then she turns her blue eyes towards the sky.

“If it’s all the same to you, I would rather die by the sun,” the vampire says, her voice hoarse.

Lena also turns towards the sky and scoffs…or well it comes out more of a snort.

There’s no sun. There won’t be any sun for at least a few more hours. The rainclouds are thick and dark and while, yes, the sun should be out any minute now, its rays won’t penetrate these thick clouds for hours.

So instead, she turns to the wounded vampire. She sees deep gashes on her chest, her sides, some on her arms. The white shirt she’s wearing is almost completely red and the jeans have not fared well either. One of her legs is broken, bent at an odd angle, with the bones sticking out.

She’s going to turn feral first before the sun ever gets to her. And that’s not something Lena wants. She’s not prepared to face a feral vampire. The right choice should be to call her pack

A choice she doesn’t make.

Inexplicably, Lena shifts to her human form, making a choice she didn’t know she had until she’s already done it.

“Feed,” she says. She hasn’t learned too many human words. She understands them well enough but forming them is… alien to her. Even the sound of her own voice is strange.

The vampire shakes her head and chuckles. “No, I don’t feed from humans, especially naked ones.”

“Wolf,” Lena replies, gesturing to herself. “Not human.”

“You certainly look like one.”

The vampires voice is weakening. Lena knows she’s about to—

“Okay so the sun’s not coming out. Could you maybe just do me a favor and kill me? I’d really rather not turn feral,” the vampire says, cutting Lena’s thoughts.

“Feed,” Lena insists for reasons beyond her understanding. She’s feeling a strange sort of despair, like this is something that needs to be done, and it needs to be done now. The stubbornness of the vampire is only driving her to act.

“I told you, I don’t—Hey! What—”

But Lena isn’t listening anymore. She straddles the vampire, pries its mouth open, and pricks her thumb on its sharp fang. She lets a drop fall on the vampire’s lips and then smears the rest on her wrist. Before the vampire can react, Lena jams her wrist on the vampire’s mouth, muttering, “Not human.”

Lena yelps at the pain but it is quickly replaced by something indescribable, mostly she figures because she’s never experienced it before. Like her life is slowly draining out of her, but not in a bad way. It feels right. Like it should be passed on to this stubborn creature that is now greedily devouring what Lena has to offer.

She feels her muscles relax, weakening, and she knows she can only give so much before she passes out. And passing out is not the best idea right now, so she gently pulls and the vampire, understanding, lets go of her wrist.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” the vampire says. “But, thank you. You can leave me here now. I’ll wait for the sun. I promise I won’t cross your border.”

Lena scoffs and shifts back to her wolf form. She can feel her life coming back almost immediately. And when she’s gathered enough strength, she carefully takes the vampire by her only good ankle and drags it along.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” the vampire hisses, her broken leg dangling uselessly.

Lena drops her for a second, shifts back to human form and says, “Quiet,” before shifting back and taking the vampire’s leg again, dragging her across the border, through the mud and heavy rain.

Every time the vampire would protest, Lena would bite down just a little bit, growl, but carry on regardless.

By the time they reach her den, a solitary, tiny cave near the border of Thorul, the vampire is already quiet, seemingly resigned to what fate Lena has for her. What that fate is even Lena isn’t sure.

She hasn’t been sure of anything since she sensed this vampire’s presence. And it’s not as if she was compelled to do anything.

She’s familiar with compulsions. All her life, that’s what she’s been doing. She’s compelled to follow instructions, compelled to sit back and watch as the food slowly disappears leaving her with scraps and bones, compelled to run the border, compelled to clean out the dens when the pack goes hunting, compelled never to look at any of the other wolves left in the den because she hasn’t earned her place yet, compelled to always be the first one to bow and the last one to stand.

Compelled to live at the edge of the border, miles away from the rest of the pack, like a dirty secret nobody should live with.

No, this isn’t compulsion. This is something else entirely.

 

 

 

Lena’s den is not exactly the best. And she’s sure vampires are not supposed to live in dens. But Lena has a bed of dried leaves and the way the cave is formed, the rain never gets inside, so its dry. She also found a little brook at the back of it, the water coming from somewhere underground and it guarantees that Lena always has fresh water, at least.

But now that she’s dragging her guest in, she figures she’s not really sure how they live. She doesn’t know much beyond the gossip and the mutterings in the pack.

And vampires keep to themselves mostly. They’re not exactly territorial but they are rather solitary.

“So, little wolf, what now?” the vampire asks. She’s sitting, her back leaning on a cave wall. She’s covered in mud and blood and dripping with rainwater. Lena is sure whatever tracks they made has now been washed away by the rain and the mud outside so that’s one less problem she has to deal with. But she does need to go and give her report to her alpha, hope there’s food left, and clean out the den before she’ll be allowed to sleep.

She shifts to her human form and checks her wrist, finding no scar or sign she’s been bitten. She turns to the vampire and gestures to herself. “Lena,” she says, touching her chest.

“Kara,” the vampire replies. “I—I shouldn’t be here. If you’re here to kill me, just do it. I’m not in any state to fight. My wounds aren’t healing fast enough and, in a few hours, I’ll be hungry again.”

Lena shakes her head. “Stay. Sleep. No sun,” she gestures around. Even in summer, the sun’s rays do not ever reach the inside of her den. “Feed later.”

The vampire takes a deep breath, hissing as she does so. “This cave smells like you. Is this your hous—uhmm—den?”

“Yes.”

“And you’re letting me stay here?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Lena stares at the vam—Kara—and shrugs. She looks out. It’s almost time.

She turns to Kara. “Stay. Sleep. Feed later.”

It’s frustrating her that she can’t articulate what she really needs to say but she trusts that Kara understands anyways so she shifts into her wolf and, not waiting for Kara to respond, pads out of her den and breaks into a run towards her pack.

Before she reaches the pack’s den, however, she does something she never thought she would ever, ever do. She prepares to lie. Nobody ever lies. Not to the Alpha.

But then again, she reasons, she’s never really had any excuse to lie to anyone, least of all the Alpha.

Until today.

She deliberately rolls around in the mud a few times, making sure some of it reaches her undercoat. She stands in the rain and lets the mud seep into her fur before walking in as quietly as she can.

Nobody notices her. That’s pretty much her role in life. To be invisible. To do her tasks as quietly as possible, without bothering anyone, that she can slip in and out of the den, dragging out bones to keep the den clean, and hardly anyone notices.

Today, however, she is noticed. Mostly because she looks so damned silly.

“What happened to you?” the Alpha asks, and the rest of the pack turns their head to her.

“I was running, and I slipped on a cliff side and fell. It’s very wet and muddy outside,” Lena says, surprised that she can lie so easily.

“Did you notice anyone cross the border? Krypton has sent word that a rogue vampire has escaped and was last seen headed to Thorul,” the Alpha asks. There’s rumble of dissent that spreads across the pack.

Krypton is a good neighbor, as far as Lena knows. It is a country led by vampires who, despite their need for solitude, always craves order and power. But they respect Thorul’s boundaries.

“No, Alpha. The border was muddy and slippery, but no one crossed it,” Lena answers.

She can hear some of them snickering, but she ignores it.

“Go wash yourself in the lake before coming back to finish your duties,” the Alpha says and the rest of them laugh louder. She knows what it means. The lake is at least half an hour’s run so that by the time she makes it back to the den, there will be no more food left and a lot of bones to drag out.

And the only way she will be able to clean the den out in time to get some more sleep before her run this evening is to shift into human form… something even more shameful in the presence of the wolves.

But it must be done.

And the Alpha has willed it.

So, Lena pads out of the cave and does as instructed.

Sure enough, by the time she’s back in the den, the food is gone. There may be some meat hanging on to some of the bones, but it’s hardly anything compared to Lena’s hunger. Still, she proceeds with her task, shifting to human form and gingerly picking up the bones. Some of the wolves snap at her feet, as close as they can without actually biting her.

They have made it into a game. Trip the lone wolf up in her human form, prolong her duties. But Lena is used to it by now. Soon, she has the first batch of bones piled outside. She takes three more rounds, picks out a bone or two from the pile, cleans it off, and heads home with her head down.

She’s hungry but, pack’s law, she can’t hunt.

And most disappointingly, Kara is gone when she comes back to her den.

Once again, she’s not even sure why she’s disappointed. She figures it’s really just cause she’s hungry. She sniffs at the spot where Kara was sitting, whines, and lays beside it, her snout resting at the place where Kara’s scent is the strongest.

It doesn’t do anything to satisfy her hunger, but it makes her feel a little bit better.

Just before she passes out from exhaustion, however, she hears grunting and some odd shuffling outside her den. She lifts her head and sees Kara dragging a whole buck inside her den.

“Do you know how hard it is to hunt when you only have one good leg?” Kara says, skipping on her good leg before finally collapsing on the cave floor, her chest heaving. “But, and don’t ask me how I know because honestly, I have no idea either, I knew you were starving. So, I stole back to Krypton, caught you the biggest buck I could find, and dragged it all the way here.”

Lena growls her displeasure which Kara, still heaving on the cave floor, waves away.

“Yes, yes, I know. That’s why I took it from Krypton. Technically, you’re not breaking any pack law. You didn’t hunt it for yourself, and it wasn’t taken from Thorul,” Kara says with a satisfied smile that Lena finds ridiculous. But she is also quite hungry so she pads towards it and sniffs it.

It’s got Kara’s scent all over it and her mouth waters.

“By the way, I hope you don’t mind sharing, but I fed on it too. I told you I don’t feed on humans, right?” Kara says.

Lena snorts. She doesn’t really care. She sinks her teeth into the buck and begins her feast.

She feels Kara patting her, almost absentmindedly, as she feeds and she really should have hated it. No one should come near her food but Lena doesn’t care. No, she does. She does care. She cares that Kara should do it. She needs the pats and the little scratches she’s doing to Lena. It makes everything feel better.

So, when Kara puts her hand down, Lena growls.

“Okay, fine, you needy little wolf,” Kara says, laughing. She turns to her side to rub Lena’s fur, watching her eat. Her laughter is a good sound. She should do it more often, Lena decides.

Finally, her snout bloody, her stomach bloated, and all that remains of the buck are its bones and skin, Lena slumps down beside Kara who is still watching her.

“You’re a strange little wolf. What did you do that you’re not sleeping with your pack?” she asks. She’s still running her hands through Lena’s fur and it makes Lena sleepy. But, and almost by instinct, she knows…

It’s like a switch in her brain. She knows the buck didn’t satisfy Kara. It’s not even enough to heal her. It was probably enough to fuel her journey back to Lena’s den. But Kara isn’t fed enough to heal.

So, Lena shifts to her human form and sits up, extending her wrist to Kara.

Kara swats it away. “I told you. I don’t feed on—”

“Not human,” Lena insists. “Kara must heal. Must feed.” And to emphasize her point, Lena touches the wound on Kara’s side and she hisses. “Must heal,” she repeats.

“No, I don’t deserve to live. I no longer have a home or a family,” Kara says, stroking Lena’s wrist so gently, she gets goosebumps. She can see the hunger in Kara’s eyes increase the more she traces the lines on Lena’s wrist.

She knows what it feels like, not having a family or a home. Sure, she’s part of a pack but she’s never really belonged to it. They do not play-wrestle with her. They do not bathe with her or lick each other clean. She has no voice, no choice on any pack matter. And during mating season, she’s not allowed inside the den. She’s had to suffer her heats on her own.

She’s a pariah within her own pack and she hasn’t done a single thing to deserve it, other than being born.

It’s a lonely existence but it’s better than having no pack to speak of.

So, she understands. She’s not really sure what Kara has done to deserve her fate, but she understands the despair and the loneliness. No one ever deserves to be that desperate or lonely, least of all Kara.

She takes Kara’s hand and places it on her chest. “Family.”

She gestures around. “Home.”

She sees the big fat tears that leak out of Kara’s eyes and something inside her panics. Something so primal, she is forced to shift back to her wolf form and lick Kara’s face clean, anything to stop the tears from falling.

“Stop,” Kara says laughing. “Stop, Lena. That actually tickles.”

But Lena can’t stop now, Kara is making wonderful laughing sounds. She straddles Kara and proceeds to lick even more.

“Okay. Stop. I give up. I give up. I’ll feed. Geez,” Kara says in between laughing and getting licked in the face. Lena sits back.

“But I’m going to need you to shift back into your human form. Because I know I keep calling you Little Wolf, but and I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, you’re actually not little. Like… at all. You’re taller than I am, sitting down. So either get off me, or shift back to your human form.”

Lena chooses the latter, so that for the second time that day, she’s again straddling Kara who sits up.

“Much better,” Kara says, and Lena notices that she’s looking at everywhere else but at Lena. “It would be much better if you had clothes, but I suppose that’s too much to ask.”

Lena tilts her head, not really understanding what it means.

“Never mind,” Kara mutters. “Hand please.”

Lena raises her hand and watches as Kara gently traces the veins there again, producing the same effect as before. She shivers slightly.

“Are you sure?” Kara asks and looks at Lena.

“Yes,” Lena answers.

Lena is ready for it this time and the sharp pain is almost nonexistent. Now she notices how soft Kara’s lips are, how warm her mouth is, how gentle her hands are. And even as she feels life flowing out of her, she knows it is right.

Like a purpose, something she’s meant to do.

She watches Kara feed, curiously. Her blue eyes have turned red, gleaming, almost fiery, and there are thin red veins surrounding her eyes. She traces some of them with her free hand and Kara doesn’t seem to mind.

Just as Lena is starting to feel a measure of exhaustion, Kara lets her wrist go, licking the last of the blood that spills out. The wound has already closed by the time she gets her hand back.

Thoroughly exhausted now, she gets off Kara and shifts back to her wolf form.

“Sleep now, Little Wolf. I’ll bury the buck out back—”

Lena growls.

“—and yes, I’ll make sure your pack doesn’t see me—”

Lena growls even harder.

“—no, I will not run away. You’re right. I need to heal, at least.”

Lena huffs.

The last thing she hears before completely passing out is Kara humming, scratching her behind the ear.

Lena has never slept better, deeper in all her life.

She doesn’t know how to tell Kara, but Lena is starting to feel like she’s the one who found a new home, and a new family.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

One by one, like blinking lights in a long hallway, Kara’s senses come on.

First, there’s sound. She hears rumbling. Not a snore, but a deep, heavy breathing that can only be made my something massive. It isn’t loud, but it echoes. Somewhere she can hear water murmuring. It’s no longer raining outside.

Then there’s the smell: Earthy, like old leatherbound books with yellowing paper. Kara finds that she likes it. And she burrows deeper into the source of it finding that it engages a sense she’s never had much use for: touch.

Being immune to nearly everything has made vampires’ sense of touch somewhat dulled. Or, well, not really dulled but more like that one tool in your shed that you haven’t used in a long time. It’s in mint condition, just needs a bit of polishing and sharpening.

And so, Kara tries to engage this long-forgotten part of her and the first thing she senses is warmth. Not like fire but something pleasant. She scootches back further and she can feel the regular rise and fall, the rumbling sensation on every exhale. She turns around and feels downy fur on her face, soft like nothing she has ever felt before. She’s had expensive sheets but none of them will ever compare to how soft this feels.

She opens her eyes, finally, and blinks. It is dark and her eyes take about a fraction of a second to adjust, which is odd because vampires see well in the dark and right now all she sees is darkness… until she realizes that she’s staring into a wall of thick, dark fur.

The breathing changes and it is no longer as consistent as before.

“Are you awake?” Kara whispers into the darkness.

In response, she hears a soft huff.

Kara knows she should start backing off, but honestly, she’s never felt more comfortable in her entire life, which is saying a lot… but she didn’t want to dwell on it at the moment.

She hears a whine and feels the fluff beside her yawn and stretch. Lena stands and Kara watches as she pads over to the back of the cave and lowers her head to the small brook. The cave echoes with sound of Lena lapping up water.

“I’m all healed up, I think,” Kara says, sitting up, and taking stock of her body. All the warm, soft feelings are gone only to be replaced by this need to bathe and change her clothes. She knows she’s filthy. She’s covered in caked mud and blood and her shirt and jeans are torn. She won’t be surprised if she finds a lot of wolf fur on her either.

“You’ve been more than generous, letting me stay here. But I think it’s time for me to move on,” she continues. She really would like to stay, but she knows she can’t. And she’s going to put Lena in more trouble than she probably already has.

In the darkness of Lena’s den, the intensity of Lena’s eyes as she turns her massive head towards Kara is emphasized. The uneven mix of green and streaks of silver hone in on Kara and she feels vulnerable, as if Lena is boring into her mind.

She sighs. Already, she feels lonely. She’s about to abandon one more person who dares to care. But she knows it’s for the best. Lena cannot be involved in her mess. She already seems like she’s in enough trouble with her pack—seeing as she’s made to live by herself, away from the rest of them—if they find out that she’s been harboring a fugitive from Krypton, they might kick her out or worse.

No. This is for Lena. Kara couldn’t save her family, but she’s at least going to save Lena.

Lena, for her part, calmly walks towards Kara, silvery green eyes locked on Kara’s blues and midway she turns human. Kara, out of respect, immediately averts her eyes.

“No,” Lena says in that rough, kind of broken but also soft voice of hers. She has a distinct way of talking, as if she’s often out of breath. Clearly, since she can understand Kara, it’s not the lack of knowledge that’s keeping her from stringing more than three words to put together in a sentence. It’s more like she hasn’t been allowed to talk as a human and therefore has never practiced speaking before.

And it’s adorable how Lena tries so hard.

Which is one more reason why Kara can’t stay.

“You don’t understand, Le—” Kara is unable to finish her sentence because Lena, clearly also not familiar with the concept of personal space, stands so close to Kara their noses almost touch. And then, she tilts her head down and rests it on Kara’s shoulder, sniffing the space where her neck and shoulder meet.

“Home,” Lena murmurs, her lips so close, Kara can almost feel it on her skin.

Kara wishes she had the mental fortitude to ignore what Lena is doing, the kind of chaos it is raising inside Kara. Because she can’t.

“I can’t be your home,” Kara whispers, raising her hand to grab Lena by the shoulders to push her away. Normally, this would be an easy thing to do. But Lena is deceptively strong. Her human form is shorter than Kara’s by a few inches but still possesses all the of strength of her wolf form. Something Kara learned during her lessons but completely forgot about now that she’s trying to push Lena away.

But of course, Lena can feel it. She knows she’s being pushed away so she steps back, morphs into her wolf form and heads out of the cave.

Kara sees the dejected look Lena gives her at the mouth of the cave, one last time, before she breaks into a run.

In the distance, Kara can hear a lone wolf howl. It is sad, long, and breaks Kara’s heart.

 

 

 

Kara has been running for what seems like hours and she’s getting hungry again.

The blood she took from Lena was enough to heal her completely overnight. Human blood can’t heal that fast, at least not the extensive injuries she had. But Lena’s wolf blood literally saved her when she was seconds away from going feral, and then healed her so thoroughly, she doesn’t even have scars, which is such a waste. It would have been a bit badass for her to have scars.

Especially since she got them from Kal El, himself.

That would’ve been something to tell her future kids about.

Except the future is something so distant, so immaterial, Kara can’t even see past daybreak. Right now, her only goal is Arkham. It’s not the most ideal place to live in, but it is crowded, and she knows she can disappear there, at least for a while, before she can figure out her next move.

 

 

She tried to steer clear of the Thorul pack’s territory, which is a problem because all of Thorul is their territory and she can’t go back to Krypton. Arkham is a three-day run if she tries to go by the border. If she cuts through Thorul, she gets there before daybreak.

And she has to make it before daybreak. Unlike yesterday, the clouds have thinned out and nothing’s going to stop the sun from burning her away. But she must keep her guards up.

So, Kara goes for the slightly slower approach of running and stopping every so often, engaging her senses to see if there are wolves nearby. She knows her sense of smell isn’t as good as theirs, but she can still smell or hear them coming at least. They’re not exactly the stealthiest, with their heavy feet thudding the earth as they run.

Or at least that has been her experience with werewolves until she met Lena.

Kara’s met some of the Thorul wolves before. She’s met their Alpha once, when they changed leadership, although she can’t be sure if he remembers her. She hopes he doesn’t.

But they were all textbook werewolves.

Sitting on his rump, the Alpha is close to ten feet tall, while the rest are about seven to nine and a half feet. Typical werewolves, they are territorial, stubborn, proud, and short-tempered but extremely loyal to their Alpha and to their pack.

Lena has expressed that she does not possess any one of those characteristics, except perhaps stubbornness.

For one, she is shorter, probably about six and a half feet. Still taller than Kara, but nowhere near as tall as the rest of her pack. Her soft, shaggy mane is completely black with no hint of any other color. She lets Kara play with her even when feeding so she’s not territorial. The way she dragged Kara back to her den without biting through her foot despite Kara’s protests showed how extremely patient she is. And she let Kara feed off her… which is something unheard of for a wolf.

She is also completely quiet. Kara didn’t even hear her approach if she hadn’t made herself known.

She would have chalked it up to the heavy rain, except when Lena left her den that evening and started running from Kara, Kara tried to listen to her footsteps, tried to hold on to her for as long as she could…and she was slightly disgruntled to find that as soon as Lena started running, she could no longer hear her footsteps. It was as if Lena just completely disappeared.

And now that she’s started to think about Lena again, she can’t help but feel bad, like she had made a huge mistake. Like the only part of her that is alive is now, slowly, painfully, dying.

Lena was willing to offer her sanctuary to the best of her abilities, willing to get in trouble with her pack just to keep her.

Maybe if circumstances had been different, maybe if she were just some old vampire who got turned around and lost and accidentally, illegally, crossed their border, she would have accepted her offer. Honestly, she really would have.

Lena is demonstrably kind, patient, generous, and most importantly, doesn’t mind that Kara is tactile with her affections.

Maybe she would have even considered falling for her… which really isn’t a difficult thing. Lena’s human form is perfection. And Kara lived with vampires and high elves.

But Lena… Lena is just different. Set apart.

She shakes her head.

Now really isn’t the best time to be infatuated, much less fall in love.

 

 

Her attention is pulled from her reverie, however, when a streak of green flashes to her side. She had less than a second before an enormous black wolf tackles her to the ground.

By instinct, she pushes herself up off the ground and bares her fangs, only to find Lena, heavily breathing.

“Lena? What the hell are you doing?”

Lena is clearly in distress, her hackles up despite the shaggy mane and she keeps looking behind her. She shifts in her human form and under the pale moonlight, Kara can’t help but be even more in awe of her.

But she didn’t have enough time to wax poetics about Lena’s glowing alabaster skin and her sharp jawline and her otherworldly eyes and… well she’s naked so there is a lot more to see and admire.

“Trust,” Lena says, gesturing at herself and then at Kara, before looking at something behind her.

“Trust you?” Kara asks.

Lena nods, her eyes are frantic and she keeps glancing back.

“You’re about to do something insane, aren’t you?”

Lena glances behind her and repeats, “Trust.”

And then Kara hears it. It is faint but she knows what it is. Dozens of heavy paws running towards her. She looks at the sky. She was never going to make it. She understands that even if Lena hadn’t stopped her, they would have caught up to her before she reached the border.

“Kara,” Lena calls to her and Kara could tell, Lena is trying her best not to lose her temper.

Kara nods. “I trust y—”

And once again, Kara’s sentence is left unfinished as Lena rushes towards her and aims for that spot between her neck and her shoulder, the same spot she was ghosting over earlier.

Kara has a split second where she wants to ask what Lena is about to do and another split second where Kara feels pain as Lena sinks her teeth in. That second is gone and is replaced by the most wonderful feeling in the world. Euphoria, maybe, but something more powerful, more intense.

Like… finding something precious you thought you lost a long time ago… and then again something greater than that.

Vaguely, Kara feels Lena’s hand at the back of her head, pushing it down and, without really knowing how, she understands what Lena is asking her to do. Dangerously close to the jugular, she aims a few inches below it, to a small throbbing gland, and sinks her teeth into it.

She tastes Lena’s intoxicating blood for a second before something else replaces it. Something sweet, and overpowering and familiar. It takes ahold of her and she understands that everything inside her is Lena’s now. And Lena is completely and utterly hers.

And then it’s gone as Lena pushes her away and shifts back into her wolf form, her shoulders hunched, her huge tail erect, ears sticking straight up and teeth bared, eyes focused on something only she could see…for now.

Kara shakes her head, blinking, trying to get rid of the haze in her mind when she suddenly finds herself surrounded by dozens of snarling, snapping, massive wolves. She looks at Lena who doesn’t seem to see them, who doesn’t seem to care that she looks like a puppy next to most of them.

No, Lena’s eyes are focused on someone else.

The circle of wolves part and Kara is trying her best to look as determined as Lena is. Because Lena can’t seem to see or understand that the wolf in front of her is nearly twice her size. All Lena seems to care about is that she is between the giant brown wolf and Kara.

The giant wolf turns to Lena and sits on his rump, his posture relaxed, his massive, furry tail swishing behind him. Kara isn’t quite sure what is happening, but Lena isn’t relaxing, if anything, this seems to aggravate her even more.

The wolf turns his head and huffs and the circle of other wolves slink back into the shadows, except for the smallest one that Kara is sure is an actual puppy holding what seems to be a dark, fur lined cloak between its mouth.

Kara can still feel the others’ presence. She can still hear them breathing, prowling a safe distance away.

But now there’s just the four of them.

The puppy, a mix of greys, whites, and browns, gingerly steps forward, drops the cloak at the brown wolf’s feet, and waits as the bigger wolf lowers its nose to a point where the puppy can lick it before running away, yapping excitedly.

Lena still isn’t relaxing. Kara can see her eyes darting to every single movement.

The brown wolf shifts to his human form and immediately picks up the cloak to cover himself.

“Your royal highness,” he says with a slight tilt of his bald head. He is tall, taller than Kara, with small beady eyes, sharp features, and thin lips. His human form is not muscular but rather lean, but that hardly matters when you’re a wolf.

His voice is just as she remembers it, smooth but foreign. Like Lena, he has a different way of breathing through his words, making his enunciation slightly different. But he seems to be more used to it than Lena which makes sense. After all, he is the Alpha, and he must learn to speak in the common tongue fluently with the other Fae’s.

He’s not addressing Lena, however, not even looking at her.

“Not anymore, Alpha,” Kara replies with an uneasy smile. She tries to remember his name. Leo? Leonard? Jack? No, not Jack.. L—something.

“May I examine your neck?” the Alpha’s voice is gentle, curious, but confident.

“I’m not sure you’re supposed to. I don’t think Lena will like it,” Kara says. She subconsciously puts her hand up and covers her bite mark. It’s still bleeding, still pulsing, still with a pleasant buzzing feeling about it.

“I see,” he says, finally turning to acknowledge Lena who snaps at him. “None of that, Lena. I just need to examine it. On my honor, none of us will touch her except you. You know the rules and we follow them.” He puts his arms behind him.

Kara can still feel the unease coming off Lena in waves, but Lena warily takes a single step back, her eyes trained on the Alpha who slowly, confidently walks towards Kara.

“Kindly remove your hand, your royal highness,” he says.

“Again, not anymore. Or haven’t you heard?” Kara says, but she removes her hand, nevertheless.

“Yes. I was told yesterday that a rogue vampire had escaped to Thorul. They neglected to tell me it was you. I asked my border guard if they’ve seen anything but apparently, they’ve grown so bold as to lie to their Alpha,” he says as he leans over to Kara to check the mark. He hums before walking back to his original position, still with his hands behind his back.

“This is a curious but brilliant move, Lena. Father did always say you were a cunning one,” the Alpha—Lex! Kara is sure it’s going to bother her unless she figures it out—says. His voice has a hint of amusement about it.

“What is happening?” Kara asks. Lena has also resumed her original position, still not letting her guard down.

That,” Lex says, gesturing to Kara’s bite mark, “is a mating bite. By placing that on you, she has marked you as hers, therefore including you in the pack. We cannot harm you. We cannot force you to do anything that Lena, herself, will not allow.” His blue eyes turn to Lena. “And because Lena has not actually harmed anybody in the pack, I cannot execute her. So, the most I can do is banish her—” and he turns back again to Kara, “and you, by virtue of being her mate. All of which I’m pretty sure my beloved sister planned for.”

Before Kara can react, Lex, raises his right hand and snaps his finger. Kara hears some scuffling and howling from a distance.

“I have just sent my two fastest wolves to the border to warn Krypton that we have seen you heading towards Arkham. I hope you understand, but my pack is more important than one measly runt, even if she shares my blood,” Lex explains.

He then turns to Lena.

“You are banished from all wolf territories, Lena. No wolf or wolf pack will shelter you or ever take you in. You will neither find home, friend, nor family among wolves. You have until sunrise to leave Thorul. However, because you carry with you the blood of the Alpha, your descendants, if you ever choose to have any, will be free to walk back to Thorul where they may take their place among the pack,” he says, his words heavy, his voice low with palpable grief. He shifts back to his wolf form and, with speed unlikely for his massive size, he swipes at Lena’s face, leaving her left eye scratched.

Lena, for her part, doesn’t whimper. She accepts the blow and immediately steadies her head, still tense, still defensive, never letting her guard down, always in front of Kara.

He takes his front paw and for a moment, Kara thinks he’s going to hit Lena again. Instead, he gently lets it rest on Lena’s head for a moment before he turns around and walks back to the shadows.

Only then does Lena relax and turn to look at Kara. Before they walk away, however, they hear numerous howling, all sad and low and Kara can’t help but feel like they’re all singing a dirge for Lena.

 

 

 

Lena, half her face still bleeding, nudges Kara forward, bounding in front of her like an excited puppy as if she hadn’t just been banished, then turning back with a whine when Kara doesn’t seem to understand what she wants.

“Can we talk about this first?” Kara asks.

Lena huffs and looks at the sky, then pointedly gazes forward before turning to the sky again.

“Fine, but when we reach Arkham and find shelter, promise me we will talk about it,” Kara insists, standing her ground.

Lena growls, then huffs before nudging Kara again.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Kara says with a nod, before running.

This time, it’s different, though.

She knows she should feel bad for Lena, and really, a part of her does. But a bigger part of her is just relieved that Lena is with her. That feeling she had earlier, the one where she felt like a part of her was dying has been replaced by this overwhelming joy that Lena is here, running ahead of her, far enough to scout but not far enough that Kara can’t see her. More importantly, Lena is with her permanently.

 

 

They make good time this way, but now that they’re nearing the border, Kara realizes she doesn’t even have money to spend on proper lodging or at least some clothing for her and Lena. Lucky for her, however, her mate—her mate!—thinks far enough ahead for the two of them.

Instead of heading for the border, Lena leads her to a rocky outcrop first. She shifts into her human form and only then does Kara see the real effects of what the Alpha did to Lena. There are three deep gashes from the edge of her hairline down past the eyebrow and left eye, stopping just above her cheekbone. Her eye, thankfully, isn’t damaged, but Kara is sure that the scar is permanent, a brand to let other wolves know that Lena is banished.

“Lena, I’m so sorry…” Kara says, reaching out and gently tracing Lena’s scar. She also sees the bite mark she’s left on Lena and suddenly a despondent thought catches Kara off guard.

Lena has only two marks on her body and both are a terrible consequence of being with Kara. One had her banished from her own kind, and the other shackled her to a life on the run and she doesn’t even know it. All because she was too kind to leave Kara to her well-deserved fate.

Lena doesn’t seem to mind her scars, however, and instead busies herself with moving some rocks. After a few seconds, she drags out a wooden box. It is nailed shut which Lena quickly remedies by smashing her fist in and tearing the top apart.

Inside, Kara finds a large backpack, a sling bag, some clothes, a ridiculous number of plain black shirts and pants, a few pairs of sandals, and a pouch that Lena gives to Kara and gestures for her to open. Kara does and her jaw goes slack.

Diamonds. Tiny, glittering diamonds.

Kara is holding a pouch full of diamonds.

“Lena, how long have you been planning to run away?” Kara asks, narrowing her eyes at Lena who is frowning at the jeans and shirts but is gingerly starting to put them on.

“No,” Lena answers after surfacing from a rather hilarious struggle with her shirt. Already, Kara is mourning the fact that she won’t see Lena’s—and she stops herself from continuing her thought. “Prepare. Long time.”

Kara frowns. “How many of these boxes do you have?”

Lena straightens up then points south. “Border. Krypton.” She turns and points again, this time southwest. “Border. Krypton.”

“So, you have two of these along the Kryptonian border and one for Arkham?”

“Yes.”

“And they all have the same things?”

“Yes.”

“Do I want to know where you got the diamonds?”

Lena stares at her. “No.”

“Okay, let me get this straight. You have three boxes stashed away with diamonds, bags, and clothing, just in case you needed them?

“Money.”

“What?”

Lena huffs and pulls the sling bag from the box and shows its contents to Kara. It is filled to the brim with silver and gold coins.

“Gods, Lena!” Kara says, her eyes wide with disbelief. “Did you steal these?”

Lena again stares at her for a second before answering. “No.”

Kara sighs. They really don’t have time for this anymore. The sun is about to rise in an hour or so and they still have a bit of a distance to cover.

She grabs a shirt and sheds her muddy, bloody clothes. She should feel at least a little bit self-conscious about getting naked in the middle of nowhere in front of Lena, but she doesn’t. She figures, if Lena’s been naked in front of her plenty of times and doesn’t really care, neither should Kara.

The pants are a bit short and hang awkwardly above her ankles, but the leather, strappy sandals are a perfect fit. Still, Kara is not about to complain. The clothes, despite smelling like wood and earth, are clean and comfortable.

Lena stuffs the rest of the clothes inside the backpack and a couple more shirts inside the sling bag which she straps tight to her front. It is unfair that she looks even more beautiful despite her ill-fitting clothes.

“No wolf,” she says, and Kara hears the longing in her voice.

Kara takes Lena’s hand and cups her jawline, her thumb gently caressing the skin above it.

“Don’t worry, Lena,” she says, looking straight into green eyes. “We’ll find a new home for us. Somewhere where you have enough space to run free and be a wolf and roll around in the mud if you want.” It is a promise, now. A bond that Kara will die for.

She hears Lena scoff. “No mud.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Ten minutes in and Kara can tell, Lena is miserable. Her gait is awkward and her pace, though still much faster than a normal Fae, is terribly slow for her. She keeps adjusting her shirt, keeps looking down on her sandals.

But despite all that, Lena still looks at Kara, then at the sky, and frowns, worry lines creasing her face.

“You’re regretting this now, aren’t you?” Kara asks as they’re running. She can see the edges of Arkham and by the wrinkle on Lena’s nose, she knows Lena can smell it too.

“No,” Lena says simply. “Sun. Kara must feed. Must sleep.”

Kara doesn’t say anything but looks at Lena. She knows they have a connection, that much is obvious. But the woman’s concern for her is instinctive, like she’s been practicing being this concerned, this in-tune, with whoever is going to be her mate.

Kara just happened to be the fortunate recipient of all that practice.

So much has happened over the last couple of hours that she’s forgotten she’s hungry. But now that Lena mentions it, she feels the tell-tale burning in her throat.

“We’ll get there in time,” Kara says, as reassuringly as she can despite her building thirst. “We’ll buy some blood for me and get a room big enough for you so we can rest.”

“No. Lena feed Kara. Safe.”

The look Lena flashes her, the way her eyes harden, the silver flecks gleaming in the dawn’s light, is enough for Kara to understand that there are some things that are not worth arguing about. This is one of them.

And it’s not like Kara wants to argue that point.

Twice now, she’s fed on Lena and every time, it feels like a revelation. It doesn’t just soothe the eternal burning in her throat, it makes her feel warm and alive. There’s so much life flowing through Lena’s blood, so much power that every drop feels like a gift.

Kara would even dare say Lena has spoiled human blood for her, something Kara thought was not possible.

Once again, Kara wonders what she ever did to deserve even meeting this strange little wolf.

 

 

 

The transition from Thorul to Arkham is almost jarring in its suddenness. One moment, they’re running past tall, thick trees and damp earth, the next moment, there’s concrete streets riddled with potholes, exposed rebar on blasted walls, corrugated metal sheets weighed down by chunks of rocks and old tires, and twisted lengths of power lines (truly the only part of Arkham that the Faes inherited from the humans that they carefully maintain).

Arkham was once an old human colony until it succumbed to decades of human civil war and violence and the Fae moved in and took over.

Not that that’s an improvement, or anything. The Fae retained the identical mid-rise and low-rise buildings that were built so close to each other, and then just added their personal flares to it so that there are some with the odd trees jutting out of it awkwardly, some that are completely choked in vines and ivy, and some that ooze such a menacing aura, they look both lived in and abandoned at the same time.

And because Fae generally do not need streets to travel around, most of the wide roads that humans used for transportation have been taken over by bazaars and stalls and tents. There are still narrower roads and alleyways for pedestrians but even these are punctuated by the oddly placed stall here and there.

Whatever feat of organization and construction the humans managed to achieve in Arkham has been completely swallowed up by the wonderful disarray that results when Faes decide they want to live together like humans do… including their form of government.

Because unlike Krypton or Thorul, Arkham is more democratic—in its own way. Instead of everyone voting in for their next leader, the heads of families or clans vote amongst themselves. But Kara hasn’t paid much attention to politics most of her life, until recently.

And it’s because she paid attention to politics that she’s now on the run with a wolf who, by all intents and purposes, married her and got herself banished in the process, eternally cut off from her kind.

 

 

 

If Kara thought Lena would hate Arkham, she was sorely mistaken.

The moment the forests of Thorul gives way to the miserable streets of Arkham, Kara notices the change in Lena’s demeanor.

Her eyes dart around with an odd mix of curiosity and general suspicion of everything, her nose wrinkles from time to time, which Kara found adorable, but Lena’s demeanor is much more relaxed, as if the chaos of Arkham is something she can live with.

Before entering Arkham, they both agreed that they would spend a few nights shifting from one inn to the next to avoid whoever is chasing Kara. If Lena is at all interested as to why Kara is even being chased in the first place, she doesn’t say. But they both agree that staying in one place for too long is not safe.

They also agreed that Kara should cover at least the lower half of her face. So, she tied her hair back, and tore a swath from one of the black shirts, using it to cover her face from the bridge of her nose, down. Lena doesn’t look too happy about this but again, she doesn’t say anything.

The first inn is close by the border, a low-rise building, suspiciously well-maintained. It has none of the Fae flair that some of the other buildings beside it have and instead looks as if it hasn’t been changed since whoever owns it took over when the humans left.

Kara has never been to a human settlement. Other than the thralls that work where she used to live, she’s never spoken to one, especially one that is not enthralled by a vampire. She absolutely refuses to equate them to animals though, knowing that they are capable of feats of intellect far above common cattle.

So, she’s not exactly sure if the interior of the inn is also modeled after a typical human settlement or inn, but there’s really nothing much inside, except for a reservation desk, gray walls, marble floor and dull, fluorescent lighting.

Behind the reservation desk is a goblin, muttering to himself amongst trinkets scattered about.

“Hi!” Kara says as brightly as she can despite the intense burning in her throat.

The goblin trains its eyes on Kara and is about to say something when it glances at Lena.

“Is she with you?” the goblin asks, his beady eyes narrowing.

“Yes,” Kara answers, smiling at Lena who doesn’t return her smile.

The goblin scoffs. “Well, if you’re looking for a place to stay, good luck. Not many establishments will accept a disgraced Thorulian bitch.”

Something about the way he spoke, the look he gives Lena, the sneer afterwards, broke something inside Kara.

She feels the muscles on her face tighten. She is aware of Lena touching her shoulders, but she shrugs her off and grabs the goblin by his tiny neck and lifts him, easily, so that they are staring at each other, eye to eye.

“Are you saying I can’t bring my mate with me?” Kara asks, her voice gravelly and low. She can feel her fangs extending, feel her thirst intensifying.

The goblin, for his part, looks like he’s about to break down in tears.

“L—look. I’m sorry. I really am… b—but the wolves… they control traffic between—aaagh!” He never gets to finish what he’s about to say as Kara tosses him to the farthest wall. It’s not enough to knock him unconscious but its enough to leave him a blubbering mess.

“P—please. I really can’t let her in. No one w—will,” he says, doubled over, his head tucked between his arms.

But Kara can’t stop. Her whole body is brimming with anger as she stalks towards him. An offense has been done to Lena and she will not let it stand. Nobody speaks ill of Lena.

Nobody.

She’s about to pick him up again when Lena is suddenly standing in front of her, cupping her face and gently tracing patterns around her eyes.

“Red,” Lena says and immediately, Kara understands. She changes her direction and easily picks up the reservation desk, sending it sailing just above the whimpering goblin. It smashes to the wall, its pieces raining down on the goblin and knocking him out.

“Come on,” Kara mutters, feeling much better. “We can at least stay in a tavern or diner or something and let the day pass there.”

Lena looks at her and nods.

Before they leave, she hears Lena drop a couple of coins on the floor.

 

 

 

Fortunately for them, there is a tavern open just across the already crowded street. Kara sees Lena look at the sky and she understands the worry that creases Lena’s face. The sun will be out in a few minutes and they still haven’t found shelter. She hopes they fare better, or at least will be allowed to stay in the tavern until the sun sets.

They squeeze through the many Fae littering the streets until they finally arrive at the tavern. Inside is busy and Kara is at least grateful that no one raises their head to look at the newcomers. They take a corner booth sitting opposite each other, with Lena keeping her head down, letting her raven hair cover her face.

Kara’s heart breaks as she sees this, momentarily forgetting her thirst. With one hand, she covers Lena’s hand on top of the table, and with the other she tucks Lena’s hair back and cups her face. Lena stares at her.

“Don’t ever be ashamed of that scar. That scar saved my life,” Kara says, softly. She smiles at Lena who stares at her and nods. “Besides, there’s bound to be someplace we can stay in here.”

“Hi, my name is—” a woman, tall, slim with sharp features and kind, brown eyes, interrupts their moment but immediately pauses when she sees Lena.

Having learned her lesson, Kara decides to preempt whatever the woman is about to say regarding Lena.

“Listen, I know what you’re going to say. You don’t accept banished wolves from Thorul. But we promise we won’t cause a scene. We just need to stay until sunset—”

“—Sam,” the woman continues, as if she didn’t just hear Kara. “I’ll be your server this morning—is what I was going to say.”

“Oh. So, uhmm. Sam,” Kara says, rubbing the back of her neck and looking at Lena who is still trying to make herself as small as possible. “Do you think the owner would mind if we stay here until sunset? We can pay.” She adds the last sentence hastily, hoping it would at least buy them some time.

Sam straightens up, looks at the counter at the far end of the tavern and then at the clock just above it.

“I’m almost certain he’s going to kick you out,” she says with a wry smile. Kara’s heart falters at this and she extends her hand to Lena who is now looking like she’s trying to make herself even smaller. Sam, however, looks at the two and sighs.

“Look, if you can wait for an hour and try not to get yourselves noticed, I have a spare room. It’s not gonna be big and the bed is not the best, but it’s dark, you have your own bathroom, and you can rest there. You two look like you need sleep.”

Kara looks at Lena who narrows her eyes at Sam but says nothing. Instead she hangs her head and lets her hair fall, once again covering her face.

“Are you sure it’s okay?” Kara asks Sam, suddenly uncertain.

“I was once given kindness when I didn’t deserve it and I was told that I should pass it along when I have the opportunity. So, I guess this is me passing it along. Don’t make me regret it,” Sam says, shrugging. “Now then, why don’t you two order something while you wait? We have fresh blood and steaks.”

Kara’s thirst returns in full force but is immediately tempered when Lena covers her hand this time. “I—uhmm… the blood, what is it?” Kara asks, clearing her throat.

“Oh, human, of course. Although, I’m not really sure where they’ve sourced it”

“Do you have any animal blood?” Kara’s voice cracks and she’s somewhat grateful for the mask, otherwise, Sam would see that her fangs are extending slowly.

Sam, however, looks perplexed. “No. Why would we need animal blood?”

“Uhmm,” Kara clears her throat. “I have a specific diet. Just, get us a steak please. For her.” Kara gestures at Lena. “And if you can refrain from saying it’s for a wolf?”

“Sure,” Sam says with an understanding nod.

“Glass,” Lena says so softly that Kara almost misses it. But Sam doesn’t.

“Glass? Of water?” Sam asks, looking at Lena.

“No. Glass,” Lena says, repeating herself, still keeping her head down.

“So, just an empty glass and a steak?” Sam repeats and Lena nods. Sam turns to Kara. “Are you sure you don’t want anything? Because even with the mask, I can see red veins starting to—”

“I’m fine,” Kara cuts her off. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but I really am fine.”

Sam pauses, sighs. “Okay, I’ll be back with your empty glass and steak.”

When Sam has left, Lena reaches over to Kara and traces the red veins on her face. The amount of worry creasing Lena’s face makes Kara just want to smoothen it out, to shower her with assurances and let her know that everything is going to be okay.

But she knows Lena is smarter than that.

“I can make it. It’s just one more hour. And we already have somewhere to sleep for the morning. I just need to last one more hour,” Kara says. It’s the most honest thing she can say, which is not much of an assurance. But Lena doesn’t seem to be the type to fall for assurances.

“Sun.”

“I know,” Kara says, nodding and turning to Sam in the far end of the tavern who is busy putting things on a tray. “But she knows I’m a vampire, so maybe she knows a way to get to her place without exposing me to sunlight.”

Lena seems to be satisfied and when she senses Sam approaching, she lowers her hand.

“Here’s the glass and the steak,” Sam says, smiling kindly at Lena. “I tried to pick one with some extra fat for you. You look like you could use some. I’ll be back to let you know when I’m leaving. Wave at me if you need anything, okay?”

She doesn’t wait for them to respond before turning around and rushing off to another customer.

The meat in front of Lena is still somewhat bloody and Kara does her best to not stare. But Lena, of course, has other plans.

She places her wrist on her mouth and bites down hard, drawing blood, which she immediately catches using the empty glass.

Kara watches with rapt attention as the glass half fills before Lena removes it from under her hand and pushes it over to Kara’s.

“Kara must feed,” she says simply. Kara can still see Lena’s wrist bleeding and every fiber of her being wants to jump over to Lena’s side and take her hand instead. A part of Kara knows that in any other situation, that’s exactly what she would have done. But there’s a bigger part of Kara, a louder one, that acknowledges that Lena is once again saving her from embarrassing herself, causing a scene, and getting them both kicked out, and still finding a way to feed her as discreetly as possible.

So, against her very nature, Kara reaches for the glass, lifts her mask, and drinks the glass half-full of blood, which is a bit harder than she thought because her fangs are in the way. But that hardly matters.

Kara was right. Lena really has spoiled any kind of blood for her. The little that she’s drank quiets the inferno in her throat. It calms her senses. And there is always that lingering warmth that spreads throughout her body.

She feels both powerful and powerless. Like she can conquer worlds, unstoppable, and yet Lena reaches out to trace the red veins on her face, now slowly diminishing, and suddenly she’s a pile of mush, suddenly the world is centered and Lena is the only thing she sees.

She’s not quite sure if it’s the blood or their mating bond or probably both, but she now understands how wolves can be so loyal to their pack and to their mate. At this very moment, she’s quite certain she would walk out into the sun to save Lena and it would be worth it.

Lena, meanwhile, seemingly satisfied that Kara is no longer one breeze away from turning feral, licks at her wrist, then, when it has closed, proceeds to look nonplussed at the steak. Kara watches her, utterly entertained as Lena tries to figure out how to eat a whole slab of meat.

First, she tries to bite into it, pauses, then picks it up with both hands and rips it apart. It is still too big to fit into her mouth, however, so she drops one half back into the huge plate, and proceeds to rip the other one to small pieces.

This seems to satisfy her, and she starts eating the steak, one ripped piece at a time. If she had any qualms about the taste, she doesn’t say, but she eats it slowly, carefully chewing. Eventually, she finishes the whole thing and looks at Kara.

“You want more?” Kara asks, barely able to hide her smile.

Lena looks down but nods which Kara decides is the most adorable thing ever and she couldn’t help but cup Lena’s face. “We’ll get you some more.”

She waves at Sam who waves back and immediately strolls over to them.

“Yes?” Sam asks.

“One more steak, please,” Kara says, looking at Lena who is also looking at Sam expectantly.

“Water,” Lena adds. Sam looks at the bloody glass, then at Kara then back to Lena.

“Okay so one more steak and a glass of water,” Sam says before heading towards the counter.

They spend the rest of their wait with Kara watching Lena slowly, methodically, eat her second slab of steak, this time with much more finesse than the first one. Once all of the meat has been ripped off the bones, she drinks half the water in the glass and uses the other half to wash her hands.

“You know they have a room here where you can wash your hands, right?” Kara asks. “Besides, you’re the only one I know in this entire establishment that cares that your hands are bloody.”

“Room?”

“Oh. Right,” Kara says, frowning. This was awkward. “I’ll show you, later.”

 

 

 

 After Lena pays with a coin that covers her steaks and a generous tip, they wait quietly until the shift change.

When Sam heads over to them, she is no longer wearing an apron over a tight-fitting black dress but is instead in jeans and a loose shirt. She smiles at Lena, then at Kara.

“Ready to go?” she asks.

“I have a question before we go,” Kara says, seeing the worried look on Lena. “How do we get to your place while avoiding the sun?”

Sam laughs. “You really are new to Arkham, aren’t you?”

Kara shakes her head. “Not exactly, just never traveled by day.”

“I see,” Sam says then gestures to a corner behind Lena. “You see those stairs leading down? It’s directly connected to a network of tunnels that nightwalkers, such as yourself, use to avoid the sun. I don’t normally like using it even though it’s faster because it can be dangerous, but you two can handle yourselves in a fight, right?”

Kara and Lena both look at each other but don’t say anything. They simply nod at Sam who starts walking towards the stairs.

“Oh, and one more thing, when we’re down there. Don’t look me in the eyes. I can’t talk either so you’re going to have to trust and just follow me. It’ll be about fifteen minutes’ walk. I’ll explain the rest later,” Sam says with a wink once they’ve reached the bottom of the stairs. She pushes the door open and immediately Kara can sense a world of difference.

 

 

 

There is a repressive aura down in the tunnels as they closely follow Sam. It isn’t all too difficult to avoid looking her in the eyes as the tunnels are narrow and Sam is walking in front of them. There is no source of light whatsoever which is fine by Kara and Lena.

The tunnels are circular, built by humans for something else. For what, exactly, Kara can’t tell, but from time to time, she could sense the heat of the outside world, perhaps through some shuttered vent.

Every so often, they come across different Faes scuttling along in some corner of a tunnel, some are feeding, some having sex, some doing both at the same time. Most, Kara figures, are there just like them, trying to get from one place to the next while avoiding the sun. But whenever one would directly cross Sam’s path, they would slink back, most being reduced to a stuttering, blubbering mess while a few would run screaming the other direction.

 

Eventually, Sam stops, turns a sharp corner and Kara can see a small door, barely tall enough for any of them to fit through without having to bend down. She knocks lightly.

“Mrs. Stein? It’s me, Sam. Close your eyes and open the door please,” Sam calls out softly.

“Sam?” the voice on the other side asks. “Why are you in the tunnels?”

“Yes, it’s me. I have a nightwalker with me.”

Kara hears some shuffling before a halfling opens the door, her hand covering her eyes.

Sam ducks down and walks past the halfling and up some stairs where Kara loses sight of her. After a second, Kara hears a sigh and Sam ducks back down.

“Come on in,” she says, gesturing at Kara and Lena who are still outside. “You can open your eyes now, Mrs. Stein,” she adds.

Mrs. Stein, in a short, floral dress, cinched at the waist, drops her hand and blinks at Kara and Lena who also walk past her and up wooden, creaking stairs.

“I’d like everyone to be quiet. I just put Ruby down,” Mrs. Stein said, silently following behind them.

Up the stairs, Kara finds herself in a warm, if small, house. There’s a couch in front of a stone fireplace with a rug and a low table. The walls are bare, except for some empty shelves. The wooden floorboards creak and complain as they walk, and everything looks old and tattered. The whole house is lit by a single bulb, hanging from a wire from the ceiling.

But Sam gestures around proudly. “I know it’s not much, but it’s a roof over our head and will keep you from the sun.”

Lena, for her part, doesn’t say anything, but Kara can see how her eyes are darting around, as if memorizing every inch of what she can see.

“Well, Sam, I should best get home. Thank you for the veal and the carrots,” Mrs. Stein says, waving something wrapped in paper at Sam. “Is it safe to take the tunnels?” she asks with a cheeky grin.

Kara sees Sam roll her eyes. “So help me, Mrs. Stein, if I find out you used the tunnels, and lived to tell about it, you will never see a single carrot or drink of ale for the rest of your life. I will personally see to that.”

“Yes, yes,” Mrs. Stein waves her off. “Nightwalker,” the halfling turns to Kara, “I’m about to open the door, you might want to take a step back.”

Kara nods and Sam points her to a room with a closed door. “There’s your room, you can hide there.”

Lena heads her off, Kara following closely behind, and the room is just a single bed, with a cabinet, a door to what Kara suspects may be the bathroom, and not much room for anything else.

She hears Mrs. Stein wave her goodbye to Sam, open the door, and then close it.

“Okay, it’s safe now,” Sam calls out softly. “You can leave your bags in the room and join me for a night cap, or you can go to sleep, whatever you want.”

Lena looks at Kara, then removes her sling bag, leaving it on the bed. She carefully proceeds to remove her clothes, still struggling with the shirt and the sandals, before shifting to her wolf form, giving them less space to maneuver about. Lena quickly exits the room. Kara takes the cue and shrugs off her backpack, but keeps her mask on, following Lena out to join Sam.

“I want to pretend I’m a great innkeeper and host, but I honestly only have halfling ale. It’s really good though, if you want?” Sam offers as soon as they exit their room. Kara shakes her head.

Sam gestures to the couch while Lena slumps down in front of the fireplace and huffs, closing her eyes. But by the way her tail softly swishes and her ears twitch, Kara knows she’s still awake.

“I’ve forgotten how big they can get,” Sam says as she sits beside Kara on the couch, looking at Lena. “Ale?” she asks Kara again. Kara shakes her head again.

“You never even asked for our names,” Kara says, her eyes narrowing.

“You’re already in my domain and you’re just now wondering why I never asked for your name?” Sam quips with an amused smirk, her gaze still on Lena. “Is she the runt?”

If Lena is offended, she doesn’t let it show, but Kara knows she’s listening.

“I doubt it,” Kara says, honestly. “She’s still young, so she still has some ways to go before she stops growing. But her circumstances weren’t so good back in Thorul, and she never had an opportunity to grow there… maybe now…” she tapers off, a million thoughts suddenly crashing in on her. But she lets them all go and instead turns to Sam. “So, why did you take us in?”

“Do you always question every kindness given to you?” Sam asks, hiding her grin behind her mug of ale.

“In my experience, no one’s ever just kind. Except her,” Kara says, looking at Lena. “And for her kindness, she got marked and banished. So, now she’s bound to me forever. She will never have pups and will probably never know peace.”

Lena opens her scarred eye, looks at Kara briefly before closing it again.

“Well, I suppose I can’t fault you for feeling that way, Kara Zor-El,” Sam smiles despite Kara snapping her head towards Sam. Immediately, Lena is beside Kara, somehow deftly avoiding the low table that is separating them.

“Relax,” Sam says, raising her hand in surrender. “I don’t mean you harm. You asked why I didn’t ask for your names. I’m a demon. I know names. It’s my thing.” She turns to the open door beside Kara and Lena’s room. “And do try to keep it down. Mrs. Stein said she just put my daughter to sleep. I would like a few hours of peace at least before she wakes up.”

Kara reaches out to touch Lena who is still looking at Sam, her shoulders tense. She scratches her behind the ears, and this somewhat relaxes Lena. But she doesn’t go back to her spot by the fireplace. Instead, completely unaware of how big she is, she lets her head rest on Kara’s lap, while the rest of her body sits on the floor. It doesn’t look particularly comfortable, but the way she visibly relaxes under Kara’s attentive ear scratches, melts something inside Kara.

“I’ve never seen one so… placid,” Sam says.

“She’s only like this with me. You should have seen her act like she’s twice her size when we were confronted by her Alpha, teeth bared and growling even though she could probably be knocked out in one—” and here Lena growls lowly. “Okay, okay. I’m sorry. You were very brave, defending me. My big, strong, little wolf,” Kara says, placating Lena with more head pats and scratches. Lena huffs but doesn’t move.

“That’s cute,” Sam says, chuckling.

Kara hears Lena whine and when she looks down, Lena snatches the mask off her face as she bites and yanks on it.

Kara chuckles. “Yes, I guess you’re right. Our host has been more than generous and hospitable. It seems rude that I’m still hiding behind a mask.”

Lena huffs before resting her head on Kara’s lap again.

“So, do I want to know why you’re hiding?” Sam asks.

“Running, actually,” Kara answers slowly, keenly aware that Lena is intently listening. “I—uhm… Let’s say I’m supposed to inherit something I don’t like and never wanted. But by our laws, no one else can have it, but me. Unless I die, of course. And that is also an option, I guess. But it’s complicated so I think they’d rather just drag me back there and insist on me taking it.”

Sam huffs. “Rich people problem. I’m so glad my only problem is who will baby sit my daughter when Mrs. Stein dies, which hopefully won’t be for a few more years.”

“Aren’t you concerned that I’m dragging you and your daughter into my problem?” Kara asks. “There’s a strong possibility that they will track me down here.”

Sam looks at Kara, then at Lena. “She doesn’t seem to mind.”

“Yes, but she—she’s complicated. I’m still not sure why she even helped me, but I would never have made it this far without her. And she lost everything because of it. I really don’t want that to happen to you and your daughter.” Kara looks at Sam who glances at the door behind them.

“My daughter is the most precious being to me. She’s my person, as much as you are Lena’s,” Sam says to Kara. Lena, upon hearing her name, turns to Sam, looks at Kara, then huffs before settling back down on Kara’s lap.

Sam continues, her voice suddenly flat and distant. “So, trust me, when I say that I will, quite literally, level Arkham to the ground, if anybody touches my daughter.”

Kara is about to ask something when Lena’s head snaps up and whines at Kara.

“What does she want?” Sam asks.

“I’m not sure…” Kara says uncertainly. Lena looks at Kara then licks at her throat and only then does Kara notice. “Oh. Right.”

Sam quirks an eyebrow.

“She can sense when I’m hungry,” Kara explains. She sees Lena stand, pause at Sam, then head to their room.

“I think she tried to say good night to me?” Sam asks.

“I think she at least likes you, which is good. But shouldn’t you be resting too?”

Sam shakes her head. “You know that saying ‘No rest for the wicked’ is quite literal for demons, right? Most of us don’t sleep. I certainly don’t. But I do like the peace and quiet when my daughter is asleep.”

Kara frowns. “Hold on… but that means—” her thoughts are cut off when she hears Lena from the room call her.

Sam chuckles softly. “Go on. Best not to keep your food waiting.”

“Shut up,” Kara murmurs with a grin as she walks past Sam.

 

 

 

Lena, as she should have expected, is already naked and sitting on the bed, when she enters their tiny room. There is a narrow walkway between the bed and the closet and the door that Kara thinks must be the bathroom.

Kara tells Lena that she will bathe first before she feeds which Lena acknowledges with a slight nod. But curiosity gets the better of Lena and she follows Kara into the bathroom.

Inside is a small tub, big enough for just one person and Lena watches Kara attentively. There’s something about the focused, clinical way that Lena watches everything Kara is doing that fascinates Kara and puts her at ease at the same time. And when she’s all washed up, Lena looks at her expectantly.

“You want to try it?”

Lena nods, and Kara proceeds to fill the tub with water.

Kara tries to teach Lena how to do it for herself but she keeps handing the soap to Kara until Kara finally understands and she proceeds to wash Lena who looks, for the first time since she’s seen her, completely happy.

After they’ve both dried and changed into a new pair of black shirt and trousers, Lena reminds Kara that she needs to feed and extends her wrist.

Kara looks at Lena. “Uhmm. Do you mind if I…” Kara tapers off, glancing at the vein on Lena’s neck, the one just above her mating bite.

Lena, of course understands and scoots closer before exposing her neck.

Kara swallows, her throat catching fire. She looks at Lena who is watching her and the fire spreads from her throat to her chest and all the way to the pit of her stomach. Her mouth hovers, her fangs itching to sink deep. But she smells Lena, her scent coming from the mating bite is strong and alluring and Kara couldn’t help but lick her mark first before turning to Lena’s jugular, sinking her fangs in and—

It is bliss.

The way Lena is warm and almost melts in her arms. The way Lena’s blood tastes just sweet and full enough to leave Kara wanting more and more. The way Lena makes small, delightful noises. The way everything about her is intoxicating and Kara can’t help but to just keep drowning in it, so she presses Lena closer, sinks her fangs in deeper and draws as much blood as she can, but she can’t get enough.

Her entire being is craving for more of Lena and she presses in deeper.

Until Lena’s whimpers turn into full on whine and she can feel Lena withering in her arms, but she can’t stop. She needs to have more, more, more—

STOP!

It is almost painful the way she had to pull herself away, but it’s too late. Lena is pale, her breathing shallow.

“No,” Kara mutters, her hands trembling. “No, no… Lena?”

Lena groans, and opens her eyes blearily, squinting at Kara. “Rest, Kara,” she whispers softly, forcing a smile before closing her eyes.

“Lena?” Kara calls again, softly.

Lena groans in response. “Rest. Kara. Please,” she whispers, lifting her hands and cupping Kara’s face. Her hand drops down and Kara panics.

She can still hear her heartbeat, steady but not as strong as before.

“I’m sorry, Lena,” she whispers, but Lena’s already passed out in her arms.

She gathers the smaller woman and places her carefully in bed before Kara climbs in beside her. She holds on Lena’s waist and watches the steady rise and fall of Lena’s chest.

Eventually, Kara succumbs to sleep where she dreams of strange, tall buildings, of sunlight, of flying and of Lena, with a ring on her finger, calling her to dinner. She dreams of twins rushing to her, calling her Mom. She dreams they are happy. She dreams they are home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is evening and Slunras the goblin is grumbling to himself.

Today is not his day.

He had gotten into an argument with his wife before he headed to work at dawn. When he gets to the inn, he finds that the idiot on duty before him had messed with his trinkets and he had to put them back together again.

He was almost too happy when his doors open and he finds himself with a strange masked woman and a Thorulian bi—err wolf. But he had managed to offend the masked woman and gotten himself thrown to a wall, with the reception desk flying and smashing just on top of him.

Of course, his boss blamed it on him, for not being hospitable enough and the cost of the desk was taken from his pay.

The rest of the day is slow but Slunras is already in a sullen mood that he gets into even more arguments with Faes than he normally does.

And now this.

 

They walked in seconds earlier. Vampires, one tall and blonde and the other shorter with brown hair. The blonde one looks surly and menacing. In stark contrast, the brunette looks kind and warm.

“Hi,” the brunette greets him, her sharp fangs gleaming in the poor fluorescent lighting. “My name is Imra and this is my wife Gayle.” She gestures to the two of them. Gayle, the surly one, narrows her eyes at Slunras and it sends an unpleasant shudder down his spine.

Still, Slunras smiles as kindly as he can. “Yes, we have rooms for you. We also have fresh blood for whenever you need it.”

“Oh, uhmm, we’re not staying. We’re just wondering if you’ve seen a blonde vampire this morning. She’s about Gayle’s height with blue eyes and a bit more muscular.

Poor Slunras tries to recall, but all he remembers is the blonde with the red eyes and the wolf, so he shakes his head.

“No, I don’t recall anyone with those descriptions passing by here,” he sputters as Gayle the surly steps closer. There’s something about the way she stares at Slunras that disarms him in the most undesirable way.

“Are you quite sure?” Imra the kind asks.

“Y—yes,” Slunras says, aware that Gayle the surly is stalking closer. “What is she doing?”

Imra smiles. “Oh, you see, my wife… well, she can make people tell the truth. Unfortunately, it’s never pleasant when she does it. So, I suggest you start telling us the truth.”

Poor Slunras trembles and tries to run but Gayle the surly catches up to him, her strong hands sinking into his shoulders.

Over the next few hours, Slunras would continually scream, his hands on his head, as nightmares plague his thoughts. The other workers will find Slunras beyond help in a few hours. They will rush him to a healer and send for his wife. But a few hours more and they will mercifully put him out of his misery.

 

 

 

The two vampires had long since left Slunras with the information they need.

It’s not much but now they know she’s with a banished wolf.

In truth, they were with him for less than five minutes. It would have been shorter if Imra had not insisted on trying to be nice first.

“Should we tell Kal that the wolves omitted that little detail about the banished wolf?” Gayle asks as they head over to the tavern.

Imra smiles. “No. Not yet. We can tell him once we find Kara. Besides, I don’t think Kal would like to start a fight with Thorul. Not with that Alpha leading them.”

“And once we find Kara? What do we do with the wolf?” Gayle asks, but she already knows. The smile on her wife’s lips is cold and doesn’t quite reach her hazel blue eyes. Imra opens the door to the tavern and looks back at her wife.

“What wolf?”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Lena is groggy and tired, but most worryingly, alone when she wakes up.

She doesn’t recall shifting to her wolf form that morning before she fell asleep. All she remembers is Kara’s lips on her neck, the strength of her arm around Lena, strength enough for Lena to surrender, to succumb to the sweet, comforting darkness that edged around her the moment Kara sank her fangs into her throat. Lena knew she was going to be alright. Kara felt good wrapped around her. Kara is strong and sturdy.

But now, Lena feels vulnerable and weak. Her entire body is pulsing with a kind of fragility she’s never felt before. Normally, shifting to her wolf form allows her to heal and recover swiftly. But, right now, she feels like weakness is her normal state. She’s not healing. Or at least not quickly enough.

She whines and yawns and then she hears it.

“Lena?”

Kara’s voice sounds different. Softer. Gentler. Cautious. She sounds exactly the way pups would sound whenever they knew they were in trouble and were relying on the fact that they are vulnerable little pups so that they’d be forgiven.

But it doesn’t matter. Kara sounds okay. She sounds strong. She doesn’t seem hungry.

“Are you awake?”

Lena huffs in response. She gets off the bed and though she feels like everything inside her is soft and brittle, she pads towards Kara who is standing by the doorway. She stops in front of Kara who scratches her behind the ear. And while it doesn’t make her feel better, it feels good, so she leans into it, wanting more. She’ll never get enough of Kara touching her.

But eventually, the room becomes too small for Lena and she needs to shake off her little aches.

She nudges her mate and Kara moves aside. Outside the room, where there is relatively more space, she stretches and yawns, hoping it would jumpstart something in her to help her heal, but it doesn’t do much, so Lena huffs and sits on her rump, looking at Kara who can’t seem to look at Lena in the eyes.

To make matters worse, something sticky has just latched onto her stomach.

“Ruby!”

Lena looks down and sees a teetering human pup. She’s not actually sure if that’s what they call their pups but that’s what she will call this short human. It has curly brown hair, strange, liquid yellow-brown eyes, and plump, pink cheeks. And while Lena isn’t an expert in the common tongue, she’s quite certain the human pup was speaking another language… or trying to spray as much of its mouth excretions on Lena.

Lena tries to move but when she sees the human pup suddenly sit down, losing its balance, Lena stays still, afraid she might have hurt the strange thing. But then it stands up again, teeters for a bit and then latches back on to Lena who now has no idea what to do. She looks at Sam who seems wary and Kara who looks at Lena with an expression Lena has never seen her make. It’s like she’s worried but also amused.

“Ruby, honey, come to Mama,” Sam says carefully, her arms open, beckoning the pup to her. But the human pup, who Lena assumes is Ruby, just looks at Sam before burrowing deeper into Lena’s stomach, latching on to her tighter. Lena now mourns the fact that whatever is causing Ruby to be sticky is now also on her fur. And it’s so difficult to clean that spot.

But the thought that Kara can now clean it for her suddenly makes it just a little bit bearable.

Normally, Lena would be concerned, of course. Her stomach is a vulnerable spot, and no self-respecting wolf would allow anybody to just touch them there. But she can’t quite comprehend how this tiny thing could harm her. Now, if only it also didn’t have sticky hands and wasn’t excreting fluids from its mouth…

“Lena?” Kara calls to her and she turns to look at her mate. “Are you okay? Can Sam approach you to take Ruby?”

Lena looks down at the pup and then at Sam and she nods once.

Sam, on her knees, slowly, warily, crawls to Lena who keeps an eye on her. When she’s within arm’s reach of Ruby, Sam pulls the pup to her.

And almost immediately, Lena regrets allowing Sam to do this. She much prefers the sticky, wet sensation on her stomach than the grating, high pitched sound that the pup is somehow able to produce from its tiny mouth. It shouldn’t be that loud, Lena thinks. None of the pups in the den were ever that loud. Why is it so loud?

Suddenly, she remembers Sam’s words in the morning before they went to bed, how she wants at least a few hours of peace before her daughter wakes up and Lena thinks perhaps this is what she meant.

And now the pup is not just wailing, tears are also falling from its eyes.

In desperation, and because Lena now has no idea how to cover her ears, deeply regretting not being strong enough to shift to her human form, she remembers the thing that made Kara happy, that stopped the tears from falling.

She’s not sure if it works with human pups too, but Lena is just about willing to try anything to make it stop.

So, she strides over to Sam, sits on her rump, and starts licking the pup’s face.

It startles the pup for a second, and then it makes another kind of high-pitched noise. This one, however, is much more pleasant and the tears stop falling. And when Lena stops, she is rewarded with two sticky hands to both sides of her snout and a very gummy bite to her nose.

“No, Ruby!” Sam says, her eyes wide in shock, but Lena doesn’t mind. No pup has ever licked her nose before, even if it’s not an actual lick, but a very wet, very gummy bite. Lena will take it.

So, Lena gives her one parting lick to the face, hopefully assuring Sam that what Ruby the human pup did was okay, before she strides calmy back to Kara’s side who wipes her snout with her shirt and scratches her at the back of the ears.

“So, I have a feeling we will need to bathe you again. Ruby’s hands were in a jam jar just seconds before she found you. I can’t imagine how sticky that is,” Kara says, but she’s not looking at Lena.

Lena knows there’s something wrong, but because she can’t shift to her human form, she doesn’t know how to ask. And even if she can, her limited vocabulary is just going to make it more frustrating. Kara feels bad. That much she can tell, but Lena can’t figure out why.

She tries to remember what she had seen from the other wolves, how they made their mates feel better. But she had very limited interactions with them, she can’t quite pinpoint anything that applies to her situation right now. Only, Lena knows she has to do something. Because something is wrong, and Kara won’t look at her. She’s still kind and warm and she doesn’t need to feed.

Lena begins to fear that Kara might be rejecting her mark. It’s not completely unheard of. She’s heard rumors about other wolves eventually rejecting their marks and taking another mate. It’s happened before. It never ends well… at least, for one of them.

But then again, Lena understands that Kara is not a wolf. She’s not bound to their loyalties, not bound to the same compulsions. Lena had hoped that Kara would accept the mark completely, but there is always the possibility that she eventually rejects it.

Lena just didn’t think it would happen so soon.

But, even if she eventually gets rejected, Kara is still Lena’s mate at the moment, and Lena will hold up her end of this bond.

So, she turns to Kara and licks her on the cheeks once. She gets the result she wants when Kara smiles at her. It’s a small smile, not like her usual big, toothy smile. But it’s a smile.

“Come on, let’s get that sticky mess out of your fur,” Kara murmurs, giving her a head pat.

This makes Lena forget her momentary quandary and she doesn’t waste time. Even before Kara tells her where to go, she’s already headed to the bathroom.

She’s going to get bathed again. By Kara. Her mate. Today, she’s been licked by a pup and now her mate is going to wash her. All in all, not counting the fact that she might also be losing her mate and her bond, it’s a good day. And if there’s one thing Lena has learned in all her years of being a social pariah, all her years of near isolation, it’s that it’s good to take things one day at a time.

So, that’s what Lena tells herself. Today is already turning out to be a good day. There’s no need to worry any further than that, right now.

She hears Kara tell Sam what they’re going to do, and Sam apologizes. She also tells Kara about something called ‘taps’ and which one is hot or cold, and that Lena might prefer a ‘look warm’ water, which Lena doesn’t understand. Kara thanks her, assures that it’s okay and that Lena likes baths.

And it’s true.

Except Lena’s not sure how to transfer water to the bath without hands so she patiently waits for Kara. She enters the tub, which now seems much smaller than last night, and sits patiently and proudly for her mate.

And when Kara enters the bathroom, she’s naked… which confuses Lena.

“I don’t want to get my clothes wet,” Kara says with a wry smile upon seeing Lena’s tilted head.

Lena huffs and watches in anticipation.

And if that morning’s bath near melted Lena with sheer happiness, this evening’s bath is quite extraordinary.

For one, the water is not cold. And Lena’s never felt water that’s as warm as the sun on lazy summer days. She feels it seep into her fur, spreading warmth throughout her and all her little aches and pains start to go away. Lena feels like melting in the best way possible.

But then Kara starts rubbing her stomach with some soap and Lena feels odd. It’s not the same as with Ruby the human pup. With Ruby, she felt like she just didn’t have a choice, that moving would hurt the fragile thing. But now, with Kara rubbing her there, she feels the need to just tilt back and let herself be as vulnerable as she can be.

There is safety in Kara’s touch and everything in Lena just wants to surrender, to sink into the tub of sun water and let Kara rub her stomach all day, every day. It doesn’t matter. She trusts her mate.

But then, it’s over and Kara is trying to dry her with a towel, which is a gargantuan task with Lena’s thick fur. So, in due consideration for her mate, and with all the towels she’s about to use, Lena just shakes the excess water away. It’s much easier for Kara to towel herself off, after all. This gives Lena the added bonus of hearing Kara laugh. She thinks she’s never going to get tired of hearing that sound.

And so, with that done, and Lena still unable to shift into human form, Lena starts to—

“You’re hungry. I should have known,” Kara mutters with a sigh. “I’m sorry you’ve been saddled with an inattentive mate.”

Before Lena could react, Kara walks out of the bathroom and changes back into her clothes.

She follows Kara to the living room where she finds her talking with Sam who is carrying Ruby.

“Well, I fed on her this morning, so she needs a lot more than a couple of steaks to recover,” Kara is saying. Lena can hear the hesitation in Kara’s voice.

Sam hums thoughtfully. “I know a few meat shops that might have something for her, but it’s definitely going to be cold.” She turns to Lena. “Do you mind cold meats?”

Lena thinks. Does it really matter? She’s only had fresh meat a few times, most recently the deer Kara brought her. Most of the time, she gets scraps. So, will she mind if her whole buck or pig or sheep is cold, she doubts it. She huffs.

“Well, it would be faster if I get it,” Sam says. “Can I trust you two with Ruby?”

Kara winces. “I just washed Lena. It was terrible trying to get the jam out of her undercoat.”

“Just try and keep her out of the jam jar. I won’t be gone for more than an hour. Besides, she’s already sleepy. She’s not going to cause much carnage this time,” Sam says as she places Ruby on the couch.

Kara nods and goes to their bedroom while Lena slumps in front of the warm fireplace. She closes her eyes. She hears Kara give some coins to Sam, telling her to buy something extra for her and Ruby. Sam tries to give the money back and they bicker for a few minutes but eventually Kara wins out. She hears Sam coo at her daughter, telling her to be nice. She hears Sam leave and suddenly it’s just the three of them.

She hears Kara playing with Ruby. She hears them both giggling, the excited peals of laughter from the two of them suddenly making this humble house seem more alive. Lena imagines that Kara will be like that to their pups if they ever make any. But that’s really not possible, Lena knows that much.

While she was never allowed in the den during mating season, it’s not like the others don’t whisper stories or do stuff outside of mating season. And while Lena is mostly ignored, it also means she sees things she’d rather not see.

Also, she’s heard enough from some of the dams when they teach their pups what to expect during their first mating season. She’s never had a dam teach her anything, but she can listen and parse things for herself.

So, she’s sure Kara will never be a sire and Lena will never be a dam.

Which of course brings her back to her original conundrum. Kara eventually rejecting her mark.

She doesn’t know if Kara wants… what do they call vampire pups? Well, she’s not sure if Kara wants vampire pups. She knows enough to understand that Kara is royalty, which means she’s a higher vampire, one that was born a vampire and eventually stops aging. Higher vampires can sire vampire pups, at least according to one of the dams in the den.

And then there are the lower vampires, ones that were given the blood of a higher vampire, the gift of immortality. They can’t make vampire pups and their blood doesn’t make other vampires either.

Her reverie is broken when she feels something small touch her snout. When she opens her eyes, she sees Kara sitting a short distance from her and Ruby trying to grab Lena’s nose. At least her hands aren’t sticky this time.

“Is this okay, Lena?” Kara asks, warily, her hands are on Ruby, ready to snatch her if Lena doesn’t like it. She appreciates the concern, but Lena doesn’t really mind. She lays on her side to relay this.

Over the next hour, Ruby would climb all over Lena, gummily bite her ears, her snout, and her paw pads, and at one point try to chase Lena’s swishing tail. Eventually, Ruby becomes so exhausted that she falls asleep draped on Lena’s body. Kara tries to move Ruby but Lena growls.

She likes the comfortable weight. She doesn’t mind Ruby at all, even with mouth secretions.

Her head is now on Kara’s lap as they both sit by the fire. And she especially doesn’t mind the small rubs and pats that Kara gives her as they both stare into the fire.

“You would make a great mother, Lena. If only I could give you children of our own,” Kara whispers, and there’s longing there. “I had a dream last night, you know? I dreamt of a place where I’m not afraid of the sun. In my dream, I can fly. And I fly home to you. I think we’re married. We have those rings that humans have when they marry. Have you seen those?”

Lena’s not exactly sure what Kara is talking about, but she likes the sound of Kara’s voice.

“And you call to me, and even from a great distance, I can hear you. So, I fly over to you and I kiss you. We have twin children, and they look like you and me. They call me ‘Mama’. We have dinner that you prepared, and we tuck the children to bed and then we…”

Lena lifts her head enough to look at Kara but not jostle her entire body. She’s aware that if she moves too much, Ruby will fall off her.

“Well, we do… things that married couples do, you know?” Kara says and her voice is sheepish, which Lena finds adorable. But she’s still not quite sure what Kara means. She knows what ‘married’ means. It’s similar to being ‘bonded’… and… oh.

Lena likes that idea, even though she’s still not clear as to how it should work.

“I wish that world truly existed. It’s almost painful thinking about it. Because in that world, I can really protect you. I don’t need to feed off you, although you still feed me but with things you prepare. Wouldn’t that be a good world to live in?”

Lena agrees, except she likes feeding Kara. She likes being the thing that Kara goes to for sustenance. She supposes she just needs to eat more, too, so she can sustain herself and Kara. She thinks she should have eaten more steak this morning. But it doesn’t matter, she’s about to feast again which means she’ll be more prepared when Kara needs to feed.

But right now, despite the almost feverish weakness she feels, she’s quite content with her head on Kara’s lap and a human pup treating her like a bed. It feels like home.

 

 

 

 

Gayle stares at her wife.

“What?” Imra asks, her eyes never leaving the curious creature darting in and out of shops. The creature is tall, too beautiful to be a human, and far stronger than one. Every time it leaves a shop, its bag gets alarmingly bigger.

They are on top of one of the lower buildings, their legs dangling off the edge.

“I was thinking,” Gayle starts. She combs her short, blonde hair back with her fingers. “Once we get Kara back to Krypton, do you think maybe it’s time we move out and find someplace else to settle down?”

She sees her wife glance at her briefly before trailing the creature again. They’re not quite sure what it is, only that it’s not human. Even the tavern owner isn’t sure. The creature has been with them for a few months now, hard worker, always on time, nothing too remarkable… or at least that’s what the tavern owner tells them. When Gayle probed deeper, however, she saw the barely hidden desire of the owner. And how the creature always finds a way to say no to him in the sternest but kindest of ways. Still, he’s not giving up soon.

Except he’s dead now.

“And where would you like to go?” Imra asks, a hint of amusement on her voice. She takes Gayle’s hand and weaves their fingers together.

“Somewhere quiet and simple. Somewhere I can afford to take you,” Gayle says. “You know I’ve never been comfortable in the palaces.”

Imra hums. “Yes, I know. That’s why I married you.”

“You married me because I don’t like living in the palace?”

“No, silly,” Ima says with a chuckle. “I married you because you don’t care that I live in the palace.”

Gayle watches as the creature begins what looks like a complicated discussion on some meats with the butcher. They both wildly gesture with their hands, but Gayle is too far away to hear what they’re saying.

“So, that’s a yes?”

Imra hums in thought. She pulls Gayle closer to her, wrapping an arm around her wife’s waist. “That’s a definite maybe. We still have a lot to consider. While I don’t care much about palaces, only Krypton has a defensive bubble against the sun. If we move away, we won’t be able to go out like we normally do. Plus, when we bring Kara back, she’s likely not going to cooperate, and things will not be stable for a while.”

Gayle scoffs. “To be honest, I don’t blame her. She’s never seemed like the type to want to take the throne anyway.”

Imra nods. “I have often told the council that it is not wise to keep Kara in the dark. She may not always be the brightest bulb in the room, but she’s idealistic, stubborn, and too nice. I bet she’s keeping that wolf out of pity, more than anything.”

“How did I ever get to marry someone so smart?” Gayle muses with a grin.

“Oh, I dunno,” Imra mirrors her wife’s grin. “She found you and thought you were the most exceptional creature to ever exist. She offered you immortality, you accepted. You both fooled around for the longest time until one day she fucked you so thoroughly you decided to propose to her. She accepted. You got married. Did I miss anything?”

“You fucked me so thoroughly? I don’t know about that… I wasn’t the loud one,” Gayle says.

“Oh, believe me, darling, you were,” Imra purrs and it lights Gayle’s entire being on fire. She would take her wife right there and then if they didn’t have a job to do. And right now, their job is to watch the curious creature easily heft a skinned calf over her shoulder.

“I think she’s done shopping,” Imra mutters.

“Finally, I’m so bored,” Gayle says, cracking her neck.

“So, you handle the creature, I take the wolf, and,” she produces shackles with glowing green linings. “You disable Kara. We place this on her wrists and we’re home free.”

Gayle nods and they follow the creature with a calf hefted on its shoulder and a big bag of goods in hand.

After a few minutes, however, the creature disappears, leaving two different trails. Imra turns to her wife and kisses her deeply. “For good luck,” Imra mutters and pushes Gayle in the other direction.

Gayle shakes her head, staring at her wife’s retreating figure before it is swallowed up by the crowd of Fae.

 

 

 

When Sam finally comes back from the market and the butcher, she finds an interesting sight. Her houseguests are sitting by the fire. Kara is cross-legged and absentmindedly running her hands across Lena’s head, which is cradled on her lap. Lena’s eyes are closed but the twitching of her ears and the slight swaying of her tail tells Sam that she’s awake. Ruby, however…

She’s never seen Ruby sleep that peacefully. She’s on her stomach, lying on top of Lena, a steady stream of drool falling from her slightly open mouth.

The three of them look so at peace that it almost breaks her heart to disturb them.

“Kara,” Sam says softly. She has time. A few minutes, maybe.

Kara turns to Sam with a smile, which immediately disappears upon seeing Sam’s face. Somehow, despite Lena’s eyes being closed, she is alerted to the change in Kara’s demeanor.

“They’re here,” Kara mutters.

“A couple of them, yes. I lost them a few minutes back but I’m pretty sure they’ll pick up my trail soon enough,” Sam says, nodding.

Kara doesn’t respond but immediately picks up Ruby and, in a flash, hands her over to Sam. Lena heads to their bedroom.

“Get your daughter out of here, Sam,” Kara says and when Sam is about to protest, she feels Lena nudge at her with something between her teeth.

“Take it,” Kara says, taking the sling bag from Lena’s mouth and ushering Sam and Ruby down to the basement door, to the tunnels.

“No,” Sam says, but she takes the sling bag and puts it on Ruby. “I can stay and help. Lena is in no position to fight. She’s almost completely drained.”

“Sam… please,” Kara says, and Sam can hear the desperation in her plea.

“No.” She might have cheated. She might have used her voice, the one that’s almost impossible to disobey. “And I won’t hear protests. We don’t have enough time. So, here’s what’s going to happen, and no, I will not accept questions either. Now, close your eyes for a second, Kara. I’ll tell you when to open them,” she says. She sees Kara about to protest but Sam just stares at her. With a sigh, Kara closes her eyes.

Really, these vampires always think they know everything.

She turns to Lena. “You will look me in the eyes, and I will give you two things: First is a thought. You will know how to get to Mrs. Stein’s through the tunnels—“Lena growls and Sam clicks her tongue impatiently. “—I said I won’t hear protests. Now, the second thing I will give you is power. Enough for you to shift to human form and carry my Ruby to safety. I have sent instructions to Mrs. Stein and she will know what to do next. Brace yourself, Lena. This is not going to be pleasant…for you.

She sees Lena stiffen, but the heart of the wolf is strong. Sam thinks she just might make it.

She summons her power, ancient, unpleasant, and uncompromising, and lets it flow through her. The world darkens, and if Lena is afraid, she doesn’t show it. Ruby, comfortably tucked in Sam’s arms, stirs but doesn’t wake. Sam looks at Lena and sees her life, sees the broken, lonely wolf of Thorul. She sees everything that Lena was, and is, and is to come. She sees Lena’s eyes turn black, as dark and light-swallowing as her fur and she dives into it. She whispers words, thoughts, secrets, all of which Lena will not remember, save for one.

She feels some power leave her and by the pained whine from Lena, she knows her task is done. She blinks and the world is right again. The sigh she emits shudders her body.

“You can open your eyes now, Kara,” Sam mutters while Lena heads straight to the bedroom. After a few seconds, she is out in her human form, carrying their backpack, hastily dressed, and takes Ruby from Sam. Sam kisses Ruby’s curly hair before she ushers, nearly pushes, Lena out the basement door. She sees Lena hesitate and look at Kara.

Sam understands. But there’s no time. So, she touches Lena’s cheeks and redirects Lena’s attention to her. “You have my heart, my entire world, sleeping in your arms. Take care of mine as I take care of yours and I promise you, Lena. We will see you soon.”

Lena nods, looks at Kara, and with a determination Sam rarely ever sees in anyone, Lena ducks down and out the basement door. Sam listens for a while but finds that she can no longer hear Lena. Curious.

Sam turns to Kara. “They’re coming.”

 

 

 

Lena, still slightly confused, in a world of pain, and holding a fragile human pup in her arms, walks down the tunnels as fast as her two legs can take her. She knows her way and even in her human form, she can see in the tunnels well enough. Ruby, thankfully, sleeps peacefully.

She feels the creatures that haunt the tunnels slink past her, avoiding her when they can, or just rushing in the opposite direction. But she doesn’t have time to think about it now as she moves, her footsteps light. She turns a corner and sees a tiny door and knocks on it.

Mrs. Stein opens the door and Lena notes that she has her eyes closed.

“Come in, come in,” Mrs. Stein says softly, beckoning her inside.

Mrs. Stein’s home is even smaller than Sam’s, made even smaller by a very low ceiling that almost brushes the top of Lena’s head. But unlike Sam’s, this home is filled with all kinds of furniture and accessories to a point where there is hardly space to move about.

Still with her eyes closed, she reaches for Lena and tells her to give Ruby to her. Lena does so and is relieved that despite the jostling about, Ruby remains asleep.

“Sam tells me you should shift to your wolf, whatever that means. And by then I should be safe to look at you. She also left you a skinned calf in the kitchen. She tells me it’s yours and that you must consume it immediately. I’ll leave you to it,” Mrs. Stein whispers, gesturing to wherever this kitchen is, before disappearing behind a corner, carrying Ruby with her.

Lena, already feeling the exhaustion creep to her very bones, shifts and turns to the tiny kitchen to her left where she finds a freshly skinned calf. It’s a little bigger than the buck Kara brought her, but without all the innards and definitely more fat.

Lena begins to feast.

At the back of her head, she worries about Kara. She doesn’t know if she trusts Sam completely, but there’s really nothing that Lena can do to help Kara at this point. She feels weak and helpless and she will only be in the way. She doesn’t want to be in Kara’s way.

So, fighting a wave of exhaustion and despair, Lena forces herself to eat. She needs to eat. Kara will need to feed again, probably. She’s not sure how much energy Kara will expend trying to fight off her pursuers and if it’s the same as the time she found Kara, then Lena will need a lot of energy to sustain the two of them.

She finishes off the calf quicker than she thought possible and finding nothing else to do, her mind wanders back to her mate.

She feels antsy, like every single muscle in her body is telling her to move. She needs to be with Kara, but Sam has entrusted Ruby with her. But Kara is her mate, and she should always be with her mate.

She can feel life coming back to her but still not as quickly as she wants it to. She wants to be okay now, not in a few minutes. She paces and huffs. She tries to sit but the ceiling is too low, and she’s forced to bow her head, so she just goes back to pacing.

Finally, unable to bear any more of this waiting and pacing, unable to control the unease that’s running through her body and the call to be by Kara’s side, she heads to Mrs. Stein’s main door, intent on destroying it and running towards Kara.

Before she reaches the door however, it is blasted open. Lena has a split second to duck out of the way of the flying door and its shrapnel. In the doorway stands a tall, lean creature with short blonde hair and piercing blue eyes… not quite as beautiful as her mate’s but startling, nonetheless.

“Wrong house. Dammit,” the vampire mutters, she takes a quick glance at Lena’s surroundings before she trains her eyes back on Lena. The vampire sighs. “I’m never going to hear the end of this. And—” the vampire enters Mrs. Stein’s house, “—all that effort and all I have to show for is a dead runt, halfling, and child. Imra gets to have all the fun, as usual.”

Nevertheless, the thought of killing things seems to make the vampire happy as her sigh morphs into a menacing smile. She stalks towards Lena.

Lena readies herself. She’s still not at her best and she knows she’s never been trained enough to fight. But she is all that’s standing between the vampire and Ruby and Mrs. Stein and she’s determined to at least take this vampire down with her to protect the two tiny ones hiding somewhere inside the house.

The vampire tries to grab at Lena, but Lena steps back to avoid it. She’s aware that she’s toppled some of the furniture in the process but that hardly matters. The vampire tries again and again and each time, Lena narrowly avoids her. Except she can tell that the vampire is just toying with her. Suddenly, the vampire speeds up and both her hands are on either side of Lena’s head.

That vampire fixes Lena with a stare and suddenly Lena is in a world of pain like she’s never known before. It’s eerily reminiscent of what Sam did to her earlier, except Sam’s was done with good intentions. It had a clear purpose. This one is just cruel and painful. It serves no other purpose than to hurt Lena.

And when she closes her eyes, she sees Kara dead. She sees Sam and Ruby slumped down and lifeless beside Kara and poor Mrs. Stein’s body mangled beyond recognition. She feels the unending choking feeling of utter isolation, without a pack, without a mate, without a family.

But something in the back of her mind takes hold of her. Kara can’t be dead. Kara is strong and sturdy. And so is Sam. She’s seen a glimpse of Sam’s power.

And Ruby and Mrs. Stein can’t be dead either. Because Lena is alive. And she will not let anything happen to the tiny ones as long as she’s still alive.

So, despite being blinded by pain, Lena lashes out, knowing that the vampire’s hands are still on either side of her head. She turns her head to the side and catches an arm and tries to rip it off. As soon as she does so, the pain stops, and Lena can breathe again.

“Bitch!” the vampire screams, a look of utter disbelief on her face as she sees her right hand, mangled and bleeding.

Lena licks her snout, tasting the vampire’s blood… and she finds that she likes it. She finds that she wants more, not to feed, no… She finds that she likes the utter destruction of it all. She lowers herself and lunges at the vampire. She misses. But it doesn’t matter. Lena knows she has the upper hand now.

They continue this dance but Lena can tell that the vampire is slowly recovering, the wounds on her hand are healing and she’s getting faster again, the initial shock of her injury starting to wear off.

Lena knows she has to make a move now. She has also been observing the vampire. She’s consistent, at least. Every time Lena lunges at her she takes two steps in whatever direction she has to go to avoid Lena. Lena knows something about the way she’s moving is giving away her direction, but she can’t quite focus on it right now.

A plan quickly forms in her head and she charges. Just as Lena expected, the vampire takes two steps to the right, and with speed and agility Lena surges and veers to meet the vampire. She snaps her jaw and catches the vampire’s legs, crushing muscle and bone.

The shrill scream that emanates from the vampire is as satisfying as the blood that is dripping off Lena’s jaws. The vampire tries to scramble away but Lena is relentless. She has no plans on stopping as she lunges again. Surprisingly, the vampire uses her uninjured, arm to prevent Lena’s jaw from snapping its neck. And despite the pain, the vampire laughs.

“You’ve made a very big mistake, bitch,” the vampire mutters before her eyes roll back.

And Lena understands. Mrs. Stein’s house is covered with the vampire’s blood and now…

Lena is thrown to one side of the house, taking down shelves and jars as the vampire swipes Lena away. She’s much faster now and her movements are inconsistent, primeval. She’s much stronger than before. Her eyes are red, her fangs are bare and dripping with venom.

She’s turned feral.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Kara cannot shake off this nagging feeling—relentless to the point of overwhelming—to immediately run after Lena through the tiny door to the tunnels. Almost as if the moment the door closed, Kara lost something precious.

She wonders for a second if it’s because of their mating bond. Her logical mind denies this, of course. She’s not a wolf. It doesn’t work like that. Besides, while vampires may often find pairings of their own, it is extremely rare for them to find a true mate amongst their kind. And finding a mate outside of their kind has never been heard of.

“They’re going to be fine,” Sam mutters as she passed by Kara.

“What did you do to Lena?”

Sam pauses and searches Kara’s face before she heaves a deep sigh. “You heard what I did. I gave her instructions. I transferred some of my power so she could carry my Ruby to safety. I also left food over at Mrs. Stein’s so she can feed. You nearly bled her dry this morning. Don’t think I didn’t notice.”

Kara furrows her brows. A stab of guilt causes her to pause for a second before she follows Sam, who is turning down the lights, into the living room. She knows what she did to Lena. She knows she must apologize, and she will. But right now, Sam has separated them and everything in Kara is screaming at her to find Lena.

But something else comes to the forefront of her mind. Something that has been bothering her since this morning but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Seeing what Sam did to Lena, however, hearing her mate whimper and whine dislodges the fog in Kara’s brain and she remembers.

“Demons can’t do what you did to Lena,” Kara says.

“And what do you know of demons, Kara Zor-El?” Sam asks, rounding on Kara, her brown eyes glimmering, shadows cast by the fire playing harsh angles on her face. Her voice has a tinge of impatience. “What do your books and tomes say about my kind? What has your immortality taught you?” Sam scoffs. “All you know about demons is all we want you to know, which, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing. And this is precisely why I will always trust Lena more than you.”

Kara doesn’t say anything. There is no bite behind Sam’s answer. And she knows that despite all that she has learned in her time in Krypton, there are still mysteries out there to be solved. And maybe Sam is just one of those mysteries.

She’s met a few demons in her time. It would be a mistake to lump them in as one, that much she knows. There are too many kinds of demons, all with different capabilities. The only thing they have in common is where they were birthed and their malignant nature.

Admittedly, Sam is different. Without hesitation, Sam took them in. And even though Kara is still wary of any and all kindness given to her, she doesn’t sense the same evil in Sam that all the demons she has met possess.

“What do you mean?” Kara asks, this time softly.

“Your Lena is unique,” Sam starts, her gaze penetrating Kara. “She retains her lycan instincts while still being able to rationally think things through. This is not something an ordinary wolf does. It is by instinct she identified you as her mate. By logic, she deduced that the only way to save you is to give you her bite and get banished in the process. By instinct, she knows when you thirst. By logic, she knows her blood gives you more power than if you stick with your unreasonable diet. By instinct, she accepted my instructions. By logic, she follows them.”

Something inside Kara stirs, an unreasonable, indignant anger of sorts washes over her at the thought of someone else being privy to Lena’s secrets. “And you know this because?”

“I needed to enter her mind. I saw what she saw, thought what she thought. And I shudder to think of the power she will wield once she gains full control of words,” Sam says, a dark grin forming on her shadowy face. “It will be the day you will stop winning arguments.”

Kara scoffs. “You assume I’ve actually won an argument against her?” She chuckles lightly and shakes her head. “I’ve been with her two days and I have yet to win an argument. She wins without saying anything. She huffs and suddenly she’s won. It’s unbelievable.”

“You, however, rely too much on what you’ve been taught. See how that has failed you?” Sam says, but her voice is softer now.

“My instinct is telling me to run to Lena, to be by her side right now,” Kara says, glancing at the corner where the stairs going to the tiny basement door are.

“So, why are you still here?”

Kara is silent. She knows the answer but she’d rather not form them into words.

Instead, she says, “Because, like Lena, I have a job to do.”

She sees Sam look at her and nod. “If the lights go out, do not look at me. Do you understand?”

Before Kara can reply, however, they hear a sickening crack at the door before it is thrown open a second later.

“Ah. Your Royal Highness…” Imra says, smiling at the doorway.

Kara sees Sam glance at her before squaring her shoulders and stepping forward.

“My name is Sam Arias,” Sam says, gesturing to herself, “And this is my humble domain. Kara Zor-El is a guest here and is under my protection.”

Imra turns to Sam with a calculating gaze. “My name is Imra Ardeen, an Enforcer from Krypton, and I’m here to take back our wayward sovereign,” she says with a smile and a calmness that, Kara knows, belies her true cruelty.

Imra Ardeen, as far as Kara knows, should have been a higher rank in Krypton, except she loves her job too much and is quite good at it. She refuses to be anything but an Enforcer and will not let anything stand in the way of her doing her job. Lucky for her, her wife, Gayle, is as bloodthirsty as she is, except Gayle is less subtle about it.

Sam shakes her head. “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that without Kara Zor-El’s express permission. As I said, she—”

Sam never gets to finish as she is lifted in the air by an invisible force. She claws at her throat, choking. Before Kara can even move, Imra flicks her hand and Sam flies backwards, taking with her several empty shelves and a portion of the kitchen island. She hears Sam groan, and a measure of relief washes over her. She sounds hurt but at least she’s alive.

Imra, with a mocking bow and a smirk, turns to Kara. “Unless you want to watch me make a rag doll out of your kindly inn keeper, I suggest you come with me, Your Royal Highness…

Kara squares her shoulder and steps between Imra and Sam. “I dare you,” she says, gritting her teeth.

Imra laughs. “Oh I know all about your special abilities, Your Royal High—”

“It’s just Kara now,” Kara says, cutting her off. “I’m never going back to Krypton.”

Imra hums, her infuriating smile still playing on her lips. “Well, the order was to take you home, preferably alive, but dead will do just fine.”

Without warning, Imra charges towards Kara, aiming for her throat. It’s a cold, calculated risk. She knows Imra is not just powerful, but also fast. Or at least she should be. Because to her, Imra is moving at half the speed she usually does. So much so that, with a backhand, Kara sends Imra flying, crashing to the other side of the room.

Imra aims her hand towards the couch and hurls it at Kara.

Kara swipes it away but Imra uses the second she’s hidden by the couch launch herself, connecting her fist to Kara’s face.

Or at least it would have if Kara hadn’t been much faster.

Kara sidesteps and catches Imra mid-leap. She has just enough time to swing her arms down, causing Imra to crash on the floor, and before Imra can recover, Kara kicks her to another part of Sam’s house. Kara pauses, trying to discern if Imra is still conscious.

But it’s a mistake. She hears Sam choking once again, and Imra’s hand is aimed at her, curled as if holding an invisible ball. She gingerly stands, wincing slightly and, with her other hand she wipes dust and debris from her Enforcer uniform of deep black. “Oof. I forgot how strong you are.”

When she’s fully upright, all traces of her usually warm smile disappear. “Come with me peacefully, or she dies.”

When Kara doesn’t immediately reply, Imra tightens the curl of her hand and Sam gasps, her breath coming out in labored gulps.

“Let her go, Imra,” Kara says, her eyes warily moving from Sam to Imra.

Imra throws a pair of shackles at Kara’s feet, its green lining glowing menacingly. “Put those on and I will let her go.”

She can hear Sam gasping, choking. “K-Kara…no,” Sam sputters. Her face is red, and her eyes are bloodshot.

“I will not repeat myself, Your Royal Highness. Put the shackles on, or I will snap her neck,” Imra says, her voice low and devoid of any warmth. Her eyes are trained on Kara. She tightens the curl of her hand just a little bit and Sam sputters a tortured rasp.

Kara bends down slowly, her eyes always on Imra as she picks up the shackles.

“Do you even know why you’re hunting me?” Kara asks as she straightens up.

“Do I look like I care? My orders are simple: Bring you back, alive or dead. I would prefer to bring you alive but as I already said, I have no qualms bringing your dead body back,” Imra answers.

Without looking at the shackles, Kara clasps a cuff on one wrist, already feeling its draining effects. She is about to secure her other wrist when something crashes through the basement door, and a wild, snarling sound can be heard, followed by several thuds.

Kara’s heart sinks when she finds Lena in her wolf form, covered in blood. Between her massive jaws, however, is the neck of a snarling, struggling, feral vampire. Both its hands have been bitten off from at the wrists, rendering it near weaponless.

She drops the feral vampire in front of Imra, who is too stunned to react, and the wolf casually strides over to Kara. Kara sees her stare at the shackles pointedly then, in a move Kara never would have predicted, she bites into it, shattering it into tiny pieces.

Then as if nothing happened, she sits by Kara, staring at Imra and the feral vampire that Kara presumes, by Imra’s reaction, is Gayle. Kara tries to search her memory for what Imra’s wife looks like. She remembers someone tall, taller than her maybe, with bright blonde hair, sharp features and clear blue eyes. The creature before her barely resembles Gayle. Its hair is thin and wiry, covered in blood. Its features are gnarled, and her fangs extend past her jaws. Her eyes are completely red. Thick veins, so deeply red they almost look black, radiate from her eye sockets and all around her body.

She glances at Lena, who calmly stares at the other two vampires. She wonders if Lena knows just how impressive the feat she managed to pull off is. Not only did she defeat a feral vampire, but one of the more powerful ones to boot. And she didn’t just outright kill it. Lena made it a point to keep it alive but harmless. Why?

Imra is quiet as she gathers the snarling feral in her arms. It does not recognize her, though, and tries to bite her, its handless stumps ineffectively lashing at her face, covering Imra in what blood it has left.

Imra’s fury, however, is palpable despite the gentleness of how she traces the deformed face of what was once her wife. There’s no turning back now. Her shoulders tremble and Kara can feel power radiating off her.

She kisses her wife’s forehead and slowly, carefully wraps her hand around her wife’s neck.

“Wait,” Sam says, coughing and sputtering, holding one hand towards Imra while the other massages her neck. “I can still save her.”

Imra turns to look at Sam, confusion marring her face.

“She’s already feral. There’s no saving her. I can keep her alive and suffering. But that’s not something my wife would want,” Imra says, her voice flat. She tightens her hold on Gayle’s neck.

“I can save her!” Sam insists, running towards the other vampire. She kneels beside Imra and puts her hand, gently, on top of Imra’s. “Please. I can still save her. Trust me.” Their eyes lock, and for a moment Kara thinks Sam is going to be sent flying again.

“And if you can save her, I suppose you’d want something in return.”

“No tricks. I will give you your wife back, as you know her. As she is.”

Imra stares at Sam.

“I can let her die,” Sam says quietly, sensing perhaps the hesitation in Imra. “I don’t have to do this for you. I can let her die and let you perish at the jaws of the wolf or the hand of your sovereign. But I—” she sighs. “I was given kindness when I least deserved it and was told to pass the same kindness along whenever I can. So, I am passing it on to you. Let me give you your wife back.”

“It isn’t kindness if it has a price,” Imra mutters.

Sam nods. “There’s no price other than what I will pay to bring her back. Hound us if you like. But you’ve seen what these two can do,” Sam gestures at Kara and Lena. “And now you will see what I can. And if you still want to chase us after that, then by all means. I have already passed on my kindness to you. I will have none to give the next time we meet.”

Imra looks at Gayle, who is still desperately trying to get her fangs on anything. There is a tenderness in her gaze that is so rare for vampires.

“She’s your soulmate…” Kara says, almost as a whisper.

“She is,” Imra says, nodding slightly.

“Then you know what you have to do. You cannot live without her,” Kara says but her eyes are no longer on Imra but on Lena who is, seemingly without a care in the world, licking the blood off her mane.

Sensing this, Lena looks at Kara and gives her a small lick on the nose before continuing her grooming, only glancing at Imra and Gayle from time to time.

Imra looks at Sam and with the barest of movements, she nods.

“I need you to step back and stay behind me,” Sam says adding “Don’t worry, I can manage her,” when she sees Imra’s concerned look. Imra stands and Sam, without much effort, holds Gayle’s head down.

With her back turned to them, Sam says, “Whatever happens, do not look at me in the eyes.”

Imra nods and steps back.

The light in the fireplace is the first to go and seemingly all lights illuminating Sam’s house are dimmed, even the ones that come from outside. Darkness creeps in, followed by a suffocating silence. Kara reaches out to where she knows Lena is and holds her close. She can feel Lena’s head on her shoulders, as if to assure her that her mate is there.

There is a sudden gust of wind that comes from where Sam should be. And then the whispers come. They start softly. Kara strains her ears to listen. They are familiar but just not loud enough to discern. And then they multiply as if millions of tiny creatures were whispering, telling them ancient secrets, but always too soft, imperceptible.

And just as slowly and menacingly as it began, suddenly it is over. For a moment, Kara hears the sound of massive wings, but it too is gone as the fire comes back and the lights and the noise from the outside return as if nothing happened.

Sam stands and sighs before turning around.

“She’ll wake up in a minute, but you can go to her. She will want to see you,” she says and Imra wastes no time running to Gayle.

Sam, in turn, looks at Lena. “You left my Ruby with Mrs. Stein, yes?”

Lena huffs.

“Good. Then it’s time we all part ways,” Sam says with a nod and a watery smile. She moves towards the basement stairs, but Lena blocks her path.

“Please get out of my way, Lena. I don’t want to have to hurt you.” Sam’s voice trembles but Lena just huffs.

“I think what Lena is asking is why you’re in a hurry to leave,” Kara asks, her brows furrowed. At the corner of her eyes, she can see Gayle stirring.

“You’re not the only one running. Well, in my case, I’m hiding, but I suppose now, it’s time to run. So, please… Out of my way. I need to get to my Ruby,” Sam says, her face and voice in clear distress. Lena steps back and then follows Sam to the basement door.

“No, Lena. Stop. You and Kara have enough troubles of your own. You don’t need mine—”

“Well, Lena has decided. So, we’re coming with you,” Kara says, interrupting Sam. “You said you will always trust Lena more than me. And I trust Lena. So…. If she says we’re coming with you, then we’re coming with you and that’s the end of this discussion.”

Sam groans but says nothing, gesturing at Lena to go through the door and then following after her.

Kara turns to Imra and Gayle.

“You heard Sam. She’s given you kindness. It’s up to you to pass it on. You can still chase us, if you want, but as Sam said, there will be no kindness next time we meet,” Kara says plainly.

“That wolf is your friend?” Gayle asks.

Kara hesitates but nods.

“Be wary of her. She’s a monster.” Gayle grits her teeth.

“That may be so, but she’s my monster. And besides, she saved your life. If she hadn’t dragged you back here, you wouldn’t have been brought back to life,” Kara says.

Imra shakes her head. “You would leave your country, your people for these monsters?”

Kara looks at the open door, hears Sam’s footsteps from some distance.

“They’re my people, my home now. And I would appreciate it if you stop calling them monsters. The only ones who wish harm on others here are you two.”

Imra and Gayle look at each other and say nothing.

“Consider this your last warning. Do not follow us.”

Kara heads to the basement door and follows the scent of a blood-soaked wolf.

 

 

 

Mrs. Stein’s house is, in a word, destroyed.

Or at least it seems like it from the inside.

Almost everything is turned over, smashed, or just strewn about and the walls are painted with blood.

So, it’s a rather disconcerting sight to see one tiny halfling sweeping away in the middle of the chaos.

Mrs. Stein looks up at Kara with a wry smile. “Your little puppy sure can make a mess, can’t she?”

“I’m so sorry. We’ll pay for—”

“Oh hush you!” Mrs. Stein cuts her off with a wave of her tiny hand. “I should be the one paying her for saving our lives. Your kin sure was set on feeding on us. But your puppy… she stood there and fought her off. So, this?” Mrs. Stein gestures to the chaos around her, “This is nothing a little scrubbing and dusting can’t fix.”

Before she can say anything more, Sam strides out from one of the bedrooms, carrying a sleeping Ruby, Kara and Lena’s backpack, and their sling bag, with Lena following closely behind her.

“Mrs. Stein?” Sam looks at her warily.

“Is it time then?” Mrs. Stein asks. She drops her broom and walks over to Sam who falls to her knees and with her free hand cups the halfling’s face.

“Will you at least let me keep Mr. Stein’s memories?” Kara hears the halfling ask, her voice quivering, big fat tears rolling down her face. Sam nods, unable to form words as tears fill her eyes too.

“Good,” Mrs. Stein says, nodding resolutely. She wipes her tears and takes a sharp breath. “Now, now. No more tears. We both knew this would happen eventually.”

Mrs. Stein closes her eyes and leans her forehead on Sam’s. Sam does the same and once again the room darkens. Exactly two seconds later, Mrs. Stein slumps forward, unconscious.

“She’ll wake up in a few minutes. We have to go,” Sam says, standing up and heading towards the underground tunnel.

Kara, however, takes Mrs. Stein’s unconscious body and carries it to one of the bedrooms, laying Mrs. Stein in bed.

Kara takes a quick glance and finds several gold pieces at the bedside table and she smiles.

“I hope to see you again in better circumstances, Mrs. Stein,” Kara whispers before turning back and finds Lena waiting for her.

She flashes her a small smile. “You’re going to need another bath.”

 

 

They walk quickly but silently for what seems like hours.

Sam doesn’t look back. Once or twice, they hear her coo and whisper to Ruby who wakes up only to be coaxed back to sleep. But Sam never breaks her pace.

Soon, Kara notices that they are coming across less and less nightwalkers the father they go. She’s not even sure they’re still in Arkham.

It’s been about an hour since they last saw a nightwalker when Lena suddenly stops and growls at something behind them. Kara turns and focuses and a few minutes later, she hears it… or rather them.

“There are a lot of things in a hurry, coming after us,” Kara says, listening to the sound of hurried feet.

“I guess that’s the advance party,” Sam says, clicking her tongue.

“Friends of yours?”

“Hardly.”

“Can we take them on?” Kara asks, cracking her knuckles.

“Probably. How are you at fighting imps?”

Kara scoffs. “You did see me throw a full-blooded vampire to the wall with one hand, right?”

Sam chuckles darkly. “Okay, well, these are probably lesser demons that are chasing us. They’re just slightly stronger than imps.”

“Do we need to kill them?”

“Yes. Otherwise, they will keep hounding us.”

Lena huffs beside her.

“No, Lena. You’ve had your fun with Gayle. I wanna have fun too,” Kara says, smiling at Lena who stares at her, huffs, then walks towards Sam. Kara is sure if Lena can talk in her wolf form, she’d be grumbling.

“Make sure you kill all of them so we can buy more time,” Sam calls out as Kara walks towards the sound of scurrying feet.

Kara cracks her knuckles. “Excellent. I’ve been itching to hit something.”

 

They come, charging in a mindless hoard, crouched on all fours. In the dark, Kara can make out their glimmering onyx eyes, focused on her. They are wiry, with sharp nails, bared fangs, smooth bald heads, flat noses, and ears that stick up. They snarl as they lunge at her, but each sound gets cut short as Kara catches them mid-attack with a swift fist to the face, or a swipe causing them to fly off to another direction.

Kara knows she’s still running on Lena’s blood. On her own, she’s already powerful, but she can feel the difference now. Their skulls feel like fragile pottery, and if she focuses enough, their movements seem to slow down. So every punch is a death sentence, every hit is critical.

She feels some of them bite at her, or rake at her with their nails, but the rare attack that does connect, or the ones she allows, do not even break her skin.

Soon there’s more than a dozen of them piled to the side, mangled. Most of them are dead, some on their way there. She gives chase to the escaping ones and quickly catches them, adding them to the growing heap.

She is just about to stop and listen for any stragglers when she sees something dark and massive zoom past her. In seconds, she hears a muffled whimper, then a sickening crack, and Lena smugly pads back, a lesser demon in her jaw. She briefly stares at Kara before throwing it on the pile.

“Show off,” Kara mutters, grinning. She hears Lena huff.

“So,” she says, turning to where Sam and Lena are, “What now?”

Sam, with her eyes closed, grins. “Now you choose: Midvale or Metropolis?”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

They call it the Dark Council for one very whimsical reason.

Nobody there needs lights to see.

They convene in complete darkness, mostly because there’s really not much point in filling a chamber with lights when all its participants can see just as well in the dark, if not better. It’s the way things have been done for as long as the Council has existed and there’s no point in changing it now.

It is also not as pretentious or mysterious as some might make it out to be. There are no high-backed chairs or thrones or round tables, figures in cloaks, heavily armed guards, or anything like that. They convene in whatever empty room is available in the Palace, with some chairs that they are free to use or not use depending on their whims. It is not uncommon to see some of the council members walk around or stand or, in some cases, even lie on the floor.

Imra and Gayle are standing in the middle of the dark room. They don’t need to account for all five council members to know that all eyes are on the two of them.

“Explain to us why you two are here and not chasing after Kara?” Kal-El asks, his voice calm and cold. He’s sitting on one of the chairs, his back straight. His blue eyes flashing even in the dark.

“The princess fought back. We barely made it out alive. She let us go. If we had gone after her, we would have died,” Imra says, keeping her tone as flat as possible.

“Were you not advised to bring back-up? Did we not warn you that Kara Zor-El is powerful?” Kal’s voice echoes in the room.

“We were, and I did not listen. I had seen the princess in the practice yards several times and I had concluded that my wife and I were more than enough. Clearly, I was mistaken,” Imra answers. She can feel the unease radiating off her wife. In a way, she appreciates the way Gayle is itching to defend her. But as she had warned her earlier, there is no room for emotions in the council, everything must be laid out matter-of-factly, regardless of if it throws suspicions on you.

There’s also the fact that Gayle is a lower vampire. As such, her voice holds no weight in this Council. Not even if she’s married to Imra.

“Clearly,” Morgan Edge murmurs, unamused. Imra never liked him. She’s not even sure why he’s part of the council. Whenever Imra sees him, she is reminded of a slinky, sleazy, lizard with a poisonous bite. She’s only so glad that Gayle seems to share the same sentiment regarding him.

“I would like to return to the original question then,” Veronica Sinclair starts, her tall, slender figure leaning against one of the walls, a thin glass flute half-filled with warm blood held delicately between long fingers, her words drawling and low, “Why are you two back here and not tracking Kara.”

“After we were defeated, we lost her trail. We came back to update the council and to seek permission to travel to Metropolis to contact Nia Nal,” Imra answers.

There is silence for a brief second before Cat Grant, terrifying despite her petite stature, stands. “Excellent idea,” she says. “However, I doubt the High Elves will allow just anybody to talk to Ms. Nal, even with the recommendation of the Dark Council, and time is of the essence. Therefore, I will go to Metropolis and seek out Nia Nal. I will send word once I’ve talked to her. In the meantime, rest. Recuperate and gather a few people to take with you. We will not tolerate mistakes next time.”

Kal clears his throat. “If anyone has objections?”

“Not so much objection as a suggestion that I go with Cat,” Veronica says and there is a murmur of assent.

“I should like to go, too,” Mon-El says. He is lazily reclining on a chaise lounge, one knee up while his other leg is draped on the edge of the seat, his foot dangling just above the floor.

If there’s anyone that Imra hates more than Edge, it’s Mon-El. Imra wishes she had a more substantial reason to hate him. He is generally well-liked amongst the higher vampires, but that’s mostly because he acts the way higher vampires normally act: condescending, insufferable know-it-alls, dismissive of lower vampires and with absolutely no regard for their thralls.

But if Imra is being honest she mainly dislikes him because he’s engaged to the princess and will take every opportunity to remind everyone of the fact. “I am tired of not knowing where my fiancée is, and Nia Nal should be able to tell us more.”

Case in fucking point.

Cat, however, laughs, cold and mirthless. “You know very well that Ms. Nal does not like you. You would be a threat to our mission. Stay here like mommy’s little lap dog and let the adults do their job.”

Imra curls her fists and digs her fingers in her palm in an effort not to laugh. Beside her, she can see Gayle flash a quick smirk before biting her lips and schooling her features.

“That’s rich. For all of this council’s power, all it did was to send two useless trackers to go after the princess. So very wise of you…”

Veronica scoffs, “Ah yes, we should have gone with your recommendation and sent a full company of vampires across Thorul. I’m sure the wolves would appreciate that.”

“And while we’re playing this blame game,” Kal adds with a cold smile at Mon-El, “Wasn’t it your job to keep the princess in line? Isn’t that why your engagement was put in place? Did you not reassure this council that—oh, what were your words again? I can’t seem to recall.”

“I am man enough to handle the princess,” Cat supplies, not bothering to hide her disdain.

“Right,” Kal nods. “It seems you are either not ‘man enough’ or you just can’t handle the princess.”

“Come now,” Morgan interjects. “We don’t have time to play these games. Mistakes were made and now we must correct them. I do, however, agree that since Ms. Nal does not appreciate Mon-El’s presence, and I doubt she has changed her mind, Cat and Veronica should be enough.”

“So be it,” Kal says before he stands and leaves the room.

“There’s something more, if I may…” Imra says, and she hesitates, the stranger’s voice still echoing in her head. But Imra has a duty to uphold too.

“Speak freely, Imra,” Cat says, and Imra can sense the curiosity there.

“First, the wolves have not been completely honest with us.” Imra says, slowly. She is weighing her words. ‘Kindness…’ She can feel Gayle’s unease increase.

“How so?” Morgan asks, leaning forward. Imra stifles the impulse to roll her eyes. Leave it to this weasel to latch onto this. But it needs to be said.

 “The princess did not escape Thorul by herself. One of the wolves helped and is now on the run with her. She has the mark of banishment.”

Veronica hums. “Are you saying that the wolf is banished because she helped Kara?”

Imra nods. “It is a likely conclusion. Her marks are still fresh and obvious as her fur is completely black.

“Pure black wolf?” Kal asks, his eyes narrowing.

“Yes.”

“Interesting. But I suppose that explains why the alpha lied—or conveniently forgot to tell us about this detail,” Kal’s voice is calm but Imra could hear something else there. She can’t quite put her finger on it, but it’s there.

“Indeed,” Cat Grant agreed with a small nod while Morgan and Veronica murmur their assent.

“Am I missing something?” Mon-El asks, sitting up and glancing at the rest of the council.

“The alpha has a sister, an illegitimate daughter of the old alpha. Out of respect for his sire, instead of banishing the bastard, he allowed her to stay,” Morgan patiently explains.

“We can also assume that perhaps this is the alpha’s way of getting rid of her,” Veronica muses as she takes a sip from her glass. “It’s the perfect excuse. She makes a mistake and it’s off with her. He no longer needs to be burdened with his sire’s mistakes.”

“Well, she can’t be much of a threat,” Mon-El says with a lazy gesture. Imra is only too proud that Gayle seems to be composing herself more than usual.

“You’d think that,” Cat’s tone is patronizing, “But the truth is, this mission just became a lot more dangerous.”

Imra furrows her brows. “May I ask why?”

Cat sighs. “You may not, unfortunately. As the rest of this council already knows, I was bound to secrecy by the old alpha. But trust me when I tell you, whether this is by design or not, Kara Zor-El has just found herself a very powerful ally.”

“Which brings me to one last piece of information,” Imra’s voice is tight. It echoes in her head ‘…given kindness when I least deserved it…’ But Imra has a duty. She knows what she needs to say. “They have an unknown creature with them. We aren’t certain what she is, but she’s not human. She certainly looks like one, and she has a daughter. All we have observed is that she’s strong and fast. Not as strong or as fast as a vampire, but still much stronger than humans. And she and her daughter are now with Kara too.”

Kal frowns. “Do you know why?”

Imra shakes her head. “All we know is she accommodated them and was their host, and when Kara and the wolf ran away, she ran with them too.”

Veronica chuckles, mirthless, her fangs gleaming in the darkness. “It seems like our sovereign is picking up strays. This should work to our advantage, at least.”

Kal nods. “It should slow her down considerably, I agree. But not by much.” He turns to Imra. “Do you have anything more to add?”

Imra’s made up her mind. She’s not sure if this is kindness, but she’s done her best to be kind and still uphold her duty. “That is all.”

“Then do as Cat said. Rest while you wait for further instructions,” Kal says. “You may leave now.”

Imra tugs at Gayle and they turn to leave.

She can feel Gayle’s stare on her. She can almost hear the question in Gayle’s mind.

The truth is, she doesn’t have an answer for it either. Right now, all she wants is to be with her wife.

 

 

 

Lena stares at her mate’s sleeping figure.

She commits to memory every contour, every dip and rise of skin on muscle, every twitch… and not a single flaw.

They are in an abandoned hut in the middle of the mountains bordering Arkham and Midvale. Acres upon acres of nothing but mountains and forests and Lena feels right at home… or at least she should. But home is now this stubborn vampire who’s sleeping on a wooden floor in one corner of the hut.

They’ve been moving from place to place over the last few days. Based on what Lena understands, Kara is running away from her kin and so is Sam. She never questions why, content in knowing that her pack knows what they’re doing and where they’re going. No matter where they are, this is her pack now. And if she’s going to be honest, these two-legs have been more of a pack to her than the wolves in Thorul ever were.

Sam, at least, seems much too used to moving around and so she’s tasked Lena to always be on the lookout for caves or empty shelters that can be used as a temporary shelter, which Lena is only too happy to do. But always, she hears Sam and Kara talk about where they could all settle permanently. Ideas have been exchanged but they haven’t decided on anything, and so they move around.

She found the hut a couple of days back, and Sam and Kara had to hurriedly cover most of the holes on its walls and what seemed like dry grass to Lena that serves as its roof so Kara can sleep.

And while she’s content as a newborn pup to just sleep beside her mate, Lena is a wolf and her duties must always come first. She’s heard some of the sires and the dams talking about this, how it brings them a sense of peace knowing they are serving their mates.

Lena, however, is decidedly not at peace with how she’s been serving her mate.

She huffs and sees Sam stare at her but she doesn’t say anything. She and Ruby are quietly playing in one corner. Lena’s tempted to join them but she has her duties to fulfill as Kara’s mate. Which, really, should be easy if Kara weren’t so stubborn and so difficult to understand. So, she steps out of the hut and sniffs the air. Already she can scent several bucks a short distance from them, and she bolts off in their direction.

For a moment, she considers taking a couple of the biggest bucks but then she remembers…

Kara hasn’t fed from her since they left Arkham, adamant that she’s content with feeding from blood of the game they catch along the way. “This way, I drink their blood. You take their flesh. Nothing’s wasted.”

At the time, Lena didn’t say anything. She didn’t react. She has so little words so over the last few days, she just stays in her wolf form. There’s no point in shifting to her human form if Kara’s not going to feed on her and if Lena has nothing to say.

But she can feel it. She can feel her mate slowly rejecting her. So, she accepts this inane suggestion.

 

 

She tracks down the biggest of the bucks. She can hear its heart beating steadily. According to the sires back in Thorul, when they were teaching their pups about hunting, she should keep her stance low, careful to always be downwind. But the sires also taught the pups how to hunt in a pack; how each member of a pack functions to bring down enough game to feed everyone.

But Lena had no such pack to speak of, no hunting party. So, she had to adjust her hunting techniques. Back in Thorul, she’d practice on her own, careful not to kill them so technically she wasn’t really hunting. It had taken a bit of trial and error and a lot of patience. She started with rabbits and other faster creatures before moving on to bigger ones that could fight back. From time to time, Lena would try and catch the smaller ones, to make sure she wasn’t slowing down. From the tiny critters she learned speed, accuracy, and agility. From the bigger game, she learned strength, stealth, and patience. But Lena was alone, and it took a considerably longer time for her to get better.

Now, however, she’s glad she took the time to practice. She hunts for a pack of two, after all.

Well, four now, but Sam and Ruby do not eat. She’s still not sure what Sam feeds on, or if she even feeds at all, but Ruby gets her sustenance from her dam.

She stalks the buck, concentrating on the thrumming of its heart.

She looks up at the sky briefly and sees the sun about to set. Just in time.

The buck pauses to sniff the air and Lena pounces. She doesn’t kill it but does the tedious task of keeping it just barely alive without spilling its blood and bringing it back to their hut. 

She knows her blood can sustain Kara better than anything. The thought of Kara sinking her fangs and tasting the blood of these inferior creatures is revolting to Lena, it sets her nerves on fire in the worst way possible. But this is how Kara wants to feed. And if her mate is adamant in this, so be it.

Lena, however, doesn’t have to be happy about it. So, when she arrives at the hut and finds Kara still sleeping, she drops the buck on top of her mate before walking away.

She feels at least a little bit of satisfaction when Kara bolts up and Sam stifles a laugh.

“What the—” Kara says, eyes wide in alarm, head frantically looking around until she finds the dying buck, on her lap, gasping.

“I think,” Sam says softly while she plays with Ruby, “that means breakfast is ready.”

“Lena…” she hears her mate call to her, quietly.

And Lena, powerless against her mate’s call drags her paws towards Kara. She sits tall and proud and stares at the stubborn vampire, unblinking. She hears her mate sigh.

“Thank you for the buck,” Kara says, breaking her stare to look at the buck still on her lap. “I appreciate it but you really don’t have to—”

A thick, suffocating rage flares so suddenly in Lena that she cuts Kara off not with her typical huff but with a low growl that ends up turning into a full snarl. It is so sudden and unexpected that even Sam and Ruby stop playing. Ruby whimpers and it is Lena’s cue to walk away.

“Lena, please wait—” Kara says, standing up and calling after her but another low grumble is enough to stop her mate and Lena proceeds to go back outside. She needs air. She needs to think. She needs to run.

And Lena runs.

Not away. Never away. She can never run from Kara. It would take a massive amount of strength and conviction for a wolf to run from their mate. Both of which Lena doesn’t have when it comes to Kara. But she can run around. Far enough so she can think but close enough that if they decide to move she can still track them down.

She’s being unfair, of course.

Kara doesn’t understand the minutiae of being mated to a wolf, that much Lena logically knows. It is completely unfair of Lena to expect Kara to know all these things when Lena isn’t even capable of teaching her mate anything.

And yet, she can’t get rid of this gnawing feeling in her chest and she’s not sure what to do with it.

She’s been a pariah all her life, rejected and isolated. She should be used to this by now. But the rejection she feels from Kara is magnitudes worse, as if the very ground she’s standing on does not make sense.

And maybe that’s it. Maybe she just needs to go back to things she’s familiar with. Maybe she’s just been swept up with everything, and it’s all too unfamiliar and new.

She feels the solid earth under her paws. She feels her claws grip as she pushes off the ground in ever faster circles around her home. She feels the wind rush past her, feels her muscles stretch and strain, feels the very air contract and expand her lungs and once again she is running by the border of Thorul.

It settles her, this mindless sort of running. This empty, meditative state where all she knows is a set path and she can run freely with no obligations, no stubborn mates, no strange packmates. It’s just Lena and the forest and the cool night air.

In the dark she can map out where the trees are and avoid them by instinct. She can feel the forest grow silent, knowing a predator is in their midst. Here she is certain. Here she has a path. Here she is nothing short of a god.

…and yet.

And yet, she yearns for a moment, like a forgotten memory. She only knows that Kara is in it but she doesn’t know what it is. And it’s what’s been driving her to keep pushing, keep running, keep staying close to her strange pack. Because wherever it is that this long, winding, maybe even circular road is leading them, Kara is with her. Or at least she hopes so.

 

 

 

“You know this is all your fault, right?” Sam asks with a slight smirk. Ruby is latched on to one of Sam’s nipples, her liquid eyes fluttering open and closed, trying to fight back sleep as she listens to the sound of her mother’s voice. They’re in the opposite corner of their hut, with a small fire that Sam tends to serving as their only light source.

It’s by far the best lodging they’ve come across on their travels. Mostly they’ve been living in caves, which really isn’t suitable for Ruby. But the little one seems to understand their predicament and is more than happy to feed on her mother and whatever suitable fruit they come across. She also settles with just using Lena as some sort of plaything with Lena seemingly not minding. There are days when Ruby would hang off her neck as they walk, or sleep on her back, provided Lena doesn’t go any faster than a slow trot.

Sometimes, when Ruby cannot sleep, Lena would lay beside her and the little one would crawl on top of Lena and drape herself, stomach down. She’d fall asleep almost immediately and Lena would be unable to move until she woke up.

Kara, on the other hand has discovered something about Sam that she’s not sure she likes.

Sam is an annoying know-it-all. The fact that she asked that question while Kara’s fangs are embedded on the buck’s pulse meant that there is no way, for the next few minutes, that Kara will be able to respond.

So instead, Kara rolls her eyes at Sam.

“I mean…she’s your mate. You’re not letting her be your mate.”

Kara growls, eyes like daggers aimed at Sam. She knows Sam is pushing her buttons. But she also knows Sam always means well, which makes it even more infuriating.

“I bet she doesn’t even understand why you’re acting this way. She doesn’t even know why you’re avoiding her. Can you imagine how she’d feel if she thinks that her mate, the one to whom her soul is bonded to, is rejecting her? That must hurt. Especially with the kind of life she’s had before she met—”

“Enough, Fallen One,” Kara says, finally losing her patience…and her appetite. She drops the buck and carefully sets it to one side for Lena.

But if she thinks this is going to faze Sam, she quickly discovers, by the way Sam’s lips are curled into a smirk, that she is sorely mistaken.

“How long have you been holding that in?” Sam sneers and Kara can see her eyes glimmering, like a dark gem.

“Since you brought Gayle back. The sound of your wings gave you away. Demons don’t have wings and aren’t powerful enough to bring a feral back. No Fae could do that. From there, it was just a process of elimination,” Kara says but her attention is elsewhere. She’s tracking Lena who is running a very wide circular path. She’s just on the edge of Kara’s awareness, any farther and Kara wouldn’t be able to track her down.

“You should go to her,” Sam says softly, bringing Kara’s awareness back inside the hut. “Don’t let her think that she did something wrong.”

Kara blinks and looks at Sam. “I don’t know how to be a good mate to her.”

“And you think she does? I told you, she’s running on instinct when it comes to you. You should try it.”

Kara shakes her head as her expression goes dark. “I nearly killed her the last time I tried going by my instincts.”

Sam scoffs. “You really think that? She only had to eat a skinned calf and she was able to take down feral vampire. You severely underestimate her.”

Kara sighs as she sits back down in her corner, running her hand through her hair, a part of her still monitoring her mate. “I didn’t even notice how hungry she was. She’s always so in tune to my needs, but I’m not.”

“That’s because you’re so far up your own ass, you haven’t even stopped to consider exactly what you have right now. You’ve been moody and brooding these past few days, so caught up with running away—"

Kara turns to Sam, her fists clenched, seething. “And you’re not?” she asks between clenched teeth, careful not to raise her voice for Ruby. “I don’t even know why someone like you would run away. You’re a Fallen. When you said you would level a city for Ruby, I didn’t think you actually could but now I know that that’s something you can do without batting an eyelash.”

Sam looks down and touches Ruby’s cheeks. “I’m not running for me. I’m running for my Ruby.”

“What—”

“You know why we’re called Fallen, right?”

Kara nods, slowly. “Immensely powerful beings created to serve a god. But you rebelled. And you fell from his grace.”

Sam laughs, mirthless and low. “I didn’t so much fall as really just tumbled down with the wrong group. I didn’t mean to join their rebellion. It was a bad case of hanging out with the wrong crowd. I never had a choice.

“But Ruby is special. And I want her to have a choice. So, I’m hiding her from my kind, until she’s grown enough to choose for herself.”

Kara looks at Ruby, sleeping so serenely at her mother’s breast. “I never had a choice either. Not with my throne, not with my family… not with my mate.”

“Don’t let her hear you say that…”

“Why not? She chose me.”

“Would you choose you? Would someone as smart as her choose to burden herself with a moody, selfish, on-the-run princess? And why would a smart wolf shackle herself to a vampire who is basically useless half the day? Did you honestly think she had a choice in this?”

“I don—”

Kara is cut off by the sudden presence of a thin woman wearing a cloak in their doorway. Immediately, their small fire is out. Kara is on her feet, shoulders tense, eyes focused. On her periphery she can see Sam, eyes closed, slowly standing up, shielding Ruby.

And without really knowing how, she knows Lena is directly behind the woman now, her breathing silent, her stance low and ready to pounce.

“Hi..” The woman on the doorway drops the hood of her cloak. She is thin, with long, black hair, dark skin and wide eyes. Her face, Kara thinks, is kind.

“Uhmm… I’m sorry to disturb your evening,” she says, her voice slow, tentative. “I didn’t know there would be anyone here.”

Nobody responds, still wary of the stranger.

She takes a careful step inside and Lena issues a warning growl behind her. The stranger visibly stiffens, her head slowly turning to look at what’s making a noise behind her. Kara hears her breath hitch at the sight of a massive wolf, almost like a shadow in the darkness of the forest, if not for the brilliant green and silver eyes.

“Okay, look. I don’t mean any harm,” the stranger says. “My name is Kelly Olsen. I’m a witch.” She waves her hand and the fire that Sam put out moments ago comes back to life. “I just… I teleported because I didn’t want to trek all the way here just to collect the jars I buried at the back of this hut a couple of weeks ago.”

Sam opens her eyes, blinking at the woman.

Still, nobody moves, all eyes on Kelly.

“Uhhh… So, can I just..?” she takes another careful step and when no one stops her, she slowly walks inside heading straight out the back door, avoiding the dead buck.

Kara follows her and sees a small fireball hovering beside her, serving as a light source as she digs with a trowel. She can sense Lena circling back, still in the shadows.

“Wh—what are you digging for?” Kara asks more curious than wary now.

“I buried some kale I put in jars to ferment here. The conditions are perfect on this side of the mountains,” Kelly answers. She is on her knees, eyes focused on the ground.

“Kale?”

“A type of vegetable…”

“I—is it for some spell?”

Kelly laughs, full and loud. “Oh. You’re serious,” she says after she sees that Kara doesn’t share her mirth. “No, not for a spell. It’s food. My wife hates it. But I insist that she has some vegetable in her diet.”

“Your wife is also a witch?”

“Aha!” Kelly says softly and she begins unearthing a couple of clay jars. “And to answer your question, no. My wife is human. Hence the need to have a balanced diet.”

She stands, the trowel disappearing inside her cloak, and on one arm she cradles a couple of sealed clay jars.

She sways awkwardly, seeming uncertain for a second.

“Listen, I’m not sure what your deal is or why you’re hiding in the middle of the mountains, and you don’t seem like you’re up to something, but…” she hesitates, takes a deep breath, “If you’re ever in Midvale, look for me. I’m sure your wolf friend can find my scent.”

And with that, the woman disappears just as suddenly as she came.

In her place, Kara sees Lena a few steps away looking out into the night.

She quickly grabs their backpack and runs to Lena. As she passes by Sam, she swears she sees Sam smirking, but she chooses to ignore this.

“Hey, uhmm.. Do you wanna come walk with me?” Kara asks. Lena turns to her, huffs and begins slowly walking away. “In human form…maybe?”

Lena stops, looks at the backpack, and huffs again. Kara exhales the breath she didn’t know she was holding and quickly grabs a pair of clean clothes for Lena and drops it by her mate’s feet. She runs back inside and grabs Lena’s sandals and by the time she’s out, Lena’s already pulling on her shirt.

Kara holds out her hand so Lena can use her as a counterbalance as she puts on the sandals. She’s somehow still shocked at how soft and warm Lena’s hands are so that even when she’s done putting on her sandals, Kara doesn’t let go. Lena looks at Kara in question, but Kara just smiles.

“I’d like to hold your hand, if you don’t mind?”

Lena doesn’t understand, clearly, but she makes no move to take her hand back.

 

 

They walk in silence until they reach a cliff overlooking acres of thick forest. Just beneath the horizon are the tiny sparkling lights of what Kara thinks might be Midvale.

They sit by a fallen a log, still with their hands clasped together. She sees Lena looking at the clear sky, the twinkling stars reflected in her eyes, and something in Kara’s chest begins to hurt… and she thinks she doesn’t actually mind the pain.

She looks up too.

“When I was young,” she starts, and she can see Lena glance at her briefly before looking back up at the sky, “My mother told me the story of the stars, about how each of them is a doorway to another world. She described so many fantastical worlds and how some of them are the same as ours and some are vastly different, but that in all those worlds, there is always a version of ourselves that lives there.”

 “I know it’s just a child’s story. But sometimes, when I look at the stars, I wonder how the other versions of myself are doing. I hope they are happy and well. And I hope they have you in their life.”

“Not happy?” Lena asks and Kara almost weeps. She hasn’t heard Lena’s voice in days and she’s caught unawares about how she can miss something so…simple.

“I wish we had met under different circumstances. But I also think that really shouldn’t matter,” Kara says, aware that Lena’s full attention is on her. She’s fascinated by how, even now, Lena’s intense gaze makes Kara feel like she’s the only being who matters in the world.

And if Sam’s words are anything to go by, it just might be true for Lena.

“I am not happy with how my life is turning out…” she says, but she tightens her hold on Lena’s hand. “But I am happy with you. And I have this nagging thought in my head that all of this is going to be worth it because… You’re with me, right?”

“Always,” Lena says.

That one word grips at Kara’s chest and she extends her free hand to cup Lena’s jaw.  She sees Lena stare at her, uncertain but trusting, always trusting.

She remembers Sam’s words. Lena doesn’t really need to learn more words to have Kara destroyed and rebuilt in one second. She just did it in one word.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been a very good mate. But I’m willing to learn if you’d like to teach me.”

Lena’s eyes shine but for a few seconds, she doesn’t say or do anything.

Eventually, Kara feels Lena lean into her touch and she realizes what Lena is doing. By leaning on Kara’s hand, she bares her neck and with no hint of challenge, Lena says, “Feed.”

Kara doesn’t hesitate as she pulls Lena in.

 

 

  

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Cat Grant feels old.

Her skin is supple, her hazel eyes bright, her blonde hair shiny. She doesn’t look a day over forty and yet…

She can imagine her bones rattling, wrapped between ancient muscles. She’s seen nations rise and fall. She’s seen the earth churn and writhe, reshaping itself violently, swallowing whole civilizations and reclaiming its agency countless of times. She knows she’s old in every meaning of the word, but she feels it more strongly now among these young lower vampires. All fierce savagery and impulse and none of the restraint and wisdom time brings.

She wonders if she was ever that…alive. It’s been too long. She’s forgotten what that feels like.

She watches as they toy with their meals, a dozen or so thralls, spellbound and too out of it to care that they are half naked, blood dripping from their necks or wrists or wherever else they have bites. Some of them are here because they were lied to, made to believe that they too can become the undying. Some are just here for cheap thrills. One of them volunteered to die. Regardless of how they ended up being mobile blood bags to these juvenile vampires, most, if not all, of them will not survive the next few hours.

“Did we really have to bring them with us?” Cat asks, sniffing. They are in Arkham, in one of the more expensive hotels in the middle of the city. It is finer, more solidly built and was mercifully spared from destruction. An enterprising Fae managed to preserve it, glass windows and all, and now houses dignitaries, royalties, and those who can afford to pay nearly ten times the usual lodging fee. Cat remembers it had gargoyles sitting on top of it before. Perhaps they’ve moved on.

They rented out an entire floor for the morning, including the dining hall—a carpeted, circular room, decked with intricately detailed wallpaper and a massive crystal chandelier that serves as the centerpiece for its domed ceiling. And now, Cat and Veronica sit in a “corner” of said hall watching as the lower vampires feed.

It is inelegant, savage, and messy but there’s nothing better to do while they wait for the sun to set. Cat almost feels bad for those in charge of cleaning this up. Human blood is not the easiest stain to remove from carpets. She should know.

Veronica hums beside her, spine long and graceful, her eyes wandering aimlessly about the scene, clearly disinterested. There is a thrall at her feet, a beautiful human, young with soft features, curly blond hair and wide, glassy, gray eyes. “You said so yourself, we need security in case the princess decides to attack us,” she says so softly, Cat wouldn’t have been able to hear her if she wasn’t specifically waiting for a reply from the taller woman.

Cat slowly turns her head to the woman beside her, her reply just as soft. “So, they’re fodder?”

Veronica smiles, fangs gleaming, eyes narrowing and with a tight nod, she says, “Exactly.”

Cat returns her gaze to the bloody revelry in front of her. “Were you ever this… wild?”

It is Veronica’s turn to look at Cat. For a second, Cat thinks her companion is not going to reply. But eventually, she hears a soft chuckle. “I can’t say I was. I had an alternative way of feeding my bloodlust.”

Ah. Of course.

“Those fighting tournaments, yes?”

Veronica nods, her gaze now back to the lower vampires.

“But you don’t seem amused by this,” Cat observes.

“No. This doesn’t interest me,” Veronica answers, her voice just as bored as her face. “This is no fight. This is a massacre and the outcome is predictable.” She strokes the hair of the thrall sitting by her feet, the thrall’s head on Veronica’s lap, sighing contentedly. “No. What really gets me going is an honest, desperate fight for survival. Not this—” she waves at the rabble in front of her, “—messy, one-sided affair.”

They stay quiet for a time until Veronica breaks their silence.

“What do you think we’ll learn from Nia Nal?”

Cat shakes her head. “To be honest? I doubt she’ll be willing to help. Kara is her friend and I’m sure she knows we’re coming and what we want from her.”

A frown breaks the placid face of Veronica. “So, why did you want to see her if you knew she wasn’t going to say anything?”

Cat watches a thrall’s eyes slowly coming into focus. She sees the exact moment she breaks free of the vampire’s spell. A lower vampire’s thrall never lasts too long, unlike the one by Veronica’s feet who could be enthralled for years. For a moment, the now-former-thrall looks at her bloody wrists. Cat watches as she raises her trembling hands to her neck and finds blood there. She watches the emotions fly by the girl’s eyes. There were thoughts there, bewilderment, regret, despair, realization, all of it passing in silence.

Cat hears the girl take a deep, shuddering breath, hears her lungs expand. Then the girl lets all that air out in one long, scream of pure terror.

Or it would have lasted long if not for one of the lower vampires snapping her neck almost as soon as she starts screaming.

“I know she’ll give up what harmless information she thinks she can give us. But—” and Cat looks at the dead girl on the floor, eyes open, mouth slack in an eternal silent scream, “—I find that it’s what we don’t say that matters more. And I want to know what Nia Nal will not tell us.”

Veronica laughs softly. “Your mind is fascinating.”

Cat turns to her briefly. Another thrall is waking and he doesn’t have time to scream before a lower vampire latches himself on the thrall’s neck and drains him. Minutes later, he crumples to the ground, lifeless and free from this world.

“No, my mind is ancient,” Cat answers.

“I should like to stay another day, I think,” Veronica suddenly says.

“Are you thinking of re-tracing Kara’s steps?”

“Nothing escapes you.”

“Only time… and death, I suppose.”

 

 

 

Kara watches Lena’s massive, furry tail swish as she pads out of their cave. She watches in pitch black darkness as Lena yawns, stretches her limbs one by one, and sniffs the air. She takes one look back at Kara and, in a speed unnatural for something her size, she’s gone. The forest around them once again falls silent.

A goddess is on the hunt.

Meanwhile, Sam builds a small fire.

Ruby is in a corner, swaddled and breathing deeply in her sleep.

“How long till we reach Midvale?” Kara asks softly.

“If we leave after Lena has fed, we can be there before sunrise,” Sam answers just as softly.

They’ve been traversing the vast mountains between Midvale and Arkham for about two weeks now, always careful to leave no trace of their comings and goings. All carcasses that Lena makes are carefully buried deep and the earth covered with stones, leaves, or fallen trees.

Lena doesn’t need to feed as often because Kara doesn’t need to feed as often either now that most of what they do is simply walk or run. Lena only hunts when Kara has fed from her before they went to bed. And by now, Kara is used to the fact that when she feeds on Lena, sometime in the middle of their sleep, Lena shifts to her wolf form and Kara wakes up to the softest pile of fluff and fur in existence, surrounding her. It’s certainly not a bad thing to wake up enveloped in something so soft, a stark contrast to the hard ground floor of whatever shelter they find.

But most nights, Kara wakes up to Lena, in human form, curled beside her, not quite touching but so close that the distance is almost negligible. She has caught herself more than once thinking about pulling Lena closer, wondering if her human form is just as warm as her wolf. But she’s afraid that it might be too intimate for Lena, which is absurd, if Kara thinks about it.

Kara is Lena’s mate. Shouldn’t she be allowed to be that intimate, at least? Kara does feel affection for her, but she questions if it’s because of the mating bite or if it’s Lena herself. She wants to ask Lena, but she’s not even sure how to broach the subject. Does Lena feel just as strongly for Kara? Or does she treat Kara so reverently because of her compulsion to serve her mate?

It’s confusing and most days, Kara chooses to ignore it. She simply files it off as maybe something like her engagement with Mon-El, except this is permanent and she has no objections to it… In fact, if anything, she acknowledges that for the first time, she is given something good despite not having a choice about it.

But now, a more pressing question remains: Where are they going?

To Midvale, yes. But are they just stopping by or is it going to be a more permanent situation?

Is there even a place for them in this world?

Kara nods thoughtfully at Sam. “Do you know a place to stay there? Or are we just passing through?”

Sam looks like she’s considering this for a second before she smiles. “That’s completely up to you. Do you have somewhere you’re aiming to go?”

Kara shrugs. “Away. That’s really my answer. Somewhere we cannot be followed. Somewhere better. Somewhere we can all live in peace, you know? And we don’t have to look back and worry if someone is chasing us,” Kara says, then after a thoughtful pause, she adds, “And it must have wide, open spaces, so Lena can run around and be a wolf.” A beat, then she looks at Sam, “Does that place exist?”

Sam closes her eyes for a moment, inhaling deeply. She opens her eyes, and when she speaks, her voice is distant. Kara wonders if Sam has forgotten that Kara is there. “Before the Fall, I lived in an unending, undying land of light,” Sam says, her eyes watching Kara. “It is not an exaggeration. It simply is. I was created to serve and worship in all places and at all times. But as vast and as eternal as all that is, I couldn’t help but think that this cannot be all there is to my life… because my life is just as unending as the land, just as undying as the light.”

Sam turns to Ruby and caresses the little one’s cheeks. “But here, where things are temporary and the land is small and bound by borders, here I found my home. Is it peaceful? No. Is it better? Not even close. But it is home because she’s here.”

Kara frowns. “That doesn’t really answer my question though.”

Sam looks at Kara with a knowing smile. “Doesn’t it?”

Kara holds her frown and is silent for a beat. “You’re saying Lena is my home?”

Sam cocks a perfect eyebrow at Kara. “Is she?”

Kara sighs. “Has anyone ever told you that it is especially annoying trying to get a straight answer from you?”

Sam hums. “I have been told that, yes. Once.”

“Good. So, it’s not just me.”

“They died shortly after.”

The look Sam gives Kara is unreadable, but it sends a shiver down Kara’s spine.

 

 

 

Midvale is… decidedly not Arkham.

At least that’s what Lena thinks. And not because it looks different but just the way it smells is different. While Arkham was an explosion of scents and sights, Midvale makes Lena think of something old and loved, almost as if time moves slower here. And she can scent something else, something unfamiliar. Water, maybe. But different.

They arrive an hour before daylight, the thick forest suddenly giving way, replaced by grasslands intersected by dirt roads as far as Lena can see.

“Are you sure this is Midvale?” Kara asks, looking around. “There’s hardly anything here.”

Sam nods. In the darkness, her eyes are closed, as usual. “That’s because it’s mostly farmlands. Neighbors have more spaces between them,” she answers without breaking her stride. “There’s a city center, like a hub of some sort, a few miles from here. The markets and inns are there. I suggest we stay there so you three can rest up while I go look for somewhere safer for us to stay. But you two should definitely keep your masks on. This is a sleepy little city where everyone knows everyone so let’s try not to draw attention to ourselves this time, okay?”

“In our defense,” Kara starts, and Lena can sense indignation coming from her mate, “We were doing a great job keeping our heads down until Imra and Gayle showed up.”

Sam chuckles. “I wonder how those two are doing.”

“I know Imra,” Kara says. “She’s either still trailing us or is back at Krypton gathering more people or resources to track us down.”

“So, are you ever going to share why they’re after you?”

Lena has been quietly listening, but this raises her alarms. She immediately senses Kara’s worry, and something else, something far deeper.

Kara sighs and looks up at the still-dark sky. “Let’s just say, I discovered something I shouldn’t have. And for the price of that knowledge, I lost my mother. Unfortunately, Krypton will not accept any other vampire sitting on its throne unless the line of Zor-El has been exhausted.”

“Which means they either take you back—”

“Or they kill me, yes,” Kara finishes.

“They will not,” Lena says, her fists clenched. No one can touch her pack. And besides… “Kara is strong. Sam is strong.”

Sam chuckles and wraps an arm around Lena’s left arm. “That’s right. But you, little wolf, should give yourself more credit. You are much stronger than you think.”

Lena looks at Kara who is beaming at her. “It’s true,” she nods, and then added, “Which reminds me, I need to teach you how to fight when you’re in your human form.”

“Fight like Kara?” Lena asks, her head tilting. “Kara will teach me?”

Kara nods and the smile that she gives Lena reminds her of spring mornings and Lena thinks that she might one day learn all the words and how to talk in common tongue, but she will never be able to fully describe how wonderful she feels when Kara smiles at her.

 

 

 

They’ve been walking for a good half hour with Sam talking about everything she knows about Midvale when Kara interrupts her.

“I take it you lived here too?” Kara asks.

They are travelling along old, trodden, dusty roads, wide enough for at least three of the bigger wolves to run side by side, Lena thinks. Wood-rail fencing lines the side of the road and on the other side of it, Lena can see tall grasses, or some type of crop planted in rows upon rows, seemingly never ending. Every once in a while, she can see a house or two.

“No, not really. I went here with someone once or twice. Midvale has a beautiful beach, and the sunset is phenomenal,” Sam answers, and Lena hears a different timbre in her voice. It almost feels like a dream. “We made love on the beach from sunset to sunrise—”

“Gross,” Kara mutters, cutting Sam off.

“It’s not gross. It’s romantic. You should try it sometime,” Sam retorts with that smile that she only reserves for Kara. For Lena and Ruby, Sam’s smiles are always warm but somehow, Kara bears the brunt of what Lena thinks is Sam’s more playful side.

“Romantic?” Lena asks turning to her mate.

“Yes,” Sam nods solemnly then turns her head to Kara. “Kara, why don’t you explain to Lena what ‘romantic’ means?” Sam still has that smile, but now with more teeth, like a wider version of her original playful smile for Kara. But her mate doesn’t seem to be too amused with this.

“’Romantic’ is… uhmm… like—” Kara furrows her brows, her eyes focused on the ground. Lena can hear Sam struggling not to laugh which adds to Lena’s frustration.

She wants to understand. She’s been trying to talk and learn more. Kara and Sam have been teaching her, and she knows she’s learning rapidly, but situations like these, when even her mate can hardly explain a word, frustrate Lena. She could have learned more if she had stuck closer to her pack.

And yes, she knows it’s not her fault that she was made to live far from the pack but now she thinks that maybe she should have put more effort into learning how to speak the common tongue.

 “—well it’s something like an action or behavior that…uhmm…signifies that you l—love someone,” Kara continues.

It’s Lena’s turn to frown. “Love?”

Sam gasps causing Kara to groan. Lena can see Sam’s smile widen even further before she clears her throat and tries to adjust her expression to something more somber, her lips twitching in the process.

Kara, on the other hand, looks like she’s trying to win a staring competition with the ground.

“Love…is complicated. It takes many, many forms,” Kara breathes out. “And I don’t know much about it, to be honest, so I can’t really give you an accurate explanation of what it is.”

Sam clears her throat again and when Lena turns to her, her smile is now gentler. “I think what Kara is trying to say is that love is deeply personal. You cannot know it unless you’ve experienced it.”

Lena nods thoughtfully. She thinks she understands a part of it… but she’s heard the word used earlier.

“Sam made love on the beach,” Lena says, slowly. “It is romantic.”

This brings another round of Sam laughing and Kara groaning. “Ah, that kind of love is different. It is a physical joining of bodies for the purpose of pleasure or procreation… sometimes both. And yes, it can be romantic too, if you love the person you are doing it with.”

Lena chews on this for a moment before something resonates and she turns to Sam.

“Mating?” Lena asks and despite the darkness, she can see Kara blush.

“Yes! That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Sam exclaims.

“Sam mated on the beach. It is romantic,” Lena tries again.

“Yes, but it is only romantic because I love the person I was…uhmm… mating,” Sam answers.

“Lena understands,” Lena says, although she suspects there’s more to it than just simply that statement. But for now, Lena supposes, it will do. She glances at Ruby and then at Sam. “This person is Ruby’s sire?”

Sam hums. “I suppose you can say that.”

“This is unfair,” Kara suddenly says. “Why is it that when Lena asks you questions, you give her straight answers?”

“Because Lena knows the right questions to ask,” Sam answers simply.

Lena frowns at this. She’s not sure what ‘knowing the right questions’ mean. As far as she knows, she’s only following a logical progression of thought and confirming it via questions. She doesn’t actually know what the ‘right questions’ are. She simply knows what she wants to know and asks it.

Her musing—and Kara and Sam’s bickering—is interrupted by a familiar voice.

“Oh hey, it’s you four!”

All at once, the four travelers turn to find—

“Kelly Olsen?” Lena asks.

“Yes! You remembered!” Kelly smiles widely, her teeth glimmering in the darkness. She has a wicker basket covered by a simple cloth, tucked in one arm. Lena can hear the faint sound of something tinkling inside. “So, you get to Midvale after all. Where are you heading?”

“To the nearest inn. We need a place to get away from the sun,” Kara answers.

“Oh. Right. Vampire.”

“Yeah. I’m Kara, by the way,” Kara says then points to Lena, then to Sam, then finally to Ruby. “That’s Lena, werewolf. Sam is a demon, and, well, Ruby is a demon baby, but like…the totally adorable kind.” Lena sees Kara hesitate before adding, “Sam’s not blind. She just…”

“I need to close my eyes in the darkness—it’s an affliction of my kind, I guess,” Sam helps, shrugging, an easy smile on her countenance.

Kelly nods, holding her smile. She adjusts her wicker basket and Lena can tell it has significant weight. “Well, listen, it’s almost daylight and I have some space to spare, if you ladies don’t mind sharing the basement with a few herbs.”

“We don’t want to impose,” Sam says, waving her free hand.

“Oh, it’s no imposition at all. It’s closer than the nearest inn, with the added bonus of not being turned down for travelling with a banished wolf.”

Lena freezes, as do Sam and Kara. Before any of them can voice their concerns, however, Kelly says, “It’s the scars. Even if you hide behind your mask, they will see it. Besides, if they don’t see it immediately, when they find out that you lied to them, they are well within their rights to kick you out.” She levels a somber look at Kara. “And with a vampire in your party, you do not want to get kicked out in the middle of the day.”

“Why are you being kind?” Kara asks, Lena sensing the wariness emanating from her mate.

Kelly pauses and thinks before shrugging. “Not sure, actually. You four just look like you need a place to stay.”

Kelly adjusts her wicker basket once more and starts walking past them. “In any case, the offer is open. If you change your mind, it’s the last turn you passed, and then straight on for about ten minutes. You won’t miss it. It’s the only house you’ll find there.”

Lena looks at Sam and Kara who seem to be having a silent discussion. She’s not exactly sure what’s going on, but as usual, Lena waits. In the meantime, she turns to the rapidly brightening sky and frowns. Kara must get to shelter soon.

Her worry for Kara and impatience overtaking her instinct to defer to her mate, she decides and jogs after Kelly, ignoring Kara’s questioning gaze. “Lena will carry the basket, please,” she says, holding out her hand.

Kelly, without stopping, frowns at her. “Are you sure? It’s quite heavy.”

Lena nods. She’s sure. “Lena is strong.”

At least strong enough for this, Lena thinks.

Kelly hands the basket over and, just as she suspected, she barely feels its weight. She turns and finds Kara looking at her with an amused smile. Sam, on the other hand, looks somewhat proud. Ruby is asleep.

She hopes she doesn’t disappoint them.

 

 

 

“Get back here!” Alex Danvers mutters, running and grabbing after the runaway chicken.

All she catches is air.

She’s spent the last ten minutes trying to wrangle her chickens after she mistakenly spooked them out of the hen house as she was gathering eggs. It’s not that she doesn’t want them grazing around, but over the last few weeks, she’s been losing more chickens to foxes and maybe lesser Faes.

It’s not that she doesn’t want to share, but… her chickens.

One would think that after all these years, she’s learned a thing or two about wrangling chickens. Apparently, it’s a different skill set entirely. But Alex Danvers is nothing if not persistent and so for ten more minutes, she keeps trying.

Apparently, Alex Danvers also knows when to surrender.

Eventually, after once again failing to catch another chicken, she gives up and decides that she’ll just fix the fences, maybe even ask her wife to cast a ward against opportunistic scavengers. And foxes.

Besides, what’s that saying about chickens and roosting?

With this decision made, she straightens up and peers at the distance, seeing the familiar shape of her wife coming into view. Her brows furrow, however, upon seeing the three other figures walking beside her wife.

She jogs all the way to their gate.

“My beautiful wife tells me she’s picking up her jars of horror from the mountain, and she comes back with strays,” Alex says with an easy smile, walking towards her wife and giving her a kiss on the cheek, muttering, “I missed you.”

Kelly flashes her a smile and Alex’s heart hitches.

“I’d love to do introductions here but it’s almost sunrise and—” Kelly points to a tall, blonde with kind but striking blue eyes, “—I’m pretty sure vampires are allergic to that sort of thing.”

Alex nods, stepping aside, and eyeing their guests with suspicion, but—as she’s learned over the years—trusting her wife’s instinct on these things.

“Ah. A vampire. I’ll prepare the basement then,” Alex says, running ahead, stopping briefly to place another quick kiss on her wife’s cheeks, relishing the smile she receives in return, before disappearing inside their house.

She looks around, thinks that their home looks suitably clean, begrudgingly admitting that she should have at least cleared the dining table of the coffee mugs but thinks the guests won’t mind them, and heads to the closet to find extra sheets and pillows. She’s still in the process of gathering what their guests might need when she hears them enter their home.

“…extra room upstairs with a bed which would be good for your baby,” Alex hears Kelly saying just as the door opens. She turns a corner to greet them, pillows and sheets in her arms.

“Will these be enough?” Alex asks, knowing she’s cutting through a conversation but thinks Kelly won’t mind. The vampire Kelly pointed at earlier is instantly beside her.

“Please, let me carry that for you,” she asks, her hands outstretched, tiny fangs gleaming in the pale lighting inside their home. She’s seen enough vampires in her lifetime, but this one managed to cross the distance from her doorway to just outside their dining room in probably less than a blink of an eye, literally, which is quite a feat, even for a vampire. She’s never seen one move this fast.

But the way the vampire smiles at her is disarming, and not in the creepy way they usually do. This one looks genuinely warm, almost kind…which only makes Alex somewhat more suspicious.

“Alex, babe?” she hears her wife call from the doorway. Alex deposits the sheets and pillows on the waiting arms of the vampire and turns to her wife.

“Yes?” she shouts from the other end of the hallway connecting to the door.

“Come here for a second so we can make introductions,” Kelly says.

“Okay,” Alex says and jogs down the long hallway where her wife is waiting with a tall brunette with brown eyes, carrying a baby, and a raven-haired, green-eyed woman with scars on her face carrying Kelly’s basket.

A banished wolf.

Her alarms are raised but once again, she defers to her wife’s judgement, reserving her thoughts for later.

“This is Sam and her daughter Ruby,” Kelly says, gesturing to the tall brunette. “And the wolf is Lena. The vampire is Kara.”

“And Sam is…?” Alex asks, wary, her eyes darting from Lena to Sam.

Sam smiles and extends a hand. “Just your run-of-the-mill demon.” After a beat, Sam adds, “But not the flesh-eating kind so don’t worry.”

Alex, without really thinking about it, takes the demon’s proffered hand and shakes it firmly. Alex thinks she sees something flash in the demon’s eyes and Sam’s smile turns into something of a knowing smirk.

She knows?

But if she does, Sam doesn’t say anything but instead turns her attention back to Kelly. “I just need to put Ruby down and I can help you around the house if you want. I don’t sleep.”

Kelly nods. “I’ll show you to your room.” She turns to the wolf. “You can put the basket down, Lena. Thank you for your help.”

Alex watches as the banished wolf nods and does as instructed. She notices the distinct moon-shaped mating bite on the wolf and, unable to help herself, she asks, “You are not travelling with your mate?”

Alex blinks and suddenly Kara, the vampire, is in front of her, standing between her and Lena with a scowl, former blue and now red eyes tight and the little fangs now fully extended past her bottom lip. “I’m her mate,” Kara says, the kindness and warmth in her voice has all but disappeared, only to be replaced by a warning lilt, almost as if she’s challenging Alex to dare and stake claims on Lena. Alex swears she hears the vampire growl from somewhere inside her chest.

Instead of continuing to stare, however, Alex’s eyes dart down to the space where Kara’s shoulder and neck meet and sure enough finds a similar moon-shaped mark.

Interesting.

“Sorry,” Alex says, arms raised. “It’s not every day I come across a wolf mated to a non-wolf.”

“Don’t worry about Kara,” Sam says, still with that smirk. “She’s harmless and house trained.” Sam’s free arm wraps around Kara’s neck and drags the vampire away. “Stop that,” she hears Sam mutter at Kara. “Our host was just asking a question.”

“Alex…” Alex hears the warning tone on Kelly. She turns to her wife.

“I really was just curious, babe,” Alex says and when she turns back to the wolf, Alex finds that the wolf’s attention is now focused entirely on the vampire being dragged away by the demon.

“Okay, go be curious somewhere else,” Kelly says with a small laugh. “I’ll show our guests to their rooms.”

Alex sighs.

A small sound from outside reminds her of what she was doing.

She supposes she can try to catch the chickens again.

 

 

 

 They call him Brainy.

It’s a name he has earned. His memory is absolute. He never forgets what he has learned, what he has seen, what he has heard.

This serves him well most days.

Some days, however, he would rather forget.

Like today, for example.

Brainy thinks he’s seen the most beautiful being in all creation a couple of weeks back.

He was in the library, looking for a specific scroll when sees a glimpse of something that made his chest tighten.

If he closes his eyes, he can still see her hair, dark as night, her warm, brown eyes, her soft features and the warm smile… It’s mostly the smile that he can remember. He has never known anyone of their kind to be capable of smiling with such fullness and warmth. He imagines what it must be like to be on the receiving end of one such smile. He thinks it must be devastating, in the best possible way.

But that’s precisely why he must forget it.

It is haunting his steps, his thoughts, his dreams… especially his dreams. It is interrupting his studies and his work.

But today, there is much work to be done. Some of the older manuscripts are starting to fall apart with age and although he can recite them by heart, it must still be written down as proof that it did exist.

So, his work is racing against the ravages of time and he must be precise without sacrificing absolute faithfulness to the original manuscript. He is sure he can do it in less time than his fellow scholars…

…if only he can forget about that smile.

He continues with his work until well past midnight, finally able to push that haunting smile into a corner of his mind where it would stay until it decides to rear its beautiful head again. The library is quiet now, save for the consistent scratching that his pen makes against the fresh scroll. For a while, that is only sound that bounces around the library.

Until Brainy hears a soft cough, rather like the clearing of throat, but gently, perhaps so as not to startle Brainy.

It startles him, nonetheless.

“I’m sorry for interrupting you, but are you the one they call ‘Brainy’?” A soft voice asks and Brainy wonders why he did not hear the girl approach.

He lifts his head to answer but his reply is stuck in his throat, his earlier theory proven right.

The smile, now properly directed at Brainy, is devastating.

“Hi. My name is Nia Nal and I was told you know a way out of Metropolis?”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

It takes Querl “Brainy” Dox a couple of beats to understand what is being asked of him. And once it becomes clear, he denies it, of course. No one in their right mind would admit to what the woman is asking.

With much effort, he furrows his brows and feigns ignorance. “Apologies, my lady. I—I’m not quite sure I understand,” he stumbles through his words. That part is not a lie.

Immediately, the woman’s smile fades to be replaced by a frown on her lips and a thoughtful stare.

“I was told—” The woman halts, sighs, and continues with a slight wave of her hand, her silken robe echoing the movement of her arm. “Actually, I think I may have the wrong person.” The woman looks around the empty, slightly dark library. “I’d appreciate it if you never speak of this to anyone.”

“Never speak of what?”

“Precisely,” the woman says, nodding with a slight smile. It doesn’t escape Brainy that the smile disappears as soon as the woman takes one look at him before turning to leave.

Hours later, he will still not understand what exactly came over him when he reaches out and grabs the woman by her wrist.

“Wait. Please.”

He thinks it’s her smile.

He’s probably right.

 

 

 

 

It isn’t easy tracking down a vampire who does not want to be found.

This is made significantly harder when the tracks of the vampire are a couple weeks old.

Lucky for Cat Grant, she’s no longer tracking just a vampire. She’s also looking for a banished wolf and a mother and child.

Even luckier, whoever is with Kara is also being chased, apparently, as they find out the day Veronica and Cat decided to investigate what happened in Arkham.

They find Gayle’s trail of bodies, which leads them to the humble house, now standing as a silent witness to the chaos that happened inside. It still has traces of Gayle’s blood…and no one else’s. From there, they track Kara’s movements to the tunnels, deeper and deeper until they find curious scuff marks following Kara’s tracks.

She hears Veronica sigh for the tenth time in the span of a few minutes.

“I did say the tunnels of Arkham are not exactly pleasant, but you insisted on coming,” Cat says, eyeing Veronica who, in her slim, sinful dress, looks so out of place in the filth and darkness.

“Yes,” Veronica sighs, “But this is my idea, so just ignore me. I’ll get over it as soon as I’ve had a proper bath.” She turns to the marks on the ground and the walls. “What do you think these are?”

“I have an idea, but I don’t understand why they’d be chased by these creatures,” Cat answers as they follow the curious trail deeper into the tunnels. “Lesser demons… which means whoever they’re running from is powerful enough to control a hoard of them.”

Veronica stops walking and Cat can see her delicate brow raised. “Kara has acquired interesting travel companions. First, the exiled daughter of an alpha, and now someone notorious enough that the Lords of Hell would send their grunts to give chase.”

Cat hums as she continues walking. She hears Veronica resume her silent pace as well.

They walk quietly for hours, still following the curious trail.

“So, you think it’s the mother and daughter that Imra reported?” Veronica finally asks the question that Cat has been asking herself for the past hour.

“It’s highly likely,” Cat replies softly, turning to look at Veronica behind her, their voices echoing as the tunnels are now becoming emptier. “But we’re not here to chase them, so as curious as I am about her other companions, that’s not really important right now.”

Veronica nods and Cat sees her narrowing her eyes. For the second time that day, Veronica stops, but this time, she flags down Cat who knits her brow in silent question. Wordlessly, she gestures to somewhere behind Cat.

“Curious that two ancient vampires should find me here, of all places.” The words come from a silhouette made of light that seems to bend back into itself rather than illuminating its surroundings. Tall and slender, its tone is as quiet as the foreboding silence surrounds them now like a fog.

“We’re tracking kin,” Cat explains, although she’s not sure why she offered any information at all.

“I suppose you can say so am I,” the bright figure answers.

“We don’t want any trouble,” Cat says tentatively, though she holds her ground.

“No? Neither do I. But the kin you are looking for, I can tell you they were the ones who created this rather amusing death pile,” the figure says and only then does Cat notice the still heap of demon flesh.

“Except this one,” the figure continues, and with a gesture, a mangled body dislodges itself from the pile and hovers, bathed in the same light as the figure. Once the light dissipates, the body drops with a dull thud, quickly absorbed in the silence. “I don’t suppose you’re also looking for a wolf?”

“They are reported to be travelling with one, yes,” Cat supplies. She can feel Veronica just behind her. This gives her a measure of confidence, at least. “So, I take it you didn’t send these lesser demons?”

There’s laughter, or maybe Cat imagines it. It’s hard to see any detail in the light that makes up the figure. “No, it would be rather silly to send these mindless creatures after my…” There’s a pause that stretches until Cat thinks the figure has left the sentence unfinished. “…quarry.”

“If it’s any help, we were told that the vampire we are chasing also travels with a mother and her daughter—” Cat stops when she hears something snap. The pile of bodies catches fire, blue and black flame dancing on the mangled forms. It makes quick work of the carcasses and sooner than Cat would have thought possible, there’s nothing left…not even ashes.

“A daughter, you say?” the figure asks, and Cat could almost hear the curiosity dancing in its passive tone.

“At least that’s what we’ve been told,” Cat answers.

“And they are travelling with the vampire and the wolf?”

“Yes.”

“And you are tracking the vampire and the wolf?”

“Only the vampire. We don’t care about the wolf.”

There’s a pause and Cat thinks the conversation is over until the bright figure speaks again.

“Close your eyes,” the figure says in a manner that leaves no room for question. Cat merely glances at Veronica, who looks at her for affirmation. She nods and they both close their eyes. But it’s not nearly enough to hide that the figure has unleashed a light so bright it penetrates the skin.

When Cat opens her eyes, she can see red flecks dancing in front of her. It takes a moment before she can see properly again in the dark. It takes another moment for her eyes to register the tall figure standing in front of her with chestnut hair, pale skin, and cold, deep, blue eyes, colder even than Kal’s. She is wearing a loose white dress, with most of her arms and thighs wrapped unevenly in white bandage-like fabric. There is no more trace of the bright light that covered her entirely just a moment ago.

“I think I’ll follow you for a while, then,” the figure says. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Cat Grant, Veronica Sinclair.” The figure does not extend her hand and the smile she casts is curious.

“How do you know our names?” Veronica asks, her eyes narrowed.

“Much the same way I know most things,” the woman answers with a shrug. “I simply do.”

“And your name?” Cat is silently grateful for Veronica’s curiosity outweighing their fear.

“You may call me Andrea,” the figure answers.

 

 

 

 

Alex Danvers has lived a long and eventful life. She’s travelled places and seen what only few humans are ever fortunate or privileged to see. But none of them will ever compare to Midvale’s sunsets.

The orange sky casts a beautiful glow on their ranch, making everything look warmer. Alex looks over the rest of the land and in her mind, she can already picture the crops she wants to plant, she just needs to learn how. Already, she’s gathered some books she found on their travels and at night she reads them. They’re not the most riveting pieces of literature, and most evenings Kelly has to wake her up to set the book aside and kiss her goodnight, but she needs to learn. For Kelly.

She has, however, given up on chasing the chickens. Just in time for Kelly to show up with refreshments and a side of chiding for Alex giving up even the pretense of attempting to catch the stupid birds. But their teasing and small talk soon turn into something less… innocent, and they end up making out by the side of the barn like they didn’t have an actual house or bedroom in which to do these things. At the moment, she has Kelly pinned, hands roving greedily while Kelly’s are tangled in her hair, the slight pull on her roots encouraging her.

They’re not resorting to the outdoors for an intimate moment because it’s too crowded in their house. If anything, despite having four more guests, their morning has been relatively quiet. Alex was able to do most of her chores around the ranch while Kelly went to the market to sell the potions and salves that provided their main source of income. It doesn’t bring in much, but it keeps them and their animals fed so they can’t complain. In the afternoon, Kelly cast a spell on their fences, hoping to strongly discourage other predators from harassing their livestock… mostly Alex’s chickens.

They are making out against the side of the barn because, despite their long and wonderful (for the most part) marriage, they still can’t seem to get enough of each other and take advantage of any opportunity to show their affections for each other whenever they feel like it. And Alex strongly feels like showing her affections for her wife, right now, despite knowing that their guests will be up soon.

The wolf and the vampire had slept the day away while the demon and her spawn mostly played all morning. When the demon was able to put her spawn down for a nap sometime in the afternoon, she helped clean around the house but laughed at Alex’s request to help with corralling the remaining chickens.

“Too easy, Alex,” the demon explained with a laugh when Alex asked why she wouldn’t do it. “Might I suggest asking Lena when she wakes up? It will be entertaining… to me at least.”

“Oh no,” Alex shook her head. “I’m not about to go anywhere near her when she’s got a mate that goes feral at a drop of a hat.”

“Kara? No, she’s actually sweet. Moody and brooding, but sweet,” the demon said in what Alex suspects is her most reassuring tone. It wasn’t reassuring at all. “But don’t you find that interesting?” the demon asked then, a smirk forming in her lips.

“Should I?” Alex asked, picking up a bucket and heading to the small barn to the right of their house. Alex took most of the summer, a year ago, building their little barn, enough to house a few farm animals and to serve as their secondary storage. While it’s not her proudest achievement, she knows it’s sturdy and well made, at least. Their animals, a cow, a couple of horses, three goats and two pigs, survived last winter well enough, so she knows it’s a good barn. Now, if only they could afford to buy some more paint for it so it doesn’t look so…plain.

“I would think a hunter like you would know a lot about wolves and vampires at the very least,” the demon said quietly, trailing a step behind Alex.

Alex stopped then and turned around to find the demon looking at her, a tiny smile curling at the edges of her lips, but none of it reaching her dark eyes.

“What I am is between me and my wife,” Alex said, her teeth gritted. “She knows and that’s all that matters.”

“What you are is no concern of mine,” the demon said with a carefree eye roll. “And as you may have noticed, I never questioned what you are. I merely asked if you find it interesting that a vampire is more territorial regarding her mate than a wolf is.”

Alex sighed, perhaps knowing that the demon would not drop her questioning. “It is, but it’s none of my business.”

The demon nodded then, turned around, and started to go back to the house, but not before Alex heard her say, “It will be.”

 

 

 

 

Her hand is halfway up her wife’s thigh, Kelly grinding her hips into Alex, both of them sighing into each other’s mouths when they hear a small cough to their right.

“You might not want to do that out here in the open,” the demon says, her spawn standing beside her, holding on to her hand and looking up at her mother.

Kelly is the first one to pull away and clear her throat. “I’m guessing you’re done preparing dinner?”

“Yes, although I must say, I tasted some of your fermented kale and it’s quite delicious,” the demon says nodding. Her spawn takes one look at Alex, smiles, then tugs at her mother’s arm, asking to be let up.

The demon smiles at her spawn and picks her up, and Alex can swear she’s never seen a demon look at anything with more dedication and gentleness. It’s as if, for a moment, the demon is lost in the world of just her and her spawn.

“Ah, now I have a better excuse not to eat it,” Alex says. “If a demon says it’s delicious, then I trust it even less.”

Kelly laughs. “You really don’t have a choice, babe,” she says, placing a small kiss on Alex’s lips. Alex groans, the thought of eating fermented kale already ruining whatever appetite she has.

“As I was saying, try not to do anything like that out in the open when Lena is up, unless you want to be subject to some deeply uncomfortable questions, all asked in third person,” the demon smiles then.

“What’s her story?” Kelly asks, straightening her skirt. Alex, on the other hand, is busy observing the demon’s spawn. It looks so much like a human baby, unless you look at its liquid eyes.

“Lena? She’s just learning the common tongue. She’s had it rough most of her life, so banishment might just be the best thing to ever happen to her, to be honest,” the demon answers with a shrug. Alex can’t help but hear the slight tinge of fondness in the demon’s voice.

“And she’s mated to a vampire…” Kelly observes, although Alex isn’t quite sure if it’s a question or just a statement.

“Ah, that story, you’re going to have to ask one of them to tell. I suggest asking the vampire though.”

Alex frowns. “I’d rather not. She might think I’m trying to seduce her girlfriend again.”

Kelly shakes her head but smiles at Alex, giving her another chaste kiss before gathering the refreshments she brought with her. “I’m going to clean up here while you finish your tasks then we can have dinner.”

“Oh uhmm. You might want to leave out something for Kara and Lena to do while you two sleep,” the demon suggests. “Kara doesn’t need to feed tonight which means Lena doesn’t need to hunt, but I don’t think you’d want the two of them wandering around your property aimlessly.”

“You said this afternoon I can ask the wolf to corral the chickens,” Alex says.

“I did,” the demon nods, “And I would love to watch Lena do that, but you’re too scared of Kara to ask.”

Alex feels herself getting red. “I’m not scared. I’m just being careful.”

The demon lets out a short laugh. “Well, as I said early this morning, Kara is completely harmless… unless you threaten Lena.”

Without waiting for Alex to respond, the demon turns around and heads back inside the house. Alex looks at her wife. “You know, I trust you, right?” Kelly nods. “But this might be the strangest thing you’ve ever done, babe.”

“Is it?” Kelly asks, her tone low but gentle. “Don’t you want us to find friends and maybe settle down for good instead of having to move around every couple of decades?”

Alex places a chaste kiss on her wife’s lips. “Settling down does sound nice.”

“Who knows? They just might lead us someplace where we don’t have to hide you anymore,” Kelly says and the hope and love that Alex finds in her wife’s eyes almost breaks her heart.

“Anywhere is good as long as I have you, babe,” Alex says and she leans toward her wife for another kiss but stops when she hears the demon speaking loudly from somewhere inside their house, “Oh hey there, Lena! I hope you slept well.”

It is much too loud, much too nice, and Alex understands exactly what the demon just did.

“I guess that’s our cue…” Kelly says with a smirk as she takes Alex’s hand and leads her back to the house.

 

 

 

 

Lena looks at the… what did Alex call them? Chickens?

Tiny, white, flightless birds that never cease to cluck and are far too noisy for something so small.

“So, basically,” Alex starts, and Lena can see the human keeping her distance. From time to time, she can see Alex’s eyes glance at something behind Lena. “I just need you to catch all of the chickens and put them back inside their house.” She points to a tiny structure by the—what Alex calls a ‘barn’ but looks more like an unfinished house and smells too much like dried grass and a weird sort of excrement.

“How many?” Lena asks even though she already knows. One sweep of her surrounding and she sees about a dozen of them clucking about. She can scent a few more behind the barn but might as well make sure she has the right number.

It’s still a rather odd request, but she doesn’t want to be a burden and would like to help their hosts, so she agrees, albeit hesitantly. Not because it’s hard. She hesitates because it’s too easy and she can’t quite understand why the human can’t do it. There’s a part of her that’s starting to be offended at this, but they are guests, and the basement where they slept has been the most comfortable place Lena has slept in in a long time. She’s not about to lose that by getting indignant over a simple request.

“There’s around twenty of them that are loose, and as soon as you catch one, make sure to close the hen house door or they’ll run right back out. And lock it when you’re done.”

Lena can see four pairs of eyes looking at her as if they’re expecting a spectacle or something. It’s just… tiny, noisy birds. She still doesn’t understand why she should be the one doing it. But she’s already agreed. Besides, Kara is watching her.

With a shrug, Lena begins unbuttoning her pants, toeing her sandals off at the same time.

“Oh, hey! What the hell are you doing?” Alex asks, covering her eyes, panic evident in her tone.

Before Lena can explain, Kara is already beside her with a smile. “What did we say about getting naked in front of others?” Kara asks.

“Not to do it,” Lena replies but she’s still confused. She can walk around naked in front of Sam and Kara doesn’t seem to mind. But it’s already turning into a strange night, so she heaves a sigh and walks around to the back of the barn to shift there, quickly followed by Kara.

Kara picks up her clothes after her and with a scratch behind Lena’s ear, silently reassures her. Of what, she’s not sure.

“What the—” she hears Alex mutter as she pads back in front of the small human. The night has taken on different energy. Everything feels more alive. And the chickens are noisier. They are tickling something in Lena that she does not appreciate.

“How are you this huge?” Alex asks, her eyes wide, roving all over Lena.

Before anyone can answer, however, Sam cuts them all off. “Hey, Little Wolf, Ruby wants to play after you’re done with the chickens. Do you mind?” She sees Ruby squirming in Sam’s arms, reaching out to Lena, a thin line of drool already trailing off the side of her lips.

She hears Alex whisper, “Little wolf?”

Lena huffs. “No, I don’t think she minds, Sam,” Kara answers, giving Lena another ear scratch. Lena tilts her head lower to get some more, which Kara obliges.

Sam then goes back to stand beside Kelly who has been observing everything with a smile.

“Now, about these chickens,” Kara says. “I mean, if you don’t want to do it, you know I’d be more than happy to.”

But the incessant clucking is grating at Lena’s nerves, so she huffs and levels Kara with a stare, determined to silence the noisy birds.

“Okay then,” Kara says and with one final pat on her snout, she starts jogging towards Sam, Ruby, and Kelly who are standing just outside of the doorway, two of them with identical look of amusement on their faces. Ruby, on the other hand, is still desperately reaching her tiny arms towards Lena, wordlessly trying to squirm out of her mother’s grip and run to the wolf.

On her way, Kara drags Alex with her, interrupting her staring at Lena with a mix of awe and disbelief.

“Stop ogling my mate,” Lena hears Kara mutter and for a second, she feels her heart skip, before resuming a more manic phase. If it wasn’t for the noisy clucking, she would have forgotten her chore and just run after her mate. As it stands, however, the birds are now her sole focus.

She easily spots a group of them by the fence and she stalks towards them, her feet silent as the dark and soon enough she’s right behind them, watching as they cluck noisily, pecking mindlessly at the ground. It takes them a few seconds before they notice the huge, dark wolf, watching them.

And when they finally do notice Lena, she is ready for them. Before they can even panic and cluck, she snarls at them, fangs bared, her will imposing.

Just as she suspected, they freeze. From there it’s a simple matter of telling them where to go and what to do. It takes Lena one more snarl, louder than the first, before all twenty chickens, some of them coming out from wherever they were hiding, are marching in a line with minimal clucking, discouraged by the growl that Lena unleashes whenever she hears even a single sound from them.

The door, however, is a different matter as she can’t work the lock in her wolf form. But Kara, already anticipating Lena’s needs, is there, waiting with an amused smile, watching the last chicken enter the hen house before gently closing and locking the door.

It is Alex who breaks the silence as Kara and Lena walk toward them, with Ruby running unsteadily towards Lena.

“Okay… that was… not what I was expecting,” Alex says looking at Lena and then the still-silent hen house. “I thought I was going to see a huge wolf chase chickens.”

“You’re losing your touch then,” Sam says. When Alex raises a brow at her, Sam answers her with a finger gesturing around them. “Listen.”

Lena watches as Alex frowns but does as Sam asks. “What am I supposed to hear? I’m hearing nothing…” And then it dawns on Alex. “I’m hearing nothing!”

Kara nods. “Yeah, we’ve discovered that animals are terrified of Lena, for obvious reasons, especially when they know she’s hunting. The forest goes eerily quiet and we’ve seen Lena stare down smaller creatures, willing them to go where she wants them to without much effort on her part,” Kara explains, but Lena knows all of Kara’s attention is on Lena. “I’m guessing the reason Sam convinced you to ask Lena to chase the chickens is to see if it works on domesticated animals, too.”

In her periphery, Sam is smirking. “I don’t know if I would have called Alex’s chickens domesticated before Lena snarled them into submission. But now they definitely are.”

 

 

 

 

It is near midnight and Kelly Olsen can hear Kara and Lena outside in a rather spirited game of chase. Except when she looks out the window, she sees nothing. She hears Kara laughing, can almost make out the gentle huff of Lena so she knows they’re just running around, but if it’s because they’re too fast for Kelly to see or the night hides them well, she can’t tell.

“I wonder if they realize…” Kelly starts as she turns to her wife, who is squinting at a book in the pale light of their bedroom lamp. “…exactly how powerful they are.”

Their bedroom, much like their home, is adequate. It has a fireplace and a bed, a built-in closet, and a separate door for room bath. It was previously owned by a human who, after losing his entire family in an accident, let the place fall to ruin before selling it and moving to parts unknown.

When they bought it a couple years back, it took them the better part of their first year just cleaning and fixing up the house. There was mold and rot and termites, but it was perfect for the two of them. Far enough from nosey neighbors and close enough to a market where they can buy and sell goods.

But the master bedroom is the one place in the entire house that was kept in excellent condition, a testament to the man’s dedication to his wife at least, that he never slept there after she died but cleaned and maintained it regularly.

The bed is especially comfortable.

“Together?” Alex asks, looking up from her book on homesteading.

“Yes, but also individually. Lena, at least, I can tell is young, but already she’s powerful on her own… do you think that’s why she was banished?” She moves to join her wife in their bed, resting her head on Alex’s shoulder. “Kara, on the other hand… vampire ages have always been so notoriously difficult to pin down.”

She feels Alex nod. “Vampires and elves. You know, I once met an elf that looked so much younger than me, and I thought she might be at least a few hundred years old. Turns out, she’s at least ten thousand years old.”

“That’s… pretty young for them, right?” Kelly asks. “Do you know? I’ve never actually met an elf.”

“Well, they don’t wander much. They tend to keep to themselves. They’re worse than vampires that way.”

“But you’ve met one… That’s kind of cool, right?”

Alex hums. “And they told me to find you.”

“Really? You’ve never told me that…”

Kelly hears a soft gasp coming from Alex who closes her book and shifts so that she’s looking at Kelly. “I haven’t? No, that’s not right. I know I told you that I was looking for you… that I had to find you.”

“Yes, but you never told me why.”

“Oh…” Alex clears her throat. “Well, it was weird. I first saw her in my dreams. We’d have full conversations, but I could never remember what we talked about when I woke up. And then one evening, she told me she’d come find me. And she did. That’s when she told me to look you up… and I never saw her again.”

“Huh… that’s interesting,” Kelly says, her brows furrowing. “Did she say why?”

“Not really,” Alex says with a shake of her head and shrug. “I remember she said that it was important. And for the life of me, I can’t quite understand why I believed her.”

“Does it really matter now? Maybe she knew we’d fall in love.”

“Maybe,” Alex says, and even now, after so many years of marriage, Kelly’s heart still hitches when Alex smiles at her—that shy smile that turns into a full grin. “Whatever her reason was, I’m glad I found you.”

“Even if I insist that you eat vegetables?” Kelly asks, teasing.

“Babe, I’d eat every single vegetable in the world if it meant I get to kiss you and sleep beside you. It’s a small sacrifice, really.”

“Okay, well I’ll remember you said that every time you look a little green after eating my fermented kale.”

Alex rolls her eyes. “The demon likes it. I trust those kale jars less now.”

“You know she doesn’t eat it, right?” Kelly asks.

“What do you mean? She had dinner with us,” Alex says, and Kelly can see the lines on her forehead. “I saw her devour an entire jar.”

“Yeah, but she—” And it hits Kelly then. “You don’t know. You haven’t noticed?”

Alex sits straighter now, pulling away from Kelly. “Babe… you’re scaring me. What don’t I know?”

“She lied,” Kelly says. “When she said she’s just a normal demon, she lied. I thought you knew she was lying, so I didn’t say anything.”

“How was I supposed to know that?”

“Well… you’re a hunter. Shouldn’t you know about these things?”

“I hunt witches, babe. That’s how I found you, remember?”

“Yes, but you also took care of demons on the side, right?”

“Only when they need be. I don’t actively hunt them down.”

Kelly is now silently grateful to Earlier-this-Morning-Kelly for thinking of casting a spell around their bedroom, basically sound-proofing it. Admittedly, her reasoning for it was not so that they can gossip.

“She’s… terrifying,” Kelly whispers. “I know Kara knows, and it’s the only reason I trust Sam. But I can feel the depths of her power… or rather the bottomless pit of it. Whenever I’m near her, she does a good enough job of keeping her powers hidden. To the casual observer, she may even pass as a human. She certainly looks like one.”

“So…” Alex starts, her brows furrowed. “ So… you’re saying we should be careful around her?”

Kelly hums. “I don’t know. I think Ruby grounds her. I think Ruby is the only reason she’s even managing to keep her powers tempered. And she’s highly protective of Lena and Kara.”

There’s a moment where they both don’t talk, each lost to their own thoughts until Alex breaks the silence.

“How did you manage to find them again, babe?”

Kelly laughs. “I swear I was just looking for my kale jars.”

“I knew there was a reason I don’t trust your kale jars.”

 

 

 

 

“Is it just me or is Lena actually much taller now?” Sam asks as she greets Kara and Lena outside the front door. The two of them spent most of the evening playing chase around the forest near Kelly and Alex’s house.

They had started with just playing inside the ranch but Lena is much too big for such a small space, and Kara was slightly concerned that they’d accidentally destroy something, so they decided to move to the forest. By the end of their play, both of them are sweaty, out of breath, completely exhausted but also somewhat refreshed. Kara can tell that Lena had held back, but even so, it was getting harder and harder to keep up with her.

 “I think so?” Kara says, tilting her head up to look at Lena who is sitting tall and proud beside her, tongue lolling out as they’re both still catching their breath, a couple of dead bucks lying at her feet. They had decided to end the night with a race from the forest to the house, each of them carrying a buck. Lena won, barely.

It just makes sense that Lena’s holding herself taller now that her pack is no longer holding her back, Kara reasons to herself. “More important though, do you think these will be enough to feed Kelly and Alex? I’m not sure how much humans eat, actually.”

Sam laughs. “I’m pretty sure that’s more than enough.”

“Oh good,” Kara nods. “I mean… that’s good right? Or do you think we need to hunt more?”

At this, Lena huffs and nudges Kara’s cheek with her nose. “Yeah, okay, we’ll take a bath and then we’ll just… Oh you know, I found some books. Do you want me to teach you how to read? It might be boring, but I think you should still learn how.” Lena doesn’t react, so Kara turns to Sam.

“What do you think, Sam?”

“I think that’s an excellent idea, but you know I can just use my powers and teach her that way, right?” She can see a tiny glint of fire in Sam’s eyes, and the whine coming from Lena confirms her suspicions.

“No,” Kara growled at Sam. “The last time you used your powers on her, the pain was so visceral I felt it. Besides, I think it’s a good bonding experience for us.”

Sam rolls her eyes. “Or you know… you two could just… I don’t know… fuck. That’s a great bonding experience too.”

“Okay, that’s it. You’re not allowed anywhere near Lena for the next millennia.”

This, apparently, is the wrong thing to say as Sam laughs harder. “That’s a long time to make her wait. Damn, Kara.”

“You’re the worst,” Kara mutters as she gestures for Lena to follow her inside. Lena hesitates for a second, staring at Sam before finally standing to follow her mate.

“Well, at least start practicing now. Because otherwise, how will you handle her heat?”

And that’s the moment Kara remembers that Sam never does anything seemingly stupid without an actual reason behind it. Kara stills mid-step.

“If my knowledge of wolf mating habits is correct, and it is because I took a deep dive into Lena’s mind, their mating season is coming fast… which means only one thing.”

Sam leaves it at that, instead grabbing the hind legs of the dead bucks by the doorway and dragging them to the kitchen.

Kara looks at Lena who doesn’t feel compelled to hide before shifting to her human form this time.

“Sam is right,” Lena says plainly. “But Kara does not need to worry. Lena can do it.”

And it just makes everything worse for Kara, of course. Because she knows it’s her job to satisfy her mate’s heat. Admittedly she still has no idea how she’s going to do it.

Okay, that’s a lie. She knows how two women do that. She’s not a prude. But she’s not quite sure if it’s enough to satisfy Lena’s heat. If she knew she was going to be mated to a wolf, she’d have read up on their lore and biology more. She didn’t even think she would be mated, let alone to a wolf. As it stands, she only has a basic knowledge of her mate, and that’s not going to be enough.

Besides, as far as she knows, Lena’s never spent her heat with anyone else, so she also knows that Lena can take care of herself… but she also suspects that she just suffers through it instead of actually taking care of it.

“Kara?” The warm palm on her cheeks and the odd cadence on her name pulls her out of her manic reverie. “Do not worry. Lena can do it.”

The smile Lena gives her is genuinely kind—a reassurance, Kara thinks, which should really help, but doesn’t. Still, she appreciates the fact that Lena tries. So she nods, smiles what she hopes is a warm smile, and gently leads Lena back inside for the promised bath and reading lessons.

 

 

 

 

Three figures stand in the sheer darkness on the crossroads where the trail ends.

“One leads to Midvale, if I remember correctly,” Cat says. “While the other leads to Metropolis, the land of the elves.”

“And this is significant because?” Andrea asks. Cat is still deciding whether having her around is a good thing. She’s not about to admit that Andrea terrifies her.

“The vampire has only one friend that we know of who can help her hide,” Veronica answers.

“And that friend is an elf,” Andrea deduces. “What are the chances of your vampire going to Midvale instead?”

“It’s much harder to hide in Midvale unless you know someone there. It’s a sleepy place, filled with nothing but farmlands and simple-minded but tight-knit folks,” Cat mutters almost to herself. “They would stick out like a sore thumb there.”

“And you’re sure they don’t know anyone there?”

Cat narrows her eyes. “I’m sure, at least, that the wolf and our vampire don’t know anyone from Midvale, but I believe the mother might know someone there.”

“No, she doesn’t,” Andrea says with a certainty that makes Cat suspicious.

“And you know this how?”

“Because the last time she went there was with me.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Alex Danvers dreams. Or she remembers.

They are, too often, one and the same.

She is in a circular cavern, stifling in the heat of the torches used to illuminate it. She can see the ancient writings on the wall and even to this day, she has no idea what they meant. It doesn’t matter. She destroyed that cavern shortly after this.

But in her dreams, the cavern hasn’t collapsed in on itself yet. She hasn’t…

There are four figures in the center. One is a man whose face is hidden beneath a heavy looking hood, his robes dark and stiff. Three of them are kneeling. One of them is her.

She can see the sweat forming just beneath the thin, linen robe she’s wearing, cinched at the waist with a leather belt. She sees the sweat dripping from her brows and chin. She sees them drop on the rocky ground.

The man is saying something, but she can barely hear him now.

She sees herself look up at the robed man. She sees the dedication and utter belief in her eyes. She hears the words—her oath.

“Why are you still dreaming of these things?”

She turns to her right and finds a familiar figure, an elf with dark brown eyes and hair darker than night. Her countenance is serene, her face is young. She’s smiling and it reminds Alex that this always somewhat annoys her. It reminds her of the way the demon smirks. Like there’s some hidden truth they know and they’re mocking everyone for not knowing it.

“I haven’t seen you in a long time,” Alex says. Her gaze has now returned to herself. She just finished her oath and is now accepting, with outstretched hands, the sword the robed man offers.

“That sword is still with me, by the way, in case you want it back,” the elf says.

“Keep it. It is a relic from a time I no longer wish to remember,” Alex mutters. Her other self unsheathes the sword and uses it to draw her blood, slashing her wrist. She smears her blood all over the blade. For a moment, the sword gleams a faint but ominous red until it absorbs the blood Alex offered. Now, it looks nothing more like an ordinary sword.

She sees herself looking at it in awe.

She wants to punch herself then. Or hug herself and tell her…

“Yet, you keep dreaming about it,” the elf says with a raised brow.

“And how would you know what I keep dreaming about?”

“I have my hobbies.”

“In my culture, that’s called stalking.”

“I prefer to see it as me watching over my favorite human.”

“Last I heard, I’m the only human you know and interact with.”

The elf nods. “That makes you my favorite.”

Alex doesn’t say anything for a moment. She sees herself stand and walk out of the cavern, holding the sword close to her chest, as if it were the most precious thing in the universe. And for a time, it really was.

Her dream is about to end. Or at least this dream. Usually, she wakes up after this, but now that the elf is with her, she’s not sure when her dream will end... or if it will end at all.

“So, have you grown bored of your ivory tower and remembered me and my conversational prowess? Is that why you’re here?” Alex eventually asks when her dream fades like mist. They are now in an endless room of nothingness. It is devoid of any material thing, only light and space, stretching in infinity.

Except for the chair that Alex summons.

And the decanter of wine she hasn’t tasted in over a hundred years.

And a plate heaping with bacon that she can’t eat too much of when she’s awake.

And the humble wooden table that holds these items.

“Wine and bacon. Interesting choice,” her companion says, partaking of the wine and the bacon. The glass she summons with a flick of her hand looks delicately thin, as if any sudden movement or just a mellow breeze will shatter it.

“Ah, we’re back to ignoring my questions and only answering them when it concerns whatever it is that you want,” Alex observes. She sips on her wine. It is sweet, with hints of something like lemon.

“That has always been our arrangement,” the elf says, drawing her hair back and summoning a tall but comfortable looking chair. “You just insist on talking about mundane things.”

“Sure, that’s it,” Alex mutters into her wine goblet. She has just changed her mind and decided a wine goblet was much better than that poor cup she had initially gotten for herself. Her goblet is made of worn copper, bejeweled and vain. It is heavy and indulgent which Alex can afford to have as this is all just a dream, after all. “So, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company this fine evening?”

“I so missed your mockery. No one ever talks to me like that.”

“That’s because no one ever talks to you. Period.”

“That’s not entirely true,” the figure smiles wider. She flicks her hand and the wine glass disappears. Her countenance turns serious. “You are hosting a wolf and a vampire.”

It is not a question.

“Let me guess. You want me to protect them or something?”

“Don’t be silly. They are far more powerful than you. They do not need your protection. No.” The elf stands and the empty room dissolves and transforms into Alex’s basement. Beyond the rows of shelves filled with Kelly’s herbs, some preserved fruits, the evil kale jars, bottled potions and salves, she can see her two guests, huddled in a corner.

“I have adjusted your sight so you can see them in the darkness,” the elf says without prompting.

Alex mutters a “Thank you,” her eyes still taking in the two figures in the darkness.

Lena, in her human form and dressed in the same dark clothing that she wore earlier, although this one looks cleaner, is frowning at the book that Kara is reading to her. She is mimicking her mate, following along the words. They are sitting side by side on the pile of thick furs that serves as their bed. It’s the best Alex and Kelly can offer them and yet they don’t seem to mind.

“They need your guidance,” the elf says softly, almost as if she’s afraid they’re going to hear her.

“Guidance?” Alex turns to her, frowning. The elf nods in reply.

“You will teach the wolf how to fight in her human form.”

“And why should I do that? I’m sure you know what her wolf form is like, right?”

“Oh, no doubt, she is powerful in her wolf form. But she’s not always a wolf, is she? In fact, these days, she’s more often human than wolf. And while the wolf knows how to fight, the human does not.”

Alex sighs. “Aren’t they just as powerful in their human form? She’s going to flatten me.”

The elf nods. “Just as powerful and just as fast. But that’s never stopped you before, has it? Besides,” the elf pauses, as if in thought, “I’m pretty sure you’ll figure out how to train her.”

Alex does not miss the way the elf just says things as if Alex is just supposed to accept them as undeniable truths.

“It still doesn’t explain why I need to teach her how to fight.”

“Because the vampire promised she would.”

Alex frowns. “Okay, now you’re just making me angry.”

The elf sighs. “Look at her.” She gestures at the vampire. “That vampire is too meek and too gentle. She can never bring herself to hurt her mate. She can’t even hurt a human. The wolf will never learn from her.”

She turns to Alex, her eyes placid, almost bored. “But you do not have her inhibitions, and the wolf will appreciate you all the more for it.”

“You realize that if I hurt her, the vampire will tear my head off, right?” Alex asks, cocking her head to the side. “I looked at her wrong and the vampire nearly went feral… on the spot. Who does that?”

“As if you wouldn’t feel like tearing the world apart if anyone threatens your witch.”

A groan escapes Alex’s lips. “The difference is, she can actually do that. I can’t.”

“Do not worry about the vampire. The wolf will temper her.” The elf pauses. “Besides, have I ever led you astray?”

Alex shakes her head more in annoyance and disbelief than surrender.

“You said ‘they’.”

“The vampire will come to you for guidance, too, yes. But you shouldn’t concern yourself too much about that,” the elf waves her hand.

“What does that even mean?”

“She will come to you and you will find that you have more in common with her than you think.” The elf’s tone is dismissive, as if she expects Alex to understand everything. And perhaps she should.

“And what about the demon?”

Something happens then that Alex has never seen. The elf furrows its brows. She looks genuinely baffled. “Demon?”

“Yeah, the demon and her spawn. They came with the wolf and the vampire.”

The elf hesitates, her brows still furrowed. “I don’t see any demon.”

Alex feels a chill crawl down her spine. “What do you mean you don’t see a demon? They should be upstairs, in the guest room.”

The basement dissolves around her and now they’re both watching the demon playing with her spawn on the bed. She’s cooing and the spawn giggles.

“That’s…” The elf hesitates and the furrowed brows turn into an intense gaze. “Curious.” She turns to Alex. “I can normally see their kind for what they are despite the masks they wear, but this one… This one wears shadows upon shadows.”

“Kelly says she is powerful.”

The elf nods, her gaze returning to the demon. “Your witch is right. The fact that she can conceal her powers and presence this much is impressive.”

“So, do I need to worry about her?”

“I—I don’t know,” the elf admits. “I need to meditate upon this some more. But for now, she looks harmless. I suggest not provoking her.”

Alex huffs. “Easier said than done. She’s like you in a way. She tends to know a lot but doesn’t say anything, then expects everyone to know what she knows, for some reason.”

The elf nods. “I suspect she knows more than I do.”

“She’s that old?”

“Age does not denote wisdom, Alex. You know this,” the elf starts. “But in her case, it certainly does.”

Before Alex can argue further, the guestroom dissolves. She wakes up.

“I forgot to ask for her name again,” Alex mutters before turning to her still sleeping wife, wrapping her arm around her waist, and going back to sleep.

She doesn’t dream again for the rest of the night.

 

 

 

 

His name was Tom.

Now he goes by Flux. It’s what his sire named him when he turned.

The third best day of his life was when his sire, who works for the Palace, volunteered him to join a group of lower vampires for the honor of guarding two council members on their trip to Metropolis. It’s been a fun trip, so far.

He was excited of course. He’d always wanted to see the elves. He’s had glimpses of them when some of their delegation came to visit Krypton, but to actually see one in person… that would be something to tell the folks back home.

Except that’s no longer viable, as he is already a vampire. It was, frankly, the second best day of his life—waking up brimming with power he never knew a human could possess.

The best day of his life happened the day after that when he went and drained his entire family of their blood.

They had it coming, frankly.

But now, he grits his teeth and swears he will slaughter the next being that crosses him.

He was summoned earlier to relay a message to the rest of the council in Krypton on their findings in Arkham. He’s not exactly sure what the paper he’s carrying contains. It’s sealed and only a council member can open it.

More important, however, is his dream of meeting an elf has been crushed. For now.

But he’s too pissed to think long term. He’s too pissed to think.

He is almost at the border of Arkham and Thorul when he sees her sitting by the remains of a dilapidated house. She is staring at him and something about the way she is smirking rubs him the wrong way.

“What the fuck are you smiling at?” he asks. He bares his fangs and knits his brows together.

“You’re the poor soul they sent back to Krypton?” the stranger asks. She is tall, Flux observes, and if he wasn’t so angry, he would have noticed the way the stranger almost glides as she walks towards him.

“I am on official Krypton business. Do not delay me or you will suffer the wrath of Krypton,” Flux hisses at the stranger who continues to saunter over to him, ignoring his warning.

He’s about to tell the stranger off one last time but something about her cold, blue eyes stops him. He feels like he is being sucked in a bright light of.

It is at first cold, until he feels his bones breaking. The light becomes overwhelming and it penetrates every facet of his being until he turns into nothing. Not even ash.

If he weren’t so angry, he would have noticed that the blue and black flames that danced on his skin before he disappeared completely spared the piece of paper in his pocket.

He would have seen the way the stranger takes the paper, opens it, and reads its contents before it, too, finally burns into nothingness.

But he doesn’t.

As he is already dead, he doesn’t see the stranger calmly walk back to the chaotic fray of Arkham, disappearing into the crowd almost instantly.

As he is already dead, he doesn’t notice that nobody even looks like they saw anything happen. And if they did see anything, they’ve already forgotten about it once the stranger leaves.

 

 

 

The vampire is scowling and it’s hilarious.

Or it should be, if it weren’t nighttime and Alex is sure her head is about to get ripped off. And the demon, Sam, thinks it’s hilarious too, by the way she can barely restrain the curve of her lips, trying to hide her face in her spawn’s hair when she can’t stop herself anymore.

But the elf made a very convincing argument in her dream. She really hasn’t ever led her astray. So, much to everyone’s confusion, Alex approached Lena after dinner, keeping an appropriate distance.

“Hey, Lena? Do you want me to teach you how to fight with a sword or a bow?” Alex offered and the vampire hasn’t stopped scowling since then.

“That’s actually a great idea, babe!” Kelly says, putting an arm around Alex’s waist and kissing her temple before turning to Kara and Lena, seemingly oblivious to the murderous scowl on the vampire. “Alex is proficient in all kinds of weapons and hand to hand combat.”

Alex can see Sam staring at Kara, barely holding herself together, her shoulders trembling as she struggles not to laugh.

“Kara promised Lena…” Lena starts, hesitant. She gently touches Kara’s face, forcing Kara to turn to her. “Lena will be okay. Alex is good.”

“But I already told you I’ll train you.” The scowl immediately turns into a pout and Alex, despite herself, actually finds the entire thing adorable…again if it weren’t for the fact that she knows this vampire who seems to reduce to puddle in the presence of her mate can also rip her head clean off before Alex can even defend herself.

“Ah, I have an idea,” the demon pipes up with a smile. She clears her throat. “Why don’t we have a bet? Kara will train Lena if Kara can give Lena a good, solid punch…” She pauses. “…While Lena is in her human form.”

Alex narrows her eyes for a second, suspicious of the sudden help but can’t deny its brilliance. “That’s actually a good idea.”

And the murderous scowl is back.

“I will never hurt Lena!” Kara growls now turning to Sam, baring her fangs.

“Yeah, well then, Lena’s never going to learn,” Alex says with a shrug. She’s never hoped more that the elf is right.

“Kara?” Lena’s voice is soft and Alex barely hears it, but Kara does, loud and clear. She curls long fingers around Kara’s wrist, pulls her out the living room door, through the hallway and past the front the door into the dark night.

Everyone follows Sam who mutters, “This should be good.”

They find Kara and Lena facing each other, Kara with an almost desperate look on her face.

“Punch.” Lena insists, her voice calm. Alex almost admires Lena then, the way her face hardens, determined, expectant.

Kara’s scowl deepens but she doesn’t move.

Lena, however, does.

In a move no one ever expected, Lena pulls her hand back and, quicker than Alex can see, she throws a punch at Kara. Perhaps only by muscle memory, Kara avoids it, her scowl now replaced by the look of utter surprise.

But Lena is a determined pup and does not stop trying to hit Kara. It concerns Alex then that she can barely see the pair’s movements as they circle each other, Lena trying to hit Kara and Kara desperately trying to avoid her mate.

“Yeah, that elf kind of left you to dry with this request. You can’t train Lena in your state,” Alex hears a whisper beside her, low but serene. She turns to find Sam, cradling Ruby but looking at her.

“Y—you know?”

“I don’t appreciate invisible beings teleporting around where I put my child to sleep,” Sam says. “But I happen to think she’s also right. Kara won’t be able to train Lena if all she’ll do is avoid Lena’s punches.”

Alex looks at Kara and Lena, but she can barely keep up, and she’s just watching.

“Lucky for you, I can help.”

Alex turns to Sam but Sam is already looking at Kelly. “Kelly, do you mind if I touch your wife? Possibly also mess with her body, but nothing so… permanent. Or at least I hope so. Oh and uhmm… you might want to close your eyes when the world gets dark.”

Kelly frowns and somehow Sam takes this as consent, never mind that Alex hasn’t given hers in the first place, and she is now in front of Alex. “You will look me in the eye, and I will give you two things. First, the physical strength you need to accomplish your task. Second, the speed you need to accomplish your task.”

Unable to avoid Sam’s eyes, she can somewhat distantly hear Kara screaming for Kelly to close her eyes. She thinks she might have seen Lena run in front of Kelly and place a hand over her eyes.

But Alex’s eyes are glued onto Sam’s whose eyes have now become twin voids... and then she hears something… a rush of something heavy, rumbling and heading towards Alex. 

The world flickers and for a second, it’s almost like all the lights turn off, even the moon. Alex blinks. She is in now in a world of pain. She tries to scream but nothing’s coming out. She feels like she’s still trapped in the void of Sam’s eyes and whatever it is that’s heavy and coming towards her has hit her right in the chest, dragging her entire body with it. She thinks she won’t be surprised if she finds herself as a mangled corpse.

She blinks one more time and sees Kelly’s concerned eyes, roving all over her face, calling to her. She looks around and finds that she and Kelly are kneeling. Kara is screaming at Sam but she can’t quite make out what they’re saying.

It is Lena, however, who kneels beside her and takes her hand… gentle and soft. “Alex is in pain. But it will pass. Breathe.”

“What did Sam do, Lena? Is Alex going to be okay?” Kelly asks, worry creasing her brows.

“A gift. Alex is okay,” Lena answers, and there’s something calming about her, something that tells Alex Lena knows what she’s talking about. Lena turns to Alex, a hand on her shoulder “Breathe, Alex. Let pain pass. It will pass. Breathe.”

Alex breathes. And soon enough, the vice grip on her head, the screaming of her entire body is silenced, and she feels… fine.

No. More than fine. She feels power, overwhelming, thrumming all over her.

“I’m fine, babe…” Alex whispers and gently, she kisses Kelly before gingerly standing up. She dusts herself off and walks towards Sam and Kara who are still arguing. She clenches her fist and her muscles tense.

“…I don’t care! She’s human! You could have—”

“—I know what I’m doing—”

“Hey, Sam?”

Before Sam can turn around, Alex lets loose a punch that sends Sam flying a few feet, narrowly avoiding the barn.

“Oh. That felt good,” Alex says, cracking her knuckles.

Sam, however, launches herself off the mini crater her fall has created and is beside Alex in an instant, holding her jaw. Her dark eyes glitter with mirth.

“Not bad. But don’t overexert yourself. What I gave you will soon settle, and you will only be able to use it when training with Lena… If you try to use it outside its purpose… well, let’s just say you don’t really want to do that.”

“Hold on,” Kara says, her scowl back and now directed at Sam. Somehow, Alex knows exactly what Kara is going to say. “Are you telling me, you gave Alex strength to beat Lena up? Just Lena and no one else?”

Sam rolls her eyes at Kara. “Train Lena,” she huffs. “Not beat her up. And if I recall, you haven’t even punched Lena… so that rules you out for training her. I could do it but you’ve made clear your disdain for my training methods.”

Alex sees Lena shudder and Kara, who might have seen Lena at the same time, grits her teeth but says nothing. Instead, she stomps back to stand beside Lena and Kelly, casting sidelong glares at Sam along the way.

When she reaches Lena, however, she’s predictably calmer, practically melting at her mate’s touch.

“Babe?” Alex turns and finds Kelly standing behind her, eyes wide and searching. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Alex rubs at the back of her neck. “Yeah, I think so.” She flexes her arms and it feels like everything is back to normal. She play punches Kelly on her arm. “See?”

“When you told me this morning about the elf’s request, I didn’t think it would include being given powers by a demon… I’m actually not sure if she’s even a demon, actually,” Kelly mutters.

“I think the elf is blind to her. But the result is just the same. I’d be able to train Lena this way, without risking my life. So, as much as she was an asshole on how she went about it, she actually had the right idea.”

“Yeah… Sam always has good intentions,” Alex and Kelly nearly jump at Kara’s voice, suddenly beside them. Lena is standing beside her. “She’s just not good at not being an asshole about it.” She hesitates, then furrows her brows. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but you mentioned something about an elf?”

“Oh. Uhmm. It’s someone who comes to me in my dreams, sometimes. Basically, treating me like an errand girl, to be honest,” Alex shrugs. “She’s looked out for me for a very long time and if it wasn’t for her, I never would have met my wife.” Alex smiles at Kelly and Kelly kisses her gently, her stomach doing a tiny somersault in response.

Kara nods and smiles at them, her small fangs glittering in the moonlight. “Dreams, huh... So, this elf… is she bossy, demanding, and sometimes makes you feel like an idiot?”

“Y—yes. That actually is her. Don’t tell me you know her. I’ve been trying to ask for her name but I always manage to forget to ask until I wake up.”

Kara laughs. “Oh, yeah that sounds like her. And she asked you to train Lena?”

Alex nods. “She basically said you’re too gentle and meek. She said you’d never be able to train Lena properly. She just neglected to tell me that I needed to be touched by a demon to do it.”

“Okay, well… If I had known I wouldn’t have protested so much,” Kara says. She looks at Lena, hopelessly tender and Alex wonders then if there’s something more to them just simply being mates. “I’m hoping I’ll be able to introduce you to her one day, you know? She already loves you if she’s already asking someone else to take care of you in ways I can’t.”

 Lena says nothing but nods. She sees Kara take Lena’s hand and they start walking towards the house.

“Oh and Alex?” Kara calls, pausing to look back. “Her name is Nia Nal. Call her that and watch her pout and throw a tantrum. It should at least be amusing.” She turns around for a second, before adding with a smirk, “And Sam is not a demon. Well—she is. But not exactly. She’s a Fallen. Explains all the weird powers. Doesn’t explain her overprotectiveness with Lena though, so watch out for that.”

Something cold runs down Alex’s spine and she just knows, by the way Kelly tightens her grip on Alex’s hand, that Kelly felt the same.

“Scared yet?” Sam is now behind them, her countenance dark, and something murderous flashing in her eyes. She blinks and it’s all gone. “I’m just kidding. I’m not going to hurt you… unless…” Her face hardens and her eyes are two fiery pits. “…you know…

With an almost homicidal smirk, Sam walks away, carrying Ruby who is desperately fighting not to fall asleep, her liquid eyes blinking.

Alex and Kelly stand outside as a cool night breeze washes over them, watching as their guests slowly enter their house.

“Hey, babe?” Alex asks, eyes still watching their strange guests. “Are you also somehow getting the feeling that we’re in over our heads right now? We’re practically housing gods.”

Kelly nods sagely, before resting her head on Alex’s shoulders, wrapping an arm around her wife’s waist and sighing. “But you have to admit, it does make everything interesting.”

Alex hums and a thought enters her mind.

“So, now that I have conditional super strength and speed, do I still have to eat kale?”

 

 

 

Kara and Lena have been running around the forest for a few hours but now they’re on top of a small hill, chests heaving, laughing, limbs tired and splayed across the grass.

Sunrise won’t be for a few more hours and Lena relishes these moments with Kara.

“I’ll bet you will be able to kick my ass in a few months,” Kara says, remembering that Lena begins her training the next day.

“Lena will never,” is the honest answer. She had tried her best earlier, but Kara was simply faster, her reaction time excellent so that even if Lena was sure she was about to hit Kara, her mate would step just out of the way at the last instant.

Lena knows she’s fast and strong, but none of that matters against Kara, who knows how to use her strength and speed properly.

But that’s really not what Lena’s been interested in.

She’s seen Kelly and Alex do it several times and every time, the other would have this look… like a pup that’s been granted a nice bone to chew on. Or like the time one of the pups was complimented by the alpha. Her chest puffed up and with a glint of joy in her eyes.

She props herself up on her elbow and decides she should try it for herself.

She leans down on Kara and places her lips gently on Kara’s, just like she’s seen Alex do with Kelly, but maybe shorter because she’s still not quite sure what she’s doing…or if Kara will even like it.

“Lena?”

Lena searches Kara’s face and it doesn’t look like that pup… No, her face looks like it’s still deliberating on something.

Something breaks inside Lena. She should have known that Kara wouldn’t like it. Kara is different. Set apart. She’s not like everyone else and so what should please everyone else does not necessarily make Kara happy.

She slumps back down on the grassy floor, defeated.

“What’s wrong?”

And of course, how is Lena supposed to lie to her mate?

“Lena thought… Lena saw Alex do this with Kelly and it makes Kelly smile and happy.”

Something changes and Lena can see that expression on Kara’s face now.

“I can teach you, if you like?”

Lena nods, a smile breaking across her face.

She watches as Kara sits up, cross legged, and gestures for Lena to sit in the space between her legs. Kara gently traces Lena’s jaw with her knuckles and Lena luxuriates in the feel of it. She cups Lena’s chin and murmurs, “Close your eyes and try to match what I’m doing.”

Lena obeys and as soon as she does, she feels Kara’s lips on hers, soft and moving. And Lena soon figures out that it’s a dance. Or a cause and effect. Kara lightly bites down on Lena’s lower lip and she feels the tiny fangs, not enough pressure to break the skin, but enough for her to hiss and it feels so good, she gasps.

Oh and there’s tongue…and suddenly it’s no longer just a dance but also an exploration. She feels Kara’s tongue in her mouth, mapping out every corner, tasting Lena and why have they gone all this time without doing this? And oh, Kara’s doing that sound and it echoes in Lena’s entire being and she just wants to find other ways to make Kara do that hungry moaning sound.

Do the other wolves shift just for this? Because it’s so good and she’ll never get tired of it. She’ll never get tired of tasting Kara, never get tired of feeling Kara’s lips, running her tongue on her lips and teeth and feeling those two little fangs grow just slightly longer.

Lena, without breaking their kiss, adjusts her position on Kara’s lap so that she’s now straddling her mate and yes, this is perfect, as she bears down on Kara. It’s perfect and it’s not enough.

She suspects it will never be enough.

Maybe it’s why Alex and Kelly do it so often.

They break apart for one second and Lena relishes at the fact that Kara’s eyes are red now, so very hungry but without the menacing veins, focused entirely on Lena.

“Gods, you’re perfect,” Kara mutters and Lena is suddenly that pup with the fresh bone to chew on. The pup whose alpha just gave her the highest compliment. Her chest feels like it’s going to explode in the most pleasant way but that only fuels her to dive back down and claim Kara’s lips once more.

 

 

 

 

The room is sparsely furnished. There’s a bed, a writing desk, a chair and not much else.

There are also the drained bodies, but those will be gone in a few minutes.

“Have you found her yet?” The voice is imperious and holds no room for questions or doubts.

“Not yet.”

“There is very little time left. She needs to return to me.”

“We are doing the best we can.”

“Apparently not. She’s not here.”

“Apologies.”

“I have no use for apologies. It is imperative that she returns to Krypton.”

“I understand. I will increase and widen the search.”

“See to it that you do not fail me.”

“Of course, your majesty.”

 

 

He exits the room and clenches his fists, drawing blood.

Oh, he’s going to murder Kara simply for this. And he’s going to enjoy doing it.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Kal won’t dare cross the border, but he will toe the line as close as he can.

“You know my wolves won’t actually kill you if you cross the border,” the alpha says, shrugging on his coat as he emerges from the shadows, walking to his side of the border.

The moon is high and Kal can sense the other wolves some distance away. He tracks their movement, his muscles tensing.

“I can’t send them away,” the alpha shrugs. “Well, I can, but their loyalty to me forces them to keep a wary eye on you,” he adds, seeing Kal eyeing the flitting shadows. “This is the second time you’re coming to the border personally in a month. Is there someone else that we’re supposed to look out for?”

The alpha is sneering and as much as Kal wants to wipe that smug expression off his face, he has a job to do.

“I came here to collect on a favor you owe me,” he says, and it gives him a measure of delight when the alpha’s countenance grows dim.

“I suppose this is related to the runaway princess?” the alpha’s voice dips to a low whisper.

He nods. “I need you to assign some of your best, track her, and bring her back. I much prefer her alive, but if it can’t be helped, you can kill her. What’s important is she comes back to us,” he says, his voice devoid of any affection.

The alpha shakes his head, laughing softly. Kal can almost sense the adoration in the alpha’s voice. “I can’t believe she actually thought this far ahead. Damn that bastard.”

“What are you talking about?”

The alpha looks at him, his sneer back. “By now, I’m sure you know that my sister is running with your princess.”

He nods, his brows knitting together.

“Well, since you’re asking me to do this, then I suppose you’re not aware that my sister and your princess have exchanged mating bites,” the alpha continues. “And as such, she is considered a member of the pack—banished, yes. But they still hold a certain level of protection from us.”

He shakes his head. He doesn’t smile. He makes a mental note to question Imra about this later, but he suspects they didn’t know either.

“I don’t think you understand. You don’t have a choice here. I don’t care how you’ll frame this to your pack. The point is, you owe me and I’ve come to collect.” He scans his eyes, sees the watchful shadows in the distance, not quite close enough to hear their conversation, but enough to be all over him the instant the alpha raises the alarm. “Or would you like your pack to find out what really happened to your sire and his mistress? At the very least, your mother deserves to know, don’t you think?”

The alpha closes his eyes for a second. Kal can almost taste the change of countenance in the air. He can sense the ever-increasing tension from the pack hiding in the shadows. He’s toeing a line again and he knows that if he’s not careful, he could either start a war with the wolves or get torn to pieces where he stands.

But Kal has a job.

“If I do this, then I will have your word that we will never speak of this or what happened to my sire and the other banished wolf?” The alpha is wary now, too. He’s proud and stubborn as all alphas are. But Kal has known Lex since he was a pup. And Lex knows Kal just as well. Once, they may have been the best of friends, but they both had jobs to do and that superseded whatever affections they had for each other.

“It will be as if nothing happened. These secrets will die with me,” Kal says with a solemn nod. It is as good a bond as anything. A vampire, after all, is bound to his promises.

“You realize I will definitely have to kill my sister to do this, right?” the alpha asks, but there’s something in his eyes, something that looks like anticipation.

“You kept your sister in the dark all her life. You never taught her the skills every self-respecting wolf needs. I’ve seen her and she’s a runt. You made her guard the border just to keep her away from the pack. I don’t see why she would suddenly be any threat.” In truth, he is more curious than he’s letting on.

The alpha eyes him for a moment, weighing his words. “And yet… And yet, she has the foresight to side with your princess.”

“Then she’s a fool,” Kal says calmly. He eyes the alpha and there’s a dawning realization that hits him. “You really are threatened by her.”

The alpha is pensive now, almost regretful even. “Before my sire passed, he made me promise to take care of her. He called her the best of us. And that tiny woman in your council, she was there. My sire told her something and just as I made you promise, he bound her to his secrets.”

“Secrets,” Kal mutters with muted disdain. “You are afraid of secrets.”

“No. I am afraid of not knowing.” The alpha gestures to the shadows behind him. “I run my pack as well as I do because I know everything. One instance that I missed knowing something, a vampire princess crosses my border and takes for herself my sister as her mate.”

“I’m sure you know what to do. You have about three more moon cycles to bring her here.”

“And if I fail?”

Kal’s eyes harden. “Thorul will collapse with the weight of your secrets.”

 

 

 

Cat has always marveled at the tall, gray, spiraling structures of Metropolis. The elves, while touting their ability to commune with nature, never did enjoy living close to the ground once they realized they could live above it.

Everything is in shades of green, brown, white, and gray and built around trees that only the craft of elves can grow… some taller than the tallest structures humans have ever made.

At the very middle of this sprawling city, however, is the famous Ivory Tower, home to the Dreamer.

Named for its color, the Ivory Tower is the tallest structure in Metropolis, dwarfing every other edifice in this elven city. As far as Cat knows, it has only two functions: First is to house the current Dreamer; Second, to store, preserve, and update the knowledge of the elves.

They arrive at the border of Metropolis sometime after sunset and, despite their speed, it still took them nearly six hours to arrive at the foot of the Tower. She can sense the disappointment from the lower vampires as there are no elves to see at ground level. If one isn’t aware that the elves live higher up, one would think that Metropolis is deserted.

But at the foot of the Tower, they find six figures in hooded ivory robes waiting for them, their faces hidden.

“Vampires of Krypton, welcome! The Dreamer asks that you leave your entourage here. We will house them in the meantime,” one of them says, and Cat, despite her exceptional hearing, isn’t sure which one says it.

She sees Veronica gesture at the lower vampires and with some slight grumbling, they follow the waiting hooded figures.

Once all the lower vampires have left, the three remaining hooded figures turn to Andrea.

“Burning One, the Dreamer wishes to welcome you to Metropolis. Will you be joining the vampires in their audience with the Dreamer?”

Cat narrows her eyes at Andrea who smiles indulgently. “The vampires are here on their own business. I am merely here as an observer. If the Dreamer doesn’t mind, I’d like to walk around and wait for them to finish before I pay her a visit.”

Cat notes that Andrea’s tone isn’t so much suggesting but commanding and the guards bow in response.

“The Dreamer would also like to inform you that the one you seek is not here.”

Andrea nods once. “I figured as much. Still, I’d like to look around and wait until the Dreamer is done with her audience with the vampires.”

The guards once more bow and turn as one to Cat and Veronica.

“If you’ll follow us, please.”

When Cat looks back to Andrea she’s already gone.

They’re led to a grassy path lined on either side by snaking, twisting roots, thicker than Cat’s thighs, maybe even thicker than Kal’s. The trees are mossy and so dark, they almost look black. The path is lit by thousands of fireflies flitting about and glowing mushrooms growing along the sides of the trees. At the end of the path, Cat can already see the door to the Ivory Tower. She dares to look up and finds that the upper third of the tower is obscured by the thick canopy of trees.

She turns to Veronica, who wears an awed expression.

“Have you been here before?” Cat asks.

Veronica shakes her head. “I’ve been to Metropolis several times, but never anywhere near the Tower.

“Okay, well… those guards won’t tell you,” Cat starts as they follow the hooded guards past double doors made of writhing vines. Cat feels the sudden change of atmosphere as they enter a wide, circular room with a single spiral staircase in the middle, “But it is imperative that you understand that when they tell you to follow them, they mean it.”

Veronica cocks an eyebrow, curious and intrigued.

“The way to the Dreamer’s place is just stairs and mirrors upon mirrors. But the hooded guards never have a reflection. You will see hundreds of iterations of you reflected in mirrors, but there will only ever be three guards. You will follow them. Otherwise, you’ll get lost.”

“What happens if you get lost?”

“You will be sent all the way back to the border of Metropolis, never to be allowed back in the Tower so long as the current Dreamer lives,” one or all three of the guards say.

Veronica glances at Cat who nods grimly.

“It’s partly why Mon-El and his mother will not see the Dreamer. Mon-El got lost once when he insisted on visiting with Kara. It was rather humiliating.”

Veronica laughs but keeps her eyes trained on the steady gait of the hooded figures in front of them. “I thought the Dreamer simply didn’t like that simpering fool.”

“Oh, well, that’s what Rhea tells people, that the Dreamer is prejudiced against her son. It’s much less humiliating than to admit that her son is too haughty to follow simple instructions and it cost him the ability to commune with the Dreamer,” Cat murmurs with a small smile of her own.

 

 

The way to the Dreamer is confusing to say the least.

Veronica’s voice is breathy, not because she’s winded, Cat presumes, but because she hasn’t stopped gaping at every mirror that fades in and out in front of them. “It feels like walking in your dreams, like going nowhere and everywhere but you never really end up leaving and when you wake up—”

“You’re right back where you started,” Cat finishes with a small nod.

They keep their eyes on the hooded figures whose measured gait never falters as they step into one mirror after another, up another flight of staircases.

“Can we talk to the guards?” Veronica asks.

“I haven’t tried. I’ve only been here one other time,” Cat says. “When the previous Dreamer passed on his legacy to the current Dreamer.”

Veronica hums, hesitates, her eyes still fixed on the guards. “You’ve seen quite a lot, haven’t you?”

“That’s a subtle way of calling me old.”

“Aren’t you though?”

Cat considers her answer for a second. “Not by the standards of the elves. Compared to the current Dreamer, I’m a child.”

“Compared to vampires?” And Cat hears an almost teasing tone on Veronica.

She purses her lips. Compared to vampires, she’s positively ancient. One of the very few left who was there when Zor-El gathered all the vampire clans, except one, and forced them to bend a knee to him, thus creating Krypton.

It was not a particularly good time for humans as they were used by the higher vampires, turned to lower vampires to fight their battles. If they weren’t being made into vampires, they were used as cattle. In less than a year, the human population was very nearly destroyed.

“I am older than you, yes,” Cat concedes, and rolls her eyes at Veronica who sees it and just shrugs.

They follow the guards in silence after that.

 

 

The room they end up in is impossible and not something that Cat has ever seen, a rare occurrence for sure, and she allows herself to delight in the thought briefly… not that there’s much to see.

It is endless and empty. With no ceiling or floor or any source of light but is filled with it, the room only contains one figure, wearing a loose, sleeveless ivory dress lined with brown and gray accents, sitting on a comfortable chair, smiling serenely at them.

She looks so young that Cat almost can’t believe she’s the Dreamer, can’t believe that she’s still the same Nia Nal she saw all those years ago, playing and chatting with Kara before she ascended to be the Dreamer, untouched by time and yet certainly changed by it somehow.

“Cat Grant and Veronica Sinclair.” Her voice is light, youthful, and alive. “You are in a world that exists only in your dreams and is only limited by your imagination. You’ve been asleep since you entered the doors of the Ivory Tower. Your bodies are in the care of my guards.” She holds out a hand. “You may summon chairs and a meal, if you like.”

With a small gesture, a table appears in front of her, laden with fruits and bread.

Though Veronica narrows her eyes she performs the same gesture, and the throne of Krypton, wide, wooden, ancient, and high-backed, appears in front of her. With another wave of her hand, the throne disappears and is replaced by a wide, leather, claw-footed chair, draped with fur and her favorite thrall sitting by its feet.

“Interesting,” Veronica murmurs then offers a small bow before sitting down.

“Indeed,” the Dreamer says, eyeing the thrall by Veronica’s feet. If she has any reservations, she doesn’t voice them. “It’s one of my more creative inventions, if I do say so myself.”

Cat decides to follow suit and imagines her lounge chair back home. As soon as she’s seated, the Dreamer, with an amused smile, says, “You are here looking for Kara, something you honestly should have done immediately after she left. Instead, you dawdled and played investigator in Arkham. Now, you bring with you a Burning One. You have gotten yourself tangled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse of celestial proportions.” She pauses and waves lazily. “Heavenly beings are beyond the purview of elves, as you might imagine. But, what their presence here means remains to be seen. For now, I can tell you where Kara is.”

Cat glances at Veronica and the other vampire has an equal look of disbelief on her face. It can’t possibly be this easy.

It isn’t, of course.

“But I would much rather discuss something else entirely, if you’ll permit me.”

Cat frowns. “With all due respect, Kara must return. She’s the heir to the throne.”

“Must? You make it sound as if the world is ending if she doesn’t sit on the throne,” the Dreamer says, her tone light but challenging. “You’ve been trying to find where she is instead of asking why she left in the first place.”

“Kara has always been a free spirit,” Veronica answers, almost bored. She runs her long fingers through the golden curly locks of her thrall, whose head now rests in her lap. “The walls of Krypton will always suffocate her, one way or another. But that doesn’t mean she can just leave any time she wants.”

“And yet, she did.”

“You’re not going to tell us where she is, are you?” Cat asks, her eyes on the Dreamer’s, watching for every minute expression, but the Dreamer merely smiles.

“As I said, I’d rather discuss something more urgent. Allow me this and if, in the end, you think looking for someone who refuses to be found is still worth your time, then I’d be more than happy to tell you where she is.”

Cat and Veronica exchange looks and, without a word, they both turn to the Dreamer at the same time and nod.

The Dreamer’s smile disappears.

 

 

 

Kara has a rather unusual dilemma.

It’s high noon, and she watches from inside the safety of Kelly’s house as, for what seems like the hundredth time today, Lena falls on her back with an audible thud, Alex’s sword at her throat. It has been a week since they started training, and while Lena is still much faster and stronger than Alex, the human knows how to use those advantages against Lena.

Since Alex can’t use her Sam-given strength against Kara, Lena and Alex have agreed to train in the morning to keep Kara away… or at least helplessly locked inside the house, looking equal parts dejected and raging.

For the most part, even Sam, who would normally not hesitate to use such a situation to torment her, has stayed out of her way, letting her stew in her… well she’s not even sure. She tries to hone in on what she really feels.

She’s rather pleased with herself for the restraint she’s shown in not snapping Alex’s neck every time she touches Lena, but therein lies her problem.

Kara has always been proud of her restraint and discipline. It’s how she’s able to deny herself human blood. It has never been easy, but she’s done well enough since she promised never to drink it.

But around Lena…

She’s prone to losing her mind through sheer instinct. Her logic says that she shouldn’t even be feeling this way. She knows Lena can take care of herself. She knows that Alex is categorically in love with her wife and has eyes for no one else. But she can’t help it. And even when she knows that Alex is happily married, she can’t help but be possessive, her mind screaming Mine! Mine! Mine! whenever anyone comes close to Lena.

“Kara?” a small voice breaks her from her thoughts, and she finds Kelly standing at the entrance of the living room, a wary but kind expression on her face.

“You’re going to wear out your fangs—not to mention the furniture—if you stand there all morning watching Lena and Alex,” Kelly says with a smile, pointedly staring at the back of the chair that Kara has already ground to fine powder.

“I—I’m sorry,” Kara says, shaking her head. “It just… I don’t know if this is the effect of being mated to a wolf, but everything is just so—”

“—intense?” Kelly finishes, stepping inside and standing beside Kara, her eyes now watching her wife and Lena outside. Briefly, Kara sees Alex and Lena wave at them. Kelly smiles and does a small wave of her own while Kara melts at Lena’s smile. “You feel like Lena is proprietary to you even though your mind tells you this is all so wrong, that Lena belongs to no one but herself. And you will destroy the world before a single hair on her head is harmed.”

“You feel that way about Alex?” Kara asks.

“Every single second since the day I met her,” Kelly nods with a smile. “And if you think that it has mellowed out, I can tell you it has not, nor do I want it to. I always want to be this irrationally in love with her.”

“Love…” Kara mutters.

“You doubt your feelings for her?” Kelly’s tone is gentle and without judgment.

“Yes and no,” Kara admits, her eyes tracking Lena as she and Alex move together in a dangerous dance of strength and swords. “I don’t doubt that I feel strongly for her. But it terrifies me that I can lose control so easily when I’m with her. I have never felt like this, never known any emotion that feels this overwhelming. And my mind is telling me that this isn’t right. But, my heart…”

“What’s stopping you from listening to your heart?”

Kara doesn’t answer. Mostly because she doesn’t know the answer. She’s not sure what’s holding her back from leaning into this fully.

“Listen, it’s unhealthy to be hanging out here and just wallowing in your feelings. Sometimes, it’s better to just let it be and not dwell too much on it.” There is a certain kind of kindness and neutrality in Kelly’s voice. “So, if you’re not going to go to sleep, I have something that I need your help with.”

Kara takes one long look at Lena before tearing her eyes away and nodding at Kelly.

 

 

 

Just before sunset, Alex told Lena they were done for the day. She’d barely finished speaking when Lena cut her off with a curt “Thank you, Alex,” and sped off into the house. She shook her head, knowing exactly where Lena was heading and why she was in a hurry.

For the past week, they have been mostly working on Lena’s defense and already, Alex is finding it harder and harder to hit Lena. She’s certainly getting better at dodging and anticipating Alex’s movements. Her eyes are always wary and alert as she takes in everything. She uses her natural speed and ability to complement her alertness.

Alex also discovers that Sam really has given her enough power and speed to make sure that she can teach Lena what she can. As Lena is getting faster, so is Alex. It seems like her power and speed scales up in proportion with Lena’s. It’s an incredibly useful gift… except it only serves to teach Lena. Outside of their training, Alex returns to normal.

When she walked in the house, a few seconds after Lena, she found Lena and Kara in the living room, Lena straddling Kara and the two of them off in their own world, lost in kisses. She shook her head, smirking, and decided to take a bath before helping Kelly with dinner.

So she really shouldn’t be surprised when she finds her wife standing by the entrance of the living room, staring.

“What—” But Alex isn’t able to finish her question when Kelly places her hand on top of Alex’s mouth with a soft “shhh…”

Kelly gestures, her head tilting to point Alex’s focus further inside the living room. Alex’s heart clenches.

Kara and Lena, in wolf form, are sprawled out on the floor, both a picture of contentment that can only come from tiring themselves out completely. They look so exhausted, they never made it to the basement and are both gently snoring away on top of the rug, with Kara completely cocooned by Lena’s massive, furry body, and Lena’s nose stuck in Kara’s hair.

“I get why Lena’s passed out like that. But what did you do that Kara is just as exhausted as Lena is?” Sam, suddenly appearing out of nowhere, asks softly, making Alex and Kelly grin.

“Well, she’s been a ball of wound-up emotions and I was afraid the furniture wouldn’t survive it. Luckily, I had cauldrons that needed cleaning,” Kelly answers with a small smile.

“Cauldron cleaning isn’t supposed to be that exhausting,” Sam says, her eyes narrowing at Kelly.

“I may or may not have multiplied the number of dirty cauldrons and cast a spell on all of them so that they each weighed a hundred times heavier than a normal cauldron should weigh.”

Alex’s jaw drops with Sam sporting a similar expression. “Babe, you did not…”

“It worked, didn’t it? Look at them so at peace,” Kelly says and Alex cannot mistake the way Kelly is fawning at the two creatures. “If you didn’t know that both of them could just as easily murder us, you’d think it’s just a girl and her larger-than-life, fluffy wolf, exhausted because they played outside the whole day.”

Sam hums. “I suppose. Plus, this way, we don’t actually have to watch them make out for the next few hours.”

Alex scoffs in disgust. “Ever since they started doing that, they haven’t stopped. And I don’t think they know that we can hear them.”

“Or see them,” Kelly mutters.

“I have resigned myself to pretending that they’re just hormonal teenagers,” Sam mutters and then she says something that stutters all three of them into embarrassed silence or horror. “Imagine how terrible it’d be if they actually start doing it.”

After a pause, Sam announces that she’s going out, and asks if Kelly and Alex can look after Ruby for a bit.

“Where are you going?” Kelly asks but she already has Ruby in her arms, cooing at the baby with liquid eyes.

“I need to hunt for these two,” Sam says, waving at the two snoring figures on the floor. “Lena will most likely be starving and so will Kara. But knowing Lena, she’ll let Kara feed on her first and won’t have enough energy to hunt for herself. Knowing Kara, she’ll beat herself up over it and by the time she comes back with a buck or two for Lena, the poor wolf will have already passed out again. It’d be better if Lena’s meal is ready immediately after Kara’s fed on her.”

Alex looks at Sam, smirking. “When did you realize you were picking up strays and adopting them?”

Sam, for her part, looks thoughtful for a moment before she smiles, the kind she reserves for Ruby only. “The moment they entered the diner I was working at. You should have seen them. They looked so lost and defeated, whispering amongst themselves… it was almost heart breaking.”

“I think mine was when the elf showed me the two of them huddled in the dark, Kara teaching Lena how to read and Lena absorbing everything Kara was saying. It was… yeah, you’re right. They do look lost,” Alex whispers, her arms wrapping around Kelly gently. Kelly kisses her temple and smiles at her.

“Kara’s dreaming of a home for us, you know… Not just for her and Lena,” Sam says, wistful and staring at Kara and Lena now. Alex realizes that she’s never seen this side of Sam apart from her relationship with Ruby. She looks like she’s seeing her children, willing in her mind for their wishes to come true.

When Sam leaves, Kelly, with Ruby tugging gleefully at her dark hair, turns to Alex who is still watching the two on the floor, and then glancing at Ruby.

“Well, we have been talking about adopting,” Kelly says with a smirk.

Alex chuckles. “Will you be okay co-parenting with a powerful celestial?”

“She can intimidate all the other parents at school.”

“While the kids bully the other kids in the playground?” Alex teases.

“Well, Lena’s going to dominate and Kara’s going to murder anyone who so much as looks at Lena wrong,” Kelly says, nodding in agreement. “Meanwhile, sweet little Ruby here is going to have everyone wrapped around her finger,” Kelly adds, cooing at Ruby, kissing her on the cheek. Ruby giggles.

Kara snorts, and for a moment, Alex and Kelly stiffen. They watch as Kara, still deep in her sleep, burrows deeper into her mate, resting an arm on Lena, and going back to her soft snores. Lena’s tail swishes once and they’re both, once again, sleeping deeply.

 

 

 

When the lady—Nia Nal—sent word that he was going to meet with two vampires, he really thought she was kidding.

But here they are: two reluctant-looking, untrusting vampires, sitting across him with intensely focused stares. Nia, meanwhile, sits between the two vampires, her smile full and bright.

“So, what do you have for us, Mr. Dox? How are you going to smuggle us out of Metropolis without the rest of the elves knowing?” she asks.

Brainy clears his throat. “It’s not going to be easy. I will need about a week to prepare for everything. But you have to be certain that this is the final head count. Once I’ve begun preparations, we cannot add more people.”

Nia nods her head gently. “Add yourself to the list. The four of us will be leaving Metropolis.”

Brainy is about to voice his concern when the taller, just slightly less intimidating vampire speaks.

“Why do we have to be smuggled out of Metropolis, too? Unlike you, we can actually leave,” Veronica says, her eyes narrow.

“If you go out, the elves and your kind will expect you to be back in Krypton in less than a fortnight. But, as we discussed earlier, we need more time than that. We will try and buy that time by keeping you here,” Nia answers but Brainy suspects that it is mostly for his benefit that Nia answered the question.

“We will have to send out a messenger, explaining the delay,” the smaller, much more intimidating vampire says. She turns to Nia. “We will stay for a week here, plus the two-weeks of travel, which buys us three weeks at least. Will that be enough?”

Brainy, not quite understanding what it is exactly that he’s gotten himself into, looks at Nia, who seems to be calculating something in her head.

Nia then raises her head and looks at Brainy and she smiles at him.

“It will have to be,” he answers.

 

 

 

“Kal, where have you been?”

Kal sighs. He’s really not in the mood for any of this. Still, he has a job to do. He turns and finds Morgan Edge jogging towards him.

“Doing my job,” he answers curtly, not wishing to waste any more time with him.

“I see, well… I was just wondering… We haven’t heard from Cat and Veronica for quite some time. Their messenger should have been here about a week back,” Morgan says.

Kal stops.

That is a cause for concern.

“I’ll send Imra and her mate after them then,” Kal says and Morgan nods in agreement.

“Tell them to bring more people this time,” Morgan says with a smirk.

Kal does not acknowledge this request, instead, he proceeds to his office, telling one of the guards to summon Imra and her mate with haste, before entering.

He scribbles something on a parchment and is just finishing sealing it when Imra and Gayle enter his office. He hands them the letter which Imra pockets.

“You have an hour to pack and be ready,” Kal says, his tone quiet. “After which you will go to Thorul and hand that letter to their alpha. He will tell you what to do next.”

If Imra or Gayle have reservations about being commanded by a wolf, they do not show it.

“And Imra, Gayle?” Kal calls them as they turn to leave. “Make sure you tell no one of your mission. When asked, tell them you have a tracking exercise to fulfill.”

This garners a reaction from Imra but she quickly schools her expression and they bow one more time before finally leaving Kal alone in his office.

He exhales. A part of him hopes Kara survives this.

But the bigger part of him knows that death would be mercy now. If she somehow survives them, then Kal would be forced to fight.

And as much as he likes a good fight, he’d much rather not fight Kara.

“I barely survived the first time, after all,” Kal thinks, as he distractedly rubs at the barely healed wound on his chest.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

“Did you hear about the visiting royalty from Krypton?”

Nia turned to her neighbor, Aren, who was shelving stoneware in his small stall at the marketplace. Nia, situated in the equally cramped space beside his, was busy arranging and rearranging her fabrics, spun from the finest silks.

The marketplace was, like most elven buildings, a few stories above ground, and it opened only once a week. On a normal day it was a rather wide, open space where families gathered or where the little elves went to play. On the first day of each week, however, scores of stalls were set up, and the area came alive with movement and sounds and sights. It was where master artists and their apprentices came to show off their wares and where farmers came to sell their crops. It was easy to lose one’s way in the maze.

It opened at the break of dawn, and by sunset the space would be nearly empty.

But today was different in more ways than Nia Nal would have ever anticipated.

For one, her mother did not go with her. She had been complaining of a headache for the past week and none of their herbs nor the healers could make it go away. Nia had wanted to stay, but her mother insisted that she just needed rest and that Nia would be fine on her own. They have done this a million times, after all. Nia knew her way around the market.

Nia nodded, remembering her mother’s words before she left at dawn. “It’s why mother advised that I close late today. There might be a few of their delegation who would want to visit the marketplace, you know?”

Aren frowned, looking at his wares. “I doubt they’d need cooking pots. They only drink blood, after all.” After a short pause, he added, “I can’t imagine having just a single diet all my life.”

Nia thought about this for a second before turning to Aren. He was tall, stately with kind gray eyes, his blonde hair tied back elegantly, falling in gentle waves behind him. He looked around and noted that none of the other stalls were closing either.

“We aren’t built to eat just one kind of food. But they are. And I suppose they can vary the kind of blood they drink too. Maybe that’s where they get their variety from?” Nia pondered, uncertain. She hasn’t met too many other kinds of Fae. She wanted to, but there’s just never enough time. She had to help at home, and there was still so much more to weaving for her to learn.

Perhaps once she had gained the title of Master Weaver, which wouldn’t be for tens of thousands more years, perhaps then she could travel the world and discover other kinds of fabrics to weave and paint and create beautiful kinds of clothing with.

“Perhaps.” Aren shrugged, then leaned in conspiratorially. “By the way, have you been to the Dreamer recently? I haven’t been for a few decades, but my neighbor swears he is getting old. Word is that he’s already preparing for his passing on.”

Nia thought about when she last visited the Tower. “I think it’s been much longer since I’ve been. Perhaps not in the last thousand years.”

Aren’s jaw dropped. “Are you serious?”

“I don’t know. I just think there are far better things to do than listen to an old elf, far removed from reality, tell you what you should be doing with your life,” Nia answered, shrugging, but this only made her stall neighbor suspicious, his eyes narrowing. He seemed almost to forget that he was carrying a rather heavy earthen pot, beautifully decorated with carvings of leaves and branches and different kinds of fruits.

“Did you reject the role he said you are destined for?” he asked, then quickly added, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the Dreamer knows what we will eventually become. To reject it is just prolonging the inevitable. You could have been mastering that craft instead of doing something else.”

Nia shook her head. She couldn’t exactly tell him, after all. But yes, she did reject the role she was foretold to have…vehemently.

“Tell me this, then. If he really could see what we’re meant to become, the role we are meant to play for the rest of our lives, why do we even bother giving ourselves choices? You’re telling me, this choice I made to be a weaver is just an illusion?”

Aren thought for a second, replacing the pot in the space in front of him, displaying it prominently for the passing shoppers. He nodded to an elf or two who seemed interested but they went on their way without saying or buying anything. He turned to Nia when they’d gone.

“I’m sure I don’t have the right answer to that. I grew up only knowing stone and earth and how to shape it into pretty and useful things. It was what my father did and what his father did. I still asked the Dreamer, in case I should be doing something else, but to be honest, I would have rejected his vision if it hadn’t been what I already loved. But at the back of my head, I know I’d be asking what if I actually followed what he recommended…”

Nia thought about the way he looked at the pots and vases and bowls in his stall. She considered how his eyes lit up at any question or remark on the workmanship of his wares, freely admitting which one was his and that the better, more expensive among them were the ones his father made. Did she feel the same pride in her work? Surely, she did. She loved weaving. But if she was going to be completely honest, she mostly loved it because it was something she did with her mother. It was why even though her mother could afford to send her to some High Elf for better apprenticeship, Nia decided to stay home and learn from her mother instead.

In her eyes, no one else was better.

She never considered the alternative that was presented to her when she finally went to the Tower to ask the Dreamer what was in store for her. She didn’t even want to go. It wasn’t something that all elves did. Some elves lived their entire lengthy lives never seeking the counsel of the Dreamer. But her mother insisted, practically begging her to seek the Dreamer.

And when Nia Nal relented, what the Dreamer told her was so far removed from reality she said one word, “No,” then stood up and left. She hadn’t been to the Tower since.

She had wandered the empty streets of Metropolis for a few hours before she decided to go home and lie to her mother.

“I’m to be a weaver. Travel the world and discover new fabrics and designs. It’s quite grand,” she had said with what she hoped was a convincing smile. Her mother had frowned for a second before beaming at her. “And so you will,” she had replied, before gathering her daughter in her arms.

Nia never regretted lying to her mother.

“I’m fine where I am too. I love our creation and I’m proud of the work we do,” Nia said, evenly. She thought of her mother and how patient she was in teaching Nia. “Maybe one day, I will be as the Dreamer foretold. But right now, this,” she gestured around her, to the silks and the dresses and intricately woven sheets, that she loved so well, “This is where I belong. This is what I’m meant to be doing.”

“I believe that,” Aren said kindly. “But if we are to stay a bit longer, perhaps we should start putting up the torches. The sun has already set and I’d like to be able to see what I’m doing.”

All around the marketplace Nia saw well placed flames being added to stalls, illuminating the area with warm dancing lights.

“Excellent idea,” Nia smiled.

“How likely do you think we are to see a vampire tonight?” Aren asked as he installed a few torches, ensuring that his wares were well lit.

Nia looked at him and was about to answer when a small, lilting voice spoke up.

“Hello. Did you make these?”

Nia turned and smiled at the little one. “Entirely likely,” she muttered to herself. To the small one hovering her hands on top Nia’s fabrics, however, she said, “Hello to you too, little one. Yes, I did make them myself. I also have a few dresses that would be more your size.”

She barely reached Nia’s waist, had wavy blonde hair, tucked behind small ears, and the brightest blue eyes that Nia had ever seen. If it hadn’t been for the small, sharp fangs protruding from pink lips and the lack of pointy ears, Nia would have thought she was an elf. She was too beautiful to be anything but.

The little one blushed. “I don’t have money. I just wanted to see them.”

“Where’s your sire? Maybe they could buy it for you?” Nia asked, looking around for another vampire.

The little one’s brow furrowed as she frowned. “I have no sire. I have a father and a mother.”

Oh. Of course.

“Apologies,” Nia said, smiling. “I don’t know much about vampires.”

“It’s okay,” the little one answered with a smile of her own, but her eyes were still roaming over Nia’s silks. “I don’t know a lot about elves either. But that’s why I’m here.”

“You want to learn about elves?” Aren asked, intrigued at the little vampire, too. And when Nia looked around, so was everyone else in sight.

“Or anyone who’s not a vampire,” the little one answered.

“Well, let’s start with introductions then,” Nia said. She held out her hand to the little vampire. “My name is Nia. I am an elf and a weaver.”

The vampire looked at Nia then at her hand before slowly, gingerly taking it. Nia noted how careful the vampire was when closing her hand as if… oh right.

“Kara,” the vampire said. She quickly released Nia’s hand. “Sorry, I want to shake your hand but my mother is still teaching me how to control my strength. I—I wouldn’t want to hurt your hand because then you wouldn’t be able to make these nice things.”

Kara gestured to her silks.

“I am Aren,” Aren said and instead of holding out his hand, he inclined his head in a slight bow.

“Hello, Aren,” Kara said, nodding in return. “Did you make the bowls too?”

“Yes, my father and I made them,” Aren answered and handed over a small clay cup to Kara who opened her palms, afraid to wrap her hands around them. “Don’t worry, little one, they’re quite sturdy. You can’t break—”

Before Aren could finish his sentence, Kara, who had wrapped her fingers around the cup, managed to break it. She looked at Aren then at Nia with tears brimming her brilliant blues.

“No, no, don’t cry, little one,” Aren said, running out of his stall to kneel in front of Kara. He took the pieces of the cup from her tiny hands and waved at the crying child. When Kara looked at him, he tried to crush the pieces in his hand. “See, I told you they’re sturdy. You’re just stronger, that’s all. That’s not your fault.”

“But I should be able to control it,” Kara insisted. “Veronica… she can hold a glass and not break it. She can even drink from it. I’ve seen her hold a human by the arm and the human did not have marks!”

“And how long has she been practicing?” Nia asked, coming to kneel beside Aren.

Kara didn’t respond but she did look like she was thinking about it.

“See, I have been practicing my craft for a thousand years, give or take, but my mother can weave nearly twice as fast as I can and with even prettier designs. But one day, I’ll master my own strength just as you will too,” Nia said.

“I’ll be able to hug you?”

The question came as a surprise to Nia and Aren who looked at each other before turning to Kara.

“Tell you what, I will promise you one thing if you promise something in return,” Nia said and Kara nodded, her eyes big and expectant.

“I’ll keep working on my designs, keep honing my craft and you will keep practicing controlling your strength so that the next time we see each other, I’ll give you a dress and you’ll be able to hug me in return. Does that sound fair?”

“Your dress costs a hug?”

Nia laughed. “And then some. But I’ll happily accept your hug as payment if you can make sure you don’t crush my bones. Do we have a deal?”

Kara nodded, her toothy smile bright and the seeming despair she had mere minutes ago all but gone and forgotten.

Nia considered her situation for a moment before making up her mind. She turned to Aren.

“Do you mind if I leave my stall with you? I’ll take Kara and show her around. If someone comes looking for her, tell them to wait for me here. We’ll be back in an hour or so.”

Kara’s smile widened even more when Aren shrugged and said, “I don’t mind at all.”

 

And so Nia spent the next hour watching as Kara, careful in keeping everything and everyone at a distance, took everything in with wide, curious eyes. She pointed at all the new wonders she saw while Nia patiently explained them to her. Despite the distance she kept, everyone seemed enthralled by her, charmed at her willingness to listen, impressed by her lack of hesitance in asking questions and taking in everything with wonder and delight.

By the time they got back to her stall, Nia was carrying a small bag filled with trinkets and baubles the rest of the store owners had given Kara but that she’d been too wary to take, afraid that she’d break them as she had Aren’s cup.

“Your highness.” A short, blonde vampire with hazel eyes and a sharp look was waiting for them.

Highness? Nia turned to Kara who beamed at the awaiting vampire.

“Cat!” In a flash, too fast for Nia’s eyes to even follow, Kara was beside the other vampire.

“What did we say about running, your highness?” the other vampire asked, her face stern but Nia could tell there was a spell of tenderness there, as if she too wasn’t immune to Kara’s charms.

“Not to do it outside of Krypton unless I’m in trouble…” Kara recited, thoughtless about what it meant.

“Are you in trouble now?” the older vampire asked.

Kara grinned. “I will be, I think. Is father mad?”

The older vampire shook her head and rolled her eyes. “So, you knew he’d be mad and you still stole away?”

“But… that place is quiet and boring!” Kara gestured around her. “This place is noisy and smelled nice. And I have Nia to show me stuff. They even gave me a lot of gifts—oh!” Kara spoke quickly before cutting herself off, as if she just remembered something important. “Do you have gold? I broke Aren’s cup.”

“Oh… no!” Aren immediately said when Kara pointed at him. “You don’t need to pay for that, your highness.”

The mention of her title instead of her name did not escape Kara who visibly saddened. “My name is Kara…” she muttered, but Nia thought it was more to herself than to Aren who hadn’t seemed to have heard it.

Still, the older vampire insisted on paying Aren, who bowed in thanks.

“So, I’ll see you soon, Kara?” Nia asked. Kara smiled her bright, toothy smile. “Yes, but I want a suit, with pants and a long flowy jacket! I’ll make sure to hug you.”

Nia laughed. “A suit for a vampire, huh? Well that costs a tight hug, and none of that careful stuff like the way you shook my hand. For a beautiful elven suit, I demand nothing less than a tight hug where you can lift me off the ground and spin me around.”

Kara furrowed her brows for a second, visualizing what Nia described, before nodding slowly. “I think I know what you mean. But I should be grown then, so I’ll find a way to send you my measurements.”

“You sound confident, little one.”

Kara smirked, a single, pointy tooth slipping between her lips. “I’ll be taller than you and Cat and Aren.” She looked at the older vampire who just shook her head.

“Well, you won’t be doing any growing up if we disappoint your father any more than he is now. Come along,” Cat said. She turned to Nia. “Thank you for keeping an eye on her. I’d like to pay for your troubles.” She produced a small pouch Nia was sure would be filled with more gold.

“Oh, Kara’s no trouble at all,” Nia answered looking fondly at Kara who grinned back at her. She stepped back and waved her hand. “The pleasure of her company was my payment.”

Cat nodded, then held out her hand to Kara. “Say your goodbyes, your highness. We must be going.”

“Goodbye Aren, Nia!” Kara waved at them. “I’ll tell every vampire I meet to buy your stuff.”

The two elves laughed and waved back, watching as the two vampires walked out into the night, hand in hand.

And perhaps because Kara was true to her word, that evening, and for the first time since Nia joined her mother at the marketplace, Nia had to close her stall not because it was getting late, but because she had no more to sell. The majority of her fabrics and designs had been purchased by vampires.

 

 

 

Nia had a challenge that she was more than happy to meet. She wanted to weave a suit for Kara that would not tear so easily. While elven knowledge about weaving and such was far superior than most Faes, she was sure the vampires had developed a fabric suitable for their strength and speed, otherwise, Kara wouldn’t have been able to run as fast as she did without tearing her little dress.

The first hurdle to her problem came a couple of days after she met Kara.

The High Elves announced that, due to a vision had by the Dreamer, no elf would be allowed out of Metropolis with the exception of official duties. While most elves didn’t see a problem with this, seeing as they were mostly content keeping to their tree towers within the city, it frustrated Nia, who was sure she could only get the fabric she needed in Krypton.

When consulted, her mother confirmed that they had no such fabrics to speak of and that her best option would be to go to the Tower and ask the scribes there. They might know something hidden within the wisdom of the elves.

For a few days Nia rejected the idea of going anywhere near the Tower. In fact, she was determined to live out the rest of her life having never seen its insides again.

But she was also determined not to let down her new friend. So, Nia swallowed her apprehension and went to the Tower where she made sure the guard understood that she did not want to convene with the Dreamer but instead sought information in the libraries.

The guard shrugged and led her inside, guiding her through the labyrinthian halls of the tower until finally they reached two massive wooden doors.

“Knock once and wait. Someone will come and open the door for you. Do not knock a second time. They do not appreciate impatience,” the guard said before turning back and walking down the dark hallways.

So, Nia knocked, the sound bouncing off the walls of the long, quiet halls. She waited for what seemed like an hour but was more likely about fifteen minutes before the door groaned and creaked open and a tiny man in a robe popped his head out.

“Hello, I am Nia Nal and I’ve come to research certain fabrics.”

The robed man frowned, and then grunted, gesturing for her to enter as he held the heavy door open for her.

Once she was inside, her jaw dropped.

It was a massive room that stretched far beyond what even Nia’s elven eyes could see. There were rows upon rows of towering shelves, all of them surely needing ladders a few stories high to reach the top. Right down the middle of the room were desks, and seated at each was at least one robed elf consulting something from one scroll and copying it onto another.

The entire library was quiet but for the scratches of quill on scroll and a few soft utterings.

“You wanted to search about fabrics?” The robed man from before asked.

“Uhm, yes. My master said she does not know anything about my requirements but recommended that I search here.”

The robed man nodded, seeming pleased with her master’s recommendation. “And what is it that you require? What kind of clothing are you planning to make?”

Nia hesitated. “A suit… for the princess of Krypton.”

The robed man’s eyes narrowed, a line in the middle of his brows deepening, his thin lips set in a tight frown. “Why would an elf make a suit for a vampire?”

“Because she’s my friend and I promised I’d make her one.”

The soft laugh that came from the other elf was the most condescending Nia had ever heard.

“You? A friend of the Heir to the Throne of Krypton?”

Nia decided not to dignify it with an answer. “Well, do you have it or not?”

“If the Princess is indeed your friend, shouldn’t she be able to at least provide for you with fabric you can use or give you the name of someone who can?”

Nia raised a brow. “You mean the famed wisdom of the elves has no solution for this?”

This produced Nia’s desired effect when the robed man scoffed, indignant. “We have nothing of the sort because we need no such thing. The only way you can get it is if your friend sent you their fabrics or if you went to Krypton yourself… which I’m sure you know is not allowed.”

“And why is that, anyway? The High Elves only told us that the Dreamer recommended it, but not why,” Nia asked.

The robed man smirked. “You are in his Tower, why don’t you go ask him yourself?”

Nia gritted her teeth and breathed deeply. “Thank you for your time but I’m sure the Dreamer has better things to do than to entertain an apprentice weaver. I’d like to know the way out of the Tower, please.”

“I’ll take her,” a taller robed woman said from behind Nia. “I’m just on my way out too.”

The robed man looked at the two of them and said nothing so the woman gestured for Nia to follow her.

“Don’t mind Brother Lourn. He’s brilliant but…not used to people,” the woman said, her voice so soft, it almost didn’t echo. “My name is Ren, by the way.”

“Nia,” Nia replied and inclined her head.

“What’s this I hear about you getting out of Metropolis?” Ren asked.

Nia shook her head. “I don’t actually want to get out. I promised a friend I would make something for her and it so happens that the things I need can only be acquired in Krypton or by a Kryptonian.”

The woman thought for a second. “Is your friend in Krypton? Maybe they can send you what you need?”

“Yes, she is, but I’m not sure how to send her a letter or a message.”

“Well, you did not hear this from me,” Ren’s voice softened even further. “But I heard a delegation of High Elves would be visiting Krypton next year. Perhaps you could wait until then and ask someone to convey a letter for you. Or…” And here Ren hesitated, looking around them as if afraid someone might hear. “…You could go back to the library and look for the one we call Brainy. He knows the workings of Metropolis inside and out. If anyone here knows how to get out of Metropolis without being seen by the guards, it’s him.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

Ren shrugged. “The Dreamer said you might need help.”

For some reason this angered Nia even more than what Lourn had done and she seethed with it the rest of the way. Ren sensed the change in Nia’s demeanor and stayed quiet, only saying goodbye once they were outside the Tower.

 

 

 

Nia’s dark mood persisted for the next couple of weeks. She locked herself in her workshop and tried all the ways she knew fabric could be strengthened. She at least had a frame of reference for how strong Kara was. To call Aren’s stoneware sturdy was a massive understatement, yet Kara broke it with no effort at all. And this was a young vampire. She would become stronger yet.

Nia was almost tempted to go back to the Tower to look for this Brainy person when she received a letter, sealed with dark red wax and bearing the insignia of the Royal House of Zor-El.

Inside was a piece of paper and in scratchy, inelegant writing. It said,

 

“Hello Nia,

It’s me, Kara.

Mother said letters are as important as fighting so we comp compor agreed that I would write you one letter as my practice every week. I hope you reply because this will be boring otherwise.

My mother also tells me that I should apologize to you for my terrible handwriting and that I shall endvor work hard to write legi legb better.

The person who has this letter will wait for your reply unless you tell them to go away. Please don’t tell them to go away.

Your friend,

Kara

 

P.S.

Mother tells me you can’t leave Krypton. That’s sad. I wanted you to come visit and you can stay in my bed and tell me more stories about elves.”

 

 

Nia re-read the letter several times, laughing each time, before she remembered the messenger who was waiting.

She quickly wrote a reply and handed it to the waiting vampire.

 

“Hello, Kara,

Thank you for your letter.

I’m not going to lie. Your handwriting leaves a lot to be desired, but we must all start from somewhere. The first few sheets I wove were even more terrible than your handwriting, and it amused my mother to no end trying to understand what I had created.

Unlike my creation, however, I was able to understand what you wrote so there’s hope for you yet.

Thank you for thinking of me when your mother said you needed to practice your letters. You should read a lot of books too, to supplement your writing.

I look forward to your next letter, and hopefully by then, I’ll have news of your next visit so I know how long I have to finish your suit. I can also tell you as many stories as you want.

Your friend,

Nia.”

 

 

 

This started a back and forth of letters. Before long, it became part of Nia’s routine to expect a messenger from Krypton every couple of weeks or so. If anyone noticed, no one said a word.

They wrote about whatever was going on in their lives, although Kara’s letters were understandably quiet about the state of Krypton. Nia was sure her mother was checking the letters in case Kara accidentally leaked state secrets.

But Kara mostly talked about how her training in fighting was going, what she thought of the book she’d just read, something she saw in one of their travels… or the latest way she’d made Cat Grant’s life a living hell.

Nia could only imagine Cat’s face, tolerating the whimsies and the harmless pranks of the princess. (The latest one was letting loose tiny frogs in Cat’s office. She’d found a few of them in the forests surrounding Krypton and decided that they’d be annoying enough for a creature who had superb hearing. Apparently, it annoyed Cat enough to complain not to her mother, but to her father, and she’d been grounded for a couple months.)

Over the next few decades, the letters became longer and longer but much less frequent as Kara’s father decided that her training took priority over whatever else was going on in her life. Still, it warmed Nia’s heart to know that her friend never forgot her and spent what little time she had to herself to write.

Eventually Nia got the courage to ask Kara to send her some fabrics from Krypton, admitting that she couldn’t find or create anything in Metropolis that could match the strength of theirs. The messenger who arrived a month later brought with him several crates of different fabrics and a short note that simply said.

“Wasn’t sure which one you needed, so I bought them all.

Will write you a longer letter soon.

Kara.”

 

 

 

Armed with an array of fabrics from Krypton, Nia focused on her promise, and even though it did take her a few more years to finally weave one that had the strength of Krypton’s but with the softness and beauty of elven silk, she was more than happy that she was another step closer to fulfilling her promise to Kara.

When she had asked Kara’s measurements, Kara only replied,

“Take the measurements yourself. I’ll be visiting Metropolis with my father. We leave next month. I still can’t hug you though, so I won’t be expecting a suit either. See you then.

Kara.”

 

 

And when she did arrive, Nia wasn’t surprised to find that she was no longer the tiny vampire, barely reaching Nia’s waist, who had visited them all those years ago. Kara had grown to be even more beautiful than Nia expected. She was, just as she promised, taller than Nia, taller even than Aren. Her tiny fangs were still visible and poked from her lips, and her eyes were an even brighter blue than Nia remembered.

“You haven’t aged a day,” Kara remarked upon seeing Nia. They were outside the Tower where Nia agreed to meet her.

“And you’re not so cute anymore,” Nia fired back, barely able to hold back her smile.

“My mother says I’m still a child so I take that to mean I’m just as cute. You can’t convince me otherwise,” Kara answered, and Nia let loose her laugh in response.

“Well, I’m an elf. I won’t do much aging for a long while.” She gestured for Kara to follow her. “So, your father has business here?”

Kara shrugged. “I think so? I don’t actually know. Father doesn’t tell me anything beyond where I need to go and what to do when I get there. When he said he was going to Krypton, I asked if I could come with him and he just shrugged. I figured it’s time I visit my only friend.”

Nia looked at Kara as they walked. “That can’t be true.”

“You’d be surprised,” Kara muttered under her breath, but it was loud enough in the quiet of Metropolis.

“My house is a bit of a walk from here. Are you sure you’d like to stay over my place? Wouldn’t you prefer staying at the Tower?” Nia asked. Kara looked at her in mock shock.

“And miss an entire evening listening to you talk about everything that you didn’t write to me about?”

“I doubt there’s a lot I didn’t write about. As I told you in one of my earlier letters, my life is pretty straightforward. I work and eat and sleep. That’s it, really. Then I see Aren and his wife during market days.”

“You can’t possibly expect me to believe that no boy elf has gotten the nerve to ask you out…” Kara’s eyes were wide, her lips curled in a teasing smile. “Or girl elf?”

“Sadly, that’s the truth. And even if some poor soul decided I was good enough for them, I wouldn’t have time to entertain them. My research into fabrics has taken over my life—actually, I blame you for that. If you hadn’t sent me those fabrics, I wouldn’t have had enough samples to experiment and tinker with.”

“What? You asked for them…” Kara shook her head.

“Yes, but you gave them. So, your fault,” Nia said, laughing. “But seriously, I’ve never really had much time even before I met you. And, relative to the average marrying age of elves, I still have a millennium or so more to go before my mother starts lamenting the fact that I am yet unwed.”

Their conversation was easy and the rest of Kara’s stay was spent not with Nia telling stories, but with Kara describing all the places she’d been to in her capacity as her father’s Chief Guard, a title she’d earned after defeating “…a bunch of other soldiers. It’s really no big deal. I suspect it might even be rigged or something. I think Father just wanted to give me a title because, let’s face it, I’m not gonna be Queen of Krypton for a long time. I stopped aging a few decades back, and just like you, I won’t be doing any aging for a long time to come.”

Nia did not mention how Kara effectively skipped over the fact that she had to be a Master Vampire before she could even be considered for the Chief Guard position, something Kara had only mentioned in passing in one of her letters.

But Nia had learned early on that there were things Kara didn’t like talking about, chief of which was the very obvious fact that she was far stronger than the average higher vampire. Either she dismissed it whenever Nia would try bringing it up, or ignored it altogether.

Instead, Nia focused on Kara’s stories. There was a whole world out there, Nia learned, that the elves were missing out on simply because they believed the words of a senile, old elf. Metropolis was connected to this world, whether the elves wanted to admit it or not, and the Dreamer was holding them back.

She also showed Kara the fruits of her research while she was taking the vampire’s measurements in her workshop.

Her workshop was little more than a closet that had been repurposed. Shelves and cabinets lined one side, holding most of her creations and a rack of nothing but sample swatches of fabrics she’d designed over the years. On the other side her loom filled most of the space with other paraphernalia tucked into any remaining nook. There was a thin, vertical mirror on the only narrow sliver of wall space available, and she used a crate as a makeshift pedestal. There was hardly room for her and Kara, but Nia felt proud of this space.

“It doesn’t look traditionally sturdy,” Kara noted when Nia handed over a sample of the fabric she’d been working on.

“No, and that’s the best part. it looks and feels like regular fabric… well, regular elven-ish fabric. And, since you’re here, I can actually stress test them properly. Would you mind pulling them apart?”

Nia was quite pleased to see that it took Kara some visible effort to rip the fabric into shreds.

“I like it,” Kara said, playing with the remaining swath. “I can’t wait to wear it.”

 “Do you mean it?” Nia asked, looking at the fabric, then at Kara.

“Why would I lie about that?”

Nia hesitated, putting the rest of her samples back in their appropriate cases. “I’ve never made anything that isn’t for elves specifically. You’d be my first non-elf customer.”

“Well then, it’s settled,” Kara said, rubbing her palms together, tiny, sharp fangs poking through her grin. “Once I start wearing your suits and dresses, I’ll make sure the world knows the name Nia Nal. Everyone who’s anyone will be wearing your creations. Your name will be synonymous…”

“Okay, okay,” Nia laughed, cutting off the over-enthusiastic vampire. “I’ll make sure to hire you to advertise my wares.”

“I’ll do it for free. No, in fact I’ll pay twice as much just to wear your designs! I’ll go up to anyone and say, ‘Hi! This is Nia Nal’s creation I’m wearing. Oh that’s elven too? Is it Nia Nal’s? No? Then it’s inferior!’”

Nia had never laughed as much as she did that night.

Which, if she had been in any way superstitious, should have forewarned her. But Nia had been just happy to finally see Kara again.

 

 

 

Kara left with her father a few hours before sunrise.

Before sundown that same day it was announced that the Dreamer was preparing to pass on and his successor had already been chosen.

Before midnight, Nia Nal would be forcibly taken from her home and away from her mother, and she would never see the outside of the Ivory Tower again. Well, except for that one time she stole away to meet her favorite human.

Her sleep would never be peaceful, her dreams would never again be hers but someone else’s… always someone else’s.

No wonder the old man turned senile in the end.

 

 

 

 

 

Nia reverently folds the suit she’s spent close to another millennium to create. Much has happened since she started weaving and cutting this fabric, and hopefully this time she’ll be able to fulfill her promise to her friend.

She closes her eyes and breathes deeply, the visions swimming in her mind.

She’s hoping against all hope that it at least helps in whatever else may lie ahead.

“Lady Nal?” she hears Brainy call outside her door. “The vampires are getting antsy. Are you ready?”

Nia takes one last look at her prison. She takes a deep breath, the visions swimming again and she pushes them down. She tightens her grip on her bag, carrying with her promises she means to fulfill.

“I’m ready.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Querl Dox examines the vampire sitting in front of him.

Where once she was wary and suspicious of everything, now she looks bored, almost as if nothing in the vast library could ever be of any interest to her. She’s sitting on one of the many identical library chairs, and Brainy will never be able to explain how she manages to make that humble chair look like a throne. He surmises it must be the fact that everything in this woman is long and flowing. She is perfectly proportioned to look every bit as beautiful as she is deadly, a prime specimen of her kind.

“I’m not going to eat you, so stop staring at me,” the woman says, her gaze set firmly on her fingernails, as if they were infinitely more entertaining to her than he, or anything in the library, will ever be.

It is midnight and the scribes and workers in the library have been gone for hours. Only Brainy and the vampire woman—Lady Sinclair—are there. They were supposed to meet at midnight but Brainy knows she has been lurking, hiding in the shadows of the library and only showed herself when the last of the other scribes had gone.

She came in much earlier than they agreed. Her footsteps were muffled, her presence unnoticeable until she wanted to be seen, and she picked a chair and sat on it. Brainy wanted to ask why she was early, but he was too busy pretending to catch up with his duties.

He can’t really blame her for being bored. They’ve been tucked away and hiding in the Tower, far from anybody’s eyes, save perhaps the Dreamer. And if the Dreamer approves of their presence here, then who is Brainy to doubt?

After all, most of his time over the last few weeks was spent trying to gather what they need for their escape. It would have been easy if it were just one person. But four? Two of whom have special needs? Well, that takes a little bit more time.

“What made you stay?” he asks, finally voicing a question he couldn’t bring to ask himself.

“You think I shouldn’t believe her?” the woman counters, a slight bit of interest coloring her voice. She’s still staring at her fingernails, flicking at invisible dirt.

“I—Uhmm… But you don’t even know her,” he frowns at her.

“We’re talking about the little elf, right?” The vampire has now put her hands down and is staring intently at Brainy.

“Lady Nal, yes,” he answers, pronouncing her name delicately.

Something brews in her eyes for a second until a slow smile forms on her lips. It confuses Brainy and his frown deepens.

“This is… entertaining,” Lady Sinclair mutters, her fangs poking out as she smiles.

“What is?”

A laugh, haughty and amused, comes from the woman. “I don’t believe this. She said you know everything in this place. But you don’t know who she is.” She shakes her head. “Well, now I’m even more inclined not to tell you why I believe her.”

Brainy studies the woman and concludes that she looks like she’s found something much more interesting than any of the knowledge of the elves that’s hers for the taking… if only she’d reach out to any of the towering shelves.

But no, to this vampire, it seems Brainy and his seeming lack of knowledge is something worth observing.

He’s not sure why, but he doesn’t push the conversation. Instead, he shifts tactic.

“Where is Lady Grant?”

Lady Sinclair gestures vaguely. “She’ll be here in about ten minutes. She had to take care of our guards, of course.”

Brainy’s blood runs cold. “By take care, you mean…”

“Kill them, yes, and bury their bodies, of course. We’re professionals, Mr. Dox. We tend to know what we’re doing most of the time.” The way Lady Sinclair casually admits to killing their own unsettles Brainy, but he swallows down his apprehension.

“And… and Lady Grant did this?” It’s not that he thinks the other vampire is weak, but Lady Grant had never shown any inclination towards violence in any of their meetings. In fact, she’d be the first one to always suggest an alternative that would not get her hands dirty, so to speak.

But Lady Sinclair on the other hand… Brainy can almost smell the bloodlust wafting off her.

“What do you know about Lady Grant?” she asks, amused.

“Nothing much. Only, I’ve seen her name registered in our annals as someone of note in Krypton,” Brainy admits. He also admits, internally, that he has a feeling he doesn’t like where this conversation is heading.

“But you know that vampires have unique powers, yes?”

Brainy nods.

“Well… I know Lady Grant doesn’t seem like it, but she can be ruthless when needed. She’s as practical as a vampire can be… and her powers are, I will readily admit, terrifying.”

Curiosity takes over Brainy. “And this makes her able to kill fellow vampires?”

Lady Sinclair frowns. “Does Lady Grant look like she sullies her hands? No, dear boy. Lady Grant, however, has the unique capability of making thralls out of vampires, regardless if she sired them or not. She can, to an extent, do the same to simple minded higher vampires, too.”

Brainy blinks, this new information forming a rather gruesome picture in his mind. “She does not kill them. She orders them to… to…”

“Kill themselves, then leaves one to bury the bodies before he kills himself too. I find it’s much more efficient that way,” a voice drawls behind him, making Brainy almost jump out of his skin.

“Lady Grant…” he breathes out, his heart hammering in his chest. In all the times he’s spent with the two vampires, he’s never been terrified of them until that very moment.

“It’s only practical. We’d draw too much attention if we sent them home, after all,” Lady Grant says, taking a seat beside Lady Sinclair. She smoothes her pantsuit and turns to Lady Sinclair. “Sorry about your thrall.”

Lady Sinclair shrugs. “He was a fine a specimen. Quite good in bed too. But he was deteriorating. Killing him was a mercy.”

Brainy swallows. “I—I should fetch Lady Nal.”

The two vampires, eyes glinting in the faint light of the library, don’t say anything. They look at him, their eyes hungry, and Brainy runs.

 

 

 

 

Kara has once again found herself delegated to cauldron and basement cleaning duty, which she doesn’t mind, to be honest.

She knows Kelly has been multiplying and bewitching her cauldrons. She’s met a few witches in her life, and she’s seen about as many cauldrons. None of them were heavy enough to exhaust a higher vampire. So, she decides to treat it as weight and stamina training instead, challenging herself to finish cleaning more before sunset so that after two weeks, she has more than doubled her initial numbers. If Kelly has any objections to this, she doesn’t say. But the inexplicably heavy and dirty cauldrons keep coming, and Kara keeps cleaning them as fast as she can. She’s not even sure if her cauldron cleaning is helping Kelly at all. She suspects that Kelly is doing it to keep her distracted and away from Alex and Lena.

But this extra work means that she feeds on Lena more, which should be a problem if not for Sam who, in addition to taking over most of Alex’s chores, also makes sure that Lena is always well fed.

Lena, mostly because of her training regimen, has gone from two whole bucks to four in a matter of days and Sam has had to extend the range of her hunting grounds so as not to exhaust the land. With help from Alex, Sam was able to map out the surrounding forests and they worked out a rotation so that she doesn’t over hunt just one area.

“If all else fails, there’s still the fact that I can just start stealing people’s cows,” Sam shrugged as they finalized her rotation. Everyone laughed. Lena didn’t. She turned to Kara, when they were finally alone, and said, “Sam was serious.”

Kara didn’t doubt it.

One evening, Kara overhears Kelly telling Alex that their animals have never been cleaner, more cooperative, or more well behaved. The chickens leave their coop at the break of dawn and come back on their own just before sunset. Sam only needs to lock it as soon as the last of the chickens have come home. The cows, goats, horses, and pigs have learned where to defecate so there’s very minimal cleaning needed. The pigs, in particular, have somehow learned that after a quick mud bath, they must also find a clean pond to rinse the mud off before they go back inside the barn.

While all this impresses Kelly and Alex, Lena tells Kara that the animals are, in truth, terrified of Sam and override their instincts in fear of facing of the wrath of the demon.

Sam denies this, naturally.

 

Kelly and Alex though…

Kara suspects there’s more to them than meets the eye. She doesn’t know much about humans but she’s sure humans don’t live past one hundred years. And yet, the fact that Alex knows Nia, she cannot be less than three hundred years old.

She doesn’t look a day over thirty.

Kelly, on the other hand, is a witch, a Fae, so her being ageless is not something that concerns Kara. What does rouse Kara’s curiosity is the fact that Kelly just seems to be okay with the chaos in her life, right now. In fact, she seems well suited for it.

She wakes up every morning and takes a few bottles of potions and herbs to sell to the market, comes home for lunch, then spends the rest of the day brewing more, with Kara now working beside her to clean up.

Most days, she comes home to Alex and Lena changing the landscape surrounding their home, Sam playing with Ruby, or putting Ruby to sleep, and Kara looking out, seething and jealous. None of this fazes her. She seems to have accepted the fact that this is her life now, taking things as they are and never questioning them.

But Kara can also see that her acceptance doesn’t come from mindless resignation of the way things are. No, in fact, quite the opposite. Kara suspects that she knows the kind of trouble she has allowed to stay under her roof.

Even when they first met her in the mountains, a few weeks back, Kelly didn’t seem afraid. Wary, at most, but not afraid. She casually walked right through their company looking for buried fermented vegetables. There’s a quiet confidence about Kelly, and while most people will appreciate it, it makes Kara wary herself.

Kara’s tempted to ask Sam. She’s sure Sam knows, but she also understands that people keep secrets for a reason. She’s guilty of doing the same thing. And besides, Kara figures, the couple have been nothing but gracious hosts, opening their home to a misfit band of Faes, each keeping secrets of their own.

Even Lena—innocent Lena—must be hiding something… like the fact that she has riches stored in every border of Thorul despite seeming like she’s never set foot outside of the territory.

So, Kara decides to file her concerns to one side of her mind. After all, as she learned quite recently and at a very costly price, secrets have a way of letting themselves out.

 

 

 

And speaking of Lena…

Over the past couple of weeks, Kara’s had to watch Alex and Lena slug it out, their hits getting harder and faster every passing day. Kara was sure that when they arrived at the ranch, the surrounding lands were being prepared for farming. These days, they were filled with craters, a result of Alex and Lena’s training.

But while Lena is exceptionally strong, Alex puts slightly more effort into her speed and accuracy training.

Kelly was right, though… The way Kara gets unreasonably angry over Lena spending time with someone else and her helplessness to do anything about it (the sun being a pesky inconvenience) has not gone away. If Kara’s being honest, it’s getting worse.

The moment she hears Lena and Alex end their training, Kara is already at the door with a towel and water for Lena. Being that she was raised to be at least considerate, she also, begrudgingly, offers Alex water as well, much to Kelly and Sam’s amusement.

And not for a second after that will she suffer to be away from Lena until her training resumes the next day. Because of their schedule, Lena sleeps most of the night, which does make Kara lonely sometimes. But then she takes the opportunity to just watch her mate sleep, observing every twitch of muscle, enjoying just memorizing the regular rise and fall of her breathing and her strong and steady heartbeat, and Kara thinks it’s still time well spent.

 

In addition, since their first kiss on the hilltop, Lena has been, in a word, ravenous. Every spare moment they can get, she’s either on top of Kara, or pulling Kara on top of her. Not that Kara is complaining, of course, but everyone else is. Kara just can’t seem to care about their complaints though. Not when kissing Lena feels sooo good.

Kara can’t explain it. And even if she could, she doubts they would understand anyway. It’s not just Lena who’s ravenous, Kara is too, perhaps even to a greater degree. She craves Lena’s kisses more fiercely than she craves blood... and for a vampire, that’s saying a lot. It’s like the moment they touch, the moment their eyes meet, everything in Kara screams to kiss Lena, to be closer, to be even closer than that.

And there’s something she hasn’t pointed out to anyone mostly because these days, Lena stays human most of the time, and only turns into a wolf when they’re in their own little world in the basement… but Lena…

To say that Lena’s wolf form has grown is a gross understatement.

Maybe Kara is biased, but either she is shrinking, or Lena has grown so much that the fur pile Alex and Kelly provided for them now seems miniscule compared to Lena. Most days, Kara sleeps with half her body resting on Lena in wolf form.

She hasn’t had the opportunity to see exactly how tall Lena is now, sitting down, but Kara suspects she’s about to outgrow the basement.

She’s also about to run out of things to read to Lena… because as well as Alex’s training is going, Lena is making even better progress on her reading, but prefers that Kara read to her. She can see Lena mouthing the words, as if sounding them in her head. She would read a couple of pages, pause on words they hadn’t encountered before, and eventually frown at the book and hand it over to Kara.

“Words sound better when Kara says them,” is her only explanation.

There’s still the fact that Lena speaks in the third person, but everyone else sees it as an adorable quirk so Kara leaves it alone. Besides, she thinks Lena will teach herself how to speak in the first person, eventually.

One thing, however, hasn’t changed since she first met Lena in Thorul that fateful night. Lena still looks at Kara as if Kara is her entire world, as if Kara is the fulfillment of something that has been promised to Lena long before Lena the pup understood what promises are.

And it fills Kara with dread, the thought that one day, when all their cards are laid down… What if Lena doesn’t look at her that way anymore?

 

 

 

 

It’s a quiet Saturday evening, and everyone is in the dining room.

Earlier that week, Kelly asked if everyone would be up for a normal evening at least once and looked amused when Kara asked what that meant. Kelly proceeded to describe what sitting down for dinner would be like and, intrigued, Kara looked at Lena who nodded. And so the date was set.

At a glance, the scene looks like a typical dinner with friends. Six individuals with different backgrounds all sit and gather around a circular dinner table to share a meal and some stories.

Well, Kelly and Alex share a meal. Lena is impressive in the way she has learned how to cut her fresh venison into bite size chunks using a knife and a fork, Kara is drinking her mate’s blood from a wine goblet (the blood was discreetly taken before dinner started so as not to appear improper), and Sam and Ruby—

“I’ve been meaning to ask,” Alex starts, waving her fork at Sam who, with Ruby on her lap, is trying to keep her daughter’s hands off whatever food is in front of her.

Earlier, Ruby was able to get her hand stuck inside a honey pot, the sight of which made Lena shrink back, echoes of the time Ruby smeared jam all over her belly ringing in her mind. Kara volunteers to switch places with Lena, but with a deep, centering breath, Lena declines her mate’s offer, proclaiming that since she is in human form, Ruby can’t possibly do the same thing she did before.

“What do you eat?”

Everyone, even Ruby who looks confused for a second, turns to Sam.

The smile that splits Sam’s lips can only be described as truly murderous.

“Ignorance is bliss, Alex Danvers,” she replies, her dark eyes never leaving Alex’s.

“You know my full name?” Alex frowns while Sam shrugs in answer.

“I am a demon—sort of. Names are my thing.”

“Then you know why I don’t like using it.” The sudden anger that flares from Alex catches Kara’s attention and she looks at the human curiously but decides to remain quiet. Kelly puts a hand on top of Alex’s and it visibly lessens the tension in her wife.

Kara watches as Kelly pulls Alex to her, their forehead touching, and murmurs a few comforting words before she releases Alex with a small kiss. Alex is calmer but her question is still hanging in the air.

“I don’t really care if you like your name or not. That’s not any of my concern. I know your name. I know everyone’s name. It’s not a big deal.” Sam waves her hand, as if this will dismiss the sudden wariness on Alex’s countenance.

“Okay, but you didn’t answer the question,” Kara interjects, unwilling to let go of the subject.

But before Sam can say anything, Lena speaks up. “Sam feeds on everything.”

The cruel smile on Sam softens a touch and she turns to Lena. “You’re my favorite for a reason.” Kara watches as Sam quickly glances at everyone else before continuing. “But that’s an oversimplification of things. It’s a bit more complicated than that.”

Lena’s brows furrow. “Sam feeds on the earth and the sky and beyond the sky.”

Sam shakes her head.

“So, is Lena right or wrong?” Alex demands, the kale on her fork forgotten.

Sam sighs. “Lena is about as accurate as your run-of-the-mill prophecy.”

“Would you stop being cryptic for one second and just answer the question plainly?” Kara huffs, earning her a concerned look from Lena. She smiles at her mate, a reassurance, and Lena nods slightly before turning her gaze back to Sam.

“I did say it’s more complicated than how Lena phrased it. But if you want the watered-down, bland version that lacks context, yes, sure she’s right,” Sam shrugs. “I feed on everything. There. Happy?”

“Lena wants context,” Lena says, unaware that everyone at the table is now looking at her. “Sam feeds on everything and Lena is right but not accurate. Yes?”

Sam claps her hands together and her smile at Lena widens. “Listen, Little Wolf. Since you’re the only one who seems to know how to grasp this, I will explain it to you. Then maybe the rest can just gather what they can from my answer.”

Kara looks at Lena who nods at Sam determinedly. Sam turns her entire body to face Lena who is sitting a little to her right. Her face turns serious, her gaze intense and just as focused as Lena’s.

“I’m going to assume you know what prophecies are,” Sam says and Lena only nods in response.

“Good,” Sam says after seeing Lena’s response. “Now, imagine a painting stretching into eternity, but most of it is covered in cloth. Every moment a new part of the painting is revealed and that is our present. The parts that have been revealed are our past. And the part that is covered still is our future.”

“There are people who are gifted and can poke holes into the parts that are covered. We call these people by several titles, a ‘Prophet’ being one of them. But no one is powerful enough to uncover it entirely. Only Time can do that. So, those who are able to peer into these holes see what they think is the future and declare it to be so. One prophet will declare that so and so shall rise and devour the world, and perhaps that is really what they saw. Perhaps this so and so really will devour the world… but why? And how certain is the prophet that it is this world that will be devoured? But the better question really should always be…’How are they sure that in proclaiming said prophecy, they are not actually putting into motion its fulfillment?’”

Sam sits back, her eyes still locked on Lena’s.

“That’s it? But that doesn’t—” Alex begins to protest but Lena cuts her off.

“Lena understands, Alex.” Lena says, nodding at Alex. “Sam is saying that Lena only saw a portion of how Sam feeds. Lena is right. Sam feeds on everything. But Lena is also lacking…” She slows down before turning to Sam. “Context.”

“Go on,” Sam gestures at Lena with a slight bow.

“When Sam entered Lena’s mind, Lena saw a hole in Sam’s painting. Sam…absorbs everything. But maybe that’s not…” The furrowed brows, the shifting gaze and the even breathing are all too familiar to Kara. She’s seen Lena like this whenever her mate is absorbing information and digesting it. “… Sam is everything.”

“Close enough,” Sam says with an unmistakable smirk of approval.

“Great,” Alex mutters. “The wolf understands cryptic…”

“Sam is… old. No, ancient,” Lena says, turning this time to Alex, a touch of frustration coloring her voice. Kara also understands Lena’s frustration.

Over the last few weeks that she’s been teaching Lena how to read, she realized that Lena is able to understand and absorb complicated concepts but her vocabulary, while growing exponentially daily, limits her in how she expresses things.

“Sam is everything. And Sam feeds by taking a part of Sam back,” Lena says and Kara wishes she can say that she understands. But she is sharing Lena’s frustration … which she deflects back at Sam.

“Are you just going to sit there and watch as the only person who understands you flails about trying to explain you to the rest of us?”

Sam’s gaze alternates between Kara and Lena for a moment before she sighs. “Or maybe you can all be like the Little Wolf here and drop whatever preconceived notions you have? Because the answer has been staring at you in the face. Lena has pretty much spelled it out for you but you all decided to just be stubborn cows and demand the truth to be spoon fed to you.”

“I am a Fallen,” Sam continues. “I know that doesn’t say much because there’s barely anything known about us except for one detail, and a rather important one at that.” She pauses, and because nobody else really wants to talk, she looks slightly disappointed for a second before she resumes. “I have been here long before there was any here to be here on. And when the world was created, it was through me and my kind. And what I need to exist here is vastly miniscule so it doesn’t have any effect on anyone or anything when I take back a little bit of myself from time to time.”

“So, when Lena said you are everything, she meant it literally. A part of you resides in everything and you’re only reabsorbing as sustenance?” Kelly asks.

“And I’m right in deciding to make you my second favorite,” Sam winks at Kelly who bows her head at her and winks back.

“You know, you could have just said that without going through all that preaching about prophecies and whatever,” Alex says, frowning at the kale on her fork before putting it in her mouth. She squirms and looks at Kelly before swallowing.

Sam shrugs in response. “But now you can’t say that I didn’t impart wisdom. Besides, at least two people at this table are haunted by prophecies. I offer wisdom and comfort in a way.”

Kara feels her stomach drop, twisting violently on its way down. She’s not even aware that she sought out Lena’s hand. But Lena, ever attentive, turns to her in concern.

“Kara?” Lena asks gently. In the background, Kara can hear Alex and Sam bickering with Kelly interjecting when she can, trying to be an impartial referee between the two of them.

“Comfort…” Kara whispers. She turns to Sam, who seems to have sensed the change in Kara’s demeanor, backing down from her fight with Alex and turning her full attention to Kara.

“Comfort…” Kara repeats, this time louder.

What comfort can she ever gain from knowing how prophecies work when someone else paid the price of her knowing the prophecy concerning her?

“You don’t know the meaning of the word, Fallen,” Kara says, lowly. 

“Kara?” Lena tightens her hold on Kara’s hand but Kara can’t bring herself to look at her mate right now.

“Teach me, then, Princess…” The emphasis on the last word rattles inside Kara. “Since you know me so well, teach me what I don’t know, Master Vampire.” Sam raises a brow in challenge and even Ruby can sense the almost electric air between Kara and her mother. She squirms out of Sam’s grasp and totters over to Kelly.

“Twice now, you’ve called me by titles I’m sure you know I’ve denounced. Do it one more time, I dare you.” Kara senses power coursing over her but Lena holds fast to her, anchoring her.

“You know, when we created your kind, I said hubris would be your downfall. I so like to be proven right, Heir to the throne of Krypton, Princess Kara Zor-El, Chief Guard to the King, Master Vampire. Prove me right.”

Kara feels more than hears the snarl that rips from her chest. Her fangs are at their full length, her eyes red, with red veins surrounding it. She stands, kicking the chair back. She hears it explode on the wall behind her. In front of her, Sam stands too, slowly, her eyes closing, the light around her bending away from her. She unfurls her wings—dark, feathery and larger than Kara had ever imagined they would be.

She doesn’t give Sam any opportunity to do more as she lunges forward.

Or at least she tries.

Instead she finds herself suspended in midair, floating inside a bubble of power, unable to move or speak. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Lena staring at her, concerned and wary. She’s at least happy to find, however, that Sam is in the same predicament… Except that Sam, eyes closed, looks relaxed inside the sphere that surrounds her. She crosses her legs and sits down. Her wings are gone but the light still bends around her so that there’s a faint silhouette of darkness surrounding her body.

“I just wanted one normal dinner,” Kelly says. She’s still in her chair but her outstretched hands are aimed at both Kara and Sam. “One family dinner, so to speak. But I guess everyone’s ego is too big for that.” Kelly shakes her head.

“Everyone should apologize to my wife,” Alex starts but Kelly cuts her off.

“I hope you know that includes you.”

Alex quickly turns to Kelly, her eyes wide in disbelief. “What? Why?”

“Sam gave you a warning. You should’ve backed off. But you kept pushing, then you get angry when she pushes back.” Without waiting for Alex to reply, Kelly turns her gaze to Kara. “And you… You’re just as bad as my wife. Sam says something and somehow that sets you off. Instead of explaining yourself, you dared her to push your buttons more! You goaded her! A Fallen! Are you mad?”

Kelly sighs before turning to Sam.

“I don’t know what games you’re playing, but I’d really appreciate it if you stop antagonizing these two hotheads. I know it must be fun for you, putting them in their place, but you’re a mother now. This is not the sort of lesson you want to be teaching your daughter.”

Kelly heaves another sigh. “I’m going to release the two of you now, and we’re going to have a nice, quiet dinner. I swear to all my ancestors that if any of you tries to make a mess again and ruin this evening, I will lock you in a far more oppressive hold. Do not test me.”

She waves her hands and Kara and Sam both drop to the ground unceremoniously. By the time they both stand up, they’re back to their normal selves. Lena offers her hand and Kara, with a sheepish smile, takes it.

“I’m sorry,” Kara murmurs, soft enough so that Lena knows its for her. But Lena’s brows are still furrowed in concern. “I’m fine,” Kara says as soon as she has straightened up. She looks around and sees the remains of the chair on the wall.

When she looks back at the table, Lena’s offering her chair.

“No, no. It’s okay,” Kara waves her hand. “I’ll get another one.”

“No. Stay. Apologize.” Lena says simply. “Lena will get the chair.”

She’s already gone before Kara can even think of a reply. She turns around to find Sam watching her carefully.

“I’m sorry, Kara,” Sam says, her expression unreadable. “I shouldn’t have done that.” She sounds genuine enough that it surprises Kara that someone like her can apologize so easily.

“No,” Kara shakes her head, in time for Lena to come in easily hefting one of the chairs in the living room. She looks at Lena then makes up her mind. “I should be the one apologizing. I knew you were just pushing my buttons as usual, but I wasn’t able to control myself.” She turns to Kelly and Alex. “I’m really sorry for ruining dinner. You’ve been such gracious hosts and I’ve been nothing but a sulking, moody guest.” She takes a deep, centering breath. “I suppose it’s only right that you know what kind of trouble you have kindly invited into your home.”

Lena takes her place beside Kara and looks at her intently, a reassurance far more powerful than Kara will ever be able to comprehend.

“My name is Kara Zor-El, I was the Heir to throne of Krypton, a princess, and, as Sam has mentioned, a Master Vampire and my father’s Chief Guard. But we’ll circle back to that last part later. It’s not exactly important, to be honest,” Kara starts. She looks at Alex and Kelly who are both looking back at her with curious gazes.

She swallows and even before she could move, Lena’s hand is already on hers. She squeezes it once and continues. “By accident, I learned of my father’s grand design for Krypton, and the world in general. I overheard him speaking with another council member, but I couldn’t be sure who, about a…” Kara glances at Sam, “…prophecy. Apparently, the previous Dreamer told my father that he will only be able to take over the world if all of the vampire clans are under his banner. He was also told that he won’t be able to unite the vampire clans without my powers. As it stands, he only needs one more clan to stand under his banner to complete the set, so to speak.”

Kara clears her throat, unsure how she’s going to continue. She can almost hear their voices, feel her heart hammering in her chest and the familiar feeling of despair simmers just beneath the surface.

“Kara?”

Lena’s voice is soft, unobtrusive, and far too gentle, but it pulls Kara back to the present. “I couldn’t let him do that so I planned to run away. But my father found out. My mother… she…”

Anger, despair, and sadness washes over her and it’s too overwhelming.

“Red…” Lena’s hand, soft and tentative, is on her face, her fingers tracing lines around her eyes.

Kara blinks, looks at Lena and sees no fear, only affection, a kind of dedication and assurance that Lena will always accept her, and it squeezes at her heart.

“My mother,” Kara continues, as she takes Lena’s hand and keeps it close to her chest, “…she sacrificed her life for me. She didn’t even know why. She just… she stood between me and my father and stalled him for as long as she could. When I left the palace, I could no longer hear my mother’s heartbeat.”

There’s a prolonged silence, grim and heavy, that falls around the dinner table. Even Ruby who is too young to understand anything is quiet, looking only at Kelly, who is holding her close.

“Still…” Kara’s voice is almost mechanical when she finally breaks the silence. She needs to at least tell her story as best as she can. “I had to fight my way past guards and nearly died trying to cross the border. I wouldn’t have survived if Lena hadn’t found me. She saved me, and for that, she was marked, scarred, and banished.”

Kara turns to Lena who is looking at her as if she’s willing Kara to feel all her affections. Lena leans in and rests her head on Kara’s shoulders. “Home,” she hears Lena whisper so softly and yet there’s a visceral weight to it. She knows what that word means to Lena.

“He didn’t want to stop with just ruling vampires?” Alex asks.

Kara nods. “He wants to rule over everything.”

“And that, according to the prophecy, isn’t possible without your power…” Kelly concludes, her wide eyes dark and grim.

“So, you’re running as far away as possible so he can’t fulfill the prophecy,” Alex mutters almost to herself.

“But Imra and Gayle… they said they would take you alive or dead,” Sam’s eyes are narrowed.

Kara looks at Sam. “I’m sure you know that higher vampires have powers unique to them. Imra can move things with her mind. Gayle, while being a lower vampire, is an exception. She can read minds but with the nasty side effect of hurting you to the point of death… My father’s power is terrible.”

Kara takes a deep breath. The room has somehow dropped in temperature.

“He can assimilate other vampires’ powers and add it to the others he has taken before… but only as long as they’re dead. So, if he can’t use me alive to further his plans, then he will take my powers, literally.”

“Kara wanted to die in the sun.”

There’s a strange coldness in Lena’s voice when she finally speaks, as if the thought of Kara wanting to die is a betrayal Lena wouldn’t stand for, and yet the warmth and the firmness of her hand in Kara’s speaks multitudes more.

“I—I did. The sun destroys us completely. All that would be left of us will be ashes. It was the only way I could die without him getting my powers. But… But you saved me and for that I’m eternally grateful.”

Silence, long, heavy, and grim falls on the dining room. For a while, everyone seems to be in deep thought… That is until Lena perks up.

“Alpha…” she murmurs before exploding into her wolf form.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Lena is only dimly aware of the ruined wall and broken glasses lying around her. She barely has any space in her head to keep track of the rest of her pack.

Her focus is split into two groups: the approaching scent of an alpha running with a dozen other wolves and two familiar vampires, and Kara.

There’s always going to be space in her mind for Kara.

She feels her muscles tense, her hackles rise, and the low warning growl coming from her chest. In her mind, she knows the pack approaching them won’t heed her warning but she is driven by instinct now, the need to protect Kara and her pack against any and all perceived threats consuming her.

Vaguely, she can hear Kelly asking Kara what’s happening.

“Her brother is coming… with Imra and Gayle, it seems. They must be coming for me then.”

Lena lets out a vicious snarl. No one is taking Kara away. She feels a gentle hand on her and it grounds her for a second.

“Sam, can you take Alex and Kelly away from here, please?” Lena hears Kara say. “You have about two minutes until they arrive.”

“I—I can put up a barrier around our property,” Kelly suggests. “The same one I used on you and Sam.”

Sam makes a noise that Lena can’t quite understand. “It won’t work, Kelly. You exhausted your powers trying to contain Kara alone. The only reason you were able to contain me was because I let you. You don’t have enough powers left to put up a barrier against one vampire, let alone two plus a whole wolf pack.”

“Can you—I don’t know—give her enough power to do it?” Kara asks.

“I can but I don’t think we have enough time. She used a lot of her powers trying to contain you. She’ll need to recover before she can access her powers again.”

Lena glances over to Sam. She’s never heard the Fallen sound so uncertain before. She doesn’t have time to mull on it as her focus is forced back to the incoming alpha as they draw closer.

“Well what do you suggest? Kelly and I can’t outrun a vampire or a wolf,” Alex says and there’s exasperation and despair there.

“Hide them,” Kara says. “You can hide them, right?”

Lena’s not sure what’s happening behind her. But the wolves have split up to surround the property. She feels a pressure behind her, like a rush of power, and suddenly it’s just her and Kara now.

Kara runs her hand through Lena’s fur, scratching and patting until she’s standing beside Lena’s head.

“This time, we’ll fight together,” Kara murmurs. “I’ll show you moves the Hunter can never teach you.”

She glances at Kara whose eyes are red and determined, fangs long and dangerous, as she stands proudly beside her. She couldn’t help the rush of affection that briefly overtakes her. She lowers her head so that Kara can rest hers against it.

They stay this way until they both sense the intruders cross the ranch’s boundaries. The alpha and the two vampires are walking now, unhurried but determined.

As soon as they come into view, however, something shifts in the air.

The vampires are both looking at her and Lena can’t be sure what their expressions mean. They look hesitant, reminding Lena of the times when she thought she’d found something curious in some bush or up a tree and was suddenly unsure of what to do with it. They are wearing the same uniform they wore the last time, but this time, Imra, the shorter vampire, is carrying a pack on her back.

But what really catches her attention is the alpha, in his human form, wearing a thick, long brown coat.

She knows that look. She’s seen it only once, when she was a tiny, tiny pup but she’ll never forget it. It was the same look the alpha had when she was first presented to him.

It isn’t disdain or rejection… but something ominous, like a threat, and the memory has stayed with Lena all these years. She’s forgotten a lot of other things but not that first glance the alpha gave her.

“Lena…” the alpha starts, Lena noting the healthy distance the alpha keeps. She can sense the other wolves circling the ranch, hear them growling, threatening, trying to intimidate her. The alpha clears his throat.

“We’ve come to take the two of you home. We’ve arranged a spot for you in the pack and the princess will be free to go home with her people,” he says with a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

Lena steps forward, her head low, her eyes shifting among the three figures in front of her. She keeps her body between Kara and the intruders, a low rumbling coming off her in waves.

“There’s no threat here, Lena,” the alpha says. “I know you think you’re protecting your mate, but there’s no need for a fight. We can all start our journey home tonight.”

For a second, nobody moves. Lena certainly will not take the first step. Her only goal is to protect Kara and—

“Tell that to your pack,” Kara says.

The alpha laughs. “You can’t blame them. Lena is not really in the mood to talk. They’re just doing their job, making sure I’m safe. As soon as we have all calmed down, they will, too.”

“Just to be clear,” Kara’s voice, Lena notes, is devoid of her usual warmth, “You’re giving Lena a chance to rejoin your pack after you scarred her, in exchange for me going back to Krypton?”

“It sure seems that way,” the alpha nods. “But really, we just want to the two of you to go back to your respective packs. Lena in mine, and your highness in Krypton.”

“But Lena is my pack, my home, my family, as I am hers.”

For a moment, everything else around them disappears and Lena’s focus narrows on this tall, blonde vampire with red eyes, sharp fangs, and a steely, determined look. She feels something inside her twist and gnaw in a most exquisite kind of pain.

Kara may be stubborn, moody, and sulking, but at that moment, Lena truly understands that she is her stubborn, moody, sulking mate.

Lena hears a snap in the distance, a step, one wayward paw straying inside the border and her instinct takes over. She runs towards the sound where a brown wolf blinks, surprised at her sudden appearance. Before the other wolf could even step back, Lena snaps her jaw at the back of his neck and drags him, kicking and snarling all the way to her brother.

She can hear the rest of the wolves surrounding the property growl and snarl impotently, unable to do anything unless their alpha orders them.

“Lena…” the alpha warns, stepping forward. But this just sets Lena off and she tightens her hold, the snarling wolf between her teeth reduced to whimpers and whines. When the alpha doesn’t back down, Lena increases the pressure on her bite further. She can feel the frantic pulse of the wolf in her hold, his kicking and squirming becoming weaker by the second.

“Do it,” the alpha says, taking another step forward. “I know you won’t. You don’t know what it takes to kill, Lena.”

Lena can feel the wolf’s pulse drumming on her teeth. She can sense fear and submission in him. His body is going into self-preservation, shutting down all the fight in him as he settles, his breathing quick and in bursts.

It would be so easy to just snap his neck and end his torment now. It would be such good payback for all the times they’ve tripped her up or made her chores worse than it should be. It feels exhilarating being in control for once.

“You’ve only grown bigger in size, Lena, but you’re still that lonely little outcast, living on the borders of Thorul. You don’t know how to fight. You don’t know how to kill…” the alpha shrugs off his long, brown coat. His bare shoulders exposed in the cold night air. “You’re weak. And before the night ends, you will learn how fragile you are when you become unable to protect your mate—"

Lena snaps. And so does the brown wolf’s neck.

The alpha can threaten Lena. He can call her weak and fragile. But he threatened Kara, and that is unforgiveable.

She sees Kara glance at her as she drops the body of the lifeless wolf. For a second, she’s afraid of what Kara might think. She’s somewhat surprised to find that Kara’s gaze hasn’t changed, the life of that wolf meaning nothing at all.

“Are you okay?” Kara asks, her voice soft. Lena huffs in answer and they both turn to the three people standing in front of them.

“I told you your plan isn’t going to work,” Imra mutters at the alpha. She watches as Imra raises her hand until something stops her.

“Go home, Imra.”

Lena blinks, unsure how Kara even got to where she is now. She certainly did not hear Kara move.

But Kara is there, behind Gayle, one hand wrapped around Gayle’s neck and the other splayed on top of Gayle’s stomach. “Her powers don’t work on me. I could cut her in half so easily and there’s nothing you could do about it. You all need to turn around and never come back.”

“You can’t even kill a human—” Gayle sneers but is immediately cut off when Kara buries her hand in Gayle’s stomach, blood slowly dripping out around Kara’s hand.

“And you’re not human. Not anymore,” Kara says quietly, her eyes focused on Imra. Gayle groans, pain and anger clear in her eyes. She tries to shake Kara off but the more she moves, the more damage Kara’s hand does.

“The demon that saved you isn’t here. You’re about to turn feral again,” Kara’s voice is cold but soft. “And this time, I’ll let you loose on your wife, watch as you rip her to pieces. Unless all of you start walking away and leave us alone.”

“You can do whatever you want with them, I don’t care. You’re still coming back to Krypton with us,” the alpha shrugs, his voice cool and confident, but Lena can see the glance he keeps throwing her way.

“We’re just here to escort you back home,” Imra says but her eyes are shifting from her mate’s stomach to her mate’s eyes.

“Dead or alive, right?” Kara’s fangs gleam in the moonlight. “Haven’t you ever wondered why, Imra?”

Imra’s eyes briefly glance at Kara before returning to her mate. “It’s nothing personal, your highness. I’m just following orders.”

“And I’m just saving myself and my mate,” Kara says. Lena sees her arm twitch and Gayle lets out a pained roar. “So, what will it be, Imra? Will you sacrifice your wife to follow orders?”

Imra’s eyes harden. “You seem to be laboring under the assumption that you have the upper hand here.” She waves her hand around. “You are surrounded, your highness. If you kill my wife, the wolves will kill yours.”

“Enough,” the alpha drawls and he snaps his fingers.

Lena barely hears it, however, as her focus turns to the eleven other wolves that are barreling towards her. She vaguely hears Kara calling to her but it too is drowned by the sounds of snapping and snarling as they surround Lena.

They attack in batches of two or three, making sure never to give Lena or Kara time to recover enough to return the attack. Lena narrowly avoids their teeth and claws but there’s just too many of them.

She feels a nip on her hind leg and a slash on her back. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Kara fending some off, but she too is overwhelmed. She’s fighting not just the wolves but also Imra whose arms are raised, her powers literally throwing everything at Kara, including the wolves, and ripping off parts of the house and hurling them at Kara, too.

There’s too much going on. Lena’s senses are overwhelmed until she hears the distinctive clap of Alex’s hands. She can almost hear Alex say “Again.”

Her senses home in on that one sound for a moment. The field clears and it’s just Alex and Lena now, with Lena doing her best to avoid Alex’s attacks.

Alex is relentless and overwhelming and she never gives Lena a chance either. She teaches her what to do once and it’s up to Lena to learn it, to keep painfully failing and failing until she gets it right once and then never, ever make the same mistakes again. Unless she wants to get beaten to a pulp, which Alex is more than capable of when they’re training.

But Alex is also fair. She understands that Lena learns better by doing and not by being told what to do. She offers a bit of advice here and there but for the most part leaves Lena alone to figure things out for herself…and to figure it out fast because as Alex keeps telling her, she can only make a mistake once. Second time means death.

Another clap and Lena’s eyes train to the nearest wolf. No second chances.

She’s been trying to avoid them. But Lena is faster and stronger now. She knows this. So, she turns around and instead of avoiding the next batch of wolves coming at her, she faces them head on. She snarls, digs her heels in, and catches the closest one midbite. She clamps her jaw around his upper mouth and uses his momentum to throw him down quickly before he can bite back. She feels that satisfying crunch of something fracturing in his snout and he whines loudly.

Two others rush towards her and she pushes off, letting them chase her.

Lena has the speed advantage. She also knows the lay of this land better than the wolves. She turns towards the farmland, knowing she will have a distinct disadvantage there.

For one, that land is dry, cracked, and pockmarked with so many holes and craters it could hardly be called a farmland. She watches as some of them trip. Instead of their initial group attacks, the unfamiliar terrain forces them to attack one by one where Lena is better able to deal with them.

She disposes of the first two attackers with a sharp and hard swipe to their necks. The third one, she manages to catch midfall with a bite to his hindlegs. Lena doesn’t give him a chance either. Before he can try to squirm out of her hold, Lena rips it off. He howls but Lena knows he’s out of the fight…permanently. She turns to the four others who are now surrounding her in a tightening circle.

She lowers her head, her eyes carefully watching the surrounding wolves. She can feel their muscles tensing, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. She chances a glance at Kara but she doesn’t have time to really think about what she’s seeing, only that by instinct, she knows this is normal, that her mate is okay.

Kara is covered in so much blood that if not for the fact that she is moving like poetry, like a song Lena is eerily familiar with but has never heard of, she’d think Kara was injured.

The four other wolves that had stayed behind to fight Kara are now all dead, which is the kindest way to describe it. Kara has, as far as Lena can see, ripped them to pieces, their parts scattered around her, and is now concentrating on Imra, their movements faster than Lena had ever seen.

A step in her peripheral and Lena’s focus snaps back to the circling wolves. She blinks, forcing herself to concentrate. Kara is strong. Kara is fine.

She tenses when the wolves stop moving, but instead of attacking, they back off, their eyes still trained on her, their muscles just as tense and ready. In their place, the alpha in his wolf form walks in.

Once, Lena looked to him in awe, now she’s looking at him with a careful, calculating gaze.

He doesn’t mind Lena, at first, but snarls at the four other wolves. They immediately run back towards where Lena knows Kara is and everything in Lena wants to chase them. ‘Kara is strong. Kara is fine,’ she repeats over and over in her mind.

Because the alpha is there, and even though his eyes are not on her, Lena knows, by instinct, that the alpha senses her movements. So, she fights her every instinct and stays.

He strides calmly towards the limping, whining wolf, and without a thought, slashes his neck open, leaving him to bleed out.

It might seem brutal, but Lena understands. This is kindness.

And now the alpha turns his attention towards her. He bows his head in challenge and a sudden comprehension dawns on Lena.

It’s a trap.

There are only two ways this fight would end.

Lena will lose. He won’t kill her. Not at first. The alpha would use her to force Kara to go back to Krypton. Once that’s done, Lena knows she’ll be dead.

But in the unlikely scenario that Lena defeats the alpha, Lena would be compelled by her instincts, forced to go back to Thorul to take her place as the alpha. And Kara will come with her, bound by their mating mark…and be that much closer to Krypton.

Krypton will take her mate and Lena, to save Kara, will rally the wolves, but that would ultimately be irresponsible. She may be the alpha, but she won’t be able to command them as well as she wants to. Their bonds haven’t been reinforced and it would spell certain doom to the wolves of Thorul.

Despite herself, the trap actually impresses her… which makes her equally annoyed.

 

 

 

Kara is losing it.

From the state of the bodies around her, she knows she’s barely hanging on.

She’s done reasonably well controlling herself over the last few minutes, but the longer this fight with Imra lasts—because let’s face it, everything else around her and Imra are collateral damage—the less in-control Kara feels.

Normally, and if she were in Krypton, fighting under her father’s name, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. But here and now, where her mate is focused on her own fight against her brother, Kara cannot risk losing it.

She hears the crack of a concrete slab being lifted from the house and she braces herself, ready to accept the damage. It won’t be enough to knock her out and the slight pain should knock back some sense into her.

She’s worked with Imra enough to know that the slab is just a distraction. As soon as it hits Kara, two more wolves jump at her. Kara sidesteps the wolves, kicking one in the ribs, and punching the other in the snout. She feels the crunch of their bones and revels in it, a smirk threatening at the edges of her lips.

No.

She shakes her head and refocuses on Imra.

“You’re running out of wolves, Imra,” Kara says, kicking aside the whimpering wolf at her feet. She gestures to Gayle. “Your wife is running out of time.”

Something is bubbling deep inside her and the world is turning a deeper shade of red every minute.

“And I’m running out of patience,” she mutters, knowing Imra will hear it.

“Fine then,” Imra shrugs. She drops another concrete slab and reaches for the bag behind her. “Whether you like it or not, you’re still our princess, and I still have a job to do. Out of respect for you and your title, I really hoped I didn’t have to use this. But you’re right…”

Kara sees Imra glance at her wife who is gasping on the floor. At the back of her mind, she knows Gayle is biding her time, slowly healing. But that is inconsequential. Kara has pushed Imra to a point and they both know their fight is about to be over in the next few minutes.

Imra kneels on the ground and neatly lays out several lead-lined boxes before she stands up and looks at Kara. “I’ve seen you fight. I have no doubt you are stronger and faster than any vampire I have ever seen. But your power, your strength, your speed means nothing…”

Imra puts her palms up and the boxes all simultaneously open with a click. From the boxes come out hundreds of slim, glowing green bolts. Oh.

“Kryptonite bolts,” Imra says, confirming Kara’s thoughts. “I’m one of the few people allowed to carry weaponized Kryptonite, and it’s only supposed to be used for special occasions. This can be considered a special occasion, right?”

The bolts, their pointy edges aimed at Kara, hover menacingly above her. She spares a glance at Lena. She sees her and her brother exchanging heavy swipes but neither is making much headway.

She hears something whistle through the air and she turns her attention back to Imra in time to see a few of the bolts fly towards her.

She avoids them easily enough. There’s a dull thud behind her and she knows that the bolts have hit the ground. When she turns back, however, the bolts have already dislodged themselves and are now returning to Imra.

“You’re fast. But let’s test your agility,” Imra says, her eyes betraying nothing. Two separate batches of bolts come at her from different directions and with just a slight delay. Kara avoids the first batch, then turns sharply to avoid the second.

To Kara’s horror, however, Imra’s bolts keeps coming at her from different directions, so that even with Kara’s speed and agility, the best she can do is keep turning to avoid them. And try as Kara might, she can’t get close enough to Imra to disrupt her control of the bolts.

“I’m getting bored,” Imra drawls. “Let’s get this over with, your highness,” Imra says and Kara grits her teeth as she watches any remaining warmth on Imra’s face fade. Her expression turns hard as her eyes turn red. There are thin veins around her eyes and her fangs grow longer, sharper. She blinks at Kara and the bolts stop flying.

For a second.

And then they fly again.

The bolts are coming at her impossibly faster and relentless this time. It seems like they’re raining down on her now. But whereas before, Imra controls them in batches, this time, it’s almost as if every individual bolt has a mind of its own. Hundreds of them surround and swarm Kara, all coming from different directions.

Even if Kara can manage to avoid every single bolt, proximity to the Kryptonite alone is already affecting her. She can feel the graze and the bruises. She’s pretty sure she’s got a few bolts already stuck in her and it’s not helping her severely frayed self-control.

But she cannot lose it now. She needs to hold on. There’s a way out of this. There’s always a way out of this. She only needs a moment of hesitation on Imra, a distraction.

And almost as if the universe is listening, it comes from an unexpected source.

 

 

 

Lena is getting tired.

She’s bruised and battered. She’s bleeding and she suspects there’s some teeth lodged in her skin. She can’t take stock of her injuries now, can’t get distracted.

Not when the alpha is bearing down on her with heavy swipes and sharp fangs.

She’s at least proud of herself for surviving this long in a fight against an alpha. She knows there’s not a chance in the world she’s going to win, even with Alex’s instructions. The alpha has experience on his side while Lena barely has any.

But, to her credit, she can also see the alpha’s breathing is somewhat labored. If anything happens to her, at least she knows she fought well. Kara should be proud of her…

She chances a glance at her mate and her stomach nearly drops.

Kara is in the middle of a swarm of green glowing needles. Lena can see she’s avoiding most of them but there’s just too many for her to avoid all of it. She recognizes the green glow from before.

It was the same kind that they had used to shackle her mate in Sam’s house.

She looks at the green swarm and sees Imra, a bit to the left.

Even at a distance, Lena knows there’s something different about her, something more sinister, more powerful.

She hears Kara hiss and watches as a couple of bolts embed themselves in her thigh and leg.

Without a second thought, Lena quickly swerves to another direction, one that leads her straight towards Imra but also towards the alpha. She tries to run past him but the alpha catches her with a powerful swipe that lands on her side. It pushes her violently to the side and she rolls a few times, finally landing painfully on her side.

Frantic, she checks on Kara again.

She sees two more bolts hit Kara and her mate is on her knees, rolling and dodging to avoid the rest of the needles.

Lena forgets the pain, forgets the twisting sensation on her sides. She disregards the whiny complaints of her muscles and pushes herself to stand and run faster than she’s ever run, with no thoughts on how she’ll stop.

She has only one goal now.

She feels a bite on her hind leg and, with adrenaline coursing through her, she kicks the alpha with her other feet and continues to run towards Imra, every step she makes screaming at her.

She sees Imra glance at her and smirk as a few bolts turn toward her. She knows she can’t swerve or stop. She’s already on a full dash and there’s little that could stop her now. She disregards the bolts, feels them lodge at her back, and with the last of her strength, Lena jumps, taking Imra down with her.

She feels another bite at the back of her neck before something shatters nearby with a loud roar.

 

 

 

 

 

Kara sees it almost in slow motion.

One moment, she’s looking for a distraction, the next she’s sees Lena barreling down towards Imra, shrugging off the fact that she just got stabbed with bolts, seemingly oblivious to her brother close behind her. Kara watches as Lena jumps and collides with Imra. She sees Lena’s brother finally catching up and he sinks his teeth in her neck.

And Kara finally, finally loses it.

The world turns a deep red and she feels power, overwhelming, run through her veins.

She hears herself roar, a loud, dominant, sound. She feels the bolts embedded in her drop to the dusty ground. But soon everything narrows to a single point… Lena’s heartbeat.

It’s irregular, harried, and in so much stress that Kara’s thoughts dissolve only to be replaced by this need to destroy everything that may threaten Lena.

And she does.

Starting with the wolf that’s hurting her mate.

In less than a blink of an eye, she’s behind the large wolf. She slams her hand down the wolf’s spine, causing him to break his hold on Lena. She effortlessly pulls the wolf, about twice as tall as her, off her mate, drags him by the tail before hurling him. She watches as he goes through the barn and exit the other side, destroying everything in the way.

Next, the vampire with the bolts…and her wife.

She stalks towards the vampire who is struggling to free herself from the weight of Kara’s mate. By the time she’s able to wriggle out, Kara’s already beside her, two hands wrapped around the vampire’s neck.

It is a simple thing to squeeze just a bit tighter. She can hear her choking, but the sound is not as loud as Lena’s labored breaths and frantic heartbeat. She lifts the vampire off her feet and sees the vampire’s wife run to her. She swats the wife away with a wave of her right hand, her forearm connecting with the woman’s chest, and watches with deep satisfaction as she goes sailing past the now ruined house and land on a few wolf carcasses.

She feels a few feeble attempts from some of the bolts as they fly towards her only to bounce off her skin like harmless sticks. She laughs, full and loud. She relishes the intoxicating power that courses through, that sings through her veins.

She delights as terror floods the vampire’s face before she slams her, face first, down to the dry, cracked ground. She picks her up and repeats the entire thing again and again until the vampire loses consciousness, her face broken and bloody. She throws her away, a useless, bloody pulp.

It isn’t so enjoyable, after all, if they can’t fight back.

And only then does she turn her attention to the four observers, one of them human, hidden with a spell or some sort of cloaking device. Kara can hear them though. She can hear their hearts beating. She can almost feel the rush of blood in their system…and she hasn’t had human blood in so long.

Her mouth waters and lets out a snarl.

To her delight, the human’s heartbeat goes faster.

She hears a rush of wings and she blindly reaches forward, grasping something soft and feathery. The invisibility spell they had surrounded themselves with shatters and Kara smiles at their expressions. Before the demon can move, Kara pulls the dark, feathery thing towards her, pulls her knee up and lets the demon’s torso slam on her knee before she sends it flying with a roundhouse kick to its face.

She turns to the remaining three. A demon spawn, a witch and a human. She stretches her hand towards them.

She hears something crumble and crack and it takes her a second to realize that vines have shot up from the ground, momentarily halting her hand’s progress. A thousand voices are screaming at her, all ancient, all dead. She turns to the witch, her smile growing ever wider, shrugs off the vines and reaches out her hand towards the witch.

She had meant to snap her neck, the long, fragile thing.

Instead, her hand meets something warm and soft… a slender, pale neck with a prominent bite mark.

“Red…” the voice says, soft and gentle, but louder, more resonant than any of the thousand angry voices around her.

“Red,” the voice repeats.

She feels a hand on her cheeks and she blinks. In front of her is the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen. Naked and pale like moonlight, soft as clouds, warm like how she imagines the sun would feel on her face, bloody, bruised, broken and yet…

And yet, in her scarred silver green eyes Kara finds something she didn’t know she was looking for. Something in her aches, almost bittersweet. Her chest burns and twists but it’s a good kind of pain. Kara realizes this is the first time she’s felt something since…

She blinks again and the vision in front of her is closer. So close, she can map out all the silver flecks in her eyes, glinting in the pale moonlight. So close, she can feel warm breath on her lips. So close, and still not close enough.

So Kara closes that distance and seals their lips together. The thirst that burns idly in her throat roars suddenly, bright and burning like a furnace and Kara has to have more, needs to have more. Her arms tighten around the vision’s hips and she growls, possessive and claiming.

Mine! Mine! Mine!

Her mind is blank now save for that one thought. She is overtaken by this need to claim, to stake her mark, to let the world know that this creature is hers and hers alone…

And that Kara is hers entirely.

She lifts the vision up, careful to avoid any of her myriad wounds and in a blink, they’re both gone.

 

 

 

 

Alex lets out a rush of breath. She knows she’s shaking and she clenches her fist, willing herself to calm down.

She turns to her wife who is also staring at her, pale and shaking, a confused Ruby in her arms looking around for her mother.

They know they just narrowly avoided being slaughtered by a god.

“Well, that was something,” Sam says as she lands behind them, holding one of the vampires by her ankles. Alex sees Ruby squirm out of Kelly’s hold and totter over to her mother.

“Hello,” Sam mutters to her daughter, sweet and carefree, as if she wasn’t aware of the carnage around them, as if Kara hadn’t just kneed her and sent her flying with a kick to her face that sounded like thunderclap.

Sam drops the gasping vampire and picks Ruby up. Once Ruby is secure in her arms, she turns to the vampire coughing on the ground.

“I distinctly remember warning your wife that I will have no kindness to spare the next time you bothered us,” Sam says, her menacing glare offset by the tender way Ruby looks at her. “And yet, here you are.”

Alex watches as the vampire glares but says nothing. She’s not in any state to stand or move. The leg that Sam had been holding looks crushed. Alex can see an open, gaping wound where her stomach should be, and bits of wood and stone are lodged in her skin.

“Friends of yours?” Alex asks Sam who smiles at the vampire, the curl of her lips anything but comforting or kind.

“They would’ve been,” Sam says, she looks around. “Now it seems, we have some cleaning up to do.”

Alex does the same, surveying the carnage around them. The barn is barely standing. The house in pieces around them. There are wolf parts scattered everywhere, the dry, parched land, drinking their blood.

“Your kids, your problem,” she hears Kelly mutter with a smirk beside her.

Alex raises a brow. “Oh, so when they make a mess, suddenly they’re my kids.”

“You taught the wolf how to fight—”

“In her human form!” Alex injects, waving her hand in protest.

“—which left her vampire mate seething, jealous and angry. Something’s bound to break, babe,” Kelly shrugs, a flick of her hand producing a shovel which she hands to her wife.

“And she did, indeed, break marvelously,” Sam says nodding sagely.

“Unbelievable…” Alex mutters.

“Well, maybe next time, you should teach your kids to clean up after themselves,” Kelly laughs, then winces as she tries to lift her arms.

“Babe?” Alex drops the shovel and is immediately by her wife’s side, concern painting her face.

“I’m fine. I’m fine,” Kelly says, waving her hand as if to assure her worried wife.. “Just exhausted. I haven’t used that much power in so long.”

 “Are you sure?” Alex asks, cupping Kelly’s face. Kelly nods and smiles.

“I’m sure. Just need a nap. Or a full day’s sleep.” She yawns. “Can I leave the clean-up to you three?” She looks at Sam, Alex, and Ruby.

“I don’t know if Ruby’s going to be much use. But sure,” Alex says.

“I’ll look for the children after we’re done here,” Sam adds.

 

 

 

 

It’s faint, Andrea thinks. But distinct. The scent of power Andrea knows all too well. Its smell, its taste still lingering in Andrea’s memory.

She had tried not to get more people involved in this.  She had stopped the messenger from sending more vampires. But it seems that whoever their quarry is, they’re determined to bring them back. And now they’ve even involved the wolves.

But her talk with the prophet in Metropolis was productive. The fact that prophet knew Andrea was looking for another celestial was telling enough but their conversation afterwards gave her at least a general direction.

Midvale.

She sighs.

Why? Why must she always be in the middle of some war or a great upheaval?

It seems like trouble, the world-shattering kind, always finds its way to her.

But really, the only question Andrea wants answered is this:

Why is she hiding from me?

She sighs…then stills.

Something powerful, too powerful, is coming her way.

Curious, she lets her presence dissolve into nothing and watches as something too fast for her bound senses to discern, barrels past her.

Andrea smirks.

Now who could have possibly designed something that powerful?

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Lena blinks awake.

She’s not sure how long she’s been asleep or how she even fell asleep. All she remembers is summoning her last energy into an effort of sheer will and taking her human form. Most of what happened after that is a blur.

But now, she’s fairly sure she’s in her wolf again.

She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath… which was a big mistake. Suddenly, every fiber of her being is screaming for her to stop even the slightest movement. She can hear herself whining loudly, the echoes bouncing so that it feels like there’s hundreds of Lenas screaming. But she can’t stop. It hurts. Everything hurts. She squeezes her eyes shut tighter as she howls and whines, but no relief comes.

Something bright flashes and for a second, the pain blurs into something else, and she can hear voices echoing, distant but familiar… a memory. Distinctly, disturbingly not Kara’s.

“You have to help her.”

“Why?”

“She’s dying. Please.”

“Everyone dies.”

“Please.”

Another flash and the world goes dark, the pain never receding—but not before she sees hungry, hungry, red eyes in the darkness, staring at her.

 

 

 

 

There was a time when Kal-El thought the world of his uncle.

Even now, as they stand in his modest library, a room filled with shelves of books and with no furniture other than a simple chair and table, Kal understands why his younger self would think that way.

His uncle is practical, never one for vanity or show. His austere private quarters and his simple robes are a testament to that. If it were up to him, the palace wouldn’t even exist. But he is also proud and ambitious.

And paranoid.

He sits on a wooden chair, back straight, red eyes flashing, his table laden with open books, scrawling text marring the pages. His hands are crusted with ink and blood.

Beside him, a couple of thralls are dragging drained bodies away while another one is on his knees scrubbing the floor clean. Their eyes are vacant, their skin pale, their bodies worked to little more than sinew and flesh. Kal-El wonders how long they’ve been enthralled. Decades probably.

“My daughter is still missing. We have two council members unaccounted for.”

Kal can’t quite remember when he last heard his uncle’s voice. Now, rather than speaking, he invades people’s minds and injects his words that way. It echoes and reverberates into Kal’s thoughts. It’s inescapable and is distinctly… him.

However disturbing, the voice in his head lacks inflection. It conveys no emotions, but it doesn’t need to. The gravity of his words is enough.

This power used to be someone else’s--a young vampire from another clan accused of crimes against Krypton who testified before his uncle and the Council without opening his mouth. It was a convenient power, after all. Still, it never really sat well with him, his uncle’s practice of taking other people’s power for himself. But ‘Waste not, want not’ Kal supposed.

“We have sent—” Kal begins, but the voice in his head is like a hammer.

“Your best, I know. It’s not enough.”

Mon-El clears his throat. “If I may interrupt,” he says carefully, looking at everyone in the room. When no one objects, he continues. “Do we know why my fiancée ran away? I’m still not clear as to the events leading up to her leaving.”

Kal looks at his uncle, who doesn’t even spare a glance at his future son-in-law. He wonders if now is the right time to inform his uncle about Kara’s mate. He considers for a moment the inevitable look of horror on Mon-El’s face. It’s almost tempting.

“In my presence you will use the proper titles when referring to my daughter. I don’t care that you are betrothed. I could easily revoke that. Do not tempt me.”

The lack of inflection does not take away its bite, and it takes most of Kal’s discipline not to smirk.

“Apologies, your majesty. I did not mean to offend. But my question still stands. Her royal highness wouldn’t just leave without reason. She wouldn’t needlessly harm our guards as well,” Mon-El reasons and quietly, Kal agrees.

Though he wishes now that he had spent more time with her, he knows Kara well enough. She is a lot of things, but she is not impulsive. And by the looks of the injuries the guards who tried to stop her sustained, she wasn’t trying to kill them either.

“My daughter’s reasons, selfish though they may be, are her own. When she’s brought back, she will stand trial for the attempted murder of her mother and grievous injuries to our guards. Perhaps we will discover her reasons then.”

Kal clenches his fist, willing himself to be still, not to react. Despite that, he feels unsteady, his recently healed wounds suddenly itching. He remembers how desperately Kara tried to fight. He can still hear her begging him to just let her go. There was fear and sadness as Kara’s eyes turned red, and Kal understood that he was about to be in trouble.

But Kal has a job. He had his orders.

He could see the hesitance when Kara gave him that near fatal blow. Even now, he thinks that if Kara wasn’t so intent on running away instead of fighting, he would be dead. Everyone who chased her would be dead.

Most important, however, is that Kara is the last person Kal would accuse of hurting, let alone attempting to murder, her own mother. It just doesn’t make sense.

“But what is most essential is that she be returned home. Time is running short.”

“Your majesty, forgive my ignorance, but I wasn’t aware that we are on a deadline,” Kal says. He tries his best to keep his tone even and his brows from knitting together.

There’s silence and Kal chances a glance at Mon-El and Morgan Edge, both of whom are determinedly staring ahead.

“Which is why I summoned my council today. Imagine my disappointment when I found that in addition to my daughter, two council members are missing.”

Nobody moves. Nobody answers.

His uncle stands and walks to the farthest shelf to his left, pulls out an unmarked book, one of many similar-looking ones, and shuffles it open.

“I did not set out to unite all vampires under one rule for my whim. It did not start out as a fleeting fancy...This was something given to my father.”

His uncle bows his head and begins reading from the book. “’His son would unite all vampires under one banner—save for one clan. The last would be conquered with the help of the son’s daughter at the dawn of his time.”

He closes the book reverently before tracking his gaze back to the three council members standing before him. “…and my dawn is coming, the light heralding my end. I can feel it in my bones. There is barely anyone or anything, save for the elves, that is as old as I am.”

“Did the prophecy state what would happen if we were not united before your majesty departs?” Kal asks.

“Nothing specific…but my father was not known for his note keeping.” His uncle scratches his chin. “I doubt we would be given a deadline if the consequences weren’t unpleasant.”

Morgan Edge nods smartly. “Then we shall double—no, triple—our efforts. Her royal highness will be returned to us and we shall finally be united as the prophecy has foretold.”

His uncle does not regard Edge. He walks to the shelf and carefully returns the book to its place.

“How are our armies?”

“Fully-armed and ready as always,” Kal answers without hesitation. Five thousand high vampires, twice that for lower vampires, and a nearly unending supply of thralls, all ready at a moment’s notice.

“Good. We will need them.”

Kal hesitates, but perhaps now is the best time to ask. “As you know, we have no intel on the last clan, your majesty. And despite our best efforts, they continually evade our spies. I hesitate to ask, but it is my duty to make sure that our numbers are sufficient. Without this information, there is no way to know if we are truly ready to face the last clan, not to discount Princess Kara’s help, of course.”

Silence. Then, “‘Their powers are vast. And they shall remain hidden until the council finds them, and the final battle to unite our kind will begin.’ This is all according to the previous Dreamer.”

“But why did we minimize the effort of looking for them?” His uncle, when Kara was still little, had ordered to pull back on finding the last clan. But Kal never stopped. Even now, he has more spies looking for them than he is comfortable admitting.

“Because they will be found when it’s time. And regardless of their numbers or powers, they will be defeated by me and my daughter.”

Kal nods. It doesn’t necessarily mean he agrees. But Kal is a soldier through and through, and he was not given the might of the armies of Krypton just so he can be complacent. While he understands the importance of these prophecies, he puts greater faith in his men.

“Find my daughter and our council members. Bring them home. Preferably alive.”

There is finality there and without being told, they know they are being dismissed. As one, all three council members bow and turn to leave.

There was a time when Kal-El thought the world of his uncle. But that time has long since passed.

 

 

 

 

Kal is unsettled even as he reaches the privacy of his office.

He takes off his jacket—black, heavy and utilitarian with straps—and hangs it neatly inside a small closet, before walking towards a shelf that holds nothing but a framed painting of his parents. It was a gift Kal had commissioned for their anniversary. They stopped counting the years long ago but still celebrated every year.

Not long after that, his father died in the service of Krypton. His mother followed soon after. Kara’s mother believed she died of a broken heart. “He was her soulmate, after all,” she had said quietly.

“Is uncle your soulmate too?” Kal had asked as they held vigil over his mother’s body, waiting for the sun and the earth to reclaim what is theirs. They were at the very edge of the dome that protected the vampires of Krypton from the sun. He was kneeling while she stood. Everyone else had left a long time ago.

When she didn’t answer, Kal had looked up to her and found her staring into the distance. “Of course,” she had muttered.

In the painting, his father is standing tall and proud behind his mother who is seated on a couch. Kara once commented how she looked like she would punch the person who told her she does not, in fact, own that couch. Kal agreed.

He stares at them now and remembers how happy and content they were. Those were simpler times.

“Guide me,” he mutters. He wavers, hesitates a bit before he walks back to his chair and sinks into it, sighing.

Ever since Kara left, he had felt a nagging at the back of his mind, a sense that he’s missing key details, that there are things he’s overlooked, or hasn’t considered yet.

But there’s not much use getting lost pondering …

There’s a knock on his door. It’s a formality. Everyone knows his office is always open. “Here are the reports on the northern…”

… He has a job to do.

 

 

 

 

Veronica Sinclair never considered herself ambitious. Not in the way people typically define ambition, at least.

She wants power, of course. Who doesn’t? But power can take on many forms.

When she was offered a seat on the Dark Council, she understood that it conveyed power, authority. But more than that, she knew that it was going to be a responsibility, more than anything else, with most of the general rulings for Krypton originating with them.

King Zor-El, after all, is not a politician. He is a conqueror, a warrior, possibly a tyrant, and if she truly believes the words of the Dreamer, the herald of the end of the world.

But Veronica Sinclair only wants power so long as she can hide in it. She likes being on the Dark Council because, technically, the power resides in the council.

The crowd adores her fighters and champions and the power she wields there is absolute but invisible. People know her by name. The right people know her reputation.

And that’s about all that Veronica Sinclair wants, the power she craves: to wield the silent tendrils of fate that seats or unseats monarchs. Her power is in the shadows, invisible, effective, and nigh unstoppable.

So when the Dreamer explained her visions and her plans, it satisfied two of Veronica’s basest needs: her desire for influence over the ruling power, and the opportunity to watch what promises to be a damn good fight.

For now, she has the scholar and the Dreamer to keep her entertained.

 

 

 

 

“We’re going back,” Brainy says adamantly. He is standing in front of a small firepit created by a thrall they picked up along the way. The vampires are flanking Lady Nal, seated on a fallen log under the cloudless evening sky as they all stare at Brainy, who is close to losing either his lunch or his mind, possibly both.

They are a couple of weeks’ travel from Metropolis, a few more days away from their destination, surrounded by a forest so thick, there’s hardly any sunlight that penetrates the canopy, making it safe for the vampires to travel in the morning. When they managed to find a break in the thick canopy, the travelling party decided to rest, the night sky serving as a backdrop.

And Brainy is just now learning some rather important details that should have come up before they left.

“I just facilitated the kidnapping of the Dreamer!” he adds, as if this would actually change the mind of the three women who are looking at him with varying degrees of amusement.

“All this time, I honestly thought you knew,” the Dreamer says, her eyes an infuriating mix of confused and utterly entertained. “I thought the fact that you kept referring to me by name was endearing… sweet, even.”

“How did you not figure this out?” Lady Grant asks, a delicate eyebrow raised, a hint of a smile on the corner of her lips. “You know her residence. You literally fetched her from her quarters several times.”

“Are you not supposed to know everything about the workings of Metropolis and the Ivory Tower?” Lady Sinclair piles on, her curious look for several weeks now finally making sense.

“The previous Dreamer slept somewhere else!” Brainy can hear his own voice rising against the sounds of evening creatures. “Higher up! It’s always been that way!”

He paces, still unable to believe everything. He pauses as an errant thought enters his mind. “You’re the Dreamer.” Lady Nal nods but it wasn’t really a question. “You knew I wouldn’t know and you just—”

“Contrary to what you might be inferring,” Lady Nal cuts him off. “I don’t actually know everything. I see things in pieces and try to interpret them as best as I can.” She shrugs and for a moment, Brainy can almost see the weight on her shoulders. Her voice goes quiet. “It’s not always complete and I have learned that not all things are worth knowing in advance.”

“But you knew I would help you?”

Lady Nal has a fond look on her face, her eyes suddenly becoming distant. “I didn’t. Or at least I didn’t see it in my visions. The previous Dreamer did.”

“He knew I would let you out?”

Lady Nal nods. “It was a long time ago. I was trying to get out of Metropolis for maybe the same reasons, maybe not. One of the scholars in the library was instructed by the previous Dreamer to tell me that if I ever need a way out of Metropolis, I should look for you.”

“I would think he was referring to your mission before?”

Lady Nal shrugs. “That’s the beauty of it. You’re never really sure. We see fragments and interpret it against the current events. But these visions don’t always mean they’re happening soon or now. The timeline is what makes it tricky, I guess…”

“I just…” Brainy falters. “Are you saying this was all meant to be?”

Another shrug. “I’m saying someone told me once that you could help. And you did. I didn’t think you would come along, but you did…” Pause, then softer, “I’m glad you did.”

Brainy swears he hears the faintest, briefest laugh coming from the two vampires flanking the Dreamer.

 

 

 

 

The sun is hot and high and Alex Danvers, once a notorious Hunter, famed and feared by witches far and wide, is now picking through the remains of what used to be their home. Instead of a sword and a bow, she’s now holding an axe and constantly looking to her right for Ruby who is unusually subdued for an infant and is just sitting there on the ground, amidst the rubble, staring at Alex.

Kelly is passed out in the basement, the only part of their house that survived while Sam left “to chase the children, and possibly get you and Kelly something to eat”, leaving Alex with Ruby.

Meanwhile, their prisoners are hidden in a hastily created shed, shielding the vampires from the sun, bound by Sam’s power and unable to say or do anything other than glare at Alex as she walks by.

“You’re really going to be Aunt Alex’s good girl and just sit there?” Alex asks Ruby as she stands straight, placing her axe carefully on the ground, away from Ruby, and stretching her back. Ruby doesn’t react beyond tilting her head, her eyes tracking Alex’s movements. Alex sighs.

“I don’t even know if I want to fix the house at this point. We’ve made such a wreck, and the wolves are sure to come back with their entire pack, regardless of what we do with their alpha,” Alex says, picking up her axe again and swinging it down towards what used to be part of their living room wall. The wood cracks and Alex thinks it needs a few more swings to completely tear it down. “I don’t know where we’re going, after this.”

She looks at Ruby who is still staring at her. “I want to settle down, you know? Take your Aunt Kelly somewhere nice. But I still want to work the land so we’ll always have food on the table.”

“That sounds lovely.”

A voice startles Alex from her one-sided conversation and for a stupid second, she thinks it’s Ruby. She glances at the demon spawn and finds her staring, her liquid eyes stirring, glinting, at something just behind Alex’s shoulders. She quickly turns to find a tall woman, slender, pale, with chestnut hair and cold, blue eyes.

Alex, without thinking, steps in front of Ruby, hiding her from the woman, her grip on the axe tightening. She squares her shoulders and juts out her jaw.

The woman smiles and Alex thinks there’s something eerily familiar to her smile. “Apologies. I didn’t mean to startle you. I was just passing by and I heard you talking with your niece.”

“And you thought you could just sneak up behind me?” Alex asks.

“Not at all,” the woman says with a slight shake of her head, her smile unwavering. “I did try and call you once but you were too engrossed with your…” The woman pointedly looks around. “…task. You might not have heard me.”

Alex stutters for a second, glancing at the ruins behind her and then at Ruby before she turns back to the woman. “So, how can I help you?”

The woman looks at Alex, then around her again before speaking. “I am looking for a mother and a child. Last I heard, they were travelling together with a wolf and a vampire. I don’t care for the latter. I have only come for the former.”

Alex shrugs, doing her best to try and act nonchalant, but inside, her heart is hammering. She feels a cold sweat run down her spine.

“I don’t recall seeing anything like that,” Alex says, her voice steady despite the frantic pace in her ribcage.

The woman considers her answer for a moment, glances around again and with a nod, she says, “That’s unfortunate. But I would like to offer my help, nonetheless.”

Help? Alex frowns, her suspicion growing. “I’d appreciate it, but I don’t make a habit of accepting offers from strangers.”

“Andrea,” the woman says, holding out her hand then taking it back when it becomes obvious that Alex isn’t going to take it. “Now that you know my name, I’d like to help you rebuild your house. At no cost, of course.”

“My wife is a witch,” Alex starts, glancing behind her to check on Ruby who is playing with some rocks. She turns back to the woman. “And if there’s one thing I learned from her, it’s that everything has a cost.”

The woman laughs, high and lilting. “I misspoke,” she waves her hand. “Of course, there’s a cost. I will use my powers, after all. But I should have said that it will have no cost to you.”

“Again, my wife is a witch. I’ve been around Faes long enough not to trust free meals.”

Andrea tilts her head. “Your wife has made a wise woman out of you. But I am no Fae.”

“Then what are you?”

“I believe I am what humans generally refer to as an angel.”

Alex scoffs. Figures. “What is a celestial doing here?”

Alex watches as the immortal quirks a delicate eyebrow. “Celestial? I see.” The smile on the angel glints dangerously, almost the same way Sam’s eyes dance. “And what do you know of celestials?”

Alex pauses. “Enough to know not to tangle with your kind.”

Andrea hums appreciatively, her head nodding. “Again, wise choice. But my offer still stands. I have no quarrel with you and fixing your house is a simple hand wave, a manifestation of my will, if you must.”

Alex looks at Andrea and begins weighing her choices.

“You say you want to help me for free?”

“Yes.”

Alex mind races. This could be her one chance to give Kelly a good life, finally—a peaceful one.

“Find me a place I’ve never been to,” Alex says, her thoughts arranging as the words come. “A place where an ageless human can live without the danger of being questioned or killed.” A place for me and my wife…

And just as quickly as the thoughts come, she remembers Sam’s words—about Kara looking for a place for all of them, a place where they could all settle, away from this world that seems bent on killing all of them for some reason.

“A place where me and my family can live openly and without fear,” Alex finishes. But her mind is already there, in this place that she and Kara dream of… a place where Kelly can peddle her potions and herbs and salves without worrying about people discovering their secrets, where Alex can still hone her skills while also learning to work the land, where Lena can run as fast and as far as she wants, where Kara can breathe easy, with no murderous father hunting her down.

And where Sam can raise Ruby freely, without the fear of this very celestial hunting them down.

Said celestial is no longer smiling but the look she gives Alex is distinctly curious.

“There’s no such place—”

“Then you can’t help me,” Alex quickly cuts the celestial off.

“—here.”

“What?”

Andrea looks at the midday sky. “There’s no such place here.”

Alex thinks she might be going crazy, but a thought enters her mind and when she says it, it’s more to herself than to the celestial in front of her. “But it exists somewhere.”

The celestial doesn’t answer. Instead, she waves her hand and without fanfare, the house is back to its former glory.

“Tell Sam I’ll be waiting at the inn at the city center.”

“That’s the cost, isn’t it?” Alex asks, glancing at Ruby who has now moved on to picking up flat rocks.

“No,” the celestial says as she turns around to walk back towards their flimsy gate. She stops after a few paces. “And please don’t let my daughter eat rocks.”

 

 

 

 

 

Lena wakes up again with a groan and a sigh echoing around her.

The pain in her body is still present, still reverberating throughout her, wrenching her bones and setting her nerves on fire in the worst way possible. She tries to shift to another position, but her muscles complain, sending a sharp, jabbing sensation straight to her spine, immediately followed by what seems like a million pins and needles stabbing every inch of her, the pain of it spreading so rapidly, she swears she can feel it all the way to her fangs.

She whines and groans, hears it echo and fill this chamber or room that she’s in. She blinks, thankfully the one thing she can do that doesn’t seem to hurt her. Her vision blurs for a second before refocusing.

She is in a dark and empty cave, as far as she can tell. She can smell the forest, can almost taste the air and all the creatures running past where she suspects the entrance is. Only then does she feel her stomach rumble. Her throat is dry and she can tell, if not for the pain, she knows she’d be lightheaded too.

But hunger is something she’s known all her life.

Right now, it almost feels like a long-lost friend, a welcome distraction from the pain that wracks her existence.

“Lena?”

The sound is hesitant and overflowing with deep shame and regret that it almost hurts Lena to hear it.  But she welcomes it, lets it wash over her until it settles in her chest.

“I—I brought you food,” the voice says, familiar, haunting, sad…hungry. The scent of fresh meat hits Lena so suddenly that her mouth waters. She tries to move again, this time to the direction where the voice is coming from. Her whole body protests but her need is greater than her pain.

She grits her teeth, her chest rumbling, growling with the effort to not whine when her lungs expand and collapse. With strength she isn’t aware she still possesses, she quickly, deftly maneuvers her body to face the source of the voice—this mournful, quiet sound.

She collapses under the weight of her own exhaustion, unable to stop herself from releasing a loud cry as pain once again fills her.

“Lena, stop!” The voice cries, soft and laced with worry and shame. She feels the barest, gentlest of touch, willing her to settle down. She doesn’t. She’s found a need greater than her hunger, than her pain. She looks up.

The face staring back at her is splashed with blood, tear tracks piercing through the now cracked stain on the pale, perfect face. The eyes, red, surrounded by thin, angry veins, is filled with so much sorrow and grief, the pain in them so palpable that Lena can’t help the small cry that escapes her.

“I’m sorry…”

Lena wonders how a whisper, how two words, could speak volumes…most of which paint a desolate picture.

A pause. Then as if remembering something, it brightens a bit. “I cut the meat small the way you like it when you’re in your human form. I figured…” It trails off with a heavy sigh.

Something small and fragile drops on the earthen floor of the cave. Once. Twice. Thrice. Eventually, it becomes a continuous flow.

Everything goes quiet then. Even the forest sounds nearby die down until only the steady flow of tears as they hit the floor fill Lena’s ears.

Tears. Kara’s tears.

A deep, visceral part of Lena rages at the sudden realization. Kara shouldn’t cry. Something is hurting her mate and Lena cannot—will not—allow this. Everything in Lena narrows and focuses to this singular point and whatever pain, hunger, or thirst she feels momentarily disappears and with the last of her strength, she manages to sit up and lick Kara’s face clear of these offensive little things.

She tastes the dried blood on Kara’s face, notes that it tastes different. But that seems inconsequential next to the salt of Kara’s tears. So, Lena ignores it and focuses on her task at hand: stopping the tears from falling.

Kara doesn’t fight it, to Lena’s relief. Lena can only keep the pain at bay for so long, after all.

She makes the mistake of leaning too forward and her entire body erupts in a violent, racing pain. She catches herself just before the inevitable whimper escapes her lips. Instead, she gingerly lowers herself back down to the floor, a deep pained puff of air exiting her.

She watches as Kara wipes her face clean and quickly stands, gathering something in a makeshift plate made of leaves and bark and presenting it to Lena with an apologetic and tentative look on her face.

Lena looks down and finds a plate overflowing with shredded, bite-sized meat and a bowl beside it with water.

As she takes her first bite, she hears Kara sigh. “There’s more so please make sure to eat as much as you can,” she says softly. Lena huffs but continues eating despite the pain. Her thoughts now slowly focusing, her will being reinforced with each bite.

She needs to recover quickly.

After all, Kara needs to feed too.

 

 

 

 

“Sam.”

Alex should be used to it by now. But Sam is tall, slim, and does not look like she even knows what a workout means. To see her carrying a buck and what looks like a sack filled with vegetables will never not be disconcerting. It doesn’t make sense.

At least Kara is pure muscle despite the lithe frame. And Lena…well she’s usually a giant wolf when she carries something heavy. Alex’s mind can still somehow adjust.

“Alex,” Sam acknowledges, but her eyes are on the newly rebuilt house as she drops her burden unceremoniously on the ground, her face pale, cold, hard.

“One guess as to how this happened,” Alex says, holding a finger up, but Sam doesn’t seem to be listening. Her eyes are closed and she takes a deep breath as if tasting the very air around them.

“Where’s Ruby?” Sam asks, her voice low.

“Living room. Sleeping,” Alex answers.

Sam offers nothing more but is gone the next second, and the second after that, she’s carrying Ruby in a makeshift swaddle.

“You’re running.”

It isn’t a question and Alex wishes she didn’t sound so sad.

“I have to. For Ruby.” Sam’s tone is clipped.

“Andrea. That’s her name. She called Ruby her daughter. She says she’s waiting for you at the inn at the city center.”

Sam sighs and begins walking away.

“What about Kara? And Lena? How will I explain all this to them?”

“They’ll understand.”

“But Kara dreams of a place for us…” Alex hates the desperation building in her voice. Half the time she wants to murder Sam, but in the time they’ve been together, she’s started to consider her family. Alex would never admit it openly, but she likes how all of them fit together despite how vastly different they are from each other.

“She’ll get you there,” Sam answers, walking towards the gate.

“She could have taken Ruby. She was right there. But she fixed the house, told me to tell you to meet her. And then scolded me for letting Ruby put rocks in her mouth.” Alex tells Sam’s retreating figure. Sam turns to look at her one more time and Alex remembers why Andrea’s smile was so familiar. “She looks sad, Sam. She looks exactly like how you described Kara and Lena when you first met them.”

But by then, Alex is left to talk to air and dust. Sam and Ruby are gone.