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i. Sascha and Lucas

Changelings don’t have daemons.

Their animal halves are their souls, and so there’s no need for a daemon, which is merely the outward manifestation of one’s soul. They become one when they change, and when on two-legs as a human, their soul is still with them.

It’s better this way, Lucas has always thought. To have a daemon is a weakness. Or so he had thought.

Psy and humans have daemons. To a changeling it’s both a wonder and an unease. Their daemons take forms not predetermined by their race or the changeling half of them. But they’re exposed and open. The panther is always a part of Lucas, safe regardless of what form they are in; he hadn’t understood how someone could have that part of them detached and so vulnerable.

When he’d met Sascha, the dueling thoughts of intrigue and recoil had been there at the outset. If his panther had told him she’d not been what she’d seemed, then her daemon had only been a confirmation. The sunset moth’s body and wings are so bright and brilliantly colored. A kaleidoscope of blues and purple hues fading into orange and yellow. His panther and he are fascinated by the two of them.

Lucas’d watched and seen that the giant moth had been a closely held extension of Sascha, often settling on her shoulder or on that braid she favored so much. Flitting around her head or moving to rest on her hand. Wings twitching and antenna in some form of silent communication.

Always vibrant, always near. Slowly he’d seen and been enraptured. Even more so when he’d learned that her daemon’s name was Ratnam. Jewel the most basic translation, and so fitting in its literal sense.

Now though, the changeling held belief of unease over potential harm comes back to settle deep within him.

Sascha lies motionless on the safe house’s couch, the cardinal stars dimming from her eyes. She’d not needed to reach Santano in person, only psychically. He can see it has taken its toll on not just her.

Lucas has no knowledge of whether a daemon can share in the abilities of its owner. That has been a secret she refused to tell him in their game of questions. But he’s been forced to sit and watch Ratnam jerk and spasm in time with Sascha’s pain, and can only assume the answer might be yes.

That her daemon has borne the brunt of the psychic attack to help her.

Wings fluttering weakly near her head on a cushion, her daemon looks no better than she. The color leeches and drains from his body. Grayness replaces the rainbow hues.

“No,” Lucas whispers, the one word full of both anger and despair.

He has no way to protect them, the human part of him says. No way to help. Her daemon, her soul, rests open and exposed. He does not understand this weakness.

His panther claws at him from the inside, defiantly roaring as the woman they love slips further towards death in front of them.

In the end, it is the panther that reaches out and brings her back. The mating bond snaps into place, linking them together. It’s fierce and vicious, nausea rising, as his mind tries to rearrange itself at having now two others connected to it.

Sascha jerks into consciousness and black eyes give way to those familiar white stars. She coughs, blinking up at his face as if she doesn’t recognize him. “What did you do?” she asks, voice faint and scratchy.

He can’t answer. He can only watch as her head turns to the side, searching until she finds her daemon. Reaching out, his fingers touch her leg. The touch provides reassurance that she’s awake and alive.

Her hands shake as she cups her daemon to her, soft intelligible noises falling from her lips.

Lucas and his panther both only breathe again when the colors return to the sunset moth’s body. Brilliant kaleidoscope that matches the rainbow spectrum he’s seen in her cardinal eyes.

 

 

ii. Faith and Vaughn

“I thought daemons couldn’t go far from you,” Vaughn says as he watches the little owl fly further into his home.

His jaguar purrs beneath his skin, pleased that Faith and her daemon are here in their space, here with them. Here to stay, it whispers.

Head tipped back, red hair falling away from her face, Faith can’t seem to stop looking around. She’s as curious as her daemon. No doubt, he remembers with a dark frown, because she’s spent her life isolated away in that barren place.

Never again his animal growls.

“What?” she finally asks, turning to look at him, wide cardinal gaze blinking.

The corners of his mouth twitch in a smile at her question, proof that she’d not been listening, and then nods off to where the owl has flown away from their eyesight. He can’t see but can hear his wings. “I thought daemons had to stay close to their owners.”

She steps further into his lair, running her hands through the water flowing over the wall. “Oh, most have to,” she gives him a look, pausing, thinking before continuing. “Some are rumored to be able to have theirs go other places by themselves. Through training.”

Vaughn tilts his head at the way her voice goes still, creeping back into that Psy ice tone. His jaguar balks at the word training. It sounds wrong.

Shaking her head, Faith speaks again before he can ask, “But not me. Bird daemons are a bit different. They can fly further than normal daemons. Not that much farther, but yet.” She shrugs. “No one really knows why.”

The anger leaves him, now that he knows nothing was done to her to make them this way. Instead, he watches as the owl swoops back into this part of his home. Her little daemon settles on part of the rock’s ledge.

Water splashes onto his feathers and an indignant clack of his beak and shifting wings conveys his annoyance. It’s Faith’s laugh that delights him though. It’s not a good laugh, not by changeling or human standards with its scratchy odd tone. He wants to make her do it again.

Faith stretches onto her toes as Vaughn watches, smoothing her fingers over the red feathers that are lighter than her hair. She laughs again, and he catches sounds of them talking.

“What?” he asks.

When she turns her head sideways to look at him, fingers still smoothing her daemon’s head, her cardinal eyes spark in that way they had in her bedroom. “Casandur doesn’t like the water.”

He narrows his eyes at the perceived insult, but quiets his protest when he sees the way the white spots flare in her eyes. “He doesn’t?”

Reaching up, she cups her palms so the owl can jump down to her. She holds him and steps away from the rock and water. “Just a little bit. But we like it here.”

Vaughn’s jaguar stretches and preens under the praise of their home.

Casandur hoots, a soft noise that he’s certain is a good one. He’s getting better at reading his Psy and her daemon. Then, a flap of wings and a circle around his head, once more in the air.

Vaughn leads Faith further in, eager to show off, eager to have them here. The tiny wingbeats guide them along.

 

 

iii. Ashaya and Dorian

It happens one morning after they are mated.

Dorian wakes first, blinking sleepy grit eyes, leopard coming awake beneath his skin. The even sounds of Ashaya sleeping near them, of Keenan down the hall, his new family all here safe, make his leopard purr in contentment.

He stretches his arms, working out his muscles. It’s then that his fingers touch his mate’s daemon. He freezes, blinking and tense all of a sudden.

Ultimate skin privileges between changelings mean everything, but changelings don’t have daemons. Their animals are their souls inside of them. Daemons aren’t touched by anyone other than their owners. To touch someone’s daemon is an invasion.

Dorian has never instigated any touch with the tiny hedgehog daemon of his mate. He’d gotten a handful of quills in his palm once. Weeks ago when he’d say something stupid and they’d been fighting. And once even her daemon had touched his head against Dorian’s when he’d shifted.

He hasn’t moved his hand, fingers still. Inhaling, he notices the soft texture of the quills, relaxed and sleep warm. Sometime in the night, her daemon must have rolled or moved to the other side of her.

Her daemon makes the choice for them.

Lifting his head, Kavi, his name a secret told to him by the daemon, turns his snout into Dorian’s hand. A nuzzle, a movement asking for attention.

Tentatively, he moves just two fingers, stroking the quills. Warmth floods the mating bond. Pleasure and happiness filling him, his wonderment and love echoing as well.

Dorian hears the inhale of Ashaya and turns away from where he’s been watching his big hand stroke her daemon. He expects something other than the sleepy eyes and small little smile on her face when he looks at her. She’s been practicing her smiles, learning from Keenan who already has opened up so much.

Feeling heat uncharastically flush his face, he whispers, “Is this alright?”

She shifts her head on the pillow, mussed hair sticking to half her face, and exchanges a glance with Kavi. Something must pass between them, a few seconds of communication.

“Very alright,” Ashaya says, sliding her head back up the pillow to look him in the eyes again.

It’s another level of intimacy, the bond, her next to him in bed, Keenan down the hall, and now her daemon asking for more petting. Lucky, but chosen. Both his leopard and he could not want for anything else.

 

 

iv. Aden and Rina

When Rina first lays eyes on what will be her future mate’s daemon, she thinks her the funniest looking dog she’s ever seen. Legs more like stilts, fur like a fox, and round ears bigger than her leopard’s own.

It can also be the fact that she’s bleeding out, at least one of her ribs is cracked, and she has no idea where she is, that turns her thoughts fuzzy and humorous.

Wrong time during a city rotation, and she’s been snatched up along with the Arrow pressed against her side as they struggle to breath in whatever dark room they’re in.

Her leopard prowls beneath her skin, alert and angry, trying to hear anything. She contemplates shifting. She could do more damage as her leopard, but it’s a risk.

“Hey,” she says, changeling eyes peering through the darkness of the room or cell or whatever. There’s no one else with them. Nothing else either unless she manages to break the pipe from the wall.

No response from her dead weight companion, but she hears the movement of those large ears. His daemon is pressed tightly against the side Rina’s not on. Her muzzle’s stained with blood. Blood matching the ones on Rina’s claws. Neither of them had gone quietly apparently.

“Hey,” Rina repeats herself, trying to get a good look at her Psy companion. She has to move to do it, and winces at the soreness of her neck. Her lip’s split, a sting every time her tongue touches the sore. “You alright?”

This Psy she knows. She’s seen him before. Overall leader of the group that had worked with the empaths in their DarkRiver territory. Seen him before on her city rotations too. Like today. Now, up close he looks far different from the handsome still face she’s used to. He’s pale, eyes heavy lidded. From what she knows of the Psy in her pack, she’s guessing he’s been hit psychically.

“We will be.” A soft alto answer.

It’s not him that gives it but his daemon, and Rina blinks in surprise. She’s never had one of her fellow packmates’ daemons speak to her personally.

Biting her split leap, she thinks on what to say. She’s not sure the exact protocol for speaking to daemons. Of course her Psy had to go basically pass out on her and put her in this situation.

Her leopard growls, pacing underneath her skin, unhappy and itching to hurt. Claws, not retracted since they’d first tried to strike, curl inward.

“Are you sure?” she finally asks because he certainly doesn’t look okay.

One of those ears twitches, a soft exhale that sounds far more close to an actual emotion than blankness. “We are repairing our psychic ways.”

It’s a surprising admission of their current vulnerability, but trust settles out of necessity and somewhat familiarity between them. Her leopard takes comfort in it. Perhaps if she’d not been too busy with fucking keeping it together, she’d reflect on that more.

As it is, Rina tries to settle her jumbled thoughts enough to listen to the funny looking daemon and plan how to get out. That soft alto is soothing, calms both her and her leopard.

A maned wolf, is what she learns later after they do get out.

Not a funny looking dog. Instead a daemon both she and leopard like very much. With a voice she wants to hear again.

 

 

v. Kaleb and Sahara

When Sahara first meets the boy she cannot see that he has a daemon.

Her uncle has told her to entertain his business appointment’s charge, and so she leads him through the greened walkways of the NightStar complex. Chislon, in the form of a ruby throated bird today, flutters at her ear. “I can’t see her,” he whispers for her hearing only.

The overwhelming majority of people, Psy and human, have daemons. To not have one would be to not exist. It’s extremely rare to be able to live without one if you were supposed to have one, and certainly those who did are not fully living.

'Maybe he doesn’t have one,' she says telepathically in response, not willing to risk the offense if he overheard. There’s something about this boy, something she knows is not right.

She takes him to the pond that is her favorite. Chislon shifts to a cat, furry tail twitching in the air, and leaps to the rock ledge to play with the fish.

“I like it here,” Sahara says aloud, and it’s when they both sit down that she finally can see his daemon.

There, curled around his wrist and hidden under the long sleeve of his sweater, is a snake. Dark green scales, nearly black.

“Oh,” she says before she can stop herself, “She’s pretty.”

Cardinal eyes blink. The white stars that had barely been seen when they’d first been introduced flare brightly for a moment. His daemon pokes her head out, tongue flicking the air. “You are not like other Psy.”

Sahara hesitates, aware she’s broken her lessons. Psy don’t comment on others’ daemons. No matter how pretty they thought they were. Chislon creeps into her hands, now a mouse. “You won’t tell will you?”

They don’t like the man meeting with their uncle. If Kaleb tells they’ll be in trouble. Her father and uncle both will be upset.

“No,” he responds, and then he uses his other hand to lift his daemon out. She’s not very long. Just enough to where she can wrap around his thin wrist a few times.

If Sahara notices the faint purple bruise she tries to forget it. She’s distracted by his next statement anyway.

“She can change colors,” he says. And then his daemon does. Though he’s older than her, it’s clear his daemon hasn’t settled just yet. A snake still but the scales shift in color. Red to orange. Then an iridescent rainbow of jewel tones. A deep green similar to one of her rocks from her lessons.

Sahara and Chislon watch, fascinated and delighted. The rest of the meeting time is passed changing forms.

 

 

 

Years later, when Sahara is huddled against the wall and broken glass in front of her, when her mind is a tangled mess, when she can remember nothing despite wanting to, it’s Chislon who lets the black cobra nuzzle its head against the fur on his neck.

And then she knows.

 

 

 

+1 Anthony and Nikita

Silence dictates that Psy have no emotions. Daemons are no exception. They are as Silent as their counterparts, as still and unassuming, as emotionless and blank.

Even more Silent are those daemons that go hand in hand with the Council. Rumors cycle through the Net and amongst the other races about how those daemons might as well be made of stone. Counselors did not rise, did not exist, except in the most perfect of ways. Their daemons could be no exceptions, people whisper.

These two are not though.

The rumors are lies.

Anthony smoothes non-existent lines from his suit jacket as he stands. Inclining his head to where Nikita still sits across from him in what once had been his daughter’s cabin, he says, “Then we are in agreement?”

They meet here to discuss business that cannot be discussed out in the open or at the Duncan office in San Francisco. Such private matters are better here in the heavily guarded and secreted NightStar compound.

Nikita rises from her seat, dark eyes flicking to his daemon at his feet for a second. Her own takes flight from her shoulder, gliding the short span to the main door, landing on the nearby window’s ledge. “We are. This territory is ours. We are better at defending it together.”

Hyun leaves her curled spot at his feet. His fox daemon had never taken her eyes off Nikita the entire meeting, but now she finds the hawk daemon more interesting.

“They will learn the lesson,” Anthony says, referencing their fellow Council members who have grown too bold in the past several months.

Nikita and he do not shake hands in farewell. They say nothing else, not even when next they will meet. But he is aware of the way Hyun presses her muzzle to the hawk’s body before it takes its spot on Nikita’s shoulder when she leaves.

He is aware later when he sits at his desk in his NightStar office, Hyun’s warm fox body curled once again at his feet.

He now know how feather feels against her red fur. The sensation lengers, distracting and against all of Silence.

He is very aware.