Blood Bonds Pt. 08

byphoenixphair©

Talera leaned on her elbows against the bridge, dark green eyes peering into the shadows, blinking slowly, long eyelashes silhouetted against a pale shaft of light, chest barely rising and falling. Her pale face was set in an unreadable mask, gaze unfocused.

"I'm sorry," Sarah whispered.

Talera stirred, smiling softly, mask cracking like malleable plaster. She turned her head, gazing up at Sarah serenely.

"No," the demon murmured. "I need to apologize to you. You deserved to know. I was wrong to reveal it like that. I wasn't acting like the human I once was. Forgot myself. And hurt you because of it. I'm sorry."

"Regardless," Sarah sighed. "I shouldn't have reacted that way. No one, no matter who...or what... they are should be treated that way. Especially you."

"It's not the worst I've ever gotten, believe me," Talera murmured with a breath of a chuckle.

Sarah started to say something, then shook her head, laughing very softly once to herself.

Feeling Talera's gaze, she looked up, seeing those two dark eyebrows arch in question.

"I'd explain myself," the girl said, blushing. "But it's so stupid. It'd offend you to no end."

Talera said nothing, only shook her head twice, chin lifting in prompt.

"Fine, but I warned you," Sarah said, clearing her throat. "When I was really little, I saw Sleeping Beauty in this big theater. Scared the hell out of me. And... on the beach... when all of a sudden, this giant black dragon rises up out of the darkness... all I could think of was when the evil one in the cartoon goes after Prince Charming... and he had to hack through all the thorns and.... See, I said it was stupid."

Talera just looked at her for a long moment, mouth open slightly. Then she recovered, closing her eyes, turning and leaning her back against the railing. Sarah opened her mouth to apologize again when she saw that the corners of her demon's mouth had curled upwards, lips parting, chest shaking in a silent laugh.

She began to laugh in earnest now, hands coming up to cover her mouth as she threw her head back, sliding down the stone until she sat, knees to her chest on the cool floor of the platform. Soon peals of bell-toned laughter were echoing through the jungle under glass as Sarah sank down beside her, joining in Talera's amusement.

"When I was five, I thought Maleficent was the one redeeming factor in the whole movie," Talera managed, clearing her voice as she resumed her calm.

"Figures," Sarah sighed, wiping her eyes, taking a slow breath. "So... you're uh, all of the above?"

"Yeah."

"What's it like? Tell me the truth."

"Well..." Talera looked at her for a second, before her eyes flicked away, considering for a moment, quirking her mouth to the side thoughtfully, one arching brow arching higher. "On the shallowest level... my teeth have been like this for over four years and only bothered me the first day I got them, but fuck if I'm not constantly aware of them and what they do now. Ash says I'll get used to it."

She paused, obviously running her tongue over her fangs behind closed lips. She took a deep breath, let it out slowly, eyes focused on something distant.

"And on deeper levels... I'm whole."

"And you weren't before?"

"No."

The answer was simple. No elaboration. No smile. No twenty-year-old mortal in the voice, the green eyes snapping down to meet the mortal's chocolate ones. Her head tilted to the side marginally, sending a rush of goosebumps down Sarah's arms as she recalled the expression of the creature on the beach.

"So who are you now? Which... being? "

"I'm the same as I always was. The vampire just binds together what wouldn't quite stick before. A Dragon from the abyss and a human girl from the light were never intended to become one. It was...a strain before. Controlling two halves that were radically different."

"Cosmic glue."

The comment won the mortal a genuine snort of laughter and a nod.

"Any more changes? Your claws grew."

"Nothing big. Some coloration and decorative changes. My ears are all jacked up. I already had all the hardware before the vampire was added, fangs, et cetera. No surprises there."

"Fangs...so... the whole blood thing..."

"Yeah. The blood thing. From not eating a thing in...ever... or years depending on how you look at it... to needing something so badly it hurts. Constantly."

"I thought it could be sated. The thirst, or the hunger or the whatever you guys call it."

"Yeah, anything I say sounds melodramatic. Let's just say I'm 'thirsty' and not put 'the' in front of it. Work?"

"Much better. So, you can't..."

"Unfortunately, the number of people I'd have to kill to make it back off even temporarily is...scary."

"How many people HAVE you killed?"

"Since the other night or in all?"

Sarah's mouth moved once without words coming out before she found her voice. Talera just raised an eyebrow.

"Jesus. Nevermind. You're not gonna...?"

"Kill you? Don't be stupid."

"Just checking."

"If it makes you feel any better, I only go after the ones who have it coming."

"No damsels in distress?" Sarah asked, some cheek in the comment.

"Funny. No, I got tired of scaling castle walls and fighting off Prince Charming."

"New subject, please, I've had one crisis of conscience too many already tonight."

Talera breathed a smile, folding her arms around her knees and resting her chin on them.

"You're linked to me now, you know," the dragon said after a moment, turning her gaze on the girl.

Surprised, Sarah only looked back through wide eyes, shaking her head slightly.

"Give me your left arm," Talera said, swiveling so she sat Indian style in front of her friend. Sarah complied, a faint chill running up her arm when those cool fingers gently clasped her forearm, turning her arm bottom side up.

"Hey!" the girl exclaimed suddenly. "You can touch me now! No crazy lust fog."

Talera smiled, but her attention was on Sarah's wrist.

"The exchange the other night. With the shots and the blood. Is part of a very old spell. It links my family. All of you who were present. To me. And my power. Forever."

Sarah gasped as Talera ran one finger from the butt of her palm several inches down her arm. A dark tattoo, simply a single large black symbol edged in crimson, writhed into view against Sarah's dark skin, spanning about six inches.

"Oh my god..." Sarah whispered, eyes riveted to the Mark. It pulsed, seemed to vibrate, radiate something that the girl couldn't define. The sensation started in her arm, but spread so that it felt as if every cell of her body was suddenly drugged, shivering in an electric wind.

"What is it?" the girl breathed, flexing her fingers, which tingled like mad.

"A direct link to what powers me," Talera said with a lopsided smile. "Well, there are a few firewalls for your own protection, but the raw energy is still there."

"What does it do?"

"What do you want it to do?"

The simplicity of the question caught Sarah off-guard. She jerked her gaze to Talera's face, mouth falling open, brow creasing in confusion.

"I don't understand," Sarah murmured, shaking her head, curls bouncing.

"If you're in danger, if you need it for some reason, it's always there. Say you want to see energy signatures like I showed you before, concentrate on wanting that."

Sarah gaped at her for a moment, then closed her eyes, drawing a long breath. After a second, she opened them, hands clapping to her mouth when she realized the world had lost it's physical color and that she was seeing the auras of all the plants around her, each unique in its own tiny way. Talera was a giant black and crimson smear, her energy extending far beyond the woman Sarah knew sat in front of her. Her real shape, the dragon, Sarah realized, loomed just beyond physical vision, visible in this spectrum.

"Are my eyes black?" the darker girl asked, a slow grin creeping across her face.

"Yeah, it becomes you," Talera mused.

"Jesus. How do I turn it off?"

"Just like that. Stop it."

Closing her eyes again, Sarah released a sigh, then looked around cautiously. Plants, Talera, the night were all back to living color.

"Is it going to change me too?" Sarah asked, eyes glued to the Mark again.

"No," Talera said gently. "Not that you can see, anyway. You need extra strength for some reason? It's there for you. You need to... open a door and your hands aren't free? Just imagine it opening."

"I'm in danger, aren't I?" Sarah said, looking directly into green eyes.

"Yeah," Talera said bluntly. "I'm sorry about that too."

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Sarah said softly. "I don't regret meeting you. Don't think that. Ever."

The other only smiled softly, eyes crinkling at the corners.

"Does it drain on you when I do that? Am I hurting you?" Sarah asked suddenly.

Shaking her head, Talera stood suddenly. Reaching down, she pulled the girl to her feet. Holding Sarah's wrist, the demon ran a finger over the Mark again, and it disappeared.

"Promise me you won't hesitate to use it if you need it," Talera said, expression solemn.

"I promise," Sarah said, leaning forward to kiss her demon on the forehead. The girl had no idea what she was going to do with all that power, but she hoped she'd never have to find out.

---*****----

[Can't say I proofread this with any enthusiasm. I love it that Lit readers are so sharp they catch things I overlook. Thanks for the continued support. Love, pphair.]

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