Blood Bonds Pt. 09byphoenixphair©
Beth checked her watch for the fortieth time, squinting around her at the moonlit English countryside. Mom and Dad waited apprehensively a few feet away, Mom wringing her hands and Dad pacing just a little.
She'd been the one to talk to her brother that morning and it was such a cryptic conversation.
"Hey, B. Are you with mom and dad?"
"Yeah, at Mr. Thomas' manor outside London. Why? What's wrong? You sound funny."
"Well, that's why I'm calling. I need to see all of you. Something has happened, and you need to hear it from me first."
"Oh, shit, Kevin! Dad told you that you were playing with fire hanging out with that creature."
"Beth, for... your own sake, don't call her that, ok? And don't jump to conclusions. It's not what you think. Can you guys meet me tonight?"
"Yeah. Where? "
"Just come outside around one or so. We should be there around then."
"'We?' Who are you bringing? What car will you be in?"
"Uh, no car. Listen, I've got some stuff to do here. I'll see you all tonight."
Movement in the western sky caught her eye and she spun, mouth falling open as she looked up. Mom and Dad followed her gaze, mirroring her reaction.
A winged being slowly dropped out of the starry sky, holding Kevin tightly. With a few beats of a giant pair of black and red bat wings, a very beautiful young woman, the Lady Talera in her true form, no doubt, touched down silently in front of them, setting Kevin on his feet.
Something was very wrong with him. He was several inches taller, more filled out, his hair longer, movements inhuman.
"Good God," Mom whispered, hand covering her mouth.
"Lady Talera, how could- we- he's just a boy-" Dad sputtered, taking a tentative step forward.
"Dad," Beth cut in, stepping in front of him, advancing on the being at her brother's side. "Bitch! How dare you-!"
"Bethany!" Kevin interrupted her, moving with lightning speed between her and the Immortal. "She didn't do anything."
"Unfortunately," Talera said, her voice low, as seductive as reported. She gave Beth a sideways look, murmuring something to Kev in a melodic language before turning, wings rustling at her back, long tail flicking restlessly, then melted into the night.
"Oh, Kevin," Mom murmured, coming forward to touch his face. "What-? You're not Vampyr."
"No," he said, taking her hand in both of his.
"Lycan," Dad said, pursing his lips. "Right?"
Kevin nodded, looking back down at Mom as she ran her hands over his arms, peering intently up at his eyes, studying the changes in her son.
"Do I want to know how it happened exactly?" Dad asked, coming forward as well.
"I doubt it. Suffice to say I was personally attacked by a now deceased band of Hunters. Turning me was the only way to save my life."
"And this is recent?"
"Ten days ago."
"You were at Talera's Turning? That's when it happened?"
Her brother just nodded again, face betraying his worry.
Beth stared, jaw clenched. Her own brother, a werewolf. It was beyond her scope. That he was best friends, probably lovers, with the most powerful and terrifying creature the Vampyr had ever produced was enough. Now he was Immortal himself.
"Why are they letting you see us? Tell us? This isn't standard procedure, is it?" Mom asked, biting her lips, tears coming to her eyes. If an Immortal was Turned and still had a human family, they were almost always told their loved one had died, escorted to a nice funeral, never to know.
"There were special circumstances. For one, Talera is involved, and she moves mountains when she puts her mind to it. Mostly, though, my Clan is progressive. And they know that shit wouldn't work with you. I was Turned by the Alpha, which makes me first in his Line, since he has no other heirs, so I have certain privileges."
"Which Clan? I don't know a great deal about the Lyca, but..."
"That's a distinguished Clan," Dad admitted, nodding his head. "They're an old one and a powerful one. Worldwide, but based in..."
"And Pershing himself Turned you?"
"Yeah. He wanted to come tonight, but I told him... well. I didn't know how you all would react..."
"Are you a Beta?" his father asked, face scanning his son's intently. "Where do you stand in their hierarchy?"
"Ah," Kevin hesitated. "I don't know where I stand as yet."
"Answer the question, Kevin."
"I'm an Alpha," the young man said, straightening to his new full height. "I've no plans to challenge Pershing, though."
"Is this good-bye?" Mom asked, eyes tearing again.
"No, not unless you want it to be," Kevin said quietly, looking down at his feet, then at all of them in turn.
"This is so much," Dad sighed. "I didn't expect this at all. Never saw this coming. I thought if anything, you'd get mixed up with Talera..."
"Are you happy?" Mom asked in a small voice, touching his cheek again, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Kevin nodded. "I'm still getting used to it, but... I don't have any regrets."
"What happens next?" Dad asked.
Bethany crossed her arms over her chest, seething, though even she couldn't really pinpoint why she was so incensed. It wasn't that her brother wasn't human. The family had half expected something like this would happen one day, given their line of work and that Kevin was so close to that world the past few years. Shaking her head, she made a sound of frustration and abruptly turned and walked off into the darkness, leaving her parents to her brother.
She stalked into the stand of trees off to her right, their cover providing some sense of comfort, steadiness when her world was so upset. Putting her hands over her face, she breathed deeply for a few minutes, trying to calm herself down and get her thoughts in order. Slowly, she got the feeling she was not alone. Spinning, she searched the thicket around her. Lady Talera leaned against a giant tree trunk off to one side, eyes glowing faintly green in the darkness. She didn't seem to be paying any attention to Beth, eyes peering out at Kevin and Beth's parents. Beth studied her for a moment. She had pushed the demon back down inside herself, so she seemed to be a normal vampire, long dark hair, which Beth knew was dark silver, loose around her in a well-shaped mane. She was as seductively beautiful in person as she appeared to be in pictures, tightly muscled body, sultry curves only visible beneath her long black coat and black clothing because she leaned against a light-colored tree.
"I guess you're thrilled," the young archaeologist said after a moment, putting as much disdain into her voice as she could manage. Inwardly, she wondered how far she should push it with this being, who was not known for her patience with mortals.
"Ecstatic," the Immortal dead-panned, fangs flashing in the moonlight, glowing eyes flicking to Beth's face, then away again. Beth came closer, though the other made no indication that she was even aware of her presence.
"No seriously, I bet you're happy now. He's finally one of you people."
"He's not one of my People."
"Ohh, you're pissed because now you can't control him like you do everyone else around you. That's it."
Beth crossed her arms, puffing out her chest, smirking. The vampire didn't react, other than to smile marginally.
"Or maybe you're upset because, honestly, how are you ever going to top this? Just one more thing he's done to one-up you."
She didn't look at Beth as she said it, only stared forward, but her words weren't mocking.
"Who the hell do yo-?" the young woman started to retort, throwing her light brown hair over her shoulder, blue eyes flashing behind her glasses. For a moment, her instincts told her to strike at the offending bitch, but her brain kicked in before the girl did anything so fatally stupid.
"Yeah, well," she said after a moment of thought, allowing herself a grudging smile, taking off her glasses and polishing them before putting them back on. "He always warned me if I met you not to challenge you to a pissing match. His words."
The Immortal's unreadable expression cracked with a lopsided grin. "Nah, I think you can both more than hold your own."
She pushed away from the tree trunk, eyes meeting Beth's, a friendly smile on her luminous white face.
"Truce?" Beth asked, holding out her hand.
"Truce," she said, taking the outstretched hand and shaking it firmly. The creature's skin was cool as marble, but was absent the overwhelming spell of lust that everyone was going nuts over. Beth found herself at once relieved and faintly disappointed.
When Talera released her, eyes going back to the conversation between Kevin and Mom and Dad, Beth rubbed her hand for a moment to warm her skin. Following the demon's gaze, she watched her family's faces. Her parents' expressions were still dire, and tears continued to toll down her mother's cheeks.
"Can you hear them?" she asked the Immortal woman, who nodded. "Dumb question. How's it going?"
"Not very well," Talera said with a shrug, face tight. "He thought they'd be a bit more...open than they've proven to be. Unfortunate."
"It's a lot to take in. Even for us."
Talera nodded, but didn't respond.
"Listen, I don't know how this is all going to turn out, but, um, take care of him. Okay? He has forever now, right?"
The immortal gave her a sidelong glance, then nodded.
"Is he going to be okay?" Bethany pushed, eyes going wide once more. "I don't know anything about them. About him. Anymore. I'm worried for him. Your world is so..."
The demon seemed to ponder the words for a long moment, her expression neutral, then her lips quirked in a sad smile.
"He's smart and strong and powerful," Talera said softly, words moving on a breeze. "In an ancient and honorable Pack. He has the right temperament to be a Wolf. And live for a very, very, very long time. Believe me."
"I want to," Beth sighed, swiping tears out of the corners of her eyes.
"You'd better get back over there. I think it's about time for us to go"
"Promise me you'll be there for him. You're the one who got him into this when it comes down to it. Don't forget that."
Talera nodded, then leaned back against the tree. Beth could feel those green eyes on her back as she trotted back over to her brother's side.
"Disown him yet?" she asked her parent's taking Kev's arm and giving it a squeeze. He glanced down at her, raising an eyebrow, and she smiled quickly back up at him.
"This is serious, Bethany," their dad growled, shaking his head. "Where have you been?"
"Talking with your objet de obsession."
"She's still here?"
"Yep, watching over him like a... giant black hawk."
"Talera!" Dad called, raising his voice. Kevin tensed, knowing she bristled at being ordered to do anything. He half expected her to ignore his father. To his relief, she dropped out of the sky, landing silently beside him, though he knew to his parents, she seemed to simply appear at his side.
"Young lady," his dad said, face stern. "My son has your Mark?"
Talera nodded once, but said nothing, face carefully unreadable even to Kevin's trained eye.
"Then I hold you responsible for him, for as long as you both live. Is that clear?" his tone brooked no argument, and even Mom cast a nervous glance in her husband's direction. Kevin prepared for battle. No one, but no one spoke to her that way. Even the Council, who were generally disapproving of her, tended to walk on eggshells in her presence.
"You have my word, sir," she said sincerely. Surprising him again, she put both hands over her heart, lowering her head and tilting her chin to one side, curtsying. The formal bow of the Vampyr, usually reserved for one's Sire or Ruling Elder. In her case, only Ash and Arkon himself were entitled to such submission from her, and no doubt the only ones who ever got it. The nuance of the gesture was not lost on his parents, but their expressions didn't change.
"Kevin," Dad said after a moment, sighing hard, shaking his head. "I don't know where we go from here. We're going to need some time to adjust, and honestly...we may never do that. It's too soon to tell. I never thought anything quite like this would happen to you, of all people. Stay away from us, Wolf."
"How'd it go?" Sarah asked, standing quickly when the two suddenly appeared in the center of the living room on a gust of wind and shadow. Taking one glance at Kevin's face, though, she knew his family hadn't taken his Transformation well.
"About as expected," the young Wolf said glumly, his voice slightly muddy because his accent was so thick. "They didn't outright denounce me, at least."
He made his way over to the bar, pouring himself a tall drink, tossing it back, pouring another. Repeat. Repeat. His eyes were solid crimson, fangs flashing when he pulled back his lips to down the drink. Ana sighed softly from her perch on the back of the sofa, feet on the seat, wings folded at her back, tips dragging the hardwood flooring (which had earned her the new moniker 'Featherduster' from a giddy Sarah while they'd waited the long hours for the others' return).
"You're Thirsty. Not in a liquor kind of way, I mean."
He gave Sarah a shocked glance. For a long moment, no one said anything, Talera and Ana watching the other two without a sound.
"Getting there," Kevin said finally, shrugging. He turned a sardonic smile on Talera, who stood in her demonic glory still. "May I Hunt in your territory, oh Lady Talera?"
"I'll take care of it," she said flatly, giving him a deadpan look when he ran out his own claws, tapping the sides of his glass.
"What are you gonna do? Hunt down all my prey and bring it to me on a silv—" he started to snort before she cut him off.
"No," Talera cut him off sharply, appearing beside him at the bar and taking his drink, downing it with a grimace, then setting the glass down. She used one long claw to snick a long slice over one palm, holding out the bleeding wound right in front of his face. Sarah could see his nostrils flare, eyes go wide, then narrow in undisguised lust and hunger, his entire body tense. He moved forward as if he couldn't stop himself.
Talera stopped him, one hand firmly in the center of his chest, the other coming up to hold her bloody palm a mere inch from his lips. Sarah thought he might actually start to drool.
"But it's one thing to kill in the frenzy of your first Change," the demon continued. "It's quite another to actively make up your mind to Hunt someone. Are you ready for that?"
"Oh, so you're protecting my innocence. Is that it?" Kevin snarled, his voice just above a whisper, eyes deadlocked on the blood, which was dripping onto the hardwood floor. "I think I can—"
His comment was cut short by a terrified shriek from the doorway. They all turned to find Penelope, wide-eyed and gaping at the edge of the room, though she was slowly backing out once more.
Her pretty blue eyes flicked from one of the three to the others, who had all changed dramatically since she'd last seen them. Tears trickled down her cheeks, her chest heaving, hand coming up to cover her mouth.
"Shit," Talera murmured crossing her arms, lowering her head, wings coming up, extending outwards, then folding inwards as if to protect herself from attack. Kevin snapped back to the moment, shaking himself, cheeks going a little red. He reached out one hand, pulling the demon against him, stroking the top of one wing absently.
"Put it away!" Sarah hissed at her, starting forward towards Nel, holding out one hand as if to a frightened puppy. "All of you. Back to normal!"
She didn't turn to make sure they'd obeyed but she heard the whispers of wings, zing of metal as they complied. Nel apparently took in all three as they reverted back, her eyes widening even more, though Sarah wouldn't have thought that possible.
"Nel," Sarah murmured, smiling gently, reassuringly. "It's okay. Let us explain."
"What the—the hell is going on?" the tiny blonde whispered, expression threatening on hysterical, eyes glued to Talera, who was without question, the most threatening of the bunch when not in human mode. Her thin lips opened and closed like a fish as she gasped for air.
"Awwwwkward," Ana said in the tiniest of voices.
Sarah shushed her with a furious "SHH!," turning to give the Dark Succubus a withering glare over one shoulder. The Asian snapped her mouth closed, twirling her back-purple hair around one violet nail, gaze dropping, chastised.
The little blonde's faltering courage broke, and with another shriek, she turned to dash out the door. Talera emerged from the shadows in the hallway right as the girl got to that point. Screaming, Nel tripped over her own feet, skidding, trying to stop her momentum.
"Oh," Talera huffed, face flashing annoyance. "Grow a pair, Nel."
Taking two barely visible steps forward, the demon caught the girl around the waist with one arm, picking her up with not a trace of effort and tossing her over one shoulder. Nel choked in terror, freezing, her eyes on the dark hair, the shapely rear and long legs that were her only view as she was whisked back into the room. Shaking her head, Talera tossed her onto the couch, which Ana vacated by performing an agile back flip, earning a roll of eyes from Kevin.
"For the past eleven days, I have searched the infinite planes for you," Talera seethed, leaning down, putting a hand on the back of the couch on either side of the blonde's head, her pale face an inch away from the other's. "If you'd answered your fucking cell phone last week, none of this would be a surprise. Where the hell have you been?"
"My uncle's ranch in Wyoming," Nel squeaked, tears flowing freely again. "I didn't know you were...looking for me?..."
"Wyoming is a pan-dimensional dead spot?" Kevin mused to no one in particular, earning himself a slap and a snort of laughter from Ana, who stole the new drink he'd just poured.
Talera vanished completely, not even shadows marking her disappearance. Dazed, the girl gaped at the two laughing quite normally at the bar. Sarah sighed, dropping onto the couch next to Nel, taking her clammy hand and stroking it tenderly.
"Gentle," the dark girl murmured to the demon as she reappeared, this time sitting in her usual chair, crossing her legs casually. "This is a lot to take in for some of us humans."
"Point taken," Talera sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose with one elegant hand.
Ana strode forward, the real color of her skin and hair coming out, wings fully opening as she walked, her purple lips curving into a bright smile. She stopped in front of the blonde, extending a hand.
"Ana Kim, Dark Succubus," the Asian said genially, laughing out loud when a flummoxed Nel took her hand and shook it.
Getting the idea, Kevin set down his drink, letting his eyes turn red.
"Kevin Ayers Pershing, Lycan," he said, mimicking Ana's actions and tone. As soon as the girl had released his hand, he turned and walked out of the room into Talera's bedroom. A couple of minutes later, a gigantic golden wolf trotted back into the room. It graced the girl with a goofy canine smile, baring long teeth, though the lolling tongue dissipated the threat effectively.
"Holy shit. Kevin?" Nel murmured, reaching out a tentative hand to touch one swiveling ear. The wolf sat in front of her, offering her a paw like an eager puppy. "You're a werewolf? Where the hell did you guys go for break?"
As the wolf trotted back out of the room, Nel turned expectant eyes on Sarah. The black girl peered back, confused for a minute, then blushed.
"Ah, nothing new here," Sarah said, holding up her hands in innocence. "Just plain old me."
"Well, I have a direct link to the Darkness. Whatever that means. But other than that, nope. Nothing. Nothing glows or catches fire. No claws, feathers, fur, fangs, tail, wings, pointy ears, purple hair, metal—"