Blood Bonds Pt. 10byphoenixphair©
Sarah relaxed back into the chair at the kitchen table, eyes roving over the piles of book before her. The house was eerily silent, no creaks or sighs from the walls, no rush of traffic sounds outside, no sense of the vibrant urban neighborhood. She idly stared at the far wall, wondering in an off-hand way about sound-proofing. Shaking herself, she scribbled on the legal pad under her hands, flipping the book nearest her closed with a muted thump.
She'd discovered the supernatural section of Talera's small library completely by accident. Combing through the walls of books in one of the spare rooms of her friend's Georgetown townhouse, she was surprised to find a collection of books, both ancient and crackly-new, that dealt with any number of creatures Sarah had never imagined.
Since no one else was awake as usual in the few days since the demon had returned, Talera in her room for the day, Kevin apparently in her company— doing who knew what in that big bed— and with Ana and Nel at their own places, she had some time to kill. So she approached her task like a term paper, taking notes, compiling a list of questions based on research.
"Is there a test later I was supposed to study for?" Kevin asked, a yawn interrupting his sleepy laugh. He padded into the kitchen in a pair of tight jeans, hair long and tangled over his bare chest and shoulders, feet bare.
"You need new clothes," Sarah noted. "Those jeans are indecent."
"Ugh, shopping," he snorted. "What time is it?"
"After six," Sarah said absently, leaning forward to close all the open books and stack them neatly. "I assume you're hungry. Where's Tay?"
"Off stalking her dinner, I guess ," he said with a shrug, leaning into the fridge and retrieving a beer. "She's not in the house."
"Stalking?" Sarah sighed with a raised brow.
"I don't picture her as a pouncer," Kevin mused, downing the beer and crushing the can into a tight little aluminum ball. "Can't you see her watching from the shadows, waiting for them to—"
"I get the picture," Sarah cut him off with a faint shudder. "I didn't hear her leave."
"Did you feel a breeze?" Kevin asked, deadpan, popping open a soda and rooting in the pantry.
"About an hour ago."
"Then you heard her leave."
"It's not even dark yet."
"Like it matters to her. Maybe I'll order a pizza. Extra cheese. Mmm, lots of meat."
"Whatever you want," Sarah said absently, jotting down a sudden thought on a separate notepad.
"What are you doing, anyway?" the Wolf asked, coming to look over her shoulder.
"Just compiling a list of questions," the girl said, showing him the three legal pads in the pile. "One for all three of you freaks. I can't stand not knowing anything."
"Freaks," he snorted, lifting the list with his name on it from the pile. "Let's see..."
She waited expectantly, heart picking up a notch with excitement. He caught the increase, lifting a brow at her.
"It's not that exciting," he huffed, scanning to the next page, eyes flickering with red light. Taking a chair on the other side of the table, he twirled it around and straddled it backwards, resting his arms on the back of it, laying the list on the table.
"Silver..." Sarah prompted when he fell silent.
"We're mildly allergic to it. Nothing too bad. Hurts like hell if you shoot a Lycan with a silver bullet, but it's not fatal."
"Mmm, tricky," he sighed, running a hand through his hair. "At first it's hard to control the Wolf at full moon. It's supposed to get easier with time and experience. We can shift at any time, but at full moon, it's damned hard not to. A lot of the Packs have reserves and ranches they retreat to once a month so they don't have the danger of discovery or accidental Hunts during the two or three days when it's hard to control."
"When is the next one? What's going to happen to you?" Sarah asked, placing her hands flat on the table near his.
"Hard to say," he said with a shrug. "The next one starts tomorrow night. Pershing is coming up from Georgia to discuss my plans."
"Do the Packs hunt people? Humans?"
"Sometimes. Game is the usual fare, though. Deer, elk, bison, depends on the area. I won't say they never hunt humans, but it's not the norm and there are a lot of rules to follow if we do."
"If you're an Alpha and Pershing's an Alpha, what happens now?"
"You're taking this seriously, huh?" he noted dryly. "I don't know. Traditionally, I challenge him for the Pack. I don't want to lead them. I don't know how they're going to see me either. Since I used be a Hunter, the enemy, I can imagine I'm not going to get the warmest welcome. The only thing that's kept me from having to go down there and prove myself so far is Pershing's insistence that they cool down a bit. That and Talera's blood is in my veins, and she scares the piss out of them. Are we done yet?"
"For now," Sarah conceded. "I'll think of some more, and we'll get back to the rest of the list later."
"Joy," he snorted, yawning again, baring long teeth.
"Does everyone have fangs now?" Sarah growled, shivering involuntarily at the sight.
"I don't think Ana does," Kevin said, a slight smile on his lips.
"I'll add it to her list. Why are Talera's so...big? I've never even seen any of the others'."
"On most vamps, their fangs retract when they're not using them," he explained, yawning. "And I've never heard of anyone with them on the bottom. I don't think she can retract either set. Probably because she came into the Change with them intact. It keeps you as you are for the most part. Freezes you in time. That's why they tend to have long hair. Short styles aren't generally timeless."
"What about Lycans? I saw a couple of older-looking guys in Pershing's Pack."
He considered for a moment, eyeing her speculatively.
"You'd make a good Hunter," he said, giving her a wry smile. "If you're Changed, bitten, unless you're a little kid, you're stuck at whatever age you were when it happened. But, that doesn't happen very often. Most people who are bitten die immediately, and outsiders aren't usually brought in anyway.
"But, if you're born a Wolf, it's a little different. Everyone ages to a certain point, then stops. Sometimes it's just after puberty ends, sometimes it's not until your late fifties or so. There's no way to tell ahead of time. So, don't think that because one of us looks older, that we are. A teenager could be the eldest in a group and there'd be no way to know it. Other than that, I'm not so sure about the finer points of our physiology. My training wasn't comprehensive on some subjects."
"What did you...cover? What are the Hunters most concerned about?"
"Depends on the organization," he shrugged. "Generally it's the big three, though: vampires, werewolves and demons. And the latter covers a broad range of creatures. Ana is considered a demon now."
"It's easier than breaking them down into each individual species."
"What did your organization, um, hunt?"
"There are different branches," he said, leaning over to pick up a book from the center of the pile. "These guys? Abercorn and Cohen? They're affiliated with the group I worked for. Do most of our—they're— research. They're thorough too, the books they write are the most accurate in the field. Are these hers?"
"I found them in the library in the last room down the hall," Sarah said. "Doesn't look like most of them even have been opened, though."
"She probably doesn't need to read them," he yawned again, though his face was thoughtful. "Anyway, I was in the vampire division. My whole mission was to come in and run inside surveillance on her alone. We can see how well that worked out."
"Why you specifically? Aren't you a little young?"
"A bit, but there are some of us who are called Born Hunters," he explained. "For some reason we pop out of the womb with the ability to track, patience to research, and everything else a Hunter needs. My parents have been friends with the leader of the organization I belonged to for most of their lives. Jobias Thompson. Good guy, actually. Noble, if that's not too cheesy a word. Anyway, when she came to the world's attention a few years ago, when Ash first took her as his Chosen and everyone got a look at the power behind that pretty face, Job asked me to join. For two years, I went through extensive training to prepare me to face her. Job apparently thought she'd find me appealing."
"Is she that dangerous?"
"More than we knew. Still moreso, I'd imagine," he grinned, eyes distant. "I had to learn how to lock up the thoughts in my head, disguise who I really was. Learn how to defend myself against vamps, how to incapacitate them, kill them if need be. It was kind of fun at the time. Super spy stuff, you know? And then... that first night, she walked into that kitchen and...it was all for naught. I knew that... I couldn't betray her. Knew it was useless anyway. Something about her. I just realized that, uh, it didn't matter what we did, she was like a hurricane, a nova. If she wanted to start trouble, there'd be nothing any of us could do about it. And she was fascinating."
"And hot," Sarah put in, grinning.
"And hot," he said ruefully. "I was eighteen, and—"
He froze, eyes scanning the room, alert suddenly.
"She's..." he said slowly, turning to scan over his shoulder. "Fuck! Bloody vampire! Don't do that!"
It took Sarah an extra heartbeat to realize that Talera was leaning against the doorjamb, dark eyes glinting in the light from the kitchen, arms crossed beneath her breasts. Her teeth flashed in a brief grin, but she otherwise remained still as a sculpture.
"How long have you been standing there?" Kevin demanded.
"Your pizza is on the way," she replied, straightening. "The staff will bring it up later."
She vanished for a second, but was back in a blink, two bulging shopping bags dangling from one hand. Her well-worn jeans hugged every curve, every ripple of muscle as she sauntered into the room, raising a brow at the books, but saying nothing as she set the bags in an empty chair. Sarah noted wryly that the demon looked more elegant and powerful in jeans, a black t-shirt and sneakers than most people did in suits or in uniform.
"It's all in the attitude," Talera said quietly as she ducked into the pantry, coming back with a bottle of red wine.
"How many different ways can you...come and go?" Sarah asked, ignoring the mind-reading. "Sometimes you seem to melt out of the darkness, sometimes you fly, sometimes you make a breeze, sometimes you don't. What's up with that?"
"Hm," Talera murmured to herself as she used a claw to slice open the seal on the wine bottle, the cork seeming to pop out of its own accord, jumping into her waiting palm.
"Waiting..." Sarah prompted, tapping her foot.
"I'm just thinking about it," the demon responded, casting a glance in the others' direction as she decanted the bottle into a crystal container. "I don't really think about how I'm going to get somewhere. If the shadows are deep enough and I'm familiar with the area, I can walk through the darkness. If I've never been somewhere before, or if it's too light, I generally flash in on the breeze. Otherwise, I fly. Or I just walk. Driving is good too..."
"Would it do any good for you to try to explain the shadow thing? Or the wind thing?"
"I can try, but probably not."
Talera pondered the wine for a moment, frowning slightly, then sighed and poured a glass. Pausing, she took out another and poured for Sarah as well. She leaned around the girl and set the glass in front of her, taking the last empty seat. With a muted sigh, Talera read over the notepad that had mysteriously appeared in front of her.
"I didn't even see you take that," Sarah breathed.
"Mmm, misdirection and speed," Talera noted, distracted by her reading, taking a sip of the wine herself. "You are thorough."
"Wind," Sarah said, smiling to herself, eyes lighting up. "That's your preference as an Elemental."
Talera didn't look up, just nodded, flipping to the next page, still absorbed.
"I read all about it," Sarah continued. "Elementals can control the four Classical elements, wind, fire, earth and water. But each individual has a preference, one thing that they're better at than the others. I would have thought your would be fire."
"I don't breathe fire," Talera snorted. "One of my...sisters can, but I have no taste for it."
"Fire?" Kevin asked, puzzled.
"Fire-breathing Dragon?" Sarah sighed, glaring at him.
"Ohhhh," he exaggerated through a yawn. "I still can't reconcile Gorgeous here with the gigantic beast."
Talera rolled her eyes, flipping to the next page and scanning it closely. She ignored Kevin as he reached over and snatched her wineglass, setting on the table in front of him.
"What are you doing?" Talera asked. "You hate wine."
"Not all the time," he protested. "Besides, I know it tastes terrible to you. I want to show Sarah a trick I learned."
"Don't gross her out," the demon huffed, shooting him a look and reaching for the glass, laying the tablet down.
"Relax," he retorted, smacking her hand out of the way.
Sarah watched wide-eyed as he pressed one finger hard against fang, letting the stream of blood that burst out darken the wine. The wound healed after a few seconds, and Kevin licked the smear of blood off his skin.
"Watch her eyes," Kevin said.
"Please," Talera snorted, rolling her eyes once more. "I just hunted and it's not like she's ever going to need to look for it."
"Just show her," he shot back. "She needs to recognize the look anyway."
"Fine," Talera said with a sigh, sitting up perfectly straight in her chair.
"This is bloodlust," Kevin told Sarah, face serious. "Watch her face, especially her eyes, the set of her lips."
Talera closed her eyes for a long moment, turning her head to the side to inhale a long breath through her mouth. When she turned back, she was completely relaxed, green eyes intent on Kevin's face.
Almost cautiously, he picked up the glass by the stem, standing a little so he could move closer to her unimpeded. His arm moving glacially, he extended the glass under her nose, licking his lips, eyes glued to her face.
Sarah concentrated on her friend's expression. At first, only Talera's usual faint smirk touch her pouting lips, then they parted, revealing glints of the sharp points behind. The green eyes went wide, unfocused, then narrowed, lids going slack, irises turning black, then expanding outwards with the jet-crimson flames. Her nostrils flared once slowly, tongue coming out to slowly caress her upper lip.
She looked up from the glass, straight at Sarah. The being peering with unblinking hunger at Sarah was so alien that the girl slid back in her seat, hands coming up to cover her throat.
A low, rumbling growl started across the table, growing to a sharp bark. With a snap, Talera returned to the eyes, which flashed to green. She smiled ruefully at Kevin, who'd shot to his feet, teeth bared.
"That was a great idea," Talera breathed, running a hand back through her silver hair, closing her eyes for a long moment. "Are you okay, Sarah? I'm really sorry."
"N—no problem," Sarah stuttered, forcing her hands down into her lap. A sharp shudder started at the back of her neck, racing up and down her spine, sending goosebumps up all over her skin.
"You asshole!" Talera hissed, reaching across the table to slap Kevin's arm as he sat back down. "Dump this out, now. Have you lost your mind? Fuck, I'm just as bad, agreeing to that. Forgive me, Sarah."
"Would you have killed me?" Sarah asked, her breath coming back under her control.
"I hope not," Talera said gravely, stifling her own shiver. She barely glanced at Kevin as he snatched up the glass, turning the contents into the sink and washing them down with a blast of water.
"No," he shook his head, face sheepish. "You wouldn't have killed her. You know that."
"Let's hope not," Talera hissed back.
"Can I see your fangs?" Sarah asked suddenly.
Both supernaturals stared at her as if she'd lost her mind.
"What? It's on my list," the girl pointed out innocently. "Look, I know you're dangerous. I was just curious. I don't think you would have done it, for the record. Scared the hell out of me though. Better than a roller coaster. Can you hear my heart?"
Both continued to watch her with amazed eyes. Grinning, she got up and moved to Talera's side, motioning for the other to slide her chair back. When the demon complied, eyes still wary, glancing at Kevin, Sarah slid onto the table-top in front of the other girl, resting one foot on the open space of chair between Talera's thighs. She leaned in close, reaching out one hand to touch the other's cheek. She felt more than saw Kevin come to stand behind Talera, his hands going to her shoulders.
"Open up," Sarah ordered, cocking a lopsided smile. "Come on, I'm not afraid of you. At the moment."
"Fine," Talera said slowly, eyeing her suspiciously. "Look. Do. Not. Touch. Understand me? The instinct to bite is automatic if skin touches fang, and nothing he can do will hold me back if you touch. Is that perfectly clear?"
"Crystal," Sarah confirmed, shaking with anticipation.
She leaned forward as Talera parted her lips, expression halfway between excitement and terror. With exaggerated slowness, Sarah pushed back one side of the vampire's rose-petal cool upper lip, exposing the curved, razor sharp canine beneath that extended far beyond the line of the perfect teeth around it.
Talera took a long, shuddering breath, closing her eyes tightly.
"Careful," Kevin cautioned, his voice no more than a gruff whisper.
"I'm not going to touch it," Sarah murmured, intent on her inspection. "Holy shit. I don't have to touch to see how sharp it is. Is the bottom the same way?"
"Okay, that's enough of that," Talera gasped, putting one hand on Sarah's chest and gently pushing her back. "Sorry, honey, I hit my limit."
"Does it hurt?" Sarah asked, eyes ablaze with excitement, looking up at Kevin. "When she bites?"
To his everlasting embarrassment, he blushed hard, earning a guffaw of laughter from the girl. Talera turned her head to look back at him, laughing as well when she saw his face.
"Shuttup," he growled, squeezing the vampire's shoulders tightly, glaring at her, though a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "It does hurt. Four giant teeth sinking into your skin. Bloody hurts, trust me."
The demon smirked, eyes twinkling.
"But only for a second," he continued, blood smoldering under his skin. "Then the Trance takes over and, well... pain is the last thing you're thinking about. Why? You wanna find out for yourself?"
"Maybe," Sarah muttered, the heat rising in her cheeks this time as she looked away. Now he burst into laughter, leaning down to plant a swift kiss on Talera's surprised lips.
"Are you serious?" Talera asked, shaking her head. "Why aren't you scared of me? You're going about this all wrong, you know. You're supposed to be frightened of monsters."
"Pff, monsters," Sarah huffed.
"She is serious," Kevin said with a lecherous grin. "The little kitten can't help herself."
Talera eyed the girl for a long moment, expression inscrutable. Then with a breath of moment much too fast for Sarah to catch, she stood behind Kevin, hands rubbing his shoulders, eyes still fixed on Sarah, one eyebrow lifted, trademark smirk intact. With a languid stride, she turned and walked out of the kitchen, pausing to look back over her shoulder through the veil of her hair.
"I'm not going to have our first time be in my kitchen," Talera noted dryly. "You coming or not?"
"Have fun," Kevin chuckled, yawning once more, stretching, every single muscle beneath his exposed skin rippling breathtakingly.