you're too young & eager to love
22 August 2017 @ 11:30 pm
This is a warm-up, I guess, so it's not very pretty, but oh well. I wanted to write about vampires and Roman was kind enough to offer himself.

This is most likely AU.


There’s blood on his jeans.

Sunniva notices this, as well as his clean hands, and the way his bones smell of absence. His palm comes back sandy when he runs a hand through his disheveled hair, the strands cutting across his bearded jawline. He’s a whole head taller than Palmer and imposing in the way of all men who are well-sharpened blades.

“You’re outside of the Vries’ jurisdiction,” she says, “but money is money if it’s all the same to you. We don’t allow any trouble here.”

“I doubt that. With a face like yours.” His grin widens his entire face and Sunniva finds herself smiling. He glances across the marble entrance, taking in the thick columns and the smell of wet stone. “I’m not here on business. Only passing through.”

She nods and gestures for him to pass.

Most men push money into her hands and choose a girl. They circle like scavenger birds attracted to easy meat. Roman is different. He finds a seat at the bar and lets the women come to him. He talks easily, one of his big hands occasionally lifting a tumbler of scotch to his mouth or reaching out to stroke a tanned arm. After half an hour, Sunniva sits beside him, her silver dress shivering across her thighs. She flicks her fingers at the bartender and the woman hands her a glass of fig wine.

“We have others, if you don’t like – ”

“Do you miss it?”

She blinks, surprised. “Sorry?”

Roman reaches down between their bodies and strokes a palm across the back of her prosthetic leg, the metal as cold as his skin. She can almost feel the sensation. Her shoulders tighten and her mouth becomes a hard line.

“It’s beautiful work. Fine craftsmanship. But you still feel it, don’t you? Your lost limb.”

She swallows and cuts her eyes at him, shifting her legs so her good one folds on top of the other. He retracts his hand but not as quick as she would have liked him to. With a forced smile, she tucks her fingers under her chin, her elbow resting on the bar, and cants her head at him. “You must be well acquainted with loss. But overstep again, and I’ll ask you to leave. I am not one of my girls.”

Roman raises his eyebrows. The expression makes him look smug. Sunniva imagines he wears the look often.

“What are you?” She is usually too professional for such bluntness, but he’s already crossed a line. There’s a hint of coyness in her tone, as though she’s asking a question she already knows the answer to.

“Hungry,” he says with another grin. “I’m hungry.”

“We have a fantastic cook. Although most of our clientele don’t come for the food, I admit.”

He tsks at her, disappointed.

She pauses before signaling to the bartender. “Could you send for Odina, please?”

Odina smells like the mountains when she arrives a minute later. She has a spread of freckles across her face and shoulders, her hair the copper of worn pennies. Sunniva runs a hand down her arm invitingly when she comes to stand beside them. Her smile is shy and directly disproportionate to the frankness of her gaze. The lavender of her dress doesn’t suit the color of her skin or the pink flare of her bee-stung lips. Roman likes her immediately.

Sunniva brushes a few strands of Odina’s hair behind her ear, speaking low and close although she keeps her eyes on Roman. “Our guest here has special tastes. Oblige him.”

When Roman catches her jaw in his hand, she does not shy away. She has a bear’s heart, and it hammers bravely inside of her chest. He grips one of her long arms with his other hand and sees a flicker of realization in her eyes.

“Cold hands.”

“Mmm,” he concedes and pushes into her space, walking her backwards until she’s bracketed by her bedroom wall and his body. He has to lean down to press his face into her neck, and he breathes in the smell of her, the hot, youthful blood right below her fragile skin beckoning to him.

“I haven’t seen one of you in a while. Not as a customer.”

Roman pauses, his mouth humming across the slope of her shoulder. When he speaks, Odina can feel the press of his fangs against her flesh. “You’re too young to have seen one of me, mädchen.”

She laughs a little, digging her fingers into his hair and arching up into the length of him. “Don’t be silly. You’re not common, that’s for sure, mister, but we cater to all types here at the Isle.”

He growls, pinning her more forcibly against the wall, and craning her neck to the side. For all his physical threatening, he doesn’t hear her heart skip even a single beat.

“The last one said I tasted like apricots. Do you remember what those taste like? Smooth but sweet and tart.”

She bites her bottom lip and strains against his hands – not to get away, but to press closer. Roman wants to call her a minx, but now all he can think of is velvet skin and golden fruits. He presses his nose into her shoulder again, trailing his mouth up, letting the ache settle in his groin and thrum through his veins.

Hunger like drowning. Burning. Suffocating. All the sensations he has never experienced firsthand and probably never will.

He sinks his teeth into her without warning. He gets hard at the way she cries, a quick, sharp gasp from her slavish mouth. The blood spills across his tongue, thick as syrup but so much sweeter. He’s vaguely aware of letting his hands drop to his waist, of fisting the fabric of her dress at her side until he’s crushing her against him, and she just keeps arching and yielding and relenting herself to him. Roman knows she’s wet and he’d like to fuck her until she comes against him, her hair a blaze across her soft cheeks, blood smeared across her collarbone, but he lets himself get lost in the thunder of her heartbeat for a few more moments.

He’s too old to be careless. He rears his head back with a growl well before her pulse begins to flutter, circling an arm across her hips while lifting the back of her thigh until she’s looped her legs around his sharp waist.

Roman keeps his fangs out. He drags them across her collarbone, over her chest, leaving a trail of red to stain the lavender edge of her dress.

When she tells him she wants it, he bites again, against the swell of her breast.

She’ll stroke the fading imprint of his teeth for days to come.
you're too young & eager to love
13 August 2017 @ 10:47 pm
Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
- “Scheherazade”

Praise this beautiful, terrible world where we are opened
and crushed, where the kiss comes from a mouth that bites.
- “The Diver”

She hungers.

Roman can feel the yearning roll off her – silent, heated waves crashing through the air and landing against his dead skin. He isn’t sure if their connection is because of the blood they share, the thick, heady stuff he takes from her regularly (because he hungers too, he hungers more than he needs) and the drops he’s offered her over their many months together making a circle of their life, or simply because proximity has granted him an intimate awareness. But he can feel it: clear, obvious, undiluted. He runs his tongue against the sharp points of his fangs. He glances at her from beneath his eyelashes, body still against the floor, his hands behind his head and legs stretched forward. He has kept the room sparse, ever militant with his lack of need to display affection or familiarity, and made himself a marble statue posed in relaxation.

“Feeling needy, kid?” he asks.

Lene closes the wooden door separating her bedroom from the smaller, darker back room before shoving her hands into her pockets, her weight shifting to one hip. “No,” she lies. “Being home feels –”

“Home is never how you remember it as. Trust me.”

She rolls her eyes and kicks at one of his bare feet. “I was going to say good. It feels good.”

He moves so suddenly, so like the wolves lambs learn to fear, and snatches her foot. When he pulls, Lene tumbles, her small body awkwardly responding to pressure and gravity, while the beast inside of her instinctively charges with anger at the unexpected attack even as she outwardly laughs. She lands on the carpeted floor with a thud, the stone ground beneath sturdier than her bones. Roman crawls forward, ignoring the way her right knee jams into his rib, her left leg with her newly freed foot wrapping loosely around his hip, his hand pinning her elbow, her fingers in his long hair until they are half-holding, half-wrestling each other’s bodies.

“You smell like the sun,” he murmurs once the skip in her pulse has calmed, his wide nose near her neck, his teeth on her ear. He can lick the dust from her skin.

“You don’t smell like anything, old man.”

She pushes a palm into his face, the coarseness of his beard scratching her fingertips. He nips at her knuckles until she laughs again. It’s a sound like the wind through fresh grass. He’s more used to her nighttime sounds, to her sighs like nightingales and her vixen cries. Lene grins with her hair in her eyes and feels his body move above hers, his hands anchoring at her hips, until she’s rolled and is straddling his sharp waist. One of his palms slips across her stomach, pushing the fabric of her shirt up.

He raises an eyebrow at the bruise blossoming against her ribs and the welts only freshly fading.

“What is this?” Roman asks.


He digs his fingers in, hard enough to hurt, and sees the way Lene tries to hide her wince. She sighs, a huff of annoyance, reaching down to halt his hand by his wrist. “Nothing. The usual contenders, welcoming me home.”

“Ah, I see. You disappointed them by bringing me here, so they doubt you. Do you want me to eat them?”

“Oh, that’ll help. You’re a thousand-year-old child.”

Roman’s expression goes blank like ivory. He bites his own thumb then smears the blood across her welts. Lene accepts this, her eyelids shivering at the sensation of pinpricks near her ribs. Gradually, she shifts her weight, stretching herself slowly above him, bracketing his head with her elbows, the ends of her hair trailing across his collarbones, making a curtain around his long face.

“You don’t know what it’s like. A family. A pack.” she whispers.

“A nest. We call them nests, and they are dangerous. They breed stupidity and hunger and greed, liebchen.”

“Not here. It’s different here. We’re different.”

He tucks a piece of hair behind her ear, a soft gesture unlike almost all of his others. “So everyone thinks, kid.” He doesn’t ask what she means – which we she is referencing. Him or her family.

In the brief silence that follows, she touches his forehead with hers. Roman’s sinewy – not as broad around the chest as Lene had originally surmised him being, his narrow figure hidden behind heavy jackets and expensive suits, his length tapering into a finely muscled abdomen and defined hips sharp enough to batter against her thighs – but he’s a brick of a man. She can feel his solidity beneath her, his cold strength that has become a comfort to her, and for a moment it is enough. She had wanted to tell him about family, about a kinship different than heredity and genetics, how blood and bond can forge affinity, but she thinks he already understands. He’s simultaneously been a lover and a son, a father and a brother. She’s still not sure how to articulate her place in the history of his personal hierarchy; she doesn’t know how to ask.

Lene feels it as part of her desire, all those anxious and burning pains she’s felt low in her belly ever since they crossed the desert in Knight’s SUV.

Roman doesn’t wait. He feels the way her hunger is a quake, an ache that matches his, and sits them up. His arms circle her slender back, his fingers sliding along the nape of her neck until he can fist the blonde length of hair. She loops her arms around his shoulders, kissing him softer than she had intended to. She appreciates it when he bites her bottom lip; she likes it more when it’s rough, when she can feel the push and pull of him linger on her body.

“Your brother,” he says afterwards, when they are naked and lying close together, speaking against the curve of her arm, “do I have to call him Alpha too?”

Lene rolls her eyes. “Shut up.”

“He has longer hair than I pictured.”

“As if you ever sat around picturing my brother.”

“And his friend. He has long hair too.”

“Is this really what you want to be doing? Talking about men?” She shoves her wrist against his mouth, her skin knocking against his teeth. “Isn’t it feeding time?”

Roman does not respond to the bait. “I am wondering if you have a pattern. In the type of men who hold your affections.” He smirks, and she can feel the tiny stretch of his lips.

She punches him in the shoulder. “You’re a dick.”

His face splits when he laughs, his mouth wide and teeth white. His eyes crinkle at the edges. (This is how she likes to think of him when he’s being particularly difficult, when she’s having trouble deciphering whether his morals exist, or when his smug leers infuriate her. His laughter makes him surprising; he’s humanized by it.)

Outside the bedroom, all the way on the deck, Anders can hear the muddled sounds of Roman’s laugh traveling up through the maze of corridors. It pierces his ears like a warning signal.

The pack follows Anders. The majority keep their distance from Roman and are less than warm to Lene. They watch her with judgmental gazes. They whisper behind her back. But even this is a kind of homecoming. A familiar burden. It is Roman that she is unsure of, watching his tall figure stalking the trails, learning the area’s geography by night. She tags along too often, feeling like an unwanted shadow in her own house, showing him the paths from her childhood and the worn parts of the mountain that hide their secrets from the world.

After a week, she is still uncertain, still aware of the tense mood lingering around the trainers in the fighting pits, the old women stocking the storage units in the caverns, the children as they bathe, her brother as he watches.

She doesn’t think any of the pack has spoken to Roman outside of formal introductions, so she’s surprised to see a girl marching up to them as they descend a cliff path close to the main house, Lene’s boots skidding against the rock. Roman is a step ahead of her, pushing a hand back through his hair, glancing past the approaching figure to the giant face of the moon behind her. Lene realizes the girl is Rebecca, a brunette whose grown three feet since Lene saw her last, her body now at the brink of womanhood.

“Mama says you’re dead.” Rebecca tells Roman before Lene can even say hello, sure in her wording, her freckled arms folded over her chest in the age-old stance of adolescent defiance.

Everything about her is skinny, from her waist to her legs. Even her hair is thin, like straw, and Lene, still half-bent from where she’d been brushing the mountain grit off her legs, sucks in an air of breath without meaning too. He’ll eat her alive, she thinks, craning her head to the left to judge Roman’s reaction.

He arches an eyebrow but keeps his tone even. “Your mother sounds like an observant woman,” he says, glancing sideways at Lene with a hint of amusement in his hazel eyes.

“What do your teeth look like?” Rebecca asks, unabashed.

Lene waves her hands in the air in a gesture of shock. “Hello, rudeness alert. Young lady, you go tell your mama that I -” She’s cut off by the sound of Roman’s snarl and the way his body shifts in her periphery. He puts his hands on his thighs, crouching forward into Rebecca’s young face with the same predatory swiftness that Lene has come to know well. She finds herself holding her breath again, seeing his face contort, seeing the savagery in his expression and the glint of the moon on his descended fangs. Rebecca yelps in surprise, shrinking back.

Lene can see Anders, ten feet off, stalking towards them. She grabs Roman’s arm hard and pulls, but he is stone, not budging, and to her surprise Rebecca’s yelp has turned to giggling.

“Cool!” the girl exclaims with a grin, and Lene realizes Roman is smiling.

He doesn’t move when Rebecca touches one of his fangs with the tip of her finger, feeling the point.

“That’s enough,” Anders declares once he’s within earshot.

Rebecca lingers until Lene gives her a hard look, then she drops her hand reluctantly, stepping around and partly behind her legs. Lene places her hand atop the girl’s head, watching her brother watch Roman with open disapproval. Roman retracts his fangs before standing. He has to look down at Anders, a fact that Lene knows irritates him more.

“Is this where you tell me that I am a guest, and I should behave myself?” he asks, and Lene elbows his side.

Anders frowns. “You’re a guest,” he says, but nothing else.

Roman makes a noncommittal noise, not quite a hum, before continuing down the path towards the cabin. His shoulder hits Anders in passing, and he growls even though he’s staring at Lene.

“It will get better,” she tells her brother, squaring her shoulders despite her desire to expose the vulnerable white of her belly.

It starts with the children, so for a while Lene thinks she’s right.

Children are less carved by the word, more resilient and able to see past the fears of others. Rebecca becomes the ringleader, the springboard for the others to use as a gauge in ways that Lene can never be. Rebecca is not different; she was born into the pack and embraced by it – normal in all of their eyes. Willful. Beautiful only in her gracelessness and growing coltish limbs. She has a horse’s wild heart, the beast inside of her passed down from her father’s line, skipping the predator that is her mother’s shape.

She lingers near Roman during dinner hours, quiet except for the occasional smile she sends in his direction, until the lingering becomes a welcoming. When Roman slips down the mountain, headed towards the cold night sands of the desert, she follows his tracks dutifully. They return before dawn, sometimes side-by-side, sometimes with her legs thrown over his shoulders and her body hunched above him, her arms gripping his neck like winding ropes. They morph into one large figure, an amalgamation of monsters.

Before long, the pair doubles. Triples. Forms a group.

Harper has a lisp, but Roman smells scales beneath her skin, and a cunning that belies her shy speech. Isaac has eyes as dark as sage. He smells like forest things, like ancient oaks, but he barely comes to Roman’s thigh. Judah never speaks. He tags along reluctantly. Rebecca says he was rescued from the worst of the drifter cities only a few months ago; she’s surprised he follows at all. Bailey is the loudest – braying with laughter easily, the most untouched by hardship, the loveliest in her innocence – and she likes to cling to Roman’s elbow until he lifts his arm, her feet dangling above the ground, toes dragging over rocks and dust.

Lene keeps her face impassive except for when she grins at Knight’s raised eyebrow and shrugs a shoulder. She doesn’t say anything.

Sometimes she joins in their walks. Sometimes they tussle like she used to when she was their age. She lets their young bodies pile into and over her. She gets elbows in her face, knees in her ribs, laughter in her ear. Roman plucks them off of her one by one. He hooks them by their arms or the backs of their shirts and calls her name, searching for her beneath a pile of squirming kids. As easily as pulling weeds after a fresh rain. Their fingers splay, grasping at empty air. Once, Lene tackled Roman head-first, his arm still circled around Harper’s waist, and the three of them had caused tracks in the dirt.

He’d looked up at her from the ground, a smear of grit across his cheek, and laughed.

Harper had butted her head against Lene’s and scrambled over them, reaching for Judah’s nearby leg. When Lene stood, she’d offered Roman her hand like she’d done it a hundred times.

“Tell us about before,” Rebecca had demanded on their return back.

“Before?” Roman asked, picking a shrub from Lene’s hair.

“Before this, she means.” Bailey clarified.

“There was more color,” Roman said, “and men were kinder.”

Lene had looked at him with disbelief. Men had always burned hearts, her grandmother had said, but she appreciates the lie for what it is.

It’s better, she had thought. It’s getting better.

It isn’t the first time she’s been wrong.
you're too young & eager to love
10 November 2016 @ 12:07 pm
“Mein Kommandant,” she murmurs, her mouth like blood, rich in crimson, pressed to his cold ear. “Aufwachen.”

He reaches, his hand settling against the side of her face. He smears his thumb, hard, across her lips.

She had a smallness about her that belied her true strength. Adira had large hands with dull nails, but she was delicate everywhere else. Her weak chin, her thin lips, her half-sunken eyes and the sharpness of her bones. He could count her ribs when she stretched her arms above her head.

He liked to drag his teeth over the ridges and dips of skeleton beneath her skin. Her sliver of hip. The round rock of bone where her hand met her wrist. The threat of her severe elbow. The protruding twin icicles that were her collarbones.

He is a statue in comparison, a solid, perfect specimen of the male form, all his bones and muscles carved into an ideal shape. She could straddle his prone body and feel weightless above him or hide beneath, sheltered by his formidable width, a brittle carcass tucked close to his heart. She would place her palm against his side and stomach and follow the cut of his body with her long fingers. There is a deep line on either side of his abdomen, charting his hips, that she liked to trace.

Roman remembers her in snow. The crunch of her heavy boots on ice, how pale she was, in a world blanketed in white. The black of her leather riding crop in her hand. The collar of her uniform turned up against her neck and cheeks.

He remembers her in cut-off dresses, thin fabric slashed off at the thigh, the brightness from a pearl dangling from her left ear. He remembers when she used to speak French, her most fluent language, and the syrupy quality of her voice. She used to smell first of man’s cologne and then of cigarette ash; there was no bottom note, no lasting scent (he knows it is the same with him). This was an era of decadence, before the wars, with jarring, feverish music and never ending liquor.

The blood boiled then.

She sinks her teeth into his wrist and feels the groan leave his mouth.

The blood is thick, primordial, sticky with strength. It splashes hot against her tongue. Roman takes her own arm to his mouth and completes the circle.
you're too young & eager to love
05 November 2016 @ 08:10 pm
At my Muffin's request, some Roman and Harrow and Lene!


There’s a dinner of roasted lamb and salted oysters, glasses full of wine and whiskey, the scent of cigarettes and cigars muddling the smell of fresh meat in a layer of ash. Roman does not eat; he helps the women to the seats instead, picturing the long columns of their throats and how vivid their blood must be. There’s so many heartbeats, all of them thundering in his ears. Arletta’s is weak, sporadic. It lessens the more she drinks. He pours her three glasses of chardonnay, one after the other, and watches her pick at the assortment of desert fruit on her place, how she sucks the pieces into her mouth, her sly eyes never straying from Harrow’s thin lips.

The room is hot from the amount of bodies present – the couples, the affluent men of power, the bodyguards and companions – but Roman alone is cool to the touch. Women find reasons to press their fingers to his wrists and do not wonder why.

Harrow grins at him from across the table, a wolf in gentleman’s clothing.

They have this in common.

They have many things in commons.

Afterwards, Arletta whispers something into the shell of Harrow’s ear, her hand slipping invitingly across his arm when she steps away. A linger and a promise. Lene follows her, the black lace and sequins of her dress catching the candlelight, her face stoic in its impassiveness.

“She’s very pretty.”

“Who’s that now?” Roman does not lift his eyes. He has moved on to business now that the hour is late and the swarm of guests has departed. He feels the hair on the back of his neck stand. There’s tension in the room, a palpable warning, and none of it stems from the pile of documents spread before him on the table.

“Who’s that?” Harrow mocks with a laugh, the sound wet in his mouth, as warm as blood. (For a moment, Roman feels hungry. His teeth ache.) “Arletta’s little mouse of a guard. Though I know as well as any how deceiving looks can be with these beasts.”

He knows better than to say he hasn’t noticed. Instead, he tells Harrow that they’re all pretty – it’s a shame, a waste of good looks on a lowly set of DNA. With a sigh, he crumples one of the papers in his large hand, the Minister’s official seal a hard clump of wax in his palm. “Your sister is a pain in the ass. She’s ordering new pamphlets on the spread of disease - ”

“Why are you changing the subject?”

“What subject is that?”

“Ita sees everything, you know. She’s rather astute. She reminds me of that which I have forgotten.”

Roman looks. He’s forgotten the swan. She’s as still as a statue, perfectly poised, kneeling beside Harrow’s seat. He wonders how many even noticed her throughout dinner, if Arletta had stepped over her as others step through ghosts. He settles back into his own chair, grinning. “Are you spying on me now, brother? At least give me another drink before you interrogate me.”

Harrow laughs again – the same sound as before, the simulacrum of a laugh. He passes the bottle of whiskey though, feigning good nature, and Roman refills his glass himself.

“No, no. It’s alright. I have thought all this time that you have been so much the soldier. The red right hand. But here you are … hot blooded after all, I’m relieved. I don’t know how I never saw it before. How long has she been visiting you? Does Arletta know? We pulled the security cameras. She was seen outside of your room four times before you left to check the Eastern perimeters. Four times.”

Roman drinks. He is slow in his movements. “Du bist verruckt, bruder.”

Harrow grins. He leans forward, an elbow on his knee, his left hand forming a threatening point. “Now see, that’s very good. That language of yours. You only speak it when you’re drunk, but by my count that is your first drink of the evening. I, too, am astute. What’s her name?”

“You know her name.”

“She must be very talented or you must be very much enthralled to have kept her a secret so long. Arletta will be disappointed, however, to know that her own bodyguard has been fraternizing under her nose. She doesn’t like surprises, that woman. I would hate for her –”

“What would you hate, Harrow? This is getting boring, and I have work to get done. So say it. What do you want?” He is too sudden, too quick with his tone. There is a flare of annoyance in his voice that Harrow notices, and it is as if Roman has suddenly shown all of his cards.

“I am only hurt that you have not bothered to share, considering how gracious I have been with my own gifts.” He places his hand on Ita’s head, his fingers stroking her pale hair. “It is a curtsey that I even ask, you understand.”

Roman’s smile splits his mouth the way a fist might. He is all teeth. “You call this asking? If you want to fuck the bitch, fuck her. But if she calls out my name instead of yours, tell yourself it’s only from habit.”

For a moment, Harrow wraps his hand into a fist, Ita’s hair caught between his fingers. “Ah, defensive I see. Would you like to watch?”

It is his turn to laugh, and Roman’s is not like Harrow’s – full of bitterness and threats – but strong, barking. “I’ve seen enough of you as it is. My imagination will be adequate, I assure you.”

They do not shake hands, but they might as well.

Lene is out of her dress when he finds her in his room. He sees it, still catching the dim light, laying over his lone chair. She has swapped the lace for one of his white dress shirts, the sleeves rolled up on her slender arms, but the buttons undone so that he can see all the expanse of her flesh. She is a canvas like this – entirely fresh – waiting for his markings to color her.

“I only have a few minutes, but that dress was torture. I thought you would be hungry after all that meat and those women. Do you even notice how they look at you anymore?” She’s smiling, her voice easy, her movements languid when she slides from the center of his bed to sit on the edge.

“I’m not looking at them, liebling.”


He smiles, but the swiftness of his movements do not match the softness of his sentiments. He crosses the room in three strides, a strong pillar wrapped in a suit, and leans his face into the tender crook of her neck when she wraps her arms around him. He thinks he hears her laugh when he kisses her skin, her shoulder, the inside of her elbow. He bites at her collarbone, her fingers tangling into his coarse hair, murmurs a spread of German over the top of her breasts.

She tugs on a fistful of his hair. “Casanova, we’re running out of time.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“I would ask if you died, but …”

Roman chuckles, a cinnamon sound warm enough to blanket his nerves, and slinks to his knees. He’s still tall. He has to dip his head to press his mouth to her stomach. She smells like grass and mountains, heat from the surrounding desert, and blackberries. When he kisses her hip and licks the salt from the skin, she tugs on his hair again, pulling his head back taut so that she can finally see his eyes. “What’s going on? You’re acting … this is different. Did something happen?”

“Keep pulling and I’ll want to use these fangs.”


He does not sigh. He has never quite mastered that sound – the frustration or distress it requires to be believable. He settles back on his ankles, half disappointed by the easy way Lene releases her grip. She has a beautiful face he realizes, not for the first time. Her mouth is full and plush. He wants to tell her that he reminds her of a doll when she’s like this and that all things deserve to be cherished, even the ones who are strong enough not to need it. He wants to tell her that if he were a different man, he would be more frightened, more possessive, more capable. He wants to tell her that she is a weakness for him.

Instead, he says nothing.

He blames the whiskey for his softness, watching as she removes his shirt and slips back into her dress. He lets her go.

Much like Harrow, his words are only good for biting.
you're too young & eager to love
03 January 2015 @ 01:23 pm
I don't feel like cutting this, even though it's technically a rape scene. Although perhaps not from Roman's perspective, which is all types of distressing.

I have a picture of Roman in his suit that I wanted to upload, but I can't seem to get it to work. Poo.


Roman likes to watch. His kind has always been voyeuristic – it’s in his nature, to lurk, to stalk. He has been so accustomed to his role on the sidelines that he had not thought himself such an esteemed player; Harrow’s gift, then, resonates as a point of pride. Here at least, he thinks, when Harrow claps him on the shoulder and offers him his treasured swan over a tumbler of whiskey. As though they were exchanging cigars.

It’s a three-minute conversation. 180 seconds and Ita is his.

He sits so perfectly still, a tall, imposing figure wrapped in a white suit, perched on the edge of a white bed, caught in a white room. Ita thinks he may have chosen the color intentionally, as though he might be less intimidating in a shade that connotes innocence. His undershirt is checkered and silk; the watch on his left wrist is knotted silver, a present from Harrow’s father. He smells a little of bitter oranges and black pepper but there is a curious absence about him – an emptiness. The type of bleached bone smell found in desert carcasses and skeletal husks. The absence of scent.

Ita smells like disinfectant and another man. Another shifter, to be precise. Roman breathes deep. Even after returning to the compound, she still smells like her mate. Wild dog and spotted fur. Shifting sands. The rot of heartbreak. It’s buried in her skin, in her hair, under her nails. He’s sure her blood would be sour with it. There are other, fresher smells layered above. Blood and sweat and the virile scent of fear.

She is not naked. Her dress is thin, the translucent thread of a spider’s web; he can see her ribcage through the fabric, the pink of her nipples, the soft shadow of hair between her thighs. She has been washed and made new once more – virginal, ethereal, with her blonde hair free about her shoulders and down her back, her eyes wide, too full of emotion, and framed in golden lashes. Her eyebrows are very pale, he notices, and her face is devoid of laugh lines. Not surprising, considering her history. Harrow, he knows, is a barbarian posing as a gentleman at best.

He supposes he could say the same about himself. He knows some already do, though never to his face.

“Have a seat, Ita. I won’t bite.” His voice sounds too big for the room, and it fills every inch, pressing in on her. He hasn’t moved, but he extends his hand in a gesture.

When she settles on her knees on the cold floor, Roman thinks this is a small way of defying him. She could have chosen the bed. He arches an eyebrow, grins in a way that is unkind, and scratches his jaw. He can feel the winged thing inside of her flutter and her eyes shift, uncertain. Her pulse quickens, and he wonders if she feels more caged now, here, with him than before. If it has something to do with his reputation or more to do with what she must sense about him – that scentless quality, that cold emptiness.

“Do you remember me?” This is a silly question, he thinks, considering that he had only just returned with her two weeks ago, but he’s always wondered how bright the girl is.

“… I know who you are.” She speaks so softly, her mouth barely moving to shape the words.

Unlike Harrow, Roman has never been fond of meek women, of passivity, but this world, their world, offers fewer and fewer of the fairer sex that possess legitimate backbones. He thinks of Lene, suddenly, and her round face, the flippant way she speaks, the butter shade of her hair, her iron left hook. Lene would not kneel on the floor, her knees naked and cold. Lene would not hide her eyes from him.

He’s hungry, thinking about her, and he rubs the back of his hand across his mouth.

Abruptly, for emphasis, he claps his hands together once, the first quick movement he’s made and Ita startles. “Ah, good! So reminders are not needed then. Do you know why you are here?”

She shakes her head slowly and, for the first time, she seems to account for the bed and its pristine, snow colored sheets. There’s the flutter of her pulse again, and Roman feels that familiar ache deep in his groin, an insatiable thirst, a gnawing pain.

“Hm. Well, it appears, due to your recent behavior, that Harrow is, as I am sure you are aware, displeased with you. Nonetheless, one person’s loss is, as they say, another’s gain. While you, my dear, may have lowered yourself in his eyes, I have, on account of my resourcefulness and success in retrieving you, raised myself. Which is quite a deed, I may add, seeing as how I am already so well received, being Albtraum’s second, however unofficially.” He speaks like an orator, like a diplomat, gesturing with his hands and keeping his eyes calmly on her. He likes how her mouth twitches in the smallest of ways, how she tries to shield the flush of color rising to her skin, as though she might will it away by sheer desire.

“What I am trying to say, Ita, is that you have been gifted to me. Temporarily. … For the evening, as it seems.”

She blinks her bright eyes at him, poised but uncertain.

“Do you understand?”

“Yes,” she says, but Roman knows it’s only because she has been trained to answer all direct questions.

“Come here, mein vogel. Meine perle.”

Roman has undone his jacket, draped it over the corner of the bed, and he works the buttons of his shirt slowly, precisely.

Ita’s hands shake, but she rises and moves with practiced elegance. He can smell the despair in her stomach, and her breathing is stifled, pained, soft little gasps of air. When her knees brush his, her hem playing over the fabric of his pants, he reaches up to unclasp the hook of her dress from behind her neck. She has a beautiful throat, long and white, and he spreads his fingers up her collar, over the curve of her cheek, to brush his thumb under her eye where tears have sprung, like violent traitors, and clung to her eyelashes.

“Chin up, girl.” He tells her, the smooth rumble of his voice neither kind nor cruel. “None of that now. You can pretend I’m him, hmm? That dog of yours.”

He takes her from behind, like a beast, a hand caught in her hair, the other splayed across her hip, because he thinks this is how she must prefer it. He stretches his weight across her back, his mouth on her neck, the top of her spine, between her shoulder blades. He takes and he takes and she suffers the impossible burden of him, his heaviness and his hunger.

Roman is not quick. He bides his time, grounding himself in the moment, in the pleasure of the experience, in the feel of her. Her bones are brittle, and he bruises her when he forgets himself, clutching her pale skin and seeming all the more like a predator.

Once it’s over, once it’s done, he collects himself with languid ease. He fastens his pants and buttons his shirt, runs his finger back through his disheveled hair, collecting it at the nape of his neck. He leaves Ita wrapped in the sheets as he does this, her pretty, delicate fingers shifting the cotton soundlessly so as to cover her body. When he presses a kiss to her forehead, chaste and like a stranger, she flinches against him, the heat and flush of her body a poor indicator of her true feelings.

Lene is already waiting for him in his quarters. He is wearing his jacket again, but it’s unbuttoned, and the sleeves are rolled up so that she can see his forearms. He sits in a threadbare upholstered chair, elbows on his knees, fingers laced under his chin. She stands, her jeans dirty and ripped; there’s mud on her sneakers, and the shirt she is wearing is so thin that he can see the outlines of her breast. When she lifts her arms, the bottom of her stomach shows, glimpses of soft, vulnerable flesh. He’d like to put his mouth there, below her navel, and then lower still.

“You smell like her.” Lene tosses her words into the air, quick and dry, but they sound flavorless.

“I imagine she smells like me as well.”

“Like a corpse?”

Roman barks a laugh, and his grin is wolfish, charming. “I have yet to hear you complain. What is this, Lene? Jealousy? From a girl of mine?” He tsks, low and chiding.

Lene grinds her teeth so hard that it’s audible. Her face has the crumpled look of disgust and anger. There are no tears in her eyes, which he is grateful for. She shrugs uncomfortably in her own skin, tugs at her shirt, pushes away her hair. Her gestures are jerky, as though she’s restraining herself, but not sure why.

“You could have said no. You could have never returned with her.”

Roman laughs again, the same biting sound. “I could have?”

“Did you enjoy it? Did you think of me to make it more bearable? Did you do that thing I like?”

“Which thing?”

It’s Lene’s turn to laugh, the sound like a trumpet, and she fights the urge to put her hands on her hips, to stand like a petulant child. She catches her bottom lip between her teeth, and Roman wants to sooth her. To take her face in his hands. But that type of comfort is beyond them now, caught in an ivory bird’s feathers.

When the silence settles, he stands, shrugging. “What do you want me to say?”

“I want you … to enjoy it less.”

He sighs, fixated on her, on the anger that is radiating from her. For a moment, he thinks of letting her hit him. Of taking her fists until the bones in his cheeks and jaw shatter, till the blood breaks from his mouth, before his body heals itself and then maybe they could be connected by the pain of it.

“Want less then,” He chides, meaning to smirk, but his mouth can’t quite manage the lift.
you're too young & eager to love
02 January 2015 @ 05:08 pm
This is long! And okay, I guess. I started with a distinct plan and then wrote porn and then tried to connect the porn with the plot. So, pay attention to the end when the link gets pretty thin.

Cut for length.

That's what she said.

Inspired, somewhat, by Roman's expression in this photo -

Read more... )
you're too young & eager to love
21 September 2014 @ 07:00 pm
Aaaaah. I don’t really know what I’m doing. I was happy with this, once upon a time, but I kept fiddling with it and it somehow got more jumbled in the editing process. Maybe? It just looks very different from what it was like when it started. I don’t think that’s how editing is supposed to work. Or it could be because I edited while sick. Sick!brain has never helped anyone.

The timing for this is all over the place. Aaaalllll over the place. It’s supposed to be when Roman and Lene are with her pack in the desert after they’re forced to flee the Compound, with flashbacks from previously. But I had to scrap the flashbacks because they weren’t working. I also tried to incorporate Calev. Maybe I’m trying to tackle too much.


Here we go.


I am having a private conversation with my sister.

My sister, Anders says, the way another man might have said my wife back when strangers used to ask to intercede on a dance.

Lene notices it, and her mouth crinkles into a smirk that makes Roman’s perpetually wolfish grin flash all the more dangerously. She shrugs dismissively, and Anders sighs with all the pent up frustration of a leader tired of mediating between the fine line of duty and obligation.

She punches him on his shoulder playfully (which does everything except help) as she ducks beneath the flap of the tent opening, circling close to Roman, his fingers already hooking into the crook of her elbow. It’s a territorial hold. She wonders just when that happened – when the way he held her changed from a predator’s snarl to a lover’s claim. Lene thinks there’s only so much difference between the two, but it’s enough.

Outside, the fires are burning, blazing, shielding them from the cold of the wasteland. There are children here. They dart between campgrounds, playing, momentarily fearless, while the adults prepare the beds for the evening, finish the cleaning from dinner. A few pass around skins of wine while trading stories or smoke the last remaining cigars that have traveled with them for thousands of miles. Lene absorbs everything, as though her thirst has just now, within these past few nights, been quenched. She can breathe again.

Roman, as she expected, adjusts quickly. She is still getting used to the sight of him – unwrapped from his meticulous suits, free of a silk tie, his cedar hair brushing into his eyes and against the wide span of his jaw, scraping the back of his neck. He wears shirts of linen, pushing up the sleeves, and old jeans that they stole from abandoned homes. He either does not feel the sand – how it gets everywhere – or he does not mind it. He looks as threadbare as the rest of them, but it’s not his appearance that causes the others to distance himself. He is, yet again, one amongst hundreds. These are shifters, and they smell the curious emptiness of his bones, the lingering scent of death that is buried somewhere in his veins. Lene thinks back to that first night, after the remnants of cactus salad and rice had been cleared (the type of substance he does not touch). Roman had insisted on helping the women as they cleaned with an intensity that had almost frightened them. So, Lene had passed him battered dish after battered dish, studying him. It was as if he were doing some sort of penance. She watched as he braced himself against the well, handling each plate and spoon like a relic, careful to use as little water as possible. He never joined the conversation around them.

They all look at him, the seemingly young man with his meager wardrobe and deceptively soft voice, and think he’s bringing death in his wake. Then they look at Lene, and they try to understand, just like they always have.


He’s not as standoffish as he seems, doesn’t flinch or pull back when she burrows into his shoulder or takes his hand, even in front of others. Never one to initiate contact, though, except in bed, where he’s got the surest hands she’s ever known. Sometimes she finds fingertip-bruises on her hipbones, circling her thighs. He notices once but the knowledge does not gentle him.

She thought he would like her less soft, that he might like smooth planes to feminine curves, but she finds that he favors her female shape. He doesn’t say so, but she knows – he prefers her as a woman, because it was as a woman that he could truly make her his. A quick tear. A deep plunge.

Roman never asks if she enjoys it; he doesn’t need to. He is aware of every flutter in her pulse, every raised degree in body temperature, the imperceptible tightening of thigh muscles; she knows he knows when a wicked grin crosses his face. She’d like to see his control crack, to see desperation and desire cross his face, watch him shatter in her hands. She might have, once—the file The Insurgence has on him suggested that Roman had been a bruised, fragile thing when he first arrived—but the man she knows now seems like an outcropping of stone, weather-warped but upright and unmovable.

Some people are rocks in a river. Lene is already beginning to suspect that she’ll have to divert her course for him.


It’s almost a year of them working together (being together?) at the Compound before he tells her about Calev. It doesn’t bother her much that he waited so long to tell her; she’s seen the closing of enough lives, both suddenly and slowly, to know that grief is not a straight line, that there are no rules for how long it will take to pass. It bothers her, though—in some ill-defined way that she doesn’t want to examine too closely—that he had told Harrow the night they met (she knows this because the conversation was overheard, and even here the walls still talk, and although it was only a shred of the true story, it is enough for her to feel bothered now).

His past is a mass grave that she stands at the edge of, peering down, trying to make out the shapes of corpses. Trying not to fall in after them.

He can tell immediately by her lack of surprise that she already knew, and the raw, open look on his face shuts down immediately, like the slamming of a heavy door. It’s not her fault, she tells herself angrily after he’s left; Roman understands how debriefings work, and he had willingly provided all of the information in his file to the council. More importantly, she had never asked to be partnered with a man who, after all his hundreds of years, could not put his grief into words.

Sometimes, she thinks she’s just something there to fill in the space left by the ones who came before her. She doesn’t say this to him, but she wonders if their life together is an experiment on his part, an attempt at walking around in the world like one of the living.

She pities him. But this time it isn’t enough.

This world has no need for pity.

you're too young & eager to love
12 August 2014 @ 11:18 pm
This is why you shouldn't write after drinking a bottle of wine. I have no idea what purpose this serves. Oh well!


He is not an easy man in any sense of the word. In truth, he is difficult. He is arrogant and pompous and he makes friends with everyone’s enemies. He claps Harrow on the shoulder like a brother, laughs in sport at the brutality of the cage fights, and slides his palm up the thighs of adolescent companions. He has a mouth that is cruel one moment and kind the next. His eyes are vacant but not the vacancy of stupidity. Instead, he knows how to measure a person with a single sweep of his gaze. His ability to be charming depends on what he can acquire from who he is charming; he is still a soldier above all else and such a position requires cunning.

He watches Lene like a hawk – the pull of her muscles beneath her skin, the stoic and statuesque way she stands behind Arletta, the way her eyes can’t help but dart to Harrow’s swan. He sizes her up and finds her wanting. But while she leans against crates, listening to a list of orders from her charge, Roman thinks about the blood beneath her skin – wet and so hot that he would swear it’s close to boiling. He’s never drunk from a shifter before. He’s heard of old rumors, myths and folklore, about certain bloods being better than human transactions. But it’s not her taste that keeps him wondering. It’s the challenge, the quest, the ache for dominance. He would pin her by her throat and sink into her memories, taste all her bitterness and fear and lust and childhood pining. He would make her arch against him, feel the brittleness of her bones, sip from her heart’s core until she groaned and asked for more.

Thinking about it makes his fangs ache.

She’s feisty, and he supposes that he appreciates that. He’s forgotten how to interact with women who possess a backbone. All the women surrounding him are delicate, desperate flowers, barring Kim who is leather and razor-edged. He can’t tell if it annoys or interests him more. Part of him wants to teach her a lesson, and he can hear Adira scolding him, feel her lifeless breath against the nape of his neck. She was always the lesson-giver, the educator, the one who could conquer and explain. But he shouldn’t make assumptions – one woman is not another, and he’s waiting to test Lene’s spirit.


It happens in the desert. It happens at night, and he’s hungry, hearing her heartbeat in time with the song of the cicadas. Maybe she’s said something that irritates him, another flippant remark about his loyalty or history or being. Maybe she turned her head the wrong way, rolled her eyes like a petulant child, or shifted her weight to one hip. But it happens, so suddenly that he has a hand around her throat, her body pressed to the shifting sand beneath their feet, and he’s snarling like a feral dog. She laughs at him, but her eyes slant like a carnivore’s and she shoves him away from her with an ease that startles him. He catches her by the elbow when she tries to roll to her side, grabs her hair in his fist, and they wrestle on the slipping slope of a dune. He is larger than her – a hulking bear of a man, carved from marble, impossible to move – but she slides with him as though she is water eroding his sharp edges.

The air around them is frenzied, the heat of scorpion stings. He can feel the urge in her to shift, and he’s laughing at the idea of tackling a mountain goat when she slams an elbow into his ribs. He doesn’t need to breathe but it knocks the air out of him anyway. She scrambles to her hands and knees, throwing sand into his eyes, but he splits her lip when his knuckles collide with her baby doll’s mouth. The cut heels before he has the impulse to run his tongue across it.

Her hair whips across his face, falling free from its braid, and they roll against each other for the second time. She seems to wrap herself around him, her fingers digging into the sensitive joints of his bones, and Roman wraps an arm around her neck and shoulders, his left hand pushing against her hip. Their bodies can’t seem to decide who is winning and the victory is still not declared even when his teeth pierce the vein in her neck. Even when he drinks, she bucks against him.

Afterwards, he straightens his tie and beats the sand out of his jacket while Lene re-braids her hair slowly, rubbing at her neck as though she expects his marks to remain there.


The next time he sees her she is dressed in lace and silk. She’s snuck away from one of the compound’s formal engagements, untangled herself from Arletta’s grasp, and walked steadily to Roman’s barren quarters. She sits strictly on the edge of his Spartan bed, and he pushes against her, tall and invasive and breathing in the smell of her sweat and the shampoo she used earlier. He lifts her arm and presses his nose to her wrist, drags it up to her elbow, and she resists the urge to push her hand against his face. She can feel the scratch of his beard against her skin, prickling. He nips at the inside of her upper arm and she jerks, startled by his intimacy. Roman lets his fangs detract, a sound that is nearly audible, and scratches her collarbone with his teeth.

“… You’re wet. I can smell it.” It’s the first thing he’s said and the words are half buried in the crook of her neck. She can feel his smirk against her throat, and she finds herself leaning towards him when his fingers skirt the hem of her dress, lightly brushing the back of his knees.

“I thought this was a business transaction.” Lene nudges her forehead against his, playful yet somehow stern.

“It doesn’t have to be.”

This time, she does push her hand against his mouth, moving his jaw, scraping her nails across his beard. “Let me know when you have a heartbeat.”

Roman laughs and, like a gentlemen, he moves away with the slow confidence of a man who is acquainted with waiting.
you're too young & eager to love
15 July 2014 @ 07:00 pm
This is unfinished, but I sometimes wait too long to return to a piece and then I have difficulty picking things back up. Blah. I blame working and grading lackluster papers.

Anyways, I wish this could be longer and have an actual ending! But my wifey-poo wanted more Chason and Ita desert moments, so here. Since they exist in the same universe as Roman and Lene, I figured it wasn't cheating on our current storyline.




That is what the watchmen and guards must tell Harrow, although the official report of the incident will say: escaped (abduction possible but not probable).

It doesn’t seem likely, even with the power outage and thus the failed footage from the security cameras, that two of the compound’s occupants managed to escape so quickly (they’re never labeled prisoners - in fact Ita’s file clearly marks her as a companion and all the receipts for her various legal transactions, ending with the one baring Harrow’s father’s signature, are included. Chason is merely called a donor but of what his file does not say). The desert surrounding the area is vast but hardly impenetrable; there is little protection from the environment and even fewer places to hide. It is true that the confusion that night lasted for hours and struck a panic in every human heart, making the blame difficult to place. Some of the holding cells’ automatic locks were released when the power broke and rumors of half-human beasts, grotesquely frozen in mid-change, clawing the throats of every civilian they encountered, spread like wildfire. The affluent hid behind their prized and paid for guards, too ignorant to fear the possibility of anarchy, while the armed men fired their guns at shadows too quickly and too often.

In Harrow’s arrogance, he had never thought to check on Ita, so it is only when the power is restored that he finds her missing.

An eight-hour lapse in judgment.

When she is not found in a week, it is only Roman that will dare to say to him – perhaps, perhaps she should just be let go. There will be others. There are always others.

But Roman does not understand, cannot understand, for how, Harrow demands, how can he let go of what is clearly his?


Chason knows this world. He has prowled and hunted for years, surviving on sweets hidden within the barren lands. He knows how maps can be made by the moon and stars, how to follow the light on the horizon, and he remembers all the dilapidated shacks that still exist as icons from a different time.

Eight hours is enough – half of it spent as beasts, the other in human skin, and all of it cloaked by the deception of night.

The human’s drugs (forcibly injected twice a day – he has the marks to prove it) make it impossible for him to keep his dog-like form for very long. When they stand on two legs, he must drag Ita up the dunes by the elbow, persistent and overbearing. Her body gets tangled in the burdensome layers of her heavy skirts, her scarves that do not shield her from the burning rays of the sun once the day breaks above the horizon.

She is tired and wounded, but somehow not as wounded as he. Or so he thinks. He feels the old terror drilling inside of his heart – the constant rhythm of fire and storm and ash, half anger and half despair. Chason does not know what he has done or what his future holds, and he finds himself uncertain on the grimy, barren precipice of tomorrow.

When they finally stop to rest, Ita’s hair is thick with sand and his mouth is dry with worry.

She says, “It’s like you’re the wound, open and raw, and I am the fist full of salt.”

Chason laughs, barking and bite-like. “And here I thought I was the salt.”


He thinks it must be easier for her, in so many ways. He holds this like a bitter taste on his tongue, a prickle of cactus leaf that he’s half addicted to. A sense of self-righteousness.

But he loves how the light gets caught in her hair and the taste of the salt on her skin when he licks her collarbone.

She laughs so easily at times that it startles him.

“Is this it?” Ita asks him over a scavenged dinner against a burning desert fire.


“How freedom feels?”

He shrugs his dark shoulders, sprawled comfortably against dry wood. Freedom to him is the cackle of pack mates, the thrill of a hunt, the smell of Austin’s sweat and the somehow cruel look of her approving smile. “You tell me. Do you miss your silver platters? Your scented baths?” He sounds harsher than he means to.

Ita bites her lip, runs her fingers nervously against her knee. She has her legs tucked close to her body but she’s still cold. She doesn’t know how to tell him that all cages are not gilded and freedom is more internal than external. That now is the first time her heart feels full and flooded and that she would prefer his harshness to Harrow’s most gentle of days.

Some things take time.


During their third week, they get caught in a lightning storm. The sand around them swirls, and Ita heads for cover. Chason watches the bolts of fire and feels a laugh erupt like a threat in his chest. He forms trenches in the sand, pacing with worry. The arid heat prickles his skin, makes his hair stick up and his fists clench. He wants to shed his clothes and bury himself into the night, slink like a feral beast against the weather, bowing his head to the will of the storm and a fate that he finds unbearable to fight.

He goes to her instead and tries to lose himself, to tangle his fingers into her hair, to cradle her head within his palms and bruise her mouth with his. She is pliant and willing and too easy to mold. He thinks he can hear the beat of his heart and hers in his ears, her palms against his chest and the small of his back like irons that scald his skin, the slick crevice between her thighs acting as the anchor between their bodies. He bites her shoulders and the tender spot beneath her ear. She drags his nails over his spine in an attempt to claim him, and he laughs her name against the pale column of her throat.

Afterwards, she draws lazy circle across his chest with his fingertips and asks about children.

He does not tell her that the compound’s medicine may have sterilized him or how Austin had tried for months, craving that particular feminine need, an attempt to fill a certain void, or how her disappointment manifested in the sharpness of her bite. Instead, he nips at her ear and snickers.

“Fatherhood,” Chason says, “is best left for brutes.”

“It could have your spots.”

“With your wings?”

“The better to shock them with,” she says, laughing with mirth. A sound that rumbles against her chest.

Outside, the lightning continues to strike.

Tags: ,
you're too young & eager to love
13 June 2014 @ 02:09 pm
Some connected (I think) moments between Lene and Roman during her first week or two at the compound. Still trying to get a feel on Lene, so I meant to do this from Roman's POV but ... it didn't really go that way. She may be correct. She may not be. I don't know what correct is for her yet!

Oh well.

I didn't proof read this before posting. Fair warning. Also, copying and pasting from Word fucked up my formatting, but I'm too lazy to fix it right now.


There’s a cold room and a bright light and a sparse folder on a metal table. Roman’s hands are immaculate as he shuffles the few pages; he hardly looks at the woman in front of him, one of the newly arrived shields, but he already thinks her a child with a baby doll’s face. Her mouth is too like a cherry pit, her eyes vacant, depthless river streams. This is the debriefing, and he wishes he sometimes wasn’t entrusted to so much. There are seventy-two more arrivals left, and he has only just returned from the desert (carrying a swan under his arm and a wild dog in a crate with a smile that was all teeth). He asks the necessary questions, covers the standard material that protocol dictates, and he doesn’t suspect a thing until the wheat-haired girl cants her head with a smile and asks how hungry he is. That vacant expression that Roman suddenly realizes was well practiced slips away, and Lene’s eyes shimmer with laughter.
He cannot smell whatever fright she may feel, but he feels the old strangle of thirst turn his throat as dry as a carcass bone.
This is how contact is made.


As far as first impressions are concerned, she does not particularly like him.
Roman lets her know that he expected as much.
He is not the myth Lene was expecting. He is something that leaves her aching and uncertain, a pressure against her spine that causes her to miss her people and the mountains they belong to or even the caravans and the desert. She does not trust his eyes or how easy it is for him to play two different roles; he transitions so smoothly that she has difficulty seeing where his sincerity lies, even though they’re both living lies. It’s a dangerous game, and she can’t silence her brother’s voice in her ear – the one asking her to stay.
She never thinks he should have gone in her place.
There is a curious absence to Roman. She notices it, this nothingness that is his smell (beneath that the sordid sweetness of decay – her instincts tell her that it’s a warning, a threat of danger), when he takes her around the compound, teaching her the complicated network of tunnels and corridors. She wonders if all vampires have the same scent, and she realizes she has no one to ask. He is her first. The thought amuses her.
He shows her the infirmary, the quarters for the companions, the fighting cages, the holding pens, the loading docks, the laboratories, the East Wing that’s for all the human inhabitants, and still there’s more. The compound is far larger than she realized. She makes mental cues for herself, but she still feels lost.
“Is this all of it then?” She asks when they return to where they started, but Roman never answers her.


She learns that The Insurgence was right about him – that his particular past has given him a remarkable ability. A skill with enchanting devils. A moral ambiguity that borders on nihilism during his worst moments. They said behind his serpentine charm that his intentions were the same as hers; they said his path was true and his course straight. Lene isn’t so sure, but it’s been a while since she’s trusted anyone outside of her pack, and she’s never met one of his kind before. She thinks about how he must comprehend time, how his grief could be the unspeakable kind that rises like a cancer inside of him. A cross to bear.
It doesn’t make him easier to speak with. He has the tendency to treat her like a child, to remind her that there is much she does not know.
“I wasn’t born yesterday.” She quips as they climb from the battered jeep. (They only drove for a few minutes south of the compound, but a storm is on the horizon and Roman refused to travel the miles on foot on the belief that it would seem unusual for a man of his authority to do such.) They’ve been talking about the past, and Roman is convinced she has no idea what the past actually entails.
“They burn every book they can find. They rewrote the records. They filled the truth with lies, except for the worst parts. Those they drew inspiration from. Never underestimate the effects or power of their hatred.”
“My grandmother remembers – ”
“What? More than I still do? I doubt it. Besides,” he says dismissively, “I hardly think her perspective is the same as mine.”
Lene twists her mouth and then the smell hits her. She turns her face into the crook of her elbow, fights back the urge to gag, and feels her eyes water.
He’s brought her to a camp, and they haven’t even gone inside. They stand on the outskirts, and she can see the prisoners through the barbed wire fence, see their skeletal gait and smell their approaching death. She knows without having to ask what they are.
“You will get used to it.”
“Like you did? You want me to be like you?”
Roman laughs. It strikes her as such an inappropriate sound that she wants to throw her fist at his jaw until she can hear the bones crunch. Even if it’s only temporary.
He tells her that there could be worse things, that survival requires many sacrifices, but she doesn’t think she’s as quick to adapt.


“Is that her?” Lene’s been doing that a lot – asking questions, prying, trying to gauge what she does not understand.
“Ja, that is the one.” Roman leans with a shoulder against the wall, drinking a tumbler of Harrow’s finest whiskey, his voice raspier than usual. His hair is slicked back, pulled tight against his scalp, the dark strands styled into a knot near the nape of his neck. It makes him look all the more militant, a stark difference to his lavender suit and silver tie. There’s a diamond watch on his wrist, and Lene keeps getting sidetracked by the glare of the diamonds. Usually they wouldn’t be talking at these events, but Arletta has sent her forward with a question, some detail about Harrow that her charge is trying to ferret out.
There’s a lanky blonde near Harrow’s right side. Her eyes are downcast but her posture is perfect. It’s the slope of her shoulders that suggest defeat, the way her bottom lip is chapped from gnawing at it. Lene call smell her from here – swamp water and despair – but she doesn’t think any of the humans would know. She is surprisingly unimpressed. “I don’t see anything special about her. What is she? A porpoise?”
“A swan.”
“Does she lay golden eggs?”
Roman’s mouth curves into a predatory grin. “She’s fallen out of favor but she hasn’t been forgotten. She can be secured for anyone now, assuming the suitor is willing to enter the fights and have the audacity to win.”
There’s something in his voice, a notch of familiarity, that leaves Lene’s mouth ashen. “Is that what you did?” She keeps her face blank, but her voice is accusatory.
Roman takes another drink of whiskey before pushing himself from the wall, all lean, razor strength wrapped in silk. “I didn’t have to, liebling.”
He gives her a curt nod, a movement shredded in professionalism, before returning to the empty seat on Harrow’s left. He never turns his eyes to Ita, but Lene thinks she sees the other woman ruffle with bridled anger.
you're too young & eager to love
12 June 2014 @ 10:59 am
I got it into my mind that shifters and thropes probably don’t respond well to alcohol. I can’t imagine that the animal inside of you would feel any better about being contained within a human appearance once inhibitions are lowered. Or that, at the least, alcohol wouldn’t settle well with some preternatural species. So that sort of brought this completely random piece on, even though I intended to write about Calev. Which I still might do.

I still don’t know too much about Lene’s personality besides that she’s supposed to be sassy. So … this probably isn’t spot on … but that’s okay because she’s drunk. That’s my argument. Fair warning, this completely pitters out at the end.


Lene does not drink. (Intoxication does not suit her job description, and, besides, Harrow rarely wastes alcohol on beasts designated for labor – the companions get an occasional diluted glass of honeyed wine, as though the syrup and fruit concoction might ease their obligations, amplify their willingness, or soften their bestial instincts. Body guards are strict-backed, as silent as iron, and best unnoticed until a threat needs subdued.) So it comes as a surprise when she arrives at Roman’s door, past the hour of midnight, teetering on her high heels, the strap of her expensive dress slipping against her pale shoulder.

Roman raises an eyebrow, extending his arm like a blockade, barring the entrance when she tries to walk in.

She scowls at him, but it looks more like a pout. “Let me in.”

When he doesn’t, she places her palm against his chest as though she might push him backward, but her fingers get sidetracked rubbing the wool of his charcoal suit.

Roman adopts a seductive smile, a grin of charm, and naturally wraps his other arm around her waist, his palm sliding against the small of her back. To an observer, it looks like a courtship, except his eyes are too serious and they sweep the wide expanse of the corridor. The shadows in the compound are known for their watchfulness and loose lips and while he enjoys a variety of special privileges, he knows well enough that her arrival would seem odd. She’s never before shown up unannounced – they have always arranged meetings under a veneer of protocol and business.

“Was ist das?” He murmurs into the shell of her ear, bowing his head, breathing in the scent of the salt on her neck and the sand in her hair.

To his surprise, Lene makes a noise that he equates with desire, a twisting type of mewl that’s half whimper and half sigh - a cat’s noise. He’s never thought her much of a feline before.

He wonders how long it’s been for her, how many men or women have wrapped themselves around her bones, if she’s nestled into their skin and touch for warmth or fulfillment. He wonders if she’s ever let a man inside of her, if her fucking would be like her fighting, or if her tenderness is something she reveals after she’s been unwrapped and undone. He wonders if she likes to be taken on her back, like a woman, or like an animal, on her knees with fingers in her hair, neck pulled back while she braces herself with her hands. Or maybe, he thinks, she is all softness and wonder and far younger in body and spirit and life than he’s willing to believe.

Lene says “Arletta”, her mouth having trouble shaping the name, and Roman checks the hallway once more before he finally ushers her inside.
Once the door closes and the locks click automatically, she pulls her shoes from her feet ungracefully, lets them fall with a clatter on the floor, and starts fumbling with the pins in her hair. “They’re celebrating H-harrow’s win at the tournaments… They’re in a good mood. Sharing, my grandmother used to say, is caring.” She waves her wrist in the air for flourishing emphasis, her words thick, her eyes focusing here and there but rarely on him.

Roman is amused. “Be thankful Harrow did not want to share in other ways. That dress is hardly subtle.”

Lene looks down, pulls at the slinky turquoise fabric with obvious hatred, and the silver bracelets on her arm sing like wind charms when they rub against each other. “She dresses me like a … like a doll.”

“That is because you look like one.”

Something in her expression changes, and she looks horribly amused, hesitating with a sweet secret on her tongue. Roman raises an eyebrow again, calculating what it is she might be thinking, but she turns abruptly and asks him to help with the remaining pins.

He deftly removes them, smiles when she shakes her hair free, and catches her by the elbow when her balance teeters. “You have never had this much to drink before, have you?”

“Our settlements had – ”

“In other words, no.” He interjects with a laugh.

She stares at him with blue eyes, and he realizes he’s still holding her by the arm while the pressure from his fingers turns her skin white, realizes by the way her eyebrows knit together and mouth twists that she must feel awful, feel out of her skin, feel dazed and uncertain with her stomach twisted into knots, that the animal inside of her is shaking and rearing and charging against the mountain that is her body.

A wave of nausea rolls through her, and Lene clutches at his shoulder, digging her short nails into his collarbone. This, he thinks, might be the most they have touched.

“Would you like me to help?” He asks it like a gentleman might, voice soft, with no hint of expectation.

She gives the barest nod of her head, reminiscent of a sullen child.

Her looks are deceiving. She is a tiny thing and he is all the more massive in comparison. Roman rather likes it; it reminds him of Adira. The same impressive strength and capability hidden inside of a misleading skeleton. He lets her keep her hand against him, her nails biting into his skin, but he dips down and cradles her waist in his arms once more. It’s more for stability than romance, but the closeness momentarily disarms her, and he thinks she might be breathing him in. Smelling what he knows must be a scent of death and ash and the bleached whiteness of bare bone beneath the warmth of wool and elements of human trickery.

His fangs descend silently, and he pierces the tender skin right above her jugular, practically painless. She tastes like iron and strength and the sick sweetness of decaying fruit. He drinks just enough to pull the alcohol from her blood, but she yields to him only with great reluctance, her hand hot and tight on his shoulder, the stiffness of her body a reminder of the obligatory nature of the act. When he’s done, he cuts his tongue and lets his own blood heal the wounds. Lene perches on the edge of his bed afterwards, her legs outstretched, her eyes closed as she waits for the last lingering effects to fade. She’s flushed, and she accepts the glass of water he pushes into her hands, barely hearing his recommendation that she request some iron-rich poultry and avocadoes and eggs from the kitchen staff, as though she is privy to the same luxuries as he.

The air between them shifts and Roman thinks he can hear the animal inside of her quieting.

“I would let you stay … but Arletta will be starting to notice your absence soon.”

She cuts her eyes at him with a smile, understanding. “Should I send you a
companion to take my place?”

“I am perfectly capable of finding my own bedmates, thank you.”

“I bet they hate this.” Lene wraps her knuckles on the overly firm mattress for emphasis.

“Not as much as they would hate a coffin, I imagine.”

She smiles again, amused, and doesn’t even complain when he lifts her feet one by one and slides her delicate heels back on. She thinks his fingers linger on her ankle, and she wants to say something about seduction techniques but she hushes herself, subconsciously rubbing at her neck. His chivalry does not make trusting him any easier; she has seen him perform the same tender actions with many others, seen him speak into women’s ears with a similarly hushed tone, and she has also seen the calloused and natural way in which he has hurt them later - either under Harrow’s orders or merely because he is expected to behave with a certain cruelty. Old habits, she thinks, and pictures him in a German uniform.

“Thanks,” she says when she heads to the door, but she doesn’t specify what exactly for.

He shrugs, untroubled – he understands the necessities of a partnership – but the next evening he does not look at her from across the room; when she happens to knock his table over in a hustle with a disgruntled party goer, he tells Arletta that her beast has brawn but neither the grace nor brains to match.
you're too young & eager to love
21 May 2014 @ 07:27 pm
Roman drabble! Circa the first week of feedings/donor sessions.


Roman enjoys watching her; her muscles pull, lean and taught, beneath her skin as she helps unpack the crates at the loading deck, and he gets that smug grin across his face that he struggles (poorly) to hide. It’s the same grin that decades ago would have meant: see her? That blonde over there? I fucked her last night. Stripped her naked and watched her take it all.

That old male bravado poking through. The words change, but the message is the same.

Fangs and cocks. Not much of a difference, really. Penetration all the same.

Roman gets all caught up in remembering – he runs his tongue across the sharp points of his teeth, feels a clench of ache in his gut, and grins again. He rubs the back of his hand across his mouth, scratches at the hair along his jaw. Lene keeps working, distant, refusing to acknowledge his presence, and that makes him all the more amused. His carelessness annoys her; she’s all business and serious, focused rage. It’s impressive. They’re both playing dangerous games, and he’s grateful that one of them understands the weight of their burden.

Maybe The Insurgence knew exactly what they were doing when they sent her.
Maybe Roman got lucky.

He’s positive that Lene doesn’t feel the same, that, if given the chance to glimpse it, her perspective would be one of distrust, bitterness, and frustration.

He can smell the last one on her. It’s mixed in with the scent of her blood and the desert and the terrible loneliness that the compound brings out in everyone. It’s exciting, and it’s been so long since anything excited him that he’s not quite sure what to do with the emotions tangled inside of his throat.

Lene pushes away her hair from her eyes, huffing hot night air, and the sweat catches in the moonlight across her collarbone. Their eyes meet for the quickest of moments and, despite how fleeting it is, Roman knows she’s glaring.

He sends her a wink – for good measure.
you're too young & eager to love
18 April 2014 @ 01:02 pm
Two unconnected Roman drabbles! Roman at the compound and Roman in the desert, fleeing from the bad guys, with Adira as they search for the insurgence base camp. Before she sacrifices herself. Or whatever it is that I hinted at in a much earlier piece.


Most nights, you wake automatically, like clockwork. The moment the sun dips past the horizon, your eyes open, the death-like sleep receding without any attempt to linger.

Some nights, when your loneliness burrows too deeply into your soul, Adira’s voice wakes you instead.

“Wake up, soldier.” Breathy and disarmingly sweet. It’s the French, the romantic language that always hides her brutality.

“Wach auf, mein Kommandant.” Teasingly, affectionately, the sole creature who could use that nickname of yours without you protesting internally.

You would prefer to wake without her. You think, in your heart of eternal hearts, that your refusal to grieve her, your inability to accept her demise, is what keeps her around. Causes her to arrive. The old human conditions that you are still affected by, the ones that even you can’t shake. But part of you believes that your reaction is bred from your solitude; for seven hundred years, you were never alone, and now all you have is your isolation, your alibies, and your will to survive.


“Remember when we were the hunters?”

Adira laughs. Her voice is dry like the desert surrounding them. “What are we now then?”

Roman stretches his long body in a shrug. The nighttime sand is very cold, but he doesn’t mind it. The many scarves layered and wrapped around his head, his neck, the bottom of his face – they’re more for appearances than necessity. Like the jacket and boots and their small campfire. Unlike the shifters and thropes, they are the least affected by their environment. The only thing that troubles them is the sun, and they still have plenty of hours until daybreak.

Petite to the point of scrawny, Adira looks misleading, crouched by the flames, prodding the coals with the end of a walking stick. Her hair is dirty and sand-drenched, caught in knots against her neck, and she gnaws at her cracked bottom lip with a desperation that exposes the hunger she feels. She lifts her vulture eyes every few minutes, scanning the empty horizon as though she’s expecting to see some figure appear on the distant dunes. Some final hope or ultimate damnation.

“When was the last time you ate?” He keeps his voice neutral.

“… Washington?”

“That was more than three months ago! My god. You need to take better care of yourself.”

She shrugs her bony shoulders. “You make it sound so easy. Did I miss the banquet when it passed?”

Roman can’t help but laugh. He rolls his eyes upward in a supplication to the powers that be, pitching onto his back to watch the skies and hide his concern. After a moment of silence, he asks, “Can we starve?”

“What do you think? You haven’t forgotten your precious Calev so quickly, have you?”

“That was different. He was mostly starved beforehand.”

Adira shrugs again – same sharp gesture – before stepping over to his prone body. She straddles his hips in one fluid movement, all sharp bones battling with her milky skin, and rests her palms on his broad chest. “It won’t kill us, if that’s what you’re thinking. We’ll just be … wraiths. Empty and skeletal. Nightmare things.”

“What are we now then?” He grumbles mockingly, catching her thumb in his mouth when she tangles her fingers into his beard.

He doesn’t look much better than she does, he knows. There’s no food. There hasn’t been for a while. This new wasteland grows more and more inhospitable nightly, and they haven’t found anyone else yet, although they heard rumors about a camp. A revolution. So deep into the desert that it is sure to be a mirage. But the risk of staying was worse than the risk of leaving; they chose the desert over being captured, except now everything looks the same. Each dilapidated, abandoned hut, every prickly pear, all the shifting grain of sands.

Roman wishes it was different – wishes they had found a nest, had made a family, had protected Calev. It should be too late for regrets, but it isn’t. They’re not as empty as he would like, not as easy to break or scatter onto the windows. Still, he hides his blame for Adira, rises to sit instead and catch her mouth with his. He buries his thick fingers into the snarled mess of her hair, cradles her skull in one of his palms. She kisses him greedily, and he’s reminded of how much like a husk she is.

He buries his teeth into her neck at the same time she slides hers into him.

There’s little comfort for them now besides each other.

you're too young & eager to love
16 April 2014 @ 11:42 pm
One more for today!

Inspired, somewhat, by this photo:

I'm not sure why, really. Mostly because I like the idea of him wearing this when he first meets Lene and her scoffing and saying that he looks like he should be in Cuba. Then he'd be impressed that she even knows what is/was Cuba.

Thanks to Sasha-Muffin-Pants for giving me a prompt to focus on!


“A hungry man can’t see right or wrong. He just sees food.”


You wake in the night with a hunger that is palpable.

You wake in the night with a hunger so bright that it’s colorful – plum, heart red, organ slick, tangerine spheres, copper and salt fountains, an oasis of strawberry victims. Your mouth is dry, and your corpse’s breath sticks in your throat. You curl your hand around the Spartan edge of your bedframe until the wood threatens to splinter. Your mouth is caught in a snarl, like the vicious expression of a starved canine, and you know what your eyes look like: the eyes of wolves, prowling, determined to find a meal.

Here, in the last moments of the deep dark of the compound, in your isolated, medicinal quarters, you force yourself to relax. To uncurl your hand and feel the cotton fibers of the sheets beneath your body. You count to one thousand, a number for every year you’ve walked the earth, and then you count again. You do this seven times before your jaw relaxes, before your fangs retract, before you can see anything other than vermillion.

You consider yourself too old to feel this way. Too old to fall victim to the baser needs of your biology. You’re as tight as an arrow, all your preternatural senses keening, and if you could remember what it felt like to be a boy on the edge of manhood then you would know that this was the same. You can hear the heartbeats of everyone within a ten mile radius; all their heated smells, all their vivid tastes, beasts and humans alike, swell against you until you’re close to gnawing your own wrist. You would laugh if you weren’t exasperated. If you weren’t anxious. If you didn’t know the reason for this sudden awareness, for this yearning, for this budding possibility that stripped you of your resolve.

The possibility of your lack of control angers you because it frightens you.

You think Adira would be disappointed, but the thought makes you smile. Her with the sleight frame but iron will. Her who taught you what the word survival truly meant: self-preservation.

Above all other costs.


Sometimes, when you are alone, she sits with you. She’ll lean against your window frame as you talk, slipping into the old language of the fatherland, her arms folded, wearing those light spring dresses that you remember her wearing in the dead of winter. Dresses that showed off her slender, finely shaped calves. Her tiny ankles covered by leather boots meant for male soldiers. Her skeletal fingers gloveless and, miraculously to those who saw, unaffected by the cold. If you can remember her well enough (and you always can), there will be snow in her auburn hair, her cherry bud mouth the only part of her that is womanly. Even in her dress, she is devoid of feminine curves – as straight as a boy, yet she possessed a ferocity that was tangible, so much that the even the Reichsleiter were unnerved by her.

She rarely wore the proper attire or insignia until you made her, and then you both adopted the all-black uniform of the SS. The Nazi Party’s ideologies were less easy to wear, but Adira’s particular brand of adaptability conformed to any situation. Such is survival, she would murmur, when you’re hiding amongst men.

You still make sense of that lesson now.

The Insurgence knows this.

They know most everything. Some of the information in your record you provided willingly. Other details, the ones more secret and intimate, they found for themselves. Time reveals anything, even in a world that is drastically changing, although you can’t help but think that this new radicalization is just another repetition.

Cycles of ash and rebirth.

Human hatred and fear: the great catalysts.


Calev does not come to you.

You do not invite him like you invite your maker. His is not a conjuring you summon. He is one of those quiet things, one of those details of your long life that you hold, painfully, to yourself. He is etched into your marrow, and there he will remain.

Adira had not approved then and, even after, her opinion did not change much.

You had stood inside the camp barracks, the collars of your coats turned up, with your Kommandant emblem blaring as a warning on your uniform and Adira’s riding crop clutched firmly in her little hand. She lashed out at the occasional passing prisoner, barking a rebuke in her accented German. Even though she was more than a foot smaller than you, she had a reputation for merciless that kept most everyone else at a distance. But the yard was mostly empty given the late hour, the freezing temperatures, and the threat of more snow.

Inside the nearest barrack, crammed somewhere on top of the wooden bunk beds, you could smell him. Smell the death and disease and despair.

“He’s dying,” You told her as if that was explanation enough for your recent infatuation, careful to whisper in Adira’s native tongue.

“Look around. They’re all dying. This place is death, liebling. … It stinks of rot and decay and shit.”

You laughed. It was harsh, like the wind. “Are you not – ”

“Welche schuld! Welche schuld! Wo war diese schuld vor einem monat?” She punctuated her scoffing reproach with her crop, tapping it pointedly against your leg, until you caught it firmly and glared downward. She rarely spoke German with you – the harsh sounding language was maintained for appearances and condemnation only.

Adira sighed, like a disapproving mother, and looked back to the barrack in question. “You will do what you want, in the end, my love. We always do, eventually.”

And you had.

But like an inexperienced child, you waited too long and bore the consequences for decades to come.


Your hunger makes you impatient, turns you on edge, but worst of all it makes you guilty.

You close your eyes and think of gaunt, skeletal faces. Of walking corpses unlike that of which you are. You press your knuckles to your eyes and will away your ghosts, these burdens of your particular, unique past.

Before you were assigned to the compound, when you were only a step below The Insurgence council figures themselves, most of the members still referred to you as Kommandant. The younger members were merely following in the footsteps of the older, hardened recruits; they were too young to know the weight behind the title. But the others understood, and they meant it as a mockery, a jab to your status and character.

You embraced it as you had embraced it originally. Your reputation had always preceded you.

That, too, does not change. You establish a new kind of notoriety – one carried from the mouths of the elite women, the prospectives, or the sometimes-borrowed companions. After two years by his side, Harrow has much to say about you as well: your loyalty is blood-deep, and you have proven it so much that, on good days (or bad ones, really), you sometimes forget what your true mission is. The Insurgence understands; any dedicated soldier risks delving too deeply, which is why they send you your contact. A break from the role you play. She will better you, the coded letter informs you. She will strengthen your determination, offer the chance for companionship, and satisfy your desire for nourishment.

Their euphemism makes you laugh. Donors are hardly so willing, you think.

The seed is planted all the same, and the possibility of all that they suggest fills you with a need you thought you had long discarded.

Logic tells you that she will be a set of eyes and ears – a rat, meant more for reporting than stabilizing.

But your hunger says differently.
you're too young & eager to love
16 April 2014 @ 07:43 pm
This might be crap, but I don't caaareeee. I'm just excited to write something.

A little Roman warm-up thing!


Roman has had too much to drink. He knows this intellectually and feels it physically; he should care, but he doesn’t. And while the finest of whiskeys (at least of the remaining limited supplies) can’t quite satiate his real thirst, he’s learned to appreciate the distraction, even after all these years. More importantly, he’s still the most sober of Harrow’s elite inner council – a sorority of the affluent and privileged, a circle of yes-men for the compound’s young president – but, he supposes, that isn’t really saying much. Harrow, three feet away, is hardly sitting straight, his half empty drink dangling from his fingers, his eyes bloodshot and cruel. His savagery is more apparent whenever he’s drunk too much; it comes out in his unbridled gaze, his slack madman’s grin, his boisterous voice. The other three men are in various states of intoxicated undress – a crumpled suit jacket is on the floor, ties are hanging from their necks or slipping from their once meticulous knots, and dress shirts are unbuttoned more and more. This, Roman knows, is thanks to the companions.

They’re a small group tonight, only five or so, including Harrow’s swan. Ita is the only claimed companion; the others are desperate prospects, hoping to attach themselves to one of the councilmen. They have accepted their roles in this world, and they cling to the delusion that affiliation and ownership will bring them some level of comfort, some veil of privilege and safety. It’s a blind dream, but Roman has seen it before in the eyes of many dying souls. Their flames are all but burnt out. He can smell that much on them.

There’s a coppery haired girl fidgeting with her dress in the corner, the gossamer material translucent, mesh-like, and meant to highlight her budding curves. All Roman can see is a child, barely thirteen, trussed up like a five-cent trinket. Yesterday’s trash. But he opens his arms to her anyway, his predatory grin diluted from the whiskey, and he turns his face into the crook of her neck when she crawls into his lap. She is dainty, delicate, and he still has the deep, sinister urge to break her bones, to drink her marrow, to swallow the current of her life. Instead, he nips at her prominent collarbone, the bristle of his beard scratching her peach skin, and runs his calloused palms down her naked arms, feeling the downy of her hair rise with his touch.

She smells like ripening fruit and fear – it’s a potent combination and it goes straight to his head.

He palms her thin calves, tugs at her makeshift dress, moves his mouth to the delicate spot where her jaw meets her ear. He murmurs something to her in German, all brutish, drunken charm, and she giggles. A flair of innocence in an otherwise tarnished husk. He had forgotten how much he missed broken, easily bruised things. He wants to tear away her clothing, bite at the underside of her prepubescent breasts, cup the backs of her thighs in his large hands, and bury his teeth into the pulsing vein at her neck. He wants so much that he groans, audibly, and the child laughs again, a silvery, tinkling laugh as she twists his hair between her fingers in feigned affection.

It’s the groan that ruins it. Roman isn’t known for revealing much – vulnerability, desire, anger – he’s a stoic, part of Harrow’s foundational architecture, as smooth as stone. When the veneer cracks, it’s enough to catch Harrow’s attention. Something in the air stills, thickens with tension, and Roman sees the outline of the other man’s body from the corner of his vision when he opens his eyes. He slides one hand to the inside of the prospect’s thigh, keeps the other on her hip in a gesture of territorial claiming, and uses his solder’s voice to grumble a bemused “Fuck off, yeah?”

Harrow sways. He barks a laugh, but the noise is harsh and bitter and he kicks at Roman’s foot like a petulant toddler seeking attention. “Apologize. You’re overstepping. What do – what do you have here, hmm?” He’s slurring, grabbing the top of Roman’s chair, making the girl cringe and curl closer to the other man, already feeling, foolishly, safer in his arms. Harrow notices and the whiskey causes his dangerous temper to curdle; he snatches her by the coppery length of her hair, pulls her from Roman’s lap, and slaps her across the mouth until she bleeds. When she makes the mistake of trying to run away, one of the others on the council trips her, laughing at the cry she makes when she hits the floor at a hard, awkward angle.

Like a lion attacking prey, Harrow is on her, kicking at her exposed sides and then her arms when she tries to cover herself. He yells till he froths at the mouth, cawing about respect and the impertinence of beasts. He rages until he stumbles backward, losing his balance, and it’s Roman that catches him by the arm, Roman that claps him on the back in a mock-salute, Roman that tells him enough is enough. Harrow, wild-eyed, shrugs free from the brunette before meeting his gaze. They stare at each other for a heavy moment, weighing the tension between them, before Roman laughs and turns away, picking up his discarded whiskey. “If you wanted to share, all you had to do was ask.”

It’s enough to make the room laugh, and the men’s mirth almost covers the sounds of the girl’s hitching, pained breaths.

“Kim!” Harrow barks towards the closed doors, stepping back towards his second in command, laying a hand on the back of his neck in a surprisingly forward gesture of intimacy. Roman gives Harrow the rest of his whiskey, distracting him when he tries to yell for his striker once more.

“I will handle it. Just bring me a replacement, yes?”

His hand has the cold feel of death when he grasps the shifter’s arm and yanks her, unkindly, to her feet. She has the rasping, wheezing cries of someone with a broken rib. Roman can smell the blood inside of her and the closer, fresher blood smeared across her mouth. He keeps his eyes forward and steels his resolve, pushing through the door with his shoulder, ignoring the glance of pity that he catches in Ita’s eyes.

He doesn’t look back. The girl is dragging her feet, hardly walking, an empty bundle of weight in his hold. Part of him thinks it would be best if he found some dark corner, some midnight alley near the loading docks, and soothed away the pain of her existence with a quick rip and deep swallow. But Kim has already seen him – she of the expressionless gaze, of the cold blood and merciless whip – and is taking the offensive whelp away.

She gives Roman a curt nod, but he doesn’t return it.
you're too young & eager to love
29 August 2013 @ 05:33 pm
Rolling, rolling, rolling.

Keep these pieces rolling.


Harrow asks about your mother, and you can’t remember her except for the shadow of pressure that might be small, calloused hands on your shoulders, the twist of a smile that could be another woman’s mouth, another mother’s expression. She had blonde hair. Or was it more brown?

You tell him about your second mother instead, the one whose blood replaced the first.

“She was very strong. Vain. Reliable and complicated and surprisingly affectionate.”

“What happened to her?” Harrow has the look of someone who is waiting for a slip to occur. You have been by his side for two years now, and he still cannot trust you completely. You understand the urge to protect yourself, the inability to break down walls. You are not offended, and maybe that’s why he’s able to have these conversations with you. A sharing of not-secrets and hidden alibis. An explanation for the way men are how they are.

You roll your shoulders in a shrug and throw down another card from the collection in your hand. You almost have a royal flush. “What happens to all mothers.”

“She is dead?”

You fight the urge to smile. You’re both dead, but you’re both alive too. So much more alive than the human across from you. You feel a nostalgia for blood and ignore it. “Lost, rather.”

“I do not understand.”

“Children outgrow their parents. It is inevitable. What of your mother?”

Harrow’s tight-lipped smile is secretive. He pours himself another glass of whiskey and changes the subject.

Adira speaks French; it makes her German softer (her English is poor, but you won’t realize that yet). She is not conventionally pretty for the time period – her chin is weak, her hair an off shade of auburn, her hands large for how small her body is. She is almost elfish, her body caught somewhere between adolescence and adulthood. Her hips look as though they’ve only started to round, but the top of her body is boy-like and flat. You realize you are much taller than her before she even stands.

She is too young to be out so late, you think, but she asks you to buy her a coffee, and you do. She doesn’t drink it but cups it between her palms, breathing in the warmth and scent hungrily.

You think she is a child of the streets. Another vagabond orphan looking for a soldier’s bed. You tell her as much and she laughs, brazen, loud. It startles you.

When your hair falls forward against your face, she brushes it aside in a gesture of intimacy that is just as jarring. You are not used to a woman being so forward. Your mother would have told you it was inappropriate, unladylike, but you never did listen to her much. You find yourself studying Adira’s knees, the hem of her dress rucked up high from the angle of her body, and they are very white. Practically translucent. You brush your knuckles across them impulsively and she does not rebuke you.

You have had many whores. Some you have paid for and some you have taken for free.

This will not be so different, you think, leaving a tip for the waitress on the counter when Adira asks you to escort her home.

Afterwards, she tells you that she has been watching you for months. Your sturdy gait, the way you throw your head back when you laugh, how you crush women to your mouth as though they are something to be devoured.

She is naked and straddling you, her bones deceivingly fragile, her body as weightless as snow. There is still blood on her plump mouth. The wounds in her neck from where you greedily tried to latch on to her have not yet healed; they trickle red tauntingly. The sheets are torn and sticky with your life and hers and the mix of death and rebirth. She says she is four hundred years old and you, her soldier, are her very first.

She isn’t really sure what she’s doing.

You cradle her face in your newly dead hands and try to kiss her.

She teaches you everything. You are a quick learner, which delights her. She is remarkably open, as though she has spread herself before you and is prepared to give everything. When she disappears without a backward glance or hint of a warning, you panic like a five year old.

You are crushed with a sense of abandonment and loneliness that threatens to drive you mad. Your sadness makes you irresponsible and you let your hunger free from restraint. You create a tantrum with the lives of others.

It doesn’t help.

You think of walking into the sun, and you test your will in the early morning dawn, feeling your flesh scald before the daylight even breaks.
After a month, you wake to her presence in the house. She is playing the piano softly but expertly and when you try to embrace her she throws you back, sends you against the wall. You could have been a fly hovering too close, annoying her concentration.

You are wounded and then you are furious. You launch yourself at her again, but she just as easily counters you. This time, she offers you a hand up, and you snarl at her.

“Next time, become angry first. Do not give room to grief. It is a useless emotion when you live as long as us.”

You bring yourself to your knees, and she lets you wrap your arms around her thin waist, lets your bury your face into the thin fabric of her dress. She tsks and chides and calls you weak, but her voice is affectionate and she strokes your hair.

She has not let you inside of her since the night she first made you.

She speaks about your relationship in terms you do not understand. Blood bonds that are synonymous with mothers, sisters, and lovers. A kinship without words appropriate enough to connate true meaning. Adira laughs at your discomfort, murmurs mocking words of pacification, and brings you whores as presents. She likes to watch you with them, the twist of their human bodies against yours, the dominating way you hold them by their neck with one hand as you thrust into them. You let her watch, enjoy it even, but you look for the signs of disapproval that flicker onto her face – a twitch of her mouth, a narrowing gaze, a tap of her fingers against the arm of her chair. This is how you learn to love her from afar.

Sometimes you are too brutal. You have broken bones and split necks.
She helps you with the mess.

She brings men home, men with dark eyes and darker intentions. She does not give you the same luxury of watching, but your preternatural ears can hear every groan and whimper. You imagine her sinking her teeth into their necks at the brink of orgasm, draining their life as she trembles with fulfillment. She is always rosy-cheeked and affectionate afterwards, smelling like human sweat and joyous death, letting you lick her fingers from where the blood has stained them.

You do not know the lesson here. Only that you are aching with envy and jealousy, that the gulf inside of your threatens to break free and never rebuild. You turn on her with words and betrayal and anything that might wound. She listens to your tirades with a practiced patience and infuriating smile.

Adira says, “Only when you stop wanting can you be free to conquer.”

You tell her you have been conquering for years, and she laughs dismissively at you. “You know nothing about conquering, soldier.”

The world changes but the both of you do not.

You know there are others like you that exist. You have seen them, but Adira believes in isolation. Nests are problematic, she says. They breed pack mentalities and, more often then not, disintegrate after a few centuries. Survival correlates with one’s ability to adapt. Do not form relationships that you would not die for.

“Vulnerability is a leisure we cannot afford.”

But you love her - in the way men love Gods, the way small children worship parents, and with the protective nature of siblings. You tell her as much, lifting her thin body up into your arms, pressing kisses to her mouth, cheeks, eyelids.

It has been seventy years, and she smiles approvingly. “So now you know.”

That night, you bury your teeth into the tender crook of her elbow, and she lifts your arm to do the same to your wrist. She crawls onto your lap, her legs hooking around your waist, and does not stop you when you dip your hand between your bodies, your fingers reaching between her thighs. Adira croons and for two hundred years you never sleep alone again.

The expansion of the west did not separate you. The advancement of industry and technology had little barring on your life. Neither did the world wars or the split of Europe. Now, the earth is turning to deserts and institutions and ideologies crumble, replaced with worse alternatives.

It is the savagery of men and their sudden awareness of preternatural entities that shakes the foundation on which you stand. The humans find the lycanthropes first, then the shifters. Camps that mirror the experiments and purposes of their European predecessors are built.

“We are smarter than those beasts.”

Adira scoffs. “You are a fool to think that what affects others cannot affect us. You, of all people, should know that, mein Kommandant.”

“But we are not born, not like the animals. We are human.”

“Were. We were human. They will think we are corpses and, more importantly, a threat. Shifters cannot offer immortality. They will drain us, recreate our blood, then kill us … if we are lucky.”

You kiss the center of her palm, trying to soothe away her worry, and she pushes your face to the side with her soft fingertips.

The desert is greater, wider, and the days are longer now. The sun threatens to rise soon, but for now the lingering darkness is a mercy. The humans are coming, and Adira has fear in her eyes. You have never truly seen it before, not in her.

“We will burn, Roman.” She says it plainly, already believing it true.

“Fire?” You ask.

Fire, the humans hunting them echo across the dunes, and in their faces they have the same expression your fellow Germans once wore. War and hate and animal cravings. Kill or be killed. Humans make useful things, but underneath they are the same as they were when the world was younger.

Fight or flight. Your instinct must be broken, for you do neither. Adira must take you by the throat (you have somehow forgotten how much stronger she still is than you) and shove you into the direction of the last blessed moments of darkness.

“The east!” She yells, turning her back to you, a small woman facing an impending danger. You catch a glimpse of enjoyment in her eyes, a will that overpowers her fear, and you remember her love of challenges.

The rising sun is causing her skin to begin to blister.

You are not a child anymore. You know the tricks of your body, the power of your blood, and you run at a speed that causes you to blur. Before the sun breaks the horizon, you take to the skies. You are not a child, but the exertion of so much strength exhausts you instantly. It is will and will alone that causes you to concentrate, but you fall to the ground within moments of your feet hitting wet rock.

An ocean. One of the lasts.

You remember it from your human youth, the cave where you and your brothers hid. You crawl into its shelter, too drained to stay awake.

The Insurgence finds you.

They do not find Adira.

They tell you that these things happen, as though the current state of affairs is common and predictable. They tell you to honor her memory, to make a stand, that you are valuable and they can do good with you.

The implication being that you haven’t been doing good until this moment. The implication being that your maker is dead, ash on the winds, and there is no time to wonder.

But you do, because there was no and has not been any ache inside of you. No shred to mark the moment of your severing with her. You would know, you tell them, you would know if she was no longer in this world. They do not argue with you, but they accept your denial as a side effect of grief.

Harrow asks about your mother, and you tell him that she was always one to believe in reckonings.
you're too young & eager to love
27 August 2013 @ 05:04 pm
There are so many aspects to this character that I want to write about/flesh out. I start one piece, my mind tries to spin, and I end up trying to cram every idea into one four page disconnected story. Then I feel disappointed when I don’t get all my ideas to cohesively come together in one piece. Imagine that. I could do a novel … if I started outlining and pacing myself.

Things that I still need to write about: Roman’s holocaust memories, Roman’s fledgling, Roman’s maker, actual interactions with Lene.

Things this piece wanted to focus on: all of the above.

Things this piece accomplished: none of that (seriously, what the hell, brain?)

The ending line is the title of a song I can’t stop listening to. It’s absolutely stolen.


There is something classically sorrowful about Mahler’s fifth symphony. The funereal trumpet swells, dips, and makes Roman’s shoulders stiffen, but it is the adagietto that sends his mind backwards, tumbling through memories held by the strings of violins and harps.

He had hoped that time would dull the past, thicken it with fog, but his memory has only become sharper as he ages. He can recollect entire sunrises from his human youth, the time before daylight became his enemy; he can remember the way his wife’s hair had always smelled like lavender before the sickness inside of her ate away her lungs and life; he thinks he could still identify a snipe’s courtship winnowing, although the only authentic birdsong he has heard for decades now has been mockingbirds and night-herons.

But Roman has learned to love his night world, to relinquish nostalgia for a new appreciation. The moon is more beautiful than the garish, blinding sun. He can find shapes in the stars with far more precision than he could with any cotton-esque midday cloud. Midnight waters are more soothing than humid summer lakes. He is too old to fight acceptance; this life, whatever life it may be, is his. He values it with a hunger that turns ravenous whenever he is threatened. It is odd, then, that he has aligned himself so precariously. The position could have gone to another, but The Insurgence’s commander had approved of Roman over the other candidates. His peculiar history provided him with a much-needed defense; this new suffering would be no different than the old horror. A younger or less hardened member would not have his resolve.

His resolve. That placid façade and inexhaustible aura of relaxation. Of impersonal indifference. His resolve.

A soul threat.

A cold reckoning.

Dead weight for dead skin.

Harrow does not care for classical music. He says it’s too sentimental. Roman agrees with him, distrusting the provocative element inherent to all instruments, but he finds himself playing the compound’s seldom used piano late in the night, his heavy fingers spreading across the keys swiftly and deftly. The piano had arrived with a shipment of supplies through the desert. It was intended to be broken down and manufactured into something more useful than a mere music box. The ivory is valuable; the steel strings potentially useful. But the movers had forgotten about it, left it pushed against the loading deck, until some advisor assumed it was meant for decoration and moved it inside. Roman found it three weeks ago, and the comfort of playing startles and alerts him.

He is too large of a man to fit correctly behind an old upright. He is too imposing in his silk ties and three-piece suits, better imagined seated in a studded leather armchair than on a bench. But the music rings true – sometimes furious, sometimes muddled by the force of his fingers, sometimes blue with melancholy – but always true.

And it is truth Roman fears and hates most.

Pure, unadulterated, impossible truth.

It is the music that distresses The Insurgence. They see it as a warning sign, a glimpse at the formation of a potential problem. Music risks expressing too much – it carries the hearts and minds of men to uncertain avenues. There are eyes inside the compound, watchers he did not know of. He is not surprised or angered, but he does not listen when they implore him to stop. Midnight sonatas? It does not look good.

He lets it look worse.

He suggests forming a small-scale symphony group for entertainment and maintaining moral after the Sunday devotionals. A spiritual cleansing through sound. Harrow listens to Roman’s explanations for half an hour before he interrupts, reminding the German of the compound’s purpose and intent. Besides, Harrow explains, music will only distract the weak-minded and lure them towards subterfuge.

He seems suspicious by the other’s interest in something so trivial; he veils it thinly.

Roman tells him that he has his proclivities as, motioning to the gilded swan girl beside his arm, Harrow has his. Harrow is not amused, and he silences Roman’s attempts of persuasion with a firmness that Roman knows not to ignore. He flashes his eyes to the valuable, ornamental shifter left to cater to Harrow’s cruelty and feels a tinge of pity.

The Insurgence contacts him again. Two years is a long time, they rationalize. A long time to be someone else, to feel threatened, to perform. They do not judge his actions or behavior. They respect his commitment. They knew he was the best option for the position. He must be in need of someone to trust – a partner, perhaps – and, more importantly, a reliable donor.

The letter is written in code; he can decipher it automatically, like switching between German and English – he has received many letters before this one. Still, he stares at the word donor for a few minutes. He lets the promise and implication settle from his brain on to his tongue, feels his fangs descend with a fierceness and ache that surprises him. It makes him laugh.

Perhaps he is hungry and has only remembered just now.

He isn’t sure if his enjoyment from playing music correlates with his hunger, but he keeps playing anyway.

Halfway through Beethoven’s Pathetique in F Minor, Roman acknowledges the presence of someone else. He can see the woman from his periphery vision, the razor cut of her hair, the sharp line of her body. He smelled her when she first arrived, as silent as the shadows, a husk of a scent. She smells like cold blood. It doesn’t appetize him.

“Kim,” he says, his voice joining the cadence that his fingers continue. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“How did you learn to play? Most have not seen a piano in many years, but you must have played for some time … you’re playing all those pieces by memory, aren’t you?”

“Pieces? Mere tinkering. I’m no Frederic Chopin.”

“Who?” The cut of her smile makes the shape of a trap.

Roman lifts his hands and the silence settles in the air, thicker than the echo of dying notes. He turns, his smile friendly, the muscles of his body relaxed. She watches him with reserved interest – she has been doing that for some time now. He can feel her gaze on him when she arrives with Harrow, as she is prone to do, in the punishing yard. She looks at him as though she would strip him bare, flay his skin and inspect how his innards work. It is not such an unkind look. He has seen it on the faces of many men before. She, like him, is taking advantage of a certain position during a specific time.

Survival of the fittest.

Some people are naturals.

He gazes back at her, openly, taunting her. Even her usefulness with a whip could not open him long. He would not scar for her, and maybe, he thinks, that’s what Kim is looking for. Restitution for the suffering she must force onto others.

He knows she can smell him, the lack of him, his peculiar absence. She hasn’t been the first to notice it.

“You look …”

“Handsome? Charming? Overly confident?” He offers.


Roman barks a laugh, placing a hand over his heart as though she has deeply wounded him. “I blame this atrocious lighting, not my face.” Inwardly, he feels himself snarl, hears a battering of drums.

To his surprise, she laughs. It sounds like a supplication or an apology; he can’t tell which.

He moves to his left and motions to the keys. “Would you like to learn?”

The offer is too personal. He watches the small flicker of her expression, the metal veil that returns to cover her mouth, the depth of her eyes, and ultimately straightens her already iron posture. She turns abruptly, the barest hint of a decline evident in the way she almost shakes her head, and walks away.

The Insurgence contacts him with a name and a position. A new bodyguard will be arriving and this will be his charge. Partner. Blood bag. He tries to still his distrust and underlining current of annoyance – he thinks the commanders merely want another set of eyes on him and, more than that, it has been too long since he’s formed a genuine bond with anyone. Bonds are synonymous with chains and vulnerability.

He is expecting a man or some woman that smells of bear sweat and speaks in growling tones. A hulking, looming figure that articulates with monosyllabic grunts. All muscle and tough veins.

Another caravan arrives from across the desert with shipments, and Harrow requires his presence.

“Why?” Roman shrugs into his jacket, making a fuss about the late hour.

“You are an advisor, are you not?”

“Much good it does you. You hardly listen.”

Harrow grins his predatory grin and claps Roman on the shoulder, but he hardly looks at the other man once they approach the loading dock. He is too busy appreciating a powdery-faced woman and making comments about the trustworthiness of bestial guards. Their small brains make rioting practically impossible. No discipline, you see. No personal motivation that a whip can’t break.

Roman leans against the wall, unbothered by the words or the tickle of his hair falling loose from its short ponytail. He melds into the surroundings, but the scent of something different, something new, catches his attention. Below the heat smell of desert sand and above the scent of animals. Peppery. Blossom colored. Wet.

He glances at the new guards, the workers unloading the caravan, and still cannot pinpoint the owner. At another time the idea of a hunt would have interested him. Secrets and surprises here, however, are always perceived as hostile.

There’s a woman with a vacant expression on her face. Her arms are taut from unpacking. Roman writes her off for the nasal cry of a clarinet when she is really a cello.

A composition on the nature of daylight.
you're too young & eager to love
12 August 2013 @ 10:10 pm
First piece with the newbie. I'm pretty happy with it, although, as usual, there's no concrete ending. Who needs conclusions, really?

Set in the same universe as Chason and Ita. I typed this up at work, printed it, and retyped it once I got home. I didn't check over it, so read at your own risk, typos may be lurking behind every period. … But hopefully they aren't.

1586 words but I'm too lazy for a cut. <3

The old wars are being forgotten.

Nobody speaks of Korea let alone America’s archaic past of revolutions and civil battles. The European countries are persisting. It’s admirable. Germany has a tenacity for life, but, strangely enough, this new form of genocide has not awoken memories of the past. There are too few alive who remember and less than that even know of the atrocities of Dachau and Auschwitz. The history books are being changed. The power of the written word alters everything when the wrong men wield it.

The compound staff recognizes the lilt of his voice, the accent that flourishes his harsher consonants. But few can place it. They have not left the borders of their own country, and travel is a precarious thing these days. So, they do not call him a Nazi. They are too ignorant to remember the term, and the birth year listed on his medical file and transfer papers declares him far too young to have been part of the Second World War.

The Insurgence is different. Most of its members are educated. Most of its members are older than one hundred years. Most of them knew, sooner or later, that corrupted ideologies were going to spread and form a new branch of marginalization, one that attacked species rather than race. Still, some of the revolutionaries call him Kommandant not so secretly. They keep their interactions with him curt, bristling with thinly veiled suspicion.

They were prepared, to an extent. But the communication is fragmented and slow. The various groups disconnected by distance and, worse, values. There are those who speak of refugee camps and claiming a space of their own, a space somehow protected from the reach of man. Others are more focused on weakening the system, planning for an over-throw. But human allies are far and few between. Forming camaraderie is dangerous, and spies abound like poisonous spiders. Roman situates himself somewhere in the middle. He has seen too many regimes act too rashly, plan poorly, and rely on their own arrogance for success. When an opportunity arose to infiltrate one of the primary human compounds and secure a position of intelligence to the leading commander, he took it immediately.

He has often aligned himself with powerful men, because he understands how the winds can sway.

Adjusting to life on the compound is easy. Some of the children have been born there. It’s hard to assume Roman wasn’t. He blends in when needed to, becoming as steady and constant as the architecture. Despite the occurrence of experiments, cage battles, and legions of preternatural species housed in adjacent facilities, compound life is relatively normal. There is a near communal aspect to it. A friendliness that is bred out of necessity. In the beginning, the husbands and essential works were the first to stabilize the area. Wives and children were brought later. There are luxurious living quarters for the most important workers and more humble alternatives for the less privileged. The food, so far, is warm and constant. They do not yet need to ration. The generators provide more than enough electricity and heat the water that is, thankfully, clean.

Roman is respected. The sheer height and lean strength of his body commands it. His voice is deep, and it adds a rumbling tinge to his laughter, a sound that is not as rare as many would suspect. The wives find him handsome, but the men enjoy his strong personality, skillful story telling abilities, and free-flowing alcohol too much to consider him a threat to their marriages. For all his ability to accept and welcome the people around him, however, there is usually a touch of distance to all of his interactions. They consider him Harrow’s right hand, and the very mention of Harrow’s name is enough to steel any man’s good intentions.

The pets find this to be his most attractive quality. They know about Harrow’s swan girl and his eccentric inclinations towards her, but they think power is something that can protect. Ambition is a blinder. They view Roman as a link, one to be carefully traversed.

A dark skinned girl, barely over the age of seventeen, is the most daring in her pursuits. She’s owned by the chief medical DNA analyst and is unsatisfied with the girth of his stomach and the way his eyes look like a pig’s. She has very long hair that she wears in a braid and is partial to wearing gold jewelry in links around her wrists and one delicate ankle. Roman finds this ironic, but he doesn’t bother explaining it to her.

After the traditional Sunday evening banquet when the majority of the official men slink away to smoke cigars and slide their hands up the thighs of other women, she finds him in an armchair reading a book. He has foregone his usual tie and dress shirt for a casual sweater and worn jeans. Her dress brushes the tops of his knees before he shifts his gaze upward.

“I thought you couldn’t get those anymore.” She has the voice of a child but with a smoky edge. It makes him think of subtropical climates.

“Everything has a price. You should know that.”

“What’s it called?”

“East of Eden.”

“S’funny title. Books are boring. There’s much better ways of being entertained, don’tcha think?”

Roman scoffs, closing the book after he’s folded a corner of the page to remember his place. “Is this your idea of seduction?”

“I’m very rare.”

He stands, and she’s forced to move backwards. Tucking his book under his arm, he affectionately adjusts the fall of her dress from her shoulder. “So am I, liebling.”

Roman drinks whiskey from a tumbler etched in gold. It’s a fine drink, the touches of oak and pepper settling on his tongue. His tie is loosened and he’s thrown his once expensive jacket over the back of his seat. Harrow has done the same, but the younger man fails to look as natural. Relaxation has never come easily to Harrow, and the whiskey only seems to thicken his anger. Roman doesn’t mind. He’s grown used to the insecurities that drive cruel men. They’re something of a specialty to him, partially because he’s always considered himself capable of a similar mindset.

Harrow deals a new round of cards, and Roman protests with a gesture of his long fingers.

Harrow snorts. “Come now. A gentleman should always allow his opponent the chance to win back what he has lost.”

“Das is richtig, aber … Do you see a gentleman here?”

Roman thinks he notices a glint of anger twist Harrow’s thin mouth. It is not the implied jest that ruffles Harrow but the foreign words. He dislikes being reminded of his inability to know all. The moment is tense until Roman laughs, his teeth glinting in the low light, and stands, his chair scraping the floor with the backward motion. He pats Harrow’s shoulder good naturedly, finishes his whiskey in one long swallow, and complains about the stench of animals as he leaves the room.

For a man as appropriately admired and feared as he, his rooms are surprisingly minimal. The walls are empty, the furniture comfortable but nothing particularly beautiful or high quality. He had the floors stripped of their plush carpets, preferring the blanched planks of wood instead. His bed is large but solitary, pushed against the far wall, and posted with thick drapes. Similar curtains line the one wall of windows, although his rooms are on the western branch of the compound – a shadowy, somewhat clinical quarter. He complains of migraines and the ill effects of light and nobody says a word. His hours, due to the regulation of important and confidential work, are peculiar but no more than any other of the compound’s executive advisors.

When he has an electronic number lock for his doors installed, the combination programmed to change every week, Harrow accuses him of paranoia. Roman tells him that contamination is capable of many forms and should never be underestimated. It’s a respectable answer, so Harrow does not broach the subject again.

There is a Spartan quality to his effects. A cleanliness that is born from soldiering and routine. He is kind, if not somewhat quiet, to the ever-changing cleaning staff. He never lets them clean his rooms without him being present, and sometimes the dark-haired girls leave feeling oddly light-heated, borderline confused, and they dream of his eyes for days afterward.

The winters are getting colder. The scientists are still claiming it’s due to global warming, but Roman doesn’t think so. He can feel the change, the looming threat of something still and fearsome, in his old bones. The world is turning barren, only it’s happening too slowly for the humans to notice. He has learned to measure time differently. His capacity for understanding the subtle changes of the world, of people, of the savagery of man is beyond their comprehension. He knows it, and the realization never fails to strike him with a deep sense of loneliness.

He feels like a foreigner in a world that will forever exile him.

It helps to focus on his hunger during such moments. He doesn’t need blood the way younglings do. He has not woken, fueled into consciousness, by the raw ache inside of him for decades. But if he thinks enough, he can still raise the desire. Longing for something is a merciful comfort.

It reminds him of his humanity or what may be left of it.