No matter what verse we’re talking about, Death is ALWAYS going to be protective of Del. Fiercely so. It isn’t to the extent that it becomes smothering or that she tries to keep Del from doing what she’s gonna do. It’s more so that she will not and does not tolerate anyone talking badly about her youngest sister, and people have slowly started to learn better.
She is frequently checking in on her and seeing how she’s doing because she worries over her; it’s hard not to worry over Delirium when she realizes full well just how hard their jobs really are and how their lives aren’t as charming as one might think. Then there’s the fact that she doesn’t really know what made Delirium into the young woman that she is or why she went from Delight to Delirium so very long ago, but she figures that it has to be something traumatic and vastly life altering for it to have affected her so profoundly, so she just sort of wants to make sure that Del is as okay as she can ever be, no judgments or anything ever being made.
Plus, considering I pretty much headcanon that Death took on the role of the maternal figure so long ago when it became clear to her that Night didn’t care for any of the Endless beyond what they could do for her, it’s really hard for her to shake those instincts off.
Sunshade softened by high clouds. Gentle, chilly breezes playfully dance around my skin, leaving ephemeral kisses on my cheeks. The trees are singing carols of the summer, of times I never knew, they tell me timeless tales that burn deep down my soul and feed my starving fantasies of colliding galaxies and exploding atoms. Transcendental world reflected in the silver water, it’s quiet but I hear Earth’s heartbeat synchronized with mine and the buzzing of the bees reverberates around me like an age-old chant of indian angels, I see nebulae when I close my eyes, and I see Neptune in the sky when I open them.
A low humming of nature’s voices sounds like the jazz melodies I listen to at night when sleep is far away, and my neurotic, lonesome mannerisms are finally at peace, and volcanoes stop exploding inside my head and bloodshot eyes. I write my thoughts in the warm sand because they are forever and earth will take and keep them like a sworn secret, a love letter written by mortal for immortal.
I am here alive and I will stay alive for this infinity, I will live in the sweet scent of honey, in the colour of sunflower fields, I will be the wind messing with your hair, I will be the stars collapsing and stars being born lightyears away from reality.
My feet are embraced by mercury, dreaming of love and oblivion, the deepest mysteries of the silver lake that will submerge me whole and never release.
No sense of time, delightful amnesia, delirium, and a million unspoken words roaring out of my mind. They will be heard.
Daybreak. She had fled, escaped for now, but she knew her veneer was worn. Confusion and discomfort ruled her. She couldn’t think straight. She stilled herself, willing invisibility. Perched on the edge of a public fountain, slipping her fingers among the koi, Santana slowed her breath, letting the sound and the cool of the water calm her heart.
Her double life was getting harder and harder to maintain. Separated by the narrow bands of dusk and dawn, day and night determined her demeanor. Cleft: during the days she had to find only the very best of her old self, but at night she was reborn as something vastly changed; powerful, ghastly, impelled, yet repelled, by her urge to feed.
Once, her dreams seemed a game. But when they returned again and again, never with the same faces, the dreams remained the same. Dreams of draining, lush hunger driving her to drink, drawing their lifeforce into herself. When she’d take them in fear, their essence searing her insides, she felt the same bitter glut in the gut. She’d learned to make it pleasant for them, make it a seduction, make herself an angel, whatever they needed, so they’d flow into her like warm honey with lemon, smooth, tangy, velvety, cloying. All it took was a touch, with clear intent, and she could take them into the realm of their desires.
The dreams started when she was young, when her cousin suddenly moved away, the adults in their lives scandalized. Caught kissing her cousin. The girl approached her first— she’d been blamed and beaten anyway. She hadn’t fought back.
When she realized what she was becoming at night, she’d made the decision to continue the cover-up in her waking hours to make up for it. She knew in her sinews they were more than just dreams. People were dying, by her hands, by her mouth. Stricken by her own need and desire to feed, she counterbalanced with a simple strategy—
She would not say no. She would deny her family nothing. She would serve, in hopes of atonement, without complaint. She would make her parents meals, clean their house, do their shopping. She would scrub their floors on her knees. She would curb her hot temper, rest her impulsiveness. Give that rough magic free rein only for her kills.
She would not say yes either. She distracted, deflected, never one thing or another, always… tough to pin down, slipping through the cracks. The practice was limiting, but for years it kept her safe, under the radar, unknown.
She was grown. She’d rejected community for self-protection, but in the long run, for a long time, she’d been ready to quit her day/night split and have some fun. She craved sloughing control. She imagined acting on impulse. What would it be like to take prey in the daylight? She remembered ruling grade school, recklessly picking fights.
(More deflection, she just didn’t know what from yet.)
She’d learned a hundred, a thousand ways to imply refusal, to edge around it, to make things just uncomfortable enough for another person to back off, but she was a good girl, always polite, always politic, always punctual. She functioned like a clock. Up at six, breakfast at seven, rides at eight, cleanup at nine, shop at ten, eat at twelve, start cooking at four, rides home at five, dinner at six, cleanup at seven, glass of wine at nine, bed at ten. Resentment blocked and replaced with atonement at all the other hours.
(But a clock, the cuckoo kind, an old-fashioned mechanical one, needs setting and winding or else it runs down.)
Her sleep reset her.
But the dreams upset her. Dreaming, she would fly over fields high as corn, no wings, no cape, yet flying anyway, flying right into a hitchhiker, knocking him over, applying her mouth to his, drinking deep. Then, replenished, sleeping deep.
(She knew she was a killer, but she would not stop.)
The first time the body fell away, she was so sated she shrugged it off. Her senses were swimming in starbursts, the texture of melted dark chocolate, the sounds of breath surging in and out, the smells of freshly chipped Christmas trees, new cedar planks, wood smoke. Meat. She’d been starving. As though she’d eaten nothing since— nothing since—
Her cousin. Her uncle.
Rage invaded her, shaking her hard, plucking her tongue. She’d lost her appetite, her drive, her fight, until at once, at night, in dreams, she arrived at the perfect balm. Calm spread through her, for a day, sometimes two, until the hunger brought her back to hunt another, dreaming.
(What matter the husk left behind? It’s no one, it’s dreamstuff, it’s shucked, however rough.)
Sometimes it was a girl.
Sometimes it was a girl, with surprised eyes, round mouth and oh— It was hard not to feel anything when she knew that look so well. She knew from the inside the transition from delight to terror. She followed through anyway. And they— became part of her. So in the daylight, she wanted to seem simple, easy, bright.
Sometimes, when she took two in a night, the hunger slackened. An idea struck her.
Could she get relief if she could feel it? Obviously, she couldn’t fly in the daylight, or the waking night, but what if she could touch them with more than just her mind? Could she breathe them in with her hands, her nose, her mouth? Dreams were easy. This sort of thing required forethought.
“You seem unlike yourself,” her mother had interrupted.
“I am more and more myself,” she’d countered.
Her mind changed gears, moving smoothly, faster, ticking through potential opportunities. Not her parents. Not yet. She got too much from them to want to take them. She’d set it up. She’d made it easy. Much like the dreams, without the flying.
(But it’s trying. It takes its toll. Her soul has yet to make peace with it, and taking them, taking humans, taking people, breaks her apart, piecemeal. And it is taking, but it’s more than just taking. It’s subsuming, taking over, taking out.)
(It may keep her alive, but part of her dies inside. Every time.)
Physical contact immediately increased the effect of the feed. Actually sensing the life resisting, feeling the ebb before the flow, the fear (jagged), the desire (smooth)— even the terminal ones hesitated, even in ecstasy. She could taste the moment they realized this was permanent. But she’d been changed, permanently. She needed them to live. So she stalked, surprised, seduced— and they succumbed. The kills flushed warm honey through her, followed by ice water. Sometimes it left her gasping. She was grateful it didn’t require spilling blood.
Sometimes she hunted predators. If she had to kill, why not them? So she’d walk. She’d sometimes blend in, sometimes stand out, but no longer left evidence. Never ever left witnesses. The hunger required that she take them all.
Nothing her parents could say kept her from her midnight walks.
“It’s unsafe,” they’d say.
“Beg to differ,” said she.
One night she let one live.
The woman’s eyes embodied fearlessness. One whiff of the woman’s essence made Santana think she could live forever, sipping her. The expected bitterness, the usual raw-edged fear, even the spicy, earthy anger was missing. Santana found herself sinking into the woman’s blue eyes, into her smile, into her breath. The woman did not shy away. Santana could almost believe the woman knew her. She could almost believe in love.
It was a mistake, an accident. A reckless act.
Fight, flight, or freeze?
Logic, if she had any left, demanded a decision: make it quick and be done, or have some fun, then end it.
But the woman took her hand. Soothing warmth flowed between them.
“I’m Brittany,” she said.
Santana knew she’d just lost.
Predator became prey, still, waiting, anxious for the end. But this woman she’d spared, this Brittany, could be her friend.
She could not say no. Loneliness was another hunger. But she could not say yes either.
She didn’t notice the thread attached at the hand Brittany had clasped. She didn’t notice it because it was gossamer. Impossibly light, invisible— except to Brittany.
Brittany tracked her to the fountain, spinning the thread into herself as she went. The weaver watched the succubus calm herself, felt the echoes of her heart slowing, and gently approached.
“Hey,” she said, catching Santana’s hand again.
Santana gasped and jumped, but something about the woman’s touch made her hesitate. Something about the woman’s eyes hypnotized her slightly.
Brittany withdrew her hand, fixing her with her eyes.
“I could help you, if you let me.”
Brittany reached out and touched Santana’s face. Santana let her.
“In fact, I have been helping you, Santana.”
Santana’s eyes grew wide. How could she—?
“I’ve been helping you feed in your dreams.”
Santana lay her hand on top of Brittany’s. Her forehead crinkled. The unfamiliar sensation inside stilled her. Their breath synchronized.
“You belong with us, Santana.”
“What are you doing to me?”
“You are what you are,” said Brittany, “and you are—“ She leaned in and kissed Santana’s lips. “—delicious.”
(Flashbacks of her cousin. The sensation swelled. Delight, delirium, discomfort.)
In the thin band of dawn, Santana sensed the desire to surrender, to embrace the woman in front of her, to embrace her own nature. Brittany, noticing her slight inclination toward her, drew her close, wrapped her arms around her, stroking gently.
“You are good, Santana. And you feed off humans. It’s what you are. You can learn to feed without killing.”
Something about the stroking, something about the proximity, something about the way Brittany gave of herself without expectation soaked into Santana’s skin. Conflicting emotions arose, shame, hope, fear, acceptance, fighting for room in her shriveled heart. But the stroking flowed into her, softening, soothing, smoothing the tears between her light and her dark.
(To be whole again, what would it be like to be whole?)