enough with the raw. you had me at that red one you sent back yesterday

Elorcan Werewolf AU part 9

“even a white rose 

has a black shadow”     

Elorcan Werewolf 9

Elide Lochan was locked in a cell, a chain latched firmly onto her ankles. Her shadow would bend and stretch to a dance of melancholy and insanity, dark dreams drenching her sleep. The cold would seep into her bones, every movement emitting a crack and the occasional snap. Purple crescents shaped under her eyes, her throat a rasp of what she once was.

Elide covered her ears as screeches filled the air—the rusted food tray sliding under the opposite side of the wall through a thin slat and grating against the splintered stones. Her spine remained curled as she slowly rocked into herself, the flurry of scratches scraping against her ears.

Elide slowly leaned forward, fingers reaching for the edge of the tray. Her hand wrapped around the cup of water, stale and murky. A noise of determination escaped her cracked throat as she pulled the cup to herself, her hands wobbling.

The cup spilled.

The fluid slithered through the cracks in the floor, weaving through the ground.

Elide pressed her cheek against the floor, the droplets caressing her face and nails caked with grime. She opened her mouth as wide as she could, allowing the water streaks to trickle into her mouth.

Elide laid there, loneliness wrapping around her like a blanket, laying there on the cold stones, chained, and waiting for time to drag on.

And on and on.

Her cell opened, the jarring sound rattling her into clearer conscience, and Vernon’s face peered down. Fear whipped through her.

Not again, she silently begged. A couple more seconds.

Her prayers went unanswered.

“Ready to try again?” he smirked, and jerked the chain out.

Her body dragged along the stones, and slumped against the base of the rocky stairs. She felt every crack along the ground cutting her spine and shredding her ears. The chain clattered to the floor, and a sharp kick to her side sent her to the first step at the base of the cave.

“You know what happens if you can’t make it,” he hissed, the stench of alcohol oozing from his breath.

Elide knew.

And Vernon knew too, a belt snugly fit into his hands, his black-collared shirt already unbuttoned.

“Climb,” he ordered.

And she did.

Up and up and up.

To the unreachable light. 


Elide could not breathe.

She could not think.

She could not focus.

She could only move — every whisper of movement laced with a burning sensation over her hands, knees, and feet to her very lungs.

Her eyes failed her long ago, the tiny slivers of sunlight a shrapnel scraping into her irises. Even with her lids closed, fractures of brightness invaded, too much light for a too long stay stay in the darkness — in hell.

Her hands scraped over stones, scars scratching open. So much blood had spilled and bathed over her body that she could taste the crimson, salted liquid in her tongue.

She didn’t have the energy to spit it out.

Not when her body would seize her with huge wracking spells; her throat closed up and she coughed on her own blood. Her lungs burned, her throat wheezing to a cacophony.

The climb reduced her to submit fully to her knees and hands, a wounded and shattered animal in human form with nothing but the raw emotions of enmity — except no longer did her instincts sing to live, but to relinquish in death’s calling.

Every crack in the ground furthered the descent into madness and rage. The echoing sounds in remembrance of the lash of the whip and the tearing of her clothes set her forward, almost as she’d been duly programmed to climb and climb — tortuously slowly and painfully — skimming the cracked ground with numb hands bearing running lines of red soaking her skin all the way from her ribs down to her toes.

Swabs of cotton blossomed underneath her forehead, her throat thick with saliva from panting and scratches from rasping out her mantra over and over again.

Lorcan, Lorcan, Lorcan.

Lorcan Salvaterre.

Commander of the Lycan Pack.

Her mate.

Hers.

Was.

Blood spilled out her mouth. Her hand caught inside a wedge of slab, her wrist splintering as she pitifully tried — memories slamming and wedging into every corner — tried to stop remembering, old wounds reopening.

Elide gurgled in the blood rinsing her mouth as her bone snapped.

Her cheek rested against cold stone as she heaved, greedily inhaling the musty air that no longer fuller reeked of the rotten, decaying stench of poisoned flesh.

Lorcan Salvaterre.

Her hand clawed along another stone when she heard the lash of the belt at her toes.

“I loved you.”

She saw red beneath her lids as she hauled her body up, her legs shaking and arms shuddering. There was no more youthful joy with dazzling hopes of love. Reality proved the coldness severing any warmth.

“You did not give me a chance, Elide. So I will not give you a second one.”

She collapsed along the stones, a seizure wracking her body, blood spilling out of her cracked lips. Everything swam underneath her, a buzzing sound cutting across her forehead and through her ears. Her only chances were this torture of trying and failing.

Give up, a part of her said. Give up, the walls and shadows and blood and flesh and bone whispered.

So she gave up.

Gave up to heartbreak.

Almost.

A part of her wanted to consent.

To submit to the darkness.

But that tiny, shredded sliver of hope still shone within her. A tiny thread of sanctuary

A dry laugh sounded behind her, a rasping voice that sent shivers across her skin.

She’d been still too long.

The whip lashed across her back.

Her body didn’t have enough energy to arch off the ground—instead she laid limp and broken and shattered. Salt wove through her mouth, grime caking her tastebuds, and salt oozing in thick waves out.

She could feel a hand working up her thigh, and the familiar, rotten stench overcoming her. She could not conjure up the scent of her once-mate anymore, emptiness and bitterness plaguing her.

Not again.  

“Looks like another failure,” the dark voice tsked, darkness overcoming her, shadows leaping over the dark walls collapsing over her and squeezing the last remains of breath from her lungs.

It burned.


Aelin’s door banged open again, the smell of fried noodles and apple juice filling her nostrils. She pressed down the uncomfortable feeling of distaste squirming in her stomach, and noted Manon’s similar look of uneasiness. Elide’s absence had affected them both, nourishment no longer appealing; it had been the Elide, the Pack Doctor apprentice, who had made sure they afforded time to eat rather than completely dive into Pack duties.

The palace door closed, and the scent of familiarity washed over her.

“Rowan,” Aelin greeted, turning her face away, and then paused. “Or should I say personal chef now?”

A snort. “Emrys cooked.”

“So you’re the messenger boy?”

Pine-green eyes flashed. “A boy wouldn’t have had you moaning yesterday.”

Her cheeks flushed at the whisper of memory while Manon sneered at the male, pointing a warning claw at the male. Rowan stilled at the challenge emanating from the half-Lycan.

Gods, not again.

The Prince of Lycans set the plates at the foot of Aelin’s bed with a clatter, and strode to her Beta, coldness and fury radiating from the testosterone-filled body.

“Stand down,” Aelin ordered quietly, watching Manon silently tense. The last thing they all needed was an internal conflict, especially when her own pack member and the Lycan commander were missing.

Rage flickered through those pine-green eyes from his mate’s command. Rowan let out a growl building from the base of his throat, but otherwise stalked back to her bed, breathing in the scent from her blankets and pillows. The muscles at his back and shoulders rippled.

How delicate these males were, exercising self-control daily, each strand chipping away with each passing day.

Aelin reverted back to pacing around her room, ignoring her mate’s constant fussy looks and worrying tactics—and the occasional careful and well-guarded look towards Manon.

Too many plates of untouched fruits, meats, and vegetables piled up in her room, nectar tea and water lining against her walls. The amount of food Rowan had brought her started to resemble a banquet, and if the Prince of Lycans didn’t stop soon, she wouldn’t be able to walk through her own damned temporary room without swimming through a sea of plates and bowls. Walking around this room in the castle consumed her from the normalcy of living within her own controlling borders. Not to mention the other female residents in the Lycan castle lived just a hall down, driving her senses to the edge.

Manon stabbed a nail through a blood-red apple, peeling the skin off into perfectly thin curls. Each strip, no doubt, tasted bland and dry, a reflection of the past couple months turned into emptiness and dread, living in a proliferation of well-kept fear.

“How could anyone obtain Yellowleg’s poison?” Aelin stared out the window where she could only imagine the nightmare Elide was living in daylight. The rays no longer held warmth she could soak in like a security blanket, but rather held a mockery of what she could not protect even in broad daylight. Her skin felt cold, but one look from her mate had a different type of heat racing through her.

She looked away.

Manon’s teeth latched around the peel. “I don’t understand how the poison still could have affected Lorcan after he killed Essar.”

Aelin paused, a myriad of dark scenarios crossing over her mind. She rubbed her temples, a slight draft breezing in and skimming over her skin. Abruptly slamming the window shut, tension rolled over her, not even her mate’s presence able to soothe her. “It doesn’t add up in the first place. If Essar is dead, then who controlled Lorcan while he was at the castle?”

Manon let out a low hiss, one that demanded bloodshed. A calm, killer look crested her face, and her claws slid out. Her eyes cut towards Aelin. “Now that is the real question.”

Rowan cleared his throat. “I doubt it would have been Essar. She did have give her heart to Lorcan, but she knew her boundaries. By the atrocities of her actions, the whole scenario seems absurd, almost as if she’d also been on the poison to act such.”

A pause.

Manon cocked her head, a predator accessing the situation and how to pin down the prey who’d slipped from their grasp one-too many times.

Rowan crossed his legs from Aelin’s bed, the gesture too simple—through the complications—for her eyes to handle. Growling, she chucked the plate of steamed broccoli and peppered carrots at her mate’s head.

The bastard merely flicked his hand, his magic neatly setting the trays on her bed.

Lunging forward, Aelin made way to tackle him, but Rowan hastily stood up, holding both palms up in the air.

Not in defeat, but in contemplation.

He frowned. “The day you came to the castle, pretending you were sick—” Rowan cast a hard look towards Aelin, who merely raised a brow “—you—” He turned towards Manon who had reduced the apple to the very core “—You said you saw Remelle in the palace. In the halls.”

Manon tossed the core in the air, and caught it within her hands without breaking the stare with the Prince of Lycans. “Yes.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed. “That’s…odd.”

It was Aelin’s turn to shoot her mate a glare. “Why’s that exactly?”

“Because she should have been in my room.”

The Alpha of the Fireheart Pack cocked a hand on her hip. “Oh?” Aelin put her mate’s words far out of her mind. When Elide was safe within her pack, then she could think about Rowan’s endeavors with other females. She told herself she didn’t care anyways, not when she had a line of unmated males, and even Alphas, desiring her—but still, the comment stung deep within her.

She’d make the Prince of Lycans think twice in who he was dealing with.

She’d started to think that the whatever deity out there was not some benevolent goddess anymore.

Rowan stalked closer towards her—daring her to interrupt and shut him out. “She’s been deigning to carry out her diplomatic meetings in my room, otherwise choosing to withhold information. That day, she was supposed to fill me in about the Morath Pack. Any details we could use to legally shut them down and use to show the Council.”

Manon let out a low hiss, ignoring Rowan’s hesitance and Aelin’s vehemence. “Morath,” The Beta gutturally gutted out so viciously Rowan’s teeth bared. “Remelle asked Elide how was Morath.”

Morath—Gods, Elide. Lorcan was right—it was that breeding place after all this time.

Vernon wasn’t trying to lie low.

“Even if Elide lived in Morath—” Rowan started, but Aelin’s face paled, realization pouring through her, a vast broken dam.

“It wasn’t Essar who poisoned Lorcan.”

Manon stiffened. “It was the one who is vying for your mate.”

Aelin’s heart stuttered. “Remelle.”

Manon clicked her teeth together, and turned towards Rowan, baring her teeth. “The first time I met Remelle, I was given the orders to not harm a hair on her head. Now?”

The Prince of Lycan’s eyes matched the half-Lycan’s dark glint full of malice and ill intent. “Those orders have reversed.”

Aelin watched Manon and Rowan stride out of the door, purpose filling each of their veins. She supposed it would be fun to have a little chat with the Lycan princess—find out her exact her role with Elide’s kidnapping and her intentions with her own mate—killing two birds with one stone.

The familiar scent of fresh air, pine, and snow filled her nostrils. Rowan pushed her door open again and stood footsteps away from her, a hard look on his face.

“I know what this may seem like, but if you trust me, believe me when I said nothing transpired.”

The Alpha of the Fireheart pack stared at the rotten core Manon had tossed on her floor. Dead and putrid—what state would she find Elide in? Even worse, she dreaded the state Lorcan would find Elide in. The retribution unleashed…

Mate or mateless, both had been tied together by the ineffable feelings of hope and life, a choice both had accepted.

“It’s not you I’m worried about,” Aelin said slowly, meeting her mate’s gaze. “I’m more worried about Remelle.”

She could feel the strings to her link with Manon and the waves of delight rolling through her Beta, just as a high-pitched, feminine scream pierced the air. A grin played over Aelin’s lips and she stalked to the door, sparing one last glance back.

“You coming?” she asked.

Rowan gave a slow shake of his head, and strode next to her, leaning slightly down. “When things settle down,” he said quietly. “I hope you will consider a future with me.”

The hairs at the nape of her neck prickled, and she opened her mouth, tongue tied with too many thoughts. She refused to give up her Alpha position, especially to live among royalty where she’d be nothing more than a trophy wife. “We—”

A body flew towards past their door, and crashed into the wall at the end of the hallway. Manon stalked down the hall, bloodlust written in her eyes, and crimson red dripping off her nails and onto the expensive sapphire carpets.

Remelle’s back was bent—snapped. A hand was pressed against her mouth, brimming with saliva and blood.

“A deal with Rogue Baba Yellowlegs,” Manon hissed, the rims of her dark gold eyes glazed with phantom ghosts. “Two drops of Yellowleg’s poison for the princess here for the promise of winning the queen’s crown in return to revoke Baba’s Rogue status.”

“And?” Aelin pushed.

“One drop in Essar’s breakfast tea. Under the spell, she’d been commanded to poison Lorcan’s goblet.”

Remelle’s shudder was confirmation enough.

Aelin pursed her lips. “Is Baba Yellowlegs still alive?”

Manon swung Wind Cleaver in a wide arc, and Remelle screamed, covering her eyes. “Yes! Yes she is!” When Manon’s claws slid out, the Lycan princess quickly added, “Morath,” her body trembling and convulsing.

Rowan frowned. “That’s most likely one of the quickest, successful interrogations I’ve ever seen.”

The Alpha of the Fireheart Pack smirked. “It’s why she’s my Beta.” Because the half-Lycan bred more unsatiasted ills inside of her, cultivated over the years, never receiving the closure comfort in her past. The wrath of a woman never worshipped.

Remelle screamed as the half-Lycan stalked towards her, swinging Wind Cleaver easily in one hand. The Lycan princess glanced desperately at Rowan, who merely nodded his head at Manon in expectation.

“Wait,” Aelin said, cracking her neck.

Manon looked at her impatiently, the black in her eyes dilating in anticipation.

“You get Sorscha and reinforcements to Morath as soon as possible.”

A nod from Manon, albeit unwillingly. The half-Lycan spared one last glance at the Lycan princess, who slumped against the wall in relief. And then her Beta was gone, a menace’s shadow.

To Elide, to restoration.

Aelin, Alpha of the Fireheart Pack and mate to the Prince of Lycans, stepped forward from under the doorway, and locked eyes with the Princess of Lycans.

“Remelle,” she purred. “You and I are going to have a nice, long civil chat.”

She drew Damaris from her sheath, the blade glinting against the overarching golden beams.

To the unanswered dreams and whisper of hope within them all.


Vernon rebuckled his pants, licking his lips in satisfaction. The experiments on captured wolves turned them into Ilken now guarded Morath so that not one soul would dare not survive a trip past his borders.

He’d gotten his empire, and built a kingdom out of skulls and death. He’d done the impossible without the interference of the Lycans blooded with Royalty. He’d beaten the heir to his Pack into submission.

He’d gotten it all. And so much more.

Nightmares turned into realities.

He had his secrets, his dark deeds, his gory graves, burning in his brain, a living hell, his own to hole up under lock and key.

His boots shoved the limp figure away from him, a nest of black hair lying dead against the slope of stones. Blood pooled around her, her stomach caved in, mouth open in a silent scream of terror. A perfect doll stuffed with poisoned needles and sewed with barbed words.

He had broken the Perranth spirit and heir, and carved out Morath, a devil’s realm of hell to rule absolutely.

A mirthless chuckle shuddered through him, seizing every pore. He’d brought down a Pack of light and hope, tore through every crack, and filled the gap with his own gushing red rivers of twisted wickedness.

The truth was out. That heinous acts could thrive and withhold a place in this too gray world.

He’d nudge the canvas towards the ink, and devour the white. Completely.

Vernon felt, rather than saw, a shift in the darkness—a different blackness with more volumes.

A hatchet whistled through the cave, and flew through a wide arc, nearly slicing the limp figure’s fingers, rottened and rottled.

A heavy, dark presence shattered the shapes of phantom and shadow.

Pure, undiluted rage and unfiltered feralness.

And barrenly broken.

The Alpha of the Morath Pack slowly turned around, revealing yellow-red teeth, caked with the crimson liquid of the broken body’s mortality. A nasty soul for the invading one in his land, his territory, his sanctuary.

“You missed,” he hissed in delight.

A warrior of moon’s darkness, not of the sun’s glory descended into the cave.

Deeper, deeper into hell. His hell and no one else’s. His, his, his and his own lovely-pieced heaven.

Welcome, he almost breathed, soaking in the other demon’s face.  Look at this little lush.

The darkness flared out, every vein within him throbbing as if pins and needles had stitched through him.

A hysterical laughter shot through him.

A consequence that had not foreseen.

A broken girl with a broken mate.

Put together, they healed.

He should have known. Wedged them further, despite the inevitable. His own secret darkness failed, to tell to another larger and loose dark, a spawn of wretched misery.

A wild, maniacal grin—a monster he had unknowingly forged. A living sin.

“Did I?” the twisted darkness rasped.

Vernon’s ankle collapsed, a chunk of flesh ripped and torn, blood seeping through the floor, dark ink swirling with the fading scarlet. A slice reeking of revenge felt to the depths of his marrow.

The hatchet yanked out of his ankle, and the Alpha’s knees kissed the stones. A pale hand, too twisted for true comprehension, gripped the hatchet.

The little girl who had hung onto that little thread twisted with hope.

A fading will focused on retribution, a face meaner than his own demons.

He hadn’t won.

The warrior slipped through his peripheral, the slickness of the liquids sliding over his hands too tangible.

“Tell me how you did it,” he insisted, not feebly—anything but. Foam bubbled at his lips. “Slipped through my defenses unharmed.”

His utopia. Meeting an end to greater darkness. There was no perfection, truer silencer than this. The Ilken had failed him, his fantasy had not been fulfilled, the girl had not crossed over the line. Into insanity.

The warrior stepped over his mangled ankle. A true devil in a lower hide.

More pain, but numb.

Onyx eyes peered into him, a smile promising more things than the sweet release of decaying. Hardened and unconquered. Eternal seconds of breathings for this very moment.

He repeated his words. Slurred.

Grasped at the syllables in response.

Knew the warrior opened his mouth.

Did not know the warrior had been broken and remade. Would remake the broken, shattered figure next to him, gripping the hatchet with a ferocity only the desperate could hold before fading away into dust.

The warrior knelt down next to him, and leaned close to his ear.

Opened his mouth. Said the words again—

Death cannot conquer love.

The sickened rose within him, swirling and spiraling savagely. Vernon howled at the sounds of answer, the clipped crunching cracks chipping away. Heard them over and over again, slithering down his ear and wrapping around him, a vice like grip. Choking him from the inside.

Again and again.

The Alpha of the Morath Pack heard the beating drums of madness crescending louder and louder and louder matching the beating within his own ribcage until all fell into silence and solemness.


She knew she was blinded.

Suffering in the darkness did not mean alleviation in the light.

Too bright, too sunny—she could not see the same way again.

The male warrior had stripped his shirt into thin slices and wrapped the fabric around her eyes, shielding them from the blinding sensations of radiant rays that ripped through her orbs.

But—

—she knew she was safe.

Secure, and sound.

Warm, and protected.

There was no words needed to fill the silence, not when a reunion of simple touching kissed away every troubled crack.

It was as if the past had washed away with the present.

A hand wove through her knotted hair and stroked her scalp, rubbing away the grime and dirt coating her roots.

“Elide,” he murmured, and Elide felt the vibrations rumbling through his chest.

Hers.

His.

Elide opened her eyes, the thread expanding and pouring through her. The warmth from that sliver span flashed through her, and she felt her insides match the other string’s song, the warrior whose arms she was in. Then—in that moment, she realized paradise was not a place, but a feeling.

Mates.

How could she forget that rough-hewn face and those onyx eyes—once haunted—now glimmering with that resounding hope pulsating through her.

Lorcan Salvaterre.

“I am an immortal, seen it all, met it all. But you—” The Commander of the Lycans looked at her with something akin to almost wonder in his eyes. “—You, Elide, are entirely different. You taught me ascension.” His fingers cupped her face, a gentle caress. “You taught me that life is finite and fragile.” His Adam’s apple bobbed.

Elide Lochan cried.

And her mate cried with her.


Elide felt the threads of connections flowing through her, more safety nets, more familiarities. More lives.

She could hear the sharp and feminine voice ringing through the air, and taste the death of Rogues on her tongue.

A blade whistled through the air, and she smiled.

Wind Cleaver.

Which only meant—the white-haired wolf stalked through the clearing, black blood and dust showering her leathers. Claws and teeth and all, she was still radiating the dominance of the powerful and unconquered, the unhinged lethalness of past and present.  

A fierce, feral grin. “If you call one werewolf, you invite the pack.”

Lycans and Fireheart Pack members filtered through the clearing, some scratched, some bleeding, some scarred. Blistered hands and broken joints.

But alive.

Seeing the Lycan carrying her in his arms, Manon gave him a warning glare, but a sharp nod. The white-haired warrior disappeared through the trees, the sound of wind and death weaving through the trees as more of the Ilken summoned, only to receive the hand of death.

This was not some pity party, but art—in death.

In the deserved.

“No,” she whispered, and her mate carried her to the edge of the thick, crooked trees where she could see glimpses of Sorscha and other medical care. Her chest rattled, and her throat cracked. But— “I want to be the one.”

She stared into those onyx eyes that carried her physically and mentally through the darkness, and willed them to understand.

“You want to be the one to bring Morath down,” her mate said, stroking her cheek.

Yes.

Her eyes fluttered close, tiredness overwhelming her. Every part of her still hurt and throbbed, but once these passings passed—

The once Alpha of the Perranth Pack would reclaim her throne.

“Elide,” Lorcan said, solemnly. “I need to know one thing before you pass out.”

Elide Lochan blurrily stared at the shape carrying her, stroking her. Loving her.

She could feel the presence of Sorscha pressing a damp cloth against her forehead, and her mate hooking her trembling fingers through his. Flesh thoroughly marked and matched.

“Do you—” A pause “—love—”

Elide Lochan screamed, a new flare of flame flashing through her. She saw red and felt raw, as if her insides were on fire. Her bones rattled and spine seemed to contract.

More pain.

To think it would end, she almost cackled.

What the hell is going on?” Lorcan roared, gripping her hands, which had started to tremble uncontrollably.

Sorscha—sweet Sorscha—swore, a rattle of a gasp emerging from the pale column of her throat. “She’s Settling.”

Elide Lochan nestled into the darkness, submitting to this other facet of pain and fracture.


Lorcan looked down at the trembling figure in his arms, twisting and turning. Her skin sweated in large rivulets, stinging even his hands.

His mate.

Suffering once again. They were dirty and dirt, but they could blossom from their own embittered seeds. Together.

He swore it. To her, to his mate, to his future.

Sorscha took a hesitant step forward. “By her conditions, I cannot guarantee that she’ll live through the process in becoming Lycan.”

He felt his darkness flare out, angry, bent on madness. Rage. “If you cannot guarantee,” he said lowly. “Then I will.”

He ignored Manon’s demands to halt and Sorscha’s protest. He sent one demand to Rowan Whitethorn, one if carried out, would pay off all of the Prince’s debts to him.

Lorcan Salvaterre whisked his mate away from the screams and tucked her thrashing body under his chin. Elide Lochan was his mate, so damned poison nor words nor ills could deprive him of.

And he would be damned if even Death could snatch that away from him.

Because death could could not conquer love. And love bled in war.  


Rowan Whitethorn tossed the Alpha of the Morath Pack into a cold cell.

Dark and damp.

Aelin and Manon and the entire Fireheart Pack had clawed at the dungeon entrance, demanding justice and retribution to end the pitiful existence of the monster of a man, Vernon.

But he had a deal and a command.

And he would make sure it would be upheld.

The Prince of the Lycans locked the door and watched the gears spur shut. Click after click after click.

No escape.

Confinement.

While Morath was in flames, the true dark core rested within the beating heart of the man who had raised an army of rogues into turned Ilken and experiment on the souls of once-purity.

It was only a matter of time before the pulsing faded away into ashes and dust.


The man clawed at the walls and howled and screamed and scratched and laughed.

Insanity and lunacy. His liar.

His bones started to rattle, blood burn, his teeth chatter, his eyes widen, his jaw unhinge, his insides boil, and his body twitch over and over into a dark and forbidden dance of nightmares and little secrets. 

A swooning flame swished through him, and the little specks flecked across his head. The chunk of missing flesh at his ankle seared and sparked. The demons within him caved him, a forbidden forgiveness. 

Shadow and phantom. Dark and dangerous.

Ill and inquiry.

Hueless and hellish.

And his Settling began. And a new reign dawned. 

Newcomers Pt 27

“I cannot believe you said that, do you know what you have done!”

“I’m sorry mother” Taleena said kneeling with her head down.

“You had the perfect opportunity and you blew it, you have doomed this family to a life of nothing!”

Her father stood by the wall saying nothing but glaring at her his anger just below the surface.

“I did my best mother”

“Well it wasn’t good enough, all the other girls there were prettier and far better, the fact you were invited at all astounds me!”

Suddenly her older brother came running in “Have you guys seen this!” holding out a pamphlet.


Citizens of Geeda, the new Chieftain wishes it to be known that he has chosen a wife who he will marry on the day of his Crowning in 3 days. All those who met the Chieftain will receive a letter telling them of his decision.


“Well there you go then, obviously he was going to choose someone else” her mother screamed.

“It said they haven’t sent the letters out yet” her father pointed out.

“Want me to kick his ass?” her brother asked her.

“Um…”

“Jakop shut up, Taleena go wash the plates”

“Yes mother”

She sheepishly got to her feet and went to the kitchen to do as her mother asked while listening to her parents argue. Her mind went back to yesterday when she spoke with the Chieftain, he seemed nice and it did not seem like she had messed things up. They had laughed together. But then, the wife of a Chieftain is supposed to be the one who keeps his court in order, run the city in his absence and keep an eye out for those disloyal. She could never do that and she cursed herself for even going to that meeting. How could the Chieftain even think about choosing her over all those other girls, those ones in expensive dresses and hair all done high. The make up on their faces was probably worth more than her family earned in a year.

“I won’t even open that letter when it arrives, I know what it will say” she said to herself as she cleaned the plates.

But was she not pleasing to the eye? One man had thought so back in their home town, he had done the traditional thing of grabbing her and slinging her over his shoulder. If it was not for her brother who tackled and beat him half to death she would most likely be with him now. She imagined what it might be like if her brother had not intervened, had he taken her away from her controlling mother and her neglectful father. She hated herself for thinking this, who in their right mind would want to be taken in such a way? But she did, that’s why she went when the letter of summons arrived. Such a stupid girl she was thinking that a Chieftain would choose her and take her from this life. In her anger she accidentally snapped one of the plates. This did not go unnoticed by her mother who grabbed the rod and pulled her hair making her fall to the ground.


It was dark now, Taleena lay on her front as the strikes from her mother were still raw and hurt so she read her book to take her mind of it. A knock at her door drew her attention from her story, she knew who it was as there was only one person who would knock on her door before entering.

“Come in Jakop”

“I’m not disturbing am I?”

“No, it’s fine”

He walked in and sat beside her on her bed. “How are you?” he said placing his hand carefully on her back.

“A little tender but I will be okay” she replied not looking up.

“You know, if that Chieftain child doesn’t pick you I’ll personally castrate him with a blunt knife”

“Save one of his balls for me so I can put it in a jar on my shelf”

“Good one each, you keep one and I’ll fry and eat the other”

“Ewww”

“What? That’s how I gain his power, isn’t it?”

“What books have you been reading?” she asked horrified,

“What’s this reading you speak of?”

“Oh you are an idiot and so am I”

“Why’d you say that?” Jakop said calming down.

“The were a lot of other girls there far better than me, prettier than me, wealthier than me”

“Nonsense!” Jakop shot to his feet “No girl is prettier than my little sister and I’ll kill any man who says otherwise”

Taleena turned and looked at him “You are being awfully nice to me, why?”

“I don’t need a reason, could it be I wanted to make you feel better”

She raised an eyebrow in response.

“You’re right that doesn’t sound like me at all”

“Lights out you two” came their fathers voice and Jakop ran out the room leaving Taleena alone.

The night supposed to be a time for sleep and of silence but there was still noise coming from the city as it went about it’s preparations for the Crowning. Their home as on the parade route and thus decorations were being hung from the buildings, Taleena jumped when a Human hand leapt to her window ledge to attach a rope. She was annoyed because after that she had dropped her book and lost where she was. She had waited until she was sure everyone was asleep and lit her bedside lamp so she could continue her book. Bending down the struck and red skin on her back flared in pain, her mother had not held back when she had struck her. She picked up her book and threw it at the wall in anger, she felt like screaming but she knew if she woke her parents the red marks on her back would turn a far more busied colour. Instead she cried, tears flowed from her eyes and she wiped them away. She wasn’t even sure why she was crying. Because one man did not find her pleasing? Because she disappointed her parents? Because she hoped that there was actually a chance of a better life for herself? Did people like her deserve such things? Did she even deserve to be happy? Her family had been shop keepers selling scrap and fixing junk before they came here, what kind of Chieftain would choose to marry a girl like her. She imagined which of the girls had received the letter telling of the Chieftain’s intention to make them his wife and how happy they must be. Then she hated herself for caring.

Suddenly there was a knock at the front door and she heard her father stirring from his sleep, quickly she turned off the lamp by her bed and put the covers over herself. Her father was not tolerant when it came to staying up past night.

He answered the door and she heard the muffled noises of him speaking to someone, then her father’s voice became agitated and he was clearly arguing with whomever it was. Suddenly she heard him coming back inside, he swung her door open.

“Taleena wake up!”

She tried to feign having just been woken “What is it father?”

Her father looked behind him to reveal a Human was standing there holding a small pouch.

“Who, what are you doing here?” she asked.

“I can wait until she has at least dressed herself” the Human said taking a step back.

“No just get this over with”

“Very well” the Human said entering her room.

Taleena by instinct held the covers close to herself up to her chin but the Human made no aggressive movements but reached into her pouch and pulled out a letter.

“This is for you Miss Taleena” he said.

Behind him she saw her mother appear and like her father not looking too happy, be it they could guess what this letter was or that they were awoken in the middle of the night.

“Thank you, but I don’t need to read it I know what it says” she said dismissively.

“You cannot truly know until you open it”

“Well I don’t want it” she said.

“Miss, I am under strict orders not to leave until you have opened it”

She looked at her and snatched the letter away and opened it but did not pull out the contents but threw it on her bed.

“There you can go now”

The Human sighed and picked up the letter again and held it out to her “Please Miss Taleena, humour me”

“You heard her she does not need to read it and it has been opened so get out” her mother shot at the Human who slowly turned around to look at her.

“With respect I need to see her open and read the letter and know she understands what is written there before I can leave” The manner of the Human then shifted “But then you are free to try and remove me” she looked at her father who did not seem like he was about to take her up on that offer and the Human turned once more to look at Taleena.

Scoffing she took out the letter and silently read it.

She read the letter and her mouth opened ever so slightly in shock, she read it again and again.

“Well come on what does it say?” her mother asked.

Taleena looked at her mother then at the Human who delivered it who now had a large smile on her face, she took the letter and read it to her parents for her.

“Dear Miss Taleena, it is my honour to inform you that Chief Ceran the Chieftain of Geeda has chosen to take you for his wife and to marry you this coming Crowning ceremony”

No one spoke, Taleena seemed in state of shock and her mother came in and took the letter from the Human and read it herself as if she did not believe her with her husband looking over her shoulder.

Taleena was hugging her legs with her mind swirling with a million thoughts.

“You mean…she’s going to be…”

“My wife!” Ceran said poking his head round the corner.

“Chieftain!” both the parents almost screamed.

“Why is everyone yelling?” Taleena’s brother Jakop said coming to see what all the noise was and looked at Ceran “Who the hell are you?”

Ceran smiled but said nothing, he was entering Taleena’s room who had only just turned to look at him her face almost of shock.

“Hey” he greeted.

“Hi” she replied her voice just above a whisper.

He looked around and flapped his arms as if he was not sure where to put them or do with them. “Well, according to the traditional custom, I am to grab you and throw you over my shoulder and carry back to my home”

“Oh…right” she said getting up.

“But” he said holding out his hand “If you do still want to take my hand, I’ll carry in a more…loving manner”

She looked at his hand and then at him, he was smiling warmly and looking into her eyes. A smile crept across her face and she took his hand and he carried her not over his shoulder but in his arms.

He’s more than just my saving grace (Request)

Prompt: Can I request a Loki x reader where she was alone and the avengers took her in? Flash forward and reader and Loki spend a lot of time together because they don’t let him go on missions yet? Preferably not in an established relationship yet but obviously care a lot for each other? Thank you! -roxitinkerbell

Pairing: Loki x Reader

Note: Slightly descriptive torture, Panic attacks, and fluff

Words: 1650

Requested by: @roxitinkerbell

Everything was dark, everything felt heavily like she couldn’t breathe as she struggled against her bonds in the dark room. She had been abducted by a group named Hydra a few years ago, but suddenly yesterday they up and left like nothing happened. They chained her to her bed and abandoned her, left her to die like she was nothing to them. She was afraid, her blood was roaring loudly in her ears as fresh tears threatened to pour down her face while she struggled. Her wrists were aching, she had moved too much and caused her wrists to be rubbed raw and hissed at the pins and needles that jolted every time she shifted in her chains just a little.

Fear was consuming her entire being, fear of dying in this room alone with no one to save her. She closed her eyes as her breathing slowed down, as if she had accepted her fate and was giving into the darkness. Just went she thought all hope was lost there was a loud explosion that shook the room as her eyes snapped open. Dear lord they were blowing up the place with her in it so she wouldn’t slowly die anymore when she heard feet pounding down the hall. Her heart was thumping loudly in her chest, didn’t care who was on the other side of the door. “H-Help!” She exclaimed, throat feeling dry from not getting food or water since yesterday morning and that was only a small portion.

She coughed as she let out a sob struggling against her bonds not caring about the blood that was seeping through the metal. “I-I’m here!” She sobbed when the door was kicked down before she cried out from shock when a man dressed in a suit of red, white, and blue stepped in. His eyes widened at the young woman’s state before he immediately ran over to her when he busted open her shackles. She knew quickly recognized the man to be Captain America due to him being a well known enemy to the Hydra base. “Can you stand?” He asked as she tried to, but everything felt like jello before he suddenly scooped her up brightly style.

She allowed herself to be taken by him, she didn’t feel threatened despite them trying to program her to be another killing machine. “Stevie, who’s the girl?” A man with a metal arm stepped towards him as her eyes dilated. The Winter Soldier. She was about to speak before her vision blurred when she passed out in arms. “No time to explain, we need to get her out of here if we expect her to live.” Steve said immediately as Bucky nods before they started for the exit and towards the Quinjet. “Who–” Tony started as Steve laid her down onto the bed. “Just go, I’ll explain later!” He hissed as Natasha and Clint flipped on the Quinjet before they took off back towards the Avenger’s Tower.

It was a whole day before she had awakened and when she did Steve asked her a few questioned. He found out her name was (Y/N) (L/N) and she had been taken from her home a few years back after her father had sent an attack against the infamous Hydra. That seemed like so long ago because it was almost a year now and (Y/N) was settling into the tower and everyone quite nicely. Especially with a certain God of Mischief who had become an Avenger to become more than what he was. (Y/N) would sometimes have panic attacks due to what happened at the Hydra base which Loki was always there to help her, because he hadn’t been cleared for missions just yet.

Just like right now, (Y/N) was on the floor in her room wrapped tightly in Loki’s arms as she sobbed with a violent tremble. Loki had one of his hands coursing through her hand while his other hand gently rubbed her back. She was gripping tightly to his shirt while her face was buried into his chest as they slowly swayed. “It’s okay, it was just a dream.” He whispered softly into her hair. She felt the tremors finally cease before panting softly as she laid limply in his arms feeling safe like always. She couldn’t see his face in the darkness considering it was about three almost four in the morning while the others were away on a mission.

“I’m sorry.” She whispered as he shifted making her look at him. “For what?” He asked, she couldn’t see it, but she could feel the frown on his face. “For waking you up… again.” She whispered softly looking down when his hand slid over her face before he made her look back up to him. “Now that shall be enough of that mundane talk. I want to help you whenever you are like this, I enjoy your presence (Y/N). You are the only one I actually like in this Gods forsaken tower.” He said as her face heated up gently causing an amused chuckle to rumble from his chest. “My dear, we spend a lot of time together. You are someone I could call a friend.” He comments as her eyes widened.

“R-Really?” She asked softly as he nods before she bit her lip. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” She confessed as Loki’s heart stopped before he swallowed softly. “Are you feeling better?” He asked softly. “Much.” She whispered before laying her head back against his chest when she gasped feeling him lift her off the ground as he laid her back down onto her bed. “Thank you.” She mumbles as he smiles despite her not being able to see it. “You’re welcome. I hope you rest well for the rest of the night.” He helps her into the covers before he left the room as (Y/N) cuddles into the blankets with a smile caressing her lips when she dozes off again.

“So when are you going to tell Loki how you feel about him?” Natasha asked bluntly looking up from her bowl of cereal as (Y/N) chokes on her juice. “Nat!” (Y/N) hissed glancing over to the guys who were watching a film while her, Natasha, Laura, Wanda, and Pepper sat at the island talking. “What?” Natasha asked quirking an eyebrow. “Oh come on, you two care so much for each other. It’s sickening how oblivious you two are.” She huffed softly as (Y/N) frowned. “He doesn’t like me that way.” She said crossing her arms as the four women stared at (Y/N) with an ‘Are you kidding me right now?’ type of look. “Oh shut it.” She mumbles softly.

“(Y/N), I don’t think I’ve ever seen Loki so happy until you showed up. You’ve come a long way for day one. You’ve grown close! Hell he’s helped you through your attacks.” Pepper said setting down her coffee cup as Natasha gestured to Pepper with a smile on her face. “See, and we’re not the only ones who has noticed this cuteness between you two. Now stop being a little bitch and confess.” Natasha spoke bluntly as (Y/N) flinched looking down. “Jeez, I’d love to see what it’d be like if you actually hated me.” She mumbled as the women chuckled softly to her. “Lady (Y/N)!” Thor’s voice boomed as everyone looked over to him when Loki was trying to make him sit back down onto the couch.

“What?” (Y/N) asked tilting her head. “I would like to inform you of my brother’s affection towards you.” He grins excitedly as the color visibly drained for Loki’s face at the sudden outburst. Everyone glanced from Loki to (Y/N) whose eyes were widened in shock at the claim before she swallowed thickly looking at Loki who held a dark expression. He looked ready to slaughter Thor because of his incompetence when he noticed she was staring as he looked back to her. “I-Is it true?” (Y/N) asked not caring that everyone was staring and the movie was paused to watch the events unfold. “I… Uh…” Loki’s mind was literally befuddled and unable to utter a single word.

(Y/N) stood up smiling softly. “I hope it is, because I have affection for you too.” She laughs softly brushing her hair behind her ear as Loki’s eyes widened. “You-You mean…?” He asked as she nods smiling shyly. Suddenly Loki crossed from the living room to the kitchen as (Y/N) stood up before he immediately ceased her into a small kiss “Finally!” Tony exclaimed throwing his arms in the air. “Damn it took you this long.” Natasha huffed as she pulled away from the kiss blushing profusely. “Well at least they’re together.” Steve said smiling when everyone nods. “Um can we go somewhere else?” (Y/N) asked when Loki took her hand before leading her back to his room.

“Awe! Fine ruin our fun!” Tony calls as (Y/N)’s face lit up even more before Loki immediately closed the door. He slowly turned to her as they stood in awkward silence for a moment before they smiled to each other. “I guess that just happened.” (Y/N) chuckled breathlessly as Loki nods. “But, I want to ask you properly… So will you become mine?” He asked as (Y/N) smiles nodding before pulling him into another kiss. “To think we could have been together all this time.” She laughs as he lets out a chuckle. “Good things come to those who wait.” He whispered before she held him tightly without a single care in the world.

Home (Sirius Black Oneshot)

I wasn’t planning on posting this now but then I reached a thousand followers!! Woop!

Anyway, this is super, super long, but I’m actually really proud of the way it came together. I hope you guys like it and I’d love it if you could reblog!

Much love! X

Requested by potterheaded-demigod. Hope you enjoy!

“Sirius?” Harry asked his godfather, quietly, as he fingered the golden crest of the dresser they were meant to be cleaning. Molly had only just finished getting rid of the Doxy’s that resided in the library of Grimmauld Place, and now it was Sirius and Harry’s job to scrub down the ancient room until it looked ‘spick and span’, according to the motherly witch.

“Mhmm?” The older man replied, not taking his eyes of the task at hand.

“I, er… I was just…” Harry took a deep breath, flattening his fringe to his forehead like he always did when he was nervous. “… have you ever been in… in love?”

Sirius let out a bark-like laugh and glanced down at his godson: the amusement clear in his eyes. “Merlin’s beard, Harry… why on earth do you ask that?” A small crease had appeared in his forehead, Harry noticed, as the layer of dust coating the dresser vanished with a wave of his wand.

“Well, I…” muttered Harry, his cheeks going the same shade as Ron’s ears. “I don’t know. I suppose I was just curious.”

The truth was, Harry sometimes felt, although he loved Sirius dearly, he didn’t really know much about his only remaining family member.

Understanding leaked into Sirius’s eyes, and he nodded firmly. “Right. Of course. Of course you should be curious. I mean, it’s not like you have other people to talk to about…” He glanced at the boy. “Right. You should know these things.” Sirius brow furrowed for a moment, and he got a faraway look in his eyes. For a moment, Harry thought he could see a glimmer of something in them- he wasn’t sure what it was- but then his godfather blinked and it was gone. If there was one thing Sirius was good at, it was hiding what he felt, Harry thought. But then the said man smiled down at Harry, his eyes twinkling.

“Well, I suppose… there was one girl…”

Keep reading

Bathed in Moonlight

Hey there Kylux peeps. Number 10 for @huxloween is here and it is straight up porn. I felt kinda bad about yesterday and wanted to make it up to you all with some boys banging. Selinofotophilia was not a fetish before today, and it probably doesn’t exist now, but that’s the best way to describe this story. Enjoy.


Kylo Ren loved moonlight; perhaps in a way less normal than others. Hux had noticed that Kylo seemed to grow more ravenous for him when they were on planets with little light pollution. Initially he had chalked it up to the possibility of being caught, but one night when they had been stranded alone on a planetoid by an engine malfunction Kylo couldn’t get enough of him. He asked and Kylo tried to deflect, but when he was fucked out and pliant he finally answered.

“The moonlight,” he sighed, face heating red. “I don’t know why, but the paleness of a body in the moonlight has always turned me on.”

Keep reading

Bloom - Tendou Satori / Reader

This is the submission @milk-s0da sent to us!! I hope you guys enjoy hanahaki disease as much as i do cause *tears rolling down* i love hanahaki disease scenarios so much. -mod owl


Your stomach curled and thrashed inside of you. It seemed to lash out with every thought and movement. It probably did, what else was a girl in love to think about than the boy she cared for? Yet here you squatted in the girls room, bent over the toilet as you wretched. Sourness built in the back of your throat and with a groan petals fluttered down to the water, floating before growing too heavy and sinking down with just as much grace.

You had read about your affliction in stories but never thought it was real. As long as your love wasn’t met in kind, blossoms and petals would form inside of you and fight their way to the light.
It was painful, when you stumbled out to the sink to rinse your mouth your eyes were red and cheeks streaked with tears. Your tongue was thick as you cupped your hands beneath the faucet and brought it to your lips.

You must have coughed up enough flowers to fill entire gardens by now, yet it didn’t seem to stop. Pink buds, purple blooms, ivory blossoms. All of them tumbled up your throat in bushels and in a burst of singular posies. And you hated it.

In the hallway you saw him, the crazy redhead from the volleyball team. The Guess Monster who had stolen your heart. As you approached he glanced over and waved with a silly grin, “Hey, (y/n)-chan~”

“Hi Satori-kun.” You said as you came to a stop in front of him, head tilted back just so you could look at the giant’s face.

“You got the newest Jump yesterday, right? How great was the mecha fight scene?”

“Hey no spoilers! The convenience store was out of stock when I went, I’ll have to get it today.”

Bonding over manga and anime was what drew you to him. He had no qualms about reading the thick magazine during breaks and you happened to sit by him one semester during first year.

Out of the corner of his eye he spotted you reading the page from your peripheral vision, tilting your head slightly to get a better look at the art. He turned his head to look at you fully and you flushed in the shame of being caught. You expected him to take his magazine elsewhere, and were surprised when he scooted his desk next to yours instead, settling the tome on the seam and asking who your favorite character was.

It only took a few months of outings at merchandise stores and impromptu sleepovers where you picked from each other’s manga libraries before the first flower petal found it’s way to your lips. You remembered it exactly, a tiny Violet petal, velvet soft against your tongue. You had no idea that such softness would eventually scrape your insides raw.

It was only when an entire rose, red as blood, was crushed between your teeth did you decide to confess to him. It was going to be brilliantly cliche, you would leave a love note in his shoe locker telling him to meet you on the roof before volleyball practice. Only Tendou would appreciate just how shoujo like it was going to be.

Before you had the chance to sneak him the letter, however, he intercepted you. “(Y/n)-chan, I’ve been looking for ya! Come with me, I gotta tell you something.” He said with a sense of urgency you had never seen on him before, not even on the court. You nodded and followed him, helpless to do anything else. His grip on your wrist was tight and his normally skittish movement was even jerkier than normal.

When you were alone he released you, swinging around to look at you. “I need your sage advice, master!”

“M-Master?!”

He nodded, “All those girly manga you have makes you the romance master.”

“Um, okay..go on.” Your heart thudded and the urge to cough was strong. You tried to swallow it back and listen. Maybe he was going to take the lead and confess to you? You could only hope.

“How should I tell Wakatoshi-kun I like him?”

Wait.

What?
You blinked in shock. You knew Tendou loved Wakatoshi, you couldn’t have a conversation without the ‘Miracle Boy’ being mentioned at least once. You just didn’t realize his love ran so deep.

“I,  uh…” Your cough began to morph into something much bigger, and…wetter. “I’ll be right back.” You stuttered out before rushing around the corner, expelling an entire bouquet into toilet water. Flowers of all colors mingled with your saliva, it was almost beautiful in a way. In a painful, disgusting way. You marveled over it before another surge overcame you, and you were grateful that it was only the flowers and not their stems.

When you emerged the bell had rang and class was in session. Your head pounded as you made your way to the nurse’s office. You had only just arrived at school not long ago and you were ready to go home. And stay there forever.

The kindly older woman took one look at you and gave you permission to lay down on one of the cots behind the white curtains. Your bag was on the floor and you kicked your shoes off, nestling into the cot and letting your tears flow down the sides of your face and into the flat pillow.

As you stared at the blank ceiling you realized that as long as your feelings remained you were stuck with your illness. You were just a student, you were far away from affording the operation to remove the buds inside of you. Sliding your eyes closed, you tried to relax. Surely there was someone else you could focus your feelings on. Hell, you had loved fictional characters before it wasn’t so hard to do so again, right?

Ushijima entered the nurse’s office during science class, an angry red burn on the side of his hand. It wasn’t anything serious, some ointment and a bandage and he’d be on his way. When he saw that the nurse wasn’t there he was prepared to turn around and return to class when he saw your sleeping form, the curtain slightly drawn from when a cup of water was placed beside you.

The large spiker approached you and looked down. He long since figured how you felt about his best friend. If he knew then everybody knew, yet somehow Tendou was still in the dark. With a seemingly impossible gentleness he brushed your hair from your face, his lips tilting upward as he let his fingers linger on the strands.

Ushijima drew the curtain shut before grabbing a tube of ointment and a roll of bandages and leaving, making sure that the door was firmly closed as well. With his free hand he plucked a crinkled carnation flower from his tongue and placed it in the trash bin. He made a mental note to go to the library, there had to be a reason flowers seemed to flourish from his throat. Especially when he thought about you.

mrs-chanandler-bong21  asked:

"we bumped into each other in the street and you were grinning like a cocky asshole the whole time so i stalked off only to realise i’m wearing your shirt" PRETTY PLEASE

Kate loosens the tie in her hair as a rare breeze blows through the stifling heat of the city, cool air kissing the damp skin of her neck and tangling through the strands as they fall around her shoulders. Summers in New York City can be brutal and today is proof of that.

It has her missing how she used to spend her summer months, weekends off and vacation time devoted to a gorgeous mansion in the Hamptons, the ocean and sand and sea breeze, the taste of salt on his skin when she lowered her mouth to-

Beckett sighs and continues her stride down the street, her iced coffee sweating out beads of cool condensation onto her hand. The heat has her missing him, but what doesn’t these days?

She lifts the plastic cup to her lips, takes the straw between her teeth, only for it to fall free at her gasp when a broad shoulder collides with hers, bumps her hard enough to send the remainder of her drink sloshing upwards through the thin barrier of the lid. Kate curses as the chilled liquid splashes up, bites her lip to contain her horror as it spills all over her shirt. Her stupid, favorite shirt.

“Dammit,” she growls, spinning on her heel to confront the careless asshole who apparently can’t walk in a straight line or – oh. “Castle?”

Wide blue eyes stare back at her, shimmering in the unforgiving glare of the sun before they flicker down to her shirt, sparkling with surprise before a smirk – a goddamn smirk – claims his lips. Grinning at her as if he hadn’t shattered her heart like a sledgehammer to glass over six months ago, like he hadn’t left her ragged and weeping for too many nights to count. As if he hadn’t broken them.

Kate purses her lips to contain the rise of anger, the taste of bile in the back of her throat, and turns on her heel to stalk off in the opposite direction, the wrong direction, but away from him. She just needs to be away from him.

“Kate!” he calls after her, but she ignores him, tosses her ruined coffee cup into a trashcan she passes at a crosswalk.

She isn’t able to avoid him for long, hears him chasing after her from a few feet behind, but in the short time she manages a decent amount of distance, she realizes why he’s grinning like a cocky son of a bitch, remembers why this is her favorite shirt.

“Beckett,” he finally breathes from right behind her, snagging her by the arm and dragging her out of human traffic until she’s pressed against the brick wall of a restaurant with Richard Castle standing in front of her. “I’m sorry, I’m – I didn’t mean to offend you. I can’t – it feels surreal to even see you again.”

“That’s your fault,” she snaps, ruthless with the hurt that rages through her chest, the desperate mixture of sorrow and need swirling through his eyes, dark blue and cracking.

Castle sighs, but nods, doesn’t even attempt to deny it or sugarcoat the truth. “I know. Believe me, I know.”

“Have you - when did you come back?” she croaks, the knowledge that he had returned to the city with no intention of telling her is just another stab wound to the heart, but it doesn’t matter anymore. She’s already bled out, has nothing left to lose.

After his mother had died, Rick had spiraled, pushed everyone away, and she had thought she would be the perfect partner to get him through the loss she knew all too well, practically a pro at living with the endless ache her own mother’s death had instilled within her chest. But Castle had shut her out, Alexis too, drowning in terrible grief all alone despite how many times she had tried to swim him to shore.

“I need to go away for a while,” Castle had informed her the day after the funeral, looking both hollow and overwhelmed, a packed duffel at his feet.

“Okay,” she’d murmured, entering the bedroom and already glancing to their shared closet. “Where do you want to go?”

“Kate,” he’d sighed and Beckett had returned her gaze to meet his, felt the dread twine through her gut and twist hard. “I need to go alone. Be alone.”

“But we - I’m your fiancée, we’re a team. Partners, remember?” she had whispered, gripping his hands tightly in hers, but Castle had shaken his head. “Rick, I love you and you’re the one who said we could get through anything together. Don’t change the rules now.”

“There are no rules when it comes to this,” he’d mumbled, untangling their hands to cup her face in his palms. “You should know that.”

Castle-

“I’m sorry,” he’d whispered, smearing his lips to her forehead before he had let her go. He had let her go. “I’m so sorry.”

And part of her had understood, still understands, but Castle isn’t her. Castle thrived on human company, on having a support system, and she would have given him that, she would have tried her hardest to be whatever he needed, but he had left her. He hadn’t even told her where he was going, just sent her and Alexis stupid little postcards with nothing more than the signature of his name at the bottom.

“I’ve never seen him like this,” Alexis had sighed one afternoon, just a few days after Castle had left, a mere week before Kate had moved out of the loft. “I mean, I miss Gram too, so much, and I know it’s different, that she was his mom, but - but this isn’t him.”

“Grief changes people,” Kate had murmured, staring down at the engagement ring on her finger.

“He’ll come back,” Alexis had assured her, her red-rimmed eyes so bright with hope, and his daughter amazed her, she really did. How Alexis could remain so hopeful despite all of the horrors she’s witnessed would always remain a true miracle in Beckett’s eyes. “Maybe he just needs a little bit of time.”

A little bit of time had turned from weeks to months. Kate had buried herself in her work, resorting back to old routines to remain stable; Alexis had kept in contact with her, even requested Kate come with her to eventually visit her father where he was staying in Montana (she didn’t even think to ask what the hell he was doing in Montana of all places), but Beckett had declined.

Her heart was still raw and bleeding and if he wanted to see her, he could ask himself.

He never did.

And he looks like he regrets it now. But she doesn’t know if that’s enough.

“Yesterday,” Rick replies, his eyes roving her face, traversing down her frame, soaking her in with the summer heat. “I went to see Alexis as soon as I landed, unpacked at the loft. Found your ring.”

Kate swallows hard, closes her eyes for a moment against the memory of the first time that ring had slid onto her finger, glistening and gorgeous in front of the swings, ruined by the recollection of the last time she had taken the ring off, placed it on his nightstand before she’d walked out with the last of her things.

“I was coming to see you today. Just now, actually.” Her eyes peel open, find him watching her with a sheepish quirk to the corner of his mouth. “I have so much I need to say to you, tell you, try and explain. Apologize for.”

“You left,” she breathes, gritting her teeth when her bottom lip trembles, and she really wishes they weren’t having this disastrous reunion on a public sidewalk. “I understand grief, Castle. I completely get that. But you left for six months without another word and I just-”

“I didn’t know how to come back,” he confesses, his voice cracking, stretching the fault lines running through her sternum. “I’ve never had to – I just didn’t expect her death to do that to me and I lost it, Kate. I didn’t know how to keep going like normal, how to be me, to be a dad or a writer, a husband-”

“Fiancé,” she mutters the correction, crossing her arms tightly over her ribcage. “Never made it to husband.”

“No, and that’s my fault,” he concurs quietly. “I just couldn’t… be anything. And once I started to feel like myself again, felt a little better and mourned for my mother, six months had passed.”

She lifts her eyes to the sky, the buildings overhead, and takes a deep breath to steady her racing heart. She can’t fault him for it, as much as she wants to, as much as it hurts, because she’s been there, disappeared for an entire summer for that exact same reasoning. And three months was only half of six, even though the last six months had felt like a lifetime.

“But that doesn’t mean I stopped thinking about you, or loving you. I swear I never stopped loving you, Kate-”

Her arms fall apart in front of her to reach for him, fingers hooking into his sides to reel him in against her. Kate fists her hands in the fabric of his dress shirt the second his chest seals to hers, buries her face in his shoulder, inhales the scent that had long abandoned the t-shirt she wears now.

“You asshole, I haven’t seen you in months and the first thing you do is make fun of me-”

“Kate,” her name is a choked chuckle on his lips, but the stroke of his hand through her hair is soft, tender and soothing, and she chokes too, can’t handle the reality of being held by him again. “Oh, I missed you, Kate.”

A strangled noise escapes her lips and Beckett snakes her arms between their bodies to wind them around his neck, cling like her life depends on it.

“You can’t ever do that again,” she gets out, her chest shuddering violently against his until he tightens his arms around her, secures her body in the home of his embrace. “If we’re going to do this, be together again, you can’t, Castle. Can’t do that to me-”

“I won’t,” he promises, painting the words to the corner of her eye, the movement of his lips on her skin brushing away the tear that leaks free. “I won’t. Never again. I’ll prove it. Promise.”

Castle’s arms around her are bruising, crushing her bones, squeezing her lungs, but she relishes in the sensation, the warmth that floods through her at having him back.

“Good,” she whispers, combing her fingers through the baby fine hairs at the nape of his neck. “Now, let’s go back to my place so we can talk some more and I can change since you spilled coffee all over my favorite shirt.”

hey all,

I just wanted to make a quick apology (to you guys and especially to my @imagineclaireandjamie sisters) about not writing much – natch, not writing anything – in a long time. To those who have sent me messages over the past couple of days, I know I promised a preview of Three Witches, etc. but I’m unfortunately not going to have anything by then. I’m so stressed right now with job hunting, constantly feeling like I’m unqualified and that maybe I’ve made wrong the decision with my career choice, etc. It’s really demoralizing, and when I’m in that kind of headspace, I just can’t write.

I know this isn’t Three Witches and that it isn’t much, but I did write the very first bit of Chapter 4 of Duet, my reincarnation/soulmate AU. I feel really guilty for not writing, so I figured I’d share it just to show you something. It’s still in its early stages so it’s subject to change (and there will be flashbacks to Jamie after this opening, don’t worry!). For now, just know that Jamie recognizes Claire, but Claire does not recognize Jamie.

Again, sorry for slacking. Hope you enjoy.

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