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Safety In Numbers

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Raven had offered him her throat, and in turn, he’d offered his never-ending life to her. It wasn’t exactly what she’d expected of a wedding, so unlike the storybooks she’d read as a child. True, she’d been able to throw her bouquet, but even that wasn’t quite like she’d imagined, with Zahara instantly throwing it away to stop Jagwire from getting too many ideas.

But the fact was, she’d married Strat. And initially she didn’t realise this meant that she’d married the rest of the Lost too. They weren’t just friends, weren’t quite like a family, not even really lovers in the sense that she’d always imagined. Instead, they were all of those and more. Each of the Lost felt like part of a whole fluid organism, all individuals and yet making up something that was somehow greater than the sum of its parts. And that, in its way, made her understand how cruel the loss of Tink had been to them, how much it must have hurt to have a part of themselves ripped away...

Since she’d rejoined the gang, she’d tried to fill that void as best she could, and now it was long ago, and far away. She’d been riding with them for what felt like years. She couldn’t really tell, to be honest. They’d been on the road through what was left of New York outside the walls of the city, taking camp anywhere that seemed fun or pretty and had decent supplies, but even in the bigger outposts, calendars weren’t exactly in heavy supply.

She’d often wondered if it’d become more apparent as she aged, but so far, she hadn’t had much indication. Was she frozen? Raven wasn’t really sure. She’d always thought she’d just be able to feel it, but she didn’t know if 22 felt much different to 18. Strat always said that she looked just like the day he’d met her, but she was pretty sure he was just trying to get into her pants again, and it usually worked.

That was the other bit of culture shock she’d had, getting used to the bond that the Lost shared. Her parents weren’t exactly the most traditional of couples, but she’d been raised in that all-American style. Two parents with a nice house and their beautiful daughter, living in wedded ‘bliss’. But here, with her pack, there was nothing so simple. Sure, there was a lot of sleeping around in the group, but that was almost to be expected with a group of attractive leather-clad punks stuck in an endless state of teenage horniness. And yet at first she’d just thought that, for example, the likes of Blake were general flirts with everyone, but that couples like Zahara and Jagwire were nice and settled on their own. And she’d kept that impression until the day she walked in on Blake and Jagwire.

She’d blushed and apologised for intruding, before a switch flicked in her brain and she switched from embarrassment to righteous indignation, asking how Jagwire could do this to Zahara. Their hurriedly proffered explanations somehow left her even more flustered.

“Don’t worry, Zahara’s fine with it, nothing to worry about.” Jag waved, almost going in to hug her before realising that clothes were probably a good idea first.

“But- I- She knows?”

“Sometimes I sleep with Zahara too!” said Blake with a very satisified grin and an unsubtle wink. “It’s pretty explosive, you should see it sometime.”

* * *

She’d left with a face almost as red as Blake’s straining leopard-print underwear, mind boiling over with the new information she’d been given. Her feet carried her almost on autopilot to Strat’s room, and as they sat on a bed together, she explained the whole situation to him, possibly going into a little too much detail about certain aspects, but looking at him with concern.

“Is it just them who- who-, or-”

“Actually, it’s kind of… Everyone.”

“Even you?”

He crossed his legs awkwardly and tousled his hair, looking a bit sheepish, and for a moment it was like she was back in her room at Falco Tower as he explained how long he’d been eighteen, that same feeling of stepping into a new and exciting world.

“Well, not for a while now.”

“Oh.” Raven thought about things. Then thought about them some more. Then tried to stop thinking about all the potential combinations… “Is it since I’ve been here?”

“Yeah, I know this was a big change, and I didn’t really want to throw you in at the deep end.”

“A bit late for that.” she smiled, thinking of that first night in the underground bar.

“True.” laughed Strat, the kind of laugh that made her problems seem to melt away. She fought back the urge to fall back onto the bed and kiss him. There was still one thing she still needed to ask.

“Would you do it again?”

“Would you be fine with that?”

That wasn’t the question she’d been expecting, and yet, it seemed perfectly natural as a response. What she didn’t know was how she’d answer, but in the moment it seemed to tumble out of her mouth without thinking about it.

“Will they all... Offer me their teeth?”

“Yes.”

“Their hunger?” Raven giggled, just a bit more confidently.

Yes!” he smirked back.

“Will they starve without me?”

Yes!

“And will they love me?”

He paused for a moment, then smiled at her, knowing the answer implicitly. It was an answer that had been obvious since she’d first walked into the Deep End all those years ago. “They already do. You’re one of us.”

“Then what are we waiting for?”

Strat’s eyes widened. “Now?”

“Why not? We’ve got all the time in the world, why waste it?”

* * *

Needless to say, quite a few of the Lost were very happy to hear of Raven’s new take on the whole being married thing, and over time, it became natural to fall asleep at the end of the day in Valkyrie’s arms. To wake up with Ledoux poking her back, always early to rise and eager for attention. To walk through the streets with large hickeys left by Mordy and Esquivel, one on each side of her neck, just high enough to be impossible to hide.

Soon, she was watching Zahara and Strat as they showed her exactly what bad girls were capable of, going everywhere and doing everything, even things she’d never have been able to dream of, and relished the chance to reach out and feel it for herself. She discovered worlds of pleasure in their touches, and new delights in their tastes. She found out how much more fun it was to interrupt Blake and Jagwire by inserting herself into the mix. To let Lunarrow target spots she’d never felt before, and to feel the sharp bite of Krolocker’s unexpected sadistic side.

She was tortured and celebrated, worshipped and suffered, cried into and held onto, and lovingly torn apart until they were ready to stop and put her back together again. And the best part was that through all of it, the love they shared made each new discovery less daunting, each thrill more exciting. A bond strengthened with every touch and caress, and even more of a sense of belonging.

She was loved. She was secure. She finally understood what Strat had wanted to show her when she’d first stroked his hair. It was all safe.

Even shoulders.