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Entertaining Travelers

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The first thing you hear when you wake this evening is the rain. Summer rain. Heavy. The large windows light up with a flash. Thunder rolls in the distance.

“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” You hear yourself say.

You know that you should be excited to plan your trip with Alcina and the girls, but you can’t shake the feeling of dread that’s been brewing in you for the past few weeks. You pull your bat-like wings around you like a blanket and hook your clawed fingers together.

It’s not just the knowledge that you’ll have to hide yourself while you travel. It’s the sinking feeling that you’re being watched, almost. Like something is going to happen. But nothing ever does. Not here.

You think back to a few nights ago when you were convinced that there was someone in the cliffs below the house. You could have sworn you heard someone. That beep of a radio. Shuffling boots. You know you heard it, but there was nothing when you went to check.

Alcina Dimitrescu is as unflappable and steadfast as ever, reassuring you that nothing could possibly pose a threat, that you’re safe. You can tell she’s worried about you though. You haven’t been your jovial self lately and your anxiety has hung heavy on your shoulders. Maybe she just doesn’t want to believe that something could puncture your happy little home in the mountains of Spain.

“The rain in Spain.” You hear yourself say. You don’t even bother finishing the phrase. You don’t even know why you’re saying it. Comfort perhaps. The comfort of rhyme and the nostalgia of old movies. Who knows?

You hear Alcina’s footsteps ascend to the second floor and then down the hall to your shared bedroom. She stands at the door, the one you made taller for her, and you can feel her eyes on your bare back.

“Are you awake, my love?” She asks softly. You don’t answer.

You hear her approach and then the creak of the bed as she sits.

“Bela’s made breakfast.” She says softly, bringing her hand to your back. She rubs her large palm over your spine and up to the back of your neck, where the Cadou made its home inside you. She moves her hand further, up to your long, bat-like ears, and gives them an affectionate scratch.

You usually love it when she does that, but you find yourself almost unable to respond. Just a twitch of your ear.

“Luci.”

You feel frozen almost. You can see the men in their military uniforms as they point their guns at you. The smell of gunpowder. Alcina’s roar. Blood. You shut your eyes, but the visions remain.

“Talk to me.” Alcina whispers.

Finally, you roll over. You let out a long sigh.

“I’m scared.”

“Of what, my love?”

“I don’t know yet. Everything.” You whisper.

Alcina leans down and wraps her long, powerful arms around you. She pulls you up into her lap and places her hand on your cheek.

“What are you afraid of?” She asks again. There’s a weight to her voice, a strength you can only dream of matching. Quick and clever as you are, you often wonder if you’re strong enough to stand beside her.

“Those men we fought back in Romania. Some of them survived.”

“We don’t know what happened to that village.” She reminds you.

“We know it was bombed. We know it was attacked. If they knew that Ethan was at the castle, then they had been watching us! For how long, do you wonder?” You hiss. The weak vision of your eyes blurs from tears and the world come in entirely in vibrations.

You can see the beating of Alcina’s heart. It’s as solid as ever, but it picks up speed as you speak.

“And maybe I am out of my mind, but maybe I’m not. They’ll find us, Alcina, if they haven’t already.” You insist.  

“Listen to me.” Alcina says sharply. Her eyes almost glow.

Listen to me. If they find us, then that’s their mistake. They should know to leave sleeping dragons where they lie.” She growls. She wipes the tears from your eyes.

“Now, please. Come downstairs. Bela was quite excited about making you breakfast. I’m not the only one who worries, you know.” Alcina says with an air of conclusion, as if the matter is settled.

You envy her ability to shake off her nerves and carry on. You’ve likened her to a statue in your mind over the years, but even that falls a bit short. She is a tower, standing tall and proud against the darkness of your mind.

You unfurl your wings and let her lead you to your closet.

“Now, let’s get you dressed.” She says, leaving you for a moment to poke through your hanging clothes. You sigh, but you can’t help but smile, as you watch her hunch over to get into the closet.

“You’re too big for the closet. I’ll get it.” You say gently, pushing past her.

“I don’t mind helping.”

“I know. You don’t have to fuss over me though. I’m ok. Really. Just…anxious.” You assure her. You find the clothes you want and climb into them. She watches you for a moment, but can’t help herself from help you fasten the collar of your shirt.

“Really, my love. I’m ok. And besides, we’re hardly a threat out here. More people die in car accidents than to us.” You say, starting to revive a little. It’s hardly a proper joke, but it feels a little lighter.

“We’ve been careful.”

You finish dressing and go to her. She puts her hands on your shoulders and you lean into her waist. You bring your gazes to meet one another.

“I know.”

“Now, let’s not keep Bela waiting.”

The two of you head downstairs. The smell of sugar and cinnamon tickles your nose as you step onto the first floor. There’s a blood too and you feel the salivary glands in your mouth spring to life.

As you enter the kitchen, you see Cassandra and Daniella staring into their phones. Bela is at the stove. She turns off the burner and turns to greet you.

“I made french toast!” She announces proudly.

“Really? I love French toast.” You say as warmly as you can. There’s still a twinge of heaviness in your voice, but the girls do have a way of cheering you up.

“Now go sit down!” Bela insists. You and Alcina walk to the dining room and take your seats at the new table. It’s a nice table, much stronger than the last one.

You lean back against the chair, trying to find a little comfort in it. Alcina is smiling. Everything is right with the world. It is, you know it is.

A few minutes later, Bela brings out a plate of French toast. It smells great.

She places it in the middle of the table and then scurries back to the kitchen to retrieve a tureen. She places it on the table and then passes out some plates.

“This is wonderful, darling. Thank you so much.” Alcina says. You nod along.

“Yeah, it smells great.”

Bela sits at the table for a moment with a big smile on her face, then realizing her sisters are still in the kitchen she scowls. You can’t help but realize how similar she is to Alcina.

“Cassandra! Dani! Come on!”

The remaining fiends join you at the table. Once everyone is seated, Bela returns to her hostess role and serves everyone a plate. It’s all very sweet.

“Please dig in.”

You look down at the French toast. It’s beautiful. You wait a moment for a turn with the tureen and then ladle some of the sauce onto your plate. Blood and strawberries.

It’s quite good. Excellent, even. You eat quietly.

The rest of the table engages in friendly conversation. Daniella shows Cassandra something on her phone and they laugh. Alcina asks to see it, but doesn’t understand the joke. They laugh again. Despite the happy scene you feel your smile shrinking on your face.

There’s something painful hidden in the way they speak to each other. Something akin to longing or perhaps grief? You can’t identify the feeling inside of yourself.

“Are you ok, Luci? Did I cook it too long?” Bela asks you suddenly. You turn to look at her.

“Yes. No. It’s—it’s perfect.” You say too quickly. You return your smile to your face with determination and take another bite.

You remember suddenly, so vividly. Mornings before school. Mom and Dad staring sleepily at their coffee. Your brother gushing about his new model figure. Loneliness.

The fork bends in your hand and you blink hard.

“Sweetheart?” Alcina says softly. You can feel her hand on your arm.

“This is really, really good, Bela. I just didn’t sleep too well. The rain.” You say. Even Cassandra and Daniella are looking at you now.

Focus on the present. You bend your fork back to its original shape.

Their concerned faces burn your skin, but you take a deep breath and the visions of the past dissipate.

“Was there any mail this morning?” Alcina asks Bela.

“Nothing interesting.”

“Hm. Still no word from Donna.” You observe. The mere mention of her name sends a ripple of varying reactions through the table. Alcina clears her throat.

“She must be having fun wherever she is.” She says diplomatically. You chuckle a little and genuinely hope that Alcina is right.

After finishing your food and thanking Bela for it, you break off from the group to head back to your bedroom. Alcina looks like she wants to join you, but Daniella is telling her an elaborate story about her latest trip to the grocery store.

You give her a wink that you hope comes off as playful and ascend to the quiet of the second story. As much as you don’t like it, your old life’s been on your mind lately. Your old family. You wonder what they’re up to.

It’s a strange series of thoughts. After all, you abandoned that life back when you accepted the Cadou. You made the decision to leave your old life behind a long time ago. It was so easy. Why does this hurt so much?

And It was easier back then to stop yourself from looking back. Then again, you’ve been living in a fairy tale for the past few years. The talk of traveling has awakened something in you though. Your memories are slipping through the walls like ghosts. Fine then.

You go into the bedroom and shut the door. You climb into bed and grab your laptop. There is only one thing to do with ghosts. Confront them and their unfinished business. Simple. Then you can get back to your life.

You stare at the black screen in your lap, unsure of where to start. Who do you even want to check up on?

You turn the laptop on and type “Facebook” into the browser. Amazingly, you remember your password. You have hundreds of notifications. The realization makes your chest grow tight with anxiety, but curiosity spurs you on and you click the little notification icon.

“We’ll miss you.”

“She was an amazing person. I was so proud to know her.”

“I’ll never forget her.”

You stare at the posts on your wall with a dawning fascination, then you realize it. They think you’re dead. Of course they do. You haven’t spoken a word to anyone from your old life since you disappeared to a remote Romanian village. That village was blown up too. Someone must have filled in the blanks.

You scroll through the messages until you see your brother’s face, then click his profile. He’s gotten married. His wife is having a baby.

“Good on ya, bud.” You say softly. You keep scrolling.

You see a photo of your mother with a picture of you. She was my light. I miss her everyday. The date was for Mother’s Day of last year.

It hurts to look at. You fought all the time before you moved away. Then you barely spoke. How could she say that? But of course, she would say that. Death has a strange way of showing us how important life is, doesn’t it?

Was this what you wanted? To know that they moved on? And they did move on, didn’t they? Haven’t you? It had been so easy to walk away back then. Why does it hurt so much now?

You hear the door to the bedroom open and you snap the laptop shut.

“Am I interrupting?” Alcina asks.

“No. I was done. Did you need something?” You ask. The tension is noticeable in your voice. Alcina hangs back by the door.

“What were you doing?”

“Nothing.”

Alcina looks very unconvinced.

“Bank stuff.” You lie.

“Your heart’s pounding a mile a minute. Are we destitute?” She asks, almost a joke. You sigh and lay back against the headboard.

She finally walks over and sits on the bed.

“Darling, what’s wrong?”

“I really don’t want to talk about it.”

“Whatever it is, it’s eating you alive. Are you worried about the military men again?” Alcina asks. She reaches out and takes your hand, genuinely concerned. You shake your head.

“I mean, I am, but no. That’s not it.”

“Then what?”

“Alcina, please.” You say, exhausted. This definitely plucks a nerve. It’s the tone of your voice, the way it feels like you’re dismissing her.

She thinks better of getting into it with you though and gets up. She moves for the door to have her final word on the matter.

“Well, when you decide you want to talk, I’ll be in the garden.” She says as calmly as she can. It’s mostly a hiss though.

Your temper flares. Bursting against the swelling pain inside of you. It’s slipping past your restraint, burning out of control.

“What part of ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ eludes you?” You snap.

Alcina’s temper flares in kind.

“And what am I meant to do? Let you brood about the house and pretend like nothing is wrong? You’re acting like a child.”

Gasoline on the fire.

“A child? And what are you? My fucking mother? Fussing over me and forcing your way into my private thoughts?”

The inferno burns on, tearing through the space between you, hungry to spread further.  

“Forcing my way into your private thoughts? I was under the impression that you wanted me to know your mind seeing as you married me!”

“Well, I don’t!” You snarl.

“Then what, Luci? You would have me share my home with a stranger?” Alcina shouts.

“Why do you even care? Because I’m not making jokes and letting you have your way with me?”

You hear her laugh and it’s a cold, cruel thing, but you know it's masking her hurt. 

“And what am I to you? A glorified scratching post? A mother to look after you and a whore to fuck you, but not worth your confidence? Hardly a wife at all!”

You can hear tears in Alcina’s voice. The pain in her heart threatens to spill from her eyes, but her jaw is set, poised to meet your lashes with strikes of her own. You look away, ashamed to be acting like this, but unwilling to relent.

“Don’t be dramatic.” You spit.

You know what you’re doing. It’s cruel and unwarranted. Petulant. You’re daring her temper and you know it.

“I’ll show you dramatic!” Alcina barks back at you.

Alcina grabs the closest thing to her, which happens to be a little table with a plant on it, and throws it all the way across the room and through the large bay window, shattering it. The plant’s pot breaks against the floor, scattering dirt.

The fight is on now and neither of you are backing down.

“Are you fucking insane? Who the fuck is going to pay for that? This isn’t your fucking castle!”

“Don’t I know it? We’re practically living in a hovel! Not one servant! Living like fucking peasants!”

Alcina almost never says curses in anger like that. Her rages, though few and far between these days, are always more flowery, like poetry. But not now. She’s furious, grasping at things to throw at you both figuratively and literally.

Before she can throw anything else, you dive for the window. You just need to get out of here. Fuck this.

“Don’t you dare run away from me!” Alcina screams.

You’re gone though, out the window, and into the night. You land in the front yard, but much to your surprise, you hear something heavy hitting the ground behind you. The rain falls hard. 

You turn and Alcina is there. Her eyes are wild. Her hair is messy. Pure, white-hot fury burns in her, galvanizing her into a powerful stance. She so rarely exerts herself or her impossibly large figure. Alcina rises to her full height and clenches her fists.  

Where this display would have cowed you all those years ago, now it pulls all of your muscles taut.  You glare at her defiantly. You're not afraid of the woman or the monster. 

The sound of the front door hits your ears and you hear the buzzing of Alcina’s daughters, but both you and their mother shout simultaneously.

“Stay out of this!”

The buzzing recedes.

“Don’t you dare raise your voice at them.” Alcina growls.  

You throw your wings out and screech your ear-splitting screech. Alcina lunges for you and delivers a painful slap to your face. It’s hard enough that your vision swims for a moment, but you’re quick to recover.

You leap onto her and scratch at her wildly with your claws. The damage is thorough, but it heals just as quickly. You feel her hands grab your arms and stretch them wide. You fight her grip with everything you can. Hissing and snapping your jaw.

She kneels and slams you onto the ground, then climbs on top of your legs. You feel unhinged. The pain and rage inside of you spilling out wildly after months and months of quietly collecting inside. Your voice sounds foreign to you. Manic.

“What now? Gonna punish me? Please, Countess Dimitrescu! Punish me!” You howl. Mad laughter rocks your throat.

She slams you against the ground again. This one hurts. Your rib might be cracked.

“Harder.” You grunt.

She slams you again, then releases one of your arms and puts her hand around your neck. Her eyes are angry, yes, but there’s so much pain in them too. She’s crying.

“Do it. Make it hurt.” You whisper.

You feel Alcina’s grip loosen. The rage fades from her face. She brings her hand to your cheek and you feel her tears on your skin.

An ugly, raw sound bursts from your mouth and quickly becomes a sob. You wail out in agony, finally letting go of the dam holding back all of your feelings.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, Mark. I’m sorry I missed your wedding and my niece. I’m sorry mom. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry you had to have a funeral for a fuckup like me. I’m such a fucking monster. I’m sorry I yelled at the girls and I’m sorry I –”

“It’s ok. It’s ok.” Alcina whispers.

You continue to blubber, barely coherent. You feel Alcina pull you up from your place on the ground and wince. Something is definitely broken. It’s almost funny. Something is broken alright.

Alcina lays you back on the ground and you sob into the dirt. She waits a few moments for you to wear yourself out and then puts a hand on your arm.

“I think we need to go on that vacation.” Alcina says gently. You chuckle. It still hurts a little, but less so.

“I’m sorry we don’t have any servants.”

“Yes, well. I’m sorry I broke the window.”

You look up at the second-story window. Absolutely shattered. It’s going to be a nightmare to clean up and get fixed. You thank all the stars that you have a guest room.

Finally, after a few more minutes you sit up. With the storm gone from within you, the words loosen and flow out. Water from the rain pours off of your hair. 

“My family thinks I’m dead.” You finally say. Alcina puts her hand on your knee. You feel like you might cry again.

“Which like, that’s fine. I just feel horrible for putting them through that. And it’s kind of ironic because I was pretty sure I was going to kill myself after my trip to Romania, so…It’s almost like I did. And I’ve been so happy here with you, so ignorantly happy. I didn’t want to think about the consequences. But all that talk about traveling and I don’t know, it reminded me that there’s a whole world out there beyond our little bubble and I have a history there. And it all just came crashing back at once.”

Alcina pulls you into her arms and holds you tightly.

“I’m sorry.” You whisper.

“How many times have you told me not to shoulder all of our burdens on my own, darling?” Alcina replies.

“I was a really fucked up person before I met you.”

Alcina laughs a little and then releases you.

“Honey, I was kidnapping and torturing maidens in my cellar for years before I met you. I’d call that pretty fucked up as you put it.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty fucked up.” You admit. Your emotions are settling now though. Cooling off.

The two of you sit on the ground and talk for a long while, not minding the rain. 

The fight is gone from you both and you chart a course back to one another with admissions of secrets and an open understanding.

Fucked up or not, you get each other in a way that no one else possibly could. There’s so much fire in you both. A violence that cannot be snuffed out entirely. Never for long, at least. Though it manifested differently in the past, you and Alcina have always been cutting something up to answer some deep, fundamental pain within you.

You tell her about your stint in the psych ward. She tells you about Mother Miranda’s manipulative cruelty masquerading as love. Though you are so different in so many ways, the one thing that unites you is control, the fight for it. Feeling helpless under the power of something more powerful than you and exerting your control where you could. You turned that fight inwards and she turned it to the world.

How strange that you and Alcina compliment each other so perfectly. Kismet.

“Let’s go inside and wash all this off.” Alcina says. She looks half-drowned. You certainly feel like that yourself. 

As soon as you enter the house, Cassandra buzzes up to meet you.

“What the fuck, you two?”

“Cassandra, we were working some things out.” Alcina says gently.

“Yeah, well you scared Bela and Dani half to death. They thought you were going to kill each other.”

“Well, we didn’t and we’re not going to. Your mother and I just let our tempers get away from us.” You assure her.

“We’re going to go up and shower, but I’ll be back down later.” Alcina adds.

Cassandra does not look happy, but she lets you go without another word. You ascend the stairs together and walk back to the bedroom. There’s broken glass everywhere and dirt from the broken plant, but you’re both careful to move around it as you go to the bathroom.

You turn on the water and let it warm up. Then you both undress and get in. It’s a custom-made walk-in shower with several showerheads mounted on the wall and the ceiling. No, it’s not her castle, but this place has been modified to suit Alcina in so many ways.

You lean against one of the walls and sigh. The water is nice. Alcina steps in with you.

“I’m sorry I made you feel like my mother or – anything other than my wife. I love you and I’m sorry I pushed you away.”

“I want to know you. All of you. Even the parts you want to forget.” Alcina says gently. You swallow thickly and do your best not to start crying again.

“You’re always doing for me. Thinking about me. What do you want? What do you need?” You ask. You go to her and wrap your wings around her hips, holding her tightly.

She wraps her arms around your shoulders.

“Darling, I have what I want. I have you and my daughters. What I need is for you to stay with me. And if you need some space, then tell me. Don’t just shut me out. I have lived so much of my life in loneliness. Even with my daughters. As much as I love them, they can’t know me like you do. It’s different. I can’t lose you.” She explains.

“You haven’t. I’m here.”

“You were such a bold little thing when I brought you to my castle. Daring to stake your claim in a world you couldn’t possibly understand. You were so brave. So, unapologetically present. I married you because I love you and when I face the challenges of my life I want to know you’re on my side. This is a partnership and I feel like I can count on you. Have I not shown you that I am capable?”

“Of course you have. You are the most formidable woman I have ever known.” You insist.

“Then why didn’t you want to talk to me? I know I shouldn’t have pushed you so, but—”

“I was being terrible. I’m sorry.” You admit. She reaches up and holds your face.

“We both said things in anger, my love. I’m sorry too.”

You reach up through the water on your toes and she leans down to kiss you. It’s good and by the time you pull back, you start feel better.

“I think I just didn’t want to feel what I was feeling. I’ve changed so much since Romania. I couldn’t bear the thought of you seeing the person I was before.” You say. It’s hard to admit it, but you know it’s true.

Alcina leans in and kisses you again.

“All of it is you and I love you.” She says softly.

You reach up and wrap your arms around her neck. She pulls you up with her and you kiss her again.

“I love you too. I love you so much.”   

Your kisses become more plentiful, more reaching. It’s like you’ve been pulled from the sea and you can finally breathe. Even after all this time, there’s so much more to discover. There’s so much to learn.

“You’re so beautiful. Please, let me take care of you.” You whisper into her ear. She lets you down onto the floor and you look up at Alcina with a heart bursting with love.

You kneel and she spreads her legs to let you inside. You reach up with your neck and find her tender sex. You run your tongue up the inside of her thigh and plant a kiss at is peak. 

Your arms reach up, tracing the length of her body, touching everything that is Alcina. You take your time memorizing each moment of her skin. The curve of her waist. The lines made from expansion. She is vast and wonderful.

You part the lips of Venus’s altar and you worship. You feel the outside of her sex with your tongue and then press yourself in deeper. You kiss her. Once, twice, and again. Every kiss is a promise, a vow.

Alcina reaches for you and you weave your fingers together, never ceasing in your loving prayer. You hear her breath hitch and you slow your movements, savoring her, venerating her.

She lets out a pleased sigh.

You can feel the muscles of her hands tighten and soften, still interwoven in yours. Her gentle sigh becomes a quiet cry. Rhythmic in time with your tongue.

As the water from the shower pours over your head and back, you feel baptized by her, and you are preaching what it truly means to make love.

You feel her tense around you. You push her further to the precipice, insisting on and proving your devotion.

The orgasm takes hold and it’s both powerful and delicate. You look up at this woman who embodies the best things about life and you plant one final kiss at the apex of her thighs.

She leans back against the wall of the shower.

“Exquisite as always, my love.” She murmurs.

But you’re not done. You need her to know how you feel. You need to share everything because you know that she will cherish it. She has created a haven for you in her heart and you need her to know that you are taking up the naked residence she deserves.

You take the bodywash from the little dish and you take your time rubbing it over her skin. She takes some too. It’s almost ritualistic the way you shower together this time. You’re purging the fight from your relationship, purifying it, and you feel so close to each other.

When the shower is over, you both move wordlessly to the bedroom. You know the broken glass is still there on the floor, but it doesn’t worry you. You move past it and into the bed.

You have submitted to Alcina so many times over the years, but this time you long to surrender. Let the curtain fall on the mask you wear for other people. You gave her your heart years ago, but now you offer your soul.

She brings her fingers to your sex and enters you slowly. Your hips rise to meet her, bringing her into you. She takes her time and fills you completely. The world around you falls away.

“I love you.” You whisper.

“I love you.” She whispers back.

She works her fingers in and out, every thrust an affirmation. I love you becomes a shared chant. The hymn of your love.

You feel yourself getting closer to the edge, but you’re tense. Thick knots emerge from within you, bundles of anxiety and of sorrow.

Alcina brings her free hand to your lower back and holds you. She pierces you so directly to your core.   

“Let go. I’ve got you.”

Tears rise to your eyes and you let them fall. She moves with you, watches you, listens. Her fingers guide you higher and higher until you have no choice but to let yourself fall.

Alcina leans over you and touches her lips to yours, meeting you where you are, and staying there with you until you return to the world.

You spend a long while in each other’s arms after that. It’s nice to be together, truly together, sharing your moments fully. You snuggle into her. She’s the best big spoon.

“Do you miss your castle?” You ask.

“Sometimes, but truth be told, it was never my castle. It was my father’s, then Miranda’s. If anything about it was mine, it was the effort to preserve my father’s legacy. No, this is my home now, something truly mine, and made better by you and the girls.”

“As many times as you’ve mentioned your father, you’ve never talked about your mother.”

“Neither have you.” She reminds you. This is your chance to try again with Alcina and show her that you take her trust seriously.

“My mother was—is a complicated woman. She was always so hard on us, my brother and I, but I think she meant well.  We were forged in the flames of a hard world. If nothing else, my mother gave me so much of my strength. I think she had a difficult time loving us the way we needed it, but she gave us what she could.” You explain.

It hurts to talk about your mother, but Alcina’s supportive arm around you and her steady frame behind you make it easier.

“My mother died when I was born. I used to think that, had she lived, I would have never gotten caught in Miranda’s plot. I would have known what a mother’s love truly felt like.” Alcina says.

The pain of the past is clear in her voice, but she continues.

“But it doesn’t matter now. I do know what a mother’s love feels like. It’s what I feel for my daughters.”

 “Of course. That makes sense.”

You hold each other for a little while longer, then Alcina pulls away and sits up.

“I should go tell the girls everything is ok.” She says. You get up too.

“I think I’ll stay here for a bit. I still have some things to think about.” You say. She nods and you both carefully maneuver around the broken glass on the floor to get dressed.

“I should probably get the broom and clean this up. I’ll call someone out to get the window replaced.” You say. Your words are without anger or resentment. This mess is just the fallout from a much needed session of catharsis. In the end, it was worth it.

“I’ll help you.” Alcina offers. 

“No, it’s ok. I’ve got it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Your daughters need you.”

“Ok.” Alcina says with a little nod. She kisses your forehead and then turns to head downstairs.

“Alcina?”

“Yes, my love?”

“For our vacation. Let’s go to New York. I want to show you where I used to live.” You say. Alcina smiles the warmest smile you’ve seen in months.

“I’d like that.”

Once she’s gone, you look at the damage. It shouldn’t take too long to clean up. You head out of the bedroom and down the hall to get the broom, then return, and start cleaning up.

Yes, you’ve always had a hard time letting yourself feel your feelings when those feelings are not the curated experience you’re looking to offer everyone. You’ve struggled with your ugly parts. How sweet it is to be loved not only in spite of them, but honoring them. How sweet it is, indeed.

“Hey.”

You turn around and see Cassandra leaning in the doorway.

“Hey. I’m so sorry about earlier. We didn’t mean to scare you.”

Cassandra, the middle child. You’ve never really talked to her much beyond teaching her the guitar. Little conversations perhaps, but nothing deep. You’ve always believed that Bela was the most similar to Alcina, but you realize, as Cassandra looks at you with her penetrating glare, that they’re all like their mother, aren’t they? Bela, her duty. Cassandra, her depth. Daniella, her ferocity. You wonder what traits you inherited from your own mother.

“Yeah, well, you did. I need you to understand that your personal bullshit affects other people.”

You almost laugh. You are well aware of this today.

“I’ll be more considerate.”

“Yeah, you better. Now come up to the attic. We need you for something.”

Cassandra doesn’t wait to see if you’re following her. You put the broom down and make your way after her to the attic. You find Bela, Daniella, and Alcina all waiting there.

Cassandra picks up your guitar and thrusts it at you.

“Listen. I don’t know what you’re going through, but just play. You know the words. Just go with it.” She says quickly.

You take your guitar and sling it across yourself. Alcina raises an eyebrow at you and your shrug. The girls take up their instruments and Cassandra pushes you in front of the microphone.

She strikes up a series of familiar chords on her guitar. Dani picks up the beat on her drums. You do know the song. It’s one of the first songs you ever taught the girls. You always have them play it when they get homesick for the castle or don’t feel like they make sense in the world around them.

Your throat tightens as you and Bela come in together. When you sing out the words, you really hope they’re true.

 

 

 

 

“I backed my car into a cop car the other day

Well, he just drove off, sometimes life's okay

I ran my mouth off a bit too much, oh, what did I say?

Well, you just laughed it off, it was all okay

And we'll all float on, okay

And we'll all float on, okay

And we'll all float on, okay

And we'll all float on anyway, well

A fake Jamaican took every last dime with that scam

It was worth it just to learn from sleight-of-hand

Bad news comes, don't you worry even when it lands

Good news will work it's way to all them plans

We both got fired on exactly the same day

Well, we'll float on, good news is on the way

And we'll all float on, okay

And we'll all float on, okay

And we'll all float on, okay

And we'll all float on, alright

Already we'll all float on

Now don't you worry, we'll all float on

Alright, already we'll all float on

Alright, don't worry, we'll all float on

Alright, already and we'll all float on

Alright, already we'll all float on

Alright, don't worry even if things end up a bit too heavy

We'll all float on, alright

Already we'll all float on

Alright, already we'll all float on

Okay, don't worry, we'll all float on

Even if things get heavy, we'll all float on

Alright, already we'll all float on

Alright, no don't you worry, we'll all float on

Alright, all float on"

 

Cassandra provides backup vocals and where your voice breaks, she sings louder. By the end, you’re all singing out the chorus as it repeats. All of you.

It’s going to be ok. Though life has thrown so much at you and you’re scared, you press on. You have to. For the ones you love. For yourself. You have love to strengthen you. You float on.

Chapter Text

In the days following your vicious duel with Alcina, you decide to incorporate a nightly flight into your routine. Sitting around and stewing was what lead to such a pressurized build-up in the first place. Stretching your wings and remembering who you have become is good for the soul.

You forget how essential it is to move your body. It’s one of the biggest reasons you’ve always enjoyed sex, of course, but in times of tension, you need more. The exertion is relaxing. 

Besides, you’re still convinced that someone is watching the house. Whoever those people were on that night in Romania, you know they’ll find you. You killed some of their own and there’s no way they’d let that go. Not to mention the fact that you and your family kill and eat people.

The world isn’t made to let you live in peace. Your existence is a threat in and of itself, an affront to the power of human supremacy. The war machine must be hunting you. You're certain of it. 

For better or worse, you don’t find anything on your nightly flights. Only wolves and the occasional eagle. You don’t know if this is reassuring or daunting. No matter. You have to take things as they come.

When you touch down on the front lawn, you light a cigarette. Alcina is right. Let them come. If they want a fight, then you’ll give it to them. Though, you hope it doesn’t come to that.

As the smoke leaves your lungs, you hear a buzzing, and wonder which of the three little monsters has come to call.

The flies gather and form the familiar face of Daniella.

“Hiya, Luce.”

“Hey.”

“You done being emo?” She asks, ever the direct one. You chuckle and roll your eyes.

“Yeah, I think so. Did your Mother put you up to this?” You ask as casually as you can.

“Nope. Cassie, if you can believe it.” She says with a little grin.

Ever since the big fight on the lawn, everyone has been fussing over you a little bit in their own ways. It’s actually kind of sweet. Right?

“Barely.” You say with a little laugh. Cassandra’s never been one for outward displays of affection for you. Mostly sneering. Though, to be fair, she has been asking you for picking tips and new tabs lately. Always a bit surly, but you know she cares.

“We all really like you, you dork.”

“I know.”

“And like, not just because Mother does.” Dani insists. She approaches you and looks at you hard in the eyes. She’s almost uncomfortably close.

“So don’t go anywhere, ok?”

She throws her arms around you and a mixture of emotions surface. You know this is sweet. You know this is meant to be comforting. You thought you were ready for this kind of affectionate worrying, but it chafes a little. Still. You know Daniella’s heart is in the right place.

“I’m not going anywhere.” You assure her.

She finally pulls back and you give her a nervous smile. What did Alcina tell her and the girls about your conversation on the lawn? Or did they decide you were in need of reassurance all on their own? Who knows?

You follow her into the house and hear the familiar chatter of Alcina and her other daughters. They’re in the kitchen, standing around the island. They all smile at you when you enter.

“How was your flight, my love?” Alcina asks. She pulls you in for a kiss. Cassandra groans.

“Did you see anything interesting?” Bela asks politely.

“Uh, it was nice. I saw, um, a couple birds?” You offer. Alcina hooks her right arm around you and pulls you in.

“And what would you like for breakfast, my darling?” She asks.

Ok. You know they’re being sweet, but their gazes are heavy on your skin. You give another nervous smile.

“Anything’s fine. Cereal?”

Bela nods and hurries over to the cabinet to get you a bowl. Cassandra turns to the fridge and pulls out a large pitcher of someone’s blood that she caught a few days ago. Daniella nods at you.

“We have shredded wheat, whatever this colorful sugary nonsense is, and teeth.” Bela announces, looking in one of the other cabinets.

“Uh. Sugar and teeth, please.” You say quietly. Alcina gives you a squeeze.

“Ok, what’s going on? You guys are being way too affectionate.” You say. 

Bela puts the bowl with the sugary cereal and a jar of teeth in front of you. Cassandra puts the pitcher of blood down.

“We just want you to know that we love you, darling.” Alcina says gently. She adds a handful of teeth to the bowl and pours the blood, then gestures for you to follow her into the dining room.

You sit at the table and then take your first bite.

“How is it?” Alcina asks. You chew through the mix of teeth and fruity cereal and swallow slowly.

“It’s fine, Alcina.”

“If there’s something you prefer we—”

“Alcina.”

You reach lean over the table and take her hand.

“Alcina, I’m fine. You really don’t have to do this.”

Alcina puts her other hand over your own and gives it a squeeze.

“I know I don’t have to, my love. I just…thought about what you said the other night in the rain and I don’t know, I didn’t want you to feel like that. I don’t want you to feel like that, like you can’t talk or me or like you don’t want to live anymore.” Alcina says gently. You sigh.

“I get that.”

“I love you so dearly. The girls do too. We just want you to know it.”

You climb over your cereal and kiss her. She reaches up and pulls you in for a deeper kiss. You nearly knock over the bowl, but you steady yourself on your hand. When you pull away, a look of genuine concern rests on Alcina’s face.

“I do know it and I feel it, but please, you can’t control how I feel. I can’t either. It’s an illness, Alcina. Worrying over me isn’t going to cure it. Trust that I will make more of an effort to manage it.” You explain as you settle back into your chair.

Alcina sighs a little.

“I know you have a hard time letting go and letting things be, but you have to trust me. I’ve been dealing with this for many years. And the exercise is helping.” You continue.

You take another bite of your cereal and smile at her.

“You won’t hide from me again though, will you?” She asks quietly.

“No, I won’t. I promise. I will come to you if I need help.” You say and you mean it.

 It’s hard for you to talk about your emotions, at least when they’re uncomfortable ones. Still, you’re in a committed relationship with a woman who loves you and you know that sharing your pain is an important part of that. You’ve gotten on Alcina’s case for holding onto her burdens. It’s about time you followed your own advice.

“Good. Now! We need to talk about our trip. Girls! Please join us in the dining room.” Alcina calls. The excitement over the vacation is clear in her voice. All things considered, this is probably the first trip she’s gone on in a long, long time. You're grateful for the conversation shift.

Daniella, Cassandra, and Bela all buzz into their seats. They seem pretty excited too. Cassandra does the best job of hiding it though.

“Alright. Girls, we are going to America!” Alcina announces. Their eyes light up.

“Like, Times Square?” Dani asks.

“We’re not going to Times Square.” You say darkly.

“That’s where Disneyworld is, right?” Cassandra asks quietly. She gives you a pointed look as if to say, ‘I dare you to say shit about me wanting to go to Disneyworld’.

“That’s in Florida.” You say.

“Disneyland then.” She shoots back.

“That’s in California.”

“What about that famous strip of casinos that no one’s allowed to talk about?” Bela chimes in.

“That’s in Nevada. Ok. We are going to New York.” You explain.

“So, we are going to Times Square!” Dani shouts excitedly.

“No! We will not be visiting that tourist trap. We are going to upstate New York. It’s where I used to live. Besides, your Mother and I don’t exactly blend in, so we can’t go somewhere super busy like that. We need to lie low.” You say.

The girls do look a little disappointed, but Alcina is quick to reassure them.

“We’re going to have fun. We’ll be visiting the Niagara Falls.” She says.

You can’t help but want to chuckle. Niagara Falls is hardly an exciting spot, but you figure Alcina is from a different time where wonders of the world were something to behold over the flash and light of more modern attractions.

“And we’ll be going by ship. It’s the safest way to cross the ocean without too much attention.” You announce.

 The girls look even more disappointed.

“I’m sorry. I know none of you have ever been on a plane before but—”

“I’ve been on a plane.” Alcina says suddenly.

“What?”

“It’s been a while, but I’ve certainly flown in a plane.” Alicna insists.

You’re genuinely surprised by this.

“How?”

The girls look from you to their mother. Alcina scoffs.

“Aeroplanes were all the rage when I was young. Automobiles as well.”

“’Automobiles’. You’re hilarious.”

“That’s what they’re called aren’t they?” Alcina says with a little raise of her eyebrow.

“Maybe in a period piece.” You laugh back.

“How old do you think I am, Luci?”

The girls look back at you. You chew your lip a little. Truth be told, you have no idea how old Alcina is. You wonder if creatures like herself take pride in a lengthy lifetime or if she’s sensitive about it. Her expression is entirely unreadable.

“Uh, like 150?” You offer.

Alcina throws back her head and laughs.

“I’m no more than 112, though one does lose track, I suppose.”

You can’t help but laugh.

“Cradle robber.” You say with a snort.

“Don’t make me spank you.” Alcina says with a little chuckle of her own.

“Can we focus here?” Cassandra snaps.

“Right. Well, I’ll be settling the matter with The Duke later this afternoon. He’ll be arranging our voyage. We’ll be leaving in a week’s time.” Alcina explains.

“Can Mateo come?” Daniella asks sweetly.

“If he wants to, I suppose.” Alcina says.

Daniella squeals happily and then pulls out her phone to text him. Cassandra rolls her eyes. Bela smiles a little.

“Now, I do believe Luci and I have a private matter to discuss.” Alcina says quickly. She rises from the table and you join her in standing. Your cereal’s finished anyway. The girls carry on with their morning.

Alcina takes you by the hand and leads you up the stairs. As soon as you’re at the top, she presses your back to the wall.

She brings her hand up to rest on your collar bone.

“I had a thought about our trip.” She purrs.

“Yeah?”

“I thought we might make it a game.”

A game? A good and proper game? Like the old days in the castle? Oh yes.

Admittedly, it’s hard to keep things interesting in the marriage bed once you’ve had someone so many times. You get into a comfortable pattern and perhaps you grow complacent with it. Not to mention the fact that escaping Romania took its toll on everyone. Perhaps you’ve all had enough time to recover.

You still love Alcina fiercely and you know she loves you, but things have been a bit “by the book” for a while. It seems your big dramatic breakdown has inspired new vitality in her as well. You just have to remember to keep putting in the effort. That’s what marriage is all about.

“I’d like that, my Lady.”

“But, considering your performance with Lady Beneviento, it looks like you need to be trained again.” 

Alcina brings her hand up to your lips and then pulls the bottom one down with one finger. The effect is instant and your sex hums to life.

“I believed you to be entirely domesticated, but it seems that the feral beast within you has other ideas. It has been a few years since I’ve trained you properly, but you must forgive a creature as old as I am. The years pass so quickly, you see. Now, go to the playroom and wait for me.”

You don’t need to be told twice. Her tone is nostalgic. Sure, you’ve played many times since coming to Spain, but something in her voice draws you back into that dream of Castle Dimitrescu. The enchantment is cast once more and you hurry to your place.

You jog over to the locked door of the playroom and unlock it with the key in your pocket. As you unlock the door and step inside, you can practically smell the oil paint of the old atelier. You’re ready to get back to the basics, to fall in love all over again.  

Now, how shall you wait for her? A little surprise might be fun. You glance around the room. Handcuffs, dildos of every size, whips, crops, chairs, tables, other various bits of specialty furniture. No, the right answer is to sit and do nothing. It’s what you would have done back then. So, you deposit your phone, cigarettes, lighter, and the key to the room on the table.

Then you move to the center of the room and you sit. You wait. You remember how to be a good pet.

After a few minutes the door opens and Alcina steps inside. She’s wearing a long silky robe and delightful heels. You look at her with a wolfish grin.

“Wipe that look off your face. No pet of mine would dare to gaze at me so.”

You drop the smile and focus on relaxing your expression. She nods, then stalks over to you. She circles you. The sound of her heels striking the floor echoes dangerously.

“Now, you’ve forgotten your fundamentals and so, we will be reviewing. You are what?”

“Yours, Mistress.”

“And who do you belong to?”

“You, Mistress.”

“And when I tell you to run, what will you do?”

“Run, Mistress.”

“And when I tell you to stop, what will you do?”

“Stop, Mistress.”

“Very good, but it’s not only your mouth that I have trouble with, is it? No. It’s the whole of you. You think you can do as you like. Touch what you want. That’s not the case is it, pet?” Alcina says coldly.

You swallow thickly, but offer no answer. She grabs you by the hair and pulls your head back, quick as a flash of lightning.

“Speak up.” She growls. You want to growl back, bare your teeth, but you resist.

“No, Mistress. That is not the case.”

She releases you.

“So, today you will be expected to follow my rules to the letter. Rule one: You absolutely may not come. Rule Two: You will be silent. Not a whimper. Nothing. Rule Three: You may not move unless explicitly ordered to. Do you understand the rules?” Alcina instructs.

You feel your head go to nod, but then catch yourself.

“I saw that. You have now used up your one infraction. Anything beyond this will be a punishable offense. I expect you to be on your best behavior today.”  

You stay still as stone.

“Now, nod if you understand.”

You nod.

“Excellent. Now, be a dear and undress. Slowly.”

You get to your feet and pull off your shirt. Then you carefully climb out of your pants. You toss both of them to the floor and Alcina is quick to lunge at you, clapping loudly with her hands.

“I will have order in my domain! Fold those neatly and place them on the table over there.” She snarls.

The effect is startling, but you find your claws flexing on your way back from the table. The monster inside of you wants to fight back, but you push it down.

You do as you’re told and return to your place. She’s still in the long robe and your eyes drink up the sight of her hidden curves. You spare a thought for what might be underneath it, but your next order snaps your attention back to where it’s required.

“Now, legs apart. Arms up.”

You spread your legs apart and feel the cool chill of the room against your sex. You raise your arms.

“Higher. Now, let’s see. A vulgar thing like you should already be filled with desire, I expect.” She says inspecting you.

She brings her hand up to your thigh and ghosts her fingers over the skin leading up to the apex. You tremble, but keep yourself still.

She brings one finger to your slit and runs it down the length of it. Shamefully wet.

“There’s the little slut I know so well.” She croons. It takes a concerted effort not to bite your lip.

“Bend over.”

You fold at your hips and she continues to circle you. She watches you like this for a moment and then comes to a stop at your rear.

“Such a pretty thing. My pretty thing.”

She brings her fingers up to your wet center once more and pushes them inside. You clench your jaw so hard you think it will crack a tooth. Your arms are still extended past your head and they’re starting to shake from the effort. Between the pain and the hunger, you snap. You let out a snarl, balking at her domination. She sighs and pushes you away, disappointed.

“Still toeing the mark, I see. Drop to the floor and give me thirty pushups.” She orders.

You almost raise an eyebrow, but think better of it, and drop. You wonder, as you perform the exercise, what her plan is. When you’re finished, you return to standing.

“Excellent. Now thirty squats.”

You follow the order and by the time you’re finished, you’re grateful that you no longer sweat.

“Now, five minutes running in place. Knees high. Go.” Alcina barks.

The first minute is no problem, nor the second, but by the third, you’re starting to wear down. Alcina retrieves a riding crop from the table behind you and swats you hard across the back. You want to growl, but you’re getting tired.

“I said to keep those knees up, bitch.”

She circles you, taking in the sight of your bouncing breasts and humming appreciatively. You keep running in place, bringing your knees up as high as you can. Your muscles burn, powerful as they are. Finally, the five minutes end and you stop, panting heavily.

“There. That should make you more compliant, but I hope you’ve saved the bulk of your strength. You’ll need it. Back to your position. Legs wide, but leave the arms relaxed.” Alcina purrs.

You spread your legs and bend over once more.

She inspects you, touches the end of the crop to your searing muscles, and then delivers a firm spank to your rear. You don’t react this time.

“Hm. Good. You can be tamed.”

The beast is cold within you now, but the rest? The rest of you is smoldering with barely restrained lust. She’s worn out a good part of your feral instinct and now she effortlessly owns you.

“Now, how shall I take you? Like this or shall I have you turn so I can keep an eye on your face? Tell me, pet, which would you rather?” She says in that idle, unhurried manner of hers.

You take a slow, steadying breath.

“Like this, Mistress.”

“Are you avoiding my scrutiny? I think that deserves a warning.”

Her tone is almost pitying. She smacks each of the cheeks of your rear in quick succession with the crop again.

“Answer me.”

“No, Mistress. I simply enjoy when you take me from behind.” You rasp. Your voice sounds strained and it is. The tension is quite taxing and you know it’s only a matter of time before her fingers are truly testing your ability to behave.

“Mm. I think you enjoy all of the ways that I fuck you, my precious little creature. Go and get on the bed. Legs extended and apart. On your back.”

You pull yourself up and walk to the bed, carefully following each instruction. You wait, exposed and tense. You’re almost nauseous with want and you're still tired from all the exercises she made you do. So painfully empty too. 

You hear the click of her heels as she goes to one of the tables with her many tools, but you keep your gaze trained on the ceiling. Alcina’s heels bring delicious promises back with them as she joins you at last.

You feel something brush the lips of your sex. You don’t dare to look down.

“Unlike you, some of us need a proper overture.” Alcina purrs.

You feel whatever it is stretch your opening painfully, then withdraw. You feel its length against you as she coats it in your slick. Then you feel something much smaller enter you. You know what she’s doing. It’s the strapless strap on and she’s just lubed up the extender for it on you. The realization of being used like this is a heady one. 

"You may look." She says.

You feel her load the extender onto the end of your strap as much as you see it. She then grabs your ankles and lowers them to the bed, still keeping your knees open. She carefully removes her robe and lays it beside you. It’s the red bra and panty set today, complete with stockings and garters. Oh, the garters. She slips out of her panties. Then she turns around and slides herself onto the wet spear. All the while you ache and wait.

“Ah, that’s lovely. Now, service me.”

You thrust slowly into her. You feel the curve of her ample rear touch the top of your thighs. You sheathe your strap fully inside of her and then let it slide out. You thrust again and work your hips into a steady rhythm.

“Good pet. Mommy loves the way you eagerly please her.”

You pick up the pace, slamming hard into her, and using your legs to get more leverage. She laughs and the sound is punctuated by the impact. After a few minutes of this, she pulls away, and your thrust takes your back high off the bed.

“Now, that’s the kind of enthusiasm we like to see.” She says sweetly.

Then she moves past you, onto the bed, and lies on her back. She gestures for you to resume in this new position and you do. She reaches up and pulls your head between her breasts.

You want so badly to touch them and take them into your palms, but you know better. You know to keep working. There’s a reward in it for you.

You drill her hard and soon you hear her breath start to hitch. She lets out a throaty moan. You want to join her in the sound, but you know. You know the risks.

You feel her legs wrap around you, pulling you in like the unwavering tide of the ocean. She’s squeezing every last drop of you, using you for all you’re worth, and god damn it, you’re giving it to her.

It takes a great amount of effort to keep at it. She’s so ludicrously strong. The muscles of your back and hips burn against her legs, but you press on.

Finally, she tenses, reaching that hallowed peak. She’s always silent when she comes. It’s like she’s holding all the pleasure she feels in a little bottle inside of her, savoring it like a fine wine.

“Stop.” She says breathlessly. You freeze.

“Get up and stand there while I recover.”

You climb off of her and stand at attention next to the bed. You stare at her, waiting desperately for her to move and continue the game. You’ve been so good. You’ve followed the rules.

A few moments later, she rises lazily, and smiles at you.

“Did you enjoy that, pet? Speak.”

“Yes, Mistress.”

“Very good. Now, you’ve done exceptionally well. I did not expect you to be able to contain yourself. So, you shall have a little treat.”

Your cunt quivers with anticipation. You have a few specific visions for what you hope the treat is. She pulls you over to the bed, still sitting.

She then leans down and takes the strap into her mouth. Then she looks up at you. This was not what you envisioned, but it makes you dizzy.

She lowers her lips until they touch the hilt of your strap, then reaches up and flicks one of your nipples. Your hips twitch. You might pass out.

She sucks the strap clean and then releases it with a pop.

“Now, what shall I do with you?”

She pulls the strapless dildo out of you and runs her fingers up and down your slippery folds. She continues this as she speaks.

“You’ve done so well. Followed all of the rules. Such a good little rabbit. Mommy’s obedient girl. Oh? Tch. What’s this?”

Your feel the walls of your cunt clenching. You’re going to come, just from this. No.

“I’ve barely touched you.”

You feel your hands grasp the air, pulling themselves into fists against your will. No!

“Hanging by a thread, aren’t you?”

She shoves two fingers inside you roughly and you spill over the edge, groaning loudly despite your best efforts. Hot, wet liquid spills onto her hand and the floor. She withdraws her touch and chuckles darkly.

“It looks like you’ve broken one of my rules and made quite the mess. I’m afraid you’ll have to be punished.”

Your eyes are wide. You’ve never actually broken this rule before. Talking back or putting your hand somewhere it shouldn’t be, sure. But this? This is a cardinal sin.

The punishments of the past ranged from denials to whippings or sometimes just a verbal admonishment. The wicked look in her eye tells you this one is going to be special.

You watch as she walks over to the table and ponders how exactly she will torture you. Every click of her heel is loud. Your phones, which have been laid on the edge of the table, buzz. She picks hers up and reads the text. Must be from one of the daughters. She only checks for them.

Whatever was texted gives her an idea and she turns around to look at you.

“We have the whole house to ourselves for a few hours. I think I know what your punishment will be.”

You frantically think through the possibilities. Whipped in the garden? Forced to come over and over in the living room while she watches HGTV? You pray it’s not that one.

She goes to the closet and retrieves a sinister device. It’s shaped like a harness, but steel covers the front and there are two holes in the bottom. You completely forgot about it. The chastity belt.

She loads a steel plug into the slot at the front, then picks up one of the ball gags from the table, and a pair of the butterfly nipple clamps. Then she turns to you with an evil smile.

“Since you cannot restrain yourself, you’ll need more explicit reminders.”

She approaches and once she’s close enough, she leans down, inches away from your face.

“The clamps are just for fun, painslut.”

She locks you up swiftly. The steel plug inside your cunt is cold and you’re so sensitive, but before you can moan properly, the clamps close around each of your nipples. They’re joined by a thin, silver chain. You hiss in pain.

“This should quiet you. You need all the help you can get.” She says sweetly.

The ball gag goes in. You’re all ready, but you have a sinking feeling she isn’t finished with doling out your punishment.

“You’ll notice that I have not cuffed you today. I need your hands free to work, and work you will. Follow me.”

You take a step. The steel inside you makes you hesitate, but she’s quick to turn and tug on the chain attached to your clamps. You walk. Damn the fullness of your cunt.

Lady Dimitrescu leads you out of the playroom and down onto the first floor.

“Dishes first, then you’ll see to the dusting. Don’t try to rush, I will be checking, and I expect a job well done. Then we’ll see.” She explains airily.

You feel a bit of moisture slip past your lips past the gag and try to suck it back into your mouth. Bad idea. It only winds you up further.

You go to the kitchen and begin on the dishes. Alcina heads into the living room and clicks on the tv. It’s honestly a relief to be ignored for a bit. You wash the dishes thoroughly. There’s an agonizing pulse in your center, but you have to do a good job. You rinse and while you’re leaning over the sink, the front of the belt hits the counter.

“Mmmf.”

You take special care not to let that happen again. After an agonizing twenty minutes, the dishes are finished. You go to put them away, moving very, very carefully so as not to jostle anything or catch the chain between your breasts on one of the cabinet handles. Everything is done. You did it. Ok.

You walk over to the living room and stand at attention. Alcina is rather absorbed in her episode of “Love it or List it”, so she takes her time to acknowledge you. Finally, the couple on the tv make their choice. She scoffs and turns to you.

“I would have listed it. Open concepts are so overrated. Now, I’ll go check the dishes. You may dust the bookshelves.”

She rises and hands you a little Swiffer duster, then gives your rear a pat as she passes you by. You throw your most determined look at the bookshelves. You’re going to dust them so well that dust will not dare to land on them again.

Perhaps the throbbing is getting to you a little bit.

You start at the top, reaching up on your long toes to clear the dust. Then you continue down. You hear Alcina return and sit on the couch. You continue your work. Your gag is quite wet now, but you gave up on keeping it dry a while ago.

Then you reach the bottom shelves. You’ll have to bend over or squat to get at them. She sees you pause and chuckles at your heated internal conflict. Which option would cause you the least amount of agony?

You start to bend over and the steel dildo inside of you presses in deeper. Nope.

You pull yourself back up to standing and take a deep breath. Then you start to lower yourself into a squat. That one is worse.

You stand again, visibly distressed. The bottom shelves are going to end you and you’re definitely not allowed to come again.

“Pet, what’s keeping you? Go on.” Alcina snaps.

You bend over and bring the duster to the shelf and quickly wipe the dust away. The contact of the steel against your inner walls hitches your breath. You sputter against the gag. It’s too much. You’ve been wound up for too long. You’re so sensitive. So full.

You sniffle. Desperation hits. Your free hand flies to your core, but your fingers hit the metal. A muffled sob. Alcina laughs.

“Now, now. Finish your chore before you ruin yourself.” She warns.

At this point, even a ruined orgasm would be welcomed, but you know the wait is worth it. You dust with a renewed determination. The shelves are spotless from top to bottom.

You move on to the next bookcase. By the time you’re finished, tears are streaming down your face. Between the pleasure inside and the pain of the clamps on your nipples, you’re delirious.

You stand, shaking by the final shelf.

“All done? Very good. That’s a very, very good pet. I think you’ve learned your lesson.”

Alcina meanders over to you and removes the clamps. The pain is quite potent and you groan hard against the gag. She then unlocks your belt and lets the steel toy slide out. That alone is almost enough. Then she unbuckles your gag.

Your mouth stays open. There are tear stains on your cheeks. You gaze up at her, eyes full of longing. Begging.

“You look positively radiant, my darling. So beautiful.”

She brings your mouth up to hers and kisses you deeply. You moan into her. Your knees buckle, but she catches you, and then hoists you up into her arms.

“I would take my time tasting you, but I know what you want. No more rules. Let’s get you upstairs for your reward. ”

Alcina carries you back up to the playroom, hugging you tightly. You press your face into her chest. So warm. So soft.

She deposits you gently on the bed and tilts her head from side to side, considering the best way to handle you. Your breath comes in heavy sighs. Your mind is entirely unfocused, just a swirl of sensations and need.

“P—please.” You whimper.

“Yes? Please what, precious?”

“Please. Fuck. Please.” You murmur.

Alcina clicks her tongue at you.

“Come now, dear. You’ve been so good for me. I know you can articulate yourself more clearly than that.”

“Please. With your fingers. Please, I want your fingers. Inside.”

“Very well, pet.”

Alcina climbs onto the bed and throws her leg over you. She’s careful not to put her weight on you, but you can feel her against you, her breasts grazing your skin.

She holds you up by shoulders with one arm and then brings her other to the crest of your thighs. You look down at that powerful hand and beg. It’s mindless babble at this point, but she gives you that which you have craved so deeply.

The first thrust makes your vision explode into stars.

“Mmmmm. I love you like this.” Alcina whispers.

She picks up the pace, and you writhe, but she holds you still.

“So good for me. My little treasure.”

You feel like you’ve fallen of the edge of the world, soaring through a world that only the two of you inhabit. There is nothing but her and you in all of time and space. No worries. No cares. Only this, this perfect little place. An infinite reality devotion met with adoration.

“Come for me, my love.”

You seize at her command and you let out a yelp, followed by a long whine.  Your orgasm rocks through you like a thunderclap and it rolls. You sob and continue to ride her fingers. She urges out another wave and you throw your head back, releasing every feeling and pain you’ve felt in the past few months. Years even.

You weep openly as the aftershocks surge through you. A true catharsis.

Alcina helps you up to the pillows and cradles you close against her. She whispers sweet words into your ear.

“You’re amazing, darling. So, thoroughly impressive. Absolutely exceptional.”

You clutch at her, grasp at her. She pulls you in tighter and kisses your head. As you start to calm, she wipes your eyes, and smooths down your ears, gently petting them. You’re entirely relaxed.

“There you go. You’re alright. I’m here.”

After a few minutes of snuggling, you nuzzle into her neck.

“I love being married to you.” You say softly. You feel her smile.

“And I love being married to you.

You lay together a little while longer, resting and recovering. Then you sit up and stretch. Whew. You feel entirely refreshed.

There is nothing in this world, no drug or drink that compares to the peace you feel after a really good session. It’s really not just sex. What you share with Alcina when you give her your submission is something so much more.

You gaze at each other for a few moments, then share a few soft kisses.

“All it takes to keep you in line is to wear you out a little first.” Alcina muses.

“That was a very clever solution to my batty bullshit.”

“Don’t get me wrong. I certainly enjoy the tussle when we have it. I just missed the more traditional version, I think.”

You chuckle.

“Yeah, me too.”

There are so many ways that you have enjoyed each other’s company. Long conversations, appreciating the arts, satisfying sexual play, passionate embraces. The list goes on. You plant another kiss on Alcina’s cheek.

“I’m going to go hop in the shower. Want to join me?”

“I’d better. We both smell like debauchery.”

You head off to the bedroom to shower. The window in the bedroom still isn’t fixed. You’ve only boarded it up. You really need to get on that before you leave for your cruise. Ah well. Another day.

The shower is sweet and you take your time washing each other. It’s a fun little ritual for you after an intense bout of lovemaking and it helps you readjust to your normal dynamic. By the end, you have her laughing with one of your best stories from your days working at an old record store.

You both get dressed and chat. It's a T-shirt and basketball shorts for you, a silky pajama set for her. She tells you a story about the time she embarrassed Heisenberg in front of Mother Miranda, and you hear the front door open. The girls must be home.

“And then, if you can believe it he—”

“Mother!”

It’s Bela and she sounds upset. You and Alcina don’t waste any time racing back down to the first floor.

“What is it? What’s happened?” Alcina asks.

Daniella is sitting on the couch staring at the floor. Cassandra is standing in the middle of the living room looking terribly surprised about something. Bela is glaring at the two of you and pointing at the floor. You follow her arm and then do your best to stifle a laugh.

“Mother, for all the times you have told us to keep the house tidy, it seems you cannot follow your own mandates.” Bela practically shouts. She’s pink in the face.

The means of your kinky fun are still sitting on the floor of the living room. The chastity belt, the ball gag, and the nipple clamps. Cassandra finally bursts out laughing and you cannot help but join her.

“I’ll just take those back upstairs.” You say quickly, dashing to gather them, and make good on your promise.

As you make your way out of the room, you see Alcina’s face. You don’t think you’ve ever seen her cheeks so red.

By the time you return, they’re all engaged in talking to Daniella. She seems quite sad about something.

“Tell me what happened, my dearest.” Alcina croons. Daniella is clearly fighting tears. Cassandra chimes in.

“Mateo doesn’t want to come on the trip.” She says. Daniella finally bursts into tears. Admittedly, you’re a little glad that the room moved past the sex toys, but you’re a little sorry to see Daniella so upset.

“Why not, my angel?” Alcina croons. Daniella throws her arms around her mother and sobs.

You raise your eyebrows at Bela.

“Dani, can I tell them?” Bela asks. Daniella wails, but manages a nod.

“Daniella said she bit him the other day when they were…engaged in…” Bela trails off.

“Were they having sex or was it a hunger thing?” You ask. Bela clears her throat.

“They were having sex.” Bela admits. You nod.

“And?”

“And he said he doesn’t want to come on the trip!” Daniella wails.

“Because you bit him?” Alcina asks, a little confused.

You take a deep breath.

“Ok everyone. I think this is a good chance to talk about healthy sexual practices.”

You gesture for Bela and Cassandra to take a seat on the couch.

“Alright. I really should have given this speech a long time ago, but hindsight is 20/20. Alcina, feel free to jump in whenever.” You begin. She nods. You’ve communicated a lot about this topic over the past few years.  

“Ok. I’m going to say a lot of things that are probably going to be embarrassing, but this is really important. So, I’m going start here and then off we go. Ok. Anal lube.”

Cassandra snorts loudly. Bela and Alcina give you a ‘Really’ look. Dani stops crying to chuckle a little. You just wanted to get the giggles out of the way. 

“Great. Ok. Now, whether you guys are getting kinky or not, there are three things you must always remember when having sex. Keep it safe. Keep it sane. And keep it consensual. I know that, as apex predators, you probably aren’t used to thinking about consent, but it’s really important for your personal relationships.” You explain. Alcina nods along with this.

Though its deeply embarrassing to get through, you explain the tenets of healthy sexual practices in detail. Slowly, the awkwardness fades in the wake of your direct tone and genuine interest from the group. When you come to the end, you ask for questions. Cassandra raises a hand.

“What if I like when they like, fight back and are like, scared of me?” She asks. Bold question.

“For you, I recommend roleplay. You just discuss the details of what you are looking for beforehand with your partner, make sure they’re cool with it, and pretend. Always keep an ear out for the safe word and have a nonverbal one too. Next question. Bela.”

“What if you’re not into all that violent stuff? You just want to like, make them feel good?” She asks. Your heart leaps in your chest. What a darling.

“It’s still important that you have consent, but you probably don’t have to go over all the specifics beforehand. Just communicate with your partner. Communication is key.” You explain.

“So, what did I do wrong? Mateo loves fucking me.” Dani asks. Her lip trembles. Alcina pulls her in for another hug.

“Sweetie, you probably frightened him. You can’t spring new things on your partner that might harm them or scare them, even if you’re in a relationship. Considering that Mateo knows that you eat human flesh, biting him unexpectedly was probably too much.” Alcina explains.

You nod and can’t help but feel a little pride. She really does listen to you.

“You should try and talk to him. Apologize for pushing him too far and have a serious conversation about it. Listen, Dani, if you really care about him and he really cares about you, then talking should help. He may still be scared and he may not want to do it again, but talk to him. I know he’s crazy about you. I’m sure he’ll listen.” You explain.

You kneel in front of her and offer her a hug. She takes you up on it and Alcina leans in too. You’re really nailing the parenting thing tonight.

Daniella pulls back and looks at you.

“Were you scared of Mother? Did she ever hurt you like I hurt Mateo?” She asks and the question is so sincere. You look up at Alcina.

“Well, I was at first, yes. Circumstances were definitely different, though. Your mother and I came to an understanding over time, but to answer your question, yes. We didn’t start off in the healthiest way. We got there though. We trust each other very, very much, but that takes time and communication. And love.”

Alcina leans down and takes your hand. You give hers a squeeze.

“Not only that, but Mateo’s still just a college kid. You’re both pretty inexperienced. Navigating all of this can be really hard the first time around. So, don’t feel too badly. You don’t have to get everything right on your first try.” You explain.

Dani sniffles and nods.

“Ok. I’m going to try and call him.” She says. Then she gets up and heads upstairs to her room. You stand up and kiss Alcina, then settle in on the couch next to her. Cassandra leans back into the couch and grabs the remote.

“Ok. Thanks for the weird sex talk, mom. Let’s watch Untold Stories of the E.R.” Cassandra says, flipping through the menus. Her sarcasm is palpable, but your heart swells. She called you “mom”.

Bela hops up off the couch, clearly still a little embarrassed. 

“I’ll get us a snack.” She announces, heading off to the kitchen. Alcina sighs and snuggles in between you and Cassandra.

“Can’t we watch something else?” She mutters.

“I don’t care as long as it’s not one of those house shows.” You add.

“Ok. Bela?” Cassandra calls back to the kitchen.

“What about Outlander?” She calls back. Wrinkled noses from all three of you on the couch.

Bela returns with a bowl full of bones and a glass of wine for Alcina. You and Cassandra each take a bone. Ooh, a radius.

“What about Twin Peaks?” You suggest.

“Too slow.” Cassandra groans.

“Come on, you girls like The Property Brothers.” Alcina says.

“Nooooooo.” You whine.

“Ok. X-Files?” Cassandra asks.

“Yeah, I can do that. Alcina?”

“Not to my taste.” She says with a little sigh.

You’re about to give up and start advocating for HGTV just so you can move things along, but Bela chimes in.

“Let’s watch The Addams Family.”  

Everyone nods in agreement. Excellent. You snack on your bone. Crunchy.

Daniella comes back down the stairs, still sniffling a little.

“He’s at work right now, but he said he’ll talk to me tomorrow.” She announces.

Everyone gives a little cheer. You snuggle into Alcina’s lap and everyone cuddles up on the couch. The familiar opening theme for the Addams Family comes on. You, Bela, Cassandra, and Daniella snap with the music. Alcina chuckles.

As the episode starts up, Daniella leans over Cassandra to whisper to you.

“Thanks for the advice.”

“You’re welcome.”

Then you all settle in and enjoy the show.

Chapter Text

The day of the cruise approaches and, as much as you don’t want to, you know you need to have someone come in and look at the window. You can’t put it off anymore. You roll over in bed and look at the boarded-up hole. Sadly, you know you really shouldn’t do it yourself. The tutorials and videos made your head spin.

“Damn.” You growl. Oh well. You’ll have to call someone. Having someone in the house who isn’t food or Mateo is a daunting thing and whoever it is should not be food. It’s too risky.

After all, there will be a record of the job somewhere at the person’s place of business. You don’t know what the local town thinks of the mysterious villa on the hill, but you imagine someone has noticed the disappearances. You just hope it’s not someone with major firepower. Pissed-off locals are one thing, but a more aggressive group like the one in Romania would be an actual nightmare. All things considered, pissed-off locals would still be a problem. You don’t want to move and –

“Ahhh!”

A sound interrupts your worried thoughts and a smirk plays at your lips. You hop out of the bed and saunter into the bathroom. Steam rolls out and there’s a rhythmic movement behind the curtain.

“Dearest?” You call gently.

The movement slows, but doesn’t stop.

“Was I too loud, my sweet?” Alcina asks between bumps against the shower wall.

You finally poke your head around the curtain and your smirk becomes an outright grin.

“Not at all. May I join you?”

Alcina pulls her hand away from her sex and takes yours, pulling you in for a kiss. The water of the shower washes you in warmth. Thankfully, you stopped sleeping with clothes on a few months ago.

“Mmm. I was thinking about you this morning.” She murmurs, moving to your neck.

“You flatter me. Was I any good?”

“Get to work and we’ll see if the reality is better than the fantasy.”

You kneel, lick your lips, and wink. Breakfast of champions.

Once you’ve both had your fill of each other’s talents, you get to washing.

“I’m so looking forward to Niagara Falls.” Alcina says.

She stretches and starts rinsing out her hair. You give her a little smile, but don’t offer a comment. After all, you’re a bit too nervous about all the details of the trip to be properly excited. There’s too much, almost, to think about. Plus that window needs fixing.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Alcina asks. How long have you been staring at the wall?

“Sorry. Just worried about the trip…and the window.” You admit.

Alcina leans down and pulls you into her arms. She feels so unshakable. Even back at the castle, in the heat of battle, and then in the forest on her last legs, her eyes were always facing ahead. Alcina is miraculous in that way.

“I’ve already called someone about the window and the trip will be fine.” She assures you. You lean into her.

“When are they coming?”

“They’re sending someone out tomorrow, so you’ll need to sleep in the guest room.”

“I’d like to be there if I can.” You insist.

“If you’re set on it, I’ll wake you up.” Alcina offers.

“Great.”

You finish getting ready for the night and then head down for breakfast. Daniella and Bela seem to be having a heated discussion about something.

“Good evening, changelings.” You say. They end their conversation abruptly.

“Something the matter, girls?” Alcina asks pointedly, moving for the freezer.

“Bela said there’s no way I’m in love with Mateo, but I am! I do love him and I want to marry him.” Daniella announces. Bela rolls her eyes.

“You are infatuated with him, but you don’t love him. Not yet. You don’t even really know him. How could you possibly want to marry him? It’s crazy. Tell her, Mother.” Bela insists.

“You’re just jealous because you had a big crush on Donna and she’s off sleeping her way around the world!” Daniella teases. Bela turns a deep shade of scarlet.

“Shut up, Daniella! I did not—”

“Poor little Bela. Of course, you’d fall in love with the first person who popped—”

“Shut up!” Bela snarls. She dives for Daniella, Alcina is quick to intervene.

“Enough of this!” Alcina bellows. Both girls stop their roughhousing and immediately mutter apologies.

“Now, what’s all this about being in love with Donna?” Alcina asks. Bela huffs.

“I am not in love with Donna. I just thought she was an interesting person. And that’s not even what we’re talking about.” Bela says quickly.

“Mother, when did you know you were in love with Luci?” Daniella quickly interjects. You and Alcina look at each other. You bite your lip.

“Well, I fell in love with your mother this evening and yesterday evening too. I fall in love with her every night.” You say reaching out to take Alcina’s hand and kiss it. Daniella makes a face.

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“I told you that you weren’t in love.” Bela sneers.

“Don’t start! Now, let’s see. I fell in love with Luci sometime after she recovered from the Cadou experiment. That night in the garden, I think.” Alcina says fondly. She brings your hand up and kisses it in return.  

“Yeah, but like, how did you know?” Daniella presses. You shrug.

“Honestly, Daniella, it’s hard to know for sure. I mean, I thought I was in love with women I’d been with but, after meeting your mother, it all pales in comparison.” You explain.

“That’s not very helpful.” Daniella says.

“I think you know you’re in love with someone when you want to be your best self for them. You’ve seen the good and the bad, but you just want to be there. You want to spend every day cherishing them, all of them.” You say finally.

Alcina shakes her head.

“It helps if the person is a hopeless romantic.” She says with a little laugh.

“And a good lay.” You add with a wink.

“Why are you the horniest people on the face of the Earth?” Bela groans.

She then buzzes over the fridge to grab a red shake of some kind and makes her escape. Daniella sighs.

“I just like, really like him, and I don’t want him to like anyone else.” She says sadly.

“And that’s wonderful, dragostea mea. Now, don’t worry so much about whether or not you love him or want to marry him or anything else. Just enjoy your time with him. The rest will follow for better or worse.” Alcina assures her. She gives Daniella a kiss on the head and then another.

“Mother!” Daniella giggles.

“Hey! Are you going to watch this with us or what?” Cassandra calls from the living room.

Daniella dissolves into a swarm of flies and buzzes off. You lean on the kitchen island.

“Did you ever have a big crush, you know, before me?” You ask with a little wink. It’s meant to be playful, but the question brings a twinge of sadness to Alcina’s eyes.

“I did love someone once.” She says quietly. You pause and search her face.

“We don’t have to—”

“No, I don’t mind or rather, I think I’d like to tell you.”

Alcina fetches a wine glass and one of her best bottles of wine. It’s one of her own, saved by the Duke. You know how precious these bottles are to her, so you follow her out to the porch and settle in for the story. She pulls out a cigarette and you light it for her before hopping back up onto the railing.

“You first.” She says with a smirk. She pours herself a glass of wine and sits back.

“Hoo boy. Where to begin? I have appreciated many women in my time. The musician was my first. Then the rugby girl. There was a dancer too. All of them beautiful, all of them special in their own ways. I don’t know if I loved them, but I loved many things about them.” You say wistfully. Alcina nods.

“But it wasn’t enough to keep you together.”

“No, but love on its own isn’t enough. You need so much more than that.”

“I thought you were a romantic.” Alcina says with a wink. You laugh and pull out a cigarette of your own.

“Life had long hardened me into a pragmatist, you’ve made me embrace romance again.” You say. It’s soft and sincere. You really mean it.

Alcina smiles, but there’s still a lingering sadness in her eyes. She takes a long look out over the railing of the porch and into the night.

“She was a childhood friend. Father never minded that I played with the village children. Not that I ever did much playing anyway. I was so small and weak, but she never minded. We used to tell each other stories. Hers were always much better than mine. She was so clever. She ended up becoming a doctor, which fit so well, but I’m getting ahead of myself.” Alcina says.

She takes a sip of her wine, then continues.

“We went our separate ways when I went abroad for school. I didn’t see her again until I was called home for my Father’s passing. It was during the second war. Things were so chaotic then. Borders were changing and people were deeply afraid. The rise of fascism was rampant throughout the continent, but Miranda made sure that the only words of reverence were for her. She isolated us thoroughly then. But that’s a different story.” Alcina continues.

The bit about Miranda certainly comes out laced in anger.

“When I saw my dear friend again, she was one of the attending on my Father’s sickbed. How happy I was to see her and to know that she wasn’t involved in the conflict. We reconnected and for a time, I was so, so happy. But the sickness in my blood was getting worse. It killed my father. I had to do something and so, Miranda made her offer. I didn’t have much choice. My dear friend nursed me through parts of it and again, she told me stories, though they were different from the flights of fancy from our youth.”

Alcina stops for a moment and takes a deep breath. You want to go to her, to rest your head on her knee, but you know not to. You know how hard it is for her to open up like this and she needs the space to do it. You smoke in silence.

“The first time I kissed her was a few weeks after my procedure. It was sudden and I don’t think either of us truly expected it. I’d always had a fondness for the fairer sex, but I’d never acted on it besides a few dares or drunken nights in Paris. She lost her husband in the fighting and I just think we were both so, deeply lonely. I can’t call it a relationship, but we did spend a lot of time together. Of course, it was not meant to be. Miranda was in my ear day and night. Looking to make good on her investment, I expect. At the time, I thought it was true favor, but now I see Miranda for what she was. A manipulative snake.”

Alcina practically spits Miranda’s name as she says it.

“I had that bitch on one shoulder, whispering to me about how I was better than others, holier. How the people I drank from deserved what they got. How their sacrifice was meaningful. On the other shoulder, the voice of reason. She didn’t know I was feeding on humans and she didn’t know about the experiments in the cellar, but as my body began to change, she began to suspect something dark was afoot. And, truth be told, I loved her. She was so spirited and incredibly intelligent. How she would go on and on about the folly of that disgusting Führer and his evil war. She preached about the working class. She always called me a “posh little princess”, but I know she cared about me too.”

Alcina trails off and takes a long drag on her cigarette before putting it out. You light another for yourself and then offer her one too. She takes it and continues.

“But one day she went into the cellar. I don’t know why; what madness drove her down there, but she found more than she bargained for. Blood. Half-dead villagers. You know the scene. I hadn’t yet gotten used to killing them. I left them in agony. And I was so, so hungry all the time. I couldn’t bring myself to drink more than few drops back then, but I couldn’t bear to let them go either.”

You can hear the pain in her voice as she speaks.

“She confronted me about it. Called me horrible things. Accused me of being a Nazi sympathizer, a cannibal, a demon. I couldn’t bear it. The agony of it. The shame. My life as Miranda’s experiment and my life as a woman were colliding, crashing into each other like two ships in a storm. I was angry, hurt, and I believed the things that Miranda told me. I clung to them in the dark.”

The tears are falling now.

“But my darling, dearest friend…She said she would expose me, that she couldn’t let me carry on. She cornered me in the chapel one morning. I didn’t know my own strength then. I only meant to slap her.”

Alcina’s voice breaks and tears fall openly. Finally, you leap to her side, pressing your face into her knee. She continues.

“Humans are so fragile and yet, so resilient. I had broken her neck, but she was still alive. I’ll never forget that choked, horrible gurgling sound she made. Gasping for breath. I looked into her eyes, eyes that I had gazed into for so long with adoration. They held only fear for me. I killed her right there in the chapel tower. Her name was Irina.”

You climb up into Alcina’s lap and wrap your wings around her shoulders. You stifle your own tears to make room for hers. You remind her that you love her. You repeat it over and over until she has the strength to continue.

“I was different after that. Her death was like a dam. Once it was broken, the beast within me took over. Killing was easy. I grew vicious, cruel. I decided that no one would ever love me, except for my beloved Mother Miranda. Funny enough, it was Miranda that changed my mind. In time, she gave me my daughters. They helped guide me back to my humanity. And then you came along.”

Alcina snuggles into your wings, burying her face into your shoulder.

“After all that business with Irina and Miranda’s influence, I thought I wanted a slave. Someone I could control who would never challenge me or look me in the eyes. But I was so, so wrong.”

She pulls back to look at you. You can’t help but let the tears fall now. You can’t imagine the pain she went through. Your heart breaks for her.

“Oh, darling, don’t cry. Don’t cry. It was all so long ago. So many things have changed.” Alcina assures you.

You wipe your eyes and kiss her. You pour all your love into that kiss. She kisses you back and you share in her pain. The kiss breaks after a few moments and she pulls you into her arms again. You rest on her chest and make a silent vow to protect her heart for all time.

“It’s not a terribly romantic story, I’m afraid, but it’s mine.” Alcina says.

“I’m so sorry, Alcina.”

“Don’t be, love. Our stories make us who we are, the sweet and the painful. You know the only person alive who knows that story.”

“I’ll guard it with my life.” You whisper with great conviction.

“I know.”

The two of you sit in the wake of the tale for a long, long time. Alcina drinks the bottle down to the sediment and you smoke all your cigarettes. You go in and get your guitar at some point.

No words you could say would ever take the pain of Irina away, but you don’t want to. Alcina’s right. Our stories make us who we are. All you can do is love her and you do. But you were also right. Loving someone isn’t enough to make a marriage work. You have to have the understanding to see them as they are, the compassion to forgive them for who they were, and the hope to dream of who they will one day be.

Alcina Dimitrescu is a complicated woman. She’s done so many horrible things, things that other people would find unforgivable. Perhaps, you should hold it against her, but you can’t bring yourself to do it. You’ve done horrible things too. They may not have been as bloody, but who among us has never hurt another person? Who among us can claim purity? You’d rather leave the moralizing to the religious. Let God decide who deserves damnation.

There is more that you want to say to her about your past; pain of your own you need to share, but not tonight. You have time. Tonight is about her. So, you play your guitar in between stories about Irina. Some songs are livelier, meant to accentuate a happier story. Some are more somber. But the last one you play is straight from the heart. You hope that it puts to rest the ghosts in both of your hearts. At least for a little while.

 

 

“I hope that you like it in your little motel

And I hope that the suite sleeps and suits you well

Well, I can see it as time and a sight through smell and

That's why it's nice to be by yourself

 

'Cause that's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for, aren't I?

That's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for, darling

 

We treat mishaps like sinking ships and

I know that I don't want to be out to drift

Well, I can see it in your eyes like I taste your lips and

They both tell me that we're better than this

 

'Cause that's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for, aren't I?

That's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for, darling

 

We trade tit for tat like that for this

And I don't think that there was an insult that was missed

I can see it in your eyes like I taste your lips and

I'm very sorry

 

'Cause that's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for, aren't I?

That's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for

That's what I'm waiting for, darling

 

Remainders of a shooting star

Landed directly on our broke down little car

Before then we had made a wish

That we would be missed

If one or another just did not exist

 

'Cause that's what we're waiting for

That's what we're waiting for

That's what we're waiting on, aren't we?

That's what we're waiting for

That's what we're waiting for

That's what we're waiting on, aren't we?”

 

When you finish strumming, Alcina smiles at you.

“You’re quite good, you know.”

“Thanks.”

“Come on. Let’s go see what the girls are doing. I believe we’ve licked our wounds for long enough.” Alcina says.

You can feel her collect herself and in turn, you pull yourself out of your memories. The past is the past. 

When you go inside, the girls are all laid out on the couch with various snacks and drinks strewn about the living room.

“What were you guys up to?” Cassandra asks casually. It’s not as flippant as usual. They could probably hear bits and pieces of your conversation.

Alcina takes her place on the couch and you flop down beside her.

“Oh, you know. Gay stuff.” You say. Cassandra snorts.

“What are you watching?” Alcina asks.

“It’s called Hellsing.” Cassandra says. You remember what this show is about. Vampires, vicious genocide, nazis. It’s a little heavy in context.

“Maybe we can watch something else?” You ask hurriedly.

“Yeah, let’s watch something that Mother would like.” Bela adds. Cassandra groans and exits out of the show.

After a little debate, you end up watching Chocolat. The charming, rustic romance is perfect. Then you all decide to watch a few episodes of Murder She Wrote. By the end of the fourth episode, everyone is snoozing lightly. Even Alcina who rarely ever sleeps. You hope it’s a sign that she feels safe. You hope she dreams about something nice.

Eventually, after taking care of a few things around the house and getting a good meal in, you decide to turn in for the night. It’s early for you, but you know the window people are going to come during the day and you want to be alert for it.

Alcina joins you in bed. As you get comfortable and settle in for a few hours of shut-eye, Alcina takes your hand and kisses it.

“Was it too much? The story about Irina?” She asks. You pull her hand into your chest.

“No, my love. It’s a part of you and I’m here to bear witness to the whole of your being.”

Alcina laughs, a little relieved.

“How can you be so articulate when you’re half asleep?”

“Just good at words.” You murmur. Then you settle into the bed and drift off into sleep.

Alcina wakes you around mid-morning. It’s so strange to see the sunlight. Well, it’s strange to be blinded by it, at least. You forgot how harsh the light is on your eyes. It’s so much worse than the lamps around the house. You don your sunglasses and dress for company.

The plan is simple. Alcina will welcome the men into the house and you’ll remain in bed, largely covered, to watch over them while they work. The girls are going out for the day. Best to keep them away from the temptation of eating the workmen.

The arrival of the repairmen is imminent, so you climb into your bed, and put on your hat to hide your ears. You make sure your long-sleeved shirt is bulky enough to accommodate and hide your wings.

Two men arrive. A father and son. The father looks to be in his late fifties with laugh lines and leathery, sun-dipped skin. The son is a bit paler with long shaggy hair. Alcina leads them into the bedroom where they find you lying in wait.

“Well now, I didn’t realize we would have an audience.” The father says. You tip your hat to him.

“I apologize for the intrusion.” You say.

“Not at all. I was hoping I’d get to talk to you all. But first, let’s get to work.” He says.

Alcina leaves to call The Duke and finalize your cruise plans and you’re left with the strangers. How long has it been since you’ve really spoken to anyone beyond the walls of this house? A long time. You’re not sure you can make small talk anymore. You wait for them to start a conversation if they want to.

“Beautiful house, isn’t it?” The father says.

The boy stays quiet, but you’ve noticed a few off-handed glances in your direction while they take their measurements.

“Yes.” You say cautiously.

“I think the one we have in the truck will fit just fine. Go get it, Alej.”

The younger man gives you one more long, lingering glance then leaves for the windowpane.

“Now, if you don’t mind me saying so, I was expecting something a bit more, how do you say, sinister.” The man says.

His tone is light, but there’s a genuine curiosity to it.

“Sinister? We’re just a normal family like any other.”

“Your wife is, no offense, quite a bit to take in.”

“Magnificent, some might say.”

“Oh yes. Charming lady.”

Silence sets in. You can tell he really wants to ask you something.

“So, go on. Ask what you want to ask. I can tell you’re burning with it.” You say.

“My apologies, Señora. People do talk around the town.” He admits, a little sheepish.

“And what do they say?”

“I don’t know if I should say.”

“You’ve come this far. Might as well.”

Your words are a challenge, a dare almost. He scratches his head.

“They say you all are brujas.” He explains.

You snort.

“And let me guess, we kill men for their blood to use in our rituals.”

“I’m just repeating what I’ve heard. Lotta disappearances since you ladies moved in.”

“Yes, well. I do hate to disappoint, but we’re just a loving, if eccentric, family. Just like any other. You didn’t really ask me anything though.”

The younger man returns with the windowpane and the men set about replacing it. By the time they’re ready to leave, the younger man finally snaps. He barks something at you in Spanish, but you don’t know the language well enough to respond.

His father is quick to shush him and push him towards the bedroom door.

“My apologies, ma’am. My son is of the mind that Miss Daniella has cast some kind of spell on Mateo.” He says with a shake of his head.

“Oh, don’t worry about it. Many men fear the spell of a woman’s charms. Perhaps it is easier to blame it on black magic.”

He laughs and it’s a jolly sound.

“You are certainly right about that. But I did want to ask you something.” He says. He gets a little nervous and scratches his head again.

“Now, I’m not saying that you are, but if you were in touch with some kind of power, I was wondering if you could find out what’s wrong with my wife. Doctors don’t know a damn thing. They tell us she’s just tired, but I know that’s not true.”

You take a long, hard look at him. You certainly feel for him and, with a taste of her blood, you could probably figure out what was wrong. Still. The prospect of opening that door is a dangerous one. You want to talk to Alcina about it, if nothing else.

“Well, I’m very sorry to hear about your wife. If I ever do meet someone with the power to decode her body, I’ll certainly give you a call.” You say finally.

He nods and you can’t tell if he’s relieved or saddened by your response. No matter. The window is fixed. You will ponder his request.

Alcina hurries back into the room as soon as she hears the front door shut. You relay the conversation you had with the man. It brings a scowl to her face.

“Witches. Can you imagine?”

“Could be worse. They could think we’re, I don’t know, vampires?”

Alcina gives a little scoff.

“But we should think about what he said about his wife. I don’t know if we should help, but we could. I don’t know. Let’s just think about it.”

Alcina sighs and gives you a little smile.

“My little hooker with a heart of gold.” She says.

“Where did you learn that?” You snap.

You throw the covers back and get out of the bed.

“You’re not the only one with internet access. I read.” Alcina says defensively.

You groan.

“I forgot how hot it gets during the day.” You say.

Alcina takes your hand.

“Let’s get right on that then.”

She brings you downstairs and opens the freezer. It’s a nice, cool burst of air. She removes two popsicles and hands you one.

“Daniella made them.” She says.

She then opens her mouth and presses the frozen, bloody treat between her lips. She lets it slide back out, then pushes it in again, deeper this time, watching you watch her do it. Ah, the inherent erotism of popsicles in the right hand.

“I see you have been studying pop culture.” You say with a wry smile.

She runs the popsicle over her lips and lets the blood run down her chin a little.

“Mother!”

Cassandra storms into the room.

“Must you make everything some kind of innuendo?” She snaps.

Alcina quickly wipes her mouth.

“Sorry, dear. I didn’t realize you had returned.”

“I didn’t go with them. I’d rather play Castlevania.”

You give Cassandra a thumbs up.

“Right on.”

She frowns at you. You hear the front door open and the buzzing of hundreds of little wings.

“Mommy, we’re home!” Daniella cries.

Alcina bites through the popsicle stick in her mouth and nearly chokes on it. You stifle a laugh. Cassandra looks at both of you for a moment and then puts it together with a horrified expression.

“Oh my fucking god! I don’t even know why I came in here anymore!” Cassandra snaps. She disperses into her swarm and leaves.

“Daniella!” Alcina calls into the house.

You hear the buzzing approach with peals of laughter.

“She’s never called me that before.” Alcina snaps at you in a hushed whisper. You shrug.

“Yes, mom?” Daniella says in a little sing-song. She and Bela have their arms full of little sweets and cakes from town.

“Mom is fine. Mother is best. Mommy is absolutely forbidden.” Alcina says slowly.

“Oh, I was just trying something new. Trying to get with the times. Why can’t we—oh.”  

Daniella’s brain catches up with her mouth. Bela gives you a withering look. You eat your popsicle as respectfully as you can and look up at the ceiling. Daniella nods at you.

“You know what? Good for you. No kink-shaming in this house. Good talk everyone.” Daniella says diplomatically.

You clear your throat. Bela is still regarding you with contempt.

“Yeah, Bela. No kink-shaming.” You say with a snort.

Her eyes flash.

“Listen. I don’t need to know what kind of pervy—”

“Bela.” Alcina warns. The blonde gives a little huff.

“Ok. Let me put it like this. I would prefer if you two could keep the details of your sex life to yourselves. It’s weird.” Bela says.

You and Alcina nod.

“We can certainly do that. I’m sorry that we’ve made you uncomfortable.” You say seriously. Bela nods.

“We’re all learning healthy boundaries.” She says.

“Personally, I don’t care. I have some questions about pegging if you guys have any tips. I know it’s kind of different with a guy, but like, there’s gotta be some overlap.” Daniella says.

Bela bursts into a swarm of flies and a cry of outrage. Daniella shrugs like, ‘What did I say?’. Alcina sighs and heads into the house after her eldest, leaving you with Daniella.

“Ok. I’ll give you some tips if you promise to be more respectful of Bela’s boundaries.” You say.

Daniella sighs.

“Fine. Ok.”

“Great. Now, you’re going to need a good harness, a comfortable dildo for him, and a lot of lube. Bigger is not always better when it comes to penetration.”

“I see. Tell me more.”

You regale Daniella with everything she needs to know to try things out with Mateo and remind her to talk to him about the details before she tries anything. When the conversation is over and she skips off to her room to call him, you feel a strange sense of pride. It almost brings a tear to your eye.

You head up the stairs and into your bedroom. You take a deep breath. The window being whole once more brings a bit of peace to you. The men came and they’ve gone. No one is dead and nothing happened. You yawn.

It’s still midday and you only got a few hours of sleep. You shut the curtains and head back to bed. Tomorrow you can pack and get ready for the cruise. You hope it goes as smoothly.

Chapter Text

You stand on the roof of the villa, stretching your arms and legs for one final flight before the trip. You don’t expect you’ll be able to get much flying in and honestly, the knowledge stings. You kind of hate the idea of having to hide in plain sight for so long. Still, you know how much your family is looking forward to traveling. Alcina, at least, is quite excited.

And perhaps you are also looking forward to going home. That word. Home. You sigh and crouch down low before launching yourself into the air.

Home. It’s one of those words where the definition has changed over the years. You expect it will continue to change too. Once it was a prison, then it was a fortress. What is it now, you wonder?

You soar through the trees, dodging through them, and letting the leaves kiss your wings. You fly closer to town. The window man and his wife come to mind. You wonder where they live and before you realize what you’re doing, you’re scanning the cars in each driveway for a large van. You don’t even know if you’ll find it. What if he keeps the van at his place of business?

The sun’s not up yet and the little town is so quiet. You land on one of the roofs and listen. There are a few birds on the powerlines to your right. You glance at them. You’ve seen them before.

A bird’s eye is so empty and yet, so discerning. There’s one large bird among the rest. One of the eagles, right? You cock your head at it and it does the same at you. No, not an eagle. It’s a crow. You almost laugh. How did you get that so wrong?

You’ve always liked crows. They may not be as pretty as ravens, but they’re so smart. Symbols of wisdom and of change. Harbingers. You smile and hope that the crow’s appearance promises good things ahead.

You return to your listening. When you focus, you can practically walk through the houses as they creak and groan with age. Then, you hear it. A soft, gentle cry. A woman’s strained breathing. A man waking from his sleep to go to her. Whispered assurances.

You silently pad over the roof of the house you’re on and quietly sneak to the house with movement. You climb down the siding of the house and peek in the window. It’s him. 

The man wipes sweat from his wife’s head and kisses it. Then he tells her he’ll get her some water and leaves to go down to the first floor. You try the window and it opens. Ah, the security of small towns.

You slip inside. This is insane. You should not be doing this, but you can’t help it. You’re so curious and you do so want to give this man his answer. What if it was your wife? Besides, you know all too well how doctors can be.

The woman is pretty. Maybe in her sixties or seventies. It’s hard to tell. You creep towards the bed and sniff. She seems out of it and the room smells like sickness. All you need is a little blood. You’ve tasted a variety of people in your time. Surely, you’ll know what ails her. Just one little taste.

You’re so focused on staying quiet and on the woman, that you don’t hear her husband return. It’s the sound of the water glass hitting the floor that alerts you.

You freeze beside the bed and for a moment, no one moves. You rise to standing, revealing your true nature to this man. He trembles, terrified beyond speech. You gaze at him for a moment and then you put your hands up.

“I want to help you.”

The man takes a shaky step back, then falls to his knees.

“Padre nuestro, que estás en el cielo. Santificado sea tu nombre. Venga tu reino. Hágase tu voluntad en la tierra como en el cielo. Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día. Perdona nuestras ofensas, como también nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden. No nos dejes caer en tentación y líbranos del mal.” The man whispers in a hushed, hurried tone. 

“You asked for help and here I am.”

The man repeats his prayer. You consider leaving. Even if he were to repeat this story to someone, you don’t expect anyone would truly believe it. But no, you’ve come this far. You reach down and take the woman’s hand, then you bring it to your lips and slide your fangs into the flesh. She winces, but you’re very careful not to rip or tear the skin more than is necessary. You taste.

The flavor is acrid and definitely of illness. You run through your memories. The taste is familiar. Where do you know it?

The sound of footsteps running down the hall. The son.

“¿Qué pasó?”

A twinge of fear runs through you. This was a bad idea. A stupid whim. What have you done? You’ve risked everything and for what? Fuck.

Then you realize.

“Your mother has cancer. It’s in her bones.”

Then, before either of the men can respond, you dart back out the window, and fly into the night once more. You fly like hell back to the villa. Alcina is waiting for you in the front yard.

“There she is! Stretching your wings one—”

“Alcina. I did something stupid.” You say quickly as you touch down.

You explain what happened with your curiosity and then with the family. You’re really kicking yourself for this one now. What on earth were you thinking? How long before the torches and pitchforks arrive on your doorstep?

“Darling, calm down. There’s no guarantee that they will march on the house or anything like that. That man asked for your help and you gave it to him. I’ll admit, it was a little rash on your part. I do wish we had come up with a safer plan, but what’s done is done.” Alcina assures you.

You shake your head. How can she be so calm about this?

“But they saw me! I only meant to—”

“Sweetheart, don’t trouble yourself. We’ll be gone in the morning anyway. I’ll call The Duke and have him keep an eye on the house. If anything does happen, he’ll let us know, and we can deal with it then.”

You shake your head again, but can’t help but smile. You lean up and she leans down to kiss you.

“How did I get so lucky to have such a wise and reasonable wife?” You ask.

She gives you another quick peck.

“And how did I get so lucky to have such a kind one?”

The two of you head back into the house to finish the final preparations for your trip.

You slept extra late, going into the night, to ensure that you’d have some energy for the morning. Though, truth be told, you’ve been needing less and less sleep lately. You wonder if you’ll be like Alcina and the girls soon, not needing much sleep at all.

The Duke has arranged for transport to the ship by wheelchair accessible van. Though you really, really don’t like it, you have accepted the fact that you’ll be wheelchair-bound for pretty much the entire trip. Oh well. At least the arm workout will be pretty good. You guess.

As you’re wheeled into the van and strapped in, you run through your list checklist of ‘Things that must be done before leaving’ one more time.

“And everyone has their suitcases?”

“Yes, dear.”

“And we locked all the doors and windows?”

“Of course.”

“And you packed the harness and the—”

“And the attachments. Everything is fine, love.” Alcina assures you.

You can tell that your fretting is irritating her just a little bit, but she’s trying to be patient about it.

“And I have my gloves, my hat, and no one can see my legs, right?”

“Darling, sweetness, precious love of my life, we are going on a trip. This trip is meant to be relaxing and fun. You must quiet those nerves and trust me. I checked everything. Twice.” Alcina insists.

You take a deep breath.

“We didn’t leave the oven on, did we?” You ask.

Alcina scowls.

“I’ll spank you raw once we’re on that boat.”

You can’t help but laugh a little.

“You promise?”

The ride over is full of chatter and nervous excitement, but not from you. It’s mostly the girls this time. Mateo was unable to take off from work to join you and you expect the extra excitement from Cassandra and Bela is meant to soften the blow for Daniella. Besides, they’ve never been on a cruise before. What will it be like? Will there be seagulls? Sharks?

“We’ll find out.” Alcina says wearily.

You expect she’ll be on the deck reclining with a drink the first chance she gets.

The driver of the van says very little, but he’s competent. The Duke assured you that he was properly vetted and that he came highly recommended. He even helps Alcina load you out of the van once you’re at the dock.

You show a crewman your tickets and he welcomes you to the Dragon’s Kiss. A bit on the nose, you think. Alcina chuckles at the name too.

The ship is large and already bustling with activity as you all head up onto the deck, but Alcina insists that everyone find their rooms before they go off to explore. The smell of the ocean is truly refreshing. You finally let yourself feel a little excited.

Once, in what feels like another lifetime, you loved to travel. The thrill of adventure. The anonymity of it. Yes, you decide it’s about time to get back to that easy-going place you used to adopt for voyages. Nothing to do but embrace the roll of the waves.

The girls’ room is directly across from yours and Alcina’s. Neither of the suites are particularly grand, but they’ll do just fine. Each one has a fridge, bathroom, and other simple amenities, or so you’ve been told by The Duke. The girls’ room has three beds, one of which is a murphy bed. Neat.

You enter into the girls’ room and Alcina shuts the door behind you all.

“Now, remember, girls. No eating passengers without permission. There is plenty of food in our coolers. We also insist that you do not under any circumstances fly around or show anyone that you are anything but charming young ladies.”  She says in her most motherly tone.

“We know, mother.” Cassandra groans.

“Yes, I know that you know, but it’s very important. Additionally, I expect it will be quite chilly at night, so please let me know if you need help keeping warm.”

Daniella still seems a little put out, but Bela is quick to hop on the bed next to her and give her a hug.

“We promise we will be careful. Now, can we go up and look around? Please?” Bela asks.

Alcina smiles.

“Of course and make sure your cell phones are all on loud. I expect quick replies to text messages!” Alcina warns them.

The girls make a variety of affirmative noises and then they’re off. You chuckle.

“Come on, love. I was promised a Dragon’s Kiss.” You say with a little wink.

Alcina rolls her eyes.

“Come on, you.”

Your room is slightly nicer than that of the girls’. There’s one large bed and you notice that the legs are reinforced with steel. A nice touch. The Duke does think of everything. There’s also a bathroom with a shower. You expect Alcina will barely fit, but it should be ok for a little while.

You’ll be on the ship for about a week before docking in Alexandria Bay. It’s all a bit unorthodox, but The Duke said you’ll have no trouble. Everything is arranged with customs and local police. You have a pretty good feeling that you and your family are not the only suspicious characters on this ship. Ah well. What are they going to do? You feel a ripple of worry pass through you as you ask yourself that question, but you push it down. Everything is going to be fine. Right?

“Now, about that kiss.” You say as Alcina starts to unpack her suitcase. She laughs.

“So eager, aren’t you?”

“I’m just nervous about everything. Trying to relax into it.”

Alcina gives you a knowing look.

“Well, we can’t have that, can we, pet?”

You lick your lips. No, we cannot.

“But let’s unpack and take a little stroll first. There’s also something I wanted to talk to you about.” Alcina says.

The serious tone of her voice turns the heat down inside of you. You raise an eyebrow and listen while Alcina continues to unpack.

“It’s about Bela. The other day when you were giving Daniella advice, I followed after her and she had a little cry and she told me about the whole Donna situation. Apparently, Donna was the first person she’d ever slept with.” Alcina explains.

You cross your arms.

“Shit.”

“Bela knew that it was just a fun little romp, but that’s part of why she’s so upset. She’s really hurting about this and she doesn’t understand why. And I just think seeing us together all the time rubs salt in the wound. Not to mention the fact that Daniella and Cassandra have definitely been teasing her about it. She actually admitted that to me and she never tells on her sisters. That’s more Cassandra’s game.” Alcina explains.

You climb out of your wheelchair and go to her. She seems quite perturbed by Bela’s situation.

“Can I talk to her?” You ask gently.

“No, I think we should let it be until we go home. I just wanted to mention it. Maybe we can make the trip extra fun for her somehow and Daniella too. I know how disappointed she is that Mateo couldn’t join us.”

“We’ll certainly think of something.” You say with a nod.

Alcina takes your hand.

“I admit, I am shocked in retrospect about Donna’s behavior. At the time, I think I was so swept up in the amusement of it, but now, I don’t know. It seemed so unlike her. She was always so soft-spoken in the village.” Alcina admits.

You shrug.

“I think it’s being away from the village changed her, as it changed everyone.” You assure her.

Alcina nods.

“Yes, I do believe you are right. We all just needed to get away from Miranda and Donna had it the worst of all of us being adopted by her. I can only imagine.”

“Did you ever talk to her much?” You ask.

Even after all this time, you still don’t know that much about what life was like before you showed up in Romania. You’ve heard little snatches here and there, but nothing substantial. You can tell it’s hard for Alcina to talk about.

“Not especially. We were all so wrapped up in our little worlds then. Trapped even.”

You take her hand and give it a squeeze.

“Hey, hey.  Donna’s probably having the time of her life out there, free as a bird, and now, we are going to have the time of our life right here.”

Alcina leans in scratches your ear.

“You’re right. Come on, Luce. Let’s go see what’s out there.” Alcina purrs.

You climb back into the wheelchair and don your hat once more. Alcina looks you over to ensure everything is hidden and nods. Good. Time to go.

The ship hums and groans with life. There’s music wafting out from the various hallways and corridors. It’s surprisingly warm. You and Alcina make your way to the main hall and take a look at the map.

“Ooh. There’s a casino.” You observe.

“Fancy yourself a lucky lady?” Alcina asks with a little bump of her hip.

“I suppose that depends on what happens later, doesn’t it?”

“Let’s get you a drink before you die of thirst.”

You can’t help but laugh at this.

“Let guess. Daniella taught you that one.”

Alcina rolls her eyes at you and leans down to whisper into your neck from her place behind you.

“You know brats don’t get to come, right?”

You reach up and place your gloved hand on her cheek to keep her close. You’ve got a delicious idea.

“I propose a wager. Tonight’s high roller gets to pick our evening festivities.”

“You’re on.”

You make your way to the casino and stand at the entrance to the large room, taking it all in. The familiar sound of slot machines assaults your ears, even though everything is muffled beneath your hat. Truth be told, everything is blurred from the sound and the light. Hmmm. That puts Alcina at an advantage. You need to find something on the quieter side.

“We’ll both start with $100. Any game is fair. The only thing that matters is the final count. What do you say to two hours?” You say.

“Very well. Now, to show Lady Luck who’s boss.” Alcina purrs.

You chuckle.

“May the odds be ever in your favor, my love.”

Happy Hunger Games indeed. You part ways.

Ah, it’s been such a long time since you were in a casino, but you’ve spent many an odd hour in halls just like this. Wins, losses. The thrill of a lucky break. The crushing despair of losing it all. Now, Alcina doesn’t know this, but you’ve never left a casino with less than you entered with. True story. You always find a way to turn your handful of chips into a solid pile and, if you find your winnings slipping away, then you simply leave. After all, gambling is more about what you lose than what you win. That is to say, you love the thrill of casting your stakes into the hands of fate, but you’ll feel much better if you emerge unscathed.

Unfortunately, you are on a time limit and it’s not about how much you lose, but how much you win. Hmmm.

You spend the first hour listening at the slots. They’re a very good place to start. You exchange a few bills for chips at the little kiosk and take a deep breath. What’s the machine no one is touching? Where are the winning machines? You scan the rows of slots for the handful of veterans who always know which chances to take. You don’t know if any of this works, but the mysticism is half the fun.

It’s amazingly loud though and you’ll need to move on quickly. Choose the right machine.

There. Poseidon’s Bounty. Machine #4. There’s sweat on the handle, but no smell of coins in the catcher. Someone’s been working this one, but they weren’t able to get anything out of it. You like your odds and take a seat.

You slide in your chips and press the button. The slots spin and you lick your lips. Nothing. No matter. You double your bet. Yes! Excellent. The coins fall out and you collect them for your pocket. Gorgeous, but you can do better. Double your bet. Nothing. Stick to your guns. Another small win. Good. Ok. You’ve made a little.

You continue on like this for the remainder of your first hour and then count your winnings. A solid haul. Perfect. Still, the lights and sounds are more than jarring though. You’re well past your limit to tolerate it.

You wonder idly how Alcina is faring, but you’ll find out later. You should hit the card tables. Traditionally, you’ve fared best at Texas Hold ‘Em, so you look for a table. You don’t have the funds for the high rollers tables, but you should be able to buy in at one of the lower ones.

You notice your wife’s unmistakable figure at one of the tables at the far end. Her table only has two players. Perfect.

You wheel yourself over to the table as casually as you can and the man next to the empty chair is quick to get up and move it out of the way for you.

“Please, join us.” He says. You roll into the spot and place your chips on the table.

“The Countess was just regaling us with the most charming story about her old winery.” The man says warmly.

He’s older, probably in his late fifties. There’s a certain, dashing charm to him.

“My, my. A countess? Among the paupers no less. I shall be on my best behavior.” You say with a smirk.

“I should hope so.” Alcina says.

The man sits back down and the dealer deals a hand for everyone. Alcina and the nice gentlemen talk of wine and spirits. You’re watching them carefully, listening. When Alcina’s story ends you take a look at your cards and then wait for the first card for the center of the table, the flop.

Hmm. You have a pair of tens. Not awful, but not great.

“And what brings you to the Dragon’s Kiss, Countess…?” You ask, leading her to give her name. It’s a game and you hope she’ll play along.

“Dimitrescu. And you are?” Alcina says with her haughtiest air.

Of course, she plays along. You pretend to ponder your hand a little.

“Countess Dimitrescu. Sounds foreign.” You muse, not answering her question on purpose.

The gentleman laughs and places his bet. You place yours.

“How can anyone be foreign on a ship in the middle of the ocean? Or rather, aren’t we all?” He offers.

“Well said, Mr. Thyme.” Alcina says.

“Oh, please. Call me Aaron.” The gentleman says.

“Well, Aaron, perhaps our friend can learn something of gallantry from you. After all, she still hasn’t even given us the courtesy of a name.” Alcina purrs. It’s flirtatious even.

“What use would the name of a poor, peasant like me be to a grand lady such as yourself?” You flirt.

The cards are laid. Bets are placed.

“Oh, I’m hardly gallant. After all, I’m about to defeat the both of you.” Aaron says with a wink.

He lays out a solid hand. Alcina smiles wide. You frown.

“Don’t underestimate your betters.” Alcina says with a laugh.

She lays down the best hand. You curse under your breath.

Two more rounds of flirting and betting. She wins both of them. A part of you wonder if she’s cheating, but even if she were, you wouldn’t fault her for it. Cheating or not, you’re being outplayed, and you were so excited about your idea for the night’s festivities too.

“Well, I must say, the gods must favor the beautiful.” Aaron says, a little weary.

“Or the snooty.” You grumble.

Alcina gives you a pouty expression.

“Oh, don’t be bitter. You have the easiest tell I’ve ever seen.” Alcina croons.

You scowl.

“Well, I think I’d better stop there if I plan to walk away with anything at all.” You mutter.

Aaron nods.

“I’m afraid I must agree. However, it’s been a pleasure. Truly. You were very entertaining company.” He says warmly.

Alcina laughs in a musical ‘I’ve won and you’re mine’ sort of way.

“Well, I think I’ll rest on my laurels at the bar then.”

You shake your head. You’ve lost. Damn. Well, all things considered, you’re certain Alcina will still treat you to a pleasant evening, but still. You do hate to lose. You wheel your sullen expression out to the smoking deck and light yourself a cigarette.

“May I join you?”

It’s Aaron again. You nod and gesture for him to come over.

“Please.”

“You and your wife do warm the heart.” He says lighting a cigarette of his own.

You laugh.

“Were we that obvious?”

“Oh, certainly. There’s an unmistakable ease between you and I had no idea what your tell was, so she had to know you.” He admits.

His cigarette is sweet in your nose. Earthy. It’s nice.

“You’re quite observant.” You say. It’s almost nerve-wracking. Does he know your secrets?

“Not observant enough. The Countess showed us both that she’s no easy mark.”

“She certainly isn’t.” You laugh.

“She reminds me of my late wife. You must do me a favor and cherish the time you have.” He says a little sadly.

You nod solemnly.

“Oh, we will. And with a woman as vast as mine, I expect it will take a lifetime to fully appreciate her.” You say.

“Well said. By the way, if you want the rest of my chips, you’re welcome to them. I think I’m going to turn in after such a pleasant beating and I have no need to cash out.” He says.

You raise an eyebrow.

“Really?”

“Oh sure. It’s only a couple grand.” He says idly.

Your eyes light up and you take a hard drag on your cigarette. You look down at your phone. Your time’s not up yet.

“I must admit, you’ve sincerely improved my night.” You say.

“Happy to do it. Just remember what I said.” He says gently.

He hands over the chips in a little cloth bag provided by the casino. You take it and give it a shake.

“The Countess and I had a little wager. I do believe this is more than enough to win it.” You explain.

He laughs.

“Well, if she’s on the warpath then I’ll expect discretion.” He says with a wink.

You put out your cigarette and give him a nod.

“Every minute. I promise.”

You clasp hands and give a firm shake. Then you’re off with a laugh and a glint in your eye. His sensible chuckle leaves you with a bit of warmth in your chest, but as you stroll over to the bar, that warmth transforms into a flame of superiority.

“Why, Countess Dimitrescu, how lovely it is to see you again.” You say with a smirk.

“You look awfully pleased for someone who’s been so thoroughly crushed.” She says.

She sips her drink. The scent of lemons and gin wafts into your nose.

“A Tom Collins? Really?”

“I prefer something refreshing before a workout. Though I suppose I should be giving this to you, shouldn’t I, considering?”

She tilts the glass at you and you grin.

“Let’s count up then.”

She places her chips on the bar. A very respectable $673. You nod. You then place the bag of your chips onto the bar and let them spill out. You don’t bother counting. It’s clear who won.

“I should have known you would cheat, frisky little knave.” Alcina scowls.

“Oh, don’t be a sore loser. All’s fair in love and war.”

It doesn’t take long for her drink to empty and for the two of you to end up back in your room. It’s a quiet trip. You want to keep the suspense going. You both enter your suite and you lock the door behind you. 

“On the bed, if you please, madame.”

Alcina takes her sweet time, but she does take a seat on the bed. She crosses her legs and adopts a proud, controlled expression befitting her station. You approach her and bring your finger up to her chin, but don’t say anything.

“And what would you have of me tonight, pet?” She asks.

“Oh, none of that ‘pet’ business. Not tonight. Tonight, I shall hold the reins.”

Alcina raises her eyebrows defiantly.

“And am I to call you Mistress?”

“No. I wouldn’t dare to borrow your titles. Luci is just fine. Besides, if I do my job properly, words will soon fail you.”

You remove your finger from her chin and bring the back of your hand to her cheek.

“Now, let’s play a little game. You will do everything in your power to not touch me. It would be silly of me to try and restrain you using the usual implements, but your own willpower? Surely a composed and refined woman like yourself will have no trouble with this. Of course, if you do touch me, well. Then you will be punished.” You explain.

Alcina looks at you with a playful disdain.

“Is that all?”

You back away and remove your top. You do this slowly. After all, you’re unwrapping a gift. You bring your hand down to your left breast and dig your claws into the flesh.

“The challenge lies in the fact that I can touch as much as I want. I can do anything I like and you just have to sit there and take it.”

“Not much of a challenge if you’re all the way over there.” Alcina croons in a little sing-song, confident as ever.

You sigh and get closer, shaking your head. So cocky, but you know it’s a ruse to hide her nerves. You carefully unbutton her blouse. You slide your fingers beneath the fabric of her bra and pinch the nipple. You give her a small gasp of surprise.

Then you retract your touch and part her clothed legs. You slide yourself down her frame and settle between her legs, up against the brewing warmth.

You take one of her hands and kiss the palm before taking one of the fingers into your mouth and sucking. You can hear her pull in a quick breath. Excellent. She does like a show, doesn’t she?  

You cast your gaze up at her and hum against her digit with wet little sounds to punctuate the visual. She’s not looking! You can feel an evil laugh bubble up your throat. Is it too much to watch you? So soon? You press into the crevice of her thighs and bring her other hand to your sternum, daring her to dip it lower. She doesn’t take the bait, but no matter. You have many tricks up your sleeve.

You release her finger with a pop.

“My lady, won’t you remove your pants for me?” You murmur in your sweetest, most innocuous voice.

“Demands weren’t part of the game.” She reminds you. You can hear a gentle strain in her voice.  

“Too difficult for you, Your Majesty?”

Yes, playing into her ego is a good choice. She clears her throat and you stand back to give her the space to disrobe. She unclothes completely, which is not exactly what you asked for. You plan to reward her impudence with utter torture.

“Well, go on.” She says. She does not resume her sitting position.

You barely have to lean down to access her cunt when she’s standing at her full height. You bring yourself right up to the warm flesh and ghost your tongue over the heat. You can see her hand twitch with those fabulous ears of yours.

You take a taste and you make sure she knows how much you love it. You whimper into the mound, sending tantalizing vibrations into her core. Then you begin your work in earnest, suckling and nibbling. She crosses her arms and you can barely stifle a laugh. She quickly uncrosses them.

“Does something amuse you?” She growls.

You come up for air with a seductive gasp and don your most coquettish disposition.

“Why, no, My Lady. Of course not. Won’t you sit and be comfortable while I service you?” You ask with an overly sweet bat of your eyelids. You’re remembering her own words and using them against her.

She takes a seat and widens her legs to give you access. Her jaw is set in a determined expression. It ignites a vicious, predatory instinct in you, but you do not dare to reveal it. Supple and sweet. Needy. That’s what Alcina likes, isn’t it? Then that’s what she’ll get.

You let out a long, breathy sigh and bring your fingers to your own growing heat. You take care to touch yourself frantically, your haphazard motions painting a picture of your lust for her greedy gaze.

“Oh, I can’t wait. I need you.” You murmur. 

You practically pounce onto her leg and grind against the flesh of her thigh. So scandalously wet. It doesn’t take much for you and you know how this fact drives her wild.

“Oh, Countess Dimitrescu. J’ai besoin de toi.” You groan. You do want her.

She’s used this trick on you before and you’ve done your research for this encounter. Ah, the inherent eroticism of a foreign Romance language.

“J'aime quand tu me regardes comme ça.”

She was trying not to look, but being told so directly that you love the way she looks at you makes a marked dent in her conviction, and she caves. She looks at you. A miscalculation on her part because now she can’t look away.

You bring one hand to your lower lip and the other to her leg to give you more leverage, rubbing yourself on her with fervor. Her eyes are almost glowing with a hungry, acid-yellow intensity.

“Baise-moi fort, Alcina!”

You hear her claws extend, ripping into the mattress she’s holding so tightly to. Alcina does not seem to notice, or if she does, she’s ignoring it.

You bounce your hips on her thigh and honestly, this is starting to get to you too. The friction. Delicious friction.

“Oh! Alcina! I’m going to—”

Before you can finish your statement you feel her powerful grip on your torso. You’re flung to the bed. Thankfully, Alcina remembered to retract her claws first.

She dives on top of you and plunges her fingers into your core. You let out an unrestrained cry of pleasure.

“Fuck you hard? I’ll fucking break you!” She snarls.

Her thick fingers practically tear you open, but your dripping center engulfs them gratefully. She violently flips you onto your stomach without missing a thrust and slaps your ass hard.

“Hateful! Slut!” She thunders.

You would delight in the fact that you’ve broken her resolve, but you can’t form a whole sentence in your mind. Every couple of words is immediately shattered by a smack. The skin of your rear burns.

You feel the pressure rise inside of you and your pleasure climbs as high as you dare. Then you remember that you can come whenever you want. You’re in control this time. You come hard and your juices spill all over her hand.

She slows her movements and you laugh an ominous, chilling laugh.

“You lose.” You rasp.

You quickly turn to see her face and oh, the satisfaction is divine. Her eyebrows are furrowed over wide, shocked eyes. Her mouth hangs open and she’s panting a little. The realization of what she’s done is setting in.

“And that means…you will be punished.” You announce as valiantly as you can considering the circumstances.

You pull yourself up and then roll off the bed into standing.

“Do try harder this time, Countess Dimitrescu.” You tease.

She turns to watch you move from the bed to the light switch. She seems caught between anger and lust. Perfect. You shut off the lights and darkness envelops the room. You can see even better than before, but Alcina? She’s blind as a bat. How the tables have turned.

True, you’re already working on borrowed time after an orgasm like that, but as they say, the show must go on. You watch her straining her eyes in the darkness. She grins. Good. She’s having fun.

“I think if you fail again, I’ll take a page out of your book and you’ll have to take over all my chores.” You drawl.

Alcina says nothing. She simple sits on the bed and waits, resetting her carefully controlled exterior as much as she can. Time to test it.

You move in closer as quietly as you can and let out a high-pitched whine.

“You’ve made me so wet, Mommy.” You whisper.

Her head snaps in your direction, but you move to another spot just as quickly.

“I want to feel your tongue on every inch of me before you have your way with me.”

She doesn’t look this time, but you see her swallow hard. After all, though you've had some relief, she's done nothing but ache this whole time. 

“I love it when you use me, Mommy. Do you like my pretty pussy?”

You don’t often use that word, if ever, but it has the intended effect. Soft and supple. That’s what she likes.

“Yes.” Alcina whispers.

“I want to be your good girl and help you win the game, but..I can’t help it. I can’t stop touching myself when I know how much you want me.”

You bring your fingers to your slit and wow. Ok. You’re so sensitive and the sight of Alcina burning with desire in the dark is potent. You’re already ready for her to take you again. But you have to focus. Eyes on the prize. But wait. You can have it all.

“If you put your fingers up for me, I’ll fuck myself, and you can still win.” You say innocently.

She complies a little too quickly by straightening the fingers of her left hand and propping the limb up on the bed for you. You move in and climb onto the bed. She can feel that and you see her breath come out in ragged bursts.

You lower your hips onto her firm fingers and let them slide in. Filled again. God. You ride her like this for a few moments and then you hear it. The sweetest sound.

“P—please.” Alcina whispers.

You look into her eyes. So full of longing, Pining for your touch.

“You feel so good, Mommy.” You moan.

“Please, Luci.” She husks.

You stop your movement and lean into her ear.

“Please what?”

Alcina trembles with need.

“Please rail me with your strap.” Alcina whispers.

You practically leap from her hand and race to your suitcase. The harness is there, pre-loaded with her favorite toy in hopeful anticipation. By the time you’ve pulled it on and returned to the bed, she’s already on her back, legs spread wide. You climb between them and touch the tip of the huge plastic cock to her sex.

She whimpers! The thrill of it sends you into a storm of lust.

“You want that? Tell Daddy how badly you want it.” You growl.

You hope the title passes muster, but right now neither of you can think of anything too thoroughly.  

“I want you to fill me up so badly...Daddy.”

The world rocks around you. Oh. Ok. OK. You can feel yourself leaking slick down your thigh. So, that’s a thing.

“Just fuck m—Mmmmm!”

You slide the shaft in with no resistance, enchanted by how her demand quickly transforms into a wanton moan. Then you pull back and slam back in. The sounds coming out of Alcina are throaty and deep. You give her another pound and she falls back against the bed.

“That’s it, baby.”

You do as she’s begged and rail her thoroughly. The harness presses up against your clit.

You feel her powerful walls clench around the toy and thrust with everything you have.

Oh. Oh fuck.

“Luci, I’m—”

She comes and the mess of it sends you over the edge too. You grunt loudly, completely involuntarily, and slump against her belly. For a few moments, you both just pant in the dark, completely satiated and spent.

Then you feel her laugh beneath you. It’s gentle and undeniably happy.

“Daddy, huh?” She muses.

“It just slipped out.”

“If that’s what you’re into, then it’s fine by me. It was pretty hot, actually.” Alcina admits.

You pull the toy out of her, wriggle out of the harness, and toss it to the floor. Then you crawl up onto her chest.

“Yeah. It was.”

“I suppose I just never thought about it for a woman.”

“Gender’s fluid.” You explain. You make a mental note to explain this concept further when you have the energy.

You rest on top of her for a while and then finally roll onto the bed and snuggle up beside her. You take a little nap, completely content to just be with her for a bit.

After a time, your mind wanders and you think of Aaron and his wife. Yeah, you’re cherishing every minute. Every minute with Alcina is essential. It is the food that your soul requires to stay alive. Your thoughts drift to food. People. You’ve been leaving the hunting to the girls, but it seems like even Alcina doesn’t ever want to hunt anymore. You wonder if it’s age or boredom. You can’t speak for her though.

“Alcina?”

“Yes, love?”

“I don’t want to kill people anymore.”

She props herself up on her elbows to get a better look at you.

“Where is this coming from?”

“I don’t know. The man in the village and his sick wife. Then Aaron. I met him outside after cards and he was telling me about his dead wife. People have enough to deal with and I don’t want to add more burdens to the world.” You explain.

Alcina sighs.

“We have to eat though, my love, and you know it has to be humans.”

“I know. Listen, I’m not asking you to do anything. I just want to try something different.”

Alcina rolls onto her side to face you and runs her hand over your stomach idly.

“Alright, darling. We’ll figure something out.”

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

You’re in the meeting hall of the Lords back in Romania. The world around you is hazy, but your mind doesn’t register this. Such is the nature of dreams. You are in a state of acceptance.

You walk. Each step is strange and rippling. The chair for Alcina. The bench for Heisenberg. Donna’s seat. Then, the podium. Mother Miranda’s podium. The moonlight shines through the broken wall at the back of the huge room.

You run your hand over the wood of Miranda’s podium and then dig your claws in deep. Fuck Mother Miranda.

“Well, little one, you’re far from home now.”

You snap your head towards the sound behind you, but your neck can’t stretch far enough to see. It doesn’t matter though. You know who it is.

“Tell me, girl, how long have you dreamed of me?” Miranda says darkly.

Your voice acts on its own.

“Forever.” You whisper.

“I know.”

Miranda approaches you in that silent, gliding way. She reaches her long arms around your body and runs her fingers across your chest. You release a shaky breath.

“Just a sick little thing. That’s all you are and all you will ever be. Isn’t that right?”

“Yes.” You whisper.

Mother Miranda turns you around to face her and plants a series of slow, cruel kisses down your neck. Each one leaving a burning bruise.

“And you’re just pretending with Alcina. Playing a role you don’t even understand. But I understand. I know the real you, Luci.” She assures you.

Miranda places her hand on your throat and leaves her fingers slack. The moonlight dances off of her unmasked face. She is beautiful. Her skin glistens with an inhuman hue.

“You are the kind of person who’s too weak to stay and too cowardly to leave. You are the kind of person who bleeds at the slightest provocation. You’re always one bad day away from ruining the lives of everyone around you because you are what?”

“Selfish.”

Miranda grips your throat now and squeezes. The world rocks around you and your vision swims.

“You’re worse than that. Destructive. Be honest. You want those military men to come back. You want them to kill you so that you don’t have to face the responsibility of being loved. Or do you want them to kill your wife and her daughters? That way you can keep running without guilt.”

You can’t draw breath to answer. Miranda smiles and throws you to the ground. You land on your side and then roll onto your back. Tears don’t come. You feel nothing. Nothing at all.

You suck a breath into your burning lungs and look up at Mother Miranda. She takes a step towards you and places her boot on your chest.

“This is what you’re meant for. Being on your back.” She purrs. You swallow thickly.

The nothingness inside of you is replaced with a smoldering lust. A want. A need to be filled with something, anything. It’s an old, familiar burning.

Miranda brings the tip of her boot to the apex of your thighs and presses. You whimper as pleasure radiates from the touch. Sweet agony.

“You don’t know how to love someone and you don’t know how to be loved. You only know how to be used. That’s the only thing vermin like you could ever understand.” Miranda sneers.

You lie there, under her boot, squirming. Your consciousness drifts in and out, but you are aware, slipping into that place where you can watch yourself from afar.

You watch yourself sit up and crawl on all fours to Miranda’s legs. You grasp at her robes, begging to be saved. Saved from what? You don’t even know. The gnawing emptiness, perhaps. The fear of never being enough.

Miranda leans down and takes your face in her golden-clawed hand.

“I know how you like it. Hard and rough.” Miranda says sweetly.

She pulls you from your knees and engulfs your lips in a harsh kiss. She bites your lips as she pushes you up against the podium. Blood fills your mouth and Miranda presses her knee into your clothed sex. Your body betrays you, lapping up the attention.

Miranda tears at your pants, ripping them open to access the wetness that has pooled at your core.

“Look at you. Disgusting.” She snarls.

She brings her claws up to your clit and presses. It’s wildly painful, but you moan loudly. Your head falls back, gaze on the moon behind you. Powerless. Pathetic.

Miranda fucks you roughly against the podium. Your hips crash into its corner. Bruises, bruises, broken blood vessels. Your eyes are unfocused, empty. Strained grunts and groans leave your lips over and over again. A mixture of pleasure and pain. Better than the nothingness. Better than the burden of love, right?

“No!” You scream.

Then you open your eyes. You’re on the ship. Alcina is beside you. Her hand is on your stomach and her eyes are full of concern. There are tears in your eyes. You quickly wipe them, but they replace themselves even faster. You can’t compose yourself. The dream summoned up all the old ghosts and you can’t pull them back into their cages.

“Luci, are you alright?”

You look freeze, feeling entirely vulnerable. Exposed. You can’t stop crying, but you want to, need to. You can’t let anyone see you this way. No one. Not even Alcina. You’re too—

“Darling, please. Look at me.” She whispers.

You do. Half mad and desperate to bury your emotions, you fling yourself at her.  

“Luci are—”

“I need you, Alcina.” You rasp.

You climb on top of her and plant frantic kisses on her chest. You feel like a knot tied impossibly tight. You need to forget Miranda. You need to forget a lot of things. You need to reset yourself.

Alcina studies your face quickly then flips you back onto the bed and moves on top of you. Always careful not to crush you. She’s so considerate. Always so considerate. She holds your wrists above your head, but only to keep you from grasping at her for a moment.

“Darling, talk to me.”

You shake your head. You kick your legs fruitlessly and fight her powerful grip.

“I can’t.”

Alcina shakes her head. Her hair bounces gently against her face in the darkness.

“You promised, love.” She reminds you.

You writhe under her gaze. Your skin feels like it’s burning. You probably look insane, but the thought of her seeing you so vulnerable like this has made you that way. You can’t bear it, the thought of truly being seen.

You don’t want to talk, but the better part of you knows that you have to. You can’t just expect Alcina to fuck the pain away whenever it pleases you. That’s not how relationships work. That’s why you’ve always run from them in the end.

But not this time. No. Not this time. You chose to be here. You love her. She loves you. Surely if anyone in the world were allowed to see beyond the curtain of your carefully constructed mask, Alcina would be the one.

“I’m scared, Alcina.” You whisper.

“Of what, my love?”

“Of hurting you.”

Tears well up in your eyes and threaten to fall again. Alcina leans down and kisses you gently on the forehead.

“Do you want to hurt me?” She asks.

“No! Never.”

“My sweet love, then we’ll be fine.” Alcina assures you.

You shake your head.

“You don’t get it. I’m too—too fucked up.” You sputter.

Tears fall freely again. Alcina wipes them away. You look up at her. She’s still positioned above you, like a huge shield between you and the world. It’s not you that needs protecting though. It’s her. You’re the real monster, after all.

All Alcina has ever known is the show you put on. The horrifying mess beneath it is not fit for her beautiful gaze. You work so hard to put on a good performance. You have to. The only thing beneath it is wretched, awful little you. The real you. Right?

“You don’t get it, Alcina! I’m awful. Selfish. Destructive. I’ve been so good. I’ve been so good, but I can’t keep it up forever. You’re going to see! You’re going to see me!” You sputter.

It’s mildly incoherent, childish even. Such is the nature of deep wounds.  

“Darling. Luci. Listen to me. I—"

“I just feel like I can’t—I can’t control it. I want to be good. I want to be better, but I’m just a sick—”

You stop yourself before you finish the statement, the same one Miranda threw at you in the dream. You dissolve into tears completely. Alcina strokes your face and your hair. It’s impressive how she’s basically holding a plank position above you for an extended period without showing any effort and her majesty calms you a little.

You quiet your crying, but the tempest inside you is far from stilled. The storm of insecurity rages on in you, ripping you up, and making you feel like a tiny sailboat among tidal waves.

“Can you—can you please?” You whisper, spreading your legs and craning your neck.

You open yourself to her, begging her to release you from the tension, begging her to be close. Alcina kisses you first on the forehead, then on the lips.

“We should talk, darling. First.” Alcina calmly insists. She lowers herself back to the bed beside you, but she keeps one hand on your leg.

You bite your lip, brow furrowed in pain. You pull your limbs into your chest and roll to your side away from her, but you speak.

“I’m sorry, Alcina.” You whisper.

“For what?”

“For being…”

You’re not sure how to end that sentence. For being too much? For being difficult? For being yourself?

“I love you, Luci.” Alcina whispers.

“I just wish I were as strong as you are.” You whisper.

Alcina lets out a wry laugh.

“Strong perhaps, but not nearly as alive, my love. You are passionate and yes, you may feel too deeply, but I’m here to ground you.”

“You deserve someone who does more for you.” You whisper.

“You do enough. I promise. It’s not about that anyway, love. It’s not about what you do. It’s who you are and I love you.”

“You don’t know who I am.”

The sadness is rising again, rearing its awful face in the darkness. Alcina sits up forcefully and takes your hand, pulling you up as well. She holds that hand tightly and looks at you with such a fierce expression you’re almost afraid that you’ve angered her.

“Stop this at once. Enough. You are stressed, my darling, but your mind is playing awful tricks on you. You are a breath of sweet, morning air in a blight. You drive the rot from my heart. You once talked about how you were dead before you came to my castle and I have realized that I was the same!” Alcina declares.

“You think you don’t do anything for me? You think so little of yourself? I told you that you were exceptional. Do you think me to be of poor taste?” She asks.

You shake your head. Of course not.

“Then trust in me. Darling, I see you. I have seen you. You are a, indeed, a charming player, but I know you as you are.”

Your stomach knots at the thought, but she’s quick to follow up.

“And I love you. I know you struggle and I know you hurt. One day you’ll share it with me, but I’m here until you do. Of course, I love your charming façade, but I know the woman beneath it and I love her. Do you know that? Do you know that I love you?”  

You bring your fingers to her face and touch the skin so, so gently. Her face is mesmerizing to you, even after all these years. You press your forehead into her cheek.

Alcina pulls you into her arms and rocks you gently. You press into her torso and though you still feel very small, unmasked by the dream, you settle in.

You don’t have words right now, but you hope the gesture is enough. You are afraid. Yes. You are afraid of being powerless and of being weak. You are afraid that you will repeat the same patterns you have repeated all your life. You are afraid of being truly seen. What is it about traveling that forcefully reacquaints us with ourselves?

“I love you too.” You whisper.

It’s a simple declaration, but one you mean so deeply. When everything else in the world is gone, the love you share with Alcina will sustain you. Let the world rail against your door. You have this. Let the rest burn.

A knock at the door startles you both. Your ears probe the room and reach past the wood of the door to see who might be there. A familiar buzzing.

“It’s the girls.” You say gently.

Alright. Let the world burn, but do spare them. You kiss Alcina once more and then get up, quickly throwing a robe around yourself.

You open the door and Bela, Cassandra, and Daniela are huddled together outside of it.

 “We’re c—cold.” Bela says softly.

You open the door wide enough for them to enter. Thankfully, Alcina’s decent. She does love a nightgown.

“They’re cold.” You announce.

Alcina smiles and sighs.

“Come on, then.”

Alcina gets up from the bed and fishes a handful of the little heat holders out of her suitcase she brought for the girls. She passes them out.

“We wanted to—” Daniella half-whines.

“I know, my darlings, but Luci and I need a quick shower.” Alcina says gently. The girls eye the bed and refrain from climbing under the covers.

Alcina pulls you into the bathroom and turns on the hot water. You’re much calmer now. The storm has passed.

“Are you alright?” Alcina asks, testing the water with her fingers.

“Yeah. I’m ok.” You say softly.

Conscious of the girls outside, you’re hesitant to say more, but you also feel like you weren’t making much sense earlier, so you take a deep breath and pull yourself together.

“I have a fear…of being, I don’t know, caught unaware. A fear of being candid. That sounds insane, but I don’t know. I feel so composed and controlled all the time. I can’t let anything slip out and that dream. I dreamt of Miranda.”

Alcina pauses and looks at you.

“And she was saying all these horrible things to me, things I feel deep inside, but I know they’re not real. I’m just sick. My life made me sick and I just want to keep that sickness inside of me. I can’t let it out. I used to…hurt myself before. Drugs. Women…Razorblades.” You whisper.

Alcina watches you quietly, letting you speak, and seeing you. You are seen.

“And it was all so fucked up.  I just couldn’t stop. It was like there was this hole in me, a jagged, ripped-up hole. And I just had to fill it or the screaming wouldn’t stop. And one day I just decided it was enough. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I cleaned myself up…”

The steam from the shower starts wafting over the curtain. She parts it and you shuck off your robe to climb in. You leave some of the curtain open. She can see you now, so you might as well let her.

“But then that hole just kept begging me for more. I thought it was going to consume me, so I ran away. I got a ticket to Romania. It was one way. I really didn’t plan on going back. I just wanted to find a quiet place to die.”

The water rushes over you and you stare at the drain.

“But then I didn’t. I found something worth living for and I don’t want to die anymore.”

Alcina slips out of her clothes and joins you in the shower. It’s comically small for her, but neither of you care. She brings you into her arms.

“I love you.” She says gently.

You press into her.

“I don’t want to rip a hole in your life too, but I get so scared that I won’t have a choice.” You admit.

Alcina brings her hand to your hair and strokes it.

“What do I do when that emptiness swallows me up?”

She leans down to kiss you.

“Then I’ll find you.”

You look up at her and kiss the spot on her hip where your face rests. You kiss her again and reach up to run your fingers over her flesh. She leans down and hoists you up, pressing you into the wall. Your eyes meet and you find that being seen by her is not the world-ending event you thought it would be.

Your legs wrap around her and your back rests on the shower wall. She traces her fingers over your skin. It once held scars, but the Cadou took them away all those years ago.

“I meant what I said about being half-dead when you found me. I didn’t realize it then, but I was frozen to my core, spiraling slowly into decay. You brought me back. And even if you were to disappear from me right now…” Alcina stops, a little choked up.

“I don’t want to.” You whisper.

You bring your hands to her face and hold her cheeks. She swallows her emotions and continues.

“You would still have given me the greatest gift I could have ever received.”

You kiss her and she kisses you back. Then she pulls away.

“I wish I could take all of that pain away from you.” She whispers. Tears pool in her eyes now.

“I know, but you can’t. It’s a part of me. Old, infected wounds.”

“We both have them, darling. It’s part of life. Perhaps one day they won’t sting so.” Alcina says.

“I know.”

You lean in and plant a kiss on her neck, then look up at her with lustful, lidded eyes. You crave the intimacy of her touch. The thought that Miranda was the last person inside you twists your guts.

You smirk a little bit.

“We did talk. Do I get a reward?”

Alcina huffs a little, but it’s mostly a laugh. You’ve both spent enough time in the dark. It’s time to get back to business. Back to the show. Admittedly, it’s a comfortable place for you both and it doesn’t negate your closeness. The masks we wear are not lies. They are simply vacations from our traumas.

“I did say we were going to play games on our cruise, didn’t I?” Alcina purrs.

Your sex is pressed up against her abs. You squirm against her torso, practically locked in place by her firm body, but with enough wiggle room to start the party.

“Mmm. I do love that heat between your legs, but this probably isn’t the best time for a proper game. I suppose we’ll have to improvise. The girls are waiting, after all. So, keep quiet. Now, let’s see.” Alcina suggests, shifting into her usual imperious air.

She gives your hips a little more room to move and waits. You lick your lips and grind against her torso ever so slowly, leaving a long line of slick. She moves to prop you up with one arm and uses the other to bring your winged arms above your head.

You wrap your long toes around her back and sink your claws into the flesh. She gasps a little and you grind harder. The friction is good, but it’s not what you want. Still. Her abs are delicious and coating them in your juices is a rush all its own. You want her to know what she does to you.

“Good girl. You’re so good for me.” Alcina hums.

You press your clit into her skin as hard as you can. Your hips start to shake with the effort and your own abs start to burn. Your backside bumps against the shower wall and you’re certain that the people in the adjacent room would certainly hear the thumping.

“You can’t come like this, can you?” Alcina says with a little pout.

You buck your hips in frustration growing more frantic. The arm holding you up brings you into her embrace and she leans down to suck on your neck. It’s not the same as when she used to feed on you, but you bite back a moan all the same.

To give yourself away just for a little while. To be claimed by her is everything.

You whisper into her ear with a breathy, overly feminine tone.

“Won’t you put your fingers inside my pussy, Mommy? Pretty please?”

Alcina’s grip on your wrists and back tightens to bruising. She’s so easy to rile when you know the tricks.

“Do you think you can hold onto the wall?” She asks huskily.

You nod and she flips you over. God, how she handles you with ease. You sink all of your talons into the wall and spread your legs wide for her, climbing high enough to have your head at her eye-level.

She runs her hands down your back and then brings them around to your nipples, tweaking them. You shiver.

“I do love your little tits.” She growls.

“They’re yours, Mommy. All of me.” You whisper.

She presses her own breasts into you and they nearly swallow your back. Smothered in her flesh, in her scent. The water pours down from the shower, warming you both.

Finally, she slips a finger into your sex and draws a long line from the back and ending on your clit. Little circles that make you sigh.

“Are you Mommy’s good girl? Hm?”

You whimper. She loves it when you whimper like that. Her breath hitches in your ear and she pinches your nipple harder.

“My favorite. My little rabbit.” Alcina whispers.

She lazily slides her fingers into your cunt and you bite your lip hard to keep from screaming. Your claws and talons sink even deeper into the tile of the wall.

“So tight. Tch. Goodness.”

She gently pumps her thick fingers in and out. You can feel yourself cresting on a wave of pleasure already and your head falls back onto her shoulder. You kiss her neck. She doubles her speed, thrusting you higher and higher into the stars.

You moan as quietly as you can into the curve of her neck, latching onto the flesh and sucking. You feel her buck her hips beneath you.

“Give me your mouth.” She husks.

You turn your face to the wall and her free hand flies from your breast to your lips, clamping down. You do need to be quiet after all. She pounds into you and you shake hard from the force of your orgasm. You start to lose your grip on the wall and go limp, but she catches you easily and lowers you back onto the ground.

You lean against her, panting.

“Thank you.” You whisper.

“Do you think we were quiet enough?” She asks a little nervously.

A few pieces of the tile fall off the wall and onto the floor of the shower. You hope you won't have to pay for that. 

“Probably not. They have headphones though.” You murmur.

“And we’re on vacation,” Alcina says with an air of finality.

The water starts to go cold and you both climb out once the essentials are clean. You can wash your hair tomorrow.

You both dry off and realize that your suitcases are still in the main room. You wrap yourself in a towel and open the bathroom door a crack. The girls are all passed out on the bed, huddled up, and covered in the heat holders.

You sneak out and grab clothes for both you and Alcina. Back in the bathroom, Alcina is leaning against the vanity.

“I know I say it all the time, but I really do love you so much.” She says.

You hand her a fresh nightgown.

“I love you too, Alcina. Really. Even when I’m upset like that. You really are the only one for me.”

“And you for me, Luci.”

You kiss once more, a chaste, loving thing. Then you finally venture out into the main room once more.

“Alright, changelings, move over.” You say loudly.

Bela opens her eyes immediately and does her best to make room. Cassandra rolls over, which isn’t very helpful, but shows some effort. Daniela is dead to the world.

Alcina claps her hands.

“Daughters!”

They all snap up. Alcina climbs into the middle of the bed and you slide in next to her. Bela nuzzles into her mother’s other side. Cassandra finds her place beside you. Daniela looks a little unsure of where to go, but Alcina pats her stomach and she climbs on.

Soon, all five of you are asleep.

Sleeping is strange when you’re practically undead. It’s a choice, really, not a necessity. It’s just nice to rest though and let yourself be. Though it’s difficult to keep your mind from wandering to darker things, the comfort of being surrounded by family wraps you in a protective warmth.

When you finally wake properly, the girls are all on their phones sprawled out on the bed. You shake off your rest and stretch. Alcina’s not there.

“Where’s your mother?” You drawl lazily.

“She wanted to sunbathe.” Bela reports.

“Why are you guys still here?”

“She told us to watch you.” Cassandra says.

You roll your eyes.

“That’s not what she said, Cassie. Mama said you might have nightmares, so she wanted us to wake you up if you made any weird noises.” Daniela corrects her.

Ok. That’s actually a little sweet.

“Well, did I?” You ask.

“You do snore pretty bad.” Daniela says with a laugh.

You purse your lips.

“Well, I’m going to get dressed and find—”

Daniela interrupts you with a loud squeal. She cradles her phone close and you can hear the faint sound of a man’s voice. Must be a video message from Mateo. He’s a sweet boy.

You can’t help but smile a little. You grab some clothes from your suitcase and slink into the bathroom to get dressed. You pull on some pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Ugh. In this weather, you’re going to bake, but what choice do you have?

Your mind wanders to your dream about Miranda. It seems your mind has decided that she speaks for your inner turmoil now. Great. You sigh.

You take a moment in the bathroom mirror and sigh again. You know Miranda was wrong. You’re not pretending. You love Alcina and you love the girls. Your habit may be to run when things get too intense and you remember fleeing the microscope of love and intimacy many times before.

Things are easier when no one is looking too closely at you. Things were easier back in Romania, between the pages of a fairy tale. Coming back to the real world has been difficult. And perhaps a part of you stayed delusional through the first few years of Spain. You revel in fantasy.

Your eyes stare back at you. Even with your new body, you’re still you underneath it. It’s kind of funny that it took you a while to adjust to your monstrous form back then. Doesn’t the inside match the outside now? You screw up your face into a hideous, snarling grin. Then you let the expression fall.

So many things have happened in your life. You’ve been the hero and the villain. What are you now? The lover? The dutiful wife? A parent? A creature?

“Just Luci.” You say softly. Just Luci now.

Once you’re dressed and presentable, you return to the room. The girls have gone save for Daniela who’s laid out on the bed with her phone.

“Cassie and Bela went off to play, but I’m going to stay here if that’s ok.” Dani says.

You shrug.

“Sure. I’m going to go up to the deck and see your Mother.”

Dani sits up a little bit and smiles at you.

“You really love her, don’t you?” She asks.

You give her a half-smile.

“I do.”

“She really loves you too, you know?” Dani says.

You nod. It seems kind of silly to keep insisting on it. You’re married after all. Of course you love each other. But it’s also not that simple. Every day is a choice, a series of choices to keep loving and keep living. Fuck the voice in your head that tells you otherwise. Fuck Mother Miranda and her stupid bullshit. Even if you’ve been a piece of shit all your life, today can be different. Today can always be different.

That’s one of the best things about life, isn’t it? Yes, though it can also be the worst.

“I know.” You say softly.

“I know I’ve already asked, but how do you know?” Dani says softly.

You ponder this for a moment.

“Because she makes me want to live. Because she makes me want to be better.” You say finally.

Dani nods.

“I think I really love him. Mateo, I mean. He makes me want to do crazy things, Luci. Like, I can’t explain it. I feel like, I’m changing somehow and it’s scary but also thrilling. I don’t know.”

You sit down on the bed and smile.

“Dani, I do think you may be in love.”

She giggles and bites her lip.

“He isn’t scared of my flies. He actually likes them. And he’s so sweet. So, so sweet. Sometimes we talk about going to university together. He said he can help me and he wants to get an apartment.”

You laugh.

“That’s great, Dani. That’s really great.”

“I’ve never been away from Mother and my sisters though.” Dani says sadly.

You lean over and take her hand.

“We’ll never be far from you, but it’s ok to want a life of your own. You’ll just have to visit all the time.”

Dani grins.

“Then you’ll tell Mama?”

“I—uh—”

Dani squeals with joy and throws her arms around you. Then she bounces off the bed and heads for the door.

“I’ll tell Bela and Cassie you said yes!”

Before you can stop her, she’s out the door. You scowl, but you can’t help but smile. It’s nice to see Dani so happy. Looks like you need to break the news to Alcina though.

Things change and things stay the same. Your family is growing and everyone will need to adapt.

You hop into your wheelchair and make sure you’re ready to blend in, then you wheel yourself out of the room and up to the deck of the ship. If Alcina is sunbathing, then she’s likely near the pool.

The sun is so bright. You almost hiss as it hits you in full force. Thankfully, Alcina is soaking up the sun next to a wide umbrella. She’s laid out on a towel which makes sense because the lounge chairs are all comically small in comparison to her.

She’s wearing a red bathing suit that accentuates her luxurious hips with a large sunhat. You are instantly reminded that Alcina is always a sumptuous feast for the eyes.

“Enjoying the sunshine, my love?” You ask affectionately.

Alcina smiles at the sound of your voice, but doesn’t open her eyes.

“It’s been ages since I was able to soak it up like this. I didn’t want to wake you though. I expect this is not an activity you much appreciate.”

You chuckle.

“You are correct about that. I’ve never had a taste for it though, even before.”

Alcina opens her eyes and sits up. She’d fit right in on the cover of Vogue.

“Why, Countess Dimitrescu!” A voice calls from the other side of the pool. It’s Aaron.

He’s dressed in linen slacks and a matching button-up shirt. The shirt hangs open to reveal a muscled chest. The depth of his tan compliments the white of his beard.

“Mr. Thyme! How lovely to see you again.” Alcina calls back.

He walks over to join you with a warm smile. Then he gives you both a slight bow and holds out his hand to Alcina.

“I do hope you’ll forgive me for tipping the scales in the favor of your lovely wife last night.” He says to Alcina, taking her hand and giving it a gentlemanly kiss.

“Oh, not at all. Even in defeat, I dare say I achieved a victory.” Alcina says huskily.

“Very good, then. Can I get you ladies something to drink? I’m heading over to the bar now and I don’t mind in the least.” He offers.

“A Bloody Mary should do well for me. Darling?” Alcina asks.

You don’t usually drink. You like to keep your head about you at all times, but why not? This is a vacation. It’s time to embrace it. It’s time to soak up the sun.

“I think I’ll have the same.” You say.

“Excellent. I won’t be a moment.” Aaron says with a smile.

Once he’s gone, you turn to Alcina.

“My dear, I do think you have an admirer.”

“Only one?” She says with a mock pout.

You laugh.

“How foolish of me. It’s clear that among the rabble, you are the only creature worth of admiration.”

“Oh, please. If they could see you as I do, then you’d steal the spotlight in a heartbeat, my amorous Apollo.”

You smile.

“Even if I raised the sun on a golden chariot, the hearts of the people will always be with the fair Aphrodite.”

Alcina laughs and it’s a melodic, lovely sound.

“Such a flirt. But tell me, my love, are you feeling better?” Alcina asks gently.

“I am. Oh, and Dani’s –”

You hear the gunshot before you feel it. It pierces your throat and black, thick blood pours out and onto your lap. You gasp for breath and throw yourself to the ground, gurgling. Alcina is on her feet in an instant, claws out and a snarl on her lips.

People scream. Your hat falls from your head and you crawl towards your wife, but you’re listening. Where did the shot come from? You start to feel dizzy and then your consciousness slips in and out. What kind of bullet was…?

You feel yourself being picked up and cradled against a powerful, impenetrable chest as other travelers race around in a panic. You close your eyes and open your ears, sketching the scene in your mind. Where is the sniper?

Then you hear the beating of great wings. Metal wings. A helicopter in the distance coming this way. They found you. They found you.

“It’s ok. You’re ok. You’re ok. I’m here.” Alcina assures you in a hurried, strained voice.

Panic quickly transforms to rage. You hear more shots, but they don’t have an effect on the woman protecting you. She glances around, looking for her next move, then she sees something that makes her falter for a moment. You listen with pinpoint accuracy, even with the pain in your throat. The bullet wound is healing quickly.

A man wearing boots and thick armor has just come to the deck, holding something. Ice? A block of ice? No. No, not ice.

“Give me my daughter!” Alcina snarls.

“Bioweapon secured. Dragon on deck and is hostile. Screamer is wounded.” The man says into his radio.

Alcina lets out a piercing screech and you can hear the pain in it. The sunlight is too bright for you to see the military man or what he’s holding, but you can piece together that it must be one of the girls.

The helicopter has arrived and a woman leans out of the side door with a megaphone.

“This is the BSAA. Everyone remain calm and clear the deck!” She shouts.

Your throat has healed now, but you’re afraid to leave the safety of Alcina’s bulletproof arms. You are not bulletproof, not at all, though you seem to heal much faster than your last encounter.

Bullets rain down from the helicopter on Alcina’s back, she barely notices. Her attention is entirely focused on the man with her daughter. He speaks.

“Alright mama, come quietly and I won’t shatter her into a million pieces!” He shouts.

Alcina’s grip on you tightens to bruising.

“Let. Her. GO.” She snarls. You can feel her body ripple around you. She’s barely containing the dragon within her.

“Get them, my love.” You whisper.

Then you push yourself out of her arms and into the air. Your wings rip the fabric of your shirt and you dive for the man holding Alcina’s daughter, your daughter.

You’re much faster than he can react and you tackle him to the ground. Alcina is right there with you and she catches the half-frozen Bela.

You hold the man down by his arms. He tries to kick up and out of your grip, but you slam him into the deck. The force of it splinters the wood below and you snap your jaw at him. Even though you said you didn’t want to kill people anymore, this man is certainly an exception. You slam him down again and tear one of his arms clean off, throwing it off the side of the ship. He screams in agony.

“We need to get out of here.” Alcina snaps.

“M-mother?” Bela whispers.

You take to the sky again, knowing that staying in one place for too long will catch the sniper’s attention. You still don’t know where they are. You scan the ship. There’s movement below the deck, loud, frantic movement. Too complicated to search through and you don’t have the time. Fuck.

You dive back down to the deck. Where are the other girls? You need to get them and—

You hear furious, frightening buzzing join you on the deck. In the heat of the sun, they’re at their full power. Excellent. Now you just need to get out of here.

You see Daniela and Cassandra materialize next to Alcina. Bullets rain down on them from the helicopter. Daniela and Cassandra turn and glare up at the Gatling gun on the helicopter. They dissolve into a huge, angry swarm and ascend to the aircraft.

The huge, smoking Gatling gun does nothing to slow them down and soon the windows of the helicopter are painted red. It lurches and shakes. It’s going to come down.

“Alcina!” You howl.

 You go to her and take Bela from her arms, then race to the bar for cover. Bela is cold, so cold. You dive behind the wood and try to use your body to warm her.

“L—Luci.” She murmurs.

“Shhh, shh. You’re alright now.” You assure her.

Your ears scan the area around you and you finally notice the bodies. Human bodies broken and shredded by bullets. Aaron’s linen pants stained red with hot blood gone cold now. You shake with rage, but there’s no time to process. No time to mourn yet.

The helicopter descends on the ship and Alcina’s form twists and grows into its full size. The giant metal beast crashes into the draconic one and she roars with effort to hold it back. Her back claws dig into the ship and the deck creaks beneath their combined weight. With one huge heave, she thrusts the helicopter back into the air and away from the ship. It plunges into the ocean.

You can’t help but feel a swell of pride and awe. What an incredible woman.

Alcina joins you and Bela. Cassandra and Daniela join soon after. The five of you pant and for a moment.

“Why am I always the one who—?”

“Don’t talk, Bela.” Alcina croons in the gravelly voice of her dragon form.

She places a claw on her stomach and you all huddle around her to warm Bela up as much as you can. Color starts to return to her.

You shut your eyes and listen. Speedboats. Three of them and they’re coming fast.

“More are coming.” You report.

Alcina rumbles with a warning.

“Stay with Bela.” You snap.

Then you take off for the sound. Cassandra and Daniela follow you. You watch as the speedboats carve a path in the ocean towards the ship.

“One for each of us. Be careful. I don’t know what they did to Bela.” You say.

The girls buzz affirmatively. Then you all shoot towards the approaching enemies. There are two people on each boat. A bullet zooms past your ear. There’s the sniper. How did he get such a clean shot from so far away before? Impossible to know.

You flap harder, picking up a dizzying speed, and launch yourself for the middle boat. There’s a man at the front, bearded and eyes as hard as a wolf’s. You throw your powerful legs in front of you to rip him to shreds. He glares at you, unflinching and when your talons are in range, he grabs you by the ankle and swings you into the water. You thrash and kick. How? How did he—?

You feel something pierce your leg and then everything goes black.

You wake to a horrible, penetrating sound. It pierces your every thought. Every feeling. You can feel it in your skin you try to cover your ears, but it doesn’t help very much. The agony is all-encompassing and whatever that horrible sound is, it’s scrambling your echolocation.

You try to open your eyes to see where you are, but the light pierces too. You try to scream, but your mouth is held shut by a series of straps. Muzzled and blinded.

Your arms are free, but you can barely move them. Your body feels like lead. You gather your limbs as close as you can to your body and shiver.

Where is Alcina? Where are the girls? Where are you? All questions with no answers. So, you wait. There is nothing else to do.

Hours pass. Days maybe. You have no idea. There is nothing but the maddening sound, the piercing light, and your screaming mind. Sometimes your thoughts are louder than the sound. Sometimes the pain in your heart is even louder than that.

Where are they? Where are they?

The sound ends suddenly, but your skull still rings. Your body still feels heavy, but you try to stand. You stumble and fall.

“Stay where you are.” A voice says. It’s scratchy. Must be an intercom.

You can’t move anyway so you just lay there. Are you going to die? No. They would have killed you already. You consider that your fate may be worse than death. Where is Alcina? Where are the girls?

You hear the sliding of a large door on a pneumatic mechanism. Footsteps.

“Get her into the transport.” A voice says. It’s in the room.

Rough, gloved hands pull you up and throw you into a large cage. It’s small enough that you have to hunch over, but large enough to accommodate you. A door slams shut. You’re trapped. You feel the box move and you start to stir. This is it. You need to figure out where you are. You need to find them. You need to find them.

Ok. Smart. Play it smart. Wait for your chance. You relax your body as much as you can and listen. Long hallways stretch around you. Footsteps. Human. The soft rustle of cotton fabrics. Coats. Lab coats.

You are wheeled down one of the long hallways. You hear beeping. Authentication. A door slides open.

“Put her with the male.” One of the voices says.

How many people are with you? Two? Three? There’s a gun. You can smell the metal. Oil. The box you’re in is wheeled further and then it stops. You hear whoever is moving you lock the castors on the wheels. Then the footsteps recede.

With every passing moment, your echolocation is returning. They may not be anticipating that. You don’t know how much they know about you. You stay very still and you listen.

There’s someone in here with you. Heaving, strained breath. A cough.

“You my new…cellmate?”

That voice. You know that voice. That irritating, braggadocios voice. You never thought you would ever hear it again. It feels impossible. It can’t possibly be real, but you know beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s Heisenberg.

Chapter Text

Heisenberg! How? Impossible. You want to speak, but you can barely open your mouth with the muzzle on. Frustration ripples through your hunched form.

“Not much…of a talker?” He says.

His voice is strained, painful. He starts to come in clearer and even without your eyes on him directly, he is a grisly sight. His right ear is missing. His hair is caked with blood. There are chunks, entire chunks, missing from his legs. A mixture of old scars and fresh wounds.

“That’s alright. I love…a good listener.” He wheezes.

Remembering how powerful Heisenberg was, it’s harrowing to see him like this. What did they do to him? What are they going to do to you? Alcina? The girls? Your breath picks up and the world starts to close in.

“Easy, there, kid. Don’t wanna…suck the air out of the room. Just breathe.” Heisenberg says gently.

You wonder if he recognizes you, but he can’t see you, so you suppose he can’t. You can’t imagine why he’s being so kind, so gentle, but perhaps being on the edge of death changes people. You sorely miss his bastardly affectation. His cocky confidence would be welcome at a time like this.

Still, you need to get out of here. You test the door with your foot. It’s tightly locked. You strain against your muzzle. It’s just a few leather straps. You snake your long tongue out of your mouth as far as it will go and push the straps in every direction until it hurts. The leather slips! Your arms are still so heavy, but they’re getting lighter with every passing second.

You summon up every ounce of effort you have and bring your claws to your face, then you rip. Some of your face is slashed, but the muzzle falls off.

“Heisenberg!” You shout.

“No way! Baby Bat!” He shouts back.

Your ears pick up a hitching of his breath. Tears, perhaps. You can’t imagine how long he has suffered.

“Where are we?” You hiss.

“No idea. I haven’t seen the sun in long, long time. Some kind of lab for the BSAA.” He answers.

He sounds livelier than he did a few moments ago. There’s a newfound power in his voice. Hope, perhaps.

“We have to get out of here. Can’t you open my cage? With your metal—”

“Nope. They’ve got me stuck to a fucking magnet.” He says.

You stare at the door to your cage. A criss-cross of metal wiring. You reposition yourself and kick. It’s stuck fast and every movement is still a huge effort. They must have dosed you with something. Fuck. You kick again, but it’s not doing much. Think. Think!

Eventually whatever they gave you will wear off, which means that someone will have to dose you again, or that you’ll be able to break out. Either way, you just need some time. That being said, you have no idea where Alcina and the girls are. You remember the pieces missing from Heisenburg and rage courses through you. If those fucking bastards lay one fucking finger on your family you’ll make them wish they were never born. They’ll beg you to kill them.

You also review the moments before your blackout. That man with eyes like a wolf. He handled you easily. Whoever he was, he will likely be a problem. Then there was the sniper. The other motor boat probably held that woman from before, from that night in Romania. The memories make your skin crawl.  These are the same people from before. Perhaps the man that took you down was the Alpha. Damn.

“Have you seen anyone else here? Anything we should watch out for?” You ask. If you have to wait to recover, then you might as well make the most of your time.

“No, not that I’ve seen. Moreau’s long dead. No idea what happened to Donna either. Same with that bitch Miranda. Tell me…was my dear sister with you?”

“She was. She and the girls. We were attacked all at once on a ship. Family vacation.” You explain.

“Well, if I know anything about Alcina, I know she’s probably ripping up everything in her path to get to you. She’s a stubborn one.” He says with a little laugh.

“And Donna. She escaped with us back in Romania. Lived with us for a time. She left though, to travel. I hope she’s alright. If they found us we can only assume…”

Your voice breaks. Imagining sweet Donna trapped here in the lab makes your heart twist. She’s too gentle for this. Then again, you think back to your strange threesome with her and wonder if she’s really as meek as you thought. No matter. Nothing to be done right now except recover. You’ll search the place. Find her if she’s here. Find your family if they’re here. Hopefully not though.

You flex your fingers. There’s more feeling now. That’s good.

“I’m glad the psycho doll made it out. She was always the best of all of us. So sweet. Almost childlike. Even with that irritating little gremlin she carried around, Donna never said a word in anger. Would never hurt a fly. I can’t imagine her traveling though. She wasn’t exactly the adventurous type.” Heisenberg says quietly.

You snort.

“I don’t know about that, man. She seemed pretty adventurous to me.” You say quietly.

“Not the Donna I knew. Maybe all that bloodshed changed her. I hate to think of it though. Is nothing fucking sacred?” He spits.

“Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe we just knew different sides of her. I can almost move my hands properly and then I can—”

You’re stopped short by a voice over an intercom.

“No talking!” It snaps.

A door slides open and several pairs of feet enter the room. Two sets with boots and one with a softer shoe. Must be two guards and one of the lab coats.

Your eyes are screwed shut, but you can see one of the soldiers approach your cage.

“She’s got the muzzle off. Go get another one. One of the steel ones.” The soldier barks.

He then puts something into his ears. The lab coat does the same. Probably to protect them if you decide to scream.

You hear one set of boots leave the room. The soft-shoed person approaches Heisenberg.

“And how is my tin man today? Chatty. Not for long, I think.”

The soldier at your cage has a large syringe in one of his hands. He reaches it through the bars, but you’re pressed up against the back. He can’t reach and the realization annoys him.

“I’m going to have to open it. Stand back, doctor.” He says.

The lab coat moves to the control panel on the large magnet and clicks a few of the buttons.

“You should wait for Pierson to get back.” The doctor says.

“Nah. If I can handle the dragon bitch, I can handle this one.” The soldier replies.

Alcina. She’s here! Your heart strains against your chest. No. No!

The soldier moves to unlatch the cage and you coil every muscle in your body as tightly as you can. This is your moment. Make or break.

He takes a deep breath and unlatches it. You lunge and though you’re not nearly as quick or strong as usual, it’s more than enough to send the soldier flying back. You tear at his face until there’s nothing left. You drink the blood he spurts and then you turn to the lab coat, revitalized and healed completely.  

He’s frozen in fear, but he quickly regains his composure and runs for the door. Whether he’s trying to sound an alarm or just escape, it doesn’t matter. He can’t get anywhere without legs and you are quick to slice them off. He screams, but you quickly silence him with a stomp of your heel.

Then you turn to Heisenberg.

“The other will be back soon. How do I get you off of this?” You ask, rushing to the control panel.

There are buttons, a little display screen, and a large red lever with a key in the lock.

“Why are you helping me?” Heisenberg says quietly.

Your ears trace his face, his broken body. He reminds you of his own horrible metal soldiers from back then. A mish-mosh of scraps and flesh.

“I tried to kill you. I would have too.” He says.

You make a lucky guess and turn the key on the control panel. Then you press the button. The magnet turns off and Heisenberg hits the floor.

Maybe another person would have deemed him unworthy of your help. Maybe you should leave him there. You can’t though. He’s a bastard through and through, but maybe, in another life, he could have been family.

“Get up. Can you walk?”

He looks up at you and smirks.

“I could run a fucking marathon.” He says.

It takes a little help from you, but he makes it to his feet. He flexes his hands and all the little metal bits on tables nearby rise and fall.

“We need to get going. Find Alcina. They’ll sound the alarm—”

Heisenberg isn’t able to finish his sentence as his words are confirmed. The soldier who went to get you a new muzzle has returned. He stands on the other side of the glass, terrified. He turns to run, but Heisenberg is quick. He sends every metal bit in the room through the large glass window, shattering it, and then piercing the man so thoroughly he looks like a human pin cushion.

“Let’s go!” You snarl.

Heisenberg is slower than you, but you keep looking back to make sure he’s with you as you race down the corridor. Cameras. There are cameras. You fly up and rip them down. They must know you’ve escaped. No matter. Let them come. You are hungry. Ready to feast on their flesh and more.

Heisenberg lingers at some of the glass windows, checking them. You keep an ear out for soldiers or other scientists. Any sign of life. No alarm sounds and that somehow feels more unsettling than anything.

You continue down another long corridor, desperate to find your family. Heisenberg shuffles behind you. He has the soldier’s guns hovering around him. You rip cameras down as you go. Where is everyone?

Then you stop at one of the windows. A black dress. No veil though. Donna!

“Heisenberg!” You shout.

He hurries over and you punch straight through the glass. You don’t need the door. Donna’s eyes light up in shock when she sees you.

Donna is unchained and uncaged. She’s sitting in the middle of a room on a little wooden chair. Just sitting. You leap over the wall to her and pull her into your arms.

“Donna, are you ok? Are you hurt? Can you walk?” You ask hurriedly.

You pull back and check her over for wounds. You find none. She blinks at you, seemingly dazed.

“Luci…What are you doing here?” She asks.

“They found us, but we’re getting out of here. Come on!”

Donna seems hesitant to follow you, but you pull her out of the seat. Heisenberg waves.

“Hey, little lady.” He says.

Donna regards him strangely.

“Karl? You look awful.”

“Yeah, well. It’s good to see you again.” He says gently.

Donna nods. The three of you stand in the hallway, looking from left to right, unsure where to go. You find it odd that Donna is so strangely calm. Rather than grateful, she almost seems confused, calculating even. Then you realize.

“Wait. Where’s Angie?” You ask.

“She’s…not here. They took her.” Donna says.

Her voice is as even keel as ever. You’d think she’d be more distraught, but hey, everyone reacts to trauma differently. Whatever. You don’t have time to think about it. You need to find Alcina!

You start to move down one of the corridors, but you realize neither of them are following you. You turn. You don’t have time for this! What are they waiting for?

“You fucking bitch.” Heisenberg growls.

Both of his guns are pointed at Donna.

“What are you talking about? Luci, I’m scared.” Donna says. She doesn’t sound all that scared. More like she making a joke.

“How dare you. How dare you wear her face!” Heisenberg snarls.

“Tch. Oh, Karl. I’m surprised that you survived getting hit with a car, but here we are. I suppose the jig is up.”  Donna says.

Her voice sounds different. Amused, perhaps. Your stomach churns. No.

“Alcina, her daughters, and her little pet were all too stupid to figure it out, but you were always my favorite, clever little boy.” Donna says. No. Not Donna.

A low rumble that starts as a growl quickly grows into a peal of hysterical laughter from Heisenberg.

“All those fucking tests. All those fucking days and nights of pure fucking agony. All of it was worth it! All of it! Because now I get to finish what I started! I get to kill you!” Heisenberg cries.

He sounds unhinged. You hear a burst of half-mad laughter leave your throat too. That’s not Donna. It was never Donna, was it? Flashes of memories tear through your mind. How did he know how to drive that car that saved you? She never did talk about herself much during your tea time, did she?

You recall the sick, twisted pleasure she watched you with while Alcina fucked you hard. You remember her eyes, so penetrating. The unease you felt after the fact. All of it dismissed. Dismissed because you didn’t know better.

“Patience, Karl. I have plans and, as much as I love you, I can’t let you interrupt me.” Miranda says, finally dropping the act entirely.

You watch in horror as Donna’s form melts away and Miranda shows herself at last. Black tendrils erupt from her robes and pin Heisenberg to the wall. He struggles, but he’s weak. The guns fall to the floor with a clatter.

You fall to your knees. Why? Why? How could she? Why?

WHY?” You screech. It’s all you can say. You may vomit.

Miranda turns, her face pulled into a cruel smile. It’s a smile you know. You didn’t know then, but now it all makes sense. Wasn’t it odd that Donna’s hallucinogenic power never showed itself in all your time together? Not even when she came.

You vomit a mix of blood and stomach acid.

“I should thank you, dear Luci. You kept me safe while the megamycete and I regenerated. Then, all I had to do was find the BSAA and thankfully, they found me.”

Heisenberg trembles with rage. He wants to kill her, but he’s afraid. You’re afraid too. You might vomit again.

“How did you…Angie? How?” You whisper.

“Oh, that was easy. After all, the late Lady Beneviento is inside me. Creating her little puppet was no challenge.”

Your skin feels too tight. You start to breathe in loud, heaving breaths. The walls spin.

“WHY?” You screech again. You can’t fathom this. It’s too much.

“Why? Oh, sweet Luci. Why did I hide behind Donna’s face? Why did I save you? Or are you wondering why I wormed my way into your bed? You know, Bela was my favorite. So, sweet. So delicious. Her little crush. The sounds she made. I can hear them, even now. I only bothered with you and Alcina because I wanted the whole set. It’s good to have hobbies.” Miranda explains.

Your consciousness swims. The walls close in. You can feel something inside of you shatter. You scream. The violation. You feel tainted, like you’ll never be clean again.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years, it’s that people believe whatever you tell them. It’s not always a matter of what they want or don’t want. They’ll accept whatever is in front of them without too much hassle. You certainly made my job easy by not asking too many questions.” Miranda drawls.

You have no witty retort for any of this. You open your mouth to say something, but you just scream.

You feel a powerful grip on your throat and you realize that you’re being choked, lifted into the air by one of Miranda’s long, black tendrils.

“Silence! Now, I was hoping little Rose would show up here eventually, but you’ve ruined that now, and I’m afraid that can’t go unpunished.”

The tendril chokes you tighter. The threat at hand is never the one you think it is. It’s always something worse.

“But not to worry. I’ll find her. Surely they’ll have—”

A loud bang splits the air. You’re knocked back by the force of it. Gunshots. Another bang. The heat of flames.

You hit the ground and the pain brings you back to the moment. You need to get out of here! The danger is greater than you initially thought. You need to hurry. Your legs carry you quickly down the hall and your ears scan everything for signs of your family.

Please. Please let them be ok.

You come to the end of the corridor and a large metal door. You bang on it fruitlessly. You don’t even know where you are and the chaos you’ve just escaped is getting louder. You want to cry, but honestly, you don’t have the time. You just wanted to go on a vacation with your family.

You slide to the floor, then get back up. No! You have to keep going!

Then the door dents. Something is coming. You listen as hard as you can with your ears, but they cannot penetrate the steel. You take a few steps back, but then you see the familiar length of a razor-sharp claw tear through the steel like paper. Buzzing quickly engulfs you.

Alcina breaks down the door and stands before you. Not Aphrodite at all. Not even Demeter. Aries in female form. A force of nature. A mountain made from flesh.

She is covered in blood head to toe and her bathing suit is mostly destroyed. You leap up into her arms and burst into tears. The girls buzz around you. You didn’t have to find them after all. They found you.

“Let’s go home.” Alcina thunders. You kiss her blood-soaked cheeks.

She begins to make her way towards the direction of the fighting, but you hop down and stop her.

“No! Not that way. Heisenberg. Miranda!”

“What?”

“Donna! No. Not Donna. Miranda! Miranda the whole time!” You cry.

Realization spreads through Alcina and her daughters like a sickening wildfire. Bela’s face is the most heartbreaking of all.

“We can’t go back.” Alcina says.

Another explosion rocks the hallway. The whole room tilts. Are you on a ship? You must be. That means there’s a deck and where there’s a deck, there’s the open sky.

“We need to go up!” You shout. Everyone nods. There will be time to process everything later. You’ll make sure there is.

Alcina looks at the ceiling and grows into her dragon form. She lunges at it, tearing it open. You all fly after her. You have no idea how many floors there are on this ship, but you’ll make it out. You have to.

Alcina works to tear through the next ceiling, but it’s much more difficult. You try to help her. Your claws are just as sharp after all. Whatever is in this room is well-protected. You consider finding another way up, but then the floor above you gives. Alcina gives it another huge blow and it cracks open. The five of you move into the room.

Toys. A crib. This is a child’s room. Your ears scan it. No one is here. Good. You press on.

Finally, after what feels like hours, Alcina breaks into the deck. You all race out into the sunlight. Freedom! You’ve made it! Wait!

Bullets zoom towards you, but Alcina is quick to stand in their way. The girls buzz around you in one large, furious storm of flies.

“Chris!”

It’s a woman’s voice. You hear the crying of a child. 

“Get Rose out of here!” A man shouts.

There’s sound all around you. Helicopters. Speedboats. What the fuck is this place? You feel caught in the middle of something you don’t understand. You want to go home.

Boots and rifles approach from all sides. You just want to go home.

Then a huge, horrible lurching sound shakes the floor beneath you. Black, horrible tendrils rip through the deck almost like a tree’s roots. The mad laughter of Miranda splits the air and you hear her emerge into the light.

You can’t handle this. It’s too much. You want to vomit again, to run.

“How convenient! You’ve led me right to her!” Miranda cries.

She’s not the Miranda you’re familiar with. She’s wilder with larger wings and blacked-out eyes. Long, clawed hands. A monster among monsters.

The man called “Chris” unloads clip after clip into her, but it does nothing. She descends on him, picking him up and launching him into the ocean below.

The woman holding the child screams.

“You can’t have her!”

Miranda laughs and her form twists and shifts until she looks exactly like the woman, then transforms back into her monstrous form. Ever the dramatic.

“Mia, Mia, Mia. Once you’re gone, she won’t even know the difference.” Miranda sneers.

“She’s not your daughter!”

“She will be! And I will love her more than you could ever imagine!” Miranda cries.

Her long claws raise, ready to strike.

The child wails. You’ve never been able to stand a child crying. The sound does something to you, something primal. It pierces directly into your soul and you launch yourself for Miranda. You feel Alcina’s arm raise as if to stop you, but you’re so fast.

You don’t strike Miranda though. She’s faster and she turns to catch you before you make contact. The pain is immense. Why did you do that? You don’t even know this woman or her child. Why did you do that? You’re no hero.

You cough, thick black blood falls from your lips and you slowly realize how exactly Miranda caught you. You look down and you can see those claws disappearing into your chest. Oh.

Miranda cocks her head at you. Her black eyes glitter with amusement.

“Did you think you would stop me?”

“You…”

You feel your hands and legs harden. They fall away like sand. Your eyes close and you hear Alcina screaming behind you. The sound starts to fade. The bottom of your torso falls away, crumbling into ashes or dust. You don’t know.

You’re dying. For real this time. You can feel it. Life is slowly leaving you.

Miranda says something. Alcina is screaming. Mia is screaming. The child…

Darkness engulfs you. A familiar darkness. You’ve been here before.

You drift until you hear the beating of wings. The bat. The king of bats. The beast, the one you know so well, finds you and you fall into their wings. Red, hot blood spills from one wing into your mouth and you slip through the vision, falling deeper and deeper into the darkness.

You spread your wings, the wings of the Bat King, and find they are strong. You soar, reveling in your power, embracing it. It’s not a challenge like last time, but a reunion.

You feel so many things as your sense of self becomes permeable. So many emotions, but the strongest is rage. Betrayal. White-hot anger that reaches far beyond your own. The anger of many.

Villagers who prayed and begged for their goddess to save and protect them. Their bitterness. Railing against the deception of their goddess. They all spread out in a circle around you, faceless, held together only by their grudge.

They chant furious words, urgent and haunting. Rising with bloodlust and passion.

“Great ones, hear our voice. Together as one in blasphemy! We call on thee within the endless dark to deliver her into fate’s hands. As the blood-red moon descends on white wings so we demand our sacrifice and await the vengeance at the end! In life and in death! We revile the name! Mother Miranda!”

You pass through the circle of their bodies and watch as their skin sloughs off with your fall, leaving only skeletal remains. Their hurt pricks your heart. Bringing tears to your eyes. The injustice. The careless cruelty.

You keep falling until you hit the ocean. It swallows you in its vast, salty tears. A huge, finned creature swirls around you. Knocking you back and forth. Even with your powerful wings, you cannot stop it.

“Mother!” It cries.

“Why Mother? Why did you leave me? Leave me to die?” It howls.

Moreau. You use your wings to guide yourself through the waters and find him, hulking and shuddering. A sea of endless tears and loneliness. Abandoned by the only thing he ever loved. You weep for him and his many glowing eyes watch you in a mixture of surprise and fascination.

You know what it is to need a mother who does not care for you. You know what it is to be lonely. You reach out and hold the giant sea monster. Your heart is open and he feels it.

He plucks a scale from his back and gives it to you. You accept it gratefully and eat. Lead only by instinct. The scale nourishes you and reminds you of the kindness of strangers. 

You spread your wings once more and he catapults you into the sky above the waves.

Darkness again. Swirling around you. Then, a scent. Sweet and floral. You find an island and touch down on its grassy shore. Hundreds of little figures. The glow of your body makes their glassy eyes light up. Unlike the hate of the villagers and the sorrow of Moreau, you find only peace here.

You hear the soft, warm laugh of a woman behind you and you turn.

Donna.

The real Donna stands before you, whole and unmarred by Mirada’s evil experiments. A child stands on either side of her, each one holding one of her hands.

You rush to her, your bat form melting away long enough for a warm embrace.

“Do not weep for me.” Donna whispers.

“I’m sorry.” Is all you can choke out.

“My family is here. Angela and Claudia.” Donna says with a smile.

She must mean the children. Angie, no longer a doll, puts her hand in yours.

“You showed us kindness and so, you must take this with you.” Donna says.

You feel a warm cape fall onto your shoulders. You are reminded of the kindness of friends. 

“But now you must go.”

The world around you shifts again and it’s as if gravity has reversed. You fall into the sky. Speed takes you and once again, anger fills your consciousness. Steel and iron. The hiss of steam.

You shoot between the mechanisms of a powerful machine. Thunderous hooves gallop around you.

You float in the darkness and see a giant metal horse rear back and snort. You glide to it and the heat is overpowering.

Heisenberg didn’t survive Miranda after all.

He lowers his head and the golden gear on his face beckons you. You take it and all of Heisenberg’s pain is now your own. Wasted potential. Righteous indignation. The pain of a powerful creature trapped and subjugated. Bridled against his will.

Your chest tightens in anger and despair for him. Your heart has broken so many times, but this one hurts the deepest. You know what it is to be trapped under cruel expectations. You want so badly for him to be freed. The gear you hold reminds you of justice. 

You fall again, but this time, you land on the floor of a dark forest. The world seems to solidify. Wherever you are, this is the heart.

The forest is quiet. Eerily quiet. And you? You’re just a child. Just a scared little girl. The gifts are gone, but perhaps they're inside you now. You don't know. You run. 

Your eyes, the ones you were born with, dart through the trees. Your bare feet lead you through the brush. You’re so scared. All alone. You’ve always been scared, haven’t you?

No one to protect you. No one to care whether you live or die. Not really. You remember what it was like to be a child with no one to look after you. Even though you had parents, they didn’t keep a good eye on you. Often left to your own devices, weren’t you?

You scamper across the forest floor. Whispers emerge from the darkness. Snatches of movement. You scurry scurry scurry. Always underfoot. Always in the way. Locked in your bedroom while the party carried on downstairs. Forgotten, weren’t you? How dare they miss you now. How dare your mother miss you now when all she ever wanted was for you to disappear!

You had to find love elsewhere, but you didn’t really find love, did you?

“No, you didn’t.”

You wheel around and fall back, scrambling away. Is it Miranda again? Haunting your dreams? No.

“You found grasping hands and leering gazes. You found hungry, hungry monsters in the dark. All sorts of mouths ready to swallow you. You found pleasure, which was like love, but how would you even know what love felt like? You didn’t know then.”

It’s you. Your face. Your hands. You feel so small at your doppelganger glares you down.

"And because you didn't know you didn't give any back. The world had forsaken you and you returned the favor in kind. You didn't know what love was, did you?"

She takes a few steps towards you and though you think she will strike you, she doesn’t. She offers you her hand.

“But you know now.”

You take your own hand and pull yourself up. You do know now. You know what love is. You found it and it’s grown in you. That light which pushes everything else away. Healing light.

“And you’re so alive.”

You feel yourself transform back into the powerful visage of the Bat King and spread your wings wide. The beast and the woman. The pain and pleasure. The hate and love. Embrace. You become whole again. The sum of everything you are. Solid and whole.

“She’s waiting.”

You blink and you’re there. She’s there. Face to face with Mother Miranda. Like the others, you feel the very depths of her soul.

You reach through the madness, the desperate, feral viciousness. You push past the cruelty and the paranoia. You dive all the way to her center. She tries to stop you, to push you out, but you are strengthened by the lives you’ve felt. Their anger and hurt begs you to rip your way through Miranda’s heart, but you don’t.

You feel her pain. Ancient and impossibly deep. Her loneliness. The agony of losing her child. Enough to bring her to the brink of death. So full of anguish. Your heart breaks again. The voices behind you urge you to kill. Revenge. Revenge. Revenge!

And how satisfying would it be to rend and shred every person who did you wrong? Every sin repaid in blood? Retribution for the years of suffering. Miranda deserves it. She must pay the price! 

No.

No more.

Violence begets violence. Hatred only breeds more of itself. You're tired of the cycle. It's gotten you nowhere and you know better now. 

“Let it end, Miranda.” You whisper.

Loss is an impossible burden. Grief. It is something that cannot be explained. Not in poetry or in song. Grief is only ever felt and through its feeling, you find its truth. You know grief. Too well, perhaps, though not in the same way. No matter its casing, grief always stings with that special kind of swallowing darkness.

“I can’t! My Eva!” Miranda howls.

You reach out to her. Monster to monster. Woman to woman. You don’t understand her entirely and you don’t need to. You don’t need to understand her to show her love in this moment and you know that is what she needs. It is what you needed back then.

And maybe you shouldn’t. How could you love someone who did something so, so cruel? Who violated you and betrayed so many? Who trapped and tortured? Who killed? How could you show compassion to such a monstrous creature? You don’t know. But you do it anyway.

Maybe Alcina didn’t understand what kind of monster you were before you showed up at her castle. Maybe you weren’t a monster at all, but you certainly thought you were. All your life, you believed you were a wretched, awful thing. Sick and twisted. Cold and aloof. Spitting the face of kindness. Taking advantage wherever you could.

Alcina didn’t know what kind of person you were before. And sure, maybe you aren’t a manic cult leader who ruined the lives of hundreds of people. Sure. Whatever. You’re not here to judge. That’s not your job. That’s not who you are. Do what feels right and let God sort out the rest. Miranda said it herself, and for all her delusions, she was right about that.

You embrace Miranda and as soon as you do, colors and voices rush around you. Shouting and screaming and howling. Anger and sorrow. Grief. All of it. You close your eyes and you listen.

There, at the deepest point of the darkness, just out of reach, is a little girl. Faded by time. Faceless and crying in the dark. You see her and for the first time, so does Miranda.

Sometimes, in all our frantic need to control our lives and fix everything, we miss that which is right in front of us. All who die in its wake return to the megamycete. Even back then.

You feel Miranda’s heart leap at the girl. Eva. She lets go.

For a moment, the entirety of the megamycete’s consciousness hangs in midair. It’s kind of funny. You thought that your greatest desire was to check out and die, but you reach out and take hold of that vast consciousness. You choose to live at last. There's love in the world and there's love in you. You're going to start a new cycle. You're going to heal. 

Then your eyes open. A gasping breath. The heat of the sun. You are holding a child. Rose.

You stumble forward half-formed out of the mold, but protect the child from the fall. You’re back on the ship. You’re alive.

No one moves for a moment. Everyone is too stunned. You’re the first.

You get up, cradling the toddler, and turn to Mia.

“Here. Take her.” You say softly.

Mia takes Rose from your arms and you turn. Alcina! Alcina! Bela! Cassandra! Daniela! They’re there. Their eyes are red from sobbing, but they rush to you. As you reach out to embrace Alcina, you realize you no longer have your bat-like webbing. Your eyes take in the world normally again. You feel human, but you know you’re not. You’re also naked, but that’s not important right now.

“My darling. My love. My Luci. We thought you were—"

“Chris don’t!” Mia shouts.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

Your hand flies out and the bullets stop in midair. You let them fall. Then you turn to the gunman fully and six huge wings, feathered this time, erupt from your back.

You feel the power of all the Lords inside of you. You are now the Mother of the megamycete. The caretaker of all its souls.

You rise on your new wings and hold your hands out.

“We have no fight with you! Let us go in peace and we will not trouble you.” You say. Your voice echoes with the power of the ages.

Chris Redfield does not want to let you go, but Mia puts her hand on his arm. You don’t know where Ethan Winters is, but you hope he is alright.

Chris lowers his gun. You turn back to your family.

“Let’s go home.”

Chapter Text

It’s a sunny morning in the Spanish villa that you share with Alcina Dimitrescu and her daughters. You’re sitting at the dining room table staring at a glass bottle of blood. Freely given. An arrangement that suits you well. You saved the life of a woman in the town. You found her cancer. In exchange, the son will give you blood. How strange the world is. How strange indeed.

“What have you got there, my love?” Alcina asks.

She lingers in the doorway. A signature move of hers.

“A smoothie.” You say with a laugh.

She doesn’t get the joke, but not all jokes are for the audience.

“Containing?” She asks.

“It’s blood, love. And it’s for you.”

You turn to her and hand her the bottle. She raises an eyebrow at you and saunters over.

“Freely given in exchange for saving one of the townsfolk.”

Alcina uncorks the bottle and runs it under her nose. She grimaces.

“Man blood.” She grumbles.

You shrug.

“Ethically sourced.”

Alcina takes another sip and then she clears her throat in slight irritation. She offers you the bottle.

“No thanks. I don’t need it anymore.”

“Really? Do you feel the need to feed at all?”

“No. I guess I just photosynthesize or whatever. I don’t know how it works.” You say with a snort.

“Mold doesn’t photosynthesize, darling.” Alcina says with a laugh.

“Well, I’m not hungry. Not for blood or meat or anything. I seem to sustain myself indefinitely.”

“How fascinating. As always, you are full of surprises.” Alcina says.

You smirk.

Alcina takes another swig of the blood and winces.

“Can’t you get this ethically-sourced nonsense from—”

You quickly stand on your chair and lean into her bust. You’ve gotten quite good at this over the years. Precise. The effect is slightly startling, to have you at eye-level like this.

“A woman? Or, no, I know you what you like. Little blushing virgins. Why do they taste better?”

Alcina looks at you for a moment, almost as if she is surprised you do not know the answer.

“When you are as old as I am, you forget what innocence is. What it is to be clean. Pure. Their blood reminds me.”

You let her words sink in. All the blood you’ve had over the past few years. The flavors never really settled on your tongue. The fear was always the most palpable to you, but then again, you don’t have a sommelier’s palette.

“You don’t have to drink it, Alli.” You say quietly.

She tilts her head to the side, drinking you in.

“I know, darling.”

She lifts the bottle and finishes it. You nod and then lean in to give her a kiss.

“We should get going.” Alcina says gently. 

The girls aren’t in the house tonight. They’re at Dani and Mateo’s apartment. It’s a new development and one that troubles both you and your wife a bit. Still, there’s nothing you can do to stop change.

The only inevitability in life is change. It’s the only one. People say that death and taxes are inevitable too, but you’re not so sure about those. No, the only inevitability you know is change.

Some people rail against it. They dig their heels into the dirt and cling to their petty little lives like they mean something. It’s a waste. You know the only thing to do with change is to accept it. To embrace it and roll with it. That’s how you’ve gotten to where you are. That’s how you thrive.

Alcina is slower to accept change. You suppose that’s the cost of her steadfast, enduring nature. You don’t force it with her; Alcina does everything in her own time and you don’t expect anything. Marriage is about compromise. It’s about support. It’s about being yourself and being together, not necessarily about becoming the same person.

You are glad she’s open to drinking the blood you gave her though. It feels good.

Now, it’s time to take another trip. For this journey, you take a private plane. It’s a lot more expensive, but honestly, you’ve lost your taste for ships. When you and Alcina touch down on the tarmac in New York state, there’s an escort to take you to your hotel. Perhaps The Duke is sorry for the previous incident, even if you don’t think he had a hand in it. The Duke has always been a friendly, highly useful connection. A part of you would rather not know even if he did sell you out to the BSAA, but again, you don’t think he did.

Still. You appreciate the VIP treatment. It’s been a difficult few months. Processing the most recent incident was substantially more involved than the last. After all, Alcina’s daughters were largely spared from the horrible night in Romania. This time, no one was.

Bela was hit the hardest and even now, you catch her drifting out of conversations, eyes fixed on an invisible, waking nightmare. Even Cassandra has her quiet moments. You’re all working through it though, in your own ways, and in your own time.

You are escorted to your hotel in Manhattan. Despite Alcina’s rather startling height, this is New York City. No one even bats an eye. You’ve always liked that about this place. Yes, it can certainly be lonely, but you did miss the thrill of anonymity. Though you were only a bat for a few years, it’s nice to blend in again.

The hotel you’re staying in is nice, luxurious even, and it’s wonderful to watch Alcina’s eyes light up at the marble floors and grandiose architecture. Perhaps this is a sort of homecoming for both of you in a way.

You check-in at the front desk. The penthouse suite is all yours.

“Well, you certainly have excellent taste, my darling.” Alcina says, handing her bags off to the hotel staff to take up to your room.

“Only the best, for you, my love.”

Sadly, before you can enjoy the room or the service, you have a mission to carry out. You have to go back to your apartment and finally purge the past that festers there.

“We’ll be back in a few hours, but if you could send up some champagne and a bit of fruit around, say, 6 o’clock, I’d appreciate it.” You say quietly to the staff member who’s working on getting your bags onto the dolly. You slip him a $100 bill.

“That’s not necessary, ma’am.” He says, handing it back.

“Please. It’s my pleasure.” You say, holding it out again.

The man nods and takes it. You hope it helps. You just want to be kind to people. After soaking up so much pain and suffering from the villagers and Lords, and even Miranda herself, you just want to show love to people however you can. The world is full of so many monsters. Even if you aren’t fighting them directly, you hope small gestures are enough for now.

The ride to the Bronx is quiet for a while. Alcina knows how hard this is going to be. She reaches over and takes your hand, squeezing it gently.

“You know, when my father died, I took it upon myself to go through most of his things. It’s not quite the same to go through your own, but death is heavy in all its forms. I was grateful to have Irina with me then.” Alcina says quietly.

“And I am grateful to have you.”

The large taxi lets you out in front of your old apartment building. How many times have you climbed those stairs? Only one more to go.

When you get to your old door, the spare key is still under the mat. You can’t help but laugh. So wildly irresponsible and yet, so wildly lucky. All at once.

You unlock the door and push it open. It smells dusty. You bite your lip and take a deep breath.

 It’s time to say goodbye.

The apartment is covered in dust. There are a handful of dead plants in the window. It’s like a time capsule. You could never imagine that you would come back here like this, not with a wife and a new life to live.

You and Alcina enter the little apartment and walk around. You go to the kitchen. Right there on the counter are a bottle of Xanax and a fifth of vodka. That’s how you planned to celebrate your return all those years ago. It seems impossible to you now that you would plan something so morbid.

You go to the bottles and dump them both into the sink. Tears prick your eyes. You’re so grateful. So grateful. There is so much love and life inside of you now that it pours from your eyes. You take a deep breath. That’s over now. Things changed.

“Darling? Who is this?” Alcina asks from the little living room.

You wipe your eyes and join her. She’s pointing at a framed photo. Arranged around the photo are a few records still in their sleeves and your old guitar. A beat-up Stratocaster with ancient stickers from all the shows you played back in the day.

“That’s my old band.” You say.

You’ve never mentioned it to Alcina. Those people in the photo. Never. Not once. Such a deep source of pain for you.

“They’re real big now. Got a label and everything. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but they fill stadiums these days.” You say quietly.

“What happened?” Alcina asks.

“A lot of things. Just…a lot of things.” You whisper.

Alcina leans down and pulls you into her side.

For a moment, you say nothing. You don’t know how to start. You don’t want to talk about them, but you know that if you ever want to let it all go, then you have to.

“Stephanie was older than me. Bryan was too. I was just a stupid kid with a guitar. The drummer, Gunther, mostly left me alone. I don’t think he ever liked me, but no one could argue with my skills. I played lead and sang a little. Steph was on the bass and Bryan handled the rhythm. And then, of course, lead vocals. Zoe.”

You remember them all. Of course, you do. They were like your family. Shit. They were your family. You were just a runaway kid with absent parents who wanted a rockstar and they needed your talent. And oh, how you gave it to them. You gave them everything. Mind. Body. Soul.

“Zoe was 23. I was 16. I thought I was so, so cool because I had a girlfriend who was so much older than me. I fucking bragged about it. God. It makes me sick to think about it now. And when we went to parties and she shared me? Oh, man. I thought I was just so irresistibly hot. I thought people just liked me. No. That wasn’t it.”

You spit the words. You haven’t said that aloud before. Never. You hold back the tears that so desperately want to fall. You can hear Alcina sniffle above you. You press into the safety of her chest.

“And everybody fucking knew. Steph and Bryan. Even Gunther. No one said anything. No one did anything. They just turned a blind eye. And I knew it was wrong. I knew it, but I was just so desperate for someone to fucking love me that I—”

You can’t continue. The tears won’t let you. It hurts so deeply to finally speak it, to share it. But god, it also feels so good. You speak your deepest pain to the woman you love and she leans down to wrap her arms around you. She holds you so tight. You pull yourself together and continue.

“And then I grew up. I spiraled out of control. I used to get into fights after shows. Drank ‘till I threw up all over the stage. Snorted my way through every fucking prescription I could get my hands on. By the time I was 19, I could barely play through a whole set. They left me in Reno one night, passed out on the floor of a shitty dive bar. I can’t say I blame them. I had to hitchhike all the way back home.”

Alcina doesn’t say anything. She just holds you. You feel a hot tear hit your face. One of hers. You lean up and wipe it away.

“Hey, hey. It’s ok. I have forgiven myself for all that.” You assure her.

“For what? You didn’t do anything wrong.” She whispers.

“I did though. I had to forgive myself. I had to because I made my pain everyone’s problem. I had amends to make and I did my best to make them.” You explain gently.

Alcina leans down and kisses your forehead. Her lips linger there as if she can take the pain away and replace it with love. That’s not really how it works, but you love her for it.

“I wish I could help.” Alcina whispers against your skin.

“Oh, my sweet, sweet darling. Alcina, you do. You listen to me and that’s all I could ever need.” You whisper back.  

Alcina looks down at you and you look up at her.

“Can I kill them?” She asks.

You snort.

“Nah. They’re not worth it, but I love you for asking.”

Fucking Zoe. Fucking Steph and Bryan. Fucking Gunther. How many years did you hang on to that hurt? How many people did you punish instead? You feel as though you’re finally on the other side of the ocean of trauma and abuse. You’re here, safe, and loved. You made it. Gratitude. That’s all you know how to feel right now.

You wipe your eyes and break from Alcina.

“Let me grab a few things and we can get out of here.” You say.

Alcina stares at the framed photo for a moment, then decides to move on with you. The past is the past. Sure, the unprocessed demons are always clawing at us to stay there in the dust with them, but moving on is better. You opened your heart when you needed to and now you can leave. Finally.

“Well, then best hop to it.” Alcina says with a little smile.

You head into your bedroom and gather a few things into an old backpack. Some t-shirts. A ratty hoodie you used to love. You also find a picture of yourself, an old polaroid, of you and your first guitar. You take it. Sure.

Then you pull the backpack on and head back into the living room. You look up at the old Stratocaster on the wall. Yeah, you’ll take that too. You strap the relic to your backpack. Ok. You’re ready.

“Thank you for doing this.” You say gently.

Alcina pets your hair and runs her fingers along your cheek.

“Thank you for inviting me.”

“Alright, let’s blow this old crypt.”

“Luci?”

You stop and turn to Alcina. She’s staring at the front door. You hear the jiggle of the lock. Someone is coming in. You freeze. Should you change faces? How are you going to explain what you’re doing here? Who is it? Even if you could jump out the window and fly off, Alcina would have a much harder time fitting through the tiny windows. Your mind spins with panic. The door opens.

It’s Mark.

No one speaks for a few moments. A thick, powerful silence filled the room. Finally, he speaks.

“What the fuck?”

“Mark I—”

“What the fuck, Luci?” Mark shouts.

He races over to you and grabs you by the collar, pushing you into the wall. Alcina bares her teeth and growls, but Mark’s not looking at her. He slams you into the wall.

“What the fuck! Where the fuck have you been?” He screams.

Alcina moves to stop him.

“Don’t.” You insist.

Mark. He looks the same for the most part, but his hairline is receding. He has laugh lines now. There’s paint on his hands. Then, there are tears in his eyes. He crumples to the floor in front of you, holding your legs.

“You fucking bitch.” He weeps.

You place your hand on his head. You look at your wife. Then tears blur your vision too.

“Mark, I can’t—”

“And who the fuck is this?” He says, finally looking over at Alcina. He starts to get up, collect himself.

“We need to go.” You say to Alcina.

Mark looks from you to your wife and back again.

“Luci, we thought you were dead! Where are you going?” He shouts. God. He sounds so much like your father.

“I’m sorry, Mark. Don’t tell mom.”

You make for the door and Alcina follows after you.

“Don’t do this! You always do this! You always run away and shut me out!”

The tears are back.

“I said I was sorry.” You reply. Your voice is icy. Your heart is closed again.

“You’re sorry? Fuck you, Luci. This is gonna kill mom. You’re finally gonna fucking kill her! Just like you killed dad.” He snarls.

You turn around, rage boiling in your gut. Your great wings threaten to rip through your shirt. Claws beg to be freed. You close your hands into fists and contain your god-like fury.

“Then don’t tell her. She’s better off thinking I’m dead and so were you.” You say icily.

Then you leave the apartment with Alcina close behind. When you exit out into the street, you’re seething. Your feet take you where they will. You just walk. You walk and seethe but Mark isn’t having it this time. He’s not going to let you go. You hear him run up behind you, but Alcina stops him before he can put his hands on you again.

“That’s quite enough, I think.” She warns.

“Don’t fucking touch me, you freak.” Mark snaps.

You wheel around and grab him by the throat. Your eyes glow an acrid, furious yellow.

“Don’t talk to her that way.” You growl.

You lift him by his throat. You could crush it so easily. Your arm shakes with the effort of holding yourself back. A younger Luci would have choked the life out of him right there, but you drop him.

“Your sister is dead. Go back to your life.”

You leave him shaking on the concrete and once again, you walk away. Alcina gives him one last look and follows silently behind you.

After a solid twenty minutes of walking, you fall to your knees and weep. It’s a violent, cathartic thing. Alcina lets you do it. Gives you the space you need to get it all out. People on the street stare, but the look on Alcina’s face has them pick up their paces.

Man, you thought you had evolved beyond this, but there’s just something about family that makes us feel like children. You stagger to your feet.

“It’s not my fault. It’s not my fucking fault.” You whisper.

Alcina moves to comfort you, but you’re too upset to be touched, and you shrink away.

“I hate them all so much! It’s not my fucking fault! Dad was miserable. For years! I didn’t make him that way! I didn’t do that! Fuck! They always fucking do this! Make me feel like a monster! For years. God. Fuck!”

“Luci…”

“It’s not my fault that dad blew his brains out! It’s not my fault! They blame me. But Alcina, I didn’t do that! I didn’t pull the trigger! Do you know how long it took me to realize that? To forgive myself for something I didn’t do? And yet, when I’m presumed dead, they cry and go ‘Oh, she was such a light in our lives’. Fuck them! They don’t get to do that!”

You turn to the nearest object in your vicinity. It’s a wall. The wall of some brick building. You punch it. Hard. So hard that the brick splits. You punch it again and again. A hole appears and your hand goes bloody.

People are starting to stop and stare now, even with Alcina keeping watch.

“Darling, we should go. Come on.” Alcina says gently.

You punch the wall again and she gently takes your bloodied arm. She leads you away from the scene. You’re sobbing. All your old septic wounds are open now and the pus is flowing freely inside you. Making you sick.

After a long while of walking with no real destination, you finally stop and sag against a wooden fence.

“I’m sorry you had to see that.” You say quietly.

“Luci, you have lived a complicated life. You have been mistreated and made to think you are…that you less than you are. But you are amazing. You have suffered all the slings and arrows of this world and you have come out of it kind.”  Alcina says.

She leans down and pulls you into her arms at last and you dig into her chest. You press yourself against her. You love her so much. The contrast between your new family and your old one is striking.

“We all make mistakes, darling. I know that better than anyone. But you’ve blossomed into a beautiful person. You learned. You grew. You didn’t let your pain define you forever. You are incredible and I love you.”

You sniffle. You don’t feel incredible. You feel like shit. You just want to fucking leave. You want to leave all this behind. You did leave this behind. What was the point of dragging all this back out? You take a deep breath. Healing hurts. You know that. This is healing. You released the ghosts. Now they don't have to live inside you anymore. 

“Come on, let’s get out of here.” You say.

“Lead on.”

In your storm of emotions, you had already walked halfway to the place you’re going to now. It’s an old dive bar. Dave’s. The sunlight fades as you walk and by the time you get there, it’s probably already 6. You have champagne and fruit to get back to, but you need to do this first. You’ve got something to purge.

When you get to the steps that lead down into the basement bar, you chuckle at Alcina’s face. She’s trying so hard to conceal her disgust. You take her hand and kiss it.

“We’ll be quick. I promise.”

“No, no. Take your time.” Alcina insists, adjusting her blouse.

You laugh and then you both enter. You’re careful to adjust your facial features just in case you run into any other ghosts. This place hasn’t changed in twenty years. Not since you first visited when you were 16. You auditioned for your old band here. You had sex in the bathroom more times than you can count. You had a lot of good conversations at that bar. Good old Dave’s.

There’s actually a bit of a crowd tonight. It’s an open mic, but you already knew that. Dave's had that mic open every Wednesday night for what? 30 years? Long before your time and it'll continue after you're gone. You put your name on the list and stand at the back with Alcina. This is such a silly, over-dramatic idea. But you want to do it. You need to get this out. You don’t want to leave The Bronx on such a sour note.

“You want a drink?” You ask Alcina over the noise. She shrugs.

“Sure. Should I even bother asking for a wine list?”

You actually cackle at this one.

“I’ll get you a vodka soda.”

You head over to the bar and order. No one recognizes you and it looks like Dave himself has taken the night off. Good.

Alcina drains the drink quickly, but thankfully your name is called. You gave them a fake one. You head up to the little stage and plug that old Stratocaster into the amp that someone left for other people to use. You give it a quick tune and the audience grows restless. Then you finally step up to the mic.

“Hey. Um. So, you all don’t know me, but I used to live around here.” You say. The crowd titters. You laugh a little too.

“But this is my last night here. I know none of you care, but I needed to say goodbye. So, here I am.” You say quietly. Tears threaten to stop you again.

Why are you even doing this? This is so stupid. These people don’t know you and honestly, what difference does it make whether you say goodbye or not? You’re leaving either way and you’re not coming back. Probably not. You’ve had so many emotions today and you want to dive back into yourself, hide, and never come out. You know that’s not going to help but—

A slow clap starts up from the back of the room. Even through the bright stage lights, you know it’s Alcina. Her clapping grows louder until it thunders. Other people start to join in. Soon the room is filled with encouraging applause. A few people whistle.  You can’t help but smile and you nod. Ok.

“I want to dedicate this song to an old friend. She’s had a rough day. So, this one’s for you, Luci. And shoutout to my smoking hot wife back there. I love you. I wouldn’t be here without you. You make me better.”

The crowd lets out a few more whistles and some people “aww”. You feel yourself move into performance mode. You want to give the people a show? So give it. Give it and be proud of it. t’s your job to show your heart, no matter how raw. It’s who you are. No matter what form you’re in, bat or goddess. No matter how old you are, a kid or a woman grown. No matter what happens. It always comes back to this. Telling your story and hoping it helps someone along the way. It helps you too.

And the words? The words aren't exact. They don't need to be. You just need to express and you need someone to listen. The translation isn't as important as the feeling, however brief, of connection. 

You start up the song.  You’ve played it many times before right here on this stage. “Up the Wolves” by The Mountain Goats. It sounds weird on electric, but you adapt it as you go.

 

 

There's bound to be a ghost at the back of your closet

No matter where you live

There'll always be a few things, maybe several things

That you're going to find really difficult to forgive

 

There's going to come a day when you feel better

You'll rise up free and easy on that day

And float from branch to branch, lighter than the air

Just when that day is coming, who can say, who can say?

 

Our mother has been absent

Ever since we founded Rome

But there's going to be a party

When the wolf comes home

 

We're going to commandeer the local airwaves

To tell the neighbors what's been going on

And they will shake their heads and wag their bony fingers

In all the wrong directions, and by daybreak we'll be gone

 

I'm going to get myself in fighting trim

Scope out every angle of unfair advantage

I'm going to bribe the officials, I'm going to kill all the judges

It's going to take you people years to recover from all of the damage

 

Our mother has been absent

Ever since we founded Rome

But there's going to be a party

When the wolf comes home

 

As you play the outro, the crowd goes wild. You smile and take a bow. Then you grab the mic.

“Let’s get out of here, baby! See you later, fuckers!” You shout. Signing off just like you used to.

Whistles and howls. People turn back to Alcina, who’s shaking her head. You take your guitar and the two of you leave. You feel lighter. You got it out. Good job. 

You light a cigarette while you wait for the taxi. You light one for Alcina too. You both smoke for a minute in a comfortable, warm silence.

“You know, you really are quite good.” Alcina observes.

You shake your head.

“I’m just a joker with a guitar.”

“Maybe to them, but…I think you’re so much more than that. You always have been.” Alcina says.

You smile and your face hurts from it a little. You’ve cried a lot today. Your jaw aches.

“Ok. The next time we go on some kind of highly emotional journey, it’s your turn.” You say flicking your cigarette into the street.

The taxi pulls up and you both get inside.

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

Years pass, as they are want to do, and things continue to change.

Bela and Daniela enroll in the local university. Cassandra tries to stay home and laze about, but eventually, her curiosity gets the better of her and she too, ventures out of the house. Into the wide, wide world.

Though you suspect the BSAA is always out there, waiting and watching, you decide not to worry so much about it. If they were to swarm the house or make a move, you’d be more than ready. For better or worse, they leave you alone.

Alcina spends more time painting. She paints her garden, her daughters, and you. She also paints her memories, so bittersweet. You like the portraits of her family best. The oil painting of Irina hangs in one of your hallways.

And you? Well, you take a lot of naps. Living with a collective consciousness inside of you took some getting used to, but you’ve managed, and even find it pleasant at times. How strange it is to look at a flower or hear the melody of an old folk song and feel something so deeply that you don’t understand. Sometimes you can pick out the ghost inside of you, like a little whisper flavored with their presence. Donna loves Alcina’s garden. Moreau adores the rain. Heisenberg pops up from time to time when you smoke a particularly satisfying cigarette.

Then there’s Miranda. You feel her in flashes of your temper and in moments of hurt. Honestly, with all the voices and creatures inside of you, you’re not surprised that Miranda lost her mind in the end. Considering how much they all hated her, you’re even less surprised than that. Thankfully, you’ve spent your whole life holding onto a slippery mind. You have the experience and you’re able to settle into a peace she probably never knew. The souls inside your vast, internal world are yours to care for and you do.

So much has happened in your life and so much of it was painful. Sometimes you find it difficult to relax into the domestic bliss you’ve got, but you’re getting better at it.

It seems crazy to think that the creature that kidnapped you and dragged you to her castle is the same woman fussing with the blender in your kitchen and batting her eyelashes at you in bed. You wonder how you transformed from prey to predator to…who you are now. Just a person? Maybe. Even with your supernatural might, you don’t feel like you’re more than a person. But what’s wrong with just being a person? Perhaps you like it. Better than being crushed under a boot or even than doing the crushing.

That’s the thing about growing up. You start to realize that life really is about the contentment of sitting quietly and the peace of knowing that you will do it again tomorrow. That’s not to say that your family doesn’t keep you on your toes. They certainly do. But when you think about what you wanted as a kid, all the chaos and excitement of fame, it seems not unattainable, but unwanted.

What more could anyone ask for than to love and be loved? Not a damn thing.

You’re laid out on the roof of your villa with your wife, soaking up the sunshine on two lounge chairs, each appropriately sized. You’re in board shorts and nothing else. She’s in one of her more revealing bathing suits. You peek over your sunglasses and bite your lip at the ripple of flesh that threatens to spill out into the light of the sun.

A white tendril grows from the edge of your elbow and snakes its way over to Alcina’s top. It tugs at the fabric and she laughs without moving to stop you.

Yes, recently it seems your shifting flesh has a mind of its own. This new, tentacle’d development is not entirely unwelcome, but you haven’t quite mastered it yet. Impulses seem to guide the tentacles more than conscious thought.

And they seem to form all over your body as they please.

“Can I help you?” Alcina asks airily.

“I may be beyond help, My Lady.”

“Oh, that’s for certain.”

The tendril finally snakes its way beneath the fabric of Alcina’s top and circles the nipple, teasing it pert. She shifts on her chair, pressing against your touch.

You roll onto your side to get a better look at her and another one of your wily tendrils sprouts from your other arm, reaching and grasping for Alcina’s supple flesh. Scarred and pale, but soft and warm too. So, enticing. Always a feast for the eyes and you never grow full.

“Tell me, Alci. Did you really intend to keep me forever that first night in the castle?” You ask.

“No, I did not. I planned to fuck you a little and then rip you apart with my bare hands. You had such pretty little features though and you liked it. First maiden in ages who didn’t cry and beg me not to kill her. You gave me a proper appetite. ”

“I mean, what’s not to like? You’re gorgeous, sharp as a tack, and you know what they say about big hands…?”

Alcina raises an eyebrow at you.

“Big strap.”

She rolls her eyes.

“I’m trying to enjoy this.” She says, referring to your wandering tendril’s touch.

You pout your lips at her and let the long, thick tentacle dances its way down her chest.

“I thought you liked my jokes.”

“I like your mouth much better when it’s between my thighs.” Alcina purrs.

She pulls you from your lounge chair onto her chest and runs her hands down your stomach. You sit up and grind your hips into the bottom of her ribcage. New tendrils sprout from your arms and legs, gliding over her skin.

“Hey now, I’m more than a pretty face and a nice rack.” You say.

The joking tone is quickly melting into something huskier.

“So true. You’re also the perfect sheathe for m—Ah!”

You’re snaking around her thighs, teasing the entrance to her sex beneath her bathing dress. Another part of you is carving around her neck, drawing lines you hope to draw forever.

“What was that, dear?” You tease.

Alcina reaches her long, wet tongue to the tendril at her throat and you shiver. Who knew these new appendages would be so sensitive? Your hips buck and you wonder if you could produce a tentacle from the flesh of your clit. The idea is very interesting indeed.

You plunge yourself between her breasts and run your teeth between them. A new and exciting pressure builds in your shorts. The possibilities are endless indeed.

Alcina pulls you in for a kiss and you feel her ragged breath in your mouth. Your hands are wrapped around her arms and yet you can still feel her slick folds down below. Your own shorts are soaked through and through.

“Mmmm.” You groan.

The feeling of her beneath you. Touching her in so many places at once. It’s overwhelming and you’re not even inside her yet.

Alcina brings her large hands to your rear and slaps both cheeks. The shock makes you twitch all over and you feel yourself slip inside her briefly. Things escalate quickly from there.

She tears through your board shorts and pushes inside, deep as she can go. You cry out and lose your focus, but she grabs your throat with her free hand.

“Don’t you dare stop.” She growls.

You reach not one, but three tendrils inside of her, each moving with their own excitement. You flick and circle her clit while you fill her. She actually falters in her usually unwavering rhythm of fucking you. You obey though. You keep going.

But then you hear something that gives you pause.

“Alcina! Wait—!” You moan.

“Not now, Mommy’s working.” She snarls.

She pounds into you hard and your voice cracks from pleasure. Then you both hear the long bellow of a car horn.

“Hey!”

You lurch forward and tumble off of Alcina and the lounge chair, onto the shingles of the roof. Daniela and Mateo are here early.

“I thought they weren’t coming until 1!” Alcina hisses.

You sit up and rub your sore forehead. Then you check your phone. It’s 1:15.

“We’re running late, dear.” You admit.

“Damn. I suppose it can’t be helped.”

“What are you two doing up there? It’s time to go!” Daniela shouts.

The horn blares again, a few times. You think Alcina might launch the free lounge chair down at the car, but you’re quick to act.

“Dani!” You say cheerfully, revealing yourself at last.  

You aren’t wearing a shirt, but you improvise, and stand very carefully to conceal the tear in your shorts.

“Where are your nipples?” Daniela asks, covering Mateo’s eyes in the passenger seat.

“I thought it would be less weird. I—I didn’t have a shirt.” You call back.

“It’s definitely not! Are you coming or what?” She shouts.

You can’t help but laugh and you can practically feel Alcina’s sexual frustration smoldering behind you. That is the question, isn't it?

“You know what? We’re just gonna meet you there!” You shout back.

Daniela throws her hands up as if to say, ‘Why the hell did you want to carpool then?’. She shakes her head and turns the car around. A small part of you is glad you won’t be subjected to her driving today.

You collect yourselves as much as you can and head back down into the house to dress for the day. You should hurry. You are running late.

“How many times do you think we’ve made love since we’ve known each other?” You ask.

“Do we count the times that were interrupted?” Alcina asks irritably.

“I can’t go out like this.” You admit.

“Neither can I.” Alcina agrees.

Thankfully, you’ve been together long enough that you know just the right spots to send each other over the edge quickly and efficiently. The waterproof vibrator between you helps. You both finish in the shower and quickly go to get dressed. It’s not completely satisfying, but it’ll do in a pinch.

Alcina’s in white, as usual, looking more regal than you’ve ever seen her, which is quite a feat. You’re in black. It’s not too formal, but you’re not in a t-shirt either. This is a special day.

The two of you head outside and pick up the floral arrangements for Bela before getting into the car. Alcina did them herself and they are gorgeous. Yes, this is a special day indeed.

The drive to the University is tempered with the sweet voice of Minnie Ripperton’s “Loving You”. Alcina sings over the track and her voice is…well, it makes your heart flutter. No one else can make you feel the colors that she brings. That’s for sure. You may have started off in the cruel cold of Winter, but years with Alcina have truly made every day feel like the Springtime. Always growing and blossoming.

The song changes over to “Les Fleurs”. Both you and Alcina gear up for a solid jam. It’s one of your favorites. Alcina sings the opening verse and though you’ve always imagined the flowers in the song to be daisies or sunflowers, the flower that Alcina sings about has to be a rose.

As the chorus swells, you feel your heart go with it. Both of you dance and vibe and sing and everything is right with the world.

The phone rings and interrupts the music. Alcina answers the phone on the Bluetooth in the car.

“Hello darling!” She says, already beaming with pride.

“Hello mother!” Bela says excitedly.

“Hey, Bela! You ready to graduate?” You ask.

“Hey Luce! I don’t know! I think so? Am I supposed to feel ready?”

You laugh.

“Nope.”

“Daniela and Mateo just got here. Cassandra’s here too. Where are you guys?” Bela asks.

“Nearly there, dear. We were delayed.” Alcina explains diplomatically.

You can hear Daniela in the background.

“They were fucking on the roof.”

Cassandra busts out laughing. Bela groans.

“You’ll have to find your seats. They’re on your tickets.” Bela says.

“And then Luci was like talking down to me without nipples? It was super weird. Looked like a vampire barbie…” Daniela continues in the background.

“I thought it would be less weird!” You insist to the phone.

Raucous laughter.

“I can’t wait to see you.” Bela says quickly, trying to recover.

“Very soon, my sweet darling.” Alcina answers, smooth as ever.

The phone call ends and you sit in silence for a few moments.

“I thought it would be less weird.” You say again, crossing your arms with a huff.

It was a snap decision to lose the nipples, you thought it would serve as a form of censorship. You were very distracted, in your defense.

Alcina pulls the car into the parking lot and parks it. She seems to be doing her best to be generous to you about it, but she can’t help but giggle.

“Vampire barbie.” She mutters under breath.

“That’s rich coming from the Abominable Snowmistress herself.”

You get out of the car and Alcina’s laughter follows you through the parking lot.

“Is that the best you got, you Evanescence reject?” Alcina calls out behind you.

You wheel around, mouth agape, a laugh wheezing out.

“I will not take this from some bargain bin Elizabeth Bathory!” You shoot back.

Alcina lets out one loud cackle and then closes the distance between you with a little pout.

“So cranky! Did you not get the callback for the Addams Family’s gay cousin?”

You march over to her with a vengeance.

“At least I could play the gay cousin. What you would you get? The Michelin Man’s Mother?”

People are definitely staring.

“I’d tell you to take a chill pill, but you’d just snort it.” Alcina sneers. 

“Aging drag queen.” You spit.

“Washed-up mall goth.” She spits back.

“How do you even know what that is?” You shout.

You both stop and then you both laugh. You lean against her.

“We really should have just been late.” You admit.

“Probably.”

“How long is the ceremony?” You whine.

“Oh darling, it’s going to be hours before Mommy can have her way with you again. How will you survive?” Alcina says in that insufferable sing-song.

“Oh my god. We need to go!” You shout.

You trek across the campus at a solid power walk and find the large gymnasium. Using your tickets, you find your seats. Quick hellos and hugs with Cassandra, Daniela, and Mateo.

Alcina gets two seats to herself and you almost make a joke about it. How did you roast her in the parking lot without once mentioning her…assets? Oh well, you’re certain you’ll be shooting one-liners back and forth all afternoon. Such is the nature of your sexual frustration. At least you’ll have some good laughs.

“Not a word.” Alcina warns.

“I was just going to say that I was impressed at the accommodations. So…generous.”

Your feigned innocence is not appreciated. Alcina leans over and whispers into your ear as the graduation ceremony begins.

“I’m going to fuck you so thoroughly when we get home that you may never sit again. Generous accommodations or not.”

Graduation ceremonies are always too long. Far too long. You’re happy for all the people who are finally getting their degrees, but did they all have to finish this semester? And do we really need tired old orchestral music to wish these kids well? A poem too? Ok.

Your Spanish isn’t as good as Alcina’s so you keep having to ask what’s going on. Eventually, you give up and just watch.

Vibrant young people with bright futures cross the stage and collect their prize for suffering through four or five years of university studies. The A’s go on for hours, but the B’s are far quicker. The C’s aren’t bad either. Finally.

“Bela Dimitrescu!”

Bela walks across the stage and your heart swells with pride. Ok. It was all worth it. You take Alcina’s hand. She’s beaming. Daniela whistles. Even Cassandra looks pretty pleased. They still have a semester or two to go. Bela put in the work and she’s got her degree a little early.

The ceremony presses on and eventually, you all gather outside by the car. You ready the flowers, which are still looking pretty good despite sitting for a few hours. Alcina spritzes them with water.

“You did good, Lady Dimitrescu. The flowers look beautiful and you have three amazing daughters.” You say, leaning on the car.

Daniela breaks away from her conversation with Mateo for a moment.

“Oh, come on Luci. Stop pretending like you’re not our mom.” She says.

Cassandra looks away, but she’s smiling.

“Yeah, mom.”

“Aw, come on guys.” You say, suddenly emotional.

“At least call me your ‘Cool mom’.” You add.

“You are definitely not our ‘Cool mom’.” Dani says apologetically.

You hear Alcina let out a “Hah!” from the trunk of the SUV.

“That does not make you the ‘Cool mom’ by default, Mother.” Cassandra says.

Then you hear Dani and Mateo cheer. Everyone turns. Bela has arrived. She waves nervously. Her sisters run to her and hug her tightly. Even Mateo squeezes in a quick peck.

They all join you and Alcina hands her a large bouquet of gorgeous white and red roses.

“We are so proud of you, Bela.” Alcina says.

Bela does her best to wipe her eyes without dropping anything.

“Congratulations.” You say.

“Thank you, Mother…Mothers. Thank you.”

There’s a small after-party at Daniela and Mateo’s apartment. Mateo apologizes for the state of the place, but honestly, it’s perfectly fine. Definitely a first apartment, but it’s great. There are little strings of Christmas lights on the windows and a family photo on the fridge.

Dani made Paella. One for the immediate family and one for Mateo. You’re not sure which one you should eat at first, but in the end, you go for the one without the body parts in it. You all eat and drink wine. It’s warm and you find yourself getting lost in the conversations. Hours pass.

You and Alcina don’t make it home until 2:00 am. You yawn as you shut the front door. But you see headlights light up the living room. You head back outside. It’s Mateo’s car and he jumps out of the driver’s seat. Your heart drops.

“What happened?”

You hop the fence off the porch to get to him faster. Alcina senses something is wrong and is quick to follow after you.

“Nothing! Nothing! I didn’t mean to scare you. Well, something did happen, but it’s not bad!” Mateo insists.

You exhale and Alcina does the same. Mateo runs his fingers through his hair. He shifts back and forth on his feet.

“I uh—I um. Mrs. Dimitrescu and uh, Mrs. Dimitrescu, I wanted to, well, needed to, uh…”

“Out with it.” Alcina half-snaps. It’s late and it’s been a long day of being pent up.

“I want to marry Daniela! I told her you left your cellphone and I need to marry her and that’s why I’m here!” He blurts out all at once.

Though very rare, both you and Alcina are speechless. Mateo watches you both nervously and then starts to panic.

“She’s not pregnant or anything! I don’t even know if that’s possible! It would be great if it was, but it’s also great if it’s not. I love her no matter what. I just really love her and I want to show the world that she’s the only one for me and I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together and I know it’s kind of old fashioned to ask the parents but then I know you’re a little old fashioned, kind of literally, actually, which is not a dig at your age ma’am I just—”

“Please stop.” You interrupt.

Mateo looks like he might cry. You’re quick to recover.

“I’m not saying no, I just—Alcina? Good time to jump in.” You say quickly, elbowing your wife.

Alcina finally recovers and speaks gently.

“I think it’s very sweet that you would ask. Mateo if you love her and she loves you, then there’s nothing to stop you.” Alcina says softly.

His face lights up like Christmas. He takes your hand and Alcina’s into his own. He kisses them both.

“Thank you, Madre. Thank you both. You have made me the happiest man in the world. I promise to honor her and cherish her and love her every day, even when she swarms the ice cream and leaves dead flies in it and then puts it back in the ice box which I mean—”

“Ok, dear. Ok. We get it.” You say, patting his hand.

“Gracias.” He says, bowing his head.

Alcina places her palm on his head and pats it.

“Now, darling boy, we love you and we’re delighted you want to be a part of our family, but it is well into the night and we have things to attend to.” Alcina says.

Mateo beams as he nods and heads back to his beat-up Toyota. He waves and drives off. You both wave as he goes.

“Well, that’s exciting.” You say.

Alcina leans down and you lean up to kiss her.

“It is. Our darlings are all grown up. Graduating from college. Getting married.” Alcina says with a pleasant laugh.

“I wonder how Cassandra will make her mark.” You wonder.

Alcina shrugs.

“Knowing her, it will be what we least expect. Now, let’s go inside.”

You both head back in. You close and lock the door.

“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten my promise from earlier,” Alcina says dangerously.

She presses you up against the door and you find yourself out of quippy comebacks. She’s on your neck, biting into the flesh, and making you moan.

“Where do you want me?” You whisper between frantically keeping your lips locked and ripping off her clothes.

“I don’t care!” She whispers back.

You push and pull each other to the sofa. She falls back against the cushions and grins in that hungry, predatory way. You grin right back. The long, thick tentacles from the morning are back in full force now, undulating around you.

“Come here.” She growls.

You approach and drop to your knees, planting kisses on hers. She spreads her legs and you feel yourself gasp. The flesh there at the apex of her thighs glistens, begging for your attention. She grabs you by the hair and presses your face against her. You get a bright idea.

Your rake your tongue up and down, sucking in her sensitive flesh. Then you move until your lips are flush with her cunt. You let your tongue grow to fill the space. Alcina’s eyes flutter. Then you give her the lashing of the century. Pumping in and out. Twisting and grinding against the rough patch of flesh.

The hand on your head threatens to pull your hair out. She rides your mouth vigorously. You add muscle to your neck and do your best to hang on. You feel her walls clench around your tongue and she shakes.

“Fuck! Luci! Oh! Fuck!”

You love when she loses control like this and shouts. It’s violent. It’s messy. It’s a hidden side of Alcina that is only for you.

She collapses against the back of the couch, panting, and you pull back. You wipe your mouth with the back of your hand.

“I want to try something.” You say, panting a little yourself.

The flesh between your legs twitches with interest and then you focus on making it bigger. After a few moments, the flesh obeys, and you stand before Alcina. A large, wet tentacle sprouts between your legs. It stands at attention, ready. You might have gone with the more “traditional package”, but variety is the spice of life.

You make yourself taller, too. You’ve started to enjoy being the same size as her, at least when you’re driving the action. You just hope your combined weight doesn’t break the couch.

Alcina looks into your eyes and bites her lip. She nods quickly.

You place your hands on either side of her to steady yourself. Then you slip inside her. Holy fuck.

You thrust and the sound of your hips hitting hers is enough to spur you into a frenzy. You pound into her, growling and snarling. The feeling is overwhelming. The wet slapping saturates the room, punctuated with grunts of effort and hitched, strangled cries of pleasure. You’re not sure where your noises begin and Alcina’s end.

Your orgasm builds suddenly and you come hard inside her. You collapse into her a little bit, seeing stars. For a few minutes, you’re both relatively still. Heaving breaths, but nothing else.

Then you slide out of her and straddle one of her thighs. You need more. It’s your turn to be filled up. You can’t stop until you’ve had her inside you.

“Insatiable, aren’t you?” Alcina observes.

“Please?” You murmur.

“Upstairs. Now.” Alcina growls.

You hop off of her thigh and race upstairs to your bedroom. You could go to the playroom, but you’re pretty sure you’re both going to pass out after this. Neither of you are as young as you used to be.

You wait patiently and return your body to it’s usual state. Human looking. Then you hear the heavy sound of Alcina’s approaching footsteps. Anticipation.

She darkens the doorway and grins that fanged smile you love so much.

“Let’s get a look at you, then.” She says.

Her manner is unhurried, unbothered. She’s back in her domme character. You get onto your stomach and raise your ass into the air, looking at her with wide, wanting eyes.

“Do you remember when I used to make you dizzy with my pheromones?”

“As if you ever stopped. Come here.” You plead.

Truth be told, they don’t affect you anymore. They haven’t since your Cadou. And she hasn’t been able to feed on you since then either. How things have changed since then. Oh, how things have changed.

“Tsk tsk. Mouthy. You’re lucky I’m tired, pet, or you’d be squirming for hours.” Alcina purrs.

She approaches you slowly and you roll on the bed, showing off your body for her. Letting her see you. Delighting in her gaze. You remember a time when you would have been on the defensive as she looked at you, scoping out your next move, calculating. Now you’re here, letting her eyes feast on whatever they please.

“I do miss your blood, you know. You were so delicious.” Alcina says lazily as she leans against the mattress.

She closes her eyes and remembers. You scoot to the edge of the bed and wrap your legs around her.

“You know, I could remind you. It won’t feed you, but you could taste it.” You say.

Her eyes snap open and she smirks.

“Go on then and I’ll give you what you crave.”

You close your eyes and focus. Your body is just a collection of mold now, a collection of memories, but just as you know your own shape, you know your own flavor. You open your eyes and look up at her, offering your wrist.

She leans down and inhales. Then she runs her teeth over the skin. You quiver. She bites and takes a sip.

“Oh! Divine!”

She bites you, again and again, leaving teeth marks up your arm. Finally, she gets to your throat and devours it with a gasp.

The sounds of her feeding fill you with want. You grind your hips against her to remind her of her promise. She chuckles between gulps and enters you. Those fingers you know so well. You never tire of it. In fact, the more time you spend together, the better she plays you, and you sing.

When she’s sated and you’re spent, you both climb into the bed to rest. How many times have you done this and how many more will come?

“You know, I fell in love with you that night in the garden too.” You say.

Alcina rolls over and looks at you.

“It was the night you truly joined our family.” She says.

“Yeah and look at our family now. Look at us, Alcina. I never thought I could ever feel safe and loved and home. But I do. I never thought I would be a parent or a wife. Certainly not some kind of mold goddess.”

“Oh, a goddess now? Well. I shall have to practice my prayers.”

“I’d say your worship has sufficed for the night, My Lady.”

Alcina traces the shape of you with her hand.

“I never thought I would love again either. I never thought I would trust someone the way I trust you. I thought no one in the world would ever impress me again, but here you are, and you impress me all the time. I used to think I hated surprises, but, I must say, you make them fun again, Luci.”

You pull yourself closer to her and she wraps herself around you. You tangle yourselves together.

“Never let me go.” You whisper.

Alcina pulls you in tighter and kisses you on the head.

“Never.”

You settle into a comfortable silence, dozing and snuggling in. You change positions occasionally. You nap. She does too. When the morning light starts peeking into the window, you go and fetch your guitar. You can’t help it. Song is the only way you feel like you can ever express yourself fully. The notes carry all of your emotions more than words ever could.

You sit cross-legged on the bed and she props herself up on her side to listen. She knows you well enough to know what this means. You strum idly for a moment.

“Oh, the acoustic. We’re really in our feelings this morning, aren’t we?” Alcina says with a wink.

You chuckle and play your little intro.

“Whenever I’m alone with you…you make me feel like I am home again. Whenever I’m alone with you…you make me feel like I am whole again.” You sing.

You get to the second verse and hear Alcina take a breath. You let her take this one.

“Whenever I’m alone with you…you make me feel like I am young again. Whenever I’m alone with you…you make me feel like I am fun again.” She sings.

You join together for the chorus.

 

 

 However far away

I will always love you

However long I stay

I will always love you

Whatever words I say

I will always love you

I will always love you

 

You don’t make it through the rest of the song. You’re kissing and holding each other, everything else forgotten.

And some say you live happily ever after. Some say you live forever. But, if you ask me, I think you both know that nothing lasts forever. She feels the pull of it first and lets you know in little ways. A stray comment. More time sleeping. You feel the pull too. The gentle plea for endless sleep. 

One morning, you both quietly say goodbye to the house and to your family. Children and grandchildren. Friends. You all know it’s coming, so you find a quiet place at the top of a mountain. Everyone says goodbye and then they leave.

You and Alcina are left alone to pass on from this world into the next. You feel her soft skin harden and crack in your hand. The two of you cast your gazes to the mountains and the valleys below. 

"Was I a good mother?" She asks. 

"The best."

"Was I a good wife?"

"Perfect."

"Was I a good lover?"

You take her crumbling hand and kiss it. 

"None could compare." 

Alcina Dimitrescu. She's always had a hard time letting go, but this time, she doesn't. She crumbles away beside you and the wind carries her pieces back into the world.

You close your eyes and there she is, with all the others inside you. Though the others have faded away into the collective consciousness, Alcina is clear and fresh. Together forever, entwined in the megamycete. An eternal embrace, slowly fading into one another. 

That's living happily ever after in a way. But yes, all things must end. That is what makes them whole and satisfying and complete. It's just one more change. 

Your life as you know it ends there on that mountain top and if anyone were to wander up there, they would see a statue.

So beautiful that they would weep.

Chapter Text

Hello everyone,

I have a little update for you. I’ve started to adapt this fic into an original novel. For those of you who didn’t want to get off the ride, this is where we’re headed. Along with the adaptation, I’ll be working on continuing the Fanfiction version of the story and writing new stories. Anything that is classified as “Fanfiction”, will be posted on Ao3 a week after I upload it elsewhere. So, whether you subscribe or not, I do hope you’ll continue to enjoy the work I do. The link to my Twitter where you can find other links is below. 

Along with the adaption, I also created a discord server to talk fics and hang out. Fellow writers welcome! I want to talk process. <3

So, yeah. I want to thank all of you who’ve read my story. You’ve given me so much support even just by showing up. Those of you that have left me comments or reached out to me on social, you have my heart.

These have been some times in the world, but you have all reminded me that fandom and community are still a place where you can make a friend and laugh a little along the way. So. Thank you. Truly.

So, subscribe if you want or just come say hi. I'm just happy to be writing again. 

 

Saber Speaks Twitter!

 

I hope to see you around.

Much love. <33333