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TCOL : Epilogue : As It Ends, So It Begins ~Fin~

Kage walked away from a frustrating evening only to have it spill over into a frustrating night, he loathed the idea of parting however briefly from Neka on such cruel terms but he simply needed time to himself.

“The discussion is over, Neka.” Kage stood firmly beside the locked door behind which her pet would spend the next few hours and pointed across the hall. “Your room. Now.”

“Daddy…” Neka whimpered. “It’s not fair. Neka will be lonely.”

“Thanks, kid.” Malice pouted as she fluttered nearby. “We’ll be fine, Lord Kage.”

“See to it she stays occupied.” Kage patted Neka on her head softly. “I am not going to apologize for teaching you obedience, Neka. You would not respect me if I did.”

“Neka will behave.” Neka hugged his legs abruptly and went to her room sniffling. Malice followed after her and Kage walked down the hall as the door closed.

“Settled?” Lucifer asked without looking up from his feverish scribbling into one of his journals.

“I don’t enjoy the fact she is already starting to fight my decisions.” Kage claimed a seat near Lucifer but stayed distanced enough to leave his writing undisturbed. “How did you handle Kaneko?”

“Kaneko was never a problem.” Lilith interrupted casually as she handed Kage a glass of wine. “She is a child, Kage. Neka will start to see the good in your decisions eventually.”

“Is that so?” Kage grinned cruelly. “When should we expect this miraculous understanding from your child? At least mine have respect for their parents.”

“That’s enough, Kage.” Lucifer continued writing.

“You must have had an eventful evening.” Kage sipped his wine. Lucifer had not even raised his voice to stop the quarreling. He had not once looked up at either of them since he arrived. “Should we be jealous?”

“You should still your tongue before I tear it out.” Lucifer looked up at him coldly. “I’ve never given either of you cause to doubt me. Don’t insult me again, Kagami.”

“Tek, Vasun.” Kage bowed his head in understanding. “I didn’t mean to say that you would…”

“My evening was spent with Maefyl.” Lucifer closed his journal and it vanished, finding its place on one of hundreds of shelves around the room. As he folded his hands he smiled at Kage. “Considering the efforts I made to keep you both, and the continued efforts I make to sate you both, I do not want to hear even the passing thought of jealousy. Is that clear?”

“Kryss has quite the talented daughter.” Lilith quickly changed the subject.

“I doubt Kage battled so long with Neka to rehash the evenings events, my Love.” Lucifer shifted playfully into Kage’s lap and started to gather up the long, dark hair of the blushing Viper in one hand as he pulled himself close. “Did you want my attention?”

“If you can spare it…” Kage’s fingers shook on his glass until Lilith was kind enough to take it as she walked by on her way out. “I did not realize you were still writing, I would not have interrupted.”

“Shut up, Kagami.” Lucifer grabbed Kage’s hair tight in his hand before he kissed him. While his mind had been elsewhere, he promised himself and his loves that he would make time for them. It was a promise he meant to keep. It helped that it was one he enjoyed keeping. Worry melted away when he was with them and while Kage wrapped his arms around him, Lucifer could almost forget the living words pulsing with the riddles of all existence on the walls around them.

 

It may have been a touch too early,

But his soul is a restless one.

Maefyl was always meant to have this secret.

I trust him with it.

It is not his knowledge of their existence that has me worried, but he still has so much to understand.

I only hope that he can fully accept it before any of the others realize what I have done.

There should be time.

So many distractions now.

Even for myself it seems.

But I am looking forward with enthusiasm.

Embracing the unexpected is rejuvenating.

Disaster can be therapeutic.

 

“He seems content.” Lilith smiled as she came to bed and saw Kage slumbering beside Lucifer. “Is it okay to join you?”

“Of course.” Lucifer welcomed her warmly into his arm and kissed her as she settled against him. “In fact he would probably sleep right through it I tossed you on his back and had you right now.”

“He would be mortified.” Lilith giggled.

“He is not that asleep.” Kage hissed and turned over hoping to ignore their cooing.

“Oh, Kage.” Lilith tugged a bit of his hair. “Stop being difficult. Let him enjoy us.”

“He can enjoy us all he wishes.” Kage turned enough to glare at her. “Separately.”

“Leave him.” Lucifer took her wrist and kissed it until she dropped her hold on Kage’s hair. As Kage relaxed back to bed, Lucifer pulled Lilith beneath him. “You are going to have to stop teasing him, my love.”

“But I so enjoy it, my Lord.” Lilith smiled up at Lucifer adoringly. “I think you do as well.”

“Let me do the teasing.” Lucifer grinned. He had a thousand wicked thoughts run through his mind, but he decided Kage still needed time to adjust and instead focused on pleasing Lilith. As she moaned he kissed her and did Kage the favor of putting him to sleep.

 

 

I imagine this excitement I feel is somewhat akin to what a child feels embarking on the unknown.

I feel renewed and inspired.

Ready to take on the unwritten chapter.

I have yet to be defeated by an ending.

I do not plan on bowing out just yet.

-L

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Filed under Book VII, From The Desk Of Lucifer, story, The Council Of Lords, Uncategorized

Nihil : Changes Pt.2

“I’ll be back.” Maefyl had his fill after another hour of petty bickering. He headed down the table and snatched Sanguine off of it to sit her on his shoulder giggling. Then grabbed Brig and Raziel by the arm. “These two are going home. Nothing is getting accomplished here, and the hall is probably flooded with tears at his point.”

 When no one complained Maefyl shifted them into the hall and got caught in the embrace of relief. He didn’t bother trying to push his way out of it, but sent Bezer and Azazel in to give their own hugs to Asura and Nikolai.

 “Kaneko, you can go in.” Maefyl smiled as one of the fargoyles ran across his shoulders to make sure they were hugging everyone. “Those three don’t need babysitting anymore.”

 “Nyaa.” Kaneko giggled. “They were nice and quiet. Make sure you give them treats.”

 “Take them home, Raziel.” Maefyl didn’t want the questions starting while they had an audience. It was going to be hard enough on all of them. “Take a few days, if you need me to check on Vex I will.”

 “I’ll take care of it.” Raziel let Maefyl wriggle his way out of the tangled reunion. Maefyl had fought on their behalf, risked punishment for a swift act of vengeance and confronted Lucifer to a painful end. Even in Council he spoke for them. Maefyl had access to all of Raziel’s secrets. His knowledge, his memories. Maefyl had only glimpsed a few of them, but few as dark and shameful as those he now knew. As soon as they had been taken Maefyl had found dozens of them locked away in Raziel’s mind. The many debts he paid for Galik, and now for Brig. This time Brig paid with him and Raziel hated that he had let it happen. Maefyl should have been furious with him, but as Raziel looked at Maefyl’s sad smile, he heard only sympathy and compassion. Maefyl understood and appreciated the freedom he had given Brig and did not leave any blame with Raziel for what had occurred. “But, thank you. For everything.”

 Maefyl nodded and waited for them to leave. He would go to see them soon and give them all the words of comfort they needed. For now they just needed each other and he had a few other things to settle before he could go and relax himself.

 “Thanks for not sentencing me to hard labor.” Maefyl put his arm around Eliza’s shoulders and looked at Donovan and Mala. “If you are dead set on asking; go ahead, but I wish you would leave well enough alone.”

 “What about an alternative?” Sanguine suggested. It had been her slip up that made Mala so determined. She fluttered into the Council hall and emerged with Azazel. “Show them.”

 “Are you starting trouble out here, asshole?” Azazel pounced on Maefyl’s back and stretched his arm over him to show off his wedding bands.

 “Always, pussy cat.” Maefyl grabbed Azazel’s hand to point out Sanguine’s clever alternative. The wedding bands of Golod. “She means this. They all have them.”

 “Those are pretty. Why is one white?” Eliza leaned closer to look and Azazel hissed at her. “What was that for?”

 “Only Nikolai and the pussy cats have that one.” Maefyl sighed ad realized he would probably working a bit of magic on Eliza and Donovan, but for now he didn’t have the patience for it. “It used to be black, too.”

 “You lost someone…” Eliza lowered her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

 “Lucifer helped them with the magic and bound them all together equally.” Sanguine decided it would be best to move on and make the point to Mala.

 “But he is collared as well.” Mala tapped the delicate black band coiled with green that wrapped Azazel’s wrist.

 “It’s more recent, but we all are.” Azazel looked at Maefyl confused and started to get frustrated. “Why does it matter?”

 “Mala is the one that wants the collar.” Maefyl tugged at the longer bits of Azazel’s hair. “Donovan doesn’t have magic going for him, which means one of Lucy’s little gifts. On another vampire it might be reliable…”

 “Useless on a demon.” Azazel nodded and poked at Donovan. “Are you sure he’s completely useless? Have you asked Raven?”

 “I am so completely lost.” Eliza ducked away from Maefyl’s arm around her and left them to discuss confusing things about people she didn’t know. The door to the hall was still open and she peered through it to look at Vikarr. She wasn’t sure the open door was invitation enough to step inside, but thought if she could get his attention he would clear that up. “Psst, Vivi.”

 Samael had gotten bored and taken Shiroi and Azrael home. Promising to visit Golod and Nihil soon to continue and to establish friendships. Once the Wyrms left Gabriel lectured Nikolai on the caution he should take with them and insisted he would be reinforcing and strengthening the magic that protected them. He couldn’t dictate the friends Nikolai or Asura kept, but he could insist on barriers that denied any malicious intent to enter their home.

 Eidolon was chatting with Lucifer over a stubborn friend who was procrastinating over something important. He had a bride on each arm; one seemed to be a vampire, the other a demon. Kage was explaining some of the simpler details of the changes Vikarr would have to adapt to. Gabriel had moved into Maefyl’s seat and was apologizing for their recent neglect.

 It was Nikolai who noticed Eliza at the door first, because he was watching it for Azazel’s return. He just gestured for her to come inside and Eliza took the invitation assuming the powwow was over and this was just coffee hour.

 “Vivi, I’m going to need to get home.” Eliza told him quietly as he leaned beside his seat at a table that gave him all new reasons to be arrogant. “I’m thirsty.”

 “Vikarr, can you do us all a favor and keep your bride fed?” Kage scolded him. “After you called on the Council to rid your city of vampires. It would be an insult to all of us to let your own bride continue to take innocent lives in Nihil.”

 “What are you talking about?” Eliza looked across the table and pouted. “I can’t help that I need to eat.”

 “I think my Lord Kage is suggesting that you use my own blood as a means to keep your thirst satisfied.” Vikarr smiled up at her. “You are welcome to it.”

 “It’s also less of a suggestion and more of an unspoken rule.” Nikolai added as he looked up at Vikarr’s bride. “There is not a vampire on this Council that still hunts unless there is benefit in it for our Circles. Asura and myself included. Bezer and Azazel give generously, I imagine your Master will as well.”

 “Eew.” Eliza grimaced. “You are kidding right? You feed on your spouses?”

 “They love it.” Asura giggled and Bezer leaned over her grinning.

 “So much.” Bezer nodded excitedly. “Are we going home soon?”

 “Very soon, my pet.” Nikolai looked back toward the door. “I am waiting on Azazel.”

 “I had to steal him for a minute.” Maefyl leaned over the back of Asura’s chair and pushed her hair in her face. “Sorry I’ve been missing your messages.”

 “You just have to visit tomorrow to make it up to us.” Asura grinned as she fixed her hair. “Are Shana and Brig okay?”

 “They’ll be alright.” Maefyl was more concerned for her at the moment. Nikolai had befriended the Wyrms. “Nikolai I have no business telling you who to hang out with, but you are keeping a couple risky comrades.”

 “I realize they are dangerous, Maefyl.” Nikolai stood and pulled Azazel in front of them. “So are you. They have not given me any reason to believe they mean any harm to me or any of my pets. The only one I doubt is Shiroi, and aside from polite greetings and partings she spends most visits silent.”

 “I don’t like her any more than before.” Asura grabbed Maefyl’s hand and leaned against his arm. “But at least now when she goes home it isn’t to make you miserable.”

 “See you tomorrow.” Maefyl kissed her forehead and sent her off with Nikolai and the cubs. He still had to deal with a few things before he could get home and talk to Gabriel alone.

 “Did that obnoxious white haired girl live with you or something?” Eliza regretted the question when the few remaining in the hall fell silent and stared at her. “Never mind.”

 “I’m not getting into that today.” Maefyl forced a smile and tried to solve a few problems at once. “I’ll come by for Q & A in a few days if you do me a favor. Go back to Nihil, take Vikarr up on the offer.”

 “I’ll think about it.” Eliza smirked. She had tasted his blood only once when she bit him to defend herself. She had been too angry to remember it until now; there was something strange about his blood that left her feeling almost euphoric. She could only liken it to the way she had seen drugs affect the patrons at her club. “I’m not thrilled with the idea of giving him something else to hold over me.”

 “I’m not thrilled with vampires killing when it isn’t necessary.” Maefyl insisted that she give it serious consideration and made the same demand of Donovan. “That goes for you, too. I don’t want either of you to be the next reason I am called to Nihil.”

 “I’ll work on it.” Donovan sighed. Mala’s blood was amazing, but he didn’t like putting the demand on him any more than he enjoyed the drunken state the blood left him in. Donovan noticed Mala’s smile growing more hopeful and he clung tightly to his arm and started to pull him toward Lucifer. Donovan was not sure this was the best time for such things, but he had promised to ask. “Lord Lucifer, Mala and I recently wed…”

 “Congratulations.” Lucifer grinned as he interrupted. “I assume from your pitiful expression that you are looking for a favor.”

 “Only because I want to give Mala a bond that reflects his nature as much as mine.” Donovan realized when he looked at the blissfully wedded members of Council that the rings were sweet, but did not give Mala the permanence he wanted. Donovan was heartbroken that he couldn’t give Mala all he wanted on his own, but he was prepared to swallow his pride and ask Lucifer for help if it meant they had a bond as recognizable to Mala’s kin as it would be to humans. “I wouldn’t bother you if it didn’t mean so much to him.”

 “Mala, you must realize your difference in strength makes what you want difficult.” Lucifer explained. “Even if I were to create something for him… Donovan does not have to power required to collar you. I can only give you a compromise. A visible, physical and emotional bond between the two of you. It will give neither of you power over the other. Beyond that, Donovan will have to ask Maefyl to make you something nice to wrap around Mala’s pretty neck.”

 “Why me?” Maefyl laughed.

 “Because you and your meddlesome friend are responsible for my part in this.” Lucifer grinned. “Who else would suggest a marriage like the one in Golod?”

 “Busted.” Sanguine giggled.

 “We already have rings.” Mala pouted quietly to Donovan. He didn’t want the bands thy already had devalued by the magic Lucifer could use to bring them closer. “It’s enough.”

 “Just come here and stop wasting my time.” Lucifer grabbed their left hands once they were close enough and laid them together on the table in front of him. As he held their hands in place he drew a dagger into his other hand and drove it through both their hands. The two of them cringed but endured the pain as he forced a powerful magic through the blade into the wounds. The magic used their blood, moved it through each of them and created a powerful bond with their love for each other as its guide. Donovan held Mala tightly in front of him as the watched dark mists flow into their hands and felt a burning around their wrists when a snakelike coil of the blackish spells wrapped them tightly together. Lucifer withdrew his dagger and the magic finished its work leaving around each of their left wrists a braided band of black, purple and silver. Their simple silver wedding bands had been burned into them, permanently sealing the symbols of their marriage. “Satisfied?”

 “Apparently.” Gabriel smiled and answered for them. Mala had seen the final product of the magic for only a second before he turned his face up to Donovan’s and kissed him.

 “Good.” Lucifer pushed the two of them and forced their shift to Nihil. “They can go enjoy it elsewhere.”

 “We should go as well.” Vikarr stood beside Eliza and bowed his head to excuse himself as he took them back to Nihil

 “Before you bother ranting, Maefyl.” Lucifer raised his hand to prevent the incoming screams. “I am more than willing to discuss whatever gripes you have. Just not at the moment. Go home with Gabriel, make good on your promises to look in on your friends and join me in a few days. You are not the only one who is frustrated and I don’t care to fight with you at the moment.”

 Lucifer vanished before Maefyl had any hope of refusing. He took Lilith and Kage with him to prevent any conversations that would lead to a change of heart regarding his decision. Lucifer knew they were both too angry to speak with any purpose other than to wound each other. It was better for both of them to cool off so they could have an actual conversation instead of another battle.

 “Go ahead and ask, Eidolon.” Maefyl leaned onto the table beside Gabriel. He couldn’t read the Falcon, but both of his brides were waiting for him to ask the same question.

 “I know how you feel about it.” Eidolon sighed. “I don’t want to ask the favor of you. I was only curious if you thought Kaneko would be capable. When Kryss decides to give Nat the option, I don’t want to tell him it could end in her death. It’s what we are trying to prevent. I like the girl; Kryss and Aurora adore her. She is part of our family.”

 “Death is always a risk.” Maefyl looked at his fingers on the table. He had broken a promise to himself several times over and his only comfort had been that those he fathered were all living on willing Masters that adored them. He liked Kryss and Natasha, but knew neither of them well enough to break the promise again. “Kaneko is probably strong enough, but it isn’t just a matter of how strong she is. So many die trying to accept this curse, what it does to a body does not always go well. If the change itself doesn’t take cause death, the pain often does. I made that even more likely to prevent vampires from spreading more than they already have. I’m sorry, Eidolon, but if Kryss accepts the offer it’s a risk he’s going to have to take.”

 “You did it for me.” Karla pouted. “Why not for Nat?”

 “I knew you for years, Rose.” Maefyl sighed. “I watched you grow up with Asura.”

 “Don’t call me that.” Karla turned her face to Eidolon’s chest. “I don’t use that name anymore.”

 “Right, sorry.” Maefyl could see his slip up aggravated Eidolon as well. “I trusted you, and I trusted Eidolon and Kaneko to look after you.”

 “With your gift, you know Kryss and Nat just as well.” Eidolon was disappointed with Maefyl’s stubborn refusal. It would put him in a position that put Nat as risk and jeopardized Kryss’ faith in him. It could prematurely deprive Aurora of her mother, Kryss of his bride and the guilt would fall on Kaneko. Eidolon wanted none of them to suffer. “Have either of them hid some dark secret that makes you doubt they would live well?”

 “This changes people Eidolon.” Maefyl defended his decision. “I don’t want to be a part of ruining someone else.”

 “Who exactly do you think you’ve ruined?” Gabriel rubbed Maefyl’s back until he stood and wrapped around him crying. “Asura is as sweet, generous and loving as the day I brought her home. Shana is a charming girl…”

 “That swore to love Brig and look where that ended up.” Maefyl interrupted.

 “And each one of them love each other.” Gabriel was sure there was more to the relationships in Vex that he was not privy to, but it was clear to him that there was no harm in any of it. There was something else that had Maefyl bothered. “You can’t fault any of them for it.”

 “You can’t mean me?” Karla whimpered. “I didn’t do anything.”

 “No, kid.” Maefyl regretted trying to explain himself at all. ‘No’ should have been enough and it would spare him the misery. “It’s not you. I only regret one, and I don’t want to risk it happening again.”

 “Snowflake?” Kaneko hopped onto the table and scrambled across it to hug him. Kaneko had his blood, too. But it had been Lucifer who tricked him into spilling enough to give it to her. While she often wished Maefyl had turned her himself, he had become more than a vampiric father. He was like a brother to her and one of her closest friends. She knew why he was upset, and it was something that had bothered her too. “Maefyl, Kaneko doesn’t think it was your blood that made Snowflake like this. Kaneko did not stop being Kaneko. Asura is still Asura. Karla is still Karla. Whatever is going on with Shiroi has nothing to do with you. You didn’t make her bad.”

 “Not a word, Sanguine.” Gabriel knew she would only make thing worse when he felt her angry flutter in Maefyl’s hair.

 “I should not have asked.” Eidolon bowed his head to Gabriel. “Let’s go, Kaneko. We will deal with it.”

 “Kaneko will do her best.” Kaneko laid her hand on Maefyl’s back before she stood on the table. “Kaneko isn’t mad at you.”

 “Just let it wait.” Maefyl grabbed her tail as she turned to run back to Eidolon. “I have other things to deal with, but I’ll take care of it.”

 “Thank you, Maefyl.” Eidolon said quietly and left as soon as he had Kaneko back on his arm. There was little point in continuing the conversation for now and it was clear to him that Maefyl needed time with Gabriel.

 “I should go to Itami and make sure Nikumu and Fukushu are…” Maefyl stopped when Gabriel lifted his chin. “What?”

 “The only place you are going is home with me.” Gabriel kissed him and took him to Osore. When they arrived he pulled Maefyl to sit with him on the couch and set one of the game controllers in Maefyl’s hands before he wrapped his arm around him and pulled him back to lay against his chest.

 “I try to do my job for a change and you want me to stop.” Maefyl sighed. “Thank you.”

 “Don’t thank me.” Gabriel smiled. “I just thought this would help you relax while you talk. You can stop hiding your eyes.”

 “I wasn’t hiding them from you.” Maefyl turned to face him and was about to start defending his decision. Gabriel smiled and brushed the side of Maefyl’s face with his fingers. “I don’t know what he has done to me Gabriel, but I hate this. I don’t even know what I’m looking at in the mirror any more. I don’t know how you stand the sight of me.”

 “You are more beautiful than ever, you don’t ever need to hide things from me. Nor should I have hid this from you.” Gabriel blinked and the calm pools of blue expanded as he released the magic he had been using to cover the fact he had been touched by similar magic. Even without the confined iris, Gabriel’s eyes were soft and expressive, rivers of silver running through pale blues. Maefyl’s eyes had been entirely black, but stirred with shades of blue as he looked at Gabriel. “We have a lot to talk about.”

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Filed under Nihil, story

RO : Epilogue : Big Happy Faces

“You should stick to noodles.” Kryss healed Nat’s fingers and kissed each one.

 “I wanted to make you something nice for a change.” Nat sighed. She had barely started cutting the vegetables when she sliced her fingers instead. “And Aurora should eat healthy food. She can’t just live on noodles and pizza.”

 “Natasha…” Kryss hugged her as she started to cry. “You know she doesn’t need to eat at all. You’re the one that needs to eat better.”

 “What’s the point?” Nat sobbed against him.

 “Why’s mommy crying?” Aurora tripped on her way into the kitchen and smiled up at he father from the floor.

 “Mommy is fine.” Kryss kissed Nat and picked up Aurora while Nat settled herself. Kryss smiled at his daughter as he sat her on the counter. “She mistook her fingers for carrots. We’re going to have to help with dinner.”

 “Okay!” Aurora snatched up one of the uncut carrots and started to munch on it. “What are we making?”

 “Something good I hope.” Taranis jumped up onto one of the stools on the other side of the counter and leaned across to poke Aurora until she turned to greet him. “Can I help with anything?”

 “Do you ever go home?” Kryss laughed.

 “More fun over here.” Taranis grabbed the recipe off the counter and tossed it back where he found it. “Ugh. That’s too much work. Lord Falcon coming?”

 “Nope.” Kryss tossed the kitchen knife and caught it before he went to work on the vegetables, winning a grin and applause from Aurora.

 “Show off.” Taranis rolled his eyes.

 “Daddy is awesome.” Aurora stuck her tongue out at Taranis before she grabbed a hand full of rice and started to crunch a mouthful of it. “This isn’t yummy.”

 “I haven’t cooked it yet.” Nat hugged Aurora and helped her to the floor. “Get the big silver pot for me.”

 “Noodle pot?” Aurora went to the cabinet wagging her fluffy tail.

 “Yep.” Nat nodded before she snuck a quick hug and whispered to Kryss. “Sorry.”

 “We’ll figure it out.” Kryss turned to the clatter of pots on the floor.

 “Whoops.” Aurora hit herself on the head with the noodle pot and made a goofy face. “Found it.”

 “Is clumsy catching or just inherited?” Taranis giggled.

 “I’m not clumsy.” Aurora announced proudly. “I’m creatively graceful.”

 “Just like mommy.” Kryss helped clean up the mess while Nat started the water for the rice.

 “How is this chicken?” Aurora poked at the pinkish slabs. “It doesn’t have feathers and it doesn’t look tasty.”

 “It’s chicken insides!” Taranis shifted behind her and tickled her.

“Eew.” Aurora giggled and turned around to bite his ear.

 As they made dinner together Kryss watched Nat force her smile. She had been so at peace with her nature until Aurora was born, now Kryss found her crying in the shower every morning. The idea of losing each other had been difficult enough, now that they were a family Nat struggled with her humanity every day.

 Nat leaned against Kryss as she ate. They laughed as Aurora insisted she feed Taranis every bite of his meal because she didn’t like the fact he wouldn’t hold his fork properly. The two of them had become inseparable so quickly and Taranis spoiled her every chance he could get. He gave her anything and everything she asked for and spent every minute he could spare with her. Nat could see Taranis wanted Aurora to grow up and with each passing day the way Aurora looked at him changed. Nat took comfort in knowing Aurora would always be loved and protected.

 “We should do this more.” Kryss licked his fork and tapped Nat on the nose with it. “It’s good.”

 “Better than jalapenos?” Nat snuggled closer and pushed their bowls aside.

 “Anything is better than those.” Kryss sneered. “Those were so disgusting.”

 “Probably better than crappy ex-boyfriend, too.” Taranis teased thoughtlessly.

 “Taranis!” Kryss shouted at him and hugged Nat tight. “Do you want to leave?”

 “I’m fine, Kryss.” Nat nuzzled against his neck. “I’m not bothered by it.”

 “What’s a boyfriend?” Aurora grinned at Taranis.

 “I’ll tell you when you’re all grown up.” Taranis tussled her har. “I’m in enough trouble.”

Breakseal

 Later that night Kryss let Nat fall asleep in his arms and he started to cry. He just did not want a life without her in it and he had to find some way to stop her daily tears.

 “Why are you sad, Daddy?” Aurora stumbled up onto the bed smearing paint everywhere as she clutched a colorful page in her hand. “You and mommy cry a lot.”

 “And you got into Mommy’s paint again.” Kryss smiled and wiped the paint off of her face.

 “I made you a present.” Aurora bounced closer to show off her work. “Its me and you and Mommy. See.”

 “I love it.” Kryss grabbed the edge of the page.

 “No, see!” Aurora pointed out her artistic genius. “Big happy faces.”

 “It’s beautiful, Aurora.” Nat stretched and yawned. “We’re going to hang that first thing in the morning. Right in the living room so everybody can see.”

 “Sorry I woke you up.” Aurora pouted. “I wish you could stay up with me.”

 “Me too, sweetie.” Nat smiled and hoped the big happy face hid the tears that made it hard for her to see.

 “Come here.” Kryss sat Aurora’s painting on the table beside the bed and pulled her up between them. “Take a nap with Mommy and you can help her clean up the mess you made in the morning.”

 “Yay!” Aurora snuggled up between them and Nat folded her arms around her amazing little girl before she quietly cried herself back to sleep. Kryss made the decision as he watched them sleep that he would go to Eidolon and beg for any solution to put an end to these tears.

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Filed under Restoring Order, story

RO : Epilogue : Beginnings

As some made the first steps to coexist as the Lords of Tsuriai, others were taking the first steps with more personal battles. Some confirming their love while others were regretting confessions they had made. A few of them were excited, nearly elated with their new seats of power while others struggled with the idea of bearing the weight of it.

 Raziel retuned to his estate expecting angry expressions but instead found all he loved gathered around a joyous event that he had very nearly missed all of. Frikk and Frakk were welcoming the first natural brood of fargoyles into the world.

 “Congratulations.” Raziel smiled at the proud parents as they cuddled together in the center of the bed. Eleven of their thirteen children clambered and fluttered about the room. “I am sorry I missed this.”

 “I’m glad you’re back.” Galik held Raziel in a tight embrace that conveyed his excitement for the room full of creatures as much as his relief for his Master’s safe return. His nervous grip on Raziel reflected in his thoughts that he had been frightened over Raziel’s departure and uncertain absence. Raziel returned the warm embrace and pulled Van into it. Holding them both as if they had been parted for months instead of hours.

 “Aren’t they amazing, Razzy?” Van squeezed him excitedly as he kissed Galik. She was amazed by the room filled with miniatures of Frikk and Frakk in a multitude of colors and so glad to be back in his arms. When Galik gave Raziel a moment to breathe, Raziel gave her a kiss just as passionate.

 “Ask him.” Shana whispered to Brig. “If it’s bothering you, just say something.”

 “Later.” Brig was kneeling at the edge of the bed, holding two of the eggs that hadn’t moved and Frikk had written off as unfortunate losses. He leaned across the bed to pet Frikk as he cradled the unborn. Shana rubbed the back of his neck sympathetically until Raziel replaced her fingers with his own. Brig looked up at him sadly. “These two won’t hatch.”

“They are still alive.” Raziel said quietly after running his fingers over the surface of each. He could sense that Brig was more upset over the potential loss then their own mother who was thrilled to see so many of their first birth survive. Raziel lifted each of them from Brig and held them tight to his chest before sliding down against the edge of the bed beside Brig. “I owe you an apology, puppet.”

 “Do they just need to be warmed up?” Brig was no where near ready to talk about what had happened between them and was more concerned over the eggs at present to concern himself with fault, blame and apologies. He bit his hand and rubbed the surface of each of the cold surface of each of the stones with what warmth his blood had left to offer. “It figures the two I thought were pretty had problems.”

 “You have every right to be angry with me.” Raziel was determined to make his apology. Once he made his efforts to help Frikk’s children he would have to take Brig to see Maefyl and he wanted to clear the air before then. “My actions have upset Maefyl as well, he wishes to speak with you.”

“He has my number.” Brig looked at Raziel crossly. He seemed determined to have the conversation Brig was trying to avoid. “Are you going to stay in Vex?”

 “I was given the option to resign.” Raziel told him as Brig continued to stroke the eggs hopefully. “I declined.”

 “Then I’m not angry.” Brig sighed and sat back against the side of the bed. “My hands are too cold to do any good.”

 “Hold them.” Raziel tucked the stone like eggs into Brig’s arms and pulled his face to his neck. “This will warm your hands.”

 Brig was too thirsty to refuse the offer and bit gratefully into the warm skin to let the offered blood warm his own. His addiction to Raziel’s blood had not been weakened in the slightest by the frustration over the crest burned into his arm. Brig only forced himself away from Raziel’s throat when he felt the stone shells in his arms start to crack. He smiled as a tiny clawed hand of black cracked through it’s obsidian prison to free itself and the crystal like egg shook violently as it’s occupant tried to escape. He was still smiling as Raziel wiped the blood from his lips and tried to ignore the seductive gesture.

 “Hey little guy.” Brig broke away a part of the hard shell and the black stone covered fargoyle crawled up the front of him stretching its wings and smiling. The second egg shattered into glimmering pieces of crystal as the demon inside it forced open her wings and stretched out in Brig’s lap.

 “So much better.” The crystal covered fargoyle blinked up at Brig and grinned. “You’re nice and warm. Give me a pretty name.”

 “I’m not the daddy.” Brig laughed and rubbed her stomach.

 “That’s an awful name.” The darker of the pair pulled at Brig’s shirt to issue his complaint. “Try again.”

 “Name them.” Raziel slid his arm behind Brig and reached over to the crest on his left arm to rub it with his thumb. “For the pain I caused you, I want you to keep these two with you.”

 “Only if they want to.” Brig tickled the quartz-like girl of the pair. “And if Demise is okay with it. She’s already got a claim on my shoulder.”

 “I don’t mind company.” Demise fluttered to Brig’s knee and smiled at the pretty new fargoyles. “Go for it.”

 “I’ll have to keep more snacks in the house.” Shana kneeled beside them excited not only over the prospect of having the fargoyles stay with them, but because she noticed Brig hadn’t pulled away from Raziel’s subtle attempt to hold him. She smiled, glad to see Brig had forgiven Raziel for the earlier attack.

 “Especially if they have appetites like their folks.” Van laid across the bed and poked Brig as she leaned over to get a better look at the runts. “So what are you going to call them?”

 “Cid and Tali.” Brig hugged them both to his chest and took their giggling and swinging tails for approval. “And I’m Brig. That’s Shana and Demise. Our place is not this nice.”

 As the newly named members of their odd family flapped their way over to Shana, she finished introductions. Brig watched a moment until he felt Raziel’s fingers shaking as they settled on his hip. Demise looked at Raziel and sighed before she fluttered off to play with the others.

 “I’m not into guys, Raziel.” Brig whispered and leaned against him. “I’m sorry but I can’t give you what you want. I know you could just take what you want, but…”

 “I will not.” Raziel tightened his arm around Brig and laid his other hand against his Brig’s chest. “Just let me have this moment. Will you still come to me for blood?”

 “You’re the boss, cupcake.” Brig lifted his wrist and looked at the crest a bit ashamed he had been such an idiot over it. “Especially now.”

 “I will need to take you to Maefyl.” Raziel closed his eyes a moment. “I want to get his lecture over with.”

 “Skip it. I don’t want to hear it either and they don’t want you to leave again.” Brig pulled out his phone and tapped out a quick message to Maefyl, avoiding the actual reason for it and instead focusing on the more mundane just to let him know he was alright. He told him they should get together soon and that they were celebrating the arrival of Frikk and Frakk’s children. He hoped it was enough to make Maefyl let it go for now. Raziel had seen the message and his reaction to the small favor was to pull Brig closer and slip his fingers into the collar of Brig’s shirt. Brig swallowed nervously and slid his phone away. “I’ll call him later and he can just scream at me, it was my fault anyway.”

 “I assume you all heard of the changes Lucifer made.” Raziel moved his fingers softly against Brig’s collarbone as he nodded nervously. From Brig’s thoughts Raziel knew Lucifer’s ghosts had called out over the realms to announce the new order of things and while they waited for Raziel to return they had crowded around Galik’s computer to look over some of the changes. Raziel heard other thoughts, Brig fighting with himself over conflicting ideas that bounced though his mind as he started to tremble. He was afraid to try and refuse Raziel’s touch. Scared of worse pain that Van warned him of, or worse that he would hurt Shana. Raziel was more amused by a simple thought that Brig tried to hide from as he repeated to himself over and over in his mind. ‘Don’t enjoy it.’

 “I do not want to hurt you.” Raziel slid his had beside Brig’s neck and pulled him to face him. “I said I would not force anything on you. I’ll be content with occasional embraces and your bite as your thirst needs quenching. Please do not think so ill of me.”

 Brig couldn’t make himself answer. He trusted Raziel, but he had always been a touch frightened of him. He hoped whatever Raziel saw in his head he understood that he didn’t hate him. Brig was so used to the blank expression that he found it hard to look into eyes that were filled with longing, captivating and expressive eyes that he knew could see into every part of him as he tried to gather his thoughts. He left them unspoken as he closed his eyes. ‘I can’t want this. Please, Lord Raziel, just don’t take more than my kiss.’

 “I’ll take nothing that you do not give me willingly.” Raziel let his lips brush against Brig’s as he whispered his promise. “As much as I want you, I love you too much to force my desire. I have done you enough harm.”

 Brig let himself fall forward into Raziel’s lips and twisted his fingers in Raziel’s shirt when the Watcher who now owned him accepted the gesture more passionately than Brig expected. Raziel held Brig and slipped his fingers into his short hair as he filled the vampires mouth with the heat of his own. Brig tried to hate himself for returning the caress of Raziel’s tongue but ended up as lost in their kiss as he had ever been in Raziel’s blood. Brig pulled himself closer without thinking and the Watcher made no attempt to hide his arousal over the passion Brig was allowing him.

 “Does he taste like cigarettes?” Galik put an abrupt end to their kiss with his question and Brig opened his eyes panicked as Galik grabbed his face and kissed his nose. Galik grinned as his tail lashed happily behind him. Raziel’s face was contented and Galik knew he had enjoyed the kiss. “He is all red now, Lord Raziel.”

 “Why did I do that?” Brig chided himself quietly and hid his face in his hands. Cid crawled onto his head and pried up a few of Brig’s fingers to look at him. Brig laughed. “Can I help you?”

 “What do cigarettes taste like?” Cid grinned at him.

 “Like a good idea.” Brig grabbed his cigarettes and lit one after Cid tumbled into his lap and Tali joined him there to watch the coils of smoke. “Don’t get any ideas, you are both too young for this.”

 “Well?” Demise asked from Shana’s shoulder and they all waited for some sort of answer. Some remark over what they had all seen.

 “Fuck.” Brig hung his head. “I’m sorry, Shana.”

 “Don’t be silly.” Shana smiled and cuddled up beside him. “It was fun to watch.”

 “You’re sick.” Brig put his arm around her and laughed as he pulled her close. “You know that, doll face?”

 “Say something, Razzy.” Van rubbed his shoulders as she laid behind him on the bed. “We aren’t all mind readers. Did you like it?”

 “You’re all sick.” Brig sighed and laid his head back against the bed. “Can I have just a shred of my dignity please? At least wait until I’m gone to kiss and tell, Raziel.”

 “I don’t tell secrets, puppet.” Raziel smiled as he ran a finger slowly over Brig’s lips. “I keep them.”

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RO : Zakesalek : The Falcon’s Wolves Pt.1

“Please stop crying, Natasha.” Kryss tucked away his phone and lifted her into his arms. “I hate it when you cry. I’ve asked Lord Falcon to come. He might know how to calm her down.”

“She hates me.” Natasha sobbed against his shoulder. “My little girl hates me.”

“She doesn’t.” Kryss sighed. “You both just need to calm down.”

“What has them so hysterical?” Eidolon stroked Kryss’ ears as he arrived. Nat was crying in his arms, her eyes red and swollen from weeping. Hers were not the only tears; Aurora was weeping behind the closet door. “Is Aurora alright?”

“Thank you for coming, Lord Falcon.” Kryss greeted him quickly and tried to explain the problem. “Aurora made her first change, neither of them have stopped crying.”

“I’m ugly.” Aurora yelled from the closet.

“You are not.” Kryss shook his head. “Why would you think that, Aurora. You are beautiful.”

“What’s wrong with her?” Karla asked quietly.

“Nothing at all.” Kryss sighed. “She’s perfect, but her natural change was not into a wolf and she’s upset.”

“I’m hideous.” Aurora sobbed loudly. “Taranis won’t like me anymore.”

“Will you please come out?” Kryss pleaded with her. “You’re being silly about this and you’re upsetting your mother.”

“She blamed me for it.” Nat cried. “It’s my fault that she is different.”

“What’s wrong with different?” Kaneko knocked on the door. “Kaneko is different. Kaneko is one of a kind. Can Kaneko come in and hide with you?”

“We shouldn’t have done…” Nat sobbed.

“Just stop.” Kryss kissed her sweetly. “Aurora is beautiful, she’s just upset.”

“I don’t want to be different.” Aurora wailed. “I want to be a wolf. I can’t be part of the pack now.”

“That’s not true.” Eidolon intervened and showed her the flaws in her logic. “This pack already had its unique members, your mother and Shiroi are loved and accepted, why would your differences keep you from belonging to this family. Everyone here loves one another for their differences.”

“Sorry I took so long, I was working with Dad.” Taranis ran in and greeted Kryss and Nat quickly before he joined Kaneko at the door. He tapped gently on the door. “Can I come in, Aurora?”

“Don’t upset her further Taranis.” Eidolon cautioned him against rushing in. “Let her come out on her own.”

“It’s alright, Lord Falcon.” Nat whispered. “I asked him to come. Aurora trusts Taranis, he has been amazing with her.”

“Aurora?” Taranis slipped inside the closet and closed the door behind him. She was in the corner weeping against her knees. The long, dark hair she had grown out like Levina’s draped over her shoulders and shielded her shame as she cried. Taranis sat close in front of her and rubbed her head. “What is all this crap about you being ugly?”

“I wanted to be like Daddy.” Aurora whimpered. “Like you. I look stupid. I’m never gonna change again.”

“Not even for me?” Taranis leaned over and hugged her. “You won’t even give me a chance to decide for myself?”

“You’ll laugh at me.” Aurora pouted. “It’s little and stupid. I’m going to be useless.”

“How about you show me?” Taranis pushed her hair back from her face. “I don’t know why you’re worried. You are too pretty to be crying like this.”

“Promise not to laugh?” Aurora pouted at him as she shrugged out of his embrace.

“Am I ever mean to you?” Taranis smiled. “Come on, I want to see why you’re upset.”

Aurora nervously changed and stepped onto his leg with her tiny claws as she looked up at him with her sad blue eyes. She had such a sweet face, and short pointed ears. Her dark blue eyes and dark blend of brown and black fur were shiny and soft. She slid off his leg and stumbled into his lap and Taranis grinned and he picked her up into his arms and stroked her ears. The little white silhouette of a bird, created the same white crest on the fur of her chest. Taranis smiled at her clumsy movement and needless worry as he kissed her short nose.

“You are so adorable.” Taranis cradled the tiny fox in his arms. “I love it.”

“Really?” Aurora’s fluffy tail started to wag. “You don’t think it’s awful?”

“Far from it.” Taranis licked the side of her face. “I think it’s positively fantastic.”

“But I’m not a wolf.” Aurora pouted. “I wanted to be able to…”

“Aurora, you are even better.” Taranis hugged her fluffy tiny form. “I like this. I think it suits you. I think we should go out and show off the packs cute little fox. You need to apologize to your Mom, too. No more tears over this. Promise?”

“Okay.” Aurora nodded her soft fluffy head and rubbed it against him as he stood and petted her.

“Beautiful little thing.” Taranis grinned as he opened the door and saw the relieved faces. “She’s alright, she just needed hugs.”

Over her short time with them, she had formed an amazing bond with Taranis. He spent all his free time with her and even though she was young, she was growing quickly and she was impressively talented. Nat had said the Aurora already looked to be six or seven in terms of humans; she was speeding through her youth faster than he and Levina had. While Nat seemed troubled by it, Taranis was thrilled. She was adorably clumsy like her mother, sweet, smart and emotional. And as Taranis had hoped since the day she was born, she adored him. When he carried her out of the closet he walked right to Nat and Kryss.

“I’m sorry, Mommy.” Aurora hopped into her arms and licked her face. “I didn’t mean to bite you.”

“It’s okay Aurora.” Nat was so relieved Taranis had managed to calm her down. “I love you. I think you look amazing.”

“Kaneko will tell you all about the benefits of being small!” Kaneko pet the dark fox in Nat’s arms. “You get to be sneaky with Kaneko!”

“Don’t be mad, Daddy.” Aurora returned to herself and hugged her parents. “I just thought no one would like me.”

“Everyone loves you, Aurora.” Karla smiled at her. “We might be a weird family, but we’re family.”

“I have to go back and help my Dad.” Taranis tugged Aurora’s hair. “I’ll come back later to hang out.”

“Can I just go with you?” Aurora turned and hugged his legs.

“I promise I’ll come back.” Taranis crouched and hugged her. He loved how quickly they had bonded. He only hoped it wasn’t a childish infatuation that faded when it mattered. He wanted a clumsy girl of his own to protect. “I can’t take you out for work, but I’ll take you out for snacks later and give your folks a break.”

“Thanks, Taranis.” Kryss lifted Aurora and squeezed her tight. She was such a pretty child and he hated seeing her upset as much as Natasha’s tears bothered him. He wished he had the same sway over her emotions as Taranis seemed to, but he was glad for their bond. “Tell Ansel I’m sorry for dragging you away.”

“No big deal, Uncle Kryss.” Taranis rubbed Aurora’s head and gave Kryss an affectionate goodbye. He took his place in Tsumi seriously enough that he wouldn’t leave his father waiting, but when it came to Aurora he would always come running when there was trouble. Once she was old enough he planned to stay with her as often as he possibly could. He had every intention on making good on his promise to protect his pretty little fox. “See you guys later. Bye Nat! Bye Lord Falcon and Friends.”

“Aurora, you are a remarkable little girl.” Eidolon figured he should do his part since he had come to help. Taranis had managed to diffuse the situation on his own, but to prevent further doubt in the girl he could give her the assurance that her differences were and asset, not a burden. “You are an impressive and welcome addition to the pack and all of our lives. You have no reason to ever doubt your place or your worth.”

“I’m not worth much.” Aurora pouted. “Mom wont let me fight, but thank you.”

“I don’t fight either.” Karla grinned at Aurora. “I can’t turn into a cute fox either. So I get the vote for weakest link. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“No more hiding in the closet unless you invite Kaneko to play!” Kaneko hugged Aurora and Kryss.

“If the crisis is over I think we will be heading off.” Eidolon smiled. “The week may become busy, I’m taking a few days before it does.”

“I’ll look after things.” Kryss nodded. “Thank all of you for taking the time.”

“I’m sorry I upset everybody.” Aurora hugged Kryss tight when everyone had gone. “I wanted to be like you. I thought if I could change…”

“You did and it’s awesome.” Nat squeezed the two of them. “If you really want to train with the others, I guess I’ll just get used to it. I just want you to have fun while you’re a kid.”

“I know.” Aurora smiled. “Can I try when I get bigger though?”

“Sure.” Nat grinned. “Until then let Luka and your Dad teach you the safe stuff and I’ll teach you how to make noodles.”

“Mmm.” Aurora giggled. “Can we make noodles now?”

“Lots of them!” Nat took Aurora out of Kryss’ arms and gave him a quick kiss before she carried her daughter off to the kitchen. “Want some Kryss?”

“Yea.” Kryss smiled and settled on the cushions in the main room. He knew that Nat was trying to give Aurora a happy childhood she felt she had been denied. He had no worries about postponing any training that made her uncomfortable. Aurora had plenty of time to learn, while Nat had little time to enjoy her daughter as a child. Little time to enjoy their family at all.

Kryss listened to the laughter in the kitchen and almost cried at the thought of those sounds of happiness disappearing. He wanted to enjoy Aurora’s youth as much as Natasha did, but he wanted to spend every second Nat had making her happy. He had started to consider options to rid them both of concerns over time, but the options were limited and gruesome and he wasn’t sure he could go through with it, so he hadn’t even mentioned them to anyone, he just tried to put them from his mind and accept he would be spending eternity without the one he loved. She had given him a beautiful daughter and he would make that his peace. He would always have a piece of her in his life.

“Noodles!” Aurora handed a cup with sticks in it to her Father and noticed him wipe at his eyes before he smiled. “Are you okay Daddy?”

“I am now.” Kryss stirred his noodles. “Let’s eat and go for a walk.”

“I want to go out with Taranis later.” Aurora slurped her broth as nat joined them for lunch.

“Then we’ll get you a cute new outfit to go out.” Nat offered. She hoped the shopping would cheer them al lout and she was glad Taranis had offered to take Aurora out for a bit. She wanted some time alone with Kryss after all the crazy changes. “Maybe I’ll get one and make your Dad take me out.”

“I would love to.” Kryss winked at her.

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RO : Everything In Its Place : The New Arrival Pt.2

“I feel weird.” Nat leaned up against Kryss as he held her in front of him. She took his hand and laid it on her stomach. “I think it’s moving. And I think I’m gonna…”

 “Ick.” Kryss rubbed her back as she lunged over the edge of the bed and threw up again.

 “Humans are so strange.” Luka grabbed more water for Nat and handed it to her as she sat back up. “Mistress Lilith, I can’t make her stop doing that.”

 “The feeling of the child moving is making you nauseous?” Lilith sat at the edge of the bed and pushed the hair back from Natasha’s face.

 “It kind of hurts.” Nat nodded.

 “Sorry, Nat.” Kryss hugged her and rubbed his head against hers. “I didn’t realize this was going to make you sick.”

 “Don’t be silly, Kryss.” Nat sighed. “I’ve seen human birth. This is nothing.”

 “Here.” Lilith pressed her fingertips to Nat’s stomach and numbed her to the tearing the child was doing as it tried to claw itself free. “The child is strong, and wants to rush this.”

 “I’m good with rushing.” Nat smiled and pulled Kryss’ arms tighter around her. “I want to see our baby.”

 “You wont be waiting long.” Lilith touched the sheets in front of them and rubbed the blood in her fingers.

 “Ick.” Kryss smiled and hugged her tighter.

 “I hope the two of you have decided on a name.” Lilith teased as she helped deliver the newest arrival to the pack and heal the mother in the process. “You have a beautiful girl.”

 “Aurora.” Kryss took the tiny girl in his hands and brought her to Nat’s chest as he kissed her cheek. “She’s perfect, Natasha.”

 “She’s so tiny.” Nat cried happy tears as the held their daughter together. Aurora clutched Nat’s finger and Nat giggled. She had skinny little fingers with sharp little claws. “Just like her Dad, but she has my ears.”

 “She has her ears.” Kryss corrected and smiled at the soft brown and black fur of her tail. She was a little mix up of perfection. She had the demon irises like his, but a darker blue like Natasha’s. They held her through the most noticeable sprint through a demon child’s growth, quickly going from a creature that barely fills an open hand to one they could cradle in their arms. Her hair, like the fur of her tail, was a blended mix of browns and black. Just a hint of both of them in every feature. Aurora was blessed with a wealth of magic and would grow as a demon, but there would always be a part of her that was human and they were looking forward to finding out what their love for each other had created. “She is so pretty. How are you feeling?”

 “Amazing.” Nat smiled at their daughter and could have sworn the girl smiled back. “And so happy.”

Breakseal

“What is it?” Kaneko shouted when she saw Luka.

 “So impatient, Mistress Kaneko.” Luka chuckled. “They’ll be out soon, I don’t want to spoil it.”

“Such a beautiful little thing.” Lilith smiled as she sat close to Lucifer. “Kryss is simply glowing over this.”

 “Does it look like Nat or Uncle Kryss?” Taranis asked nervously. He had been anxiously looking forward to the arrival since they were told.

 “Does it matter?” Levina giggled.

 “Is this a birthmark?” Nat rubbed at the white mark between Aurora’s collarbones, like the silhouette of a bird in flight.

 “Yea, Like the bands on Levina’s wrists and Taranis’ ankles.” Kryss walked into the room with his family smiling proudly. He hadn’t realized they had so much company waiting and he flushed from their smiles and applause when he picked up Natasha and carried her over to the cushions to relax. They were instantly swarmed and the pups started to push him out of the way. “Hey! Be careful.”

 “It’s a girl!” Taranis grinned excitedly as he pulled the blanket open. “She’s like a tiny Nat with a tail!”

 “She’s so pretty.” Levina’s tail wagged behind her as she crawled closer to get a better look.

 “I want to hold her!” Karla leaned over Nat’s shoulder and smiled at the baby.

“Can we maybe hold her for a few minutes first?” Kryss laughed as he was completely pushed out of the circle surrounding Nat and Aurora. “Or not.”

 “Me first.” Taranis insisted as he held out his arms to Natasha hopefully. “What’s her name?”

 “Aurora.” Nat smiled and reluctantly gave up her motherly embrace as Taranis took the tiny girl in his arms. “Don’t chew on her please.”

 “I won’t.” Taranis smiled at the tiny new member of their pack. “I’m going to take care of her forever.”

 “That’s my job.” Kryss smiled up at him.

 “Only until she grows up.” Taranis grinned as he rocked the new little wolf in his arms. “Then I’ll protect her.”

 “Taranis don’t be weird.” Levina stood in front of him. “Let me hold her.”

 “Nope.” Taranis kissed Aurora’s forehead as he walked past his sister. “Aunt Karla asked first.”

 “She asked before you.” Levina smacked at him with her tail as he handed Aurora to Karla.

 “My baby is going to grow up before I see her again.” Nat pouted.

 “Don’t worry.” Kryss crawled over and kissed her now that the obstacles had moved along with Aurora. “I’ll kick them all out in a little while.”

 Maefyl was entirely grateful the room full of thoughts were all happy ones. It would have been a miserable moment for him otherwise. He laid his head in Gabriel’s lap and let him stroke his hair while he tackled the task of sorting through the sudden explosion of emotional thoughts in the room.

 Kaneko and Karla took dozens of pictures to send to Asura and Shana. Taranis sat beside each person that held Aurora, never taking his eyes off of the new addition he was swearing to protect. Kryss held Nat in front of him while they sat with Ansel and Luka, accepting their congratulations and advice while Aurora won popularity contests across the room.

 “Everybody shush! Kaneko has to call somebody.” Kaneko purred as she held her phone to her ear and shouted into it when it was answered. “Hi… It’s a girl!”

 “Is that your father?” Lucifer held out his hand to ask for the phone.

 “Lord Lucifer wants to talk to you.” Kaneko handed over the phone without waiting for Kage’s answer.

 “Is there some reason you don’t want to speak to me now, Kage?” Lucifer taunted him for his attempt to refuse a word with him. Kage was still visiting with the Wyrms, Lucifer heard Shiroi’s comment and decided to ignore it. “We’ll discuss you hurting my feeling later, make sure you come and congratulate Kryss on your own.”

 After Kage tried to smooth things over with Shiroi, Lucifer tossed the phone to Kaneko and stroked Lilith’s hair. She was fawning over the child in Eidolon’s arms as she had over Taranis and Levina. Trying to hide a secret misery behind her smile, but he saw through it. He was not the only one who saw it. Heard through it.

 “Where are you going?” Gabriel whispered and pulled Maefyl to him as he sat up suddenly.

 “Just give me a minute.” Maefyl kissed his cheek and crossed the room. Among the other thoughts one crawled into his mind and tormented him. His mothers regret. Her guilt over the separation from her Master making her a terrifying mother and her remorse that they were denied these tender moments, denied the simple joy of being a family. She never had her Masters arms around her as she held her child. Maefyl pushed himself between them and hugged Lilith to him before he grabbed Lucifer by the shirt and pulled him close. Lilith quietly wept against Maefyl’s shoulder as she embraced him, realizing he had heard her thoughts and was trying to give her exactly what she had missed. “I love you, Mother.”

 “Does this mean we are through with bickering?” Lucifer wrapped his arms around the both of them and he spoke quietly to Maefyl.

 “I highly doubt that.” Maefyl smiled. “But I guess I love you, too.”

 “Awkward.” Karla laughed and cuddled beside Eidolon.

 “It’s sweet.” Sanguine pushed her way out of Maefyl’s hair and poked at Lucifer’s neck. “But could you please not squish me?”

 “My apologies.” Lucifer laughed and loosened his embrace, letting Maefyl continue to console Lilith. Maefyl’s gesture would at least ease her worries over the way they had been arguing again. Lilith was always miserable when the two of them were at odds with one another. “We should probably let the parents enjoy their accomplishment.”

 “We don’t mind company.” Nat gave him a warm appreciative smile. “I just want to get Aurora back at some point.”

 “Master Eidolon is hogging all the Aurora time.” Kaneko giggled. “He did that with the other pups too.”

 Nat giggled and hugged Kryss around his neck. Having Aurora referred to as one of the pups was such a relief. Everyone was so taken with her and she shared at least some of the features of the pack.

 “Can I hold her again?” Taranis reached for Aurora smiling. “Before Uncle Kryss makes everyone leave?”

 “A few minutes Taranis.” Kryss was glad to see the pups were accepting Aurora. “Then I would like to hold my daughter if no one minds.”

 “I will share all of my snacks…” Taranis ignored Kryss as he started talking to the baby. He walked around the room holding Aurora and telling her sweetly that he would always look out for her, always be there for her. He smiled and told her how beautiful she was as she held his fingers. Only Maefyl heard the more sincere promises and the thoughts Taranis voiced in hopes the girl in his arms would understand. ‘Grow up fast, Aurora. So I can make you love me.’ Everyone started to say their goodbyes while Taranis made every effort to avoid doing so. When everyone else had departed Taranis finally let Kryss take Aurora, but he leaned to kiss her cheek one last time before he said good night.

 “Aren’t you just a popular little girl?” Kryss smiled at Aurora as he closed the door and held her to his chest and let her head rest on his shoulder. “I wasn’t sure they were gong to give you back.”

 “This sucks, I’m exhausted.” Nat yawned. “I wanted to stay up and hold her.”

 “Come to bed.” Kryss put his free arm around her and led her down the hall. “You’ve had a long day. I’ll just hold you both and you can take over when you wake up.”

 “Kryss.” Nat crawled up beside him and started to cry as she reached up and touched Aurora’s face. “You’ll make sure she’s always okay, right?”

 “We both will.” Kryss kissed Nat on the top of her head and pulled her close beside him. He knew what had her bothered and it scared him just as much. “Get some rest, Nat.”

 “I mean when I’m gone.” Nat smiled sleepily at Aurora as she started to drift off. “I want her to always be happy.”

 “You saw how much everyone loved her.” Kryss rubbed Nat’s hair as she started to fall asleep. “She won’t have time to be unhappy. Go to sleep, Natasha. I love you.”

 “Goodnight, Kryss.” Nat yawned and made herself comfortable in his arm. “Goodnight, Aurora.”

 Kryss was still and quiet until he was sure Nat was asleep. He held her gently and smiled over the family in his arms. Aurora cooed and laughed when he teased her with funny faces. “What am I going to do about your mommy, Aurora? We have to do something. I can’t let her go.”

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