Sparks, by Wren
Melody had been old. Her bones had creaked, her joints had barely worked, and cold weather had made it nearly impossible to get around. Then her daughter - just as young as she had last seen the little thing, barely 22 - showed her the papers, and explained everything. Melody was too old to opt for having a vampire child, but her Sarah had told her that having family members who were vampires helped.
There was a terrible burning, now, at the back of her throat. But every part of her body obeyed her perfectly, and that was more than enough.
Steve curls in his mate's arms, exhausted enough that he almost believes he could sleep. "Charles?"
"Do you have anywhere you need to be today?"
There's a brief pause that Steve recognizes as Charles sorting through what he can put off. "No."
Steve's eyes close. "Thank you."
Jenny hesitated at the edge of the room, swallowing some venom that had come with the stress. The club was better-lit than she had expected, and so she had her eyes glued to the ground. Meeting her mate's eyes across a crowded room had seemed so romantic when it had just been in theory, but in practice...
How would Mom feel? Meeting someone in a club, then spending literally the rest of eternity with whomever. And I don't know anything about who it'll be, even if it will be male or female (she vaguely wishes she weren't bisexual here, though there isn't much weight behind the sentiment). And do I really want to be with someone I met in a club?
Jenny decided to leave and glanced around for the exit before going completely still at the vision in front of her.
"Hi," says the woman with the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. "I'm Linda."
"I don't want to die yet." There was so much in that tone. Part of it was what Amanda had expected of any person with a terminal disease, the simple, obvious desperation, a literally hopeless desire. Another part was surprise, as if Genevieve had thought she had shed the desire to live when she shed any hope of living.
Amanda put a hand over Genevieve's. "I can help."
Gwen had finished her degree. She and her mate had all the time the world could offer to do anything and everything, as long as neither did anything stupid enough to attract the Golden Coven. She had never understood people who complained at the rules; they were much laxer than anything she'd dealt with as a human. This was her first time out without some sort of chaperone.
So, naturally, she was climbing Mt. Everest barefoot.
Whenever anyone asked why, she just shrugged. "Why not?"
James noticed the woman looking at him, and managed half a smile before she was by his side.
"Oh. Uh," he stammered. She just smiled at him. She was surprisingly forward, which he found himself liking, and beautiful enough to bring to mind legends of sirens and mermaids. James did not yet know why his mind kept skipping to creatures that lure young sailors to their death.
"My name is Victoria."
Blood & Gold IV: Fall of Volterra
Ingrid jumped over the back of the couch to see how Carl's game was going. "Oh, hey, you got the good ending. Nice!"
"Eh, whatever," Carl said with an eye roll. "The good ending's never canonical."
"It was in the first one."
"Yeah, until you found out the characters you were playing were the villains in the later games. And they dropped hints at that throughout, too."
Ingrid paused, still not sure if there existed a right way to start this conversation. "So... if you could be a vampire, like in the games... would you be?"
Once, on a snowy winter night in a land Fay had not visited in decades, her mother had built her a fire to keep the both of them warm. Fay had pretended to sleep so her mother would, but had cracked her eyes open soon after to watch the merry crackle of the fire.
Addy seemed focused on using the fire Fay could conjure to destroy or make large changes: to melt metal, to cage vampires with a ring they could not penetrate, to sever things from a distance. More for show than anything else, since technology could do most of that and other witches could do the rest, but apparently, "Fay tastes spicy, like good curry," and Addy seemed to find the developing flavor as interesting as Fay's developing power. Something about the flavors not having blended yet.
Fay called a little fire to her hand and watched it crackle, meditating on it. Then, because Addy wasn't wrong about everything, she created a spark across the room to light a candle.
They wandered through another hallway in another hospital. Between dying patients, he said, with reverence and humor, "You never give up, do you?"
"Of course not." Plain as day, no arguments possible. "There are still people to save."
"You can't be serious."
"Come on! It'd be fun."
Maria rolled her eyes at Peter. "You realize we would have to practice the routine, right? And you'd have to be around me for that?" Maria had just barely learned to tolerate Peter's sickly-sweet stench, and she knew he had more trouble. "And if I sweat, it's going to get stronger."
Peter shrugged and smiled. "Still. How many skating pairs in the games do you think are going to have a wolf and a vampire?"
His eyes had lit up in that determined little way that reminded Maria of her son talking about activating, and she knew it would be more trouble than it was worth to argue. She sighed. "Do you have a song picked out yet?"
Kelsey knew it was horribly clichéd to have her mind changed about becoming a vampire simply because some boy who looked her age and was over twice that had mated on her, but he was sweet and she liked him and didn't want him hurt and he was kissing her -
Kelsey had sprinted to where she could get blood, first thing, and found that a vampire sprinting was rather impressive. Not just in terms of speed, but in how clear absolutely every detail remained; even while sprinting she could have counted each individual thread on every piece of clothing she passed.
And even now, weeks later, if she cared to she could still count them all, even distracted by the lazy circles her mate drew with his fingers on her back. Though, granted, the threads were far from a high priority.
Michael spent exactly 52 hours, 8 minutes and nine seconds doing nothing but paint Fay holding a consistent flame in her hand before it occurred to either of them that they had mated.
"Here, I want to show you something," Lionel said, holding Raven's hand.
"What is it?" Raven asked a little blearily, the hybrid having woken up a few minutes before she normally would.
"You remember last summer, when you woke up early enough to see all the flowers?"
"Yeah," Raven said, stretching. "Too bad they all close at night."
Lionel smiled at her. "I planted a garden. Come on, this is fun to watch."
She stepped in to a circle of bushes and promptly stopped. There must have been hundred of flowers, and every one was opening to greet the moon.
Addy stood in the woods and watched the little witch work. Jane? She thought she'd heard the leader call her that.
Addy knew of the Volturi, and knew exactly how constricting getting tied up with them would likely be. Jane would be one flavor, and the risk might deprive Addy of so many more.
The copycat watched the torturer. Addy's hand twitched.
The other flavors were theories, while Jane was here, now, tempting, going to be gnawing at the back of her mind until she just -
Addy touched Jane's skin. It was briefly satisfying to know the flavor, and then she had a fraction of a second to realize why Jane was turning, which meant they hit each other rather than just Jane hitting Addy.
Jane screamed, Aro was interested, and the rest was Addy's game of speed chess.
"Amanda, you look..." pristine, Lila wanted to say. Not just as if she hadn't aged a day, but as if she had never really aged at all. Grown, yes. Amanda was clearly and adult. But when they were in school together, Amanda had had freckles, scars. She had been beautiful with them, more beautiful, Lila thought. Now all the little imperfections living life had given her were just...gone. "Stunning," Lila settled on, if only because it was the literal truth.
"It doesn't make sense to be so devoted to anyone," his hard-eyed Jillian states.
"And yet I am." Lyle is just as unmoved, though the wolf and she had started at different places.
"Then you want me to be with you forever, due to some random bit of magic that's floating around?" She jabs his chest with her index finger, and neither of them comment on the fact that the action hurts her finger more than anything else.
"I would like to be with you forever. Should you desire otherwise, tell me so and I will go. Regardless of what you decide, I felt you deserved to know."
Jillian's mouth twists, and Lyle can't tell if she's suppressing a smile or a scowl. "The only way for us to be together forever is if I turn into a vampire. What if I mate on someone?"
"That's never happened before, so I find it unlikely. I also do not need to be with you romantically at all. Should you desire no partner, or one or more partners who are not me, I would not take offense. I want to be with you, and I want you to live." Lyle had compared how awful vampires smelled to how he thought he would feel if Jillian died, and decided the discomfort was more than worth it.
Jillian stares at him for a moment, then throws up her hands. "Go away. I need to think about this on my own."
Lyle nods. "Please call me when you decide."
"What, should I whistle?"
He smiles. "I believe most would use a phone. But if I hear you whistle, I will come running."
It wasn't quite the same as it should have been, Alice knew. Elspeth had happened upon a few snatches of memory around her life, a precious few second-hand, and all the rest third- or fourth-hand. It wasn't the same as knowing, as remembering.
But when she spoke to what remained of her family, sometimes it was enough to have any link.
"But... you said we were mates." Kelly's brow furrowed a bit, trying to maintain her confusion because the alternative was more than she wanted to deal with, more than she could deal with. "Shouldn't I... feel something?"
Trent, if that was even his real name, shrugged. "I lied. Wanted to see if it could get past Edward, if you believed it."
Joham watched the human women closely enough to get in their beds, but never bothered much beyond that. If someone had asked, he might have compared it to picking a lock. One might be skilled at picking locks, and, in fact, might even enjoy the activity. But in the end, as soon as the door was unlocked, one moved through. He wanted a child. If he broke a few lockpicks that would hardly last a few decades anyway, it was annoying, nothing more.
The subway had about as many people as it always did, though Dahlia noticed that there were steadily increasing numbers of wolves, hybrids, and vampires on her daily commute. She wasn't any herself yet, but she'd always been able to spot them. When she was about twelve, she'd decided turning could wait either until she was 25 or until someone decided she was the center of the universe.
Given that she traveled the subway every day, the fact that she ended up turning at 23 was not that much of a surprise.
Maggie sat by Gianna and tried to give what comfort she could. Gianna was in pain. Maggie knew how much pain because it was her first clear memory, screaming beyond anything coherent. But she had been alone.
Maggie remembered overhearing Emmett speak of his turning, how Rosalie and Carlisle had made it easier, because he'd known he had someone. She'd hoped to help, and tried singing, because Alice said Gianna would like it -
"Make it stop," Maggie was stuck in her memories of her own turning, wishing she could take the pain, because anything was better than watching her mate go through this. "I never asked you for anything - anything - this is the one thing I want - if you love me -"
Maggie hurt. She spilled truth, barely even paying attention to the words, just trying to help any way she could. "It's almost over," Maggie said desperately, then tried singing again.
Allirea was unfaded for the moment, and Adam couldn't decide which was weirder: the normally outgoing Mark sitting alone at his table - when she was faded - or a wolf half-successfully ignoring his imprint like this. Adam hadn't even known one could exude complete devotion without appearing to pay attention, but he supposed Mark had gotten a few years' practice.
Then Allirea saw Adam looking and she wasn't important.
Steve had been a peculiar case. He, personally, wasn't that old of a vampire, but he still occasionally showed habits of a much earlier age, simply because the one who had turned him had been so old.
That was the entire reason he had been turned, actually. A guest in Alex's home had been injured too badly for mundane means. So Alex... healed him.
Edward, perhaps, understood how Carlisle felt when he left Esme. Mindreader, and all that. Esme had wondered, occasionally, if that had helped. Knowing that someone knew how you felt, and why you felt it, even if they couldn't fully empathize.
She didn't know if she felt a little more for Edward and Jasper was because they had needed more help staying off humans - needed her as a mother in a way neither Alice nor Bella did - or because either of them would understand.
Melody knew that the universe would keep surprising her, that she would find more fantastic things that she would hardly be able to believe. She recognized that she had endless years in which to see whatever she wanted to, and that everything would keep turning, shifting, changing, like a diamond showing a new facet, like a child growing, like nothing any metaphor could do justice.
But still, she believed that being the first to walk barefoot on the moon was one of the most amazing things she'd ever feel.