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Valour and Blood || 3.3
“What took you so long?”
Valeria curled up smaller as the three giants’ footsteps reverberated through the walls and made her hiding place quake.
“We were just having breakfast.”
“God, you look a mess.” Alasdair put his hands on his hips, eyeing Morgan’s dirty uniform and marked face. Tiny lines of dried blood criss-crossed his cheeks and knuckles. “Just got back?”
“Aye.” Morgan shouldered past Ross, who swiftly moved to close the door and follow him into the kitchen. Morgan landed heavily in a chair, regarding Ross with a tired smile. “Don't suppose you have any of that left do you?” he asked, nudging Alasdair’s bowl. “I'm famished.”
“O-of course. Let me just…” Ross’ voice caught as he noticed the thimble - still resting by his own bowl in plain sight.
He was not so lucky that Morgan overlooked it. Ross winced as Morgan reached to pluck it up, leaving a tiny pu
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Literature
Valour and Blood || 3.2
One morning, near dawn, Erica wandered out to the sitting room to find Roman and half the company crowded over a table. As she shuffled closer, she got a glimpse of what they were poring over: a supply list and rough designs, prices tallied below. There was a buzz of activity different than the usual gatherings. It was enough that she couldn't pass it by, not knowing.
"Roman," she mumbled. "What is all this?"
Roman looked up, brightened, and quietly excused himself to speak with her aside.
"Thought you would never wake up," he chuckled.
Erica did not smile. "What are they all doing here? What's happening?"
Roman took a breath. "King Amos is willing to forgive our past crimes in exchange for our expertise."
Her eyes widened. She had feared it would come to this. "You're not a soldier, Roman. You have no place making a deal like that!"
"It's already done," he said. "Besides, we have experience taking down giants when we must… what difference will it make to take down a few more on
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Metamorphosis || FOUR :iconobsess-confess:Obsess-Confess 12 5
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Valour and Blood || 2.28 :iconobsess-confess:Obsess-Confess 20 19
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Valour and Blood || 2.27
Ross awoke in the same position, curled up facing the wall. A part of him, frozen from the poisonous sedative, expected to find Valeria just now tumbling from his grasp, and soldiers looking on as an audience, armed and ready. 
His hand twitched shut around empty air, and Ross immediately struggled to fight off the awful morning-after effects of the Kiss. 
"Val?" He rasped. "Valeria?"
In the time he'd been out, there was no telling what they'd done with her. His own voice echoed in the dungeon, making his heart race at the implications. She might've already been dead. 
Ross twisted about with some struggle, rolling around to face the other side of the dungeon. He was not alone.  
"You look worried," Rionny declared. He stood well past the white boundary, but Ross felt that the tension in his chains had been doubled. The bastard wasn't taking any chances. 
"You," his weak voice managed a growl at the sight of him. "Where is she?"
“Oh, Valeria?” Rionn
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Patrick woke at dawn in a hot sweat.

Breathing hard, he threw the quilt covers off of him, half-expecting to see the sheets soaked with blood. Instead, they were damp with perspiration and… something else. He squinted at the blackout blind, seeing the light beginning to creep around the edges from his floor-to-ceiling window. A dull pain wracked his arm - he had been sleeping with his weight on it and now it was tingling in protest.

There was no way he was going to try and nestle down in those sheets again. The clock by his bed beeped, making him jump as it proclaimed the time: 5:00am. An hour before he had to get up for work.

With a heavy sigh, he dragged himself out of bed and, naked, padded to the shower. Flashes of the dream assaulted him as the warm water pounded against his back. The still, silent forest. The strange clothes adorning him. The grassy earth under his head as he was pinned to the ground and-

“What the fuck is wrong with me?” he murmured to himself.

A dream. It was only a dream. Dreams didn't have to mean a damn thing. It was just the result of having spent too much time cooped up in DEMFAC with lunatics and man-eaters.

The best thing he could do was put on his uniform and forget it ever happened.





"Red?"

Patrick blinked, finding himself back on his hoverpad in the late afternoon. Summer had left to consolidate her notes from the day, and Jüren guards were changing shifts. It was quiet in Block A, apart from the bated breath of the man before him.

"I'm sorry," Patrick muttered, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "You were saying something and I…"

"You straight up went catatonic for a second," Thomas finished for him. "You'd think you were the one being fried for thirty fucking minutes a day."

He laughed breathily. “I just have a lot on my mind, is all. What were you saying?”

“Nothing interesting, apparently.”

He sighed and stretched, rising out of his chair and sauntering across the tiny space with his fingers interlinked above his head. He had a ponderous gait that never failed to remind Patrick of a big cat, a caged leopard.

“Hey, when was the last time they let you out for some fresh air?” Patrick wondered after a time.

Thomas pursed his lips. “I don’t know. Last month maybe?”

“Last month?” Patrick shook his head. “This place, man…”

The giant only smiled, smoothing down his shirt when he lowered his thick arms. “You fancy escorting me out to the yard?”

“Funny.”

“They used to do that, you know,” he continued. “At my old place anyway.”

“Yeah, well, blame Health and Safety for me not doing that,” Patrick scoffed. “I should tell one of the big guys to come and get you…”

“I’m happy right here.” His eyes locked with Patrick’s. “I’d rather talk to you.”

As he laid one of those massive hands over the crackling barrier, Patrick felt the ghost of Thomas's touch along his arms. The vividness of it made his mouth turn dry.

It was as though Thomas could read him like a book. "What's the matter with you?"

"I'm worried about you," the words came tumbling out. It was another moment before Patrick realized he truly meant them.

"That's adorable."

Thomas was smirking, but Patrick challenged him with a grim stare. "Summer almost has what she needs from you. I'm not sure if they'll bring someone else in after she's done with you or--" He cut off and let the silence say the rest.

The giant dropped his head, nodding in understanding. “I don’t know why you give a shit, Red. It’s all the same to you whether I live or die.”

“No it’s not,” Patrick shot back. His knuckles were white on the hovercraft railing. “Look, I care what happens to you. Despite what they all say… I feel like I know you. I know you want to change. I don’t want you to die because…”

He trailed off as Thomas’s eyes returned to him, intense in their regard. He swallowed and scowled down at his hands. “Never mind,” he murmured.

“What?”

“No.” He shook his head, a humourless laugh leaving him. “I mean- god, this is unprofessional…”

“Am I going to have to report you?” Thomas was grinning again. Trying to set him at ease. Somehow he knew exactly what Patrick was feeling, he was sure of it.

“I-” An idea struck. Glancing around furtively, Patrick saw no one in the corridor. There was no one around to see them.

No one to see him turn off the recording equipment in Thomas’s cell.

“This is crazy,” Patrick muttered. He hit the control on the screen before him. Thomas flinched and peered upwards as the cameras in each corner of the cell beeped and went out.

He could kill you. He could fucking kill you.

Nonetheless, Patrick lowered security on the electro barrier so the hoverpad could push right on through before he could carefully mull over his insane impulse. Thomas staggered back in surprise to avoid a collision between them, crashing down onto his cot with a grunt.

"Holy fuck, Patrick. A little warning would be-"

"Lay down," Patrick interrupted. He cleared his throat, willing his voice not to shake. Thomas just stared. "Lay down, Thomas, please. I have to restrain you."

The giant obeyed after another moment of confusion, allowing the cuffs to click into place in their usual positions.

"What is this?" Thomas asked. There was no suspicion in that rumbling voice, only curiosity, the kind that could have belonged to a child.

He trusts me more than anyone.

"I'm tired of raising my fucking voice. And… I-I just know we're not going to have much longer when this is finished, to talk like normal people." Patrick leveled the hoverpad to the side of the cot, next to the thin band that circled over Thomas's neck.

"Normal," Thomas said, smiling sadly. "I'm strapped to a table, Red. About as much normal in that as dancing with a cadaver."

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “I wish I didn’t have to, but…”

“I know.”

The giant shifted his weight as much as he was able, turning his head towards the ceiling. Patrick stared with unabashed appreciation of the strong line of his jaw, his curved lips and the lashes that were so inexplicably attractive. With one hand gripping the rail, Patrick lowered himself off the hoverpad and onto the taut fabric of the cot.

“Don’t move too suddenly,” he breathed. “I’m right here.”

A vein pulsed in Thomas’s neck, just above the electrode embedded in his skin, and his eyes flickered to the left. His nostrils flared briefly, and Patrick knew he could smell him better than he could when there was a barricade between them.

“Why did you turn off the cameras?” he asked softly.

Patrick paused in the shadow of his shoulder. “I’m not supposed to get this close. If anyone saw, there’d be trouble.”

More like a death sentence, a little voice chirped in the back of his head.

Short gusts of air breezed over his head. Thomas looked as breathless as he felt, trying in vain to get a good look at him.

"You can touch me, if you want."

The mere permission had his heart racing. Already, he was close enough to feel that wonderful Jüren body heat rolling off Thomas's skin in waves. Defensive, he shook his head at once. "I'm n-not here to manhandle you. What do you take me for, really?"

"It's alright," Thomas crooned. "I know you're not like the others. Go on, please."

Though Patrick dithered, the temptation was ultimately too strong to resist. Taking a deep breath, he squeezed his eyes shut and closed the distance between them completely. He spread his palm flat against Thomas’s neck.

He gasped. The sheer power of the giant's body heat banished the chill the heavily air-conditioned block instilled on his fingers. More than this, Patrick could feel the hot blood seething beneath the skin. He swore the pulse quickened at his touch.

“Whoa…” he murmured. Without instruction his hands wandered freely, raising the minute hairs in their follicles and tracing freckles as big as his own eyes.

Patrick almost jumped out of his skin when Thomas chuckled. “You don't get up close and personal with us big guys often, do you?”

“The officers here occasionally give me lifts.” He managed to recall, amid his concentration, Nadine’s enormous presence as she saved him a long walk across the facility every once in a while. “But that's hands only.”

Thomas hummed, a rich vibration that made Patrick's fingers dance on his skin. "Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time a human came this close to me. Without taze sticks and those little triggers you boys are so fond of."

"It's okay, though?" Patrick was suddenly meek and double guessing, as if he might be making the titan uncomfortable. But the hint of a smile on those full lips said anything but.

"It's amazing," Thomas countered. A rumble ran through the bed. Hands clinking against their bonds. "Don't you trust me enough to touch you, too, Patrick?"

Patrick let the silence ring in his ears. He thought if he ignored the plea, Thomas might drop the subject. He should have expected that Thomas would surprise him once more.

"We both know you're dying for it. Aren't you? You want my hand around you, making you feel small." The lips pulled into a smirk. "I bet you're getting hard just thinking about it, aren't you? And now, nobody has to know."

Patrick shook his head like a petulant child. Thomas's musk clouded his thoughts like a fog. He eyed the chained hand so much further down the cot. Even his hands were beautiful.

"I know you're more capable of change than they know," Patrick said breezily, letting his hand drift upwards towards the stubbly underside of the giant's jaw, like he was petting a tiger. "I trust you enough to be here. Isn't that enough?"

Thomas seemed distracted himself, eyes closing lazily when Patrick smoothed his palm along that hard jawline. “What danger could you possibly be in here?” he asked. “I can barely even turn my head.”

He had a point. But still… Patrick glanced over at the tablet on the hovercraft. “I know how I can tell for sure whether you'll try something.”

Thomas scoffed gently. “Feel free to whip out the lie detector if you want,” he said. “But I think you already know I won't hurt you.”

“Really.”

Thomas flexed his hands and offered a reassuring smile. “We have to stop with the pretences, Red. I'll just come out with it. I like you. Maybe more than I should. Doesn't that make all the difference?”

Patrick considered him. He knew better than most - maybe more than anyone - the danger that pretty face could hide. Lord only knew how many times he'd watched him lie to Summer's face. But there was something decidedly pleading beyond that kind smile that made Patrick falter. It was sad; a loneliness that resonated with Patrick too.

And suddenly, it became amply simple. Neither of them should be alone any longer.

After one more glance around for stray human guards making their rounds, he stepped back onto the hoverpad. His heart was oddly calm as he pressed a white, shaking finger to a section labeled MANUAL RESTRAINTS, when it should have been pounding. One cuff around Thomas's hand gave a hiss and retracted back into the cot.

Faster than he could comprehend, the giant had taken advantage. Thomas lashed the hand towards him. Darkness and pressure and rushing air came as he was whisked away effortlessly.

He had truly believed that man, that murderer wouldn't hurt him. Stupid, stupid, stupid-

He couldn't see a thing, but as the air turned warmer and humid, he had an idea where he was headed.

"Thomas, d-don't--" he choked off. The enormous hand wasn't squeezing him. There was ground beneath his feet again, rising and falling. Warm.

“Didn’t I tell you, Red?”

Patrick, shivering, staggered to his knees as the enormous voice rattled through him - from the ground straight into his skin. Thomas’s hand was relaxed behind him; he was in no danger of being snatched up again. A brief glance down made him realise that his knees were resting in thick, grey fabric. As he watched, it moved again.

“You’re safe with me,” Thomas finished softly.

Patrick whipped his head around to face the voice. All he could see of the giant’s head was the marble underside of his jaw. The silver cuff around his neck glinted in the light. Still shaking from head to toe, the human dragged himself upright and half-walked, half-stumbled over the hillock that was Thomas’s chest.

A nervous laugh erupted unbidden from him as he spread his arms for balance. “You scared the shit out of me,” he breathed.

When he staggered, Thomas's hand was there to break his fall.

"Sorry. I'm tired of talking," he rumbled by way of explanation. "Too damn much of it around here."

Patrick swallowed hard and nodded. His chest was still tight, as though his body was still wound up and ready for a near death experience. He looked to his right, where his hand was braced so casually along the back of Thomas's hand.

How had he come to this point? Sitting on the fucking chest of the world's most horrific serial killer to date?

Something powerful stirred in him as he let his hand slide along the index finger. Right down to the tip, over the fingernail and back down to the knuckles - each as large as his head. He let his eyes flutter shut, feeling the power in that hand while Thomas lay there, letting him.

Patrick breathed. His head was in the lion’s mouth right now, but his fear was strangely taking a backseat. Still his hands trembled as they traced the much larger one supporting him.

“Just relax, Patrick,” Thomas purred. There was no hiding anything from him. “You know I’m not gonna do anything to you.”

Just looking into those great eyes now sapped the tension from Patrick’s shoulders. It was almost incomprehensible now that he used to see such cruelty and malice in them. It had all been a front.  In reality, they were soft and gentle.

“This is fucking insane.” Patrick let his hands continue to wander, but his eyes remained on Thomas’s upturned face. “Summer would have an aneurysm if she saw us together like this.”

The giant chuckled his agreement, letting his head fall back with a light thump on the cot. There was a red line where the cuff had been pressing on his neck. “Are you going to tell her?” he asked.

Patrick squirmed. “If they knew you were safe to be around… to touch… that could change things for you. That could change the way they see you.”

Sighing, Thomas ran his thumb down Patrick’s side. “I think it’s too little too late,” he admitted delicately.

"But you've changed. God, why is everyone else so fucking blind?"

He shuddered and sighed, tapering off as Thomas traced fingers along his front and back. Feeling him. Memorizing him. It was all too easy to forget himself and lean into that gentle touch, like a flower starved for a taste of sunlight.

"It's alright, Red. I've known the end was coming for a long time now. I'm ready."

“No.” Patrick shook his head, dropping a frustrated fist against Thomas’s chest. “No, no, it’s unfair. They can’t kill you now. It wouldn’t be right.”

The giant took a shuddering breath, the first crack in his composure. “It’s what everyone wants,” he said flatly.

“It’s not what I want.”

Thomas’s hand suddenly became a much greater weight. The fingers cast Patrick in shadow as they closed in around him, picking him up gently. This time, he voiced no complaint as he was lifted into the air.

When his head cleared, he was staring the giant straight in the face from above. Doleful gratitude shone in Thomas’s eyes as they regarded him. “That’s, you know, great and everything,” he mumbled, arching a brow. “But what the hell can you do about it?”

Patrick wriggled so he could lean down and give the giant a hard look. "I could help you."

Thomas was expressionless. "How?"

"I… I dunno. If they won't see reason at your final evaluation, maybe I could do something. I could get you out."

"No," Thomas said at once, fingers tightening. "They'll shoot you on sight."

"If I do nothing, you'll die, and it won't be nearly quick as a gunshot," Patrick fired back, nearly losing his balance right over that pretty face.

“How exactly do you think you’re gonna just bust me out of-” he cut himself off, eyes darting to the corners of the room. “No one can hear us now, right?” he murmured.

Patrick shook his head. “No cameras, no sound. It’s just me and you.”

“You can’t get me out of range of this facility without anyone noticing, Red,” he continued. “Hell, you couldn’t even get me out of this cell on your own. It’s illegal for a human officer to escort a Juren prisoner alone. We’ll be nabbed before we even leave the block.”

“I’ll come for you after hours,” Patrick persisted. “Hardly anyone is around for the midnight shift.”

Thomas looked unsettled by the idea. Patrick liked that- surprising him.

"If we moved fast we could have a chance then," the giant conceded. "But you… you could never step foot in here again. You can't give up everything like that."

"I'm getting sick of this place, anyway," Patrick joked weakly. But the truth was, it wasn't a joke and he knew neither of them were ignorant of that. He dug his little fingers into Thomas's perfect ones, his brown eyes imploring like a child's. "Thomas, if the others could see you for who you were, they'd do this for you too."

Thomas snorted. “No they wouldn't. They would be wanted for the rest of their life. No one would give up their normal life like that for me.”

Heart pounding, Patrick swallowed his nerves and looked the giant dead in the eye. “I would.”

His breath hitched as the hand moved, and suddenly he was much, much closer to Thomas. He could feel the aromatic heat of his breath as it ruffled his hair. It did something to calm his racing heart.

“You're worth the risk,” Patrick asserted. “I don't care if it means we have to run away together. I just can't go on with my life knowing I could have saved you and didn't try.”

He had never seen that look on Thomas's face before. Short of words, breathless. Patrick wondered if he was the only person in the entire world that got to see it.

"I knew you were something incredible," Thomas croaked.

Patrick cracked a smile. "What will you do when you get out?"

"You mean if."

"When," Patrick insisted. His eyes shone bright as Thomas smiled softly at this and pursed his lips.

"I'll find my way onto that ferry. We'll get out of the country, head to France or Sweden. Somewhere quiet, somewhere new. For both of us."

He wants me with him, Patrick thought with a thrill. Still, a pang of dread niggled in his stomach. “It won’t be that simple. Anything could go wrong.”

“Of course it won’t. But we’ll make it.”

Patrick grunted a laugh. “You have enough optimism for the two of us. Doesn’t make me any more confident this will work.”

The giant merely raised an eyebrow. "But you'll come with me," he said, and it was no longer a question.

How could he refuse him? The idea of losing this magnetic feeling was almost worse than the concept of being caught and killed.

"Anywhere," Patrick answered.

Patrick felt himself turn to jelly as Thomas brushed his thumb against his cheek, grazing against his fire-red hair. The killer in him was far away; banished from this perfect moment. Then, Patrick froze, ears prickling with the sound of distant movement. It was impossible to tell whether it was stirring from the next-door prisoners or something more.

How long have I been in here? He suddenly wondered. It had felt like only a minute but his watch told otherwise.

"Shit. Put me down, quick, I've got to get back to my rounds."

The urgency in Patrick’s voice had Thomas’s fingers spring open, dropping their catch with a strained grunt onto his hard chest.

“Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Patrick waved him off as he scrambled to the giant’s vast shoulder and slid down, throwing himself back onto the hovercraft. Without thinking, he slammed his hands against the tablet, freeing Thomas of his restraints before even opening a hatch in the forcefield.

As the giant rose from the cot, the hovercraft slipped through the humming barrier, which sealed behind it. Rubbing the mark on his throat, Thomas took a slow step towards it, then another.

“You won’t forget what you said, will you?” The Jüren’s voice almost sounded… vulnerable. “You will help me.”

The hovercraft paused in the air. “I promise. You’re going to survive this. Even if I have to make sure of it myself,” Patrick vowed.

Thomas’s smile returned, tentative. Even as Patrick set the cameras rolling again, their tell-tale beep echoing in the chamber, the giant kept his gaze fixed on him.

“I’ll see you around, Red.”

His hand rose to Patrick’s level, pressing gently against the shimmering surface between them. There was only a short pause before Patrick, too, reached out, and their palms connected on either side of the prison wall. His hand looked tiny compared to the Jüren’s, not even big enough to cover a single fingertip of Thomas’s - and yet in that moment, they seemed a perfect match to each other.
Metamorphosis || EIGHT
Believe it or not only a couple chapters left! Stay tuned for the big finale!

Co-written by MentalcaseVole!
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Sylvia sniffed the air as Jon slipped back into their room. Strawberries, she thought with a thrill.

“Another parfait?” she guessed, taking to the air to follow him as he walked.

“Better.”

Her eyes lit up. “So… Ice cream?”

“I wish,” Jon snorted, slightly breathless. “The blackout’s hitting the other places on the block, too. Most of the ice cream was already sold out or melted. I did find something though.”

The convenience store he’d visited was only a short distance from Discount Luxury Suites, but even those few minutes in the blistering summer heat had taken a toll on him. His already-snug grey tee was soaked with sweat, clinging to his skin in patches like paper-mâché. He was hot and sticky— all of them were.

But fuck if he didn’t look good that way.

Sylvia hovered over his shoulder, dabbing her forehead as he took at seat at the table and unpacked the contents of the plastic bag. She was grateful for the distraction. Something to make her focus on anything but Jon and his stupid, perfect body. It was harder than usual to push her filthy thoughts out of mind. She blamed the heat.  

Out from the shopping bag came a carton of strawberries, some small yellow cakes, and a hefty bottle of whipped cream. Giving a coo of surprise, Sylvia landed on top of the cake package and gave a little bounce. There was less give to the substance than she’d expected.

Her mouth twisted. “These are weird.”

“Yeah, they’re supposed to be like that. They’re sponge cakes. We can use them to make strawberry shortcakes.”

“Humans eat sponges? Now I’ve heard it all.”

Jon chuckled. “Obviously they’re not actual sponges. They probably look a little more appetizing when they’re not boiling in the package, though. Any chance you can cool them off?”

Sylvia shook her head, flopping onto her back with a moan. “Too hot for magic.”

Jon grunted in agreement, mopping his forehead with the back of his hand. “You’re not wrong. I can’t take this fucking heat. It’s like the sun is taking a shit on the entire block.”

Sylvia rose onto her elbows, grimacing. “Oh that’s a nice image…”

She trailed off, faltering. He was taking his shirt off.

It wasn’t as though she wasn’t familiar with his body. They had been an item for months now, after all. But she would’ve been lying if she said she wasn’t ogling as Jon pulled his sweaty tee over his head and let it drop to the floor. It was impossible to truly get used to the sight before her now; suddenly there was a wall of sculpted muscle rising up like a living monument beyond the edge of the table. Chiseled abs, shoulders wide as a tree trunk, and swollen pecs that would make even the most seasoned warrior fae jealous. He was attractive like it was his fucking job or something.

She looked up and up and up, finding Jon’s face. Before she could tear her gaze away, he lowered his chin. Judging by the little quirk of his lips, she’d been caught.

“You know… Cliff’s got his own room. You can take this off if you want,” he pointed out, tugging her tank.

“Trying to get me naked? Really, Jon, I expected more from you.” Sylvia feigned shock, letting him see the teasing look before she fitted closer to give his bare chest a shove on one side. It was like pushing against solid concrete, and her heart stuttered as she registered the firmness under her palm.

His rebuke resonated through her fingers: “Come on, you must be roasting.”

There was something about the humidity and the sweat beading on them both that made every instinct heightened; every want now an absolute need.

And stars, she needed his body pressed against hers right now.  

“You know I’m not that easy,” Sylvia said haughtily, giving her choppy locks a toss over one shoulder. “You’ll have to fight this off me.”

Jon grinned. “I can do that.”

Her cheeks pinkened. She studied him, pleased to find a glint in his eyes that fueled to the smoldering fire in her belly. He felt it, too.

“You think you’re a match for me?” She shoved back from his chest, fluttering midair. Jon gave chase, reaching for her.

She flitted behind the carton of strawberries, giggling the entire way. This was one of her favorite games. But with  her back against the plastic, she was surprised when it wasn’t immediately seized away. Wasn’t he playing?

“Give up already?” she called out.

Rustling sounds came from the other side of the carton. “I don’t need to chase you. I can lure you out.”

She pouted a little. That didn’t sound half as fun as their ordinary game of cat and mouse. But curious, she peered around the corner anyway. He was pulling out a sponge cake— it fit in the palm of his hand. She watched as Jon took the smallest strawberries from the box and removed the stems. He set them onto the cake and topped the whole thing off with a generous swirl of whipped cream.

“You think that’ll work?” she jeered.

“Oh it will,” Jon persisted, pretending not to notice her where she stood, only half hidden. “It’s got everything. Cake, strawberries, cream… It’s just missing a little something.”

He moved like lightning. She was always amazed at how fast someone so massive could move when he wanted to. Suddenly, the carton was shoved aside and she was in his gentle grasp. Gentle, but inescapable all the same.

Sylvia screamed with delight as she was plucked up at a speed that left her stomach behind. She arced upwards, dangled near his eyeline for a moment, then was released. She plummeted for only a moment or two before landing with a sploosh on her bum in the center of the shortcake.

“There. Now it’s perfect.”

“You asshole!” she shrieked, grinning ear to ear.

The cream came up to her thighs, and even more was splattered on her hair, shirt, and wings. There was no point in trying to salvage her dignity now that she was embedded in the dessert like she was the cherry on top. Sylvia wriggled out of her tank top and tossed it over. She managed to pull off her cropped pants too, though not before falling on her ass a second time and sending a spray of whipped cream everywhere.  

She pushed her hair out of her face, finally acknowledging the face that hung over her. “Happy now?” she asked, doing a terrible job of hiding her laughter.  

“Very,” Jon supplied, looking on with a dumb smile.

She made a face at him. But now that her clothes weren’t sticking to her like syrupy papers, the sensation of the whipped cream smeared over her was delightfully refreshing. Quite happily, she scooped more cream up off the yellow cake in cupped hands. It was so muggy in the motel that it was already dribbling through her fingers by the time she brought it to her mouth to taste. Large portions spilled onto her shoulders and delicate bralette, running in ribbons down towards her navel.

She felt Jon’s stare intensify as she purred with satisfaction, fixated on her like she was the only thing worth looking at in the world. She reveled in the feeling.

“Oh fuck, Sylv…” Jon muttered.

She looked up, whipped cream still sticky around her lips. “What?”

He shook his head. “Y-you look… Fuck.”

She couldn’t see his other hand, but she heard his fumble to unfasten his jeans and ease the pressure of the boner growing under the denim. She smirked at his urgency, entirely flattered. She was surprised at how quickly he’d become aroused, but she had to admit there was something to it; sitting on a human’s desert like a living cake topper. She felt insignificant and powerful all at once.

Her confidence swelled when she looked up at him again, aware of how his breath quickened when she licked some of the cream off her fingers. Slowly, of course, so he missed nothing.

“What? Do I look good enough to eat?” Sylvia teased.

Jon’s voice was a low, danger murmur. “Do you really want to know?”

She stretched out a bare arm, dripping with the white stuff. “Go on,” she said, shivering with anticipation. “Taste me.”

Her heart fluttered as he brought the little cake up to his mouth without hesitation, nerves alight with the ever-present knowledge that if he wanted to, he could eat her. It would only be a few bites for a human his size.

But when he touched her, it was gentle. Not frightening. He took her arm into his mouth up to her elbow. His teeth grazed down her sensitive skin, raising goosebumps of delight in his wake. He lingered on her hand, the most delicate digits on her person. She resisted the instinct to squirm away as he gave the most careful nibbles known to man to each individual finger.

And when he kissed her lips and chest and belly, the mess of whipped topping got on him too. He didn’t seem to mind, which made it all the hotter. Sylvia moaned into the space between his lips, feeling something sweet and satisfied swell in her gut.

He only broke the kiss so he could replace the melted cream with a fresh dollop from the canister. She giggled, half-heartedly shielding her face with her arms— it was cold.

“Jon! Not my wings!” she protested.

“Don’t worry. I’ll clean them.”

The world spun. Before she could question it, heat blossomed between her shoulder blades, where her upper wings protruded. It was wet and wonderful, leaving a trail of heat that sent tingles down to the very tips of her wings.

“Ohh…” Sylvia breathed. She clamped her legs together, her insides writhing with frantic pleasure.

Jon‘s gentleness soared to new bounds as he traced the length of each with the tip of his tongue. The pleasure of it was dizzying. She ripped handfuls of the cake into crumbs as she fumbled for some purchase. He repeated the motions a second time, stretching out each second into a thousand moments of ecstasy. Jon’s humid breaths and sighs washed over her, never letting her forget how little she was compared to him.

She was panting his name before he was halfway done.

When she felt the last of the cream leave her wings, her pent up satisfaction bubbles over. Sylvia whirled on the cake and waded over to his waiting lips. She threw herself on him, kissing him hard enough to make him feel her and every ounce of her passion.

She knew he felt something when she felt herself being lowered. A sensation of gentle pressure, weightlessness— and then she was on the hard surface of the table on her back, guided under his spread fingers. The cake was discarded somehwhere, she didn’t care where. His face lowered, and she felt pinned under the weight of his hungry kisses. She liked it. She felt like she was being surrounded in his affections, rather than overwhelmed by the sheer size of him.

A few of his long fingers snuck their way up her front, picking at the lacy woven bralette that hid her breasts from him. He gave his best efforts to be subtle about it, but the fasteners were practically microscopic to him. His fumbling inadvertently cause ticklish strokes to land on her belly and arms.

Sylvia rugged a lock of hair that had fanned down on her left, trying to catch his eye. “You need some help?”

“Don’t laugh, this is hard work.” Jon angled his head, nudging her onto her back again with the tip of his nose.

“So stubborn.” Sylvia lay back, cackling as his fingertips continued to dance along her skin and Jon continued to mutter the occasional curse over her head. “You know, I can—“

“Oh, fuck it.”

His fingers changed course. There was a brief moment of pressure followed by a riiiip of fabric. Sylvia’s green eyes went wide as saucers. She shot her chin to her chest, finding her bralette ripped cleanly in half.

“Jon,” she gasped out, lifting her eyes.

“I’m sorry—“

She shook her head, pulling his hair again to urge him closer. “No, shut up, it was hot.”

Then they were on each other again, a blur of meshed lips and tiny, demanding hands. And as her bra fell away during these movements, Jon turned his attention to her modest breasts: hot kisses and laps of his tongue over the remaining mess of cream.

She breathed heavily. “So, how do I taste?”

She felt his lips pull into a smile against her. “Good.”

She scoffed. “That’s all I get? Good?”

“Really good.”

Then he nibbled at both breasts at once, eliciting a shrill noise from her throat that she hardly recognized. She kicked at his stubbly chin, squirming for all she was worth. Their laughter mingled until she got a handful of the whipped cream that had melted onto the table and smeared it at the corner of his mouth.

“What was that for?”

“To taste you.” Sylvia scrambled onto her knees and pressed her lips to the spot. She placed both hands on him to steady herself as she traced a road through the cream with her tongue. His hand followed her, lazily tracing up her legs and in that tender spot on her back between her wings, inviting her ever closer to him.

But she pushed him away. Shooting her a befuddled look, Jon pulled away. Sylvia could barely contain the eager buzz in her wings as she scooped up more of the cream in her arms and stepped into one of his relaxed hands.

“Bring me closer,” she said, surprising even herself with the snap of authority. Jon didn’t hesitate, bringing her close to his face. “Lower,” she corrected. “I want to look at all of you.”

Jon let out a little breathless laugh as he obeyed, spreading his legs and leaning his head back skyward as she leaned out towards his chest. The slight sheen of sweat on his skin gave him a divine glow. In that moment, he was like some deity, and she was there for Sunday worship.

She proceeded to smear the melting cream over the perfect stretch of hard muscle, kissing and licking him clean with devotion. His chest swelled with labored breaths. She liked seeing her warrior short of breath; liked to know that it was her who brought him to this point.

She nuzzled his skin, smelling him and feeling him, loving every rumble of pleasure than tremored in his throat when her tongue would sneak across his skin.

She wanted to kiss him forever. She wanted to feel him and smell him and forget that monsters existed at all.

She was prepared to suggest he bring them to the bed, when a faint rattling noise caught her ear. She pause, still panting, and cocked her head. Jon stiffened too. There was a CLIIINK and a shudder from the far corner of the room, followed by a slight current in the air.  The lamps on the bedside and near the bathroom door sputtered to life.

“The A/C,” Jon muttered, pushing sweaty hair behind his ears. “Looks like the power’s back on.”

Sylvia tried not to look aas disappointed as she felt. Catching his eye now was like waking from a dream. Suddenly, she saw with stark clarity the pitiful mess she had made on his bare chest. The saliva and sugary cream drying on her body turned chilly in the growing breeze of the air conditioning. She crossed her arms over her bare chest, shivering.

“Oh,” Sylvia mumbled, rocking back against Jon’s fingers. “That’s great. I… I guess we should get back to work. Cliff will be rearing to go by now, I’m sure.”

But Jon’s grasp did not budge  as she gave a gentle push in the direction of her discarded clothes below.

“Or, we could finish the bottle,” he suggested coyly. “Fuck hunting for a little while.”

He lifted her up to his eyes, giving her a bedroom look that could’ve made a hundred girls swoon in investigations past. But this one was for her. Only her. Sylvia beamed as his handsome face crowded her vision, bracing her hands on the bridge of his nose.

“Fuck hunting,” she agreed.
pour some sugar on me (nsfw)
SURPISE more sexy times with your favorite monster hunter and badass fairy couple!!! >: D ive just been in such a gt filth mood lately (and I think Jon and Sylvia have been too hahaha). Written as a little gift for my amazing friend and coauthor kimstaticchild. :hug:



ANyway, enjoy the TRASH!

giphy.com/gifs/emma-stone-yes-…
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Summer was back the following week. She'd been busy during her leave, and came back boasting a new grant to fund her work on Thomas. There was more of the same-- oxygen deprivation, the Obtainer simulation, endless counseling sessions. Day by day, it was draining the life from Thomas's face.

But Patrick watched her closely, keeping his word to the Jüren. He wouldn't let her break him again.

When mere words did not sway her, be began to resort to less ethical means. A system restart from a mobile control would often subdue her experiments. And for two days, he managed to restrict her authorization by changing the passcode.

It was all wonderfully satisfying, watching her fail. But even despite his best efforts with Summer, something would still go awry.

When Patrick made his way to Thomas’s cell for one of Summer’s counselling sessions early one morning, he was surprised to hear voices on the far end of the block. He mounted his hoverpad but didn’t start it up, instead listening intently.

“What the fuck did you say to me?”

No response.

“Hey! I asked you a question.”

“Shock him again,” declared another eager voice. “That’ll make him talk.”

There was a pause, a click, then a pained cry. Laughter.

Before he knew what he was doing, his hand was on the throttle of his pad. Before he even reached the barrier, his heart was in his shoes. He knew who was in that cell.

"What the hell are you doing?" His bark made the two guards hovering the spare pad before Lancaster's cell jump nearly a foot in the air. They looked ashen for a moment, until they took in his clearance badge. He was their better- but only barely.

Massive movement from the corner of his eye: Thomas picking himself off the floor, staring at the tile as he caught his breath. The skin around his neckpiece was bright red, almost purple. A vein throbbed in his neck.

Patrick brought his pad to an abrupt halt beside the others and made a grab for their toggle.

"Whoa, easy!" One bellowed, and steered their pad out of reach. Patrick staggered, ramming hard against the safety rail. He gripped it with white knuckles, doing his level best to keep his voice calm.

"You're not to shock him apart from disciplinary situations. What's he done to you?"

“Relax,” one of them muttered. “Wouldn't have done it if he hadn't back-chatted.”

Patrick glanced into the cell again. Thomas had one leg tangled in the sheets pooled on the floor beside his cot, his bare chest still heaving in pain. “What the hell did he say?”

“I asked him to get up,” the guard answered, “and he told me to fuck off.”

Patrick made a disbelieving noise. “Well, I hate to break it to you, but you can't just go around brutalising inmates because they hurt your feelings.”

“Lancaster disrespected him,” piped up the other guard, folding his thick arms. “And frankly, who are you to tell us how to do our jobs, newbie?”

“You only shocked him once?”

The other guard shrugged. “Yeah.”

Thomas made a sound that might have been a laugh, rubbing the inflamed skin.

“Yeah, I don't think so,” Patrick said. “One hit doesn't do that to your fucking neck.”

The others exchanged a look. "What does it matter?" the bulky blond complained. "He's a fucking man-eater! He gets off on killing girls. Who cares if the pretty bastard's uncomfortable?"

Patrick glanced to his left: Thomas was glaring up at the three of them warily, his bare chest catching the light like sacred marble. Pretty bastard, indeed.

"Don't be so petty," Patrick snarled, fixing his eyes back on the others. "If word gets out about this, you'll be suspended for a week. Maybe if you can behave like anything other than trained apes, I'll keep my mouth shut."

The blond looked half-ready to deck Patrick for that comment. Luckily, his companion gave him a nudge before he could so much as step forward. “Alright, alright,” the latter snapped. “I'd like to see how well you wrangle him without being a little harsh every now and then.”

“Like I said,” Patrick responded coolly, “unnecessary violence is not fucking acceptable. It's counterproductive. You wanna explain to the big guys that you set Summer’s progress back fifty notches because of a stupid comment? Be my guest.”

Summer’s name had the pair of them looking worried. Grunting something crude under his breath, the blond yanked the controls on the hovercraft towards himself.

“You hear that, Lancaster?” he sneered. “The ginger here’s got your back. You gonna be on your best behaviour now?”

Neither waited around for an answer. Patrick waited for the hovercraft to disappear from view before steering his own closer to the cell.

“Fuck, I'm sorry about them,” he breathed. “Are you okay?”

"I'll live."

Patrick sucked in a soft breath as Thomas struggled onto his feet, immediately looming over his station. After a brief, impressive stretch, the giant thudded back over to his cot and took a seat. He fumbled in a bin for a thin cloth, and used it to dab his forehead. When he gasped in pain, Patrick nearly winced along with him.

"They've done this before, haven't they?" he said, calling through the flickering, sky-blue barrier.

"Once or twice."

"More than twice," Patrick muttered, moving the pad closer. "You're bruised as hell down there. Why didn't you say anything to me?"

Thomas shrugged.

Patrick continued to stare, scowling pointedly until Thomas relented. “I’m a big boy, Red,” he sighed, a tired smile on his face. “You don’t have to worry about it.”

His stony expression didn’t falter. “Next time anyone tries anything like that, you tell me. Okay? I need to know.”

“I can deal with it.”

“You shouldn’t have to deal with it,” Patrick declared. “This isn’t like one of those contrived TV shows where the guards beat on their inmates for no reason. This is a professional facility.”

"I'll keep that in mind next time Summer has me gasping for air," Thomas said back, his eyes flinty and cold in the light.

Patrick was quiet for a moment. Summer's name had begun to elicit a sting not unlike that of a bee. Small, at first. But it swelled and swelled with every passing mention of her cruelty.

It should be her in that cage, some dark voice whispered. Her, instead of him.

Patrick felt a chill at his own stray thoughts. He shook it off and groped for the controls before him. "I'll call you a med unit," he muttered.

"Patrick, don't!" Thomas was on his feet in a second. "No more doctors. Please, for the love of God, no more doctors."

Patrick almost staggered right over at how fast Thomas moved. His blue eyes were bold, but pleading in the way they looked at him.

“Your neck looks really bad…” Patrick winced.

“It's nothing,” Thomas breathed. “I swear.”

He looked so vulnerable that Patrick let his finger slip off the touch screen. “Well… what can I do for you instead? That's gonna be hurting for hours you know. And Summer’s coming pretty soon so-”

An almighty groan from the giant. “Tell her to go away. I can't be fucked right now, Patrick. I'll end up doing something I'll regret.”

Patrick felt a surge of sympathy for him. It had been a painful morning, and it was about to turn into a tiresome afternoon. So few of the other inmates had the same pain in their eyes as this one. The same exhaustion, written in every perfect tendon on their body.

"I wish I could. But you know she's my superior on this team."

Thomas nodded glumly, staying silent. He had the sort of face that was made for smiling, Patrick thought, and it was unnerving to see it drawn up in such sternness.

It took all his strength to tear himself from Lancaster's cell. "I'll be back later, alright? Buzz me if those ass hats come round again."

“Sure thing, Patrick.”

The human shot a last glance over his shoulder as he steered away down the corridor. Thomas’s gaze prickled the back of his neck until he vanished out of sight.



“After today, you'll never see me again.”

At these simple words, the grief in the human’s chest flared until they felt ready to fall on their knees with the agony of it.

“What will happen to you?” they almost whispered.

The giant’s silence told all.

“Promise me you'll be careful, love,” the human choked. “The others, they won't understand. You have to get away from here as soon as possible.”

“I would come with you, little one, if I dared.”

The human felt tears slip down their face in hot rivers. Their vision blurred, then blackened as they squeezed their eyes shut.

"What are you doing?"

"I c-can't look at you. It'll only make it more painful, won't it? Seeing what I'm to lose."

A shiver came next, as an enormous hand brushed against the side of their face, along their arms. "Just don't forget me."

The laugh that came out of the human’s mouth was mixed with a sob. “I could never forget you.”

<I<“Then look at me. One last time. Please.” That massive hand stayed put. It used to be so frightening - strong and grasping and threatening. Now, the human loathed to leave its embrace. “One last gaze, so you'll always remember my face.”</I>

It was impossible to refuse that plea. With tears fiercely rubbed away, the blurry mass that was the Jüren began to gain shape and clarity again.

His shabby waistcoat was buttoned up, but the shirt underneath was disturbed at the collar, many buttons undone over his throat. Further up, a muscle twitched and danced in the brute’s stubbly jaw, and great blue eyes stared straight back into the human’s very soul. His hair, standing on end in places from being grasped at so often, was a glossy near-black mess.

"I want to give you something to remember me by, too," Patrick gasped out.

The Jüren laughed, tilting his head to the side. "I'm already looking at you, little one."

"Taste me."

The smile dropped clean away. Thomas seized his hand back. "No," he said shortly. "I can't."

"Please, I-I want you to."

"No, Patrick," Thomas snapped, looking away now. "I could lose myself. You can't ask that of me."

“You won't! I know you won't. I trust you.”

A bitter laugh. He picked at the sparse grass at his side and shook his head. “I don't even trust me.”

Patrick took a step closer towards the Jüren, placing himself directly before his crouching form. The forest seemed to fall away around them, and with it all terror of the approaching enemy. Come the dawn, the mountains would be swarming with militia, he knew. They did not have much time left.

“I have trust enough for both of us,” Patrick declared softly. He raised his arms, like a touch-starved infant begging to be held. “I know you won't hurt me.”

Thomas finally turned back to him. “You spent so long convincing me not to do worse than get a taste of you,” he pointed out with a raised eyebrow. “Why change your mind now?”

"Because it proves everything," Patrick declared. His boldness faltered as he dragged his eyes slowly over the curve of those pink lips waiting above, pursed in a thin line. He ached with the idea of those lips razing his body, making him hot and wet. "Because I need this," he finished more meekly. "And so do you."

Thomas considered him in silence for a moment. Then, it was like a switch had been flipped. Urgently, he seized Patrick around the middle and laid him out on his back. Patrick was helpless to move as the massive hand crowded over him, clawing at his clothes. The breath he tried to take was stolen from his lungs as Thomas loomed suddenly, every bit the predator the Grey folk were rumored to be.

He lay spreadeagled, feeling the cold air hit his chest from his open shirt. Almost immediately it was countered by a rush of warm breath, Thomas taking a moment to consider what he was about to do.

“Go ahead,” Patrick whispered. “I'm ready.”

The giant wasted no further time. His beautiful face descended, and Patrick felt his back arch involuntarily as heat and damp met his pale skin. He was kissing him. Not licking yet, not biting. Kissing.

The act was so tender - far too tender for Patrick to have expected from such a monster. He pondered in that moment that he must have been the only human to have gotten this close to Thomas’s mouth and lived to tell the tale.

Not that he would be telling this particular tale.

A choked noise caught in his throat as  wetness blossomed between kisses. Thomas's tongue dragged up his navel, ending in a shudder worthy brush against his cheek.

"I've always wondered," Patrick panted. "How I taste to you. Been too afraid to ask."

Thomas's nose gently urged his head to the side. Patrick stared at the stone wall as those perfect lips hovered over his Adam's apple. A rumbling chuckle.

"You'd be right to be afraid. You're perfect, Patrick. Perfect. Everything I've ever wanted."

With excruciating delicacy, his lips made contact with Patrick’s neck. The human groaned, fingers digging into the earth as he fought to stay composed. He was completely overpowered by this one simple act, the hot scent of mint and earth and giant enveloping him. It was a comforting smell, a reassuring smell. It promised safety and protection, whatever Thomas said.

“Perfect,” he gasped out.

Another deep noise from the Jüren, a sound of agreement.

“That's… that's almost flattering,” he grunted haltingly as Thomas traced the indent beneath his jaw with the tip of his tongue. “In an odd sort of way.”

"What else do you want to hear?" Thomas's lips danced against him. The kisses began to deepen, massive with white knocking against his shoulder, grazing against the open shirt on his chest.

"I-I want--" But the words wouldn't come. Not with those perfect fingers groping around his legs, between them. Feeling for his cock with all the delicacy of a surgeon.

Thomas gave a light, beautiful laugh in his ear, as if able to sense Patrick was short of breath.

"You don't want me to say anything, do you? You just want me to touch you. Every… single… bit." The giant drew out the words as he rose up on one arm, letting his free hand creep from Patrick's ankles with tantalizing slowness up to his throat.

He had never felt anything more wonderful in his whole life. No human touch compared to this. No woman’s touch. All this time, he had dreaded those enormous, terrible hands. Now, he adored them.

“I love you,” he moaned. “I love you.”

The Jüren pulled back, and all Patrick could see of him were two beautiful eyes. Their lashes - longer than his own fingers - were radiant in the warm light. He could see his own self reflected back in the irises, small and distorted in comparison to the god who so towered over him.

“Then kiss me,” Thomas whispered.

When those lips came near enough, Patrick obeyed heartily, kissing with a passion he hadn't known himself capable of. With his hands spread out on either side of him, he could only work his magic with his tongue and hope it was enough to be felt.

He wasn't sure what had happened until he felt something warm and wet dribbled against his cheeks. Was Thomas drooling over him so literally? He dropped his head to the ground and smeared fingertips over his face. They came back glossy with blood. With a start, he looked up to find Thomas touching the deep bite mark on his lower lip.

"I knew it," Thomas whispered. He kissed him fiercely now, as though the bite had been an invitation. He was frantic and fast, smearing his blood with every movement. "You're wild as me, Patrick."

Patrick's voice caught in his throat as white hot pain flashed through his body. Shaking, he turned his head to the side, lowering his eyes to find Thomas's lips locked onto the muscular curve of his arm. His teeth were sunken in, right down to the bone. Blood began to pool at the corner of that great mouth, dribbling slowly towards the ground.

It was beautiful.
Metamorphosis || SEVEN
Believe it or not, this story is drawing to a finish! Curious to hear what you guys think! Do you think Patrick can turn Thomas around?

Co-written and formatted by the amazing MentalcaseVole !!
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“What took you so long?”

Valeria curled up smaller as the three giants’ footsteps reverberated through the walls and made her hiding place quake.

“We were just having breakfast.”

“God, you look a mess.” Alasdair put his hands on his hips, eyeing Morgan’s dirty uniform and marked face. Tiny lines of dried blood criss-crossed his cheeks and knuckles. “Just got back?”

“Aye.” Morgan shouldered past Ross, who swiftly moved to close the door and follow him into the kitchen. Morgan landed heavily in a chair, regarding Ross with a tired smile. “Don't suppose you have any of that left do you?” he asked, nudging Alasdair’s bowl. “I'm famished.”

“O-of course. Let me just…” Ross’ voice caught as he noticed the thimble - still resting by his own bowl in plain sight.

He was not so lucky that Morgan overlooked it. Ross winced as Morgan reached to pluck it up, leaving a tiny puddle of porridge on the hardwood.

"What is this?"

"Nothing. It's… It's nothing." Ross sounded utterly breathless. Morgan glanced up at him, his casual posture straightening into something more dangerous.

"So it's true, is it? You've got a human pet around here somewhere?"

A beat of awful silence spanned before Ross spat out, "I don't know what you're talking about."

Morgan jutted his chin at the other giant. "He says you do."

Ross rounded on Alasdair, who had slunk closer to the door in the meantime. "You didn't."

"He was gonna beat the shit outta me! I had to," Alasdair exclaimed, backing away.

“So you do?” Morgan’s smile widened, but there wasn’t a trace of warmth in it. He lifted the thimble up higher for inspection, turning it around between two fingers.

Ross gritted his teeth, feeling a pulse begin to throb in his temples. He tore his gaze away from Alasdair and strode back to the pot of oats bubbling on the fire, his back to the both of them. “Look, Morgan, do we have to talk about this? Me and Alasdair were-”

“Why are you changing the subject?”

Ross’ blood chilled as the taller giant rise from his seat. “You don’t wanna talk about what happened to your face?” he countered.

Morgan sniffed, absentmindedly tracing the wounds lingering on his skin. “Later perhaps. I asked you a question, Ross.” He circled the table, tossing the thimble up into the air and catching it again in one hand. “You still hoarding that little bite after all this time?”

"It doesn't matter," Ross said, throwing a dark look over his shoulder. A warning. "I'm safe, and she's not hurting anything."

"That's not entirely true though, is it?" Morgan insisted softly.

Leaving the pretense of fiddling with the breakfast, Ross straightened up to face his friend. Morgan advanced further, turning over the little thimble in his hand like it was an item of great value.

"You're not yourself, Ross, and it's not your fault. Humans are toxic creatures. Even being near them is like exposing yourself to a disease." He tilted his head. "You know this better than me."

"You're right about the rest of them. But not her." Ross slowly placed himself between Morgan and the stove. "If that's your only business here, I think you should leave."

Morgan regarded Ross steadily, arms folding over his chest. “I’ve travelled a long way, brother,” he said wistfully. “I want to stay for a bit. I want to see what the business is with this pet of yours.”

“It’s really none of your concern.” Ross’ eye gleamed, his mouth set in a thin line.  

“It is our concern if it’s keeping you from coming back to Phillip’s army,” Alasdair argued.

“What?” Morgan frowned, standing up straighter. “Ross?”

Ross set his jaw, looking his friend in the eye. “I’m not fighting. I’ve made my decision.”

“But you-”

“I’ve made my decision. You can’t tell me what to do.”

Morgan squinted incredulously at him. “You’re… you’re joking.” A hesitant smile crept onto his mouth, and he turned to Alasdair. “He’s joking.”

Alasdair swallowed and shook his head.

“I don’t understand.” Morgan’s arms unfolded, reaching for Ross’ in consternation. “You finally get a chance at vengeance. We’re going to rip Greendale apart. Don’t you want to be the one to lead us?”

Ross squared his jaw, and in the silence that followed, Valeria was suddenly terrified that he was about to change his mind.

"There are more important things," Ross answered in a low voice.

Morgan hung his head. He was growing impatient. "I know she's in here, Ross. She's got that strong scent to her… something sweet. If you don't have the stones to finish her off, we'll do it for you."

In a flash, Ross' hands were on Morgan's wrists, knuckles whitening as he tightened his grip. "I don't want to force you out, brother, but you're not leaving me a choice."

Morgan looked him over. "Aye, but you're not really in a state to do that, are you?"

“Watch me,” Ross growled. He threw his weight forward but Morgan was already twisting away. His wrists were stark pink when they came free of Ross’ grip and Morgan hissed at the stinging pain.

“I’m not leaving till I see her. Whether you bring her out or not, I’ll have her.”

He darted for the row of cupboards before Ross could move to stop him, yanking open the doors and scooping their contents out all over the floor.

“You’re wasting your time,” Ross snapped, trying to take him by the shoulders. “She’s not in there.”

“Get off me.”

He rose, shoving Ross away with all his might. “This would be easier and quicker if you just showed me where she is.”

“You don’t need her,” Ross said. “We’re not doing any harm.”

“She’s doing it right now, can’t you see?” Morgan continued speaking as he strode around to the fireplace, head tilted up like a dog trying to catch a scent. “Sapping your will to fight. She’s keeping you from battle because she wants to protect her own filthy kind.”

“She’s not doing anyth-”

“She bewitched you!” He threw aside the blanket on Ross’ armchair, then dug up the cushion beneath. “Next thing you know, you’ll be fighting on their side.”

“You’re crazy,” Ross snarled, “If you think I’m on the side of the humans.”

“Guys, please…”

Alasdair was no longer edging for the door. He wandered into the kitchen between them, hands raised. “This isn’t… look, we’re doing this to help you, Ross. What you’re doing… it isn’t right.”

"I'm not asking you to understand," Ross snarled, shoving past him. He wrenched Valeria's hiding spot around to face him and scooped her into his protective embrace. The other two stared as he turned to face them, the little human barely visible where he tucked his hand to his heart.

"You'll keep your fucking hands off her if you know what's best for you," Ross finished, glaring between them.

Morgan froze midway through stooping to peer under the armchair when he realised what Ross was cradling in his hands. Slowly, he drew himself back up to his full height. The armchair cushion dropped to the floor.

“Come on, Ross,” he warned. “This is getting ridiculous.”

“Just hand her over,” Alasdair almost pleaded. “And everything will be as it was before.”

Ross bristled as his two friends closed the distance between themselves and him, feeling his unoccupied hand clench into a tight fist. Morgan’s eyes were alight as he stalked closer, putting out his own hand in a silent order. Valeria made a small noise and huddled closer to his skin, as if that would protect her from the taller giant.

"You're going to fight me, Morgan?" Ross asked, eyes narrowed to slits.

"You'll thank me later," Morgan said, sounding weary.

Ross shuffled backwards, glancing towards the door. Alasdair stood in his way, and he couldn't be sure whether he would stop him by force. Much of his strength had returned, but engaging in a fight would surely crush Valeria. She was still trembling violently against his skin, clutching at creases in his hand for dear life.

Hoping to take them by surprise, Ross took off in a sudden burst of speed for the door. Alasdair caught him by the arm, pulling him back. Ross wrenched himself free but Morgan was already bearing down upon him. His back slammed into the doorframe post painfully as Morgan collided with him full-on. Instead of trying to rip Valeria free, he had his hands pressed over top Ross', applying pressure to make Valeria's protective hideaway tighten.

"No-" Ross grunted. Every ounce of willpower focused on keeping his hand from closing around her. "Please, you're going to crush her."

Morgan’s face didn’t even flicker in its determined scowl, and Ross’ hand began to shake with the effort of remaining open. Tears pricked his eye as he felt his fingers begin to dig against Valeria’s small body.

“Get off him!” she shrieked, sounding close to crying herself as she fought against the combined grip of the two giants. “Leave him alone!”

“It speaks?” Morgan sounded amused. His efforts lessened only slightly.

Alasdair looked on from the side, but didn’t move to help. “I told you,” he muttered, not looking at Ross.

“Maybe we can have a little fun with it. Before we-”

Morgan’s words were cut off with a sickening thud as Ross slammed his forehead straight into the bridge of his nose. Howling a curse, he reeled backwards against the opposite wall and Ross followed, his free fist now hammering a harsh blow to the other giant’s jaw.

“Fuck, Ross,” Alasdair exclaimed, readying himself to get between them.

“You’re not… going to do… anything,” Ross snarled. His hand shot out and latched around Morgan’s neck, knocking his head against the wall with the force of it. “Understand?”

Blood welled and trickled down between Morgan’s eyebrows, an angry red bruise blossoming in the middle of his face. “Ross. I can’t…” he choked off.

“If you don’t stand down now, Morgan, I will kill you.”

The hand still clutching Valeria curled back up against his chest. Morgan was mute, thunderstruck, as Ross smoothed the human’s shoulders with his thumb. He gave another weak struggle against the wall but Ross’ hand was pressing deep against his artery.

“She’s not food. She belongs with me.”

Morgan's face was coloured puce. Alasdair clamped his hands on Ross' shoulder, attempting to pry him off. But Ross bucked, his dark eye demanding.

"Do you swear?"

"I swear!" Morgan rasped. "Getthefuckoff!"

At last, Ross relented. Morgan slid to his knees, one hand massaging his throat while he hacked and coughed. Alasdair eyed Ross warily, offering Morgan help to his feet.

"You were really going to do it, weren't you?" Morgan said, when he'd gotten back up. "You would kill your own brother for that urchin?"

Ross kept his distance, his thumb still letting down Valeria's hair. "You tried my patience."

He glanced down at the woman in his care then, taking in her petrified expression. Seeming to sense his gaze, Valeria craned her neck back to meet it. She set an open palm on his chest, grateful and wary.

“Now get out of my house,” he ordered them, not even raising his head.

Both giants looked as though they'd like more than anything to obey, but remained rooted to the spot. Morgan continued to rub the angry marks on his throat, eyes fixed coldly on Valeria.

“You owe us an explanation, Ross,” Alasdair ventured slowly. “What the hell is going on with you?”

“Nothing,” he said defensively. “I just…”

“You said she was one of them,” Morgan rasped. “She imprisoned you.”

“She wasn't one of the ones hurting me.”

Morgan’s eyes narrowed. “So you lied?”

Ross finally looked up. “I had to. Or you wouldn't have given her over.”

“I-”

“Would you?”

Morgan sighed. “I thought I was giving you chance to take your revenge.”

Alasdair jabbed a finger in his direction. "If that human isn't holding you back, then lead, Ross. Prove that she isn't keeping you from your true family."

Ross leaned up against the the kitchen counter, his shoulders sagging slightly as aches and stings began to settle in from his tussle with the others.

"If I fight," he started slowly. "Will that be enough for you?"

Valeria went very still in his grasp. He could not look at her.

"I'll feel more at ease about her," Morgan said, exchanging a look with Alasdair. "If we can see you're not damaged in the head."

"I'm not damaged," Ross said, glowering. But deep in his gut, guilt tugged.

"Our first siege is planned for midnight tonight. If we don't set out soon, we'll never be prepared in time."

"I'll consider it still. Just… give me a minute, guys."

"Why?" Alasdair sneered. "Do you need to ask permission?"

"Just go," Morgan grunted, shoving him towards the door. "We'll be at Reegan's Tavern, if you change your mind. May the stars above forgive you."

The dark look sent his way sent needles into his skin. Ross stared at the door long after they left. The silence resounded in his ears.

“Ross?”

A tremulous movement against his chest accompanied the voice and he sucked in a breath, pulling the woman in his hand up to eye level. His second hand crowded in to encircle her, although the danger had now gone. Sudden panic fluttered in him.

“Are you hurt?” he demanded.

“N-no,” she whimpered, holding tight to his thumb. “Are you?”

As Ross shook his head, a dull throbbing took up residence in his forehead. He winced. “I'll be fine in a minute. Morgan’s skull is hard as a rock.”

She didn't laugh. She seemed to be having trouble articulating anything at all, quivering like a leaf. “Were you serious?” she whispered. “About fighting?”

"They're not leaving me much choice," Ross murmured back. "I don't think they'll stop hunting for you until I agree."

Valeria ducked her head. Her cheek rubbed against the pad of his thumb, and Ross shuddered from her gentleness.

"I don't want you to go. Y-you've only just regained your strength! What if you get hurt or-"

She tapered off into a whimper, and grabbed tighter to his thumb. Ross stroked along her side with his other hand, hoping to soothe the shakiness from her form.

"Believe me," he breathed. "I don't want this, either."

“You can’t go,” she persisted. Ross felt tiny pricks of dampness on his skin as she buried her head into the side of his thumb, little tears streaking over it. “Who’s going to… who’s going to take care of Aaron and his boy?”

“For all I know, Aaron’s going to have to fight too. If not, there are plenty of people in the village who could help him.”

“But who’s going to do the artisan work for the village?”

“That’s not my concern. I’m sure there are many like me up for the task.”

“Well then what will happen if-”

“Valeria.”

She sniffed, turning her gaze up toward his face. His heart jolted at the helplessness he saw in her teary eyes. He kept stroking her, willing her fears to calm.

“It’s going to be fine. You’ll be fine. I can put you somewhere safe until I return… maybe even a human village if I have to. Anything.”

“What? No!” Her morose expression turned fierce. “If you’re going, then I will too.”

Not a chance.”

“You don’t have a choice,” she snapped. “I’m going wherever you go. I can take care of you.”

"You're very talented," Ross admitted with a soft half smile. "But there's no place for you in a battle. If I hide you on my person, I could hurt you without knowing. And I don't trust the others in the group, I won't leave you at the camp."

"You won't hurt me," Valeria said stubbornly.

"Val, please," Ross whispered. He surged closer, cuddling her to the side of his face. He felt her stiffen for a moment, attempting to be cold. But within seconds she had snuggled into him, little fingers stroking along the direction of his day and a half's stubble.

"This is the only way to keep you safe for good. After this… things can go back to the way they were."

“Not if you don't come back,” she hiccuped, her fingers digging into his jaw as if she was trying to meld with him.

“Please,” he huffed, attempting to gain some bravado. “As if I'm going to die out there.”

“You might!”

“I can't. Not with you counting on me.” He drew her away, cracking a smile. Both of their eyes were swimming with unshed tears. “Those humans won't come anywhere near killing me.”

"How can you promise that?" she asked, attempting to smile through her tears. It came off as a grimace that made his heart ache. She swiped at her eyes, shaking her head. "After… after what they did to you before?"

"This is different. Who knows their tricks better than me?" Ross gave a little cocky smirk. This time, Valeria did smile back, making him grin all the wider.

“We know how their greatest weapons operate,” he murmured. “We can defend ourselves. I've learned my lesson from attacking the city - I can do this.”

Valeria wiped her nose, then wrapped her arms around him once again. “You're going to go to Alasdair and Morgan tonight then?”

He sighed. “I suppose I have to.”

“Don't leave me alone here,” she insisted. “I'll come out too.”

Ross shook his head again. "There's still plenty of daylight. I'm going to get you to a safe home while I'm away."

"Not another giant?" she practically squeaked, little eyes widening.

Ross reassured her, never taking his eyes from her as he left the kitchen. "You don't need to worry. I know a guy."
Valour and Blood || 3.3
Co-written by MentalcaseVole !

Ross and Val’s predicament continues, and a battle betweenness Aarlith and Greendale looms closer. :o
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One morning, near dawn, Erica wandered out to the sitting room to find Roman and half the company crowded over a table. As she shuffled closer, she got a glimpse of what they were poring over: a supply list and rough designs, prices tallied below. There was a buzz of activity different than the usual gatherings. It was enough that she couldn't pass it by, not knowing.

"Roman," she mumbled. "What is all this?"

Roman looked up, brightened, and quietly excused himself to speak with her aside.

"Thought you would never wake up," he chuckled.

Erica did not smile. "What are they all doing here? What's happening?"

Roman took a breath. "King Amos is willing to forgive our past crimes in exchange for our expertise."

Her eyes widened. She had feared it would come to this. "You're not a soldier, Roman. You have no place making a deal like that!"

"It's already done," he said. "Besides, we have experience taking down giants when we must… what difference will it make to take down a few more on the battlefield?"

Erica folded her arms. "It's been over a month since the giants' siege. They haven't attacked since." Roman gave her a blank look, not seeming to understand her point. She rolled her eyes. "Obviously, they aren't eager to fight us!"

"Phillip is a coward," Roman argued. "But you'd be foolish to think he isn't gathering an army. And after the Cyclops’ escape party…" he paused, face turning grey. "We're running out of time to replenish. Amos needs all the help he can get."

Erica, too, went sick in the stomach at the thought of Ross roaming freely again. The wreckage his comrades had left had been nothing short of brutal. There was a tally of over ten missing men and women even after the body count. Erica knew their end had to have been more cruel than that of those slain in the battle field.

“Why are you so enthusiastic to help him?” she asked. “You’ve managed to keep yourself hidden thus far, why bother with the deal?”

Roman’s eyes shifted briefly to the others around the table. “As it stands, Amos is on the side of right,” he explained. “Phillip might as well have torn that treaty to shreds when he set his beasts on the castle. If we continue mucking about, causing trouble on our own raids… we give the giants leave to wage war.”

“There’s no avoiding a war now, Roman,” Erica hissed. “Not if what you say is true.”

“Least we won’t have started it.”

“But I don’t understand why you’d put yourself in danger for Amos. Amos.”

Roman let out a terse sigh. “Quite frankly, Erica, he didn’t give us a lot of choice. He could have any number of guards watching this island right now. If we try to leave…”

“Alright, I get it.” She rubbed a hand down her face, then folded her arms tight over her chest again. “So what does he want of your expertise then, hm? Does he expect us all to fight?”

"No," Roman said. "We're not soldiers, as you said. We'll be helping prepare alternative sabotage. Trappings, steel chains, harpoons…"

Erica shivered. "Harpoons?"

Roman nodded. "We've been working on a new metal in the smithing shop. Twice as strong as steel, half the weight… hopefully it will pierce right through those thick bracers."

She groped for a seat, and when she found none she took a seat on the window sill. The cold creeping in was an instant chill to her barely clothed form, but she stayed where she was.

"Do we know when it's going to happen?" She asked quietly. "The battle."

Roman shook his head, seeming to understand her worry. "Soon, I fear. I heard the last message Phillip sent was rather damning. And now smoke is curling from over the Aarlith forest night and day."

A thrill of apprehension shot through her. And then, inexplicably, concern going beyond the fear of Roman’s involvement. Once the fighting started up, nobody would be safe. Not humans, not giants…

The Strykes.

She choked back her fear, pressing hands to her temples and shooting Roman a pleading glance. “What of me?” she ventured. “I can't help. can't be seen with you.”

“I don't think Amos is interested in your crimes anymore,” Roman snorted. “Perhaps he might even favour your opinion. You have every bit the experience that we do. And now that that fool Rionny is dead-”

“Missing,” Erica corrected him. “Rotten coward is probably hiding out somewhere.”

“Either way, Amos can't be swayed by him now. Whether he likes it or not, he needs our help.”

She was shaking her head now, drawing her legs up onto the sill. “I can't, Roman. I don't want any part of this war.”

Roman's face softened as he took her in, and only moments later Erica found herself wrapped up in his familiar arms. "If you change your mind, you could be a great help," his voice came in her ear.

She shook her head again, fingers clutching near his neck, grateful for the body heat. He sighed.

"Wash up, put on a coat," he said, pressing a kiss to her temple. "We'll see how you feel as time wears on."

She mutely allowed him to help her down from the sill and turn her towards the washroom. Then, as she was shutting the door on his retreating form, she paused.

“What if I don't change my mind?” she challenged.

He stopped mid-step, coming back to meet her through the crack. “What?”

She swallowed, eyes fixing on his. “I'm scared for this, Roman. Really. It's… it's not right.”

“There's nothing we can do to stop it,” he breathed in return, bringing up a finger and thumb to pinch her cheek softly. “And if you're not fighting on our side, whose are you really on?”

She had no answer to that. Her lips parted as he broke away, ancient floorboards creaking under his boots.

Cursing inwardly, she gripped the door jamb in frustration. “Roman, please. I…”

He didn't turn around. “Just think on it, Erica,” he called as he disappeared down the curved corridor.

As she dragged a soapy rag over her body, Erica found her thoughts wandering to those giants she had known. She had come toe to toe with Ross Vogel, the one-eyed killer of legend. Her encounters with his ruthless bloodlust for humans endured, primarily in the form of nightmares. She shivered, recalling his hateful glare from nine stories up.

Erica groped for a towel, hurrying to dry herself off before the water had a chance to freeze into droplets on her skin.

Phillip had been a villain in his own right. Despite the occasional kindness experienced under his care, she could not rid herself of the memory of his groping fingers under her skirt. The lust in his eyes. He whored himself for the sake of curiosity.

She sniffed, shuffling on bare feet across the rug to rifle through her wardrobe. She pulled on tan trousers and a long sleeved green tunic. She groped for a belt hanging in the bag, determined to keep these pants snug on her hips regardless of the weight she had dropped. Her hand brushed silk instead, and her racing thoughts quieted.

After glancing around her, she gently pulled the garment out into the open. The giant-made nightgown glittered in the pale light of winter. Thinking of its creator, she smiled. There had been pleasant times in Aarlith, despite the many sufferings. Aaron Stryke and his wife had seen to that, never asking for payment in return.

They didn't want this war, she remembered. She clenched her jaw, bunching up the slippery fabric of the dress in one hand. The giants are just as scared as we are. She also remembered her own fear, thrown out into the rainy night by a man she trusted, to be left at the mercy of whatever awaited. He'd hurt her. And if the war happened, no doubt he would suffer for it.

But the hurt she had felt never boiled into rage. The thought of Sari and little Cameron - even Aaron, she thought to herself - getting caught up in the crossfire of the treaty feud caused a dull sensation of horror to rise in her chest. They didn't deserve it. If she agreed to help Roman, she'd be part of the cause of their misery. Not even the possibility of facing the Cyclops down one last time was enough to stir a hunger for battle.

“I've caused enough damage in my lifetime,” she murmured aloud. She stretched up on tiptoes and swiftly placed the dress back in the wardrobe, slamming the doors shut. Spying her socks and boots lying by the hearth, she padded over and slipped them on over her trousers.

There was a crash from down the hallway and voices rose in a crescendo. It sounded as though arguments were getting out of hand again - it seemed to be all Roman’s people were doing these days, Erica realised in annoyance. Reluctant to join in the disharmony but loathe to have Roman worrying about her, she snatched up her sword and left the washroom.





Less than a week later, deep in Aarlith, Valeria was just stirring awake. The encroaching ice and snow outside were entirely unknown to her, tucked under a giant's hand. With a faint mewl, she arched her back, rolling under the heavy weight. She smiled, ducking low under his hand. If she burrowed deep enough, she could pretend the day had not broken yet.

The hand's owner breathed deeply at present, far more lost to the world than she was. This was not entirely uncommon. Since taking his transitional duties for King Phillip, Ross scarcely had to leave the house, He would sleep late in the day, leaving late afternoon for the span of a few hours, just taking inventory for the local artisans. Hardly a chore for a warrior, but if he was unhappy he never let on.  

She stared at his sleeping form, half hidden to her as he buried his face in the pillow. There was something fascinating about the peaceful look on his face. With his bad eye tucked out of sight, he looked like an entirely different person. Distantly under the covers, his stomach groaned. Valeria shook her head, knowing he would sleep right through breakfast and lunch too, if he had the chance. She worked herself free of his hand and crept closer to the pillow.

"Ross," she called lightly. "Ross, you must get up."

No response. Still she paused, holding her arms out at her waist to keep her balance on the huge soft dunes of quilt. Though she waited, his serene expression didn't falter.

Precariously, she turned on the spot to squint critically out through the window. Though a thick frost still lingered near the bottom of the pane, the glaring winter sun beamed through, bathing the bed and the stone floor in yellow light.

“Ross…” she sing-songed, cupping a hand over her eyes. “I thought we agreed you would get up earlier today.”

A quiet noise was the only reply. She turned to see that he was simply shifting his position on the pillow. The hand she had been sleeping under curled closer to his body and he released a deep sigh before going still once more.

She staggered up towards the pillow before his face and gripped hold of the edge. With a grunt of effort she tried to pull herself up, but the thick down hiding beneath allowed her little purchase. A sigh of frustration left her as she hunkered down and leaped up onto the thing, limbs scrabbling to keep her from sliding back down.

“Wake up.” She raised her voice this time, crawling closer to his face. Where she used to feel fear at the sight of him looming so close, she was now utterly accustomed to him. Close enough to touch him, she cleared her throat, affecting an authoritative tone. “I mean it. Come on.”

"What's the hurry?"

Her shoulders slumped in relief when she finally got a rumbling reply. His good eye flickered, peeking out at her through a slit.

"People generally eat a meal around this time of day," she remarked wryly. "At least, I'd like to."

Ross was not in agreement, and turned onto his stomach; her cry of surprise was muffled as she slipped onto her arse amongst the tightened folds of the pillow.

"I just need a few more minutes," he mumbled.

"No," she persisted, crawling closer. His ear was of nearest proximity, and she gave the lobe a tug. "Come on. I can't fix tea by myself."

Ross growled in his throat. She thought for sure she had made a mistake in disturbing him when his hand soared up to corner her against his neck. But his touch was gentle as ever. He stroked her back with fingers that were as strikingly warm as the rest of him. They wrapped around her waist as he went to push himself up in bed. He squinted at the window, massaging the bridge of his nose with his other hand. She tried not to stare at his mottled socket. It was always at its most tender when he first woke up.

"You're hungry?" he asked blearily.

“Aren't you?” She adjusted her hands on his fingers, trying to draw herself into a more comfortable position - easier said than done, especially when Ross was fidgeting on the bed for a more comfortable spot himself. He huffed out a sigh, looking back down at the warm, rumpled mess of sheets.

“I'm tired,” he grumbled. “What time is it?”

She didn't bother to conceal her amusement, cocking her head at him with a smile. “I wouldn't be surprised if it was nearly noon. You sleep a lot for someone who has so little work to do.”

“I've earned it,” he argued, then trailed off into a yawn. He curled his fingers more securely around the human as he arched his back in a gratuitous stretch. “Maybe I'll just lie back for a few more-”

“Ross.”

He sighed again, casting a shadow over her as he doubled over and jerked himself out of bed. “Alright, alright. Tea it is.”

The kitchen was freezing despite the vivid sunshine outside the window. Ross cursed at the chilling feeling of icy stone under his feet and cupped Valeria ever closer to his chest.

“Fire went out,” he griped, moving over to the cindery hearth to regard it with annoyance.

He lit a match against the side of the fireplace, settling a small bit of kindling ablaze. After adding two logs to the grill, the flames began to strengthen. He stayed crouched there until he could feel a toasty glow, then moved to prepare some porridge for them both.

Valeria was still getting used to the strange accumulation of spices and fruits that characterized giant dishes. Ross insisted he was a novice when it came to cooking, but she could hardly tell. She tipped back the thimble full of porridge to her mouth, sipping delicately at the milk brimming on the surface.

"I had a dream last night that I could fly," Valeria remarked between bites. She wiped her mouth on her sleeve.

"Did you?"

She nodded, taking another swallow. "You were in it too, only you weren't… you. You were smaller. Almost human sized."

Ross snorted. "Sounds more like a nightmare."

"No, it was… nice."

He hummed, still pottering about the room while his own enormous serving cooled on the table. “Nice for you, maybe.”

She scoffed, setting the thimble down heavily to one side and reaching for her tea when his shadow fell over her. “You didn't seem to mind,” she commented. Her legs crossed tight as the tabletop juddered slightly, Ross leaning over to sprinkle a generous handful of brambles into his bowl.

“Oh yeah?” he grunted.

“Would it really be so bad?” she teased him, catching his eye with a smile.

He kept one berry in his palm, using his thumb to pick it apart some. Valeria’s smile grew at the concentrated scowl that crossed his face. “I guess not if you were with me,” he allowed. He opened his mouth as if to say more, then thought better of it. Instead his finger and thumb crowded into Valeria’s space as he dropped a few misshapen pieces of fruit into the thimble.

“I could show you how it's done,” she agreed, pulling the thimble back towards her with marked interest.

“What happened in your dream then?” he challenged her as he dropped into his chair. The table quaked again and he leaned forward to steady his arms on either side of his bowl.

Valeria stammered as he unintentionally loomed. Friendly, handsome, kind as he had proved to be… he was still immense compared to her, and she couldn't shake the shiver that ran up her spine.

"You know, I don't remember," she exclaimed, looking sheepish. "It's all blurry now, just bits and pieces."

Ross eased back, turning his attention to his food. "So long as it was pleasant."

They hardly had a moment between them to relax before there was a gentle knock at the door. Ross bristled, his hand immediately inching towards Valeria.

"It's me!" A muffled voice proclaimed.

"Alasdair," Ross muttered. He visibly slumped in the relief that his secret was not about to be discovered for a second time. He let him in, offering him a seat at the table and a bowl of porridge.

The other giant eyed her as he circled around to take his seat.  He had dutifully kept her presence a secret, but Valeria got the distinct impression he was still undressing her with his eyes every time he came around.

"Human." Alasdair nodded at her.

She scowled, relocating near the arm Ross had resting on the table. "I told you before, my name is Valeria."

"I don't care what your-" A glare from Ross promptly silenced him. Alasdair sighed. "Valeria it is."

Valeria looked satisfied, though still wary as she sipped the last dregs of milk and oats from the thimble. It filled her vision so she couldn’t see the giant opposite her when she lifted it to her face, but she had no doubt he was still staring at her.

“How are things going out there?” It was the question Ross always demanded.

Alasdair huffed out a sigh. “Honestly? The damned kingdom is recovering from our attack more quickly than we could’ve hoped.”

“I thought you and Rhey saw the castle still in ruins,” Ross frowned.

“Oh, it is.” He pulled his bowl in close to his chest and picked up his spoon. “Still no sign of Amos either, other than his letters. But a couple of days ago Phillip sent us out further.” He glanced up, regarding Ross grimly. “Looks like Pacifia finally decided to step in.”

Valeria gave a start. “I thought Winifred would stay out of something like this,” she piped up. “Her kingdom never gets involved with our disputes.”

Alasdair shook his head. The serious look on his face didn't suit him. "Seems the entire world knows we've reached a turning point."

Ross leaned forward. "The armour improvements I discussed with Aaron… have they been implemented?"

"We're working on it round the clock. But we're running out of time," Alasdair went on, paling. "We've seen their numbers. Over the border, in the fields by Greendale… a sea of them."

When Ross was quiet, he leaned forward eagerly. "There's room for another knight in our ranks, Ross."

"Alasdair-"

"Phillip still puts his faith in you! A whole team of men could be yours to lead, if you wanted it."

Ross shook his head wearily. "I'm not in shape for any fighting right now."

Alasdair's blue eyes flickered down, and Valeria felt her inside squirm as they narrowed at her. "This is about her, isn't it? You won't fight because she's here."

Ross' hand was immediately around her, a protective wall. His palm hit her feet, cupping her closer to the arm she was leaned against.

"She needs me. And besides… those wicked contraptions the humans constructed - what's left of them - don't do shit. I made sure of it. This battle has no need of me."

“Whether that's true or not, we want you,” Alasdair pressed on, turning his steely gaze onto Ross. “Me and the boys. We want you with us when we take on the humans. Leading us.”

“Look, I just said-”

“I know. But you haven't been around to see what's been going on these past few weeks.”

Ross’ hand didn't relax around Valeria. “You've been telling me,” he argued. “Everything.”

“But you haven't seen it,” Alasdair insisted. He dug his spoon into his bowl with needless aggression. “They're recovering so fast. Fixing their machines quicker than our knights can break them. Fahlingdale have their own supply too, possibly a greater one than Greendale. We still haven't dug up their supply of the Kiss.”

Ross was very still, staring back at Alasdair as if he were having difficulty processing what was being said. Then, he scowled. “Phillip’s men can deal with that problem on their own. I'm done with human weaponry.”

“You're just going to abandon us then?” Alasdair demanded after a swallow of porridge. “You're picking a human over your comrades?”

Glancing up at the underside of Ross' chin, Val caught him rolling his eye in impatience.

"How many times are we going to have this argument?"

"At least admit that's what you're doing, Ross. You're too busy with your little pet to even consider-

"Don't call her that," Ross snapped. Valeria nearly spilled her thimble of porridge when his fingers twitched and his voice rumbled above her.

"What exactly would you call it, then?"

“Alasdair…”

“Because it's definitely not normal,” he went on, stirring the contents of his bowl. “Not when it's gone on for this long. You should have done her in as soon as you got the chance. Why didn't you-”

“Don't say that. She's sitting right here for fuck’s sake,” Ross growled. “She's not some animal. Stop acting like she is.”

Alasdair barked a laugh, eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “She's just a human, Ross. You can't get attached, or you'll be slave to their whims forever. You've heard the stories.”

Valeria squirmed under Ross’ hand but was ignored.

“She's not like other humans,” Ross insisted. “She's different.”

“Oh yeah?” Alasdair regarded the little woman scathingly. “And how's that then?”

Ross paused.

“Ross-”

“Shh. Shut up.” He sat straight, turning towards the front door. The six scrawny chickens in the patch of grass out front were squawking madly like they always did when someone came into the garden.

“Someone coming?” Alasdair cocked his head.  

Ross fixed him with an urgent look. "You didn't bring anyone, did you?"

Suddenly, Alasdair looked fearful. He looked to the back door as a shadow filled the frosted glass.

"Oh shit," he murmured.

"Ross?" Valeria set her thimble aside, pulling herself up. "Is everything al-"

"Shhh!"

She was promptly hushed by the man in question, and scooped up into the palm of the hand that laid before her. She was still gasping from the sudden change in altitude when there was a resounding knock, and Ross decided it was no longer suitable for her to be out in the open.

"Ross! Open the door. I need to speak with you."

She recognized the booming voice with an unpleasant twist in her stomach. That one. The one who had stolen her right out of the dungeon.

"Just let him in," Alasdair whispered, brandishing a hand at the door.

But Ross was nearly as panicked as Valeria. "He'll see her," he breathed.

She could see his mind racing as he looked over himself, at Alasdair, and then the rest of the kitchen. His eyes lit up as he spotted the pots and pans hanging over the stove. Valeria was jostled something terrible as he crossed the room in a hurry, and gently dropped her into a small saucepan hung facing the wall.

"Don't make a sound!" he whispered. Then, his face disappeared, and the back door creaked open moments later.  

All she could see was the dark wall before her, a tiny chink of light around the very rim of the pan. She couldn't see the tall giant who strode into the hallway when Ross moved to the door.

“Morgan,” Ross greeted him.
Valour and Blood || 3.2
We get to check in on how Erica is faring! And Valeria continues to find her peaceful new life with Ross interrupted by new trouble D:

Co-Written as always by the very talented MentalcaseVole!
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Obsess-Confess
Little Miss Maggie
Artist | Student | Varied
United States
:iconrequestsopen: :icontradesopen:
Finally uploaded a pic of myself!
I'm a college student, majoring in character animation. My dream is to work at Pixar Animation Studios.
I love to draw people. The human body is a master piece in and of itself. I don't have a lot of my serious art on this account, but that might change.
I gravitate towards romantic subjects, or very emotional things. I like feeling something when I create. In a weird way, the mood of the piece possesses me while I make it.
I love art, writing, and discovering new ideas. I'm always up for a GT roleplay, or doing sketch trades.
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Hi, was the story called The Doll House taken down or was it written by someone else? I read it awhile ago and I reread it a lot and I can't seem to remember clearly but I was sure you were the one that wrote it. I didn't care that it wasn't finished and/or that it died I just enjoyed the interactions.
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