Marici’s senses were overwhelmed as she struggled to concentrate. All she knew for sure right now was she had fallen into one of the demons she was chasing trap and she was holding tightly to Alexander’s arm. She was struggling so much with her senses she didn’t know how tight she was holding and she hoped she wasn’t hurting him but she knew she shouldn’t let him go. If he was a human shed be worried about breaking something but he was a demon now so even if she was unknowingly hurting him at least it wouldn’t be too bad. She’d make it up to him while she was making being this dumb up to him. She had come into this knowing this demons tricks and she had still got caught up in one.
For whatever reasons the rave like strobe lights were the hardest on her right now. Everything was pitch dark, even to a demons eyes. The only light that would appear was a random, overly bright color. Music blared, the kind you’d also expect at a rave but at ear drum bursting volume. She couldn’t smell anything but decay and she was horrified to think that was the meaty, bloody substance she was now wading through. She couldn’t see long enough to know but she could swear they were walking through human or animal corpses, possibly even both. She couldn’t recall any of his victims talking about this place before but she had a gut feeling he knew she was after him so maybe he had planned this evening of horror just for her and her mate.
Alexander was overwhelmed by all the stimuli, but he didn’t let go of Marici. He refused to lose her in the disorienting darkness. He tried to single out any sound or smell as Marici had taught him, but he couldn’t.
“What’s happening?” He said over the noise.
“He’s trying to confuse us.” She yelled back.
He squeezed her hand a little tighter. “You’re lost.” He heard he words whispered in his ear, surprisingly clear in all the noise. “Lost and alone. She’ll leave you, she’ll run.”
“Shut up.” He said quietly. “Fuck off.” He refused to doubt his mate.
“alex?!” she yelled and he screamed “he’s whispering lies to me” It seemed the room got louder, he didn’t like them communicating. Marici let out a mixture of a groan and yell though it now couldn’t be heard. She tightened her grip and tried to use a powerful spell of light. Nothing happend except the demon could be heard cackling at her failure. He was blocking her magic and she needed to figure out how. She stopped moving so she could fully concentrate on remembering everything about this demon. So stimulated by light and sound it felt like her brain might explode but now she wasn’t the only one in danger, her mate was too. It gave her the drive to power through the pain and think so she could get him safely out of this trap.
Alexander wrapped his arms around Marici, wanting to shield her a well as he could while she stood there. He wanted to ask what she was doing, but he knew she wouldn’t hear him and he didn’t want to sound like he was doubting her. He knew the sound must hurt her ears and the light her eyes, even he was ready to throw up at overwhelming it all was. He felt her bring her arms up and it took him a moment to realize she was covering her ears. He was sure her hands wouldn’t be enough so he brought his own up, sliding them over hers to help muffle the noise.
Marici wished she could thank him. What he was doing for her wasn’t much better but it did help and she was unbearably miserable. All this sound, going back and forth between not being able to see and being flashed with strobes was torture. She had been through some in her time but none like this. She felt Alexander kiss her head and she nearly smiled despite her agony. In a time like this it crossed his mind to be affectionate to her. He had to be scared, he had to be in pain himself but his thoughts were on her. “what did I do to deserve you Alexander?” she said it out loud even though she knew there was no way for him to hear her. She would say it again later, later when she made this up to her mate.
With his help she was able to pull facts out of her mind. The torture, he was really into the torture. It was the only reason he’d kidnap people. Torture was the only thing in the world that made him feel happiness or sexual pleasure. Hence why they were here, in this hell hole. He was sitting somewhere, watching, possibly jacking off to their discomfort. What else? What else? she urged her mind to come up with more aside from the obvious. He often did things within a town, somwhere not so cliche. He hated being cliche in any way he could avoid so she knew they weren’t in some dessert or deep underground. They were somewhere that hadn’t been used a million times in movies and books.
Alexander had to squeeze his eyes shut as he stood there. The flashing lights were making his stomach roll and he felt dizzy. He knew he should be able to ignore the noise and lights. He’d worked loud jobs while chasing Marici. “Look at you, trapped like rabbits.” The voice whispered. “Which of you should I take first?” Alexander pushed as close to Marici as possible, he wouldn’t be touching her.
Marici knew she had to physically explore their surroundings if she wanted answers and since her eyes were out of the question, she would have to feel around. If she could get an idea of the material that surrounded them, she might know precisely where they were. She reached out, walking forward a bit until her fingers bumped a wall. She flattened her palms, doing her best to pay attention to the texture.
She moved her hands slowly up, putting all her concentration, every thought process on her hands. One hand felt bumps, about an inch apart each while the other felt nothing but smoothness. Was he messing her mind? She moved a little, the bumps were in a lin straight up and only every so often. “what’re you doing?!” The demon yelled angrily, bored with how little they were reacting now. He had gone through all this work to trick the great Crow, bringer of death to anybody she deemed scum. He had caught her and had the ultimate bragging rights but she wasn’t being any fun at all anymore. Marici was going to cry, she was going to scream and she was going to beg just as everyone else he had ever caught did.
The hair on the back of Alexander’s neck stood on end as fear prickled over him. The malice in the air thickened, the air becoming cooler. There was something there behind him, he could feel it. He pressed his lips against Marici’s cheek, wishing he could tell her to keep looking no matter what happened. Fingers gripped the back of his neck and he was ripped away, tossed back and on the ground where he landed in the wet, sticky muck they had been walking through. He pushed himself up and he could see in the flashing lights that Marici was waving her arms around trying to find him. He wanted to tell her to focus on what she was doing, but he was kicked in the stomach and found himself sliding across the ground.
Marici felt panic setting in as she tried to find Alexander. “Alex!” She screamed, her voice drowned out by the music. “Alex!” She heard laughter and knew she had to calm down. If she could find out where they were, then she could beat the demon and save Alexander. She turned back to the wall, her eyes filling with tears as she felt around. She let her fingers trail over the bumps. She walked slowly, only stopping when the music became louder. She could feel vibrations and she reached out, her hand bumping into a speaker. She let her hand slide down and touched some trim. The speaker was built into the wall here. This building was built for music.
Alexander gasped as he opened his eyes. He hadn’t even realized he had passed out. He coughed as he stood, his side aching. He reached out, his hand sliding over a wall and he used it as a guide. “Marici!” He yelled. He had no idea how far he had been kicked from her. He did his best to stay alert as he moved forward, hoping he could fend off another surprise attack.
Marici was thinking again, even more desperate now to figure this out and end their nightmare. He hadn’t used a place like this before obviously but he rarely repeated. Her best guess was they were in one of the clubs that hosted raves. She knew this place had numerous clubs but only five legal ones hosted raves and two shady places did. He didn’t always go for easy but they had been closer to the more shady clubs when they were pulled into this so chances were they were in one of the two shady clubs. She had hunted in this town a few times before and had become semi acquainted with the town in the process so she had a fairly good idea now where they were. Regardless of which of the two clubs they were in she knew both.
She pulled her gun from its holster, glad she still had it, and pressed it against the speaker. She squeezed off a couple of rounds and nearly cheered when it stopped producing that loud music. With down it was much easier to hear now and her ears felt weird, almost like they were full of water. “Alexander?” She yelled, knowing if she could hear her own voice then he probably could too.
“Here.” He yelled back and she started towards his voice when the room suddenly went dead quiet and the lights stopped flashing. All she could hear was her and Alexander’s breathing. Bright light filled the room and she squinted, seeing Alexander standing on the other side of the room. He looked like he was holding his ribs.
“Thank goodness.” Another voice said in a mocking tone. “Stupid little Crow.” She felt something slam into her back and hit the ground with a loud thud.
“Leave her alone.” Alexander said and the demon was in front of him in the blink of an eye, his hand wrapping around his throat, lifting him off the ground and slamming him against the wall.
“He has such beautiful eyes, I wonder what sound he would make if I gouged them out.”
“Get away from him, you bastard.” Marici said as she got back to her feet and raised her gun.
“I am the one in control here Marici”
“Fuck you” She was now pointing the gun at him. “Marici, you know as well as I if you try to shoot me I’ll use your wittle awex as a shield. He may be a demon now but he may aswell be a child when it comes to using his abilities. Did he even get any little crow? Well, I guess that’s a stupid question. You wouldn’t tell me if he did but regardless the fact I have him by the throat speaks volumes as to his power. I was surprised you” She knew he was so full of himself he really expected her to just stand there while he rambled so she took a quick shot, getting him in the shoulder. The surprise made him drop Alex and he ran, trying to get to her before he had him again.
“I think you forget who you’re dealing with, asshole. I’m the fucking Crow and you’re nothing but a nuisance who hides like a coward and tortures your victims.”
He growled, sprinting towards her in a zig zag pattern. She tracked his movements and shot him again, this time catching him in the stomach so he slipped in the gore he had made and fell. She moved toward him and he kicked her legs out from under her then punched her in the face before getting over her and wrapping his hands around her throat to choke her. She kicked and bucked and he grinned down at her. “That’s right, fight.” Alexander surprised him with a kick to the temple which sent him sprawling and Marici coughed as she retrieved her gun. She rolled onto her side and shot the demon in the head as he was trying to get back up.
“Are you alright?” Alexander asked as he helped her up.
“I’m fine, are you hurt?”
“I’ll be okay”
“I’m so sorry Alex”
“Marici, you have nothing to be sorry for”
“But I do, how could I fall for his trap”
“Because, even someone as amazing as you messes up from time to time. You can’t expect yourself to be perfect”
“But I have you with me now, I can’t make mistakes anymore” she hugged him “what if I had lost you Alex…I’ve never let anybody in quite like I have you and if I lost you..I”
“shhh, we’re a good team and look, we’re both fine. Lets try to get out of here okay baby” she nodded and they started looking for an exit. When they found it it wouldn’t budge but she had no problems breaking it down. “come on, lets hurry before we’re seen like this” They both shifted, somthing Alexander struggled with at first but had become a natural at it. They flew home, both eager to be back there with eachother.
Alexander had never felt happier to be home and he could see that relief mirrored in Marici’s eyes as they made their way inside, him grabbing a garbage bag and her going to the bathroom to get the shower started. There would be no saving their clothes and they tossed them in the bag then stepped under the water. They cleaned each other, making sure not a single drop of blood stayed on their skin. When they were rinsed, he pulled her tightly against him and just stood with her under the warm, relaxing spray. He had been terrified he would lose her, especially when they got separated. “I may never bring you with me again.” Marici said and he pulled back enough to look into her eyes.
“You know I’d just worry and follow you.”
“I know, I’ve seen how tenacious you can be.”
He chuckled as he pressed their foreheads together. “I can’t help it, I love you more than anything. I’d follow you to the ends of the earth.”
“I thought I was going to lose you.”
“I’m too stubborn to die.”
“Seriously Alexander, I’ve never been more scared.”
“Me either, I was terrified when he separated us.”
“I’ll never let myself be tricked again”
“well look at us, we made it through and killed the bastard”
“yeah, at least there’s that”
“we’ll get the next one too. I never doubted you for a second and I never will Marici” They stayed in the shower until the water ran cold then put on one of their favorite movies and cuddled up together. Alex wanted so badly to chase all her worries for him away but he knew all; she needed was time. Marici wasn’t used to messing up so he knew that alone was hard on her. He was happy when she finally was into the movie and not thinking about what had transpired earlier that day. He was even happier when she fell asleep in his arms, exhausted from the job. He kissed her head “goodnight my beautiful Crow”
When Marici woke the next morning she just lay there for a little while, not wanting to move out of Alexander’s embrace. She quietly listened to his heartbeat, feeling content being enveloped in his warmth. When she finally sat up, she went slow, giving him a gentle kiss on the cheek. “I love you.” She whispered then went to make breakfast. She didn’t know how she was going to make that trauma up to him and she hated that he had been injured because of her mistakes. She put on a pot of coffee then pulled out bacon and eggs and also ingredients for pancakes. She wanted to make Alexander a big breakfast.
The smell of coffee and the sound of bacon sizzling woke Alexander. He stretched and yawned as he got up. He could hear Marici humming to herself and he hoped that meant she felt better today. He didn’t want to interrupt her so he went and leaned against the kitchen door frame, watching her move between bacon, pancakes, and eggs. She was so beautiful and perfect. She jumped when she realized she was being watched and he smiled lovingly at her.
“Jerk, I could have knocked something over.”
“Sorry, it’s hard not to get lost in you.”
She blushed. “Oh hush and get yourself some coffee.”
“Can I have a kiss first?” She nodded and he crossed over to her, pressing their lips together. “Love you.”
“Love you too.”
He took a mug down out of the cabinet and poured himself some coffee “do you need more baby?” he asked, noticing her cup on the counter. “If you wouldn’t mind” He smiled, taking her cup and pouring more in it then adding some creamer for her. He didn’t know where her spoon was so he just got a new spoon to stir it with. He then placed it back where it was and began setting the table for her “hey, I’m trying to treat you”
“setting the table takes nowhere near the time cooking the meal does. It will still be you treating me” Soon she was done cooking and they sat down together “How’re you feeling today?” Alexander asked. “shouldn’t I be asking you that?”
“No, because I’m fine, you for some reason feel responsible for what happened”
“well” he held up a finger “You’re not, in any way, shape or form. You’re going to mess up somtimes, we both are. Now that I’m going with you it will always be with me or you there so you can’t beat yourself up over it every time”
“I was trained better than that.”
He took her hand, smiling warmly at her. “Marici, I bet you anything your parents made their share of mistakes. None of you are immune to accidents. I’m not mad, not at you anyway, I was mad at him, but we’re both alive and safe so let it go.”
“You know you’re way too sweet for me. I’ll just end up causing you more trouble.”
“I’m fine with trouble, I love you, now let’s eat before our pancakes get soggy.”
“I still want to do something for you, besides breakfast.”
Alexander took a bite of his food as he thought. “How about we go to your home world. It’ll be a nice break from work and I can finally meet your parents.”
“I’m sure they’re busy, my brother too.”
“We’ll never know if we don’t visit, it’ll be fun, think about it.”
“If you really want to go I don’t mind taking you baby. Hopefully they will be around and free to hangout.”
“Great, when can we go?”
“I guess today” They finished their food then Marici said “we should fly to the portal we need. Just follow me” Alex nodded and shifted, Marici following suit and taking the lead once they were out of the apartment. It was a long flight, Marici taking them deep into forest, landing by a river, in a great circle of stones. They shifted back to humans and she said “You’re going to feel like you’re falling but you’re going to be okay”
“I trust you implicitly baby”
“I’ll teach you this chant, incase you should ever need it once the visit is over” She began speaking in the old language of her world. Nobody there used it any longer but it was still needed to travel back and forth to it. It felt so sudden when Alex felt it in his stomach, that weird, uncomfortable feeling you get when you take a long, straight drop. Almost as suddenly as the drop started he felt Marici holding him and he opened his eyes “are you okay?” She asked and he said “wow”
“Yeah” she said with a laugh.
“That’s how I imagine it would feel if an elevator suddenly broke.”
“Probably a good comparison.” She slid her hand into his. “Come on.” She pulled him out of the circle of stones that matched the ones back in the human world. He couldn’t help but notice that these had little lines etched in them.
“So, tell me more about your family, I want to be prepared when we get there.”
“My mother’s name is Agatha, my father is Dornan and my brother is Weylan. They’re all crows like me and do the same kind of work. You wouldn’t know my mother is a hunter, she’s always so sunny when she’s not working. My dad’s a bit gruff, you know like a grumbling grizzly bear, but he loves us, especially my mother. My brother a sweet guy, a loner most of the time unless he’s visiting our parents.”
“So he’s you, just a guy.”
“Sure, I guess. You’ll like him if you think about it that way.”
“What about your home town?”
“There’s no crime since my parents live there, no one wants to mess with a bunch of Crows. I’ll give you the grand tour after we see if my parents are home.”
When they arrived at her parents house the lights were on “wow, they are” she knocked and her father answered. His previously serious face shifting to happiness upon seeing it was his daughter “Marici! Agatha it is our daughter” Dornan hugged her crushingly tight then looked over at Alexander, a little of the seriousness returning “who are you?”
“My mate dad” Marici answered as her mother started hugging her. “I’m Alexander sir.” Dornan shook Alex’s hand “well good to meet you.” Alex smiled when Agatha hugged him, he could already see what a warm person she was “you have to tell me all about how you two met” As they walked inside Marici said “I’m sorry it’s been so long” Her father answered “You’ve been hard at work I’m sure. We’ve missed you but we understand. What we do is important and now that I see you have a new mate I understand even more so”
“You say new like she’s had one before” Her mother said. Marici blushed and her father guffawed. “well in any case I’ll try to find Weylan after we’ve spent some time together. He doesn’t say so but he’s missed you too Marici. Still single though, I guess if one of our loner children can find a mate the other can too so there’s hope”
“yeah, I need grandchildren baby” Agatha interjected again and Marici’s blush intensified “mom” her voice was near a whimper and her father guffawed again.
Alexander chuckled and took Marici’s hand. “We haven’t talked about kids, but I figure she’ll tell me when she’s ready. It’s a big decision.”
“Well sometimes, Weylan was an accident, but he was so worth it.”
“Agatha.” Dornan said.
“Alright, alright, I’ll stop.” She kissed her husband’s cheek. “I’ll make us some tea then we can talk, you two just relax, I’m sure you’re tired. Oh Alexander, do you like cookies?”
“Yes ma’am, I do.”
“So polite, please call me Agatha or Aggie, whichever is fine. Ma’am is reserved for clients and criminals.”
“Alright and yes, I love cookies, thank you.”
“Make yourself at home then and Dornan be nice to the boy, no intimidation.”
When Agatha was out of the room Dornan asked “so, what have you been up to?”
“working mostly before Alex but now I try to put a lot of space between jobs”
“Good, that’s important. I’m glad we managed to teach you that your mate comes first and when you have kids, your family comes first. What we do is needed but you need to take care of you too”
“When you do have kids, are you going to train them like we trained you?”
“Yeah, I’ll bring them back here to do it.”
“Do you think you’ll move back then, when you have kids I mean” He sounded so hopeful “I’d have to talk to Alex but maybe” Dornan nodded. When Agatha came out with cookies and drinks they talked about how the two of them met and about their relationship thus far. When she told her parents about the job they just finished Dornan asked “you seem ashamed of that last job”
“I got caught in a trap dad” Her mother spoke again “well it happens, especially when your young. Your father and I have messed up too”
“really?” Her mother laughed “we’re not perfect, not even your father. Mistakes are a part of life. You two lived, thats what matters”
“I refuse to believe dad of all people messed up on a job.”
Her mother giggled. “He wasn’t always the seasoned, agile hunter you know, he used to be quite clumsy. Did you know our first job together he was so distracted by my leather pants he dropped his knife and alerted our target?”
“Aggie, stop, she doesn’t need to know that.”
“Oh come on, you were young and I looked good in those pants.”
“You still do.”
Marici felt her face heat and Alexander was trying not to laugh at Dornan. He didn’t seem like the type of man to get embarrassed, but Agatha was doing a good job at making him feel just that. “And I once overestimated and jump, missed the tree I was aiming for and slid all the way down a hill and into my targets camp. You could say we were both surprised.”
“Thank you guys…for telling me that stuff. I was so embarrassed and felt so horrible I got him into such a bad situation”
“You don’t hold that against her right Alex?” Agatha asked and Alex said “No, not at all. I don’t expect her to be perfect”
“so see baby, nothing to be worried about or ashamed over” Her father stood “I better go ahead and try to find Weylan. You three wait here” he kissed his wifes head then walked out. “You still make dad putty in your hands huh mom”
“Maybe, I’m pretty lucky Marici, your father is a good man. I always saw that in him. He’s always been so gruff and scary but I always saw the good heart in him” A few hours later Dornan came back with Weylan who tackled his sister, sending the two rolling on the floor as they wrestled. “I’d stay out of their way Alex” Agatha warned.
“Hello brat.” Weylan said as he pinned her down and she shifted into a crow then back to her human form as she jumped at him. “You little cheat.”
“You started it by surprising me.” They continued rolling around until Marici had him in a headlock then he just stood up and flipped her onto his shoulder. “Put me down.”
“No way.” He let his eyes rest on Alexander as he held his struggling sister tightly. “So this is the mate.” He held out his hand. “Nice to meet you, I hope my sister hasn’t been causing you any trouble.”
“Hardly.” Alexander stood and shook hands. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“You as well.” Marici elbowed him in the back. “Hey, easy.” He lowered her feet to the ground then hugged her. “How have you been sis?”
“Good, you didn’t win by the way.”
“I disagree, you were clearly helpless.”
“You wish.” She jabbed him in the ribs and he jumped. “Still ticklish I see.”
“Truce okay? Cheater.”
Agatha laughed, loving seeing her kids playing again. Alexander had an amazing time getting to know her family that day. When they were given her old bedroom that night Alex asked her “so, if you’d want to live here while you trained the kids that’s okay with me”
“You’d really be okay with that?”
“My mom and dad are both deceased, I’ve never had much of a relationship with my brother and I’ve never really gotten to know my family. As I’ve told you my parents just liked to stay home. There wasn;’t going to grandmas for christmas and all that. Regardless, you’re my home my beautiful crow and it makes sense for us to live here if you’d prefer to train our children here”
“I think it would be good. I’ve missed my family”
“and I can see they have missed you. We can move here whenever you want and until then lets come visit them more frequently” She snuggled into Alex “you’re the best. I love you so much Alex”
“I love you too Marici” He stroked her hair then asked “so, when can we start trying?”
“when we go home. I think I’d feel weird having sex in my parents house. Plus, who knows if my dad will rip your head off” He looked a little scared and she laughed “Alex, I wasn’t serious”
“He looks pretty intimidating”
“he’s a good man”
“Protective though, I can see him loseing his mind over his family”
“Yeah, but he knows I’m a big girl now” They stayed through the next day and left after supper. She went ahead and let her parents know she’d be moving back once she became pregnant with their first child which excited all three of them. “I can’t wait” her mother said as she hugged her daughter one final time. As they walked away Alex admired this world while he could. He actually couldn’t wait to live in such an interesting place.
~ The End