TROIAN--

Troian bounced as she walked down the sidewalk, she had finished the exams at school. He had made the Dean’s List again. She was done for the semester finally and had celebrated by getting some candy apple red streaks in her hair. She loved them. She knew it wasn’t professional, but since she ran the pub mostly she didn’t think anyone would really mind. Her Father might not like it too much. She found she might be able to work around that though.

She unlocked the door to the apartment and set her bags down, flipping through the mail for both the pub and home. She set her Father’s mail back on the table, except for the bills, as usual. She sat down with her laptop and went through the bills, opening the spreadsheets and quickly going through them all. She sat quietly and paid the bills from the business account for the bar, and the home bills from their own accounts. She was grateful she had scholarships for her degree because between the bar and other things, she wouldn’t be able to go. They did turn a good profit, because business was better lately. She finished all of her adulating for the afternoon, she decided. She turned the computer off and wandered into her bedroom to change for the evening for the pub again.

Sliding her jeans on and a nice blouse, her boots that didn’t hurt her feet as she tended and worked that night. She came out of her bedroom after running a brush through her hair, fixing her minimal makeup. She was proud of herself she admitted. She took out her awards letter and certificates she got the semester and set them on top of her Dad’s mail. Maybe he’d say something this way. She grabbed some yogurt from the fridge and bounced down the backstairs through the office. She hesitated at the storeroom and heard voices coming from the library behind the door. She decided not to push her luck and kept going, checking the boxes in the room to make sure she had everything for next year’s taxes. She moved some of the boxes around back towards the office to look through later.

She finished her yogurt and rinsed out the glass, she made it herself, as she did most things, setting it back on her desk in the office. She thought of it as hers since she did most of the work anyways. For the pub anyhow. She pouted slightly seeing the stack of work her Father wanted her to do for the magics and sighed. She grabbed a coffee and sat down, getting to work on that too. She blew her hair out of her face, muttering quietly to herself. Later she saw she was going to need a book from the library, she wasn’t in the mood for Mitja’s baiting and provoking of her if she did go in. Nor of having her Father yell at her if she did react. She set that work aside for now, finished the other out and checked the time. Still a few hours left. She stood and stretched out her back and wandered into the pub to start for the night.

-_-_-_-_-_-

Troian wiped down the bar at her Dad's pub. She set the glasses up and made sure all the taps were working before opening up. After finishing the set up she still had some time and recounted the drawer to double check it, more for herself than anyone else. She looked around to make sure her Father wasn't downstairs yet and hopped over the bar.

She landed on the other side and wandered to the jukebox and double checked the songs with her phone app, she chose the first five and hit play. Walking around the room, singing along to the music as she put all the chairs down from the tables. It was rare she got to pick the first songs, mostly because her Father didn't like her choices. Not that she could blame him, they were slightly obnoxious. But hell, she still had that little thing inside of her that had to annoy him.

Sliding her hair back from her face, she wandered back behind the bar, singing along quietly.


She wondered idly where her Father was at this point. She checked to make sure the cook was in the night and the other bartender was also in and logged into the system. Seeing both were doing fine the cook shoved her a crabcake sandwich he just made up with sriracha sauce. She took a bite out of it and and grinned at him, letting him know she liked it.

She wandered back upstairs quietly to the apartment above the bar they shared which was their house. Not that she needed her father there, seeing as how she ran the business most of the time. She kept the books balanced and their help paid. She had to take care of everything most of the time for years. Not everyone had a head for business. Her Father was one of those people. She didn't mind it so much, what with the magic, demons and angels running around. A human cop had been sniffing around recently because of a death caused by a demon. She was glad her Father had warded the pub. She spent mot of her time studying for both her business degree and her magicks which she had been born with thanks to her Father. She didn't even know who her Mother was, she asked once and he went strangely silent and then drank so much that night she had to help him back into the apartment.

Shit happens, she kept to herself and did her work. Making sure she kept her Father's business in line. She finished the sandwich as she checked the assignments for class the next day. She had them all done thankfully and wandered downstairs to bring the plate back to the cook.

-_-_-_-_-_-

Troian wasn't happy with her Father, not that was news but shit happens. She didn't like Mitja being so close to him, didn't like him there. She was also hurt that he was allowed in his library unsupervised when Gods forbid she was allowed in there at all except under strict supervision from him. She had another row with him over it recently. Between his shitty head for business, and Mitja just smirking at her last night when he went in, had put her in a foul mood.

She knew he was still in there at the moment. She didn't even acknowledge his presence when he walked in the night before. That's what the argument with her Father had been about. Plus he found a book she nicked from there about walking between worlds. She hadn't even gotten past the first few pages when her Father had found it.

She checked the time and saw it was still awhile yet to opening. Her Father had asked her before to bring food in to Mitja inside the library, but that arrogant dick could get his own food. She left it outside the door for him. She didn't directly defy her Father, but she wasn't going to do exactly as he asked her either on the matter.

She wandered over the stage she had finished cleaning earlier, picking up the guitar and tuning it, plugging into the amp and sat down thinking, as she strummed absently along the strings, warming her voice up as she went along and played with the chords some more. She had a nice mellow soprano when she did sing, and she didn't know it was exactly like her own Mother's though. She hummed softly and switched chords again as she went, singing since she had the pub to herself for the most part.


Troians hands danced over the chords and guitar as she sang softly. Hitting every note and closing her eyes. She threw her hair over her shoulder and changed chords as she continued to sing. It put her in her own little world and she liked being there. It relaxed her as she let the music carry her through the song. "I heard there was a sacred chord, that David played and it pleased the Lord. But you don't really care about music do you?" She changed chords. "It goes like this the fourth the fifth. The minor fall and the major lift." She sang and kept her voice light and airy, truly lost in herself and the music.


ALEXI--

Alexi slipped out of the library, closing the door quietly behind him so as not to disturb the sorcerer slumped over a scattered pile of books, finally sleeping. And then Alexi promptly nearly tripped over a plate of food on the floor outside the partially hidden door he'd just closed. He bent to pick it up, frowning a bit. That girl, gods help him, he loved her, but her animosity toward Dmitri was sometimes a problem. Not quite as much of one as her tendency to poke into magics she wasn't even remotely ready for yet, but sometimes he felt the two might be tied in a list of things that made his life far more complicated than it needed to be.


He continued musing on his wayward daughter's spiteful attitude toward the sorcerer as he secured the hidden door to the library and threaded his way through the boxes scattered about the storeroom in what, to him, appeared a random mess, but that Troian insisted was a properly ordered and organized collection of old paperwork. Sometimes, he was almost tempted to sit her down and have a long talk with her about what her issue with Mitja was. But, he never could quite bring himself to do it.


Besides, he knew what at least part of it was, even if she didn't yet. She'd inherited quite a bit of raw power from her mother – though she believed she got it from him, and this was an assumption he'd never bothered to correct. Mages, such as he was, had no inherent power to pass down. What little he possessed had come at the cost of decades of study and work and practice. But with his daughter, well, it was different. She didn't possess enough inherent power to let her completely avoid the trappings of witchcraft, but sometimes she came close. And it was, unfortunately, just enough for her to sense the otherness of Mitja.


He stood on the landing between the stairwell leading up to their apartment and the one he'd just come up leading down to the basement for a moment to decide if he should just go on back up to the apartment since the pub wasn't due to open for several hours yet, or to go hide in the pub to avoid a confrontation with Troian. The plate he held decided it for him. Well, mostly. Between thoughts of the troubles with his daughter and worry over this elemental situation Mitja was dealing with, he just wasn't ready for another fight. What he really wanted was a drink and a moment's peace.


He pushed open the door and strode into the main room of the pub, only to be stopped in his tracks by the sound of the guitar. Well, there went the plan to avoid Troian for awhile, apparently. He moved slowly and silently over to the bar, where he placed the plate down quietly and perched on a stool to watch the girl fiddling around idly with the guitar that was kept propped by the little-used stage. Despite his troubled thoughts – and a far too familiar pang of pain at how much she looked and sounded like her mother – a smile tugged at his lips as he watched the daughter he dearly loved begin to sing.


TROIAN--

Troian opened her eyes and watched her fingers slide along the guitar briefly as she made sure she didn't skip the next chord completely. She frowned slightly in concentration, forgetting she was singing as well as playing the guitar. She picked up the guitar later, when she started college but found it easily enough to pluck the songs out. Taking lessons had been ingrained in her to learn how to do things, not just go by feel all the time. These lessons were working in her brain now as she went along as she made sure her fingering was correct before singing again once that part or the song was over.

The guitar was an old Spanish Guitar she had fallen in love with as she walked past a pawn shop on her way to the pub one day from classes. Not exactly suited for this song, but she her Father didn't care that she kept it at the stage. Usually behind it. She had just put new strings on it this morning before she headed off to classes. She had to give it a better tuning she found as she heard the sound come out wrong. She plucked out a few more minutes of the song and stopped, taking her phone out to tune the guitar. It was funny how that was more accurate than the regular tuner she had gotten from the store. She plucked the strong again and tightened it slightly as she watched it even out on her phone.

She sat quietly for a moment oblivious to the fact her Father was in the room obviously. She slid the strap back over her head and slid into another song. "I pray you'll be our eyes
And watch us where we go. And help us to be wise In times when we don't know. Let this be our prayer. When we lose our way. Lead us to a place. Guide us with your grace
To a place where we'll be safe." She softly switched right into the Italian part of the ong without thinking or needed to look where her hands were on the guitar. She ht every note. And then slowly stopped singing strumming along quietly and trailing off with that too. She strummed her thumb along the strings as she settled her awareness back into her and sensed her Father in the room. She took a deep breath and decided to just shit be for a little while. Tonight at least. She checked herself to make sure she wasn't snarky as she turned off the amp, unplugged the guitar and set it against the chair. "Hey Dad." She said softly as she walked over to him, smiling.


ALEXI--

When she finished up and turned her attention to him, he could have almost forgotten they'd been fighting earlier. Her smile as she approached nearly took his breath away. She was just so much like her mother – her voice, her looks, her expressions, even the way she moved. Only where she was opinionated and stubborn and so very capable did the differences between mother and daughter become painfully obvious. No, she might look like her mother, but she was a very different creature altogether. And he was grateful for that.


Quietly, he nudged the plate with it's now-cold food along the bar a bit, pointedly, so that she couldn't help but notice it. “Troian, I know you don't like him, even if I don't think he deserves it. But what he's doing is important, more than I hope you ever have to understand. He deserves our help,” he said, trying to keep his tone light, despite the frustration and even sorrow he felt, his eyes not quite meeting hers as he spoke. “Even if it's just something as mundane as seeing to it that he eats at least occasionally.”


He ran his hand through his short brown hair, his gaze drifting to the bottles arranged along the wall behind the bar wistfully, before forcing his attention away from them. No matter how much he might want that drink right now, it wasn't the time. There was just too much going on that needed him at his best. Or, as close to it as he was likely to get. Blue eyes flicked up to his daughter, and he sighed. “One of these days, we need to have a talk about you and these Dmitri issues, Troian.”


TROIAN--

Troian stopped when he nudged the plate, her smile falling from her face immediately. She sighed heavily. "Hi Dad, how was your day? Mine was wonderful, I passed my exams and made the Dean's List again. No, I still have my scholarship, so don't worry about money." She sighed and crossed her arms over her chest, "Oh you're proud of me? Thanks, Daddy, means the world to me, truly." She leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Good talk." She picked up the dish and wandered into the back to drop them into the sink.

She was in such a good mood too. She sighed, and remembered she was not going to be snarky. Her eyes welled up a little as she stood there, blinking away her tears, Troian sighed and wandered back out to the bar, keeping the bar itself between her and her Father. "I brought him food, I left it outside the door. I'm not going to sit in his lap and feed him." Her voice soft and a little hurt.

Troian's gray eyes were guarded. She couldn't even explain to him how he felt so very off to her and he rubbed her wrong. "I finished the other work in the office, I just need a book to finish the rest from the library." She said softly. Troian wanted to avoid having a talk about Dmitri. She slid a hand through her hair, playing with the red streak a bit before sliding her gaze back to him. "I'm sorry, Dad. I'll do better from now on." She didn't like it, but she was going to try to keep things a little better.

ALEXI--

He kept his silence, letting her go on with her little tirade. In truth, he felt bad about his words to her. Perhaps he could have found a kinder way to have said what he did, but he really had felt it needed saying. Times like this he wanted to just sit her down and tell her that there was even more to their world than she knew, even as submerged into the shadowy world of the supernatural as she already was. There was so much more, and it was so dangerous. That was both the reasoning for not telling her, and the reason why what Dmitri did was so important. Sometimes Alexi felt that he was being torn in two between the two kids, one of his body, and the other of duty, yet both very much the children of his heart.


I.. I'm sorry, Troian,” he murmured. “I am proud of you. You really have no idea. You're going to get out of this little hole in the wall and do things with your life.” And that pride did suffuse his words, as well as his gratitude that she was going to get away from everything that had consumed his life, and was slowly consuming Dmitri's life, as well. She, out of all of his family – blood and beyond blood – stood a chance to have a proper normal life out there with the people who had no real idea of what lurked in the shadows.


It's just that,” he began again, only to hesitate. Finally, with a sigh, he changed what he was going to say, ignoring the temptation to try to explain some of the things that were going on to her. “Forget about the library, and the work. It's really not that important. Eventually, you're not even going to need any of that. Maybe it's time your lessons stop, so you can move on with your life. You have your abilities under control. That's... That's really all you ever needed to know.” Unknown to him, a deep sorrow shone in his blue eyes as he watched her, a wistful longing for things that he could never have...but that he deeply hoped she would get to have.


TROIAN--

She also felt bad for being snarky, but damn it, the first thing, as usual. She sighed and knew there was a lot of his mind, she wasn't stupid. There was more than even she had noticed of this world. "Thank you." She said softly as he said he was proud of her. She wasn't sure she would leave this business. She was almost certain if she did, it wouldn't take long for it to fold. "I dunno, I kind of like the bar. Maybe I'll buy it from you and you can just watch the lovelies walk in and out." She gave him a cheeky grin.

She shook her head when she saw his eyes about her stopping her studies. She barely resisted the urge to jump over the bar like she had done earlier, and walked around to stand in front of him. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged her Dad. She didn't know why he was sad, maybe she was naive in a way. She had a need to know what else lay in the books, which is why she grabbed the one she had earlier. If she couldn't get the information from him, she would find a way to get it.

"Well, this way you can keep an eye on me. Make sure I don't meddle where I shouldn't..yet." Her eyes lit up a bit. "Don't worry, Dad." Someone had to take care of him. She tried hard not to make his life harder, she really didn't. "Did you eat, Dad?" She raised her eyebrows at him now that she thought of it. She knew he could be single minded about things as well, especially when Dmitri was here. She fidgeted a little. "Do you want me to bring food into the library for..Dmitri too?" She asked softly, barely stopping herself from calling him a childish name. She worried about her Father so much.


ALEXI--

Alexi frowned even as he returned her hug absently. Why was she always so stubborn? “No, I haven't eaten today. Stop fussing. I didn't forget, I'm not that old yet. I've gotta fast for a reading tonight,” he said, trying to tamp down his frustration with her stubbornness. She should just take the chance to get out while she could.


And don't think you can fool me that easily. You think buying the pub will keep it in business where I somehow can't, despite it having existed since before you were born. Trust me, this place will be open for business long after the both of us are gone.” He sighed, taking a moment to scrub his hand over his face. “This pub, places like it...they're necessary in our world. It's not going anywhere.”


Sighing once again, he locked his eyes with hers, hoping to get across just how serious he was, as well as how very aware he was of where her thoughts had turned toward continuing the magical studies he'd just told her to leave be, though he said nothing else on that subject...for now. “Leave the library alone today. Mitja needs a little sleep. He's going to be very busy tonight. I'll make sure he gets something before he heads out.”


TROIAN--

She was stubborn because he was her Father. Troian sighed as she moved to lean against the bar. "So you need help with it?" Although she had eaten, she didn't seem to need to do things the way he did. She had done readings before, and had done very well at them too.

She shrugged at him as he called her on the business. She had begun to think of it as hers quite some time ago. "Okay, I just thought you might want to see your grandkids running around here." She teased him, as she always did when she tried to keep the conversation light. She rubbed her arms as she got goosebumps and a sudden chill went through her. Her eyes unfocused and she shook her head and clamped down tight on her shields, she was not going to let this ruin her night now.

She kept her gaze with his and nodded absently. She didn't want to deal with Dmitri as it was. She dug her fingernails into the palms of her hands to keep her grounded and breathed slowly. Troian was not in the mood for a vision that would knock her on her ass for the evening when she had to work tonight. Blood welled up from her fingernails had dug into her palms and the pain helped her focus so the vision would hopefully decide to go away. She hadn't had luck with that yet, but she was always hoping for it to work at least once.


ALEXI--

He shrugged at her offer,, avoiding her eyes. “No. You wouldn't want to help anyway, it's for Mitja,” he said, his voice maybe a bit harsher than he meant it to be. She had to stay out of it. He wasn't going to lose her like he'd lost her mother. Her comment about watching grandchildren run around the pub cut him to the core, as it always did. He didn't really expect to live long enough to see grandchildren, and even if he did, he didn't want them anywhere near the pub. Sometimes, like now, he really regretted the selfishness that caused him to think raising Troian here was at all a good thing.


Alexi let his eyes drift back up to his daughter, his gaze sharpening when he took in the growing distance in her eyes and the tense, pained expression twisting her pretty face. Oh, he knew that look. He knew it well, too well. “Troian? Hey,” he breathed, his frustration with her forgotten for the moment. Reaching out to pull her to him, both to help support her when the inevitable collapse happened, and to try to comfort her, he whispered to her softly. “Breathe, baby. Don't fight it, you know it only ends up worse.” He moved to press his lips gently against her forehead, his lips brushing her skin as he murmured a quick spell to activate the healing charm he always kept around his neck, just in case. It could do nothing against the vision she was fighting off, but it could, at least, ease some of the pain that often accompanied them.


TROIAN--

Troian shook her head at his words. She hadn't ever wanted this, nor did she like it when they hit her. It was the one thing she hadn't been able to control. She had been able to make the visions less painful, less sharp, but found she missed information if she did. Tears rolled down her face and she grabbed her Father's arms when he pulled her to him. She closed her eyes tighter, whimpering softly as she let her shields go, letting the vision overtake her.

It was dark, wind blew around her. She couldn't change what she saw. She was always on the outskirts of the vision as a spectator. A tornado appeared, hail and lightning flashed and fell around her. She jumped as thunder rumbled through her soul, wincing as fires appeared and the tornado turned into a fire funnel. Her eyes narrowed she saw little things, creatures but not around the tornado. 'What the hell?' She thought, shaking as she stood there. She held her hand out to them, the looked like hummingbirds, but made of light. One took notice of her and she saw it fly towards her. She sucked in a breath and immediately knew better then what she was doing. It stopped in front of her, it had seen her. This hadn't even happened before. 'What are you?' She asked softly, fear lacing her words. It answered her, then pushed her out of the vision.

Troian opened her eyes and sank against her Father, having felt the strength leave her body. She took gasping breaths as she tried to remain upright, gripping him tighter. Her eyes fluttered closed as she lost the battle to remain upright, to remain awake. She had to tell her Father what she saw. They told her their names, her head throbbing even in her unconscious state.

ALEXI--

Alexi might not be young, but he was still, to all outward appearances, a fit man. He scooped his daughter up into his arms as she lost her fight with unconsciousness. Cradling Troian close, he strode to the door hiding the stairwell and shouldered it open. He resisted the urge to try bounding up the stairs two at a time, not quite able to forget he wasn't young anymore, and his daughter was too precious a cargo to risk a fall down the stairs.


Uncaring of the damage, he shouldered the door to their apartment open once he reached it, completely ignoring the damage knocking the locked door open had caused. He moved swiftly to the cough, where he laid her down as gently as he could. “You'll be alright, baby,” he said softly, even as he tried to adjust her to be as comfortable as possible. He pulled the old, slightly ragged crocheted afghan from he back of the couch and laid it over her. Then he knelt beside the cough, stroking her hair and waiting for her to recover, only able to hope that the spell he'd activated earlier sped the recovery.


TROIAN--

Troian woke up after awhile on the couch, groaning at the light in the apartment. "Fucking hell." She muttered, covering her eyes with her hand. Usually visions like this when she was alone knocked her on her ass for an hour or more. She knew when she was with her Father they didn't last for as long. Having woken up in the hospital a few times when they had happened at school. She felt Alexi by the couch and took her hand from her eyes to focus on him.

She stayed silent looking at her Father, seeing his Aura as she hadn't yet put her shields back into place. She frowned slightly and reached out letting her hand hover on his arm for a moment. Since she knew better than to usually do this, always having her shields in place when she was around him when they were fighting or not. "What have you been doing, Dad?" She asked him softly. There was some damage there, she knew it wasn't from their argument earlier. Though she could see that too. Fucking Dmitri. Her Father was all she had in this world. She rested her head back on the couch and rubbed her eyes.

She had felt better, but the worry in her heart now, coupled with the vision made her feel shitty. She took a few deep breaths and let them out slowly, making the nausea lessen, going through the exercises slowly her Father had taught her from the time she had been little and afflicted with these damned visions. Things had been so much simpler then. She would awaken screaming, and he would hold her and rock her, speaking softly and telling her what to do to get through it. Even after all this time, though she wasn't as little, it's all she still wanted.

"What the hell are elementals?" She finally asked once she was certain she wouldn't throw up. The pain had subsided completely, thankful for the spell he had worked.


ALEXI--

The relief Alexi felt at seeing her open her eyes and actually be able to focus on him drained away as she asked her question. 'What have you been doing, Dad?' He couldn't answer that, not now, possibly not ever. She was supposed to know better than to try to peek at his soul...his aura...like that, anyway. He merely shook his head, dismissing it. At least, dismissing it for now.


He stayed put, kneeling next to the couch, continuing to stroke Troian's hair, sometimes tracing the red streak in it. Mostly, he just waited patiently for her to say something about what she'd seen. She always did, eventually. And this time it seemed like it was something especially strong. Given what Dmitri had discovered yesterday, that thought worried him greatly.


And, then, there it was. His fear was realized as she spoke again. 'Fuck,' he thought. He froze, his fingers slightly entangled in his daughter's hair, his eyes locking to hers. For that one brief moment, he forgot to hide the dread that must have shown in their blue depths, and then he forced himself into the appearance of merely casual concern.


Elementals,” he questioned, the faintest of smiles curving the corners of his lips. “Just...spirits, of a sort.” He hesitated, his eyes dropping from hers and concentrating – far more than was required, really – for a moment on untangling his fingers from her hair. “They, uh... they're not really something I'm all that familiar with. Too hard to work with.” Slowly, he drug his gaze back up to meet with hers, knowing damn well she would realize there was more than he was saying, but hesitant to get into it.


TROIAN--

Troian realized he must have been worried when he didn't correct her for cursing. She narrowed her eyes as he dismissed her first question about his aura. She wasn't happy about it, but she let it go for now. It was unintentional, and rude, she knew better than to look at his aura without asking. She was worried about him now, maybe even more than before.

She frowned watching him freeze and then his answer, wincing slightly hen his hand became entangled in her hair. She kept her gaze on his, not believing what he was feeding her. She saw the dread in his eyes, shivering a little as he spoke. "You have to tell me, Dad." She said softly, smoothing her hair a bit from where it been tangled in his fingers, taking his hand on hers as she sat up slowly on the couch. Smiling when the room didn't try to spin around her. She slid her eyes to the charm around his neck and wondered how much it cost him every time he used it. She knew every bit of magick had a cost. She felt them when she had to use them herself. Somehow she knew it never cost her as much as it did him.

Her eyes turned dark silver as she tried to stop being upset at the mortality of her Father. Seeing it, not for the first time in his own eyes. Normally she would just accept the answer and let it go. Now she knew she couldn't. "Something is coming, Dad." Fear tinged her voice. Seeing the fire tornado in her mind again. She shook a little at the memory. "They spoke to me. They saw me, Daddy." She whispered softly. every time she had a vision in the past, she was a spectator. Never been noticed. Now this, she didn't know what it meant. She felt like she was five years old again. She shook as she sat there. All the petty crap about Dmitri, even if he did bother her somehow, forgotten.


ALEXI--

By reflex, he shook his head. He didn't have to tell her anything, not about this. He worked so hard and for so long to try to keep her world and the world he and Dmitri occupied separate. Almost her entire life he'd worked for that, to protect her. It was a need that Dmitri understood as well, despite the regret he often felt at having to pretend disdain toward someone he regarded as family just as much as he did Alexi himself. But, even Dmitri had long ago agreed with him that it was for the best to give Troian a chance that neither of them had ever had even the slightest hope at.


Her next words, however, made him freeze all over again, terror gripping his heart. Slowly, he rose to settle beside her on the couch, reaching out to grip her hand – possibly a little tighter than he intended in his fear for her. “They? More than one? And they saw you? Spoke to you? Troian, you're certain it was you they saw?” The questions tumbled from his lips too rapidly for her to have a chance to answer immediately, his voice trembling slightly. Not this. He didn't want her involved in this. Taking a deep breath, he asked a final question, his tone making it clear that this was the question above all others he wanted answered, even as he dreaded the answer. “What did they say to you, Troian?”


TROIAN--

That same stubborn gleam came over her face as he shook his head. She knew what it meant, he wouldn't tell her. But he had to now. When he took her hand tightly, she didn't flinch or back away from his touch. She was strong, she had been training her body as well as her mind and power for a long time. She lifted her head a little from her gaze on the floor to look back to him at his questions. She knew she had to wait until he was done. He was afraid, and so was she.

"I saw five..another, so six, one came to me. It knew my name. It told me what they were and threw me out of the vision." she shook her head at his final question, she didn't want to answer it. She was terrified of answering him. If she admitted what it said, what they planned, it would be real. Her visions scared her growing up. She hated them, but found they could be useful at time. "They are going to destroy so much, I saw a fire tornado, hail..something..darker is controlling them, Dad. They said they had to. They were being commanded to." She trailed off, shaking as she sat there next to him. She was more afraid of anything she had ever been in her life.

ALEXI--

Fuck,” he whispered, the soft sound of his voice belying the dread that washed over him. It was both worse than he feared and better than if certainly could have been. He briefly considered going to tell Dmitri immediately, but then shoved it aside. The sorcerer was sleeping, and Troian needed him far more right now, anyway.


He dropped his tight grip on her hand, only to wrap one arm around her shoulder, perhaps a bit awkwardly. Physical affection wasn't something he managed very well, especially not now that she was an adult. Not even for the purposes of comfort did he ever manage it without feeling awkward and out of place. “It'll be alright, baby. It's going to be taken care of. Mi... We won't let it happen, alright?” He frowned at his near-slip. The last thing he needed was to mention the sorcerer and set off her temper again.


TROIAN--

Troian sighed and leaned into her Father as his arm went around her. She closed her eyes and brought a hand up to rub them slowly. She made no outward mention of his near slip. She didn't like Mitja, she didn't know why, though he didn't help by treating her like an idiot. Her gaze slid back to her Father. "I don't know how, Dad." She said softly. Her thoughts raced as she looked back down to her hands. "There has to be something we can do to help?" She meant of course herself and him.

"I saw a book on Elementals in the library." She said softly, she thumbed through it when she was in there alone before taking the other book. She moved to stand, her mind picturing the book in her head. "Yeah..it's by the desk in the corner.." She said absently, pushing herself to stand. She dearly wanted to stop this, she knew she could help. fuck Dmitri if he had a problem with it, well..no not literally. She didn't even have a love life to speak of, nor did she want one considering what had happened to her Father, or what she thought had happened. He never told her anything specifically, only that her Mother had left them both. She stayed away from men and women if she could help it. Only engaging with them during class and the customers at the bar. Nothing more then professional or friendly for class.

She slid her stubborn gray gaze back to her Father. "Dad..I can help."


ALEXI--

As she spoke, he had a moment where he wasn't entirely listening, not really even entirely present. Instead, he heard a different, though so very similar, voice in his head. The voice, a bittersweet sound out of memory, made him feel like his heart was breaking all over again.


'Alexi, come, see what I've done,' she'd said, an almost childish delight suffusing her tone. She dropped a book on elemental summoning on the desk next to him where he'd been studying, though he paid it hardly any mind at the time. Instead, he was caught by the beauty of her smile turned on him, and the overwhelming love he felt every time he saw that smile.


And he had gone to look, pulling himself from his musings eventually. Within a circle clearly meant to bind some summoned spirit twisted and writhed a small bit of flame. At the time, he'd chuckled, amused by her joy and enthusiasm as he pulled the woman close and wrapped her in a loving embrace. 'Amazing, Zoya!' A fond grin played upon his lips as he watched the tiny flame creature thrash against the bindings holding it within the circle. He never could have imagined in that moment that the seemingly sweet joy of her triumph would lead to such a nightmare...


No!” He rushed to stand, to stop her. His hand shot out to grab her arm, his only thought keeping her away from those books, and away from the library altogether. “There's already someone working on the problem, alright, Troian? This is something you just need to stay out of.” His tone, a bit harsh up until now, shifted, softening, becoming almost pleading. “Please, just let it go. This is dangerous. Let...someone who's used to it take care of it. Please?” His eyes held hers, the blue meeting silver, pleading just as clearly as his voice was, searching for anything to say to dissuade her, to just make her listen to him for a change...to save her the way he never could her mother.


TROIAN--

Troian was halfway to the door when her Father spoke and yelped at his grip on her arm. She was surprised by his tone, very hurt by it even. "You mean Dmitri." she said softly. She would not call him by his nickname. Well, bastard was her nickname for him lately. Her eyes slid down to the floor, looking at her feet. She sighed softly and slid her gaze back to her Father. "The book is about summoning them though. They already know who I am. Maybe they'll listen to me, Dad. Maybe I can help them. They don't want to do this."

She wished he would trust her, of course knowing nothing of the real reason of the problem. She thought quietly for a few minutes. She wanted, on one hand, to really defy her Father, she felt like she could do something to help. She knew she was different from him when it came to magicks, she slid her gaze back to him again, seeing his aura around him. Knowing he was very upset about this, not just from his pleading, but the way his aura color changed during it.

She warred silently with herself for a few moments and then she slowly nodded. She would do as he asked, just this once, without a fight. "Okay, Dad. I will stay out of it. I want you to be careful, though." She herself pleaded softly. He was all she had, she didn't want to lose him. She smiled at him softly.


ALEXI--

His shoulders slumped when she brought up Mitja. He winced, expecting another fight even as he nodded an acknowledgment of her guess. And he was so tired. Tired in general, moreso than anyone, even Dmitri, had guessed. And tired of the fighting with her, when all he wanted was to protect her from things that would get her killed, or even worse. And there were, indeed, fates out there worse than death. He knew this to be a fact, intimately.


The tiniest spark of relief came when she said no more about the sorcerer. Instead, she tried what seemed very much like negotiating with him. He wanted to beg with her, plead for her to understand that it just wasn't safe, perhaps especially in her case. Troian was stronger of spirit than her mother had been, but he wasn't sure that would be enough to save her if she got caught up in it all. And it was a risk he was unwilling to take. Not with her. Never with her.


He was still trying to gather the words to plead with her, when she stunned him by agreeing to stay out of the situation. His eyes narrowed slightly, surprised by her uncharacteristic change of heart. “I..am being careful, baby. I promise you. All I'm doing is letting Mitja use the library, and doing a reading tonight to see if the...elementals are still confined to the nightclub he's going to investigate. The only thing I can do after that is...pray for him,” he said, his voice strained and dropping to just above a whisper. “I can't help him more. I don't have that kind of strength. I don't know anyone who does have that kind of strength. Not...anymore.”


TROIAN--

Troian filed the information her Father had given her without realizing it. Again, she didn't want to outright defy, and she did promise to let it go. When he spoke about power, her eyes lifted to his. She tilted her head to the side slightly, an idea coming to her head.

"Dad..I know you aren't going to like this, but, hear me out." She started softly and just rushed ahead, "You can borrow my power." She offered, she knew she was powerful. She skirted the line a lot. She even wondered of maybe her mother had been something else. Troian was powerful, and it came to her effortlessly. She had been doing his lessons as he had them set out for her, but she had done other studying and working with power on her own. Troian knew if she did a few things she could protect herself, without bringing harm to anyone else. Not herself, and most especially not him. She watched his aura flare a little in grief. It was the same color it turned every time she asked him about her mother as a child.

Troian looked at her Father. "Dad, please borrow my power for it. Please." She offered softly. She stepped closer to him and watched his aura quietly, she refused to damper down powers, sliding the rest of her shields away so he could tell she was powerful herself. Letting her aura shine with it.


ALEXI--

He shook his head, a faint, sorrowful smile just barely touching the corners of his lips as he watched her still struggle to find a way to do what she felt might be helping despite her fresh promise to stay out of it all. He could feel her shields drop, but for him, it only meant that he should be more aware of what he was feeling so he didn't broadcast it to her. And, it brought a touch of worry, because, while he could sense nothing else from her and make no use of it, there were things out there that could – and would, without a second thought.


Troian. Don't do that. It's impolite to those who are sensitive,” he started, though his usual lecturing tone was severely lacking this time. And then he continued on with words that had never before been in the usual lecture at all. “And it's dangerous for you. It can attract attention to you. You're probably like a beacon.” His eyes slid away from hers then, as he finished. “Dmitri says you're very much like a beacon when you do that.” He knew the mention of the sorcerer might well anger her, but he felt it was needed this time, letting what he said reveal some of what he normally left completely unsaid, even unhinted at – that he had nothing close to her abilities, that he'd lost what tiny scraps of power he'd once had long ago. That he was, essentially, a blind and deaf person, a cripple within their particular world.


Besides,” he murmured quietly, “I can't borrow your power. It doesn't work that way for me. I can't do it.” There might have been, to someone paying enough mind to his tone, and to someone who knew him well enough, a deep regret echoing in his words – as well as a relief that he couldn't succumb to any temptation to do as she offered.


TROIAN--

Troian quickly slammed her shields back into place at his words and sighed softly. She was not pleased when he brought Dmitri up and lifted her head a bit. She knew better actually then to do what she had just don. She always thought she got her powers from her Father, so he could tell what she was doing at anytime with them. She now realized though that what he was saying and had sensed, that wasn't true anymore.

She took a few steps back from him, covering her mouth as she stood there, the anger gone as she realized he had in a way lied to her during her life about this. An omission was still a lie, he had taught her that. Her eyes looked over him, pain and some betrayal there. She swiped tears off her face quickly and shook her head, anger had taken over her for the moment as she heard the rest of his words. Troian walked over to the closet to grab her jacket, but stopped at the door. Her hands fisted at her sides, leaning against the door.

She heard his regret and the tone in his voice, her anger forgotten suddenly. "You should talk to..Dmitri." She looked over at him, trying to smile a little. She was hurt and the anger had drained off as quickly as her strength had as she moved to sit down on the couch again. Her thoughts racing, not able to pinpoint the one that was bothering her more at the moment. She slid her gaze back to him sadly. "You sure you don't want me to do the reading, Dad? I promise not to pick a fight with Dmitri. I promise to stay out of it afterwards." She said softly. She was tired, she knew she should eat more than she had and she could so it and only be marginally exhausted afterwards. She knew in a way he wouldn't let her. Surely this would be easier if he let her do that though. If nothing else.

Something else finally occurred to her. It wasn't something she liked to admit that had to happen. She knew she had to speak to Dmitri herself, alone. She couldn't risk losing her Father. She knew Dmitri couldn't risk losing him either.


ALEXI--

The force of her anger, even as 'blind' and 'deaf' as he was, it was nearly overwhelming. He worried that she was losing control of herself, but he didn't have the heart left in him at the moment to scold her. He'd only wanted to protect her. All her life, that was all he'd ever wanted. Nearly everything he'd ever done had been with that one single goal in mind. And he kept all this in mind, leaving it there for her to detect, if she chose – previous words about how impolite it was be damned. He couldn't explain the depths of his love and worry and hopes and fears for and about her, but maybe he could show her, just this once, if she chose to look.


I'd...really rather you didn't, Troian,” he said, his voice soft and his exhaustion twining through it. “Though, you not picking a fight with Mitja, for a change, would be nice.” He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck absently as he glanced back up to her. “I wish... Well, I wish you'd believe me when I try to tell you he's not really as bad as you think. He's...done a lot toward helping me keep you safe.”


Again, he sighed, weariness tugging at him. “Look, can you just hang out here for the rest of the day?” He didn't even consider how vague 'here' might be when he said it, though he'd intended it to mean their shared apartment. “I need to get a little rest before tonight. I'm getting too old for this crap,” he muttered, the tiniest spark of his usual snark showing through.


TROIAN--

Troian had calmed down enough while thinking things through, that she had felt her Father's thoughts and concerns. She instantly forgave him, she knew he had his reasons for doing as he did. He was her Father after all. She knew she wasn't an easy child to raise as it was. Now all of this as well, she swallowed hard past the lump in her throat and nodded a little bit.

A bit of light came into her eyes as he spoke about her not picking a fight with Dmitri. "I can go poke him with a stick to keep the status quo, Pop." She grinned slightly. She only called him Pop to tease him, she knew he wasn't fond of the term. She smiled and nodded slightly, walking over to him and hugged him. "I am lucky to have you for my Dad." She whispered softly. "I'm sorry I'm a pain in the ass. I do believe you." She did in a way, but there was something about Dmitri that just..rubbed her wrong.

"Yeah I'll stay here, I promise." She smiled up at him. Her eyes clouded with concern when he said he was getting too old for it. She shook her head at his words. "You're not old, Dad. Don't tire yourself out. I'll make dinner for us tonight, deal?" She kissed his cheek softly. Worry ate at her like an acid did to skin. She made a mental note to keep a closer eye on him from now on herself.


ALEXI--

Despite himself, a faint smile bloomed when she teased him both with the dreaded 'Pop' and with a - thankfully – mocking threat to poke Dmitri. Maybe, just maybe, someday she'd resolve her issues with him and the the child of his blood and the child of his heart might actually get along – maybe even learn to cherish each other as the family they really should be.


Alexi wrapped his arms around her and squeezed briefly when she hugged him, taking a moment to just imagine it could always be like this with his beloved – if sometimes frustrating – daughter. “I really do only want you safe and happy, baby,” he murmured. “It's all I've ever wanted for you. And I'd give anything for that.” And he had, in many ways, a tiny voice whispered in the back of his mind.


Releasing her reluctantly, he shrugged lightly. He knew very well he wouldn't actually eat anything tonight. He had to fast before the reading, and he would be past the point of caring about food afterward. “If you want, to, Troian. 'S up to you. Don't go to too much trouble.” Alexi dropped a swift but gentle kiss on her brow. “I'm gonna catch a nap, though. Alright, baby? I love you.” Without waiting for an answer, he offered her a faint smile and turned away to bury himself in a cocoon of blankets for a few hours, trying to avoid stumbling anywhere his daughter's sharp eyes might see him.


TROIAN--

Troian hugged her Father back tightly and sighed a little. "Love you too, Dad." She said softly to him as he went off to bed. More determined now than ever to speak to Dmitri about all of this. It hurt her mind and soul to see him like that. She knew he was tired for a lot of reasons. Some of which involved her collapsing earlier. The memory of it fresh in her mind she wandered to the fridge and grabbed a few things high in protein for herself. She had a lot to think over to speak to Dmitri about.

When she was finished with her food she quietly, almost soundlessly went to her Father's bedroom. She listened at the door to make sure she was breathing steadily. He had left it slightly open, so she looked in. Seeing him asleep she moved away from the bedroom and wandered down to the back steps to the main floor. She headed into the office and picked up the work her Father had her working on, flipping through the pages to find the name of the book she needed.

Finding it she headed to the storeroom and stopped at the door to the library and opened it, knowing no one else was here for the evening yet. She hesitated only briefly before moving down the stairs, shutting the door behind her as she walked down into her Father's library. She took a few deep breaths and opened the second door into the main area. Her eyes landing on Dmitri quite passed out on the table. A faint hint of amusement touched her, then she bristled internally at him being here. She leaned against the table, well out of his reach and tried to squash whatever it was that warned her about him. Her eyes scanned the books on the table, drifting to the wall. She found herself moving to the shelves quietly to find the book she needed. She had promised her Father she would leave it alone. So she would, at least until speaking to Dmitri.


DMITRI--

Unaware of anything outside the dream he was trapped within, Dmitri's entire body twitched, causing a book or two scattered on the table around and under him to slip to the floor with thuds that echoed a bit within the surprisingly large area of the hidden library. If he'd been awake and aware, he would likely have let loose with a string of curses, given that most of the books were very old, very delicate, and mostly completely unique. As it was, he simply groaned, the sound muffled a bit against the open book his face was pressed against.


He'd been sure he was getting closer to the center of the maze. So sure, yet...there was no sign of an end to his flight through the twisting, misleading corridors. The stone of the walls that rose above him was cold to the touch, cold enough to make his fingers ache and his wings, where the feathers would inadvertently brush against the seamlessly stacked stones, send shivers of that cold along the sensitive vanes and rachises and into his wings themselves.


Whatever was hunting him was drawing ever closer, moving with confidence through the maze. He could, occasionally, hear sounds from behind him, and even off to either side at times. Sometimes, the footfalls of a biped in common shoes, sometimes the strange scrabbling of claws or talons against the concrete flooring, and sometimes he would even swear he heard the sounds of feathers not his own beating the air nearby.


And then, he came to a dead end. There was nothing but blank stone before him, and surrounding him. The only way left to go was back the way he'd come. But, all the sounds he'd been hearing converged just around the corner, and he understood he was trapped. The nephilim gripped the twin blades he always carried up the sleeves of his coat in his fists, knuckles whitening with the force of his desperate grip. Dmitri backed himself up against the cold stone of the dead end, his startling blue eyes frantically searching the dim corridor, his wings flaring anxiously as terror overtook him.


Once more Dmitri's whole body twitched, his shoulders tightening unconsciously in reaction to the feel of his wings pressed against cold stone within his dream. A soft, broken sound fell from his lips and his hands fisted around blades held within a dream as his body instinctively prepared for a battle that was no less dangerous for its existence within his mind instead of in the physical world.


TROIAN--

Troian's finger trailed over the titles she was looking at, finding the right one she slid it off it's shelf and wrapped her arms around it. She had always treated books as if they were holy objects, and to her they were. They were amongst her first friends as a child. Sometimes, the only ones she had for most of her life. She was walking back towards the main room and jumped hearing the books hit the floor. She frowned and went in, surprised it was quiet other than that. She knelt down next to Dmitri's side and picked up the books that had fallen. One was the elemental summoning book she had seen before. She looked at the other book and saw it was another elemental book. Damn it, she thought to herself.

She hadn't wanted to defy her Father, the groan from Dmitri caught her attention though. It caused something inside of her to feel deep concern for him. She set the books she carried reverently on the table, out of his reach so he couldn't knock them down again. She began carefully picking up the books and arranging them with pieces of paper where they had been left open. It wasn't good for the spines. She remembered being a child and her Father teaching her how to handle the books. The one Dmitri had fallen asleep on was the only one left now.

Troian watched Dmitri's body twitch, seeing his shoulders tighten and then that sound coming from him. She sighed, hating to see anyone suffer, regardless of how they treated each other, even Dmitri. She reached out, putting her hand in his soft hair and couldn't help the smile that touched her. "Dmitri, hey. You might want to wake up, hon." She said softly to him. Trying very hard not to scare him, sliding her other hand on his shoulders gently, rubbing his back in small circles. She wasn't even really thinking about what she was doing, just trying to provide some comfort to him, and help him wake up.


DMITRI--

Shadows flowed and drifted around the corner and toward him. No matter how hard he tried to focus his sight, he couldn't make out what was within the shadows. He only had the impression of things, several of them, stalking toward him with what he was certain was a deadly purpose. He gripped his blades tighter, fighting against the terror that felt like it was closing off his throat and clutching at his heart within his chest.


And then, just before the writhing shadows came within reach of his deadly blades, he felt a sensation of touch on his back, circles being rubbed against the space between where his wings met flesh. It clashed strangely with the more immediate sense of cold where his back was pressed against unyielding stone. It was then that he realized he'd heard his name somewhere in the back of his mind, muffled and so very distant, but tugging at him anyway. It was when he focused on it that everything seemed to freeze, and he felt himself yanked suddenly away.


Dmitri's eyes flew open suddenly and he jerked upright and twisted to the side, immediately becoming a deadly flurry of motion. With a thought and a flick of each wrist, blades were gripped in his previously clenched fists, one raised and ready to strike out and the other already pressed against the throat of the person who'd been behind him, touching him. Everything – every reaction and movement – since his sudden awakening had been born of pure reflex and instinct.


Only as the terror drained away did he begin to realize he'd escaped whatever trap had been set for him within that dream-created maze. There was no immediate danger here. The blade pressed against tender flesh lowered slowly and carefully, regret filling his eyes – a richer, almost impossibly brighter blue than usual just then – in the unguarded moment when realized he'd come uncomfortably close to killing Troian Novak. Once there was no risk of a stray movement accidentally making him slice her somehow, he jerked the offending blade away and tossed them both onto the table with a clatter.


His eyes slid away from her, unable to even look at her as shame and anger at himself filled Dmitri. He jerked to his feet and stalked around until the table stood between them, still fighting to get himself completely under control and his shield fully back into place. It was just too dangerous to be anything less than fully shielded around Troian. There was too much risk of her finding out things that would change everything. If she discovered the truth of his secrets, she ended up at risk. He'd long ago promised Alexi he would do whatever he could to protect Troian, and it was a promise he'd always worked hard to keep, for everyone's sake.


I'm sorry. I'm so fucking sorry, Troian. You, uh, you...startled me,” he said, still unable to look her in the face. In his struggle to compose himself, he forgot to wrap himself in the false disdain and mock irritation that were his usual masks around her. Instead, unaware of it, the depths of his respect even a sort of brotherly love for her leaked through his still shaky shields. Rubbing at his neck absently, he tried to laugh, but the sound was far more broken than he'd intended. “Lex is gonna kill me.”


TROIAN--

Somewhere in the back of Troian's mind she knew she was doing the wrong thing by touching him, for her own sake more than for his. she knew it would bring him out of it though. When Dmitri moved Troian backed up as he advanced on her and then stopped when the blade was on her throat. She dared not swallow or breathe. Her eyes wide as she felt how sharp it was, blood forming where it pressed against her skin, she tried very hard not to wince at the surprised pain from it.

Troian waited quietly, not moving nor making a single sound. She held her breath, keeping her silver gaze on Dmitri's eyes. reading him briefly, not on purpose, she felt he was so sorry for what had just happened as the blade slid from her throat. She breathed then, touching the cut on her throat. She knew in that moment, she almost died. She swallowed hard, jumping when he threw his knives on the table. She felt fear and regret from him. Not disdain, but here was an otherness still that made her bristle even more so, but she ignored it for the moment.

Troian grabbed the chair back and sat down heavily in it as her knees went weak at the realization she could have died accidentally. She watched him with some worry in her eyes, of how he acted. "It wasn't your fault, Dmitri." She said softly, no anger or resentment in her voice, looking for the box of kleenex she saw earlier on the table, using on the tissues to press to the cut on her throat. She caught a few of his feelings before he clamped down on his shields. "Oh I think it's far more likely he will kill me for it. I shouldn't have come in here. He told me to leave you alone." She wasn't sorry that she had woken him up though. He had been terrified of whatever had been happening in his dream.


DMITRI--

'Well, shit,' he thought. No matter what she said, Alexi would have a fit if he found out about Dmitri's lapse, and the sorcerer was well aware of that. Sadly, with Lex's current health, the whole having a fit part might even end up literal, and he couldn't risk that. Lex was the only family he really had anymore...aside from Troian, and that was a relationship that had never been allowed to blossom out of the necessity of protecting her.


He realized quite suddenly he was staring at her, when he didn't even remember looking back to her. To be honest, it was the closest he'd been to her in quite awhile; that's what he decided to blame staring at her on, anyway. 'She's really growing into her power,' came his idle thought, born mostly of his mind reaching and grasping for something – anything – to focus on rather than what had just happened.


Dropping his eyes to the table, his hand twitched at the sight of his blades. The tip of one had just the faintest touch of crimson on it, probably not even noticeable to most who might happen to look at it. But, oh, he noticed; to him it was like a beacon of shame. How could he have lost control like that? It wasn't like he was still some fledgling anymore. That shame flared anew, colouring his cheeks beneath the dark shadow of a couple days' worth of stubble.


Uh, I'll take care of it. He wouldn't have known if I hadn't...overreacted,” Dmitri murmured regretfully. He forced his gaze back up to regard her thoughtfully for a moment or two before coming to a decision and venturing to speak again, more than he tended to speak to most anyone outside of the need to do so for a case, or to her father. “I know I haven't given you any reason to trust me, Troian. I know you...dislike me. But, I need to put my blades away, and I won't... I won't touch them unless you give me permission. I don't want you to think I'm going to hurt you.”


He hesitated, but just a breath's worth, before rushing ahead before he could think better of what he was about to say. “And, well...this will sound a little strange, maybe, but.. I'd like your permission to touch you.” His gaze flicked to the tissues she held to her neck, then down to the table. “I owe you that much, at least,” he muttered, not really caring that he probably wasn't making much sense. He just needed to get this issue taken care of and get himself back under control. It was all he could think of, shocked that he was still trembling slightly and that he was unable to keep his shields fully in place, and in front of the one person he most needed to do so around.


TROIAN--

Troian brought the tissues from her neck to look at the blood absently, more to see if it had stopped bleeding. She realized it was slowly down, and tried to think of way to cover it from her Father's gaze. She didn't want to upset him anymore than he had been lately. She knew there was something wrong with his health, she blinked some tears away she she was again reminded of his mortality.

She hadn't even noticed Dmitri was staring at her, lost in her own thoughts for the moment. She slid some of her hair behind her ear before looking up at Dmitri, seeing his face turning red. She looked into his eyes as he spoke and shook her head, "Please don't tell him, Mitja..please." She pleaded softly, using his other name for the first time ever in her life, her voice breaking. She wasn't afraid of getting into trouble at this point, she didn't want to upset her Father. She swallowed and nodded a little. "Yeah, you can pick them up. I figured if you had wanted to hurt me on purpose you'd have done it a long time ago. I trust you." She knew she had, but something still bothered her. She shook her head, blinking a few more tears from her eyes as she looked away from him.

She slid her gaze back to him as he spoke again. Thinking it a strange request indeed. She watched his eyes slide from the tissues she held at her neck and down to the table. She took the tissues away, seeing it was starting to clot a little better finally. She sighed softly. "What are you going to do?" She asked softly, standing slowly from the chair, moving to stand next to him. She felt his own shields weren't quite in place just yet. She slid her hand on his arm gently, feeling him tremble under her touch.

"If you touch me, you have to let me do the reading for you. I don't want my Father risking his health anymore. I saw his aura, Mitja, have you?" She asked softly, very sure of herself, and knowing if her Father kept this up, it was going to kill him. "I can't live with his death, if I know it's something I can help him with. Especially this." She slid her gaze back to him, her voice soft, pleading. She needed to do this for the man they both loved, their Father. "Please."


DMITRI—

Dmitri flicked a glance back up to her, as though to say she was being silly to even ask him not to tell Alexi. He might have, originally, but he wouldn't be able to admit his own shameful loss of control to Alexi, so there was no point in even worrying about Dmitri doing something so silly as telling tales about what Troian had been up to.


He hummed an acknowledgment to her mention of trust, though it wasn't really any sort of agreement. She might trust that he wouldn't gut her where she stood, but he really didn't believe that she actually trusted him, not when it came down to it. Instead of answering her, however, he just reached out and picked up his blades. He carefully inspected the one still stained crimson at the tip, then buffed the tiny spot of blood off on his pants leg until it shone a gleaming silver matching its twin. Then, he stuffed each, one at a time, back up the sleeves of his coat where a slick arrangement of sheathes and magic kept them at the ready.


What he planned was to heal her, even if his blade had caused no more than a small nick in the delicate skin of her neck. It wasn't an ability he was generally willing to even admit to, let alone use for such a small thing...normally. But then, nothing about this entire situation was normal at all. “Gonna hide what I did. That way there won't be any questions to try to answer, for either of us,” he replied, finally.


He took her offer of a deal as tacit permission, even if he hadn't actually agreed to it yet. The sorcerer reached up to place his hand up to her neck, covering the small wound his blade had made there. Closing his eyes, mostly to hide anything that might inadvertently show within them while he was focusing, he gathered wisps of power from his own being and pushed it into her. Satisfied when he felt the skin knit back together, he let his hand drop away and took a step back from her, shifting uncomfortably.


I've seen it. I know.” He tried for a laugh, then winced when even he could hear how broken it sounded. “But there wasn't going to be any reading, Troian. Well, not from him. He was going to watch me while I went....searching.” One hand fisted at his side, and he turned a measuring stare on her, looking long and deeply. “I'm sorry you think so little of me that you believe I could ever put him at any kind of risk like that. Sometimes... Well, sometimes, I wish things had been allowed to be different between us. Maybe then you'd have known better.” He was a little proud of keeping his voice even during this forbidden admission. And then he was immediately ashamed once again. Whatever had happened within his dream had shaken him to his core, and he just seemed unable to recover from it as he should have been able to.


TROIAN--

Troian watched in a bit of detached fascination as he cleaned the tip of the blade of her blood. Watching him put them both away up his sleeves. She smiled softly when he said he was going to hide nick on her throat and nodded a little. she was glad they weren't going to upset her Father. It spoke volumes to her about how much Dmitri didn't want to upset him.

What she hadn't expected was for him to heal, when he touched her neck his hand was warmer then she expected it to be. Something whispered to her, telling her that they had higher core body temperatures than humans. She frowned a little feeling the skin go back together. They what? she gasped softly feeling his power inside of her and she grabbed the table again, closing her eyes as she tried to figure out what exactly Dmitri was.

Her eyes opened and slid to his as he stepped away from her. She watched him curiously as he spoke, watching his body language for a change instead of just reacting to it s she normally did. She flinched as he stared at, she couldn't help but to stare right back at him as he did to her. Keeping her gaze as neutral as possible. She promised her Father, she kept telling herself, this was for his sake as well. Her heart broke at his words and she sighed heavily.

Troian took a few steps closer to him, very much in his personal space, but not doing it to upset him or piss him off as she had done in the past. She slid her hand on his face gently after his admission. "I don't think you would put him in danger knowingly. I know he isn't where I get my power from, Mitja. I know it was my Mother, and it had something to do with the elementals in the hotel where they're hiding. They spoke to me. I have seen the cost of his powers on him. I don't want to lose him, for either of us." She said softly.

"Please, whatever he has been doing, you need to have me do instead. I had a vision earlier of this, I know he won't like it. I know I can help." She whispered softly. She was outright defying her Father, after promising him she wouldn't do this. "We need to work together, for his sake." She added softly, but stubbornly. Troian just had to do something. Even f it meant working with Dmitri. She wouldn't continue to keep him in harms way if there was something she could do about it.

DMITRI--

Dmitri flinched, but held still otherwise when Troian stepped close to him – too close, his mind screamed at him – and actually touched him. One hand twitched out of pure reflex, much as it might if he was about to arm himself with one of his blades. But he managed to control the motion before the blade actually dropped down into his hand. He let her talk, trying not to outright laugh in her face, because he just knew she'd take it wrong. She took everything he did and said wrong.


Though, of course, he realized that wasn't entirely her fault. Part of it was the persona he'd cultivated to protect her, and eventually himself out in the world. And...part of it was just her instinctive reaction to what he was, or, rather, what she sensed about him on a subconscious level. That was something that might stop, or at least ease up, if she was ever told what he was – nephilim. It was something that wasn't likely to ever happen. For her sake, as well as for his. And yet, still...being treated the way he often was...it was exhausting, and frustrating, and sometimes just downright painful.


He whirled away from her, unable to bear her invasive touch any longer. Again, he moved around until the table stood between them, a distance Dmitri very much needed right now before he could turn to face her, positively glaring at her. “You want to know what Alexi has been doing for me that you're so sure is contributing to his failing health? You really want to know? He's been letting me talk to him,” he snapped out at her. “He's been showing me simple human compassion. Something I damn sure don't get from anyone else.”


Dmitri let his eyes slide away from hers, feeling his anger build dangerously close to the limits of his control. He regretted, distantly, his outburst. And yet, at the same time, it was an incredible relief to be able to snap at someone for a change. Still, as he continued, he softened his voice until it was barely above a rough whisper. “Is that what you really want, Troian? To take over the job of treating the freak like he might be closer to human than he'd like? I'm pretty sure that's a task beyond even your significant potential, little witchling.” He didn't even notice his little slip in his shame and anger, and yet, there it was.


Of course, he caught what she said about one of her visions, and elementals...and what she believed was newly discovered truth about herself and her talent and her mother. But Dmitri just didn't have it in him to address any of those things now, not when he was still too raw from the dream-trap he'd only barely escaped and hadn't even had time to puzzle out yet. She was so close to truths that weren't his place to acknowledge. And, yet, she wasn't quite there yet, her assumptions still a little flawed for lack of facts Alexi had always been very careful to keep from her.


TROIAN--

Troian jerked her hand back as Dmitri stalked away from her, narrowing her eyes at him slightly as he blew up at her. She knew she had it coming ad she stood silently and went over their entire relationship in her head quietly, what she could remember anyways. Dmitri had always been there. There was something, always, that rubbed her wrong about him. She had looked at him with disdain, and found that her Father was giving his time to someone else, that wasn't her.

She had wanted her Father to herself her entire life. She hadn't liked sharing him with someone else like that. It didn't help, sure she was jealous. Dmitri was older then she was, and clearly had a bond with her Father that she didn't share with him. He hadn't helped either, baiting her and snarking at her when she turned into a rebellious and stubborn teenager. But she was beginning to realize a lot of things today. Although he wasn't cruel to her, whereas her words had been, actions had been.

She took a deep breath and stumbled backwards from the table, like she had been physically hit, feeling the bookcase hit her shoulder and making her stop. Her Father was a good and kind man. He had seen someone who needed him and took him under his wing. It was a different relationship but similar to hers. Troian was not an especially cruel person, or at all she thought until he threw her actions and words in the face outright. Alexi had done the same earlier except she was upset, and on the defensive from the get go, though she had tried damn hard not to be, had been in such a good mood when she got her grades.

She had been living her life on the offensive, it seemed so she wouldn't be hurt. She was selfish, spoiled and entitled. “Jesus fuck.” She said softly to herself at the realization of everything. She swallowed hard and looked at him, having felt the pain in his words of how her father had treated him. “I’m sorry, Dmitri..for everything.” Her eyes blinked away the tears she had felt well up in her eyes and shook her head. She walked towards another bookcase slowly that rested against the wall, leaning against it to put more space between the two of them. She dearly just wanted to act like the brat she had before, grab her book and flee from the library. She had to stop herself from it though. She opened and closed her fists slowly.

“You deserve to be treated like a person. I’ve been a bitch where you are concerned. For such a long time.” She breathed out slowly. “I..I’m just sorry.” She tried not to flinch at his words, witchling, as he called her, shame colored her face. “We need to come to some accord.” A small smile tugged at her lips as she remembered something from when she was a child, and he gave her a book about pirates. ‘Would you care to parlay?”

DMITRI--

Dmitri's eyes narrowed while she spoke until he was virtually squinting at Troian. To say her words were unexpected would have been a pretty significant understatement. In truth, she took him completely by surprise. She wasn't wrong, though. She'd been encouraged to see him as an outsider, someone not worthy of her time or attention, even from the time she was very small. However, as she'd grown, she'd managed to take that attitude to new depths, at least at times.


He shrugged carefully, feeling the twitch of his wings even though they were securely tucked away on a plane where they couldn't be detected or sensed by those that might use the knowledge they represented against him. “Nothin' to be in accord over, and nothin' to be sorry for. You're the boss-man's daughter. I'm just the orphan trash he's felt too sorry for to properly be rid of yet,” Dmitri said in a carefully neutral tone. It was a cultivated lie, and yet...sometimes, when the loneliness of his situation weighed down on him, he wondered how much of it might actually be truth.


Briefly, he saw a flash of Troian as a small child, no more than a toddler, smiling up at him – likely no more than 14 or so himself, though not even Dmitri knew his true age – as he held her close. Once, he'd been allowed to show her his affection for her as the closest thing he'd ever had to a sibling. But that had been before Alexi had seen the power lying in wait for her to grow into it, power both he and Dmitri had hoped she would never inherit.


That's when everything changed for the young sorcerer, and Dmitri had to separate himself from the only family he'd known in his short life. Yet, he'd never really resented her for that. It wasn't something she'd been in control of. It wasn't even something she was aware of. She'd been too young to remember a time when she had, briefly, had someone to play doting older brother to her. And if Alexi had his way, she'd never know. To this day, Dmitri was still just grateful that Alexi hadn't abandoned him entirely. And he was just as committed to Troian's safety as her own father was...even if he was beginning to have doubts about the methods to achieve that goal.


Look, Troian. We should just forget this whole thing ever happened,” he muttered, just now realizing he'd been staring at her the entire time he'd let his thoughts wander. What could he have possibly given away in his eyes that were always troublesomely expressive if he wasn't being cautious? He wasn't sure, and that bothered him. Again, he let himself wonder briefly just what was wrong with him that he was letting his control slip so easily, and had been since he'd woken from the dream. Something more than he'd realized had happened to him during that, and he needed to get it sorted soon, for the safety of everyone around him.


TROIAN--

Troian watched Dmitri's eyes as he stared at her. She may not have remembered much of him being an older sibling to her. She did remember hi giving her books, which were really her only friends. He had helped her with a scraped knee more than once when her father wasn't around. She had to think very hard to get them back. She would do what she could to get them back.

Her eyes slid from him down to the floor like his own had. "I can't and won't forget it, Dmitri. I'm sorry." She said softly, slid her hand through her hair, playing with one of the red streaks thoughtfully. She needed to talk to her Father again. They all needed to talk together, as a family. Her gaze landed on the blood on her collar, folding it in towards herself. Her eyes lifted up to him then. She knew she had to change before her Father woke up. At least her shirt, so he wouldn't notice the blood.

"Can..the..problem you are working on wait another day, Dmitri? I want to make dinner, and I think the three of us need to sit together and eat, and speak..as a family." She smiled softly to him. Walking to the table an leaving the books on it she had wanted. from what she had seen in her vision of the elementals, she wasn't sure if another day or not would matter. "If not, you do what you need to do, use me and my powers if you need it." She knew his death would destroy her Father. Dmitri's death would destroy her as well she realized. More so that she wouldn't forgive herself for the way she had treated him, with so little time to make it up to him. But also for the loss of his presence in her life for both of them.

She cleared her throat and checked the time on her watch. She walked around the table to get to the door, not invading his space like she had before. Not wanting to make him feel uncomfortable. "You're not a freak, Mitja. You're family." She smiled as she looked at him. She didn't move to touch him or go near him. Hell if the people in her class near abouut her own powers they would probably also call her a freak and treat her differently. As it was, she stayed very much on the outside looking in at the other people she was surrounded with. Both at school and in life here. Her Father and Dmitri, they few others who drifted in and out that weren't completely human. Those too dumb to know they should use their shields, or that didn't know they had them screamed at her when they came or by her. She always made sure her own shields were tightly wrapped when she was around them.

Troian thought quietly as she headed to the door of the library to go upstairs. "You and Dad both need to eat." She said softly, her gray eyes holding some shame still at the way she had treated him in her life.Could she ever really apologize enough for it? She didn't know, but she was going to make damn sure to try. "I can make your favorite..I don't know what it is since I've leaving you bar food for a couple years. Just..tell me and I'll make it." She used as a peace offering. She was a very good cook and tended a garden even on top of the building. A lot of vegetables but even more rare herbs and things her Father wanted her to grow for the spells they used.


DMITRI--

Dmitri shrugged again, watching her move, caution colouring his expression. He was beginning to wonder if he'd actually woken from the dream after all, at this point. He always knew he was dreaming when he was within one. Always, without exception. He felt awake right now. Yet, the things Troian was saying, it just wasn't right. This all wasn't a dream, didn't feel like a dream, but it seemed like it should be a dream. What was going on, exactly? Paranoia and confusion burst into being suddenly within him.


Warily, Dmitri shook his head. “It can't wait, really. But it might have to. Something...is wrong.” He could hear the puzzlement within his own voice, but he did nothing to correct it as he continued trying to address her barrage of questions and requests and statements, finding it strangely hard to focus.


I'm not sure what you're thinking, but apologizing to me for silliness doesn't somehow suddenly make me your family. What the hell would even possess you to think that suddenly?” And this was something that truly did bother Dmitri, more than anything else at the moment. She shouldn't be thinking of them as a family. The last time that had even been hinted at in her life was shortly before she'd turned two. Had he given something away inadvertently, or...was something else entirely going on here? If it wasn't for the fact that he was certain the library was warded against pretty much anything that might try to walk through its doors – personally certain, since he'd crafted almost all of the wards himself, and had been responsible for powering every single one of them – he really would wonder if possession was a real possibility.


You don't know me, not really. You don't know what I do and don't need,” the sorcerer bit out, maybe more harshly than he'd intended. But he was a little upset over her strange about face. For so long she'd detested Dmitri, treated him like some kind of freak, or just plain dirt. And now Troian was being almost nauseatingly pleasant to him. No, something was very, very wrong here. “Just...go harass your father until he gives in to you, witchling. Heaven knows he probably doesn't have the strength to stand against you for long anyway.”


Dmitri fell silent then, just watching her with suspicion burning in his cobalt eyes, making them almost – but not quite – seem to glow. He never realized he was shivering, nor that his shields were completely absent at this point, having been slowly eroded away as they'd been speaking. It was why he'd had so much trouble maintaining his control, but he'd been unable to see or feel it happening. Just as he was unable to see or sense that there was indeed something wrong, but that it was within him and not with Troian. All he was aware of was the growing sense that something was very, very wrong, and that the young witch standing uncomfortably close – and for him right now, even rooms away might be uncomfortably close – was the most likely threat to him. It was only a whisper of thought deep, deep within his mind that kept him from summoning his blades to hand in that moment.


TROIAN--

Troian froze where she stood when he snarled at her. What the hell had indeed, she thought quietly. She slowly turned to look at him and slowly lowered her own shields, knowing, as Dmitri had, she was safe in there because of the wards. Her Father had said she was like a beacon, maybe she wouldn't be in here. Once down she slid her gaze to Dmitri once more and held her hand out in front of her. She not only felt, but saw that his own shields were down as well. Her eyes drifted to his back and saw a shadow there.

When he thought about her at two years old and holding her, she remembered that as well. "Something is wrong, Dmitri." She said very softly, in a voice one would use to not spook a startled horse as her silver eyes arrested his sapphire ones. She breathed out harshly as she looked at him, seeing those shadows again on his back. "What happened in that dream? Your shields are down and your power and memories are screaming at me." She slid her shields back into place.

She had never been around him this long for as long as she could remember. She shut down the memories that bled from him into her and shook her head to clear it a little. She didn't look any further at him, knowing if she did it could be a problem, making sure her shields would stay in place. She wondered if it was because he touched her and healed her. Her hand drifted to her neck where the cut had been and looked back to him sharply at his words. Anger lighting her own eyes in return at how she spoke of her father.

She swallowed hard and glared at him, taking deep breaths. She had promised her Father she would be kinder to him. She had felt and seen some of his memories about them, she knew there were more. She refused to look though. It was rude to continue, he had lost control of his shields. She checked herself so she wouldn't speak out of anger. "Really? My Father.." She trailed off and stopped herself from what she wanted to say. The words cut deep. "He keeps helping you out he probably won't." She growled at him and turned to head to the stairs. She felt bad immediately for her words. Damn him, and herself for it. "Fucking hell." She said softly under her breath as she walked past him.

DMITRI--

His eyes, starting to appear a little sunken, the dark stain of exhaustion and perhaps even some sort of illness painting the skin around them in smudges of a pale ashen purple, never left her as she spoke to him in words that grew increasingly puzzling to his fevered mind. He struggled, now, to even recall what dream she was talking about. What would a little witchling know about his dreams? Is that what she would want from him? They were always hunting him, if they found out about him. The witches always wanted to hunt him down, make him into a mindless slave for his power.


Her mention of Alexi almost – almostwas enough to bring him back to lucidity. But the burning need in him to lash out born of childhood terrors and the magic racing fever-bright through his mind and body proved stronger even than his love of the mage. With the slightest twist of his wrist and a thought one blade dropped down from his sleeve and into his waiting hand just as the witch walked past him. He tightened his grip on the weapon in his hand, preparing to strike out at her as her back was turned to him.


Dmitri actually raised the blade, ready to plunge it into her back, ready to end what he could only see as a threat. Yet, something stopped him. Some little whisper in the depths of his mind stayed his hand. That soft little voice insisted she wasn't a threat, she wasn't an enemy. She was... He wasn't sure, but he couldn't kill, not even in self defense, if he wasn't sure what he was killing first. He gasped, a soft, broken sound, and dropped the blade to clatter onto the concrete floor at his feet. He wrapped his arms around his shivering body, fever-bright eyes locked to her form. He grasped desperately for some sense of sanity, of lucidity. Then, collapsing to his knees, he rasped out a warning to her just as darkness began to pull him down into its depths.


Run. Go, get out. Lock the door and...run...”


TROIAN--

Troian heard something and something screamed at her in warning as Dmitri had his blade out again and raised to strike. She twirled quickly, taking a few more hurried steps back. When he stopped, she did not. Her eyes taking in his appearance, shaking seeing him look like he was sick. The blade hitting the floor brought her out of whatever shock she was in.

"Dmitri.." She whispered an took a step towards him as he collapsed to his knees. She reached her hand out, and her magicks to touch him. Something was wrong, but what, she didn't know. She swallowed hard and froze at his words. It was brief but she nodded at his words. She ran to the door, locking it and up to the main landing, slamming the door behind her and shaking as she leaned against it.

She thought quickly and decided to try to pare down in her head what she had seen from him later. She needed to get her Father. That was the only thing she could think of. She bolted up the steps to their apartment and stumbled as she opened the door and ran to her Father's bedroom. She knocked loudly and opened the door, running to his bedside and grabbing his arm. "Daddy! Daddy, wake up. Mitja..something happened, please wake up!" She was panicking, maybe some things had drifted into her from him. Family is what he felt like. She was on the verge of tears, some slipping from her eyes. She hoped that whatever had happened to Dmitri had not happened to her Father as well. She shook him again, shaking, fear in her words and running rampant through her body.


ALEXI--

Almost immediately on falling into a deep and much-needed slumber, Alexi was drawn into dreams. Mostly they were of the past; dreams of a dirty, pitiful, yet somehow radiantly beautiful little boy scrounging for food from a dumpster in the alley behind the pub. Visions of that little boy running away with an unearthly grace, fear so strong even Alexi could feel it trailing along behind the boy. Memories of the first time the little boy didn't run, but instead held his ground as Alexi offered him a fresh sandwich from the kitchen, Zoya standing in the doorway behind him, watching fondly. Dreams of the time before everything in his life had collapsed into a yawning pit of grief.


He woke sluggishly to an almost painful grip shaking his arm and shouting ringing in his ears. He was about to tell the intruder to go away and let him sleep when the fog lifted from his mind and he realized what his daughter was saying to him. He sat up, rubbing his hands over his face and taking a deep breath before finally speaking. “Mitja..? Wait, wait... Troian, baby, take a deep breath and tell me what happened. Tell me everything that happened. Everything.” His eyes searched her face as he spoke, and he grasped one of her hands in his, trying to give her an anchor to focus on. Fear and dread thrummed through him, but he refused to acknowledge it. There would be time for that later...hopefully. For now, he needed to know what had her so terrified. And if it involved Dmitri, he knew he needed to know it all before he rushed off. Otherwise, things might be made all the worse...


DMITRI--

This time, there was no maze. In fact, there was nothing but a swirling mist surrounding him. He was, as usual, aware that this was a dream, even if it felt...off...somehow. The realization came to him that there was no maze this time because he was already trapped, right where his attacker wanted him. Dimly, he hoped Troian had obeyed his last words before the darkness had taken him, instead of stopping to argue as he was afraid she might have.


Here, he could see clearly what had happened to him, even though when he'd been awake his own power fighting with the spell seeking to overtake him had left him confused and fevered. The thing he'd feared as far back as his memory went had finally happened; he was ensnared by a magician seeking to harness the power of a nephilim. He shivered within the dream, a motion that carried over to his physical body where it lay slumped on the cold concrete floor of Alexi's hidden library.


He could see, now, too, that the whole thing with the elementals had been a part of the trap, something that was guaranteed to draw his attention in a way nothing else ever could. Whatever force had been setting the trap for him knew him, too well. Dread made a heavy weight in his heart.


He'd spent the entirety of his life, all that he remembered anyway, hiding his nature from anyone around him, just because of the fear of this very situation. Only two people knew what he was. Of those two, he trusted Alexi Novak. The other...well, he'd thought that one was gone, probably even dead. That one, he'd once trusted nearly as much as Alexi himself. Almost, except for the tiny voice of instinct that had warned him there was something dark within her. Playing with things she never should have – elementals, as it happened – had been her downfall.


Zoya! Did it really take you so long to figure out how to trap me?” His voice as he shouted into the drifting mist was utterly wrecked with grief for the woman he'd been too young to save from herself, yet still strong with anger and a power that she hadn't quite yet completely bound.


A laugh, soft for all that it managed to carry clearly to him, drifted out of the mists swirling around him. “Little Dmitri, how you've grown,” she said in a voice that still sometimes haunted him. “But, no, little one. Trapping you was simple. You haven't really changed so much from that little boy in need of love and safety.”


There was a pause, and he spent that time trying to gather to himself whatever shreds of power left untainted by her trap he could, preparing to fight back against her. But his efforts were blocked swiftly by the power that held him here in this place, and a growl rose unbidden from deep within his chest. “You won't win, Zoya. I may not be that different at the core from the boy you knew, but I'm so much stronger than you can imagine.”


Another laugh sounded out in the dim nothingness, taunting him. “So am I, little nephilim. Crawling my way back out of Hell took so long...so very long, but it was worth it. And, to think, I did it all for you. All because I wanted what you can give me, Dmitri. And I will have it. I will have it!”


TROIAN--

Troian was in complete panic mode by the time that Alexi awoke, tears streaming her face. She knew her Father needed sleep, but she also knew Mitja needed him, and her too. Her breath hitching as he spoke, feeling like a child having a nightmare. When he took her hand she sat down next to him and slowly took some breaths to calm herself down. Terror raced through her, not that she'd get into trouble, but that something would happen to her Father as well.

Once she calmed down enough, Troian started with her going into the library. She didn't leave anything out of the telling. She told him the truth, even with Mitja having cut her with the knife on her throat. Her finger touching the healed cut as she thought about it. She apologized for going in, but not for waking him. Telling her Father about Dmitri healing the cut.

Troian told her Father how they had spoken and she had remembered a little from before. How she apologized for treating him the way she had. She left nothing out. She felt ashamed for how she had treated him in the past. Her face reddened and tears started rolling down her face again. She swallowed hard and then told him about how erratic he behaved. How he called her 'witchling'. The only things she left out were rising to the bait Dmitri had thrown at her, but did tell him his shields were gone and how sick he looked.

"He was going to attack me but..he stopped. He yelled at me to leave and lock the door." She finished with, her eyes wide and terrified about it. She hadn't wanted to upset her Father. "Dad..we have to help him. You're not alone in this anymore. He is family." She said softly.


ALEXI--

He listened to his daughter, working hard to control the sheer panic that threatened to overwhelm him as she explained what happened while he was asleep. It never even occurred to him to interrupt her when she admitted to disobeying his explicit orders, nor even when she revealed that her life had been – even if only briefly – in danger from Dmitri. Though, that did clue him in to the fact that something had been wrong with Dmitri before either he or Troian had realized it. Dmitri never, ever lost control like that. He couldn't afford to.


Oddly, the thing that took him most by surprise during her whole tale was at the very end. She called Dmitri family. He searched her face, her eyes, trying to understand exactly why she'd decided this. He got, of course, that she had somehow picked up things from Dmitri – another clear sign that things weren't right with him – but it really surprised him that she would change her thinking so quickly. It surprised him enough that he even began to worry that whatever had made this happen to Dmitri might have touched her, as well.


Finally, taking a deep breath and then heaving a sigh, he let his eyes drop from hers to where he still gripped her hand. Alexi slid an arm around his daughter's shoulders, pulling her close. “I...don't know what to do,” he admitted, his tone full of shame and fear and regret. He couldn't help but to think of the last time a loved one was in danger, and how his inaction had lead to her corruption and death – though this was something that Dmitri time and again insisted was not true, that nothing Alexi could have done would have changed what happened.


He tilted his head to look at Troian again, for a change not hiding his emotions from her behind a mask, though he was careful to keep his mental shields up as well as he could. She was wrecked enough, and there was no point in adding to that – especially when he wasn't even sure that she wasn't being affected by whatever it was that was enspelling Dmitri. As he studied her, he came to a decision. “I think, though, that it's time I told you something about Dmitri. But... I can't be sure that whatever has him hasn't gotten a hold on you, as well.” He sighed again, feeling his age more deeply than he ever had. “I just... I don't know what to do, Troian...”


TROIAN--

Troian watched her Father, frowning as he searched her face. She finally realized that maybe nothing had happened to her Father, but quite possibly, had happened to her instead. Her eyes widened as she searched through her mind, picking up memories of Dmitri when she was a baby, how he was the doting older brother to her. She shook her head and the images with it went away finally. They still hung around at the edges though.

She leaned into her Father when his arm went around her and held her to him, sighing and biting her lip. She hugged him, knowing he was extremely upset. “It felt familiar, Dad.” She said softly. She didn’t just mean what she had seen from Dmitri, but she had felt from him. She looked back to him. “How do we find that out, then? If it has me too? With Dmitri’s shields down I felt his memories of me when I was little. And..Mom.” She added softly. Tears filling her eyes again and sighing softly. She didn’t want to think about how she had treated him, how she hadn’t been able to really get to make it up to him. She was trying very hard not to think about it.

“What is he, Dad?” She asked softly. The body temperature thing still nagged at him. “When he touched me his hand was very hot. He has a higher body temperature then humans.” She was merely curious, trying to remember something she had read in passing that had echoed to her. “He isn’t human is he?” Was he downright dangerous though? Yes, but not to her, not like she had seen him before trying to hurt her tonight. That wasn’t his fault.

Troian was more terrified then she had ever been before, rubbing her eyes gently. She was so confused by everything. He had practically been broadcasting to her down in the library. She felt so damned guilty about all of it.


ALEXI--

Alexi could only shake his head at first, unable to come up with a real answer for her, for any of it. This all wasn't supposed to happen. It never should have happened; they'd always taken every precaution possible. And yet, it had happened, and he needed to figure out how. “I...don't know, Troian. I don't know how to tell. Given different circumstances, I'd...well, I'd ask Mitja to check for me,” he admitted ruefully. “I think, though, that anything that happened with you was probably just spillover, if he was projecting.” What he didn't say, wouldn't say to her, was how lucky he felt she was that Dmitri retained enough control to not completely overwhelm her; it was something he could have easily done, without even trying. Alexi knew this intimately.


He scrubbed a hand over his face, trying to run away tears that threatened, frustration building now. To tell her, or to not tell her? Most of her life had been about making sure she never discovered Dmitri's true nature, for her safety as well as for his. Now the unthinkable had happened, and... Well, whatever had Dmitri couldn't get to him physically, not in the library. And if he was truly locked in there, he wouldn't be able to get out on his own, either, not even if under the influence of someone or something else. All this meant that at least one of their long-ago planned out contingencies was working, and the power behind this all wouldn't be able to fully take possession of the nephilim and the entirety of his power. There was still time, and this needed dealt with as well.


“He's not entirely human, Troian. No. Though, some of what you felt may have been from whatever spell he was struggling with. He's a little warmer, but not that much.” As he'd spoken, he'd avoided looking directly at her, but now he turned to meet her eyes, blue searching silver for her reaction. Satisfied by whatever he found there, he continued. “Dmitri is...nephilim.” He realized even as he spoke that she might not – in fact probably didn't – know what nephilim were. Blessedly few people did, these days. And even those that knew the word within their community thought they were just an old myth.


“He's... Well, nephilim are part human, part angel. Most never live, but the ones who do.. There's something about that melding that increases the angelic power exponentially, far beyond even that of the angel parent.” He hesitated then, scrubbing his hand over his face again. This was far harder to talk about than he'd ever imagined; not that he'd ever even let himself imagine having this conversation with anyone much, certainly not since he'd had to sit down and try to put it all into words for a solemn little boy of about six years old when that little boy finally asked what made him different.


With a heavy sigh, he continued again. “Worse for Dmitri in some ways, we...suspect he's not even a few generations removed from the angelic parent. Probably...one of his parents was...an angel.” He squeezed Troian to him, then let his hands drop away, releasing her. He stood and stepped away from the bed – and her – to go and lean against the doorway to his room. His action wasn't really to withdraw from her so much as to give her space to absorb what he'd said. And, he had to admit to himself, to see if her famous temper exploded over what he'd kept hidden from her for her whole life. Knowing what little she did of the secretive community that he and Dmitri lived within, and that she lived at the edges of, he could hope she would see the necessity of keeping such a powerful and potentially dangerous secret from her as well as the community. But...he couldn't be sure that she wouldn't react to it as a betrayal, instead of with understanding.


TROIAN--

Troian sat quietly as he Father spoke. She leaned into him, letting him speak. She never interrupted him. When he squeezed her and then stood, walking away from her, there was a lot of shock making her sit there and not react yet. She was in shock, there was no other word for it. She had heard of Nephilim before, in the book she had taken by accident once. Her Father had taken it from her and scolded her for it. If only she had known.

She opened her mouth as her temper had grabbed her but quickly shut it, looking down at the floor instead. She quietly worked through everything in her head. “I just wish you had told me. I understand why. I can’t be kept out of anything anymore, Dad.” She said softly. She swallowed hard and looked at her Father.

“Are you Mitja’s human parent?” She tilted her head to the side as she watched him. No accusation, just genuine curiosity in her voice. It made sense, Dad raised him, they both had gorgeous blue eyes. They had been raised, at least for a time like brother and sister. She realized now that was what had always bothered Troian, that Dmitri was not human, that he was other and powerful.

She needed to know how to learn to check herself from now on for things like this. Something that spoke to her, slowly standing to walk over to him. “I need to learn how to do things better. You can’t keep me from studying anymore, Dad. You can’t keep me out of this. I need to help you, help Mitja. Tell me what I can do to help him, Dad.” She didn’t like being in the dark about all of this. No more. She had to grow further into her powers, she would take the crash course if she had to. “Please.” She pleaded softly.


ALEXI--

His own temper, a match to his daughter's though one he had long ago learned to – mostly – keep in check, flared up. “You don't need to learn to do things better, not magical things. I have tried so hard and so much to get through to you that you needed to learn enough to control what power you have, and then be done with it!” Pain from old grief mixed with the fresh grief of knowing he'd managed to fail the two people left that he loved had left him with little control just then. He glared at her, then, as guilt rose up, dropped his eyes away from her and slipped through the doorway to stand just outside the room in the hall to gain a little distance from her, though still facing her.


His voice, when he controlled himself enough to speak again, was lower and calmer, but he still couldn't quite tamp out the emotion that quavered in it. “I can keep you out of whatever I think you need to be kept out of, Troian. You're right, of course. I can't stop you. But I can deny you access to all of my resources.” He fell silent, his jaw working as he fought to control the anger still gnawing at him.


Dmitri is not your brother. I am not his father. No one knows who his parents are, or were. He was abandoned, alright? We took in a little homeless boy starving in the alley behind the pub, and while I love him dearly, it is also one of my greatest sins.” Now it was grief and guilt and fear foremost in his mind, the anger almost completely submerged. “This has nothing to do with you, Troian. Not really. And you need to just stay out of it.” Even as he said it, he knew she wouldn't. It felt like his entire world was falling apart. Everything he'd so long tried to protect was in grave danger, and he could do nothing about it.


TROIAN--

Troian stood there as he snapped at her, triggering her own temper again, she looked down at his words. She shook as she stood there, opening and closing her hands. She would not let her temper get the better of her, that had happened enough on the past and again today. It was the last thing she wanted right now.

She sighed and slowly pulled her gaze back to her Father. “Mitja is my brother. He is family.” She said softly to him. Something she very much needed him to understand. None of this was needed. She held her hands up to him, looking at her Father. Her stubborn streak was stronger than her temper at the moment.

Troian thought quietly and worked her emotions through her head before she spoke next. “Father, please. I asked before, I am begging you now. I am trying very hard to obey your wishes. I worry for you, I know there is more inside of me with power. I would rather do it under your watch than alone. I would rather do it right, Father.” She used the formal word for what he was to her, as a sign of respect. “I don’t want you to die, I saw your aura. Please Father, I am not my Mother. Please.”


ALEXI--

He is not your brother!” As soon as the shout left his lips, he took a step back so that he was leaning against the wall of the hallway opposite the doorway to his room. Alexi was appalled at the force of his anger, and the words he'd uttered. They were true. In the strictest, most technical of meanings, the words were true. But his heart cried out at the denial nonetheless.


I don't care that you think you have more power left untapped, Troian. I truly don't. Just because it's there doesn't mean it should be used, or even touched on,” he said, his voice growing ever more broken as he continued. “I'm trying so hard to make sure of that. I've spent years trying to make sure you don't become your mother, Troian. I wish you would try to understand...”


He gave up and just stared openly at her, as though seeing her anew – and as though what he saw frightened him as well as pained him. He was coming to believe that she was going to walk the path her mother had no matter what he did.


TROIAN--

Troian took a step back when he yelled at her, like she had been slapped. She sighed and held her hands up, swallowing her tears. "I'm sorry, Father." She whispered softly. She looked at him, biting her lip. She had pushed him too far. It was unintentional. She took a few more steps towards him. "I do, I understand. Forgive me."

She felt deep inside of herself that she should do something to help both her Father and Dmitri. She made a mental note not to refer Dmitri as family again. She felt she had a duty to help though, it spoke to her. She dearly wanted it. She would obey her Father, for now. "I'm sorry, Dad." It would help if he would at least tell her what Zoya had done, so she would avoid it. Troian knew better than to try to bring it up again though.

"Dad, you need to rest." She said softly, walking towards him, offering her arm to him. She looked hurt, and sad. She would obey though. Her eyes watched her Father though, concern touching her face. "I'm sorry.." She said again. She meant for everything, for her Mother, for what had happened to Dmitri, even her own stubbornness and temper. She was sorry, for everything.


ALEXI--

He sighed, scrubbing at his face with his hand. He'd gone too far. He realized that. But it felt like it was watching Zoya all over again, her increasing desire to learn more, to do more with her power, until it had eventually consumed her. Except that it was worse this time, because he was terrified of what was to come, instead of blissfully ignorant – at least until it had been too late.


No, baby. It's fine. I'm fine. I'm the one who should be sorry.” He almost asked for her forgiveness in turn, but stopped before the words could leave his mouth. He wasn't sure he deserved forgiveness. And, at the same time, he wasn't sure he even wanted forgiveness, considering that he could never forgive himself. “You've been through a lot today, though, Troian. You need rest even more than I do. I've had a nap at least.”


Hesitantly, sure she would rebuff him, he bent to place a gentle kiss on her forehead in place of taking the arm she offered. He might be getting old, be he wasn't quite so old yet that he needed her help to walk. “There's some time yet to figure out how to help Dmitri. I just... I need to think. I need to see if I can remember anything I've ever read, or even anything he's ever said to me, that might help figure this out...since the library will have to be off-limits for now.”


His eyes slipped closed briefly as he did what he hadn't been inclined to since he was a child. He sent out a swift, desperate, heart-felt prayer to whatever being might be listening. A prayer for Dmitri's safety and strength for him to prevail in whatever battle he was fighting. And, a prayer for his daughter to come out of this all unscathed. Or, at least as safely as possible.


TROIAN--

I forgive you, Dad. I’m a pain in the ass, I know.” She said to him softly. She smiled when he kissed her forehead and moved to hug him. She did this for two reasons. One because she needed his comfort, and two because she was so afraid that something would happen to him. She moved away from the hug slowly, watching him.

He was right, she did need rest, but she was mostly hungry at this point. “I’ll make us some dinner, yeah?” She had told him she would earlier. “Maybe sandwiches or something? You haven’t eaten today, remember?” She was dearly worried for him. She knew magic cost him more than it did her. Most of the time it was effortless for her. Unlike the visions, which she fought because she hated not having control of the situation.

She tugged on his arm gently. “I think you left some books in the office downstairs for me. Would those help?” She doubted it, not having remembered anything in them having to do with Nephilim. However, she had only stuck to the pages in the lesson he had given her. She could be wrong. She stiffened when his eyes closed and then out a sigh of relief seeing he hadn’t passed out. She slid her hand through her hair, and moved to hug him again. She was terrified for him, and also for Dmitri. She wondered briefly if this would get better for them. If he just told her what her Mother had done, it would have saved a lot of grief.