Mikal entered the busy bar and immediately grimaced. He didn't want to be here at all, he knew he should be relishing this seeing as he was a cosmopolitan man in his late twenties who looked more like he was in his early twenties and he knew he should enjoy this as the band on stage where quite good and he was meeting up with a group of friends; but still he couldn't find himself to be enthused. He just wanted to stay in his dingy apartment and paint by terrible artificial light. Instead he was sitting at a boisterous table filled with acquaintances and people he could barely call friends (he never stays in one place long enough to make many real friends) and silently sipping a beer whilst he observed the scene unfolding in front of him. Currently the conversational topic of choice was some terrible action movie that he had absolutely no interest in. But regardless of how interested he was in the topic of choice he soon would have been distracted.

Zayvin entered the dimly lit bar and grimaced. It was smoky, loud, and full of drunkards. But then again he wasn't here to socialize. He was just trying to find a bit of alcohol to ingest after the hellish day he just had. He had travelled to Earth on a 'scouting' mission. This little backwater planet had been getting a lot of attention lately and owning a shipping company it was in his interest to find the fastest routes and to see if this place has anything worth shipping to other planets. He didn't however anticipate just how backwater these people where. Despite a debriefing by his AI he was still slightly overwhelmed by this planet and most especially by just how… strange this race seemed to be. It didn't take long however for him to realize that something was amiss about this particular drinking establishment. His eyes immediately went to the willowy redhead who was sipping a drink and looking utterly bored. A growl came low in his throat and his fangs burst forth. He'd just found his mate.

Mikal immediately clenched the bottle in his grip tighter and a chill went up his spine the minute he heard a growl very similar to many he has heard before. He immediately whipped his head around and without even trying they found their target. Walking towards him was a very large Zercan with black hair and a determined expression upon his face. His heart started racing and he glanced for a way out. No! This cannot be happening, not now! He thought fighting the urge to panic. He forged a life on Earth, he stayed here by choice, he wanted nothing to do with this mate business. The man finally got to where Mikal was standing and resolutely held out his hand. Fuck, Mikal thought he couldn't even play dumb seeing as he was obviously a Zercan. "Can I help you?" he asked coldly.

"Why are you not placing your hand in mine?" he growled.

Mikal tried to think quick and soon came up with a plan to get rid of this guy and hopefully keep away from him. He gave his sweetest, shyest smile and demurely said, "I'm sorry… this is all a bit overwhelming. I… just can we not do something so… special in front of an audience. How about we go to my place instead?"

The man had a look of confusion at the beginning of his speech but then a smile that could be best described at smug crossed his features and he fluidly replied, "of course."

"Okay," Mikal said with another sweet smile and lightly touched his lower arm. "Just let me get the tab and I'll meet you at the door." The man gave a nod and Mikal thanked his lucky stars that he hadn't bonded with the man yet and lying was still an easy feat.

"See you there," he said with a surprisingly sincere smile as he quickly ran his fingers down Mikal's jaw line then made his way towards the entrance.

"Who was that?" Shannon asked with a raised eyebrow and looking a little confused in fact everyone at his table was looking quite confused.

"Oh… I'll explain later," he said with a grin. Mikal drank here often… and was already forging a plan based on that. Mikal knew there was a backdoor if you went down the stairs that came up from the kitchen. That staircase is also right by the bar so he should be able to pay the tab, ask the bartender, and then hail a cab. Nodding resolutely he paid his tab, put an excess amount of change in the tip jar, and the bartender complied almost immediately when he whispered that some creepy guy was at the door with bad intentions… which wasn't a total lie depending on your opinion. Mikal made his exit and fought down the panic consuming him the minute he hit the street. The bar was on a bit of a side street so getting a taxi would be impossible. It was very close to a main road however so he sprinted towards it and thanked the stars that the wind was blowing towards the road and not towards… him. He got to the road and sprinted to the corner then stuck out his hand hoping that a taxi would soon make itself known. Luck was thankfully on his side and a car pulled over after barely a minute of standing there. He got in and decided to just have the cabbie drive him to his hole in the wall apartment building. He entertained the notion of just going somewhere else random in town, take a subway, etc, etc, to cover his tracks but this was just easier and he didn't think he'd feel unsettled till he was safely locked up in his apartment.

I entered the bar with a grimace. I know I should be more excited, after all there's a decent band on stage, cheap drinks, and a table full of acquaintances… but honestly I just want to be at home painting. Instead of doing what I truly want to do I'm now sipping a beer and watching the dull scene in front of me unfold. Everyone was talking about some silly action movie that I had no interest in and I was glancing around boredly trying to figure out when I could make my escape. Truth be told I only came to avoid the nagging of one of my coworkers. She is constantly yammering on and on about how I'm not social enough and how I don't do anything fun; it's enough to make one go insane.

Zayvin entered the dimly lit bar and grimaced. It was smoky, loud, and full of drunkards. But then again he wasn't here to socialize. He was just trying to find a bit of alcohol to ingest after the hellish day he just had. He had travelled to Earth on a 'scouting' mission. This little backwater planet had been getting a lot of attention lately and owning a shipping company it was in his interest to find the fastest routes and to see if this place has anything worth shipping to other planets. He didn't however anticipate just how backwater these people where. Despite a debriefing by his AI he was still slightly overwhelmed by this planet and most especially by just how… strange this race seemed to be. It didn't take long however for him to realize that something was amiss about this particular drinking establishment. His eyes immediately went to the willowy redhead who was sipping a drink and looking utterly bored. A growl came low in his throat and his fangs burst forth. He'd just found his mate.

I tightly clenched the beer bottle in my grip as a chill went up my spine the minute I heard a growl I knew all too well. Sure I've never heard that specific growl, but I've heard enough just like it to know exactly what it meant. I immediately whipped my head around to scope the place out but without even trying I found who I was looking for. Approaching me was a large Zercan with well-styled black hair (maybe a little over-styled for my tastes, but then again I mostly date scruffy artists who don't own hairbrushes) and a confident demeanour. The only thought running through my head was 'No this cannot be happening!' I fought down the bile rising up my throat and tried to forge a plan. I refuse to be mated; this is not going to happen! I stayed on Earth by choice! I chose never to go back to Zerca because I want nothing to do with this mate business and no passing traveller is going to ruin this for me. I have a life here!

The man finally reached his destination (namely me) and resolutely held out his hand. I couldn't even play dumb as I was so obviously a Zercan but… I can try to lose him. "Hello," I said as happily as I could fake and plastered on a sweet smile.

"Why are you not placing your hand in mine?" he growled whilst checking me out with a possessive gleam in his eye. I wanted to condemn him for it but I was doing the exact same. He was beyond gorgeous despite his clean-cut appearance. He just oozed masculinity with a muscled build and a strong jaw; he also had gorgeous purple eyes and impossibly black hair.

I tried to look as sweet and shy as possible and demurely said, "I'm sorry… this is all a bit overwhelming. I… just can we not do something so special in front of an audience? How about we go to my place instead." I thought of every embarrassing moment in my life as I said my silly little speech and was unbelievably relieved to feel my cheeks heat up.

This man… my mate looked a little confused at first but a smile that could only be described as smug enveloped his features and he fluidly replied, "of course."

"Okay," I said with another sweet smile as I brushed my hand against his arm. "Why don't you meet me at the door and I'll quickly pay the tab and wrap things up here?" I thanked my lucky stars I hadn't bonded with the man so our emotions where still relatively separated and lying was still a possibility.

"See you there," he said with a surprisingly sincere smile whilst he brushed one of his thumbs down my jawbone.

"So who was that?" Shannon asked with far too much curiosity in her voice.

"Oh… that… I'll explain later. I have to go," I said glad to see he was opening the door. I quickly made my way to the bar and whilst I didn't have a tab open and didn't want a drink I dumped a pile of change in the tip jar and pleaded with the bartender to let me use the backdoor (it also helped that I mentioned my stalker was here). The bartender was quite nice and actually let me go down the staircase that took you to the kitchen and backdoor. I eagerly sprinted away, ran down the alley, and finally got to the corner of a rather close and busy street and waved my arms wildly in an attempt to get a taxi to stop. One finally did and I was on my way home and to safety. I briefly considered getting dropped off at a subway station, and taking some real backwards strange way home… but I doubt he'll be able to follow my tracks regardless and I know I won't stop panicking until I'm safely locked up at home. I finally got to my dingy little apartment, locked the door behind me, closed the curtains and tried to keep my hands from shaking. I couldn't believe how on edge I still was; even after taking a shot of vodka I was feeling the same.

How can this be happening? I stayed on Earth solely to avoid this whole… mate business. I know it sounds crazy but when my parents died on this planet when I was twelve and thus old enough to be on my own… all I could think was 'this is my chance'. Sure during the tough times I thought of Zerca and sure when I was a young kit I would wonder what my mate would be like, and hell I can even admit that as an adult mending a broken heart I'd allow delusional fantasies of a mate take over my mind. But when we visited Earth (my bearer was from here after all) I realized just how different it was. Why would I want to be some overly coddled bearer who is forced by some dictatorial giver to be a fucking incubator when I can instead be the one in the position of power (or at least… equality) on Earth. But most importantly the whole life ideal Zercan's go for is… disgusting. Sure the same ideal is perpetuated on Earth but to nowhere near the extent it is on Zerca. I don't want the house in the suburbs, with the white picket fence, and 2.5 children… I want to be Picasso, I want to be Bukowski, I want to do more with my life. I don't want to be tied down, I want to paint, I want a virtual plethora of muses walking in and out, I want to do something more with my life then to just be some obedient little housewife. And nobody not even the man I am destined to be with is going to ruin this for me! I finally realized what I had to do… I can't stay here. I'll skip town or something. I have a month-to-month lease, I was paid last week… I have no idea where I'll go… maybe New York… I could easily get lost in a crowd there. With a determined sigh I put my stacks of clothes in the suitcase sitting in the corner, folded up my easel, placed by paint supplies and paintings in some boxes (aside from the still vaguely wet ones, and glanced about at how pathetic my lodgings are. The only furniture I own is a futon, I have a couple of dishes, and then my clothes, toiletries, and art stuff. Okay… I need to borrow a computer, find the bus schedules, and leave as soon as possible. Morning will probably be adequate, I imagine… damn I don't even know his name is in his ship with his tail between his legs and trying to find a way to get his AI to stalk me. As I thought about his AI my panic came back… what if it does find me? I mean I haven't been on Zerca in fifteen years or so… technology could've improved substantially. I went back to the fridge and just pulled out the whole bottle. Relaxation is nearly impossible when my thoughts keep going back to him and what will become of my life if he ever finds me.

I had a terrible time trying to sleep… it eluded me, far more than usual. And when I did finally fall asleep my dreams shifted towards… him. I woke up feeling pretty terrible, but I suppose misery has always been good for artists. I am just extraordinarily happy that I never bonded with him and was able to get around that or life would be pretty dire right about now. Well I suppose I should get around to buying a bus ticket and picking up my paycheck.

Zayvin stood outside the bar for ten minutes before he finally went back inside and realized his mate was nowhere to be found. The first thing he did was worry… maybe he was hurt, or stolen… or something! But upon asking the people at the table he was sitting at; he found that his mate had run out the back entrance. Zayvin felt a myriad of emotions once he figured out what happened. Confusion, anger, and hurt where at the forefront. He had all but given up on ever finding a mate and then by some chance encounter he finds his mate on Earth of all places (and a Zercan mate at that) and he just leaves! Zayvin thought endlessly on why his mate would do such a thing but was incapable of drawing a conclusion and decided instead to just try and find his mate instead and take him to Zerca regardless of his thoughts on the matter. It was bad enough he let him slip away from him once already; he knew he couldn't take any more risks and his ship would be the best place for them to finally get acquainted.

I couldn't shake the paranoia that enveloped me the minute I left my apartment. It was horrible to be honest, I know I shouldn't have felt quite as paranoid as I was, but I just couldn't shake it off; I was literally looking over my shoulder constantly. I couldn't believe my life had come to this, I've been on Earth for over half my life, I've lived in this city for eight months and was actually starting to forge a bit of a reputation, I'm not a criminal and yet I'm on the fucking run like one. Why oh why did this man have to enter that bar? No, why the fuck did I even go to the bar is a better question. I never planned to, in fact I didn't want to, I wasn't going to go, I caved under pressure from an obnoxious co-worker, what the fuck is wrong with me? Had I gone with my original plan I wouldn't be in this mess.

When I entered the café to pick up my paycheck Shannon immediately bombarded me with questions as to who the guy last night was. I tried to explain to her that he was nobody and get my check for this week… but it all proved to be impossible. The manager wasn't around to cut me my check and Shannon was just irritating beyond belief so I decided to just cut my losses. It's better to be out $500 than to be stuck on Zerca. I made my way to the public library and looked up the bus schedules, turns out that the bus to New York wasn't for a few more hours, during my time online I also sent a few messages out to find someone who would let me sleep on their couch. I decided to just buy a ticket when I got there and thought I might as well hideout at the bus station with my pile of stuff and just bide my time. I could always catch a bus to some random town and then one to New York but it would really increase my wait time and drive up the cost and I can barely afford to make it there as it is. I went back to my apartment and the minute I started traversing the halls my paranoia level went down. I entered my apartment and immediately my breath hitched in my throat. Sitting on my futon was a very bored looking very familiar man. My boxes and bags where suspiciously gone and the minute I walked in he fixed me with a very chilly glare. My blood went cold and it took everything in me not to change form and run away as fast as I could. "What are you doing here?" I asked as scathingly as possible.

"You know very well why I am here," he replied bluntly.

"Get out. I will not go back to Zerca and I will not bond with you," I said as confidently as possible.

The man looked unbelievably confused (an undertone of anger was there as well) and asked, "why are you so averse to being my mate?"

I scoffed and replied, "typical giver, it's always about you. I do not want to be mated to anybody. I prefer human love instead; it is fleeting in nature and that is why it is beautiful and far more fulfilling. Not to mention I have spent over half my life on Earth and I will die on Earth, this is my home and not Zerca so I advise you return my possessions and leave immediately or I will call the police." This merely caused the man to laugh and he started to make his way towards me… fuck what is he going to do? I wanted to run I truly did but I was frozen on the spot. I never understood that 'deer in the headlights' phenomenon until that very moment. He finally made his way right in front of me, his scent assaulted my senses and for the first time it wasn't masked… it was intoxicating. I nearly lost myself in it right there, but as I practically salivated at his scent something inside my head snapped and I turned on my heel and started to run. I barely even got away when I was grabbed around my waist and hauled up on his shoulder like a sack of flour. "Let me go! Drop me this instant!" I screeched whilst trashing around violently. I tried to reach for any type of pressure point I could find, as I knew I'd never be able to overpower him. My protests where all in vain however as I was immediately teleported to his ship using a travel beam (teleporting was just as scary as I remember it always being, I always get paranoid that half of me will be left behind). He set me down as soon as we where inside and had the smuggest smile I've ever seen on his face. Anger boiling in my veins I decided to throw caution to the wind and punch him square in the jaw. "What the fuck is your problem?" I yelled, not even giving him a chance to retort I continued on, "I don't fucking want you! Don't you get it you idiot, I left Zerca for a fucking reason and I'm never going back. You can spew that mate shit all you like but I'm not going to buy into it you controlling… AGH."

I went to punch him again but this time my wrist was deftly caught. "Shut up!" he practically roared. "You're my mate and you know it, now stop this childish nonsense or I'll lock you in my quarters. The sooner you accept it the sooner we can lead a peaceful coexistence," he finished in a calm tone, which was a strange juxtaposition to his earlier roar of 'shut up'.

Instead of arguing with him, as it is impossible to argue with someone sounding so calm I instead stormed off to try and find his quarters and smash his things. I chanced upon his quarters immediately (the ship was ridiculously small) and wished he had some kind of knick-knacks but really the only thing in the room was the standard near unbreakable furniture and his clothes. I briefly considered destroying his clothes but I just knew he'd turn that act of anger into some lascivious remark. Instead I punched the wall and mostly hurt my knuckles badly. Then I tried to knock over the bolted down nightstand but failed abysmally. With a scream of frustration I kicked the now shut door and couldn't help but smile at the miniscule dent, the satisfaction I felt at that small amount of damage almost relieved the throbbing from the heel of my foot.

It wasn't until hours later that he let himself be known, he entered the room that now contained a myriad of small dents and a couple of broken knuckles on my part with a plate of food. He didn't even spare me a single glance, he merely set the plate on the nightstand and left. If this asshole thinks I'm going to eat his goddamned food, which is most likely full of sedatives or something he is sadly mistaken.

That night he re-entered the room and with a slightly raised eyebrow he whisked the plate away and came back in. "You are aware that if you don't start eating I will force-feed you," he said in a casual tone. I tried to come up with some witty retort but all I could do was gape at the confidence in his demeanour. Once he started taking off his clothes however I was truly speechless all I could do was stare and wonder what it would be like to run my fingers over those hard planes of muscle. "Like what you see?" he smugly asked, as he pulled on a pair of thin sleeping pants.

"Don't be ridiculous," I replied fixing a glare. He started to get into the bed and I immediately tried to jump off and run far, far away. "What the fuck are you doing?" I shrieked as he clutched my waist and pulled me down next to him.

"I am your mate and you will sleep in the same bed as me," he stated.

"I will do no such thing."

"Yes you will," he growled pulling the blanket over us and clutching me tightly. I tried to wiggle away but it seemed to more I moved the tighter his grip was. The worst part about it however was that instead of constricting like his arms should have felt I just felt… safe, which is the worst feeling in the world when the man that kidnapped you is the one making you feel that way. It really didn't take long for him to fall asleep but I however spent most of the night awake. I awoke in the morning feeling vaguely horrified. I was… snuggled into his chest, practically clinging to him, whilst he played with my hair and had a sickeningly sweet smile on his face. "Please don't start your chaos so early in the morning," he said softly before leaning down and gently kissing me.

The kiss was perfect, it was sweet and gentle and everything you could hope for but if there's one thing I learned on Earth it's to not trust your feelings, condemn your instincts, and stick to cold hard logic; and logic was telling me to get away as quickly as possible. "Get off of me," I said pushing him away with fisted hands (I refuse to have my hands open in any way around him, the last thing I need is for us to bond and actually be irrevocably bound to one another).

With a heavy sigh he let me go and I immediately scrambled away. "Come on we might as well go get breakfast," he said sounding vaguely annoyed. I decided to actually eat this morning simply because I do after all need to keep up my strength for when I plan my great escape and because I know my food won't be messed with. It was as expected the pre-packaged crap always on ships (some things never change I suppose) and whilst I tried to eat I could barely force any down. Why the fuck is this happening? Why does this have to be my life? I fought back the urge to cry and decided to instead focus on my anger. "Aren't you going to eat more?" he asked looking at my still half full plate filled with food I was just pushing around.

"I'm not hungry," I replied sullenly.

"I do not understand it… why are you so against being my mate? You prattled on some silly lie about human love; but surely that cannot be true."

With a heavy sigh I decided to lay it on the table and hopefully he'd just let me go home once he realized what a terrible mate I'd make. "I moved to Earth by choice because I wanted a different life for myself than the one expected on Zerca. I don't want to settle down have a bunch of kits and die after having done nothing with my life. I want to do something unique; I want to—" I immediately cut myself off when I noticed the completely confused expression on his face. "Never mind you won't get it," I said with a heavy sigh.

"Why do you believe I will never understand you? I am your mate, of course I will understand you."

"No… you truly won't and most likely never will and I am not your mate nor will I ever be your mate. You've lived on Zerca your whole life and underwent the same brainwashing I did when you where a kit but the difference between you and I is I freed myself from the shackles of social conditioning and learned to think for myself. I refuse to go back to that delusional fantasy world when I can instead be self-enlightened and no matter what you say or do, I will never be your mate," I replied in a resigned tone before leaving the dining area. I poked around and soon found my art supplies and decided to spend the rest of my day sketching.

The rest of the ride to Zerca consisted mostly of me drawing, Zayvin attempting to speak to me… but I mostly just ignored him, and planning my grande escape.

We finally landed on Zerca and where teleported to the foyer of what appeared to be a large house. The house was… kind of cold and clinical it was large and architecturally interesting but I was really put off by the white walls and lack of personal trinkets and knick-knacks. "Would you like the tour?" he asked nervously.

"Why not," I flippantly replied it's best to know the layout so I can escape with ease.

"Okay," he said with a smile. He took me around the first floor, which consisted of a living room with a high ceiling (and impersonal furniture that looked like it had never even been sat on), a formal dining room that had a very nice table and chair set but still the room was white, a kitchen filled with appliances and a small cozy dining area that made me smile with its worn out table and obvious usage, there was also a messy well used office that could best be described as organized chaos with gorgeous windows. "This can be the room you paint in," Zayvin explained and I couldn't help but be perplexed… why in the world would he give me this room to paint when it's his office? We then went up a staircase and he showed me a bunch of empty bedrooms before taking me up to the next level where it was even creepier then any other room in the house. "This is our bedroom," he said motioning to the room in general. It was a huge bedroom the bed was large and had black sheets and blankets, but it still had white walls. The thing that surprised me the most was upon looking into the bathroom, he actually had an Earth bathroom with a huge bathtub and shower and I was a bit excited as I was certain I'd be stuck using cleansing beams the entire time I was here. "There's also a basement but it's just some spare bedrooms and raw space."

I ignored him saying it was our bedroom as well… I was pretty much stuck using it… it isn't like I noticed any other beds, besides it won't be that bad I've been stuck sharing with him on the ship and this bed is way bigger than that one. I felt awkward asking it to be honest… it felt too personal if I'm being frank, but it just kept itching at the back of my mind. "Why is your house so strange?"

"What do you mean? Do you not like it?" he asked with furrowed eyebrows.

"It's okay I guess, I mean it's architecturally interesting and big and stuff. But that isn't really what I was asking. I just… have you lived here long?" I asked feeling so strange and wishing I never even bothered to open my mouth.

"I've lived here for quite some time actually. My life-givers bought me this house when I was in my early twenties."

"How do you live like this? It's so… barren and cold and the walls are white and your house is utterly impersonal," I exclaimed.

He gave me a sad smile and after a couple moments of silence he replied, "I never bothered to decorate as I always assumed I would find my mate right away and he would help me. It doesn't really bother me though, I have never really spent much time here."

"Oh… right… okay," I replied feeling so out of place and wishing I could melt into the floorboards or something. It just wasn't sure how to feel… this was all so strange, what do I say to something like that? I did however understand him in some ways as well. I mean my life has been quite transient since I left Zerca and I guess I understand the whole 'why bother decorating, if I'm never home' sentiment. "I guess I just assumed your house would look different. I mean sure I have never decorated but I never stayed one place long so there was no point. I just… I guess since you've been here so long and you seem the nesting, sentimental type… I mean I don't know you, but that's the vibe I'm getting anyways, so I guess I was a little thrown off by the sparseness," I explained once I noticed him looking at me with thinly veiled curiosity.

"

This is my second night here and I have finally figured out his schedule… or at least have an idea of it. We have not bonded yet and I keep my hands away from his eyes as much as possible. I hate that when I sleep by the time I wake up I'm always all tangled up with him; sometimes my hands aren't even fisted. But now is the time to do it, I've figured out everything. Zayvin is a busy guy and when he sleeps he sleeps soundly whereas I am an utterly restless sleeper (who has unfortunately been sleeping a little too well the past few nights) so it isn't hard for me to squirm out of his grip.

I took a deep breath as I slipped out of the bedroom and went down to my new art studio. It made my heart hurt to know he actually gave me his office, the room he spent most of his time in just because it had the best light in the house. I shook my head of all that and quickly changed out of my sleep clothes and shouldered my bag. I wasn't bothering to take much, I really do not need to get caught… so a sketchpad, clothes, and a couple of sentimental objects. I slipped out the door that opened to the backyard, walked out the gate, and down the street.

It was way too late for me to find a ship that could take me… somewhere… I'm still not sure where I am going to go. Obviously not back to Earth… that would be way too risky. Where would he least expect me to ever go? Sensaforia has far too much traffic and is a bit too much of a tourist trap… I know… Jeskara… I'll go to Jokadi and never ever leave the city. It's perfect… I'll be able to blend in easy and nobody in their right mind would run away to Jeskara of all places. I continued down the streets making my way to the touristy centre. It took a while but I finally got there and was able to get to some information… machine things and looked up the name of a person I thought I would never see again.

When I finally got to the little house in the suburbs I was anything but tired, but knew I should be. I knocked on the door trying hard not to shake in my shoes. After a while a person vaguely resembling the boy I used to know opened the door looking half asleep and asked, "Do you know what time it is?"

"Uhm… no, but it is a rather late hour. I'm sorry for waking you… but I had nowhere else to go and it isn't like I'm on Zerca everyday," I said trying to sound casual and confident.

It took a few moments, he rubbed his eyes, and then a look of recognition crossed his face. Then in a quiet and uncertain tone he asked, "Mikal?"

"Yeah Teague it's me," I replied in the same quiet tone. Before I could even think about how strange it was to be seeing him again he pulled me into a hug. I hugged him tightly back and thought of the last day I saw him.

I was twelve and he was eight… I was selfish I suppose and decided to stay on Earth… I could've easily just travelled the universe when I got a bit older… but I was stubborn. We where only going to live on Earth for six months. My life-bearer was from Earth and while he was from Finland, it was always one of his life long dreams to live in New York City so we lived there for a little while. But I wanted to stay longer so… I stubbornly stayed behind and basically stranded myself. He was so different looking compared to now… but then again so am I. Sure I was skinny and scraggly like now… but I'm really tall for a bearer despite being rather undersized as a kit. Teague… he looks so different, his hair is darker now then it was when we were kits… but it is still nowhere near a dark of red as mine. He is also now absolutely massive in size; he's probably just as big as our giver was. "What are you doing here?" he asked shutting the door behind us as we stood in the foyer.

"I… it's a long story… can we sit down and I'll explain from the beginning?" I asked pulling off my shoes.

"Just answer this, how long are you here for?"

"Not long," I admitted feeling a pang of guilt.

"Okay," he said with a heavy sigh and motioned me to sit down in the comfortable looking living room before he disappeared up a staircase. I sat down and shakily pulled my knees up to my chest… how to explain this… do I tell the truth? I mean… my brother is probably one of those sentimentalists like everyone seems to be… but he is family and it isn't like he'd betray me or something. I just have to make Zayvin out to be evil… evil as evil gets and just gloss over details… or maybe just be vague all together… say I got stranded and I have to stay the night, wanted to visit, and then I'll leave in the morning… yes perfect. A merchant ship broke down on Earth I hitched a ride with them… I'm just passing through and wanted to stop by before I leave again and I'll come visit soon… perfect. As soon as I had my plan all worked out my brother entered the living room with a much smaller man with very messy silvery-green-blonde hair. I couldn't pinpoint his species… he had to be a mutt of some kind but he was absolutely ethereal looking with a small build, pale tinted skin, and an interesting face, but it was his eyes that really stood out; they where the brightest most beautiful shade of green I had ever seen. "Mikal this is my mate Millex," he said introducing the two of us.

"Nice to meet you," I said with a little wave.

"You as well," he said in a soft voice and it was then that I noticed he was pregnant and realized that I obviously have nephews.

"How long have you been mated?" I asked.

"Three cycles," Teague replied with a fond smile.

"Well… I guess I should explain why I'm here. I've been stuck on Earth for a long time… and I'd like to apologize for abandoning you on Zerca like that and for being so stubborn and selfish… it didn't serve either of us any good. However the stars and luck where on my side when a merchant ship broke down on Earth and was able to give me a ride. I managed to make my way back to Zerca and decided to come see you… I am sorry for the terrible hour but these things happen."

"How long are you staying?" Millex asked.

"Not long… I am mostly just passing by right now. I have no home at the moment so I'm going to find a planet to live on and then once I have my life in order I'll most likely come back for a proper visit," I replied.

"Aren't you going to stay on Zerca and try and find your mate?" my brother asked confusion marring his features.

I immediately banished all thoughts of Zayvin to the farthest recesses of my mind and calmly replied, "I don't think so. There's a big universe out there to be discovered and the chances of finding a mate are small so I'm just going to have the more realistic goal of exploring as much of the universe as I can."

Teague gave me a sad smile almost as if he pitied me and I wanted to smack it off his face. "Where are you going to go?"

I didn't want to tell him the truth, as he'd probably worry so I replied with a grin, "Sensaforia I'm looking forward to the warmth. Besides I promise to be back again, I'm swearing off back water planets from now on."

"Good decision," he said with a smile. "It's nice to see you but we should probably get to bed. Here you can sleep in the guest room and we can catch up in the morning." He showed me to a room on the main floor and I immediately passed out in the comfortable bed.

Come morning I awoke feeling refreshed and a bit guilty. I hope Zayvin isn't freaking out too much and gets over this nonsense soon. Stretching I quickly changed and made my down a hallway I heard a noise coming from. I found myself in a kitchen where my brother, Millex, and a little kit with the same silvery-blonde hair as his bearer except with a red tint where sitting around a table eating breakfast. "You're awake," Teague said cheerfully.

"Morning," I replied with a smile as I sat down in an empty chair.

"Mikal this is our kit Leda, Leda this is your Uncle Mikal," Millex explained to the small kit who was eagerly munching some kind of scone or something. He shyly glanced at me with wide eyes and I gave him a small wave.

"Nice to meet you," I replied awkwardly. "So Teague what have you been up to the past fifteen years?" I tried to ask casually.

"What a great question," he replied sarcastically. "What do you want to know specifically? As soon as I came back to Zerca I lived with our life-givers life-givers, then once I was old enough I got into the craft trade and now build furniture… and that is the summarized version. How did you ever survive on Earth?"

"It wasn't easy… I was immediately found by the people in charge. There is no Shodan… just a disorganized mess of people with varying amounts of power fighting over various things. They have an organization for children, which took me, as I was not an adult by Earth standards. I lived with different Earthlings until I was eighteen cycles… while some treated me well most in fact did not as the degenerates of society seem to exploit that organization. After that I just… travelled around… I'm a painter and artist now. I went to school for it for a while but dropped out once I learned all I could from it. That's really all that has happened so far. Life certainly hasn't been easy but it has been rather interesting and absurd," I tried to explain in a casual tone.

"Are you happy?" Millex asked.

"Could be happier I suppose, but I have a lot of optimism for the future."

"Good," he replied with a smile.

The morning continued on like that, we ate breakfast, chatted about our lives, and after some prodding Leda shyly spoke about himself. It felt nice to see my brother again and while awkward at first we finally got back into the rhythms of before and where back to teasing one another and things felt like they used to. Millex was also really laid-back and easy to get along with which was nice. "You look so strange," Teague laughed giving me a jab in the ribs as we sat on the couch.

"Ow! I do not," I grumbled rubbing my side.

"Mikal you where the smallest kit ever, you where taken to the healers a couple of times even because everyone thought you where so undersized and now look at you tall enough to be mistaken for a giver."

I immediately laughed at that, "I'm a bit thin to be mistaken for a giver."

I was showing Leda how to draw three-dimensional shapes and add shadow and credibility to regular flat objects (mostly various shapes) when there was a loud knocking on the door. I ignored it as while I nearly jumped out of my skin the first time I heard a knocking I had to remember I was in the suburbs of Scrijx Citi and my brother and his mate are apparently pretty popular around the neighbourhood. "Mikal," I heard a familiar voice coldly say from behind me and the hairs on my neck immediately stood on end.

"Whose that?" Leda asked looking over his shoulder with wide eyes and simultaneously inching closer to me.

"It's okay Leda he's an old friend, you keep drawing while we go talk and then when we're done you can show me your pictures okay?"

"Okay," he said with a nod before focusing on the paper. I got up and Zayvin followed me to the kitchen.

"Care to explain to me why you're here?" he asked fixing a hard glare to me.

"Am I not allowed to see my brother?" I asked feigning shock.

"Of course you can see your brother," he said with a scowl. "But I feel I have a right to know why you decided to see him in the middle of the night and didn't tell me where you were going."

"What's going on?" Teague asked warily from the doorway. "Who is this?"

"I'm his mate," Zayvin practically growled pinning me with a dark look.

I immediately scoffed and replied, "I have no mate."

"This is your mate?" Teague asked cautiously staring me in the eyes and willing me not to lie through my teeth.

But if I learned anything on Earth it was this… stick to your story no matter what. "No he isn't. Honestly, who would actually run away from their mate?" I said with a laugh trying to make it seem like the situation wasn't that big of a deal. "I'm sorry about this Teague but this man honestly isn't my mate… he's crazy and delusional and is somehow convinced I'm his mate… when really there is nothing between us."

"How did this happen Mikal?" he asked warily.

"I landed on Zerca and I met him almost immediately at some little café right by the port… and he has followed me around ever since. That's why it took me so long to get here, I had to lose him as I didn't want to lead him to your house."

Zayvin stood there gaping at me… I'm not sure what at, either the skill with which I was lying, the story I was spewing out, or a combination of the two. "How can you tell such terrible lies?" he asked his voice full of hurt. "Am I really that horrible to be mated to that you would sooner run off in the middle of the night and then tell lie after lie to those you love if it means getting away from me?"

I gaped at him and immediately the guilt from earlier came washing back… but then his self-indulgent words sunk in. "Ugh not everything is all about you! Seriously what is your problem Mr. Inferiority Complex? This not wanting to mate thing has nothing to do with you, why can't you get that through your thick skull? I don't want to be on Zerca! I don't want kits! And I certainty do not want to be tied down!" I exclaimed frustration emanating from my being.

"He's telling the truth?" Teague said quietly looking at me with some kind of mix of shock and shame. "Mikal is this man your destined mate yes or no?" He asked in an authoritative tone. "Yes or no Mikal," he said impatiently as we stood there in silence.

"Yes," I mumbled glaring at Teague with as much hatred as I could muster.

Teague sighed heavily then said, "come on lets discuss this." Soon we where sitting down at the table about to have a conversation that I wanted nothing to do with. "I want this to be explained to me from the beginning, no more lies," he sent me a pointed look, "no insulting one another, no interrupting one another, and no shouting of any type. You can start Zayvin and then Mikal you can tell your side."

"Well I run a shipping company so I am constantly researching quicker routes to various locations and looking for business opportunities. When I heard of Earth I was intrigued and ended up taking a detour there. I… entered a bar one night and found Mikal… he acknowledged our bond then said he'd meet me at the door when he was finished wrapping things up… he ended up running away out the back door and I had to track him down. When I finally found his house his things where packed up as if he was in the process of leaving the city and I decided then and there to bring him to Zerca with me. Since then we have barely spoken and mostly just argue and now… now he has decided to run away again."

"Now Mikal you can say your side of the story."

"Look all of that may technically be true," I said with an impatient huff. "But I just don't want to be mated right now. I'm too young for it… I can't have a kit yet; I've barely even accomplished anything… it's just way too early for me to be settling down. I just really don't see the big deal with me leaving, I mean I'll probably be back eventually."

"Too young?" Teague asked with a raised eyebrow. "You are twenty eight cycles."

"Look… I'm just not ready. You may have been ready for kits at barely twenty cycles… but I'm not and I really do not see why we are having this conversation. I am an adult and I am capable of making my own decisions. It was nice to see you again Teague but I'm out of here, see you around Zayvin," I said with barely a nod of acknowledgement before I stood up and started to leave the room.

"Sit down Mikal, you can't just run away every time you encounter a problem."

"Want to bet?" I asked darkly. "I'm an adult okay… I'm not some little kit, so mind your own fucking business."

He angrily rolled his eyes, "you're at my house and you dragged your chaos over here."

I didn't bother to dignify that with a response and just made my way to the living room. "It was nice to meet you Millex but I must be leaving," I said shouldering my bag. "Goodbye Leda I have to go now."

"Aren't you going to see my pictures?" he asked sadly.

I wanted a speedy exit but I couldn't say no to him so suppressing the sigh that wanted to escape me I said, "okay show me them." He spent the next couple of minutes showing me the shapes, I asked to keep the picture which made him really excited, gave him a quick hug, and swiftly made my way out the front door… it wasn't until I was halfway down the sidewalk that I realized Zayvin was following me. "Can't you just fuck off?" I screamed spinning on my heel and fixing him with a glare.

"You're my mate," he snarled angrily.

"Leave me alone I'm not your fucking mate!" He immediately wrapped his arms harshly around me and I started to thrash. I almost immediately lost my balance when we ended up transported back to the house. "Let go of me," I screamed as I stomped on his foot. I then went to punch him but he caught my wrist then grabbed my other arm and shoved me into a wall with his weight pushing heavily against me. I tried to struggle against him but it was nearly impossible with how much strength he had on me.

"You're mine," he growled possessively into my ear. He then forced his lips against mine in one of the worst kisses I've ever experienced. It was overly rough and dominate and just to prove a point. He harshly bit my lip when I refused entrance to my mouth and it seemed every time I squirmed against him in an attempt to get away he pressed harder against me. When he finally let my lips free he held both my wrists in one hand, lowered them down from the wall, and started to force my hand out of a fist. I started panicking at what he was doing and before the whimpers I was trying to contain could escape he grasped his hand with mine. I couldn't even begin to describe what it felt to hold his hand in mine… it just felt so… amazing. My heart was beating out of its chest… and I just had never felt more euphoric, safe, or loved in my entire life. I quickly pulled my hand out of his grasp when the metallic taste of blood hit my tongue. As soon as my hand was free it still tingled but all of those delusions of happiness seemed to wash away. Immediately a thought struck me… if he took my hand and bonded us by force what else is he going to do by force? I couldn't even make eye contact I was so terrified so I just ran into the recesses of the house knowing I couldn't escape right now. I finally found myself in a closet in some bedroom in the basement and I was trying to control the tears and kit-like whimpers that escaped my lips.

Zayvin would never have the vernacular to articulate just how worried he was when Mikal never came to bed and none of his things seemed to be missing. Words would never be able to describe just how hurt he felt when upon closer inspection it was obvious that Mikal ran away. He would never ever be able to describe just how angry he was when he dragged Mikal from his brother's only to have hurtful word after word and denial after denial of their relationship. But most of all he would never be able to describe how amazing he felt when he held Mikal's hand and how the minute he ripped his hand free everything happening around him became perfectly clear. Zayvin couldn't help but gape at what he had just done. Blood smeared his mate's lips like some sort of macabre lipstick. The fear radiating off of his Mikal made him step back in shock and just stare as he scurried away. Zayvin couldn't believe he had just done something like that to his mate and set out in search of him; as it would do him no good to leave Mikal in this state. He finally found him in a closet downstairs and never hated himself more than at the moment when he realized he was the cause of the kit-like whimpers coming from behind the closet door.

I held my breath and tried to sit perfectly still when the closet door started to open. "Mikal?" Zayvin asked cautiously. I wished more than anything my tears would stop and the shakes wracking my body would cease. "Are you okay?" he asked quietly further opening the door and sitting down in the closet about as far away from me as he could get in such a cramped space. It was too close however so I scurried out as quickly as possible and before I could even get out of the bedroom he had wrapped me in his arms from behind. "You don't have to run," he said in what he thought was a soothing voice. But it instead just sounded creepily calm and menacing to me.

I felt absolutely terrified as he held his strong arms around me and I started to squirm. "Let go, let go," I mumbled pathetically trying to keep my whimpers under control. He immediately let me go but followed me as I ran away; I did however manage to lock myself in the bathroom in… his bedroom, which put a bit of space between us. I couldn't stop hyperventilating as I sat in front of the door in some feeble attempt to stop him from getting in should the lock fail.

"Mikal, Mikal, let me in," he said knocking repeatedly on the door.

"Go away," I yelled through the door.

"Mikal… I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that," he said before I heard him sit down against the door as well. "Please Mikal, I'm sorry," he pleaded. "Mikal I'm sorry I didn't mean to get so carried away. I just… I was so angry when you kept denying me… I am sorry, it won't happen again Mikal… I'm so sorry." This kept up for a while, he would knock on the door a lot and apologize profusely. He sounded so wretched and repentant that I actually considered opening the door… until I felt how sore my lip still was. Once it had been silent for a long time (to the point it was starting to get dark and I couldn't ignore my hunger any longer) I decided it was safe to leave the room. I was shocked however to open the door only to have Zayvin fall over from his spot leaning against the door. "Mikal!" he exclaimed standing up and hugging me tightly before I could even comprehend what was going on. "I'm so sorry. I can't believe I made you cry, please forgive me Mikal, I'm so so sorry."

"Let go of me," I said as coldly as I could muster.

He let me go and then warily asked, "Mikal are you okay?"

"No I'm not ohfuckingkay asshole and no I do not accept your bullshit apologies. Just… just leave me alone," I said sounding angry in the beginning but it faded pretty quickly. I ignored him as he continued to deliver insincere apologies… fuck if he was truly sorry he wouldn't act like a sociopath and if he thinks I'll tell him 'its okay' just so he can sleep tonight then he is sadly mistaken. I went downstairs and grabbed myself something to eat and pointedly ignored Zayvin as he continued to follow me and go on and on about how sorry he was, it was to the point I almost wanted to forgive him just to get him to shut up… almost.

I hated how dictatorial Zayvin was… I mean I couldn't even leave the yard without being escorted! And even then I was barred from doing anything of any fun. I was going stir crazy! I couldn't believe how much I took the little freedoms for granted. I mean if I wanted to I could just go out and drink in a café… now its like I have to run my comings and goings. I understand it partially as I smell something fierce when it comes to pheromones… but come on I need to do… something.

It was then that I decided to check out the nightlife of Scrijx Citi. "Zayvin," I said entering his messy office in the basement.

"Yes?" He asked warily. I still deny him or insult him at every turn so we just… keep away from one another.

"I am going to go to Teague and Millex's," I said with a shrug.

"When will you be back?" he asked in a concerned tone.

"Ugh, chill out. I didn't even have to tell you in the first place so just be fucking grateful," I said with a scoff before leaving. I know the only reason he wasn't putting up a fuss was how guilty he still felt about the other day… dick head serves him right.

I was banging on Teague's door impatience being the only emotion I was capable of. I want to drink, I want to party, I want to dance, I want to fight, I want to burn this city down. "Mikal?" he said surprise evident in his tone.

"Is that the proper way to greet your brother? No of course not. Now this time have a bit more enthusiasm. I have come to rescue you from the doldrums of your sickeningly domestic life," I said with a big grin.

"What are you going on about?" he asked warily motioning for me to come inside.

"Come on we haven't ever had a chance to party together and yes I know you're mated and have kits and all that… but come on we have never partied together so get Millex to watch Leda and lets go," I explained excitedly.

"What? You want to go partying?" he asked me as if he couldn't believe I actually suggested something so… ridiculous.

"Uh… obviously. I mean you don't have to come it isn't that big of a deal I was just extending the invitation you know? I mean Millex can come as well if you can find somebody to watch Leda I just assumed he wouldn't want to what with being knocked up and all."

With a heavy sigh as if he finally fully caught on he said, "You're serious aren't you."

"Fuck yeah!" I said with a fist to the air.

"Mikal… don't be foolish, you do not want to go to drinking establishments smelling the way you do."

"Oh but that is where you're wrong. Don't you realize that we will get free drinks like it's going out of style. Not to mention I did this type of thing on Earth all the time and I'm not about to stop just because I'm on Zerca."

"Mikal that is terrible logic and a terrible outlook to have. Ugh… I'm going to have to go aren't I just to keep you out of trouble?" He said in a resigned tone before going into the recesses of the house and coming back a couple of moments later. "Millex agreed to watch Leda but thinks it's a bad idea," he said as he pulled on some boots.

An hour later we where sitting at a table and thankfully the bartender was a pretty bearer who didn't hit on me like everyone else around me. Some people didn't overtly hit on me but had flirty undertones to their words. Some givers went on about how strange I look… yeah I get it I'm as tall as a short giver. It was… tedious… I really don't understand how girls do it. Fuck now I get why they seem to head to gay bars in droves. "Ugh can we go somewhere I will not be hit on?" I groaned before drinking back the strong purple coloured wine.

"This was your idea," Teague said with an eye roll.

"Aren't there any bars without givers?" I asked.

"I don't know… I don't exactly fit into that demographic. Besides bars are mostly frequented by people searching for mistresses."

"Come fucking on! You cannot be serious. Even on Earth bars aren't just for getting fucked. Don't get me wrong many are but there has to be some here just dedicated to music and revelry."

"There are and despite what it's dedicated to you're still unclaimed," he said with a shrug before turning back to his drink.

"You're so useless, I'm going to go ask the bartender."

"Good luck," he said with a snicker.

"Hey, strange question but do you know anywhere I could go without getting hit on?" I asked the bartender sweetly whilst ignoring the eyes so clearly following my movements.

"With the way you smell sweetie you're not going to find peace anywhere. You should just go home to your mate," he said with an apologetic smile.

"You're fucking useless," I spat before turning on my heel. I decided then and there that Teague and I needed to go somewhere else.

This place wasn't as bad… I was still hit on like you wouldn't believe (which at first feeds the ego, but you can only hear the drunken slur of "you're beautiful" so many times before you roll your eyes). But there where a lot of bearers and mated couples to dilute it down so this place wasn't so bad. I was however getting steadily drunker and drunker and as I squinted out at the crowd dancing, drinking, and conversing all I could think was… this is fucking strange. It feels strange to be on Zerca… it doesn't even really feel like home anymore. Sure I missed the crisp clean feel of Zercan air in my lungs (especially when you compare it to polluted Earth air) but it still didn't feel… right to be back on Zerca. "Zerca fucking sucks," I slurred before chugging back my drink. Drinks on Zerca affect me way more than on Earth. I used to be a real heavy weight when it came to drinking (which is terrible when you're as poor as I am) yet on Zerca I feel like a fourteen year old girl who gets drunk off of two coolers.

"What are you going on about?" a slightly tipsy Teague asked.

"I miss Earth," I replied with a pout.

Teague immediately started laughing as if I had told the funniest joke in the world until he took notice of the expression on my face. "You're serious? Mikal… don't be stupid. I can remember that time we spent on Earth. It was dirty, smelly, the weather was terrible, and Earthens are a little… strange."

"Earthlings and that's my home you're talking about. But like that's my point you know? Zerca is so… perfect… it's so pretty… it's so… fake, I mean it's so pre-contrived. I want chaos, I want something seedy, I want something sketchy, I want graffiti, I want drug dealers copping on the street, and prostitutes waiting to shank me," I bemoaned going on and on.

"What?" Teague said trying to comprehend my words.

"It's just… when you looked at that you seen the surface and then you looked away. But I was immersed… I just… It's like this quote by this Earth writer that I remember. 'For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled' you know? I mean how can you appreciate the good without the bad? How can you have light without the dark?" I rambled on thinking I sounded vaguely philosophical although I probably just sounded deranged.

With a heavy sigh Teague gave me a sad smile and replied, "In a strange way I sort of understand. I know you aren't conventional Mikal… you never have been. You've always found beauty in the strange and absurd and while I could personally never agree with many of your… ideals and ideas I can understand why you see the merit behind them."

Every drink on Zerca seems stronger than its Earth counterpart, the wine made me cough on my first sip, the ale obliterated my fine motor skills, and I've only had one drink that contained hard liquor… so far. I think I had the Zerca equalivent to a martini… or some drink similar. It was strong as fuck, in a classy glass, and had a vaguely sweet undertone to it. The music seemed so strange… I recognized some of the instruments but I couldn't recognize the music nor could I really recognize the influence of it… I felt so detached from culture to be honest. It was kind of like when I would go on vacation to these exotic destinations… everything was so different and strange and yet there was a vague undertone of familiarity. "Zerca is strange," I slurred.

"How so?" Teague asked with a raised eyebrow.

"It's like… like the time I did mushrooms and went to a movie and the movie was parodying and making fun of other movies that came out earlier in the year and the entire time I watched it all I could think was this is so unfamiliar but at the same time vaguely familiar."

"What? What are mushrooms?"

"Like… you know what a mushroom is, they're food they grow in the forest. But like when you eat these ones they make you hallucinate."

"Why would you ever want to hallucinate?"

"Why wouldn't you? I've taken a lot of drugs that make you hallucinate, I've even stayed awake a long time on purpose just so I could hallucinate… it's crazy and so interesting."

"You're crazy," Teague said laughing.

"Some may never live, but the crazy never die." That comment made Teague laugh hysterically; I honestly thought he'd have a hernia. "It wasn't that funny," I said with a slur staring at him in wonder. He was incapable of responding to me and then I heard a song that sounded vaguely familiar to something I recognized from Earth. It wasn't the same but it seemed kind of indie-pop and energetic and made me want to dance without being obnoxious and electronic. I never dance but ply me with drinks and good music and I'll attempt it even though I'm terrible. "Come on let's dance," I slurred clutching my drink tightly.

Teague grabbed his drink and we made our way to the dance floor area. I was doing some kind of drunken twist-esque thing. "You dance so strange," Teague snickered dancing similarly to everyone else… and their dancing just looked strange as strange can get to me.

I was enjoying myself thoroughly when I felt hands grab onto my hips. A growl escaped my lips and I whipped quickly around on my unsteady feet. "Fuck off," I growled glaring at the large giver who had an arrogant smile on his face.

"That's no way to act," he said tightening his grip on me.

Glaring at him fiercely I chugged back what little was left of my drink and with a malicious smirk I smashed the bottle over his head; it resembled a beer bottle in shape and smashed spectacularly. His hands immediately left my hips and I punched him as hard as I could in the nose and then using my other fist I punched him in the jaw. I felt exhilarated… I felt so alive; it's impossible to get in a real fistfight on Earth as I could always easily win them. But for once I'm not guaranteed to win and it feels great.

"What in Blanserta is wrong with you?" the giver who was now covered in blood practically roared and before I could retort Teague grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the bar and down the street; once we turned the corner we finally stopped running.

"That was… insane," Teague said shaking his head in disbelief. "Just as I'm about to intervene… you did something I never thought I would ever see. How in the world did you ever learn to throw a punch like that?"

"I tried to pick a lot of fights on Earth… I used to be so angry and it made me feel better even though nobody was ever a match for me. I also had a punching bag for a while," I replied with a shrug as we made our way down the streets.

"Okay well… I'm taking you home… tonight has been crazy enough," he said with a grin.

"What! No!" I screeched indignantly. "The night is still young!"

"You've drank, you've danced, you've fought, all you haven't done is puke; we've had a full night."

"Come on one last drink!"

"Fine," he replied with an eye roll.

I sullenly followed him once we where done drinking and he actually waited until Zayvin opened the door before he left me, which I couldn't decide if it made me feel annoyed at him thinking I'd be in some sort of danger alone or happy that he cared. "Do you have any idea what time it is?" Zayvin asked in an annoyed tone.

"Don't be a buzzkill," I slurred and stumbled inside.

"How much did you drink?" he asked warily.

"Not enough," I replied with a drunken giggle.

Zayvin let loose a heavy sigh, the kind of sigh you make when you realize you're sober and stuck taking care of someone obnoxiously drunk. "Come on lets get you some water then you can go to bed," he said guiding me to the kitchen.

I greedily drank back the water then after a bit of coaxing I made my way upstairs and fought the urge to jump on the bed. I languidly lay on the bed sipping my second glass of water when Zayvin asked, "So what did you do tonight?"

"Drank, danced, got in a fight, it was awesome," I replied with a huge grin on my face.

"You got in a fight?" he asked in a worried tone.

"Fuck yeah son. Smashed a bottle on the guys head and punched him a couple of times… Teague dragged me off before it could really get underway though," I said fighting the urge to pout. "I so could've taken him too, he wasn't much taller than me."

"You tried to fight a giver? Are you okay are you alright?" he asked grabbing my face in his hands. Rather than squirm as I usually would I instead leaned into his touch.

"Don't be silly I'm hard fucking core. I can hold myself in a fight, I used to pick them a lot when I was a kit," I explained.

"You used to pick fights?" he said with a small laugh.

"I used to be really angry," I answered with a shrug.

"You still seem kind of angry," he said in a cautious tone as if he was afraid of offending me or something.

I shrugged and replied, "You'd probably be pretty angry too if nothing in your life ever worked out for you."

"What do you mean?"

I shrugged and slurred, "my life has been a series of one disappointment after another."

"Am I a disappointment?" he asked in a quiet and vaguely hurt sounding tone.

"Ugh don't start this," I replied with an eye roll. "Look you're mad sexy, rich, and are kind of nice despite being a dictatorial giver asshole. Any normal bearer would be blessed to have you, but I'm not a normal bearer… I'm like damaged goods… I like was born in the wrong body you know? Or well no maybe not that extreme as I'm comfortable with who I am and all that jazz. But like I can't sit around shoving out kits and be happy with that life, I fucking hate that domestic kind of shit; I don't fit into the cliché bearer mould. And I just I don't want to be here I liked Earth… I mean I'm glad I'm no longer trapped there but life is more complicated and has more layers and it's so much seedier and darker and less idealistic and… wait what was I going on about?"

"That I'm not a disappointment but you still don't want me," he said in a sullen… possibly even angry tone and continued to get ready for bed.

I felt guilty at my words but my thoughts where immediately curbed when he pulled off his shirt and opened the closet. Every time I see him in a state of undress I react like that. My breathing gets all shallow and my heart races and I want him oh so badly. I eyed him hungrily and with inebriated boldness I snuck up behind him and ran my hand down the hard planes of muscle on his back and shoulders. "Mikal what are you doing?" he asked a little breathlessly.

"Fuck you're hot," was my only reply as he turned around and I got to look at his magnificent chest. I decided to then explore his abs instead and couldn't fight the grin that hit my face when I heard a sharp intake of breath. I messily placed my lips against his and was soon wrapped up in his strong arms. He kissed back eagerly and I had to fight the moan that tried to escape me when he nibbled on my lips.

It was only when I tried to start taking off his pants that he broke the kiss, grabbed my hands, and breathlessly said, "Mikal you're drunk."

"So?" I said with a raised eyebrow. Before he could retort I ripped my hands from his and yanked my shirt off. "Are you really going to let that stop you?" I asked trying to keep the slur out of my speech. "I know you want to fuck me."

"I'd never… fuck you as you so crudely put it Mikal, I'd only ever make love to you," he said in a ridiculously serious tone.

I immediately laughed and laughed at his statement and then I realized he really was serious. "I'm not fourteen Zayvin I don't want candles and soft music. I want to be called a whore and have my hair pulled. Actually, no I don't I don't understand the whole getting off on being called degrading things but then again I don't understand most dirty talk, it sounds more awkward than sexy you know?" I rambled while starting to undo my jeans.

When I awoke I felt sore and disgusting. It took me a while to realize what happened last night and as the full ramifications of the night before hit me a wave of nausea enveloped my body and I scurried to the bathroom to puke my guts out. I was shakily clutching the toilet bowl when I felt a hand rub my back and my hair get pulled out of the way. "Go away," I mumbled pathetically despite the fact that Zayvin's presence was extremely soothing. Once I was finished I rinsed my mouth, used a cleansing beam, got dressed and sat outside underneath a tree. I didn't care that the sun was bright and hurt my eyes and aggravated my headache… I just sat there wishing I had never went out the previous night, that I never went out the night I met Zayvin, that I never visited Teague instead of going directly to the port and that I had never ever met Zayvin _.

After a while I finally went inside and grabbed some water and bread; I doubt I'd be able to keep much else down. I was sitting at the table slowly eating when Zayvin came in and asked, "how are you feeling?"

"Please do not speak to me Zayvin. You took advantage of me when I was drunk, I can barely recall last night, and you have just ruined three lives. I do not want to speak to you, I do not want to see you, and I wish I had never met you," I replied in a cold tone without ever sparing him a glance.

"What?" he uttered voice cracking.

"You heard me," I said before leaving the room.

I lay down on the sofa in my studio and placed a hand on my stomach and fought the urge to cry. Why did this have to happen? You know… I think I could handle being with Zayvin and I could handle being with someone till I die… it wouldn't be an ideal situation, but I could handle it… but I know I can't handle this… I'm not equipped for something like this. I can't raise a kit… I just can't do it. It was then that a thought struck me… but would I be able to do it? I mean I've always been staunchly pro-choice… but could I actually go through with it? Tears finally spilled from my eyes and I tried to think of happy things. The smell of fresh cut gramba grass, raindrops on rooftops, sunrises, aurora borealis, croissants… ugh I can't even distract myself. What am I supposed to do? I can't have a kit… it'll never ever survive having me as a bearer. I can't do this… I just can't. I'll… I'll… just do it… like a band aid… do it quickly and get it over with… don't think just do. I took a deep breath, wiped the tears from my face, and kept reminding myself that this is far less cruel in the long run as I made my way to the nearest hospital.

I finally got there and was immediately taken to a private room to speak to a healer. I found it a little weird as I was used to walk in clinics with eight-hour waits… but I suppose it's different here. As soon as I sat down the healer pulled out a pen and asked in a bored tone, "so what's the problem?"

"Uhm… I… I… well I need something… fuck. I need an abortion," I answered my voice filled with uncertainty.

"A what?" he asked clearly confused.

"Uh… how to explain this? Uhm… I'm pregnant and don't want to be… if you catch my drift," I awkwardly replied.

It was then that the healer lost his tone of disinterest and he looked at me strangely and said, "you surely aren't suggesting what I think you're suggesting."

"It sounds terrible… but there are extenuating circumstances… this isn't something I'm undertaking lightly."

"I… I can't do something like that regardless of circumstance. Not only is it illegal, but there is an ethical dilemma to it as well."

"I was raped," I immediately replied as if the oldest trick in the book would actually work on Zerca.

"Your mate raped you?" The healer asked confusion marring his features.

"Uhm… yeah… he's… a deamone and uhm… you know isn't the nicest of guys and I was very reluctant and he was drunk… and I can't raise a kit born of something like that." I wondered if I should bring out the fake tears or not… but I was feeling maudlin enough for a few of them to just come out on their own anyways.

"I'm sorry but I can't do something like that despite what happened. Here I want you to talk to this healer that focuses on mental health. He'll be able to help you with your problem as the problem isn't the kit so much as your feelings concerning him," he explained.

"Yes okay, fine give me the address or whatever," I replied in a weary tone before taking the paper and hightailing it out of there before they decide to throw me in a psych. ward or something.

By the time I got to the house my thoughts had taken a different turn… maybe I could finally finish what I started. I've tried to kill myself before, maybe I should try again… and for real this time none of that cry for help bullshit. I'm over that kind of thing and I honestly haven't thought anything like that in a long time… but I can't just think of myself now. If I raise this kit it is seriously going to be fucked up beyond repair… but can I do that to Zayvin? Maybe… maybe I have the kit and kill myself right afterwards. Then Zayvin has a reason to not just curl up and die once I go through with it. But will I be able to keep myself from getting attached? Fuck… why did my life have to get so complicated? Why can't I go back to my carefree hedonism?

"Where have you been?" Zayvin warily asked as I entered the kitchen where he was sitting down for lunch or something.

"Went for a walk," I awkwardly replied.

"If you don't want to tell me, then don't tell me. But don't lie to me Mikal," he irately replied.

I left the room and went back to my studio… really the only room in this labyrinth of a house that I feel any semblance of comfort in. Fuck it and fuck him, I can't leave the kit with him. He practically raped me… sure I wasn't saying no then but he knew for a fucking fact that if I had all my faculties intact I would have. He's a control freak and a fucking asshole… look at what he did when he lost his temper. I'll just have to do it and stomp out all of my doubts and instincts telling me not to do this. But how do I go about this? I mean last time it was whiskey and pills and spite. The first time it was sleeping pills and sorrow… this time… this time I need to pick something more effective.

Zayvin didn't bother me for the duration of the night and once he was soundly asleep I snuck into his room and made my way to the bathroom. It's a little sketchy to be in this room… but it's the only one with a bathtub. I filled it with warm water and with shaking hands I took off my clothes, picked up the knife, and got in the tub. I took a deep breath and tried to remember everything I was taught in my anatomy classes. I located an artery or vein or something that was quite large around my ankle and followed the blue line for as long as I could digging deep with the knife I nicked from the kitchen, I did the same for my other leg and watched in morbid fascination as streams of pink started to mar the water. With unsteady hands I attacked my right arm first as it'll have the most dexterity regardless of blood gushing out. Finally with blood running down my arm I made deep cuts on my left arm then set the knife on the tubs edge. It felt strange to watch the blood trickle into the water making it progressively darker as the minutes rolled by, I didn't have to watch long however as I could start to feel myself lapse in and out of consciousness; the sensation was rather reminiscent of greying out.

When I awoke I wondered if this was the afterlife until I registered the sharp smell of antiseptic and the bright light assaulting my sensitive eyes. My eyes blearily adjusted and it became ever so clear that I was in a hospital. I lifted up one of my arms and was surprised to see no bandages, no scars, nothing… then I remembered I was on Zerca and things are much different here.

"You're awake," Zayvin said rushing from the other side of the room.

"Unfortunately," I replied with a heavy sigh.

"Why did you do it Mikal, why?" he asked sounding oh so wretched.

"It doesn't matter."

"Yes it does Mikal you could've killed our kit!" he exclaimed as if something inside of him snapped. "What you did was beyond selfish! You didn't just try to kill yourself you tried to kill our kit and me as well. What in Blanserta is wrong with you?"

I didn't bother answering him; it didn't matter anyways. Within moments a healer came in hearing all the commotion, consulted an AI, and told me I was free to go home. As soon as we got back I meandered to my studio and sat on the couch hugging my knees and fighting the urge to cry. Before I could even start my pity party Zayvin stormed in to further berate me. "I'm not finished speaking with you Mikal," he practically yelled his hands balled in fists and his face starting to get red from anger. "What is wrong with you?" he was definitely yelling now, "answer me when I speak to you!" It was then that I couldn't hold it in anymore and I started to cry and small whimpers escaped my lips. "I'm not falling for your tears this time Mikal," he coldly said and I barely even registered the words. Why oh why did I have to fail? A few moments later I heard a sigh of resignation and felt weight next to me. An arm tried to wrap itself around me but I immediately tensed and tried to move away. Zayvin was having none of that and instead pulled me onto his lap and wrapped both arms around me. I know I shouldn't have… I know I'm supposed to hate him but I couldn't help hugging him tightly and crying into his shoulder. It wasn't until my tears finally ceased that he tried to speak to me. "Why'd you do it Mikal?" he quietly asked one hand playing with the ends of my hair.

"It doesn't matter," I mumbled pathetically.

"Of course it does… please tell me Mikal… please."

I shook my head then replied, "You'll hate me."

"I could never hate you Mikal… you've already done so many things that I should hate you for and yet I can't. It's impossible to hate you Mikal, you're my mate."

Do I tell him? To explain this I'd have to explain… everything. Can I trust him not to use my past against me? Will he start treating me like some kind of pity case? No… I can't tell him, he'll never understand, he's from perfect little Zerca where nothing ever goes wrong; he's the last person who will ever get it. "I just… I wish I was dead," I replied. "It's not like that's the first time I've ever tried to kill myself."

"What? No… no…. Mikal you can't… don't speak like that."

"It's the truth," I replied with a sniffle. "Just… just stay out of it Zayvin, you'll never get it."

"You don't even give me a chance Mikal, how in the world would you know if I'd understand it or not?"

"We come from different worlds Zayvin… we're from completely different universes. I'll never understand you and you'll never understand me. I just… I can't do this, I don't want to be mated, I don't want kits, I don't want to be alive," I sniffled.

"Don't you want to be happy?" he asked running his fingers through my knotted hair.

It took me a while to answer that question and I decided to honestly answer it knowing he'd never buy my lies. "No… I can't… the best art comes from misery," I replied pathetically.

At my words he immediately stiffened and shoved me off of his lap. I fearfully looked up at him and couldn't help but flinch at the revulsion apparent on his face. He spat with the utmost repugnance, "That's what this has all been about? Your stupid paintings? You're disgusting." And with that he left the room slamming the door hard behind him. I felt horrible because of my words… but they are true. To be a truly great artist you only need a few things, skill, creativity, mental illness, and a bit of natural talent. I had all of them and if I became happy and content I know I'd never make it. But is it worth it? This is my one real shot at happiness and should I really squander it away? What… what the hell am I thinking? Of course I should. My art… it can live forever, but I never will.

It wasn't until a couple hours after Zayvin stormed out that I finally stopped crying and composed myself enough to do… anything. I stretched out some canvas and set it on the easel then grabbed a pencil to start sketching. I spent the next few hours painting before I finally had to take a pause due to the fumes and my ravenous hunger. It felt strange wandering around the house so precariously, it reminded me a lot of some of the foster homes where you'd have to sneak around the kitchen at night to find food. I slipped into the kitchen unnoticed by Zayvin and started to hunt for something to eat. I finally found some bread, cheese, and fruit and took it with me to my studio. I spent the rest of the day holed up in my studio and didn't dare leave even to change into some sleeping clothes.

The next day I stayed in my studio for as long as possible but eventually hunger got the best of me. I snuck out to the kitchen and Zayvin seemed to be busy doing something or another so I was able to eat and then decided to risk it and find some clothes to change in. As soon as I opened the bedroom door I wished I hadn't. Zayvin was lying fully dressed on top of the bed looking pensive or something and immediately raised his head as soon as he heard my presence. I immediately scurried away from the bedroom and back to my studio not even caring about how cowardly I looked.

I didn't see him for the rest of that night and I didn't see him again until the afternoon when I finally left my studio for something to eat. I entered the kitchen and seen him sitting at the table eating and I immediately started to back out. "Stop," he said in an authoritative tone. "We need to talk."

I was apprehensive at best and warily approached him then sat as far away as I could while still being at the table. "Uhm… about what?" I asked trying to keep my voice neutral sounding.

Zayvin let loose a heavy sigh and said, "about everything. This entire relationship has been chaos since the first day we met. We need to clear the air about some issues and figure things out."

"Okay," I awkwardly replied.

"I'm sorry for what I said the other day. I still think the fact that you sabotage your life simply for art is foolish… but I shouldn't have been so harsh about it. Why can't you create happy art instead of miserable art?" he asked clearly not wanting to have this conversation.

"I… I'm so close to being one of the greats… I have it all skill, creativity, talent, and mental illness. But when you look at other artists their best work is when they're at their worst. I mean Edvard Munch was amazing… then he got better and his art it just… it just went downhill. I know I'm never going to live forever so I need to create something that will… it's all consuming… without my art I'm nothing, it's-it's all I am," I quietly explained not exactly sure how to properly articulate my point.

"What is wrong with you Mikal? I know something has to be… to actually think you're that worthless and that some stupid paintings is all you are is… I don't even know what it is, but it isn't normal," he said in a confused and troubled tone. I didn't know how to answer… I'm not even sure if it was a rhetorical question or not so I just kept quiet. After a few moments of silence Zayvin started speaking again, "What do you dream about Mikal?"

"What?" I asked my eyes wide.

"You have nightmares everynight… the only thing that quiets them down is to hold you and even then they don't even fully go away sometimes. What do you dream about? Is that why you're so troubled?" he asked in a cautious tone.

"Mind your own business Zayvin," I replied in a cold tone.

"You're my mate your troubles are my troubles. I feel everything that you feel… we are two parts of the same whole," he explained rattling off the usual mate bullshit I remember being force fed during childhood.

"Stop it, stop saying that," I replied feeling absolutely awkward and trying to keep my anger in check.

"No, it's true and despite how much you deny it your heart calls out to me just as mine does to you," he said in a self-assured tone. "Please Mikal how can I have any hope of ever understanding if you won't let me in?" He spoke the latter sentence in such a wretched tone that you never would have assumed it was preceded by the former self-confident statement.

"Why so you can use my past against me? So you can treat me with disgust? Or worse pity?" I snidely remarked.

"How can you say that?" he asked in a hurt tone.

"Or is it so you can feel better about yourself? You fucking idiotic sentimental asshole! You just want an excuse to blame it all on me because you have failed in everyway as a mate. Do you really want to hear all about how I was beat constantly, or how about how I was raped, or maybe when I was living on the streets and eating out of dumpsters, all the self-destruction and suicide attempts? Does that make you feel better? Does it feel good to have someone to blame for your own pathetic life you worthless fuck?" I was screaming and yelling and early in my speech I stood up the force of my action knocking the chair loudly to the ground. My throat was sore, my face most likely red, I was starting to lose coherency, and I was still seething with rage. I wanted to throw dishes and smash Zayvin's perfect face. I wanted to damage him just as badly as I had been. He was silent after my speech and I was breathing heavily and wanted to start fist fighting… but he just sat their silently gaping at me. I couldn't help but sneer at him with disgust and turned on my heel to storm out of the room. Before I could make it out of the room Zayvin stopped me and enveloped me in his arms. "Let go," I screamed squirming and trying to push him away. I continued yelling obscenities holding onto my rage but eventually I had no more resentment to hold onto and broke down into tears.

I don't know how long we stood there, I don't know how long I cried into his shirt, but eventually my tears started to dry up and I just felt really tired despite having woken up not that long ago. "Are you okay?" he cautiously asked as he continued to play with my hair.

"No," I mumbled, "I want to sleep and never wake up."

He stiffened momentarily and then hugged me tighter, "don't say that… I don't know what I'd do if you were ever gone. When I found you in that bloody bathtub I nearly died inside Mikal, please please don't ever do it again," he practically pleaded.

"I can't promise that," I quietly replied.

We clung to one another just standing there full of sorrow when our pity party was finally interrupted by my stomach growling loudly. We broke apart and I awkwardly started to search for something to eat. "Has your appetite increased much?" Zayvin asked with almost a… fond smile on his face. Which made me feel a little sick considering I tried to have an abortion the other day… and I'm still torn on this whole pregnancy thing.

"Uhm… no, not really. I haven't experienced any symptoms yet… I probably won't for another few days," I replied awkwardly. I don't know how to deal with people… I don't know what I'm supposed to say or do after all that… ugliness. I wanted to get out of the room as fast as possible so I grabbed a piece of fruit, wolfed it down, and practically ran out of the room. I went up to the bedroom to change and get clean and couldn't help but feel a little nauseous when I looked at the bathtub, thankfully however I never actually puked and was able to fall asleep almost immediately.

But maybe… maybe when he finds out the truth he'll agree for us to just put the kit up for adoption so it can at least have a chance. Taking a deep breath and refusing any form of eye contact I started my story. "I guess I have to start at the beginning," I said sniffling a bit. "My bearer was from Earth and always dreamed of living in a certain city there, my giver indulged his dream and so we all moved there… we weren't supposed to stay there long but they where killed and things went downhill from there. I sent Teague back to Zerca on our ship but I was stubborn and selfish and twelve so I stayed behind. But on Earth you're not an adult until eighteen and I was forced to live with these random people. A lot of the people who would take care of the various unwanted and orphaned kits where really nice, but a lot of people would also exploit the system. Some of them beat me, some of them starved me, and… and some of them raped me and that was my life. I spent some time living on the streets; it wasn't so bad… I'd go to forest-esque areas and just remain in my other form. Eventually I was old enough to be away from that life and got an art scholarship, went to school, and then I met… him. I was enamoured and he was the first person to ever really care about me… but it was all lies. He used me, treated me like shit, built me up to knock me down. Eventually I decided to kill myself and I failed at that like everything else I try to do. Life continued like that and then I met another guy who destroyed me and while he wasn't cruel like the other one I still decided to kill myself again, but it was more one of those cry for help look at what you did to me suicides. After that I was forced into counselling and I started getting better but I've never been happy and I never will be. I decided to kill myself this time because… well statistics tell me that the only people who beat kits where beat when they where a kit and the only people who… violate kits where violated when they where a kit and I refuse to subjugate this one to the same treatment. And that's everything, that's my entire fucking story."

"Mikal… oh Mikal…" he said hugging me tighter. "I never knew your past was so dark; your constant rejection makes sense now. I'm so sorry you had to live through that my love. I know that despite your past you would never treat our kit the same way. You're not that kind of person Mikal, I know that you're a good person Mikal." He basically went on like that and despite the fact that I didn't believe his words they did make me feel a bit better.

Eventually Zayvin carried me to bed and I fell asleep clinging to him. When I awoke I was surprised to see Zayvin awake and staring at me with a fond smile. "Good morning," he quietly said playing with my hair.

I mumbled and moaned tired as tired could get and cuddled further in his arms and tried to fall back asleep. It didn't work out very well however so I just rolled over, rubbed my eyes, and replied with "morning."

"How are you feeling?" he asked cautiously.

"Ugh… fine if you stop with the pity, I hate being pitied."

Names:

Giver: Purple eyes, blonde. Zeriz

Bearer: Black hair, dark blue eyes. Kamili

Siblings:

Zayvin 32,

Soyka 29 blonde hair purple eyes bearer, serious, studious, flowery speech, was AI tech till he found mate. Marley: dark blue hair, reddish-orange eyes, large build, , serious, studious, etc. SARCASTIC.

Nehreim 27 giver black hair blue eyes, gruff, warrior, clipped speech, overprotective. Isis: gold eyes, amber gold hair, warm, accommodating, outer-planeter part-fae,

Aravan 24 black hair pink eyes bearer: energetic, chipper, optimistic, friendly, domestic. Leo: dusky skin, dark hooded eyes, dark hair, funny, not serious, friendly.

"Why are we doing this?" I practically whined as we stood in front of the door of a large house outside of the city.

"They're my family," he stated in a blunt tone.

"But I'm not the kind of guy you bring home to the family though."

"You're just a little rough around the edges," he said in an affectionate tone.

"Ugh this is going to be so awkward."

And then the door was knocked upon and a small bearer with messy black hair and bright pink eyes opened the door with a huge grin on his face. "Zayvin," he squealed before practically launching himself at him.

Zayvin laughed and hugged him back then upon separating introduced us. "Mikal this is my youngest brother Aravan, Aravan this is my mate Mikal."

"Hi Mikal nice to meet you," Aravan said excitedly.

"Uhm, yeah nice to meet you as well," I awkwardly replied. We where ushered into a house that could best be described as… warm and homey and all that jazz and I just felt so utterly nervous. We finally came into a living room of some sort and I felt so utterly overwhelmed. There was a bunch of people sitting around talking about various things and I immediately felt all eyes on me as soon as we entered the room.

"Oh Zayvin it's so nice to see you, is this your mate?" an older man with black hair, dark blue eyes, and a small build asked in an excited tone; I immediately deduced that this was his bearer.

"Yeah Beba this is Mikal," he happily replied.

"Oh it's so nice to meet you," he said in such a happy and excited tone I couldn't even figure out if it was real or he was trying to be sarcastic. I was then immediately enveloped in a tight hug and I fought the urge to squirm, thrash, and run. "I'm Kamili Zayvin's bearer," he said once he let me go.

"Nice to meet you," I replied trying to keep any uncertainty out of my voice… ugh this is going to be so awkward. I have only been introduced to one other set of parents in this context back when I was dating this guy on Earth… it consisted of an awkward dinner of people walking on eggshells then exploded near dessert into a huge argument with much fag bashing.

"Come on let me introduce you to everyone," Zayvin said with a huge grin on his face. "Mikal this is my brother Soyka," he motioned to a pretty bearer with blonde hair, "His mate Marley" a guy who had dark blue hair, "this is Nehreim," a large giver with the same black hair as Zayvin, "and I have no idea where everybody else is. Everyone this is my mate Mikal."

There where various murmurs of nice to meet you and things like that and I gave an awkward wave. "So how did you two meet?" Kamili asked with an excited little clap of his hands as I awkwardly sat down next to Zayvin on a tiny sofa.

"I ran into him when I took a little detour on Earth," Zayvin replied.

I heard a gasp by… someone and Kamili's eyes widened to a comical degree. "What where you doing on Earth Mikal?"

"My bearer was from there and I've lived there since I was twelve," I replied.

"Why would you ever want to live on Earth?" Soyka asked and it was then that I realized he had a ridiculously nice voice.

I shrugged then casually said, "It wasn't by choice so much as circumstance. My life-givers died and I got stranded, that's the way she goes I suppose."

"You poor thing," Kamili said in a tone full of so much pity that I just wanted to up and leave.

I had no reply to that to be honest… I don't deal well with pity and sympathy. "Where is everyone else?" Zayvin asked most likely sensing my discomfort.

"Either in the backyard or kitchen," Nehreim answered.

"I'm going to go introduce Mikal to everyone else," he said before grabbing my hand and dragging me down a hall and into the kitchen. Aravan was sitting at a chair around a large table holding a tiny kit in his hands and two other people where in the kitchen one was clearly Aravan's mate and had even messier hair than he did in a dark green colour, the other person was a small bearer who looked to be part Fae or something and had bright gold eyes. "Mikal this is Aravan's mate Leo," he motioned to the messy haired Zercan, "and Isis Nehreim's mate."

"Uh hi," I awkwardly said giving a small wave.

"Nice to meet you," Isis said with a smile.

"

I was a flourish of ideas on what to do with the kit's room… it was too the point I had too many ideas. I finally settled on some colours and tried to ban Zayvin from the room; he worries too much for his own good. I stood on the small ladder and started taping the moulding and such then busted out my big rollers. It felt strange to paint in this manner… I'm used to canvas and fine brushes. I hate how fat I am… it is so… cumbersome and I'm tired all the time. It took a bit of perseverance but I finally had the walls a baby blue colour. Once I was finished with that I started to wash up and Zayvin came in and said, "The room looks beautiful, are you nearly finished?"

"Finished?" I asked dubiously, "Surely you're joking… I've barely even started, I merely laid down the base coat."

"Mikal… don't overexert yourself, you're in a very delicate state right now," he said in his customary worried tone.

I rolled my eyes and repeated myself for probably the billionth time, "Stop worrying Zayvin I know when to take a break and it needs to get done."

"Well… yes but I can't help but think you're stretching yourself a little thin. You've completely repainted our bedroom and already have plans for the rest of the house… and you aren't exactly doing simple things either and on top of it all you refuse any help."

"I don't plan to do any other rooms till the kit is born so stop your worrying," I said in a hopefully reassuring tone before going up and gently kissing him.

Once the paint was dry I started busting out my pencils and drew various swirling patterns and started taping around the outlines. I started with the shimmery silver paint first and filled some swirls in and then once they had dried (this stuff was thankfully fast drying), I started filling in the left over ones with black paint and painted the borders and moulding and stuff. I couldn't believe how sore I was