Happy Post NaNo

Hey folks! It’s that NaNo-y time of year again!

I usually check in somewhere in the Nov/Dec time frame, because my mind has turned to writing. I’ve been thinking of condensing down either this site or Raevenlywrites, just to streamline things. I haven’t made any concrete plans, but its a thought.

In the meantime, post-nano goodness! I did a return to the first nano I ever participated it, and revisted Zig! I don’t have anything really coherent at the moment, but I’m going to put up some excerpts anyways because I love it. So look forward to that in the upcoming weeks and maybe a big website overhaul!


The Ties That Bind

Wow! I can’t believe I last updated this site in AUGUST. This year, huh?

As many of you know, I’ve been coping with 2020 through discovering the joy of fanfiction! I thought it would be a quick, one and done kind of deal, but I’ve been bitten by the fanfic bug, so I thought I’d share The Ties That Bind, a Hawksong fanfic, with you all here. Enjoy!

They say the first of my kind was a woman named Alasdair, a human raised by hawks. She learned the language of the birds, and was gifted with their form.
It is a pretty myth, I admit, but few actually believe it. No record remains of her life.
No record except for the feathers in every avian’s hair, even when otherwise we appear human, and the wings I can grow when I choose–and of course the beautiful golden hawk’s form that is as natural to me as the legs and arms I wear normally.
This myth is one of the stories we hear as children, but it says nothing of reality or the hard lessons we are taught later.
Almost before a child learns to fly, she learns to hate. She learns of war. She learns of the race that calls itself the serpiente. She learns that they are untrustworthy, that they are liars and loyal to no one. She learns to fear the garnet eyes of their royal family even though she will probably never see them.
Of course, I have.
I have seen them look to me in fear and pain, a young prince’s final moments. I have seen them look at me in consideration, a new ruler sizing up the woman who would be his enemy.
And I have seen them beneath me, cushioned on a pillow of down, soft as my own hair.
They taught me how to hate those eyes.
No one taught me how to read them.

Danica Shardae, Tuuli Thea

The Mistari Disa spoke to the entire hall as she concluded, “The best advice I can offer is this: Tie the two royal families. Make the two sides into one. If you are willing to trust each other, and willing to put aside your anger and your hatred, then Zane Cobriana, take Danica Shardae as your mate. Danica Shardae, have Zane Cobriana as your alistair.”

The Disa’s words rang in my head as I dressed for bed, numb and mechanical. The serpiente prince had cried out as vehemently as the rest, as I had sat in shocked silence. The rest had reacted; I had observed. I watched garnet eyes flash with temper, right alongside normally sedate avian gold. But I also watched Zane’s face crumple as the Disa kicked us out, his desperate hand reaching as if he could see the fleeting peace slipping through his fingers even as he struggled to grasp it.

Take Zane Cobriana as your alistair.

I still couldn’t process the idea. “Alistair” was a word that meant so many things to me, none of which matched the fiery cobra. My first alistair, Vasili, had been taken from me too young to truly remember him. And after that, alistair was a word most often followed by the ragged grief of a newly made widow.

It was not a word I could fathom associating with Zane Cobriana.

I realized my hands had been working the same button over and over. I shook myself, trying to return to reality, to keep moving through this latest shock. My composure was shot to hell, and I jumped when a knock sounded at my door.


The familiar voice of long-time personal guard–oh, hell, my best friend, sounded through the door. Rei had been the most outspoken at the Disa’s suggestion, and he hardly sounded calmer now, though at least he was hiding it better. Shaky, and craving the comfort of his familiar presence in this unfamiliar place, I bid him enter.

He paused in the doorway, and I watched his face as a thousand thoughts chased their way behind his eyes. Already I felt better, just seeing him as shaken as I. Rei had been my friend since childhood, and was the only person I ever truly relaxed around. I had seen him in his grief for his father, lost when he was but a boy of twelve. He had seen me cry over countless deaths, until I had grown up enough to no longer let the tears show. We knew the shape of each other’s grief; and we knew how important it was to have somewhere safe to let it out, to be weak. He was weak with me now, and I sank into that uncertainty gratefully.

“Dani,” he breathed, only after the door was closed firmly behind him. “I’m sorry I lost my temper in the hall today. It’s my fault we were banned from further discussion.”

I straightened my shoulders, gathering my strength as he fell apart. We did this in turns, my Rei and me, being rock and crash wave alike.

“I don’t believe you were the only one shouting,” I said lightly, fighting back the shiver that threatened at the memory of those flashing garnet eyes. Zane had been exquisite in his anger, a fine, shimmering thing. It had been beautiful, and terrifying, like a lightning strike. I wrapped my arms around myself, unable to stop my reaction.

Rei mistook the gesture for fear, and I suppose that was in there too, and placed his hands over mine. It was utterly too forward, unspeakably inappropriate, and far from the first time. Rei and I had always been each other’s exceptions, our refuge for strength and comfort. I leaned into him, resting my forehead against his chest. His arms encircled me, fitting around me perfectly through years of habit. I had grown since that first night we’d curled up together, frightened and alone and crying ourselves to sleep, and so had he. But we’d grown together, and his arms still fit around mine as I held myself and tried to keep from falling apart.

This. This was what an alistair should be. This feeling of warmth, of solidness, of safety.

Rei would be my alistair, and I would grow to love him in that way, in time. And even if I never did, friendship was still well worth protecting.




My thoughts flashed on Zane Cobriana again, reaching out for the fleeting dream of piece. He was willing to fight for that dream. And I was cowering in the arms of a man I was too afraid to love, for fear of losing him.

Losing him to the war we were here to stop.

I must have tensed, because Rei pulled back, searching my face.

“Dani… You know I care for you, and I’ll always protect you. The thought of the snake coming anywhere near you…”

His hands flexed on mine, grip growing uncomfortably tight. I pulled away and he let me go, falling back into that careful soldier’s ready. The moment had passed. Time to put our weakness away.

“We’ll find a way, Shardae. I should go, let you sleep. Things will look brighter in the morning.”

I wished I had the courage to ask him to stay, to tell him that a night in his arms would bring me more comfort than the tossing and turning I knew was sure to come. I always slept better in Rei’s arms. But we hadn’t done that in years. And until I was ready to declare formally what the entire court already knew, he would keep his careful distance, expect in rare moments like this.

I closed my eyes, and I wished I could remember how to cry.

I began to undress again, but a flicker of movement caught my eye–

And suddenly I was face to face with garnet.

Zane Cobriana stood in my room, stepping elegantly from shadows and moonlight.

His hand was on my mouth before I could draw breath, the other cradling the back of my head.

“Please, I’m terribly sorry, but we need to talk, and so I need you not to scream.”

I stared at him wide-eyed, eyes lingering on impossible details–the stray strands of hair that fell across his face, the thick, sweeping curve of his stunningly dark lashes–as the world paused between one heartbeat and the next. I was utterly frozen, drowning deep in radiant red, the hypnotic gaze of the Cobriana garnet.

My people told stories of this gaze, the near-demonic power to enchant and posses. I forgot to breathe, drinking down those eyes, edges tight with pain. Pain… Zane Cobriana looked pained. It was barely there, just a tightness around the eyes, but his eyes were all I could see. We were not but a breath apart, and all I could do was gaze into those eyes, and nod.

Zane nodded to, head moving with mine as if uncertain of the motion’s meaning. Finally, he gave one certain shake, mind made up. He sprang away from me, leaping to the far side of the room as he released me, falling into a warrior’s ready. I just stared, mind refusing to process. Zane Cobriana had snuck into my room, and he was crouched and on guard against me.

“What…. what do you want?”

My mouth was cotton dry as I struggled to speak, tongue darting out to wet paper lips. They tingled with the memory of Zane’s fingers, soft and cool, so delicate, but so firm…

“To talk.”

He hedged his words, carefully controlled and guarded, just like his posture. But when I didn’t scream, or really react in any way, he relaxed, pulling himself up into a liquid, wary posture. Those elegant hands disappeared into pockets, but the underlying tension in his shoulder belied the casual gesture. He was a coiled spring, and no amount of leaning carelessly against the wall would disguise that.

I shook myself mentally, trying to come to grips with this fevered dream. No, no dream. In my dreams, I was often painfully aware I was dreaming, and able to pull together my careful avian reserve. Here, in this moonlit room, I was wide awake, and utterly lost.

“Won’t… won’t you sit down?”

Internally, I shrieked at myself. The mortal enemy of me and my kind had broken into my room for goddess knows what purpose, and I was observing social niceties. Won’t you sit down? What was the matter with me?

Zane smirked, a sardonic twist of his sculpted lips. My mind kept focusing on the most inane details–the perfect press of his cupid’s bow, the strong line of his jaw–as he folded himself elegantly onto a cushion. His long legs glittered in the moonlight and for a moment I thought he must have been in armoured form. But no, merely snakeskin pants. My gut filled with ice. The prince of the serpiente in snakeskin pants. Yikes.

“Why thank you, Danica. May I call you Danica?”

Mutely I nodded, sinking down onto my own sleeping pallet. I watched myself in bemused horror, like an out of body nightmare, as I sat and calmly waited for the prince of the serpiente to say his piece.
Then again, compared to his dramatic entrance to my bedroom, this behavior was rather sedate. Formal even. The manners between us seemed almost absurd.

“Then you must call me Zane,” he insisted. I realized this casual chatter was his own nervousness, as my mute manners were mine. Neither of us really knew how to handle one another, and that somehow gave me courage. If he was shaken too, that somehow put us on more even foot.

“Alright… Zane. What did you come to talk about?”

He chuckled, the sound rolling through the dark like velvet. I shivered and wrapped my arms around myself, and madly, half expected Rei to wrap his hands around mind. Had only been moments ago that Rei had been in my room? If Zane had come any sooner–

“We were thrown out of the Mistari hall quite abruptly. And in all likelihood the same will happen tomorrow unless we have a chance to properly discuss their suggestion beforehand,” he said lightly, cutting through my thoughts. They scattered like early morning fog, as thin and ephemeral and impossible to hold onto. If he thought we were going to make any more progress here than we had in the hall, he was sorely mistaken. I couldn’t think my way out of an egg like this. If I’d been able to, I probably would have screamed for my guards by now. Really, it was only the utter bizarreness of the situation that had kept me from doing so already. We never trained for what I should do in the event of a security breach. In the Keep, it was unthinkable. And in the fields, I was quite literally surrounded at all times.

Zane had found my security’s one weak spot.

My blood ran cold.

“Are you here to kill me?”

Zane gave me a tired look and sighed.

“I just said I was here to discuss peace with you, Danica.” He shook his head. “What is even the point. How can they possibly expect us to entertain marriage when you’re too frightened to even talk to me?”

“I’m not–“

I snapped without thinking, pride pricked. He’d broken into my room, assaulted me–of course I was startled, I was also exhausted. At his chagrined look, I realized I’d actually spoken those thoughts aloud.

“Of course. It’s late. I apologize for any offense.”

I laughed. “Offense? Offense? Offensive was the way you acted so utterly repulsed at the mere thought of marrying me. This? I don’t believe there are words to cover what this is.”

Zane snorted. “I suppose that’s fair. If it was only a matter of your lovely body, well.” His eyes flicked up and down my frame, and I felt my cheeks turn scarlet. “And I’ve seen you have no trouble with mine, either.”

At that my face caught fire, enough that surely the room should have been ablaze with light. I clenched my fists in my lap and locked my gaze to the floor, counting slowly to ten. Shouting at him would bring my guards crashing in here for sure. And he had a point; we did need to talk. If we broke into a shouting match tomorrow, the Disa would simply kick us out again.

“Comments like that are also why we could never work,” I said hotly. “An avian alistair defends his pair bond’s virtue, not mocks it.”

“And is your pretty guard captain to be your pair bond, then?”

At that my eyes flew to his in complete shock. “Wha–“

“Oh don’t play coy, pretty Danica. I saw the way he held you. That is not a man unfamiliar with your body.”

I could only stare at him in open mouthed horror. Zane went on as if he didn’t notice.

“It’s not a deal breaker for me. I’m sure you don’t expect me to come to you as pure as the driven snow either. Keep him, for all I care. We both have heirs to produce, after all.”


Again, I must have spoken aloud, because Zane seemed to stop midthought, changing his words at the last moment.

“You’re the only Shardae left,” he said softly. “I at least have my sister and… her child.”

His gaze felt, soft and uncertain.

“Her announcement is what finally convinced me. I’ve already lost one sister with child to a soldier’s knife. I cannot bear to lose another. Irene was so frightened when she told me–“

His voice cut off with emotion. The strangled sound reminded me too much of Gregory.

I rose, not certain what I intended, but it was lost to Zane’s reaction anyways. The serpiente was off the wall and crouched almost before I’d finished standing, and his speed took my breath away. I cried out in spite of myself– and the guards came pouring in.

Zane’s form flashed to lightning black, the shift to his cobra form nigh instantaneous. I threw myself forward, blocking Rei’s movement into the room, shielding him from Zane’s attack. It was utterly stupid, and pure instinct. I threw myself between the man that would be my protector, and the man who would pay lip service to the job in the name of peace.
But Zane did not attack, rather doing on the evasive than the offensive. His liquid form shot between the soliders’ legs, gone and lost in the shadows before anyone could truly tell what had happened.

Rei stared into my eyes, lost in utter bewilderment. Neither of us knew what to make of my throwing myself before him, breaking every rule of our working relationship. I hadn’t acted as his queen. I’d acted as his dearest friend.

Rei reacted as my guard, pushing me aside and scouring the room with his eyes. Checking to make sure the room was secure before checking to be certain I was unhurt. The guards scattered around the room and hall, people spilling out at the noise and ruckus. Zane appeared behind a wall of guards, Mistari standing firm between the avians and serpiente. The tigers ushered us all back into our rooms, effectively placing us all under arrest.

Locking me into the room with Rei.

Weird Dream Thingie

It’s been hard to write lately, with all that’s going on, but when I had a particularly vivid dream the other night, I woke up knowing I had to write it down. This is as-is, stream of consciousness, weird for me cause it’s first person, raw first draft, which I thought might be of interest to you guys. -R

The cafe was full on this busy Friday morning. Everyone excited to be back, the chatter blending together into indistinguishable crowd noise. I can hardly think, let alone hear you, but I do my best to listen anyways.

“Mayan Chocolate,” you repeat again. My smile is lopsided and my gut twists in guilty knots. Right. I’m supposed to be picking out a donut, and you’re doing your best to herd the cats that are my thoughts. I can’t focus, so I tell you that plain chocolate is fine, I’m not that picky. You’re mad, but I chalk it up to the crowd of the tiny space, noisey both with people and too much clutter. The cafe owner got a girlfriend while we were all away, and she’s filled the space with trendy zigzag splashes of color and undernourished houseplants, taking up valuable counterspace. The crowd seeps into the physical space between us, mirroring the distance between where you need my thoughts to be, and where they are.

It doesn’t seem real that I’m back. That the school even opened. Half the student center is blocked off to construction, bright, flimsy ribbons of caution tape, fluttering in the passing of a student body that is anything but. Cautious, that is. It’s like none of us remember that the world split in two only a few short months ago.

I stare out at the raw timbers and saw dust of construction, thoughts everywhere and nowhere. I hear you make an exasperated noise at my elbow, or maybe its over at the end of the shop, placing our order. Maybe we got up too early, trying to squeeze in a quick breakfast together before class. Later, I will realize this was very sweet of you. Later, I will feel awful for not being present and attentive. Right now, I feel a thrill of recognition, and an old bubble of joy I hadn’t realized still lived within me.

Carter still looks every bit the too wealthy witch he and his brothers have always been. I shake my head and laugh at the sky blue hard hat, utterly out of place amongst all the caution yellow and orange. It brings out his eyes, which sparkle like his smile, every bit as fake and plastic and there for his protection as the silly blue hard hat.

I slip through the flow of foot traffic, crossing the hall to the unfinished stair leading down into the construction pit. I can’t believe they managed to save the marble mess, and it looks just as ridiculous and out of place as a Carter boy in chinos and a sky blue hard hat. He’s talking to his aide, ostensibly, but we all know he’s talking to the reporters who aren’t allowed to cross the yellow tape and into the construction zone. Neither am I, but that doesn’t stop me from ducking under it and making my way past the saw horses and into the little bubble of acknowledgement that Carter has put between himself and the world.

That’s nothing new either. Carter always moved through the world in his own little bubble. I’d say he was socially near-sighted, if the Carter brothers were ever allowed to be anything less than perfect.

Moving confidently up behind him, I slip an arm around his shoulder, pressing bodily into him as if he’s any other shifter. He’s not, and we all know it, but I also know that he’ll remember the press of my body, remember it in a place that has nothing to do with conscious recognition.

“Hey, Trent,” I say, low in his ear. I realize too late that such a gesture would come off as unspeakable intimate, more so than the casual arm over his shoulder. At least from the outside. From in here, we both know that touching him means more than any whisper ever could. Lots of people whispered to the Carter boys, looking for slivers of their attention, backing for their own agendas. I whisper only because I’m close. It’s the closeness that comes from intimacy, from summers spent much closer than this, from days before everyone referred to him as simply “Carter”. Back when he was allowed to be the gangly boy I can still see he is.

Beside him, Will jumps, startled as much as Trent was. But Trent’s hand slips around my waist in familiar habit, and Will puts his body between us and the open archway. It’s only students, in theory, but we all know the reporters are anywhere and everywhere Trent is. All eyes are on the notable witches of the city, since the wall fell. Will gives me a look like I ought to remember that. But Trent gives me a look like I’ve thrown him a life raft—or like I’ve shown him the first sunshine I’ve seen in days.

“VC*? Oh my god VC is that you? It so good to see you.”

*Yes VC stands for Vehicle Character I use placeholders like this ALL THE TIME IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP MY FLOW

Howdy Folks

I’ve had a surprising amount of activity on this blog lately (considering I keep thinking of it as “dead” lol) so I thought I’d drop in and say hi, and let you all know where to find a my more active social medias.


I am ALL OVER TUMBLR, both at raevenlywritesAND raevenlywrote, a sideblog I run for writing excerpts only. Those are definitely the best places to keep up with me, though I do still intend to throw some stuff this way every now and again (I just forget, because life)


My Second most active site, @raevenlywrites is mostly tweets about my wife, and #RaevReads (those are especially fun when I’m reading a book featured on the podcast Backlist and Chill, which I highly recommend if you read YA as a teen in the early 2000’s)


And for those of you that didn’t know, last year I started a Patreon page. All posts go live to the public a few days after they go up for Patrons, and this is where I keep the spicier stuff. It also comes with Discord benefits, so if you reeeeeally miss me, check it out!

Three of a Kind: Patreon Sneak Peek

We’re moving!

Working on a short piece exploring the relationship that is the heart of Foxes and Fate: Lia, Gil, and Tybee. Patrons get every post 3 days early (no charge. I only plan to charge when I release the podcast), and everyone else who follows my Patreon (no pledge needed, just follow) gets to see all this wonderful bonus content I plan to keep Patreon exclusive. I’ll still seed all my other blogs with teasers, but I want to centralize all my actual work to one place, and Patreon is it (until they somehow manage to alienate their user base AGAIN. We’ll see). So come follow my Patreon, pledge if you want to (again, I am only charging for the critique work/podcast, not the wip stuff–I want you all to read my stuff :P) and come pester me in its Discord channel! Can’t wait to see you there!

Gil stood in the doorway, one sock foot rubbing awkwardly at his other ankle. Tybee gave him a flat look. It wasn’t a considering look, one of those long, slow, head-to-toe looks that leaves the subject bare before him. No. It was utterly flat, utterly bored, and more than a little annoyed.

“You came to woo our mortal in that?”

Gil looked down at himself, knowing his plain white t-shirt and softly patterned cottony boxers wouldn’t have changed into something wonderful just because Tybee willed it. Maybe in the old days, but not now. Now, Gil plucked at the hem of his shorts, knowing the little blue flowers were ridiculous, but he’d hoped…

He didn’t know what he’d hoped. Here, in Tybee’s bedroom, surrounded by rich tones of blues and greens, silks and satins shining in the low light of a dozen candles– yeah, he looked out of place. Because he was.

Tybee sighed expansively, tossing his head to carelessly send a cascade of inky black hair spilling over his shoulder. Gil’s heart leapt to his throat. Gods, did he have any idea how gorgeous he looked? Of course he did, it was Tybee. But did he have any idea how good he looked to Gil?

Foxes and Fate, before the beginning

The game of cat and mouse was an ancient one, and time had changed it but little. It didnt matter that the cat was technically a fox, or that his mouse was really a bird, though she walked around now on human feet. Her heart still beat sparrow fast, her movements lively and alert as she crossed the dark parking lot. It did her little good. Ancient instincts had dulled with the passage of years, diluted to mere uneasiness as the eyes of her predator stalked her. Tybee smiled, eyes twinkling with mischief and starlight.

The girl flicked a glance over her shoulder, but the fox was nowhere to be seen. His shadow dark pelt was made for the night, and his passage was a hushed echo against the greater murmuring of the night. She sang for him, lusty crickets and whispering grass, covering the rustling of her favorite son. Nighttime was for hunters, sunset a benediction for the hunted.
The jingling of keys was a harsh discord against the nightsong. Tybee’s senses stretched out, tasting the girl’s aura, testing her luck. When a particularly loud frog croaked nearby, she jumped, but did not drop her keys. Not especially ill luck, then. Didnt necessarily mean it was good, though.
Slipping back into his human form, he snuggled into the shadow of a large tree as the girl got into her car. Tybee blew her a kiss, and though he couldnt see it, he imagined her skin shivering as the brush of power marked her. He’d let Fate decide, whether that kiss brought his little bird to him or not. Tybee turned and sauntered off into the woods. There plenty of mice out tonight. Across campus, he thought he heard the strains of a particularly rowdy frat party. Plenty of mice indeed. Fate would watch his little bird, shifting the wind beneath her wings to bring her to him or not. Tonight, he would hunt for fun. Tomorrow, the real game began.

Bo’s Return

Bo brushed their hair back from their eyes, knowing it was a nervous habit but unable to stop themself. It was weird being back in Riverside, after spending so many years abroad finishing their doctorate. Bo had begun to feel like there was literally no place like home.

And make no mistake, this wasn’t it. Not exactly. But this was first place where Bo had been themself, out and open, without anyone to remember them any differently. Now, standing in the receiving line in a light cotton sundress with hair that brushed their shoulders, Bo had the strange feeling of coming home and having overshot it by a few years too many. Bo was dressed for another uncomfortable family dinner, not a reunion with their first y’den.

No one made you do this, they reminded themselves, stepping forward as the line moved. You liked the little yellow flowers on the print. And your hair looks good this way. You can always cut it again if it really makes that much of a difference.

Bo had been cultivating a very deliberate sense of androgyny when they’d moved to Riverside to start their master’s degree. Out from their mother’s thumb for the first time, Bo had taken the freedom and ran with it, exploring sides of themself they’d never been allowed to before. Honestly, they were still exploring now, reaching the edges of “everything else” and approaching feminine with new and eager eyes. Now that it was on their terms. Now that it wasn’t a costume.

The bride and groom looked relaxed and happy as their received their guests, loose with perhaps a few too many toasts, but aglow with genuine love and not just champagne. Bo was happy for them. Deidra had been the hardest nut of all to crack during Bo’s first year of mentoring. Their first assignment as an ei’den had been more than a little sink or swim. They were happy to see that all their first y’den were doing well.

Bo spotted James and Trish lingering near the chocolate fountain, James looking incredible in his deep purple suit. Bo smiled, pleased that he’d retained his daring sense of fashion. And his girlfriend. Trish had been just what James had needed. And apparently still was.

The line moved, Bo along with it, and again their hands ran through their hair. Ugh, they were going to have to cut it, if they couldn’t stop touching it. Messing with it this much was only going to bring back the grease and acne of their years on T.

Step, step, shuffle, fidget. They should have brought a date. But so freshly returned to town, Bo hadn’t had time to look anyone up. Honestly, it had been a miracle that they’d made it back in time for the wedding. They sagged under the weight of jet lag, smile only buoyed by pure determination. It really was good to be back.

At least they were at the front of the receiving line, offering the groom a too-masculine handshake for the outfit their were wearing. Oops. Deidre though, Dei would get a full hug.

“Hey! So glad you could make it!”

Dei’s tone didn’t match her body language, as the pair embraced in that awkward half-hug half-pat that came from misreading signals. Bo smiled, trying to hide their hurt. The look had been a mistake.

“You don’t recognize me, do you?”

Dei frowned, and Bo felt it move through them with the habit of memory, a thousand frowns chased away under their time as her ei’den. They felt James and Decklan both look up, each from different corners of the room. Con hadn’t made it, then. Bo hoped she hadn’t fallen back on old habits.


James was right behind them, looking past Bo to try to find them. They smiled and shook their head, turning to greet James with their famously bad Korean.

James and Dei both stared, knowing what their auras were telling them but brains not catching up. Stomach dropping, Bo pulled their hair back with one hand and threw a peace sign with the other. Eyes widened as both of their former y’den recognized them at last.

Dei threw her arms around them, bashing James across the face with her flowers. James just laughed and clapped Bo on the back in an easy “bro hug”. Bo couldn’t help but laugh as well, delighted that the dress and hair hadn’t done anything to change James’s mind.

“Thude! You look good!”

James gave Bo a quick up and down, appraising but not consuming. Just approving. Bo warmed, and relaxed. Especially at the ridiculous “gender neutral” greeting.

“I didn’t recognize you with the hair,” Dei said, running her fingers through the soft strands of it. “I got so used to the blue.”

Oh. Right. It had been six inches shorter and sporting blue streaks. And they’d been gone for the better part of two years, without much contact.

“I guess I should have RSVP’d, huh?”

Dei snorted and hip checked Bo as she stepped back onto the small dais with her new groom.

“You still got no manners, ei’den,” she said fondly, linking her arm through her husbands. James draped his over Bo’s shoulders.

“C’mon, lets go dip things in fancy chocolate while Dei stands there and smiles.”

“Save some for the rest of us! Bo, make him save some!”

“I can’t tell him what to do anymore,” they said, still smiling.

“Once our ei’den, always our ei’den,” James said beside them, turning them towards the table. “C’mon, come catch us up on all your wild adventures. Trish will be so happy to see you.”

James and Deidre drabble

“Jamie, it’s not your fault.”

Deidre patted his leg under the blanket, trying to smooth away the tension that sang through him. This was why she hadn’t said anything for so long. Partly, because she didn’t want him to feel bad for something he couldn’t help. But mostly because his agitation made the tug in her gut even worse.

They perched next to each other, cuddling without comfort, each wire taunt as they hovered between talking and fighting. Gods, this was so exhausting. This den had gone from teasing bickering to a wild power pull, a nightmarish morass of tiptoeing around issues and skirting around feelings. It was like open dating, but without any of the benefits. Dei sighed.

Then she sunk claws in.

James yelped, scrambling back from her in a tangle of afghan and alarm. She didn’t move, just rolled her eyes at his dramatic response, albeit a merited one. Swearing, James clutched the afghan to himself like a girl with a bedsheet, scandalized and accusatory.

“What the fuck was that for?”

Dei shrugged, rolling her neck with the motion to try to relieve some of the tension. Her jaw clicked as she forced herself to unclench it.

“You weren’t listening,” she finally said, feeling a little more in control of the situation. She knew it wouldn’t last. Hers was the least of the egos in this den. “I keep trying to tell you that it’s not your fault you can’t feel my aura around yours, but you’re not hearing my words around your own mental chatter either. And that is your fault. And something I expect you to do better with.”

James nodded, a rapid, shaky motion that was more automatic than acknowledgment. “Okay. Okay. I hear you.”

“Do you?”

She watched his face, looking for signs of the emotions he used to wear there so clearly. Dei didn’t know what had taught him to hide—that damned bird ex-girlfriend of his, maybe. Or maybe it was something else. Maybe he’d always been a hider, and he was just reverting back to something more normal, now that he wasn’t trying to impress anyone.

Gods this sucked.

Dei flopped dramatically to her side, draping one arm over the back of the couch and showing her underbelly. She could tell James didn’t trust it, but his hyena did, and the pressure in the air dropped drastically. Dei drew what felt like the first real breath she’d taken in days, and as something unclenched in her, something in her o’den answered. Good. Maybe they really could work something out.

“I just need a little breathing room.”

Her voice was steadier now, stronger. She’d always thought of herself as second here, forever a background player to her older brother. But Decklan was never here anymore, and Constanza’s aura was as overbearing as ever. And James…

Everyone had been broken when they’d come together. Everyone but her. And now that they were all working their shit, Dei was falling apart. What the hell was wrong with her?

She hadn’t realized she’d closed her eyes. Hadn’t realized she’d been squeezing them shut against the threat of tears. Hadn’t felt anything, until James had crossed the space between them to drape himself over her legs. His arms snaked around her waist in an awkward hug, but it was the solid heat of his body pinning her lower half that really brought the comfort she’d been trying to pretend she didn’t need. An ugly sound escaped her, a hiccup of a sob she’d refused to acknowledge, a break in her carefully constructed dam.

James made those useless little shooshing sounds that people made with pets and babies, and Dei’s stomach dropped. What the hell was wrong with her? How could he be so calm? He’d spent weeks and weeks sulking around the house, aura like a black hole of apathy, mourning the loss of a relationship that hadn’t been making him happy for months—and he was trying to comfort her.

“This is so fucked up. This is so fucked up.”

She babbled the words into her hands, fighting the release every step of the way. But this was why the den worked. This was why hyenas gathered in families, blood and found. While struggled against it, her hyena relaxed into James’s, their energies blending and equalizing until she couldn’t help but feel the comfort her animal half was bathed in. Majority ruled, and the combined pressure of James and their two inner beasts force her human mind into healing, circled round her until her control broke, and hot angry tears fell. She screamed into a throw pillow, howling out her frustration and anguish, born of nothing she could understand but real all the same. Emotions didn’t have to make sense. They didn’t make sense to the hyenas anyways, so just let it go, release the toxin, and curl up with us and sleep. Release. Rest. Heal.

Shuddering with the force of her ragged breaths, Deidra let her storm rage itself out, leaving her washed out and hollow. And all the while James laid on her, stroking her side and whispering nothing sounds of soothing encouragement. She glared down at him, but it was half-hearted, and her lips were twisted in a grimacing smile. Finally, she patted his hair, signaling to him that he could unbury his face from her ribs, that she was better now, ready to talk.

“You tell Con about this and I’m gonna bite you.”

He grinned, turning back into her side to graze her ribs with his teeth, mumbling a sarcastic agreement that vibrated through her bones.

“Stop that. It fucking tickles.”

He licked and she yelped, kneeing him in the gut as she squirmed. But they were both laughing, and he didn’t go anywhere. It would be alright.

Mikey Comes Out

Working on a series of short scenes about Mikey’s coming out. I don’t know how long it will run, but here’s the first scene:

Mikey lay on his stomach, still feeling sick. He didn’t want to say anything, but he knew Cam would want him to. And Donnie. They both wanted what was best for him.

Hot bitter tears stung at his eyes. No, damn it. He didn’t want to cry about this anymore. This was a good thing. He finally knew what was wrong with him.

No. Not wrong. Just different.

Clutching his pillow to his chest, he blew out a long, tired breath into it. This was a good thing. It was. He could finally stop trying so hard. He could just… be.


He sank into the feathery pillow, feeling the world go soft and warm and distant. If he could just figure out how to put this muffled feeling into his aura….

Ugh. He had to stop this. He wasn’t broken. He was just different. He’d already known that, now he just knew how. That it had a name.

That he wasn’t alone.

Buoyed by that thought, he rolled over and fished for his phone on the nightstand.

Hey guys. I need a pizza date.

A bit about Griffics

In all technicalities, there is no such thing as the Griffic Nation. In the earliest days of the chimera, the wing bearing races –the gryphons, hippogriffs, and wyverns—took advantage of flight to settle the high reaches of the northern mountain range. Their efforts gathered around the seven most notable peaks, each providing its own advantages and challenges. Families flocked to areas suited to their natural talents, turning the environmental challenges into familiar expertise. These families, or Clans, became the law of their particular mountain, unmatched in their mastery of a particular area. They operatied largely autonomously, cooperating begrudgingly when necessary, each Clan determined to come out on top of any given exchange. Until the First Chimera War. United by necessity and fierce determination to protect their homes, the Clans came together in a loose federation, which would become known colloquially as the griffic nation.

Ravaged by war, the Clans were forced to reorganize. Clanheads took up the practice of bolstering and maintain their numbers by adopting in new members, based on the compatibility of their magics. As a general rule, an individual’s magic follows the coloring and nature of their second forms, so golden/tawny creatures tend toward lightning or fire magic, silvery/whites to ice and wind, spotted/barred to illusion magics, and so on. These traits are often hereditary, but not always, so even children born to Clansmen parents are not guaranteed a position within the Clan until they’ve earned it.

Children are raised in a communal environment, learning from and inspiring one another to greatness through the spirit of competitive cooperation. Older children and unattached young adults serve as round the clock teachers and caretakers in the rookery, with occasional assistance from birth parents as their other commitments allow. A young griffic’s family are their rookmates, until their achievements catch the eye of honored Clansmen and are able to claim a family name as their own.

Once claimed, Clansmen are expected to serve and uphold the strength of their Clan, making life decisions based on politics and advantage more than emotion and personal preference. Children are expected to be born, positions are to be sought after and held, aide and assistance given, orders from higher ranked Clansmen obeyed. Here the importance of compatible magic comes into play. One cannot commune and support in a spell that one cannot work. So high ranking Clansmen have incentive to seek out members that can augment their own abilities. And less talented griffics find their skill gaps shored up and supported by the overall strength of the Clan and the energies of their mountain.

The expectations on Clansmen are harsh, but life among the peaks is harsh. Most consider it worth the reward of social standing and physical security. And, so long as ones duty to the Clan is being upheld, one is free to pursue whatever other interests and romantic arrangements one desires. In fact, griffic marriage traditions are usually one sided, in a way, to facilitate just that. When someone asks you to be their mate, they are asking you to uphold and support them, but you are still free to seek out someone else as your own mate. So it is not uncommon for marriages to exist in chains, each link involved in their own Vs: serving as mate to one person to fulfill your clan duties, and choosing someone else as your mate for happiness and personal preference. (This is also why children are raised communally in the Rookery. Otherwise, it would be a legal nightmare to decide who has what rights and duties to which children.)

As a parting tidbit: There are no wyvern Clansmen. Between the First and Second Chimera Wars, there was a single Clan unifying all wyverns, who traveled between the seven peaks as merchants and journeymen. They were allowed to settle on any Clan’s mountain, but they were not subject to that Clan’s law. Serving as almost their own international waters, the Wyvern Clan’s responsibility was maintaining traffic and communication between the other peaks. But all of that came to an end with the final blow of the last Chimera War.