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Kerry's party rolls around, and the entire Stead is there.

Morgan Says: This post will be done in a choose-your-own-adventure style (or, well, choose-your-own-character-to-follow [cyoc] style, I suppose you could say). As such, it will include links to other posts inside of it -- each will follow a different character, and bring a different story.

Thanks to cobryn for the idea. The gate's quote is by Dante, and the balloon quote is by Lord Tennyson. I was sort of in a haze when I wrote most of these, so I think it'll be just as much fun to see what came out for me as it will be for you guys. ^^;;

All pieces connected to the CYOC arc are rated NC-17, so please read accordingly. Hope you guys enjoy! ^^


gate door with 'abandon hope all ye who enter here' on it


Chortling laughter echoed through the party, Thompson's smooth eyes catching on the people who had shown. Kerry had done a good job -- the group was impressive. Walter's saxophone serenaded them with the various picnic tables set up, and at least three dozen members of the Stead lingering in lazy attendance.

Thommy'd known Kerry would throw the party, if the proper bait was dangled in his face. He and Sarah were troublesome, but not in the same way that Daniel was. They would feed, embrace themselves, as would Eiji, who had made Sarah laugh in the first place.

And if there were two ways to be troublesome that would make Thompson look the other direction, it was feeding and protecting the pack.

Danny, on the other hand, was someone that he needed to keep an eye on. He was loyal to the pack when it was convenient for him -- and if he had his way, he would change Thompson's right to utter leadership of his chupacabras.

And he couldn't allow that. They were his children to own.

Cici squeaked and let the balloons on the table catapult into the ear, and Thompson smiled. His own daughter was priceless, and he was quite proud of how ruthless she was, at such a young age.

"Daddy," Cici called, when he approached. Her new maroon dress looked lovely on her, perched on her mother's comfortable hips. "The balloons flew away."

Her three year old face contorted in misery as she pointed up at the rubber beauties that she'd released. "Next time hold tighter," Thompson recommended, with a ruffle of her silky, short hair.

She had her mother's dark curls, and he leaned in to kiss Arriel's lips, even as her eyes were elsewhere. "He hasn't shown up yet," she explained. It was a considerate, low voice, that brought a blossoming smile to Thommy's face.

Cici was straining in her arms, and so in a fluid bob she set their daughter on the ground, watching as she went chasing after Eric, calling, "Daddy," at the top of her lungs.

"Maybe he'll get her more balloons," Thommy mused, watching his daughter weave through the crowd to leap into the arms of his on-again, off-again lover. "He helped Kerry set them up--"

"Padraig," Arriel murmured, tugging on Thommy's arm. There were four people in the world that could call him by that name -- and one outright refused. Thompson's clear blue eyes swiveled to look where Arri's long and thin arm was pointing.

Dark hair followed a blonde that was determined to deny he existed. Not surprising -- Daniel hated being stuck beside Andrew-- but Danny feared him, and wouldn't let Andy avoid any engagements. Which was most likely why they were both there.

Arriel's face broke into a pleasant smile, and she leaned on Padraig's shoulder. "Can we start the fire now? It's getting late, and if Kerry gives us one more hopeful look, I think I'll tear his throat out on my own."

It was a playful promise, and he laughed, using his shift to crack his neck into an elongation. Spike's rose from his neck, but since it was a pack party, nobody looked twice as Arriel's fingers wrapped tightly around his sensitive neck lances, stroking them with her nails and sending a shiver of need through her. He changed enough for his head to swivel without moving and bring her into a tight kiss.

Her lips were warm and coated with blood-- she'd killed the does for the barbecue with her bare teeth, though some was surely her own from the lashing of his fangs against her warm depths-- and his tongue lunged out for her own, shivering as it wrapped itself around hers, which remained unchanged.

A growl echoed as he pulled back, nodding as his neck snapped back into normality. "Dinner it is."

Anything would be alright, now that his Andrew had arrived. He wouldn't even have to drag him screaming from his room to be burnt among the flames.

Things always went so much better when Andy came to him willingly.


ballons in air with 'i am part of all that i have met' quote on them


Twilight faded from above as Arriel shifted from where she'd been sitting on the picnic tables with Cici on her lap. Fingers had absently brushed through her daughters hair as her face contorted into a detached jaw, joyfully bouncing as she'd swallowed the rind of a medium-rare doe.

Not all of their kind liked their food raw. Children and Robert, to be specific. But Robert had diligently ate his food, fingers latching around Eiji as the man vibrated in his seat with every high pitched wail that pierced the night.

She'd been surprised when Cecile had managed to fall asleep -- she'd been screaming with joy and chasing after members of the Stead for candy, and they'd all dutifully obliged. Nobody would deny the daughter of Padraig.

A warm and soft hand had stirred Arriel from her musings, and she'd glanced back to see Eric leaning in beside her. A low clip of a growl echoed as her neck arched to reach his lips, as he moaned and pleasantly obliged. He was Padraig's wedding gift to Arri -- a man of her own choosing, to torture and love as she chose. Really, it was a better present than any of the other woman could dream to claim.

His fingers danced along her neck as she curled against him, bringing Cici carefully with her. "He's ready to start," Eric's low and thick voice intoned, against her flickering tongue. "I can take her in."

Eric wasn't allowed to participate in the hunts unless Arriel chose, and typically she knew he wouldn't enjoy them, and would never dream of forcing her play toy to work against his wishes. But now she was lonely-- Padraig had been fluttering amongst their people for the night, eyes locked on Andrew, and she'd been kept beside her daughter, occasionally chatting with Sarah and Kerry until the coal-haired man had stepped aside to take a cigarette break, and Sarah had been dragged into a debate between Eiji and Daniel.

So seeing Eric's eyes staring obediently into her own, she shook her head. Pivoting in her seat, her eyes fell on the salt and pepper hair of Walter, lingering only a few feet away. "Walt," she called, her voice a dainty soprano.

His head tilted, glasses still on despite the quick fading of the storm-and-evening-dimmed light. "Yeah?" He'd been having a discussion with Kerry over some smoke that was carefully being blown in the other direction, aimed away from Cici and the other young ones. Most had already been taken inside, as the true festivities were soon to start.

"Take Cecile inside."

She was sure a groan was head, but Arriel was feeling kind, and so she let it slide. After all, he was stubbing out his smoke, and getting up to help her, his nimble musician's fingers slipping tightly around Arriel's slumbering babe. "Make sure she'd asleep," Arri warned, before dismissing him from her sight, Eric's attention-grabbing fingers jolting around her hips and ripping her mind away.

Padraig had risen among the crowd, eyes seeking her out and receiving a knowing smile as she rose to stand beside him. The royals of their Stead, bestowing gifts upon their children.

In a rare act of kindness, Paddy waited patiently until Eric stood beside them, a step behind Padraig but there all the same. It warmed her heart that her husband knew her so well -- he was taking her into account, and acknowledging that Eric could keep their bed that night.

She knew there would be a price-- she'd have to allow Andrew into their chambers, if Padraig managed to woe him. But just as she was gifted, she'd given Andrew to him-- the stray had been his choice, and oftentimes Arri thought he enjoyed the challenge of luring the dark-haired man to him.

A high-pitched sobbing lingered around them, the Stead deathly silent and leaning on their haunches. The cries were close, and Arriel smirked at how easy that prey would be. Her tears would do her no good.

"First, I'd like to congratulate Kerry on the party. It was lovely," Arriel began. The crowd gave a murmur of approval, Kerry lifting his nicotine stick in a pleased salute. "But I'm sure you all have already given him your thanks, so I'll go on. Padraig has his very own gift to the Stead, in honor of Andrew's arrival."

Tilting to look into the blood-tinted eyes of the man who brought a desire to pounce and fuck to her spine.

"Behind the gates lie seven townspeople. Homeless, most of them, and I've been picking them away all day." His voice carried among the Stead. Even those who objected to human feeding were watching him now.

Paddy hadn't included in his calculations the two that had been set aside for Paddy and Arriel. They would be marked, as always, clothed and without a mark on their body. They were the hard prey, to keep them in shape, and any member of the Stead caught stealing their food would be ripped to shreds in front of them all, limbs stretched among the trees to attempt to heal without being truly broken.

"You all know the rules: no slaughter of our own, no rescuing the prey, and don't leave them in agony. A swift kill, that's what we're about." Nobody dared voice their disapproval out loud, though Arriel easily saw it in Danny's focused eyes.

"There's not enough for everyone -- so the first come will be the first served."

Stepping back, he moved to the gate that had been drawing everyone's eyes from the beginning of the party. Usually open for the Stead, it had been padlocked for the greater half of the party, a key dangling around Paddy's pale and luscious neck. Now he removed his necklace, inserted the key in the lock, and stepped back.

"Let the hunt begin."


Follow Kerry   -*-   Follow Walter   -*-   Follow Thompson   -*-   Follow Eiji


"Honey From a Thorn" - - ((by Morgan O'Friel))
Morgan O'Friel's Homepage
"Life is ever
Since man was born,
Licking honey
From a thorn."

- Lois Ginsberg

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