2.9. ...Goes Unpunished


The men gather around Lark.

“I think she’s dead,” Dominic repeats himself. His voice is trembling.

Nikolas feels like time is frozen. This can’t be real.


“She’s not dead,” Karl sniffs at the air, “she’s mostly dead, though.”

Upon closer inspection, she does seem to be breathing shallowly, and Dominic is able to locate a faint pulse. But considering the gravity of the situation, no one appreciates Karl’s reference.

“We need to heal her,” Karl says firmly as if he’s reached a previously unthought of conclusion.

“A vampire could heal her,” Bastian remarks, “or their blood could. Though she stands a chance of being turned herself.”

“Then I’ll find them,” Karl growls, “and rip their fucking heads off. Bring their blood back for you.”


“Could you summon your pack?” Bastian asks.

“No pack,” Karl deflates, “just me.”

“Then you’d just get yourself killed,” Bastian snorts, “but by all means, don’t let me stop you.”


“We need to take her to the hospital,” Nikolas interjects with the most obvious solution.

“If she’s as close to death as the wolf says, we might not make it in time,” Bastian’s brow knits with concern. He looks at his son, who’s still examining Lark.

“I might know a spell,” Dominic nods, “but I’ll need your help.”

“A spell?” Nikolas shakes his head, “no, we need to go--”

“Help me move her to someplace with more room,” Dominic orders Karl. Karl obeys, scooping Lark up and carrying her to the living room. He gently lays her on the floor.

“What do I need to do?” Bastian asks.

Dom looks embarrassed, “I’m going to borrow some of your power.”

Bastian rolls his eyes, “oh good, I’ve always wanted to be a battery.”


Dominic kneels next to Lark. He holds his hands over her torso and they begin to glow. Tendrils of light extend from his hands, connecting to Lark’s chest. Nikolas watches in amazement. He knows he should advocate for taking Lark to the hospital, for proven, scientific modern medicine. But for some reason, he believes this will work.

That can’t be right. He doesn’t believe in anything.

“What’s he doing?” Nikolas asks Karl.

Karl shrugs. “Magic, I guess,” he says, “Don’t know anything about mages.”

“I’m manipulating the production of blood cells,” Dominic says softly, not taking his eyes off of Lark, “essentially I’m significantly increasing the probability that her marrow will create new cells, and the speed at which it happens.”

“Probability,” Karl perks up, “it’s like Scarlet Witch’s powers.”

Dominic glances up at him, “yes, I suppose. Before the movies messed them up.”

Karl scowls. “Those fucking movies,” he spits.


“So magic is real,” Nikolas interjects. It’s less of a question and more of a statement meant to convince himself, as if the visible evidence isn’t enough.

“Duh,” Bastian rolls his eyes again, “you mundanes are so fucking dense sometimes.”

Nikolas ignores him. “So you’re like a healer or something?” If he’s learned anything from the video games he plays, this guy is the healer and the old man is DPS. That means Karl must be the tank.

“No,” Dominic shakes his head, “healing is very difficult, actually. You have to have the right spell for the right injury. Otherwise you could make things worse.”

“What do you mean? Wait, how did you know to come here?” Nikolas furrows his brows. The questions he should be asking are finally coming to mind.

Lark coughs, and all eyes turn to her. Her breathing is a little more rapid, pronounced, though she’s still unconscious.

“Did it work?”  Nikolas asks.

Lark shoots up with a scream, panic in her eyes. And then her face softens. She looks around the room dreamily.


Dominic smiles widely. “Yes,” he answers, “it worked.”

Lark squints at Dominic, “what worked?”

But before anyone can answer, Bjorn cries out. His voice is strained, sudden, a heartbreaking cry that to experienced parents signals hunger. Lark reflexively tries to stand up so she can comfort her son, but her legs shake and she falls back onto her butt. “Oww,” she mutters.


“Let me help,” Bastian stands up, “the formula?” Even to Bastian, who was something of an absent father, Bjorn’s cries are heartbreaking.

“There’s a bottle in the fridge,” Nikolas says, not taking his eyes off of Lark, “how are you feeling?”

“My neck burns,” she says sleepily. It takes a moment for her to come to, but--incredibly, unnaturally--she’s up and moving within minutes. It’s as if she had never been within an inch of death.

With Lark out of danger, Nikolas’ question returns: “How’d you know to come here? It seems like you were prepared for this.”

Lark tilts her head as she looks at Dominic. “Yeah, how’d you know?”

Dominic’s face grows hot. “It’s a long story,” he says uncertainly. So the four sims make themselves comfortable: Dominic pulls up a chair, Lark perches on Nikolas’ lap, and Karl sits next to them. He refuses to shift back to his human form, stating that he can sense more as a wolf and will thus be able to protect them should the vampires launch a second assault.

The quartet sits in uncomfortable silence before Nikolas speaks: “so?”

“Should I wait for my father?” Dominic says, a transparent attempt to buy more time.

Lark shakes her head, “it can take awhile. Bjorn is a slow eater, and he’ll have to be rocked back to sleep.”


Dominic takes a deep breath. He tells his story, leaving at a key detail: when he gets to the glamour spell, he doesn’t state who he turned into, just that he disguised himself.

“So you can change into anyone?” Nikolas interrupts. He would give just about anything to be able to change into someone else--it would, after all, make heists a lot less dangerous. Hell, he could steal from the Louvre disguised as Charlie Chaplin if he had those kind of powers.

“Um, not quite. It has to be someone whose features I’m familiar with, and it's easier if I’ve met them.” Though that’s conjecture on his part--he’s only used the spell twice, completely changing his appearance once. That left a bad enough taste in his mouth he hasn’t tried it again.

“Oh,” Nikolas sounds disappointed.

Dominic continues his story, narrating his break in into Gaius’ residence, his brief exploration, his encounter with the witch (whose sudden appearance makes Lark gasp), and then his showdown with Gaius.

“Wait,” Nikolas interrupts again, “if vampires have to stop and count whatever shit is on the floor in front of them, why not just carry a ton of pebbles with you all the time? It’d be like vampire pepper spray.”

Dominic looks surprised at the question. “I noticed the female--Bianca?--didn’t seem beholden by the same compulsion, so I looked it up and some researchers hypothesize arithmomania only affects older vampires.”

“Sounds like a cop-out,” Nikolas scoffs.

Dominic shrugs.


“I’m missing something,” Lark pipes up, “you explained how you got the wands back, but why did Gaius think Nikolas had them? And how’d you know to come here?”

Dominic is quiet. Lark--perhaps due to her naiveté--doesn’t suspect him, and Nikolas is still trying to wrap his mind around the mere idea of magic. So Karl is the one who realizes what happened.

“You made yourself look like Nikolas,” his nostrils twitch.

Dominic looks down at his hands. “Yes. I did,” there’s a silence and Dominic feels compelled to fill it, “And I’m so deeply sorry for that. I really--I wasn’t thinking, I guess.”

Lark looks crestfallen, “but why?” Why him?”

“I don’t know,” Dominic can’t stand to even look her in the eyes, so he keeps his gaze fixed on his hands, “I guess I though Gaius would assume that someone else hired Nikolas, and that person would become his target,” he lies. It's a clumsy explanation. He looks up at Lark just in time to see the realization hit her: he had carelessly endangered her in pursuit of petty revenge.

This is what Dominic was expecting: disappointment, maybe some anger, and then the end of his friendship with Lark, the only relationship he has with someone who is halfway normal. But it’s what he deserves. No, he deserves worse.


And worse comes: Karl launches himself at the mage, pinning him to the ground. This is apparently the wolf’s signature move.

“Dangerous,” he snarls as he wraps his claws around Dominic’s neck, “you almost killed her.”

“I didn’t,” the words gurgle out of Dominic’s mouth, “mean to.”


Lark leaps up, her eyes wide. “You have to help,” she tells Nikolas.

“Why,” he scratches his head, “Karl’s right. He almost got you killed.” He feels foolish that he took so long to realize what Dominic had done--it made perfect sense in retrospect. If only he had figured it out sooner, he could be the one beating the snot out of him rather than Karl.

“And Karl will kill him!”

Nikolas sighs and steps forward, putting his hands on Karl’s shoulders. “Hey, let him go,” his voice is unconvincing.


Karl ignores him, so Nikolas adopts a more serious tone.  “I said let go,” he commands as he pulls on Karl’s shoulder, trying the pry the wolf off of Dominic. Karl snarls and tightens his grip on Dominic’s throat. Dominic claws at Karl’s wrist, trying fruitlessly to free himself.

Making comparisons between domesticated dogs and werewolves is lazy, a cheap narrative trick used only by hacky writers in order to, say, develop a secondary character’s personality with minimal effort. But much like fighting dogs, it’s unwise to get between a fighting werewolf and his foe.


Nikolas discovers this the hard way: when he pulls on Karl’s shoulder again, Karl snaps around, grabs his forearm, and sinks his teeth in. The wound immediately begins to burn, and Nikolas--to his embarrassment--screams.

“Shit,” Karl’s eyes grow wide when he realizes, “oh, fuck Oh fuck, man, I am sorry.”


Nikolas falls backward, looking at his arm in shock. The bite broke the skin, but it’s hardly bleeding. You bit me,” he says in disbelief.

“Sorry,” Karl repeats himself, “sorry.”

Dominic pushes Karl out of the way and examines Nikolas’ arm. “It isn’t bleeding much, which is good,” he turns to Karl, “Maybe. A coagulant?”

Karl blinks, “don’t know.”


“Lycanthropy is a virus of sorts, right? It can spread?”

Karl nods, “I was born this way, but my mom said that’s how she turned.”

“Wait,” Lark says, “turned? You mean…?” She trails off.

 Dominic looks grim.

“Can’t you heal it?”

“I might be able to heal the wound, but not the infection. I don’t know a healer who can, really.”

Bastian jogs down the stairs, a look of annoyance on his grizzled face. “I barely got that damn brat down,” he grumbles, “no offense. What the fuck is all the screaming about?”

“Have you seen anything like this before?” Dominic asks.

“Like what?”

Nikolas holds out his arm for the old mage to examine.


Bastian narrows his eyes, “the wolf bit you?”

Nikolas nods.

“I have seen this before,” Bastian sighs, “on one of my cousins. When we picked a fight with the wrong man.”

“And?”

Bastian levels his eyes at Nikolas, “you’re going to turn.”

“Turn?” Nikolas shakes his head, “I don’t understand.”

“Into a werewolf,” Dominic says softly, pausing before he continues, “I’m so sorry.”

“Just like that?” Lark’s voice is strangled, “like, just one bite and he’s gonna turn into--into that.” She gestures to Karl. Karl looks furious for a second, and then his face falls.


“I didn’t mean to,” he mutters, “and it’s not that bad. You’ll see, Nikolas. It’s not that bad.”

Nikolas looks down at his wound. Tiny droplets of blood well up from the bite, dripping slowly down his arm. “Leave,” he says.

There’s no protest from Karl and the mages. The three men depart, Dominic again offering his apologies to Lark as he leaves.

Lark sits down next to Nikolas, who hasn’t moved.


“Do you want to talk?” Lark asks.

Nikolas shakes his head.

In dire moments, strange things tend to pass through one’s mind. Such is the case for Nikolas, who is suddenly reminded of a warning his father once offered him.

No good deed goes unpunished.

***

Author’s Note: Well. I bet you thought Lark was going to turn, right? ;) The comments on my last chapter were amazing and they really made me want to make Lark into a vampire. But I had planned to turn Nikolas into a werewolf from the beginning. I hope the sequence of events makes sense. It was initially going to be a lot more malicious on Karl’s part, but considering he and Nikolas are BFFs (no lie) I decided to make it an accident, more or less.

The vampires might not show up for awhile--I mean, they’re not even in this chapter but I wanted to address it since I decided to omit an A/N on the previous chapter. Since vampires are functionally immortal AND Gaius now realizes that Nikolas didn’t steal from him, he wants to reformulate his plan which includes some amount of patience and waiting. He *could* show up again sometime, but we’ll see. For now I’m keeping him on the backburner.

Comments

  1. I did! I thought Lark was going to turn! Lol. I felt so bad for Karl when Lark was dismissive of werewolves. Poor thing! She hurt his feelings. At least now he'll have a pack, right? Absolutely amazing chapters! :)

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    1. I actually didn't even *mean* for people to think she would turn. It was just a pleasant side effect. Poor Karl, right?? He's just a lonely wolf who wants friends. And he'll have a pack now, or at least a friend. :) Thanks for all of your comments! :D

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  2. Wow, okay... I admit I also half-expected Lark to turn into a vampire, not for Nikolas to turn into a werewolf. Whups!

    I love Dom and his father, I hope we continue to see more of them. xD

    Felt kinda bad for Karl there when he's all "no pack, just me." But I loved Bastian's response!

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    1. I wanted the werewolf thing to come out of left field, but I also tried to hint at it (namely by always referring to Nikolas as a lone wolf, by placing him in the forefront of pictures of the full moon, and, of course, with his wolf tattoo XD). I hope narratively it worked, and didn't seem cheap.

      I love them too! Dom is likely to show up, but I don't know about Bastian. I've decided that storywise he'll die around the same time as Luna and Quentin and they're getting pretty old. We'll see. I have at least one plan for him, if he lives that long.

      Poor Karl, right? Bastian is by far the funnest person to write dialogue for. I just write the first thing that comes to mind. XD

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  3. I'm actually really glad Lark didn't turn. A vampire seems like so much more of a pain to be than a werewolf. I mean, at least you aren't technically dead and all that. And at least Karl now (potentially - who knows with you anymore...) will have a pack mate? Sure, Nik isn't going to be excited about being a werewolf, but he'll get used to it?

    Also, I hope Dom doesn't disappear. I'm sure his friendship will take a hit, it's to be expected, but not gone all together.

    I also like the fact that Nik doesn't wear shoes in the house. I've always found it weird to wear shoes in your own house...

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    1. Me too! It would have been interesting storywise, but really it would have been a pain in the butt and I think she would be miserable as a vampire. And Karl will have a packmate for sure! I love the parenthetical--am I really that erratic and cruel of a writer? XD Nik has the "rebellious" trait, which makes him want to fight EVERYONE. So I think he'll actually like being a werewolf. XD

      Dom won't disappear! I really like him. ;_;

      Exactly! And I figure a guy who plans to play video games with his bro all night wouldn't wear shoes. The first thing I do when I get home is take off my shoes, and Nik is the same. XD

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  4. Woof woof Nik, woof woof xD

    I felt bad for Karl when everyone was dissing werewolves ;~; poor him

    I thought Lark was gonna die but she didn't, so I'm glad about that. I'm all up for people not dying. I found it sweet how her first thought upon waking up, hearing Bjorn cry, was to go see to him <3 it's sweet

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    1. A grrrr! A grrr! (that's what I do to my sister's dog, who loves to growl. Imma do the same to Nik. XD)

      Poor Karl, right? He's just a sad lonely puppy.

      I really couldn't kill Lark. I've always thought that it would be fun to kill a protagonist and replace them, but in actuality I don't think I could go with it. And she's a good mom! Her first thought it probably always Bjorn. <3

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    2. I feel like that's something I'd do ngl. I might do it one day.

      Anyway, I nominated you for a thing wow: https://matthewsrandomlegacyredone.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/liebster-award-take-two/

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  5. WEREWOLF!Nikolas I am SO down for this. Also, the Karl/Nik bromance is awesome. I hope Nikolas will forgive him - after all, he's going to need someone to help understand the change? Also, why doesn't Karl have a pack? Poor pup.
    I appreciate the titles and the end sentence, too.

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    1. I am honestly stoked about Werewolf!Nikolas. Werewolves are fun to play, and his wolf form is so cute I almost cry every time I see it. ;_; I've never had a great bromance in any of my stories, so I thought it was about time. Nikolas will have to forgive him, I think, because as you point out he needs his help. Karl is the only werewolf in Aurora Skies, other than his daughters. His mother was bitten by one and she passed the trait down to him. Though with Nik in the mix, maybe there will be a proliferation of wolves? :D

      Thanks! I stole the title pattern from a pair of chapters in The Hobbit ("Out of the Frying-Pan" and "Into the Fire").

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  6. Wellllll, you know I'm a rule nerd and it would have been against the rules to let the heir die and replace them (not the spouse though) yaddayadda, so I had no doubt Lark was still alive!
    But when Nik was bitten I thought that the healing spell didn't fully heal Lark's curse and now they'd both turn and become a cool Vampire/Werewolf couple, heh.
    Mhh... now I'm really curious if Lark will have more children from Nikolas. Wolfie baby?

    "If he’s learned anything from the video games he plays, this guy is the healer and the old man is DPS. That means Karl must be the tank."
    As a gamer I giggled at that line, that would have probably been my thought too =D

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    1. Yeah, both rule-wise and story-wise it would have been very difficult to kill her. I've decided that vampires follow the trope of having to exchange blood in order to turn someone, because just a bite doesn't make sense (then you'd be turning your food source, and that would create scarcity of prey in turn!). Plus (spoiler) Lark needs to have more children and I'm not super into playing vampires.

      Oooh, a Wolfie baby would be fun. (: Even if she did get pregnant by him again, though, I think it's a 50/50 chance that it'll be a werewolf.

      Ha, glad you liked that. XD Though Karl might not be the best tank, since he took like NO aggro. Plus he should've taunted Bianca, not Gaius. /nod

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  7. Lol Nikolas, how's he going to be a thief now? Bet he'll start howling at the moon during some break in. I'm really glad Lark didn't turn though. Wonder how this will affect her relationship with Dom? I think that Karl secretly is a bit happy he won't be alone in his werewolf- ism anymore.

    Epic lvl dps, healer, and technically Karl kind of comes off as the barbarian. Low on the int, so they do dumb stuff, like biting. ( Or asking a teammate if the lich he's talking to is the one you were sent to kill. Which someone might have done and ended up getting the entire party killed). Moral of the story is; if your bestie is a werewolf, carry a newspaper with you and smack him on the nose.

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    1. Karl's a thief too, so Nikolas will manage! They just won't schedule any break ins on full moons. Her relationship with Dom is going to be different for sure. And yeah, Karl is definitely happy he won't be alone anymore.

      The funny thing about Karl is he actually has the genius trait. XD He's an EA premade and that was one of his traits, but I can't help but making him dumb. Also, that's a very specific situation you're describing. ;)

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  8. Yay, Lark is back! I'm glad that Dom was the one who ended up saving her, since he is what caused the vampires to attack them. I hope at least that can redeem him a bit.

    I did not expect Nik to get bitten and turned! But I'm at least glad that Karl doesn't have to hide it anymore. I hope that Nik will still be friends with him. That "No pack ... Just me," comment was a bit sad. ;_; Werewolves travelling in packs just feels right.

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    1. He had to redeem himself! Initially he wasn't going to be part of the equation, and then I realized this would be an easy way to make up for the awful thing he did.

      I hope it was a fun twist and not a frustrating one. Nik will definitely still be friends with Karl, because he is lonely and I like him too much to make him suffer without a pack anymore. ;_; Hopefully with both Karl and Nik, the werewolf population in Aurora Skies will start to increase.

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    2. Not frustrating, just surprising! It will be interesting to see how this changes him.

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  9. You had me fooled as well! I am sorry to say as well l lol'ed when Nikolas screamed. Hehehe 😁

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    1. Ha! I imagine he shrieked all high pitched, then cleared his throat and lowered his voice an octave to regain his masculinity. XD Thanks for reading! :D

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  10. Oh wow! Again, I didn't expect things to turn out this way. This chapter was amazing, I loved it *o* I'm kind of glad Lark didn't turn into a vampire! I think things work better like this. In a roundabout way, Dom ended up getting what he was aiming for- revenge on Nikolas and a potential reason for Lark to become single and available...

    I also really enjoy Bastian and Dom's relationship and interactions. They're great characters! The way you're writing them makes it feel like there are so many untold stories in their past. They're so intriguing!

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    1. Thank you so much! It was a tiring chapter to write. XD Lark would be an awful vampire, and I think it would make her *very* unhappy. And Dom didn't exactly want revenge, at least not outright.

      Bastian is seriously fun to write, and I do imagine a lot of generic adventures between the two. Dom's mother also would have died when he was about 12ish according to my scattered notes, so Bastian would've probably dragged him all over the world on mage-y business. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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