*Sometime before #a fated meeting*

Cynric probably wouldn't have noticed the phone if it wasn't face down on a metal table. The vibrations rattle the facedown phone across the surface as it rings - otherwise silent. Ringer must be off.

Cynric dabs sweat from his face with the towel thrown around his shoulders and glances at the table. **"Faina,"** he calls over. **"Your phone is ringing."**

No response. Faina's back is to him, elbow-deep in the hood of a massive truck, where she's standing nearly on tip-toes even with a step-stool. She probably can't hear him because she's sniping at Rex, who hovers so close over her shoulder, also leaned over the hood, it's a wonder she isn't kicking him to get back.

Thought too soon; Cynric faintly hears her growl, *"You want me to do it or not?"* before she does, in fact, kick Rex in the shin. The burly werelion winces and grunts something back that he can't hear. Cynric rolls his eyes and picks up the phone, turning it over to look at the caller ID.

**"Faina,"** he says, louder, and holds the phone screen up for her to see as she looks over her shoulder at him. **"It's your fiancé."**

She frowns, starts to straighten, but stops after a glance at Rex's expression. She scowls at him - it seems to be their default expression for one another - and then returns her attention to the engine block. *"Little busy. Can you answer it? It's probably just wedding stuff."*

**"Uh... okay."** Cynric shrugs and presses the answer button. He should've paid a little more attention to what it said under the Caller ID, because the camera suddenly flares to life as the screen clicks on. *Uh oh.* Video call.

Cynric can't help a sheepish smile as the other man's face in the camera quickly goes from a huge grin to blank confusion. **"Hey, Isaac,"** he greets him, a tad more forcibly cheerful than he probably needs to be. But it's awkward talking to his sister's fiancé as it is, since they barely know each other; it's even more awkward to be on a surprise video call. **"Um. Faina's got her hands full right now. She told me to answer."**

Isaac blinks, then the confusion melts away into an easy grin, and he nods. *"Oh, okay, gotcha. I usually call right now so I thought... what's she doing?"*

Cynric cuts a glance back over to the truck in time to see Faina kick at Rex again. **"No clue,"** he admits. **"Something to do with the truck Rex was working on. Faina's hands are the only ones small enough to get in to connect something, I guess? He must've been desperate to let her touch it."**

*"She can't really get at the electrical from there,"* Isaac replies, with enough of a knowing grin that Cynric chuckles. Somehow he thinks Isaac knows exactly what kind of trouble Faina would stir for Rex if given half the chance.

**"I think he's afraid she's going to do something regardless..."**

Before Isaac can reply, a different male voice floats in from off-camera. Isaac makes a face and glances off in its direction. *"That's an **awfully** deep voice, I thought you were talking to your girl-- oh **hello**."* Cynric stares as the video feed suddenly tilts, and despite Isaac trying to muscle him back with an elbow, a tanned man with dark hair and dark eyes drapes himself into frame on Isaac's shoulder. 

The mysterious man grins at him, and Cynric gets the strange feeling he's being judged on some sort of number scale as those dark eyes roam over the video feed. *"Who's this?"*

Isaac's face has become the picture of a man who has had to put up with shit from this stranger and really isn't in the mood, but is going to put up with it anyway because it's easier. If the eyeroll and heavy sigh didn't otherwise demonstrate. *"Get off, Leo."* He tries shrugging, but the man - Leo - doesn't budge. *"This is Faina's brother, Cynric. Cynric, this is Leo; he's an old pain in the ass of ours."*

Leo, Leo... the name sounds vaguely familiar. He's definitely heard Faina mention him before. **"Nice to meet you, Leo,"** Cynric says, with an amiable smile. **"Faina's talked so much about you."**

From the expression on both of their faces, it's clear that neither man believes that polite lie. Sometimes Cynric forgets he's dealing with people who know his sister quite well.

*"You don't have to be nice to him,"* Isaac says, still attempting to shrug him off, at the same time Leo says, *"Aw, you're too sweet. I can see the resemblance now. You're definitely a Parker all right. If you scowl I'll bet you look just like her."*

**"Really?"** Cynric says, and does just that. He holds it only long enough for Leo to laugh, then melts into a smirk. **"I've heard that a lot..."**

*"Funny, too,"* Leo says, nudging at Isaac. *"I like this one better already. I think we'd be good friends, don't you? It's important for family to get along, isn't that right, Dad?"*

Isaac scowls at him, opens his mouth to retort, but Leo continues before he can speak. *"Hey, Cynric, we oughta let the lovebirds talk... you got a phone number? I'll text you."*

**"Um..."** Cynric blinks, no longer following the strange tilt of the conversation. He didn't think Faina ever mentioned Isaac being Leo's dad...? Was he joking? And - that was the smoothest anyone has ever asked for his number.


**"*HEY.*"** Before Cynric could answer Leo's question, Faina suddenly appears at his elbow. She snatches the phone from his hand before he could recover from the surprise and scowls at the screen. **"The fuck are you doing, Leo?"**

Leo's grin goes from ear to ear at the scowl on her face. It completely spoils the pout he tries to pull off. *"What? I just want to get to know my future Uncle better."*

Faina grits her teeth. **"No. Fuck off."** She turns so Cynric is out of frame completely. **"Stay the fuck away from my brother."**

*"Why? You afraid another Parker is going to fall for my devilishly good looks?"* Leo's grin morphs into a playful smirk. *"C'mon, it's just a phone number. What can it hurt~?"*

This is a fucking disaster of the highest order. Faina flicks a glare at Isaac, who looks exasperated. **"Shut the fuck up, dumbass. No one thinks you're good looking."**

*"I didn't think he was that bad, actually..."* Cynric mutters, a bit thoughtful. Faina whips a bug-eyed glare at him. No. No fucking way. *Already?* She turns back to her phone screen, hoping they didn't hear it... but from the shocked look on Isaac's face and the shit-eating grin on Leo's, that ship already sailed. She groans, a half-growl in her throat.

**"He's off limits, Leo!"** She snarls at him, and then points an accusatory finger at Cynric. **"And you! Don't encourage him. He's a troll. I forbid you from talking to him."**

Cynric smiles at her, nods, and leans down to be a little closer to the phone, even though he's still off screen. *"Isaac has my number,"* he says, too loud for Faina to try and muffle or stop. She gapes at him, wide eyed, as Leo chuckles with glee. What the fuck? What the fuck??

**"I'm hanging up,"** she declares, ignoring the chorus of *wait*s and *hang on*s from Isaac. **"I'll call you later."** And Faina ends the call without so much as another glance at the screen. She slides the phone into her back pocket and glares at Cynric. **"I'm serious, Cyn, leave Leo alone. He's a player and an asshole. Don't talk to him."**

*"It seems like all your friends are assholes,"* Cynric says, amused, sliding his hands in the pockets of his workout pants. *"I barely said anything to the guy and you're acting like he's gonna eat me."*

**"*Eating* you isn't what he wants to do,"** Faina mutters darkly.

*"He is kind of cute..."*


*"I'm teasing you, I'm teasing - ow!"* Cynric rubs his shoulder, wincing, from where her fist just landed.

Faina jabs at his chest with a finger. **"I'm warning you - don't talk to Leo. You'll regret giving him ideas."** And she turns on her heel and stomps off with a huff back to the truck.

≫ ──── ≪•◦ ❈ ◦•≫ ──── ≪

*Sometime after #mothers-savage-daughter , May*

The first full moon after receiving the ring is the worst one.

It creeps up on her before she realizes what's happening. By the time she notices, it's too late. Faina is too used to pain and discomfort. The ache in her temples is so par for the course she ignores it, beyond winces she doesn't know she makes and pressing a palm to her forehead when it sharpens. 

She wears irritability like a second skin as it is; it hardly qualifies as a change in attitude when an already chronically short fuse seems shorter even when she has been on her version of best, but non-suspicious, behavior. There's no heat to it, besides, no real bite, as if her thoughts and attention are tuned elsewhere.

And the nightmares... well. Those are nothing new. Restless, fitful sleep is the norm, has been since childhood. Frankly it's a relief when they change, vivid horrors in sharp contrast fading to deep, rusted shadows in shades of black and deep grey. She gets the sense of *horror* lurking beyond, but too shapeless and too dark to do more than sense. 

It hardly matters that the darkness feels blood-soaked. Thick and sour and heavy on the air, on the ground. Coating every surface it can find. Invading her nose, her mouth. Threatening to choke when breathed in at the wrong moment. 

It doesn't bother her. She's drowned in worse visions before.

The sleepwalking *is* new. Faina can't claim the best memory, but even she has never been prone to nod off and then snap to reality somewhere else. Blackouts *are* uncommon despite the holes in her memory that would claim otherwise. 

The first time frightens her, startled awake by Skully at her knees who kept her from moving forward. She was half down the hall from her bedroom, towards the kitchen... and the front door. Not that she would've been able to get through it. But it would have looked like she was about to try. She played it off by grabbing something from the kitchen, turned back, disconcerted and uncomfortable, and went back to bed.

The second time was confusing. Was this going to be a new thing? The last thing she needed. She only just managed to earn her way into not having her bedroom door locked every time she was alone without immediate supervision near at hand, she didn't need it taken away because somehow her sleep betrayed her. The hell?

By the third time, the third night, she figured it out - and then it was just annoying. Her wolf appeared to take advantage of a lowered guard while she slept. Even at their worst clash, it had never been able to sneak in like this and just... take control without shifting. These were strange times they were in, though. Magic seeping into all of the cracks. Faina can't bring herself to take off her totem to prevent it, not after she fought so hard to get it back... so she resolves to just sleep even less instead. Not difficult, for her.

It backfires. She doesn't register the wolf's claws like dagger points digging into the walls of her consciousness as different from normal. Sharper. Stronger. She doesn't notice the itch burrowing into her bones seems to grow in time with the other werebeasts making their usual monthly preparations. She runs the wolf ragged, when she's able, when she's allowed; it doesn't help. 

The frequent headaches sharpen to a migraine. The pain leaves her pale and shaky, startled when someone kindly points out that her fingers are trembling. Faina is as confused as anyone, but waves it off as lack of sleep and believes it herself. 

Reality feels... disjointed. It's hard to focus around the pain. She excuses herself to bed early, but doesn't go to sleep. She curls herself around Skully, on top of the covers, eyes pinned to the window where the curtains are fully thrown open to the night sky. 

The moon climbs overhead, inch by inch, and inch by inch it feels as though her throat closes. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to think. She doesn't know she's crying until Skully starts to whine and lick at her face. Faina burrows her face into the dog's neck and tries to choke down a startled sob. What the hell is this...? What's happening? She desperately wishes to sleep now. Trade the shadowed bedroom for the pitch-black pulsing blood-drenched shadows. At least there the pain and misery make sense.

It doesn't come. Of course not. Energy thrums in her veins with a pin-and-needles pull. She surfaces from Skully's neck to glance back at the moon again. The *full* moon. *Full.* 

And suddenly the significance of that fact snaps everything else into shape. It's *grief*, that's what this has been, grief driven by claw point deep into her heart and every recess of her mind. A pack creature frantic to fulfill a promise it can't do anything about here in this room. Instincts *scream* to *do something*. *She knows he's calling for her and she can't reach him.*

Faina chokes on more sobs, confusion desperate to give into the tendrils that herald panic. It still hurts to breathe. Her skull is going to crack open under the pressure. Fingers clutch hard at the totem around her neck, the sharp edges digging tiny points of pain into her palm in an effort to distract from the mounting agony. 

*This isn't me,* the thought zings through internal howls, *this isn't me it's the wolf the wolf is losing it --* 

But knowing and feeling are two different things. Her body and brain can't tell the difference when they are two halves of the same whole. Grief consumes everything. A low buzzing builds to a dull roar in her ears. She is seconds from bursting into *wails* which will bring the attention of everyone in the house.


She does the only thing she can think to do. Faina sinks her teeth into the tender flesh of her knuckles and rips the totem from off her neck with a *snap* of the metal chain. She hurls it against the wall on the opposite side of the room. It hits with a soft *ting* and clatters to the floor.

The pressure immediately relieves. Not gone, but greatly reduced. Sealed and separated from the wolf again. The empty hole in her psyche where it should be *throbs* from the loss, but that ache is better than the one it replaced. It's quiet, outside of her own wet gasps and Skully's whines. The dog noses at her hand, butting under her chin, until Faina releases the death grip she had on her knuckles. Blood drips and she only just manages to catch the droplets with her other hand before they get on the covers and she has to explain to a house of vampires how *that* got there. 

She sits up, careful, swallowing back the iron tang of blood in her mouth and catching anything that leaks from her bleeding knuckles. After a minute or two she thinks her racing heart has calmed enough to move and she gets out of bed. Walks on shaky knees to the ensuite bathroom to wash the blood away down the sink. She leans heavy on the counter, panting, running cool water over her knuckles until they've healed closed, and any trace smell of blood is gone from the air.

Her head still aches, but it's manageable, the same she's felt before in the weeks where Madison had her totem. Faina splashes water on her face, rinses out her mouth, meets her own bloodshot gaze in the mirror. She leans on her hands. What the fuck? What the fuck was *that?*

This doesn't... make any sense. As far as she or anyone understands, her connection to Sam works on proximity since it's only a faux Familiar bond at best. She doubts he's somewhere nearby Trinity's townhouses - the Blood Legion kept her as up to date on his whereabouts as they could, and he had yet to be seen out of the Hotel since the Iron Maiden demonstration. 

Faina squints at herself, running her fingers through her hair. This is the first full moon since she got her totem back, but... there had been at least two on the in between, from Valentine's Day to the night she attacked Reinare, and this *never* happened before. Not even when she was still living in the hotel. So why --

The answer glints in a catch of the light from the overhead. Faina stares at it in the mirror where it sits tangled in her hair, and then lowers her hand to stare at it. *The ring.* Spelled to look like Isaac's, a delicate sapphire in a narrow diamond band... but if she ever took it off, the flimsy illusion spell would melt away and the real thing would be left in its place. An emerald stone wrought in scrolled silver and diamonds.

It's the first full moon since getting her totem back... but it's also the first one with the ring. It's as if the wolf knows something she doesn't. It wouldn't be that far from a possibility, given all that happened. 

Faina flexes her fingers - they still tremble subtly - and steps out of the bathroom. Skully stays pressed to her side as she crosses the room to the totem, crouches down to stare at it where it fell. 

It doesn't look any different. She senses nothing from it from here, other than the usual pull to pick it back up and put it back on that all Shifters experience.

Faina curls a hand around Skully's collar as a way to steady herself, glances up at the moon, and then reaches for the totem. The instant it touches her skin, the barriers fall away and the emotions *tear* across her consciousness with a speed and pain that blinds her. Fury, grief, bloodlust. She yanks her hand away and buries her face in Skully's fur, forces herself to breathe and swallow down the burning nausea rising in her throat.

This isn't good. This is *not* good. 

Somehow the wolf has attuned herself to the Lunar Change. 

Is the ring the catalyst? What the hell does this mean?

She pulls away from her whimpering dog and shushes her, and then wipes her eyes dry again. God fucking damn it... what the hell is she going to do? No one in Trinity can find out about this... they'll think the same thing she did, what changed, and if they don't try to take her totem again they'll try to look into the ring and they *can't* know that it's not the same one. She can't go without either given all that's happened.

That only leaves the Blood Legion, then. She's going to have to tell them, and see whether it can't be worked out to keep her away from Trinity on full moons until this all gets settled. *FUCK.* God *damn* it.

Getting Drucilla up north for her birthday can't happen fast enough.