A/N: so this is the side-story to Burning Brightly! But it isn't exactly a sequel, so you don't have to have read BB before this one. Start at whichever one you like, it won't make much of a difference! At the moment, this story takes place a bit before BB. Hope you enjoy!
"Oi princess, you have a visitor."
Aleya glanced up from the book she was reading and smiled at the burly guard, uncaring of the scowl on her features.
"Why thank you, Janine," she said, placing the book to the side and standing up. The prison guard just grumbled and grabbed her arm to escort her to the visiting rooms.
Aleya's smile grew when they entered the room and she saw who her visitor was.
"Special Agent Carson, what a surprise! Do you want to wish me well for tomorrow?" Aleya asked, her blue-green eyes twinkling as she slid into the seat across from the man. Ben Carson had been chasing her for years and had only managed to catch her three years ago on the charge of grand theft auto. She was due out tomorrow. He wasn't looking too happy about that fact as he sat there, his brow slightly lowered in a frown.
"I just came here to tell you that I will catch you and next time, you won't be going to a human prison. You'll be sent straight to the Styx."
Now that was a worrying threat. The Styx was infamous amongst the Supernatural, as it was a prison specialised for them. Not only that, but it was three hundred metres underwater – so it didn't matter if you escaped, you'd either run out of air or burst from the pressure.
Aleya quirked an eyebrow at him. "Ah, but that's if you catch me and can charge me as a Supernatural. I've told you, Carson, I'm nothing but a human." She spread her hands on in front of her innocently, a smirk on her face.
"That's a load of rubbish and everyone knows it."
"There's no need to be so crabby, Special Agent," she tutted. "We should be celebrating like two grand friends! It'll be like the old days – me, being a law-abiding citizen and you, trying to pin me for things I just didn't do."
Carson rolled his eyes, leaning back in the chair. "Things you didn't do? Spare me. You know I'll be watching you."
"I think we established that when you threatened me, Carson. I'll look forward to it, really. Is there anything else you'd like to threaten me with? Because I'm in the middle of packing for my release tomorrow morning. You know, with all the belongings I have in prison."
She stood up, shaking her hair out of her face and sent Carson a tight-lipped smile. Carson rose also, holding his hand out for her to shake.
As she did so, he said, "I'll miss seeing you in the uniform – bright orange truly is your colour, no doubt about it."
She narrowed her eyes at him – no one looked good in a florescent orange jumpsuit, but she damn well tried.
"I'll make sure to say hello to the tail you stick on me," she said with fake joviality before turning on her heel and stalking out of the room. She fumed on the way back to her cell. She wasn't going to lie – she hated prison. Loathed it. The guards were butch, prickly bitches and her fellow inmates weren't much better. Carson or any other Special Agent would not send her back here or to the Styx. He couldn't pin anything on her anyway.
Janine finally threw Aleya back in the yard, where the other inmates were milling around. Aleya looked around coldly before strolling back to her bench in the corner, the surrounding women moving quickly out of her way. The inmates here were like vultures – any sign of weakness or vulnerability, they struck. Hard. If Aleya wasn't adept at hiding her feelings before she was thrown in here, she was now.
When she'd first arrived in this hole, she'd been at the bottom of the food chain – easy prey. The head honcho, Blythe, had scouted her out almost straight away, due to Aleya's reputation. Blythe figured Aleya would want to rise up fast in the prison hierarchy, and with her reputation, she very well could. But Aleya wasn't interested in any of that sort of stuff and just wanted to keep to herself as she did her time. Blythe, however, was a nasty piece of work – in prison for life and more, and accused of countless murders and gang dealings. Blythe had tried to intimidate Aleya, but soon, through some 'gentle' nudgings, realised that she was better off to just leave Aleya alone.
And so she had, and thankfully the other inmates had followed her example.
She sat down in her corner, pulled out the book she had stuffed in her pocket, and began to read.
The next day, Aleya strolled out of the prison gate, breathing deeply as she smirked to herself. It was about time she was out of that hellhole – she hated to be confined. But, luckily, she'd only been charged with stealing a car, which wasn't much in the scheme of things. Well, at least it wasn't much compared to the other things she'd done.
She glanced around the car park, looking for the familiar bright red Honda.
It wasn't there.
Either Sophie had gotten another car, or she was late. Aleya was betting on the latter.
Sighing, her smirk died down as she leant against the wire fence and waited. She glanced down, grimaced, and determinedly fixed her eyes back up. Her clothes were horribly out of fashion. Of course, they'd probably been the rage three years ago, but not anymore. She couldn't wait to get back out there and replenish her wardrobe.
She peered around again – no Sophie.
Sophie was one of the only people in the world Aleya trusted. Not wholly, but almost. Sophie had been like the mother her biological one had failed to be. When Aleya had run away at sixteen, it had been Sophie she was going to. Instead, she had been intercepted and kidnapped by Savion.
It was Sophie who had healed her, emotionally and physically, after the two blurry years in Savion's grasp.
A beep startled Aleya from her thoughts, and her head flew up.
In front of her was a red Honda, it's window down to reveal a grinning brunette.
"Get in the car, princess!"
Aleya grinned, rolling her eyes as she hefted her small bag on her shoulder and strode towards the car. She was getting sick of that nickname – did she really look like a spoilt princess?
She threw open the door and slid into the seat, leaning across the centre to hug Sophie tightly.
"Oh, it feels fucking good to be out," Aleya murmured as she pulled away, bright smile still gracing her face.
Sophie returned her smile, face beaming as she put the car in drive.
"I've missed you – but I can't say the same for a majority of the criminal world."
Aleya snorted. "Oh, they all secretly love me. A little competition never hurt anybody."
They chatted about nonsensical things for a while before Aleya moved the conversation onto a more serious wavelength.
"How is Kylar going?"
Kylar. The half-brother she had abandoned when he was barely ten. He had never forgiven her and refused to see her anymore, but she always looked out for him. Of course, she had to keep his presence and her mother's an utmost secret, as she didn't want anyone in the criminal world using them against her when she was too far away to protect them.
"He-He's good." Sophie slanted a side-ways look at Aleya. "His mother and he moved to the same suburb as us about a year after you were imprisoned."
Aleya's head whipped towards Sophie so fast it was just a blur. "What? And you didn't think you could tell me this sooner?!"
Sophie rolled her eyes. "It wasn't important until you'd left prison. And if I'd told you before, you would have just fretted uselessly."
Aleya frowned. "I would not."
She would have – despite Kylar's refusal to see her, she still loved him deeply. He was family, after all. Their mother, however, was someone she could live without.
Aleya sighed. "Okay, fine. How is Kylar in the new place?"
"He's doing well, at school and at home. He just entered year twelve this year and has a girlfriend. She's… very upbeat."
Aleya gave her friend and mentor a piercing look. " 'Upbeat'? Is that a euphemism for an air-headed bimbo?"
Sophie winced. "I wouldn't go that far…"
Aleya frowned for a moment as the familiar urge to protect her younger half-brother washed over her. "Well, do we still have those connections in the police department?"
Sophie shot her a narrow-eyed look before concentrating on the road again. "You are not getting a file on her, Aleya. Just leave it alone. In my opinion, she's not exactly… smart enough to do anything bad."
"Oh great. I am so glad that Kylar has great taste in women. I guess I'll just have to pay him a visit tomorrow, then."
"You sure that's a good idea?" Sophie asked, wincing. Aleya knew what the demon was thinking – Kylar shared Aleya's extreme stubbornness, and he had stuck by his proclamation to never see Aleya again.
Aleya just raised her eyebrows at Sophie, but otherwise ignored the question.
"So is anything else news?"
Sophie fidgeted slightly, making Aleya's eyes sharpen. "Well…"
"Oh, just come out with it," Aleya snapped.
"I picked up another stray – her name is Harper and she's pretty much permanent."
Aleya looked at Sophie, her mouth opened slightly in shock. Sophie liked to call all the young humans and Supernaturals she helped 'strays'. Aleya herself was a supreme example of this. However, Aleya was the only one who had been allowed to stick around permanently, but her circumstances at the time were pretty outstanding. Sophie never picked up permanent strays.
"But—you can't be serious. At a time like this? Sophie, I'm just out of prison. The whole underbelly is going to be scrutinising every move I make. We don't have the time to take care of her and teach her how to defend herself. What if one of my enemies comes after her? I don't need to worry about you, but she's completely defenceless."
Sophie's eyes were fierce as we slotted into our car park underneath the apartment building and turned to me.
"You cannot make judgements like that when you haven't even met the girl. She has had a hard life – you out of all people should appreciate that, so I can't believe how you're reacting to this!" Sophie's eyes flashed an iridescent red, making her demon heritage known. She took a breath and visibly calmed down, her eyes returning to their normal hazel colour. "She is an expert safe cracker and can get through any lock, Supernatural-proof or otherwise. She's been living on the streets ever since her parents were murdered. By Savion."
Aleya went cold. She'd never admit it to anyone, but he still terrified her like no other.
She pursed her lips. "Fine, whatever. I just want to get upstairs and have a good nights sleep in my own comfortable bed."
She grabbed her bag and left Sophie in the car as she stalked over to the elevator and jammed the button. Sophie came up beside her and slung a skinny arm around Aleya's shoulders, their argument forgotten.
"Well, I'm glad you're back. The apartment had been a tad lonely."
Aleya smiled at her and they waited in a comfortable silence as the lift shot up.
"Hey," Aleya said suddenly as a thought occurred to her. "Is that nightclub still open, Fever?"
Sophie shot her an incredulous look as the doors dinged open. "You're not seriously getting back into the game already, Lee? You just got out of prison! And Carson probably has a tail on you already!"
Aleya shrugged, a small smile on her lips. "I didn't sit around twiddling my thumbs in prison, Soph. I made connections – technically, I never left the game. And Carson," she waved her hand flippantly, "he told me flat out he'll be gunning for me harder than ever. Might as well give him something to chew over."
Just as Aleya was about to open the door, Sophie pushed in front of her and stood before the door, hands stubbornly on her hips. "And what about Harper, huh? What, you just want to leave her here the night you meet her? She hasn't even met you and for some insane reason, she looks up to you already!"
Aleya grinned. "Having this street kid around might be good for my ego, actually. And she's coming with us."
Sophie's eyebrows shot up.
"Lee, she's sixteen," she said slowly.
Aleya felt a flare of rage towards Savion for ruining another sixteen year-olds life, but forced it down, too quickly for Sophie to notice.
"And if she's lived on the street for any amount of time, she'll have a fakie."
"A fake ID? You have a tail and you want to knowingly break the law by sneaking in an underage girl?"
Aleya winked lasciviously at her. "You know me – I've always lived on the wild side."
Sophie huffed in frustration before Aleya shoved her out of the way with her hip and threw open the door.
She strode in, a genuine smile taking over her face. She truly did love her apartment. She'd lived in a few places since she'd run away from home, but this was definitely her favourite.
And probably the most expensive.
She was standing in the entranceway now, and everything was as she remembered it. The entranceway was fairly narrow, and held a small table above which a painting was hung. It was one of Aleya's earlier pieces and, for once, it wasn't a forgery – it was a view of one of the beach with a storm looming over it. It was fairly large, taking up a sizeable portion of the wall. The entranceway then opened up to the living room, a large, open space with one wall of pure window, looking out over the city's sparkling harbour. The living room was fitted out with modern, sharp furniture in sleek greys, whites and browns. The kitchen joined onto it and a door led to another hallway where all the rooms and bathrooms were situated.
Plonked down on an expensive leather coach, feet up on the glass coffee table, was a spunky looking girl with short, scruffy red hair, pale skin and terrible posture. The television was on in front of her, blaring a trashy teenage show where all the girls were stick thin and had the latest clothing.
Aleya took a wild guess at naming this girl Harper. And, she noticed as she touched the girl's aura, she was a Nymph. Something Sophie had left out.
Her head lolled around and when she caught sight of the two women, she shot up.
"I take it you're the jailbird?" she drawled, her lips twitching in a smirk as she crossed her arms in front of her. Aleya raised an eyebrow, putting her hand on her hip and weight on one leg.
"And I take it you're the stray that Sophie's taken pity on this week. Ease up, pup. It all looks a little too forced to be intimidating." Aleya glanced at her watch. "Well I'm gonna order some Chinese for an early dinner. Then you," she shot a look at Harper, then at her clothes, "wear something… that makes you look like you can scrape together more than two dollars. And you," she glanced at Sophie, "try not to look like Mother Theresa again."
Sophie looked indignant. "Okay, one time I wore a dress with a turtle-neck."
"And that's one time too many."
Ben Carson slammed into his office, then abruptly stopped when he saw Claudion reclining in one of the chairs.
"Carson, I've been waiting for you."
Now those were the words every Legate – or Legata – dreaded to hear. A visit from the boss paired with those ominous words? You can bet your arse it wouldn't be something good.
Ben cursed himself for not checking the auras around him before he stormed in. Claudion, as one of the seven infamous Immortalis, had an unbelievably strong aura which he preferred to keep restrained most of the time.
"What can I do for you, Claudion?" he asked stiffly as he resumed moving across his office to his desk, albeit at a more sedate pace.
"How did the meeting with Aleya go?"
Ben grimaced as he thought back to it. Aleya was an enigma – he couldn't seem to understand her. Her aura was definitely human – he'd checked with others as well – but she had all the powers of a Nymph, or one of the other Supernatural. It just wasn't right, and he couldn't figure her out. He'd followed her as she committed one felony after another, with no trace. Unlike other egotistical thieves or con artists, she didn't leave a sign behind, but he could always tell her work from others. It was so… elegant. It ground against his pride and ego to say that, but that was probably one word that, without a doubt, fit Aleya well.
"Not good," Ben replied as he sat down at his desk and leaned back, matching Claudion's relaxed pose. "I warned her about the tail and that we'd be watching, but she didn't seem worried."
"And the proposal?"
Ben grimaced. This was what he had been dreading. He was, for the record, completely against this proposal. It went against the very constitution and everything that the Legion stood for. Ben believed fervently that they were supposed to keep the Supernatural community in check, not allow one of the most dangerous of them into their ranks.
"We… didn't get around to it. I highly doubt she will accept, anyway. We have nothing she wants."
Claudion raised his eyebrows then rose fluidly to his feet. It was at times when Claudion moved like that, so fluid and feral, that Ben was reminded of just what animal this Immortal took after – the snake.
Claudion threw a file that Ben hadn't seen on his desk. On it was Aleya's full name and details.
"Half of that is exactly why we need Aleya Sainsbury. The other half is her connection to Rykeir, and the reasons why we need him for this. This is all classified – read over it carefully."
Ben's eyes flew up in surprise. It couldn't be…
"Rykeir?" he questioned, shock lacing his tone. "As in, one of the Seven?"
The edge of Claudion's lips twitched, the closest thing to a smile Ben Carson had ever seen on the man. Or Immortalis, rather.
"The one and only. Read over it and get back to me. Funnily enough, you're one of the only people from the Legion Aleya will talk to. I think, in some twisted way, she respects you."
Ben could only watch in astonishment as Claudion quietly left his office, before his eyes fell to the file in front of him.
Almost cautiously, he slowly opened the file and was immediately faced with a picture of Aleya and who he suspected was Rykeir, entwined intimately in a club setting.
His astonishment grew as he flipped the pages and thoroughly read through each.
And he thought he had known Aleya, renowned thief, con artist, and sometimes mercenary, better than anyone else on this Earth.
As he read through the file, he was slowly realising how much he hadn't seen. How much had been hidden.
A/N: How does everyone like Aleya so far? Thoughts?