Chapter One: Vanish
A/N: Hey everyone! We've been posting some stuff on Tumblr about this for a little while now, so decided to post the first chapter of the story and see what you think. Reviews and feedback are welcome and encouraged! We'd love to know your thoughts.
Leila Davenport could feel a headache building at her temples. She was also nauseous, but that wasn't exactly anything new. Checking her phone, she realised she'd now been sitting in the waiting room for more than half an hour. Her legs were jiggling impatiently as she continued staring down at the screen of her phone. Maybe she'd get a call or message from her mum and then she'd be able to leave, embarrassed that she'd come to report a missing person but relieved that she was okay.
She could have gone to the Valkyries, but the problem was that they all knew her. Claude Curtis would just smile tolerantly and act like Leila was overreacting. But she knew her mum better than anyone, and if Mars was fine, she would have let Leila know. The fact that she hadn't received any calls or texts from her mum in almost a week was troubling to say the least. She trusted her mum's skill as a Valkyrie, yet she also stressed that something bad had happened to her.
Instead, she found herself at the police station, watching the vampire receptionist typing away and occasionally slurping at what Leila strongly suspected to be a blood smoothie. She shuddered and tried not to think about that, because otherwise she really might vomit. When she'd been little, it had been hard for her to tell the differences in supernatural species, or even differentiate them from humans. The hardest of all were demis, because they were a mix of both. It was just something that all kids learned as they grew up, like a sixth sense.
"Miss Davenport?" The receptionist looked up. "Detective Constable Williams will see you now. If you go through the double doors, it's the third office to your left."
Nodding stiffly, Leila eased herself to her feet, ignoring the pounding in her head. She rubbed her stomach self-consciously, heading through the double doors and following the receptionist's instructions. A man in his late forties with a goatee was sitting behind a desk checking forms in the office. Leila cleared her throat and tapped awkwardly on the door.
"Um, hi. The receptionist said you were ready to see me."
"Ah, Leila." Williams smiled warmly as if they were good friends and not complete strangers. He gestured to the seat across from his. "Please, come in. Close the door."
Leila did as instructed, sitting down and clasping her hands to stop herself from fidgeting. She felt weird being here. She felt like she was being overdramatic, but she had to do something about the fact that her mum had just vanished. For a few moments, Williams kept working on the forms, before he set them aside.
"So what can I do for you?"
"I think my mum is missing." Leila tucked a strand of dark brown hair behind her ear. "I haven't heard from her in a few days. I live with her, so we normally communicate all the time. The last text I sent was that I had something important to tell her, and she wouldn't just ignore that."
"You think she's missing, or she is missing?" Williams asked.
"She is," Leila insisted firmly. She realised that this wasn't the time or place for uncertainty. The police didn't know Mars, but she did. Her mum wouldn't just have bailed without explanation, especially not after Leila's last text. "She's one of the Valkyries, so she can protect herself. But I think…no, I know something bad must have happened to her."
"Ah." The man's lip curled slightly, and Leila could tell his opinion of the Valkyries wasn't a positive one. Probably a human, then. "What was it that you needed to tell your mother?"
"That I'm pregnant," Leila murmured, staring down at her hands. She had been terrified of how Mars would react to the news that her seventeen-year-old daughter was pregnant, but that nervousness has dissipated as Leila slowly realised her mum's silence was not from anger, but something more sinister.
"I see." Williams raised his eyebrows, examining her and probably trying to take a guess at how old she was. Leila found that she was liking him less as this conversation went on. "What is your mum's name?"
"Marlena Davenport, but she goes by Mars." Leila watched impatiently as he started to type out details on his laptop. "She's been missing for three days now. I sent her the last text at…"
"That won't be necessary." Williams smiled, but it was very patronising. Leila realised he didn't take her seriously, and fought back the surge of anger she felt. She knew her mum was missing, and no condescending adult could tell her differently. "Thank you, Leila. We'll investigate the matter and let you know if we have any updates. However in the meantime – you are a minor, so do you have any relatives that you can stay with until this is all sorted out?"
"Yes," Leila lied without hesitation. Her dad was currently not in the country, her paternal grandpa was borderline insane, and she wasn't in contact with her mum's side of the family. But the idea of being taken into some kind of foster home or custody didn't agree with her. Right now, she was more focused on getting matters with her baby sorted out, not who she'd be housed with.
"Good, we'll need access to the house," Williams declared, making Leila panic slightly as she realised she'd have to go elsewhere. "We'll have to treat it as a crime scene and investigate. I'm sure you understand that."
"Of course." Leila pushed herself to her feet, making a mental note to pack her things up tonight and find a place to go. She could call Brandon, but that was a last resort only. She didn't particularly want to see Brandon ever again. "I'll drop the house key off tomorrow. Thanks for all your help."
Thanks for nothing, she thought bitterly to herself as she marched out of the police station.
Rachel Davidson flicked over the page of her book as she sipped at her cappuccino. She had been at the café for little over an hour now, waiting for the message from her boyfriend to say he was done work. Her eyes flicked back to the young brunette waitress, Leila, who was cleaning tables in front of her, the swell of her pregnant belly slightly visible under her black top. She leant back in her chair as the young woman walked over to her, pulling out her notepad.
"Hi, what can I get you?" Leila asked, her tone flat making her seem bored, but Rachel had studied people well enough to see she was in fact tired.
Rachel smiled at the young woman, marking her page in her book. "Just a chocolate muffin."
"No drinks?" Her pen scrawled across her notepad as she asked the question, clearly not having noticed the half full coffee that sat in front of Rachel.
Rachel gestured to the coffee as she looked up, offering her a small smile. "I have one."
"Oh." She nodded before moving off, heading back towards the kitchen to grab the muffin.
Rachel glanced at her book before deciding that it no longer interested her, and her mind was too tired to continue reading the Latin. The book was an old family heirloom filled with various herbal remedies and potions. She had been studying them since she had found out that her great granddaughter was pregnant, and it had also prompted her to come to the same coffee shop every Friday for the past two months. Leila had remained none the wiser, and Rachel knew she just thought of her as a regular customer.
She wouldn't have known that Leila was pregnant if she had not seen her at the hospital she worked at. Rachel had been working in paediatrics and the maternity ward for over a hundred years now, having experienced all kinds of modernisation. Being a witch meant she was able to sustain her life, at a cost of her body freezing in time almost like a vampire. She had seen both her daughter and granddaughter grow up, and there was no mistaking how much Leila looked like her mother. That was how Rachel had realised who she was, as well as some digging through her patient files – not that she was meant to, yet that had never stopped her before.
Rachel watched as Leila moved back towards her, sliding her the chocolate muffin. "Thank you, Leila."
Leila's head snapped up at the mention of her name, her body stiffening. "How do you know my name?"
"Your name tag." Rachel indicated it, raising an eyebrow at her. It wasn't the truth, but Leila wouldn't have been the wiser.
"Oh. Right." Leila glanced down at the name tag that sat just about her right breast, pushing her hair out of her face.
Rachel sipped her coffee, relaxing back in her chair and crossing one leg over the other. "How far along are you?"
"Four and a half months." Leila flushed at the realisation that the other woman had noticed she was pregnant. Rachel knew why she would be self-conscious about it. She was young, and it was apparent that a pregnant teenager, without a ring present on her finger, was still sometimes frowned upon by society in this day and age. Rachel smiled at her warmly, picking at her muffin. She wondered what gender it was, not that she had to guess. She'd had access to Leila's records, after all.
"I just got told the other day." Leila nodded, wiping down the table beside Rachel as the young couple who'd been sitting there vacated it. She glanced around at the rest of the customers in the café.
"How lovely." Rachel commented, noting how the young woman didn't seem to be thoroughly excited. She knew why. She had found out who the child's father was, and knew that Leila would need help to survive the pregnancy, even with her supernatural heritage. "You don't seem happy. Father not around?"
Leila's head whipped up at the mention of her child's father. "Pardon?"
"Is that why you don't seem thrilled?" Rachel pressed, wanting to get as much information as she could. It was what she had been good at before she had moved into medicine. She had enjoyed studying people, and their patterns, and using that to gain information. It had been challenging, but she enjoyed it.
"My manager doesn't like it." Leila sighed, glancing over at the woman behind the register. Rachel didn't like the look of her, and during her interactions with the manager had found her to be quite rude.
"You look like you need sleep." She commented, looking back at the young woman in front of her. There were dark circles under her eyes and a slump to her shoulders.
"After my shift." Leila shrugged, grabbing Rachel's empty coffee mug. Rachel got to her feet, leaving the remainder of her muffin sitting on the table.
"Where are you living?"
"I'm in a hostel at the moment." Leila admitted. Rachel knew that Leila must've thought she was being a nosy customer. "It's not too bad. It's the one just around the corner. It's a youth hostel."
"I know the place." Rachel said. The place was run down, and she knew that alcoholics and drug addicts lived there. She grabbed a napkin, pulling a pen from her back and scrawling her number on the napkin. Leila was family, whether she knew it or not, and Rachel would protect her. "I know your mother left you, but you still have family."
"My dad's in Ireland at the moment and I'm not sure about my grandma." Leila murmured, turning the napkin over in her hand.
"Give me a call if you get sick of the hostel." Rachel told her, grabbing her bag from the table and flicking her long brown hair over her shoulder.
Leila frowned. "I don't even know you."
"No, but I know you, Leila. And I know who and what the baby's father is." Rachel explained to her, a soft smile on her face. She knew that she would only be able to get through to her with kindness. "My name is Rachel."
"Are you a demi?" It was common for demis to be around the place, but Leila was slightly surprised when Rachel shook her head. "Are you supernatural then?"
"Yes. A witch." Rachel informed her. She wasn't ashamed of what she was, nor was she afraid to admit it to another. Many of the supernatural were still criticised, and many hunted, despite the leadership of the demis. "I will see you later, Leila."
It was late when Rachel finally strode into her small apartment that she shared with her partner, Ciaran Rhodes. It was a small two bedroom place that was filled with old Celtic and Nordic paraphernalia that Rachel used in her spells. Half of the kitchen cupboards were filled with exotic ingredients, all in glass jars and vials with names scrawled on the front of them. It made her glad she didn't live with any humans, the perks of having a partner who was a vampire.
She dumped her keys and bag on the dining room table that sat just to their left as they walked through the archway of the hall. In all honesty, she had hoped that Ciaran would've cooked her a nice meal, but that was rare as he didn't need to eat. He had learnt to sustain himself off of blood bags that were stored in the bottom of the fridge, and supplied by Rachel. It was the main perk of her working at the hospital, unlimited access to a decent blood supply. They didn't take much, unlike other vampires, and she didn't take it often either. As she moved into the lounge room, Ciaran was set up on the lounge, sipping blood from a mug. She could smell the stuff before she saw it.
"Hi." He glanced at her sideways, his blue eyes focused on the television in front of him. Apparently watching British dramas was a good way to pass your time when you were going to live for eternity.
"Bad day?" Rachel queried as she got herself a glass of wine from the kitchen. It was her favourite thing to do whenever she got home.
"It was alright. How was yours?" Ciaran replied, putting his mug on the coffee table and kicking his feet up, putting an arm around her shoulder as she sat down beside him on the lounge.
"I met up with a young girl who is pregnant with a pup." She told him as she sipped her wine, curling her feet up under herself after kicking off her shoes.
Ciaran raised an eyebrow. "Human girl?"
"My great granddaughter." She told him, glancing at the television and trying to discern what was playing. She didn't think she had seen this one before, but it was definitely a crime drama. "I've been following her."
"Why? And isn't she really young, what's she doing knocked up?" He frowned as he processed the information, apparently confused by the whole situation.
Rachel shrugged as she continued to sip at her wine. She enjoyed the taste and the warm feeling it left her with. It was rather calming, and she was surprised she was yet to become an alcoholic.
"I don't know. I just happened to find out from Aidan."
"The dad's from his pack?" The pieces were starting to form together in Ciaran's mind. He didn't think she would've just randomly started looking over her family tree and tracking her relatives, as she didn't like her family that much.
For as long as Ciaran had been with Rachel, he had known about her connection to the London pack. He thought it was rather cute. She helped them and provided them with medical aid when needed, in exchange for information about what was happening around the city. In turn, she kept the in the loop with what the London coven of witches were up to. It was beneficial for both parties, and it had resulted in a strong friendship being forged between her and the alphas. Most humans assumed that there were constant wars between the different species of supernatural, but most of them, especially the vampires and werewolves, had been at peace for hundreds of years now. The Grand War being an exception, and main cause for the peace.
"Sure is." Rachel told him. She didn't know if he was going to be over pleased with the idea of her staying with them, but she also knew he wouldn't argue about it. "I thought she could live with us rather than hostels."
"Well I don't know her heritage but if she's mostly human, birthing a pup would be dangerous." Ciaran had heard about what happened with humans having werewolves, and it wasn't usually a pretty story. Most didn't survive giving birth, and he knew it had something to do with the species variation.
"I know. I don't even know her heritage." She smiled tightly. She hoped that the witch blood and from what she could tell, fey blood, would aid in her surviving the birth. "Still hungry?"
"Yep." He nodded, raking a hand through his hair. He didn't usually have as much blood as he was having tonight, but work had been hard and it took its toll on him.
Rachel shifted into his lap, sliding her arms around his neck. "Fresh or packaged?"
"I can deal with packaged." He kissed her cheek. He didn't want to make it too much of a habit to drink her blood, even if he enjoyed the sweetness her species brought to it. Witch and fey blood were the sweetest, and fey was the most addictive for a vampire. It amused him slightly, considering how much the humans worried about the vampires killing them, when their blood was definitely not a top priority.
"I don't want to hear you whinge later." She called to him over her shoulder as she moved into the kitchen, pulling a blood bag from the fridge and throwing it in the microwave. "Promise I won't." He chuckled, following her into the kitchen. He was still curious about her obsession with Leila. She didn't often take such an interest in supernatural affairs, in fact it was something she had strayed away from unless the werewolves needed medical attention of some kind. "You think she's in trouble?"
Rach pulled the blood bag from the microwave, handing it to him. "I'm not sure."
"Her mum isn't around?" He asked as ripped it open with his teeth, beginning to suck out its contents.
"No." She mumbled as she stifled a yawn, leaning against the kitchen counter.
Ciaran binned the blood bag before glancing at her. He could tell she was exhausted, and that it was no doubt due to her long hours at the hospital and her constant worrying about her great granddaughter.
"Get some sleep."
Leila sighed heavily at the familiar racket of hip-hop music blaring through the hostel. Someone on the floor above seemed to really like playing bass-heavy beats at ridiculous times of the night. She guessed she shouldn't really have expected much better, considering how cheap the place was. She put a pillow over her ears, hoping she could get some sleep. The further into her pregnancy she got, the more tired she felt. The days of staying up past midnight were long gone, particularly as Leila often worked opening shifts at the café.
"Leila." The voice made her jerk up, brushing the pillow off. A brunette woman stood in the doorway – Rachel, the witch from the café earlier. She frowned slightly, a little apprehensive at the fact that she was apparently being followed.
"May we talk?" Rachel asked. Although Leila didn't trust her in the least, she nodded slowly. The woman came and sat down on the bed, glancing around the room with a disapproving expression. "It's very loud here."
Leila shrugged. The hostel certainly wasn't the best, but her income at the café wasn't exactly fabulous. She made the most of what she had, at least until her mum showed back up. A case that the police didn't seem to be taking too seriously, despite the fact that it had now been a few weeks since Mars had vanished.
"Yeah, it is a bit."
"Are you feeling alright?" Rachel inquired. Leila didn't really understand why she was so concerned. She'd been curious about her at the café too. There was something familiar about the witch, but Leila couldn't really have said what.
"I guess so. I'm not really sure what to expect with, you know, pregnancy." Leila rested a hand on her bump. "How did you know about Brandon?"
"I know the alpha of his pack," Rachel said. She had said that she was aware of Brandon being a werewolf, after all. Leila wondered if her unborn child was a werewolf too, although apparently there was a strong possibility of that considering lycanthropy was a dominant gene.
"Brandon doesn't know about the baby," she murmured, "We broke up before I knew I was pregnant."
"Oh." Rachel sounded slightly taken aback.
"It doesn't matter now." Leila didn't really want to go into it. She had fallen for Brandon hard, but apparently the feeling hadn't been mutual. He had gotten bored of her and dumped her and not long after, she'd found out she was pregnant. She suspected he wouldn't take her back, so she'd kept the information to herself.
"Do you really think you be having and raising a baby in a place like this?" Rachel chided softly, gesturing around the hostel. The beat of the bass was beginning to give Leila a headache.
"I wasn't going to raise him here." Leila shook her head vehemently. The hostel was a temporary solution, not a permanent one.
"I meant what I said before," Rachel said, and Leila was reminded of her offer for a place to stay. While she appreciated the concern, it was a little weird coming from a woman who was a stranger to her. Seeing Leila's hesitation, Rachel offered her a small smile. "You're my great granddaughter."
Although Leila was aware of the fact that witches and warlocks aged more slowly – like the fey, or rather, what was left of them – it still stunned her that a woman appearing in her mid-twenties could be that old. She examined Rachel quizzically. Now she thought about it, the name was what was familiar to her.
"You barely look older than me." A sudden thought occurred to her. "Do you know where my mum is?"
"No, I'm sorry." Rachel shook her head, dashing Leila's hopes. "I wish I did."
Leila had wondered if her mum might have turned to her family when she vanished. After all, Rachel being a witch meant that she couldn't be from Leila's dad's side of the family – Leila's dad was lowcaste fey, not something she generally disclosed. Fey were more hated than most supernatural races. After all, it had been the court fey who had risen up against humanity centuries before during the Grand War. Leila had learned all about it in History. It had led to the exposure of the supernatural to humanity, and the fall of the court fey. The less powerful who hadn't been involved, the lowcaste fey, had been spared. Yet they were still no friends of the other races, for the most part.
"You don't know me, but I will take care of you," Rachel assured her.
"What about when I have the baby?" Leila questioned, worried that she might be cast out again as soon as she had her son. So many people were trying to encourage her to have an abortion or let someone adopt the baby because of Leila's youth, but she wanted to keep him. Her decision was the only one that mattered.
"You're family," Rachel said.
"Okay," Leila said after a moment's hesitation. She eased herself up off the bed and started tossing things into her suitcase. While her dad was away and her mum missing, Rachel was the best and only option that Leila really had.