He had first come across the woman when he had entered into it all. He had been strapped to a cool metal table, the chill biting into his skin as the doctors rolled him through the halls of the facility that he thought at the time was a medical facility.

He had left his mate in the office across the courtyard- Leo's hazel eyes narrowed in agitation as he growled to himself, storming off back home as soon as the first doctor came out to greet him.

He hadn't known it then- but that was the last time he would see Leo for a very long time.

His head ached as they rolled him further in, through several halls and doors till he was led to a large antechamber of sorts, the room divided into eighths like an octagon.

He had spotted her then.

She had been strapped down to a bed in the room opposite him, the large window providing him with a view of her as they lifted him off the table and strapped him onto a makeshift bed.

Long black hair, a mass of perfect curls as if she had just gotten herself dolled up for a night out. She was fair with large icy cat shaped eyes and delicate features that gave her the effect of a fairy tale princess.

She was a woman of slightly above average height and as he relaxed into that makeshift bed he made eye contact with her for the first time.

Her eyes zoned in on him and he became entranced by the blue of them. He had never seen eyes so cold yet so warm, so curious yet so pained. Her lips quirked into a small smile and he found himself responding in kind.

It was only when a doctor coughed that he cast his attention away from her.

"Your name?"

"Ezra Ward."
"Middle name?"


"Any health conditions?"

"I have cancer."

"What type?"

"Stage four lung."

The doctor hummed.

"We'll take care of that." He inhaled briskly, "Miss Kelley will go over the terms with you."

He nodded to the doctor and the man turned to leave.

Ezra could only guess as to whether he was on the suppressants that had come out at the turn of the century- he had lost his keen sense of smell over the course of the past nine months.

He could scarcely recall Leo's scent, even when he laid beside him at night.

He was weak for an A-level, and it left Leo in danger of any wayward A-levels.

If he were at full strength his scent would deter any away from Leo, but Leo had told him his scent had begun to show markers of his ill health as well.

Leo was a B-level, so he was better off than an O-level, but it left him concerned still.

Leo had chided him for being worried before- Leo was taller and bulkier than even some A-levels, he could no doubt hold off any that came after him.

Indeed, Leo was only an inch shorter than he was- his mate even beat him for sheer bulk. With cropped wheat colored hair and warm hazel eyes that sparked into a wildfire when he was pissed off, his mate was a sight to be seen. When one looked at him it was impossible not to see the resemblance to the Lord of Summer, but people in cities so rarely thought of the old gods that still governed the wild places and so his resemblance often went unnoticed unless they came across a deist gathering provisions for their rural homes.

Ezra yearned to live to make his annual pilgrimage to the temple in the Harvest Valley.

He had promised Leo that he would take him to see it one day.

The doctor muttered a final statement before his departure.

"We will heal you, Mr. Ward. But there are terms that must be met."

The door closed silently behind him and Ezra turned his gaze back to the woman who had not turned her eyes away from him. She teased a rosy lip beneath her teeth, her glance sharp but not unkind.

He wondered what level she was.

Normally women who looked like her were O-level. They were delicate slips that were treasured for their regular fertility cycles and their nurturing abilities even by B-level women and the rare A-level females.

There was something off about her though- something he had only ever glimpsed in his mate.

She was too perfect, too beautiful. It was almost alarming to not be able to take some issue with her features- but no, they were beautiful by all traditional standards- flawless skin, flawless symmetry. It would have been off-putting to any male with sense.

He got the feeling not very many males kept their sense when they glimpsed her.

He used to think he had common sense.


He found himself smiling back at her when she smiled again.

I wonder what her name is...