btvs: i'm just a ghost

wip:give up the ghost, btvs/alpha&omega

Title: Give up the Ghost
Chapter 4:Part B: don’t think they could forgive
Prompt: #451 gemini @ tamingthemuse
Rating: FR13
Disclaimer: BtVS and all related characters are copyright of Joss Whedon and ME. The Alpha and Omega Series and all related characters are copyright of Patricia Briggs and Ace. No infringement intended.

Summary: Leah Cornick was a lot of things (most of them bad), but none would’ve guessed that she was a Slayer trapped within a wish.

The cold had crept in with the opening of the front door and lingered long after it closed. Bran listened as the Humvee back out of the drive and pulled onto the main road before he turned back to the room and his mate. Leah knelt beside the ottoman, retrieving the remote that had fallen between it and the couch, before the room was flooded with music—and he used that term loosely.

Bran’s eyes closed, brow wrinkling with the influx of sound, but the abruptness of the assault had his mouth quirking. Leah was confrontational with the rest of the pack, aside from his sons, but she saved her more subtle slights just for him. Though he supposed subtle wasn’t the right word because they were rarely that, but they could be seen by an outsider as mere mistakes. Leah was called stupid by many, but she had her moments of cleverness—it was a shamed they were always wrapped in spite.

He’d always thought Mercy learned the ins and outs of indirect hostility from watching Leah—not that he’d ever share that insight with either of them—and it made him wonder, not for the first time, if he should’ve allowed Mercy to live with them rather than Bryan and his mate. Leah had been open to the idea.

She’d wanted children for as long as he’d known her, but he hadn’t trusted her—or himself—with one so young and fragile. Bran could admit, at least himself and while the bond between them was narrowed paper thin, that he’d been more concerned with his own wants, selfish or otherwise, than worrying about Leah’s needs. In the end he’d still grown too attached to Mercy and that attachment had driven a wedge between her and his mate.

In recent months he’d watched Leah with Kara and had often been reminded of that failing. There was the strong possibility that Leah might’ve smothered Mercy as soon as they’d taught her to speak, but his mate’s acceptance of a teenager and her all her moodiness made him question his past reasoning. He was right in not allowing a teenage Mercy into their home, but a child would’ve likely been more detrimental to him than his mate.

Leah had always been insipid and vindictive, but these were traits for which he’d grown accustom. A spiteful Leah was par of the course—and nearly comforting—her passive, but obvious, malice was what allowed him to swallow the urge to assert his dominance and instead he settled himself beside her on the couch.

“You saw me throw away the hummus,” his admission of guilt was ignored which forced him to add, “I’ll pick up chickpeas the next time I’m in town.”

Silence, blissful silence.

Bran propped his sneakers on the ottoman, mindless of the dirt, before he closed his eyes and dropped his head back onto the couch. He allowed it rest there as he listened to Leah’s breathing and heartbeat. The tempo was steady, but the pace increased with his close proximity. Bran felt wariness through their bond rather than the attraction he’d stirred in her from time to time during the day and he wasn’t inclined to widen the connection.

He’d settled for emotions and snippets of thought rather than opening himself fully to her. He’d suppressed their bond as best he could, but his very presence caused the oddest reactions from her and his control still remained her own. Two hundred years as a werewolf and his mate needed a buffer. Some might find that amusing, but Bran knew better and worried over it as he studied his mate with his strongest sense. Her scent was muddled, lost beneath the tinge of arid air and sun-soaked earth. His Leah had always reminded him of autumn, brisk winds and a cooling earth, but beneath that a musk which marked her as wolf.

Summer, now she smelt of summer, and Bran’s head rolled towards her, nose twitching as he inhaled, searching for the familiar. Leah’s nose was as sensitive as his and she tended to have a light touch when applying anything with a fragrance. The lotion she preferred, rosewater and vanilla, had faded from her morning application, but her hair was still filled with honey and eucalyptus.

While these scents were familiar, they were also superficial and he took no comfort in them. He exhaled and opened his eyes to find Leah turned towards him. She watched him, careful and alert, with a stubborn lift to her chin and a wounded gaze. Her features, while still attractive, were carefully blank and Bran met her gaze briefly before broaching the subject. “You don’t smell as you did this morning.”

Her nose wrinkled, bringing attention to the dents mirrored at the tip, and Bran squashed the sudden surge of tenderness he felt whenever his mate did something he found endearing. He didn’t have enough left of his heart to risk losing another piece. The remote protested her tight grip with the crack of plastic and the sound brought his focus back to the conversation at hand. He watched her thumb circle the power button and he winced, preparing himself for another auditory assault.

“Well,” Leah surprised him with the sound of her voice rather than more music, “I’m not as I was this morning, am I?”

It took him a moment to decipher the question. “I suppose not,” he replied, the hesitation thick in his tone, and it sparked an answering aggravation within in his mate. The emotion brought with it her wolf and the familiar mint tickled his nose, but it was intermingled with all the unfamiliar that has become of his mate. “Is it permanent?”

The remote shattered, pits of plastic and wires scattering across the floor and the both of them as Leah surged to her feet. A well placed kick knocked the ottoman out from under Bran’s feet and slide it across the floor and into the entertainment center. The television rocked, dangerously close to tipping over, but Bran kept his attention on Leah and the rage that ate along his skin.

“You want her back?” Her voice pitched low, “You care for her?”

“Careful,” Bran warned, his frustration making the word a growl.

“Funny way of showing it, husband-mine.” He frowned, body slouching further down on the couch as Leah raged—as she often did—above him. “When did you suddenly decide to give a damn?”

He could forgive open hostility, but a direct challenge couldn’t be ignored—mate or not—and her last barb brought him to his feet. Leah’s chin lifted in answer to that challenge rather than backing up, or down, as she usually did when he finally reacted to her taunts. There was no apology in her gaze or meek words seeking forgiveness for losing her temper. Her harsh panting matched his and the eyes that gazed up at him were narrowed and rust-colored.

“You think she’s gone? Nope,” Leah tapped the side of her head, “still here.”

“You’re not her!” Bran returned her snarl with one of his own.

“Unfortunately, for the both of us, I am.” She snapped before her voice turned honey sweet, “Perhaps if you could remove your head from your ass for just a moment. You’d notice that!”

Her scent sharpened with her anger, brought with it a citrus edge, and Bran focused on that while doing his best to ignore the insult. The Beast stirred, both in interest and irritation with their mate, and Bran took a step back from Leah. He felt it push at the cage he used to contain it, but ever since Mariposa he knew how flawed that cage actually was and how cunning the Beast could be, but for the moment he seemed most interested in Leah than tearing a bloody trail through Aspen Creek.

The bond between them snapped into place, the Beast forcing them to reconnect and Bran felt Leah’s wolf snarl to life between them. Its presence resonated in his bones and Bran realized with a wince that Leah’s wolf felt old—not unlike his or Asil’s. The white around her irises became visible and Bran could taste her pulse on her his tongue. She felt the Beast and, for a brief moment, she was the hare skirting across his path as fear stole her breath.

While Leah wasn’t old enough to know what he was before, she had heard the stories, but as quickly as the fear had come it slipped away. Her wolf wasn’t quelled by his Beast—not anymore—and there was a steadiness in his mate that hadn’t been there before, but he’d grown accustomed to the stubbornness a long time ago. Her mouth quirked, amused by his sudden change in thought, and Bran knew then that she wasn’t Leah, not entirely, but she wasn’t a doppelganger from tales of old either

I’m missing the beard.” She shoved the thought into his mind and it brought with it images from a forgotten episode of Star Trek. The television show she’d bonded with Tag over when he’d declared she couldn’t be all bad if she liked Leonard Nimoy and Leah ended the tirade with what she imaged she’d look like with a goatee.

The absurdness of it made him smile down at her. The tenderness was back, but Leah caught his hand before he could squash it beneath his will. She gazed up at him, trusting in his control, and interlocked their fingers so that he’d have to struggle to get free. Her mouth curved inward and her gazed dropped to watch the pulse in his throat and she fed one hunger with another as her scent changed, her arousal adding a familiar spicy note.

Callused fingers caught a lock of hair that had freed itself from her braid and he tucked it behind her ear. His fingers slipped around the back of her neck and she took a step back even as her heart sped up at the feel of his touch. Her eyes closed and he had the oddest sense that she was counting in her head. Bran felt the presence of her wolf lessen—impressive for one as young as she against something as old as it—and the eyes she opened were green.

A brow arched and she used her grip on his hand to drag him back towards the couch. She sat, tugging him down next to her while she tucked a leg up underneath herself so that they were similar in height while seated. It was dominance move, one Leah had never played with him before, and it inclined his head. “I think we’ve had enough truth for the day.”

The statement tasted like and order and it cause a note of discord in his reply, “Have we?”

“I know you prefer the truth. All of it at once,” a shrug lifted her shoulder, “But my control of her is tenuous and my life as Buffy wasn’t an easy one.”

Bran settled back against the couch, understanding her reasoning, and countered, “I expect I can suffer through a few days of discussion,” he felt the tension fade from her through their bond, “However there will be several discussions.”

“Most of them will likely end as badly as this one began,” the false note of sweetness was back in her voice, but she spoke only the truth.

Bran nodded his agreement, “Perhaps because I need to remove my head from ,” he frowned as if he’d tasted something bitter, “my ass.”

“I sincerely doubt you’d get that done in just a few days of talking,” she smirked, “I mean it’s been up there for centuries.”

His brows rose towards his hair line, “Leah,” but Bran’s quiet utterance of her name was his only retort.

Her smile spread wider, completely unrepentant, as she requested, “Sing for me.”

There was a misleading cheerfulness to her demeanor and Bran relied more heavily on the bond to read his mate. Leah had always broadcasted her emotions, good or bad, but now she seemed focused on putting on a brave front as her wolf pushed at the barriers of her control. He hummed a few chords before slipping into a song he hadn’t sung since a time when he needed to barter for food and housing. It was about change, in life and season, comparing the two in a humorous way.

Leah settled herself against him and Bran knew, as he’d once had known when the crows spoke to him, that change had come. He didn’t want it, but he knew that life rarely cared about things such as want. He just hoped he didn’t cause his mate more pain when he resisted it—and her.
I think I hurt something with the epic flailing this caused. I had to back track and read the previous chapter since I've been a bit absent from LJ and IT'S ALL SO WONDERFUL!!

Especially since I'm rereading all of the series for inspiration.

Big hugs
Bran gave me fits with this scene so I'm glad you liked it! It's posted on AO3 and TtH in much easier to read chapters, but LJ defintely gets the most recent scenes.

I reread the entire series before I started writing this story to see if I could handle it. I adore Mercy and Anna is starting to grow on me. :)