I've had this idea cooking for a long time now...I started this in like the beginning of May (May the 4th, actually XD), and finished it over a week ago. To summarize, the Jaegers are visiting Dorothea's home in Spain, and I make up her entire backstory.

Still can't have more than four characters on this darn site. -_-


"It's so hot!"

Dorothea rolls her eyes at Philip and shoves one of the extra weapons cases into his arms. "Here. And stop whining. You haven't seen this place in the middle of summer."

Meanwhile, Yuliy gets a good look around the port as he helps the others unload their bags and cases from the ship and into the car. The air reeks of fish and salt, and while he can definitely feel the back of his head of black hair burning, the heat is much more bearable than winter was in Ireland.

"Hey, we should go visit Dorothea's family in the spring," Fallon suggested from the driver's seat on their way back to the port.

Dorothea glanced at him with wide eyes from shotgun. "Um, let's not," she said hastily, prompting the others to look at her oddly.

"I thought you wrote them every few weeks," Willard remarked curiously. "You visited them each summer during college, didn't you?"

"Ah…" She ran a hand through her black hair and leaned back in her seat. "I mean, yeah, I did, but I haven't been to see them since I graduated."

"All the more reason to go see them, then!" Fallon said encouragingly. "We're gonna be stopping in Marseille in May, right, Professor? And Dorothea lives on the south coast, so we could totally drop in for a day!"

"Indeed. Unless something urgent comes up at the last minute, it wouldn't be a problem."

Dorothea sighed, crossing her legs. "Yeah, see, that's well and good, but the difference between Fallon's family and mine...his actually likes him."

Despite her misgivings, Dorothea looks quite comfortable back in her home country. All of them are dressed casually, as if they're tourists on vacation. Which they kind of are. While the boys finish organizing everything in the trunk, she looks around the port city with a hand shading her eyes, basking in the sun.

"Nostalgic?"

At the professor's question, she smiles sardonically, leaning back against the hood of the car. "It's been six or seven years, and this place looks about the same as I remember."

"This place does have a certain timeless feeling," he comments, and she sighs, a vaguely tired look in her half-lidded eyes.

"That's one way to put it," she concedes, hands in the pockets of her jeans. "To me, the only way I ever thought of it was stagnant."

After another moment, she claps her hands together and goes to the back of the car. "Okay, hop in, people. It's a bit of a trip, so get comfortable."

o0o0o

The car trip takes about thirty minutes, during which Fallon and Philip amuse themselves by playing 'I Spy' from the backseat. Yuliy is content to sightsee a bit from the window as Dorothea drives them through the maze-like city, and he wonders how she even knows where she's going if she really hasn't been here for six or seven years.

They park at a random place on the side of the road, and then Dorothea tells them they have to walk the rest of the way. So they get out, get their things, and follow her into the winding labyrinthian back alleys of tiny apartments and cafes and other small shops. Delicious smells waft from various shopfronts, and Yuliy's eye is caught by the splashes of color in flowerpots hanging from balconies and sitting on windowsills. Voices, all speaking rapid-fire Spanish, surround them on all sides, calling out to one another constantly.

To their surprise, several voices call out to Dorothea, who answers back in her perfect lilting home dialect that none of the Jaegers could hope to match, her voice warm and strong as she addresses random people like old friends and family. They welcome her back home, and whatever's left of her apprehension seems to fade a bit with each person who greets her.

Fallon bumps her with a friendly elbow. "Told you it was a good idea."

She gives him a sideways look. "No cantes victoria todavia," she remarks dryly. Don't sing victory yet, meaning approximately, Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

Finally, they stop in front of a small restaurant, and Yuliy hears more than one stomach growl loudly, including his own, at the savory aromas practically beckoning them inside.

They can't see Dorothea's expression from the back, but her shoulders rise fractionally, muscles drawing taut beneath her tank top in that way that means she's gearing up for a fight. The ease with which she responded to friendly greetings earlier is all but gone.

In one smooth motion, she swings open the door with a flourish.

The place is crowded. The sounds of people chattering back and forth and the smell of good, hot food and the colorful paints and bright lights hit them all like a truck, but no one seems more surprised than Dorothea herself as she stands stock still in the doorway.

After a few seconds, Philip pokes her in the back. "Uh, are you gonna move or wh-"

"Dorothea!"

The voice, warm with delight, seems to jolt her out of her stupor, just in time for an older woman to pull her into an enthusiastic embrace. They share the same dark, tumbling hair, the same dusky skin, although the older woman is several inches shorter, and it doesn't take a genius to guess that this is her mother.

It only takes Dorothea a moment to return the gesture, murmuring, "Hi, Mama." The Jaegers exchange small smiles behind her back.

She pulls back after another few seconds, running her thumbs along her daughter's cheekbones, brown eyes shining. "Oh, it's so good to see you! How have you been? Have you been sleeping well? Have you been eating well? You need to eat more, you're so thin-"

"Mama," Dorothea interrupts gently, though slightly aggrieved. Philip snickers behind her back, and she gives him the stink-eye, but it seems to prompt her mother to notice the Jaegers.

"Oh! You must be my daughter's coworkers. Ah…" She trails off, seeming to remember the supposed language barrier.

The professor smiles politely, saving her the trouble by saying in perfect Spanish, "Hello, it's a pleasure to meet you. I am Professor Willard, and this is my team."

Dorothea's mother looks quite surprised when they all introduce themselves with near perfect Spanish. "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you as well! We've heard so much about all of you, but Dorothea never told us you could all speak Spanish! That's very impressive."

"Actually, Mama, we all speak four or five languages fluently," she explains humorously. "Only Philip can't seem to figure out Russian."

"The verbs are confusing!"

"No, they're not," Yuliy says with a frown, and the blonde levels a deadpan glare at him.

"You grew up in Russia, you don't get a say, you dolt."

Fallon chuckles. "Now, now-" He ruffles both boys' hair, to Philip's consternation.

The back door opens, revealing a tall, middle-aged man with the same sharp teal blue eyes and aristocratic features as Dorothea, a streak of flour in his dark hair. A smile splits his face ear to ear.

"Mi princesa," her father chuckles as he hugs his daughter, who takes the nickname with good humor. She seems to relax more and more by the second. Some other restaurant patrons watch subtly with fond expressions, as do the Jaegers.

Two hyperactive blurs suddenly come charging out of the back door yelling, "Dora!"

Dorothea's eyes go wide. "Oh my gosh, you guys!" she laughs, arms open wide for her the two young boys as they hurtle into her, cackling. From what little she told the Jaegers on the car trip, they can only surmise that these must be her kid brothers, Lucas and Tomas.

Philip claps a hand over his mouth. "Pfft. Dora."

Fallon is also cracking up, and failing to hide it. Even Yuliy is having trouble maintaining his typical detached countenance.

She gives them a look over her shoulder before turning her attention back to her two brothers. "How'd you guys get so freaking tall?!" she exclaims, eyes bright with laughter. From what she told the others, the two brothers wouldn't have been older than five or six when she left, and kids shoot up like beansprouts when you look the other way.

"Well, that's what happens to kids. Has no one ever told you? They shoot up like beansprouts when you're not looking," explains a sardonic voice from the back.

And the tension is back suddenly, fizzling and popping in the air. Making her way towards the others is undoubtedly the last member of the family.

She stops several feet away and crosses her arms over her apron resolutely, cocking a hip. She does not hug Dorothea. "Welcome back, hermana."

Compared to the rest of the family, her greeting is as frigid as the Siberian tundras, and it suddenly clicks into place for the rest of the Jaegers like oh.

Dorothea seems more resigned than anything, and she places a hand on her hip. "Nice to see you too, hermanita," she responds with the same dryness, though a little less acidly.

Maya stares back with a decidedly neutral look in her brown eyes. Dorothea said that Maya was five years younger than her, but the two sisters are practically identical, save for Maya's brown eyes and deep brown hair, and the extra few inches of height that Dorothea has on her sister. Both are lithe and dusky-skinned, with well-defined aristocratic facial features, and the fiery prickliness that Maya radiates is not all too different from Dorothea with a gun in her hand staring down a horde of vampires.

"Why don't you all come in and have lunch, on the house?" their mother suggests, either oblivious to the tension or not caring about it.

At Dorothea's parents' insistence, they accept, of course; the food smells divine, and they didn't eat much breakfast either before heading out. There's a table in the back room, and some other chairs are pulled up for the Jaegers. The back room seems to be the family room—a colorful rug sits under the table, there's a small TV in front of a couch, and stairs lead up to living quarters, most likely. A few pictures decorate the walls and the low coffee table.

Yuliy pauses when he sees a familiar face peeking out from most of these pictures. One catches his eye in particular—a picture of two young girls, no doubt the two sisters, and their parents. Despite the traces of baby fat and the huge grin on her face, it's easy to pick out Dorothea from her family. She and Maya look ridiculously happy, and Yuliy wonders how this rift came to be between them.

"Go sit down with the others, Maya," her father urges, gesturing for her to join the others.

She frowns, already on her way back to the kitchen. "It's rush hour out there. I should help-"

"Nonsense, you ought to take a break for a change. Go on, go on. Here, you can sit next to your sister."

Waiting for the food is...sufficiently uncomfortable. The brothers pepper Yuliy and Philip, the closest to them in age, with constant questions.

"What're your names?"

"I'm Philip."

"...Yuliy."

"How old are you?"

"I'm thirteen, he's sixteen."

"Do you play football?"

"A little, not much-"

"You don't play football? We'll have to teach you."

"Where are you from?"

"I was born in London, he's from somewhere in Siberia-"

"Do you travel a lot?"

"Yeah, all the time-"

"What countries have you been to?"

"Um, we've been to America, Germany, France, China-"

"How are you guys so good at Spanish?"

"Lots of studying? Dorothea helps."

"Is Dora a good teacher?"

"Ha. Yeah, Dora is a pretty good teacher, but she's a bit of a nitpicky stick in the mud sometimes."

"I heard that, Philip!"

Meanwhile, Maya turns out to be a rather friendly individual and quickly strikes up conversation with Fallon and the professor. It's just more than a little awkward when she pretty much ignores Dorothea, who sits between Maya and the other Jaegers, turning curt and brusque whenever her sister supplies an answer or explanation.

o0o0o

Seagulls screech raucously in the clear blue sky above, and Dorothea curls her toes in the soft, cool sand as she wanders over to her sister, who's rummaging in a backpack.

"Not too many people today, huh?" Most people are probably working at this time, and the tourist season isn't for another month or so.

No response. She stifles a sigh, resisting the urge to roll her eyes at her sister. Absently, she scans the beach, locating her teammates in seconds—they do stand out in a crowd even without the additional virtue of being foreign.

Philip and Fallon are by far the easiest to pick out from a crowd, especially Fallon, with his bright red hair and bulky frame. They're playing football in the sand with her kid brothers, who seem delighted to have more people to play with. Fallon falls naturally into his role as a big brother, which they saw when they visited his family in Ireland over the winter, and the blonde seems to be having a good time too. Last Dorothea checked, Philip never had siblings. It's nice to see the kid grinning and laughing about something other than killing vampires or making jabs at Yuliy.

Speaking of, the young werewolf is snoozing in the shade of a palm tree nearby, shoes and socks kicked off, the blue sash he wears around his waist draped over his eyes. Despite the subtle, even rise and fall of his chest and his lax posture, Dorothea knows that he is definitely not asleep. He's the kind of fighter who can turn it on and off—when he's tired and it's safe, he'll be out before his head hits the pillow, but when he's in potentially dangerous environments, no matter how exhausted he is, he won't stop until he passes out. His weapon case is close at hand, ready for the first sign of trouble.

Willard is on the other side of the tree from Yuliy, reading something or other. Even the professor is kicking back (only a little, though, because the guy's a workaholic), shoes sitting neatly nearby. He's the only one who knows more about Dorothea's family than what she's told the other Jaegers; after all, she's probably closer to him than the others, having met him while she was still in college. She still remembers being introduced to this solemn archaeology professor from another college by one of her own professors. Meeting him spawned questions that they're still trying to figure out, but he had answers that she'd been looking for ever since that hot summer day when she was seventeen and saw a monster that shouldn't exist.

"You seem to have picked up an interesting bunch of friends."

Dorothea quirks a brow at Maya and her actually starting the conversation for once, and a smile tugs at her lips as she watches Fallon accidentally bump Philip into the shallow water. Even from here, she can hear the blonde's complaints about ruining his perfect hair while her brothers and Fallon laugh and laugh.

Willard glances up at the commotion. Yuliy pokes his head up briefly too, lifting the sash for a second to reveal a slight frown. At a quiet word from Willard, though, the boy relaxes and goes back to dozing. Dorothea catches a faint hint of a smile on the professor's face as he returns to reading as well.

"You haven't seen them at their craziest," she says dryly.

Maya uncaps a water bottle and drains about a third of it. "Hmm."

Dorothea casts around for something to keep talking about. "...You still with that boy? Daniel, right?"

Maya scowls, her voice turning cold again. "His name is Dylan, and we broke up. A year ago."

She holds back a wince, resisting the urge to shiver despite the warmth of the sun and the beach. Yuliy must be rubbing off on her. "Oh."

Her sister rubs her forehead, muttering something under her breath that sounds suspiciously like, "Idiot." Dorothea lets that one go; it was a pretty dumb move.

It feels like yesterday, when Maya was just this scrawny, sassy twelve-year-old and Dorothea was off to her first year of college. She wouldn't look Dorothea in the eye for more than a few seconds, and only stiffly hugged her at the port because their parents were there, muttering a stilted goodbye.

So much has happened since she turned and dove into that big new world. She's made friends, and lost a few. She's met this weird, outlandish family of hers, and the way they work together is something she holds dear. Yes, they fight sometimes, and they don't understand each other perfectly, but they've had so many wild, often terrifying adventures in these last few years. The smell of gunpowder and blood scared her once, but it's not so bad to share it with friends. She wonders if Maya has had anything like that.

"It seems like you guys are doing pretty good," she says aloud, watching the boys resume their soccer match. God, Lucas was only two and Tomas wasn't even one when she left for college.

When all she gets is silence, she glances over to see Maya glaring at the ground, fingers clenched around the water bottle. Irritation sparks in her chest, and she crosses her arms with a huff.

"Look, I get that you don't like me being away all the time, but acting like a child isn't going to help anyth-"

Maya interrupts her suddenly, the words bursting out of her a mile a minute.

"You know why it's doing fine? Because I was here! I was here, taking care of us, trying to work and study for school and make sure Lucas and Tomas stayed out of trouble all at the same time, while you left the minute you could to go have fun in college!" she blurts out, and not a single vampire that Dorothea has shot to smithereens could compare to her sister right now. At a total loss, she stares at her sister, mouth slightly agape, as each word hits like a bullet.

"You're the oldest! You were supposed to be there for us and take care of us! But no, you just up and left when we needed you, and I had to be the adult and pick up the pieces, so don't you dare call me a child," she seethes, her shoulders taut with badly suppressed anger. "And don't think for a second that we need you here or anything! We're doing just fine on our own!"

In a blur of dark brown hair, she turns and storms off, leaving little clouds of sand to settle with each step and Dorothea to stand in the shade, for once having no idea what to do. She sits down mindlessly, drawing her knees up to her chest, where a tight and uncomfortable feeling has settled.

"Are you okay?"

She nearly jumps at the soft, quiet voice, and she looks up at Yuliy with a probably very unconvincing smile. "I'm fine."

He sits down next to her anyways. "Do you...want to talk about it?" he offers after a few minutes.

Dorothea can't help but smile, this time genuinely, at how awkward he sounds. After all, Yuliy has never been much of a 'talk it out' person himself.

"I've just never seen her lose her temper like that before," she admits. "I guess she picked it up from having to wrangle our little brothers all this time…"

"Why was she mad?"

Guilt curls like poison clouds in her chest. "Because I left.

"I was seventeen when I saw the vampire. It was a transformed Slave in the middle of a dark alleyway. I took a shortcut on my way home from school, and I saw it there before it transformed back. He looked so normal, like nothing happened…" She chuckles ruefully. "I thought I was going crazy. But there was blood all over the place…"

She takes a deep breath, rubbing her forearms. "I wanted answers. I knew I wasn't going to find them here." With a sigh, she looks up at the clear blue sky, watching seagulls drift lazily on the warm wind currents. "Nothing ever really happens in this place.

"I was a smart kid, not gonna lie. Got a full-ride scholarship at a college halfway across the world. I didn't think twice before accepting, and not even once about my family."

"I'm sure that's not true," Yuliy objects then, his glacier blue eyes serious. "You wanted to protect your families from the vampires, didn't you? You needed more information."

She smiles wanly at his objection. "Yeah, I guess. If it was any other time, maybe Maya wouldn't have been so upset...The family wasn't doing so good. My parents had the idea to try changing the business when I was sixteen. It wasn't going well...I left right when it started to get pretty bad."

"But-"

"Let me finish," she interrupts, holding up a hand. "I wanted to be able to protect my family from the vampires, that's true. I wanted them to be able to live without having to worry about the things they don't know." She clasps her hands in front of her ankles, surveying the beach and the waters with a hint of a frown. "Our family was pretty wealthy for a while when I was young, so I'd had a relatively comfortable life growing up. I didn't really want for much." With a wry smile, she adds wistfully, "Except younger siblings.

"Even when we started losing money, it didn't feel like a big deal. We adjusted. But I always felt like I wanted more than this sleepy little town...When I saw the vampire, I was terrified, but also kind of excited." She picks at the sand, pulling out buried twigs and pebbles absently. "I guess it was pretty selfish. Maybe I should've just been content with my family, and what I had."

Yuliy thinks for a minute about that. In a way, he could relate to Maya. Mikhail had left too, when they had nothing left but each other. And there are times when he feels lost, and wishes he had an older brother to tell him what to do next. But he did it to protect Yuliy, in the most selfless way possible.

"I don't think that's selfish," he says finally. "We always want more than we can have, even when we're happy. As long as you don't lose sight of the important things, I think it's okay."

o0o0o

"Maya?"

Maya starts at the sound of her name, and she looks up to see one of the Jaegers standing there. "Oh. Er...Yuliy, right?" He nods and sits down next to her, and she glances back suspiciously in the direction he came from. "Did my sister ask you to talk to me?" she asks skeptically.

"No. I offered."

The near fluent Spanish the foreigners all speak keeps throwing her off, and she sighs. "What do you want to talk about?" she prompts reluctantly.

He pauses for a moment to gather his thoughts. He's never been particularly good with words, not like Dorothea and Willard are. Or even Fallon and Philip, when they feel like it. But Dorothea is always tough as nails and brimming with confidence, and it bothered him to see her so uncertain.

"I was a younger sibling too," he says eventually, watching as Dorothea's kid brothers (all of them) cajole her into joining their soccer game. "My brother gave everything to protect me. You would do the same for your brothers, right?"

"Of course," she answers instantly, not a hint of a lie in her voice.

"Why?"

"Why…? There is no why," she says indignantly, frowning. "They're my brothers. They're family."

He nods patiently. She blinks at him in confusion a few times before the meaning sinks in, and she scowls. "But that—how was leaving supposed to help us?" Her voice wobbles almost imperceptibly. "Especially then…" Her nails leave crescent impressions on her arms.

"It's not something we can really tell you about," he admits apologetically. "But family isn't a tie that's broken lightly. No matter what, she's still your big sister. And you're still her little sister too."

Fallon's booming voice suddenly interrupts them.

"Hey, Yuliy, get over here! We need even numbers!"

o0o0o

By the time the sun starts to go down, they'd all gotten their feet wet a little (even Willard, after they pestered him into putting down the book for a change). None of them brought swimsuits, but that doesn't stop Lucas and Tomas relentlessly splashing each other and Maya in the shallows.

Dorothea is watching Fallon, Philip, and Yuliy kick around the football when she hears her brothers calling her nickname, asking her to join them.

When she hesitates, her gaze darting to Maya, her sister looks away for a second. Dorothea is about to refuse when Maya adds snidely, not quite looking her in the eye, "Not afraid of a little water, are you?"

Unlike her earlier remarks, though, this one doesn't seem as snappy, and a smile tugs at her lips. Maybe the words of quiet, reticent Yuliy made a difference. He's a reckless loner, that's for sure, but he definitely has his moments. Dorothea would have to thank the kid later.

"As if!" she retorts, grinning. Her brothers shriek as she charges into the water after them, and Maya gasps indignantly as she kicks a small wave of water at her, snickering.

They're all more than a little damp by the time they eventually leave, trailing water everywhere. The shadows grow long as the sun nears the horizon.

"Let's go this way, it'll be faster," Maya suggests, pointing down a side street. "No cars and-"

"It won't take too much longer to go the usual route," Dorothea interrupts quickly—quick enough to draw the Jaegers' attention. "Harder to get lost."

Maya, who hasn't spent the last six years fighting vampires with her sister, just shrugs and agrees, resuming the path they were walking on. To the Jaegers, though, the difference stands out like a sore thumb, especially when she casts a tense look down the side street before following Maya. But Dorothea doesn't elaborate, so they don't push it either.

When the siblings walk through the door, their parents immediately tell them to go get changed into dry clothes, or they'll 'catch their death'.

"You too, Dorothea," their mother urges, shooing her upstairs.

"It's fine, I didn't bring any-"

"Borrow some of Maya's. You're practically the same size."

Fallon offers to help them cook dinner, and drags Philip and Yuliy into the kitchen with him. Through the thin walls and floors, they can hear the commotion from downstairs, and smell food starting to cook.

"Here. This is a bit big on me. Should fit you just fine."

Wondering briefly if that was supposed to be an insult, Dorothea nearly doesn't catch the t-shirt in time, and a pair of shorts.

"Some of these were yours anyways," Maya mutters as she digs through her drawers.

The younger sister straightens up after a moment with another t-shirt. "Hmm. This one's cute. It's mine forever now, though."

They change quickly, and Dorothea catches a glimpse of the closet before it shuts and wrinkles her nose with a smile. "Your closet's a mess," she chuckles. It's sort of a relief to know that some things will never change.

Maya snorts. "What's it to you? Besides, I just threw everything in here when Mama told me to clean up my room for a party. You know how she is."

"Heh. Yeah…" Dorothea leans back against the wall. "Remember the party we had for your tenth birthday? You'd stacked so much stuff in there, you couldn't even move from the closet when Mama was talking to you or it'd fall open."

"Don't remind me," she grumbles, wringing some water out of her hair. "You weren't much help either. All you did was stand there and laugh at me."

She holds up her hands in surrender with a smile, conceding the point. "It was pretty funny, in my defense. You should've seen your face when Mama wouldn't leave the room."

"Oh, shut up…"

Maya balls up her wet t-shirt and shorts and tosses them in a basket in the corner. Shouting suddenly can be heard from the kitchen, and Dorothea sighs.

"Better go see what they're up to before they burn down the house or something." She reaches for the door.

"I didn't mean it."

She pauses, turning. Maya crosses her arms, refusing to look her in the eye, but this time, she senses it's more out of awkwardness, and not resentment like before. "What?"

Maya huffs uncomfortably, fingers pressing into her arms. "When I said we don't need you here. I didn't mean it. It's…" She grimaces, shifting her feet and looking down. "...nice that you visited."

Her heart warms with affection. It's all she can do to stop a massive, stupid grin from stretching ear to ear on her face. "Don't hurt yourself," she responds dryly.

Maya surprises her by throwing her hands up in the air indignantly. "Ugh, you're so annoying! I mean it, okay? Jeez."

She pushes past Dorothea and flings open the door, disappearing down the stairs quickly. Shaking her head with a smile, Dorothea follows, only to stop when Maya freezes at the bottom of the stairs.

"What is it?" she asks, peering over her sister's head, and then facepalms.

Yuliy's got more white than black in his hair now from splashes of what looks to be powdered sugar or flour, and Philip's got splatters of some kind of red sauce on his cheek. Fallon seems to be the only one untouched, somehow, and he's sitting in a chair looking somewhat sullen. Willard is nowhere to be seen.

When Maya bursts out laughing, they all look up to see the sisters standing at the base of the stairs. Dorothea rolls her eyes as Maya slumps back against the wall, still cackling.

"Seriously, I look away for two minutes," she says exasperatedly, walking over to flick Philip's nose, where there's a splash of red, and he yelps indignantly. "You've got some on your cheek still, by the way. Yuliy, go get a towel or something and wash off your hair. Fallon, care to explain what I'm looking at here?"

He chuckles nervously, scratching the back of his head. "In our defense, it was an accident, and your parents seemed to think it was funny…"

"I bet they did," she deadpans. She can hear her father still laughing in the kitchen.

Philip scrubs the last of the sauce from his face. "Yuliy apparently doesn't know how a stove works, even though he can make a full-course meal over a campfire," he grumbles waspishly, and tosses the napkin into the trash.

"The buttons and knobs are confusing," Yuliy defends himself, glancing up with a peeved expression from under a washcloth.

"To a toddler, maybe."

Yuliy glares, annoyed. "You missed a spot in your hair."

"What? Where?!" He didn't, actually, but watching him freak out is amusing.

After dinner, which is thankfully less awkward than lunch, they gather in the living room for some game time before the Jaegers have to leave. Philip and Fallon keep calling her 'Dora' no matter how many times she glares at them, and her little siblings seem delighted by how annoying they are to her.

She remembers protesting against her older relatives who liked to call her Dora, saying that it was only for her little siblings. But in a way, the Jaegers are also her little siblings (excluding the professor, of course). They certainly get into a lot of trouble (a shocking amount of it not vampire related) that she has to bail them out of.

"...one time in the Caribbeans, we were at this bar-"

She snaps out of her musings. "Fallon, stop telling inappropriate stories to my brothers!"

"Oh, come on, it's nothing inappropriate. They love funny stories about their big sister. I was just gonna tell them about that time when you and that bartender-"

Dorothea growls and chucks a pillow at him. He yelps and ducks, and-

WHUMP.

Maya flops backwards off of her perch on the arm of the couch, hitting the floor with a dull thud. Everyone winces as she lies there for a moment, silent.

"Uh, sorry—hurk!" Dorothea tries to apologize, only for Maya to sit up and hurl the pillow back in her face.

In unison, their brothers shriek, "Pillow fight!"

Without hesitation, Philip grabs a pillow and whacks Yuliy in the head with it, eliciting a faintly dog-like yelp of surprise. Yuliy is quick to react, though, and he grabs another weapon and scrambles to enact revenge. Dorothea's brothers gang up on Fallon, but the redhead, having plenty of experience handling younger siblings and cousins, fends them off with admirable skill.

Dorothea catches his eye and gives him a stern 'go easy on them' expression, although there seems to be no need; her brothers are holding their own quite well, which makes her feel very proud. Meanwhile, Philip scurries away from Yuliy and tackles Fallon to the ground with a cackle, getting in a few hits before Fallon shoves him off.

She grunts in surprise when Maya chucks another pillow at her, her expression a mixture of 'aha, gotcha' and 'oh no now what'. Dorothea grins, reminded of sleepovers and scattered playing cards and spilled popcorn, and she grabs the pillow for herself.

"Oh, you've done it now, get over here!" she growls, lunging.

Maya shrieks as Dorothea digs her fingers into her sides, tickling her mercilessly. Wheezing with laughter and thrashing wildly, she grabs a pillow and whacks Dorothea with it several times weakly, giggling too hard to do much else. Another pillow suddenly comes flying from nowhere, startling Dorothea enough for Maya to get her vengeance, eyes alight with humorous malice.

Finally, things start to quiet down after everyone gets too tired to continue. The living room suffered a few casualties—namely, two lumpy pillows in a strange shade of green. The three younger siblings assure them that the pillows won't be missed.

Just then, Willard comes walking back in and stops abruptly. His 'what happened here' expression turns quickly into his 'I don't even want to know' expression, and Dorothea fights to hold back a laugh. It's not an unfamiliar look.

But he tells them that they need to leave soon, much to the dismay of Dorothea's family. They're staying in a hotel in town, as Dorothea's family's flat above the restaurant isn't anywhere near big enough to hold them all, and then leaving early in the morning.

The restaurant has closed up, and Dorothea's three younger Jaeger siblings are wandering about aimlessly in the main area of the building. She hugs her parents and her brothers multiple times each, a lump rising in her throat. She's barely even visited them over the years, and yet her brothers don't hesitate to reach out for even a second. If they behaved more like Maya did, she wouldn't blame them either, but they didn't.

When Willard knocks apologetically on the doorframe, she turns to Maya. The two sisters stand there a bit awkwardly, then share an equally awkward hug—only because their parents are watching, Dorothea tells herself, but it's warm nonetheless.

They separate, clear their throats without making eye contact, then Dorothea says goodbye (but not goodbye goodbye) one more time and hurries after her coworkers and teammates and her other family.

o0o0o

Maya breathes out a long sigh, letting her hair tumble down from its tight ponytail. It's been a while since she had an entire afternoon off. At first, she would've much rather stayed in the kitchen—cooking is her stress-relief, and boy, was there quite some stress when Dorothea first showed up out of the blue like that.

She winds a lock of hair around her finger absently, chewing her lip. Guilt is still settled in her chest for what she said at the beach.

"And don't think for a second that we need you here or anything! We're doing just fine on our own!"

Maya needed her then. She was just twelve when Dorothea left for worlds unknown, just in time for Maya to get lost in that weird world of teenagers, with gossip and makeup and high school and boys, and a failing family business to boot. A big sister, worldly and wise, would've been really darn useful then, but no, she just had to leave and-

And what? Find her own way in life? Carve a path for herself? That's just what people do. That's what people have to do, in order to be happy; they need to find their own place for themselves. That's what she's done, in her own way, here at home. She knows how it is too; she has a place in the family restaurant, and she's happy with the way things are—except for this grudge.

Maybe it's about time she lets it go. Seeing Dorothea so wildly happy with her weird, quirky teammates...Maya can pretend all she likes, but she can't begrudge her own family happiness.

She stares at her reflection in the mirror, one hand on her hip, and inspects her own features. People have always told her that she looks just like her sister, and for the longest time, it irked her like nothing else.

She's not sure anyone could mistake them now. There's this certain aura of confidence that Dorothea radiates. She is an unstoppable force. The Jaegers are lucky to have her.

Maya tosses her hair and narrows her eyes at her reflection. Who says she can't be her own unstoppable force?

o0o0o

Dorothea starts when Fallon's large hand lands on her shoulder.

"Everything okay?" he asks, handing her a cup of coffee. "You seem jumpy today."

She shakes his hand off with a dry look. "Don't startle me, I carry a knife in my pocket." Still, she takes her coffee from him, cracking a grateful smile.

He holds his hands up, grinning, and comes to stand next to her at the railing, watching the harbor bustle with activity, even though the sun has barely started to rise.

"It's hard to say goodbye, isn't it?" he says gently, and suddenly, it's like the fog seems to get a bit thicker or something, because her vision is getting a tad bit blurry.

"Yeah, well," she mutters, trying to hold her voice even while blinking furiously. "I should've spent more time with them, is all. Who knows when I'll get to-"

Fallon interrupts her. "Hey, you know the funny thing about those kinds of questions? Only you have the answer, and it'll be whatever you make it." He rests his hand on her shoulder again, this time a little gentler. "So from one older sibling to another, let's make it back home in one piece next time, yeah?"

She swallows hard. It's not a promise she has any business making, and certainly not in their line of work.

"...Yeah," she says anyways. "Next time, and time and time after that."

Philip comes ambling over with his own coffee, flopping onto the railing with a groan. "Leave it to the professor to schedule such an early ship…"

He jumps when the professor speaks up right behind him.

"It was either that or wait until tomorrow, and we have places to be," Willard states calmly, tucking his pocket watch away.

As quiet as ever, Yuliy wanders up to the railing next to Philip, his weapon slung over his shoulder. Dorothea catches his gaze over the blonde's head and mouths, Thank you.

He blinks, startled. His cheeks flush briefly before he gives a small shrug of self-conscious dismissal, copying Philip in slouching over the railing, and Dorothea smiles.

"Hey!"

She nearly spills her coffee over herself in whirling around on her heel. "Maya?"

Lucas and Tomas reach her first, though, launching themselves at her. "Heya, Dora!"

"What-"

"You didn't think we'd just let you leave without seeing you off, did you?" Maya's dry voice comes from further down the pier as she approaches, wrapped up in a few more layers to ward off the morning chill.

"We caught her leaving the house," Tomas declares cheerfully.

"And we told her we'd tell on her if she didn't bring us along!"

Maya reaches them and flicks their foreheads. "Yes, you two are brats, that has been well-established already," she snarks.

Dorothea opens and closes her mouth several times. In the background, she can hear her teammates moving to give her some space. "...It's six in the morning."

"It is. I hate you so much," Maya agrees, but with a complete lack of venom in her voice.

Lucas tugs at Dorothea's sleeve. "You should come visit more often," he says quietly, big brown eyes beseeching.

"I will," she agrees, foolishly, but she knows as long as they're alive, she'll drag herself from death kicking and screaming if she has to. "Can't get rid of me that easy."

"Promise you'll come and play football with us?"

"And go to the beach with us again?"

She promises, and when they beam up at her, it makes all the pain yet to come worth it.

Too soon, though, the ship's horn blares, and she and the Jaegers have to be on their way. Maya shoos their brothers off to wait a little ways away, and Dorothea takes a deep breath.

"Maya-"

"I guess," Maya says with a heavy sigh, crossing her arms, "if no one else is mad at you for leaving…" She fiddles with her sleeve, nudges at the ground with her toe, and finally glances up at Dorothea. "Then I can't be either. Not when you're so stupidly happy with your team of weirdos."

A tiny, hopeful smile spreads across Dorothea's lips, accompanied by an expanding feeling in her chest, so warm that she could swear for a second the sun was high in the sky.

"But you'd better come visit more often!" Maya adds sharply, not quite meeting her gaze, but this time out of embarrassment more than anything. "Our brothers will get bored with seeing the same sister's face every day."

Impulsively, Dorothea steps forward and hugs her. She hears a soft gasp from over her shoulder, and then Maya's arms come up to return the gesture, holding on tightly. She did nothing but try to push Dorothea away at first, and now she's holding on like she doesn't ever want to let go.

The ship's horn blares again. She hears her name being called, and she shoots Maya an apologetic look, at a loss for what to say. When she was about to leave for college, neither of them knew what to say at all, and so they just said nothing.

But Maya just rolls her eyes and shoves her not-so-gently towards the steps, and Dorothea realizes that maybe she doesn't need to say anything after all.

With a small smile backwards, she grabs her things and hurries up the steps to where her team is waiting on the deck, just as the ship begins to head out. The steps are pulled up, and the vessel starts to pull away from the docks. Dorothea doesn't stop waving until she can't see her siblings anymore, even as the sun starts to rise from the east in a brilliantly clear sky.

"I told you it was a good idea to visit," Fallon states cheerfully, and she gives him a look.

"You're going to be annoying about that for a long time, aren't you," she says.

"You bet!"

She rolls her eyes and pretends to get all irritable about it, and deep down, she wouldn't have it any other way.


I was reluctant to post it because I don't know how realistic Maya's (and Dorothea's) actions and behavior were. But if I don't post it, then I'll never know how realistic they are to whoever reads it, because I'll have been the only one reading it. *shrug* Oh yeah, I also wrote something like this for Fallon's family called 'No Place Like Home' if anyone's curious...I have some ideas for Philip's backstory too, but nothing concrete.

Also, I don't speak Spanish. Took three years of it in school and forgot everything as soon as I walked out of the classroom on the last day. Sorry for any errors.

Hermana: sister. Hermanita: little sister. Princesa: princess.