title: A Momentary Twilight
series: NW (Huntress spoilers), crossover with VD (set after The Fury)
notes: rated R for sexual content. Written for ljs100 "lost" challenge.

--

The first time Thistle was lost, she was also found. Back then she was barely four foot tall, and doll like. She had a tendency to wander through San Francisco's streets after her mother brought yet another man to their dirty apartment near the wharf. She knew the area like the back of her hand, but that day she found that she had wandered out too far.

Night was falling, not that she had any problem with that, mind you, but the sky was the dark that hinted at rain. Thistle did not want to be huddled behind some dumpster where it was cold and wet, but none of the street names made sense, and the buildings loomed above like giant monsters. Even as a lamia who belonged to the night, she was still a ten year old. On top of all that, she was hungry.

"Are you lost?" She turned to see a matronly looking woman, with an umbrella under an arm, and warm brown eyes. The woman was the complete opposite of Thistle's mother, who dressed in skintight leotards and stripped at the local nightclub. The woman reached down to pat her on the head. She hated it when people commented on how cute she was, how adorable, and she had to stifle the urge to feed on the tourists that infested the area like flies. But right now, only one lone streetlight was down the corner, and in the darkness, she could smell the blood coursing in that one hand. Smiling up at her, showing a toothy grin with little, sharp teeth, Thistle reached up for her hand.

"I think my mommy's down here," She pointed down to a dark alley, with no lights, and no lighted windows in the warehouses that flanked it.

Brown eyes opened in surprise, "Are you sure?"

Thistle found that the tears came easily, spilling over to cling to her pale lashes and violet eyes shimmered with a plea. Her lower lip trembled in an imitation that startled even her, and the woman nodded, allowed the slight girl to drag her over to the alley in hasty steps.

Afterwards, the rain started, and Thistle wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, the pink washing away onto the black road. She opened the umbrella, purple with pink flowers, and ducked under it. The woman had fallen, crumpled on the road, half out of sight by a few cardboard boxes. Thistle was ready to leave when she heard a voice.

"I saw it you know," Her ten-year-old heart began to thud, and Thistle turned to see a girl her age, taller than her by many inches, hair in dark spikes. Even at ten, Raven's hair was unique. The girl flashed a full smile, and fangs shone, noticeable with Thistle's night vision.

"My name's Thistle," She said to the other vampire, "What's your name?"

She offered Raven a spot under the umbrella and her future best friend brought her back home.

--

At ten, Thistle had decided she never wanted to grow up. The tourists, although annoying, had a tendency to wander in the City at all hours of the night. She was an expert at playing the lost little girl. A few well-timed sobs will bring any of the unsuspecting into an alley where Thistle could have her fill of blood. She learned that one night she could depend on herself, she did not need to wait for her mother to be finished with her drunken boyfriends before she had a few sips to soothe her burning throat.

At seventeen, Thistle learned there were other ways to be lost. It was frightening, the speed where the other members of the gang misplaced parts of themselves within other people. She had watched, sullen, as they all fell in love. The soulmate connection, as romantic as others made it sound, was based purely on passion. The way Jez and Morgead fell all over themselves, and the way Raven's cries filtered through the walls to Thistle's room when she made love with her werewolf fiancée. It was also in the way Val watched Raven, his lust emanating from him in an almost feral way, the way his eyes narrowed as the werewolf, Donovan, slipped a hand up the willowy girl's skirt when they visited a restaurant.

Before puberty, before all of this happened, Raven had been her other half. She was the shadow, Thistle was the light, and they were the perfect pair. They hunted in sync, steps echoing, and Thistle loved her like she loved a sister. When Donovan showed, Raven trailed after him, her heat unable to be quenched. She became his shadow, his other half, and Thistle was trapped in a ten-year-old body, still thinking ten year old thoughts. She had gotten so accustomed to playing the part, to pretending that she was an innocent girl child that in mind, she never grew up. But she watched, and knew what the electricity in Val's eyes was. It appeared when Raven stepped out of the shower, slim hipped and small breasted, dark hair in that secret place. Morgead knew exactly what Val was thinking, and would make a crude remark, then the gang would return to what they were doing.

That was a year ago, and everybody has paired up now. Even Val had some Daybreaker witch to fuck. Thistle found herself missing Pierce, the boy that was never quite there in mind, but he always whispered secrets in her ear, always had jokes that made her giggle. He probably would have laughed with her at them, at the way they acted, the way the soulmate link made them betray themselves, because Pierce only loved one person – himself. She was sad when he died, the way a ten year old was sad when a playmate was gone, but she could never quite forgive him for turning his back on the gang.

Seventeen years young, Thistle knew the only option was to run away from the Daybreak house, the way she solved all of her problems in the first place. She got a ride from a Daybreaker, and found herself back in The City, back where it all started.

--

The man was a stranger. Eyes gleaming like amethysts, Thistle knew that drifters came in and out of this neighbourhood, and most of them would not be missed. It wasn't safe to kill one of the regulars in this block, but him, he would do. He deserved it, standing alone in a street that was famous for its hookers and drug dealers. Thistle dropped back into the shadows and observed him for a while, hands clasped behind her in a gesture too old for her angelic appearance.

She wasn't sure if he was short for a man, since everybody towered over her, but she was sure he wasn't as tall as Val. He had shiny black hair, and stood in such a way that caught her attention. He appeared to be looking for something. Skipping up to him, blond hair brushing her face in curls, she tugged at the side of his jeans. He looked down, lips lifted in an arrogant scowl. Somewhere inside of her, Thistle fell. The part that just turned eighteen, the part that understood what a man and a woman did, had reared its ugly head. The man had disregarded her immediately, contempt flaring in endless black eyes. Ever since she was lost for the first time, Thistle has been searching for darkness, for the thrill of that one rainy night again. She was sure that when her fangs sank into his neck, it would be different.

"Mister, mister, are you lost?" She asked in a singsong voice. She was sure the usual part she played would not work with him.

"No," He said brusquely, brushing her hands away when she clung to his legs, "Aren't you suppose to be playing with your toys?"

She cocked her head and giggled. "My mommy's not home."

Something flickered in those eyes, "Did you run away?"

"Yep," She nodded, "I don't like my mommy's boyfriend, he hits me." Her voice dropped to a whine. She waited for compassion, for anything that would change the fine features frozen into that scowl on his face. Nothing.

"Go away," He gave her a push in the opposite direction, "I'm busy."

"I'll tell you a little secret, and then I'll go," She said, going in for the kill. Her hands waved him down, and exasperated, the stranger bent down, his neck tantalizingly close to her lips. She smelled the blood, rich under the skin, and she struck, teeth sinking into flesh. He yelled, but Thistle clamped a hand over his mouth, grip like iron. She could feel his teeth against her palm, his spit as he sputtered. The rich liquid flowed into her mouth, went down her throat in a lovely flow…but something was wrong. He tasted like power, like blackberry jam, sweet and heavy.

The man had flung himself down, and then suddenly, body snapping back like a whip, he grabbed her by the waist and she flew, flew in the air to hit the wall beyond. She twisted, hands reached out, landed on two feet as nimbly as a cat, spine curled, palms brushing the ground lightly.

"That was not very nice," She hissed, but she couldn't forget the feel of his hands against her waist, the way her fangs grazed his jaw, drew more blood.

"What the hell are you?" He panted, hand at his throat, coming away with a smear of blood.

"You don't taste like a human," Thistle's eyes ran over him, "But you're not a Night Worlder either."

"If you were a vampire, I would have known," The man had wiped away the last remains of the blood, and Thistle gazed longingly at his neck. She wanted to taste his blood again. She could feel the mouthful she tasted, rich and thick within her.

"If you were a vampire, I would have known," Thistle shot back. She liked and didn't like the way this man talked to her.

"Who are you?" He asked, the first light of curiosity in black eyes like the night sky. He had long thick lashes against pale skin, and he looked beautiful.

"Thistle Galena," She announced, "You?"

"Damon Salvatore."

--

She brought him back to Morgead's apartment since he needed a place to crash for the night. She lived here this past week, ever since she came back to San Francisco. He was curious about 'her kind', and Thistle thought it was funny that he had no idea the whole Night World existed, there for the taking. Damon was also a curious thing, one moment a man and the other a crow, just like the myths. When he realized she couldn't shapeshift, he went back to a man again, and allowed her to lead him to the apartment, but not before she burst into laughter at his presumption.

He found the concept of aging fascinating. When Thistle told him that she was eighteen, he thought it was a foolish daydream, product of the overactive mind of a child. Thistle shrugged it off because of a thought that grew in her mind, grew and grew and would not let go as each minute passed beside this devastatingly handsome man.

When Damon fell asleep on the couch, Thistle went to the grimy bathroom to put forth her plan. The cracked mirror showed a face with a smudge of dirt on one cheek. She looked like a street urchin, a panhandler that was a ghost on the streets. Her blonde hair was tangled, and even a few tugs could not unravel the knots. She gave up on the hair, only to sit there and gaze at her image for a little while longer.

Thistle wanted a man of her very own. She did not want to possess him, like Val wanted Raven, body and soul. She did not want to belong to him always, latched down for eternity. She wanted to quench the lost feeling that only grew since Val woke up screaming from his very first wet dream. Her gang had left her behind, and in rebellion, Thistle still held onto the best years of her life, when she found her real family.

Ever since she saw her mother writhe on a stage for the enjoyment of it. Not because she was down on her luck, not because she wanted to feed a drug habit, but because it was a form of addiction. She loved the power it gave her, the power to pick and choose the men at her will, the power to drag their eyes down her long legs and deep cleavage. Thistle knew the real meaning of love, girls gave up everything for men, and men allowed them a minute of their precious time for a good fuck. It was a game of pretend, and she would have none of it. But...here she was, giving up her eternal childhood for a man.

Except, she said to the child in the mirror, this time, it would be different.

--

Since he left Fell's Church, Damon was lost in foreign cities. Not in the sense of direction, for he visited all of these places once. He was here for the birth of the West, he had roamed the world, looking for an answer. Lost, the concept of.

It seemed like all roads led to Stefan. With his brother, Damon knew his place. He lorded everything over Stefan, the guilt of his mother's death, the power of human blood taken because of his lack of morality. Then Stefan had to become holier-than-thou, never staining his lips with life. His brother had found his place, within the arms of a golden girl. She chose Stefan in the end, which surprised the hell out of Damon, but it didn't matter, did it? She was dead, and there nothing either of them could do about it. Still, her final choice was obvious. And Damon got nothing.

He had left that place behind only to see pieces of Elena everywhere. He found blondes in his bed more than once, girls with the same shade of hair, shape of lips, even the same voice would drive Damon to insanity. He wanted her because Stefan had her, and for the first time, he failed to conquer what he wanted – and loved her for it.

Something brushed his bare arm. A sweet scent drifted around him, the smell of rose soap and underneath, life and death. He opened dark eyes to glimpse thin lips, and long, glorious golden tresses. It was a woman beside him, naked, made from pink and porcelain and gold.

As Damon pulled her beside him, he whispered a name.

"Elena…"

But the eyes that met his were amethyst.

--

It had felt like being reborn. She had let go of the tight control she kept over her age, the Peter Pan words, one whisper each morning of "I'll never grow up." One whisper and she stayed a child – or to be specific, in between, at the brink of adolescence. She watched as her body reformed, her hair grew longer until it brushed the small of her back to make up for the growth that it never had, her breasts swelled, full and her legs lengthened. The first thing she noticed was the heat in her loins against the lapping water. The hormones of the past eighteen years had caught up, and made waves in her mind, dark thoughts. She wanted to experience, and she stepped out of the bathtub, trailing water behind her with each step.

When Damon called out someone else's name, she brushed it aside. They all had some women in their past, and the older part of her mind acknowledged it. She was only using him for his body, for what he could make her feel.

"Thistle," She said sharply, hands fumbling for the buttons on his shirt. He stopped her with one touch, fingers gently prying her own away.

"I don't sleep with children," He said, eyes heavy lidded from sleep.

"Do I look like a child to you?" She was the one who made the first move, driven by desire. She kissed like a little girl, lips pursed and closed. It was Damon who taught her the art of frenching, Damon whose hand drifted up her thighs, Damon who made her back arch in release.

--

Later, they talked about why they were in the city in the first place. There was something when he spoke about his brother that made no sense, the sneer that was different from the tone of voice. The dark slash of his eyebrows downwards showed hate, but the softening of his lips convinced her otherwise.

"With family, you can't be lost," Thistle declared, and Damon laughed before putting his mouth on her breast.

He had a ticket for an unknown destination that evening, and they were saying goodbye in the best way, with heat. The couch was rough against her shoulder blades, and his back under her hands was slick with sweat. She liked to look inside the darkness of his eyes when he came, when they grew unfocused, and a strand of silky hair would fall across his forehead. She felt like he belonged to her then, his open mouth, his ragged breathing across her ear. She never asked where he was going, and he never asked her to accompany him.

When he drove himself within her, she heard the door open. Damon rolled off her quickly, becoming a predator again in a blink of an eye. Thistle peered over the couch, to see Jez and Morgead making a racket as they stood there, surveying the room for signs of danger.

The redhead caught sight of her first, and before she could do anything, Raven peered over her shoulder.

"Thistle?!"

Damon stood up behind her languidly, every motion a flow of muscle. He was artwork in movement, deadly and purposeful. It was obvious that he was naked, and it was obvious what they had been doing before they were interrupted.

Thistle met Raven's eyes across the room. Her gaze was steady, intent, and the girl looked back with a faint smile. Mouth opened in an o, she nodded, and motioned for Jez and Morgead to leave. Morgead sputtered, but Damon slammed the door in his face, threw the lock into its place with a final click.

"Now," He turned back with a self-satisfied expression, "Where were we?"

--

"I'm off to pay my little brother a visit," He whispered in her ear as his parting words, shrugging on his leather jacket and jeans melded to every part of his legs. She would never see him again, and she did not regret any part of it. She didn't ask who Elena was, and she felt that she knew, somehow.

Besides the great sex, the pleasures of her new formed body, along with the acknowledgement of her gang members, she knew that it was for her and her alone. She couldn't run away anymore, from the disgust at the actions of her mother, from the self pity and the accusations of abandonment. Thistle knew it was time to grow up.

And perhaps, eighteen was the perfect age to be.