Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer wrote and owns the Twilight series, and if you were to read it again, I think you'd find that none of the Denali sisters are ever portrayed as vicious mean girls out to steal Edward from Bella. I wrote and have some sort of semi-claim to the following, and, for once, I tend to agree with Steph. There's no reason to depict them as such.

Note: Thank you to you-know-who for sprinkling my work with her beta dust and to my-little-secret for once again giving the seedling of my idea that extra boost it needed to flourish. You're like fertilizer for my plot bunnies. :)

Title: Matka
Tanya, Kate, Irina, Sasha, Vasilii.
Summary:A mother's love is unconditional, but what if she doesn't love you enough to begin with?

Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me. -Alice Walker, Possessing The Secret of Joy [1992]

. . . . .

It's searing, sawing through her muscles, singeing her nerves. She almost wants to go back to before, when she hadn't thought to open her eyes. Then the pain was infinite, indescribable, but unfocused. She couldn't pinpoint where it began and where it ended, and she'd quickly come to realize that she couldn't control it.

Now, she shuts her eyes again, but the vision is etched onto the back of her lids-so much light, so much color, so much vivid.

"Katrina, open your eyes for me."

No. Doesn't this woman know how it hurts? Katrina's ears are already pounding, her skin throbbing, and vision is the only sense she can shut off. She doesn't want to look, to see. She'll die of the overload.

"Dráha, listen now. If you don't give your eyes time to adjust, they will continue to burn. You have to look around, take things in. It will get better. It will stop."

A hand whistles through the air and lands on Katrina's upper arm; it's meant to be reassuring, she's sure. Some small part of her mind tells her this; the rest shrieks with the agony of too many neurons firing at once, and her mind floods with information. Her senses tell her that the hand is freezing, but internally. This cold is not the product of a chilled human, but a dead one.

While she knowsit's not, the appendage still feels hot and heavy on Katrina's arm. Her skin crawls at this woman's intrusion, and she's vibrating, she's buzzing.

"Do piče!" The hand is gone, and the hush-honeyed tones of the woman's voice are now brass, obnoxious and bang-bang-banging each curse word into her skull. How is it possible for anyone to be so loud?

"Matka!" A new voice now: not honey, not silk, but the strangled chords of a harp-oh-so-angry, but crystalline. Perfect.

"Calm down, Tatiana. She can't control it. Blow out the candles, will you? It seems the light is affecting her worst of all."

There's two of them, then; she's outnumbered. It's no difficult task to calculate the distance between herself and the nearest window-she can feel, smell, and tastethe cold seeping in through the poorly insulated cracks, frosty and bitter-fresh on her tongue-and she immediately places the women surrounding her. One stands to her left and another across the room in front of a breech in the scent of oak. Perhaps she's blocking a doorway?

The guesswork won't do, Katrina knows. She's at a disadvantage without all her faculties about her; she needs to open her eyes. First one eyelid and then the other-she expects she'll have to pry them open, but they flutter up quickly, eager to take it all in.

And there's so much.

Colors dance, vibrate, fuse for snatches of seconds, only to have her brain shift and pick out individual shades. A trail of light scratchings are littered across the ceiling—evidence of an insect inhabitant's night-crawlings.

Then there are the two faces. Sharp, perfect angles define smooth planes of flesh—one with lips turned down, the other with a wide grin curling them upward.

The snarling woman perches on the window sill, daring her with an arch of her eyebrow to try and escape.

The other woman takes her hand, and it's happening again. The growl begins in the back of her throat, shivers through her, and now, with her eyes open, she can see the sparks pass along her skin. They jolt through her fingers and along those of this woman—this woman who clasps her hand even as Katrina witnesses the pain the lightning under her skin causes, this woman who smiles through the fire.

"Moja dcéra."

My daughter.

Katrina's new mother holds on until she stops shaking.

. . . . .

He's so quiet, almost brooding. Tanya loves it. For one short moment in the the packed pub, Tanya thinks she could love him.

Thank God her sanity returns.

Still, she takes him home, spares the moment to introduce him to her family, and watches him contemplate the idea of having all three of them-four if he could convince their "mother" to join in. It won't happen tonight. Tanya can't share him.

"This way," she murmers, and even if it's only going to be her, there's no way he can be disappointed as he follows her to the bedroom.

Kate hollers after them, crass as ever, while newborn Irina complains of her hunger, wordlessly assuring her older sister that she'll get the others out of the house.

She's losing clothing before he's even shut the door behind him, and she doesn't need to look to envision his expression. Proper woman don't sleep around, but women with anydecency don't strip the way she just did, don't bare it all until safely under the covers of a bed.

Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up. Before you lose yourself.

He's smiling, but it's a shadow of a grin: she turns to face it and it slides away. He doesn't want her to know that he's already hers. He wants to be a challenge to her.

Game on.

She's playing eager, rushing across the room, and her arms are around his neck, pulling him in, drawing him in. He's got his hands in his pockets still, so she takes that extra step, hitching both her legs up around his hips, forcing him to wrap his arms around her, support her.

"Kiss me."

"Touch me."

"Love me."

He's too slow on the last part. He's all about being gentle, intimate, perfect, and as much as she wants to give in and be with him, this can't be about that.

Because she can't keep him.

So she flips and straddles him-too hard, too fast-and sinks down without hesitation.

Then he has to ruin it.

"Oh, yes, my angel. Sweet angel."

"Shh," she tells him, hoping he'll get the message. She doesn't need to hear it; she doesn't want to hear it. The words are fake, awkward, and even worse, his voice is too much, too human.

Be quiet and be faceless. Just be a body.

But he won't. He's moaning, groaning, grunting, and her hand slaps over his mouth, her nails dig in, and her eyes shut. Fast. Furious. Frantic. She's not close. She needs more.

More speed.

More friction.

More blood.

The crack of bone under her hips is a sharp reminder of what she is, what he is, and she can't pretend any longer. She opens her eyes, trains them on his.

I'm sorry.

She hates when they don't even get to finish; she likes to give them that memory.

Ripped skin, ground bone-she's naked, covered in it all. There would be tears too, if she were capable.


Sasha made no secret of her approach, and it's not her style to ask questions, to pretend she hasn't just heard what's happened.

Tanya doesn't want her there. Who would want to be seen in such a state? It's disgusting, shameful, even for a demon. "I thought you took the girls hunting?"

"Kate took Irina. I felt you might need some of my time, dráha."

"I'm fine"

"Oh, I know you will be." She hovers over the remains of the crippled wooden frame that was Tanya's bed and reaches to cup her daughter's face in one hand. "You don't like to kill them."

It's not a question, but she answers anyway. "No."

Sasha releases her hold on Tanya's face, tucks a crimson-dyed strand of hair behind her ear. "You'll think of something. You're too good, too smart, too beautiful to be . . . this." She almost expects her mother to apologize for the change, for robbing her of that pureness in humanity she can no longer grasp.

But Sasha merely stands. "And when you figure it out, you'll help your sisters, yes? You won't leave them behind?"

"Of course not, Matka."

"That's my girl. I'll go run you a bath. Lubim ta."

I love you.

. . . . .

Tanya is a lioness; her golden mane is mesmerizing, her teeth sharp and feral. Kate's like rushing water; her cool beauty sweeps breath away, but she has a deadly riptide under the surface.

She's nothing compared to them. She's handspun glass-beautiful, fragile, useless.

Irina's been like that since her change-always the smallest, always incapable, always in need of Matka's protection. She's the baby of the family.

So when she sees the child in Matka's arms, the way he clings to her, claims her, she wants to rip him apart herself. Venom streams through her body, and for once Irina doesn't feel so helpless. She's not dainty.

She's a vampire.

"What is this?" she demands of the intruders in her home, of the one in her mother's arms. There are raised eyebrows at her tone, at her stance, and Irina doesn't wonder as to why. She knows who these men are and what they're capable of.

Which is why it's so important she know why they're here.

She picks them out through the gamut their facial expressions run—Aro's jubilant smile, Marcus' impassive features, Caius' deep scowl-and it's no surprise when Aro steps forward, calming his incensed brother first with little more than a touch of the hand.

"I think it's obvious why we're here, my dear." His voice washes over her with the grating, soothing notes of condescension, and it takes all she has not to snarl at this elder vampire, this supposed king. His eyes flicker from her to the thing hunched in Sasha's arms, and Irina isn't the only one who's followed his gaze.

"Mamička"—Kate's voice is a stricken whisper, a barely exhaled hiss of a sound—"čo to je?"

Sasha remains quiet, only squeezes the little angel-demon tighter. Irina assumes Tanya will speak up, that Tanya will explain-she always does when their mother gets a little out of sorts-but her older sister says nothing. Her eyes aren't even open, but clenched shut.

"There must be some sort of mistake," Irina tells them. "She only found him, right, Mamka? You were going to turn him in?"

Silver-haired Caius sneers. "Do you really expect us to believe that, let alone that any of this comes as a surprise to any of you?"

"Well, Sasha, did your girls know?" Aro asks, though it seems to be more out of procedural courtesy. Because, really, how could they not have?

And there's no answer, no answer, no answer from their mother. Then the monster-child tilts his head upward, reaches out and grazes a hand across her cheek. "Mama? We feed now?"

"Soon," she tells him, and Aro's words overlap hers: "Unfortunately not, small one."

Irina can't begin to follow this. The way her mother snarls at the leaders of their race, places the child behind her back and growls, how these men seem to hold the sisters accountable too.

She's nothing again, because a vampire should never get as lost in their thought processes as she is.

The Volturi are conferring and she looks to Kate, begging her to step up, but Kate's lost too. The shakes have begun, and her sister's skin is flickering, sparking, and the only one whose ever been able to calm her at this stage doesn't seem to have a care right now for her three daughters.

"You will kill her, yes?"

Kate collapses, the lightning under her flesh causing her to convulse. Irina sinks to her knees and tries to reach out, tries to help her, but her focus is split. Tanya has regained herself, her leadership and she's speaking to Aro.

"You will kill her, and you mean to kill us as well?"

"Well, Tatiana, you've left us little choice. Immortal children are expressly forbidden. You know this."

She holds out a hand. Sasha has told them of his gift, has always urged them to be honest with the Volturi.

Irina wonders if her mother was honest.

"My sisters and I are innocent."

Aro smiles, intrigued by the unwavering conviction in Tanya's voice.

"You see then?" she asks him as he grips nothing but the tips of her shapely fingers, and his eyes are clouded now-a strange mixture of confusion and curiosity.

"I do. Brothers, it would seem that the cunning Sasha has indeed managed to hide the child's existence from her coven."

Irina doesn't hear the rest because their mother has finally turned to her daughters.

Lubim ta, she mouths.

The child in her arms tugs at her hair, demanding attention. She smiles at him and taps him on the nose. "Miljuem ta."

I love you most.

Then there are flames.