Poor Little Thing

content notes: sharp power dynamics, forcible naming, referenced atrocities, other implications. Lho are borrowed from @lho_shivers, and this particular story is inspired by @nradiowave's artwork.

Poor little thing without a proper name sitting in the corner of a diner, sipping a cup of coffee bought with stolen money that's running out so much faster than she hoped it would. Victim-coded, trying not to let her body shake; the waitress keeps on glancing over at her, seems halfway to offering her some sort of help or calling the cops. She can't tell which, hopes it's neither.

Her horns are out—she used to have a little beanie to cover them, used to have a hoodie instead of just her button-down shirt (sweat-stained) and too-revealing skirt (grass-stained). Nearer the colonies that would be a fatal mistake, but she's far enough away that she can pass them off as an early halloween costume—she's not a lho, no sir! Just a down on her luck girl hoping that a bit of demonic luck will rub off if she does her best imitation.

The waitress swings by again, favors her with a “Hey honey, you want anything to eat? You look like you could need it.”

“No, uh, just coffee's fine.”

A snap decision, judging her wallet's contents against her aching belly. Her stomach rumbles and she hopes the waitress can't hear it.

“Well okay hun, but give me a shout if you change your mind!”

She tries to smile as the waitress bustles off. Even without a mirror she knows it looks too broken to be believable.

Lost in her thoughts, half dissociated, she doesn't notice the diner's door open, doesn't see the way the new woman's gaze slides over everyone inside or how it lingers on her. If she did she'd be out of her seat and running, or so she'll tell herself afterward; probably she'd just have frozen up, just as she freezes up when the huntress slides into the booth across from her.

Her body knows how it's supposed to react to someone like that: someone so clearly dangerous, someone so much larger than she is. It's not the leather jacket or the faintly clinking bag thrown over the huntress's shoulder, or even the shoulder holster just barely visible as she rests her arms on the booth's back; she'd be just as gut-churningly, crotch-soakingly intimidating even stark naked.

... maybe more so, she realizes with a guilty shiver.

The huntress just smiles over at her, with a look in her eyes like she can read every thought that's going through her head. She hasn't been looked like that since before she ran away. It sucks.

“Hey, hun,” the waitress chirps, “you two know each other? You want anything to eat?”

“Yeah,” she replies, not glancing away from her prey, “this is my lil' sister, Cecily. Didn't you introduce yourself, Cece?”

She could object, say she doesn't know the huntress, maybe get away, but she can't. Her body won't let her, no matter how that sick feeling churns in her stomach; she knows exactly what she is, and exactly where she fits into the hierarchy.

“Uh, no, I forgot. I'm, I'm sorry.”

“Don't worry about it, hun! So, you want anything, miss ...?”

The huntress grins. “Rhea. And yeah, I'll have a coffee and some bacon and eggs. And french toast for my sis' too, I'm sure she could use it.”

“I'm sure she could! I'll be back with that in a jiffy.”

With the waitress gone again, Rhea leans forward towards her, elbows resting on the table. Her clean musky scent tickles her prey's nose as it slowly seeps across the table, drowning out the last lingering traces of coffee.

“So, Cece,” she says the name like it's a weapon, as indeed it is, “what have you been up to? Getting lost, trying to find somewhere no one would recognize you ...?”

The lho doesn't trust her mouth to reply, so she just nods, the sudden motion making air flow uncomfortably over her suddenly-too-present horns.

“Good thing I found you then, hmm?” She doesn't move an inch in reply, and the huntress's next words are laden with menace. “... nod for me, Cece.”

Cecily's head jerks up and down, almost involuntarily, something curdling inside her as she realizes how little it's taken to make her respond to her new name.

“See, I knew you'd see it my way. Who knows who else might have found you, right? At least I,” she reaches across the table to brush a finger along one of Cecily's horns and the lho barely resists flinching away (and doesn't at all succeed at containing the blush which blooms across her body from the shameful warmth that touch conjures in her crotch), “take care of my things. And I've always wanted a little sister to keep me company on cold nights.”

Probably there's something that Cecily would want to say in response, but her brain has well and truly crashed; she hardly registers the waitress returning with food, doesn't react at all to Rhea's laughingly nonchalant chatter filling the minutes before they're alone again.

Maybe this isn't exactly what she was trying to get away from—maybe it's better than the breeding stocks, better than the guarantee of having her horns broken—but ...

“Eat up, sis. Can't let you starve yourself to death, can I?”