I have left a chunk out of it. Because alcohol-assisted nonconsensual sex is creepy to read, and alcohol-assisted nonconsensual empath sex is creepier still, and you don't want that in your head; I'm glad I've scraped it out of mine and onto the "page". So. There will be a fade to black, dear reader, and a brief intermission, and then the sun will dawn and, with it, the rest of this snippet.
“Come on, Kit. You’re done now.”
She squinted up in the direction of the voice. “Fuck you.”
He bowed with a small flourish, then took her elbow. “Come along, Kit. Let’s get you home.”
“No. I’m drinking.”
His voice was gentle, then. And that was likely why she let him guide her from the club back to her apartment. They didn’t speak; she stayed focused on a) walking and b) not crying. Will not let Alexander have the satisfaction.
He took the key from her fumbling hand and unlocked her door, pulled her inside…
She was dimly aware of the knocking on the door, and slightly more aware of the man beside her getting up to answer it. She stretched, wincing as she felt the soreness. What did we do last night? Voices. Alexander and Stephen.
She scrambled for a shirt, hauled it on, and ran for the door. Far too late, of course. Stephen in his boxers and arrogant smile, Alexander in a button-down shirt, silver striped with gold, his House colors; formal black slacks. A duffel bag.
Alexander had just a moment, a flicker of heartsickness across his face. And Katrina felt the click as his shields sealed her out, sealed everyone out. That ice, now steeled against her.
I will not cry.
She approached him with as much dignity as she could manage. ”Alexander. I… didn’t think you’d come.”
“I can see that,” he replied quietly, inclining his head.
“I thought last night-“
“You left, Katrina. Without – without a true goodbye.”
“I thought – “ She sagged against the doorframe, wobbly limbs and mussed hair. “I don’t know what I thought. I don’t know what to think.”
She felt an arm wrap around her waist from behind. Stephen. Pulling her tight against him. Away from Alexander.
Alexander looked down at her, jaw tight. “Goodbye, Katrina.”
Perhaps Telenias did better in his trials for knowing he had no Home left save knowledge. No hesitation.
You know about Stephen and Katrina later in life - or if you don't, you certainly will. But this is where things began for them, and their relationship went about as well as things that start like this can be expected to. Which is to say, not at all, continuing for a bit too long, and ending in violence both physical and mental.
I am reluctant to tag Katrina as a victim. Why? Because she returns to Stephen years later - from a position of strength, and seeking nothing but power. She did not know better on this long-ago night, because the alcohol and grief twisted her perceptions. When she returns to Stephen, she knows what he is, has to have some idea of what her future children are potentially in for, and signs on the dotted line because she thinks that it will gain her money and power. She rises above her past, and then she goes back.
So my reluctance to tag her as a victim may be as much My Issues as anything else. Certainly, as an adoptee in a less-than-ideal adoptive family, I have some abandonment issues. (Katrianna and Julia will meet their mother, oh yes, and Katrianna in particular will have some Words for her - Katrina escaped the Council's compound with newborn Julia, leaving four-year-old Katrianna behind with Stephen and his buddies.) (I myself do not have issues with my birthmom, as our situations were somewhat different.)
She's complicated. Everyone's complicated. Alexander Telenias would have you believe that he is not. It's easier that way. He will see Katrina one more time... but as that's become part of The Story Proper, you don't get to see it just yet.
And will he see Stephen once more as well, now knowing the truth of that night? Mmmmmaybe.