leave no stone unturned
leave your fears behind
He knew what it felt like to wonder if there was someone in the shadows, waiting for that one fleeting moment to take everything away, shatter the world like a bullet through stained glass. Growing up in a nomadic family, having been warned when he was little by both his parents as well as his older siblings that there were bad people after them and they needed to be careful, it was often difficult to feel the same sense of security that other beings had. Not all weres were as relentlessly hunted as his own pride, but he knows that it is a common strife which is shared among many of his own kind. However, the lion did not believe that it was only his race that was sought by the dark hunter with such a startling tenacity that left one always looking over their shoulder, wondering when the next close call might be waiting there in the shadows, unseen and unmoving yet so very far from being unfelt. He knew that each supernatural race was on the target list, the undead perhaps ranking on the same place as were-beings, the enforcers of that delicate balance between the natural and unnatural seeming to consider these two a higher threat, more of a risk to allow a time of peace or the ability to simply find some sort of temporary peace. And yet, fae were something... different. It was common knowledge among the other beings that these creatures were precariously perched on the precipice of existence and extinction, their numbers few and far in between for the fact that they not only had to worry about the hunters - some of which were just as corrupt as the common criminal or serial killer - but the undead and well. It was rumored that their blood was sweet, almost intoxicatingly so, and it made them desirable prey to those who hunted during the twilight hours, stalking the shadows in search for an unsuspecting victim to attack and drag into the darkness to serve as their death bed. Yet, despite their differences and aggressive tendencies towards one another, were they not all facing the same dangers of daring to draw breath in a world where it was often a death sentence to be anything that was not embraced and accepted as something normal, to be some ordinary individual who could so easily become invisible in a sea of others that looked, walked, and talked like all others? The lion knew why it was that the it was often a challenge to live among those who were not kin, but that did not make the were himself any less accepting of those who fought the same war as himself.
Roman's family had always been running from the dark hunters for simply being were. Yes, perhaps their numbers were large and their beasts infamous for sheer power and fury on the plains of Africa, but that did not mean that The Lionels wanted to take the chance of welcome even more trouble into their lives when they wanted the same thing that every family wanted; peace and happiness. Maybe it might have been easy for them to hunt the very beings that threatened their own existence, unleashing the predatory precision and lethality that came with the strategic ambush so often utilized by The Lionels when they would strengthen their familial bond even further by hunting animals to use as food. But, it would not end with the deaths of the hunters that trailed after them. Word would travel of their alleged murders, and more would come in their place, driven by the want for vengeance and to right some wrong they conjured up within their own minds without understanding it to be an act of defense rather than malice and hate. Like any animal backed into a corner, it was nature's way of preserving life that would trigger the "fight or flight" instinct within not only weres, but every living - or undead - being. It was the innate programming to survive and eliminate those very real threats that so often got misinterpreted for something criminal. And so, it had been the command of Roman's father that the family would never act against those hunters unless it became dire. They would not attempt to free themselves of being hunted like wild animals out for human flesh for the sake of keeping their troubles minimal. When Roman had been young, there had been a part of him that did not agree with always running, always allowing for him family to be driven from home to home, place to place simply because they would find The Lionels and surely exterminate them as nothing more than the annoyance pest those hunters saw them as rather than a quiet family only ever wanting to live in peace. The man would be lying if he said that he hadn't ever thought about going after the hunters himself, risking his own life for the hope of gifting his loved ones with a life they truly deserved. After all, never had any in his family ever brought harm to others, human or of some other race. They hunted animals when money was scarce. They worked to earn what little they could to make ends meet. But never had there been a moment in time where they'd taken a human life, or even the life of another supernatural. There had never been that appeal, that interest. His family only ever wanted to live a quiet existence between both worlds, and yet somehow that was too much to ask for.
When he had been younger, more reckless and willing to take such extreme risks like eliminating the hunters on his own, it had been tempting. There had been moments where he would find the lion in him awakening when he might catch sight of one, something that was a dangerous thing in and of itself. It had always been when the dark hunters seemed to have caught up to the pride that they were forced to pack up what little they owned and disappear like ghosts, almost as though they'd never been there at all. But there had been one time when Roman had seen one of them alone. The arrogant man had been sitting alone at sundown when they so often traveled in pairs or groups of three when they weren't all congregated together to try and create some plan or attempt to forge a trap that would only fail. The man can remember how that soft growl had rumbled in his throat, the beast surging forth behind golden-hazel eyes. How close he had come to shifting then and there, hidden from sight and his affinity began to rattled against the bars of the cage he kept it locked within. It would have been an easy kill, like a buck oblivious to his surrounding, too occupied with grazing or scenting to notice the lion that so wanted nothing more than the blood. But, his hunger had been shaken as he'd dared to wonder if it was simply a trap of some kind meant to play on the temptations so very much calling Roman to act on those primal instincts rather than thinking that what he saw as an opportunity wasn't simply a decoy, a trick that would swiftly see him regretting those brash actions. All it would really take was one wrong step, one wrong choice. One, and his entire pride could pay for it with their own lives... So, while it had been perhaps one of the hardest things for the lion to do do, he left the man live, returning to his pride's temporary residence with what little food his money from helping repair a leaking roof could afford. The next morning, after having brought the encounter to the attention of his father and Tristan, the family packed up and left in just another attempt to place as much distance between themselves and the hunter as they could. Still, to this day, Roman wonders if taking that hunter's life might have made any difference at all, if maybe his pride might have finally been able to settle somewhere and set down roots... but it was all just wistful wondering now.
That same protectiveness is found in the lion as he smiles gently upon the fae child who had been running just as he has done his entire life. It hardly mattered at all that she was fae rather than were. He would have done the same for any child, no matter their race, even if they might have been a vampire or a witch. Innocence was often taken into the unforgiving hands of the real world and crushed, often rendering a young heart once so strong and so full of light lost to the feeling of wild fear and uncertainty of everything they'd believed. Roman has always seen children as something to protect unrelentlessly against the cold and the darkness, even though it was bound to find them eventually. He hated seeing the innocence stripped of a pure heart, the man having promised himself from when he had deemed himself the protector of his little younger siblings that he would always protect the young and unscathed against all that he could manage to. If it meant slaughtering an entire council or hunting party, the were would do so. Had the officer returned, posed any sort of threat against the girl, Roman would have done as the lion in him would have for his pride. Maeve offers him a shy smile as she steps closer and he cannot help how golden-hazel eyes only seem to soften further. When she startles and he reaches out to keep her from falling, the girl reaches out in turn before smiling at the lion and dipping her small and delicate frame into a curtsey that has his heart melting under her bright innocence. Suddenly, she is throwing her arms around the lion and his heart is stolen wholly by the girl, strong arms moving slowly to wrap her into that warm and protective embrace. He can feel something forging between them, a bond that comes from nowhere so unexpectedly and yet he can feel the same love surging through him as he had for his pride, for his youngest sister Trinity... Maeve reminds him so much of those moments in his youth when he would comfort Dea and, later, Trinity whenever something might scare them. Roman knows then and there that he would die for her, this small fae child in his arms who somehow fills the emptiness in his world that he's lived with since leaving his pride. She was just as alone in this city as Roman, and while he had been content in his own melancholy, he never wanted for a child like Maeve, so gentle with her heart open and ready to embrace anyone who might show her kindness, to feel the silence that the were has long since grown accustomed to. Now that she's found him and he's found her, neither would ever feel that loneliness. He does not bother to try and make sense of things in this moment, thinking only of getting her to wherever it was that she called home.
Lifting her up into his arms, her small soprano voice reaches his ears and he smiles down to Maeve gently."Yes, little Maeve, I will take you home", he murmurs deep tenor tones in reply as he carries her out of that damp alleyway and onto the streets of the northern district, walking the way he'd come and in the direction she had been running from. It made sense that wherever she'd been would be close to "home", and so he trusts this sense of logic and hardly afforded the strangers that might give the unlikely pair sideways glances. The lion looked no more different than a father carrying his tired daughter back to their place of residence, and that was the impression he desired to leave upon those he walked past, the crowd seeming to give him a wider berth than when he'd been walking alone. Her small voice calls to his full attention once more, and though it this hotel "with all the big windows" was a description for most in the area, the mention of it being a couple blocks away helped narrow things down a little. With any luck, when they came close to it, she would be able to point him in the exact direction. It seemed unusual for her to be living in a hotel, even when Roman also called such a place as his residence. Before today, it was meant to be temporary, until he decided it was time to move to the next city or town. But, now, he was not so sure he would be leaving Sacrosanct as he gazes softly at the tired fae girl in his arms. She smiles, despite partly closed and heavy amethyst eyes, and it only has golden-hazel eyes gently as he returns that endearing gesture so tender as she says he could stay a while."I would love to play a game. Do you have a favorite game?", he says warmly, talking quietly to the girl as though she might share a secret with him meant only for the two of them while his steady strides carry them around a street corner and onto 40the Avenue, where most of the hotels seemed to tower above them, many adorning those large windows. In truth, it has been many years since last he had been able to indulge a child in games created by their wild imaginations, Trinity having long since grown out of such things before Roman left, the lioness wanting only to spar and race the storms beside the man."Are we close, Maeve? Do any of these look familiar to you?", he asks gently, golden-hazel eyed looking up to the towering structure of steel, concrete, and gleaming glass.
EVERY SECOND COUNTS BECAUSE THERE'S NO SECOND TRY