Please send all comments to Jane Vandermeer
Disclaimer: The following story is based on the world of "Kindred: The Embraced" created and owned by Spelling Entertainment and White Wolf. No copyright infringement is intended, and as I'm making absolutely no profit from this, I hope their lawyers will forgive me.
And So It Goes
Part 1Frank was beginning to wonder why he had looked forward to returning to work. All he ever seemed to do was fill out forms and type up reports of interviews. And that was after he had gotten off light duties! "Kohanek, you busy?" "No sir." "Good. The Sheriff's office has asked for help checking the bonafides of beneficiaries to a will before it passes probate. The boss wanted Toussaint to do it, but he's out and you're here." "More paperwork", said Frank disgustedly. "Yeah", said Kwang. "But I thought you's enjoy this one. It's Eddie Fiori's." Frank's answering grin elicited one in return. Nearly two and a half hours later, Frank had checked the identities of all named beneficiaries. All but two had criminal records, covering everything from possession with intent to supply, break and enter and tax fraud. The two clean skins simply didn't appear to exist. Sonny wandered in and sat wearily at his desk. "What's up partner, it's a beautiful day outside. You should be smiling." "Very funny Frank. Why are you so happy anyhow. You're still buried in paper." "New paper. I'm helping out the Sheriff's office by checking the bonafides of named beneficiaries to a will." Sonny sat bolt upright. "Oh shit, Frank. You weren't supposed to see that." "Yeah, Hwang said that the boss wanted you to do it, but you were out and I wasn't busy so he gave it to me instead." Sonny just sat and looked at Frank. Finally he spoke. "Frank. Don't do anything stupid. Cameron will do just about anything to prevent Brujah assets being lost to the clan. And they'd do absolutely anything they wanted to recoup any losses." ***** That night, the Primogens met in Conclave. "Thank you all for being so prompt." said Julian, taking his seat at the head of the Conclave table. "I would first like to introduce the new Ventrue Primogen, Candice Riordan." Candice Riordan was beautiful. Deep auburn hair, whiter than white skin, and deep green eyes. She was also coolly sophisticated, elegantly and expensively dressed, and largely unknown outside of the Ventrue. Lillie, once deemed the most beautiful woman in the British Isles, disliked her on sight. "Have you been long in San Francisco," asked Cameron of her. "Some fifteen years," she replied, "I work currently as a lawyer." "We welcome you to the table," said Daedalus formally, "Despite the circumstances of your appointment here." "Archon's murder!", came Cash's voice clearly. "Not murder, Gangrel. If it had been murder I would not now sit here. The only murders are those of my clan at Manzanita. By Archon's order and at Julian's hand!" "Enough." All eyes turned to Julian. "These things have happened, they cannot be undone..." "No", came Cameron's voice cutting across whatever Julian had intended adding. "They cannot. My clans people were murdered and burned at the orders of Archon Raine, and while I may have to accept your rule of this city, I do not have to apologise for Archon's death. "Archon and _ Archon was reponsible for the death of 14 Brujah. Only two had taken any part in the war, and they only by supplying arms. Four others were so young, all less than 10 years embraced. Of those few who survived, all but I were horribly disfigured by burns which never properly healed due to us being unable to feed. My brood brothers and sister were killed, my sire also. I swore vengeance to those of my clan that remained. I now dishonour that oath by not having slain Julian. But I accept that morally he cannot be held responsible for these deaths any more than I can be morally held accountable for Archon's. "My Clan died, and I don't know why Archon hated them so much that he would have done this." All the Conclave were silent. Cameron's grief obvious. "Perhaps", said Julian, "We should attend to any urgent matters then end this meeting?" There were no objections, and the meeting broke up shortly after. ***** Lillie sat at a table after the Haven had closed for the night, checking some bookwork. She looked up as someone entered the room. On seeing Frank she smiled and held out her hand. "Hello. I did not expect to see you this late." "I switch to night duty tomorrow evening so I stay up late today. I thought I'd drop past on the chance you were still here." "I'm glad you dropped in. Would you like a drink? Maybe a coffeee?" "No thanks. I'll only stay a few minutes. Actually, I've been given a couple of tickets to the Symphony Orchestra and wondered if you'd like them?" "You could interest me in one. I'd like to go with you." "Not my first choice for a night out." "The Orchestra or me?" "Stop fishing for compliments. Ok, I suppose I can suffer through the concert in your company." "Thank you so much. When is the performance?" "Wednesday evening at 8.00. Why don't you collect me? I think your Jag's better suited to this sort of thing than my old banger." "I'll see you around 7.00 then?" "I'll look forward to it." Frank left, and a shadow detached itself from the wall. "Lillie, do you think friendship with this human is wise?" "I'll risk it Daedalus." "Don't believe that Rianna is the only one of your clan unhappy with Julian's protection of these mortals." "Frank poses no threat to us. I enjoy his company simply because he is so different from most people I know." "You are not human, Lillie. You cannot live a human life, even vicariously." "I know Daedalus, but I can take refuge from my own occasionally." Daedalus spoke no more, but turned and left. He understood only too well Lillie's longing for something she could no longer have. As Lillie left the Haven an hour later, she didn't notice the car at the end of the alley, or that it followed her as she left for home. ***** Julian leaned back in his chair and stretched, reached up to loosen his tie. It had been a long night. He didn't feel for a moment that either he or Cameron were morally absolved from their actions, only that under Kindred law they were not illegal. He wondered where Lillie was, but none of the house staff could recall her arriving home. As the sun rose, Julian went to his rest. Lillie had most likely sought Haven elsewhere that night.
Part 2The street outside The Haven was a busy one at 11.00, but deserted at 3.00am on a Tuesday. Lillie drove slowly away from her parking spot outside, her thoughts on whether to expand her top shelf liquor or not. Pulling up at the lights a few hundred metres down the road she glanced sideways as the car next to her honked its horn. It was Cameron. She lowered her window. "Lillie, can we speak for a few minutes?" "The light will turn green in a moment, Cameron," she replied pointedly. Cameron made an obvious effort not to bite back a reply. "At my place, perhaps? It's not far." As she continued to hesitate, he added "You could ring and leave a message with someone that you've gone with me, but please, someone who will keep it quiet." A car behind Cameron honked agitatedly. "Will you come?" Lillie nodded, and Cameron pulled in front of her as they headed off. ***** Candice Riordan was a Ventrue first, and a corporate lawyer second. She left the Conclave and went straight to work. Her seniority in a law firm devoted mainly to Kindred business meant she was able mostly to work at night. The previous morning, she had left work feeling certain that probate on Eddie Fiori's will was only a formality. The Sheriff's Office had referred it to the Police Department, but that would not have caused any problems as it would wind up with Sonny Toussaint. The Ventrue and the Brujah might not get on very well, but the Prince's Childe was unlikely to make any waves that could endanger the Masquerade. She leaned back in her desk chair and started reading through her email. Much more than usual she thought, one symptom of her new status as Primogen. One message however caught her eye. "Candice", it read, "I regret that the task of the Police check on Eddie Fiori's will has inadvertently ended up with a human. Sonny is endeavouring to minimise damage, I shall keep you informed." "Oh no", she thought, mentally reviewing the trickier provisions. "What do I do now?" ***** Sasha and Cash were having a good week. They hadn't argued, neither had found it necessary to endeavour to call off the relationship, and they had managed to largely avoid being seen together by their Clans. "Wait a sec, keep your eyes covered", said Cash. "When can I open them? Where have you brought me?", asked Sasha. "Ok, we're there." Sasha opened her eyes to see a cramped room with a small window overlooking the adjacent building, a big bed and a cupboard, otherwise bare. Nothing declared its ownership, other than a stuffed toy from her bedroom at Julian's which sat atop the cupboard. "I figured we needed a place to be alone, better than wandering the streets all the time. I would never have taken you back to where_" Cash's voice trailed off. "Somewhere for us_ Thank you, it's great." "You can even decorate it if you wish", said Cash proudly. "I'll decorate later," Sasha replied, spinning to face Cash, her eyes dancing. "For now, come here." ***** Lillie sat sedately on a sofa at Cameron's, her eyes prowling restlessly around the room as he fetched her a glass of wine he, playing host, had insisted on giving her. She had initially wondered whether she should drink it, but then decided that it was unlikely he would try to harm her as she had left a message on The haven's answering machine as to her whereabouts. Cameron returned with an unopened bottle of red wine and two glasses. Exchanging some polite remarks, he opened it and poured them both a glass. "Mmmm. this is quite good. What winery is it?" "The Old Mission Winery. It was our last vintage, I have only a few bottles left and there is no more." "You do realise that after that night Julian told Archon that he refused to kill coldbloodedly again. That he would only fight to actively defend those loyal to the Prince against actual attack?" "Should I thank him for laying down his arms after he killed my Clan?" "You should be thankful that his actions that night ended the war. The Brujah and Nosferatu were the only Clans that had not signed the treaty, and the Brujah would have been totally destroyed without that night. It brought the city Brujah to the table." Cameron shot to his feet. "Why should I ever accept, let alone feel thankful for, Julian's actions that night, regardless of the outcome?" "Because, at some point, we have to say that enough is enough. That the fighting ends. That always means that someone will feel they lose out. It's usually the loser, regardless of how legitimate their cause. Julian would never have agreed to act had Archon not convinced him of the justness of the action." "Why would Archon Raine have sent Julian to Manazanita, whenhe would have known they played such a limited role in the war? Why did he wish to wipe them out so thoroughly that he was willing to mislead Julian, and order him to perform an act that, you claim, Julian would not wish to?" "I don't know, and the answer may have died with your Clan, and with Archon. I can say though that I consider it our of character for Archon to havedone this." "There was a war, and we don't have a Geneva Convention. Which of us could say what a powerful Ventrue Prince could have been capable of during a war. But, who knows what old scores he had to settle." "It's interesting though that Julian's family came from only across the valley. Archon would have acted on any attack on Julian as though on himself. Perhaps there is some link in the past?" "Perhaps." Hesitatingly, "Julian may know of something?" "No, I don't want him involved." "Very well." Lillie sat back and sipped her wine. It really was very good, she thought. ***** As the sun rose, the Kindred of the city sought Haven and slipped into their Rest.
Part 3The IRS was going to be pretty pleased, thought Frank. One of Eddie Fiori's beneficiaries had had a warrant served against him for non-payment of income tax. A few checks had shown he had then declared bankruptcy, and he wasn't yet discharged. This same gent was about to become very rich, courteousy of the late Eddie Fiori. "Frank, anything interesting in the Fiori will?" "You bet there is boss. Turns out, one of the major beneficiaries is an undischarged bankrupt, with an enormous outstanding tax bill." Sonny, and one of the office staff listened in. "Told the IRS yet?" "Just about to. I'll let the Sheriff's Office in on the act too. We don't want probate to go through before the IRS is ready for them." "Anything else?" "Well the beneficiaries are a grab bag of criminals, petty and otherwise. I'm about to ask Maggie to run them through our database to generate notices of any outstanding fines and stuff, otherwise I'm done. About the only other thing of interest is that a couple of the beneficiaries have no record of existence, no bank accounts, tax file number, nothing, but that's a problem for the Sheriff's Office." "How big's the outstanding tax bill?" "A cool four point eight million bucks. About ten thousand less than the inheritance. It represents about 40% of Fiori's assets." "Ouch. That'll hurt `em." Sonny spoke up, "You won't be popular." Hwang turned and snapped, "With who Toussaint?" Then to Frank, "Well done. I always enjoy keeping the IRS happy." Behind them, Maggie reached for the phone. ***** Frank was still in a good mood when Lillie arrived that evening. "Would you like a drink?" he asked as she came to his door. "No thank you. Perhaps at the Concert Hall?" "Sound good. Tell me, do you know much about classical music?" "Only what I've picked up informally over the years." "That much?" said Frank with a grin. Lillie smiled, then turned and led the way down to her car. ***** In a lamp lit room off a disused sewerage tunnel Tomas turned to Maggie. "Why do you come to me about the Brujah's problems? What do you care about their welfare?" "The police officer responsible is Frank Kohanek." "Is it just?" replied Tomas thoughtfully. "We won't have to take action, we could just let the Brujah do it." "Obviously. Where is Kohanek now." "He's attending a concert with Lillie Langtry. I expect they'll return to The Haven." "You've done well girl. I think you can leave things to Daniel and I now." ***** At Julian's, a phone rang in Julian's study, and a member of his staff answered. "Candice Riordan for Julian", said Candice, feeling far less cool than she sounded. "Candice, good evening." "Julian, I am sorry to be forced to call you over an issue which should never have arisen, but we have a problem concerning Eddie Fiori's will." "Please, go on." "Sonny was supposed to be given the task of running a check on the beneficiaries, unfortunately his Lieutenant decided Sonny was too busy and passed it instead to Frank Kohanek." "What's he found?" "An outstanding tax bill that will wipe nearly five million dollars, 40%, of Eddie Fiori's assets. Of Brujah assets." "Is it too late to do anything?" "He's already notified the IRS, and the Sheriff's Office about the IRS's intentions." "So we're into damage control to stop the Brujah from tearing him apart." "Should we worry?" "Your meaning?" "I am aware of your protection of Kohanek, but I believe he can no longer be considered not to be a risk to us. My Prince, I believe you should either embrace him, kill him or allow the Brujah to do it for you." "Thank you for being so candid, Candice. I shall consider it. In the mean time, please do not discuss this." "Sonny also knows of it." "I think I can trust Sonny to keep it quiet. Good evening." "Good evening, Julian." Julian sat and thought for a moment, then called for a driver. A few minutes later, Daniel and Cash brought the car around. Cask jumping from it to open the door. "The Haven", said Julian, and they headed off. *** They pulled up outside The Haven just as Lillie and Frank arrived there. "Cash," said Julian, "call Frank over here, please." Cash ran over to Frank, they spoke for a few moments, then Frank turned and headed towards Julian's open car door. "I figured I'd hear from you." "Be glad it's me and not Cameron." "Last time I checked Cameron wasn't a beneficiary." "Not relevant. They're Brujah assets." "The five million will shortly belong to one Mitch Seymour, undischarged bankrupt with a large tax debt. The IRS just got lucky." "Frank. They will harm you. I cannot continue to offer you any protection if you persist in taking actions that directly threaten any of the Clans. I could barely keep control of this situation when you were not a risk. I have people whose judgement I trust telling me I should either kill or embrace you." "But you don't want to." "I don't want to kill you, and I don't want the Brujah to," a pause, "We need to talk. I'll see you at your place tomorrow night." Outside the car, Daniel and Cash pretended nonchalence. Frank tried to, but the rapid beating of his heart gave him away. "Daniel will drive you home_" "Thanks, but I'll get a cab." "Suit yourself", Julian replied quietly. As Frank hailed a cab, no-one noticed the motorbike that followed him home, or paid any attention to Maggie, who was riding it.
Part 4After changing at home Frank headed in to work. A soon as Sonny spotted him coming in the door, he strode over. "Frank, you're in more trouble than you know." "Actually, I'm in more trouble than you know." "Don't play games. You hurt the Brujah, they'll hurt you. It's that simple. For now, only the Ventrue know about your role in investigating Eddie's beneficiaries. If the other Clans find out neither Julian nor I will be able to prevent the Brujah coming after you. And at one level, I would't blame them." "This is a simple matter of outstanding tax debt. Why should I treat this case any different?" "Because you're placing yourself at risk." "I can't consider my safety ahead_" "Well you should. I don't want you hurt." "Define hurt." "Dead." "Anything else?" "Cameron won't embrace you if that's what you're thinking." "No, but I think Julian wants to." A shocked expression crossed Sonny's face, and he sank back against Frank's desk. "Frank, think very carefully about what you're getting into." "I'm in no hurry." "It's not you that will decide the time frame." ***** Even the most discreet of law firms suffers occasionally from overtalkative staff. And Candice Riordan did not know, never suspected, that one of her personal assistants thought that Cameron, the Brujah Primogen, might be grateful enough for her news to pay off her debt to a Nosferatu. ***** "Tomas, Tomas, are you there?" called Daniel outside Tomas's sewer lair. The door opened. "Come inside, quickly before every Nosferatu in San Francisco knows that you're here." "Tomas," said Daniel excitedly standing in front of Tomas who sat back in his favourite, in fact the only, arm chair. "Julian intends to embrace Frank Kohanek, tomorrow night. I overheard them discussing it." "So?" "He'll no longer be a threat!" "But Julian still will be." "Julian?" "Yes. One of his human friends will be Kindred, but the other will still live. What others will he befriend? Endangering the masquerade, making a mockery of our society? Eddie Fiori understood that. That a human loving Prince is no real Prince. I don't care whether Frank Kohanek dies or is embraced, but Julian must be stopped." "Tomas, I never intended that any harm come to the Prince. I thought that getting rid of Kohanek would protect his rule. I want nothing to do with an attempt on his life!" "You're weak." "I won't do this. I won't allow you to either." "And how, weak, insignificant Gangrel Childe do you intend to stop me?" Tomas rose from his chair, and before Daniel could retreat a single pace he was on him, talons at Daniel's neck, partially severing his head, and destroying Daniel's existence. "I will have this city," declared Tomas. "I will rule it as Kindred should rule, under Kindred law not under human." Tomas wrapped Daniel's body in a worn blanket, lifted it over his shoulder and headed to the badlands for the dawn. ***** Near dawn, Maggie got off work and headed off to find her brood brother Daniel. He hadn't been at The Haven, none of the Gangrel had seen him. Nor was he at his Haven. Maggie found a phone box and called the Gangrel staff at Julian's home to see whether Daniel was there. She was told that Daniel had finished work for the night several hours earlier, and wasn't expected back. Maggie settled down to wait impatiently for his return. ***** Cameron sat looking as the red brick wall opposite his apartment grew lighter, thinking over what the loss of nearly 5 million dollars would do to his rule of the Brujah. "I'll kill him", he muttered. "But even that won't get the money back", a little voice whispered. Reluctantly, he picked up the phone to call Candice Riordan. It was almost a physical hurt to turn for assistance to a Ventrue. "Fletcher Cortez Dubcek", a cool voice answered his cool. "Candice Riordan please." "Who may I_." "Cameron. Just do it." "Certainly sir", replied the voice calmly. "Cameron", said Candice picking up the call. "How may I be of assistance?" "Eddie Fiori's will. I understand that 4.8 million dollars is about to disappear into the IRS's wallet?" "Oh no", thought Candice. "Cameron, may I ask how you know that?" "Does it matter? Is there anything that can be done to prevent it?" "I can endeavour to delay the IRS from taking action until after probate goes through, but even that may make no difference. Theoretically, as a bankrupt, any income Samuel receives is controlled by the court appointed executive of his affairs. That executive would control Samuel's access to the money preventing him from passing it to you or anyone else before the IRS took action." "You see no real way around this?" "No." "Then my Clan is 4.8 million out of pocket because of Frank Kohanek. Tell me, is Julian aware of this?" "You'll need to ask Julian." "That I will. He and his human friends. Curses on Julian and his get!" Candice's ears rang with the echo of Cameron slamming down the phone. By dawn, Cameron's flat needed some serious redecoration. ***** Frank returned home, put on a favourite cd, and prepared an enormous breakfast which he ate in the sunniest spot of his apartment that he could find. Having finally put into words what Julian had been hinting at the last few weeks, he found it was impossible to now simply ignore it.
Part 5In every heart there is a room A sanctuary safe and strong To heal the wounds from lovers past Until a new one comes along I spoke to you in cautious tones You answered me with no pretense And still I feel I said too much My silence is my self defense And every time I've held a rose It seems I only felt the thorns And so it goes, and so it goes And so will you soon I suppose ***** Maggie woke in darkness just after sunset on Wednesday evening. Daniel had not returned. Finding some loose change in her purse she rushed down to a pay phone and rang Cash at Julian's mansion. "Maggie, I have no idea where your brood brother is, when you find him tell him that if he wishes to work for the Prince he needs to be reliable. I have no idea who'll drive him tonight, Lorraina probably, and with her driving he'll just love that!" "I'll pass on the message, Cash", she promised. After hanging up Maggie thought for a few moments then, wrinkling her nose in distaste, headed into the sewer system to find Tomas. Hoping she wouldn't get lost, she followed her memorised instructions and came at last to his door. Reaching up, she pulled the concealed lever that let her into his outer room, little larger than a cupboard. "No wonder", she thought, "that Daniel always wedges it open until Tomas lets him in." Knocking for a few minutes, she reached, down this time, for another hidden latch, and let herself in. Waiting a few moments for her eyes to adjust, her nose picked up Daniel's scent, and then she saw his jacket lying over a chair, but no sign of Daniel. Suddenly, Maggie was frightened. Distrusting Tomas, she had follwed her brood brother into the conspiracy, but now he seemed to have disappeared. "Damn", she thought. "I'm out of here." And she headed home to change before checking in at work. From a bend in the tunnels Tomas quietly watched her leave. ***** Sasha woke just after the sun set on Wednesday, and after she'd dressed started throwing stuff into a duffel to take to her and Cash's new apartment. Julian walked by her door as she started packing underwear. "Going somewhere, Sasha?" "No Uncle Julian, well not really. Cash has found us a room, somewhere to replace the one he had before. I'm just taking a few things over there tonight." "Would you like a ride?" "Lorraina's driving, right?" "I take it that's no?" "Hey, I'm not to blame for her problems with me." "No, you're not. I hope you and Cash get to enjoy your place." "We will. He's coming over after you're finished tonight. You will let him off a few hours before dawn, won't you?" "I'll try." "Great. Well, I'm off. Bye" "Goodbye," replied Julian. A few minutes later, Lorraina drove Julian down the hill, Sasha's bike briefly visible ahead of them. ***** Frank woke a few hours before sunset, and wandered around his apartment playing cds, watching sport on cable, doing some long overdue housework. Keeping busy. His doorbell rang two hours after dark. Opening it, he found Julian on the doorstep. "Hello Frank, may I come in?" "Yes, sure, come in," replied Frank nervously. "Cash," said Julian turning. "Please tell Lorraina to take the car home. I'll make my own way back. After that, take a good look round, if everything's ok then take the rest of the night off. I gather you and Sasha have plans." "Are you sure you don't want me to stay around?" "Check back around later if you wish, but I'd prefer to be on my own tonight." "Right then," replied Cash. Frank closed the door as Julian stepped inside. They both sat, Frank slumped on the sofa, and Julian across from him in a chair. "Do you know why I'm here, Frank?", asked Julian quietly. "Why don't you tell me." "I want to embrace you." "Am I causing you that much trouble?" "You're causing me trouble, but that's not really the reason." "Then what it? Why do you want to embrace me, and why should I say yes.?" "Because you have the inner strength to thrive when your life extends over hundreds of years. Boredom and the inability to overcome old griefs destroys so many of us. I can't imagine you bored." "I can't imagine coping with a hundred years of grief, or of guilt." "I know you still grieve for your wife." Julian replied quietly. "I was embraced soon after my wife died in childbirth. At first, I thought that I would grieve for ever, but the pain lessens with time, and you find other things, other people, to bring joy. I felt guilt over Evelyn's death because I'd settled in Manzanita, away from any midwives or medical assistance. Archon worked at the local mission. He had befriended both of us, and we became very close after Evelyn died. Within a few months he embraced me. Despite all that has happened since then, I've not regretted that he did so." "If I thought that the next two hundred years would be like the last five, I'd rather you killed me." "They needn't be." "Are you happy?" Julian's head snapped back. "My work is challenging. I don't regret my life. But at times it can be difficult, wanting things I can no longer have. But there are things attainable now that I could never have achieved as a human. And I look forward to the future." They sat in silence for a few minutes, Frank staring resolutely away from Julian. After a few minutes, Frank got to his feet, and wandered over to the window. "There's another thing," he said. Julian stood and moved to stand next to Frank. Facing him, he reached out and gently turned Frank so he could look directly into his eyes. "What is it? You can tell or ask me anything you wish?" "I don't know how I reconcile what's important to me now with what seems to be important to you. I really believe in what I do, but I know that I'll have to compromise those beliefs." "They'll change." "Makes no difference. In choosing yes, I'd choose to compromise them." "You see yourself now as protecting people, helping the weak against the strong, by upholding the law, yes?" A nodded response. "It's not so different, it's only the people that change. I try to never allow harm to come to innocent humans, but I know that I have to protect the masquerade in order to protect the Kindred. If that means ignoring the letter of human law, then I'll do it. As does Sonny. Let's face it, you've already made that choice several times." "That's true_ If I found it really difficult to cope with, I could leave the force, I suppose." "Frank, make no mistake in this, if I embrace you, I will have the right to exercise a certain degree of control over your actions." "Like?" "Like insisting that you stay in the force, perhaps even that you kill people if they directly threaten the Masquerade. But you know already from my protection of you that I would never ask that of you lightly. I need your answer Frank."
Part 6But if my silence made you leave Then that would be my worst mistake So I will share this room with you And you can have this heart to break And this is why my eyes are closed It's just as well for all I've seen And so it goes, and so it goes And you're the only one who knows ***** Frank was silent for a few minutes, looking down at his feet. Then he turned briefly to gaze out his window before turning again to look Julian in the eyes. "I, my, my answer's yes." Julian reached out and drew Frank against him, his arms holding him tight. Frank was trembling a little, his heart racing. "Thank you," Julian said simply. "Um, when?" "Now." "Now!" exclaimed Frank, leaping back from Julian. "Right now?" Julian laughed. "Do you think you'll feel more ready tomorrow, or the day after" "Are you just worried about giving me a cooling off period?" "Frank, if I had any doubts about your decision I wouldn't follow through, but I have none. Do you doubt yourself?" "No. It's just that I'm, well, scared." "Of course you are. The Embrace will be over in ten minutes, and the change will be complete in a couple of days. Come over here, sit down." Frank followed Julian to the sofa and they both sat, Julian again on the edge so he could turn and look directly at Frank. He reached a hand up and smoothed Frank's hair back. Frank swallowed nervously and closed his eyes. Julian reached out and slipped an arm around his shoulders drawing him forward, and undoing the top buttons of Frank's shirt with his other hand. Frank put one hand up protectively, Julian caught it and held it taking it with his as that hand too slipped around Frank's back, both arms now holding him in a protective embrace. Julian drew Frank forward until Frank leaned against him, and in a moment or two relaxed against him. "Don't be frightened," Julian murmured, one hand stroking Frank's hair. As Frank's trembling stopped, Julian first held him tight, then lent him back a little and turned him to lie against the arm of the sofa. Frank looked directly at Julian, and gave a nervous smile. "Do it," he said. Julian's face lit up as he smiled, and bent towards Frank's throat. His fangs emerged, and he bit deeply into Frank's neck. Frank cried out a little in surprise at the sudden pain. Drinking greedily Julian slowly drained Frank's blood. A few minutes later Frank panicked a little, and started to fight him, but almost as soon as he had began to fight, he grew weak, and soon his labouring heart ceased beating. Julian bent back, and for just a moment he looked down at Frank, love clear in his eyes. Then, he drew his thumbnail across his wrist and placed it against Frank's mouth. Instinctively, Frank began to suckle on the blood that flowed, and for a few moments Julian allowed him to drink, then drew his arm away. Frank unsteadily sat up, and Julian extended a hand and drew him to his feet, and then into an embrace. ***** So I would choose to be with you That's if the choice were mine to make But you can make decisions too And you can have this heart to break And so it goes, and so it goes And you're the only one who knows ***** A few hours later, Cash slipped away from Sasha, and again checked around Frank's apartment building. No Brujah, no discernible scent of any Kindred other than Julian. Cash wondered what Julian's business with Frank was, but supposed it had something to do with the human's interference in Eddie's will. He didn't sense Tomas waiting in the shadows, and Tomas had delayed his approach to the building hoping to avoid Cash's check. ***** Maggie had gone in to work, and had taken note that Frank had earlier rang in sick. "Maybe he'll die," she thought, "and get me out of this mess!" She'd still not been able to contact Daniel, and he'd not shown up back at Julian's. He'd not rung her either, and she'd left a message to say how worried she was. Around three in the morning, she got a call from one of her Clan. "Maggie, have you seen Daniel?" "No, and I'm worried about him." A silence on the end of the line chilled her to the bone. "Maggie, I think we've found him. He's been dumped in the badlands, and his body has burned already." "Are you certain it's him?" "We're pretty sure, but we need you to check. Can you come down here?" "Ye, I'll come now. Does Cash know?" "We can't find him, Lorraina says he's with that Brujah. That they're close by that detective Frank Kohanek's place." Her heart heavy, Maggie excused herself from work and slipped into the night. She decided to try to find Cash, after all she knew where Frank lived. ***** Julian and Frank talked the night away. As the dawn approached Frank started to grow lethargic. "The dawn is nearly here. You're starting to your rest. I'll leave you soon, but I'll be back within two hours of sundown." "Will I be safe here?" "Yes. I've checked the curtains, and your bedroom doesn't get any direct daylight. You'll be fine." Frank stumbled to his room, trailed by Julian who sat him down and helped take off his shoes. Franks was at rest almost before he lay down, and Julian gazed down, concern on his face as he thought of how Frank would feel when he rose. "Rest well," he said quietly, then left Frank's apartment, walking until he reached a place quiet enough to shape shift into a bird. ***** After thoroughly searching the area, Maggie had found Cash's bike. Not knowing where he was, she elected to stand in the street and yell for him. A few minutes of that and Cash finally appeared from the building his bike was parked behind. "Cash," Maggie exclaimed, "Cash, it's Daniel, I think he's been destroyed, and I think I know who by." Cash had listened intently to her first few words, but then he had caught site of Julian in the distance walking away from them, followed by a Nosferatu dressed in a long black coat. "Julian," he said under his breath. "What?" Maggie said. Cash started to run, "Julian", he yelled. But he was barely in time. The Nosferatu drew a gun, and fired at Julian just as he tried to dive to one side. In the light of the rising sun, Julian's blood started slowly to spill onto the pavement.
Part 7Tomas had heard Cash's shout, and ran for his life hoping Cash's concern for Julian would prevent him from following. Cash and Maggie ran reaching Julian's side. ""Quick, Maggie," urged Cash, "drag him inot the shade." "He's dead," she choked. "We don't know that," snapped Cash, "he may just be at rest or in stupour," or destroyed his mind insisted. "Cash, we need to get him to safety before someone else arrives." "I know, and I know where to take him." Cash lifted Julian over his shoulders, and struggled back along the street where he and Maggie had come from, then into the apartment building. Banging on their door, a sleepy Sasha answered. "Julian!" she choked. "Is he all right?" "Don't you have eyes you stupid..." Cash cut Maggie off, "We can't tell until sunset tonight. But unless we can prevent him losing any more blood he'll die," he said. "Sasha, what clothes and towels do you have?" Sasha grabbed anything that looked capable of providing a temporary bandage, and Cash wadded a t-shirt up, holding it in place with strips of a towel. "Maggie, can you run to the phone, try to contact Sonny, he should be coming off shift about now. Ring the house, get Daedalus if you can. He won't be able to come, but he may be able to suggest something we should do." Maggie ran, relieved to be doing something of help. Sasha knelt on the bed, cradling Julian's head on her lap and stroking his hair. "Don't die," she murmered, "don't die Julian, I need you we all do." Cash stood at the foot of the bed, frustrated at being unable to do anything further to help Julian, or to comfort Sasha. ***** Maggie couldn't reach Sonny, but left a message on his machine before ringing Julian's house. "Hello, I need to speak to Daedalus...Well wake him up, the Prince is injured." That got the house staff moving. "Daedalus, Julian has been shot with a phosphorous gun, Cash is with him and we've prevented him from burning but we can't tell whether he's resting or in stupour or...or dead." "Where are you?" Daedalus replied, feeling far less calm than he sounded. Maggie gave the address. "Sonny is here, he came looking for Julian, I'll send him around to you. But, there's nothing that can be done. I would think he's in stupour, until he wakes he cannot feed. His survival depends on how well he has recently fed." "Thank you Daedalus." "Maggie." "Yes." "Please ring me if there is any change. And you should be prepared to feed him well when he wakes." "Yes Daedalus," she replied and hung up the phone. All through the day Cash, Sasha, Maggie and Sonny waited by Julian's bedside, but the sun set and he did not stir. ***** For the very first time as the sun set Frank woke fom his rest. Not slowly and groggily, rather instantaneously as his body responded to the new impetus his Kindred blood demanded of him. Lying still on his bed for a few moments he concentrated on how he could not hear his heart beat, on how he didn't need to breathe. On the noise of the kitchen clock, which normally he couldn't have heard. And finally, on how cold he felt and on the insistent nagging need for... something. Rising, he showered and dressed and tried to listen to some music and read while he waited for Julian. The time ticked by, and two hours after dark came and went, then three and still Julian hadn't arrived. The nagging need became an insistent hunger, and the cold grew until Frank shivered uncontrolably. "Julian," he murmured, then yelled "Julian," but no answer came. He was alone, and he was scared. ***** Tomas had run to the sewers, pausing only to grab a few possessions he headed deeper into the Nosferatu tunnels, but away from Daedalus and towards the train depot. He was certain Maggie would have recognised him, and that she'd probably feel as Daniel had. He would be a wanted man. ***** After dark, Daedalus and Lillie had arrived at Cash's flat. They too were unable to do anything to help, and so they joined the crowd of people in the cramped room and waited with them. ***** By midnight, Frank was desperate, and decided to try to contact Julian at home. "Luna residence," one of the nameless staff replied. "Julian Luna, please," replied Frank softly. "Who is this?" "Frank Kohanek." "I regret that Mr Luna is unavailable." "Please tell him I'm phoning. He'll know what it is about and I'm certain he'll speak to me." "Mr Luna is not at home." "Do you know where he is?" "I regret that I cannot say." Fuming, Frank hung up the phone, before trying Sonny, who was out, and then Lillie at The Haven, who was not there. He then tried Julian's house once more. And after that started ringing at half hourly intervals. ***** After several hours of sitting around, Sonny decided he needed to do something. "Daedalus, I'm going home to collect my mobile phone, it'll only take fifteen minutes, and it'll be handy to have it in case someone's trying to contact us." "Good idea," murmered Lillie as he left. At home, Sonny listened to his messages, inlcuding three from Frank, each sounding more desperate than the preceeding one. "You'll just have to wait for once," he thought as he grabbed his phone and headed back. The scene in the apartment had not changed. A group of people growing increasingly on edge and increasingly worried. "Why doesn't he wak, it's night?" asked Sasha. "He's in stupour child,"replied Lillie softly. "Will he wake?" "Yes," replied Daedalus, "but he may not survive even if he does. We don't know how strong he was before this happened." "He wasn't immediately killed," offered Cash. "No, but you and Maggie got him out of the sun immediately. That prevented his body burning." At that moment, Sonny's mobile phone rang. Lillie answered, pleased to have something to do, however minor. "Lillie," said a quiet voice, Frank Kohanek has been calling every 30 minutes for the last three hours wanting to speak to julian. Annoying as he is, I've not known anything like it before." "Thank you," Lillie replied. "Lillie, is there any change?" "No," she replied sadly. Laying down the phone she spoke to Sonny. "Sonny, Frank's been trying to contact Julian for the last three hours, perhaps you should ring him and calm him down?" "He'd left three messages on my machine too, I guess I had better." As the phone rang, Frank grabbed it as though a life ring to a drowning man. "Hello?" "Frank, it's Sonny." "Sonny! Please come over, now." "Frank, I can't." "Please, Julian was to come, but he hasn't. I can't contact him. Sonny, please this is important." "Frank, oh damn, ok I'm coming." Maggie's eyes opened wide at that. "You're going to that human when the Prince, your Sire is lying here?" "Yes. He had been expecting Julian back again, he may be able to throw some light on what has happened." ***** Knocking on Frank's door, Sonny stepped forward as it opened. "What's so important..." he began, his voice trailing off as he realised that Frank had been Embraced. "Oh Frank," he said, stepping forward and holding him for a moment, then shutting the door he drew Frank into his living room. "Where's Julian?" Frank choked, nearly at an end of his control. "Why didn't he come when he said he would, why won't he speak to me?" "Shhh." "Don't! It hurts, I"m cold, why isn't he here?"
Part 8Cameron meanwhile had decided to take Candice Riordan's advice to "ask Julian" about the money, so on Wednesday night, when for the second night in a row the house staff refused to allow him to speak to Julian he was not amused. He would have insisted on a Conclave meeting, but wasn't able to find any of the other Primogens to call one. As the night grew older Cameron decided that a reasoned approach was now out of the question and that protected or not by Julian, he'd take $4.8M out of Frank Kohanek's hide. At Frank's it was clear that several different Kindred had recently been there, there was even a strong smell of human blood in the air. But Kohanek too had apparently disappeared. As dawn approached, Cameron headed home for the day. ***** If Frank had had any hesitancy about the idea of feeding on blood, it had disappeared as his hunger grew. Sonny sat him down, then kneeling to one side opened his wrist and offered it to Frank who fed desperately for a few moments. Sonny patiently told him to lick the wound, figuring that even though not necessary when feeding from Kindred, it was still good to get into the habit! "What's happened Sonny, why hasn't he come?" "Julian's been injured. He's in stupor, that's the equivalent to being unconscious." "Will he be all right?" "We don't know. As time goes by, the likelihood of him recovering grows less. The blood he carries in his body goes to sustain his hold on life, and when he wakes it may not be sufficient to sustain him long enough for him to feed so his injuries will heal." Frank shuddered and buried his head in his hands. "Frank." Frank looked up, and Sonny smiled. "He had just embraced you?" Frank nodded. "His greatest chance comes because of that. He would have been very strong with your blood. That's probably why his body didn't burn immediately in the light, why Cash was able to get him inside in time. Embracing you might save his life." "I want to see him." "Of course, we'll go there now. He's at Cash's apartment, I'm afraid it's a bit of a crush, there's quite a crowd there." A short drive and Sonny and Frank arrived back at Cash's. At first when they went in the other Kindred just stared, then, Lillie came forward and hugged Frank tightly. "Don't lose hope," she said, "it's only been two nights." Frank clung desperately to her then went and sat on the edge of the bed, unconsciously stroking Julian's hair just as Julian had his the previous night. As the dawn approached Frank stretched out next to Julian and rested. ***** Tomas meanwhile was involved in the tricky issue of freighting himself east by train, unconsciously retracing the path which Daedalus had followed when coming west so many years before. ***** That night, Frank woke to see Lillie gazing down at him, then, her face lit up and he turned his head to see that Julian also was awake. "How long have I been in stupor?" Julian asked. "It's Saturday evening," replied Lillie clasping his hand. "Frank, are you all right?" he asked. "I'm fine, Sonny's been great. Will you be all right?" "Yes Frank, I'll be fine now." "You should feed, Julian," said Daedalus quietly. Lillie cut into her own wrist and offered it to Julian, who fed sparingly. "Thank you," he said when done. "There was standing room only here for a while," said Sonny, "But the others are hunting. Sasha will be most relieved." *** On a Saturday night it would have been most unusual had Lillie not come into work, so Cameron was at The Haven when it opened waiting impatiently for her. "Cameron, hello," Lillie said politely when she saw him. "Lillie," he replied quietly. "Do you know where Julian is?" "Why still at home I expect. Have you rung the house?" Cameron fumed. "yes, I've rung the house, I've rung the house constantly for the last two nights, but our Prince it seems has been unable to spare the time to speak to me. Did you know that our Clan has lost $4.8M due to the interference of Julian's human friend, your friend, Frank Kohanek?" "Have you, how careless," she replied coolly. "If you can wait another hour, I am expecting Julian here this evening, although he may have someone with him." "Thank you. I will wait." Lillie rang Julian to warn him that Cameron was waiting, and that he was angry about the money. "Did you tell him of Frank?' Julian asked. "Of course not," she replied, "And spoil the surprise!" "My Embracing Frank is unlikely to make much difference to Cameron over the money." "I know, but he'll be less able to take any action against Frank now." "I may still have to take some action to calm the Brujah down," replied Julian. "We'll be there shortly." Sonny stood up from the chair he had been sitting in. "Julian, unless this is resolved now Frank may have to deal with the Brujah's enmity for the next two hundred years." "I know, and I don't want that either," he replied. ***** Unaccountably, Frank felt nervous. He'd spent so much time at The Haven of late, but this time he was going there as Kindred, and he felt really conspicuous and exposed. "Ready?" asked Julian. "Not really. I'd rather just hide in the background until I feel a bit more certain of things." "Well you can't. You're the Childe of The Prince of the City, and you don't get to hide." Frank pulled on his leather jacket and noticing Julian's slight frown at it said, "I'm not about to start wearing suits or visiting Sonny's tailor. Not unless you really wish me to," he added, turning to grin cheekily at Julian. Julian just glared a little at him, then led the way to the car. ***** As Julian's party entered The Haven Cameron's confidants rose to their feet, and then Cameron too as he realised that Frank was now Kindred. "Well Julian, do you think Embracing him will stop my anger over Frank's actions?" "I doubt it. However I refuse to be held responsible for his actions prior to my Embracing him." "You..." Julian cut across whatever Cameron had wanted to say. "However, I am willing to rectify this as my Clan is responsible for smoothing the path of these things, and this one did escape us." Julian sat, as the Brujah sprang back to make room for him. "I shall reimburse you for the money your Clan has lost." And coolly, Julian wrote out a cheque for $4.8M dollars. "I assume you can clear this without declaring the income? Good." And with that Julian, trailed by Frank and Sonny, left and joined Lillie at Julian's usual table. "Well," said Sonny with a big grin. "I think I can confidently say that I have never cost Julian that much money in all the time I've known him. Frank, I hope you prove to be worth it." And Frank buried his head in his hands as first Lillie then Julian and Sonny laughed. *****THE END*****