The dream came in of two forms. In the first, he was just early enough, just strong enough to get Sasha away from Martin. Away, with her heartbeat fading under his hands, until the Embrace became something desperate as he fought to snatch her back from death.
Too often, that dream descended into nightmare, leaving him cradling an empty shell, Sasha's vibrant spirit passed beyond his reach. The second dream, rare and precious, was the best. Then, it worked out as it should have. Sasha sat on the edge of the bed they'd shared, with that smile that made his gypsy blood run hot again. He took her hands in his and looked deep into her eyes, eyes that looked at him like no-one else ever had.
Childe and lover. Not unheard of in the Gangrel Clan, but rare still. His Clan chose their childer more out of admiration of spirit than from the dictates of emotion. With Sasha, admiration had grown into love and blossomed into devotion. Eternity wou ld be far too empty without her. And so he had begged Juilian for permission, and to his surprise, had been granted it, provided Sasha herself agreed.
He stroked her hair and tried to pick the best words. "I talked to Julian. He's willing to let us be together. Willing to let you come to us, to our family."
He had to explain then, about the Kindred, about what would change. Sasha stopped him halfway through. "The rest doesn't matter," she told him. "I told you: I'm all yours."
His grip tightened on her hands, almost painfully. It began with a slow seduction, drawing her against him. Sasha fit perfectly, as if whatever power that looked after the Kindred had formed her out of his own unspoken longings and set her in his path l ike a gift.
*And how cruel that power had been, to offer her and then snatch her away, to deliver her to his enemies.*
Cash stirred, distress driving him towards wakefulness, though the sun's baleful fire still climbed the sky. He shied away from memory and reached for the dream again.
Sasha's skin flushed warm under his hands, her tight clothing an unwelcome barrier. Still, he made no attempt to remove it. He could get to what he needed easily enough. Her riotous curls filled his hands and he combed his fingers through the sweet-sme lling mass.
No...even on the verge of the Embrace, Sasha would not be so passive. His lover made him shake with her teasing nips along his collarbone and the slow flex and dig of her nails along his back. A breathing man would have carried her marks in his flesh. His Gangrel resilience kept his hide intact. Just as well, Sasha was the sort who'd be unable to resist tasting the blood she'd drawn.
But what did that matter now? He had his Prince's blessing and Sasha's free consent. He didn't have to be careful any longer.
She shivered at the chill of his skin against her. He hadn't stopped to hunt after securing Julian's permission. Instead, he come to her hungry, letting the scent of the warm blood flowing beneath her skin lure him in closer. Sasha twisted and rolled them both down onto the bed, pinning him beneath her. Now, she was at his throat, nuzzling at the sensitive spot just over where his pulse would have raced. Caine, *that* would start his heart beating again if anything could... Sasha's heartbeat filled his world, so thick he could taste it. Cash pulled her in tight against him with a heart-felt groan. Her hair fell down around them like a curtain, screening them from the world.
"Now," he rasped in her ear, "it has to be now."
He should wait, but his own hunger shredded his restraint into rags. A rolling growl rumbled out of his chest. He trailed feverish kisses down her neck, coming to rest in the warm V between her breasts. The fat swollen artery twisting up from her heart pulsed. A short, sharp ache as his fangs extended, the small pain quickly being swallowed up in the hunger.
Her flesh gave way smoothly under his fangs, and her bright, sweet blood welled up. Distantly, he heard Sasha's small cry of pain and surprise, then felt her fingers lace together at the back of his neck and cradle his head to her breast. She shivered and began to rock against him.
The first salt-sweet taste drove away the rest of his control. He pressed his mouth tothe wound and drank heavily, one hand locked in her hair. His free arm curved around her waist and kept her close. At last, she slumped against him and lay still, and the blood in his mou th took on an ashy taste. A sated languor spread through him, and for a long moment, he lay unmoving, lost in the haze. At last, Cash forced himself to move. Good as this felt, it could be better. His blood, in Sasha's veins, raising her up from death...
Gently, he shifted his lover's prone form onto to the bed, carefully arranging her limbs. This was the real danger, that a potential Sire would get too caught up in the sleepy, sated feeling of a kill and not act fast enough to restore the Childe. And what Julian would do to him if he botched this...
Cash opened the veins in his wrist, rivulets spilling over and spattering across her pale cheeks. A few droplets trailed across her lips and disappeared into her mouth. Sasha's body spasmed, that small taste proving sufficient to halt her descent. Cash held his wrist against her lips, trying to still his shaking. His skin felt drawn and tight, a deep-sea roaring in his ears. Sasha's Blood had filled him almost past his limit. Now he *had* to bleed, to let some of the pressure off.
Sasha's dark eyes snapped open. She stared sightlessly ahead, small tremors jolting though her body. Then she caught the scent of blood and instinct took over. She latched onto his wrist like the lifeline it was and began to drink.
The ocean-wave sound roaring in his ears faded as she drank from him. He gasped and closed his eyes. Her lips moved against his skin, drawing him in, drinking deep of his strength, his life. Rich shades of amber and gold danced at the edges of his vision. He suddenly wished he had more, more to give her, to pour into her until she feltthe same current move through her, knew him by scent and taste, as he knew her.
And that was the other danger, that he could get lost in the rush and kill himself giving Life to Sasha. But that would leave her alone in the dark, alone, and easy prey. His will re-asserted itself, forcing rational thought through his fogged brain.
"That's enough," he whispered to her, and reluctantly disengaged.
Sasha made a soft sound of disappointment, hands reaching for him again. He caught her hands and held them down. Herlips were swollen and tinted a rich crimson. He gave in and kissed them, once, twice, tasting himself on her. The wound in his wrist, still open, bled slowly.
"Shhh," he soothed her. "Easy, now. There'll be more later."
She managed a sleepy nod, eyes half-closed. Cash absently lapped at his wrist, sealing the wound. Flesh folded over, and the tear vanished as if it had never been.
By Clan tradition, he should leave her now, after telling her the basics of her new state, to adjust and adapt on her own. But he could no more leave Sasha than he could stand under the noonday sun. Cash eased down beside her, cradling her close. He'd hunt for them both later, at the first flush of twilight, and share the spoils with her. Then, out into the city. So much to show her, teach her... And Julian. He would be waiting to see the results of this night.
Her dark eyes were bewildered, but he could sense the change taking root in her. It shone just behind her skin, giving a luster a mortal woman would envy and never know why.
"It suits you," he whispered to her, touching her cheek. He'd have to beat the Toreadors off with a club once they saw her.
She just smiled and nodded, burrowing in against his side. Her skin still felt mortal-warm, but that would change during the day as she adjusted to the change his blood had triggered in her. Sleep was best for her now, for both of them. And when they woke to the night... Cash held his new Childe close and waited for the blessed sunset.
That was how the dream ran at its best. But it always ended the same: Cash woke to the dregs of a San Francisco sunset, alone, his bed still empty. And streaked across the pillow were trails of the blood he'd been too late to give her.