Disclaimer: the characters of Kindred, the Embraced are the property of Spelling Entertainment and are used here without permission. No profit has been made from this work, and no infringement of copyright is intended. Further disclaimers: This story also makes use of terms and concepts used in Vampire, the Masquerade, the Storytelling game produced by White Wolf Game Studios. No challenge to said copyright is intended. This story contains scenes of detailed sensuality, between two consenting adult females. If you are a) below the legal age in your area to view adult material, b) uncomfortable with sensual situations and/or same sex pairings, c) all of the above, turn back now. ....now for our feature presentation.

STEEL ROSES
A Kindred, the Embraced story
by Jacynthe Demorae

Lily found Sasha sprawled out behind her desk at the Haven. The Toreador Primogen raised an eyebrow, setting her beaded evening bag on the priceless antique table beside the door. Automatically, she brushed her fingertips over the mother-of-pearl inlay, greeting it.

"Comfortable?" she asked.

Sasha started, dropping her feet to the floor. "I'm sorry...I just needed a quiet place, things were so..." the fledgling trailed off, shoving one hand through her hair.

Lily studied her, and the girl's aura sprang into focus, a rich tapestry of violet, blue, silver, and green, with rippling streaks of crimson, slowly smoothing out as she watched. So rich and varied. Clan Brujah seethed with emotion. If one wished to learn of creativity, one asked a Toreador. For passion, one went to the Brujah.

"Trouble with Cash?" Lily guessed.

Sasha sighed. "That obvious?"

"A bit," Lily said wryly.

"I don't understand!" she burst out. "I loved--love him. When I was alive, I needed him. Now, I still need him, but half the time, I want to kill him."

The Toreador Primogen perched on the corner of her desk. The move hiked up her short skirt, showing more leg than was proper. She covered the fledgling's hand with her own.

"Part of it is his rank. You are as a child among us, without station. Cash is Primogen, and Brujah resist authority."

Sasha raised bewildered eyes. "But *you're* a Primogen, and I don't feel that way around you."

Lily smiled faintly. Poor lost childe... "Well, as we have blood-based aggressions, blood can attract. Brujah and Toreador Clanfolk are often drawn together."

"Is that why--" Sasha broke off and looked down.

"Why...?"

The fledgling toyed with one of the studs on her jacket collar, not meeting Lily's gaze. "I've seen the men...the Brujah men...look at you."

"Ah." Lily's smile widened. "Eddie stood little higher than a beast. The most pleasure I ever took in his company was the moment I killed him. But there are moments in every woman's life when she is drawn to the base and crude. Even a Toreador." She gave an elegant shrug, dismissing the matter.

Sasha drew her hand away. "Is that what you think of me?"

Lily lifted Sasha's chin, turning her face into the light. Delicate, for all its sharp angles, like a steel rose. So recently Embraced, her skin still had a warm flush, still soft as a mortal's.

"Never," she assured the childe gently.

And then she slipped a hand behind Sasha's neck, drawing the childe to her. She resisted at first, then yielded. How long had it been since she'd truly been held? Brujah so longed to be valued, cherished. So little else broke through their wall of anger.

She cradled Sasha against her shoulder, stroking her hair. Julian's descendant, the last jewel in his family chain. Would she taste like him?

The thought sent a quiver of anticipation through her. Her Prince had kept his distance of late, distracted by his mortal plaything. She missed him. Sasha sighed and nestled closer, wrapping her arms around Lily's waist.

The Toreador glided her hands over Sasha's shoulders, coming to rest on the young woman's hips. Sasha started, drawing back to stare up at Lily.

"I--what are you--"

The colors in her Aura flickered, flowed over Lily's hands like slow moving water.

"I'm sorry," she said softly. "It hurts to see you so sad."

"I _am_ sad," Sasha admitted. "Sad, and _angry_. So angry...and nothing makes sense anymore."

"Then let me help you," Lily soothed, stroking the childe's hair.

The spiraling curls felt wondrous under her Heightened touch. Silky-soft, but tensile. Sasha's eyes searched her face, then the fledgling leaned in, resting her head against Lily's shoulder again. Her Aura flowed into deep red and rose as Lily kneaded the tight muscles at the back of Sasha's neck. Gradually, they loosened and relaxed. The fledgling let her head loll back, eyes half-closed. Lily cradled the young woman's head in her hand, delicately tracing the lines of her throat with her fingertips. Then, tangling her fingers in the riotous curls, Lily bent to Sasha's offered throat. Whisper-soft kisses against velvet skin. The scent of night-flowering jasmine rose from Sasha's hair, with an undernote of clean leather.

Lily suckled at the girl's neck until the veins swelled beneath the skin and pressed against her tongue. Sasha made an inarticulate sound and pulled Lily tight against her. She could feel the cold metal adornments on the young Brujah's clothing--like ar mor, sealing that tantalizing lithe body away from her touch--pressing through her taffeta gown. Sasha's hands swept up along Lily's back to the carefully coiled hair pinned at the nape of her neck. A gentle tug released the pins, spilling dark auburn tresses over her fingers. The childe's aura pulsed with the deep cranberry-red of strong desire, shot through with veins of excited electric blue.

Lily teased the tip of her tongue over the sensitized spot on Sasha's neck. Sasha gasped and shivered. The Toreador drew back her head and bared delicate ivory fangs. Then she struck, opening the vein that waited for her. Sasha's grip tightened, pulli ng Lily close in an unbreakable hold.

Brujah blood was bright, sweet, and strong. It spilled fresh and hot from the puncture wounds. It pooled in her stomach, spreading thin ribbons of sensation through her. Young, with promise, and sprinkled through it, glints and echoes of another.

Her Prince, her beloved Julian.

//Not too much,// Lily reminded herself, even as she swallowed another lush mouthful. She had to stop, now, or risk damaging the childe. Shuddering, she drew away, closing the wound with a kiss.

Sasha leaned back, bracing herself on her elbows. A small smear of crimson marred her pale throat. Lily decided to leave it. She liked the way it looked. The fledgling's night-dark eyes were sleepy, a faint smile tugging at her lips.

"Is that...how it felt for Cash, that first time?"

Lily smiled at her in return. "Better, I imagine. Intimacy is always richer with one you love."

Sasha pushed her hair back, considering. "Good thing my heart's already stopped." She laughed then and stood up, stretching her arms up over her head--which did charming things for her figure. "Oh, that was a rush...nothing like that..."

"One of the joys of being Kindred." Reaching out, she touched her steel rose's cheek. "Remember your joys, Sasha. They're all you have to carry you through the pain."

The Brujah sobered, but before she could respond, a discreet knock sounded at the door.

"Ms. Langtree? We need you out on the floor."

Lily sighed. "On my way, Opal." She retrieved her beaded bag, then paused in surprise when Sasha took her arm.

"I'll walk you out," the Brujah said, a glint of challenge in her eyes.

The Toreador considered her for a moment, then smiled slowly.

"After you, then."

~FINIS~