Editors note: As always Kindred: The Embrace is copyrighted to Spelling Entertainment and Vampire the Masquerade to White Wolf Publishers. We are just borrowing them for a bit. Especially since we have no clue when we will see the show again. Keep writing and telling TPTB you want your Kindred and you want it now!

Please send all comments and praise to Stormsinger

First of all, *my* explanations: all I know of the Kindred is what I've seen on Kindred: the Embraced. What I haven't seen, I'm inventing as seems right to me. The characters used herein are the copyrighted property of Mr. Spelling, et al. The story is mine.

Thin Ice (1/1)

Sasha was barely awake by the time Cash pulled his bike up into the parking lot behind the non-descript brownstone, her head against his shoulder, her hands clutching his waist more by instinct than design. She was still shivering. He shut the bike down and manouevered off carefully, taking her into his arms. "C'mon, Sasha," he whispered. "Gotta get inside."

"Cold," she whispered back. "And it hurts again, Cash." She hid her face, fighting tears.

He took the stairs three at a time, her weight nothing in his arms. He hated to bring her back to this place, where the Brujah had violated her in a way no mortal should be violated, but it couldn't be helped. They were too far from Julian's mansion, and dawn was too close. "Can you stand?" he asked her, kicking the door shut behind them.

"I... I think so." She got her feet under her, reaching out to the wall for support.

"Stay there," he told her, going over to the bed. Viciously, he ripped the bloodstained sheets off it, wishing he could wrap them around Nino's neck. No, he decided, throwing them into a corner. Not the sheets. His teeth. He wanted Nino's blood. A lot.

There was another set of sheets in the drawer. He pulled them out, threw them on the bed with quick efficiency, then came back to where Sasha stood, watching him numbly. "Why here?" she moaned.

He shrugged. "Sorry. Too far from Julian's. Sun'll be up before we could get there."

She took a deep breath. "Cash, what *are* we?"

He led her over to the bed, made her sit down. "We're Kindred, Sasha."

"Vampires."



His shoulder jerked. "That's what mortals call us, yeah."

"Nino," she sneered the name like a curse, "he drank my blood. He... he made me drink his..."

He nodded sharply, still too angry to think about that. Brujah blood in the veins of a woman who was obviously *born* to be Gangrel... born to be at *his* side, not by that damned shark in his Armani suit. He knelt in front of her, took her cold hand in his. "You drank mine, too."

She looked up with a fleeting smile. "It... it tasted good, Cash. But that scares me, too."

If only he could drain all the Brujah blood from her body, and replace it with his own, Embrace her as she deserved to be Embraced, in love by someone who wanted her more than anything in the world. "Don't be afraid. I'm here. Julian's here. You've got some real heavy hitters on your side."

"But I'm Brujah..."

He pulled her close, cradled her head against his shoulder. "Don't think about that right now." He sank his fingers into the soft springs of her hair, slid his other arm around her and rocked her up against him. The scent of her filled his nostrils, spicy and wild. Without thinking, he ran his tongue over his fangs, fingers sliding to tip her head up.

Her skin was cold, even to his touch. Too cold. He looked into her bright eyes, a hunger lighting them that she didn't yet understand, and knew he had one more task yet before they could safely close the door on the day.

He set her back on the bed and stood.

"Cash?" She looked up at him, confused and a little hurt.

Tell her, or hope she'll leave it alone? She had to learn sometime, and better from him than the ruthless Brujah. "I've got to go out for a little while," he said finally. "I need to hunt."

"Hunt," she repeated in that lost voice. "Hunt people?"

He jerked his head sharply in an affirmative.

"Will... will I have to do that? Hunt people? Kill people?"

"We don't kill. Julian doesn't allow it. And anyway, if you're careful, you don't need to." He moved to the door. "Look, I'll be back soon. Just stay here. Rest if you can. You'll know when I'm back. Nobody can fool you anymore."

Three early-shift workers would not be going into work today. Cash managed to hunt without leaving the immediate area, catching two of his victims just leaving their apartments and the third in her car. They wouldn't remember him, and would probably chalk it up to the flu. A risk, but one that had to be taken. He drank as much as he dared, knowing that Sasha would need much of it. No daylight riding today.

She was curled up on the bed, huddled in the blankets, when he let himself back into the efficiency. He pulled off his jacket, dropped it on the floor, and joined her. "Sasha, I'm back."

Her hand reached up blindly. "Cash? It hurts..."

"It'll stop soon," he promised her, catching her hand. "It's almost over now."

Her eyes snapped open. "You're so warm!"

He grinned. "You will be too. Come here." He gathered her into his arms, leaning up against the wall. "Time to try your fangs."

"What?"

He traced her lips with a fingertip, then gently pushed them apart, running his finger over her upper teeth. "Feel em?"

Her tongue-tip touched his finger, slid past to the canines. "They feel weird."

He nodded. "Most times, nobody sees em. But they're there when we need em. Now," he took her hand, guided it to his throat, "feel here." Chill fingers touched at the carotid artery, and he couldn't suppress a shiver. His heart, pumping stolen blood, pulsed against those fingers. "Feel it, Sasha?"

"Uh-huh," she responded breathlessly, instinct drawing her closer.

He grinned, tipping his head back against the wall. "That's it," he whispered. "Come on, honey." He wrapped his arms around her, hand sneaking back into her hair, pressing her close. "Come on."

She nuzzled his throat, lips soft, tongue tip tracing the line he'd shown her. Her breathing was shaking in his ear. He felt her lips draw back, and the hesitant touch of those canines. Then she drew back and whispered, "I don't want to hurt you!"

He chuckled breathlessly. "Won't hurt. Turn on, big time." He drew her hair up to his face, breathing in that spice again. "Do it, babe."

This time she barely hesitated. A kiss, tongue-tip carressing, then teeth pressing hard, sinking deep. She made some murmur of surprise as the blood hit her mouth, but he barely heard it over the orgasmic roar in his own ears. Then she began sucking, and each swallow racked both of them with a pleasure that made mortal lovemaking pale. He pulled her up tight. "Oh, yeah, that's it," he

He let her drink as long as he dared, then gently pushed her back. "Easy, Sasha. That's enough." He grinned. "Leave me some, huh?"

She looked back at him with wondering eyes, her lips dark with his blood. "I can't believe this. I'm drinking you blood..." she touched a finger to her lips and looked at the crimson there, "and it tastes *so* good. And I can... feel what you feel, too."

He nodded, drew her finger to his mouth and licked the blood off it, then bent to her lips for a long kiss, tasting the blood in her mouth, letting her taste the blood still in his. "We're Kindred," he told her again. "Beyond clans, we're all Kindred."

She snuggled down beside him, with a sigh which was as much relief as satisfaction. He looked down, then shifted to stretch out beside her, reaching to pull the blankets over both of them.

When she woke, the change would be complete. She would be all Kindred, and his lover for eternity if he could only get over the fact that she'd also be Brujah. God, he was tired, but his brain wouldn't slow down enough to let him sleep yet. Brujah. Ancient enemies. Was it really in their blood, or just their heads? He'd never met a Brujah he'd want to give the time of day to, or trust with... hell, anything, let alone the life of someone he cared for.

He stroked a hand along Sasha's back, curling a tendril of that wonderful hair around one finger. She sighed softly, one hand reaching out to slide across his stomach, hugging him close. She was like the Faerie Queen, and he was the damn fool peasant who'd fallen in love with her.

Primogen of the Gangrel Clan of San Francisco. Yippie. He'd drop back to the last rank if it would bring Stevie Ray back. He needed the older Gangrel's wisdom, his years of knowledge. Hell, he could fight with the best of them, but the games the Brujah were playing just made him want to tear them apart. Either that, or simply take Sasha and his whole clan and leave. Get out. Let the Brujah fight the Ventrue, if they wanted to fight. The Gangrel had had enough, already.

But, Primogen aside, he was also Julian's bodyguard. He'd accepted that position, he had to live with it, had to live up to it. Stevie Ray and Julian had been together for more than half a century. Cash not only felt like a punk kid, he had a feeling that Julian didn't think any better of him.

Too much, too fast. Primogen and bodyguard and up to his neck in Kindred politics in one night, fall in love with the Prince's niece (a truely brilliant move) and then lose her to the damned Brujah inside of a month. Fine job, Cash. Real fine.

"You keep the Clan together," Stevie had told him. "You serve our Prince. You preserve the Masquerade. That's the essence of being Kindred. The politics and the rest of the crap comes and goes. Sometimes they're too busy inside the Clans to look outside. Then we're lucky; we can take a breather. If not, hey, we do the best we can. No prince can ask for more than that. But remember -- the Prince has a duty to you, too. You don't let him twist in the wind, and he don't leave you hanging either."

"Yeah, well, he did, Stevie," Cash whispered into the darkness. "And Sasha had to pay for it."

"Hmm?" Sasha muttered, hearing her

"Nothing, babe. Go back to sleep."

It wasn't over yet; it was barely beginning. He'd swiped Sasha from her Brujah watchdogs tonight, but they'd take her back. There was nothing he could do about it. She was Brujah.

And yet, he'd seen the look of distaste on her face when she danced with Nino to make him angry (the witch!). She'd fought the Brujah like a tigress -- Cash had seen the fingernail gouges on Nino's face and wished he would keep them for eternity instead of the two minutes which were more likely. Even standing outside the Haven, she'd fought their proximity and the careless license they took.

There was that streak of recklessness in her, though. Good trait for a Gangrel, a willingness to stand up against the odds. Would it lead her to enjoy the dangerous games the younger Brujah played, dancing on the edge of human law, Kindred Masquerade? He might sneer at the stupidity of robbing gas stations, but would that simply goad her into doing it? It was *all* so stupid. And he couldn't tell her *that* either. Telling Sasha things like that simply didn't work. He'd tried. Julian had tried. Look at the results.

If you're gonna cross thin ice, Cash, you might as well dance. These last few weeks had been hard, wanting Sasha and fighting it until he couldn't fight any more, dealing with his clan and blood hunts and politics and Julian... but he had a feeling that the *next* few weeks were going make those look like a vacation.

He shifted position, pulling Sasha into his arms and resting his chin on the cushion of her hair. "You're not gonna make it easy, babe," he murmured. "I can tell. But then, if it was easy, it probably wouldn't be worth as much. An' you're worth everything to me, Sasha."

She murmured something into his chest.

"Huh?"

More asleep than awake, she repeated, "Love you."

"Love you, too."