Alecia watched Vaughn walk out, arms and hands deformed with burns, that infuriating red-head at his side. Dolcey and Archibalt followed in his wake and Alecia breathed in deeply, letting her fury wave through her like fuel on flames. She was stuck here and Vaughn knew it. He had taken from her, yet again, what wasn’t his to take: her precious children. Alecia sat through the family affairs, which were terse and awkward without the other Perths. Despite that, Alecia knew the trial would end up a farce. Vaughn would’ve never hurt his precious little Lucius. Several times over Vaughn had put his hands into the fire for that man and had burnt, like the mad masochist Vaughn truly was.
It was only after affairs had settled that she was able to take stock.
“A hundred and three died, others who had got in the way were left alive,” her vasal said from beside Alecia as she changed clothes.
Hundred and three. One for each year Vaughn had missed out on life. Alecia had kept count. The night covered their journey through the city. The fires were finally under control. The scent of charred flesh was unmistakable to any vampire. Alecia knew Vaughn had intended for it to be exactly this. Ever so calculating. Alecia scowled. Again her sire had taken from her the human indulgence to be a mother. And this time was perhaps worse. So many dead.
“Find Gabrielle,” Alecia commanded and stepped back into the car. There was nothing left here for her. Her petty desires had been put in place by Vaughn.
She would speak to his little red-head and educate her on their past. They would prove so alike that dear little Amelia wouldn’t be able to deny she should step off this path leading to certain destruction.
Vaughn took a deep breath. Could they trust Archie? For now they didn’t have to worry. Archie’s choice was made.
“For now,” Vaughn said and moved his fingers, slowly, feeling the crackle of barely healed scabs break as he did so. It was starting to smart.
“Listen, watch, but question everything,” Vaughn advised. “Go visit Archie, then Xander and see what their thoughts are,” Vaughn said with an apologetic smile. He would visit Dolcey and plead for something against the pain that would undoubtedly become increasingly annoying as the sensations transitioned into itching.
Amelia looked to Vaughn's hands as she listened to his words. If she could will away all of the pain and damage then she would but alas she could not. She lifted her gaze to his and looked out. She would go at sunset, then. She would find out what she could and then report back to him. He would just need to be careful, she was even hesitant to leave him alone. She didn't have the sway with people that he did, he could leave her unprotected and simply know that no one would harm her for fear of the punishment. She didn't have that power and she watched Vaughn for a while.
“I'll go at sunset.” She murmured to him. She had only barely reunited with him and she didn't want to part again, at least not immediately.
Amelia looked out the window at the smoke in the distance, he had killed illegitimate offspring from Alecia, Amelia figured it wasn't their fault. Arthur wasn't his own doing, it was Amelia's doing that he was now like this. It was Alecia's fault the offspring were that way. She sighed out and nestled down on the couch, she really did miss sleep now. She missed curling up in bed and ignoring problems for some hours. She wasn't even sure if Archie would speak to her, he had been holding her at arms length it seemed.
“Don't do that again.” Amelia remarked as she glanced over at Vaughn and sighed. He had frightened her, going off like that and then turning up the way he had. She was not from the time he remembered, women were far more authority driven in their ways and she wasn't likely to stay at home and be some pretty little piece for him. It just wasn't doable, not for her. She had been worried sick in Xander's home, all the while her brother under very feet.
“You scared me half to death, which is a feat in itself given our situation.” She added for good measure.
Hmm, no promises,” Vaughn said solemnly, a vague hint of a smile playing on his lips. Alecia would make her next move. If he wasn’t careful enough, hadn’t taken out enough of her pawns and pieces, history might be inclined to repeat itself. Needless to say, that kind of re-iteration would prove unfavorable for Amelia’s and his future plans. And even then, some of Vaughn’s future plans might require he act as the devil bade him to. Time had become a funny concept after having gone without its subtle hints and reminders for so long, but Vaughn was still acutely aware of how time would effect thoughts, wills and life.
Frightened, was she?
Nothing as whimsical as a lady’s wiles, that much was proven once again. Had Amelia changed her mind about the feelings she wished to allow into her heart? Vaughn’s smile turned into a smirk.
“I wouldn’t allow my lady to go unaccompanied,” Vaughn said lazily. Especially not when all dressed up, facing Alecia without fear for repercussions. Amelia had certainty been fated to meet him that night, planned though her presence might or might not have been. They were compatible souls. Vaughn did believe that the immortal souls that occupied their bodies were destined to meet, over and over again. It was what had kept him sane all those years. That thought had also taken away his fear for the sun and the unknown.
Though perhaps the pain he suffered was enough to instill some measure of respect for the sun’s destructive rays. Amelia was similar. Vaughn wasn’t afraid to lose his heart to love, but perhaps he ought to respect that he might be hurt more than expected in the process.
Next time, Vaughn decided he would tell Amelia he would come back for her, and only her.
“Come find me at Dolcey’s after,” Vaughn requested softly.
His eyes numbly stared at the smoking buildings, indulging in the impact his actions had. They would ripple for quite a while before washing away in the tides of time.
Vaughn put his arm on the back of the couch and invited Amelia to rest closer. He longed for her presence, for how vibrantly alive she was.
“Only a few more pieces need to be moved,” Vaughn promised by means of meek reassurance. “And then we can play all we like.”
Amelia shot him a look when he said no promises and figured she would have to make do with that. There was little else she could do and she looked to him, she supposed he had accompanied her in the end at the gathering. A stray look to his burnt hands betrayed her concern but she didn't vocalise it further. He had scared her, vanishing like that. She hummed a little when Dolcey was mentioned, the rest of sleep was enticing and she figured it would be a reward for her work. It would do Vaughn some good to rest too, speed up his healing some too. She gazed at him as he extended the offer to rest closer and obliged him. She moved closer and shifted so she could lay her head on his lap. A few more pieces? She knew that would be the case, then they could play.
“Depends on what you like to play.” Amelia said to him with a smirk to match his own. She looked up to him from her comfortable spot and waited for the sun to set, closing her eyes. It wasn't as though she was remarkably adept in politics but perhaps that would work in her favour, people might be less suspecting and more open with her. Then again, she was Vaughn's offspring, his lady as he so put it. She was unsure of how that would come to pass with her, it could be favourable or less so. Alecia already hated her and now she had brought Arthur into the mix. Then again, not a soul would lay a hand upon Arthur or Vaughn while she could stop it. Her eyes opened and she smiled ever so slightly to herself. He was a marvel, the strength he had shown.
“Tell me a story, from the past. Lucius, when we spoke, he told me about some of your past.” She murmured quietly, Vaughn had seen more than enough for several lifetimes and Amelia had only ever learned about some of it in school.
“He spoke about the war.” She said to him, “We learn about it in schools, how the world went to war.” She murmured quietly, she supposed not much had changed.
A story, was it? Vaughn watched Amelia, who lounged like a cat on his lap. If his hands and skin weren't burnt, he might have played with the luxurious red strands strewn across her shoulders. Lucius spoke of their past, had he? The war. Vaughn looked ahead at the smoke.
"Ah yes, of course," Vaughn agreed. Of course Lucius would speak of the war.
"I made decisions in the guild's favour during the war, though the ethics of said choices were questionable even now," he ceded. "I think the ethics and morals of many a man were questioned during that time. Man and vampire alike, truth be told. For a vampire to choose sides in a war between man... is bad etiquette."
Yet they had to choose sides.
"I chose to align with Germany, my home country," Vaughn concluded with a wistful smile.
And while that decision had been good, it had proven bold in the end, especially near the end of what was now known as the second world war.
"... though made sure we all 'disappeared' when d-day came. Freedom," Vaughn scoffed. "It wasn't as important to me then as it is now. I was just thirsty for blood. Still am."
Just talking about drinking blood made him unconsciously lick his lips.
"I suppose, there was no right or wrong to choose then, not as it is told now. There were only men, following ambitious leaders into what was portrayed as a noble future. Together, they made 'an enemy', individually, they just made for suffering. Vampires do well when man suffers."
Vaughn grew quiet for a moment, pondering Amelia's request for a story.
"Perhaps the beginning would make for a more apt tale, no?" he suggested, diverting away from the war and the misdeeds they were all guilty of during that period.
"The night I met my sire in the alehouse I ran was a cold one. I greeted him like any of my guests. He introduced himself as Clemens and ordered wine, rather than ale." Vaughn looked down at Amelia.
"He didn't introduce me to what it was to be a vampire until many years later, when the plague ravaged the population. I was no exception. I remember all my patrons fondly, but it was Clemens who paid me visit, upon finding the alehouse I ran was now closed."
He remembered it vaguely, from that point on. Clemens had sat with him at first, toyed with the nurses in ways Vaughn would only later recognize was his vampiric influence and charm. Fever had gripped him by then and exhaustion bound him to bed, where occasional fits stole his reason.
"I was dying of the plague when Clemens told me what he was. He said, a dying man won't tell tales, so it would be an honour to tell to me then what was withheld during our years of fond acquaintance. My sire told me of the happenings within the guild, told me the relations and speculations as the pieces were moved across the proverbial chess board. I advised him, when there was little I could do but await death."
Vaughn licked his lips. The sun was steadily receding. It would soon be time for them to act.
"I thought I would die that night, when my sire returned to my bedside. He told me: 'why do you fight so fiercely? I can alleviate your pain, if you but ask.' Clemens offered me a peaceful death then, without judging or finding weakness in such request. After all, hadn't I suffered enough? More than most? I refused."
He paused for a second, smirking.
"I told him I wasn't dead yet, I wasn't done living. All that comes before builds us up to who we are now. I was at my strongest then, even if I was dying. Clemens laughed at me. My memories of the days that followed are hazy at best... but it's safe to say Clemens gave me mercy."
It was a surprise to know Vaughn had sided with Germany in the war. Still, such things were in the past and she supposed he was right. Everyone had simply been desperate for a new future. She closed her eyes and listened to his voice, it wasn't sleep but it was as comfortable as she would ever be. He must have had so many stories, stories that he could tell her for the rest of eternity and she would never find herself bored. She hummed a little when he began the tale of how it all began for him. She knew of the plagues, how death had been suffering and slow. She swallowed a little at his tale, it must have been awful to be laying in his death bed. Clemens, he had indeed given him mercy and evidently saw strength in Vaughn. Rightly so.
“Hmm, I can't imagine you working in an alehouse, owning one no less. I imagine the ladies found you to be quite the catch.” She murmured, trying to imagine him cleaning mugs and glasses. It was actually a rather fetching visage and she smiled to herself.
“You didn't fear it? Death, I mean?” He made it sound as though he simply had more to do in his time and she figured he must have made Clemens proud, somewhat. She couldn't imagine laying in a bed and waiting for death, it had been terrible enough those moments she was on the stone steps. Vaughn had caused ripples that would last long after they were all dead and gone. They would write about him in books, no doubt and she looked up at him. He had always been strong though, maybe there was a fate entwined with one another after all. Everyone was destined to meet somehow and she really had just been where she was meant to be that day in the church.
The sun was starting to set and Amelia tipped her head back to look out the window.
“I suppose it's that time already.” She lamented quietly, hesitant to leave Vaughn alone but she didn't really know why. She pushed herself up some and watched him, hovering close for a moment. She leaned in and pressed a kiss to his lips tenderly.
“Wish me luck.” She said quietly when she relented and smiled at him, this game of eternal chess meant one wrong move and the queen could be taken, as well as the king. Amelia hated to risk it but she needed to find information, without it they would be sitting ducks.
"Had death come then, I would have welcomed it," Vaughn said, not a hint of insincerity in his voice. The plague was not a friendly or nice way to depart this world. Even a brief encounter with the sun would likely feel like a better mercy. Delirious with fever to the point where fits ravaged his faculties, no, graceful was not a word mentioned in conjunction with the plague.
"I fear not living," he corrected Amelia's assumption that death was something to be feared. Death would come for them all at some point and what came after would forever remain a mystery. There were happenstances and oddities that betrayed glimpses of a world shrouded in mystery, but no one knew what was true and what was gifted by the warped negotiation of their minds with this reality they squandered time in.
The sun had begun its descent into darkness. Vaughn watched the orange ball of flames purge the last remnants of light out of the night's sky until only darkness remained.
A tender kiss was pressed to his lips. Vaughn leaned in, but was unable to get what he desired with his arms being the way they were. Soon that would change. Vampires healed easily.
"Good luck," he breathed with a coy smile.
"Don't disagree with anything they say. Just listen," Vaughn recommended. An argument wasn't needed for what he wished to know. No prying needed to be done. Xander trusted Amelia more than he let on and Archibalt would likely appreciate the sight of an ally in his club tonight that wasn't him.
Dolcey would likely check up on him, but Vaughn got up at last to find his phone. Unwieldy and stiff hands tried to operate the electronic gadget, but Vaughn managed little more than to spill blood on the screen and buttons. He gave up. Tonight, his vassals would be his arms and transport him to where Dolcey rested.
Amelia would speak with Dolcey last, even if neither of them knew it yet.
There was more Amelia was to learn and Dolcey was always loose-lipped while he slept off the drugs she liked to endow onto him. Soon, Amelia would have to become more than just his eyes and ears. She would have to know more than he did. Play his part, so that he could pose as the clueless distraction. Alecia thought she could still sway Amelia, but Vaughn thought it unlikely. It was a bet he was willing to risk his life on.
“Me? Argue? I would never.” Amelia said to Vaughn with a smirk as she relented her desires and stood, going to change. Archie would be first no doubt, she knew his club, or the basic area. He had spoken about it enough and she figured she should change into something a little more flattering and she moved to the bedroom and got changed into something more suiting for a club setting. She smoothed down the neat top and jeans as she fixed up her make-up and hair as she started towards the door and paused to glance to the car keys. She did miss her little run-around a little but not enough as she scooped up the keys and started out of the door. She shifted towards the vehicle and eyed it over, a few scrapes and dents and she raised an eyebrow. Well, at least it was in one piece, barely. She huffed a little and shook her head.
She would reconvene with Vaughn and Dolcey when she was finished her business. She didn't know how long that would be but Dolcey would keep an eye on Vaughn.
Amelia pulled off and retraced the streets as she did so. She kept the window down some, if only to breathe in the night air as she drove. Archie was up first and she stepped inside his establishment, busy as always. She looked around, keeping her eyes out as she spied Archie sitting and watching events. He waved her over and Amelia sat opposite him, letting him pour some wine.
“I didn't expect he would let you off his leash so early.” Archie observed and looked over Amelia as she shrugged some, “There's a lot of eyes on him, Amelia, and there are eyes on you too.” Archie said and there was a warning to his tone that wasn't wasted on Amelia.
“Alecia is furious, she aims to make Vaughn pay at his trial.” Archie said as he took a drink and Amelia sighed out, she figured as much.
“Does she have much sway?” Amelia asked, curiously and Archie looked hesitant for a moment,
“Not as much as she thinks, but still some. She'll be favourable being the leader but… It could go either way. He's reckless." Archie responded.
Amelia listened as Archie spoke, intently over some wine as the night drew on.
“Who will you visit next, young Amelia?” Archie's question caused Amelia to meet his gaze and she swallowed some,
“Gabrielle. Or Xander.” She answered honestly. There was no reason to lie, Archie was family now.
“Watch your step. Vaughn cannot protect you everywhere.” Archie said to her and sighed out as he leaned back.
“Where would I find Gabrielle?” Amelia asked and Archie chuckled,
“Tucked under Alecia's wing most likely. Your best bet is her local hangouts. Gabrielle is anywhere she can get information." Archie relinquished and raised an eyebrow, “You get into trouble, don't tell Vaughn I told you.”
"I didn't expect it to be this easy, you know?" Alecia stated, admiring the way her carefully manicured nails had transformed into something more animalistic. Their true nature was often very well hidden, but Alecia enjoyed that other side of herself. At first, it was that acceptance of their more monstrous side that had attracted Vaughn to her. They had been a dangerous couple. A delightful couple. Their love had been overpowering and all-encompassing. In fact, Alecia had even made sacrifices in honour of that love that she felt had pushed beyond her boundaries and limits.
"I thought you'd be more careful, my little lark," she cooed. Gabrielle tried to push up from where she was laid on the floor. She managed to lift her head and spit out some blood. Alecia could be so alike Vaughn sometimes it was uncanny. They shared this side, evidently. Gabrielle laughed. More blood splattered onto the floor.
"You're so like him it's laughable," Gabrielle hissed under her breath.
Her words had the intended effect. Alecia turned about as if stung, anger blazing in her eyes. Sharp nails dug into her hair and scalp, pulling up her head so they were now face to face. Alecia's eyes were a cold, icy blue. Nothing like Vaughn's.
"What happened to Lucius?" Alecia hissed.
Alecia rolled her eyes and pushed Gabrielle's face back into the floor. For a moment both rested there. Alecia contemplated whether what Gabrielle said was the truth and how that would impact Vaughn's trial. If her sire truly had nothing to do with Lucius' death he would walk away unpunished. Her grip tightened. Gabrielle bit her lip to keep from keening at the discomfort.
"I will figure out why you released Vaughn," Alecia spat at her prey.
"And once I do, none of you will live it down."
But for now, a message was the next appropriate step. Her fingers dragged down Gabrielle's scalp, leaving bloodied trenches. She would enjoy this. A slow, nicely engraved message.
Dolcey welcomed Vaughn with a careful embrace.
"Poor little Vaughny," she cooed into his ear. Unlike Amelia, Vaughn didn't care whether Dolcey got smeared with his blood. She owed him still. For her part in his incarceration. He had almost done away with Dolcey too. Held her in place as the sun rose. As flames licked at his arms. Dolcey's back too bore the marks, a reminder to never again betray him. For now, however, Vaughn had forgiven her. She had chosen his side, after all. A statement good as any other.
"Come, let me help you sleep," Dolcey said with a coy smile and hooked her hand on his elbow, guiding them deeper inside.
As it was, it really didn't take long to find Alecia and by default, Gabrielle. Archie knew of her whereabouts and Amelia realised it was a rather small city after all. Perhaps it was best Vaughn was neatly tucked away with Dolcey because she hadn't mentioned going and seeing Alecia. Truthfully, she wanted Gabrielle's side of things and not Alecia but if the two came as a join force then so be it. Alecia wouldn't be stupid enough to try anything, it would be tied back to her too quickly and Amelia swallowed. Alecia lived lavishly, like most other vampires it seemed and she stated her business to the doorman and he bid her to wait before going to check if Alecia was available and Amelia waited, car keys in hand as she looked around. It was like entering a wasps nest and hoping not to get stung.
Amelia doubted Alecia would have foresaw her arrival here, given it wasn't the wisest moves and she drew in a breath as the doorman gave her the nod and escorted her. She was unsure of what she was going to say, what she would do if things turned nasty. She had questions, that was for sure. Vaughn's telling of events lined up just fine but she was sure there were two sides to this story and once, Alecia had loved Vaughn and vice versa most likely. Now there was just bitter hatred between them. It had consumed them both and robbed them both of living their eternal lives.
Amelia was led inside a room and she glanced around. Books and ornaments adorned shelves and it was like being in a regal estate of some sorts. In time, such luxury would become normal to her but for the moment, it still took her breath away that people lived like this. It was all stifling polite though as the escort offered her a drink, one that Amelia declined for now. Her trust in everyone out with the small circle she had been part of was flimsy at best. Amelia looked out the tinted window, it would be dawn soon enough and she swallowed back whatever fear threatened to creep the surface.
"Well, well," Alecia greeted Amelia, "look who the cat dragged in."
She was meticulous. Alecia's hair, skin, face, nothing betrayed that scant moments ago, she'd been toying with Gabrielle. Perhaps a speck or two of blood underneath her carefully manicured nails.
"Amelia, what brings you here? Are you finally ready to learn about that bastard of a Perth?" Alecia looked at Amelia, letting her hand run across one of the old pieces of furniture in the lounge. She turned and spread her other hand out to the other side, comfortable and graceful like a feline predator. Alecia's cold blue eyes were trained on the fiery youth before her. If only she knew. Alecia noticed Amelia hadn't accepted anything to drink while she waited. She wasn't by far as careless as Vaughn was, evidently.
"It's not too late to back out and return to the Perth family," Alecia said strategically. An olive branch. So far, all that had been between them was nothing more than hissing and growling. Amelia hadn't made a statement other than with her words. Words, Alecia had learned fairly early on, were meaningless. Especially those coming from a human and let's face it, Amelia still could walk in daylight.
"You might get burned. I was like you once," Alecia started, averting her eyes in a perfect play of bitter-sweet memories.
"Vaughn loved me once and I loved him. Perhaps I still do," she said delicately. Her hands shifted and Alecia pushed off to take a seat near Amelia.
"I sacrificed everything just to be with him. He shines brightly, like the sun. Who wouldn't want to chase after? As a leader Vaughn was..." Alecia took a deep breath. "Invigorating. To all of us."
Alecia looked at Amelia, to see how her words landed.
In the pregnant silence, Alecia rose and poured herself some wine. They all indulged, but it was Vaughn who took prey after prey instead of the wine. It reminded her of Lucius. Vaughn's indulgence of human prey too was reason to be judged and certainly that argument would come up during his trial next moon.
"I was pregnant when Vaughn made me what we are," Alecia said at last.
She wasn't entirely certain whether Amelia knew.
"Back then, Vaughn said it wasn't a problem. That the child would be born like that of a human mother, but I was certain to survive. Humans are frail, don't you think?" She drank some and then rejoined Amelia.
"The child was born human. A precious baby boy," Alecia said with a smile.
"I wanted to keep it."
Had Amelia been educated on the repercussions?
"Vampires. We aren't allowed to have children. The ties to humanity are best severed," she said sweetly. "As acting guild leader... it fell on Vaughn to enforce the rules. I thought he would make an exception. And he did. Can you guess what the exception was?"
Alecia smiled and gave Amelia a challenging look.
"...and that bastard knew. From the moment he turned me, Vaughn knew the child would have to die. He just wanted me. Vaughn is selfish, Amelia. What sacrifices are you making for pretty little Vaughn, hmm? Your brother, Arthur?"
Amelia looked to Alecia, she was like a lion stalking prey and Amelia did her best not to betray her feelings. She gazed at the woman, she looked pristine as she always did, flawless.
“I wanted to know your side.” Amelia clarified when Alecia spoke and she watched her take a seat. Her voice was like velvet laced with toxins and Amelia sank into a chair as she listened to Alecia’s story. Maybe they weren’t so different, in truth. She was right about Vaughn, he was a bright sun worth following but Alecia had thought the same. And now they were at odds, viciously.
It was saddening to hear of her child. Amelia had never been interested in children herself, a lifetime spent watching over Arthur had effectively turned her off the idea but it did seem callous of Vaughn to turn her knowingly whilst pregnant. It seemed heinous almost and she Amelia was unsure how to feel right then.
“Arthur was my doing.” Amelia said to Alecia, “And mine alone.” She added for effect.
“Not that I believe you truly care, but Arthur was dying. Cancer. Vaughn told me, I guess you guys can pick up on the sicknesses and diseases.” She gestured a hand dismissively and shrugged, “I didn’t want that.” She remarked and figured that explained enough of her issue.
“And I don’t believe Vaughn chose me, not like he chose you.” It didn’t excuse his behaviour, or his actions. She wanted to know why he had acted like that.
“Why would he do that?” Amelia asked the other woman, “Why would he want the death of a child?” It was probably a touchy subject, she didn’t doubt it still harboured hurt and Amelia wasn’t there to hurt Alecia. She just wanted to understand what the Hell was going on between everyone in this terrible game of chess. It was awful. Too many had died already but she doubted it could be fixed anytime soon. Her words certainly wouldn’t broker peace between Vaughn and Alecia.
"Was it?" Alecia said smoothly. Her will would put Amelia at ease. She was young still, this red-head. Her will would sway her ever so subtly. It was how she had subdued Vaughn. It'd taken Dolcey's and her will combined, on top of Vaughn's indulgent nature to buckle their ex-leader's knees.
"Was it truly your choice?"
Death, was it?
Vaughn hadn't chosen Amelia? Alecia raised her eyebrow at that in surprise. For sure, Alecia had suspected Amelia to be a carefully weighed choice, though Vaughn had come up with more unpredictable behaviour before.
"Vaughn has little love for the human race, Amelia," Alecia replied without missing a beat. The man was a vampire, through and through. An apex predator.
"That is why he played the parts he did. Did he not provoke your will? Is that not what you ask of him for Arthur?" Her eyes gleamed with delight at revealing that she knew. She wanted to unsettle Amelia. As leader of the guild, Alecia's influence stretched far and wide.
"Perhaps if the child had been his, things would have been different," Alecia mumbled in mock-regret.
"You should ask Vaughn why. I can't say I understand that man's motives very well. All he seems to yearn for is destruction. It's as if he invited the times of war back upon us with his return. No one is exempt. Do you know how many he has killed already? Has he told you?" She looked at Amelia.
"Lucius is who he will stand trial for, but only because the others are... lesser. Disliked souls at the fray of influence. Culling. Vaughn called it culling during his time. Inspired and under the guise of war. Many influential souls thought we would be better for it. The majority did not. That is how I came to power, Amelia. An uprising of the underdogs." Alecia explained. And now Vaughn was painstakingly trimming the betraying branches yet again. How long until a new uprising? Though. And this is where Alecia's concerns stemmed from. It was more than just a 'culling'. Vaughn had likely not taken a hand to Lucius himself, but fact remained the Kenworthy head of family was dead now.
It wasn't a culling Vaughn was after. It was a massacre.
"...but Vaughn is just a symptom," Alecia betrayed some of her concerns.
"There is something bigger at play. Someone who liked to have him run loose. All of you are mere puppets in a larger game. Do you see now, why I had to renounce your names? Even if momentarily?"
Amelia looked to Alecia, eyes level with her. She knew not to trust her words as gospel. It was still disturbing to hear though, still something of a contention that bred conflict within Amelia. Amelia let Alecia tallk and she figured she would ask Vaughn why he had done that. He had briefly mentioned if before to her but perhaps he had skirted around the details. Maybe it was a control thing, if the baby had been his perhaps Alecia would have been able to keep it. She watched the woman, part of her actually pitied her for everything she had been through. Vaughn hadn't told her how many he had killed, no.
“I understand you renouncing us.” Amelia conceded, Vaughn had killed and Alecia was leader of the family. She supposed she could understand it, that didn't mean she agreed with it. Alecia had to do something.
“He did not kill Lucius.” Amelia stated plainly, “I know he didn't. I saw Lucius before, Vaughn still held love for him." She remarked to her, she truly did believe Vaughn had nothing to do with the Kenworthy's death.
“I am not here to become your enemy. And I'm not blind to Vaughn's transgressions either, or yours.” Amelia pointed out with a look, “It's not as though I've been welcomed with open arms despite only being a ‘puppet’.” Amelia reminded her and sighed out. She ran a hand through her red hair and gazed at Alecia, trying to figure out her game. They were all playing games and Amelia would rather not have to choose sides but she was in a predicament.
“I will ask him, I didn't come here to cause offence. I only came to ask you some things, and Gabrielle.” Amelia murmured but she couldn't see the other little bird anywhere so perhaps she was off elsewhere.
“Vaughn can be cruel, but he knows that and admits it. Just how cruel are you, Alecia?” She asked the other woman and raised an eyebrow. She did wonder if Alecia understood how cruel she could be at times.
"Do you, truly?" Alecia questioned Amelia's comprehension of being renounced from the Perth family name. It meant Alecia considered them a risk. Compromised. A liability. When had Vaughn not been, however. And yet, at so many turns, Vaughn's vision for where the future would go turned out to be correct. He was a monster without compassion and only one narrative: that of the vampires' future. If that meant making sacrifices, Vaughn would do so without a second thought.
Amelia was convinced Vaughn wasn't involved in Lucius' death.
"That will be decided at the trial, undoubtedly," Alecia promised Amelia.
Oh? Amelia had expected a warmer welcome? Even though she had come to them under the wings of one of the most notorious vampires in the guild's history? What had she expected, exactly?
"Perhaps that warm welcome might come of you choose wisely," Alecia said with a suggestive smile. "It's not your fault it was Vaughn to sire you, after all."
Gabrielle. Ah, she felt a little caught.
"He will stop loving you too eventually," Alecia warned Amelia. She tipped the contents of the glass she toyed with back and swallowed down the wine. It's slightly sour taste reminded her of Lucius and Vaughn.
Wouldn't it be irony if Lucius would aid Vaughn's downfall again after all these years?
"Don't mistake my kindness for cruelty. I've been remarkably patient with you," Alecia warned the red-head. She stood, gesturing for Amelia to follow her through the mansion's halls. Once at a red door, Alecia opened it and stepped aside.
"Guess I'll give you some privacy," she sneered.
Gabrielle's eyes gleamed in the semi-darkness, but she was unable to move. Alecia had cut the tendons on her knees and ankles. A move she had learned from Vaughn. How to disable or kill a vampire. Two vassals stoically watched over Gabrielle.
Gabrielle dimly wondered whether Amelia had learned the same lesson already.
"Don't mind me," Gabrielle said with a jaded cough.
Alecia folded her arms in front of her chest. She had been enjoying her little tryst with Gabrielle before Amelia disturbed her.
"I won't be long before I find out who is shielding Vaughn," Alecia promised Amelia. Gabrielle struggled to move, get up. Blood ran in rivets down her face from her scalp and she tried to wipe the crimson liquid from her eyes in a useless effort.
"It's not too late for you, Amelia."
Amelia watched Alecia,
“You’d have more fortune with me if you had been welcoming in the beginning.” She pointed out and looked to her as she moved and Amelia followed, warily. She suddenly felt caught in a trap and she swallowed. She tried to keep her composure. Perhaps coming here had been a wrong move. She looked to the door as Alecia opened it and she stepped inside to see Gabrielle in a poor way. She stared at her, in disbelief of Alecia’s actions. Amelia was stunned, into silence as she looked at Gabrielle. She was pretty, but less so with the state she was in.
Maybe Alecia was right and Vaughn would stop loving her at some point, she didn’t know the future but Amelia knew this wasn’t right. All of this heartache over something so small. Evidently, eternity wasn’t long enough to shut down grudges. She didn’t want to be like that.
Amelia looked at Alecia when she spoke up and stared at her.
“Too late?” She looked back to Gabrielle. Before what? Before she ended up like Gabrielle, in a shaded little room, bloodied and disfigured with tendons cut? Amelia turned away and looked to Alecia.
“Patience works both ways, Alecia. I’ll think on what you said.” She murmured quietly. She didn’t want to be in this spiders web any longer and she drew herself up.
“I’ll take my leave now.” Amelia said as she eyed over Alecia, carefully. She wanted to take Gabrielle with her but she doubted that would be allowed. She clenched her jaw and strode out of the room and towards the main door. When had it become night? A man opened the door for her and Amelia breathed in the fresh air.
She took a moment to soak in the fresh air and find some sort of composure. Alecia was giving her a choice, Vaughn or the Perth family. And truthfully, she was torn.
Maybe Alecia was right and Vaughn would stop loving her too, but it wouldn’t happen yet. She got behind the wheel and high tailed it towards Dolcey’s place. Vaughn had said to meet him there and Amelia screeched to a halt outside Dolcey’s fine abode. She pushed her way inside and looked around. She was beyond livid with how things had turned out as she pushed her way in,
“We need to talk.” She stated plainly when she came across Vaughn.
Alecia watched Amelia wordlessly as she said she would take her leave. A warm welcome was meaningless in their world, a fact Amelia would come to find out. Once given, it should in no way impact her opinion. But she had chosen Vaughn. Honey-sweet Vaughn had wormed his way into Amelia's heart with sweet nothings, in the same way he had conquered her that day. Time she might take, Amelia knew perfectly well that come time of the trial, it would be too late.
Dolcey applied the burn-cream and re-wrapped Vaughn's bandages. The recipient of her care was drowsy to the point where Dolcey hoped Vaughn might sleep. Alas, sleep had proven ever evasive, though Vaughn had assured her he was in no pain. Just clouded due to the measure of narcotics he had consumed through her dosed prey. His burns were healing up nicely. Soon they would be but scars.
Amelia came barging in during that time and Dolcey raised an eyebrow at her entry.
"Mimi!" Dolcey exclaimed, then softer, "there she is, Vaughny, as promised."
Vaughn put a clumsy finger to his lips, "hush, Vaughn is sleeping," he said with a slurred chuckle. Dolcey giggled at her silly brother and rose without finishing her work, distracted by Amelia's entry. She approached Amelia and wrapped her in a hug.
"Are you alright?" Dolcey asked, a rare serious note to her question.
If she had done as Vaughn bade her to, Amelia's life too had been at risk. Dolcey's eyes roved Amelia's body, but found no injury. A sigh of relief was Dolcey's part and she stepped back.
"He won't sleep," she said with a pout.
Vaughn had since closed his eyes, but when silence resonated in the room opened them lazily to regard the two ladies. He moved the hand Dolcey had been working on and admired the loose end.
"...but he might talk for you now," Dolcey giggled conspirationally.
She patted Amelia's shoulder and brushed by her, Dolcey's flimsy gown betraying some of the burns on her back. The door closed behind delicately.
Vaughn's focus drifted to Amelia. A lazy smile lit up his face upon finding her.
"C'mere," Vaughn urged softly. It was clear he wasn't all there. But he could move his hands and fingers.
"Talk to me."
Amelia looked to Vaughn, she ought have expected him to be half-way to seventh heaven. She looked to Dolcey and furrowed her brow,
“I'm fine, just-” Just what? Shaken? Alecia had shaken her up, showing off Gabrielle like some circus act and Gabrielle had been so willing to take it. She let Dolcey leave and looked to Vaughn. She was conflicted, but she didn't want to reject him. Whatever she said likely wouldn't stick either given his state. Amelia sank down beside him and wished for her own sleep honestly.
“About what?” Amelia asked him and ran a hand down her face.
Amelia huffed out and closed her eyes, resting for a moment as she thought about how to break the news. Blunt was best.
“I saw Alecia, spoke with her.” She remarked, “After Archie.” She murmured as an afterthought. She didn't dare look at Vaughm, concerned she was see some sort of anger on his features at her visit.
“She spoke to me, rather. Told me things.” She was under no illusion that Alecia was poison. She was also under no illusion that the woman wanted Vaughn planted back in a crypt for what he had done to her but she was wary still.
“Why'd you… Okay, so.” She floundered for a moment as she thought of the right words.
“Why did you kill her baby, Vaughn?” She asked him finally, being blunt about it all because she wasn't sure he would even pick up on the nuances.
“Said you loved her, and she loved you and still does.” Amelia drawled on, trying to compact the information, “She was awful to Gabrielle, you ought to have seen her. She couldn't move, her head was all bleeding. She wants to find out who's protecting you." Amelia murmured, maybe it wasn't even new information to him. She didn't know, she couldn't tell. She was just relaying what was said. She did want answers though, the full story and the truth of it all.
"Anything," Vaughn said softly, voice faded some. Amelia sank down close and Vaughn wished she was closer still. His limbs were dead weights, impossible to move without considerable force, nor did he want to. What could would moving do the burns he sported?
Alecia? Concern shimmered across his unguarded gaze for a split second but then, slow as ever, Vaughn realized Amelia had survived the encounter. Physically at least.
She was here, after all.
Alecia had told Amelia things.
Vaughn took a sluggish breath and blinked at Amelia, listening to her search for appropriate words to convey what distressed her.
"A child born from a vampire is human no more. The guild has rules," Vaughn said, repeating what he had told Amelia before. "That child would have grown up to become a vampire without intellect." A monster. A hungry, blood-thirsty monster.
It'd been tried in the past. By mothers desperate as Alecia had been. They had fed their child blood from their own veins, then that of others. But the child never learned to speak, reason or will like any of them.
They were akin animals.
"That isn't what she told you," Vaughn decided after a long moment of thought.
"Alecia... she would've died carrying her baby to term," he disclosed. Alecia hadn't wanted to believe Vaughn, but it'd been in her blood. Lies, she'd tossed at his feet in one of their heated discussions. Each child Alecia saw during their time together reminded her and rekindles that burning desire for a family of her own until only bitterness remained.
Vaughn sighed out and closed his eyes. That didn't bode well.
Alecia might find out before him, who had shielded him. Gabrielle would be removed from Alecia's 'care' or would die protecting her sire.
"Hmm, so do I, but Gabrielle isn't our concern," Vaughn said after a while. He couldn't keep his double tongue from listing around the syllables. They'd be interfering where they shouldn't.
"Why Alecia?" Vaughn asked softly. His eyes were unfocussed, but definitely trained on Amelia's face.
Sleep tugged at him, but whenever he closed his eyes, it'd evaporate in a flash of ill-bound memories or thoughts. Vaughn shifted his hand, the one that was fully wrapped and reached for Amelia.
"If you are to betray me, do so now."
Vaughn's hazel eyes were resigned.
Amelia looked at Vaughn as he spoke and turned on her side. Alecia had skipped a few details then, evidently. It was a pitiful thing and she figured mothers loved their children more than life itself and Alecia was no different. She had been trying to fill a void and she looked Vaughn over. She watched him with careful eyes. Gabrielle wasn’t their concern but it stung to see such a beauty ripped apart like that. She sighed out quietly and shuddered at the memory. Alecia could be just as violent as Vaughn and it seemed wrong to her he was to stand trial for something he hadn’t even done.
“She wants to be your undoing.” Amelia said as she let her eyes close again.
“Because I was looking for Gabrielle.” She said to him quietly, “I was told she would be near Alecia.” In truth she hadn’t been meaning to run into the other woman and she opened her eyes to look at him.
“Peculiar.” She said as she threw an arm over her eyes and gave a breathy laugh. How odd it was that everyone seemed to have made their mind up about her. Even Amelia hadn’t really made up her mind right then, but she knew she couldn’t betray her side, no matter how much he did.
“Everyone seems so set that I’m going to betray you, even you, I should be offended.” Amelia remarked at his comment about betraying him. She thought for a while and stretched her legs out,
“Good thing I live to disappoint.” She murmured, halfway amused at the idea.
“That or I’ve yet to prove my loyalty in some way, in which case you should probably tell me what to do.” She mumbled, “Or are you worried I’ll throttle you while you’re unable to defend yourself, all burnt and doped up?” Amelia remarked with some teasing to her voice and a small laugh.
She would never.
She’d made her choice.
"Hmm," Vaughn agreed. Alecia wanted to be his undoing. But her love, perhaps her love had prevented Alecia from outright killing him. Vaughn wondered if that sparkle of love would prevent her even now from doing away with him effectively. That said, it was true that the ones behind his revival were a more pressing concern. Alecia had learned from her years as a leader. Admirable, almost.
If only she could let go of her bitter hate.
Vaughn fully believed they might mend their ways, given more time. Had Alecia not trapped him for decades. Time set hatred into stone.
Vaughn chuckled, "if even I'm convinced, we must be playing our parts right," he said by manner of weak excuse. While everyone looked at him, few would suspect Amelia to actually play a part at all. Who would expect a new pawn to be shoved on the board so carelessly?
No, Vaughn wasn't worried, though Amelia was capable of killing him.
"Throttling won't do," Vaughn said with a chuckle. He wouldn't die. Wouldn't need air, even. Vampires weren't alive in that way.
And, Vaughn found, even starving was difficult. Theoretically they could survive for years without blood. Yet his body had changed during those years of deprivation. Thirst and hunger would have taken him, were it not for his will.
"It needs to be fire, a cleansing flame," Vaughn muttered with a soft slur.
Gabrielle was hurt, but if she wasn't exposed to the rising dawn, she would survive. Vaughn curled a little closer into Amelia and sighed out.
His eyes slipped closed and Vaughn allowed himself to relax a little more for a while. It wasn't sleep, but he was skirting along the edges of it nonetheless. The burns made his skin tight and uncomfortable.
"We'll make them all look at me, so you're free to go as you please. A King and Queen, truly," Vaughn chuckled when the prolonged silence broke the cohesion of his thoughts.
He opened his eyes to a crack.
Gabrielle would need to live. She wouldn't talk.
"Did Archie mention the trial?"
Amelia had visited Archie, but not Xander.
"Tell Xander about Gabrielle, see your brother and say your part. I will visit him soon," Vaughn promised. It was only fair to give Amelia one last chance to reason with Arthur. Perhaps, if timed right, Arthur might exert his will for Amelia alone, though Vaughn doubted it.
Amelia raised an eyebrow, she had no intention of killing Vaughn. She wasn’t keen on it but maybe in some years when he tossed her aside.
“She told me you’d stop loving me eventually, toss me aside.” Amelia murmured, “Maybe then.” She muttered but she doubted it.
“She thinks you love me.” Amelia tutted some at the thought, Alecia made many mistakes and Amelia looked over to him.
“Cast me to wolves again.” She grumbled but Dolcey’s bedding was comfortable and she eyed him over. She would go out again when she was good and ready, she wanted some well deserved sleep after all the events. Vaughn spoke of cleansing fires and all that, though his slurring made it seem almost amusing.
She would go to Xander, see Arthur again and maybe her brother would have grown a will. Amelia couldn’t be the one to do it, she had given Arthur everything he wanted and it had really bitten her in the backside this time. He would only laugh, be cruel in all of his crazed hunger but it wouldn’t be harmful to at least try where Arthur couldn’t attack her so readily.
Amelia pushed herself up, somewhat frustrated. What type of frustration is was remained to be seen.
Amelia went to find some sleep, Dolcey more than happy to oblige and she fed and then sluggishly made her way back to the bed as she slumped down and kicked off her shoes. It had been a rough few days and all she wanted to do was forget but that wouldn’t happen. King and Queen he said, so why did she feel like a lady in waiting?
Amelia hugged the pillow to her chest and yawned, feeling pleasantly high and weightless and like sleep was within her reach. It was comfortable, warm and she felt very human again. It was nice. She did miss sleep, time tended to merge together with it.
“Sleep, you need to recover.” Amelia mumbled, her tongue thick.
Amelia left him. Alecia thought he loved Amelia. Hadn't he told Amelia that was the case already? Perhaps not. Perhaps she had been quicker to say that they shouldn't foster such attachments. That push and pull had made Vaughn yearn even more for Amelia. Pitiful creature that he was, he nearly let out a pathetic whine at Amelia's departure. Undoubtedly, she had left to do as he asked. Time pranced around him like an immaterial spectre, one he would likely fail to grasp for eternity -however long that might be. The irony of that thought made him chuckle. Sleep had yet to make an appearance, but that didn't mean Dolcey's efforts weren't good for other things.
And then Amelia returned.
Bless her. Vaughn didn't think it'd been long. The only measure of time was how sluggish his thoughts trickled down. Sleep, she bade him. Vaughn was twisted. He couldn't sleep. He longed for sleep. It was too soon after the previous time for him to succumb, never mind that the pains and itching of healing burns kept him up. No measure of exhaustion would haunt him as a vampire, so he was stuck suffering through it all.
Dolcey came after Amelia had fallen asleep.
She smirked and leaned down to check whether Amelia was properly asleep, then stretched out on the bed next to them.
"Did you tell her the truth?" she teased, finishing up the loose ends dangling from his unbandaged arm. They would need to be changed soon already. Their kind healed quick.
"About what?" Vaughn mumbled softly.
Dolcey tied a bow in the wraps.
"No," he admitted.
"I told her I pulled you from the sun and protected you," Vaughn disclosed. Not a lie, not the entire truth.
Yes, he had pulled Dolcey back, but it'd been after she had invited Vaughn to go together, if he was to go at all.
"There is no need."
Dolcey cocked her head, long hair dangling messily to one side. A smile graced her lips.
"Changed your mind?"
"That's okay, Vaughny, as long as I can keep you."
Dolcey toyed with Amelia's hair, stroking it back and combing the lush strands with her fingers. She enjoyed laying out her guests, liked the way they were relaxed and pliant. Like a painting, waiting to be coloured in.
"Won't you sleep?"
Dolcey's will rolled over him like a tidal wave, but didn't suffice to pull him under.
"You're no fun," she admitted with a pout.
Dreams were such a relief, a steadfast break in everything that had been going on lately. The nightmares were in the waking world. All of them. Arthur and his drinking, the monster she had made, the monster she had become, Alecia's cruelty, Vaughn's confusing attitude and everything in between. She wasn't sure she would ever feel at ease again but there was solace in sleep. Amelia could feel herself changing, like Alecia had. Jealousy, envy, anger, even some hatred and she didn't want to be like that. She had never been like that.
How long had it been? Amelia shifted after some time and her eyes fluttered open as she nestled further down in the sheets and blankets. It was exhausting, she just wanted to sleep more. She huffed as she tried to haul herself up to sit. Her will power to actually do anything was voided as she dragged a hand down her face and looked around the room.
She had to go and see Xander, and Arthur. She slumped back on the bed, heavily. She didn't want to do any of it. She wanted to hide from it all, she was starting to understand why people might face the sun so willingly. This must have been how Lucius had felt, defeated by Vaughn. She ground her teeth and sighed, agitated more than anything. She hadn't asked to be in the middle of all this and frankly, both Alecia and Vaughn needed to just stop. It wouldn't stop though, why would it? Because some red-head emerged and willed it to? Unlikely.
Amelia fixed her hair and sat on the edge of the bed, quite unwilling to do much of anything right then and there. It was all very well Alecia and Vaughn dishing out commands and orders. She was being unreasonable and she knew it as her shoulders grew slack and she wondered if that was all this immortality and everlasting life was, being caught in the games of people with too much time on their hands. She didn't know, perhaps sleep had been a poor idea. She longed to return to it but there were things that needed doing.
“I'm going to find Xander then.” Amelia remarked quietly.
Vaughn's distant gaze grew a little less glassy when Amelia slumped back heavily on the bed. She seemed terse. Not a morning person then? Or had her encounter with Alecia finally set some gears in motion? Alecia's will was one that put you at ease. Something that wasn't to be underestimated. If the underbelly feelings and instincts were numbed, what remained were meek doubts and hesitation in regards to her words. Lies suddenly seemed plausible. Half-truths kind reality.
It'd been a while. Dolcey had given Amelia a sound sleep. Vaughn felt somewhat less out of it. His arms were free from bandages now, but tender still. Fragile scars were only on the verge of healing. Just a day more and it'd just be aesthetics. Rough, callous and contorted skin, wrapped like bacon around the muscle and flesh of his arms.
Vaughn managed to push up a little, watch Amelia tie her hair up.
"You don't have to go so soon," Vaughn said softly. He reached out for Amelia's shoulder and pulled her back in. His mind was quiet and calm, a rare occurance, but less so after Dolcey's 'medicine'. The narcotics Dolcey liked to use gave you high and lows both. Vaughn marvelled at the creature before him. So vibrant.
"If you wait a while, I can come with you," he offered and carefully traced her cheek, then her collar bone.
He was lazy, his head still heavy. Amelia likely suffered something similar, after having just woken up. The bed was lush and comfortable, warm because of the gift of blood they'd consumed before sleeping. Dolcey was elsewhere. They were alone.
Vaughn leaned in for a slow kiss. He wouldn't take no for an answer.
Amelia's words had taken root in his mind. Alecia wasn't wrong.
"I do love you," Vaughn said. This was about them, not Alecia. "You don't have to do anything with that fact. I just like for you to know."
And if it would turn out to become his weakness, then so be it. Vaughn drowned himself in Amelia's eyes. No lies. No half-truths. Emotions had always come naturally to Vaughn. He felt too fiercely. Perhaps he should've been more understanding of Alecia's motives. Been more forgiving.
It was never too late for beings such as them, though Vaughn felt there was little left to say at this point. Personal matters aside, the guild needed a different leader in place. Someone new. Someone as vibrant as he had been.
Vaughn pulled her back and close and Amelia felt some of her tensions vanish, what sort of hold did he have over her? She hummed a little, she would prefer if Vaughn went with her to Xander's, only because she worried she would need his strength to face Arthur. She closed her eyes as he stroked her cheek and she opened her eyes when he spoke to her again. Curious green eyes watched him,
“We made a deal.” She said quietly when he professed his to her but she wasn't disappointed. She wanted to say it back but there was a danger to all of it. To admit her feelings, it left her open to heartbreak and she swallowed some.
Her eyes looked over his hands and arms, reaching out to gently dance her fingers up them, slowly. She sighed out softly and nuzzled into his neck.
“You'd break my heart.” She whispered in his ear softly. It was comfortable, intimate and she didn't mind sharing secrets like this. He made it so easy.
Eternity was such a long time, to spend with one person and in a murderous game of chess it would just be risky. She reached out and wound her arms around Vaughn, revelling in the closeness, selfishly. She knew she loved him, she couldn't deny if she was asked directly and wouldn't. She sighed out and wished they could stay like this. That would be a relief. To hide away and gather their strength to take on the world.
It was nice to be alone though, to have him to herself where they could touch and be at ease. She leaned up and kissed him lazily and deeply. Whatever unspoken utterances, poured into the kiss. She tilted her head back and sighed out. Alecia was wrong, she had to be. Vaughn could be a cold-blooded killer but he was also passionate in his resolve and he loved hard, she had seen it with Lucius. She grinned at him, lazing at his side.
“We can be late.” She mused to him quietly, shifting to sit atop him as she looked down at him, she felt like being lazy and taking it slowly, reclaiming Vaughn and teaching him a lesson for leaving her stood up like that.
A deal, was it now? Vaughn smirked lazily at the words. Amelia should know by now he did as he pleased. Keen hazel eyes regarded the young woman. Without his will, Amelia was denying him the words. His interest was piqued. What was she afraid of? Commitment was different as a vampire. The rules humans liked to restrain themselves by didn't apply to the eternal creatures they potentially could be. That said, not many vampires made it to be older than several hundred years. It took a certain tenacity to struggle through the years and keep up with progression and fight boredom along the way.
He'd break her heart, now would he?
Those words didn't stop Amelia from coming on to him right then. What words she was afraid to speak, were instead conveyed with her body. Selfishly, they relished in each other's company, their proximity and warmth. Heat was shared between them, the heat of their consumed prey, but heat nonetheless.
Vaughn didn't press Amelia to confess. He was confident enough without the need to hear her answer. Some things were best allowed to just be unspoken, undefined and unresearched, so they could remain in the moment. Vaughn liked how fleeting life could be. This exact moment wouldn't be imaginable several decades ago. Happenstance and fate caused their worlds to collide.
A lazy grin mirrored his.
Amelia made use of his languid demeanour and easily took over control. Vaughn knew what it was like to submit to another and again, he wasn't afraid to give himself or receive. Amelia was temptation personified as she pointed out they could be late. Vaughn whole-heartedly agreed and leaned up to kiss her, pulling her in closer for what would undoubtedly be a passionate and lengthy bodily conversation.
Vaughn took his time to explore every angle, indulged himself and when Dolcey entered their room to watch, Vaughn didn't miss a beat. Let them watch. He would take the stage and perform. And if Amelia felt awkward at having Dolcey there to watch, Vaughn didn't give her much opportunity to explore those feelings for very long. He'd never slept. His arms were still tender scars, but none of that stopped Vaughn from having what he wanted. She deserved better. Amelia had asked him to deal with Arthur, but honestly? Would it be a mercy to Amelia to help Arthur?
Amellia took her time with Vaughn, going slow and careful. He still had tender points with the scars and she didn't want to cause harm, this was about pleasure after all. What she couldn't say with her words, she said with her body instead. She did love him, she loved him more than she had ever loved any man in her life but there was a small amount of fear at such a thing. Dolcey came in, and Amelia was struck with sudden hesitation but Vaughn guided her back to a place where it was irrelevant. Their primal sounds filled the room and drowned out anything else. Captured and draw into the moment, Amelia made sure Vaughn was satisfied and so was she, finally collapsing at his side and breathing deeply.
A satisfied smirk played on her lips, easing down among the pillows and blankets of Dolcey's place. Her mind was clear of things to do and worries of what could happen right then. It didn't matter, any of it. It could wait until they were both recovered from their exploration of one another's bodies and untangled from bed sheets.
Amelia didn't feel like moving too soon anyways and despite having delved into pleasures with Dolcey previously, she had wanted to lay some sort of claim to Vaughn, to be intimate with him alone, have something she shared with him and no one else. It was selfish and clingy, mostly likely but she was sure so many had been enraptured by him over the years and she was likely no new thing but to her, he was a marvel of a man. Strong beneath her fingers and yet she had seen and felt his tenderness in the small moments they had. There was still so much to do, so much to deal with but they were allowed a selfish break of indulgence.
Amelia leaned up and gifted a lazy kiss to his lips, lazy and spent as she nestled down more. Sleep wouldn't come again but she could at least bask in the afterglow of everything and simply exist for a while. How much time passed, she wasn't entirely sure. An hour, maybe more?
“We should get going, Xander will be missing you.” She said with a small amount of teasing to her tone.
Amelia was beautiful in her own divine right. Vaughn felt but a participant to her desire, but didn't mind one bit to be subject to Amelia's whiles and meeting her each step of the way. Only once they were both satisfied did their world expand beyond the bed-sheets. Dolcey was still there, smoking something Vaughn doubted was regular tobacco from a water-pipe, watching them both with intent, dark eyes. Vaughn pulled Amelia closer as she nestled down and closed his eyes then. Remarkably, or perhaps because his need for physical contact had finally been sated, sleep did dance around him then in enough measure to harbour dreams.
Amelia's voice filtered through his flimsy excuse for sleep and Vaughn looked down at her red hair, spilled across the pillow behind her. No thoughts came to his drowsy mind then. Everything was still. Comprehension dawned at long last. Late? For Xander?
A dreamy snort fell from his lips.
"Xander knows fine well what patience is," he said with a sleep-addled voice.
Vaughn would argue that Xander had the key to patience down to an exact science, the way he determined whether the subjects under his wing were ready to exert their will. In his time, Vaughn had not been that patient. Times had been crueler then.
Dolcey finally tore her eyes away from them both and rose up to leave them alone once more. Vaughn wondered what went through Dolcey's mind. For however long he'd known Dolcey, she would never cease to amaze or bore. Vaughn hoped Amelia would be a kindred spirit. Someone who would remain entertaining and equal.
He pulled Amelia closer and kissed the top of her head.
"Does that mean you'll help me get cleaned up?" Vaughn asked softly in the privacy of their togetherness.
His arms had healed to some extent, leaving scars in the burns' wake, but the skin was still tight and glistening, sensitive. Hopefully Xander would be accommodating. Vaughn considered consuming human-oriented solutions to his eternal hunger, but still didn't feel like testing his stomach with them. Even water was an ill match currently.
Vaughn took a deep breath and let go of Amelia, giving her leave to get up first.
"Let's pay Xander a visit then," he agreed. They had dawdled aplenty. Vaughn pressed a parting kiss to Amelia's lips and then carefully sat up.
Couldn’t the world simply melt away in such moments? She sighed out quietly and stretched when Vaughn kissed the top of her head. She wanted nothing more than to stay in and be tired and content like this for a while. Dolcey was all but forgotten about, Amelia would make her apologies later. She looked to Vaughn’s hands, the scars were a harsh reminder of what could happen and she nodded to him,
“Of course.” She obliged when he mentioned help cleaning up. She would like nothing more than to keep the intimacy with him for as long as she could. The moments were fleeting and would become scarcer still, and yet Amelia couldn’t bring herself to speak the words.
Amelia sat up when she was released and looked him over. Dolcey wouldn’t mind her drawing up a bath for her Vaughn, provided they didn’t abuse it.
She draped a towel around herself as she moved through to the en-suite. Everything about Dolcey was grand and the bath was no different as Amelia settled on the side of it and kept the water somewhat cool, she didn’t want to cause any further pain to Vaughn, he was healing after all and she tested the water. Best there were no soaps until he was submerged and she grinned over at him when he made an appearance,
“Don’t think I’ve ever seen such a massive bath before.” She remarked to him with a soft smile.
She gestured to the water,
“Kept it cool.” She said to him as she approached and let the towel fall by the wayside, leaning up to press an encouraging kiss to his lips before freeing him to the bath. Those injuries would scar for a time, maybe. She was still unsure how exactly it all worked, maybe scars wouldn’t last forever like on human skin. It brought about a lot of questions and Amelia eyed the tender skin, picking up a washcloth and gently beginning to dab at Vaughn’s skin, lazily.
Vaughn followed in Amelia's wake, but at a far slower pace. His head swam a little with the drugs, but nothing he hadn't experienced before. Amelia was like a forbidden fruit, nestled gracefully on the edge of the pristine white tub. Massive, was it now? Vaughn smiled at her, naked as the day he was born. Like this, his body betrayed the evidence of what he had tried to do. The lies he spun, oh the lies he spun. Vaughn thought he would tire of it after all those years of imprisonment, but it had become a second nature to him. To all vampires. They lied and schemed to get what they wanted, for the sole pleasure of having it. Of watching some sort of effect from their existence, which was as mundane and pointless as any other human's.
And yet, there were moments where everything was forgotten.
Where the carnal grace of merely existing was enough to perpetuate their current state of being.
Cool, was it now?
Amelia's towel fell away to disclose what lay underneath. There were no secrets between them like this. Vaughn did as his lady bid and carefully stepped into the tub, sinking down with trembling arms. But he left no smudged on the porcelain. His skin remained intact. Amelia's eyes traced the skin that was now bared in the light and Vaughn observed, like the careless predator he was, in kind.
"It will heal," Vaughn eased some of the concern he could see in Amelia's face. Like Brandon's faded tattoos and jaded wrinkles, his burns too would heal. Gabrielle came to mind. They had dawdled too long, perhaps. Certainly Gabrielle was not theirs to guard however. Whoever her sire was would.
Vaughn hadn't imagined someone at his side.
Not in all those years.
Rather than ask the obvious, Vaughn knew with full confidence it was due to love. Love faded. For some people love faded as the terms changed. Would Amelia find it in herself to keep loving him? Alecia did so still, apparently. Vaughn would admit the only reason Alecia was still alive, was due to some kind of lingering fondness. Some type of emotion that was so washed down, it was now hard to describe.
"How do you see your future, Amelia?" Vaughn asked gently.
Amelia watched Vaughn, the scars didn't line up with what he had told her but she kept quiet. She gazed at him, it would ruin the tranquility and he must have had good reason. She wasn't even sure her deduction was correct as she let him slip into the tub. She gently dabbed away, silent as she cleansed him. His question caught her off guard and she furrowed her brow, keen eyes narrowing when she tried to think about it. She didn't know.
“I-” She faltered, “Vaughn, I don't know.” She said to him with a small smile as she finished her work on him and slipped into the tub herself, it didn't matter about his scars, all of it was impressive. She brought a cloth to start washing herself and tried to think. Given everything that had been going on, she couldn't rightly say what her future held.
“I suppose it depends on you.” She remarked after some time of thinking and met his amber gaze.
“On whether you stick around.” She would have liked to have him at her side, but then he could change his mind. The littering of corpses seemed to fall in his wake as past lovers and she sighed out as she gazed at him.
“And of course, I don't end up as part of the corpses.” She commented, frankly. Things were so complex right then and her emotions seemed trivial in comparison to it all.
“I know what I would like it to look like, I'd like the experience everything, properly, with you.” Experience a whirlwind romance that she wanted so desperately during her mortal life, a proper lifetime of having someone who cared and showed it. Perhaps she would have found that in her mortal life, eventually. She wouldn't ever know now.
Amelia tipped her head back on the side of the tub and revelled in the water against her skin.
“I suppose, we wait and see what happens.” She mused, mostly to herself. There was still the trial, Alecia, everything to deal with and she always figured immortality would be a great way to simply get rich and have some fun times, so far it had been stressful and full of politics and the fun had been an afterthought. She had a beautiful penthouse though, and a gorgeous car to boot even if it was banged up.
Amelia's words faltered. She didn't know what her future ought to look like. Vaughn had a hard time comprehending that. So carefree. Not a thought spared for an ideal world. So unlike him. There were clauses.
"Oh?" Vaughn mused, entertaining Amelia's thoughts.
On whether he stuck around? He smiled. Amelia's instincts were uncanny. She would need that kind of prowess where they were headed.
"Everything?" he chased gently.
If he could help it, Amelia would not end up as part of the corpses. But it wasn't impossible. Someone might play him, might be on to just exactly how intimate they were. How close. Vaughn liked to believe his reputation could shield Amelia, but reality was often decidedly different.
He watched Amelia relax and simply sat there, ruminating the course he had chosen so far. 'We wait and see what happens'. Vaughn smirked. "I'm not too fond of sitting back," he confessed. Vaughn liked being in control. Or no, he enjoyed watching his plans pan out. Dolcey's poisonous kiss made it easier to relax.
An idea sprang to mind. One that was so bold, Vaughn almost immediately refuted it as a potential move. Almost. His eyes landed on Amelia while his mind played out all the different ways his plans could carry them. Away from here, evidently. To the world. To see it all and experience 'everything'. For eternity?
Would she write about that, about eternity? His little scholar.
Vaughn closed his eyes and rested back. His body yearned for blood yet again. Not as much as Arthur would be however. Poor old Art.
Xander thought Vaughn would leave Arthur to rot, that's how late his blood-brother was. And when he did show up, it was only in marginally better shape than he had been at the guild's meeting.
"You're late," Xander greeted the pair at the door.
Vaughn gave him that shit-eating grin he'd grown so infuriated with. Xander clenched his jaw and let the curiosity about his persona do the questioning for him. If there was a measure of concern, Vaughn decided not to respond to it.
"All in good time," Vaughn played down any concerns. "Now, how is the youngest Rivers fairing?"
"Hungry," Xander bit.
"So moody," Vaughn called out Xander with a pat to his cheek. Xander caught his wrist. Vaughn's eyes skitted from Xander's face to his wrist and back. His grin went from smile to hesitant smirk.
Xander sighed out and let Vaughn go.
"I take it you're hungry then," and beckoned them inside.
Xander looked terse and Amelia looked him over, still back at the bath as she thought over everything. There was a lot she wanted to do, things Vaughn had likely seen and experienced. She smiled at him and Xander’s interaction, truly like brothers they were. She glanced to Xander when Arthur was mentioned and nodded. She prayed he displayed a will, something that would keep him from death in such a terrible way. Their exchange was tense, she wondered if it came down to it, whether Xander would stand by Vaughn. She liked to think so.
“Yes, thanks.” Amelia said to Xander when he mentioned them being hungry. She had fed at Dolcey’s but sleep has rekindled an appetite and she looked around Xander’s home. Brandon was skulking around, she could tell but he kept his distance now Vaughn was back. Interesting. Predictable.
Amelia found a seat and took a glass of the blood wine from Xander, shifting a little.
“Thank you, for keeping me.” She said to Xander. Given how tumultuous everything had been, she would have understood if Xander had let her fend for herself before the gathering. It was somewhat of a relief to know that if something happened to Vaughn, there were safe havens she could go to. Vaughn’s disappearance had certainly led people to speculate about what would happen to her and Alecia hadn’t been shy about giving her more than one chance to abandon him and choose her side.
She knew what would be safer, but she had never really been the sort to play it safe. Alecia ought to have known better by asking her to make that decision. If it were her, she would have made the same choice. Amelia still had questions about Vaughn and his past that lingered on parted lips but they were for another time.
“Nice to see you again. And you’re welcome, for the escort and all that.” Brandon tipped his glass with a sly smirk on his lips when he came in and looked to Vaughn. He did wonder if he knew that he would be the reason the red head would end up dead. Alecia would try to hurt him, make him grovel and her minions would see Amelia to the sunlight. Brandon looked to Vaughn’s hands and the scars they bore there. Amelia didn’t know the half of any of it, did she?
"Well, someone has to shield you from that idiot," Xander muttered under his breath, then smiled sweetly as he offered Vaughn his drink.
"Thank you," Vaughn said, though it wasn't clear what for, the drink or safe-guarding Amelia in his time of absence. Brandon, snoop that he was, felt inclined to intervene. Ah, to be that young and brazen again. It was a shame Brandon was now a Broadwell. It was the perfect cover in many ways. Xander was keeping the young man around still and Vaughn knew it was just another mine to evade on an already precarious route through a field riddled with them. An additional challenge. They would laugh about it later.
Right now, Vaughn merely smiled at Brandon and pretended not to notice the way Brandon smelled faintly of nervous sweat and conspiracy. His fingers itched for the sun's scorch once more, if it meant watching Brandon burn.
Vaughn sighed out and drank deeply from his glass. The blood tasted fresh enough.
"So are you ready for the trial?" Xander asked. A pretence. Just making conversation. Vaughn looked up. "Well, what is there to say?" he said diplomatically.
"I doubt any of us bore witness to Lucius' departure, if you're asking me," Vaughn mused. Xander drank from his wine and swirled it around after, observing the red liquid. The Kenworthy were silent without their leader. A muted sound that could stifle votes in the guild's gathering. Alecia's little trial was just to ensure no matters of true importance cropped up in that time.
Xander didn't think Lucius' death was in any way calculated by Vaughn. It just was something that happened.
"How is Arthur fairing?" Vaughn asked next, derailing conversation.
Xander took a deep breath. "He's... you're late," Xander warned.
"Good," he confessed.
Xander narrowed his eyes, but caught on to Vaughn's intention. So it was as he had expected.
"Just because he's more time doesn't..." Xander's eyes travelled to Amelia. His words faltered.
"I apologize," he said. "Only the best for your brother."
Xander met Vaughn's gaze. What they would find down there would not be nice. Vaughn wondered if he himself had been like that those first few weeks. Whether Alecia had watched over him as he had lost all sanity. It hadn't lasted. Vaughn had rediscovered himself during his intermittent vast. Perhaps Arthur could do the same. Vaughn desperately hoped the damage Arthur brought upon himself by drinking would have mended itself. Only those whole of mind would find a will strong enough to cultivate.
Amelia watched them all, she cocked her head. Vaughn was late, so what? It dawned on her after a moment and she sighed. She remembered feeling horrendous, but she had looked worse. Her nails, her skin, the way she was drawn in. Arthur had been like that longer and she looked to Vaughn. She wasn't sure if she wanted to see him. She gazed at him for a while, fingers running along the cool glass of the wine in her fingers. She nodded to Xander at his apology, it wasn't needed. Still, Arthur deserved his opportunity to exert a will and if he couldn't, then he deserved to be put out of his misery. Her eyes danced towards the direction of the basement and she drew in a breath.
“I want to speak with him.” She said to them, finally. She wasn't asking.
Xander looked to Vaughn, doubting it would do any good and might be more harm than it was worth. He nodded,
“Very well. Keep your distance.” Perhaps it was best Amelia was educated in what happened to the starving and just how excruciating their existence could be. Maybe then she would understand why it was so difficult and not everyone could be a vampire that functioned properly. Amelia got to her feet and brushed past Brandon without so much as a look. She eyed the stairs to the basement and her nose immediately turned, it wasn't a pleasant smell that came from there. She swallowed back her own trepidation and cleared her throat.
She stepped inside, the air was thick in the strangest way. It was as though death clung to the walls but nothing had died. She looked towards the cell her brother was housed in but what was clinging to the bars was not her brother. Amelia felt a twinge of disgust as she looked at him. He was skinny, emaciated almost with sunken features and his hair slick with grease and oil. He looked dead, like a walking corpse.
Disgust and pity.
When he looked at her with sunken eyes, it wasn't him and he stared at her like he didn't know her. Like she was a stranger. It was harrowing.
“Christ…” She whispered, a chill running up her spine. This was unpleasant. Had she looked like that, when Vaughn had brought her forward and into the true realm of vampirism by exacting her will. She hoped not.
Vaughn looked away when Xander looked for his approval. Arthur would not be as Amelia recognized her brother and if it was her last memory of him, it wouldn't particularly be any nicer than having witnessed her brother whittle away at the hands of cancer. Vaughn followed behind slowly, blood still in hand. He didn't care if it rattled the occupants of the cells. Arthur was too far gone anyway. No energy left to even grasp at blood, though Vaughn felt he might. Like a reptile waiting to strike, Arthur would conserve his energy. Like he had done for years.
Amelia's whispered words fell on deaf ears.
Xander took a breath and then crossed his arms. They were, as always, accompanied by two of the Broadwell family. Brandon, this time, and someone else. Vaughn hadn't met the other vampire before, but neither of their company was particularly impressive. He wasn't sure who was the more dangerous presence here; Arthur or them.
At least Arthur's yearning was truthful.
No more lies would fall from Arthur's lips. Hunger would have stripped him bare. Whether anything remained underneath remained up for grabs. Vaughn gave Amelia time and walked to the circle where he had coaxed from Amelia her will. Her ability to bring fear into the hearts of those that would dare oppose her.
He put the glass down. It was still mostly full, in spite of his own hunger and need to heal. Xander unfurled his arms and approached Amelia.
Vaughn seemed ready to take his role as tormentor at last.
Rather that ease Amelia's suffering, Xander merely touched her shoulder.
"Come," he eased.
Xander's gaze flicked to Brandon, who stood a little straighter under his mentor's scrutiny. A little less relaxed.
"Don't get in the way," he instructed the two.
There was no way Xander could protect either of the two of them from Vaughn, if they made that mistake.
Xander gave Amelia a gentle tug.
"Trust me," Xander reasoned, not unkindly. There was a certain amount of sorrow in his blue eyes, an emotion that seemed as complex as it was fleeting. No one had appreciated this side of Vaughn, except maybe those few who had exerted a will where they otherwise wouldn't have. Xander wasn't certain how long it would take, but if Vaughn was dedicated, which he was due to his promise with Amelia, it could take days.
There was nothing from Arthur, just a hollowed out husk almost. She had never seen anything like it. Xander's words and gentle tug pulled her back to the here and now. Perhaps she would have been better off letting the cancer take Arthur, he didn't look capable of exacting a will right then. Her throat felt dry and she felt a little sick as she looked to Vaughn. He would do what was necessary, she did believe that he would do his very best with Arthur but she didn't want to witness it. She remembered how cruel he had been with her, to pull her forth. It had been early, she remembered and she was grateful for what he had done.
Amelia did dread what would happen to Arthur though, if he didn't show a will. She drew in a breath and realised she had been standing like some lost lamb for a few minutes, buried in her own stormy thoughts. She couldn't stay and she didn't want to, it seemed like such a cowardice way out but it would do Arthur no favours, her staying there. She didn't know what to say to Vaughn right then. She trusted his judgement and he knew that by now, surely. She offered up a false smile, pushed for simple assurance more than anything and Xander led her up the stairs. It was uncomfortably quiet as she was handed more blood wine to tide her over. Nothing took her interest, not even Xander's talks about everything that had been going on and he soon quietened when he realised the red-head wasn't in the mood for small talk. Strangely enough, this was the most worried she had been for Arthur.
“Not to worry, Miss Perth, Vaughn could pull a will from a rock.” Xander attempted to comfort and she just nodded to him. She gazed at him for a while and he gestured he would stay with her for now, he was not unkind nor was he cold. He actually felt some for the woman, being turned into a vampire and dropped into the middle of a civil battle between Alecia and Vaughn was hardly enjoyable.
Thrown into the mix was her brother, he did wish Vaughn had warned her or stopped her from committing the act but there was little could be done about it now. The deed was done and the consequences were now in full swing. What happened now was up to Arthur and his flimsy resolve.
Xander gave him a look and Vaughn looked away, to the blood he had set out. The blood which scent immediately grabbed every caged soul's attention the second Amelia left and the door closed behind. Brandon shifted feet, the other young Broadwell seemed more at ease. Their arms were held loosely behind them, eyes forward, staring at nothing while keeping guard over everything. Vaughn smirked at Brandon, but then moved to Arthur's cage.
"Pretty, isn't she? Your sister?" Vaughn whispered.
Arthur's senses would be heightened due to the hunger. Every fibre of Arthur's being would be focussed on reaching the blood that was set out. If there was any moisture left to salivate, Arthur might have done so.
Vaughn out his scar-twisted hands to Arthur's. He could feel how Arthur was locked in the decision of fighting him, wounding him for the soiled blood in his veins and between awaiting another opportunity. Before a decision could fall however, Vaughn exacted his will over the pitiful creature. It was that easy. His will would intimidate creatures far greater than Arthur into inaction.
Slowly, Vaughn reached for the latch and undid the bolts.
The cage door swung open with a creaky protest. Vaughn gestured at the blood he had set out.
"Go on then," he invited Arthur, knowing full-well the man would have to fight his will to even move so much as a single muscle.
"It's the blood that you crave, pure, unadulterated," Vaughn upped the ante. Frankly, he was just toying. Arthur would have the blood eventually. It wouldn't be enough, but perhaps it would give Arthur the strength he needed to exact a will, if there was anything of Arthur left.
Vaughn walked away from the cage, confident enough to show Arthur his back and wandered over to the circle.
He couldn't say too much. Brandon was listening.
The walls had ears. Xander's reminder. Curse his blood-brother. Xander played his role too well.
"So you and Brandon," Xander started with a nod to the basement.
"I think, we're all curious as to what Vaughn shares with you," he mused solemnly, drinking deeply from the Kenworthy stash of wine.
Xander's blue eyes were curious, eager maybe, to fill the gaps for Amelia.
"Surprisingly, Vaughn doesn't like talking much," Xander said to fill the silence. He stared outside. They were far away enough that some of the stars were visible in the night sky.
Amelia watched Xander carefully,
“I think Brandon's interest is a little more than a friend, if that's what you mean.” She remarked to him. Brandon had been rather keen on her since the beginning and it was no secret. She didn't trust him though, and she was confused as to why Xander did. Then again, maybe he was keeping his enemies close.
“His bed.” Amelia said to Xander, flatly and sighed out. She didn't know what Xander expected her to say, there wasn't much that she knew when it came to Vaughn, pieces told from others mouths.
“I know some of his story, from Alecia and him. And Lucius.” She murmured to Xander quietly and she looked towards the basement, “There's ore to him though.” She said, a wisp of a smile emerging on her face.
“It's a cliché I'm sure many men and women who have come to know him have said, there's more to him than the destruction.” She explained, almost to herself. It didn't forgive his sins, but he never asked for forgiveness.
“There's something to that fury, that destruction.” She looked back to Xander, “He would burn down the world for those he cares about, face a dozen dawns if it meant to keep them safe.” He had raged so hard when Lucius died, if they were destined to grow apart in time, then Amelia could only hope that passion remained for her when the time came.
Arthur sneered and eyed the blood, wary of a trick. He lunged for it and drank it greedily, but didn't spare a droplet as he rounded on Vaughn, his chest heaving with the mere effort of standing. Like Amelia, he had forgotten how long he had been down here. His nostrils flared for more blood and his jaw remained slightly parted.
“Don't you touch her.” Arthur finally managed to drawl out, Amelia. Somewhere he remembered his sister, it was in the back of his mind and he wanted to rip Vaughn apart, take his tainted blood. He hadn't lost his memories but so much had been encased in the back of his mind that it was dulled out by bloodlust. He dared to grin towards Vaughn.
“Not so different, are we.” He stated bluntly, his voice a rasp, unused for days as his long nails itched to dig into flesh and he looked towards the two Broadwell's, they were nothing. The prize here was Vaughn.
“Careful, you have competition.” Arthur sneered and glanced towards Brandon. There was flashes of memories, of digging into Amelia's neck in some shoddy alleyway and alcohol but he couldn't remember the taste of it. Amelia's blood though left a taste on his tongue. The mere thought of it sending chills down his spine.
“Give me what I want.” He muttered, he needed to feed.
Arthur drank greedily, as expected. Vaughn watched the young vampire, adjusting his sleeves. His jacket was slung across the wooden slats covering the well in the centre of the dank dungeon.
"You have lost the right to protect Amelia from anyone, Arthur," Vaughn said simply. It wasn't even an argument, just a simple fact. "You don't care about her the way she does for you, but don't you worry. I'll make her forget all about your petty existence soon enough," he reassured Arthur.
No. They weren't that different.
Vaughn gave Arthur a little smile at that clever statement. He'd heard less from better. At least Arthur's tenacity was commendable. Competition? Vaughn's eyes drifted over to Brandon for a flash, but then drew back to Arthur. Brandon wasn't that interesting. He'd already thought up what would happen to the young man. And it would happen soon. After all, Alecia had insisted the trial be the next moon.
"Oh? Yes, of course," Vaughn started, folding his sleeves back. "And what is it you want, Arthur? A drink? It's always want, need, isn't it?"
Vaughn curled his gnarled fingers into a fist. His fingernails were claws. His skin thick as leather. Scars.
"I should've let Amelia kill you," Vaughn said with a measure of faded regret. "Wouldn't that have been a sweet irony, after you feeding on her all this time? After your daddy died, after mommy passed? Whenever you were thirsty for liquor, for blood? Did it feel good to drain your sister? To suck the life out of her? We're not that different, I agree." Vaughn grabbed Arthur by the next and lifted him closer.
"We're not that different. I'll protect Amelia now. From you, if I must. Gladly."
Amelia was witty. Xander stifled a smirk when Amelia replied Vaughn shared his bed with her and little else. She corrected herself a breath later, saying some of Vaughn's history had come to light, courtesy of his dear family. Lucius. Ah, the famed Lucius.
"Hmm, there sure is," Xander admitted there was something to Vaughn's madness. If the world could burn at Vaughn's command, Xander feared more of it would have done so. As it was, Vaughn tended to limit himself to a few select targets. Alecia being one of them.
"It's true," Xander agreed after some thought. "Vaughn saved us all, at some point." Not everyone had agreed with the way they had gotten there, but here they were now, relishing in riches and ample blood-supply in part because of Vaughn's sacrifices. Not as if they hadn't served the vampire himself though.
"Do you feel Brandon would do the same for you?"
More than a friend was right. But not as a lover either. Or perhaps that, but only out of convenience.
"You never did stick around to hear about the unsaintly," Xander pointed out and finished his wine, before carefully pouring a second glass. He moved to top up Amelia's as well. "Although I suppose if you attend Lucius' trial you're bound to meet first-hand." A sigh fell from his lips.
"The unsaintly were Vaughn's idea."
Xander leaned back and savoured his drink. "A gathering of man that know of our existence, sworn to secrecy by the mutual benefit our species can offer one another. Let's not forget we need their blood to thrive. And sometimes... sometimes man's politics needs a little--" Xander breathed in through his teeth.
"Intervention," he settled.
"After all, with the amount of bored intrigue, where would that leave justice? So the trials are held by a panel of humans," he chuckled at the irony. There was a reason Vaughn usually walked away from these trials.
"Like the arbiter during the meetings. Of course, it takes a particular breed of human to withstand a vampire's will. Only a few blood-lines have that ability. Old family. They do more than that though. A bridge, between money estate, wealth, identity and whatever else a modern world needs from an ordinary human."
Xander grew quiet.
"Brandon is an intervenor, although now a vampire one. And we don't know why. And he's taken an interest in... well, you," he finished with a benevolent smile.
Arthur glared at Vaughn, right then his age and strength didn't matter. He was Amelia's brother, he had struggled and he had found solace but that didn't give another man the right to come in and put claim to Amelia like that, his sister. Vaughn would never know Amelia the way he had, he had grown up, held her as a child. He snarled at Vaughn, trying to dig his nails into the other vampire's flesh.
“She wouldn't have killed me, she's sweet.” Arthur muttered to Vaughn, his anger was rising and he had never felt so depraved and angry.
“She will never be yours.” Amelia had never kept a man very long, Arthur in all of his ignorance believed that the men never hung around because Amelia was free-spirited.
“Men come and go, you're no different.” Arthur spat out the words, clinging to his delusion as he so often did, “No man would clip her wings.” But men had, he had. Arthur had failed to see the obvious. Right then, Vaughn was a threat and so were the two Broadwell's. He wrestled free from Vaughn and lunged at the Broadwell beside Brandon, the growls and tearing filled the room and he rounded on Vaughn, blood dripping from his fingertips.
“You will never have her. I won't allow it.”
Amelia raised an eyebrow towards Xander and smiled some,
“Lucius seemed like a good soul.” She would actually miss him, despite only knowing him for a short time. He had made an impact that would be felt for a long time. She stared at Xander, Vaughn had created the Unsaintly? She hardly believed it. The trial, she would be going whether she was allowed to or not, to witness proceedings and gain understanding of what went on in those kind of places. Vampire courthouse, it could be a television programme.
“I believe Brandon's interests are… As harmful as I let them be.” Amelia said, choosing her words carefully around Xander. Brandon was a Broadwell, after all.
“Perhaps in another life me and Brandon may have been something. Vaughn doesn't like to share and neither do I.” She commented with a small smile as she listened to Xander. He was wiser than he let on and she nodded to him.
“Why did you allow Brandon among your family?” She asked him, curiously, “And if this is some old timey ‘marry the woman off so the families can unite’, forget about it.” She added with an amused smile towards Xander when he mentioned Brandon's interest in her.
But Arthur would've killed Amelia. Arthur had taken Amelia had kept her from leading her life in a fulfilling way. Vaughn dropped Arthur when the young vampire lashed out, rendering his attacks meaningless and empty.
Never, hmm? Truly, though Amelia had been traumatized into holding back the words, all the feelings and promises were there, voiced by her body, which was a lot worse at lying or omitting than Amelia ever could be.
No man ought to clip Amelia's wings. Arthur wasn't wrong in that. Vaughn took the advice into account, though it came from a deprived man. The Broadwell was prepared for Arthur's attack, but couldn't prevent from being clawed at, weak as Arthur's attacks would be. It didn't take long for Arthur to consider the assault pointless, because the main offender was Vaughn.
"Oh, Arthur, I already have her," Vaughn said, almost apologetically. "But I promise you that, unlike you, I won't clip her wings. I will help Amelia soar, if she chooses, because I respect Amelia. A courtesy you appear to lack." The last word came out in a snarl and was accompanied by a backhand that had Arthur on his back on the floor. He was no human. His strength was that of a vampire's. Arthur was but a nuisance in the face of that strength.
"She couldn't have killed you, Arthur. You're already dead," Vaughn cajoled Arthur to come back up and try again. "You're incapable of something as simple as living. Life is wasted on you. I should just have you join your parents. I might reconsider my promises," he mused softly.
Xander raised an eyebrow at Amelia. She had misinterpreted his words. Gossip and intrigue could be complex, he was willing to admit. He contemplated correcting Amelia's assumptions about Brandon, who was so evidently using what attraction was there between the two of them for something else. Information, most likely. Or to get closer to the Perth family. It was widely known the Perths weren't exactly renowned for their celibacy or monogamy. As long as Amelia knew exactly how harmful her words could be to Vaughn or her, then it would be... fine.
Marry off the-- Xander chuckled and rolled his eyes, "no, far from. I'm sure if Vaughn were propositioned, such a connection would be easily made anyway," he said with a smirk. Everyone knew Xander and Vaughn were thick as thieves.
"As for Brandon, well. Vaughn asked me to play a role and 'adopting' Brandon fell into that role perfectly. I felt like playing," Xander admitted. No one needed to be made aware that the Xander had simply picked up where they had left off when Vaughn disappeared.
"During the votes, the Broadwell family was against Alecia being in charge. And we still are," Xander raised his glass, "loyal to Vaughn, that is, would he take back the role. But I don't think he will go there. That said, I think Vaughn just wants to topple it all."
Xander glanced in the direction of the basement.
"There is actually something he asked you do, while your brother is being held up a mirror," he gestured. "...he asked us to do, really." Xander held out a hand, "let's have the Broadwell head of family inquire after a little bird, shall we?"
Arthur drew his lips back, he had never been treated with such disrespect in all his days. To be backhanded to the floor and have a man so brazenly admit to being with his sister. He narrowed his eyes at Vaughn, more animal than man. He wasn’t doing very well on understanding everything. He just needed to feed and shut Vaughn up, for good. And then what, he didn’t know. He would take Amelia away from it all, why did he recall her being afraid? It came in flashes that Arthur tried to disassociate from.
Then something switched on, the mention of Vaughn sending him off to join with his parents and being already dead. It was infuriating of course but there was something else, like a light clicking on his head. Vaughn was full of it, he was no better than Arthur was and he had no right to stand there as though he did! He didn’t need to know Vaughn’s history or his story, Arthur could smell it on just like he could smell it on himself. Joy from destruction.
“Doesn’t it hurt you to keep control?” Arthur muttered, licking his fry and cracked lips, “You want to unleash it, don’t you?” Arthur wasn’t sure why he was pressing that issue but with his will, came a surge to simply lose one’s temper and unleash all fury and destruction. Control was such a fickle mistress, trying to tame everyone who came in contact with her. Vaughn needed to lose control. Just like Arthur. Even Amelia wanted to lose control, everyone did.
Amelia looked to Xander and pulled a face at the thought of any arrangement being made. Especially on her behalf, she would lock Vaughn in a box herself if he ever tried it. She listened to him talk about the politics and her eyebrows knitted together.
“I thought you would be against Alecia, but not all of the Broadwell’s.” She confessed but she wasn’t privy to all the information.
“I don’t believe Vaughn wants to lead again, regardless of how popular he was and remains.” Amelia remarked, it wasn’t the worst idea but Vaughn had a reputation now and it was possible the reputation would be his folly.
“Then again, he does as he pleases.” She added as an afterthought with a smile.
Another request from Vaughn? She raised an eyebrow.
“Little bird?” Amelia assumed he meant Gabrielle and she shook her head. Vampires healed quickly and Gabrielle would likely be almost back to her radiant self but it felt somehow wrong to put her at risk again.
“If you mean Gabrielle, I doubt she’s in a fighting fit mood.” She remarked to Xander, “Alecia is crueller than even Vaughn.” She muttered. Then again, Alecia had to have learnt it somewhere and she wondered if time would warp her like that and Vaughn would teach her how to be cruel.
Amelia reached out and took his hand as she stood, part of her was worried about leaving Arthur behind but Vaughn had given his word to do all he could and she trusted him. Despite his flaws, she trusted Vaughn to keep his word. Vaughn hadn’t mentioned the task to Amelia but she wouldn’t question Xander, a close ally with Vaughn after all.
Something shifted in Arthur. A flare of something deeper than just the shallow heart of addiction that piqued Vaughn's interest. Once all the shallow layers surrounding Arthur's persona were pierced, Vaughn hadn't expected to find anything. Perhaps a hollow personality, but no. There was definitely something more. And Arthur proved it too, against all odds. A will. It was weak at first, almost too weak to notice because it played into his personality, unlike Amelia's.
Vaughn felt his heart pound at Arthur's question, as if replying for him. Yes. He wanted to lose control, wanted to create chaos, build it up, only to break it down again. It was natural to Vaughn. Nature was like it. Nothing could stay they same, they were all swept up in the tides of decay and growth. Nothing could exist without those truths. And so he would be the chaos their little order needed. Vaughn had fulfilled that role with almost childish delight. It was why he liked Dolcey, who did as whim begged her to.
But he couldn't.
It would mean Arthur's death if he did and Vaughn had promised Amelia.
Vaughn's eyes shimmered dangerously, the pressure of his own will easily subduing Arthur's.
"Think again if you hope words will sway me. Weak," Vaughn called out Arthur's bid. He was trying to compensate, trying to weasel his way under his skin with words, thoughts. It wouldn't work. Vaughn wouldn't allow it. Potentially, it was the only way in which he and Arthur differed.
"How could you hope to protect Amelia from anything with a resolve that feeble," Vaughn called Arthur out. "Why is it she still looks up to you, hmm? Amelia is outgrowing you. She won't need you any longer, Arthur. Amelia is stronger than you are."
Vaughn's fist was clenched, stance open and expecting. He wouldn't let Arthur walk out of this man-made cave before he had earned his way out.
Alecia, crueller than Vaughn? Perhaps, in different ways. Xander guided Amelia to a luxury car. Unlike Vaughn, who liked being in control, a vasal drove the both of them. Xander gave some short instructions before settling down in the car and enjoying the night-time drive. Gabrielle was in no fighting fit mood, was she? Alecia did always have a cruel streak to her. Vaughn had merely catered to it.
He was good at that, their former leader. Bringing out the best in everyone. It was easy, when Vaughn was there, to be yourself. To give it all. Xander had always believed he had to be better, more charming, relaxed, until he had met Vaughn. Vaughn was the one who told him that it was fine to be as you wanted to be. If that meant being up-tight and cold, then that would be what shaped your own future. That luxury was something they had all earned. Pride. He heralded pride. Celebrated everyone's energy as they were.
It was a shame it was rarely reciprocated. Vaughn had often told Xander he could not be as who he was. And when he had, Alecia had put a swift end to his parade.
"Vaughn asked me to 'ask after Gabrielle', so we will do so now," Xander mentioned casually. As a Broadwell, an inquiry like that would cascade into a different kind of conversation as compared to the more casual interactions Amelia might have had with Alecia. Alecia needed as many families to be at her side, supporting her. It was a political mess, from Alecia's perspective. Especially now that Vaughn had returned. All the families were considering their position again and would inquire after the separate inclinations within the Perth family, rather than just hound Alecia herself. Vaughn's trial had just made that ever more clear. A dissonance in the leading family was cause for all kinds of trouble.
When they did arrive, Alecia was already waiting for them. Her face was perfectly guarded, arms folded. Xander gave Alecia a nod in recognition. Alecia ignored Amelia's presence entirely.
"To what do I owe your visit, Xander?"
Xander let the silence stretch for a moment.
"One would start to think you were avoiding the Broadwell estate, Alecia," Xander alluded to the fact that many of her un-initiated had died horribly at the hand of Vaughn. Alecia didn't miss a beat and just smiled.
"Nonsense," she brushed away the comment. "The Broadwells have always been good friends with the Perth family," Alecia smoothed over the rippling tide. She ushered them further into the lounge.
Arthur snarled in frustration, nothing seemed to phase Vaughn. Nothing seemed to have him give in and Arthur knew it was there. He wasn’t very controlled in his current state and it was becoming hard to keep any semblance of control. He was not what Vaughn said he was. He could ignite flames and destruction, he knew he could.
“Me?” Arthur rasped, nails digging into the floor.
“She’ll outgrow me? Do you hear him?” He looked to the two Broadwell’s and laughed a horrid, dry laugh. It sounded more like choking.
“She’ll outgrow you. It was you wasn’t it, that sired her? Her adoration will end and she will see you as you are.” Women always did. It didn’t matter what mask a man wore, they would see right through it all and break it down.
Arthur had no idea on the history Vaughn possessed which was probably for the best. Dark eyes flickered in the dim light and Arthur balled his fists. Vaughn was a fool if he thought his pretty face would sway his sister. Amelia wouldn’t outgrow her big brother, that wasn’t how it would work, he wouldn’t allow it.
Arthur suddenly quietened and his balled fists loosened. Something was off, why would Amelia not be here?
“Where is she?” He asked through gritted teeth, where was she and why wasn’t she here with him? Surely Vaughn hadn’t poisoned her against him? Something had changed and Arthur suddenly remembered what had occurred between them both. He had attacked her, in some horrible alleyway and left her there to bleed.
Amelia looked to Xander and sighed out, Alecia was bad news and always had been. The two didn’t get along and she was somewhat tense going to meet the woman again. It wasn’t so long since she had been in the vipers nest. At least they got to travel in some luxury and Amelia looked out the windows as the familiar roads came to view and then Alecia’s abode.
Amelia grit her teeth and looked over the woman slowly. She looked immaculate as always, like nothing in the world could touch that pretty face and Amelia didn’t seem bothered by Alecia’s disregard for her presence. Xander was cool and collected as he always was and Amelia followed him into the lounge and she sat down, watching Alecia carefully. She wouldn’t past the woman to attack her and Xander in the same moment, if she wanted to deal a blow to Vaughn, that would certainly do it. Amelia was on guard and she eyed over Xander. He was more experienced at these things.
She didn’t speak, Xander could do the talking for now but Amelia knew what she had witnessed last time she was here, she wasn’t even sure if Gabrielle was still alive, perhaps Alecia would have gotten rid of her evidence. Maybe she was smarter than that. There was a Cold War going on right then, she could feel it and whilst Amelia had the ability to exert her will in such a way that it would make Alecia afraid, she was nowhere near powerful enough. If she launched an attack, her fate would rest on Xander’s shoulders but she would put up a damn good effort.
“No Vaughn, this evening? Pity.” Alecia remarked smoothly and grinned at Amelia, “He does have a habit of leaving you all alone in the world.” She added and Amelia met her gaze, evenly.
"Now, now, Alecia, dismissing the head of the Broadwell family as nothing isn't polite, is it?" Xander said, almost bored with Alecia's words. Alecia's nostril flared ever so minutely at being reprimanded and she diverted her attention to Xander instead.
"Her knight in shining armour," she complimented Xander with a derogatory sneer.
Xander raised an eyebrow at the display. Alecia sighed and waved a hand, "apologies, Sir Broadwell."
"You are forgiven. Mind yourself, Alecia, we're not all as forgiving," Xander said coolly.
"Of course," she muttered. "So why are you really here, Xander?"
"You would accrue favour if you handed us Gabrielle," he said plainly, putting down his glass. Alecia gave Amelia a foul look, but didn't act on her emotions this time. Not with Xander present as head of the Broadwell family, as he had so fondly pointed out. Falling out of favour with the Broadwells wasn't good for her standing in the guild.
"I take it you ally yourself with Vaughn then?"
Xander gave Alecia a dead stare, "I have done no such thing."
"And yet you parade his 'lady'," Alecia pointed out with a snarl.
"The Broadwell and Perth families have always been close."
Alecia's jaw flexed. She was being outplayed. And easily too.
"Fine, I'm done with her anyway," she ceded and waved her hand at one of her vasals. "If that is all, the night is still young..."
Xander nodded, "that is all. Thank you, Alecia."
"You are an infuriating man, Xander. You and her. I can see why Vaughn and you are friends."
Alecia stood up and brushed her dress before turning resolutely and leaving the lounge.
Xander raised an eyebrow, making an expression that didn't leave any question about how heated that conversation had been. He schooled his features when they brought out Gabrielle however. The young vampire had seen better days, that much was certain.
Arthur laugh sounded like that of a deranged person, which given his situation wouldn't be such a strange notion. Amelia's adoration would undoubtedly end, of that Vaughn had no doubt. How many before her had suffered the same? Yet somehow, they always came back, be it in a different capacity. Relationships evolved. Unlike humans, they had infinite time to explore all facets of any relationship.
Where was Amelia?
That was the question, wasn't it? Vaughn smiled benevolently. A lie? Perhaps saying Amelia had departed for better pastures would force Arthur over some kind of edge. Or would it hurt more knowing Amelia had abandoned Arthur to his whim?
"Amelia has more important things to concern herself with," Vaughn said plainly. It wasn't false. His game out-weighed Arthur's importance by several leagues.
"She's already given up on you, Arthur," he pushed gently.
Vaughn circled around Arthur. He could do this for hours, days. Like preying on a wounded animal.
"Amelia didn't shun from you, what makes you think she'll tire of me, when she sees what I am?" he said softly. Vaughn flexed his fingers, the sharp nails scraping across contorted and leathery skin.
"Was it daddy, Arthur?" he posed calmly.
It would explain why Amelia wouldn't hold a man. Unable to attach herself, unable to give herself out of fear. Arthur was a drunk, maybe, but he'd been safe in ways that her childhood hadn't been. Vaughn brushed by Arthur's cheek with the back of his fingers, as if feeling for the man's inner torment.
Amelia watched the exchange between Alecia and Xander. Xander was able to command Alecia like it was nothing and Amelia could tell she didn’t like that. Amelia would be lying if she wasn’t somewhat satisfied with it though. Alecia was so obsessed with who was choosing Vaugh’s side in all of this, it was as though Alecia was realising just how frail her leadership was.
“That was rather easy.” Amelia said to Xander when Alecia relented and gave up Gabrielle. Amelia watched Alecia flounce off and she smiled some to herself.
“You okay dangerous games, a little more democratically than Vaughn.” Amelia complimented Xander before looking to the door as Gabrielle was brought in. She looked a sorry state and Amelia sighed as she softened and approached her,
“Come along. Let’s get you fixed up.” She said to her and guided her out and towards Xander’s car. Vampires healed quickly but Alecia had been brutal it seemed. Amelia cared little right then for what information Gabrielle carried, the once pretty vampire needed some help.
Amelia helped her into the car and looked to Xander. She was unsure what Vaughn wanted with Gabrielle and no doubt she would find out. Either way, she doubted the vampire was out of the woods yet.
Arthur growled, a low guttural sound as Vaughn circled him and raked nails across hard skin. Dangerous eyes watched Vaughn as he spoke, did he have his little sister out running errands like some pigeon?
“I asked where.” Arthur growled, hyper fixating on the whereabouts of where his sister was.
“She chose me, every time.” Arthur sneered, “You’re not that special Vaughn. She’ll hitch to me as she always has.” The edge was there, in sight and Arthur could feel his own fury and prowess gathering in his chest.
“How many have died for you? I see it, they look at you like they look at me.” He hissed, “You killed her but you accuse me of sucking her dry?” Arthur was disjointed, his mind trying to find an opening but Vaughn was a fickle creature with stone walls. He only needed a crack, something to claw at and Vaughn would let loose. Again, a trickle of will emerged, shuddering and threatening to flood the place if given enough lee-way.
Everything was spiralling and Arthur was slowly coming to the realisation that Amelia had latched to Vaughn instead, even if Vaughn had been her murderer it was less than Arthur had done to her. He was breathing hard, struggling to make sense of what he had done. Years of abuse thrown at his sister, years of neglect on himself, the ignorance to his own sisters suffering and still… she had chosen to try and save him and he had repaid her with aggression. What was he?
Where was Amelia? Again. Why was it so important to Arthur where Amelia was? Arthur was the one who had been running away all this time. Did Arthur expect Amelia to come running to him now? Where was she? Not here. Amelia would no longer come running. It was true. Amelia had come for Arthur every single time. Vaughn contemplated snuffing out Arthur's life. It'd be easy to do so now. It must've been visible on his face, because Arthur jumped on the shimmer of darkness that flashed across his features.
How many had died.
Vaughn contemplated the question. A great number. Lucius had. Not because he'd asked Lucius to or because he had to. But because he'd wanted to.
Oh? Had he killed Amelia? Vaughn grinned languidly.
"She tasted sweet. So sweet, Arthur," Vaughn mused. The first gush of sweet blood he had tasted after having his fill. More than a hundred years he'd waited for someone like her to come along. Thirst tickled his throat. Nothing like what Arthur was suffering through right then, he assumed.
Vaughn decided Amelia owed him some prey at least.
Arthur's will thrummed like a lidded pot threatening to boil over, crawling under the surface of his skin but only barely. It wasn't quite there yet.
Silence stretched as Arthur turned into himself. Vaughn remained a stoic observer to the young man's plight. Pennance, for the pain Arthur had caused Amelia.
"You would have killed her that night," Vaughn said factually. "Thirst, greed, blood, alcohol." Arthur would've killed the only one who cared for him.
"Accuse the world all you must as the victim you pretend to be, but it's all you, Arthur. Now tell me, whose reflection do you see when you look into the mirror, hmm?"
Gabrielle spat on Alecia's rug, a petty way to claim her stake and stomp on what was pretty and holy. Fuck that bitch Alecia. Xander looked down on her and Gabrielle merely smirked, though it was undone by the pain her injuries shot down her limbs as Amelia helped her up. Loathe admit, she needed the young vampire's assistance in walking to the luxury car. Why would the Broadwell head of family stick out his neck like that for her sake? She was no one to them but a nuisance. Actually, Gabrielle knew Vaughn actively hated her presence, barely tolerated her and truth be told, Amelia's presence reeked of Vaughn's intervention.
Gabrielle rested back tentatively.
"Sorry," she apologized with a broken voice.
Xander waved her apology.
Cars could be replaced.
He was silent as they drove. Only Gabrielle's laboured breathing resounded. He ought to have brought something for Gabrielle to eat. He was losing his touch. Xander stared out the window and wondered what the dawn would bring. By now, Vaughn would've had his wicked way with Arthur. And if he hadn't, Arthur would have a first-class ticket to a beautiful dawn.
"You'll be a guest at the Broadwell estate, miss...?"
"Oakland," Gabrielle confessed. "The Oakland family."
Xander paused, "huh. I thought--"
"The rumours are greatly exaggerated."
“You have no idea.” Arthur said, what was it that Vaughn wanted? A round of applause for drinking his sister to the point of death? He was another man taking what he wanted from her, like all of them had. He bared his teeth at Vaughn.
“Who I see?” He inched forwards but not close enough to strike, “You know nothing about her, you never even asked.” He chuckled darkly at that one. Vaughn really didn’t know a thing about his sister and why she clung so reverently to him.
“My father was a drunk, she tried to look after me, shield me from him. Mom worked, you see?” He smirked, “And who do you think he turned his anger to? His passion, in his drunken stupor?” Arthur muttered, “Every man needs a woman to warm his bed and Amy was his target. Everything she endured so I wouldn’t have to. But- You know that, don’t you?” Arthur said with a growl, “You’ve heard a cheekbone break under a fist, a nose break, even an arm on occasion, she was fragile back then and she stayed fragile.” Arthur muttered coldly as he watched Vaughn.
“Think of that, why don’t you? Your precious little Amelia, whatever plans you make for her she will always be that helpless, trapped and caged little bird. Defiled and broken.”Arthur had turned to the drink to forget and become like his father, lashing out and using women like objects. Vaughn was no different, Amelia just couldn’t see it.
“So, yes. Maybe she will see you for what you are, but we both know that won’t happen. If she can’t see me for what I am, you have no hope. She’ll adore the illusion of you.” Arthur spat at Vaughn’s feet.
Amelia was relieved to be back at Xander’s home and she watched Gabrielle. She seemed rather ticked off at everything and Amelia couldn’t blame her. Oak- What? Amelia exchanged a look with Xander and hummed a little bit said nothing,
“Xander I’m sure will look after you. Maybe a drink?” Amelia said and shrugged. It wasn’t her place to be hospitable on his behalf but Gabrielle looked horrific. She let the two move to the lounge as she fixed her hair and looked to the basement. It was quiet, maybe Arthur was dead already.
Amelia didn’t want to act like she pitied Gabrielle because she didn’t. Gabrielle had gotten herself into these messes with the gossiping and flirting around constantly. Still, Alecia had been cruel and no one deserved that. To be tortured that way, and to not even be able to die from the wounds and have some sort of sanctuary from it all. It had to be excruciating but Gabrielle stood tall against it all. Amelia could only dream of having such strength.
Amelia glanced towards the lounge, she wouldn’t be missed for a few seconds of being curious, surely? She crept down the steps and listened, it was oddly quiet and she was unsure if the basement was sound proof. She couldn’t recall ever seeing padding or anything. She was almost silent as she slid in the room and her eyes adjusted to the dim light. Arthur looked furious, worn down and exhausted as well as starved beyond normal capacity. A human would never be able to take that malnourishment. She heard the door click shut behind her and she swallowed. She knew she shouldn’t have been there but that was her brother, and the man she loved.
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