collab with @Ruby
They echoed in lowly tones within the woman’s head as though calling out for some semblance of help that could not be given. At times, sweet and eloquent voices spoke in a dialect unknown, while others, indecipherable at best, due to being nothing more than grunts, snarls, and growls. “Rabid dogs?” She’d heard that mentioned before, not only once though, but several times, and almost as a derogatory remark made to insult. But it was the bearded man with the tattooed muscled arms who took up much of the visions which plagued her mind night after night. The dreams were all too real, as the evening of her embrace played out like a bad film reel on an infinite loop, and with each passing scenario, the fear and realization grew. Her Sire had but a brief introduction, if it could even be called that, and was just as quickly taken away by those whom she came to understand were part of another faction called “Sabbat”.
“I’ve been watching you for awhile, pup…” The large brute of a man repeated, a glimmer of yellowed fang shown in moonlight. But why? Why had she been chosen for any of this? Why of all the better humans in existence had Nicole Stathos been the one to become one with the darkness? An animal at the top of the food chain whose sole purpose was to survive off the blood of humanity, without losing her own in the process. It had been a cruel joke, but one that couldn’t be undone. The curse had set itself, the body had perished, giving life to something otherworldly. Something extraordinary. She had but two choices. End her own existence thereby killing the beast within, or thrive as one of them. But who were they exactly? Only Eva had been able to answer those questions. Only she had been the one who could unravel the mysteries that clouded the woman’s thoughts since the Curse of Caine forever altered her future.
Eva’s Coastal Villa | Ventura County
The better part of two weeks passed since the night of Nicole’s embrace and the entrance of the Toreador known as Eva into her life, stepping from the shadows as a beacon of hope to a lost soul within Kindred society. The former police officer had everything to lose, and yet there were times when it all didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. She simply assumed she was going to die after the attack on her life. But it took several days for the words of reason coming from Eva to sink into a doubting mind. No one would believe any of what was happening and yet there it was, staring the neonate vampire straight in her pale face as though to say “This was only the beginning.” Nicole could only cry for so long at the luck of the draw though, as the act of crying had become less of a thing for the monster she was, and what was once salty tears became blood; forced to the surface of the tear ducts until it pooled enough to streak down her defined cheeks like crimson watercolor on a blank canvas.
Spirited away from her home and the people she once knew in West Hollywood, Nicole’s former life had to be washed away into the sea of eternity or everything going forward would be for nothing. Eva reassured her time and again that she would do her best to bring the newly-minted Gangrel into the fold, introducing her to vampiric existence as a Sire would for their Childe. But, Eva was no true Sire to the fledgling -at least not in the traditional sense- and in the back of the Elder’s mind knew things would have to change eventually for Nicole. And so, with Los Angeles behind them both, Eva journeyed with her charge northeast reaching an oceanside villa nestled within the borders of Ventura County. It would be safe. It would be secure. Away from prying eyes, at least in the meantime. And there it would allow Nicole the freedom and peace of mind needed to absorb the barrage of Kindred facts, fictions, myths, and a myriad of supernatural dealings that were thrown at her from the older vampire day after day in an attempt to pull her mind out of the human realm and into a world of darkness.
The only world she would need to be concerned with this early in her unlife, which meant severing all ties from mortality, as well as making society believe that Nicole Stathos was dead and gone forever. Friends, family, loved ones. All would have to vanish from existence if any of this was to work out in the end. The Masquerade, of course, demanded it.
"Fine, fine, fine. I will watch the damn show."
The flash of irritation only and immediately gave light to the faint melodical laughter of the woman by the time she even finished giving in. "But this had better be more entertaining than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Rock Show."
His laughter was sweet and warm and infectious. A child erupting in a fit of giggling on the oversized and overstuffed sectional sofa that nearly wrapped around the basement home theater. "You'll like this one! It's about humans just being funny every day as they go through their little routines." There was more than a little emphasis on the last of words, and it had always given Eva pause. Christopher Houghton never learned that from her. As many times as she had relived this very moment in time, it made her stop every time. He learned it from Lubbock.
Except every other time she had ever relived the memory as perfectly preserved as a piece of data in an archive the kid never turned to her as this 'Office' show got started. Nevermind what came out of the kid's perfectly pink child's lips. "Do you think you can really stop it? Even with all the help you have?" Crystal blue eyes blinked away from her and towards the Virgin guy. Somehow he sounded sad. "Even if she likes you more?"
She wasn't cursed, Eva wanted to say, but that wasn't what came out. What came out was the only thing she really owed him...the truth.
"I can die trying."
The fact that he was just gone again left her dizzy. Her head spun in cruel swirls, the ground reminded her of a bad late 80s music video. Gravity absolutely betrayed her as she lifted from her isolated place of rest on the oversize and over-decorated bed in the black room trying to step off it and onto the floor below; her shoulders hitting the marble ground first before her head soon followed. Even her knee crashed against the ice cold floor with punishing effect. None of it did the same amount of damage as just seeing him.
The guilt was just the initial barrage following the shock and awe. He was there. That was him. She even smelled him for a minute. Her eyes glassed but nothing fell. She couldn't recall moving by the time her mind snapped out of it. Her body was fine, the floor returned it's normal form, and she stepped out of the bedroom and into the gently lit exterior hall of the house so close to the coast. It didn't look right, and the house was still close to uncomfortably warm. It was too early. She normally awoke just before sunset. This was...her head went for another loop when her eyes found the time off the nearby lighthouse clock and lamp. 9 AM?
Returning to bed did nothing. The longer she stayed there in the darkness the more unsettled she felt. For the first time since she diablerized Christopher there was no background noise. The voices of much more than just her own personal elders were there. At times it felt like the blood in her body was a new kind of wireless connection ushering her into an internet of voices, emotions, images, and still more beyond. But now she was alone with her own thoughts again.
And it was driving her crazy.
She watched daytime TV. For an hour it enforced her bias that night time programming was better because that's when Kindred were awake. And then it bored her. She walked every inch of the house except the outdoors, obviously, and the bedroom Nicole was resting in. Large as the square footage was, it was barely a blip to her wandering conscious. She tried getting creative with Auspex, but her heart just wasn't in it for long. There were several thaumaturgy processes she needed to continue to refine, but again every time she went to focus her mind just refused.
The kid had shook her. At one point she turned off the darkening glass of a second story hall window and stood just next to the open sunlight. Then Celerity and she got stupid. Just quick dashes of her hand in and out of the sunlight. "Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow...why am I doing this?..ow. ow." She considered cooking food for someone as she nursed her hand in the kitchen. Before she recalled she really did not like their neighbors.
Instead she called into her office. Dante answered, and before long had given her very little updates from the last time she checked in...before sunrise. So. Three hours and nothing outside of a camera guy falling off a car shoot? She actually called into the hospital they took the guy to. The hospital director sparked a conversation on the symphony, and when was the next time Eva was going to make it to a show. It was nice, but dull, and made her yearn for the days of wired phones that let you pretend to choke yourself to death with the springy phone cord.
There were two hours of meditation. Of her version of it; watching content. The living room was a script room, with piles three or four high in stacks around the coffee table. When Nicole awoke and walked in and found Eva with a pen and a try-hard script from a legendary director asking for a favor in the way of creative feedback, Eva was finally back to normal after the devastation of being visited by the soul she had stolen.
“Please forgive me.” Nicole whispered to the other as she stood behind the couch, her expression rather downcast as she gently ran her fingernails along the dark leather upholstery. “Forgive my…distance from you these last few days.”
It was distance she kept from the Elder, not because she did not want her like Eva wanted her, but because she only felt regret and remorse, unable to reconcile the mixture of emotions for the woman who essentially brought her in from the cold. There were intimate moments between them, moments that were needed if only to satisfy the savage beast, but they were mere specks of time that felt more forced than organic. How selfish and introspective Nicole had been, and she knew it. The Gangrel could have very well been abandoned, destroyed in the streets by others of her kind, or tortured by any number of foes who sought out vampires for sport, food, or worse. There had been that nagging feeling of wanting to break free of Eva’s hold, the shelter she had created for her was perhaps becoming a bit too restrictive to a clan member who simply wanted to roam as her lineage would roam. It was that initial “call of the wild” which pushed her away from fully giving herself to the one woman who cared more about her than any she could recall. Nicole was given space as permitted by the Elder, to run, to hunt, to feel the supernatural forces at work within her ever-changing physique while keeping within the less populated areas of Ventura. The vampire needed it. But she also needed so much more.
“Also..I think I love you.” The fledgling finally let slip, unsure of why she actually said it in the first place. Impulsivity no doubt. Intoxication perhaps. But the fact of the matter was she had become more drawn to the Toreador as time passed. Nicole was never one to love so easily, whether in her earlier years as a confused adolescence, exploring her sexuality and uncertain if she really fit into any particular slot. Or later in her life where attractions and relationships were questioned and short-lived. A square peg in a round world, so to speak...
What did she just say?
The top of the highlighter went flying from the Elder’s lips, the printed and pressed pages in her hands suspended as Eva's mind danced and her brown eyes darkened. The weight of the script was obvious when she dropped it onto the coffee table. "Come again?"
Eva laughed, but somehow the honey in the sound had bittered. It wasn’t until her bright eyes gone truly black returned to Nicole’s pretty gaze that Eva got deadly serious, and blank of any and all other things. The emotion present in what she said didn’t belong there, and somewhere in the deepest darkness of those black eyes...she knew it.
“I have two shadow wars going on right now; one of those went hot last night. Over a thousand agents in the field from San Francisco to Mexico. I have people telling me the best thing we can do right now is start a wildfire to deny space and resources to certain future combatants. None of which even sounds like English to me, but that’s hard to think about when I have studio heads who can’t agree on what color of highlighter to use let alone something as simple as an operating budget. I’m trying to keep homeless people fed, trying to keep arts in every school I can get within my reach, trying to fix L.A.’s traffic nightmares, the water systems, nevermind every year I look around and see more US military I have to deal with. The Romans weren’t this numerous and annoying, I’d bet.”
She took a long breath, a heavy pause, and let her long fingers comb through the strands of dark hair. It didn’t help. “And that’s a normal day. There are no more normal days left. Now it’s what certain death is coming next and what we can possibly do about that. I don’t stress. Very little bothers me. Very little gets under my surface, but if I’m even a little bit off now then it’s probably over for everyone. Not even our own crazy ass movies had vampire end of days as viable plot. Oh and I have to worry about the biggest money laundering scheme since late 80s Wall Street so we can try to pay for any of it.”
For the first time since her death, her chest got tight. Her heart hurt. They had one more night together before reality would force her back. Before her trust in her people to keep it all going while she was gone started to weaken just a little. “Do you get it?! Does it register?” Her voice went from a near scream to steely whisper in less than a heartbeat, she moved so fast she and her whispered tone was just there. All but stepping on the girl the distance between them reduced to nothing. Just glassy eyes and full lips and dark eyelashes. “I don’t believe you. I want to jump all over you. I want to take you close and keep you there until it’s all done for me...but I don’t believe you. And…”
It caught, in that instant, the eyes of both women. Whether it was foolishness, weakness, or love. The thing about them all to Eva was that, at least in the beginning, it was almost impossible to tell them all apart. Her body leaned forward and forward, until it was her lips on Nicole’s lips shutting both of them up, hands daring at Nicole’s hips to bring her just that much closer.
Nicole wanted to respond but couldn’t speak. She wanted to protest Eva’s comment, but didn’t have the strength to resist being in the loving arms of the Elder vampire. Perhaps Nicole was hasty in thinking she really loved Eva, or anyone quite honestly. Trust wasn’t exactly a thing held in high regard these days, especially within kindred society, but there was just something about the other that the Gangrel trusted. But what was it? It didn’t matter at that moment. Only that they were one, even if for a brief moment in time, and the rest of the world could burn away around them.
“I want you.” Her whisper was a low growl in the other’s ear, as nails dug into the small of Eva’s back. “Now...”