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Time In A Bottle

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Sanctuary

The hallway was like a corridor leading down into the bowels of Hell - hot, dark, smelling of sweat, shit, piss and blood. The walls rumbled with the dull roar of the crowd above, like demons screaming for blood. More blood. Helen walked past a gurney haphazardly sitting in the middle of the hallway, a blood spattered sheet covering the still warm body.

She entered the makeshift dressing room, not bothering to knock. A row of lockers against one wall, a bench before it, a door at the back of the room leading to the showers. The wall of steam buffeted against her, clung to the sweat already sticking her shirt to her skin.

A figure stood at the far end, face towards the wall, hands against the tiles. The makeshift shower head attached to the pipe above sprayed heavily onto her head, sticking her blonde hair (she was blonde again) to her scalp and back, cascading down her skin, accenting every line and curve, the hard muscles beneath the smooth skin. Helen stifled the shudder resonating through her, from the sight of all that skin so brazenly displayed and the memories it brought forth, as the woman at the far end of the room lifted her head, turning it slightly.

“Helen,” she drawled. Her voice barely above a whisper, but it echoed like a sonic boom against the tiled walls.

Helen could think of a thousand reasons not to be here, a thousand reasons why she *shouldn’t* be here. Yet, here she was, standing across from the person she hated, the person she used to love with every fiber of her being.

She could only wonder, now, how differently things might have played out if the world only knew that ‘Jack the Ripper’ was actually named..

“Jane,” Helen said.

Jane Druitt lifted her head fully, turning around to face Helen. She stood tall and straight, clasping her hands behind her back, lips curling into a smirk as she watched Helen try desperately to maintain eye contact.

“Did you enjoy the fight?” Jane asked.

“I most certainly did not!” Helen huffed. “You beat that man to death.”

Jane’s lips pulled into a feigned pout, as if she were disappointed Helen hadn’t enjoyed herself. “Would it make you feel better to know he deserved it.”

“No. It wouldn’t.”

“If you weren’t here to watch me fight,” Jane pulled her hands from behind her, raising them to smooth the hair back off her head. “Then why are you here?”

Helen pursed her lips, swallowing the bile to say the words she needed to say. She had a thousand reasons not to be here and, still, here she was. “I need your help.”

Jane’s eyes went wide, lips curling into a bright smile. “The great Helen Magnus needs my help? Again?”

“I’ve never..” Helen calms herself, uncurling the hands suddenly formed into fists. “It’s about my daughter. Ashley.”

“Don’t you mean our daughter?” Jane said, a hint of menace in her voice. She turned back around, turning off the knobs to the shower, the silence echoing eerily off the walls. “Isn’t it funny how she’s always your daughter.. until you need my help.”

“I didn’t come here to play your games.”

“No!” Jane snapped, turning back around. “You came here to play your games. Your rules. Everything’s always by your rules, isn’t it, Helen? So, tell me, what will you give me?”

“What?”

“What will you give me to play your game?”

“This is my..” Helen stammered, tilting her head and swallowing so she could correct herself. “Our daughter we’re talking about.”

“Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?” Jane smiled as she padded towards Helen. “Our daughter.”

Helen grit her teeth. “This was a mistake. I should have never come.”

She turned on her heel and, instantly, she felt Jane’s hand on her elbow, gripping tight, Jane standing close. Helen could feel the warmth of her body, flush against the length of her own. She felt Jane’s face, her nose buried at the back of Helen’s head, inhaling deeply.

“Jane,” Helen warned, growling, because she could feel all those ~memories~ the ones buried under her skin, deep in her bones rushing forth.

“Give me your knickers,” Jane husked softly.

“You’re mad!”

“And you’re,” Jane inhaled deeply. “Completely intoxicating. Beating that man to death had sated the beasts appetites. But, seeing you here, like this..” She was at Helen’s back now, hands on Helen’s hips, her crotch pressing against Helen’s ass. “If I don’t have a little piece of you, I’m not sure I can be held accountable for what might happen next.”

“Don’t you dare place your burdens on my shoulders.”

“They’re just knickers, Helen,” Jane chuckle-purred. “Seems a small price to pay,” she paused, leaning closer, filling up the minute space between them. “And we both know you’ve given up far more, for far less noble reasons.”

“Stop it!” Helen snapped, taking an immediate step forward, placing some distance between herself and Jane. She turned quickly, already knowing the expression to meet her. Except, it wasn’t the smug smile and gloating eyes Helen expected but a hard expectation, as if Jane already knew Helen would reject her offer. “This doesn’t mean anything.”

“To you, maybe. To me?” Jane’s lips spread into a wide smile as she took another step back, giving Helen room. “It means the world.”

They were just knickers, Helen thought to herself. She thought about how dire things were, how the alternatives were few and far between, how this was about Ashley and not Helen or Jane. Helen thought about anything and everything other than the clenching of her thighs, caused by the hard twitch between her legs. Over a century later, all the things that happened between them, the things Jane did to tear them apart, Jane still had that affect on Helen.

Helen hated her for it.

Jane took another step back. Her eyes intensely, almost scarily, focused not on Helen’s face but lower. Helen bent over slightly to pull at the hem of her skirt (wearing a skirt to an underground fight club not one of her best ideas). She didn’t mean to pull her skirt so slow, to give the impression of teasing. Giving Jane her knickers was the plan, Helen didn‘t want to show any more than necessary.

It wasn’t just Jane teetering over the edge of giving in. The moment eerily reminiscent of a time long ago; Jane already naked in the shower, watching Helen as she removed her clothes before joining her. Helen wasn’t quite as eager or willing as she was back then. But there was that hungry look on Jane’s face, the desire flushing her cheeks, the ragged rise and fall of her chest. Things were very different between them now.

Things were exactly the same.

Fingers hooked into the waistband of her panties, Helen lowered, unintentionally showing a glimpse, a hint of things that were and could never be and there was that look on Jane’s face as she drug her tongue across her lower lip. Jane always had a beast inside her, long before the Five injected themselves with the Source Blood or the energy creature possessed Jane’s body. There was a time when Helen relished those moments when Jane’s beast rushed forth. It was that beast Helen saw on Jane’s face, raw lust, carnal desire.

Helen bent over a little more, hurriedly sliding her panties down her legs and stepping out of them. She rose to her full height, extending her arm, panties dangling from her fingertips.

“Happy,” she said.

“Very,” Jane said, swallowing hard as she stepped closer. Palm up, she placed her hand a half foot below Helen’s, curling her hand into a tight fist the moment after Helen’s panties dropped into them. Eyes glued to Helen’s, Jane brought her closed fist to her mouth. She inhaled deeply, lasciviously, smile curling her lips. “And you said you didn’t want me anymore.”

Helen bristled, fighting the blush coloring her cheeks like a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar. “There’s a car waiting outside. It’ll take us to the airport.”

“I don’t need planes, Helen,” Jane chuckled. “Or did you forget who you were talking to?”

“I didn’t forget anything about you.” It was meant to be a warning, not a sentence weighted with double meanings and history. Helen meant it one way. Jane interpreted it as the other.

“Then,” Jane said, taking another long sniff before stepping towards the lockers. “I will meet you at your Sanctuary.”

**

“Are you sure about this?” Will asked.

They were all in the computer room, staring at the bank of monitors. One monitor in particular, the front gate, where Jane Druitt stood outside, her face angled towards the camera, a smile as bright as the sun on her lips.

“Seriously,” Henry added. “Are you sure about this?”

“No,” Helen sighed. “But I don’t have any other choice.”

“There’s always a choice, Helen,” Will frowned.

She snapped her head towards him. “Not when it comes to my daughter. Henry, open the gate. Let her in.”

**

“Hello, Jane.” Helen stood at the opened doors of the Sanctuary, hands clasped politely before. Henry and the Big Guy flanked her. They meant to alleviate her nervousness, instead, their presence just made it worse.

Jane approached casually, tip of her cane clacking softly on the cement. She took the steps, stopping a foot from Helen. “Hello, Helen. How was your flight?”

Helen sneered, turning on her heel.

**

“My God!” Jane gasped, rushing towards the window. “You caged her!”

“It was her choice, Jane!”

Jane snapped her head towards Helen. “I’m sure it was,” she said, voice dripping with sarcasm. “Open the door.”

Helen hadn’t wanted to place her own daughter in one of the Sanctuary’s cells. It had been Ashley’s choice, mostly. While Jane’s anger was understandable, Helen didn’t have the time or inclination to explain why she’d done what she’d done. Helen didn’t want to revisit the memory of the room with the half dozen bodies that no longer resembled human beings, or the vision of her daughter covered in blood. She’d been able to reverse most of the damage done by the Cabal but not all of it, not that one strand of DNA that made Ashley crave blood and violence and destruction.

Standing at the door, Jane placed her hand on the heavy duty handle. She turned the handle, when it didn’t give, opening the door, she twisted her head sharply, glaring at Helen. “Unlock the door,” she growled, not a request, a command.

Helen swallowed, eyes narrowing. The line hadn’t been crossed and she felt the tickling of doubt as to whether this was the right thing to do. She wondered whether now was the time to turn back. Could she turn back?

Should she?

“Helen,” Jane’s voice turned menacing. “Unlock the door.”

“Henry,” Jane turned her eyes to the security camera high in the corner. “Please unlock the door.”

A moment of time, when she and Jane stood staring at each other, Helen feeling the building anger roiling off of Jane. Like she’d seen Helen’s hesitation. The latch clicked, a sonic boom echoing off the walls and Helen felt her heart skip, the dread tightening her stomach.

Jane quickly entered, Helen stepping forward to watch through the window. The room was dark, dripping in shadows. Ashley didn’t like having the lights on and Helen didn’t like upsetting Ashley anymore than necessary these days. She watched Jane enter, her figure getting darker with each step. She walked towards the far corner, towards the dark shape, a splash of light as Ashley rested her head on her knees.

Reaching out with a hand, Jane rested it on Ashley’s forearm. Ashley lifted her head, her face pale, a stark contrast to the darkness around her. Helen felt her heart twist at the sight of her daughter’s eyes, no longer their normal beautiful green but red and black, the eyes of a vampire.

“Jane?” Ashley asked weakly, lower lip beginning to tremble in recognition.

Just a touch from Jane and Ashley curled into her, face against Jane’s shoulder as she openly sobbed. Jane wrapped her arms around Ashley, pulling her in, holding her tight.

“What did they do to you?” Jane cooed softly, rocking the two of them back and forth. “What did they do to my little girl?”

They sat like that for what felt an eternity. Helen could feel a sense of relief washing over her, like she’d done the right thing and this was all going to work.

Then, Jane lifted her head, focused her eyes on Helen. She’d seen that look of rage and hatred in Jane’s eyes, too many to count. She’d never seen it directed at herself. The dread returned, along with fear. Before Helen could open her mouth to scream, before she could even think of running into Ashley’s room, there was a whoosh of static and smoke and light. And just like that..

Jane and Ashley were gone.

**

EIGHT DAYS LATER

Were it possible, Helen would have torn the world apart with her hands if it meant having her daughter back. Instead, she could only use those hands to direct the resources at her touch. She called in every favor, every marker, threatened anyone and everyone with the power to assist.

It was all for nothing. Where ever Jane had taken Ashley, she made sure it was some place Helen couldn’t find.

She stood at the window of her office, staring blankly at the scene outside. All she could see was Ashley, the little girl running through the garden, the young woman standing on the grounds feeling the grass beneath her bare feet, the vampire hunting a cat for no other reason than she could. Helen felt empty, everything around her distant and muddy. Like mourning, but mourning for someone who still lived. Helen had felt this way only one time before and that was a very long time ago.

Helen turned, only because there’d been a knock at her door and it took her awhile to realize it. Kate stood in her office on the other side of Helen’s desk. Helen didn’t have to ask to know the answer but she’d ask anyway.

“Anything?”

“No, sorry,” Kate shook her head. “Don‘t worry, we‘ll find them.” She added after Helen’s non-reaction.

Helen feigned a polite smile. They’d all done their damnedest for her. It was no small comfort, knowing she’d built a team willing to put it all on the line for her. But this line, Helen knew, was damn near unobtainable.

“It’s not your fault,” Helen inhaled deeply, meaning to assuage Kate’s visible guilt at not being able to do her duties. She’d once hunted Abnormals, for nothing more than money, now she took pride in having readjusted her skills and using them for good. “If I know one thing about Jane, she’s very good at not being found if she doesn’t want to be.”

“Yeah, well,” Kate shifted on the balls of her feet. “She’s never had me on her..”

The air crackled. A puff of smoke and static electricity and in the room where two people once stood now stood four.

“Jesus Christ!” Kate shouted, jumping out of her skin, hand reflexively going to her hip and the gun that wasn’t there.

“Hello, Mother,” Ashley smiled before the room went deadly quiet. When Helen had to blink because she couldn’t believe her eyes, had to place a hand to her heart to quell the sudden hammering beneath her chest. The two, Jane and Ashley, standing next to each other and the resemblance was eerie, how Ashley looked more like Jane’s daughter than Helen’s.

“Mother?” she said again, the smile on her lips fading, uncertainty etching itself across her face.

Ashley looked good, in her blue jeans, t-shirt and jacket, all presumably purchased by Jane. She looked healthy. To Helen, Ashley looked like her daughter, the one before everything changed.

“Helen!” Jane clipped and it was enough to snap Helen from her reverie.

Helen rushed forward, wrapping her arms around Ashley’s shoulders, holding like she would never let go. She blinked away the tears forming in her eyes then abandoned the thought of trying to stop them from falling. She had her daughter back, to Hell with decorum. She stopped hugging Ashley long enough to pull back a little, both hands clamping Ashley’s face.

“Are you all right?” Helen asked.

“Mother, I’m fine,” Ashley laughed. “I’m fine.”

“But..” Helen stammered, a million questions in her head and she stumbled over which one to ask first.

“Helen, she’s fine.”

Like a bucket of ice water thrown onto her back, Helen went cold as she stiffened, remembering she and her daughter weren’t exactly alone. She pressed her lips to Ashley’s forehead, kept them there far longer than she had in a very long time. Made a mental note to stop putting that distance between herself and her daughter.

“Would you two leave us alone,” Helen said. “I need to speak to Jane.”

Ashley kissed her mother on the cheek. “Be nice,” she whispered before turning and heading towards the door.

Kate nodded, eyeing Jane warily as she followed Ashley out of Helen’s office.

The door closed, the silence stretched as the anger in Helen boiled and the smirk on Jane’s lips spread wider. That smirk, that damned smirk and Helen moved forward, moved towards Jane.

“Helen..”

With her entire being, Helen punched Jane square across the jaw. Jane’s head snapped back, momentum turning her body. She stumbled back a few steps, shaking the stars from her head.

“I guess I deserved that,” she chuckled, fingers clasping her lower jaw and moving it about to make sure it hadn’t been dislocated.

“HOW DARE YOU!!” Helen roared.

“Oh, come off it, Helen!” Jane snarled back. “You knew exactly what I’d do. That’s why you came to me for help!”

“Far be it for me to think you’d behave rationally for once. Far be it for me to believe you‘d take my daughter..”

Jane stepped towards her, the anger radiating off her. “OUR daughter,” she sneered. “Was DYING!! And you were killing her!!”

A sucker punch to the gut, the air rushed from Helen’s lungs, the strength drained from her legs as she took a step back.

Undaunted, Jane took another step forward. “That’s why you brought me here. To protect her from *you*. Because you can’t help yourself, Helen. Oh, you wanted to help her, but you couldn’t do it without your labs and your cameras. You couldn’t do it without treating her, treating *our* daughter like another one of your bloody experiments!”

Helen backed into her desk, fingers curling over the edge as she leaned against it. Jane had cut her to the quick, verbalized the one thing Helen could never admit.

“I did what I thought was best,” she said softly.

Jane snorted. “You always do.”

The silence returned, thick and heavy and weighted. All that history between them colliding into two parents fighting over their child. Jane moved towards the couch, flopping backwards, pulling her knees wide as she draped an arm over the back.

“She’s better,” Jane said, breaking the silence. “Better than I’ll ever be.” Helen lifted her eyes at the admission. “She’ll still need blood. But the synthetic formula Nikolai created will curb her.. cravings.”

“That’s..” Helen stammered. “That’s good.”

“It wasn’t reconciling who she was over who she’s become that was killing her,” Jane said, pausing enough for Helen to lift eyes. “It was the difference she saw in your eyes. And no one knows better than me the devastation of that look.”

“Jane..” Helen sighed. She’d done anything and everything to get her daughter back. Another sucker punch to the gut to realize how much it’d hurt her own child.

“Don’t worry,” Jane rose from the couch. “I told Ashley only one of us should be gazed upon with such.. disappointment. I’ll gladly take that burden from her.”

“Where are you going?” Helen asked as Jane moved towards the door.

“To say goodbye to my daughter.” Jane paused, half-smile as she snorted softly. “With *your* permission, of course.”

**

“You can’t stay mad at her forever, you know,” Ashley said, pushing the food around her plate with a fork.

“Now is not the time for this discussion,” Helen kept her voice light, casual. It’d been over a month since Jane returned with Ashley then promptly left. And everyday, Ashley became pricklier, a wound that refused to heal, widening ever so slightly each day.

“And eat your peas,” Helen pointed with a fork. “They’re good for you.”

“Seriously? SERIOUSLY!!” Ashley growled. Fist wrapping around the handle, she jammed her fork into the table, the tines embedding deeply into the 100-year-old oak. “We can’t discuss Jane but we can discuss eating fucking PEAS!?!”

“Ashley..” Helen paused, inhaling a deep calming breath. “I said we’d discuss this later.”

Ashley released the hold on her fork, placing her forearms on the table and leaning forward. “When, Mother? An hour, a week, a month. Or will it take the same amount of time for us to discuss this as it took you to discuss who my *real* father is? Oh,” she sneered. “That’s right. YOU didn’t!”

As Helen opened her mouth to retort, Will feigned a cough.

“Helen’s right,” he interjected. “The dinner table probably isn’t the most appropriate place for this conversation.”

“Shut up, Will!” Ashley snapped. “YOU have no place in this conversation!”

“Dammit, Ashley!” Helen grit her teeth. It had been building for a very long time, this conversation, this fight. All building to a boil, coming to a head as Helen watched her daughters eyes change color, watched her fingernails extend into long, razor sharp points.

“You lied to me, Mother. Me! If Jane hadn‘t come along when she did, would you have ever told me the truth?” Ashley clamped her eyes shut, clenching her jaw, her entire body trembling as she inhaled deeply through her nose. When she opened her eyes again, they were back to blue. “You’re right. This isn’t the time or place to have this conversation.”

With that, Ashley quickly rose from her seat, chair legs scraping loudly against the floor. She turned quickly, walking towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Helen called after her.

Ashley paused her step, turning her head just a little, just enough to show blue eyes gone back to red and black. “Hunting.”

In a puff of light and smoke, Ashley was gone.

**

It’d been easier to find Jane this time, easier, like Jane wanted to be found. Another warehouse, with makeshift bleachers, a ring splattered with sweat and blood. Another dingy, dimly lit locker that smelled even worse than the one before.

Jane stood by the lockers, in her bare feet, kickboxing shorts, her sleeveless t-shirt saturated with sweat, splattered with blood. She hastily unwrapped the tape from her knuckles, ignoring Helen as she politely stood by the entrance.

“If it makes you feel better,” Jane finally spoke. “He’ll live.”

“No,” Helen sighed. “It doesn’t.”

“What do you want, Helen?”

“It’s Ashley,” Helen pursed her lips, fighting the words forming in her throat. “I can’t help her. Not anymore.”

“I never thought I’d live to see the day,” she paused slightly, lips pulling into the tiniest of smiles. “The great Helen Magnus admitting there’s something she can’t do.”

Helen couldn’t help her own grin. “I am capable of admitting the possibility I may have flaws.”

“Mmm.” Jane turned her shoulders slightly, reaching out to open a locker and pull out a towel.

Helen stepped deeper into the room, stopping just out of arm’s reach from Jane. “Will you do it? Will you help save Ashley?”

“’Save’?“ Jane said, eyebrow quirking. “Interesting choice of words. You didn’t have to come all this way to ask a question you already know the answer to. But,” she paused, peeling the sweat soaked shirt off her torso and tossing it into a corner. “What about me, Helen? Will you try to save me?”

“If that is what you want.” Helen stiffened, lips pursing, doing everything in her power to keep her eyes focused on Jane’s and not exposed skin beaded with sweat. Conversations with Jane were always like this, on a razor’s edge ready to tip one way or another. She should have known - even a conversation about their daughter would turn into something else.

“And what if I told you..” Jane bent down, her eyes glued to Helen’s as the snake-oil smile returned and she removed her shorts. She rose to her full height, taking the tiniest of steps forward, invading Helen’s space as she placed a hand on a locker and leaned. “There’s a way to save me. That the only thing that keeps the beast at bay is the taste of your cunt on my tongue?”

Helen twisted her lips distastefully. “Do you always have to be so vulgar?”

Jane leaned in a little more. “You like it when I’m vulgar.”

Helen had, back when the beast at bay was all Jane and not the thing inside her. The one that turned Jane into something else and subsequently tore them apart.

“Will you?” Jane said, running her tongue over her lips like she could already taste Helen. “Will you save me? Lift up that skirt of yours, open your legs so I can drop to my knees and worship you with my tongue?”

Helen stepped into Jane’s space, pressed a fingertip to Jane’s lips then watched it as she trailed it down Jane’s neck, between her breasts, all the way down the smooth plain of hardened stomach muscles, not stopping until her fingertip met coarse curls and she felt Jane’s muscles twitching beneath her touch.

“Don’t you think,” Helen answered, licking her own lips as she lifted her eyes to meet Jane’s heated gaze. “If I knew that was all it took I would have already let you drink until long after your fill?”

Lip rolling between her teeth, a low, growl rumbled up Jane’s throat. “This is a dangerous game you’re playing, Helen.”

It was Helen’s turn to chuckle as she added the rest of her fingertips to Jane’s mound, curled and uncurled her fingers, the tips scratching against Jane’s skin through coarse hairs. She dipped her fingers lower, fingertips prodding through swollen pussy lips, finding Jane’s clit and rubbing teasingly. “I thought you liked games?”

“And I thought..” Jane paused to exhale a shuddering breath. “You didn’t love me anymore.”

“Love and sexual desire are not mutually exclusive, neither does it mean because there‘s one there is always the other. You taught me that,” she said, pushing her fingers, knowing Jane’s rhythm. As Jane’s mouth went slack, her forehead dropping against Helen’s shoulder, it was Helen’s eyes that went dark, her voice going low and menacing.

She turned her head, lips to the shell of Jane’s ear then jammed two fingers into Jane, hard and deep. “If you want to eat my cunt,” Helen growled as Jane clenched and shuddered. “Then just say so..” Helen whipped her hand away, a snake in reverse. “But don’t insult my intelligence by acting as if it would save you, or that you want to be saved.”

With that, Helen turned on her heel and walked away.

**

“Sorry about that,” Ashley said, nodding with her head as she took a drink of water from her bottle.

Physically spent, Jane and Ashley sat on the mats in the Training Room. They sparred every day, now that Jane was back at the Sanctuary and one of the Magnus women was at least happy to have her there. The sparring helped Ashley both learn about and control her new powers. Jane admired Ashley’s strength and aptitude, Helen had taught her well but she still had a few things to learn. Like control. Jane looked down at her stomach, at the four lines that had sliced through her t-shirt, welts already forming, beads of blood staining around the edges.

“No worries,” Jane grinned. “That’s the good thing about being immortal - time heals all wounds.”

Ashley went silent, not returning Jane’s smile. She took another drink of her water, sloshing it around in her mouth before swallowing. “Am I? You know, immortal?”

“That’s a question for your mother, I suppose.” Jane narrowed her eyes at Ashley‘s sneer. “But, then again, she is persona non grata for you these days. You can‘t stay mad at her forever,” she paused, staring quizzically at Ashley as the younger woman chuckled. “What?”

“I said something similar to Mother.. about you.” Her water bottle empty, Ashley slowly spun it around between her fingers, face going serious again before she lifted her eyes. “Why didn’t it work out?”

“Aside from the obvious?” Jane smirked then sighed, running a hand over her head because now was not the time for humor. “It was a different time back then. Your mother and I broke so many barriers, pushed against society’s limits. But, there are only so many boundaries one can push before society pushes back, with consequences even the aegis of wealth and privilege can’t protect one from.”

“So you’re saying Mother chose her standing in society over you?”

“No. I’m saying it wasn’t that simple. *I* wasn’t that simple and the choice your mother made was to protect us both.”

Ashley shook her head. “I still don’t get it. If she loved you..”

“Sometimes love doesn’t conquer all, Ashley. If she held me at arm’s length, it’s because..” Jane pursed her lips, brows crinkling, chuckling mirthlessly at her own realization. “My love for her was a flame that burned too bright, too hot, threatened to consume us both.”

“If it makes you feel better,” Ashley reached out, placing her hand on Jane’s knee. “I think she still loves you.”

“I know,” Jane said, face creasing like a blade had been stabbed into her heart. She looked down at the hand on her knee, her daughter’s hand. The daughter Helen created. And Jane understood why Helen never told Ashley who her real ‘father‘ was, felt the weight of it pushing down on her heart. “But, there’s only one way this story can end. If your mother hold’s me at arm’s length now, it’s because she knows someday she’s going to have to kill me.”

**

“I’m sorry,” Helen stammered, slowing her step. “I thought you were Ashley.”

Helen had gone to the roof in search of her daughter. Instead, she found Jane. Who stood on the ledge, hands clasped behind her back, the slight breeze flapping the edges of her coat, fanning out her hair.

“She was,” Jane answered, pointing with her head. “She’s down in the garden now, chasing after Henry.”

Helen stepped towards the ledge, placed her hands palm flat before leaning and looking down. The full moon bright and high in the sky, she could see them down below, Henry in full wolf mode, Ashley a streak of blonde on black.

Henry dashed across a clearing, Ashley close on his tail. Ashley leapt, launching herself a good ten feet into the air. She landed on Henry’s back, the two tumbling to the ground before Ashley was back up on her feet and running into the trees, her laughter carrying on the breeze, Henry on her tail.

“You did good,” Jane said softly and Helen leaned back, turning her head and looking up to gaze at Jane. “She’s the best of both of us. All the good bits. None of the bad.”

Helen looked down at her hand, the one closest to Jane’s leg and how squelching the urge to reach out and touch her had been so instinctual. “I’m sorry,” Helen sighed. “That you never had more time with her.”

“So am I.” Jane lowered her head. “I’m leaving, Helen.”

“Why?” Helen gasped.

“You know why.” Jane squatted down, elbows on her knees as she continued staring forward. She closed her eyes, lowering her head, features obscured by a curtain of blonde hair. “Everyday, it gets.. hungrier, and I can feel it gnawing at my insides, getting closer and closer to the surface. I don’t have her strength.. or yours. Never did. But don’t worry..” she lifted her head, turning towards Helen, lips straining into a smirk. “I’ll limit my destruction to the non-living, at least the non-human. But I make no promises.”

“Oh Jane.” Helen stepped closer. She reached out and placed her hand on the small of Jane’s back because the urge to touch her was too strong, stronger than the instinct to hold back. “Let me help you.”

“What? Let you lock me in one of your cells? I’d go madder than I already am.”

“And what if you’re right?” Helen swallowed, her resolve setting. “What if the taste of my cunt on your tongue keeps the beast at bay?”

Jane’s head snapped towards Helen’s and Helen felt the shudder reverberating down Jane’s spine. The change in Jane was instant, the widening of her irises, the flush coloring her cheeks from blood suddenly boiling, the darkness in her eyes. But, it wasn’t the beast staring back at Helen, it was all Jane. The Jane of before, the one that drew Helen to her like a paperclip towards a giant magnet.

Slowly, predatorily, Jane climbed off the ledge. She stepped towards Helen and Helen stepped backwards. Not out of fear but in remembrance of all the times before, because Jane always liked a little resistance and Helen always liked to resist a little.

“What if,” Jane smiled, stepping closer. “That was a lie?”

“Maybe,” Helen smiled back, stilling her steps and letting Jane invade her space. “I don’t care.”

Jane growled, the sound a sucker punch to Helen’s insides. Jane’s hands whipped out, clasping Helen by the face as she crashed their lips together. Her kisses hard, all hunger and desire and possessiveness. It’d been over a century since Helen had been kissed like this, had searched and longed to be kissed like this again. Because no one could kiss her like Jane Druitt. She whimpered into Jane’s mouth, hands fisting the shirt at Jane’s hips, pulling her closer. Chest to chest, hips against hips and when Jane slid her thigh to the apex of Helen’s legs, she ground herself against the contact, moaning into Jane’s mouth.

Then, Helen felt it, the carnival ride rush as Jane transported both of them. And the roof of the Sanctuary became a hotel suite, large and luxurious. Before Helen could get her bearings, she was shoved hard, flopping backwards onto a bed. And Jane’s lips were on her, her hands yanking and pulling, tearing at Helen’s clothes.

Jane’s lips at Helen’s breast and Helen cried out, fingers tangling, fisting in Jane’s hair, nails scraping against the scalp as Jane’s teeth cleaved into Helen’s flesh, dangerously close to breaking the skin. Then Jane moved down, Helen’s fingers still tangled in her hair and Helen arched for her, opening her thighs. Jane’s face buried between her legs, teeth clamping at her tights, pulling, yanking, tearing them from Helen’s hips. Exposed, Helen cried out as Jane attacked her sex, slathered and suckled her labia before wrapping her lips around Helen’s clit, pushing two fingers deep into Helen’s cunt.

Helen wriggled and writhed, sighed and moaned and groaned. Helen didn’t want to project anymore onto this than it already was - a reunion, a goodbye. She couldn’t help herself. She’d spent a century mourning for a touch she thought she’d never feel again, only to have those hands back in her orbit but out of reach due to circumstance beyond her control. To have that touch back, Jane’s touch, to have Jane back even for a night, Helen let herself feel things she hadn’t allowed herself to feel for a very long time. Felt it with every pull of Jane’s lips, every push of her fingers. And when Jane replaced her fingers with her tongue and Helen keened as she plummetted over the edge, falling into oblivion, she knew she would probably never say those three words to Jane ever again. She’d never need to. She’d given Jane this, Helen allowed herself ‘this’ – a moment in time where they could drop the baggage between them and be what never could. If that wasn’t love, Helen didn’t know what was.
 
The moment the last aftershock reverberated through her body, Helen felt Jane clambering over her. She felt Jane’s hands around her wrists, pinning them to the mattress, the sweat from her exposed chest as she pressed her weight down. The slacks didn’t matter to Jane as she straddled Helen’s thigh, Helen lifting her leg, anchoring her heel into the mattress. All that mattered to Jane was the contact, the *friction* as she rolled her hips.
 
“Helen,” she groaned, face planted into the crook of Helen’s neck, repeating the word like a mantra. “Helen.. Helen.. Helen..”
 
**
 
Helen groaned, smiling as she stretched languidly. She turned her head, lips pursing as she gazed at the empty space next to her, uncertain how to feel at waking up alone. She turned her gaze beyond the edge of the mattress, towards the table by the window – a vase with a dozen white roses, full breakfast and kettle for tea.
 
Wrapping herself in the highest of thread count sheet, Helen rose from the bed, walking over towards the table. She picked up a croissant, placed it in her mouth as she walked over to the window and pulled back the curtain. The sight of the Eiffel Tower eclipsing the morning sun greeted her.
 
“Jane,” she whispered. “Always the hopeless romantic.”
 
Helen allowed herself the moment, sitting at the table, enjoying tea and breakfast as the sun rose over Paris before calling the Sanctuary and letting every one know she was all right. She’d lived long enough to enjoy the little moments because they seemed to always be so few and far between.
 
**
 
“Eat your beets, Ashley.”
 
“Mother,” Ashley snorted. “The only person at this table actually eating these beets is you.”
 
Helen lifted her eyes, glancing about the table long enough to confirm Ashley’s words. She shrugged, stabbing a bite’s worth with her fork and lifting it towards her mouth. “I like beets.”
 
“Doesn’t mean the rest of us should have to suffer,” Ashley grumbled.
 
There was a shared laugh around the table before the others returned to their conversations. Helen returned to her meal, lost in her own thoughts before her eyes glanced towards Ashley. Her daughter sat sullenly, pushing the food about her plate with her fork.
 
“I could,” Ashley said, feeling her mother’s eyes on her. “You know, go look for her. If you want.”
 
It had been a month since Jane had disappeared. Helen explained as best she could and Ashley seemed to accept her answer this time. There were the occasional bouts of moodiness but the control Jane had taught Ashley remained, and Helen no longer felt like her only child was slipping away from her. But, the loss Ashley felt was palpable and Helen, in her own way, felt it as well.
 
“I know Jane, better than anyone,” Helen finally spoke. “If she doesn’t want to be found, she won’t be.”
 
“Do you think she’ll be back?” Ashley asked aloud, more to herself than to Helen. Then, she lifted her eyes, focused her gaze. “Do you want her back?”
 
“Ashley..” Helen shifted uncomfortably. The conversation around the table had quietly died down and while their eyes weren’t on her, she knew their ears were hanging on Helen’s next word.
 
“She said..” Ashley leaned forward, forearms on the table. There was a hesitation in her voice, facial muscles twitching like she was fighting whether or not to say the words on the tip of her tongue. “Jane said you keep her at arm’s length because you know one day you’ll have to kill her. Could you do it?”
 
Her heart squeezed, thudding heavily in her chest at her daughter’s words. The wrong conversation, the wrong place and time but Helen knew what she said next was too important to wait for the ‘right time’.
 
“Yes,” Helen said. And Ashley reeled as if struck. Helen reached out, clasping her hand around Ashley’s wrist and gripping tightly. “All the things it makes her do, all the things it’s does *to* her.. it’s killing her Ashley. Please understand, it’s neither a decision I take lightly nor one I look forward to but, if it means ending her pain, I *will* do it. And I won’t hesitate.” She moved her hand from Ashley’s wrist, wrapping her fingers around Ashley’s hand, thumb brushing over the knuckles. “What happened to Jane isn’t what happened to you. You are her daughter but you are not Jane.”
 
Ashley nodded, lower lip trembling as she fought the tears welling in her eyes, her greatest fears laid out and exposed. She shuddered as she inhaled, holding her breath as she composed herself. “Do you love her?” she asked and Helen felt her heart squeeze at the sheltered and sometimes naïve little girl so visible beneath the surface of the young woman before her.
 
Helen reached up, placing her palm gently to Ashley’s cheek. “I loved her enough to find a way to bare her child.”
 
“And now? What about now?”
 
“How could I not? Without her, there would be no you. For that alone I will love Jane Druitt for eternity.”
 
**
 
If Jane Druitt didn’t want to be found, Helen knew, she wouldn’t.

It didn’t stop Helen from searching for Jane anyway. And when the breadcrumbs in the form of mutilated corpses began appearing, it hadn’t been difficult for Helen to follow the trail.

Jane had kept her word, for the most part, choosing the ones that wouldn’t be missed. The ones almost deserving of their fate at Jane’s hands - murderers, drug dealers, pedophiles.

The trail led Helen to the outskirts of Lebanon, Oregon. To the home of one Denon Queen. Who spent his days working as a refrigerator repairman and his nights scouring the highways searching for human prey. When the police would arrive (tipped off by Helen and long after she‘d left), when they searched his property, they’d find more than twenty bodies in the shallow graves scattered about the grounds.

Helen entered Denon Queen’s house, made her way down to the cellar Denon had spent an entire year building, with its thick sound-proof walls, polished floors, industrial sink, gurneys where Denon could do his work, a refrigerator where he kept his most treasured of ‘trophies’.

There were two rows of flourescent lights and in the middle of them, the center of the room, Denon Queen hung by his wrists from a chain. What was left of him, anyway. The sight enough to make even Helen flinch. What Denon Queen had done to his victims, Jane Druitt had done to him. Only Jane didn’t wait until Denon was unconscious.

“You shouldn’t be here.”

Helen jumped at the sound of Jane’s voice, missed her in the darkened corner obscured by the body hanging in the center of the room. “Neither should you.”

Jane rose from where she’d been squatting, bottle of whiskey in one hand, razor in the other. Her hair hung loosely over her face, face and hair stained with blood. She looked gaunt, pale, dark circles under her eyes. Jane was battling her beast, and the beast was finally winning.

“I’m where I belong,” Jane slurred before taking another long pull of whiskey. She pointed with her bloodied hand, razor gleaming under the harsh light. “You like my work? I think I’ll call it ‘Death - Denon Queen’s One True Gift To Humanity’.”

She lurched forward, swinging with her arm, slashing at Denon’s corpse with her razor. The cut long and deep, viscera splattering against the wall on her out swing. She slashed again, and again and again, frenzied and manic, her eyes wild, the smile on her lips feral. With every swing of her arm it was like Helen could see Jane’s control weakening, she could see the beast beneath the surface no longer at bay.

“Jane! STOP IT!” Helen yelled. “STOP IT!!”

Jane didn’t, just continued slashing and hacking. The lights began to flicker, tiny streaks of lightning danced on and around Jane, the energy creature within her emerging.

“JANE!!” Helen roared. She reached into her pocket. The handgun seemed small compared to the enormity of the situation around her. But, it was the only protection Helen had brought with her. She whipped the gun out of her pocket, taking a shooting stance as she raised it with both hands. A squeeze of her finger, a pop echoed like a sonic boom against the concrete walls. Her aim true, the bullet snapped the chain at the anchor attached to the ceiling. The corpse dropped to the floor.

Jane’s head snapped up, wild eyes glaring angrily at Helen. There was a moment, one that seemed to stretch for eternity, where Jane glared at Helen, her grip tightening around the razor and Helen stared at Jane, gun pointed forward, sight aimed directly at Jane’s forehead.

Jane blinked then blinked again, opening and closing her eyes in a rapid, chaotic succession. The clarity, the control returned. She blinked one last time, staring at Helen as if seeing her for the first time. Then, she looked around her, at the corpse on the floor, the razor in her hand. Grip loosening on the bottle in her other, it dropped to the floor shattering. She took a step backwards with wide and horrified eyes, chest rising and falling as she began to hyperventilate.

“This.. I..” she stammered. “I’ve never blacked out before.” She turned her gaze to Helen. “Have I?”

“Jane..” Helen sighed. She lowered her gun, tucking it back into her pocket before taking a step forward.

Like a wounded and frightened animal, Jane lurched backwards, hands raised defensively. The hands covered in blood, and Jane stared at them like they were alien creature. Then it all became too much. She dropped to her knees, throwing her head back as she screamed, a wild and wounded roar. Slumping forward, bloodied hands curled into fists, she began beating them against the floor, hard and fast, over and over.

The snap of bone and Helen was at Jane’s side, kneeling down next to her, rubbing Jane’s back, a mother calming a tantruming child.

The rage subside, the control returned, and Jane panted heavily. “I.. I can’t do this anymore.”

“No,” Helen said softly. “You can’t. You were always so bloody stubborn and too proud for your own good. It’s time to come out of the rain. It’s time for you to come home.”

“Helen..” Jane lifted her head a little, turning it towards Helen.

“I thought it was Ashley who needed you. I was wrong. You need Ashley.”

“What about you, Helen?”

“If I didn’t love you, do you think I would have tried so hard to have your child? Do you think I would be here now? I don’t know if we can change the ending to this story but don’t we deserve to at least try?”

**

“Ashley,” Helen spoke softly.

Ashley stood sentry-like in the room, hands clasped behind her back, eyes focused on the two-way mirror before her. The room had been Ashley’s once. Now, it was Jane’s. The irony not lost on anyone. Inside, the room was practically pitch black, Jane nothing more than a shadow lying on the cot against the far wall.

Helen stepped towards her until they were shoulder to shoulder, and she placed her hand on the small of her daughter’s back, rubbing a light circular pattern. “You’ve been here all day. You should get some sleep.”

Ashley nodded her head as if in agreement but didn’t move. “I hate seeing her like this.”

“I know. As do I. Do you..” Helen paused, turning her head towards Ashley. “Do you understand why I never told you?”

Ashley chuckled. “Understanding and agreeing are two different things. But..” she lowered her head, jaw flexing as she clenched. “I don’t know if I can be like you, keep her at arm’s length.”

The turnabout in Ashley had been so sudden for Helen, almost unexpected. How Ashley went from not wanting anything to do with Jane to now, where she couldn’t imagine a life without her. And Helen faced with the possibility of having to do just that - remove Jane from Ashley’s life. Permanently.

“You have to understand,” Helen spoke, hating that such words needed to be said. “This might not work.”

Her hand still on the small of Ashley’s back, Helen felt the sudden change. Like water gone to a boil in an instant, Ashley’s anger was palpable. Another lesson of control to master, the rage checked too late fed into the vampire genes permanently fused to her being. “If it comes to that..” she inhaled deeply, body trembling as she fought for control. “I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive you.”

“I know.” Helen smiled weakly, leaning towards her daughter, bringing her lips to Ashley’s temple. “Now go get some sleep. Jane will be here when you wake. I promise.”

Another five minutes and Ashley heeded her mother’s advice, turning on her heel and heading towards the exit, hopefully, to get some much needed rest. It’d only been a couple days since Helen returned with Jane to the Sanctuary and Ashley had been a constant presence at Jane’s side ever since.

It’s not that Helen didn’t want Ashley to grow closer to Jane. But, she was painfully aware of the stakes involved; stakes that Ashley, even now, refused to believe were there. For twenty-five years Helen had been the only constant in Ashley’s life, her only parent. Now, Ashley had two parents and the pulling away, as Ashley gravitated more and more towards Jane, was an unintentional stab in the heart. Helen wasn’t jealous of Jane, not in the slightest. But, Jane was different now, a different woman than the one Helen fell deeply for. Ashley had changed, thanks to the Cabal. That was what terrified Helen, two dark hearts inexorably drawn to each other. All the years, all the time Helen spent working with Abnormals, it was Jane who understood their daughter in ways Helen couldn’t comprehend. It was Jane who Ashley wanted near as she adjusted to the change within her.

Helen shook her head to clear away her thoughts, focus on the task at hand. She walked towards the door to Jane’s room, heard the click of the lock as she wrapped her hand around the handle. A sign she was being watched, Henry and probably Will, both comforting and irritating.

“Lights, twenty percent,” she commanded as she entered, the lights brightening immediately.

Jane groaned, flopping her forearm over her eyes as she shifted slightly on the bed. “Increase the temperature while you’re at it, it’s damn near freezing in here.”
 
“The low temperature is part of the treatment,” Helen said, not feeling the need to explain any further that the low temperature helped to contain the energy creature within Jane. “Besides, you have more than enough blankets.”
 
“I’d rather have you keeping me warm.”

“Mmm,” Helen made a wincing face. “I walked right into that one, didn’t I?”
 
“Yes,” Jane grinned. “You did.”
 
“How do you feel?” Helen asked, stepping closer.

“What’d you bloody inject me with? My head’s pounding.. The last time I felt like this, we were in Moscow.”

“And ‘a night at the ballet’ has never had quite the same meaning.” Helen chuckled. “Don’t worry, it’ll wear off.”

Jane mumbled a disbelieving protest. Helen stepped closer, swiveling her hips so she could sit down on the edge of the bed. She placed the over-sized book in her hand onto the bed. “I brought you something.”

“Anything other than a bottle of aged merlot, a ballet dancer able to hook her ankles behind her head and I’m not interested.”

“Jane,” Helen grinned, shaking her head. “Do you always have to be so vulgar?”

“You like it when I’m vulgar,” Jane smiled for the first time in what felt like an eternity. “And you certainly didn’t object when that dancer displayed her skills.”

Helen lowered her head slightly, pink creeping up her cheeks as she allowed herself to linger on the memory. One of their more memorable occasions, mainly because it turned into an ‘international incident’ and, had Helen’s father not gotten involved, the two might not have been able to set foot into Russia ever again.

“I think I have something better.”

Jane pulled the arm off her face, squinting her eyes as she gazed up at Helen. “Are you saying in the past 100 years, you’ve learned to hook your ankles behind your head?”

“Jane..” Helen sighed in exasperation, chuckling at Jane’s ability to turn any conversation into one about sex on a dime. “It’s a picture book, of Ashley,” she added immediately before Jane got the wrong idea. She set a hand atop the leather bound book. “It’s not the same as having been there. I just thought you’d like to see her as she grew up.”

Quickly, Jane rolled onto her side, propping herself up on an elbow as she eagerly pulled the book towards her with her other hand. Helen might have been accused of being a bit too clinical in documenting practically every moment of Ashley’s development. But for once, it truly felt for the good because she saw the change in Jane, felt it, the always there anger just below the surface blown away like smoke in a breeze. And it was like having the old Jane back, the one Helen fell in love with.

They sat for over an hour, Jane turning the pages, looking at every photograph as if she were studying for a thesis. Sometimes, she would ask questions and Helen would tell her the story behind the picture - Ashley’s first time eating spaghetti by herself and how she preferred to spread it all over her face and hair instead, the days at the beach, her first bicycle ride, the angry face she made every time Helen would make her wear a dress.

Sometimes, Jane would smile or laugh but mostly she gazed at the pictures with a solemn melancholy, the ache over having never been there as her child grew to woman. She turned the page, to the last two photos in the book. The first was of Jane and Ashley in the Training Room, Jane with a staff held firmly in both hands, Ashley in a crouch, nails extended. The photo would look menacing if it weren’t for the wide smiles on both their faces. The other photo was of Ashley, her back to the camera as she stood sentry before the two-way mirror to Jane’s room. Jane looked up quizzically.

“You’re a part of her life,” Helen admitted sheepishly. “Even I can’t deny that truth.”

Closing the book, Jane rose to a seated position. She reached out with a hand, pressing it to Helen’s cheek, thumb grazing over Helen’s lips before she brought their mouths together. The kiss was soft, gentle, gentle like the Jane of before and Helen felt her heart thudding at the thought.

Jane kept their faces close as she parted their lips, pressing her forehead to Helen’s. “Thank you,” she whispered softly.
 
She leaned back, eyes closed as she laid back down on the bed, sliding her hands behind her head underneath the pillow.
 
“Lights, off,” Helen commanded. Before she could even think of what she was doing, she bent over, working on the zippers of her boots. With her boots off, she climbed onto the bed, clambering over Jane to take the side closest to the wall.
 
“What are you doing?” Jane asked.
 
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Helen rolled her eyes, moving onto her side and draping a blanket over the both of them. “Keeping you warm. Computer, holographic image number 175.”
 
“What’s this?”
 
“Something else to keep you warm,” Helen smiled resting her head against Jane’s shoulder.
 
The room brightened ever so slightly, painting the walls in dark hues of orange and red. On the far wall, where there used to be a door and a window that held the two-way mirror, was now white sand an endless sea of dark blue, the sky warming in colors of deep red from the soon-to-be rising sun.
 
“Mmm,” Jane purred her acknowledgment. “I remember this. Eight days, just you and I, shipwrecked on a tiny island fifty miles from Fiji.” She slid a hand out from under the pillow, placing it on the back of Helen’s head, fingers threading into Helen’s hair. “I’d never seen you so happy,” she whispered quietly.
 
“Until the day Ashley was born, those were some of the happiest days of my life,” Helen admitted solemnly. As much as Helen cared for Jane even in those days, before they took the Source Blood, there was a part of her that held Jane at arm’s length. For eight days, Helen lowered her guards and let Jane close. It wasn’t just being with Jane, it was the freedom she’d felt. The freedom to be and do anything she wanted, she could be with the person she wanted, the one she loved without worrying about the disapproving glances of polite society or worrying about the consequences should she stray too far outside the lines.
 
But all good things come to an end. They were rescued, returned to London where Helen’s guard went back up and her arm was once again holding Jane at length. They took the Source Blood. Jane changed. Helen changed. And what could never be, even in moments of flights of fancy, was lost forever.
 
Or so they thought.
 
“If you had the chance to do it all over again..” Jane spoke, breaking the comfortable silence between them. “Would you? Take the Source Blood, I mean?”
 
“Yes,” Helen answered without pause. She lifted onto an elbow to gaze down at Jane’s face. “Even knowing all the pain that’s to come. Knowing that I would lose you and so many others, I would do it all over in a heartbeat. We have a daughter, Jane. How could you ask me to change that?”
 
“Helen,” Jane turned to face her. “That’s not what I meant and you know it.
 
Helen leaned down, forehead to Jane’s temple. “I know,” she sighed.

Holding Jane at arm’s length had become a reflex, ready and willing to become indignant at the smallest of perceived slights.

“I would,” Jane whispered, her grip on Helen’s hair tightening. “I’d change it in a heartbeat if I could. Burn that damned blood and everything and everything to do with it. A hundred years, frozen in time, with only the memory of the woman I loved more than the world staring back at me with such hatred in her eyes. You were always slipping away from me, Helen and every day, a thousand times in a thousand different ways, I died a little inside. I know it’s wrong to say and maybe I wouldn’t, but there will always be a part of me that would give anything to have you look at me like you used to, like you loved me.”

She’d often wondered, more times than she could count, why the Source Blood reacted to each of them in the ways it had. Had things been different, would Helen be the one who could transport, forever bonded with a creature that lusted for violence and Jane the one who’d live forever? It hadn’t been easy, not thinking of Jane’s pain so she could steel herself for what must be done. But to see it in Jane’s eyes now, a different time, a different place, to feel that flicker of hope that maybe, just maybe, they could make this work.

“Jane..” she breathed, voice cracking.

“Yes, I know, I’m obsessed..” She lifted her other hand, bringing her palm to Helen’s cheek. “But can you lie with me here, right now, and honestly tell me this obsession is purely one-sided?”

They both knew the answer to the question as Helen’s heart thudded heavily in her chest. It’d been hard before, their relationship, it was hard now. There were the old walls between them, some having crumbled over time, some still standing tall and strong. The ones created by forces beyond either of their control, the ones Jane inadvertently built, the walls Helen herself had built brick by brick.

Helen was immortal, she had all the time in the world. Time with Jane was always so small, here then gone in an instant. Helen had all the time in the world but, more than anything, she wanted to bottle it. Take those tiny moments of time and make them last forever. Because she knew, the Jane before her, here and now, practically begging Helen to say those three words might not be the Jane of tomorrow. The walls around her heart too thick and high to take that risk.

“I know,” Jane whispered, her face pained as she tilted her head and brought their lips together. “I know.”

Helen whimpered as their lips met. The sorrow and anguish in her kiss quickly enflamed into desire and passion. Jane always had that affect on her. Hand to Jane’s chest, she felt the quickening of her heartbeat, the rising temperature of her skin. And it was Helen who’s passion turned quickly to hunger, hand gliding quickly down the smooth plain of stomach, fingertips sliding under the waistband of Jane’s sweatpants. Helen moved until her fingers touched the flesh she ached too many years for.

Jane groaned, mouth going slack as she arched her hips, lifting her thigh as Helen pushed three fingers deep into her. Helen groaned, breathing already gone ragged at Jane’s acquiescence, her easy submission. A tiger by the tail turned into a harmless kitten at Helen’s touch.

Helen shifted, skirt bunching at her hips as she straddled Jane’s thigh because she needed to feel Jane against her, needed to plummet along side her as she fell over the edge. Jane lifted her head, clamping their mouths together. Clumsy and urgent, with clacking teeth and swiping tongues. Before, when Helen gave herself to Jane, it had been a coda, the ending to a story written long ago. This was a beginning, because Helen had allowed herself to hope, allowed herself to *feel*.

Even if it was only for a small moment in time.

The tightness within her coiling, Helen pulled her mouth from Jane’s, face collapsing into the crook of her neck. She whimpered with every push of her arcing hips and Jane groaned with every jut of Helen’s fingers, at the palm pressing and rubbing hard against her clit.

Jane came first, neck arching as she craned her head, slamming it into the pillow. Helen lifted her head so she could watch Jane come, the eyes squeezed tight, the crinkling of her brow, the guttural cry releasing from her widened mouth. And how Helen loved to watch Jane come, how she loved to *make* Jane come. And it wasn’t long before she was joining her, body twitching and convulsing, her keening wail cut short as her face collapsed onto Jane’s shoulder.

The minutes ticked by, the two caught in a mutual afterglow of panted breaths, bodies twitching, shuddering against each other. Helen kept her fingers inside Jane, slowly stroking, because she always liked the way Jane felt around her, how she’d shiver as Helen gently brought her down.

She felt a tugging on her hair, Jane pulling Helen’s head up so their eyes could meet. Helen dared to look into Jane’s eyes, heart squeezing as she saw nothing but Jane gazing back at her. Jane pursed her lips, brows twitching as she fought to the find the words.

“I..”

“Please don’t, Jane,” Helen said solemnly. “You say those words and my heart will shatter into a million pieces.”

“For you, I won’t say it..” Jane smiled weakly. “But know I feel them. I always have. I always will.”

“I know.” Helen drifted her head back down. “I know.”

**

THREE MONTHS LATER

It was late, Helen always seemed to be working late, particularly these days. Helen sat at her computer in the lab, in her pristine white lab coat, glasses on her face. She typed furiously, one eye on the computer screen, the other on her notes.

There was a sound, like a sudden gust of wind, the rumble of thunder in the distance. And Helen felt her lips curling into a smile at the familiar sound of boots clacking on cement, imagining the sultry swagger of slender hips.

Then, there were warm hands placed softly on her shoulders, Helen tilting her head as Jane placed a kiss to her cheek.

“How’d it go?” Helen asked.

“You should know,” Jane lifted to her full height, moving to the table where she turned her back to it, leaning against it as she folded her arms over her chest. “I’m sure you were watching every second.”

Which was true, although Helen would never admit it. “And how did Ashley perform on her first field mission with her ‘Old Man’?”

Jane winced playfully at the nickname. “She enjoyed herself. Probably a bit too much.”

Helen nodded at the admission. It was a simple mission, tracking down illegal organ harvesters, ones who’d set their sites on the organs of Abnormals and did anything and everything to get them. Jane and Ashley found them, Helen watching through the spy camera Jane wore. Jane had been surprisingly restrained. Something about leading a mission with her own daughter made Jane a bit more cautious, responsible even. Ashley, she’d been less restrained. All her training, all the control she’d learned and she still couldn’t help letting her vampire instincts take over. There’d been twelve of them, when Jane calmed Ashley down, there were eight left, one dying in transport on the way to the hospital.

Jane shifting, reaching out with her hand to brush the backs of her knuckles across Helen’s cheek. “You look tired. When’s the last time you slept?”

“I can sleep when I’m dead,” Helen chuckled mirthlessly.

“You have to admit,” Jane grinned, eyes immediately going hooded. “Going to bed sounds way more appealing than playing on your computer.”

“Jane..” Helen sighed, rolling her eyes.

“At least I didn’t say anything vulgar.” She stepped closer, Helen stifling a shudder at the sudden heat of Jane’s body. “Unless you want me to be vulgar.”

It was a distraction and a very good one at that. Helen rolled her lower lip between her teeth, trying very hard to keep her eyes focused on the screen before her instead of the almost six feet of growing desire standing next to her.

“Can’t you imagine,” Jane continued, the hand on Helen’s face drifting down, finding the top button on Helen’s blouse. “You, me, soft sheets, skin against skin.”

The first button popped open, Jane moved her fingers lower to the next button. She draped her free arm over Helen’s shoulder, leaning in and nipping at Helen’s neck as she slid her hand into Helen’s shirt, cupping Helen’s breast, thumb grazing over the nipple.

“What do you say, Helen?” Jane purred. “Do you want to make another baby?”

Helen’s eyes snapped open, head twisting towards Jane. “What?”

Jane removed her hand from Helen’s breast, placing the tips of her fingers at Helen’s chin. “Don’t tell me, after all these years, you never thought about it? Giving Ashley a little sister?”

“I..” Helen stammered, because she *had* thought about it. But she’d used all of Jane’s genetic material to create Ashley. Until now. And Jane’s eyes twinkled playfully as she watched the wheels in Helen’s mind spin at the possibility.

“We.. I..” Helen shook her head, lowering her eyes to break the contact. “I can’t.”

Jane narrowed her eyes. She inhaled deeply, then pressed her lips to Helen’s temple. “Fair enough. But..” She rose to her full height, pulling back her hands and clasping them behind her back. “Doesn’t change the fact that you need to go to bed.”

Helen smiled politely. “I will. I promise.”

“You better,” Jane said as she began stepping backwards, unbuttoning her shirt. “Because that’s where I’m going. Your bed. And don’t think I won’t start without you.”

“Jane..”

A puff of dark smoke, streaking light and Jane was gone. Helen stared at the empty space where she’d once stood then turned back to her computer. Except, she couldn’t get her fingers to type, couldn’t focus on the words displayed before her, everything replaced with the image of Jane in her bed, and all the things she could be doing with Jane in her bed instead of typing on a computer.

Helen rose from her chair, her steps quickening as she headed towards the door. The last three months had been difficult as they all adjusted to Jane’s presence within the Sanctuary and Jane adjusted to a situation where she wasn’t one-hundred percent in control. But the change in Jane hadn’t gone unnoticed.

All Helen ever wanted was time in a bottle. Time to cherish the little moments for a bit longer than they lasted. For so long, Helen assumed there would only be one ending to this particular story. With Jane here, now, Helen realized the ending wasn’t quite so clear cut. It wasn’t time in a bottle but it was still time.

And Helen planned to cherish every moment of it.

END