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I've been through a lot of serious situations in my life, and I honestly think that I've been ready and capable to handle every one that came my way. That being said, I can't seem to wrap my head around the most important thing that's ever happened to me in my entire life. I can't wrap my head around that one eight-letter word that forever changed my life: terminal. Is it any surprise, though, that I can't wrap my head around the fact that I'm eighteen years old, stuck in the middle of Dallas, devoid of any immediate family members that care just beginning my life and about to die. Being diagnosed with leukemia only two months after moving into my own apartment and starting up with a dance company that I loved had been heartbreaking but not the end of the world. Sure, I'd dropped dance to work full time at both the music store I'd worked at previously as well as the Hotel Camilla as a maid so I could afford to pay rent, eat, and pay for my aggressive chemo and radiation treatments thinking once I went into remission everything could go back to normal. My whole world just fell apart when I'd realized it had all been for nothing. In approximately six months, my life would be over, and I'd be nothing more than compost.

The depression crushes me, but I try not to let it show as my co-worker, Wendy, and me quickly and efficiently finish up the rest of the rooms before the sun rises and all the vampires go to sleep. I probably shouldn't have gone to work right only an hour after my doctor's appointment, but I guess I hadn't figured that the results would be that my cancer had become terminal. My bad judgment means that I'd spent the last few hours slaving away cleaning a bunch of vampire's rooms, trying to pretend that my life isn't falling apart while Wendy prattled on and on about her boyfriend, Jackson, who is, apparently, convinced that vampires aren't real, just a conspiracy by the government to cover up a chain of gangs that are mentally unstable even though she tells him time and time again she's met more than her fair share while working at the vampire owned and vamp friendly hotel. I didn't have the heart to tell the blonde, big-haired girl that her boyfriend is clearly crazy and she should leave him because I was afraid that I'd go off on some kind of rant about how life is short and slips through your fingers too damn quickly to waste time with a boy who spends more time talking conspiracy theories them sweeping her off her feet.

I didn't want to talk about my issues, so I said nothing about hers.

"Are we going to take out break before we have to take everything down to laundry?" Wendy asks brightly as we stop our cart into the employee section.

Pausing, I rub my fingers over my wrist absently before looking up and nodding my head. I grab my purse and offer her a small smile as I adjust my ponytail and head towards the door, "Yep. I'll see you in twenty minutes?"

Wendy grins widely, not sensing anything wrong, "See you then, Lanie."

I offer her a small smile as I slip out of the employee room and move up onto the rooftop of the hotel. The night air is cool and nips at my bare arms, and I wrap my arms around myself breathing in the chilly air as I study the city below me. Above, darkness reigns, the night that used to be simply a time for sleep but now seems to breed fear for some and excitement for others with the announcement of the reality of vampires. There are no stars in the sky, and I'm not surprised, but I am disappointed. I'd grown up traveling from place to place, but my favorite place, my happy place I suppose you could call it, has always been my grandmother's small home right beside the Louisiana bayou, one of the few places in the world -it seems-that one could look up into the sky an see the millions of stars out there twinkling. Grandma used to point out the constellations to me, and when she'd been curled up on a hospital bed coughing and wheezing as a result of the lung cancer that had attacked quite suddenly, she'd smiled as I cried and said, "Don't worry, pitit, I'm not really gone. I'm in you."
I'd shaken my head and wiped the tears from cheeks, "But granmé what if I can't feel you? How can you live in me? I don't understand."

"You will," she'd smiled. "You'll understand later, but until then, when you look up to the stars you can always find me, because the stars never change. They're the one place where time stands still."

I laugh slightly as I drop onto the ground, leaning my head back against the cement wall as I stare up at the sky. Grandma had been trying to teach me a lesson, but even now all I can think about is how supernovas happen everyday and someday the stars would change and would be different, but I understood her point just the same. I shake my head, feeling the depression crushing me, and I look down to see my hand rubbing my wrist absently. Sighing, I open my purse and reach inside until I find the small plastic container that I carry with me always; I crack open the container and lift the thin razor out of the container, running my fingers along its smooth surface as I study it.

To use it...or not to use it...that is the question.

I shouldn't. I know. But I'd done it early on in childhood, and I'd started again when I'd learned about my cancer, and I hadn't been able to stop since. If my brother knew, he'd automatically assume that I'm trying to kill myself the same way my former roommate, Carly, and my best friend, Tristan, think I am. I'm not suicidal...right? The sudden sound of voices catches my attention and pulls me from my thoughts.

"2000 years is enough." A calm voice assures, and, still clutching my razor, my head darts up to study the scene in front of me. A boy who looks around sixteen or seventeen stands tall and relaxed, looking out over the city as I had been moments before, while a tall, fair-haired man that towers over him seemingly trying to stay in control of his emotions stands behind. Both are obviously vampires given their pasty complexions, and neither has noticed me, and I don't move, too entranced in what's happening to say anything, besides I don't want to interrupt-what appears to be-a very serious conversation.

"I can't accept this," the blond man says, swallowing hard as he watches the boy intensely.

The boy turns around to look at the man, resigned, "We don't belong here."

Wait...what? I've never heard that from a vampire before.

"But we are here!" The other man says loudly, not exactly yelling but more trying to get his point across.

"It's not right," the boy continues as if he hadn't heard him, turning around completely to look at the massive man behind him. "We're not right."

"You taught me there is no right or wrong," the blond man reasons. "Only survival or death."

I blink at the words in surprise; they're so cold and so...familiar. I'd lived the same way for a long time, and maybe at one time in my life I'd believed that to be true, but at a certain point you have to move on. You have to have something more to live for, simply doing what you have to for survival just isn't enough, and it doesn't excuse everything. The motto had been the same one that I'd used to get through my mother's behavior growing up as well as my brother's flighty nature, but for a vampire, I could see clearly it means something totally different. Still, I'm lost in the conversation.

"I told a it turns out." The boy admits, and while his face remains impassive, I see the regret in his eyes. I recognize the regret and feel twinge in my heart as I watch the scene unfold.

"I will keep you alive by force!" The man says angrily, stalking towards the boy who remains still and unconcerned.

"Even if you could," the boy begins, obviously doubtful, "why would you be so cruel?"

The blond man takes a deep breath before choking out words in another language, suddenly seeming desperate and sad, nearly on the verge of tears. The man replies in the same language as the other man begins to cry blood, pleading with him before he falls to his knees in tears. It's such a touching scene that I can't help but swallow hard, looking down as the man's sobs break through the utter silence of night. Words from the boy cut through the sound of the man's crying, and I swallow harder, looking up to see him still hunched over in front of the boy when he seems to cry harder. The boy nods and looks down at the man in tears in front of him, swallow as a conflicted look crosses his face, "Let me go."

The blond man quiets slightly, looking up and out towards the horizon, "I won't let you die alone."

"Yes, you will," the boy says calmly like he knows he's going to get his way. The man begins to sob again, his face falling as his shoulders slump with defeat and utter depression that seems to have crashed down on him suddenly. The boy places his hand on the back of man's neck, and his sobs quiet as he looks up into the boy's face. "As your maker, I command you," he says with a slight smile, a fake smile that doesn't reach his eyes.

The man smiles at him with infinite sadness etched across his face as he rises to his feet; they gaze at each other for a moment, and I smile slightly, reminded of the way I'd done the same with my grandma when I was little. It's a look that says, we've been through so much that words are meaningless; it conveys more love and understanding than words are truly capable of expressing. I watch as the blond takes an obviously agonizing walk from the boy towards the stairs where a blonde woman in a sundress that I hadn't noticed stands. The pair pause and look at each other for a moment as she touches his arm in comfort, the bloody tears still staining his stark white skin.

"I'll stay with him," the woman murmurs comfortingly, "as long as it takes."

That's when it really hits me. My eyes move to the horizon where a sliver of sunlight has begun to peek out over Dallas, and I swallow hard, my eyes focusing on the boy who stands looking over it all calmly. Swiftly, my eyes dart back to the blond man as he disappears down the stairs seeming desolate and lost, a feeling I'm more than familiar with. Maker. I've never heard the word before, but whatever it means, it clearly means something important between the two vampires. I frown at the boy who seems so calm, so serene. A boy who's apparently had 2000 years to live his life and, instead of living and learning as long as he can, he's giving up, putting an end to his own existence as if it means so little while I've lived a meager eighteen years in comparison and would give my heart to live until I'm simply twenty-one.

Who the hell does he think he is?

The blonde woman walks towards him uncertainly, standing a little ways away from him while his eyes remained on the sliver of sunlight that has pierced the sky transforming the deep blue to a lavender. "It won't take long," he says with a tremble in his voice, hesitating, "not at my age."

I glare at him, feeling the injustice that he's choosing to end his own life when mine is being taken from me burning red hot.

"You know," the woman begins. "It wasn't very smart...the Fellowship of the Sun part."

The boy nods, "I know. I thought it might fix everything somehow."

Well, for someone who seems to be trying so damn hard to fix everything he clearly seems like a giver-upper. The suicide of others has never really been something I thought about. The words I'd always thrown around were 'their choice' or 'cry for attention.' I guess with my own death on the horizon, I find a new perspective that includes 'selfish' and 'stupid'. Having a terrible life or needing to run from the past doesn't make it okay. Throwing away life is just wrong, especially if it is yours. After all, what right do you have to throw away life so callously when other people have it ripped away? What gives you the right to make that decision?

"But I don't think like a vampire anymore," he comments before turning to face the woman, opening his mouth to ask something else when I scoff.

They both turn to look at me, and I freeze, realizing I'd been louder than intended; I look the boy in the face for a moment, studying his impassive, accepting expression and feel the anger at my own injustice boil over. Usually, I'm shy and extremely timid, but my suppressed anger at my own situation and his decision bubble over into a case a severe word vomit,

"You don't think at all, do you?" He says nothing, so I continue. "What's your glitch, huh? What's so terrible that killing yourself is the only answer to your problems?"

"I've lived a long time, and in that time done unspeakable acts against the human race."

"And what? You can't live with the guilt anymore?" I snap at him.

"Hey-" the blonde woman begins defensively.

"It is more than that," he says calmly.

I raise my eyebrows and give a humorless laugh, "Is it? Well then, have it, explain why it's so goddamn important that you kill yourself."

"Vampires shouldn't exist. We feed off the blood of the living to sustain the dead. We think ourselves above the humans, act like we're above them. We act civilized, act as though we're like them, but we're not. We have instincts that are impossible to ignore, that urge us to kill. For years I've perpetuated this behavior. It is wrong, and I must repent for my sins."

"Fuck that," I hiss, shaking my head. "Bullshit. God, you don't even get it, do you? You're dead, so-freaking-what? And you suck blood, gross, yeah, but again, so freaking what? And since when does a person have to die to get forgiveness for all the shit they've done in their past? If that's the case then the whole freaking world would be six feet under!" I say in exasperation.

"You want to compare the sins of mankind to mine? I've slaughtered mercilessly over the last 2000 years without remorse and without regret; it is not the same."

"Bullshit, dumbass, it's exactly the same. And, for the record, if you didn't have 'remorse' and 'regret' then we wouldn't be standing here having this conversation. Besides, Mr. I-No-Longer-Think-Like-A-Vampire, how do you expect vampires to get over their superiority complex without help? You've had 2000 years to learn and evolve, not everyone has. How do you expect vampires to change if no one around is capable of it? The young learn from the old, and if you're so convinced that vampires are incapable of change-to the point where it drives you to killing yourself-why are you going become dust in the freaking wind and let the vampires who see and treat humans like blood bags train new vampires to do the same?" He blinks, opening his mouth to respond.

I'm so on a roll, though, that I can't seem to stop, so I continue. "And you might see this as peaceful, but it's so goddamn selfish! You're going to burn up and leave all the people who love and care about you behind to pick up the pieces. You don't get it do you? Have you ever lost someone you really, really loved with your whole heart and soul?" The boy remains impassive, but I can tell he's really listening, and the woman beside him seems to be in tears at the mention of losing a loved one. Their two totally different reactions tell me all I need to know about each one's history. "If you haven't then you really don't understand that regardless of why someone dies, it still affects everyone whose lives they touched. It leaves them with hurt and sadness and pain and anger and a feeling of complete abandonment that you never really get over.

"Life is so damn precious, and for some people it's so damn short, what gives you the right to decide it's over just because your tired? Life sucks sometimes, but you don't get to just end it all because your tired of living and your tired of disappointment and your tired of the people around you. Life is trying and failing and trying again. It's teaching what you learn. It's evolving and forever and full of love and hate and anger and sadness and desire. And it's not yours to decide when it's over. Why would you even want to? People would die for one more day, and have forever and you're throwing it away for what?" I shake my head and cross my arms. "It's not fair what you're doing. You say you want forgiveness. Forgive yourself, because God forgives everyone immediately when they ask for it. You're the problem. Not your past, not God, not the world around you. It's you and your mindset. Life is beautiful, and if you don't realize that then you definitely have no right to leave because despite having walked this earth for 2000 years you haven't learned a damn thing."

The three of us stand in silence for a moment. The boy's eyes on me, the woman's eyes on him looking stunned, and mine on the horizon where the sun is almost about to break, brightening the pink, red, and orange sky into the gorgeous yellow light of day. My eyes shift up to meet the boy's, and I sigh, "People fight for their life tooth and nail," I whisper, "who are you to just throw it away?"

And unwilling to watch him burn away an immortal life, I run into the hotel to go find Wendy.

Story of my life.

Chapter Text

I didn't realize just how much my run in with the suicidal vampire had affected me until I'd come home, headed straight for the bathroom only to find my cutting razor completely MIA.  Apparently, I'd dropped it on the roof during my angry soliloquy, so I contented myself by curling up on the couch in a sweatpants and a tank top with a pint of Belgian chocolate Haagen Dazs ice cream and re-runs of Sex in the City while my black cat, Anubis, curled up on my lap and his crazy ginger counterpart, Mufasa, watched from the opposite end of the couch.  There I'd stayed for much of the day drifting in and out of a fitful sleep, wondering in my moments of delirium when I could expect the side affects of my terminal leukemia to begin rearing it's ugly head again.

Over the last few months, I'd put up with the throwing up from the chemo (my thick, black curls had remained stubbornly rooted in my scalp, not that I'm complaining) and the uncomfortable feeling like my insides had been burned raw by the radiation.  I'd been groggy and tired, fighting the side effects of medication after medication with each and every surgery I'd been given in the hopes of saving me.  It seems, looking back, that the treatment had put more stress on my body than the cancer.  At least before I'd only gotten weak, unexplainable bruises, and the occasional throwing up of blood; I find myself, oddly looking forward to going back to those days, which, I suppose, is a true testament to how fucked up I really am and brings meaning to the term 'a rock and a hard place'.  I just wondered where death fit in to my acceptance of side effects.  Was it with the rock or the hard place?

Joey Garnett smiles at me when I enter Sound Bites, the music store that I've worked at since I escaped from my mother's grasp and begun my young adult life.  Joey is the co-owner along with his sister Gina, a one-year-old vampire who apparently left running the business up to Joey when she'd gone to live in Tennessee with the vampire who'd turned her.  Both him and Gina look like they stepped straight out of a Motley Crue video, covered head to toe in tattoos and piercings.  Joey had a baby face decorated with a nose ring, angel bite piercings, and a bar through his eyebrow while he'd dyed his short hair deep black and spiked it up mercilessly.  Despite looking like he could kick ass, he's possibly the sweetest person I've ever met and plays base guitar in a band called Cryptic.

"Hey, Lane, how's it hanging?"  Joey asks as I walk into the store.

I shrug, "Good enough, I guess."  I stow my duffel bag containing my clothes for Hotel Camilla under the counter as I tie my wayward curls up into a high ponytail, blowing a stray strand out of my eyes.  Sound Bites has a ridiculously relaxed dress code; I wear practically the same thing to work everyday: skinny jeans, Converse, and a baggy tank top with a bitchy phrase on it.  My phrase of the day just happens to be: Come to the Dark Side, We Have Cookies.

"Bad night?"  Joey asks sympathetically.

"Bad morning," I correct.  "I met a suicidal, 2000 year old vamp."

Joey raises an eyebrow curiously, "Really?  Did he kill himself?"

"I don't know," I roll my eyes at his morbid fascination.  "I didn't exactly want to stay and watch him burst into flames or whatever."  I bite my tongue before I finish with 'since I'm going to die soon too'.  Joey is one of the few people that knows about my cancer; what he doesn't know is how bad it is, which is something I never intend to tell him.

"Ajax will freak when he hears this."

I snort, "No doubt.  Ajax is a freak."

Ajax is a seventy-five-year-old rocker vamp that plays rhythm guitar in Cryptic.  He's also, coincidentally, Joey's roommate and Gina's vampire brother, oddly enough.  As much as I love Ajax, it's hard not to be creeped out around him, of his two obsessions there's music (not so creepy, right?) but then there's his weird obsession with death in all its forms, a hobby that the show 1000 ways to die only enforces.

"I hear you, chica," a familiar voice comments, and I whirl around to see Javier Rodriguez saunter in the room with his boyfriend, Tristan, in tow.  I smile a Javier who walks behind the register and kisses my cheek affectionately.  I know both men well; Javi has been one of my closest friends since I started working at Sound Bites, and we'd been picking up shifts together ever since.  His white-collar, clean cut boyfriend, Tristan, on the other hand has been my best friend far longer; we've known each other nearly two years since we'd train at the same dance school since I'd moved to Texas with my mother, then went on to be in the same dance company.  We'd been partners that had done amazing work together, according to our peers and instructors, but we'd parted ways when I'd quit company.  At first, I'd tried to avoid him but stopped when he'd popped up at work, forcing me to talk to him.  That kind of brotherly love and devotion's hard to ignore.  "Why are we talking about the blood sucker?"  Javier had nothing personal against vampires, he just didn't believe in political correctness; in fact, Javi and Ajax had founded Cryptic in the back of the store where the small performance area was set up during a local screamo concert.

Tristan leans over the counter and gives me a hug, whispering in my ear, "What did the doctor say?"

I pause, wishing he hadn't asked, but pull back and force a smile.  " know, same old, same old," I lie dismissively, and Tristan frowns but doesn't push.

"Because Lanie, here, met a vamp."

Javi snorts, "Because I'm sure that never happens working a vampire hotel and all."

I punch Javi lightly in the stomach, "Don't be an ass, Javi.  This particular vamp was a scarring experience."

"Why?  Did he try to break your chastity belt?"

"He killed himself," I say flatly.

Javi's jovial expression falters, "You're shitting me."

"No, I'm not."  I reply in a monotone voice.

"That's fucked up," Tristan says.  "What did you do?"

    "Yelled at him," I admit, flushing when they all look at me incredulously.

    "Dios mio, Melanie," Javier says, using my full name since he's so appalled.

    Tristan shakes his head, "What were you thinking, Lanie?  When a man's at the end of his rope to the point where he's ready to pop himself off, we don't try to talk him down from the ledge by screaming at him and ranting about what a moron he is."

    "I didn't rant about what a moron he was!"  I snap hotly while Tristan gives me and 'are you serious' look.  I sigh, looking away, "It was just...implied."  They groan in unison, "What?  I don't have a high opinion for suicidal people."

    "Since when did you even care?"  Joey asks.

    I shrug and look down at my fingers, "Since I saw one basically tell everyone he cares about that he didn't give a shit about their feelings as long as he felt peaceful."

    "Melanie Rose Hawthorne, that does not give you the right to tell a suicidal being that he's a moron," Tristan chastises.

    "And, Tristan Timothy Patrick, his exasperation of life doesn't give him the right to end his.  That's not right, Tris.  I've had to fight every minute just to have one more day; what right does he had to take that away?"  I ask him quietly, looking into his eyes pleadingly.  And Tristan bows his head, lifting my hand to kiss the back of it tenderly, obviously understanding my meaning even if he didn't agree with my actions.  That's why I love Tris like a brother.

    Joey clears his throat, "Why are we still talking about this?  Did you really get a new tat?"

    I laugh at his blatant attempt to change the subject.  "Wouldn't you like to know?"

    "Very much, yes," Joey comments.

    Tristan scoffs, "Where have you been.  She's had the damn thing for weeks."

    "Well, let's see it then, Lanie.  I wanna see where those paychecks I sign are going."

    I grin as I look between my three close friends wondering what I'd do without them.  They may not be able to be there for me the way I needed them to be, half because they're so immature and half because I don't really trust anyone enough to open up that much, but they always could find a way to make me laugh, even on my first week of chemo when I'd been confined to a hospital bed clutching a wastebin to my chest.  Sometimes, you just have to laugh so you don't cry.

    Tattoos weren't an obsession or a hobby for me, more like documentation, a diary of sorts of important bits and pieces of my life.  The first I'd ever gotten had been a giant cross on my back, the same cross that had hung in my grandmother's house for most of her life.  The second is lyrics to my favorite song by Pierce the Veil with lyrics that speak to something inside of me that fights for life every damn day.  The third had been a pair on my feet, a koi fish on one foot and a dragon on the other symbolizing my transformation from a child to an adult.  The fourth had been a tiny cancer zodiac sign on my finger to always remind me of that part of my life.  The newest is a grim reaper on my wrist.  I'd gotten it nearly a week ago when I'd been sure my cancer had gone to always be reminded that I'd beaten death.  Now, all it serves as is a reminder that death is waiting for me, not exactly a pleasant sentiment.

    "Interesting...?" Javi begins, unsure.

    "I was thinking unsettling," Tristan remarks offhandedly, not peering at the tattoo like Joey and Javier.

    "Well I think it's bitchin', Lanie."

    I roll my eyes at Joey but smile, "That's so bitchin', Joey, that you think it's bitchin'."

    "You mocking me, girl?"  Joey asks while I giggle, shaking my head.

    Tristan rolls his eyes at our antics, "I've got to go to practice.  Later, Joey, Javi," he says, leaning over to give his boyfriend a peck before turning to me.  "Lanie, me and you drinks tonight?"

    "No can do.  I'm working Hotel Camilla again."  I confess.

    "Call me when?"

    "Sure Tris," I smile at his persistence, shaking my head.  "Have fun at practice!"

    "Have fun at work!  Try not to harass any suicidal vamps tonight!"

    I shake my head, "No promises."  Tristan laughs before taking off down the street, and I turn back to Javi and Joey who both look amused.  I roll my eyes at them and shake my head, "Don't you all have some work to be doing?"  They laugh at me as I lean against the counter and bury my nose in Last Sacrifice, a vampire book that I'd loved before the Great Revelation, and that I'm determined to love now.

    Sounds Bites is a lucrative music store, but it's certainly unconventional.  Most customers sit around and listen to music or talk bands, reading in the aisles or writing in the back, buying only when they have to leave.  I spend half my time finishing the book and half playing the electric guitar I've had my eye on for a while but never had the money to buy.  A guitar that I now have no need or intention of buying since I really have no one in my family I'd be willing to leave it to after my death with the exception of my niece and nephew, though they can't play any instrument at all with the exception of the drums (if banging on pots and pans counts as 'playing an instrument').  Javi and Joey flit around the story, talking music and selling products in between writing and a little impromptu band partial band practice.  I simply man the cash register and stock the shelves, two mindless jobs I don't mind doing.

    My job at the Hotel Camilla is a whole other ball game.  Between ending my shift at Sounds Bites and starting 'day shift' (for vampires, mind you), I change from my comfortable clothes into the ugly polyester uniform that all the maids at the Hotel Camilla wear.  I guess it's not as bad of a uniform as it could be, but it's certainly uncomfortable and an eyesore, but I always break the dress code and wear my converse instead of the black 'shoes' we're supposed to wear.  I grab a large coffee on my way, hoping it's enough to get me through the entire shift since I've gotten a grand total of maybe eight hours sleep the whole week given my busy schedule, and a slice of a crumb cake that qualifies as a dinner for me.

    Janice, my favorite coworker, waves to me as I waltz into the employee room while twisting my hair up into a bun.  She's my partner in crime during work since she talks even less about her personal life than I do and enjoys keeping her mind occupied on our mindless tasks by playing games or making up scenarios about the people whose rooms we're cleaning (she wants to be a novelist someday).  The best part about Janice, though, is that she know everybody and knows all the gossip.

    "There's a telepath in the hotel," she says by way of introduction.

    I pause and look over my shoulder at her, "Really?"

    "For reals; actually, I hear there's two."

    "I don't believe that," I shake my head doubtfully.  I mean, vampires are one thing but telepaths?  Let alone two are just a little too far out of my comfort zone.

    "Believe it," Janice comments, "because I heard from Bernice who works in the kitchen who heard it from Jack-you know the guy at the front desk-that one of the telepaths is Barry."

    "The bellboy?"  I ask in shock before really thinking it over.  "Wouldn't surprise me," I say after a few minutes.

    "I know.  And it would totally explain how he managed to answer Peter that yes he had brought the bags up to room 210 and no they hadn't arrived with a pink Chanel duffel bag before the words even left that man's mouth.  He's a weird dude," Janice comments knowingly, and I laugh as we both maneuver our cart out into the hallway where vampires and humans come and go at an alarming rate.

    The hotel's always fairly busy but I've never seen so many people in it, especially moving about at such a rapid pace.  Why are they all still here?  Basically vampires stay at hotel Camilla during the day so they can visit their friends in Dallas-which appears to be some kind of on-the-rise vampire haven-during the day.  It makes no sense people are still wandering around this time of day.  I look at Janice as we knock on the first door before entering the room when we receive no reply.  "Any reason there are so many vamps milling about?"

    Janice looks shocked, "You didn't hear?"

    "Hear what?"  I ask, confused.

    "Jesus, girl, you need to get out more.  Read the paper, watch the news, something."  I give her a dark look, and she laughs before continuing.  "Apparently that crazy reverend from that psycho church/cult working out of Dallas-"

    "-Steve Newlin and the Fellowship of the Sun," I cut in giving her a pointed look, which she ignores.

    "Yeah, anyway, he sent some kind of crazy suicide bomber to blow up some vamp's house.  Some people died, and a bunch of vamps came here because it's safe and has better security, I guess."  Janice shrugs before shaking her head, "Those people are all kinds of coo-coo bananas."

I laugh and shake my head, "Weren't you raised in the Fellowship?"

"Hey now," Janice cuts in shaking her head, "I wasn't raised in the Fellowship. I was raised in Reverend Newlin senior's church before the Great Revelation.  You know, back before he got eaten by a bunch of vamps and the whole congregation went nutty."

    "That's an accusation, not a fact," I say.

    Janice rolls her eyes, "Keep it up, missy, you're starting to sound like Nan Flanagan."

    I scowl, "God forbide."  I choke out while Janice grins and stifles laughter; my eyes widen just thinking about it, "That...woman is a piece of fucking work."  I tell Janice as we pull the cart out into the hallway.  "I mean, she's so prime and proper on tv, but there's just something about her that screams 'I'm a scary ass bitch that can-and will-tear your throat out'.  Let me tell you, Janice, I would not want to find myself alone with Nan Flanagan in a dark alley.  She could tear out my throat in seconds then sell to the public that I was a threat to her life...and they'd believe her!"

    Janice shakes her head, "Don't you think that's a little bit extreme?"

    "No," I say seriously.  "I don't."

    "That seems fairly judgmental," I hear from behind me, and Janice freezes, her back straightening and her face becoming bone white.

    Aw shit, only I could be caught bad mouthing a famous vampire in a vampire hotel during work.  Please, please, please, don't get me fired.  I plaster on a fake smile and whirl around to see the boy from the roof standing behind me in yet another white cotton outfit.  I do wonder if he buys them in bulk.  Still, I feel a sense of relief looking at him alive.  Who knew my little pep talk had worked?  Certainly not me.  I'm still too angry at his behavior, though to care about decorum, and I cross my arms over my chest and raise an eyebrow at him, "Seriously?  You're going to lecture me about being too judgmental Mr. Vampires-Don't-Belong-Here."

    "How long had you been up on the roof?"  He asks curiously.

    "Longer than you," I snap.

    "You're so angry about what happened."

    "Is there a question in there?"

    "It's simply an observation."

    "Great, can I get back to work now?"

    "Lanie," Janice hisses at me, and I sigh, shooting her a leave-it-alone look.

    "You work here," it's not a question.

    I roll my eyes, "Obviously.  Do you want something?"

    "Patience," he says to me, and I narrow my eyes at him.

    "Alors putain gênant," I say to myself in French while amusement flickers in the back of his eyes.

    "I apologize," he says sincerely, "for annoying you and holding up your work."

    "Yet you're still here," I note.

    He nods, "You are très intéressant."

    I frown at his use at French, but I'm not surprised.  When you live for almost 2000 years, I'm sure having a grasp of languages is pretty damn common.  It's not like you don't have the time to learn.  "Why, because I'm the only one who can call you on your bullshit?"

    "Because your so passionate about living, and yet you seem to have no consideration for your own life."

    "Excuse me?"  I snap at him, appalled, "Who do you think you are, because if I remember correctly you tried to kill yourself.  How are you seriously going to stand there and tell me I have no consideration for my own life?"

    The boy opened his hand to reveal the razor blade I'd lost this morning, and my eyes fix on it while I reach for it automatically.  The boy closes his fist and pulls the razor out of my reach.  "You are willing to spill your own blood for so little cause, but you're so unwilling to let me meet the sun."

    "You don't know the first thing about me," I hiss at him angrily.

    "You don't know anything about me," he says in reply, his tone clearly holds a challenge.  It's more than obvious what he's saying: I don't know anything about him yet still felt the need to call him out about his impending suicide attempt but yet he can't berate me about cutting myself?  No, they're two totally different things in my opinion.

    "It's just blood," I whisper.  "It's just a little cut, that's all. It makes me feel...better."  Maybe not, but it does help me get my mind off of the other problems in life that hurt me.

    "Blood, to a vampire, is life.  Blood is sacred," the boy tells me, and I remain silent.  "I'll let you get back to work, Lanie," but this conversation isn't over.  The words aren't spoken but they don't need to be, his intentions are clear.

    "My name is Melanie," I say with attitude, crossing my arms over my chest, "only my friends call me Lanie."

    The boy smiles slightly, "A bientot, Melanie.  Je suis Godric." And on that note, he is gone, and I'm in trouble.

Chapter Text

"He's alive," I say as I plop down into my chair in the performance area of Sound Bites.  Ajax, Joey, and Javier all look up at me with raised eyebrows.  I take another gulp of my mocha frappuchino wishing that I wasn't such a lightweight so I could drown myself in liquor before finishing with, "Suicidal vamp...he's alive."

    They all look shocked before Javier says, "Who knew that you're...inspiring words of wisdom could actually work?"

    "Not me," Ajax says, shaking his head.  I frown at him and kick his shin, which only ends up hurting me.  Ajax, Joey's roommate, had been turned in 1983 when he was twenty-three and 364 days old, a fact that he never failed to bitch about.  He'd been turned hours before his twenty-fourth birthday, and-being the good friends we are-we never let him live it down.  He never really let the 80s if his mullet and studded black leather ensembles were any real hint; he reminds me of a cross between Stacee Jaxx and Lonny from Rock of Ages; it certainly doesn't help that he plays guitar in a rock band.  "Generally, bitching at people doesn't make them listen to you."

    I scowl, "Yeah, well, this vamp is weird.  Says he doesn't think like a vamp anymore.  Says that he's tired of living."

    "He seems to say a lot of things," Javi comments.

    "I don't know.  He's one of those people, you know, the ones who don't seem to volunteer much unless it's like super-duper important."

    "Then why didn't he kill himself?"  Joey points out, "If he means what he says?"

    I roll my eyes, "I don't know."

    "Wait just a second, how do you even know he's alive?  I thought you left before he became a human-ish bonfire?"  Javier inquires.

    Gulping down another helping of my frap, I focus my gaze at the punk rock band setting up on the small stage in front of me, "I saw him."

    "At work last night?"  Joey asks.

    "Uh-huh," I nod.

    "Holy shit," says Javi.

    "He said that I was being judgmental because of my feelings that Nan Flanagan is a scary son-of-a-bitch," I shake my head.

    "That's not judgmental...that's a fact."  Ajax comments, shaking his head.  "That woman is an evil bitch, and every vampire on earth knows it; it's about damn time humans started to notice too.  She's completely heartless.  My maker hates her."

    The word maker strikes me as I remember what the boy-Godric-had said to the blond man a few days ago.  "What is that, Ajax, a maker?"

    Ajax looks at me, "The vampire that turned me into a vampire; we call them makers."

    "Are they all so bossy?"

    "What are you talking about, Lanie?  I feel like I'm missing half of the conversation, yet I've been sitting here longer."

    I hesitate, wondering how much I should tell them all about what happened on the roof.  I may have told them the general run down, but I'd never offered a play-by-play of what exactly happened.  "On the roof," I begin, "the vamp said to this other vamp that he ordered him-as his maker-to leave him.  So this vamp just did what he said, no questions.  I mean, you could tell he didn't want to, but he did."

    Ajax nods thoughtfully, "I mean, I don't actually think I'm supposed to share with the class."

    "Like we're going to run off and tell the Fellowship?"  Joey snorts while Ajax smiles at him and shrugs.

    "Exactly, makers and their progeny-the people the turn-have, like, a really intense relationship.  Progeny are really loyal to their makers and usually have a compulsion to listen to their makers and follow their orders.  I mean, they can't even be separated for a while after becoming a vampire because progeny feel so emotionally attached to their makers."  Ajax confesses, "I was practically attached at the hip to mine; if we split even for a few hours I felt antsy and anxious, and I still listen to him without question.  He calls, I come."

    "Oh," I say, nodding my head.

    Joey looks interested, "So that's why my dedicated, deeply rooted Dallas girl sister up and split after she got turned."

    Nodding, Ajax takes a sip of his TruBlood, "Of course.  She can't be without her maker.  She's too young, and, regardless, she probably doesn't want to be.  I mean I've been a vampire thirty years, and I still feel the pull.  I was probably too young to separate, though.  Most stay for a little over fifty years at least."

    "So, are you going to see suicidal vamp at work again?"  Javi asks.

    I frown, "Probably, he found out about my cutting and seems to think it's his fucking problem.  It's not.  I'm hoping he'll be out of town by my next shift."

    "Which is when?"  Ajax asks.

    I sigh, "Tomorrow night."

    "Right," Ajax rolls his eyes, "because everyone vacations for three days at a time.  And everyone travels to Dallas to commit suicide on the roof of the Hotel Camilla.  Be serious, Lanie.  He probably lives here."

    "So do you, but you're not staying at the Hotel Camilla. Why would someone who lives here stay in a hotel?"  I reply.

    The boys groan, "Tell me you're not that out of touch."

    Ajax shakes his head, "The bombing, Lanie!  That was the sheriff's house."

    "Sheriff?"  Joey asks with the same confusion in his voice that was on both Javi and my faces.

    He shakes his head, "Never mind about the sheriff thing, but the point is, vampires have been feeling unsafe after the sheriff got bombed and went to the Hotel Camilla for safety reasons-as per order of the sheriff.  I stay here because my roommate's a human not a bunch of vamps.  To increase maximum hurt on the vampire community, no one would bomb my apartment."

    "Whatever," I groan dropping my head onto my hands, "I hate you guys.  Thanks for making me feel better."

    "Your welcome," they said together, smugly.

    "Do any of you want to pick up my shift tomorrow night?  I do not want to see Godric?"

    Joey shakes his head, and Javi laughs while Ajax looks dumstruck.  "Godric?"

    "Yes, Ajax, suicidal vamp's name is Godric.  Why do you look like you've just seen a ghost?"

    "Godric is the sheriff," Ajax says.

    "That would mean more if we knew what it meant."

    "I've heard rumors," Ajax continues, seeming to mostly be speaking to himself, "but I thought they were just rumors."

    "Um...Aj?"  Joey asks hesitantly, touching the vampire's arm to get his attention.

    Ajax startles, "Sorry.  The sheriff is like the vampire mayor, and Godric is...infamous."

    "Sounds bad," Javi says.  "Maybe you saved a serial killer."

    Wouldn't be surprised with my luck.  Ajax shakes his head, "No...well, not anymore.  The last two hundred or so years, he's been more like vampire Ghandi than anything else.  Doesn't allow people to kill humans, doesn't drink blood all that often and even left often straight from the source, and he's ridiculously well-known.  I guess it's hard not to be, though, when you're one of the oldest vampires in the new world."

    We all blink at Ajax, "For real?"

    Ajax nods, "He's been sheriff of the Area 9," we frown while Ajax smiles, "Dallas, basically, for at least the last hundred years.  A few weeks ago, though, he went MIA, completely off the grid.  Everyone in Dallas went frantic, even called in his progeny, the one you probably saw, a sheriff from Louisiana and his telepath to help them find Godric.  He was taken by the Fellowship, and they were going to have him meet the sun for one of their crazy superiority rituals or something.  Godric was rescued, I guess you could call it, but he was more than capable of getting out at any time, I've heard.  People have been saying he wanted to meet the sun and turned himself over to the Fellowship."

    "Wouldn't surprise me," I shrugged.  "He told this blonde woman on the roof that he knew it was a stupid idea, but he thought it might fix everything...whatever the hell that means."

    Ajax nods, "Like I said: vampire Ghandi.  And the blonde, she was bubbly, very obviously from Louisiana, and somewhat friendly with the progeny?"  I frown and nod, "You've met Sookie Stackhouse, congrats. She's Eric Northman's telepath."

    I frown wondering what she'd managed he from my head and if she'd told anyone, "Great."

    Smirking at me, Ajax nods his head, "Anyway, everyone around was really worried about Godric, especially since he let Nan Flanagan-"

    "That undead bitch," we all say simultaneously, raising our various drinks.

    "-bitched him out of job.  Isabel, Godric's second, recently took over and Godric took the blame for everything that went down."

    We all remain quiet for a moment, thinking over those particular words.  As much as I hate Nan, I have to see her point in this, that everything is his fault.  On the one hand, Godric's search for death put everybody who went to rescue him at risk as well as several humans and could have begun a war between the Dallas vampires and the Fellowship.  On the other hand, he had been trying be some kind of sacrificial lamb to help humans and vampires coexist, misguided though it was and the suicide bomber couldn't be controlled.  Regardless, he could've saved his job if he'd argued correctly, but he hadn't which meant he either didn't want the job anymore or he was tying up loose ends before he offed himself, probably both.  Personally, he seemed far too lost and depressed to hold such an office, especially since he was so torn about vampire behavior.

    "Thank you," Ajax put his hand over mine, and I look up at him to see his eyes shining with sincerity.

    "For what?" I ask.

    "For keeping Godric've met him.  He's..." Ajax trails off looking for a suitable word before shaking his head, obviously not finding one he deemed good enough for the enigmatic former vampire sheriff.

     I nod, thinking about the vampire who, underneath his crushing cloud of regret, guilt, and depression, has an air of wisdom and knowledge along with a peacefulness that's so magnetic you want to just be near him.  It's impossible not to understand even a little what Ajax is trying to say.  I smile at Ajax and catch his hand in mine, "I get it, Aj. But trust me, I didn't exactly do it out of the goodness of my heart."

    Ajax frowns, tilting his head to the side, "Are you ok, Lanie?"

    I draw my hand back hastily and force a smile, "Of course, Ajax.  I'm just sleep deprived and haunted by dreams of a 2000 year old vampire Ghandi becoming a fiery inferno."

    Javier laughs and shakes his head at me, "Take a sleeping pill or one of those NyQuil things, they knock you right out."

    I roll my eyes, "Right, like I need more drugs."

    Joey shakes his head at us and says he's going to get another drink before leaving while Ajax smiles slightly, his eyes lingering on my wrist.  I've nearly always been cutter, and nearly always on the same wrist but my cutting has gone down to twice a week at most, unfortunately, my terminal cancer predicament has driven me over the edge.  I can feel the urge to intensify my usage, but for now, there's nothing to use since Godric confiscated my razor like I'm an errant child.  Even so, I give a benevolent smile and put my hand under the table to hide it anyway.  Once I get that damn razor back, I'll have to hide my arm a whole hell of a lot more.


"Hey, Mel, it's me...your brother, Colton...look, I just.  I'm calling about your doctors appointment, I want to make sure your good.  I know you were really confident you'd be fine and gone into remission.  Annabel and Pete miss you.  I just...look, give me a call when you get sometime, Mel.  I want to make sure you're okay.  Je t'adore, Lanie.  Call me back, later."

    I sigh as I listen to the voicemail playing in the kitchen while resting my cheek on the toilet seat, trying to steady my breathing.  Weakly, I pull myself to my feet, leaning heavily on the sink counter as I flick on the water, submerging myself under the cascade of chilly water, wiping the tears and throw up goo from my face.  I hear a meow and glance over to see Mufasa watching me intently from the couch; behind me, I see Anubis with two paws on the toilet seat staring down into the water.  I curse, shooing him away and peering inside to see the water stained red; I put a hand over my mouth, fighting the urge to cry as I flush the toilet, slamming the top closed so I can't see it anymore.  I brush my teeth profusely before grabbing my notebook before sitting down on the couch under an afghan.

      The cats, ever sensitive to my condition, curl up beside me as I crack open the notebook, leaving my guitar resting on the ground at my feet.  There are three things I absolutely love to do: take pictures, write, and listen to music.  It's an eclectic taste that I haven't been able to marry yet, but I've always had a mind to find a way, though I suppose I wouldn't now.  In my own way, my notebook has managed to marry them, it's like a personal account of my life full of words, pictures, drawings, and songs lyrics sketched haphazardly around the pages.  As I sit on the couch fighting back tears I write and write and write, not stopping until there's nothing left only to find that I'd composed a will, and a decent one at that.

     Sighing, I run my shaking fingers through my hair and look at the two cats lovingly curled up beside me.  I smile at them weakly and shake my head, "What am I gonna do with you two?"

    They look back at me impassively as I throw the blanket off of my lap, tossing the notebook onto the coffee table so I don't have to look at my final wishes for when I die again.  The cats follow me into the kitchen, sticking close by me the way they do often do when they sense something wrong with me, and I reach into the fridge and pull out leftover steak, tossing it into the microwave carelessly before glancing at the answering machine to see that there is yet another missed call.

    Who the hell is calling me this late at night?  I think to myself, though I hit the button to answer nonetheless.

    "Hello honey, it's your mother calling." I roll my eyes at my mother, Aimee Deveraux, and her sickly sweet, über cheery voice.  My mom is only thirty-eight despite having two kids eighteen years and twenty, and she's also one of the few people I've met who has never seemed to have any responsibilities.  Sure, she always worked, always put food on the table and a roof over the head, but she's also a gorgeous biracial, Cajun-French beauty who makes no secret of the fact that she can get any man she wants.  Growing up, she never seemed without company, a fact that wore on my brother and me since with each new boyfriend came a new city.  For her part, we never really left the south, but we also never had a stable man in the family, let alone a father figure.  After all, I figured out sex at eight years old when mom's boyfriend explained to me why I couldn't play with the condom they'd left on the living room floor...not awkward at all.  Mom had been great once, but when my father split to make a new family with a gorgeous young model, mom had kind of lost it and seemed ever determined to leave the man before he left her, something she hadn't done last time.

    "I need you to call me back as soon as you get this.  I realize you're a busy girl what with work and school and all that volunteering you do at the hospital, but I have some exciting news that I think everyone in this family's going to love!  Okay, I'll let you have your fun, you're only young once right?  Just make sure you call me back.  You and Colton are going to be so excited!  Au revoir, ma petite.". The line clicks off.

    "Not good," I tell the cats who seem to agree.  My mom's little surprises tend not to be exciting, but rather angering just Ike the fact that she can't even pretend to take an interest in my life considering I've never gone to college (because I was in dance company that she encouraged me to do) and I have cancer, I don't volunteer at the hospital.  I sigh, abandoning my food for sleep.  My last thought before I pass out on the couch is why I even bother having a bed if I never freaking sleep in it.

Chapter Text

Dance has never really been a ‘passion’ of mine, per se; sure, it was fun, but it didn't take long after I'd quit to realize that my life's revolving around dance had been a byproduct of my mother's subtle commentary that it would please my father.  My father, Adrian Hawthorne, is the son of a Russian ballet dancer named Svetlana Kantenka and an American businessman named Andrew Hawthorne, who'd, apparently, had quite the passion for theater.  It had been my father that had enrolled me in dance at three years old, and it had been his memory that forced me to stick with it.  Ironically enough, it was my dance career that effectively ended my father and mother's marriage; Adrian had, in fact, met his mistress-turned-wife, Katarina Lemkova, at my dance studio where she worked as an instructor part-time until her modeling gig took off.  I think that maybe I always felt that if I stuck with dance maybe my father would notice, maybe he'd love me, maybe he'd even come back, if just to say hello.

    None of those things happened.  Instead, he'd gotten married to Katarina, helped her take off with her modeling career, and started a new family of little cookie-cutter children that helped him climb the political ladder.  Now, he works as the Texas state governor never mind the fact that he and his family only settled in Texas when Katarina befriended a Texas-based on-the-rise fashion designer named Lilian Martellini who wanted to use Katarina as the face of her new campaign so Lilian could climb the ranks of the fashion world.  Yeah...that's how these things work.  That's also how Adrian Hawthorne II ends up in the same coffee store as me.  And, hey, maybe that's not his actual name, but I wouldn't know since I've never met my half-brother.  However, he's the spitting image of our father twenty years ago.

    I nearly spew my white chocolate mocha all over the barista when my eyes land on the kid, but I swallow hard, ignoring the burn as I force all the liquid down my tight throat and retreat to a table in the far back corner of the Starbucks, keeping my head down on the table.  It's like attack of the family.  In the last eighteen hours, I've gotten a summons from my mother, an attempt at an outreach from my wayward brother, and now an impromptu appearance of the son of Governor Adrian Hawthorne.  Shoot me now.  If this is how my day is going, I almost feel the need to call in sick for work at Hotel Camilla; I just don't know if I can survive anymore visits from people in my past...Godric included.

    Someone clears their throat, and I squeeze my eyes shut praying a silent prayer that I won't look up and see my half-brother before slowly gazing up into the face of the one person I didn't want to talk to.  Fuck my life.  I plaster on a smile at the thirteen year old who looks pale and nervous, clutching his small coffee in his hand, "Can I help you?"

    My half-brother hesitates, and I raise my eyebrows trying to keep my expression impassive, ", yeah, I'm Garrett.  Garrett Hawthorne."

    "Okay," I say with confusion that isn't faked.  Why is Garrett here talking to me?

    "You're Melanie, right?"

    I blink, "Alright, what the hell do you want you little punk?"  It's abrupt, it's mean, and I shouldn't be talking.  Garrett looks appalled, though whether it's because of my abrupt mood shift or calling him a punk I'm not sure.  Honestly if anyone looks like a punk, it's me.  I'm the one in my polyester uniform with a couple of tattoos showing, a nose ring, and straightened inky hair that fell to my mid-back but had been twisted up into a bun that I could practically feel falling apart.  Garrett, on the other hand, was blonde, tanned, and dressed to the nines in Ralph Lauren...story of my life.

    "Look, I'm's just...we're just..."

    "We're done," I say, suddenly feeling uncomfortable with where this conversation's going.  I toss my bag over my shoulder and push past him towards the door, immediately heading in the direction of the hotel.

    "Wait!"  I hear from behind me, and I sigh, keeping up my fast walk, trying not to draw attention to myself.  Someone grabs my elbow, and I slam to a halt, spinning around to see Garrett behind me.  He towers over my 5'3" height but still manages to look like the insecure, hesitate thirteen year old boy he actually is.  "Please, I really need to talk to you."

    "Aren't you a little young to be wandering the streets at this time of night?"  I shoot back.

    "I'm fine, but...I've just always wanted to meet you."

    "Kid, this is getting weird; I've got to go to work," I say, turning to walk away again, though this time he walks with me.

    "Look, I know this sounds weird, alright?  It's just, my father told us when we were younger that we had siblings, and I've always wanted to find you guys.  And I recently looked up my family tree on"

    "For real?"  I ask him in exasperation, throwing my hands up in the air.  Of course, I think to myself, watch technology betray me.  Curse all those background checking, family tree sites.  I'd never had any desire to be apart of my father's other family, let alone meet the children and woman he'd left my brother and I for.  Sure, I've wanted to talk to my father ask him what they had that we didn't, maybe even have him come visit us, but never the other way around.  It's too damn painful, and I've been through more than enough pain.

    "For real," the kid assures me while I sigh, "and I found you and your brother online."

    "Your point?"

    "I've always wanted to meet my sister!  Haven't you ever wanted to meet me?"

    "Isn't it past your bedtime?"  I change the subject.

    He doesn't bite.

    "You aren't the least bit curious about me?  About Annie?  about Luke?  We're young siblings."

    I pause when we reach the outside of Hotel Camilla when it strikes me that this kid found me at Starbucks like he thought I would be there.  "How did you find me, personally?  Did you look me up?"

    "Yes," Garrett confesses, and I sigh, shaking my head.

    "Look, Garrett, I don't mean to be harsh-"

    "-then don't be-"

    "-but I have a brother.  You're not my siblings, okay?  You're my half-siblings.  You're the half of my DNA that split when I was five years old, so sue me for not wanting or caring about the family he left mine for.  I don't care, okay?  I don't want to meet you.  I don't want to meet Annie.  I don't want to meet Luke.  I just don't.  Let it go.  Let me go."  Garrett frowns, seeming to think this over while I shake my head, glancing up at the darkening sky; if I don't hurry up, I'll be late for work and my boss will have my ass, but I spare Garrett one last glance.  "Do you have a ride?"

    "No but-"

    "Come on," I say, leading him into the building and over to the concierge who grins at me and says hello cheerfully.  Alex has been trying to ask me out for months, "Alex, Garrett here needs a ride home, on me."

    "I can pay," Garrett says while I wave him off, and Alex nods, calling a taxi company.

    "Later kid, be careful after dark, yeah?"  I begin walking away.

    "Wait!  What if I want to get to know you?  Melanie!"  Garrett calls as I walk away, but I shake my head and carry on, not stopping until I reach the employee room.

    Immediately, I slam my back against the wall, sliding to the floor as I resist the urge to cry, but my resistance only leads to me hyperventilating even as tears slip out of the corner of my eyes.  My hands are clamped over my mouth so that no one can hear my cross between a sob and a desperate attempt to regain oxygen for my lungs; slowly, my heart steadied, and I let my head fall back against the wall as I fought the tears threatening to spill over.  I've fought so long and so hard to control my despair; I've fought my depression and conquered my sorrow, pretending like those feelings didn't even exist for me.  I've spent years protecting myself by letting go and cutting ties with the past and the people in my past that I guess I never figured my past would come back to find me.  My brother's message had been one thing; we talk every now and then, trying to at least pretend that we're still loving siblings and not that the distance and his new filial piety had come between us.  Even my mother isn't as bad since she calls every now and then when her guilty conscience rears its ugly head and she realizes she's lonely and drove away both her children with her behavior.  But Garrett, the relic from my past, the living, breathing monument to my family's betrayal and splinter couldn't have been a more terrible way to end a terrible day.  I didn't know where to go with those feelings of hurt and anger and betrayal that warred with an almost natural urge to love and protect and know someone who shared DNA with me.  Someone whose father had told him I exist but yet knows nothing about me, not even that I'm dying because he left me to create Garrett and Annie and Luke as though I had never even been there.  Besides, even if I wanted to know Garrett-which I so don't-why would I even put forth the chance of letting him get attached to me when I'd be gone in six months.

    "Yo, Lanie, you in here?"  I hear somebody call.

    And, I take a deep breath and try to pull myself together, wiping my cheeks with my sleeve and thanking God that I chose not to wear make-up to work before getting to my feet and itching my wrist.  The need to cut, to forget rising to the surface and pressing against me.  I almost want Godric to track me down so I can get my razor back; it's the razor I've always used since I was twelve, and I've never used another it's both sentimental and necessary for me.

    "Yeah," I say calmly, "I'm here."  I walk towards the other with a smile to see Janice, Wendy, and Moira talking amicably together in their uniforms, and I give them a forced smile, "What team am I on?"

    Janice and I work together with her playing her scenario game as we work, and, unlike usual, I remain silent and stoic as we move from room to room.  I can tell that she knows there's something wrong, and when we take our break, she opens her mouth to ask, but I move quickly saying a sudden goodbye before darting out of the employee room and to the roof of the building where I curl up in the same spot, my head tilted back against the wall while my eyes remain looking up at the night sky, breathing in the cool air as I fight to control myself.

    Someone sits down beside me, and I flinch at the sudden appearance, turning my head to see Godric-pale with his short chocolate brown hair and customary white cotton ensemble-with his green eyes also raised to the sky, studying them impassively.  I take a deep breath, "I need my razor back."  He doesn't answer as he shifts his gaze from the night sky to me, and I continue.  "Please, I need it back."

    "No, you don't."  He finally says.

    "You don't understand-" I begin hastily.

    "No?"  Godric asks, "Is meeting the sun all that different?"

    I scowl at the comparison, "I'm not trying to off myself."

    "Then what do you believe you're doing?"

    Hesitating, I look at him to see that he's genuinely interested, "Distracting myself."  It's an honest answer, and not one that I've ever really shared before.  I never thought I'd be sitting on a rooftop of a vampire hotel discussing my tendencies towards self harm with vampire Ghandi.


    "Life," I reply simply.

    "I thought life was beautiful," Godric remarks wryly.

    Glaring at him, I cross my arms over my chest, "It is!  Mostly.  But sometimes it‘s not so beautiful; it has ugly parts too.  Sometimes, I don't want to remember the ugly parts, but only for a little while, I don't want to jump off the nearest building or become a human bonfire.  I just want...I don't know, to not be in my own head for a little while."

    "And cutting yourself does this for you?  Truly?"  Godric asks.

    I shrug, "It used to."

    "But not anymore," Godric says out loud.

    "Life's not as easy as it used to be," I muse.  "I haven't actually been cutting since some suicidal vampire bastard stole my razor, but I've been getting the cravings a lot more than I used to."

    "You cut every time you crave it?"  Godric looks down at me softly, "That cannot be good for you.  It cannot be healthy."

    "Leave it alone, okay!"  I snap at him, getting to my feet and crossing my arms as I stare out at the Dallas shrouded in night.  "You don't know the first thing about it.  It's only ever been a couple times a week."

    "Perhaps you should learn to ignore your cravings.  Giving in to what you crave can cause harm."  I would know, he says in unspoken words.

    I whirl around to glare at him, only to find him on his feet, looking at me, "I'm not a vampire, okay?  Just because I cut every time I feel the need to doesn't mean it's gonna kill anybody!  Who's it really gonna hurt?"

    "You," He says, calmly, taking my yelling in stride.  "It could harm you."

    "I'm careful, and I'm too cautious to hurt myself.  I want to live," I say, practically choking on the words as I whirl around to look over Dallas, blinking away tears.

    "I know," Godric agrees, running over to stand beside me.  "You're a fighter."

    I laugh humorlessly, "Yes.  That's what my grandmother always said."

    "And what would she say if she knew about this?"

    "God," I yell in exasperation.  "What the hell do you want from me?  It doesn't matter, okay?  Is that what you wanted to hear?  It's like a drug to me.  I don't care who it hurts, and I don't care that I could get hurt.  I want to cut.  And I need to cut.  Okay?  Because when my life is out of control it's all I've got, goddamn it.  Just give me back my fucking razor and leave me the hell alone!"

    "What could be so bad that you need physical pain to detract from it?"  I can tell that the question is genuine and sincere.  He doesn't say it condescendingly or with doubt like most people would.  His tone is heavy with interest and curiosity not with an undertone of 'what could be so bad in the life of an eighteen year old little girl that could force herself to desire pain and be distracted?'  It doesn't matter though, because I react like that's exactly what he'd said.

    "Are you serious?  What the hell do you really know about me?  What the hell does anybody really know about me?  You want to know what's so bad?  My dumbass brother who basically abandoned me to live with my crazy ass mother and her string of boy-toys so that he could start a family with his bitchy high school sweetheart who got knocked up on purpose and then insisted they move to Louisiana to be closer with her family, pretending like he didn't just abandon me just like our fucking father.  Then there's my mother who's so caught up in her own little world that she doesn't even remember I exist until she feels the need to share aspects of her day and great things that happen to her.  I'm the child.  She shouldn't treat me as her freaking therapist or best buddy.  She's my mother, and she only calls me to talk about her.  She can't even remember what little things about me I've told her specifically!

    "Then there's my goddamn absentee father who split when I was five with his mistress that he fucked at the dance studio where-and while-I was dancing," I shake my head, wiping furious tears from my cheeks.  "He never came back.  He never called us.  He never sent either of us a fucking birthday card, even!  That asshole told us it's was for the best, that he'd always be there for us because he was our father, you know?  But I never saw him again, but he told his fucking cookie-cutter, second family about us, and his son-my half brother-tracked me down and wants a relationship with me!  How the fuck do I even begin to deal with this?  How do I look at him and not see the living, breathing reason my father abandoned me and basically splintered my whole life, basically forced me to wave goodbye to my childhood."  I force myself to breath and let a hand rest on the hollow between my shoulder and my neck, rubbing back and forth as it shook, "I feel like I'm drowning, okay?  I'm too goddamned young to have to be a fucking grown-up all the time."

    Godric moves in front of me and places a hand on my shoulder, and I wipe the tears from my eyes again before looking up and meeting his eyes,  "It's alright, child."

    I laugh quietly and wipe the tears from my eyes, "I'm not a child.  I'm eighteen, a legal adult."

    "I'm over 2000 years old; you are an infant in my eyes."  He says to me honestly.

    Shaking my head, I smile slightly as I look up at the ancient vampire, "As long as you don't like make me drink baby formula or try to change my diaper, I'm cool with that."

    Godric remains silent for a moment before saying, "I've never changed a diaper."

    It's such an outrageous statement that I pause for a moment before barking out a laugh.  "You're two thousand years old and you've never changed a diaper?  That's just...sad," I manage to say before I continue to laugh, tears coming from my eyes.

    "Diapers weren't around when I was human, anyway," Godric says.

    I grin and wipe the tears from my eyes, "What?  No Pampers in like 8 B.C.?  Curse my fifth my grade teacher, that bitch lied to me."  Godric's lips twitch, and I pause before tilting my head at him, "You can smile, you know.  I won't tell anybody."

    This time he does smile as I sigh and adjust my bun, putting my hands in my pocket, knowing I need to get back to work.  He tilts his head and studies me, "How do you feel?"

    I take a deep breath and look at him before smiling, "Better."

    Godric nods, "I am not giving you the razor."

    "Come on!"  I whine while Godric shakes his head.

    "You wouldn't let me meet the sun, I won't let you cut."

    "Not the same thing!"  I argue.  Godric just looks at me, and I sigh in exasperation, "What are you going to do?  Walk outside and go up in flames if I disagree and cut myself?"  Godric says nothing, continuing to look at me with amusement flickering in the back of his eyes, and I meet them, really thinking about this.  I want to call his bluff, but a few conversations with a stranger on life doesn't automatically and permanently alter your perspective on life just like how just because he managed to drive away my immediate desire to cut didn't mean it wouldn't come back.  Maybe three days-or nights, whatever-ago, I might have shrugged my shoulders, demanded he give me back my razor, and called it a day, but now, after talking to him and talking to Ajax and feeling like I dropped fifty pounds of stress just by having him provoke me into yelling at him, it isn't something I want to risk.  I sigh and nod, still looking into Godric's emerald green eyes, "Fine, deal, whatever Godric."

    Satisfaction flickers through Godric's eyes and he smiles, "I'll see you tomorrow?"

    I shake my head, "I work here two days on, two days off.  I switched shifts with a friend so I could go to a concert tomorrow night at the other place where I work."  Godric raises his eyebrows, clearly wanting to know, so I continue, "Sound Bites."  He seems amused, and I nod, fighting a smile, "I know, I know.  Regardless, it's this music supply store/record store/garage band-esque performance space."

    Godric blinks, "That's..."

    He trails off, obviously unsure of what to say about my explanation of the store, and I give him a cheeky grin, "Again, I know, but it's one of my favorite places in the whole world."  Godric's lips twitch again, and I shake my head, "I'll see y-be here," I change my words quickly, "the night after tomorrow."  Godric nods thoughtfully, turning to look out over Dallas, and I pause on the top of the staircase before turning to study him, "Don't stay out here too long.  We have a pact, remember?"

    I smile at him, and he glances over his shoulder at me and smiles back.  "I'll remember, Lanie," he replies, and I grin, darting down the stairs and back to work.

Chapter Text

Cryptic plays once a week on the little stage in the back of Sound Bites; according to Joey, they do play gigs elsewhere, but I've never heard of any, though I never say anything about that.  Wishful thinking isn't dangerous since they don't rely on royalties to survive, then I may have to step in and give a reality check.  For a local band, they often get a ridiculously large turnout with a large portion of the Dallas teenage population crawling out of their houses at seven o'clock at night to congregate in the back of the store and watch Cryptic-and whatever other acts they've booked-play for two or three hours straight.  As a teenager myself, you'd think I'd like the atmosphere, but usually I spend the time in the very back of the room, propped up on the makeshift bar/countertop that functioned as a room divider during the day drinking a cherry and coke Slushie from the gas station down the road while reading my book of the week until Cryptic starts playing.

    This week is no different as I prop myself up on the counter with one leg dangling off, Slushie in hand, and Wuthering Heights spread open across my lap.  I dress pretty tame compared to most of the other people who come to see the shows who dress like they've come looking for company to bring home at the end of the night.  Me?  I'm nearly completely covered in a Cryptic band tank top, black shorts, and my usual pair of firetruck red Converse with my straightened hair back in a high ponytail and a pair of lens-less glasses on.  The dull roar of the crowd echoes through the room while the first band sets up when suddenly I hear the door to the store open (which is unusual given that most of the regulars have already turned out) and whirl around, peering across the store to see someone walk in.

    My first thought is to dismiss the kid whose face I can't see.  He's dressed in jeans and a dark, fitted t-shirt, which isn't exactly unusual for this particular crowd.  However, what stops me is his milky skin, close-cropped brown hair, and the strange half-circle shaped tattoo peeking out of the v-neck of his shirt.  No fucking way.  I raise an eyebrow as I see him, "They let you out for good behavior?"

    Godric shakes his head, moving shockingly quickly and appearing by my side to sit on the stool beside me, looking up at me with amusement.  "I'm a 2000 year old vampire.  I cannot be contained."

    I shrug, "A suicidal 2000 year old vampire; if I was your friend, I wouldn't let you out of my sight for at least the next hundred and fifty years."

    "You think surveillance would stop me?"

    "Hey, we have pact," I shoot at him.

    Godric smiles slightly and inclines his head, "We do."

    I give him a small smile and hop off of the counter, "You want a drink."  He hesitates and frowns at me, "Yes, we have TruBlood; the owner's roommate's a vamp, so is the co-owner."  He raises his eyebrow at me, and I shrug, grinning, "The owner's sister got turned recently by his roommate's maker...or something like that.  I didn't really ask for too many details," I shrug, "I don't really want to know."

    We walk around the counter and open the small mini-fridge tucked underneath stocked with TruBloods of every kind due to Gina and Ajax's varied taste in blood...ew.  I look up at him, trying not to grimace, "Do you-like-have preference."  Godric's lips twitch as he shakes his head, and I sigh but grab a bottle out of the fridge and putting it the microwave right beside the mini-fridge and heating it up just slightly like the way Ajax taught me to do.  I wonder when the hell the last time Godric actually, truly smiled, because he seems to make a conscious effort not to smile.  It's a little depressing.  When the microwave beeps, I hand him the warm liquid and try not to grimace.  I have nothing against vampires, obviously, but that doesn't mean I'm not seriously grossed out by the blood drinking, synthetic or not.  I’m a foodie, on the one hand, but I’m also just not a fan of blood in general, probably because mine is tainted and malicious.

    I climb over the counter and sit cross-legged on the countertop while Godric moves to sit beside me, seeming amused.  "You are so comfortable around vampires, but you are so uncomfortable around blood...synthetic blood."

    I scowl and cross my arms over my chest, "Hey, you say that likes it's surprising.  I mean, obviously I'm comfortable around vampires, one of my closest friends is a vampire.  Do I think that they're all going to rip out my throat to drink my blood?  No.  Do I think it's a little creepy that you drink blood-fine, synthetic blood-like it's a fricking milkshake?  Yeah.  So sue me."  I shrug.

    "Blood makes you uncomfortable."

    "Blood grosses me out, and it's not really something I like discussing."

    "I couldn't tell," Godric comments dryly while I glare him, kicking his thigh with my foot.

    "I think you like pissing me off."

    Godric shrugs, "You talk more."

    I sigh and nod as the first band takes to the stage, and I look up at them before letting my attention drift from the Indie-rock band and back to Godric, "How did your progeny take your failed suicide attempt."

    "Eric is unhappy with me."

    "Really?"  I ask sarcastically while Godric shoots me a look, "Why would he be upset with your trying to kill yourself?  I wonder..."

    "Enough," Godric shakes his head.

    "Well, did you tell him you wouldn't try again?"



    "I don't think he believed me," Godric replies honestly while I shrug with a slight smile.

    "I'm not surprised; you aren't exactly the picture of sunshine and joy, basking in the contentment of life," he gives me a look, and I shrug, "or un-life as the case maybe.  I mean, what did you really hope to accomplish with your suicide other than ending what you feel to be a meaningless existence and achieving atonement for perceived wrongs that you have no faith can be forgiven in anything but your own death like you're some kind of sacrificial lamb?"  It's a valid question, and I see the hesitation in Godric's eyes as he thinks over his answer.

    "Peace...or the beginning of it, perhaps.  I've spent my entire existence in war and conflict, and I want peace between humans and vampires.  I thought my death might have allowed people to look past their differences and lead the way to some kind of peace."

    I blink at him, "That's so...optimistic.  And so...not very well thought out."  Godric looks at me questioningly, and I shake my head.  "Don't get me wrong, I think it's a beautiful idea, but it never would have accomplished anything.  Proving to people that vampires can change and be like humans isn't going to work for either side.  Sure, some people would have seen and understood what you were trying to do, but it would have been something left up to interpretation, you know?  Plus, radicals will always be radicals.  The suicide of a single vampire to open up the door for peace negotiations wouldn't be enough, there will always be radicals of both species who will say that you were crazy or depressed or like brainwashed by the Fellowship, and because you'd be dead, who's there to disagree?  Besides, humans will always fear vampires, especially given the AVL's clever non-disclosure and 'vampires are just like humans' route.  Lack of knowledge leads to fear. Fear leads to hate, and hate leads to the Fellowship of the Sun."  I say this mournfully while Godric smiles slightly at the ironic statement of a church turning into a hate-group, ironic but appropriate.  I shake my head and try to hold back the slight laughter at my own words, "Plus vampires are so used to living one way that it's absolutely ridiculous to expect them to care.  I mean, would you have cared about the suicide of an ancient vampire with sympathy to humans five hundred years ago?"

    Godric pauses before looking thoughtful, "I see."

    I give him a cheeky smile, "Good, you were misguided."  Godric smiles slightly at my 'duh' tone.  "I mean even your atonement idea was misguided.  Have you ever read the bible?"  Godric gives me a disbelieving look, but I cut him off before he can say anything, "What?  Just because you're 2000 years old doesn't mean you've actually read the bible; I mean, that's such a stereotype.  I mean, just because I'm a teenage girl doesn't mean I've read Twilight."  Godric looks amused while I shrug, "I have, though, but the point is that age shouldn't matter.  Besides, clearly you missed the part where it says suicide is a serious sin.  You would've gone to H-E-Double hockey sticks for sure.  You should thank me; it's in the bible."

    Godric stares me for a moment before nodding, "It is."

    "I know," I say with a dismissive shrug.  "It's also in the bible that God forgives, all you have to do is ask."  Godric just looks at me, and I give him a weak smile, getting to my point, "You know what I think?  I think you wanted to burn because you wanted punishment.  God forgave you the moment you were sorry for what you did and began to look for redemption.  It's you who can't forgive yourself, and you wanted punishment because you don't think anyone else can forgive you either."

    "You don't know what I've done-"

    "I can imagine," I tell him with a faint smile.  "But, here's the thing.  I don't think that was really you.  I think you've spent the last 2000 years running and one day you woke up to find the past never really went anywhere, and all those things you'd done to make it go away or to make yourself feel better had been absolutely meaningless.  I think, though, that you're afraid to stop running because you haven't let go so you don't think anyone else will be able to either and you'll spend the rest of your existence lonely and isolated because of past that you let out of your control."

    "I'm not alone," Godric replies.

    I give him a bland smile, "There's a difference between being lonely and being alone.  And the fact of the matter is, if you're still trying to run from your past then you are lonely, because that kind of running is a lonely, heartbreakingly depressing, singular road."

    For a moment, Godric says nothing, both of us looking ahead at the band as it finishes it's set before he finally speaks, "And what are you running from?"

    I'm not surprised he's picked up on my own problems; after all, you don't live for over two thousand years without becoming perceptive.  I smile at him slightly and shake my head, "The future." Godric looks ready to ask for more about that vague line when I cut him off, "You ready to share what you spent the last two thousand years running from?"

    Godric scowls, "No."

    I smile cheekily at him, tilting my head to the side, "Touchè." He rolls his eyes but doesn't press.  "I do have one question."

    He looks hesitant but cautiously says, "Yes?"

    "How old were you when you were turned because you look like a teenager? Just for the record."

    Godric smiles his slight I-only-lift-the-corners-of-my-mouth smile before saying, "Either sixteen or seventeen.  I didn't keep track."

    I blink at the vampire for a moment before I grin, "No shit?  I feel so old!"

    Godric shakes his head at me and smiles at me, "I can't imagine why."

    "Dude, I'm older than you!" I say excitedly.

    "No, you're not," he says in amusement.

    I kick his thigh again with my foot and shoot him a mock glare, "Buzz kill, physically, I so am."

    "By two years or so," he says somewhat defensively while I continue to grin at him, " besides, I am taller than you regardless.  You're short."

    I'm caught off guard by his playfulness, and I just look at him for a moment before I narrow my eyes at him with mock anger, "Excuse me, I'm fun-sized." Godric shakes his head while I glare playfully before bursting into a fit of giggles, picking up my Slushie and sipping it while chewing on the straw.  "I'll have you know I think it's a complete injustice that you are taller than me.  Aren't people supposed to have been like really short in Ye Olde days?"

    Godric rolls his eyes, and it's such a ludicrously teenage thing to do that it sends me into another fit of giggles that nearly have me choking on my Slushie.  He reaches over and pats my back gingerly as I try to get my breathing under control; Godric looks down at me with raised eyebrows and opens his mouth to say something when I hear "Melanie!" shout through the crowd.  My head pops up, and I frown as I peer around the room looking for the source of the sound, only to spot a towheaded, boy rushing through the crowd in khaki shorts and an Abercrombie t-shirt: Garrett.

    "Aw, Jesus," I sigh, shaking my head, "he found me."

    Godric gives me a questioning look just as Garrett comes to a halt in front of me breathing heavily and appearing disgruntled. Clearly, he is not a fan of the Moshe pit; that makes two of us.  "Look," he begins while trying to catch his breath, "Melanie-"

    "Look, Garrett, why do you keep following me?  This can't keep happening," I say, gesturing between the two of us.  "Do your parents even know where you are?". The boy doesn't respond, narrowing his eyes and looking to the stage where Cryptic has begun setting up; I exhale tightly and pinch the bridge of my nose, "Garrett!"

    "Melanie!"  Garrett responds in the same exasperated tone as me.

    "Where the hell do your parents think you are?"

    "A friend's house," he shrugs.

    "And you see nothing wrong with this?  Kid, come on, this is Dallas.  It's so not the place to be lying about your whereabouts."

    "If you're talking about the vampires, don't you think that’s a little hypocritical?"

    I glare at him so viciously that he flinches, and I feel Godric's cool hand on my arm, trying to calm me.  Taking a deep breath, I shake my head and grit my teeth to relax, "Look, Garrett, we aren't talking about me.  Why?  Because I'm eighteen, a legal adult, and not living under my parents' roof, understand?  And this isn't completely about vampires it's about rapists and muggers and gangs that could snatch you up in the middle of the night and no one would know.  Why?  Because some dumbass kid-that'd be you in this scenario-lied about where he was supposed to be!  Do you have any concept of personal safety?"

    "I'm with my sister," he says with a smug smile.  "What could be safer?"

    I snap at him in frustration, "I could be a serial killer!"

    Garrett frowns, " You're a little paranoid, Melanie, you should get that checked out."

    Groaning, I turned to look at Godric, "Do you want to drain him? Please?  I have no objection."

    "Hey!" Garrett says dramatically while Godric just looks between us, amused.  "You're pimpin' me out to a vampire?  Some sister you are."

    "I'm not your sister!  Leave me alone!"

    Garrett sighs like he's trying to explain something simple to a child that just isn't getting it while I narrow my eyes at him, hand tightening around my Slushie cup.  "Fine, half sister then, is it really that serious?"

    "I thought we'd agreed that I want nothing to do with you ,or your siblings, or your family.  Nothing.  Nada.  Nope."

    Garrett nods, "You've made that perfectly clear, but I'm not convinced.  I'm not a bad kid, okay?  I bet you'd even like me if you get to know me."

    I pause, "It's not about liking you or disliking you, that's what your not getting.  It's about me not wanting to get to know you and not wanting to be any closer to my deadbeat dad than I absolutely have to be.  Sharing Dallas is close enough, but sharing time with his DNA and spitting image is just too damn much, okay?  Try to get it through your head, little rich kid, that not everything is about you.  Now, go home."

    "I told my dad I went to find you." Garrett practically snarls at me.  I want to call bullshit on him, that he's only saying that because he's pissed at me, but there's something one his face that makes me doubt this is vindictive. The kid may be pissed at me but he’s dead serious.

    I hesitate, trying to calm my emotions, "You didn't."

    "He wants to see you.  He wants you to come over for dinner next Sunday."

    Gritting my teeth, I hop up from where I'm sitting, closing my book and tossing my drink into the trash without a second glance; the feeling to cut is so strong that I need to just get the hell away from the source of the problem. Right now, the source of the problem is Garrett and his big fat mouth.  "God," I say to him angrily, " you had no right to do that!  I don't want to see him, and he only wants to see me to save face with his new family.  I'm out," I say to Godric, shaking my head angrily before looking over at Garrett.  "Don't try to find me again, alright?  I don't want to see you.  I don't want to talk to you. And I sure as hell don't want to have dinner with your family.  The best thing you can do for both of us is go home and forget this ever happened, because I'll damn sure never be a part of your life the way you seem to want me to be.  Also just do me a solid and take a cab home, would ya?"

    Without looking back, I march out of the store, not even the slightest bit guilty that I left before seeing my best friends play.  I walk out in a huff, aware that Godric has followed and now remains beside me as I power walk through the dark Dallas streets.  "What?" I demand when we're well enough away from the club but nearly completely alone on the street; I can feel traitorous tears leaking out of my eyes as I wipe them away furiously.  I hate crying, I've always seen it as a sign of weakness, but Godric seems to be getting a whooping dose of my tears.  I guess considering he's suicidal and I'm terminal, it really doesn't matter.  We're a fucked up pair as it is.  "What do you want, now?  My life's a fucking wreck and I can't seem to stop crying, so what the hell do you need?  Can you let me have my panic attack in peace?"

    "Is this going to be an everyday occurrence?" I laugh humorlessly while Godric continues, "Yelling at me never seems to accomplish anything."

    "I know," I snap angrily, "you never fucking leave the way you're supposed to."

    Godric nods like this explanation makes some kind of sense before saying, "And you're surprised?  I've seen worse in my life that a tears from an eighteen year old girl who believes her life can't seem to go right."

    I laugh bitterly, "And you think I'm being dramatic?"

    "I think you are allowed to be upset.  Crying is not a travesty.  I wonder why you're so afraid to cry when everything in your life seems to be falling apart."  Godric hesitates for a moment, "I have."

    This stops me, and I study the vampire for a minute, "You have?  Really?"

    He nods, his expression hardening while his eyes hold a shocking about of rage, "Sometimes, crying seems like the only choice you have to keep from breaking down.  It's no shame to cry, and whoever taught you otherwise had no business teaching a child."

    Realizing that's the most I'll get from him, I nod and confess, "I hate crying."

    Godric's features relax as he nods, "I know.  I do too."

    "My dad used to say that there was no point in crying because no one cared to hear it when he was still around.  Mom said life sucked sometimes but you had to soldier on and suck it up.  They didn't want to hear it," I admit.

    "I understand," Godric says sincerely, an odd combination between guilt and a haunting sadness.

    Studying him silently, I let a smile slip over my face, "You know, I'm starting to understand why a grown man cried tears of blood at your feet and begged you not to kill yourself."

    Effectively distracted by my impromptu confession, Godric looks confused, "This is a problem for you?"

    "It might be," I say, my smile slipping off of my face.  He looks confused but I force a smile, "Let's go, we're going to see Iron Man.  I think we both need a distraction."

Chapter Text

Godric is incredible, and that is a problem.  The last three nights passed without incident, and, in every single one of them, Godric found me, and somehow got me to talk about a variety of things ranging from my opinion on vampire books (hysterical and entertaining, especially now that they proved to actually exist) to my personal hobbies, occasionally even my grandmother, which is the closest thing to discussions about my family that we ventured into.  Godric isn't exactly what I'd call a 'talker', vampire Ghandi seems to sum him up rather well since he seems to prefer listening to talking, but we find ourselves on the same page when it comes to trust, a sort of give and take.  I may spend most of the time talking, but for every bit of information I'm willing to offer, he's more than willing to respond; he's told me about all the books he's read in his numerous years of existence as well as his progeny Eric who seems to be the only member of his 'family' that he's willing to discuss.  After our ridiculously deep discussions from our first meeting, we've decided to mellow out, and without a reason to incite our deep discussions, there's really no reason to get into things like that, and I think we both prefer it that way.

    The first night that I had off from the Hotel Camilla was spent cleaning my apartment and throwing up blood in my toilet yet again.  I ignored another message from my mother and put off calling my brother, ate Chinese food, and caught up on my serious lack of sleep with, thankfully, no interruption from Garrett.  I wrote a new song before dropping off on the couch yet again after watching a Sons of Anarchy marathon.  The second night, Godric found me right before I closed up Sound Bites for the night, and we spent the next three hours walking around Dallas; I don't know what he finds so interesting about little old me, but regardless, the walk was enlightening as always with the two of us trying our hardest to peer through the smog and point out constellations, which I felt were open to interpretation.  Godric disagreed.

    After those three days of peace, I guess I should have been expecting something...exciting to happen, but I didn't because when someone knocks on my door, I call out for the person on the other side to wait a second before pinning up my hair and hurrying let my impromptu visitor in.  I pull open the door with a slight smile that immediately drops as my gaze lands on the rakish figure on the other side.

    "Colton?"  I choke out while he comes in with a smile, closing the door behind him like he owns the place.

    He doesn't.

    My brother, Colton, is what my mother always refers to as 'a looker'.  For obvious reasons, I've never really seen him that way, but I suppose-in theory-he's a good looking man of twenty years old.  Like me, my brother has very light brown skin-a gift from our Haitian grandma-as well as curly black hair that he's always kept close-cropped except for his two year phase when he was an 'artiste'.  His eyes are chocolate brown but he's lean and extremely slender, unlike me who's nearly always had an athletic build.

    Colton grins at me, wrapping me in a hug that I return gingerly, "Jesus, Lanie, how have you been?  You never called me!  How did the doctor's appointment go?"

    I blink at his rapid string of questions before I finally nod in understanding, "The doctor's appointment went fine."  It's a very vague non-answer that leaves him to decide the answer that he wants to hear.

    Nodding, Colton leaves his hands on his shoulders as he looks into my eyes, "That's great.  Why didn't you call me?  The kids have been begging me to get you to visit for ages."

    "Oh?"  I begin uncertainly and uncomfortable as he moseys further into my apartment, leaning down to pet oh-so-friendly Anubis while Mufasa watches him from the doorway to my bedroom through narrowed eyes.  Somebody loves me, I think to myself, shooting a dirty look at Anubis.  "And what are you doing here, Colton?  Is the whole family here?"

    "Of course," Colton frowns at me.  I guess it really shouldn't come as much of a surprise since his daughter is only three and his son is two, which makes me wonder just how his kids could have been ‘begging’ for me to visit.  I grimace at the knowledge that his evil wife is in town; the two of us have never gotten along, she's so...ugh.  "You don't know?  Mom called a few days ago, asked us to come down for a family dinner so that she could tell us something important."

    I shake my head, holding up my hands like I‘m warding off a bear, "Colton."

    Colton gives me a serious look, "She's our mother, Lanie."

    "I don't care," I hiss at him.  "I'm not going."

    "This is ridiculous, Lane.  I know she wasn't the best mother growing up, but she was still our mother.  She raised us-"

    "No, Colton, we raised ourselves and see how well the two of us turned out?"  Colton frowns and looks like he's about to argue when I cut him off.  "You got someone knocked up when the two of you were seventeen and will now spend the rest of your life working construction for her family in Shrevport to keep a roof over the head of your children, and I'm working two low paying jobs so that I can pay my outstanding medical bills because my career went down the toilet as soon as I got a little sick.  We've both got trust issues.  We both can't keep contact with people if we don't seen them nearly everyday-god forbide we move away.  I have abandonment issues and emotional attachment issues.  Honestly, Colton, she fucked us up.  Why would I want to go see her?"

    "Why wouldn't you, she's our mother?"

    "She's our egg donor," I reply back shortly.  "Just because we lived with her for eighteen years and just because she gave birth to us doesn't mean that she's our mother or that we owe her anything.  I have no emotional attachment to her like you seem to."  It’s a lie, but not a big one.  I’m honestly not sure how I feel about my mother; I’d idolized her through most of my child in the innocent way most kids do.  However, the older I got, the more I saw what was going on, and the more I pulled away from my mother.  I still bear the scars from that resentment stemming from neglect that she left me with.

    "God, Lanie, you're not emotionally attached to anyone!"  Colton hisses at me.

    "And you are?!"  I shout at him.

    Colton glares at me, "Of course I am!  I love my children."

    "Jesus Colton, kids don't count!  Do you tell them about yourself?  About your past and about your fears and about your beliefs?  No, Colton, you don't because we don't know how to do that!  We don't know how to be honest and allow ourselves to open up to another person because that's something your parents are supposed to teach us through example!  We never had that!"

    "Move on, Lanie, you've got to let it go."  Colton comments.

    "Like you did?"  I reply angrily, crossing my arms over my chest.

    He winces, shock transforming his face like I'd struck him.  "Don't you dare, Melanie Hawthorne, we fucking talked about this."

    I laugh bitterly and shake my head, "Right...the way everyone in this fucking family 'talks'.  One person says what they think the other should believe, doesn't care what the other person thinks, and then acts like everything's fine.  You left me with her.  You left me when I was sixteen to be alone with her and her endless string of boy-toys so that you could go raise your family beside hers.  You could have stayed here!  You were all I fucking had, and you acted just like Adrian and took off to Shrevport so that you could move to be with her family.  Did you even fucking think about me for a second?  Did you?"

    "God, Lanie, no, I didn't.  I was thinking about Jen-my pregnant wife-remember her?"

    I scoff, "How could I forget that bitch?"

    "You don't have to hate her just because we moved to Shrevport to be close to her family.  I agreed.  It's what she wanted, she thought it would be the best environment to raise her daughter," I don't miss the way that he refers to Annabel as 'her' daughter instead of 'our' daughter just reinforcing his lack of emotional attachment to another human being.

    "Fuck you, Colton.  Glad to know that I'm not enough family for you," I hiss at him.

    "It's not like that," Colton snaps at me.

    "God, Colton, you're full of shit.  You wanted something more than our broken family and was willing to throw me under the bus so that you could have it!  Don't try to play the 'we're family' card with me, asshole.  Just because you married your way into a functional family doesn't mean you get to come back and try to create one here.  You have no business sticking your nose back into my business when you left me so that you could have a made-to-order family, okay?  Leave me the hell alone, and that's not why I hate your wife, moron, I hate her on principle because Mufasa and Anubis hate her."

    I have a lot of faith in my cats ability of perception; they're very good at deciding who's worth liking and have very strong opinions on people they meet.  They hate Jen with a passion, just her one time entering the house when I'd lived with my mother had left the two of them hissing and snarling at her before darting from the room with their hair raised like they'd been electrocuted.  They were way around my brother and avoided my niece and nephew like the plague the one time they'd met them.  I've often wondered how they'd react to Godric, but I'm a little worried about introducing them to him.  I enjoy his company too much to have to end our nine day friendship because my cats don't like him.

    "It's pathetic you have more faith in your cats than you do in your own brother," Colton snaps.

    I shrug, "It's a shame you needed a cookie-cutter family more than you cared about the sister you were raised with and the only friend you ever had.  Glad we got that out of the way."

    "Your such a bitch sometimes, Lanie."

    "And you're a selfish prick, Colton."

    "Grandma would be ashamed of you."

    At the mention of my grandma, I turn around to glare at him, finally hitting my complete and total breaking point with my brother.  My grandma was the one person in my life that I told everything to and would have done anything for.  She'd been my rock and my home and my best friend, and she'd tried her damned hardest to help me become a strong person capable of love and friendship and stability.  She'd failed on that account, and I'd failed her on others.  I'm aware, but so had my brother.  My grandmother would have never allowed him to abandon me so that he could live in Shrevport to be close to Jen's family like I didn't exist.  The last thing I need is my brother breathing down my throat and trying to tell me that I'd disappointed my grandmother.  "Fuck you, Colton.  Get the hell out of my house!  Grandma would've had your ass if she'd been here and you'd left me alone with that woman and then come here demanding we do the whole family thing.  Fuck you!  Fuck you!  Fuck you!  I've got work, and you're clearly too busy being a ‘family man’ to give a shit about your sister."

    "Fine, Lanie," Colton raises his hands angrily, getting to his feet and stomping off towards the door.  "Dinner's on Friday.” He comments before storming out of my apartment.

    "I won't be there, jackass!"  I scream at him before darting to the bathroom to hurl.  With cold, mechanical movements, I wash myself up, put on my uniform, and leave the house for work.


"You're upset."

    I sigh when I hear Godric walk out onto the roof, taking his customary seat beside me on the rooftop.  "My brother showed up and pissed me off."

    Godric seems surprised, "I thought he would have waited longer before trying to convince you to be apart of his family again.  Perhaps you didn't hurt him as deeply as I originally thought."

    "Not Garrett, my blood brother," I reply tiredly, running a hand through my once again wildly curly hair.

    "Are you a vampire now?"  Godric jokes, and I elbow him.

    "Shut up," I groan in exasperation while his lips twitch in a smile.  "completely biological brother, you know what I mean."

    "The one who lives in Louisiana?"

    I blink, shocked that he remembered something I believe I only mentioned once in passing.  I've never met anyone who remembered things like that, my mother couldn't even remember that I didn't go to college even though I'd told her expressly, multiple times that I wouldn't be going because I'd gotten accepted into an exceptional dance company.  When I finally fight off my shock, I continue, "Yeah."  Godric waits silently for me to continue, and I sigh but do as he wants, "My mother basically called some kind of family meeting, and my brother grabbed his family and flew down here at a moment's notice.  He tried to convince me to go to the dinner."

    "Will you?"

    "Should I?"  I reply, and Godric gives me an intense look that makes me sigh as I lean my head back against the wall.  "I don't know.  I don't want to but-" I trail off.

    "You want to see if she's changed," Godric answers for me.

    "Is that crazy?  I mean, is it possible for anyone to change in a couple months from what they've been for nearly thirteen years?"

    Godric hesitates, "Change is possible, but you'll never know if it was possible for her unless you find out for yourself."

    "What if I'm afraid to know?  Can I really set myself up for that disappointment?"  It's not really a question for him to answer, more like something that I muse out loud.  Godric responds anyway.

    "Would it haunt you if you never had a chance to find out?"

    I exhale heavily and glare at him, "Damn you for being, right all the time, Godric."

    He smiles slightly, "Tell me about her."

    "Who my mother?"

    "Your family."

    Sighing, I nod my head and hug my knees to my chest, looking up at the sky.  "My grandmother was the rock of the family, you know?  She used to be the person who kept my mother in check and taught me and my brother valuable life lessons, but I think she died when we were too young to truly make an impression. And besides, we didn't get a chance to see her all that often since my mother's kind of spirit.  But she was the wisest person I've ever met...well until I saw Stars Wars for the first time and was introduced to Yoda, and then met this ancient vampire," I say, nudging Godric who just smiles at me and shakes his head.  "When she died, I felt like my whole world shifted and died.  She'd been the only person in my family I could really talk to, you know?  Then one day I woke up and she was just gone.  She died of lung cancer."

    Godric grasps my hand comfortingly and squeezes it while I shoot him a slight smile, "Anyway, after she died it was just my brother, mother, and me.  My mom's batshit crazy and forever a teenager, which was a huge problem growing up.  Your parents are supposed to teach you, guide you, mold you into a person-"

    "That's not always a good thing," Godric remarks knowingly.  "Sometimes you're better off learning your own lessons."

    I nod my head, "I know, but I don't think that's always your parents fault.  Sometimes they don't know any better either.  If what they teach you is what they truly believe, can they really be at fault for raising their kids a certain way?"

    "I suppose not," Godric replies thoughtfully, "but, regardless, it's the kids who need to learn to see through the right and the wrong their parents teach them."

    "But what if they can't?  What if that's all they're exposed to?"  Godric's silent, and I nod, speaking the words for him, "Then they never have a chance to learn.  I didn't.  My mom was an emotional zombie when it came to my brother and me.  She didn't like dealing with 'messy' things, and she especially considered emotions to be messy.  At the same time, she was desperate for love and acceptance.  I've never had a real relationship, and my brother doesn't really have on either; our whole life was dominated by the whims of our mother who never stayed in one place over three months and equated sex to love.  I never really had a chance to get emotionally attached to anybody, even my mother; she donates all of her attention to her boyfriend of the week, and she still does.  She uses men to alleviate her loneliness, but she doesn't quite get that her constant string boyfriends are what causes it in the first place."

    "Loneliness is a hard thing to live with.  It's worse than boredom, worse than being tired, worse than the ennui of age."  I pause and look up at him. "And sometimes, what you do when you're lonely to alleviate it has bigger consequences than intended.  Perhaps she didn't mean for you to be lost in the haze of her loneliness, but having a child and having a companion are two different things entirely."

    "What did you do?"  I ask curiously, recognizing the knowing tone of his voice.

    Godric shakes his head and looks out at the stars, swallowing hard as he does so, "I first saw Eric when I was nearly 1000 years old.  A long time to be alone but I never realized how much I minded until I came face to face with the brotherhood that the Vikings had as they fought, and while I was...different then, I was lonely.  I was wandering in Britannia, and I saw the Vikings in a nighttime raid.  Eric exceptional fighter, I'd never seen anyone fight the way he did.  I was intrigued, and I followed him when he was injured, slew his men, and asked him if he could walk with me through the centuries as a vampire.  He craved life and agreed, so I turned him."  We both remain silent for a moment before Godric speaks again, "I don't regret turning Eric, but I was in no place to be a Maker, to teach a progeny about the ways of the vampire.  He is...impulsive with no view of right and wrong, because I taught him that it didn't exist.  He has little sympathy for human life because I didn't believe we should have sympathy for any sort of life.  And he deals out death coldly, because I did as well.  The only thing he didn't take to was that blood is sacred and not to be shared so freely, which is perhaps the one lesson he should have taken away with him."

    We sit side-by-side in silence as I replay his words over in my head.  His affection for Eric the Viking is obvious as his regret for the decisions and lessons he'd made in his own life that had bred Eric's way of thinking.  I shake my head and finally speak, "It's not your fault, Godric."  He looks at me doubtfully, and I smile slightly and rephrase, "Okay, so maybe it is your fault a little, but you can hardly blame yourself.  I don't know why you were the way you were-and I'm not prying, just commenting-but whatever happened in your past to make you so twisted took years and years for you to finally see past.  And, okay, maybe the whole 'there's nothing but survival or death' lesson was a little intense and potentially problematic, but can you honestly say that if you'd been the way you are now all those years ago that you would've survived?  That Eric would've survived?"

    Godric remains silent for a moment, "We killed thousands with no remorse."

    I shrug, "That's not exactly a good thing, but it happens.  We're all victims of circumstance, Godric.  And, yeah, it might have taken you a couple thousand years to realize that being an unsympathetic monster doesn't get you anything but loneliness and emptiness, but the point is you got it.  You changed, and no, it probably wasn't the best bunch of lessons to teach Eric, but either you have to let him learn what you did in time the same way you did or try to help him learn them now since you're still here.  The fact is that you learned and that you tried."

    "Tell me about your brother," Godric abruptly changes the subject, and I sigh.

    "Colton is...ridiculous and an asshole.  He's always craved this perfect family, which shouldn't be surprising since he's two years older than me and remembers what it's like to have one.  I can’t blame him for that.  After grandma died, he was as close to a best friend as I ever had in my life; we did everything together because we were all each other had, but like my mom, he figured the best way to alleviate loneliness was through sex.  He knocked up his classmate in Louisiana senior year of high school when he was seventeen, just before mom and I moved to Texas.  My mom was exciting about having a new grandchild, and Jen, my brother's wife, wanted to keep the baby.  Jen's family are hardcore Christians so the two of them got married right after graduation when my brother and Jen turned eighteen.  They had their babies, and Jen wanted to stay close to her family so they moved to Shrevport.  My brother abandoned me, just like everybody does, so that he could have this huge, functional, made-to-order family.  The boy threw me to the fucking wolves.  I don't know, I just...I guess...I've always been alone, and I felt so betrayed when Colton abandoned me so that he could live near Jen's perfect family.  My family wasn't perfect, but why wasn't I enough for him, you know?"

    Godric's quiet for a moment, "Maybe it wasn't like that."

    "I'm pretty sure it was," I reply bitterly.

    "Maybe not.  My second progeny, Nora, I turned nearly four hundred years after Eric because I could."

    I pause and look up at him, "Where are you going with this?"

    "Sometimes family just isn't enough.  People don't realize that you can't stop being lonely just by surrounding yourself with more family.  And you and your brother who grew up with no real role model never had any way of knowing that.  Maybe he thought that he'd feel better, more loved, not as lonely if he was surrounded with people who loved him and who considered him family.  And, sure, for a time, he probably did, but knowing that you have people who love you sometimes isn't enough."

    I frown at Godric, "You're too goddamn smart, I really hate you."

    "You don't hate me."

    I grimace, "Nobody seems to hate you.  In fact, my friend Ajax-who hates, like, everybody-adores you.  He says your like vampire Ghandi.  It's kind of annoying."

    Godric shrugs, "I'm not nearly as peaceful as Ghandi.  I'm still a vampire."

    "Are you sure?  I thought you 'no longer think like a vampire'.  Should I be concerned for my safety?"

    Smiling, Godric shakes his head, "I don't believe Ghandi had a history of slaughtering innocent humans with no sympathy."

    "Jesus, let it go," I roll my eyes in exasperation.

    "Will you go to dinner with your mother and brother?"

    Immediately, I open my mouth to say no before closing it slowly and crossing my arms over my chest to glare up at Godric who rises to his feet then crouches in front of me.  "You jackass, you've somehow managed to convince me without really trying.  Did I say that I hate you?"

    "There's no need to be so hostile," Godric teases, taking my hands and helping me to my feet.  I move to pull my hands back immediately, knowing that he's uncomfortable being touched when he holds my hands more tightly, pulling forward to study them.  I shift uncomfortably, trying to pull them back when Godric tightens his hold and peers down at my arm.  "What happened?"

    "What do you mean?"  I ask him curiously before looking down to see a massive bruises dominating my forearm; I swallow back tears, knowing exactly what the bruise means.  My cancer's far more aggressive than my oncologist had originally anticipated.  I'd be dead in three months tops, not six.  I fake a smile, shaking my head, "What?  I slammed my arm against the cart when I started work today.  It's so not that big of a deal, Godric."  He frowns at me for a moment, clearly trying to tell if I'm lying before letting go of me hesitantly, "Chill.  I'm a klutz.  It's a bruise; it's not like I'm dying."

Chapter Text

I feel like I'm going to throw up and not because my body's killing me from the inside out.

    Because I have to go visit my mom.

    Unsure of how formal to go, I decide on a pair of black leggings, a threadbare sweater dress, and a pair of stiletto boots.  I even went so far as to tame my mass of curls by running my flatiron through it (multiple times), throwing on a little makeup, and taking out the stud in my nose.  The things I do for my mother.

    My mom, Aimee, lives in a one story ranch house just outside of the city limits with her current boy-toy of nearly two years now, Henry.  Henry thinks he’s a cowboy, but, in fact, he's just a breeder of fine barrel horses that's never actually worked a ranch in his life (he has stable hands for that).  He seems to have personality of a wet mop and has only ever spoke to me nearly three times in the year that I lived with him and mom.  He adores her and treats her like she's the center of his Dallas cowboy universe, which, naturally, suits her just fine and makes them get along famously, as always.  He's also nearly thirteen years younger than her, but we pretend like she's not robbing the cradle with her cougar-like tendencies.  After all, can she really be a cougar if the woman still honestly thinks she's in her mid-to-late twenties?

    Henry opens the door with his hound dog, Butch, at his feet dressed in blue jeans, cowboy boots, and with a Stenson on his head, but the pristine condition of the clothes makes me roll my eyes.  If he was really out working like he claimed you'd think he'd get at least one spec of dust on him, right?  He leads me through the foyer and down the hallway, pointing out the numerous renovations they'd made to the house that my mom's been bitching about wanting since they'd moved in together my senior year of high school.  We finally stop when we reach the newly renovated dining room complete with a rustic chandelier, a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the backyard, and featuring a massive mahogany table where my brother and his family are already seated.

    Jen shoots me a bland smile as I enter the room from where she sits poised and proud beside my brother.  Jen looks like the picture of a perfect Christian daughter in a modest navy dress, a cream colored cardigan, and a strand of pearls around her neck with her ash brown hair tied up in a bun.  Me?  I'm wearing a threadbare oversized, long-sleeved sweater dress and a massive ring to cover up the tattoos on my fingers.

    "Auntie Lanie!"  Annabel cries out joyfully, running towards me as quickly as a klutzy three-year-old can before wrapping her short arms around my legs.

    I giggle before sweeping her up in my arms and grinning at her, "How you doing, kiddo?"

    "You're funny, Auntie Lanie," Annabel says, and I roll my eyes.

    She thinks it's hilarious that I call her kiddo since I'm short and-according to Colton-look like I'm a child when I have my hair tied back.  It's really not funny especially since her own father's barely an adult himself, in my opinion.  "You think so, huh?"  I ask while she nods shyly, her smile growing as she realizes what's coming, "I don't think it's funny."  I begin tickling her while she squeals joyfully, wiggling around in my arms, and I ignore the pain I feel as she accidentally kicks me in the side, "You think it's funny now?  You still think it's funny, now?"  I ask, and Annabel squeals before yelling no.

    "Enough funny business, ma cherie," my mom says waltzing into the room look as youthful as ever.  "Put ma petite-fille on ses pieds so we can eat dinner, comprenez?"  My mom inquires.

    I roll my eyes wondering why she even bothers.  She loves throwing French words into conversation to make herself sound more sophisticated, or so it seems to me, she's never confirmed this.  However, she tends to overdue it.  After all, if every other word is going to be in French, she might as well have just said what she wanted to in, you know, French.

    Sighing, I put Annabel on her feet and smile at her slightly, "Grandma wants you to pop-a-squat so we can eat, go on."  Annabel smiles and runs to her seat while I lean over her two year old brother's head and grin down at him.  "Bonjour, Pete," I say to my nephew before looking up at my mother and sitting down in the empty seat beside the toddler.  "Heureux maintenant, maman?" (Happy now, mom?)  I ask her in French, resting my small clutch purse on the table.  I hate purses.  I especially hate clutch purses, but I'd had the feeling I'd need both caffeine and one of my friends after this dinner so, thanks to my pocket-less dress, a clutch purse had been my saving grace.

    Mom shoots me a dark look, "Il est trop tôt pour votre attitude, Melanie."  (It's too early for your attitude, Melanie.)

    My eyes narrow on my mother, but instead of replying, I reach out in front of me and down the half-empty glass of wine sitting in front of me.  Yeah, it's that kind of night.  Mom glowers at me while my brother looks like he's choking down laughter.  Jen seems appalled and shakes her head at me, "Honestly, Melanie, before we say grace?"

    I resist the urge to roll my eyes at my sister-in-law and find the willpower not to say that this family hasn't said grace since I was in kindergarten.  After all, Mom takes that moment to cut in with a winning smile and a bat of her eyelashes before saving face, "You're absolutely right, Jen.  We should say grace before we eat, shouldn't we?"

    "Ooh!  Ooh!  Can I lead?  Please, please, please?"  Annabel begs excitedly, throwing her hand up in the air like she‘s asking her teacher to call on her in class.

    Jen shoots her daughter a dark look while Colton shakes his head at her behavior, looking disappointed.  I see Annabel flush in embarrassment, putting her hand in her lap and looking down at her lap, before cutting in.  "Continuer, Annabel," I tell her.  When she frowns at me in confusion, my head shoots up to look at my brother who appears defensive and embarrassed by my furious gaze.  "Vous n'avez pas été lui apprendre le français?"  (You haven't been teaching her French?)  I'm absolutely shell-shocked that my three year old niece doesn't know basic French.  At three-years-old, my grandma and I were having conversations that switched from English to Creole to French and then back again, because children pick up languages best when they're young.  Even my mom seems a little caught off guard and, given her morals, it's hard to do.

    "She doesn't need to learn it," my brother says in English, most likely for his wife (and apparently children)'s benefit.

    "C'est ridicule, Colton. Le français est la langue de votre grand-père. Qu'est-ce que votre grand-mère l'ont dit?"  (That's ridiculous, Colton.  French is your grandfather's language.  What would your grandmother have said?)  For once, I agree with my shocked and exasperated mother.  Grandma would have been furious to learn that Colton isn't teaching his children French.  After all, she'd always instilled a love of languages in us, the same way she'd instilled a love of learning and history; french, to her, had always been the language that connected her to our grandfather who'd died in World War II, something she'd never quite gotten over.  According to the army, he'd been attacked by some kind of dog and had been killed by having his throat torn out.  She'd loved him dearly the rest of her life and had always enchanted us with stories about our Southern grandfather with French parents who'd spent his whole life living in Louisiana.  Grandma would have killed Colton.  She could have lived with it if he didn't teach his kids Creole, but she'd have hit the roof when she learned that he isn't teaching them French.

    "Grandma would understand the kids don't need to learn French," Colton replies calmly.

    I glare at him, "Avez-vous mis votre femme faire ça?"  (Did your wife put you up to this?)

    Colton flushes, and I nod, glaring at Jen.  It doesn't surprise me; she'd hated that our family spoke French since we once had a whole argument about his marriage to her in fluent French at the dining table in front of her and her family.  She'd been absolutely lost and then absolutely furious when Colton clued her in on what was going on.

    Recognizing our berating of Colton, Jen speaks up, "I feel that Spanish is becoming the dominant language in the United States.  No need to confuse the kids when they'll learn to speak it in school, right?"

    "It's a romance language," I say flatly.  "Learning French will only help learn Spanish.  You're not a very good English teacher, are you?"

    Jen's face turns red as her eyes narrow into slits, and Mom quickly intervenes, "Continuer means, like, go on, Annabel.  Aunt Lanie was saying to go on and say the blessing."

    "Oh," Annabel says cheerfully, oblivious to the conflict.  "Ok.  Bless us, oh lord, and these our gifts which we're about to receive.  In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, A-men."  She draws out the last word in a sing-song voice.

    Jen crosses herself seriously while I roll my eyes as Henry smiles at Annabel, "That was lovely.  Where'd you learn that prayer?"

    "Sunday school!  We say it before snack every time."

    "Vous l'envoyer à l'école du dimanche chaque semaine, mais pas apprendre le français vous-même?"  (You'll send her to Sunday school every week, but not teach her French yourself?)  I snap at my brother who frowns at me, opening his mouth to respond when my mother cuts in.

    "Laisse tomber, vous deux. Ayons un bon dîner en l'honneur de ma petite surprise, d'accord?" (Drop it, both of you.  Let's have a nice dinner in celebration of my little surprise, okay?) She flips her hair over her shoulder and smiles benevolently while I drop it, not believing it's really worth the fight.

    We dig in to my mother's cooking carefully since her culinary skills only extend so far.  The pasta is fine, the salad is tasty, and the chicken (in the words of my niece) is gross.  I have little doubt.  It's also as silent as the grave since none of us really know what to say to each other.  Mom, Colton, and I never had family dinners growing up.  Henry really knows no one at the table with the exception of my mother's body.  Jen is in between a rock and a hard place between my mom and I while the kids, obviously well trained little monkeys, just seem to thinking the silence at the dinner table is normal.  All the women take exactly one helping of food (me because I feel nauseous and the other two to maintain their figures, no doubt) while the men eat as much as they can, avoiding the chicken.  When no one can eat anymore, Mom and I clear away plates (while Jen remains at the table playing footsie with my brother) before Mom brings out (thankfully store bought) peach cobbler and (equally store bought) vanilla ice cream.  Her announcement waits until Annabel and Pete are in the living room watching iCarly re-runs and the rest of us are nursing coffees and hot cocoas in the kitchen.

    Mom clears her throat, and I frown, putting my hot chocolate on the table while glancing up at the digital clock screaming that it's 10:23 at night.  There are so many other things I wish I could be doing right now away from my crazy ass family and their impossible standards.  I have an increasingly strong feeling that I should have put this off and done any one of those ’other things’  Mom smiles, "Kids, Jen, first of all, Henry and I are getting married!"  My mom squeals excitedly, holding her hand up to reveal a sparkling diamond ring that I‘m pretty shocked I didn‘t notice during dinner.

    Colton and I meet each other's gazes over the table warily.  This can't be good.  Mom is shockingly enchanting to men from her agelessness appearance to her mocha skin to her musical voice and rockin' body, which one of Colton's few high school friends summed up in the term MILF (mother I'd like to f*ck...awkward).  Over the years, she'd gotten more than her fair share of offers from her suitors in smaller time frames, and she'd always said no.  Why she'd said yes this time was worrisome, especially since that had only been her first 'surprise.'

    "And secondly..." she met Henry's eyes, and he smiled reassuringly, squeezing her hand.  "I'm pregnant."

    Time seems to stand still as I looked at my mother in pure shock.  Pregnant?  It seems so impossible, I mean she's nearly forty years old, but the conversation about loneliness with Godric comes back to me.  My mother always needs to be around people who adore her; clearly, being an empty-nester just isn't working out for her.  I wonder if she needs that innocent devotion that children have towards their parents or if she's just trying to keep Henry happy since he's so young and obviously wants a family of his own that doesn't include children closer in age to him than his cougar girlfriend…fiancée…whatever.  I want to be mad, but I can't be.  How do I get mad about her getting knocked up at her age knowing that her only daughter will be dead in a few months?  As blasé as she is about everything, I know she'll be heartbroken by my death, and I can't find it in myself to yell her about this little hiccup as badly as I want to.  After all, it's not like I'll be here to babysit and change diapers anyway.

    "Congrats," I say in a daze, barely even aware that I've interrupted my brother's rant towards my mother.

    "What?"  Colton demands, pulling my attention to him.  "What the hell are you talking about, Lanie?  Congrats?  Are you kidding me?  She's thirty-eight years old!  Her eggs are expired!  She's too goddamn old to be pulling this shit!  She's got grown-ass kids and thinks it's okay to have a newborn with a man young enough to be her child!  How do you not see how fucked up this is, Lane?  She was barely capable of raising us as a young mother!  How well is she really going to do being a senior citizen with a teenager?"

    I think my brother’s being a tad bit dramatic…in regards to Henry’s age; my mom’s a lot of things but she’s not stupid enough to get knocked up at thirteen.  The rest of his spiel…I can’t really fault him on, but I can’t say anything since I think a new baby will give her something to focus on when I die in a few months time.  Like I always say…everyone needs something to distract them from the ugly parts of life.  New baby will be my mother’s distraction.

    "Don't talk about your mother that way!"  Henry snaps at Colton; it‘s the first sign of any intense emotion I‘ve seen from him.  It takes both my brother and I aback.

    "I tried my best with you kids, God help me," Mom says dramatically.  "You two were just so damn critical."

    "I've got to go," I say, suddenly feeling the need to escape.  My hands wrap around my wrist as I swallow hard, getting to my feet.  I grab my clutch purse before shaking my head.  "I've got to go."

    "Lanie!"  Colton calls as I flee down the hall and towards the front door.

    "Melanie!  Get back here and let's talk this out like a family!"  Mom says, but I'm already out the door and walking down the road, away from the house.  Like a family…we’ve never been a family, more like three people living under the same roof.  There’s no need for us to start now.

    Tristan and Javier had dropped me off from my home since I don't have a car and Mom lives too far away from my apartment to walk to.  Regardless, I continue walking, high heels and all, down the road, my nails scraping over my wrist as I go.  When I finally run out of steam, I climb onto a fence and sit, watching a small herd of horses frolic together under the moonlight in a paddock.  Sighing, I dig out my phone and dial the first number that pops into my head.

    "Can you pick me up?"

    "Where are you?"

    I give him the address of my mother's house with vague instructions like ‘I'm a little farther up the road sitting on a fence’ before hanging up and digging a Sharpie out of my bag.  I doodle butterflies on my wrist the way I used to one month out of the year when I was in high school, letting my mind sweep over everything that had happened.

    I'd never wanted children, and I still don't.  They're whiny and demanding and you have to put your whole life on hold for them, but when my mother said she was having one it all just kind of hit home.  Life is moving on around me, and it will even after I am gone.  I'll never get to fall in love.  I'll never get to be married, not that I ever really wanted to be (though I‘d be nice to have the choice).  I'd never get the chance to have children, and maybe I don't want to but the point is that I couldn't even if I did.  Everyone I know has lives and goals and futures, and I have today and tomorrow and maybe the day after that until my body decides that its run out of time.  I thought I'd faced the harsh reality of my situation, but apparently, I haven't really come to terms with it yet.

    I hear a car come to a stop behind me, and there's a whoosh sound before Godric is suddenly perched on the fence beside me in brown cotton pants and a white t-shirt.  We remain silent for a moment, me sitting slumped over and defeated, Godric perched relaxed but alert.  Both of us stare out at the horses so close beside each other that I can feel his cool arm pressed against mine.  I run my hand over the butterflies I drew on my wrist, and Godric catches my hand with lightening fast speed, holding it between us tightly, comforting me just by letting me know he's there.

    "What's the stupidest thing you've ever done in your life?"  I ask him, needing the distraction.

    He answers without hesitation and without stopping to ask me why I want to know.  Godric either hears the pleading in my voice or understands that I just need this.  Whatever the case, I'm more than grateful that he speaks up and doesn't make me ask again, "Honestly, in 2000 years, the stupidest thing I've ever done was give myself up to the Fellowship of the Sun."

    "What happened?"  I ask emotionlessly, still gazing out across the field.

    "They would have taken one of us eventually.  They wanted to prove that we were devils, that God had cursed vampires by making them burn under the sun, and I was ready to meet the sun while they were...determined to catch a vampire and have the congregation watched a the vampire burned.  I gave myself up to them to achieve two purposes: the keep another from being taken and to burn through a sacrifice I hoped would prove eye-opening to humans and vampires alike.  However, Eric came to help find me, unaware, of course, that I'd given myself up and not that I'd been taken."

    I scoff, "Like that would have made a difference to him."

    "I know," Godric says with a smile.  "He sent Sookie Stackhouse and my second-now the Sheriff-Isabel's human, Hugo, to infiltrate the Fellowship and find me.  They did, but we had a traitor, they were imprisoned, and Sookie was almost raped trying to save me.  Hugo was revealed to be a traitor.  Eric, in his misguided rescue attempt, nearly met the sun in my place and was chained in silver at the hands of Steve Newlin's madness, and a whole church of men, women, and children were almost massacred by the vampires of this area who believed I'd been taken.

    "I put my goals on hold to allow everyone to exit safely, but I do believe it was mostly luck that not everyone in that church died.  Regardless, once we all returned to my nest Sookie-"

    "The telepath?"

    "Yes, was nearly killed by her boyfriend's Maker, I pardoned Hugo and made him a target for every vampire in the area, and a suicide bomber killed two humans and two vampires in my home.  All of this because I went to the Fellowship of the Sun for my redemption.  Nothing I've done remotely measures up to the sheer stupidity of that decision."

    I nod my head, "I actually allowed myself to believe that the world doesn't keep going just because it feels like mine has stopped."  The hair on my arm rises as I feel Godric's gaze focus on me.  "My mother's pregnant."

    "And this bothers you."

    "It shouldn't, right?  I'm being selfish by being upset that she's preggo and robbing the cradle by getting engaged to some twenty-five year old wannabe cowboy?"

    Godric's silent for a moment before he says, "Do you want children?"

    "No!"  I blurt out, laughing humorlessly while trying to fight off tears that I'm tired of shedding in his presence.  "That's the crazy part, right?  I'd hate to have my own kids, but for some reason, I'm so pissed that she's having one, especially with Henry.  I mean, what's wrong with my family?  Marriage?  Kids at thirty-eight?  My dumbass brother not teaching my nieces French?  What the hell goes on when I'm not looking?  What qualifications does my mom have to raise a kid?  She's immature and spoiled and self-centered and just plain fucked up.  Just because she has a husband this time doesn't mean she'll be a better parent."

    "And if she is?"

    "What do you mean?"

    "You would be upset if she was a better parent this time because she's getting married, because she'll have a husband to help raise the child the way she didn't with you and your brother."  Godric says this like it's obvious, and I suppose, in a way, it is.

    "It wouldn't be fair.  Nothing about this is fair," I shake my head at the absurdity of both the situation and my epiphany.  "Just because she has a husband to dote on her suddenly she's a decent mother?  Where the hell had she been when I was growing up?  That selfish bitch turned me into this and yet gets married, has a kid, and becomes mom of the year?  That's so unfair.  And my brother kicks our culture to the curb but still ends up getting to say whatever the hell he wants, and then, he expects me to back him up?  My family is so fucked up.  I just feel so fucking…invisible.  No one hears me or sees me or cares about me until they need support or back up or something.  It's irritating.  I've never wanted kids and I still don't, but it's like if I died tomorrow, what would I leave behind?  My family doesn't even see me so there'd be absolutely nothing that says 'I was here'.  I...existed.  I want to do something extraordinary, and I'm running out of time.  Time that my whole family just seems to waste."

    Godric's hand tightens around mine, "You're eighteen, Lanie.  You've got plenty of time."

    I don't reply, giving him a sad smile as I turn and look at the horses, "Can you take me home, now, Godric?"

    He rubs his thumb over my butterfly drawings, "I'll take you anywhere you want to go, Melanie."

    Glancing over at him, I meet his eyes and just stare into the vampire's emerald green eyes for a moment before I give him a genuine but small smile.  "Thank you, but I think, right now, home is where I need to be."

Chapter Text

They are ready.

    I stare at myself in the mirror with a huge grin stretching across my face as I turn to look at Tristan and Orlando, my tattoo artist, with obvious glee.  "Holy shit, Orlando, they look so fucking badass," I squeal gleefully, turning my attention back to the mirror and putting my hands on my hips so that I can get a better look at the tats before I make a small sound of joy, "They're awesome, thank you so much."  I tell Orlando profusely, turning around to give him a hug.

    Orlando laughs, shrugging me off and inclining his head for us to follow him to the counter.  I hand him my credit card, and he shakes his head at me, "It’s on the house.  I thought you didn't have an addiction to tattoos."

    I glare at him, "I don't.  Every tattoo I get has meaning to me, and these are no exception."

    "You got five, Mel," Orlando replies with a 'duh' tone in his voice.

    Rolling my eyes, I cross my arms over my chest, "Three of them are really small."

    Tristan laughs, "Don't worry about it, Orlando.  Lanie's been having a hell of an adventure over the past three weeks.  She even met a man."  Tristan raises his eyebrows playfully while Orlando looks impressed and oohs appreciatively.

    Shaking my head, I grab my card back from Orlando and stuff it in my pocket, glaring at the two of them.  "I hate you both.  I didn't meet a man; I met a vampire.  An old, powerful vampire with suicidal tendencies, okay?"

    "Is he attractive?"  Orlando inquires teasingly.

    "I-I-I," I stumble over my words before crossing my arms over my chest and bristling defensively, "He's a vampire."

    Orlando and Tristan look at each other, shaking their heads at my words before Orlando sighs in exasperation, "Are you attracted to him?"

    "I…well…it’s just…I…no!  He's just...we're just...will you two leave me alone?  We're friends."

    Tristan and Orlando give each other knowing smiles while I frown at the two of them through narrowed eyes.  Tristan shakes his head, "Girl, you're not fooling anyone."  I exhale as I send them both one last glare before turning on my heel and walking out, unwilling to discuss Godric with the two of them, let alone the state of our relationship, non-relationship, possible friendship.  I'd never really fathomed being friends with a vampire.  I could certainly do worse as far as friends go than Godric, but he was attractive and broken and unwilling to forgive even himself, plus I'm dying.  We're not exactly a primo recipe for friendship.  They laugh as I walk away, and I flip them the bird over my shoulder as Tristan runs to catch up, "Honestly, Lanie, are you seriously gonna pretend you're not in lurve with him."

    "Don't be ridiculous, Tristan.  I'll admit to attraction, but I'm not in love with him."

    "But you like him, and here I never thought I'd see the day.  Will wonders never cease?"

    I elbow him, "Shut up.  I'm not going to pursue it because it'll never work."

    "Oh no?" Tristan waggles his eyebrows at me, and I groan.

    "No, because he's a suicidal vampire Ghandi, and I'm a hot mess."  And I'm dying.  The last thing I want was for Godric to get emotionally attached to me (if that‘s even possible for someone as broken as him), the way I fear I'm getting to him (if that‘s even possible for someone as jaded as me).  I will die and give Godric one more reason to push himself over the edge of depression and become a vampire inferno.  I care about him far more than originally intended, but only means so much to a dying girl.  I like him too much to pursue a relationship, and I like my heart unbroken enough not to pine for one since Godric put the 'dam' in damaged.  He's about as capable of having a functional relationship as little dying me.  "Don't be an ass, and let it go.  I have work!"

    Tristan shakes his head, "Fine, bitch, have fun cleaning toilets and changing bed spreads."

    I give him the finger before darting into the Hotel Camilla as he continues on towards his flat.  I wave hello to Alex the concierge as I answer, pointedly ignoring the way his face lights up when he sees me, but he nods seriously like he's badass.  Yeah, right.  Men.  I work fast getting the cart together while Janice whines about the new maid trainee, Patricia, who is, much to my and Janice's dismay, a true waste of space.  Patricia sits on a folding chair texting while the rest of us do actual work.  Janice, Moira, and I play rock, paper, scissors to see who gets lazy bones for a partner, and I lose ridiculously easily.  I fight the bone-deep exhaustion and creeping nausea as I work, and Patricia follows doing nothing.  I’m seriously considering homicide when suddenly a pair of cool hands grip my waist.

    I tense, pausing from changing the sheets, more than ready to hit whatever vampiric motherfucker is touching me.  I've never had a hotel patron touch me before but there's a first-and last-time for everything.  "Can I see them now?" I hear the familiar voice whisper in my ear.

    In just an automatic reaction to his lightly accented voice, I relax, glancing over my shoulder with a smile, "You couldn't even wait till I was on break?"

    Godric shakes his head at me, kissing my forehead before moving to help me make the bed.  Both the kiss and the image of him making a bed are totally foreign concepts that are so ridiculously outside the scope of my imagination that I just go with it robotically, ignoring Patricia who stands uselessly in the corner of the room, ignoring me completely.  "You have kept the outlines hidden for days.  I want to see them."

    "Well, we don't always get want we want, do we?  For instance, I wanted to not work with perfectly inept Patricia over there, yet somehow managed to lose nine games of rock, paper, scissors…in a row.  Life's tough." I tease, but Godric looks unimpressed as we finish putting on the bedspreads, tossing the dirty ones into the cart.  I hold up a finger, signaling for Godric to wait before looking at Patricia critically, "Yo, Miss Thing?"

    Patricia sighs heavily like I’m interrupting her and raises her eyebrows at me, crossing her arms over her chest, "Yeah, what?"

    I sigh while Godric looks at her impassively, though I can see the annoyance flickering in the back of his eyes.  Yep, that makes two of us.  I roll my eyes at her, "I'm taking a break, and you can take one too after you scrub the bathtub and clean the toilet."  Her mouth drops open while Godric smiles at me and nods his head, clearly amused; I shrug and reach out for Godric's hand, which he slips into mine automatically, "Payback's a bitch, huh?  Oh, and if it's not done, I'm telling the boss you've been texting on the job and that there's V hidden in your locker."

    "There isn't!"  Patricia snaps looking both appalled and frightened as she look between Godric and me.  It's an interesting reaction, but not one that I care to explore.

    Shrugging, I open the door and grin at her, "Don't care.  It's all about evidence, and I'm sure I can get my hands on some.  Do your job, I'll see you later."  And with that lesson echoing through her mind, I pull Godric out of the room and down the hall to the staircase that leads to the roof.  We plop down side-by-side on the brick wall while I dangle my legs over the side; Godric's arm wraps around my waist to keep me from falling despite how unlikely I find that.  "Thanks for helping."

    Godric shrugs, "You looked ready to faint from exertion."

    I smile and nod at him; he has no idea how true that is.  "You're not going to tell anyone I threatened her, right?"

    "That was a threat?" Godric asks doubtfully while I roll my eyes and nudging him with my shoulder.

    "I guess not to a vampire," I tease Godric who smiles and shakes his head letting me know that, no, that is not a threat in the eyes of a vampire.  I guess, they have threats more geared towards bodily harm and spontaneous death.

    "Can I see them now?"

    "Jesus, you're such a child," I shake my head but smile as I take off the gauze covering my hand, wrist, and three fingers.

    Godric takes my hand first and studies the small tattoos on my knuckles: the cancer symbol (which I've had nearly two months), the ouroboros, the small North star, and an ankh.  Lightly, he runs his fingers along them before flipping my arm to reveal the wrist I'd spent most of my life cutting up; three tattoo scars with stitches are there with technicolor butterflies seeming to fly out of one of them.  He squeezes the wrist gently before picking up my other hand and peering down at it.  That tattoo is a true testament to our friendship, a symbol of the pact that's been ruling my life for three weeks.  It's a tribal sun with a shattered razor blade at its center, a red swoosh slipping out of the center becoming a ray of the sun and representing a line of blood.  That tattoo is my design and the bane of Orlando’s existence over the past few days.  It had hurt like hell to get on my hand, but I think it's worth it.

     "What do they mean?"  Godric asks me quietly.

    I want to keep my mouth shut and not tell him anything, but he's staring so seriously at the tattoo on my left hand that I do.  I tell him how the star is for my grandma who told me I could always find her there, the ankh is just a symbol for life that I'm so passionate about, and the ouroboros is just a symbol of the continuity of the world.  I tell him about the Butterfly Project, how it's supposed to happen once month a year and encourages cutters to draw butterflies on their wrist instead of cut, what the project means to me.  I even tell him about the reaper being about how I'd almost beat death once, though I make no comment about the cancer symbol or the experience behind my death tattoo.  When he asks about the sun, I reluctantly confess how it's about our pact, and I don't think I do well hiding just how much it means to me since he kisses my hand solemnly and tightens it in his own for a moment.

    "You have more."  It’s not a question, and I smile.

    "I'll show you mine if you show me yours," I say dramatically.

    Godric rolls his eyes but nods as I stand on the rooftop and step out of my shoes to show him the koi fish and dragon tats on my feet.  He smiles when I briefly give him a disjointed account of the Chinese legend and how I'd gotten it to represent my transformation from a child into an adult...sort of.  I turn around and start to pull up the back of my shirt when suddenly Godric lifts it for me, running his cold fingers along the intricate web of lines that weave in and out to create the massive cross covering my back.  "This is an old design," Godric comments, running his cool fingers across my back.

    I hum in agreement, seriously fighting the urge to pant as cool tingles spread from the area and throughout my body without fail.  I close my eyes and nod, "Celtic, my grandma was a scholar...studied ancient cultures...Celtic and Germanic tribes and empires were her favorite."

    "Not the Roman empire?"  The question is weighted, though I don't understand why.

    His fingers trail down to my lower back, stopping right at the top of my jeans and my core tightens while I swallow a moan.  It is a lot easier handling my attraction to Godric when he isn’t touching me, "No.  She thinks the Roman empire was savage and over-exaggerated in prestige, but she said that about every empire who turned the people of their land conquests into the empire's slaves."

    Godric says nothing about this as his fingers move up over my skin and to my side where the song lyrics to A Match Into Water are tattooed on my side in neat but decorative calligraphy.  He leans in to read them, "And this?"

    "My favorite speaks to me."

    I glance over my shoulder to see him frowning as he reads the lyrics tattooed on my body.  He gets an odd look on his face as he lets me pull down my shirt again, leaning back to sit on the wall.  Without comment, I pull on my sneakers when he says suddenly, "What are you hiding from me, Melanie?"

    I freeze instantly, the lingering warm, tingly feelings disappearing as the reality of the situation hits me; I shake my head for letting myself get so caught up in something that should--that has to--mean nothing.  I force a smile, "A lot of things."  I say it playfully, like it's a joke, but I can tell from Godric's face that he isn't playing around.  He knows I'm hiding something big, and he's pissed as hell that either I'm not telling him or I'm making light of it, though I can‘t tell which.  Who knew that mexi-core song lyrics tattooed on the body could be so ridiculously telling to an ancient vampire?  I smile and lean down to put my hands on his knees, leaving our faces only centimeters apart; I ignore the way my whole body seems to catch on fire as I do so, forcing an easy smile, "Your turn."

    Godric smiles and nods his head, getting to his feet and slipping out of his shirt to reveal his pale but shockingly sculpted chest for someone turned when they were only sixteen.  I'd never really seen Godric shirtless, but, no surprise, he was just as mouth-wateringly gorgeous without a shirt as he was with one on, much to my dismay.  My stomach flips as my eyes devour his body, fighting off the urge to stare with my mouth open; I've never wanted to touch anybody so badly in my life.  It's almost painful keeping my hands to myself and leaves my body aching.

    When I finally meet his eyes, there's amusement in them, and I blush while he laughs and walks over to me.  I'm so caught off guard by the sound of his laughter that I don't realize we're practically standing chest to chest until his hand comes up between us, catching my chin and moving my gaze to his eyes, "Problem?"  Yeah, I didn't know you knew how to laugh; this is a big moment for me.  And you‘re gorgeous.  And I want to touch you more than I‘ve wanted anything in my life.  I don't say that, though, shaking my head while he smirks.  Well look at that, the boy takes off his shirt and suddenly vampire Ghandi morphs into an overconfident teenage boy.  It's unexpected but…hot.  

    My eyes trace over the half-circle design that stretches from shoulder to shoulder below his collar bone and has small arrows pointing out in equal intervals when Godric says, "That one is a symbol of strength."  I nod, and my eyes move to focus on the numerous bands of sharply waving lines on one arm, and he admits, "I was born in a coastal town.  It's a water elemental symbol."

    "And this one?" I point to the band of runic symbols that run across the opposite arm.

    He looks down at it dispassionately, "It's a message in Elder Furthark runes."

    I can see from the look on his face that he doesn't want to explain further, so I shut my mouth, moving around to his back and the dark serpent-like creature running down his spine.  I reach out to touch it but hesitate; it's fairly obvious that Godric doesn't like being touched.  He’s far more comfortable keeping himself at a distance and coming to you.  He reminds me a little of my cat, Mufasa, who'd been abused as a kitten and still continues to hold on to that caution around humans, not wanting them to touch her unless it’s on her terms.  When it comes to touching his hand, he‘s fine but anything other than that makes me wary of his response.  "Its a sea serpent, a legend from my tribe, and it's fine, Lanie, you're fine,"  he says it thickly and with obvious hesitation, but I've been aching to touch him since he'd stripped off his shirt.  I reach out cautiously and run my hands along his spine while he tenses.  I pause, letting his adjust to the feeling, before running my fingers up and down his spine slowly and in a rhythm until he relaxes and lets out a shaky breath.  I guess it's true: vampires don't need to breathe otherwise he would‘ve passed out ten minutes ago. My fingers run up his back to the circular symbol on his shoulder, and he tenses again as my fingers meet the raised skin, "That's not a tattoo."

    "I know, the skin's raised."  We stay silent for a minute before I work up the courage to ask what it is.

    Godric remains silent for a moment before he says in an icy cold, emotionless voice: "A brand."

    My fingers still, and I stand there for a moment while Godric remains tense.  I exhale after a moment and rest my forehead against his spine.  Slowly, he relaxes again before whirling around, grabbing my hands in his, and leaning his forehead against mine in seconds with his spectacularly fast vampiric speed.  I shake my head and whisper, "What are you hiding from me?"

    I see him smile slightly as I open my eyes to meet his, "A lot of things."  I roll my eyes and laugh quietly, starting to pull back just before he brings me closer and kisses my forehead, "You have work to be doing."

    "Touché, don't you have a job?"

     "Not at the moment," Godric says in amusement, pulling on his shirt before grabbing my hand and leading me down the stairs.  "Do you think Patricia will actually work?"

    "Of course," I shrug, "it's no joke getting busted with V while working in a vampire hotel.  And I wasn’t bluffing; I’d get some blood from Ajax and plant it too.  What are friends for, right, if not to supply you with blood to threaten your colleague into work?"  Godric seems to be holding back laughter.

    When we get back, the tub and toilet have been scrubbed to perfection, and Patricia is alert and ready to go.  She's also so terrified of both me and Godric that she does what I say, when I say, without question much to Godric's apparent amusement.  He stays with us as we tidy the rooms, reading Vampire Academy, which I'd so enthusiastically recommended, making offhanded comments about the characters, the vampires‘ abilities, or the Russian legend behind the story as we go along from room to room.  There’s such a miraculous change in Patricia that Janice and Moira ask if I'd pulled on knife on her until they see Godric and thank him like he was the one to get her to work, and Godric, for his part, nods benevolently, his eyes sparkling with laughter when he looks at me.  I stay silent and shoot him evil looks...some vampire Ghandi he is.

    We walk together to the concierge desk-talking about various vampire legends we'd both come into contact with-so that I can catch a cab the way I so often do when I go home at two in the morning.  I'm not exactly a believer vampires are out to get the human race but better to be safe than sorry, especially in a city as big as Dallas.  I smile at Alex as we get there, Godric standing so close beside me that our arms are pressed together once again electrifying my whole body.  Alex calls a cab before clearing his throat, pulling both mine and Godric's attention from our conversation on Mary Shelley versus Bram Stroker (he's only a Bram Stroker hater because of the way he fucked up the truth about vamps, I digress) to the nervous looking twenty year old.

    "Hi...Lanie," Alex says.

    I blink, "Hi Alex?"  It's a question; I mean, didn't we already do this hours earlier?  Godric studies the man impassively, purposefully making him more nervous and uncomfortable than he already is.  I swat Godric discreetly, but he doesn't  react.  Freaking vampires.

    "I was wondering..." I blink while Godric's gaze intensifies on him, turning cold.  I roll my eyes, over protective vampire friends...can't live with them.  "Do you want to do a date?"

    "With who?"  I'm shocked, and the words are blurted out before I can even think about them.  The part of my brain still capable of rationalization rolls its eyes at me.  With him, dummy, who else?

    Alex coughs while Godric continues to look at him in the iciest way I've ever seen.  If looks could kill...Alex persists, "With me?"  He looks like he's about to pee in his pants, and Godric looks like he’s one the verge of becoming sociopathic serial killer; gone is the serene, ancient vampire with a shocking level of sympathy towards humans only to be replaced by-what Ajax had said used be referred to as-the face of death.  Thus Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde.  Lovely.

    At first reaction, I want to say no, but another part of me that's an eighteen year old virgin-physically and relationship wise-demands at least one date before I end up six feet under.  Besides, the other part of me that's crying out for Godric's hands on my body yet again are taken into account and automatically discounted by the rational part of my mind that says ‘don't get attached to someone who'll never feel the same way, don't try to get attached since the last thing either of you need is a broken heart right before your imminent death,’ and I've never been on a date, will be dead in several weeks, and don’t really know Alex all that well so what's the harm in going on one date?

    "Yes," I reply before I can think about it.  Alex grins while Godric's whole face melts from his intense glare into the impenetrable impassive mask I didn't realize had been missing for a while until it reappeared.  We exchange phone numbers quickly before Godric and I walk out to my cab, and just before I get in, the realization that I'd agreed to go on a date with Alex-the concierge and my colleague-finally sinks in.  I whirl around to meet Godric's emotionless eyes with shock on my face.  "I guess I just agreed to go on a date with Alex?"

    Godric nods.

    Well fuck me and my big mouth…but how bad could it really be?

Chapter Text

"The black one or the red one?"

    "I say the black one."

    "She's wearing the red one!"

    "Does it really matter?"

    "I'm a man.  I don't care what clothes a girl has on her body; it's more important what they look like when they hit the ground."

    "Get your mind out of the gutter, Joey!"

    "You think you're a man?"

    "Don't be an asshole, Ajax, I'll have your head."

    "So does the fact that I sleep with a dude make me less of a man?  That's very narrow-minded of you, Joey.  I think I'm offended."

    "I think I'll just wear the flower one," I say offhandedly, letting go of my curls to let them cascade down my back.  This, of course, just prompts a whole new wave of arguments from the boys that makes me sigh and drop in an exhausted heap onto Ajax and Joey's vintage 1920s velvet couch.  When the doorbell rings, I move hastily to the door and fling it open to see Godric standing across in his white cotton pants and long-sleeved top that makes me groan, "Seriously, do you buy those outfits in bulk?"

    Godric glances down at his outfit and shrugs, "They’re comfortable."

    "Fine, dude, whatever," I say with a smile and a shake of my head.

    "You have to invite me in," Godric whispers conspiratorially while I roll my eyes.

    "Does it matter that my name's not on the rental agreement?"  I tease.

    Godric smiles slightly and rolls his eyes at me, opening his mouth to comment when Joey suddenly yells.  "You bitch!  Don't let any strange vampires come into my apartment!  What crack pipe have you been smoking out of?"  Godric frowns.

    "That's Joey," I say to him with a shrug.  "Come on in!"  I say it in a loud sing-song voice so that Joey can hear.

    "Jax!  Make her stop!"  Joey yells just as Ajax appears in front of us suddenly before halting and bowing his head.


    "I am no longer the sheriff of Area 9.  That title goes to Isabel, you know that surely."

    Ajax nods, "We're all glad to see you alive, Godric."

    "Godric?"  Someone asks, and the boys peer around the corner to study him carefully.  "Vampire Ghandi's in our house."

    I groan while Godric just seems amused, fighting a smile.  Ajax blinks at him, obviously shocked to see him actually display an emotion; I couldn't do anything but hold back my giggles because I totally understood his shock.  "Right, Sheriff...Godric...sir," he says stiffly while Godric meets my eyes with amusement, and I giggle again, "welcome to my home."

    I roll my eyes, "Oh, lighten up, Ajax.  He's not going to stake you for speaking casual."

    "Thank you, Lanie, for that assessment," he says dryly as I grab Godric's hand and pull him into the living room.

    "Anytime," I comment over my shoulder.  I introduce him to Tristan, Javier, and Joey who smile politely but are clearly intrigued, though uncomfortable in the vampire's overpowering presence.  Soon, they shake off their immediate discomfort and begin bickering over my hair and my outfit again while I roll my eyes and curl up on the couch opposite Godric, opening my notebook to sketch my next tattoo and probably my last.  He moves closer to me, sitting with most out our sides touching, and I feel the electricity hum through my body but fight to remain calm and stay focused on my sketch.  "Can I help you?"  I finally ask when the feeling becomes too overpowering to allow me focus.

    "What are you drawing?"

    "A new tattoo design," I reply calmly.

    "It's impressive," he replies.

    I smile slightly and look over my shoulder at him, "Thanks...I think."  Godric smiles slightly before focusing back on my half finished tattoo design.  It's a pretty intense image that sums up my eighteen year old self to a 'T'.  It's a purple-black heart that looks more like a diamond chained up with a keyhole in the center and an upside down U like the whole thing is a padlock.  I study it and see it's pretty much finished except for a few minute details, but the most important part is already in place.  A quote in french: L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers.  Man is born free and yet everywhere he is in chains.  It pretty much sums up my entire life.

    "Rousseau," Godric says, "that's an interesting quote to choose."

    I shrug, "It sums up my life pretty well."

    Godric nods, "And mine as well."  We remain silent for a moment, both pondering the other's statement before he says, "You speak French fluently."

    "I didn't tell you that?"

    "You mentioned it in passing."

    I smile at him, "Then, yes, I do.  I also speak Haitian Creole fluently.  My grandmother is-was-Haitian, and my grandfather's family was French born.  They immigrated to America during colonial times and helped develop New Orleans.  According to grandma, they were proud French people and kept their language alive in the family so even though my grandfather was born and bred in the South and spoke with a slight country accent, he also spoke ‘beautiful fluent French‘.  He taught grandma, and she taught us."

    Godric frowns, "How old was your grandmother when she had your mother?"

    I laugh at his confusion and shake my head, "The woman I call 'grandma' was actually my great-grandma.  My actual grandmother and her husband died of cholera or influenza or something right after they had my mother.  Grandma raised Mom like her daughter."

    "And your grandfather?"

    I shake my head while Godric takes the notebook and pencil out of my hand and begins to write something, but I'm so caught up in thoughts of my grandparents I don‘t pay any attention, "Grandpa died in 1945 in Ausburg, Germany."  Godric freezes for a moment before tightly beginning to write again.  "He was a soldier for the US during World War II, and he went into a house to check something out.  Grandma said he was reported MIA for nearly six months before they found him dead in a small house after being mauled by some kind of dog.  Grandma always said it was ironic that he went to the front lines against hostile Germany but died death by dog; he was found beside some woman they think he was trying to save who'd had her neck broken."  I shrug, "They're not quite sure what happened, but they think the SS found the two of them and killed the woman and set the dogs on my grandpa.  We'll never know, though I guess."  Godric is silent and focused but I can tell he both listened and is disturbed by what I just said, though the reason why is questionable.

    Finally, Godric hands me back the notebook where several letters are written neatly, though I don't know if 'letters' are the right word for them.  They're the same symbols as the ones tattooed on Godric's arms: Elder Furthark.  I frown at the letters before looking up at him questioningly, "What are these?"

    "Elder Furthark,"  He says this like it’s obvious, and I roll my eyes.

    "What does it say?"

    "My name," he says quietly.  "I haven't written these for a long time."

    I reach over and rest my hand on top of his, "Thank you."  I'm not quite sure what I'm thanking him for, but he smiles just the same before he takes his hand out from under mine and moves away from me.  I swallow hard and go back to sketching; I can practically hear my conscience screaming: REJECTION.  Thanks for the words of wisdom conscience.  I'm not quite sure why he's all the sudden distant and guilty, but I'm not quite sure I need-or want-to know; regardless, I know he won't tell me if I ask.

    The doorbell rings, and we all jump before I take a deep breath and get to my feet.  Tristan looks at me and shakes his head mournfully at the sight of me in my Maxi dress with my curls hanging loose and wild just past my shoulders.  He makes a small sound of shock and despair before darting out of the room to return with a pair of Gina's dainty Chanel stilettos left behind while she went on her vampire version of walkabout.  "These will have to do, Lane," he shakes his head mournfully as he looks me up and down, "That dress!  And the hair!  No jewelry!  You're a disaster!"

    I look down at my strapless pale pink, gray, and black floral print maxi dress before looking up at Tristan.  "What's the problem?"

    The door bell rings again, and Joey groans, "Somebody get the door!"  Ajax rushes out to get the door while Tristan moves me in front of a mirror.

    The top of the dress is mostly gray and black, hugging my D-cup boobs (an unfortunate accident on God's part, I think) and making them look smaller, the long, flowing pale pink floral print skirt makes me look taller and hides my slightly rounded stomach (those five fricking pounds I can never seem to lose), and the heels-as unstable as I feel in them-make me a good three inches taller.  My light brown skin is glowing and for once doesn't seem to show some of the acne scars that still seem unwilling to go away on my chest, shoulders, back, and face.  For once, my puffy, wildly curly mane looks long and like a styled mess of ringlets, also making my face and its lingering baby fat look sophisticated and more matured.  There are no bruises marring my skin today, and my chocolate brown eyes are clear and sparkling.  And despite having no make-up on, I still managed to not look a total hot mess; I didn't see the big deal, though I did agree with the jewelry comment.  I tilt my head to the side and scrunch up my nose, "I don't get it; what's the problem?"

    Tristan sighs, "You're so not really a girl, are you?"  I blink at him.

    Javi, usually the most un-gay gay man I've ever met, actually backs up his boyfriend, "It's not that you look bad.  It's just that you look so casual.  It's a date."

    "Right," I nod, "but shouldn't he date me for being...I don't"  Both the boys look confused and appalled, so I sigh and shake my head, "Whatever, I guess I get your point about the jewelry though."

    "Thank God," Tristan throws his hands up in the air.  "You've got a little sense.  You need something to tie the whole thing together, something beaded or brown leather, you know?  Bohemian chic to go with your outfit.  Does your sister have anything like that, Joey?"

    Joey laughs and shakes his head, "I thought you met Gina.  She's more into leather, studs, and spikes.  Sorry."

    "I have it," Godric says, ceasing all conversation abruptly before appearing behind me.  He hangs a necklace around my neck, and I look down to see a carved wooden pendant, almost cylindrical in shape, hanging from a thin leather throng.  I frown at the piece of jewelry before looking up at Godric with a question in my eyes, which he ignores, turning to Tristan.  "That will do."

    Tristan blinks before grinning, "Yeah. Are you sure you're not gay?"  I laugh while Godric doesn't say anything but looks at me with amusement.  I don't say that chances are the boy's slept with a man; after all, in 2000 years, you probably try everything right?  However, it’s best not to encourage Tristan.

    "Hello?  Date?  I'm keeping him entertained?  Let's go, people!"  Ajax hisses at us quietly, sticking his head into the living room before disappearing.

    I take a deep breath, "This is it."

    "Your first date!"  Tristan squeals quietly, "You excited?"

    "Don't let him feel you up," Javi says while I roll my eyes.

    "No chance," I reply.

    "And don't sleep with him," Joey continues.  "Do not lose your virginity to that prick."

    "Have you even met him?"  I ask, rolling my eyes.

    "Don't need to," Joey shrugs, turning to Godric.  "Is he a prick?"

    "Yes," Godric replies with a smile.

    I elbow him while shooting Joey a dirty look, "Fuck you both."

    "Yes, please," Joey purrs teasingly before he and Javi saunter to the entrance.

    Tristan kisses my cheek before following his boyfriend, and I give myself on last glance in the mirror.  Godric's eyes meet mine in the mirror, and I try-and fail-to smile.  He moves in front of me suddenly, putting a hand on my cheek.  "Don't worry, you look..." he trails off, and I smile at him, knowing where he's going.

    "Thank you," I say fervently before walking into the entrance with Godric following behind me closely-and seemingly protectively.  I meet Alex's eyes and smile nervously, "Ready?"


I know the date is going to be a bust the minute we step into a Sushi restaurant, and Alex smiles at me, leaning too close and whispering, "I love sushi.  It's my favorite."  I fight the urge to grimace.  Um...raw fish!  Please no!  Gross!  Ew!  If God wanted us to eat raw food, then he wouldn't have given us fire.

    We sit down and say nothing to each other until the waitress comes and asks for our drink orders, and Alex-without even asking me-orders Saki (which is alcoholic, and therefore totally not my speed).  I blink at him and shake my head, "I don't drink."  The one notable exception being wine at my mother’s but I’m willing to forgive myself for that.

    "It'll be fine," Alex shrugs.

    "Alex," I say slowly, "it's illegal.  I'm eighteen."

    "Who's going to know?  I'm twenty-one."

    "It doesn't matter," I shake my head.  "I don't drink.  I don't like alcohol."

    He gives me a condescending smile and puts his hand over mine, "Are you a lightweight?"  Yes, but you're missing the point that I don't like alcohol, dumbass.  I shrug, trying my hardest not to snap at him for completely ignoring what I'm trying to say.  Is he purposefully being this dense or does he just not get what I'm trying to say?  Neither one of them is going to foster this relationship, that's for damn sure.  "That's okay, Lanie.  I'll make sure you get home," I see the hunger in his eyes and the way he looks up and down at my body when he says this, giving me a slimy feeling.  

    I'll bet you will.  I'd personally rather walk home with a starving vampire while I have a nose bleed.  The waitress brings us the Saki while I scan the menu, which is completely in Japanese, and Alex-who eats sushi so often that he knows what everything is regardless-gets way too far into my personal bubble to help me read it.  Instead of getting the delicious tingly feelings I get whenever Godric even gets near me, I feel my stomach flip and my adrenaline pump with a sudden need to get the hell away.  We finally settle on the California rolls and some eel (ew!), which Alex insists I'll love (doubtful), and then settle into conversation...sort of.

    Our 'conversation' consists of him asking me a string of uber personal questions in between long-winded narratives of him, his family, and his frat boy friends.  Turns out that Alex was raised in Canada by a former ice hockey star and a real estate mogul, and he only works at the Hotel Camilla because his parents think he needs to learn the value of a dollar while he attends college to become a real estate agent and businessman like his mother.  He has a Burnese mountain dog named Loki (after his favorite supervillain) and a boa constrictor named Slash (even though he is a she and she is ancient and wouldn't hurt a fly).  Alex watches hockey nearly everyday, his favorite team is the Ottawa Senators because that's his hometown teams, and he vacations every summer with his family in the 1000 Islands.  The first girl he ever kissed was Avril, the transfer from Montreal, when he was ten; he also lost his virginity to her older sister (coincidentally...or not), Mai (they had fucked up parents, clearly), who was three years older than his fourteen years and said he was the best she ever had.  (Am I the only one who finds it pathetic that a fourteen year old virgin was the best she ever had?)  He loves the Beegees, the winter olympics, and the Lakers.  He hates football, Cajun food (um...hello?  I'm still sitting here right?), and illegal immigrants (hey, Canada, look who's talking?).  Also, he's a democrat (because his parents are), doesn't believe in God (says the atheist to Christian), and doesn't know where he stands on the side of vampire politics since he think they're 'really cool' but also 'so fucking scary'.

    By the time the food comes, he knows exactly six things about me.  One, Godric and I are not fucking.  Two, I do watch hockey but I'm a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins (much to his dismay since he says they're overly endorsed and not nearly as good as they're made out to be...thank you for that, asshole).  Three, I think the summer olympics are a hell of lot more fun to watch.  Four, I refuse to talk about my family (which I hope he learned since he asked if I had any siblings, and I blatantly changed the subject to conversation about his hobbies, which, naturally, he ran with).  Five, I have two cats because I have no energy for dogs (which he says is outrageous and stupid...again, I'm not being crazy right?  That's  bitchy thing to say to someone) and don't want a pet (insert word reptile here) that outlives me and isn't cute and cuddly (to which he replies that I'm 'such a girl'...duh).  Six, I think getting a tattoo of yourself on your body as Superman is just fucking stupid (to which he replied with, should you really talk about stupid tattoos?).

    When the waitress puts our food down, I realize I've had entirely too much Saki while trying to ignore Alex's superior snubs and ongoing commentary on his life.  I feel like I've just gotten stuck into an episode of 'the Alex Show', and it's not a place I want to be.  I manage to ask for a water before Alex talks me into tasting eel, which I nearly hurl on the table while he watches impassively only saying, "It takes a superior palate to appreciate."  Way to go from being passive-aggressive superior to outright screaming I'M BETTER THAN YOU; I feel so freaking special.  The California rolls don't agree with me at all, though he still forces me to try them with a pound of wasabi that leaves me downing my water like I’ve been wandering the Sahara for months.  Then he has to go and say, "So what's going on between you and that man-child vampire, anyway."

    I nearly spew my food across the table.  Really, why are we bringing up Godric, again?  He's possibly the one person I want to talk about less than my family.  I kind of just want to forget Godric 90% of the time since he gets me so damn twisted up inside.  When I try to write off our friendship, Alex pushes.  "Because he looks at you like you're something to eat, and he's around you all the time.  I mean, he's a vampire, and I'm not like a fanger hater, but I just want to make sure he isn't pressuring you into anything.  You're too delicate to be hanging around someone like that."

    "He's not pressuring me into anything," I snap defensively.

    "I don't mean to be rude," epic fail, "and I know it's not my business," then stay the hell out of it, "I just don't think he's the best influence.  You're better than just being so fangbanger who sells herself for some incredible sex."

    "I'm not a fangbanger," I hiss.

    He goes on like he didn't hear me, "Everyone thinks their fanger is different.  I just want you to be aware that he's not.  He'll fuck you, drain you, and leave you for dead just like they always do."

    "Godric's not like that, and he wouldn't do that to me," I'm not sure it's true, but for one thing, Godric's not interested in me like that.  Plus, he's arguably my best friend, and no one gets to talk about him like that, especially not someone who's met him once for five minutes.

    "Oh, don't be delusional, Lanie," Alex remarks, putting a hand over mine.  "There's no need to get so defensive, either.  I believe you when you say you're not a fangbanger...yet.  I just want you to know that I'm here for you, baby.  Don't let him pressure you into anything; there's nothing that undead child has that I don't."  Except humility and respect and a brain and a heart and ears and compassion and empathy and...a freaking clue!  Am I missing anything?

    Pain stabs through my stomach, and I drop my chopsticks and get to my feet, "I'll be back."  I say before darting to the bathroom.  I just make it in time to slam the door closed, drop to my knees over my porcelain god, and hurl out blood and raw fish, weakly pulling my hair back with shaking hands.  And I kneel there, throwing up everything I've eaten in what seems like the past week and what feels like most of the blood in my body utterly humiliated and in pain.  I'm angry and embarrassed.  I've been degraded and misjudged and condescended, and, quite honestly, all I want is to go home and curl up under my grandma's afghan with my cats, preferably with Godric holding my hand and comforting me just by sitting beside me not saying anything.

    That won't happen, and it can't happen.

    I flush the physical manifestation of my humiliation down the toilet before standing on shaking legs and stumbling to the sink to clean my face and hands, rinsing out my mouth.  I rest my hands on the sink, fighting the lingering pain before straightening my back and walking out of the bathroom and back to the table where I left my purse.  He smiles when he sees me, and I resist the urge to deck him...yeah, that kind of angry; oddly, it's his assumptions about Godric that pushed me over the edge though, not his comments about me.

    "I didn't think you were coming back," Alex teases.

    I shouldn't have.  Without laughing or even smiling, I sit down against my better judgment and spend the next half hour being mildly insulted, suffering through sexual innuendos, and defending Godric because Alex doesn't seem to know when to let sleeping dogs lie.  Alex, evidently, likes to kick the hornet's nest, and I'm either a masochist or too damned polite since I sit and take everything he dishes out.  When we get up to leave, I can't be happier when he suddenly says, "You're picking up half of the check right?"

    Let me clarify: the $95 check because he couldn't find a more affordable or more...eating friendly place to get dinner.

    Being me, I pick up half of the check and throw down a ten dollar tip for the server for putting up with Alex's subtle digs before storming out of the restaurant while Alex-who spots a business associate of his father's-stops to chat.  And, in a serious moment of deja vu, I finally stop out of a BBQ joint and call Godric who answers on the first ring.

    "Pick me up, take me home, and never let me do anything this moronic again."

    I hear a whoosh as Godric starts moving and the jingle of keys, "Where are you?"

    "Somewhere I never wanted to be," I snort in annoyance, plopping down on the wooden steps of the BBQ place.

    "I am glad that you have found self awareness, but I need a physical place to pick you up from, not an emotional one."

    I sigh, "I don't even know, outside of..." I look up at the neon sign with the giant cartoon cowboy hat, lasso, and cowboy boots on it, "Hal's BBQ Shack."

    "I know the place," he says before the line goes dead, and I sigh.  Not ten minutes later, Godric pulls up in a different car than last time, but I don't even comment, storming over to the car and getting into the passenger seat, slamming the door behind me, crossing my arms over my chest.  Godric doesn't start driving, and I can feel his gaze on me, "How bad was it?"

    "Terrible!"  I say, wiping away tears of indignation with angry motions, "He's a goddamned narcissist with a superiority complex and anti-vampire leanings...or maybe he just hates you."

    "Did he hurt you?"  Godric's voice is so cold it could start a new ice age.

    I shrug and glare out the windshield, trying to ignore the physical, stabbing pain still radiating through my belly.  It's so strong that it completely overpowers the warm tingles that races through my body by Godric's mere presence.  "Not physically," I reply.

    Godric does-always a master of the unexpected-reaches over and hugs me to his chest while I cry silently at how humiliated and angry and hurt I am.  My first date is worse than my fucking senior prom where I got bailed on by my date last minute, got drunk because someone spiked the punch, and ended up throwing up on my second-hand dress that I’d worked hours to afford at McDonald’s because I didn’t want to ask my mom for the money.  He kisses the top of my head, "Sometimes emotional abuse is worse."

    No shit.  When I calm down, I lean back in the seat, pulling my knees to my chest and wrapping my arms around them, burying my face against my legs.  "I never want to see that asshole again," I remark.

    "I'll take care of it," Godric says calmly and tonelessly.

    My head whips up as I glare at him, "I can take care of myself."

    For some reason, this seems to amuse Godric, and he smiles gently at me, nodding, "I know, but you don’t have to.  Let me take care of this, Lanie."

    I hesitate before sighing, "I don't really have a choice, do I?"  Godric's smile widens while I groan, leaning my head back against the seat, and Godric starts the car, "I want to forget that whole fucking experience.  It was terrible."

    Godric smirks at me, and I frown in confusion, studying him cautiously, "We're going somewhere tomorrow night."


    "To help you forget."

    My eyes narrow on him, "And I don't have to dress up?"  He shakes his head.  "And you won't spend the whole night commenting on how beneath you I am?"  His hands tighten on the steering wheel while he shakes his head.  "And you won't make me eat raw fish that costs a ridiculous amount and then make me pay for it?"

    Godric smiles, "You will be lucky if I let you pay for a stick of gum."

    Frowning at him, I let it go and shake my head, "I don't chew gum, but fine.  I trust you not to piss me off too badly.  I do have one request."


    "Can we stop so I can eat, because my sensitive stomach does not like California rolls or eel."

    Godric laughs quietly and shakes his head, "Of course, Lanie, I will not let you starve."  Five minutes later, we pull into the parking lot of my favorite hole-in-the-wall pizza place, and I look over at Godric with a watery smile, trying not to cry.  It hits me then, someone up there must really love me to let me have him, even if it's just as friends and even if just for a little while.

Chapter Text

"What's wrong with hockey?"  I ask, crossing my arms over my chest defensively, narrowing my eyes on Godric.

    He shrugs innocently, and I kick him angrily, "I don’t recall saying anything."

    "Doesn't matter Godric!  You had that look," I point at him dramatically.

    Shaking his head, Godric fights a smile, "I do not have a look."

    I roll my eyes and cross my arms over my chest, "I know goddamn it!  It's so frustrating that you always look so gosh darn impassive all the time.  But, I'm talking about your eyes; eyes are the window to the soul, you know."  Godric smiles at me and rolls his eyes so I kick him again, "I know that hockey's a little violent, Ghandi, but that's why I enjoy it.  A little bit of regulated aggression never hurt anyone."

    Godric shakes his head, "Tell that to the Gladiators."

    "They're the exception!"  I say to him, shaking my head and crossing my legs to sit criss-cross applesauce and leaning back against the brick wall of the hotel while taking another bite of my cheesecake.  Godric had insisted cheesecake is not for dinner, but I'd won the battle with surprising ease, though I'd forgone dinner for a quick dessert so that we could get to whatever activity Godric had planned that much faster, "Okay," I say when a swallow, fork hovering in front of my mouth, "music."

    Rolling his eyes at that oh-so-obvious answer, he continues flicking through my sketchbook, "Fighting."

    I blink, not entirely unsurprised, "What kind of fighting?"

    A shockingly savage and self-satisfied grin spreads across Godric's face, "Any kind of fighting.  I have a fascination with warfare and have since early in my childhood; I spent centuries mastering fighting skills and tracking.  My fascination with fighting is what drew me to Eric and caused me to turn him."

    "I've always wanted to learn how to fight; I really wanted to take Krav Maga.  I hear it's like 'dirty streetfighting', or something like that," I smile widely at him, taking another bite of my cheesecake.

    Godric nods, "I will teach you, if you truly want to learn."

    Pausing, I look at him before swallowing hard, not quite sure how to say that would be great but you can't actually hit me harder than a poke because I have terminal leukemia and bruise ridiculously easily...oh, and I have a sharp stabbing pain radiating in my stomach that persists no matter how many painkillers I seem to take.  Instead, I deflect, "Imagery."

    "Imagery?"  Godric asks, confused, aware that I deflected but unwilling to press it.

    Biting my lip, I nod at him with a cheeky smile, "Photography, sketching, and graphic design."

    Nodding in understanding, Godric thinks for a moment before saying, "Languages."

    "How many do you actually know?"

    "Fluently?  I'm not quite sure: Gaulish, Latin, Swedish, French, Spanish, German...a fair few."

    I stare him before grinning, "That's so fucking cool."

    "I do not know Haitian Creole."

    Grinning at him, I swallow the last bite of my cheesecake, "I'll teach you.  Li pral amizan."  Godric looks at me questioningly, and my grin grows more pronounced, "It'll be fun."

    "Pas facile,"  (Not easy)  Godric comments in French with excitement and interest.

    Rolling my eyes at his shockingly childlike enthusiasm, I nod and reply in Creole, "Pa gen, no, it won't be.  Croele is...well, I'm glad I learned it in childhood."

    Godric shrugs, smiling cheekily, "I have time."

    But I don't.  I roll my eyes at him, pursing my lips before finally coming up with another one of my interests/hobbies, "History."

    For a moment, Godric just looks at me before a small, knowing smile flits across his face one second before he's suddenly up and standing in front of me, hauling me to my feet.  "I know, are you finished?"

    "Yep, but I kind of don't think I really had a choice," I say to him as he takes the trash from me.

    "You always have a choice, Lanie.  Quite honestly-" he begins before stopping, shaking his head and grabbing my hand as he leads me through the hotel.  I want to ask him what he'd nearly said but don't.  We stop at his room so he can toss my cheesecake container in the trash before we head out; I spare a single glance at the concierge desk to see someone I've never met before standing behind the counter, and I frown but don't ask any questions about where Alex has gone even though I know in my heart of hearts that Godric has something to do with it.  A car is waiting on the curb, and Godric opens the door for me to get in before using his speed to move to the other side of the car quickly.

    I frown at him as he gets into the driver's seat, "Do you actually have a driver's license?"

    Godric grins at me, and I blink at him, my smile growing in response to his childlike amusement, "Do you really want to know?"

    My smile falls, and I blink at him, " know what, I'm good.  I don't need to know everything."

    "Sometimes not knowing everything is for the best," Godric replies solemnly.

    Swallowing hard, I nod my head before turned to look at him, "Where are we going?"

    "Why would I tell you that?"

    "I will cut you," I snap dramatically with my 'ghetto fabulous' voice.

    Godric scoffs, "You would not get close enough to breathe on me."

    "Fuck you, I'll find away!"  Godric shoots me a pointed look before he rolls his eyes; I heave an exasperated sigh, "You're such a teenager sometimes."

    Godric smirks, "I am a teenager."

    "Whatever," I scoff, "you're 16 going on 2000...literally."

    He hides a smile, "What did you do today?:

    "Slept, ate, got harassed by my cats, went to work, and..." I trail off  before I give myself away.  After all, I don't want to tell him that I left work early to have my will notarized by a lawyer.


    "And finished up my tattoo sketch."

    Godric glances over at me, but I don't meet his eyes as my fingers play with the necklace he'd given me for my depressingly awful date.  I'd fallen asleep with the old wood and leather necklace on and hadn't taken it off since.  It's pretty unsettling to realize that after only twenty-four hours, my body had become so attached to the necklace to the point where I incorporated it into my fidgetting, but I think it has less to do with the piece of jewelry and more to do with the fact that it‘s Godric‘s.  His eyes focus on where my hands play with the pendant, and he gives me a long, inscrutable look before focusing back on the road.

    We stop ten minutes later in a nearly empty parking lot, and I peer out of the window before my mouth breaks out in a wide smile as I let out a squeal, reaching across the consol to hug Godric quickly before scrambling out of the car.  Pausing, I stare up with wide eyes at the history museum, looking over my shoulder to see Godric watching me from the driver's side door with amusement on his face.  I blow a few curly strands of wayward hair out of my face, crossing my arms over my chest to frown seriously at Godric but fail when a smile breaks out over my face.  "Do we get to go in or are we just going to stand out here and stare at the building all night?"

    "Do you want to go in?  I thought you were displeased with what I had planned," he replies lightly, the closest I've ever heard him come to sarcastic in the time I've known him.

    "Dude, I'm a couple feet away from the World War II exhibit that's closing in three days.  I'm not playing with you; get your ass over here so we can go in!"

    The next thing I know, Godric scoops me up and throws me over his shoulder, knocking the wind out of me and abruptly ending my excited yelling.  I cough and slam futilely against his back before slumping over as he walks through the doors.  He nods hello to the night guard on duty who nods back and calls him sheriff before abruptly shaking his head and stumbling over an apology.  Godric acknowledges the apology with only a look and a slight shrug, both of them acting like carrying an eighteen year old human girl over his shoulder is a completely normal occurrence.  Then again, who knows?  For vampires, it just might be.  With a whoosh, we suddenly enter a dark exhibit, and he finally sets me on my feet just as the lights flicker on.

    For a moment, the world spins as the blood rushes back to my extremities, and my dizziness from his run subsides; I blink away the lights in my eyes from the pain in my stomach that he, unknowingly, agitated.  Taking I deep breath, I finally open my eyes and ignore the pain, glaring at Godric who just seems amused, "Fast enough?"

    Throwing my hands up in the air, I groan, spinning around to see the World War II exhibit that I've been salivating over the last two months it had been here.  Unfortunately, fighting cancer and paying medical bills comes before personal desires like wanting to see a World War II exhibit.  Swallowing hard, I look around the room with wide eyes not realizing I'd grabbed onto Godric's necklace until his hand grips mine and pulls it away to hold in his.  My attention turns to the vampire, and I grin widely at him, pulling him along to the entrance of the exhibit.

    "I have a system," I inform him, "and if you fuck up my system, I will fuck up your face."

    "That seems extreme," Godric teases while I poke him in the side and shake my head, unable to keep the ridiculous smile off of my face.

    "Whatever, how did you even know I'd wanted to see this exhibit forever?" I ask him dramatically.

    "You told me," Godric replies.

    Blinking, I pause from reading a plaque to stare at him in confusion trying to remember when I mentioned that before it hits me.  Tilting my head to the side, I frown at him.  "Yeah, in passing, are you always that attentive or am I just that memorable?"  It's a joke, but Godric gives me a serious look.

    "I always listen to what you say, Melanie.  You never cease to surprise me.  It's a feeling I haven't felt since in a very long time."

    My mouth opens to reply, but I close it again.  What can I really say to follow up that particular admission?  Nothing really comes to mind so I stay silent, turning my attention back to the exhibit.  It's an extensive mix of objects taken and found in concentration camps and Nazi offices that paints a picture of the horrific world created by the Nazi party during world war two.  There's piles of suitcases with names written on them in crayon and pencil, shoes tied together, hair cut from the victims, and even a model of what part of the prisoner barracks looked like.  There are pictures of the camps and stories from survivors about life and their captors, but when we get to a photo and some information about the SS, Godric hesitates while I look at him questioningly.  He shakes it off and comes to stand beside me, but not before I catch the haunted look in his eyes that never translates onto his impassive face.

    "I was in the SS," Godric tells me when I finish reading.

    I've always known Godric had a sketchy past.  He tried to commit suicide and offer himself up as a sacrificial lamb to an anti-vampire cult to achieve redemption for his sins, which is an action only someone with a truly dark past would attempt.  Then again, I've never really thought about the things he‘d done, because I can also see there's a catalyst there that turned him into the monster I have little doubt he was.  I’d never really considered that he’d been a part of history like that; though, I guess an emotionless, remorseless vampire with no belief in right and wrong would probably have a field day when something like the Holocaust happened.  It doesn't surprise me, but it still leaves me a little taken aback.  Unsure what to say, I settle on, "Oh," before my hand moves up to wrap about Godric's necklace of its own accord.

    "Eric and I were in the SS looking for a she-wolf connected to the murder of Eric's family, and we found her..." I have a feeling of dread settle into the pit of my stomach beside the sharp, persisting pain that I know my doctor would freak out about.  Right now, I'm more concerned with where he's going with this story.  "In Ausburg, Germany."

    I cross my arms over my body, curling in protectively around myself while Godric turns to look at me, but, terrified of what he has to say and unwilling to look into his eyes as he says it, I look down at my feet, the pendant gripped in my hands so tightly that my knuckles turn white.

    "I didn't kill your grandfather, Lanie, I swear it."  I let out a breath of relief that I didn't even realize I'd been holding.  As amazing and wonderful and attractive and safe as Godric is and makes me feel, I just don't know if I could remain friends with the man who was responsible for the death of the love of my grandma's life.  "But I was there when he was killed.  I saw him die, Eric and I did."

    "Did Eric kill him?"  I snap at Godric without meaning to.

    "No," Godric sighs while I tight my arms around myself, looking up at him when he seems to be struggling for words.  He meets my gaze unflinchingly, and I see the guilt there.  For some reason, the guilt makes me relax infinitesimally, and I let out a shaky breath while Godric does the same.  "It was the she-wolf we were tracking.  We tracked her to that house in Ausburg, and we got there only moments after your grandfather."

    Godric hesitates, meeting my eyes, and I swallow, wanting the closure for my grandma.  Wanting someone in the world, in our family, to know what happened to the man she'd loved who'd died of an 'animal attack' during war.  I loosen my hold of myself, taking a small step closer to Godric and shifting my weight from foot to foot, "What happened to my grandfather, Godric?"

    "Eric wanted to charge right in, but I told him to wait, see what she would do.  Your grandfather entered and found her in a closet.  We watched.  He offered her help and went to take of his coat to clothe her when he realized she was naked and cold.  But, when he turned to take off his coat, she changed into a wolf and attacked him.  She tore out his throat and began to eat him.  By the time Eric and I intervened, your grandfather was already dead."

    We remain quiet, looking at each other while I try to process this information.  I don't cry, and I'm not sure I'm supposed to.  I never met the man and have no reason to, but I want to cry for my grandmother who lost someone she loved.  I want to blame Godric for being heartless and not intervening to stop the she-wolf before she'd killed my grandfather, but I'm not sure if I can.  In a disturbing, twisted way, I'm glad he didn't, because, from Ajax's tales of Godric's sordid past and what I little Godric's inferred about his history as a vampire, I'm not sure if saving him from the she-wolf would have kept him alive.  And I feel better knowing the she-wolf killed my grandfather out of hunger knowing that Godric had killed him because he was human and saw what he shouldn't have.

    "Did you actually learn anything, or did my grandfather die for nothing?"  I ask tersely just because I need a distraction to get my thoughts together.

    Oddly, Godric answers, though I didn‘t think he would, "We did."

    "What happened?"  Honestly, trying to get information out of Godric is like pulling teeth.

    "Eric and I intervened after she killed him, and she tried to attack Eric but I stabbed her mid-lunge and pinned her to the wall with your grandfather's gun.  She turned back into a human, and when Eric demanded to know who her master was she refused unless he gave her some of his blood."  Godric scowls, and I fight a smile at the sight, remembering his occasional comments about how 'blood is sacred' and none of his progeny had ever really embraced the one lesson he wished they would have.

    "He gave her some?"

    Godric nods, "Unfortunately, yes, and she revealed that her master was a vampire."

    I raise an eyebrow, "Really?"

    "Eric was shocked too, and, in his shock, she managed to break free and attack him.  I broke her neck to save him," Godric informs me.

    "Did you ever find out who did it?  Who her master was?"

    "No, with time, we might have, but Eric is far to impulsive.  His lack of patience put us at odds, and we parted ways soon after that incident, though I suppose he is still looking."  I nod, uncrossing my arms and putting my hands in the back pockets of my jeans.  Awkwardly, I rock back and forth on the balls of my feet with my eyes on Godric who's face remains impassive even as his eyes reveal a man drowning in guilt.  2000 years and he's managed to learn to school his facial expression but not his eyes.  Just when I gather the strength to speak, Godric does first, "I was a monster, Lanie.  I killed indiscriminately.  I hunted humans for sport, and I cared very little for the lives of any other being.  In 2000 years, I had very little friends and only ever truly cared about my progeny.  I had no feelings, Lanie, no regard for human life.  I killed, and I fed, and I fought because I could and I wanted to.  Then, I taught my progeny to do the same."

    "It's okay, Godric," I whisper, laughing humorlessly and wiping tears from my cheeks.  "I forgive you," I shrug.

    "I do not deserve forgiveness for the things I've done and the thousands I've killed and allowed to be killed."

    "Oh, fuck you, Godric," I snap at him angrily.  "Who are you to decide that?  We all make mistakes, and am I upset that you watched my grandfather be killed and did nothing?  Yes, but I guess I understand it.  You weren't in a good place, and it may have taken you 2000 years to work through it, but you got there."  I walk over to him and wrap my arms around his waist, "Now you need to forgive yourself like I‘ve been telling you for weeks, because everyone else already has."

    My body sings at the touch, becoming electric when he hesitantly, wraps his arms around me, pulling me close to him.  We stand there for a minute, wrapped up in each other, each of us fighting our own demons.  He leans back and kisses my forehead before resting his own forehead against mine.  He murmurs something in a language I've never heard before I lean back, shaking off the situation and smiling at him softly, "Now, spill the beans, were all the Nazi's as coo-coo bananas as I think they were?  And what was Germany like?"

    Godric laughs a little as the corners of his lips lift up as he looks down at me, "Always so curious."

    I bump my hip against his, "Of course, spill, because I find World War II sad but fascinating.  I mean, how does a whole country allow a madman to take over and systematically destroy an entire ethnic group?”  Kind of like Steve Newlin and the Fellowship of the Sun…  “How did the Jews allow that to happen?  How did so many people get so caught up in the Nazi party message?  Were all the Nazis as morally ambiguous as they’re assumed to be?  You have answers, I have questions, and we've got lots of time."

    Godric sighs, "Where do I start?"

    Three hours later, we've seen the whole museum and spent most of the evening picking Godric's brain and listening to his commentary on the museum's take on history and various historical figures he actually met.  He stops at my apartment, and I hesitate, looking over my shoulder at him, reluctant to end the night.  "You want to come in?"  And I fall asleep on the couch curled up under an afghan with Godric, my cats, and while watching reruns of Vampire Diaries.  It's wonderful and incredible, and even the cancer induced pain in my stomach is telling me that this will come back to bite me in the ass.

Chapter Text

"911 what's your emergency?"

    I hate that line 'whats your emergency'.  It makes me sound like some kind of psyche patient that's gone a little off the deep end and is now crying for police assistance when none is needed.  And I know that's it's supposed to be polite and everything, but when I'm crouched over the toilet, too weak to stand and too in pain to move even an inch, then had to crawl across my floor slowly and painfully to reach my cell phone, I don't want my operator to do 'polite' and make me feel crazy.  Quite honestly, when I feel this bad what I want is to damn life and damn my pact with Godric and damn anyone and anything I can think of, take razor blade to my wrist, and wallow in self-pity.

     I knew the cancer would spread-and had been spreading-to the rest of my body.  I knew that it would invade my other organ systems and taint them the same way it had done to my blood.  What I never counted on was how quickly it would be.  I never counted on the level of pain that I'd experience.  And I certainly never counted on the fact that when my doctor had said at most six months to live if your lucky, hadn't actually been a joke.  From the moment I'd woken up in tears, the pain in my stomach pulsating and radiating through every facet of my being, I'd known that I was dying.

    You never realize that there's a difference between knowing you're dying and knowing you're dying until the Grim Reaper is staring you in the face, scythe in hand, and inky cloak billowing in nonexistent wind.  However, the nausea had overridden the pain in my stomach and driven me from bed where I'd promptly collapsed onto the floor, too weak to stand.  Carefully, I'd pulled myself to my feet and stumbled to the bathroom on shaking limbs before landing heavily on a heap in front of the toilet where I'd puked again and again and again, each and every time depositing crimson liquid into the water.  I was shivering and sweating while my muscles felt achy and foreign.  I couldn't feel anything but tingling in my extremities and the pain in my body had become so potent that tears spilled down my cheeks.  That was when I'd realized that I needed my cell phone; I'd risen to my feet only to fall again and proceeded to collapse to the ground with a grunt of pain.  This had led to me painfully using my nail to propel me in a crawl across the floor to reach my cell phone, which thankfully had 911 on speed dial since I don't think I would have been able to dial the numbers with my shaking fingers, which brings me to this.

    Instead of going with the atypical, strangled out of my throat answer of 'I'm dying' as 'my emergency', I go ahead and say what's technically wrong with me.  "I've been throwing up blood for the last forty-five minutes, have a stabbing pain in my stomach that radiates up through my body.  My whole body is shaking, my fingers are numb, and I can't stand on me feet.  I have shivers and cold sweats.  Oh…I also was diagnosed a few weeks ago with terminal leukemia."

    Anubis comes over and nuzzles his head up against my arm, lying beside me comfortingly while Mufasa perches on the couch and meows at me mournfully like ‘I'm going to miss you when you’re dead‘.  Thanks for the assessment, Mufasa; I love you too.  The operator pauses, obviously unsure of what to say in response to that.  It's a wonder anyone gets to the hospital in time.  I don't know if she's shocked about my mile long list of symptoms or that I listed them the way I did, but, regardless, you'd think a 911 operator would be a little more snappy with the feedback.  I'm not going to die any slower just because an ambulance arrives, but someone else might.

    Finally, she seems to remember her one time night course training and says, "Ok ma'am, keep calm, an ambulance will be on the way...where is you location?"

    I rattle off my address before slumping against the floor to wait for the ambulance.  I'm actually pretty impressed with how quickly they get there, but I'm considerably less impressed when they knock on the front door.  I call out that I can't move, and moments later they're in the house and moving quickly to crouch over me.  Satisfied, I suppose, that I've been found by the proper authorities, I ignore their shouts for me to stay with them and blissfully lapse into unconsciousness.

Coming to hurts more than passing out, because when passing out you're in some kind of delirious daydream that reminds of you of a cross between Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and a V induced illusion.  Waking up comes with the realization that you're in deep shit, and-most importantly-the hospital called your emergency contact while you'd been unconscious.  For most people, that’s a good thing, but for me, it means that, in my absence, the doctor has informed one of my best friends that I'm dying...oh the joy.

     Tristan sits on a chair opposite the bed, with a McDonald's bag resting in his lap and the midday sunlight spilling in from the windows.  His dance instructor would have a heart attack if he saw Tristan with McDonalds.  I clear my throat, and Tristan’s eyes flicker open to meet mine.  There is blankness at first before everything seems to click, and he's up, out of his seat to wrap his arms around me while I wince wishing that whatever dose of painkillers they'd given me had been higher.  On the plus side, the pain had subsided to a sharp but not overwhelming pain, my shivering had stopped, and the nausea had disappeared.

    Pulling back, Tristan looks down on me with tears in his eyes.  "Jesus, Lanie, you had us all in a panic.  Do you have any idea what was like?  I was in class when suddenly the receptionist runs into the room, hands me a phone, and says it's urgent.  And you know what you doctor said to me?"  His voice is rising angrily, and I can guess what's coming, but I shake my head anyway and look down to my bare neck.  My hand flies to my throat, where the hell is Godric's necklace?  "He said your cancer had spread 'alarmingly quickly' and that you 'had less time than originally anticipated', and then, I felt like a jackass because I didn't know my best friend, the girl who's like my fucking sister, is dying!  God, Lanie, what's wrong with you?"

    I shrug, looking over at the bedside table for any sign of the necklace when Tristan suddenly reaches into his pocket and holds it out to me.  I exhale in relief, taking it from his fingers to clutch tightly in my hand, "I'm sorry, Tris."

    "Did anyone know?"  And by 'anyone', I know he means 'Godric'.  And I can't blame him for wanting to know.  I've known Tristan for nearly two and half years, and, unless I was pissed, we never really talked about me and what was going on in my life.  Yes, I ranted about my crazy mother, but I usually have such a careful hold over my emotions that no one really understood anything about how I felt, sometimes myself included, purposefully.  Godric seems to know more about me than I do, which Tristan had obviously picked up on.  It would have pissed me off too.

    Sighing, I shake my head and grab Tristan's shaking hand in mine, "No, Tristan.  I swear to you, no one knew."

    Tristan breathes out and seems to try to hold back tears, "Why wouldn't you tell me, Lanie."

    I've never really thought about it, so I don't this time either; instead, I just open my mouth and speak from the heart…or out my ass, "I guess I thought that if I said something, that would make it true, make it real, and I didn't want it to be.  Besides, I knew I had very little time; I wanted to die normal, not with people looking at me like you are now.  Like I'm on my deathbed and you're trying to be strong for me.  I wanted to spend my last months normal and happy, not with friends who are walking on eggshells trying not to cry."

    "You didn't think we deserved to know?"  Tristan snaps angrily, and I shrug.

    "Of course you did; but didn't I deserve to choose when?  Didn't I deserve to have a little happiness before I kicked the bucket?  I'm too young to die, Tristan, and I don't need any help to realize that."

    Tristan nods in understanding but reaches over to hug me tightly just as there's a timid knock on the door.  He wipes the tears from his cheeks and leans back, "I bet it's the good doctor.  Come on in."

    The door opens to reveal none other than my oncologist, Dr. Stanley Newcomb.  Newcomb is ridiculously nice and seems to be lacking the god complex so common to doctor's, which I'm not sure is good or bad.  Regardless, his passion for work but ability to be both blunt and honest were what made me choose him for an oncologist in the first place.  He's in his early fifties and probably was quite the looker in his heyday; he still has a thick head of hair that's slowly becoming snowy white.  He's pale with electric blue eyes, thick glasses, and a perpetually jovial smile despite the fact that he spends his days working with cancer patients.  I do admire that kind of tenacity.

    "Good afternoon, Miss Hawthorne."

    "I'm in the hospital, doc," I reply, shaking my head.

    Dr. Newcomb frowns, "I understand.  Let's cut to the chase here, hmm?"  I scowl but nod slowly as Tristan settles back into the chair across from me.  "Have you been taking any medication?"

    "Is that important?"  I say by word of reply; it's not like there's any meds out there that can really combat terminal cancer.

    "Absolutely," Dr. Newcomb says, "because I'm trying to piece together a timeline of your cancer, it would help if I knew you were self-medicating on painkillers."

    I sigh and roll my eyes, "It's not like that, doc.  I'm not addicted to opiates, I'm not going to turn into Gregory House."  Dr. Newcomb seems amused while Tristan rolls his eyes at me, "If you're talking about the stomach pain, I started feeling it pretty soon after you told me the news, but it was just an ache.  I thought I had bug since I’d started throwing up."

    "You threw up blood and thought you had a stomach bug?"  Dr. Newcomb asks blankly.

    "I mean I knew the blood was because of the leukemia; I just thought that the ache and the nausea were an unrelated issue that the cancer was exploiting," I tell the doctor.  Not exactly true, but I doubt the doctor wants to know that I knew his original timeline of my death had been off and the cancer had spread so I’d weathered through the pain as best as I could.  However, in retrospect, since I hadn’t known how quickly it was spreading maybe I shouldn’t have com in…or called at the very least.  Though, I was a bit distracted

    "And the pain pills?"

    "I only started taking them a week or so ago to get rid of the ache."

    "Did they?"

    "Yes," I reply.

    "How many did you take?"

    "One a day...for a while."

    "For a while?"

    I shrug and look down at Godric's necklace that I'm playing with absentmindedly in my hands, "It got stronger and stopped working so I took two a day."

    "And that made the pain go away?"

    Flushing, I shake my head, "No, so I yesterday I took one every couple hours, and the pain stopped but, obviously, came back."

    Dr. Newcomb looks at me dryly, "Obviously."  I glare at him while he writes something down on the clipboard in his hands before putting it down on the edge of my bed and looking down at me hesitantly, "Melanie."

    "Dr. Newcomb," I reply with a strength in my voice that I hadn't been sure I had.  "Just tell me straight, I can take it."

    "Your friend allowed us to run some tests while you were unconscious, and we discovered your cancer has metastasized a lot quicker than originally estimated."  I nod, but this isn't news to me.  I know my body a hell of a lot better than my doctors do, plus I saw cancer up close and personal with my grandma, though, admittedly, that was lung cancer, which isn‘t exactly the same thing.  "The cancer has spread to your bone marrow again, smaller intestine-which explains the pain in you abdomen, and, unfortunately, your lymph nodes.  I estimate it will spread to you throat in the next week or so and will reach you heart in the next-"

    "I know, doc," I tell him sadly.  "Everyone knows that once it reaches the lymph nodes that you're in deep shit.  Just tell me how long you really think I have."

    "A month," Dr. Newcomb says while I let out a breath with a whoosh, taken by surprise to hear it spoken aloud, "knowing you, I'd say two at most."

    "Damn it," I shake my head, "I don't have enough time."

    "I'm so sorry your life's been cut so shor-" Dr. Newcomb begins sympathetically.

    I cut him off, panic rising in me, "I meant to get the money together."  Tristan and Dr. Newcomb just looked shell-shocked, "I can't let my family pay for my disease."

    "Jesus, Lanie," Tristan says.

    "How often have you been working?"  Dr. Newcomb asks carefully.

    I shrug, "Nearly everyday.  I work nights, two days on, two days off at Hotel Camilla as a maid, and day shift at Sound Bites six days a week.

    Dr. Newcomb shakes his head, "If you drastically cut back your hours you can lengthen your time, Miss Hawthorne.  Stress from that much work certainly isn‘t helping."

    I shake my head, "I can't."


    "No, Tristan," I tell him forcefully.  "I won't be one of those people who leave my family with thousands of dollars of debt after my death.  Besides, I‘ll be bored and go crazy."

    "But the stress and exhaustion-"

    "Don't care."


    "Tristan!  Shut up, end of story, anything else, doc?"

    My doctor sighs, "I want to keep you here overnight and tomorrow for observations and testing.  We'll figure out painkillers for you that work, and I want to give you a prescription for a numbing fluid for when the cancer spreads to your esophagus."  Sighing, I nod, too tired to argue, "I can set you up with Hospice is you want."

    Pausing, I bite my lip, "I suppose I could talk to them."  The doctor nods before giving my arm a comforting squeeze and leaving the room; I turn my attention to Tristan before cutting him off, "Can you feed my cats today and tomorrow?"  He hesitates, "No, Tristan, I don't want to argue.  Just feed my cats, please?"

    I call work and take off my next two days at Hotel Camilla and don't bother calling Joey, knowing that Tristan probably spilled the beans, and Joey's taken me off until I get doctor approval to take a shit.  I spend the next night and day ignoring my mother's calls, ignoring my brother's calls, and ignoring my friends’ calls.  Tristan and Javi flit in and out sneaking me in decent food since the only hospital food I can stomach is cherry Jello, and Joey makes an appearance to yell at me on behalf of both him and Ajax before breaking down into tears and hugging me for an two hours straight while we watch Bridezillas.  Before I know it, it's 2:00 in the morning, and I'm blissed out on Jello that a nurse snuck into me quoting Juno as the characters perform their lines.

    "That ain't no Etch-A-Sketch.  That's one dizzle that can be un-did, homeskillet," I murmur along with the characters when a whoosh, suddenly draws my attention to the door where Godric stands, uncertainly, staring at me with pain in his eyes.  I blink and try to smile at him, "Um...hi."

    The next thing I know, he's standing by my beside, looking down at me, and I jump, looking down at my hands and remaining silent.  "I asked you once what was wrong with you, and you said nothing."

    I shook my head, "I didn't say anything, Godric.  You assumed it was nothing."

    "I assumed you would tell me if it was serious."

    "You assumed wrong," I reply coldly, fighting the warm, tingles that hummed through my battered, achy body and the butterflies fluttering around in the pit of my stomach.  If there was one person on this earth that I would go to the ends of the Earth to keep this from, it was Godric.  He needed to go, now.  Our friendship had gone too damn far.  I was growing attached to him, and I had a couple months at most to live  The games were over.  I wanted-and needed-out.

    But damn if that boy's not persistent.

    "Stop that, I thought we had agreed I am not going anywhere," Godric comments tersely.

    I snort and cross my arms over my chest, focusing my attention on the television, "What the fuck ever, it's not always about you, Godric.  If I'm being a bitch, it's not my fault.  You assumed there was more trust in this 'friendship' than there actually was.  Now, if you're done; I'm tired and you're annoying me."

    "Enough," Godric says, suddenly appearing on the bed in front of me, crouched down right in front of my face to stare into my eyes.  I swallow hard  but fight to keep my face twisted in annoyance and irritation; his eyes soften as he reaches out to cup my cheek, resting his forehead against mine.  I close my eyes, my body relaxing as I fight back a sob, "That is enough.  Do you realize how...concerned I was?"  I look down at my hands, neither of us moving until Godric reaches up with his other hand to hold it to my face, his thumb moving gently against my cheekbones, "Your boss said you called out sick for the next two days.  Your apartment was unlocked, and you weren't there.  But I could smell the blood, Lanie, your blood.  Do you know how worried I was?  Did you not think to call me?"

    "How did you even know I was here?"  I remark, not ready to touch his last question.

    Godric's eyes meet mine with incredulity in them, "Where else would a sick human be?"

    Excellent question, one point for the vampire.  I had thought to call him, but I'm dying, quickly, and it's past time to distance myself from him.  That would be easier if he wasn't here since he seems to be able to read me like a book, which is disconcerting for sure.  Besides, he'd been gone the last couple days to go see Eric who'd called him to help with a radical, but apparently quite powerful vampire, named Russell.  I  didn't ask, but Godric had said that he didn't know when he'd be back.  "I thought you were in Shrevport."

    "You still should have called me; besides, I got back today."  I nod, trying to move away from him, put some distance between us so I can think, but he holds strong, "What's wrong with you?"  I hesitate, "Do not lie to me, Lanie, please."

    It's the please that gets to me, and I swallow back a sob, "I have cancer, Godric.  Leukemia, and it's spreading."

    Godric blinks in surprise while my whole body shuts down, pushing him away, and this time he allows it, moving the window to stare out at the night sky.  He nods, "They can fix that.  You can-"

    "I've tried," I shake my head, and he whirls around to look at me.  "I'm terminal, Godric.  Nothing they can do is going to fix me."

    "How long?"

    "I don't know, two months at most."

    "No," he asks, anger flickering in the back of his eyes.  "How long have you known?"

    I swallow hard, "Since the night you tried to kill yourself."

    "And you didn’t think I would want to know?"

    "I didn't think it mattered!" Lie.

    "Of course it matters," Godric says in exasperation.

    "We barely knew each other.  What right did you have to know?  Nobody knew!"

    "Why did you not tell me?  Really?"

    Sighing, I lean back against the wall, "That would have made it real.  I'm ready to die, Godric, but I'm not ready to let go of my life."

    "You are done fighting?"

    I shake my head, "I'm done fighting the inevitable, but I'm sure as hell gonna fight to live.  I want to live, but I'm resigned to die.  And I wanted my life to be as normal and as happy as possible before I died.  I never meant to know you, Godric.  It just happened, and it shouldn't have."

    "You were trying to let go of me before I discovered this?"

    I shrug, seeing no point in lying since he‘ll see right through the bullshit, "Yes."

    Godric grits his teeth in frustration, "Do I mean so little to you?  Are you so blind?"

    What the hell are you going on about, Godric?  I don't say that because he's frustrated enough without me adding fuel to the fire, and I stick with everyone's favorite fallback line, "I'm sorry."  But it's a lie, I did everything I did to protect myself from getting hurt just like I've always done.  However, unlike every other person I've ever met, Godric doesn't let it go and move on; he pushes and refuses to let go, and I can't understand why.  I am sorry he doesn't just move on and let me live out my last month in peace the way I want to.  I'm sorry we're having this conversation.

    Like he's read my mind, Godric shoots me a hard, disapproving look.  "You don't think I have a right to be upset," he says this flatly but with a slight undertone of incredulity.

    "No!"  I finally say, "I'm the one who's dying.  And you've known me for, what? A few days?"

    "Nearly a month."

    "God!  Whatever!  Why is it any of your business?"

    Godric shakes his head, his face hard; he's obviously still pissed, "Are you done fighting then?"

    "Of course not!  Is it such a crime that I don't want to die bald, puking every few minutes, and with my insides feeling like they spontaneously combusted when it's not going to do a damn thing.  I want die a shadow of myself, Godric."

    "That is not what I meant, Melanie.  You will die alone?  You push away the people who care about you.  Are you even sure you want to fight, because I don’t think you are."

    Tears stream down my face, "Nobody needs to get hurt.  Some burdens I want to carry alone."

    "You don’t have to, and you are hurting people anyway. It is not your choice to make whether the people who care about you suffer with you.  You do not even realize how much more it hurts watching you push them away.  You are afraid of getting hurt by the people you care about, but if you stopped fighting maybe you would realize we are not like your family.  I-we-are not going anywhere."  

    I shake my head, "I'm sorry, okay.  But I don't know how to let anyone in."

    Godric exhales sharply before he's in front of me again, pressing his forehead against mine and wrapping his arms around me tightly, "What are you doing to me?"

    Choking out a laugh, I shake my head, "What the hell are you talking about now?"

    "I have seen and dealt death for hundreds of years, and I have never experienced this.  I don't know what to do with these...feelings."

    Bemused, I look up at him, "What you've never cared about someone whose mortality is an issue?"

    It’s a joke, but Godric looks completely serious when he says, deadpanned, "No."

    The confession shouldn't shock me given Godric's less than complementary vision of himself and his past; that being said, I feel shocked and unsettled just the same for a moment before fighting a smile.  Shaking my head, I rest my arms lightly around his neck and decide that's enough confessions for tonight, "Godric?  When I die-"

    "You are not going to die," he says somewhat uncertainly with something brewing behind the words.

    "Will you take my cats?"  Godric just stares at me for a minute, seeming to be deciphering whether or not I'm serious, "They really like you."  I pout while I say this, still slighted about how my cats had ignored me to pay singular attention to him the day I‘d introduced them.

    Godric breaks out into laughter, and after a minute, I do too.

Chapter Text

Godric says no to Hospice, pretty forcefully, and I know he means well but that doesn't mean I don't want to choke him for being so domineering all of the sudden.  He also steals both my prescriptions, has a whispered conversation with my doctor (who looks positively cheeky afterwards), and cons my overprotective friends into letting him be the one to take me home.  They all look pleased with themselves while I am hungry, in pain, nauseous, and cranky, and, therefore, I shoot them all a righteous glare and march out of the hospital ignoring Dr. Newcomb's instance that it's hospital policy to wheel me out.  Bite me.

     Suddenly, Godric lifts me over his shoulder, calling back to the boys and my oh-so-merry oncologist that he's got me.  I don't know what happened to the perpetually tense/guilty/depressed version of Godric, but after his sudden bout of genuine laughter last night (that left me questioning whether or not he'd ever actually laughed before in his life, really laughed anyway) he suddenly seems peaceful as opposed to just quiet and relaxed as opposed to taut and tensely alert.  It's a nice change that I probably would have been more enthusiastic about had I not felt like the brunt of a giant joke.  Regardless, I aim a well placed kick towards where I assume Godric's crotch is, but he runs to the car and drops me into the passenger's seat before my foot even falls.

    I exhale in a puff and glare at the ancient teen who just radiates satisfaction...asshole.  "You didn't have to do that, Godric," he shrugs and weaves into the Dallas traffic, navigating it with disconcerting ease, the speedometer not dropping below 70 mph.  I glare at him, "Hey, Edward Cullen, can we slow down so I don't die a pancake, please?  Thank you."

    Godric grimaces but slows down, " was horribly inaccurate."

    Inadvertently, a giggle escapes me as he says the word 'book' like it's no sort of book he'd ever consider to be viable, but I give him a cheeky grin, "What?  You don't sparkle in the sun?"

    Godric rolls his eyes, "If a flaming inferno qualifies as 'sparkling' than I suppose so."

    I shrug, "It's okay; I think you have a sparkling personality."  I say this lightly, and he tilts his head to the side, glancing at me in amusement, though I mean it absolutely.  He keeps his emotions wrapped up so tightly within him, that it makes him almost eerily inhuman sometimes.  But, he's amazing in the sense that the more and more I get to know him and learn how to see past that rock hard shell, the more amazing I see he really is.  Plus, the longer I'm around him, the easier his emotions are to read through small facial ticks and the look in his eyes.

    We get to my apartment, and he helps me out despite my protestations and helps me into the buildings and up the four flights of stairs to my third floor walk-up.  He immediately wanders into my kitchen while I retreat to my room where Anubis-always a bucket of love-greets me warmly, sticking close by my heels and purring loudly as I change into a pair of fleece cupcake pajama shorts and a holey, oversized sweater.  I lift the black cat into my arms before walking out and collapsing onto my couch, flipping on the television.  It's so normal that I have to smile.  It's good to be home...where I don't have to smell antiseptic and hear beeping all night long.

    Godric returns a few minutes later from the kitchen with a bottle of water that he puts in front of me with Mufasa following behind him, crying for attention.  She spots Anubis and me cuddling and jumps up to join us, meowing loudly until I finally pet her.  As I flip stations, I notice Godric wandering the room, pausing when he finds my photo album thrown haphazardly onto a dresser; I groan as he moves to sit down beside me with that thing still in his hands.  He cracks it open and begins to flip through it, completely engrossed in the photographic account of my childhood, and I roll my eyes at his interest, fighting a smile before turning my attention to the screen, pausing when I see a vampire shouting on national television about vampire superiority before it cuts to Nan Flanagan trying to do damage control about how Russell Edgington is a 'radical' who 'doesn't represent the whole of the vampire race, just a small percentage'.  I scoff and shake my head, "Nan, you're full of shit," I say to the television.  She can try to pretend vampires are 'just like humans' all she wants to, but they aren't.  They've spent years and years hunting humans and living in secret.  It can't be as easy as she tries to make it out to be to change that much.  When Russell comes back on, I shake my head, "And he's just a bucket full of batshit crazy."

    "Russell Edgington killed Eric's family," Godric comments, frowning at the screen.

    "Wait, he was the one that she-wolf you two tracked in 1945 worked for?"

    "Yes," Godric nods.

    "How old is he?"  I inquire wondering where the hell he found time to do all this.

    "Older than me," Godric replies as I flip the station with a 'huh'.  We drop the conversation because I'm not really sure I want to know how Eric plans-and I knows he does have a plan-to take revenge.  I also don't know if I would fault him for it since this Russell guy killed his family.  I vaguely remember Godric mentioning that Russell was a part of the reason he'd gone to visit Eric a couple days ago, but he didn't actually say much on the subject.  When the doorbell rings, I frown as Godric rises to his feet swiftly, leaving the photo album open on the table while I find the movie Julius Caesar-the cool one with Jeremy Sisto from Law & Order in it-and flip it on.  Godric returns with pizza, and I grin at him.  God bless this man.

    "Do you ever eat?"  I finally ask after my third piece of pizza; my gaze riveted to the movie the same way Godric's is to my photo album.

    "I require very little blood anymore," he says by way of answer.

    I'll take that as a no, then.

    "How many places have you lived?"  Godric asks, and I raise my eyebrows, thinking it over, "You seem to be somewhere different in every picture."

    "Um...I want to say fourteen different places: New Orleans, Santa Fe, Baton Rouge, Shrevport, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Nashville, Little Rock, Memphis, San Antonio, Augusta, Savannah, and Birmingham."  I count them in my head before nodding and grinning, "Yep, that's it."

    "That is..."

    "A lot?  Not normal?  Yeah," I shrug, "I know.  My mom up and moved whenever she met a new man.  We stayed there for however long she was with him, and when they split so did the next town once she found her next boy-toy.  C'est lavie."

    "Where you born?"

    "New Orleans," I grin, getting lost in memories of the town I'd grown up in.  "My mom and dad met there during Mardi Gras.  They got married after only knowing each other six weeks, and they had my brother really soon after, which I think was probably what set them off.  They were too young to have kids and didn't really know each other, you know?  Kids only intensified things.  We lived in the French quarter where my real grandmother had lived for the short time she'd been alive.  Grandma lived a little ways away out by the bayou and right down the street from a hoodoo witch doctor.  I used to ride my tricycle down the road to her house with no fear; my brother rode his scooter beside me and we'd go back and forth between the two houses like we owned all the land in between.  I got to use both my French and Creole a lot; I loved the bonbonnerie because the owner, Angelique, was Cajun French and spoke both so I just sat some days on a stool behind the counter and prattled on and on back and forth between the two languages, and all Miss Angelique did was laugh and reply to whatever I asked her.  But, then my parents got divorced and my mother went off the rails.  She met Blake O'Conner, a biker from Santa Fe, so that's where we packed up and moved.

    "Then there was Louis the trucker from Birmingham, Jack the horse trainer from Little Rock, Oliver the hippie-and I'm pretty sure-drug pusher from Houston, Esteban the rapper from Atlanta, Chris the unemployed asshole from Baton Rouge.  Then it was a wild ride to Nashville, San Antonio, Augusta, Memphis, Savannah, Shrevport, and Dallas, finally…in that order."  Godric just stars at me while I sigh, shaking my head, "Some weren't so bad, others were terrible  Shrevport sucked.  Augusta made me want to rip my hair out, and if I never go back to Arkansas again it'll be too soon, but Nashville was cool and Baton Rouge reminded me of home a little.  Savannah was the best, I think.  Mom was dating this guy, Luke, some on the rise punk rock star, and it just felt so much like New Orleans.  Plus, Luke was by far the best boyfriend she ever had.  He loved us, I think, as much as he could love her kids when she didn’t let him."  Godric looks at me questioningly, and I pause, wondering how to describe my mother's...needs, "My mom is special.  She needs to be the center of the universe in a man's life, I guess because she wasn't in my father's or her father's or even her grandfather's.  Her kids didn't factor into the equation."

    We both remain silent for a moment, our eyes on the television screen as we get our thoughts together and take in everything I just unloaded on him.  Finally, after a moment, Godric says, "I don't remember my parents."  I don't say anything, afraid that if I speak, I'll burst his bubble and he'll stop; I'm far too interested in Godric's past-especially his human past-to spoil that.  "I was born in Gaul around what is now known as simply the first century b.c.  My family was a part of a Gaulish tribe located near the coast.  I was raised in a pagan community that worshipped various gods and the elements."

    "I'm a Catholic," I say helpfully when I notice how somber he grows.

    Godric gives me a bland smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes, and I reach over to grab his hand hesitantly.  He takes it and holds it tightly in his hand before pulling me towards him, making my cats give him disgruntled, angry looks as they‘re displaced.  I stay pressed against his side as he breathes in deeply, his hand still in mine as I look up at him.  "The Romans considered Gaul barbaric but with good land which they coveted; when I was around five they invaded, and I was taken from my parents and brought to Rome."  The story is not over, but I can tell from his tone that that's as far as he'll go tonight.  He fingers the necklace around my neck and stares down at it, "This necklace was my mother's.  It is all I have left of my family."  I move to take it off, to give it back to him when he stops me, shaking his head, "Keep it, Lanie.  That is not a suggestion."  His tone leaves no room for argument.

    I sigh, letting go of the necklace and letting it fall back around my neck before something he says resonates in me that I never thought of before, though I should have.  My eyes widen as I turn my whole body to face him, "Oh my God, did you get to meet Jesus?"

    Godric smiles genuinely and shakes his head, amusement sparking in the back of his eyes as he says, "I didn't.  I missed it."

    "I hope you told Steve Newlin that when he had you locked away in his makeshift basement dungeon."

    Now, Godric smirks looking thoroughly amused, "I did."

    "Oh, to be a fly on the wall during that conversation."

    "As I understand it, the whole lock-in was entertaining.  I only entered after Steve Newlin was shot in the head with a paintball gun by one of his so-called followers who also, coincidentally slept with the Reverend's wife, or so he told Steve."

    "Well, damn, I always miss the fun parties."

    "Next time, I will remember to send you an invitation."

    I poke his leg and smile, "You better."  My stomach twists suddenly, and the nausea swells.  Without delay, I jump up from the couch and make a beeline for the bathroom, landing in front of the toilet just as I puke blood into the water...again.  When I come to, Godric is holding my hair back, running a hand comfortingly up and down my back murmuring something to me in a language I've never heard before while my knees scream like a bitch from the constant abuse they take.  I should, clearly, invest in some knee pads.  Godric helps me to my feet, and I flush the toilet before brushing my teeth and downing a gallon of mouthwash before he picks me up and carries me back to the couch, sitting with me in his lap.


    "Godric...I bet I wouldn't be so out of control if you'd give me my prescriptions."

    "I want you to take my blood."

    For a moment, I just look at him blankly, not quite computing what he just said, when finally, "What the hell are you talking about, Godric?"

    "My blood will heel you Lanie," Godric says, though I can see in the back of his eyes his reluctance and discomfort.  His words come back to me about the sanctity of blood.



    "I said no, Godric."  He opens his mouth to argue when I cut him off sharply, "You're the one who's always going on about how blood is sacred, and that it's the one lesson you wish you progenies had learned and retained.  I'm not going to compromise the one ideal that you've stood by for the last 2000 years."

    "I have been against giving anyone vampire blood for any reason other than making someone for 2000 years, yes, but you’re not anyone, Lanie.  I want you to take my blood."

    "No, Godric, you don't.  You're fighting with yourself as we speak, so I'll finish the fight for you.  No, no, no.  I'm not going to have you break your one and only standing moral, especially since I have blood cancer.  It'll mutate again, Godric, and then what?"

    "It will keep you alive."

    "For a little while longer only.  It's not worth it Godric.  Just say thank you and let's move on."

    "Please don't make me force you."

    My eyes narrow, "I'm calling bullshit on your bluff.  You wouldn't.  You've worked hard to maintain control, and you won't force me to do anything."

    "I'm not so sure, Lanie.  My control seems to wear thin when it comes to you, Lanie, no matter how small the reason, and this is not small."

    "I don't need it!"

    "It will keep you alive, and I won't let you die on me, Melanie, not yet."

    "Why me?"  I snap in frustration, "I'm one freaking human, and yeah, we're friends, but so what?  You don't have to do this, Godric.  Vampire blood is sacred to you, and if it's really all that important, why don't you just have Ajax do it?  We both know he would."

    "His blood is not powerful enough to work for very long.  You would need far more of it to increase your longevity.  Regardless, he offered, and I would not allow it."

    I groan, "Godric, I'm not taking blood from you, especially since I'm going to die anyway.  Especially because it means so damn much to you.  Get that through you thick head."

    "I need to keep you alive, Lanie.  And it will be my blood only because I do not have the control necessary to allow another vampire to give it to you; it has to be me.  Besides, I find that I would not mind having a bond with you.  It would be interesting to say the least, and perhaps rather enlightening."

    "A bond?  Wait, what?  Hold on a second, what the hell are you talking about?"

    "Will you take my blood?"

    "Um...not if you don't tell me what this 'bond' business is."  Godric gives me a frustrated look, but I hold strong, determined to know what I'm getting us both into, "Chill, I'm not going to drop dead in the next five minutes while you explain, but I minute in the next eight days we spend arguing about it."

    Godric gives me a dark look but answers my question, "Vampire blood is sacred because it has magical properties.  Healing being the most obvious, but it also ties a vampire to the person who receives the blood.  The vampire can feel the recipient's emotions and be capable of tracking them."

    "We're not doing this Godric!  Are you out of your mind?  Do you know what you're doing?"

    "Of course," Godric says calmly.  "Makers have similar bonds with their progenies, and I did give a human my blood once to see what happened."  I still don't relax, narrowing my eyes at the vampire, not liking where that particular story is going; he pauses and looks down at the floor, "I killed her once I learned what I wanted to know."  Not that I'm afraid Godric's going to kill me, but I still hesitate, unsure if I want to do this, unsure if I want Godric to have to do this when he suddenly lifts me up and positions me so that I'm straddling his legs as he leans forward so our foreheads touch.  "Please, Lanie, I need you to do this."

    My eyes meet his, and I stare into them searching for the truth, for what he really wants and not what he thinks I need.  But I find nothing, no uncertainty, nothing but sheer determination.  I sigh and nod, "Fine, Godric.  You swear nothing weird's going to happen to me."

    Godric doesn't meet my eyes but does agree, "Nothing weird."  I narrow my eyes at him, opening my mouth to ask why he seems like he's hiding something when he pulls my razor from his pant's pocket, slitting open his wrist smoothly and holding it up between us.  I scowl as I hesitantly wrap my hands around his wrist, lifting it to my mouth; at first, the taste is exactly like I thought it would be, like salt and rust, when the after taste hits me full force.  The blood tastes like the most rich, decadent semi-liquid thing I've ever had in my whole life; I can feel power and strength surge through me, and my eyes flick up to meet Godric's, electricity lighting my ever nerve ending.  Godric closes his eyes, his hand going to the back of my neck to pull me forward, resting our foreheads against each other while I continue to drink in the exquisite ambrosia.  He tightens his hand on the back of my neck, and I drop his wrist, trying to pull my scattered thoughts together when suddenly all sense flies right out the window as Godric's lips collide with mine quickly, forcefully, and with a burning intensity that drives all reason out the window.

    My hands wrap around his neck without breaking the kiss, and I pull myself closer to him while his free arm wraps around my waist, pressing our chests together.  His hand cups the back of my neck possessively as his fingers anchor themselves in my hair.  The kiss starts out sweet though intense but combusts quickly into something passionate and desperate on the verge of animalistic.  I open my mouth against his, and his tongue slips in immediately, wrestling mine for dominance as our lips move against each other.  In the blink of an eye, I'm on my back while Godric hovers over me, his hand slipping to my waist before moving under my sweater and gliding up my feverish side leaving an icy trail in its wake.  I moan, and Godric's mouth moves from mine, nipping and kissing his way down my neck and over the curve of my shoulder while his hand continues up, skimming over my ribs.  Panting, I lay helpless and content as Godric runs his tongue up my neck languidly, his fingers teasing the sensitive underside of my breasts while liquid pools between my legs.  I moan again, finger nails scraping Godric's back as he blows cool air over the wet path his tongue went, slamming his lips against mine again.

    His fingers still just before they slip completely under my bra, and Godric hovers over me, his eyes baring into mine, blazing with lust and heat that I feel racing through my body.  The need for him to touch me is a physical ache, and I use my arms to pull his head back down to mine, making him smile.  He catches my lower lip between his teeth when suddenly there's a pop.

    In seconds, Godric's gone, standing across the room looking shocked, his fangs dropped and his chest heaving.  Breathing just as heavily, I meet his gaze, nearly as shocked as Godric to see his fangs out, and I open my mouth to say...something when he's suddenly gone, and out the door leaving me hot and bothered and more than a little frustrated and uncomfortable lying with my back on the couch, lips swollen and heart racing.  I groan, head falling back against the couch.  What.  The.  Fuck.

Chapter Text

My day starts out pissy with me waking up at six o'clock panting, my underwear moist from the erotic dream that has haunted me for the past twelve days and my body aching for Godric's touch.  Seven o'clock, I'm up and dressed for work at Sound Bites only to find Javi and Tristan in the middle of a lover's spat dead in the center of the stores, and then, being the good friends they are, they both try to get me in the middle of it and bond over their anger with me.  Joey's ex-girlfriend wanders into the store just before I go to grab lunch and takes her anger out about Joey's inability to keep it in his pants out on me before knocking over a while display that I spend my whole lunch hour picking up.

    By the time I wrap up my shift at Sound Bites, I am beyond cranky.  It has less to do with the horrible day and more with the ridiculously depressing past twelve.  After Godric split after dropping fang on me, he made quick work of avoiding me; we didn't hang out, we didn't sit on the roof of the hotel and talk, and we barely even said hello when he saw me passing by the hallway.  I learned from Janice that he checked out of Hotel Camilla and that's why I didn't see him at all, which made me understand his and Tristan‘s anger at not telling them about my cancer.  What made it worse was that he knew how upset I was and didn't even bother to make an effort to move past that kiss and just let us go back to being friends.  I wouldn't be glad forgetting and moving past it, going back to the way things were, and just the thought of him never touching me again sent a pang of longing through me that nearly took me off my feet, but I miss him.  I'm willing go back just so I can talk to him and be around him even a little...even if it's not the way I'd like.

    Pissed, frustrated, and agitated, I wander down the street to McDonalds deciding to fuck eating a semi-healthy dinner (I totally think pizza counts wheat, fruit, diary, fas/oils, and vegetable if basil counts) so that I can treat myself to a mocha frappe to comfort myself.  I drown myself in Asking Alexandria and Pierce the Veil songs while I eat my chicken nuggets and french fries before heading out after buying a second frappe, because I freaking deserve it.  With a tired sigh, I walk down the road towards the Hotel Camilla, my hand wrapped around Godric's necklace the way it always seems to be now that I don't see him.  It's all I really have left of him, and I swallow back a sob as I continue down the street, absolutely refusing to cry over an ancient sixteen-year-old boy who doesn't seem to give a crap about me or how I'm feeling.

    The purr of an expensive car comes from behind me, and I glance behind me to see a Jag slowly down and pulling to the side of the road behind me.  I begin walking faster, on the verge of breaking into a run, heart pounding when the cars pulls up beside me.  Too many hours watching Criminal Minds reruns the past twelve days (since I had nothing better to do after Godric's abandonment) has clearly made me paranoid, and I freeze, eyes looking around to the quickest escape when Garrett pokes his head out the passenger window.  He studies me hesitantly, and I resist the urge to groan, now is not the time to piss me off, I've got enough frustration and repressed anger that it won't take much more to make it explode.

    "Hey, Lanie," Garrett finally says hesitantly.

    My eyes narrow on the thirteen year old suspiciously, "Hey, Garrett?"

    Garrett looks uncomfortable but clears his throat, "You need a ride to the hotel?"  He glances back at the person in the driver's seat that I can't see.

    "Who's in the car, Garrett?"  I ask him this through gritted teeth.  My heart pounding wildly while my hand clenches around Godric's necklace tightly.  No, no, no, no, no.  It can't be him.

    The person in the driver's seat peers around a very guilty Garrett to look me in the eyes, and my stomach drops while sadness pierces my heart, choking it.  I fight to keep my face impassive and control my breathing.  He's older and far more austere and refined than I remember, but there's no doubt that the face is the older face of Garrett.  My absentee, deadbeat, politician father who scammed on my family in my dance studio with one of my dance teachers and then abandoned us for her.  I swallow back bile, as one hand presses to my stomach as if that'll stop the pain and betrayal welling inside it.  Everything I've ever felt in my life, all the times I felt used and alone and abandoned and neglected all flood back to me, and he might not have been the direct cause but everything that had happened to me stemmed from his decision to abandon us.  I suddenly feel like a little girl again.  It's amazing how one look at the man who gave me half of my DNA and then fucked me over can make me feel like that five year old who'd chased him as he'd left the house with a suitcase in hand, my hair flying wildly while tears poured down my face.  I’d tripped but continued to grab for his leg anyway, and he'd picked me up, smiled at me gently, brushing my hair back from my face and kissing me gently on the forehead.

     "It's all right, sweetheart," he'd said to me before putting me back on the ground.  "This will be for the best, you'll see.  Remember, daddy loves you very much."  I'd chased him in tears as he'd driven away, stopping just before I had left the neighborhood.  He'd never come back and everything wasn't for the best.  The best for his dick maybe.

    My father smiles at me like everything's fine, and he never left, "Hello sweetheart."

    A pang twists in my heart as I fight to push my raging emotions aside.  Fury rises to the top of the emotional dog pile.  How dare he call me that?  After everything that man put me and my family through, after leaving us for some young whore, after starting a new family and never looking back, what right does he have to waltz right back into my life like he never even left?  I push the sadness back and embrace the indignation and anger, crossing my arms over my chest and pinning him with a malicious glare, "What the fuck do you want, Adrian?"

     "Come now, Lanie, is that anyway to speak to your father?"

    I can feel the wall holding back all of that pain, sadness, and abandonment cracking with each and every word.  "Who the hell do you think you are, asshole?  You ceased being my father when you left me when I was five, moron.  You're nothing to me."  Nothing but another relic of the past that I desperately want to forget.

    "Melanie Hawthorne," he says to me sharply, chastising me like I'm a child.  "Check that foul mouth.  I don't want to hear it."

    "And I want you to get lost, but I guess we both want things that, apparently, the other isn't willing to give, dickhead."  The insult was unnecessary, but knowing how much it pisses him off gives me a little bit of satisfaction.  Kiss it, you selfish bastard.  "Now, can I help you or do you just have nothing better to do than harass me after all these years?"

    "Lay the past to rest, I'm sorry about all that, Lanie," he says with forced sincerity while Garrett sits between us looking uncomfortable.  That's what that little brat gets.  I know my father's not really sorry, but even if he was, I don't know if I can forgive him for what he did to me.  An apology can't change the past, it can't chase away the demons that still haunt me because of him, and it can't fix how I feel.  It can-and does-piss me off even more.

    "You're full of shit," I snap at him, fighting back tears.

    "Your stepmother and siblings would like to meet you.  We are having a family dinner with all of the family, and your brother and you will be there, Melanie.  It's time to grow up and act like an adult; you're not a child anymore.  I apologized for my actions, but I cannot and would not change the past.  Everything I did was for the best, and it's time you to become a mature eighteen year old woman instead of a petulant child.  Also, I don't appreciate the things you said to my son; what happened between us has nothing to do with him and his siblings.  Let me make it clear that I never want to hear about that behavior again.  I don't know who you think you are, Melanie, but if your mother didn't teach you anything about how to be a polite, well mannered young woman then Katya and I will."

    I flinch back like he hit me, too shocked and hurt to argue with him before Garrett moves, drawing my attention to him.  Fighting tears, I shake my head at him betrayed and hurt, "You're a fucking jackass, Garrett.  Have a nice life, mon frere," I hiss at him venomously before walking quickly down the street to the hotel, anger and pain fueling my steps.  As soon as I burst through the hotel doors I stop, the dam breaks, and I collapse to the floor in tears.  I'm angry and hurt and betrayed feeling like a small child again, adding humiliation and embarrassment now that I've broken down in the middle of the lobby of a vampire hotel I work in.

     Someone picks me up under my arms and gingerly wraps an arm around my waist, murmuring comfortingly as the person half drags me somewhere else.  When we finally stop, I drop to the floor again, hyperventilating, and the person crouches beside me rubbing a hand over my back as I fight through my sobs for breath.  I don't know how long it takes for me to come to, but I relax, wrapping my arms around myself and wipe the tears off my cheeks, humiliation at anyone let alone a handful of hotel patrons see me in that broken mess.  My eyes focus on my supervisor, Lauren, who looks uncertain and pitying, and I swallow hard, unable to meet her eyes.

    "I know it's been a hard week for you, Lanie."  She begins slowly before sighing and offering me a weak, sympathetic smile, "I think you should take the night off."  I open my mouth to argue when she holds up a hand and cuts me off, "It's not a suggestion, Lanie; we can survive without you for a night and you're in no position to work."

    Swallowing hard, I nod, "Okay, but I want to change my schedule from two days on, two off to three on, one off."  Lauren hesitates, and I look down at my hands, "I need the money."

    "We'll talk about it later; go home, Lane."

    I follow her advice, only stopping to wash my face in the employee bathroom before walking out of the hotel with my head down, and my arms wrapped around my middle like that'll somehow hold me together.  I'm barely out the door when a pair of cool hands grasp my upper arms, and I looked up and meet Godric's emerald green eyes that search mine worriedly, "What happened?"

    Just seeing him brings back the anger accompanying the rejection and abandonment I've been burying the last twelve days after he rushed out because he kissed me.  Just like my fucking father abandoned me, with no thought for me or my feelings.  I shove him away from me, shaking my head and continuing down the road, "Leave me alone."

    "Enough, Lanie," Godric says, grabbing my arm and pulling me back to him, our bodies pressing against each other so there’s barely even a pocket of air between them.  My body hums in response while my heart and brain-for once in sync-both tell me to get the hell out of there before I give in.  I can't handle the Godric drama today.

    "God, you don't even get it," I hiss at him, trying to yank myself away from him, which only prompts him to pull me to him tighter, expelling what miniscule space might have existed between our bodies.  Asshole.  "I said go away.  I can't deal with it today, okay?  I can't deal with you."

    Something flickers in Godric's eyes that seems like guilt or regret, "I know you're upset Lanie-"

    "Fuck you and fuck my father and fuck Garrett and just fuck the whole goddamn world who know everything about me.  You don't give a shit, Godric, and you don't know anything because you weren't here!  Some friend you are," I snap.  He lets go of me like I burned him, looking at me with shock and hurt.  I yank his necklace over my head and throw it at him angrily, my whole body shaking while tears pour from my eyes, "I'm done, okay?  I'm done with you and my family and this goddamn city!  Leave me the hell alone, okay?  All you do is fuck with my head, and I've got family for that.  They certainly don't need any help from a 2000 year old vampire who can't get over his own issues!  So fuck you and fuck this, let me go, because I'm finally done, Godric."   I laugh humorlessly, shaking my head while tears roll down my face, "I'm done fighting."

    Godric's in front of me suddenly, wrapping his arms around me while I break down again.  He picks me up, cradling me like a baby and deposits me into the passenger seat of his car.  The drive is silent except for the quiet hum of the engine, and my own sobs that gradually quiet as we drive.  I feel numb and hollow by the time the waterworks stop.  Godric glances at me worriedly just before we finally stop in front of a gorgeous ranch house just a outside of Dallas.  I follow Godric out of the car silently and into the foyer, which is dominated by a simple but beautiful chandelier; we walk through the living room which is an impressive mixture of contemporary style and ancient pieces that give the space life.  Godric leads me down a small hallway and opens a door leading to a set of spiral stairs, and he waits for me to go up before following behind, a hand on my lower back that sends waves of electricity through my body, cutting through the numbness.  At the top, Godric opens the door to reveal the rooftop.

    It's an impressive set up, a rooftop garden that has a gorgeous view of Dallas in the night.  I sit down on a chaise, curling in on myself while Godric gives me a long look before standing a little ways away, staring out over Dallas.  Godric's tense, but I just sit there silently, waiting for him to make the first move, "I hated humans.  I hunted, killed, and hurt them for 2000 years because I hated them for making me into what I had been: weak and pitiful."  My gaze on him sharpens at the shocking confession; they're two words I would never have associated with Godric.

    Godric pulls something out of his pocket, and I recognize it as the necklace I'd thrown at him.  He fingers it lightly before his fist closes over it, knuckles whitening at how hard he's holding it, though it's not tight enough to break it.  "When the Roman army came into the village they took many people as slaves; Rome could not survive without slaves, they practically ran the empire.  The prisoners-I-was given to Roman slave traders who auctioned us off.  Remus, my vampire brother, and I were bought by an affluent albeit cruel Roman, though I suppose most Romans were cruel to their slaves regardless of the important role they played in Roman society.  We were...not treated well."

    Godric's voice grows cold as he speaks, and I stare him for a moment, "What did he do to you?"

    Laughing bitterly, Godric tenses, "What did he not do to me?  Some days, it surprises me that I managed to find any compassion for another being at all, regardless of how long it took to discover.  Remus, however, remains a monster."  Godric shakes his head, "Physical abuse and emotional abuse is something I can take now, but I was a child.  It is a memory that will haunt me for the rest of my existence, and, to answer your question, it is a past I spent years running from and attempting to dominate.  However, I realize now that I went about it the wrong way, and that slaughtering humans  for sport will not make up for the injustice they did to me."

    I stay silent, unsure what to say to that, and Godric goes on, "My slave master was a vampire, and he spent eleven years abusing both Remus and myself before he turned us both.  I spent nearly thirty years, perhaps more, with him learning how to control my vampiric abilities.  When I learned all I could from him, I killed him."  Godric shrugs, unconcerned and unapologetic, not that I blame him for his cold, ruthless confession.

    "I thought you said progenies are extremely loyal to their makers," I say slowly; it's not a question, but there is one clear in the undertone.

    Godric nods, "They usually are; maker and progeny are bound together through blood.  Progenies are loyal, weaker, and obedient to their makers, but, I suspect, the abuses suffered at his hands and the anger and thirst for revenge outweighed the bond that was created through blood."

    I stare him, "How is that even possible, Godric, if you were so much weaker?"

    "I forced myself to stay awake and beheaded him while he slept."

    Godric says it so matter-of-factly that I shudder.  "Remus and I parted ways, and I retreated to the forest to escape from the vampire community that wanted to persecute me for my actions.  I spent the next several centuries living feral and alone, hunting and killing humans I came into contact with.  I enjoyed it, Melanie; I found pleasure in torturing and harming innocents."  I don't know what to say to that one, and I open my mouth to say something before closing it again, unsure exactly what to say.  In a moment, Godric's in front of me, cupping my face in his hands, the necklace still laced through the fingers of one hand, "I never want to hurt you, Lanie.  I was...I could make me feel out of control.  I don’t want to hurt you."

    "Godric," I begin, tears leaking out of my eyes as I shake my head, pushing his hands away, "I can't-"

    Then his mouth slams down on mine, silencing me.  He wraps a hand around the back of my neck.  Automatically, my arms wrap around his neck, mouth opening beneath his.  I moan as his tongue slips into my mouth, one hand trailing down my side to my waist, pulling me closer to him; my legs wrap around his waist as the kiss changes from sweet to heated.  My fingers clench in Godric's short hair; his hand slips underneath my shirt and I shiver from the wave of lust that hits me as his cool, callused hand massages my exposed back.  His hand moves from my neck to cup my cheek as our lips move together saying a hell of a lot more than  words can.

    We both pull back, leaning our foreheads together, and he reaches up and brushes the tears I didn't realize I'd been crying off of my cheeks.  Godric kisses my forehead before giving me a quick but intense kiss on the lips, "I apologize, Lanie.  I'm sorry."

    Leaning back, I meet his eyes, searching for a lie, but, like always, there's nothing.  I know he's sorry.  Sorry for his past.  Sorry for pulling a disappearing act.  Sorry for dropping fang and almost biting me.  I nod and pull him towards me, hugging him desperately like if I loosen my arms he'll disappear.  I bury my face into his neck while he plants a soft kiss on mine, resting his head on my shoulder, "You are not allowed to give up, Lanie, no matter how hard it gets."

    Biting my lip, I fight tears again, shaking my head, "I'm tired, Godric.  I'm so fucking exhausted."

    Godric nods, "I know."  He leans back, and I get go of him reluctantly while he puts the necklace back around my neck.  "I understand, Lanie," he says sincerely, and I nod as it hits me that he absolutely does.  I can only imagine what it's like to spend eleven years being physically and sexually abused.  Neglect is one thing, but it's unfathomable to figure out how he was able to withstand that kind of pain alone.  He cups my face in his hand, pressing his mouth against mine sweetly, taking my breath away, "I'm here for you, Melanie.  I am not going anywhere again.  Je vous promets.  I promise."

Chapter Text

"You have been avoiding this for three weeks, just do it."

    I shoot Godric an annoyed look as I adjust the only semi-formal dress I own: an uncomfortably fitted dress that makes me feel fat with a hem that seems to get shorter and shorter the longer the dress is on my body.  Pausing, I stop, shaking my head hysterically, "I don't want to do this.  Can I just go home, please?"

    Godric's hands grip my waist, pulling me back against his chest and sending electricity throughout my body.  I melt against him, resting my head back against his shoulder, and he leans down to kiss my neck sensually.  I give him a dirty look; he's trying to distract me that much is obvious.  Godric smirks at me, "Everything will be fine."

    "Easy for you to say," I quip while Godric just rolls his eyes and propels me to the door.  "Are you su-"

    "Yes.  If your father attempts to track you and down again, I think you'll have heart palpitations.  We will go and finish this before you have another panic attack, understand?"

    I sigh audibly but nod, "Fine."  Godric seems satisfied, and I scowl as we walk to the door, glancing over my shoulder at him, "Just know that I hate you."  His eyes narrow on me, and I toss my curls over my shoulder, skipping to the door with a smirk on my face.

    Just before I knock, Godric suddenly grabs me by the arm to spin me around, pulling me towards him and slamming his lips down on mine.  Immediately, my body molds to his, my hands fisting in his shirt, moaning into his mouth as his tongue slips between my lips and plunges into my mouth.  As quickly as the kiss began, Godric pulls back, releasing me abruptly, leaving me staggering; he smirks at me and knocks on the door while I give him a disgruntled look, crossing my arms over the chest.  He laughs at me, wrapping an arm around my waist and pulling me against his side, pecking my lips, "I can tell."

    The door opens before I can say another word to reveal a short balding man, and I can't help but wonder if all filthy rich people have butlers that look like some kind of classic 'Jeeves' portrayal.  Doesn't anyone have a young piece of eyecandy to open the door for guests inside of a replica from night of the living dead?  I don't dwell on it as he leads the two of us through the ridiculously ornate grand entrance complete with a massive crystal chandelier, wall frescoes, and marble columns.  The farther we walk into the house, the more the theme of the expensive home is obvious: a sleek, uber-expensive version of ancient Rome.  I glance at Godric.  He raises his eyebrows at me, clearly amused by the whole thing, but we don't say anything as we move down the hallway behind Jeeves, which opens into the massive dining room.

    Adrian and his wife, Katarina, are sitting opposite each other at the end of the table.  My brother, looking decidedly uncomfortable and furious, sits across from Jen.  Garrett and who I am guessing to be his younger brother, Luke, also sit opposite each other.  The last two empty seats are clearly for me and Godric and sit opposite each other on either side of my father; I freeze, tensing, while Godric's hand moves from my waist to squeeze my hand in comfort before leading me to my seat with a guiding hand on my lower back.  Jen shoots Godric a glare while I raise my eyebrows at her, and he kisses me on the forehead before moving to his seat.

    Katarina peers at Godric curiously before smiling benevolently, "Welcome, everyone.  I would just like to begin with an acknowledgment that we've all had our differences in the past, but I feel that it's time to move past them and into the future-as a family."

    Wordlessly banding together, Colton and I share a look.  We're not a family.

    Adrian smiles at his wife with a doting look that leaves me rolling my eyes before he bows his head, "Before we eat, shall we say grace?"  We do with Jen glaring daggers at Godric the entire time: what the fuck?  He ignores her, and the first course, a salad, arrives with red wine.  Colton and I pour ourselves some wine generously while Godric raises his eyebrows at me, saying nothing about it as I gulp some down.

    "I've always wanted to learn to say grace in Latin," Katarina says.  "Roman culture fascinates me."

    "I can't imagine why," Colton comments.

    "Colton," my father barks.

    Colton shrugs, "She's Russian born.  The Slavic culture is far more unique.  Who would abandon their culture to obsess about Rome?"  The question is directed at our father while Katarina blanches, looking down at her plate while my father glares at Colton.  The question's undertone is clear: who would abandon their family for some commonplace whore?  Mind you-I'm ad-libbing.

    My father narrows his eyes at Colton, opening his mouth to chastise him while Colton just gives him a challenging look; I cut in. "Where are the kids?"

    "Katya," my father says his wife's nickname with pointed affection that makes both my brother and I roll our eyes while Godric just seems amused, "has relegated our grandchildren and little Annie to a kid's table in the kitchen."

    I blink at them, "Oh?  So you exiled them in case dinner gets a little tense?"

    "Thank you," Colton says to me, clearly glad someone else saw through their actions.  "And Annabel and Pete are not you and your wife's grandchildren."

    "That is not why.  I feel kids are better stimulated, mentally, around children their own age; they don't want to sit at the table with the grown-ups."  Katarina says, laughing slightly like this should be obvious.

    "You were clearly deprived as a child."  I comment offhandedly.

    "Enough," my father says, and I try not to roll my eyes, focusing with Godric's necklace, not touching the unappetizing Caesar salad.  Godric gives me a soft look, and I offer him a slight smile, playing with my silverware while everyone else eats in uncomfortable silence.  The tension is so thick I could cut it with a knife.  When the main course arrives, my father finally speaks, "So, how have you children been?"

    I pause from eating my steak and look up at my father through narrowed eyes.  Colton is fuming, "You would know if you'd been there instead of off fucking some young homewrecking whore and playing house instead of taking care of your family."  My mouth drops open as I stare at my brother in shock, putting the wine glass down on the table unsure what do after a comment like that.

    The two kids sit silent in shock while Katarina and Adrian look furious.  Adrian slams his wine glass on the table, "I don't want to hear that out of your mouth ever again.  Be a man and use proper words, don't insult my wife."

    "You want to lecture me on being a man?  I work an honest living everyday to feed my family, and you abandoned one to start another.  So you can kiss my ass."

    "We don't want to be here," I interrupt.  "You pressured both of us into this, so don't try and do the family thing now.  You had fifteen years to do the blended family thing but didn't.  The only reason you're doing it now is to save face before elections start up again."  I shrug while my father looks ready to blow, and Katarina's face darkens with a glare, "We'll never be alright, and one dinner no one wants won't make up for the fact that you fucked us over.  Now, why don't we all try to get through this dinner without you driving anyone here to murder."

    Colton takes over for me, "Ground rules?  We don't want to talk about us, our family, or what life was like for us when you split to become a fake-ass high society, refined and patently untrustworthy career politician.  So, why don't we just stay on neutral subjects?"

    My father opens his mouth to argue when Katarina suddenly cuts in, "So Godfrey-"

    "Godric," he responds impassively and automatically.  I roll my eyes at her while Godric shoots me a slight smile.  I'm glad someone is finding this dinner amusing.

    "Right, then," Katarina nods, "how old are you, if you don't mind my asking?"

    "Old enough," Godric replies evenly.

    "You want to ask a ruder question?"  Colton shoots at Katarina who flushes.

    "You have a beautiful home," Jen finally remarks, taking a break from glaring at Godric and trying to dispel the tension between her husband and our father who seems more than ready to kill Colton.  Abandoning my food, I down some more wine.

    Adrian beams at my sister-in-law who, for her part, remains deadpanned and unimpressed with him, "I can hardly take the credit.  This whole home was designed by Katarina.  It's beautiful, and I'm so proud of what she's accomplished.  Who wouldn't want to live here?"

    Me.  It's ugly.

    "Excuse me?"  Katarina asks, appalled, and I focus on her furious face in confusion to see my brother holding back laughter while Godric just seems thoroughly entertained.

    That's when it hits me that I spoke aloud, and I blanch, feeling the need to continue, "Well...I mean, there's marble everywhere.  It's so cold and feels unlived in.  It's like a museum, and I'm afraid to even breath because I'll break something.  Who wants to live in a home like that?  Besides, it's too big.  It seems more like it was designed to be impressive and superior than an actual family home.  It fails on both accounts."  That all comes out in a rush, and I drop my gaze to where my hands play with Godric's necklace anxiously.  What the fuck did I just do?

    Katarina scoffs and then says in an icy voice, "Well I suppose it takes someone with class and social etiquette to appreciate the beauty in Roman architecture, and someone with a brain to realize not everything needs to be shared."

    I turn beet red wishing I could bury my head in the sand at the subtle dig and obvious chastisement.  Godric speaks up suddenly, his voice cold and deadly, "You're wrong."  My head shoots up to look at him in confusion.

    "On what account?  I think her mother did a successfully terrible job at raising her.  Look at the bumbling, classless buffoon she's become."

    Godric's gaze intensifies on her, fire clear in the back of his eyes, "Well, I suppose that is two things that you are misinformed of.  The first, and I suppose foremost, being who in this room has no class, but I'll settle for discussing your architecture, which is not actually Roman but leans far more towards the Greek era, especially given you penchant for marble."  He scowls at the marble covering the room.

    Katarina shakes her head at him, clucking her tongue at him like he's a sixteen year old, insolent child rather than a 2000 year old vampire.  Dumb.  Ass.  "I spent years studying Greco-Roman architecture in college.  I think I recognize Roman architecture when I see it."

    I meet Godric's eyes and fight a smile when he says seriously, "Perhaps it is best that you did not go to college.  They are apparently quite inept at what they are teaching."

    "And what do you know about Roman architecture?"  Katarina snaps.

    "Far more than you," Godric replies.  "I do believe it is time for you to learn looks can be deceiving.  I am not a child.  You are an infant in my eyes and perhaps treating you the way I should instead of an equal will lessen your seriously inflated ego and allow you to learn your place and some respect.  You have no right lecturing anyone on class since, as far as I am aware, opening your legs to a married man and then convincing him to abandon his family-only attempting to reinstate yourselves in their lives to achieve your own ends-has never been considered classy or socially acceptable in any civilization, particularly not the one you seem to idolize.  In fact, in Rome, you would have been thought of as a common prostitute."

    "Who do you think you are?"  Katarina snaps.

    "I've heard enough of this, vampire.  Where do you get off talking to my wife like that?"

    Godric shrugs, unconcerned, "The same as she when she spoke the way she did to your daughter.  It should not be me who has to protect her from your wife's unfounded insults."

    "Then perhaps my daughter she learn to behave like a young adult and a lady instead of an animal and a bitch."

    "I have often found it difficult to understand why Roman culture is idolized.  They were cruel, power-hungry, and viciously covetous of anyone and everyone surrounding them.  They killed for sport and enslaved whole nations simply because they wanted to, relying on the people they abused to make money and raise their children.  The government was run entirely by corrupted fools and their proud, shallow wives who raised their children to be just the same.  With that as the icon for western civilization, it is amazing it has lasted this long.  However, I suppose all those reasons make it obvious why it appeals to you, clearly both of you were born as heartless and shallow as Romans, concerned only with your own superiority and demanding all bow before you.  I bowed to Romans once, and I will not cower beneath pitiful, pathetic shadows of humanity like yourselves again."

    I blink at Godric before grinning and hopping up, "This has been...entertaining.  I'd hate to eat and run, but c'est lavie."

    By the time Godric and I get back to my apartment, I'm laughing so hard that tears are streaming down my cheeks.  The look on their faces as a sixteen year old vampire told them off will forever be seared into my brain as will Jen's look of disgust and hatred towards Godric.  It's a sobering thought, that look, and I glance at Godric as we come to a stop, "Have you ever met my sister-in-law before?"

    A moment later, he's opening my door and helping me out of the car, and Godric hesitates, "I am not entirely certain.  She does seem familiar."

    "And hostile?"  I ask as we step inside my building.

    Godric scoops me up and runs up the several flights of stairs, takes the keys from me to open my door, and leads me inside.  "I suppose so, though her hostility was overlooked by your father and his wife."

    I laugh and nod, "Yeah, well, I think you told them off quite successfully."

    "I will not let anyone hurt you, Lanie, especially not that shell of a man and his self-absorbed, social climbing wife."

    Pausing, I stare at him for a moment, unsure how to respond to that one.  I know he can feel the emotions rolling through me, and I settle on gratitude as I fight tears.  No one has ever fought for me, not really, and it's a sobering and emotional discovery to realize that he could and would.  But I don't let myself get carried away, and I bury the love that I've started to realize is constantly there right below the surface blossoming and expanding into an all-consuming and completely unrequited wave infecting every facet of my being.  It's not easy, but I manage to hide all of that love from him, even (I hope) through our bond, as I murmur, fervently, "Thank you."

    In the next second, Godric is in front of me, slamming his lips down on mine and picking me up into his arms as my back hits the door.  My legs wrap around his waist and my hands encircle his neck, tangling into his hair.  The kiss is heated and breathtaking, infused with an passion and intense emotion like we're trying to breath each other in.  My body's on fire, and my head falls back against the door when he lowers his head to kiss my throat.  He nips at my pulse point, and I moan, liquid pooling between my legs, the ache to have my bare skin against his overpowering all reason.  With my shaking my fingers, I try to unbutton his shirt before growing frustrated and just ripping it open; he chuckles and uses the wall to hold me up before shrugging it off and dropping it to the floor.  He yanks my dress off, and my body arches into him, groaning as his cool skin collides with my feverish body; his erection presses against my wet core, and I whimper, dropping my head against his neck, running my hands over his bare shoulders and muscled just before going back again.

    Godric moans when my fingers linger and run over the hem of his jeans before working their way back up, and his hand twists into my head, angling it so that he can slam his lips down on mine again, his tongue dominating my mouth like a conquering army.  A moment later, we're in my room, and he drops me on the bed while he hovers over me, his hands moving all over my body, leaving a trail of fire in their wake while I moan into his mouth.  He pulls back for a second and stares down at me with lust alit in his eyes, "Tell me you don't want this, and we'll stop now, Lanie."

    I know that if we do this, there's no turning back, and that my heart will be at his mercy completely and totally.  I can barely think when he's touching me, let alone try to conceal the fact that I'm completely in love with him while he's buried inside me.  But it hits me as I look up at him, my arms wrapped around his neck and his necklace resting between my breasts that it's over anyway; my heart's already his and not sleeping with him wouldn't prove anything.  Godric will be my first and last, "I need you."
Ok my attempt at an M scene stars here, and it's not well edited because I just couldn't read it again.  I don't know, I don't find it awkward to talk sex with people but I find it awkward to write and edit.

    Godric grins, and he unclasps my bra, throwing to across the room carelessly before tugging off my panties to study me.  The attention makes me uncomfortable, and I fidget, but his hand moves to my waist, stilling me before he leans down, kissing my achingly wet area between my legs tenderly.  My hips buck at the alien sensation while my whole body screams for more.  "Try to stay still, Lanie," he teases me before licking me.

    I scream, my panting increasing as my hands fist into the sheets, and Godric laughs, nipping my clit while his fingers slips into my channel, "You're gonna kill me, Godric."

    "Not yet," he says with satisfaction, slipping a second fingers inside of me, and making me groan, my hips grinding against his fingers while the hand on my waist freezes me.  I groan in frustration while Godric's fingers begin moving inside of me, and I pant again, "Relax, Lanie, I won't hurt you."

    "That's so not what I'm worried about, Godric.  You're driving me crazy," I say to him while he drives his finger in deeper, lightly scraping them against the wall of my channel as he pulls them out.  I whimper in response.

    "I know," he says, his voice husky, and I freeze when his finger brushes a spot in me that's extremely sensitive.  He pauses, looking up to meet my eyes with amusement and smug satisfaction, "Just a moment, Lanie, I found it."

    "Found what?" I ask him warily as he nips my clit before his fingers hit my G-spot.  And I come hard, screaming as the first orgasm I've ever had hits me about as hard as a Mac-truck and driving me over the edge.  Godric removes his fingers leaving me feeling shockingly empty, and he gives me one last, long lick before hovering over me again.  "Jesus, Godric," I force out as I try to catch my breath.  He slams his lips back down against mine, and my hands wrap around his neck, holding him their while our tongues clash together.  My body arches off the bed to press against his bare chest while one hand wraps around me, holding me up against him while the other moves over my sides before sliding in between us to tease my breast playfully.

    I groan, wrapping my legs around his waist to grind against him and feeling his bulging erection through the coarse denim of his jeans.  Frustrated at his still semi-clothed state, my hands travel down to flick open the button of his jeans, forcing them off of his body.  He smiles against my lips, ripping himself away from me to finish taking them off before standing at the foot of the bed to look at me for a second.  I should feel uncomfortable or awkward with Godric staring at me at the foot of my bed gloriously naked while I lay equally as naked on my bed, panting, my legs spread open before him.  Instead, I ache for him to be inside me.

    "Godric," I say, and in a moment, he's hovering over me pressing his mouth to mine, his hands boldly exploring my body.  Gingerly, I run my hands over his body, pausing when I reach his hips, and he groans into my mouth.  My hands continue south, until they run of his hard, velvety cock, and he pauses, his muscle taut.  We both freeze for a moment, breathing heavily before I continue to explore, and Godric pulls his mouth from mine, resting his head between my neck and shoulder while his hands grip my waist.  He groans when my fingers circle the the head.

    "Lanie," he says carefully.  I continue my ministrations, running my hands over his cock, which seems to grow impossibly harder.  I hear his breath catch, "Lanie."  My nails lightly scrape the underside of his penis, and in a moment, my hands are pinned over my head in his hand while Godric positions himself over my entrance, "What do you do to, Melanie?"  He asks me, and I can tell it's a loaded question.  Before I can say anything, Godric kisses me firmly, running a finger lightly over my aching core, and I hiss.  Godric grins, "This is mine."

    "Yeah," I nod seriously, "I'm aware."

    Then, he slams into me, once and hard, before stilling and watching my face as I cry out, my body adjusting to the pain and him.  He meets my eyes and waits up I adjust, smiling when it finally does and bringing his lips back against mine as he pulls out so that just his tips remains inside of me.  He releases my hands, which automatically move to wrap around his neck while his hands tangle into my hair, and, without warning, he slams into me again, and I cry out, my nails digging into his back as he sets a breakneck rhythm driving deeper and deeper into me with each thrust.  After a moment, I adjust, wrapping my legs around his waist and moving my hips in time with his, embracing the feeling of our bare skin sliding against each other while our bodies move as one.  I can barely feel where he stops and I begin, and I revel in the shocking feeling of togetherness that overwhelms me, and I wonder whether it's the sex-the feel of Godric in me-or the fact that I'm completely, irrevocably, head over heel in love with him that brings on these emotions.

    I can feel myself hovering just on the edge of release, my body becoming boneless, and Godric pulls his lips from mine, kissing my neck as I hear his fangs pop out.  I vaguely remember my tainted blood and manage to choke out, "Is that a good idea?"

    Godric laughs, and the vibration makes us both groan before he says, "I suppose we'll see."  And his fangs pierce my neck abruptly, driving me over the edge.  I scream out his name in pure ecstasy while he follows before collapsing on top of me, both of us breathing heavily.  He rolls off of me before pulling me against him and wrapping his arms around me.  We lay there for a while silently, him rubbing circle on my waist and stomach while I rest my head on his chest, clutching him tightly like he'll disappear if I let go.  I glance to find his necklace around my neck, and I smile slightly, lifting up to study it with one hand.
Ok, first and last attempt at an M scene, over

    When I feel his gaze on me, I look up to see him studying me seriously, "Lanie-"

    My whole body tenses.  I'm half-prepared for him to take off like he did the first time we kissed and half-prepared for him to say he doesn't see us being in a relationship together and that never should have happened.  I remain stiff as a board, asking cautiously, "Yes?"

    "Relax," he mumbles, his hand moving to massage my lower back, making the stiffness melt away against my will.  "I want to make you into a vampire."

    I laugh, "No."

    "Lanie," Godric says sternly, and I look up at him to see him frowning at me.  One hand moves to cup my cheek, "I-" he frowns, and I meet his eyes, my heart pounding.  Every part of me screams for him to say it, prays to every god that mankind has ever worshipped for him to say that he loves as much as I love him.  "You mean too much to me for me to allow you to die.  I need to make you into a vampire, Lanie."

    My throat closes up, and I shake my head at the disappointment that goes through me; I should have known better than to hope he loved me to.  "I can't, Godric," I say to him.

    "Would it really be so terrible being a vampire?  I know it is not ideal.  I know it would hurt watching your friends die, but you would have a chance at life, and you'd have Ajax, and your friend Gina, and-" he stops.

    But I can't.  I can't live forever with Godric as my maker, knowing that I'd always be in love with him and he'd never feel the same.  I deflect, fighting to compartmentalize my raging emotions, hoping that he reads them as a reaction to thoughts of my imminent death or his offer to make me a vampire or watching my friends grow old and die, not that I'm in love with him and sad he'll never feel the same.  I sigh and shake my head, "I'm tired, Godric."

    He sighs so quietly that I wouldn't have noticed had I not been resting my head on his chest, and he kisses my forehead, "Then sleep, I'll stay here until just before dawn."  

    And I do sleep instantly, far too uncomfortably comfortable with with Godric right beside me.

Chapter Text

Why I had agreed to this eludes me.

    Honestly, I think it had something to do with the fact that my brother called and asked, and our temporary alliance when we'd had to deal with my father had influenced my decision immensely.  Regardless, I lecture myself silently with every step I take from Tristan's car to the front door of Mom and Henry's home; I glance over my shoulder and smile at my friend blandly while he rolls his eyes, "You're hitching a ride back with your brother?"

    "Yes."  I answer him contritely, know he's in no mood to playing games with me.

    "Fine, call Godric," Tristan remarks shortly.

    I swallow hard, "Goodbye Tristan."

    Tristan gives me the finger before driving off hastily, obviously in a huff, and I sigh, putting my hands into the pockets of my jeans as I watch him go.  He's pissed at me because he has ridiculous powers of observation, though even a blind man could have noticed how much distance I was trying to put between Godric and me.  A week ago, we were practically joined at the hip always touching and always talking with our heads close together, completely inside our own little bubble.  After our sex-scapade and my realization that he didn't love me and probably couldn't ever love me, I need space to breath.  Godric, however, won't let me avoid him and remains ever-present in my life even though I won't touch in any way that can be perceived as sexual, talk to him alone, or have discussions on serious subjects (I walk away anytime he tries to bring up something remotely resembling our one-time sex thing, me becoming a vampire, or what the hell is wrong with me, which is pretty much how he begins most of our not-conversations).  It worked fairly well, all things considered, and helped keep my emotions in check so he can't get a read on the ones I don't want him to find.

    The only problem is that my body cries out for him, especially if the all-night, every-night sex dreams about him are any indication, and despite the fact that the action was taken to prevent myself from losing my heart to him, I only seem to hurt worse.  I miss him like he's a part of me that someone ripped out, like there's a big gaping hole in the middle of my chest.  And as much as I want to go running back to him, I can't because I'm dying, and I don't know if I can handle being tied and bonded a hell of a lot tighter to a man I'm in love with who can't love me back.  It's burden I'll have to carry for thousands of years, and one that I doubt I'll be able to hide that long, especially given Godric's persistence.

    However, I'll have to figure everything out soon because Godric seems to be on the verge of hitting his breaking point with me.  It's more than obvious that he's resigned to giving me space to come to grips with everything on my own, but it's clearly frustrating for him to watch me incite and promote the deterioration of our friendship, though he's gritted his teeth and allowed me to take time.  However, I didn't think I could push him much further; he was nearly at the end of his rope when I'd blatantly spent a whole night putting distance between us so he couldn't touch me (and break my resolve), but I'd seen how close he was to his breaking point when I'd hit the back of my hand on a door knob-and a massive bruise had blossomed to cover my whole hand-then refused to take his blood.  I'd known for a while that the cancer had started coming back.  I'd felt weaker and more tired, plus I'm pretty sure he'd guessed something was wrong when he'd drunk my blood, but I wasn't mentally strong enough to take anymore so soon.  I needed to make sure that I could hold my own against him-willpower wise-before I took anymore of Godric's blood.

    Henry greets me at the door and tells me that Mom wants to talk to us all in the kitchen before we start.  I nod just before my phone rings, and I tell him I'll be there in a minute, stopping to pick it up, "Hello?"

    "Where are you, Lanie?"

    "My mom's," I comment before frowning, "I thought you could track me or whatever."

    Jen steps into the hallway and into the bathroom right across from me without a wave or a smile.  I roll my eyes.  Godric sighs, "I have a general area but not an exact location partially because you didn't take a lot before and partially because the bond's lessening."

    I perk up, "Really?"

    "Yes," Godric says, sounding put out, "it won't completely go away, but it does lessen with time as your body absorbs my blood and basically makes it your own.

    "Like in a blood transfusion?"


    "So how strong of a connection do you have to my emotions?"

    "A strong enough one to know how shocked and happy you are about this, but not one nearly strong enough for my liking."

    I sigh, "Well, would you want someone to know where you are every minute of the day?  And how you're feeling all the time?  Some things should stay hidden."

    "You do know where I am every minute of the day," Godric comments, and I frown before realizing he's right.  I know where his hidey-hole is in his 'nest', and he spends most nights with me and when he doesn't, he's at his nest helping his underling-turned-sheriff, Isabel (who I've never met but have heard described by Ajax and Godric), embrace her new sheriff duties.  "But, I suppose I understand your point for the second.  Feelings are personal, and sharing them can often get you hurt."

    I'm silent for a moment, before I say, "I have to go.  I'll see you tomorrow."

    "We need to talk tomorrow, no exceptions.  I will be at your apartment at sunset, and if I have to track you down to have this conversation with you then I will force feed you my blood until you can hide nothing from me.  Understand?"

    Part of me wants to call his bluff, but a bigger, smarter part of me doesn't think this is a bluff and wins the battle.  "Yeah, fine, see you tomorrow, Godric."

    "Orevwa," he says goodbye in Creole the way I taught him.

    I smile and hang up the phone quickly, shaking the stupid grin from my face just as Jen steps out of the bathroom and into the hallway, giving me an icy glare before marching towards the kitchen.  I frown at her retreating figure, rolling my eyes.  Yep, she's an ice cold bitch.  Taking a deep breath, I square my shoulders before following my ice queen bitch sister-in-law into the kitchen where I pause at the sight of my mother looking the most normal I've ever seen her.  She sits cross-legged on a chair in sweatpants and a t-shirt with no makeup and her hair pulled back into a bun, cup of tea in hand.  Henry sits beside her, holding her free hand with his thumb rubbing circles into the back of her hand comfortingly; Colton smiles wanly at me, glancing at his wife as she sits down but not doing anything else.

    Scowling, I hesitate in the doorway, unsure I really want to face this, especially when my mother looks like she's on the verge of tears when she sees me.  Henry kisses the back of her hand, and she smiles weakly at him before sniffling and giving me a watery smile.  I smile back at her hesitantly, slowly sitting down across from my brother, resting my hands and sitting up straight like a child in the principal's office.  "Hi," I say with reluctance.

    Mom takes a deep breath, and Henry gives her an encouraging look.  She nods before looking between my brother and me, "I've been thinking a lot about your reactions when I told you about the baby, and," mom chokes back a sob and presses a hand to her mouth, shaking her head, "I'm sorry.  I've been planning what to say for a long time, but I'm just...I feel...I'm sorry."

    Henry cuts in for mom in his deep southern drawl, "Your mama and I have talked about your reactions and the way that ya'll were raised as kids.  I understand that you're unhappy that she's having a child at her age and don't think that it's appropriate.  However, I feel that the way you treated your mother was unacceptable.  You don't have to be happy with her decision, but you damn well have to respect her."

    "I've thought a lot about how I raised both of you, and I know it was hard.  I realize that I wasn't there for you the way a mother's supposed to be.  I have no right to ask either of you to forgive me, let alone to be there to support me, but I really do need your support throughout this pregnancy.  I need you two to be there for me, even though I wasn't for you.  And I don't want you to shut your sibling out of your life just because you're angry with me."

    My brother and I meet each other's eyes before looking back at my sincerely stricken mother, and I frown, taking in her guilty, regretful expression and forgiving her.  One thing different between my father's attempted apology and 'family bonding' that differs from my mother's is that where my father had clearly been trying to save face in front of his children and clean up dirty laundry from his past before running for state Senator, it was obvious that my mother was genuinely sorry.  And I sigh, reaching over to grab her hand, feeling a little bit lighter.

    "It wasn't ideal," I say to her softly with a slight smile, "but I guess it could've been worse."

    "We love you, Mom, and I'm not happy about you're dumbass decisions-"

    "-Colton-" Jen chastises.

    "-but I'm not going to punish my sibling because of you.  You're not dad," My brother scowls, rolling his eyes.

    I laugh and shake my head while my mom looks confused, "He coerced us into having dinner with him and his replacement family."

    My mom rolls her eyes and groans, "Oh God, how did that go?"

    "I thought it went well," I nod, beaming.

    Colton laughs, "Yeah, if the part where Godric basically called them snobs and pathetic wastes of space is considered fun."

    "I think so," I say to him cheerfully, and we share a grin.

    Mom looks between us and throws her hands up in the air, "Jesus, lord, I need another drink, maitenant.  I suggest we move into the living room.  I'll get some more tea, and we can talk about this Godric character and this dinner party with your father and his whore...oops, I mean wife."  She looks to Henry and shakes her head, "Governor Adrian Hawthorne is the biggest selfish asshole I've ever met, and his wife is the perfect social climbing, slut of a politician's wife if I ever saw one."

    For hours, we sit in the living room catching up as a family.  My brother's kids pass out in the guest room by 10:30 while my brother, mother, Henry, and I sit around the room sharing what's been going on in our lives.  Jen sits quietly on the couch while we tell Mom what happened at our father's house, and we laugh as Colton animatedly shares how Godric put him in his place (though I make sure we only skim over the vampire I'm in love with).  Henry shares what it was like to grow up in Texas; he'd apparently been raised by the border where his father worked border patrol and his mother was a Mexican-American doctor who worked at one of the border patrol facilities patching up illegals before they got deported.  For the first time, Mom tells us about what it was like to grow up in the bayou with Grandma.  She tells us about how they used to go out on airboats, eat freshly caught crawfish for dinner, and even hunt for muskrats with some of Mom's more unique friends.  Colton speaks all about his children, what they've been up to and how they've been growing up; he even tells us about his job and his friends, staying-I notice-away from Jen and her family in Shrevport.  I talk about my crazy friends and working at a vampire hotel, trying my hardest to steer clear of Godric.

    "And you said you were sick all those months ago; how'd the doctor's appointment go?"  Mom asks, actually seeming like she's paying attention.

    I open my mouth to say fine before closing it, deciding that if my family wanted to listen then maybe it's time I speak, "Not so well."  Colton looks at me sharply while Mom frowns in concern, grasping Henry's hand tightly, "I have terminal leukemia, and the doctor gives me a few more months more before I'm like dust in the wind."  I say it lightly like it's no big deal, hoping they'd play it off the way the always did with serious things, but my family's faces all show shock and dread.

    A sob bursts from my mom's chest as she wraps her arms around me suddenly, hugging me tightly, "Melanie.  Why didn't you tell us?"

    Colton looks stunned, "Lanie?"

    I shrug, "I didn't think anyone would listen.  I didn't think you all deserved to know."

    Jen scoffs, and my mom glares at her while Colton shoots his wife a look of disbelief, "Please, she'll be fine.  She's whoring herself out to a vampire; I'm sure he's healing her in return."

    "Don't talk like that about my daughter," Mom snaps at Jen angrily while Henry rubs her back to relax her.

    Shrugging, Jen stands, "What do you want me to say?  Godric is a killer.  He and his vampire flunkies nearly slaughtered the whole congregation at the Fellowship."

    "He didn't," I snap at Jen.  "He was the one who saved them all.  Steve Newlin's the one who blew up his nest and killed four people."

    "There is no proof that Reverend Newlin set that bomb," she hisses viciously.

    "The guy said that it was a message from him!  He was seen at that church!"

    "By who?"

    "By Godric!"  I snap at her.

    "Did he bite you?"  Jen hisses at me, getting into my face.

    "Jen, that's enough!"

    "Did you let that disgusting fanger turn you into a fangbanger so that you didn't have to die the way God intended you to!"

    "What the hell is your problem, schizo?"  I snap at her, appalled but not exactly surprised.  I knew something was up by the way she so blatantly and decidedly hated on Godric.  No one hates Godric.

    "Mel, Jen, that's enough, guys, come on!"  My brother says getting into the middle of this.

    "My problem is my sister-in-law becoming a fangbanger whore to save herself.  God's plan was for all things to die the way he intended them to.  And you let him have your blood and your body to save yourself from God's plan!"

    "I love him!"  I yell at Jen, "I let him bite me because I fucking love him, you Fellowship bitch!"

    Jen sneers at me, "You are beyond redemption and should die just like all the fanger sympathizers then.  You are lost."

    "Jennifer!"  Colton yells angrily, "I put up with all the Fellowship shit because it's what you believe, but don't you dare say that to my sister."  Jen sends me a furious glare before storming out of the room.

    My hand automatically grasps Godric's necklace as I plop back down onto the couch, wrapping my arms around myself.  Mom crouches in front of me hesitantly, placing a hand on my knee.  "That's two bombshells you've dropped on me tonight.  Maybe I should have started listening a long time ago, huh?"

    I smile softly, "Maybe.  I'm glad you found Henry, Mom; I think he's good for you."

    She smiles back at me gently, "I think so too."  Mom squeezes my hand, "And this Godric, the vampire, is he good for you too?"

    Shaking my head, I brush the tears that had begun to fall off of my cheeks, "He's fantastic and amazing and wonderful.  Like vampire freaking Ghandi.  And he was a killer, but he's not and he's sorry and he's...never going to love me.  I don't know if he's capable of it."

    "Why not?  Is this because he's a vampire?"

    "No, it's because I'm human," I tell her.

    Mom frowns, "I don't understand."

    "He's spent 2000 years hating humans, Mom.  I know that he thinks he's moved beyond that hatred from his human life, but I don't think so.  I mean, his version of 'moving on' was trying to commit suicide.  It took me yelling at him and basically calling him selfish and ungrateful of the life he's got to stop him.  I don't think we're good for each other; I don't think he's good for me.  He's gonna break my heart."

    "How do you know?"  Henry asks, and I look up at him in confusion, having completely forgot he was there, "How do you know that he can't and won't love you if you never put yourself out there to find out?"

    I shake my head, getting up from the couch, "I just...I'm gonna go for a quick walk.  I need some air."

    Mom sighs and kisses my forehead, "D'accord.  Don't stay out too long."

    Smiling slightly, I nod heading towards the door while my brother squeezes my arm as I walk past.  Jen watches me from the hallway as I walk out the door.  I cross my arms over my chest as I head down the street a little, thinking over what Henry said.  I suppose he has a point, but I don't know if I can really handle Godric's rejection.  Even if he could love, could he really love me?  I'm crazy fucked up with a crazy family, a sister-in-law in the Fellowship, and no idea what direction I'd go in if I even did become a vampire.  And Godric's a 2000 year old vampire who still hasn't moved on from his past, just got over his 'I hate humans' mantra, and has just as little direction in his life as I have in mine.  Sighing, I shake my head, wrapping a hand around my neck and rubbing it back and forth before my gaze focuses on the necklace of Godric's; the one I've grown so attached to because it reminds me of him.  I smile softly as I hold it up in front of my face before running my shaking fingers through my hair and leaning against the fence, once again looking out at the horses.  The urge to talk to the vampire who managed to steal my heart is so strong that it overwhelms my reason, and I pull out my cell phone to call him when the sound of squealing tires make me spin around.

    A huge van comes spinning from around the corner at high speeds, and I frown at it for a moment before deciding that a van speeding down the street, not good.  I run as fast as I can pulling out my cell phone and dialing Godric's number with shaking fingers as I move.  I can hear the van getting closer, and I run faster, cursing as I realize I've got the number wrong and try again before pressing talk and hoping that I've gotten the number correct.  The van comes up behind me and slams to a stop, and I scramble to climb over the fence, trying to put distance between the two of us.  I hear the dial tone and just before I get over the fence, hands grab me from behind, yanking me back towards the van.

    The cell phone falls from my hand and into the grass.  "Godric!"  I scream just before I'm pulled into the vans, the doors close, and I pass the fuck out.

Chapter Text

As soon as I awake, I know I'm in deep shit.

    I'm in a dark room with no windows that seems to be made entirely of concrete.  There are boxes of stuff laying and stacked around the room haphazardly, floor to ceiling.  It's cold and drafty, and I'm all alone, laying across a stained and thin mattress made for cots at girl scout camps and stuff.  My wrists are chaffed because they're bound together in plastic cuffs, and I narrow my eyes at my hands as I pull myself into a sitting position, looking around the room.  There are bars surrounding me into a makeshift prison, and I frown, rolling to my feet and walking to the bars to peer out of them.

    "Hello?"  I call out, and when I hear nothing I sigh dramatically, "Hello?  Somebody?  I know somebody's out there!"

    A part of me realized that I should be panicking, but I don't think I've quite grasped the fact that I've been kidnapped yet.  Besides, it could be a joke, right?  I lean on the bars and start singing, loud and off-key, any song I can think of waiting for someone to respond.  I begin with Tik Tok, ad-lib a little Katy Perry, toss in some Selena Gomez, and finally, by the time I'm done half-rapping, half-singing Love the Way You Lie by Eminem and Rihanna a door slams open, and I pause, waiting for them to say something.

    "Shut up!"

    "Who the hell are you?"  I reply.

    The door slams, and I start singing again until I hear it open again, "I said shut up, you fangbanger bitch!"

    "I'll sing all day if you don't get down here and tell me what the hell is going on!"

    The man curses, and the door slams closed again while I groan, leaning my head back against the bars and sliding down to sit on the ground.  Closing my eyes and trying not to freak out, I sing any and every song that pops into my head ranging from All Time Low to Hannah Montana when the door finally slams open again followed by footsteps down the stairs.  I keep my eyes closed and continue singing even as they descend the staircase towards my makeshift jail cell, and I don't stop until they bang against the bars.

    Then, I shake my head, "Are you finally going to share what's going on with the class?"

    "We're not going to tell anything to some fangbanging bitch," someone hisses angrily.

    "In my defense, I only fucked him once," I remark.

    "You're a whore who needs to repent for yours sins, and the sins of the damned fanger that went back on his word and nearly killed my whole congregation."

    The voice sounds familiar, and I look up to see Steve Newlin standing across from me with a man and a woman standing behind him, looking at me with disgust.  It's certainly a new sight from the looks of pity I get from the hospital, the soft looks I gets from Godric, and the disdain I get from the general populace thanks to my tattoos and single facial piercing.  However, I can handle people being pissy about me expressing myself, the look of sheer disgust from associating with a vampire who's protected, taken care of, and helped me through a lot more than any human person ever has gets under my skin quickly and with little effort.  My immediate reaction is to get defensive and angry; after all, they don't exactly strike me as dangerous, but then I remember that Godric had had his home bombed by these people and-hey guess what?-they kidnapped me.  The panic slowly begins to sink in.

    "I'm at the Fellowship," I say slowly, mostly for myself, "why?"

    "A deeply concerned member of the congregation called and asked us to help you find your way," Steve Newlin says with sickly sweet benevolence.

    I frown at him, "This is some kind of re-education center?  Because my best friend's a vampire?"  I'm shocked and terrified at what the hell these people are going to do to me.  I know that even if Godric didn't get my call, he'll still know I'm missing and try to find me, right?  Don't psyche yourself out, he's coming, I think to myself.  I have no idea how long it'll take considering what he said about the blood bond being weak and his only being able to pinpoint my general area, not exactly reassuring.  After all, the Fellowship isn't exactly know for their re-education of vampire sympathizers unless tying Sookie to a vampire and making her burn to repent her sins of dating a vampire counts as 're-education' to them.  It doesn't to the rest of the rational world.

    "Because you associate with creatures of the Devil!" The man who had yelled at me earlier snarls at me from beside Steve.

    "Now, Stephen," Steve says to the man, and I bite my lip, looking between the two of them.  Steve and Stephen?  They make this ridiculously difficult to remain serious.  "Melanie is a guest."

    Is this guy for real?  I stare at him in disbelief, rattling the bars, "Do you keep all you 'guests' in cages or am I just special?"

    "For the time being you are under the influence of a creature of Satan, a killer who has manipulated your mind.  Until we trust that you won't run back to him and endanger us all, you will remain here," Steve responds.

    "And how long do I have to repent before you decide it's not worth the effort and kill me?"

    Steve frowns and looks at the woman behind him, "What did your sister say, Katelyn?"

    Katelyn steps out of the shadow and my mouth drops open as I stare at the woman whose mere presence answers the question of who sent me to be 'Re-educated' by Steve Newlin.  She's tall and slender with dark hair, hazel eyes, and modest taste in clothes given her low high heels, pencil skirt, and chiffon long-sleeved blouse with a small golden cross around her neck.  Quite simply, she's the kind of person who is pretty when you look at her but instantly forgettable when you turn away, and she's also the spitting image of her older sister, "Jen overheard her and the vampire talking on the phone.  She says their bond is weaker than normal."

    "Good," Steve nods, "more time to save her, but not by much."

    I raise my chin defiantly and stare brazenly at the crazy preacher, "And if I don't want to be saved?"

    Steve Newlin glances at Stephen who looks back at him impassively, though I can see the anger and violence that lurks just below the surface.  It's a disconcerting sight, seeing someone so volatile being instructed by a religious zealot with absolutely no morals or ethics to speak of.  However, the most pressing thought in my mind is that my sister-in-law basically tried to get rid of me; we've never gotten along and her distaste for Godric is pretty damn obvious, but I never expected her to send me off to the Fellowship to be 're-edcuated.'  Steve looks back at me before saying, "If you don't repent, then we will be forced to take drastic actions."

    My eyes narrow at the trio, and I cross my arms over my chest, trying to look angry as opposed to frightened out of my mind, "What?  You going to sacrifice me and make me into an example of the unrepentant fangbanger?"  I laugh like it's ludicrous but their faces remain steady.

    "Creatures who associate with the devil should burn like them, too," Steve Newlin tells me while my heart pounds wildly in my chest.  "Your re-education begins tonight.  We leave you in Stephen's capable hands," Steve says, putting a hand on the man's shoulder before looking back at Katelyn who's had her eyes on me through the whole conversation with disgust and hatred in the back of her eyes.  At this moment, what Godric had attempted to do becomes obvious, seeing this kind of hatred for so little reason hurts and weighs down on you, but I also understand that lying down and letting them do whatever they want won't change their opinion of me.  If I'm going to die, I'm going to do it my way, which does not include allowing them to turn me into a vampire-hater that will write off the best thing that ever happened to me just because his state of being.  However,  I don't say anything as he walks away with Katelyn at his heels.

    Once the door closes behind them, my gaze shifts to Stephen who smiles widely at me, a large, unsettling smile that seems almost sinister.  He unlocks the door and steps inside, just as I manage to scramble across the cage, crossing my arms over my chest and watching him cautiously as he stalks into the cage.  Stephen's eyes rest on me, and I shift in agitation, fidgeting with Godric's necklace nervously, and when his eyes linger on it, I drop it like it's caught on fire before reaching down to play with my t-shirt hem.

    "Do you think your vampire's going to come and save you?"  Stephen asks me with doubt clear in his eyes and a teasing lilt in his voice, and I choose to stay silent, unsure if I'd even be capable of speech if I tried.  My heart's pounding too hard and my mind's spinning too fast trying to comprehend what's going on, and I try to get it together all while watching Stephen warily the same way that Mufasa used to watch me when I first adopted her from the shelter.  I feel cornered, like if I move too suddenly he'll pounce.  Stephen takes a step closer to me, "You all think those dead pieces of shit see you as more than just a blood bag."  I take another step back, trying to put more distance between us only to find myself backed against a wall, "Let me clue you in."  He walks over to me, getting in my face and brushing a strand of hair out of my face while I tense up so tightly that my muscles scream for relief while my nose scrunches up and my eyes move to the ceiling imploring any deity that can hear me to get this fucker away from me.

    My mind is screaming at me to push him away, but I can't because I am completely frozen, shivering from total and complete fear.  I'm furious at my sister in law and at the complete injustice that I'm being held against my will simply because I am in love with a vampire.  It's no one's business but mine and Godric's.  I'm also terrified since these shadows of humanity have a really bad track record with being...well...humane and forgiving.  With him being in my face, I can't think, I can't breath, I just can't...

    "You're just food to him, someone to use and manipulate and screw whenever he wants to, but he doesn't love you.  And he won't come for you, I don't care what they think.  He doesn't care about you; you're just another blood bag.  He won't come for you; it's just you and me."  Stephen gives me a wicked smile before stepping back just a little, pulling a bible from his back pocket, "Ready to begin your lessons?"

    These 'lessons' were a combination of bible verses that vaguely made allusions to vampires/demons and printed copies of Steve Newlin's sermons about how evil vampires were.  Throughout the whole thing, Stephen sits too close to me, practically breathing his foul breath down my neck while I sit silently, contemplating everything that's been said so far, everything I've learned.  I tune out the sermons and think about me and myself and my life, because I have ample time to do so since I can't even doze off because Stephen makes me so uncomfortable.  Sleep would be an absolute miracle tonight or today or whatever time it is.  Regardless, my mind first goes to my brother and sister-in-law; I don't think he's in on it, which makes me relieved the more I think it over.  For all my brother's flaws, he's always craved family full of unconditional love that's true to the phrase 'blood is thicker than water'.  I'm sure he knew his crazy ass wife and her crazy ass family are a part of some anti-vampire cult, but I also know that he isn't and he wouldn't condone allowing Jen to have me kidnapped and re-educated like I'm a rebel in North Korea.

    I also face the reality that maybe Godric won't come for me; the bond's weak and, besides, we're just friends right?  Maybe I'm not worth finding.  Maybe I'm not worth searching for.  But the more I think about it, running my hands over where I'd gotten a symbol of our pact tattooed the more I realize he is coming.  Because, maybe he's not in love with me the way I am with him, but he does love me for me.  And through his actions, he's promised to keep me safe, and I have no doubt that he will find...though whether it's before or after they sacrifice me when they realize I have no intentions of being brainwashed I don't know.

    I think about my family, about Annabel and Pete, how they need a strong person to be a part of their lives, a strong woman who doesn't hate what she fears.  And I think about Henry and my mom who I've spent the past thirteen years resenting, though not without good reason.  But it hurts and it's tiring resenting her all the time; I have two choices.  I can completely let it go, everything even the lingering resent just below the surface or allow her to have that clean, fresh start to be a part of my life, maybe not as much as she wants me to but certainly more than before.  I want to see my sibling and be a part of its life, not often and not regularly since I hate babies, but I do want to be there at least a little because that's my sibling, my flesh and blood at the end of the day, which leads me to Garrett.  I won't forgive my father and his wife.  It can't be done, and I realize this even as Stephen stumbles through a passage about 'turning the other cheek'.  There's too much bad blood and phoniness between us; I don't know if they're ever going to be sorry for what they did to my family and that's a problem for me.  However, there's still Garrett, and it's abundantly clear to me that I don't want to know him.  Yes, he's my brother.  And yes, he's a good kid, but I can't look at him without seeing my father and his betrayal.  That's no way for a child to grow up, with his own sister looking at him with bitterness and resentment that won't ever be let go of.  I have to apologize to him for the way things went down the last time we saw each other and let him go.

    Stephen closes the bible abruptly before pausing to stare at me a moment before leaning over me, pressing our bodies together while I tense up.  "I'll be back tomorrow, Melanie, to discuss whether you've found redemption in the light of the Fellowship," he whispers in my ear while my stomach twists with nausea at his proximity and disgusting, hot breath that sticks to my skin, making it itch.  "Good night," he finishes in a dark whisper, turning to exit my cage and the room, shutting off the lights behind him and plunging me into darkness.

I don't sleep at all that night, and throughout the whole night, I twist and turn on the cot, trying to find a comfortable position to sit in, to no avail.  The temperature is high and stifling so I sweat constantly while the nausea and pain in my stomach tells me that it's reaction to Stephen wasn't just a reaction to Stephen.  I've let myself deteriorate too far and made a mistake in not taking Godric's blood before.  The leukemia is back with a vengeance.  However, I have a serious conversation in that room that night even as my eyes grow heavier and heavier while my body becomes weaker and weaker.  I've always prided myself on this strong mental fortitude (never mind how Godric seems to strip it away with his very presence), and I need to use it now.  I need to steel myself and not break down again, because these people don't care that I'm scared or tired or hungry or sick.  They see this as a task of single-minded determination: pin the tail on the traitor.  They'll break me of my love for Godric or die trying.

    When Stephen arrives, it's with Reverend Steve Newlin in tow, and they smile at me when they see make like a guest invited to their tea party.  Although, if I'm being honest, it's less English tea party and more Mad Hatter's, though he didn't exactly kidnap Alice.  Newlin smiles, "Have you seen the ways of God, Melanie?  Do you understand what you're doing, what sort of monster you've sold yourself to?  Have you come to see the ways of the Lord?"

    Fighting the urge to roll my eyes, I shrug and play along, "Yes I have, Reverend.  I repent my sins and see the truth and goodness in the lord.  Amen!  Hallelujah!"  It's a sarcastic comment, but neither men see it that way until my nausea bubbles over, and I bend over, clutching my stomach and hurling blood and stomach bile all over the already disgusting cot.  Someone tsks, and I look up to see Steve Newlin shaking his head at me with disappointment, "This is a sign from God!  You have not repented your wicked way, fangerbanger.  You have one more chance to repent or we'll sacrifice you, draining you of blood the same way the fangers you idolize do to their innocent victims.  Good afternoon, Miss Hawhtorne, I'd listen this time if I were you."

    "The devil's trying to escape you, Melanie," Stephen says once Newlin exits the room, coming up to me much to close again.  I shove him a little before ducking under his arm and moving across the cell, unwilling to be pushed around by him again.  I'm still afraid, but it's time to control that fear as much as I can to keep myself alive.  Stephen smiles wickedly, "You runnin' from me, Melanie?  Do you run from your fanger too?  You get off on that?  I bet you're a kinky little whore, aren't you?"

    "I'm not a whore," I hiss at him as he comes closer to me.

    "Oh no?"  Stephen laughs in disbelief, shaking his head.  "You sell yourself to a fanger, you don't think that makes you a whore?"

    "And you're pushing up on a fangbanging little girl that you kidnapped.  What does that make you?"  I snap out the remark bravely, though I regret it as soon as I see the fury that flits through his eyes at the word.  Stephen is clearly crazy, and he's not the man to piss off.  It's a shame I tend to lose that mental filter most people have to get out of trouble.  I might be better off being scared shitless, at least I kept my mouth shut tightly.

    His hand crushes my windpipe, and I claw at his hands trying to get air, "Don't fuck with me, slut.  You're nothing but a whore and a sinner."

    "'," I manage to wheeze out, and he punches me square in the gut.  I double over, clutching my stomach in unbearable pain, falling to the floor as he releases his hold on my throat.  "A real man doesn't hit a woman or try to screw someone they think is a whore in a cage in the basement of a church."

    He kicks me in the stomach while I wince, leaning down to whisper viciously, "And what would you know about real men?  I've met Godric.  He's a vampire and a child.  You've never had a real man, but I'll show you one."  I can see the excitement in his eyes as he slams his foot down on my hand, and I can hear the bones snap.  There's sexual heat there that comes with the blow to my ribs.

    Unable to shut my mouth, I say, "Do you get off on this?  That's both pathetic and sadistic.  Godric may be a vampire, but at least he's not a psychopath."  The rational part of my brain that I've been completely ignoring, the one that deals with self-preservation sees Stephen snap a moment before it turns to me and says, What the fuck did you do, moron?  And then he kicks me harder, anywhere and everywhere.  He lifts me by my hair and punches me in the face while I struggle to get away, fighting the pain, and screaming out for help, but either nobody hears me...or nobody cares.  After what seems like forever, Stephen tosses my broken, bruises, and bloodied body onto the stained, thrown-up on mattress, and I lay there struggling for breath and trying to wrap my head around the pain to get myself together.  I can't get up so I lay in my own throw up, bleeding and in more pain that I've ever been in.  I can't get up, but I'm too focused on my injuries to worry about that.

    Stephen glares me, "Consider this your lesson for tonight.  I hope you have a better attitude by tomorrow."  He gets up to leave, pausing at the cell door to look at me with malicious satisfaction before exiting the room.

    When the door slams shut, I don't cry, I roll off the disgusting mattress onto the hard floor, biting my bottom lip until there's blood in my mouth to keep from crying out as I crawl to the wall before sitting up slowly and leaning my back against it.  I've never had a problem with 'crazy Christians' as people liked to say, because as long as they weren't pressing their religion up on me, it's none of my business.  However, the Fellowship seems like more than 'crazy Christians'; they go beyond zealots, beyond radicals and beyond fanatics.  The Fellowship reminds me of the Nazis, in the way that some people did wrong because they were afraid or got caught up in something (however, those people had fled the FOTS church when Godric had called out Steve Newlin), and those who stayed are like the other part of the Nazi party, the crazy, sociopaths and violent, hateful psychopaths that found the perfect outlet for their cravings towards violence.  Newlin seems to fall somewhere in between, but Stephen is a sociopath, no doubt at all about that.

    And I pray to God for the first time in years.  I pray that Godric will find me before something worse happens to me.  I pray that someone fed my fricking cats.  And I pray that if God lets me out of this alive I'll go to confession and maybe even a Sunday mass at the local Catholic church to say thank you for not letting me die at the hands of some stark raving mad preacher and his sociopath and sadist guard dog.  And a very small part of me prays that tomorrow never comes.

Again, I don't sleep, spending the whole night zoning in and out of consciousness, staring at the darkness around me and trying not to have panic attacks.  I throw up twice more because of a combination of both my cancer and the stress on me, and I wait longer than usual for Newlin and Stephen to arrive.  When they do, Newlin takes one look at all the mess from my bloody puke and shakes his head, "Her mind has been twisted beyond help.  She is a traitor to her race and must be sacrificed to find redemption."  Newlin gives me a disappointed look before leaving the room.

    Stephen grins at me wickedly, and I fight the pain to get to my feet, watching him warily as he enters the cell slowly with a predatory gleam in his eyes as he waltzes inside the room.  I hold my breath and cross my arms as I watch him, trying to remain impassive even as my heart thundered in my chest.  "Day Three and your vampire still hasn't come to save you.  Are you ready to believe that he never planned to?"  My hand shifts up to grip Godric's necklace while I remain silent afraid that if I opened my mouth I'd say something I'd regret.  Stephen's eyes fall to my hand, and I let go of the necklace quickly while his sinister smile widens, "Did the fanger give you that?"  He moves closer and closer to me, but I hold my ground, shifting from foot to foot anxiously.

    I hear banging upstairs, and I frown, looking and listening, but Stephen doesn't seem to notice and the sound doesn't come again.  "That fanger will never love you.  They're incapable of love.  Do you understand?  You betrayed your race for a creature of Hell that will never love you."

    My head jerks to meet his gaze with defiance, "You don't know the first thing about him, and let me tell you something, Stephen, he's a hell of a lot more capable of love then your psychotic ass is."  And there goes me and my big mouth, but if I'm going to die, it's certainly not going to be without a fight, even a verbal.

    Stephen's face purples with rage before his hand wraps around my throat, slamming me against the wall, my head cracking against it and making me dizzy.  "I'll show you a real man, you fangbanging whore.  I'll leave you screaming louder than that fanger devil you're so in love with," he says, sneering on the word love.  I have little doubt this is a true, but I certainly won't be screaming in pleasure; I wriggle against him while his hand slides down my side, my stomach twisting with nausea while I glare at him.

    "Get off me," I hiss at him.

    I'm momentarily distracted by the sound of banging upstairs and the low cacophony of voices that must be yelling since I haven't heard anything before.  Stephen doesn't notice the noises but takes advantage of my distraction, his hand slipping under my shirt and drawing my attention back to him, "You ready little fangbanging bitch?"

     I open my mouth to tell him to go to hell when suddenly he's ripped off me, and I collapse to the floor too dizzy and tired to stand by myself.  My rib is screaming, my hand is bitching at me, and my who body just feels like somebody ran it through a cheese grater.  And I look up to see Godric looking at Stephen with an impassive face on, though there's clear disgust and fury flickering beneath that facade.  "Are you?"  Godric asks him, and Stephen is shaking with sheer terror.  There's a whoosh and suddenly the blond Viking who'd begged Godric on the roof-Eric-stands in the doorway, looking over the scene before coming to crouch over me.

    "Godric," he says.

    And Godric looks over at us before slamming Stephen against a wall hard enough for him to pass out  and coming to crouch beside me  "I'm sorry," I say to Godric as he pulls me into his arms.

    Godric studies me for a minute, his eyes softening before he speaks to Eric, "Bring him to the nest, Eric.  I will deal with him tomorrow."  Eric nods, giving me one last glance before grabbing Stephen roughly and disappearing from the room.  He leans over me, "I'm giving you blood, and you are not going to argue."

    "What are you trying to say?"  I joke weakly, but Godric doesn't reply, opening his wrist and offering it to me.  I take it wordlessly, knowing I need the blood and he's in no mood to have an argument with me.  The heady, ambrosial blood hits my taste buds, and I moan feeling like I haven't had anything to drink in...well...three days, and when I try to pull back, Godric shakes his head, guiding my mouth back to his wrist to continue drinking.  I can feel the pain my body's in lessening as my wounds begin to fix themselves.

    When he finally lets me stop, he hugs me to his chest, kissing the top of my head, "I need to know what happened, Melanie."

    I can feel sleep that's been eluding me for three days pulling me down, but I try anyway, telling him about the kidnap and what happened while I was there.  "I'm sorry, Godric, I should've known better," I slur tiredly, and Godric nods, lifting me into his arms.

    "It's okay, Lanie, you're going to be okay.  I'm not going to let anything else happen to you, I swear it."

    I let myself relax, feeling safe and comfortable for the first time in days as Godric lifts me.  But I blink back tears shaking my head as a sudden thought comes back to me, "It's not going to be okay.  How can I look at her again?"  I think I'm delusional, in that in-between space when you're on the verge of passing out where say things that you sure as hell never would when you're awake.

    "Look at who," Godric pauses while I sigh, my eyes starting to close.  He shakes me awake, "Melanie, look at who?"

    "Jennifer," a sob burst forth from my chest unexpectedly, "my sister-in-law sold me out to the Fellowship.  What the hell am I supposed to do, Godric?"

    Anger flashes through Godric's eyes, but he simply kisses my forehead, "Do not worry about it, now.  We'll deal with it tomorrow; sleep, Melanie, I know you need it."

    And safe in Godric's arms-not in the Fellowship and not sick and not afraid-that's exactly what I do.

Chapter Text

This time, I don't awake in a prison cell.  I awake in a bed-Godric's bed-alone with absolutely no Godric in sight, but I stretch across it, breathing in his scent and reveling in how good I feel for the first time in weeks all thanks to Godric's amazing blood.  I look down at myself to find myself dressed in a pair of Godric's white cotton pants and a t-shirt that's entirely too big, and I smile feeling clean.  For a moment, I just lay there and relish the fact that it's that time of the morning where everything just seems to make sense and the whole world is at peace.  I take a deep breath and breathe in Godric's unique scent; I feel my whole body relax just before the yelling begins.

    "Please, no, you can't do this!"

    "You have no proof!  You're going to do this with no proof!"

    "I'm human!  You have no right to decide this!"

    Then there's more bickering.  I sigh wanting to stay in bed, but I get up anyway, making my way down the hallway to where Godric's sitting in a chair, looking up at where his blond, Viking progeny, Eric, is holding my sister-in-law firmly in his grip.  My brother's fighting the hold of another vampire looking furious while another vampire holds Stephen.  Steve Newlin struggles in the hold of two vampires, and I raise my eyebrows.  They really think he's going to escape.  Behind Godric, resting a hand on the back of the chair, is a beautiful, Latina vampire that I'm assuming in the new Texas sheriff who took over for Godric, Isabel.

    Isabel shakes her head, "The decision is yours, Godric.  She's your human."

    Frowning at the scene, I look at Godric before following his gaze to land on where my sister in law doesn't look the least apologetic.  Instead, she looks furious and disgusted, which goes to show you exactly what kind of a person Jennifer is.  I can see how furious Godric is just by how tense his whole body is and how impassive his face is; I see the effort it takes him to turn his head away from my sister-in-law to where Stephen stands, suddenly looking like a deer in headlights.

    "And what do you have to say for yourself?"  Godric asks him, suddenly rising to stand in front of him.

    "She deserved it," Stephen hisses while Godric's eyes narrow even more.  My stomach drops, "She's a dirty fucking fangbanger who that that she could make a fool out of me.  I would have shown her exactly what it was being with a real man and not some dead piece of shit, and she would have enjoyed it like the fucking whore she is."

    My gaze turns red as I glare at the man, and Godric glances over his shoulder at me and his gaze softens before he turns back to Stephen.  "I should kill you," Godric says to Stephen who raises his chin defiantly.  Godric shakes his head, "You would just be one more victim in a long line of people I have killed.  However," Godric says, "humans have such short lives, and I have found that as much as I want to take revenge for harming mine, I will spare you and your miserable, pathetic existence.  Just be aware that the next time you threaten what's mine I will do far worse than killing you.  I will make you a shadow of a man."  Stephen cowers under Godric's frightening gaze, and I fight a smile, pressing my hand to my mouth to escape a smile.  Everyone seems surprised, but I'm unexpectedly relieved.  Knowing he could kill someone is one thing, but I think seeing it is something else entirely.  Besides, Stephen's not another stain on Godric's soul.  "And get out of Dallas, because if anyone one else in this room drains you, I'll have no objection," Godric's words are practically a hiss, but they're obviously a threat.

    The vampires in the room give him a frightening smile as the vampire holding Stephen releases him, popping out his fangs for good measure.  Stephen runs from the room, his fear evident while Godric turns to my sister in law, the anger radiating from him palpable; it's clear that between Jen and Stephen, Jen is the one he finds responsible for everything that happened.  Jen raises her head and gives Godric a long, hard glare that he seems unconcerned with while he studies her in silence before looking up at Eric.  Their silent conversation is evident, especially after Eric inclines his head respectfully at his maker.

    "I have often considered the state of humanity.  The Fellowship you idolize prides itself on being more civil than vampires and yet you sell your own sister to them, preparing to sacrifice her life because of a single decision she made that had nothing to do with you," Godric says to Jen trying to control his voice.

    "That fangbanger bitch is not my sister," Jen hisses.  "And she deserved what she got."

    "And you deserve to die far more than that sick madman.  He is a sociopath, but you are a betrayer," Godric replies.

    Jen's glare intensifies while my brother suddenly looks panicked, "No, please Godric, she's my wife.  The mother of my children.  Please, don't take her away from our family."

    Godric spares my brother a single glance before looking back at Jennifer.  "Even your husband thinks you do not deserve to live," Godric comments while Jen just looks affronted, glancing at my brother angrily.  He says nothing in her defense.  "I understand that you're a mother and your children need you, and yet, you would betray your own family member because of your blind hatred for me and my kind.  Tell me, then, why do you think that you should live?"

    "Because you're nothing but a dead freak of nature that shouldn't exist, and Lanie is insane for trusting you and clearly needs a lesson taught to her.  Besides, I thought you'd turned over a new leaf," she scoffs, clearly doubting that that's even possible.  "Would you really take a mother away from her children?  Deprive them of a mother's love?"

    "Why not?  You would take away what I love simply for sport.  Simply because you feel entitled to it so that you can express your seriously skewed opinion.  Why should I not to the same?"

    Wait...what's this about love?  I shake that thought out of my head, he can't be talking about me.  He must be talking about his family, his progeny, his nest.  He's speaking in general...right?

    Jen snorts, "Vampires are incapable of love."

    "It appears much of humanity is hypocritical as well as blind.  Who are you to lecture me about my ability to love?  You have no love for your husband.  No love for your family.  And only use your children as a bargaining chip to spare your life.  You have no sympathy for anyone else's feelings and have so little regard for your own species that you'll sacrifice your own kind to try to prove a point," Godric shakes his head before shrugging and saying point blank, "I want to kill you."  Colton struggles against the vampire restraining him while I realize with singular focus that killing Godric will hurt him in the long run a hell of a lot more than it will hurt Jen, "I want to destroy you painfully and slowly, watching the light of life be extinguished from your eyes."

    I push off from the wall while I watch him struggle to gain control, and I cross the room silently, aware of everyone's eyes on me while Godric's remain on Jennifer who looks scared shitless and ready to break down into tears.  Just as I reach Godric, his hand reaches out to grasp mine, and I hold onto him tightly, "She's not worth it."

    Godric looks at me, "No?  She was ready to watch you burn, Melanie."

    Shrugging, my eyes lock on the remorseless woman in front of me, "And she doesn't give a shit.  Harming her wouldn't do anything to her.  She'd die a martyr, my brother would be heartbroken, I'd be upset for my niece and nephew, and it would haunt you to leave two children motherless, regardless of the fact that their mother's a misguided bitch."  Jennifer glowers at me while I ignore her.

    "Then what do you suggest I do with her?"

    I shrug, "Send her back to Shrevport where she can spend the rest of her life being miserable and unloved."

    Jen's glare intensifies, "God, I can't wait until you die, bitch."

    "At least I'll have people at the hospital for me when I die.  If you got terminal leukemia who'd care enough to go see you?"

    Eric looks amused, and I meet his eyes, shrugging innocently.  Godric looks between the two of us with amusement before looking at Colton, "You will escort your wife back to Shrevport?"

    Colton exhales in relief, "Immediately."

    Godric nods and looks to Isabel who meets his gaze before turning to Jen, "Let it be done, and do not return to this area again."

    Jen fumes, ripping herself from Eric who lets her go immediately, rolling his eyes at her dramatics while Colton grabs her hand, giving Godric a grateful look and mouthing goodbye to me before dragging her out of the nest with him.  It's silent as we all watch her leave, and then Godric wraps an arm around my waist and moving us both to stand beside Eric.  He holds me tightly like he's afraid I'll disappear if he lets go, and I rest my hands on top of his, leaning back into his chest, completely content being with him.

    Isabel frowns at Steve Newlin, "Bring him forward."

    Several vampires shove him to the space in front of Isabel, and he falls onto his knees looking up at her with a lingering high and mighty attitude.  You'd think after getting his ass kicked by the same group of vampires twice and finding out his wife had cheated on him with a vampire sympathizer's brother turned friend to the Area 9 vampires would humble him just a little, but no, apparently not.  Once a hateful narcissist, always a hopelessly hateful, dumbass narcissist.

    Eric looks at Steve Newlin with a raised eyebrow, clearly amused while Godric seems unimpressed.  "He is a madman," Godric whispers while I nod in agreement.

    "You have asked many to die for your insanity.  You kidnapped my sheriff and tried to sacrifice him.  You killed four people with a suicide bomb, you turned my human against me, and you've stolen Godric's and attempted to brainwash and later sacrifice her.  This area has had enough of your radical actions, Reverend.  We had thought we had put an end to the physical aspect of your insanity, but this recent kidnapping has proven you are beyond reason and, quite frankly, have no boundaries."

    "Or morals, or heart, or brain," I whisper while Godric kisses my neck, smiling against my neck.  Eric seems amused by my outburst but frowns when he glances down to see Godric and I so closely entwined.

    "Kill me, then," Steve Newlin declares dramatically.

    "We've been here before," Eric remarks dryly.

    Isabel rolls her eyes, "You're so eager to be a martyr for your cause."

    "Unacceptable," Godric speaks up for the first time.

    "This community has decided on your punishment, Newlin," Isabel states.

    "You have no right to make those decisions.  I am human and under humans laws!  Not the rule of fangers."

    I roll my eyes, "Please, dig yourself a little deeper into the ground."

    Eric seems amused, "Ironic, really."

    "That was the point, Eric," Godric remarks.

    Frowning in confusion, I stay focused on Isabel and Steve Newlin when a beautiful female vampire steps out of the crowd, bowing first to Isabel before inclining her head to Godric, respectfully.  She walks up to Steve, stopping just as she reaches him, "Say your goodbyes to humanity, Steve.  You claim to know so much about vampire kind, perhaps it's time you actually learned what you claim to know so well."  Suddenly the comment about irony makes a lot more sense.

    "Meet your maker, Newlin," Isabel says.  "These crimes against vampires will be your last.  It's time your fanaticism is dealt with appropriately."

    "They consider turning him as punishment appropriate?"  Eric asks Godric.

    "It is for him," I reply while Eric shrugs, looking unconvinced.  Clearly, he finds immortality a gift and not a punishment.

    The woman smiles wickedly at Steve Newlin who shakes his head in denial, struggling as the two vampires move to hold him again, and Godric pulls me away, nodding at Eric as we move back to his bedroom.

    He lets me go immediately, and I walk to the window, curling up in the window seat to look out at Dallas while he lifts me effortlessly, setting me in his lap, facing him.  We remain silent for a moment while I fidget with Godric's necklace, and he runs his hands over my body and through my hair like he's making sure that I'm real.  Abruptly, he leans forward to kiss my forehead before his hand forces my chin up so I can meet his eyes, for once looking utterly and completely open, "I'm sorry, Lanie.  I am so sorry."  And I know that he's talking about so much more than what I witnessed here tonight, some absurd version of vampire justice, facing my sister in law's betrayal, and listening to some insane Fellowship flunky talk shit about me.  It's more about his inability to protect me from everything, and I realize it's not me that needs to forgive him.

    I shake my head and offer him a small smile, "I'm sorry."  Godric looks confused, and I sigh, "It's my fault, Godric.  My fault for not taking more of your blood even though I needed it.  My fault for walking around in the middle of the night and waiting too long to run.  My fault for running away from you."

    "But I-"

    "My fault.  There's nothing you could've done differently, okay?  Nothing."  Godric looks unsure, but I kiss him softly on the mouth, reveling in the feeling of peace and warmth that spreads through me at the light touch, "I mean, how could you know my sister-in-law was a psychopath?"

    "Because I recognized her from the Fellowship while I was there.  I only saw her once, but I should have remembered her before.  She is...vicious."

    "Again, not your fault.  It's mine, just let me own that, okay?  If I hadn't spent the last week running from you, none of this would have happened."  I take a deep breath and run my fingers through my hair, looking anywhere but at him.  "I was scared," I admit while Godric looks both hurt and confused, but I shake my head at him, "Not of you.  It's just...I've never lo-cared about anyone the way I care about you.  No one's ever known as much about me as you do.  I couldn't let you get in closer."


    "I can't let you break my heart, Godric," I blurt, deciding to take Henry's advice...sort of.  "And you can, so damn easily."

    "So you spent the last week abandoning me because you think that I'll abandon you?  You refused to take my blood and refused to talk to me because you were afraid that I would leave you?"  Godric sounds pissed, and I frown, completely floored at his reaction.  I move to get up when his hands move to my waist, holding me still, "Are you blind, Melanie?  I spent the last week going crazy because you wouldn't talk to me.  I thought you regretted what had happened.  I thought you were upset I bit you.  I thought you didn't want me."  I stare at him, shocked while Godric just looks incredulous.  "I do not know if I'm capable of leaving you, Lanie, even if you wanted me to.  I want to turn you right now and bind you to me forever just so I know you won't go anywhere."

    Hope blossoms in me, and I shake my head, swiping tears out of my eyes, "Why?"

    Godric hesitates for a moment before grabbing my hands and looking down at our entwined fingers, "I love you."

    I blink at him, unable to believe what I'm hearing, fighting the joy and love that's rising in me, "What?"

    "I love you, Melanie, and I cannot lose you.  Not to cancer, and not to the Fellowship, and certainly not from a misunderstanding between us," he says in a rush, looking like a hesitant teenage boy for the first time since I've known him.  I'm silent, staring at him with an open my mouth, completely shocked but outrageously happy.  "Melanie, if you don't-I mean, you do not have to-just because I love you-"

    Laughter bubbles up, and I put a hand over his mouth and laugh again before wiping the tears from my cheeks, "Shut up, okay?"  I kiss him hard with joy and passion, absolutely amazed at that miraculous and unexpected turn of events, and Godric smiles against my lips, pulling me closer against him.  I push him back, but he won't let me move farther than a few inches from him.  Regardless, I smack his chest and glare at him through my tears and my smile, "Why wouldn't you tell me that?  Do you know how hard it was for me to be around you knowing I'm absolutely in love with you and didn't think you loved me back!"  Godric's eyes widen before he starts smiling widely,  "Do you realize I could have died not knowing that Godric?"

    "I will not let you die," Godric tells me seriously, smiling at me.

    I roll my eyes at him, "What am I going to do with you?"

    "Marry me," Godric says.

    "Be serious," I scoff.  He meets my eyes, completely serious, and I blink at him, "What are you, crazy?  We are not pulling a Twilight."

    Godric rolls his eyes, "Firstly, no one is going to get pregnant."

    "Amen," I remark.

    "And secondly, this is not some archaic tradition I want to perpetuate from my time period.  We have already had sex," Godric grins with purely male satisfaction.  And I blush but roll my eyes, "As it is.  I love you, Lanie, and I want to be bound to you every way that you cannot run away again."  It's a joke, and I poke his ribcage, shaking my head.

    "We aren't even dating."

    "Yes, because you are so insecure that you thought I couldn't love you and ran away instead of discussing it with me."  Score one for Godric.  "Regardless, we've been somewhat together nearly two and a half months."

    "Somewhat?"  I shake my head, "Are you for real, Godric?  Two and half months is not a long enough time.  How do we even know we can live with each other forever?"

    "You know we can, and regardless, when I turn you-and I will turn you, Lanie, make no mistake about that-we'll be together for hundreds of years anyway." I scowl at him but make no argument.  If I get to spend the next 2000 years with Godric knowing that I won't be haunted by my unrequited for him then I really have no arguments.  Godric looks at me seriously, "I want you Lanie, in every way that I can, and if I have to, then I'll spend the next 500 years convincing you, but I would rather you just make this easy on both of us."

    I fight a smile, "Arrogant."  Godric shrugs in amusement, "Marriage?"

    "Why not?"

    "It didn't work out so well for my parents or my grandparents or my great-grandparents.  And, I mean, look at my brother's marriage."

    Godric kisses my forehead, "I love and adore you, Lanie.  I'm a 2000 year old vampire who can take care of myself and you, and I am unwilling to let you go.  I know you're scared, but whether we are married or not.  This is forever.  Marriage just makes it official."

    My eyes meet his, "I'm not living in Dallas forever."

    "I know," Godric nods, "but New Orleans is out of the question.  Queen Sophie-Anne is volatile and untrustworthy.  I was thinking Bon Temps."

    I smile at him, shaking my head at his choice, "Eric would be close by."

    "So would Colton," Godric remarks, and I bite my lip as I run my fingers through my hair.

    "What would I do with myself?"

    "Anything and everything," Godric replies, his hands cupping my face while hope and what looks like happiness-something I've so rarely seen in Godric-lights his eyes, "you have plenty of time to figure it out."  Thinking about that, of a future with a long life with Godric makes me smile even though I'll have to give up food, sunlight, and watch my family die.  Being with Godric is right, it's everything I'll ever want, and I smile at Godric, still thinking.  "But we'll only have two months at most to plan a wedding."

    "What?"  I ask him, shocked.  "What's the rush?"

    "Your imminent death," Godric replies lightly, kissing me on the lips.


    "I want you as soon as possible, Lanie," Godric tells me.

    "And you'll teach me to fight once I become a vampire?"

    "Yes," Godric kisses my lips again.

    "And I can keep my cats?"

    "Of course," he says, kissing me again, longer this time.

    "And you'll help me plan the wedding?"  I scowl at the word 'planning'.  It was stressful for my sister-in-law, I can only imagine what it'll be like for me.

    "Absolutely," Godric replies in a husky, voice while my whole body begs for his touch.  "And I'll teach you everything I know.  And we'll go to all the history museums you want.  And we'll move to Louisiana.  And we'll travel the world if you want to.  I'm yours.  My world is yours.  And I would do anything for you, Lanie."

    I grin against his lips as they meet mine with desperation and passion, "Yes."

    Godric stills, his breathing completely stopping, "Yes?"

    I laugh, "Of course Godric.  I'll marry you and become a vampire in two months tops, because I love you, and I can't let you go either."  I squeal when he lifts me up and drops me onto the bed, ridding us of both our clothes quickly.  He hovers over me for a moment looking down at me with love and peace that I've never seen in his eyes before kissing me tenderly.  "I love you," I say.

    Godric smiles at me sweetly, "I love you too."

    Some hours later, I sit on the roof content, sated, and humming with happiness, staring at revised sketch for my next and last tattoo: it's still a black diamond heart with a keyhole in the middle; however, this one has the chains falling off and the padlock cracked open instead of being tightly closed.  Trailing down beside it are the runic letters spelling Godric's name.  I smile at it before calling Orlando to tell him that I had another tattoo for him to get started on later today.  I was going to be married.  I was going to be a vampire.  But, more importantly, Godric loved me the same way I love him; I can't stop the stupid grin that spreads across my face just thinking about him.  Eventually, I'll have to deal with Eric and probably Nora, who Godric is clearly not happy with, and I'll have to learn vampire politics and deal with all the hate that comes with that, but I'll be alive and happy and with the perfect 2000 year old vampire I love and who loves me.

    As the sun rises over the horizon, I close my eyes before looking out over the Dallas skyline.  So much to do today.  Call my mom and break the news to her.  Call my brother and break the news to him.  Tell my friends.  Give my three weeks notice at the hotel.  Start packing up for our move to Bon Temps.  Eat as much as I can before my only sustenance is synthetic blood.  But right now, I just bask in the rising sun and don't worry about any of it.

    My gaze shifts down to the new quote I'd picked out for my tattoo: Dans tes bras c'est mon destin.

    My destiny is in your arms.

    I smile, my hand curling around Godric's necklace.  Sounds about right.