Andre put another stroke of paint on the canvas and admired his work. As was par for the course since his childe had woken up, he was painting Richie. There were many other, not so innocent, things he wished to do with Richie, but while the childlike persona remained in place he would not violate that trust. He had seen glimpses of the adult mind behind the protective shield several times and he thought Richie was beginning to return to a state of reality, but he was willing to wait. The three days they had spent together had been very fulfilling for him and he had no regrets about what he had done.
He was going to have to ask Lillie to smooth things over with the Prince, since technically he had broken the law, but he was sure there wouldn't be a problem, not with the beauty and talent he had ushered into being. That was one of the ways he knew that there was an adult under the childlike actions of his new childe; Richie's art was both skilled and not in the least childish. Richie had picked up a pencil of his own volition after only a few hours of his new life and Andre was certain he had done the right thing. His childe would be the perfect Toreador.
He looked up at his subject to find that Richie was no longer reclining on the chaise, but was standing up looking at him.
"You're not supposed to move when I'm painting," the older vampire said as if scolding a child, since that was how he was used to dealing with Richie, "go and sit back down."
Surprisingly, Richie did not do as he was told as he usually did, in fact he smiled a rather predatory smile and walked towards Andre instead. There was nothing childlike in the expression that looked at him now and Andre realised that the real Richie might actually be back.
"I don't want to sit down," Richie said, walking right up to him so that they were only inches apart; "I'm in the mood for more interesting things."
Andre felt the heat in his belly stir. He had been doing a very good job of ignoring it, but with Richie so close and so obviously making advances he let it grow.
"Welcome back," he said, allowing Richie to reach out and touch him.
Even the touch of Richie's fingers on his shirt was electric and he could feel the passion in his childe. New Toreador often found themselves at the mercy of their needs, so Andre was not really surprised and he had been waiting for this moment since his childe had awoken the first time so he was not about to argue. The hand that snaked behind his head was surprisingly strong, but he did not mind and enjoyed being drawn in for what was a very passionate kiss. Richie knew how to use his mouth, that was for sure and Andre allowed his childe to take what he wanted. When Richie finally drew back he was flushed and his eyes were almost gleaming.
"I need," Richie said, seemingly lost in wants far greater than a mortal would have been used to.
"And you shall have," Andre told him and let his childe lead him across to the chaise.
He wanted to taste what was his, but he was willing to let Richie lead for a little while; he would show his childe who was the master soon enough and then they would both be satisfied. Richie pushed him down on the chaise, climbing on top of him and then there was a snap.
"Opps," Richie said, pulling the long, splintered end of one of Andre's larger brushes from under his knee, but it didn't stop the young Kindred from continuing what he had been doing.
Richie just put the shard of brush on the back of the chaise and returned to his previous focus. Andre purred in appreciation as Richie began to undo the buttons on his shirt, placing a small kiss on the revealed skin after each one gave in to his ministrations. This was what he had been greatly hoping for and Richie was not disappointing him at all. The embrace often lowered sexual inhibitions and Andre sensed none of those he had felt in Richie when he had first met him.
Everything was just about perfect, that was until Richie sat up straight and looked down at him. There was something in the gaze that was looking at him which was not right, something below the passion and lust and Andre felt the fist moment of unease.
"The game's over," Richie said in a tone so cold it could have frozen water, "now it's my turn."
Before Andre could defend himself Richie had lifted the broken brush and was bringing it down on his chest. Andre felt the pain of the wood slicing into his chest and piercing his heart as his body completely froze. He was helpless, paralysed by the makeshift stake and Richie just leant over him, madness in his eyes. For the first time Andre realised he did not understand what he had made at all and he wondered how long he had left to live.
Dawn was just beginning to colour the sky and Richie had absolutely no idea how he came to be wandering up to an all night cafe. The only item of clothing he was wearing that he recognised as his own was the brown leather jacket with his sword nestled in its usual place. The rest was nothing he remembered ever owning, including the black silk shirt and the new black jeans. The last thing he vaguely recalled was Frank standing over him and telling him to get out of his sight, the rest was hazy at best. There were vague recollections of men with glowing eyes, and hypnotic words being whispered in his ear, but they couldn't be called real memories.
He honestly had no memory at all of where he was or what he was doing except walking. It was as if the light was somehow helping to clear his mind from where it had been completely fogged over, even though the brighter it became the more it hurt his eyes. Everything was too bright and too loud and he felt as if he was going slightly mad.
That was why, when he saw someone he knew sitting in one of the booths, he grasped at it and went straight to them. It seemed like quite a coincidence that he just happened to be walking into a place that one of the few people he knew in the area frequented, but there was nothing in his memory to tell him how he came to be there, so he had no idea how he could have known.
"Frank?" he said tentatively, since the cop didn't seem to have heard his silent entrance.
The man whirled in his seat and his eyes opened wide with shock. It appeared that the last person Frank had expected to meet here was Richie.
"Richie," Frank said with a surprised note to his voice, "we'd all but given you up for dead."
Richie frowned a little more at that, since the one thing he did remember was Frank finding out he was very hard to kill. A wave of fatigue stopped him thinking about it too hard, however, and he just sat down.
"What's going on in this city, Frank?" he asked pointedly, needing someone to help him find out what was going on. "Something's happened to me that I don't understand, and I want answers."
It was at that point that Frank looked at him very hard and then reached out and touched his hand. Something about that definitely struck a chord in the cop.
"Jesus, you're Kindred," Frank said almost too loudly.
Whatever that meant to Frank, it upset him, but Richie was no closer to understanding. The growing light was beginning to make his eyes ache and his head pound and he really didn't know what was happening.
"What are Kindred?" he asked, almost desperately and brought a halt to whatever Frank had been suspecting. "What's happened to me? Why can't I remember?"
As he became agitated, he felt the world brighten to painful levels and he shivered from head to foot. Frank's eyes opened wide in shock at something he saw then, but Richie was too busy rubbing his eyes and asking the world to settle down. He felt so lost and the closer the sun came to fully rising the worse he felt.
"I'll explain as much as I can," Frank said quickly, looking rather worried, "but not here. Let's get you somewhere a little more private and a lot darker, before you get a suntan you won't forget."
Richie still didn't understand, but when Frank stood and pulled him to his feet by the arm he went without argument. He was feeling less and less like he was in control of his own body, even though his thoughts were slowly beginning to make sense. Frank took him to his car and then drove them somewhere fast, but Richie was too busy hunkering down in the seat to care where they were going. When they reached what Richie assumed was Frank's apartment, Frank led him in and then closed all the curtains and locked the door, whilst leaving Richie sitting on the couch. Richie was suspicious of such odd behaviour, but he didn't really know what else to do.
"Are you going to tell me now?" he said as his companion finally stopped moving.
Frank appeared reluctant, but he did sit down on a chair slowly and looked as if he was thinking about it.
"I think you've been recently embraced," the cop finally said in a very careful tone, "you've been turned into a vampire."
Richie was pretty sure his face showed exactly what he thought of that.
"Not like you see on TV," Frank hurried on quickly, clearly having seen his expression, "but still blood drinking, night dwellers. I'm not really an expert, I'm more in this by accident. Embracing is when they drain all your blood and replace it with Kindred blood, then you become one of them."
The feeling of his life slipping away in slow blissful second caught Richie off guard, and as he remembered the world brightened again. At least with the curtains closed this didn't seem to hurt him anymore.
"Do you remember who did this to you?" Frank asked and Richie wondered how much he was giving away in his expression.
"No," Richie replied, snapping back to reality, "but they must have given me these clothes, only the jacket is mine."
Frank had the feeling that something was very wrong and that Luna was not going to approve. Ever since he had seen Richie in the café, something had been off and there was something almost tangibly strange about the creature who was Immortal and Kindred, he could feel it. Richie seemed to have no clue what a Kindred was and yet he had to have been with one for several days. Luna had scoured the city looking for the missing Immortal and no one hid that well unless they were being hidden by like minds. Half the time Richie looked so lost and helpless that Frank could almost overlook the fact that, some of the time, the Immortal was staring at him with orange eyes.
Frank had tried to explain all he knew about Kindred, which, he knew, wasn't the full picture, but it was a start. Then he had tried to convince Richie to go to Luna, after all this was definitely Kindred business now, but Richie had reacted badly to that idea. Considering the reservations Frank had about the way Kindred did business, he didn't blame Richie and had dropped the subject pretty quickly. Instead he had offered to make coffee and Richie had accepted, hence he was in the kitchen waiting for the machine to finish its cycle.
The fact was he knew he should take Richie straight to Luna, but he wasn't sure what Luna would do. There was something very not normal about Richie and he was clearly having mental issues after the embrace and Frank was slightly afraid that Luna would decide to find out how to kill Richie and be done with it. The one thing he was sure of was that Luna cared more about the Masquerade than anything else and if Richie threatened that he was toast.
He couldn't help wondering if Richie really was Kindred, or if his guest was something else entirely, given his unusual physiological peculiarities. The only thing he did know was that Richie had been dicked around by a vampire and he was going to help him.
The coffee machine finally made the familiar burble and he filled two mugs with the dark liquid before heading back into the other room. What he did not expect to find was the curtain partially open and Richie standing in the direct light. Richie was wearing the shades he had had sitting on the sideboard and didn't look as if he liked the brightness much, but Richie was still standing in full sunlight. Frank thought that when it came to Kindred, that should not have been possible and his suspicions began to solidify.
"I think," Richie said, turning and looking at him, "starting off Immortal has its advantages."
"I think," Frank replied in kind, "you might be right."
He walked over and handed Richie the mug of coffee.
"So," he said, glancing out the window at the clear blue sky, "did you just feel like spontaneously combusting, after what I just told you, or this a general suicidal tendency?"
For the first time since they had met in the café, Richie laughed and then pulled the curtains closed.
"Call it dangerous curiosity," Richie replied and pulled the shades off, putting them back on the table before sitting down. "Mac thinks I have a death wish half the time."
That reminded Frank of the other person who had been running around frantically for days trying to find his guest. He had been so wrapped up in Kindred affairs that he'd all but forgotten Duncan MacLeod.
"Maybe you should call MacLeod," he suggested, moving to sit down as well; "he's been looking for you as well."
Richie frowned at that and several different emotions skittered across his face. It was a little disconcerting because it almost looked as if Richie was having many different reactions to the same thing, and not in a good way.
"No," Richie said eventually, "I can't, not yet. I need to figure this out. I don't want Mac to end up in the middle of this as well; he's likely to go all hero on me and get himself killed."
Frank has a suspicion that that was not all that was going on in Richie's head, but he wasn't about to argue. If it was Kindred business it was better done at night anyway and he needed some sleep. Richie could have the couch and he hoped that by evening things would be looking more sensible.
"Drink up," he said, taking a large swig of his coffee.
With a salute of his mug, Richie followed suit and Frank began to think about more mundane things, like where the spare blankets were. There wasn't a lot left to talk about so Frank finished his coffee quickly and then climbed to his feet to find the things Richie would need. When he came back into the living room with an arm full of blankets, some towels and a few other things he had looked out, Richie was sitting at one end of the sofa doodling on the phone pad. Whatever he was doing had all of Richie's attention.
"I'll just leave these here," Frank said, putting his burden down on the sofa and the only response that came back was a distracted grunt.
Looking over Richie's shoulder he saw a rather abstract design that Richie seemed to be totally focused on creating. He began to think Richie's sire might be Toreador and had to wonder who out of Lillie's brethren was that stupid.
Frank had a rather restless night's sleep, but he wasn't suddenly awakened by teeth on his jugular in the middle of the night, so he counted it as a win. When he eventually walked out of his bedroom he expected to find Richie still asleep or just waking up, but what he found was all the bedclothes stacked neatly on the end of the sofa and Richie standing next to the window, pristinely turned out, drinking a coffee and watching the sun go down.
"There's coffee in the pot," Richie said in a rather off hand tone.
It was a big change from the morning; Richie didn't seem lost at all anymore and Frank just went to find himself some caffeine without commenting. He felt much more alert with the coffee in his system and he paused, just watching Richie for a while. The first thing he noticed was that Richie had borrowed one of his shirts. Given how lightly he slept these days he wondered exactly when his guest had snuck into his room to the wardrobe without asking.
"I'm going to the Haven," Richie said, turning away from the window as the last rays of sun left the sky, "are you coming?"
The eyes that looked at him were ice blue, but they held a danger that could only come from a Kindred gaze. Frank didn't feel like arguing with that visage so he nodded without bothering to ask why.
"Give me five minutes," he said calmly, even as a small shot of adrenaline soaked his system as the sudden danger he felt.
This was not the same person he had invited into his home that morning, but he was not about to let Richie just walk off on his own. He moved quickly into his bedroom to retrieve the rest of his things and then he took one last look at himself in the mirror to make sure he was presentable before going back into the living room. He was almost surprised to see Richie still standing there waiting for him, he had kind of expected Richie to lose patience and leave.
"Let's go," he said and picked up his car keys.
They walked up to the outside of the Haven a little while later with the Immortal in the lead, and Frank had the feeling that little or nothing could have stopped Richie as he walked in. Kindred recognised Kindred immediately and there were several glances in Richie's direction. Frank was pretty sure those who had been in the club the other evening recognised the newly embraced individual and because of that were immediately underestimating him. Advance knowledge was sometimes a block to seeing the truth and Frank only spotted a couple of faces that took proper stock of Richie in the same way he had learned to.
They hadn't spoken much in the car and Frank wasn't exactly sure why they were here, but he wanted to keep an eye on Richie. The fact that he had the slight suspicion that the Prince of the city may just have something in Richie he couldn't deal with made Frank smile.
"I'm looking for Luna," Richie said to the barman as soon as they had covered the distance between the door and the counter, "is he here?"
Frank knew the Kindred behind the bar was one of Lillie's and he saw the vampire make the mistake of not actually *looking* at the Kindred to whom he was talking. The Toreador glanced at the Immortal, recognised him from his last time in the Haven and made the wrong assumption. It was almost fun to watch for Frank, if it hadn't been quite so dangerous.
"What's a fledgling like you want with the Prince," the barman responded with a slightly disdainful look.
That was not the right thing to say to Richie, as it turned out, it seemed the Immortal was in no mood to play games. Reaching one hand over the counter, Richie took hold of the other Kindred's waistcoat and pulled him off his feet. The glowing scowl Richie showed the other vampire was impressive in Frank's opinion, even if he didn't really appreciate things like that. Frank knew that Richie shouldn't have been able to do that and that the older Toreador should have been able to put him in his place, but the action appeared to make the barman reconsider his position.
"I didn't come here to answer questions," Richie said slowly and very precisely, "I came for answers. Now, is Julian Luna here?"
What was worrying Frank just a little was that Richie seemed to have picked up a faint Russian accent from somewhere.
"No," the other replied, clearly afraid of something he did not try and understand.
Richie dropped the other Kindred as if he was now irrelevant and then turned on his heel. Frank had to hurry to keep up as Richie strode across the club back towards the door. Unfortunately some of the patrons didn't seem to want to let them leave and six of Cameron's boys barred their way. Frank recognised them from their rap sheets. The fact that Richie smiled widely when he saw the challenge did not do anything to defuse this situation.
"Playing with the pet cop?" one of the Brujah asked snidely.
"Get out of my way," Richie said evenly without even responding to the jibe, "we're leaving."
Frank began to pray he wasn't about to end up in the middle of a Kindred bloodbath.
"Not until you apologise to our friend," the leader of the group shot back and gave a mock salute to the barman.
Frank knew for a fact that Kindred tended to stick to their own clan and that Brujah being friends with Toreador was not likely, but that didn't seem to be stopping those in front of them. From what Frank could see from his position, the half amused look never faltered on Richie's face and that really should have warned them.
"I'll ask once more," Richie said calmly, although he didn't really sound like he cared, "get out of my way or I'll make you."
The tension in the club went up a notch and, as Frank glanced around the room, he could see lots of people looking at them. This was going to be messy, he could tell.
The thugs laughed as if they were all connected up to the same voice box, and Frank saw Richie lose patience.
"Okay, times up," the new Kindred said loudly and deliberately stepped right up to his first adversary.
It couldn't even be called a fight really. The Brujah didn't even get a look in as Richie took hold of his jacket and almost casually threw him across the room. Now Kindred were strong, Frank had seen that, but the effortless way the throw was executed showed the deep routed skill Richie possessed and Frank wondered how deadly Richie had been before being embraced. It didn't take the other assailants any more to realise that something was not quite right here, they seemed to be at least that bright. As far as Frank understood it, Kindred didn't get to be that fast until they were a lot older than a few days. Like a pack of animals the Brujah decide to attack on mass.
The first to reach Richie was met with a swift blow to the head and went reeling backwards. The second received a knee in the stomach and was bodily thrown into one of his accomplices. A little improvisation was required for the third Brujah, and a foot shot out with deadly accuracy hitting him squarely on the chin. The fourth seemed to think he'd blocked the arm coming at him, but quickly discovered that the elbow was far more painful.
This left one standing after he had disentangled himself from his companion who had been thrown at him. Frank enjoyed the look of shock and fear in the Brujah's when the Kindred was faced by Richie just standing there having barely ruffled his jacket.
It seemed that, although violent, not all Brujah were stupid because this one held up his hands as he surveyed his fallen comrades and actually got out of the way. It was all over in a matter of seconds.
"Coming Frank?" Richie asked calmly and slowly walked past the other Kindred.
It was rather a moot question, there was no way Frank was staying in the Haven. He didn't quite believe what he had seen, but he was not about to question it now. He could live without a pack of angry Brujah on his tail. They walked out the way they had come, and Frank didn't need to be told where they were going. He was sure phones had started ringing all over the city.
End of Part 4