Claire sat upon the floor, her back against the front of the couch, staring down at the wooden floorboards of their home in unblinking, stunned silence as Sean went about recalling the events that had happened on that Thanksgiving night, less than a week earlier.
Seeing that she nearly appeared to be in shock, not having looked back up at him once since he had begun the story, an hour earlier, Sean swallowed worriedly, and squatted down to address her in a near whisper, while still forcing himself to remain quite a few feet away from her, “Claire?” he stated. His voice was full of not just sadness, but also concern. He watched her for several more moments as she said nothing, barely even appearing to remember to breathe, and then he knew that it somehow had been a good idea for him not to have mentioned the baby’s death, as she was barely coping with his own at that point. Not that he had ever expected her to have been able to cope with any of it, at all, let alone sit there and listen as he recalled the entire story to her.
Finally, she did speak, though the words were practically a breath, rather than actual words, “You’re dead, then?” she managed to choke out.
“Yes, Claire.” he stated, tears almost apparent in his own voice.
“A vampire, then?” she stated, her tears finally beginning to well up, almost as though just then remembering how to be able to cry at all.
“Yes, Claire.” he repeated, his own voice dropping that much more as he bit back his own tears, knowing the sight of those drops of blood forming in his eyes was the one thing that would be most likely to send her running, having not quite found the strength to have forced her feet to do so, yet, amazingly.
“But vampires aren’t real!” she denied angrily, raising her voice, almost as though hoping she could will it to be the truth once again, just by stating that it still was.
“Am I real, Claire?” he whispered to her, finally giving into his urge to touch her again as he moved forward to claim her nearly shaking hand.
Though, as his cold hand touched hers, she immediately drew back, and rushed to stand once more, backing away from him and toward the corner of the tiny home, as she did. The action itself nearly broke his heart as he slowly stood as well, head tilted downwards as he could feel those drops of red forming at the corners of the pale pools of blue.
“Claire,” he managed, though still couldn’t bear to look up to see all of that fear in her eyes, fear of him. “You’ve never pulled away from me once, in twelve years…” he stated, not really finishing his point, knowing it was most likely futile.
“You said yourself,” she began with a sadness that almost resembled bitterness, almost, “you’re no longer the man I married, right? No longer something I’d want in my life? Your words Sean.” she whispered.
“Yes, they were my words, but I still feel like I’m the man you married, even if every law of nature says that I’m not….I still feel, about you, the way I’ve always felt.” he swallowed again, still not letting himself look up to see any reaction from her, “And now, I know, I’ll feel this way, not just for the rest of my life, but for eternity.” he stated in that same whisper, “And knowing that you’re terrified of me now, that feels like a worse death than the one I’ve already endured.” he finished, finally having to turn away from her, just to hide those bloody tears that he no longer could fight, despite all of the strength he now had.
Claire took a deep breath as her own salty tears flowed freely over her cheeks, feeling just as much pain as he, at the sound of his words. She was quiet a long moment as she looked up at the roof above them, trying to find any bit of strength at all to assure him, him, that she did also still love him just as much as she always had, despite all that terror, which she now felt for more than just herself. Though, the terror she felt, somehow, was not a fear for she and their child’s lives, as it most likely would have seemed to be, but rather, a terror that somehow, Sean being what he now was, would make him stop caring for her.
“Sean, I…there’s just so much…I just can’t….” she stammered trying to find her way through a sentence that she had no idea how she even had intended to end. Though, she didn’t need to find those words just yet, as a loud knock then came at their door, despite it having already been nearly three hours past dusk.
They both swallowed hard and looked toward the door as Sean wiped at his cheeks before somehow forcing his feet to carry him over to that door. Another deep sigh before he opened the door, to his sire.
“Evening, Sean.” Haven said quietly as the door was opened to him.
“Why are you here, Haven?” Sean said, the emotional exhaustion obvious in his tone, even to someone without Haven’s intuition.
“The rest of my household are celebrating: The Night of the Raven. I think that’s what they called it.” he said, forcing a small smile as he couldn’t help moving his eyes past Sean to where Claire stood in the corner of the room, trying to hide the way she wiped at her own cheeks, though Haven’s expression immediately darkened as he did settle those blue eyes on her.
“The what?” Sean asked, then just shook his head, “So why are you here?” he repeated, though he did not even really have the strength to carry on much in the way of conversation at that point.
“Sean.” Haven said abruptly, “Come with me.” he stated firmly as he gestured for Sean to follow him back into the cold night.
“Haven, I really…”
“Sean.” he said more firmly as he nodded for Sean to follow him, which Sean did with a resigned sigh, not even bothering to need to find a coat before stepping out of the house behind his sire.
“Haven, I really need to be here for her right now, or try to be.” he added more quietly as Haven led him quickly out to their previous night’s meeting spot in the barn.
“No need to worry, Sean. You gave her your blood, didn’t you?” Haven said in a surprisingly cool tone.
“How did you…” Sean began, then shook his head, able to arrive at the answer on his own, “I didn’t plan to. It was an accident. I cut myself, and she kissed my finger, and….” he then choked on the rest of the statement, “my blood killed my own baby, Haven.” he forced out the words, collapsing against the wall of the barn in a complete and total despair, which immediately ended Haven’s disapproval and tore at his heart, realizing that his amazing intuition had unfortunately been more accurate than he ever admitted, when he had first told Sean that the cost for keeping Claire in his life could be greater than he could ever have imagined.
“Sean, I wish there was anything at all I could say…but I know that’s not possible.” he just sighed as he turned away in deep thought.
“And now,” Sean continued, interrupting Haven’s thoughts as he wiped at his red-streaked cheeks again, “now, I told her what I was, what we are, and now she’s terrified of me…without even knowing, yet, what happened to our baby because of me, too.”
“So, she told you then, about the baby, at last?” Haven asked, his voice almost as quiet as Sean’s.
“No, not yet, but considering everything else I just told her, I’m pretty sure that thoughts of raising a family together, aren’t exactly foremost in her mind.” Sean simply shook his head again, wishing he had been left to die there in that alley, after all. True, it would have caused Claire great pain to lose him like that, but this was so very much worse.
“So, it’s possible that she never knew about the baby at all.” Haven told him, only a tiny glimmer of hope now appearing for his new childe.
“But if she did,” Sean began, “now she has to deal with not only knowing what I’ve become, but also, deal with the death of the only child we ever could have had.” he finished, choking on those words as well, as the truth of the statement hit him at last. It was true that he and Claire had never planned to have a family, but that was a different thing altogether than knowing that the only family they ever could have had, was now gone, forever. Forever. There was that word again, Sean thought as he just closed his eyes against further tears once again.
“I’ll go talk to her.” Haven finally offered, seemingly out of nowhere.
“Talk to her? Talk to her about what? What’re you gonna do, Haven?” Sean asked worriedly as he stood.
“I’m just going to find out, if she did know about the baby.”
“What? Haven, you can’t just go in there and ask her about our now dead baby, which I’m not even supposed to know about. Especially after how upset she already is.”
“I don’t have to ask her, just to find out, Sean. I am a one hundred and fifty year old vampire, remember?” he needlessly reminded him.
“Please, Haven, her emotions can’t possibly tell you an answer like that. At best, you’d just be guessing.” Sean pointed out, “And this is way too important to just guess at.” he added.
“You’re assuming I can only see her emotions?” Haven added cryptically.
“Don’t Haven.” Sean warned, “I don’t want you digging around inside my wife’s head, she’s been through enough, thanks to me. I’m not going to subject her to that too.”
“She wouldn’t even know I was doing it Sean. Don’t you want to know?”
“Don’t do it, Haven.” Sean just shook his head, “I can barely stand how much pain I just think she’s in. I don’t need proof of how much she hates me, now.” he added in the same whisper, turning away once more.
“If her hating you is your greatest fear,” Haven began, his voice seeming to relay a bit of resignation at last, “then I suppose you should finish the bond that’s already been inadvertently started. Then she’d never hate you, no matter what.” Haven told him again.
Sean sighed again, “But those wouldn’t actually be her real feelings anymore, would they?” another shake of his head.
“They would feel real to her.” was the only answer Haven offered, “And isn’t that what feelings are: The way you feel?” he shrugged, trying to justify, himself, the unnatural sort of love that Ana and Chantarell, and all of his former servants, felt for him, as well.
“She’d have to do everything I say then. She’d have to obey my every wish.”
“You almost sound like that’s something you wouldn’t want.” Haven returned, with only a brief smile.
“But that’s not Claire. That wouldn’t be her at all.” Sean looked down again, “That would be her doing some unnatural imitation of every other woman who I could have had, and never wanted…not the way I want her.”
Haven was quiet a long moment, thinking on Sean’s words, before finally speaking again, “Then I guess, in the matter of two nights, and however much pain made it possible, you have narrowed your choices down to one, after all.” Haven stated simply.
Sean raised an eyebrow, “Which choice?”
“The one that you didn’t really get, on the night that you died.” was Haven’s only answer as he moved silently toward the door of the barn, “I’ll return tomorrow night, to bid you farewell, this time.” another pause, “But I do need to warn you, if you do make that choice, there will be others who won’t be very happy with you doing so, considering they’re not very happy with me, for making you into what you are now. That’s why we’re leaving again. I’ll come back tomorrow night, just in case the two of you will need to be our traveling companions, after all.” and with that, he disappeared into the night once more.
When Sean returned to the house, he was almost surprised to see that she actually hadn’t locked him out of it. Not that a door lock would have stopped him, had he really wanted to get in. But what was even more surprising, and not nearly as pleasantly, was when he found Claire in their bedroom, sitting atop the bed, still wearing tears upon her beautiful face, her shaking hand tightly gripping a small kitchen knife, poised above her wrist, staring intently down at those shaking hands through her tears.
“Claire, what are you doing?” he exclaimed as he rushed to the bed.
“This is what happened to you, right?” she choked, looking up through those tears, though still not loosening the hold on the knife, “You died and he brought you back? That’s how it happened, right?” she choked again.
“Claire, stop it. Give me the knife.” he ordered, reaching his hand toward her, though not actually taking it from her grip, terrified that the contact would cause her to startle once more, and possibly prematurely do the damage he was trying desperately to prevent.
“Did it hurt a lot?” she asked through continued tears, moving the knife that much closer to her wrist.
“Stop it Claire. This isn’t what you want to do. I guarantee it.” he told her with breaking voice.
“But it is, Sean.” she sobbed as she pressed the blade against her skin, not yet tearing flesh, but the intent was obvious.
“No, Claire. I didn’t choose to die! Why would you?” he pleaded, knowing he could wrest the knife away from her, but still terrified of the mere chance that he just might not be quick enough, considering she now held it firmly against that vein.
“Because,” she breathed, “even if you’re supposed to be a monster, now, you’re still you, and you will still be young, and beautiful, and strong, and powerful, forever…I’ll just be the woman who grows older and weaker, and less and less beautiful; barely a memory of the girl that somehow made you fall in love with her…and I don’t ever want to stop being her. I don’t ever want to stop being that girl you fell in love with, not ever. Cause, like you said, that would be worse than any death either of us could ever feel.”