A blizzard was raging hard as they passed thru Pennsylvania on that January night. By only nine o’clock the group was forced to find shelter a mere two hours after they had started that night’s travels. None were too happy at having to lose at least one entire night’s travel time due to the weather, but they knew that the horses were not likely to fare well thru the ever dropping temperatures and ever deepening snowfall.
Upon finding another small town inn, the three women had moved from the carriage to claim the room for the evening and, of course, the following day, when they still wouldn’t be able to travel, regardless of weather. Haven nodded for Sean to follow him into the pub next to the inn, while the women tended to the room.
“Suddenly have the urge for a pint, after a century and a half?” Sean mumbled to Haven, Claire’s unfailing sadness easily affecting his own mood.
“We’re going inside because you spoke to me of servants just a fortnight ago.”
“Yes, and not since.” Sean returned pointedly as he slowly followed Haven to trudge thru the snow, toward the entrance to the dimly lit pub.
“We may be forced to spend more than one night in this place,” he began, gesturing to the still heavily flying snow around them as they reached the door, “so, this may just be the place to attain those servants you spoke of..” Haven informed.
“I’m still not even sure I like the idea, Haven.” Sean admitted, dropping his voice further as they entered the room full of human patrons.
“Would you prefer to leave Ana and Chantarell to watch over all three of us for the rest of our days, not ever getting a moment’s rest of their own?” he asked bluntly as he led them to the far corner of the room, where the two could easily survey the rest of their companions.
“They sleep at night, when they can.” Sean argued, though weakly, as he took the seat across from Haven.
“They used to take shifts, one stayed awake during the day to watch over me, while the other slept. Then at night, I would attend to the needs of whichever had slumbered with me that day.” he then moved to wave the serving girl away without placing an order, which only served to cause her to scowl back at them, regardless of their beauty, “Their needs are now being neglected as they are both now required to be three times as vigilant during the day, and three times as exhausted, and hungry, during the night.” he added pointedly.
“They eat.” Sean continued his argument, though even more weakly than before as he sighed at those drinking merrily around him.
“They have more than one kind of hunger, Sean.” Haven reminded, only causing Sean a deeper sigh, “It’s been almost two months. The two of you will have to begin looking out for your own needs, soon.”
“Meaning, claiming servants?” Sean replied, not really needing an answer, as he already knew it.
“At least one, though I would recommend two, one for each of you, not to mention, other reasons for needing to have multiple servants.” he reminded.
“So they can tend to each other’s needs, right?” Sean scoffed, though quietly.
“I believe you were also concerned about Claire worrying about your, other uses, for Ana, weren’t you?” Haven reminded again.
“Shouldn’t Claire be here to have some say in this?” he said as he forced his eyes to move over the unassuming humans around them.
“It may be easier to bring your own choice to her first, just to help warm her to the idea of servants, at all. Look how hesitant you are, and you are adjusting remarkably better than her, already, as it is.”
“What do you expect, after what happened to Viola, and the baby?” Sean asked him a little roughly.
“So she finally told you about it, then?” Haven repeated the question he had asked his childe before.
“No, but still, it’s gone now. Nothing will change that.” Sean returned quietly.
“So, then she most likely did not know about it, so I think your previous statement should have ended with Viola, don’t you?” Haven returned smartly, his impatience at Sean’s hesitancy becoming more apparent.
“Still, I doubt she will ever get over it. I was even less responsible for the baby’s death, than she was for Viola’s, and I’m a long way from over that.” he mumbled.
“But, you are adjusting. She is not. Which brings us back to why you should choose the first servants, and she will simply have to grow into the idea.” Haven told him once more.
“How do I help her adjust though, Haven? I need a way!” Sean asked desperately, leaning over the table to accent the words.
“I thought we were discussing servants.” Haven said shortly, not meeting his childe’s eyes.
“Why won’t you help me? Why won’t you tell me?” Sean asked with equal parts despair and anger.
Haven sighed, finally looking back towards those ice colored eyes, “Because, Sean, there is no way to help her adjust, no secret power, or formula…short of me erasing her goddamn mind.” he added the last part in a nearly inaudible tone.
“Erasing her mind?” Sean gasped.
“A little quieter please.” Haven shot back in a whisper, purposefully casting his eyes around the room.
“You could do that?” Sean finally asked after another long moment..
“She’s barely herself already, do you really want me to erase even more of her Sean, really?” Haven scoffed bitterly.
Sean looked down sadly, knowing that he would never want that, he just wanted her pain to end, “No, I just…I feel so helpless. We---you, have all this power, and still, she’s barely a shell.” he paused for a long moment, then couldn’t help adding, “Do you even know what it’s like to have found the other half of yourself, and then have to watch it slowly getting eaten away, leaving less and less behind each day? Do you even know what that feels like, really?” Sean asked desperately, though it was hardly a question he truly expected an answer to.
Haven sighed as he also turned his cloud-colored eyes downwards, “No Sean. I suppose I don’t. I was only eighteen when I…changed….I never found that other half. Not even anyone close to it, in all these years since. So no. I’m sorry. I suppose that’s another thing I don’t really know.” he confessed.
The sadness in his tone easily caused Sean to look up at him, feeling that sadness for him, as well. After all, despite all appearances, Haven truly was the closest thing Sean ever remembered having to a father, and finally seeing a glimpse of that pain that Haven hid so well, he couldn’t help feeling it, too.
After several long moments, Haven finally spoke up again, “What about her?” he asked Sean as he gestured toward a young blonde woman who stood a few feet off from them, suggestively leaning over a middle-aged man, dressed in a manner that made it clear what her profession had been.
“What about her?” Sean asked as he furrowed his brow, glancing from the woman, back to Haven.
“She’s prettier than most of these women.” Haven replied nonchalantly.
“These women, meaning, whores?” Sean returned, though dropped his voice on the final word, almost as though uncomfortable with calling any woman that, even when that’s what she so obviously was.
“Yes, those.” Haven shook his head and hid a smirk at the way that Sean and Claire each had the odd traits of somehow being both patently unconventional, and much less worldly than he and his servants all were, at the same time.
“So what if she is pretty. As you pointed out, we don’t need that particular kind of pleasure anymore.” only a slight pause as he looked back toward the blonde girl in question, “And if I did, I’m a happily married man, remember?”
“Odd how happy looks so unhappy on you.” Haven said pointedly as he sighed and scanned the room once more.
Sean just scoffed angrily at the insinuation and had to deny it, “Whatever unhappiness isn’t for a reason like that. There are extenuating circumstances, and you know that.” he unnecessarily reminded Haven.
“And you know, also, that I was not referring to having a use for the young lady that would fall under her job description, exactly.” a slight shake of his head, “Weren’t we discussing the fact that this would be the best place to find those servants, now that mother nature has decided to keep us in this lovely town longer than we had originally planned?”
“Somehow I don’t think mother nature gives a damn about any of us anymore. Not like we should even be considered a part of her world.” Sean scoffed, though under his breath.
“Don’t tell my servants. They quite adore her.” Haven smirked.
“I somehow don’t know how valid their opinions on anything are, anymore. You’ve made it quite clear that your blood definitely gives them quite a different outlook on life, haven’t you?”
“I seem to recall your wife being quite fond of her too, Sean. Even before she was brought into this dark new life.” Haven reminded quietly as his eyes moved back to the girl they had previously spoke of. Then almost as though making a completely new gear switch, he glanced back at Sean, “I’ll help you get her. It’s not that hard.” Haven assured.
“What are you talking about?” Sean asked, their previous subject all but forgotten.
“You think she’s pretty, don’t you?”
“So what if she is?” Sean repeated, furrowing his brow once more.
“Beauty is always something to be claimed and collected. Don’t you agree? You are an artist, after all.” Haven returned.
“Yes I enjoy beauty, but she’s a person, not a piece of art to be snatched up, Haven. She’s still a human. You still remember what it’s like to be one of those, don’t you?” Sean added a little coolly.
Haven’s expression darkened a moment as he quickly glanced back Sean’s way, then bit back his immediate response to ever hearing the idea that any of his own humanity was being questioned. After all, the one trait that he and all the members of their clan had, was desperately clinging to their own humanity, despite what they truly were.
“And we can keep her beautiful, for as long as she wishes to be.” he finally retorted, then added, “Besides, the point in picking a whore,” a pause to let Sean take in the word once more, “is not simply because she won’t be missed, but also, because, as horrible as the addiction may be, I’d like to think that a life with our kind, would still be better for her than what she calls a life, now. Don’t you?” Haven added pointedly as he got up from his seat and glanced toward the blonde woman again.
Sean swallowed again as he could almost see the wheels turning inside Haven’s head, “What are you going to do, Haven?” he asked worriedly.
“Just to assure you that my intentions are not evil, or monstrous, I am helping you to do this, so you and the woman you love so much will be safe. And so that giving her eternity will actually mean something, which is why I hope you gave it to her, at all.” he informed, watching for Sean’s reaction to his words.
Sean simply looked down as the words sunk in, as well as the concerns Haven voiced for his own exhausted servants earlier that evening. He was not sure why he was so determined to find fault in Haven’s actions, as he had been doing, but the only reason he could find had to be that of his own emotional exhaustion since the night he had turned her, and all the other things that that same night had brought with it, as well. He sighed, knowing that Haven most likely was simply trying to keep them all safe, and he couldn’t begrudge him doing that, in the only way he could, now that Sean and Claire both had an intense need for safety in those deadly daytime hours, as well.
“So what do I have to do?” Sean returned in his own quiet, defeated tone.
Haven finally allowed a small smile, though it wasn’t really a joyous one, simply one of content that maybe Sean would eventually accept the things he would have to accept to survive eternity, at all.
“I charm and distract her. You then make your way over, and offer her a drink…a drink with a special ingredient.” Haven added more quietly.
“My blood.” Sean replied in a raspy tone, still not looking up.
“It’s the quickest, simplest way to start the bond.” Haven assured in the same quiet tone.
“Then what happens?” Sean asked, finally looking up, though warily.
“Then we talk to her nicely for a few moments, making sure she drinks her drink. We make sure she wants to see us again, or at least you.” he added with a smile, “Then we bid her a good evening, showing her that we’re perfect gentlemen, even to a woman like her.” another pause as he glanced toward her again, “Then we speak to her again tomorrow, and the next night. Then you’ll have your first servant.” he gave the simplified version.
Sean swallowed again, “And then what?” he repeated even more quietly.
“Then that is up to you…and Claire.”