Late the next evening they arrived at their next daytime shelter. This one was yet another home, though a larger farmhouse this time, complete with abandoned weed-filled gardens as yet another family had left their home behind in search of a new and better life in the unexplored west. Claire sighed softly as they began moving to take but a few belongings into the home before the sun rose once again, hindering their pace as usual, though it was an unavoidable hindrance, of course.
It was after the others had already begun making the home theirs for the evening, that Claire found herself alone with Baila once more, as neither of them seemed to be moving very quickly that night. Claire averted her eyes as theirs met upon removing the last of the night’s necessities from the carriage.
“Miss Claire?” Baila’s voice interrupted a moment after Claire had moved to step around her, back in the direction of the dark farmhouse.
“Yes, Baila.” she responded, trying to keep emotion out of her voice while still not turning to look back at the young woman.
“I wanted to apologize, again, for last evening.” she began softly, “I just…” she continued, though her voice was pained, “It’s just, I know Sean can’t give me his blood every night, but sometimes…” her voice trailed off, “It’s hard sometimes.” she finally decided on.
Claire sighed softly, having unconsciously known what Baila’s intentions had been that night, as much as she had been trying to deny them since, “It’s ok, Baila.” she finally managed, “You didn’t actually hurt anybody. And we know the addiction can be hard for you all.” she finished, attempting to comfort her, despite her own feelings towards the girl, though she still could not bring herself to make eye contact with her for more than the briefest of moments.
“I’d hate to think that something I even considered doing, would upset you, though.” Baila added, seeming to be struggling as much with her own words, as Claire was.
“Me?” Claire asked with a tinge of disbelief, finally not able to keep from looking back toward the girl.
“You’re the one Sean cares about, after all.” Baila nearly choked on the words, in spite of the truth to them, “And if I upset you, then….” she shook her head as she looked down, “It just terrifies me to think that I could do something that would upset him, too, however indirectly.” she finished in the same near whisper, almost as though already believing that Sean was upset with her, somehow.
Claire was caught a bit by the hurt in the girl’s voice, regardless of the fact that she hadn’t yet mentioned the previous evening to Sean, even. After a long pause, Claire finally spoke again, “What makes you think Sean is upset with you?” she asked, sure that she had been the only one giving off that vibe, however involuntarily.
“Because,” Baila began as she looked down guiltily once more, before forcing herself onwards, “the alley wasn’t the first thing I tried.” she whispered.
“Tried?” was all Claire could respond with.
“To curb the craving.” Baila admitted in an even smaller voice, the tears obviously close to surfacing.
Claire swallowed again, trying not to immediately jump to several possible conclusions, before finally responding, “You didn’t actually hurt someone, did you?” she asked worriedly.
“Depends on your definition.” was Baila’s simple response, whispered though it was.
“Did you actually, physically, harm someone, Baila?” Claire stated more firmly, now somehow keeping her eyes on the girl, after all.
“No, not physically.” Baila said in the same quiet manner.
“Then what, what did you do?” Claire returned with her own fear obvious in her voice, though it really wasn’t a fear for her own physical well-being.
“I offered myself to him.” Baila admitted, painfully biting her own lip, afraid to look up to see Claire’s reaction.
Claire tried to steel herself enough to continue in the face of the confession, “And now you think he’s upset at you, why?” she asked, trying to speak firmly, despite the shaking of her voice which belied any strength behind her words.
“He didn’t take the offer, Miss Claire.” Baila returned, finally forcing volume into her voice again, “Because he was afraid it would hurt you.” she added more quietly once again, finally looking up at where Claire was the one averting her eyes once more, falling into another long silence at the other woman’s words.
Seeing that Baila still stood there, waiting on some kind of response, Claire had to ask, “Why are you telling me this, Baila?” she returned, her voice still shaking as she spoke.
“I wanted you to know, that I didn’t mean to…I didn’t want to hurt you. That isn’t why I approached him, though I know that must be hard to believe.” she stated, reverting to her same nearly inaudible whisper.
Another slight pause before Claire had to speak again, “How is telling me this, not meant to hurt me, Baila?” she asked, speaking even more firmly than before.
“Because he didn’t take the offer. He wouldn’t. Not without you knowing, anyway.” she then paused again, “And if that’s how he feels, then I’m not going to try and press him into feeling any differently. I don’t ever want to risk upsetting him, despite how hard this is for me, for the way I feel, all the time, now. That’s why I’m telling you. I wanted to assure you that I’m not going to try and make him hurt you, regardless of how hard this all is for me. It would still be harder to know I’ve hurt him, in any way, which I’m sure is what hurting you would do to him.” she assured once more, before finally moving away again, having spoken about the subject as much as either of them could bear right then.
Though Claire could not leave things as such and moved to follow her, “Baila.” her voice stopped the girl before she reached the farmhouse door.
“Yes, ma’am?” Baila responded, still unable to turn back to her, though.
“You’re still having the craving though. The craving that drove you to do the things you tried to do last night. Aren’t you?”
“I’m trying my hardest to fight it, ma’am.” she said softly, still not looking back her way.
“It’s near impossible to fight for long though. Trust me, I know.” only a brief pause, “And I know it’s even worse for the living.” Claire added to redirect herself from those memories. Though Baila simply continued looking downwards, not sure what else to say at that point, that she hadn’t already said. “I can try and help you though, Baila.” she finally finished, her own volume dropping again.
“Help me?” Baila said, finally turning back, “How?” she asked, obviously confused by the offer, in more ways than one.
Claire sighed again as she moved the snow around below her feet where the two still stood near the door of the home, “Sean suggested something on the night you joined us.” she began, “I sort of pushed it out of my head, though I knew I should have listened.” another shake of her head, “You can have a drink from me instead of always having to depend on his blood. It’ll quell the addiction, for at least a few nights.” she offered quietly.
“You would help me, like that?” Baila whispered back, not sure she had heard right.
“I’m not just helping you, Baila.” she assured, but said nothing more as she moved to unbutton the long velvet sleeve that hugged her pale wrist, finally for once, doing as Sean had originally suggested, after all.
After giving Baila that drink, Claire silently moved up the stairs while Baila and the other servants then began moving about the home’s kitchen, preparing a more nourishing meal for them than the blood truly was. Upstairs, Sean was alone in the room chosen to spend their day, once again attempting to make a return to his writing, despite the upset he himself had been experiencing in recent nights.
“What are you doing up here by yourself?” she asked him softly as she entered the bedroom, gently closing the door behind her.
“Well, Haven’s attempting to plan the rest of our journey, as it’s getting harder to find shelter while traveling in this manner, at this time of year. The servants are preparing their meal, I assume. And you weren’t up here, so who else would I have been with?” he asked softly as he tried to keep his attention on his writing, as hard as it was to keep his attention on anything but her, ever.
“Well, I’m up here now.” she told him as she moved towards him, her voice only taking on a slightly sultry tone, which did well to fully distract him from his writing as he turned to look up at her approach, wondering if he had only hoped that he had heard that tone to her voice.
“That you are.” he returned softly as she reached a place in front of where he sat, still regarding her curiously.
“I’m interrupting your writing though.” she told him in the same moment as moving to run her fingers lightly down his arm.
“I somehow don’t mind.” he told her with an ever so slight smile as his eyes followed her fingers.
Claire couldn’t help smiling at his response before then bravely moving to take a seat upon her knees in front of him, almost mirroring Baila’s motions of the previous night, which only caused him to swallow slightly, still too distracted by her seeming mood to allow many thoughts beyond the present.
Without many more words, she moved her fingers to begin undoing the buttons of his shirt, causing Sean’s smile to solidify as he continued to watch her motions with interest, the last night’s tension all but forgotten as he felt her undressing him once more, after what had seemed like the longest three months of his life, or was it, unlife?
The only awkward moment that did occur that night was when Sean found himself having to explain to her the thing that he had learned himself on the night of her embrace; that it was now a matter of will that allowed their kind to make love as humans did, rather than the automatic physiological response that used to control such functions. She looked up at him, slightly perplexed when they came to that moment; lying upon the covers they had placed over the dusty mattress later that night.
“You just have to will it, that’s all.” he offered his response to her unspoken question as she lay below him, not sure why he hadn’t yet penetrated her, as he himself seemed obviously ‘ready’ for the encounter.
“I have to will it?” she asked from her place laying below him as he continued kissing her neck and breasts as he lay above her, having already anticipated, and placed his own body into the proper state, himself.
He couldn’t help chuckling against the swell of her breasts at her understandable confusion, but looked back up to her eyes and added, “Instead of it happening automatically, you just have to tell yourself you want it to happen, and the blood will make it so.”
“Blood?” she repeated, looking just as wary of his explanation, though she didn’t stop wrapping his now loose locks around her fingers lovingly, despite that confusion.
“It is the only liquid inside you now.” he told her softly, though still wearing the smile as he placed another gentle kiss upon her breast.
“I’m not sure I really understand.” she returned worriedly.
“If I try to make love to you, right at this moment, I’ll most likely hurt you.” he attempted, then added, “You simply have to tell your body to react, and it will.” he said gently.
“But it’s not like I don’t want to…I don’t understand, Sean.” she replied sadly.
“You just need time to figure it out, that’s all.” he assured her as he placed a soft kiss over her lips.
“But Sean, I wanted to make love with you tonight. I honestly did---do!” she corrected with assurance, “Like you said, it’s been months.”
“Then we shall.” he returned as he moved his mouth back down towards her breasts, “Time is one thing we do have an abundance of, after all.” he assured with another smile as he continued moving his lips downwards over her stomach, and lower.
When his lips and tongue reached their destination, Claire couldn’t help her gasp as he skillfully began tasting her, coaxing her into that pleasure he never had failed to give her on all their other intimate moments together. The feeling of his mouth moving against her did easily cause that pleasure to make her truly want to feel him inside her once more, which is the thing she needed to trigger her blood to obey her will at last. Her blood finally rushed to those now awakened nerves as her body heated to his touch, making it obvious that she had successfully learned that lesson, and quickly.
Sean grinned as he licked her blood from his own lips, somehow remembering yet another of the cryptic statements Haven had made at one point or another. But his mind did not linger long on anything but pleasing his lover as he moved back up to kiss her once more, before now easily sliding inside her once again; a place that he had truly missed being, despite all of the other worries, or desires, that usually permeated their now endless nights together.