“So, this is California, huh?” Awsha asked flatly as she returned to the modest dwelling that she and Haven had found to take cover in for the coming morning.
Haven did not make any response to her at first, as he appeared to be buried in deep concentration as he sat atop the makeshift bed there at the first Spanish settlement they had come upon that night. At that point, the only places with any kind of cover were these settlements dotting the territory that would someday be California, but they would have to do. At least they had finally arrived there, hopefully having left the puritans and their trials and wars far behind at last.
“Haven?” she repeated more loudly as she took a seat next to him, displaying less grace than she usually did, the months of traveling from one home to another obviously having gotten to her by this point.
Haven sighed slightly as he finally broke out of his distraction at her insistence upon getting his attention “Las Californias, technically” he corrected her, though quietly.
“Well whatever it’s called, it’s not very impressive” she scoffed.
“If you’d rather return to the colonies, they’re that way” he returned as he gestured eastward.
“Very funny” she scowled back at him. When Haven made no attempt to continue the conversation, and instead began searching their belongings for some item or another, she felt the need to continue “so what were you doing?”
“When?” He responded, though distractedly.
“When I came in and you barely noticed” she told him in her usual impatient manner.
“Speaking with someone” was his simple answer.
Awsha looked around the room that was quite empty around them “really? And I thought all that traveling had gotten to me” she smirked as she continued to watch him retrieve the maps they had brought along the way on their long, long journey westward.
“Not someone who is actually here, obviously” he told her in the same distracted manner as he continued sorting through the maps.
Awsha narrowed her eyes a bit at that, before moving to look over his shoulder at the maps he was so intently studying “Why the maps? Aren’t we already here? Wherever ‘here’ is” she added in more of a mumble.
“Yes, we are” was his simple response, his eyes still on the paper before him rather than his beautiful companion.
Awsha just sighed loudly as she was beginning to find it exhausting just trying to have an actual conversation with him, even after they had spent nearly twenty years together struggling to make their way from one home to another, moving ever westward to escape the conflicts raging in the east.
“So you can speak to people who aren’t here?” she finally made one more attempt.
“Yes” was his only simple response.
That was when all the stress and struggle and bare minimum of any kind of communication finally boiled over as Awsha angrily pushed the maps to the floor as she glared at him “would it kill you to actually fucking speak to me, the one who is here?”
Haven bit back his own anger at her outburst before forcing a calm tone, “we’ve spoken every day for twenty years, Awsha” he denied her accusation.
“Yeah right, one word answers, and always after I spend all night every night just trying to get that much out of you! That’s hardly speaking! That’s you trying your hardest to pretend I don’t even exist!” she finished with more anger as she tried to push back any of those red tears before they broke free.
Haven took another sigh to try and plan his words “fine Awsha, what are you so desperate to talk about, really?”
She just shook her head at him with the anger still flaring in her eyes “God, Haven, anything! I can’t take any more of this horrible life if you won’t even talk to me!” she added.
“What life is it that you want, Awsha? Please, tell me, because our choices seem to be pretty fucking limited right now as far as I can see” he returned, though still tried to keep his tone as quiet as possible.
“Did you honestly think there was anything in America for us? It’s nothing but war and nothingness” Awsha reminded him of what he already knew.
“Well, it wasn’t like we had any other choice, now was it?” he returned accusingly.
That was when she narrowed her eyes at him with even more anger “so you’re blaming me for all of this hell?”
Haven scoffed loudly “well, I’m not the one who was ordered out of England” he stated, forcing his volume to remain low.
Then it was Awsha’s turn to scoff; now standing to face away from him, arms wrapped around her “so then why did you agree to come here with me? After all, you could be living your happy old life in England if it weren’t for me. Isn’t that what you basically just said?”
“Because” was his only simple reply as he moved to gather the rumpled maps from the floor by the foot of the bed.
“Because why?” she nearly shouted “if you hate me so much, why the hell even come here with me and drag me through this god awful country even bothering to try keeping me alive? Why bother with any of that if you hate me this much?” she demanded her answer, the red tears finally making their escape from those dark eyes of hers.
Haven was quiet another long moment before finally giving in to answering her “because, I made you into this. Everything that happened, it only happened because of me making you my childe” he admitted in an even quieter tone.
“So, I’m your mess and now you have to clean it up, is that it?” she returned, her voice breaking slightly.
“I don’t know what you want me to say, Awsha. You are my childe, and that makes you my responsibility” he stated in the same tone, trying to keep his voice even as he spoke.
Awsha sniffled a bit as she returned to her seat on the corner of the bed, her anger finally seeming to give way to another emotion “I just wish I knew what I did that was so wrong.”
Haven tried to bite back another scoff “I’m pretty sure you know what you did, Awsha” he told her with a slight scolding in his tone.
“All I did was fall in love with someone you already loved too. How can you not understand that? You love him too” she repeated.
Haven just shook his head “you are trying to call what you did love?” he asked her, coolness returning to his words.
“What? I do love him!” she insisted as she looked back at him “if this is about Claire, I think you should be making these accusations against Sean too.”
“You honestly are trying to tell me that after nearly a century of being absolutely in love with his soul mate; Sean did what he did with you, just because he wanted you so badly? When we both know that our kind doesn’t even have those urges the way we did when we were alive, at least not to the point of fulfilling them at any cost. Is that what you expect me to believe happened, really?” Haven asked her with obvious disbelief in his tone.
Awsha scoffed again “well that’s what happened. I don’t know what other explanation you think there is” she continued her claim of innocence.
“And here I was thinking that you decided to use the very abilities I’ve given you to wreck and ravage the lives of two of your own blood, using their trust to your advantage. And for what reason but amusement? Pleasure? The feeling of victory over two who did you no wrong?” he shook his head again, “do you know how very close you’re dancing to that line, Awsha? Honestly?”
She refused to look up at him, shaking her head as if to chase his words away, “What line?” she finally gave in to asking.
“The line between being what I had hoped to make you into and something very, very different: The line between being one of us and the opposite of us, the antitribu. If you slide over that line Awsha, there will be nothing I can ever do to bring you back. I’m to be Prince and my own childe is this close to becoming the embodiment of everything the Camarilla stands against. So why do you think I brought you with me at all? I’m trying my hardest to save you before you go too far to be saved.”
Haven’s warning did do well to quiet Awsha until dawn was nearly upon them. Though, neither felt much like sleeping, not that they had a choice. Finally, with only a few minutes left to spare until the sun rose outside and returned them to that deathly state for the day, Awsha finally moved to her side, facing where Haven lay on his back looking up at the roof above them “what’s antitribu mean, exactly?” she dared.
“It’s almost morning” he returned in his own quiet tone.
“So, tell me quickly then” she pressed.
“We, the Toreadors, we’re the most human of the Kindred, the most prone to wanting love and beauty and life, and wanting to hold onto all of that for as long as we can” he paused a moment, “the Toreador antitribu are those that were made Toreador, but their minds twisted everything we are into some shattered mirror image. The antitribu bask in suffering and death and find ecstasy in the pain of others. They’re the monsters we struggle every night to prove that we’re not. They are the least human of all of us.”
“You really think that I’m becoming that?” she nearly choked on the words.
“I really think that it’s not too late for you, yet. And if you honestly want to hold onto your humanity, then you just have to choose to do so. Then, you could really be the beautiful creature I had always hoped you would be…” but there was not time for any more words to pass between sire and errant childe as the sun rose outside, forcing them into that deathlike slumber all over again.
Though their bodies were identical to corpses during those daylight hours, their minds were anything but still. And Awsha had spent her day’s slumber with Haven’s words playing through her head over and over until the sun finally set on the small Spanish colony again that evening.
Haven was already getting up from the bed to check on their stores of blood as Awsha slowly pushed herself up to her elbows atop the bed. She watched him take his evening meal in silence for a long while before finally finding her voice again.
“So, who were you talking to last night? The one who wasn’t here, I mean” she clarified.
Haven steeled himself, not wanting to lie, but not sure how wise telling the truth would be either, so he settled for giving her as little information as possible “Sean” he stated simply, not allowing himself to look back to see her reaction to hearing the name.
“You can talk to Sean, when he’s all the way back in England?” she asked as she sat up more alertly.
Haven again chose to give as little information as he could without outright lying “I can speak to anyone I’ve ever met, anywhere they happen to be, if I try hard enough.”
“You never taught me that” she returned in a small voice, trying to edit her own words as well, considering the worries he already had voiced about her the night before.
“We have been a little busy trying to stay alive long enough to get here” he decided on, as it was a valid excuse for not spending much time trying to help her master any more abilities than the ones she had already mastered enough to use against her own vampiric brother, at least.
Narrowing her eyes to see his aura, which was one of the skills she had already mastered, she knew the truth of why he had not taught her any more. Upon seeing his obvious distrust and fear of what she would do with any additional power, she forced herself to keep defensiveness out of her voice, and instead try for innocence and curiosity “Is it hard to learn?”
“Not any harder than anything else you’ve already managed to master” he returned, also trying to keep the accusation out of his voice. After all, if he hadn’t yet convinced her to try to keep her learned abilities in check for the good of her own soul by now, he doubted he ever could.
“It’s just talking to people who are far away, right?” she continued, “it doesn’t really give you any control over them, or anything?” she pressed, trying to assure him that her intentions were purely that of wanting to seek additional knowledge.
“It gives you the ability to distract them at times they may not want to be distracted, but that’s about the extent of its offensiveness” Haven admitted.
“Will you teach me it, then?” she asked in the same innocent tone, determined to gain his trust again, somehow.