It took their party of eight nearly a month to finally reach the border of Las Californias, and a stressful month it was. As expected, the hardest part of the journey was finding daily shelter. Fortunately they had managed to procure a covered wagon early on in the journey, which wasn’t exactly ideal, but at least it could be sun-proofed. The main challenge then would be to keep the wagon from drawing any undue attention from other travelers during the daylight hours when at least three members of their party were completely defenseless.
The only thing that usually kept them feeling even somewhat secure was the fact that Lissa had the uncanny ability to keep herself awake and almost at full strength during those daylight hours. She of course still had to avoid the sun, but if anyone got so far as to breach the door of the wagon, she could have easily made short work of them from her place inside with Sean, Claire and Minna. Lissa was an invaluable member of the party, due mainly to the fact that her clan-given abilities were designed with the sheer purpose of allowing she and her clan mates to live outside, in the natural world that was so very deadly to the rest of her unnatural brethren.
But at last they had endured the rigors of such a dangerous journey, and arrived at the Spanish colony that had sprung up around the border that they had reached at last. They still were several days off from reaching Haven, but the largest part of their journey was now behind them. However, Sean was dealing with an additional stress along the journey, as nearly every night his vampiric sister would intrude upon his thoughts trying to re-establish some sort of friendship between them. The energy it took to keep his psychic walls in place would have required Sean to feed more often than he normally would need to. So, most nights he had to endure her psychic chatter as Lissa’s abilities were much more important to their survival than Sean’s ability to keep Awsha out of his head was. So therefore, he let Lissa be the one who fed on their servants most often in order to keep her at full strength, and make them all much safer during the day. Of course, this left Sean having to conserve his own strength by allowing those walls to stay down most nights.
Evening Sean. Awsha’s voice intruded upon him again that night as their party took to settling into their shelter at the border colony for the evening.
Please, Awsha, can we just give it a rest for one night? He returned his own thoughts to her with a sigh, which caused Claire to glance over at him slightly from where she was unpacking their bedding for the night.
But I want us to be friends again. And we can’t do that if we never even speak to one another. Awsha argued back, though gently.
We’ve been speaking to each other every night for nearly a month. I think a one night break isn’t going to make much of a difference, is it? He returned with the same impatience as he took a seat on a chair near their bed for the night, moving his hands up to rub at his eyes and run through his long blonde locks.
Did I do something to upset you? Awsha returned the thought worriedly.
I just need a break, Awsha, please. He then glanced toward Claire who looked at him curiously, his stress obvious to her always. I just need to have a real conversation with people that are actually here with me for one night. Is that so strange?
People meaning Claire? Awsha responded with the sudden darkness in her mood easily apparent in the tone of her thoughts as well.
She has been my wife for 104 years. It’s a little obvious to her when I’m distracted; which is what I am every time you do this. And I honestly don’t feel like explaining to her why you’re in my head all the time. So please, just give it a rest. He replied, placing forcefulness behind his thoughts.
After 104 years, I figured you’d be happy for different company. Awsha couldn’t stop that thought from making it through to him. Of course, that easily caused Sean to scowl and Claire to raise an eyebrow at his obvious annoyance when it seemed to her that there had been no obvious reason for it.
If you get out of my head right now, I’m going to try really hard to pretend I didn’t hear that last bit, Awsha. Now please, leave me be for the night. I’ll see you soon enough as it is. Sean added impatiently.
Wait? What? Were the last thoughts he heard from her before determinedly forcing that psychic wall up once more, regardless of the strength it took to keep oneself so mentally vigilant at all times.
Now that his mind was silent again, Sean let out another sigh, before his eyes finally caught Claire watching him questioningly.
“Problem?” she asked him warily as she took a seat at the end of the bed, her eyes still on him there in the chair.
“Can we even get headaches?” he asked her with an attempt at a smile.
“Not as far as I can recall” she responded, continuing to watch him curiously.
As his only response was another slight sigh, she took it upon herself to attempt to improve his mood. She got up from the bed and easily took a spot straddling his hips atop the sturdy chair he was seated in.
“Hello” Sean greeted her with a smile, his arms automatically moving to encircle her waist from her new spot above him.
“Hello” she smiled down at him before moving to gently nuzzle his neck with her lips, her hands taking over weaving through his long locks, as his had now found a new location “remember me?” she purred against his neck.
“You seem vaguely familiar. Like I met you oh about a century ago or so” he teased, his mood already improved tenfold by her simple touch.
“Oh, vaguely, huh?” she half purred half growled as she allowed her fangs to just barely scratch his pale neck.
“I think it may be coming back to me now” he responded as he held her more tightly, moving his mouth against her own neck.
She then lifted her head and pulled slightly back to look into his face once more, “but if you have a headache, I better…” she teased as she played at pushing herself up off of him, only to have him easily pull her back down to press her even more tightly to his own hips.
“You better cure me” he finished for her as he pulled her even more tightly to him and moved to sink his fangs into her neck, drowning them both in that intense passion and pleasure once again.
After being forcefully expelled from her telepathic conversation with Sean, Awsha huffily got up from her seat in the bedroom of the small home she and Haven had secured since getting to the settlement that would be Los Angeles someday. Haven was in the living area of their home just finishing feeding on one of the pretty daughters of their fellow colonists who lived nearby and then programming her to forget their encounter as was usual any time he fed on someone who was not bonded to him.
“You still talk to Sean, right?” was Awsha’s greeting to him as she entered the room just as the young girl was leaving their home.
“Occasionally” he stated, gauging her reason for bringing up Sean once more.
“When was the last time you talked to him?” she continued as she took a seat at the table near his own.
“About a month ago? Why?” he finally asked, at least giving her the chance to tell him her reasons before having to fish for them on his own.
“Where is he?” she asked bluntly.
Haven was a bit thrown by the question, but allowed no response to cross his face just yet “why would that even matter?” he settled on.
“So, he’s not in London anymore, is he?” she pressed, causing Haven to narrow his eyes once more as he was sure he had never taught her the mind-reading ability. He was definitely not ready to share that trick with one such as Awsha quite yet.
“And you came to this conclusion, how exactly?” Haven replied, continuing to watch her.
“And you don’t seem surprised by that fact, so you already knew he wasn’t there anymore, didn’t you?” Awsha returned, narrowing her dark eyes at him as well.
“Like I said, Sean and I have spoken on occasion” he admitted, but said nothing more.
“He’s coming here, isn’t he?” she returned boldly.
“And if he is?” Haven returned.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Awsha asked, trying to keep any emotion out of her tone.
“Probably for the same reason you aren’t telling me how you came to that conclusion on your own” he stated pointedly.
Awsha just shook her head at his answer “so, you still don’t trust me?”
“It’s hard to trust you; when it comes to Sean, anyway” Haven admitted bluntly.
“What do I have to do to get either of you to ever trust me again? I mean, honestly?” she asked, her upset clearer then.
“Well, you’ve obviously been using that skill I recently taught you to speak with Sean as well. Did he tell you he was coming here then?” he asked, wondering if he needed to worry about his other childe now as well.
“Not in so many words” she stated softly “just said he’d see me soon enough” she added.
Haven allowed another sigh, “and why do you say you don’t think you’ve regained his trust again yet either?”
“Well, he talks back, but never really says anything much when he does. It’s very hard to tell what he’s really thinking or feeling about me” Awsha admitted, eyes down.
“What I’m worried about is what you actually want him to think or feel about you. And what you’ll try to do to make it so” he added more suspiciously.
“You honestly think I’d use my powers to make him want me again?”
“At least you’re admitting it now” Haven called her on it, which of course caused a flash of anger in her eyes to turn his way, “but no, I don’t think you’ll use your abilities on him again. Mainly because I know you won’t be able to this time” he warned her.
Awsha was silenced a moment by that, but soon managed to find words, “not admitting that I actually was planning to do anything like that; but what do you mean ‘I won’t be able to?’”
“Because, now we all see you coming, Awsha. Sean knows how low you’ll sink now, and he won’t be caught off guard again. I guarantee it” he added a further warning, “so, if that was indeed your plan once you see him again, I think you’re really going to be surprised. Sean is stronger than you, period. If you want him to trust you, you’re going to have to earn that trust for real this time. If you think you even can” he finished bluntly before moving to head back to the bedroom, leaving her behind with those warnings and hoping upon hope she would finally take them to heart and give up this pursuit of Sean, once and for all. Though, only time would tell if that would actually be the case.
As Claire and Sean curled into one another’s arms to await that morning’s sun-forced slumber, Claire willed herself to finally at least attempt to confront some of her long-held fears “so, I’ve been avoiding this for a while, but I think I’m running out of time and I just have to ask you something” she attempted to begin the conversation, quiet though her voice was.
“Sounds fairly ominous” Sean attempted lightness as he let his fingers caress her raven colored locks as she lay next to him in the bed, her head upon his chest.
“I just have to know, what are you going to do when we finally do have to come face to face with her? I mean, what possible greeting did you even have in mind?” she dared.
“Odd, I’ve been thinking of asking you the same thing. I mean my reaction will most likely depend on her behavior. Hard to really say until I see how she wants to try and deal with us being all thrown together again” Sean admitted, “so, your turn. How will you greet your most favorite person in the whole world?” he smirked.
“Same as your answer I suppose. I mean, it would be easy if she just was horrible right from the moment we see her…”
“But?” Sean pressed.
“But Haven has most likely convinced her to at least try to play nice. And her trying to act like things are ok… That would just… Ugh, I don’t want to deal with her at all, and if she acts like things are fine, then that’ll make me the petty one if I act any other way. I mean, seriously, how the hell am I supposed to deal with this woman?” Claire grumbled, obviously not having decided on any solid plan yet either.
That was when Sean thought a moment and spoke words he knew she wouldn’t want to hear, but he couldn’t stop himself “I know what she did was underhanded as fuck” he began “but honestly, all she got was one sexual encounter with me and a ruined career. I’m trying to see things from your side, but I know that you were perfectly fine when it was sex with one of our servants. But this, you are really beyond upset about and have been for a long time. I get the trust issues with Awsha, I do. But now we know to be wary of her, and she won’t be able to catch me off guard again. I promise. But you still act like you’re terrified that she’s going to somehow take me away from you, anyway. Why are you so scared of a girl that basically, when it comes down to it, just tricked me into one stupid moment with her nearly twenty years ago?” he finally managed to force the words out as he looked down at where he felt Claire’s whole body tense at his statements.
“You honestly don’t get why I’m so scared?” Claire attempted in a whisper as he felt a red drop slide from her eyes to land on his bare chest.
“Please, explain it to me” he told her, though gently.
“Because” she attempted, forcing herself onward, “with the servants I knew it was done out of necessity, and I knew that they could never… never be a real threat to us. To put it simply, I know that our bond is stronger than any of that bloodlust quelling nonsense with any of them. But Awsha, she’s different. She’s Haven’s childe, just like you. She’s just as strong as you… which makes her…. A lot stronger than me. If she really wanted to… she really could take you away. And that’s the first time I’ve ever had to deal with that kind of reality; that kind of vulnerability… with the fact that there is now someone strong enough to take the most important thing in the world away from me. So how could that not terrify me?” she confessed, as her voice broke off into the tears she had been fighting for so long already.