It took another two weeks for them to make that last stretch of their journey from the southern border of Las Californias and Mexico, and to finally catch their first sight of the coastal settlement that had become Haven’s modest Princedom in recent nights. Haven had already sensed Sean’s approach as every sire felt the presence of their childe and had come out to greet their party with a smile.
As Haven approached them without anyone else with him, Sean and Claire both showed the slightest bit of relief as they and their party dismounted. Claire tried not to let herself hope that Awsha was not going to be there at all, but the thought did of course at least try to push its way into her brain, however momentarily.
“Wow, the population of my territory just grew five times in the last minute” Haven teased as he moved to embrace both Sean and Claire while his eyes easily noted the other two Kindred in their party.
“Yes, they found their way onto our boat after some unfortunate business with the new queen” Sean offered as he moved to introduce them “this would be Lissa and Minna” he stated softly as Lissa bowed her head slightly and Minna just looked around their new home as if seeing so much more than any of the others did, which was saying quite a lot, “Lissa is Gangrel and has been indispensable on our journey. Minna is…”
“A child of Malkav” Haven finished as his eyes moved to the obviously troubled woman.
“You always were very good at that” Sean smiled at Haven’s immediate knowledge, which was of course gained by the very erraticness of Minna’s aura as Sean had seen firsthand when he had tried to read it months earlier.
“Well, I suppose this is good in another way too. I am lacking on Primogen for this lovely princedom” he smiled again, “and now I have three.”
“There really are that few Kindred here?” Sean asked.
“There are very few anything here” Haven responded wryly.
“So how many Kindred are there even here altogether?” Claire attempted to disguise her true question in another.
Haven looked down a moment but did not see any point to avoiding her question, “as of this night, there are just the three of us, Awsha,” his voice dropped slightly on the name, “our two new friends here, and I think there may be a very small sprinkling of Caitiff a little ways up the coast. No more than ten or so, if that.”
“But you’re not positive?” Sean asked worriedly, trying not to show his own reaction to the mention of the largest hurdle they had yet to face, not to mention the cloud of darkness that immediately settled all around Claire upon hearing her fears confirmed.
“Positive enough” Haven returned, “Being Caitiff, they’re considered independent of the Camarilla, so they’re technically not breaking any law by not formally introducing themselves to me” Caitiff was simply the term for those turned and left to fend for themselves with no real sire to look after them or even teach them about what they were. Most were made by young, irresponsible Kindred, and therefore so much weaker than elder, clanned vampires, that they rarely if ever posed any kind of real threat.
“Well I suppose we’ll just have to deal with them when and if they seem likely to cause any trouble” Sean agreed.
“Talking like a Primogen already” Haven smiled up at him.
“Well, I’ve had a few people planting the seeds in my mind that I would be holding some kind of position once I came back home” Sean admitted.
“Didn’t know the news of my lovely Princedom had traveled all the way to London already” Haven smiled again as he slowly began leading them back toward the grouping of homes that he had begun setting up for them upon hearing of their ship’s arrival.
“Well James heard rumors about you being made Prince after Hollister took Griffyn’s position” Sean offered, not able to help the way his eyes kept scanning their surroundings for any sign of Awsha appearing to dampen their reunion.
“James?” Haven responded.
“King James II, former” Sean had to add more quietly, now that their former friend and lover was still fighting a war against his very own kin. James’ family ironically not being any less dysfunctional than his own vampiric one.
“And who were the others warning you of your new position?”
Sean looked down slightly, “it was just something Minna said when we first met her” Sean answered, that eerie prophecy rolling back through his mind more often than not over the last year.
“Yes, Lissa says she’s a seer” Sean added more quietly.
“Most of them are” Haven agreed as he looked back at Minna again, “What exactly did she say to you?”
“A bunch of nonsense, really” Sean attempted to wave away the fears that any part of her strange words could be true, as they all sounded less than pleasant.
“Never mistake a vision from one of them for nonsense” Haven warned, “they’re startlingly accurate, I’ve found.”
Sean swallowed a bit “but it didn’t sound like it made much sense at all, really” he insisted.
“Well it made enough sense that you weren’t surprised by your new position” Haven reminded as they neared the second largest of the small homes that were grouped together in front of them.
“James just assumed I was going to be heir once you were made Prince, and then Minna, pretty much assumed the same” Sean replied.
“Pretty much?” Haven pressed, easily noting that there was plenty Sean appeared to be leaving out of whatever Minna had actually told him.
“She called me Prince, and I told her that I wasn’t any Prince…” he finished, leaving it at that.
“And?” Haven continued, as he glanced back toward Minna again.
“She said I will be” Sean stated sadly, then quickly added, “but that was mixed in with so much other stuff, that…”
“Don’t worry Sean; I don’t actually believe I am immortal. I know someday my end will come, one way or another” Haven told him gently, “and when that day comes, she’ll be right, and you will be Prince”
“It’s a fact of life as well as unlife” Haven smiled up at him again, “doesn’t mean it’ll happen tomorrow though, so you don’t have to look so worried” he accented his smile as he gently squeezed Sean’s arm reassuringly “Moving on, this will be you and Claire’s home, for now. All of these are temporary abodes of course, but it’ll at least provide shelter for you and your servants. The other two Kindred can share that third one there. It’s slightly smaller than mine or yours, but as I said, temporary” he smiled again, “Please, go on and get settled in. We can talk more, later” and with that, he left Sean and Claire at the door of their new home and moved to show Lissa and Minna to theirs.
“So, where is she?” Claire finally couldn’t help blurting out after the two of them had spent the last hour unpacking and organizing their new home.
“She?” Sean asked, simply sighing as he continued sorting through a box filled with his unfinished pieces of art.
“Sean” Claire scolded him slightly as she looked back at where he was seated on the floor going through what piles of writing and paintings they had managed to bring with them from the house, and thankfully had not been keeping at the now burned down club.
“She’s leaving us alone, apparently. Which is the best possible scenario to get through this new living arrangement, isn’t it?” he attempted to assure her.
“And how long will that last?”
Sean scoffed “Minna might be able to give you a better answer than me on that one” he allowed a small smirk while keeping busy at his task.
“I’ve been dreading seeing her again for almost twenty years, and now that I inevitably have to see her again, she’s just dragging out that dread that much more. Probably enjoying every moment I sit here squirming” Claire added in an angry mumble as she took a less than graceful seat on the cushions atop shipping crates that were currently passing as their sofa.
“Maybe you should be the writer” Sean returned in his own mumble as he attempted to unwrinkle one of his unfinished songs he had written at some point in the last few years.
“You still don’t understand how horrible this is for me, do you?” she whispered, which did cause Sean to finally look her way.
“I understand, ok, but the fact remains that she seems to be trying to keep her distance, so let’s just hope that that’s a sign of things to come” he attempted his argument, though gently.
“When did you get so optimistic?” Claire replied with a slight wrinkle of her nose.
“One of us has to be once in a while. Don’t we?” he returned softly before turning his attention back to the box.
Claire just shook her head and sighed as she moved to lie down atop the less than comfortable cushions, pulling one to her chest protectively. Sean moved his eyes back to her as she changed position and couldn’t help a small smile.
“Over a hundred years old and you still can look like a little girl when you want to” he chuckled.
“You telling me I’m being immature?” she mumbled against the cushion.
“I was going for cute” he teased.
“Great, I’m a puppy now” Claire mumbled again.
Sean chuckled again as he moved to find one of his blank canvases and his paints, “don’t move, puppy” he teased her.
“What?” she said as she glanced at him out of the side of her emerald eyes, immediately noting him setting up the canvas and holding the paints “oh come on, Sean” she weakly protested, but couldn’t help her small smile.
“You come on” he teased back, “just sit there and be adorable for the next few hours” he ordered her, though gently.
“A few hours?” she returned with a small laugh “is that all?”
“Hey, it takes time to capture perfection” he smiled back, which easily caused her own smile to remain in place, despite all of her other fears about their new life.
After those few hours passed, Sean finally set aside his painting, at last satisfied with it for the night. He then smiled over at her and crawled across the floor to a place in front of the cushions she was still lying on.
“Yes?” she smiled at his approach.
“I’ve been staring at you lying here for hours now” he told her as he moved closer to gently graze her cheek with his lips.
“Isn’t that what you asked me to do?” Claire responded.
“Yes, but it’s been very distracting” he told her as he moved to place another soft kiss over her lips.
“Please, I’m not even naked” she couldn’t help a small laugh.
“That is definitely a problem that needs fixed right away then” he told her as he inched forward and began ever so slowly beginning to untie the corset at her back, as she had been lying there on her stomach, her face turned slightly towards him as he painted.
“Sean” she attempted a protest but it was hard to ever actually protest anything when he touched her.
“Claire” he purred back as he pulled the laces free from the first of many holes that held them so tightly in place.
“Their house is less than twenty feet away” she attempted another slight protest as she felt him pull the laces free of yet another hole.
“So, we’re just never going to make love again since we now have neighbors?” he teased, “odd, considering we’ve made love in the same room as others, many, many times, silly girl. This is much more private than that” he teased as he continued making short work of those laces as he spoke.
“But…” she attempted another protest, but her voice fell short as she felt him loosen that last lace. Before she could even attempt another protest, she felt him easily turn her onto her back as he pulled the dress away from her breasts and down her legs “is this where you tell me you want to paint another picture?” she teased, her walls crumbling as they so easily did with him, always.
“Tempting” he whispered back as he pulled himself free of his own shirt, tossing it aside as he just as quickly moved to unfasten his pants “but I’m much more tempted by other things right now” he added as he moved to his knees at the end of their makeshift sofa, not wasting another moment before reaching down to grasp her hips and pull them forward to meet his as he entered her easily, assuring her the best way he could that she was the woman he would always want more than any other.