Despite Sean’s relief at having not actually lost Claire, he knew that there was someone other than the two of them who had to have been affected by the events of the previous night. Once the servants and Erica went to bed slightly after eleven, he decided he had to at least go and speak with Haven about what all had occurred.
He found Haven overseeing the finishing touches on the second of the seven houses he was planning the construction of for his Primogen. After all, he may have needed their input on various matters, but it didn’t mean that he enjoyed sharing a home with any of the Kindred who were very different from his own clan. This house was to be the haven of the Ventrue Primogen, Radek, and his clan. The Ventrue clan as a whole was of the opinion that they were better than just about every other clan, and didn’t make a secret of their distaste for ever having to take a secondary role to any Prince who wasn’t of their own blood. Needless to say, Haven was more than happy to get Radek out of his own home as soon as he could.
“It’s almost done?” Sean greeted him at the site that was slightly further off from Haven’s own home than his and Claire’s previously completed house.
“Radek should be able to move in by morning” Haven stated simply, though didn’t really look up to meet Sean’s eyes upon his approach.
“Well that’s good then” Sean attempted, easily noting Haven’s somewhat distant response. As Haven offered no more words, simply keeping his eyes upon where the servants worked to finish their current tasks, Sean finally spoke again “I was hoping we could talk about… what happened” he attempted.
Haven tensed a bit at the subject that wasn’t exactly a surprising turn of conversation, all things considered “what about it?” Haven managed, though still did not look back toward his childe.
“Well, what did you do with her?” Sean asked, though quietly.
“Found her a place where her body would at least be safe from the sun” was Haven’s only answer.
“Then what?” Sean managed.
“Then nothing. That’s what torpor basically is, after all; nothing” Haven returned, forcing his tone to remain emotion-free.
Sean looked down a moment as he realized that this was not an easy conversation for Haven at all. For all her flaws and all the trouble she brought with her, Awsha was still his childe after all. And there would always be some kind of connection between sire and childe, no matter how one tried to ignore it.
“Did she know?” Sean had to ask again.
“Did who know what?” Haven replied, though the flash of emotion in his eyes showed he did have an idea of what Sean was asking.
“Did Awsha know that stakes don’t actually kill us?” Sean forced the words out slowly.
“So you’re asking if her intention was actually to kill Claire” Haven reiterated, delaying his answer as he did so.
“It’s kind of an important factor here” Sean stated plainly “I mean, was she honestly trying to kill one of her own, or just show that she could, if she wanted to?”
“Doubt either of those are a good answer” Haven added quietly.
“I just want the true answer. Was she trying to kill Claire, or just threaten me with the possibility? Did she know that the stake wouldn’t kill her?” he repeated again.
“Whatever Awsha is, she’s still a Toreador. Ending a life is not something that comes easy to any of us” Haven admitted.
“So, it was just a threat. She knew Claire wouldn’t actually die?” Sean repeated, his voice faltering.
That’s when Haven looked back at him, “another reason why I couldn’t let you actually kill her. She’s not a murderer, yet” Haven added quietly “and I didn’t want you to become one either” he added in the same near whisper.
“But if you hadn’t stopped me….” Sean whispered back, trying his hardest to bite back his own emotions then.
“You were in frenzy, Sean” Haven reminded him with a bit of force “a frenzy brought on by you thinking you had lost your soul mate after a hundred years with her. If anything, that proves how human you still are” he told him as he moved to wrap his arms around him.
“But if you hadn’t been there…” Sean repeated again.
“I was though” Haven told him as he squeezed him more tightly. After a long moment, the two men finally broke off the embrace, though both were still quite shaken by the entire situation. Finally, Haven spoke again “if anything, I should be the one feeling guilty.”
“What do you have to feel guilty about?” Sean returned as he brought his eyes up to meet those that were such a similar shade to his own.
“I made her, after only a few months of even knowing her at all. I’m the one that brought her into your lives.”
Sean just shook his head “you couldn’t have known. At least not unless you had another Malkavian in your pocket back then” Sean attempted to lighten the other man’s obvious guilt.
“And we still have that to figure out” Haven admitted quietly “the prophecy.”
“But, if Awsha won’t wake up now, then…” he just looked at Haven questioningly.
“We still have to assume that there’s truth in Minna’s words. I’m just not sure what that truth would actually be now” Haven admitted with a frustrated sigh.
“Well, for now, the immediate threat is over as far as we can tell” Sean attempted to assure.
“One threat is possibly resolved. We still have another we have yet to even identify, honestly. Complacency is more dangerous than almost anything else, after all” he added the warning before starting back toward his own home once again.
When Claire returned to her and Sean’s bedroom that evening the hour was just after midnight. Inside, she found Sean kneeling next to the now open metal chest that had been one of the few things that had survived the flames that had devoured their London clubhouse mere nights before they boarded the ship for America thirteen years earlier. Inside the chest were various items they had used for their ‘performances’ at their Kindred-aimed entertainment venue during their last three years in England.
Claire was a little surprised to see Sean’s apparent interest in a part of their lives that they hadn’t indulged in for over a decade. She slowly closed and locked the door tightly behind her as she took a few steps over to where his light blue eyes moved over the paraphernalia contained inside.
“Are we starting up the business again?” Claire asked after a moment of Sean offering no words of his own upon her return to the room.
“While we were there” he began “doing what we did on that stage so many nights, I always thought that the draw to that particular brand of performance was the blood. After all, most of our patrons had quite the interest in blood” he added thoughtfully.
“And…” she returned, not sure where exactly he was going with this subject.
“And I thought that the reason you were so easily convinced to help my ‘entertaining’ was simply because you trusted me and wanted to please our patrons, and our Prince” he added in the same thoughtful manner.
“I would have to say those things are all true” Claire replied warily as she took a tentative seat on the nearby sofa.
“But there was more to it, wasn’t there?” he asked, as he finally turned his eyes back to hers.
“More to what?” she questioned, swallowing slightly as she did.
“Your willingness to submit to those things” he stated plainly, but with a gentle understanding.
“I knew you’d never actually endanger me, Sean. I trust you with my life. I always have, my sire” she added pointedly with a slight smile.
“But there was more to it” he repeated as he turned slightly to face her.
“Ok, so tell me what ‘more’ there was to it” Claire returned, though she didn’t actually offer that answer on her own.
He looked down a moment, knowing that broaching his next subject would be difficult, but he had to understand “you’ve never gotten over Viola’s death, have you?”
“Sorry?” she choked the response to a name she hadn’t heard spoken in years.
“You still feel guilt over it now, after a hundred years. Even though you were in frenzy when it happened. You still feel responsible” he stated quietly, not moving his eyes from her face, where her own eyes were now glued to the floor.
Claire scoffed, though the sound was barely audible “you think that all was about me wanting to be punished, or something?” she returned, though did so without flat out denying the idea.
“No, not exactly” he returned with the same gentleness “but I think that one of the only things that reminds us that we still have some human in us are our feelings; our ability to love… and our ability to still feel pain. And I think you needed to be reminded of that pain… that humanity. And that’s why you let me do the things we did when we were there” he finished with continuing gentleness as he moved to place a hand over her knee.
“Good job. You can still always figure out everything about me” Claire stated quietly, eyes still down “not sure what brought this all up tonight though” she had to add, finally allowing the smallest glance up at him.
Sean took a long moment before explaining the soul-searching he had done that night “Awsha knew the stake wouldn’t actually kill you. She wanted to scare me, make me realize how easily she could take you away from me. But she didn’t actually go through with murdering you. Even Awsha still had too much humanity to do something that horrible to someone whose only crime was being loved by me” he admitted, his eyes now moving to the floor.
“Sean…” Claire attempted, though her words fell short once again.
“And I would’ve killed her if Haven hadn’t stopped me. I would’ve crossed that line” Sean confessed.
“You were in---“
“Frenzy? I know. But does that make you feel any less guilty about the life you took when you were in the same state?” he asked, voice shaking. Before Claire could even attempt any more comforting words, he continued “so now I finally understand why you needed to let yourself feel that pain; why you needed to be reminded that you were human enough to still feel” he finished quietly.
“And now you want that pain; that reminder?” she asked softly as her eyes moved toward the metal chest.
“Not so much want, but need” he admitted as he reached for her hand to pull her to her feet.
Claire swallowed again at the sound of the desperation in his voice. She then simply nodded, moved past him, and braced herself as she looked down at the various items in the chest as Sean slowly moved back toward the bed. Another moment to prepare herself to take on the complete opposite role than she had fulfilled all those times, she finally gathered leather restraints and one of the several blades that still had the slightest scent of her own blood on them after all these years.
When she had retrieved the items and turned back toward the bed, Sean allowed the tiniest smile which was almost grateful “thank you” he whispered to her as she reached their bed.
“You’ll have to tell me, when it’s enough” she whispered as she shakily moved to secure his pale wrists to the headboard.
“You’ll know. Just like I always did with you” he assured, allowing a slight gasp as the restraints cut tightly into his wrists.
“I’ve never been on this end of the blade. You’ll have to bear with me” she allowed her own nervous smile.
“I trust you, completely. Just like you did with me” Sean smiled at her again, helping Claire to steel her own nerves.
She allowed an equally nervous chuckle as she moved to straddle his hips, blade in hand “I’m not even sure where to begin” she admitted.
“I think you’ll figure it out” he teased, and then added “just think about my last performance at our theatre if it helps.”
“Oh so, you really want me to hurt you then?” Claire couldn’t help adding with a wry grin.
“It’s what I need right now. And you’ve always been the only one who could ever give me what I need. You always will be” he promised as he closed his eyes in preparation for her to do just that.