It was the night of Claire’s 142nd birthday when a completely different kind of parental strife came into their lives again. She and Sean had just finished making love, and exchanging that even more passionate Kiss with one another. The clock struck ten as the two lay in each other’s arms, Claire atop his hips, Sean still inside her body as she moved to lay her head upon his chest, waiting for the after effects of such passion to finally cease. Just as their mutual tremors died down, Claire sat up quickly as if suddenly startled by something or other.
“Yes?” Sean asked with a wary smile up at her, his hands still tightly gripping her hips above his own.
“I think we’re about to get company” she answered distractedly as she pushed herself up off of him and moved from the bed to locate the robe that had been discarded earlier.
“I didn’t hear anything. But I was a bit distracted” Sean allowed as he pushed himself up onto his elbows.
Claire made no other response as she tied the robe shut mere moments before the rapping came at the front door of their home. Sean just shook his head at her somehow being more aware than him of this visitor. Claire attempted to further compose herself as she headed from the bedroom as Sean moved to pull on a bit of clothing as well.
“Expecting someone?” Erica asked as she poked her head out of her own bedroom.
“Not really” Claire replied with the same distraction as she made her way to the living room.
When Claire did finally reach the door, she already knew who was waiting outside “Happy birthday, mum” came the teasing British accent behind Aidan’s smiling pools of dark brown, while looking just as handsome and youthful as ever.
“Aidan…I” she greeted him shakily, more than a bit shocked at seeing him there at her door, let alone on American soil at all.
“Hugs first, questions later” he smiled back as he moved to lift her off of her feet in a huge hug, as well as a quick kiss against her pale neck.
That was when Sean appeared from the hallway, still only dressed from the waist down, the slightest trace of blood still on his already healed neck. Of course he couldn’t help the slight darkness that touched his expression as he saw Aidan finally set Claire back on her feet as the younger vampire’s eyes did take note of Sean’s presence.
“I see you two are just as close as ever” Aidan whispered in Claire’s ear before warily stepping inside “And greetings to you as well, Sean” he managed.
“Can’t say we expected this visit” Sean returned, forcing civility to his tone.
“It’s been a bit difficult to send a messenger during my ever so lengthy journey from the mother country. But I figured, I’m nearing a hundred years since my new life began. May as well see what all the fuss is about this new world” he stated with that ever present smile and charm that were literally in his blood even before his death.
“Oh you never learned that trick?” Sean couldn’t help a slight bit of smugness.
“My sire has been a bit neglectful when it comes to teaching me various ‘tricks.’” He admitted as he cast a wry grin back down at Claire, “though hopefully that’ll change now that we’re all here together once again” he added.
“So, that’s why you traveled all the way to America? You missed your mother?” Sean returned with a slight scoff.
“Oh come now Sean, you know perfectly well how easy she is to miss” he replied as he let his eyes move over Claire once more.
Before either of them could say any more, Claire interrupted “so how long are you going to be in America?”
“Yet to be determined” he smiled again, only then noting Erica standing in the doorway to the room behind Sean, ever so curiously peeking out at the new arrival “and who might you be, shy girl?” he asked as he tilted his head to try and get a better look at her, squinting his eyes a moment “you’re not a new servant, so who indeed?” he asked again with a smile as she finally stepped out from behind Sean.
“Erica… Torres” she added softly as she let her eyes move over him as well.
“Aidan… Tudor” he added with another charming smile as he moved forward to offer his hand.
“Tudor?” she asked as she shyly took a step forward, only startling a bit at the cold touch of his hand, and knowing immediately that he was the same kind of creature as her substitute parents “like King Henry VIII?” she asked with a quick breath as he kissed her hand.
“That would be my grandfather, actually” he smiled as he finally released her hand, though his eyes refused to release her from their gaze nearly as easily.
“Seriously?” she asked with widened eyes.
“I’m assuming she is aware of how that could be possible?” he asked Claire with another smile.
“Yes, Aidan, she knows what we are” Claire admitted quietly, not quite sure she was thrilled with him looking at this girl the way he had looked at her so many times in nights past.
“Curiouser and curiouser. She’s not a servant, but she knows?” Aidan returned as he cast another look at Erica.
“It’s a bit complicated” Claire allowed.
“Now that’s a story I would just love to hear. Mind if I get a bite first though?” he asked, not helping another glance at Erica as he spoke the words “it has been a rather long journey” he added.
“Our servants are in their quarters” Claire returned a bit stiffly.
“You mean that’s not what she’s here for?” he asked more quietly.
“No, it’s not” Sean answered coolly.
“I’ve got to hear this story” he repeated with another smile and shake of his head as he headed in the direction Claire had indicated earlier.
“Who is he?” Erica whispered once Aidan had left the room.
“My childe” Claire answered, not wanting to lie to her any longer about any of the strangeness of their long lives.
“Your what?” Erica asked with surprise.
“Childe with an E” Claire returned, to only receive another look of confusion “I’m the one who made him into Kindred, like the rest of us” she admitted softly.
“I think I’d love to hear that story too” Erica returned shakily.
“I’m sure Aidan would be more than happy to tell it” Sean mumbled.
“Is he really Henry VIII’s grandson?” Erica had to ask.
“Afraid so” Claire admitted with her own obvious discomfort.
“Guess that explains that gorgeous accent” Erica stated, more to herself as she looked back the hall.
That was when Sean looked over at Claire, and simply mouthed the word ‘gorgeous?’ as he scowled. To which Claire could only shrug helplessly.
When Aidan finally returned a moment later “and your accent is quite fetching too, dear” he greeted her with another pointed smile, referring to the slight Spanish lilt that still colored Erica’s words from time to time.
“You heard that?” she nearly choked on the words, a blush easily rising to her cheeks.
“We Kindred do have rather good hearing” he chuckled. He then turned his attention back to Claire and Sean “I believe Erica and I both have an interest in hearing one another’s origin story now” he stated as he gently placed an arm around Erica’s shoulders, causing the girl to almost audibly gasp, though not in a particularly negative way.
“Erica lost her family when she was very young and we took her in. But she’s not bound since she is only fifteen” Claire couldn’t help adding as another embarrassed blush touched Erica’s cheeks “and we didn’t want to do that to her anyway. We’d rather she stay just as she is and not be relegated to only being a servant or having no real free will of her own.”
Aidan couldn’t help smirking at the deliberate mention of Erica’s age, though he still seemed in no hurry to remove his arm from her shoulders “So, now do we get to tell her the story of how I came to be? Should I be the one to tell it?” he added with another smirk.
“Aidan found us positions at English court when we first moved to London. Then, when we had spent enough time there, Claire embraced him so he could continue to represent Kindred interests among the royal families of England in our stead” Sean offered the extremely brief summary of their backgrounds together.
Aidan chuckled again as he looked back down at Erica “and believe me when I say he left out all of the most interesting parts of that story” he told her furtively.
“You two actually lived at the royal palace with the royal family?” she asked Sean and Claire, then returned her attention to Aidan “and you’re actually part of the royal family” she returned with a bit of awe.
“I like her” Aidan teased, as Erica looked down quickly to hide the grin that immediately moved to her lips.
“Yeah, so do we” Sean agreed, though there was a barely veiled warning in his tone.
After a slightly awkward silence, Aidan finally spoke up again, relinquishing Erica from his grip “well, as I don’t know exactly how long I will be here, I suppose I should go and present myself to the Prince.” he smiled as he bowed his head before moving toward the front door again.
Of course the way Erica stared after him longingly was easily noticed by Sean and Claire. Though Claire was the one who spoke up first “you know, he was born in 1576” she had to inform her.
“Then he looks really good for his age” Erica stated distractedly.
“Well, of course, he’s been a vampire for 97 years” Claire added pointedly.
“So, you agree that he looks good, though?” Erica smiled back at her.
Claire just shook her head “that’s not the point, Erica” she replied, looking to Sean for support, though all he could offer right then was a slight shrug.
“I think it’s a pretty good point” Erica chuckled “and I notice you’re not denying it” she had to add.
“He’s 134 years old” Claire stressed once more.
“And how old are the two of you?” Erica returned smartly.
“142 and 145” Sean offered the answer, first gesturing to Claire then himself.
“So, basically everyone here is over a century older than me” Erica restated “not like I have any choice but to be interested in someone older” she smirked again.
“Yes you do, you could choose not to be interested” Claire argued, though weakly.
“You can’t tell me you don’t find him quite nice to look at too, Claire” Erica returned knowingly.
“That is so completely not the point” Claire stated with obvious discomfort.
“I bet if you didn’t have Sean, you’d consider Aidan yourself, wouldn’t you?” Erica pressed, trying to catch any underlying reaction Claire would have to the words.
“Maybe she is psychic” Sean couldn’t help himself.
“Sean! That is not helping!” Claire retorted.
“Oh my god, you have been with him, haven’t you?” Erica asked more loudly, eyes wide, as Sean simply looked away to hide his own smirk at Erica having come to that conclusion so quickly.
“Sean!” Claire responded.
“Don’t look at me. She asked you the question” he stated with feigned innocence.
“It was…” Claire began, though couldn’t quite bring herself to try offering that explanation “and it’s still beside the point” she decided on.
“And that’s still not a denial” Erica teased back before heading off down the hallway once more with another laugh.
“Thank you Sean. That was very helpful” Claire told him sarcastically once Erica had gone.
“Well it’s only fair that she knows about both of our sordid pasts. I’m sure Awsha told her plenty about my little transgression” he added, looking away again with another slight smirk.
“You have always hated Aidan. Why on earth would you even encourage her in the slightest?” Claire shook her head back at him.
“I didn’t realize I was encouraging her” he allowed a small chuckle.
“Well you sure as hell weren’t doing much to discourage her” she replied.
“I just know that she’s at the age where she’s going to be interested in any cute boy who crosses her path. It’s sort of unavoidable” Sean added plainly.
“That cute boy is 134 years old, and a vampire!”
“I’m aware” Sean replied in the same flat tone.
“So you would be perfectly ok if Aidan were to… with her” she finished.
“I’m not going to be perfectly ok with any boy or man or vampire doing that with her. But it’s not like we can stop it from happening. Well, I mean, we could, but, I think brainwashing your teenage daughter to never have sex would be just a little heavy handed” he admitted.
“How are you ok with this?” Claire asked as she shook her head.
“Again, I’m not ok with it, but I’m trying to be realistic about it. She’s growing up. She’s curious, and she has questions. Eventually she’s going to go get those answers, and we just have to accept it” he told her with a slight sigh.
“And you want her to get them with him?” Claire returned in shock.
“Not particularly, but I can’t think of any male who will ever meet my standards” he then moved closer to her and covered her hands with his “but the more we tell her not to pursue this first crush of hers, I think you know what will happen” he attempted logic.
“So, we just let it be and whatever happens happens?” Claire shook her head.
“I’m tired of trying to fight fate, Claire. At least this isn’t us trying to prevent a murder though. I’d say that’s a slight improvement, right?” he offered with a smile as he kissed her forehead as she just shook her head worriedly.