The years following Claire’s discovery of the highly addictive effects of opium were among the darkest of their long lives. The plants continued to be shipped to their docks, as they did have legitimate medical uses. But Claire always managed to find a way to procure plenty for herself and Avan; as the only way she could even feel the desired effects was by having Avan partake, and then feeding from him in order to continue to numb her pain the only way she had found to.
When her behavior became that of an obvious addict, Sean and Haven did attempt to keep her from acquiring more. Of course, that only led to her lashing out violently. And a violent Kindred who wasn’t properly in control of all her faculties was something that would be deadly to all of their kind. So, most often they were left with no choice but to allow her to continue with her addiction rather than acting out and endangering all of them.
Of course, Claire’s desire to numb the pain also forced the addiction on Avan, who was much less equipped to fight such a thing. When under the effects of the drug, Claire was languid and calm and seemingly caught in her own peaceful fantasy world. However, on the rare occasions that the drug began leaving her system, her only real withdrawal was of a mental sort. When they had to wait any amount of time between shipments, Avan’s withdrawal came with the mental addiction as well as all of the physical side effects and symptoms and pain that any merely human addict would suffer.
It didn’t take long for the addiction to keep Avan from performing his duties as he was usually too high or too busy suffering the withdrawal over and over until the next shipment arrived. This of course led to numerous evenings where he could literally do nothing more than suffer until his next fix. Of course, while Avan’s periods of withdrawal caused him to suffer mentally as well as physically; Claire would become angry and confrontational and nearly unbearable to even be near until her next dose. Not that it was any easier for Sean to be around her when she did have the drug, as either state was heartbreaking for him to see her in.
This roller coaster of highs and lows, pain and bliss, wherein neither Claire nor Avan were even recognizable as the people they used to be; it went on for nearly a decade. And every night of seeing her now completely disconnected from the woman he had loved so deeply for over a century; it ripped at Sean’s soul as well. It was to the point where most nights he was nearly tempted to join her in her mental fog and just forget all the pain as well, but through sheer force of will, he tried desperately to stay the strong one in the hopes that she would someday come back to him again.
It was a summer night in 1725, now ten years after they had lost Erica. There had been a particularly long period since the last time a shipment had brought Claire and Avan the drug which they so desired. Avan had spent the evening curled into a ball on the floor of Sean’s and Claire’s since rebuilt home, suffering chills and nausea and sweating and seizures all at once as his body endured that withdrawal once again.
Claire of course was growing increasingly agitated as she angrily paced the dock, her eyes constantly moving to the horizon to hope that next ship would bring her that which she most desired. When Sean left yet another meeting that he hadn’t even been mentally present during, his eyes moved to where she paced, knowing exactly what she was waiting on out there and exactly what state she was in due to its absence.
Sean steeled himself to approach her and quietly speak “there may not even be any more ships tonight, Claire” he attempted, though his voice was ragged “and even if there is, it might not…”
“There better fucking be. Avan can’t even move. So there better fucking be” she growled as her eyes stayed locked on that horizon.
“That’s because you have to let him go through the withdrawal, and not give him anymore. That’s the only way he’ll get better, Claire” he then dared to add “the only way either of you will get better.”
“Having more is the only thing that will make us better” she returned in the same angry and impatient tone.
Sean couldn’t help scoffing, trying as hard as he could to bite back his own emotions. It was times like this that he knew that the blood bond the two had to one another was never the reason that he loved her so deeply. It had literally been years since he had fed on Claire, for obvious reasons. And seeing her in the state she had been in for so long still made him feel like his heart was being continuously shredded by a thousand blades over and over. He knew that he would love her forever, whether they had that bond or not. Though now he was beginning to wonder if she would ever again resemble that woman he loved so much; the one who had loved him so much. Or if he had truly lost her after all.
Even thinking of the possibility that he had indeed lost her, couldn’t help bringing his own tears to the corner of those ice blue eyes “do you honestly believe this makes you better, Claire? Continuing with this has done the complete opposite. You no longer even resemble the girl that begged me to embrace her so she would never stop being the girl I loved. And now, you’re the one who’s taken that girl away from me, after all” he finished, choking on his words while hoping there was still some part of her left inside that would know that they were the truth.
Instead of breaking down and admitting he was right, and promising to stop, as Sean had vainly hoped she would, Claire simply scoffed and glared back at him “You had a hundred years with her. It was bound to end sooner or later. You need to get over her. I’m never going to let myself be her again. It hurt too much” she finished, her words cutting him so deeply he could not even offer any response as she turned away to move to the end of the dock, still watching that horizon without a single look back at him.
So crushed was he by her words, Sean didn’t even remember forcing his feet to carry him back inside Haven’s home, where he no longer had to hide the tears from the creature that used to be Claire. Once inside, he leaned back against the wall, sliding down to the floor and then letting the ten years of watching her fade away before his very eyes hit him all at once. That was when the river of tears came, ten years’ worth of tears, and over a hundred years’ worth of love, now seeming lost and leaving him so very alone after all.
His grief had numbed and crushed Sean so much that evening, that the rest of it was nothing but a blur of emotional pain. It was almost as though he mentally went somewhere else for the rest of that night, as he could no longer bear to be part of his own life if that life no longer included the love of his soul mate; a love he had never had to endure life without since he was a mere twenty-two year old mortal, whose life didn’t even begin until he walked into a clearing and found a girl in a forest who then became all his life truly was from that point forward.
When Sean was finally yanked back to awareness, it was by the sound of one of the servants downstairs shouting for Haven. It was well past four a.m. as the sound finally yanked Sean back from his own emotional fog. He looked around, not really recalling much of how he had somehow found his way to his new location. There he was upstairs, in Awsha’s room, atop her bed, her naked body curling against his own contentedly.
“What the?” Sean asked as he sat up quickly moving away from her.
“What is it?” she smiled up at him, as though it was the most normal thing in the world for them to be atop that bed together.
“I literally…what did you…” Sean just shook his head, not even sure how to finish those questions.
“Are you all right Sean? You seem a little more jumpy than you were a few moments ago” she smiled up at him again.
“How did I even…” again, his words fell short as he moved away to try and locate his clothing.
“Are you saying you don’t remember anything we did tonight?” Awsha asked worriedly.
“No, I really don’t, Awsha” he muttered as he moved to reach for his discarded clothing.
“Are you messing with me, Sean?” she asked with even more worry as she sat up, pulling the sheet around her as she watched him.
“Think that’s my question” he mumbled as he slid into his pants just as Haven appeared in the doorway, his own face showing more than a bit of shock as his eyes fell on his two childer right then.
“Um” Haven began, his normally even tone faltering more than a bit “Deborah said we need to get to your house, Sean” he managed, though it was obvious Haven was more than a bit thrown by the scene before him as well.
“My house?” Sean asked, as he awkwardly yanked his shirt up off of the floor as well, Awsha still awkwardly wrapped in the sheet from her remaining place atop the bed.
“Just hurry” was all Haven could manage as he moved from the doorway again.
Despite all his questions and worry and shock, Sean nevertheless hurried to follow Haven back toward he and Claire’s new home. Upon arriving there, he found Claire blissfully lying across the bed, lost in her own drug-induced bliss once more, obviously having located more of her drug of choice in the hours that he was having immense trouble recalling himself. Haven was stooping down at the foot of their bed, where Avan sat upon the floor, his eyes open and lifeless, the two trails of blood down his chest making his fate apparent to them both immediately.
“God” was all Sean could manage to choke out as he forced his feet to carry him toward the cooling corpse of the young man.
Haven sighed deeply as well, still already distraught by the scene in his own home moments earlier to even attempt much volume upon coming across this one “I’m guessing she was too high to realize that he was already too weak from the withdrawal when she bit him” Haven allowed his only guess at what had occurred there that night “I seriously doubt she did this on purpose, considering how badly she needed him alive” he added sadly.
“I honestly don’t know how to feel about his death, considering” Sean admitted.
After all, without Avan, Claire had lost her ability to continue her addiction without finding another willing conduit. However, being responsible for the death of yet another mortal at her own hands, after she had chosen to give up control of her own urges... Sean somehow doubted that that wouldn’t tear at Claire once she became aware of what she had done. Viola’s death had stayed with her always, and Erica’s death had been way too much for her to bear; and now, a death that could have honestly been prevented if only she had been strong enough to do so. That would most likely destroy her even more. Not to mention other things that had apparently also happened that night.
Haven allowed another deep sigh as he gestured for the silently waiting servants who had followed them into the home that night to come and remove Avan’s body. Another deep sigh as Haven appeared to be mauling over a very difficult decision.
After another long moment of silence, wherein Claire remained languidly staring up at the ceiling above them, completely unaware of the horror around her, Sean had to speak up “so what do we do now? Just wait for her to find some other mortal to get her fix from?” he asked hopelessly.
“We’re not letting that ever happen again” Haven stated bluntly.
“We’ve tried for ten years, Haven. She gets violent when we try to keep her from it” Sean needlessly reminded.
“She got violent when she had it” Haven stated forcefully.
“You just said you didn’t think she did this on purpose” Sean returned worriedly.
“And we’re not going to let it happen again, period” Haven stated plainly.
“But how?” Sean asked, his voice trailing off as Haven moved to a nearby chair and used his strength to break off its leg.
“What the fuck are you doing, Haven?” Sean asked, panicked.
“The same thing we did when your other lover was out of control” he stated forcefully before moving in a flash to drive that stake through Claire’s heart once again.
“Fuck! Haven!” Sean shouted, as his eyes widened and filled with tears as he looked at where Claire’s body took on that paralytic unconscious state once more.
Raising his hand to stop Sean from where he had started moving toward her to remove the stake, Haven spoke “Leave it Sean” he told him in that eerie tone that stopped Sean in his tracks.
“Did you just…?” Sean looked back at his sire with shock.
“Just until the drug is completely out of her system and the addiction is passed.”
“You staked her!” Sean returned with further disbelief.
“Did we really have any other choice?” was Haven’s somber response, as he moved to lift Claire from the bed, taking her away to find a safe place for her body to rest and hopefully allow her the time to return to some semblance of the person she used to be. Though, once that person found out what she had done, as well as what Sean had done, it was anyone’s guess as to what really would be left of her at all.
The next evening Haven returned to Sean’s home, to find him staring daggers at the wall of his living room, almost as though he hadn’t moved since waking that night. Upon Haven’s arrival in the home, Sean refused to even look up at him to acknowledge his presence, though the saturation of the angry colors flooding his aura nearly doubled. Haven sighed slightly, not expecting any other reaction honestly as he took a seat next to his childe.
“Where is she?” was Sean’s only greeting, growled though it was.
“Safe” was Haven’s only response.
To which Sean simply scoffed “so you’re not even going to tell me where you put her body?”
“No, I’m not” Haven stated simply, which did cause Sean to glare over at him.
“And how long are we supposed to just leave her like that?” Sean retorted.
“Until the drug is completely out of her system” Haven answered in the same even tone.
“And how long is that going to take?” Sean growled back.
“For mortals, it takes about two weeks. So I figured that would be our best bet” Haven returned.
“Two weeks?” Sean responded with another scoff.
“Well you’ve already had to endure her absence for ten years. Two weeks should be much easier, all things considered” Haven replied, still not meeting Sean’s angry gaze as he spoke. Haven then couldn’t help adding, “I’d be more worried about after she wakes up, honestly.”
Sean was quiet for a long moment as he went back to staring that hole in the wall in front of them. Finally, after the silence became unbearable, Sean spoke again at last “Is Awsha still bound to you?”
“I was wondering when we’d get to that subject” Haven replied with his own glance downwards.
“Is she?” Sean repeated with more volume.
“Yes, Sean, she is” Haven admitted with more sadness than he liked.
“Then how…?” Sean simply shook his head.
“I think that’s a question you need to ask yourself, isn’t it?” Haven replied, though his voice was barely above a whisper.
Another long silence, then “Claire will hate me forever” Sean finally allowed himself to admit, biting back more tears.
“Though one could argue that Claire herself has barely existed for ten long years” Haven attempted what little comfort he could.
“She’ll never forgive me. How is she supposed to deal with this on top of everything else?” Sean whispered.
“How I wish I had any of those answers for you childe” Haven whispered as he pulled Sean close, allowing him that sadness that he had endured alone for so long already.