A month into their voyage, Sean was still being remarkably quiet most nights. On this particular night, Claire rose from their daily slumber to find him sitting at the edge of the bed in deep thought. She sighed slightly as she inched across the bed to take a seat behind him, wrapping him in her arms and propping her chin on his shoulder.
“We just woke up. It can’t be that bad yet” she teased.
“Just thinking” Sean returned quietly.
“That’s never any fun” Claire told him with a small squeeze. As he offered no further response, she continued “I thought you said you weren’t going to hate me for making you leave.”
Sean shook his head “this isn’t hate. This is second-guessing, which has been my natural state since the last time I was on a boat” he returned, referencing the time when he had originally been given the damning prophecy they had all been living in fear of since.
“So now you wanna turn around?” Claire stated sadly as she finally moved back from the embrace and took her own place at the edge of the bed next to him.
“I just feel like we need to be trying to find Awsha and ending this once and for all” Sean stated with another sigh.
“Awsha who’s most likely with the serpent, who even Haven is afraid of?” Claire gently reminded.
“Still. It needs to be done” Sean reaffirmed.
“It meaning killing Awsha?” Claire replied, though Sean only offered another sigh “you do remember that you did almost kill her once?” she had to remind as well.
“Yes. And the fact that I didn’t actually kill her meant that she got to go on to do even more horrible things since” Sean stated firmly.
“And do you remember how guilty you felt after just almost killing her?” Claire had to point out as she watched for his reaction.
“Well, I know better now” he returned in a slight mumble.
“Meaning now you’d be less guilty about killing someone?” Claire worried aloud.
“Some people need to be killed, Claire” was Sean’s only argument.
Claire was silent for another moment before adding “hasn’t Haven always said that the older we get, the harder it is to retain our humanity?”
“Yeah, well Awsha’s been Kindred a lot less time than either of us, and she’s already lost most of hers” he argued further.
“I wasn’t talking about Awsha’s humanity” Claire returned quietly.
“So, you actually think Awsha deserves to live then?” Sean looked back at her with disbelief.
“No, but I know I don’t want you to have to know what it feels like” Claire returned quietly.
“To know what what feels like?” Sean replied in the same tone.
“To have to live with the knowledge that you ended somebody else’s life, without bringing them back” she had to add, considering he was her sire.
“Claire, Viola and Avan those were both accidents” he attempted to assure her “and Aidan, you brought him back” he added as an afterthought.
“Avan really doesn’t feel like much of an accident” Claire added nearly inaudibly, then quickly continued “and if I feel that guilty after supposed ‘accidents,’ how horrible do you think you’d end up feeling over deliberately ending someone’s life?”
“But Awsha deserves it” he insisted again.
“I agree. But I still don’t want you to be the one to have to give her what she deserves” she repeated as she squeezed his hand sadly.
In the month since Sean had sailed away from his home, Haven slowly began developing growing suspicions of those remaining in his presence. The most suspicious factor that he found running through his brain more often than not is how he always seemed to sense his new Primogen’s presence the way he had always been able to sense the former one’s. When Sean had still been there, he wrote that off as Sean just possibly being nearby as well. However now Sean was out in the middle of the ocean and he still always seemed to sense Karin’s presence before he laid eyes on the beautiful redhead.
There was also the strangeness of her and Freya’s auras both. They had colors but those colors always seemed much more fixed than most anyone else who experienced hundreds of emotions a day. Haven sighed as he moved through his relatively silent home. That fact was most likely a large factor in him spending more time thinking about these eccentricities now than he had ever let himself in the ten years since Karin’s arrival; not to mention the four years since he had become her lover, and the month since she had replaced Sean’s position in his council.
That night Haven’s suspicions began to get the better of him, and he decided to make a rare visit to Sean’s former home, which was now occupied by his new Primogen, Karin, and her supposed servant. Haven paused a moment at the railing that led up the steps to the front door of the home. He then squared his shoulders and broke off a bit of the railing before sliding the splintered piece of wood into his coat.
Just as he was about to knock at the door, Karin opened it to him with a smile “this is an unexpected visit.”
“Yet you still opened the door before I knocked” he told her while he forced a smile to his lips.
Karin only looked down briefly before allowing another smile and stepping aside to allow him to enter the main room of what had been Sean’s home for so many years previously “Good hearing I guess” another smile “so to what do we owe this royal visit?” she smiled again as she closed the door behind them, exchanging a furtive glance with Freya who stood nearby next to the sofa and chair.
“Well, Sean’s been gone a month, so I’ve had a lot of time to think about the new council and all of the problems plaguing us” he stated quietly as he moved nearer to Freya, allowing his eyes to move over her emotionlessly.
“That sounds rather mysterious” Karin returned as she moved a few steps closer to where he still stood next to Freya without taking a seat as of yet.
Haven sighed slightly as he glanced between the two women “the fact is that I have no idea when and if Sean may return at all, let alone before this lovely prophecy comes to pass” he began, watching them both for any change in their auras, of which there were none.
“Which prophecy again?” Karin returned quietly.
“The one about me dying now that my wayward childe has returned to the land of the living and… disappeared to parts unknown” Haven decided on.
“We’re trying to find the serpent before that happens though, aren’t we?” Karin stated with an attempt at hope, referencing the one meeting she had attended since taking over Sean’s role.
“But we haven’t found him yet” Haven stated forcefully before continuing “which means I have a very imminent death hanging over my head and my heir is nowhere in sight.”
“That does sound problematic” Karin agreed, forcing her voice to give away nothing.
“Which is why I’m here tonight” Haven stated plainly, which did cause both women to look over at him, though their auras inexplicably remained unchanged.
“Not sure I follow” Karin attempted an innocent tone.
“Well, I needed a new Primogen, and now I may very well need a new heir too” Haven decided to allow that comment as he watched Freya struggle a bit to hide a smile.
“You can’t mean…” Karin returned, still trying to force innocence to her tone.
“Yes, I am considering you, love” he allowed “but of course it’s not a decision I can make lightly” he added as they both tried to bite back smiles then “and also I’d rather not chat about it just yet” he added. But before either of them could respond, he moved in a flash to drive the stake into Freya’s chest as Karin let out a scream.
As ‘Freya’ fell to the floor, her body contorted into that paralysis at the same moment as she faded back to her natural appearance: the blue eyed blonde deceiver herself, Taylor. That was when Haven turned a dark look back on ‘Karin’ who was once again his beautiful dark-haired childe, Awsha. Just as Awsha moved to escape through the front door, it was pushed open by Minna who centered a cold look on the beauty who then stepped back from Minna’s dark gaze with a slight whimper.
“Now, are we going to sit here and have a chat without Taylor’s ever so irksome games? Or are you really going to see if you can run faster than Minna can steal your mind again?” Haven stated coolly.
Awsha just whimpered again as she conceded defeat and shrunk into a seat on the couch while Minna held her in that threatening gaze “Haven I…”
“You’ve spent ten years here playing this game. That’s determination if nothing else” Haven stated coolly as he continued standing over her imposingly.
“I just wanted…” Awsha attempted, though her voice broke off.
“I’m sure I can guess at what you wanted” Haven interrupted her again.
Trying to find any way to gain any leverage or hope of retaining her own ability to remain both conscious and in possession of all of her wits, Awsha had to speak up “you can’t leave her like that” she gestured to Taylor.
“Oh I was quite content to leave her that way for centuries” Haven returned in the same cold tone.
“No, I mean he’ll know” Awsha willed herself to supply that explanation.
“I assume you’re referring to your master?” Haven replied “I’m listening.”
“Why do you think you haven’t been able to find him for all these years?” Awsha managed “His entire home is hidden… by her” she gestured to Taylor once more. That did cause Haven to raise a brow warily “the second you put the stake in her, the illusion came down. He’ll know” she warned.
Haven narrowed his eyes at the aura he could now see clearly around her once again. She was indeed telling the truth, and beyond scared by her own words “Very well, but we are not done chatting. You will come see me within the hour, alone. And if you let on that I do know about your little game. Neither of you will wake up again. So you better make the story really good” he finished before heading back outside with Minna, closing the door behind them.
Awsha simply swallowed hard as her sire and the Malkavian who had stolen her very mind now disappeared behind the door. She sighed worriedly, trying to find any explanation she could give Taylor. She then braced herself to move to the floor and pull that wooden shaft out of the beautiful blonde’s heart.
Taylor sprung back to consciousness with a gasp “What the fuck?” was her first response.
“Minna apparently was a little upset about you staking her all those years ago” Awsha attempted.
“Minna?” Taylor choked out as she moved her hand to the bloody hole in her chest just as it began to heal.
“Haven was here talking to us and then she burst in with a stake and attacked you. He had to leave to try to get her under control again” Awsha attempted, hoping that Taylor would believe that her memory was a bit foggy after being staked while upholding so many simultaneous illusions.
“Did he see?” Taylor asked as she looked over at Awsha, who was indeed Awsha again.
Awsha swallowed again “no, the illusions managed to hold until he was out the door, but just barely” she added.
“I’m gonna kill that crazy little bitch!” Taylor promised angrily as she got to her feet once again.
“You did stake her first” Awsha couldn’t help adding.
“Do fuck off” Taylor shot back as she angrily tried to wipe away more blood from her dress.
Awsha just smirked as she also stood “it was close, but we’re still here” she told her pointedly “now if you can make me Karin again, I’d like to go talk to him about that whole heir thing. Isn’t that our whole point in being here after all?” Awsha reminded her, somehow still using those acting skills even when playing herself.
“Well what about me?” Taylor asked.
“What about you?” Awsha replied as she impatiently waited for Taylor to make her Karin again.
“He thought I was your servant. They usually don’t recover from having stakes in their fucking hearts” Taylor returned in the same angry tone.
“Hmm, that is problematic” Awsha stated coolly “I guess Freya’s part has been cut” she returned with an uncaring shrug “better run home before he sees you here though. I guess this is a one woman show from here on; you’re just on costume duty now. Sorry” she offered another insincere shrug as Taylor just glared back at her.