Author's Notes: My most sincere apologies for such a long delay in updates. My muse just wasn't working for this fic. I wrote a couple other drabbles, but otherwise my muse had run dry. I do apologize. And I was busy with school and various real life things. But now I'm back. Thank you all for the reviews on this and my other stories. I appreciate it more than you know. Special thanks to Jess and Kristen for being my first reviewers and keeping me on my toes. ^_^ I love you two.
Disclaimer: Still the same. If I owned anything, the movie would have turned out differently in the first place and there would be no need for this story. Ergo, concordantly, visa vi... You know what? I have no idea what the hell I'm saying. On to the story...
THE OTHER SIDE OF PARADISE: CHAPTER 4
Lucian remained in a stage between sleep and wakefulness, not wanting to face a new day, not wanting to end his dreams. He felt a faint coolness pressed tightly against his body and smelled a familiar scent. He slowly and softly traced his fingers over the smooth texture of bare skin, never opening his eyes. His other senses heightened without the aid of his sight. He began to feel the smallest tickle of shallow breath on his chest. He could feel the gentle pressure of five slender fingers at the center of his back. One of them lightly traced a minute path back and forth along his spine. It was so gentle, so slow, most would have never noticed it.
He shifted his weight slightly and felt a similar shift in Sonja's body. His muscles held a hint of stiffness from their exertion the previous night. Thin sheets and blankets lay strewn about the bed, draped over various limbs and forms of entwined bodies. Lucian lived for brief moments like this. He loved to have a moment's peace with his beloved. He finally opened his eyes slowly. A pale orange patch of fading sunlight peaked from the corner of the window where the blanket he had draped had slipped slightly during the day. Out of reflex, his eyes quickly darted to Sonja. She slept peacefully, no harm done. Carefully sliding out from her embrace and softly kissing her forehead, he went to the window to readjust the makeshift curtain in the last moments of daylight. His keen ears picked up the sounds of humans milling about the inn and tavern. He searched the floor for his clothing and, after dressing, went outside to survey the coming night.
He sniffed the cool air. No scent other than humans and the mingled fragrance of himself and Sonja. Lucian felt a certain sense of relief at this, but the vampires would wake soon enough. He didn't know if they traveled all the way back to Ordoghaz or if they had managed to find shelter from the sunlight during the chase. It didn't really matter, he and Sonja had to keep moving either way. They couldn't risk the vampires catching up with them. Lucian would have preferred the vampires not to be within a thousand miles of them, but that wasn't apt to happen any time soon.
He stretched his arms above his head and flexed his fingers, feeling most of the stiffness leaving him. He breathed in deeply through his nose, simply enjoying the scent of the trees and grass. The air held a hint of rain. Lucian glanced up at the crimson sky, clouds of varying colors dotting the horizon, the last warmth of the sun disappearing with the fading light. He clasped his hands behind his head and rocked back and forth on his heels, eyes closed, content to stand and think for a moment.
* * *
Sonja felt warm. Warmth that only one person could give to her. It radiated through her whole body and, she imagined, into her soul. But, slowly, that warmth left. She felt a fleeting kiss on her forehead. She fell back into her dreams, knowing that Lucian was there, protecting her, knowing he would never leave her.
A shout from the tavern disturbed her dream. Her eyes fluttered open. Lucian was still gone. She wasn't sure how much time had passed since he had left the room. She shifted her body to the center of the bed where some of his warmth and scent still remained and pulled her legs up against the swell of her stomach. She glanced sleepily around the room, memories that her dreams had scattered flooding back to her. The chase, the forest, the starlight, the cold water of the stream causing the hem of her skirt to cling to her ankles as they ran. The stiffness in the muscles of her legs, the baby's first kick, the look in Lucian's eyes, his hands on her body, his tongue in her mouth, their moans entwining, falling asleep in his arms and not caring about the outside world.
She pulled the light blanket over her chest and turned to lay on her back, her arms splayed to the sides. She could get up and at least get dressed, even if she didn't dare go outside the room. She couldn't be certain of the time of day or position of the sun and she didn't dare look. And yet she stayed where she was, covered only by the light blanket, and waited for Lucian's return.
She could still hear muffled voices from the tavern and people passing the door going to various rooms in the inn. She supposed it was evening, but still felt it best to remain until Lucian returned for her. The cold metal of her pendant pressed down on her chest. Sonja had nearly forgotten about it. She gently lifted it and turned it in her fingers. She noticed slight marks on her pale skin where the pendant had bounced roughly against her while they ran. She hadn't even noticed until now. A small smile played on her lips in spite of everything. She let the pendant slip from her fingers to fall back into place against her chest.
Sonja heard soft footsteps approaching the door. The door opened slowly and Lucian carefully slunk in. He turned to see Sonja looking up at him, eyes sparkling. "I'm sorry. I... I didn't mean to wake you." Lucian stepped over to the bed and sat gently beside Sonja. He produced a single yellow flower from behind his back and held it out to Sonja who took it carefully in her slender fingers. She smiled up at him and laid a hand on his thigh.
"You didn't, love." She sat up and leaned her back against the wall, the blanket slipping to her waist. "Is it time to leave?" She twirled the flower around in her fingers and lightly touched the petals.
Lucian sighed sadly and ran his fingers lightly down Sonja's neck and traced the chain of her pendant. "Yes. The sun just went down. And since we don't know the location of the Death Dealers, we should stay on our toes and put as much distance as we can between us and Ordoghaz." Sonja's eyes met his and Lucian caught a hint of sadness at the name of her former home. He smiled reassuringly and leaned in to kiss her.
Sonja slid off the bed and fished her dress from the floor. The hem had since dried, faint smudges of mud and a slight tear the only evidence of the fiasco from the previous night. She grasped Lucian's hand and they left the room.
The next night when the Death Dealers found the room the pair had taken shelter in, only very faint scents of vampire and lycan and a single yellow flower in the center of the bed would remain.
* * *
Viktor had spent the entire day sitting in his quarters, staring at the single candle that lit the stone room, his forehead propped in his hand. He hadn't even realized when the candle reached the bottom of its wick and sputtered out. He was unsure of what he was to do now. Sonja was gone. She left with that lycan. There was nothing he could do to change that now. But if his Death Dealers caught up with them, both the dog and his daughter would die. He knew the spirit of the lycan. He wasn't likely to go out without a fight. And he obviously loved Sonja deeply. No harm would come to the princess while the lycan drew breath. And that was exactly the problem.
If it wasn't for that dog, Sonja would be safe, asleep in her bed at that very moment. She wouldn't be out there, away from the coven, away from her father. Viktor wanted to watch that lycan die, preferably by his own hand. None of this would have happened if it weren't for him. Now there was the possibility that the Elder would lose his only child, that she would follow her mother to an early grave. A single silver tear found its way down Viktor's cheek. He didn't bother to wipe it away. No one was around and he barely registered its presence until he caught the salty taste of it on his lips.
Perhaps he could call his Death Dealers off. Let Sonja and the lycan escape. Let her live her life happily with the one she loved. But that wasn't fair. She loved her father, didn't she? She loved her coven, didn't she? Why should she not spend her immortal life here? But if she returned, that precious immortal life would end. Viktor would have to choose between his reputation as a powerful and feared Elder and his daughter's life. And he could feel that it would be the hardest decision of all his long years or any years to come.
A hard knock came to the heavy wooden door of his quarters. Viktor straightened in his chair and composed himself quickly. "Enter," his stony voice echoed through his quarters. A fully armed Death Dealer entered and bowed before the Elder.
"The sun has set, my lord. We are prepared to continue our search for Sonja and the lycan, given your permission." Viktor nodded and stood before the Death Dealer.
"Yes. And I shall accompany the party. Send two ahead to search for possible shelters. We will not return until my daughter has been found." The Death Dealer nodded, bowed, and quickly turned on his heel to relay the orders to the others. Viktor let out a weary sigh and gathered his sword and blades. His face remained stony as he strode through the corridors and met with his Death Dealers. They left immediately with Viktor in the lead.
* * *
Kraven stomped through the brush with his fellow Death Dealers, hand resting on the hilt of his sword. He was happy to be following Viktor in the search for Sonja and that filthy dog. It would please him to no end to watch the lycan die slowly and painfully. He wanted to watch him bleed, beg for mercy. He wanted to hear his bones snap. He wanted that dog to suffer, his spirit to break before he died. The embarrassment of being overpowered by a lycan still hung around him, though one could never tell by looking at him. Kraven held the same arrogant posture he had for years since coming in good favor with the Elder.
The vampires could still catch a faint scent of the lycan in the forest, but soon they would lose their trail. The scent had had the full day to fade, the Death Dealers being forced to turn back in fear of the coming sun. They could only suppose that the lycan and Sonja had found a safe haven for the daylight hours. They had yet to see any marks of Sonja's death, so signs seemed to point to their escape.
Kraven sighed in slight annoyance to himself as he trudged though the damp grass and ran a hand back through his dark hair, pushing it from his eyes.
* * *
Sonja's pace, which had matched Lucian's for the length of their walk that night, began to slow. She tilted her head back and stared longingly at the stars above. Lucian turned to see what she was up to when he felt himself beginning to pull on her hand. He glanced at her curiously before looking up at the sky. When he didn't see anything out of the ordinary, he looked back at Sonja. "What is it, love?"
She blinked and quickly snapped back to reality. "Oh... I was just..." She gestured vaguely at the sky. "They make you feel so small, insignificant, is all." She smiled and moved to wrap her arms around Lucian. He leaned his head gently against hers and took in the scent of her hair while looking at the stars.
"Yes... they do, don't they?" His voice held a strangely quixotic tone. Sonja tightened her grip around his waist and smiled wider. Lucian nuzzled his nose in her hair against her ear, eliciting a small giggle from Sonja. The lycan moved a hand to gently stroke the swell of her stomach, thumb tracing circles around her navel. He felt Sonja's fingers dig into his hips and Lucian smiled to himself before scooping her into his arms and kissing her deeply. And there they stayed, stars overhead, the song of crickets in their ears, until a bird flapping loudly from a nearby tree startled them back to the world that stood around them. "We should keep moving." Lucian smiled to his lover and carefully sat her down on her feet when she nodded to him. Lucian firmly clasped Sonja's hand in his own and they quietly moved across the grass toward their unknown destination.
Sonja periodically placed a hand to her stomach, almost as if she needed to confirm that the child was still there. Lucian grinned to himself and pretended not to notice. He paused momentarily to sniff the air. He couldn't detect vampire scent in the area, but there was no wind to carry the scent. The night was still, the clouds from sunset slowly clearing even though the smell of rain remained. It was a beautiful night and under other circumstances, Lucian would have been happy to simply hold Sonja in his arms in the grass and stare up at the sky. But they had to keep moving. They had to make it to the next town and find some place to stay. They were in a race against the sun. A race against the Death Dealers. A race against Viktor.
That last thought made Lucian shudder slightly. Viktor would undoubtedly be leading the hunt for them. Lucian knew the Elder's power and he knew his temper all too well. He had scars on his back to prove it. But they were nothing compared to the wrath he and Sonja would face if they were caught. He quickly shook his head to vanish those thoughts. Now was not the time to dwell on them. They had to focus, they had to keep moving. Worry would do no good now.
Hours passed and dawn neared. The pair had to settle for a cave for their shelter that night. No towns were in sight and they couldn't risk searching any farther. Lucian checked it from top to bottom, determining that it would be sufficient, if slightly uncomfortable. But it was the best they had. He sat on the cool floor and pulled Sonja to snuggle in his lap, wrapping his arms tightly around her. She laid her head on his shoulder and yawned. Lucian stroked her hair and carefully laid her down, draping an arm over her. She heard him whisper familiar confessions of his love for her before falling asleep while whispering her own.
* * *
Dawn was only an hour away. The vampires had followed the lycan and Sonja's trail to a small inn. They followed their noses until they located the room the two had shared the previous night. Most of the Death Dealers retired for the day, knowing they couldn't continue their search any longer. Viktor and Kraven entered the room, intent on searching it before retiring. They both sniffed the air and caught the distinct scents of lycan, vampire, and sex. Kraven narrowed his eyes and growled low in his throat. "Damnation..." Viktor tried to compose himself, but swiftly struck a hand out at the wall, causing it to shudder violently. He exited the room angrily, not sparing even a glance at Kraven, his long cloak flaring out behind him. Kraven began to follow before spying a slightly wilted yellow flower on the bed. He picked it up and stared at it, turning it slowly in his fingers.
He let the flower slip from his hand and promptly stepped on it, the sound echoing through the room, smashing the petals into the floor. He spit down on the ragged remains of the flower and left the room to search out a place to sleep.
"How dare they?!" he hissed to himself while pacing the floor of his newly found room. "How dare they escape? How dare that lycan bed Sonja? How dare..." He trailed off knowing asking himself questions would get him nowhere. The lycan had some nerve to bed the vampiress while on the run, Kraven was sure of that. Was nothing sacred? He couldn't fathom that Sonja could actually love the lycan. How preposterous.
Kraven shook his head and tried to dismiss the thought. But, why else would she run with him? The lycan hadn't forced her hand. Kraven saw her reach back to help him over the wall with his own eyes. Why else would she risk death? This was more than a girl's fanciful rebellion. No! No, she couldn't possibly... Could she? Kraven absently scratched at the back of his head, trying desperately to wrap his mind around that possibility.
Little did he know that only a few miles away, the two laid in each other's arms and telling of their love and devotion at that very moment. Kraven threw himself on the bed and closed his eyes. Moments later, he fell into a fitful sleep.