Chapter 24: Fly Away

You think you know me, well you're wrong, doesn't matter all of us cast asides became what has become Tears from the sky, in pools of pain Once you're lost in twilights blue you don't find your way the way finds you.

The light glowed behind the glass as the sun rose bathing the room in soft warm colors. The pale rose walls seemed to absorb it reflecting it to the couple still sleeping. There weren't many furnishings besides the huge four poster canopy bed, a dark cherry wood dresser, two old fashioned French chairs, small side table and two book shelves. The furnishings were faded and dull the bookshelves held some books though not many and a couple of framed portraits. On the table rested an old fashioned oil lamp the chairs on either side.

An ornate mirror hung above the dresser reflecting the light onto the bed. The canopy had long since been striped of its cloth and only the bare wood was left. The posts were thick and carved with an elaborate vine design. It had served well for countless generations, the most current Jaden Daphna Riven.

The warmth combined with the light filtering into the room woke me from sleep. As I opened my eyes I noticed the flecks of dust motes floating in the sunlight, the soft colors in the room, to the scent of lilies and something else slightly disturbing in its familiarity. The heaviness I felt in my body on waking was mostly due to the muscular arm resting over my chest.

The frown on my face deepened as shadows of memory began to play out in my brain. The softness of a touch, the feel of skin gracing skin, the warmth of a kiss…

"Hannibal." His name escaped past my lips before I could think to stop- but stop what? There was nothing else to stop and as I lay beside him, watching him sleep thoughts of what could be flitted around my mind.

My hand moved of its own volition towards his face. Gently so as not to wake him I moved the strands of hair from his brow. Was it possible to have all the things I had wanted before? Could I begin a new life now that the last had ended? Had it ended?

The last time he had been here he hadn't stayed. This wasn't his place and he couldn't leave his family behind.

Would I leave this, everything, all of them? Riven Manor was my home, overflowing as it was with the haunting memories, this is were I belonged. If I left it, left everything I knew-.

'Stop this. He won't understand and neither will they.'

Even if I left it wouldn't be enough. I wasn't like them and had no place among the NightStalkers.

As gently as I could I slipped out of the bed; away from Hannibal, his warmth and the promise of everything life with him could be. He stirred in his sleep shifting towards the empty spot. His hand closed as if trying to hold on. It was difficult, moving away, to the door, putting one foot in front of the other when what I really wanted was to-.

'No. Put those desires aside and look at harsh reality.'

The robe lay by the foot of the bed and before I lost my nerve I snatched it up. The cool silk slipped over my bare skin as light as a feather the scent of lilies and the warm sunlight filled the room overwhelming my senses.

The cold metal of the latch seemed to burn my palm as I turned it. The slight click as the door opened echoed loudly to my ears but Hannibal didn't stir again. As I slipped out I took one last glance in the room.

Hannibal lay on his side, arm stretched towards the window. Dust motes floated about the room the sunlight seeming to halo around his sleeping form. I followed the curve of his back seeing the strong muscles… this was harder to do than I'd thought.

The door closed soundlessly and I lay my forehead on the wood. For a moment it felt as if I were drowning and I couldn't get a breath. Something tickled down my cheek and I raised a hand to brush it aside. The wetness drew my attention and I stared at my fingertips.

"Tears." I whispered my eyes turning to the heavy door in front of me. I couldn't see past it but I didn't have to. I knew what I was leaving.

"Hannibal… I'm sorry."

I guess I could say I was surprised, but that would be a bold faced lie. Don't get me wrong, last night I would have told you a thousand reasons I knew she would stay but deep down I knew she would be gone when I woke up. Deep down I knew that I had fixated my affections on something unattainable.

It hurt more than anyone could ever know and the sheer fact that I knew the second she laid down next to me it wouldn't last made it just that much worse. I went for it anyway and I guess you could say I felt cheated; bittersweet with a side of betrayal.

And is it so wrong that I wouldn't trade it for the world?

The biggest question, I suppose, is if she will come back to me this time. Because let's face it, I'm usually the one chasing after her. Okay, I'm always the one chasing after her but as much as I love her, I cannot spend my entire life in such a one-sided relationship.

But sometimes-sometimes- I see hope. Just a glimmering little sight of what maybe-just maybe-she wants. Me.

'You can't live this life forever.'

That's what Abby had said. Abigail Whistler, the baddest huntress this side of fucking Xena the Warrior Princess, had said it. And it was true. This life was taxing, to say the least

I couldn't help but smile when I peeked into the kitchen and saw them. Abby was standing next to the counter pouring a glass of water with her left hand while Jake sat a few feet away at the table, contentedly finishing a plate of scrambled eggs with his left hand. His right arm was almost completely outstretched, his fingers loosely entwined in Abby's. They both had these simple smiles on their faces. And I desperately wanted it. I want that smile.

I took care as I quietly stepped out of the room to not bother the couple. I absently made my way to the living room, stopping in the hallway and looking at the crew. My eyes traveled to my step-son, using his free time to carefully scrape a large knife against a wet stone, sharpening the wicked looking blade to maximum lethality. He shouldn't be doing that. He was twenty years old. He should be using this time to bug his girlfriend to let him go out with his friends. But Andie was too busy throwing knives at a picture of a Count Chocula on the wall. And Chris' only friends were spread out on the floor, quietly cleaning out their weapons.

I shook my head, this was no life for anyone. Anyone at all. I was ready to leave this life behind. Leave it to the young ones, the ones with more heart and more drive. With more time.

Because mine is slipping through the cracks. I can't have it back, but I want the rest to count. To someone. To a specific someone.

I looked down and opened my fist. What had I been thinking when I slipped it in my pocket? Only I hadn't been thinking, there hadn't been time to think but it caught my eye and I remembered the ruby's she'd worn to the black and white affair. She'd like it wouldn't she?

The red stone looked back as if angry, sparkling in the warm sunlight, not that I blamed it since I was feeling just a little of that myself. This little thing, the square cut ruby and the three tear shaped diamonds- the gold ring I had snuck into my pocket as Rob had dropped his armload of treasure. It cast rainbows on the walls and on my chest as I sat on her bed. Her side was still warm, the pillow still had the impression of her head and I could swear she was still here. If I closed my eyes… I could still smell her soft flowery scent. I closed my hand on the ring feeling the stone bite into my palm as the gold band left its swirling imprint on my skin.

As much as I want to say that I have a plan, I don't. To be completely honest, I don't know if she even wants to see me. Let alone spend the rest of her life with me. But that won't stop me because I want to know. I need to know.

"Daphna," Valen followed her as she entered the library. "What are we supposed to tell him when he asks for you?"

"Because you know he's gonna ask, you know that right?" Jax leaned against one of the huge bookcases ready to follow if she went out of the library. They had been following her around the Manor for ten minutes trying to figure out what had happened.

'Not that it's difficult to imagine what happened.' Jax shook his head humorlessly.

"Nothing." Daphna turned to both young men. "You say nothing."

"We can't do that Daphna; he's risked his life for yours more than once-."

"Not that he's been able to save hers but hey! Like it matters huh?" Jax threw his hands up at Valen's glare. "What?"

"He's earned our respect if nothing else." He spoke to Jax but his words were meant for Daphna as well. "You can't keep running from him."

"I'm not. I just-." Daphna shook her head as if that would clear her mind from the torments she imagined. "I'm not like them. I've been alive over a hundred years and look at me!" her voice rose clearly anguished over the situation.

"So you're a freak. Big deal!" Jax waved aside her protest. "It hasn't run him off. The dude keeps coming back for more pain and humiliation."

Valen shook his head. 'Leave it to Jax to put things bluntly.' To Daphna he said; "You care for him. Don't say it's not true. I've seen the way he behaves with you the way you respond to him. Take your happiness and leave the past behind."

"It's not that easy." Daphna began though she spoke half heartedly. "I haven't aged. I don't di- stay dead and how can I take him away from his family? He belongs with them." Daphna dropped into the plush armchair by the fireplace and wiped a tired hand over her face.

"You could go with him." Valen's normally quiet voice seemed softer. Daphna raised her head knowing it had been difficult for him to say that. If she left he would truly be alone in the Manor. Jax was going back to school, the hunt was over and there was no need for either of the young men to postpone their lives any longer.

"I don't belong with them either, Valen." Daphna spoke softly the smile on her face sad even as she got up to leave. "Don't tell him." She said though the look in her eyes was gently beseeching.

"Where are you going?" Jax asked the question both men wanted to know the answer to. She glanced over her shoulder at the purple haired kid for a moment before staring up at Valen. She let out a heavy sigh, shoulders sagging slightly as she walked out of the library.

"I'll be in New York."

"Why New York?" Jax called after her but there was no answer. Valen watched the empty doorway silently and when Jax moved to follow her he pulled him back.

"What the hell, dude?" Jax glanced at the hand on his arm before frowning up at Valen.

"She's going to see your brother's friend." He said dropping the arm.

"What friend?"

"Dr. Reed."

She was gone. And that was that. King shuffled into the dinning room with a defeated look on his face. On the other side of the room a pair of blue eyes looked up at him.

"Fuckin' great." He mumbled. Valen gave an embarrassed smile and looked back down at the floor. He had a good idea of what King was thinking and it wasn't 'I just got dumped and now I get to hang out with her bestest friend! Yipee!'

Valen sighed. What was he supposed to say? Daphna's words echoed in his mind; 'Don't tell him…its not that easy… I'm not like them…I don't belong…' but she did belong only she was too stubborn too see it. No, not stubborn, afraid to be vulnerable and loose the ones she loved again.

"You had to know that was going to happen." King's head snapped to the other door way, the one that Jax now occupied. He strode into the room nonchalantly, taking a big bite of the apple he was carrying. Valen braced himself as King ground his teeth and wrapped his hands around the back of a heavy wooden chair.

Jax didn't even flinch as the chair went sailing past his head, splintering against the wall behind him. "You know," he said through a mouthful of apple, "I'm going to let that one go, because you're upset and I understand that. And I know that deep down, you really really love me."

King looked at him for a second, tilting his head to the side. He couldn't quite make up his mind. Did he want to strangle the kid or throttle him to death? Better idea. Flying lessons. That window over there looked like it was the perfect Jax-size. Jax saw King coming at him – because let's face it, the man is not exactly made for sneaking up on people – and back pedaled towards the doorway.

While King may have not been built for stealth, he definitely made up for it in speed. Before Jax was able to scoot his ass out the room King latched his fingers onto the collar of Jax's shirt. Jax closed his eyes tight when he saw King cock back a fist to beat him with and said a small prayer to God. God, please don't let the last thing I see to be this guy's freaking fist.

But the punch never came. There was no thwack of fist hitting flesh. No cracking bones or sharp, shooting pains. That's when Jax came to the only conclusion he could think of: He was dead. He was dead and Hannibal King had killed him with one punch. Then he noticed the yelling. And the fact that King was still trying to shake the brains out of his ears. So maybe he wasn't dead. But that might not have been an idea, because if King got any angrier…

Valen had come between Jax and King, shoving the larger man with all the strength he could muster. "Stop it!" He yelled into King's face, "Just cut it the fuck out!"

That's when Jax remembered the half eaten apple in his hand and did the worst possible thing he could have done with it. He hurled it at King's head. King made one last attempt to rattle Jax's eyes out of their sockets before Valen simultaneously pushed King back into the room and elbowed Jax in the nose.

King stumbled backwards tripping on his own feet and falling against the mahogany table in the middle of the room. Valen threw Jax a glare that had 'I'll get you later' written all over it.

"God!" King yelled, ramming his fist onto the unforgiving table. "What the fuck did I do! Huh? What? Do I have bad breath? Do I fucking snore or something? Because I'm pretty fucking sure that I haven't sold her or her son out to any vampires lately and in the normal world that would give me a leg up on the competition. Any other girl would be pretty fucking happy with me! I'm a fucking catch! But nooo! She just up and fucking disappears like she's Casper the Bi-Polar Ghost. Say 'bye-bye' to stability kids! It's way too over-fucking-rated!"

As if to add a visual exclamation point to the tirade, he kicked another chair into the wall.

"What did I do wrong?" He asked himself this time, his voice quiet.

"Nothing." Valen said softly. His answer startled King, he then turned around to meet Valen's blue eyes. "It's what you did right."

"That doesn't even make sense." King replied with a dry laugh, turning his back to the others once more.

Jax nodded his head in agreement. "And it's corny as hell." Valen shot him another 'I'll get you later' look, only this time it was laced with an 'And it's gonna hurt like hell' grimace.

King whirled around, his teeth already gritted and his body already ready to rip Jax a new one. Valen gave King an remorseful look, like a man apologizing for a younger, much more annoying jack-ass of a brother.

"Hannibal," He began, sitting in one of the few chairs that King had yet to demolish. "I know how this looks—"

"Like she's getting a real good laugh at toying with my emotions? Because you're doing a really fucking good job of tricking me." King interrupted, crossing his arms over his chest and cocking his eyebrow. Valen just waved his hand in the air with a hint of annoyance before plowing on.

"She keeps running from you. She lets you in then she runs…" Valen shook his head with an inaudible sigh. "Daphna isn't like you or the others and she knows it. Its one reason she pulls away from what she wants, pulls away from you. She's afraid to loose herself, afraid she'll get too close and then when you're gone-." Valen sat back in the wooden chair staring at King with an unreadable expression. For a second he thought about telling him, even taking him to her but she didn't want to see Hannibal. Not now but he knew Daphna would eventually miss him and find some excuse to come across Hannibal.

"Well, when you're gone… What then? Because the life you lead isn't made for growing old. Old gets you killed and Daphna isn't stupid. She knows this, knows you thrive on it and won't pull you away from it."

King let the information sink in, which was hard considering he was a thick-skulled, red-blooded American man, but he did. He had been so concerned with the fact that he couldn't live this life forever that he forgot that he wasn't going to live forever. And Daphna was going to be around a lot longer than he was. So what was it going to be? What was he going to do?

"Can I, uh…" He licked his lips, "Can I just know where she is?"

Jax came from the back of the room with a low 'uh-hu' chuckle, "Do you really think we would tell you?"

Valen barely had time to react when he saw King's jaw line steel and the death glare return to his eyes. Jax had already begun to scuttle out of the room.

"What he means to say is we would tell you if we knew." Valen yelled, carefully eyeing King and Jax. Jax stopped in his tracks, eagerly nodding his head.

"I mean," he tried to explain as Valen suppressed the urge to throw Jax out of the window, "That if she wanted to be with you, then she probably would, you know? So I guess that if it's gonna work out then it will, you know?"

King tipped his head to the side once more. Was that supposed to make him feel better? He blinked a couple times. "Okay. I… uh, guess?" King stood for a moment, trying to swallow his emotions. He let his voice harden, "I'm not looking for her this time. I won't."

Valen gave King a small smile and a nod. Maybe he understood now. After all the yelling, screaming and property damage, he might finally understand.

King, on the under hand, suddenly felt a pang of loneliness. A need to be with his family. The people who wouldn't run from him. The people who wouldn't even leave him alone to take a piss.

On his way to the door, he stopped and turned around. "I know this is going to seem weird," he began, awkwardly scratching his head, "But could I get a ride home…"

Alright, we've come to the end and as usual WHATtheF has put the icing on my cake. :) Thanks to all of you who have left reviews and all 1198 of you who've read our fanfic. This has been really fun so much fun that I'll be writing a sequel. Stay tuned for an Epilogue.