This story is set about two to three weeks after the events in Suprise Awakening. There are two to three stories still in the planning stages set between these two stories.
Frank Kohanek stood in the shadows of the alleyway. As he finished drinking from the wrist of the thirtyish businessman, he licked the wound closed, and making sure he made eye contact, he dropped the man's wrist. Maintaining the eye contact, Frank said, "You just stopped to relieve yourself behind the dumpster. You're lucky a cop didn't catch you. Next time you have to relieve yourself, 'pal'…," his voice hardened, " … Use the restroom. Now, go home, and make sure you don't drive."
As the man disappeared down the street, Frank turned and looked expectantly toward the rear of the alley. "Sire?"
Julian Luna, Kindred Prince of San Francisco, stepped from the shadows. He's getting better. I did like the guilt trip he laid on that man. There's one idiot who's going to do his best to forget tonight ever happened. Strolling toward the mouth of the alley, he stopped in front of Frank and placed his hands on his childe's shoulders.
"Not bad Frank. Your guilt trip should be quite effective," he smirked. "I doubt he'll be so careless again." Julian paused as he considered his childe carefully. "However, you did forget something."
"He's got that expectant look on his face again. What did I forget? If I didn't know he was only a hundred and sixty-nine, I'd think he'd studied under Socrates. He's certainly got the method down pat. Frank laughed to himself. Maybe Daedalus taught him. The Nosferatu Primogen's certainly old enough to have sat at the old philosopher's feet. Damn, but I'm feeling clueless here. What's he want? Think, Kohanek, think. Oh! Frank's shoulders slumped as he sheepishly returned his sire's gaze.
"I didn't make sure he was pinned and/or unable to escape before I let him go the first time."
Julian tightened his grip on Frank's shoulders, thumbs rubbing firm circles on the detective's shoulders.
"Frank," Julian said patiently, "I don't expect you to be perfect on your second try. You've just started to hunt without my active help. I was here to prevent your 'dumpster' friend from escaping. I know you won't forget again. You're doing fine," he encouraged. "I haven't had to correct you twice for anything…" A faint grin appeared on Julian's face, "…At least not in regard to your hunting techniques."
Lightly shaking his childe, Julian dropped his hands, stepped back, and said, "All I expect from you is for you to learn from your mistakes.
"Now: Walk with me," he ordered. "We're going back to The Haven. I have a Conclave to conduct."
Great, now he's going to send me back to his place. Go to your room, Frank. The Brujah are going to get you, Frank. Mind Sonny, Frank. Frank feels like a damned child, Frank thought impatiently. I'm tired of being cooped up in Julian's mansion. Not that it's bad there or anything. My room's bigger than my apartment.
He had to laugh at himself. There is one part of Julian's how-to-be-a-proper-Ventrue lessons I truly appreciate. I'd never had port before he embraced me. It's wonderful stuff. Oops. It is an excellent fortified wine. My sire has an extensive wine cellar and he certainly isn't shy about sharing it with his offspring.
I like the animal transformations too, not that they have anything to do with being a proper Ventrue. I was already a decent investor. I own my own condo apartment and I still have a decent portfolio. Julian doesn't feel the need to educate me on that part of the Ventrue lifestyle, but I'm a casual guy. I dread the day he drags me out to buy a 'good' suit. I don't want to wear Armani. It's not my lifestyle. I'm a cop -- everyone'll think I'm on the take. Yeah, sure, I can show my investments and prove the money's legit, but it still looks bad.
Still, I want to be doing something to find out who set that creep Carlsen on us. I owe them for forcing me into an embrace. I know I disregarded Julian's warning, and that disregard is why I'm now Kindred: But still -- If Carlsen hadn't almost succeeded in killing Julian, I wouldn't have had to disregard that warning.
I wouldn't admit it to Julian; but now that I'm Kindred, I actually like it. My senses are sharper; I'm not alone anymore. I have a family again -- and a clan. A faint smile appeared on Frank's face and he snickered as he and Julian left the alley and walked toward the group of bikers clustered around Lillie's Haven. I sure don't want to admit to Julian that he was right. I should have just asked him to embrace me months ago, but that doesn't mean I want to let those assholes behind that baby killer go.
As he and Julian continued along, sharing the sidewalk with a scattering of pedestrians, he thought: Should I wait or should I ask. Oh hell. I'll just ask; he's not going to forget.
Frank glanced sideways at his sire and asked, "Does that mean I'm going back to your home, Julian?"
From the corner of his eye, Julian studied his childe as they continued walking. He's chafing at the restrictions I've placed on him again. I know it's hard for him to not only be answerable to someone else, but to also allow that someone else to have veto power over where he can go, what he can do, or who he can see -- even if it is only for a short time. I don't anticipate having to spend more than six weeks on his basic 'Kindred' education. He's a fast learner. He has learned to call me sire without self-combusting in embarrassment. If it were just his hunting techniques and skills, I don't doubt he'd be safe to let hunt alone in another week or two.
A pensive smile appeared on Julian's face. I know he wants to join the investigation on how Carlsen learned so much about the Kindred, and who sicced that manic on us. Someone had to, and there had to be Kindred involvement. Frank carries a grudge against whoever incited that killer. He blames them for the circumstances leading to his embrace.
He chuckled quietly to himself. Frank believes I don't know he's actually grateful I forced the issue. He likes being Kindred. He likes my wine too. Frank is a good investigator and I'll be happy to let him have at it --once he proves to me he can follow orders, even when he disagrees with them, finds them inconvenient or just doesn't want to be bothered.
The Brujah would love to get their hands on him. While he was still human, even Eddie Fiori's death didn't stop my childe's pursuit of them. Cameron would also love to have a legitimate reason to destroy my childe. Any of my childer would do, but, since he's as yet unreleased, Frank is their easiest target. Away from me, he would be fair game for the Brujah and he knows it.
"Yes, Frank," Julian replied briskly as they reach the group of Gangrels talking and gesticulating around one of the bikes. A vivacious, curly-haired young woman, in skin-tight leathers, was crouched beside the bike, beaming proudly as she explained how she had managed to tweak the engine to give it more power.
"So, Sasha," Julian said pleasantly, "I see you've added some new features to your bike."
Sasha Luna glanced up with a smile on her face. "Uncle Julian. I've just been playing with my bike. Do you like it?"
"Yeah, Sasha. It's the real you," Julian replied dryly. "Would you go find Tommy and have him bring the car around. You and he can take Frank back home. Don't worry. Cash will ride your bike home. Won't you Cash?" Julian glanced over his shoulder.
The Gangrel Primogen appeared out of the shadows behind his Prince and grinned at his oil-flecked childe. "Yeah, Sasha. I'll bring it home after the Conclave." He smirked at her. "I'll even make sure it's 'primed' a little."
A wide grin appeared on Sasha's face as she replied in a sing-song voice. "O.K. Cash, but you might want to wait with that 'priming' thing until you get home and I can help you."
Julian rolled his eyes at their antics and, struggling to keep his lips from quivering, said repressively, "Go find Tommy, Sasha."
Sasha grinned, nodded, and took off for The Haven's back door. "Yes, Uncle Julian" came floating back.
Julian shook his head in suppressed amusement and returned his attentions to his childe. "Frank, come with me," he said as he put his arm around the man's shoulders and pulled him to the side of the alleyway. Once they were out of earshot; and with a quick glare in the direction of the openly curious Gangrels, Julian made sure it was out of earshot; he turned Frank so he could look directly into the eyes of his childe.
Julian's giving me that serious I'm-your-Sire look of his. Great, was Frank's resigned thought. Now I'm going to get the lecture on how I need to learn more before I'm safe to let loose in public, how vulnerable I am by myself, and how my 'incarceration' won't last forever. I know he tells me it isn't 'incarceration,' but it sure feels like it. The only time I get to leave Julian's is when he's with me or that one time with Sonny. Apparently the Brujah won't risk his wrath by risking the final death of his released childe, not to mention the man's status as the Ventrue Primogen. Cameron won't risk a clan war over the chance to take revenge against Julian through me.
Frank winced at the memory of his fiasco of an 'outing' with his brood brother and partner, Sonny Toussaint. Sonny had taken him to the station to fill out some "desperately needed" paperwork from the Carlsen case; at least, that was what the District Attorney's office had claimed. Carlsen had screwed over more people in his forty odd, and boy were they odd, years of life than any six other maniacs could have, thought Frank with disgust. What a waste of time. All the D.A.'s office had was what was left after the Nosferatu had finished with their late night 'snack.'
No one still human was quite certain how the man had died. Several forensic experts had been brought in to study the remains and the ideas ran the gamut from wild dogs to sewer rats. One FBI guy had even thought aliens were involved. Now there was someone who was in desperate need of an embrace. If Julian and Sonny thought he was bad, Fox Mulder had to be out into the stratosphere of paranoia, not to mention much too intelligent and imaginative for his own good. The general consensus of the more sanity conscious seemed to run toward death by wild animals -- even if they couldn't decide which species.
As one of the lead detectives on the case, District Attorney McMasters had demanded Frank's presence. Even Julian couldn't keep the man away from his newly embraced childe. Not without McMasters and the other agencies involved learning far too much about Frank's new connection to Julian. At least, Julian had been able to arrange for Sonny to stay with him.
His sire had been right, his senses were stronger, and so were his emotions. Unfortunately, Frank had never been one to suffer fools gladly. Sonny had been needed to keep Frank calm.
Frank sighed -- and then came the drive back to Julian's. The images flashed through his mind as he squirmed with remembered embarrassment and shame. The robbery at the 7-Eleven: Sonny ordering him to stay in the car: to not interfere. The shots fired: seeing Sonny in the line of fire: reacting: leaving the car. Shooting the assailant: the look of fury on his brood brother's face: the almost overwhelming hunger. Surrendering his gun: having to answer the department's questions: the upcoming investigation. He winced. Sonny dragging him home to Julian. His sire's fury and his sire's cutting remarks. Julian's obvious disappointment during the scolding he inflicted on his errant childe.
The worst was Julian's cold voice informing his childe; that said childe had broken his promise to Julian: His sire; and Frank's fury with himself as he realized his sire was correct. Julian had been reluctant to let him leave without Julian's presence, but for obvious reasons, the Prince couldn't be the one to go with him. The only way he would let Frank go was if Sonny was with him. The Prince of San Francisco had even been prepared to fake Frank's death, rather than let his much too recently embraced childe go unescorted into a situation so likely to end in disaster. Frank had been ordered to obey his brood brother and he had failed to do so -- spectacularly so, as Julian had not failed to inform him.
Damn. I can't believe he not only locked me in my room and stationed guards outside to keep me there, but he also made me write Sonny's reports, all of them, every case, for the last month; and how he got the department to let me telecommute, I'll never know. God! I hate writing reports! I have to do it for the next month too. That's in addition to my own reports.
He made me recite the laws and traditions every time he came through the door. I had to write the damn things as well. He still makes me recite them whenever he's in the mood.
If that wasn't enough: If I do anything like it again, Julian's 'promised' to lock me in his Prison of Light until he's satisfied he can depend on me He also informed me that it would take, a minimum of two days before he'd even think about being satisfied. I have first-hand knowledge of how he keeps his promises. I don't want to test him.Frank raised his head to ruefully meet his sire's eyes
At least he appears to have decided not to challenge me. Julian raised his arms and placing one hand on each shoulder, he pinned Frank to the wall. Staring intently at his childe for several moments, he said steadily, "Yes, Frank. You are going back to my home." He paused and, raising his hands, cradled Frank's face between them. Rubbing his thumbs gently over his youngest's cheek bones, he continued softly, "It is dangerous for you out here alone, my childe. Even if I'd consider letting you remain with Sonny after that stunt you pulled with him, he's Primogen of our clan. He needs to attend the Conclave, as does Cash."
I see he's having a hard time meeting my eyes. He didn't allow the smile of satisfaction he felt in producing that reaction, from Frank, reach his face. Good. Frank's embarrassed and ashamed of his conduct. He should be. He could have seriously compromised the Masquerade with his actions at the 7-Eleven. If Sonny hadn't reacted so fast … I didn't embrace Frank only to have to destroy him mere weeks later.
Breathing in deeply, Julian then said, "I realize you're not used to following orders for anything but your job and, even then, only when you want to. That's fine when the only consequences of your refusal are losing your job or going to jail. This is your life. Not following orders could mean your final death. It could also mean all the Kindred in the city having to leave and relocate elsewhere - far from the hunters who would come searching for "vampires" once the Masquerade was broken."
"Yes," he said impatiently, "I've told you this before and I'll keep telling it to you until I'm sure you've made it a reflex and not just a memory. I cannot emphasize enough that the Masquerade is our only protection from humans."
He dropped his hands back to Frank's shoulders and smiled. "For what it's worth, I am pleased you haven't tried to leave your room without my permission." He smirked. "Sonny's pleased too. He loves having someone to write his reports for him."
Julian's tone turned chiding. "He almost loves it enough to forgive you for scaring the shit out of him. Perhaps after another week or two he might love it enough to take some of his report writing back from you. We'll have to see," he said briskly. "In the meantime; go back to your room and finish more of your brother's reports."
"Ah, here it is now," Julian said cheerfully as he pulled Frank away from the wall and steered the man toward the car. As he pushed Frank through the opened doorway and into the car, he shut the door as he said with a smile, "You might also want to consider how to contain your next 'blood donor.' I'll be interested in hearing your answers when I get back."
He glanced at his great, great-granddaughter as she sat on the driver's side rear passenger seat. "Sasha, I'd appreciate it if you stayed home as well."
"Yes, Uncle Julian," Sasha sang, her eyes dancing, "When do you want the car back? I hope your Conclave doesn't take too long. I'm not sure my bike can go too long without 'priming.'
I don't know who's been teaching whom the bad habits here -- Sasha or my Gangrel Primogen. They don't need to share their intentions quite so obviously. Knowing the two of them, I'd say it's probably Sasha, or I could just chalk it up to Gangrel informality. The rest of their clan seems to enjoy the show immensely. They need to restrict their 'informality' to within their clan. Frank doesn't need the encouragement either. He's still much too 'charmingly' informal at times. I see he's amused. If he were human, he'd be choking. At least, he's learned enough decorum to try to keep a straight face.
"Sasha," Julian said reprovingly, "Send the car back as soon as you get back home. Now -- Good bye to you both. I'll see you later."
As the car drove off, he turned to the suddenly nervous Gangrel Primogen and bodyguard at his side, as he said mildly, "Cash, I believe the meeting starts in ten minutes. Let's discuss a few things as we walk."