Disclaimer: In accordance with regulations concerning protection of intellectual property the author of the following story disclaims any rights to works the aforementioned story was based on. No profit is intended to be derived from the following work and the purposes for its creation are purely recreational. In other words – I don't own Blood Ties. Pretty obvious that.
Special thanks to my beta, Bloodfem76.
Summary: Alternate story picking up during The Devil You Know. Ask yourself one question – if you want to set a lethal trap for a vampire do you make one that makes it possible to escape with vampire reflexes?
She never thought it was really possible for one's blood to run cold. Not literally. It was just an expression. But with what her life was like she should have probably known better.
Staring with dawning comprehension at the empty UV bulb boxes, she felt exactly that as the cold fear gripped her.
Henry was with Christina downstairs.
Surrounded by lamps.
Snapping out of the initial shock she turned to run downstairs.
"Kill the lights." She ran as fast as she could ignoring the fact that she couldn't always see where she was going. She needed to get there as soon as possible. Tomorrow she would worry about any bruises resulting from running into everything on the way.
Henry had just walked away when he heard Vicki's call. He turned just in time to see Christina scream in pain as the light from the lamps touched her.
He shot in her direction set on getting her away from the danger. He never got that far.
The rest of the lamps went on and he crumbled to his knees in terrible pain. Distantly he could hear the sound of bulbs crashing on the floor.
The last lamp shattered as Vicki pushed it to the floor. Images of Delphine's final moments replayed in her mind, reminding her to hurry.
She rushed to Henry's side, rolling up her sleeve as she went, without even giving it a conscious thought.
"Henry!" He glanced at her with a pained expression in his darkened eyes. "Here, don't say anything. Just try to heal, alright?" She offered her forearm and, before her eyes could even register the movement she felt fangs piercing her skin. She gasped at the sensation and took a deep breath trying to calm herself as she watched the burns on his skin fading.
His fangs retracted and he gently pushed her hand away.
"Thank you." He slowly rose, helping her to her feet.
"It was Alexander. He put UV bulbs in the lights."
"Yes, I noticed." His weak smile faded as he looked at a pile of half-burnt clothes. Struggling with her eyesight she followed his gaze.
"Christina?" The PI whispered already suspecting the answer.
Henry nodded. "I need to go after him. Get..."
Just then a female scream sounded through the building.
"Nicole!" Vicki headed in the direction of the voice. "I told her to wait for me outside."
"Don't. It's too dangerous." Henry materialised at her side.
"She's my client. Besides I have you and an idea of what I'm up against. That's more than she has." She sped up following the girl's voice.
"You shouldn't have brought her here."
"She was insistent and I figured it was better if she was with me than alone. Now let's crash the family reunion, shall we?" Vicki was exhausted which combined with the blood loss caused black spots to fly before her eyes but she still did her best to keep an even pace as she climbed upstairs again.
"I should deal with him alone." Henry apparently wasn't about to give in to her arguments.
"If he has Nicole, you may need a distraction. Something like, say, another human for him to concentrate on."
"Let's go." Using what was left of her reserves she ran the rest of the way.
As soon as she got closer Alexander bared his teeth. His sensing her wasn't much of a surprise. The fact that her heart was beating too fast probably didn't help matters, but she still stopped dead in her tracks seeing him hold his sister threateningly.
Vicki fought to stay calm.
"Well, model or no model I still know at least one person with a much nicer smile. Now why don't you give your sister a breather. I know siblings are supposed to be close but don't take it too far."
Alexander tried to charge at Vicki, when Henry appeared protectively in front of her.
"Let your sister go, Alexander."
"I can't. She wasn't supposed to see me like that."
"I can make her forget what she saw."
Reluctantly the young vampire released the girl who stumbled towards them. Henry looked into her eyes.
"The last time you saw your brother he said he would always be with you. You did not see him tonight." He released the girl and turned to Vicki reverting to his normal tone. "Take her out of here. Make sure she's safe."
She nodded and guided the still confused girl outside. Once there, she discovered that trying to calm a girl who had no idea why she was distraught was not an easy task. Especially if you feel lightheaded.
She heard sirens coming closer and soon enough Mike's car stopped next to them.
"Vic, what happened? We were on our way back to the station when we got a call that something was going on here. Apparently one of the models called for help."
"Take Nicole. She's in shock. Everything is..." she trailed off searching for the right words, "as under control as possible at the moment." was what she finally settled on.
"What about you?"
"I'll be fine. Don't worry about me."
"You look pale."
For some reason she doubted an answer of 'it's just because my partner had to feed to heal third-degree sunburns' would be reassuring.
"It's nothing. I'm just tired."
"Just go. Take care of Nicole. Catch you later, ok?"
Mike obviously wanted to add something but in the end he simply nodded and guided the girl to the car. Vicki saw him drive off and trembled when she was finally alone.
She took off her glasses and massaged the bridge of her nose.
A shape appeared next to her. She rushed to put her glasses back on but before she was able to she heard Henry's voice.
"It's me. Calm down."
She was acutely aware that she wanted to argue that she was, in fact, calm. Which was why she was somewhat surprised when what left her mouth was a simple "Are you alright?"
The silence that followed did not bode well.
Neither did the fact that when he finally answered it was in a quiet, detached voice she couldn't remember ever hearing from him.
"I will be in time."
Unsure how to respond she opted for a further question.
"Dead. As soon as he learnt that Christina was gone he asked me to kill him." He closed his eyes for a moment. "Nicole?"
"Sent her off with Mike."
"But you stayed."
They went silent for a moment.
"It was risky of you staying not knowing the outcome of my encounter with Alexander."
"Since when do I avoid risk? And if he had..." She couldn't bring herself to finish.
"If it came to that you wouldn't stand a chance against him. One more reason for you to get as far away as possible."
"I expect he wouldn't be at his best by then. And I..." She hesitated and then slowly reached into her pocket. "I would have one chance. I couldn't just leave it lying around for anyone to find. Not after I saw what it did to you." Ever so slowly she pulled the Iluminaciòn del Sol out of her pocket, grasping it firmly. "So I kept it."
The look on his face was unreadable as he stood there regarding her silently. Finally, when she thought she wouldn't be able to stand it any longer, he spoke again with the same strange detachment.
"It wouldn't guarantee your safety."
"Wouldn't guarantee my safety?" Vicki repeated with exasperation. "Do you honestly think that if he killed you my safety would be anywhere near the top of my priorities?"
"And knowing what it does you'd still be able to use it?"
"Against a guy who not only would have you on his conscience but who was also capable of calmly creating and executing a plan to burn someone alive? Probably. I'm not saying I wouldn't have nightmares about it for the rest of my life but I probably would."
"Don't be too quick to judge him. What happened was largely Christina's fault." He looked tired and defeated as he spoke. "He didn't ask for this. She turned him without... I should have listened to you about her."
"You were still picturing the woman you'd met at your father's court. You wanted to believe her." Vicki carefully put the amulet back into her pocket.
"I had to believe her." His voice was barely audible.
Henry looked away in silence and for a moment Vicki suspected he wouldn't answer. When he did it was in a quiet faraway voice of someone lost in memories.
"Christina always loved influence. I never found what made her care about it so much. Now I guess I'll never know. When she appeared at the court she would always be found around those who had some influence to grant... But she was also beautiful and mysterious... and had that hard to describe charm... I fell in love with her almost immediately and when she told me she reciprocated my feelings I was ecstatic."
"So we have a seventeen year old prince with a huge crush on a dark and mysterious beauty in the form of a vampiress who happens to be a control junkie. I get it so far."
Henry smiled sadly at her.
"I truly loved her. And once we met she seemed to forget about everyone else and about gaining any influence."
"Which might have had something to do with the fact that she had the king's only son wrapped around her little finger." It somehow felt wrong saying that about somebody that died within the last couple of hours but Vicki couldn't help herself.
"No. It was too real then. It felt as if it was just the two of us in the whole world. My feelings for her never faltered and I was further reassured of hers when she trusted me with the knowledge of what she was. But soon after people started becoming suspicious. There were voices suggesting many things and my father was never really tolerant of the 'supernatural' as you now call it. She told me she had to leave..."
"And you asked her to turn you."
"Yes. I still distinctly remember the moment I asked her but the more I think about it..."
"You suspect she manipulated you into asking."
"I try to believe she didn't. But taking me with her was probably the worst blow she could deliver to my father for her no longer being welcome at his court."
"The plan with influencing his heir didn't work out so she went for depriving him of his only son."
"If she really manipulated me into asking. I'm sure it didn't feel like it then. It could have been just a coincidence. I try to believe it was. And I was aware of my position and of the consequences of my decision even then."
"Because it's a widely known fact that boys at seventeen excel at making rational decisions," Vicki said sarcastically.
"I knew my responsibilities. That I chose to abandon them shows my carelessness but not necessarily means she had anything to do with it."
"Yet there is something that makes you suspect she might have."
"Perhaps I'm wrong. But in a very short time I came from knowing my position and its obligations to discarding it all in the name of love. And I can't recall her ever seeing that sacrifice as something more than the tribute she deserved. But perhaps it was there only the memories faded in time."
"Have others?" He didn't answer. "You know, I may be speaking from my own biased point of view here, but I'm kind of glad you didn't stay. Otherwise I would just know you as Henry IX, whose boring biography I'd have to learn for my exams."
He managed to smile. "Why do you assume it would be boring?"
He would have probably said something more if Vicki hadn't involuntarily shivered at that exact moment. He looked at her with concern and she managed to catch his look.
"I should have known better than to keep you standing here. It's a cold night and you've lost quite a bit of blood."
"Not that much. I'm fine."
"I was the one who drank it, remember? I would know. Just because you haven't passed out, it doesn't mean you should be pushing yourself that hard. Come on, I'll take you home."
"I should probably go to the station to check on Nicole."
"Let's go there in that case."
She didn't protest as he guided her to his car.
Given the hour the station was relatively empty, which made it an easy task to locate the girl. She was slumped in the chair next to Mike's desk, sipping tea while the said detective, together with Dave Graham were trying to, as gently as possible, get her statement on what happened. They didn't seem to be particularly successful so far.
As soon as he spotted their entrance Mike went over to them.
"How is she?"
"In shock. She doesn't remember very much." The detective looked speculatively at Henry. "I'd assume it's your doing."
"Believe me, detective, it's better that way."
"I'm not so sure. These women... Their families for the rest of their lives are going to think their killer is out there somewhere."
Vicki could feel Henry tense at that and interjected.
"Don't give us this, Mike. You know as well as I do that you can say that about every unsolved case. Every case where there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute the killer. And even if you get everything right it still doesn't bring the victim back. This time you have it easy. Whatever you tell the families about the case they'll believe you. As a cop you represent authority. And when there are no more deaths they will know you were telling the truth."
"And won't there be any more deaths?"
"No." Henry spoke again quietly. "Not caused by Alexander."
A look of realisation appeared on Mike's face.
"You killed him."
Henry didn't reply but the answer wasn't hard to read from his face.
Mike looked like he wanted to add something but a look he received from Vicki silenced him. After a moment he glanced at the girl sitting at his desk.
"You know, to that girl her brother will always be a stalker. A killer. She'll never know what happened. Or why."
"Well, that depends on us, doesn't it?" Vicki asked, ignoring a confused look she got from both men and walked to Nicole.
The girl was sitting almost unmoving, save for occasionally bringing the cup to her lips. Vicki dragged a second chair to the desk and sat next to her.
"Hi." The girl's eyes didn't focus on Vicki as she responded.
"I hear you don't remember much from what happened."
A shake of head.
"It's called posttraumatic amnesia." The PI said as gently as she could. "It should pass with time as you make peace with your memories."
Nicole looked up.
"How can I if I don't remember what happened?"
"Let's start from the beginning. What do you remember?"
"Of searching for your brother. Of why he left. And even of tonight if you remember anything."
"You already know all that. I told you how he went missing. And the closest I got to finding him was when I came to you."
"But you don't remember why he left."
"I don't know why he left. I told you that."
"But you learnt that tonight, remember?" She could hear a sharp intake of breath behind her and hoped Henry would trust her enough not to interfere.
Again, the girl shook her head looking, if possible, even more lost than before.
"You know how just before he left Alexander started acting strange and avoiding sunlight, working mostly at night? I suppose he also wasn't seen eating anything." She could almost feel Henry struggling to remain outwardly calm behind her.
"Well, yeah, now that you mention it. But what does that have to do with anything?"
"Everything. After all the reason behind his actions was also the reason he left." 'Please, Henry, bear with me for a moment longer' "I got an email from him yesterday. I showed it to you, remember?"
"No." Well, how could she, if no such email existed.
"He wrote why he left and asked me to tell you not to look for him. He didn't want to be found. Ring any bells?"
Quite obviously, it didn't. The girl shook her head again, looking at Vicki as if she was hypnotised.
"He wrote why he left?"
"Yeah, you really don't remember?" Rhetorical questions are in vogue after all. "Do you want me to tell it all to you again?"
A nod. Nice change in almost non-verbal conversation on Nicole's side.
"You know how he met this woman, what was she called again?" She pretended to think for a moment. "Christina, I believe her name was. She promised to help him make a career only she also started imposing on his lifestyle... To fit her expectations he went on a stricter diet and she kept taking him out drinking more often... He didn't want to tell you about it because he didn't want you to worry about him." Several thousand to one he never elaborated on what he was doing when he was with Christina while talking to his sister.
"But what does it have to do with him leaving?"
"According to what he wrote, he soon started not feeling well, including having quite severe abdominal pain. He thought his diet was to blame so he went to see a doctor. Remember anything now?"
The wide-eyed girl next to Vicki shook her head. "Nothing."
"Perhaps it will come to you later. Anyway, when he was done with all the tests the doctor had run Alexander was diagnosed with acute porphyria."
The fact that she could practically sense the two men behind her freeze in surprise didn't help Vicki's composure. Still she went on.
"Of course at first there was shock. But as he talked to the doctor he learnt that while the disorder is genetic in most cases it can start acting up in response to alcohol, certain foods even malnutrition. Soon after he found out that he was reacting badly to hematin. It's the drug halting porphyrin synthesis. So when an attack came they wouldn't be really able to help him. He didn't want to burden you with all that so he left. He wanted you to lead a happy life and not be forced to take care of him."
When Vicki looked at Nicole, the girl had tears in her eyes.
"Why are they saying he did all those things if he just left because he was sick?"
"I can't give you a definite answer. I know that porphyria can also cause hallucinations so it's possible that he might have done that, or some of that, never even realising what he was doing. The only other thing I know is what he wrote in his letter – he was following that Christina woman, convinced that what happened to him was her fault and demanding that she compensate for what she did by securing your future. We suspected that he may try to meet with her tonight so we went to that theatre but when we got there neither of them were there. We went outside when you realised you might never see him again and you broke down. That's when Mike and Dave came and brought you here. Remember now?"
The girl frowned concentrating hard but in the end, as could be expected, shook her head.
"Don't worry, it will come to you when the time is right." Vicki put her hand comfortingly on the girl's shoulder. "Don't try to rush it."
She risked a glance at Henry and Mike to see them both wearing quite similar dumbstruck expressions. Belatedly she realised that Dave stood there as well listening to the story. It was him who spoke first.
"If you got a letter from the suspect yesterday why didn't you say anything? Not trying to impose anything but in those cases we are supposed to get informed."
Vicki never lost a beat.
"What do you mean I never said anything? Mike, are you telling me you've ignored me completely when I told you about the letter?"
It took a second for Mike to catch on.
"I just told you I can't do anything until I see the letter. We had a lot going on then and I was sure I already told Dave at some point." Vicki was of the opinion that Mike's acting skills left a lot to be desired but thankfully detective Graham bought it anyway.
"Well, I guess it doesn't matter now anyway. But I sure hope you aren't usually this scatterbrained at work."
"Don't worry, Dave. He isn't. But I'd like to borrow him now for a moment if you don't mind." Vicki quickly cut in and was rewarded by a smirk from Dave followed by the man's a bit reluctant departure. She turned to her partner. "Henry would you mind staying with Nicole for a second? Maybe now that I told her what happened it somehow jumpstarted her memory."
She had no doubt the vampire knew what she really asked him to do when he nodded and went to take her place next to the girl. Then she guided Mike a bit away.
"You know, Vic, I'm pretty sure there is some rule about brainwashing victims at the precinct. And I'm fairly convinced that it says: don't."
"Would you rather have a victim with a memory of her vampire brother nearly ripping her throat out tonight?"
"Sounds nearly like relations on my grandmother's side of the family."
"Funny, you never mentioned you were related to the Corleones."
"Vicki, do me and yourself a favour and don't try to tease me when I have on my hands a multiple homicide case that is practically impossible to close."
"What do you mean impossible? Your suspect was diagnosed with porphyria. Which includes elements of mental disorder. As such there is no capacity of guilt so even if caught he couldn't be charged with anything. You give his description to the patrols to find him and take his sister's permission to forcefully hospitalise him when found. The case is closed and, as we both know he won't be found, there won't be any follow-ups."
"As soon as I can prove he was diagnosed with porphyria."
"Well, don't expect me to do everything for you. A word of advice though – he was a model he might have chosen to visit a doctor privately, even under false name to prevent anybody from learning about it."
"And in the worst case you can always find a doctor that could be persuaded to remember he diagnosed Alexander." They never noticed when Henry came to them. "She will be gradually 'regaining memory' over the next few days. Right now she wanted some time alone. I must compliment your story though. How did you manage to think of something like that?"
"What, you don't believe I was just lucky at improvising? It's not like I had any reason to spend all day trying to figure out how to tell my client that her brother was a vampire without actually saying that."
"Do you really have that email you mentioned written?"
"Not yet. But given that Coreen can hack FBI servers I doubt she will have that much of a problem with dating it a day back when I ask her to. I'll send a copy to you, Mike, to complete the evidence."
"Crowley is going to raise all kinds of hell anyway if the guy isn't caught."
"Porphyria attacks can be fatal. If nobody sees head or tails of Alexander for some time that conclusion would be easy to reach making it even easier to nicely wrap the case."
"You know, I once had a partner, looking quite a bit like you actually, who would have shot herself before saying something like that."
"You know what they say – extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures." She looked at her watch. "But we should probably be going now. I guess you can handle it from here."
Judging from the expression she got you would have thought that she asked him if he could think and breathe at the same time.
When they got to the car Vicki tried to steal a glance at Henry, who still hadn't said a word since leaving the station, but found herself unable to complete the task due to her failing vision.
"You can drive home now. I can take a cab from your place." She offered quietly as they were leaving the parking lot.
"I have enough time to give you a lift without a problem."
"Perhaps. But it was a really hard night for you. Besides I want to see you home this time."
"I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself, I assure you."
She didn't notice which way he turned and without night vision she couldn't tell if he chose to go with her suggestion or not. She decided to ignore the matter for a while until she could find out. Asking would be admitting vulnerability which she didn't really want to do.
"Never said you weren't. But I figured that after something like that even you may want to take a break."
He laughed softly for a second but she could tell it was a laugh of someone burdened with too much.
"I promise not to lose any sleep over what happened."
"Don't I really have a right to be there for you?" She sighed. "Well, I suppose I should expect that since you don't even trust me enough to help you."
"I do trust you, Vicki."
"Yeah, sure you do. Which would be why you decided to cut me off from what was happening even when you went to Mike for help. Honestly, I don't know why I didn't let the two of you work on it alone. It's not like you really listened to what I told you about my findings."
He was silent for a few seconds and she started to wonder if she was going to get any reply at all. Then he spoke, quietly with an undertone of sorrow in his voice.
"I'm sorry, Victoria. You are right – I should have trusted you. By not doing that I not only wronged but also endangered you. Please believe me when I say however, that at least part of what I did, I did to protect you."
Her first impulse was to argue then, insisting that she did not need protecting and that nothing really excused such behaviour towards her . The light of a passing streetlamp allowed her to catch the expression on his face and the words froze in her throat.
"It's all right. Just don't do it next time, alright?" She finally mustered her voice enough to say that sincerely.
She had no way of seeing him again but she could almost sense his relief.
When the car stopped she squinted with her vision to see where they arrived before she got out. She was spared the effort when Henry spoke first.
"Do you want to come up or do you just wish to go home immediately and rest?"
"I don't know. Am I invited?"
"Always. Never doubt that."
"And won't it bother you when you're preparing to sleep?"
"It doesn't take as long as you might think. The decision is up to you completely."
"Well then," she allowed. "I suppose it will be easier to catch a cab after there is enough light so I can see one."
Somehow she didn't care if what she just said was admitting to her vulnerability.
Once they got upstairs Vicki went to Henry's kitchen and helped herself to a glass of water.
"You know, you should really be more careful about keeping up appearances."
"May I ask what brought this on?" He followed her and leaned nonchalantly against the table.
"You should have something edible in the kitchen, you know, in case someone looks in here."
"Nobody does. And those few that do already know what to expect."
"And what if one of your snacks wandered in here?"
"I may invite them to my bedroom but I don't give them tours of the place. And I rarely let them out of sight."
"Why don't you just tell me what you want me to have for you and I'll make sure it's here next time?"
"I didn't say..." She took a look at his face and a smile playing on his lips. "Fine. I wouldn't say no if you had some yoghurt, maybe something other than water to drink. But you don't have to..."
"Done." He smiled at her.
She took a sip of water and glanced at him looking undecided. Then she slowly set the glass down and walked up to him. She locked her eyes with his.
She didn't realise it until now but as all the pressure of the night began to leave her she started shaking. Once she did she had hard time controlling it.
She felt Henry's arms embracing her. She didn't protest and after a second leaned into his embrace.
"Vicki, are you alright?"
"Yeah, it's just... I... I almost lost you tonight. I..."
She felt his embrace tighten around her.
"I'm here, Vicki. It's alright. And I have you to thank for my life." He held her for a moment waiting for her to calm down a bit. "Would it really mean that much to you if you lost me?"
"Would it...? How can you even ask that? I l..." She broke off and paled realising what she nearly said. Then she took a deep breath. "I mean, I'd miss having you around."
It wasn't a nice save and she knew that even before Henry spoke again.
"Victoria," he spoke quietly, his voice barely above whisper, "is having me around truly the only thing you'd miss? Or do mean what you didn't say?"
She stiffened petrified at the prospect of giving either answer.
"Henry..." she broke off.
He regarded her silently for a moment. Then he sighed.
"Vicki, I'm far from willing to force upon you something you don't want. You should know by now that I care about you. If you are not ready to say anything I won't force you to. I merely asked to know if there was any reason for me to keep hope."
"Oh." She went silent before she lowered her voice to a barely audible whisper as she spoke through a tight throat. "There... there is. But don't ask me to..."
"I won't. Not until you're ready. But please don't make me wait too long. I may be able to live forever but I'm not sure I can wait quite that long. Not when so much depends on the answer."
"I don't know if...when. When I'll be able to say that aloud. Do you really care about me?"
"More than I thought possible. Than I ever had for anyone."
"Anyone? Even...?" The question was left unsaid as the horrible image from earlier that night suddenly appeared before Vicki's eyes.
"Yes. Even her. Don't doubt it, Vicki." There wasn't any doubt in his voice and to her utter surprise Vicki realised that she actually believed him.
Suddenly the thoughts that appeared in Vicki's head were so obvious that it felt as if they were there forever. Still, she couldn't quite forge them into words. Not yet.
"I will say it, you know. I don't if it will be tomorrow or next week, or month, or even later but I will."
"That's all I ask. Thank you."
After that they stood silently in an embrace for a moment. Finally Henry gently shifted away.
"I need to get ready to sleep. It's not long until dawn." His tone carried a sadness as he spoke.
She nodded. "Alright. Go do whatever it is you need to do. I'll just finish my drink."
He smiled at her one more time before becoming a blur in her eyes and disappearing from her sight.
She took her time going out of the kitchen and when she did she was joined by Henry who apparently managed to already change and get ready for bed in that short time. They started another round of teasing and a moment later she was sitting on the side of his bed as he lied down.
The sight of a soft bed made her realise how tired she was. She tried to stifle a yawn but wasn't very successful.
"You know, if you are this exhausted you could always sleep here." He noticed her shift uncomfortably. "No implied meaning. Just sleep. I assure you the sun would guard your safety and virtue even more surely than a double edged sword."
The offer was tempting. And the perspective of the long ride to her apartment was more discouraging every second. With a great effort she managed to push her thoughts in a different direction.
"Have you actually heard of the sword being used like that?"
"Yes, actually. A few times. And I have good reason to believe at least some of those stories are true. As I said though, you won't need it. The decision is yours. I promise I won't read anything into that."
She was torn. On the one hand, Henry inviting her to his bed rung all sorts of alarms in her head. On the other though, it seemed innocent enough, she was tired and it gave an excuse to be closer to Henry than she usually allowed herself without any risk of it being misunderstood. All in all...
"And you won't mind?"
"Not in the slightest."
He smiled and she suddenly couldn't help the feeling that he was having fun at her expense. Even if the original offer was genuine enough she wasn't really in the mood to provide entertainment to anyone, no matter how relieved she was that he was fine. Two could play this game and after the events of the night she wouldn't complain about having Henry where she could see him. Figuratively speaking at least.
"Well, if you really wouldn't mind... but I can't very well lie down fully dressed, can I?"
She slowly took off her outer clothes before taking another look at Henry. His face was calm, a small smile still playing on his lips but in the light of the bedside lamp she could see wistfulness in his eyes as he regarded her. Suddenly teasing him, especially in light of their recent – and suddenly very vivid in her memory – conversation seemed cruel rather than fun.
She opened her mouth to say something to him but before she got to do that she heard a soft clunk on the floor. She looked down searching for the source of the sound and stilled slightly when she saw what it was.
"I know it might be my terrible close-mindedness speaking, Miss Van Helsing, but I have this little house rule stating that you don't bring any torture devises to the bedroom unless it's with a prior consent of both parties."
"Just promise me you won't keep throwing it around."
"I think I can promise that." She carefully picked up the item and put it away on the bedside table. "There. All done."
She hesitated for a moment not knowing what to do next. Since she was starting to get cold dressed just in her underwear she made a final decision and slipped under the covers.
"Vicki..." Henry started speaking as he looked at her but then apparently changed his mind and switched to a different topic. "You were brilliant today. The way you handled the situation with Nicole and found an explanation for what happened..."
"Well, times change. I don't think anyone would buy the TB excuse anymore."
"There was an epidemic in London in 1536." He whispered in a distant tone. "At the same time I was trying to avoid meeting Jane Seymour so the spring and summer of that year I often used the excuse of not feeling well to avoid it."
"Sounds like a lot of effort to stay away from someone."
"One of the first times I saw her she was in the chapel about to be betrothed to my father. She did not know I was there. She was praying, asking God to be granted the grace of being the one to give my father the dearly sought son. I left before she discovered me there."
He smiled a poignant smile "It's alright. I had a long time to come to peace with those memories." He paused. "To be honest I let go of those feelings not so long afterwards. When I heard of her fate. She paid with her life for having her wish granted. How could I hold anything against her after that?"
She didn't have an answer but it didn't seem Henry needed one.
"I began withdrawing from the life of the court more and more. When I was turned, given the state of medicine at the time and the fact that thanks to Christina I displayed some signs of anemia, they reached the most obvious conclusion. You can hardly blame them for that."
They were silent for a moment when she gave him a small smile.
"I have to give you one thing. You are probably the first person to treat the 'till death do us part' as an escape clause like that. Not that I should be surprised given where you got half of your genes from."
"Mary was barely more than my best friend's sister. Which was already more then many could hope for. We were on considerably good terms but there weren't any deeper feelings involved. Reasonably amicable relations and general courtesy during the day and retiring to separate bedrooms for the night. Probably not what you'd expect from a marriage. But if it makes you feel any better, then probably at least part of my DNA was overwritten upon the turning."
"Is that so, Mr. Not-Necessarily-One-Woman-Of-Course?"
"I will admit that everything depends on the woman." He spoke carefully, as if concentrating more on each word but he smiled at her.
Suddenly she realised something. It seemed they were already talking for a while and...
"When is the sun going to rise?"
"It had about two minutes ago." Again it seemed to take an increasingly greater effort for him to speak.
"But..." He must have found her confusion amusing as his smile grew a bit wider.
"You are proving an excellent distraction."
"Doubting the evidence of your own eyes?"
"Never were all that trustworthy anyway."
"Then at least allow me to say one thing. Does stating obvious facts count as flirting?"
"Generally no. But..."
"Then... You are really a beautiful and fascinating woman, Vicki." With some visible effort he whispered the sentence and with a soft sigh drifted into vampire sleep.
"Henry..." Vicki tried half-heartedly already knowing it was a lost cause. Then she rolled her eyes. There was no way the timing could be this good purely by coincidence.
With one last look at the vampire who dared to pay her a serious compliment before retreating into death-like sleep without giving her a chance to retort she switched the light off. The bedroom was engulfed by a darkness so complete that when she closed her eyes trying to go into Morpheus's embrace herself she could not see a difference.
She was yanked out of sleep by the sound of her telephone ringing. After a moment of disorientation she remembered where she was, rolled out of the bed and tried to find her phone, which wasn't easy given that she was trying to accomplish the task by touch. Finally she did.
"Hello?" Vicki stifled a yawn as she spoke.
"Vicki! I was beginning to worry. You didn't come to work and when you weren't answering the phone..." Coreen's chirpy voice was a bit too much over the phone but Vicki made effort to listen anyway. "Were you sleeping?"
"Sorry, couldn't find the phone. And yeah, I might have. What hour is it?"
"Almost noon. But sorry if I woke you. Tough night?"
"You wouldn't believe. Speaking of which, I need you to compose an email dated back a day."
"No problem. Just tell me what you need."
It took Vicki a moment to gather her thoughts after the sudden awaking enough to present what she needed in the letter in a comprehensive manner.
"When you are done send a copy to Mike, ok?"
"Sure." Coreen paused suddenly. "How come you didn't know the time? Don't you have a watch?"
"I couldn't see it in the dark, that's all."
"In the dark?"
"There isn't really any light here with the blinds closed. Much for the obvious." When she would later analyse the situation she would blame that slip on not being fully awake.
"Wait. Blinds? Where exactly are you?"
"Never mind, Coreen."
"Have you slept with Henry?"
"Coreen! No! I mean yes, but come on. It's a day. Sleeping is the key word here. Nothing happened."
"Sure it hasn't."
"I'm serious, Coreen."
"Then how did you end in bed together?"
"I was tired. Henry offered. He implied that I may kill him in his sleep, I implied he takes too much after his father, then we both went to sleep."
"And you really expect me to believe that?"
Vicki sighed. "Believe what you will, Coreen. Just prepare the letter."
"I will and I'll leave you to yourself now. You probably want to make sure you look pretty for Henry when he wakes up." She could almost picture the Goth was grinning as she spoke.
"Bye!" The girl disconnected quickly but Vicki still managed to catch her laugh before she did.
For a second the PI simply stared at the phone in disbelief. Then she made an effort to find the light switch and turned the bedside lamp on. She put away the phone and looked at Henry, sleeping in the bed.
Vicki couldn't help a small smile creeping onto her lips. In his sleep he looked peaceful and, even though she knew better already, very young. Giving in to an impulse she leaned to him and brushed away a curl irritatingly covering his cheek.
Using the opportunity she caressed his cheek and smiled. She would tell him. The decision was sudden but once made she could not see how could she reach any other. She would tell him. As soon as the sunset came.
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