Disclaimer: I do not own "Kindred: The Embraced" or any of their characters contained therein. They belong to the writers who created them and the actors who played the parts.

A/N: This is a story I wrote years ago. I finally decided to dust it off and submit it. I hope you enjoy it.

CHAPTER ONE

"You must do this thing, Sasha." The voiced was menacing. Bodies were pressing around her, closer than felt safe.

"I won't," she hissed pushing against the nearest body. It was solid as a rock, and just as cold, just as unmovable.

"You have to. Or else, your own clan will disown you." The words echoed around her, coming in different voices, each as frightening as the other.

"I'll go back to Julian," Sasha desperately wanted to get away from the forces surrounding her. Ot take a breath of fresh air. All she could smell were unwashed bodies and cloying perfumes and aftershaves. The older the vampires got, the harder to hide the scent of death.

"We'll kill you both." Her tormentors swirled by her sight, making her dizzy. Their bodies pressed closer against her, blocking out the light. She felt like she was drowning.

"You wouldn't dare. He's the prince!" She couldn't believe what she as hearing. The entire Brujah clan had lost its mind.

"Prince's come and go. Who knows, maybe we'll find one among out own clan.

"You will help us kill Cash. He has to pay for what happened to Eddie."

"Lily was the one who killed him." Maybe this was a bad dream and she was going to wake up any moment now.

"Lily may yet be of use to us. Cash is of more use dead."

"I love him!" Sasha cried in anguish.

"All the more reason to get rid of him. He keeps you from fully coming over to the Brujah clan."

"I love him." Sasha's voice had lost all strength. Her knees gave out and she slowly slid to the floor. Clasping her hands on either side of her head, Sasha tried to block out the voices. She tried to block out the scream from deep within herself at the realization that they were right.

"Tonight." The words echoed around her, through her. "We'll do it tonight. Sleep now." And she did.

OOOOO

The crowd at the Haven was more plentiful, wilder than usual. A current of electricity moved through the rooms. Whether from the number of humans around or from a general sense of excitement, Cash couldn't tell. The thought disturbed him. Any chance of trouble had to be acknowledged and prepared for. Julian had to be kept safe at all costs.

Cash stood at the bottom of the staircase that led to the private conference room on the second floor. Scanning the faces floating around the dance floor, he picked out a few from his own clan, the Gangrel. There were several others from the Brujah, including Sasha hanging toward the back of the room. , a few Toreador and fewer still Ventrue. The Kindred were vastly out numbed this night. It did not bode well with him.

A red haze emanated from the humans, pulsed with each beat of their hearts, drawing Cash toward the nearest one. A petite blond was giving him the eye. Cash caught himself after the first step. He hadn't fed yet and was allowing the hunger to get the better of him. He turned his mind back to business.

At the top of the stairs, a meeting was going on between Lily and Julian. Whatever they were discussing, they wanted it to stay between them. Even though they knew anything Cash might overhear would never be repeated by him.

"Hi." Cash nearly jumped, having not heard Sasha come up beside him. The newly embraced Brujah was refining her skills.

"What are you doing here?" The question came out in a knee-jerk reaction, no thought required or requested. A veil dropped over Sasha's wide, brown eyes as pain registered.

Immediately, Cash felt a flash of remorse. He hadn't intended to hurt her. He loved her, had since the first time he'd met the then human girl. "I'm sorry," he said, the sentiment genuine.

"You're forgiven," the dark haired young woman replied, a smile playing across her full lips. But the shadow stayed over her eyes. "Where's Julian?"

The question, while completely innocent, set the young Gangrel's nerves on edge. "Upstairs." A quick glance of the room over Sasha's head indicated that no one was paying undue attention to the duo.

"Can you get away for a couple of minutes?" Something was upsetting the woman. It probably had to do with the aversion their two clans had for each other.

"Sure. What's going on?" Not answering immediately, Sasha caught hold of his arm and tried to draw him toward the rear exit.

"Not here. There're too many people." Sasha had her back toward him as she led him though the crowd standing on the sidelines to the door.

Alarms were going off in his head but Dash loved her and refused to believe that she would deliberately hurt him. He glanced back into the building just as they passed through the doorway. The alarms grew louder.

Sasha let go of his arm once they reached the dark alleyway. Then she moved a short distance away. "I have something to tell you," she said with her back still toward him.

"What's wrong?" Cash took a step toward Sasha, his hands coming up as if to rest on her stiff shoulders. He never got that far.

There as a flash off to his right, just over his shoulder. Then something struck him, hard, sending him crashing into Sasha. Pain blossomed through his right shoulder and side.

Cash fell to the ground as Sasha untangled herself from him, rolled onto his back to look up at her face. The person staring down at him was barely recognizable. A sneer deformed her mouth.

"Why?" was all Cash could manage. They had used bullets dipped in phosphorous. It wouldn't kill him but it would leave him weak as a kitten.

"You were my one weakness, Cash. We had to get rid of you," Sasha stated, her voice completely devoid of emotion. They were no longer alone. Four more Brujah had joined them. They stood around him, staring down at Cash.

"Time to go," one of them growled. One of the men threw a blanket over Cash,. It was more to hide him from sight than for any concern for his heal. He picked Cash up like a rag doll. There was nothing Cash could do, not even scream. Sasha had been right. He was her only weakness. She was his and he was paying dearly for it. Cash was dumped unceremoniously into the trunk of a car then the trunk was slammed shut over his head.

"I'm sorry Julian," was Cash's last thought before he slipped into unconsciousness.

OOOOO

The meeting over, Julian made his way down the stars. At the bottom, he glanced around the busy bar, expecting to see his bodyguard, Cash, somewhere nearby. Concern began to gnaw at him when he didn't find Cash. Off to Julian's left stood a Toreador. "Have you seen Cash?" he asked.

The woman shook her head, no. "He was here an hour ago, waiting, and then he was gone."

"Did you see him leave?" Julian persisted.

Several other Kindred, sensing the Prince's distress, had drifted over, coming in partway through the conversation.

"No," the Toreador replied.

"Have any of you seen Cash?" Several of the faces staring at him were Brujah. Every one of them were shaking their heads, indicating they hadn't.

"What's wrong?" Lily asked. She'd come down the stairs to join Julian. Then realization hit her. "Cash?"

Julian shrugged his shoulders and took another look around the room. Even though he was young, Cash was one of the most dedicated Gangrels he had ever known. To just disappear while the Prince was out in public, the isolation of the meeting notwithstanding, went against everything the kid stood for. Something had happened to him, something bad.

There, at the back of the room, slipping out the front entrance, was a mass of curly brown hair.

"Sasha!" Julian called out. The young woman was his granddaughter, although she thought he was her uncle, and even being a Brujah, she'd tell him the truth.

He had to cross the room and grab her arm. She'd chosen to not hear.

"Sasha," Julian repeated.

"What?" She turned to face him. The same familiar broad face he loved but her eyes were different, harder.

"Have you seen Cash?" The longer his bodyguard was missing, the more alarmed Julian was becoming.

"Yes."

"Where is he?" The Prince of the Kindred was aware of the love between his friend and bodyguard and his granddaughter. The lack of emotion she was now exhibiting was puzzling to him.

"Gone," was her simple response. Several Brujah were gathering around them. The animosity emanating form them would have frightened the most courageous man but Julian chose to ignore it. The Brujah clan had long grumbled about his being named Prince and had made several veiled threats but that was all they were, threats. Despite their angry words, even the Brujah weren't crazy enough to go against him. There was no one in any of the clans to replace him if he should die.

"What do you mean, gone?" Julian demanded.

"Lose your shadow, Prince?" one of the bolder members of the crowd asked. Murmurs of amusement spread through the gathered Kindred.

"You haven't answered my question," Julian pressed. He still had hold of his granddaughter and was forcing her to look him in the eye. She would rather stare at the walls or the floor than attempt a blatant lie. Luckily, she wasn't required to.

"He's dead." It felt as if someone had plunged a knife into Julian's chest. Not a pleasant experience, he ought to know having gone through it once.

"What are you talking about?" Julian couldn't believe what he was hearing or how calm Sasha was.

"He was shot and taken out to the hills to die." The tension in the crowd increased as they waited for the Prince's reaction.

The expression on Julian's face made the young woman wish she hadn't seen it. There was pain and rage reflected in his dark eyes. Julian's mouth was drawn tight with similar emotions.

"Where did you take him?" Julian demanded. At the very least Cash deserved a decent burial, if he was dead.

Sasha pulled her arm away from Julian's grasp. "I don't know." She turned and exited the climb, five Brujah clansmen surrounding her as a buffer from humans and other clans.

"Where is he?" Julian demanded, a feeling of helplessness washing through him.