Disclaimer: The author of the story has no claim as to the intellectual property rights connected to Blood Ties. The work below is in its entirety a piece of fan fiction. All profit derived from the story was donated to charity on the terms set for the Help Haiti auction. Should owners of respective rights disagree with the purpose and wish for the story to be removed from the public archive they are asked to bring the matter to the author's attention.
Story available courtesy of TiserT.
Credit for beta reading goes to Marlana. Big thank you for your help.
Summary: One thing Vicki Nelson knew was that she wasn't into fluff and romanticism. Too bad not everyone seemed to have accepted that fact.
First, there was the sound. Nothing too obtrusive, of course. If it was, she suspected it would have roused her out of her sleep earlier. No – it was a quiet melody that she had a vague feeling might be a Mozart's piece but couldn't be sure seeing how she never specialised in music. Still, after the strands of sleep thinned a bit, she realised that was off. There shouldn't be any music playing in the background.
That realisation finally made her open her eyes. Which caused her to momentarily forget about the music. Her bed was covered with red spots, contrasting against the covers. She quickly reached to the nightstand for her glasses and a second later breathed in a sigh of relief when the spots morphed into rose petals. Nothing too bad then. Given her job experience it was hardly a wonder her first thought was something ominous. Then it hit her.
Rose petals. In her bed.
The list of people who might have wanted to sneak into her locked apartment in the middle of the night might include a few names but only one was on the list of those, who would do that to sprinkle her covers with flowers.
She groaned, rolled her eyes and buried her face in the pillow in frustration. Then she spent about a minute sputtering the petals she never noticed there.
Muttering darkly about buying tanning lamps and woodworking kits she decided to get out of bed and see how long it would take to pluck the petals out of her hair. On her way to the bathroom, she spotted a small silver stereo that she was pretty sure she didn't own, standing on the floor.
She bent down to see it was playing on a loop. She stopped the music and opened it. Sure enough it was Mozart. The thing playing being apparently Concerto no. 21. Musikverein Wien recording. Was it even be obtainable in Toronto? She resolved to stop wondering and continued to the bathroom.
When she got to the mirror, there was an envelope partially obstructing her view. She took it and looked inside. A note. Saying 'Have a wonderful day." That in itself perhaps wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that the note was written on scented paper. In gothic. And, what's worse, the paper had a watermark. Not that she would be surprised if it turned out it was strategically placed near a well-lit mirror to make that fact noticeable.
She suddenly wondered if a vampire could get drunk if he fed off someone with high BAC. And if so, how fast would the alcohol be metabolised by the vampire's hyperactive regeneration system. Then again, maybe not alcohol – it would probably be too diluted. But there were quite a few other fun substances detectable in the blood that one could probably find in the clubs that a certain vampire frequented. That would explain a thing or two.
When she got to the kitchen, she found another note, this time thankfully a normal one, attached to the coffee machine. Apparently everything was prepared, waiting for her just to press the button. She rolled her eyes as she did but upon being hit by the blissful aroma of freshly ground and probably expensive coffee she decided that maybe, just maybe, she'd give him a chance to explain himself. This time.
Waiting for the coffee to brew, she looked into one of the cabinets. Sure enough, in front of the usual jar of Nescafe was a small barrel with a 'Blue Mountain' stamp. She almost started wondering what was with the barrel before she stopped herself.
Not only didn't she want to know but the drink was ready and there was absolutely nothing in the world more important than her morning coffee.
When she finally got to the office, Vicki saw her assistant cheerfully spring from behind her desk to greet her. The girl was wearing something black, dress-like and covered with small red hearts.
The Goth already had her mouth open to say something when Vicki's glare silenced her on the spot. She quickly backtracked, muttering something about preparing files for the client who was supposed to come today.
Not that Vicki bought it, of course. But it was nice to see the girl had at least a modicum of the survival instinct.
The client had just gone and she was about to decide that the time was perfect for a lunch break when there was a knock on the door.
"Victoria Nelson?" she heard a male voice ask Coreen.
"Right through the door." Little gothic traitor denying her lunch. She sighed and looked up.
The man standing in the door was probably around Coreen's age. He was holding some paper and generally looked like a delivery guy. Perhaps not so bad then.
"Okay, what do I have to sign and bring in whatever you brought here. I was about to take a break."
"Uh, yes. I have a delivery for you, Ma'am," he said while approaching.
"I figured. You did notice the sign on the door, didn't you?" She quickly signed the manifest and was ready to be done with it.
"Er, I'm sorry?" the guy tried. He was currently wearing a trapped look. Well, he was wasting her time but at least there was her proof she still had it.
"How about you stop being sorry and start being quick?"
With that, he disappeared through the door and returned a moment later with a basket of red roses. Vicki scowled for a second but in the end could only sigh as the delivery guy left. Not like she shouldn't have expected this with the way her morning was going. That was when he returned with an identical bunch.
"What the..." Before she could even finish speaking, he was gone again. Apparently, he took her friendly advice to heart about being quicker about his business. She honestly didn't know if she should have been surprised when he brought more roses. And more.
With growing horror, she observed as floral reinforcements were coming in, helping with the siege of her office.
"How many are there?" she finally asked when the guy reappeared again.
"That's almost it. One hundred red roses," he offered, proving the point that it was, in fact, possible to be helpful and suicidal at the same time.
"A hundred? Why not." The earlier idea about a tanning lamp suddenly started looking tempting again. "Wait, almost?"
She didn't know if he did it to spite her or if he was just hoping to part with this world in a painful way but he did not wait. Instead he brought a single white long rose and handed it to her. It had a card attached.
"I gather that's all?"
"Yes, Ma'am." He actually seemed out of breath.
With a sigh, Vicki handed him a tip hoping he that he would get lost faster. He did.
Then she spared a cursory glare at the sea of flowers around her. If someone wanted to mock her vision and make sure there was something for her to trip over at every turn, this was probably a rather successful method. Then she turned her attention to the rose she was still holding. Since the flower didn't have the sense to wilt and burst into flames from the look she gave it, she decided she might as well peruse the card.
Sure enough, there was the gothic handwriting again. This time it was even worse.
'How sweet at eve the lover's lute
Chime when the groves were still and mute!
And when the midnight moon should lave
Her forehead in the silver wave,
How solemn on the ear would come
The holy matins' distant hum.'
Funny. One would think that you don't get to live for a few centuries with such blatant suicidal tendencies.
But whatever was going through Henry's mind at the time, something needed to be done now to resolve the situation. And she knew just the thing.
"Coreen, if you don't want to have someone dying painfully before their five hundredth birthday on your conscience, you'd better come here and help put this mess out of the walkway. And get some water for that long thing, will you?"
She somehow felt cheated when before complying the girl snorted audibly.
Coreen chose to evacuate herself from the office early in the afternoon. Theoretically, she could do that, seeing how she worked late a few days earlier and it was a slow day but that didn't change the fact that abandoning her spot now and leaving Vicki in the flowers' company probably counted as a desertion.
Oddly enough, the roses proved not to be very responsive company. Usually it felt better when something you were sending death glares every few minutes actually had the good sense to recoil from time to time.
She went online and decided to see if there was some free shooting game on the Internet. Otherwise, she felt she might be a touch tempted to actually go for the live action fun as soon as she got hold of a certain vampire.
Henry arrived at her office exactly thirty-seven minutes after getting up. And if asked, she would vehemently deny checking the time every minute after sunset. Or checking the exact time of sunset online. If she did happen to glance at a site containing such information, it was purely by chance while she was looking for that game. In vain, she might add.
"Good evening, Victoria."
"Is that stating your perspective or an order?"
He raised eyebrow at that. "I would say heartfelt wishes. Is something the matter?"
"Oh I don't know. You wouldn't happen to know anything about any attempts to drown me in flowers, would you?"
"Is it wrong to offer homage to the one that captured your heart?"
"Yeah, right. Seriously, what's with the roses?"
"Do you know what day it is today, Vicki?"
"I don't know. Friday the thirteenth? It would be oddly suitable."
"Actually it's the fourteenth. Of February."
"And that has some significance I suppose, does it?"
"Honestly, Victoria. I know you can't be this ignorant."
"What do you mea..." Just as she was saying that the glittery heart sticker that Coreen decorated the calendar with came to her mind. "Oh hell. Not that."
"Should I assume it's coming back to you then?"
"Are you telling me you are honestly going along with this sugary farce?"
"Every opportunity to express your feelings to your loved one is worth one's attention."
"Henry, don't be ridiculous. I would have thought you of all people would have had time to grow out of such ridiculousness."
"What is there to ridicule about love, Victoria?"
"It's a polite way to mask lust in habitual circumstances."
"You always were the romantic, weren't you? Machiavelli could come to you for lessons in cynicism."
"I wouldn't know. He was more your generation than mine."
"Seeing how just being alive at the same time didn't mean I actually ever met him, I have exactly as much chance to form an opinion as you do. Based on his works."
"Why are you so adamant about opposing love?"
"The so called love leads to dependency. And eventually disappointment."
"And if you are loved by someone who just wishes for his feelings to be returned? Who doesn't want you dependant and would sooner let the sun take him than knowingly be the cause of your pain or disappointment?"
"Then I would say this someone is horribly melodramatic here."
"Fine then. What is it exactly you want again?"
"Your love, your heart and companionship. Feeling your presence whenever I can. You allowing me to show my love in both a spiritual and a physical aspect. But I will settle for you looking at me with favour and keeping your heart open for me."
"Wait, you can't be saying... I can't..."
"Am I really so unworthy of your heart that you wish to deny me even the hope of ever winning it?"
"You know that's not what I was saying."
"Then you shall grant me this chance?"
"You did notice we're in the twenty first century now, didn't you?"
"Yes, I noticed. I also managed to realise what century I was living in before. What I fail to see is how it's relevant."
"You are hopeless, you know that?"
"Only if you deny me the reason to hope."
"Okay, I give up."
"On me? Or on fighting your feelings?"
"You are too useful to have around to give up on you." He grinned. "But if you make me regret that choice I will make sure there will be pain in it for you."
"I wouldn't have it any other way."
"Good." She looked around hoping for some inspiration to change the topic. "And what's with the white rose anyway? Red ones are for love, I get that. You are a bit obvious that way right now anyway. But the white? How does that fit into anything? It means innocence, doesn't it? Or was it just some private joke based on the Tudor rose?"
Instead of replying, he actually started chuckling.
"I'm waiting for an answer here, Henry."
"I'm sorry. But you do realise that you just admitted to knowing something about the language of flowers, don't you?"
"And if you ever breathe a word about this to anyone, I will make sure the sun will seem a pleasant alternative."
"Which doesn't mean it makes sense. The colour."
"Ah, but you not only settled for the wrong one of the two meanings but also seem set to view both types of roses separately."
"Well, shouldn't I? They are different. And what two meanings?"
"First of all, when flowers are gifted from the heart, their number should be uneven. Even number implies that it was a calculated message and that I would be waiting for a response."
"Send a manual next time. So what was the second point?"
"That white rose can indeed mean innocence. But it can also mean eternity. Red and white. Eternal love."
She sighed. "Right now I really wish I was drunk. You would probably be making much more sense then."
"Am I not making it now, Vicki?"
"Honestly. What am I supposed to do with you?"
She knew that was a mistake almost as soon as she voiced it.
"Oh, I can think of a number of interesting things. But I propose we save them for later tonight. Right now I would be honoured if you allowed me to accompany you to a dinner. Later, if it would be agreeable to you, possibly also the cinema. The film you mentioned has a few late screenings."
"You mean the vampire movie?"
"You might say I'm already resigned to your choices in that matter."
"And by the way? Still not this century's behaviour."
"Whatever you say, Victoria."
It was a regular evening. Nothing out of the ordinary. Robbie took the last bite of the chocolate bar before he straightened and went to his spot.
It wasn't a bad job. Sure, you usually worked late which wasn't fun, especially on Valentine's Day but those were the things you got used to. And besides, a nice morning with his girlfriend and putting to good use the employer discount when it came to the tickets alleviated any bitterness he might have felt over the issue. All in all, the life of an usher was okay.
Besides, it seemed that the evening would be a bit slower than he might have feared. All the romantic comedies played earlier this afternoon and the horror flicks still scheduled for today apparently weren't considered the best V-day choice.
Right now, all he had to do was make a few rounds to make sure people kept to the behaviour acceptable and soon enough he would be able to call it a night. Unfortunately that meant he needed to go in there. It wasn't that he was a chicken or anything but horror movies just crept him out. Plain and simple.
Still, it wasn't like he had much of a choice about it. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and, his flashlight in hand, started going along the rows. Sure enough, even though the theatre was rather on the empty side, there was a couple in the back engaging in something that definitely wasn't movie watching. There were always a few on Valentine's Day.
He got closer, doing his best to ignore the action on the screen. Just having his back to it made him feel uneasy. Then he shone the light directly at the two. And stilled.
As soon as the light caught the attention of whom he earlier assumed to be a young man, onyx eyes captured his gaze. In the narrow beam of light, he could see unthinkably white fangs and a trace of red on the... man's... lips. The woman he was holding wasn't moving. A thin line of blood was traveling from wounds on her neck downwards.
Robbie tried to swallow but quickly discovered that his throat was so dry it could easily compete with a desert. He couldn't move or do anything, rooted in the spot by the image before his eyes. Then the... vampire turned his attention back to the woman's neck.
Not wanting to find out for how long the victim would serve as a distraction he hurried out of there. But even the bright light of the corridor and the familiar sounds of the real world did nothing to dispel that haunting image.
"Hey, Rob. I know you don't like the scary movies but come on. Don't you think you are taking it a bit too far?" He heard the voice of Ian next to him but did not look up.
"Vampire," he breathed instead. "I saw..."
"Yeah, I know. I want to see that flick next week. I heard it's good." There was a snicker. "And looking at you right now, I suppose it is."
"No, you don't understand... the vampire... drinking from her..."
"They have something like that in most of them, man. Learn some distance. And right now go to the staff room and pull yourself together. If the boss sees you like this, he won't be happy."
"I'm serious. Go. I'll stand in for you."
There was nothing more to say, really. Besides, if he didn't get out of here, the vampire could come after him. It wasn't his fault if they didn't want to listen to his warning. And right now he really wanted to be as far away from here as possible.
Vicki combed her hair with her fingers and did her best to straighten her clothes. She was trying very hard not to process what, aside from Henry, that guy might have seen.
"Don't you think you should go do something about him?" she whispered to the vampire after she was sure the level of her dishevelment was down to something that could pass for lack of care rather than somebody else's conscious effort.
"Do what, Vicki?" He had the gall to actually look amused at the moment. The question about the vampire's suicidal tendencies was practically begging to be addressed again.
"Oh, you know, your mind trick thing. He probably won't sit on what he just saw."
"Even if he doesn't, taking under consideration that he will be stating he saw it with hardly any light with this," he gestured, "playing on the screen, the best he can hope for is getting ridiculed. It's not like he will have any evidence."
"And somebody should really teach him a lesson about respecting other people's privacy."
Vicki considered that. On the one hand, there was scaring half to death someone who was probably just doing their job, if a bit too meticulously and risking revealing secrets that should remain untold. On the other there was getting back at someone who caused her embarrassment. All in all...
"Just make sure it doesn't happen again. I would have thought that those vampire senses were good enough to detect a snooping human."
"In case you didn't notice, Vicki, I was a bit preoccupied."
"Yeah. Keep telling yourself that."
In the end, despite everything, Vicki had to admit to herself that she did have some fun today. Naturally, that didn't mean she needed to broadcast that anywhere. The darned vampire was too full of himself as it was.
Still, the day wasn't half bad and she even surprised herself by thinking that perhaps she wouldn't mind repeating some of it at another time. Even without any special occasion. But it didn't mean she wouldn't have Henry work for it.
After all, he left her with all those rose petals on her bed that she would need to get rid of before going to sleep.
Reviews will be appreciated, of course.