Title: Sometimes They Aren't Necessary

Theme: #1 Introduction

Rating: PG-13 mild cursing

Warnings:

Pairing(s): Celeste & Eric

Summary:Sometimes first impressions can haunt us for all our lives.

Standard disclaimer: I do not own any characters. They are all products of Christine Feehan's imagination.


She was there again.

Beneath the shade of the trees overlooking the valley below. The cliff was high, jutting, and far too dangerous for a woman to linger about. Yet, there she was sitting in a gown of darken green just watching the way the moon drifted over the sky. Her hair would catch in the wind sometimes, and if he was in just the right place he could catch the faintest hint of bread and clay. She never fully turned her head in his direction when he was training below her, nor did she ever meet his eyes in passing, but he always turned to watch her.

"You keep watching her like that and you might lose your head," Mikhail laughed, and swung his sword almost taking off a few strands of his hair. "Better figure out your intentions and soon Eric or else."

Eric sidestepped another blow and cross his sword with Mikhail's, throwing a snort in the young prince's face. "Don't you have anything nice to say?"

"Not in the faintest," Mikhail lowered his sword and stole look up onto the cliff. "In all the time she spends here you would think she would bother to speak to you."

Eric took a seat onto a log, and laid his sword lazily over his heel. "What makes you so sure she's here for me?"

"What makes you so sure that she's not?" Mikhail countered, his eyes narrowed. The two of them were still considered young by their society's standards, but even Mikhail was beginning to feel the drain of the growing darkness. Each day they seemed to lose one more of their brethren to the darkness. "You are too quick to dismiss such things. Go and talk to her."

"You make it sound like she is my lifemate." Eric snorted at the foolishness. Sure he was gaining years and each day brought him a step closer to darkness, but he felt fine and strong. He did not feel the pressing evil that so many of the others felt. Perhaps he was just special like that.

"Isn't she?" Mikhail asked innocently one eyebrow raised. "I can't imagine why else she would sit up there day after day."

Now it was Eric's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Perhaps she just likes watching me kick your ass."

"Be serious."

Eric twirled his sword and ran at him. "I am."

And that ended that conversation. By the time they lowered their swords, the woman was already gone.

But the next night she was there.

And the next.

And the next.

Mikhail shook his head, and threw a knowing look at Eric every time, but didn't bother to say anything more. He didn't have to. Eric kept looking at her, his eyes wondering just what it was that kept bringing her back. Most of their women couldn't stay long during fights without feeling some fleeting catch of another warrior's pain. But when Eric would slash through Mikhail, he would look up and find her sitting ever calm over them.

The weather turned to snow and yet Eric would insist on dragging Mikhail from his room to train. It would perhaps be the one day they could train without any eyes watching their movements. It was true that their kind could control their body temperature, but most valued staying home than venturing into the cold and having to exhausting themselves to stay warm.

"Warriors don't mind the cold," Eric chided every time. "Be glad I let you stay in longer. If I dragged you out here at our normal time you would be frozen right now."

Mikhail sighed. "Well I do mind the cold. And it's not good for me to be out here."

"Why you'll catch a cold?"

"No, Jacques will throw a fit that I didn't bring him along."

The two of the threw their heads back and laughed. Mikhail's younger brother always seemed to try and trail after his older brother to no avail. Eric wiped his eyes and went to drag his sword only for Mikhail's hand to touch his wrist, stopping him.

"Eric..." Mikhail turned his head up wards and Eric followed his eyes. "Look."

And there she was. In a lighter color gown, and her hair layered in snow almost as if she had been sitting there for some time. But even more than that...she was shivering.

"Eric...I think she beat us out here." Mikhail sighed and shook his head, only to jump as Eric snarled and slammed his sword into the froze bitten ground.

"That woman! What the hell is she thinking!" Eric turned and stormed up the icy path shape shifting as he went, taking the wing of a bird.

"Eric!" Mikhail called in warning, but it was already too late. Eric had disappeared up into the sky. Mikhail sighed and collected their swords. He already had a bad feeling about this.

At least now he could go home and be warm.

"You!" Eric snarled the moment he broke over the edge of the cliff, changing shape at he went. The woman jumped suddenly, sending snow flying off of her.

"I...I...I," She stuttered suddenly, struggling to get to her feet, but she kept falling over. It was then that Eric could make out the frost collecting on her hands, and the blue tinge to her lips.

Snarling, he grabbed her hand sharply, yanking her to him. "Don't you know how dangerous it is out here? It's below zero and you're not even keeping your body heat up! Do you want a death wish! Do yourself a favor and raise it before you get sick."

The girl lowered her eyes, icy tears starting. Her body trembled slowly, and he felt her mind spark to life as she tried to build heat within herself. For a second he felt warmth flood her skin under his touch, but just as soon as he felt it, it was gone. Shame filled her face and she looked away, biting her bottom lip.

"You can't do it, can you?" Eric grumbled, exasperatedly. "You come out here and you sit watching us every day and you can't keep keep yourself safe from the elements? How old are you? You should go home." Eric dropped her hand. "Go on, go home."

"Thirty-two."

Eric stilled. "What?"

"Thirty-two," She repeated firmly, raising her chin enough for him to catch the tears starting to fall from her eyes. Those big dark eyes caught him instantly, and he froze like a deer in headlights. "I am thirty-two years old!"

Eric should have seen it coming but he was so stunned by the way her eyes seemed to be so dark with flecks of light that he never even seen her move until her fist was lodge into his face and he was laying flat on his back staring up into the laughing face of Mikhail. Eric glare and struggled to sit up, swatting away all attempts on Mikhail's part to help him up. Once he sat up he caught sight of the mysterious female fleeing off back towards her home.

"Damn woman," Eric rubbed his jaw and winced. "She hits like a bull."

"She break your jaw?" Mihkail had to fight to stop from laughing.

"Shut it, Prince."

"Aww, poor Eric," Mikhail snorted and dragged his friend to his feet, helping dust some snow off his back. "But you have to admit you deserve it."

Eric stopped and glared. "What? For telling her to stay home where she belongs?"

"Well...No," Mikhail stopped to consider that. "She's still young."

"And that's my problem?" Eric snapped. "She needs to stay home then."

"Still could have been nicer," Mikhail sighed and walked off. "You really can be a jerk sometimes, Eric. Oh what am I saying? You're an ass all the time."

Eric snarled a curse that probably would have gotten him beheaded if Mikhail's father ever heard it. Instead Eric stood there, heat collecting under his collar before glancing back at the direction the girl had gone. A small bit of guilt was there. Perhaps...he had been a little hasty. He wasn't that much older than her, but at least he had control over himself.

Besides, she'd be back.

At least he thought she would be.

She didn't show up the next day.

Or the next.

Or even the next couple of months.

Or even the next couple of centuries.

Mikhail ascended as their leader, Eric took to the ranks of a warrior, and the village slowly decayed away to nothing. Eric never thought of her for years. His emotions died away but that tiny spark of guilt held onto him the longest and was the one of his last emotions to drain away. Day after day he remember the look in her eyes, the pain on her face, and the way those tears fell to the ground. Her face haunted him for years. When he slept he replayed that moment in his mind, when he was awake, he would think of those days when he trained and she watched...yet he never said a word to her.

Whatever happened to her? He assumed she died. Like many of their people, he assumed she had greeted the dawn. It was a thought he had used to calm himself when he slipped into dark thoughts. He used it as means to motivate himself to accept the glory that would one day be the sun for him. If she could do it...then so could he. He held the thought to his heart as he traveled the world. From sea to sea he destroyed evil, he took out vampires of all kinds, but as the weary centuries dug into him, Eric knew he had reached the point of no return.

For one last act of comfort he returned to the valley where he trained with Mikhail all those centuries ago. He climbed the same slope to the top of the cliff and admired the shade of the trees. The moon danced in the sky as he approached, bringing back memories of a gentler time.

"You've returned."

The voice startled him from his stance. Eric's head swung around suddenly as a shadowed figure slowly stepped out from the shade of the trees. The color of the gown was different, her hair was a little more curled and her face sharper with age, but it was she. The shock of her face made his knees tremble.

For the first time in hundreds of years Eric's heart began to tighten as he finally recognized this woman for what she was.

His whole body trembled until he dropped to his knees a broken man. She drifted slowly towards him but said nothing at the warrior as tears glistened in his eyes.

Years ago he was content never having to see her again, but now he couldn't get enough of her. He couldn't...look away.

He felt weak like a child as he reached out for her with trembling fingers. "I..." He couldn't bring the words to his lips. All those years ago he must have humiliated her. He had shunned her without meaning to, and now he understood. Yet, here she was...as if she had been waiting all this time for him to return. "I...I'm..."

Her fingers tightened around his, and she smiled softly. "Eric. It's nice to meet you."

Stunned he stared at her as she leaned down, capturing his chin in the palm of her hand. "I'm Celeste, your lifemate."

With that being said, she captured his lips in hers. Neither of them said anything more.

After all, sometimes introductions aren't needed when the body can do all the talking.