Bromley Mansion, First floor, Bedroom

She slapped him. Probably the most feminine and needless reaction she could have thought of but in that moment, it seemed the most appropriate. The handcuffs became a bit of a plus then because the metal slammed into his cheek with the contact. His lips lost hers but when their eyes met again, he still looked victorious.

She was livid now. She didn't even know how she kept herself restrained after this day. It took a lot not to jump him again and beat him up.

"What the fuck is this about?" she screamed at his face and was rewarded with a rough hand cutting off her stream of obscenities. She kept them coming anyway until he yanked on her shoulder as well to gain her attention. It hurt and she inhaled with the pain, which caused a momentary lapse in yells. He used that to his advantage.

"Get yourself under control and listen!" he ordered in a much more restrained tone than her, "We're in the same situation here. No, listen," he added as she squirmed under his grip, "Both of us are here for different reasons, but the point is that we can use the same method to get where we want"

She bit into his palm and practically hurled the next words at him, "What is wrong with you? One moment you're with me, then you're playing my Dad's toy soldier and now you're kissing me and talking about some common goal. If anyone here is out of control, it's you! What the fuck is wrong with you?"

"Alison. Shut up before I have to force you," he was annoyed now and she didn't care in the least. Enough was enough. This was just the rotten cherry on top of this insane day.

"Close the door," she demanded and was impressed with the hard tone she could strike in the middle of their argument. He looked ready to object but the silence of the vacuum cleaner being off and the knowledge of the houseguest they had, lead him to comply and nudge the door shut.

He leaned against it so they stood on opposite ends of the room and crossed his arms expectantly. "You're ready to listen?"

"No. You listen. I'm done here. You people are all lunatics"

"Look who's talking," he scoffed but she ranted on without taking note of him.

"You can't just do this to me. One minute you're putting on the nice act, the next you're acting like you're above everything here and then you turn into a complete stranger when my father sets foot in here. I didn't want to talk about this but honestly; I'm done with it. So give me one, real, straight answer. What was the point of having sex in the first place?"

He seemed to have expected something of the sort. Obviously he'd seen the pressure mounting and mounting in her over the hours and knew that it was only a matter of time until the question broke out of her. He remained still but his stare grew wary. Almost like he didn't want to hear the answer coming out of his mouth.

"There was no point," he said slowly, "I hadn't planned to"

"You call that a good lie?" she whispered ferociously, advancing on him again, "Don't give me that. No, let me guess. It was actually my father's plan all along. To get you to seduce me into thinking this situation was all perks and fun for me. Is that it? He hired you to fuck me into agreeing?"

"No," he snarled and she stopped. She wanted to hear him deny it only to laugh at the lies. That was all they were. All they could be. His eyes were wild and almost earnest as he approached her again.

"No. It didn't have anything to do with that. I'm a good soldier, all right? I do my best. I follow orders, I don't screw up and I keep the ones in charge happy. So when your father asked me, personally, to watch over you I thought I'd made it. I was finally on top of something and getting the praise I'd never gotten as a human. The order was to supervise you, to stop you from doing anything to yourself and I've done that. It was never about anything else."

"Then why? Damn it, why did you?" she asked, almost a whisper.

"Because," he froze and the realization of weakness tainted his words, "I wanted you"

They both took a beat, processing that statement. Frankie lowered his head to the floor and she watched, stunned, as he tried to control his breathing. This argument was taking a lot more out of them than expected. He'd just confessed to something both of them had not anticipated.

She sat on her bed, slowly, feeling the mattress dent under her weight and the weight of his words settling on her shoulders. She couldn't even bring herself to raise her voice anymore. "I don't believe you. I'm know that I'm nothing to you."

His scoff was bitter. "That's because you convince yourself that everything I tell you is a lie"

"No, it's because it doesn't make sense. If you actually wanted me, for whatever reason, then why did you refuse to talk to me? You did everything to make me feel worthless! It was like you did it because you wanted to humiliate me, break me all over again. How was I meant to not misunderstand?"

"Don't you get it?" he was frustrated again, "I went against the rules. I betrayed your father's trust because I lost control of myself. I'd failed in my job by doing the most stupid, reckless thing possible and today you just proved me right. I should never have trusted you enough to let you go free"

"My attempt to run had nothing to do with you. I would have done it even if you'd cuffed me as soon as my father walked in. This isn't about you cutting me loose"

"Now it is. Now I was ordered to use whatever means necessary to get your acceptance. You could have behaved and at least pretended to comply with the situation. You made this about me with your idiotic stunt just now. This means that if I fail, I'll lose what I worked for and you will probably be handed over to some psychologist who uses methods none of us want to think about. The boss didn't come for a surprise visit. He gave me an ultimatum until the end of the week and we're only going to make it if you stop fighting and listen to me"

"I don't understand. You're saying that unless you achieve a change in my views on being dead, I'll be handed over to another person who will try to convince me and you'll fall out of my father's good graces. That's the big problem?"

He looked at her then, really looked at her and she thought she saw pity in his calculated gaze that held so much energy, passion but so little deep emotion. She almost understood his predicament but she didn't want to be the good girl here. That would undermine everything she'd sworn to herself she stood for. Her rebellion was a reminder of all those that had let their lives for her father's wealth. Frankie couldn't see that, even if she wanted him to. He'd long since accepted his identity.

"The longer you fight it, the longer you'll be in this place. You can be furious and in denial all you want but if you can't convince your father that you deserve freedom, he won't give it to you. You've been turned long enough now. Give it up"

She shook her head. "I can't"

"You just don't want to. Your head is getting in the way," He came to stand in front of her but she refused to be swayed, "You need to let go"

"Stop trying to make me. It won't work. I'm here to fight this. My father stole from me. Do you even remember what it felt like to feel your humanity slipping away?" she fastened her hand in his jacket, trying to engrave her words in his head so he understood and gave it a rest, "I look outside and all I see are people who live for nothing but themselves. They live for blood. I can feel that happening to me. I can feel emotions bottling themselves up somewhere inside me and I can't show them as much anymore because my mind shuts them out. I don't want to be that person. She's the one my father wants. I hate her. So I'll fight until he lets me go or has me killed"

He didn't say anything. He just seemed disappointed. No wonder. Trying and pushing and trying again without results were bound to lead to resignation. He was out of options. Violence wouldn't work. Talking wouldn't work. Pleasure hadn't convinced her either.

It was her state of mind that he was trying to change and he'd known from the beginning that he was not the one for the task. He'd told Bromley so and here he was, seeing the futility of his job. Alison was the most resilient person he had ever met and what more; she had no fear of death. It was a trait he almost envied.

"You won't win, you know that," he eventually stated. She managed a small smile.

"I will. Either way, my father won't get what he wants. That's all I need," she explained. She noticed how her hand had bunched the fabric where his name was stitched into his uniform and unclenched it, running her finger over the letters. "Like I said, it has nothing to do with you. It's my father's fault for putting you here. Anybody else wouldn't be able to change me either."

"You don't want a future. You'll die just to prove a point."

He said it matter-of-factly even though he meant it as a question. He couldn't grasp the notion that she didn't want to live, in whatever body, mind or state of life. Vampirism had it limitations, just like humanity. Both had flaws but that didn't mean it wasn't a life worth living.

She shrugged, like this wasn't a big deal and she'd made her resolution a long time ago. "I wanted a future. But not like this"

He growled in the back of his throat. It could be so simple but she always complicated the situation. It was as though she purposely tried to rile up those around her. Nobody could understand her mentality and she didn't seem to expect that. She wanted to be left to her own devices and he couldn't allow that. Bromley had given him orders.

"Then fight for it. Stop fighting your father and yourself. It's a losing battle. Unless you change you wont be able to create yourself a future"

"Just like you did when you turned?" she asked, as though to assess him, "Was that to build yourself a future? Or were you just scared of staying human and being on the losing side?"

"My choices have nothing to do with yours," he objected but she was having none of it. He was going to give her answers today.

"Don't give me that. You're supposed to convince me here. So, was it worth it?"

He moved away to lean against her desk, examining the wooden surface as he contemplated her question. It took him a while before he looked over his shoulder, back at her, and told her with firm conviction, "Yes"

She believed him. He was satisfied with where he was at, right here, right now. She could only begin to guess what his human life must have been like for him to accept becoming a monster so easily. That didn't do anything for her outlook though. She knew with complete assurance that this was not the life she wanted.

She was about to retort something when a tentative knock sounded on the bedroom door. Frankie abandoned his position at the table to open it and she immediately trashed the thought of trying to continue the conversation. The moment was gone. She could feel the formality in the air as he addressed the housekeeper who'd come to announce she was leaving and that she'd placed the blood into the fridge. She didn't bother listening for more details.

Instead she went over to the window and rested her head against the glass. It was soothing and she wanted to dissolve and merge into it, become invisible, smooth and silent. Trapped inside, nobody would bother her and she could vanish from constant scrutiny.

When her door was closed she didn't need to look to know she was alone. Frankie had said all that needed to be said and obviously hoped to have her reflect on his advice. The hell she would. Her father could wait all eternity but she would never conform. The arrogance of his visit had reaffirmed her knowledge that he was a self-centred bastard only looking for his own benefit. She was his test subject to see how persuasive he could be.

She wondered how long it would take for him to finally acknowledge his failure.

Finally, they were alone in the house. Frankie settled into the armchair of the freshly vacuumed living room and let out a slow, long breath. He was not in a good mood. Really, his entire day had just been turned upside down by the arrival of Bromley. The man had thrown him completely off guard and he was ticked off at the fact that he hadn't been given a warning. This was a mission after all and if the man wanted to check in on his daughter, he should have been informed.

That wasn't the real reason of course. He'd just been frantic about being caught. Nobody but himself was to blame for the complications that had arisen. He'd slept with the boss' daughter, not to forget brutally harming her, and that put him at fault and made him wary of repercussions for his behaviour. He'd prayed that the fading bruises on himself and Alison's severe ones would be brushed off as her struggling against him or attempting another suicide. Either way, Bromley would know he was not doing his work well, despite his positive words. The injuries reflected badly on him, whatever angle he tried to look at it from.

And now this. He closed his eyes as he recalled the man's words.

"I'm aware that she is being problematic. I've underestimated her will. I believed the change would suffice to make her see but it appears she must be introduced to more convincing methods. I want you to use everything at your disposal to have her attitude improve. Anything at all"

Frankie had almost reeled back at being granted such liberties. He was also confused and behind the unmoving mask he feared that Bromley meant exactly what he was implying. He wasn't sure he was hearing right. The straight-laced father telling him to persuade his child by whatever ways he wanted?

"Sir?"

"You know what I mean, Dalton," Bromley's eyes were stony but his tone had the soldier know that he meant the opposite of pain infliction, "A little bit of bonding has the potential to do the trick. I don't believe that should pose a problem?"

"No Sir," he'd replied with a neutral stance despite his mind feverishly trying to grasp that this conversation was absolutely out of place.

"Good," he'd been back to business as though this demand had never been mentioned and after straitening his suit added, "Send me a message if there are positive results within the week. Otherwise I see myself forced to send in a different kind of professional. Are we clear?"

"Absolutely"

He leaned over with his elbows on his knees and pressed the balls of his hands against his eyes. His head was whirring and he didn't know where to start anymore. It was one thing for Bromley to allow him to use any methods whatsoever but another to decide how to approach his daughter after everything that had happened recently. The conversation just now had not made things simpler, it had rather confirmed that he was already in deep and losing control over the situation.

He'd already made the largest mistake by confessing about fostering some kind of affection for her. It would be wishful thinking to believe that she had overlooked that slip-up. He'd allowed himself to be on familiar, almost friendly terms with her and this was the result. Experiencing feelings like this had not been on his agenda when he'd signed up and he felt conflicted between wanting to live them and repressing them for the sake of his sanity.

There was just a whole lot on his plate at the moment and he didn't know what to take the first bite out of. He'd been holed up in this house for too long. He wasn't used to this. He needed to be out in the action. He much preferred the adrenalin of the hunt and contributing by ridding the streets of subsiders. He just wasn't cut out for this.

He could hear her moving upstairs, right above his head, just pacing the floor back and forth, probably beating herself up over similar stupidities. Again, he was struck by how similar they were, despite their differing views and goals. It was strange how this constant observing of her had led to building in interest not only in her actions but also in her past, her relationship to her father and her as a person.

He supposed it must have been inevitable but he pondered this change anyway, trying to pinpoint when he'd begun empathizing with her on some level. Even though it didn't even matter. The problem didn't lie in that he had taken a liking to her but that he had no clue what to do about it. There were just too many strings attached to the situation. On top of it being unrealistic and against his nature to have feelings for her, it would be impossible to act on them anyway.

He was so deep in contemplation that he almost missed the vibration of his phone against his thigh. It took him a moment to register that it meant there was an incoming call that asked for his attention. Immediately, he extracted it and stared at the screen, half-wishing it was Edward's number shown there. It wasn't. He clenched his jaw but accepted the call nonetheless, repositioning his poker face and monotone voice.

"Chief"

"Good to hear from you, Dalton. Everything under control?"

Frankie wanted to laugh at the irony of this. What a question. Of course he had everything under control in that sense. He just didn't feel very much in command of himself anymore.

"Yes Sir"

"You'll be interested in this. Edward Dalton has been apprehended," The tone was uncharacteristically smug and unconsciously, Frankie ground his teeth together. He stood and began to pace the room just as the person above his head. The tension inside him was reaching its snapping point. Although he surely should be relieved, he was well aware that the man had no finished yet. He swallowed, working on keeping his stoic demeanour intact.

"Glad to hear that, Sir"

"Your suspicion about that woman proved correct. She was captured along with Mr. Dalton and another human. They seem to have formed an alliance. I recommend you get down here. The situation has changed"

The only time that his job frustrated him was when information was purposely withheld from him. Or when he was forced to remain in a sticky situation where he was helpless to be of use either way. This was one of them. His ran a hand through his hair, gripping the back of neck as to not smash the nearest piece of furniture. There had been enough damage today.

"I'm currently indispensable, Sir. Abandoning my post would require Mr. Bromley's permission. This is a personal mission."

"Understood. Well, report back once you are relieved. We will deal with him"

The line went dead before Frankie could throw in another word. He was nearly shaking with repressed anger. Frustration and despair were meshing into one and he sank onto the sofa, head in his hands. He didn't know what to do.

They were going to kill Edward. He'd gone behind their backs and helped the humans. One of the few existing laws in their world and he'd broken it. There was no way around it. This wasn't what Frankie had turned him for. Not for treachery. He'd wanted to save the only family he had left.

He knew it would cost him a lot but he was done sitting around waiting. It was killing him. Dropping his phone back into his pocket, he marched upstairs, threw the bedroom door open and entered. Alison had just looked up from her book when he ripped it from her hands and pulled her cuffs towards him.

Completely off guard and uncomprehending, she witnessed in silence as he unlocked the bindings. Before she could react or open her mouth to ask what the hell was happening, he'd refastened the right link around her arm and the other to the post of her headboard.

"What are…hey, what do you…" he didn't leave her the time to pose questions he didn't have the patience to answer right now and instead leaned over her, forcing her back into her pillows. She didn't resist out of caution that he was having another one of his violent phases. His face was impassive but his gaze so excruciatingly close to her face told a different story.

"Stay. It's important"

Then he left her in the midst of a rumpled heap of covers and an empty house without looking back.