Amour et guerre.
Based on Pearl84's Checkmate. Cause and Effect. Crime and Punishment. Niane said it best when she quoted that everything happens for a reason. But after a dire misunderstanding, and a despairing Vlad gives into rage-will that reason prove tragic, especially after Danny is driven away?
Hallo, everyone! And so, here we have the final Checkmate fiction I promised for bluegoo2 and pearl84! Whew! *Wipes brow.* I still have three more chapters in Epitaph to finish, four or five more for It's A Dog's Life, and....one or two for this one (Not quite certain....I don't like my chapters to be very long....) before completing my word with a one-shot for Pearl's Dawning of a Sun. *Exhales, looks determined.* I'll do better than my best! This first chapter will be a bit confusing, but it's meant to throw you guys a liiiiittle off track. Let's see who can keep up, aye? ^^
By the way, Pearl-san updated again. ^^ Joining Worlds was really very sweet-with a share bit of drama! Oy, vey, I did not see that one coming....
Anyhoo, after Pearl published the segment, 'Rash Emotions,' (VERY fantastic chapter :D) I decided to revise Temper a little bit. Normally, my side-shots are exactly what they are-side-shots. Or, in other words, what COULD have happened behind the scenes. This One-shot is a little different in the regard that I'm actually switching a scene around, with a "What-if...." heading into a much darker note.
*Shudders, smiles.* I hope you all enjoy. Gomen Nasai, bluegoo2, (Sorry, dear...I STILL cannot say your name three times quickly: Bluegoo2, Bluegoo2, Blueoootroo, BumGlumChum.....) for taking so long. And, for pearl84, I wish you the heartiest of congratulations, and may much success head your footsteps.
Doomo arigatou gozaimasu! Thank you very much!
Now, if you'll excuse me, Lauren has had enough of continuously ranting...*Laughs, blushes.* On with the story.
In any case, take care.
"I understand with love comes pain, but why did I have to love so much?"
Pearly drops continued to hurriedly trickle and intermingle down the once-smooth flesh, a few disappearing into the dark, ruby stains on the pale skin.
But most continued their journey past the deep gashes, transfixing into a new hue as they began to spill past the boy's cheek-as if the child had been readily spilling a monologue of pink and scarlet tears from angry blue orbs.
A rag continued to wipe at the excess tears, always continuing to press itself firmly against the motionless child's face, where strands of his midnight spikes were currently half-glued to the side of his face.....
Splish, Splish, Drip, drip, dripdripdripdrip-!
A muffled sound, as water continued to frantically run back into the nearby basin, little rivelets of pink dilating from the small, impure drops of water that began to run past the man's bloody fingertips-but the older hybrid took no notice as he squeezed another rag, and, upon rapidly plunging it back into the ice-cold excess of water he ordered George to bring just four minutes ago, hastily withdrew it, wrung it slightly, and continued to breathlessly dab at the younger's face.
A light, anguished moan reverberated from the room made tiny by the all of the other rooms in comparison-but it fell upon deaf ears, and Danny didn't respond as Vlad gripped his wrist painfully tight.
For a moment, there he knelt there, feeling the regular, soothing census of Danny's pulse beating underneath red fingertips. Then, blue eyes flickered from the boy's still wrist to his own still crimson fingers.
Fighting back a severe wave of nausea washing over him, Vlad saw red overtake his vision for a fraction of a second, then started, and rushed to continue his ministrations, pressing the cloth firmly against the cuts as he resumed to clean the small wounds.
But the sheer horror and self-disgust would not leave. He had to wonder if it ever would, at this point.
Loathing himself intensely, with a hatred that would leave the one he normally reserved for Jack Fenton proud, Vlad at last withdrew the soaked cloths, and, having judging the marks littering Danny's to only be trickling slight remnants of red, reached for the large box beside the basin, but not before pausing, and hesitantly drawing closer to ruffle the unconscious hybrid's hair, and then, later manage a small caress on the nonblemished half of the boy's face.
But the man's breath hitched as he came across his own red hands, and, feeling furious with himself, drew back from the young boy sleeping on the man's drawing room's sofa to begin scrubbing at his own hands in the basin.
Earlier that selfsame evening....
Quite a few years ago-so many predeceasing our current that one can hardly find an exact date, when Vladimir Masters' estate in Wisconsin was little more than a quiet, empty little glade surrounded by an ocean of treetops-the serving maid known as Marsha had been but a little girl, anxiously peering underneath her small bed in the dead of night, heart beating rather more quickly than usual.
Underneath the bed, in the small closet that she owned, in every corner made dark by the progression of the late hour-where once perched friendly and familiar settings in the day, now lurked the unfamiliar and advancing forces drawn on by darkness. Marsha could do little but huddle underneath her covers, with her eyes squeezed tightly shut, and her arms twined around her stuffed bear that her Father had bought in New York just weeks ago for her birthday-just shortly after the Teddy bears were being released by the dozen by a local toymaker.
Marsha had never given much of an inkling of thought to why the darkness seemed so immense. Where light made things small-small, comfortable, and easy to understand-the dark brought confusion, and imminent promisings of complication-of trouble. But she nonetheless asked her Mother about it once-while the woman had been busily kneading a pile of dough in the kitchens.
Her Mother had claimed that Marsha simply had too much of a vivid imagination, and told her never to mind such nonsense when the little girl really ought to have been sleeping at the time, in any case. But Marsha's father, who so often came home weary, simply took the curious child on his knee, and thoughtfully tapped her up and down, eyes drawn to the flickering flames Marsha's mother had so recently left upon the grate.
For a moment, he said nothing, and asked if the little girl had ever heard of such a thing as 'the witching hour.' Of course, Marsha had never heard anything of the sort-and eagerly fired for more as her father quietly began to relight his small pipe.
After a moment or so of thoughtful consideration-for the man was most unlike Marsha's mother in the census that he preferred to ponder over much of his words before speaking (another fact which made loathe to argue with anybody)-he quietly sighed, smiled lightly, and patted the young girl on the head for a moment before quietly beginning to speak once again.
The Witching Hour, he claimed, was the late night calling card for any specter or wraith to parade about the dark side of the Earth while mortals slept, and do as they might please. Contrary to what one might believe or expect, they were quite content to go about their business-and bother nobody, should no one bother them. The world only looked threatening at such a time to hide their misadventures-and wasn't to be inexplicably dreaded, should one be in bed at the time-which was where they SHOULD be residing.
After that, Marsha's Father had given her a playful nudge, and her Mother had gently shooed the small girl off to bed.
The Witching Hour became a rather curious time for the little girl-who, feeling more secure that nothing would come from across the threshold so long as she remained in bed-sometimes pondered late at night what such creatures who were supposedly marching about outside had to do so late at night. Occasionally, she peeked from her window beside her bed, ready to duck at a second's notice-but, in the dim glow of the streetlights, saw nothing.
She had wondered if the beasts-or ghosts, or wills o' the wisps-had anything pleasant to say to one another when they met. Did Witches simply fly about cackling on their brooms-or did they do normal things when adults met, like have tea, or discuss the weather. But that was far too boring for her to imagine, and simply went on imagining far more fantastical things-even if they were rather scary to ponder about.
Maybe they never had any purpose. Spreading terror or discord seemed reason enough for such creatures to meet or go on the prowl. Maybe they were simply happy to meet for a few, short hours, and simply spend what time they did with one another.
But perhaps the Witching Hour wasn't a joyous one at all. Were the creatures mournful or joyous when the sun came out once again, and the pale, thin fingertips of sunshine began their callous stretch over the landscape once again as Earth continued its time-old rotation?
Maybe they were miserable to meet at such a wretched time. After all, hadn't Marsha's Grandfather commented that the Witching Hour was ever the one for fatality? The thought was perhaps the most frightening of all-and the little girl had avoided it at all costs.
Marsha didn't know-and later on, didn't really care. As the young girl grew older-grew into her regular, housekeeping duties-such things as The Witching Hour became little more than a distant memory. The dark, while depressing-was easily ignored as the girl readily fell asleep each and every night.
After all, even after she died of the influenza epidemic-and an ectoplasmic imprint of herself remained on Earth to pursue her obsession that drove it-not too much had changed. Schedule had fallen in its daily residue (Much of it spent arguing with Patricia) at the Masters' Manor, and it wasn't a bad one. On the contrary, while undeniable proof that such matters as 'The Witching Hour' COULD take presence on the world (She herself was now a perfect example) Marsha was no longer a child-and no longer human. She resided with ghosts-and two hybrids-on a common basis!
Besides, the idea of a nightly terror-brought on something worse than a ghost-in something far, far more terrifying-seemed rather ridiculous to the girl, even as she mused upon while she finished her final strokes with the vacuum in the hallway. Out of habit, the girl wiped her brow-and gave a small nod of satisfaction to the East wing's tidiness.
The specter maid glanced interestedly outside the window, where she could see Carl fussily draw the copter back into the opt-garage. Hmmm. The Master must have arrived back at home already.
After again confirming that the hall was immaculate, Marsha began to drift to a closet somewhere on the third floor, humming absentmindedly underneath her breath.
Well, today's duties had been finished, same as usual. She supposed she might as well hang up her apron, and see what everyone was up to in the lounge. No doubt Carl would be speaking of a certain Ms. Brax again….and something about a Rolls Royce…..
Smiling incredulously at the ghostly driver's nerve, Marsha phased through the floor, and, soon enough, found her closet. After fussily tucking the small appliance away, Marsha readied to phase to the ground floor, where the lounge was located-far off on the right sector. No doubt Jasper and George would already be finished, and waiting for the others, same as al-
And a terrified screech of pain echoed from underneath the astonished maid's glowing persona.
Marsha froze in her tracks, and, sufficient to say, if her heart had been beating to this moment prior, it would have stopped quite abruptly.
Her body hitched in an automatic reflex-some habits she had possessed as a human had never really ever gone away-and her mind hastily drew to a blank in the shock.
But, after a second, it had passed, and Marsha abruptly shook her head as a bewildered ghost glided forward, sudden confusion drifting over a now eerie silence penetrating the castle.
A second later-
A muffled THUMP from below, once again. Marsha started again-but was somewhat ready for it this time. Now completely flummoxed-the maid hurriedly drifted down the hall, not at all certain of what to do next.
What had happened? She heard a yell-which sounded remarkably like the young…ward of sorts of the master's voice. The maid began to grow nervous.
Had he hurt himself? Feeling rather concerned, the ghost uncertainly drifted forwards once again-then froze, as yet another sound echoed through the enormous halls of the her master's estate.
Someone was yelling-but it wasn't the younger hybrid this time. With a slow, creeping feeling of approaching apprehension, the clearly panicking voice became rather familiar to the dazed woman.
She had heard that hysteria in that voice only once before. And it was only made worse by the sense of gripping panic beginning to resonate through the young maid.
That was Mr. Masters yelling. Why, she did not know, but she could now very distinctly make out a slight hint of intelligible words from beneath her-
"DANIEL! Daniel, Daniel, please, please-"
It broke off. Marsha's eyes widened, and the now quite frightened ghost froze, raptly listening to the chaos now echoing below, as desperation reverberated from the frantic man's tone:
"-didn't…I thought…Danny, I swear.....didn't mean…Daniel, are you…?....come on, wake-"
Marsha closed her eyes.
Well, that sealed the deal. Anxiously, the maid bit her lip, wringing her hands as she did so.
Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong.
And, without another second's hesitation, the ghost quickly phased beneath the richly carpeted floors, orbs flickering to the darkness nearby window as she did so.
Just as Grandfather Oswald had said.
The Witching Hour had come once again.
Rephasing into tangibility, Marsha nearly bumped into a befuddled Jasper on the next floor, who was looking just as nervous as she was. The silent gardener quickly signed out a short-but easily understood message to the maid still hovering over the threshold.
But, before Marsha could answer, Patricia could be seen hurrying from the next hall, her expression perplexed as she caught sight of her two co-workers-and the other ghostly maid hurried to the two.
"Did any of you just-"
Jasper shrugged helplessly, and Marsha shot Patricia an apathetic glance and a shake of the head.
"I don't know-"
"I believe it was the master and the young hal-"
Suddenly, Marsha was silenced as George slowly drifted from the floorboards below them, his usually jovial expression readily caught in a stony disposition.
Patricia rounded on the Ghost Chef almost immediately, but all the man did was hold up one hand to silence her, eyes downcast.
For a moment, nobody said anything. Bernice drifted in after a few seconds of the silence, but after glancing back and forth between the three bewilderedly, he opened his mouth-only to be nudged, and given a meaningful glance by Jasper.
At last, in the now rather nasty calm, George wearily spoke, drawing a hand to sift onto his now drearily resigned countenance.
".....I can't say I didn't enjoy the calm while it lasted," the chef said sadly, shaking his head regretfully, as the servants' eyes now caught upon his.
"The Master did seem so much happier that way....such a pity."
Patricia started, and blinked for a few moments.
"They aren't....fighting again, George?" she asked quietly, tiredly rubbing her nose with the back of her palm before drawing it over her eyes.
Surely, that couldn't be the case. Patricia's eyes flickered downwards, while Jasper and Bernice shot each other furtive glances.
Jasper quickly signed something to Bernice, who frowned slightly, and shook his head.
"They...seemed to be getting along just fine-as recently as yesterday," he commented, staring at George with a small frown.
"Surely, even they couldn't find a reason to..."
But all the ghost Chef would do was shake his head, looking troubled.
"Perhaps-perhaps not," he murmured absentmindedly, looking lightly squeamish. "It...it could have been an accident..." he added in a side note, sounding lightly hopeful as Patricia and Martha cast each other bewildered looks before chiming in.
"What? What are you talking about?"
"Yes-do stop beating about the bush, George! What on Earth just....?"
But the ghost chef simply shrugged helplessly, and gestured towards the ground once again, looking despondent before replying.
"....I'd....be quite content not looking again, but....should you wish to, you may."
And, without another word, an extremely troubled looking George glided away, his peers staring at his retreating figure in his wake.