Nikola watched the countryside pass by, the golden hills and miles of olive trees that made up Extremadura. The only things going to Guadalupe today was a load of tomatoes, a few stray pilgrims and one vampire, all riding in the back of a truck with a suspect carburetor. Helen definitely knew people in every back of beyond place in the world. He supposed there were worse places to hide from the remnants of the Nazi Ahnenerbe and the US government and the Soviets. Perhaps he could acquire some of that delicious local chestnut liquor and some good sherry and settle in for a bit while figuring out where to run to next.
When he got to the little farmhouse, it was near dust. There were nine chickens and one huge turkey in the chaotic yard, and Nikola wondered if he would have to feed them all. They weren't pigeons, but he supposed he could do a few such menial tasks to keep his benefactor happy. All Helen had told him before a surprisingly tearful goodbye was that his contact was named Penelope. She was red-haired, somewhat unhinged, and usually reliable. Helen said she'd known her for over thirty years, and that the woman always seemed to be in the most unlikely place where Helen needed and ally. Hiding a vampire on the lam from most of the world's superpowers seemed to fit her capabilities to a T.
He did not bother knocking on the crisply painted green door, and it wasn't locked. He swung it open to see a woman with long red braid sitting at a homey little kitchen table, an open bottle of chestnut liquor and two small glasses in front of her.
"Penelope, I presume? I am…"
The voice was unmistakable, and when she turned and smiled, Nikola was love struck once again. "Penelope? Am I supposed to be your Odysseus?" He clucked his tongue and strode closer as the woman rose to her feet. "I had hoped you would miss me, Helen. But it's only been four days. I'm touched that you would go to such lengths to see me. I do quite like the red hair, it suits your temperament."
She laughed, a spark in her eyes that he hadn't seen before. She looked so very different than she had four days ago, as though years had passed.
"My Odysseus is a series of catastrophic events, Nikola, not a man. And I have not seen you for forty eight years, Nikola." He opened his mouth to speak but she held her finger over his lips. "I did miss you, quite a lot. And I have a rather important question for you. What exactly are your plans for the next sixty years?"
She cocked her head to the side, and he swallowed thickly. He was very confused, and he hated being confused. But he loved Helen, and he would play her game. "Well, I had two main goals I had thought to accomplish by the end of the millennium. World domination and winning the heart of one Helen Magnus."
She grinned wide instead of her typical chastisement. He could not let it rest. "Why are you smiling, Helen?"
"I've heard it all before. Well, I have to say that I will not try and stop you from the one, and I will keep you far too busy to think about the other."
He turned that over in his mind before smirking at her. "Then, might I ask for a kiss to seal the bargain, sweet Helen? If you are going to work me that hard, it doesn't seem too much to ask for a taste of heaven, now does it?"
Hong Kong 1957
She listened to the birdsong surrounding her as she started into her cup of chrysanthemum tea. She mulled over what precisely to say, and how this would alter all her plans. From the first test she'd run to the doctor's confirmation a half-hour ago, she'd been going over each and every memory, each and every place she knew she had to be, wondering how she could manage it all. When Nikola slid into the unoccupied seat across from her, resplendent in a deep grey silk shirt with a Mandarin collar, she wanted to laugh at how much he loved Hong Kong. She'd hate to have to leave their lab here, but soon she would need more space. And she wanted to travel to Louisiana, to see Nigel one more time before he died.
"Hello, my love. Tell me, did the doctor tell you what you already knew?" he smiled, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. He'd helped her for ten years almost without question, working tirelessly on a plan for which he had only her word was not insanity. But now uncertainly plagued those grey blue eyes.
"What do you think the doctor confirmed for me, Nikola?"
"That I'm going to be a father." There was a flare of something in his face, but it was too quick for her to read, even if she was his lover now, and known him for over two hundred years.
She sipped her tea. "You will be, in about seven months."
"You aren't happy about it, Helen." He let only the merest edge of despair into his voice.
"Actually, I thought it was impossible. I'm still stunned. And I'm scared." She captured one of his fidgeting hands between her own. "I had a daughter, some thirty years from now – damn this is confusing." She took a deep breath. "She died, and I did not think I could go on. I'm not sure I have any right to bring another child into this world."
"So save her. You can this time."
"It's not that easy, Nikola! I can't change the time stream or I risk the lives of billions! You know how careful…"
"Hush! You do not have to play the martyr all the time, Helen. Tell me of this daughter. Let me help you. We'll have time enough while we find someplace safe for you to gestate and to bring our son into the world. We'll simply shock your daughter with the presence of her much older sibling when the time is right."
Helen laughed. "A boy? Wishful thinking?"
Nikola shrugged. "Some kind of vampire instinct I previously had no concept of. I've known you were pregnant for weeks Helen. I just needed you to catch up and decide when you would acknowledge the fact. And how you would feel about it."
Helen let the tears spill over. "I'm so happy, Nikola. How can I be so happy?"
It was Daniel Trent who took the train home to Wales from Oxford, deciding that he would forgo working in the lab over the term break to pay a visit to his parents. It was Daniel Tesla who unlocked the front door of the cottage that served to cover the extensive laboratory network underground just outside Cardiff and set about applying the proper passcodes to get into the bunker.
After climbing down two sets of ladders and three staircases, he was intent on finding his very tired mother. He walked into the main living quarters as silently as he could. He found his mother lying on the sofa, fast asleep, Daniel's baby sister Patricia lying on her chest, her eyes open and just preparing to yell at being so neglected.
Daniel dropped his bags and knelt on the floor, letting his fangs grow and his eyes turn black. Patricia smiled and cooed. She always loved when her big brother did that.
Three years without her. Three years in which he'd have to flirt with her, be near her, be mortal for her! Three years he'd have to keep abandoning her over and over again, and play the fool he'd once been. Three years in which the past sixty would mean nothing.
He waited in the catacombs below Rome, those infernal creatures growling at him, waiting for the moment to send Helen her note. Trying to feel her lips in that last kiss she'd given him before returning to their cottage in Scotland, knowing that the kiss he was about to give her would pale in comparison to that heat. Then, in three years time, he could find her again. They would walk together into her Sanctuary, and save the world. Again.
James listened to Helen's call, a routine report on Old City and a couple of personal comments on their various teams and commentary on the news. It should have been routine. But not even Helen could fool James Watson. This wasn't Helen. This was a Helen who'd lived a different life, a much longer one. This was a Helen who'd given birth to more children than just Ashley. And the makeup on her neck couldn't completely hide the healing love bite.
If this Helen had asked for a single piece of confidential information, he would have thrown every alarm and called down hell and damnation upon her. But she didn't. She looked at him with hungry eyes. Sad eyes. She was saying goodbye.
It was then he knew that his machine was truly failing, and he did not have long to live. When death came, he would greet it with dignity.
"You shouldn't have done it, Nikola! I told you it was impossible without too many potential ramifications. It's too dangerous." Helen stood with her arms cross, Daniel and Patty rolling their eyes and waiting for their father to get on with the plan.
Nikola snarled at his wife. "And I don't care, woman. I told you I'd save Ashley, and that was before I actually knew the chit. I like the girl, and I love her mother, and I'm damn well going to do everything I can to save her life and your sanity."
He clicked a button and tossed the tiny black box on to the floor. "Get ready with the sedatives, Patricia. Whatever they did to her, you've got a year to undo it."
With the crackle of red fire and electricity, a black eyed Ashley Magnus materialized in the center of the room. She hissed and bared her claws, and unknowingly gave her siblings quite the welcome to remember.
Old City 2010
Ashley teleported back with her shaking father, the electricity still singing through him, the energy elemental gaining far too much strength. But they needed him, in what was to come. Ashley nodded at her mother, her brother, her sister, and finally her stepfather. The six of them walked into a Sanctuary in chaos, to try to prevent Armageddon. Ashley thought that three armies and a bunch of idiot military hotheads could never stop her mother. They wouldn't even slow her down.
Add in the rest of her family, and chaos didn't stand a chance.