Chapter 1

1991 - 10 years later

Lightning flashed, and rain tapped at the window, like skeletal fingers. In the darkened room, a lone figure stirred uneasily in the bed. Thunder rumbled directly overhead, making the cottage shake slightly the occupant of the bed, muttered in his sleep, his eyes moving rapidly, as he dreamed.

Lightning flashed again, brightening the room for an instant. The wind howled mournfully around the eaves, and rattled the windows. Another thunderclap followed by another flash, brought the occupant awake, sitting up with jolt, a cry of fear induced from his dream, frozen on his lips. The flash of lightning, for just a moment revealing the silhouette of a caped figure, standing in a corner of the room.

"Leave me alone," he said, sleepily, before lying back down, and finding sleep once more. When the lightning flashed again, the room was empty, save for the sleeping form, resting for now, undisturbed.

/

Sebastian eyed the youth before him with a critical eye. What he saw made him frown.

"Did you sleep well, last night, Matthew?" he asked, turning his attention to his notes. In reality, he was watching his charge over the top of his glasses. His sharp, grey eyes, watchful.

"As well as any other," replied Matthew, digging into his breakfast, unconcerned. "Apart from the storm, that is."

"You were out early," said the Watcher, conversationally.

"Yeah, went for a run, before breakfast. I know what a stickler you are, for exercise," the last was said, with a hint of boredom.

"And you know why it's important." began Sebastian, finally lowering his notes, and giving up all pretence of being interested in them. This had been becoming a regular occurrence over the last six months.

"Yeah, I know, and I still hate it. I didn't ask to be a Slayer!" he said, resentfully. "Just like I didn't ask for a lot of things, but they happened."

"Matthew…"

"Look I don't want to talk about this. I'm meeting Ben, and Megan, in a few minutes. I'll get around to my training in my time," he said, rising to his feet. He was tall, just short of six feet, and well muscled through his training with Sebastian. Though he was almost nineteen, he looked younger.

"Anyway, what's the point of being a Slayer in this pit? With a resident vampire, you'd think there'd be more, but there isn't."

"Matthew, your fath-"

Matthew whirled on him, his dark eyes, blazing. "He in not my father, Sebastian!" he said vehemently, grabbing his jacket.

"Wait a minute!" said Sebastian rising to his feet, and following after him.

Matthew sighed, making a show of being delayed. "What?" he asked moodily.

"You're due for a blood test."

The Slayer turned, his dark eyes brooding. Sebastian could almost feel the hypnotic pull of those eyes…with difficulty he broke the contact. Matthew's dhampir powers had begun to grow.

"Again?" asked Matthew, not sounding so sure of himself. "I hated them when I was a kid and I hate them now. I can't see the point of them."

"I promised your mother," said Sebastian, truthfully. "That I would continue to monitor you."

"What for, Sebastian? Just what are you hoping to find?"

"I'm hoping to find nothing," he said, again truthfully.

"Well whatever it is, you haven't found it yet, so give up!" he said angrily, and turning headed out the door.

Sighing, Sebastian watched him go. "You're as stubborn as your father," he muttered to himself.

/

"You're not welcome here! Get out!"

"This is a public place! I have as much right to be here, as the rest of you!" said Matthew, heatedly, standing toe to toe with his adversary.

"You're not like the rest of us!"

"And what's that supposed to mean?" bristled Matthew. "All I want to do is use the phone!"

"It's out of order."

"Convenient, I don't think!" he spat.

"Matt, what's going on?" asked a voice he recognised. He turned towards the sound, and jerking his thumb over his shoulder, said, "This jerk won't let me use the phone." He turned to face the man, " he reckons it's out of order."

Megan reached out to him, tugging him gently by the arm. "You can use the phone at my house, Matt," she said. "Come on, before there's any more trouble," she said worriedly.

He turned to her again, was about to protest, but changed his mind. Instead he nodded, and with a glare at the offender, said, "This isn't the end of this."

"What did you want to use the phone at the Coffee shop for, anyway? Did the storm knock out the line at the cottage?" Megan wanted to know as they walked towards her house.

"There's nothing wrong with the phone at the cottage," Matt explained. "I just wanted some place without Sebastian hovering over me. Where's Ben, anyway?" he wanted to know.

"He'll be along later, he asked me to come meet you, and it's a good thing I did."

He laughed unpleasantly. "Why? Don't you think I could handle that idiot?"

Megan looked up at him seriously. "That's just it, Matt, I know you can handle them, that's what I was worried about."

He glanced at her, his gaze softening. "You don't have to worry about me," he said gently. "I can look after myself."

They reached the house, and Matt suddenly felt unsure.

"I don't want to get you into trouble, with your parents," he said, to her unasked question.

She laughed a pleasant sound that thrilled him. "My parents are out, and Ben's meeting us here, anyway."

He still hesitated. Megan tugged at his arm, urging him towards the house. " Your just making a phone call."

"Want a coke?" she called from the kitchen, as he made his way into the drawing room.

"Thanks," he called back over his shoulder, as he looked around nervously.

This was the first time he'd been in this house. He knew that if he were discovered there, Megan would get into a lot of trouble, from her parents. He and Ben Marshall had been best friends, since they were children. Had even gone to school together.

When the trouble had started ten years before, Ben had been one of the few people to stand by him.

Although he had been an innocent victim of the events - he'd barely been nine - that had led to his father, being discovered as a vampire, and the consequence of his mother's murder at his father's hands, some people had erroneously tarred him with the same brush. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, as the old saying went.

"Here," she said, breaking into his thoughts, and handing him a can.

"Thanks," he said taking it from her.

She sat down on the sofa, and looked up at him over the rim of her can.

"So, what's the big mystery about this call, that you don't want Sebastian to know about?"

He took a sip of his drink, before sitting down beside her. "There's no mystery, really. I just don't think Sebastian would understand, or approve."

"I can't see that happening…what reason would he have?"

"I'm trying to find my mother's folks, and so far I haven't had much luck. Sebastian's ok, but he's so hung up on the training, and …" he left the sentence unfinished, and looked down at the carpet.

Megan reached out and grabbed his hand, squeezing it gently, making him look up at her. She smiled reassuringly. "It's ok, I understand, Matt."

He swallowed, unable to trust himself to speak. He stared at her a moment longer than he should, before pulling his hand away, and rising to his feet. "I'd better go, " he said awkwardly.

Before Megan could object, the sound of the door opening made them both look at each other guiltily.

"Megan?" called a male voice. "Megan are you here?"

"It's my father!" she whispered, her face pale.

Matt gulped audibly, as the drawing room doors opened.