"Veritas?" Ian's voice was like a rope hauling her back to reality. She blinked away the tears that had risen in her eyes before looking up, briefly meeting Ian's confused gaze before looking away. And as her eyes fell on Xander who had recovered from the blow, and stood a few meters away, the numbness inside of her was replaced by cold and deadly rage.
"You will die," there was so much hatred in her voice that she even surprised herself. But she didn't care. All that mattered to her now was this man standing in front of her, and he needed to die for what he had done.
"Veritas, don't," Mencheres warned, guessing what she was about to do. "You need him alive. Let the council sentence him. Without him, we will have no more proof."
Her hand trembled as it held the knife to Xander's chest. All she needed to do was to push it in and he would be nothing more than a crumbling piece of dirt on the floor. How she wanted that. It was the least she could to avenge Stella's death.
But Mencheres was right. She backed away, reining all of her overflowing emotions back to lock them away behind the walls she quickly rebuilt around her heart.
"You will be brought to the law guardians," she said in a flat voice. "Then you will be sentenced to death for your part in selling vampires to the ghouls."
Xander didn't look happy about that, and it was then it hit her. He had wanted to be killed right away, to get off easy. That's why he had killed Stella, to provoke Veritas into action. The thought angered her so much she could barely keep herself from screaming out loud. The coward had known the game was over, and sought death to get out of facing the law.
Veritas shook her head in disgust, giving the vampire one last look before turning to leave.
"Didn't you forget something?" Bones called out.
She stopped. "Not now," she said flatly. "He can wait." And he could. She knew she would have to finish the job, but right now she couldn't even stand being in the same room as Xander.
She felt Mencheres use his power to secure the vampire, but she continued walking, not stopping until the autumn rain hit her face. The door slammed shut as she let it go, walking further into the night.
"That turned out good," Bones shook his head in disbelief.
"I have never seen Veritas so upset. The girl, Stella, must have meant something to her." Mencheres said.
"If had known maybe I would have been able to act faster and save her from being killed. But I did not think Veritas would have any interest in seeing her alive."
"Don't blame yourself Grandsire."
"Bloody hell," Ian exclaimed, "Didn't any of you see the look on her face when she spotted that shape shifter? Wouldn't you have guessed that she bloody meant anything to her then?"
Bones and Mencheres looked at him in surprise.
"If it would have been Denise, I'm sure you would have done anything in your powers to keep her safe for Charles sake," he snapped. "But apparently that doesn't apply to Veritas."
Bones eyebrows shot up. "Have you lost your bloody mind?"
"Let's not start a fight," Mencheres said in his usual calm voice. "We have caught the vampire and he will be answering to the law guardians. The vampire race are once more safe. It is time to go home."
"What about him?" Bones gestured for the still immobile vampire.
"I will take him, it is the least I can do for failing to save Veritas' friend."
Ian didn't need to look for long until he found her. But when he came nearer, he hesitated before walking all the way up to her. What was he supposed to say? He had never been good at being… well, nice. He didn't know where to start. It was so clear that she was hurting, and it made him uncomfortable.
"I can feel you standing there. Either get over here or go away," she said, still no hint of emotion in her voice.
Ian's lips twitched in a small smile as he crossed the lawn coming to a halt next to Veritas. He didn't speak, just stood there looking out at river below. They stood like that for a long time, the rain soaking their clothes but none of them seemed to notice or care.
"She was my sister," Veritas finally said.
Ian couldn't hide the surprise on his face as he turned to look at her. "Sister?" he repeated with a frown. "But she… I don't understand."
"She disappeared one day a very long time ago. I was looking for her but eventually had to give up. I assumed she was dead. Then I learned about Xander and what he did, and I started to investigate. I still didn't know he had Stella. After so many centuries I had no hope of ever seeing her again, I was just hoping to stop another breach of the law. And then the rest you already know," she explained.
"She's a shape shifter," Ian stated the obvious. "Branded by a demon?"
"Yes, I didn't know that either until lately. That is why I couldn't involve the rest of the guardians. They wouldn't have let her live, knowing what was in her blood and what vampires would do to get to it."
And not to mention that she had also been involved in Xander's affairs, she added in silence. Even though forced into it, she would still have been considered guilty.
"Bloody hell, Veritas… if I had known this…" his voice trailed off. What if he had known? Would he have been able to do anything that Mencheres or Bones hadn't? Probably not.
"And I thought Denise was rare," he muttered.
Ian realized his mistake, and tried to smooth it over. "No one special."
Her eyes narrowed. "How did you know about demon brands and shape shifters?" she asked suspiciously. "Ian you can only have this knowledge if you have had personal experience with that. You know it is illegal to…"
"So do you poppet, and you are a law guardian. So don't criticize me."
She sighed, knowing he was right. "Fine, I'll let it go, this time."
"That's my girl," Ian grinned, wrapping an arm around her shoulders pulling her closer to him. "I'm sorry about what happened to your sister."
Veritas sighed. "Thank you." She let her head lean against Ian's shoulder, for the moment not bothering to hide behind that icy façade as she usually did. Held back tears sprung to her eyes, rolling down her cheeks in silent drops of pink.
Ian could feel the sadness radiating off of her, even though he didn't see the tears. And as he stood there once again clueless of what to do, he felt oddest twinge of pain stab through his heart. It surprised him so much he almost gasped.
"Veritas," he whispered her name like a sigh.
"Ian," she whispered just as low. "I'm glad you came with me today."
"I'm glad to," he murmured, finally moving to enfold her in his arms. She let him hold her, shifting so her face was pressed against his chest, her arms circling around him.