Okay, quick intro.
This is my favorite chapter. Lots of evilness! One big scene though, so be prepared, it's quite long and no gaps.
I own nothing.
Review if you can!
Jovian arrived back at the club late the following night. He was numb with exhaustion, his mind tormented by thoughts of Adelle; He had thought that part of him was under control, dared to dream he had beaten the monster inside, it had been so long since it had opened its hungry jaws and howled with the Need.
He'd gagged her to stop the screams, he'd removed her eye so she would stop looking at him. Now, whenever his mind fell back, it was into a delirious dream, watching himself from above, and all he could think was Look father, are you proud how like you I am? It disgusted him; because he was giving Hal exactly what he wanted; he was becoming his protégé again, and a part of him yearned for it. He held his chest, at the heart that didn't beat and breathed hard.
Jovian was tired, where was everyone? He sighed as he let himself in through the private door to his office. No one, not even Christine, she hadn't said she was going out, she always told him. He listened, he couldn't hear her heart. After twenty years, he knew it anywhere… where was it? He walked through a small door that led to the main club via a spiral staircase. Maybe she was with the others in the Royal Box. Everything would be like before; that was one of his rules with his family; the day were reality, the nights were for ignoring it. He smiled, they were bound to have got her drunk by now, Carl would make sure all of them would behave. He trusted them all to treat her with respect, even Mitchell. That thought brought him up sharp, had he come to regard Herrick's 'spy' as a friend?
Jovian blinked. That feeling of unease was back. His private apartment and study were soundproofed, but the more he went down the stairs, the more he was aware that the normal bubble to noise was absent. Very absent.
He slowed as he came to the door to the main floor, it should be deafening now. But there was nothing; no music, no voices, no stamping of dancing feet, no heart beats, nothing. His hand gave an involuntary tremor as it turned the handle. Something inside him said he shouldn't do this. Why wasn't he?
Silence. Jovian opened the door to darkness. Someone had left the stage lights on, the only illumination in the room. The curtain was down as if the performers were waiting silently behind. Jovian stepped out; something was ready to start.
He walked slowly towards the protruding stage, where the chairs and tables normally stood. Just off to the left of the stage, in semi-darkness of the corner between the main and the protruding stage stood a solitary round cocktail table with a dark red covering and two seats. One was taken.
Jovian didn't gasp, he didn't stop moving forward, but his head had gone cold. The occupant didn't move, the shadows cast by the stage light too harsh for him to see the face. But he was sure.
Jovian closed his eyes. That voice. The deep, smooth and calm notes he had both longed for and feared for so long to say his name. He couldn't breath; he was a child again, the small scared child that had first walked into that room to find a monster waiting behind the door. Three hundred years and they were all forgotten.
He waited, his eyes closed.
Hal waited, sitting quite still on his chair, one leg crossed over the other, waiting.
'Nothing to say?' Hal projected to the empty auditorium. 'Is that really the way to greet such and old dear friend?' He tutted through his teeth, his voice dropping dangerously low, 'After all I've done for you?'
That made him look up. 'All you've done for me.' he whispered, he repeated it again, like he was rolling them around in his mouth to see how they tasted. His body went cold he rushed forward, 'All you've done for me!' his voice broke.
Hal's face tilted up so the light caught it, his long lashes shielding his eyes. Jovian still remembered the feel of them that night on his cheek as the teeth dug in. Jovian gritted his teeth, he wasn't going to think about that, he had to focus and not to let the rage take over; that's what he wanted. 'Three hundred years.' He whispered.
'I'm sorry?' said Hal loudly, he raised his hand to his ear as if he couldn't hear. 'Did you say something?'
'Three hundred years.' Jovian said stepping forward. He knew it's what Hal wanted, that he was doing exactly what had been planned, but he had to. 'For three hundred years you've done nothing for me, nothing I've wanted, nothing I've needed. Never.'
There was silence. Hal didn't move. Jovian waited, if he had a heart beat he knew it would be racing. He'd never spoken to Hal this way.
'Well, hasn't someone grown up.' Came the smooth reply. Hal flicked a golden lighter open. Jovian inhaled as Hal's face became fully illuminated. Jovian almost gasped at the familiar eyebrows over his deep dark eyes framed by the thick lashes, straight nose and full thick half smiling lips.
Hal slowly lit a cigarette he'd been holding and sucked in, then he propped himself forward and lit a solitary candle in the middle of the table. Hal exhaled, looked at Jovian with level, impassive eyes and kicked out the other chair in invitation. Jovian flinched at the sudden screeching echo it made across the floor. Hal leaned back again and nodded to the chair. 'I think you just earned a seat at this table.'
Jovian gripped the back of the chair and slowly lowered himself down, turning his body away from the table between them. It's a dream, he said to himself. That's why he's here, so close to me, it has to be, I can wake up whenever I want. Please.
'Nothing more to say Jovi?' Asked Hal lightly as he stubbed out the cigarette into the ash tray. 'I hope this new display of courage isn't over, I've been waiting so long for it to appear after all.'
Jovian smiled sadly, 'You haven't changed.' He murmured. He looked at the floor, he couldn't look at Hal straight in the face. Not yet, not with it so close.
'Neither have you,' Said Hal. 'More's the pity.' He reached into his waistcoat pocket and drew out a matching gold cigarette case. He flipped it open with practiced hands and offered it to Jovian.
Jovian looked down and took one. Hal smiled, clicked the box closed and produced the lighter again, flicking it open to Jovian.
Jovian smiled. 'Ever the gentleman.' he said with irony.
'Manners, unlike most in this world, Jovian,' replied Hal, 'Cost nothing.'
'And we know how high your price normally is.' Exhaled Jovian. It was all so comfortingly familiar; this was just another of Henry Yorke's 'meetings'; he would demand, threaten then leave, it was always best to just let it happen. His eyes went to his maker's, how could he hate and fear someone so much, and yet moments like this; so near to the man that he had avoided for years, he felt like he was coming home? 'Aren't you going to ask me how I am Harry?' said Jovian pointedly. 'It has been thirty years after all.'
Hal chuckled. 'Feeling bold aren't we Jovi?' He flicked his cold eyes up. 'I think we both know the redundancy of such a question.'
'Yes we do.' He agreed. 'And you?'
'Much the same as always.' Replied Hal carefully, his eyes on his twirling cigarette.
'That's not what I've heard. I've heard you've reached new heights.' Hal smiled, slightly impressed.
'And depths.' He added, yes he'd heard about them too. 'Do you remember what happened the last time you soared too high,' Yes; he did feel bold; he wasn't going to let Henry Yorke have complete control this time. 'You had second thoughts.'
Hal's jaw muscles flexed, the cigarette had stopped circling. 'Careful Jovian.' He said in a low voice.
Jovian paused. He knew how close he was, he wasn't strong enough to go further, not yet. He cleared his throat and changed the subject. 'Isn't all this,' Jovian indicated the spotlight on the table and the empty music hall, 'A little over-dramatic? Even for you?'
Hal looked around him. 'Says the man who lives in a theatre.' He took another slow drag; 'Anyway, like all things, there is a purpose.'
'And the purpose of this is?'
Hal said nothing, a small knowing smile playing on his lips as he started again to rotate his cigarette.
Jovian couldn't bare it. 'What do you want Harry?'
'You know what I want.'
Jovian shivered. He had heard Hal say those words so many times before. 'Everything.' He whispered. He was losing his nerve, the rage and hurt he'd felt earlier had melted away to fear and dread. His maker was less than three foot away from him, after decades at arms length. He couldn't take it. 'You know I can't.'
'Clearly.' Hal responded coolly. 'I've given you a chance. I've given you thirty years' worth of chance. I am not normally that generous.' He stubbed out his cigarette.
'I can't.' Jovian repeated, crushing out his own. 'You know better than anyone that I can't, you've felt the same, you've-'
'Enough Jovian!' Hal slammed his hand on the table, the candle rocked. Jovian froze, eyes dropping to the table like a slapped puppy. 'I will not tolerate your behavior any more.'
Jovian gulped in air, he was here, and the moment was now. In his head he'd been preparing what to say for thirty years. Slowly he raised his head up, his eyes remaining on the table. He placed his hands flat on the table, and brought his eyes up finally to meet his maker; his 'father': Now was the time.
'I. Won't.' He said. Slowly and firmly. 'I followed you Harry, when you changed. You took me with you and you showed me the value of life, the wonder and duty of protecting humanity from everything evil, from us. I never went as far as you did, but once you had taken me there, I couldn't turn my back on it all. I couldn't pretend none of it had happened, I couldn't forget!' He breathed, he couldn't believe Hal was letting him talk like this. 'Please Harry,' he said, it was his turn to lean forward. 'Let me be, order me to go and I will leave, I don't care about London, just let me go.' He shook his head. 'I will disappear, you will never hear of me again. But please Harry, I can't go back.'
Hal looked at him. A small smile creeping onto his face. 'Finally grown up haven't you Jovian?' He said. 'Decided this is how history will remember you?'
Jovian threw himself back in exasperation and anger, 'I don't care about history Harry, I never did. I only wanted to please you, but now all I care about is for history to forget me.'
'Wonderful.' Hal said raising both his hands and clapped them together. 'Well said Jovian.' Clap. 'I must say you have become braver,' clap. 'Then I ever thought you could,' Clap. 'Then I ever thought possible.' Clap. 'Well done.' Clap.
The last clap reverberated round the room. Jovian looked at Hal. He was waiting for the lion to pounce. 'And all by yourself.' Hal said.
Jovian looked at him. 'I haven't been all by myself,' he leaned forward a few inches more – it was all he dared. He suddenly lost the will to fight anymore, he wanted to reach out. 'And you don't have to be Harry, please.' He whispered.
'The strength gained through comrades.' Hal mused, not breaking eye contact, his voice soft and lilting. 'I remember how it could make one feel invincible. Make one believe you could face an army of spears and swords and lances and survive.' He smirked. 'Let me tell you Jovian: It is a lie, a lie told to give comfort and bravery to the weak and gullible. We are all alone in the end.' He mirrored Jovian, leaning forward himself, hands spreading out in front of him. 'I think it's time you learnt that lesson.' An icy hand clenched Jovian's stomach. 'I wonder what you would be without your comrades.'
'What would you do without your little donor human.' He lifted his hand 'For example.' and clicked his fingers.
From somewhere someone pulled the huge theatre curtain up, revealing a brightly lit stage. Jovian gasped.
There was Christine, nailed to a ten foot high crucifix. Her eyes open and glassy. Her dress and been ripped and neck punctured, blood had oozed out down her beautiful lace dress. Jovian closed his eyes to stop any tears that threatened to come.
'I have to say Jovi,' said Hal as he effortlessly manoeuvred his chair around next to Jovian. 'I'm all for keeping a vintage, but twenty years of the same sub-par stuff,' He tutted. 'Reminded me of out of date vinegar.'
No. Jovian lunged at him, his fingers claws. But Hal was older, and he was faster. He stood, swiveled away, punching Jovian's face and brought his elbow down hard onto his back before grabbing his neck and pushing him hard down onto the table, kicking Jovian's chair away from under him so his knees slammed onto the unforgiving floor.
Jovian collapsed, his cheek crushed, his ribs cracked. Hal came close to his ear. 'Don't be like that Jovian, my boy.' He growled. 'The lesson has only just started.' Jovian struggled, Hal's grip tightened.
From behind him he felt two sets of large, rough hands grab is arms and yank him back. Hal stepped away as his two guards held Jovian in place, his feet sliding on the floor. 'You remember Dennis and Louis don't you?' He said airily, re-adjusting his suit.
Jovian struggled into a standing position but pain shot through his chest and arms; the rough grips had dislocated one of his shoulders. 'Yes it always helps to have a good team around you I find.' Hal continued. 'People you can trust. Wouldn't you agree?'
He shouted the last part, turning his head back to the stage.
Jovian followed his gaze letting out an involuntary whimper of despair. First to appear was Snow, all dressed up in her show outfit, followed Francois. Jovian stared, Francois was half dragging Adelle still bloodied, gagged and bound. Dried blood from her face and missing eye caking her face, uneven tufts of shorn blonde hair framing her like a jagged halo.
'What?' He stammered. His eyes wild. 'What have you done to them?' he asked. He looked between Snow and Francois, he avoided Adelle's eye.
'I've done nothing to them,' laughed Hal. 'Although I have to say I liked your artistic flair on that one.' He pointed to Adelle. 'Very impressive.'
Jovian looked back confused, Hal continued. 'And I have to thank you for leaving mine so utterly unmarked.'
Jovian looked at Snow and Francois, who had remained perfectly in place. 'What?' He whispered. He had to have threatened them, got to them somehow.
Hal walked over to the stage and held up his hand. Like a happy pet Snow obediently trotted over, bent down and took Hal's raised hand, crouching down to kiss him on the lips. When she straightened she looked at Jovian and raised an eyebrow in defiance. 'They've been doing exactly what I asked them to do.'
Jovian shook his head frantically. No, he knew these two. He knew them. He'd known Francois for decades, Snow since she was made.
'I think you're going to have to explain your trick Daddy.' Said Snow with a fake pout, excitement dancing in her eyes. 'Brother Jovi's all confused.'
Hal looked back at Jovian. 'Francois, I picked up at my bar in Paris. Silent partner only of course, but I got to name a cocktail or two. Francois became quite a fan of one – the Bloody Mary.'
'But why?' Jovian said to the french man. 'We were friends Francois. I gave you a home here.'
'Try and really think about it Jovian. Didn't it ever strike you as odd?' Hal chastised. 'A Vampire made before the Revolution, born aristocracy who sees the social rules of laws created by their betters disregarded and flouted by the populous. Anarchy. Did you really think someone like that would support you, a radical?'
Jovian looked back at Francois and for the first time saw behind that mask to the boiling disdain behind.
He looked at Snow next. 'But, but you're my sister.' He said. He was pleading.
Snow sniffed. 'And he is our father, he recruited us. I would die for him as you should.' Her eyes sparkling. 'He asked us to give him everything and I did willingly.'
'But he abandoned you! He took me and left you behind.'
'He found me again!' she shouted back. 'He asked for my forgiveness and I gave it. I would do whatever he wanted. As any loyal child must. I am his true protégé. I am no traitor.' She declared.
Hal chuckled. 'Now that's what every father wants to hear.' He turned to Jovian. 'Maybe that's why you were so willing to accept betrayal in your own offspring. But, poor Jovian, I'm afraid she was ever loyal to you, right until the end.'
Snow produced a wooden stake from behind her skirts and rammed it through Adelle's chest. Adelle let out a muffled scream, eye bright in surprise. She let out a sob, searching for Jovian and tried to speak, but she was already breaking apart.
'No!' Jovian shouted. A yelp of pain escaping as he struggled again, he wanted to get to her, even though all that remained was dust. He looked from where Adelle had been to Snow and Francois then finally Hal. 'I'll kill you!' he raged. 'I'll strip your skin from your bones, you coward!'
Hal stepped forward and backhanded Jovian's face then grabbed it and turned it up towards him. 'I am trying to help you Jovian.' He said slowly. 'You need to have all supports removed in order to be able to walk again.'
Jovian spat a mouthful of blood at his maker's face. He heard Snow gasp but he didn't care. 'Fuck you, Harry.' He said.
Hal smiled in mock sadness. 'If I'd thought it would help, I just might've let you.'
'I wasn't lying Harry,' Jovian growled, inching his face forward in Hal's tight grip, 'You will fall, like you always do, and your soul will crush you, and your life will be an endless torrent of fear, and self loathing with your days filled with nightmares of now that will haunt you to oblivion and drive you into Hell. And you deserve it all!'
Hal froze, so did the room. No one knew what to do, all eyes were on Hal. This was too far, this was unforgivable, all were filled with horror, including Jovian. 'I believe you may be right Jovian.' He said softly, his face serious and honest. 'But until then, I will make sure I earn that place.'
There was a click and a snap behind them at the back of the dancehall. Hal, Snow and Francois all looked, Jovian's head was still held in place by Hal so he couldn't see. He heard footsteps approaching at a fast march towards them. He saw Snow's face light up as she skipped forward and hopped off the stage.
'Ah, Mitchell,' Said Hal dropping Jovian's chin with a smile. 'How perfectly timed. How was Carl?'
Jovian looked at the slender Irishman, his clothes were disheveled, as was his hair, there were traces of ash on his trousers. Jovian's last ember of fight died in his chest. He shook his head. 'No, no, please no.' he said. Mitchell flicked his eyes towards him then back to Hal. He held out his hand. Dropping two small white shards into Hal's outstretched palm.
Hal looked down at them, 'Thank you. A surprisingly nice touch too may I say.' He looked up. 'And I'm not often surprised, Mitchell.' He paused, weighing the pieces in his hand. Then he nodded. 'You can go.'
He jiggled the objects around and then turned back to Jovian. The two men dropped him to the floor where he sagged, all fight and fury gone, he was alone.
Mitchell took one last look at Jovian before turning and leaving. Jovian wasn't paying attention; he was lost in his own head repeating 'No, no, please Harry, please no.' Over and over again as his maker crouched down, picked up Jovian's hand and placed the shards inside them.
Jovian knew what they were. He shook his head, tears streaming down his face. He hung his head, his fingers limp. He took a long ragged breath and opened his hands: Two long sharp canine teeth glistened up at him. He couldn't control himself any more, he let a soul shattering wail rise up through his body and rock the room. He let his howls reach higher and higher until they blocked everything out in him and he became the sound and nothing more.
After what felt like an age, he felt the rough hands around his arms again lift him from the floor. His eyes were too bleary to see properly, but he could recognise Hal's features anywhere. 'Please,' he mumbled in between the sobs. 'End me. I have nothing left Harry. Please'
There was silence. He felt a soft comforting hand stroke the side of his face and a calm, silky voice speaking lightly into his ear. 'But Jovian, you said I never give you what you want.' Jovian took in a breath and tried to clear his eyes, he wanted to see his maker's face, he didn't understand, surely the only end could be his now. 'Still a father must be benevolent to his children. I will grant you one of your wishes.'
'W-what?' he stuttered through his tears.
'You wanted to disappear didn't you?' Hal smiled cruelly. 'Although I'm not going to let history forget you.' He straightened and nodded to the boys.
'W-hat are you going to do?' Jovian said, 'What are you going to do to me?' He was becoming hysterical. 'Harry, w-hat? Where are you taking me?' The two burly men grabbed Jovian's arms again and started dragging him backwards towards the main door. 'No! Harry, please don't! No! Harry! Where am I going? Harry!'
The door shut behind them. The shouts died as they left the building.
Snow moved cautiously towards Hal and rested her hand on his shoulder. 'What are you going to do with him.' She whispered, her excitement had died, she was scared now.
Hal smiled. 'I think I may have a look into expanding my businesses. All these bomb sites that needs redeveloping, they're going to need strong foundations.'
One more chapter to go, and then an apendix then it's all over. The next one is written, but first draft only so may be a few days.
Right, only one thing to comment on, and I hope it makes you chuckle:
Ahh, yes the 'Bloody Mary'. Happy coincidence really. But it was first made in the 1920s at a bar in Paris called Harry's New York Bar. It made me very excited to discover this and I had to add it!