Eric watched as Pam paced, her heels clicking rhythmically on the floor as she moved to and fro. Her arms were crossed over her chest as she stalked back and forth and her jaw was clenched, giving her the appearance of a woman pissed off with the world. Appearance was often deceiving with Pam however, and though Eric could no longer feel her emotions, he had known Pam long enough to know that how she looked on the surface was misleading.

If one were to simply glance at Pam as she marched back and forth, they could easily mistake the tense set of her back, her clenched jaw and her crossed arms as indications of irritation or anger. But if one looked more closely, which Eric always did when it came to his progeny, they would have noticed that Pam was blinking more rapidly than normal. They would noticed that occasionally she stopped walking and her fingers curled around her biceps, squeezing, as if she was afraid she would crumble if she didn't literally hold herself together. She kept her face angled away from the other occupants of the room most of the time, but when she turned to look towards the front door, which she had been doing more and more frequently, if one looked, they would have noticed that the bottoms of her eyes were lined red, edged with bloody tears that she was just managing to suppress.

On the surface, Pam looked angry and hostile, but to Eric Pam was made of glass. He could see through her outer walls and he knew that she was worried – more than worried in fact – he knew that Pam was scared.

Tilting his head slightly to the side, Eric followed Pam's progress with his cool blue eyes and considered approaching her again. He had tried to go to her before, more than a few times actually, but she was as angry with him as she was worried for Tara, and she had rebuffed all of his attempts. Yet, he still gave serious thought to making another attempt. As a man, he understood that the only thing that would calm Pam was Tara's safe return – which was now more than an hour overdue – however, as a maker it was his instinct to try and ease Pam's pain.

Eric sat unnaturally still for a few more moments, watching Pam pace, and then he stood and decisively walked towards her.

He knew it would be useless but it was not within him to remain seated across the room doing nothing while Pam suffered. He would try again. He could do nothing less.

Especially since Pam's current state of worry was partially his fault.

He had, after all, been the one to propose that Tara attend the Sangunista rally in Ruston. Ideally, as the eldest vampires, he or Nora would have been the ones to take on the assignment, but the rally was for newborns. The baby vamp attendees wouldn't have been able to pick himself or Nora out of the crowd as elder vampires without a demonstration of their speed and strength, but the vampires running the rally would certainly be experienced vampires and as such they would have had no trouble spotting centuries old vampires like he and Nora among the babies.

Jessica was young enough that they could have sent her to the rally – and at two years old she theoretically would have had a slight advantage over the newborns the rally was targeted at – but Tara was a more skilled fighter and her training gave her an edge that more than compensated for the very slight advantage in strength and speed that Jessica's age gave her. Tara was also shrewder and more intimidating than Jessica, not to mention generally more suspicious and naturally observant than the redhead. Tara expected people to be lying, cheating, sons of bitches and so she was constantly on guard for suspicious and/or asshole-ish behavior from others. It could make her somewhat cantankerous in daily life, but her natural suspicion and her willingness to make snap (and fairly accurate) judgements about how big of a douche someone was within minutes of meeting them, would aid her immeasurably while undercover at the rally.

It wasn't an ideal situation, but they needed someone that they could trust at that rally and Tara and Jessica were the only viable options. That being the case, Tara was the logical – and more enthusiastic – choice to attend the rally. His reasoning was sound, and Tara volunteered halfway through his proposal, but Pam was not happy with the situation and she had made her displeasure known with varying intensity for the past few days.

Reaching is progeny, Eric placed his hand on Pam's shoulder and she immediately she stopped walking and instinctively leaned into his touch, automatically seeking out comfort from him as she had for over a century. However, before he could wrap his arms around her and embrace her, reason overtook reflex, and Pam's eyes fluttered open and her expression hardened before she pulled violently away from Eric and began to pace again.

"You would have felt it if something had happened to her," Eric said, deciding to try words since physical contact was obviously not going to work with Pam in the mood she was in.

"The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence," Pam snapped, turning to glare at him for a moment before she lost even the will to do that and returned to prowling restlessly back and forth. "She's too far away," Pam muttered, speaking to Eric though she refused to look at him. "Fuckin' Ruston," she breathed out viciously. "Who the fuck has a rally in fuckin' Ruston? Bill is so fuckin' lame!" she ranted, though close as he was, Eric could see that there were tears building in her eyes. "I didn't think that I could hate that moronic shit-stain any more than I already did and then the flaming asshole goes and does some dumbass shit like this!" Pam exclaimed, practically spitting with anger.

Almost as quickly as her rage built, it deflated however. Seconds after she finished speaking her shoulders slumped and her head dipped down despondently as misery replaced her rage.

"She could be in trouble," Pam said softly, her southern drawl all but disappearing as it often did when her emotions overwhelmed her and she had no energy for affectation. "She could be scared," Pam breathed out, the heartache in her voice slicing through Eric painfully as a silver scalpel. "At this distance I can't tell shit. "

"She is capable, and though young, she is strong," Eric began, closing the distance between himself and Pam again.

"She's a month old!" Pam snapped incredulously, shooting Eric an irritable look though it wasn't nearly as intimidating as she intended because of the tear in the corner of her eye. "There were cameras all over the fuckin' Authority when you short bus cowboys busted in," Pam said, moving again, restless and anxious. "What if she was recognized? What chance do you think she'd stand, alone, against a squad of those Authority fucks with no element of surprise?"

"Nora disabled the security camera's …" Eric began, but Pam was having none of it.

"After you all had been in the facility for god knows how long. And what about the cameras outside the building, or the guard who let you in, the traffic cameras, or …?"

Eric sighed. Pam's keen mind was something that he had always admired about her. Her sharp intellect and her ability to quickly assess situations and make logical assumptions based on limited data had saved both of them from tough situations in the past. However, her cleverness often proved problematic when it came to trying to reassure her, because she was often able to very easily rip holes in whatever paper thin defences he managed to come up with.

"She took precautions to disguise hersel…" Eric tried, knowing it was useless even as he began to speak.

"Bangs and a hoody is not a fuckin' disguise, Eric!" Pam exclaimed and Eric sighed again.

"Pam …" Eric started, resting his large hand on her arm.

"No. Do not fuckin' coddle me!" Pam declared irritably before stalking away from him. "You sent her out there with no back up and no way to monitor her. You don't know she's alright. You don't know anything. You can'tbecause she's alone. So don't fuckin' 'Pam' me. Don't tell me everything's gonna be alright," she exclaimed before she took up pacing at the other end of the room.

Eric took a step towards her, but before he could move any closer he felt a hand on his back and turned his head to see Nora standing beside him.

"Leave her be," Nora said gently, rubbing his back soothingly as he looked towards Pam. "Words won't help her," Nora continued, and Eric lowered his head helplessly because he knew it was true.

"She is my child," Eric murmured.

"And Tara is hers. You can't stop her from worrying any more than you can stop fretting over her now. Leave her be, brother," Nora continued, "When Tara returns she'll calm down. Until then, nothing will soothe her. You know this to be true."

Eric's jaw clenched for a moment as he gazed at Pam, but then he gave a resigned nod and allowed Nora to take his hand and lead him back over to the couch.

xxx

It was near dawn, almost three hours past Tara's expected return time, when the door to the safe house finally opened. The sky was still dark, but the pull of sleep that dawn brought had begun to creep upon the residents of the safe house, and their heads were slow to rise and turn towards the door.

As the eldest vampire in the house, Eric was the most resistant to the lure of dawn, and so he was the first to spot Tara as she entered the room where they had been waiting for her. However, before he could say a word, there was a blur of movement to his left and then Pam was standing before Tara, drawing the dark-skinned vampire into a tight embrace.

Tara's eyes closed as Pam's arms wrapped around her and she contently nuzzled her face into Pam's neck, breathing in her maker's scent as feelings of relief and love flooded into her through their bond, filling her with warmth from head to toe.

She was bone tired, dirty, pissed and was emotionally drained from being various degrees of terrified for the past few hours, but all of that melted away now that she was with Pam again. With Pam surrounding her, warming her inside and out, everything was Pam and Pam was everything.

As they embraced, Tara felt something cool and wet touch her skin, and reluctantly she drew back from Pam to discover the source of the moisture. She lifted her hand to touch the damp patch on her cheek, but before she could determine what it was her gaze fell upon Pam's face and Tara drew in a deep, startled breath as she saw thin trails of blood streaming down from Pam's eyes.

"Pam," she gasped. She had felt Pam's relief as they hugged, but she hadn't realized just how worried about her Pam had been until she saw her tears.

"You're late," Pam said shortly, irritably, as Tara gazed at her with concern, but as the surly words came out of her mouth, a fresh drop of blood fell from the corner of Pam's eye and Tara couldn't have been offended by her lover's tone even if she had wanted to be.

"I know," Tara breathed out, reaching up to cup Pam's cheek. "I'm sorry," she said as stroked her thumb across Pam's pale cheek, wiping at the streaks of blood that were marring her maker's beautiful face.

Pam's eyes fluttered shut at the feel of Tara's fingers on her skin, and instinctively she dipped her head down, turning it slightly into Tara's hand, seeking more contact as a soft sigh fell from her lips.

"You should have called," Pam murmured, her voice now gentle, as she opened her eyes and focused them on Tara intently.

"I would've if I could've," Tara replied, holding Pam's gaze as she spoke, wanting Pam to see the truth of her words even though she knew Pam would also be able to feel her sincerity through their bond. "There was a bit of a stampede," Tara continued, reaching into her jacket pocket with the hand that wasn't slowly running down the length of Pam's arm, to pull out an iPhone that had been cracked so viciously it was nearly in two pieces. "Payphones are rarer than a virgin after Prom night," Tara continued, pleased to see Pam's lips curve up slightly at the comment. "I thought it better to just get back. I wanted to just get back," she breathed out, brushing her fingers over the back of Pam's hand before she laced their fingers together. "Did I do wrong?" she asked, looking up at Pam.

"No," Pam breathed out, leaning forehead to rest her forehead against Tara's, before her eyes closed in an attempt to try and calm the storm of emotions that were still swirling inside of her.

Even if Tara had called, Pam knew that she wouldn't have been able to truly relax let alone sleep until Tara was with her again. Hearing Tara's voice wouldn't have been enough. Pam had needed to see her, had needed to feel her, and hold her in her arms. Those were the only things that would have truly soothed her.

"Just …" Pam continued a moment later, the words 'Don't ever make me worry like that again' on the tip of her tongue. "Be more careful with your shit. Those things don't grow on fuckin' trees," was what came out of Pam's mouth however, and Tara's eyes immediately narrowed at her.

"For fucks sake, Pam," Tara exclaimed, frustrated and incredulous as her dark eyes flashed, warning that she definitely had more to say.

However, before Tara could say another word, Pam was in motion and before she knew it, Tara found herself being kissed.

Pam's fingers squeezed Tara's as her lips brushed against her progeny's, holding onto Tara tightly with her left hand as her right hand gently cupped Tara's face, cradling it reverently as she lost herself in the taste of Tara's mouth.

The kiss they shared started slow and sweet, with an almost aching tenderness, but the feelings that flowed from Pam into Tara were hot and pulsing. There was a desperation and a rawness to Pam's feelings as the words Pam couldn't yet force past her lips were made clear as crystal through their blood bond, and the ferocity of her love made Tara gasp into her mouth and clutch at Pam's hip, her nails digging into the pink fabric of Pam's shirt in her desperation to draw Pam closer to her.

Pam moaned and her gentle hold on Tara's face, firmed, holding Tara in position as Pam deepened the kiss.

Eric rested his elbow on the arm of the couch and propped his chin on his fist, watching as Pam's hand slipped beneath the bottom of Tara's hoody, revealing a length of dark skin as Pam's fingers stroked the flawless flesh, moving higher and higher as they continued to kiss, the exchanges between them now deep and forceful as their relief gave way to ever increasing passion.

He was not often one for sentiment, but he couldn't help finding them beautiful together. The sight of them stirred his ancient heart, and other parts of him, and he hoped that when Pam got over her possessive phase that he would be able to join them as they came together and experience that beauty firsthand.

But presently, dawn was upon them and it was time to sleep.

"Pam," Eric called out.

Pam and Tara continued to kiss, the world all but forgotten to them as their mouths came together and Pam's hand rose higher, revealing more of Tara's toned torso.

"Pamela," Eric repeated; his voice louder and more firm as he roused himself and lifted his head off of his hand. "Enough."

The use of her full name and the command in his tone reached Pam this time, and reluctantly she drew her hand from beneath Tara's hoody and pulled back from Tara's lips before she turned to face Eric.

"It is time to sleep," Eric said when Pam's eyes met his. "Sleep," he emphasized warningly when Pam's eyes cut away from him towards Tara, her eyes hungry and covetous as they fell upon her progeny.

Young as she was, Tara would not be able to resist the pull of dawn for much longer which made trying to debrief her pointless at the moment, but when night fell he wanted Tara's mind clear and rested so that she could share what she had learned at the rally.

"Of course," Pam breathed out, knowing that Eric was right even though her body ached for Tara's touch.

She was old enough that she could have fought the pull of dawn long enough to make love to Tara at least once, but now that her lips were no longer on Tara's, igniting and feeding her young lovers passion, Pam could feel Tara's exhaustion through their bond. Tara's desire for her was clear to Pam, but while there was a will, Pam knew there would be no way. Tara was too young to fight the Sleep and Pam knew that even though Tara didn't want to, her progeny would soon succumb and fall into the Sleep.

Eric watched Pam carefully for a moment, for his progeny could be wily as she was willful. After watching her for a few seconds however, Eric was satisfied that Pam meant it and he turned his attention from Pam to Jessica who had lost her battle against the Sleep and lay unmoving in living room armchair.

Eric stared at her contemplatively for a second and then moved over to Jessica and unceremoniously flung her over his shoulder.

"Didn't that constitute a marriage proposal in your day?" Nora asked teasingly, watching as Eric settled Jessica over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

"Not marriage," Eric said eyeing his sister, "though it definitely led to a union," he continued, smiling wickedly at Nora before he reached out and flung her over his other shoulder. "As it will today," he added grinning.

Pam would have to mind herself with her young lover, but after he tossed Jessica into her room, he and Nora could fight the effects of the Sleep for some time and he meant to spend that time fucking.

"I thought it was time to sleep," Pam said peevishly as Eric started towards the hallway that led to the bedrooms, his tone and smile making it quite clear that he and Nora would not be sleeping for some time.

"It's not my fault you're fucking a toddler," Eric replied, which made Nora giggle and Pam glare at him balefully. "Speaking of which, you might want to …" Eric continued, nodding his head in Tara's direction, forcing Pam to stop glaring at him in order to steady Tara who was beginning to sway on her feet.

"May your dreams be active … since your bed won't be," Eric continued, grinning at Pam before he turned and started down the hallway that led to the bedrooms.

"Jag hatar dig!" I hate you, Pam yelled after him, huffing irritably when the sound of his laughter floated back to her.

Turning her attention back to Tara, Pam's expression immediately softened when she saw that crimson trails blood were now leaking from Tara's ears.

Pam put Eric and his taunts out of her mind and scooped Tara into her arms.

It was time to put her progeny to bed.

xxx

"I can do it," Tara murmured weakly, her words slurring together sleepily as Pam knelt at the foot of the bed and began to unlace the Converse sneakers on Tara's feet.

"Be quiet," Pam said, not bothering to look up.

Tara couldn't even hold her head up at that point and Pam was not going to entertain her lover's foolishness.

"You be quiet," Tara muttered indignantly, though it came out sounding more like 'Ew-e-wyatt.'

"You sound like a drunk," Pam declared grumpily, though a smile tugged at the corners of her lips as she pulled off Tara's left shoe and then her right.

"I…drunk on you…if… get up here…" Tara managed to reply though Pam was only able to make out a fraction of what she was saying.

"You can't even make sentences. You're ridiculous," Pam commented as she went to work on Tara's pants, determined to remove Tara's outer layer of clothes before getting her under the covers.

"Fuck you," Tara breathed out.

She'd nearly fallen asleep but her desire not to let Pam have the last word had stirred her enough to reply.

"Promises, promises," Pam murmured as she slipped onto the mattress behind Tara and propped Tara's mostly inert body up against her so that she could tug the hoody Tara was wearing over her head.

"Deliver, deliver," Tara murmured, managing to turn enough to kiss Pam's neck and weakly grope at her breast for a second before exhaustion overcame her again and all she could do was lean heavily against Pam.

"That would be a lot more convincing if you had even rudimentary control of your limbs," Pam said softly, smiling gently as she tenderly brushed some dark strands of hair out of Tara's face.

"Sunset ... me n' you," Tara managed to breathe out; her eyes now closed though through sheer force of will she managed to stay awake long enough to speak.

"I look forward to it," Pam drawled, sounding gently amused she maneuvered Tara and herself under the covers.

By the time she got them situated and drew the comforter up around them, Tara was fast asleep. With Tara now resting comfortably, Pam propped herself up on her arm and for a minute she simply gazed down at Tara, drinking in the sight of her lovely progeny looking so peaceful and relaxed. Beautiful, Pam thought worshipfully, reaching out to run her fingers tenderly down Tara's cheek before she dipped her head to place a gentle kiss on Tara's lips.

Enthralled by Tara, as she so often was, Pam watched her progeny for a while longer, but when a drop of blood fell from her nose and landed on the back of her hand, Pam knew that she could not put off sleep any longer and she settled herself behind Tara and wrapped her arms around her waist, drawing her lover against her front so that she was spooning Tara from behind.

Holding Tara tightly, Pam raggedly whispered, "Don't ever make me worry like that again," as she blinked back the tears building in her eyes, finally speaking the words that had been on the tip of her tongue earlier that morning now that Tara was safely asleep in her arms.

Pam pressed her lips to the smooth skin of Tara's bare shoulder and then she tightened her arms around Tara, embracing her needfully, and only then, when she could feel Tara against the length of her, did Pam finally allow her eyes to close and give into the pull of Sleep.

The End