Archive for the Black Dagger Brotherhood Category

THE SURROGATE, A Black Dagger Brotherhood Fan Fiction

Posted in Black Dagger Brotherhood, fan fiction, fiction, writing with tags , , on December 24, 2017 by kimmy

the surrogate


Prologue: 1993 Manhattan

For months, Vishous has been cruising a young human woman at the Columbia University library while he does some routine research. He hates digging in the stacks, but until all computer sciences “go online” (of which he is completely convinced will happen soon unless Steve “the Evil One” Jobs derails it), that is his only choice, a chore made more pleasant with her company.

She’s a cute little redhead, bookish with horn-rimmed spectacles and baggy clothes, but he enjoys the outline of her figure beneath them and she’s plenty smart: She’s researching ancient languages, judging from her piles of books and papers . It’s clear from the read he has on her that she’s interested, yet she does nothing. He tries to chat her up, but she shuts him down and her dismissal is like catnip.

As he probes her mind, it seems she considers him a thug or spy and he’s intrigued. What could be so important about history and dead languages? Who would want to steal this dusty old shit? When he’s finally able to converse with her, he’s pleased that she’s even brighter than expected, and even more determined to keep him at arm’s length. This, of course, only serves to whet his appetite and he enjoys their verbal skirmishes so much that he doesn’t bother scrubbing her.

One evening while he readies to leave the library, he catches a faint whiff of rancid baby powder, and follows it to the Dean’s office, where he watches a brief meeting between a human man and a lesser. V trails the lesser to an alley where he promptly disables it. A search through its pockets reveals nothing, so V pops it and calls a meeting with Darius and Wrath.

The three of them decide to background check the human and send a doggen to do a little daylight reconnaissance. Vetting reveals the gent is Richard McGregor, Dean of Classics and highly regarded in his field. He recently published a controversial article in an academic journal about the Old Language and its possible origins. This news alarms the Brothers.

Questions are asked: How can human knowledge affect the BDB and the race? Why do they care about the Old Language and, most importantly, how are lessers involved?

Recon photos show McGregor in the company of a petite young woman, his daughter, Eva, herself an academic at the University of Chicago. V is stunned when the photos are passed to him for view: The tasty little morsel is his library crush. Perfect!

He says nothing about his prior contact as Tohrment runs down the basic background info. It seems Tohr can’t find birth or voting records for Eva McGregor, but guesses that since her father taught at the Universite of Montreal before his tenure at Columbia, that the records might still be in Canada. Obituary notices indicate that McGregor is a widower, his wife Anne-Louis, having died about 10 years prior.

It’s decided to surveil the McGregors. Darius is assigned to McGregor and discovers that he’s left the country suddenly. Described as a sabbatical, McGregor has flown to Istanbul. Wrath agrees that McGregor might be collaborating with lessers, whether knowingly or not, and tells Darius to pursue. Darius takes his private jet to Turkey, leaving V to maintain the New York end.

V is working overtime to earn Eva’s trust, and hopefully admittance to her bed, but is finding both equally difficult. She’s wary and thinks V is one of her father’s ‘operatives’. V learns that McGregor has worked closely with numerous government agencies. As Eva explains “regimes always capitalize on the past to justify their present schemes.” It was common that spooks and agents followed both her and her sister Mia.

V is surprised to learn she has a sister, since Tohr said nothing about a sibling. It seems sister Mia became estranged from her father after their mother’s death and died when Eva was in Dohuk during the First Gulf War. Eva was in Iraq during the war? What the fuck could be so important that woman as frail as Eva would travel to a hostile nation? And during a ‘shock and awe’ campaign? All of this puzzles Vishous.

Yet he’s intrigued with her mind. Keen and logical, she’s an archeologist and cuneiform writing specialist, a career direction that V finds baffling. Who gives a shit about clay pots and random lines? He thinks humans like to focus on things they cannot change, namely the past, and ignore the present where they can actually affect change. Their arguments, theoretical and heated, are some of the best foreplay he’s ever experienced.

Every piece of information that he pulls from Eva is tensely negotiated and reciprocated with bits of his own. For some reason, he cannot force himself into her mind and make her desire him, and this interesting roadblock presents an irresistible challenge. So, he tells her. Everything. For him, the risk is minimal. He could tell her every fact about the race and every dirty secret of his soul and it wouldn’t matter. A quick memory scrub and all is forgotten. But for her, it’s clearly an emotional rollercoaster.

It seems she and Mia were close loving sisters, but very different. One artistic, one academic. It was Mia who sent Eva to Iraq, for it was Mia, while working at Christie’s despite her father’s stern disapproval, who first saw stolen museum artifacts and alerted her sister. V, though fascinated that a human would risk life and limb for a bunch of crumbling nonsense, still thinks it silly, but antes up with tales of his own.

He finds out that McGregor has an obsession with a theory he calls “the Parallel People”, a race of humanoids that have co-existed with humans for millennia, hiding in plain sight, yet just outside of it. He believes his research into the Parallel Language, or Old Language, will prove him correct. Eva thinks her father delusional, maybe even demented, but works occasionally with him if only to appease. She questions V about his facial tattoos; she can read some of them and that indicates she’s also familiar with the language. However, it becomes clear from her statements, and her scent, that she’s truthful about her father, and that her familiarity with the language is purely intellectual exercise, so V concludes that she probably knows nothing about the lessers.

He’s never really enjoyed human company, but finds Eva strangely compelling and begins to develop an honest attachment, one that is beyond his assigned duty to the BDB. He finds unusual satisfaction in telling her everything, supremely comforted both by the opportunity to vent and the safety in knowing that she’ll remember absolutely nothing. It brings out the Dominant in him, and he subtly and surely steers her toward a D/s dynamic.

She’s a natural alpha submissive: Tough on the outside and gooey on the inside. And during the weeks of McGregor’s absence, V seduces and collars her. He’s never had a human sub before and he loves molding her to his liking. He changes her wardrobe and hair, dressing her up like a doll with fine clothing and shoes camouflaging the tight leather corsetry and intimate piercings beneath them. The females of his race never had to be prompted; they always dressed to please. But Eva was special, she had no interest in pleasing him. It had to be learned. He was a harsh teacher and that pleased him more than anything.

Weeks later, Darius phones ahead and alerts the BDB that McGregor is returning to New York, after spending his time on digs outside the city and interminable hours at the bazaar. McGregor clearly has become paranoid since his journey, telling Eva that he’s been followed by more than the motley assortment of government spooks. He secretly mails some of his key research to Eva’s Chicago apartment before burning the rest and attempting to flee.

Darius’ return flight to the US is only a couple hours behind McGregor’s, but by the time he drives to Columbia, McGregor’s office is in flames. Darius spies McGregor running out of the building, pursued by two lessers. Eva is knocked to the ground by the commotion and watches helplessly as her father, chased by albino killers, is herded onto the street and killed by a bus.

Nothing much is salvaged by Darius from the fire except a scrap of parchment with unintelligible symbols. Noting V’s unusual response to Eva’s shock, it’s clear that V has not maintained professional distance. Darius recognizes that behavior and reflects on the sad outcome of his own attachment to a human woman. He warns V that his little game with Eva has to end. V grudgingly agrees to scrub her and send her back to Chicago.

After she buries her father, V and Eva spend a last night together at a swank Manhattan hotel. He exchanges her simple silver collar and earrings for diamonds before swearing undying love. He drives her to the airport before dawn and with a last goodbye kiss, scrubs her mind completely clean.


Present Day, Manhattan

Saxton, on a date with Ruhn at the Met, is enjoying an evening of Debussy, skillfully played by young French pianist, Celeste Allard. As the young woman plays, it’s clear from her rising scent that she’s not human, but a pretrans on the verge of imminent change. Furthermore, both Ruhn and Saxton remark that the young girl strongly resembles Beth, their Queen.

Curious, Saxton slips backstage after the concert to introduce himself when he discovers that her mahmen is actually a human, the petite but formidable Parisian, Madam Allard, who steers him away from her daughter. It’s clear that Madam Allard recognizes Saxton as ‘other’, but in a coolly Gallic fashion does not allude to it. Instead, she merely says “I have an item that your Brotherhood would find very interesting,” and hands him a small envelope addressed to Wrath, Son of Wrath.

Alarmed, Saxton bids a hasty retreat and wipes all minds except Madam Allard, who seems unusually resistant. She gives him a brief smile as if acknowledging his difficulty before moving on to the next well-wisher, effectively dismissing him.

Saxton and Ruhn immediately return to the Brothers’ Mansion and request an audience with Wrath who is in session with his courtier Abalone. Saxton reports the event and descriptions of the French women are given. Madam Allard is in her mid-40s, a small statured human woman, chicly dressed with closely cropped silver hair. Celeste, a pretrans female, is about 5’10”, with long dark hair, bright blue eyes and pale freckled skin. Both Ruhn and Saxon are quick to say that the female seems to closely resemble Beth.

Wrath, annoyed that there might be yet another of Darius’ young to deal with, is royally pissed off that a human has knowledge about the Brotherhood, and him specifically. He tears open the envelope and out falls a key along with a hand-written address and phone number. Butch is summoned to research the women and Phury is dispatched with the key and address, and with standing orders to scrub knowledge and seal the information breach.

Abalone, an avid musician, recognizes the name of Celeste and to the Brothers’ surprise, volunteers to accompany Phury. He explains that Celeste was a prodigy and had followed her career with great interest.


1993 Chicago

Eva flies home to Chicago groggy and headachy. Her father’s death was devastating, and she’s having trouble remembering details from the last several days. She attributes it to grief, yet she’s sore and swollen in some intimate areas and is having a hard time believing that she got drunk and had a fling with one of her father’s grad assistants after the funeral. Confusing, too, are the diamonds around her neck and dangling from her ears. She can’t quite remember when her father gave her the necklace or ever seeing them before. Yet she feels a strong emotional attachment to them and reasons that, if her finances should ever tank, she could always pawn them.

After a few weeks, she’s still weepy and unusually weak. She can’t shake the flu, and she utterly overwhelmed by her father’s estate and trying to keep up with her post-doc research. She’s plagued with paralyzing headaches and can’t think clearly. She’s the only surviving member of her family and she’s devastated and terribly lonely. Furthermore, strange memories of a dark virile man haunt her dreams at night. She can’t sleep, her body and soul yearn for him, yet she cannot see his face and or remember his name.

A box of her father’s research arrives parcel post, weeks after his death. As she combs through it one morning, the memories of the two of them, father and daughter, poring over ancient symbols, hits her gut and she barely makes it to the toilet before vomiting her breakfast. With each retch, she uncovers buried memories until all is revealed: Her affair with V, her father’s mania and death at the hand of strange albino killers and now a possible pregnancy.

She remembers the notes she made during her time with V, cribbed into the margins of her research. Cuneiform shorthand documenting not only her feelings for him, but everything she could remember before he took away her memories every morning before dawn. She reads them over and over, terrified that she might experience permanent memory loss.


Present Day Caldwell

Butch tries to get V to help him with the background checks, but V shrugs it off. He’s been cold and distant since Butch and Marissa happily announced her pregnancy a few weeks ago. V is sick of the fucking young constantly underfoot in the mansion. Tired of watching his fucking language and so done with having to fucking examine his own fucking fucked-up head about family life.

Jane is spending so much time in the clinic, V can’t remember the last time they actually had a real conversation. Since he confessed his indiscretion with Jo Early, they hadn’t really even slept in the same bed. And now, all the happy-happy joy-joy and endless baby talk is exactly what he doesn’t need. More examples of how fucking fucked up his life really is.

Butch takes what findings he has to Wrath. Madam Allard graduated from Paris Descartes Univerisite and worked as a psychologist before devoting herself to her daughter’s career. Celeste attended both Conservatoire de Paris and Julliard, then hit the concert circuit at a very early age. Butch also located birth records and interestingly both women were born to unknown fathers, Celeste in Paris in 1994 and Madam Allard, born Elle-Viane Allard in Montreal in 1965. Following a hunch, Butch followed the info trail and discovers that Madam Allard’s mother worked as an ICU nurse on the night shift at the CHU Sante-Justine, a children’s hospital in Montreal.

Wrath follows the angle, musing the possibility that this unknown father in 1965 might be the same who fathered Butch and Manny. Wrath considers it plausible, especially if Madam Allard appears to be resistant to memory manipulation. Could this pretrans Celeste Allard have two possible vampire bloodlines? Wrath inquires of Fritz if Darius had traveled to Paris during the early 90s, perhaps on one of his many art-buying trips. Fritz confirms that Darius spent a lot of time abroad after the death of Beth’s mother.

Suspecting that this pretrans might indeed be the young of Darius, Wrath reiterates how important it is that they personally question the women and demands that they be brought before him ASAP. However, he decides not to tell Beth anything until the truth is determined.

Meanwhile, Phury is flummoxed. He arrives at the given address and the key opens a door to an empty apartment. Another letter addressed to Wrath is on the table.


1993 Chicago

With her pregnancy confirmed, Eva considers her options. She’s in love with V, but doesn’t know how to contact him. The only phone number she has is disconnected, and all her letters are returned marked “MLNA”, or moved left no address. She’s desperate to find him, yet afraid if she succeeds. He swore to protect her as her lover and her Dom, yet he sent her away and stole her memories. He told her she had no worries about conception, yet now she was pregnant. He gave her a diamond collar and then abandoned her.

She’s overwhelmed with the double loss of father and now her lover, but cannot give up her baby. Questions are asked: Is it possible to have a child with a non-human? Would it survive? Is it possible that V might discover her? What would he do to her child? Knowing his brilliant mind and resources, could she realistically avoid his notice and stay under the radar? Was he spying on her at present? And if he found her, would be make good on that statement made when they first become lovers that he would suffer no young of his to live?

Eva decides to keep her baby and makes secret plans. She cashes in what little money she inherited from her grandmother, pawns her diamond collar, and then simply walks away from her life, hopefully leaving no trail for V to follow. She drives cross-country to Las Vegas, abandons her car in the airport lot and takes the first flight out of town.


Present Day Caldwell

Wrath is in conference with Rehvenge when Phury arrives home without the humans. Wrath explodes, angered that a simple assignment has morphed into a clusterfuck. He snatches up the letter, but cannot read it. He hands it off to Rehv, who reads aloud. It is an entreaty for the ‘King’s’ help protecting Celeste Allard in exchange for the information on the enclosed USB drive.

The download includes 2 jpegs: a photograph of Old Language, written formally on what appears to be slate or marble, detailing a partial history and origin of the race, up to and including the Dhestroyer Prophecy. The second picture is of another letter of entreaty, this one more detailed. In it, Madam Allard asks the King to swear on the life of his infant son that he will protect Celeste, see her safely through transition and defend her against her sire. In exchange, she would provide the remaining history as a show of good faith.

Wrath is furious that his personal life is known to an outsider. He does not want to bargain, but Rehv urges him to at least consider it. The first picture is incomplete, they need the second. And if the marbles are found to be fake, disposing of a couple of human women is easy. Rehv offers to set up the meeting in a neutral place. He even offers to act as a ‘stand-in’ for the king, allowing Wrath a chance to observe the humans while safely guarded by the Brothers.

Wrath agrees and the meeting is set up at Salvatore’s, iAm’s 5-star Italian restaurant. V’s wants to accompany Wrath, but he’s needed to translate the first picture, so Tohr and Zsadist are assigned, and the three of them rendezvous with Rehv in one of the bistro’s private dining rooms.

When Madam Allard arrives with Celeste, even Rehv can’t help but notice the distinct resemblance the young woman has to Beth. He introduces himself as King Wrath and asks the two women to sit. Madam Allard is not fooled. She tosses a thumb drive at his head and when Rehv snatches it up, tells him he cannot possibly be the king as Wrath is blind.

She turns to the Brother wearing dark wraparound sunglasses and kneels at his feet. In a quiet voice, she pleads for the life of her daughter and indicates that the USB that his ‘lackey’ holds is the remaining piece of evidence they require. The three Brothers nearly lose their composure, but Rehv calms them. He asks that the ladies excuse them for a moment as they consider her proposal.

Once out of earshot, Rehvenge admits he can’t get a read on Madam Allard. Her grid is hard to decipher, as if she had a firewall in her brain, but there’s no doubt she loves her daughter and is willing to die for her. He doesn’t think her a threat to the Brotherhood.

Wrath asks if Rehv can picture the sire. He admits he cannot, but can only see a vague outline of a tall, dark and libidinous man who, as Rehvenge pointedly reminds them, could be any one of them. However, Rehv does sense that Madam Allard must have been deeply affected by her lover, because she has taken none since him.

After reconvening, Wrath asks Madam Allard why she is impervious to mind manipulation. She replies that it’s irrelevant and that her only concern is safeguarding her daughter. Wrath gambles and agrees to terms, despite the grumbling of Tohr and Zsadist. However, he has terms of his own. He won’t permit the ladies to operate in the human world until it’s confirmed Celeste is one of their own. Although Madam Allard objects, Wrath reminds her that he has given his word and furthermore, his race has known enemies. Being associated with the Brotherhood could subject them both to danger.

She agrees, and the ladies are moved into the Audience House. Wrath still doesn’t want unaffiliated humans dwelling in the Brothers’ Mansion, and he’s worried that Beth might take up and run with the notion she has a half-sister even before it’s confirmed. Abalone receives them at the Audience House and initially confuses Celeste with Beth before apologizing and showing the ladies to their shared suite. He takes special care to show Celeste to the music room and politely asks if he might have the pleasure of hearing her play. Celeste is happily surprised that someone in this new sphere of life knows her as a musician and not as a pawn. She notices that he’s quite attractive and wonders if he’s married.

Wrath orders blood and DNA tests, then Manny and Jane are sent to the Audience House to examine the humans. Doc Jane, having more experience handling difficult patients, volunteers to treat Madam Allard, who is frankly shocked that the good Doctor is human. Madam Allard is further surprised to discover that the doctor is actually married to one of the Brothers, to the Brother who is called Vishous, yet has no children by him. Jane tries to draw out Madam Allard and asks her innocently who fathered Celeste. Madam replies that her memories were stolen, but remembers his threat against her child. When Doc Jane asks how Madam Allard knew how to find the Brotherhood if her memory was impaired, Madam tells her that, as Jane was a scientist, she probably wouldn’t believe her.

Meanwhile, Manny draws Celeste’s blood and prepares it for Havers. Celeste is comforted by his professional manner and that he is human. Without prompting, she begins to talk freely, sharing that she always knew she was ‘different’, even when she was a little girl. She was teased and bullied in school, and only her deep Catholic faith made it bearable. Manny listens as she tells him that her mother was terrified of being discovered by Celeste’s sire, that she had struggled for years with intermittent memory loss and was afraid of the future. Manny sympathizes and tells Celeste that he knows exactly what Madam Allard endured, having experienced it himself. He learns that Madam Allard made many pilgrimages to Lourdes when Celeste was a child, hoping for a miracle. And that one day, it actually happened!

Grabbing onto his Jesus piece, Manny listens as Celeste tells her story, and the hair rises up on the back of his neck. Early one summer morning, just before dawn, Celeste heard the birds loudly singing in the garden and she climbed out the window to investigate. The Holy Mother, shining like a star, was under a tree, listening to the birdsong. She beckoned Celeste, who was only about 8 years old, to join her. Madam Allard soon followed and the three of them stood under the tree, listening to the songs of the birds. The Blessed Mother comforted the women and told them that she would watch over them until Celeste was ready to join her father’s people. When Madam Allard asked the Blessed Virgin if those people were safe, the Holy Mother reminded her that She was the Mother of All Nations and to have no fear.

Manny’s hand is sweating around his crucifix, but his scientific training does not fail. He asks Celeste how did she know the ‘vision’ was real and Celeste tells him that since the event, her mother had no further head pain or memory loss. He tells Celeste that he and the Brother Butch attend mass nightly and that the ladies would be most welcome to join them. As she smiles and thanks him, Manny notices her corrective contact lenses and is puzzled. There is no mention of vision changes or astigmatism in Havers’ literature, but as the girl is a hybrid, he only makes note of it in her file.

As days lapse waiting for Havers’ DNA results, Abalone must deal with a problem of his own. He is irresistibly drawn to Celeste and unfamiliar proprietary feelings catch him off-guard. These feelings are savage and primal, not at all what he was accustomed to by station and glymera conditioning. He and Celeste meet every afternoon to play together, he with his cello and she playing like an angel at the piano. Even his late shellan, a sensitive music lover like himself, never possessed the artistry of this young female. He begins to wonder if life is possible again.

He is reluctant to press his suit because of the age difference. Would theirs be only a May-December romance? What would his beloved daughter, Paradise, think of Celeste? Would she be angry and jealous, thinking her late mahmen’s position supplanted by a female younger than herself? Yet when the fine male Craeg approaches him and respectfully asks for his daughter’s hand, he gives his blessing without reservation, secretly hoping that one day it might be reciprocated.

Preliminary tests confirm that Celeste was sired by a Brother, but Havers’ DNA tests are ongoing. Yet there is great cheer in the Mansion that another family member might be added. The household females are itching with curiosity, but the Brothers hold to Wrath’s order. No hint of ‘daughter of Darius, son of Marklon’ will be made until DNA is final. Wrath is not completely convinced. He can smell an underlying fear in Madam Allard whenever Celeste’s sire is mentioned. Darius was a devoted father, albeit at a distance. Something is not quite right.

With the identity of yet another Brother’s child confirmed, V get seriously grumpy. He picks fights with Jane and thinks about Jo, thinking about their differences in the basest of terms: Jo Early is alive, a fertile female. Jane is dead, literally and figuratively. Is he feeling peer pressure to breed, or does he truly desire to be a father? One night at First Meal, he overhears Rhage loudly volunteering as male blood source for Celeste and notices the beaming smile that his shellan Mary gives him in response. Such a fucking loving father, a fuckety fucking perfect example of selfless parenting and moral propriety. V wants to fucking puke.

He’s wracked with jealousy but can’t own it. Darius has been dead for years and he’s produced three young posthumously! If that’s not graveyard prowess, he doesn’t know what is. But V has seen Celeste at the Audience House and has to admit she looks an awful like Queen Beth. He followed the music and spied her and Abalone playing a duet, the pencil-necked geek sawing away on a big fucking violin and the unmistakable scent of bonding spices floating in the fucking air. He wanted to bitch slap the little glymera pussy for perving on D’s kid, but held his tongue. The growing intimacy between the two makes him uneasy, so he turns heel and hides out in his forge to brood and sulk.

Wrath and Rehv meet privately with Madam Allard. She’s coy about how she came to possess the Old Language artifacts, and says they were mailed to her by a dead colleague years ago. She did nothing with them until she was certain that her daughter was ‘like her father’. It’s obvious that Madam Allard is well-versed in the language and the metaphors they contain. She even knows about the Omega, telling the males that he cannot exist without the Alpha and that he must be returned to the Creator. Wrath and Rehv agree but refer to ancient tome’s warning that a special weapon is needed. Madam Allard says perhaps the instrument, following the manner of most creation mythologies, will appear when it’s actually needed.

Meanwhile in the forge, Vishous can’t stop ruminating. A name keeps circling in his head: Anne-Louis. He knows he’s heard the name before but can’t place it. He types it in and the usual stuff pops up: All the background crap that he already reviewed. Yeah, birth records showing Anne-Louis Allard was the mother of Madam Allard but V remembers hearing it before, long before Madam Allard ever showed up with her bastard daughter. But where??

He keys in the name Anne-Louis and finds another birth record, this one for an elder daughter: a Marie-Irene Allard. Why hadn’t Madam Allard mentioned other family members? Had something happened? He searches the name Marie-Irene and finds an obituary dated from 1991. Damn! What a clever little sneak! V dematerializes to the Audience House. Wrath has to know immediately.

As Madam Allard converses with Wrath and Rehv, a courier brings the King’s daily mail. Madam Allard explains she was in love with a Brother, but he stole her memories and used her for information regarding her father. Wrath remembers the ‘father unknown’ portion of Madam Allard’s birth record and asks the name of her father.

Before she can reply, Vishous materializes behind her and answers the question. Her father was Richard McGregor who was killed by lessers in the early 90s after colluding with them. He greets Madam Allard coldly, calling her Eva as he calmly lights up a smoke, and asks her if she enjoyed submitting to Darius as well as himself. He explains her name is an acronym, Elle-Viane Allard = E.V.A. and whatever she’s playing is probably just another little game.

He asks her where her collar is. Rehv and Wrath want no part of what is clearly a lovers’ spat. Wrath busies himself with mail, while Rehv pretends to read a magazine. Eva tries to ignore him, too, but V doesn’t buy it. He compliments her juggling skills, not even vampire females can handle two Brothers at once, and congratulates her for safely delivering another one of Darius’ spawn.

Wrath looks up from his desk, holding a Braille letter in his mitts. DNA tests confirm that not only is Celeste the daughter of Brother, but she’s the daughter of Vishous, son of the Bloodletter. V loudly denies it, saying he didn’t breed this human waste of flesh, that he knows by smell when a female, vampire or human, is fertile. And that half-human bastard daughter was someone else’s problem, not his.

Eva calmly asks the King if his word is good. Wrath replies and it is and tells V to stand down. V continues his rant, hollering that the miserable POS banging on the piano ain’t no young of his and that he would never stoop to breed with a human.

Eva quietly replies that such news must be hard for his shellan and V loses it. He throws Eva against the wall. Both Rehv and Wrath pull him off and as Eva lies gasping for air, Wrath admonishes V with a final fuck-off warning: Celeste is his blooded daughter, but she is still under the King’s protection.  And that goes double for her mother.

Abalone and Celeste, alarmed by the noise, rush in at the worst moment of V’s tantrum. Celeste witnesses the violence and repudiation, and clings to Abalone who tries to shield her with his body. Without thinking, he bares his fangs and V responds in kind. He points a finger at Celeste and reminds everyone that the half-breed can’t be his as she looks just like Darius.

Eva reassures Celeste that she’s not seriously injured and tells her gently to “remove them now.” Celeste nods and ducking behind Abalone, pops out her contact lenses. As she looks up, everyone quiets, even V. Wrath asks what has happened and Rehv quietly replies. “Diamond Eyes”.

Stunned, V just ghosts out of the room. He ends up at the Commodore where he stares at the city from the penthouse windows. His life just fucking sucks. Several hours later, Jane arrives and tries to engage him, but he’s unwilling. She tries to comfort him, but loses her cool. She knows he’s been conflicted about young for a long, long time. Now he has one, he should be happy. But she’s done with his juvenile behavior. She reminds him that everyone without exception has problems and that if he continued to refuse to find perspective, she was history. She can’t live with a husband so self-absorbed and self-pitying. Jane dissolves to the Fade to take a much-needed break.

V examines his only choice: Face up to his bullshit. He was more like his sick fuck of a father, the Bloodletter, than he wanted to admit. Fucking and fighting, and dismissing everything and everyone who didn’t comply with the first two. And now Jane, his long-suffering Jane, pulled up the only anchor he ever had. Why hadn’t he mated her properly? Why wasn’t her name carved into his back? Was that oversight just an indication of how little he cared? Just like the Bloodletter: His way or the highway. Yeah. He was really fucked.

At the Audience House, V’s outburst has triggered a panic attack in Celeste, which in turn, has triggered her transition. Rhage is busy fighting downtown and can’t be summoned. Abalone volunteers and even asks Madam Allard to witness. He is a perfect gentleman though he’s burning with lust and berating himself for even entertaining such notions. Celeste is so young and perfect, she deserves a young male of worth who will stand strong at her side for centuries, not an old male who had at most only a couple of them left before becoming withered. But Celeste does not see him as such; he is everything noble, elegant and masculine. And after drinking from his vein, she is even more convinced.

When Vishous returns to the Mansion several days later, he’s on Wrath’s shitlist. He turned away from his young and was AWOL when fighting was heavy downtown. V sees Celeste only briefly as she and her mother join Last Meal. She is even more beautiful, looking less like Beth and more like, dare he say it? His own mother, the late Scribe Virgin.

But he can’t face her, can’t own up to his horrendous behavior. He’s absolutely miserable without Jane and, for the first time in his life, he is uncertain. Will she return or stay forever in the Fade? What will he do if she never returns?

With her daughter safe at last, Madam Allard prepares to return to Paris. Celeste is heartbroken but understands that secrecy, especially now, is vital. Her mother explains that, as her own human life is so brief, she will be comforted knowing that Celeste will be in the company of those who will love and care for her for centuries to come.

As she packs her bags, Fritz announces that both King and Queen have come to take proper leave of her and await in the Audience Chamber. The King is seated on his throne as Madam Allard enters and curtsies. As if he could see her, he nods in response and beckons a tall brunette to his side. He introduces his Beth, the Queen, but Madam Allard suddenly pales and lists to the side.

Beth rushes to her side, taking her arm. Madam Allard asks, “Mia?” in a breathy, quavering voice, before blinking and shaking her head. No, she reminds herself. This  cannot be Mia; she died years ago with her child.

Madam Allard stops speaking and stares at Beth, wondering what she was actually seeing. The woman before her looks so much like Mia that she could be her daughter. But that was not possible. Was it? Beth looks strangely puzzled and asks softly who was Mia. Madam Allard explains that her sister Marie-Irene died in a car accident years ago and that the baby she was carrying died as well. Madam composes herself and says that she was just startled by the resemblance. She shows her a tiny faded picture in locket around her neck and now it is Beth’s turn to pale and weave.

It is the face of Beth’s own mother, the same photo that Darius kept next to his bed. The women shriek in unison and cling to each other. Between the tears and shrieks, Wrath is alarmed. The scents from the women range from suspicion to utter joy and he’s confused. He demands an explanation why his Beth is weeping.

Madam Allard quickly tells him that she was abroad when Mia died, that her father claimed she and her unborn baby died in a car accident. Beth tells her that it wasn’t a car accident, but childbirth that killed her, but her baby survived in foster care. Madam Allard is mortified. She suddenly realizes that her father, still angry with Mia for becoming an artist and not an academic, punished her further by abandoning her infant and lying about what he had done.

Her tears flow like a river. Her own niece, abandoned by family! How could she ever live with herself? Beth scoops her up and holds her tightly, thinking how very lucky she was. She has a loving husband, a son, a brother, and now, an auntie and cousin! Her family was growing! Her happy cup runneth over.


Epilogue: Caldwell, Six months later

It was a little too grisly for her tastes, but Celeste is supremely happy, clutching the bloody cloth to her bosom as she proudly watches Abalone endure the salting of his back wounds, so Madam Allard smiles beatifically and nods as if it were just another walk in the park. Her Celeste has never looked so radiant, wearing a long satin gown of deep red and antique jewels that must be worth a King’s ransom.

Her father and his shellan watch with happy smiles, too, and as much as she would like to hate him, the past is too heavy to carry around. She was young and foolish when their paths initially crossed. Many things, including herself, had changed. It would be unfair to think he had escaped the same.

She watched as Abalone stood tall and kissed the hand of his new young shellan. If he could manage to shake off the burdens of the past and find a way to begin anew, so could she. It was time to start living again.