Fury's Flame

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by Cagey

Warning: violence, blood, brooding, ubiquitous pronouns. This vignette takes place during the events of "Romeo and Juliet," not long after Julian has met with Archon and Lillie to gnash his fangs about Sasha's embrace.


Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack'd with pains that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.

--Tennyson, "In the Valley of Cauteretz"



His blood burned.

A strangled cry -- that last gasp of awareness before he cut through the soft flesh of the neck -- could not calm him. He needed to see the begging, cringing eyes, too.

By god, the warmth of their corrupted blood on his fingers was sensuous. He paused a moment to revel in the sensation, massaging the oozing stickiness in the hollow between his fingers. The Brujah in his grasp struggled, and he impatiently tightened his hold on the creature's throat to still it.

At last he moved. "Your blood is best spilt," he hissed. He traced a red trail across his victim's face, a scarlet line from cheek to chin. "Do you taste it? Do you taste the foulness of it?" With his thumb he pressed a bloody fingerprint at the corner of the Kindred's mouth. "How dare you take what belongs to me?"

Fresh blood splattered the wall, an involuntary answer. He let the body slide from his grasp. There was no one left, now. No one except Sasha.

He moved quietly to the bed. She was sleeping now, a faint trail of blood tears lingering on her cheek. Poor, beautiful, defiant Sasha. She should have become Ventrue. She deserved better than this filth, this rape. The degredation repulsed him.

He did not intend to, but without realizing it he reached out a hand, stroked her scarlet cheek. She tensed; he saw that her eyes were open -- hard and wary. Then she recognized him, and her expression softened, relief evident. She opened her mouth to speak, but he put a finger across her tender lips.

"Shhhhh," he soothed. "I will make things right."

Sasha nodded gratefully, licked her lips. There, on their soft surface, she found a trace of the Brujah blood from his fingers. Her expression changed, from repulsion to sudden, intense hunger. She whimpered.

He smiled gently, then leaned forward. With one bloody hand he pushed back her curled hair, and pressed his lips softly against her forehead. "It will be okay," he murmured against her flawless skin.

He felt her body shudder; her head jerked back for the briefest moment, then returned to rest against his kiss. He released her, letting her body slide back onto the velvet coverlet of the bed.

Her corrupted, Brujah lifesblood made an angry arc against the white of his shirt.

***

Julian Luna pushed open the door more forcefully than he intended -- it skittered across the floor, and met the doorstop roughly. He stopped, then grasped the edge of the offending door. He breathed in slowly for a moment, and finally released it again more sedately before he continued forward.

His footsteps echoed loudly in the hallway. The news of Sasha's embrace and abduction by the Brujah had infuriated him, and in the ensuing rage he had banned all visitors. Now the house was silent, with no background hum to mute his angry pacing. The staccato echo propelled him faster.

Nonetheless, he opened the door to the study more quietly. The grey-haired man who had been sitting quietly in the room stirred as he entered, blinking uncomfortably, and Julian knew that he had awakened his Sire.

"Archon," he said apologetically, and the older Kindred beckoned him closer with a gesture. His Sire had pulled a chair near the fireplace, a pose reminiscent of days long gone. When Archon Raine was Prince, when the troubles of the city became too burdensome, he took refuge in front of the fire. It was cleansing, he had told Julian many, many years ago.

Luna knelt down beside the chair and rested his head in one hand. His sleep had been disturbed and restless; he felt pummeled by the torrent of anger that haunted his dreams. His lack of control shamed him -- was he making the right decision, to pursue war in the city?

Julian felt Archon's reassuring hand on his head. "You must calm yourself, Julian." Raine's voice was weary, gentle. "The Brujah will take advantage of your anger."

"Sasha was mine," the Prince spat, contempt welling up in him again. "I made the decision, and they defied it. She was my family."

Archon grasped his shoulder tightly. "She still is your family, Julian."

Luna clenched his hands, the fingernails making pale half-moon indentations on his palms. "I know. I know that what has happened cannot be changed. I know that I will continue to love Sasha whether she is Ventrue, or Gangrel, or Brujah. But Archon...in the dark, when I sleep -- or worse, can't sleep -- I'm filled with such consuming rage." He sighed in frustration. "It is unbearable."

"You will bear it," Archon replied quietly. "You must not give in to your basest desires."

Julian did not answer, instead searching for some refuge in the golden heart of the fire.

"Julian," Archon offered softly. "I'm sorry." His hand slipped away from Julian, and there was something in his tone which made Luna look up.

Archon's eyes were closed. "You asked if I was preparing to leave you. I said yes." His face, no longer aging but nonetheless weathered by time, was intimately familiar to Julian. Yet tonight there was something hidden, Julian sensed, behind those closed eyes. "But not without regret," Archon continued. "Wisdom is not enough to gain the light, Julian. It requires acceptance, as well -- the bitter knowledge of your own weakness and the acceptance of it." He opened his eyes and leaned toward Julian. "I know," he said intently, his eyes fierce in the firelight. "I know what it is to lack control."

He opened his mouth as if to say more, but refrained. "Leave me," he said finally. Realizing, perhaps, that it was the first command he had given to Julian in years, Archon tempered it with a sympathetic smile. "You must prepare, if we are to have war." The Prince rose and, putting his hand briefly on Archon's shoulder in acknowledgment, wheeled away.

Archon did not turn to watch him go, but fixed his gaze on the fire's glow. The bond between Julian and himself had always been strong -- never more so than now, as they both prepared for his leave-taking. The burden which he placed on Julian was a heavy one, he knew.

Finally, reluctantly, he looked down at his chest. For a moment, in the flickering light, he could see the blood -- Brujah blood splayed across his shirt in the dream. Then it was gone. But the smell of it... ah, the sweet intoxication of it remained.

Archon settled himself more comfortably in the chair, and closed his eyes. Only when he was deep in dream's grasp once again did he smile.