How Can Love Last?

Disclaimer: I am in no way benefiting from using the characters in this story based on the series Kindred: The Embraced nor the role-playing Game the series was based on. I also want to make it clear that any resemblance to current fiction, written or movies involving rings, is purely accidental. I have not read any literature or watched any movies with this theme, such as "Lord of the Rings" or "The Ring" to name two. I?m not even sure what these stories are about. The ring in my story as well as the lore about Nosferatu history and Kindred rituals were conjured up in my own head and I take credit only for that. Just as a side thought, I found that listening to Josh Groban sing as I re-read this story was a very pleasing accompaniment. Please read on and enjoy. Thanks, Reesy

 

How Can Love Last?

Daedalus found his way to Elaine as often as he possibly could, and while their time together was magic they began to realize they needed more than this. They felt the pang of not being able to spend all their time together. If they were able to they would not feel the need to keep things from each other. Things that could hurt each other, things that they felt were better left unsaid. Daedalus could not let Elaine find out he was Kindred and Elaine could not tell Daedalus her time on earth was limited to less than what most would consider a lifetime. She would have to tell him someday but for now she would just enjoy what time she had with the one she loved more than anyone else in the world. But that was the hard part. They would not have a lifetime, and if she told him now he would surely be with her night and day, still she could not bring herself to share this with him and have it torment the rest of their time together.

These sad thoughts fled as she felt a breeze and sensed his presence. Elaine never heard the knock at the door or the doorknob turn. How he could do it she did not know but she never saw him appear. She would just feel a soft kiss on her neck and his gentle hand glide around her waist drawing her to him in a tender embrace. Again the unnatural occurrence, but when he came to Elaine, all of her concerns faded and she would give to him all her love and devotion.

If Daedalus sensed her frailty he treated her with especial kindness, handling her with more gentleness which made her feel more loved than she felt deserving of. Really, Elaine never felt she deserved Daedalus' love. She had a keen awareness that told her that any goodness in their relationship came from him. He was the one who loved her, albeit from afar at first and then intimately for one blissful night, but loved her always and never judged or had a profane thought of her the way she had of him the day he fled through her apartment window.

Elaine had told Caitlin Byrne and other reporters her visitor had the blackest, most empty eyes and she thought she was looking at the Devil himself. Each time these powerful words came back to her she felt as if a knife were twisting in her already damaged heart and the pain was almost more than she could bare. If she died one night in her sleep it would be a kindness to her. What she felt she deserved was not his unconditional love but to suffer in pain for thinking such abhorrent things of this selfless, kind, tender, romantic man. These thoughts brought Elaine real humility now when Daedalus came to her and she would die a thousand deaths to keep him from ever knowing what she had said that terrible day many months ago.

"I have to stop this torment!" Elaine scolded herself. "I'm only making my illness worse and it does no good. Yes, dying in my sleep would be best for me but it would tear his world apart so just stop this now! Find something better to do with your time."

Elaine tried to be more positive and eventually this led her thoughts to the previous day with Daedalus. What sweetness! Each time he came to her she felt like it was the moment her life began and yesterday was no different.

Elaine never tired of being held in his arms. It wasn't a close embrace, at first. At first he would cradle her as he would a fragile creature that he dared not hold too tight and he would gaze into her loving, devoted eyes that said her life began and ended with him and they would feel the room swirl slowly with just the two of them at the center. Her hands ever so lightly touching his chest, fingers gently moving toward his shoulders and down his arms. Still, barely touching him, filling Daedalus with a wondrous, sensation feeling almost like electricity. No one else in the world but them and no one touching their lives. Slowly, she was drawn in closer with one hand at her back and the other at the back of her neck. Elaine kissed his chest with the softest kisses, lips that parted and trembled slightly, feeling as if there were a quaking deep within her going all the way from her lips to another, secret place, that delighted her to the point that her eyes fluttered gently from the overwhelming sensation of being on the verge of ecstasy. Daedalus tightened his hold on Elaine as the two ascended to a newer height than they ever had before.

Later that evening he had watched her brush her hair and remove her jewelry, with the exception of the beautiful antique necklace with the cobalt blue stone that he had given her several months ago. She had at first refused his gift but once he had fled her apartment she was afraid she would never see him again. From that day forward she never removed it for fear it was the only part of him she would ever have in her life. She wore it then to keep him next to her heart, and now, now more than ever because he was close to her heart. This gave Daedalus special pleasure knowing his presence in her life was more important to her than any other.

"Daedalus, you have made this the sweetest time in my life" she said as she had come to him that evening with the soft glow of candle light dancing in her eyes and a faint blush in her cheeks from the wine they shared. Barely touching his neck she caressed him with soft kisses and whispered to him "If there were ever a time that you would not return to me, I?m not sure I would be able to go on, but I don?t want to bring you pain. I only want you to know that yours is the most satisfying love I have ever experienced and if it never came again, no two people would ever share such sweet pleasure as we do."

A tremor went through Daedalus as he placed a hand on her waist and the other supported her head. As he closed his eyes and leaned forward to kiss her temple Daedalus gathered her to himself and whispered to Elaine "My dear one, if there were ever a time I could not come to you, you must know that it would be due to something beyond my control and that nothing would ever keep me from you."

~~~~~~~~~~~~

She didn?t know why but her imagination provided plenty of farfetched reasons for his absences. At first this amused Elaine, like a fantasy, then she began to imagine unnatural things that gave her a feeling that Daedalus was into something dangerous. Not of the criminal nature but she had wondered before if he were more than a mere man and having more time to herself than she really wanted gave her plenty of time to dwell on these things. When he was with her these concerns faded but when he could not join her these concerns turned more to fears.

At least she had heard his reassurance, and she had him with her for now so Elaine would not waste a precious moment feeling despair over things she did not know about him. It was their time together and like all the other times before, no one else existed outside of their little world of two. Like Elaine, Daedalus left the Kindred world, his world, outside when he came to her and each time he was rewarded with her steadfast devotion, her total acceptance, and her love. Something no one outside his Kindred world had ever given him, other than Abel, a little boy whose life he saved.

Daedalus never told Elaine he was Kindred and never would or it could be fatal for one or both of them. If she ever found out she would have to be made to forget or be embraced. Neither were choices Daedalus felt he could live with. He could not live another moment in this world if she were made to forget him. Daedalus was not sure he could make Elaine just forget that he was Kindred without making her forget about him too, so as long as he possibly could, he would keep this from her.

The other option was repulsive to him because he would not damn her to his life as a Nosferatu. If any other clan embraced her would she love him forever? He had to keep her in the dark about the kind of being he had chosen to become thousands of years ago. It hurt him to keep this from Elaine because he longed to share his whole life with her and he knew she must wonder, but what could he do?

It never occurred to him that, if given the choice, she would choose to live at his side forever under Julian?s mansion. It would be the answer she prayed for when she felt despair knowing she would be leaving him behind when her time came to leave this world, but he never knew. What had occurred to him many times was that, in time, she would grow too old and he would simply become her caretaker. Daedalus argued this out in his mind and heart every time he had to leave Elaine and yet the same answer came each time. He must not tell her.

Some Things Must Change

Cash and Sasha were familiar to Elaine so sometimes they found their way to her apartment knowing that this would keep Daedalus at bay until the coast was clear. It was a fun little game Sasha liked to play once in a while and Daedalus accepted it in the spirit it was played out. Unknown to her, their little pranks added to the mystique and romance in his relationship with Elaine because the longer they tarried the more intense his feelings became for Elaine until he could have her to himself. He would not chance entering her apartment through her window while they were there, so he must wait until their departure when he would come to Elaine.

Daedalus? entrance was something Elaine waited for each time. It was dramatic and this only made him seem more mysterious to her. An exotic man, be he a Greek or American, it did not matter to her. She loved everything she knew about him, even the way he spoke to her in that slow, deliberate manner he had, as if he weighed every word carefully. She loved his precise way of speaking and she hung on every word.

Being a singer, this endeared him to her more than ever because he was careful with his words. Elaine knew words were so important and could either lift you up or tear you down. She had found they could cut you to the heart with unkindness or they could mend your broken heart with tenderness. Although she had never hurt him with her words, she had still hurt him deeply, and now her life centered on healing his wounded heart with loving expressions that at first came from a contrite heart. Her heart now held more than penitence but this was the way it began for Elaine.

The sorrow she felt over the way she sent him from her many months ago finally gave way to love and this was ultimately the force that brought them together again. She didn?t know that Lillie set up the whole string of events that brought her and Daedalus together at the Haven, but somehow, on some level, she was aware that the love that sprang from her guilty heart was the link that carried him back to her and she would never be without him again if she could help it.

It was the physical torture her heart went through for many weeks and months that shortened her time. From a young age, she was taken from one Dr. to another, being told the same thing, that her heart was weak and could not withstand a great deal of stress and they were right. If she had been able to accept Daedalus the morning after their night of sweet love she would not have gone through months of anxiety over his well being and would not have tortured herself over her shallowness. If her life were shortened at all then it was her own fault, but why did Daedalus have to suffer for it? He had already suffered so much because he loved her and soon their endless happiness would turn to eternal sadness. She would have to find some way to ease him into it or else find a way to let him go and not let him know the secret she kept. Still she would love him to the end and then find a way to bravely release him.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The knowledge of her own condition was put to the back of her mind on most days because there was something else that kept her interest and it was easier not to deal with it until absolutely necessary. There was something she felt Daedalus kept from her and it bothered her that she was still in the dark about the relationship he had with Cash and Sasha, or even Lillie for that matter.

Elaine knew that Daedalus and Cash were friends, or at the very least, they were acquaintances and the connection they had was Lillie. There seemed to be something very close about these people and yet the three of them were nothing alike. What was it that gave them a quality of being free? When she was at the Haven they were always there, looking after her, keeping danger away. This made her feel safe but it also fueled her need to understand who they were.

This need to know more about Daedalus and their friends led Elaine to a decision. She would learn about them one way or another but she would have to be cautious because she sensed they were different from her, almost like a secret society, and this could put her out of favor with Daedalus if he ever found that she was sniffing around where he had not intended her.

Elaine was sure Daedalus would not keep secrets from her needlessly because he had shared the most important part of his life with her already. He had given her his heart. What could be more precious to him than that? If he were keeping something from her it must be to protect her.

"Protect me from what?" Elaine asked herself as she was picking up her things this morning and saw something that the sun was glinting off of on the floor just at the foot of her bed. It was a piece of jewelry she had seen before but had not paid too much attention to. She knelt to pick it up from just behind the leg of the bed frame and as she reached for it she saw an image on it. It was a peculiar looking thing, almost like a mask with distorted features. She stood up and looked closely at it but she could not see it clearly. It was almost like it was blurred or fuzzy, and it seemed to change as she turned it around in her fingers.

"What is this? Is it magic of some kind?"

The sound of breaking glass and crunching metal outside in the street downstairs startled Elaine so that she dropped the ring and tried to find it again, in vane.

"Oh no! Daedalus will never forgive me for losing his ring!" Elaine worried as she fumbled around for it on the floor. "It looked so old that I?m sure it must be an antique or a family heirloom."

"If I don?t find it and put it back where it was, he will know that I had found it and lost it. Oh, this is just awful! I?ve looked everywhere under the bed and the floor around it but it?s just not here now. How could it have just disappeared into thin air?" Elaine asked herself in a frenzy.

As Elaine felt something smooth slide up her little finger, she suddenly heard another crash outside and she had the terrible feeling she should look out her window to see what was happening. Everything had happened so quickly from the moment she picked up his ring, heard the first crash outside, searched frantically for the ring and then heard the second crash. A sickening feeling came over her that told her life as she knew it was about to change.

She ran to the window and the horror that met her eyes answered every fear she had felt about the secrets Daedalus kept from her. He bled like anyone else.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Julian?s cell phone rang incessantly while he was trying to conduct a meeting with his editor and her assistant. He ignored it thinking whoever was trying to reach him would leave a message in his voice mailbox. Caitlin finally said "Julian! Will you just look and see who it is? It might be important?"

"Very well. Let?s see who is so desperate that they can?t just leave a message," Julian said with some irritation and some amusement at the way Caitlin ordered him about.

His demeanor changed in an instant as he saw the name on the caller display was Sonny. This could only be an emergency so he excused himself to the hallway and answered the call. "What is it Sonny?" Julian asked with some urgency.

"I thought you were never going to answer Julian. This is real bad! It?s Daedalus." Sonny said, waiting for a response from his Sire.

"Julian, are you there?"

"Sonny, is he, is Daedalus--look, just tell me!"

"Daedalus ventured out today, I presume to visit Elaine, and don?t worry about the way he looked. He took care to wear a wig and looked like most anybody else, just like always, but as he was crossing the street to her apartment a car came flying around the corner and hit him. He was in the street and there was blood everywhere!" Sonny told this to Julian waiting for instructions but he was only met with eerie silence.

"Julian, I know he?s your oldest friend. What do you want me to do?"

"Sonny, did Elaine see it happen?" Julian asked with some concern in his voice.

"I don?t think she saw it happen but she saw the afterma--, I mean she saw him laying there in the street and was down there with him in a flash before anyone else really had the chance to show up." Sonny reassured him.

`"How did you find out about this Sonny?" asked Julian, somewhat perplexed.

"Elaine somehow had the presence of mind to borrow someone?s cell phone and call Lillie immediately and she and Cash were there almost instantly. Sasha and Cash came on his bike and got him up to Elaine?s apartment as quickly as possible. Lillie met them there and called me and on her way. I went right over to ask Elaine what she saw and heard. It was more to keep her preoccupied while Cash and Lillie revived Daedalus. She really didn?t want to leave him but they assured her he was going to be alright and it was best to give me a statement as soon as possible." Sonny informed Julian.

"Is Daedalus going to be alright Sonny? Was anyone else with you?" Julian asked with some fear in his voice.

Sonny assured Julian that Daedalus was all right now and being nursed and fussed over by Elaine. She was serving him herbal tea as they spoke. Also that Sonny?s partner was not with him because they weren?t on duty then.

"That?s very fortunate. What about his injuries?" asked Julian "Did he lose much blood?"

"He lost some blood but he?ll be ok. Lillie wrapped his wounds and told Elaine she would send around a family Dr. to attend to Daedalus? injuries so she wouldn?t attempt to deal with the bandages." Sonny told him. "The trick will be for him to feed until he is "reasonably" ready to move. Lillie is working on that now."

"Have him moved to the mansion and give Elaine full access to visit him whenever she wishes or even stay there until he is, as you say, "reasonably" ready to move. I?ll be home in a few hours and will send word ahead to prepare a couple of guestrooms. I?ll call Lillie to set this up so Elaine won?t suspect that she lives there too." Julian said, setting things in motion.

"Julian, you brought Sasha into our world once and I know you have regrets, but do you--"

"Sonny, I know what I did and I will keep that in mind while Elaine comes to my home." Julian cut in.

"I?m sorry, Julian. I just thought, you know, maybe you forgot for a minute because you were so concerned about Daedalus that, . . .well I?ll see to it that Daedalus is moved as soon as you give me the signal." Sonny apologized.

"It?s alright Sonny." said Julian, "I understand. The main thing is that Daedalus is going to be alright and that the masquerade isn?t exposed."

Julian next called Lillie and concocted a plan to have Daedalus and Elaine put up at the mansion but to make it appear that Lillie was there as a family friend. Elaine knew there was a connection between Julian and Lillie and she also knew that Cash was Julian?s body guard so the circle of friends would include Daedalus. It was really quite simple when they talked about it but they would have to convince Elaine of this. Perhaps the explanation should come from their injured friend who decided to take himself for a walk during the daylight just to visit Elaine. Julian wondered what could have been so important that he felt he needed to go out in broad daylight anyway. He would find out later but for the time being the important thing was to take care of their friend.

With Daedalus safely transported to Julian?s mansion and Elaine set up in a room across the hall the only thing to do was to tie up loose ends at the Police Dept. Sonny had to file the Police Report but had no accident victim, ambulance, EMT or Dr.?s report yet.

This would be easier if he and Frank were on better terms because Frank would be more inclined to let it go through suspecting the victim of being Kindred and because of his agreement with Julian, but since that mournful night when they laid Archon to rest and Frank saw him at the grave side their relationship had become strained. Frank requested a new partner and while Sonny fought it he was powerless to stop it. The only good thing that came from this difficult situation was that Frank seemed to be laying off trying to hunt down "Vampires." Still Sonny would have rather talked it out with Frank instead of having this estrangement between them. They had become trusted, caring friends and Sonny was hurt that Frank refused to even meet with him to hash it out.

At first Frank called in sick and then when his sick leave was up he requested annual leave. When that was depleted he requested a new partner. He said he and Sonny had their differences and they just couldn?t seem to work them out. It would be better for the force if he had a new partner. This was done behind closed doors and without Sonny present because he was tied up with another investigation while Frank had been on annual leave. Since Sonny was already working with a different partner when Frank came back to work their boss agreed. If they couldn?t work out their differences then this would be as good a time as any to get Frank a new partner. Julian knew this was hard for Sonny and he also missed the occasional meetings he had with Frank but there was important "family" business to tend to and any feelings they had about Frank had to be put on the back burner.

New Revelations

Their first night in Julian?s mansion was very strange for Daedalus and Elaine. For Daedalus? part it was a new situation being a guest pretending to need attention and not being a regular inmate. Not to mention the fact that his own dwelling was just below the room he was now staying in. For Elaine, she would have rather kept Daedalus at her own apartment but after discussing it with Sasha and Lily, she agreed that Julian had people who could look after Daedalus when she went to work. It was just so strange staying in a mansion with strangers where she could never really be alone with her own thoughts. The one good thing about it was that she had someone else to take care of and had no time to worry about her own dark problems.

She would not stay in the room across the hall from his and would not allow anyone else to tend to his needs except when the Dr. visited. She didn?t mistrust Julian?s servants or Julian himself and everyone was quite pleasant and kind to them both but her anxieties resurfaced each time she had to leave him alone. He would reassure Elaine that he was all right and in good hands but the only time she would leave him was when she went to work at the Haven.

The lie had to be carried out so that Elaine would not be suspicious. If Daedalus recovered too quickly from his injuries she would require an explanation so she must be made to think he was in need of care until he could be up and around on his own.

This, more than anything was unbelievably difficult for Daedalus. Not so much the lie but the lying in bed. He was well and wanted to get out of bed to live his life and he must not while she was there.

Elaine could tell he was becoming restless and, like a lot of men, was not a particularly good patient. This she expected so she was prepared to read to him whatever he desired. She would sing to him and share her meals with him. All of these things Daedalus cherished and they made him love her more because of her deep devotion to him but he had to find a way to talk to Julian alone and tonight would be the night.

"She?s left now for the club Daedalus." Julian informed him. "She looked a bit pale. I hope she?s all right. Probably just more out of concern for you than anything else but I?ll have my servants keep an eye on her."

"Julian, she seemed weak but I think you are right. Elaine has a kind and caring nature and it is her way of dealing with what happened today. I am grateful to you for your concern for her and your offer to keep an eye on her." Daedalus said with relief.

"So what inspired you to go out during the day to visit Elaine?" Julian chided. "Couldn?t it wait until after dark?"

Daedalus paused a moment and said, "finally I can tell you what was so important that I was so distracted while I crossed the street to get to her apartment."

Daedalus prepared to confess his mistake to Julian. "I lost something in her apartment and I have to get it back or it will not be long before I am powerless as your Primogen Julian."

Julian wasn?t exactly sure what Daedalus referred to when it suddenly came to him. "You mean you lost it?" Julian said with a real concern in his voice.

"Look, I am sure it is in her apartment but I lost sight of it before I left yesterday. I was looking at her, sleeping. She was so beautiful and serene that I never thought to make sure I had it with me. It was in my vest pocket when I got there but when I was getting ready to leave it must have fallen out. If she finds it before I do--"

"If she finds it before you do," Julian interjected impatiently, "she won?t know what it is and she could be in real danger."

"Julian, do you think I have not considered this? That is why I had to go to her apartment as soon as I realized I did not have it anymore. There are forces in that ring that could do her real harm." Daedalus was truly afraid for Elaine.

"We?ll go to her apartment together tonight while she is at the club and find it." Julian told him. "I?ll have my other car brought around."

"If we show up in your car, someone might see us. It would be better if I went alone and entered her apartment the way I always do." Daedalus said.

"Very well Daedalus. Just make sure you?re back before Elaine arrives from the club."

Their plan decided, Daedalus flew to Elaine?s apartment and, as Elaine had done, he searched desperately but the ring was not in sight. He knew what this ring meant to his clan and if he had lost it he would have lost the right to be their Primogen because it was a sacred symbol to the Nosferatu. Each clan had one and their Primogen wore it on his/her finger.

"I can not believe this!" Daedalus exclaimed in his frenzy. "If she had found it, surely she would have told me and yet she has not said a wor--" Daedalus stopped mid thought. "If she found it yesterday just before my accident, that would explain how it happened. I am too much in tune with my surroundings to have something like this happen to me and yet I never knew the car was coming." This horrified Daedalus.

"She must have found it and looked into it. There can be no other explanation for what happened to me." Daedalus understood now that she had looked into the ring and some of his power was released the very moment he lost his awareness of the oncoming cars. This was more serious than even he had realized.

He phoned Julian from Elaine?s apartment and told him of his grim discovery, knowing that not only was his future as Julian?s Primogen hanging in the balance, but Elaine?s life was also in danger because of the powers she unwittingly released from his ring.

"You?ve looked everywhere Daedalus?" Julian asked pensively.

"I have turned everything upside down and it is just not here. It seems fantastic but it has vanished!" Daedalus said with real angst in his voice.

"Look, Daedalus, get back here now so you will be here when Elaine arrives. We?ll figure this out somehow. Since she?s here all day the rest of us will scour her place and the rest of the premises." Julian tried to sound relaxed to allay Daedalus? fears.

"Alright I will come back now. I just hope you are right about finding the ring. If no one else looks at it maybe the masquerade will not be endangered." Daedalus sighed.

They hung up and after straightening up the mess he had made of Elaine?s apartment he flew back to Julian?s mansion, just before Elaine arrived.

"Nothing like cutting it close!" Julian half scolded, half chided his friend. Remember what I said. We?ll find it. You know, maybe you should ask Elaine about it."

"I do not think that would be a good idea Julian. If she did not actually see it she could go looking for it and then she might be the one to find it. Then I have to worry about what might not have happened, actually happening." Daedalus made a valid point. Julian would have to get his Gangrels to find the ring and fast! If it fell into the wrong hands it could have cataclysmic effects on the world as he knew it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Daedalus noted Elaine?s general fatigue and decided it must be from the stress of dealing with the accident and moving to Julian?s mansion. If she would allow Julian?s servants to pamper her a little bit perhaps she would get more rest, and yet he had begun to see a slight change in her energy level and the eyes that were once bright and shining were beginning to look tired and drained. The more he thought about this the more concerned he became.

"Elaine, I know this has been a terrible experience for you but you need to know that I will be fine. In fact I feel well enough to get out of bed." Daedalus reassured her when she returned from the club, weary and exhausted.

"Daedalus, you can?t imagine the horror I felt when I looked down upon you and saw your face and your body wracked by those cars. There was so much blood everywhere that I can?t believe you could be ready to get up this soon. What did the Dr. say? Does he think you are recovering well enough to get out of bed?" Elaine worried that he might be trying to appear stronger than he was just for her benefit.

"Dear one, do you remember the night I held off those two bikers at the club behind the stage? If you had seen them you would know they were much younger and bigger than I am (not the truth but she never saw them so he could say it and make her believe it) and yet they were not going anywhere until the Police arrived. I am a lot stronger than I look and I am feeling much better now." Daedalus wove the tale and actually made her believe it with the fading powers that he had. Even he was amazed that he could still exercise some power without the ring.

It wasn?t really the ring that gave him the power of the Nosferatu but it symbolized what he was and the strength of his clan. It did hold some mystique and it helped make him the strong leader that he was which made it even more important that he recover it before his clansmen found out that it was not in his possession. None had really challenged him except Goth and he was dead now so if he could keep it from his clan and find the ring perhaps none ever needed to know. It was good that he was away from them now or they might become suspicious because Daedalus almost never removed it unless he felt the power of it would endanger the masquerade when amongst humans. Still he was living on borrowed time now and soon, if he did not find it, his vulnerability would be exposed to the rest of his clan. Then, not only would his position as Primogen be in peril, but his life as well. It could be deadly if they determined he had been reckless with the symbol of their heritage.

"I am sorry you had to see me in that state Elaine. The whole scene probably looked much worse than it really was." Daedalus soothed her. "Please do not worry about me. It is you I am concerned about. I think you have experienced real exhaustion and you should get more rest. You sleep in tomorrow and catch up a little."

Elaine was about to agree with him but first she felt she needed to confess to Daedalus what happened with the ring.

"I have something to tell you that I had forgotten about when I heard the cars crashing and the glass breaking. It was such a terrible moment but now I feel I have to explain something to you Daedalus. I only hope you won?t be too angry with me." Elaine was wrung out and suddenly hung her head as if to shield him from her tears as she tried to fight back the shame she felt for losing something that must be of great value to him.

"Whatever it is, I could never be angry at you. Please do not give it another thought. You were obviously grieved by seeing me lying in the street but it is over now and you can see that I am fine. The Dr. says I am recovering nicely, so whatever you did, just put it out of your mind for now. There will be time to--."

"Daedalus!" she interrupted, "I found something under my bed the day of your accident and picked it up to see what it was. It frightened me a little because it seemed to change in appearance as I looked closely at it. That was when I heard the first crash. It startled me so that I dropped it and when I tried to find it I actually felt it on my finger as I heard the second crash. That?s when I ran to the window and saw you. I don?t know what happened next, but I think the ring fell off my little finger and out of the window. I?m so sorry Daedalus. I know it must be a family heirloom or an antique but I never meant to lose it." Elaine sobbed, wracked by the revelation she gave him as he was recovering from this terrible accident.

Daedalus? eyes became blacker than she had ever seen them and as she covered her face in fear, he reached out to her and drew her to him with such strength that he almost suffocated her in his bedclothes. She didn?t make a sound or move for a moment which made him relax his hold on her a little. She stirred and began to sob again, this time however out of relief. He wasn?t angry with her. She didn?t understand what he was feeling just then but she was relieved.

She stayed in his arms that night and while she slept he stroked her hair and sometimes tightened his hold on her out of the great emotion he felt at the relief that she had given him the answer he sought about the ring. At least he knew now that it was not in her apartment. There was hope that it would be found but it had to be very soon.

While Elaine slept in his sheltering embrace Julian crept into his friend?s room and they spoke briefly in hushed tones.

"She told you what happened?" Julian reaffirmed.

"It must have fallen out of the window as she ran to it and saw me lying in the street. It might be on the street below her apartment. At least we know it is not in her apartment." Daedalus whispered.

"You?re sure you left no stone unturned tonight Daedalus?"

"Yes. I am sure. I just hope I left her apartment as she left it so she does not suspect that anyone was there. Julian, I do not want to lie to her. She means everything to me but this is too dangerous, and in fact, I do not want her to go back there. At least not until the ring is found. You know the magic it holds is powerful but even I did not know how powerful until she told me the events that lead up to my accident. It happened just as she looked into the image." Daedalus asserted.

"We?ll find it if we have to look around the clock Daedalus. Try not to worry." Julian tried to reassure his friend but even he knew they were dealing with ancient forces that were dangerous and difficult to control.

Daedalus didn?t say anything else but he looked at Elaine, then slowly raised his eyes and looked at Julian with such pain and then closed them and rested his head on hers. Julian understood. It was his fear for her that made him venture out that day and it was his fear for her life now that made him press Julian to find the ring.

That night Elaine slept but her sleep was not peaceful. She had dreams and Daedalus wasn?t sure whether or not they were caused by the forces from the ring she had looked into but he knew she was sorely troubled. Each time she would flinch in her sleep it awakened him and brought him more distress. His injuries were healed but he thought he actually felt real pain in his chest as though the glass and metal had caused real, severe injury that he had not recovered from. This wasn?t possible but what could cause such human pain in this man who was no longer human?

Daedalus didn?t realize it at first but as he carefully reached inside his nightshirt and checked for the wounds that were no longer there Elaine stirred. As she saw him checking his bandages she cried out thinking that she had somehow caused him more physical pain. She insisted on seeing his wounds but he refused, saying he was just feeling a little irritation there but he was fine. She persisted for a few moments but he finally convinced her and as she settled back into his arms he finally realized what caused this horrible pain. It was like someone had plunged a sharp knife into his chest and was twisting it until he could not handle the pain. This was the fear and the love he felt for Elaine. He could not live without her and yet he could not live with this pain. He must or Julian must do something to find the ring and with great speed. This could not go on another night. This revelation had a greater impact on Daedalus than Elaine?s account of finding his ring.

A Turning Point

Cash and his Gangrels had scoured the apartment, the sidewalk and street below it and even between the ridges of the bricks outside that the hotel was made from and the ring was nowhere to be found. Without the ring he could no longer be Primogen and the others might no longer acknowledge his clan. They were one of the oldest, if not the oldest and yet without this symbol of who they were and are, what would become of them?

By this time the other Nosferatu were becoming suspicious. Daedalus was lingering in the mansion to keep Elaine there with him, safe from the wicked world that had become more so because of the power released from the ring and his clansmen were beginning to sense that things were not right. It had been almost a week and still no word from him. They were not the type to panic if their Primogen were absent but he had never been silent toward them for so long and it made them aware that he was hiding from them.

Daedalus was concerned that his clansmen would not stay below ground forever while he held them at bay hoping daily that the ring would be found. Elaine began to feel a little strange because she sensed that Daedalus was better now and could probably be moved at least to his own place, wherever that was, or to her apartment. She could not understand what kept him there. She had no idea it was solely for her protection. The Nosferatu would never come to the mansion except to join him in his own dwelling in the tunnel below it so he must keep her there and away from her apartment if the ring were still there somewhere, albeit, hidden from everyone?s sight.

The day came when the truth would have to come out and Julian knew it was approaching fast. He called the Nosferatu together in the tunnel below his mansion and asked for their patience. Without telling them why Daedalus was absent from them so long he did persuade them to hold on a little while longer.

"I?m not making this a command," said their Prince, "I am beseeching you. I need to know I have your support while Daedalus assists me in resolving a matter of highest importance to all of the clans. If you will not accost him and wait patiently upon Daedalus you will be performing the greatest service to him and to me, and I will be eternally grateful to you all in the best way possible."

There was some dissent amongst the Nosferatu but Julian reminded them "don?t forget that I defeated Goth and I will not tolerate an uprising against Daedalus."

Those dissenters backed down but did so grudgingly. Julian sensed this and added again that their patience and support at this difficult time would be richly rewarded. None questioned what the reward would be. Most were loyal and would support Daedalus and Julian in whatever it was they were involved with. A few who were closest to Daedalus followed Julian a little ways out of Daedalus? home and reassured Julian they would keep any problematic clansmen in check. Julian was grateful for this show of support and told Daedalus when he had a little time alone with him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The more time slipped away, the surer Daedalus was that he would have to slip away from Elaine and meet his fate at the hands of his clansmen. The only way he could do this and know that he had not failed her was to make her forget him. His days were probably numbered anyway and she was still so young that she would meet a human man one day and live the life she was meant to live.

Julian tried to reassure Daedalus that he had bought him time with the Nosferatu and he had all of the Gangrels out there searching. It would be just a matter of time and they would find the ring. Daedalus was not as sure so he began making arrangements for his fast approaching final moments on this earth. Julian did not like this but could not keep him from doing it. Daedalus pointed out that Julian would do the same thing in his circumstances so there was nothing else to do and Elaine must be made to forget him.

"If she is made to forget you, she is made to forget the best part of her existence. It is you she loves and no other could take your place in her heart so it would be unkind to take that memory from her, no matter how short a time you?ve had together." Julian reasoned.

Daedalus said nothing, just sat resolutely in a chair in Julian?s study waiting for Elaine to return from the club.

"Why do you have to make her forget you?" Julian asked.

Still nothing from Daedalus.

"I understand your pain and I know I probably would do the same if I were in your situation but to be so determined is folly Daedalus." Julian dared to antagonize his friend.

"Folly? If I do not do this, what happiness can she have in her future life? If she remembers what we have had these months she will be tormented endlessly. Better she forgets a few months of her life with me than wish to end it all because we are not together anymore." Daedalus insisted. "Elaine is still quite young and will find someone new to love if she is not haunted by the love she has lost. My mind is made up Julian. I do not wish to leave this world or your company, but this was my error and I must pay the price. The sooner I have taken the steps to prepare myself, as Archon did, the better it will be for all concerned."

Julian was exasperated and this last comment cut him deeply because he still grieved the loss of his Sire and mentor and now he was faced with the Final Death of his closest friend. This was too much! He could not and would not allow anyone to take the life of his loyal companion. Let any try and they would first have to go through the Prince of the City! This would be no idle threat. Julian was prepared, as he was when he met Goth and subdued him, so he would do with any Nosferatu or other clan that defied him. Daedalus had sanctuary in his home and this would never change.

"You may have given up Daedalus but I have not and I am as determined to keep you alive and you are to die!" Julian told him sharply.

Daedalus slowly looked up at Julian and reached for his hand to kiss it. "I do not wish to bring you pain or to anger you Julian. I will keep more positive thoughts until we have exhausted all possibilities." Daedalus sought Julian?s forgiveness.

Daedalus and Julian became locked a gaze that said the love they felt for each other had stood the test of time and would still stand through whatever they face now and in the future.

Just as the moment passed between them Elaine walked into the room. She was not used to walking the halls of Julian?s mansion and she did not intend to intrude on their business.

"I?m sorry I didn?t realize you were conducting business. I probably should not have ventured down this wing but you have made me feel so welcome that I just thought I would take a look at the pictures in the hallway. I?ll leave." Elaine apologized to Julian.

"It?s not necessary to leave Elaine. I do want you to feel like this is your home too as long as you?re staying here." Julian reassured her.

Neither Julian nor Daedalus was sure what Elaine might have heard before entering the study but they knew they had to have more private discussions in the future. It would be difficult with her staying there but it was imperative that they do so for her protection and to protect the masquerade.

"Sir," said one of Julian?s servants, "there is a call from Detective Kohanek."

This was out of the blue but Julian covered his surprise well while in Elaine?s presence. "I?ll take the call in the next room. Will you please excuse me Elaine? I have some important business to take care of. I?ll rejoin you and Daedalus in a few minutes."

Elaine was happy to see Daedalus up and around. He had obviously been talking to Julian about something serious but as Julian left the study Daedalus reached out for her and brought her close to his heart. If she were not weak she might have noticed that it was not beating at that moment. As it was, she was barely aware of her own heart beating. Sometimes she wondered if it beat at all. She was feeling more tired as the days went on but she always gratefully responded to his caresses.

Daedalus began to realize that she needed to sit down and led her to an over stuffed chair and brought a little wine to revive her.

"You have not been sleeping well lately and I am concerned that you have become over wrought because of my accident. I want to take care of you but I do not know what is wrong with you." Daedalus pleaded with her.

Elaine wanted to tell him now but she didn?t have the strength and just sat there staring at him, wanting to allay his fears but her waning heart left her exhausted and so she said nothing.

Startling Discoveries

"Frank? It?s been a long time. Have you decided to forgive Sonny and me?" Julian said with a slightly sarcastic tone.

"Julian, I have official business to talk to you about and normally I would say it has nothing to do with you or Sonny but somehow I think that it does. I want to meet with you at the diner when I?m off duty in a few hours." Frank said with more than just slight sarcasm in his voice.

"I?ll be there. This better be important. I?m a very busy man these days Frank." Julian said.

"Just be there Julian. I believe I may have something you will want to take a look at. If you?re not interested, maybe someone else in the precinct will be. It?s ugly as all get out. It gives me the creeps but in spite of my personal feelings about you and Sonny, I think it?s important to show it to you." Frank told him.

Julian met Frank as he agreed to and when they had been served Frank pulled a little parcel out of his inside jacket pocket. It was a jeweler?s pouch with a drawstring. He dangled it by the strings and waved it in front of Julian as if to raise his interest in it?s contents. Contents that by now Julian was beginning to suspect was the very item his Gangrels had been searching night and day to find.

"You expect me to ask you what you have in that little bag?" Julian asked with some disdain. "What are you up to Frank?"

"Like I said, it?s creepy but given the kind of creepy things that I associate with your kind I do think it?s something you are looking for. You see, I noticed a lot of activity outside of the Fostoria Hotel where the singer Elaine Robb lives and it seems that someone was looking for a very important item given the fact that they seem to be there around the clock. I thought it was odd so I kept an eye on them although I was discreet until they finally left. You see Julian, I was there before they were and I found this item right on the edge of the grate in the gutter below her apartment. It was just kind of teetering there like it could fall through the grate any minute. So I picked it up and when I looked at it, it gave me a strange feeling that it belonged to someone who is involved in some cult or something. I didn?t intend to keep it but when I came back to see if someone would try to find it I saw your Gangrels there. They were all over the place and weren?t too concerned that someone would see them." Frank reported this to Julian as if it would anger him.

"I did send them to find a ring of very great value. Frank if you have that ring you are in real danger. Danger that even I could not protect you from." Julian said waiting for Frank?s reaction.

"You?re still trying to protect me even though I?ve walked away from you and Sonny?" Frank asked incredulously.

"Frank, I gave Alexandra my word. I have to keep it and not only that, I thought we had broken down a few barriers and had a decent working relationship. We brought down the Night Stalker together and I could have sworn we had finally hit on something akin to friendship that night. Was I wrong?" Julian asked with a little hurt in his voice.

"Uh, yeah we did, but then I found out that my trusted partner was really one of your kind. It wasn?t the kind of thing I wanted to find out but I did." Frank defended himself.

"Oh, I see. That?s why you showed up at Archon?s funeral and that?s when you first knew that Sonny was Kindred? Why were you there that night Frank? Are you going to tell me you never suspected that he was on of us?" Julian accused Frank.

"You know Frank, it was Sonny who gave you the Phosphorus gun to protect you from Eddie Fiore. He really thought Eddie was the one who was going to visit you at night to Embrace you and make you Brujah." Julian informed him in Sonny?s defense.

This was clearly news to Frank. His expression said it all. He was shocked to find out that Sonny was the one making those calls to him using the voice-altering device. It took a moment to sink in but finally Frank realized that Sonny was really there to guide him along and, yes, and to protect him. He knew now that Sonny was serving his Prince but he was also looking out for his partner.

"So," Frank confirmed, "I am to understand that Sonny was looking out for my life and at the same time following your orders because you made a vow to protect me?"

Julian looked at Frank in a way that affirmed this.

"Ok, I can see that but it irks me that Sonny continually tried to convince me that you were not "Kindred."

"Frank, that was also for your protection. You got close to us and we worked together well while you didn?t know Sonny was Kindred. In fact, I sired him Frank so he really put his neck on the line because he had to infiltrate Eddie?s clan making him think Sonny was turning against me and planning to help Eddie kill me. It was the only way to force Eddie?s hand. It worked but in the process Eddie did almost kill me." Julian confessed a lot to Frank but it had to be said to earn his trust again.

"Alright, I can see some of it but you?ll have to give me some time to chew on all of this. I still don?t like it that Sonny--"

"Frank!" Julian interrupted impatiently, "Sonny did my bidding and he did it to stay close to you and help me keep you alive. The fact is, Alexandra set it in motion. She was the one who pleaded for your life."

Frank finally conceded and just nodded. Then he remembered the ring.

"Now to the reason I called you here. I found this ring and because I suspected it was the thing your Gangrels were looking for I decided to do a little detective work of my own. I went to the library where I found a lot of information about the Kindred and what I found confirmed that this ring has real power. In fact, it contains forces that could be deadly if it fell into the wrong hands so I put it away and kept it safe until I could show it to you."

Frank was about to take it out of the pouch when Julian stopped him.

"Please don?t take it out. Just by looking at it earlier you have exposed yourself to the very danger you read about at the library. I don?t have to see it to know it?s what we?ve been looking for. So are you going to give it to me?" Julian asked.

"Do I have a choice? You could just take it from me."

"Frank I won?t do that. You know that it has to be returned to the rightful owner or it will release forces so evil into the atmosphere that even I won?t be able to harness. It belongs to one of my Primogens and he will be glad to have it back." Julian told him.

"Yes I know it has these "forces" as you say, and I don?t want to be responsible for ruining the world." Frank said sarcastically.

"Yes we helped to make this world a wicked place but we didn?t do it all by ourselves and now I?m trying to work with you to make it a little less so. So I?ll ask you again, Frank are you going to give the ring to me?"

Frank gave Julian a sidelong look and even a slight smile and handed him the pouch.

"Before you leave Julian, I have one more question."

Julian felt it coming. He wanted to know how the ring of his Primogen got outside of Elaine?s apartment so he answered the question before Frank could ask it.

"Why was the ring outside of Ms. Robb?s apartment? Because she is involved with this Primogen. She doesn?t know what he is but they are in love with each other and he lost it in her apartment. She found it and it was on her little finger when he was involved in an accident in the street below her apartment. She ran to the window to see what had happened and saw him lying in the street covered with blood and in her shock and horror the ring fell off her finger and landed on the grate below her window. She didn?t share this with him until much later and that?s when I sent my Gangrels to find it, not knowing you had found it first." Julian said knowing he had given Frank a lot to mull over.

"Your Primogen is having an affair with Elaine Robb and she doesn?t know who or what he is?" Frank was again incredulous.

"She knows his name and that he loves her and would never allow any harm to come to her but she doesn?t know he?s Kindred." Julian answered.

Frank didn?t exactly know what to think of this but he remembered his affair with Alexandra and knew it was only a matter of time before it would have to end.

"Poor Elaine will have to go on without him someday or he will have to Embrace her. Either way it?s going to be tough on her." Frank sympathized.

"It will be tough on both of them. I know what you?re thinking Frank and you?re right. It?s not fair but in a way, Elaine wanted him in her life so now she?s got him there. In fact they have been staying at my mansion since it happened because of the potential danger from the lost ring. Now that it?s been found, things can go back to normal and she can return to her apartment. You see Frank, we do care about you humans and in our own way, we do try to keep you safe."

"I guess I have a lot to be thankful for." Frank quipped. "I?ll try to remember that the next time I fall for one of your Kindred women."

"I hope for your sake you never do again Frank." Julian said sincerely and with a genuine concern in his eyes.

"Yeah, I guess you would also know what that?s like. Wouldn?t you." agreed Frank.

"I do and whether I like to admit it or not, it can?t last forever.

"You mean you?d have to embrace Caitlin or let her go someday?" Frank asked.

"That?s right Frank and right now I can?t allow either to happen but someday it will come to that. There are no easy choices. All I can promise is that I will do whatever it takes to make it as easy on Caitlin as I can. If I suffer the loss that?s my choice because I knew when I went into the relationship that it couldn?t last but she didn?t know it. If she suffered when it was over it would be harder for me and I can?t bear to see her suffer so I will do whatever is necessary to keep that from happening." Julian confided to Frank.

It had been a long time since the two had talked and shared a confidence and Frank found renewed interest in their friendship, if you could call it that. Now he felt a certain compulsion to straighten things out with Sonny. Harboring ill will toward an old friend didn?t feel right to Frank and he really missed Sonny?s companionship so he knew what he had to do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Frank called Sonny?s cell # and left a message to meet him. Sonny wasted no time after he found out that Frank and Julian had talked and seemed to iron out some of their differences. He pulled into the Police station parking lot and waited in his car. He was off duty and would just wait for Frank. It didn?t take long before he saw Frank pull in next to him. Frank motioned for Sonny to get in his car so they could talk in private. It seemed a little strange to them both and yet it was a relief knowing they would settle things this night.

"Frank, I?m glad you called. It?s been a long time. Thanks for wanting to get this all out in the open."

"Well Sonny I figured it was time. If you weren?t going to do it then I?d have to." Frank teased.

 

Sonny almost choked on his coffee when he saw the coy grin on Frank?s face and knew Frank was kidding. This more than anything else was what Sonny had hoped for after these long months of silence from his former partner. It signaled the healing was about to begin and maybe even the friendship resumed.

"Hey man, you almost had me going there for a minute." Sonny said laughing.

"I know. It was me who put on the brakes before but since I?ve talked to Julian I feel different about you. I guess I needed some time to get over it all. It was pretty shocking seeing you at the family crypt on Julian?s property that night." Frank confessed. "Who were you burying anyway?"

"His name was Archon Raine and he was Julian?s Sire." Sonny said respectfully.

"His Sire?" Frank knew what that meant and realized it was a tragic moment for Julian as well as Sonny. Archon had sired Julian and Julian had sired Sonny. Where did it end?

"I know you know that Julian is my Sire," said Sonny carefully. "I suppose you are wondering who I sired." Sonny said a little reluctantly.

"Well you just read my mind Sonny."

"I haven?t sired anyone. It?s a very serious and private matter and it has to be done judiciously, not just whenever we feel like it. The other person has to really want to be Embraced or it?s not allowed. It?s not exactly Kindred law but it?s Julian?s law. He?s our Prince and he demands a high price for one who embraces someone against their will." Sonny reassured Frank. "You remember Zane? That's what he did and he died for it."

"Have you ever wanted to sire someone Sonny?"

"I?ve thought about it once or twice but there wasn?t a need. It was more of a choice, and I chose not to do it. I was able to make him forget what he had seen or knew and so it wasn?t necessary." Sonny said somewhat guardedly, not looking directly at Frank.

Frank raised one eyebrow and looked into Sonny?s eyes. "It was me, wasn?t it."

"Yes. The night that little boy Abel was returned to the hospital. You had seen one of our Primogens with him and then you saw my eyes change and you knew I was Kindred. I was able to make you forget so nothing more was needed. I did it to save your life and because I genuinely care about you Frank." Sonny said quietly.

Sonny felt compassion for Frank and truly cared about him as a partner and as a close friend. They had gone through a lot together and he didn?t want it all to end that day.

Frank massaged his neck and looked at Sonny knowingly and the two shared a quick smile.

"I understand you were the one who would call me with that instrument that alters the voice. Now that I think of it, you never were with me when the calls would come in. You knew me well enough that you knew what I would do each time. You?re pretty smart Sonny. I?ll give you that." Frank said, with some warmth.

"I do care about you and I only wanted to help you. You know, ease you into the Kindred world because you already knew it was there, so you needed to be fed a little at a time or you might choke on it, being the little hot head that you are." Sonny teased.

"Hot head, huh? Yeah I guess I was charging full speed ahead into things I didn?t know much about. But I gotta ask you something. You argued with me day after day about this and yet you stuck with me. Why? Why didn?t you just throw up your hands and walk away?" Frank asked.

"It?s like I said Frank, I like you and I care about what happens to you. But I also take my orders from Julian. Besides wanting to protect the masquerade and keep humans from hunting us down, he cares about you too. Not just for Alexandra?s sake, but because he genuinely likes you. You may not believe this but you?re a pretty likeable guy." Sonny joked.

"If you?re not Eddie Fiore."

"He got what he had coming to him and he paid a very high price."

"I never really heard much details about his death. Can you tell me what happened?" Frank asked.

"He tried to kill Julian and ended up killing his own hired assassin. I believe you saw pictures of someone trying to kill Julian with a big knife on Caitlin Byrne?s front lawn? Well she can shift shape and thought she would fool Julian?s bodyguard Cash by appearing as Julian in his study. She hadn?t counted on Eddie hiding in there and when she came in, he heard her, turned on her and shot her with a phosphorus gun. He left before Julian got there, thinking he really had killed Julian. The next day he called a meeting of the Primogens and said if no one challenged him he would become the next Prince of the City. That?s when Julian and I walked in on him and words were exchanged and before Eddie knew what hit him, he was separated from his head. That was his Final Death. So Julian remains our Prince."

Sonny had filled Frank in on the highlights and Frank began to feel like his old self again. It was good to sit with Sonny and talk about Police business. This was Police business too because Frank had hunted Eddie for a long time and was glad to hear he was out of business.

"So who did the deed? Julian?" Asked Frank off handedly.

"It was Lillie."

This caught Frank off guard. This time he almost choked on his coffee. He looked at Sonny as if he thought Sonny was joking. One look told him Sonny wasn?t. It was the last thing he expected to hear about Lillie. He knew she had sired Zane so she was capable of killing but this was a different kind of death. He blinked and tried to take it in.

"Is he the only one she has killed?" Frank asked shocked.

"No. She also killed Zane but it was not done the same way. After she realized that he really had embraced two young women against their will she knew the only justice was to kill him herself or she would have no place at Julian?s table as his Toreador Primogen and no place in his home. You see Frank, even though criminals would be put in jail in your world, it wouldn?t do any good to put Kindred in jail. Jails couldn?t hold us. Final Death is the only way to punish someone who murders for pleasure or unjustly." Sonny said.

"You?re right about that. I knew there was no way for me to deal with Zane?s crimes and your kind would be the ones to deal with him. Thanks for telling me about this Sonny. I have to tell you though, I?m gonna look at Lillie with new respect now. Man if she could lop off Eddie?s head and she could kill Zane when she was so nuts about him, what could she do to me? I haven?t always been so nice to her." Frank admitted.

"Don?t worry about Lillie. She knows Julian would have her head if she laid one finger on you and besides, I think she has kind of a crush on you anyway." Again the teasing.

Frank grinned and shook his head. "I think I?ll let her pursue me and not the other way around. I?ve had enough of Kindred lovers to last a lifetime."

As Sonny was getting out of the car, Frank said he supposed Julian had returned the ring to it?s rightful owner. Sonny assured him that he had so the world would be a better and safer place to live now. They said goodnight and each went their separate way. Frank to the diner and Sonny to Julian?s mansion to report his conversation with Frank.

How Will Love Last?

If there was one thing Daedalus knew, it was that time heals all wounds. His eternal wound had healed many centuries ago and now he was about to open a new one. The ring of the Nosferatu had been returned safely to him and the time for lies must come to an end. He hated to lie to Elaine and yet to protect her, he had felt that he must, but now it was time to set things straight and go on from here.

He had insisted that she stay at Julian?s mansion and Julian had seconded that emphatically and now Daedalus felt it was time to explain all things to her so that she could make the choice for herself. He worried about her each time he had to leave her, and this last fiasco had stressed him to the point that he actually felt human pain for her safety. This could not go on any longer.

There was something new to worry Daedalus too and that was Elaine?s failing health. Was it just over his accident and the stress she put on herself over losing his ring or was it something more? He wasn?t sure, but he felt she was keeping something from him. At first Daedalus didn't pick up on it but in time he realized her heart was becoming more faint and that it wasn't just due to his accident.

He took her hand and gently guided her to his home beneath Julian?s mansion. She didn?t know where they were going or why but she knew he was going to reveal something to her that she had wanted to know for a long time. She sensed this and walked with him obediently as they went through the tunnel hand in hand.

Daedalus stopped frequently for Elaine to rest because she seemed as though she could not take one more step. They made very slow progress until they finally came to a large, very old ornate door with an ancient handle that didn?t turn but rather unlatched. He turned to her and said she was about to see where he lived.

Daedalus was a little nervous about this disclosure but he was also determined to get on with the next part of their lives. Either she would accept this part of him and agree to live with him or she would not and he would have to make her forget about him. He could no longer go on visiting her apartment and keeping her in the dark about who and what he was. It was not fair to her and it was torment to him.

As they entered she caught the musky odor of a damp place that almost never had daylight enter it. This must be the hallway she thought. As they began their decent, she faltered a little and Daedalus caught her. From there he picked her up and carried her down the stairs. He was no longer worried about keeping the masquerade from her so if she thought he would be too weak to carry her, she would soon find out that he was not what she thought he was. She caught the faint scent of something like old paintings and as Daedalus turned on a light she saw the reason.

"Are these yours? I mean, did you paint these?" She asked strangely revived with excitement.

"I did. They are nothing great." Daedalus said humbly though happy to see her enthusiasm. Perhaps this environment is not too awful for her, he thought as he gently released her.

"Nothing great? They?re incredible! The colors and the subjects are just amazing." She exclaimed. "Why is this one slash--," she dropped it suddenly as she recognized the face as the Night Stalker.

"I am truly sorry Elaine. I kept that one to remind me daily what I went through that awful night. I was going out of my mind that night he took you to the Haven and I had to wait until I knew you were safe. You see I was across the street and saw you get into his Police car. When I found out later from Julian that he was the Night Stalker I told Julian you were with him and Julian found him and killed him.

"Julian?" exclaimed Elaine. "I thought the Police found him. He had been . . ."

"Yes that was what happened and I have tried to keep you from learning all these things but after I lost my ring in your apartment last week I exposed you to untold danger. This is why I will tell you now everything you wish to know about me because you have to make a choice and I will live with it." Daedalus said resolutely.

"Please sit here and have a glass of wine with me." He poured the wine and saw that she was comfortable. For Elaine?s part this was the moment she had lived for these long months and her questions were finally going to be answered. She actually felt revived with these disclosures coming from Daedalus.

"It all started for you and me over a year ago when I first came to your apartment because I loved you. No, it was before that. I was at the club the night Starkweather, the Night Stalker disrupted your performance there. I had left a note in your bag telling you I would do anything to ease your pain."

"I remember that night," Elaine said.

"I was so tortured by your pain that I inserted myself into your life and at that time I only wanted to watch over you and protect you so you would not feel more pain. I also loved you but I knew then that you could not love me as I am but as someone who looked the way I did the night I came to you and stayed." Daedalus said, not looking at the shame in her eyes.

"It is a human instinct to shrink in horror from someone who looks like me and I did not blame you for your reaction the next morning."

Elaine could not speak for the lump that used to appear in her throat and choke her had not been there for such a long time and suddenly it was there again. He was going to leave her because she had not accepted him back then. This was bitter pain and felt much like despair. She had longed for this conversation but now it was not turning out the way she had hoped it would. He had tried to forgive her but was not able to let go of the hurt she had caused him. She did not blame him for breaking off their relationship now but it hurt so bad that she let go a sob that was more from knowing she had hurt him so terribly than from knowing their love was ending now.

It slowly occurred to Elaine that perhaps it was best this way because she might not have to tell him about her heart after all. Daedalus did not hear the sob but he could tell something was causing her great distress and he went to her and held her until her spasms abated. He kept holding her and began to speak again. This time in a different vein.

"Elaine, I am not what most men are. You must surely have guessed this by now just from the way that I enter your apartment. This would not be possible for most and yet it is possible for my . . . my kind." He had to pause. How could he put this so that she believed him and would not be frightened? She had relaxed a little now and was calmer so he continued.

"You have witnessed things that most others have not and perhaps wondered how these things could happen or wondered what they meant." Daedalus began to prepare her for the truth about himself and the others.

"Daedalus, I have wondered but I didn?t think I should try to find out until I found the ring you lost in my apartment." Elaine confessed.

"That ring is not a family heirloom but it is quite old. Perhaps one of the oldest objects on earth. It has power that is both wonderful and at the same time deadly if not used in the right way. That was why I was coming to you the day of my accident. I had to find it before you did and would have to risk life and limb to do it. As it turns out, I did that, but I was prepared to. It was you who were not prepared for the danger when you found it and looked into it. For that I will never forgive myself. If any harm had come to you because of my negligence I could not have lived with myself."

He looked a long time into her eyes and the tears that escaped over her lashes tore at his heart. Again that human pain! He held her to his chest and wiped away one bloody tear that ran down his cheek.

"Elaine, I will never love anyone as I love you now and that will never change. What must change is the way that I have kept you in the dark about myself. I know now that my overconfidence could have cost you your life so I must tell you everything now and leave my fate in your hands." His voice sounded almost sorrowful and with great regrets.

As he told her the truth about who and what he was, and is, she sat nestled in his arms feeling as if she were hearing a myth or folklore. She had seen the ring and knew there was magic in it, especially as she began to grasp that it?s power had caused his accident that terrible day. She knew he was not like others but until now she still believed him human. Things of a cult nature had never made her feel threatened but this made her feel a little shaken. She sat up slightly and looked at him honestly for the first time.

Elaine had ceased to be frightened by his appearance and even liked to run her finger down his oddly misshapen ears and had found his lack of hair sensually pleasing. Whatever the reason for his baldness it only made him seem a more tragic and romantic figure to her and if it was part of the reason he was no longer a human man then so be it. What he had suffered initially when embraced was enough to convince her that he went through much pain, and to have existed for thousands of years this way, living under the ground out of regard for humans who would have tried to kill him was punishment enough for anyone. She looked to him with the greatest respect and love and he was telling her this account of his life for a reason.

By now she gathered he was not leaving her and the relief she felt from that knowledge helped her to listen and accept what Daedalus told her that day. She knew why he was able to enter her apartment through the window and what part he had in saving her life from the Night Stalker. She also had something that she had not told Daedalus about. The night she talked to Lillie at the Haven and as she told him about her conversation with Lillie and the events that happened after that night, they both began to see that Lily had brought them together. Elaine now understood that Lillie, Julian and Cash and Sasha were Kindred as well and that was the secret they kept that intrigued her. Perhaps she was meant to know all these things because her life seemed tangled up with theirs and they were all people she liked and respected. They had all worked toward one end, to protect her from harm. What was so terrible about them that people wanted to kill them? She had no such desire but then she knew them personally and would never turn on them. But Daedalus had told her when he was born and when he was embraced. This was very hard to fathom. Her life was so short in comparison.

In time Elaine would fathom it for she started to make a plan in her mind about her future. She understood that to become Kindred one had to die and leave behind their human existence. Her time seemed closer than she had realized and as the days went by and she missed her club appearances she knew in her heart that this was so. Lillie reassured her that she would recover and her place at the Haven was secure but Elaine suspected now that Lillie had something else in mind. She didn?t expect Elaine to recover but rather to be Embraced.

Lillie knew that if Daedalus Embraced Elaine that she would never be able to go out publicly without covering her freakish features. She wanted Elaine to enjoy the feeling of being free of life?s restraints and to carry on with her career so she knew if Elaine were to be Embraced it would have to be by her. Knowing that Daedalus planned to tell Elaine all, she discreetly followed them to his home and listened to their words, waiting for the moment she could make her offer to Embrace Elaine.

"Elaine, . . .my dear one, I feel you are slipping away from me and I, with all my Kindred power can not stop it. If I embraced you, you could live forever at my side here in my, no-our home. But to condemn you to this life would bring you little happiness and yet to see you this way, so weak, so frail, brings me pain I can no longer endure." Daedalus groaned inwardly trying to hide his despair and deep sadness.

"Daedalus, I would live by your side forever if you would Embrace me." Elaine managed to utter these words while gasping for breath.

Her breathing was now uneven and her pulse was becoming weaker. This was the moment Lillie was waiting for.

"Daedalus, Elaine, I am so sorry to intrude on you at a time like this but I believe I can help you both. Please let me do this Daedalus. She could come and go as she pleases and I am certain she would return to you every time." Lillie begged him.

"You--wish to--Embrace--me?" Elaine barely got these words out as she began to lose focus.

"No, this can not be happening now." Daedalus sounded dangerously close to hysteria. "I can not go on without you Elaine." His tears flowed and his body shook with such emotion that Lillie reached out to him and put her arms around him.

"Daedalus, she knows this is it and she was asking me to Embrace her."

"Are you sure Lillie?" Daedalus sobbed.

"Lillie, please--" Elaine?s eyes fluttered and then shut. As she was breathing her last breath, a sigh escaped her lips and Daedalus yielded to Lillie.

Once it was done, Lillie turned to Daedalus and said it was better this way and he would see it in time. Because Elaine was unconscious she was spared the horrible reality of being Embraced. Lillie remembered the horror Julian felt over the way Sasha had been embraced and she was grateful for Daedalus? sake that he did not have to witness the same for Elaine.

"She will be well again and still be able to sing and live her life as she chooses. She will come to you always Daedalus. You now know how I came to be involved in bringing you and Elaine back together so you know the depth of her love. I?m sure she didn?t want to leave you alone in this world but her failing health made it impossible to live a normal life and she would have to find a way to let you go. Now she will never have to. You feared she would not be happy as a Nosferatu but now that has been resolved too." Lillie soothed Daedalus as they waited for Elaine to awaken.

"I will watch over her and keep her safe while she goes through the change." Daedalus simply said as if he needed to reassure Lillie that her Childe would be well cared for.

"Daedalus, whatever it takes. However long it takes. You and Elaine belong together and I am only the instrument used to bring you together. I give her to you." Lillie said this knowing it meant that Daedalus and Elaine would be joined to each other now. The Nosferatu mated for life and if he would exchange some of his life force with Elaine?s now, while she slept, she would desire no other but him.

Overcome with gratitude to Lillie for saving Elaine just before she slipped away and then giving him his bride, he did as she bade him. She did not have to tell him what to do. Just the act of giving Elaine-a Toreador, to him-a Nosferatu, Lillie was giving him her permission to take Elaine as his bride forever. This he would do willingly and so their eternal life was bound up in this selfless act Lillie performed.

Once again Lillie had come to Daedalus and offered him her heart in her hand and again he was grateful to her for her kindness and loyal friendship. Thanks to her generous heart, their love would last.