Tainted Love

By Azure Dragon


        Humming to the radio Pheobe made one last rotation on the 
counter. Spinning around and singing to the song she danced her way to 
the sink. Bobbing her head to the rhythm she rinsed and resoaped her 
cloth. The music was up beat and old '80s, the kind of stuff she loved. 
Dancing her way  over to the stove, taking a moment to dance with the 
broom, she scrubbed in time with the music. 

        "The piece is finished, I have it on my computer." Caitlin handed 
Julian the paper bags and unlocked her door. " Did you think about that 
other piece I asked you about?" 

        Julian hesitated; he heard something inside the house. " What 
piece?" 

	Caitlin looked at him and frowned, "Julian, you're not even listening 
to me." 

        "How can I hear over that music?" He asked gently. Nodding to the 
interior of the house, Caitlin listened and frowned. A questioning look 
entered her eyes and she peered into the sunny interior. 

        "Sounds like Pheobe's music." Caitlin muttered and entered the 
house. Creeping slowly to the entrance of the kitchen. 

	Julian followed at her back; holding the groceries, but ready to 
attack if needed. They both stopped dead when they saw the girl dancing 
in the kitchen. She was short, not much over five feet. Shoulder length 
hair that had been dyed a golden brown, was swept behind her ears. The 
girl wore modern cut jeans, a shirt that came to mid thigh. There were 
patches water on it and she looked like she had been cleaning for a 
while. 

	"Pheobe!" Caitlin shouted and the girl's head snapped up. Her blue-
green eyes widened and she dove for the radio. Wrenching it off and 
freezing, her hands wrung the cloth and she looked at he floor. Her 
nervouness was obvious, the reason was not. At least not to Julian. 

	"H...h...Hi. I wanted t..to clean the...the kitchen." Pheobe stuttered 
and looked around, never looking at them. " It didn't get it done yet." 

	Caitlin sighed and seemed to regret something. " It looks just fine. 
When did you get in?" She grabbed a bag of groceries and proceeded to 
put them away. 

        "Around....Around noon, I...I think." Pheobe watched Caitlin's hands 
has she put things away, never once did she look at her face. 

        Julian watched the girl with interest. Her behavior was odd, she 
seemed to be afraid of retallation. As he studied her eyes, he saw a fire 
in the depths, something she hid from others. As he watched it, he saw a 
wild passion and quick mind. A bright and fast person existed under that 
stammering shell. It was an odd cover to use, which meant it must serve 
as a camaflouge. His interest piqued when she pulled open the fridge for 
Caitlin. She moved with trained speed and control. The kind that martial 
artists get when they train for years. Or even an athelete. As he watched 
he saw the similarites between the two women, but only in behavior. 
Pheobe was younger and darker then Caitlin. 

        "Can I offer a hand?" He said lightly. 

	Caitlin looked up and smiled. " Should we let him?" 

	Pheobe looked at him and was silent for a moment. " He asked you, 
not me." 

        "Well considering a hand is all he's got, it's best if he keeps it." 
Caitlin mused and smiled at him. "Why don't you check out that piece I 
told you about?" 

	Julian nodded and put the bag down. " Good enough." 

        As he settled down infront of the machine he saw a picture of 
Caitlin's family. A tall and middle-class man with a woman. Three children 
sat around their feet. A dog sat by the man, he had a hand buried in it's 
coat. Amoung the children he didn't see Pheobe. He recognized Caitlin 
and smiled. His thumb absently brushed her picture. The computer 
beeped and he brought up her files. The story was there and he opened 
it. Julian looked back at the photo and sat back. He didn't know much 
about Caitlin or her family. Just like she didn't know much about him. They 
both had something to hide. A sad smile came to his lips and he picked up 
the frame, gazing at the faces. 

        "The story that good huh?" Caitlin leaned against the entry way and 
smiled. " That is a very old picture." 

        "How old?" He asked. " You look as beautiful now as then." 

        Caitlin came forward and took the picture, she stared at it for a 
moment. " I guess you're right. " Putting it back in it's place she came 
around and leaned down next to him. " What about the piece?" 

        "You're always working." Julian mutterd and kissed her. They stayed 
like that for a moment before Caitlin pulled away. 

        "Will you please read it?" She asked 

        "Only if you and Pheobe will join me for dinner." He said and pulled 
her into his lap. " I insist." 

	Caitlin lossed her smile and sobered. " I don't think so. I mean 
Pheobe isn't much for that kind of thing." 

	He frowned at her, " What are you hinting at?" 

	She climbed off and closed the story and shut down the computer. " 
Don't you have to be get back?" 

	Julian sat there stunned, this must be how Caitlin felt when he 
slammed the door on her. He was asking about something that bothered 
her. She was doing what humans did, changed the topic and redirect the 
focus. He had done that with her, but he never thought she would do it 
with him. But Julian didn't push, he wasn't that interested anyway. 

	"Alright, what about just us?" He asked and stood up, they walked 
out and into living room. 

	"I should stay with Pheobe, it's her first time in the city." Caitlin said 
quickly and fussed with the throw pillows on her couch. 

	"Caitlin," He said gently. " I want to spend time with yout tonight. 
It's one of my free nights." 

	She paused and looked at him, Julian didn't get many free nights. 
With a sigh she stopped fussing and sat on the couch arm. " I can't." 

	"Why not?" He asked, annoyence lacing his calm voice. 

	"Pheobe needs me here." Caitlin picked up one pillow and stared at 
it. " I can't just leave her." 

	He heard the meaning and stopped. Caitlin felt responsible for her 
and it went beyond just being a polite hostess. It was more of a parent 
looking after a child. But that wasn't right, Caitlin didn't have kids, she 
barely had any family left. It confused him as to why she felt so 
responsible, but he didn't press her. 

	"Fine. Call me when you can, I have to get back to the house." He 
kissed her forehead and let himself out. As he got into his car and drove 
away he caught sight of Pheobe. She stared out of the window above the 
sink and watched. Her eyes flashing oceanic in the sun. 

	Julian sighed and sat back. He stared at the report and rubbed his 
face, things couldn't get worse. Turning his chair, his gaze landed on 
Archon's portrait. The fire added a warm glow to his face. Making him 
seem almost real. Julian felt an ounce of comfort as he looked into his 
Sire's eyes. The cool kindness mixed with his wisdom. Julian liked to think 
tha the had learned what he needed from Archon. His hands reached 
back and picked up the report, but judging from this he hadn't. Perhaps 
they were all right, perhaps Caitlin was too big a risk. He sighed and 
turned back to his desk, he tossed the report down and rubbed his 
forehead. The real problem was; he knew they were right, but he loved 
her.  But he loved his life more, perhaps he would have to let her go. 
Maybe this Pheobe's arrival was just what he needed. Something to 
break them apart. As he stood, his private line rang. 

	"Hello?" 

	"Mr.Luna?" An unfamliar voiced asked. 

	"Who is this?" He asked harshly. 

	"It's Pheobe." There as a was pause. " Caitlin gave me the number, 
she'll meet you at the usual spot at eight." 

	Julian sighed and sat back down. " Will you be joining us?" 

        " No." Pheobe answered and was silent. 

        "Well you are more then welcome. But I understand, you are 
probably tired." He said and listend carefully. 

	After a pause, " Yes." Pheobe's voice was pitched just the right 
way. If Julian hadn't been listening he would have never heard the relief 
and the tension. 

        "Tell her I'll be there." Julian jotted down his date with Caitlin and 
looked at his watch. He stood again and smoothed his coat. "Forgvie me, 
but I must go. Thank you for calling." 

        "Welcome." Pheobe hung up and he dashed from the room. Cash \
waited for him and they moved to the next appointment. 

        Caitlin shifted in her seat and looked around again. Julian wasn't 
here and it was after eight. She was used to this, but tonight it bothered 
her. Taking another drink of her wine she gazed out over the people. This 
was the resteraunt where they had had their first meeting.  It was the 
perfect place to tell him the truth and end the relationship. As Caitlin ran 
through her script she sighed and looked at her hands. She didn't want 
to break it off with Julian, she loved him. But with Pheobe here, she had 
to. It was stupid to put her heart before her responsibilities. 

        "Sorry I am late, a last mintue meeting." Julian slid into the seat next 
to her. He ordered their usual dinner and looked at her. " Cait what's 
wrong?" His hand reached out and grasped hers. 

        "Julian I can't see you anymore." It wasn't exactly the way the way 
she wanted to say it. But it had had been said. Caitlin looked up and 
watched his face. There was shock and hurt, but also a ghost of relief. 

        "Why?" He asked, making sure he sounded hurt and confused. 

	Caitlin sighed and took her hand back. " Pheobe will take most of 
my time and I have to focus on my job." 

        "What is the big deal with Pheobe?" He asked sharply and didn't 
have to add the anger. It was just here. " What is she to you Caitlin?" 

	There was a long silence and she seemed to fight the answer. " She 
is....." Caitlin stopped as the waiter appeared with Julian's drink. She 
continuned when he left. " Pheobe is my niece. My sister adopted her a 
few years ago." 

        "What does that have to do with us?" He asked, making his voice 
more relaxed. 

        "Pheobe has a condition that requires constant attention. I can't be 
with you and take care of her." Caitlin said. 

	Julian sat back and took a breath. "So what are you doing here 
now?" It sounded mean and he knew it. 

	Caitlin shot him a look and grabbed her purse, she stood and 
tossed money for her drink. "Pheobe said I should come. She said it 
would be good to say one last goodbye. Now I know she was wrong." 

	Before Julian could answer Cailtin ran from the resteraunt and into a 
waiting cab. He was left sitting shocked and relieved; the relief came from 
her having broken the relationship. The shock was from the face that she 
broken the relationship. Julian had meant to end it, but not like this, not 
now. 

        With a sigh, he stood, paid for their meals and left. He had a lot to 
do and the night was late. As he got into his car he paused. Something 
made him stop, he looked around and saw the flash of sea eyes. Turning 
he looked at Pheobe. Her face was serious and showed nothing. Her 
clothing had changed from earlier. It now consisted of black jeans and 
long black coat. The pale color of her skin was accented with the dark 
clothing. Julian nodded to her and she stepped forward, out of arm reach, 
but into the light. Her face was cold and her eyes empty. 

        "Do you love her?" Pheobe asked directly. 

	Julian took a moment to think. " I do." 

	Pheobe blinked and nodded. " Good. Then go after her. Cailtin is 
scared and it using me as an excuse. You might want to consider other 
options to continue your relationship." 

        "What?" Julian was taken back by her comment. She was hinting at 
the fact that she knew about the Masquerade. 

        "You know what I mean." Pheobe stepped back into the shadows 
and appeared to vanish. 

	For a few minutes Julian stared at the spot she had been. The 
question in his mind was not what Pheobe had meant, but who Pheobe 
was. As he got into his car and drove away, he thought he saw her eyes 
flash in the dark. But there was nothing there. 

	Caitlin pressed her face into the pillow and cried; her tears adding 
to the already wet pillow. Rolling to her side she curled up and stared at 
the moon by her window. There was nothing but moonlight to illuminate 
the room. She sniffed and reached for another Kleenex, scrubbing at her 
face, she didn't care about make-up. The tears blurred the glow of the 
moon and she cried again. 

	"Caitlin, stop it's becoming tedious." Pheobe leaned against the 
doorjam and shook her head. " Why did you do it? Julian loves you." 

	She rolled over and looked at her adopted neice. " No he doesn't. If 
he loved me, he would tell me the truth about everything." 

	"Just like you." Pheobe jibed and Caitlin turned away from her. The 
girl sighed and sat on the end of the bed. " Listen to me Cait. If that man 
didn't love you or at least care, he could have left you by now. Better yet, 
he could have let you die. But he didn't. Julian has risked everything for 
you." 

	"I don't care. I can't stand this anymore." She cried and pressed her 
face into the pillow. 

	"You do care, if you didn't you wouldn't be a Banshee." Pheobe put 
a hand on Caitlin's leg. " I know how you feel." 

	Caitlin turned her head and looked at her; the shadows cut strange 
angles on her face. There was sadness in her eyes. " Tell me." 

	Pheobe sighed and looked into the moonlight. " I didn't know I 
loved them until I lost them. It hurt so much that I didn't care what it 
took, I had to have them back. If only I had known what I was getting 
into, I would have run the other way." 

	Sitting up, Caitlin nodded. " Go on." 

        "Sheena was more then she appeared, in truth she was vampire. 
We met at a local community meeting, She said she wanted to change 
the place and we got together. I had some ideas and we found we had a 
lot in common. As the months progressed we grew closer and were soon 
lovers. Had I not been so blinded by my own ambitions and my self-
centered; I would have seen her problmes. Maybe I could have avoided 
the final outcome. But as it went, I was hurt and bitter when she left me. 
Being who I was, I went after her. There had be to be something she 
wasn't telling me." 

	Pheobe paused and smiled sadly. Her gaze settled on Caitlin and 
the smile faded away, leaving only a sad face. " There was something, 
she was vampire. A Sabbat vampire nonetheless." 

        "What's that?" Caitlin had an inkling she knew something about 
vampires. More then the average person, but it refused to become clear. 

        "It doesn't matter. What matters is that you realize he loved you. 
Julian has done everything short of stopping time to protect you. That's 
more then Sheena ever did for me." 

        "She didn't love you?" Cailtlin asked softly. 

        "Oh she loved me alright, but she loved her Pack more. I was a love 
sick human, they didn't care about me and Sheena wasn't about to give 
up her world for me." Pheobe clenched her fists, her eyes caught the light 
and flared bright ly. She sighed. " The point is, let go and just know he 
loved you. Julian is kinder then anyone I have ever met. Just love him for 
who he is and move on." 

	Caitlin sniffled and shook her head. "I don't know if I can." 

        "Well then you are in trouble and I can't help you." Pheobe stood up 
and paused in the doorway. "Perhaps if you left town for a while?" 

	Caitlin nodded absently and grabbed another Kleenex, she dabbed 
at her cheeks and tore the sheet into bits. Leaving town was a damn 
good idea, perhaps she would go back to Manzanita. Maybe she could 
find a few answers there. 

        Julian listened to each of the Primogens and nodded when he had 
to. For most of the meeting he had been distracted; Pheobe's words kept 
ringing in his head. She had spoken like someone who knew about the 
Masquerade. The way she ahd kept distance and never directly met his 
eyes. It all fit with someone who knew about them. Even the way she 
had spoken on the phone bothered him a little. It was deatched and 
hollow, as though it didn't matter to her. 

        "What do you think Julian?" 

        "There's more to her then meets the eye." He responded and looked 
up. The faces around him looked confused. "What was the question?" 

        "What is wrong Julian? You have been distant all night." Daedlus 
said gently. 

	He sighed and shook his head. " Don't worry about it. Let's ajourn 
and meet tomorrow." He stood and left before Cameron could argue with 
him. Going into his office he closed the door and leaned against it. His 
head rolled forward and he stared at the tips of his shoes. Within his 
mind was a cyclone of conflict and misery, he couldn't focus and didn't 
want to. Despite his best efforts his mind kept going over what had 
happened. Caitlin's face as she had run from the resteraunt, the troubled look in her eyes. It ate at him and he didn't want it to. 

	"Love hurts, as someone famous once said." 

	Julian snapped his up and stared with surprise. " Pheobe!" 

	She smiled and nodded. " Julian." 

        "What are you doing here?" He asked, pushing away from the door 
he sat down in one of the chairs. Pheobe stayed by the open window. 

        "I came to inform you that Caitlin has left town. It will be better this 
way." 

	Julian sighed and folded his hands, " Where?" 

        " I don't know. This isn't my city remember?" Pheobe made her way 
over to the couch and sat on the arm. " Just put her aside and focus. 
Things are getting worse are they not?" 

	He nodded. " Both Cameron and Cash warn of Sabbat movement. 
They haven't made it into the city, but it's only a matter of time." 

        "That would be cause for trouble." She said and nodded 
thoughtfully. "Any ideas where they are camped out?" 

	Julian lifted his gaze to her and stared at her for a long time. " Do 
you know about them?" 

        "Yes." Pheobe met his eyes and he saw the fire and the quickness. 	
Her timid shell was gone. 

        "How?" 

	She frowned and her eyes darkened. "Does it matter?" 

        "This is my city, I want to know if you are a danger." Julian said 
firmly, he sounded like a Prince, instead of a love sick vampire. 

	Pheobe smiled a little and nodded " Fair enough. I know them 
because of personal experience. Now what are you going to do about 
your problems?" 

        "I don't know." Julian sighed and stood, he moved to the window 
and stared out. " There is not much I can do, at least not until I have 
something to act against." 

        "Granted. But are you not going to flush them out of the area's they 
already inhabit?" Pheobe asked her voice was light and carefree, 
conversational. 

	"I haven't decieded yet." Julian said, he moved his desk and flopped 
into the chari. The soft leather molded to his form. 

	Cash burst into the office and stopped; his eyes fixated on Pheobe. 
He looked surprised and curious. Julian lost his brooding demeanor and 
sat up. Cameron stood behind the man, he was watching the stranger. 

	"Pheobe." Cash said lightly and she nodded. " What brings you to 
us?" 

	A smile toughed her lips, " Cortney and his Pack just joined up with 
Remy, they are sitting in a place called Manzanita." 

        "We just found out." Cameron snapped and frowned at her. " How 
do you know that?" 

        "I have a connection or two." Pheobe sighed and shieled her pain, " 
They are waiting for the final additions. You have about a week before 
they attack." 

        Julian looked at her, " How can you so sure, how do you know all 
this?" 

	Pheobe sighed and looked at her hands. " My lover is Gangrel 
Antitribu. I am helping you because I don't care about the Sabbat or their 
cause." 

        "Why is that?" Cameron asked coolly. " He dump you?" 

        "She didn't love me enough to stop them. Why do you think Caitlin 
lost all her family?" Pheobe looked at Julian, " I'll help you for Caitlin's 
sake, but you must focus on defending your people. Let me deal with 
Cait." 

        There was a long silence, Cameron broke it. " Fine, we'll head to 
Manzanita, they won't be expecting it." He turned to go. 

        "Cameron wait." Julian stood up and sighed. " Call the Conclave 
again, we'll discuss this." 

	Cameron turned around, " We don't have time for it! They are 
sitting a few miles from our city, we can't afford talking." 

        "He's right Prince." Pheobe said gently. "Cash will send the word, let 
Cameron mobilize his forces. You focus on your people. Have you got 
someone you can trust to do it?" 

	Julian nodded. "Cash, get Sonny tell him what's going on." 

        "Right." The man said and rushed from the room. Cameron at his 
heels, the door closed and silence fell again. 

        Pheobe moved to leave, Julian stopped her. " I shouldn't trust you." 

        "I have nothing to loose or gain from this. Everything that ever 
meant something, has been taken from me." She sighed. " I am just 
trying to preserve what's left my Aunt's world." 

	Julian let her go and nodded to the door. " Use the door, can you 
find your way to Manzanita?" 

        "I'll follow you." She said and left. 

        Julian sat and ran his hands through his hair, things had gone from 
bad to worse. A war with the Sabbat was going to tear the Masquerade 
to shreds. But it was inevitable, they were coming and he had to stop 
them. 

        "Don't worry Julian." Archon's voice whispered in the air. " Trust 
yourself, you can do this." 

        The Prince lifted his head and looked at his Sire's portrait. " We shall 
see." 

        Before leaving the city; the group met at Julian's compound. Each 
clan had twenty to thirty people with them. Each one ready to fight and 
die against the Sabbat. There was a low murmur of chatter as they 
wondered about the outcome. Their leaders were within the house, 
meeting with the Prince. Cash appeared first and spoke with his people 
for a few short moments. 

        "Julian says we are just to drive them out, not go on a masscer, if 
we can help it." Cash said to is group. 

        "Why not? They kill us easily enough." One person said angrily. 

	Cash nodded. "True, but we are not like them. We are Kindred, we 
must protect the Masquerade." 

        "But they-" 

        "Why do you argue?" A voice asked harshly. Pheobe appeared just 
behind Cash, he turned. " He is Primogen, you shouldn't argue with him." 

        "But we don't-" 

        "Shut up!" She snapped. " The Masquerade is your livelyhood, 
protecting it is how you survive." 

	No one argued or challenged her, it was probably because they 
didn't know what to say. Cash nodded and she vanished into the 
shadows. He turned back to his group and sighed. 

        "Just remember who we serve and what we have here." He left 
them and headed over to the front steps. Pheobe sat with her head in 
her hands. " That was brave move." 

	She looked up, blood tears stainted her pale cheeks, a quick hand 
wiped them away. " I suppose." 

	Cash sat down next to her. " You said you were helping us because 
of Caitlin. But that's not entirely true is it?" 

        "No." Pheobe sighed and shoved her hair back hehind her ears. " I 
don't live by their rules or even associtate with them. But I do hav a 
grudge to settle against Cortney. I am going with you for revenge." 

	Cash nodded. " I can understand that. Just becareful, Julian is trusting you to look after Caitlin." 

	Pheobe looked at him and smiled. " You like her then?" 

	He shrugged. " Not really, but my Prince loves her and I know what 
it's like to...." 

        "Sasha is beautiful. " Pheobe commented and sighed. " I admire you 
for loving her still." 

        "Don't you love Sheena?" He asked honestly. 

	It took a lot to answer that, "Not as truly as I used to. I mean I 
can't say yes or no. Part of me still longs for her, another part hates her 
and still another part feels nothing. It's hard to know if I love her." 

	Cash watched Pheobe as she asnwered, it was a truthful response. 
He could see the bitter rage and the hungry love in her eyes. He sighed 
and shook his head. " I wonder at us sometimes." 

	She looked over at him, " Oh?" 

        "Maybe love is a human capicity, that would explain why it is so hard 
for us." Cash lookd up and stood. " Well it's time, you want to ride with 
us?" 

        "I'll follow the end car. It's best if they don't see me right away." 
Pheobe stood and went off to her bike, Cash joined the parade and got 
ready for war. 

        Caitlin paused by the headstone and stared at it. Archon. The 
ground had recently been dug up and replaced. It hadn't been like that 
the last time. She knelt down and ran her fingers over the cool dirt. Why 
did she vaugly recall the name, but couldn't think of it?  Standing up she 
turned and stopped, something caught her eye. Heading over to the next 
stone she saw the name and gasped. Julian Luna. 

        "Oh no." She whispered and looked at the untouched ground. She 
remebered it now, the way he had told the story and how he had gotten 
cagey. "Oh please not that." 

        "Something wrong?" A voice asked. 

        She spun, the memories began to break through, the attack the 
fighting. It wasn't the same man, this one was younger and more 
handsome. He wore a black silk suit with dark red shirt and tie. His dark 
hair was held back loosely from his shoulders. Dark green eyes flashed 
with inner strength. 

        "Ah, no. I just paniced." She said and rubbed her arms, she had that 
creepy feeling again. 

        "I see." He said softly. " Well perhaps you should back to your car?" 

	A bell rang in the back of her head and she hesitated. Julian's voice 
had sounded like that once. Turning to face him, Caitlin stared into his 
face and it came together, like some horrific jigsaw puzzle.  Julian had lied 
to her and somehow made her forget what had happened. 

        The man vanished suddenly and Caitlin frantically looked around. It 
was all too strange. Shaking her fears loose, Caitlin managed to get her 
wits together and ran from the graves. As she ran, the shadows grew 
thicker and she lost her way. Pausing in her running, Caitlin looked 
around and was lost. She couldn't see through the shadows and didn't 
know where she was. 

        "Lost?" A voice whispered, hands shot out and yanked her into the 
darkness. Nothing was heard as she vanished. 

        Julian stepped out of his car and looked around. The memories came 
back with a vengence and he looked over to Cameron. The man showed 
nothing as he looked out over the view. Lilly and Cash came up to his 
side, Pheobe appeared on the other side of the car. 

        "What now?" He asked her. 

        "I don't know." Pheobe said and looked out over the shadowed 
land. " Like I said, this is your job, I am just here for Caitlin." 

	Julian put his hands in his pockets and looked out over the area. 
"Cash you cover the grave yard. Lilly the outter rim of town. Cameron and 
I will do the winery, Daedlus and Pheobe will stay here." 

	"Broken hearts don't always mend."