Something More Than Love

Disclaimer: This story is my attempt at creating, not an ending, but a continuation to the love story between Daedalus and Elaine Robb. I was not satisfied with the way it ended in Kindred: The Embraced so I hope this little story will provide some reading pleasure and entertainment. I am in no way benefiting from this story. The characters were borrowed from Kindred: The Embraced and I am not infringing on the rights of Aaron Spelling or Mark Rein Hagen, creator of Vampires the Masquerade. Please read and enjoy. Thanks, Reesy

Something More Than Love

After giving her statement to the police and to Caitlin Byrne, Editor for the San Francisco Times, Elaine began to feel some trepidation about what she had said. Perhaps she was wrong about her night visitor being the "night stalker."

Perhaps she let her fear of the specter she had seen that morning influence her. The man, if that was what he was, who visited her more than once never made her think that he was a murderer. Certainly nothing like the way the "night stalker" was described, like a wild beast that ravaged it's victims and drank their blood.

Her visitor had lost himself, Elaine insisted, but not his heart. He had a gentleness that separated his kind from the vicious brutality of the man who had everyone looking fearfully over their shoulder and running past dark alleys, breathing a deep sigh of relief once passed each dark chasm. "Surely he could not be the one who cut his victims open and, and," she shuddered.

Her mysterious suitor seemed too shy, too self-effacing, and too kind to commit such horrific acts.

Elaine was the same shy, self-effacing and kind sort of individual her late night suitor was and she could never do the unspeakable things the "night stalker" was doing, so how could it have been her visitor.

"Easy to reason this way," she said as she prepared for her departure with the waiting police escort downstairs. "Easy to" no she would not go further with this torment.

The being she faced that morning, that literally flew through her apartment window and disappeared without a trace, was ghastly to look upon. She shuddered again, this time because of the surreal image that kept pushing it?s way into her mind and pushing out all others. This phenomenon frightened and intrigued her.

Elaine Robb was a sensible, if private, woman and yet she had let this complete stranger enter her domain. Or did she let him? Oh this was unbelievable! Had she let him in or had she willed him to come back after she had insisted he leave that first night?

She was nagged by the memory or maybe it was a dream, she wasn?t sure, but she thought she remembered trying to telephone the police that first night and yet it was more like something she did in a dream.

A strangely exciting and dangerous dream but one that did not leave her frightened. She didn?t wake up from it with a start, sweating, her heart pounding from trying to awaken herself and being unable to. There were no butterflies in her stomach or terror that set her on the brink of screaming. No scream would come, even though she would try, because something would force it back.

The most that would escape her lips would be an almost inaudible murmur. The need to scream was there but it would never come. It was so frustrating and if she had been able to, she might have awoke from the dreams feeling less pressure and fear.

She had those kinds of dreams in the past and hated them for making her feel afraid to go back to sleep. Probably other people had these kinds of experiences too but she lived alone and had no one to reach out to. No one to chase away the demons that haunted every shadow on her walls, that spoke to her with every creak of the floorboards in the flats on either side of her, that caressed her with the breeze that would come in through the window or held her down under her covers because she froze with fright and couldn?t move. Why didn?t she experience any of these things this time? Did she dream it? How could she have dreamed it if the next night he really came to her and she welcomed this stranger who was so like herself?

He had started to look away as she untied the tiny strings at the top of her nightgown. It was as if he were ashamed of himself for wanting her. Not because she wasn?t worthy of his love and desire, but because he seemed to believe he wasn?t worthy of any feeling she could have for him.

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

Across the street from the hotel where Elaine lived, a figure stood, camouflaged and safe from anyone who might cross between them. If this were the way it had to be, he would find a way to always be there when she returned.

As much as he loved her, Daedalus knew she would never accept him or even look upon him again. This didn?t hurt him as much as it disgusted and devastated him, because he had let it happen. If he had not let it happen, he could have gone on longing for her and hoping he could love her without horrifying her.

He relived that terrible moment over and over in his mind that day trying to correct the mistake he had made in revealing himself to her.

If only he had been more in tune with the time of day or if he had just left in the night after she fell asleep or even attempted to make her forget, he might have been able to revisit her and after some time had passed, he might have been able to let her see him as he really is.

She accepted him in his disguise in the moonlight and even gave herself to him willingly. He began to look away when she untied the tiny strings that held up her nightgown. He even stepped back a little and she beckoned him saying she wanted him to see her.

She took his hand and led him to her, and as they embraced each other, he felt her arms go around his neck and her hands fondled the ends of his hair. Hair that was part of the magic that didn?t last long enough. It had changed his appearance just enough that she did not know it was a disguise and she wanted him at that moment almost more than he wanted her, but in the morning light, it was different.

The magic had not lasted long and his appearance was changed. Changed back to the way it was before she had loved him. The hair was gone, his eyes were black and empty looking and his ears were long and pointed again.

He had lingered too long in her bed and when the realization hit him that he did not look the way he had in the twilight, he panicked. Why oh why did he panic? If he had been cool and collected he might have slipped away quietly and unnoticed. Then she would have longed to see him again. He felt this with great certainty because her soft, gentle touch kept telling him that his slow, loving way was what she craved more than anything else. As he would begin to rest and try to calm himself, her hand would find a way to create new sensations in him.

"Was it her craving or was it his need to be loved by this gentle, trusting creature?" he asked himself. Then he laughed to himself. It barely escaped him like a faint cry of disbelief. She was not the creature. HE WAS THE CREATURE!!!

His thoughts were interrupted as a movement in front of the building across the street caught his attention. Elaine came out of the building and was talking to the police officer assigned to escort her to Lily?s Haven. There she was and he had to let her go without a word. He could never let her see him again.

Elaine slipped into the police car and rode away with the officer and Daedalus flew to his home, under Julian?s mansion. He was safe there and only one individual ever visited him with any frequency and this visitor was his best friend.

As Daedalus put away his alchemist bottles and potions that familiar step was heard, or maybe it was a presence he felt, but it was unmistakable. It was his Prince. While he craved solitude now more than ever, Julian knew that his friend needed comfort, needed to feel accepted and most of all, needed his support.

He produced a bottle of wine and two goblets. He expressed concern and caring for his friend, whose fragmented heart laid exposed and bleeding from the wound inflicted by a tragic experience that had followed a night that would live on and torment the being that housed it.

"It?s best this way" Julian reassured his companion.

"I know. Other men will care for her now."

Then his gaze fell upon a photograph of a man in the newspaper that Julian had carried with him. "Who is that?"

"You?ve seen him?" asked Julian with such intensity. "He?s the one they call the ?night stalker.?"

"He is with her. I saw her get into his car. He is taking her to the Haven."

As soon as Julian spoke to Frank Kohanek he was gone leaving Daedalus to fear the worst for Elaine.

How could this killer have been so close to him and he did not know it? Were his senses so numbed by the pain of his loss that he was unaware of the danger she was walking into? Elaine was alone with this killer and he meant to destroy her as he had done with everyone else in his path, including his own father.

Daedalus was numb no longer. The mere thought of one hair of her head coming to any harm was more than he could tolerate.

He had to fight back the urge to fly to the Haven and devour this mad killer. This was not his fight. It was for Julian to take care of. He did not act out of his own desires. He would wait for a word from his Prince before he dared to act.

Being a Primogen had it?s privileges but it also kept him in check for he would disgrace his own kind and risk exposing the masquerade if he acted rashly now.

"And who better to bring down this murderer?s reign of terror than the Prince of the City. The fact that Starkweather has no respect for Julian as his Prince will be his undoing. This killer did not fear his Prince and would make a fatal mistake." Daedalus told himself.

Daedalus would have to just wait it out and hope for the only outcome possible. The only one that made any sense to him.

Julian had to stop this "night stalker" before he killed Elaine. There was no other way for it to end.

When Will It End?

Daedalus must have waited for several hours, pacing and then taking inventory of his paintings. He needed to catalog them and make order out of the mess he had created shuffling them and tossing one here and shoving another one there.

At one point he stood in front of his easel with a blank canvas and a loaded brush in his hand, seeing just one image before him, but suddenly beginning to paint another. He began to recognize the face on his canvas and at once painted furiously, feeling such a passion to create what he most despised. As the moments flew by he heatedly put shape and color to a face that he not only hated but also feared. Not fear for himself, but fear for the one who meant more to him than anyone.

It wasn?t what he expected for Daedalus thought the one he resented most was himself yet the face on his canvas resembled more the one who threatened his existence and, he thought, his sanity. If this one succeeded in killing Elaine, how could he go on?

He had survived for thousands of years and still it would not be possible to go on one more moment if she were taken from this world now.

Even if Starkweather embraced her Daedalus knew she would accept him but she would not love him for long. He was Nosferatu and Starkweather was Gangrel. Gangrels rode in the night and stalked the streets in their Gypsy-like way. They were wild and hot-tempered.

His clansmen were calm and had a sensible nature. They mostly remained below ground and his life would never suit a Gangrel.

No, Starkweather would not embrace her, nor would he spare her life so it was up to Julian and the human detective Frank Kohanek to bring down this cold-blooded murderer.

If the minutes passed slowly then the hours seemed even longer, like days. This waiting and not knowing had become intolerable. As Daedalus threw down the brush in a swift movement he slashed the painting of the "night stalker" and like a ferocious beast he rushed toward the stairs and up to the door that led to the tunnel when the latch was pushed and the door opened.

There stood Julian looking drawn and pale, but relaxed, finally. He still took no pleasure in killing another Kindred but when his hand was forced he did what a Prince must do. He must protect the masquerade at almost all cost and just as important he must look out for the innocent humans who at times collided with the Kindred.

Maybe it was because his closest friend loved this human, as he loved Caitlin Byrne.

Maybe it was his sense of duty or decency.

Whatever the case, he did what he had to in order to bring Daedalus the news he would either live or die for hearing.

One look and Daedalus knew the long black night was over and the bright new day was about to dawn on them. As he invited Julian in to his sanctuary, Daedalus felt the dangerous urges inside him begin to subside. Julian could tell that if he had not arrived when he did Daedalus would have done the unthinkable. He would have attempted to avenge innocent blood and the only recourse his Prince would have was too painful for Julian to contemplate.

Imagining the Final Death of his closest friend was something he could not dwell on without a lump working it?s way into his throat. Just as the thought of leaving behind his Prince and respected confidant to try and go on without him, as well as possibly endangering him by exposing the masquerade, was not something Daedalus dared to think about.

Both men knew the unspoken thought between them, and for a quiet but intense moment, they looked into each other?s eyes knowing the pain the other felt and then just as quickly the mood started to change to a relaxed familiarity that they had become accustomed to.

They were alone in Daedalus? damp quarters yet it felt comfortable to Julian and he started to recount the events of the night when he found the slashed painting of Starkweather. He felt sure this night had been extremely difficult for Daedalus but now he knew just how close his friend had come to . . ., Julian did not want to imagine it, well it had not happened but he felt compelled to remind Daedalus of the danger he almost brought upon the Kindred.

He spoke as calmly and kindly as he could, acknowledging what Daedalus had been through and the great restraint he had shown by waiting as long as he had. Still the Prince must have the respect of all the Kindred, especially his Primogens. Julian held out his hand and Daedalus, feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders and grateful that Julian still held out his hand, kissed it.

The gesture so moved Julian that he slowly put his other hand on his friend?s shoulder, almost in an embrace. Neither felt ashamed of their love of each other. It was the love of two brothers, only closer than brothers. The younger accepted the older one as much as the older respected the younger one. It was good for them to be together. They complemented each other well.

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

Now it was time for Daedalus to begin to heal. Julian knew this would be difficult and perhaps his friend would never fully recover from his lost love as well as the terror he felt over the knowledge that Elaine could have been murdered.

Add to that, other Kindred knew of the pain Daedalus experienced, and while not wanting to add to his pain, they seemed to show him special kindness or they would deliberately try to be light-hearted in his presence. He knew they were well meaning, but he would have rather not even been around them.

He had to appear when Julian called a meeting of the Primogens and lately there had been a new Brujah Primogen added to the conclave.

Since Eddie Fiore?s Final Death, Cameron was chosen to replace him and he was not inclined to show much restraint in speaking to Daedalus. He was cool and confident whereas Eddie had been brutal and stupid. Even so, Eddie knew enough to patronize Daedalus. Not a desirable trait in the Brujah, but this Cameron was at times offensive and insolent.

Daedalus avoided him more so because he did not appreciate his insolence than because he might say something to remind Daedalus of what he lost, or really, what he never had. Well, had once, then lost.

This night as Cameron was flirting with danger Julian assumed the position of protector and informed him that he would tolerate no more of it when Daedalus stood up and put his hand in the air as if to say "Enough!" He looked directly at Cameron and for the first time Cameron lowered his gaze slightly to show that he backed down, for the moment.

Daedalus was grateful for his friend?s support but if there were any clan the Brujah should fear, it was his. The Nosferatu did not brag or expound on their prowess, but all clans knew their power and the fact that they had the full support of their Prince was enough to make Cameron stand down.

The confrontation over, Daedalus was about to take his leave of the group when Lillie gently glided over to him and stood before him. She had recently fallen somewhat out of favor with Julian but still shared his home and his confidence in some matters, especially now that Archon was gone. Julian had not exactly shared everything about the tryst between Daedalus and Elaine but she knew Daedalus loved Elaine and she knew something was not quite right with her.

The soulful sound behind Elaine?s songs came from her heart and the sad experiences in her life but there was something new in her countenance that disturbed Lillie. She sensed a sadness so severe in Elaine that she feared her artist might, in her fragile state, teeter on the brink and dive off one night.

Not wanting to reopen a wound even a Toreador could not heal with all her sensual delights, Lillie had to tread very carefully.

She had been thinking this one over for some time but knew that somehow time may be running out for Elaine so she had to take a chance and plant the idea in Daedalus? mind that he must find a way to help Elaine heal too.

He did not realize that she too had suffered a broken heart.

He also did not know was that no other men had taken his place and that she was going through her life still alone and still had no one to reach out to when her fears visited in the night.

The Toreador had a nature that lent itself to finding provocative and ultimately enjoyable ways of dealing with problems, so Lillie had cleverly inserted herself in Daedalus? path. He would not be rude like Cameron, so he would indulge her out of respect for her as Primogen but also out of regard for their long friendship.

She didn?t come to him often, but when she did, it was with her heart in her hand. Like the time she confessed to him rather than to Archon that she had set Julian up to be sent to his Final Death, and then there was the time she came to him knowing of his love for Elaine and sincerely encouraged him to follow his heart.

He believed that when she came to him, she was not seeking anything for herself. She wanted only what was in his best interest so he would indulge her now.

Julian, sensing that Daedalus wanted his solitude, was about to take her arm and pull her away on a pretense of needing to talk to her about something when Daedalus stopped him.

He knew his friend was trying to protect him but he knew there was no need. He thanked Julian for his care and concern and gave him a genuine smile that let him know it really was all right. Lillie assured Julian she was not going to bite Daedalus, which brought a broader smile to Daedalus? lips. This pleased Lillie so much that she squeezed Julian?s hand lightly, a gesture that said she had let go some of the pain that existed between them. Julian seemed a little easier after that and allowed them to wander off by themselves. This was what Lillie had hoped would happen.

She had to hatch her plan privately knowing that Daedalus would not resent her and would not bring reprisals upon her if her plan backfired.

The fact was, Daedalus was a little curious now about whatever it was that Lillie was up to and was amused by the coy game she played with Julian just to get him away from the conclave.

He could not have known what she was up to but he was sure it would be intriguing, so he patiently allowed her to plant the seeds in his heart and mind that could forever change the course of his life.

For the first time in a long time Daedalus found himself interested in something other than hiding from everyone and was even enjoying this little ruse of Lillie?s. What was she up to?

The Scheme

It had been a long time since Lillie and Daedalus spent much time alone together and now she would be put to the test. She could tell Daedalus was interested in hearing what she had to say. He was the patient type but he would also be very aware that if she were not completely honest with him so she had to introduce the subject carefully so that he would not flee, or worse, do himself injury.

Lillie was not concerned about her own well being. Daedalus had shown incredible strength of character and great restraint the night she confessed her wickedness to him. A moment when he produced his claw and could have ended her existence on this earth, he instead slashed one of his paintings in his pain and his anguish.

Lillie knew she was stepping precariously close to the edge of a steep precipice, moving into dangerous waters where the Final Death of her Prince?s closest friend lay waiting if she failed to set him up properly. If properly prepared to face the pain of the woman he loved then he would be able to go on and make a difference in her life.

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

The atmosphere in the Haven was rife with humans and Kindred from all walks of life; these coming to find a shelter and some solace from the painful existence the outside world offered up daily, sometimes hourly.

Elaine was no different from others who frequented the Haven but she was part of the cure for their ills. Her songs touched them in a way that made them feel they knew her. Some felt they knew her too well. This had happened just one other time and Cash was there to send the would-be paramour into the cold world outside the gathering arms of Lillie?s Haven. He would not be comforted that night.

Since Elaine?s accidental brush with Starkweather she had been less open to any man who displayed anything toward her other than appreciation for her talent. If her fright at seeing a demonic creature that awful morning didn?t give her nightmares, the thought of her near death experience with the real "night stalker" did.

She barely remembered the face of her night visitor but she did remember the hurt in his eyes after the shock had worn off. That took days. Or was it months?

All she knew was that a shadowy figure played with her mind and heart. When she least expected it she felt a pang when she would wake up in the night, or take a walk, or was in the middle of a sorrowful ballad. This pang tugged so hard at her heart that it was difficult to fight back tears and sometimes a sob escaped her as if it came from her chest where her heart beat. There were times when she felt like something had invaded her frame and wrapped it?s fingers around her heart so tight that she felt like she would die from the pain. She knew this was emotion that was twisting her heart because of her loneliness and because someone or something she never saw again had come to her feeling the same loneliness and she could not even remember what he looked like. She only knew that if she could be with him again, she would not shrink from him in horror. The pain went so far away when with him that nothing about his appearance meant anything.

Elaine tended to be a romantic at heart and fell in love easily even though she had not allowed anyone to get close to her for a very long time. Then the one time she did, she chased him away. It was not what she expected. But he had expected it. He knew how she would react. He had told her but she hadn?t remembered that until much later.

When she asked to see him he had said "I could not stand to see your eyes afterward. I am too monstrous."

He had also said "I am afraid this will end and never come again. That I will never speak with you or see you again."

These words tortured Elaine. Even if she couldn?t remember his face, she could remember his words and the pain in his voice. Again she wondered if she had dreamed it or if it had really happened. Did she really have this conversation with him? She must have but the sentences only came back to her in fragments. She began to wonder if she needed help of some kind to sort it all out. She would talk to Lillie.

Lillie seemed to have a handle on life and somehow seemed like she was free of life?s concerns. She moved through the club as if she didn?t have a care in the world, but Elaine knew that wasn?t possible. No one went through life that way so she must have a way to deal with her miseries and Elaine wanted to know what her secret was.

She sought out Lillie the night after the unfortunate man was ejected from the premises by Cash and found Lillie was easy to talk to and was very sympathetic to her cause.

Maybe Lillie wasn?t as carefree as she seemed.

Lillie was also older than Elaine, and in fact, she seemed much older than she looked. This added to the idea that Elaine could seek help from her.

They found a secluded booth and dimmed the lighting so others would not be drawn to them and interrupt their conversation. Red wine helped ease them into the subject and before long Elaine was sharing her deepest secret with Lillie, and Lillie was gaining a foothold into a subject that up until then, she was either afraid to bring up because of Julian?s protectiveness, or was too sensitive to talk to Daedalus about. Now she would just sit and lend support and listen to Elaine?s story, and before long began to hatch a plan that involved Daedalus.

As the story unraveled before her that night Lillie understood how much these two needed each other. Even more than they had before. It was so obvious when she was near Daedalus, but until now, she supposed it was only his heart that was lost in a void that no one else could ever fill. She now understood that another heart was so tortured and riddled with guilt for not being big enough to accept whatever realities came with the morning light.

This guilt was leading Elaine down a dangerous path. She confided to Lillie that she had been offered a pseudo substitute for the love she had lost in this man and it was becoming more difficult with each day that went by to refuse the offer. Lillie knew what she was referring to and this drug had terrible side effects. Some had even committed suicide after taking it so she truly felt she needed to help Elaine in some way. Of course, the only real way to help Elaine was to find some way to bring her and Daedalus together again.

While she cared about Elaine, she had a real love for Daedalus because she knew the torments of a broken heart. The broken heart she experienced herself recently and was just beginning to recover from.

Her heart was not like Daedalus?. She could scheme and plot to get what she wanted. Why she had even helped Eddie Fiore in his attempt to kill Julian so that she would finally be able to get over losing him to that human woman Caitlin Byrne.

Not wanting to bring Elaine down even more Lillie turned her thoughts away from Caitlin Byrne and focused on finding a way to help her two tortured friends find what they were looking for.

Now that Lillie had heard the whole story of Daedalus and Elaine she knew what she had to do. She knew that Elaine felt a terrible guilt for not accepting Daedalus as he truly is and yet she couldn?t tell him that.

Elaine felt she hurt him so deeply that he must surely have tried to kill himself. When he jumped through her window and vanished she was certain that he was taken without hitting the ground below. Somehow he was spared the crushing pain of hitting the pavement if only because he wasn?t spared the pain of seeing the horror in her eyes and knowing she was so repulsed by his appearance. He had come to her in humility and love and she had taken his love but had not accepted him.

The lyrics of an old song came to her and caused that pang to twist her heart again. The words were ancient but had been set to a tune she liked, but now they cut right through her. "When you do unto others what you wouldn?t want done to you, you?d have to be a fool."

So this was her existence--to be tormented by the truth of those words. To know that she had unfairly treated him that way and she felt like she was no better than a hypocrite. A shallow woman who could only love or be loved by a man who had the face like the man who used to accompany Lillie to the Haven but had done so less and less in recent weeks. Elaine knew they had been lovers in the past but got the impression that they were more like business associates of late. This saddened her and only made her own miserable existence harder to deal with.

For now, Elaine had her own woes to deal with and she was becoming weaker by the day. She had heard nothing of the man who leapt from her window and this only made her think of him more.

What had happened to him?

Did he die when he jumped?

Or was he something more than a mere man?

Whatever he was, it didn?t matter to her. Her last thought was of him before she drifted off to sleep each night and her first thought when she woke up each day.

This was beginning to feel like madness and she needed help. Would Lillie be able to help her or would she accept the unscrupulous offer on the street?

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

This plan of Lillie?s would have to come together soon or it might be too late for Elaine and Daedalus. Daedalus would have to believe that Elaine was being victimized somehow and that would take some doing, considering that Daedalus knew a lie when he heard it or saw it. This would also mean that she would have to put Elaine in a dangerous position and this could be fatal for Lillie if it backfired. This Daedalus would not deal with kindly and Lillie knew that even Julian could not hold back an enraged Daedalus, so it had to work.

"Let?s see, who was that man Cash threw out of the club one night when he came too close to Elaine?" Lillie wondered.

"If I could find him and make him believe Elaine was interested in meeting him maybe he would come back. Then the trick would be to make sure Daedalus was there or at least nearby."

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

In vane Lillie would search the crowds for this man who came too close to Elaine that night and it seemed like this idea was not going to work. Then one night she overheard two men talking low saying something about the music and the way the singer seemed to be singing about their lives.

"If I could meet her I believe I could get close to her." One said to the other.

"She would never go out with the likes of you! You?re a fool if you think you?d have a chance with her." Said his companion.

"What do you mean, ?the likes of me??" Said the first man.

As Lillie moved in a little closer trying not to be observed by the two men, she caught a better glimpse of the first one. He looked familiar but there was something different about him.

"What I mean, Jayce, is she didn?t want anything to do with you before, what makes you think tonight would be any different?"

"Look Brandon, that was different. I was drunk and some hotheaded biker thought he was gonna save her from me so he got rough. If I hadn?t been drinking things would have been different. I would have, . . . uh,"

"yeah-yeah, I know what you would have done Jayce" Brandon chided.

"Well anyway, tonight is a new night and I haven?t had that much to drink so I?m gonna take the lady home with me. You wait and see."

Brandon was skeptical but he said no more.

Now Lillie knew who he was. Yes, he was the man Cash had thrown out of the Haven but he had shorter hair now and was clean-shaven. Before they could get close to Elaine, Lillie had slipped Elaine?s name and phone number in Jayce?s pocket without his knowing and then gave Cash the signal to head them off.

"Wanna try another Tango Jayce?" Cash stood directly in his path, feet firmly planted and standing a good 2 to 3 inches taller than either Jayce or Brandon.

"We can do this any way you like it" Jayce snarled "in fact I was looking for that hot little girl friend of yours. What?s her name again? Sasha?" He said it in a way that let Cash know he was bating him and looking for a fight.

Lillie told Cash and Jayce "take it outside or I?ll call the police. I don?t want any trouble in my club."

At this point Brandon stepped in and said they were just leaving and not to trouble the police with this. They weren?t trying to pick a fight. "Just came for the good music and the atmosphere."

As Jayce and Brandon left the club they went their separate ways. Brandon to his apartment and Jayce rode off into the night air on his bike.

"Who does Cash think he is that he can push me around? Another biker at that!" Jayce fumed under his breath.

"If he?s not dating Elaine then why should he care who gets close to her? He isn?t a bouncer at the Haven so why does he do Lillie?s bidding?"

Jayce had to fuel up so he pulled into the next station and when he went to pull out his wallet a piece of paper fell on the floor. A guy next to him picked it up and offered it to him. Jayce paid for the gas and said "that isn?t mine, you can . . ., wait what?s it say?"

The guy was a little more careful about letting Jayce see it now that he saw a woman?s name and phone number on it. Jayce demanded that he let him see it since it was his.

The guy decided he?d keep it and started out of the station door when Jayce grabbed him from behind and pulled the guy?s shirt up and over his head and arms. As the guy flailed his arms to free himself Jayce yanked the guy?s pants down around his ankles, grabbed the piece of paper out of his hand and crammed it into his jacket pocket and took off on his bike.

The station clerk, trying hard not to get hysterical helped out the guy and ducked just as the guy took a swing, thinking it was Jayce. It was the wrong thing to do because as he swung, he hit a cop coming in the door, unaware of the fracas that had just taken place. This misjudgment landed the guy in jail for assaulting an officer. If he hadn?t resisted the officer and had just apologized the cop probably would have looked the other way, considering the state of the guys clothing. It did look pretty funny but this guy was belligerent and offensive, leaving the cop with no alternative but to run him in. The charge of assaulting an officer wouldn?t stick of course, but resisting arrest would. At least for the night. That would give the guy enough time to cool down.

Jayce thought about the encounter at the station and laughed to himself. He?d seen one Hockey player do it to another player and decided it was a good way to diffuse the situation. So he thought he was off free.

As he was pulling up to his own apartment he remembered the piece of paper and pulled it out of his pocket. He sat there with his bike running, stunned and not believing what he was seeing.

How did it happen? The only ones at the Haven who had come into contact with him were Lillie and Cash and they were trying to keep him away from Elaine. He scratched his head and shrugged. He wasn?t going to try to figure it out any more tonight.

As he went toward his apartment, he sensed someone was nearby watching him. He whirled around, ready to swing at whomever it was, but saw no one. Must be jitters after the incident at the station and it was time to hit the bricks so up to his second story apartment he went and once inside with the door locked he began to relax.

After emptying half a bottle of wine Jayce finally drifted off to sleep with the paper still in his hand.

The events after he fell into a stupor were still foggy in his brain the next morning but he had a nagging feeling that something had happened there in his apartment in the early morning hours before the sun came up. He didn?t really feel any different but there was a little blood dried on his neck. He tried to remember cutting himself shaving or maybe in the station the guy had really hit him, but no, he had gotten away without a scrape. This was really strange and then as he thought about the night before and finding Elaine?s name and phone number on that piece of paper he remembered the feeling that someone was watching him walk toward his door. These recollections made him shiver and he looked around his place again but saw no one.

Man he must have had some night. Maybe the alcohol and the wine mixed in his system and then the incident at the station were making him conjure up images and happenings that weren?t there.

"Oh just forget it. It?s broad daylight now and you probably just got bit by a big old bug or something. Just get ready for work and forget about it."

As he was about to step into the shower he remembered the piece of paper. He decided to call Elaine and began dialing her number. As he was about to press the last number it suddenly occurred to him that Elaine might be sleeping in because she would have been up late at the Haven. No he had better not call now. He might wake her up and that could really screw things up for him. After all, their last encounter had not been a good one so he wanted the next one to be on a different basis. He wanted her to know he wasn?t just some drunk who thought she was a hot babe. He wanted her to know he had some substance to him and was a decent guy.

When he was sober.

"Yeah. When I?m sober I can be a nice guy and I even clean up pretty good. I?ll call her later this afternoon on a break and see if I can at least talk to her somewhere other than at the club. If she sees me in the light of day and I don?t have a couple of days of growth on my face she might even like me" he told himself looking in the bathroom mirror.

So his plan was set, and in fact, maybe he?d even send her a bouquet of wild flowers. Women like wildflowers. They?re more natural and look like someone put more thought into the gesture than just phoning the local florist and ordering roses over the phone.

Jayce looked for Elaine?s address in the phone book but it wasn?t there.

Next he called the Haven to see if he could find out where she lived so he could send her flowers. He said he was an admirer of hers. The woman who answered the phone said the club was closed and she just cleaned the club and wouldn?t have a clue where Ms Robb lived. She suggested he just send the flowers to her at the club or call back that night when the young lady was there and ask her himself and hung up. This was going to be more challenging than Jayce thought at first.

He could do one other thing. It probably wouldn?t work but it was worth a try. He dialed 411 and told the operator he was from out of town and wanted to look up his friend Elaine but he had lost her address. Could she help him with a new address? The operator said she had a listing for an Elaine Robb and Jayce heard a tone and then the address. It was that easy. He sat there amazed, wondering why he hadn?t tried that before.

So Jayce visited a neighborhood florist and gave them her name and address to deliver the flowers. When asked what he wanted the card to say he was prepared.

He had been thinking this over all morning and decided he wanted it to say "I?m sorry your first impression of me was not a good one. Please accept my apology and I hope you?ll give me a second chance to make a nicer impression. Thanks for being a lovely person. Yours, Jayce".

This was the best he could come up with but he felt it said what he wanted her to hear so they were delivered to her that afternoon before she could leave for the Haven.

A New Suitor

The flowers were being delivered just as Elaine was about to leave her apartment.

Who was Jayce?

For the life of her she had never even heard that name before and she wondered what he meant by her first impression of him. This puzzled her all the way to the club when she suddenly hit the breaks and slammed forward almost hitting her steering wheel.

This couldn?t be the same man who came to her apartment that night so many months ago could it? She knew by now that he wasn?t the "night stalker." That murderer had been found dead right in the bar of the Haven. In fact, he had posed as a police escort she rode to the club with.

That was a night she never wanted to relive and yet the fact that she had come so close to being his next/last victim haunted her more than the face of her night time visitor, who?s face she could barely recall now and wished that she could. Or at least that she could tell him how she agonized over her terrible mistake ever since and wanted desperately to make things right with him.

"He knows where I live, and perhaps he will come back again. Didn?t he say he wanted a second chance to make a better impression on me?" Elaine mused.

She had just told Lillie last week of her plight and now it seems her problem may be solving itself. Or did Lillie somehow have a hand in making this happen?

Lillie is a beautiful woman and is usually in the company of other extremely good looking people or should she say, men. There used to be an older and very distinguished looking gentleman who would sometimes accompany Lillie. This man had even said hello to Elaine once and that voice was so, so . . . what was it? Exotic and European? Definitely romantic! This man had not been there that she knew of for some time now and Elaine sort of missed seeing him. Would have liked to have gotten to know him or at least been introduced to him and learned his name.

Now if any man was with Lillie it was either Julian Luna or Cash. These didn?t seem as attentive but rather Julian seemed more distant now and Cash seemed to be more like a bodyguard to the two of them.

She knew he had protected her once from that drunken jerk who came on to her after having too many beers. She hoped she never laid eyes on him again although she doubted she would even remember what he looked like. If she couldn?t remember the face she longed to see most, how could she remember the face of some creep she only saw for a few seconds and was gone, thanks to Cash. She wouldn?t even give that guy another thought. She would think about the one she would move Heaven and Earth to see again and try to make right the horrible mistake she made. Perhaps she would see him at the club tonight.

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

Jayce didn?t know it but Lillie was the woman who answered the phone at the Haven this morning pretending to be the cleaning woman. It was Lillie?s way of finding out how far Jayce would go and if he would call Elaine or show up.

Lillie was there in her upstairs chamber watching through the window when Elaine entered the club. Elaine was strangely animated and this pricked Lillie?s curiosity so she descended the long beautifully curved stairway from her chambers to the bar.

"Something up Elaine? You?re a little bit late but you can still change and get ready before the crowd arrives. Do you have your music with you? I hope you didn?t have a mishap on the way tonight. If you?re going to be late again will you please call ahead and let me know? If I have to get someone else to cover until you arrive it will help." She was sweet but business-like.

Elaine wasn?t put off but she did find it interesting that Lillie should make such an issue over 10 or 15 minutes. She still had time to prepare for her numbers.

Elaine apologized for her "lateness" and then told her about the flower delivery and that she thought the man who she had told Lillie about last week might actually show up tonight! Lillie was startled but hid it well. Elaine went on and told her about the flowers and the card. This brought a tiny, almost imperceptible, smile to her lips. So she was right. It was Jayce who called the club this morning and it was Jayce who sent the flowers. She knew just what he meant about the first impression and wanting a second chance. But why hadn?t he called her? Maybe he did but Elaine wasn?t able to answer the phone. Who knows? The thing is, he did take some action.

Lillie hadn?t exactly wanted him to know where Elaine lived but it was too late now. What Lillie had to concentrate on now was getting Daedalus to or near the club. She had talked to him that night a couple of weeks ago after the meeting of the Primogens about her desire to have more security at the club given some of the trouble makers who show up from time to time. Sure, Cash was there often because he knew what was going down on the streets and as Julian?s body guard, he knew that Lillie was precious to Julian even though he knew they were not intimate now. She was to be protected with his life if it came to that so most of the time Lillie felt secure. She was also not without her own powers to defend herself but she had patrons and her artists to protect as well.

Lillie was very careful not to bring up Elaine?s presence at the Haven but simply said her patrons and artists alike were not always safe, even with the Gangrels there.

Julian had so many business interests that he could not be there all the time, nor was he inclined to be there as often as he used to be. Lillie used this as an opportunity to lean upon Daedalus? sympathy for her. He understood the situation between them and saw the hurt in Lillie?s eyes when she was with Julian and saw that what used to be a tender relationship had become more business-like. He knew that Julian treated Lillie this way because he was in love with Caitlin Byrne and felt he would not lead Lillie on but he also knew how much Lillie loved or at least needed Julian and he was really not there for her emotionally now.

Daedalus wanted to help Lillie so he listened to her and said he understood that the Brujah clan were at times part of the problem and with the hatred between the Brujah and Gangrel clans a real fight could erupt some time and that would be disastrous for her club, but more than that it could expose the masquerade. They must do anything and at any cost to keep that from happening. So Daedalus was enlisted before he knew it, and while he did not suspect that she had any idea that he would be near Elaine, he knew it would be a very real possibility.

Would he be up for it?

Would he be able to help Lillie and not terrorize Elaine?

He knew he couldn?t live with that so now he had to hatch his own plan to be there for the sake of the Haven, the sake of the patrons, the artists and most of all, the masquerade. This above all else needed to be protected. In this sense he was also serving his Prince.

Should he talk to Julian about it? Julian would turn on Lillie and hurt her more than he had already. NO! Daedalus would do this out of regard for Lillie and the love she had lost. He knew he could not call on his clansmen to help. Their presence could not be hidden like his could. He could wear a disguise and perhaps a wig this time. The magic had not lasted long enough before and Julian was right, the Alchemy is dangerous.

Could he really go through with this after all the months he worked so hard to keep away from her and tried in vane to forget her?

He was sure she had forgotten him but her face loomed up in front of him every day and every night. She was in his dreams, one time accepting him in her arms and pulling away a wig and telling him he didn?t need disguises because she loved him the way he was, another time she turned away in horror and running from him screaming that he was a demon!

This was going to be a test of his character and fortitude. He would do it as long as he possibly could for Lily?s sake. For this reason, he was making the conscious decision to do it, not because Lillie had asked, but to preserve the life they as Kindred had all become accustomed to.

"Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or of the one."

He was putting himself in harm?s way where Elaine was concerned. He was doing it because he wanted to do it. It was, after long deliberation with himself, his idea.

Daedalus didn?t know that Lillie had special knowledge of their terrible moment after Elaine realized what he really looked like and that Elaine secretly desired a second chance with him.

The nights had been so lonely and she seemed to go through life like it was just an existence she endured without him. He made her feel a kind of love that she only read about or imagined but it was so real that night that she wanted it back no matter what!

All of this was in Lillie?s favor, so she was willing to take that chance. She would not be condemned to Final Death for trying to help two people she cared so much about and Julian still had a soft spot for her or she would not still be living in his home. She made the call.

The Plan Unfolds

Lillie had no more than hung up the phone than a knock came at her back door that led downstairs to the alley behind the Haven. It was Cash. Lillie asked why he had come to her back door and as he was explaining that he heard she had hired new security, another knock came at her door that led down to the bar. She looked at that door and then at Cash and then back at that door.

The knock came again so she invited Cash in and told him to get out of sight. She asked who it was but no one answered. This disturbed her but Cash was there if she needed him so she cautiously opened the door and a man stood before her with shoulder length wavy brown hair, wearing a hat and glasses with tinted lenses. He was wearing an expensive dark suit and tie. He looked very impressive. Lillie sensed that the man was Kindred but didn?t recognize which clan he was from. She began to ask what she could do for him when he removed the glasses and she let out a gasp! She grabbed his arm and pulled him quickly in the room and shut the door.

"You could have been discovered by someone!"

She heard a little chuckle behind her and whirled around to face Cash again. "You knew about this?" Her eyes were almost shooting flames at him.

He said he knew it was Daedalus but no one else knew it. He was still grinning a little and then he realized why there was death in her eyes. "No, Julian doesn?t know about it and he won?t find out from me" Cash said. "With Daedalus here it will give me more time to relax a little and pay some attention to Sasha."

Daedalus put his hand on Lillie?s shoulder and reassured her "Lillie, we are the only ones who know I am here to help. If Julian ever finds out I was here, he will be made to believe that I came on my own. That I surprised you by showing up at your door and you are not accountable for my being here."

He thought again about his decision and the reasons from earlier that week and knew that it was his decision to make, knowing that Elaine might be there.

"I will tell him that I had heard rumors of violence at the club. If Julian suspected anything else, I will say that it was my own decision. Besides, I have not been out for months and it was time to move on with my life."

Daedalus gave her shoulder a little squeeze and she relaxed a little but it was clear that she had not been prepared for his entrance. All the more reason she would be able to face Julian with the "truth" for once in a long time. Even he would see she didn?t expect it.

A little later Lillie and Daedalus sat talking about their plans and suddenly the memory of his arrival came back to her. She didn?t want him to see that it had amused her after all but it was too late. He?d seen the tiny lines crinkle around the side of her mouth and said he was glad she had recovered from her initial shock and worry and could see the humor in what he and Cash had done.

She was about to respond when she looked down to the floor through the window and saw Jayce. He was dressed somewhat nicer than he had been the night before and did not have his companion Brandon with him. He looked around a bit and noticed Cash was distracted by Sasha so he slowly worked his way up to the bandstand and handed a note to one of the band members warming up for Elaine?s first number. Now she was tense again and Daedalus could see the difference in her body language.

"What is it Lillie?" he asked.

She made some excuse that she hoped the crowd would not be rowdy tonight but she was grateful to him for being there. The Toreador were experts when it came to deception and tonight she pulled off another lie. She wouldn?t think about it that way now. If the end turned out the way she wanted it to then the means justified it, so if she lied, Daedalus would not mind if Elaine came to him or accepted him.

As the music began and the crowd showed it?s enthusiasm for the artist of the evening, Lillie noticed a little start from Daedalus. She felt she must immediately draw his attention away from the window, knowing he would see Elaine momentarily and this could possibly be his undoing. Would he stand the test and be able to endure the night?

She felt such pain for him, standing there looking at the floor with the muscles in his jaw flexing when he turned to look at Lillie. She tried to avert her eyes in time so he would not see that she was intent on his expression. Too late. He asked what she was thinking. Lillie tried to speak but the pressure in her heart for his pain brought such a terrible lump to her throat that she could not speak without giving away her anguish and remorse for having drawn him into her scheme.

This was a selfless act on her part and for the first time in a very long time she felt a new sensation. The dealings in her heart were honest and pure. Perhaps Julian would even look at her in a different light after this, provided it all turned out all right. Time would tell as events unfolded this evening.

Daedalus waited as he sensed that Lillie was having great difficulty controlling her emotions for some reason. Finally she was able to speak, "Daedalus, please take some time to survey the crowd and see if there is anyone you believe would be a problem." Lillie had to think fast and at least checking out the crowd would take his eyes off the stage and ultimately off of Elaine. She wished she had eased him into this instead of making him dive right into the black abyss headfirst. Now it was too late to turn back. Whatever happened tonight would set the tone for her next meeting with Julian.

A sickening feeling was settling into her stomach and though she had fed very late last night while an inebriated Jayce slept soundly that was a long time ago. Maybe that was the problem. She had been so wrapped up in this scheme this day that she forgot her own physical needs and would perhaps need the help of an old friend.

That friend?s hand reached out for her as she wavered slightly and found herself being assisted to a nearby chair. She was barely aware of the opened flesh wound until the red liquid touched her lips and she looked up to see the concerned face of her old friend hovering as she fed and regained her composure.

Feeling foolish for not taking care of herself and at the same time not wanting him to know why she neglected such a basic need, she attempted to come up with some explanation.

"Shhh, it is alright." Daedalus knew she would not have forsaken her own need if it weren?t for a good reason and he did not need to know what she did in her private time. All he needed to know was that she was all right now and they could get back to the business at hand. This was actually a better distraction for Daedalus than scanning the crowd for troublemakers and it reinforced his feeling that Lillie truly needed his help. She could not have planned it better. Now he was focused on the task at hand and not on the artist he was supposed to protect.

Lillie liked to think she was in control of things but this oversight on her part could not have happened any other way than by chance. She would take advantage of the opportunity laid at her feet.

"Anything going on down there that we need to deal with?" Lillie asked coyly?

Again Daedalus? attention was drawn to the patrons as he made a conscious effort to keep his eyes from the stage. At first he didn?t see anything out of the ordinary but his eyes narrowed as he zeroed in on one man who seemed to be slowly making his way to the side door that led to the back stage area. The man was dressed decently and looked nice enough from his upstairs perch but Daedalus wondered who he was and why he seemed to be moving in a different direction from the rest of the crowd. He kept looking at the stage and then looking around at the crowd, almost as if he were making sure no one saw his movements.

For the first time, Daedalus felt some alarm and allowed himself to hear the music, the song, the voice and to see the woman on stage. He felt a jolt go through him and knew he had to fight back the rising need in himself that said "fly to her side and keep her safe!" It was something akin to hysteria. At the same time as if something spoke to Elaine making her turn her head up toward the window he was standing behind and he began to shake from fear believing she actually saw him. She couldn?t have but it was so unnatural, so uncanny, that he did believe it momentarily.

As she sang, the words "As I wonder where you are, I?m so lonesome I could cry" cut right through him. He knew he loved her and could not help the involuntary emotions that pierced his heart.

What made him think he could go through this?

Was it a lack of humility?

Did he think he was immune to it now?

No. He recalled his earlier notion that he was doing it to keep the masquerade safe, no matter what the cost to himself. Very well then he would maintain his vigil and keep his eyes on that man who was getting very close to the stage area.

"Lillie, Cash is not in sight and I see a man making his way to the back stage area. Is he one of your employees or a friend of the sing --, of Elaine Robb?"

Lillie was on her feet in a flash. She had recovered from her weakened state and was revived enough to take whatever action she needed to. "I see him but he is not one of my employees." Lillie said, trying to sound equally concerned. "A couple of weeks ago a man tried to get too close to one of my artists and Cash had to escort him out. He doesn?t look like the same man. Where is Cash?"

Daedalus was about to make his way to the back of the stage when another man who looked like a biker grabbed Jayce from behind just before he went for the doorway leading to the back stage area.

"Who is that?" Lillie cried! What was happening here? Daedalus was supposed to be the one who saved Elaine, not some stranger. It wasn?t Brandon so who was he? This would not do. She didn?t want to call the police but now she felt her plan might not work out and Daedalus might lose his only opportunity to find out how Elaine really felt about him.

"Daedalus, I don?t know what?s going on but now you see why I was so concerned about the lack of security." Lillie said.

There was no response. She looked around and saw no one in the room but the back door was ajar and Daedalus was gone. Now she really felt she had no control over the situation.

"Why was Jayce so stupid that he couldn?t just call Elaine and try to meet her later, after we closed? Who is this other guy who grabbed him from behind?" she whispered under her breath.

Oh! She had really messed things up and she was going to pay the consequences.

A Well Executed Plan

As Daedalus reached the back stage area, there were two men he recognized from his upstairs vantage point throwing punches but their voices were low enough that they were not heard over Elaine?s music. For a minute she did not even know they were there. When the music stopped and the crowd?s applause and cheering diminished, she heard the scuffle behind her. Not knowing where to go, she froze for an instant and then saw Lillie at the side curtain beckoning her to follow her. She hoped this was the safe course to follow. Lillie was the owner of this club and would not lead her into a dangerous situation so she left the stage to follow her employer.

When Lillie realized Daedalus was not in her chambers she knew he had flown to the area behind the stage and she must be the one to lead Elaine away to safety and to the waiting arms of the one she longed for. The one who would save her life.

As they made their way down the dark passage between the stage area and Elaine?s dressing room Elaine felt another presence she could not see but for some reason was not alarmed by.

For a moment she forgot about the flowers and the prospect of seeing the man she dreamed of ever since she sent him from her in shame and disgust.

While on stage, Elaine had scanned the crowd just as Daedalus had done but for a very different reason. She hoped to catch a glimpse of her suitor. Now she only thought of leaving danger behind and getting safely to her dressing room. Once safely out of harm?s way she and Lillie stopped in the passage way before entering her dressing room. Lillie stopped to make sure Elaine was quite all right and not suffering any hysteria from the second near miss in a short period of time.

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

As Daedalus was flying to the back stage area he saw that Cash had seen the two men and was headed in the same direction. Daedalus, with the strength that belied his frame, held the two bikers as they struggled in vane. He handed them over to Cash who had taken both Jayce and the biker Jayce had accosted the night before out another exit but not before Elaine became aware of their fight behind her.

Before Daedalus would be able to appear to Elaine, Lillie needed to be sure of her state of mind, be sure Elaine could handle another meeting with the love she wanted desperately to find again.

Lillie had dispatched one of her employees to fetch a bottle of wine and three glasses "pronto" and put them in Elaine?s dressing room and to do it before they arrived. This having been done, they entered Elaine?s little room with only two chairs, a dressing table, a screen and a mirror.

At once Elaine noticed the wine and three glasses. Then it came back to her. The suitor! Was he going to be here too? Oh it was too wild even for her imagination but he had sent her flowers and he probably knew she sang at the Haven so maybe he set it up with Lillie. What was going on? She was whisked back here because there was a fight going on back stage but how could Lillie have known and who was the other person in the passageway? Her mind was moving like lightening and the answers weren?t coming as fast as the questions.

Lillie could see the confusion on Elaine?s face so she sat her down in one of the chairs and told Elaine she wanted her to meet someone.

Oh! This is it, Elaine thought with her heart in her throat. Lillie was behind it after all. A figure stepped out from behind the partition. The man wore a dark suit and had tinted lenses in his glasses. Elaine?s heart raced as she slowly raised her eyes upward towards the man she had waited so long to see again. He looked different and yet somehow familiar. She tried to take it all in and as she tried to get out a Hello, she had to fight the impulse to jump up and throw her arms about his neck. Sensing this, Lillie put her hands on Elaine?s shoulders and introduced him as the newest member of her security team.

"His name is Daedalus. He?s from Crete and is an old family friend. He was the one who saw those two men go back stage and got there in time to break up the fight."

"I, I?m grateful th-that, grateful that you, . . ." she stopped breathless and gave Daedalus the opportunity to tell her he was happy to have been able to help. "Those two will not be . . . bothering you . . . again" he got this out with some hesitation but his voice did not falter. He was able to speak to her without giving up his secret desire for her as well as his fear that she had come so close to being hurt.

"Your voice, I?m sure I?ve heard it before." Elaine said with some hope and yet some disbelief. She really didn?t know for sure if he was her night visitor.

Lillie poured some wine and handed a glass to Elaine and one to Daedalus who declined saying he shouldn?t while he was on the job.

"Of course, I quite agree" Lillie said retracting the glass "Those two meant to harm Elaine, I?m sure, and I feel so much better with you here" said Lillie, trying to put urgency in her voice and hoping Daedalus wouldn?t see through her deception. He didn?t seem to even hear her and as she slipped out of the room neither he nor Elaine noticed the door close so quietly that it was as if she had slipped through the crack in it.

For several seconds Daedalus and Elaine were locked in a gaze as he realized she was wearing the necklace he had given her the first night they had spoken in her apartment. It was such a shock to him because he felt she must have been so repulsed by him that she would never have worn the gift he had given her. Was it possible that she--

His thoughts were answered when Elaine spoke. "It?s a beautiful necklace and I wear it always. Someone I met only once gave it to me but he left such an impression on me that I have never forgotten him. It may sound odd that meeting someone only once could change a person?s life so much but it happened to me and I would give anything to have the opportunity to show him how much his love has meant to me."

How was she able to get these words out? She was barely able to utter a phrase let alone a complete sentence just a minute ago so how could she have said all of this to Daedalus? She saw the look of disbelief on his face when he noticed she was wearing the necklace he had given her and all her fears vanished as she realized this was her opportunity and felt emboldened to tell him that he meant more to her than he ever imagined.

All the weeks and months were unfolding before them as she stood before him and he came toward her removing only his hat. As he came nearer to her he stood so close that she removed the tinted glasses to see the deep black eyes she had seen that morning and while Daedalus feared the worst, Elaine looked into them and was lost in the power of their gaze. He knew she was different this time. She knew who he was and what he really looked like and he was the one she wanted.

He could not have believed it yet that she loved him and desired him but he could not deny the look in her eyes and the way she let him take her into his arms and hold her so close to him that his heart actually seemed to beat. In fact his heart pounded in his chest which was a sensation he had not felt for centuries.

Now things seemed to move in slow motion for Daedalus. He cradled her head in one hand and found the small of her back with his other and as their faces came very close they felt the other?s breath. She tilted her head up just until her lashes touched his cheek and lightly brushed it sending a wave of electricity through Daedalus that gave him the strength and courage to tell her he had loved her for a long time. She nodded and then tears welled up in her eyes as she began to explain that she had regretted the way she reacted that morning and had lived with the torment ever since fearing the worst, that she had hurt him so deeply that he--that--Having convulsions, she tried but she could not go on. Her tears were choking her and her pain caused her heart to feel that pang again making her chest heave so hard she was gasping for air and trying to gulp back her tears. Though it was alarming, Daedalus put his hand over her heart and it began to beat easier. He kissed her brow and sat in the chair holding her as her spasms abated. This was what she had held in for so long and it was now time to let it out.

When she was calmer she knew he had a power that was beyond that of mere men and while she was not anxious to know what that power was she softly told him she knew she was safe with him and would always want to be with him. All of this was so different from what Daedalus had expected and now he held the world in his hands and his world just increased by one. Elaine sat on his lap with his arms sheltering her and providing the peace her life had been missing. Daedalus sat with her on his lap feeling the love and grace of this gentle and caring woman feeding his need for peace in his life.

This was the purest form of true love between a man and a woman. They had suffered great losses over the years and now their losses were fading away as they sat clutching the very thing that brought them this peace and love, each other.

A knock came at the door and broke their reverie. For the first time they realized Lillie wasn?t there with them. It had not even occurred to them that she would have slipped away discreetly leaving them alone to find each other again. Daedalus put his index finger over his lips as he gently lifted Elaine from his lap and stepped over to the door. He asked who was there and Cash answered. Daedalus relaxed and opened the door to his friend and said everything was fine. He asked if he had any idea who those two were and Cash said one was an "old acquaintance of Ms. Robb?s" whose name is Jayce and who had tried to get better acquainted with her a couple of weeks ago but he didn?t know the other guy. The police had them both now and he felt they would not be bothering Ms Robb again for Lillie was filing a restraining order against Jayce as they were speaking. This made Elaine jump a little as she realized now that it was Jayce who had sent her the flowers. She had forgotten until then that the name on the card was Jayce. Now she knew why he said he wanted a second chance to make a better impression. Her first impression of Jayce was pretty bad. Well her second impression of him was no better. He was still taken down by Cash and hauled away by the police.

Relieved that the danger was over and things were getting back to normal Elaine thanked Cash and Daedalus and said she felt much safer now. Cash took note of the change in Daedalus? appearance and that Elaine had obviously been crying. He was going to ask if everything was ok when Daedalus gave him "the look" that meant things were fine, in fact, they were better than fine and if Cash were smart he would take his leave now. Taking his cue from that "look" Cash gave them both a quizzical grin and made his way back to the club and to Sasha.

As the door closed behind Cash, Elaine came to Daedalus and did the most remarkable thing. Although she had done it in his dreams many times, he almost fainted from the suddenness of her movements and she had to fight the urge to laugh. Elaine simply looked up into those black eyes and carefully removed his wig and then told him the words he had heard so many times that he could have repeated them with her. It was true! Her love for him transcended any horrible feature of his physiognomy. The joy in her heart had finally chased away the pang that twisted it?s gnarled, wicked fingers around it and true love for Daedalus had replaced it. Their joy overreached their memories of the past encounter and as they became lost in this new experience the people outside of their little world of two ceased to exist. They began their first time over that night and never looked back at the sad ending of their previous meeting. Though they didn?t realize it, thanks to Lillie, life was worth living again.

A Curious Thing

Two nights later there was a meeting of the Primogens and the Prince was very interested in the recent comings and goings of his friend Daedalus. He had found he was absent the last two nights but had not wanted to intrude because it seemed Daedalus was finally interested in something new. This could be a good thing but Julian was curious as to why his friend had not clued him in on what was preoccupying his time.

It wouldn?t be so unusual if he were any other Kindred, but Daedalus? exile was a self-imposed one, not just a few months ago, but thousands of years ago and he was not used to going out at night unless Julian requested it. While Julian was happy that Daedalus had a new interest, he was concerned that it might not be a healthy one.

He couldn?t just bring it up, he had to find some way to make it seem that Daedalus volunteered the information. His main concern was to protect the masquerade but he could not imagine that Daedalus would do anything to expose their way of life. To suggest it by asking a lot of questions could ruin their friendship. No, he would wait for Daedalus to bring it up.

Julian didn?t have to wait long for the subject to come up for Cameron in his rude and snobbish manner led with his chin once again bating Daedalus because for once he knew something of the Nosferatu?s clandestine outings of late.

Cash attempted to silence Cameron when Julian stood and demanded to know what made Cameron think he could question anything Daedalus would do. No one, not even the Prince had a right to be suspicious of anything Daedalus did in private! This statement didn?t seem to phase Cameron but it caught Daedalus? attention. He did not react to it then but sat quietly while Julian upbraided Cameron for his insolence and demanded he keep his own nose clean or it might someday be removed along with the rest of his head the way his predecessor?s had.

Cameron finally got the point and told Julian to relax and that he was just making an observation. "I?m just the type who keeps his eyes and ears open and when I notice something out of the ordinary, I-",

"Julian! did you bring us together just to listen to Cameron go on and on?" Lillie interjected. She felt she needed to stop him before he said too much and made Julian suspicious. Julian may find out in time that Daedalus was spending time at the club but it was up to Daedalus to inform his Prince, not a loud mouthed Brujah Primogen!

Cameron sneered at Lillie and she just narrowed her eyes till they looked like slits making him feel as if he had just been told to shut up by his mother. This was a humiliation he would not let go without some form of payback but for now he acquiesced, making some remark like he had said all he intended to, . . ., for now. Lillie got his meaning and told herself there was nothing Cameron could do to her that would be as bad as what Julian would do if Cameron blurted out whatever it was he thought he knew about Daedalus? night time activities. Lillie ignored him the rest of evening and when the Primogens and their Prince were through with their business at the conclave she shot Cameron a look that let him know he ought to use some caution and excused himself almost immediately.

Julian intended to talk to Daedalus after the meeting but this animosity between Lillie and Cameron had to be dealt with first. He saw the way Cameron left so quickly instead of doing what he usually does, goading Julian or Cash. Cameron hated Julian for killing his kinsmen, even though he knew Archon had sent Julian to settle a score and that Julian apparently didn?t know the execution was unjust. He also hated Cash because Gangrels were hurting his business interests and he would not tolerate it forever. Someday he would be Prince and then they would all rue the day they had looked down on him and his kind.

In the meantime he would bide his time. He made some inroads and had more respect than Eddie Fiore had from the other clans so he was closer and didn?t have to use brute force to get there. He didn?t really hate Lillie but she antagonized him because he had thought that when he took over and eventually became Prince that she might be his. That would be a real coup for Cameron if he became Prince and took the Prince?s consort with him. What Cameron didn?t know was that having Lillie by his side wouldn?t make him stronger and more respected.

Julian was Prince because he is stronger and respected. It didn?t come after Archon turned the position over to him. He had been groomed for the job and when he was ready, Archon made him Prince. It was his to give and he saw in Julian what he did not see in anyone else. It helped that Archon had sired

Julian and brought him up through the ranks to finally rule the clans but Julian had something even Archon was lacking in and he knew it.

Julian had the power and intelligence of the Nosferatu, the appreciation of fine things and was beautiful to look upon like the Toreador, he was loyal and ready to defend like the Gangrels and he had the tenacity, business prowess and grace of the Ventrue. Oh and one other thing, he was nothing at all like the Brujah. That alone made him a better candidate than anyone else.

Cameron knew nothing of this but if he had, he would have tried to find a way to kill Julian whether or not it meant his own Final Death. It was Archon?s private joke and he kept the Brujah clan at bay with his high mindedness and his ability to make them feel like they were beneath his dignity. It was this that enabled Archon to meet his Final Death at the hand of the very Brujah who now sought to dethrone his successor. He chose it, not Cameron. So in death Archon still held the upper hand over the Brujah. What an insult to them all. Well Cameron would take care of this Ventrue Prince some day with or without Lillie by his side. They would all see.

"What exactly was that all about Lillie?" asked Julian with a certain civility as he gently took her arm and led her to a comfortable overstuffed chair in his study. He handed her some red wine and stood in front of her to block her retreat.

"I couldn?t help but notice that you and Cameron were all but gouging each other?s eyes out in there."

"Now Julian you know I can?t stand him. Ever since he killed Archon he has been making inroads with the other clans in his obvious attempt to usurp your position, and if that isn?t bad enough, he thinks that if he does I will be thrown in with the bargain. As if I belong to whomever stands as Prince of the City!" Lillie glared back at Julian with contempt in her eyes.

Julian understood. He is Prince and at one time Lillie shared his bed and had his love. Now another has replaced her in this respect and Cameron is either too stupid to have noticed or he doesn?t care that it hurts Lillie and so he considers her more of a possession of a Prince than as a woman who is to be loved and cherished. To be given honor and respect. Julian began to feel some grief as he tossed this around in his mind. He had not been honorable toward Lillie or respectful of her feelings. He, being Ventrue, was often ruthless and had no time for kindness with those he had business dealings with. He often forgot she was a woman who loved and may still love him. He would make a greater effort to treat her with more kindness and consideration.

Lillie saw a change in his expression and noted that she had touched a chord in him that she could use to her advantage. She softly touched Julian?s cheek and told him in her most tender tones "You are my Prince, Julian, and whether or not you and I share a bed I will always be devoted to you. You have my word and my heart." She barely touched his hand with hers but she leaned forward and brushed soft lips over it as she kissed his hand with an honesty and love he had never seen in Lillie.

Before he knew what had happened he was stroking her hair and kissing her softly at first and then passionately until she found the strength to push away and run from him with tears streaming down her face.

What had he done? He was in love with another woman and yet he had almost seduced his former lover. The tables had been turned. She was no longer trying to get into his bed but rather now he was trying to get her to come to his. This more than the questions in his mind about Lillie and Cameron so confused him that he completely forgot that he was going to talk to Daedalus that night.

He went to Caitlin and tried to forget what had just happened. He would fall asleep in her arms and would think no more of it.

This was a wasted trip. Julian felt as much guilt over running to Caitlin to forget what he had done to Lillie as he felt toward Lillie for trying to entice her this night when he would ultimately end up with Caitlin. He needed to talk to someone with a level head. He would find Daedalus.

Julian made his way along the maze of tunnels from the edge of his city to Daedalus? abode. He could have flown but he needed time to think and when he arrived at his destination he had more time to think. No one was home. This was not the first time his friend was absent when he came to talk and this time he would wait instead of slipping away to his mansion. Tonight he would get answers to his questions.

What was Daedalus doing away so much?

He was upset and agitated that he was kept in the dark about this and yet he knew it was not for him to police Daedalus? actions. If only his friend would confide in him. He spent a long time looking over the paintings, including the last one Daedalus slashed that night he killed Starkweather. It was a night he would rather not have gone through but he knew it was necessary and more than that, he knew that if he suffered any, he knew that Daedalus endured much more. His great respect and love for this Nosferatu was what kept him from invading his privacy, but enough was enough. It was important that the Prince know what his Primogens were about. If he waited long, it was finally over. He was so immersed in his own thoughts that he did not hear Daedalus enter.

Love Endures All Things

"I wondered when you would come." It was a simple statement but it caught Julian off guard. He was a little jumpy because suddenly he felt like he was somewhere he ought not to be. "It?s alright Julian. I?ve been expecting you since earlier this evening and in fact I had thought you might come here when the business of the meeting was over with but you disappeared, . ., with Lillie."

The words made Julian burn with shame and yet Daedalus could not have known what had happened. Julian noticed that Daedalus had left almost as quickly as Cameron had but the inflection in Daedalus? voice made him wonder.

"I have come here the last two nights to talk and you were gone. I was simply not going to leave tonight without talking. I?ve missed our conversations" Julian said with no shame this time.

"I too have missed your company Julian and I apologize for my absences" Daedalus said and then opened a bottle of wine and handed Julian a glass. He said no more about it, which made Julian a little, agitated again. The last real conversation they had was the night he saved Elaine?s life and he had no desire to bring it up now out of regard for his friend?s feelings but he didn?t know of any other way to get into it so he said again he missed talking to Daedalus and wondered if things would ever be the same between them since that fateful night.

He half expected Daedalus to turn on him in rage for reminding him of the greatest pain he had ever felt, but Daedalus didn?t display any rage. He was calm and as he approached Julian, he repeated a gesture he had made that night. He kissed Julian?s hand and said that he hoped they would always be as they were but some things had changed in his life that made him take his leave more often than he would normally.

Here it comes, thought Julian. "I?m listening Daedalus" said Julian coolly. He didn?t want to seem overly anxious but Daedalus was not fooled.

"As I said when I came in, I wondered when you would come. I was walking a thin line between life and the abyss lately and I think it is time you knew what has been happening." Daedalus was strangely calm and the words he had just spoken made Julian uneasy. What did he mean "between life and the abyss?" Julian wondered.

As if reading his mind, Daedalus said "Julian, I was at the Haven these last two nights." This was the last thing Julian expected to hear. His eyes were wide and his disbelief was unmistakable. "You?re shocked by this. I would have been too considering that the two nights I visited the Haven are the same nights that Elaine sang there."

Now Julian was totally baffled! "I-I, I?m speechless!" Julian uttered in almost a whisper.

"This will take some time to explain so you might as well get comfortable because you will be up quite late listening to the most unbelievable story you have ever heard" Daedalus told him, pouring him more wine.

"There had been reports of violence at the Haven recently and whether I had any business trying to help was, I felt, totally up to me so I offered my assistance and to give Lillie some peace of mind" Daedalus said with no emotion at all in his voice.

Why didn?t I hear of this violence?" Julian demanded.

"Perhaps you were too busy with other business and couldn?t be reached."

Julian began to protest but Daedalus interrupted him "sometimes it?s too painful to share things with the one you love when that one is in love with someone else."

Julian felt cut to the heart and his anger fled out of remorse for what he had done earlier. There was no justification for his actions toward Lillie or Caitlin this night so he sat quietly while Daedalus shared the events that led up to tonight. He carefully left out the part where Lillie introduced the idea to him and for Julian?s part he never suspected her. Daedalus was no liar. He was simply a reasonable and sensible man who had no reason to betray Lillie?s confidence. As far as Julian knew, this was completely Daedalus? idea and when told of the surprise entrance at the door of Lillie?s upstairs chamber at the Haven Julian even chuckled. He could see how the disguise would fool even Lillie. So the elimination of one tiny detail helped carve the story in stone.

"How do you handle it?" Julian asked "I mean, seeing Elaine and not letting her see you?"

"Ah, but I don?t have to handle it. She has seen me and we have even spoken."

Julian was at once on his feet when Daedalus told him it was all right.

"Elaine saw through my disguise and knew me as the man who made love to her one night and fled her apartment the next morning. She was told I was a new member of Lillie?s security team and she saw right through it. She has been waiting for me to return all these months and had no idea how to tell me." She does not know what I really am but for the first time in years she feels safe and loved. It is more than she or I ever thought possible and yet it is true" explained Daedalus.

"I don?t understand why Cash didn?t tell me there was a security problem at the Haven" Julian said.

"I asked him not to mention it to you because it in no way threatened the masquerade and I felt I needed time to know whether or not this would work before I told you myself. He respected my choice to be the one to tell you so long as I did not wait too long. He told me that he felt you might suspect something after Cameron?s outburst at the meeting tonight and out of loyalty to you he insisted that you be told. I put him in a difficult position by invading his turf and asking him not to tell you so I would appreciate your not being angry with Cash. He has done me a great service in allowing me to take over some of his responsibilities at the club" Daedalus said.

"Oh I?m sure he was willing, given the fact that this would allow him the opportunity to give Sasha more attention" Julian said with a slight smile. He saw the sense in it but also the humor and humanness of the situation. Yes he wanted to be kept informed but he also respected his Primogen?s rights and needs. "Alright, I won?t chew Cash out for keeping his word to you and I can see why you wanted time to see how events would turn out before telling me about it. So now I know what?s going on. I?ll allow it to continue as long as the masquerade is not endangered and you are available when I need you. And, if you need me, I?m here for you Daedalus" Julian said with kindness and concern for his closest friend.

Daedalus thanked Julian and as they parted Julian asked if Daedalus had gone to the Haven tonight after the meeting.

"Yes I was there and now that the threat to Elaine is over I felt I could return to talk to you. Now I must take my leave and find her." They shared a look that said they knew now that things would be all right.

Julian found his way back to his mansion, alone, and Daedalus flew to Elaine as she was preparing to leave the club.

She didn?t hear him but knew he was there as he asked "Leaving alone at this time of the night? It is not safe on the streets for a young woman to be out alone."

A smile crossed her lips, and as they parted, his lips met hers so softly that they barely touched, yet the intensity from the pain replaced by the sheer joy they now felt was tenderly conveyed to each other. They felt a tremor coursing through them that made them feel the earth was opening up beneath their feet and they had only each other to cling to. Elaine felt like a helpless, weightless creature in his arms and Daedalus felt such strength that he would hold onto her forever and keep her safe from harm. It was the sweetest pleasure either had ever experienced and as she leaned into his chest and felt his arms encircle her protectively she could not keep from smiling knowing that if anyone had ever told her, and she was sure they had, that you can?t turn back time or that you can?t go back and change things, she knew that it was possible. The time they had together now would not be wasted because something told her that it was to be safeguarded at all cost. It was the most precious thing in her life and nothing could come between them or threaten their happiness.

While neither of them knew how long this would last, Daedalus and Elaine both knew there was something more than love here.