Round Robin 1

By:Various writers.


       The sky was so full of stars that it was the black he noticed most.  His 
breath rolling in a silky vapor into the night, Julian looked out over his city.  
He stood there, his arms crossed over his chest, his legs in a solid stance.  
        He loved the city.  Stretching out one hand, he eclipsed the distant 
lights, the distant turmoil, the distant humanity.  Like a jewel, the city lay 
under his hand.  He protected his city with his power.  He governed the clans, 
and with his fortunes, he governed the humans.  They did not know his power, and 
it was well to keep the it that way.  
        He loved the night.  He loved walking through its tenderness.  He loved 
how its dark could be so thick as it caressed his thoughts.  But this night 
rolled with turmoil.  The moment Lillie had said, "Walk with me," he knew something 
disturbed her.  Whatever disturbed her would ultimately disturb him.  After they 
had returned from The Haven and come back to the mansion, she asked him to meet her 
out on the bluff over the city, out where he often drank in the night.  
        Standing there, he sensed her.  He knew her because she was Kindred as he 
was.  He knew her blood, and he knew her perfume.  He heard her footfalls on the 
stones of the walkway.  Breaking his gaze away from his city, he turned to her, 
admiring how she carried herself as she approached, her arms wrapping her shawl 
tightly around her shoulders.  Dark and lithe, Lillie was beauty itself.  
        Stepping beside him, she too cast her eyes over the spread of lights 
across the bay.  "The sky glows like its mirror tonight," she murmured.  
        Julian stepped behind her taking the chill away with his arms as they 
engulfed her.  "I can't remember when it looked quite like this," he spoke into 
her hair.  
        A long silence fell between them.  A breeze stroked the long grass at 
the bluff's edge.  It rustled the trees.  Finally, Julian spoke, "I can't remember 
when you asked me to take a walk with you."  
        "I don't believe I ever have."  
        "Why do you now?"  
        Lillie turned within his arms, pressing herself back a bit, putting a 
distance between them that Julian suddenly felt very deeply.  She said, "I need 
you to come and see someone."
        "Someone? Who?" This was not among the things he had suspected.
        "Someone." Julian could feel Lillie tensing; he had rarely seen her like 
this before. Something was seriously wrong. Lillie gathered her shawl around 
her, clutched it in hands almost white from the vice-like grip. Suddenly, 
the night air did not feel as calming as it had always done.
        "He's at one of my apartments downtown. Julian, you need to come and see 
him, now! I don't dare to take him here." The words left Lillie's mouth in a 
rush. Julian stared. He had never seen Lillie even half as shaken as now.
        Trying to comfort her, he gathered her close to his body and gave her a 
quick kiss on her cheek. He was at loss on how to deal with a slightly 
hysterical Lillie Langtry. Truth to be told, it was usually the other way 
around.
        "Why are you afraid of bringing him here?" Maybe focusing on facts would 
help.
        Lillie lifted her head from Julian's shoulder and gave him a small, slightly 
embarrassed smile. "Dear, I shall explain everything once we get there. Can 
you come? I have my car waiting."
        Julian studied Lillie's face for a minute. He did in fact have several 
important meetings tonight, but the look in the eyes made him decide to 
forget them. Within five minutes, they were heading for Lillie's apartment, 
Lillie herself driving.

*******************************************************

        The area around the apartment was among the scruffiest that could be found 
in this part of town. The fašades of the five stories buildings were dirty, 
with crumbling mortar and paint peeling from windows and doors. The alleys 
beside the buildings, as well as the streets in front of them, were strewn 
with fast food wrappings, coke cans, and heaps of ripped paper and dead 
leaves. No people wandered the streets at this time of night, not here. The 
sound of the car's engine was the only sound as Julian and Lillie pulled up 
outside one of the houses.
        The elevator didn't work, and the stairs lacked a railing and several steps. 
Julian, acting on habits so deeply embedded in him that they almost were 
instincts, offered Lillie his arm as she climbed the stairs in her 
high-heeled shoes. She smiled at him, accepting his help and his support. 
Finally, they reached the top-floor.
        Four worn doors faced them. Lillie pulled a key out of her handbag and 
unlocked the door to the left.
        The hall she let herself and Julian into was empty of all furniture save an 
old rug on the floor and a naked light bulb in the ceiling. From the 
hallway, Julian could see two doors, both closed.
        As Julian let his senses search the small apartment, Lillie walked past him, 
opening another door and leading the way further into the apartment.
        Standing on the threshold, Julian detected another presence in the room. 
Just as he had sensed Lillie earlier that night, seen, heard and smelled 
her, he sensed another of his kind in this room. Someone of the same kind as 
he and Lillie, yet not entirely the same. And very young.
        Lillie had moved towards a sofa at the far wall. Someone sat, huddled up, on 
the floor beside the sofa. A young man, with short brown hair, dressed in 
jeans and a  blue shirt. He rested his forehead on his knees, hiding his 
face.
        Kindred. Julian knew it even before he laid his eyes on the fledging. Moving 
closer, he watched as Lillie tried to comfort the newborn one, rubbing his 
back and making cooing noises. It was of no use. The youngster was evidently 
still going through the change, and no amount of rubbing and cooing could 
soothe that pain. The pain of feeling your body die around you, while you 
were trapped inside it.
        Julian frowned. Was this yet another fledging abandoned by his sire? He 
could easily feel that the youngster wasn't Toreador, wasn't Lillie's 
childe. So why should she take care of him, and bring him here instead of 
Julian's maison? As Julian pondered these questions, the fledging moaned 
softly and let his head roll back and rest against the sofa. Julian saw, for 
the first time, his face, and could feel his blood freeze in his veins.
        The fledging was Frank Kohanek.
        "Julian, I can't tell what clan he is!" 
        Lillie's eyes were filled with worry. At her age and with her powers, she 
should have been able to tell Frank's bloodline just by being in the same room as 
he. Yet, even sitting next to him and touching his skin, she felt only the presence 
of another Kindred. She watched silently as Julian sat down in front of the moaning 
fledgling and put his hands on Frank's face forcing the younger man's eyes to meet 
his. The exchange took less than a minute, but still she felt the touch of cold 
fingers down her spine when Julian let go and immediately veiled his eyes. Sliding 
closer to him, she grabbed a fist-full of his shirt
        "Julian, talk to me! Why can't I feel his clan?"
        "There's nothing to tell. He's a Caitiff, Lillie. Clanless. Even if we 
find his sire, Frank's Generation is too weak for him to portray any clan features." 
Julian's voice was sad as he watched yet another person in his care forced into a 
life that was going to bring Frank nothing but trouble. First his niece, then a 
friend... Forgive me, Alexandra, I tried.
        "But I don't understand." Lillie shook her head. "Even amongst the Brujah 
the latest Generation is 11th. Clan features don't disappear until after the 15th 
Generation. Cash and his Gangrels are all 9th, none of my Toreador are later than 
10th and your Ventrue are no younger than 9th."
        "So we have an undiscovered newcomer...I don't know." Julian ran his fingers 
through his hair. "That doesn't fit either. Both the Gangrel and the Nosferatu have 
been extra vigilant after Archon's death. If someone new had arrived, we would know 
of it."
        "Could it be Tremere or Sabbat?" Lillie mentioned the newest of the clans 
and the barbaric alliance made up of Lasombra and Tzimisce clans with disgust. 
Neither was welcome in San Francisco or any of the domains bordering Julian's city.
        "No, when I searched Frank, I found n...no trace... Lillie, even if Frank 
had been clanless, I would have sensed more than the fact that he was Kindred. He 
isn't Caitiff at all. Somehow his Clan is being shielded from us. Which means that 
whoever did this knew who he was and what he meant to me. But I can't think of a 
single Kindred in this city who could shield the clan identity of their Childe, 
especially from Kindred as old as we." Julian frowned. "Where did you find him?"
        "He was walking between the cars on Broadway. Toreador Hunting Ground, but 
near the border to the Brujah's area. But it's also near his apartment. Maybe that's 
where it happened. Whoever did this cornered him there, was waiting for him maybe, 
and after the Embrace Frank managed to get away."
        "Or was allowed to get away. But you're right, we need to look at his 
apartment. I'm going to call Cash and have him meet us here with my car."

                                *****

        Lillie worried. Frank was in agony, but the Change hadn't proceeded far 
enough that either she or Julian had been able to feed him. Still, it was close. 
Soon his organs would start shutting down on him one after the other. Before her 
own Embrace she had thought it would go quickly. An exchange of blood and that was 
that. Instead it had taken hours. Hours of terrible agony mingled with fear. Hours 
of time to regret and wonder if you had been cheated. And she had come willingly. 
From what she knew of the young cop such had not been the case with Frank Kohanek.
        Now as Julian's car neared Frank's apartment the fledgling started to moan. 
He had been trying to say something several times but each time Julian and Lillie 
had hushed him. Lillie did so again now.
        "Shhh, Frank, I know it hurts, but the pain will go away soon, I promise. 
We are going to find out who did this to you. Julian won't let your Embrace go 
unavenged."
        As before, the words had no visible effect on him, but there was little 
else she could do. She looked up as Lorraina pulled over the car while Cash jumped 
out to check the street before opening the door on Julian's side. They had agreed 
to keep Frank's Embrace a secret between the four of them. Cash, Lillie, and 
Lorraina would take turns guarding the fledgling until Julian decided it was time 
to bring him into Kindred society. Until his formal presentation before the other 
Primogens, Frank would be fair game. Only Kindred who had been presented formally 
to the Prince could claim his protection. Since Alexandra's death, the young cop 
had made far too many enemies in the city.
        They found the door to Frank's apartment standing open. Cash slowly edged 
his way through followed by Lorraina, while Julian and Lillie propping up Frank 
made up the rear. The sight that met them in the living room proved that Frank's 
Embrace had not been welcome. The phosphorus gun Sonny had provided Frank lay by 
the doorway. Lorraina picked it up and silently indicated to the others that the 
weapon had been emptied before it had been thrown. The sofa was torn to pieces, 
though whether by human or Kindred hand was hard to tell. Two tables lay together 
in the middle of the room like two old friends leaning on each other for support. 
Most of the dark blankets Frank had hung in front of the windows when he started 
working the night shift lay in dark puddles on the floor as the moon shone on the 
sorry mess. 
        "Julian, check this out." Cash said.  He had moved towards the other end 
of the room and now pointed to a chair which had been pushed into a corner. A 
small comfy armchair made of leather. Leather which was now soaked in someone's 
blood. A slow moan escaped Lillie as they all wondered how much of a fight it must 
have taken for a Kindred to lose that much of a victim's blood. Then Cash frowned 
and moved closer to the chair.  "There's two different scents. I'm sure of it. 
One's sort of female, you know, with a shadow of perfume still lingering.."
        "LET HIM GOOOOOOOO!!!!!" 
        The scream tore through the quiet room and had the four Kindred dropping 
to the floor as they twisted back toward the doorway they had just entered. Before 
the sound had faded, Cash and Lorraina had their guns trained at the young girl who 
had come up behind them. A young Kindred girl, obviously newborn but further through 
the Change than Frank. She looked to be in her late teens. A pale, slim figure of a 
girl with frightened blue eyes and tousled brown curls down to her waist. Her jeans 
seemed to have avoided destruction but her skimpy top was torn and covered in blood. 
        "LET HIM GO OR I'LL TEAR YOUR BLOODY HEART OUT!"
        "Let's give her some room, Julian. I don't think she means to harm him." 
Lillie slid Frank to the floor slowly and took a step away from him, indicating for 
the others to move back as well.
        Tears of blood slid down the young girl's face as she moved carefully 
toward them. Reaching Frank, who was starting to come around, she kneeled down 
eside him and moved his upper body into her arms all the while keeping an eye on 
the four Kindred. Gently kissing his cheek, she rested her forehead against his.
        "Daddy."
        Julian and Lillie stared at each other in shock and then stared at the 
spectacle before them.  "Daddy?" Lillie silently mouthed at Julian, but all he 
did was shake his head, helpless to explain.
        "Kathleen," Frank moaned, "Wha--"
        "Daddy!"  The young adolescent was practically beside herself in delight 
at having been recognized.
        Frank tried to push her off but she clung to him all the more.  Finally 
Lillie stepped over, approaching slowly so as not to disturb the girl.  Gently 
reaching out, Lillie placed her hands on her shoulders and tugged her away from 
Frank.  Frank aided the process, becoming increasingly cognoscente with each 
passing moment.
        "Lillie," he said upon spying her.  He vaguely took in his 
surroundings - barely giving Julian a passing glance - then turned his attention 
back to the upset girl.  He cupped her chin with a hand and frowned upon taking 
in her wild appearance and bloodied face owing to the tears she had been crying.  
"Kathleen?" he asked, puzzled.  "What's happened --"
        "Oh, Daddy, I'm so sorry!" Kathleen sobbed.  "I tried to stop 
them - but I couldn't.  I never wanted for this to happen."  She broke down 
crying.
        Lillie knelt down awkwardly beside the barely made Fledgling and stroked 
her tangled locks.  She motioned for Cash and Lorraina to put down their weapons.  
After looking to Julian for confirmation, they did just that although suspicion 
still plainly evident on their faces.  Lillie then looked at Frank for an 
explanation.  Meanwhile, Frank Kohanek had righted himself, and managed to stand.  
Julian came forward to offer his assistance, which the detective immediately 
declined with a scowl.  He got a closer look at his squalid surroundings and 
shook his head in disgust.  "What a dump," he said unceremoniously.  Then a look 
of pain racked his face and he groaned.  "What's happening?"
        "Frank," Julian said kindly.  "Do you remember anything about the past 
few hours?"
        Frank just shook his head.  "You pop up everywhere, you know that?" 
he muttered.

        "Please, Frank.  It's very important."
        Frank gave an exasperated sigh which immediately turned into another 
moan.  He grabbed his midsection.  "Julian," he breathed.  "I think I need to 
go to a hospital."  
        Upon hearing that, Kathleen started to cry more loudly.  Frank gave 
himself a little shake and then stared at her in surprise as if only realizing 
her presence for the first time.  "Kathleen!  What the...?"
        He immediately crouched down beside her and Lillie.  "What's happened 
to you, baby?" he asked.  He wiped at her reddened cheeks then seemed relived 
when he couldn't find any discernable cut or scratches on her face which may 
have been causing her to bleed.  He obviously didn't understand that she was 
Kindred, and that he had been wiping away tear marks.  Frank looked up at 
Julian.  "Julian," he said.  "You've gotta get us both to the hospital.  She 
looks terrible."
        Julian hesitated, uncertain how best to proceed.  Frank was obviously 
unaware that he had been Embraced.  Julian didn't know even begin to know what 
to think about the sobbing Kathleen.  He decided on the partial truth.  
"Frank, you were attacked by Kindred not more than a few hours ago.  It 
appears that...this young lady was as well."
        Frank scowled fiercely.  "This 'young lady,'" he said, mimicking 
Julian's precise tones, "is barely fourteen and she happens to be my 
step-daughter Kathleen.  Now are you gonna get us to the hospital or do I 
take her there myself?"
        Step-daughter? thought Julian.  That would certainly explain things.  
Long ago when Frank Kohanek had begun his investigation of Julian Luna as the 
city's mob boss, Julian Luna had begun a private investigation of the then 
human detective who was seeking to bring him down.   Through the course of 
that investigation he had learned of Frank's wife's suicide.  He had also 
learned that while it had been Frank's first marriage, it had been her second.
        "Step-daughter?"  That was from Lillie.  
        Frank sighed.  He put his arms around Kathleen and hugged the girl 
for a moment, which seemed to calm her more than Lillie's well-meaning 
caresses.  "Yeah, step-daughter.  Linda's ex had custody of her."  He stood, 
rubbing his temple.
        "What's she doing here?" Julian questioned, urgent to get to the 
bottom of this worrisome state of affairs.
        "Well, not that it's any of your business," groused Frank, "but I 
got a call from her at six.  She was all frantic saying she'd run away.  
She said it wasn't because of her family but she was running from some people 
who wanted to get her. She hitched a ride all the way from L.A. and was 
calling me from a pay phone.  She didn't even know where she was."  Frank 
stared down at Kathleen with concern.  "I had her give me the number on the 
pay phone she was using and then traced it to all the way to a small town 
outside the city.  Manzanita, or something like that."
        Julian started.  Behind him, Cash and Lorraina exchanged glances.  
Lillie's eyebrows rose.  
        "Manzanita?" Julian repeated Frank's words.  "What happened there?"
        Frank shrugged and rubbed at his temple some more.  "I remember 
picking her up outside the small grocery where the pay phone was...then...
nothing.  Julian, what's going here?"
        "I wish I knew," Julian sighed.  "Can she tell us anything?"
        Frank reached down and pulled Kathleen to her feet, Lillie helped 
Kathleen to rise, standing as well.  
        "Kathleen?" began Frank.  "You remember what happened to us?"
        Kathleen shook her head vigorously.  "I can't tell," she said 
teary-eyed.  "You'll be mad, Daddy."
        Julian noticed Frank wince slightly at the appellation.  Frank 
pushed back a stray lock of hair from Kathleen's face.  "It's okay, 
Kathleen.  You don't need to call me that anymore."
        Kathleen sniffed and nodded.  "I'm - I'm sorry, Fr-Frank.  I 
didn't mean for anything bad to happen.  I'm sorry I called you, but I 
didn't know what else to do.  I thought since you were a policeman you 
could handle anything.  But I didn't mean to lead them to you!" And here 
the girl burst out sobbing her blood tears again with Frank staring in 
alarm.
        "Julian!" Frank cried, turning to the Ventrue Prince. "Her 
tears! She.... Kathleen is ..." Frank gulped, unconsciously stepping 
away from the teen-ager with a look of horror on his face.
        "She's Kindred, Frank," Julian said plainly. The prince 
wasn't one for mincing words, and since the partial truth hadn't 
yielded them any usable information, he opted for the whole truth 
this time.
        "Julian. Don't." Lillie's voice went up as she touched 
Julian's arm. The Ventrue turned his head and glared, his eyes flashing 
pewter-silver. The Toreador withdrew, moving across the room to sit 
in one of the upright chairs.
        Julian quickly strode the few steps to catch up with the 
retreating cop. He had come to care for this man beyond even his own 
understanding. It had started as a simple vow made to a lost love. 
But something had clicked between the two men, a bond without 
benefit of blood exchange, and Julian had come to truly like Frank 
Kohanek. He felt he owed the man the truth, even if he wasn't sure 
he wanted to deal with the consequences. "And so are you, Frank." 
        Frank stopped backing up. "I'm what?"
        "Kindred. One of us." Before Frank could flinch away, Julian 
grabbed his shoulders, steadying him. "Frank, look at me."
        "I didn't want to be one of you," Frank spat out. He jerked, 
but was unable to break Julian's clutching grip. "You said you'd 
protect me."
        Julian leaned in, his face inches from the other man's. 
"Frank, I don't know who did this. I don't understand what 
happened or why." His voice dropped an octave, deepening into a 
near hypnotic tone. "But I do know that you can get through it." 
He paused, waiting until Frank's eyes had met his. "I need you 
calm, Frank."
        "It hurts, Julian."
        "I know, Frank. I can do something about that." The new 
Kindred nodded in agreement. "Let's sit down," Julian said, 
releasing his grip on the other man. Frank collapsed where he stood, 
sinking to the floor against a pillow that should have been on the 
sofa. 
        The Ventrue stared, speechless for an instant. "That's not 
exactly where I meant, Frank." He dropped to the floor behind the 
cop. "But it'll do." Julian shrugged off his coat and rolled up his 
sleeve. "Frank, lean back." The other did as he was told, settling 
into the space between the Ventrue's legs and relaxing against 
Julian's chest. In a split second, Julian had cut into his own wrist 
and lifted the bloodied arm to Frank's lips. "Drink, Frank. It'll 
assuage the hunger, dull the pain."
        Frank wrapped his fingers around Julian's hand. "I didn't 
want to be this, Julian. Never wanted this." He pressed his mouth 
against the flesh around the wound and Julian immediately felt the 
ecstasy of feeding, the rush of his lifeforce flowing into another. 
        The prince slipped his free arm around Frank's chest and 
clutched him tightly. He looked up, beyond their bodies, and took 
in the chaos of the apartment. Lillie had settled; he couldn't tell 
if she was truly frightened by what had transpired or was just staying 
out of his way, but either way, she was unnaturally quiet. Cash and 
Lorraina hovered around Kathleen; the teen, or rather Frank Kohanek's 
stepdaughter, had crossed her arms high over her chest and was 
shivering as she swayed to some unknown beat. "Cash, see if you can't 
find something warmer for Kathleen."
        "Yes, sir," the Gangrel snapped. Before he could move, 
Lorraina had retrieved a blanket from the floor and passed it off 
to him. "Thanks." He took a step around the teen, holding the maroon 
blanket outstretched between his hands. "Here, this will take some 
of the chill off." Cash froze, staring at her shoulder blade where 
the threads of a spaghetti strap crossed. "Shit," he muttered. 
"She's marked."
        "What? Who?" The voice was Lillie's, almost too soft to 
be heard.
        Cash roughly draped the blanket over Kathleen's shoulders, 
covering the dagger-pointed cross tattoo he had recognized as the 
Ravnos clan signet. "Julian, she's Ravnos." He leaned in, sniffing 
at her neck. She jerked forward. "I can scent it on her now. 
Barely. She's fucking Ravnos," the Gangrel murmured.
         "I heard you the first time, Cash," Julian said, his voice 
too calm. The Ventrue lightly tugged his arm away from Frank's 
mouth. "Enough, Frank. For now." He nudged the Ravnos fledgling 
forward. "Well, we know which clan you are. It remains to be seen 
why you were Embraced. And for that, Kathleen needs to explain 
exactly why she left Los Angeles." Julian slipped out from behind 
Frank and stood up, leaving his jacket on the floor. He swiped his 
tongue over the wound, its blood disappearing before he finished; 
he let the sleeve roughly unroll itself as he moved back to the 
room's other fledgling.
        "Kathleen, we haven't been properly introduced," Julian 
started as he gently gripped her wrists and uncross her arms. 
"I am Julian Luna, and I am Prince of San Francisco." He looked 
into her eyes; they were fixed on him. "Does that mean anything 
to you?"
        "No," she said softly.
        "Do you know what you are?" He gently rubbed at the pulse 
points on her wrists, knowing the pressure would ease both the 
queasiness in her stomach and the rage in her brain.
        "Vampire?" she muttered, a half question. "I watched you 
feed Frank your blood."
        "Kindred." The word came from behind Julian. The voice was 
Frank's. "They ... uh, I guess ... we ... prefer Kindred, 
Kathleen."
        Julian fought back the chuckle in his heart at the former 
mortal's correction. "Yes, Kathleen, the word is Kindred. And you 
are one of us now, just like Frank." He eased her arms down to 
her sides, letting go but keeping a light touch on the flesh. 
"And, as Cash as noted, you're apparently of the clan Ravnos."
        "Ravnos," she said, speaking in a near stage whisper. 
"That was what Alexi called himself."
        "Alexi?"
        "The man who chased me here. The one-" her voice broke 
into a sob again. "I'm so sorry, Frank. I didn't mean for them to 
hurt you," she cried.
        Julian lightly gripped her wrists again, focusing her 
attention on him. "Why did Alexi follow you here?"
        Kathleen swallowed, licking her lips. "He wanted me. I 
thought just to be his girl. I was fine with that. He's just a 
few years older than me, said he was of gypsy blood. And he had 
this kick-ass bike, black and sleek and so cool ..." She looked 
up at the snicker that came off her left side. Cash threw up his 
hands in an apologetic defense and backed off. "I got the tattoo 
then. He said it was so the rival gang wouldn't hassle me."
        "It's how the gypsies mark their mortals, Julian," Cash 
interjected. "Before they're ready to enthrall them."
        Julian inclined his head, acknowledging Cash's input, 
but kept his eyes on Kathleen's face. "What happened then, 
Kathleen? Why did you run away from him?"
        "It wasn't Alexi I ran from. Markus, his brother, wanted 
me to do things .... steal and such ..." She tilted her head to 
gaze past Julian to where Frank still sat on the floor. "I'm not 
a bad girl. I thought if he knew I was related to a cop, he'd 
back off." She looked back into Julian's face, trying to read the 
emotions hidden in his black eyes and smooth, olive complexion. 
"But then Alexi came after me. And Markus was with him." She 
couldn't understand why she felt compelled to tell him everything, 
but it was spilling out. "I hitched a ride with a trucker headed 
for the wine country. That's why I ended up in Manzanita. And that's 
where they caught up to me, just after I called Frank. Markus made 
Alexi ..." her voice broke as she fought back the tears. She was 
determined not to cry again. "He bit me. My throat. Hurt like 
hell. Frank found me after that, and brought me back here." She 
swallowed hard. "Markus and Frank fought, then he shot him. I 
think that's what he did. Markus just wasn't there. Alexi ran off."
        "That's who I chased then?" Frank asked. "This Alexi?" 
        Julian let go of Kathleen's arms and spun on heel at the 
words. He saw that Frank had pulled himself up the wall and was 
rubbing his temple.
        "I vaguely remember it. I know I fought off someone, and 
I know he was Kindred. Knew I had to keep him from biting me," 
Frank said as he ran his hand down across face and cupped the 
back of his neck. "I didn't though. He bit me. The first one. The 
one I shot. But I didn't bite him. I don't think so." He slammed 
his head back into the wall. "Oh, shit, I can't deal with this."
        "Yes, you can, Frank. We'll all deal with it," Julian 
said. He glanced over at the Gangrel. "Cash, my bet is that Alexi 
is still in San Francisco. Can your Gangrel find him?"
        "Yes, Julian," the primogen answered quickly.
        "Good. I'd rather avoid an all-out blood hunt if I can." 
Julian moved to retrieve his jacket. "Frank, go pack a bag. I want 
you and Kathleen to stay at the mansion until we sort this out. 
It'll be easier for you to manage the change there."
        Frank didn't protest, which almost astounded the Ventrue; 
he just walked slowly down the hallway toward his bedroom. Julian 
knew the cop wasn't usually this acquiescing. It was obvious that 
becoming Kindred was going to be quite an adjustment. "Lillie," 
Julian said, turning back to the main room, "do you think you and 
Lorraina could find some things for Kathleen to wear?"
        "Of course, Julian," the Toreador said, rising from her 
seat. "No problem."
        Cash took a step toward his prince and leaned in, 
whispering against the other's cheek. "Julian, do you want 
Alexi alive?"
        "If possible, Cash. I think Frank deserves to face his 
sire."
        Cash's voice dropped lower than a stage whisper. "Julian, 
how's a cop gonna take being part of a clan that considers 
lawlessness a virtue."
        None of them noticed the thoughtful look that crossed 
Lillie's face. Something was definitely odd about this whole 
business. And the Toreador had realised along with the others 
that the girl was the key. Using her Kindred powers, Lillie 
carefully examined Kathleen. Unlike Julian she didn't have the 
powers to control someone's mind simply by looking into their 
eyes. Well, not any more than did most women. A mental snicker 
followed that thought, but then she returned her attention to the 
girl. Or rather, the girl's aura. Kindred called it Auspex this 
ability to see other people's aura's. Not just a vague colour 
that surrounded a person, but minute details that could signify 
both changes of a person's inner emotions as well as outer 
interference. Being Kindred made Kathleen's aura pale, but that 
didn't hide the other tell tale signs. Like shadows playing on 
water colours and shapes came together to form a pattern Lillie 
had no trouble recognising. Kathleen might smell like Ravnos, but 
her aura was pure Brujah. The passion and constantly simmering 
rage, which so claimed these so-called 'Angry Kindred', was clear 
in the shadows beginning to form the girl's aura. What seemed 
strange was the fact that it was still only shadows. Even in 
someone so new to the Embrace the traces should have been much 
stronger, more solid. All of which told Lillie that it was 
Kathleen herself who hid her true identity. But the girl had told 
Julian she didn't know what Kindred was so why would she find it 
necessary to mask her aura. And more importantly how did she do 
it? Noticing that Kathleen was looking at her strangely Lillie 
slid her eyes downwards and decided that she would wait with 
sharing the information until they had arrived safely at the 
compound.
        The ride back to Julian's compound took place in silence. 
Staring out the window, Julian pondered the events of the night. 
For the second time in less than a year someone under his 
protection had been Embraced against their will. And he foresaw 
that Frank's Embrace would be every bit as volatile as Sasha's 
had been. Not to mention this girl. A 14-year-old child. Frank's 
Embrace created a threat because it showed Julian's inability to 
protect what was his. But Kathleen's Embrace would create a 
furious outcry from the entire Kindred society. No one was 
Embraced that young! 
        "...and once it is known that someone who had my specific 
protection could be violated that easily, all hell will break 
loose." Pinching the bridge of his nose between thumb and 
forefinger Julian walked back and forth in the library of his 
home. "We need to take precautionary measures and we need to find 
this Alexi, preferably Marcus as well. The last thing I need is 
Cyrus laying claim to Frank and Kathleen as Los Angeles Kindred."
        Daedalus, who had been filling Cameron in on what had 
happened, looked up to shake his head sadly. "You may not be able 
to stop him, Julian. The traditions of the Masquerade are shaky 
enough that Cyrus could give you a fight if he wanted to. For now 
the fact that you have possession of them is your only advantage."
        Shaking his head in frustration Julian closed his eyes and 
out of old habit reached for Lillie's hand. Seeking her support. 
When she failed to take it he opened his eyes and looked at her 
noting for the first time how preoccupied she had become. "Lillie, 
what is it?"
        The Toreador shook her head as if waking from a dream. 
"I'm not sure about Frank, but the girl is not Ravnos. She's 
Brujah..."
        "WHAT!!! Lillie, I recognised her scent. AND she's got their 
tattoo. Kathleen is Ravnos." Cash had come out of his chair with a 
mixture of shock at the suggestion and insult that the Toreador 
Primogen should draw his abilities into question.
        "Her aura was Brujah, Cash! I know she has a knife tattooed 
on her back, I know that she reeked of Ravnos and I can't explain 
that, but I know she's Brujah! What's worse, I have a feeling that 
her Clan isn't the main problem..." Turning to face Julian she 
continued "...Kathleen is hiding her Clan. I don't think she's doing 
it on purpose, or in order to mislead us. But for some reason her 
mental shields are very strong. The aura I saw was shadowed. Although 
the colours and patterns were unmistakable they kept appearing and 
disappearing. And I think the girl knows a lot more than she's told 
us. Even if she didn't know Kindred that doesn't mean she's not 
hiding anything."
        "Well, why don't we ask her to join us? If she's Brujah 
she'll be my responsibility anyway. I need to see her." Cameron 
leaned back in his chair while surveying the other Primogen. Perhaps 
this girl would provide an opportunity to assert his position in San 
Francisco. The whole city needed to know that Cameron Randall was a 
man of action, not a Prince's puppet!
        Cash returned shortly with Kathleen. The girl had changed 
into a short black Chanel skirt, courtesy of Lillie, and a tight 
black t-shirt, which Julian remembered seeing on Sasha. Black 
stiletto heels and a small amount of makeup transformed the 
distraught teenager from Frank's apartment into a beautiful young 
woman.
        "No way is she 14 years old!" 
        Kathleen grimaced at Cameron's comment. "Dad..Frank, always 
mixes that up. My sister Meghan's 14, I'm 16. And a half. I'll be 17 
on April Fools'..." 
        "Kathleen. We are having some doubt regarding what clan you 
belong to. I need you to go over the time before your Embrace in 
detail so we can try to piece the events together." He glanced at 
Lillie. "First of all, can you think of any reason why we should not 
be able to read your aura correctly?"
        Kathleen's quickly downcast eyes told their own story. 
Walking over to her Lillie put a comforting arm around her shoulders. 
"Kathleen, we are Kindred. What humans call vampires. Whatever it is 
there is nothing you can tell us which we wont understand."
        "I'm afraid." The words came out a whisper and the girl's 
nervous hand movements told of her agitation. Julian stepped towards 
her and held out his hands to her letting his eyes display 
understanding and comfort. Kathleen looked at him and hugged herself 
close, refusing to take his hands but she didn't step away either. 
        Putting his hands in his pockets Julian took a step closer. 
"Kathleen. I am very fond of your step-father. I not only like him, 
I also respect him. I gave my word to someone that I would do 
anything in my power to protect him. It's too late to protect him as 
a human, but it's not too late to protect him from other Kindred. 
Especially the Prince of Los Angeles, who hates me and would enjoy 
seeing Frank tortured to death in order to spite me. Kathleen, I 
need your help."
        Tears started rolling down the girl's cheeks, but after a 
moment she nodded to herself as if having come to a decision. "I 
didn't recognise what you are. But I knew about Kindred. I've known 
for a long time. I...you see...I'm a witch. That's why you can't 
read my aura properly. I was taught to shield myself, both from 
Kindred and other witches. I, I have wild magic. Sort of a raw power. 
It makes me stronger than other witches, because I don't need spells 
and rituals. And it makes me a temptation to those who want my 
blood, whether it's to absorb my powers through feeding of me or 
using my blood in incantations. Tonight wasn't the first time that 
Kindred tried to feed off of me..."
        Iron will was the only thing that kept Julian's face looking 
calm, when he could feel pure elemental fear attempting to take 
control of his body. A witch with wild magic. He knew what that meant. 
All she needed was willpower. She could kill every single one of them. 
No words, no rituals. Just sheer strength of will. But she hadn't. 
That thought kept him standing where he was. "Did the Kindred who 
Embraced you know that?"
        "Yes, I'm sure of it. I...eh, Cyrus the Prince of L.A., he 
knows."
        Julian nodded. "I thought he might. Why did you choose San 
Francisco?"
        "I was desperate. And scared. I just wanted to feel safe and 
the last time I felt like that was before my Momma died and we were 
all living with Frank. So I called him."
        "From Manzanita." That part had been nagging at Cash for 
hours. "If you were running from Los Angeles and wanted to get to 
Frank in San Francisco, why did you go to there? L.A.'s south of here 
and Manzanita is in Sonoma Valley, which is north-east."
        "Cyrus has been wanting me for a long time. While my 
biological grandfather was still alive I was protected, but he died 
some time ago. That's round about the time I met Alexi. I didn't know 
he was Kindred until he wanted me to get the tattoo. Even then I 
thought he might protect me from Cyrus."
        "But something went wrong didn't it?" Julian inserted the 
question quietly. "Alexi didn't protect you."
        "He tried, but Marcus is in charge. And...I don't know, I 
guess Marcus wanted to stay on Cyrus' good side. Last night Alexi came 
up to me on the street. He said that Cyrus was coming after me and 
that I had to get away. It was his idea to go to Manzanita. He even 
helped me hitch a ride. He said that because my grandfather had lived 
here Cyrus would send people to wait for me and I'd never make it all 
the way to San Francisco. But he said that Kindred kept away from 
Manzanita after all the Brujah there had been killed. He was wrong. 
When I got there Alexi and Marcus were waiting for me. Alexi threw 
himself at Marcus and yelled at me to run. I'm not sure how long I 
ran. In the end I had to ask for help. I knew Marcus would find me 
and I was so tired. Kindred think witches are dangerous because we 
can kill you without having to touch you. But we do have to know where 
you are. And Marcus moves real fast. If he had come at me there 
wouldn't have been enough time. So I found a payphone outside a grocery 
store and called Frank. After he'd promised to come and get me I hid in 
the shadows waiting for the sound of Frank's car. When I heard it I ran 
towards him. They must have been waiting right there. Waiting for me to 
come out. I heard Frank cry out, then two people grabbed me from behind 
and one of them bit my neck. I don't think it was Marcus or Alexi. It 
didn't feel like them. The next thing I remember is lying on the ground 
next to Frank. They were walking around nearby talking about killing 
him. I froze time and managed to get Frank in the car and drive. But it 
was too late I could feel Frank dying." Kathleen paused and looked up 
at Julian. "I really do love him. My biological father got custody when 
Momma died. But he never liked me. Frank's the only real father I've 
ever had."
        Lillie put her arm around Kathleen again and kissed the top of 
her head. "We understand sweetheart."
        "Yeah, but that doesn't tell us about Frank. Who the hell 
Embraced him if he was dying when you got him out of there?" Cameron 
wanted to know.
        "I..." Kathleen looked at Julian for support. "Frank wasn't 
Embraced exactly."
        Julian struggled to keep himself from shaking the girl in 
frustration. "Define exactly!"
        "He was dying, but I knew that Kindred would have been able to 
save him. And I knew what had happened to me. I was changing into 
Kindred. So I used my powers to change Frank as well. I changed his 
blood to match the blood in my veins."
        Once again the room fell silent as the Kindred slowly 
recovered from the shock. Cameron spoke first. "Does that make this 
girl Frank's Sire? Or is her Sire his Sire..."
        "If Kathleen is Frank's Sire, then that would explain why we 
couldn't sense his Clan either." Lillie's reply came out smooth and 
matter of fact. And who said more than a century of acting wasn't 
good for something she thought to herself.   
        "Is that everything?" Julian asked.
        "Yeah. I drove the car to San Francisco. Those other Kindred were 
still after us so I couldn't stop and concentrate on his change. I forced 
Frank's heart to follow the rhythm of mine all the way here. Then in the 
apartment I finished the change. It must have taken hours,
I don't remember everything clearly what with having to drive and make his 
heart beat and finding the way to his apartment. Just as I thought I had 
saved him the door was broken in. They'd found us. Frank was going into the 
first stages of the Embrace. His body hadn't even started to  shut down. He 
knew what they were and he had this gun that shot green light. He killed one 
of them and shoved me towards the door, telling me to run. Instead I hid and 
waited for it to be over. But Frank left and I didn't know what to do except 
hope he came back. I'm sorry I lied at first. I promise that that's all 
there is to tell. Except for one thing. My biological grandfather ... his 
name was Eddie Fiori."
        The room exploded. Kathleen cringed and pressed herself against 
Lillie as Cash, Julian and Cameron immediately started to shout at each 
other.
        "Julian!" Cameron yelled. "I want this girl to leave with me, right 
now. This house isn't safe for her!" The glare he directed at Cash explained 
his words.
        Cash glared back. "She's safer here that she'd ever be with you, 
Brujah!"
        "Enough!" Julian roared. Stepping between the two screaming 
primogens, he gave them such a look of anger and rage that the two of them 
immediately averted their eyes and backed off. No one wanted to face an 
enraged Julian Luna. Taking a calming breath, Julian turned to the 
Nosferatu primogen.
        "Daedalus, can you go and get Frank? Whatever is decided here, I 
think he deserves to hear." Daedalus nodded and disappeared through the 
door.
        Turning, Julian saw how Lillie led the now crying Kathleen over 
to sit on the couch along the wall. He sighed. What a mess. His mind 
still buzzed with this all the new information. Brujah. Cyrus. Eddie 
Fiori -- It seemed like that damned man was going to torment him even 
from beyond Final Death.
        His heart sank as he watched Frank and Daedalus enter the room. 
The fledging had obviously had time for a shower and a change of clothes. 
He now wore a worn pair of jeans and a white shirt with the top button 
undone. Frank frowned as he noticed the crying Kathleen, and turned to 
Julian. "What do you want? Anything wrong?" a quick, sharp smile played 
over his lips. "Apart from the obvious, I mean."
        With yet another sigh, Julian gestured toward a chair. "Sit down, 
Frank. This may take a while."
        Frowning, Frank sat down. "Something really is wrong, isn't it? 
Why is Kathleen crying?"
        "Frank," Julian tried to break the news gently. "Kathleen wasn't 
really honest then she told her story last time, it seems. You aren't 
Ravnos after all."
        Frank's expression turned to a mix of surprise and relief. 
"Really? But that's great!"
        "You are familiar with the Ravnos, Frank?"  Julian was a little 
surprised; he didn't know the detective's knowledge of the Kindred world 
was so deep.
        Frank shrugged. "Sonny told me a little while I was waiting 
outside." 
        Judging by his face, Julian guessed that Sonny had told him 
nothing good. He hated to be the bearer of even worse news.  "Frank, 
there's more. Please, don't interrupt me..." 
        Frank listened to Julian's account of Kathleen's confession. 
Slowly, the short-lived joy left his face only to be replaced with a 
totally black expression. As Julian finished, Frank rose from the chair. 
He wouldn't meet anyone's eyes as he moved to the sofa and knelt down 
beside his stepdaughter. 
        Kathleen looked upon him with tear-filled eyes. "I...I'm sorry 
F.. Frank. I didn't m.. mean..." She succumbed to another outburst of 
tears.
        Frank gently gathered her in his arm and rocked her slowly. 
"Sweetie, I'm not angry at you. I know you were afraid. It's OK. I'm 
not angry." 
        Kathleen grabbed his shirt and buried her face in his chest.
        "Very sweet," Cameron purred. "If you don't mind, I really 
ought to take the fledglings home, so they have a chance to rest before 
leaving for LA."
        Frank's head shot up. "LA? No way in hell I'm going there!"
        Cameron smirked. "Sorry, Childe. Your sire has probably already 
returned home, and as soon as I have given Cyrus a call, we'll have 
this mess cleaned out. You'll probably be on a plane to Los Angeles 
this time tomorrow." He sat back in his chair, smiling a cruel smile at 
the furious Frank and looking like a cat who's just drank all the 
cream.
        "But we're not sure who Frank's sire is," Cash objected. "It 
could be Kathleen."
        "So? If she is, then she has broken the rules of the Camarilla 
by Embracing without her Sire's permission. It's up to her Sire and her 
Prince -- Cyrus -- to decide whether the illegal fledging lives or 
dies."
        Kathleen raised her head from Frank's chest and gave him a 
terrified look. Hugging her closer, Frank turned his gaze to Julian. 
        Julian cringed inwardly at the open pleading in Frank's eyes. 
Sadly, he met the young Brujah's eyes. There was nothing he could do. 
By the laws and the traditions, Frank and Kathleen belonged to their 
Brujah sire. If Julian tried to interfere, he would not only start a 
war; it would be reason enough to strip him of his rank and title. 
Given how important Kathleen was, Cyrus has likely sent one of his own 
get to Embrace her. 
        After a moment, Frank closed his eyes. He had understood.
        Cameron, his whole face now shining with unholy glee, got up 
and approached the pair on the couch. Frank tightened his hold around 
his stepdaughter and glared at the Brujah primogen. As he came closer, 
the neonate snarled at him and bared newly sprouted fangs. The Brujah 
blood, so quick to frenzy, was obviously starting to affect Frank. 
His eyes turned into shining silver as Cameron reached for his arm in 
order to drag him to his feet. Before anyone could react, the younger 
Brujah jumped at the older, trying to reach his neck with claws and 
fangs.  However, the attack of the untrained and inexperienced youngster 
was not much of a problem for his primogen. Cameron soon had pinned Frank 
to the floor, but no amount of arguing, shouting and soothing could get 
Frank to snap out of frenzy. 
        In the end, Julian pushed Cameron aside and took a firm hold on 
Frank's wrists. "Frank, stop this now. I know you can do it." Frank just 
hissed at him and tried to lunge for his neck. Julian pressed him down 
and tried again. "Frank? I know you can hear me. Come on, get a grip on 
yourself. Control the Beast." 
        Slowly, Frank's eyes returned to their normal colour and he went 
limp under Julian. The eyes looking up at the Prince were full of silent 
desperation. "Please." It was only a whisper, too faint to be heard by 
anyone save Julian. "Help me."
        Julian slowly shook his head. There was nothing, absolutely 
nothing he could so. But as he helped Frank to rise to his feet, a mad idea 
struck him. Trying to hide the hope in his eyes, he turned to Cameron. 
"Before you leave, I would like a word in private with Frank and Kathleen."
        Cameron looked as if he was going to refuse, but then he shrugged and 
smirked. "Sure. You aren't likely to ever meet again, after all." He and the 
other primoges left the room, leaving Julian alone with the fledglings. 
Kathleen had stopped crying now, but she still sat huddled up on the couch, 
hugging her knees. Frank stood in the middle of the room, staring at the 
carpet with dead eyes. Julian sat down beside Kathleen.
        "Kathleen," he said gently, "I have a question. You said that you 
changed Frank's blood back in Manzanita? To match yours?"
        The girl gave him a slightly confused look. "Yes. It was the only 
way I could keep him alive. But I didn't think it would turn out like 
this..." She started sobbing again.
        Julian stroked her hair. "Kathleen, please, I have a very important 
question. Can you do it again?"
        The girl shook her head. "No, I can't make him human again. His 
body's already dead."
        "What wasn't what I meant. Can you change it to match the blood 
of another Kindred? Me, for example?"
        Kathleen raised his head, her expression thoughtful as she considered 
the idea. Then she shook her head. "No. It's too risky. Too much could go 
wrong."
        Julian heard a small sigh and looked up to see Frank standing beside 
the couch. It was obvious he had heard the whole discussion. His face was 
pained as he sat down on the other side of Kathleen.
        "Sweetie, please. I don't care if I die, it can't get worse than 
it is. If there's any chance, any at all that this could work, please do 
it."
        Her stepfather's pleading seemed to make the girl doubtful. For a 
moment, she hesitated. Then- "OK. I'll try. But I can't promise anything. 
It's much harder changing dead things." Kathleen rose and placed herself 
before the two men. "Move closer together. It's much easier if you touch." 
        Julian moved closer to Frank and put his arm around him, making 
him lean back against his chest in much the same way as earlier that night, 
then he made Frank feed from him in the cop's apartment. Frank relaxed 
against him, for the first time in that night, feeling a faint glimmer of 
hope.
        The witch placed one hand one Julian's forehead and the other one 
over Frank's heart. "Relax, both of you," she urged. "Try to think of your 
blood, how it runs through your veins. It'll help me."
        It was over in a heartbeat. To Julian, it was hardly felt; a 
sensation like a slight hiccup brought forth the feeling of yet another 
childe inside his head, neatly tucked away in a corner of his brain. To 
Frank, however, it felt like his blood turned into molten lava for a moment. 
The searing heat burned him, destroyed him, but as soon as it came, it was 
gone, and suddenly the connection to Julian exploded inside his brain. By 
pure reflex, he reached for that feeling, tried to reach his Sire.
        Julian could feel Frank trying to stretch through the new link 
between them: Gathering him in his arms, he met him halfway, sending 
soothing and calming thoughts to his -- Childe! he realized with a start.
        Kathleen watched the pair with a smile on her lips. It had worked. She 
noticed Julian's confusion and guessed the reason. "Yes, he is your Childe 
now. He would have been my Childe earlier, if I hadn't pushed down his blood 
as much as I could. Now, I have tried to make it as strong as possible 
instead. Give him a day or two and no one will ever be able to tell he's 
been anything but your Childe."
        Frank raised his head. "But you, Kathleen? Can you change your 
own blood?"
        She shook her head. "No. A doctor can't operate herself." Suddenly, 
she laughed. "But don't worry. I can take care of myself, Frank. I can 
freeze time and slip away, or make myself invisible. I was just so scared 
and worried over you earlier. Trust me, I can handle Cyrus." The successful 
change of Frank's blood seemed to returned her self esteem back to her.
        Just as Frank and Julian rose, a little shakily, from the couch, a 
quick knock was heard on the door and then Cameron, Brujah primogen, 
stepped into the room.
        Cameron looked gloatingly around the room.  He knew he was 
hurting the Prince and his human pet, and he loved it.  Anything he 
could do to put the Ventrue in his place and weaken his position was 
all right with him.
        "Well, kiddies," he said brutally to the fledglings staring 
at him, "it's time to go home to Daddy!"  When neither Kathleen nor 
Frank made a move toward him, the Brujah Primogen reached out and 
grabbed them by their arms to hustle them out the door.  But 
inexplicably, Cameron found himself unable to speak or move.  
Panicked, the Brujah tried to get away, but whatever held him 
immobile wouldn't release him; he tried to force his will on the 
power that held him captive, but he was unsuccessful.  He was 
trapped.   Helpless, the terror of his situation reached out and 
sucked him in, drowning him, without meaning to, he screamed 
soundlessly, as the darkness claimed him.
        Kathleen, smiled as her power froze the hapless Kindred.  He 
would be filled with fury when he regained control of himself and 
discovered her missing, and Frank beyond his reach, safe as Julian's 
childe.
        The young witch, leaned forward and kissed her stepfather 
on the cheek, before whispering her good-bye's and promising to 
keep in touch, before vanishing. Frank, was safe and, she -- she 
was free.
        Frank blinked at the sudden bright flash as his 
stepdaughter disappeared. Her whispered promise still echoing softly 
in his ears, he brushed away the unexpected tears with the pain that
her departure caused.  As he felt Julian's hands come to rest on his 
shoulders, he heard the prince's voice whisper assurances gently in 
his mind.  Pulling away from the Prince, the police officer looked 
at his sire, and gazing into the Prince's eyes he forgot everything. 

        Julian, stared into the mesmerizing hazel of his newest 
Childe's eyes and hoped his desire for an actual joining of their 
flesh was echoed in the need he could see in the shivering fledgling 
in front of him.  He pulled the pliant body closer until their bodies 
were melded together, his lips were pressed to the long smooth length 
of Frank's throat as his hands began to explore Kohanek's still warm 
body. They were so caught up in the moment that it took Cameron's 
body falling onto the glass occasional table to bring them back to 
the present. 
        Cameron cried out in pain as the glass worked its way into his 
flesh as he tried to free himself from the broken furniture. For a 
moment, he tried to remember why he lying on the Prince's floor with 
broken shards of glass in his flesh.  Then, the memory rushed back, 
and he sprang to his feet with a cry of rage and found himself 
face-to-face with the Ventrue and the detective. The Brujah Primogen 
looked around the room, but the only ones there were the two embracing 
Ventrue.  The witch of a Brujah was missing! Screaming, he demanded to 
know where Kathleen was. 
        Haughty as ever, the Prince refused to answer him. 
        Enraged, Cameron started to storm out of Wolf House, when he 
remembered he could still hurt the arrogant fool.  "Come with me!" He 
snarled at the newly created kindred. He grabbed Kohanek, by his arm 
and tried to drag the resisting youngling with him. "Stop fighting!" 
He sneered at the angry Childe. "Your sibling may have escaped, but 
you still belong to Cyrus, and I'm sure he has plans for you!"  He 
tried to move the fledgling forward, but found himself dangling a foot 
off the floor as the Prince held him aloft, choking him. 
        "Stop!" Frank, said to his enraged Sire. "Let him go. He can't 
hurt me, he has no rights to me. I am your child." He stressed, 
meaningfully, as he tugged on the taunt arm. "Let him go!" He repeated 
softly in the Prince's ear. "Please? For me." 
        "Leave!" Julian demanded as he dropped the Brujah on the 
floor. 
        Cameron gathered himself to leave seething at the disrespect 
shown him when what had been clamoring at his brain since he'd 
awakened from the witch's spell, and he knew it was her doing. 
Thanks to Cyrus, it struck him. Somehow, they had done the impossible. 
Frank Kohanek was a Ventrue. And from the way Julian was protecting 
him, he was most likely his Childe. 
        Knowing he would be unlikely to get near the young one any 
time soon, the Brujah settled for a final taunt. "Have a lovely 
honeymoon, Kohanek," he said as he went out the door. "I'll hang the 
do not disturb sign on my way out. Oh, by the way, let me know if 
it's a boy or girl!" 
         Julian and Frank stared at the door for a stunned minute 
then began to laugh; the moment they'd just shared, lost in the humor 
of the situation. "He is sooo mad at you!" The detective, said 
gleefully.
        They listened as the Brujah Primogen engaged in a brief 
shouting match with Cash then was thrown out by the Gangrel 
bodyguard. 
        "How long do you think it will take before Cryus comes 
after us?" The now somber man asked, as he moved away from the too 
compelling aura of the Prince. 
        Luna sighed as his new Childe moved away from him 
self-consciously. "Frank," he said, as he moved cautiously, closer. 
"I know I promised to keep you safe, and I'm sorry I failed you, but I 
can and will protect you from Cryus and Cameron. "Relax," he said, 
pulling the shivering fledgling into his arms and steering him toward 
the sofa. "The change isn't finished yet. Don't worry." He whispered. 
"I won't leave you."  
        "Don't leave me," Frank heard himself say.  "Don't leave me."  
        Then the world went as silent as snowfall at midnight.  It went 
murky with a soft, gentle light.  For the longest moment, there was 
nothing else -- only the muffled empty silence and the dark glow.  
"Don't leave me."  Then he sensed fingers pressed against his 
temples, against his wrists.  He sensed that he was lying on his back 
on something soft.  A bed.  
        A voice came up through the emptiness, "No, of course we 
won't leave you, Frank."  It was a woman's voice -- Lilly's.  
        He worked his eyes open, only now realizing the pain of 
squeezing them so tightly shut.  "I'm dead."  
        "No, Frank, you're not dead."  
        Frank focused on the shadow above him.  It became the 
concerned face of Julian Luna.  "But I'm a vampire now," he explained to 
the Prince of the City, "I must be dead." 
        Lilly laughed then quickly cut back her amusement.  "No, Frank,  
you're not dead, you're dead drunk."  
        There was a hint of amusement in Julian's voice as well.  "You 
had far too good a time this evening at The Haven."  
        "Good time?" Lillie challenged.  "He had the best time!  I never 
knew police detectives could be so agile on the dance floor, especially 
after a few pitchers of margueritas." 
        Frank lurched up and immediately regretted it.  "What -- Where?"  
And he flopped back onto the comfort of the bed.  
        "You're in my room at The Haven," Lillie explained.  "I always 
wanted you in my bed, Frank, but I just never imagined it would under 
these conditions."  
        "Actually," Julian added, his voice becoming stern, "we brought 
you up here to save you any embarrassment."  
        Lillie giggled.  "It was rather entertaining, though."  
        Frank rolled his head toward her.  "What was entertaining?"  
        "You -- especially when you ordered a Bloody Mary and kept 
toasting Julian with your glass."  
        "Well, I wasn't particularly amused," Julian said.  
        "Uhhhhh...." Frank moaned and rolled his face into the pillow.  
"I'm dreaming."  
        Lilly sat next to him and rubbed his shoulder.  "No, you're 
coming to." 
        "Oh god," Frank groaned and rubbed his head.  "I dreamt that 
Julian was in his garden at his house, then you, Lilly, you came up to him 
and brought him to me.  I dreamt I had a stepdaughter who was a witch 
and -- " He stopped, pausing long enough to swallow the words that were 
about to roll off his tongue.  He tried, but the words just blurted 
out:  "I dreamt I was made into a vampire."  
        There was a instant of hard silence then Lillie leaned toward 
him.  "We could make arrangements," she teased.  
        "No!" Frank rolled back around.  "I don't like it!"  
        "But it was only a dream."  
        "My worst nightmare!"  
        Julian sighed and let go a smile.  "Well, you're safe now.  
You're not a vampire, and you're not the leading story in the gossip 
columns, and you're going to survive this hangover."  
        "You!" Frank turned on Julian.  "You were trying to do weird 
things to me."  
        Julian drew back and pressed his fingers to his chest with a 
puzzled look.  
        "Yes, you," Frank continued.  "It was -- it was -- well, it 
wasn't something two men should feel."  
        Julian simply smiled, "I have no idea what you're talking 
about.  It was your dream, Frank."  


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