Not to be Wise

Author's Note: Sequel to "Not to be Great". Those readers who are sharp 
little doobies (and who listen to too much alt-rock), will realize that the 
titles in this series come from a song. I don't know which song. Rather, I 
don't know the title. Or the artist. Or most of the words. But I can hum 
the chorus… really good. Anybody who happens to know this pertinent 
information can feel free to send it to me, so's I can cite the lyrics.

Summary: Cameron has a fight with Julian. (duh.)

Rating: PG/PG-13, because, hey, they're KINDRED, and language

Disclaimer: I own the music, but not the dancing monkeys. (except for 
random security-dude. He's mine)

Cameron was panting by the time he reached the Haven. He vaulted up 
the steps, and shoved past Lily's bouncer, into the club. Once inside, he 
paused a moment to catch his breath. As he leaned heaving against the 
doorjamb, he carefully took stock of the scene. The music, usually so loud 
that it was almost an entity, had stopped because the band was massed, 
with the rest of the patrons, in one corner of the dance floor. From inside 
the semi-circle of humans and vampires, he could make out a strain of 
muffled curses punctuated by sharp thumps. 

It didn't take much imagination to figure out was going on behind the 
shield of bodies. Lily's staff come to the same conclusion as Cameron. 
Three large vampires in the informal Haven security uniform of black jeans 
and t-shirts were even now trying to push through the crowd. Their 
efforts, so far, had been repulsed by the sheer number of people. 
Cameron ran his hand through his hair tiredly and pushed off of his 
resting-place. 

As he hurried across the dance floor, the strength of the curses 
weakened rapidly. He reached the crowd just as one of the security 
guards, a mountianous young Toreador, broke through the wall of bodies. 
He followed the hulking vampire through the disgruntled breach before it 
could fill in again. The scene that greeted him on the other side was just 
as he expected. In the very center of the clear space, two figures writhed 
in a tangle of limbs. The smaller figure was busily smashing its opponent's 
head into the golden wood of Lily's dance floor. In between thuds, the 
larger fighter cursed in a blistering stream. 

The security guard drifted towards the entangled bodies with the quiet 
menace of an approaching continent. Cameron reached out and tapped 
his shoulder. The man turned, a look of annoyance on his boyish features. 
The Brujah Primogen raised one eyebrow. Recognition slowly dawned 
across the guard's face. He stepped aside with a little smile of relief. The 
man on the floor was a Ventrue, and Cameron winced, one of the higher 
up ones at that. This had the potential to become a very sticky situation. 
The guard ushered Cameron forward, courteously, happy to be relieved 
of his burden. Cameron strode past him, eyes narrowed. 

Before him, the smaller fighter had noticed a slight change in the 
atmosphere. He raised his head, peering up at Cameron through 
disheveled orange hair. The shock of seeing the Brujah Primogen 
distracted him enough that he left off bashing his opponent's head into 
the ground. Cameron coughed. A glimmer of rueful smile twitched 
beneath the smaller figure's wild bangs. He rose nonchalantly from his 
perch atop the larger man. When his opponent tried to rise to his knees, 
one booted foot shot out to catch him in the ribs. The large man sank to 
the ground again. Cameron suppressed the urge to groan.

"WHAT the hell do you think you're doing?" He glared pointedly at the 
still-cursing lump between them.

The orange-haired man swiped his hair out of his face. Exposed to the 
light, his pale skin was covered with purpling bruises and blood. He 
reached up, probing the damage with long fingered hands. They paused 
briefly to shove a loose tooth back into its socket. 

Cameron crossed his arms over his chest. "I asked you a question, 
Mikey."

Mikey smiled back innocently. "We were having a discussion." His sharp 
green eyes flicked down to where his opponent lay, then back up to 
Cameron. He shrugged and tilted his head, as if he too wondered how 
the body had gotten there. "I was emphasizing my point."

"So I see." Cameron poked at the larger man with his boot. He twitched 
slightly and went back to moaning. At least the poor sot wasn't dead. 
"And you felt you had to do it percussively?"

"He has a hard head." 

Cameron bit back his retort. It was no use arguing with Mikey. One of the 
youngest Brujah, he still believed the Embrace made him invulnerable. 
This wasn't the first time Cameron had been called to remove him from a 
fight. He settled for a warning growl. The impudent light did not fade from 
the younger vampire's eyes. If anything, his wolfish grin widened.

Around them, the crowd was beginning to rustle. People, mostly the 
vampires, turned halfway to watch something outside the circle. Cameron 
swallowed down an obscenity. Julian must finally be making his stately 
progress over. He looked across the clearing at Mikey, who was 
beginning to prod the fallen man lightly in the ribs. Each prod elicited 
another whimper. Cameron stepped daintily over the body and grabbed 
Mikey's arm, effectively yanking him away from his victim. As he goose-
marched the shorter man to the edge of the crowd nearest the door, he 
whispered savagely in his ear. "Get going. I'll deal with you later." He 
emphasized "later" with a shake.

Mikey opened his mouth to argue, but Cameron's expression stopped him 
cold. The Brujah Primogen's eyes were glowing bright red. Mikey's mouth 
shut with a snap and he turned to push past the spectators towards the 
door.

"Stop." The command vibrated from behind them with undeniable 
authority. Both Cameron and Mikey froze. Cameron's jaw clenched. He 
was too late. Prince Julian had already made it through the crowd. With a 
sick feeling of dread roiling in his stomach, he turned around, dragging 
Mikey with him.

Julian, flanked by two of his Gangrel bodyguards, was waiting with his 
hands shoved in his pockets. His dark eyes were narrowed. Anger had 
thinned his lips into two nearly invisible lines.

"Cameron?" 

"Luna?" Cameron had to grit his teeth to get the words out.

"Is this your man?" Julian pointed one callused finger towards Mikey, who 
had stopped grinning, at least.

"Yes, he," Cameron's fingers tightened on Mikey's shoulder to silence him 
prematurely, "is." 

Julian's face remained impassive. "And why, exactly, did he attack one of 
my people?"

Cameron's knuckles whitened as Mikey began to struggle. He had no idea 
what the younger Brujah wanted to say, but he could bet that it wasn't 
going to be helpful. 

"I'm not…" he dug his fingers harder into the soft flesh of Mikey's 
shoulder, "entirely sure what happened. But I'm sure," he glared at the 
younger Brujah, whose own eyes were glowing now, "that there's a 
REASONABLE explanation." 

The man on the ground let out a particularly loud groan. One of Julian's 
cronies stepped forward and knelt down beside him. A brief look of 
concentration creased her features as she examined him. Satisfied that 
he wasn't in any danger of dying in the next five minutes, she returned to 
her place at the Prince's side. Julian's lips had narrowed further. "I would 
very much like to hear it." 

Mikey chose that moment to break for freedom. His sudden push forward 
took Cameron off gaurd. Before he could stop him, the youngster had 
shoved past him to face Julian.

"Look man… I didn't start this thing. Your guy was sittin' here bein' an 
asshole I just happened to point it…mmph." Mikey bit at the hand of his 
Primogen clamping his mouth shut. Cameron spun him around, oblivious 
to Julian for the moment.

"Mikey." He kept his voice low by a supreme effort of will. "Go." He 
gestured at the door. Mikey remained where he was. "NOW!" The fire in 
his Primogen's voice finally cut through Mikey's defiance, and he scuttled 
for the doorway sulkily. As soon as the youngster had passed safely to 
the threshold, Cameron turned back to Julian.

"You have my apologies, Prince. He will be dealt with." Cameron's mouth 
strained into a smile. Mikey was in for it once he got back to the Brujah 
headquarters. Not, given the look on Julian's face, that Cameron would 
be back there ANY time soon.

"You should be able to control your… people better." 

Cameron continued to smile, but his eyebrow was starting to twitch. "He'll 
listen next time. Believe me." The last bit came out strangled.

"I'm sure you will do everything in your power to make it so." A small 
smirk appeared on Julian's face. "But I would like to make sure there are 
no repeats of this incident." His voice remained pleasant, but Cameron 
could see the veins of his throat popping out with tensiion. Flecks of 
golden fire began to coalesce in the depths of his eyes. "In light of that, 
perhaps my people would be better equipped to handle his punishment. I 
would hate for it to be too lenient."

Cameron went cold. If Julian's people, whose comrade had taken the 
beating, disciplined Mikey, hell knew what they'd do. Something 
unpleasant at the very least, and at the worst… Cameron swallowed. He 
knew Mikey had probably… definitely, started the fight, but he was still 
young. He didn't know if the kid could take a few hours in the sun. 

"You don't haveta trouble yourself. Julian." He spat the last word out.

"Ensuring tranquility in this city is no trouble, Ian." Julian smiled 
courteously. "We will discuss this in more detail later." He turned on his 
heel, preparing to return to his table. Cameron stared blankly at his 
retreating back. Something deep inside him snapped.

"No." It was out before he could choke it down. The rage, curse of the 
Brujah, surged through his body, released by that one simple denial. 

Julian whirled around, mouth twisting in anger before he reschooled his 
features. "Excuse me?"

 "I said 'No'." Cameron crossed his arms over his chest. "He's my guy. My 
responsibility. No discussion." He glared at Julian defiantly. 

Julian's eyes narrowed. "I am well aware of his status, Cameron. But, in 
this case, I feel you may be a bit biased. I would see justice done."

Cameron stepped forward. His fists were up before he was aware of the 
movement. "Justice?" He laughed bitterly. "As if he would ever see 
'justice' under your hand?!" He reached forward, about to grab Julian's 
shirt. Only a growl from the female bodyguard made him draw back. "We 
both know what kind of justice you deal, Prince Julian," he whispered as 
he stepped away.

Julian's face reddened. Tiny slivers of fang peeked out from underneath 
his aristocratic upper lip. He closed with Cameron, until they were face to 
face once more. "One of my people lies half dead on the floor. I will not 
allow his suffering to go unpunished."

"Yeah I'll bet," Cameron muttered under his breath. He leaned in. "And 
d'ya think I'm gonna let one of my guys play the sacrificial lamb, just 
because he roughed up some stuck-up barfly?"

Julian stepped back. His face had turned as blank as the walls. 
"Remember your place, Cameron. It remains the same." His voice had 
become softer, almost kindly. "Do you wish to contest that fact?"

Cameron glared back at him. He was tempted, oh so tempted, to say yes. 
To step forward and smack that smug Ventrue bastard right across the 
face. Except that Julian had bodyguards here. Except that even if 
Cameron won the fight, the other Primogen wouldn't accept him as 
Prince. Not yet. And with Julian as Prince, his people needed him. Alive. 
With a wrench of will, he forced his hands back down to his sides. 

"No. You are…", a bastard, he thought to himself, and a murderer, and 
you have a bloody stick up your ass, "the boss." He growled it out.

"Good." Julian smiled coldly. "I will collect him at the end of the week." He 
stretched out his right hand.

Cameron's blood boiled. He knew what was expected of him. Choking 
down bile, he bowed his head and kissed the top of Julian's hand. The 
Prince's smile grew as he drew back. Cameron stood there, watching him 
leave, with the blood pounding in his temples. The spectators, silent 
before, burst into a cloud of whispers. They watched him out of the 
corners of their eyes, or behind a shielding hand. He ignored them.

 

The crowd parted as Julian left the circle. From there, the disintegration 
spread as the spectators separated off into their groups, back to the 
tables, or the bar, or in the case of a few prudent individuals, the door. 
Cameron remained rooted to his spot on the dance floor until he was 
utterly alone. A few minutes passed. His vision cleared. The rage that had 
been pounding through his system rapidly dissipated, leaving him very 
tired. He stole one last look at Julian, sitting at his table and laughing 
with Lily as though nothing had happened, and snarled. Then he 
wrapped his tattered dignity around him and strode silently out the door.

Walking with vampiric speed, it didn't take him long to reach the bay. He 
kicked his shoes off into the water and began to pace up and down the 
damp sand. The wind blowing in off the water was chill. In the back of his 
head, he cursed. He spared no one in his tirade, moving from Mikey, to 
Julian, to himself, to Lily, to the Club and beyond. Above him, the sky was 
overcast, promising rain. He was still walking up and down the shoreline 
when the first droplets began to fall several hours later. At first, he didn't 
even notice. Only when his suit jacket began to squelch, did he realize 
that he was soaked.

He paused for a moment to take stock of his surroundings. The rain was 
really coming down now. Sheets of it fell from the sky, blurring the 
landscape even to his vampiric vision. Dimly, he could make out a few 
palm trees up on the plaza, and tiniest glimmer of light from where the 
hotels rose above the dunes. Everything else was sheathed in a gray 
mist. He continued to plod forward, short cropped hair dangling into his 
eyes. 

After awhile, he noticed another shape in the darkness. It too was gray, 
but darker than the rain. And it was following him. Cameron stopped 
experimentally. The figure stopped too. He stepped forward. His shadow 
followed him. Spooked, he ran a few steps. The figure followed him 
sedately, still walking. The Brujah Primogen swore. He didn't want 
company. Especially not company that skulked around in the shadows, 
playing games with him. There had been enough games for one night.

Without ceremony, he drew his gun and pointed it straight at the blurry 
shape. "Who are you?" There was no answer. He cocked the trigger. 
"Why are you following me?" The shape began to move forward. 
Cameron watched it tensely, ready to fire if things turned ugly. When the 
figure had come within a yard of him, it stopped.

Cameron could just make out a shapeless piece of cloth through the rain. 
It was dark gray, and stained with years of use. The figure threw back its 
hood, to reveal a face paler than that of any mortal. Cameron squinted 
trying to identify the vampire. The rain cloaked its features well, blurring 
them almost to nonexistence. 

They stared at each other for awhile. Cameron contemplated the figure 
and then, on a whim, holstered his gun. It was already damp, he 
reasoned, no reason to let it rust. 

"Why are you here Daedulus?" 

The figure grinned. Cameron could see its fangs glinting in between the 
rain drops. "One day, I think, you will shoot me by accident." Daedulus's 
voice was quiet, and, characteristically, held no signs of humor. Cameron 
wasn't fooled.

Annoyed, he caressed the butt of his gun. "If I shoot you, it won't be an 
accident."

Daedulus shrugged and sidled forward until he was right next to 
Cameron. Cameron gritted his teeth. Daedulus did have a knack of 
showing up at the worst possible times. As the silence between them 
grew, he had to clench his jaw to keep from snarling. Daedulus watched 
him patiently. They could be here all evening, until the Nosferatu got what 
he wanted. Cameron decided to expedite the process.

"So… whaddya want?" He tried to keep the tension out of his voice and 
failed miserably. 

Daedulus fixed him with glowing eyes. "Do you intend to challenge Julian 
over this?"

"What?!" Cameron rolled his eyes heavenward and was rewarded by the 
sheet of water that battered his exposed eyeballs. Blinking furiously, he 
shoved his hands into his pockets. "Doesn't anything stay secret from you 
Nossies?" 

"In this case, I would not say it requires much guile to learn about your 
incident in the Haven." He raised an eyebrow. "You were hardly subtle. 
Even for a Brujah." 

"Look, if you just came to exchange slurs…"

"I did not start it." The Nosferatu's voice took on a slightly huffy tone. He 
sounded so much like a small child that Cameron had to wonder if he was 
going to stick his tongue. To his disappointment, Daedulus regained his 
composure. "I came merely to ask a question."

"Yeah. And you've asked. Now shoo." Cameron turned away pointedly. 
He didn't even want to think about what happened in the Haven, much 
less pussyfoot about it with Daedulus. The repercussions were still 
bouncing around inside his head. His life was going to be very unpleasant 
in the next few weeks, and all because he lost control. He bowed his 
head, feeling old. When he raised it again, Daedulus was still there, 
unmoving.

"You're not going to go away until I answer, are you?" Cameron faced the 
Nosferatu resignedly. He was met with silence. The Brujah Primogen 
paused for a moment, trying to decide what to say. The truth was, he 
didn't know what he was going to do. He didn't WANT to fight Julian, 
homicidal impulses aside, but he wasn't just to bend over backwards for 
the Prince either. His temples throbbed. Finally, he slumped in defeat. "I 
don't know." 

"You want to hurt him." It wasn't even a question. 

"That's no secret." Cameron smiled angrily. He'd had many a pleasant 
daydream where the Prince's blood, and other viscera, slipped through 
his fingers.

Daedulus turned away from him. "You will try someday." There was a 
catch to his voice, silenced brutally, almost before it could surface.

It was Cameron's turn to watch the other Kindred intently. "Probably." He 
shrugged. "Sonuvabitch deserves it." Glimmers of his earlier anger 
danced at the edge of his vision. He pushed them aside, focusing on 
Daedulus's reaction.

The Nosferatu stiffened in response to his reply. "Hurting Julian," 
Daedulus's voice deepened. Something crawled beneath his words. The 
undercurrent reminded Cameron of things long dead, squirming under the 
sand. "… would be inadvisable." His words snaked their way through 
Cameron's soul, leaving ice in their wake.

"Watcha gonna do?" Cameron watched him scornfully. "You gonna take 
me out?" To his shame, the words fell from his mouth too quickly.

Daedulus rose up before him, a pillar of marble against the dull rain. He 
surged forward. Cameron yelped and skittered back, tripping on a pile of 
sand as he went. The wet earth was an unpleasant shock to his 
backside, soaked though it was. Droplets of cold water dripped from his 
hair onto his nose. He swiped at his bangs impatiently. His eyes trailed up 
to look at Daedulus, rising above him like a monster of old. The rain only 
served to distance him further from Cameron, wrapping him layers of 
inhuman gray. 

Cameron took a deep breath. He closed his eyes and concentrated on his 
slow, slow heartbeat. Anything to block out the alien figure before him. 
When the adrenaline had stopped seething through his veins, he dared 
to crack one eyelid. Daedulus remained frozen. The Brujah gasped in 
another breath to steady himself and resolutely opened the other eye. 
Watching Daedulus carefully, he propped himself up on his elbows.

"It's gonna take more than you to kill me." The firmness of his words 
belied the fear still pulsing behind his eyes. 

Above him Daedulus smiled. It held, grotesquely, a child like charm. "I'm 
sure." He studied his claws. "But there are worse things than death." 

His voice was still low, but it grew more mechanical as he spoke. Cameron 
felt a twinge of loss. All the emotion had banished itself from his voice. He 
found himself searching Daedulus's eyes for even a glint of humor. The 
pupils had turned to drowning deep black pools. No light escaped from 
under the Nosferatu's wrinkled brows. Cameron gave up.

"I get it. Tell Julian," he spat in the sand, "that next time he should deliver 
his threats in person." 

"Julian did not send me."

"Right. He never sends you. You're your own person. You just step and 
fetch for a hobby." He sneered up at the Nosferatu.

Daedulus bent down until one knee ground into the sand by Cameron's 
side. Even closer in, his face retained no trace of humanity.

"What I do is my business. It is more honorable than pouting in the rain 
like a child."

"I'm not pouting!" Cameron's sat up and used his hands to wipe a telltale 
trail of liquid dripping from his nose. He noticed that they were encrusted 
in mud. All of him, in fact, was encrusted in mud. He looked back up at 
Daedulus, who still smacked of the classic monster. The rain still pounded 
down on both of them. Further back, the barely visible palm trees snaked 
back and forth wildly in the freezing wind.

The whole thing was absurd. He threw back his head, laughing 
hysterically. The barks exploded from his throat until he was almost 
crying. Daedulus observed him impassively, neither moving, nor 
commenting. Cameron pounded the shore with his fist, sending dirt 
spraying up on both of them. The splotches of mud on Daedulus's white 
skin sent him off into further paroxysms. 

He laughed until his entire body shook. Finally, the manic energy drained 
from his limbs and he collapsed abruptly back into the mud. He lay there, 
on his back, grinning up at Daedulus like a mad man. The Nosferatu's lip 
curled in scorn. Cameron reached up with one grubby hand and wiped a 
swatch of dark earth across his disapproving features. Daedulus reared 
back in shock, but Cameron didn't mind. The whole thing was a shambles 
anyway.

Suddenly, the world became a much clearer place. Cameron rose back up 
into a sitting position.

"I don't fucking care who the Prince is. I'm not giving up one of my 
people." Another brutal grin slashed across his face. "You tell Julian that." 
He rose onto his knees and, from there, sprung up onto his feet.

Daedulus's face shut down. He rose slowly from where he had been 
kneeling. The cowl fell down around his face, and he turned away. 
Cameron watched in bemused detachment.

"You will be your own downfall." Daedulus whispered the words, almost 
to himself. Cameron had to strain to pick them up over the storm.

Cameron shrugged. "Eh." He faced the bay, squinting out over the water. 
Trails of muddy water ran down his face. "Maybe. But," he gestured out 
over the bay, "maybe someday all this will be mine."

Daedulus stilled for a second and then shook his becowled head. "You 
are a fool." He seemed to be chastising himself as much as Cameron. 

"Yeah. But I'm still not giving up." He turned away from the Nosferatu, 
heading for the boardwalk. "You tell Julian that." 

"This will be the death of you." 

Cameron shrugged and kept walking. When he reached the pavement, 
he stepped out onto the street. If he started now, he'd be home well 
before daybreak. With squelching steps, he plodded down the asphalt, 
towards the Brujah head quarters. Behind him, he could almost hear a 
whisper of cloth, as though Daedulus were following him. He pushed 
away the niggling urge to turn around. Suddenly, the road ahead looked 
very dark. He swallowed some moist air, and kept moving. After several 
blocks, the sensation of being followed faded. Cameron was alone once 
more.

Finis.

Back