By: Mags Author's Note: Yeah. It's been awhile. But, it was worth it right? Of course it was! This is the first part of the sequel series to the series that comes off of "Not to be Great". Thanks to Soledad for lighting a fire under me. See, we're not even halfway through the millenium! Hah. Disclaimer: These are not my characters. They never will be. Life is cruel. I've come to terms with that. Wait. Mikey and Rori are mine! And what a fascinating and well thought out pair they are too! Rating: PG-13 for naughty words and very, very slight references to slash Summary: Daedalus and Cameron deal with the Morning After. The World Gets in the Way "He what?!" Rori shuffled nervously in front of his Primogen's desk. "W-ell, I was followin' Daedulus like ya' tol' me to and…" He swallowed. "So I followed him down to the beach and he met up with that Brujah-bastard." Cash's eyes narrowed at the mention of Cameron. His stormy expression scared Rori into silence. "And then?" The Gangrel Primogen's voice was tight. "Then they talked for awhile and… then they started to…" Rori blushed. He waved his hands vaguely. "They… uh… got intimate…" "Are you sure?" Cash's voice cut through his embarrassment. "I kinda thought, maybe, they were fightin' or… wrasslin'… at first. But then, they sorta leaned in and there was… tounges…" Crimson dotted his pale cheeks. He paused momentarily to grasp the correct word. "And other stuff." Cash snarled and slammed his hands on the desk. "Dammit!" The crack startled Rori into silence. His eyes widened, as Cash buried his head in his hands. Slight murmurs escaped from between his clasped fingers. "That… stupid…. Idiot… damn…" Rori shifted, uncomfortable seeing his boss break down. The rustle woke Cash from his outburst. He straightened up and clasped his hands in his lap. His eyes were clear. He exhaled, slowly. "Uh… boss? Should I… go?" Cash gave him a wan grin. "Yeah. Don't think you wanna be in the blast radius when I tell the Prince." Rori nodded vigorously. Given his choice he'd be as far away from the city's powerful Kindred as possible. Any place they weren't was by definition safer. Julian especially, inspired him with fear. Cash's grin grew at his eagerness. "Alright. Get outta here." Rori rose from his chair and bolted for the door as quickly as etiquette allowed. "And kid?" Rori snapped around at the sound of his Primogen's voice. "Yeah?" "Good job." Cash gave him a reassuring smile. Goddess, the kid was skittish. Not that he blamed Rori. For all his power Cash himself didn't want to inform Julian of this charming new development. As the door whispered shut, he allowed himself a deep sigh. Daedulus and Cameron… what a fucking mess… He'd suspected it for a few weeks now- hence Rori's constant presence-, and their behavior at the Conclave had only solidified his opinion. Daedulus was… attracted to the Brujah Primogen. Cash had no idea how deep it went, but he suspected that it was pretty damn well ingrained. The Nosferatu, for all his reserve, didn't do things by halves. Which put Cash in an extremely difficult position. Because, as much as Daedulus was his friend, Cash was loyal to Julian first. And if sleeping with that little shit, Cameron- his hands balled into fists- wasn't suspicious behavior, he didn't know what was. For a few seconds, he stared blankly at the wall. Finally, he came to a decision and turned away firmly. There was no help for it. Reluctantly he picked up Rori's report and vaulted over the desk to the door. Before he could balk, he pushed through the entrance and headed for the Prince's office. The rain pelted against Cameron's jacket. Occasionally, a stray drop would dig its way under his collar, to drip down his back. He ran his hand through his hair, swiping the damp strands out of his face. The rain obscured most of the road in front of him. Through the haze, he could just make out the sign. It was ancient, almost yellow with age. "Welcome to San Francisco". He snorted. Maybe some were. He stopped walking when he reached the sign. The night around him was dark, still. That, at least, was a comfort. Kneeling down, he pulled the urn out from underneath his jacket. It was still dry, protected despite the heavy rain. He yanked the top out savagely and upended the jar's contents onto the wet earth at the base of the sign. A small pile of gray ash built up on top of the mud, before the rain dampened it and, eventually, swept it away. Cameron sat on his heels, watching, until the last rivulet and disappeared into the ground. Then he stood. Unexpectedly, tears began to blur his eyes. He swiped them away viciously. No call for that. They're all dead, Ian. At least you're still alive… that's more than they can say. Alive... More tears dripped down his cheeks. He sniffed angrily and turned on his heel. Enough time spent on the dead. He needed to find a place to shelter from the dawn. There was no way in hell that he was going back to Manzanita. Rain continued to beat down against his hunched shoulders. He paused briefly to stare up at the sky. It was the same shade of matte gray it had been all evening. Part of him wanted a smoke, desperately. If he didn't run the risk of self-incineration… He swallowed a sob. The wind howled around him, whipping at his sopping clothes. It's chill cut him straight to the bone. He wanted to leave, get out of this horrid weather, anyway from equally horrifying memories, but he couldn't make his feet move. They were rooted to the ground, as much a part of the mud as the ashes of the Manzanita Brujah. He stared down the long dark stretch of asphalt that wound down to the city. The lights were, just barely, visible through the wind and water. They made the valley glow warmly, inviting as a hearth fire. He tore his gaze with a wrench. No haven there. Not for him. No sanctuary anywhere. He threw back his head and screamed… "Cameron?" Something blunt prodded him lightly in the side. "Ian?" The touch woke the Brujah Primogen from his dream-haze. Without thinking, he surged up and grabbed the person poking him. His flying leap caught his assailant by surprise and they both went tumbling onto the sand. Cameron put up a bitter fight, but he was still muggy with exhaustion, and eventually, his opponent had him pinned. The shock of the wet sand on his back cleared his head the rest of the way. He blinked once and found himself staring into Daedulus's exasperated, pale features. "I've heard of people who were restless in bed, but this…" he wrinkled his nose," is ludicrous." Cameron stared up at him in surprise. Restless in… bed? This evening's exertions came flooding back into his mind. Looking up at Daedulus, he nearly choked. The Nosferatu regarded him worriedly. "Are you… alright?" He eased off of the smaller man slightly, allowing him to sit up. Cameron pushed himself up and brushed the dirt off of his bare skin. "Yeah… uh… I'm fine." Except I just slept with my worst enemy's advisor. Except that I betrayed my kin. Except that I'm… his eyes traced Daedulus's solicitous features and he felt a slight flutter in the pit of his stomach… except that I appear to be falling in love. Other than that, he snarled inwardly, I'm bloody perfect. Daedulus's brows drew in disbelief, but he kept his thoughts to himself. "It is, I think, time to return home." He pointed significantly at the traces of peach already creeping across the sky. Suddenly, Cameron felt the exhaustion that heralded the dawn flowing through his limbs. "Ugh." He shook his head to clear it further. "Why?" "Unless you feel that a layer of ash would compliment your eyes?" "Well." Cameron stretched. "I've always looked good in black." Daedulus just snorted. With dignity, or as much as he could manage while naked and covered in damp sand, the Nosferatu Primogen rose to his feet. Then he extended his hand down to Cameron. The Brujah Primogen, who's progress was significantly less graceful, shook it off and staggered to his without assistance. He shook his head again, hair whipping around him like snakes. Having shaken himself as clear as he was going to be, his eyes rose to Daedulus's face again. For a moment, the two men stared into each other's eyes, oblivious to the dawn. Cameron was the first to break. He coughed nervously and dropped his eyes to the disheveled sand at their feet. "Wonder what the kiddies'll make of this?" Daedulus smirked. "Children from San Francisco? Most likely a midnight orgy. Even if they are unsure of the precise definition of the words." His humor alleviated some of Cameron's discomfort. "Imagine. Not knowing what "orgy" means. Talk about your degeneration of education…" He trailed off. The sky behind them continued to lighten ominously. "I guess we oughta…" Daedulus looked out over the water. "Yes. Let's." Cameron nodded, grateful to be spared the rest of the conversation. Resolutely, he turned towards the Brujah Haven. Behind him, he heard Daedulus pulling on his robes. "Wait!" Daedulus stopped and turned to face him, cocking his head inquisitively. Cameron gulped in some air. "Is this… are we… will we…?" "Whatever is coming, Primogen Cameron, I doubt it will overtake us today. Or tomorrow. We have time." Cameron nodded weakly. "All the time in the world." Daedalus gave him a brief nod and began to trudge down the beach. Cameron watched him for a few seconds, dread churning the pit of his stomach. All the time in the world… he'd believed that once. Thought that becoming Kindred meant things went on forever. Bullets flashed behind his eyes. Nobody had all the time in the world. And, as he pulled on his own, dubiously sandy, clothing, he couldn't help but wonder how long this would last before Fate snatched it away again. Daedalus's figure disappeared into the dawning shadows and he felt sick fear pound in his veins. Next to him, the gulls screamed like the souls of the dead. Julian Luna gaped at his bodyguard in disbelief. "You can't be serious…" Cash rolled his eyes. "I got admit, that was my reaction too, at first." He tapped his foot impatiently. They'd been at this conversation for five minutes now. To Cash's way of thinking, it was five minutes too long. "But… why?" Cash shrugged nonchalantly. "Beats me. Hormones… full moon… true love, could be anything." He watched in amusement as Julian's face twisted at "true love". "Maybe the old guy's just got Spring Fever." The Prince composed his features and stippled his hands. "One might remind you, at this point, that the Embrace does not cause everyone's hormones to return to their pubescent state." "Shouldn't believe everything Sasha tells you." "Not Sasha. Lily." Cash had the grace to color slightly. "No harm in askin'…" he muttered to himself. Then, reminded of his mission, he perked up. "Doesn't matter though. Cause Lily definitely ain't Cameron." "Yes." Julian rubbed his temples. "Fortunately." He glared darkly at the door. "Irregardless, this will be dealt with." Cash felt ice creep up his spine. He'd been afraid of this. "Don't you think we oughta be… careful about this?" "I never thought I'd hear you advocating circumspection." The Gangrel Primogen refused to rise to the bait. "Just… it's Daedalus. He's worth being a little careful over." The Prince stared at him with tired eyes. "Yes… I can see how that might be… advisable. But it's also CAMERON. I can't afford to let this fester." "I didn't say you should, I just think you should break it to Daedalus… gently." Cash crossed his arms over his chest and started to tap his foot nervously. Arguing with Julian always made him uncomfortable. "I will be as delicate as possible, but this cannot, WILL not go on." Julian was practically snarling. He leaned back in his chair. "You may go." Cash resisted the urge to snarl back. Julian might be his employer and the Prince, but he'd never taken to being dismissed like a fledgling. Not even when he was a fledgling. Instead, he settled for a dirty look. "As you command, MY Prince." He executed a stiff bow and strode out of Julian's office, leaving the Prince to seethe behind him. Daedalus hummed absently to himself as he dabbed pink paint onto the canvas. Candles gleamed in the votives dotting his walls. It was high noon outside, but he felt they added to the ambience. Their flickering light illuminated some of his earlier works, disturbing pieces, full of dark slashes of color. They, too, added to the ambience. For the first time, he actually looked at what he was painting. It was, to his surprise, rather tame. A beach just before sunrise, fingers of pink stretching up towards the moon. He smiled at the scene ruefully. After several centuries, one would expect oneself to NOT go moon-eyed like a teen-ager in heat after one night of sex. And yet… A tentative knock interrupted his thoughts. "Come." He didn’t bother to look at the door. There were only a certain number of people who would be knocking on his door in the daytime. The wooden door creaked open, and his visitor slunk into his room. "Hey." Cash sauntered over to Daedalus's easel. He peered over the Nosferatu's shoulder at the painting. "You feelin' alright?" Daedalus looked up at him and quirked an eyebrow. "Fine. Why do you ask?" The Gangrel grinned unrepentantly. "Because, for once, you're painting something that doesn’t make me want to crawl into a hole until the bad things go away." "I take it you don't approve of my work?" Daedalus gestured to other paintings. "Nah. It's fine. Much better than what Lillie and her brigade of poseurs put out. Lotsa emotion." He shivered. "And that's the problem… cause they're not NICE emotions." Daedalus smiled. "Imagine, the ruthless Gangrel bodyguard, afraid of a few pictures." "Bah. I know where I stand with an enemy. But, paintings? They're sneaky little bastards. Not like some Brujah whose head I can just blow off." Daedulus couldn't suppress the shiver that ran through his body at Cash's off-hand tone. The Gangrel realized his mistake too late. Blood rushed into his face, proving that Kindred can indeed blush. Daedalus noted his reaction, and a chill went down his spine. "Uh… Daedalus... I mean…" "So. You know." His expressionless voice belied the anxiety he felt. Cash swallowed. "Yeah." He cocked his head at the other vampire. "But I don't understand." Daedalus ignored the implied question. "How did you find out?" The Gangrel's eyes flicked wildly around the room, before settling on the ceiling. "Well… uh… you weren't THAT circumspect…" "You were watching me." There was no accusation in Daedulus's voice. Cash stop short. "Well what did you expect me to do! Your eyes were practically buggin' out when you looked at Cameron during the conclave. I thought I was gonna have to get the hose... " He dropped all levity from his voice. "The Prince has gotta come first…" The Nosferatu surged to his feet, knocking the paints to the ground. His voice was deadly cool. "You thought I would betray my Prince." Cash stepped back involuntarily, before recovering. He forced himself to meet Daedalus's eyes. "No. I didn't think so. But, I had to know." He watched the Nosferatu uneasily. The hurt and anger in his friend's eyes cut him to the quick. Suddenly, he felt like a real heel. Daedalus's eyes flashed, and cooled. When he spoke again, his voice was perfectly even. "And after they reported to you, you went straight to the Prince." "He is still my boss. And yours too." Cash hurried on, uncomfortable under Daedalus's silent scrutiny. "Look. It doesn't matter. He knows, he's pissed, and he's gonna call you on it." "Yes. I'm sure he is." Daedalus looked around his studio with a bored expression. "Thank you for that vital information, Cash." "I… I just that I'd warn ya." Another set of fists pounded on the door. Cash jumped. Daedalus carefully placed his brush on the paint stand and turned to face the door. "Come in." His voice didn't waver a bit. The door cracked open, and two of Cash's Gangrel slipped through the opening. They looked around the room nervously. The taller one, a woman with black hair, gave Cash a curious stare. Then she cleared her throat. "Primogen Daedalus?" Daedalus nodded in confirmation. The woman continued, staring intently down at the print out in her hands. "We’ve been sent to collect you. By the Prince. He wants to see you in his office. Would you come with us please?" She colored slightly, visibly uncomfortable with the situation. Daedalus strode over to them, without looking at Cash. "Of course." The woman nodded, happy that there hadn't been any trouble. She and her comrade stepped back, to allow Daedalus to leave the room first. Then they followed, flanking him. Their footsteps echoed in the long hall, until they entered the house proper. Cash stood in the silence for a long time, staring at his feet. "Fuck." He shook his head and left Daedalus's suite, with a sick feeling in his stomach. Cameron's day had started out in a haze of disorientation. After straggling in just before dawn, covered in sand, he had rushed upstairs to his office, avoiding his staff. A shower had served to clear his mind, and now, around three, things were beginning to return to normal. Depressingly normal. "You've gotta be kidding…" Cameron glared at Mikey over his desk. "Do I look like I'm kidding." He let a little fang slip from underneath his top lip. The fledgling peered closely at him, and then slumped in resignation. "You're not kidding." Cameron smiled. "Nope. And I expect you to look… appropriate." "You don't mean…" Mikey's eyes widened in horror. "Not a suit." "And a tie." Mikey shuddered again. Cameron's smile widened. Assigning a Brujah, especially one with Mikey's temperament, to gate duty was both cruel and unusual. Gate guards got to sit outside of Brujah head quarters, looking menacing. It was mind-numbingly boring. And it required dress clothing. After the events of the week, however, Cameron was disinclined to feel sympathy for the neonate. Mikey's eyes narrowed. He opened mouth in protest. Cameron shot him an icy glare. The protest subsided into a mutter. "… stupid… ventrue-whipped… son of a bitch…." He grumbled his way out of the office, visions of neckwear dancing in his head. "And brush your damn hair!" Cameron called out after him. He was rewarded with a particularly virulent buzz of obscenities. He waited until the last "son of bitch" had faded into the distance, and then let out a drawn-out sigh. Much as he hated to admit it, there was some truth in Mikey's insults. How often does that happen, he grinned ruefully. He was whipped, very much so. Cameron would have punished Mikey anyway, for causing the disturbance at the Haven. The last thing he needed was Lillie's animosity. But, the fact that Julian had told- ordered- him to punish Mikey, made him grit his teeth. And the Prince had come so close to doing something even more drastic… It was a mess. His fists clenched. There was nothing he'd like more than to bring Julian Luna down a notch or two, preferably by cutting off bits of his legs. He was about to indulge in that pleasant fantasy, but Daedalus's face superimposed itself over the image. Cameron groaned. Things had really gone too far if he couldn't even enjoy a decent revenge fantasy without the Nosferatu popping up. The more he thought about, the more certain he was, last night had not been a good idea. It wasn't as if he even liked the damned Nosferatu. A warm feeling welled up in his stomach at the thought of Daedalus. Fine. It still hadn't been a good idea. He buried his head in his hands. He couldn't afford the emotion. What if, though, his inner voice whispered, what if you could make him see the light? Julian's a prick. Sooner or later Daedalus has gotta get sick of it. He remembered the fire in the Nosferatu's eyes back in the hallway and shook his head. The Nosferatu was the Prince's man through and through. He clenched his fingers, only to release quickly, as a twinge of pain ran up his scalp. Desperate to escape his thoughts, he shoved the chair away from the desk and stood up. He started to pace back and forth in front of the desk. The frenetic movement, took his mind off of Daedalus, thankfully. Instead, he found himself staring at the picture over his chair. It was just some piece of junk he'd added while trying to make the office less neo-Mafia. Looking at it now reminded him of Manzanita. He could almost smell the cool, piney air. In his mind's eye, he saw the pines rising far above him in the moonlight. Campfire flickered off of their ancient trunks. Further on, there'd be a party going. Phantom guitars and ghostly drums pounded in his ears. Faces long gone and voices long silent flashed through his mind. He almost found himself stepping forward, to join them. He looked at the picture again. But they're all dead. The thought froze him cold. The music fell silent. They're all dead, and now they live through a tacky picture in my office. He laughed bitterly. All of his anger returned, and his nails bit into his palms. I'm gonna get you, Luna, he snarled to himself, I have to. Daedalus's face rose in his mind, but he tried to push it away. The image didn't budge. He exhaled slowly. He had to talk to Daedalus. Not that he expected it to do any good. Hell, he didn't know what he was going to say. The smart thing would be to tell the Nosferatu, cleanly, to go to hell. But, given the way his knees were wobbling, that probably wasn't how things were going to turn out. Just let me stay upright for this interview, he begged his legs, and I think I can survive this with most of my manhood intact. He limped back over to his desk and focused on the papers piled there, enough to occupy him until sunset. Daedalus stared impassively at Julian from his seat in the Prince's office. Julian's face was almost as expressionless, but the set of his jaw and the lines around his eyes belied his anxiety. The Prince coughed once, sounding more scornful than nervous. Daedalus didn't respond. "Do you know why I called you up here?" "One might suppose you desired the pleasure of my company." There was no hint of irony in his voice. Julian heaved a long -suffering sigh. "It certainly has something to do with pleasure. AND company." He couldn't quite keep the tightness out of his voice. "I see." The Prince's voice lowered menacingly. "You slept with Cameron." "No." Julian raised one perfectly groomed eyebrow. "There was no slumber involved." The Prince's eyes narrowed. He leaned of the desk towards the Nosferatu, peering at him intensely. Daedalus didn't flinch. Finally, Julian sat back in his chair. "Why?" The word was heavy with anger, but there was tinge of betrayal in it as well. "The opportunity presented itself. I am not made of stone." "Dammit, Daedalus! This isn't some idiot you picked up in bar! It's," his lip twisted, "Ian Cameron. I'm not begrudging you your right to enjoyment. But, our worst enemy?" He shook his head in disbelief. Daedalus nodded. "Yes. He is your enemy. But, maybe not forever…" his voice trailed into silence. "Please! The man is a barbarian. He won't be satisfied until this city comes crashing down around our feet! And he killed Archon Raine!" Julian's voice shook with anger. "Julian." Daedalus's voice softened. "I slept with him. I did not promise to help him overthrow you, or the Ventrue, or the Camarilla." The Prince snorted. "Bloody good choice of a sex partner, then." "Some times sex makes us all a little unwise." Daedalus looked pointedly at the picture of Caitlin on Julian's desk. The black-haired vampire bristled slightly. "There's no similarity. I love her." Daedalus shrugged. Julian's eyebrows rose even higher. His voice trembled incredulously. "You can't mean…" his face twisted in disgust. "You LOVE Ian Cameron?!" "I did not say that." "What IS he to you then?" Julian pulled himself back together. The vampire across from him paused momentarily, as if debating two answers. Finally, he spoke, a little uncertainly. "I am not sure…" Julian cut him off. "It doesn't matter. It has to stop." "As the Prince commands, of course." "You know why I’m doing this." Daedalus uncrossed his legs. "Yes. You fear Cameron." Julian leaned forward. "As I should. As should we all! He wants to send this city into chaos. I will not allow that!" His eyes blazed. "Perhaps he would not be so keen to set the world afire, if he did not think it was a dangerous place for him and his." "What would you have me do? Slit my throat. Hand over the keys to the city, mayhap? Because nothing less will satisfy him." Daedalus sat straighter. "Have you asked? Have you even spoken to him?" "The little bastard's ruthless!" The Nosferatu looked at Julian quizzically. "With no reason, I am sure." "He tried to kill me. He murdered… my sire…" Julian swallowed past the sudden blockage in his throat. "He's half-crazy for revenge." Daedalus nodded slightly, silent for a moment as he considered his words. "I agree. I did not say we should acquiesce to all of his demands, simply that we listen." "You can't play both sides." Julian waved a hand dismissively. Daedalus raised one eyebrow laconically. "I do not play sides, my Prince. The Nosferatu are always nuetral." The Prince gaped at him. Daedalus met his open mouth with a face of stone. "So." Julian's voice was deadly quiet. "You will abandon me and the City if things come to a head?" "The welfare of the City is always my concern." The Nosferatu closed his eyes, in pain. "And I will do what is necessary." He shook his head and rose to his feet. "Even…" he looked away, "if it is distasteful." "I won't change my mind about Cameron. He's dangerous." "I quite agree. I do not wish you to change your mind, only to use it rationally. My Prince." Daedalus bowed slightly and strode to the door. Behind him, Julian was silent. The Nosferatu kept his eyes forward, and pushed purposefully through the door. Then, when it had shut fully, he allowed his shoulders to stiffen. He hurried through the hallways, ignoring the curious gazes following his receding back. The End.