What the future holds (Attn:Therese)
Vaughn had moved much of his things to one of the other rooms in the asylum. Tonight he invited Therese there. It was sparse yet but important things had been set up, such a bed, television and desk. He was told by Antoine that the Alpha could not live in such a tiny apartment it was unseemly or something. Vaughn had laughed at his friend. It would be fine for now. He grew up traveling in a wagon so really this was huge by comparison.
He was no longer concerned about what the pack thought of his infidelity. He had spoken all he was going to say in his own defense. He was not going to hide it. However, he was not going to make Therese the object of public scrutiny either. This 'date', if it could be called one, was on pack grounds but not out in the public eye of the Vyusher. Some time in the near future perhaps the rest of the R'asa here in Nachton would see them together but for now he preferred not to share his time with Therese.
He set out the copy of Blade Runner on top of the television set. His personal collection of movies was rather slim but he thought Therese might find it interesting, at least he hoped so.
Vaughn brought out the ice bucket, the bottle of wine and glasses, setting them on a nightstand. He needed to talk with her about what he had learned from the other pack first. It was his sincere hope that she had a good explanation for her actions and that they could quickly put that discussion behind them and go on to enjoy the evening together.
Stepping out into the common area nearest his room, Vaughn sat on the sofa with a book and awaited Therese's arrival.
Fortunately he wasn't in his room, she really didn't want to have to knock. ThÃ©rÃ¨se relaxed somewhat, but also looked about a bit to see if they were alone. For now, that appeared to be the case. Taking advantage of the momentary privacy she politely kissed him on the cheek.
She was deliberately a bit formal, partially for anyone who was listening or watching, she wanted to appear a bit respectful. And partially because she was edgy, she wasn't entirely certain how to proceed, although throwing herself into him seemed a good start. Later though.
"What are you reading?"
Polite inoffensive chatter seemed like a better start than climbing into his lap.
"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." Replacing his book mark, he closed the novel and stood,straightening his jeans. Vaughn leaned over and gave her a return kiss on the cheek in greeting and pointed the way to his room.
"It is the book that Blade Runner is based on. " He looked down at the paperback in his hands. "They explore what it really means to be human with the idea that humanity has learned to create machines that very closely resemble themselves. So closely that special tests have to be run in order to tell the difference."
With a snort, he added. '"According to the book, we shifters would be less physically human than the androids who have been made from biological materials."
Opening the door for Therese, Vaughn followed her inside and shut the door behind them. "Have a seat. I'm afraid I haven't had much of a chance to call a decorator." He gave her smile and then sat down on the bed.
"There is something I would like to discuss with you before we watch the movie."
Well science fiction was not her typical genre, oh she liked it well enough but for one reason or another didn't often wind up reading it. If someone recommended it strongly enough she'd read it though, there was no prejudice often it novels were quite relevant to contemporary society.
"I'm afraid I have not seen that film."
There were a great many movies she hadn't seen. For some reason or another there was just never time. That and she often preferred dancing or otherwise interacting with people to watching a movie.
She narrowed her eyes suspiciously at the book at Vaughn's statement.
"Wonderful. Prejudice even in a fictional world."
She followed him willingly, if somewhat shyly, still a little leery of being seen, but at the same time glad for the privacy of his room. The simplicity actually appealed to her, although she did think perhaps she might look for a print he would enjoy, just something to give the room depth. If she wasn't so reluctant to display her own work she'd offer one of her own paintings. Of course, that was rather... presumptuous as well. Perhaps later.
ThÃ©rÃ¨se curled up on the bed leaving an 'appropriate' distance between them. She was suddenly glad she had. What could he want to discuss. Her heart sank and her stomach tied itself into a knot. Perhaps he'd reconsidered, he would rather not be involved with her It was quite possible, the Pack could be giving him trouble and they were more important, it could be that she had lost the child, she would not blame him for that. She took two very measured deep breaths steeling herself for the worst.
Once they had settled onto the bed, he turned to her, setting the novel aside on his bed stand next to the ice bucket. He hated to do this now. Vaughn would much rather curl up with her and watch the movie like a nice normal couple with no problems more serious than when to start sharing the toothpaste and the last name.
He sighed softly and decided the best thing to do was get it out straight from the beginning. "I was contacted by the Kadzait. A couple of their people were attacked by one of our wolves." Vaughn regarded her soberly for a moment. "A wolf that very much resembles you from the description that I was given. So I ask you, was there a reason? What is going on, Therese?"
Vaughn waited patiently, his hands folded in his lap, his face serene. There was no judgment for the moment. He hoped that it was all a mistake or that she had a good reason for her actions. Perhaps the Kadzait couple lied about the situation, perhaps they even started it. Xeph seemed to believe that they were telling the truth as it happened but wouldn't he also believe his own people if such a report were given to him? Not necessarily. He had very little tolerance for bullshit and there were usually signs of it. Xeph seemed pretty astute and Vaughn had no reason to believe his pack members were trying to start trouble. He also knew that Therese had followed one of them before. Antoine confirmed that the man with Tavi was the same one from the reported attack. The Legionnaire also seemed convinced that Therese was the aggressor.
She sat perfectly still, thinking turning phrases over in her head trying them out. She could feel her mental choke collar tighten. How she said this was almost as important as what she said, she had to find the holes. It was all she could do not to stand and pace, but the more she thought the more she began to flex her jaw.
"It wasn't an attack."
She said very slowly, waiting for her words to be forcibly halted. When they weren't she ventured on.
"The 'why' however is rather... complicated. I'm not certain I can explain it."
She couldn't say any more, every time she'd considered an answer she'd felt the inevitable pull of the commands. She'd gnaw her own arm off if it would help her tell the story. ThÃ©rÃ¨se couldn't even look at Vaughn as she spoke, all she could do was pray he believed her.
"No harm was meant."
No, she wanted to help. If she could help this Sorenson woman and the Kadzait male then perhaps some one could help her.
She'd know off her other arm if this could be just an ordinary evening. The timing of his questioning left something to be desired she wanted nothing more than to spend a quiet evening with Vaughn, just to be together.
This kid that she was following and perhaps the woman he had been with were obviously somehow involved. Vaughn wondered what the Kadzait might be able to tell him about this. There had to be some reason for Therese's interest in Tavi's boyfriend, or whatever he was to his daughter.
He was also beginning to suspect that Therese was in more trouble than simply a bad ex-boyfriend who was beating her. Antoine had said that the night she had been injured enough to cause the miscarriage that a suited man entered the front entrance but was never seen leaving that way. They poured over the security tapes and found him leaving out the back.
Vaughn had the Legionnaire go through the past security tapes until he found the night Therese had her encounter with the pallets. Sure enough, the same suited man was there. He looked like a typical patron, a wall dressed admirer of the arts. No one would have any reason to suspect that he was beating the Head Curator of the Arch in his spare time.
Or that he was a vampire. They noticed in all the footage that the man never came before dark. It could be for a lot of reasons. He could have a day job and he did not get off until past dark; it could be that he was waiting for a quiet time in the museum to do his dirty work. However, when Vaughn added up the night time visits with her behavior at the meeting with the Elder of Evenhet and some of their past conversations the idea that the guy was a mulo did not seem so far fetched. He couldn't be human and get the better of Therese who would have strength and speed beyond even the best athletes humanity had to offer. That left one of their own kind or a vampire.
"So this mulo. He is making you do these things?" It really was not a question. Vaughn gritted his teeth, his own jaw flexing as he strove for calm. This leech would regret the day he ever became a part of her life before his own ended...and Vaughn planned to make certain his unnatural existence was cut tragically short, very soon.
He reached out a hand and took her's, favoring her with a more calm expression. Vaughn said gently. "It is okay. We'll find a way to free you from him. I promise."
Of course, she'd have to warn her keeper now, let him know that the Pack was aware of him he was in danger. His commands did not just stop applying because her message had gotten though. Suddenly ThÃ©rÃ¨se was afraid, she had no idea how he would react. He -might- chose to retreat and protect himself. But he might become violent, it could be limited to her or he could turn on the Pack, or any one in the Pack.
"Perhaps this was not a good idea."
It was a vague statement, but ThÃ©rÃ¨se was very aware she'd potentially exposed the Pack to a great deal of danger. It made her sick, she should have kept this as her problem.
Holding fast to his hand ThÃ©rÃ¨se managed a weak smile.
"It will be fine, as long as you know it can be managed."
The words were barley choked out, that was pushing the limits of his instruction. She had come terribly close to confirming his existence. But if they knew could be managed, she could be contained and her keeper's influence on the Pack could be minimal. If there was a way to free her she would be able to tell them more about him, to even confirm his existence.
She punched the mattress in frustration, wanting to say more, but couldn't. Every time she tried she was cut off.
This was now a bigger problem than it had been. He could explain the situation to Xephier but it seemed unwise. How did you say that one of your own was being commanded to do things by a mulo? Still in the interest of genuine friendship and cooperation with the other pack, he should explain it to their Alpha and let him know that they would take care of the problem. He also needed to talk to the man about his two pack mates. Surely there was a reason why Therese chose to attack those two. She was obviously following the male which suggested there was some specific reason for the vampire's interest in him and perhaps the woman he was with.
He would tell Antoine what he knew now about the situation and let the Legionnaire handle searching for the vampire and keeping a close eye on Therese.
"I should ask you to stay here where you could be protected." Vaughn watched her closely. "I know that you would probably hate that and your job at the museum is important to you but I don't want you hurt anymore." He reached out and gently cupped her cheek. "I don't want you to ever have to see him again."
Vaughn sighed. "I suppose he compels you to meet with him." He could lock her up; perhaps there was a limit of distance or time to this command she had been given.
It would be necessary to visit Alfarinn again and hope that the vampire elder could help or at least give him advice on how to break this particular bond. There had to be way... The Evenhet had mentioned this ability before and said that it was the one used on their kind after the war. That bond, crafted by so many vampires, was breaking. They had done nothing different. In fact the R'asa did their best to stay away from the mulo as much as possible. So perhaps time was the key. If the bastard was not allowed to see her to reenforce the commands then they would wear down. Or perhaps over these long years enough of the vampires who had cursed their people were now dead. That always worked in the movies; perhaps there was a kernel of truth to that notion. It was indeed hard to hold sway over someone from the grave.
Yet another reason for the mulo to die.
He did not want to lock Therese away against her will. It was a tough decision to consider her feelings against her safety and that of the pack. A large part of him demanded that he put her somewhere secure, for her own good and that of the Vyusher. Who knows what information about them had been handed over to this...this...evil, manipulative, dead thing. Another portion of him said that if he did lock her away then Therese would likely never speak to him again.
"He beats you when you fight him?" Or displease him in some way. It was a shame she couldn't tell them what the mulo wanted. Perhaps if they knew the answer to that they could foil his plans.
Vaughn moved closer and wrapped Therese in his arms. "I can't imagine how terrible this has been for you. How alone you've been." He kissed her hair and held her tightly. The trouble with their affair seemed minor compared to this and Therese had born all of it quietly. This monster, their forbidden love, the scrutiny of the pack, the miscarriage... her strength made him feel small.
"I will take care it." Somehow. Now that he knew; he would not stop until she was safe. "You're not alone anymore."
She agreed as she closed her eyes and rested her forehead on his. It wasn't at all hard to follow his reasoning. But ThÃ©rÃ¨se knew she'd not be able to keep any promise, her keeper's commands were stronger than she was.
"I have to go to work though, the meetings are important. I might... ..." she ground her teeth trying to find a word she could get out, "the stairs are slippery but it will be alright."
Not that she was a masochist by any stretch of the imagination and her fondest wish was to be free of her keeper. But ThÃ©rÃ¨se also wasn't willing to simply sit this one out. It would take more than one to take him down and right now as she was already compromised it was probably best to let her remain in contact with him. Better than potentially letting him get control of someone else without the Pack knowing, the devil you knew was often better. In short, they needed her involved.
Any other day this talking in code, dancing around the issue would be amusing, entertaining but right now it only irritated her. She couldn't say half of what she wanted to and then in a very round about matter and had to hope Vaughn understood what she was really saying.
To his last two questions ThÃ©rÃ¨se could only really offer silence. Some times she thought he used physical intimidation just because he could, because he couldn't stand her or what she was. Occasionally though he had a 'reason' although his temper had been shorter of late and he seemed to be very angry at their kind. -Very- angry. And she certainly didn't meet with him voluntarily, but that went without saying.
Right now, for just this moment ThÃ©rÃ¨se let herself hide in Vaughn's arms, it was something she'd wanted to do for quite some time. Her head rested on his chest and her arms wound around him of their own accord.
"I will help."
She said quietly, reinforcing the idea that she wasn't going to watch from the sidelines. Someone knew now, someone whose mind was their own. Either Vaughn could find away to solve the problem or he could ask someone else, with any luck her non-answers would help some. It was like being lost in the woods and finding a path. The path might be over grown and hard to see right now and she wasn't sure where it went, but it was a path.
Vaughn was a bit skeptical about how much help she could be at the moment, controlled as she was. It was something that she was offering. He nodded his acceptance and squeezed her tightly, silently offering comfort and his support.
There was nothing more to be said about it for now. They could turn their attention to something more positive. Therese deserved to be happy and to feel safe for a while.
Tilting his head down close to her's, he spoke softly. "You know there is something that I've been wanting to tell you for days now." Vaughn paused, enjoying the feel of her finally in his arms again. Once his decision had been made it had been more difficult to be patient with not being able to see her every spare moment that they had. It was a relief to finally have this time alone together. "I love you, Therese, with all my heart."
At least he wasn't pressing her to remain confined, hidden, he trusted her that far it was something. The odds were good that she'd be a lightening rod, that her keeper would focus any additional anger on her but she'd managed this far she would continue to manage.
He couldn't have held her tightly enough. ThÃ©rÃ¨se was profoundly glad he wasn't wearing a suit. Buttons in her cheek and stiff layers of fabric would not have been at all comforting. This was better, this was Vaughn not the mayor, and t it was Vaughn that she wanted.
She shook her head slightly. No, she didn't want to discuss anything else, she just wanted to be. No more commands, no more mulo, just them. But he spoke any way. ThÃ©rÃ¨se wasn't sure she'd heard right, her eyes flew open and she looked up at him questioning. No one had ever said that to her.
"You.. I.. really?"
Not her most articulate moment ever. She flushed slightly a little embarrassed. He did? Knowing she'd lost a child, knowing that she was held by a vampire and he...
It was completely unexpected ThÃ©rÃ¨se was completely unprepared to express her own feelings, which wasn't fair to Vaughn but such were the consequences of flustering her.
"Yes, I really love you."
Perhaps a physical demonstration would help it sink in. Vaughn leaned down, tilting her chin up, and kissed her tenderly, lingering for a long blissful moment on the soft lips beneath his own. Eventually he pulled back and smiled at her again. Quoting his daughter, he added.
Still slightly stunned it took a moment or two for her to reaponded to his kiss. When she did though it was soft, slow, savoring a tiny part of her was still afraid. Afraid both of what he had had said and afraid of what could still go wrong. Beyond that ThÃ©rÃ¨se had spent months studiously avoiding naming her feelings for Vaughn, any time she thought about it, any time she was asked she side stepped the question always having reasons that she shouldn't have feelings for him. But, by the same token, she'd never denied it.
There could still be a 'but' in his words, lord knew their relationship hadn't been ordinary or smooth and there was still the threat of outside pressures causing trouble or pain. ThÃ©rÃ¨se decided she no longer cared, she jumped off that cliff with him.
"And I love you. Of course I do."
This time ThÃ©rÃ¨se kissed him, slightly more aggressively. Even if there was a 'but' hidden in that statement some where it didn't matter. No, he was hers and she loved him. There. She'd finally said it and she wasn't taking it back.
He smiled at her, giving her another small kiss before leaning back and pulling the bottle out of the ice. Vaughn popped the cork and poured them each a glass of wine. It was not cheap but it was red.
"A toast to us, then." He tapped his glass gently to her's. "To a brighter, happier future."
Taking a swallow of the wine, Vaughn then leaned forward and kissed her tenderly. He wrapped his arms around her again, careful of his glass. Looking down at her, he asked. "Are you sure you want to watch the movie? We can do whatever you like."
She agreed happily, slowly warming up to the evening. It was quite a shift in gears from vampires holding her in thrall to love. But she was quite happy to contemplate the second. In fact ThÃ©rÃ¨se was hard pressed not to laugh, she was happy. Very happy and had no idea how to direct that energy right now. She didn't even taste the wine, no she was far too elated to do anything so mundane as contemplate bouquets, body, top notes and finishes.
Removing his glasses she smiled softly and set them aside carefully. She had never heard of a wolf needing glasses and could only imagine these were part of his persona. Well, she wasn't in love with a persona she was in love with Vaughn. Quietly ThÃ©rÃ¨se nuzzled his neck her smile took on a smokey over tone as she again found his lips, soft and warm.
"Monsieur, I almost think you are trying to take advantage of me."
ThÃ©rÃ¨se absolutely could be happy laying in bed, in his arms watching the movie. Very happy. How many nights after meeting with her keeper had she longed for just that? How many nights alone had she wished just for him to hold her? More than she could count.
Of course, it had also been three months. Three very long months during which she had been entirely faithful to a man she could never have. As never seemed to be a relative term ThÃ©rÃ¨se had no issues leaning into him and slowly, deliberately moving the same soft kisses they had exchanged from his lips to his jaw and down the side of his neck. Nothing too suggestive or provocative, just enough to let him know she was interested before nestling against him with a contented sigh.
"I have not seen the movie you know."
He grinned again when Therese settled once more against his chest and told him that she had not seen the movie. Vaughn turned with her in his arms and leaned her back against the pillows. After a long passionate kiss to show her exactly what her attentions had started, he leaned back.
"Then its probably best if we watch it later. Otherwise you won't see it now either." Vaughn flashed her an unrepentant grin before leaning down and nibbling gently on one of her ears. Speaking softly, he asked. "Do you know how many cold showers I've had to take, imagining you once more in a bed with me?" With his tongue, he gently traced the shell of her ear. "It seemed like hundreds."
Vaughn leaned back and looked at her soberly for a moment. "I want to wake up with you in my arms, Therese. Maybe not tonight, if you don't wish it, but soon."
She did her best not to melt at his attention, she wanted to, oh she wanted to. His scent his touch even his breath, it was more than she'd remembered. That one snow day, the memory was like a letter read too many times, worn at the creases the words faded. This was a new letter.
ThÃ©rÃ¨se laughed a soft throaty laugh as her hands sought skin, warmth something real not just a memory.
"I'm afraid my dreams have not been limited to beds."
She confessed, neglecting to mention his sweatshirt at all. That had been her one constant companion for quite some time now, she treasured it.
"What is wrong with tonight?"
There was a difference between not flaunting their affair and hiding it. She had no real reason to go back to her room and every reason to stay.
He leaned down and tugged the light camisole out of her dress pants, and bent to kiss the skin exposed.
Vaughn answered her question, punctuating each word with a light lick, or kiss. "There. Is. Nothing. Wrong. With. Tonight." Looking up, he smiled at her. "I would love for you to stay. More than love, thrilled beyond words."
Vaughn leaned back down and kissed his way gradually upward, pausing to graze his teeth gently up her side, sucking softly along her ribs and eventually running his lips lightly over the swell of one fabric covered breast.
"So tell me." He murmured against her skin. "about one of these fantasies." Vaughn paused and leaned up to kiss her tenderly and then favor her with a mischievous smile. "Details please, so we can see about making it a reality."
Meanwhile his hands reached around behind her back and unlatched the clasps of her bra. Vaughn slid it upward and dipped his head again, cupping the outside of both breasts in his hands and lavishing each of them with teasing licks and kisses, sucking gently against first one soft mound and then the other while he listened intently to Therese.
Occasionally dressing in layers had some disadvantages; her shoes were even buckled on so they couldn't easily be kicked off. But Vaughn seemed to be managing just fine. Goose bump rose where he exposed skin, where his lips touched, and it wasn't because she was cold, not this time.
ThÃ©rÃ¨se felt a flood of relief when he answered positively. The idea of having him only to have to slink away and sleep alone so they didn't offend someone was more than a little disheartening. She would have done it, but this was much better. It took a major force of will not to flip them over and straddle him and demonstrate how happy she was.
"I'm glad we agree on that point."
She said with a wicked grin before melting obligingly into his kiss. She could have sworn the catch on that bra had been sticking, but she was quite happy to be proved wrong. Suddenly very interested in fair play ThÃ©rÃ¨se stretched to find the hem of his shirt and tug it insistently upwards but was very quickly distracted by his attentions, gasping slightly. Touch was a powerful thing.
"You want me to think logically right now?"
She wriggled slightly under him, it was just impossible to hold still. Running her hands down his back she again repeated her silent demand that he remove his shirt.
"Would you laugh if I told you I hoped just to find you in my room? Completely unexpectedly. Perhaps I might come home and change my clothes and then... well perhaps we wouldn't need clothes."
Thanks to her keeper that had been one of her most prevalent fantasies. Just to not be alone. To feel loving hands rather than hard ones. To just feel safe and whole.
Covering herself she laughed lightly.
"We can discuss more exotic ideas if you would like, but I believe it is now your turn to divulge..."
There was another tug, more insistent than the first. Vaughn obligingly pulled the pale blue tee shirt over his head and set it off to the side. "Anything else you would like off while I am at it?" He smiled down at her before returning the favor, helping her slide out of the shrug, camisole and, now loosely fitting, bra.
He lay back down beside her once more. Moving higher, Vaughn grazed his teeth lightly across her collarbone and than placed warm kisses along her shoulder and up her neck. Meanwhile Therese told him one of her fantasies. Vaughn listened and leaned close to her ear. "No, I wouldn't laugh. There were many days that I was tempted to do just that."
Therese claimed that it was his turn to confess an intimate daydream. Vaughn wrapped his arms around her and rolled over on his back, pulling her on top of him. Glancing down at his chest and then up at her, he said. "Turn about seems fair play."
With a smile, he tucked his hands behind his head and stared thoughtfully at the ceiling for a moment. "There have been so many to choose from...." He thought of all she had been through and was still going through and picked a fantasy more full of light and romance than some of the ones that he had thought of over the past few months. "I dreamed of a time when we could pack a picnic lunch here in the common room. Then we could set out through the woods, naked, hand in hand, not worrying who saw us. We could spread a blanket out in a clearing by a stream where we could eat, laugh, talk and make love in the warm sunshine." Vaughn smiled at her. "Perhaps fall asleep there, sated and happy, tangled up together with just each other and the sounds of the stream and birds to keep us company."