CH 6: "…All this and more, Tonight, on 60 minutes."

Colin was all breath when he blew through the door of 'The Orchid.' "Boys!" He bellowed with open arms to the two wide eyed young men behind the counter.

"Hey there Colin." They both said in unison.

Colin walked up to the counter and blew out a breath as if he had been running. "What's happening fine gentlemen?"

The newly pink-haired Nate shook his head at the smiling Colin. "Nothing much Colin, how's things with you?"

"Well I'll tell you there Nate my boy, not that damn good." He looked at both boys.

"Do you want to speak with Gregor?" Tully leaned down on the counter as he spoke.

Colin entwined his fingers and shrugged. "Well boys if Gregor can help me then I'm all for it." Nate just nodded as he went into the back to find Gregor.

Gregor emerged with Nate moments later and the four men stood in an understanding silence for a brief moment until Colin spoke.

"Okay guys I'm hoping one of you can help me out here."

"Sure, what do you need Colin?" Gregor sat down on the stool and folded his arms across his chest.

"Well for starters boyle, I need to know where the fuck that amazon is." He roughly ran a hand through his hair.

"Have some tea Colin and sit." Nate pushed a small cup towards Colin.

He raised both brow mischievously. "Got anything to go in it?"

"Once a lush always a lush." Gregor's comment elicited laughter from the four. "So what's up?"

Colin took a sip of the tea and made a face. "Don't know how she drinks this shit." He mumbled and then pushed the cup away. "Anyway, so what's up. That's precisely the question or maybe the answer and I know you guys are well aware."

Tully grinned knowingly. "You mean how quiet it is?"

"No shit. It's too fucking quiet. In fact it's quiet everywhere."

Gregor sat forward. "What do you mean?"

Colin sighed with nervous energy and shrugged out of his jacket. "I'm saying they're fucking gone is what. Just gone, like vanished….all of them." Three "whats?" rang out and Colin nodded. "I went home the other week just to check in and all the dens are empty. I mean like ghost towns. There's one or two lowly stragglers, but all the lieutenants and all the big boys and such are gone. Everybody that matters has cleared out."

"No foolin?"

"None. I called Hamish and he said the same. I Got in touch with Zibu in Soweto, Tristan in Australia…nothing. Same thing with all the others I could find. Something's wrong."

"Are you serious?" Gregor stood.

"Fucking shit yeah I'm serious. This is not good and I haven't a clue what's going on, so I was hoping our stoic warrior cum leader had an answer or two."

Nate and Tully looked at one another. "She's probably got no clue." Nate replied.

"Am I to assume you talked to her?"

"Uh, yeah, yeah. She sent an email about two days ago wishing us happy new year and all that, didn't say a thing."

"So you know where she is?" Both boys shrugged. "You think you can find her?"

"Maybe. But she sent it from a library or something, um she'll probably get back in touch though as soon as she realizes."

"Shit." Colin groaned and ruffled his hair. "Is she with Clarion?"

Nate answered. "Guess so, but she didn't say."

"Fuck me." Colin huffed. "All right look here's the deal, Gregor go through some of your books and see what you can find. You two," he pointed at Nate and Tully. ", see if you can get in touch with her and find her. I got to get to her and fast."

They all nodded. "We're on it." Nate replied.

"Okay." Colin tapped his hands on the counter. "I'm going to go to her place for a day or so, so I'll be there. After that, I'll check in with you guys. Please, guys we got to get on this cause I can feel it…something ain't right and whatever it is it's bad."

"You think they got Clarion?" Tully asked the unwanted question.

Colin sighed. "I hope the hell not, but if Yoshi is with her then you can bet they don't have her… at least as long as she's alive." He paused less for dramatic effect and more for hoping he wasn't willing something to happen. "Look, I know she's still alive, that I know for sure, but we need to find them both for all our goods."

Gregor patted Colin on the shoulder. "We'll find her don't worry."

Colin nodded and smiled. "All right boys," he touched fists with the three of them ", let's get this done."

He left in the same rushed breeze of motion that he entered with leaving the three remaining men to their own private musings. None of them spoke a word as they each retreated to their respective corners of the store and began the search to find Yoshi and figure out what was going on.


Yoshi was calling out Clarion's name as she dropped her sword in the bedroom. Yoshi leaned her tall frame into the dark openings and called Clarion's name repeatedly. A moment before anxiety got the best of her Yoshi made her way to the kitchen and found the redhead. All though as Yoshi stood wide eyed in the archway, it seemed that Clarion had found her. A sly smile graced her features and green eyes were hooded in want, as Clarion stood in the middle of the kitchen in a silk purple robe that barely closed. Yoshi was doing her best to focus on the fact that she had come back in a frantic state, but her heart seemed to be pounding for a very different reason. The dark warrior could only swallow as she watched Clarion lick her lips.

"Hungry, Samurai?" The way she asked the question they both knew she wasn't talking about food.

Yoshi blinked her eyes rapidly, open and closed her mouth, and shook her head in a desperate attempt to say something, but nothing came out. As if her feet were welded to the concrete, she could do nothing but stand with her arms braced against the archway, and watch as Clarion sauntered towards her. She looked to be carrying a handful of grapes, but blue eyes were holding fast to the flesh that was revealed as Clarion glided towards her. The length of the robe trailed behind her as Clarion grew near, giving a regal air to her person. Blue eyes followed the path of flesh up until she was locked in Clarion's vermilion gaze. The red head came to a stop in front of Yoshi leaving barely an inch of space between their bodies.

"You have a nice walk?" Yoshi could only nod. "I was worried." Clarion took hold of grape and bit down on it before letting the purple orb disappear behind white teeth. "I wanted to say that I was really sorry."

Yoshi felt like her heart was going to explode and her insides were going to melt. She blinked rapidly and heard her voice crack as she tried to talk. She cleared her throat and began again. "I…I was getting that impression."

Clarion let the small grin work its way onto her face as she watched the tall woman struggle. With a deliberate slowness she spoke, as she raised a grape to Yoshi's full lips. "So, do you think," with gentle pressure Yoshi's lips parted to accept the grape and Clarion's finger as well. ", we can kiss and make up?" Clarion removed her finger only after she felt the warmth of Yoshi's tongue wrap around it.

The warrior swayed and blinked slowly as Clarion removed her finger. She swallowed hard before she sputtered out, "I think we can do that." Clarion's features rose as she smiled with lascivious intent. She raised up on her tiptoes to give Yoshi a kiss only to watch Yoshi take a step back. Clarion raised an eyebrow and Yoshi shook her head and held up her hands. "I- I, um yeah," she shook her head as she gathered her thoughts and tried not to look at the smoldering green eyes of Clarion. ", kiss and make up is great." She took another step back as Clarion began to take a step forward. "But…first we need to talk."

Clarion smiled. "Fine we can talk and then make up."

Yoshi nodded and then realized she was backing herself into a corner as Clarion moved towards her again. Yoshi shut her eyes tightly and fought the urge to just tear the flimsy robe from Clarion's body and devour her on the floor. Finally, with strength she had long forgotten about, she placed her hands under Clarion's armpits and lifted the woman off the floor as she walked into the kitchen with her. Clarion could only gasp at the sudden movement and what was excitement on her part turned to confusion as Yoshi put her down next to the stove and then proceeded to walk all the across the room back to the arch way.

Yoshi squeezed the bridge of her nose and sighed. "You just stay over there."

Clarion managed to curtail the wide grin that was threatening to break across her face. She even tried to remove some of the seductive tone from her voice as she spoke. "I thought we were talking Yoshi."

Blue eyes darted everywhere around the kitchen except on Clarion. "We are talking."

"But you're all the way over there."

"I know, I know. Can you um, uh.." She trailed off and closed the gap between her Clarion as she took a moment to close her robe and then she retreated back to her side of the room.

Clarion didn't hold back the smile this time. "You want me to put on some baggy pants or something."

Yoshi smiled weakly and looked at Clarion sheepishly. "I doubt if that will help."

Clarion chuckled. "Well at least you're not mad."

"I want to be mad." Yoshi leaned back against the wall and shoved her hands in her pockets. "But I'm more curious than anything."

"About what?" Clarion leaned down on the counter."

Blue eyes rolled as Yoshi contemplated her answers. "For starters, I had a ten minute conversation with a dead woman."

Clarion's eyes went wide with glee as she clapped her hands together. "How is Mama D?"

Yoshi let out a sigh and mumbled, "Of course you're not surprised."

"Whenever I come home she always pops up, I would have thought she would just retired and go sit on a cloud somewhere." She smiled. "So how is she?"

Yoshi shrugged and kept telling herself to go with the flow. "She's great gave me some good advice and all that."

"She's always doing that. So, anyway what's the big deal?" She wagged her finger at the Samurai. "It still amazes me that you get freaked out about this stuff, I mean I know you've probably seen a dragon or Warlocks and witches and things. Sometimes, I think you forget how old you are."

Yoshi rubbed her back. "My body doesn't all the time."

Clarion arched a brow. "What did you do out there tonight?"

Yoshi seemed to perk up at the question as she moved away from the wall and walked towards the counter. "That's what I want to talk to you about. What do you know about the Vampires around here?"

Clarion groaned. "Nothing I care to remember really."


"I am being serious. I left here so I wouldn't have to remember any of them and no matter how many times I come back I do my best to stay out of their way." Clarion hopped onto the counter. "Why?"

"I ran into a couple tonight."

"What!" Clarion raised her head with such a quickness that she banged it into the cabinet behind her. "Son of a bitch!"

Yoshi stifled her laugh when she knew Clarion was okay. "You all right?"

Clarion mumbled and hopped off the counter. "Yeah, yeah," she said while rubbing the spot on her head, "but how bout we go somewhere where the walls won't attack me."

Yoshi stood up right and thrust her finger at Clarion. "No bedroom!"

Clarion put her hands on her hips and managed to glare at Yoshi instead of bursting into giggles. "Get your mind out of the gutter, I thought we were talking."

Yoshi let out a relieved breath. "After you then." Clarion nodded and walked out of the kitchen with such a sway, that Yoshi had to fan herself and concentrate on her walking. They made there way into the sitting room, where Clarion stretched out on the couch and Yoshi relaxed in cushy arm chair. She slumped down in the chair and her back thanked her for it, as she caught Clarion's gaze. "All right Larieux, spill it."


CH 7: "Not going anywhere for a while?"

Clarion made herself comfortable as she sat back on the throw pillows and rested her arm on the back of the sofa. "Where do you want me to start?" Clarion was trying to sound enthusiastic but this was not how she had planned to be spending time with Yoshi once she returned.

"I want to know about the sword, about Magnus, about the Vampires around here, why I went blind tonight, and mostly what kind of Vampires have zombies for friends." Yoshi finished ticking off her list on her fingers and raised her eyes to see a wide eyed Clarion who was sitting on the edge of the couch.

"Please tell me that's the script you just sent in for an episode of Buffy?"

A black eyebrow lifted at the absurdity of the question. "That show is so not realistic." She was completely serious.

Clarion physically closed her gaping jaw with her hand and shook her head. She opened her mouth to say something and then shook her head again. "Okay, well that's a conversation best left for naked time, so let's just ignore that and attend to the seriousness of the issue." Yoshi just nodded. "What do you mean you were blind?"

Yoshi sat up in the chair and leaned forward as she tugged at the laces of her boots. "Just that. One second, I was fine, my eyesight was perfect, and the next thing I know I wiping dust out of my eyes and then everything was gone."

Clarion furrowed her brow and nibbled on her lip as she thought of her next question. "You mean the dust made everything blurry so you closed your eyes or your retinas detached?"

"The second one."

Clarion huffed and tousled her hair. "You sure it was a Vampire?"

"Absolutely. I know a Vampire when I come in to contact with one and I'm not that easily fooled…" She clipped her words as she looked in Clarion's direction and saw the redhead fighting a smirk. Yoshi started to stick out her bottom lip, but then realized that the action would probably cause Clarion to get all sappy and Yoshi was working on being focused and angered. "Anyway, I know it was a Vampire and he practically admitted it. So what are you thinking?"

"Ya' see, Voodoo, Santeria, whatever you want to call it, it doesn't mix well with Vampires." Clarion crossed her legs underneath her. "It's things like Voodoo that have been used to void off Vampires. Generally, it's considered a curse for the dead to walk to earth especially when somebody causes it. Contrary to popular belief real Voodoo isn't evil and amoral. It's religion plain and simple…it's faith. Take a heaping handful of Catholicism and mix it up with all the religious practices that the Slaves left Africa with and you have Voodoo. "

Yoshi raised a skeptical eyebrow. "But Clarion, this is N'awlins." She mimicked the woman's accent perfectly, which elicited a grin from Clarion.

"True, true cher. But I'm just wondering what's changed around here to allow for that to happen. Some things just are the way they are."

"But you practice."

"But I was human for the first 16 years of my life. I had no clue I was dead woman walking until it became painfully obvious."

"But you still practiced."

Green eyes met blue. "Because I had no want to become a monster." They were silent for a moment as Clarion's words hung thickly in the room. She patted her thighs and winked at Yoshi. "How about a drink?"

Yoshi nodded. "That probably wouldn't be bad." Clarion walked to a cabinet on the far side of the room and sat in front of it as she removed two snifters and bottle of Cognac. Yoshi eyed the bottle and grinned. "1827?"

Clarion chuckled and sat the bottle down on the coffee table that sat between the two arms chairs. She sat down in the other chair with a chuckle. "Nah, 1932. But it was still a good year." A wicked grin cut across Clarion's face and Yoshi just shook her head. "All right, so you said your Vampire had zombies with him?"

"That's what they seemed to be and I had a time getting rid of them."

"Did you use the gris-gris?" After a moment of swirling the snifter Yoshi grunted in the affirmative. Clarion held back her smile. "If it is a Vampire, he's very good. When you couldn't see did he say anything to you?"

"Uh, he just said something about seeing what I couldn't and then the next thing I knew, it was dark."

Clarion nodded. "What about when it came back?"

"He told me to believe what I wanted."

Clarion tugged at her lip. "Whoever he is or whatever, he's very good, very powerful. He's practiced is what. Hmm."

"What?" Yoshi turned in her chair and looked at Clarion's profile as she contemplated her last statement.

"I just don't remember anybody like that?"

"Perhaps a human that was turned?"

"Yeah that makes sense." Clarion sipped at her drink. "Okay, okay, I can deal with this. All though my question to you is how did they find us so fast?"

"I've been thinking that for a while, but I didn't get the feeling he knew about you or more over why I might be here. It seemed like a test, like he was sizing me up." She stretched her legs out over the arm of the chair. "And that's the other thing, the vamp I fought used a sword."

Clarion didn't flinch as she sipped casually from her glass. She sensed the question in Yoshi's voice and turned towards her. "Is that unusual or something?"

Yoshi grinned. "Pretty rare these days. Hasn't really been in practice for about two centuries."

"Well, well. So, we've got Voodoo practicing Vampires, who have zombies for lackeys, and they are partial to traditional warfare."

Yoshi shrugged. "Sounds like a fair synopsis."

Clarion smiled. "Well good, cause that's all I got pahtna'."

Yoshi shared her smile. "So now that we've done the hard stuff, why don't you tell me about the easy stuff."

Clarion groaned and slouched in her chair. "Can't we go get naked now?"

Yoshi refused to be baited by Clarion's whining. She sat up in the chair and shook her head at Clarion. "That's not working, you promised me the whole story, and I want to know about the blade."

"What's to know?"

"Larieux." Yoshi glared at Clarion, causing the smaller woman to look away. "I'll pout."

Green eyes twinkled. "Will you really?"

"Never mind. Come on Clarion, tell me about Magnus's sword."

Clarion blew out a breath that lifted her bangs and refreshed her drink. "I'll spare you the David Copperfield version because I haven't got the patience nor do I remember all the details."

"Just get on with it." Yoshi flicked a droplet of Cognac at Clarion.

Green eyes bored into blue with an amused disbelief. "Hey that's rare stuff." Yoshi just rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue. "Do that one more time and this information session will have to wait." Yoshi held Clarion's gaze for a moment until she conceded defeat with a slight bowing of her head.

Clarion ran both her hands through her hair and then picked up her glass. "Now I don't know if you heard a different story about Magnus, but the one I heard is this huge epic about a full grown man being berthed by the sea." Yoshi nodded. "So whatever, he makes this kick ass sword and lives his life only to one day have to face down the very first Master. The way it was explained in the text, when Magnus was created, it was with the purity of angels or some such crap. But in all things the opposite took place as well, thus Pilas was too created. Pilas was pure as well, but he was evil."

Yoshi had stopped sipping from her glass and turned her full attention the woman next to her as she followed the words of the story like she had never heard them before. In truth, she knew the story inside and out, but as the words fell from Clarion's lips, the dark woman found herself closing her eyes and watching the pictures that her words made play out before her.

"As the story goes, they battled for years away from each other, cutting apart each other's legions until finally they had to fight each other. The battle they waged created valleys and cracked the continents and so forth in the way of epic storytelling. Regardless of all the that, it came down to two simultaneous blows. Blades that had clashed against one another and created sparks so bright that they illuminated the sky, plunged into torsos of both men. It was Pilas who first collapsed to the ground, dissolving into the earth. Magnus withdrew his own blade from his body, that had ripped through his chest and stared at the swirling pattern of blood that was his blood mixed with Pilas. Magnus only sighed at his possible fate of becoming like Pilas and wished for death as he walked to the waters edge. There he held his blade at his side and descended into the waters from which he came, letting it wash over him and swallow him whole. Supposedly Magnus never died, but he submitted his essence and body to waters and it is out of that water that every Hunter is formed in some way, shape, or form."

Clarion finished her narrative and smiled with warmth and immense love for the woman at her side, who sat with her eyes closed. Clarion did not need to wonder at what Yoshi was imagining behind her eyes. With a smile she reached out towards Yoshi and pushed away wayward tendrils of blue-black hair that had no intention of staying behind her ear. Yoshi still kept her eyes closed as she leaned into Clarion's touch and allowed her to caress her cheek. "You okay in there Samurai?"

Blue eyes opened and met Clarion's gaze. She removed Clarion's hand from her cheek after kissing the palm and held onto it as she answered. "You know if they would have told us the story like that in school I might not have failed those tests."

The room filled with the warmth of Clarion's laugh and Yoshi joined her. A squeeze to Yoshi's hand caught her attention and she found herself caught in the vortex of Clarion's heated green gaze. "Kiss me?" The statement came out as a question.

Yoshi gave her a lopsided grin. "Only if you finish the story."

"I'll give you the details." Both women smiled and leaned over the arms of the chairs to meet each other in the middle. The pace at which they began the kiss could almost be considered hesitant, but it seemed that the women knew very well where it would lead to if they threw caution out of the window. It was Clarion that pulled away first, taking in that much needed breath of air. She stayed focused on hazy blue eyes as she traced a finger down Yoshi's jaw. "You really do love me don't you?" It was an odd thing to ask at the moment, but Clarion felt the need reassure herself.

Yoshi ducked her head in a moment of embarrassment, but she did managed to nod a the grinning redhead and hold her gaze once again. "I do." She blinked slowly and looked down at their hands before the whisper of her voice broke the comfortable quiet. "D-Do--

Clarion finished her thought with a wide smile and a nod of her head a second before she leaned in and proceeded to show Yoshi what she couldn't find the voice to say. It was only the betrayal of their lungs that prompted the women to part from one another.

Yoshi licked at her lips that still lingered with the taste of Clarion and Cognac. With a deep husk enveloping her normal alto she said, "can we do naked time now."

Clarion nuzzled her nose against Yoshi's cheek as she burst into laughter. Innocent blue eyes looked at the laughing Clarion. "I thought you wanted me to spill the beans?"

"Is the story going to change in hour or so?"

Clarion wiggled her eyebrows. "It hasn't changed in hundred years or so, so I know it won't." Yoshi leaned in happily towards Clarion only to be stopped with a hand to her chest. "But!" Clarion removed her hand when it seemed Yoshi was going to stay put. ", If we don't get through this I may never make it, so suck it up and I'll try to make this fast." With more thought than she cared to admit, Yoshi let her bottom lip poke out. Clarion just shook her head. "Put that lip away and just get comfy so I can finish this please."

Yoshi frowned slightly and then held out her glass for a refill. "So tell me how you got the sword."

Clarion chuckled as she thought on how she had ended up with the sword. "I was getting there." She grinned at Yoshi and took a healthy swig out of her glass. "It's really quite odd how I found this sword, or really how it found me, and I mean that. The first time I came across the sword was in 1814. I had hitched a ride on a boat leaving France headed to the New World." Clarion wiggled her eyebrows mischievously. "Yes, I was stowed away, but that was only because my real reason for being on the ship was in the cargo hold. Some or Earl or Duke or whatever had a really nice collection of paintings and a few jewels that caught my eye when I saw them on his wife." Green eyes glazed over at the memory. "I decided that I should have a matching set."

Yoshi coughed. "She gave them to you I'm sure."

"She just couldn't bear for me to leave without having a little something of her." She looked at Yoshi knowingly. "Anyway, I was in the hull looking at what I was going to take and I fell over this long wooden case. The case itself was probably worth a lot by itself and actually looked like it would make a good carrying case, so I opened it. As soon as I opened it, I slammed the case closed on account of how bright the blade was. I mean there was no sun for it too catch, but apparently this thing had been shined to a glaze. I eventually eased it back open and at the time I was getting into this weaponry kick so I figured I'd take it too. I touched the blade and lost fingerprints due to the searing heat it emitted."

"Yes, I was scared out my mind and also doing my best not to howl out in pain at my singed flesh. I remember reading some of the etchings on the blade and while the words looked a little familiar I hadn't translated enough of the Aramis books to know what they hell it said, so I closed the case back and decided to leave it be. Three months later, I'm out in California swindling some fat cat s.o.b. for his gold and come to find out he's sitting on a shitload of literature, and not your classics of the day. I remember wondering for a brief moment if this guy wasn't who I thought he was, but when I saw how the two tomes were wedged in between the dime stories and dirty letters, I figured this guy didn't know what they hell he had. Needless to say, I took off with the gold and the two books.

"I hopped another boat across the Atlantic, and yes this time I paid." She grinned at Yoshi and continued. "I did a lot of reading and that's where I learned about Magnus and Pilas and all about the sword. Suddenly, I realized that the reason why the blade burned and all, was because it belonged to a Hunter. Unbeknownst to the gentlemen in question, I had befriended a couple of Hunters and we got into this animated and drunken conversation about Magnus and Hunters." Blue eyes grew large. "Go ahead and ask?"

"Colin?" Clarion shook her head. "A guy named Hamish?"

"Nah. Actually some dude name Sergei."

Yoshi nodded her head in understanding. "Ahh yes, Golgo. He didn't last very long I'm afraid."

"Yeah well, he had a tendency not to pay attention to his surroundings a lot and he was cocky."

"That he was."

"I went with him to Russia and lost him somewhere in Siberia." She waved a hand through the air. "Two months later I'm standing in the grand ballroom of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, charming the pants of Alexander I, so I can go take a walk through the palace." Clarion touched a hand to her chest as she spoke. "Now, I assure you I had no intention of stealing anything, because honestly, the corset I was wearing was too tight for me to even breathe let alone slide anything up under it." Yoshi smiled and Clarion chuckled. "I wandered into what I thought was his library but it turned out to be this magnificent armory. I remembering being awed by all the swords and armor and weaponry, when my eye caught the impossibly bright glint of steel. The damn thing was in the middle of the room on a pedestal and it was absolutely magnificent. I forgot that this was Magnus's sword and thought of it as just simply a masterpiece….that I had to have."

Green eyes twinkled at the memory and Clarion just let out a small breath. "Needless to say, it took a little work, but security was nothing in those days and I had a few tricks up my sleeve, but I got the sword. I caught the next boat back to Louisiana dropped the thing off and it's been sitting in the library ever since then."

Yoshi ran a hand through her hair as the story settled. "So, when did you find out what its purpose was?"

Clarion shrugged. "Well the more I read, the more it became obvious, and yeah it became obvious to me that I personally figured into everything."

Yoshi grimaced and then found her words. "Don't take this the wrong way, but how come you didn't do anything about it. I mean you knew what the sword meant and you knew what your role was, so why not stop the master before he got started."

Clarion guffawed. "Now be honest Yoshi, but when's the last time you put stock into anything you were taught in Athens?" The dark woman could only furrow her brow in lieu of an answer. "Yeah, that's what I thought. But the difference is, at one point you cared and maybe that makes you better person than me, because you lost your way and all. But the truth is, I never gave a rat's ass about all that prophecy and ritual crap." Yoshi's furrowed brow became a deep scowl as she regarded Clarion. Clarion nodded as she sensed Yoshi's disapproval. "I know, I know I'm an asshole but I've worked for more than 200 hundred years to get this way."

Clarion sat forward in her chair and locked eyes with Yoshi. "I'm not going to lie to you, I'm a thief Yoshi. Always have been, probably always will be in some respect. I'm selfish and yes I'm a big kid." Yoshi couldn't help but smirk as she remembered her conversation with Mama D. Clarion smiled, immediately knowing why Yoshi grinned. "I know she told you that and it's true. I do not profess to be a saint and I have never had the desire to be one. I like what I do, I like what I've done with my life, and I'm not ashamed of a thing. A few regrets maybe, but for the most part I've done my best to enjoy my life and I won't apologize for that."

Yoshi eased the tension in her face. "I'm not asking you to."

"Good, I'm glad." Clarion gave Yoshi a small smile. "At the turn of the 20th century I was very well aware of how important I was or am. I threw myself into reading and research. I wanted to at least know the signs and know what to look out for, in case I needed to be prepared. Every time I felt like I was ready to make a breakthrough and go seek out whomever I was supposed to find, I got caught up with life." Clarion raised her hands in the air and sighed wistfully. "I mean there were the twenties, and there was Harlem and there was Europe, the birth of jazz and the end of World War I. I was riding shotgun with gangsters and spending my nights listening to Bessie Smith." Clarion shook her head lost in her own memories barely registering the wide smile of remembrance that was plastered on Yoshi's face.

"I went back to living as a man and joined the war." She only grinned as Yoshi arched a sculpted eyebrow. "I spent the fifties over-seas and thought I was going to have some down time and then before I knew it, it was 1961 and I was hitchhiking to the West Coast from the East Coast and back. I was insane back then and loving every minute. Before I knew it, flower power was gone, disco was dead, the ME era was over, and I still looked young enough to be considered a part of Generation-X. What can I say…saving the world slipped my mind." Clarion gave Yoshi a weak smile, that became a larger one as the quiet woman leaned over the arm of her chair and kissed her forehead.

"I almost wished you would have found me sooner."

Clarion's breath hitched as the sentiment of Yoshi's words pounded into her chest. She ran a small hand down Yoshi's cheek. "Baby, I'm not going any where."

Yoshi pressed her lips into Clarion's palm and they sat quietly for a small while simply appreciating each other's presence. It was Yoshi's voice that broke the stillness. "Are you really willing to do this Clarion?"

Clarion combed her fingers through Yoshi's hair and grinned. "Disregarding the fact that I no longer seem to have a choice in the matter, I'm not resigned to losing you over something I can possibly stop. At heart, it's really quite selfish so I'm still being true to form." She gave Yoshi a cheesy smile that made the dark woman laugh. "Seriously though, I've put this off and look where it's gotten me. All though if you take into consideration that I'm hopelessly in love with an Amazon goddess who makes my toes curl up when she looks at me--I think I managed to luck out."

Yoshi just laughed. Once she quieted, warm blues eyes met with grin that were beginning to darken with desire. "You think you can teach me how to be selfish?"

With a giggle Clarion left her seat and sat down in Yoshi's lap. "Mon dour, selfish is my middle name."

"I thought it was Giselle?"

"Oh yeah, but in between Giselle and Olathe is Selfish." Clarion glowed with mirth. "You sure you can handle this Samurai?"

Clarion's voice teased at Yoshi's insides like it was her tongue. The tall woman stood up with Clarion in her arms. "Am I doing okay?" Clarion's warm lips on her neck were answer enough. "Slow down there or I might not make it to the bed."

"I could live with that."

Yoshi chuckled as she walked down the corridor. "Can I ask you one favor?"

Clarion removed her lips from Yoshi's neck and pursed her lips. "No I will not play farmer and the milk maid."

Yoshi almost dropped her package as she laughed. "No, goober, I want to give Colin a call."

Clarion sighed. "Must you always think of Colin when we're about to do the naked tango?"

Yoshi made a sour face as she entered the bedroom. "I promise you I do my best not to think of Colin…seeing as how I've buried those memories some…" Yoshi was cut off by a swat to her shoulder.

"Eww, please don't tell me you and Colin did the forbidden dance?"

Blue eyes looked to the ceiling and full lips creased into a grin "As long as you don't ask then I won't tell."

Clarion squirmed in the strong arms that held her. "You don't ever have to tell me that story."

"So, you can seduce rich women and tell me about it, but I can't talk about a friendly experience?"

Clarion covered her ears and waited until Yoshi stopped talking. "I just assume you were a virgin until you met me."

Yoshi let out a healthy laugh as she dropped Clarion onto the bed a little harder than she intended. "I'm sorry, but uh, that was too funny. I hate to say this Larieux but you're doing a lot of wishful thinking."

Clarion stuck out her tongue at the smiling woman. "Perhaps, but I did mention that I was extremely selfish and that does extend to you."

Yoshi leaned down onto the bed and gave Clarion a soft kiss. "How about you let me make this phone call and then we can take turns seeing who makes a better virgin."

Clarion's eyebrows raised high and green eyes burned anew with desire. "You got five minutes chick."

Yoshi nipped at Clarion's nose. "I'll make it two minutes."

"Is that enough time?" Clarion was genuinely curious.

Yoshi shrugged as she stood in the doorway. "Colin was always pretty quick." She wiggled her eyebrows as Clarion collapsed onto the bed in a fit of laughter and then disappeared into the corridor in search of the phone.

Clarion had barely gotten comfortable under the covers when she heard Yoshi bellowing down the hallway. "Don't you fucking get mad at me! How the hell was I supposed to know!" Clarion was out of the bed and down the tunnel towards the den in a matter of seconds. Her dark lover was all shadows and anger as she yelled into the cell phone. Without hesitation Clarion found a small opening in her wandering arms and snatched the phone from Yoshi's hand.

She twirled away from the stunned Hunter and plopped down on the sofa. "Well hey there sugar, long time no hear from." She was as chipper as morning sunshine.

Colin clipped off his rant when he realized who it was. "H-hey, hey! It's the wee fireball, how are you girl?"

"Quite fine, but having trouble sleeping on account of all this yelling." She stood up as she saw a still scowling Yoshi standing in front of her with her hands on her hips breathing hard. Clarion bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Oh you should see her Colin, she's all huffy and puffy and red…and so cute!" She poked at Yoshi's side, causing the taller woman to flinch and eventually smirk. Clarion found herself getting a little carried away as her jabs became caresses and both of them let out small growls. Colin cleared his throat. "Oh, sorry anyway." She chuckled. "If I give her back the phone do you two think you could talk in a civilized manner." They both grunted and Clarion handed the phone back to the grinning woman.

Yoshi allowed Clarion to push her down into a seat, where the red head proceeded to sit down in her lap. Yoshi wrapped her arm around Clarion and rested her hand on the firm thigh. "Okay Colin, we're listening." She adjusted the phone so that the speaker faced out between them.

Colin took a breath. "So like I was saying, they're all gone, the lot of them, vanished." His cadence was metered and clinical.

Yoshi mimicked his tone as she spoke. "I got that. Now who are they and what's the problem?"

His voice was natural now. "Problem is that from the tips of Canada to the Great Barrier reef the Vampires are clearing out." He didn't wait for Yoshi to respond. "I've talked to Hamish, to Zibu, Chandler-- all of them. Aside from a few scrappers, the dens are empty and they're on the move."

"What!" Clarion managed to get up before Yoshi displaced her as the tall woman shot out of the chair. Clarion had heard exactly what Colin said and had no clue what to say or do except wait and watch. "What the hell do you mean gone!"

"Like ghost."

Yoshi sighed and ruffled her hair in desperation. "Okay, okay. Uh, uh…" Wide blue eyes met concerned green and Yoshi held out her hand. Clarion took the hand and they both sat down on the couch, not releasing their hands. "Tell me what you know."

Colin laughed. "Not much of anything, really. I mean after you left, I figured Clarion had gotten away and you ran off to nurse your wounds, so I wasn't worried. I went home just to say hello and places were deserted. It was unreal. It was like after the Exodus, only this time it was them cleared out."

Yoshi sighed and pressed her fingertips into her temple. She readjusted the phone and then spoke. "Do we know how long?"

"No. I've got the boys working and Gregor and everybody else as well, but nobody's really sure. All though, I'm one to believe that this has been happening for a while."

"Out of the loop again are we?"

"Let's be honest Yosh, we've been out of the loop for some time now, things are just coming to head."

"I know, I know. What's next?"

"Well, we all need to meet, but I know we couldn't do that without locating you. Other than that, we need to figure out what we're looking for. Do you think Clarion knows?"

Yoshi turned to Clarion and shrugged. "Ask her?"

Clarion took the phone in her free hand. "Talk to me."

"Do you know any reason why the Vamps would gather?"

"All of them you say?"


"The only thing I ever read about involved me. I mean, I know there used to be festivals and gathering times of the year, but nothing specific."

"Something about the millenium maybe? Some holidays we don't know about?"

"Feast of Aramis is in March around All Souls Day. Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday and the Holy week thing leading into Easter."

"This isn't a gathering for the bunny hop."

Clarion chuckled uneasily. "Um, I think it's Jubilee though, maybe that."

"Jubilee? Jubilee? Sounds familiar what is it?"

"Well my Catholicism is rusty, but I think this year is like the Jubilee year."

"What's it mean?"

"Man, I can't remember the Ten Commandments that well, even considering I've broken them all, but I'm afraid I've no clue, but I can find out."

"Do you think he's found another way?"

"To become Master you mean?"


Clarion sighed and looked at Yoshi who was in deep thought. "I can't imagine how or what he would need for it, all though I might have a way of finding out."

"Good, good. We're over here reading till our eyeballs start bleeding." He chuckled. "Let me talk to my fearless leader." His tone was light.

Yoshi's voice was dry. "I'll want you all here."

"That's cool, but look this line is crap and I'm on my way to the airport to get to Athens. Meeting Porthos in the library. I'll call from the air and you tell me where you are and I'll be there."

Yoshi nodded. "Done. Blessings to you Hunter."

Colin sighed. "Aye, so it's come back down to that."

"I fear the worst here."

"As do I." He paused and cleared his throat. "Blessings to you and yours and I pray that Khoikhoi kisses us all tonight."

Yoshi hung up the phone and regripped Clarion's hand as she laid her head down in the small woman's lap. Clarion took her free hand and drew her fingers through the sable locks fanned out across her thighs. Yoshi took a deep breath and breathed in the woman she loved, the good and the bad, and surprisingly she felt warm and calm. "Clarion?" She whispered.

Clarion removed her fingers from Yoshi's hair and made the woman sit up as she stood from the couch. "We won't talk about it tonight." As much as Clarion's words were a command they were a request for trust. As much as Yoshi saw desire behind green eyes she saw the need to surrender in this moment. Normally she would have flogged herself into submission with searching for blame and strategizing, but as she took hold of the small hand held out to her, she knew that now was not the time. Once again, Yoshima found herself sloughing off her hard exterior in exchange for the warm cover of light that was Clarion.

* * *


Part 4

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