CH 8: Dysfunctional families 101

Green eyes rimmed with an iridescent red, opened with a snap as Clarion awoke. She squeezed her eyes shut tight and opened them slowly as she slowed her breathing. She turned her head to the right slightly and came face to face with the relaxed features of Yoshi's face. She couldn't help but grin as she began to ease herself out of the Hunter's embrace. With less lifting of Yoshi's arm and more sliding on Clarion's part, she managed to extract herself from beneath Yoshi without so much as a grunt of protest from the still slumbering woman. Clarion, wrapped in one of the sheets that had been torn from the bed in the heat of their frenzied love making, walked to the corner of the room. Upon which, she just stood, letting her eyes adjust to the dim light of burning candles and watched the rise and fall of Yoshi's chest.

It was not a fluke of Clarion's internal clock that awoke her or even some spastic nightmare, but it was an urge. It was not the urge of hunger pains or even the urge to relieve herself, but like several nights before it was an urge that she cursed. Clarion wrapped her arms about herself and squeezed as she let out a deep breath. She let her head loll back as she felt the familiar tingle in her teeth. Clarion was beginning to sweat as she fought hard not to grimace at the small cramps gathering in her stomach. She drew her eyes up and down the tall frame of Yoshi's body and she felt her knees grow weak as she could hear her lover's steady pulse fill her ears. Clarion bit back a growl of frustration and left the room in a flurry of motion. After a pit stop at the bar Clarion made her way through the tunnels to the shower.

The shower was actually a large room that served as a sauna when she turned on all the heads and let the tiled room fill with steam. When she had first put this place together the large shower room seemed practical because her home often served as a haven for wayward vampires, demons, and the other undesirables that often found themselves on the run. Clarion dropped the sheet onto a tiled bench and walked to the right wall where she turned on three of the shower heads. She stood under the spray of the middle one and braced her arms against the wall, as she let the near scalding water rush down her back. The redhead shook her head in disbelief and discomfort at her actions. She was confused by the messages her body was sending her--seeing how it was no where near time for her to feed. And in truth she knew it had nothing to do with feeding and everything to do with feasting. Clarion knew she had the tendency to be a dilettante, a spoiled brat, and even a hedonist, but unlike everything else in her life, she had never fed for pleasure.

The thought of draining the life out of a human just to watch the calm of death overtake their frantic eyes was repulsive to her. She had had her fill of the Vampires who thought themselves superior to humans and only looked to them as chattel. It wasn't that they didn't accept her into their world; she just wanted no part of it. She shook her head as she pushed back from the wall and let the heated water race down her upturned face. She rested her hands on her neck as she felt the urge began to subside. She was sure her eyes were back to normal and the tingle in her teeth was gone. She touched her tongue to her upper canines just to make sure that they had not lengthened. She let out a sigh as she smoothed back her hair. She was unsure of why she was having the urge to bite the Hunter, but the yen was becoming monstrous as the days went on.

At first it had just started as a small pinprick in her mind when they would wrap themselves around each other in a warm embrace meant for nothing other than comfort or even a hello. Clarion would stand on her tiptoes and bury her head in Yoshi's neck causing the taller woman to giggle at the sensation of Clarion's hair tickling her throat. As the days passed Clarion found herself drawn to Yoshi if only to hear her the strong rhythm of her heart. She could close her eyes and follow the flow of blood through the woman's body. That was how she hunted. Latching on to the sound of a steady heartbeat and following it, only to stop the sound. But now Clarion often found herself wrestling her instincts when she and Yoshi were in the most intimate of embraces.

Earlier in the night, she had found herself straddling the prone form of her lover as she lay on her stomach, drawing her blunt nails up and down the sculpted expanse of Yoshi's back, leaving paths in the sticky sweet sweat. Clarion stretched, molding herself to Yoshi's back, brandishing the strong shoulders with her kisses. Neither one cared who started it first, but they easily matched the movement of their hips. Their fingers entwined as Yoshi clutched the remaining sheet and they moved together at a feverish pace as a shared climax began to overtake them both. And there, at the height of their orgasm, Clarion felt the pull--she felt the urge. The rapid beating of Yoshi's jugular vein was all Clarion could see or hear. The vein itself was mere millimeters from her lips and it was all she could do not to give into the want to sink her teeth into the strong neck beneath her. When Clarion's orgasm tore through her body she screamed not in elation to the release, but at the horror of her impulses. Clarion didn't know if Yoshi understood her shivering as just being spent, but she feigned sleep anyway just to avoid Yoshi's inevitable questions of concern.

Clarion held back the tears that wanted to come as she turned off the water and stood in the steam that had enveloped her. She dragged her small hands down her face and sighed. "Ugh, I need to see Razelle." She spoke the words out loud.

"Is she the only person that can join this little party?"

Clarion jumped at the sound of Yoshi's voice, but was all smiles when she turned to the very naked woman who had entered. "Trust me, Razelle is not invited." Clarion chuckled. "I thought you were sleeping?"

Yoshi shrugged. "Soundly. And then I sensed this absence, woke up, and decided to limp around until I found you." She wiggled her eyebrows. "You okay?"

Clarion nodded as she moved towards Yoshi. "I'm cool. I just wanted a steam, I think." Clarion grinned. "And why are you limping?"

Yoshi smiled fully. "You shouldn't have to ask, since it's your fault."

Clarion touched a hand to her chest. "Why little ol' me." She batted her eyelashes and both women laughed. "Hobble yourself over here and we'll get some nice hot water on those legs."

Yoshi gladly walked to Clarion's outstretched hand. "I guess a massage is out of the question?" Clarion laughed as she turned on the shower and walked to the bench. "Hey, if you don't care about the use of your legs then I'll give you a massage." Clarion raised her eyebrows suggestively.

Yoshi shook her head and laughed. "I think I may move to the other side of the room, it's getting kind of dangerous over here."

Clarion just smiled. "I'll leave you be Samurai, we need some towels anyway." Yoshi just nodded as Clarion turned and left the room. Clarion shook her head as she tried to erase the image of Yoshi's tall bronzed frame underneath the spray of the shower head. One hand in her ink black hair and the other just at the base of her throat as she let the water sluice down her body. Any other time Clarion would have just thrown the taller woman to the floor and ravaged her right there, but at the rate she was going she was becoming afraid that deep in the throes of passion blue eyes would search her out and find a neon green-eyed fanged monster hovering over her. Clarion groaned and hoped a quick shot of Cognac and fixing a massive brunch would keep them occupied long enough to get them out of the house. It was going to be a long day and she could feel it.


Yoshi kept her eyes shut tight as she emerged from the underground home. She fished for her sunglasses and only opened her eyes when the dark glasses were firmly in place. Clarion stood with her hands on her hips and a faint grin on her face as she watched the tall woman get herself together. "You sure you're not a Vampire?" Yoshi looked up with raised eyebrows at the grinning red head and smiled.

"I've been in a hole for two days in the dark, I was beginning to forget what the outside world looked like." Yoshi flailed her arms out as if she were a blind man searching for a wall. Clarion snorted in amusement and started walking towards the house to the car. "So where are we headed?" Yoshi caught up to the smaller woman in two quick strides.

Clarion looped her arm through Yoshi's. "Going to see Razelle."

"An old friend?"

Clarion shrugged as they reached the car. "When she wants to be." Yoshi only raised her brow in comment, but she gave a pat to the dagger in the small of her back as she got in the car.

The comfortable silence of ten minutes that they had been driving in was broken as Clarion stopped the car at the gated entrance of graveyard. Yoshi sighed. "Do you all just like to live in mausoleums and crypts?"

Clarion giggled as they exited the car. "No." She rolled her eyes playfully at Yoshi as they stepped through the wide bars of the gate. "Razelle lives in a house on the other side. I just felt like walking through here." Green eyes regarded Yoshi seriously. "That okay?"

Yoshi stopped walking and regarded Clarion just as seriously with bowed her head. "I'm at your beck and call."

Clarion's cheeks rose in a smile as her face flushed red. She bumped Yoshi with her hip and grabbed the taller woman's hand as they started walking. "Anyway, it's beautiful here." She swung out her free arm to encompass the landscape. Yoshi nodded. It was a beautiful graveyard. The high water levels of Louisiana prompted the majority of burials to be above ground, so the headstones and crypts were usually a testament to a person's life. "We'll have to go back to New Orleans and I'll take you to the graveyards there." Yoshi just nodded as she took in the angelic sculptures and polished columns that adorned several tombs.

They made their way through the graveyard at a leisurely pace with Clarion stopping every so often to point out interesting things. "That guy there…had no concept of hygiene."

Yoshi laughed as she read the tombstone. "He was born in 1760 what do you expect."

"A bath, god!" Both women laughed and kept walking. "Now she….she was a cutie."

Yoshi gave Clarion a small growl as she read the tombstone. "Vallaria. Hmm."


"Isn't that a disease…she was all deformed wasn't she?"

Clarion chuckled and swatted Yoshi in the stomach. "She was not deformed." Clarion sucked her teeth and arched an eyebrow as she stared at nothing in particular. "In fact, she was pretty well formed." Clarion clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth and smirked at the memory.

Yoshi removed her hand from Clarion's as she regarded the still smirking red head. "You're going to talk about some other woman and hold my hand?" As hurt as she sounded her voice held just the right hint of amusement.

Clarion stuck out her bottom lip slightly and turned big green eyes on the scowling woman. "Did I hurt your little feelings?" Clarion was about to finish teasing the taller woman when she found her lips captured between Yoshi's forefinger and thumb. Green eyes were wide in surprise.

Yoshi glared at Clarion wickedly. "I'll snatch them off." Clarion tried to talk but she could barely pucker her lips. Yoshi gave in when she thought green eyes were about to tear up. "You gonna behave?" Clarion nodded and Yoshi released her lips.

Clarion licked her lips. "And that girl over there, man…she had breasts…oh wow!" Yoshi stopped and smiled as she watched Clarion weave her way past tombs. "And that guy. He was hung like an elephant." Yoshi burst into laughter and Clarion stopped. "What?" She asked innocently.

"Why would you want to have sex with a guy that was hung like an elephant?"

Clarion shrugged. "It seemed like the thing to do." She stuck out her tongue and Yoshi rumbled with laughter as she caught up to the smaller woman.

"Should I even ask what you've been doing for the last 200 years."

Clarion rolled her eyes. "Oh you know," she waved a hand through the air, "a little thievery, some debauchery…deflowering young virgins." She wiggled her eyebrows.

Yoshi was all smiles. "So do I get a prize if I get to pick out one of your mysterious lovers?"

"I'll give you a prize anyway."

"Aww, but I wanted to guess."

"C'mon you big baby." Clarion held out her hand. "Besides, other than the one girl the rest are just some people I knew."

"So the woman with the big breasts doesn't exist."

"I wouldn't say that."

Yoshi just shook her head as she caught a glimpse of the sly grin that Clarion wore. "Okay tour guide anything else of interest?"

"Yup." Clarion made no attempt to say anything more until they walked a few feet and stopped. She looked down at the raised tombs. "Yoshima, meet my family."

Blue eyes cut towards the woman to her side and then down at the tombs. "But those say nineteen ninety- She trailed off as Clarion nodded. "Are they the reason why you left here?" Yoshi drew her eyes across the six tombstones. Clarion sighed a bit as she squatted down, still holding onto Yoshi's hand. She cleared a couple of weeds and ran her hand across the name on the tombstone in front of her. ‘Lucien Pough‘ She sighed and stood.

Yoshi understood that sometimes silence was the best comfort you could offer, so she remained so, only giving a light squeeze to Clarions small fingers. Clarion smiled weakly and regripped Yoshi's larger hand so that their fingers overlap "Come on let's walk."

"You want to talk about it?" Clarion turned to look at Yoshi. "You don't have to." She added quickly.

"It's okay and honestly you should know." Blue eyes looked to green and asked the unspoken question. "I took my brother's life."

Yoshi didn't flinch she only held to Clarion tighter. "Lucien?"



"He told me to" was her glib answer. Yoshi couldn't help raising her brow. Clarion smiled. "Yes there's a better explanation. Don't worry though, I've come to terms with his death…really I have." She grinned. "It was the lesser of two evils and the greater good and all that crap, but I'm okay with it."

The Hunter regarded her young lover with a serious eye, and could only find truth in her words. "What about the rest of them?"

Even without excellent hearing and keen eyesight, it was evident that Clarion tensed. Her back was to Yoshi as she answered but Yoshi did not need to see her face to know that she fought tears and anger. "There is nothing that can make that ache go away."

Yoshi breathed deeply as she drew Clarion's hand to her lips for a brief kiss. They remained silent as they exited the graveyard onto a small dirt road. Yoshi itched to know the rest of the story and she knew Clarion wanted to tell her, but since the business of the day was a welcome reprieve from painful memories--they moved on.


The Hunter ducked her head as she entered the foyer of Razelle's home, passing through the beaded curtain. Yoshi arched a brow at Clarion as they walked into the home and the smaller woman just shrugged. Yoshi's obvious skepticism was plain as day and embedded in her features, but even Clarion couldn't blame her. After all, Razelle's home reminded her of every other stereotypical curio shop that touted of a prognosticator's power--sucking in the tourist. Yoshi was about to make some comment about the kitsch tapestries hanging on the back wall when Clarion stopped walking.

"You have to stay here." Yoshi's response to Clarion was a raised eyebrow. Clarion rolled her eyes and gave the taller woman a kiss on the cheek. "I know what it looks like in here, but I promise you, Razelle is the real thing. And the real thing isn't too partial to Hunters."

Yoshi sucked her teeth silently. "What ever did I do?" She wasn't serious about her question and Clarion knew it as well.

"Don't be funny. Look, I'll be back in about ten minutes or so. I just need some information and then we can leave, okay?" Yoshi nodded and put her hands in her pockets as she took in the provincial décor. "You behave." Clarion wagged a finger at the dark woman, who was failing miserably at looking innocent. Clarion smiled fully and Yoshi shooed her off with a wave of a hand. The Hunter let out a quiet chuckle as Clarion blew her a kiss and disappeared around the corner.

Razelle was seated in her high backed chair smoking on a pipe like she had been waiting on Clarion for days. She was comfortable but she was clearly annoyed. Razelle was the epitome of a Creole woman. From far away she was fair enough to pass for white, but up close the flare of her nostrils and the fullness of her lips gave way to the African in her blood. She wore her sandy brown hair in dreadlocks that were concealed beneath the colorful scarf she wore on her head. Razelle cracked her knuckles with the flexing of her hand as she eyed Clarion.

"Larieux! To what do I owe the displeasure." Her Cajun accent was heavy and almost indiscernible at times, but Clarion had dealt with the old woman for too long not to understand her. Clarion just nodded at the jab and took a seat at the small table. Razelle chuckled at the red heads gumption. "What ya' want naw'?"

Clarion gave the old woman the sincerest smile she could muster. She would have loved to reach across the table and ring the old lady's neck, but dealing with Razelle and women like her had a certain protocol that Clarion knew she had to adhere to. "I need your help Razelle."

"Course you do?" She paused as she eyed the woman warily. "Maybe I no help you, demon."

"Come now, Razelle. I'm no more a demon than you are witch."

Razelle grinned and steeled her watery brown eyes. "I thought you was a witch."

Clarion shrugged. "And fuzzy wuzzy was a woman, what's your point?"

Razelle sat up straight and slapped her palm down on the table. "You g'wan make fun now? You can leave, demon, I got no time for your games."

Clarion avoided eye contact with Razelle out of respect and held up her hands. "I apologize. Really, I do need your help." She raised her eyes so that she met Razelle's glare.

Razelle snorted and smoked on her pipe. "You trust the Hunter?"

Clarion couldn't help but hesitate as the question surprised her. "W-well yeah."

Razelle chuckled and leaned back in her chair, so that the front two legs raised off the floor. "You want to change your answer girl?"

Clarion wanted to roll her eyes, but she stifled the urge and just inhaled deeply. "I do trust her Razelle."

"She trust you?"

Clarion sighed. This was not what she was here for, regardless of how legitimate the questions were, they could be dealt with later. However, she couldn't help but answer honestly. "She trusts me enough."

Razelle sat forward, obviously intrigued with Clarion's candor. "It's going to take more than ‘enough' to get you through this."

Blonde eyebrows reached for the ceiling. "What's that supposed to mean?" Razelle just shrugged and grinned. Clarion leaned forward on the table, doing her best to curb her anger. "Razelle?"

The old woman laughed. "Oh calm down child. Is that the question you come here to ask?"

Clarion shook her head. "I'm beginning to wonder if it should be."

Razelle waved a hand through the air. "I only answer one question. You so worried about who trust who, you need to take that up with the Hunter." Clarion nodded. "So what's it going to be?"

Clarion and Razelle eyed each other for a brief moment and Clarion let out a breath of air, knowing what her decision had to be, regardless of what she was contemplating. "I'm in need of some information." Razelle nodded. "I won't bore you with the background that I'm sure you're aware of, but the point is I need to know, if there is another way for Stolov to become Master."

"Do you think Stolov simply wants to become a Master?"

Clarion shrugged. "That's why he needs me. As Master he is practically unstoppable and on top of that he could create a race at the blink of an eye." Clarion took Razelle's silence as a small conformation. "This is beyond becoming Master isn't it?" Razelle nodded. "Can you tell me what I'm looking for?"

"It's a book and no you don't have it."

Internally, Clarion leapt for joy but she kept her face impassive. "Where can I get it and what's it for?"

"I don't know what it says or what it's called." The woman stopped and Clarion waited for her to finish. When Razelle only bared what remained of her teeth in a crooked smile Clarion rolled her eyes. She chuckled. "Oh calm yourself, demon. How would you like that Hunter to come in here and see you all bright-eyed and snarling. Has she ever seen you?"

Clarion sucked her teeth and knew she should have just gotten up to leave, but she still needed information. "Once, sort of." She mumbled.

Razelle cackled. "You ‘fraid she leave you no, when she see you for what you are." Razelle wagged a crooked finger at Clarion and the red head seriously contemplated swatting it away.

Clarion sighed and calmed herself. "Razelle would you please tell me where to find the book, that's all I ask."

"Word of advice little girl, tell the truth. It'll uh, set you free, so to speak." Her face creased into a near toothless smile.

"Razelle, please."

"I'm serious demon, you tell her the truth or she'll die."

Clarion pushed away from the table and stood. "Razelle I've no time for your half ass superstition and wives tales."

Razelle thumped her fist on the table, causing the deck of tarot cards to shake. "Mon petit demon! This be no magic, fille! C'est la verite. This is the truth. You will find your book in the city near the theatre." Clarion started to turn. "Wait!" Clarion turned reluctantly. "This is not a warning only what I see." Clarion nodded. "Your past waits for you there and if it doesn't kill her, then eventually what you will become will do the job. Don't fight what it is you are, accept it, and she may live."

Clarion just glared. "Merci, vieille femme, merci." Thank you old woman, thank you.

* * *

CH 9: Fere Jacques, (fere jacques) Duerme vous, (Duerme vous)…..

Clarion entered the sitting room wearing what appeared to be the wait of the world on her shoulders. However, she was prompted to curve her downcast lips into a grin as she caught the tall warrior twirling her tanto like a baton. Clarion cleared her throat softly, jolting Yoshi. The Hunter bobbled the weapon but swift hands managed to keep the blade from falling on the floor, but not without a small nick to her finger. Yoshi hadn't meant to hiss, but it was a reflex as she sheathed the long knife and put it in the waistband of her pants.

Clarion looked from the hand that Yoshi was putting in her pocket to the floor and then timidly met blue eyes. "You okay?" she asked quietly.

Yoshi nodded. "Yeah, sure. It's nothing."

" I'spose kissing it and making it feel better is out of the question." Clarion managed to keep her tone light, even though her being filled with dread and guilt.

Yoshi just shrugged and held out her other hand to the redhead. She didn't say a word as she tugged her out of the house. The walked along the street with Yoshi guiding them back the way the came up towards the cemetery. The silence was anything but comfortable, neither woman wanting to acknowledge what had passed between them. Even in all that they had said and done with one another and no matter how much both of them seemed willing to sacrifice for the other--a small chasm lay between them. The Hunter was growing angry at herself for the fear she felt. She knew she loved the woman at her side. She knew it and she felt it as sure as the near thousand year old blood coursing through her veins. However, it did not erase one small fact. In the end, they were still worlds apart. In the end she was still a Hunter and Clarion was still a Vampire.

It seemed as if they were going to walk all the way back to the car in silence until Clarion stopped. Yoshi stopped a moment later as their hands stretched between them. Dark hair swung about her shoulders as she turned around. Green eyes were rimmed with tears and without hesitation, Yoshi closed the gap between them drawing Clarion into a loose embrace. "Tell me."

Clarion chuckled softly as she took a step back an wiped her eyes. "It's silly really." Green eyes met blue that were focused with concern. "Just something Razelle said to me." Clarion answered the unasked questions. "She said if I didn't tell you the truth you'd die."

Yoshi couldn't help but grin. "What haven't you told me?"

Clarion gave a half shrug. "I thought I had divulged all the important and trivial information…except perhaps this." She looked down and Yoshi followed her gaze.

Blue eyes rested on the raised letters of the tomb and nodded. "Lucien." Clarion nodded. "Then tell me."

Clarion held out her arm which Yoshi took and they continued walking. "You know of all the shitty things I've done, this was probably the most horrible, but still the most noble." Understanding blue eyes caught green and Clarion started to talk..

"I had learned a long time ago that enrolling in highschool over and over was definitely a bad thing and not just because some of the teachers never left or the students for that matter," she chuckled, "but it's damn hard to fake aging." She and the Hunter shared a knowing smile. Anyway, I was down in the parish, headed for the local highschool, not to enroll or anything, but they had the best library. The school was run by the Jesuits so they had all these neat books on medieval religion and what not. I would stroll in to school around lunch time, blending right in with the rest of the teenagers and while away the hours in the corner of the library. I did this for about a week until this curly headed boy stopped at the fountain and then followed me out to the parking lot. I was trying to shake him, but he kept waving and smiling at me with the goofiest look." Clarion smiled at the memory.

"Finally I stopped and asked the kid what he wanted. It took everything I had not to laugh at him, because he was a bowl of stutters. I think it took him a full minute to say his name. I extended my hand and saved him the horror of being gentlemanly and asking my name. I winked at him, he just smiled, and before I knew it we were both laughing our heads off. We had this great conversation, that seemed one sided because I was doing most of the talking, but he had a gesture for everything. We met like that for a whole week and finally he asked me why he never saw me in class. For the first time in my life I was stumped for a lie, but he made up one for and suggested that I hadn't quite enrolled seeing as how I was probably living on my own. I wanted to take offense, but then it made sense, so before I knew it, I bought into his story. In five minutes I concocted some story about how I was orphaned, and ran away from shelter and how I was living out in some shack in the bayou."

"He bought it and those big grey eyes of his danced like he had found a new toy. About ten years later, he told me that he always suspected I just lied to appease him and at the time I couldn't deny him, but I certainly didn't tell him the whole truth." She let out a light laugh. "God, Lucien was such an ass, but he had a nice ass."

"I see, I see." Yoshi let out a deep growl.

Clarion shook her head. "Nah, we settled that after that first week. Don't get me wrong Lucien was a looker, hell all the boys were, with the light brown hair, light eyes, strong jaws, and full lips. A roll in the hay would have been great probably, but I knew I needed a friend more than anything…and I got a family instead." The women stopped at the car and sat on the hood. "So, in 1983, I became a freshman…again. Ugh." Green eyes rolled as if irritated, but Clarion smiled at the irony of it all.

"Was it that bad?"

Green eyes opened wide and Clarion shook her head as she giggled. "I take it you had the pleasure of avoiding highschool?"

Yoshi shrugged. "What was the point, life seemed to offer enough schooling."

"That may be so Samurai, but until you steal the quarterback from the head cheerleader you haven't lived. Of course, once you've stolen the head cheerleader from the captain of the basketball team, you're flying high." Clarion smirked devilishly.

"Larieux, you're a cad you know that." Yoshi gave the smaller woman a poke in the side.

"Perhaps, but cad is such an ugly word. I much rather prefer, to be called a connoisseur of women." She waved her hand through the air and smiled. Both women laughed. "But you've got to admit-- I've got good taste."

A dark eyebrow arched. "Without being too vain, I must agree."

They bumped shoulders and smiled. "Anyway, we went to highschool together, to college, and even grad school. I swore to his parents that I had a place to go, but they made me my own special room and everything. When we'd come home for the holidays I stayed there. It was amazing, we were this big family. Papa was Pough and mama was Mama. There was Marquis who was just as arrogant as his namesake, but he was a cutie. Renoir was hypersensitive. It was so bad it was funny. If you stepped on a twig he'd give us a lecture on how we ignored Mother Nature." Her smile grew even larger as she continued to speak, almost oblivious to Yoshi's presence.

"And Pierre. Oh Pierre. That was my boy. He was the baby and he milked it for all it was worth. God, he was adorable. Actually, he kind of reminds me of you." A warm smile was Yoshi's response to the smaller woman. "Thick black hair and these attentive eyes that were so grey they were almost silver." She hummed quietly to herself. "He was beautiful and he went everywhere with me." She paused for a moment and then began again. "I adored the boys and they worshipped me and I thought their parents were gods. I don't know, I felt bad about it a lot, like I was leading them on, but it felt so good to be a part of a family again. Just felt good to know I had somewhere to go." Clarion sighed and ruffled her hair. She turned to Yoshi. "How did you do it?"

The dark woman was surprised at the question. "Do what?"

"Be alone."

Yoshi shrugged and looked at the shadow of her feet on the asphalt. "After a while it was what I wanted…what I needed…what I deserved." Yoshi smiled at the small hand resting on her forearm and glanced up to meet the inviting warmth of Clarion's eyes. "I used to brood a lot." The Hunter's dark comment made both women laugh.

"That's something you'd never do now right?" The sarcasm in Clarion's voice brought on another round of chuckles. "But yeah, it was eleven years of bliss. I mean we had our bad times, but in a family it's okay, ya know. So anyway, about six years ago, me and Lucien were out and about. Drinking and acting crazy and casting little spells." Clarion didn't have to look at Yoshi to see the arched eyebrow. "At some point he got all into witchcraft and stuff after I showed his this neat trick of how to get rid of his stutters. He was pretty good too, he could do glamours and the little fire trick I showed you. Nothing major, but better than your average parlor tricks. Anyhow, we used to go to this clearing by one of the bogs that was about ten miles from the house. The road was crap and it was windy, but they were trying to pave it at a snails pace. He was driving only because he was slightly sober than I, but it probably wouldn't have mattered even if we were both alert and hopped up on expresso.

"A big truck, a dip in the road, and no power steering were more than enough to send us over the embankment after we clipped a tree. I swear we rolled forever." She shivered as a small chill ran through her body. "I don't know how long I was out, but when I woke up I just wanted to pass back out. At first all I could make out was glass and blood. God there was so much blood. I focused myself and looked over to the driver seat. To this day, I have no idea how he was still breathing. I think the only thing holding his head on was the way the seat had jarred forward into the steering wheel. I just started sobbing because I thought he was dead and less at the fact that I was probably going to die. I was losing blood by the pint and I kind of hoped the car caught fire and just exploded before I bled out.

"I remember trying to move, just to assess what was wrong and heard him gurgle. Even in the dark of the car I could see his grey eyes cut towards me. I remember telling him to just take it easy and that I was right there for him. I didn't want him to think he was going to die alone and you know what, he squeezed my hand as hard as he could and told me to "do it." I had no idea what the hell he was talking about and I kept telling him to just be quiet. Finally, he said it to me again, and this time he added, ‘drink.' I looked around like he was insane and then I met his eyes and it dawned on me what he was saying. I started to freak and he just grinned at me. I didn't even have to ask how long he had know, because he whispered out ‘2 years' before Icould even get my mind focused.

"I tried to argue with him, but he looked at me like he was going to strangle me if he had the strength. I told him I couldn't take the risk of turning him into some monster, but he kept urging me. I remember saying to him that I wouldn't take his life, no matter what, and he just looked at me with such hurt. He had never asked me for anything and he gave me everything without question. I convinced myself that it wasn't about saving myself, but just putting him out of his misery." Clarion sighed and cracked the bones in her neck. "I did it and I watched him expire. It was unreal to me then and for a long time after." They sat quietly for a few moments until she continued.

"I got him out of the car and I torched it, so everyone would think I died in the fire. I said my goodbyes to him and ran off. I showed up for the funeral and hung in the background and watched them mourn us both. In all my life I had never felt so alone until right then, because I was the cause of everything. I left Louisiana and just sort of roamed for a couple of months until I got the urge to go home and get my stuff together. I knew I could never explain to the boys what happened, but that didn't stop me from wanting to see them." Clarion huffed and fought the tremble in her voice. "I don't know why I walked up to the house, it wasn't like I was going to go in, but I couldn't seem to stop my feet. In hindsight, I could smell it." Yoshi touched a hand to Clarion's neck as an act of support. The redhead sighed. She closed her eyes to the memory that played like a film reel in her mind. "Maybe if we had lived in some mountain town I could have convinced myself that some wild animal had made its way to the house. Hell even broken out of the zoo, but this animal walked on two legs. God, it was like a feeding frenzy. Savage and rushed and frantic. It was a mess, just a mess." Clarion's voice hitched, but she didn't cry.

"I just left." She shrugged. "There was nothing I could do and I didn't know what to do. Was I supposed to go and kill every vampire I knew? Should I have harassed all the vagrants and deviants? I didn't know then and I don't know now, but it seemed the only thing to do was leave and I did. That was six years ago and this is the only time I've been back."

Yoshi continued to rub the smaller woman's neck as they sat in silence. "We could go some place else."

Watery green eyes looked at the dark woman and Clarion grinned. "Nah pahtna', this is my home. The next time I leave it, if I leave it…will be on my terms. I've been running all my life for one reason or another and I think it's high time I put my feet on the ground. Besides, I got good reason now."

"Oh yeah," the hunter smiled, "what's that, saving the world?"

Clarion grinned. "You." Clarion's grin got wider as Yoshi's cheeks filled with red. "Blushing becomes you." Clarion laughed as Yoshi nervously looked at the ground. Clarion placed her hands on both sides of the dark woman's face and turned her head so that they were face to face. She leaned in and gently kissed the Hunter.

"I'm supposed to say something here aren't I?"

Clarion giggled and kissed the dark woman several times. "Actually I liked the perplexed look you get when you're unsure of what to say."


Clarion burst into laughter as the taller woman made the face in question. "C'mon silly, we got work to do before the sun goes down."

Yoshi allowed Clarion to get off the hood of the car and then pull her to her feet. Clarion tugged on her hand as she started for the car door only to be stopped as Yoshi pulled back. With the least amount of effort, Yoshi pulled the smaller woman to her and without warning or pretense silenced Clarion's unasked question with a deep kiss. A weak kneed Clarion broke away a long moment later when she felt light headed. Yoshi's strong arms held her up as she got her bearings. The red head shook her head and smiled as stood firmly. "You know something Samurai, you've certainly got a way with words."

Yoshi shrugged and hit the smaller woman with an innocent lopsided smirk. "It's in the handbook."

Clarion burst into laughter and guided the taller woman to the car. "All right funny lady, we got shopping to do and a book to find before the sun goes down."

Yoshi slid into the passenger seat and closed the door. "What happens when the sun goes down?"

Clarion started the car and put it in gear as she turned to the woman at her side. "Well Elmer, we're going a' huntin'…and it ain't duck season or rabbit season." They sped off down the road and the dark woman couldn't hide the smirk that came to full lips out of habit.

* * *


Chapter 10 and 11

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