The only one who didn't stay the night was Kelsey. She left after taking the needle out of my arm and checking on Nix. There was plenty of blood in the fridge, she said, and she expected Nix and Cam to feed during the night. She'd be back the next day.
I slept stretched out on the couch, with Nix in the recliner. Cam was in the spare bedroom, and Dayle must have stayed with her, because Kruise kept coming out of the master bedroom to peek in on them. Finally, she took a blanket from the linen closet and curled up on the other end of the couch.
Nix and Kruise and I all awoke about the same time. After a quick peek into the bedroom, we headed for the kitchen. Nix offered to leave the room with her blood, but Kruise shook her head.
"No. It's something I need to get used to. Stay here, Nix."
I helped break and stir eggs for French toast. Kruise turned the griddle on, and pulled the butter out of the fridge.
We were pretty quiet, all just kind of wondering what the day would bring.
Dayle came in several minutes later. She stretched, leaning back to crack her back and wincing at the sound.
"How is she?" Nix had voiced the question we all wanted answered.
Dropping into a seat at the table, Dayle folded her hands. "She's -- here. I mean, she's not talking or anything, but I know she's all here mentally. Physically, she's exhausted, suffering from cuts and bruises and malnutrition. There are a few older wounds that were starting to fester, and we got them cleaned, but it's gonna be a day or two before her body actually starts healing." She smiled up at her partner as Kruise placed a cup of coffee on the table. "Thanks, babe."
Kruise winked and headed back to the griddle.
"How is she emotionally?" I could remember the haunted, empty look in her eyes when she was in Dayle's arms in the car.
The vampire shook her head. "Not good. She's not talking, and she just lays there. I don't know what to do for her, there's just -- I don't know."
Nix nodded. "You realize she needs vampire blood?"
Dayle nodded. "You explained that, but Kels and I figured with all she took from you, she should be okay for now. It makes sense. That she'd need it, I mean."
"Yeah. I just wished we'd figured it out sooner."
"And I wish you had told us sooner." Dayle glared at Nix, then shifted her gaze to me. I went back to flipping sausages in the frying pan.
"It's over, babe. Let it go." Kruise's voice was soft, and she didn't turn around. I could almost swear, though, that she was crying a little.
Dayle must have heard that in her voice as well, and she moved up behind Kruise and slid her arms around her partner. "I know, love." She kissed her girlfriend's cheek, then just stood there, watching as Kruise turned over the French toast.
It was that uneasy silence that Cam walked into. She put her arms around herself and tried not to look at any of us. "I-- um." I saw her throat work as she swallowed. "I smelled food. I -- was hoping --"
I dropped my turning fork and walked over to her. She flinched slightly, but I kept moving, slipping my arms around her and giving her a hug. Moments later, I felt another pair of arms around her, and around me.
"It's okay, Cam. We're both fine. We'll get through this, I promise." The voice in my ear was Nix, and she was speaking softly to the crying woman we both held.
She stepped away for a moment, and then gently took hold of Cam's arms, pulling her and I apart. Nix winked at me, then held out a blood packet to Cam. "Food won't be ready for a few more minutes. Why don't you and I go talk?"
Cam looked a little frightened, but she nodded. Gingerly, she took the packet from Nix and then, with a shy glance at the rest of us, she let Nix guide her back toward the spare room.
My mind compared that image of Cam to the gentle, yet sometimes bold person I'd come to know. The two just didn't mesh, and I shook my head in consternation.
After her talk with Nix, Cam seemed a little better. She joined me on the couch to watch TV while Kruise headed off to work, and Dayle hit the computer in her office. Nix was in the shower, and it was just the two of us.
Neither of us really felt comfortable at first. She kept fidgeting, moving around and flinching at every loud sound. I just kept flipping channels, not sure what to watch. We finally settled on a Xena rerun, and I leaned back to veg for a while.
"Don't say it, Cam. It wasn't your fault. That wasn't you."
Though I was looking at the screen, I could see her out of the corner of my eye, and I saw her head drop down.
"It was me."
"No it wasn't."
"No." I turned fully toward her. "That wasn't you. The Cam I know and love is this person right here in front of me. That -- that -- creature I saw in the basement," I shook my head, "that wasn't you."
Her voice was very soft. "That creature is who I am."
"No, it's not, Cam. It's just what's left from the Nosferatu attack. It's like a piece of wood they stuck in you, and the skin grew over it. Now you can't see it, but every once in a while, the tip will show. It's not really part of you, but it's inside you. That's all."
She looked at me, wide-eyed. "I almost killed you."
I shrugged. "I know. I knew that was a possibility when I went into that building, and when I approached you. My stupidity is to blame, not you."
Her gaze dropped again, and she leaned back against the couch. "I wish I could look at it like that."
"Then do. Look at things from my eyes, and you'll see it." I reached over and took her hand. "This is you, Cam. The real you. And we know, now, how to keep you safe from that creature inside." I shrugged. "Things will be okay."
Cam looked like she was ready to cry, and I gently pulled her to me. She held on to my shirt, her tears soaking into the cloth as my arms wrapped around her. I started humming and rocking her gently, like Jace would do for me after a bad nightmare. Slowly, the soft sobs subsided into sniffles, then stopped altogether.
She turned in my arms and watched the screen with me.
I tensed. She felt it and sat up.
"Jace is fine. Still in L.A. She's staying there permanently."
"Oh." Cam looked surprised. "Are you moving out there to be with her?"
I shook my head. "No. We broke up."
Her eyes widened. "Trey, I'm sorry. I --"
Holding up my hand, I stopped her. "It's okay. You didn't know. You were still here when she left, but you didn't know we'd broken up. It's all right, Cam."
Cam reached out and squeezed my shoulder. "I'm still sorry. I know how much you must be hurting over that."
I shrugged. "I'm dealing."
She nodded, then eased her body next to mine again, cuddling close to me. My arms slid around her, holding her as we both turned our attention back to the television.
A few minutes later I heard a soft snore and I peeked down at her to find she'd fallen asleep.
Deciding it wasn't an uncomfortable position, I leaned back again, focusing on the screen.
Watching the Warrior Princess and Battling Bard kick some ass was just what I needed.
Nix came out of the bathroom in a robe that was too long for her. I grinned, recognizing it as one of Kruise's.
"What are you smiling about?"
"Nothing." I turned back to the television, still smiling.
Nix watched me while I watched the program. "She been like that long?"
"'Bout half an hour or so."
She nodded. "Glad you two are okay. I know how worried she was about you after what happened with Star."
"Yeah, well, now it's my turn to be worried about her." I looked down at my hand to see myself absentmindedly stroking Cam's hair.
Nix smiled. "I'm glad you're okay, Trey."
"I feel the same about you, Nix."
We were quiet for a few more minutes.
"You calling Jesse tonight?"
She shook her head.
A sigh was my only response at first. Finally, when I was giving up hope of her answering, she did. "I blew it, Trey. All I wanted to do was protect her, and I fucked it up."
I cocked my head to one side. "Why do you think that?"
"She was going to drive me home and I told her I wanted Kruise to do it. I was kind of -- well, abrupt, I guess." She shrugged. "Kruise asked her to follow us to the apartment, and Jesse said no. She obviously doesn't want to talk to me."
"You know, you have a bad habit of giving her orders, Nix."
"What? I do not."
"You do. You might not realize it, but you do."
She stopped to think about that. "Okay, maybe I do. But it was justified tonight. Being with me in the car would have put her in danger."
"Right. Just like you and I chose to put ourselves in danger cause of Cam."
"No." I held up a hand to stop her. "Listen to me, Nix. Jesse makes her own decisions, just like you and me. She wanted to be in the car with you, and you ordered her not to. What kind of fucked up messages are you sending her? Think about it."
"I'm not sending her any messages, I'm just --"
"You are. Would you stop and think, Nix? She doesn't need you to take care of her. She doesn't need you to order her around. You stopped Shelby from controlling Jess, and now you're trying to control her? You can't do that and expect her to be okay with it."
"So, I should have just let her get in the car, knowing I might lose control and end up hurting her?"
I shook my head. "Nix, you wouldn't have lost it. Kelsey had sent some blood packets over with Kruise, and once you had them, Jesse wouldn't have been in any danger. Besides, she let you feed from her once when you needed it. Why would she turn you down now?"
She stared at me. "You think I should have asked her for blood? Jeezus fuck, Trey, I could have killed her last time."
"And again, I say you wouldn't have. Besides, she stopped you then. She's strong enough, she probably could have stopped you last night, if she really needed to." I sighed. "Look, all I'm trying to say, and doing a bad job of it, is that you need to stop ordering her around. Stop deciding what's best for the both of you, without discussing it with her. She needs control, Nix. Let her have it. See where it leads you."
A light seemed to flick on behind Nix's eyes, and a little smile curled her lips upward. "How'd you get so smart, Trey?"
I shrugged. "I read a lot."
Cam opened her eyes and looked up at us. She started to pull away from me, embarrassed, but I held on.
"It's okay, Cam. Really."
She smiled hesitantly and relaxed back into her previous position. Sleepily, she blinked at Nix.
"How do you feel, Cam?" Nix leaned forward, her voice very gentle.
"I'm okay." Cam's gaze darted nervously around the room, but then returned to Nix. "Are you all right? Nix, I never meant to --"
"Stop." Nix held up a hand. "I'm fine. You didn't hurt me." She winced as she lowered her arm. "The fall is what knocked me out and gave me problems. You needed blood, and I'm glad you got enough to get your head clear. You got through it, you're here, and that's all that matters. Okay?"
Her gaze lowered to the floor, but Cam nodded. "Thanks to you two."
Nix and I looked at each other. "Some team, eh, Trey?"
I nodded. "Least we got the job done."
"Right. Heroes are us, don't you know."
After another moment we burst out laughing, causing Dayle to pop her head out the office door. "What's so funny?"
By that time, even Cam was smiling, and none of us could answer Dayle's question. After several minutes of watching us, she grumbled something about lunatics, and closed the door again.
I heard a chuckle from Cam and felt a wave of happiness come over me.
Things were definitely looking up, I thought.
My euphoric mood lasted for another two hours, until Kelsey showed up.
Kruise had gotten home a little earlier. She and Dayle were making a late lunch - early supper, when the doorbell rang.
Nix, who was sharing a blood pack with Cam, rose to get the door, but Kruise waved her back to her seat.
Kelsey looked exhausted, and she slumped into the chair just inside the front door.
"What's up with you?" Nix asked.
"I just came from a council meeting. I've been arguing with them for hours."
We all tensed, knowing the discussion was probably about Cam.
"What was the topic?" Dayle had come out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a dish towel.
"Cam, and what to do with her." Kelsey looked decidedly uncomfortable. "There have been several calls to banish her from New York."
I saw Nix's eyes go wide in astonishment, and Cam sag in depression.
"They can't do that. Kelsey, it's not her fault --"
She held up her hand. "Trey, I've been trying to tell them that since last night. They don't want to hear it."
"Is there anything we can do?" Nix's voice was quiet, but not quite resigned.
"There's going to be a final meeting on the question. It's at seven." Kelsey took a deep breath. "They want Cam to be there. I told them you'd all probably want to speak in her defense, and they agreed you could." She stood up. "It's the best I could do. I'm sorry."
Nobody said anything. In the silence, Kruise excused herself, picking up the cordless phone and heading into her bedroom. Cam got up without a word and went into the spare room, closing the door behind her.
Dayle put a hand on Kelsey's shoulder. "It's okay, Kels. Thanks for letting us know."
Her gazed trained on the door Cam had just gone through, Kelsey sighed. "I'm sorry, Dayle. I don't know what else to say."
"I know. The meeting's at seven?"
"We'll be there."
Kelsey nodded. Her gaze shifted to Nix, who gave her a half smile. Another helpless shrug, and Kelsey was turning, opening the door and leaving.
I wished that Jace were there. She was the logical one.
Dayle went back into the kitchen. Nix leaned forward and put her elbows on her knees, her hands over her face.
I stared out the window, thinking.
Kruise never told us who she called, but I could guess. When I raised an eyebrow at her, she nodded, giving me a small smile. I smiled back, glad that Jesse was going to be there.
Dinner was quiet. Cam was still in her room, and the rest of us weren't very hungry. Dayle took a plate of food in to Cam, but she came back out with it a couple minutes later. It had barely been touched.
Due to the storm, it was going to take a long time to get to the meeting place. None of the cars were really good on snow and ice, but we agreed that the Cruiser was best. Dayle glared at Nix and made her promise that she wouldn't be kicking at the car, no matter what happened. Nix promised, saying that if things went bad, it wouldn't be the car she took her frustrations out on.
Dayle and Kruise sat up front, the rest of us in back, with Cam squeezed in between Nix and me. She wasn't speaking, and when I noticed a tear on her cheek I almost cried myself.
The five of us trooped up to the council chambers. Kelsey was waiting in the hall for us. It was about five till seven, and there was no sign of Jesse.
"Okay, I have good news and bad news."
"Just tell us what's going on, Kelsey." Nix folded her arms and stared at the council leader.
Kelsey nodded. "Okay. Nix, by law, you and Dayle have the right to be heard. However, I got the council to agree that one of our human friends could speak for Cam as well."
"The bad news," Kelsey went on, "is that I'm no longer head of the council."
We all stared at her.
"What? Who is?" Dayle looked shocked.
"Justine. They had a secret meeting this afternoon and voted me out. I'm still a council member, but Justine is now the leader of the council."
We all looked at each other, worry reflected on Dayle's and Nix's faces.
"This Justine, is she likely to be friendly towards Cam, or not?" Kruise asked.
Kelsey sighed. "Not a clue. She's fairly new, only been in New York for a few years, but she's popular, and outgoing. During the Star debate, she abstained most of the time, not siding with anyone. So, I don't know how she's likely to vote, Kruise."
Dayle rubbed her forehead. "Okay. So, we have a new leader to deal with. We can do this." She looked at me. "Trey, I think you're the one that should speak."
"Me?" I felt my eyes widen. "But, I'm just a writer. I can't do public speaking."
"You're better at it than I am, Trey." Kruise squeezed my shoulder. "You can do this."
Nix was nodding at me. "If anyone can, it's you."
"What am I going to do, tell them a story?"
"If that's what it takes, do it." Dayle shrugged. "You're the best we have."
"Best of two; such a vote of confidence." I shook my head. "Fine, but you guys better be ready to back me up."
The door opened and someone stuck her head out. I recognized her from the meeting about Star. Her name was Grace.
"Kels? We're ready for all of you."
"Great." Kelsey ran a hand through her brown hair and went to the door. Looking back, she glanced at all of us, especially Nix and Dayle. "Keep your cool. Don't let them get you angry."
Nix snorted. "Too late."
Kelsey sighed and went in. We all followed, in single file, with Kruise and me bringing up the rear.
I really wished Jesse would get there.
When we had interrupted the meeting about Star, I hadn't noticed how many council members there were. Including Kelsey, there were fourteen, with one seat remaining empty. I wondered if that was Rita's, and why it hadn't been filled.
The meeting was called to order by a dark haired vampire. She looked a little familiar, and I presumed that she had been on hand for Rita's ouster.
"This council meeting has been called to decide whether or not the," she paused for a moment, "half-vampire known as Cameron will be held accountable for her crimes, and what punishment should be levied." Justine lowered her gaze to Cam. "We understand you will not be pleading innocence, but extenuating circumstances. Is that correct?"
Cam nodded, her head down.
"Fine. We were informed that several people wished to speak in your behalf. Before we do that, I think there should be a reading of the charges. Then we'll hear your story as to what happened, and then your advocates can speak." She turned to Kruise and I. "Please understand that this is not like a human courtroom. There is no prosecutor here, and no defense attorney. There is also no appeal. Whatever the council decides, is law. That is the way it has been for hundreds of years. So, if things are a little different than your used to, I'm sorry. This is our way."
Turning to her left, Justine addressed Grace. "Let's hear the charges."
"Cameron Brewer, you are charged with attacking humans, endangering the lives of humans, and with endangering the vampire society by your actions. As you know, the last one is the most serious, though the first two can be considered banishment offenses. Do you deny any of the charges?"
Cam shook her head. Nix put a hand on her back, rubbing lightly in small circles.
Justine leaned forward again, her hands folding in front of her. "Cameron, we'd like to hear your side of the story now. Can you tell us why you did this?"
For several long moments, Cam sat still, her head down, and her eyes closed. Nix leaned in and was whispering to her. Cam replied, and the blonde vampire stood up to address the council. "If it's all right with all of you, I'd like to explain some things first. After that, Cam can tell you what she remembers, and what she went through."
Justine looked around at the council. A few members were frowning at Nix, but several nodded their heads as well. "That is acceptable. Please continue."
"Thank you." Nix took a moment to draw a breath and focus herself. Then she stepped out from behind the table and around the front of it, settling herself on the edge of the wooden surface. "I don't know how many of you know how Cam became what she is. I'd like you to hear that before anything else."
"We've heard that she was created, like a Nosferatu, but she wasn't insane like they are. Is there more than this?"
"Well, yeah. Because it wasn't done the same way, or for the same reasons."
Justine nodded. "I understand you think this is important, Phoenix, but we are short on time; no one wants to be caught if that storm off the coast moves further inland. So, tell your story, but please keep it short."
Nix tried. She told it much the same as Tess had told me, but with a little more emphasis on how she and Tess had continually given blood, never leaving Cam alone. She finished with how the vampires of London had accepted Cam, even teaching her vampire history, and the truth between lore and legend. As she ended, I watched the faces of the council. A few seemed interested. Most were bored. I winced when I saw two of them quietly talking between themselves.
Finally, Nix fell silent. Justine, who had appeared to pay close attention to her, shifted her gaze to Cam.
"All right, we've heard the creation of Cameron. We'd like to hear, in Cam's words, what kind of extenuating circumstances brought her to attack people."
Nix moved back behind the table, and whispered again to Cam. Cam nodded, and slowly stood. Nix kept her hand wrapped around one of Cam's.
The story wasn't long. It began with Tess's brooding after Star's death, and how neither she nor Cam fed much during that time. Then Tess left, leaving Cam here alone. The story of her beatings at the hands of other vampires brought looks of concern from a few council members, but as I watched, a couple of them smiled, then tried to hide it. Looking over at Nix, I knew she had seen it too.
Cam finally told them about how she had started not being able to remember things, and being unable to control the anger inside. She admitted that she initially thought of asking for help, but had been afraid to after the way the clubs had treated her. When she had to leave the penthouse, she tried living in hotels, but her loss of memory made it difficult, and she eventually just couldn't remember the last place she'd stayed in. The abandoned building where we'd found her had only been her refuge for a few days.
She started to tell how Nix and I had found her, but Nix put a hand on her back and took over.
"Trey and I decided to check the building out. I fell through a set of rotten stairs and was knocked unconscious. Cam fed first from me, then attacked Trey when she made her way down to find me. Trey was able to get free, and then Dayle and Kelsey showed up. From then on, Cam's been with us, staying at the apartment of Dayle and her girlfriend. Once she got enough blood into her, her mind became clear again, and she hasn't shown any violent tendencies or mental lapses. Mentally, she's back to normal. Physically, it's going to take a little while, as she was extremely malnourished. Emotionally -- it's going to be tough for a while."
Justine was nodding. "I have a question, and I'm not sure if you could answer it or if Cam knows the answer."
"Cam fed first from you, then from Trey. My question is, which one seemed to bring her to her senses? When did she start to regain the ability to think?"
Nix frowned. "I'm not sure."
Cam looked up at her and shook her head.
I took a deep breath and stood. "If I may -- after she fed on Nix, she recognized me. She called me by name, and warned me that she wasn't in control."
"Yet she attacked you."
"Yes, but after I broke her hold, she stayed back. She was aware of what was going on, and she was scared."
Justine nodded. "Thank you, Trey." She looked around at the council. "Does anyone have any other questions of Cam?"
They all shook their heads. A few looked amused at the question.
"All right, then. I was told that one of the humans would speak. Trey, would that be you?"
I nodded. "Yes, I'll --"
"No." The voice came from behind us, and I turned to see Jesse peeling off her leather jacket. She tossed it at Kruise and winked. "No, I think I'll be the one to speak."
Dayle and Nix looked at each other in surprise. Kruise and I exchanged smiles. Cam stared at Jesse in shock.
Justine nodded. "I remember. You were rather forceful when you spoke to us on the issue of Rita and Star."
Jesse shrugged. "It seemed necessary."
"And, does it seem necessary now?"
"I don't know. From what I've seen, it might be."
A round of murmurs went around the chamber.
The new council head waited for a moment. "All right. We agreed we'd hear from them. Let her speak." She nodded to Jesse. "Please."
Jesse stepped forward and lit a cigarette. She waited for a moment, taking a long drag, and letting it out slowly.
"You know, I don't know what Trey was going to say. She would have been eloquent, and logical, and used correct grammar. I don't do any of those things. All I can do is tell you what I know and what I see."
She stepped up next to Cam. "What I see is someone who cares about other people. Human, vampire, doesn't matter. She treats them all with same respect and concern. The first time we met was just after Nix had been beaten by Star. I had gotten my wrist ripped open, the veins mangled, and some other damage done. Kelsey had to try and put me back together, and it was Cam who sat by me and held my hand." She shrugged and lifted her hands. "We'd never met, she didn't know me from any bum on the street, but that didn't matter. That's just Cam." Jesse paused, taking a drag from her cigarette.
I remembered watching Cam hold Jesse. Although she never said anything about it, I knew Jesse had always respected Cam. Just that little act of kindness was enough to earn Jesse's devotion, because it wasn't something she'd seen much of.
"That's what I see when I look at Cam. Now, what I see when I look at this council is a bunch of cowards."
A pin dropping onto a pillow could have been heard.
"See, you guys sit here, making rules, pretending to be these all powerful vampires, when the reality is, you have no idea what it's like to live in the real world, and most likely, I could take you out."
Several council members were looking angry. Justine looked amused. Nix had a hand over her eyes.
"I don't care how you make your money, or how strong you are, or how old you are. It doesn't fucking matter to me, 'cause all I see are a bunch of blowhards that hide in these chambers, trying to shape reality. Well, let me tell you, reality is what it is, and there isn't one of you that can control it. You can ignore it, or deal with it, and you choose to ignore it, then complain when it intrudes on your fantasy world."
"Justine, I don't see the point of continuing this." The speaker was a blonde vampire with brown eyes. She'd been one of the two talking during Nix's speech, and I winced when I saw a few vampires nodding in agreement with her.
"We agreed to give them the right to speak." Justine let her gaze fall on Jesse. "Though I do recommend that you come back to the topic at hand."
The council head raised an eyebrow at her. "The topic is Cam, and her breakdown."
Jesse nodded. "Yeah, that's what I was talking about." She waved a hand at the council. "After all, from everything I see, I'd say it's your own damn fault, not Cam's."
The chamber erupted. Several vampires were yelling at Jesse, while others screamed for Justine to stop the proceedings. Dayle was sitting back and grinning, while Nix was watching Jesse, a small smile on her face.
Jesse was standing in a relaxed pose, as if unaware of the uproar she had caused.
Justine finally got order restored by picking up a heavy book and dropping it back to the table with a bang. Cam jumped, as did several others.
"This proceeding will continue until we have heard all the speakers and all the commentary. This council will adhere to its original agreement." She glared at each member separately. Then she turned her attention back to the dark haired woman who stood calmly smoking a cigarette. "I'd like you to explain that statement, though, Jesse."
Jesse nodded. "Well, I told you what I see, now let me tell you what I know." She dropped her cigarette and ground it out with the toe of her boot. "What I know," she said slowly, "is that since she came to this country, Cam's been regarded as inferior to, quote, real vampires, unquote. She's been called names." Jess turned to look at Cam. "Nosferatu, half breed. She's been threatened. Embarrassed. And harrassed." She faced the council again. "And not one of you has done anything to help her, protect her, or change the way the vampire community itself looks at her. Because of that, because of your indifference, when she was vulnerable, they attacked. And not one of you did anything to stop them." She pointed at one vampire who was about to protest. "Don't tell me you don't frequent the clubs, or that none of you knew what was happening." She glared at a few of the more hostile members. "If you, as council members, had done something, anything, to stop her being -- ostracized, none of this would have happened. No attacks, no press, no cover-ups. But instead of protecting her, you set her up, and when she fell, you blamed her." Jess lowered her hands back to her sides and shrugged. "Well, it's your own damn fault."
"Why should we protect a nosferatu?" The same council member sneered at Jesse. "She should never have been created, never allowed to live. If she was capable of taking care of herself, she wouldn't have lost it, and we wouldn't be here."
Jesse walked up to the table and planted her hands in front of the vampire. "And just who the hell gave you the right to decide who lives and who dies?"
Again, the room went silent.
"You're not gods. I don't care what role you played a couple thousand years ago, not one of you is a god or goddess. You have no right to say that any innocent life is forfeit, and you can't tell me that she wasn't innocent. I've fought nosferatu, I've killed one, and I know how vicious they are. She was attacked, filled with a poison that would have either killed her or made her insane and then killed her. When Nix and Tess found her, they did what anyone would have done; they fought to save her life. Who are you to tell them they shouldn't have?" She looked around at the rest of them. "Would you have done anything different if it was your lover, your partner? Would you have watched them die, or let them become a monster?"
I could sense the change in the room. Anyone that had been sitting on the fence was now firmly in her court, and I smiled. This was a Jesse I always knew was in there; the passionate fighter, brave and beautiful. I wanted to hug her.
Jesse stepped back and turned to look at Cam, who was watching her through tears.
"What I know," she said softly, "is that Cam is the most unique individual I've ever met. She's not human, she's not vampire, she's just Cam. She's the only one of her, the only half human, half vampire in the world. And for that we should respect her and care about her." She turned back towards Justine. "That's what I know."
No one said anything while Jesse walked back around the table and sat down next to Cam. Without a word, she took the smaller woman in her arms and held her.
Justine cleared her throat. "Well. Jesse, I'd like to thank you for that impassioned speech."
Jesse nodded once.
"But, I think I should correct an assumption that you hold, one that most everyone in the room has held." The council leader paused. "Cam is not the only one of her kind."
That was the bombshell of the night.
End Part Twelve
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