Sad Tears, A Clean House.

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Sad Tears, A Clean House. Empty Sad Tears, A Clean House.

Post  Naitachel on Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:56 am

Home is where the heart is. At the moment, it was where one family member was convalescing in the largest room of his own shared suite, his changed arrangements leaving the rest of the family in a bit of a chaotic state as they tried to keep functioning despite the recent threats and upheavals in their lives. Mircea's lab work had moved into the same suite, commandeering a room for itself. Loyal servants shrugged and simply steered clear of him. Others, however, were not necessarily as lucky. "I SAID OUT!!" Mircea roared, throwing a tea tray out after the fleeing servant.

Naitachel groaned as he struggled up from meditating on the floor by Radu's bed. Heavens, it wasn't as nice as using their own bed for it, and so he was stiff from sitting on the floor. "I have been too pampered of late," he sighed softly, glancing at the bed's occupant to see if he was awake and hoping not to disturb. He had done all he could to help his mate get some sleep... but he would need to depart for the offices soon.

Radu lay there silently, his pain-filled eyes wide open and watching his beloved.

Soraya nearly stumbled home carrying her large messenger bag, these days her constant accessory. She was tired, emotionally and physically, but her duties for the day were not yet over. Still carrying her books, considering that Radu may want to peruse some of them as he had taken to doing, Soraya walked to the house's master suite and knocked briefly before entering. "Radu, I am... Oh!" she exclaimed, surprised to see Naitachel actually home. "Hello. I am sorry, I did not mean to interrupt."

"Come in," Radu told her quietly. "What have you brought for me today?"

The Seraph had moved to clasp Radu's hand in his own, and glanced over a shoulder at Soraya. "You are not interrupting," he returned gently. "I thought to stay a bit before the office folk thought me either a drunkard or mad..."

The redhead entered as bid, and allowed her pack to thump heavily to the floor. "Well, I think mad might not be such an inappropriate description for certain members of this family these days," she commented, glancing briefly in the direction of the room Mircea had taken for his own. She bent and selected a few textbooks and brought them over for Radu's inspection. "Clinical Assessment for the Social Worker," she said with a mild grimace. "Nothing all that spectacularly exciting."

Leaning down to rest his forehead against his mate's Nait closed his eyes and sighed, wishing he could do something more permanent to ease Radu's pain. <What else might I offer you? I wish my songs might last longer, but they are only so good, and I cannot stay all day and night as I wish to...>

Noting the intimate moment, Soraya decided perhaps she should go, and turned to do so. "I can come back." It wasn't as though these two had gotten much time together these days, something with which she could empathize.

The Seraph straightened and chuckled softly. "You shall have him assessing the lot of us in a few weeks?"

The redhead shrugged and smiled. "Perhaps he shall." Perhaps he would be the only one here to do so, she thought, though she didn't say that aloud.

Radu kissed Naitachel gently, answering, <It is enough, beloved. Thank you.> Aloud he said, "Let's see what we've got," reaching for the books Soraya had brought.

Raising an eyebrow in Naitachel's direction, Soraya handed the book in question to Radu. "You can keep it as long as you like," she informed him, "and I can leave the bag here for you."

"Excuse me, Mister Nait, sir, but he's... well, Lorenzo is quitting. Again," the servant interrupted.

Naitachel's wings seemed to droop. "Going mad is beginning to sound almost a pleasant option," he sighed, kissing Radu back before turning toward the servant in question. "Again... Mircea once more? It is simpler to not even enter that room, I hope you all understand," he sighed as he turned to deal with this new crisis. <I am sorry,> he apologized to both his mate and Soraya.

"He threw a tea tray at him. With the hot pot of tea still upon it," Esme told him.

The Seraph rubbed at the bridge of his nose with a hand. "Then do not serve him tea. I believe he has too much on his mind not to toss anything at the nearest convenient target... and possibly a few less convenient as well."

<We are all stretched thin. No need to apologize,> she told the seraph. Most of the family, Naitachel included, were spending days on end at the company. Soraya herself found that she was bouncing between school, caregiving at home for Radu as well as Brianna, and doing her best to find time to see Vlad and check in on the others at Dragon Inc. It was exhausting.

- - -

Radu sat reading through Soraya's lessons, one book at a time, finding the information fascinating.

As Radu settled into reading her books, the redhead plopped heavily into a nearby chair, flopping into a rather slouched position. "As I said, you can keep it," she informed the vampire.

"What then would you use for studying?" Radu asked her, setting the books aside and turning his full attention on her.

Soraya remained slouched and rested her head against her hand. "Nothing," she answered tiredly. "With everything going on, I think it best I discontinue my coursework." She hadn't told any of her family yet, not even Vlad, but it was bound to come out sooner or later.

Radu closed his eyes a moment, shaking his head. "Are you no longer interested in your field of study?"

"I can pick it up again when things have settled down," she answered, answering the question in a round-about way. "I spoke to an adviser. I would have to restart the program, but what is a few years more, at our age?" she asked him, smiling wryly.

"If they are of enough importance to consider doing again, then they should be completed now," Radu told her. "You cannot put your life on hold."

"My life is anything but on hold, Radu." Soraya's weight shifted as she straightened in her chair. "With all this running around, I can barely keep what I am doing straight. I almost tried to hand one of my classmates my notes to peruse thinking he was you. Besides... How can I simply keep going as though nothing had happened when everyone else is doing so much to fix this situation? It feels rather selfish of me."

"Child... tell me... what is it you think you need to fix?" Radu studied her intently.

Soraya sighed. "I cannot fix anything," she said, knowing full-well she was the weak link in all of this, "But I can help, if only by being here to ensure you are tended to. I may even get to see my own husband once in a blue moon if I have more free time on my hands."

"You help by keeping me from dying of boredom, and by letting me be a part of an important accomplishment for you," Radu told her tiredly. "To finish this and do well would give us all cause to celebrate... which is something we all desperately need right now."

"I am not slated to finish until May. That is six months from now. I honestly do not think I can maintain this pace for that long," she admitted. "As I said, I can hardly keep track of where I am, let alone actually focus on my studies. There is too much else, too much more important else, going on."

"So let us not keep up this pace," Radu sighed. "Let us... scale back. 3/4 time instead of full time, perhaps? Or half time?"

Soraya shook her head, stubbornness setting in. "A few years' worth of work, Radu, that is all," she insisted. "I would rather be with my family."

"Are we not together now?" Radu asked with a sigh.

"Indeed we are," the redhead grinned slyly, "Because I am not at school."

"Because you have completed your courses today and we are now prepared to study," Radu corrected.

"Besides," Soraya added, "I may see you, but Vlad is not here."

"Ah, so now we see the problem." Radu smiled gently. "And dropping out will bring him home more often...?"

"No, but dropping out will give me more time to go to him." Not that she expected copious amounts of time with him either way, but at least she would feel saner, and she would have more chances of seeing him.

"He will be able to cease working to see you, then?" Radu asked.

The redhead sighed and shook her head again. "No, again, not always. I know that, but at this point, I will take what I can get." Her eyes moistened a little and she looked away, obviously frustrated. "I am drowning, Radu, and I need something to give. And my family would never be the first thing I neglect."

"Instead, you would have us allow you to neglect yourself and your dreams?" Radu asked her. "Dear heart, do you not know how very proud we are of you?"

Soraya wiped a tear from her cheek. "What good is pride when I spend my days feeling as though I am completely isolated from those that matter most to me?"

Radu nodded. He understood far better than she might think. After a moment, he asked her in all seriousness. "Were you able to have anything you like, you would choose...?"

- - -

<Mircea, if you continue to chuck items at various employees, I shall be forced to seek only Vlad when I find those names... I understand you both wish vengeance, but if we are to hope for finding the best answers, some self-control is necessary!> Naitachel peeked his head in the door to what was now Mircea's work-room... ready to duck if necessary.

Mircea's hair was wild, his clothing rumpled, his stance rigid as he reset the experiment yet again.

"You are doing the whole 'mad scientist' cliche no good, Mircea," Nait sighed as he slipped inside. He did need to swipe a new shirt from the closet nearby, at least--if one still existed in there...

"Mad sci..." Mircea began, turning to look upon Naitachel. "What? When did you get here?"

"I was too tired to be able to tell the time, but a couple hours ago. I was with Radu until you nearly scalded that servant... Truly, Mircea, regain your control, or I cannot let you near those I uncover..." Nait told him wryly, moving for the closet. "I need a new shirt lest they wonder why I never change clothing..."

"I told them not to interrupt," Mircea growled, turning back to his work.

Naitachel dug around in his closet a bit, the sound of stuff shifting as he sought out a change of clothes... and a few to spare in case he had to stay at the office. "You might try less violent means of conveying that point?" he suggested to Mircea, voice muffled.

"Less violence was ignored," Mircea answered with a shrug.

Naitachel emerged with a packed bag, and shook his head. "Just lock the door. That is simpler, yes?"

Naitachel slung the bag over his shoulder. "I shall endeavor to lock the door as I depart, then... Any luck?"

Mircea shook his head. "None," he said at last, "save perhaps a contaminated slide and a file full of meaningless notes."

Naitachel sighed, drooping. "One might hope... when I find those who sought harm, they might supply some leads in this? It is a faint hope to reach for, I know, but still...?" The Seraph had to look to something. He couldn't stand seeing Radu so miserable.

Mircea nodded. "You may get whatever answers you can from them," he told Naitachel. "Then I shall see to... whatever is left."

The Seraph shook his head slowly at Mircea, negatively. "The answers we need are such as they shall not surrender voluntarily, and I cannot condone violence. I may find the people in question, but beyond that--they are for you and Vlad to decide upon. I am sorry. That... that is all I may do. Even for Radu I... cannot change who and what I am like that..." Scarlet tears edged his vision unhappily. He could not harm others so. It was not in his ability, for all he wished he could help and knew it was the best way to do so.

Mircea nodded. "None would ever ask you to do harm, Naitachel. We would not dishonor you so." He sighed. "That is for the damned to do. No other."

Naitachel wiped at his scarlet tears with the back of a gloved hand, and peered over Mircea's shoulder at his work, resting his hand by one of the slides as he leaned over. "Thank you... and I would not normally condemn men to what I know is certain to be a terrible death, even if just, but I... I understand why you shall do what you intend to upon them..."

- - -

"If things were not as they are? I would choose to have Vlad home and attentive every night. I would choose that you and Naitachel could be as you were before..." She fell silent a few moments, biting back her words. She knew they were reaching more people now, which was all the family ever wanted, but life seemed so much simpler, so much more complete and connected for them before Dragon Inc. became what it was. She was surprised to realize that she wished it hadn't grown so large. In a small way, she actually resented that it had, for all intents and purposes, taken large parts of her family away. So much so that now one of them lay in a bed, fighting for his life. It was doubtful Radu would have gone through this if he hadn't headed the corporation. "I would finish school," she said lamely, more quietly than before. "But things are as they are."

"They are... but you can have at least part of what you wish." Radu closed his eyes a moment, breathing slow and deep. When he opened them again, he smiled softly at her. "Your husband will be home tonight... and every night from now on. Provided I have your word that you will finish school. Agreed?"

Soraya looked at Radu and wiped her cheeks with her sleeve again. "You are holding my husband hostage, then?" she asked, struggling to regain her composure by making a weak jest.

"After a fashion," Radu almost laughed. "Do you disapprove?"

Soraya sniffed good-naturedly. "Whether I approve or no, it is an effective tactic. But what does Vlad have to say about this? He is, after all, the object of payment. Should he not have a say?"

"He has had his say, and approves," Radu assured her.

The redhead closed her eyes a moment, collecting herself. This wasn't going to be easy. "Then I suppose I have no choice but to agree to the terms you set, even if I was strong-armed into them." Her tone put up a healthy amount of indignation if merely for show.

Radu, eyes still closed, and he sighed softly. "So long as we are in agreement," he replied very quietly.

Soraya sighed and rose. She gently collected her book from Radu, and kissed him gently upon the cheek. "Rest," she whispered before straightening and collecting her bag. She would have to speak with her advisers about options tomorrow, the second, no third meeting with one in as many days. <Quietly, now,> she then sent to Naitachel, warning him for when he returned this way on his way out. <Radu is falling asleep.>

Naitachel, catching Soraya's warning, wiped at his eyes and took a deep breath to settle his own composure and emotions. He patted Mircea's shoulder. "Come by at the end of the week. I think I shall know by then. Some may be mere spies for rival firms, but others... My net, I fear, shall enclose all, and by then I may give you names to seek answers from."

Mircea started to speak, then stopped, spying the gloved hand beside the slide. His own hand a blur, he reached out and took his brother-in-law's wrist. "Naitachel..." he whispered. "It's you..."

The Seraph froze as his wrist was caught. "Pardon?"

Mircea held up the seraph's wrist, indicating the "blood" upon his hand. "The slide... the contaminated slide. The... the toxin upon it was eradicated, but I could not duplicate the contaminant..."

Naitachel blinked, and blushed. "Pardon...! I am sorry--have I cleaned it all and ruined your hard efforts?" <Thank you for seeing him to sleep, Soraya... I fear I am like a bull in a china shop here, however...>

<A bull... oh dear. If he starts throwing things, duck,> the redhead offered. Soraya exited Naitachel and Radu's suite in favor of going to her own to change into a sweatshirt and p.j. pants, the attire of champion students. Once changed, the redhead sat upon her bed and looked at her books for a few long moments as though considering them. There was one portion she had neglected to warn Vlad about, and she wasn't so sure how it would go over. They had received their assignments for their clinical rotations in the spring semester, and hers was, well... Going to provide a learning experience, to be sure.

"No... no... do not apologize. It's... you've found the answer. I merely need to isolate the compound, now. Determine what it is that destroys the toxin so that it can be synthesized for Radu. Don't you see?" Mircea told him, hoping he'd understand.

The Seraph felt a thrill of horror. If Mircea had to take more blood from Radu... What had he done? It hurt him to have it taken... But Mircea's words made Naitachel frown a bit, and shake his head. "I... but... So I might be able to... Mircea, I am fairly toxic to all of you as I am. Are you certain I might not merely poison further?" <He... I cannot Purify Radu--it would kill more surely than the toxin is trying to...> He sounded confused to Soraya. <I have done something here, but I am not certain what.>

"Your blood is toxic," Mircea corrected. "Your tears, however... your glorious tears." He stopped, shaking his head. "I need samples."

<What do you mean, purify Radu?> the redhead asked, confused as well. Sighing, she stood and shuffled back the way she had come, passing quietly through Radu's room and edged into the makeshift laboratory. "What is going on?" she asked in a loud hiss, hoping not to disturb the sleeping vampire next door.

"You need... what?" the Seraph almost squeaked. "I... cannot cry on cue, Mircea!" he half-laughed in dismay, hardly believing. "Granted, I know the tales that..." He paused, and frowned slightly, recalling the very same. "I had not thought of that, actually..." Glancing at Soraya, he offered, "At least it is a hope, if slim."

"Then think of this a moment," Mircea suggested, gathering a few vials and opened them to collect samples. "If you cannot provide the tears, I have no hope of finding a cure, and my brother, your spouse, will either live out what could be a virtual eternity in excruciating pain, or worse... if it is possible that there be worse... he could be lost to us forever..." He let that sink in, knowing how soft-hearted Naitachel would react.

"Your tears?" the redhead asked, curiosity piqued. "Hope is hope, and knowing Mircea, if he is hopeful, then the rest of us should be ecstatic. I could tickle you until you cry," she offered, knowing there was danger in that proposition.

Naitachel looked from one to the other, dismayed still, but the bleak picture Mircea presented did indeed start waterworks again. "Heavens..." And had to stop himself from wiping at his eyes. Golden eyes shifted to Soraya, then Mircea. "I admit I prefer your method, Soraya," he stated unhappily. "I knew... well... a full angel's tears are supposedly near miraculous, but mine are not... merely bloody..."

"Well, give us those bloody tears, then," Soraya said, grinning mischievously. This was the most uplifted she had felt in a long time, and she positioned herself where she thought she was safest before setting to work at thoroughly tickling the seraph. "You may need to hold him in case he flails," she warned Mircea.

The Seraph tried not to flinch at the touch of glass, and simply closed his eyes instead. Soraya's threatening to tickle was something he actually kind of dreaded. "I fear I may destroy the lab if I do," he warned uncertainly.

Mircea lifted the vials, one at a time, and held them to his cheek, collecting the precious crimson tears. One... two... three vials of seraph tears were filled and set aside. "There. I'll let you know if I need more," Mircea told them. "Now go... go on... I’ve work to do and no time for distractions. Go have tea, or visit the children or... shop."

Naitachel breathed a sigh of relief, opening his eyes to smile at Soraya a bit tiredly. "I suppose we save your method for another time, then." He wiped the last of his bloody tears from his face with a gloved hand. "Call the office, then, Mircea. I would rather cry than face some of those meetings..."

Soraya wasn't about to stay and argue with Mircea. Putting a finger to her lips in a gesture signifying they should remain quiet, Soraya slipped out, through Radu's room, and back out of the suite. She glanced at the clock, wondering how long it would be before Vlad arrived. "Are you returning to the office?" she asked the seraph.

As Nait flicked the lock and closed the door behind them to leave Mircea in safe isolation, he nodded to Soraya. "I think I shall. Would you like to come?" he asked, glancing over at Radu's bed in concern. If this was the solution... at least it offered hope. That was almost enough to set him crying again.

"In this outfit?" Soraya asked. She considered changing back out of it, but she was so exhausted the task seemed daunting. Not to mention the studying she should be doing, and yet. "Perhaps I will." At least this way, if it came to it, she could glare at Vlad persistently enough to make him keep his end of the bargain. "Perhaps I should..." she second-guessed, pulling out her cell phone and dialing Vlad's number. *Ring ring*

"Vlad..." Vlad answered shortly.

The Seraph, meanwhile, was packing himself some holy water for while at the office, adding it to his "overnight" pack with the change in clothes. "Is he still in? I do hope no new crises occurred while I was here meditating."

"Well, do not sound so cheerful to hear from me," Soraya teased.

"Hello, beloved," Vlad's tone softened. "I was just packing up my things to come home."

Soraya's smile translated into her voice. She was obviously elated at the idea of actually having him home, however selfish it was of her. "Well, I shall forestall my plans of meeting you there, then. Naitachel was just wondering how things were going there, given his absence of a few hours. Apparently the place will fall down if any of you leave it," she said, sticking her tongue out at the seraph. It was intended as her own gentle reminder that even Nait needed to allow himself time away, time spent NOT worrying about the office at all. She knew he had just meditated, but she hardly thought he had genuinely rested.

The Seraph shrugged his pack and smiled wryly, if tiredly. This was hardly his chosen profession, after all. "I can understand the demand to literally knock heads together at times in hopes for the occasional spark of enlightenment..." <If he is coming, I may either fly or take my bike over. No point in taking a larger vehicle when I may be staying a long time.>

<He says he is packing up to come home,> Soraya informed the seraph.

<Then perhaps you should stay?> Nait knew how much she was missing Vlad these days, and how the separation was hurting them both. He might not be able to spend time with Radu, but at least her situation could be better remedied, perhaps?

With a grateful smile, Soraya nodded. <I think I should, if you do not mind so much,> she agreed. <I miss my husband.> She winced gently, realizing this must be difficult for him as well. <I am sorry,> she apologized quickly.

The Seraph patted her shoulder understandingly. <Just because I may still miss Radu is no reason to condemn yourself to the same pain when you might yet catch some pleasant personal time with Vlad. This hope shall buoy me through. Besides, finding those at fault is a race against time...>

"Tell Nait things are humming along here if he wants to wait a bit longer," Vlad told Soraya. "Lab three had a few minor issues earlier, but it's running well enough now."

Soraya nodded and relayed the message to the seraph. "It seems you have license to spend a bit more time at Radu's bedside, if you like," she suggested, before returning to her conversation with Vlad. "Hurry home. I have things to tell you."

Breathing a sigh of relief, Nait set his overnight pack down on the floor, nodding. "Give him my thanks, please." That made his day.

"I'll be there as quickly as Colin can drive me," Vlad promised.

"Tell Colin to drive quickly, then," she laughed, then paused a moment. "I love you," she told him, words she felt she had not spoken enough recently.

"I love you," Vlad answered gently before hanging up.

Naitachel smiled at Soraya a long moment, then moved to give her a fierce hug. "I... I think things shall turn for the better," he whispered, finally more his hopeful self again.

"Oof," Soraya said as she was wrapped in a bear hug. "It will," she promised her dearest friend, "I promise. Now go," the redhead laughed, patting Naitachel's back. "More time with Radu, remember."

Nait nodded, beaming, and opened the door the their suite, slipping back to Radu's bedside to sit beside him on the mattress, tail reaching to cover his mate's feet in warmth. Taking this opportunity, Naitachel began to sing again, a soft song to help ease the pain... It echoed around the building like audible soothing balm. The machines monitoring Radu's condition registered an easing of the pain, a steadying of the breathing.

Soraya made her way to her own suite and set to reading her book until Vlad arrived, feeling a heavy weight from her shoulder at least lessen.

Vlad entered their home quietly, setting his satchel aside and looking for his wife. The moment he found her, he swept her into his arms, holding her tightly and kissing her gently.

Soraya merely clung to Vlad, grateful for his presence and needing nothing more than to be held to feel the aching left inside her ease.

Last edited by Naitachel on Sat May 12, 2012 8:17 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Sad Tears, A Clean House. Empty Re: Sad Tears, A Clean House.

Post  Naitachel on Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:04 am

Soraya knocked gently on Naitachel and Radu's door. Of all her available interview subjects, Naitachel was the only available one. It wasn't that she didn't want to interview him per se, it was just that out of all the abnormal answers she was liable to get from her family, Naitachel's were going to be the strangest and most difficult to... modify. Still, her report on the exercise was due the next day and no one else was, or had been, available.

"Come in!" Naitachel called cheerfully. The Seraph was in the outer room of their suite, in a chair modified to have space for his tail in the back. He was sitting with a couple balls of yarn and two knitting sticks, puzzling over it merrily as he started on this somewhat-new hobby. He had been taught by one of the kids last month... and so kept trying to improve. Failing, but still trying... Right now, he was using a nice shade of green to make something... lumpy.

The redhead stepped into the room and shut the door behind her, notebook in hand. "Good evening," she greeted the seraph, smiling despite herself at the sight of him. "I heard Radu actually ventured out," she noted with a glance around the room, holding to the sliver of hope for Radu's help. After all, he knew the sorts of things she would be looking for, having helped her with her coursework during his time on bed rest. Indeed, with no indication of his presence, Soraya relented, "You must be thrilled to see him moving about again."

Nodding firmly, Nait set his work aside, not seeming to notice as some of it unraveled. "It is wonderful. I think Mircea wished to treat him to something. Do you require his help with something? I might always call, but... my cell phone is a bit touchy today." It sparked slightly as if in answer on a nearby table, but otherwise behaved. The Seraph beamed helpfully at her.

"No," Soraya laughed as she took a seat across from him, "I would have called him myself if I thought it was worth asking him to return. It is better he have his time away, as I am sure he requires it," she informed Nait, "But perhaps there is something you could do for me, then."

Shrugging his wings, he folded them over the back of this modified chair happily when he leaned back. "I am at your disposal," he chuckled. "I have been called in sick by Mircea. He told me not to ask why, though he looked at my yarn for some reason. Perhaps he does not like green..." he mused. "Regardless... How may I be of aid?"

"I have this project to do," she answered, choosing not to comment on Mircea's actions. "I need to complete a mock counseling session with someone, and as Vlad has not yet returned and I would prefer not to hear about my children's childhoods and how terrible a mother I was, I was hoping perhaps you would indulge me?"

Nodding, Nait beamed cheerfully at her. "Of course! I know nothing of what you may require me to do for this, but, well... I may do my best. How does this work?"

Soraya looked at the seraph, warmed by his enthusiastic response. It was good to see things back to normal, or mostly normal. "Simply... answer as honestly as you may," she said, knowing that hardly needed to be said in the case of the seraph, "though perhaps we can work together to make it all... well, believable? This will all be held confidential, of course. Your name will never be mentioned."

Naitachel considered this a moment, head tilted to one side, then shrugged his wings against the back of his chair. He trusted Soraya impeccably. "I do not know if I might make it more believable, but... well, I can at least supply answers. That seems simple enough," he mused. "Very well. Ask away!"

Suddenly feeling somewhat on the spot, Soraya took out a notebook, ready to take notes, and shifted in her seat. She cleared her throat, quickly, before beginning, "Um, well, how are you doing today?" Admittedly, this felt rather silly.

"I feel quite well, thank you," Nait returned happily. "With Radu on the mend, and me off work, it was nice to indulge in some pleasantries Radu and I had missed out on of late." In fact, he had just woken up not long ago.

"Well, I am happy to hear that," she said, unable to keep the laughter from her voice. "Urgh, I am sorry, I feel a bit awkward," she admitted, before resuming, "Tell me about yourself. Where do you come from?"

Naitachel blinked, frowned, and looked thoughtful. "Ah, the 13th plane of Light, a corner of Heaven, also known as the edge of the Elysium Fields? Before that, I cannot say. I am not entirely certain, as there is nothing to identify where I was repaired. I supposed a greater part of Heaven..." Blushing he added, "I much doubt that would work for you. You may have to make something up."

The redhead frowned into her notebook, thinking. At least with the vampires, she could have said somewhere in Europe. "Due to diplomatic sensitivity, subject chose to keep specifics private for now, though did share from different part of the world."

"I think I will merely have to get creative with the truth," Soraya answered when her scribbling was done. "I would hate to upset your sensitive disposition regarding lying," she laughed with a wink. "And tell me, then, given your, erm, foreign-born status, what has brought you to New York?" She avoided delving into his so-called childhood, knowing that this would simply lead to more answers that needed forging. She chose instead to jump ahead and, hopefully, gather information that could be useful in the more here-and-now level.

Naitachel shook his head, smiling warmly. "I merely do not care for untruths to be spoken to myself, as that is but a silly waste of breath and almost rude. I do understand it is necessary elsewhere, however." He laughed softly. "Why, I came with you and the rest of the family! One might say I immigrated with Radu, I suppose."

With a soft hum, Soraya wrote, "Immigrated to United States several years ago to join family in pursuit of the so-called American dream." She then raised her eyes to Nait again. "And do you ever find it difficult to adjust to life here? Are there any particular aspects of society in America that you find... challenging?"

Nait blushed a bit, and eyed his coat where it hung by the door of their suite, the crutches leaning against the wall beside it. "I find the charade a bit tiresome, I admit," he sighed ruefully. "America itself is not so bad. People are striving and hurrying a great deal more here, it seems, than in Europe. But perhaps that is because I am of earlier, slower times. I admit I do wish one could walk more instead of drive or use transit. Seating is rather uncomfortable most of the time."

Soraya laughed again. "You wish American society had better accommodations for winged individuals then?" she teased. Obviously she could hardly write that. Aloud, she spoke as she wrote, "Client has some difficulty with the American pace of life and live-to-work rather than work-to-live ideals found in his home country. Also is not fond of American culture's excessive attention to appearances."

Laughing, the Seraph nodded. "That would be kind, but so very unlikely! I might hardly expect them to accommodate merely myself, especially as I am but the only Seraph present."

"Client also wishes Americans embraced more of the green, bike-everywhere culture found in several European nations," she added belatedly. She added, as a side note, "Client feels his needs are rather unique, and as such has some difficulty with mainstream living. Perfectly understandable, given little can be done to accommodate his individual transportation needs." The redhead finished writing, rather proud of her creative-note-taking before she launched in to the meat of the interview. "Tell me, what challenges do you find during your everyday life?"

Naitachel rubbed at his chin thoughtfully, blinking as he considered that question. "I should say, attempting to run Dragon. It is not something I feel comfortable with, yet I do not yet know what I might change to alter that without burdening others further. And... I hate to say it, but helping Radu regain himself. He was not much of one to eat or care for himself before this, and now it is double the challenge to make him do so. As you yourself said, personal time is rare on top of that... which is more the difficult as I should aid him more in his recovery, or I feel I should--not less. Balancing being his mate and running things as he would have liked is not simple at all. And the charity... Perhaps I should ask Min or Lisa or Jina to aid there, as I do not think I might juggle all."

Soraya sat back and set aside her paper. "That is a lot, Naitachel," she agreed with a sigh. "You are suddenly saddled with new responsibilities that you did not ask for where others depend on you, and your own mate is not one to make the task of caring for him easy. And now the rest of what you had cared for needs to be handed off to someone else. I imagine that must be frustrating."

Blushing, Naitachel nodded, hanging his head in embarrassment and even... shame. "Admittedly, I do find it so, at least somewhat. I also... With Radu so easily tired, I seem to have to be the more aggressive one in so many ways, and it is not my nature. I do not wish to bully him into caring for himself, nor push others in Dragon as he would have..."

"The situation calls for you to reverse your roles with Radu, in a way. He is normally more aggressive, but now you have to be. And this translates to work as well. You feel as though your managerial style is different from his, and may therefore not be as effective?" the redhead inquired, ensuring this was what he meant.

Nodding again, Nait rubbed his hands together uncomfortably, tail swishing under his chair. "I fear so. I can feel... they are rather more open to being pushed than my passive ways. I am ineffective unless I be firm. I do not know what else to do, other than attempt to follow his example there."

Soraya nodded. "So you are, in effect, having to mirror someone else's countenance when it generally goes against your own," Soraya responded. "No wonder you find it difficult."

Nait sighed. "Also, well, Dragon is trying to further humanity, to aide all Mankind. That is... rather against the rules for me to help in any direct fashion. This comes uncomfortably close to doing so... I... am not certain what that means, Soraya. I..." He shut his mouth, looking dismayed.

"So this goes against your ethics, so to speak," she summarized, though she knew that was hardly a strong enough word. "You?" she prompted gently, hoping he would finish. "I will keep this out of the paper," she assured him, "this is between you and I."

Naitachel winced and looked at the floor to one side. "I... may bring down repercussions on myself. Something bad, a punishment, I fear," he whispered ever-so-softly, guiltily.

Those words alarmed the redhead indeed. "What sort of punishment?" she asked, trying to keep the edge of fear out of her voice as she sat up.

Naitachel shook his head. "I do not know. Nothing permanent, but still... it would not be comfortable. Yet for what influence I have given, I can understand why. This is... not my place. I am not supposed to be part of the play, if you will, merely a bystander."

Soraya frowned deeply at this information. "Do you not think it safest to step away from Dragon Inc., then? There is only so much looking out for others that you can do. If it becomes detrimental to you...." the redhead said, trailing off. "Mircea already lives and breathes the company. He could take over."

Naitachel blanched. "Mircea? He cannot even run his own lab half the time without throwing things at folk. I would fear for lives within the company!" he laughed, shaking his head dismissively. "And Vlad is already taking much of the burden, but too much more would be unfair to you and he both. No, I cannot see a way out. And besides, the damage is done. I do not think my punishment might be that much the worse for lingering."

The redhead opened her mouth to protest, closed it again, before restarting, "Naitachel, they made me remain in school despite everything that was happening," she said, "and Radu had a very valid point when he suggested that though we do all for our family, our family will hardly allow us to neglect ourselves for their sakes. That would be unfair to them, or, rather, to us." She shook her head and took his hand. "At least discuss it with Radu. Please?"

Naitachel squeezed her hand. "I will discuss the possibility of retiring if we might find the right person to continue it... I do not otherwise see any reason to worry him over what I cannot be certain of. He already struggles with simply regaining all that he was before... After he is fully recovered, perhaps."

"You seem rather certain to me," Soraya answered with a sigh. "And I can speak with great certainty when I say that Radu would struggle more with the idea that you were in danger of retribution and you did not speak to him on it than with the idea of you needing to step down."

Drooping a bit, Nait sighed. "You have a valid point. Very well--after he is fully recovered, then, I will mention it to him. I am not certain. I... suspect... But I am uncertain what it might be even if it does happen. It may not be so very terrible...?" he tried hopefully.

Soraya nodded. "It may not be. Perhaps you will be proverbially grounded?" she suggested, smiling encouragingly. "But the sooner you tell Radu, the better. And think, this way, you could return to your own endeavors with the children. Is that not something you want?"

Naitachel chuckled, smiling brightly again. "I do, but not at the price of subjecting others to Mircea's temper. I will take it up with Radu, I assure you... Regardless of that... is there more you need to ask me? For your session paper?"

"Mircea would certainly have the sterner approach to leading the company that you spoke of," the student counselor argued. "Really, you would be doing them a favor." Of course, at this point it was going to be like arguing with a brick wall, knowing Naitachel. And Vlad called her stubborn. She picked up her pack and said aloud as she wrote, "Client feels pressure of work and fears that upper management disapproves of current performance. Discussed options, such as delegation of responsibilities to lessen burden and increase quality of life overall. Would increase time spent with family, mainly with husband, which client seems to need. Also encouraged opening communication lines." She winked at her "client," then, before answering, "I think I can make do with what I have."

The Seraph blushed hotly, embarrassed, but smiled back sheepishly. "Well, I am glad I was of assistance. And it has helped me, as well. It helps with seeing it in truer perspective, I suppose." He stopped, then chuckled shyly. "Upper management? I should run that past Radu... He would find it amusing, I think."

"Well, then, I suppose I should feel vindicated that my skills as a counselor seem to work," she smiled, kissing Nait gently on the cheek. "Or so I hope," she then added with a curious raise of the eyebrow. She laughed, then, and thought better of it. "No need to answer that. See what Radu says," she suggested, not specifying whether she meant about this upper management or other things. "I should get to typing. I would like to be done before my own better half returns home."

Naitachel rose to give Soraya a warm hug, and chuckled quietly, eyes gleaming with amusement. "Yes, perhaps you had better. He seems quite ready for... well... recreation when he arrives, it seems." He had the grace to blush at that diplomatic way of putting it. "I do not think he would leave you much time for homework then."

Soraya looked at the seraph, mouth open for a moment before she regained her composure. "There really is no privacy amongst this family, is there?" she laughed, finally. "Thank you Nait." She hugged the seraph in return, then turned to leave with perhaps a little extra haste.

Last edited by Naitachel on Sat May 12, 2012 8:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Sad Tears, A Clean House. Empty Re: Sad Tears, A Clean House.

Post  Naitachel on Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:07 am

A typical day at Dragon Industries, it seemed... at first. The new CEO was knee-deep in files at his office, fit to drive Tara mad, for most of the day. On occasion, he called home, and could be heard singing for a half hour at a time, the sound soothing and sweet for those passing by the office, but then he was back to work, drinking water but not asking for anything else, and turning food and tea away before it could arrive...

Alexis pressed her cell phone into its case with a frown, glancing at Tara for explanation.

When night fell, the chaos in the office seemed over at long last, likely much to the secretary's relief. Instead, Naitachel sent a few employee assignment changes, and sent a text to his own family before drooping on his stool. *It is time.* The text was sent to Soraya, Vlad, and Mircea.

"I'm sorry. I guess that, with Hattie off for the night, he just decided to skip it," Tara offered. "He's not Radu, after all."

Hitting the intercom, Naitachel sounded exhausted, or maybe just world-weary... "Miss Tara... if you do not mind, I think I would like some tea tonight."

"No, he's not," Alexis agreed. "Okay, well. I'll be in the Cantina."

Soraya glanced at her phone and sighed. She wasn't sure what good she would be here, but here she was nonetheless. She exited the car in which she had been waiting and entered the building.

The Seraph rubbed the bridge of his nose, feeling his age. This was not his path, running a business. It just felt so odd. But finding who had attacked Radu, who might hurt the family again--he was buying them time. No, Naitachel had no doubts that was all he was accomplishing. Other attempts would be made. Possibly other ways. But for now... breathing space was what they needed. Time to heal, recover, think, plan... strategize their own attack... even if he was not involved in the last. Thumbing the intercom again, the Seraph added, "Miss Tara, I may be a bit late tonight, so... you may wish to depart early. I have no other needs, and no need for you to suffer late as well for nothing."

Alexis tapped on his door, nodding to Tara as she was admitted to the office.

"Are you sure?" Tara asked dubiously. "I don't mind staying to help, sir."

Vlad and Mircea entered the waiting area, noting Tara's attempt to remain. "We'll tend to him tonight, Tara," Mircea assured her. "Go on. We'll see you tomorrow."

The redhead emerged on the top floor and exited the elevators. There was a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach, though she did her best to squelch it as she approached Radu's old office. "Hello," she called to those already present, hoping she sounded much more cheerful than she felt.

Naitachel waved at her from his seat, and called through the open door, "I am certain, Miss Tara. Just a last matter to handle, thank you, and I shall be departing after, myself. So do please go on ahead." Looking up at Alexis from his seat, he smiled sadly. "What is the blend of the evening?"

"I've got a lovely chamomile and peppermint blend tonight," Alexis said to Naitachel. "And a slice of cheesecake, in case Hattie turns up."

Min approached from the stairwell, a grim look in his eyes. "Hey, sis," he offered Soraya as he approached, hearing her greeting to the others.

<Please stay outside. Mircea, I assigned the other three to Radu's old lab, if you wish to check on them,> Nait added quietly.

<Check on them?> Mircea asked. <Is there a reason you want me to prolong this for them?>

Soraya offered Min a weak smile. She took a deep breath as she stepped forward. <Have any possible bystanders been dismissed for the night?> she asked. <Including Sophia?> Somehow, the latter seemed most likely to interrupt this whole thing, as she always seemed to appear.

Vlad looked at his wife a moment, then nodded. <Why are you always so concerned with her?>

Soraya couldn't keep the look of incredulousness from her face. <You really have to ask?> she responded to Vlad.

<She's been very well behaved since the accident, hasn't she?> Vlad asked. <I thought you and she had made up.>

<Yes, but who knows how long that sense of gratitude will actually last? I just... I cannot trust her.> Soraya shrugged. <I cannot help but think of her as a snake in the grass. I feel as though she is up to something.>

Tara reluctantly gathered her things. "Family meeting, then?" she asked the growing crowd.

"Exactly. We could be here awhile." Helping her on with her coat, Min added, "Have a good night, Tara."

"Goodnight, Min," Tara replied, smiling sweetly up at him before hurrying off.

"Good night, Tara," Soraya said, perching near Tara's computer at the read. <I will tune in the moment she is gone,> she told Naitachel.

The Seraph nodded to Alexis, sniffing appreciably. "It smells wonderful. Would you mind joining me for a cup? I could use a moment of respite..." <I would like to see them before you set to work, but would rather they not run off while I speak to this one,> he told Mircea. <Soraya, I asked a friend of mine to allow you guys visual feed on Tara's computer, once she leaves. And no, Sophia is not part of this, so she need not be involved.>

The moment Tara was out of sight, Soraya hopped on to the assistant's computer and cued in to the visual feed for the group outside the office to see.

"Join you?" Alexis looked surprised, then suspicious. "I'm sorry. I'd love to, but I really do have to get back..."

"In that case, please pour me a cup. As for the cheesecake... I fear I do not have a solution for it, with Miss Hattie off tonight..." Naitachel stood slowly, and moved as if to get something by the door, crutches clicking. Once there, he sighed--and clicked the lock in place. Not that it would keep the vampires out, he knew--but her in.

"Um... sir..." Alexis backed up, moving the cart between herself and Nait. "What are you doing?"

As she watched the inevitable scene begin to unfold, Soraya almost felt sorry for the woman. It was true, she had done a terrible thing, but the fate that she had reserved for herself was a rather terrible one.

Naitachel set his crutches against the wall, and shook off his long coat finally. "I think, Miss Alexis, it is time to stop playing games, to remove all pretenses," he stated quietly, giving his wings a bit of a shake with a sigh of relief. "Heavens, but it feels so much better to stop that foolishness if only for a brief time. I get stiff under that coat for hours on end." His tail flicked like a cat's, spread to fan the feathers, then slicked neatly again.

Alexis' eyes went wide and she paled, looking as if she might faint any moment. She took a step further back. "Oh my god..."

<I wish to ask her before I allow you in,> Nait told the family sadly. <I wish to know why...>

<So long as you understand that afterward, whether she answers or not,> Mircea agreed angrily, <she is mine.>

Naitachel shook his head sadly. "Miss Alexis... you may wish to sit down?" he offered kindly, taking a bit of pity on her. "As you can see... I am hardly more human than Radu."

"What?" Alexis asked, confused, as she sank into the offered chair. "You mean, he wasn't..?" she shook her head more vehemently. "This can't be real."

On the bottom of the screen before Soraya, a text line appeared. *Resolution ok, guys?---Chris.*

Noting the text, Soraya fiddled with the arrangement a few moments before she found the proper place to input text. *Occasional lag, but video and audio quality overall are fine.*

"Chris" texted back, *Faran says hi.*

"Unfortunately, it is too real, Miss Alexis. As you may discover all too soon. I have but one simple question... Why did you harm him? Whatever had Radu done to you, that you felt he deserved such a fate?" Nait asked, golden eyes full of pain.

Alexis shook her head in earnest now. "No... I just deliver tea... that's all..."

<I understand, Mircea, much as I wish not to...> Nait shook his head and frowned slightly. "Miss Alexis... as I have told others, if you must lie to one such as I... at least be amusing and creative."

It was all Soraya could do to keep from shrinking away. "Can you both see?" she asked the vampires present, in a way just to reassure herself that though they had grown quiet, they were all still there. Vlad and Mircea nodded, glancing toward Min to assure he could as well.

"I'm not lying," Alexis protested. "I bring it in. I set it out. I take it away. I don't make it. I don't clean up after it. I just roll the cart, okay?" Of course, that doesn't mean she doesn't know who does those other things... or what or why they did it... But she's not about to admit that here.

*Hi to Faran as well,* Soraya typed back hastily.

"Chris" added, *The Kitsune Clan says they're coming out with a new CD next month with him.*

*I shall pass the news along to Naitachel. We will wait for it eagerly,* Soraya responded, though her eyes remained on the scene within.

"That is not all you do, Miss Alexis." The Seraph actually stomped his foot, for once deciding to vent a bit of his frustration. "Stop the pretenses. Do you honestly think you and I are discussing this merely because you serve tea? You tried to kill him! Why, is what I wish to know! Why do you help them? Why accept harming Radu at all? By Heavens, you are hardly helping yourself by keeping this foolishness up!"

"No, I..." She stopped, her eyes filling with tears. "They wanted a sample of his DNA. That's all was supposed to do was get that for them. A few samples, actually. So I did. I didn't think they'd really hurt him. Then..." she sobbed. "They came the night of your charity thing. They changed out the tea set. They said to just serve it like always and don't ask questions." She looked at Nait pleadingly. "I didn't think they'd kill him. I knew..." She choked on the words. "They were looking at him... they wanted his cooperation... I thought they were just... you know... I thought they were trying to find something to make him cooperate... not to kill him."

Naitachel spread his wings and glared at her, taking a deep breath and thundering in his sadness and pain, his voice taking a musical--and layered--note, "DO NOT LIE TO ME!"

Soraya leaned back in the seat and sought out Vlad's hand to steady herself. It was good that this should end tonight, and yet she couldn't help but worry that something would go wrong, or that they had missed someone, or perhaps even that somehow they were wrong. Was this right?

Alexis expression lost all semblance of humanity in that moment as she took up the cake knife from the cart and lunged at Naitachel. "Fine," she growled as she slashed. "He was too stupid to know a good merger when he heard of one... too anti-American to help his country... too selfish to share the research that would have saved the lives of countless soldiers... that's treasonous, and the penalty for treason is death. Happy now?"

Vlad took Soraya's hand, then leaned in closer to listen. At Alexis' admission he almost flew for the door. Mircea intercepted, saying , "Not yet... not until Nait's done."

"He got what he wanted," Vlad protested. "You don't think he's done?"

A wing-shoulder batted her blade aside, and he grabbed at her knife hand with his own to catch her wrist. Nait had guessed a cornered killer might try for her life physically somehow. He sighed as he sought to disarm her with decades on decades worth of self-defense experience. The golden eyes that looked down at her were sad, pitying. "No, Miss Alexis. I never feel happy for a soul lost to darkness. Radu's I can save... but yours, I fear, and those you have allied with, are beyond my hopes."

"He'll tell us when," Mircea answered.

Alexis spat into Naitachel's face, telling him, "I'm allied with the good God-fearing American soldiers. You and yours can burn in hell. Your family finds antidotes to all the major bioterrorist weapons, but does not share them. Doesn't give samples over to anyone else to study. They find breakthroughs that would strengthen our soldiers against whatever the enemies attacked with and they refused to allow that research to be looked at by our scientists. Who're they sharing it with, hmm? Who do you think they're helping here?" she demanded of Nait. "Who is it? Al Quaida, maybe?"

Naitachel actually laughed, if sadly, and stepped back. "Miss Alexis... I have been there, for there they shattered me the first time before my kin helped restore me to what you see. Where do you think I am from? I am not of this world..." Stepping back further, he tossed the confiscated knife back onto the tea table, and turned for the door. "I am a Seraph, Miss Alexis..." Unlocking it, he returned, "Perhaps you should ask why those substances were made to begin with. Your allies have no intention of saving people, child. I know. I have spoken to them, myself... and I can tell lies when they are spoken to myself." <Vlad, Mircea... she is yours. Be careful--she may have other weaponry.>

Vlad and Mircea entered the office, not needing a second invitation. "Minhea awaits you in the reception area. He'll help maintain the others while you... inquire..." Mircea told Nait, though his eyes were only for Alexis. Slowly, both bared their fangs. Mircea relished the look of terror in the girl's eyes. Still, both waited until Naitachel exited to begin their part.

Naitachel grabbed his coat and shrugged back into it, flattening wings to spine again, and picked up his crutches. He didn't turn, but clicked out, slumped and sad. He looked to Soraya, and nodded at the computer. "You may wish to cut the feed."

The moment the lock was turned the screaming began... the sound of a desperate struggle... a strange, thick gurgling sound... then nothing ...

Soraya was quick to turn off the monitor and cover her ears as the vampires entered. "Already done," she sighed. It was easy to forget how formidable her husband and his kin were when they were always so gentle with their own.

Sighing, the Seraph nodded wearily. He winced at the sounds behind them, then gestured with a crutch towards the hall. "Would you like to come for this part?" He could feel the pain... and it hurt.

The redhead shrugged, though she stood. "I do not know if like is the correct term for it." The feelings from inside were enough to disconcert even her limited empathic skills, and she found herself trembling despite her best efforts.

Min fell in step with the two silently. His expression was dark and sullen, not at all the usual for him.

Naitachel looked her over a long moment, a bit ashen himself, and started to lead the way. "It is better than staying here," he stated sorrowfully. "Come... I shan't break down yet, but I think when this is done, I shall need a good cry, preferably well away from this."

Min looked toward Nait sympathetically, but still remained quiet, deciding it might be better to keep his own counsel just this once.

Soraya nodded grimly. She would likely need a cry herself later, but she didn't feel it right to burden Naitachel with that knowledge, given his own state. "There are three more waiting," she observed quietly. Min nodded, opening the door for Naitachel and Soraya.

Pausing in the hall, Naitachel stopped to take a deep breath. "Yes, there are. And wondering why they are there..." When the door opened, he led the way in determinedly. A glance about found him a stool to perch on, and he set his crutches aside.

Min glanced at Soraya and he gestured for her to enter first, then followed, closing the door firmly behind them. Soraya entered as well and sat on another lab stool, unsure how much longer her feet would manage. "Are you going to confront them together?"

Glancing at Soraya, then Min, Naitachel shrugged. <Do you think that wise?> he asked. It was kind of what he had in mind.

<Go ahead. They may think they've the upper hand and just admit it all,> Min suggested. He didn't appear all that intimidating, usually, despite his height, in his eye liner and black leather. Nait was very feminine in appearance and Soraya was... well... female.

Karrie looked up from the huddle when they walked in, then stood, the two men standing behind her. "What is going on?" she demanded. "Why are we being held in here?"

<Perhaps we should wait for Mircea and Vlad?> Soraya suggested.

<I suppose we may as well try to set them talking while we wait. Those two may be a while...> Naitachel folded his hands in his lap. "Because you tried to harm others. The truth has come forth. All three of you were involved when that dangerous substance was placed in the vent. You killed your fellow employees here--innocents..."

Soraya shuddered at the memories of how the illness had overtaken her, how frighteningly close she had been to dying, and, even worse, to losing Vlad and other members of her family. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at the faces of those who were to blame, those who would have taken them from her, as she waited for answers.

"You're crazy," Karrie sputtered. "Look, I'm sorry for your loss, but if you're looking for scapegoats, you're really looking in the wrong place."

"No kidding," Sam agreed. "I'm outta here..." He headed for the door.

"My husband almost died. My family. Myself," Soraya finally spoke up, standing as to bar their way despite her petite frame. "How could you?"

Naitachel closed his eyes, and sighed, taking a deep breath as if asking for strength from some unknown source. "Lying, I fear... is useless. I know one too well when I hear them." Opening golden eyes, he stood and set his crutches aside. <Min, if you would please help Soraya. We cannot allow them to leave.>

Min entered silently, making it clear with his body language that nobody would be getting past him today.

"I got sick too, remember?" William pointed out. "Why would I have risked myself like that?"

"Accident, perhaps. Or perhaps to throw us off the trail," Soraya suggested with a shrug. "The fact remains that you were involved."

"Perhaps you might tell us? That is why we are here," Nait returned, shucking off his coat and not looking their way as he did so. "I truly dislike dancing around the facts of the matter when they are known to all involved."

"You need to excuse me, Doctor Prince," Sam demanded. "False imprisonment rarely goes over well in the media, or in the courts."

Slowly, Min bared his fangs, but said nothing.

"What the..." Sam stumbled backwards. "What....?"

"Indeed," Soraya sighed, advancing somewhat on Sam. "I fear this will be most unpleasant if you refuse to speak at all." She didn't say it wouldn't be any better once they did, but he didn't need to know that yet. "Who do you work for?" she asked bluntly.

"It is not false, Samuel." Naitachel shook out his wings and tail. "Attempted murder has a higher punishment, I fear. If I were you, I would not get on Minhea's bad side right now."

"I didn't release the toxin," William insisted, looking terrified as he backed behind Karrie.

The Seraph cast William a sad look. "Confess your own sins, and worry not about theirs." Shaking his head, Nait sighed. "I cannot understand how any of you have no sense of remorse for trying to kill another creature..."

"You helped conspire. Who do you work for?" the redhead asked again. It was a testament to how angry she was that she could slowly feel her control slip, her body temperature rising, if ever so slightly. That didn't happen often anymore.

"I didn't try to kill anyone," Sam stated simply. "I have never tried to kill anyone."

Nait rubbed the bridge of his nose. "That substance was hardly perfume. It was made to slay. You were involved in its use. You attempted to kill... and succeeded, as three died. Oh, for Heaven's sake, how daft do you think us?"

"Then tell us, exactly, what your parts were in this?" the redhead prodded, hoping to get them at least talking. "If we are to consider mercy on your behalf, then tell us what you did do. The longer you wait, the more you deceive, the greater the role we will assume you had."

"I didn't release the substance!" Sam growled. "I didn't try to kill anyone, I didn't release the substance, and, for the record, I helped save your ass, keeping you alive until the antidote got there, thank you very much."

Soraya peered more closely at Sam, eyes narrowed. "A situation I never would have been in had you not done what you did," she spat. She reached out and touched him, as hot as she was, and grasped his wrist strongly. "Why?"

Sam screamed at the touch, his wrist blistering beneath her hand. Karrie'd had enough. Hands in her pockets turned toward Soraya and she fired, once... twice... three times...

Nait winced away from seeing Soraya grasp Sam's wrist. To feel the man's pain was disconcerting, especially worn like this. Seeing Karrie move, however, he started--and tried extending a wing to intercept, horrified.

The redhead was blindsided by Karrie's actions. The moment she saw her move, she released Sam's wrist and ducked, though not before the second bullet hit her in the shoulder. She cried out in surprise as she fell, not fully consciously understanding what had just happened.

William grabbed a wooden chair, slamming it against the wall and holding up one "spike" and passing another to Sam, who lunged at Min's swiftly moving form, the vampire having begun to charge Karrie. The wooden "spike" drove deep into Minhea's chest, dropping him just before Karrie, who turned her gun on Naitachel.

"No!" she called out, noting Sam's movement. Soraya kicked out her legs, hoping to trip him before he hit his mark.

"We don't like being held captive, Mr. Prince. If you would be so kind as to open the door now, please?" Karrie said calmly. Sam dropped to the ground, letting go of his grasp on the spike, already embedded in the oncoming vampire. William reached down to haul Sam to his feet. "Now, Mister Prince," Karrie repeated.

Naitachel gasped as Minhea was staked, and stunned as Soraya fell, and turned to face Karrie slowly, eyes sad--but brightly determined. "Miss Karrie..." he sighed... And took a deep breath... and SANG. The note struck to the core, as bright as crystal, strong as diamond, sharp as a knife cutting into the soul, stunning as solidly as a crowbar to the head. <My apologies, Soraya... I did not give you forewarning...>

Soraya began crawling around Sam, grabbing for the spike in Min's chest and tugging at it. She ignored the pain that screamed in her shoulder and arm as she pulled with all her might on the stake, only to suddenly stop at Naitachel's note.

The stake came free just as Nait's note filled the air, stunning all present. Thick, tar black sludge oozed from the open wound, though it began to close almost immediately.

Swiftly, the Seraph lunged for Karrie's pockets, reaching in and taking the guns from numb fingers. Then he caught her by the back of the collar, pulled her over to her two companions, and left her beside them. Tucking the guns into his belt, he leapt over to Soraya, and wrapped her in a wing to hug her to his side, taking the stake from her hand. In another leap, he retreated to the far side of the lab, and ducked under wings with her protectively. "That was a fool move, I fear," he said, voice carrying in the sudden stillness.

Min's eyes fluttered and opened, shining brightly without a hint of humanity in them.

"I am sorry... but you shan't find the other side very much better than what is about to strike now..." Taking his kerchief, Nait tried to slow the bleeding of Soraya's shoulder, making certain to keep his wings and self between her and Min.

Min caught scent of his prey at the same time he spied them, huddled together, awaiting disposal, and lunged, catching Karrie first, effectively ripping her throat open devouring the blood as it spurted and gushed rhythmically from the wound.

As Min's eyes, opened, Soraya found her senses returning to her. She gasped as Naitachel began putting pressure on her shoulder and cried out involuntarily. That hurt. "Min... he will kill them," she managed, "our answers...." She knew she had been the one to unstake him, but was there a way?

The men screamed, seeking a way out, but Min slammed the body of his first kill against them, pinning them to the wall behind them, ensuring that they couldn't flee.

Feeling Minhea's pain and hunger, the pain and fear of the scientists, Soraya's agony as he held the cloth to her wound, Naitachel wept. <I can not block him, as that would risk you,> Nait told Soraya unhappily.

The redhead huddled to Nait, knowing she had no other options for survival, finally realizing how precarious her own situation was.

Vlad and Mircea broke through the door, sensing the 'death' of Min and the wounding of Vlad's wife. Vlad drew Min back, his own fangs bared as the scent of blood filled the air. Mircea loomed over the two men, letting Min keep the body he was feeding on, knowing better than to try to remove it from him yet. "Explain," Vlad demanded of the men as he held his brother tightly, his eyes going to his wife's injuries.

Soraya did what she could to block out the fear she felt from the men, as it made her all the more frightened, though she had thankfully been spared Karrie's pain thanks to Nait's note. "Are you hurt?" she asked the seraph.

Looking over his shoulder, scarlet tears on his face, Naitachel drew in his wings now that help had arrived. "No... No, I am well. She hit mere feathers, luckily." Sitting on his heels, he wiped at his eyes with one hand. "You are hit, however. We shall have to take you to hospital... I apologize--I had no idea she had a gun."

"Neither did I," Soraya answered shakily, finally working up the courage to look down at her shoulder. It was bleeding more than she had realized. "So that is what burning feels like," she commented in an almost removed tone. "But first... I want their answers."

Mircea's eyes narrowed as he addressed the men. "You heard the lady. Answers. Or we allow Min to finish feeding. I'm feeling a bit hungry myself... aren't you Vlad?"

William began to sob. "I didn't release anything, I swear it. I answered some questions. Which biotoxins we were studying. Which we'd found cures for. Which we could inoculate against ahead of time... that's it, I swear."

"So whoever did it was looking for specifically..." Soraya winced, before resuming, "things that we could cure." How very odd.

"Who did you answer those questions to?" Mircea demanded. "When and why..."

Naitachel pushed up to kneeling, using a wing-shoulder so he could keep his pressure on Soraya's wound. His eyes kept tearing--at the pain, the fear, the death... Min's hunger and need... He couldn't help it. "But you knew the plan, too..."

"I told Adam. He... he paid to know. My wife... her student loans. My daughter’s braces... the house... we needed the money..." William cried harder. "I didn't think they'd really do it. I mean… what kind of person does that?"

A cold feeling filled Nait's stomach. "Adam who...?" <I came across no such name here,> he warned the others uneasily.

Soraya grimaced. <Answers yes, but more questions come with those answers,> she sighed to the others.

"...I don't..." William shook his head. "I don't know his last name... I'm sorry... he's here sometimes... meeting with Ra..." he stopped short of saying the name of the dead.

"Shut up," Sam hissed, elbowing William HARD in the ribs.

Glancing at Mircea, Nait suggested, <Can you get an image of this man from him?>

Mircea nodded. <Archer,> he replied after a moment. <The man behind this appears to be Archer.>

<Archer? The man who tried to bully you, with that General?> Soraya asked, trying to place the name. The redhead averted her eyes, doing her best to avoid seeing the blood that splattered the room, mostly Karrie's. Not to mention the discarded body. Bile rose to her throat.

Min growled, lunging for the nearest man as he cast aside the drained body. Vlad only barely managed to contain him.

The Seraph partly opened a wing again, in case Min decided to follow the scent of Soraya’s blood.

William continued to cry softly. "You're going to kill me, aren't you?" he asked, clearly terrified.

"Shut UP," Sam barked again. To the others, he asked, "You got your confession, can't we just go now...?"

"We have not heard you, Samuel," Nait answered. "Your fate... lies in their hands, I fear." A wing indicated Vlad, Min, and Mircea. <It seems so. We shall have to be very wary...> He was not looking forward to meeting Archer again.

<Indeed,> Mircea agreed.

Reaching his free hand, Nait tried to use his influence to ease Soraya's pain and nausea.

<I am sorry,> she apologized to Naitachel. <The sight of it all...> she tried to explain, knowing this could be no easier for him.

"I don't have anything to say," Sam replied. "He sold you out... Karrie must have released the toxin..." he shrugged.

"Karrie couldn't have," William whispered, tears still streaming down his face.

Somehow, Nait doubted either man would go free. Not after all they'd witnessed now. "Samuel... please..." He glared over his shoulder, and half-sang at the man with frustrated pain, "STOP LYING!" The Seraph's demand rang with bell-like clarity through the room, making glass tremble. The lights flickered.

"No honor amongst thieves. Blame everyone else," the redhead commented, exasperatedly. Even Soraya cringed at Naitachel's note, shying away at its strength.

Mircea shook his head slowly, unable to withstand the power of the song. Vlad almost released Min, shaken by the effect.

"Karrie was down in the natural pathogen lab. Near the cantina," William told them. "She'd asked to be down there that day. I'm not sure why."

"I fear that leaves you as the culprit, Sam," Soraya pointed out.

"Dammit, William," Sam spun on the man, shoving him hard into the wall, trying to strangle him.

Wincing when he saw her cringe from him, Nait apologized to Soraya, "I am sorry..." He stood, a bit ashamed at his emotional display. He whirled when Sam began to attack William.

Mircea pulled him off easily, considering the man with the tear stained face before him.

Soraya smiled weakly at Naitachel, though found herself released from the seraph's grip as Naitachel whirled. She quickly placed her right palm onto her left shoulder and began pushing lest the new blood rile Minhea. "You truly are the worst of them," she commented to Sam.

<Karrie may have been the one who obtained the substance that was meant for Radu, then,> the Seraph reasoned.

"Rot in hell," Sam spat.

"After you, I am sure," Soraya retorted, closing her eyes against the sights she knew would be inevitable.

Nait laughed, but rather not so humorously. "How is it said? 'Been there, done that'?"

"Figured by the company you kept," Sam replied.

"I can save them, Samuel..." Nait offered quietly, eyes sad again. "But you are on your own." He arched a brow at Mircea. <I suppose any more, you shall have to rip from him yourself. If... if Soraya and I might be far away while you handle them...?> he requested.

"Just... kill me quick if you're going to... please... and..." William looked at Nait pleadingly. "Can you make sure my wife... and my daughter... they'll get the insurance, right? Call it a lab accident or something? Please?"

Soraya began shivering at the sound of William's voice. There was nothing she could do for him, she knew, as the vampires had their fates decided. Still, she reached out to Vlad, <Is there not something you can do for him? He seems.... repentant.>

Tears still stained the man's face, and he shook visibly, but William wasn't begging to live. "I'm so sorry," he whispered. "I really didn't think they'd use it against anyone..." Then he closed his eyes, prepared to die if that was to be his fate here.

The Seraph bent to help Soraya to her feet, hoping to get her out and off to the hospital. "You need not fear for your family, William... Though I apologize... your fate is up to Mircea, Vlad... and Min. I am... not a dispenser of justice. My role is but the truth."

Vlad looked at Mircea, suddenly uncertain. The man wasn't a terrorist. A spy, obviously and admittedly, but could they use that in their favor? <What about disinformation?> he asked them all, wondering if they could possibly use him for that purpose.

Mircea shoved Sam at the still feral Min, letting him do his worst, watching William as the truly guilty man was dispatched.

<We may try that avenue... Though I fear his family being used as a lever for such as he has seen of us here tonight,> Nait mused sadly. He winced sharply as Min received further prey.

Soraya groaned as Naitachel lifted her to her feet, and she found herself leaning heavily on him, partially for physical shock, but largely due to emotional shock. <It is worth a try,> she answered in the steadiest voice she could manage. She cringed again at the sounds of Min's attack on Sam removing her hand from her shoulder in favor of covering her ear, even if it was only one.

Then Mircea sighed. "William," he began quietly. "I've got two questions for you now. Answer honestly. We'll know if you're lying." He looked to Nait to be certain he understood what was needed here.

"Okay," the guilty man replied weakly, now shaking so hard his knees threatened to buckle.

Supporting Soraya with a wing, Nait grabbed at his coat. It took some wiggling and creativity to get it on without losing his support of her. Once in it, he wrapped an arm about her instead, and grabbed his crutches with the other. But he paused, to let the questions be asked, eyes flicking to William intently.

"If allowed to live, would you remain loyal to this family and this company, up to and including keeping all our secrets?" Mircea was willing to consider leniency, but only if the answers came back as he desired, and honestly so.

"I would," William answered, sincere in his answer. Oh yes, if allowed to live, he'd be their most loyal employee as long as he lived.

"If asked, would you continue to feed Archer information? " Mircea asked again.

"What? No..." William shook his head. He'd be loyal, he'd already sworn it.

"You misunderstand me," Mircea said, holding up a hand. "If we asked you to give him specific information, would you feed it to Archer?"

"Wait... you mean... like lies?" William asked, looking around for confirmation.

Soraya remained leaning on Naitachel, trying to focus on William's answers rather than Minhea. She was quietly urging the man to accept their offer, if only for the sake of his wife and daughter. Quickly, she nodded encouragingly.

Nait nodded, and glanced at Soraya in concern. He didn't like how pale she was. <This man speaks the truth, at least,> he sighed to the others.

"Indeed. You'd be welcomed to accept any compensation he offered for the information, to help you and your family. However, only the information we give you for him." Mircea waited while understanding dawned.

"Of course, sir," William agreed. "I could do that... just what you agreed to, though. Nothing else, I swear it..."

Mircea looked to Nait to see if the man was being honest.

"We do not resort to such tactics as 'Adam' and his ilk do," Nait told William gently. "Never the harming of innocents..." <He is being honest. He has no wish to be part of another plague, either.>

Feeling genuinely sorry for him, and wanting to be out of here, Soraya looked at Mircea. <Are you satisfied?> she asked him, hoping he was and that would be the end of this, at least for now.

<I am,> Mircea answered. "Tonight, there will be a terrible accident in this lab. A fire, presumably chemically created by those working in it."

William's eyes went wide. Was he to be burned to death?

"You will narrowly escape. When asked, you will say only that you three were working. Alexis arrived with the tea cart. In that moment of distraction, the experiment caught fire. You narrowly escaped," Mircea told the man.

Naitachel drew Soraya with him and moved for the door with gliding, inhuman strides, taking Mircea's answer as cue to get out of there. <Please be gentle on the man... and with Min...> "We had best go, then," he stated quietly. <Soraya is fading...>

"The door stuck," Vlad continued. "Karrie tried to shoot out the lock, to escape. It hit the person coming to let you out."

William looked at Soraya. "We should get her to help..." he whispered.

Soraya watched as Mircea spun the tale that would explain this night's events, though Naitachel began to usher her out. "I am fine," she answered at William's words, returning her hand to push on her wound. Still, she was leaning against Naitachel perhaps even more heavily as she walked.

Mircea stepped forward, lifting her easily. "Perhaps you should call Doctor Kelly," he said to Naitachel.

"I am fine," Soraya protested again.

Naitachel nodded as Mircea took Soraya from him. "For home, or the hospital?" he asked, not certain which was a wiser choice with a bullet wound. "Please, Soraya... do not you start, too, with the untruths..." He held his phone up with two fingers. "Doctor, please..." It started ringing.

Min slowly came to his senses, blinking at the destruction. "Oh gods..." he whispered, shaking his head. Leaning heavily against his brother, Vlad led him out of the lab, gesturing to William to follow.

"You have more to do here." Such as stage the fire. "You need my help," Soraya said.

"Perhaps she should set the fire before she leaves," Vlad suggested, as much as he hated to wait. "Then I'll take her to see Kelly myself... Never mind." Vlad smiled, noting Nait already calling. "I'll set the fires myself."

"They are not untruths," the redhead argued. "I could do it easily enough, just..." she said, trying to peer around Mircea for where she should aim.

"We do not do well with fires," Min reminded his brother weakly, the surge of reanimation having well and truly ebbed.

"I fear we have had an injury," Nait began hesitantly. "No, not about helping, Soraya--about being fine. You are not 'fine'. 'Fine' means you are not bleeding all over."

"We'll manage," Vlad answered.

"I could do it," William offered meekly. "I mean... I know what chemicals are in the labs. I could..." He shrugged. "I could make it convincing enough..."

"What is it?" snapped the gruff Doctor's voice. "Who's hurt, and what's wrong?" Kelly demanded sharply.

"Soraya has been shot in the shoulder," Nait told the doctor before asking Mircea, "Should we duck to cover first?"

Mircea shook his head. "Just back up." He peered in and noticed the locations of the most flammable chemicals. "There," he pointed for Soraya. "Aim there."

Soraya nodded and struggled out of Mircea's arms. She didn't want to burn him in the process. She then lifted her hand, and, with some amount of concentration, managed the task well enough. "I suggest we leave quickly," she said, "before it explodes."

Vlad drew William and Min easily into his arms as Mircea grabbed Soraya and Nait, both breaking into a run.

Nait yelped as they were scooped up, only to wince as Dr. Kelly began swearing fit to blister his ears on the phone.

Once they got them all a safe distance away, Mircea swore, dashing back in.

"Mircea!" Soraya called, released unceremoniously onto the floor. "What is he doing?" she asked incredulously, wiping her hair from her face, unknowingly leaving trails of blood there.

He returned a few moments later, covered in soot and frowning.

Groaning, the redhead leaned her back to the wall and slunk down. "What was that all about?" She returned her hand to her shoulder and began pressing again.

The Seraph moved to support Soraya again, with Mircea busy. "Heavens, are you all right, Mircea?" he asked, on seeing the soot. "Need must we take you in as well?"

"We forgot to dump Alexis and the tea cart in the room first," Vlad replied simply.

"I'm fine," Mircea growled, daring him to argue.

Soraya's hand shook as, now that they were out of the immediate situation and Naitachel's earlier calming influence ebbed, the full-force of her pain began to hit her. "Yes... Dr. Kelly can see to him as well," she suggested, gritting her teeth.

Realizing his hands weren't "fine", Mircea jammed them in his pockets and began to stalk off. He'd heal. He didn't need Dr. Kelly poking at him tonight.

"I am not going until you do," Soraya called after him stubbornly. Her lips were drawn in a hard line, though her eyes watered.

Vlad sat next to his wife, drawing her to him. "You’re going no matter what my psychotic uncle does."

Naitachel shook his head, aching emotionally. Would nobody give him the truth today? "Mircea..." he sighed. With Soraya in Vlad's hands, though... "I can go see to him. You two go ahead." At least he could ease Mircea's pain and get him a blood packet.

"He needs a doctor," the injured woman argued, though she hardly resisted Vlad's pull.

"Will someone get me my damn patient?!" the irate Doctor yelled on the phone.

Naitachel winced and addressed his phone again. "They come as soon as they may. My apologies... Please be ready." And hung up hastily.

Soraya glanced at Naitachel, then at Vlad. "Perhaps we could just do this ourselves," she suggested. "I fear his lecturing may be worse than doing so," she sighed deeply, though she began trying to stand.

Nait looked at Soraya pleadingly. "Please do not make a liar out of me," he asked.

Vlad had the car brought around and put her in it, ignoring any protests. He gestured for William and Min to get in as well. "Nait, bring my uncle, please," he called out, having the second car brought around as well.

"It seems Vlad would never do such a thing." Soraya hardly got to say any more as Vlad ushered her away and into a car.

Naitachel clicked after Mircea. "I go, I go..." At least Soraya's blood could explain his tear-marks... <Mircea... just come and have your hands wrapped, please? And a bit of blood?> he asked hopefully.

Mircea, realizing Naitachel wasn't giving up, finally stopped and turned to face him. Seeing his brother-in-law's face, though, stopped any comment he might have made. "Fine," he conceded reluctantly. "Get in the car."

Nait smiled tiredly at Mircea. "Thank you, Mircea." And the Seraph led the way for the car.

- - -

"I don't need a..." Min began only to be waved off by Vlad. "You were staked. You're covered with blood. You need a night of rest if nothing else."

"And me?" William asked, uncertain why he should be there.

"I want you close. Besides, you were just in a terrible accident. The press'll notice. Better if everyone involved can prove they were there, and seen afterward," Vlad answered. "It avoids uncomfortable questions later."

"Have you done this before?" William asked, awe and fear apparent.

Vlad smiled. "Well, we have lived a very long time," he replied vaguely.

Soraya rested her head on Vlad's shoulder, her body feeling rather heavy and tired after the day's excitement. "How will the fire get put out?" she asked. "Will the sprinkler system be enough?"

Vlad shrugged. "No doubt the fire department has been alerted. What the sprinklers can't manage, the computer will lock down and deoxygenate to contain. They'll go in, ensure it’s out and let us back in."

- - -

The car pulled into the hospital entrance reserved for their own and Colin opened the door, hurrying for a wheelchair and setting it there for Soraya's use.

"Your fangs are showing," Soraya told the vampire belatedly, satisfied by his answer that the rest of the building wouldn't burn down.

"Blood does that," Vlad replied, retracting them with some effort. Min followed suit, hiding his own with some difficulty.

Dr. Kelly was waiting for them, arms folded and frowning. He waved them past checking in with the triage nurse. "Come on back... I've a gurney with your name on it, young lady," he told them. Eying Min, he added, "You may want to take the next one. Nurse! One more, and some O-negative on hand!"

"I've... fed..." Min started to protest, weaving slightly on his feet.

Vlad steadied him. "Shut up and stop arguing," he advised his brother quietly.

"I know," Soraya answered her husband, her voice sounding strained. With some effort, she managed the shift from the car to the wheelchair, her hand remaining pushed against her shoulder as she was wheeled into a room. "Hello again, Colin. Dr. Kelley," she greeted, old chums that they were. For the sake of her family, she was trying to maintain a cheerful demeanor, but it was becoming more difficult to do so.

Kelly pointed at Min. "You." He pointed at the gurney being wheeled up. "There." Turning to Soraya, he smiled wryly. "Hello, Soraya. Never thought you'd start taking a liking to me as much as this bunch do. Lie down, and let's see what's going on... Beats last time's mess, I think."

The redhead did what she could to struggle onto the gurney, though she required assistance to complete the feat, before she laid down. "Well, at least you should appreciate the fact that I am not quite as stubborn as the rest of your patients." Which wasn't necessarily saying a lot.

"Nobody's dying this time," Min quipped, following directions, reaching to close his jacket in the hopes that the black stained hole would go overlooked.

At Kelly's gesture, his nurse set up an IV of blood for Min, and handed it to him to suck on, like a beer hat at a baseball game. She tossed a thick blanket over him with an amused smirk.

Vlad helped his wife onto the gurney, shaking his head at her efforts at independence. "You've help right here, beloved," he reminded her.

"I do," Soraya agreed. <Somehow, this conversation seems... backwards,> she teased him. <Reversed, if you will, from how it normally goes. At least this gives you a different perspective on things?>

<Indeed. Let's not do this again.> Vlad smiled. <I strongly dislike seeing you bleeding.>

<You and I both, though I bear no greater love for the sight of you injured,> Soraya answered. <Perhaps we could simply call a truce on our competition for who can sustain more injuries?>

Kelly himself poked Soraya's shoulder a bit while the same nurse went to get a blood transfusion for Soraya. "At least you get on the gurney without me having to say anything," the doctor agreed. "I almost have to kick them onto it. Can you see an old man like me having to kick one of them? I'm liable to break my foot one day."

"Yes, well, try steel-toed boots," Min quipped, closing his eyes.

"Less comments, more slurping," Kelly ordered over his shoulder at Min. Turning back to Soraya, he mused, "Mmm, I think we need an x-ray to make sure the bone's not broken or chipped. Flesh wound'll be easier to fix, of course. All right, Vlad, make yourself useful and let's get a better look."

Soraya winced as Kelly inspected her wound, though she did her best to remain still. She wasn't completely able to keep from sucking in her breath, however, or from closing her eyes tightly reflexively. "I wish I could help there. I have been trying to get Vlad to stop being so stubborn for nearly as long as I can remember, to no avail."

- - -

Kelly stuck the x-rays up for Vlad and Soraya to see. "Okay... so the bullet's not in there, and bone's still good. You're a lucky gal, Mrs. Prince. Now for the bad news--we still need to do surgery to fix what it did hit. Lots of vessels and ligaments there."

Vlad sighed, wishing for the billionth time she had his healing abilities.

Soraya blanched at that. "Surgery?" she asked. "Are you sure it would not simply... heal?" she asked. <Sorry,> she told Vlad, taking his hand as she sensed his unhappiness.

Vlad kissed her forehead gently. "I'm sorry we weren't there faster."

Kelly snorted. "Oh, it'll heal. I just intend to make sure it heals in a more useful way. And stop bleeding so much sooner. Your option, of course."

"Not your fault. You had a lot going on," Soraya whispered back, then sighed. "All right, all right, surgery it is," she relented, if only to keep from frustrating Vlad with her arguments... and to limit the amount of ammunition he had when he called her stubborn.

Vlad smiled. "I'll be here when you come back out," he assured her. "Unless you'd allow me to scrub in?" he asked Doctor Kelly.

As the IV started flowing, Soraya suddenly felt much more sleepy. Still, she held to Vlad's hand. "See you soon, then," she said groggily.

Kelly nodded, and patted Soraya's hand. "All right. You'll be fine. I fixed far worse already." He shrugged at Vlad. "Your choice. Just stay out of the way."

Vlad nodded and followed the gurney.

"Love...." she said before her eyes shut finally.

- - -

The second car arrived, and Chelsea, the driver, opened the door. Naitachel prodded Mircea with a crutch. "Walking wounded first?" he tried to laugh, in hopes of bringing spirits back up.

Mircea complied, smiling warmly at Naitachel. "If you insist." Mircea entered through their entrance and sat in the waiting area rather than approaching triage, hands still in pockets.

Naitachel followed Mircea, and walked up to triage to check his brother-in-law in. <Would you like to tell Radu, or shall I call?> he asked. He was certain his mate would like the details. He hadn't warned him of the day's plan...

<Neither!> Mircea replied, his eyes narrowing. <There is no need for him to worry right now. He's enough to deal with right now.>

Nait glanced back over a shoulder at Mircea. <I am certain he picked up on the anger and distress by now.>

A nurse waved for Naitachel and Mircea to come with her... Mircea followed silently, hands still in pockets.

"Dr. Kelly is in surgery," the nurse told Mircea and Nait. "I'm his Nurse Practitioner, Mary. So, I'm told you've hurt your hands, Mr. Prince?" She looked at Mircea expectantly.

Mircea shrugged, but didn't take his hands from his pockets. "Are you?"

Mary sighed. Seemed she'd heard about the Princes a lot from Dr. Kelly. "Would you rather wait for Dr. Kelly? It might be a couple hours..."

"They may well have healed on their own by then," Mircea pointed out.

Uncomfortable, Naitachel sighed and set to pacing a bit. The day had been full of worry, then pain and fear and death, and now they were in a whole building full of pain and fear and death. His empathy was going nuts. "Mircea, must we drag this out?" he asked. "It would be nicer to go home sooner."

Mircea's phone chose that moment to ring. Mircea frowned and answered it - a feat that could only be accomplished by removing a hand from a pocket.

"Now, pray give her the other hand as well so that you might come home," the voice on the other end said quietly. "I should like to see my husband home safely at some point, if you please."

Naitachel cast Mircea a knowing smirk.

Mary pointedly looked at Mircea's hand, then up at his eyes. "Mmmm, I see a blood drip looks useful."

Mircea hung up, raising his hands in surrender. "Very well," he agreed.

Mary laughed, and gently took Mircea's hands in hers, turning them carefully to look them over. "Well, as I said, a blood drip looks in order, and some salve and bandages to help with the pain. We'll send you home with some in case it takes longer than a few hours to heal, okay?"

Mircea nodded. "Very well."

Naitachel took the opportunity to step aside and use the sink to wash the tear-marks from his face. It felt refreshing, actually.

Mary moved to get the salve and blood herself. On returning, she passed the end of the blood IV to Mircea to sip on. "All right, let me have those hands."

Mircea held out his right hand first, his left holding the tubing which he sipped obediently, deciding cooperation might be better than another call from Radu.

Naitachel set to pacing again, crutches clicking in time like the clock.

Mary was careful not to cause more pain than necessary, efficient about bandaging them up. "Next!" Then she set to that as well. "Okay. Now, finish the packet, and you're good to go. But every last drop, or Dr. Kelly'll be calling you to blast you about wasting."

Mircea drew the contents in long, deep gulps, swallowing them quickly.

Mary turned to Nait, who stopped his pacing. "Here's the rest of the salve, and some extra bandages," she offered, handing over a bag. "I'll need you to sign him out. I don't want him using those for a few hours, to let the salve do its magic." Nait nodded, and she hurried out.

- - -

Min set the barely touched blood pouch aside, desiring sleep more than blood at this juncture. He tried not to think of the terrible things he'd just done. The memory of the blood spurting throughout the lab, more wasted on the floors and walls from the gaping wounds than actually fed upon.

The nurse for Minhea peeked behind his curtain, and smiled wryly. "Off your feed?" she teased. "Don't make me try to date you," she added.

Min opened his eyes and smiled. "Why not?" he asked, smiling tiredly. "You could be just my type."

Min's nurse winked. "But I'm O-negative, too, and you clearly don't seem interested in that," she laughed.

"I'm not attracted to the bag in the least," Min responded easily. "You, on the other hand..."

Min's nurse giggled. "So I'm not an old bag? Thank God for that, or I'd have to stick you with an IV needle. You should finish it, though--we don't want it going to waste now."

Min sighed, and picked back up the bag, sipping at it tiredly. "I'd still rather date you."

The nurse winked at Min again, and checked on his vital signs. "You still can... once you're not a patient. Rules are rules, hot stuff."

"I'm feeling much better now." Min smiled. "Let's go."

Laughing, Min's nurse poked him in the shoulder. "Not with you in those clothes. That only works for a Halloween date!"

Min laughed. "Damn. Caught that, did you?" He whispered then, "Actually, it'd work in a club I know of. I could take you sometime..."

The nurse grinned playfully. "That sounds fun! In that case, finish that off, and I'll see if Mary'll let you check out. Dr. Kelly has a standard of making certain you can walk first, though..."

"Hey, I walked in. Sort of," Min protested.

Min's nurse giggled, and patted his hand. "Sort of doesn't count. You have to move at a decent speed. He said something about fast enough not to be an easily hit target, or he'll be seeing you guys sooner than he wants to again."

"Wow. I might almost think he didn't like us," Min protested, laughing.

"Oh, he likes you guys--repeat customers, he said." Min's nurse giggled as she started cleaning up. "But it's like fixing a fancy sports car--you want it to be on the road now and then, not always in the shop."

"We're rarely in the shop," Min assured her.

The nurse smirked. "Rarer is always nicer. Who likes to see a smashed-up sports car?"

"Oh, we're a rare breed," Min replied. "Literally." Eying her appreciatively, he added. "And so are you. A very rare beauty. What was your name?"

"Anna," the nurse told Min, smiling cheerfully. "But I know you, you charmer. Or of you, I should say. We're all warned about you and Michael."

"You don't believe everything they tell you, do you?" Min asked, a wounded look on his face despite the mischievous look in his eyes.

Anna laughed and cleaned up the empty blood packet. "Nope," she admitted. "So one date won't hurt."

Min grinned, sitting up. "Great. Let's go."

- - -

Mircea stood, determined to leave right away.

Naitachel eyed the blood drip pointedly. "Finish it first. You have a bit left." <Vlad... how is Soraya?>

<She'll be all right. We're closing now,> Vlad replied.

Mircea rolled his eyes, but didn't protest, instead finishing the bag as directed.

Nait nodded silently. <Will you be staying with her?> Then, checking on Min, he smiled, feeling how he was more his usual self. <Min, ready to go home? They are letting you, yes?>

<Yes, and yes. As soon as I get this beauty's number,> Min answered.

Anna giggled, and turned to go for Mary and get his papers. "I'm off after dawn, though. It'll have to be tomorrow night--so no getting hurt tomorrow, all right?"

"Deal," Min laughed. "Where should I pick you up, and at what time?"

Anna ducked out and returned with the papers. "I'll be here, getting off shift at 7pm. We can meet at the front door this time," she teased Min.

Min took his papers, signed them and handed them back, but didn't release them. "And if I wanted to call you?" he asked holding out his phone in the other hand, an invitation for her to enter her number into it.

Anna was quick, and added it in, winking. "Go on, now. And no more holes for a while. That's fresh paint."

"Goodnight, Anna," Min said, standing and kissing her lightly upon the cheek before dashing off.

<I'll be home when I can bring her with me,> Vlad replied as if it should have been obvious.

The Seraph hid a laugh behind his hand, and turned to take the papers from Mary to sign them swiftly. <Be quick, Min. The ride leaves shortly.> Then, to Vlad, <Very well. We shall go on ahead, then. Give a call when you know when, please?>

<I will,> Vlad agreed.

"You're good to go. Bye-bye!" Mary announced.

Mircea smiled, gave a half bow, and headed for the door.

"Thank you, Mrs. Mary," Nait told the Nurse Practitioner, collecting the bag again to follow Mircea hastily.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:49 am

Naitachel slid his crutches into the holster on his motorbike and kicked the vintage machine into gear easily, smiling to himself in anticipation. Once Vlad had called to say he was bringing Soraya home, the Seraph had called ahead to Brianna about decorations, and asked Tara to order a cake sent home... and requested a few bouquets of flowers that he could bring there himself. Both were holstered with his crutches where a weapon used to be set on his vintage bike (it was a useful conversion, in his opinion, and beat the machine gun housed there before in WWII). Of course, one bouquet was for someone else convalescing at home...

Naitachel eased his bike onto the highway, flicking his helmet visor down, headed home from work. He'd been taking up the tasks of three now--with Vlad with Soraya, Radu retired, and Mircea injured and home helping Radu... The Seraph kept to the pace of other traffic, at least, not wanting another ticket, and was soon pulling off the highway, using telepathy to home in on family. <Warm... getting warmer...> It was better than a Garmin.

Back home, the house was a bustle, mainly with Brianna giving directions as though she were the one running the house. Laughing, Brianna sent out the mental equivalent of a flare. <Hurry home. It's all decorated; I think you'll like it,> she told him.

Before long, Naitachel was pulling up inside the family's garage, and his motorbike rumbled to a halt. Scooping up crutches and flowers, Naitachel clicked his way to the door and nudged it open. "I am home!" he laughed. It amused him to say that these days. <So, what have you prepared?> Nait asked Brianna cheerfully, as his co-conspirator...

Mircea looked at the enormous cake and frowned. How many people were going to be here that they needed a five tier cake?

"It's chocolate," Brianna informed Mircea with a giggle. The home itself had obviously been decorated to the taste of the girl, alternating between gaudy princess-like frill and areas of merely home-made artwork.

"Naturally," Mircea replied flatly, rolling his eyes.

Brianna bounded to Nait and began tugging for him to join them. "Uncle Nait!" she said cheerfully, "Look! Do you like it? I decorated."

The Seraph set his crutches aside and rescued the flowers from Brianna's reach, grinning brightly. It was cheerful, at least, and heart-felt, if a bit much. But the effort would be appreciated, and that was what mattered. He chuckled quietly, satisfied. "I think they will be thrilled, Brianna. Good work! Now, would you like to put these in a vase for Soraya? Perhaps by the cake?" He offered her one bouquet... "Hello, Mircea," Nait greeted his brother-in-law brightly. <How is he doing?>

"Ooooh," Brianna smiled brightly. Instead of immediately reaching for the flowers, she reached around the seraph and squeezed tightly. "You're the best, Uncle Nait!" She then selected the arrangement of assorted flowers, complete with Soraya's favorite flowers, forget-me-nots. "Could we set them on top of the cake, you think?"

Nait returned the hug one-armed, his hands occupied. "I think next to is better, lest we end up eating fallen leaves and petals," he laughed back at the child.

"I'll get a vase," the girl then offered, taking the flowers into her hands carefully.

"Here, kiddo," Tommen said, emerging into the room holding one of the many vases they'd amassed over the years, "use this."

"Thanks Tommy," the girl said, setting to the task of arranging the flowers just-so, while Tom approached Naitachel to help relieve him of more of the items he carried. "He's awake, I think. Maybe we can bring him down. I bet he'd love a little time with everyone," he suggested.

<He sleeps,> Mircea answered, frowning. <His pain worsens, but he shields well enough most of the time. I do not think the children are overly impacted yet.>

Naitachel's smile faltered as he handed the last flowers--all but the one bouquet--to Tommen. <But... I thought we had found something helpful?> He stared at Mircea, too concerned to be caught up in the levity around them right now.

"He just dozed off," Mircea corrected aloud. "Perhaps we'll bring him down later." <It affects the toxin. Kills it in fact, but I cannot isolate it. Until I can, I cannot synthesize it, meaning we can't use it.> Mircea's frown deepened.

Tom shrugged at the seraph apologetically as he carted off the items he had been handed for proper placement, then set to helping Brianna to ensure she didn't make too big a mess.

<We've something that stops the toxin from attacking further, but it does not undo the damage, nor does it kill the toxin. It only halts its progression. It is not a cure.> Mircea's eyes took on a furious caste. <He needs that cure.>

<Why must you attempt to recreate it? Why not just use it as it is?> Nait asked, concern deepening. <How much of it do you need?>

<I am uncertain there is enough, and it affects the blood as well. I am uncertain how it would affect him overall,> Mircea answered.

Michael appeared in the room and, after a glance at Naitachel and Mircea, elbowed his brother in the ribs. <What are they up to?> he asked, to which Tommen's own countenance sobered. <Beats me. Probably talking about Uncle Radu's real state.> The fact that things were worse than they wanted them to know wasn’t lost on the two elder boys, but they maintained the charade for the sakes of their sister and family. They hardly needed to worry about them at the moment.

Min entered the room, looking with concern from Michael to Tommen. <What have I missed?>

Colin opened the car door and, offering a hand to assist them, stood waiting at the door.

<Beats me,> Michael answered, making a show of straightening some errant crepe paper. <Not like anyone tells us anything around here.>

Naitachel's wings drooped under his coat, and his tail curled unhappily around his ankles. <I... I understand...> It hurt horribly, though, to be so close, yet so far from an answer, a cure. He hated to see and feel Radu suffering so. <If... let me know if there is more I might do. I suppose I might call more often from work, to sing, but by phone I am not nearly as effective...>

<I am sorry. I do what I can, but there are elements completely unknown to me in this,> Mircea answered, equally defeated. <I do not think anything more we do, short of finding this cure, will be enough.>

"Why's everyone looking so gloomy?" Brianna chimed in, before cocking her head to the side. "They're home!"

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:52 am

It felt good to be in normal clothing again, rather than hospital gowns, even if it had only been a few days. Even with a sling. "Do I pass final inspection, then?" she asked her doctor and husband, anxious to get home to her own bed.

Vlad leaned forward in answer and kissed her deeply.

Dr. Kelly looked over Soraya's charts, and nodded, adding his signature. "You're good enough. Take your meds, and wear the sling for a week. Then you can start gentle activity with it again. Vlad, you make sure of that, got it?"

Unprepared for the display, Soraya blushed at Vlad's ministrations. "I am not so sure he was listening," she answered Dr. Kelly on his behalf, grinning like a school girl.

"Of course," Vlad replied, giving his wife a look that suggested there should be no arguments. He laughed at her response. "I heard him."

Dr. Kelly tapped Vlad on the head with his clipboard, not too roughly though. "Grab the meds and the dosages from the nurse and get out of here, then. Before I jab more needles into someone. Something about the sight of you guys always gives me an urge to use you like a pincushion... I wonder why?" the doctor grumbled sarcastically.

"Can't imagine." Vlad grinned, hurrying to follow directions.

Soraya shrugged innocently. "You make it seem as though I purposefully refuse to follow directions," she protested Vlad's tone with mischief. "Pray, refrain from using Vlad as a pin cushion. It makes it rather difficult to lean against him comfortably." She smiled sweetly at the doctor, however. "Thank you Dr. Kelly," she said to prevent any retaliation in the form of a longer hospital stay. "Again. We will see you soon," she began, before realizing what she was suggesting. "On second thought, we will not see you soon. Many happy returns!"

"Few returns," Vlad corrected again. "Good day, doctor."

"Go on! Get! See me in three weeks and not a day earlier!" the doctor called after them.

Almost giddy with relief, the redhead followed after Vlad without protest. "Home! I cannot wait to see my bed. And my children." She smiled. "Not particularly in that order."

Vlad laughed. "I was wondering." He led her out to the car, pausing as Colin opened the door. "Thanks, Colin," he offered as he assisted Soraya into the car.

Soraya settled into the car seat, expecting an uneventful ride home. <Thank you, by the way,> she said to Vlad.

<For what?> Vlad asked, uncertain what he'd done.

<For being here,> Soraya answered. She knew he hardly expected her to say so, or that he would have entertained a different option, but still, she needed him to know she appreciated all he had done.

<There is nowhere I would ever choose to be,> Vlad assured her, stroking her cheek.

The car jolted hard. "I'm sorry, sir," Colin told them over the speaker.

Soraya smiled tenderly and leaned in to Vlad's touch, though she found herself nearly flying off the seat as the car jolted. "What happened?" she asked, barely managing to catch herself with her good arm.

Vlad caught her about the waist and drew her near to him.

"Pot-hole, ma'am," Colin replied. "I swerved to avoid a Chihuahua someone let run loose and hit it. I'm terribly sorry."

Soraya glanced at Vlad, a bit confused. The story seemed innocuous enough, but something felt a little odd about it. "Alright," she answered, still looking at Vlad, though she shrugged and settled in to his arms. They were, thankfully almost home.

Soraya remained pinned against Vlad, frowning. <Are you alright?> she asked him, noting he'd taken the brunt of the shock for her sake.

Vlad nodded. <Are you?>

The car pulled into the underground garage.

<Fine, I think,> Soraya answered Vlad as they pulled in to the garage. <Better now that we are home. I must simply be tired,> she suggested as an explanation for her strange suspicions.


Soraya accepted Colin's offered assistance without question, taking his hand as she began exiting the vehicle.

Vlad helped her as well, then stepped out behind her. "Thank you, Colin."

"Of course, sir. And welcome home, ma'am," Colin nodded and waited for them to go inside before leaving his post beside the door.

"Thank you," Soraya said as well, straightening, then heading toward the entrance to their home.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:02 am

"I... I will run this up to him, then," Nait told Mircea quietly, subdued. He had hoped to cheer his mate up a bit with the gift, but he was asleep anyway... <I cannot help... being of the wrong nature for this world. I am sorry.>

Brianna's call startled him. "Heavens... I shall be quick, then!" With that, Nait bounded up the stairs.

"Mommy! Daddy!" Brianna called, making to dash for the entrance before Michael grabbed her around the waist and lifted her. "We're supposed to wait here and yell 'Surprise!' remember?"

"Oh, right," Brianna answered, going somewhat limp before her brother released her. She glanced at Mircea, noting that he still seemed downtrodden, and took his hand, standing at attention.

Mircea smiled for her benefit, though it did not reach his eyes. "Surprise is it?" he asked, as if confirming the prerequisite greeting.

"Uh-huh," the girl confirmed, turning to face the room's doorway in anticipation.

Naitachel set Radu's flowers in a glass by his bedside, bent to kiss his mate's forehead, then hurried back downstairs, tail flaring open as he hopped the last steps neatly.

Whatever other troubles were going on that had Tom and Michael concerned, it was, at least, good to have their parents home safely after the constant, "mishaps," that had been plaguing them. The moment Soraya and Vlad rounded the corner, all three of their children cheered, "Surprise!"

"Welcome home!" Naitachel caroled brightly.

The reception she received was even better than Soraya could have hoped for. She smiled brightly and enveloped Brianna in as tight a hug as one arm allowed, showering the top of the girl's head with kisses. "I missed you," she told her, before repeating the performance with Tommen and Michael. "Thank you, Naitachel," Soraya finally answered, moving to hug the seraph. <How is Radu?> she asked him quietly.

The Seraph blushed, but grinned mischievously. "You are always welcome," he answered, hugging her back warmly--careful of her arm. At her other question, though, he faltered. <Resting,> he sighed, not disclosing further yet.

The redhead regarded Naitachel searchingly a few moments. His lack of a true answer was answer enough, and she sighed, wishing there was more she could do. For now, however, the best she could do was actually allow a bit of good cheer into this household. "You even got cake?" she asked, noticing for the first time the extravagant pastry. "Is it chocolate?"

"Yup!" Brianna answered, though she bounded up to Vlad to give him a welcome home hug as well, having not seen him in as long as her mother had been in the hospital.

"Need you ask?" Nait chuckled, good humor returning. "Cake seemed appropriate."

"Cake always seems appropriate," Michael responded, "especially when it's chocolate and Mom is involved."

Vlad held his daughter tightly a moment, kissed her gently atop the head, then let her go.

Min grinned. "She does have that fondness, doesn't she?"

"Hey!" Soraya protested, giving her son a playful tickle. "I never said it had to be chocolate."

Brianna returned her father's hug enthusiastically, though when he released her, she grabbed Naitachel's hand again, dragging him back toward the table. "Uncle Nait got the flowers," she informed everyone.

Soraya began looking around the room's decorations, unable to keep the warmth from seeping in. <Brianna has outdone herself in the decorating department, it seems,> she laughed inwardly. "Aren't they pretty?"

Vlad admired them, reaching out mentally for his uncle, hoping to catch a glimpse of good news on that front. <Yes, she has,> Vlad agreed.

Blushing, the Seraph admitted sheepishly, "I recruited aid from the secretary, however..." <She put a lot of effort into it,> he agreed with Soraya and Vlad.

Still oblivious to the deeper goings on, or at least seemingly so, Brianna handed Soraya the cake-cutter. "Here!"

Soraya accepted it absently, though she was smiling at Nait. "Still, it was thoughtful of you. Of all of you," she said, deeply touched. "Thank you."

"Cake!" Brianna called, echoed by a mischievous Lisa. She would have to, this once, partake in the eating of the cake.

Jina watched her niece’s antics, smiling as well. She supposed she could indulge this once.

The Seraph turned a bit more scarlet and scuffed a foot shyly, embarrassed. "Best you cut it, I suspect, lest the anticipation--and hunger--build to a more detrimental level for the cake?" he teased.

"Yes, I fear there may be a mob if I delay any longer," Soraya agreed, setting to work on making various-sized pieces based on individual preferences. Of course, for Brianna, and for Matty, she indulged in large pieces.

Matty appeared, taking one of the largest pieces and moving to the corner to eat it in silence.

Min stood watching the proceedings with a grin, just happy to see his sister-in-law up and around again.

<Why so down?> Tommen asked his uncle Matthias as he accepted one of the smaller pieces of cake, if merely for indulging his mother.

"Would you like some?" Soraya asked Naitachel with an arched eyebrow.

The Seraph shrugged. "Certainly--why not? A little bit, if you would."

Soraya indulged the seraph's request, then sat upon a nearby chair to enjoy her own generous slice. <Cake does not interfere with medications, does it? Sugar in large amounts?> she asked Vlad teasingly. "Tell me, Nait, how are things at the company? You must be harrowed, running the place by yourself."

<No love... enjoy it.> Vlad grinned.

Sitting on a chair modified for leaving space for wings and his tail, Naitachel shrugged a bit. "I manage. What else is there to do? Miss Tara has been very helpful, with the crisis over for now. There... are folk we needs much keep watch on for other reasons, I suspect, but the worst are gone now, so at least we have a respite."

"Are there?" Soraya asked, intrigued. <Who else needs to be watch and for what reasons?> she asked, frowning.

Naitachel picked at his cake with a fork. "Only a handful." <I suspect a few spy for competitors and rivals in the field, but they were not involved in either incident--neither the mass attack, nor the one on Radu.>

Hoping for more specifics, Soraya prodded further. <Anyone in particular that has you concerned?> Outwardly, Soraya beamed brightly as Brianna began relaying the story of her last few days at school and about how Jina had cast her in a minor play she was putting on for children.

<You good, Dad?> Michael asked Vlad as he brought his father his token sliver of cake. <You seem tired.>

<I'm fine,> Vlad assured his son, though he actually was kind of tired. He hadn't ventured from her side the whole time she'd been in the hospital. He didn't trust anyone to care for Soraya as he would.

Naitachel munched away at his cake distractedly. <Not so concerned as simply wary and cautious. Better to know who they are and leave such in place, lest unknowns be introduced instead. We must be simply watchful that they do not have access to anything of true importance, lest it be passed on to higher bidders.>

Soraya thought on Naitachel's words. <Meaning whoever they are, they have to be in positions that give them access to a lot of information,> she mused, biting into her own cake. It was, admittedly, delicious. That would certainly put certain individuals on the list of suspicious people, right?

Radu stood in the doorway, hand upon the IV pole, swaying slightly. He cleared his throat to alert the others he was there.

"This is delicious," the redhead beamed aloud, before Radu drew her attention. "Radu!" she greeted, standing.

"What are you doing..." Mircea scolded, grabbing a chair and pressing his brother gently into it.

Naitachel started, looking up--and was leaping over to his mate's side immediately. "Radu!" he greeted, concerned by how he looked. <Should you be up?>

"Welcome home," Radu offered Soraya and Vlad quietly, not resisting even slightly as Mircea eased him into the chair. <I cannot lay still forever,> Radu answered Naitachel, though every part of him protested even the slightest movement.

"Thank you," the redhead responded. "But we could have come to you. You should not have inconvenienced yourself this way," she said, using the mildest word she could think of.

<Or, at least, I could have come get you,> Tommen interjected quietly.

"You could have, but should not have had to. And you are never an inconvenience," Radu assured Soraya. <I have made it here well enough,> he assured Tommen. <But thank you.>

Michael affectionately slapped his father on the back. <Well, at least you look better than Uncle Radu,> he said, a half-attempt at humor he himself knew to be poor.

Naitachel colored faintly, but set a hand immediately on Radu's shoulder to try easing some of that discomfort. "Well, your timing is good, at least," he tried to cheer them up with.

Vlad frowned, but patted his son upon the back anyway. As feeble as the attempt may have been, he could not help but appreciate it.

"Or were you simply bored enough that you needed to hunt me down for more textbooks?" Soraya laughed, hoping to relieve some of the tension in the air.

"I am, in fact, out of material to read." Radu smiled.

Brianna carefully picked one of the flowers from Soraya's bouquet and gingerly brought it to Radu. "Here you go," she said quietly. It was obvious she wanted to offer more, but even her few attempts at cuddling with Radu during his time in convalescence here had seemed to tire him more than anything. She had settled into a routine of visiting and telling him about her day, occasionally acting out portions of plays or books she had read for him.

Soraya smiled as she watched Brianna's well-restrained action. "I will be sure to remedy that. In fact, I will likely need help catching up in all my work." She had, after all, missed a decent amount of school when she had gotten ill, and now a few days more. The work was piling up.

Radu accepted the flower and drew the child to him. "Thank you, dear one." He kissed her gently, then glanced at Vlad, who moved to take her from his uncle quickly, holding her close to him. "You'll come entertain me later?" he asked the child. He nodded to Soraya, closing his eyes a moment. "I will be pleased to assist you." <I shall add this to the bouquet in my room,> Radu told Naitachel. <Thank you for them.>

Soraya glanced at Vlad sadly, where from his arms, Brianna answered, "I learned Puck from A Mid-Summer Night's Dream. I'll do that for you," she said, though her manner was subdued and she merely rested her head on Vlad's shoulder, obviously working to bite back tears. Soraya smiled encouragingly in response to Radu's acquiescence, though she herself knew her books would remain firmly planted in her own room until Radu seemed able enough to actually read them for pleasure rather than work.

Mircea watched his brother a moment, then shook his head. "That's enough excitement for one day," he murmured quietly, clearly not liking what he was seeing.

The redhead reached out encouragingly to Naitachel. This must be killing him. <Are you alright?>

<I... hoped it might cheer you some,> Nait returned to Radu shyly, perching on the arm of Radu's chair so that he might easier retain physical contact--and his soothing influence. He wrapped an arm about Radu's shoulders, though it allowed him to support the man as much as soothe, if need be. Glancing at Mircea, Nait sighed... <I... will manage,> Nait returned to Soraya quietly, not meeting her eyes.

<It did. They are quite lovely.> Radu sighed. He looked to his brother and nodded acquiescence, having no strength to argue, and no real leg to stand on were he to try to.

Mircea considered going to get the wheelchair, but Radu shook his head, fearing that would alarm the children. He'd made it here on his own feet. He'd go back the same way. Radu made to stand, his expression calm enough, though the pain was etched clearly in his eyes.

Naitachel looked from one to the other, and patted Radu gently with a wing-shoulder. "Come... I will help you back up, then." He understood his mate's pride, and he would not abandon him but try to aid in his efforts to retain his dignity. The Seraph offered Radu a hand up, and a shoulder to lean on, keeping a supportive and soothing arm and wing about him.

"Good night, Radu," Soraya responded, kissing him quickly on the cheek.

Radu bade the others goodnight, and welcomed Soraya home one last time, then allowed Naitachel to "accompany" him to the room, finding himself leaning far more heavily than he'd ever admit upon the seraph for support.

Naitachel was a bit surprised, and had to use more of his strength than one would expect from him, being shorter and the smaller of the pair. Having a wing to assist helped, though, a soft embrace. "Let us get you to bed," he offered Radu quietly.

Radu lay down without protest, exhausted far more than he should have been by the simple trip from room to kitchen and back.

Soraya rose as Radu left, her own strength beginning to ebb. "I think maybe," she began before frowning. "Oh, Vlad, I think I left my purse in the car," she realized.

"It should be safe enough there," Vlad told her, "but I can get it if you want me to."

"My phone is in it," she answered, "and I need to call some classmates." It followed that their numbers were all stored within the cursed tiny device.

Vlad nodded and hurried out, only to return quickly. "Did Colin mention taking the car out again to anyone?"

"No," Soraya responded, frowning in concentration. "I do not think so."

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:06 am

The redhead peered at her husband questioningly. "Has Colin ever taken the car out for more... personal use?"

"Not that I'm aware of." Vlad frowned. He headed toward the garage again, his eyes narrowed. Something was off in this. Something felt wrong. He breathed in slowly. It was there. The scent of blood.

Curious as well, Soraya followed after Vlad. "What is it?" she asked, approaching from behind.

He took out his phone and dialed the car. Colin answered fairly quickly. Vlad spoke to him a moment, then waited. "He’s on his way back," he told her, though his expression looked troubled. He breathed in again. "He hit something," he confided in Soraya. "And it wasn't a dog."

That gave Soraya pause. "What kind of something?" The idea of what it might be made bile rise in her throat.

Vlad sniffed again. "Human... I think."

"What?!" the redhead exclaimed, feeling outright nauseous at the idea, before comprehension dawned. "That was no pothole," she said flatly.

"No," Vlad agreed. "It wasn't."

Colin pulled into the garage, the freshly washed limo gleaming in the light.

Soraya huddled closely behind Vlad, not quite sure what to think. Perhaps her mind was still sluggish from her illness, but she was having a difficult time truly grasping what this meant. "He cleaned the car," she observed. That sealed his guilt, in her eyes.

"It was due for a cleaning," Colin admitted. "I just thought I'd see to it if we were done with errands today." He reached inside and took out Soraya's purse. "Sorry for missing that, ma'am."

"What did you hit, Colin?" Vlad asked without preamble.

Unsure of what else to do, Soraya reached to collect her purse, mouth dry. She feared the answer.

Colin's eyes widened for the barest second before he stammered, "A pothole... remember... I told you."

Vlad's eyes narrowed. "Potholes do not bleed, Colin."

"It is best you simply tell the truth, Colin," Soraya chimed in. "The more you lie, the worse things seem... and your punishment grows as well."

"Punishment?" Colin sputtered. "For what? I haven't done anything. I swerved... I missed it... I'm sure I missed it. It was just a pothole!" He sounded as if he were trying to convince himself more than them.

Soraya glanced up at Vlad, knowing she lacked his powers of persuasion. "What exactly did you swerve to miss?" she asked carefully. "Besides the pothole."

"The road was so dark. I didn't see them there..." Colin began. "But I went back... they weren't there, so they must be okay..."

"They?" Soraya nudged further. "Who is 'they?'"

Colin blanched. "I think... maybe..." he began nervously. "Remember the night of the ball? But I had to have missed them," he protested loudly. "Or at least, not hit them bad. I mean. They left. They weren't there. And I did hit the pothole right after," Colin further defended. "That was true."

"Those two boys?" Soraya squeaked, bringing her hand to her mouth in shock. "Colin! That is terrible!" She honestly didn't know what else to say, though the words were far from adequate. "And you chose to drive on? To pretend it had not happened...?" She frowned, then, stopping short. <He is still lying about something,> she told Vlad. She was no Naitachel, but when one lied so openly, she could still smell out dishonesty.

"I didn't want the two of you caught in scandal," Colin protested. "You were ill and needed to be home. I was only minutes away and I went back."

<Would Trancing him help?> she suggested, unsure of exactly how to proceed. She was no interrogator.

Vlad's voice took on a strange, haunting tone as he looked Colin in the eye and demanded, "Tell me the truth. Now."

Soraya's eyes narrowed as she awaited Colin's answer.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:09 am

Naitachel fussed over his mate, tucking him in neatly before sitting on the edge of the bed beside him. "Do you wish me to sing for you?" he offered, in hopes of removing some of the pain.

Radu sighed. "I think perhaps it's time to let go," he told Naitachel.

Golden eyes grew shadowed at the very idea, then dampened with bloody tears. "Radu... You should break their hearts, even suggesting so. Mircea--would he even continue, thinking he failed you like this? If you go, I fear you shall not go alone..." <I would go, too.>

"He does not rest," Radu whispered, his voice thick with emotion. "He blames himself. Every day he sees me this way... it tortures him..." <You could help each other through this.>

"Less so than failing you would," Nait reasoned. <I cannot remain in this plane, knowing you were in torment. I simply... cannot. To do so would not only break my heart, but be failing them, allowing you to exist so.>

Radu swallowed hard, closing his eyes. "He has not failed me," he whispered sadly.

"And he fights so as not to," Nait pointed out firmly. "This is not over yet. But if you go..." He paused, and swallowed uneasily, reaching up to wipe away a tear before it could fall, "then I do as well. And I shan't return to this world."

Radu nodded weakly, knowing Naitachel could not lie. This anguish could not simply be allowed to end.

Nait reached out and squeezed Radu's hand. "I hate to see you suffering so, but I have nothing better to offer you..." the Seraph told him, not noticing more tears following the first in his sorrow. "But better here, than there..."

Radu sighed, nodding. <Forgive me my weakness, beloved. I yield to your wisdom.>

Naitachel sniffled, wiping at dripping tears with the back of a hand blindly. <Wisdom, or tears?> he asked, trying to make a joke of it. <Though I do not mind either allowing me to win this argument.>

<Perhaps a bit of both,> Radu admitted, his voice fading as exhaustion claimed him again.

<Rest, love... I shall try to dampen your pain as best I can...> Nait told Radu, wiping remaining tears away before starting a soft song. It was all he could do right now.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:18 am

"It's your own fault. They've waited for a chance to access that research for so long. If you and your uncles would have just given it to them," Colin answered flatly. "They've been looking for the original prototype. When they saw the picture, they told me to find him. Disable him. Bring him to them. But he wasn't there. They younger one must have moved him somehow."

<What?> Soraya asked Vlad, confused. <What is the... prototype?> She found herself suddenly dismayed at the possibilities. Just what kind of research had they been doing at DI? What was it that had kept Vlad so busy. She had never thought it possible of anyone in her family, but this one was Tranced...

Vlad looked as confused as Soraya, though. "What do you mean, prototype. Explain," he insisted, that odd tone still present in his voice.

Colin looked lost. "That’s what they called him. The original prototype. And they want him. They've hunted him for years..."

The redhead looked at Vlad, puzzlement written all over her features. "The prototype of what?" The problem was that she had no idea of even what the right questions were to ask to get the answers she wanted.

"The supersoldier," Colin answered, unable to stop himself. "Greater intellect. Faster reflexes. Sharper senses. Deadly skills. He even heals faster."

<Sound like anyone you know?> the redhead asked Vlad. All the things listed were oddly reminiscent of her own family members. But which of her family members would be so bold as to do genetic experimentation with their own genes? She was finding it rather difficult to believe.

<We haven't done any research like that. We pulled out of the partnership with the government and Renault-DuBois when talk of militarized research reached us. We're not making soldiers,> Vlad assured her.

<They seem to think you are,> Soraya said tartly, though her frustration was aimed at this puzzle, not at her husband. <Could this be related to the attack on Radu?>

Vlad's eyes went wide. "Who are 'they' Colin? The ones who want the research? Who are you really working for?"

"The United States of America," Colin answered as if it should have been obvious.

<So that general that appeared, when Sophia interrupted us...> Soraya suggested, trying to remember his name. He seemed a likely suspect. "Specifically. Who do you answer to. Give. Me. Names." Vlad pushed harder.

"Dr. Jenna Correlli. Dr. Wallace Pritchard. Dr. Adam Archer. And..." he stopped, struggling to say the last name. It was as if he were suddenly strangling on it.

<Names!!!!> Soraya yelped suddenly to Naitachel. <We may have found out their names!> "What is wrong with him?" Soraya hissed to Vlad, watching Colin apprehensively.

Colin continued to try to tell them, needing to obey, but try as he might he simply could not seem to say the name. Instead, he began to turn an alarming shade of blue.

Naitachel's song stopped, and he started, straightening. <Names...? For who? What?>

<Of those who may be responsible for all of this,> Soraya said, hardly thinking that, "all of this," needed any explanation. <Colin, it seems, was one of their agents.>

The Seraph cast about, trying to figure out what was going on, and leapt to his feet on noticing them--and Colin--below. <Heavens--stop him, before he breaks!> he cried in alarm, racing through the house.

<Vlad, stop,> Soraya called. <We cannot interrogate him if he is dead.>

"Stop, Colin. Breathe. Do not try to speak." Vlad gave in, but only because Soraya insisted. For him, this was still far too kind an end for the traitor in their midst. <We need to go look for a wounded boy. Possibly two,> he told Naitachel. <The sun rises in but a few hours.> He moved to inspect the grill of the car, noting that not all the blood was washed away. <I'm not sure he has that long.>

The door to the garage burst open as Naitachel dashed in. <Give me those names again, Soraya,> he asked, gasping for breath and studying Colin intently. He reached a hand to touch and see if he could determine what was thwarting the man from revealing more...

Soraya thought back a few moments, trying to recall... "Dr. Correlli, Jen something, Dr. Pritchard, and Dr. Archer," she listed.

<We will need Min, Michael, Tommen...> Nait suggested to Vlad. <Everyone we can...> "Colin... was the last General Taggert? Just nod if so..." The man's eyes bugged. He wanted to comply. He really did, but his body suddenly refused to move. He stood there stiff and silent, utterly helpless before them.

Soraya watched Colin at that question. "I think that is answer enough," she pointed out at the sudden distress he displayed. The fact that he reacted this way suggested he had been specifically made not to release Taggert's name. If it had been another, he likely would simply have shaken his head.

Min and Mircea were neck and neck rushing into the room, Matty just on their heels. Tommen and Michael followed after as well.

"Ahhh," Nait sighed, allowing emotion to speak the answer. "Thank you, Colin. You may relax." Naitachel withdrew his hand, frowning. "I did warn the man his soul was damned... Were that I knew then how very much so..."

"I will take him inside, secure him until you return," Soraya suggested, knowing that even if she were not yet weakened, she would be of little help on the search in the middle of the night. She could not, however, guarantee that Mircea wouldn't be allowed in the room with him.

Stepping back, Nait sighed. "We have a rescue to make, and this one to... determine the fate of." He shook his head at Soraya. "One-handed, you wish to restrain him? Someone should aid you..."

Vlad looked from her to Colin then smiled slowly. "If he gives you any problems... simply demand he speak the name he omitted and let him suffocate."

"He will be tame enough, if Vlad tells him to heed my directions."

Vlad did so, pushing harder than he ever had to ensure there would be compliance. "Feel free to order him off the roof," he told his wife, kissing her upon her brow.

"If it comes to it, I will simply summon Mircea."

Colin's eyes went wide with fear.

"Good luck," Soraya called, waving Colin to her as she retreated to the house, determined to, for once, listen to Doctor's orders. At least for now. For a while. Maybe.

Naitachel winced at both suggestions. "He may still be more useful alive?" he asked, though not with much hope.

<Relax, I said if it comes to it,> she sent Naitachel. <Be safe,> Soraya sent Vlad and their sons.

"Continue your research, uncle," Vlad told Mircea gently. "We'll see to Colin's... mishap."

Mircea frowned, then looked alarmed. "What has he done?"

"I shall help you search, if you guide me to the right area," Nait offered.

"We've no time to explain now," Vlad answered apologetically. "When we return..." With that, he moved out with the others,

<I'll guide you,> Vlad assured him. <The rest of us will head that way on foot, then fan out.>

<Thank you,> he told Soraya gratefully. "He struck two boys with the car..." Nait called back to Mircea. "That is all I know thus far..." Dashing out after them, he spread his wings and took to the air. <Please do, Vlad...>

Mircea headed back toward the lab before the thought struck him. Surely not... but why else would those names be associated with this act. Could it be? The other vampires were already out, searching for the wounded youths.

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Post  Naitachel on Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:30 am

Naitachel beat his wings for height, praying that there would be no low-flying planes or helicopters this early. He hoped to not be noticed, or worse, be forced to dodge.

Vlad stopped first where the incident occurred, kneeling to inspect the blood on the walkway. <Here, Naitachel. This is our starting point,> he called to his uncle's mate.

<Thank you!> Naitachel dropped to follow one nearby alleyway at a time, scanning it carefully with eyes and other senses. He couldn't drop his shields entirely here--New York was almost deadly with the sheer amount of emotion within it, to an unshielded empath. At the end of the third alley was another small pool of blood. Splatter led off to the right, a bright red trail to follow. <This way!> Nait called to the others, swooping a bit lower, carefully following the trail...

A light blue suburban pulled up swiftly, squealing to a halt at the corner two blocks ahead of them. A muscular blonde jumped out of the driver’s seat, looking around in apparent desperation.

The vampires converged on Naitachel's position, moving ahead. <Who is that?> Min asked, hurrying forward toward the newcomer to the scene.

<We may wish to find out. If it is one of those names...> Nait warned... The Seraph carefully pulled up, so as to stay above line-of-sight and hopefully unnoticed, not even daring to flap lest the sound catch attention. <Be careful, Min...>

Min reached him first, spinning the man toward him.

"Where are they?" the blond demanded, pushing back against the vampire angrily. "I swear to God, if you hurt them..."

"Whoa, back up," Min answered, confused. "Who are you and why are you looking for them?" he asked.

The blond stepped back. "Mac," he replied. "Patrick McEntire. Little guy called me... now you..."

Meanwhile, Naitachel glided, circling, trying to find where the trail led... Thank God the pavement and brickwork was so good at retaining heat. It let him float easier than over forest.

"Can we do this after we find them?" Vlad demanded, following the trail.

The blond wasted no time, grabbing his flashlight and taking up the trail himself. <One of the boys called him...? Can he call back? We can follow the ringtone...> Nait suggested.

Min nodded, then moved alongside Mac. "Call him back," he told him.

Mac looked into every dark corner. "What?" he asked, before the reason dawned on him. "Oh... damn... of course," he sputtered, dialing the number. The Pokemon theme song rang out merrily from the darkest corner a short ways ahead. Mac broke into a run. "Hang on," he spoke into the phone when the ringing stopped. "I'm right here. I've got you."

Naitachel swept over to a dark corner nearby, then folded his wings tightly and dropped like a stone, landing in a crouch. "How bad are they?" he called softly. <We may need Dr. Kelly...>

They converged on the corner together, but the vampires let Mac approach first, supposing the friend would frighten them less than the rest of them. "Shit..." the blonde hissed as he knelt beside them.

The young blonde sobbed softly. "We couldn't go no more," he whispered. "He got tired... so we're resting now..."

Naitachel started, recognizing that voice. He glanced at Vlad in alarm. <Those two?> he asked, horrified. <They were hurt by Colin?!>

"I'm gonna get you to someplace safe," Mac promised him, looking him over quickly before moving to aid the dark haired boy. "Just hang in there, kiddo," he urged as he took off his coat, pillowing it under the boys head. Mac looked back at the others gathered there. "I don't know who you guys are, but here's the deal. I gotta get them help, and I need it to be kept quiet, so you're either going to pitch in or take off. Got it?"

"No hospitals," the young blonde whispered, remembering the rules. "They ask questions..."

"I know kid..." Mac assured him. "I got it..."

<Aren't those the two from the other night? When the car broke down?> Vlad asked.

<Yes,> Nait agreed, worried. <So I do not know how they will feel about us meeting again...> "How about a close-mouthed doctor?" he offered. <Well, Dr. Kelly does do house-calls... Why did he hit them? I do not understand,> Nait asked Vlad.

<I don't either,> Vlad admitted before quickly recounting Colin's tale.

"There's a clinic nearby, but I think they'll still ask questions," Mac thought out loud. He shook his head. "Let's get them back to my place for now. Get them cleaned up. Maybe it's not as bad as it looks..."

The young boy, upon hearing Naitachel's voice, seemed to panic.

The Seraph hesitated a moment, then stepped closer, sighing slightly. There would be no hiding that his crutches were a ruse, that he simply walked... weird. "Dr. Kelly does... house calls for odd folk, you could say," he repeated, daring to step where he might be seen. "I do apologize. I had no notion we might cross paths again."

"What's wrong kid," Mac asked, before realizing the trigger. "Why would he be scared of you people?" Then he caught a glimpse of Nait. "Whoa! What the hell are you?" Mac stood, placing his well-muscled frame between them and the kids.

"We can discuss this after we've got them help," Min urged. "You said something about taking them to your place?"

"Not of Hell," Nait quipped wryly, sheepishly. "We met before, when they needed a place to hide, but... someone there took offense, and created a scandal, adding them into it. Please, let us first see what might be done, before he worsens?" Nait agreed with Min. "Waiting does not seem wise."

"He's still bleeding," the tiny one cried, confirming their suspicion.

Mac swore colorfully and moved to lift the elder. "Can you make it to the car without help?" he asked the younger one.

"One of us can carry you, if need be," Nait offered Zack quietly.

"Wait... be careful how you do that," Vlad urged, moving forward. "You'll want to support his back and neck. Min, give us a hand."

The tiny boy stood, shaking his head. "He pushed me," he whispered.

Nait offered the young boy a hand gently. "He was brave to do so. Come, let us find him aid and comfort," he suggested.

Min took off his long coat, gesturing for the others to take positions on each side as he eased it beneath the boy, using it like a make-shift sling gurney. "On three," he said. "One... two... three..." They lifted together, and the barely conscious boy cried out.

Naitachel glanced over at the others sharply at the other boy's cry, concerned. "Do you need my help?" he asked them. If that one was suffering...

Min nodded as they carried him toward Mac's vehicle. "Lay the seats down," Mac told them, trying to jostle the youth as little as possible. The younger boy scrambled to put the seats down, watching wide-eyed as they carried his brother toward him.

Naitachel let the younger one go, and reached a hand to lightly touch the older boy, eyes narrowing as he concentrated on trying to ease the pain, much as he had Radu often enough before with a touch. He wasn't sure singing was wise right now.

The boy coughed weakly. His breathing wet and painful.

"Easy now," Mac urged as he slid him across the seats. "You'll want to send someone back for your cars if you're riding with me," he told the others, assuming they had to have one close by somewhere. "This is the wrong place to leave them unattended too long." Once he was sure the boys were settled in, he headed for the driver’s seat, assuming the others would settle themselves.

"Heavens," Nait breathed. "We will likely need Dr. Kelly. Mr. McEntire, where are we headed?" The Seraph managed to find a spot to sit, albeit uncomfortably with trying to fit tail and wings with him. "Vlad, if you wish to dial? I left my gloves at home."

Vlad and Min flanked the youths. Vlad took the phone, shifting so Nait could ride beside him.

"272 Sackett. Above the shop," the blond human answered, driving as quickly as he dared without jostling his precious cargo.

Vlad dialed Dr. Kelley and waited, hoping the good doctor was available.

"What the hell do you stiffs want now?" came the sharp answer on the phone. "I can't take a piss without one of you getting hurt again?"

"Not us. A boy, teens. Hit and run. He needs help and it needs to stay off the books," Vlad answered.

There was grumbling at the other end of the line, and stuff rustling. "Fine. You bringing him in, or we meeting somewhere?"

"272 Sackett," Vlad answered. "Above the shop."

Mac and Min took hold of the coat, easing the boy out of the Suburban and up the stairs to the apartment as quickly and carefully as they could. "Keys are on the ring," Mac told the tiny one. "Go open it up."

Naitachel followed as closely as he could, trying to keep one hand on the injured boy.

"One of these days, I need to get me a good intern to keep up with you lot. My old bones hate this," Dr. Kelly grumbled. "Bad?"

They moved into a tiny, shabby but clean one bedroom apartment. "Really bad," Vlad answered honestly.

Vlad could hear the scratching of paper as Dr. Kelly wrote it down. "What blood type?" the man added.

Vlad inhaled deeply, then answered, "AB negative. And lots of it." The tiny boy opened the bedroom door and they moved him onto the bed.

"Got it. Five minutes, and keep 'em going until I get there with Mary." Dr. Kelly hung up without even a goodbye.

Nait knelt beside the bed, keeping contact and trying to ease the pain. He gently poked the older boy's shields. <Help is coming. Keep breathing...>

Vlad hung up and hurried to check on the boy. Min was already working, sending the younger one to help get clean warm water, cloths and towels. The older youth protested as Min tried to remove his coat. <Let him take it. You need help,> Nait told the older boy soothingly. <It will not go far.>

"Come on, kid," Mac urged the youth, "I won't let it out the door, I swear."

Min tried again, peeling off the layers of clothes to get to the wounds. Jacket. Turtleneck. Thick shirt. Tee shirt. Tank top... The boy’s entire body was crisscrossed with thick scars.

"Heavens, Russian dolls wear less," the Seraph observed, arching his brows at it all.

"He gets cold," the younger boy said as if it explained everything. He placed the warm water, wash clothes, and towels nearby.

A truck rumbled up, and two doors slammed outside. Someone stomped up the stairs, lighter feet behind. A sudden knock. "Open the damn door, Vlad--got our hands full here," Dr. Kelly growled.

Vlad opened the door quickly. "In the bedroom," he directed them without preamble.

One rib protruded through the skin, though more were obviously broken. Heavy bruising along that side of his body, and road burns all the way down his back told the story of one who was struck hard by a reasonably fast moving vehicle, to hit hard and slide along the pavement on his back. He coughed weakly again, that thick wet sound making Mac wince for him.

Dr. Kelly arched a brow, then strode for the bedroom, setting kit down on the nearest table. Mary, his nurse, simply started setting up what was needed to sterilize and do any surgery. "Everyone move," the doctor growled, leaning over the injured boy. He poked lightly, gently in spots, and avoided others... "Damn lucky he didn't hit his head, too... Clear out, the lot of you. Mary--portable x-ray unit."

"Come on, kiddo," Mac urged the littler one. "Let's get you settled on the couch, okay?" The others moved back out of the way but waited, in case their help should be needed. The tiny one shook visibly, his honey colored eyes looking haunted.

Naitachel got up and backed out as well, having no room to remain there.

The older boy's pale crystal blue eyes grew heavy, though he struggled to remain awake. He gasped sharply as the doctor examined him, but made no other sounds.

Dr. Kelly and Mary were fast, efficient, and surprisingly nearly painless, slipping screens under the boy easily, using the x-ray machine, slipping them out, checking ribs, spine, pelvis, virtually everything that hinted at being injured. Dr. Kelly took them to the bathroom to look them over in brighter light, frowned, and pointed. "Vlad, scrub up with Mary and me. Min, get the blood going on him and IV fluids, then add in that bottle there--anesthetic. Should do fine enough, and Vlad can keep tabs while we work. Rest of you, move out. Gonna fix those ribs and that lung first."

Vlad and Min moved swiftly, following Dr. Kelly's orders without question.

Naitachel sat by the younger boy, and reached out to offer a hand to clasp. "He will be all right," the Seraph assured gently.

The younger boy nodded slowly. "He don't like doctors," he confided.

Dr. Kelly was the epitome of brisk, speedy, skilled efficiency. He truly was a whiz of medicine, knowing where corners could be cut to speedily stabilize and secure bad injuries, and when to take more effort to make doubly certain things were repaired.

Vlad, for all his skill, remained in awe of the good doctor's talent.

Naitachel chuckled softly. "I do not think Dr. Kelly will mind if he does not like him."

"He's going to tell. He has to," the boy whispered. "And they'll lock him up again and send me away." Enormous tears rolled down his cheeks at that thought.

"Dr. Kelly will not tell," Naitachel chuckled. "He is my doctor, as well as for all of us. As... you might guess, we have plenty to hide, ourselves."

"Wings is hard to hide I bet," the boy agreed, though he didn't seem overly fazed by them.

Naitachel nodded to the younger boy. "Wings are rather difficult, I must agree. I would rather no others know of them, if you will?"

"Who’d believe it?" the boy asked, with a shrug. "'Sides, we don't tell secrets."

"Vlad, how's he holding," Dr. Kelly demanded, finishing up on the lung.

"He's holding," Vlad replied, shaking his head. There'd been a light dip in the boy’s stats, but nothing unexpected or overly worrisome, given the extent of his injuries. Min looked at the boy and shook his head. He definitely looked like one of their own. But whose?

Dr. Kelly finished off with the punctured lung, setting broken ribs, pinning a broken hip and setting screws to hold a broken pelvis, not to mention stopping the bleeding of liver lacerations and the internal abdomen. Thank God for medical technology and the latest advances in minimally invasive surgery--the bone setting would leave more scars of note, but the rest was mere small incisions. He left a drain tube in the boy's side for the lung to get rid of the residual blood. "There. Done." Straightening, the Doctor cracked his own back and grumbled as he pulled off bloody gloves, "Bed rest for six weeks, bathroom privileges only. Drain stays until nothing left, then just pull."

"The bad men could find us," the boy told Nait. "We can't stay here now, can we...?" It was more a statement than a question.

Dipping his head in a formal thank you, Nait smiled. "Thank you. As for where to go..." He glanced at the others, hoping for suggestions. <We have spies in our midst. Heavens only know if they realize yet Radu lives... so we cannot bring them home with us...>

"We'll have to assign someone to keep watch," Min reminded Vlad. "I suspect if we don't he'll run before he's done healing." Min slowly brought him up from the anesthetic.

<Do you think their friend here'll let them stay with him?> Vlad asked Nait.

"This may be safer than anywhere else," Nait told the younger boy quietly. <Can we lay some sort of false trail? Or several?> he asked. <Vlad... we need to find out what Colin told them. Radu might be in greater danger than ever before--we all may be.>

"You can stay here as long as you want," Mac assured the tiny one. "Anyone wanting to get to you'll have to go through me first. And the Chases I'll bet. You're safe, kiddo." He ruffled the little blonde's hair. "No worries, 'kay?"

"We got anyone we can spare to keep around here?" Vlad asked Kelly. "We wouldn't want him to undo all your fancy work here."

Dr. Kelly glanced at Mary, who smiled and nodded. "Sure, sweetie," she agreed. Then she winked at Min. "So much for our date tomorrow night."

"Maybe I'll hang out here with you," Min answered with a wink, though his expression seemed uncharacteristically serious. The worry in his eyes was genuine.

"She cooks a damn good pot-roast," the doctor told them as they cleaned up. He took a pen and paper and jotted down a number, setting it in front of Patrick. "That's my number. Memorize it and lose it."

"When do you want to follow up?" Vlad asked Kelly.

Dr. Kelly frowned, squinted at the patient a moment, then murmured, "Three weeks. Make sure stuff's healing right. Until then, leaving the antibiotics and some pain killers and vitamins. Mary'll jot down the dosage. Any changes, you get me."

"Come on, kiddo." Mac brought extra pillows and blankets and set them out upon the couch. "Time to lay down and sleep."

"Not sleepy," the young one argued, stifling a yawn.

"Yeah, I noticed," Mac smiled sadly. Sitting nearby, he patted the boy's shoulder gently. "Try anyway. I'll be right here watching you both... you'll be safe here." Mac took the doctor’s number, looking at it, committing it to memory, then nodded as he tore it up. "Got it."

"He don't like pills," the little blonde said sleepily. "An' he runs hot. Burns through everything fast..."

Mary smiled at Min. "Well, a little company isn't bad, but you're on the clock then, too." She nodded at the little boy. "There's ways to dissolve them, too. Like applesauce or milk."

"Maybe..." the boy answered uncertainly.

"He'll take them," Mac assured them. "I'll make sure."

"We'll have to find something he'll swallow. Let's see what he decides on when he wakes up. It's that or put it in his IVs," Mary said.

"I think it is time the rest of us go, however," Nait informed his family. <We have unfinished business.>

Vlad and Min nodded. "We’ll check back," Vlad assured Mac as he ushered his own out the door.

Naitachel gave the young boy's hand a squeeze, and rose to head out with the rest. "Goodnight. And thank you, Mr. McEntire."

Mac nodded. "Thank you," he replied. "They're good kids. Kinda get under your skin, you know? Thanks for helping me help them."

Nait nodded and smiled. "We will be in touch." With that, he joined the rest outside, crouched, and leapt up, wings snapping open to head home. <Anyone need a ride?>

<Nah,> Vlad answered. <We'll get ourselves home. Meet you there!> The vampires took off at top speed then, hurrying to get home.

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Post  Naitachel on Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:56 pm

While some of the family was racing to save the life of an injured boy, home was a good bit quieter now. The prisoner stood in the main room, eyeing Soraya uneasily, his fate not quite determined yet though his true nature revealed. In another room, they still had a man down. Luckily, Mircea was still around, and Michael and Tommen and Brianna--just in case they were needed. And the rest were on their way...

Soraya sat in the chair, laptop in front of her as she typed furiously. She had reports due. "Hand me the third book down," she told Colin absently. This after she had instructed the Tranced traitor to stand at attention near her. Holding five of her largest textbooks, to which she would be referring frequently during this report-writing. While standing on one foot. "And once you have handed me that book, raise your right hand over your head," she said absently.

Colin followed the direction, his eyes watering at the discomfort him muscles were experiencing. <Are you quite certain I cannot assist you?> Mircea asked her yet again.

Soraya kept typing, hardly noticing Colin's discomfort. After all, he had been close to them, and betrayed her family. She had even, on more than one occasion, entrusted her children's lives to him, such as when he drove Brianna to theater practice. She was not in a forgiving mood. As far as she was concerned, he deserved worse. Thankfully, she didn't have the stomach for worse. <I have it,> she answered Mircea absently. <He is being well-behaved. Any news on their return?>

<They have found the young man Colin hit. There is another there assisting them. Doctor Kelly will be meeting them somewhere to tend to him,> Mircea replied. <I can give you the location if you would meet them. I am willing to see to the traitor.>

<So he is all right, then?> she asked, relieved. "Here, take the third, and give me that top book, then resume your previous position."

<Actually, he is being quite useful. I never have enough desk space. It is more efficient this way, and I really do need to get this report written,> she answered Mircea, still rather matter-of-fact about the whole thing.

<No. But he is alive. They must work quickly if they are to keep him that way, however,> Mircea answered.

The redhead frowned at Mircea's news. "Hop up and down." Colin began to hop up and down, still on one leg, holding the books in one hand while the other remained above his head. He was rapidly beginning to turn a rather alarming shade of red. Soraya favored the young man with a sidelong look. "You can switch arms and legs. Left arm up, right leg down," she said, taking a small pity on him. Quickly, Collin complied.

Naitachel finally mentally nudged Mircea, his own mind distant yet very worried. <We return... Is everyone safe?>

<Despite my best efforts, yes,> Mircea responded to Naitachel. <Kelly has just finished surgery on the boy. The others are on their way home,> Mircea announced at last.

<I am glad surgery is done, though I admit I am rather enjoying having someone to follow my every whim. Pity to lose him,> the redhead said.

<I am certain we can hire an assistant for you,> Mircea assured her.

<But would an assistant hold all of my books in one hand, hold the other hand over his head, and jump up and down on one foot without complaining?> she pointed out wryly.

<We need to know how much he told them about us--what they know. If they know Radu yet lives...!> The Seraph was fearful for them all, considering how much might be known.

<Were it a prerequisite and the payment sufficient, I am certain someone would.> Mircea sounded amused. <However, we've a question you need ask him.> He relayed Naitachel's concern and awaited response.

"Stop jumping," Soraya said, knowing Colin would at least need breath to answer her. "How much have you told them about us? What do they know about Radu's current state?" she asked, choosing her wording carefully for fear of revealing too much to Colin that may accidentally end up in the wrong hands.

"They know your daily schedules," Colin gasped. "He... knows Radu lives... weakens daily. He waits for news of his true death... He knows Mircea works on a cure, but isn't finding one." He coughed. "He likes that news. He knows you found Daniel."

Soraya frowned and relayed the information back to Mircea, hoping the vampire wouldn't lose his temper at this last portion. <And he says we found Daniel?> Soraya asked, not understanding that. "Who is Daniel?" she asked aloud before she realized... was this related to the prototype he had discussed earlier? A loud clatter came from the other room, as if a heavy laden tray were abruptly dropped.

"Daniel is the prototype. The first creation. The Frankenstein Monster. He wants Daniel."

Soraya frowned, opening her mouth then closing it again, unsure of exactly how to proceed. <I have no idea what questions to ask,> she admitted, sharing the information with the approaching Naitachel who she could now sense.

Vlad noted the convergence upon the alley, government vans and SUV's abounding. He nodded to the others as they ran past. <Be careful. We cannot be seen here.> Within moments, they were home, dashing in the door. Mircea's rage could be felt throughout the house… Anger... and something else... Vlad hurried to Soraya. "What did we learn? Anything useful?"

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Post  Naitachel on Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:59 pm

Naitachel swung to dart through the alleyways, using them for cover and staying as much in the shadows and skimming close to rooftops as he dared. He had to stay out of sight. <Details... How about what they know about you so far? And what they intend to do to the boy if they get him... though I have a feeling we shan't enjoy that answer...>

<About me specifically?> she asked Naitachel, unsure, while aloud she relayed the information to Vlad. "You can switch legs and arms," she instructed Colin, before shrugging and asking further as Naitachel had suggested, "What do you know about me so far? And what do they intend to do with Daniel if they get him?"

Colin did as he was told again.

<I hope you do not mind the liberties I am taking with him,> she told Vlad, though she obviously had no intention of stopping.

Vlad shrugged. He didn't care. It was far kinder than what he himself would have done by now.

A thud on the front entryway announced Naitachel's return and landing--he wasn't being light on his feet, in his haste. In a moment, he stepped through the front door, locking it behind neatly and moving to shuck off his coat finally, now that they were in the privacy of their home. <What has he said thus far?> he asked. He needed a recap. The Seraph drew up, blinking, at Colin's odd posture. "Ah... you are hurting him, you know, yes?" he asked uneasily.

"Am I?" Soraya asked absently, standing to kiss Vlad in belated greeting. "I just thought he could use a little exercise, with all the driving he does," she explained. "Boot camp, of sorts." She then recounted all that had been said for all those who had just appeared.

"They know you are married to Vlad. They know you are the mother of his children. You are a student. You do not appear to age. Ever," Colin answered. "They intend to examine him. Test him. Push him to see what he can really do. How much he can really take. Then dissect him and study him more closely."

Naitachel's hands fisted, clenching. "Damn it," he breathed. "It is so very difficult--we cannot seem to stay one step ahead... Those children seem to have better luck than we... It is almost better to leave them to their own devices as best we may..." Naitachel shivered at the description of "Daniel's" planned fate. "And what do they plan for us, then?" he asked, knowing he would not like the answer.

"We can't leave them without any protection," Vlad protested.

"No, not without protection," Nait agreed. "But best we stay as distant and unconnected as possible, lest we bring trouble to them."

Color drained from Soraya's face at his description. It was uncomfortable enough to know that they had gathered those tidbits about herself. But to hear that they were planning such cruel things for a child?

"They intend to get full access to your labs. Then, they intend to do much the same with you as they will with Daniel."

"You...?" Soraya blinked. "Who exactly is ‘you’?" she asked.

"You are Naitachel Prince. Winged man. Mircea Prince. Vlad Prince. Minhea Prince. Matthias Prince. Jina Prince. Lisa Prince. Michael Prince. Tommen Prince. Brianna Prince." He turned looked directly at her as he added, "Soraya Prince."

At the inclusion of her children's names, Soraya couldn't stop herself. She slapped Colin across the face. Hard. And she burned him as she did so, for good measure. "I should have let Mircea have his way with you," she spat angrily.

"A shame nobody married a Mara," Naitachel murmured under his breath, shuddering at that list, wings drooping in dismay. "Heavens... How much do they know of myself?"

"They know all of you I know," Collin admitted. "Possibly more. I'm not the only one, you know."

Soraya gritted her teeth. "Who else?" The idea that there was one traitor among them was bad enough. But that there could be more? Vlad watched, but didn't say anything. His own temper was only barely in check...

"I don't know who. I know there's more than one. And I know they know more than I do."

"In our household or at Dragon Inc?" she pressed.

"Both," Colin replied. He looked closely at Naitachel. "They know you fly. They know you heal in the chapel. They know you vanish periodically, then return following disasters. They know you are married to Radu. They know you bleed silver and cry crimson. They know everything."

Naitachel lashed his tail in frustration, eyes dampening. "I shall have to warn Martaand and the rest... Heavens..." <I cannot allow them to be found out, too...>

<We are going to have to examine all of our staff at home closely,> Soraya told her family. <As well as in DI. Again. Naitachel, were there any others you had found out of which you were suspicious?> she asked the seraph. <That may be a place to start.> That gave them their template from which to spring into action.

Naitachel glanced at Soraya, then Vlad, and shook his head unhappily. He didn't want to interrogate people--it hurt a lot to his empathy, and he had no wish to repeat what had happened so shortly ago. <Trance the staff, and make them forget after. That is kinder for our close helpers. But yes... there are spies at Dragon... I caught that much in finding the killers.>

<We cannot merely trance them, Naitachel. They are in our home, with my children. I cannot simply leave them,> she answered. <I will not.>

"We can try to get the boys far away, perhaps? A distant city, at least... And perhaps we should do the same...?" Nait mused. He winced at Vlad's suggestion. "I... will go check on Radu, then..." <Trance them to find the ones. Not all are guilty, surely?>

"Who knows about tonight?" Vlad asked. "Who else knows about Daniel?"

"Nobody," Colin answered. "Just me."

"What exactly did you tell them about him?" Vlad demanded quietly. "What exactly do they know?"

"We found him in the rain. He fixed the car. We took him to the shelter. He is in New York," Colin recited.

"They don't know where he is now?" Vlad asked.

Colin shook his head. "No. I don't know where he is now."

"Soraya. Beloved," Vlad sighed. "You and Naitachel should step out now."

Soraya glared at Colin a few moments before calmly collecting her books from him, setting them in her bag, then collecting her laptop. She kissed Vlad quickly, then exited, not looking back at Colin. Shivering, tail dragging dispiritedly, Naitachel headed for Radu's room...

The moment the door closed behind them, the door was locked. The sound of whimpers, then terrified screams, followed by a horrible gurgling sound could be heard within.

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Post  Naitachel on Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:02 pm

Radu lay awake, contemplating the fireplace silently. Curling up beside his mate, the Seraph huddled in his wings like a bird trying to hide from the elements, and shuddered at the pain and fear coming from the other room... as well as his own. Radu drew him close, kissing him gently.

Naitachel returned the kiss carefully, feeling how fragile Radu had become. <At times... I wonder if it might be easier to cross the planes and remain there, away from all this. But running would solve nothing, only abandon you all in worse straits...>

<I should have no reason to remain here without you,> Radu sighed, echoing the sentiments Nait had once expressed to him. He knew his family needed him, yet he could not fathom a life without his beloved. Not anymore. Radu sighed again, then, closing his eyes. The monitors registered a sharp dip in his vitals.

<I would take you all with me, if I thought you might survive it... but none of you would last long there,> Nait mourned. <There seems no refuge from this. The hunt tightens, and I do not know what else to do...> Hearing the monitors beep an alarm, the Seraph straightened. <Radu? Radu, do not falter, please...!> he pleaded, suddenly worried.

Radu opened his eyes again slowly, though his vitals remained depressed.

Vlad entered the room after a soft knock on the door. "Nait, we need to have a funeral," he announced without preamble.

Naitachel held his mate close, eyes tearing up, and glanced up at Vlad with pleading eyes. He wanted this pain to end. He wanted Radu safe and well and no longer suffering. He wanted them all to be safe. But he could find no way out of this trap... "When...?" he asked brokenly. How close to the truth it hit! Looking down at Radu, he couldn't help his tears... <How true will it be, to hold one?> he asked. The Seraph had no idea what good Mircea might do anymore.

"Immediately," Vlad replied. "They await word on his recovery or demise. Colin confirmed they will try again to kill him. Unless he is already dead." Vlad looked more closely at his uncle then. His eyes widened. "Mircea..." he called. "MIRCEA!"

Mircea hurried into the room, vials of Nait's tears in his hands, confirming the work he continued to do. Spying his brother, he made up him mind. "Get me a syringe, now," he barked at Vlad, who hurried to comply. Mircea moved to his brother's bedside, filling the syringe from the vials. "Lay him flat," he told Nait.

"Mircea, wait, you can't mean to..." Vlad protested as Mircea tugged his brother from the seraph's arms, laying him down and plunging the syringe into his heart, emptying its contents then quickly refilling it from the next vial.

<If he goes, I follow... I will save his soul, at least... but you shan't find me ever again,> the Seraph whispered ever-so-softly as he let Mircea have him, seeming grey where he sat.

"Uncle!" Vlad protested, looking horrified.

The monitors all went off at once, howling, squealing, screaming.

"What other option is there, Vlad? Mircea told me--he cannot isolate what is needed..." Nait told him.

Then silence.

"Radu is otherwise slipping... there is almost nothing left." The screaming alarms made him wince and shiver. The silence however... Naitachel slumped, not even shivering as he waited, barely hoping...

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Post  Naitachel on Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:05 pm

It began with one beat.

One breath.

Then another, and another, each stronger than the last.

<Radu?> It was a hopeful whisper towards Nait's mate...

The vampire's eyes opened. He looked at Naitachel and then....

He smiled.

"Uncle?" Vlad asked, as Mircea moved to check him over carefully.

Tremulously, Naitachel smiled back... then leapt forward and hugged him tightly, almost desperately. <Are you feeling better?> He couldn't believe that smile... that hope almost hurt as bad as the earlier pain and fear had.

"I am still here," Radu answered simply.

"Indeed you are, and so you shall remain," Mircea growled. "Now rest. We bury you tomorrow."

<Did... did it work?> Nait dared ask Mircea, hope wavering.

Radu nodded in answer to Naitachel's question, even as he laughed at his brother's announcement.

<It did. But they can't know that. Not if we want to avoid a second go at him,> Mircea replied. "We'll shut off the east wing of the manor. Tell them it's too painful to have anyone there anymore now that he's gone. He can lurk there unmolested then until those who would find him are long since passed."

Naitachel winced, and buried his face against Radu's shoulder, releasing his tension in soft sobs of relief. <Very... very well... At least... At least maybe, one will be safe, if thought dead by them...>

<We can wrap things up here. It will take a few months, but then we can move on. We've got property in Los Angeles. Our business headquarters there. It will be easy enough to do,> Mircea suggested.

<And hope they do not follow?> the Seraph asked.

<We'll need to ensure they can't,> Mircea replied. <I'll handle that end.>

Naitachel sobbed until he felt exhausted, having released all that emotional upheaval and frustration finally, though it left his mate a bit damp with the cure. <Not without talking to the others first, please... We cannot afford to make mistakes,> he told Mircea softly. He implied this one was close enough a call...

<I do not want Radu troubled with it. Let him rest and heal. The rest of us will discuss it tonight, while we make the funeral arrangements. We'll work this out. You look after him,> Mircea told him gently.

Vlad sat down next to his uncle. "How do you feel?" he asked, examining him yet again for himself.

"Tired," Radu admitted. "Far weaker than I care to admit." He sighed. "But there is no more pain. I shall heal." He held Naitachel close, not caring at all about the crimson stain spreading upon his shirt and skin. He stroked his hair, kissing him gently.

"Thank God," Naitachel whispered, clinging as closely as he dared without causing Radu discomfort. <I was ready to chase your soul across planes...> he confessed to his mate. <Thank you,> he whispered to Mircea.

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Post  Naitachel on Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:07 pm

"What on earth is going on?" Soraya asked, emerging without ceremony into the room. She had been in the middle of drawing a bath to relax herself, and had been hasty to redress herself when whatever it was happening had summoned her. She wore a pair of bright yellow pajama pants and one of her button-down shirts, an obvious mismatched grabbed out of convenience. Her sling was even carelessly thrown on, her arm at a precarious angle. Noting Naitachel's sobbing form and Radu holding him, she blanched. "What happened?"

Mircea quickly moved to usher her out gently. "I will explain in the hallway. Come, child."

"Not until you tell me what happened," she protested, peering around Mircea with a frown, fear creeping in to her voice.

"Radu heals, child. Come... let us discuss it while they rest," Mircea pressed.

It took a few minutes for the emotional upheaval to work its way even through the Seraph's system, but the tears began to die down and he sat up to wipe at his face with a sleeve. Red-eyed, he glanced Soraya's way, but he smiled--if a bit shakily--a much relieved expression.

Still curious, Soraya didn't move, but looked at Mircea. "Heals? How?" she asked. "Is Naitachel all right?"

<Radu will be all right,> Nait told Soraya joyfully. <I fear... I am just a bit of a mess. Forgive my lack of composure, please... this has simply been rather difficult to handle for so long.>

Radu smiled again, a tired smile to be sure, but with no hint of the pain he'd endured all this time.

"He is perfectly fine," Mircea assured her.

Sighing, Soraya raised an eyebrow in Vlad's direction. <Are you staying here?> she asked him as she finally relented and stepped out. Relief and tiredness were both evident in her stance, and she quietly noted Dr. Kelly would likely be yelling at her right now had he known the kind of evening she had had. <Naitachel, that is amazing!> she said, wishing she could favor Radu with a relieved hug herself. Later, probably. Now he was obviously otherwise occupied. <No one can blame your reaction.>

Naitachel glanced at Vlad, and nodded for him to go join Soraya. His golden eyes shifted back to Radu, and the Seraph blushed in embarrassment at the sight of how he'd soaked his mate's clothes in the scarlet of his crying. "I... I think we had best get you something drier?" he suggested, a bit of a weak joke. He smiled sheepishly. "I am sorry about that... I could not help myself."

Radu laughed softly, shaking his head. "It's fine," he assured him.

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Post  Prince on Sat May 05, 2012 10:39 pm

Min sat in the padded kitchen chair Mac had brought him, watching the young man sleep. Every once in a while Mary would check the monitors and he would log her findings in the boy's newly created chart. The rest of the time, he simply waited, trying to fathom whose child this could be.

It made no sense.

The boy was clearly of their line. If the dark chocolate brown curls and unusually tall and slender frame weren't enough to convince him, the distinct coloring of the boy's eyes would. However, the rest of his vital statistics left him more curious than he'd ever been.

Already his wounds were beginning to heal at an advanced rate. If he was right, the boy would be back on his feet by the time Dr. Kelly visited him again or very shortly after. In talking to the boy's little brother he'd learned that the boy's temperature normally ran between 101 and 102 degrees, so they needn't be concerned of any serious infections unless he reached 105 or higher. His blood pressure was typically low, though it remained far lower than they'd like it to even taking that into account. He was hyper-metabolic, making it necessary to add calorie and nutritionally dense suppliments into his IV's and a drug called anacrese they'd developed 14 years previously for the rare condition of an infant grandson of one of their coworkers, the child of her 17 year old daughter. He knew the girl wasn't one of their kind, so he and the rest of the Prince clan had paid it little heed, as they'd never really taken the time to get to know the Renault-Dubois family or their employees beyond those they'd specifically worked with. Only Mircea had worked with the family directly at that time and that simply wasn't the sort of thing Mircea would ever ignore. Even then, though, he was aware of how useful it would be were their own laws ever to change.

Considering all he knew of this boy before him, though, there were a few things he now knew to be true. First, the boy wasn't his. Even if he weren't as painstakingly careful to prevent that sort of thing as he'd always been, he hadn't been with any un-turned women of their kind in over three decades. However, the boy was clearly that of a female vampire. This female vampire had obviously been turned at the time of his birth as he was also, clearly, a dhampir. Which means, according to their own laws, the boy should not be alive.

Dhampirs hunted Vampires. They killed all other "unnatural" beings. They were merciless and ruthless and could not be allowed to live. Hiding the existence of a dhampir or otherwise allowing one to live was a crime among their kind, punishable by final death.

Were these things he'd discovered about the boy before him to become known to the others, he would be expected to let him die. Given the way their laws read, he may even be expected to kill him.

Min continued contemplating the boy, considering all else he knew of him.

The boy had met them while they were stranded in the rain. If he was indeed a dhampir, as Min suspected, there was little chance his heightened senses and telepathy had missed what they were in the close quarters of the limo. Yet he'd made no move against any of them. He'd made no attempt to find them afterword or hunt them in any way, though dhampirs are typically trained from birth to hunt and kill vampires and other unnatural beings.

The boy's entire body was covered with terrible scars. Had he refused his training, then? Had those who would teach him to hunt done this to him?

Min tried yet again to gently prod at the boy's shields, needing to know what was in this boy's mind. What were his intention? Was he a threat? Did he really need to die?

The boy groaned softly, shifting painfully in his sleep, his expression one of fear. His breathing quickened as his heart began to race. A nightmare then?

"No... run..." the boy whispered hoarsely.

"Shh. It's alright. You're safe," Min assured him gently, laying a hand upon the boy's head. He'd already learned not to try sending anything to the boy telepathically. He still had the pounding headache from his last attempt. Still, the boy seemed to settle down. Min was surprised to discover that he meant what he's said, though. Regardless of their laws, he couldn't find it in himself to hurt him, and he wouldn't let anyone else hurt him, either.

He had to keep this a secret. None of the others could know what he knew.

Gently, he brushed the boy's dark curls back from his face, taking in the delicately sculpted features. There was no question. This boy was a Prince. Whether he knew it or not, he was one of their own. And Princes protected their own.

God help anyone who ever threatened these boys again.

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Post  Garrity on Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:51 pm

The dark haired boy groaned softly before his pale crystal blue eyes fluttered opened. His face registered only pain and confusion for a moment before he seemed to remember where he was and what had happened. He looked at the IV in his arm and frowned. His eyes trailed the line up to the bag hanging above him, trying to read the print on the clear bag, but only after making sure the blood type was the right one. Slowly, painfully, he turned his head, his eyes searching ever corner of the room. He seemed to be getting agitated, his hand reaching for the line in his hand as if to rid himself of it.

"Right here," the blonde boy called, jumping up from the couch where he'd been sitting, reading a book Mac had given him about a wizard boy. Man, he thought, I wish I could do all that stuff. Nobody would ever mess with us again if I could do that. He ran into the room and put his hand over his brothers. "Don't do that. I think you still need that, okay?"

The brunette sighed and closed his eyes a moment in what seemed a surrender.

"No, it's okay," the blonde told him. "We can stay here. Nobody knows we're here except them that wants to help us, okay? So we're safe for now."

"He's right," Min assured the boy quietly. "Nobody's getting near you here. Your friend Mac is going to help us look out for you, and we're going to do all we can to protect you both."

The boy eyed Min warily, his hand dropping but not moving too far away from the line.

The blonde boy shrugged. "I don't know. They just showed up when Mac did. They helped get you here and they brought a doctor who..."

The brunette's eye's went wide with panic. He tried to sit up, his hand grasping the IV line resolutely. Doctors meant reports, which meant they were now traceable. They could be found...

"No no no," the blonde boy cried out as Min moved swiftly to restrain the boy and prevent him from removing the IV or otherwise harming himself. "There ain't gonna be no reports, honest. Nobody will find us. It's a secret doctor. He keeps secrets. He won't tell nobody. And Mac's at work like nothing happened so he won't give anything away. Nobody's telling nobody nothing, okay?"

"Be still, boy," Min ordered gently but firmly, surprised to find the boy's strength so nearly a match to his own even in his current state.

Please, Min thought to himself, don't let me be wrong about this boy and letting him live. If I am, we could be in real trouble.

Min wracked his brain quickly to think of what he would need to hear in this case and finally said, "No point undoing all of Dr. Kelly's good work unless you really want to leave your little brother alone in this world. He needs you, which means you need to heal. Now stop fighting me and just be still."

At the mention of his brother, the youth stopped struggling and went completely still. He looked far paler than the sheets upon which he lay, his blue eyes clouded with pain. Min glanced at Mary, nodding his approval when she added pain medication to the boy's IV line.

"That's right. Just rest," Min urged the boy. "Let yourself heal. I promise, nothing will happen to either of you. Not while I'm around."

The boy still looked uncertain, but the medication seemed to be taking quick affect, robbing him of any fight he may have had left and forcing his eyes to close despite his best efforts to remain awake. Min waited beside him until he was asleep again.

"Did you mean that?" the tiny blonde asked timidly.

Min smiled. "Yeah, kid," he answered honestly. "I meant that."

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