BloodBorne Ch. 08bypurefire©
Xan let out a frustrated sigh as she watched Xion stare out the window. Her sister had been become very quiet and introverted the past few days. Xan knew why; little Xion wasn't used to being confined indoors. While the sheer size of the manor was more than enough to keep anyone from getting antsy, Xion thrived when she was able to go outside. Before this mess with Sherlaine started, they took long walks at least twice a week and went on small outings every weekend. Xan made sure her sister socialized and saw as much of the outside world as she could. With this situation, there was no hope of a walk or even a small trip to the flea market. Xion was quickly becoming a depressed child and Xan refused to have it.
She would have spoken to any of the many brothers inhabiting the house, but it seemed that with Lindsay and Alauria's arrival, their plans against Sherlaine kicked into high gear, making it near impossible for her to get any of the brothers alone. That wasn't completely true; she'd spent every nigh this week with Liam, and it seemed that every night was better than the last. They didn't do much talking, which probably was good given their propensity to enrage each other, but when they did speak, they shared stories about their most epic battles, trading tactics and comparing battle scars.
Well, she showed him hers, and he pointed out the areas that would have been severely marked had not had extraordinary healing abilities. They'd only made love one time since the night she gave into him; there seemed to be a need to simply be together, especially since they did not have any time to even greet one another during the day. Xan preferred things this way; there was no pressure to make things serious between them, but there was a budding anticipation in the pit of her stomach when Xion fell asleep.
Xion. Xan looked over at her sister and felt her heart sink at the longing look in the child's eyes as she stared out of the window. Her depression seemed to mount with each day; where Xion once sought refuge in the expansive library, she now refused to leave their room, claiming that she was tired and wanted to sleep. Getting her to go to the kitchen was an ongoing battle; she also claimed that she wasn't hungry. Xan didn't think much of it at first, but when her sister stopped drawing, she knew that she had to take matters into her own hands. "I'll be right back," she told Xion. Moments later, she'd rushed out of the room and down to the solarium, the brothers' regular meeting room.
She stopped short at the sight of Alauria sitting between Liam and Lindsay. A wave of anger washed over her and for a moment, and she had to decide what made her angrier; a female's presence in the top secret meeting or the fact that the woman sat next to Liam. The general consensus was that females feared him. But yet, here this beautiful, talented, sweet woman sat next to him as if he were the most docile man to ever live. A mental bitch-slap reminded her that Alauria was married and most likely sat near Liam because it was the only spot near her husband available. But that didn't calm her anger. "How come Alauria gets to sit in on your meetings?"
"If we are to make use of her abilities-"
"I have abilities too," Xan insolently interrupted. She didn't look at Alexis, knowing that he would fix her with one of those stares that made her tense uneasily.
"Can you willingly take on the ability of any supernatural around you and use said ability against them?" Lindsay asked impatiently. When she only stared at him with wide eyes, he shook his head and said, "Obviously not the abilities we need."
"Watch your fucking mouth when you talk to her," Liam defended. If there was anyone in the room who would make her feel like an idiot, it would be him. "Xan, the less you know, the better."
"What does that mean?" She asked as she crossed her arms over her chest.
Draco cleared his throat nervously before saying, "We have a history of accidentally getting our charges kidnapped. Accidentally," he emphasized when Xan's face reddened.
"Seriously, Drake? This is what you decide to tell the woman?" Andrae grumbled as he shimmered into the room. He stared at Alauria for a moment and studied her, completely ignoring the look Lindsay gave him. She matched his stare valiantly, he noticed, and completely surprised him by giving him a smile. "Lindsay's woman."
"Lindsay's brother." Alauria replied. She quickly adjusted herself after Lindsay hauled her up against her side. "I'd introduce myself, but as you can see, Lindsay is feeling unnecessarily possessive."
"Can we get back to the point here?" Xan yelled. "First you tell me that you don't know what Sherlaine is so you don't know how to kill him. Then you pretty much make it clear that you're going to sit on your asses and read books all fucking day until you get some kind of a clue on how to get him off my ass. Next comes the real sweet piece of news that this house isn't completely protected from all the big bad out there so you need a human alarm system to make sure nobody makes a milkshake out of my blood. Now you're telling me that the people you protect get 'accidentally kidnapped?'"
"Xan, calm down, there is no need to-"
"Don't even, Roman! You're all grown ass men with fuck knows how many years of experience. I have a kid to take care of. I can't afford to get 'accidentally' kidnapped!'"
"And this is precisely why you are not to sit in any of our meetings."
"Fuck your stupid meetings and fuck this!" She turned to walk out of the room ignoring the uproar she'd caused amongst the brothers, and frowned when she walked into an invisible wall. "What the fuck..."
"I'm sorry, Xan, but I don't like it when you get angry."
Xan took her time turning to face everyone before she said, "Well you seem to be the only fucking one because everyone else has said or done some fucking thing to piss me off. You know, I came down here to ask if it was possible to let Xion out for a few hours because she's cooped up and getting fucking depressed and goddammit, kids her age need to fucking breathe and not only do I find out that I can't take her out because of the fucking dangers, but I can't really depend on this fucking place because it isn't fucking safe either!" She let out a frustrated breath as she brought a hand up to cup her forehead. Her face was hot and she knew that she was excessively flushed. "When are you going to figure out how to get rid of him?" she asked in a calmer voice.
"Just as soon as you stop dropping so many F-bombs," Alexis declared. He ignored the surprised and incredulous stares shot at him as he said, "It's not becoming on a woman of your status."
Xan was tempted to tell him where to shove his status, but that stare of his stopped her from saying anything. Instead, she looked at Roman's concerned face, knowing that his was the only one she could take. His goatee was immaculate, she noticed. "Can I go now?"
"It seems as if Xion isn't the only one who needs to get out," Andrae said as he leaned a shoulder against the wall. "It won't be a bad idea to let them out someplace public for a while."
"No fucking way," Liam ground out. He shot up out of his seat and started toward Xan in a move to protect her. "Remember what happened the last time we let them out?"
"So you'd rather her start shouting like a madwoman every five minutes? How is that going to help anything?"
"I said no," Liam repeated. He looked over at Xan, who stood shocked at Andrae's defense for her sanity. "You're staying here."
"It's not much safer here than out there," Andrae argued.
"But at least we can control what fucking happens here," Liam snapped.
"You and I both know that's not true." There was a tense moment of silence as Andrae and Liam stared at each other. It was obvious to everyone in the room that they were in the middle of a silent conversation that merged into a battle of wills. "Take her someplace public, Liam, during the daylight hours. We'll all be there to watch them both."
"Xion really needs this," Xan pleaded before Liam could argue. His face reddened as he looked at her, a clear indication that he wanted to beat the crap out of someone, namely Andrae. "Please," she asked simply to ensure his compliance.
How in the fuck was he supposed to say no after that? "Fine. But if anything, any-fucking-thing happens, I'll beat the shit out of both of you on top of it."
"The mall in Amberly seems like a good enough place to go," Draco volunteered, "Close enough to get there quickly, crowded enough that we can control the situation if Sherlaine has real balls."
"This is such a fucking bad idea," Liam muttered.
"Get yourself and Xion ready," Alexis ordered Xan. "We leave in twenty minutes." He watched Xan rush out of the room and waited until she was out of ear shot before saying, "We all know what's going to happen the second we set foot in that mall. But it's better than waiting for him to come here."
"I'll keep next to her," Liam said.
"We'll keep next to Xion," Roman volunteered.
"You're staying here," Lindsay ordered Alauria.
"But I can help."
"You're. Staying. Here." Lindsay repeated. His tone left no room for argument and he sighed in satisfaction when she crossed her arms over her chest angrily.
Liam refused to listen to anything else. He stormed out of the solarium and toward his room, both enraged and anxious at the fact that he was putting Xan in danger once more. He knew Andrae's motivation; bait as irresistible as a key that could open any paranormal portal would bring anyone out of hiding. But did they really have to use her? Euan was out busting his animal ass getting as much information as he could from his contacts. Surely they could have waited just a bit longer. He had to admit he was thinking selfishly; the longer they took to resolve the situation, the more time he spent with Xan. Thinking about having to watch her walk away shredded his insides; he couldn't let her go. Not yet.
He groaned inwardly as strapped on his retractable wrist blades and hid them beneath the sleeves of his shirt. What kind of demon fighter was he to be more concerned about the fate of their relationship than her life? There was no relationship if she was dead. But then again, there was a chance that there would be no relationship once they got rid of Sherlaine. As he looked at the bed, the same bed they'd shared nightly, Liam knew that he was in for one hell of an uphill battle. So this was the bullshit his brothers went through with their women.
Why in the fuck did he get himself into this?
Liam all but ran from his room as he rushed to join his brothers in the garage. They were taking Alexis' rarely used Lexus LX570, which made sense considering eight bodies needed to fit into the vehicle. Lindsay took point in the passenger seat next to Alexis while the twins flanked Xion behind them. Liam wasn't happy to see that Andrae sat next to Xan; hell, he didn't like it when any man sat next to her, distant cousin or not. Grudgingly, he took his place and felt his anger fade when Xan moved closer to him. He said nothing and did not even acknowledge the action, but he did move the slightest bit closer to her when Alexis started his truck.
The short ride to the shopping center was silent as the brothers thought it best to keep the females asleep during the ride. Liam didn't quite understand the precautionary method; they were about to give Sherlaine free reign to Xan with this foolish outing. But of course, no one wanted to listen to him; they never did. Andrae was convinced that Xan and Xion needed "room to breathe" -- whatever the hell that meant. It would have been much simpler to simply tie them on leashes and let them run around the garden. Liam smiled inwardly at the mental image he'd given himself. A second later, he glared at Andrae; he knew exactly what his shit brother was up to and he did not like the half breed's plan one bit.
It wasn't as if he could bring up any kind of argument; they were already in the car and searching for a parking spot near one of the back entrances. There were a number of cars in the lot, Liam wasn't happy to see. "This is a bad fucking idea."
"She's got all of us, bro," Draco assured, "We won't let anything happen."
Liam wasn't so sure about that. He watched the twins wake Xion as he roughly shook Xan awake. "Get up. We're here."
"This is how you treat your woman?" Andrae asked with a raised eyebrow.
Liam grumbled as he shook her again. He almost laughed at the dazed look in her eyes, but remembered what was to come. His brothers had already exited the truck, leaving them inside and he took the opportunity to place a small kiss on her lips. "Be on your guard," he warned, "Just because there are a lot of humans here, doesn't mean you're safe."
"But I am safe," Xan countered. She pushed at him to move so that she could exit the truck but stopped when he did not budge. The questioning look in his eyes made her say, "I'm with you right?"
"So I'm safe. Can we go now?" She shook her head when she caught his slow smile at her remark. The rest of the group was nearly at the entrance, she noticed, so she ran to catch up to them. "How long will we be here?"
"As long as we have to be," Andrae replied.
"What the hell does that mean?"
"What the fuck is wrong with you, walking away from me like that," Liam said angrily. He grabbed hold of Xan's arm to keep her from straying too far from him again.
"I was catching up with everyone else," she defended. "Calm the fuck down. I'm not going anywhere."
"Oh there's a Play Palace!" Xion announced excitedly. She immediately looked over at Alexis, knowing that he had final say on every decision made.
"Go ahead," he said with a small nod. He shook his head when the twins each told hold of one of her tiny hands as they discussed which arcade games they would play. They were worse than children sometimes, those two.
"You think they have DDR?" Xan asked Liam. She knew that he was a video game freak and figured this would have been the perfect opportunity for them to bond over something that wasn't sad or sexual. "I've never played it but I hear its fun."
"Do I seem like the type of person who would play a game that forces me to dance?"
Xan looked down the long hall toward Play Palace and back to him. "Do you really want me to answer that?"
"I like you," Andrae said with an appreciative grunt.
Liam released his hold on Xan to shove his brother away from her. He laughed when the shove was returned and continued his pseudo battle with Andrae as they walked. He noticed Alexis shake his head in apparent exasperation, but this was nothing out of the ordinary; serious Lex didn't know the meaning of the term play-fight. His idea of bonding was discussing the great demon wars that affected human society.
Xan frowned when an odd feeling formed in the pit of her stomach. It wasn't a sick feeling or even a nervous one; there was a simple sensation, as if she'd swallowed a magnet, and there was a large piece of metal nearby she couldn't ignore. She relaxed her stride as she tried to fight the sensation, but it only became stronger, turning her legs to sludge. She wanted to say something, but her tongue felt glued to the roof of her mouth. So she stopped walking for a moment, hoping the odd feeling coming over her would lessen. Something inside of her wanted to break away from the group and go left. But she was supposed to go straight; Play Palace was just down the hall. No, she wouldn't deviate.
Xan was aware of the random shoppers who looked at her strangely as they passed by. She didn't care; she was too busy trying to get her tongue unglued from the roof of her mouth. The sensation only intensified, and as she willed her legs to move, she continued to try to make a sound. Instead, her legs continued on their own accord, veering her left. Panic began to well within her and dread washed over her as she looked at Sherlaine's smiling face.
Why the hell hadn't anyone noticed that she was deviating?!? Draco and Roman were too involved in their video conversation to notice that she was leaving. Liam and Andrae were still trying to beat the shit out of each other, while Alexis and Lindsay... well, who knew what the hell they were up to.
This was the best protection detail ever.
Her heart felt as if it would explode as she continued to near Sherlaine. His smile widened as she approached. If he wasn't an evil son of a bitch who wanted to bleed her dry, she'd find him attractive, especially with that dimple in his cheek. But she felt the raw, dark power that emanated off of him. The shoppers did as well; every single human who passed by him stared at the man standing so casually in front of the home appliance store. Again, she willed herself to stop walking, but her body screamed at her; a bolt of white-hot pain shot through her and she would have screamed in agony had she been able to sleep. The arrogant grin that took over his face told her that he was responsible for what was happening to her. Bastard.
Xan had to have been twenty feet away from him when a small black doorway began to form next to Sherlaine. Based on the fact that none of the other shoppers seemed to notice its appearance, she had to take a guess and say that her blood was working some kind of magic. Sherlaine noticed it; his grin became a laugh as the portal expanded and he clapped his hands together in victory. You are mine now, a voice in her head declared. Only, it wasn't her voice. The panic inside her made breathing difficult; in the back of her mind, she heard the strain behind her efforts to breathe. You don't have to fear me, Xandra. I will not hurt you. No, only bleed her to death. As you can see, your blood was not used to open the door beside me. No fear, sweeting.
Yeah... No fear at all.
Sherlaine laughed again, and she became aware of the fact the he could hear her thoughts. How in the hell... You have spilled my blood, Xandra. We have a small connection now. I will always know what you think. Wonderful. Fucking wonderful. Yes, Xandra, it is.
Fury rolled through her as she continued to approach. When the distance between them neared ten feet, she noticed his lips moving in some sort of silent chant. So this was why she couldn't move. She watched as she pulled a knife out of his pocket. Fear replaced fury and for a moment, she was sure that he was going to bleed her dry in the middle of the mall. But he didn't; he brought the knife to the palm of his hand and drew a neat line across the white flesh. Xan expected blood to flow free, but instead a pale yellow mist floated out of his palm and toward her. Instead of hitting her in the chest or on her forehead, the mist floated around her like a predatory animal, searching for a point of weakness or entry. It never touched her, but she kept an eye on it as she continued her approach. Before she had a moment to blink, Sherlaine was standing in front of her and reaching for her hand. A second later, she was shot sideways by an invisible force and rolled off a metal bench.
Xan groaned at the pain caused by the impact and a second later, fumbled to catch Xion as she was thrown out of the way. When the hell did her sister get close enough to get thrown? Xan shot up off the floor and pulled her sister behind her, prepared to do everything possible to defend Xion. There was no defense necessary, however; the second the brothers got close enough to engage in battle, Sherliane shimmered out of the mall.
"What the fuck," Liam muttered. He looked over at Xan, who stood bewildered, then to the shoppers in the mall who seemed oblivious to what was about to happen. "Why didn't you say anything, Xan?"
It took her a moment to realize that she could speak. "Don't you think I would have said something if I could?" She took hold of Xion's hand and walked toward the exit determined to get her back to the semi-safety of the manor. "We're going home."