Authors Note: A lot has happened over the last few months, some things that have been touched on in detail and others that have transpired behind closed doors. The purpose of these ‘spotlights’ is to allow our characters to summarize their current thoughts and feelings. Victor’s is being posted first because he wished to do a full summary of the year so far, but the other character’s will soon follow. It’s a bit wordy, but hopefully enjoyable.
As always, thanks for reading.
Perhaps I should explain the ‘back room’.
Nocturnal Embers has been in existence for quite some time. It’s current manager, Tony Marlin, acquired rights to it sometime in the early 1990s under the ownership of Rupert Shaw, the highest ranking vampire in control of San Francisco and it’s immediate greater areas. Rupert has been in San Francisco several centuries and is the most powerful Duke in the Kingdom of California. He was the one who established the secondary destination within Nocturnal Embers, unbeknownst to any but his loyalists. Tony himself would not have known of its existence had it not be a necessity.
After the debacle with Felix, when I discovered the room myself, I struck a bargain with Rupert that I would not disclose his indiscretions to the Primael or his King if I was allowed to assume responsibility for the place. It is one of the few times I used my Primael rank without any hesitation in regard to a member of my own kind, but Rupert knew he had two choices: allow me to close the room down or grant me jurisdiction. He chose the latter.
Why the room needs to be handled delicately is not complicated. Vampires and weres freely cohabit this earth with humans and a multitude of other creatures. Some of these other creatures come from places commonly referred to as other ‘dimensions’, ‘planes of existence’, or ‘realms’. There are select places on this earth where the borders between our realm and others are thinner and able to be crossed by even those who are rather average creatures for their places of origin. Rupert had managed to stumble upon just such a place and had the bar built around it. Thus, the ‘back room’ in Nocturnal Embers is actually a meeting place for various mythical creatures and denizens of other realms. I curtailed the smuggling that Rupert had been engaging in, insisting that any transactions taking place would be of information or discrete items that would not draw any excessive notice or cause radical harm were they misused. For instance, I just recently replenished my quiver of arrows from the same ironwood tree groves that I first learned of when I acquired my bow. Stronger than any wood found in this plane of existence, it is of little consequence to bring through such portals as the one that exists in the ‘back room’. For every one item that is ‘safe’, though, there are dozens that are not. This is the responsibility I have assumed and took copious amounts of time asserting to the room’s clientele when the arrangement between me and Rupert was made last year.
The beings themselves are perhaps even more curious than the items that can be transferred realm-to-realm, but they are never allowed to set foot beyond the threshold that would allow them into the mortal world. Rupert himself established that rule, which is among the chief reasons why I did not instantly turn him over to Primael justice. He was also canny enough to seek assistance in designing the countermeasures that prevent such things from happening. I’ve been told that it has been many years since anyone attempted crossing into our realm uninvited, and Walter is there to continuously monitor for potential slips in security. He still reports to Rupert rather than directly to me, but he knows this is the one detail the Duke and I will always agree on. The ‘back room’ is only viable so long as those who are not meant to be here stay on their side of the door.
But, enough of business. Nocturnal Embers is not a pressing concern, merely one that has been recently on my mind. Had it been something that I was genuinely worried over, I would not have felt at liberty to be away from San Francisco for six months.
Ever since December rolled in the way it did, I knew this year would be just as eventful, if not moreso, than the last. It has delivered many significant things to my door already despite being only the end of July.
January brought with it John’s seer gifts after Lydia received instructions regarding how to draw them out from an unexpected dream-visitor - the children’s mother, Monica, who had drawn out Peter’s powers twenty-two years ago. By the end of the month, Lydia and John were both ‘volunteered’ into service with the Order while Peter, Delilah, Robin and I made ourselves scarce to the US. We spent a few days with Ophelia and her coven in Toronto before heading off continent to take refuge with my long-time friend, Nathan, in Tokyo.
February passed with little incident, though everyone was on edge with regard to the children. The Philadelphia coven suffered through a visit from two seers bent on locating us, but no one was permanently harmed, thank heavens. March was far more hectic, and though I have heard the phrase that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, this year it was all beast. We received word from Lydia and John after they had been sent on their first mission regarding what they had discovered at the Order and their suspicions about its implications. Despite being cautious as to how and when they contacted us, it allowed the two seers to track our location. We left Tokyo with them nipping at our heels, but we had to put concerns about the seers aside to deal with a newly minted dark-magician that Lydia and John told us of shortly before their second mission. It led us to handling a threat in the form of an old rival of mine name Samuel, while the children suffered under their Uncle Wallace’s hands until an uprising in the Order’s ranks set them free.
April was spent recovering once we all returned to San Francisco. Robin had been injured during the escapade with Samuel and even with a generous amount of my blood to help him mend, his broken hand took time to heal. Lydia had been starved well beyond the point any year-old immortal should ever have to suffer through. John and Delilah’s trials had been more emotionally taxing than anything else, but even that left them overly somber. I turned John in mid April after he convinced me one final time that he was ready to be part of the night.
After that the world seemed to settle, though our family experienced more than a few changes of its own.
May. Flynn. As of today it has been one year and one week since Peter merged his personalities in the attempt to purge himself of Flynn’s voice and presence. I had wondered on occasion how I would look back at that date, whether the faint tinge of regret would fade after a year, after two, three, and more years, or if it would remain. I had never admitted to Peter precisely how I viewed the assassin’s presence and since the merge seemed to put the final seal on the issue I doubted that I ever would . Both Peter and Robin had determined that bidding Flynn a permanent farewell was the best course of action, and to be honest I could not truly disagree with them. Flynn and Peter were condemned to half an existence, with Flynn determined to wrestle control as often as he could but lacking a purpose any time he achieved his momentary upperhand. Peter no longer needed the assassin to pawn his vampiric instincts onto and was ready to embrace the aspects of Flynn that he knew were his own, to become the vampire he had always been meant to be. Thus the merge happened, with my goodbye to Flynn remaining solely within my mind because no one, especially not Flynn himself, would have benefited from the indulgence. In those final moments especially, I regretted I could not even claim Flynn to be a friend because circumstances never worked out that way, but I had seen enough of him, thought of the future often enough before learning that the merge was possible, that I had known I could love him. What I failed to realize at the time, and what I know now, was that I could love him just as deeply as I love Peter. Flynn’s return has of course brought challenges with it, namely the same problem that had occurred before - two beings living half an existence through one body - as well as a few existential issues on my part. For the most part they have been resolved, though some temporarily. I dread looking toward the future with the thought in mind of this peaceful reprieve coming to an end.
June. Gabrielle. She is the reason that I can have both Peter and Flynn at my side without one being asleep. A damaged immortal, her maker had been cruel to her beyond tolerance and forced her to escape him by an extreme measure of torpor. I have only heard of such circumstances once before, and well know just how desperate of an option it is. Resisting her maker’s constant call to return to the real world has taken its toll on her, one I have been able to recently witness first-hand. She is like a child, a human child, in many ways. Moody. Impulsive. Prone to acting out. I had anticipated that having her as part of the family would be tasking, but when Flynn encountered the emotional hardships of being trapped between waking and sleeping when he did not occupy Peter’s body, I had no hesitation in seeing the matter resolved. We had originally thought that he would immediately vacate Gabrielle’s body after we dealt with her maker, but things did not work out that way. It may be selfish of me to admit I am rather glad that Flynn has been able to linger in her form, though I wish he could be more comfortable in it. Still, there are a few aspects of the female body that he has embraced with vigor, and it has helped smooth over the downsides.
April through July. John. I had forgotten how much pride I took in watching a new immortal spread their wings. Asserting my willingness to turn him in December is something I will always look back on with sense of simply being right. I am proud to be his maker and of the vampire he is growing into. My early concerns have all been firmly set aside, though a few new ones have risen to take their place. Most recently, my own desires. It is not difficult to imagine why I might find John attractive since one only has to look at my husband, his father, to see the similarities between the two. Physical appearance aside, John himself is far from unattractive to me, but I know that Peter’s son would not appreciate that manner of attention. Recent changes have made maintaining my resolve exceptionally challenging, though. John has grown more than comfortable with himself as a vampire in regard to feeding and it is now his other instincts, specifically the carnal ones, that have had me skirting a fine line. The first night I assisted him in seducing a human woman, I planned simply to leave him after we found a discreet spot to enjoy our meals. Flynn and Peter secluded themselves in an adjacent room with our own humans, but I took a moment to ensure John was steady enough to handle being alone with his, considering the deliberateness of his intentions. It is his ignorance of my desire for him that nearly broke my restraint that night. His inquiry about the femoral artery had my fangs itching for more than human blood. I wrestled with my self control as my fingers brushed my favorite spot to feed on the woman that was laid out to satisfy John’s needs. Worse, still, John did not wait for me to leave the room before sampling from her. He was surprised by the woman’s reaction when she moaned in pleasure, and I quickly explained to him that glamored humans typically found our bites pleasurable. It was when he reached for his clothing and shed his shirt that I could barely force myself out the door. I fell into a feeding frenzy with Peter and Flynn and attempted to push it from my mind. But when John returned to us, flushed from his kill and high on the experience, he commented on our state of affairs by saying that he was reassured knowing I’d had a reason behind my abrupt departure. I attempted to respond in a witty fashion, without any thought of probing behind it, that I had merely assumed he did not wish to share his meal. His unexpectedly genuine response was that if there was a next time, he wouldn’t object to sharing. Unable to help the mental images that thought conjured, the only statement I could manage to reply was that my inclination was to leave him to his own enjoyment of such things. For whatever reason he might have in allowing it, I know I can never indulge in a shared meal with the young man because it will not end well. In the meanwhile, I am glad that John is as settled as he is with his new existence. And though I have had occasions to criticize some of his behaviors, I think the bulk of such occurrences are now behind us.
July. Delilah. She disappointed me several weeks ago, and I make no apology for criticising her for her behavior. The reason she did not turn John herself, which perhaps seems more appropriate considering she is his lover, was due to the circumstance that makers and children cannot linger together for more than a few decades at a time. It is an instinctual impulse that my bloodline has always possessed, perhaps a side-effect of the strength of our maker bonds with our children - being able to have absolute control over another being can corrupt or at least give a sense of entitlement to even the noblest of immortals. I turned John for her as much as I turned him for himself, and one day I will not be able to watch over them as closely as I currently am able. My one concern that will never quite be settled is over the topic of John and Delilah blood-bonding. John is far too young as an immortal for such a thing, which he himself acknowledges. Delilah does appreciate the severity of such a bond but already has one in place with Robin. This perhaps seems hypocritical of me since I recently established a second blood bond of my own with Flynn but you must understand that for all the differences between my husband and my lover, all three of us have a similar approach to looking at life that makes handling the dual-bonds a trifle more simplistic than it would be otherwise. Delilah and Robin were well suited to one another when they began to bond, and it is not that John is not suited to her, but rather that John and Robin are vastly different creatures when it comes to looking at life. My oldest child is willful, though, and wants what she wants even if she has learned to temper some of her desires when it is prudent to do so. Such is why I was not insistent that she and John could not see one another in the interim, but I never would have allowed them to be alone together - newborn vampire instincts and the presence of a desirable, willing woman do not bode well for keeping things to a G rating. And I was proven right in my caution, as well as my doubts in regard to my eldest child being as prudent about her newly turned lover as I would have hoped. I accept that it was partly due to my decision to spend the night in Robin’s house that the incident occurred. But Lydia and Robin had excused themselves early, followed shortly by Delilah, and I assumed that she had retired to join them. It was not until the next evening when I spoke to Robin that I discovered he had not seen her since the evening prior. Admittedly, I was a confluence of anger and disappointment when I stormed into John’s old room and found my two children in bed together, but Delilah made the mistake of taking issue with my response and, as happens often as not with us, the confrontation became physical in an unpleasantly pointed manner. I did, however, overreact to one of the statements she issued in anger, which lead to me being too incensed to control my strength and resulted in her arm being broken. It was partly deliberate, which I am not proud of, but what finally reeled in my temper was Peter interjecting into our fight. He utilized his telekinesis to forcibly separate us, restraining me as well as Delilah in the process. I very nearly lashed out at him in response but pulled myself back before I could use his gifts, or mine, against him. Still, I did not apologize to Delilah. Or to John. And it did lead into John’s confession of his troubles regarding his carnal impulses, which I am now glad he can find other ways to resolve. But my eldest child and I were not on speaking terms for some time after that incident, and might still not be were it not for one other change in our family dynamic.
Mid July. Robin. I can’t entirely help the grin that invoking his name inspires, which perhaps begs for explanation. When Flynn returned, we became lovers that very same night. I confessed what had occurred to Peter the very next evening, after Flynn went to sleep in Peter’s body and Peter returned to the surface. Had my husband taken any issue with I had done, I would have immediately found some way of resolving it even if it had meant giving Flynn up for good (which would not have been easy after the whirlwind we’d found ourselves caught up in). But Peter was more than understanding in regard to Flynn, to the point of genuinely being encouraged that his former alter-ego was now able to experience true sentiment. I did struggle with how to view their places in my life for some time, but I knew, from that conversation with my husband onward, that Flynn was going to be a permanent part of our lives. Which meant we needed to tell the family. John was the first to hear the news and, after a night of observing him conversing with Flynn, I was bolstered by the knowledge that John did not begrudge Flynn’s presence at all since the introduction went hand in hand with the assertion that Peter was alright with how things were changing. The second step was informing Robin, Delilah, and Lydia, which we did during a family meeting called specifically for that purpose. Lydia reacted in a similar vein as John, and Delilah seemed intent on not holding any opinion other than simply acknowledging that she respected how Peter and I were handling things. Robin, however, began with denial which shifted to resentment bordering on outright hostility that Flynn had not only returned but had been invited to stay. It was the first time I had ever found myself at odds with my Irish brother, but I stood my ground in insisting that Flynn was here to stay whether he approved or not. The tension remained between us until the course of one evening led me to enticing Robin into the bedroom with Flynn’s added company in Gabrielle’s body. I thought, at the time, that perhaps it was a first step, albeit an odd one from an outsider’s view, toward Robin putting the past in its place. But things became even more tense, nearly awkward, from that night onward. Part of the reason, as I discovered later, was that Lydia had taken issue with him bedding Flynn in a female body, and it had led to Robin promising her that he would refrain from repeat performances with anyone other than she and Delilah until he regained perspective on his carnal appetites. My fight with Delilah happened in the meantime, and when Robin and I found ourselves needing to discuss concerns outside the family, the two unresolved issues between us compounded into a rather cold exchange. I thought he was still disenchanted with me in regard to accepting Flynn into my life, but the truth was much more humbling. We parted ways with my pride flaring in the background while he nearly lost his composure in a much more emotionally vulnerable sense - it was not until we were exchanging good-byes that I realized I was not detecting any anger or resentment from him as I would have expected, but the amount of blood we’ve exchanged is far too minimal for me to truly discern his emotions. Within minutes of him departing, though, he called me to request we continue our talk on the beach beneath the Golden-Gate bridge. An odd location, perhaps, but one that was private at that time of night. What he revealed to me is something I will keep to myself until he is ready to explain, which is even what I told Peter when he questioned me about it after I returned home close to dawn. - “It is not my story to tell.” - What this led to a few nights later, after I’d gathered information for Robin to pass on to Allen and Matthew during his upcoming trip to Philadelphia, was a rather pointed exchange in a very different sense. Robin and I were able to relax with one another for the first time in weeks and I very much wanted to fall back into our old habits of mutual appreciation, if only out of relief that I had not lost his esteem. But I knew of his promise to Lydia then, and did not wish to tempt him to break it. Thus, when I found myself pinned against my car door with Robin’s mouth on mine, it was the beginning of a revelation for both of us. We did not speak of it, did not even truly notice the difference in our intentions and actions until the night was over, but I found myself reliving the memory the next evening while I thought about Robin boarding a plane to Philadelphia. What I should perhaps explain before delving further into what changed is that Robin and I were entirely capable of enjoying each other’s company without any need for labeling as more than mutual appreciation. He has two female lovers and I was his male indulgence as it was convenient for us - mentions of Tchaikovsky were the extent of how we would taunt one another, after one of our early encounters instilled the reference in our minds - but that was the sum total of our ‘relationship’. Until that second night on the beach. We parted ways in lighter spirits, but it was the dwelling on the experience that began the realization of a shift between us. He called me from Philadelphia confessing to the same thoughts that I found myself harboring, and the conversations rounded out with a pointed confession from both of us. We loved one another. I still have yet to issue the assertion in his presence, since he traveled from Philadelphia to Ireland on holiday with Delilah and Lydia - though I have learned that Lydia remained behind temporarily - partly in an effort to place distance between Delilah and John while things settle once again. I spoke with Delilah the night after Robin and I had our candid talk, and mended fences as best I could so she would not begrudge Robin his newfound feelings.
Since then, things have been rather smooth, aside from the few nights when Gabrielle was allowed her first glimpses into reality. It was neither a success nor a failure, so I am still encouraged that it is possible for her to learn how to exist outside of her dream-world. Flynn has adopted her as his surrogate child, more or less, since he is no longer comfortable viewing her as a lover. Part of that is due to my place in his life, but it is also because he must care for her while teaching her, and that is difficult for lovers to do.
It amuses me to no end that after all these years of being a bachelor that not only do I have a husband, but a lover, a brother who is more than just a brother, and a family surrounding me. It is an odd nest that we have established, but one that I treasure each and every moment that passes. Our lives may not be simple ones but they are certainly full, and I would not trade any of the moments of the past year for all the riches and worldly possessions on this mortal coil. I have love. I have a home. And I am eager to see the future unfold as we catalog it through writing and poetry, music and moments. My family’s happiness is my own and I am utterly grateful for each of them, which makes me all the more thankful to Peter for sharing his life with me. The more we twine ourselves together, the more the world brightens around me. And I am finding it is far more than I could have ever wished for even in my wildest dreams.