"Hi," said Bill as he stepped into the room Christine had been given. His tone had been soft and restrained, and tinged with more than a bit of concern, and it caused Christine to at least attempt to smile at him.
It was not one of her better attempts at something.
"Still down in the mouth, I see," he offered, setting next to her on her bed.
"Believe it or not, we've got the roof cleaned up. Pretty much. And they found Timms. He passed out in the C-130 that Alpha Team flew here in, after trashing all of their equipment, and most of the plane's systems. Aberon's not letting anyone see him yet, but apparently he over exerted himself, pushed his new self a little too hard."
"What about Bear?" asked Christine, her voice so low as to be inaudible to anyone without enhanced senses.
"He, uh, hasn't turned up yet," said Bill, putting his arm around her, trying to offer some comfort. "Aberon offered to send some people out looking for him, but Roy thinks he just needs some time alone."
"I'm sorry," whispered Christine, only marginally louder than before. "I let you all down."
"No, no, no," said Bill, taking her face in his hand and turning her to look at him. "You put the biggest chink in his arm. If it hadn't been for what you did, then we never would have stopped him."
"If I hadn't lost it, then we might have stopped him sooner," protested Christine, chastising herself. "All of those people needn't have died."
"No one needs to die, Chrissy, that's just…"
"Don't call me that," she hissed, slapping him across the face and leaping from the bed. "Don't you ever call me that!"
"Okay, pet names are out," said Bill, rubbing the side of his face.
"I'm sorry," said Christine, looking wrought out and ready to crumble even further apart. "Only one person ever called me that."
"Jacob," said Bill, standing and taking her in his arms. He could feel her trembling, quaking with the sure knowledge that she had been responsible for everything that had gone wrong last evening. It was a wrong knowledge, but it would take a lot to convince her of that, to pull her out of her remorse and return her to herself.
He only prayed that it was something that he could accomplish.
"You saw," she concluded. "When we were linked, you saw him. Saw my memories."
"No, not really," said Bill. "I got…impressions. Feelings. I knew something had happened to you in the past, something that involved Jacob and Dimitri, but not what."
Christine gently pushed him back, then turned and walked about the room, her hands clasped to her chin like a person in prayer. Despite the small size of the room, she made good use of the space, twirling and pacing about, her demeanor that of a person trying to make a difficult decision. In one moment, her face would appear determined, as if she had made a choice and was going to see it through. In the next, her lips would quiver and her eyes would moisten anew, her façade seeming on the verge of collapsing.
"Christine," broached Bill, reaching out to touch her shoulder and stop her pacing. "What ever it is, you can tell me."
She looked at him then, her eyes so full of remorse that it made him cringe inside for her, feeling a kinship to her pain that went beyond mere recognition. It was possible, he imagined, that he was still linked to her, though very subtly, and that he was actually experiencing her pain, but he doubted it.
He believed that he hurt because she hurt.
"Let me help," he pleaded.
Christine nodded, then took his hands in hers, and led him back over to the bed, setting upon it. She looked into his eyes, smiling sadly, but certainly, then revealed her thoughts.
"I…I haven't been completely open with you," she started, her tone cautious. "When we've…bonded, I kept my shields up, hiding much of my life from you."
"What do you mean?"
"When you fed from the guard, you mentioned how you experienced everything. His entire life."
"Yeah," agreed Bill, feeling a bit of shame, and a bit of…hunger? He pushed that thought down deep, hoping that she had not somehow picked up on it.
"But you didn't feel that with me, did you?" She looked at him openly, like she was seeking his forgiveness, but for what, he did not know. He simply nodded, inviting her to continue. "That was because I had my shields up, keeping you from areas of my mind that I didn't want you in. Not yet, any ways."
"But I learned so much from you then," he said, not understanding what she was trying to tell him. "I mean, we, uh, you know…enjoyed it."
"I shared the experience with you, the pleasure of it, but I did not open myself to you like you did to me."
"I opened up to you?"
"Yes, you did. I mean, you weren't aware of it, but you did. That first time, when you took your step to becoming a Halfling…I saw your entire life. I couldn't help it, you had no shields, it was part of the bonding."
"And the second time?" he asked, a little angry that she had not shared this information with him before. "I don't remember learning anything of this from you."
"I had to find out what kind of person you were first," she said, hoping to justify herself to him. "Not all of us can make the transition to Halfling, some…. Some of us go beyond that."
"What could be worse?" he asked.
"I want to try and make things up to you," she said, passing over his question. "I want to share my life with you."
"Uh, yeah, well, I'm, uh, really flattered, and I'm pretty certain that I've got some very strong feelings for you too, but…"
"I ment that I want to bond with you, without my shields," she clarified, smacking in the arm playfully. "I want you to know all that I am."
"Oh," he admonished, blushing slightly.
Christine undid the top three buttons of her blouse, pulling her collar back to reveal the nape of her neck, and looked at Bill expectantly. Her eyes shown with not only desire, but with need. The need to share with him what she had covertly taken from him, and to try and make up for the mistakes that she imagined were entirely her fault.
Bill thought to ask her if she were certain, if this was what she really wanted from him, but when he looked into her eyes, he saw all of the answer that he needed. He felt pride in her at that moment, at her willingness to toss aside what ever doubt had restrained her before, and it warmed him. Extending his incisors, he leaned in and bit into her neck, the warmth of her blood flowing through him like never before.
Her past became his past.
Her world became his world.
Her life became his life…
He knew only red warmth and love…
He knew emerging into the world…
He knew the curiosity of a child…
He knew the love of a devoted mother…
He knew the hate for a father that abandoned them…
He knew the loss of a mother that was the only one that cared for him…
He knew how simple, yet how hard, life had been in the late 1800's…
He knew the degradation of having to sell your body to survive…
He knew how cruel that men could be…
He knew what it was like to be attacked by a vampire…and to be saved from that creature by a noble man…
He knew the love for a parent that was not truly that…and he knew the loss yet again of one so loved, at the hands of Dimitri…
And he knew the black abyss that can consume one that has given up hope, and he knew that blackness for a very, very long time…
Bill moved to pull away from her, to withdraw himself from memories that he doubted she could fully conjure up but that he was experiencing with senses shattering clarity. He moved to pull away from her, but she held on to him tightly, wanting him to know her fully, to experience her life as she had, and to pass onto him knowledge that she felt he should have.
Those reasons compelled her to continue their bonding, their merging, their joining of each other's souls. Those reasons and another, which she kept hidden from him, blocked by shields that she would not let him detect, or even know about. She loved him, of that she was certain, but she also feared him, and the darkness that she had seen in him.
"Lords in waiting", echoed Jacob's voice through her mind, reverberating within the shields she had erected. "Lords in waiting".
Nearly half a century was spent stumbling through the world, smothered by the darkness, finally re-emerging into the light through the kind actions of a stranger…
A stranger that turned out to be one of their kind, though much younger than her, and one that became her first lover…her first friend…her first true companion…
The rest of her memories were of pleasant times, traveling the world, seeing the wonders that nature and humankind had to offer…
And then they encountered Elizabeth, a dark vampire Mistress more than five centuries old, and Adam fell to her dark charms…
He knew a strength born of experience, and a determination forged with confidence and certainty, and he knew the exhilaration of felling a Mistress…
And he knew a different perspective of the fear that came with the changing of the world…
He knew skills and abilities that he had not dreamt of, and how those gifts had led her to him…
And he knew that she still kept something from him…
Christine was somewhat surprised at how quickly Bill absorbed the history that she released to him, and as she felt his own mental probes beginning to explore the recesses of her mind, she broke from him. Bill felt the room rush about him, his own senses being pulled back into reality, and he leaned back from Christine, wondering about her sudden mood swing.
"S-sorry," stammered Christine, swooning slightly. "I think that was a little more intense than I was prepared for."
"No problem," said Bill, feeling a bit wary, and a lot guilty for feeling that way. "That was…different."
"It's suppose to be," she said, laying her head against his chest. "It wasn't sensual, it was an exchange of information."
"We, uh, can do it the other way," she said teasingly, looking up at him.
He smiled at her, letting his concerns fade away, and wondered if perhaps he had been imagining her sudden apprehension. Christine traced the length of his neck with her incisor, inducing a pleasant shudder within him, and felt his own fangs lengthen once again.
The moment screeched to a halt as someone knocked at the door.
"It's Diane," said Christine, having grown accustomed to the sense of life that was a part of Diane.
"I know," concurred Bill, likewise sensing Diane's life energy.
"Should I come back later?" came Diane's voice.
"Come on in," invited Christine, pulling away from Bill and leaning her back against the wall.
"Hi," beamed Diane, stepping into the room. "Roy wanted me let you know what was going on, so…"
"Have a seat," said Bill, motioning to a table and chair, the only other furniture in the room. "Take a load off."
Diane frowned at him for a moment, pondering if her had been sincere or playfully insulting her, then sat down, and informed them of what was going on with the others.
"Well, Timms did a hell of a number on Alpha Team's plane," she started, "but they have a couple of techs with them, and they're working on the 747. It should be ready by morning."
"Good," said Christine, "then we can leave for Germany soon."
"Yeah. Roy and Trent are working out the details, they want to time it so we arrive during daylight. Don't want to give Bart any undo opportunities."
"Any thing on Bear yet?" asked Bill.
"No. They found one of the vehicles missing, but he could be any where by now. We can't wait on him, though. If he hasn't turned up by the time we're ready to leave…."
"But he's our pilot," countered Bill. "Well, him and…oh, yeah, Dillman."
"Alpha's taking over piloting duties. Apparently, a Colonel Maybourne has taken command of everything, for now, and he's behind us one hundred percent."
"Hey, we've got back up," exclaimed Christine.
"Not to mention the, uh, ones from the pack that want to go with us," added Diane. "I'd say we're going to have a pretty full flight when we leave."
"Um, what about Dillman?" asked Bill. "Are we going to have a service, or something, for him?"
Diane looked away from them for a moment, intent on studying the plainness of the walls, appearing as if she was uncertain of how to say something.
"What's wrong?" asked Christine.
"We, uh…. We can't find his body. After everything was done, and we started clean up, some men went down to…retrieve it, and it wasn't there."
"Bear?" wondered Bill, exchanging mystified glances with the others.
"Maybe he wanted to bury Dillman in private," offered Diane, having already had this conversation with Roy and Winger. She rose from her chair, smiling sadly at them, then said "anyhow, John's waiting for me. We're going to get something to eat."
"Nice," said Bill, though not as friendly as intended it to sound.
"He seems so," shot back Diane, turning to the door. "You two enjoy your night. Our group's going to get a lot bigger tomorrow."
TO BE CONTINUED…
A/N: And this is the end of season 3 of Nightfall. Season 4 will pick up sometime in the not too distant future, and will be the conclusion to the series.
On another note, I intend to pull Nightfall soon, and repost it in groupings of seasons, just so there aren't so many chapters to go through.