Black Sun 009: Angela’s Confirmation (Original Draft)

Black Sun 009: Angela’s Confirmation (Original Draft)

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Julian’s lack of sleep was still on a winning streak. But she was so used to being tired all the time by now, that asking Michael to come out with her for a walk didn’t make much of a difference on how she physically felt. Though the fresh air and open space DID help clear her head, and that was a nice treat when lately her head was swimming with more stuff than she could keep track of. The day was overcast (she wouldn’t have asked him for a walk if it wasn’t vampire friendly!) and pleasantly chilly. Leaves in the trees were just barely starting to turn yellow now that the temperatures were getting cooler. Julian walked with her hands stuffed in to her coat pockets, and just close enough to Michael that ever so often their arms would brush together. Even though she didn’t need them today, her new sunglasses were sitting on her head keeping her hair from blowing in to her face.

Their conversation remained light and maybe even a little shallow. This was the first time Julian was really noticing how little they talk about anything beyond school or whatever random thing she had on her mind. Even psychic stuff didn’t come up unless she brought it up. Though, she supposed it must be normal when you were still getting to know someone new. Every relationship she was involved in prior had been with people she knew long before they ever became a thing. She and Michael were starting with nothing and having to learn from scratch.

It really wasn’t right that she knew so little.

If Julian didn’t have other intentions in mind, she might have explained how Bayer Bridge had become Silent Pines’ favorite romantic make-out point. Being surrounded by trees and only having access from small trails, it was a nice secluded place to go if you wanted to be alone. But then, he probably already knew this. He was a citizen of Silent Pines long before she was even alive.

Julian bit in to her cheek as they stopped on the bridge and she leaned over one of the railings to look down at the water. She was having second thoughts about bringing things up. Why was it so hard to ask him simple questions, when normally she had no problem blurting things out?

“I was wondering…” she started slowly, testing the words. “a lot of things.” Damnit. Julian took in a breath, there was no sense in being afraid to ask her BOYFRIEND important questions. “I am curious how it happened. When it happened. The vampire thing, I mean.” She could have winced. That was probably not the most elegant way to ask.

Michael had anticipated her questions, of course, but they still brought him up short. Things between them had been so pleasant, even after the disastrous end to their last evening out, that he’d gotten accustomed to their usual dynamic. He should have known it couldn’t last.

“Julian,” he sighed, his eyes mournful. “This isn’t a story you need to hear.”

A cell door swinging shut. Candlelight casting strange shapes on smooth stone. A fly crawling across pallid flesh.

He took Julian’s hand in his, entwining their fingers, and let his gaze drop down to the dark water below. The creek was flush from recent rain, the bottom shrouded by churned-up mud and shadow. A chill breeze ruffled his hair as he grasped the railing in his other hand and searched for answers.

“That was… a long time ago,” he continued. “What matters is what happens here, now.”

He had a particular way of making her feel terrible. Julian nearly decided to drop the entire thing. She knew it had to be a painful experience and hard to speak about. Human to vampire was sure to be traumatic, and she probably wasn’t even close to understanding how much.

But she couldn’t lecture Leo about these things, then turn around and be afraid to talk to her own boyfriend.

Julian squeezed Michael’s hand and stepped closer, leaning her hip against the rail. Her other hand slid along the railing to rest in front of him, almost as if she were afraid he’d rather jump in to the water than have this conversation. It was an intimate gesture, one a lot more forward than she had ever dared with Michael before.

“No.” she responded firmly, but gently. “What happened then matters now too. You wouldn’t be who you are otherwise, and how can we honestly be an US if you know everything there is to know about me and the most I know about you is that you have impeccable taste and require a little charm and a bribe for a dance.”

“So please tell me. I don’t want-” she paused, tilting her head back to sigh and take in another deep breath. “I don’t want to gleam something from you by accident and then go blabbering it out without knowing what I said. I don’t want to freak you out, or scare you, or hurt you.”

Something happened. It was obvious from her little verbal stumble, from the mix of worry and determination in her expression, her persistence. And since it had happened without Michael’s knowledge, he had a sneaking suspicion that Leo was involved. A bad taste formed in the back of his mouth. When had they been spending time together…? And what had Leo done now?

I’ll find out, he assured himself, setting it aside for now.

For now, he would need to assuage Julian’s concerns without causing her undue alarm.

“I can’t answer everything, Julian,” Michael warned her. “But… you can ask me anything you want to know, and I’ll try.”

It was the most he could promise her, and he hoped that it would be enough. Releasing a deep breath, Michael squeezed her hand and stared into her lovely hazel eyes.

“October 19th, 1894.” His eyes darkened. “My seventeenth birthday.”

Julian wanted everything, though. But she knew that would be a big request. It could come in pieces if it had to, and this was a good start. There was an immediate softening to her stance and she cast him a reassuring smile. She couldn’t change the past and fix things for him, but she could be a confidant and listen. She could be useful now.

He’s over a hundred years old.

Wow. The surprise of that realization didn’t register on her face beyond a slight widening of her eyes, and the soft, encouraging smile that followed. She reached out to pluck an invisible piece of fuzz from his shirt, and settled for gently twisting a button and fussing with the fabric of his shirt. Julian would have preferred to wrap her arms around him and hug him, but that seemed a bit awkward with topic of his story.

“Tell me what happened. How did you…” she trailed off, letting the rest go unsaid.

A bit down the trail was a very annoyed blonde wearing a knit hat and kick every rock that dared to get in her way. This was Leo’s fault. Stupid, drunk, pitiful Leo and his sadsack sulking over a dead girlfriend. He had a LEGITIMATE reason to wallowing in self pity since he believed he killed her.

And what had he started? Angela’s pity-train-express. Now she was walking down to the Bayer bridge for the second time in a month, with this pathetic need to be in the place she last talked to her exboyfriend and the minuscule STUPID hope that maybe she would see him there. No, not talked. Had a monumental fight, because the asshole refused to tell her what he was keeping secret. As if she hadn’t noticed something was wrong. As if he couldn’t trust her enough to tell her.

Then he was gone. Not a goodbye. Not an explanation. Just gone.

The bridge was still a good walk away but she could already see someone hanging around. …what the. Goddamnit Julian, you and your stupid psychic shit! Fuck. Julian WOULD pick the bridge to have her big boyfriend talk too. She wouldn’t have known where she got the idea from either. How did that girl even stay ALIVE this long, always picking up shit and showing up places where she shouldn’t… Angela muttered to herself, turning to just walk back home.


She paused casting a glance over her shoulder. Leo had a serious problem with Michael. It could just all be personal crap, but it was better to be safe than sorry, right? Julian wasn’t going to like her eavesdropping, but then Julian never did understand that sometimes you had to do bad things in order to do something good.

Angela turned off the trail just a bit, heading for the bank. It’d take a few extra minutes, but she’d be able to lurk under the bridge and catch at least some of that convo without being seen.

And if she got caught, well… Julian knew why she’d be there, and it’s not like Michael would care that she couldn’t stop being a moron about Caleb Whelan.

“…There was a party,” Michael began reluctantly. It had been a long time since he’d explained even this much to anyone. “I hated parties, so… even though I was the guest of honor, I sneaked away. That’s when I was bitten.”

Bloodshot, jaundiced eyes staring out of withered sockets. Sharp, stinging pain in Michael’s wrist, just over his hammering pulse. The sensation of thick, congealed fluid sliding down the back of his throat. An acrid smell, the smell of old death.

His hand reached up to cover Julian’s, stilling her fidgeting and bringing her fingers up to his left breastbone.

“I died that day, Julian. But my heart started beating again.” She would be able to feel it for herself, the rhythm slow and steady under her caress. That was what he wanted her to focus on: the proof that he was a breathing, living thing. Not something to be feared, something dead and cold.

Her hand splayed over his chest, the intent having the desired effect. She had wondered if there would be a beating heart in there. Leo insisted they were good and dead, but this didn’t feel dead to her. His aura was always cool, but electric. It most certainly didn’t feel dead.

There was a slight twitch of her nose and a perplexed expression, like she was drawing on something else. Julian was so awful at hiding what she was thinking, he’d know she wanted to ask something difficult just the look on her face. She was already biting in to her inner lip again trying to drag up the courage to do. Not just because of him, but because the answer would matter to her.

“And then…?” she asked. “A vampire drinks human blood, don’t they? What happened after you turned? Have you ever-” Killed someone, she was going to say. “hurt anyone?”

Wide, frightened eyes. A woman’s scream. Leo’s face, stunned and pale as fine china just waiting to be dashed on the floor.

“…I won’t lie to you, Julian,” Michael told her, his voice low and thick. “I’ve done things I’m not proud of, things I can’t ever take back. But I don’t- I don’t drink from humans anymore. I won’t be… that… ever again.”

Unbidden, a shudder rolled down his spine. No. Michael would never, ever allow himself to lose control again. That hunger… That wretched, violent thing… That wasn’t Michael. He was better than that. He made himself better than that, by his own power.

What the fuck. Angela was not the most graceful girl. Getting down to the bank without tripping on her ass or rolling down the hill in to the river took some work. And it was all nearly ruined at the phrase, I don’t drink from humans anymore. Her arms windmilled until she caught her balance again, pressing her back against one of the stone supports not far from Julian and Michael. They were pretty high up and hopefully far enough to keep her from interrupting, but it’d be too easy to mistake what they were saying. She listened with a frown.

Julian’s hands came up to embrace his face, thumbs brushing softly against his jawline. This was what she really wanted to know. Not what he did so much as who he wanted to be despite it. He chose not to be the monster. The other details could come in time, when he trusted her enough to tell her. Or better yet, when she decided it was time to ask. She wasn’t going to fear talking about it anymore.

She leaned upwards brushing a soft kiss over his mouth, then smiled sweetly. “Now you have me to help. No more battling your demons all on your own. But, there is one last thing…” there was that look again, another question. “…can you tell me about Leo? He won’t talk to me. I’m kind of worried he won’t talk to me ever again.” she confessed.

“Leo…” Michael fell silent, feeling the weight of the past in his hands. He wished he could drop it over the railing and watch it sink into the stream.

“Leo was more than my cousin, Julian. He was my best friend. We did everything together.” He pursed his lips. “And… a few days after I turned… there was a fire at the Laniers’. Leo was the only one I could save, but what I had to do to him to keep him from burning up… He never forgave me.”

Michael looked away.

“That’s why there are no Laniers left in Silent Pines,” he told Julian. “Leo was always… emotional. Impulsive. I think vampirism has only made that more acute. He thinks I don’t care for him, Julian, but you must believe me when I tell you that isn’t true.”

Lie. Something wasn’t true. All of it? No. Not all of it. There were pieces missing. But trying to pinpoint it was already flittering out of her grasp, replaced with a very deep empathy for Leo. He lost his entire family. His best friend made him a vampire. He spent the past hundred odd years being bitter and alone. Would she have felt differently? Was she going to head in that same direction?

There were too many questions, she was going too far and now her head was getting muddled with a million different things. She HAD to swallow it and get it under control. If she looked pained, Michael was going to think it was because he freaked her out or that she couldn’t handle any of this. It WAS scary, but she could handle it. She was going to learn to handle it.

“I believe you.” she finally said. “Leo is, hmm… You know, I think that is enough talk about things we can’t control.” Julian pushed it all as far out of her head as she could, setting her focus on one of the buttons on his shirt until she knew it was gone. Then she tilted her head back to smile. “Thank you for answering my questions. I’m sure as time goes by I’ll have to ask less and less.” Her smile turned cheeky, and it couldn’t be certain if she meant because he’d tell her on his own or because she’d just know.

Angela was still down below scowling even more. Michael was a vampire. He turned Leo in to a vampire. Julian wasn’t going to point out that was kiiiind of a dick move for someone who loved his bestie? Although, MAYBE Angela could get it. If something happened to Julian, she might not be in her right mind either. Circumstances, context, blah blah blah.

The rest was major levels of tragic, and that didn’t even include where ever Sadie came in to the mix. No wonder the dumbass was messed up. And Julian wasn’t asking MORE questions? What the hell was the fire all about? Angela had some vague recollection about a fire involving on of the founding families. But there had been a couple fires over the years. Damnit, now she was going to have to do research. Research was so epicly boring.

Hissing a grumble under her breath, she moved from her spot to leave. There was no way she was staying for the lovey-dovey parts. Not here in THIS place.

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