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Opposites by Tasha

Opposites is a Highlander/Kindred : the Embraced Xover.


Part 6

The situation was way too complicated to explore just now, but there were just a few pieces of information Julian wanted.

"Do you know where you've been for the last couple of days?" he asked calmly as Lillie entered the room silently behind Richie.

The Immortal shook his head, everything was fuzzy.

"Paints," he said slowly, "all I remember is, there were paints."

"How about who embraced you?" Julian suspected that he was not going to get an answer, but he tried anyway.

His subject just looked blank.

"It has to have been Alexae," the voice was Lillie's and she walked round to get a better look at the man who had so recently wrecked part of her club. "I should have realised earlier. He hasn't been around since this one disappeared, I just assumed he was creating something, until I was informed what had walked into the Haven this evening. Alexae took an interest at the club the other night, I didn't think he'd go this far."

Again a name caused a reaction in Richie and the image of lying on a couch half naked while a man painted him flashed through his mind. Then the memory turned red and became unclear again.

"Didn't want to loose me," was what Richie found himself say, even though he had no idea where the thought came from.

"Where is he now?" Julian did not let up on the questions, there was no telling how long the young man would remain rational.

There was real concentration on the Immortal's face as he tried to remember at least a scrap of information, but the mists in his muddled mind would not clear. There were barriers in his mind that he did not understand and could not get past.

"I don't know," he said finally, "there are just these big blanks."

The Prince looked up at Cash and the Gangrel disappeared, he knew where Alexae should be and he was going to check. If the Toreador had gone to so much trouble to create a childe it was unlikely he would have just let him go.

It seemed that there was little information to be had out of Richie and in this state he seemed very pliable. Julian exerted only a little of his own power and the Immortal calmed visibly. His heart was beating in a slow rhythm, and he looked more human than vampire.

"Why don't you wait in the other room," the Prince suggested calmly, "we have some business to deal with, and it looks like you could do with some rest. There's a large couch in there and Daedalus will show you the way. If there's anything you need, just ask."

The Immortal didn't even try to protest, he just excepted the hospitality without even considering the ulterior motives behind it.

As the Nosferatu walked back into the conference room he found his compatriots sitting in their respective seats, and Frank pacing around nervously.

"He found a pencil and paper on the table," Daedalus observed calmly, "and appears totally absorbed in drawing pictures of you."

He looked directly at Lillie, but she said nothing.

"He did that at my place," the cop commented and tried to bring his feet under control. "He's been with me all day, and take it from me, he has no problem with daylight."

"Why didn't you bring him straight here, Frank?" Julian asked and managed to make it sound almost like it wasn't an accusation.

The man looked unhappy by the tone of the question, he didn't like his actions being questioned.

"I would have done, but he didn't want to come," the cop shot back, "and if you expected me to argue with him, you have to be mad. The guy has hearing like a wolf, and was sleeping next to the phone, what did you expect me to do?"

It was a sensible argument and Julian decided that maybe Frank had had no choice. At least everything seemed to be going their way for now.

"Okay," Luna said calmly, "but what I want to know is what has Alexae created with his meddling? There is power in our new associate that cannot come from any source I know."

There were ways that Kindred could increase their individual abilities other than just surviving, but not to the extent that they could take on a Nosferatu after just days. It was Daedalus to whom all eyes turned.

"I cannot explain the source of his prowess," the white skinned man said evenly, "but I will say that I believe it is fading. In the few moment for which I was in contact with him, I believe I actually felt his abilities diminish. It was only marginal but it was definitely there."

He looked at the other two Kindred thoughtfully.

"I had thought the stories I had heard of other eternal beings to be legend until proof of their existence was shown to me," he continued calmly. "Since they actually exist it is logical to assume that the tales are not all fiction either. If so it would seem that to combine an Immortal and a Kindred would be to try and pair direct opposites. They are fundamentally alive, we are fundamentally dead, I would hazard a guess that by his very nature, Mr Ryan cannot be one of us. I would therefore go as far as saying, I believe he is becoming human again. I cannot say how long it will take, but I would suggest we keep him here until the truth of the matter is revealed."

Daedalus never spoke unless he meant it, so Julian just accepted what he said. He nodded and glanced around calmly.

"That leaves the mystery of how it is he feels like a Toreador of more than a few centuries," the Prince said slowly. "Even if this problem finds it's own solution, I would still like to know how it came about. This is something we do not want to happen again."

The others nodded in agreement, even Frank could see the sense in that. Unfortunately for him, his beeper chose just the wrong moment to go off.

"Damn," he said loudly and then looked at Julian. "Can I use your phone, please?"

The Ventrue half smiled, but nodded as well. It seemed like such a normal event amidst what had been complete chaos. There was a lot of talking to be done, and Julian expected trouble from Cameron's direction, thanks to what Richie had done to the Brujah. As the cop disappeared through the door, he called the meeting to order once more.

There were no signs of life at Alexae's apartment as Cash and two of his most trusted clan mates walked up the stairs to the penthouse. It was only as they came through the last floor door, into what was almost a lobby that anything untoward became apparent. Lillie's money paid for private security and no nosy neighbours, but even so it was usually wise to shut the front door. The three Gangrel headed for the inner sanctum swiftly and silently.

They were met by an utter mess: there was furniture every where, and spots of paint over just about everything, almost as if someone had thought to create a work of art. There was a strange order in the chaos and even as they looked, the three Kindred found their eyes dragged to the centre of the room where they immediately saw the major exhibit.

On a table in front of a very large canvas, Alexae was lying, sprawled over the surface with a paintbrush sticking out of his heart. If it hadn't been quite so serious a matter it might actually have been funny. An Artiste, paralysed by his own tools. Richie had not stopped there, however, and if any of the recently arrived Kindred had been Toreador they would have admired the workmanship. Alexae had had most of his blood drained via a slit in the side of his neck, but his childe had not used it to bolster his own power. Instead, in his rage and madness, the young Toreador had used it to create, and on the canvas was a tonal study of Lillie.

The blood painting was perfect, down to the finest detail, but that really wasn't what was on Cash' mind as he hurried to the side of the prone vampire. He didn't even hesitate as he gripped and pulled out the wooden shaft, releasing Alexae from paralysis. He expected a show of anger, even though the Toreador would be weak from lack of blood, what he did not think would happen was what did.

"My god, he's magnificent," were the first words out of the older Kindred's mouth.

The helpless creature had been lying there all day, and his first sentence was in praise of the Kindred who had done this to him.

"It was incredible," the Toreador insisted with all the strength he had left, "he was so powerful. And this," he turned to the canvas and actually smiled, "has so much style."

At that the Gangrel Primogen decided he would never understand his Toreador cousins, and chose to ignore the reaction. He had a feeling Alexae was lucky to be alive, but he wasn't going to comment.

"The Prince would like to see you," he said evenly, "we have a car downstairs."

The older vampire didn't seem to really hear him, he appeared entranced by the painting, but he had no strength to resist when he was politely herded towards the door.

"Stay here and make sure no-one disturbs anything," Cash told one of his companions, "I think Mr Luna will want to see this."

Then he took his charge out of the apartment, and left his associate with the somewhat disturbing painting.

There had been no measure of time as far as Richie was concerned as he sat by the window and drew on the pad that he had found. He had no understanding of his need to create, and before Alexae, would have claimed no ability either. The pencil seemed to have a mind of it's own, and he was actually quite content as he produced a miniature portrait of the Primogen of his clan. It was only as he finished it that he found his outlook had changed once again.

He smiled to himself, once more in the grip of Kindred passions and gazed around with vampire senses. No heart beat sounded in his chest, and the night filled his mind.

It was not the angry want of power which drove him now, but it seemed to be a fusion of childlike wonder and a taste for freedom. He really had little idea what he was doing, but without hesitating he put the picture aside, stood up and flexed his powers of shape-changing for the first time. Nobody notice the eagle which soared out the window as if it had been born to the sky.

They found him gone only a few minutes later, and Julian was not very happy.

"He may become human again soon," he said with a cool anger, "but for now he is my problem. Get Duncan MacLeod over here, we need to know what we are up against."

He turned and stalked into his study, leaving the others to do his bidding.

The roof top was like hundreds of others all over the city, but the bird swooped down as it saw a shape which caught it's interest. Almost as soon as he touched down, the Kindred morphed back into his own shape, and stood staring at the back of the person who had attracted his attention. She was pale against the night sky, dressed in a long white dress with only a battered leather jacket against the chill of the air. Her hair fell in long blond tresses around her shoulders and for a long moment Richie just stood there looking at her.

She was staring down at the road below the apartment building as if fascinated by the distance, and her sorrow was almost tangible to the vampire behind her. He was as silent as the moon, and she had no idea he was there, not until he spoke.

"Are you going to jump?" he asked in a voice that could have charmed the birds from the trees.

Her back tensed slightly, but she did not look round at him.

"What's it to you if I am?" she asked in a cold, deriding tone.

"Oh nothing," Richie replied calmly, "I was just wondering. Do you live here, or did you just pick this building because it's high?"

She laughed at that, she hadn't expected him to be quite so remote about the whole thing. The question really did make him sound as if he was just curious.

"I live here," she replied, eyes still intent on the drop below her, "not that anyone cares. I'm going to fall past all those closed windows, let them see me jump to my death. Then they'll know my name, then they'll realise I exist. The mouse from number 46, finally done something with her life to warrant notice."

She felt his closeness before she actually looked up to find him standing on the edge right next to her. He was watching her with wide open blue eyes, but much to her surprise he was not reaching for her. There was a slightly sad expression on his face, but his gaze told her that he was not going to stop her if she chose to step into thin air.

"Maybe I can give you something that is better than that," he said quite calmly and smiled.

It was the smile that made her tremble inside, and the eyes which made her reach out her hand.

The phone call had not really surprised MacLeod, he had been waiting for them to get round to him. In the days he had spent nosing around he had come to the conclusion that Richie was not dead, and that the peculiar community around Lillie that was not quite the underworld, had something to do with his disappearance. Julian Luna was a man with a past which did not quite add up, and the Highlander recognised the signs. The fact that he was now invited to the man's mansion was not much of a shock.

He had been admitted by a young looking man with a slightly wild look about him, and he was shown into a room with a large table and several cold faced people. Lillie and Julian he recognised, most of the others he had seen around, but had no names for the faces. Only a stunning individual with long brown hair and classically good looking features gave him someone to look at he had not seen before.

End of Part 6