Brenda Thompson Brown - Tremere

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Time Heals All Wounds

Brenda: Time Heals All Wounds

“You are the beat of my heart
You are the face of my sun
You are the star of my night
You are the crown of my company.”

Book of Kells
My visit with Victoria had been a very revealing one, to say the least even though it only served to begin my night of troubles. Two days ago, Elvira had asked me to do a translation for her that was originally written in Zulu. To be honest, because of all the reading I’d been trying to do in the last few weeks, it was the last thing that I wanted to do but Elvira is the Prince after all, and my boss. There was no way that I could say no. It was my job.

She didn’t say what the translation was for and I didn’t ask. I figured it was more clan business that I had dealt with many times over for her, so I called the university in Cairo as per the Prince’s instructions and gave them a story and a promise of a large payment, and I had the translation for her two nights later. Tonight.

As soon as I received the fax, I called the Chantry and quickly changed out of the pair of jeans and sweatshirt that I had taken to wearing lately, so that I could deliver the document to Elvira without delay. I was sure that whatever the translation was for, it was important to her and I didn’t want her to wait on my account.

Come to find out, the translation was actually for my friend, Victoria Monroe and after a quick glance at the sheet I had handed her, Elvira asked that I take the document to her.

“Of course, My Prince,” I told her, even though all I really wanted to do was get back home to the two hundred plus pages of chemistry reading that I hoped to get through, and understand, by dawn. Within minutes, however, I was back in the Roadster and on my way to Victoria’s house that was only a few miles from the Chantry.

I arrived at Victoria’s a few minutes later and when she asked if I had the number for the university still, I told her I had it at home and that I would call Rafe to get it. My mind was busy going over the material in the chapters I wanted to read that night as I dialed the number the house on Elm Street so when Rafe answered and teased me about something rather trivial, I was rather short with him which is normally something I never do.

“Bren, honey, you’re pushing yourself too hard,” he said in a tightly controlled voice that he was trying to keep even.

This was our newest point to argue over. I knew that he was concerned about me and the schedule that I had been keeping lately, but for some reason the questioning put me instantly on edge and the only thing that kept me from totally going off was the fact that Victoria and Angel were both still in the room.

In an effort to get a grasp on what we were dealing with in the testing that Victoria and I were doing, I had been rising during the day, when the sun is still out, which can be a bad thing for me to do. It takes a great deal of blood for a Kindred to wake when the sun is still up but if it gave me a few more hours to try to comprehend what was going on, then it was a price I was willing to pay to feel useful to Victoria.

“You know that I need to do this in order to help,” I told him in a low voice as I moved away from where Victoria and Angel were standing, both of them eyeing my warily.

“Do you think that Christina is really going to appreciate you nearly killing yourself for her?” Rafe asked, the anger he was trying to hide now very evident.

He had crossed the line and both of us knew it. I was silent for a few seconds as I tried to not sound angry in return but it didn’t work. “Now is not the time to discuss this,” I told him tightly.

“Fine,” he said. During our short conversation he had managed to get downstairs to my office that was next to his and I could now hear him shuffling through the papers I had left on top of it until he found the paper with the number Victoria wanted. Without any other comment, he rattled off the number to me and we hung up with a heavy, negative energy between us.

I instantly hated the words and the tone I had taken with him and I partially wished that I could take them back. I thought that he understood the need I had to do whatever I could for my sister because I knew she would do the same if our roles were reversed. My feelings were hurt by the thought that he was letting his own warped sense that she had wronged us while we were in Detroit was getting in the way of him understanding what I had to do.

I dreaded the confrontation that I was sure awaited me when I got home. I parked in the front of the house and went in through the enormous set of oak doors and proceeded to make my way through the first floor rooms, looking for Rafe. When I didn’t find him there I figured that he was catching up on some work in his office in the basement so I went down there next. Finding those rooms empty as well, I began to get concerned as I mounted the stairs and made my way to the second floor.

He wasn’t in our room, and a quick glance in the other two rooms said that he wasn’t there, either. I was beginning to get worried and I cursed myself for not parking in the garage so I could have known if his car was still there or not. I would never admit it to anyone, but I was incredibly terrified that one day Rafe would get fed up with all the shit that he has had to deal with in our relationship and that he would pack up and leave me. Of course logistically, there was still the blood bond to deal with, but using my sister as an example, it was possible to break a blood bond with time and dedication.

As I started up the last set of stairs that would lead me to the third floor, I began to worry that this last disagreement was the straw that had broken the camel’s back. There was no way that I could think about the possibility of life without Rafe in it and as I entered the hallway on the third floor I could have sworn that my hands were clammy with nerves.

I went straight to the room that Rafe had used for a study before we opened the agency and I had to admit that I was afraid to look inside to see if he was there. Because if he was than that meant only one thing, he wanted to be alone. He only came up here when something was really bothering him and he needed time to think. This definitely counted as one of those times.

Taking a deep breath, I peaked in the room and saw Rafe sitting at the desk with a book propped on its surface. “Hi,” I said quietly as I hesitantly entered the room.

Rafe glanced up at me briefly and he looked at me thoughtfully. “Hi,” he replied before returning his attention to his book again.

“What are you doing?” I asked as I took a step further into the room. I did something in that instant that I rarely did because I always felt like I was cheating when I did. I read his aura. The colors I saw told me he was angry and frustrated which didn’t do much to make me think this discussion was going to end up being one where we asked about each others day. I was relieved though when I also saw love and desire there, as well as commitment to something. But something else bothered me. I also saw fear and wondered what Rafe could possibly be afraid of.

“Just some history stuff,” he replied in a monotone voice as he flipped the front cover of the book so that I could see it. Then he went back to reading.

“Rafe,” I started in a rush, and then I stopped and looked at the floor. I hadn’t bothered to stop anywhere to take off my coat when I had gotten back to the house and I still had the case that I had taken to the Chantry with me, so I at least had something to do with my hands. “Talk to me. I hate it when you’re mad.” He sighed and let the book tip a bit until it was almost flat on the desk. “I’m not mad,” he said but wasn’t convincing about it. “Rafe, please,” I said as I tipped my head back and looked at the ceiling and decided to take the plunge. “I know that you are concerned about the hours that I have been keeping and I also know that you question Christina and how grateful she may, or may not be about the work that I’m doing for her. But don’t you see, it’s not just about Christina. Not entirely. I need to be able to be helpful in these rituals and research that Victoria is doing. I have to be able to pull my weight. Otherwise, why should I be involved?”

Rafe let the book slip all the way down this time and stood. Then, without a trace of anger on his features, he deliberately crossed the room until he stood in front of me where he took the case from my hands and tossed it on the floor, then he took me by the shoulders.

“Brenda, you cannot do everything,” he started as he squeezed my arms gently. “You haven’t been a Kindred long enough to learn half of the things Victoria has. I know you think that you have to study twice as hard to catch up, but you’re going to burn yourself out.

“Do you think Elvira knows everything about everything?” he asked, but when I opened my mouth to reply he plowed ahead and didn’t give me a chance to respond. “She doesn’t. What she doesn’t know, she relies on other to know.

“I know my opinion doesn’t mean much in you clan, but you are my wife, Brenda,” I heard the words catch in his throat and I felt the tears as they welled up in my eyes at the amount of emotion in his voice. “And part of my vows were to take care of you. I know this is important to you, and I’m willing to help in whatever way I can, but I will not watch you run yourself into the ground over an ung—Christina, do you understand me?” He shook me slightly to get his point across as he wound down.

My eyes had fallen to his chest during the last part of his statement as I tried to get my tears under control. “I know that I don’t know everything, Rafe. And I also know that Victoria has been around longer than I have, but don’t you see,” I countered as I lifted my eyes to his again and reached up to take the front of his shirt in my hands tightly. “This is the only way I can help her. I don’t have powerful mage contacts that can snap their fingers and come up with a ritual that could bring back her memories. I don’t just ‘happen’ to come across black Thaumaturgy rituals that could do the same thing. I just have my mind and the ability to learn and help. It’s all I have and I have to do something or I will go nuts.”

I didn’t make these comments in an accusatory fashion, but I realized that I had become bitter because I knew that I needed to be the one to fix what happened to my sister. Christina disappeared from my house and I couldn’t stop it. It was all my fault and I had to fix things. Make them right again.

Rafe shook his head as if with just that action he could make me change my mind. “Brenda, what happened to Christina is not your fault, it’s hers,” he began as he ran his hands up and down my arms reassuringly. “Don’t you think that if she’d just called out, Jason or Frasier wouldn’t have heard her?”

He released one of my arms and used his fingers to gently tip my head until our eyes met. “She chose to go with them, Brenda. She chose to try and help Malcolm. Her choice, not yours. You’re not the only one working on this, remember? It doesn't matter who finds the fix for her memory, as long as it’s found, right?”

He paused for a moment as his eyes narrowed and he looked at me with a suspicious expression. “Unless it’s your pride talking, Brenda. Is that it? Do you want to be the one to ride up on the big white horse and save her?”

I felt myself pulled away from Rafe as if he had slapped me with his question. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I hissed as I moved toward the door to the hall blindly. I couldn’t believe how close he had come to knowing exactly how I felt but it wasn’t exactly how he thought. “This has nothing to do with who finds what. This is about Chris and giving her her life back.” I felt really close to freaking out at that moment and I was trying to keep calm but I heard my voice rising even as I tried to control my hands at my sides instead of lashing out at him.

“I know you don’t believe in her anymore,” I pointed out harshly as I felt my head shake in disbelief. “But she’s still my sister and how do you think it would look if I didn’t help?

“You went through hell in Detroit and I will never forget that,” I continued. “But does it all have to be for nothing?” I asked as I pointed to the floor, then turned away from him because I didn’t want to see the pain that formed in his emerald eyes every time the city or the Sabbat were mentioned in his presence. “Would it be better to not do anything?”

“It would be better if you didn’t burn yourself out trying to fix everything,” Rafe countered, his voice rising as well. “You’re going to miss something somewhere, Brenda. You’re taking on too much. Christina knows you’re trying to help her, Christ, everyone does. Forget about what happened to me, Brenda. I’m more concerned with you right now.”

I faced him with a look of pure horror and outrage at his ludicrous statement. “Forget what happened to you?” I asked, not knowing how he could stand there and tell me to do it. “How can I? You won’t even talk about what really happened. So instead I get to let my mind make things up. No, I won’t do this--” I said, stopping myself in mid sentence as I turned to leave the room, then I stopped and turned to him again.

“We all have our demons, Rafael Brown,” I told him in an even tone, knowing that my face gave away the anger that I felt even as tears threatened to spill down my face. “Don’t forget that. We all sometimes have a need to prove what we are capable of.” That said, I turned again and left the room.

I only made it a few, slow steps when I heard something really large hit a wall with tremendous force. It sounded like Rafe had picked up the desk, or something similar to it in size, and had hurled it across the room, probably by using blood to increase his strength to do it. I stopped where I stood and leaned my back against the wall in defeat as the tears I had struggled so hard to control fell down my cheeks in large, wet drops.

As soon as I had left the room I had regretted what I had said to him in anger, but I knew that if this marriage was going to survive, then we had to be honest with each other. I had waited for Rafe to feel comfortable and safe enough to share what the Sabbat had done to him and when he had said to forget about the whole situation I had snapped. Eventually I slid to the floor to listen as continued sounds of destruction resounded from the room for several minutes more and I was sure Rafe was destroying everything in the small space. After a time, there was absolute silence.

I waited for about five minutes to see what he was going to do next and when I heard nothing I was afraid that he might have hurt himself in his rage. I stood and wiped my face as I moved along the wall until I stood in the doorway again and what I saw really scared me.

The room looked as if a tornado had swept through it. The desk and three chairs that had once occupied the room were now in pieces, scattered around the room like shards of broken trees. Papers, books and other items littered the floor with the mangled wood of the furniture in a scene that reminded me of something you saw only in war movies. Even the pictures were off the walls and the glass and frames lay ruined along with everything else. Rafe was sitting in the middle of the destruction on his knees with his back to the door, but that didn’t stop me from knowing that he was crying silently.

There was a broken picture frame near Rafe on the floor with a picture of him and Howie and his other friends from New York, including Nick. I remembered the picture from our early days together when I still wondered if Rafe missed the younger man he had been involved with before he left the city, since he displayed the picture up here, in his private sanctuary away from the rest of the world. The realization slammed into me like a Mack truck about how much Rafe’s life had changed since he met me and I felt a tightening around my heart again by the hurt he was going through at my expense.

Even though it pained me to see him like this, I knew that it was the first time Rafe had cried since the incident in Detroit. I went to him, concerned that he may have hurt himself in his rage, and as I knelt beside him I looked for blood as put my arms around him. “Baby, I’m sorry,” I choked out as he put his arms around me, too, and held me so tightly that I was glad that I didn’t have to breathe. “I didn’t mean it,” I whispered. “Please…I’m sorry.”

From the look of things, Rafe had a few minor cuts and scrapes on his hands and arms but I wouldn’t know the extent of the damage he had done to himself until I had a chance to look him over. His sobs continued for at least fifteen minutes and I just sat there next to him and held him as I said over and over how much I loved him and that everything was going to be okay.

I hated to be the one responsible for causing him so much pain, but I also knew that it wasn’t good for Rafe to keep what had happened to him locked inside, so that it continued to fester until it eventually destroyed him.

As the tears and sobs subsided I realized that he had begun to speak. It wasn’t coherent at first, but then I realized that what he was actually doing was telling me what I had wanted to know. What had happen that day in Detroit when he had been taken by the Sabbat and I stilled tensely so that I didn’t miss another word.

“I went to pick up the things you needed for the ritual,” he said as his body continued to convulse periodically from the time he had spent crying. He went on to quietly detail how he had found everything we had needed for the ritual to begin the process of returning Christina’s memories and as he was leaving the store he had felt a dart hit him in the back of his neck and then everything went black after that.

“I woke up in the basement of that house but I didn’t know where I was,” he went on and he finally lifted his head from my chest but his eyes never rose to meet mine. “Then I saw Frasier and Petor, but I barely had time to make sure they were okay before their ghouls came in and separated us. Oh God, I felt so helpless as they pulled me away, Brenda. I couldn’t stop them.” My heart constricted by what he was saying and all I wanted to do was take those memories away. Wipe their existence from his mind.

Then, as if he were in a trance, Rafe went on to tell about the beating that began once he had been separated from the others, and how he knew it would get worse when the sun went down and the vampires joined in the ‘fun’, and of course he was right.

He stumbled through how it felt to be forcibly fed from, how he could hear Frasier and Petor screaming through the wall that had been constructed between him and them and how he couldn’t stop from screaming himself.

My stomach knotted as Rafe relayed the details of what had been done to him and I ran my hands over him protectively as if I could remove those memories with my very touch, but deep down I knew I didn’t have that kind of power and it made me so mad that I couldn’t have stopped what had happened. I felt so responsible for what happened.

“I’m so sorry,” I kept telling him in a quiet voice but he didn’t seem to hear me as his story continued, thankfully, never in great detail.

He also shared about how worried he was that I would come to try to save him, and be hurt or captured myself in the process. “I was so afraid they would get their hands on you, too,” he said as his eyes finally met mine and my heart nearly broke at the misery I found in his green depths.

He didn't go into great detail about how they had then gone on to torture him, but he did explain how helpless he felt and about the fear and pain he had experienced. He also confessed on how he focused on Christina as the reason for them being there.

“I felt so weak, but I was so glad when I saw you,” Rafe confessed miserably as he put the palm of his hand on my face and our eyes locked. I understood how hard the confession had to be for him. He was always the one who was level headed and strong in our relationship and I hoped that he would finally be able to put this situation behind him.

It was all my fault, I knew that and as the tears fell silently down my face, I swore that somehow I would remove the memories of that horrible time from his mind if it was the last thing I did. “It was because of me,” I told him quietly as I now put my hands to his face and wiped the remaining tear tracks from his cheeks then kissed his forehead. “I’m so sorry, baby. No one will ever do anything to you ever again, I swear,” I told him when our eyes met again.

His brow creased silently as he cupped my face with both hands and used his thumbs to now wipe away the traces of blood tears that still lingered on my face. “Brenda, it wasn’t your fault. It probably wasn’t even Christina’s fault,” he admitted reluctantly as he tried to sound like his normal self again. “The Sabbat hurt people, that’s what they do. But I’m fine now, I’m fine.”

“I hate them,” I said harshly. I didn’t know what was worse, actually knowing what those bastards had done to him, or wondering in my head and dealing those repercussions of an overactive imagination. “Rafe, I love you so much,” I said as I pulled him close to me again for a quick, but tight, hug.

“I’m fine, now, Brenda,” he repeated when I pulled back and took his hands in mine. I watched as Rafe healed the minor cuts and scrapes on his hands from his outburst of anger then he leaned forward and kissed my neck. “But I do have one problem,” he said sheepishly without meeting my gaze.

I pulled away from him and regarded him suspiciously. “What?” I asked, wondering if he was going to bring up the time I had been spending studying again.

He smiled down at me sheepishly. “I’m kinda out of blood,” he confessed.

I smiled slightly in return, and then I shifted my position until I was on my knees, straddling his thighs with my own, as I began to remove my coat. After I tossed it aside, I reached for the button on the wrist of my sleeve as Rafe suddenly cupped my face with his hands and kissed me passionately, as if he were trying to apologize for our fighting, or to make me feel better about it.

He kisses always have an astonishing effect on my senses and I found myself forgetting about unbuttoning the shirt sleeve as I pushed Rafe back instead, until he was laying flat on the floor amid the clutter of the now chaotic room. I pulled back from his lips long enough to allow my fangs to drop and I punctured my tongue, and then bent to kiss him again.

Rafe suckled my tongue languidly as he feed, sending shivers of pleasure through my body as his hands glided along my back and thighs, possessively trying to bring us closer together. When my head was spinning with pleasure and he had drunk his fill, Rafe pulled a way just a little and turned his head to one side. “Drink from me, Brenda,” he said breathlessly as he offered me his throat and pulled me toward him with a hand on the back of my neck.

With deep feelings of regret for what he had to endure because of what I was, I leaned forward so that I could once again prove to Rafe that feeding could be pleasurable and always would be that way between us. I hesitated slightly as my fangs lowered again and before I punctured his delicate skin, I placed a long, loving kiss where his jugular lay. With the first taste of his essence as it slipped past my lips, I found his hands with mine and linked our fingers as I brought them up until they rested on either side of Rafe’s head.

One thing led to another and before either of us realized it, our clothes were miraculously gone, only to be replaced by lips and fingers as our bodies cried out for the ultimate fulfillment we could only find in each other’s arms. We made love in the room where only minutes before, raged had filled the space with ugly intent.

Our mouths and hands were greedy in our need to show repentance for any hurt we had caused the other and our passion grew to impossible amounts. As we brought each other to release and my mind screamed with the love I felt for him, I knew that this was only a temporary reprieve from what we had really been fighting about and I think Rafe knew the same thing.

Rafe didn’t like that I was pushing myself so hard and for the moment we had managed to dodge the discussion, but I knew neither of us would soon forget the task that I felt in my heart that I had to do. There were things I had to know in order to be useful and if that meant pushing my body to the limits of what I could squeeze out of it, then that was what I was prepared to do. Rafe would have to accept that and realize that I would do the exact same for him, as well.

In the aftermath of our lovemaking as we were looking for our clothes that had been tossed everywhere, I once again caught a glimpse of the frame that Rafe had been looking at when I had come back into the room. My eyes moved to Rafe as I once again thought about how much his life had changed because of me and I watched as he surveyed the room with a look of disgust on his face. He prided himself on being the calm one in this relationship. The one who could always be counted on to have the sensible opinion or solution to any situation and I understood how this obvious lack of control would affect him when faced with this palpable proof that he wasn’t perfect all the time.

He stood there dressed only in his jeans, his shirt dangling in the fingers of one hand as he looked around the room. I didn’t have to read his mind to know what he was thinking. That he had somehow failed himself by this physical display of destruction and he was having a hard time facing it. “Let’s go downstairs,” he said absently as he moved to pull the shirt over his head.

I bent and picked up the frame that held a picture of five smiling faces and took the few steps needed to bring me to his side. “Was I being selfish when I took you from your normal life?” I asked him as I looked down at the picture.

Rafe turned to me and hooked his finger under my chin and lifted until I looked up at him. “No, Brenda. I love you,” he said as he slipped his fingers into my hair. “I can’t imagine not being with you, please don’t ever think that way.”

“Why were you looking at this?” I whispered, still holding the frame between us.

“It’s just--” He shook his head as if it didn’t matter as he looked down at the frame as well. “It’s stupid, I was just thinking how innocent we were then, about the world. We thought we knew it all and in truth, we didn’t know anything.”

I hugged him, putting my arms around his neck and holding him tight while I rested my head on his warm chest. “I want to go away,” I said wistfully. “Step out of this place so I don’t have to be responsible for anything. Somewhere where we can both be innocent again.”

He used his hands to anchor me to him tightly as his voice took on an edge of excitement. “Then let’s do it, Brenda. Let’s take off, go somewhere, back to Vegas, I don’t care, but let’s go, just the two of us.”

The idea was appealing. We still had a few days until the next batch of blood had finished testing and after that, Victoria and I would need to survey the results and go from there. I still needed to study a great deal of material, but I could do that anywhere, and besides, it would give me a chance to take the results to Antonio and the others of the Las Vegas Chantry to see if anyone there had any suggestions.

“We’d have to wait a few days until the next batch of testing is completed on the blood,” I told him. “But I can call Antonio. It shouldn’t be a problem.”

I meet his eyes again and could see that he was thrilled at the prospect of getting away for a while and I had to admit that I liked the idea as well. “I promise to leave the books here even though I will be setting myself back again,” I continued, “but I will use the opportunity to talk to those in Vegas about what we are doing here. Maybe they can give me some advice.”

Rafe seemed a little disappointed that we had to wait so long to leave but he didn’t say anything about it as we gathered the last of our clothing and made our way downstairs so that I could call Antonio. My sire was happy that we would be visiting again so soon and he said that Idella would love to see Rafe and I again as well.

So it seemed that things were calm again for the moment. I understood that I had to take this time to make sure my marriage didn’t suffer from what I felt I had to do to help my sister and that it was okay to not be caught up in the whole thing. Rafe and I still had some kinks to work out in our relationship and it would be a great deal harder for us to make clear resolutions sometimes because we lived in dual societies.

I wasn’t going to let Christina or her troubles get in the middle of my marriage, but I couldn’t stand by and do nothing while she suffered needlessly, either. I think that Rafe’s opinion of her had finally changed for the good again with his admission that he began blaming her for what had happened to him in Detroit, but only time would tell if he had really put those feelings behind him.

I resolved myself to looking toward the future with the attitude that everything would get done in it’s own time. Christina couldn’t be destined to stay as she was forever, with no knowledge of her life before the night she woke up in Detroit. Hadn’t she already been getting some of her mortal memories back? I’m not saying that God was helping her out or anything but given what we now know, amnesia isn’t always permanent. Malcolm had used magic on her and one way or another I was going to see to it that things were put back to where they were and Malcolm Robbins would find himself on the receiving end of some hurt for once.

That is my promise.

Characters in the Story

Rafe Brown - Ghoul

For questions regarding Brenda Thompson Brown, please contact the author.
Note: Some fiction contains explicit content and is not meant for children under the age of seventeen.