Does anyone want to be a beta for this story? I apologize for any mistakes I didn't catch…

As the week wore on, I realized more ways in which Andy was not human. Other than his super human strength, he was nearly animalistic when it came to shunning the light and would start twitching the minute the sun started creeping into the sky. Save for the first day I met him, I never saw him in daylight again. He never showed up for food, never stayed longer than a few minutes to talk, and the one time I did see him take nourishment, he replied that it was tomato juice. Since his tone was sarcastic, I dared not ask further.

"You look confused." Brian observed. We were at the lower helm station where Brian was taking an afternoon tea break. He had set me on the chore of cleaning the salon after I complained that my muscles were aching from having nothing to do all week. The sunset spread across the winter sky in pastel colors.

"Do I?" I was holding a bucket in one hand and a rag in another. We were travelling north, this much I could gather from observing the rising and falling of the sun. Brian told me he would like the job done before we hit land.

"Yes, you've been looking like you have a question mark on your face for the past week." Brian mused.

I shrugged as I rinsed the rag in the soapy bucket. "Did you expect me to accept everything easily?"

"No, I suppose not. Most of us grew up around vampires so we are used to the concept." He nodded as he took a careful sip of tea from his mug. "Andy's uncle is on the council."

I looked up from my work. In the time that I've been on the boat, Andy mostly secluded himself to his master stateroom so I still knew nearly nothing about him. Brian had been my only conversation partner. "Andy was born a vampire?"

Brian laughed cheerfully. "Oh, not at all, vampires are sterile once they turn. Andy's an odd case. His uncle pretty much bought his way in, climbed through the ranks, then recommended Andy to the council. No, most of us were like Michael and adopted by vampires. Blood related vampires rarely exist." He paused to take a sip from his mug, a distant look fell over his face. "I was found by Andy. Life was pretty miserable before he bought me into see Hughes. Hughes was the head of the clan before Michael took over."

"Hughes?" I echoed. Michael had spoken of his boss before and had mentioned that name, but the details were definitely different. "I thought he was the boss of the law firm Michael worked at."

Brian winced. "Michael might have altered the truth a little there. He went to law school because the council was low on lawyers at one point and paid him to go. But Hughes hired him to work at the lab because Michael majored in chemistry in college."

He paused to gauge my reaction. I couldn't find the energy to be angry. My emotions were heavy and damp, what Michael had told me about his job was just another lie I had to get over.

Brian continued. "Then as you know, Hughes got caught making illegal drugs. No one knows the details due to the sensitivity of the case, but from what heard through the grapevine it has to do with experimenting on vampire blood."

"What happened to Hughes?"

"The trial happened." Brian shrugged and walked towards the window. His breath warmed the panes and left round circles of fog. "And as you know now, Michael was brought in because he worked closely with Hughes on a lot of his projects. It took about a year for the council to decide that Michael didn't know anything about Hughes's illegal activities. Hughes is now permanently incarcerated, or as humans would put it, placed six feet under ground."

I blinked at that and tried to read Brian's expression. "You mean he was executed?"

Brian winced, "Not quite, it's more like a stake in the heart"

I stared at him in horror, unsure if he was joking or serious. He seemed serious enough but he shrugged in his usual easy going nature as though it was a daily occurrence. What kind of people have I gotten myself involved with? I couldn't decide if I would have been better off joining the mafia.

"Ari?" Brian asked when he saw that my mind was drifting away.

"Do you know what Michael did to me? All I remember was that he drugged me and I woke up in a basement, but when I came to my sense the next day I seemed to be fine." I asked finally. The question had been haunting my head for days. It was especially unsettling to know that I was supposed to be a different species now, even if I felt the same as I did before.

"He transfused his blood into you. I went through pretty much the same thing Michael did to you when I was turned. But we didn't have the drugs back then so the risk that I would die was higher."

"So I'm a vampire? You are a vampire?" I wondered if there should have been concerns about blood type compatibility, but seeing as I was still alive I didn't pursue the issue.

"No, we are mothers. We are in a precursor state to becoming vampires. We have the same blood as they do, but none of their powers and immortality." Then his brows furrowed as he looked at me with worry. "I can't believe Michael didn't tell you this stuff before he turned you. I'm sure it's in the guidelines as standard procedure."

I shook my head silently and started spraying down the windows. The chemical smell of lemon cleanser permeated the air and stung my eyes. I was slowly learning that there was too much that Michael never told me. When we were together, I took pride in the fact that our relationship wasn't built on what our pasts were. Now I can see the mistake in that kind of thinking.

"Mothers might be vampires one day, but we might also die before we ever change. It depends on if our body will take the blood transplant." Brian grimaced, as though this information was difficult for him to depart.

"How do you know if you'll become one?"

"I don't." He said heavily. "I was turned when I was thirteen and it's been thirty five years. No one knows why there is such a difference in the period of time it takes to change. Michael was a mother for fifteen years before he became a vampire. Andy took two years to change. For some it doesn't happen at all. I have had friends who died as mothers."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. Death is a normal part of life." Brian smiled sadly. "I still can't believe Michael didn't tell you this when he turned you. That explains your reaction the day I met you. I guess you didn't agree to being turned?"

I shook my head again as I scrubbed the window next to Brian. My arm worked furiously as I took my anger out on some dirty spots.

"And Andy too," Brian sighed as though to contain his anger. He placed a gentle hand over my arm to stop me. "There was a reason council made it illegal to turn someone against their will."

Brian motioned for me to put down my weapons of mass cleaning and sit down. I reluctantly put down the rag and sank into the soft cushions of the dinette across from the table Brian was leaning against.

"I feel like I'm living some freakish nightmare." I pressed my temples hard enough to see stars.

"I understand. The possibility and concept of immortality should be educated before a person is turned. No wonder you thought we were some strange cult."

I said nothing. The cold was settling into my bones along with the severity of the information I was receiving. I wrapped my sweater tighter around myself and poured myself a cup of tea from the cooling kettle on the table. There were sugar cubes stacked neatly in a white porcelain box. Since I was trying to gain weight, I dropped three cubes into my cup.

"I apologize for them then. Not for what they did, but for how they did it." Brian's expression grew serious and his eyes darkened. "Ari, you need to understand that vampires don't follow the same laws as humans. Vampires and mothers, we sometimes think we are outside of the law because a lot of the members are in government positions."

That information didn't necessarily shock me, but I suddenly found myself going through all of the political figures I've seen on PBS. I cocked an eyebrow, "Like the president?"

Brian laughed comfortingly, "Not quite that high up. But we have some prosecutors, city hall members, congressmen, senator, and a supreme court judge. The council tries to make sure all of the bases are covered."

"I keep hearing about this council, what are they?"

"They are an independent government that governs vampires all over the world. The council executes its own set of laws. Unfortunately it's also the council's laws that could have killed you if you remained human. You see, the reason that vampires aren't heard of outside of folklores is because one of our laws say that if a human learns about our existence then he must either be turned or killed."

I frowned, "But I didn't know vampires existed. I was perfectly fine before Michael suddenly turned up again."

"He was—he is protecting you. It's true that if you never met him you would not have to be here now, but the fact is that you two were lovers, very public lovers at that—"

"I've only met a few of his friends and we were very discreet." I intercepted defensively before I could stop myself. It wasn't that I was ashamed of being out of the closet, but it did make me uncomfortable to know that strangers know about my relationship with Michael more than I did.

"Perhaps, but all of his friends were vampires and probably spread the news around. Council is more than aware of your existence. The only reason you weren't brought in during the trial was because they played with Michael's head and saw that you really didn't know about what was going on." Brian shook his head lightly.

"Are they psychic?" I raised an eyebrow. Frankly, I was ready to believe anything at that point. If vampires existed then why not psychics too?

Brian rubbed his temples as he searched his mind for an explanation. "They can't read minds. Vampires are by nature more sensitive to details. What we see as a simple twitch, they are able to read the reason for it. Then there are a few who have had their skills especially honed."

"If that isn't mind reading, I don't know what is." I shrugged.

"If you want to put it that way, but the prerequisite is that a subject has to be present for it to be done, which is why they held Michael under arrest for so long. I suppose they wanted to make sure that it was a long enough time that he would break if he really did know something"

"Then he could have left me alone."

"No, he couldn't. Not if he wants you to live. He has more enemies now because he's the head of our clan. There is a lot of animosity between vampire clans."

"This is too confusing for me." I pinched the bridge of my nose and tried to abate the dull ache that was knotting at the base of my head. There were questions that I wanted to ask like: how many members there were in a clan, why there was so much animosity between different clans, or simply what a clan is.

"I understand. Most of us had our entire childhood to get used to the idea." Brian agreed pensively. "Ari, I hope you give Michael a chance.

"Why did he bother?" I scoffed. "He could have just left me alone like he did for the past two years."

"He cares for you Ari. If he had left you, his enemies could have hurt you and wouldn't be subjugated to the punishments of our laws. You were free game before you were turned. It's no secret that the council harbors no great love for humans." Brian explained simply. I laughed bitterly. "Ari, please believe him. I don't know the details between what happened with you two, but Michael isn't the kind to abandon friends, much less his lover."

I didn't want to talk about my relationship with Michael anymore. It was a relief to know that Brian and Andy weren't homophobic. In fact, I suspected that they were in a relationship by the way they acted around each other; by the way they touched when they thought I wasn't looking. But there was too much hurt between Michael and I for me to start digging up feelings that I worked so hard to bury.

"Why does he have enemies?" I asked to change the subject.

"It's the usual vampire drama. After Hughes was convicted there was an immediate battle between vampires all over the world who thought they would be strong enough to for the spot of leader of our clan. Michael was the only person within the clan who stood a chance of fighting off the intruders."

"I thought he only became a vampire recently. Weren't there more experience vampires? What about Andy?" I asked.

"Age makes vampires more experienced but it has nothing to do with how powerful a vampire is. Andy is older and changed faster but that has no bearing on how good of a fighter he is."

"Michael was never much of a fighter."

Brian seemed surprised at this. "Really?" His eyes darkened and a frown passed fleetingly over his face.

I shrugged, "He's usually the first to back out of an argument. If someone stopped us in the streets he's the one to try to avoid a confrontation."

He pondered over this for awhile. "Let me put it this way. If Andy is a bullet, then Michael is a nuke. He can tear through flesh faster than any other vampires I've seen."

"No, Michael isn't like that." Not my Michael, I wanted to say, but held back. I hoped that Brian wasn't being literal when he said that Michael would tear through flesh. The imagery nauseated me.

"Territory is a big deal for clans. It gives a clan the right to feed without permission from any other vampires. Michael was killing to protect. Perhaps that was his drive. If he didn't defend this clan then we could have faced starvation." And then as though Brian had read the horror in my mind, explained, "Don't worry, vampires don't die after being killed in battle. Their heart stops and that's a signal for the end of a battle, but unless they are burned to ashes they can just resurrect."

Relief flooded me. "I heard Andy say that vampires feed from mothers."

"That's true, most of the time. But mothers become vampires and there are simply not enough mothers to feed all the vampires. Clans get into bloody battles over territory because it includes free reign over hospitals, blood banks where they can take blood."

"That's—" Immoral, I wanted to say, but I stopped myself. Who was I to judge where vampires got their food source from? At least they weren't on the streets sucking the life out of people.

Brian seemed oblivious to my internal conflict. Perhaps stealing blood from hospitals was a normal thing to him. He continued his explanation monotonously. "The battle wasn't about fame and glory; it's about survival and control. The only fight that Michael didn't win was a stalemate for the San Francisco territory. But that was never the center of our clan, and it's always been contested territory." Brian scratched his jaw nervously. "It's unfortunate because if he had been able to keep the territory then he wouldn't have to be so worried about your safety."

"That's why I've been stuck on a boat for the past week?"

"It's not a boat," Brian cringed. "It's a million dollar yacht. And we also had to make an emergency exit from San Francisco because losing the territory means that the other clan could take over our possessions, including laboratory documents that Michael said were important to keep hidden."

The cabin door slammed open and a cold gust of wind unsettled the room. Andy walked in with urgency, sparring me little attention as he addressed Brian.

"We are landing soon. I feel my energy coming back"

I looked out across the deck and saw only water in front of us. Brian nodded nonetheless, trusting in Andy's judgment.

"You can feel land?" I asked Andy, who ignored me and went out the door as quickly as he had entered.

"Vampires are usually weak on water so they know land is close if their energy returns." Brian answered for me. I stared after Andy and wondered what I had done to deserve being snubbed like that.

"Does he hate me?"

"Andy?" Brian laughed. "No, of course not. He's just not very good with people.

I stood up to continue with the cleaning I had started. Brian rose with me.

"I think the older they get the more isolated they become from humans. Perhaps that's why it can be hard to communicate with them sometimes. Don't worry Ari you'll have plenty of time to get used to moody vampires once we land. "

"Michael?" I asked quietly. "Will he be there when we land?"

Brian searched my face, a slow grin appeared on his face. "Yes. He'll be waiting for you."