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Author's Note: This story is set before "Somnambulist".

Family Blood
by LJC

My first father came here on a ship.

It left from Southampton six years before I was born, and seventeen men, women, and children died on the journey to the New World—victims of the rough seas and disease that ran rampant. Some were thieves and scoundrels, transported for their crimes. The rest were my father's people—looking for a new life on these foreign shores far from the persecution that still raged on England's shores over a century after the Mayflower landed at Plymouth.

My father was a hard man. I was never the son he wanted. Nothing I could do for him was ever enough. I despised him almost as much as I admired him. I thought I saw my father, last ev'n. I shall have to go back to that inn, and make certain that he does not walk again. So many times I've killed him, now, yet he still rises in my memory. I believed I could never be as hard a man as this land made my father.

My second father came here on a ship.

It left from the shores of Africay, carrying over a hundred slaves to work the fields. It arrived in Virginia a ghost ship, the crew and chattel slaughtered and even the rats lay bloated and dead on the wooden decks. My father swam ashore from the hold, washing the stench of travel and the sweet aroma of terror from him in the freezing Atlantic waters. I want to be the son he wanted. I devour his every lesson.

My first mother died in my arms.

Her blood was sweet—sweeter yet than my father's. She greeted me at the top of the stair, her bright hair hidden by a cloth cap, and her apron white as the moon against her black wool dress. I left decadent patterns on that apron when I was finished. Swirls of bright colour that would have shamed her in the light of day. I must have loved her once. I loved the taste of her in my mouth, and I miss her. I thought I saw my mother last ev'n. She was standing at the top of the stair. I shall have to go back and see her, and dance with her once more by the paltry light of the moon. So many times I've killed her, yet she loves me still.

My second mother was dressed in yellow silk when I met her, her bright hair in curls about her cheeks and neck.

"Who is this young pup?" she asked my father when he presented me, and though she smiled, I knew I was not the son she wanted. When I spoke, she turned her face from me, and could not bear to look upon me. She made mouths behind my back, her laughter still ringing in my ears. She said she was visiting family, but her only companion was one called Luke, who never spoke. She and my father were devoted to one another—yet they sniped like two cobras in the same basket. They whispered of happier times, and thought I could not hear. And of darker times, of being hunted by a slayer and a Slayer as well. It was a shared history which they sought to deny me. Yet I love them still.

My first sister was my first kill, and for that I shall treasure her always.

She was coming back from the dairy, and still smelled of fresh milk. I remember when she was a child, plaiting daisies into chains in the field, her cheek smooth and unblemished and gilded by the sun. I thought it would burn me, the mark I cut into that cheek. But it did not. When her body hit the cobbles, I felt nothing for her but the hunger she awakened in me. That hunger gnaws at me still, every second of every night since she breathed her last. Her breath was sweet against my cheek. I thought I saw her last ev'n, at the corner where two streets met. Her shawl was wrapped tight about her shoulders. I shall have to go back there, tonight, and hold her in my arms once again.

My second sister sang of crows and their dinner, her blue eyes like mirrors in a pale moon face.

Father broke her before he made her. Father loves her squeals and cries, and she is his favourite, for all that I came before her. She hushes her poppets like children, and claws out their eyes and mars their pretty china faces with her kisses. She sits in the fields, plaiting daisies for crowns. But the flowers are always dead, like her charges, and if she sees me watching she never speaks of it. She sees only Father, and her beloved. I am nothing but a shadow to her.

My first brother was a brash boy, bright as a new penny and cunning. He hoarded sweets, and never paid attention to his lessons. He looked up to me, as a second son should. There were too many years between us for him to have been my shadow, or my confidant. I know he feared me, and perhaps even cared for me. I saw it in his eyes when I laid his body on the floor, his head dangling at an awkward angle, the pressure of my fingers too great in that final caress. He was but a stripling—barely a meal. I could have let him live, but he was the last. And once a task is begun, my father always said, it's up to a man to finish it. I thought I saw my brother last ev'n, carrying coal from the shed. He was whistling a tune I half remember, and he did not wave to me when he passed me. I shall have to go back, and greet him properly.

My second brother is a bully and a thief.

He has eyes for no one but my sister, and father is often cross with him. He is the youngest of all of us, and acts like a child. He must have his fancies now, this instant, and cares not where he takes them. He shows no grace or wit except in the smallest of things, when he does not know I am watching. He uses a knife where a word will do, and words when he should be silent. He may grow strong, or he may stay a lapdog until the stars grow cold. It is too soon to tell. He shows me no courtesy, as a brother ought.

I left my first family. Relics of a life I had shed like a snake it's skin. I left them, yet they follow me still. Will they never quiet their pitiful mewling cries that still reach my ears, after all this time? It vexes me, vexes me so.

My second family left me. They say we shall meet again soon—perhaps France, perhaps Italy. I have never been to the Continent. I look forward to being in the bosom of my family once again.

Family blood is sweetest.


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