The Truth in a Claim

It's late. Well, of course the sun is down, but she's running late. If there's one word that could describe Faith, punctual would be high on the list. Eventually, however, she knocks at the door. It's a hurried knock, almost frantic. Outside of which she's almost jumping up and down and literally is begging him to open up. It could be that the cold has gotten to her, perhaps.

He's just shrugged on a coat, about to start looking for her, when the knock comes. He goes over to open it, and blinks. "Rose! You're running a little late… get in here, it's freezing out there!" Hiro pulls her into his domain, shutting the door. "Now I'm glad I turned the heat up a bit," he remarks. "Are you all right?"

If only it were the cold that was making her so jittery. As soon as she's inside, Faith finds the nearest wall and all but clings to it, making sure not to press her back against anything in the process. It wouldn't do to harm his place, after all. Her eyes are wide, not in total panic but there is fear there. The woman's heart is racing even if she's not crying. Rose is -trying- to look strong, after all. "I think hell froze over, or someone spiked the synthetic, or something. It's freaking insane out there."

Hiro reaches out and places his hands on Faith's shoulders. "It's all right. Tell me what happened." No glamour, just trying to calm her down the normal way, as he guides her over to a chair. "Sit down. Do you want something to drink?"

There's no glamour and she's not attempting to pull away from his touch. She does, however, shrug out of her jacket before sitting. It is warm in the apartment, after all, and her jacket isn't all that comfortable. "No offense, but it's your kind, you know?" This is said once she's had a chance to catch her breath and wave off the offer of a drink. "For some reason they were approaching me, several. All saying that they heard I was on the market."

Hiro has a pretty good poker face. However, this time he doesn't quite hide the pained expression. "Ah," he says. "Well, Rose… I know something about that, and… I think it's a good news and bad news situation."

Why do people keep doing this to her? Her expression is almost numb at his words, especially once she links them with his reaction. There's a long pause where she just stares at him, almost as if she's looking straight through him. It isn't with her icy glare, no, but rather with no emotion at all. Finally she groans and slouches into the chair, a hand immediately finding her forehead. "While I do want to know, something tells me that I really don't."

Hiro pulls up another chair and sits down with her, taking her hand in his. "I had a meeting the other night with Ms. Symon, the Sheriff's adjutant. Because you've recovered from your… illness, the Sheriff has declared you to be 'fair game', provided you can be convinced /without/ glamour." His expression tightens. "And Ms. Symon saw fit to announce this in the middle of Bloody Mary's." He sighs. "Michael Isonzo was there as well; he has declared no interest in you. I suppose this is where you decide if you truly trust me or not."

Wait for it, wait for it. Now! This is the point where all color drains from Faith's face. There's no reaction past that, no movement. If he weren't holding her hands, feeling her pulse she may actually resemble a life sized china doll. It's just too much to take in all at once, yet she finds herself asking the least important thing; "Simon who?" As Rose pulls herself together, ever slightly, she regains her voice. Not her color. "He won't. Michael is not the person I thought he was." She sounds as if she's trying to convince herself of this fact. "Why the hell would this person do that? I haven't done anything to anyone and now my whole freaking life is, again, going to depend on those I have no control over." Her head hangs but she doesn't actually pull away from him.

Hiro reaches up and cups her chin. "Rose. Rose, look at me. If you wish it, I'll take up this gauntlet that's been tossed — I'll claim you, and that'll be the end of it. But you will have to trust me." His lips quirk in a bitter smile. "It's the nature of vampires, when they get older, I think. To toy with lives like chess pieces."

There's no resistance. She doesn't pull away from him, or even look away. What he says is being processed but it isn't as important as something else. He receives that icy glance but it isn't focused on him. "I want to know who this bitch is, or what she looks like." It is her right, in her own mind, since Faith's life is now at risk because of someone who has been dead so long that she's no longer human. Eventually she sighs. "It's not that I don't trust you, Hiro. Honest. But I don't understand any of this. What this means and all that. Besides, I don't know if you realize how big of a task that is." That Michael failed at.

Hiro caresses her cheek. "Blonde woman. Arrogant as hell — bit of a verbal sadist." He shakes his head. "I admit I don't know what's going on either. All I can offer is to try and keep the riff-raff off you while we work it out." At the mention of a task, he smiles. "That's all right. I've been on the wrong side of the odds since the Restoration, what else is new?"

The blond bitch? Suddenly things make so much more sense. Faith literally tenses as he says this, right down to her hands. If he's still trying to hold one of them it will likely not be feeling too well. "Her. I knew it. She wants me dead. I apologized. It isn't like I asked Mister Grant to save me that night." Oh, yes. This woman is part of the reason that Faith asked for his help in the first place. "Hiro, I'm scared. This is far worse than me possibly being bitten. This is my life. I'm going to die, aren't I? Or, you know, 'die'."

"Listen to me, Rose," Hiro says firmly. "If you are claimed, she has fewer ways to cause you grief. It doesn't mean she can't or won't, but it might limit her. The same way I got hung up because Michael held a claim on you can happen to her." His voice drops, softer now. "I don't want you to be hurt, Rose… but you're going to have to trust me." He strokes her cheek, looking into her eyes.

With the anger, her first response to everything, faded, Faith almost begins to shake. The thought of what actually might happen to her nearly makes her sick. Every negative thing she's been through begins to flash through her eyes and for a dark moment it almost appears that she's on her way right back to crazy land. Eventually, though, Faith is able to snap out of it. She lunges forward, towards Hiro, trying to hug him. Yes, she's scared, and she has every right to be. "Do I have a choice," she finally says, her voice a mere whisper. "I owe you anyway."

Hiro slips his arms around the young woman. Not possessively; protectively. Curling her into his embrace, stroking her hair as he whispers, "It'll be all right, Rose. I promise." He lets her settle against him, a feather to his strength, allowing her to try and draw some composure from him.

If only everyone understood how fragile her senility is. All it will take is the wrong thing, the wrong person and she could be right back in an institution. Though, if she's dead or undead she won't have to worry about that. Yes, these are the thoughts that are running through poor Faith's mind at the moment. "I make lives hell. I mean it. Ask Ivan. Are you -sure- that you want to do something like that?"

For a moment, Hiro just keeps holding her, letting her pull herself back together. Then he answers simply, "Yes." He tilts her face up to his. "Dealing with hell is part of my job." And he's quite serious, too, studying her face, the emotions that storm across it.

Emotions are clear upon her features, indeed. There's everything from anger to fear, and a little bit of nothingness in-between. Faith looks to him when he moves her to do so, suddenly very blank. It's a lot to think about and she's trying to process what he's saying. "And you're going to say that I'm part of your job now, too?" It's an innocent question, really. "Why? Why me? What makes you not want to kill me like apparently everyone else does?"

Hiro shakes his head. "I don't know why they want to kill you. You haven't wronged me, or offended me. And I prefer not to kill casually. Just because one can do a thing doesn't mean one should do a thing." He half-smiles. "Something I should've remembered when I was tempted and bit you."

Suddenly realizing her place, and her current location, Faith attempts to pull herself back to her own chair. That is, of course, unless she meets resistance. "You only feel bad because I was insane." It's an attempt to tease him, really, but there is some truth to it. "It would have been different if I wasn't and I didn't get into trouble for it, I bet."

Hiro laughs suddenly. "Oh, is that so?" He lets her start to pull away, before drawing her inexorably back to him, smiling. "Now I'm curious. How might it have been different?" He's teasing too — anything to help lighten the mood.

It may be his way of humor, but her eyes widen when he pulls her closer. It isn't fear and her heart really isn't pounding out of her chest, not like before. It's just finding herself being pulled so close to him. "Tell me it isn't true," Faith replies, more serious than she had been a moment prior. "Tell me that biting me now wouldn't be different than when you did it before. I was out of my mind, locked away in an institution. And that's where the guilt came from."

Hiro's eyes widen fractionally as well. "Yes," he murmurs. "And you're sane now… and able to consent to it." He slides a hand into her hair, stroking as he watches her. "Would you let me, if I asked?" He can feel her heart beating faster, a little bit of fear that he hopes to bury.

How can she not be afraid? The last time someone 'bit' her it hurt like bloody hell and she woke up with fake vampire teeth. In a coffin, no less. "I am sane." Faith's saying it like she has to convince herself of this fact. All she can do is stare at him, her breathing growing rapid as well. "Again, do I have a choice?" She entered into this agreement knowing he may ask it of her, even if she's not hinted at such a thought before.

Hiro smiles. "There's always a choice, Rose. But I'll respect yours." He lets his fingertips brush the nape of her neck, feeling the tenseness there. "After all, you said you needed to trust me… and part of that is for me to honor that trust."

She's trying to remember the last time she was this close to a known vampire, and had her neck this exposed. It's almost easy at times to forget what he is, but this is not one of those times. "I'm not a fangbanger." So quietly this is said, as if she'll be considered such a thing. "I said once that I don't know what it's like, and I mean that. I just can't promise what will happen if you did try."

He touches the line of her jaw. "I'll be gentle, Rose." he murmurs. Carefully, her head is turned, tilted back to expose her throat. His cool fingertips tracing down her neck, as he whispers, "Just say the word and I'll stop. I won't force you." His free arm tightens slightly around her waist, keeping her close.

There's nothing to be said, not at first. Rose is almost shaking with the fact that she's currently in the grasp of a vampire, and one who very much would like to bite her. So many possibilities are being played out in her mind but her heart can tell him everything that she isn't. Yes, she's scared. "I said I would pay you anything." When Faith does find her voice it is surprisingly stronger than she is expecting. As always, she's directly in the middle of the situation.

He whispers softly to her, "I know." His lips touch her bare neck, resting against her warm skin as she trembles. A soft kiss, before his fangs descend, needle sharp. True to his word, he's gentle… even with the bite and what it means, he cradles her in his arms, tasting her blood.

She tenses right up as soon as he gets even remotely close to her. Oh, sure, the neck is a wonderful place to touch if someone is being intimate. This is not what she would describe as intimate. Just as she did when she was kidnapped, Faith bucks at the pressure to her neck. It may not be the most painful thing in history but it doesn't feel -good-. There's a momentary desire to push away, to tell him to stop, but none of that actually happens. Flashes of the past, of her capture surface and those are what cloud her thoughts, her very actions. So Faith sits there, almost like a good little child, eyes closing as she is fed upon.

Hiro isn't there long… not even long enough to bruise, and there's little enough bleeding. Going for a vein can be… messy, after all. He nestles her in his arms, keeping her close. Safe. A world of difference between a human-shaped thing like Michael, and himself.

There are many differences between Hiro and Michael, not limited to the fact that Michael never bit her. Rose remains almost limp in Hiro's arms, her mind continuing to swirl with the images of wrongs previously committed to her. It isn't something that she's intending, but she just can't make the temporary insanity stop. So she rests there, not even able to tell if he and when he's finished.

Only a few moments and she's apparently out of it. It must have worried her more than she let on, than even she had realized. Gently, Hiro wipes away any traces, satisfied with the miniscule marks, and settles her close, letting her recover on her own.

If he's waiting for her to snap out of it on her own, he'll be waiting for quite some time. No matter how she's trying to get over this, to respond, she just can't do it. Faith, if not held on to, will literally fall to the floor. If he takes the time to look her over, Hiro might be able to tell that she's not doing so well. Even if it is just her mental state.

Fugue state. Well, that shouldn't be a surprise considering what she's been through. Gently, Hiro takes Rose's hand, and softly calls to her. Slipping his arms under her, he carries her over to a couch, laying her out there before starting to carefully rub her temples, murmuring her name.

He'll get her all the way to the couch before she even notices anything. It may be discouraging, but that is the way that Faith is. Sadly she can't avoid such things. Slowly eventually she begins to respond, almost as if he's just breathed life into her. She stirs slightly before her eyes begin to open. They seek out something, anything, and when they can they focus on him. She doesn't jump away from him but she does give him a blank look. Almost as if she doesn't recognize him at first.

He watches her intently as she slowly comes back to herself. Taking her hand, he murmurs, "You gave me a bit of a start, Rose. Don't sit up just yet… just rest."

The stares continue for quite some time before she blinks. Still that look of nothingness as she merely nods. "It hurts," she finally says. A hand points at her head, not at her throat. "I'm, I'm sorry." It's coming back, it is. "I'm sure t-that won't happen again." To accent this point, Faith actually smiles, or attempts to.

Hiro looks relieved, shaking his head. "I should have expected…" He leans down to kiss her brow. "Shh… it's all right… I'm with you, every step of the way." And his arms go around her once again. Bloodsucker he may be, but he's not without empathy.

The empathy is something that she really doesn't understand. None of the others seem to have that aspect, so it's hard for Faith to grasp. "Does this get easier?" Obviously he should know, since he's a vampire and not at all crazy like she is. "I'm okay, really. It was just sudden, that's all. The memories, I mean."

"Over time, yes. Memories can be harsh, but the trick is to accept them… but not let them rule you." Hiro looks down at her, smiling a little. "I think we'll abstain from that sort of payment until you are… less prone to such episodes. I don't want you backsliding because of me."

The hand rubs at her forehead as she tries to make sense of everything. "No, no." Faith, such a trooper and so willing to be brave, even when she shouldn't be. "It didn't really hurt so much. Honest. I think that it's just been a rough couple of weeks." Shifting slightly to get a better look at him, Faith tries to get him to believe her. "Honest. Don't stop on account of me."

Hiro just shakes his head. "You're ridiculous," he says quietly, with a smile. He brushes her hair back from her forehead, gazing down into her eyes, before leaning down to kiss her cheek. "Maybe in a few days when you feel up to it." he murmurs.

At this she rolls her eyes. It's somewhat painful to do so but she doesn't let on to this fact. "This is what I'm to expect, right?" The last time someone laid claim to her she didn't exactly know what was going on. Faith slowly begins to move into a sitting position. "I can take it. I just think that, maybe…" She reaches for her neck suddenly where she was bitten. "Can you tell?"

The marks aren't as pronounced, although someone paying attention could notice them. "A little," he admits. "Turn your collar up on the way home and wear a turtleneck. I was careful not to bruise." Hiro smiles, though. "Yes, you can expect me to actually give a damn about your state of mind and general well-being. Life is hard."

Her hands run over those marks as she considers it all. There's a flash of fear before she plays it off. They're hard to see, after all. "I should tell you," Faith finally says, clearing her throat. "I'm sort of living with someone who works for the Mayor. I just have to make sure that he doesn't find out about this."

Hiro raises an eyebrow. "Probably should have told me." He chuckles, though, to take the sting out of it. "It'll work itself out." He lets her sit up now finally, taking a seat next to her and settling an arm around her shoulders. "We'll continue the lessons tomorrow night. For now, you should take it easy."

"I'm not supposed to tell anyone." This part is completely serious. "It's not good for him, for us. Those people? They're still out there. And I'm pretty sure someone will want to arrest him for taking advantage of a mental patient." Faith blows out her frustrations then just leans against Hiro. "It will work out, I'm sure. But thank you, for everything."

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