"It's only Porsche," he said, laughing as he let her in. "Porsche, my beloved Russian import, what can we do for you."
She looked tired, her backpack over-stuffed as she strode down the aisle to the theater, waving a paper at Liam.
"I've just checked the ticket list for opening night, your night. We've sold out."
My jaw dropped and I clapped my hands like a child.
"Oh my God, that's amazing."
"Wait," Liam waived his hand in my direction to silence me. “Why do you look unhappy, then?"
"Because an anonymous benefactor bought up every ticket we had left, and donated them to the Leukemia treatment center, as well as the center of blood diseases."
"So...isn't that exactly what we wanted?" I looked from one to the other, confused. Porsche shook her head.
"The tickets were purchased from France, and signed 'S'."
"Selene," Liam growled and I perked up, suddenly remembering the woman I met in the hallway. From the dark look on Liam's face, his origin story came back to me. The beautiful dark French woman in the club who cursed him.
"She's here," I blurted out and they both turned to me, shocked.
"She's here. I met her, in the hallway, a few days ago. She was looking for you, Liam ... I'm sorry, I didn't make the connection at all. But she fits your description."
Liam hissed, baring his fangs, and I took a step back. Porsche took the steps two at a time, immediately grabbing his arm. In seconds, I was amazed to see his fangs recede and his face start to gain color again.
"Whoa," I breathed, staring at him as the dark circles receded and he began to look human again. "That's what Shields do."
"Among other things. We’ll go to a supernatural party sometime and I’ll show you. Liam?"
"Have you seen her since?" He asked, turning to me and at once seeming sober, his eyes focusing on my face.
"You think she knows?" Porsche asked and Liam shrugged.
"I don't know. Amy, Shannon offered you residence right? All of her performers get put up in a hotel if they need."
"Yeah but I live here," I said and Liam shook his head.
"I'll tell her you need to stay there to focus. She'll love it."
"You think I'm in danger?" I asked and Liam took a step forward, taking my hand. The three of us made a strange chain of support.
"I think I want to be extra cautious. This is my mess, not yours." Even though the words were not meant maliciously, they stung. He was reminding me that I ran when he needed me. I felt horrible, my chest aching with despair. Liam had been nothing but supportive to me, and now, he was taking care of my safety before even his own. "You stay in the hotel until we figure out what this bitch wants. Porsche..."
"I'm staying with you," she said, and he gave her a look, but said nothing.
"Amy, I want you to go straight to your rooms and pack whatever you need for the next week. The school has been on lock down for four hours and it's dark, so she can't wander unnoticed. She would never do anything that sloppy. Go now, and I'll be there shortly, after I call Shannon."
"But...." I started, and he waved his hand.
His eyes pleaded with me and I nodded, grabbing my bag and hurrying out of the theater. My heart was hammering as hard as this morning, but I realized one thing: I trusted Liam.
As soon as Amy left, I turned to Porsche, who had already begun to talk. "Do you think she's just hanging out again, or she's jealous? If she knows about you and Amy, then..."
"She's probably just checking in," I replied, moving away. As soon as I did, I felt the pain of transformation return. "Listen, Porsche, you should go too."
"No," she replied, crossing her arms. "I've been here every other time, why would I disappear now?"
"Because it was ... different before." I gritted my teeth as I felt my heart stop pounding. After all these years, it was still a shock. "You're not as strong as before, Porsche."
"And you know as well as I do that a Shield's power increases as their human body fails," she replied. "We really are an idiotic creation."
"Porsche..." I sighed. “If something happens and I'm not nearby..." I took a step closer to her. "Maybe we should just do it now."
"No," she shook her head. "Not yet, Liam. I still have some life left in me. I don't need you."
"Yet," I said, with a soft smile.
"Yet,” she agreed. "But Amy does. And I could be blind, mute and dumb and still see that there is something happening between you two again. Call Shannon. I'll compromise with you. I spend all day at rehearsal anyway, and all night with you. I'll do double duty and keep you both safe."
"Thank you," I said, careful not to touch her. If Selene was looking for a fight, I didn't want to lose my vampire form.
"Anytime," she grinned. "Now, go get her and I'll take her over. Selene won't be able to find her if I take her."
"Even if she does, she'll be repulsed by the smell of you two." I replied, and Porsche lightly punched my shoulder.
The phone call was quick. Shannon rolled her eyes so loudly I could hear it and told me where the performers were staying.
I snuck down the corridors, careful to stay in the shadows, and knocked on Amy's door. It opened immediately, and she stood there, bag in hand and ready to go.
"What about my Dad?" she asked, and I winced.
"It's best no one knows," I said. "Listen, Porsche is going to be your escort all day, ok? One of the effects of a Shield is that a vampire can't track you if you are touching her."
"That's why you two are so touchy," Amy said. "Whenever I saw you two together...she was always touching you."
"Invisibility cloak," I said, taking Amy's hand and leading her down the hallway after she locked her door. “At their most powerful, they can shield a whole theater just by sitting there. Reduce everything in it to human."
"When?" she asked and I looked down.
"When are they at their most powerful?"
I swallowed, looking both ways before going down another hallway. I was trying to pick the least populated corridors.
"When they are dying. That's why chronically ill Shields are great, they are always powerful. They gain the most power at the minute of their death both to protect their masters and, after death, to have the power transferred to the next in the blood line. They are a stupid creation." I echoed Porsche's words. "So powerful and yet wiped out in one stumble."
"Are you her Master?" Amy asked, flatly, and I shook my head.
"Deals like the one Porsche made with me are usually the reason for a life of service...but we never made any oath or anything. It's just an understanding."
"Liam," Amy said, stopping suddenly. "You aren't going to do that to me, are you?"
"What?" I asked. We were almost to the front entrance and I didn't want to stop.
"If something happens to me...change me..."
"Amy," I turned to her, shocked. "I would never do this to anyone who didn't wish it. I would never go against your wishes."
"Because...I mean...I'm sick too," she whispered and I cupped her face in my hands, drawing her close. To her credit, she didn't flinch.
"Not unless you asked, Amy. I will never hurt you."
She bit her lip, nodding, and we stayed a moment like that; looking into each other's eyes. Finally, she broke away.
"Right," I pulled her closer, and then without thinking, kissed her. She, to my surprise, kissed back. "Be safe, Amy."
She nodded, finally breaking my grasp to go to Porsche. The dancer nodded to me.
"I'll take care of her. It'll be fine tomorrow. You'll see."
"Sure. I'll see you at rehearsal," I said, even though I wasn't sure I quite believed myself. "Go."
Watching the two women in my life walk away into the night was probably one of the hardest things I had ever done. With a deep breath, I turned back to the school, which was powered down for the night. I went back down the hallway to face the darkness on my own. After all, this was my battle.
I ducked into my office, locking the door and opening a bottle of gin. It was going to be a long night and I might as well have some company.
Porsche pulled me along the sidewalk to the hotel at an alarming rate, chattering away as if we had just left a party.
"It'll be ok, Amy, really, you'll see. It'll help for when you graduate. You can't live at the school forever."
I nodded, trying to make sense of what she was saying.
"Do you live in a hotel in Russia?"
"Ballet dormitories, fully furnished," she replied, with a shrug. "And fully serviced. Very luxurious."
"Right," I said, looking over my shoulder as the school got smaller and smaller. “Do you think Liam will be alright?"
"He's just over-reacting," she said. "Really, Selene is just annoying. She doesn't usually fight. Now, do you have everything?"
"I forgot my AZT," I said, suddenly, patting my pockets. I turned, but Porsche pulled me back.
"I have some. Wow, bonding," she said. "You can borrow. Now, let's go."
"Don't you need it?" I asked, and Porsche winced, shaking her head.
The hotel the performers were staying at was lovely – far better than anything I had ever stayed at with my father on our rare family vacations. Porsche checked me in, and led me towards the elevator, all without letting go on my hand.