The Burning:
Deleted Scene 2

The Burning

Amsterdam, 1811

The man was disheveled, desperate and newly made. Stephan could feel the slow vibrations of one whose blood had been infected by the Companion only recently. He appeared at the front door of the house in the Herengracht where Beatrixtrix once lived and now Stephan carried on, mourning for lost love. Stephan almost didn't let him in. But Langley used the magic word. He said Beatrixtrix sent him.

"Why should I not kill you?" Stephan asked. He had no love lost for made vampires after his experience with Asharti. Something prickled at his brain. Why would Beatrixtrix send a newly made vampire to Stephan?

"Because Asharti has Beatrixtrix and means to execute her. I know where, but only you are strong enough to kill Asharti. Beatrixtrix said so." There was a look of pleading about him.

"Beatrixtrix sent you to ask me to kill Asharti?" The man was lying.

"She just told me… about you. I came on my own."

To save Beatrix? They had deserted him, Beatrix and Asharti. He was a broken man. He didn't even leave the house anymore. Centuries of roaming the world, from Aztec cities to the ceiling of the world had not erased his pain. He gulped his brandy. "You who have lived but a single lifetime see the world so simply. I cannot kill either of them," he snapped. This man brought the pain cutting to the surface of his soul.

"You are responsible!" Langley hissed, desperation making him bold. "You knew what Asharti was, yet you did nothing."

"Yes. I am responsible." The weight of it sat on his chest, constricting his throat.

The man was handsome, big-shouldered, with green eyes, burning at the moment with intensity. Langley drew himself up. "She has loved you all these years."

That was the shaft that found Stephan's vulnerability, of course. For one horrible instant hope washed over him along with regret that he had wasted six hundred years not knowing she loved him. His knees felt weak.

Then reality set in. The fact that prodded him revealed itself. "How did Beatrix's blood get in your wounds?" he asked, knowing the answer, dreading it.

Langley swallowed. "Asharti was holding me captive. Her minions wounded Beatrix. Beatrix…she held me while she transported us both into the forest."

"I see." Stephan backed up to the fire, holding himself still as hope drained away. Oh, he saw it all very clearly. "Then she gave you her blood to grant you immunity from the infection. In short she saved you and now you want to return the favor."

"Yes." Langley put all his will into that word. "You must come."

"I… don't go out." The effort this man wanted from him seemed impossible.

"She loves you still."

Stephan examined John's face and finally looked down into his glass. He swirled the rich amber liquid lazily, praying that his feelings did not show. "Oh, I think not. Not anymore."

The newspapers blurred in front of his eyes. Of course she loved Langley. Why else would she have made him? And through Stephan's own inaction all those years he had missed his chance forever. Of course he had gone to save her from her crazed some-times sister, both his wards just after the Crusades. He had ridden hell-bent to Paris with Langley and Khalenberg and together they had done what was necessary. If only he had had the courage then to deal with Asharti, all the pain that she caused the world afterwards would have been avoided.

In the cathedral of Notre Dame, when all the excitement was over, he did the bravest thing he had ever done, and then the most cowardly…. He was sure Beatrix loved Langley but Langley didn't know it. Beatrix hadn't told him. So their path was not yet smooth. Perhaps Langley was right and Beatrix thought she still loved Stephan. But if he dared to claim her, he would only insure her unhappiness. If she intended to sacrifice her love for Langley on some altar of what might have been, it was only because she was afraid to experience real love rather than remembered possibilities.

So he set her straight on her path. He loved her that much.