In which Olivia receives a gift

Little birdie flew away. Must’ve heard us talking.

Jed flew, the rain plastering his clothes to his body, the winds buffeting him back and forth. Had he needed to breathe, he would’ve been in trouble. As it was, he was in trouble anyway. I can’t go to Samuel, or to Lucius, they’re too close to Dante, too close. I can’t go to the Prince, either, she’s probably orchestrating the whole thing. Jed’s mind raced. The ventrue primogen. I can go to Kristina.

The primogen was less put out than most might be at the sight of a soggy gargoyle on her doorstep, though he caught a flash of apprehension in her eyes.
“Dear me,” she shook her head, leading him in. “What happened to you? I thought you were staying with Olivia.”
Jed felt relief, as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and he began to tell her.


Alice had unhooked herself from her blood drip by the time Olivia came to check on her, though she still lay on her side, a blanket draped over her. No longer covered in blood and with a fresh set of clothes, Olivia had to admit that she cleaned up pretty well. Her gold-flecked aura clung to her pale skin with a nacreous glow, and her soft golden hair made her look almost angelic.
Olivia cleared her throat. “Hey Alice, we’re going to Thornwood tonight. You going to be okay down here?” In light of Jed’s flight, they had delayed their trip to Thornwood by another day.
Alice looked up at Olivia briefly before pulling her blanket up over her head. “Mmf. I’ll be fine.”
Olivia paused. “You didn’t have a vision today, did you?” Her own daytime rest had been fractured and disturbing, and she had risen for the evening from being curled under her bed, knees against her chest.
Alice peeked up from under the cover. “I just keep having dreams about Jack, that’s all that I remember.”
“Eh, better than mine.” Olivia sighed.
“That’s what you think,” said Alice.
Olivia shrugged. “I’ll see you tomorrow night, then.”
The door to Alice’s room in the vault clicked shut as Olivia left.

“Olivia.” John caught her eye as she stepped from the lift. “You have a parcel.”

It was a large box, a couple of feet wide, completely wrapped in patterned yellow paper and topped with a pink satin bow. Olivia observed it from behind the blast screen.
“You’ve put it through the scanners?”
“Of course,” John nodded, passing her a copy of the scans. Inside the box was a complex metal contraption, overlapping pipes, their outlines superimposed. Olivia had a feeling of horrid deja vu, fragments of her daydream coming back to her. The Beast jumped up from her throat, and she could not bite it back.

She came to under the weight of three security ghouls, John’s hand on her forehead and Shen looking down at her with something approaching pity.
She tried to smile, though the Passion’s medicinal numbness made her sick to her stomach. “Maybe we should take some of the guys with us.”
“Yeah,” Shen nodded. “I was going to take Salt and Pepper, too. Lots of countryside up there for them to sniff around in.”
“Heh. Good for them, I guess.” Olivia took Shen’s hand, allowing him to help her to her feet. She chanced a sideways glance at the box, but the sensation of having seen it before was gone. “You got anything on this thing?”
“Some kind of storage unit for blood. Oh, and it came with this.” Shen’s mouth twitched as he handed over a small handwritten card.

To Shen and Olivia,
For your honeymoon in Thornwood
If you happen upon a beautiful blonde while you’re there, give her this.

“Honeymoon, huh?” Olivia looked up at Shen wryly as he shook his head. “Who’s it from?”
“Not sure,” said Shen. “Writing looked like a woman’s.”
Olivia squinted at the card. “How can you even tell?”

Shen stepped around the blast screen, examining the package more closely. Dexterously, he undid the wrapping, leaving the paper folded neatly alongside it. Under the paper was a sturdy looking wooden box. Shen leaned in, examining the lock, and Olivia caught a flash of him recoiling, vitriolic liquid coating his hands and face. “Stop!”
Shen frowned. “Why?”
“It’s trapped,” said Olivia.
“How do you even kno-” Shen shook his head. “Nevermind.” With an almost careless grace, he replaced the wrapping paper and ribbon. “Oracle stuff?”
“What else?” Olivia folded her arms, considering. The package could be dangerous, but it carried significance. “We should take it with us.”
Shen looked doubtful. “If you say so.”

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