Disclaimer: I don't own Eragon or anything associated with the Inheritance Cycle.

Claimer: I, SussieKitten, own this plot and the story. Borrow or steal my plot, my original characters (Aksel) or story and I will report you. I also own my version of Saphira/Thorn's human appearances.

Warnings: Male and female homosexuality. Heterosexuality. Swearing or strong language. Mentioned Character Death. Mentioned Hurt/Injuries – mentions of prior injuries on a character. Mentions of past Rape. Supernatural creatures – there will be mainly elves, dragons, vampires and werewolves in this. Mentioned Mpreg – male pregnancy. A little blood – this is a vampire fic after all. If any of this disturbs you, click on the "back" button. I won't tolerate any flames.

A/N This chapter is two weeks early because I have a lot going on in my life right now and the next chapter of Stalked isn't ready. In fact, this is the last chapter - period - that I have pre-written in IC. I hope I'll be able to sit down and write some more soon, but life is making that hard right now. Here's to hoping I can pull it off, though.

Be warned; this story is self-betaed.


REPRIEVE

Part Six

Brom decided to ignore Morzan's existence for a few days. It didn't help that his hormones were fluctuating – or so Carn told him. He also said it was completely normal, especially considering how far Brom was along.

Brom didn't care if it was normal or not; he wanted it to stop.

Objectively, he knew Morzan was a handsome man. Only, he wasn't a man. He was a vampire; an unholy combination of menace, predator and killer.

(The fact that he was also Brom's mate didn't factor in. Not after everything they'd been through, everything Morzan had done.)

He meditated most of his...problems away. The rest he ignored or killed with cold showers. It was strange to be feeling those kinds of things again. He'd been numb after Selena's death and even number during the war. A part of him had almost forgotten what that felt like.

Brom had no problems cursing Morzan for reminding him.

-;-

"Is there a reason the resident cryptid is looking particularly gleeful this morning?" Trianna drawled when she and Angela stopped by.

There was a snarl from outside. Judging by the motion of Trianna's hand, she was holding Morzan back even though Brom had explicitly made her and Angela keys that they could use to get through the barrier untouched. Brom held in a sigh and decided not to question it, for the sake of his sanity.

"No," he answered, most likely a beat too slowly. He forced his expression to remain blank.

Angela narrowed her eyes faintly. Her expression quickly shifted into one of understanding. "Ah, I see. It's that time."

Brom didn't want to ask what she was talking about, particularly since he had the uncomfortable feeling that he knew.

Trianna arched an eyebrow. "That time?"

Angela smiled innocently. Brom knew better than to trust that smile.

"Did you want to come in or not?" he deadpanned.

Angela patted his cheek as she walked past him.

Trianna did something with her fingers before releasing the spell. Brom really didn't want to know how that motion correlated to actions in the real world. He closed the door instead before Morzan could try – fruitlessly – to retaliate.

"Do I want to know why you're here?"

Angela looked to Trianna.

Trianna often looked bored whenever she came around, even though Brom knew she loved visiting. She always stopped by the library and wouldn't stop badgering Brom about releasing the ward around the armoury. Brom wished her the best of luck; those wards weren't coming down short of another war erupting. There was a reason the Teller family kept their armoury in the basement and sealed off any access to it.

Now, however, Trianna looked almost uncomfortable. She pursed her lips. "Holme here?"

The last time the two of them had been in a room together was still fresh in Brom's mind. He wasn't sure he was itching for a repeat.

His hesitation must have been visible on his face, for Angela slipped her arm through Trianna's and said, "Anna is here to apologise."

"Angie," Trianna hissed.

Angela didn't even blink. She just smiled at Brom like everything was right in the world.

Brom bit back another sigh and reminded himself that, even though past experiences dictated that Trianna and Tornac were more likely to shout at each other than to apologise, he should at least give them the benefit of the doubt. And if it came to blows, he knew Angela wouldn't hesitate to get between them.

Now, more than ever, did Brom regret having to keep his magic under such tight control. He couldn't wait for the pregnancy to end.

"I'll go check with him," he offered.

"No need," someone said behind them.

Brom turned to see that Tornac had slipped into the room while he had been otherwise preoccupied. Judging by the look on Trianna's face, he wasn't the only one that had missed Tornac's entrance.

"Angie," Tornac greeted, smiling gently. The smile disappeared a second later. "Magii."

"Holme," Trianna returned coolly.

Brom looked behind him, but it looked like Tornac was alone. "Where's the kid?"

Tornac didn't take his eyes off Trianna as he said, "In his room."

Small mercies, Brom had enough time to think before he felt a tingle in the ward that reminded him not to count his chickens just yet. He didn't hesitate or try to explain himself; he just ran.

"Brom?!"

Most bedrooms had access to the terrace, even those in the guest wing. He hadn't put Murtagh in a room with terrace access – for obvious reasons – but he hadn't thought that far when it came to Tornac's room. He'd just stuck them in rooms next to each other and left it at that. Brom was regretting that now. Considering how Tornac had all but adopted Brom's ward out from under him, he wouldn't have thought to do anything to keep Murtagh out of his room. Meaning Murtagh had terrace access as long as he was unsupervised and curious enough to risk it.

Brom had no idea why Murtagh had chosen that moment to risk it, but he was going to make sure the kid never did it again.

The door to Tornac's room was closed, but Brom slammed it open without even slowing down. The curtains were fluttering in the breeze that shouldn't have been there. Brom pushed past them and stepped onto the terrace to a terrifying sight.

"MURTAGH!"

Murtagh jolted and looked at him guiltily. He tried to hide the stolen keys in his hand, but not quickly enough. Brom had already seen them and identified them as Tornac's. He didn't look forward to telling Tornac his little protégé was a pick-pocket in the making.

Straight opposite Murtagh was his father. Murtagh hadn't gone as far as to step off the terrace, but he was close enough that if he just leaned forward a little bit, Morzan could reach out and grab him. Or could have, rather, if Murtagh hadn't picked Tornac's pocket before going outside.

That didn't stop Brom from stalking over and pulling Murtagh to stand behind him.

Morzan watched him, head tilted ever so slightly. His eyes slid down to where Brom knew Murtagh's eye-level was before rising to meet Brom's again. That was when Brom noticed the vampire-sheen was missing from his eyes once again. He filed the information away before focusing firmly on the situation at hand.

"Your desire to protect the boy is admirable," Morzan said, voice even, "but unnecessary."

"I think I'll be the judge of that," Brom told him flatly.

"He's my son," Morzan said. "I won't hurt him."

Brom kept himself firmly between the two. "Forgive me if I don't quite believe you."

Morzan kept looking at him.

Brom could feel the edge of the decking beneath his sock-clad feet. He knew he was playing with fire and couldn't find it in himself to care.

"I will protect him as long as he remains under my roof," Brom said gruffly.

Morzan said nothing. His eyes kept boring into Brom's, but Brom was determined not to flinch this time. He had a firmer grip on his body. If Morzan was waiting for him to blink or react, he would have to wait a long time.

There was a long pause where everything seemed to be still. Brom couldn't even hear the wind rustling through the trees anymore. Everything had shrunk until him, the child he was protecting and the man standing so close it was only due to the barrier that they weren't touching.

"Then you are forgiven," Morzan said into the silence. He took a step back, then another, before melting into the shadows like the vampire he was.

Brom ushered Murtagh back inside the house and closed the door before Morzan could change his mind and come back. That was when it occurred to him that he'd stepped outside without his sword or anything else to protect him.

-;-

Murtagh was on house arrest. He'd frowned at the word and asked what it meant, but seemed familiar enough with the concept once it was explained to him. Murtagh wasn't the only one on house arrest, however.

"I am a grown man," Brom reminded his so-called friends.

"Then start acting like it," Trianna snapped. "Until then, you're staying put."

"This is my house," he felt compelled to say.

He automatically downgraded his friends to acquaintances when they didn't seem to care about that.

"I'll make sure he doesn't do anything overly stupid," Tornac said to the women.

"I guess that's all we can ask for, really," Trianna said, voice dry.

Angela's mouth twitched in amusement as she finished going over the wards.

"I'm so glad to see you two have made up," Brom drawled.

"A mutual friend's stupidity can do that," Tornac said pointedly.

Brom was tempted to use his magic to throw them out but knew it was pointless. It would leave him drained and probably only accomplish in sending Tornac out on his ass. Angela and Trianna were skilled mages in their own right (probably more so than him, though he'd never tell them that), but they were unstoppable when they were side-by-side and weaving spells together.

"I still have my magic," Brom reminded them. "I'm not helpless."

"No, but you are Morzan cat-nip," Trianna said unapologetically, eyeing him sharply.

Brom was offended.

Tornac looked uncomfortable when he reminded him, "You want to be Morzan cat-nip, remember?"

"So he doesn't snack on unsuspecting people," Angela added.

"I hate all of you."

Trianna just gave him a dead-eyed stare before turning back to Tornac. "I get his bestiary when he dies."

"You've already called dibs on the armoury!" Tornac protested.

"Because there's nothing there for people like you," Trianna countered.

"Anna," Angela interjected.

"Like you don't want to get your hands on the Teller bestiary," Trianna said to her girlfriend.

Brom rubbed at his temples, but it did nothing to stave off the building headache. "If you're just going to bitch at each other, you can do it elsewhere."

The three of them just gave him various degrees of unimpressed stares.

"That was a hint," he told them. "Get out of my house."

They just turned back to one another.

"Keep us in the loop on," Angela gestured around the room, but likely referring to much more than just Brom's living room.

Tornac nodded. "And you'll be back?"

"In two weeks," Trianna said briskly.

Well, if they were determined to ignore him then Brom could do one better. He left the room and found himself almost stumbling over Murtagh, who had been lingering in the hallway just outside.

Murtagh looked up at him, cheeks tinted slightly with guilt.

Brom motioned for him to come along. He guided the boy back to the room he was staying in for the next foreseeable future and urged him to go inside. He waited until they'd both crossed the threshold before closing the door.

"You know you can't do that again, right?" Brom held back a grimace. "Seek out your father, I mean."

"I know you don't want me to," Murtagh said, which wasn't the same as what Brom had said at all.

"Murtagh -"

"He isn't going to hurt me," Murtagh interrupted.

Brom sighed. "You can't know that."

Murtagh frowned. "Yes, I can."

Brom was surprised. Where was the boy he'd met, who had looked frightened for his life when he'd only proclaimed that his father was awake? Something had clearly changed between then and now – most visibly in Murtagh. Brom was not ready to trust that Morzan had changed in any significant way, not until he had tangible proof.

After all; just because he hadn't grabbed for Brom earlier didn't mean he wouldn't have, had there not been a barrier between them.

"Look -"

"He's different," Murtagh said stubbornly.

"That doesn't mean he's changed that much, or that he can't relapse," Brom said. "You need to be careful around him, no matter what."

"I'm not the one that needs to be careful."

Coming from anyone else, that might have sounded like a threat. Coming from Murtagh, it was clearly a warning.

"I know better than to be careless around your father."

Murtagh didn't look entirely convinced.

"There were special circumstances at play tonight." Brom looked at him pointedly.

Murtagh looked away.

Brom waited, but Murtagh seemed content to leave it at that. He held in a sigh. "Tornac is probably going to come in here and give you the same talk," he said. "You can tell him I already did it, all right?"

Murtagh nodded sullenly.

Brom left it at that.

-;-

Brom started keeping his keys on him at all times after that. He also gritted his teeth and asked Angela to spell an item for him that he wouldn't have to take off – something he could have done with ease before, but that he was forbidden from doing at the moment. Angela agreed readily enough and spelled his father's signet ring – which Brom took to wearing around his neck.

It cost him 'a favour to be named later' to get it done; Angela's favourite method of payment. He dreaded to find out what she would ask of him one day but knew he'd asked the right woman. Angela's favour was bound to be cheaper than what Trianna would have asked for as payment.

Brom felt like he'd done the entire thought for nought for the first few weeks. After all, what use did he have for a protective amulet when he wasn't even 'allowed' to leave his own house? But he did know it was better to ask for help sooner than later. While his magic wasn't gone and wouldn't leave him if he used it, both his doctor and his troublesome friends warned him to use it sparingly while pregnant. More than one mage had caused an unfortunate incident or two by casting too complex spells in the middle of their pregnancy.

He felt stuck and was probably acting grumpier than usual, but Brom felt like it was only fair. His own friends had him under 'house arrest', for crying out loud! And it wasn't until a month later that Tornac reluctantly said he was free to move about as usual. Brom was less than impressed.

His 'house arrest' had extended to the porch, leaving Murtagh forced to take over giving his father the sustenance he needed to stay awake and (semi-)sane. Brom had watched the encounter through the window, ready to jump out – 'house arrest' be damned – if anything happened, but the exchange had gone almost suspiciously smoothly.

Murtagh hadn't been willing to tell them why he'd sought out his father that day and Morzan had remained just as tight-lipped – though for very different reasons, Brom suspected. Morzan thrilled in having them run around like headless chickens. Murtagh...Brom didn't know what was going on in his head half the time, and that scared him. Tornac would hopefully have more luck than him in that department.

"He won't kill me," Brom heard Murtagh say as he walked past the boy's room one day. "I'm his only living vampire heir."

Brom felt himself pause. His blood had run cold. What kind of reassurance was that?!

"Murtagh..." Tornac trailed off.

There was a pause, where Brom imagined that Tornac looked heartbroken in that special way of his. It always inspired the worst kind of guilt and made people spill their guts whether they wanted to or not.

"I know that he worries you," Murtagh said, "and he should. My Father is dangerous, but not to me. He needs me to appease the Council."

Brom felt sick to his stomach. He understood what Murtagh meant and hated that Murtagh did too.

The Vampire Council were all about keeping the bloodline pure, as sanctimonious douchebags were wont to do. And pureblood vampires came from impregnation rather than the bite. Murtagh was one such vampire, and Morzan too. Brom's extensive research into the man had taught him that much.

No child should know that they had been born to appease some higher form of 'government' (if the Council could be called anything but crazy).

"How do you know that?" Tornac asked softly.

Murtagh was conspicuously silent. "I heard him speaking about it once," he mumbled, almost too quiet for Brom to hear.

There was another silence, where Brom imagined Tornac putting an arm around the boy to comfort him. Tornac was good at comforting others – much more so than Brom.

"We just want you to be careful," Tornac said quietly.

"I haven't been to see him lately," Murtagh replied, sounding almost like he was brooding.

Oh, Brom was not looking forward to when the boy became a proper teenager. The regular hormones alone would make the boy a nightmare, let alone the ones that would bring about his vampire awakening.

"I believe you," Tornac said.

Brom waited, but it seemed like their talk was over. He prepared to keep walking when Tornac spoke up.

"Want to go back to our lessons now?"

Murtagh groaned.

Brom took that as his cue and quietly slipped away before Tornac noticed him and roped him into the lesson.

-;-

It may only have happened once before, but Brom was still sick and tired of vampires trying to encroach onto his property. He grabbed the sword again, in case he needed to hack off somebody's head, and headed for the terrace.

To his surprise, it wasn't the same vampires as last time. There were only two of them this time, with sickly pale skin and bare heads that seemed to gleam in the moonlight. They turned towards him in perfect synchronicity.

They were twins, Brom realised suddenly. He hadn't known who the other vampire interlopers had been, considering Morzan had been reluctant – to put it mildly – to reveal their names, but Brom didn't need Morzan's cooperation now. There weren't many vampire twins. In fact, as far as Brom knew, there was only one currently living set.

Morzan flashed to stand between the twins and Brom, but it only succeeded in shielding his lower half from view. The terrace was too tall for Morzan to shield much more. The twins eagerly took in what they could of Brom's form, their eyes glimmering in the dark.

Brom tightened his hand around the pommel and let them look.

"What a curious predicament you've found yourself in, Morzan," one twin said, tilting his head in one direction.

"It would be a shame to leave you here," the other followed, tilting his head in the other direction.

As if a set of vampire twins wasn't creepy enough, Brom thought to himself, they had to go and act like that.

"I knew that bastard would send you two," Morzan said darkly.

Brom could see that his hands were clenched by his sides.

"Then you must also know why we've come," one of the twins said.

The other seemed content to look at Brom like he was prime meat. Brom made a vow to kill him first – if it came to blows.

"I'm not going back," was all Morzan said.

The twins didn't seem to be overly surprised or saddened by Morzan's decision. If anything, it was the opposite. They grinned as if on cue, showing off fangs that were likely meant to inspire fear. All Brom could think was that Morzan's fangs were decidedly more impressive.

"That is a shame," one twin said.

"But now we get to kill you," the other continued.

"And we have been so looking forward to that day," the first finished.

There was a lot to unpack in those statements, but Brom had better things to do. Like making the maggots regret the day they decided to darken his doorstep. "The only one that gets to kill on my lands is me," he growled. He imbued his sword with as much magic as he could spare and then he sent it flying.

The twins jumped back, but it was in vain. Brom kept his focus on the blade until it severed the neck of one of the vampires and pulled on the magic sharply so it could go straight through the skull of the other on its way back into Brom's hand.

He forced himself not to grimace when his hand closed around the pommel. It was tacky. Brom shook the blood from the blade and told himself he could clean it properly later.

When he turned to Morzan, the vampire was already staring at him. "What?"

Morzan said nothing.

Brom decided to ignore him. He tried to remember if he had any spare gasoline lying around instead. The corpses would need to be burned before their stink started to attract any unwanted attention – human or otherwise.

"You have to let me go," Morzan said into the quiet.

Brom waited for the urge to scoff, but it never came. He turned towards Morzan instead.

Morzan was still looking at him. His eyes were shimmering like lakes under a blood moon. They didn't scare Brom nearly as much as they'd used to. "Shade will only keep sending acolytes after me until I'm dead." Morzan was practically leaning against the barrier between them. "Let me go."

Brom filed the name away for later and took a moment to watch him. He considered the options. If he didn't let Morzan go, then someone was bound to come for the two vampires he'd just killed. And there would undoubtedly be another fight, but Brom knew that it was more likely that he wouldn't be able to help the next time. Either they came before the baby did, or just after; and fighting at either time would leave him far too vulnerable.

If he let Morzan go, he was trusting that Morzan would focus on what he presumed was a revenge-fueled mission or be faced with the consequences of Morzan going on another rampage. Even if Morzan acknowledged that he needed Brom's blood – and only Brom's – to survive, his mind might still be fighting against the idea. He could very well kill a handful or two, just to see. And then those lives would be on Brom's head.

Either option was a risk, but he knew what the only real option was.

"You're going to get yourself killed."

"What do you care?" was Morzan's automatic reply.

Brom didn't answer. It was better for them both if he didn't. He turned around instead and headed back into the depths of the house. He came back five minutes later with a bag and a fresh bandage around the crook of his arm.

Morzan looked at the former first but lingered longer on the latter.

"If you ration these, you might be able to survive whatever foolishness you're about to do."

Brom stuck his arm through the barrier and placed the bag by Morzan's legs. Morzan, still likely stunned, didn't even move until Brom's arm was safely back on the other side of the barrier.

There was a long moment before Morzan moved. "You've gone soft, Teller." Still, he picked up the bag.

"I'm more than happy to kill you if you move against me or mine again."

For once, Morzan didn't seem to have a belittling or sniping quip at the ready. He shouldered the bag without taking his eyes away from Brom.

Brom reached into himself and found the necessary energy to take down the barrier around the land. It was difficult, more so than it would have been if he hadn't just beheaded two vampires with a magical sword, but he managed to keep the barrier around the house in place.

Morzan stared at him for a long moment. Brom waited for him to speak, but Morzan just kept staring.

And then, between one blink and the next, he was gone.


TBC


A/N And that's it for the chapter!

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