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Generated: Apr 05, 2019 5:55 PM
Post last updated: Apr 05, 2019 5:55 PM
cold like stone
James meets his mate
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It's overcast, which means James doesn't have to be all "careful" while walking around outside, so he can in fact just walk around outside! It's nice to do that every now and then. And then there are a couple of packages he's expecting so he might enjoy this lovely unsunny day to visit the Post Office, why not.

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The line's pretty short, there aren't that many people in today, though the ones that are in are giving the pretty young woman talking to the clerk at the desk a bit of a look. Well, some of them. Others are giving her a look more in the realm of 'pitying.'

"—look," she's saying, "I understand that you can't—is there anything in that area that would delay letters? Some kind of, of, customs holdup or something?"

  "It's possible, but a delay of that sort probably wouldn't be for more than four to eight weeks."

"It's been three months," says the young woman, sounding very upset about it, "how often do you lose international mail...?"

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That's the hottest person he's ever seen. The hottest person, full stop.

He would know, he's a vampire, he's been everywhere, he's been to Antarctica, he's had more sex than he can remember (only strictly true due to his forgetting his human life). She's objectively the hottest person on Earth.

And she's distressed. Why is she distressed? Someone should have sent her letters and hasn't in months? He - he needs to find this person for her, but then he wouldn't see her for a while and that sounds - wrong.

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  "Look, I can put out a notice for lost letters from—which country was it, again, dear?"

"Uh, I got his last letter from Belgium, but he'd been planning to go to Germany, so it might be from there."

  "Belgium or Germany," repeats the clerk, dutifully. "Repeat the name for me again, sweetheart?"

"Lowell. L-O-W-E-L-L. First name Albert, goes by Blair, addressed to Yvette or Franklin of the same last name."

  "Okay. Address to reach you if I find anything...?"

She dutifully recites her address in a low voice that does nothing at all to prevent vampiric eavesdropping.

  "Thank you," says the clerk. "I'll let you know if we find anything."

"Or if you don't find anything, please," specifies, apparently, Yvette. "I—I need to know if I need to get the police involved, he wouldn't just stop sending letters."

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Yvette. What a beautiful name. And a - relative, this Blair, whom she hasn't seen in a while. A long while, for a human. She expected letters.

He's probably dead.

That would be horrible. She would be so upset. She shouldn't be upset.

(He's standing there, frozen.)

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  "Are you sure he might not have just forgotten to write...?"

"Yes," says Yvette, bluntly, with absolutely no hesitation. Though she clearly doesn't want to get into a debate about it right now, because then she follows up with: "Um—thank you so much for your help, you've been very kind, I'll try to find some other way to get in touch with him. "

Some more pleasantries are exchanged, and Yvette turns and walks right out the door, eyes drifting right over everyone in the line without any regard for any of them, James included.

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- yeah he's gonna follow her, all thoughts of his package forgotten.

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Once outside of the post office and away from the eyes of the people inside, she bows her head and inhales a shaky breath.

"Please be okay," she murmurs to the wind, on the off chance that it might go far enough that he might hear it.

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Someone does. He briefly touches her shoulder and says, "Excuse me?"

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She jumps, and her hand flies to her face to scrub at her eyes to disguise the tears that definitely were not there, nope, nothing to see here.

"—Um," she says, swallowing her automatic apology because objectively speaking, she has done nothing wrong, "yes?"

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- shit now he doesn't know what to say. What the fuck, no, that's not him, he always knows what to say. He will be charming and nice and help this suffering lady.

This pause isn't perceptible by a human. "I'm sorry, I couldn't help but overhear some of your conversation inside - are you okay?"

...gee, generic isn't it. Well. Maybe it'll fly.

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Judging from her expression: no. No, it does not fly.

"I'm fine," she lies. She is not attempting to be subtle about how she is definitely lying.

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"I'm sorry, I suppose that must've sounded insensitive. Was it your - husband...?"

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"Brother," she corrects. Her ring finger is bare; she's probably unmarried.

She takes a measured step away from him, and then tries on a smile that doesn't quite fit. "I'm sorry, I'd really love to chat," yeah zero interest in disguising how that is definitely a lie, she does not want to chat with him right now, "but I have an appointment to make, excuse me."

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"Right." Oh, unmarried, good. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have intruded. I'll let you go to your appointment. I hope you find him."

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"Thanks. Me too," she says, and then off she goes without so much as a backwards glance.

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Well, then. He supposes he's going to Belgium, isn't he? But he'll need something more than just a name.

He bets he can get to Yvette's place before she does.

He walks somewhere unobserved then jumps onto a rooftop and runs.

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He can absolutely get to Yvette's place before she does.

Here is a quaint little two story house in a lovely out of the way neighborhood!

James might notice that there is a human in it, on the second floor.

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Probably Franklin, whoever that is.

Any open windows?

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Nope!

If he would like to check, the front door's locked, but the back door isn't.

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And he can be oh so very very quiet.

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The interior of the first floor is pretty and tidy and comfortable, though a bit cramped. The amount of furniture for a space of this size is... suggestive. Like either the residents like buying furniture, or they moved from a much larger house where this amount of furniture was a bit more appropriate, and then couldn't bear to throw some of it away, so they figured out how to make it work. It'd probably start drifting into the realm of claustrophobic if it were a bit less neatly kept. As it is, though, there's no dust on any of the shelves or objects egregiously out of place. It doesn't cross the line into 'unlived in,' though. There are papers casually dumped on a table, a seedling with roots that are soaking in a glass stuffed with water and what-is-probably-paper, unwashed dishes in the sink, a book next to the couch instead of on a shelf, and a number of other casual indicators that people actually live here.

Most relevant to his interests are perhaps the pictures arranged on the fireplace's mantle. Here is Yvette and a young man that looks like her (Blair, probably), and an elderly gentleman with glasses that looks like them both. Here is a somewhat stiff picture from what was probably years ago of four people, Yvette-Blair-father-mother. Here is a picture of Yvette and Blair in front of a very different, much larger house.

They look happy.

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That's heartbreaking. But now he knows what Blair looks like. His scent would be useful, though; it's a long shot but can he by any chance detect at least three scents in the house? And more specifically, any scents that are not Yvette's or presumably-Franklin's?

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There are a few stray scents of visitors around the house, but mostly it seems to be from two people. Yvette's and presumably-Franklin's.

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Fuck.

...but surely they must've kept the letters, right? Right. Can he find them?

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Not downstairs, but they might be kept upstairs, somewhere.

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...risky. But -

- he tiptoes upstairs. If Yvette arrives he can be fast enough to not be seen.

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The stairs obligingly do not creak.

Upstairs has three doors, one of which is closed, and contains the human. One looks like it leads to a bathroom, the other...

... That smells like it's Yvette's room.

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Yeah, that's probably where they'd be, isn't it. Into it he goes -

- the scent makes his thirst flare, yes, but it also reminds him of her and he closes his eyes to focus on her face, perfectly etched into his perfect memory -

- then he opens his eyes again and looks around.

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The room has a lot of personality, and doesn't have quite the same furniture problem that the downstairs was suffering from. There are a lot of shelves, with neatly organized books and small, pretty knick knacks. A couple of potted plants sit by the window in the sunlight, looking well cared for. In the corner, the small (single) bed is made with fresh sheets. A dresser sits in the closet, next to a rack where a number of dresses hang above a neatly arranged set of shoes. A soft rug that matches the curtains sits comfortably on the floor.

There is a desk with a chair, notable for distinctly not being neat. Or, well, not entirely. There are pens in a little decorated cup (all turned the same way) and miscellaneous papers sorted into (labelled) slots in a box and blank sheets of paper here where they are easy to grab. However, clearly she's in the middle of something at the desk. Here is a stack of papers that are folded like letters, with little colored paper sticky tabs stuck to them with two sets of dates attached, here are notes she's written to herself, here is a map of Europe with specific cities carefully circled in colors that correspond to the little paper sticky tabs, with date ranges written onto them. Here is a small, opened booklet with a list of things to do that are all brother related, including 'Check post office for letters,' which has not yet been crossed out. That'll probably change when she gets back.

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She's adorable in addition to being the most objectively hot person in the world. He should have expected this but somehow failed to.

She has also made his life much easier than it could've been. He's certain he can find things with Blair's scent, which is probably the most useful part of this, but this itinerary and everything she's tried so far will also be very useful. A previous letter will also help him narrow down where exactly in Belgium he should start looking.

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There are many previous letters! Arranged in order from newest to oldest, because of course they are. The colored tabs correspond to the cities they were sent from; apparently he first arrived in Amsterdam in the Netherlands (blue), then went to Rotterdam (orange), Antwerp (purple), Brussels (green), and the last one came from Liège (red). The letters vary wildly in length, tending more towards terseness than length, but he was quite dutiful about sending one at least every two weeks. Apparently he had plans to make his way to Cologne, in Germany. He acknowledges it's a weird place to visit, but, quote, 'Would it be me if I went somewhere normal?'

A lot of the scent's been rubbed off of the letters, especially the latest ones, which smell mostly like Yvette by now. Luckily for him, a few of the ones in the middle have been conscientiously returned to their envelopes, which managed to preserve the faintest whiffs of maybe-scent. Comparing the faint traces from the different letters is not very good, but it's certainly better than nothing.

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Better than nothing, yeah, and it all certainly paints a picture. He's vaguely aware that something's going on in Germany but he's not sure what. He quickly plans a travel route, starting in Liège, then looks around for anything more that might be of help.

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In this letter he describes what sort of place he's staying in, and what part of town he was in! That's about it, though, he doesn't describe his plans for his method of transport, apparently he either didn't think that was a relevant thing to tell his sister, or he was planning to wing it.

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Any other letters mention transport?

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Apparently there was this one guy that was kind enough to let Blair hitchhike with him on the way from Rotterdam to Antwerp. They had marvelous conversations and Blair expects Yvette would have liked him very much. Other than that, no, not really. Unless James would like to know which ship he took to get to Amsterdam?

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Probably not useful but costless when he has an eidetic memory.

Anything other than the letters?

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Nothing else of immediate use, and it's not like he'll forget anything. He has the map and every letter and the notes Yvette wrote to herself. Her going hypothesis is that something happened in Germany, because Germany's a mess, but she's clearly making guesses.

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The notes to herself are... still informative but they make him sad. She's clearly so terribly sad and she's grasping at everything, every shred of hope -

- perhaps he should tell her -

- the Volturi would kill him and then he'd never find Blair and then maybe they'd even kill her and that's unthinkable. So it's decided. He puts everything back exactly where it was and then it's sneaking out time.

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Franklin has not left his room, and Yvette has still not returned. Sneaking out is easy enough.

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And now he's going to Belgium.

It... might be faster to take a boat. But then again, it might not. He goes back to his place and grabs some stuff he wants to take with him and runs to the coast at top speed not stopping for anything then goes looking for boats while gauging whether swimming will get him there first.

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It depends on the boat! Some of the nicer ones would be faster, but they tend to require scheduling in advance, and nothing is really available now now, even if he were a stowaway.

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Swimming it is!

...he kinda doesn't want to get saltwater all over his clothing. Hmm. He's sure he can find a waterproof bag somewhere, there must be one for sale - aha, yeah, there. He purchases it, then goes somewhere deserted, strips, puts all his belonging in the bag, and swims, swims faster than he's ever had to. He has to make a couple of pauses to eat - fish are terrible but sharks are less terrible - and then he's in France and the Belgium border is right over there. He runs, gets dry enough, gets dressed, runs more - Liège is rather far inland - there's another pause for food, some farmer now that there are humans around, and then...

Then he's in Liège.

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From there he can guesstimate from Blair's letters where he was staying. After months, there's not just going to be the scent of him wafting around, but Blair wasn't actually trying to disguise his location from his own sister, even if he perhaps could have been more specific. With a bit of patience and logic, James can narrow down the location; a modest little hole in the wall of a bed and breakfast that looks... kind of adorable, actually.

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Of course the adorable hottest woman in the world has an adorable brother. And James saw his picture, Blair is hot, too, even if not as hot as she is.

He goes to the little hole-in-the-wall place and looks around for anyone that looks like they might know anything.

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There's a receptionist at a desk in the front, idly reading a magazine. She looks up when James comes in, and smiles and addresses him in French.

"Bonjour! Are you looking for a room?"

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"Bonjour!" he replies in Paris-accented French. "I'm actually looking for a friend. Last I heard from him he came here - that was, hmm, about three months ago? About yea tall, dark hair, goes by Blair but actual first name is Albert..."

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"Ah, three months ago...?" she stops to think. "Oh, oh, the Englishman that said he was a linguist? Yes, I remember him, he stayed here for a couple of weeks. Friendly man, very charming. Paid in advance, gone one morning without a word."

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"Oh? He didn't happen to say where he'd gone next or leave a forwarding address or anything like that?"

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"No, here one day, gone the next morning. One of the maids was very upset about it. He actually left a few things behind, we didn't know where to mail them to."

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"One of the maids? What was she upset about? And, ah, I have his sister's address, her name's Yvette, I could mail them to her."

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"Oh," her voice lowers, "she fancied him. She was very put out that he left without saying goodbye. Ah, yes, we still have them in a box in the back, I can go get them for you if you'll wait here..?"

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"Aha. Yes, he's very fanciable, I understand. I'll be waiting here, thank you."

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”You’re welcome!” she chirps, then away she goes.

She returns with a little modest bag of items. ”Please let him know he’s welcome to come stay with us anytime he’s in the city!”

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"I will, thank you very much! Have a nice day!"

Okay, and once he's out of sight - scent from inside the box?

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”You too!”

The bag contains: one (1) knife that folds in on itself, one (1) razor, three (3) socks, none of which match.

The socks are the only things that could possibly hold a scent that long, and have unfortunately been helpfully washed.

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Sigh. This isn't useful.

The guy disappearing suddenly is... ominous. That smells of kidnapping, no pun intended. He wraps the knife and the razor in the socks and stores them all inside his backpack. Part of him wants to give up now, to return and inform Yvette that her brother has disappeared, but - no. No, he has not done all he could.

He waits until night, until it's dark enough that no one will be looking, and returns to the bed-and-breakfast, but this time from the rooftop. And it's stalker time - he will try to go window by window to see if he finds anything, anything at all that's supicioius.

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There are several couples that are shagging, but nothing is obviously out of the ordinary.

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Grrr.

He runs around the place some more, trying to find anything out of the ordinary but - no, nothing. Okay, time to talk to more people. The following day is... not sufficiently overcast, so he grumps all day and decides to explore the surrounding area, far enough to not be seen sparkling.

(Also a pause for a snack, but no one from the village, just some animal somewhere.)

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No one sees him sparkling, and no one will miss the critter he ate.

The next day is a light drizzle that is much more friendly to vampires.

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And then he can go looking for a certain maid...

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There are a couple maids! It is not immediately clear which one of them was sweet on Blair.

... But one of them does jump a little upon seeing him, and keeps apologizing for no reason and stealing glances at James's eyes.

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His eyes.

Fuck. He was trying not to think of that, it's too much of a coincidence - but nearly all Blair's stuff was taken, why would that happen if it was a regular kidnapping? They wanted to make him - comfortable, keeping his things - fuck he might not even remember Yvette, James knows he had a sister only because he visited his town later and saw his family, he remembers her face but with no fondness, that would wreck Yvette -

- it might have wrecked his sister, he doesn't know, he never thought about it -

- he puts these thoughts out of his mind, smiles brightly, and says, "There's no need to apologize. Are you alright?"

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"Ah—yes, monsieur, no problem, sorry for bothering you ifyou'llexcuseme—"

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"Please, wait just a moment. I wanted to ask you a question, it shouldn't be long." He doesn't quite reach for her but he does take a half-step towards her.

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She shrinks, but stops fleeing.

"Yesmonsieur."

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"A few months ago, a friend of mine was here - goes by Blair, legal name Albert. He's English. Then he - left, but we haven't heard from him since and his family is really worried. Do you know - anything, anything at all...?"

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She swallows and looks a little bit like she would like very much to sink into the ground and disappear.

"There was, um." She shrinks some more and looks at her shoes. "A married couple that looked like you were asking after him. I didn't, they, um. They made me very nervous."

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Fuckity fuck fuck. He furrows his eyebrows in worry. "Looked like me, like - the eyes, and skin? Were they looking for him specifically?"

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"Ah, yes. They wanted to know more about him, are they, um... family of yours...?"

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"More or less, but we're - estranged. I don't like it that they found Blair and then Blair disappeared. Do you know anything about where they might have gone? Did they maybe have an accent?" Not that that means much, he learnt French after becoming a vampire and got a Parisian accent just because that's where he did it but it's something.

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"Ah, no, they didn't mention. Parisian, like yours, monsieur."

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He nods, and smiles at her. "Thank you very much, madame, you were very helpful. If I find him I will be sure to come here and tell you."

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"You're, um, you're welcome. I hope he's okay."

And with that, she flees.

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He curses some more in a tone much too high for human hearing then starts looking around the town again, this time looking for evidence of vampires. Dead or kidnapped people, especially, but then he'll have to look around in other cities nearby to see if they suggest a direction - unless Liège gets news like that.

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There are the expected number of missing persons for a city, but not the expected number of missing persons for a city that regularly houses vampires, and there aren't any notable vampiric scents floating around in the area. They probably moved on, but the direction they went isn't clear.

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This rain doesn't help. He'll... take his chances and go north. Vampires are more likely to prefer the north for weather reasons.

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North is the Netherlands!

...

There are no obvious traces of a coven of three nomad vampires, here. There's a vampire that keeps a territory around here that he could perhaps ask, but he wouldn't have been involved in any of this and might not even have been aware that there were nomads to the south of him, eating or turning brothers of pretty girls.

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Grrrrrrrr!

South now.

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France!

... Nnnope. He does pick up the smell of a nomad, but just the one, no large, three person coven.

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And missing persons over the past three months still stable, probably. Come on, where would they have taken a newborn, surely they'd have had to kidnap some humans?

East!

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Germany!

Wow, no, these guys do not have their shit together enough for him to get any kinds of statistics to track down nomad vampires of any kind. They are very sad, here. Also very poor.

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...that's promising, though. Germany is where Blair was planning to go next and... whatever... social collapse going on here... is probably actually pretty great for a newborn vampire?

(Pretty great for an older vampire, as well, he hasn't eaten in a while, he'll go find some human to nom. Nommmmmm.)

Vampires! Here batty batty here, here batty batty!

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Yeah, this is actually pretty great for vampires, everyone's so miserable and expecting death at their door at all times!

He does in fact run into a vampire! Not the ones he wanted, but a vampire!

"Nuremburg's mine, go elsewhere if you're thirsty," she informs him, from about 400 meters away.

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"I'm not looking to stay, I'm just trying to track some friends that might have passed by here. A couple and a newborn, about three months ago?"

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"Oh. Them. Yep, saw 'em. Italy."

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"Oh, that's grand! Do you happen to know whereabouts in Italy?"

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"Did not care, do not care."

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"They didn't mention anything while you could hear? I promise I'll get out of your hair as soon as I can, I just want to not run around in circles." More circles, rather.

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"No. Do I look like I like long conversations? They were a bunch of bleeding tourists. That enough for you?"

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"It is, yeah, thank you, and sorry to bother."

Italy is still better than nothing. To Italy, seeing if he can find any more informative vampires on the way.

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No vampires are really on the way to Italy.

There are some obvious ones in Italy that he could probably ask, if he wants to do that.

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Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha.

(No.)

There aren't many places they could've reasonably entered Italy from. He's hoping against hope that one of those entry points will have vampires that might have sighted the trio. Please? Or at least some small villages with mysterious disappearances a while back?

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Oh, yeah! Now that he mentions it, these people did go missing a while back!

This is notable not on account of the numbers, but on account of the aim and the fact that they all disappeared in the same timeframe. All of them were really terrible people, apparently, and no one misses them. One of them was apparently a child molester!

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...why should he care?

Whatever, it's a pattern. Does it continue in any direction?

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Right to Venice!

Then to Vienna, in Austria. Then Budapest, Hungary. Then Romania, then—

Huh. This is actually a pretty clear pattern to follow, if one watches for it with vampires in mind.

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...interesting. So he'll watch, and follow, stopping for snacks every now and then because wow he really didn't think he'd have spent the next few weeks of his life touring around Europe when he went to grab that one package that day huh well anyway onwards he's surely moving faster than the trio.

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He's definitely moving faster. The trail gets hotter and hotter, the very directed murder sprees less in the past.

Eventually, he catches up with them in Bucharest.

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They're letting Blair do the hunting for them, since it matters so much to him. This allows Danuta and Gavriel to enjoy hobbies such as birding, outdoor fornication, and fashion tourism.

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And what are the odds Blair is gonna run into a random American vampire?

Actually pretty damn high, what with this random American vampire knowing his scent - or parts of it, enough to recognize it. So, where's Blair?

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Hunting, apparently. He has a bound and gagged man casually tossed over one shoulder, then stops to look at James curiously.

"... I'm sorry, is this yours? I didn't think this was anyone's territory." He looks very controlled for a newborn. No hiss, no posturing. Just calmly looking at him with his bright red newborn eyes.

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"No. No, not mine, thanks. Blair Lowell, right? I'm James Orland. I have been - looking for you."

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Head tilt.

"Oh? What for?"

(On his shoulder, the bound man struggles and attempts to scream. He is ignored.)

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"I - ran into your sister, in England. She's very, very worried. She hasn't - given up, yet, doesn't want to think you are dead. She is trying to do everything she can to find you."

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"Aw," says Blair, with a fond smile. "Knew I remembered her for a reason."

Then his eyebrows raise. "I wasn't aware she knew any vampires. Except me now, I suppose."

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Oh good he remembers. That's - that's really good.

"Uh, she doesn't really know I'm a vampire. Or that I came looking for you."

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"So you came trekking across Europe to find a guy that you didn't know, for a girl that doesn't know you're a vampire, or that you're looking for me. Do you do this often?"

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"Well not this in particular."

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"How long have you been trying to find me?"

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"It's been... a few weeks, I lost track of time. A month and change."

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"Uh... huh. Might I ask why?"

He seems to find something very funny.

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"She was very miserable, and I could do something to fix it. I like helping people, when I can."

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"Well, all right. I guess I can understand that. Would you like to help me with an... errand of mine?"

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"Sure! What do you need?"

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"I would like to kill my coven."

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He frowns. "Why?"

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"Because they forcibly turned me, dropped me in front of five humans straight out of turning, and my witch power didn't let me disassociate from humans as people, so I found the whole thing kind of traumatizing. I would like to avenge myself."

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"...yeah, okay, sure, I'll help."

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"Excellent," says Blair, with a slightly terrifying smile. He glances at the human he's carrying. "Do you want this? I already ate, it's much easier to hunt for myself than others."

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"Sure, haven't eaten in a while, thanks."

He has fairly good table manners.

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Blair obligingly holds his breath and does not fight over the terrible person. The terrible person is properly disposed of.

"Right, so. I'm just going to happily bounce up to them and introduce you and say I made a friend. Then we take them by surprise. Sounds good?"

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"It does. Can you fight at all, in addition to being a newborn?"

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"Haven't had much chance to practice, I was going to lean on the element of surprise. I have been a very docile newborn, they are not expecting an attack from me and they're expecting to get to work together to take me down. And not for me to get help."

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He nods. "Focus on the hands, they're important, but not so much so that you get distracted, a well-aimed kick can get your head off and then they can do whatever they want with you. Your strength is your biggest asset and, yeah, element of surprise will help, even during the actual fight - they will expect you to be unable to do anything smart when your instincts are taking over, so if you prove them wrong that can be decisive."

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He nods. "Thanks. I bet I can prove them wrong," he says, brightly.

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"Then let's surprise them."

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"Let's!"

He then bounces back to his coven, slight spring in his step.

"Hey, I made a friend!" he calls.

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"Aww!" says Danuta. "Hi, Blair's friend!"

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"Hello! I'm James. It's a pleasure to meet you."

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"I'm Danuta and my mate is Gavriel."

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Blair bounces over to Danuta.

"And he's already met me. This isn't his territory, I checked, we're not stepping on any toes," he reports, all smiles and cheer.

Permalink Eye

"Good, I hate fights with locals," says Danuta. "Like, travel, sticks-in-the-mud, right?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't tend to stick around anywhere myself, it gets boring really fast. I went to Antarctica once."

Permalink Eye

"But what do you eat there?" asks Gavriel.

Permalink Eye

"Penguins, seals, and whales, mostly. They taste horrid but it's what you have to do."

Permalink Eye

"Huh," says Blair, conversationally.

And then he leaps forward and rips Danuta's head off.

Permalink Eye

Gavriel roars and lunges for Blair.

Permalink Eye

Just in time to be casually intercepted by this other vampire midair and given the bear hug of his life. Awww look, James is making friends!

Permalink Eye

"I'd say it's nothing personal," says Blair lightly, moving to combo with another head rip, "but I'd be lying."

Both enemy combatants thus neutralized, Blair cheerfully moves on to turning them both into gravel so they can be set on fire.

Permalink Eye

James helps! And has matches in his large waterproof bag, how prepared!

"Want to do the honors?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes please, thank you!"

And then they are unceremoniously set on fire. Blair looks very pleased with himself.

Permalink Eye

He grins at Blair. "Very efficient, not bad at all."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you," says Blair, cheerfully. He looks fondly at the crackling fires that were once his covenmates. "So, now what are you planning to do?"

Permalink Eye

"Well, you're alive. Yvette is going to want to know this, some proof would be useful. You used to write her letters, every two weeks. I, ah... read them."

Permalink Eye

He blinks, thoughtfully. "Oh. Oh I did, didn't I. Ah, damn. Recite them to me? Then I can forge a series of them with the appropriate dates, and you can drop a bundle of them off at her apartment. And blame it on, I dunno. Customs or something."

Permalink Eye

"Can do." He recites them in order, start to finish.

Permalink Eye

"Thanks," he says, once the recitation's done. His former covenmates have finished burning. "I'm going to go get supplies, want to come with?"

Permalink Eye

"Sure."

Permalink Eye

Off they go!

"So," he says. "We can eat animals, apparently?"

Permalink Eye

"Oh, yeah. Did you not know? I suppose I didn't either prior to my trip."

Permalink Eye

"Nah. That's interesting. They smell disgusting, though, are you sure that's healthy? Long term."

Permalink Eye

"I haven't tried," he confesses. "There are some changes. Your eyes turn gold instead of red - maybe not for newborns - and your instincts work a bit differently. I was maybe a bit less strong?" He thinks back on it. "The thirst definitely had a different character, though. Hard to put a finger on exactly how."

Permalink Eye

"... Huh. Well, now I'll have to try it. Yvette will want to know, anyway."

Permalink Eye

"Will she?" He's maybe a touch more eager to know the answer to that question than its innocence would suggest.

Permalink Eye

Blair studiously does not giggle at the vampire that has definitely got it bad for his sister.

"Yeah. I don't quite remember everything, I'm leaning on my witch power a lot, but I don't think she'd be comfortable with needing to kill people to live. And we absolutely cannot go wrong by handing my sister all of the information we can get."

Permalink Eye

He nods and - doesn't need to commit this to memory but does the vampire equivalent of that. "What is your witch power?"

Permalink Eye

"Tracking power, but personality based. My feel of a person. As I talk to people I get more about them, and the better I know them the further away I can find them. But I get little wisps just from being around people. Which is why I don't eat people that don't deserve it."

Permalink Eye

He frowns a bit but nods. "And Yvette?"

Permalink Eye

"She's thataway." He points. "Had her right after turning."

Permalink Eye

"Do you remember a Franklin?"

Permalink Eye

He pauses to think.

"... Vaguely?" he muses. "My... father? Ah. There he is. Also thataway. I did not have him before, thank you."

Permalink Eye

"You're welcome."

Permalink Eye

They reach a store in which Blair can purchase supplies for systematic forgery! Of himself.

"So what's your plan after you've assured my sister that I am not dead?" he asks, at a pitch the pesky humans can't hear.

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

He shrugs. It's not like he's gonna tell her brother that he's going to charm her and hopefully sleep with her. "No specific plans."

Permalink Eye

Eyebrow raise.

"None whatsoever? Not even going off to find the next pretty girl to run all over Europe for over a month for?"

Permalink Eye

"It could be a pretty boy next time."

Permalink Eye

Blair snorts. "I suppose so." Yeah, bullshit, it is blatantly obvious to everyone but James that he is smitten.

Innocently: "Do you want some advice if you happen to have more than a minute long conversation with my sister?"

Permalink Eye

"I would appreciate that."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. So I'm pretty sure she values human life, for one."

Permalink Eye

"Well, she's human, so that makes sense."

Permalink Eye

"Right, but maybe don't just kill people because it's convenient. I think if she ever found out she'd be horrified and upset. Even if she doesn't find out, she'd be operating from the background assumption that there isn't much reason to kill random people. So. Kind of taking advantage of some misplaced trust, there, which: do you want to do that, James?"

Permalink Eye

He would rather die.

"No, that would not be very fair to her."

Permalink Eye

"Right. So. Horrible people or animals only, preference to animals," says Blair, brightly. Stationary, pens, and envelopes are acquired! Out of the store they go, now. Blair bought several different types so it looks less like he sat down and forged a series of letters.

"Let's see. Don't turn her without her permission. I realize like, Volturi, but I don't think my sister would turn down vampirism. But if you turn her without her permission and full disclosure at the start, she will not forgive you. And do we want that?"

Permalink Eye

"No, sir. It's bad enough to turn, and the surprise part doesn't help. But I don't think I'm going to tell her about being a vampire, anyway."

Permalink Eye

His mouth twitches. "Okay," he agrees, blandly.

"So, do also please remember that she is a squishy delicate human. Do not eat my sister. I realize your control's probably better than mine, but do not eat my sister."

Permalink Eye

He blinks. "I wouldn't. That would defeat the point."

Permalink Eye

"Well, keep in mind that accidents can happen and that humans can start bleeding at the drop of a hat, so please plan accordingly and do not get cocky. There is only one of her, if we lose her she's gone forever."

Permalink Eye

He nods seriously.

Permalink Eye

He considers also pointing out that if James hurts his sister, there is nowhere in the world that he could hide where Blair couldn't find him, and that he believes he has just proven that he's very patient and can play the long game, and plays to win.

Eh. 'It would hurt her' is probably more of an incentive. No need to get nasty.

"Questions?"

Permalink Eye

"Don't think so."

Yeah he would very much never ever ever hurt her ever he would rather die.

Permalink Eye

"No? Don't want to learn about the girl you trekked across Europe to cheer up?"

Permalink Eye

"I expect she will tell me if she wants me to know."

Permalink Eye

"Fair enough!" he agrees. Then he sits down to start forging letters.

"I don't think I'm ready to trust myself to be around her yet. My control's pretty good for my age but that's... not really saying much?"

Permalink Eye

"When I was that new I was much worse," he agrees, "but you'll know when you're actually safe to be around."

Permalink Eye

"Any tips? Ways I could practice my self control?"

Permalink Eye

"Start small. If you can get human objects, particularly clothing, and especially if there's blood in them, and be around them until you feel under control then that helps. Heartbeats are also an important part of it, though, so you should be around humans before attempting anything more sophisticated. Don't do that unless they are easily disposed of, because you will fail sometimes. Doing it while full for the first few times helps get into the right frame of mind, but eventually you should test your control while hungry."

Permalink Eye

He nods.

"All right. Thanks. My power gives me something of an edge, I can lean on it to help stop myself, or steer myself if I can't resist, but... My self control is too tenuous for my sister, I think. It's mostly a product of forward thinking and having an outlet to direct myself at."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "I think control is easier after eating animals, too," he adds as an afterthought.

Permalink Eye

"Really? I'd have thought it'd be the opposite. I can console myself with getting to eat a serial killer later instead of a mother of four."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "Really, yeah. So should I take these letters to Yvette and say there was some mixup, or...?"

Permalink Eye

"Or drop them outside her door like they arrived in the mail, if you don't want her asking inconvenient questions of you," he offers, slightly amused. He does not expect James to do this, but he might. "Blame it on the Germans. Maybe get some of them stamped with obnoxious red stamps with things like 'for review' or 'return to sender' in German, or something. Have a couple get forwarded to Belgium and then sorted out there. I vaguely recall bureaucracy as a terrifying amorphous thing, it can have plausibly held up some international letters for a couple of months. Don't say it was the English that screwed it up, it is both easier to verify and she's more likely to go yell at them so someone else doesn't have to lose their letters."

Permalink Eye

Wow. She sounds really adorable. Also hot.

He nods. "I'll remember that," he says, wryly.

Permalink Eye

"Luckily we did actually go through Germany, so I can make this pretty believable." Write write write, he has gotten through many letters very quickly, having a vampire boosted everything is awesome.

"Impatient to get back?" he wonders, mildly, as he writes.

Permalink Eye

"Somewhat," he admits. "But not enough that I'll rush you."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not happy about keeping her waiting either. I don't imagine worrying about me is all that much fun." Write write write.

Permalink Eye

"It's not."

Permalink Eye

He nods.

"In my latest letter I'm going to say that I'm going from Germany to, uh. Poland, I guess. So that the postage will not obviously mismatch the forgeries like it might if I tried sending anything from Germany again through channels that actually exist."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "...what's even happening here?" he wonders.

Permalink Eye

"Short version: they lost the Great War, and so everyone agreed that it was definitely all their fault in the first place. Because of this, they had their economy gutted and have steep war reparations to pay for all of the damages. This has overall made the country very miserable."

Permalink Eye

"Oh. Sounds terrible."

Permalink Eye

"Pretty much. The idea was to make it so that it would be impossible for them to ever conduct another war again."

Permalink Eye

"Or conduct anything else at all, it appears."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. I get the impression there was an element of vengeance to it. Someone to blame for all the death and destruction." He shrugs. "Anyway. I could take a week to get all of these airtight, but I think I don't want to keep her waiting any longer. Even if she notices they're forged, she's going to know that no one but me could have forged them, which is the important thing."

He finishes the final letter and seals it. It disappears into his coat, and the rest of the stack goes to James.

"This one I'll send from Poland the normal way, I'm going to pick right back up on sending regular letters from here on out. Please pick up German stamps for all of them, and try to make them look like they've seen some kind of bureaucratic Hell. You saw the letters she got, you're going to be better at forging the outsides than I would be."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "Will do. Good luck with control."

Permalink Eye

"Thanks. Good luck with being heroic for pretty people, it was nice meeting you."

Permalink Eye

"Nice meeting you, too!"

...and he zips away.

The trip back is significantly shorter - he's not tracking anyone, just running. He stops places to make the forgery look more real - stamps and whatnot - but doesn't dawdle. He really wants to get back. Who knows what else Yvette got up to in this month away. She could have decided to come track Blair herself, and that would be a terrible, terrible idea for a human. He puts that thought out of his mind.

And he arrives, a few days later. He has a bundle of letters, an overcast day (thank you, England), and a fist with which to knock -

- wait, first, is Yvette in?

Permalink Eye

Not at the moment, no. Her father is, though.

Permalink Eye

...he'll wait for her. He sits on the roof.

Permalink Eye

 


After a couple of hours, here is Yvette, dressed in a nurse's uniform and looking tired and vaguely unhappy.

Permalink Eye

Oh. Oh good. He -

- should wait a bit. It wouldn't do to look like he's stalking her. He'll wait, hmm, half an hour.

Permalink Eye

He can hear her going about her business inside. She calls a greeting to her father, and gets one back. She fixes a very quick dinner for the both of them. One plate gets delivered to her father's room, the other is eaten alone at a table by the window.

Half an hour elapses.

Permalink Eye

 

 

She's so sad.

He knocks.

Permalink Eye

She huffs a sigh and drags herself out of her chair and to the door, and—

There she is, blinking at him politely.

Permalink Eye

"- hi. Yvette, right? I, uh." Why is he blanking? Get a hold of yourself man. "Blair's letters," he says instead, handing them to her.

Permalink Eye

Yvette takes them automatically, at first not registering that sentence.

Then:

"Wait, what? He's, but—" she fumbles with the letters, flipping through them to look at the addresses and senders. "—but, what, you, how?"

Permalink Eye

He shrugs, recovering some of his composure. "Germany's a mess, apparently? Because of the war sanctions, they and bureaucracy there is in shambles. These got all held forever."

Permalink Eye

"So he's fine," she says, staring at him. "He's fine and it was just a, a stupid mixup after all."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. He's alive and writing letters."

Permalink Eye

"How did you find them?"

She hugs the stack of letters close to her heart, like she's afraid that if they aren't kept so close, they'll disappear into smoke.

Permalink Eye

"I have a knack for these things, and I know people in lots of places."

Permalink Eye

"You—" she pauses, then squints at him. "... I've seen you before. You were, um, at the post office? You overheard me missing some letters a month ago and, and. Just went and found them?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. Yeah, that was me."

She remembers him!!!

Permalink Eye

She doesn't appear to have any idea of what to say to that.

"Well, thank you," she says, after a pause.

Permalink Eye

"You're welcome," he says primly.

Permalink Eye

"Do you want, um, some kind of payment for services rendered, or, or something?"

Permalink Eye

"- no, no, of course not. I - you just seemed very sad."

Permalink Eye

"Oh."

Yep, clearly no idea what to do at all.

Then she seems to come to some kind of decision, and her jaw sets and she carefully puts her stack of very precious letters down on a nearby table. This task completed, she slides across the threshold to stand on her toes and gently press a small kiss to his cheek.

"Thank you," she repeats.

Permalink Eye

He touches his cheek, lightly - it's warmer now that she kissed it, if only temporarily - and says, "Anytime." Then he notices this is weird. "I suppose I should go now."

Permalink Eye

Her kiss bestowed, she retreats back to the other side of the threshold, smiling awkwardly.

"Um," she says. "If I were a better host I'd invite you inside for tea, or, or something, but, um." She looks at her stack of precious letters, then back to James. "Forgive me for being terribly rude?"

Permalink Eye

"There's nothing to forgive. I will leave you to your letters. I hope your brother is well." He nods respectfully and moves to leave.

Permalink Eye

"Thank you," she repeats, for the third time, then: "Oh, wait, um—what's your name?"

Permalink Eye

"James," he replies automatically. "James Orland." He dips his head politely again. Back on his game, there he goes.

Permalink Eye

"Bye, um. James."

And then she closes the door and goes to read her letters, hug her father, and tell him the good news.

Permalink Eye

And he...

...hangs around near the roofs for a while. Just to make sure everything's alright and she's actually happy.

Permalink Eye

There's some crying! But it is the good kind of crying, and she doesn't seem unhappy.

... But there's a thoughtful pause, after she reads the letters a second time once her father's gone to bed. She retrieves Blair's previous letters and compares them to the new set, and hums thoughtfully to herself.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, that's not gonna hold forever. Hopefully Blair will be back soon enough? ...hopefully she won't disbelieve that the letters are from Blair?

He sticks around a while longer.

Permalink Eye

The next half hour is devoted to cleaning her desk up and organizing all of the information she has into some kind of tidy filing system. Then, she rereads the letters again.

"What are you up to...?" she muses aloud, sitting at her desk and tapping her fingertips against it thoughtfully.

She goes to retrieve a pen and something to write on—

—then stops, and very deliberately puts both right back where she got them from.

Permalink Eye

Did she... decide to not write him that letter?

But she probably believes it's his. That... sounded right. Okay. So she won't be unhappy. Probably.

Good.

...and he has a package to collect.

.......he'll stick around for another minute or two.

Permalink Eye

Yvette retrieves a book from a shelf, and makes it through a couple of chapters before she goes to bed.

Permalink Eye

Yeah okay.

He goes to the post office - ah, drat, it's closed now, he'll have to wait until the morning. So he goes back to his place - oh, it's kinda dusty, isn't it, he hasn't been around in a while. He cleans everything and reorganizes everything and then stops and -

- doesn't really know what to do now. He's kinda hungry, maybe he should - well, he should not get some random human, Blair advised him against that, but he's sure he can find a terrible person. Maybe in prison? Prison should have terrible people, right?

Permalink Eye

It probably does, though the one near Lancaster seems to be based around more minor criminals instead of the more irredeemable people Blair tended to eat. They all have sentences of a couple years. It's also significantly more monitored than James might be accustomed to.

Permalink Eye

Maybe he can find terrible people... being terrible? Maybe in Manchester. He has all night.

Permalink Eye

He does!

Here is a man who is beating and then forcing marital relations upon his wife, does he seem edible?

Permalink Eye

Ooh, very edible!

...but maybe not while his wife is looking, James doesn't want to blow his cover. When he's asleep.

Permalink Eye

They're asleep in the same bed, but it's not all that difficult to slip into their bedroom and steal away the abusive husband without anyone noticing or getting awoken by his screaming. He didn't need that windpipe, anyway, not for his new purpose as 'dinner.'

Permalink Eye

He very much didn't! But James doesn't want to make a mess, so he's very careful not to break skin until the man is safely unobserved.

Permalink Eye

The man is easily killed, his blood easily consumed, and the body easily disposed of.

Permalink Eye

And thus sated, James returns to Lancaster at a more leisurely pace, enjoying the sunrise when it appears.

Eventually he fetches his package from the post office and starts organizing his place with its content; he's going to be a dentist. It doesn't take too long to rearrange furniture and separate out an area to be a waiting room and somewhere else to be the actual practice room. And then he has to post an ad somewhere for it, so that people will know to come to him. That... would be in the post office again, he guesses?

Permalink Eye

The post office cannot personally help him in his quest for better teeth for England, but they can point him in the right direction, where some people would be delighted to help him begin practicing dentistry!

Does he have an ID and his certification for his new profession?

Permalink Eye

Of course he does.

(It's forged, but, you know, he did study a lot and watch a few classes and has perfect memory and motor control.)

Permalink Eye

Excellent! Everything looks to be in order, then.

Then if he could just pay this very reasonable (expensive) fee, and then this other (more modest) fee for his name to appear in this book and then this other (expensive) fee for him to get an ad in this paper, that'd be great.

Permalink Eye

Ughhhh.

Fine. Not all of this money was obtained legally but he's getting there! He's going to be an upstanding citizen eventually, promise!

Permalink Eye

Luckily, they have no idea that he got this money off of the corpses of his victims.

He's now free to practice dentistry, and might at some point even get a customer!

Permalink Eye

Hooray!

...time to check on Yvette! How's she doing?

Permalink Eye

Not at home! He can probably follow her scent trail if he'd like to, though.

Permalink Eye

And guess she works at a hospital or something, given nurse outfit.

Permalink Eye

Yep! There she is, he can hear her voice from outside. She sounds busy.

Permalink Eye

...yeah, he won't interrupt her. He'll wait until the end of her shift. His practice won't open until tomorrow anyway.

Permalink Eye

Then he can listen to her while she works!

She's apparently a bit new to this, occasionally asking more senior nurses questions about procedures, but she does not seem incompetent. Quite the opposite. She has a good work ethic and is of the mind that if something needs to be done, she'll either do it herself or help streamline a more qualified person to do it instead. Several people comment that she seems cheerful today.

Eventually, her shift ends.

Permalink Eye

...he did this. He was the one who made her seem cheerful today. That... makes him much happier than he'd expected.

He happens to casually run into her from a perpendicular street while she's on her way home.

Permalink Eye

"Oh, um. Mr. Orland," she says, caught off guard by this definitely random happenstance. "Ah, hello."

She fidgets with her purse, looking somewhere between 'shy' and 'painfully curious.'

Permalink Eye

"Oh, hello, Ms. Lowell. How are you doing today?"

Permalink Eye

"Good. Really, really good. And you?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm doing great! I just got approved to open my dentistry office nearby. Did the letters assuage your worries?"

Permalink Eye

"Congratulations," she says, smiling a... slightly confused little smile, before moving on. "They did, thank you again for finding them, my family was very worried about him. What with him being overseas, with no expedient way to reach him, and... yes, thank you."

Permalink Eye

"I think you've thanked me enough," he laughs. "And is he well? What is he doing so far?"

Permalink Eye

"He's well. Ah, to quote him, 'learning every language known to man, making more friends than he can remember'? He's wanted to see the world since he was ten. Probably earlier, actually."

Permalink Eye

"How does he even feed himself?"

Permalink Eye

"I have," she says very seriously, "no idea. He's good at, at finding people that need some kind of help? And then helping them, and then he has a place to sleep and several meals a day, and a week later everyone loves him and he's sending money back home. I'm pretty sure it's just magic."

Permalink Eye

He laughs, thinking that if that wasn't true before it's definitely true now. "That sounds like my kind of magic. I would appreciate having something like that, myself."

Permalink Eye

"Me, too. But if I got to pick magic powers, I'm not sure it'd be that one."

Permalink Eye

"What would it be? - I'm terribly sorry, I should not be keeping you."

Permalink Eye

"That would depend on the nature of the magical powers on offer." She then remembers that they're standing in the middle of the street, and looks mildly embarrassed. "Oh, ah. It's no trouble, really."

Permalink Eye

"What do you say of having coffee with me, sometime? Then you can tell me all about the magical powers you would pick."

Permalink Eye

She blinks several times.

"... Yes, all right. Sometime, I don't think I can today, but. Yes." She gives him a little adorable smile.

Permalink Eye

Not that she's ever anything other than the most adorable creature in existence, but the smile is appreciated. He smiles at her right back, maybe a bit more widely than would be decorous but perhaps he's just a very happy person. "Splendid! How is your schedule constrained?"

(And the way he pronounces 'schedule' definitely gives away a non-English accent.)

Permalink Eye

"I'm free on Sundays," she offers, still with her little smile.

Permalink Eye

"Does four sound good to you?"

Permalink Eye

"Sure," she agrees.

Permalink Eye

"Perfect. I'll meet you at your place, unless you prefer I not...?"

Permalink Eye

"That would be fine."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. I will see you Sunday, then," he says, bowing his head slightly.

Permalink Eye

"See you Sunday!" She pauses, then waves awkwardly in the direction she'd been walking before. "I'm terribly sorry, I should really, um. It was lovely talking to you?"

Permalink Eye

"There's nothing to be sorry for. It was a delight running into you today." He is pretty much the most sincere anyone can be about this.

Permalink Eye

"Yes, it was," she agrees to her shoes, then she gives a little wave and politely flees before she can make more of a fool of herself than she already has.

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

Eeeeee.

He opens his practice the next day but expects no one to show up this early. And he can barely wait until Sunday.

Permalink Eye

One person wanders in out of curiosity, but that's about all that happens during work hours.

Permalink Eye

Aaaaaa when is Sunday going to happen though.

Permalink Eye

It's still several days away.

He gets two more people who are curious but need no dental work, one drunk, and one very lost person who is looking for a tailor.

Permalink Eye

He is perfectly charming to all of them - the person looking for a tailor looks cute and he considers hitting on them but for some reason the prospect seems very unappealing - and on the night between Saturday and Sunday he's gonna eat some horrible person or other in Manchester.

Permalink Eye

Manchester has a number of those!

Would he like to eat this woman who is selling her son to 'clients'?

Permalink Eye

Uhhh he's not sure where to put the kid after that... maybe he'll drop him in some orphanage? But how without waking him up...

Some other horrible person?

Permalink Eye

This mugger that's in the middle of mugging a guy?

Permalink Eye

...sure, that probably counts as a horrible person. He waits until the mugging is done.

Permalink Eye

The mugging is concluded without incident, and the mugger is delicious.

Hey, look, free money!

Permalink Eye

Ooh! Cool, money's always nice.

And then it's Sunday!

Permalink Eye

Fortunately England did not choose this day to suddenly become sunny, so there is nothing at all in the way of meeting the objectively hottest person in the world.

Here she is! At her door, in heels, a lovely dress, and makeup, her red hair pulled back into a lovely complicated updo.

"Hi," she says, upon opening the door.

Permalink Eye

 

 

"Wow," he breathes.

Permalink Eye

"So what I'm hearing is that this dress does not make me look fat," she says, with a bit of a smirk.

Permalink Eye

"You look stunning," he says, slipping the smile on again.

Permalink Eye

"Well thank you." She steps outside and locks the door behind her. "I was promised coffee?"

Permalink Eye

"You were indeed! And I know just the place..." He offers her an arm.

Permalink Eye

She gives him an amused look, then takes the offered arm.

"So have you been in England long?"

Permalink Eye

"Only for about six months," he replies, leading the way. "And I have been here for barely two. You're from here, though, right?"

Permalink Eye

"Did the accent give me away?"

Permalink Eye

"Did mine?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes."

Permalink Eye

"Perhaps I should try harder," he says, perfectly mimicking a very posh accent.

Permalink Eye

She makes a face. "Too posh, doesn't suit you."

Permalink Eye

"Wha' if I try this?" he asks, switching to cockney. "Surely be'er."

Permalink Eye

"No," she snorts.

Permalink Eye

"Irish! My complexion's Irish, is it not? Or Scottish - specifically Edinburgh, I think I would make a fine Scotsman. Oh, wait, was that culturally insensitive?" That last question he asks in his normal accent, but he's still smiling.

Permalink Eye

She snickers. "You'd have to ask a Scot, I think."

Permalink Eye

"I thought there was some form of rivalry between y'all and them Scots in the north," he says, shifting to a southern American accent.

Permalink Eye

"Sort of," she clarifies, mildly amused by the latest accent. "But not quite. What is that accent?"

Permalink Eye

"Southern American," he says, reverting to his default.

Permalink Eye

"Huh. Interesting. So most of Ireland left the United Kingdom a little under a decade ago. Scotland occasionally threatens to do the same thing. England would like everyone to stay together, but everyone that is not English sort of resents us for being the ones everyone thinks of when one thinks of the United Kingdom. So there is something resembling a rivalry between England and Scotland, but it's more that Scotland would really rather people stop forgetting about them, and wish that England would please stop acting like we're England and our charming island sidekicks. There, I think that was suitably biased in favor of diplomacy, aren't you proud?"

Permalink Eye

He claps lightly, without moving the arm she's holding. "Very proud, well done, I feel enlightened."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you. So what brings you to England? Our charming weather?"

Permalink Eye

"I approximately just stopped here," he says, shrugging slightly. "I confess I understand the appeal of your brother's travels; I spent quite a while visiting many different places before arriving here."

Permalink Eye

"Huh. I would have expected dentistry to not really lend itself well to travel. How do you feed yourself?"

Permalink Eye

"I didn't practice while I was traveling," he explains, "and I accumulated money from before." Both things strictly true, even!

Permalink Eye

"Oh? How long were you practicing before? Actually, how old are you, you look like you're in your twenties, but I get the impression it takes an amount of time to get training and some kind of certification for practicing dentistry, and then that plus travelling..."

Permalink Eye

"I only practiced for a few years - I'm twenty-eight, spent two years traveling, and I practiced between I finished training and that. I have a very good memory, though."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, all right." She does a bit of mental math and... yeah, that checks out. "I'm twenty-one," she adds, because that seems like a fair thing to inform him of.

Permalink Eye

He grins and - here they are, a quaint little cafe, probably more expensive than average, its decoration not overtly couply but there are certainly hints.

Permalink Eye

Aw! It's cute. She smiles at it.

"I was not expecting you to go to these sorts of lengths for coffee," she admits, a little amused.

Permalink Eye

"I like to be thorough. Two, please," he tells the person who came to greet them, and they're led to a table inside.

Permalink Eye

"If you'd been this serious you could have invited me to dinner instead! I would have worn a nicer dress."

Permalink Eye

"I like to keep some mystery and expectation. Then maybe I'll tempt you to a second date."

Permalink Eye

"Ah, I see. Very clever."

Permalink Eye

"I try," he says wryly. They get menus, but James refuses his. "I know what I'm ordering, thank you."

Permalink Eye

Yvette has no such issues with the menu, she'll definitely take hers, thanks. "Oh? Been here before?"

Permalink Eye

"Well I did know to take you here. Yes, but only once."

Permalink Eye

"Aha. So was this very pre-planned, or just the first place you thought of?"

Permalink Eye

"Neither? It was the first place I thought of after I thought of asking you out for coffee."

Permalink Eye

Smile. "Okay. Well, it's cute."

Permalink Eye

"I'm glad you like it," he says, smiling, too. "So, I think you owed me an explanation of what sorts of magical powers you would get, if you could get any."

Permalink Eye

Snort. "It depends on the nature of the magical powers on offer! If I could just get any I'd just be terribly boring and get omnipotence, and then where would we be?"

Permalink Eye

He laughs. "Okay, okay, let's see... Personal powers, you can have things like telepathy, sight-range telekinesis, empathy control, the ability to find anyone if someone else describes them to you, the ability to find anyone you've met, electricity-charged skin, does this aesthetic seem to form a coherent whole?"

Permalink Eye

"Not... really, no. There were even two finding people powers, that just seems excessive, does everyone get a unique power or are we just occasionally changing minor things about a powerset and calling it different?"

Permalink Eye

"There are no exact copies, but there can be nearly identical one, like being able to hear versus see thoughts, or tracking by knowing someone's face versus having talked to them for five minutes."

Permalink Eye

She tilts her head. "That is extremely specific, and makes it hard to really say what sort of power I'd get without knowing what else is there in this hypothetical place where magic powers are handed out. Uh. Telepathy's a terrible power and I don't want it anywhere near me. Electricity charged skin is so... not useful at all to anything I'd want to do. Finding people is silly, I have a brother that is useful for such things and it would be a bit of a waste to use my singular magic power on a slightly better version of a thing I already possess by proxy."

Permalink Eye

He grins. She doesn't know how right she is. Yet. "Let me see, more examples... there's someone who's able to read your entire life history at a touch, there's someone who can perceive and identify relationships between any two people, there's someone who has control over the four elements..."

Permalink Eye

"Eugh, there's what? I mean the elements thing is cool and depending on how it worked I'd maybe want to steal that, but ew, memory reading and relationship reading, no."

Permalink Eye

"I suppose those powers are somewhat absolutely terrifying," he says mildly.

Permalink Eye

"Little bit. Where are you getting them from, they're very specific, are you inspired by a book or something?"

Permalink Eye

"Or something," he nods. "Not a published book, but a story I caught a long time ago. I don't know all the details but I do remember most of the types of magical powers in it."

Permalink Eye

"Well. All right." She props her head on a hand and hums, thoughtfully. "So there's mind control and people-finding and electricity generation and elemental control and telekinesis. This is all sounding pretty random, is there some kind of distribution pattern for the powers? I would like to avoid being a repeat of any kind, I'm vain enough to want to be a unique and precious resource."

Permalink Eye

"The vast majority of people don't have any magic. Among those who do, the powers you'd intuitively think of as 'more powerful' are rarer; so mind-reading and emotional manipulation and elemental control are on the rarer end, while enhanced senses or the electricity are more common. But like I said, all powers are exactly individual. - also, do you want to order? Conversation tends to be better while in expectation of tasty things."

Permalink Eye

"Oh. Right. I should feed myself, that would be a good thing to do. I'm going to put hypothetical magic talk on hold while I do that." She peers at the menu and picks a sandwich that doesn't seem objectionable and would go well with coffee, and also coffee.

Permalink Eye

He gets some black coffee and that's all.

Permalink Eye

Once the order's been placed:

"Okay, so I think I have trouble coming up with a balanced sort of power within the constraints of a system I don't really understand. And the knowledge that most powers aren't very powerful sort of... it seems like it'd ruin the fun to go, 'Ah, yes, I want telekinesis that lets me move objects that weigh less than a pound,' you know? If we're having silly speculation about what sorts of magic powers I'd want, it seems a shame to just. Go with something modest."

Permalink Eye

"Hmmm... Okay, suppose it goes with personality. Your brother would probably in fact get magic like what you described, someone with a fear of abandonment might get the power to manipulate how people feel about her and each other..."

Permalink Eye

"Ability to organize everything within a certain radius of me," she says, immediately. "Just snap my fingers and bam, order from chaos."

Permalink Eye

He laughs. "Dislike messes, do you?"

Permalink Eye

"Mm, not precisely. I don't usually mind if they're not my messes? But I can't... think in messes. A lot of how I think through something involves making something organized. I figure out the structure of a system and all of its parts, and what everything does and how everything works together, and then I arrange it in a way that makes sense, and then whoops I've organized am entire supply closet, how did that happen."

Permalink Eye

"That seems handy as a hobby," he says. "I manage my messes by not having enough possessions to be able to make messes."

Permalink Eye

Giggle. "Not even dishes, slowly piling up? Or laundry? My organization powers do not actually extend to protecting me from the horrors of laundry, I had to write out a schedule for myself to have any hope of staying on top of it."

Permalink Eye

"Not dishes, but laundry I have to admit is a bit more of a problem."

Permalink Eye

"The horrors of laundry haunt us all," she agrees, gravely.

Permalink Eye

He laughs. "What other horrors haunt the daily life of Yvette Lowell? What other wonders does her life contain?"

Permalink Eye

"I currently work as a nurse at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. No comment on which one that falls under."

Permalink Eye

He grins and leans forward, resting his chin on his hand. "Do you like it?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. Sort of. It's kind of grueling, and there's a lot of, of emotional labor? Lots of people that expect me to care about them, because that's basically my job. I'm not sure it's something I want to do forever. But I like to keep busy, and it keeps me very busy, and it's very... I see the results of my work and my effect on the world first hand. And it's nice, to help people."

Permalink Eye

He nods, clearly enamored with the explanation.

And then their food arrives.

Permalink Eye

Well, her food arrives. James only ordered a coffee. Yvette nibbles at her sandwich.

"What about you? Do you find your chosen profession very fulfilling?"

Permalink Eye

"Hmmm..." He sips from his coffee and scratches his cheek. "I like the technical aspect, the necessary precision and skill. I like the results - people underestimate how important teeth are, how they affect the general shape of the face as well as things like even sleep quality. There isn't much research on it yet and new techniques are being invented all the time, but it's interesting anyway."

Permalink Eye

"Huh. You know, for some reason I had trouble picturing you as a dentist."

Permalink Eye

"I have been told that before."

Permalink Eye

Yvette snorts, and has a bite of sandwich instead of commenting.

"So where were the letters when you found them?" wonders Yvette, looking thoughtful.

Permalink Eye

"I didn't find them, I talked to a friend who talked to a friend who works in the German Post Office and he talked to a friend who managed to find them somewhere."

Permalink Eye

"And the... friend of a friend of a friend sent them to you, instead of in a bundle to England to sort out?" she asks, tilting her head.

Permalink Eye

"No, he gave it to his friend who et cetera until reaching me, but I'm not sure why. I expect the first two links of this chain were because Germany is currently on fire."

Permalink Eye

She doesn't... quite accept this, and it's clearly visible on her face, but she nods.

"Okay. Thank you."

Permalink Eye

Blair will presumably someday tell her about it. And, uh, turn her, otherwise she'll get killed.

"Something wrong?" he asks, sounding clueless.

Permalink Eye

She looks at him. Her expression is a complicated mixture of frustration and disappointment and unease.

Then she looks away and sips her coffee.

"No," she lies.

Permalink Eye

...aaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Okay, change of tacks. "- no, I'm sorry, I lied to you, there were no friends involved, but I can't tell you how I got those letters."

Permalink Eye

Her eyes flick back to meet his.

"Better. Asking me out the day after was... coincidence, or not?"

Permalink Eye

"I hadn't planned to ask you out the next day!"

Permalink Eye

She raises her eyebrows.

If she's not terribly mistaken, she believes that he did not actually answer her question.

She waits.

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

"I... did want to ask you out, on the day I met you. And you were horribly sad, and I couldn't ask you out before I - fixed that."

Permalink Eye

Whatever answer she was expecting, it wasn't that. She blinks.

"... Okay," she says, as more of a confirmation that she received this information than that she's deemed it okay. "So was your plan to make me grateful to you so I'd say yes, or..?"

Permalink Eye

"No! Of course not, that would be -" He can't really find an adjective for what that would be, so he just repeats, "No, I just wanted you to not be so sad."

Permalink Eye

 


"... Okay," she repeats, after a long pause. "So why didn't you drop them off at my house and ring the doorbell and run, so I'd never know it was you at all? Why not hand them to the Royal Mail and have them come to me through normal channels? You personally handed them to me. Why."

Permalink Eye

"Because I -" He pauses. Why didn't he? That would have been smart, wouldn't it. Then he could run into her later and casually ask her out. She would've been happy and that would've been enough. She's just a very hot person.

Isn't she?

...isn't she?

Permalink Eye

"Right then," she says, and fishes for her purse. She quickly counts out enough pounds to pay for her share of the bill, and then she is out of her chair and walking off.

Permalink Eye

"Wait, wait, please, I -" He grabs her money and leaves a bill that covers much more than what they spent. Even if she leaves (she can't no that would be horrible she can't leave ever no) it wouldn't be fair for her to pay. He stands up and chases after her.

Permalink Eye

She keeps walking, heels clicking on the pavement. She is not looking at him.

"I'm not interested in being manipulated or lied to. If that's the kind of relationship you want to have, have it with some other girl."

Permalink Eye

"I didn't - I just wanted to see you, that's why I gave you the letters, and I wanted to see you happy like that because I - I - I need to tell you something. And it's gonna be quite unbelievable but give me five minutes to prove it to you?"

Permalink Eye

"Sure. You have until I'm done walking home or decide to call the police for harassment, talk quickly."

Permalink Eye

He looks around - is there anyone looking, how many people are around?

Permalink Eye

There are a number, and several of them are definitely looking right at them. What with the scene they just made, and what with a pretty girl stalking off while being followed by someone who looks upset and desperate.

Permalink Eye

Ughhh. "You won't believe me if I tell you but I can't show you here."

Permalink Eye

"And where can you show me? Why can't you show me here? Why won't I believe you?" Stalk stalk stalk she can walk very quickly for a human in heels.

Permalink Eye

"- pebble. Find a pebble. A really solid one. Please? Give me the benefit of the doubt, please."

Permalink Eye

She huffs, then decides that this is probably the most expedient way to get rid of him, so she makes a very brief (and speedy) detour where she scoops a bit of broken pavement off of the side of the road. She tosses it to him. Or, well, throws it at him, but it's not aimed at his head.

Permalink Eye

He grabs it with extremely good reflexes. "Look at it?" He puts it on the palm of his hand.

Permalink Eye

"Fine," she says, and she does.

Permalink Eye

He looks around to make sure they've walked far enough away from everyone else that he can just show this to her without other people being able to see it and, upon conforming this, uses the pinky finger in his other hand to crush it into fine dust. He shows her the result.

Permalink Eye

She blinks. Suddenly, she regrets not testing the solidity of the broken bit of pavement.

"... Okay, extra explanation time earned." Obligingly, she stops walking, though she does cross her arms.

Permalink Eye

He quickly catches up to her but stays a respectful distance away. "I'm a vampire. I have super senses and super strength, I'm immortal, I'm - in eternal unbreakable magic love with you from the moment I put my eyes on you because the magic decided that you and I would be romantically compatible." That last part is said very quickly and with his eyes closed.

Permalink Eye

 

 

"What?"

Permalink Eye

"I can prove any part of this to you except for the magic love. Blair is a vampire, too, he got turned and forgot that he was meant to send you letters - not you, he remembers you, but he forgot about the letters, and I tracked him and found him and reminded him and he wrote all of those letters again so that I could send them to you."

Permalink Eye

She stares at him like he's gone insane.

Permalink Eye

"I can prove any of this to you," he repeats. "Just not in public, not if I want to stay alive - and to keep you alive."

Permalink Eye

 


"... You've put me in a really awkward position. Because if I believe you, and trust you, and turn out to be wrong, I am alone with a crazy person. If I don't believe you, and don't trust you, and turn out to be wrong, I just casually ripped your heart out and stomped it to pieces. Why didn't you open with this explanation instead of playing this stupid game and abusing the trust you'd already had?"

Permalink Eye

"Because I didn't notice I was in magical love with you," he - whines. It sounds weird in his voice. "I noticed just now, I just thought - that you were very attractive. I can give you more evidence here, more pebbles?"

Permalink Eye

"You—okay. More pebbles, sure, and I can walk to a relatively secluded place near an officer and if you turn out to be crazy I can scream."

This plan decided, she goes about enacting it. She collects more pebbles, and stalks off to find a police officer that she can be in a secluded spot within screaming distance of.

Permalink Eye

He follows her, keeping the distance. "I have extra-good reflexes, too," he says in a muted voice. "You can throw the pebbles at me and I will catch all of them."

Permalink Eye

"Do not want to attract too much attention," she informs him, in an undertone. "We are already interesting to look at, I'm collecting pebbles and we made a scene in front of a bunch of very mortified Englishmen."

Permalink Eye

He nods and doesn't say anything more.

Permalink Eye

She collects pebbles, too annoyed to be embarrassed about the weird looks she's getting, and then she locates a police officer and stalks into a relatively secluded place nearby, between a couple of buildings.

"Here," she says, holding out a handful of pebbles and bits of pavement and rocks of all kinds.

Permalink Eye

He accepts all of them and casually crushes them into fine powder in his hand. She might notice the coldness of his touch when his fingers brush her hand.

Permalink Eye

She'd noticed earlier when she'd kissed his cheek, but hadn't started connecting the dots until now.

"... Okay," she says, looking at the dust. "Other proof?"

Permalink Eye

He looks around - secluded - and jumps much higher than a regular human ought to be able to. Then he drops to one knee and presses one finger into the pavement, making a hole there. And then he runs one meter to the left faster than her eyes can follow.

Permalink Eye

Her breath catches and her heart rate speeds up and she stares.

She swallows.

"All right. I'll tentatively believe that you're telling the truth about the vampire thing. You did not mention the super speed."

Permalink Eye

"I did not make an exhaustive list, I just needed to convince you. I'm sorry."

Permalink Eye

"Apology accepted." She closes her eyes and takes several deep breaths. "Why is my brother not here if you talked to him, why did he not tell you not to lie to me? Why would he forget about sending letters at all? That doesn't seem like the sort of thing he'd ever forget."

Permalink Eye

"He doesn't have enough control to be around humans, not reliably, and not kill them. He does not want to kill you. And when we turn - the new senses are overwhelming, overwhelming enough to make us forget anything that's not very, very important from before. He remembered you, but not the letters."

Permalink Eye

"Great. Okay. How serious is your, your eternal unbreakable magic love with me, and if I ask you to leave, will you?"

Permalink Eye

"I will do whatever you ask me to."

Permalink Eye

She looks at him with alarm and concern.

"... Okay," she says, very faintly. "Okay. So I'm in a 'I am holding your heart and soul in my hands' kind of situation. Is what I'm hearing."

Permalink Eye

"If - if you ever turn into a vampire you will automatically have the same thing about me, as soon as you see me. But I would never do that without your consent!" he hastens to add.

Permalink Eye

She opens her mouth, then closes it.

"... Thank you for not doing that, yep."

Permalink Eye

"I had not - noticed before. I wouldn't have. But I also won't. It - it should be your choice."

Permalink Eye

"Yes it should, I am very glad we're in agreement on that front," she agrees, a bit quickly. "Um. What was your, your plan? From before you realized I was the target of your magic love thing."

Permalink Eye

"I wanted to meet you, to seduce you, to kiss you and have sex with you and then I would have had sex with the hottest woman on Earth and I would be able to stop thinking about you all the time."

Permalink Eye

 


"... I, am. Flattered and. A bit concerned." She considers. "More than a bit concerned. Okay. So. What is your plan now that you know that I am the target of your magic love thing?"

Permalink Eye

He shrugs slightly. "Do whatever you want me to do. Give you whatever information you want to have."

Permalink Eye

"O-okay," she says, very faintly. "Okay. I would like for us to find a secluded place to sit down because this seems like a sitting down conversation."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "Wherever you want."

Permalink Eye

"It, should, not be my house, because I usually call a greeting to my father, and don't think I could fake being calm right now. I don't have a secluded sitting down place in mind right now, I don't really look for them, do you have an idea of one?"

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

"My place?" he asks, in a small voice.

Permalink Eye

"Sure, that, let's go there."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "I'll lead you there, then." He starts walking.

Permalink Eye

She follows after him, schooling her features to neutrality instead of an expression more suited to someone in the middle of freaking out about things that are definitely very worthy of a freakout.

Permalink Eye

It's close, if not as close as her place. It takes a bit less than ten minutes, and it's a rather nice house for a single guy living on his own.

Permalink Eye

And does he have a place upon which to sit in this house?

Permalink Eye

He does, in fact, because his house is also his office. There's a waiting room, tastefully decorated and with a few nice sofas.

Permalink Eye

Excellent. Yvette finds a nice sofa and sits on it.

"So, what's enforcing the secrecy things, how closely is it watching and how strictly is it enforced?"

Permalink Eye

"A secret governmental body in Italy. They have various witch powers - magical powers like the ones I mentioned earlier today - which they employ for enforcement, I don't know all of the powers they have. It's enforced with death at first infraction, and if the infraction was caused by an uncontrolled newborn then their sire is also killed."

Permalink Eye

 


"Did you happen to use real life examples of magical powers during the, the silly power hypothetical. Are memory reading and mind reading actual things in the world. Is, perhaps, this statute enforced with literal mind reading powers."

Permalink Eye

"Yes."

Permalink Eye

"Oh. And. And how strict are the laws, is it 'don't let it get out to the newspapers' or is it 'tell any human ever and you die'?"

Permalink Eye

"It's the latter, unless you have immediate plans to turn this human and can guarantee they themself have never told anyone else who isn't going to be turned."

Permalink Eye

"Okay," she squeaks. "Okay, that. Why don't you just. Go over all of the perks and negatives of being a vampire right now, so I can maybe come to a decision as quickly as possible, so the vampires in Italy do not have me for dinner."

Permalink Eye

"The first perk is immortality: you will not age, you are immune to diseases, the only way to kill you is to set you on fire and for you to be incapacitated enough to not be able to put out the fire just by rolling very fast. The usual way is decapitation followed by dismemberment and then setting on fire. If you're dismembered but your lost body part is retrievable you can reattach it."

Permalink Eye

"Useful. Okay."

Permalink Eye

"Perfect photographic memory from the moment you turn. Vastly improved senses: your peripheral vision is as good as your main vision, which is good enough to see microscopic details and ultraviolet; hearing is vastly enhanced and includes pitches both too high and too low for humans to hear; improved senses of smell and touch. Taste... is complicated, I will talk about this later. Speed, some vampires can break the sound barrier. Strength, I can probably stop an oncoming train. Durability, we are about as durable as diamond, perhaps more. If you have a witch power or a latent witch power as human it becomes more powerful when you're turned."

Permalink Eye

"I will probably want an explanation of 'witch powers' later that is nonhypothetical, but it can wait until after the vampire explanation has concluded."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "I think that's all for perks. There are some ambiguous things - my eyes are red when I'm fed, black when I'm hungry, and golden when I'm fed on animal blood. Sunlight makes me glitter like gemstones. The mate bond."

Permalink Eye

 


"... Wait, hold on, what was that one about the eyes? Red when you're fed on... what, exactly?"

Permalink Eye

"Human blood," he says, tilting his head.

Permalink Eye

"James. James do you leave the humans alive after you've had their blood."

Permalink Eye

"...no, but, but I've only been eating terrible people! Blair told me to."

Permalink Eye

Her hands go to her mouth and she stares at him.

"... that... is better than the alternative. Were you not. Not picky before?"

Permalink Eye

"I wasn't - but I am now."

...and he's gonna be picky forever if that's the sort of reaction she's gonna have, he doesn't want to ever see her feeling like that again.

Permalink Eye

"Oh. Do you. Do you need to eat people, you said there were gold eyes from animal blood, why. Would you not have that. Instead of people."

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

He frowns. "It is very, very hard to control myself while feeding. It is not just senses, but also instincts that are enhanced, and there is an extremely strong instinct towards eating humans. I don't remember what human food used to taste like, but human blood tastes better than sex feels, and animal blood tastes worse than feces, to create an analogy. Your brother also eats people, and he does not trust himself to be around you without being tempted into eating you, if that gives you a better idea?"

Permalink Eye

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

"I'll stop. Eating people. I will only eat animals, I, it's not that tempting anyway -"

Permalink Eye

She does not actually have any ability to reply right now, and instead buries her face in her hands and whines.

Permalink Eye

He aborts a comforting gesture and put his hands between his knees. There's a rock-scraping sound coming from there.

Permalink Eye

 


"Okay so how. Likely. Is it. That if I become a vampire I will eat a person."

Permalink Eye

"I have never heard of a vampire who didn't... but I have also never heard of a vampire who knew about it beforehand. And I could keep animals around you instead of people. I have not felt any ill effects from eating animals, it is probably safe."

Permalink Eye

"You've eaten animals before? From the, the description of the taste I got the impression that you mostly didn't."

Permalink Eye

"I have. Most vampires don't even try, they don't smell like food, but I've been to Antarctica and there are no humans there."

Permalink Eye

"Oh," she says. She looks a little like she'd like to hide under a blanket and never come out again. "Okay. Um. Go. Go on with the vampire explanation then, please?"

Permalink Eye

"Now there are the drawbacks. The near-irresistibility of human blood - the smell is also very good, and even just hearing or seeing a heartbeat is very tempting - all of that is coupled with a feeling of thirst that never goes away, only gets weaker or stronger, and is strong enough to count as torture to humans. The process of turning takes three days of increasing agony, and it is not uncommon for newborns to beg for death during it. For the first year after turning you are stronger and faster than a mature vampire, but it is also much more difficult to control - your brother was actually very, very good at control for a newborn. And vampires are sterile.

"I think that is all."

Permalink Eye

"Ah. Thank you," she says, a little faintly.

Permalink Eye

He rubs his hands together between their knees again and the scraping sound can be heard again.

Permalink Eye

"Um—what's...? Is that you?"

Permalink Eye

He nods then shows his hands rubbing together and making that sound.

Permalink Eye

She looks at him, clearly confused.

"Why...?"

Permalink Eye

"Because I want you to become a vampire for entirely selfish reasons but I don't want to force you or try to coerce you but now the idea of letting you grow old and die or worse is unbearable. So I'm fidgeting."

Permalink Eye

"Oh. That... makes sense. Uh. Is there a way I could help with that? In a way that isn't 'turn me now,' I mean, I don't. I would like some time to. Digest all of that."

Permalink Eye

He shakes his head. "Take all the time you need. Do you have any questions I could answer?"

Permalink Eye

"Mostly I don't have the ability to form coherent questions or opinions right now, it's." She winces, and looks away. "It's been a day, for me."

Permalink Eye

"I'm sorry," he tells his shoes. "Do you want me to walk you home so you can have time to think? Would you prefer I just leave you - alone?" He can't help the crack in his voice at the end.

Permalink Eye

"I'm not going to ask you to go away forever barring some really extreme circumstances that I don't expect you could pull off without, I don't know, eating my father or something," she clarifies, immediately.

Permalink Eye

"I would never."

Permalink Eye

"Then there you go, I will not send you away forever."

Permalink Eye

He nods. And resumes looking extremely miserable.

Permalink Eye

 


"I—you're in love with me regardless of anything I do or don't do, right, I will not fan the flames of your magical mind control by being at all affectionate towards you, you're just already at that 'I would die for you' baseline?"

Permalink Eye

"Right."

Permalink Eye

"Would it be a bad idea for any reason to cuddle you?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm cold and my body is unyielding to human-level strength and durability."

Permalink Eye

"But you won't have trouble not eating me. Okay. Do you have a fluffy blanket of some kind that I can wrap myself in so that I may comfortably cuddle you?"

Permalink Eye

"I - yes. Should I get them?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes, please."

Permalink Eye

He disappears and returns less than a second later, holding blankets.

Permalink Eye

She takes them, carefully wraps herself up in blankets, then toes off her heels and says, "Onto a couch, I'm not doing this while standing up."

Permalink Eye

He lies on a couch, his face going from confusion to utter delight over the course of this action.

Permalink Eye

The Yvette-burrito wiggles towards him, and then she majestically flops upon him. The burrito hungers. For snuggles.

Permalink Eye

He carefully, oh-so-very-very-carefully, snuggles up.

Permalink Eye

Snuggle.

"I blame my brother for this mess," she decides, sagely. "I don't believe he didn't notice that you were in magical love with me, and I don't believe he didn't notice that you didn't realize you were in magical love with me. He probably should have told you."

Permalink Eye

"...in hindsight, yes he did notice." Frown. But only very slightly, because he's snuggling Yvette.

Permalink Eye

"Yep, see, I know these things. He probably went, 'Eh, they'll figure it out, Yvette can handle herself.' He wasn't wrong, precisely, but he maybe forgot that things could be figured out better if everyone's properly informed of everything going on."

Permalink Eye

"I'm sorry for lying."

Permalink Eye

She unhappily nestles slightly further into her blanket based cocoon.

"Apology accepted," she murmurs.

Permalink Eye

"I wanted to protect your life. I - still do, but I would not be able to not tell you after noticing the mate bond."

Permalink Eye

"I understand your reasons," she says, softly. "I'm not mad at you about it."

Permalink Eye

"But you're still upset," he says, softly.

Permalink Eye

"... Yeah. It. It hurt." Her voice breaks a little, there. "One minute I was just on a nice date, and the next I realize that my date is probably lying to me, and the next I learn he's a vampire and I might die for knowing and that he's in, in creepy mind control magic love at first sight with me and I have the power to smash his heart into tiny pieces by accident and, and. And I have no one else to cry on besides him about it, even though I realize it probably makes him incredibly guilty, because I can't tell anyone but my brother the circumstances, and my brother can't be here because he might accidentally kill me and. I feel like I have very understandable reasons to be upset, here."

Permalink Eye

He nods. God, she smells so good. Apart from smelling like food.

"If I'd realized earlier I would have told you."

Permalink Eye

"I know. I get the impression that if you'd known from the start you wouldn't have opened with lying?"

Permalink Eye

"I would not."

Permalink Eye

"Right. Because that's just sensible, since you're presumably stuck with me forever. Unless this thing can attach to multiple people at once and you can find magic mind control love again?"

Permalink Eye

"No, and it is not clear that you would find someone else if I died before you mated to me."

Permalink Eye

"What a charming system. Ugh." Grumpy burrito cuddles.

Permalink Eye

"I'm sorry," he repeats. "...we are otherwise genuinely compatible, though. This is not making me into someone I am not, nor would it have made me love you if you were not a person I would not otherwise love."

Permalink Eye

"... I mean, how reliable is that? Do a lot of vampires go through the trouble of romancing their human mates, or do they just go, 'Yep, this will be symmetrical if I turn them and it's illegal to tell them beforehand, so I'm just going to do that,' and then do it?"

Permalink Eye

"...most of them do the latter," he admits. "But people's personalities do not change upon turning - the opposite, really - and mate relationships really do work on a personal level beyond the fact that they love each other forever."

Permalink Eye

"Well, that's better than the alternative, I suppose." Snuggle. "I'd rather there not have been any mind control involved at all, though. I'd rather just. Let you fall in love with me or not based around me. Let it be a thing we build together instead of a thing that trips and falls into my lap with all of these, these things I have to worry about because I don't want to break your heart forever."

Permalink Eye

"You can still do that. We can go on another date, no lying involved, and I can show you who I really am and you can decide for yourself."

Permalink Eye

"I can do that. You can't. And I can't go back to not knowing, and wouldn't want to. I can't treat this as whatever casual thing I might have treated it as before, because you can't and I care about your well being."

Permalink Eye

"Yes, but I am personally not... negatively affected by the mind control part. Knowing how it works, I don't mind that this choice has been taken from me, and you do mind that it would, so you could instead choose to make the choice, and I could still have it have been made."

Permalink Eye

"The thing I wanted has already been stolen," she murmurs. "It's not nothing that I can reject you or not based on your own merits, but it's... I would have also liked to be able to go, 'Ah, yes, he loves me because he chose to and because we're good together and because we treat each other well.' And now I can't do that. It's just mind control. You will love me regardless of if I'm abusive or cruel or tell you to jump into a volcano."

Permalink Eye

"Yes... but you will not do that, because I would not love someone who did that."

Permalink Eye

"That... is an awful lot of trust in the mind control's ability to pick out partners for you, James, are you sure you want to trust it that far?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes," he says, nodding slightly. "Someone else would have noticed it failing before, if it did fail."

Permalink Eye

"And there aren't people that get stuck in ludicrously unhealthy romances for all eternity? Or where their failure mode ends in both parties dying to overenthusiastic retribution from the law? And you're sure of this?"

Permalink Eye

"I am not sure of this. I know only about the cases I heard about. And over the past hundred and fifty years I have heard about many cases."

Permalink Eye

"... Okay." Snuggle. "I hope you'll forgive me if I'd rather try to be the sort of person that you'd at least be proud to be in love with. Not be inclined to regret. Regardless of anything else."

Permalink Eye

He doesn't say "and that's why I love you," but he thinks it. He just snuggles up.

Permalink Eye

Snuggles are nice. She is glad she made this executive decision.

"So you're... a hundred and fifty? Or something?"

Permalink Eye

"I was twenty-six when I was turned one hundred and thirty-nine years ago."

Permalink Eye

She does some quick math in her head.

"So you're a hundred and sixty-five, and you were turned, ah... in 1791? Are you American, were you there for when America ceased to be a set of British colonies?"

Permalink Eye

He nods. "I was."

Permalink Eye

"... Huh. If I were a historian I'd probably have some kind of questions for you, but I am not." Snuggle. "What have you been doing with your hundred and change years of immortal life?"

Permalink Eye

Snuggle snuggle. "Mostly traveling. I visited... pretty much everywhere. I mentioned Antarctica, but I've been to every continent and saw many places - I swam down into a number of sea trenches, you would not believe how deep some of them go - I visited volcanoes, although those I prefer to stay a safer distance from..."

Permalink Eye

She smiles and hums a confirmation, a little bit charmed.

"Good. Do not jump into a volcano, James."

Permalink Eye

"I will do my utmost to avoid that, ma'am."

Permalink Eye

"Good."

... Something occurs to her.

"How often do you, um. Eat?"

Permalink Eye

"...once every two to four weeks."

Permalink Eye

He has been a vampire for one hundred and thirty-nine years.

Eating people once every two to four weeks.

 

"Oh," she says.

Permalink Eye

He doesn't say anything.

Permalink Eye

For a little while, she doesn't, either.

"I don't want to eat people," she murmurs. "Even terrible ones. Because what if I'm wrong? What if even though they're terrible, their loss is a, a net negative for the world? I don't want to play judge and executioner, and I don't want to be forced to do it by my diet, either. I don't... want to be a thing that has to kill people to live."

Permalink Eye

"I - I can live on animals. I will only eat animals from now on, and, and if it works then, then you'll know?"

Permalink Eye

"Okay," she agrees. She sounds upset again. At least she has snuggles. "I'm sorry. I don't want to use the, the mind control to twist your arm to suit my whims."

Permalink Eye

"It's not the mind control. I want you to not be unhappy, and I care about your happiness more than about human blood."

Permalink Eye

"... You described it as 'better than sex.'"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

"I—okay." Snuggle. "Okay, thank you, James."

Permalink Eye

He nods into her hair.

Permalink Eye

"Do you mind if I think out loud in regards to turning at you? I don't want to scare you or make you think about unpleasant things, but it... helps to think out loud at someone, and I. Don't really have anyone else."

Permalink Eye

"I don't mind," he says gently.

Permalink Eye

"Okay." Snuggle. "So the part that makes me most unwilling to turn is killing people, but I mentioned that already. Uh—other parts that bother me... I find the mate mind control very disturbing, but it's less scary to, uh, match you? If I'm already in love with you when I turn, it wouldn't be much of a downside. The scary part of that is the potential for the unknown, of being stuck on some random person I don't know, and that's demonstrably not going to be happening in this case. Sterility..." she trails off. "That one bothers me. More for the, the implied loss of potential future choices than a desire to eventually have children."

Permalink Eye

He nods into her hair again. "I had never really considered the possibility before, so I did not know to miss it."

Permalink Eye

"Mm. If I turn, it will be because I already love you, and because I expect to not kill people. If I love you, then I don't expect to want to bear someone else's child, and you're already sterile. I suppose those two problems solve each other, in a strange sort of way. If we ever want children we could adopt? ... If we could possibly hide the existence of vampires from a human child, anyway, which. I suppose would be difficult."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "Once we trust them to keep secrets we could tell them and turn them when they grow up."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. Or something. The details can be sorted out later depending on what we want. If we even want it, I'm not impatient to have children? Especially if we have forever."

Permalink Eye

He nods again and -

- doesn't kiss her hair, they're not there yet. Probably.

Permalink Eye

She doesn't notice his dilemma.

"You said newborn vampires are hard to control? I'd rather not be hard to control near people I might kill. If I turn you could take me to... Antarctica seems a bit much, but maybe Greenland? Some big place where there isn't a lot of people."

Permalink Eye

"It... probably won't be necessary to go that far. But if you wish, yes, I can do that."

Permalink Eye

"Oh? What seems like a reasonable place to take me instead? You're my vampiric expert here."

Permalink Eye

"I think a clear five-mile radius should be sufficient. I can," and he swallows dryly, "tear off your arms if you get too out of control, and then your instincts will turn against me rather than towards food and I will be able to stop you."

Permalink Eye

"... noted. Let's. Let's not force you into the position where you need to tear your mate's arms off, okay, dear?"

Permalink Eye

"Okay."

Permalink Eye

"If it comes to that we can make my brother do it," she says, sagely. "As penance for not telling you important information. But I think I'd really prefer isolation over backing my loved ones into a corner to rip my arms off."

Permalink Eye

"Okay."

Permalink Eye

She wriggles an arm out of her blanket cocoon and pats him gently on the cheek.

"Thank you, though. I appreciate the offer."

Permalink Eye

Eeeeeee he closes his eyes happily and makes a... yep, that's a purring sound. An honest-to-god purr.

Permalink Eye

"Oh, you purr. Vampires can purr! That's adorable, I am delighted, that's going in the pluses column."

Permalink Eye

"- oh, yeah. And growl."

Permalink Eye

"Not an adorable plus, but not a negative. It can go into the neutral column."

Permalink Eye

James thinks about it for a bit and then smirks. She's his mate, so...

He growls, quietly, it's almost indistinguishable from a purr except for how it's more - raw, animalistic. Sexy, even.

Permalink Eye

She goes very still and blinks up at him. If he's paying attention, that looks like a faint blush to her cheeks.

 

 

"... Nnnnot a neutral," she says, very quietly, after a pause. She shivers a little. It... is not a bad kind of shiver. "Nevermind, I take it back, I apologize for my hasty categorization."

Permalink Eye

He just grins, a smug "I knew it" grin.

Permalink Eye

"And we are moving right along now," she declares, nestling further into her blankets to hide her face. Her voice is slightly muffled. "So how bad is the unpleasantness from being thirsty all of the time?"

Permalink Eye

"It's about as bad as turning, at its worst, but concentrated to the throat area, and it flares whenever human blood is brought to our attention."

Permalink Eye

"And turning is bad enough that people in the middle of it routinely want to die. Okay. I'd take it over dying, though. Especially if it can be mitigated with frequent, uh, quenching. Animal based quenching."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "It can, when you're not hungry and not around any humans it's not hard to distract yourself from the thirst."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. I expect to be able to tolerate the world's most annoying sore throat for all eternity."

Permalink Eye

He has the best mate.

Permalink Eye

Aw.

"So are culinary pursuits barred to me forever? You just had a coffee, earlier."

Permalink Eye

"It provides me with no nutrition or positive sensory experiences, and I would have to, ah, regurgitate any solid foods I consume."

Permalink Eye

"Ah. Okay. Culinary pursuits are barred to me forever, got it. Luckily for us both, I'm not a foodie and find cooking annoying, so."

Permalink Eye

"That would be why I said I have no trouble with dishes," he explains with a wry grin.

Permalink Eye

Snort. "Yes, I suppose that follows, doesn't it. All right then."

Permalink Eye

"Feeding can be messy, especially when you're new at it, and that's why I do sometimes have trouble with my wardrobe. Although I tend to be a clean eater."

Permalink Eye

"Ah. Do you not have retractable fangs or... something? It's just. Rip a thing open and drink its fluids like a human with super strength and invulnerability?"

Permalink Eye

"My teeth feel sharper against my skin now than my human teeth used to feel against my human skin, that's a memory I managed to keep. So no, no fangs, just sharpness and strength and durability."

Permalink Eye

"That sounds very messy. I would have liked a tidy set of fangs," she sniffs.

Permalink Eye

"On behalf of vampirism, I apologize."

Permalink Eye

"I accept your apology on behalf of vampirism. However, I also feel it is incorrect to need to kill people you drink from and for all vampires to have the instinctual urge to rip every human's throat out. I am less inclined to accept vampirism's apology for that one," she says, loftily.

Permalink Eye

"I expect vampirism would not apologize for that one, either."

Permalink Eye

"Bah. And now just for that, I am motivated to figure out a way for all vampires everywhere to not eat people anymore," she sniffs. "Without making them all drink animal blood that they'd find disgusting. I can't imagine I could get them all to do that without overthrowing the vampiric government and threatening them, and I don't particularly want to rule the world."

Permalink Eye

"Please don't try to overthrow the Volturi," he says, sounding a little bit panicked.

Permalink Eye

"I... did just say that I didn't want to do that. It sounds hard to do, and harder still to pick up the pieces after, especially over a whole society of secretive killers that have been running around for hundreds of years. So I'd rather not."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah I know. Just. Really really don't."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. Are... they so strict that they police people thinking of them...?"

Permalink Eye

"No, and they don't really have an investigative arm, but..." He squirms in place.

Permalink Eye

"... But I am your squishy and vulnerable mate and you would not take losing me very well, and I'm skirting the law as it is. Ah. Yes. Sorry, James."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "I'm probably just being paranoid."

Permalink Eye

"Until my brother eventually shows up, I don't really have a good metric for judging whether you are or not when it comes to vampire society. Of the options 'paranoid' and 'careless,' I would rather the former."

Permalink Eye

"I suppose. Your brother is newer, though."

Permalink Eye

"Yes, and also a bit cocky. But I understand how he thinks, and can disentangle a lot of his assertions to see what made him think something."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "And I'm... somewhat biased when it comes to you."

Permalink Eye

"Somewhat," she agrees, wryly.

Permalink Eye

He chuckles. "I look forward to convicing you to be biased about me, as well."

Permalink Eye

She snorts.

"Is that a euphemism? I can't tell."

Permalink Eye

"Believe it or not, I did not mean it as such."

Permalink Eye

"Aha." Snuggle. ... Slightly pensive snuggle.

Permalink Eye

"Did I say something wrong?"

Permalink Eye

"No, I'm just... I'm not traumatized, and you haven't ruined anything forever, and I'm not mad at you, but I'm maybe not up for flirting or promises of future romance right now. The prospect of being romanced by anyone right now sort of..." She scrunches into her burrito. "... makes me want to hide."

Permalink Eye

"Oh. I'm sorry. I'll stop."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you. Sorry. I'm okay."

Permalink Eye

Nod nod into his amazing mate's hair. No kissing, no flirting, no nothing. Her boundaries. He will respect them.

Permalink Eye

She snuggles into him and hides her face in his shoulder.

"Ugh. I hate this, I'm annoyed that we couldn't just. Comfortably work and instead tripped and fell face first into a mess."

Permalink Eye

"It's not an unfixable mess, I think."

Permalink Eye

"It isn't, but I'm still annoyed about it. Our first date involving me storming off is not exactly... nice, you know?"

Permalink Eye

"It was entirely justified."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, yes, but it's still not very pleasant to be on either side of."

Permalink Eye

Snuggle. He can't disagree with her, there.

Permalink Eye

"Ugh. And now we can never go to that coffee shop ever again."

Permalink Eye

"There are other, nicer coffee shops."

Permalink Eye

"Yes, but I don't like having places that are the equivalent to little black marks on my mental map, that I can never go to again. Because I made a scene."

Permalink Eye

"You could ignore the fact that you made a scene and go there again." Maybe have a second first date, he doesn't say, because she said she didn't want him to.

Permalink Eye

"I cannot," she says, with utmost gravity. "Someone might recognize me and know."

Permalink Eye

"...and?"

Permalink Eye

"I would feel awkward, they would feel awkward, someone might ask an awkward question, I'm English, James, do you think I like social conflict?"

Permalink Eye

Oh Heavens she's adorable. He starts laughing.

Permalink Eye

"Oh, hush, you," she grumbles, without any heat.

Permalink Eye

"I'm afraid my American might be unable to appreciate the gravity of the situation."

Permalink Eye

"It is very serious! You are not in your backwater set of colonies anymore, James, you are in England! We are civilized here! No displays of emotion or strong connections to people if they can at all be avoided! If they cannot, then all who witnessed this mishap must be!"

Permalink Eye

Nope. Too cute. Help. He's laughing too much.

Permalink Eye

"Emotional outbursts are to be scheduled in advance with the proper paperwork, and signed and approved by His Majesty, King George," sniffs Yvette, trying not to smile. "Like any respectable country."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, I'm sorry, should I stop, then?"

Permalink Eye

"Mhm. Laughter is to be expressed with a slight smile, and perhaps a sensible chuckle, if you have not overdone it in the past with emotional outbursts and burned through your chuckle allotment for the month already."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, there's an allotment! Of course there is, how did I fail to think of that."

Permalink Eye

Snort.

"I don't know. It just seems sensible to me."

Permalink Eye

"You will have to teach me your British ways, I'll never think of them on my own."

Permalink Eye

Snort. "I—"

She pauses midway through that thought, and trails off, looking pensive.

"... I don't think that'd be the first set of things I'd try to teach you about."

Permalink Eye

"Oh?"

Permalink Eye

"Um." She pauses, then wriggles out of her burrito and sits up. This is not a conversation she wants to have while snuggling him.

"... Do you, um. Care. About humans?"

Permalink Eye

He opens his mouth to answer but then closes it and thinks. She deserves an honest, well-thought-out answer, and he... hasn't really thought about, before. So he thinks.

It doesn't take long; he's a vampire. He opens his eyes again and says, "I think I do." And it's true. "I didn't use to, but... I couldn't turn you. Not without your permission. Your permission is important, and you're human and..."

Permalink Eye

"And... you don't want to upset me and I care about humans, or I'm displaying a perspective you haven't thought of before?"

Permalink Eye

"You were the straw that broke the camel's back, I think. It was something I had thought of a few times before but never for too long."

Permalink Eye

"Okay," she says, softly. She falls silent. She doesn't know what to say.

Permalink Eye

He... doesn't, either. He can't change his past, and he can't lie to her.

Permalink Eye

 


"I... should probably go home. I have some things to sort through, and I don't think it'd help anything to say them at you. It sounds like you already know the things I'd have to say? And I don't want to make this an exercise in making you feel awful."

Permalink Eye

He nods slowly. "Okay. Do you want me to walk with you or would you prefer to go alone?"

Permalink Eye

"Um." She pauses to consider.

"... I don't know. I don't know what to think of you."

Permalink Eye

"I mostly mean as a safety measure, since you are female and there exist predators. I could just not be visible but still be around?"

Permalink Eye

She raises her eyebrows.

"You realize I walk further, twice a day, six times a week for my job, right?"

Permalink Eye

"This late?" he asks, gesturing at the dark sky outside with his hiked thumb.

Permalink Eye

"Yes, James. My work shifts are ten hours long."

Permalink Eye

"Oh."

Permalink Eye

She sighs. "Sure, fine, walk me home."

Permalink Eye

"You don't have to manage my emotions. I'm probably just being overly cautious. If you'd prefer to walk alone, that's what you should do."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not—I just—" Her voice cracks and she stops and tries again. "I don't care, you do, all I want is to go home and hug my father and then curl up and cry."

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

"Oh." He stands up and walks to the door to open it. "I... am sorry this did not go as well as it could have," he says, looking at her. "Me being around you is probably not going to help you think, and I don't want to make you more uncomfortable than you already are."

Permalink Eye

"Apology accepted," she murmurs, busying herself with putting her shoes back on so she doesn't have to look at him.

She takes a deep, shuddering breath that sounds like the prelude to a sob, then closes her eyes and rubs the bridge of her nose. "I'm—home. I'm going to go home. I am going to go home, before I start yelling at you for reasons I am going to disagree with later."

Permalink Eye

"...you can yell at me. God knows I deserve it."

Permalink Eye

"You kind of do!" she agrees, at a... higher volume than she intended. And she wants to leave it at that and tries to shut her mouth but it—doesn't—work

Instead what falls out is:

"You've killed! Thousands! Of people! Thousands! I am incredibly disturbed that the only reason I fucking matter to you is because your brain has been twisted into a pretzel by magic vampire mind control! This is not a stable basis for a relationship, however much you bizarrely trust the mind control's ability to aim! Because I don't trust it a damn inch! I don't know you! You were just going to, what, seduce me, sleep with me, and then leave? Casually break my fucking heart into a billion tiny pieces because it seemed like the thing to do, even as I bend over backwards to tiptoe around yours? Even though, objectively speaking, you probably don't fucking deserve it? How many hearts have you broken, personally or impersonally, of people that did not deserve it, and got it anyway?

"This entire mess is your fault! At every level! I can blame my brother for not pulling psychic social wizardry to prevent this from ever occurring, but really, we both know it is actually your fault that my introduction to you and your world of magic mindreading murderers was so atrocious! You invite me on a date where you planned to lie to me, and you don't even bother to lie to me well? You wave away impossible things without bothering to lay the groundwork to make the lies plausible? You think I'll just believe your bullshit, or accept your bullshit, and not walk out on you for treating me that way? How dare you. Who do you think you're dealing with? You are lucky that I do not want to go, 'Gosh, that mind control sure sounds like it's your problem and not mine, bye,' because that is the only thing that has saved you from eternal vampiric heartbreak!

"The fact that I seem to just casually be the center of your universe and hold your heart in my hands is not a comfort, it is terrifying! I am not qualified! No one is qualified! This is disturbing, I am unsettled by how you keep just—not having any preferences that don't revolve around me! This is not how I would like any potential relationship of mine to be conducted! Overcome your damn mind control and get a fucking hobby, I am not standing for this insanity! I have no idea who you are! I am uncomfortable trying to get to know you because you keep, keep trying to tell me to not do things because you are overprotective, and hang on my every word like it's gospel! Like I'm not allowed to think, not allowed to go outside without you, and not allowed to talk because it might hurt you! And some of that's me, because I don't think saying people deserve anything is a good metric to conduct ourselves by, but some of that's also you, and I want it to stop! Right this instant, because I'm brilliant and I don't want your coddling, and I'm insulted if you think I need it! I—"

Her voice breaks and she is interrupted by a sob. She scrubs a hand at her eye and looks away. "—I'm sorry, I didn't. I'm so tired, this is my one day off and it has gone like this, and there are vampires and terrible magic that I don't understand at all and I was snuggling a murderer and my brother's killed people and I can't, can't just say any of this to my dad because then he's at risk too, and, and."

And now she is crying.

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

 

He didn't know vampires could be so completely, utterly frozen. He thought all the nifty mind boosts would guarantee that eventually something would give, but no, all that space in his head is only barely enough to contain the looping thoughts that keep stuttering after each other. She's right, every single thing she has said is right, he doesn't - doesn't deserve -

- stop.

Right this instant, she said.

So he stops. He can't offer her comfort, he can't hug her, he can't go kill whoever made her feel this way because that's himHe made her feel this way.

...he could kill himself. That's a person he could kill. He's been near volcanoes, he knows that he could just - drop down into one and -

- stop.

Right this instant, she said.

So he stops. He can't kill himself, that would be absurd, not only would Yvette feel guilty as fuck he actually, really doesn't want to die. It wouldn't solve anything, it would just be overdramatic and she just said she doesn't need his coddling. She is a strong, brilliant, caring, amazing, independent woman, and she doesn't need him, does she, he could just leave -

- stop.

Right this instant, she said.

So he stops.

Again.

And again.

And again and again.

And again and again and again.

And so on.

Permalink Eye

 

 

"—Fuck, I'm sorry," she sniffles, between sobs. "I think I broke you. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to, to get that vicious, I could have sorted this all out, into, into something a bit more fair, if I'd had—had any space away from you to do it. But I hadn't been letting myself while near you because it's, it's that, and, and." Yep, back to crying.

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"Don't be sorry," he says. "I needed to hear that. You're - you're right, I - give me a second, please."

Okay, that shook him out of his thing. He can now think.

What had he been thinking? She's his mate. That says things, it says more things than how likely she is to find his growling hot. What would he think, vampirism aside, if someone wanted to, to protect him from walking outside on his own? What would he think about all of this, and what kind of person would he mate on?

She's strong. She's brilliant. She's capable and good and a full person in herself and he needs to meet her halfway.

He needs to grow the fuck up. So he does.

He takes a deep breath, just for the psychological benefit of it, and opens his eyes. This all took 1.37 seconds.

"I expect I would have stopped eating people eventually, just from meeting other people and interacting with them as I've been doing lately. It was overdetermined before I met you, really, it was just a matter of me stopping to think about several things that had been adding up. I know it's scant comfort but it's what I can offer.

"You are right about everything else. I have apologized many times today, but let me do it once more. I'm sorry. I'm truly, genuinely sorry for everything I have done to you today. It may be a cliche excuse, but I did not think. I failed to think about myself, and about you, and about what I was doing. It's a character flaw, I do more often than I think, and with more speed, and I'm good at recovering from falls but I do fall. I do trust the mind control magic, yes, and even it is telling me that I fucked up. I did not treat you as the sort of person I would fall in love with; the sort of person I would fall in love with would absolutely not put up with my bullshit and would absolutely call me out on it, and that person is an incredibly competent, intelligent, independent person who will make their own decisions and I should not be acting like it is my duty to protect that person from themself or control what they do or think."

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Sniffle.

"Y-yeah. You shouldn't be. I still feel I could have made my points in a less, less that kind of way, though." She sniffles again. "But I—I'm glad you're okay. I think?" Sniffle. "You seem okay? I don't know how to read you, you're a vampire..."

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He smiles. "I'm as okay as I could be. I don't have any yelling bottled up, at the moment."

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"Well, good." Sniffle. "... maybe hug me and tell me you don't hate me? I feel really bad for yelling now."

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He's there in an instant and wrapping his arms around her. It's like being hugged by Michelangelo's David, he's as durable and hard as stone (and about as fit as, if not more fit than, the statue), but he's oh-so-careful, and from this position one might get a more intuitive sense of how a vampire could snap a human like a twig. "I could never hate you, Yvette Lowell. You are exactly the person I want and need in my life, regardless of mind control, and I will love you forever."

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At first she's not quite sure how to hug an unyielding statue person, but then she relaxes into his arms and leans into him.

"Okay," she mumbles into his shoulder. "I'm just. I'm just going to take you at your word about that, because if I don't I'm going to end up thinking myself into knots."

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"If there is anything in this world you can be sure of is that I will love you until the day I die, should such a day ever come."

He is... surprisingly snuggly for a statue. Probably the layers of clothing. But also, he's very much room temperature.

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"I was talking more about the part where I am 'the person you want and need in your life,' not the part about how you'll love me until the day you die," she clarifies, a little wryly.

Room temperature under fabric is actually pretty nice, for a face that has just been crying.

"You know as well as yelling at you worked out, I never want to do it again," she informs him.

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"I'll do my best not to deserve any more yelling, then."

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Snort.

"Nope, nuh uh. You maybe needed some of that, but you did not need it in such a, a... claws out format. If this is supposed to be a relationship of mutual respect and care, I don't want to ever turn that level of... that... at you again. And I'm sorry I did."

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He nods. "Perhaps. And I definitely forgive you."

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“Thanks,” she murmurs, leaning against him.

“You’re pretty good at this whole ‘vampiric subject of mind control pointed at a human’ thing. When you know that’s what’s going on, I mean. ...If you tone down the overprotectiveness a little.”

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"It has been toned down, don't worry, I already hit myself internally several times over this."

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She hiccups a little giggle.

"Some protectiveness is fine! I acknowledge that I'm fragile and breakable and squishy in comparison. Just. Yeah."

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"Right, you are not a little porcelain doll who will shatter into a million pieces when someone looks at you askance."

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"Yes. And most humans don't live very dangerous lives, and I get the impression there aren't many vampires, since exsanguinated animal attack victims aren't all that common."

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"I think they mostly just go missing, the Volturi would not be happy by a vampire that left a trail."

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"Ah. Maybe protect me from vampires, then, since I cannot protect myself there."

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"I would know if there were any vampires other than me around here."

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"See, there you go, good job. Keep up the good work."

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He laughs. "Anyway. I think you got interrupted by the yelling at me."

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"A bit. Though I, uh, didn't exactly wait until I got home to cry, did I. I don't want to go out in public while I'm this much of a mess, even in the dark."

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"I do have a functioning bathroom, if you wish to touch up. And a bedroom, despite not needing to sleep, if you'd rather stay the night."

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She snorts, and leans on him some more.

"Bathroom sounds good, I have spare makeup in my purse for touch ups. Staying the night would perhaps give the wrong impression, James, I wasn't planning on telling anyone I came back to your house at all. People would, ah. Presume things."

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"Ah, yes. I apologize." He leads the way to a spacious bathroom with a very large mirror and an even larger bath. Four people could fit in that bath.

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"Planning diving expeditions in here, are you?" she wonders dryly, sliding to the sink to wash off the natural results of crying.

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"I enjoy having some material comforts."

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Snort.

"Ah, I see," she says, a little amused? She declines to comment further.

Then: onto making herself prettier with the magic of makeup.

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He will valiantly refrain from commenting on how gorgeous she looks.

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He will surely go down in the history books for his restraint and self control.

"Okay, I'm going to head home before Dad starts to worry," she says, once her task is completed and she deems herself presentable.

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He nods and accompanies her to the door. "I will see you later, then."

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She checks her purse to make sure that, yep, she still has it. "Yeah. Uh, next Sunday?"

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"Whenever you want."

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"Okay. Sunday, then. Uh, noon, if it's sunny and you can't go outside, I come by here. If it isn't, swing by, we can pretend it's a lunch date even though you don't eat. I expect I'll have my thoughts together and have questions for you of... Some kind."

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He nods. "I will see you Sunday, then. And I will - not try to go out of my way not to run into you if I just casually happen to?"

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"Sure. Uh, but no engineering that, please, I would not like to now have a vampire stalker."

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"I will definitely not stalk you."

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"Good. Thank you. Good night, James."

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"Good night, Yvette."

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She heads home. There is rather a lot to think about.

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And he spends the week trying to act as normally as possible and does not seek her out even once.

He's not hungry by Sunday. But he doesn't want to risk it. He has a lot of control but she's his mate so he -

- finds an animal. A carnivore, those taste best.

His eyes are amber.

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On Sunday, here is his mate! She's dressed up again, rather like this is an actual date.

"Off we go, then?"

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"Yes, ma'am," he says, flashing her a grin.

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She smiles back, and they depart.

"I can grab something to eat from a stall or something, and then we can go to the park. There's a nice, quiet one nearby, not very crowded."

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"That sounds lovely. Lead the way."

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She does, getting herself a quick set of fish and chips, and then leading him to a very out of the way bench in a very out of the way park.

"Thank you," she says, once she's sat down. "For the, um." She motions to his eyes. "Diet change."

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He nods. "It's not all the way to gold, yet, the human blood hasn't all diluted. But yeah."

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She nods.

"Right. Okay. Uh, so, what other rules does the secret vampire government have?"

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"Just the one, really: do not reveal the existence of vampires to humans as a whole, nor allow such a reveal to occur through inaction. It's particularly important not to create newborn armies, which inevitably get out of control, nor turn children - when we turn, our personality becomes static, and immortal children never grow up and get enough maturity and self-control to be able to exist quietly. The cutoff age is fourteen."

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"Immortal children? Stuck forever at... whatever age they were turned at." She looks sort of queasy. "I do not disagree with these addendums to the rules, they are. They seem very necessary."

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He nods. "And - I just realized I did not mention this at the time, it was a background fact - you become prettier when you turn. More symmetrical, better body proportions. Immortal children are almost impossible not to love at first sight, whole covens of vampires would go down fighting to protect their children."

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Yvette stares at him.

"Yep. Definitely a. Definitely a wise policy."

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He nods. "I believe the fourteen cutoff is because fourteen is the age of the youngest members of the Volturi coven."

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"That's a bit questionable, but. Okay. If they encounter a controlled twelve year old, would they mindlessly kill them, or agree to leave them alive?"

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"Kill them, probably."

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Wince. "Okay."

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He nods. "There is not much room for quarter or disagreement with them."

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"So, play very very nice and don't attract their attention. Got it. Okay." She fidgets with the hem of her skirt and looks at her lap. "Luckily for us, I, um. I think I might want to become a vampire. Not... Not immediately, I want to be sure I won't eat people and I want to have a better idea of who you are before I'm mind controlled to love you forever, but, um." Yep she sure is looking at her lap. "... It sounds nice? Not entirely free of downsides, but being immortal appeals."

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He nods again, not letting the internal screaming show. "If you decide not to love me forever, I can try to make sure you don't see me after turning. It will be a bit harder to wrangle, but it can be done."

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"Okay," she agrees, softly, looking up from her lap to meet his eyes. "Do we know if that'll work, though? I don't mean if you can pull it off, I mean, what does the mind control grab ahold of? Just sight, or does memories of sight do it, or the sound of your voice, or letters you write? I don't... want to cut you off from me entirely, that sounds. Kind of cruel to you, really."

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"I don't know. I think letters and photographs are not enough, and I know sight is enough, but I'm not sure about the sound of my voice."

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She nods.

"But you'd rather me alive and safe forever and never speaking to you again than, what, sixty years of conversation followed by a forever without me alive anywhere," she says. It does not sound like a question.

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"Yes."

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"Okay. Good. Then..." She trails off and looks at her lap again. "Then, um. All right. You may begin attempting to woo me, now."

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- he laughs. "Attempting to woo you?"

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She flushes slightly.

"I'd told you to back off on the flirting before!" she defends. "You, um, don't need to do that anymore, it's a little... intimidating... but I'm not against it?"

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"Yes, yes, it was just an amusing way to say it. And I think we are a bit past default flirting, now."

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She raises her eyebrows archly.

"Well, then do educate me on where we are instead."

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"I think we are at me being myself with sufficient force at you that you will notice the obvious fact that I'm amazing and you should begin a relationship with me in earnest."

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"What, and make this easy? Where's the fun in that?"

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"It's going to be easy one way or another, but in my solution I won't have to pretend I'm not incredibly into you."

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"If you were pretending not to be incredibly into me, you're not very good at it," she teases, amused. "And my, you're arrogant. You only get to win my heart once, you know, and then it'll be yours forever. Surely you want to put more effort into it than 'it'll just work out and be fine without my intervention or effort.'"

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"Oh I never said there would be no effort, just that this effort would not look like traditional flirting."

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"Aha. Well, by all means, I'm hardly going to try to stifle your freedom and creativity, or tell you to act like you're someone else."

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He laughs. "Should I take you to another fancy place where humans consume their nourishment, then?"

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She snorts and hefts her now empty container that once held food. "I'm all right on nourishment for now, but thank you. You'll have to think of something else."

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"Alas, what shall become of me. Maybe a walk in the terribly lovely park, and we can illegally feed the ducks?"

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"Sure. Who doesn't want to break the law a little for the second date?"

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"I can be flexible on the ducks."

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“How generous of you,” she says, amused. “I’m fine with illegally feeding ducks if we feed them something other than bread.”

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"I don't actually know what ducks eat," he confesses. "If I ever knew when I was a human I certainly forgot it, and it never became relevant afterwards." He's steering towards the park nonetheless.

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“We can feed them lettuce, though I don’t have an exhaustive list of other duck appropriate food items. I do not have any lettuce, do you?”

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"I could probably fetch some."

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She looks at him speculatively.

"Do you know where to find lettuce, or are you volunteering for an adventure you don't know the scope of just to impress me?"

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"Ooh, would that impress you? Then definitely the latter."

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Yvette fails to conceal a laugh, then says, "I think it would take a bit more than buying lettuce to impress me, I'm afraid."

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"Oh, well. I can do it anyway. For the ducks, you see."

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"I'm sure the ducks will thank you for your magnanimous efforts that surely have no ulterior motives whatsoever."

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"My motives are overt! I wish to win your heart with my charm and wit, and I shall start that with lettuce!"

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...

She cracks up.

"Okay," she giggles.

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"I shall return momentarily, light of my life," he says, and (after a quick glance around) quite literally disappears.

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"Show off," she informs the empty air, without heat. Then she sits down and tries not to giggle some more. She fails.

Permalink Eye

After a few minutes, here he is, his hands behind his back. "I come bearing gifts! I can only hope this metaphor will bring a smile to your lips, for no flower can match your beauty." He bows and offers her a bouquet of... lettuce.

Permalink Eye

Yep, that's a smile on her lips, complete with a little giggle.

"Thank you, sir," she says, trying to be austere and imperious and getting horribly sabotaged by her smile. She accepts the bouquet.

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And then the other hand comes out from behind his back and that one contains an actual bouquet of flowers. "Oh, my, where did that come from. Such an unexpected surprise!"

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"You, that," she says, and then she takes the flowers. There's more of that pretty smile of hers. "This is ridiculous. You're ridiculous."

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Her smile is so so pretty. "I hope that's a good ridiculous." He takes the lettuce back and offers her one arm. "Shall we go feed the ducks, my dear?"

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"Yes, all right." She takes the offered arm and gives him, then the flowers, an amused look. Or perhaps it's 'delighted,' it might instead be delighted.

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So they can walk over to the pond! It's not a nice, sunny day out, so not many people are out and about, and they're alone when they reach it.

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It's very cute, actually.

"Heeeeere ducky, ducky. We have nutritionally appropriate food to illegally feed you with!" She carefully balances the flower bouquet in the hand hooked through his arm, then rips a chunk out of the lettuce bouquet to ply the ducks with.

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The ducks... all swim away. "- oh, right. Animals hate vampires. I should probably stay away while you feed them."

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"Ah. That's sort of a pity, but not a deal breaker. And it's less fun to feed ducks as a date if I must ditch the date to do it. Pardon me a moment." She then plucks the bouquet out of his hand and tosses the whole thing pond-wards.

"Right, ducks fed, off we go to let them eat!"

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- he sporfles. "You are a delight," he says. "Yes, off we go, then, we have a whole park to explore as an excuse to spending more time together."

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She beams at him. "We do! Though I've actually already been here before, so if you'd like the proper park exploration experience with me, we'll have to go somewhere else."

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"Well, the exploration needn't be with the purpose of getting to know the place, but if there is somewhere you'd like to know hereabouts that you've never been to... or somewhere someone with vampiric speeds could take you to..."

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"That second one's tempting, but I have no place in mind to visit. I'm open to suggestions from the someone with vampiric speeds, you'd know what places are easy to reach better than I would."

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"Then I might need to carry you."

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"Oh. Yes, of course that's how it would work, what else was I expecting." She hums and gives him a considering look. "And carrying me around won't make it harder for you to resist eating me, and won't potentially injure me on your perfect marble arms?"

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"I can make it very comfortable. I won't go as fast as I can, that would damage you; you will otherwise be perfectly safe from me or the environment."

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"Okay," she agrees, a little bashfully. "Then you may carry me away somewhere."

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"If I may?" he says, offering his arms.

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She glances around to confirm that there are no witnesses, then moves in front of him, where she'll be easy to scoop up. "Go ahead."

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Scoop! "You ready?"