I leave Billy when it’s time to go to school. Amazingly enough, none of the nurses told me to leave. Or, maybe I should say, none of the nurses succeeded in getting the full sentence out. Several of them began to tell me to leave, but one look from me and my glamour and they shut up.
I don’t have any interest in drawing things out with Jack, not even to track him back to his place. I’m getting hungry, and if the next few days go the way I think they will, I’ll need to be well fed.
He breaks away from his crowd of friends and heads toward the bathroom during lunch. Best chance I’m going to get all day. Not my favorite location for something like this, but it’ll work.
Now, as you might remember, I mentioned we don’t digest. What goes in comes out. This is useful to know for a few reasons. In relation to hunting vamps, it’s good to know because human nature tends to work the same way for everyone.
Guys have a sort of code. When they’re in the bathroom that code is: ‘Thou shalt not look at the other guys.’ So if one of them is at the urinal and he hears someone come in, he’s not going to look up and around to see who it is. He’s going to keep looking straight ahead.
Go in moving faster than he can see, and he won’t even have the time to notice something is wrong.
I go in fast, tackle him into the handicapped stall at the far end of the bathroom, and have his arms pinned behind his back, a hair stick pressed into his chest (I usually try to get far enough in to get past the ribs but not into the heart. You poke a stake that far into a vamp and he’s going to go very still, not wanting to risk having it go in further), and my fangs in his neck before he knows what is happening.
“Let me eat, and I don’t press it home.”
I can feel him trembling under me, fear or rage, I don’t know. He’s doing what I tell him to, so I don’t care, either. I prop his feet against the stall door, straddle his hips, and get to it.
Boys come in and out, giggling, talking. I press a finger to Jack’s lips, and he stays quiet.
You can’t actually kill a vamp by draining him dry. He’s going to be in awfully bad shape after something like that, but he won’t die. From the way he looks at me, I guess he knows that and is willing to let me drink up if it means he’s going to get out of this alive.
“Good boy.” I pat his cheek patronizingly as I feast. Someone else in the bathroom must have heard that and seen our lower bodies under the stall. Chuckling and sexually unimaginative comments are the soundtrack to my meal.
I don’t pull back. I don’t do anything to signal I’m done. I don’t want him to figure out the next move. I can feel I’ve had enough, so mid-suck, I shove the hair stick home.
Interesting bit about vamps: we do turn to ash or dust or something when we die. Our clothing does not.
I debate leaving the clothes or not.
Screw it. I leave them. Worst come to worst, people will think he spontaneously combusted. No, I don’t know for a fact that dusted vamps is where that idea comes from, but I’d give even odds on it.
I dust myself off, tuck the hair stick back into my bun, stroll past a few shocked boys in the bathroom, glamouring them to forget me as I walk past, and head off.
Good-bye Jenks High.
I pull up a chair next to Billy’s bed.
“Helen?” He sounds groggy, like he just woke up. He probably has just woken up.
“Yeah. How you doing?”
“Yeah, I figured.”
He turns his face to my general direction and reaches a hand out toward me. I take his hand in mine, not in the least concerned about keeping up the appearance of humanity. For a moment, he just holds my hand.
“I got about fifty Facebook updates telling me Jack Cross went missing today. Rumor around the school is that his clothing and a pile of ash were found in the boy’s bathroom.”
“I heard that.”
“You know, he was room temperature, too.”
“Yeah, I bet he was.”
“He had this unnerving habit of not blinking for way too long.”
“I noticed that, as well.”
I sit on his bed next to him and wrap my arm around him. “Well, I don’t have any thyroid function at all. Technically, it’s true.”
He smiles at that. “So, you’re what, Blade?”
“Not quite. I really don’t think dhampir exist. I’ve never seen or heard of one. I have a proposition for you.”
“I’m all ears.”
“Do you still want to be a vamp?”
“Could I stay with you?”
“No. Baby vamps aren’t my thing.” He looks disappointed. But baby vamps annoy me, and no matter how cute he is as a human, I don’t want him around as a vamp until he’s grown up a bit.
“How would it work?”
“I’ll wait until you fall into a coma, finish you off, and the next night you’ll wake up in the morgue or funeral home and have to fend for yourself. In five or ten years, when you’ve had the time to grow up a bit and see if you can survive as a vamp, then I’ll want to see you.”
He thinks about it. I can see him pondering how he’d survive, what his parents will think when his body suddenly goes missing, weighing that against having maybe a few weeks, most of them unconscious, of life left. He gently pokes my wrist with his thumb.
“All of us are soft. The hard as stone vampire thing… I don’t know where that comes from. Modified Golem myth? Anyway, hard things don’t bend all that well. They tend to crack and break. If you want to move, you need to be soft.”
He nods at that, still holding my wrist. I realize he’s feeling for my pulse.
“I really don’t have one.”
“Appears so.” His fingers stroke down my wrist a few times. “Will they notice the bite marks?”
“I’m not going to bite you. I’ll use your arm, where the IV is, and put it back when I’m done.”
He thinks about that for a moment. “I’m full of morphine. Will that be a problem?”
“I doubt it. I’ve smoked opium and didn’t notice any issues.” Vamps can get high and drunk and anything else really. It just takes a ton of whatever it is to do it. I don’t know why that’s true, but my guess is it would take about three times a lethal dose of morphine to get me even buzzed, let alone loopy.
“Really. San Francisco, back in the 1890s. I’d never seen real Asians before and was fascinated by them. I spent a lot of time in the opium dens because they were there, and no one made any sort of fuss about my kind eating the customers as long as I paid the house well.”
He thinks about that for a few minutes, too. “Did you kill them?”
“Very rarely. A bunch of them thought they had some really intense hallucinations about a blond girl sucking on them.” I pause for a moment, thinking of a good way to explain how it works.
“Do you know about the Masai tribe in Africa?”
He shakes his head.
“They live on a diet of cow blood and milk.” He looks a little nauseous at that, but I keep going. “They don’t kill the cows often, because a dead cow makes no more blood or milk. That’s how most of us treat humans. A pint here, a pint there, and we’re good. Young ones tend to need more food, but even then, you’re usually full by two or three pints. I mean, think about it: how big is your stomach? Even full to bursting, it’s not much more than three pints. Most humans can survive that level of donation.”
“But you killed Jack, right?” He looks a little dubious, and I’m not sure if he’d be happier with me saying yes or no. Either way, I’m not going to bother to lie to him.
“Yes. If you eat cow blood, there’s no reason to kill the cow. Not like it’s going to hunt you down in your sleep. Me, I eat grizzly bear blood. Turn your back on one of them, and it will kill you.”
“So, do you want me to do it?”
“No demons?” I’d laugh at the earnest doubt on his face if he were anyone else in any other situation.
“No demons. If you’re a basically decent human, you’ll be a basically decent vamp. We’re just like sharks.”
“You know, that’s not usually a compliment.”
I smile at him and realize he can’t see it. “Some of us like being sharks. And you don’t have to be one. I won’t think any less of you if you say no. Most sharks don’t live a long time. It’s hard work being a shark.”
“Well, even if I turn out to be the least effective, most bumbling vampire ever, I’m still looking at a longer lifespan than I’d have otherwise.”
“So what do I have to lose?”
“Doesn’t look like much from where I’m sitting.”
“Yes. I’ll be a vamp.” He looks very young and very certain at that moment. And then, for a second, very scared. “Will you stay with me until…”
I can see him pushing fear aside. “How will I find you? In five years, I mean. Will we have some sort of special mojo? Some sort of maker/child bond?”
“Nah. Luck. Perseverance. Google. Facebook. After all, it’s not like I’ll look different. I’ve got friends here and there, and I’ve been around for so long, a lot of the older vamps know me. It won’t be easy, but I’m not impossible to find, either.”
“Will you have sex with me? I don’t want to die a virgin.” His smile tells me he’s not entirely kidding. His sightless eyes let me know he’s more asking just to ask; he doesn’t have the strength for it anymore.
“Nope. Once again, five, ten years from now, when you’ve got a bit more experience, and yes. But right now, I’d break you, and not in a good way.”
“Damn.” He shakes his head, looking sad and relieved. “Even on my deathbed I can’t get a girl to sleep with me.”
“Even on your deathbed.” I smile and kiss him on the temple.
“So, tell me about being a vampire. Obviously, the bursting into flames thing is off…”
“Just a bit…”