"Among some of the kindred, legends of these odd half-breeds exist. Many consider it the stuff of legends and pop media, and look to their own irrelevant and only indifferently functional genitalia as evidence…its all clouds, swamp gas and weather balloons. Most of the time."
The Wicked Dead
The next morning, when I woke up, my stomach was growling, and I could smell food.
Good old human food, like the kind I used to eat before I met Lacroix. Although, to be perfectly honest, I've always been a picky eater.
The smell was so strong, I could almost taste it, and I thought I was having a dream about it because when I groggily sat up in bed, I could still smell it. Bacon.
Then it occurred to me that maybe someone was cooking something. Like, maybe a ghoul had come over. Maybe even Mercurio.
I yawned. Today would be fun then—
Wait a minute.
I blinked, as the vibrant color of my skin tight dress caught my eye and I remembered last night.
How did I get to bed? I had no idea. All I remembered was the elevator. Had I seriously passed out in the elevator?
I looked at the clock. It was nearly one in the afternoon. Where would Lacroix be at a time like this? What did vampires do before sunset? Pace? Watch sitcoms?
I slipped out of the dress. Well okay, I struggled to get it off without ripping it in two, then put on the shirt I'd stolen from Lacroix the day before yesterday, still the only clothes the thoughtful bastard had given me.
I thought it'd be pretty embarrassing for Mercurio (or whoever was out there) to see me half naked but hey, more incentive for Lacroix to get me something to wear. When I came out of my room though, Mercurio wasn't there.
It was just Lacroix standing at the stove cooking bacon. I kid you not.
I stood there, trying not to be suspiciously freaked out, but still pretty freaked out.
"Uh…whats going on?" I asked in a croaky morning voice. I know, I'm incredibly sexy.
Lacroix glanced up. He had a determined look on his face, like he was in the middle of a particularly draining and difficult task. "Oh good, you're awake," he said.
He got a plate, put some mouthwatering bacon on it, opened the oven door and put a stack of pancakes on it, then set it down on the island counter.
I looked around for whomever the food was supposed to be for, and quickly became aware that there was no one but us in the hotel room.
Sebastian was staring at me.
"Have a seat," he said, waving to the chair in front of the food.
I stared at the chair for a good thirty seconds before moving forward. My mind was on overdrive coming up with explanations for this, but none of them seemed plausible. I decided to first ask the question at the forefront of my mind.
"How do you know how to make human food?" I asked, and sat in the chair.
Sebastian had turned around, clanging around in the drawer for something. He pulled out a fork and set it down next to the plate.
"Over the years, I've found it to be a useful skill in pretending to be human."
Couldn't argue with that. It would be pretty strange if somebody didn't know how to use a stove.
"You could always just say you were Amish." I suggested.
He smirked, so I guessed he found that amusing.
But then he'd have to wear ugly clothes and grow a beard, and that would bring his hotness level down a notch or so. I didn't say that aloud for obvious reasons.
"By the time Eliza was old enough to be embraced, I'd made her many meals anyway," he sighed, like just the thought of all that manual labor made him tired.
"I always thought she was older than you," I admitted, eyeing the food, but putting it aside for a moment. Sebastian almost never volunteered information about himself and I was completely prepared to squeegee it out of him.
"I didn't know that you had to take care of her either. How old was she?"
He looked mildly surprised that I was so interested, "Very young. Four summers, perhaps."
I instantly thought of Sebastian carrying around a little four year old human Eliza and awwed. Not aloud of course. I'm not that stupid.
Then I remembered all the responsibilities that come with caring for a four year old, and I realized how draining that must have been, for a vampire nonetheless, and my mouth sped way ahead of my brain.
"Why couldn't your parents take care of her?"
I regretted it the instant I asked. His face hardened, and he looked too mature for his age. Like someone who'd lived long enough to see things no normal person should be able to.
"They were dead by then," he said bluntly.
"Oh, right. Sorry," I said. I swallowed and looked at the counter top, and tried to let the thoughts of its pretty blue speckled color distract me. Unfortunately for me, I don't have ADD. I thought it was pretty insensitive of me to ask.
"My parents died when I was young too," I said quietly, "I don't remember anything about them."
When I realized what I'd just said, I snapped my mouth shut. I usually didn't share that with people. It was kind of one of those things that you told people and afterward they immediately looked at you differently, like you needed help. I hated that. I didn't need anyone to pity me.
Lacroix stared at me for a long time, but didn't say anything.
I guessed we were done talking about it, and some awkward silence passed. Then of all things, he murmured, "Eat."
He gestured to the food on the plate, and I reluctantly looked down at it.
I couldn't find a way to express how confused I was at this simple command, so I just kind of sat there, and looked at him with an expression that might suggest my mind was about to implode.
It was like he'd asked me to go for a walk with him out in the park at noon so we could burn to a crisp in the sun. Or, on human terms, like he'd asked me to drink some lighter fluid. I mean, it wasn't quite as lethal as that, but it was kind of an unspoken vampire rule that you didn't eat human food. I'd seen no one eat since I became one, and the few times I'd tried it had made me sick. But then again, blood had made me sick too.
"I know that you haven't been eating," he said unhelpfully. He leaned back on the counter, apparently resigning himself to the fact that he'd be here for a while.
"Uh, yeah," I said like it was the most obvious thing in the world. Which it was.
Lacroix glared a bit, and I realized how bratty I sounded and tried to back up with wild hand motions, "I mean, you don't eat."
"That's different," he said, looking rather intensely at the bacon on my plate, "You need to eat."
"What? Why? Don't you think that's a little weird? For me to eat and not heal?" I thrust my hand in his face, which was still healing from its contact with the vampire hunter's bullets of doom.
"Yes, it is," He answered with an irritated sigh, "However, it is quite apparent to me that you need human food, so eat."
"Not until you tell me whats going on," I said excited at the possibility that he could know. I'd been trying to figure this thing out for months, and dammit, he was going to tell me.
"You will eat," he said, lacing his voice with dominating power.
I glared at him and picked up the fork, taking a bite of pancake. Without syrup, since I couldn't control my arm anymore. I didn't have a knife to cut a little piece of it off either so I had to just take bites out of the whole thing, which I'd stabbed on the tip of my fork like a big lollypop-pancake. He obviously didn't understand how pancakes were normally eaten.
The sight seemed to placate him a bit.
"Juliet, I have lied to you."
I stared at him, and reluctantly took another bite out of the pancake.
"I suppose you had to find out at some point, but I was hoping to delay it. After you passed out last night in the elevator, I realized I had no more time."
I felt like saying spit it out already, but I couldn't due to the fact that my mouth was full of pancake.
"In all likelihood, you are not a vampire" he said finally.
I dropped my fork. It clattered to the floor in an appropriately dramatic way.
"What?" I asked the instant I swallowed. Unfortunately my brain apparently didn't need a fork. My hand offered me a piece of bacon instead of the pancake, and it took a lot of effort to make myself stop trying to eat.
I immediately thought sick social experiment. You know, like Lacroix and a whole bunch of other assholes decide to take this human chick, tell her she's a vampire, and see if she'll figure it out or go insane. And that made me want to cry and punch somebody at the same time.
Sebastian was beginning to look concerned. And he should be, I thought. I looked at my hands, balled into fists. I was seriously going to punch him if this was some joke. If I would have thought harder about it, I wouldn't have even considered it. But as it was, shock clouded my judgment.
I glared so hard and intensely, I thought I might telepathically hurt him. That he could lie to me about something like that was so utterly fucked up. I mean, you don't lie to people about things like if they're a member of the undead or not. It's kind of, you know, only life changing information. Not even mentioning the fact that I'd spent oh, just a few months, nearly losing my mind mourning my lack of humanity.
I finally took a bite of the bacon, and it broke the rather awkward silence. I didn't even like the stupid bacon but it was really tiring trying not to eat when I'd just been dominated.
Sebastian followed the motion, and then blinked, realizing my struggle. "You may stop eating."
Oh why thank you, I thought sarcastically.
"Am I even your childe?" I asked in a deadpan voice.
He opened his mouth, then closed it. Then opened it again.
"It is doubtful," he said finally, "I suppose it doesn't matter anymore does it? Is that really why you are here?"
He took a few steps forward, stopped leaning against the counter, and folded his arms.
"I don't know why I'm here," I said quietly.
"I think you do," he said.
I glared at him again, "Well I think asking me to understand my motives when I don't even know who or what I am is pretty unrealistic."
There was another awkward silence and Lacroix nodded, apparently agreeing.
"You are likely a dampyr."
"I don't understand," I said, "You turned me into a vampire in the alleyway behind my work."
"I know nothing more," he admitted. He averted his eyes. "I found you in the alleyway by accident. I was looking for an easy target. I had sustained substantial injury. I was desperate. I had not had the need to take blood from a human for many years. It was... difficult," he winced, as if he'd just admitted some horrible fault.
Somehow, recounting the past few weeks, the substantial injury part didn't surprise me. Lacroix wasn't exactly the most popular guy.
"I drew from you, and after, you began convulsing. I thought I had taken too much and knew you were dying. I knew I could never kill an innocent human.. it was...unfitting for someone of my status to do so. It could result in expulsion from the city, leaving me stripped of my title. I thought I did what I had to to save your life." Here he paused to gauge my reaction, his normally impassive cold eyes studying me in a much more gentle way. He had an expression on his face I had very rarely seen him use.
"I began to notice strange things, like your lack of consumption of blood. You seemed to be able to go so long without it. I remembered a tale I had heard long ago of these certainly mythical creatures, hybrids of humans and vampires," he scoffed, shaking his head.
Hybrids of humans and vampires. How was that possible, I wondered. I was about to ask, but he beat me to the punch.
"Vampires have no reproductive powers. Still, there are ways around that. Embracing a woman late in pregnancy sometimes does not kill the child, and some of the thin-blooded have reported fertility.
In any case, I found out that Grout had some experience with this interesting phenomenon. He told me that dampyrs are almost certainly always orphans, as the vessel that carries them is not meant to give birth. They are human-looking until some catastrophic event eases them from their humanity. If they do not know what is going on, they generally starve. They heal slowly... Does any of this sound familiar to you?"
His question was most certainly sarcastic, but he said it softly.
I nodded, stunned. I remembered the book at Grout's place, and hoped that perhaps it had somehow survived the fire. Maybe I could glean some more understanding from it. I still felt a bit like a science experiment, and it bothered me that Lacroix seemed to find me interesting instead of being as disturbed as I was.
"So you think the 'catastrophic event' was you draining me dry?" I asked him.
"Perhaps," he said, "It was a near-death experience after all."
"Well, that sucks," I said quietly.
I had a lot to think about after that. Sebastian must have sensed my need for space because he left me alone in the kitchen to ponder things.
I wondered if it was even true. Maybe there was another possibility. Still, the dampyr explanation seemed to fit so well.
I wondered if I would be able to go out in sunlight.
I wondered if I would live as long as normal vampires, or just have the lifespan of a ghoul.
Mostly, though, I wondered if I would die. Would I ever be able to eat anything again without vomiting? I didn't let Sebastian see as I, as quiet as anyone could, threw up the pancakes and bacon I'd eaten.
Dampyr, I thought as I was retching, What a fucking joke.
The End (Yes I'm serious. Go read part two.)