Picnic in the park

"A picnic?" The words sounded so foreign to Alucard, as they spilled out of his very mouth. Once again, he found himself gazing uncertainly at his father as the vampire lord packed things neatly into a wicker basket. "Whatever for? You do not partake of mortal food, and I doubt—"

"That, Adrian, is your problem. You doubt," Dracula said, punctuating the last word in his statement as he gently laid a red and white checkered handkerchief atop the piled basket. Looping his arm around the braided wooden handle, he turned to face his son with a satisfied smile. "Simply cease your doubting, and you shall find the world to be a far more pleasant place."

The dhampire continued to doubt, though now his mind was also filled with concern for his father's mental health. True, the lord of the vampires' recent shift to veganism had brought them together again in a very peculiar way, but now he had these ideas

"To the park!" Dracula announced, throwing a dark portal before them and leading the way through.

A short time later, Alucard found himself sitting atop a large red and white checkered cotton sheet, which his father had insisted on laying atop the grass before they sat down. "You do realize that you live in a castle where the floors are far dirtier than this?" he asked.

"They're not that dirty," Dracula huffed back.

"Zombies drop chunks of their undead flesh everywhere," the dhampire pointed out blatantly.

For a moment, the lord of the night was silent. Then, he shrugged and nodded his head in agreement. "Very well, I shall concede that one to you."

"And yet, here we sit," Alucard sighed. "In a park. On a blanket."

"Indeed," Dracula agreed, removing the handkerchief from the wicker basket and perusing their options. For their enjoyment, he had packed several flavors of potions for them to consume. The brightly colored liquid greeted him from within their respective glass bottles as he debated which flavors might be Alucard's favorites. "Now will you have strawberry or kiwi flavored?"

"Kiwi, I suppose," Alucard sighed, accepting the electric green colored potion and sipping at it immediately. He knew that the sooner they finished, the quicker they could be done with his father's newest great idea. Last time, it had been fishing, and while that had admittedly been a better time than most he could remember with his father, he was still eager for this excursion to be done.

Dracula beamed at his son as they lounged in the mild nighttime air beneath the large canopy of trees in the park. The only other person here at this late hour was asleep beneath some newspapers on a park bench, so for all practical purposes they were alone.

Picnics. Another triviality given to him by that foolish blonde haired knight. How he hated answering the door to find Leon and Sara (especially Sara) waiting with their own overburdened wicker basket and foolishly large grins on their faces. Of course, Elisabetha had always been delighted to join them, which meant that he had to join them as well.

He was outraged at the time. Why should he have to waste a perfectly good afternoon sitting beneath some trees, taking hours to prepare, finish, and clean up a simple meal? It wasn't logical. There were far better things he could have done with his time.

Picnics had been a dreaded burden of his past, and yet, the lord of the night smiled at the memory now. Elisabetha would laugh at him, chiding him for the sour look on his face and force ham sandwiches on him, claiming that all of this was good for him.

And yet, as he sat here with Adrian, watching the same disapproving look on the face of his son that he himself used to wear, he found himself laughing. Maybe they were right. Maybe somehow it all did make sense.

Alucard, who was more than a little bit disturbed by his father's random outburst of (dare he say maniacal) laughter, arched an eyebrow at him. "I fail to see what is so funny."

After he had calmed down for a moment, the vampire chuckled in response, "there is no need to look so sour, Adrian."

"And what would give you the impression that I am sour?" the dhampire asked, practically chugging through the rest of his potion in an effort to leave as soon as possible.

Rather than answer that question, the lord of the night grinned. "Finished already? You must be hungry," he commented, plucking another potion from his basket and pushing it in his son's direction. "Don't eat too fast. You will give yourself a stomach ache."

Realizing that his ploy hadn't worked, Alucard placed the empty bottle to his side, accepted the new one, and scowled, "I simply do not see the logic in this decision. In the time we will undoubtedly spend here, we could have finished planting the remainder of the night garden."

"I dare say you are mistaken," Dracula defended quickly. "A garden takes a great deal of care to plant and maintain. One simply cannot rush the beauty of nature."

"Touché," the dhampire remarked, about to take another sip of his drink. However, as he was about to do so, something unexpected happened.

A lone bee began to hover around the lip of his potion bottle. Alucard frowned and shooed it away. However, only a few seconds later, the bee reappeared, this time followed by another. And another.

Soon, a cloud of curious bees circled around them, flying into Alucard's empty potion bottle and hovering around the others, trying to get to the sweet nectar inside.

Dracula began to panic. He knew that the bees could not physically harm them, but Adrian was obviously annoyed by their presence. Indeed, as he watched his son's expression carefully, the frown on his face grew deeper and deeper.

Perhaps a picnic wasn't the best idea after all. What if these bees refused to leave? What if Adrian decided to never go someplace with him again?

Flashes of that horrible time began to return to him. He dared not allow himself to think of those dark years when Adrian had left him, deemed him unworthy of being a father.

So unworthy that he had killed him. And yes, Dracula had let him, but he never forgave the humans, especially Trevor Belmont, for rigging that fight. By choosing Adrian as his ally, Trevor had won from the very beginning, for how could he ever bring himself to kill his son?

It had taken centuries for Adrian to finally accept him as his father again. He still remembered clearly that moment merely a week ago, one of the happiest moments in his undead life.

"Father?" Perplexed, Dracula wiped his eyes and accepted the gift from his son. "I thought you hated me… wanted to kill me…"

"I did," the half-vampire agreed, "but I have seen that you are not the man you once were. I think… I can finally accept you as my father again."

Beyond all, he treasured that moment. It made all the suffering at the hands of Leon's descendants and all those horrible deaths he had endured worthwhile. Since then, he had painstakingly worked to rebuild that broken bridge between them. He ignored his favored succubus, Saccubus, to spend time with his son. And even yesterday's fishing trip had ended well.

However, this, he had not counted on. Why was he so misfortuned as to have the scourge of bees cast at his attempt at a picnic? Would this menace bring them a step apart? After this, would Adrian want to abandon him again?

As the lord of the night sat and fretted, he nearly missed the low snarl from Alucard. After carefully setting the potion down, the dhampire shifted quickly to his bat form, flitting through the air at fantastical speeds.

Dracula watched with astonishment as the dark blur that was his son swooped through the air, emitting high pitched squeaks of fury, followed by a multitude of crunching sounds.

Less than a minute later, Alucard reappeared in his dhampire form on the picnic blanket, a somewhat unsettled expression on his face. Dracula was certain it was the lighting, but his son's porcelain complexion appeared a bit green. "Ugg…"

Dracula couldn't help but notice that all the bees were gone. He had to admit, he was proud of Adrian. With a smirk, he chided, "I told you not to eat too fast."

"I don't think I can finish this," the dhampire moaned, handing his father the remainder of his potion.

As the lord of the night accepted the potion, another memory came to him. A memory of five year old Adrian, sitting at the dinner table, pushing his unfinished plate of food over to his mother. To Lisa.

Dracula recalled frowning at the time, arguing with Lisa that their frail son would never grow up to be big and strong if he refused to finish his supper. She had only smiled and accepted the boy's plate, saying that Adrian had finished enough and would grow just fine regardless.

While the boy had always remained frightfully fragile in appearance, she had been right. Adrian possessed a strength that few dared to test and a mind unscrupulous enough to devour an entire swarm of bees.

He was finally beginning to see it now, the reason Elizabetha, Leon, and Sara all loved to go on picnics together. The reason that they always insisted that he come along too. They wanted him to take it easy and relax for once so that they could all spend a moment of peace together.

"I think… I shall take a short nap," Alucard murmured, already laying down on the picnic blanket and curling his legs closer to himself. Moments later, his eyelids fluttered shut, and Dracula could hear the steady beat of his son's heart slow even further as he drifted into a peaceful sleep.

With a smile, he set Adrian's potion bottle aside and lightly ran his fingers through the dhampire's soft hair. Yes, times like these were what made dreadful things like picnics worthwhile. To slow down time and spend even a few precious moments of contentment with Adrian was worth all the effort in the world.