Timeline: Late March, 2008
Ann-Marie waited patiently on a bench for John outside of the hospital after one of his long shifts. She had called earlier and wanted to talk to him. She missed her brother for so long and for so many years, that spending time with him had become a joy. Talking, taking a walk, or playing music. With clubbing with Lyla, her relationship with Ironclaw, duties in Albany, her artwork and now Jesse; that time had become more precious. But what she had to ask him tonight was very important.
John saw the lone figure on the bench outside the hospital, as he came out stretching and yawning. He sat down beside her and said, “Hey there Ann-Marie, whats shakin’? You sounded pretty serious on the phone earlier.”
“Just was putting some thoughts together and well, after what that ex of Ramiel’s said about something terrible coming and rats and all that I wanted to ask you about a few things. That’s all.”
“Well, lets talk and walk, tell me whats on your mind.” John gave her a tight hug then started off homeward.
She hugged him back and held on to him like a sister would while they walked. “I have to share a few things about me you need to know. Emergency things. I believe you are the only one I can really go to on this. The others will help, I’m sure, but you Johnny, are family.”
“Of course, I’ll help Grace, just tell me what you need,” John said a serious expression comming over his face.
“Oh, don’t get so serious, you’ll get a lined face like Uncle Jerry,” she said, “what I need to do is teach you about kindred, my, biology. You should of course keep this to yourself.”
“You won’t get in trouble for this will you?”, said John.
“I doubt it as it is self-preservation, no one will know that I told you, and it only expands on what you already have experienced. As long as no one, including our friends for the most part, knows; things will be fine.” She continued, “You thought that Mark Hengis was killed with a stake in his heart,right?”
Well yea Grace, punching something through the heart of anything usually slows it down. And he didn’t have any vitals so I thought it killed him.
“And we like people thinking that, so don’t spread it around!” She joked, “But seriously he was put into a deep…well coma of a sort because of a wooden stake. The same can happen from massive bodily trauma. If you and I are in a situation fighting some Buffy want-to-be for instance and the little runt stakes me, all you have to do is pull the stake and voila, I’m back up. It’s the trauma I’m more worried about.”
Ok, so stakes don’t kill pull them out, What can I do about the trauma just make sure you don’t take any more and eventually you will recover?
“If I get ko’d I’ll seem dead. Bury or hide me away from the light for about two weeks and I’ll recover. For safety’s sake, somewhere remote, but near livestock or wild animals would be best.” said his vampiric sister. “If I am really killed, well let’s just say the years will rapidly catch up to me.”
“You go poof? I guess I will see about renovating the stables and getting some horses or milk cows. You do realize Grace if I have to start milking cows again you are going to owe me big time.” John said with a smile. “
“Well, obviously. But you are family, and I’d do the same for you. Rescue you that is and protect you. Basically I want to set up a hidden area only you know about where I can recover from this..coma. But, only for emergencies. We can discuss the details later on. There are a couple other things I want you to be aware of, one of which you really should think deeply on.”, said Ann-Maire.
“I know that Grace, I was just teasing.” A warm glow shone in John’s eyes, love for his sister. “I don’t know how hidden an area can be in a place that has mages unless you know a way of sheilding it from them. But we can set-up some places that I can take you to in case of emergency. So what eles do I need to know?”
“Well, it concerns you. I know the secret of creating my kind. I really don’t want to do so, not yet. But…” she paused, “…if you get mortally injured in this upcoming fight, or another battle along the way, I’d be honored to give you the gift, if you wish it. But only, only if there is no other choice. But should you wish simply to pass on, I’d understand. I’d be sad, like I was when Dad died and will be again and again over the centuries, but I thought I’d offer.”
John smiled and touched her face, I’m honored Grace, thank you. John gave her a tight hug. You’re right thats something I will have to think about. My gut instinct is to say No but it is a tempting offer. I won’t go gentle into that good night but when God calls,” John shrugs. I do appreciate the offer Grace, the main attractions is you not being so lonely though.
“Rediscovering what you lost makes you appreciate it more. You, friends, possible love (if it is possible I can love), direction and my own domain and controlling my destiny. All have come at the same time and I’m appreciative to the goddess and those around me for it. The longer I have these things the harder it will be to let go. I’m not used to it, having been a nomad for so long. Think on my offer Johnny.”
“Speaking of the future and kindred kind, I have a young woman moving in with me who will be helping me with various tasks. She amazingly enough discovered I was a kindred and despite it all wasn’t afraid. I was impressed. I’m giving her a job helping me sell some paintings and perhaps other tasks.”
“I’ll think about it Grace I promise. Grace, not to put to fine a point on it but since you’re just starting out in the art world, is she going to have enough to feed and cloth herself? I know Daniel is looking for some help and I think Ramiel is about to open his shop, you want me to ask around to see whats out there or will she earn enough to pay the bills? I can offer a commission to paint some pictures for my office, I meantioned it once before, might take the pressure off her to looke around if you have some money coming in. I know you have some money set aside but this might help her ease into her job if she’s not worried about making ends meet.”
“I’m not sure. I have a few things I can sell and part with to raise some money if I have to. We haven’t talked about exact amounts of payment and the like. But Johnny, I’m not a novice at the art world. I understand breaking in is very difficult for any creative profession, I did some publishing of my written work for a limited audience in the early 70s, but with time and talent I think we can succeed in creating something good. As far as Jesse, in the long run I want her working for me the majority of the time, but in the short run any job will do well. I’ll check around. Ramiel has a shop? Why doesn’t anyone ever tell me anything? On a more important note, no one has heard of where Lyla went and I’m getting really worried about her.”
“I was worried after the second day but she called Ramiel and said she was ok some bussiness had come up and she would be away for awhile. He seemed convinced it was she and she wasnt under duress or mind control. I’m sorry you were worried, I didn’t know you and Lyla were that close. I’ll try and keep you in the loop better. So whats this new girl’s name and when do I get to meet her?” John asked.
“We are good friends I suppose, but not incredibly close like some others she knows, but that was starting to change. I think she was coming to trust and believe in me. Ramiel, well we tried to talk once. It didn’t go well. I don’t believe he likes me much, probably due to me defying him the first time we went out. He may also blame me for the death of his baby, I don’t know. In any case, I didn’t think he’d tell me so I didn’t ask him. All of you living in the house have a group dynamic I cannot embrace, so I’m am outsider.
“One of the reason’s I’ve decided to bring Jesse, the new girl, in to my life is to have someone around to help me. Be a sister and friend who can do those things I can’t ask others to do. I can introduce her to you, perhaps once you meet her you might be able to get her a job? She has a degree in anthropology.”
John patted her hand, don’t worry about it Grace, some of the others have had bad experiences with your number, some of them have had good ones. I think that they just need to get to know you and learn to trust that if they need you, that you will help. So course most them them are amoung the most independent , self assured so-n-so’s on the planet. I honsetly don’t think Ramiel blames you for the loss of his N Lyla’s child. I think he is too busy blaming himself. If it makes you feel better sometimes I feel like an outsider too. If you need someone to help you and be a sister too I could set up a house and we could live together. I would hate for you to have to feel lonely. John was feeling little jealous of this Jesse person and silly for feeling jealous but you can’t help what you feel. I’m sorry I haven’t been spending enough time with you Grace, I will try and do better. I would love to meet this Jesse person and get to know her, I am sure that if you like her I will too. Once I talk to her I can see what type of job she wants to try until your art picks up and she is needed full time to …do…art stuff. How does an anthropology major end up here, is she interested in that dig to the north?
“I thought they closed that down? Something happened up there but I don’t know the details,” quizzed Ann-Marie.
“They did close it down. Some Professor from Cambridge I think it was closed down the dig for the season and then rumor has it seems to have run off with his assitant and a student. They kept it hushed up would have been quite a scandel.
“Anyway, why don’t I give you a thousand dollars as an advance on the paintings for my office. That should help with finances for awhile, we can talk about living arrangements some other time after you have time to think about it. I don’t want to cramp your style and I would hate to have a date over and bother you. Think about it okay maybe we can rig up a bat cave for you.” John laughs teasing Grace.
“Bat cave? Hah!” she smiled. “You know, despite it all I can’t turn into a bat. Other things yes, but a bat, that’s awful cliche.”
“Thats somehow disappointing on a vestigial level, do all the other vampires pick on you because you can’t turn into a bat?”
“No,” she laughed, “it’s something I suppose I could do if I really, really worked hard at it. But its not stylish, just boring. Speaking of coming over with a date, do you have that planned? Who’s the girl?”
“I don’t know if you have met her. I have been seeing the town’s librarian. I took her to the St. Pats party and she has been helping with some landscaping.”
“Hmm, you said you were going to bring me to the library, but it doesn’t tend to be open when I am out and about so it never materialized. What is she like?” said his elder sister.
“I like her. I like being with her. She makes me feel complete. She’s smart and funny, honest and sensitive. She’s well traveled, a good dancer. I think she may be the one. But I am afraid of pushing to fast. I want her to know me warts and all and I want to know her too. She has a temper. She’s secretive about some things and last but not least there is the age difference. Tell you what I will make a date with her and take her to the Blood and Brew and you can decide for yourself.”
“You don’t need my approval, but I’d love to meet her just the same. Your ‘niece’ you see only wants to see you happy. What is her name?”
“Her name is Alice Julian.”
“She’s younger than you. By how much…well actually it doesn’t matter. I’m old enough to be Ironclaw’s grandmother. If you both like each other, that’s the important thing. As far as you going too fast, well Johnny, I wouldn’t worry about that. Just be yourself, let your heart go, and your body will follow. It’s really simple actually if you just let go and don’t worry about it. Just have fun.”
John was just a little confused by Grace’s advice. After he thought about it for awhile he just looked at her and nodded his head and said, “Riiight”.
“You said you wanted her to like you for you warts and all. That’s what I’m saying. Just be you. I should know, I’ve made all the mistakes. But unlike you, for the most part I didn’t care if the person I saw stayed or left.”
“Well I hope you find that special person that you do want to stick around someday.”
“It… doesn’t work that way for me. I mean… wait a second, how did we end up talking about me?” She nudged her brother in the ribs a bit, “It’s your love life that is in the conversation, mine is just fine. So when do I meet Alice?”
John gave her a big grin, half amused, half kid-caught-in-the-cookie-jar. “Me thinks the Lady doth protest to much. How about this Saturday? I’ll ask her to go to Brew with me.”
“That sounds lovely. I can be there as your dutiful albeit artistic, classy and sometimes rebellious niece.”
“I’ll see you there now if you will excuse me I stinketh and must bath.”
“Goodnight Johnny.” She kisses him on the cheek and walks toward home.