Class is in Session


Whatever expectations I had in seeing Jesper the vampire again, he certainly shattered them.  First, he was exactly on time.  To the dot.  Secondly, he was taller than remembered.  Much taller.  And it unnerved me just as much as his charcoal grey knit turtleneck that his physique seemed to be trying to tear itself out of.

Dumbfounded is I think the exact word to describe me standing in the doorway, staring up and up at him.

“Ah, Miss Quinn, uh Sophie.  I hope I’m not late.”

Shook my head mutely.

“Well, I do like to be punctual.”  Nearly rakish smile suddenly muffled into sheepishness as he laughed.

Nod my head slowly.

“Just a little vampire humor.  Break the ice.”

“Uh-huh.”

Still standing in the doorway, he let his eyes peer in through the halfway opened door I still barred him from entering.   “Look, Sophie, I would like to apologize to Morena personally, although how she would ever agree to see me again, I have no….”

Morena opened the door wide behind me.  I just stared.  He was taller, wasn’t he?  And his hair, was it always so golden?  What color were his eyes, blue, green, I couldn’t quite remember?  His voice….aaaarghhhh!!!  Frustrating, this damn attraction.

“Hello, Jesper, good of you to come,” Morena said, without any such distraction.

“Morena,” he said surprised.  “I know I have a lot of explaining to do…”

She kicked the door wider, “Then come explain it to us.”  She then turned on her heel and heading back to the far wall, cross her arms and leaning a shoulder against it, daring him to enter.

He turned back to me.  “Will you invite me in?”

Our gaze met and suddenly he knew that I knew that invitations aside, any vampire could walk into any home unbidden.  And that awareness prompted the corner of his mouth to turn up.  He was testing and teasing me.

“Oh, come on in.”  I managed, now turning surly from wanting to do something so entirely different with him at this moment.

As he glided by me, he dropped his mouth near my ear and whispered, “Is it right to keep that one to ourselves?”

He was right of course and his reminding me of the reason I had gathered all us together at my office worked like throwing ice water with fire sand on me.  Time to get my head back in the game and go to work.

But before I closed the door behind him, my attention was draw for a moment by a cacophony of birds in the sky:  several starlings overhead were badgering a bald eagle.  Yeah, the national symbol bald eagle.  It was the first one I could remember seeing…in any lifetime.  And it seemed to be quite harangued by the inky black birds.  Whether a dispute over territory or food, the eagle seemed to be moving off to fight another day.

I shut the door behind me and looked over this motley crew.  Morena, leaning against the wall and trying very hard not to look at Jesper.  Nick, sitting on the settee with a laptop, ready to take notes.  Jesper the vampire, who took in every corner of the room before leaning back against my desk.

I walked to the whiteboard we’d put up in the front of the room and took up a marker, just to have something to grip.  “First off, vampires do not require your permission to enter a place.”

Nick sagged, “Oh, really?”  He started typing frantically.  “I was kinda hoping that one was true.”  He threw a spurious look at Jesper but said nothing else.

Jesper folded his arms and revealed more well-defined guns than I’d previously noticed.  Biceps were a failing of mine.  I took the cap off and wrote on the board, stabbing it as I did.  Something was different about him like I hadn’t quite met him before.  It was bugging me that I couldn’t figure it out.

I turned toward him with the question in my throat but paused.  Wouldn’t Morena notice too?  I mean, she’d been with him for longer than I.  I mean, been with him.  A-hum.  I felt my face flush.

“Yes?” he asked since I was staring right at him.

“Would you like to say something before we begin?”

“Um, no.  Let’s just see where this leads.”  His face became suddenly impassive and I could tell the guard was going back up.  His arms tightened, his neck muscles twitched in alert.  So strange how he’d gone from totally relaxed to alert mode.  When I looked back at the others, his eyes did another scan of the room, as if he sensed something.  But nothing was there and he settled his eyes on Morena for a brief moment for returning them back to me.

Senses.  Perfect place to start.

“First off, it is true that vampire senses are sharper than almost any other creature.”

Nick typed and then stopped.  “Wait, there are other kinds of creatures?”  There was an edge of panic there.

Jesper shook his head once.  “You have no idea.”

“Nick.  Focus.”

“Sorry.”  He thought for a moment.  “So what, like, hearing, seeing…smelling?”

“You might want to have a little less mirin in your udon,” Jesper suggested.

Nick didn’t blink.  “Yeah, it was too salty too.  I need to talk to Khang about that…Wait, you can tell I had udon?  That was two days ago!  You shitting me?”

“He can smell it in your skin, your blood,” I explained.

Morena and Nick looked ready to bolt.  I needed to bring this back a piece.  Jesper was a particularly old vampire and very special…in many ways.  Using him as a prime example would just not do, in any regard.

“Not all vampires have senses that…sharp…”

“Or discerning…” he added, causing me to throw him a glare.  He was preening over there, like some high school jock showing off his letterman jacket.

“But these are the basics you need to always remember so you don’t ever try to, well, trick a vampire.  He will be able to sense it.”

“Not to mention the fact it’s just rude,” Jesper added for color.

Morena, who had started biting her lip, looked like she wanted to say something.

“Morena?  A question?”

It drew Jesper’s attention.  She tossed her eyes to him then back at me, uncertain.  “What…what about healing?”

Jesper’s head turned back around but showed his displeasure.  He and I had not yet discussed the vampire attacks I’d suffered and as far as he knew, Morena had not been harmed.  I think the simple fact that he hadn’t approached her sniffing like a guard dog showed that the twins were able to mask their smells and auras quite effectively.

I ignored him.  “Vampires are difficult to injure.  But I don’t want to start there.  That’s not the point of this session.  I know of all this may seem unimaginable, overwhelming, and frightening.  And you need to know what you’ are dealing with.  But not to fight back, not to injure, but to keep yourselves out of those situations.  Most vampires are hard to provoke because using their abilities makes them vulnerable to disclosure and they prefer to stay hidden.”

Morena shook her head violently.

“I know it may be hard to believe but if you don’t walk into their lairs, if you avoid them, if you deal straight-forward with them, like you would a bear or a tiger in their element, you can stay safe.  And that’s what I want.  I want you all to know enough to be able to avoid confrontations.”

Jesper looked even more uncomfortable, his eyes shifting around, but his body was completely still.  I should have known this class would’ve had this reaction on him.  Unsettling to hear yourself described like a wild animal.

Morena and Nick looked unconvinced.  “Ok, some basics.  Let’s cover what vampires can’t do.  There’s actually quite a lot that has been ascribed to them that’s false.  Invisibility, turning into a bat, flight…”

Jesper perked up.

“What?” I asked.

“Oh nothing.  Just…interesting…that last bit.”

Then his lips curled in a smile.  I crossed my arms, annoyed.

“If you’ve got something to add, please, go right ahead.”

“I didn’t say a word.”

“Vampires can’t fly.”

“Yes, you’ve made that abundantly clear.”  I couldn’t put my finger on Jesper’s behavior.  He seemed bemused by my vamp facts, but every so often, he’d obviously stretch out his senses and go still as a statue, as if picking up a threat.  But right now, there was no threat, not exactly.  His eyes were boring into me.  And they were starting to glow.

“Oh, shit.”

He unfolded his arms, dropped his smile and took a step towards me.  “What?”

He was standing facing away from the others, luckily.  When I began to shake my head, my mouth falling open at his eyes changing color, he suddenly was at my side, his arm reaching out for mine, concern all over his face.  I’m sure he meant to lightly grasp my arm to force me to look at him, nothing intended.  But that’s not what the murder of crows that suddenly descended on him thought he intended.

“Get away from her, you basilisk fuck!” Lucy spat as she materialized in mid-kick, wielding a sharpened spear, aiming it right for Jesper’s heart.

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