Happy Accidents


“Do you need blood? Like right now?” I asked Jesper once he settled on the examination table. To get him here, it had taken multiple assurances to those left in the waiting room that I knew how to handle this and would take care. Of myself, I’m sure.

Lucy barely registered anything since she was replenishing herself; she was blood-zoned. Nick seemed to just accept that, for the most part, I had this. Before class, I had given him the Book to start reading through since much of my Vamp notes were scribbled in there along with the recollections.

It was Morena that looked at Lucy and then Jesper and then me. But before she could make the leap, I had flippantly said, “Let’s take care of that scratch, shall we?” and escorted him to one of the newly finished rooms.

“No,” was his simple answer and he took off the ruined shirt I had liked so much. I looked at those holes in his chest and marveled. He gave me a faint smile. He knew I didn’t believe him. But this was part of that game called Trust. And to receive, one must give. Or maybe he was shy about being exposed.

I looked down at the table. I should be thinking about what methods I knew to close up a wound like that. Blood. Whether some stitching would help close it. Blood. Maybe just a bandage.

A hand covered mine, warmer than it had a right to be. Jesper bent his head, trying to catch my gaze as I was zoning out.

“You seem distracted.’”

It had been only a short time ago when another vampire had spoken those same words to me during a session. But that was where the similarities stopped. I raised my gaze to look up at Jesper. He sat on the examination table, shirt off, two large gaping holes in the middle of his chest, bending his torso so as to better meet my gaze, his left hand covering mine, brows lowered in consideration, maybe even concern.

I must’ve looked shell-shocked. In the other room, another vampire, my long lost ward, was nearly burned to a crisp by a power I had never seen and two humans were trying to make sense of the dark and dangerous world that they had someone found themselves in. I’d had a game plan and it ended up with two injured vampires, one dazed human, and one that wanted any excuse to fire her pistol.

Moment of doubt? You bet.

His fingers curled around my hand, drawing my attention back down. He was looking down too.

“This didn’t quite go as you planned, I gather.”

I couldn’t even manage a laugh at the complete absurdity of that comment. But I realized he didn’t know how any of this was supposed to work. This was only our second official session. And our first session wasn’t in any way something I would deem as standard.

“No. I would never introduce two vampires like that. Or put two humans in harm’s way of that interaction.”

His grip tightened for a moment. “Three.”

I looked up at him, questioning.

“You didn’t include yourself. You could’ve been hurt far worse than you were." He paused. “I’m not quite sure what that was that I did.”

And there it was in his face, his own self doubt. His eyes slide to the floor for a moment as he took a deep breath. I wrestled with what my appropriate response should be. This so wasn’t like any other consult I’d done before. He lowered his guard in ways that lowered mine but still managed to tell me almost nothing. I should be finding ways of building up a professional dialog between us so he would trust me with his fears, open up, allow me to help him.

Instead, I squeezed his hand in return to encourage him.

“I don’t know what’s happening to me,” he whispered. “First the dreaming, then the waking during the day, now this.”

It was the slightest thing, like a switch turned on in some dark room in a very old unkempt and untidy building in a decaying ghost town hidden away in the woods. Suddenly there was purpose, decision, forethought…light.

My back straightened slightly and my demeanor made a shift. It wasn’t Shields Up per say. Just the focus shifting away from what I wanted, needed to what needed to be done.

“You’ve never shown that…that power before?”

"No,” he said softly still lost in his own mind. But he was Vampire; it didn’t take him much to notice the difference in me. He raised his head slightly which allowed me to straighten up completely. Our hands lost touch as if nothing had happened. “Never.”

“Do you remember what you said?”

“Um, funny, I can’t.”

“It was Russian.” I stepped away from the table and went over to the cabinet, pulled out my standard examination bag. I brought it over and set it on the table next to him. Then I stared at his chest. “Does it hurt?”

A confused look furrowed his brow before he glanced down at his chest. He seemed to have forgotten all about the two holes in his chest that showed no signs of healing. No bleeding either. “Barely notice it now. It hurt a lot at first.”

“Good, that’s pretty standard. Your brain can more effectively turn off pain receptors where needed.” I opened the bag and started pulling out a few objects: measuring tape, a strip of Velcro, a small jar of cornichons.

He watched me patiently. “You’re not going to make me eat those, are you? I think the lemon was quite enough.” He smirked. It was good to see him so bemused with me, especially after we’d just been so, ur, intimate, a few moments ago.

“No.” I grabbed the notepad out of the bag and jotted down a note. “I’m more impressed with your complete lack of allergy to silver.”

“Oh. That.”

“Ever had a problem with it?”

He scrunched up his face in a way that was, frankly, adorable. “Um, not that I can remember currently.”

I smiled. Vampires had particularly keen memories, when unfolded. It was time to impress upon him that this really wasn’t my first rodeo. “Do you use a journal or a talisman to fold your memories?”

“I’m sorry.” It was like I had slapped him awake. I had caught him off-guard.

“Vampires jealously guard their memories but also need a way of folding them away for safe keeping to leave room for more current ones. Most vampires use either a writing method or a prayer method, like rubbing a talisman, to gain the focus to fold the memories in their minds with a mental key that they can use to unlock later.”

His face went blank. “That’s a very closely guarded secret of our kind. Where did you get that information?”

“The same place I found out about how different vampires are allergic to different metals.” That stirred a nightmarish thought in black velvet that I cast aside. “You obviously are not bothered by silver, which is very unusual. If you had been allergic, Lucy would have –.”

“I suppose yes, she might have killed me.” A look passed across his face that assured me otherwise. If Lucy had been any greater threat, she would be dead right now. As it stood, she was probably still alive by his intention because of her obvious bond with me. And perhaps, by happy accident, because I had gotten in the way.

I put down the book and took up the measuring tape, not wanting to think anymore about anyone’s death. Mine, his, or Lucy’s.

He continued, “Are you examining me?”

I sighed, “Well, yes. How else am I to diagnose what is happening to you?”

He seemed disappointed. “Oh. I just thought you wanted me with my shirt off.”

I still blushed. “Come on,” holding up the measuring tape.

“And what do you hope to measure with that? Before you answer, it is a bit chilly in here.” He paused for a moment. “But if you keep leaning in like that, I don’t think that’ll matter.”

In any other circumstance, with any other vampire, I would’ve jumped back once he’d called attention to the fact that I was leaning against him and reaching up with the measuring tape towards his mouth. But I was already well aware that Jesper was not like any other vampire.

But the tape did make him uncomfortable. He tightened his lips even as his instincts flexed his fangs out slightly. I tried to get the tape aligned but he moved his head away.

“Come on now,” I said, lowering the tape. “Fang out for me. I need to measure.”

“No.”

“Why not?” I put a hand on my hip. This sudden shyness about I Am Vampire was startlingly endearing.

“Why does the length of my fangs have to do with anything?”

I scratched my brow. “Historically, vampire strains have been hidden in everything from local legends about demons to kung fu movies about hopping corpses. I never know what reference material is going to equate to some yet-to-be-determined strain of vampire. You are unique. Your strain isn’t likely to be in the Vampire Encyclopedia.”

He crossed his arms. “Even if there were such a book, why would my strain help any of this?”

I couldn’t tell if he was being obstinately charming or charmingly obstinate. If he was truly worried about my cataloging him, he hid it well under very normal self consciousness.

I spoke in my most professional and serious voice. “I won’t tell anyone what I learn or use that information in any way without your consent.” I put my hand to my talisman since he still seemed dubious. “Jesper, I promise.”

His eyes fixated for a moment on the infinity symbol over my neck. It was a classic subtext, one that he must be well aware of. An offer of blood (my throat) if I broke my vow. His eyes flipped up to mine again.

“Well, ok. But can’t we start with some other test? I don’t fang out, as you say, on command.”

“What? Like foreplay?” I joked before I could filter the thoughts and therefore words out. Blushing again.

“You don’t like foreplay?” He looked amused and surprised all at once.

Oh so not professional. Damn him and his facial expressions. Most vampires looked like they had too much Botox when they spoke, with immovable faces. I tried to hide my reddening face. Stupid, he could not only see but smell, almost taste the blood rushing into the capillaries in my cheeks, face, now neck even.

I handed him the pickle jar. “Here. Open this.” He did so without issue and idly set it back down on the table, lid loosened but not off. I paused to write that down. “Pull this apart,” handing him the Velcro. He examined it for a moment, ripped it apart gently, paused to stare at me, then set each strip separately also to the side.

I grabbed the box of flat toothpicks out of the bag and “accidentally” dropped it on the floor. When he moved to get off the table to pick them up, I gently pushed his chest to stop him and watched him settle back on the table with a shrug.

“Ok, now fangs.”

“That was your idea of foreplay?” He rolled his eyes. As the long, thin, elegant fangs slid down from his mouth, he said, with very little impact to his speech, “I will remember to teach you a few things about that if given half a chance.”

“It’d better be more than half,” I idly commented as I again leaned forward with my measuring tape.

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