Archive for tea

The Proper Recollection of Tea

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , , on April 22, 2012 by vampirony

He watched with amusement as she gracefully turned the tea pot around with both of her dainty gloved hands, then took it up by the handle now facing her, and began to pour into his empty cup. When he lifted his eyes to her face, her normally smooth brow was furrowed in concentration. It teased the corner of his mouth into a smile. When she was finished pouring and her mind free to move on to other things, he watched an imperious eyebrow shoot up.

“It’s not just all the damnable coffee. They don’t even sit for high tea here let alone offer it with milk! Barbaric!” The tea pot absorbed her mood when she set it down with a thunk.

The smile fully flourished.

“Now, now, don’t be fussy,” he told her in a voice that held more admiration than reproach.

Her bottom lip pouted as she then poured the favored white liquid from a cow shaped vessel into her cup, leaving his plain. He wasn’t sure why she still insisted on pouring tea for him when he never drank it but there were manners, he supposed, so ingrained as to be habit. And he liked this habit of theirs although it had changed all of a sudden.

Most times they took tea in a dark corner of the cold and antiquated library. She never mentioned minding although there was an aloofness there that would eventually give rise to the same old discussion. The library itself had brightened several years back, as if someone had just returned to a summer house and was going through the process of uncovering the rooms and airing them out, with the library being the last to tackle.

The way the light in the hallway just beyond the door would grow, sometimes by feet, sometimes by inches, was often a topic of conversation. He could tell that she was nervous after all these years waiting. “What if she doesn’t like me?” she’d asked one particularly cold morning when a storm beat against the leaded library windows. “Maybe that’s why she never comes in here.” He’d assured her that it would happen and who wouldn’t adore her as he did. She’d worry her bottom lip, like she was doing right now, before changing topic. She’d wondered why it was rainy that day. And cold, so very cold.

But this morning, they had arrived here as if in a dream and it was bright and sunny. And definitely not the library. Their table and chairs sat on a cobbled patio just outside the house, the table an old round mahogany three legged number covered in a bright white lace cloth. The service was white bone china with traditional blue design; the pattern of most particular interest was a fire breathing dragon of Chinese variety.  Overall, the entire setting was stylish and economized, food set out but only just enough for one.

Above them, the expanse of an oak’s canopy shielded then from the indeterminate light and nearby a grand horse chestnut tree delicately bloomed in white and pink glory. All along the side of the house, the garden was in bloom and flowers buzzed with insects where the light bathed them. He could even smell the moss in between the cobblestones and the gentle perfume from a lilac bush somewhere.

That all would have been remarkable enough if somehow this little oasis was not situated just stone’s throw from a large tightly bound wooden crate. The edges of their tea garden reality didn’t reach to the crate; it stood in solemn stark white silence with one notable oddity. It sat under a tree laden with large yellow fruit.
She picked up her saucer and stirred her tea, that eyebrow still perilously arced above her critical eye as she turned her head slightly toward the crate just opposite them.

“I don’t really understand what she sees in him.”

His smile faded.  He knew they were bound to get to that but he had been hoping they could enjoy their surroundings a bit more. He was rather enjoying it himself. It had been a very long time indeed. And never in a garden such as this.

“Dear,” he let whatever passed for Vox in this place sweeten his words, “it is for her to decide. You know that.”

She set the saucer back down, the china clinking loudly. “Well, I don’t see why he gets to rearrange the furniture." She then swooped in with steely utensils for a scone with clotted cream, slapping the cream onto her plate. “And what’s our lemon tree doing there outside instead of in the greenhouse? Traitorous fruit!”

He leaned forward and covered her hand clutching the knife as she struggled to control the emotions all over her face. It had been a long time that she had been bottled up inside and she, of course, wanted to run about freely across the whole of the estate. But knowing her, she would try running things as soon as any measure of freedom was realized.

That was why he had long ago taken her to the basement, to the darkest corner of that forbidding place and shown her who dwelled there.  When she had recovered from the shock and asked him how it had happened, he had had to explain the danger of too many memories kept too close to the surface without rules. It would drive her mad.

As was often the case, his tenderness toward her made her more vulnerable and gave rise to glistening eyes. “It’s not fair. I haven’t had any time with her. I want to speak with her. I have so much to tell her.”

He reached into his jacket pocket and retrieved a handkerchief. But as she looked up at him, he moved closer and brushed the tears from her cheek with his thumb, cupping her face. She smiled meekly and covered his hand with her own.

Then he watched her eyes turn calculating and steeled himself against the barbed comment that was to come.

“Dan never got to rearrange the furniture. He never even got into the house.”

He pulled his hand away and sat back with a shake of his head. She was just starting on this topic, if history was to prove. “Darcie…”

She picked up a napkin and dabbed at her eyes. “Dan never even recognized our existence. Ridiculous soulless man! To think he’s raising our daughter without supervision. Poor child probably doesn’t even know what real tea is!” She snapped the napkin as punctuation.

“Exactly my point, love. She is living her life. We must let her do that. It is her lifetime. We must stand at the ready and be prepared when she needs us.” The words were direct but necessary. Darcie knew the dangers, had seen the results, and completely agreed with the compromise. She just needed reminding from time to time.

“I know my duty. I am prepared.” Darcie shot him a steely look. “Do you think I comb through every article we’ve ever read and have written whole books full of hypotheses just to pass the time?” Her face softened in a way he loved to watch. She smiled sheepishly. “Well, I suppose I do. Mostly.” The sheep turned to wolf.

“We’ve found other ways to pass the time here. Can we not enjoy this brilliant day as well as our tea?” he asked fervently. Then, with a bit of a sulk, he added. “I’m beginning to think you grow tired of me, old decrepit thing that I am.”

She could arc an eyebrow just as well as he. “I’ll not let you derail my thoughts to that particular…bend.” Her eyes gainsaid her words.

The growing light hadn’t yet reached through the canopy of leaves above them but a few dapples of it fell upon his face, warming his cheek. They exchanged a smile knowing there was no hurry here; other dalliances could wait until after tea. He leaned his head back, hopeful. 

“We do enjoy our time together here, don’t we?” he asked her.

“Oh yes, Val, I’ll never disparage that.” She went back to her tea, sipping at it.

Confident in her admission, he pressed on. “Things are in motion. Great change is coming. She will need both of us again very soon, I feel. This puzzle he presents will require our full facilities.”

She stopped mid-sip, pulling the tea cup from her lips. “A puzzle indeed. But first some things need to be set aright.”

Valerian tilted his head at Darcie, wondering what she was on about now with that wicked smart schoolmarm look on her face. “Whatever do you mean?”

“Leave it to you to forget that the foundations of scientific inquiry are based on fact. I’ll put it down to your romantic sensibilities.” He laughed at that. She set down her tea and began straightening the silverware. He admired how her hands had to absentmindedly fiddle as she worked out a problem.

When she continued, the jilted scientist was back. “In fundamental ways, she has constructed her own memories despite us. It’s easy for you to say to wait patiently when I’m the one who has to dodge her constructed simulacra of me floating around the halls like forgetful ghosts, mute about the truth of things. You don’t even appear to her at all here, just a shadow that falls in corners and down hallways that she avoids, a page in that book that terrifies her. It’s all fine for us to try and ignore her altogether until I stumble into her direct thinking and have to stand by helplessly while you jump into the nearest cupboard to avoid being seen. What help can we provide her when she disremembers so much? No, we must air out these halls before she can access the library or all her theories will be based on error.”

Jilted was right. But adored as well. Protective to the last. Of him. He sat in awe of it, how this other self could be readying to wage a campaign of clarification on his behalf. He even saw her nostrils flare as she grabbed hold of a knife and struck at the heart of the scone as if to emphasize. It made him worry a little over what she might do, what ripples of recollection might break through to the surface.

“You have forgotten, dearest, she has come to believe you murdered me!” Darcie continued with zeal. “And that cannot stand!”

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The Price of Tea

Posted in Fiction, Vampirony, writing with tags , , , on July 12, 2011 by vampirony

The smashed tea pot was Chinese, from Yixing, thousands of pots of tea brewed into the pot until the purple clay had so absorbed the flavors that one need only add water to get the flavor. It was a terrible waste. Not that either Valerian or I cared in that moment as his fingers brushed through my tousled hair.

The office was tucked into a far corner of the laboratory, a converted warehouse where our scientific and paranormal research could be conducted with no interruption from curious neighbors. The added benefit of the warehouse was that while it had been boarded up tight so no light could leak in, steam machines roared to produce the electricity that ran through the building, casting a wondrous orange glow around. Valerian often said it made me look like I wore a halo.

After another long embrace, our skin damp and clinging together, he laid back on the small cot, arm tightening around me. I nestled against him, head on his chest, hand in his, catching my breath. The pot on the floor seemed to catch both of our attention simultaneously. I heard him chuckle, the movement shaking his chest and me along with it.

"Well, another splendidly failed experiment. But admittedly, if all failed experiments ended like this, I will have to adjust my success criteria."

As much peace as I felt right now, I had worked very hard to try and synthesize the right dosage of juice and tea. His seizure was both unexpected and intense. I hadn’t know what else to do but push him onto the cot and try to hold him down, pushing a wooden dowel into his mouth to keep him from choking. The panic I’d felt was gone now but the memory of the failure was profound. I pushed myself up, looking down at him.

"Yes, but how do you feel, Val?" I caressed his face, the cuts around his lips already healed where he’d struggled against the dowel. My fingers traced his lips.

He raised one inky eyebrow at me. He could do that."You ask me that after what we’ve just done?"

My hand moved to his chest. I asked, exasperated, "You feel no relief at all? I was certain adding the lime juice in that concentration would have a calming effect. Lind’s work with scurvy in the Royal Navy seemed to be so promising."

He could tell I was disappointed. "I cannot tell if it’s the antiscorbutic….or if it’s you that effects the change."

I blushed before catching all he said. “So you do feel something!” I was excited. He had never before admitted that my silly experiments with what I had deemed sun-starvation had any impact on his vampire self. I was beaming with feminine pride when I leaned over him. "Hmm, perhaps if we didn’t work so hard at confounding the results of said experiments, we could isolate the change agent."

But there was a difference in his kissing after some tea, whether he admitted it or not. His lips were softer and while his mouth sought more, his arms more insistent, it was more to persuade, to intoxicate me into loosening my laces, sliding fabric gently aside so he might touch me more. So while it hadn’t really been my intention to make him into a more tender lover by curing his sun-starvation, I felt the full benefits of it.

With the slightest pressure of his hand cradling my head as we kissed, I felt him push my face gently up and away from him, his eyes boring into mine. I was pleased with myself. His eyes searched mine but still, I hadn’t unlocked that look although I’d begun to see it more and more lately.

Instead of the open emotions that had roamed his face more often, a mask of appraisal clouded his brow. "My darling girl, you need a man you don’t need to fix."

I rolled my eyes. Crossing my arms over his chest, I commented in a huff, "We all need fixing in some measure." My fingers played with the buttons of his undone shirt.

His large cold hand covered both of mine. Again, with the eyebrow. "You’re not ever going to cure me of vampirism, Darcie. It is what I am and where I belong."

I hated when we talked about this, his vampire world. He had worked hard to keep it so separate from me from the beginning. I knew he had a vampire family, what he called a horror. He told me he kept me away from them to protect me. They were unruly, his brood. "Whatever made you think I was trying to cure you of that?" Still not looking him in the eyes.

"I know you. And I know that as much as I treasure these fleeting moments with you, I will never satisfy you.” He lifted my chin, forcing me to look at him. “I am not what you are searching for. And no matter your skills, you cannot fashion me into whatever it is you seek.”

It was just like him to completely misunderstand my efforts and to put a damper on my accomplishments. Whether there was any truth to his words was irrelevant. It was more a matter of the change in his demeanor that he seemed to be fixating on how I thought of him as vampire than it was my wish to change that about him. It was his very vampiric nature that made me feel I could help him, that I was uniquely qualified to find him some balance.

My lip must’ve been sticking out as I pouted because he lifted his head and used his tongue to caress that lip away from the other so he might enjoy another deep kiss. And when he did such things, I forgot all my cares and in some dark part of my heart, I began to fear the day when I couldn’t help him anymore. His fingers brushed my throat until his kisses lead there too and I felt a jolt flow through me remembering his teeth sinking in and the feeling of eternity clawing out of me. I wondered if his fangs would appear now as they often did when we engaged in our scandalous behavior. I waited for him to bite me.

But this was not that day as he sighed, completely satisfied, and sunk back against the cot. “Although, I confess I will miss it when you cease your efforts." His arms wrapped even tighter around me, his hand cradling my head as I relaxed against his chest. Listening to his relaxed breathing and feeling not the warmth exactly of another human being, but instead the strength and electricity that moved all through me wherever his body touched mine. And at this point, there wasn’t much in the way of clothing left between us.

I caressed his chest, my hand moving lower. I didn’t want him to be anything but his best self. But at what point this dark angel would find me lacking, keeping me separated from the world that was his, that he surely ruled, now that was another matter entirely.

"Then perhaps we should endeavor to not make these attempts so brief. Fleeting moments indeed. You’ve made me a ruined woman in appearances, Val. You might as well ruin me completely. Again."

And my heart hammered as we once again put anatomical pursuits ahead of scientific ones.

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My heart beat like the sound of the hoof beats that approached the tent. At any moment we could be found out. The caravan, while it had been travelling for days and had orders to leave our cart and our tent allow under strict order of the Sultan, was now a long way away from Kostantiniyye. But the hooves stilled and so did any doubt that it was the horses and not the fingers stroking just there below my veil that caused my heart race.

“Jesper! Shhh!” I complained, trying very weakly to still his hands.

“Indeed, shhhh,” he murmured and caught at my mouth. I gave into him completely as there was nothing for it. Even if we were disturbed, his growing abilities to charm the intruder would have them leaving the tent wondering why they’d come, even as they saw us here, my sitting in Jesper’s lap on the rug and pillows with my veil unwound around us, my red hair tumbling down.

His charm wasn’t the only ability in which his cock sure attitude was apparent. He’d boasted just this morning that he’d spent the full afternoon under the scorching sun helping the captain of our expedition to find water. But I wasn’t currently concerned about his divining besides how his hands, one still wrapped in bandages, managed to remove my salvar trousers with little assistance from me.

I pulled my lips away, “Jesper.” There, I said it. Now I had no idea why, his hands moving to push my tunic over my head. When he’d swept into the tent after his nightly sojourn, it had been most of the day since I’d talked with him, and we both seemed particularly needy tonight. As the tunic came over my head, so was I over any hesitation, pushing him back against the rug. He hummed in appreciation for my newly found enthusiasm.

It wasn’t fair. He’d come in perfectly naked and yet I still had yards of fabric between us that I struggled with. I never hated our palace garb more than now. He seemed oblivious to my frustration, just enjoying how I was moving against him in trying to free myself.

“All day without you. All day without you in full sun and not able to share it with you until now.” He marveled, his mouth finding a particularly sensitive crease in my neck.

I couldn’t help but smile as he helped rid me of the last stitch of fabric. “Mmm, Kemal would not have appreciated it much if this was how we celebrated your first midday sun.”

Jesper’s warm amber eyes glowed as he looked up at me playfully. “No?”

“No,” I shook my hair out over him and he cupped one side of my face with his good hand. I put my hand over his and then pulled his other bandaged hand up to look at. The Sultan might indeed be benevolent in most cases to this strange visitor from the North, but there were limits to his patience. The dropping of the Valide Sultan’s favorite tea set, smashing it to bits by his reckless fit, had brought a severity that had surprised me.

“Oh, something else for you to see.”

I looked at him confused as he unwrapped his hand, showing four perfect fingers and one thumb, the skin tan and new. He turned his hand in front of me so I might fully appreciate it. Two days ago, back at the Palace, I had wrapped his hand myself after his smallest finger had been amputated to protect the rest of his charred fingers.

I touched his hand, grasping it in both of mine. I pressed it to my lips, smelling none of the decay from two days ago. I met his eyes, “It has regenerated? This is amazing.”

“You still believe I am no demon?” His eyes held a doubt. It was the old one, the one that he would not, could not let go of.

“My heart, you are no demon. You are one of the Djinn. Sacred,” I kissed his thumb. “Kind,” another kiss. “Noble, wise, immortal.” Each finger, I kissed in kind, until he cupped his hand behind my head and drew me down to him.

It wasn’t until much later, as I held him and watched him dozing, that I felt the fear growing. If the Sultan knew that his strange Northman who had wandered out of the forest to save him from a runaway horse was capable of such miracles, what would he do? Would he see him as the sacred Djinn and revere him? Or brand him an Ifrit, an evil demon, and cast him into some ritual sacrifice?

Or worse, would the Sultan, upon finding out that a guest at his palace, an emissary, was taking liberties with one of his wives, however married for political and intellectual convenience, seek greater retribution than a burned hand and a chopped off finger?

I clutched him, partially rousing him so that he wrapped his overly warm body around mine to stave off the evening chill. Hours spent under the fierce Persian sun now emanating from him like he was some smoldering star. I whispered it to him and the kisses that followed did much to reinforce my thought. I would have to write it in his book. He’d like that.

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The suckiest part of waking up out of a dead faint is the disorientation and the general sense that nothing is right in the universe. And I didn’t want to wake up. I couldn’t remember if I’d dreamed or recollected but whatever it had been, my lips still tingled from it.

So imagine my disappointment when I finally sat up in bed, hand to my pounding head, to see Skovajsa sitting there at the edge of my bed with flowers and a bottle of wine.

“Fuck!”

His brow furrowed.

“I said that out loud, didn’t I?”

He didn’t bother to nod. Universe 2, Vampire Psychologist 0.