Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Shared Accommodation

Rachel’s house wasn’t anything special; but she had inherited it from some family a few years ago. Jonah lived in the basement as it had been empty for around a decade and so he didn’t see the harm in just using that part of the house for his needs.  However, when he saw her removal van from the bottom window, he knew that he may have some problems; she might want to use this area for storage.  This meant he might have to move.  He looked around at his meager belongings and figured he could be out within the week if he had to move quickly.
After a few months, it was obvious that the woman who moved in was not going to use the basement for anything.  The laundry, kitchen and everything else she needed was upstairs.  He didn’t think she knew that the basement existed.  Didn’t she ever wonder where that door led to by the garage?  If so, why didn’t she open it?  If not, why not?
In any case, Jonah was as comfortable as a vampire could be in a house from the turn of last century.  He could come and go as he pleased and enjoyed the fact that the woman most probably didn’t know he existed. 
When in fact, she knew quite well he did; she just didn’t have the cold heart to push him out on the street.  You’re probably wondering how she knew.  He came home from a night’s hunting and found a plate covered in foil on the table with a bottle of red wine next to it.  There was a knife and fork wrapped in a serviette and a bun; also wrapped in foil.  He knew his hiding place was found out.  Then, it occurred to him that she was sitting in a darkened corner of the basement waiting for him; but as he looked around, he found he was alone.
Jonah lifted the foil over the plate and found a beautifully cooked vegetarian pasta dish he would have devoured in his human days; even if it was cold, it would have been delicious.  He didn’t know what to do with it.  So, he recovered it and put it in the fridge on the next shelf below his blood bags until he’d find the next time she was out of the house for the night; which wasn’t very often.  He’d often hear her watch dvds, play the piano and just listen to music; and did she have great taste in music!  It was so good to have somebody in the house who wasn’t out to destroy it.  At the same time, Jonah wondered what she was going to do with the place as he sometimes watched her from the low windows as she tidied up the yard and dug up the old garden beds to plant new and beautiful plants.  He could see she was going to care for the place.

One evening, after Rachel had retired after a long day in the garden and a light meal for dinner, he thought to go upstairs to make sure she had locked up properly.  He knew what it was like to be tired and forget to lock one door; and that one door could let in the worse kind of people.  He raced up the stairs and quickly opened the basement door and let himself into the darkened house where he could already heard something was amiss.  He was too late to stop anyone getting in as he looked to his left and found the back door wide open.  Without moving, with a furious thought, he made the door slam and lock in one swift move. 
At the sound, he heard somebody in the living room curse, “Shit man, what was that?”
“Dunno, don’t care.  Come on, unplug that, help me.”  Came a second voice.
Jonah quietly walked through the hall, past the stairs and peered into the lounge where two thieves were quickly working hard at getting the new resident’s home theatre system apart.  This was something he wasn’t impressed with.
Walking casually into the room, he smiled as his teeth slid down from his upper jaw, “Hello, boys.  Whatcha up to?”
One of them turned and saw immediately Jonah’s razor sharp teeth, “Dude, we have company.”
“Yeah, yeah… you get rid of him.” The second one said as he figured out which cord came from where with his head down.
“He’s not the normal kind of company.”
“Oh!  I’m sorry.  Was she expecting you guys to rob her?” he gestured to the stairs, “Because if she was, I’m really interrupting something, aren’t I?”
The second guy looked up at Jonah and stopped what he was doing, dropping the dvd player on the coffee table as he stared at the man’s silver eyes, “Oh, crap.  She’s home?”
“Yes.” He nodded, “Do you want me wake her? It’s only two in the morning; I’m sure she won’t mind.”
The two looked at each other and the same thought ran through their minds as they tripped over themselves to get past him and back out the back door empty-handed.  Jonah walked to the home theatre system and put it back together the way she had it and hoped she didn’t notice anything out of place the next morning.  He walked to the back door, made sure all the locks had been used and then did a check on all the doors downstairs.  He wanted to make sure there was nobody upstairs.  So, taking the stairs by twos, he found himself on the next level and walked along the hall where he checked on each room and finally, her room where she slept soundly. 
Damn, she was beautiful.  He walked into the room as she moved in her sleep and the blankets slid down her shoulder allowing one milky white breast to show as the moon shone across her pillow and onto her face through the window.  He looked at the curtains, unhooked them and pulled one lot across so the light didn’t wake her to find him there.
Jonah carefully picked up Rachel’s arm and tucked it under the covers again as he pulled up the blanket; and she moved a little again, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, “Jonah.”
Suddenly, he jumped back, letting go of the blankets.  He hadn’t put a thought into her head.  In fact, he wasn’t trying to.  How was it she knew his name?  It was time to leave; he had been in her room too long and so he had to go back to the basement before she said anything else.  As he turned and walked to the door, he heard another whisper from the bed.
“Please don’t leave me here alone.”
Yep, it was time to let her live her life without him around.  She knew he was around; but he was sure she didn’t know what he was.    He walked out the door of her room, down the hall and stairs and back to his basement where he stayed for a few days; out of sight.  Jonah was terrified she’d come looking for him.  And she did.

A few nights after the break-in, he arrived back from a hunt to find his basement doors unlocked.  He was sure he had locked them and he had the only key; so he proceeded with caution.  The whole basement was flooded with light.  This did not look good at all.  As he pulled the doors shut, he locked them from the inside and turned to find Rachel leaning against fridge.
“How long have you lived here?”
“About a decade.” He muttered.
“And the stuff in this fridge?” she glanced at it and back at him, “Is it a joke?”
“No.” he replied, “I did appreciated you cooking for me.  That pasta was home made; would have been difficult to do.” He took a step toward her but she back away quickly, “Please don’t be scared of me.  I’ll leave if you want?”
She leaned on the table from the far end to put something between them and looked up at him, “Leave?  Why, this is your home.”
“I’m squatting in your basement, it’s against the law.” He smiled, “I’ve been alive longer than you think.”
“I know.” She nodded, “When I found the dinner in the fridge untouched, I figured out what you were.”
“And… are you going to turn all Van Helsing on me?”
She giggled, “No, but he is a legend.” Her face turned serious as she sat down in one of the two chairs at the table, “Could you tell me something?”
He slowly walked to the table, hoping he wouldn’t scare her, “Sure, anything.”
“Did you fix the lock on my back door?”
“Yes.  You were broken into and two men tried to take off with your new home theatre system; those things cost a lot of money.  And you love your dvds.” He smiled, “I searched the house to make sure there wasn’t anyone else around hiding upstairs before coming back down here.”
“So, your name is Jonah.”
“Yes.” He flushed a little as he sunk into the chair next to her, “I’m sorry you caught me in your room, but the moon was on your face and I pulled the curtain so it wouldn’t wake you; and scare you when you found me there.”
Her eyes widened, “You were in my room?”
“I had to make sure nobody was in the house.”
She nodded, “Okay.”
“When you moved in, I wasn’t sure if I could live here anymore.  But seeing you didn’t use the basement, I figured you wouldn’t mind.”
“I don’t.  Living alone is something you don’t get used to.” She smiled, “And there’s not that many good men out there who will accept people who have a bit of luggage.”
She shook her head, “Medical condition.”
Jonah sighed, “We all have our own luggage, it just depends on how we deal with it.”
“So…”, She looked at him with a raised eyebrow, “How long have you been… a vampire?” she smiled, “That sounds really weird!”
He grinned, “Yeah, it does; but you want to know.”
“Well, you look around thirty or so.”
“I was turned at thirty-three.  But the year was 1927.” He said, “And I was at a real swinging party in the city, drunk and walking home.”
“Yeah.” He nodded, “I had been kicked out of the party.  So walking off the booze seemed like a good idea at the time.”
He shook his head, “I was picked up by a cab halfway home; and the lady I shared offered to pay for my way home.  I refused – being a gentleman even when I was drunk – and I woke up the next day in a jail cell at sunset.  She paid to get me out.”
“Did you know what you did to get there?”
Jonah shook his head, “Nope.”
“But she was a good Sire; not all relationships are good with your Sire.” He muttered, “She and I went our separate ways and she said that if I ever needed her that she’d be there for me again.  Unfortunately, she lost her head recently; so there goes that life line.”
Without thinking, Rachel reached out and touched his hand, “I’m so sorry to hear that.”
He turned his hand over and gently gripped hers, “Thank you.”
“Your hand’s cold.”
“You have to remember what I am.” He looked up at her and allowed the demon to show just a little with his eyes; feeling his teeth dig down a little, “And not be scared of me.”
Fear skittered across her face for a moment before she yanked back her hand, “Yeah, I know.”
“I won’t hurt you, Rachel.  I like you; a lot.”
She looked to her hands for a moment, “How long have you been on your own?”
“About twenty years.”
The strawberry blonde looked up at him, “That’s a long time.”
“For you it is; for me it isn’t.” he looked around the basement, “What about you?  I haven’t seen a man with you here since you moved in.”
Her eyes faltered and she looked to her hands which began to fidget on the table, her face darkened, “I’ve hit a raw nerve.”
Tears glistened in her eyes when she looked at him next, “I was abused by my last boyfriend.  There’s little to no chance I’ll ever have a man anywhere near me again.”
His hands reached out and gently touched hers, stopping her from fidgeting, “My god, Rachel, how can anyone beat somebody as beautiful as you?”
“You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”
“No I’m not.” His whisper reached her ears, “Besides, I’m a vampire who hasn’t socialised with a human in over thirty-five years; and so I know a beautiful one when I see it.”
Her eyes met with his and she realised that Jonah was telling her the truth.  She turned her hands over and felt his cool fingers lace with hers, “Would you like to come upstairs and watch television for a little while?”
He smiled, “I’d love to.”

After that night, Jonah often joined Rachel upstairs after sunset and watched television, a dvd or listened to music while she prepared her meals and he drank his blood.  He did all this before he went out hunting; and often checked on her before he went to sleep before dawn.  They became the closest of friends and he enjoyed her company so much that he began to look at her as more than just a friend; he wanted her as his own woman, his wife; but he didn’t know how to go about asking her.
One evening, Rachel was cutting up some vegetables when the knife slipped and she sliced the side of her hand open.  The scent of her blood filled the kitchen as she hissed pain between her teeth.  Jonah didn’t know what to do until she dropped the knife and raced to the sink to wash it out.
“Could you get the first aide kit from the pantry?”
“Sure.” He raced there in a daze and pulled it out, his hands shaking as his mouth watered from the intoxicating aroma of food that was right there in front of him.  As she went to turn the tap on, he grab her hand and just looked at the cut as it bled bright red into the sink, “Such a waste to wash it away.”
“What?” she snapped a look at him.
“Here.” He took up her hand as he caught some drops on his hand, licked them off and sighed at the taste as he closed his eyes with delight, “Delicious.”
“Well, you are.” He glanced up at her, “Your blood is sweet and lovely; untainted.  I haven’t drunk such pure blood in a long time… free from alcohol, drugs and smoke.  Lovely.”
She gazed at him as his canines played hide and seek behind his lips and realised she’d never be able to get rid of the creature he is, “Taste?”
He smiled, “Thought you’d never offer.” Bending over the sink, he licked over the cut and cleaned up the blood completely; complimenting how wonderful it tasted the whole time as though he was at a wine-tasting.  Then, quickly, he wrapped her hand in gauze and a compression bandage and tied a sling around her neck, “I’ll finish cutting up your vegetables and cook you dinner.”
“But I’ll do it.”
“With one hand?” he pointed to where he had been sitting, “Sit.” He turned and cleaned up the first aide equipment and put it away as he realised that he wanted more of her blood; and right now.  Turning, he walked to the board and wiped up the drops that had spilled, tossed out the vegetables that had been ruined by it and then he kept on working on the stir-fry she was cooking and served it up.
“Oh my god… where did you learn to cook!” she mumbled between mouthfuls of crunchy vegetables and thick sauce.
“I have traveled all over the world and worked in many kitchens; including an Asian restaurant in Tokyo; where I learned a lot.” He smiled.
After dinner, the usual television viewing was on and he took her off to bed after the 10:30pm show finished.  As he removed the sling, he spotted the vein pulsing in her arm and leaned down to smell it.  My god!  That was the most delicious blood running through her veins!  He had to ask if he could feed off her one night; just a little bit.
“No.  She’s a friend.” He muttered as he pulled her covers up over her and walked out.
“Jonah…” her voice stopped him in the doorway and he turned to the bed where she laid, “I need you.”
Walking to her, pulled up a chair and sat, “Rachel, what I did tonight was wrong.  I should never have tasted you.”
She turned over in the bed and looked at him, her eyes searched for his in the dark, “Why not?”
“Because…” I love you… he shook his head, “I just shouldn’t have.  It was wrong.”
She sat up letting the blanket fall from her as she swung her legs over the edge, “I want you to stay here.”
“I need to feed tonight.”
“I trust you… you can feed off me.”
Moving from the chair to the spot on the bed next to her, he looked into her eyes, as he watched her veins and arteries pulse in time with her heartbeat, “I can’t.” rising, he tried to leave the room again.
“I love you.”
In the darkness of the room, she saw him turn and his yellow eyes glowing in the dark; knowing his canines were down and ready for a feed; his mouth opened to make room for them.  What she didn’t know was that tears had spilled onto his cheeks – tainted red with blood.  He was caught between a rock and a hard place.  He wanted her, but didn’t want to kill her but didn’t, but…
Was there a but?
Jonah loved her; that’s all there was to it.  Turning back to her, he walked to her, sat down next to her and smiled, “I love you too.”
“What do you do now?”
Smoothing out her hair, he kissed her forehead.  This was the most painful part of it, “I have to sire you.  Do you know what’s involved in that?”
“First you drink my blood, then I drink yours.”
“But when I drink from you, I must bring you to the very brink of death.” He said taking her hands, “You will almost die.  You understand that?”
“Are you willing to do this to be with me?”
He looked to his feet for a moment, “I don’t want to have to kill you if you don’t want to make your first kill.”
Her hand pulled out of his, “My first what?”
He blinked a few times, “Your first kill.  You must make it on your own; but I can set it up for you… and I can help you with it, but the kill shot will be made by you.” He paused to let it sink in, “Are you willing to kill somebody?”
“For you?”
“To be alive forever… for eternity.”
Sitting there, Rachel took his hand and thought.  He could hear her processes as she worked out the pros and cons of what he was offering to her.  The human mind worked slowly; but it was a good thing; it was like hearing a clock ticking, slow and mechanical.  Looking up at him, she smiled, “Sire me.”
Smiling, his full set of canines showed, “I was hoping you’d say so.”
Moving her hair behind her shoulder, his eyes locked onto the largest artery in her neck, the best one he could take her life blood quickly and efficiently; and make sure she didn’t struggle.  He took off his shirt and tossed it on the chair nearby as he inhaled her delicate scent of delicious blood; it made his mouth water, pulled him close like a magnet to a fridge.
Faster than she knew, his arms were around her, holding her close.  She felt very safe with him as he nuzzled her neck and she moved her leg around to face him.  It was then he pulled away and she saw the demon he hid from her when they were together; it was then, she began to panic, “Oh, shit.”
“Rachel.” His voice was calm as his razor sharp teeth danced behind his lips, “Listen to my voice.  You love me, remember.”
Her pulse slowed as she blinked a few times and nodded, “Yes, I do.  But the demon’s face… Jonah, that face.”
“It’s horrible, isn’t it?” he blinked and a moment later his face returned to the human form she knew and she reached out and touched his cheek, “Amazing what lies beneath.”
“Yes.” Tears welled in her eyes as she moved close to him, attempting to embrace him.
“Are you sure you wish to?” he pulled away, “You must remember what I am.”
Folding her arms, she took a deep breath and let it out quickly, “Yes, you’re a vampire.”  Pulling her knees up to her chin, she swallowed, “You should go and get your feed.”
She looked at him, “Go on.”
“I do love you.”
Laying down, she turned her back on him, “You just don’t want to hurt me… it’s the same old story.”
Jonah picked up his shirt, buttoned it up and walked out the door, wishing he had never allowed her to trust him; wishing he had never gotten this involved with a human.  They are just too damaged.

The following week, Rachel had a girls’ night out with some friends in the city.  They were in China Town and had just stepped out of a public toilet when she heard an animalistic growl from around the next corner in the opposite direction that took her back to the lit arena of the China Town Mall.  When she turned to her friends, she found she was the only one who could hear it.  Rachel had become accustomed to hearing vampires fighting all due to living with one.  After making sure her friends made it to the light of the Mall, she turned and, following her instincts, she walked through the poorly lit back alley of a restaurant to an adjoining alley where she saw the larger than life shadows of a fight playing against the walls of the alley.  It looked dangerous and so she decided to take a look.  When she poked her head around the corner, she found three vampires fighting with six humans; the humans were losing as they were smacked around and disarmed; then thrown against the walls and like rag dolls.  One human landed near her and she pushed herself against the wall out of sight trying to keep her heart rate down to a close-to-normal rate.  She heard somebody approach, pick up the body and the sound of a vampire having a feed.  Keeping a still as she could, she waited until they had finished; but she had been made before they had even approached the corner.  Her fear had soaked the air and all three vamps had smelled it.
“Well, what have we here?” a darkened head poked around the corner, “Fresh meat?” his demon face dripped with human blood and Rachel swallowed as she looked at him, “What cat’s got your tongue?”
“No.” she said, “But I’m not as afraid of you as you think.”
He dumped the body and approached her, expecting her to back up.  When Rachel stood her ground, and he was right in front of her, he tipped her face up to look at him with a bent index finger, “You should be.”
“I know Jonah.”
He let go of her and stepped back, “Do you?” he smiled, “And how much do you know about him?”
“A bit.”
“He’s a fugitive.  Be careful.” The vampire turned and walked back to the other two where they asked him why he hadn’t  fed off her, “Because another vamp has his hooks into her.  I can smell it.”
“Come on, dude… just take her.”
He looked over at her as she turned and walked off, “No.  He’s tasted her already.”
As Rachel heard that, she paused:  how could they know that?  Without stopping to wonder more about that little bit of info, she walked back to the Mall and decided to take off home early.

As she closed the door and locked it, she felt relieved to be home.  On turning, she found Jonah standing right behind her and his presence startled her so much that she backed up against the door, “Jeez, shit!  Jonah!”
“Who did you talk to?” he asked.
“How did you know?”
He took her shoulders gently and sniffed her face, chin and hair, “I can smell another vamp on you.” His eyes narrowed, “Who did you talk to?”
“There were three of them; and the biggest one talked to me at the China Town Mall… well behind it really.”
He nodded, “He calls me a fugitive?”
“It’s because I left the group.  I’m not a fugitive.” He said, “I didn’t like killing just because it’s fun.  I kill because I’m hungry.”
She nodded, “He told me to be careful of you.”
“He’s trying to put you off me.”
She took his arm, “I love you.  I’d never fall for another vamp; especially one who walks up to a human without cleaning his teeth and face first after his last feed.”
“Oh, he didn’t.” he frowned, “That’s disgusting.”
“He did.”
She smiled, “But I stood my ground and didn’t move.”
“Good… he wanted to scare you.”
“He didn’t.” she touched his face and kissed him, “Just like you don’t scare me.” Taking off her jacket, she tossed it on the back of the lounge with her bag following it.
“You should be.”
She smiled, “I love you; why should I be scared of you?”
Taking her in his arms, he kissed her, “Because I’m a dangerous creature that could kill you.”
“Help me be with you then.”
“You completely freaked out the last time I transformed.” He held her close, “And it’s something I don’t wish to do to you again.”
“I stood up to a completely freaky, dripping with blood, taller than you vampire tonight and you’re telling me that I’m going to freak out again?” she smiled, “I don’t think I will.”
Pulling back, he leaned his forehead against hers, “He touched you; I don’t like that.”
“I didn’t like it either, but I didn’t move.  Standing my ground is best to put people – and creatures – like him off.”
A smile touched the corners of his mouth, “You’re beautiful.”
“I’m yours.”
Kissing her softly, Jonah felt her relax completely in his arms as he inhaled her scent, “I want you.”
“Take me.”
Leaning her against the arch of the living room, he held her close as he felt his canines moved down – ready for a feed.  Jonah held Rachel close as her head lolled to one side and his eyes took in the large artery he’d be drinking from to sire her.  Running his tongue over his teeth quickly, he nuzzled her gently, moved her hair and then, positioned himself so if she struggled, she couldn’t move very much.  There was no easy way of Siring somebody, he couldn’t be gentle; he just had to… Jonah bit in hard and warm blood gushed into his mouth and he quickly made a good seal with his lips as he closed his eyes for a moment and drank quickly; taking deep breaths as her life drained from her. 
As predicted, she struggled; but not for very long.  At first, Rachel thumped him hard on the back in a flurry of drumbeats; but they weakened fast as he took from her and she collapsed against him, with him following her to the floor.  By the time he had finished with her, he was sitting on the floor cradling her body listening to the slow coma of her heartbeat for a moment before he bit into his own arm and let his blood drip into her mouth slowly.  Clenching and unclenching his hand, he made it run faster until she reached up and pulled his arm down to her mouth and she drank from him; then bit in with her new teeth – the most painful part of siring a new vampire.
“Oh, shit.” He whispered, “Not too much.”
At his voice, she stopped drinking and looked at him, “Sorry, lover.”
He looked down at her as she laid there in his lap, “You’re forgiven.” He ran his tongue over his wound and it healed completely, “Now, we have to talk.”
She sat up and looked at him, “Yes?”
“Do you know what’s happened to you?”
Smiling she nodded as her new set of teeth showed, “You sired me.  We can be together forever.”
“If we separate for any reason, you can lead your own undead life; no matter what.” He smiled, “It’s okay for you to leave.”
“But I won’t.”
“You may not say that in two hundred years.” He smirked, “Now, for your first kill… you must do it within the week.”
“Okay.” She smiled.
“And it can’t be me.”
Leaning forward, she kissed him, “I wouldn’t… I love you.”
Jonah watched the wound he had inflicted on Rachel’s neck completely heal and realised that this would work.  They had the house, they had the right connections for work and really when he thought about it, he had never shared a house with anyone so settled down in their lives to begin with. 
“So… this is what shared accommodation is all about?” he stroked her cheek as he leaned forward and kissed her.
“I guess so.  I haven’t shared a house with anyone for so long, I’ve forgotten what it feels like.” She replied.
As they sat holding each other, Jonah knew this was just the beginning of a turf war; except it wasn’t the kind humans fought over.  Rachel was the property; and the vampires of the city were going to fight over her once they learned she had been turned and trained by one of the most powerful vampires around.  This is something he had to keep from her until the time was right.

But then, was there ever a right time to share new information?