“It is a truth universally acknowledged…” LaCroix murmured.
Caroline Bingley raised one graceful eyebrow at him.
“That a vampire in possession of a good variety must be in want of a perfect specimen.”
Caroline favored him with a rare half-smile and turned her attention back to the assembly. “I would never complain about dear Fitzwilliam, but a girl likes fresh blood on occasion.”
Caroline’s eye fell on the young woman dancing with her progeny. Jane Bennet kept her eyes low as she moved through the dance until it brought her close to Bingley; then her bright eyes met his and she flushed becomingly. Very becomingly.
“Quite,” she said.
“Hello, you,” Rodney said lovingly. Very lovingly.
“Rodney, you’re not allowed to marry ZPMs,” John said.
“You never let me have any fun.”
Ronon snorted. “I have fun every day.” He ducked out of the doorway as energy fire blasted past him; he and Teyla returned fire from opposite sides of the door. There was a cry of pain, then more fire.
Rodney didn’t even flinch. He lifted the ZPM carefully from its slot, not seeming to notice when the lights flickered and then dimmed. He turned to John, who was half-crouched over him and keeping an eye on the inhabitants of M20-528 and their oddly curved weapons. “So how long will it take to get us back to the gate?”
John, Ronon, and Teyla all turned to stare at him. A bolt of energy came through the doorway inches from Ronon’s hair.
“What?” Rodney asked. Another bolt came through - several feet from him - and he dove for a corner, cradling the ZPM protectively. “Why are they fighting us? We gave them the artifact the new guy found! The new guy said it was a perfect specimen!”
“Just because Dr. LaCroix is a vampire doesn’t mean he’s infallible,” John said.
“I don’t really trust anyone who lives on Wraith blood.” Ronon’s face was hard.
“I look forward to speaking with the doctor when we return,” Teyla said between volleys of fire. “Shall we find a way past these soldiers, though?”
“Oh, you’re going to be a perfect specimen,” Sherlock said to his rounded stomach. It wasn’t a coo - Sherlock never cooed in the slightest - but more of a proclamation.
John signed and continued the lower leg and foot rub he had somehow been coerced into.
“How so?” Mary asked from the other chair. Her entire contribution to this pregnancy had been a selection of teas when Sherlock could keep nothing else down and a slightly condescending affection towards both Sherlock and his progeny throughout this whole process. Sherlock hardly seemed to notice, but there were times when John could barely keep a straight face.
“High intelligence, of course,” Sherlock said with no hint of shame.
“Of course,” John and Mary said, nearly in unison.
“Quite probably features somewhere between passably attractive and mildly stunning.”
“I’m sure she’ll be very becoming,” Mary said. John grunted and switched feet.
“And I believe that, with the father’s influence - the sire’s influence, I should say - that she may well have an extended lifetime.” Sherlock tilted his head. “I wonder if she’ll require blood.”
John had flinched from this the first time he heard it, but a meeting with LaCroix had reassured him. He couldn’t remember quite what the vampire had said, but...
Sherlock flexed his completed foot, poking John hard in the side in the process and jerking him out of his contemplation. “I’ve already mapped her schooling. That was completed shortly into the second trimester; I had to weight the value of a multitude of foreign schools to assist in languages and customs - she really must be comfortable with both China and Egypt, don’t you think? - or the consistency of a British school and potential allies and rivals she could develop through the years.”
“Have you planned her emotional development as well?” John snapped. “A flashcard program for empathy, perhaps, or a series of blocks spelling out how to interpret expressions?”
Sherlock looked from him to Mary in what passed for confusion. “That’s your responsibility, of course. Haven’t you created your program yet?”
Mary made a slight choked noise and John froze, staring at Sherlock’s shin hair. He looked over at Mary, finally, who was still a bit wild around the eyes and whose attention was focused on Sherlock. Sherlock, who had both hands over his stomach in what was nearly a protective gesture.
“We’ll--we’ll get right on that,” John said.
“See that you do,” Sherlock said. The hold on his stomach relaxed.
“You should really try Clark’s blood,” Lex said.
Clark’s incredulous face did not change. “That’s not my problem, Lex.”
LaCroix’s voice, as smooth as it had been on the radio - smoother - echoed through the cavern. “Why would you make such a recommendation, Mr. Luther? You understand that it makes you all the more attractive to me.” He was closer somehow. How had he gotten closer? “I’ve heard some fascinating things about your blood.”
“More fascinating than alien blood?” Lex countered.
Clark was still staring at him. Let looked back over and tried to convey part of my plan with him.
LaCroix glided in Clark’s direction. “Is this some sort of subterfuge? Perhaps you think I’ll...injure myself somehow on this impermeable alien.”
Lex choked back a sudden bout of hilarity.
“I’m sure you don’t--” Clark began, then stopped dead when LaCroix pulled a small box out of his pocket. It had a faint sheen Lex recognized immediately as lead. He and Clark lunged at the same time, but Lex’s bonds pulled him back short and Clark’s only loosened enough for one arm to reach out--too late to prevent the box from opening. It was too bad, Lex realized, that a vampire’s speed was a match even for an alien’s.
LaCroix drew one finger down Clark’s bicep. Clark shivered but otherwise stayed still. “Mr. Luthor’s notes are correct. You really are the perfect specimen.”
“Clark!” Lex shouted. “This wasn’t my plan. I swear it wasn’t.”
“Does it matter now?” Clark asked. His gaze was locked on LaCroix, and the shiver had grown to full-body shudders. Lex choked back bile.
“Clark,” he said. “Clark,” he whimpered as LaCroix’s fangs descended.
There was a sudden whistle that Lex couldn’t quite comprehend, but LaCroix froze, a wooden bolt protruding from his shoulder.
“Really,” Oliver said from the opening of the cave, redrawing his bow. “Do I have to do everything for you people?”
LaCroix hissed, and Oliver kept the bow separate. “I missed on purpose,” he said. “Give me a reason to aim true.”
A flash of movement, and Clark was left holding the Kryptonite, Oliver’s arrow was split in half and on the floor, and LaCroix was gone.