It was not love at first sight. There was no love present in the beginning.
She was terrified when the man that should have been dead sat up and started talking to her. Scared and awed in equal measure. She watched, eyes wide, as he drank donated blood from a bag in the morgue refrigerator.
If this were anything like every vampire movie she ever watched, he would have kept his counsel by killing her. Instead, he told her to forget what she saw and left with preternatural speed.
She spent half the week wondering if she had dreamed it.
Four days after the incident in the morgue, she passed him on the street. Instinct begged her to keep walking, but curiosity demanded she confront him. The attempt at hypnotizing her had failed, and she told him so.
She believed she could help him. He believed he was beyond helping. She knew he ended up on her table in the morgue because he'd tried to help others. He insisted that he was evil; something she denied.
She'd use modern science to cure him, she said. To say he wasn't certain it would work is an understatement. She would try anyway.
She had no idea how he managed to get employment as a police officer in the local precinct. She didn't ask how, and he volunteered no information. But his work as a cop meant their spending time together would raise fewer eyebrows.
She did think it ironic that he'd chosen a career as a detective in the homicide division. Ironic and humorous, in a vaguely hypocritical way. But she would never tell him so; she still found him intimidating and more than a little creepy.
She found him decidedly less creepy when he smiled at her for the first time.
It took her almost six months into their association to discover just how strong his sense of smell is. Six months before she realized he can smell fresh blood as acutely as humans smell pizza. Six months before it dawned on her that he knows when she's having her period.
Understandably, she initially freaked out. But reason prevailed; it's not like he could stop smelling that which appeals to him. Anyway, he makes up for the inherent creepiness of it by treating her like a queen at that time of the month. He gives great massages and brews perfect tea.
It wasn't until she'd known him for a year that she'd got over the shock of knowing, not only are vampires real, but she has a bona fide bloodsucker as a friend.
She realized at that point how handy having a guy familiar with multiple disciplines over a course of centuries could be. She realized it the moment her car engine died five blocks from his loft.
She called him in a panic, and he calmly reassured her that he'd help. He pushed the car to his place, and fixed it better than any mechanic. And it cost her nothing.
A year and a half after she first met him, she rather offhandedly mentioned how limited her resources were, due to her own financial limitations. He shrugged and told her not to worry about it any further.
A week later, she received a packet in the mail for access to a joint checking account totaling over three million dollars, and a notice stating she now owns 20% of the shares in a billion dollar real estate investment agency.
She didn't ask where it came from and, though it went against her better judgment, she knew better than to refuse it.
Two years after they'd met, there came the end of his brief moment of peace. His master had returned, calling him out by cutting a swath of destruction through the city. He thought his heart had remained eternally still... until it seemed to race with fear at the thought that she could be in danger from his cruel "father".
He and his master confronted each other twice that week. The second time, he made sure to kill his creator dead, running the ancient through with a burning stake, before he himself collapsed to the ground out of hunger and exhaustion.
Her kindness nursed him back to health after confronting his master. But much too soon, it seemed, trouble made itself known again.
Her brother was shot. In tears, she begged him to save her brother. His heart twisting at his friend's heartfelt and hurt plea, he did as she bade him. He turned her brother into a vampire.
Her relief that her brother would live again was all too brief; her brother became addicted to the power, the blood. Her brother had killed many in a short time, and had to be destroyed. Death returned to claim her brother once again.
It took him some time to admit to himself he did it because he loved her. That it was because it pained him more sharply than a stake to the heart to watch her cry.
He loved her. But he could not dare to express his love for her. Instead he watched, seething inside, as another man made social calls on her. Lamenting how it should have been him to kiss her like that.
It was dumb luck, or providence's wicked irony, that her date turned out to be a serial killer. But she was saved by her vampire guardian.
She'd much rather spend her nights off watching movies on his 50-inch screen TV than attempt another date. He's secretly glad and relieved about it, though he never says so.
So, every weekend they barricade themselves in his loft, watching anything from old black-and-white movies to the latest action flicks. Indiana Jones and Terminator get the most frequent rotation in his video player.
Sometimes, she falls asleep on his cool shoulder, wrapped securely in a soft throw. He tries not to think about the warmth her body emanates, or the soft thumping of her heart. Only that she's here, safe.
A few more weeks, and he decides to go into a twelve-step program. She doesn't think it is a wise choice, but he seriously considers it as a possible aid to their efforts to return him to humanity. Mind over matter, and all that.
He back slides in a big way, once it's discovered that his sponsor - a recovering sex addict - has also fallen off the wagon. His vampire sister stops him from killing someone; not because she's alarmed, but because she knows he'll regret it later.
His friend - his faithful, beloved human companion - manages to talk him down.
His worst nightmare has come true: his master somehow survived impalement by a flaming stake, and has returned to torment him once again. This time, it's by attempting to destroy the life he's built here.
He ends up in jail, framed for a murder he didn't commit. His friend tries her best to aid him through this trying time, and tries to help him clear his name. But his master is much too smart, throwing more obstacles in their way.
A confrontation between him and his master ends in a stalemate. But, serendipitously, he gains his life - this life - back.
Ever since she first met him, she found herself wondering more and more what it's like to fly.
Yes, she knows vampires can fly; nothing so silly as turning into a bat and flapping wings, but more like levitation or performing telekinesis on one's own body.
Surely, the feeling of wind on the face and through the hair, soaring like a bird through the night sky, must be more exhilarating than anything thrill-seeking mortals can conjure up.
She never tells him about this secret yearning; nonetheless, when she falls asleep, she imagines their flight together under a blanket of stars.
About three things she was absolutely positively sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt:
First, her best friend was a vampire, desperately trying to redeem himself from centuries of crime.
Second, no matter what treatments they tried, until the day they successfully converted him back to a human, he would always need to drink blood. Steer blood was an acceptable alternative, given the overall lack of choice.
Third, she was unconditionally, irrevocably in love with him and, no matter what those stupid paranormal romance novels dared to imply, there wasn't a damn thing either of them could do about it.
It's completely devastating when she finds out her goddaughter was killed. Just a little kid, and the parents had been talking about getting a bike for Christmas. She can still remember the girl's face, a frozen expression of fear as the body began to stiffen in rigor mortis.
Just a little kid; so small, and pale, and lifeles--.... no, can't think about that.
She feels a faint breath of relief leave her chest when he arrives. She buries her head and cries against the shoulder of the man she loves; the only one she knows who will never die.
It's a daring new attempt on the old idea for the cure; carefully applied drug therapy combined with the preexisting alterations of his diet. The test tube results seem promising. They could mitigate, if not eliminate, his vampirism.
But she couldn't've been more wrong. The drug's effect on his behavior is strange, erratic, and he becomes dependent on it... like a junkie.
She's incredibly relieved when his taking a bullet from a mobster bleeds the drug out of him, and he's back to his normal charming undead self.
They can't do that again. It hurts to see him like that.
He asked her out. He finally asked her out on a date!
Of course, she made some lame joke about checking her dance card (what dance card?), before smiling at him and walking away. When she got home later, she picked up her cat and danced around the room with the furball.
He even showed up at her apartment for no apparent reason. And he kissed her. He actually kissed her! The real kind that makes you feel like gelatin.
But it disturbs her that she can't recall what they did on their date... and he's now acting so distant.
It stops her cold when he tells her why she can't recall their date. It wasn't a date; not with him, anyway. His master knew about her, had drugged her to make her talk and tried to kill her. He couldn't let that happen. Not now, not ever.
He had lied, said he didn't love her to dissuade his master. The older vampire had angrily taken off, at least momentarily convinced by the ruse, much to his relief.
He promised her they'd go out on a real date. But not for awhile yet, until he was certain she'd be safe.
Fire. Fire scared her. And her beloved having to confront a crazy killer in the underground who was armed with a blowtorch, like a firefly from hell, scared her beyond reason.
Unfortunately, vampires aren't exactly fond of fire either. But an eight hundred year old vampire is smart enough not to get himself fried.
Once the adrenaline wore off and it was all over, she was able to see the funnier side of it. A wannabe dragon clashing with a former knight. Knight slays dragon. The end.
Still, it's reassuring to know he's here, arms around her. Safe and sound.
They thought the world was going to come to an end. A big asteroid, five miles wide, was going to smash into the Earth. She begged him to make her a vampire; he refused, because he knew that even vampires might not be able to survive the impact.
The rejection stung. So she foolishly got drunk and baited a strange vampire into doing the deed. Her beloved found her, killed the stranger and calmly told her that it was a hoax. A hoax set up by two greedy humans.
The world wouldn't end, but it felt like hers already had.
Near Death Experiments. The creepiest crap on the planet, and she knows creepy well by now. The experimental machines and drugs are designed to induce a near-death experience. It's very dangerous, as it causes the biological functions of the test subject to temporarily shut down.
And wouldn't you know it, the undead love of her life wanted to try it. To "take back the choice I made centuries ago," or some such nonsense. She couldn't believe any of that.
When he died on her, she did everything in her power to bring him back. She couldn't live without him.
As if the weirdness of the past several years weren't enough, a woman that he'd made a vampire several decades ago showed up. She said she wanted to have a baby with a man she'd chosen, and she wouldn't tolerate any interference.
It turned out that, when she was human, the woman had seduced him. The woman had wanted to have a baby... but she hadn't realized the man she'd wanted to use was a vampire. He'd misinterpreted her signals, and had given her immortality as a vampire.
Neither time was a child conceived. But the possibility it revealed was oddly fascinating...
Because the fun never stops, soon his partner -- the one involving his "day job" as a police officer -- starts putting the pieces together into one grand ball of fuckery that could best be summed up in five words: "My partner is a vampire."
Said vampire partner tried to whammy him into forgetting. It didn't work. It really didn't work.
The only hope was, when the human detective went to the master vampire for the inside scoop, that he'd only end up with his brains shaken, not stirred... and definitely not several quarts low on the hemoglobin.
Somehow, it actually worked.
There's an explosion; dozens of people died, including his captain and his partner. He can't take the pain of loving and losing, the curse of his immortality.
His grip on the dream of becoming human again and sharing a life with her is slipping from his grasp. So, he plans to leave. It's been better that way in the past, he reasons; trying to convince himself that it's the right choice and best for them both.
He has his bags packed, ready, but she stops him. She loves him and he loves her. Maybe in time, that will be enough.
She begins to wonder how sincere he is, about the cure. She doesn't dare to ask if he's serious about their relationship. As long as he remains a vampire, and she remains human, there will always be an insurmountable gulf between them.
She's gotten older. She can feel it in muscles that aren't quite as resilient as they used to be. She sees it in the tiny patch of gray hair hidden behind her left ear.
He loves her; she knows that. He may not say it, but she can see it in his eyes. If only it were enough.
It's beginning to drive her mad, not knowing. The look in his eyes, which once held the spark of idealism, is now overwhelmed by hopelessness. It's a chore just to try and keep holding on.
She can't go on like this anymore, wondering if this particular night will be the one he "disappears". So she summons her tattered dignity and tells him so.
He has nothing to say, not because there isn't anything to say, but because he doesn't know where to begin. He doesn't promise her that things will get better, but he promises he won't shut her out.
He tells her more stories of his life, just as he did when they started. The triumphs, the pain. Unfortunately, there's more of the latter in his life than the former.
He tells her the stories of history; so much of what he saw with his own eyes as it unfolded in front of him. He describes in chilling detail, not just how many lives were lost, but how they were lost.
He also tells her about the unsung heroes, those spirited men and women who live on forever in his memory, who lived and died bravely. Who inspire him.
His stories of feeling his victims' anguish before they died disturbs her, affecting a change in her own diet. Weeks later, she stops eating meat, seafood and poultry. She doesn't miss it.
Finally, he takes her on a real date; the symphony and then dinner at a fancy restaurant. He's able to eat rare steak and fries drenched in ketchup; she orders mushroom ravioli.
(He laughingly says that a vegetarian and vampire on a date sounds like a bad joke. She remarks how she's not PETA material; she's not making him go vegan, and still imbibes egg- and milk-based products.)
Another vampire is around. But this one is different: three personalities in one body, and the other two are human. The vampire's body can enjoy sunlight, food, sex while the two human personalities dominate. It's a little strange; but nothing really surprises her anymore.
Maybe this is proof that vampirism is partly in the mind. It definitely makes her wonder.
The vampire throws herself off a building; could she have survived the impact that might have killed the human personalities?
It's a very strange case, in an almost Dadaist way. It makes one wonder at the irrationality of the universe.
She ends up in big trouble, completely unawares. A doctor she knew and trusted gives her a complete anesthetic, putting her under to cut out her heart. The surgeon's child needs a heart transplant and will likely be dead before ever getting high enough up on the waiting list.
He saves her. Her trusty vampire hero, bellowing like King Kong at the group of shady doctors as he bursts into the room, gun drawn. She starts to come out of it just then, and his angry shouting confuses her drugged mind.
In retrospect, it's the sweetest sound she's ever heard.
He loses his memory. A bullet to the skull, of all the damnedest things. He forgets who he is... what he is. Although he doesn't recognize her, he says he "knew" there's something special about her, about them.
He knew he loves her without remembering her name.
For awhile, everything is beautiful. They cook together, make love together...
All is bliss.
Until he goes outside in the daylight. Then she knows she was just kidding herself. They can never be together, not in that way. Not ever again.
Her heart silently breaks as she watches him leave to find himself.
Demonic possession. Now that's a new one.
Is he possessed? Or does he merely think he's possessed? She's not sure. She sees enough in one hour, at the home of a former priest, to make her question everything she thought she knew about Heaven and Hell.
She's never been the most stringent of believers. Oh sure, she believes in God... in the sense that "God doesn't play dice with the Universe." But the Devil? That's something else again.
The demon is driven out, and she wonders about things she probably should have pondered the day she first met a vampire.
Yep, I'm back. You didn't really think I'd leave you hanging, did you? ;)
It was foolish to believe that nothing could harm her beloved. That he was nominally immortal didn't mean he was invincible. He was still a living being--regardless that he claimed otherwise.
He had a pulse and a temperature--though they were normally very low, they were both much higher than his usual standards. He complained of hunger, and had nearly attacked her… though he was too weak to follow through.
She saved all his kind from this small, silent killer because that was who she was--she became a doctor to help people, not to judge their path in life. Not even his master.
It's amazing how the ghosts of the past can come back to haunt when least expected.
She remembered her grandmother all too well, a coil of anger hidden deep within her heart. She had gotten so used to the feeling that she could ignore it, most days. Then some days, it'd all come back to her, as sharp as a slap in the face.
“I hit you. I hurt you. I'm sorry, Tashka.”
So am I, she thought. So am I.
And she felt the weight that she didn't know she was carrying finally lifted off of her shoulders.
Computer games weren't terrible things. They could be educational, they could help let off a little steam, or provide a momentary escape from the machinations of the everyday world.
It wasn't the game she objected to—it was the results. It was a game where he could let his darkest desires out to play in the digital world.
Here in the analog world, he was growing edgier, more aggressive, more careless. More dangerous. And that scared and worried her in equal measures. He'd been having a lot of problems recently, but this was too much.
He'd come out of it... she hoped.
His old girlfriend—and vampire sister—had returned. Human. It was impossible; a doctor knew the odds of finding a cure better than anyone.
The kicker was how it happened: love and a little restraint, apparently. That was it. No magic potion, no pills... just being careful and playing safe with one's bedmate.
It couldn't possibly be that easy. They'd been trying through scientific measures with no success, thus far. But it wasn't failure, it was narrowing down the possibilities—at least that's what she told herself.
Still there was something inside her, the forgotten little girl that believed in fairies and finding Prince Charming, a part of her that believed love could work miracles.
She felt for the poor kid—he had special needs and all he had in the world was his uncle.
She managed to sway her beloved into taking the boy under his roof until arrangements could be made for boy and uncle to be reunited.
What the hell was she thinking, that they could have a trial run on a family? Maybe, maybe not. But she just wanted to help.
It wasn't out of malice that she injected the boy with vampire blood—she wanted the healing power of it to give the boy his life back.
But the road to hell is paved with good intentions...
Things are just never normal around here. Ghosts, demonic possession and now, a reincarnated vampire? Why is her life so weird?
Of course, the reincarnated vampire in question has a personal vendetta against her beloved. Chalk another one up to the downsides of being in love with a vampire.
At least she hadn't been kidnapped or tied up this time, and nobody she personally knew was dead. What did it say about her life that lacking those two things was considered a good day?
A vacation away from Toronto might be a good thing; hopefully, a trip for two, and trouble wouldn't follow him. Ah, who was she kidding—it wasn't like she hadn't known the risks when she signed on.
But a little peace and quiet sometimes would be nice.
She found herself pacing in her apartment, worrying. This was worse than being a cop's wife. At least cops didn't have to worry about tangling with a vampire tween who was pissed off because daddy grounded the homicidal brat for two thousand years, via locking the kid away (with head chopped off for good measure) in a sarcophagus.
She was afraid for her beloved—she knew his physiological and mental limits, had tested them for years. He had been off his game for some time, losing focus and becoming more edgy.
When he finally opened the door, she told propriety to go to hell and wrapped him up in a relieved hug. And a few bandages.
So this was it: moment of truth. She knew he loved her, had said so many a time. But she was tired, of waiting, of hoping for the impossible. She loved him—would die for him, willingly and with a smile on her face.
Her world revolved around him now, against every logical argument she used on herself. She was tidal locked around his dark star, and nothing would break her free but total destruction. A prisoner of love.
When he took her in his arms, penetrated her soft flesh with his hard, sharp fangs, it did hurt. And it scared her. But it was somehow... pure.
She didn't want it to end.
She woke up in the hospital the next day, blinds pulled down to block out the sun. He sat beside her, his face somehow impassive, empty.
“It's okay,” she croaked. “It's not your fault. I... wanted this.”
“You wanted me to kill you?”
“No... I wanted everything you could give. I wanted all of you—man and vampire, the whole damn package.” She sighed. “I just... wanted you to know I understand. Now.”
He frowned but said nothing.
The physician came in and said she was fine. “The blood loss wasn't too heavy, and it hasn't had any impact on the baby.”
Given thought, one might imagine there is an inherent danger to giving birth to a human-vampire hybrid child. One might be excused for believing that an unborn infant of such parentage might be inclined to damage the mother's body whilst exiting the womb; a cracked rib here, a shattered pelvis there...
But no, it's not so melodramatic as all that. The most difficult thing about giving birth to a dhampir, in fact, is that it takes twice as long as birthing a wholly-human baby. Eighteen months of pure, unmitigated boredom broken only by the occasional strong craving for raw steak.
Just three more to go! I can't believe it's almost finished! :)
The miracle of birth isn't the most pleasant thing in the world—pushing out a tiny person the size of a basketball through a hole that's normally the width of a drink straw is pretty painful without an epidural.
But giving birth to a dhampir? That's less like a chestburster and more like “This is so weirdly normal... there's gotta be a catch. Something's gonna go wrong, I just know it.”
Good thing he's also there. She clings to his hand hard enough snap bone, if he were human.
The baby cries when it enters the world—a strong set of lungs on a slightly wrinkly and red, but altogether beautiful, baby girl.
His master—the nominal grandfather of their new baby—isn't amused. Her beloved—the father of her child—is pissed. She stands next to him, holding the baby in a protective embrace.
Her beloved glares at the master vampire. “You will leave them alone. No one is going to touch my family. I will kill anyone in the Community who tries to approach my daughter.”
His vow of protection doesn't surprise her—he tends to be rather particular in bestowing his affections, but when he does, he's fiercely loyal—but the knowledge that they are now a family does.
His master wisely slinks away, but with the threat that he'll be watching lingering behind him.
One dream has come true for both of them, to have a family together. He'd spent so long wishing for normalcy, for humanity, for life, that having a piece of it is akin to Paradise.
Not that things are perfect: There's the waking up from a sound sleep to feed and comfort a wailing infant. There's the teething, and the dirty diapers. There's also burnt bacon and being late for work.
And there's the fact that he's still a vampire—there will be questions about the green bottles in the fridge and why Daddy can't come out to play while the sun's up.
But there are never any guarantees, even in a normal human life. And life, as it always does, goes on.
And there it is, the last of the drabbles.
Hope you enjoyed this series!