Forest woke late the next morning.
His mouth was dry. His head was pounding. He could only dimly recall waking up on the front lawn at dawn and dragging himself up to his bedroom.
What Flynn had done to him was only too obvious. It was clear that Flynn had some kind of supernatural powers — he was too young, too strong, too cold to the touch. Now Forest knew what kind of supernatural first hand.
As the fog cleared from his head, another frightening possibility occurred to him. He pulled on clothes and dashed to the bathroom to peer at himself in the mirror.
Not a mark or a blemish. No visual evidence at all that a creature of the night had taken a nightcap from his jugular vein. Though the skin around the puncture was tender when he touched it. He couldn’t even try to convince himself it was a dream.
As to whether Flynn had done more than just drink, there was nothing in his reflection to tell him. What else could Flynn have done? Turned him into another vampire, certainly, though Forest would like to think he would feel something if that had happened.
Flynn had played his hand. Not Forest at least knew what he was. What he didn’t know was whether last night’s display of power had been a hazing ritual for a new recruit or some kind of declaration of hostilities. What could Forest expect from now on?
One thing he did know — he was going to have to protect himself. Forest knew precious little about vampires, and he was going to have to start learning fast.
After drinking all the orange juice in the refrigerator, Forest felt a little better. But instead of heading to the Arcane Institute to look for references on vampirism, he instead grabbed his phone to call Ali.
They met at Enchanted Mirror Art Gallery in a downpour that kept most sane people at home.
“Are you all right?” Ali asked. “You sounded terrible on the phone!”
Forest beckoned her inside to mostly-vacant building to get them out of the rain. He opened his mouth to tell her everything — his plans and frustrations, his terror at coming face to face with his first dangerous supernatural creature, the nagging loneliness that followed him everywhere but when he was with her.
What would she think if she knew what kind of life he really led? Instead, his sense of self-protection won over. “I just had a bad day yesterday,” he said. “I was hoping we could hang out and you could help me relax.”
“Oh,” Ali said, her eyes searching his face for more information. “I had a really bad day too.” And she started to tell him about some sort of high-stress presentation she had to give at work.
“Never mind about that,” Forest said, reaching for her. “Let’s get to the relaxing part.”
“Hey!” Ali snapped, stepping out of reach of his arms. “I’m really not in the mood. Have you been listening to how much stress I’m under?”
Even Ali had it in for him. “You’re supposed to be the one who’s there for me!” he cried. “I called you up looking for support, and this is how you treat me!”
“How can I be a supportive girlfriend if you won’t even tell me what you’re upset about?” Ali demanded. “You don’t tell me anything about yourself. And I don’t know about you, but I expect a boyfriend to be for me too! I’m starting to wonder what I get out of this relationship.”
Forest just stared at her. “I’m sorry,” he said in a tired voice. “Tell me about your presentation.”
Ali shook her head. “I have a headache, and I’m going to be up all night writing this thing. I’m going to head home. I hope you feel better, Forest.”
Forest watched her go, and suddenly loneliness seemed as frightening as vampires.
If Sky pretended the drink had alcohol in it, it was almost as relaxing as a real cocktail.
She’d taken the test four times, and the result was the same every time. She was pregnant. That shouldn’t be possible.
At last, she nerved herself up and brought the test to her mother. She couldn’t come up with anything to say, so she just handed the pee-stick to Veronica without commentary.
Veronica started at it, her eyes widening. “Well,” she said. “Congratulations? It looks like I’m going to be a grandmother.”
“I can’t be pregnant!” Sky burst out. “I’m a virgin!”
Veronica raised her eyebrows and gave Sky That Look. “I love you, my dear,” she said. “But I’m not that gullible.”
Sky flushed. “I’m a virgin in the way that counts for babies,” she said. “I’ve never been with a guy.” She knew that she and Leah could have children someday — if they wanted them — via a medical fertilization procedure, but that wasn’t something that happened unexpectedly.
Veronica sighed. “Oh dear,” she said. “I hypothesized that this might be possible, but it just seemed too crazy.”
“What might be possible?” Sky demanded.
“Sit down,” Veronica said. “I’ll make us some coffee.”
Sky waited nervously while Veronica outlined some of her research in the spirit world. “I don’t think it’s the same for you and Charles,” she said. “I think the part of your soul connected to the Netherworld just reaches out and binds on to life wherever it finds it. I don’t know how you feel about this, but I only wanted to have one child. After Charles demonstrated his, um, alarming fertility, I had myself sterilized to prevent any more unplanned children. Not that I’d unmake any of you,” she added hastily.
Sky nodded slowly. “So I could, like, get pregnant from a really good kiss or something?”
Veronica shrugged. “I hope not. Your guess is probably better than mine because it’s your body. It’s not like we have a lot of test subject for people with partial ghost genetics.”
“It would be good to know this before,” Sky said plaintively.
Veronica gave her a hug. “We’re here for you, and I’m happy for a grandchild however I get one.”
Sky wasn’t so sure about the part where she was having the child, but it seemed she was stuck with it. The question was how to bring it up with Leah.
She, Leah, and Adam Bookabet had started jamming in clubs on off hours. The clubs got a bit of extra live entertainment, and they got a chance to play on some nice instruments. The group had decided to call themselves Ghostwriter, which fit since Sky wrote most of their songs. Folks seemed to like what they heard, or at least the ones who stuck around did.
Sky found she already had to wear loose-fitting clothes, so if she didn’t say something soon, the problem was going to start to get obvious.
“Hey,” said said to Leah as they were packing up after a nice session. “I was wondering if I could have a word with you.”
“That’s an odd way to say it,” Leah said. She saw the terrified look on Sky’s face and grew visibly alarmed. “Something’s wrong. Tell me.”
Sky opened her mouth, but her mind went blank. “I’m pregnant,” she blurted out. “I’m having your baby.”
Leah stared at her blankly. “You’re kidding me, right?”
“I’d never kid about that,” Sky said. “I’m really pregnant. And I know this is hard to believe, but it’s really your baby. Mom can explain what happened. I couldn’t follow all of it.”
Leah froze, her jaw hanging open.
Then she struggled to pull herself together. “That’s insane,” she said. “I don’t care what your mom says. Getting pregnant doesn’t work that way.”
Sky reached out to hold her girlfriend. “I love you, Leah,” she said earnestly. “You have to believe me.”
“Don’t touch me!” Leah cried.
Then, “Look, I’m sorry. You’re just not making sense. Why don’t you have a good night’s sleep. Maybe things will look different in the morning.”
Sky looked at her miserably. “It won’t be any different in the morning.”
Leah backed away from Sky, said her goodbyes, and vanished into the darkness. Sky was left to wonder if she’d just ruined the best thing that had ever happened to her.
What really happened with Forest is that he asked Ali out on a date to the art museum, which was set to No Visitors for some bizarre reason (I fixed it after that scene). Ali was running pretty low on motives, and then while I was off dealing with something else, Forest autonomously used the voodoo doll to make her pee herself. GOOD GOING, Forest! Can you help me out a little here? After that, Ali was having nothing to do with affection.
It seemed like a good hint that even a love spell can wear thin after a while.
Leah was also running low on motives after the jam session. Sky tried to help by zapping her, but it failed out and took her clothes off for a few seconds. I couldn’t figure out anything to do with that in the story, so it’ll have to stay between us.
Note Nemo Hodgins and Alberto Sample-Royale in the audience. Adam Bookabet is there the whole time but manages to stand behind Sky or Leah in every shot.