Missy beamed at Jeff. “I did it and it wasn’t so bad this time!” The nurse covered her with a blanket. “I made it all around the whole block without stopping to take a breath.”
Jeff smiled affectionately at her. “That’s my girl.”
“Have you ever been hospitalized before?” Missy asked.
“Who, me? Plenty of times.”
“Is there anything you need?” the nurse asked Jeff. “Any questions?”
“Nah. I’m good.”
“I’m good too.” Missy said.
The nurse left the room.
“Yeah, you’d be surprised how many injuries a hunter can get in a lifetime of hunting. I’ve had a lot of bumps and bruises. Still have some interesting scars.”
Missy leaned forward in interest. “You have scars?”
Jeff chuckled. “Yeah. Some in unexpected places. Some vampires just don’t fight fair.”
“Would you ever want to go back to being a hunter?” Missy asked. “I know it’s a weird question. I can’t imagine why you’d want to go back to being hurt and/or killed and/or changed.”
“Ah.” Jeff shifted his weight. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.”
“About that.” Missy said to herself. “That. I wonder what he means by that.”
“Right now I’m a singer for hire.” Jeff said. “Bar mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, Christmas tree lighting festivals…You get the idea. If the price is right, I’ll sing at it. It’s a good job. Pays well. No insurance, but it’s something I love doing.”
“But there has to be more to it than that.” Missy said. “You wouldn’t bring up your current job unless you had a good reason to do so because I sure didn’t ask you about it. So, for you to bring it up without any cause is pretty suspicious.”
“I can’t dispute that.” He elbow-propped on the bedrail. “I had a talk with Hildreth the other day.”
“That hot guy in the tuxedo?”
“Yeah, him.” Jeff took a deep breath and exhaled. “He thinks I should come out of retirement.”
“So, you’d become a hunter again.” She frowned. “I’m not so sure if I like that. After being separated for so long, you and I are finally reunited. I’m finally conscious. And you’re here right here.”
“I know, Tessie. I want us to be a family again too, even if it is just you and me. But if I’m still able to hunt—-“
Missy shook her head. “I don’t want you to get killed or changed.”
“Neither do I. The possibility of being changed terrifies me. It’s why I’ve stayed retired. But I’m still strong and healthy. I still have the stamina. I could still do it.”
She shook her head. “I don’t want to lose you before I can get a full chance to relearn who you are and who I was with you.” She frowned. “Oh, I don’t like how that came out. That sounded very selfish.”
“Maybe, but I do understand your point of view. I’ve seen what happens to hunters when they are changed. I never want to be like that. I don’t want to put Hildreth in that position where he has to put me down.”
“Then, don’t do it. Stay as you are. Would that be enough for you?”
He held her closest hand. “You are more than enough.”
LM watched their conversation unfold.
Jeff isn’t as cold and uncaring as he seems. I don’t know what to think about that. If Capernaum were here…
If Capernaum were here.
Am I going to spend the rest of my life thinking ‘If only Capernaum were here’? Will I ever want anything else? Or anyone else? Does it even make sense to feel this way? He’s dead. He’s gone. He isn’t coming back. He travels with the Ancient Ones. He is free and safe.
I still miss him and it doesn’t make any sense.
He looked at the four matryoshkaed March sisters on the book’s front cover. No matter how he looked at it, those four girls seemed to be utterly terrified of giant Marmee…which was reasonable. “Wait.” He squinted and brought the book closer to his face. He focused on Possibly Professor Bhaer/Mr. Laurence/Mr. March. “What? What?” The mysterious male figure was wearing a black dress. “Is that supposed to be Aunt March? Why does she look like a man? And why? Just so much why?”
LM was appalled.
A fey obviously didn’t draw this inferior attempt at a woman. A fey would have drawn it right. A fey would have made it beautiful.
He frowned. “But I’m only half fey and half-human.” He traced the mannish shape of Aunt March’ face.
Just half and half. Only Capernaum saw me as whole. Will anyone else see me that way?
He thought about Kalyla’s words and lowered the book to his knees again. “The answers aren’t in my head. I need to take it one step at a time. One doorway. One line. That’s all I can do.”
Jeff laughed at something Missy said.
And it was a good sound.
So, I’ll take a step forward.