Surprisingly enough, the option to be homeschooled wasn’t as much of a battle as Pearl expected. All it took was a bit of paperwork, a few meetings with the local head of the education committee and Nicolas understanding that its going to be a lot harder to sneak out of the house from now on. He feels almost like a prisoner.
Then again, it isn’t impossible to leave the house. At least this time when Nico wants to go outside he tells his family exactly where it’ll be, and makes sure to take a few officers with him. Artemis comes from a long line of vampires, but her family is famous for having children by humans. She’s diluted and weaker than Danika by far, but she still knows a few tricks and promises to teach Nico what she can.
“I don’t just want to learn how to block my mind.” He explains. “I want to be able to protect myself, fight back.”
“I don’t think you’re strong enough for-”
“I am.” He insists, looking her straight in the eyes. His father may have been human, but his mother’s line is more than pure. He’s got strength Artemis can’t even imagine, and he plans to tap into as much of it as he can.
With Jade and Daphine no longer in need of constant attention, Walt has returned to his music. It helps calm him down and relax enough to be the rock Pearl needs him to be.
Jade goes to school, and she does her homework, but they aren’t allowed out of the house without an adult. So Jade gets restless.
And when Jade gets restless... she pranks.
Walt really doesn’t want to deal with a rebellious daughter on top of everything else. “Jade, I know you’re feeling restless and cooped-up, but you have to behave! Your mother is under a lot of stress right now, and we all need to do our part. Please try and be a good girl for us. You know we love you, and what you’re doing isn’t fair.”
Her dad acts as if she’s dumb. As if she doesn’t already know her family doesn’t need more hell... but she’s going to keep doing it. At least until she gets what she wants, and that’s for her parents to stop spending so much time with Nico, and spending more of it with her.
At least her siblings always have time for her. Nico’s training has kept him mostly exhausted and busy, even with being home schooled, but he always sits with the younger kids to help them with their homework.
Reed and Daphine are fast friends. Mostly since Watcher will completely ignore them for this entire generation.
One night Pearl returns home late from a work meeting.
“Nico went behind my back.” She explains, voice betraying only the slightest shred of anger. “He went to my boss, talked him into letting him lure that vampire girl into a trap. And my boss even agreed to it! Can you believe this?”
Walt pauses to consider his words carefully. “He’d be surrounded the whole time. If Danika does work for Mister Dracule, she won’t harm him physically. I think its a good idea, and Nico is more than ready. He’s stronger than you realize.”
Pearl sighs, and falls into Walt’s arms. “I know he is... I’ve been so focused on making sure I can train Jade that I’ve completely ignored Nico’s need to protect himself. I’m so glad he had the sense to see Artemis, maybe she can do what I never could.”
“You took Nico in when he needed protection.” Walt states, pulling away from his wife enough to smile at her. “You raised him into a strong young man, you love him, and you’re still doing everything you can to keep him safe. So what if you can’t train him? You’re a great aunt and mother, Pearl, and I can’t imagine my life without you.”
“How do you always know exactly what to say?”
“I only speak the truth.”
Pearl wonders everyday how she managed to land the perfect man.
Nicolas finds Danika in the last place he expected, outside his old high school.
“Hey.” She greets as he nears. He feels a buzz in his mind and her face slips into a frown. “You’ve learned how to close your mind. How’d you manage that in such a short amount of time?”
He shrugs. “We aren’t the only vampires here, y’know. I asked a cousin to help and she did.”
“You’ve got vampires in your family?” Her mind is still closed to him, but her tone of voice seems honestly surprised.
“Of course.” He responds. “How do you think I came to be a vampire?”
“The way you said it the other day led me to believe you were adopted.”
Oh she’s good. He almost believes her for a moment. “I was, by my aunt and uncle. My mother was a vampire, but we have plenty of vampires on my dad and aunt’s side of the family. But speaking of the other day what happened? You sort of just disappeared on me.”
“I’m sorry, Nicolas. Your guardian showed up and he looked so angry. I was scared of getting in trouble so I took off.”
“You really hurt my feelings.” He says, deciding to pull the trap as soon as he can. “I might forgive you if you decided to go out with me again.”
“Sure!” She smiles happily. “How’s now?”
He matches her smile. “Now is perfect.”
He takes her to the local beach, empty, far enough from the city to avoid a hostage situation, but close enough to the streets for his aunt’s team to be positioned to make the arrest.
“You’re really cute, Nico... I hope we can see a lot more of each other from now on.”
Danika’s smile is perfect, her violet eyes teasing him and flirting, but Nicolas feels nothing but distaste for her. If he has to be in her company for a moment longer he’ll puke, so he makes the hand signal to bring his aunt in, and springs the trap. They’ll need confirmation she works for the Dracules before any arrest can be made.
“If you want to see more of me you’d have to stay here.” He says. “Because I’m not going back to my grandfather with you.”
“Why not? He’s paying good money for me to find you, and he’d never hurt a hair on your head. He just wants an heir, and you’re a far better match than your mom is.”
His jaw drops in surprise. He hadn’t expected the confession to be so... easy. Where’s the denial? The fighting? The cursing?
“You’re shit at protecting your mind.” She explains. “I can still read bits and pieces, enough to know you know who I work for.”
“The real question is why you dragged me all the way out here to talk... I may not be strong enough to physically knock you out and bring you to your grandfather, but I have other ways.”
“Don’t even think about it!” Pearl yells, startling Danika from her threat. “You’re not laying a finger on my nephew!”
This may not be the hardest punch Pearl’s given, or the best way to take Danika into custody... but damn it all, it felt GOOD. The war isn’t won just yet, but Pearl will savor winning this battle for a while.
This generation will never end O_O.