Coral’s had enough. She isn’t sure if there is anything wrong with her, but she needs to know. She should have been pregnant by now!
A few hours later she’s wondering if it would have been better not to know. She can’t have kids, at least not for a long long time. The doctors who’d saved Trinity when Jeffery had first bitten Coral hadn’t realized anything was wrong at the time. Now it looked like the trauma from the sudden change had done quite a bit of harm.
Coral knew most transformations took three days, hers had completed in less than a day. What else was wrong with her? Was she sick? Was she really a vampire? No one could tell her since no one really knew.
Nico was at a loss for what to do. His wife was hurting and there was nothing he could do to make her feel better. They’d both been so excited for another child, now to hear it wouldn’t be happening? And that’s assuming being unable to have another child was the only side affect of the sudden transformation.
“I’ll be alright.” She tells him, trying to convince herself it’s the truth. “I don’t... feel sick. Everything will be fine.”
“Coral...” He says her name to try and comfort her but it has the opposite result. Her tears finally start flowing and she falls into his arms, shaking with sobs.
Gem goes over to Gator’s house some evenings. Gator's parents divorced, both already re-married to others and both know that criticizing Gator’s choice on friends would just drive him away. He’s the only child left in the house since both his older siblings have married too.
Gator doesn’t want to marry, and he can’t believe how serious Gem’s getting with Sophie. Sure she’s hot and Gator wouldn’t mind tapping that, but a relationship? Hell no.
Sophie calls and asks Gem out so he rushes home to wash up before their date. As soon as he sees his dad on the couch he knows he’s going to be late.
He sits down next to his dad, like the good son, waiting for him to speak.
Finally, Nico does. “Coral and I... we just found out she can’t have another child. It’s going to be difficult to accept that.”
Gem says the worst possible thing. “Isn’t that a good thing? I mean, scientifically speaking you guys were lucky Trinity came out alright.”
It takes Nico a grand total of two seconds to realize what Gem meant. “You... know?”
Gem nods. “I know. I overheard you and Coral talking about my mom and I tried to find out more. Gator found me a camera phone video of your... I dunno, I guess it was your break up? She said Coral was your aunt.”
Nico can’t believe his ears. “And you’ve just been keeping this to yourself? Why didn’t you talk to me?”
Gem shrugs. “What would I have said? Hey dad, is it true you married your aunt? Why is she the same age as you? Why don’t you ever talk about where you guys came from? Where does Jade fit into the picture? And who the heck is my mom and why did you say she tried to kill me?”
Nico sighs, exasperated but knowing this conversation has been a long time coming. “I suppose you’re old enough to know. Yes Coral is my aunt. She’s actually younger than me, but not by much. My parents gave me up to try and protect me from my mother’s side of the family and I was raised by my aunt, Pearl in a town named Autumn Falls. Coral’s mom died in childbirth and her dad died not long after so her sister took her in as well and we were raised together. Jade was Pearl’s biological daughter. She was a baby compared to us so Coral and I just got used to taking care of her. The three of us were the closest out of Pearl’s six charges.”
“And where does my mom come into all this?”
“She...” Nico doesn’t even know where to begin. “You remember how a vampire broke in here a while back and attacked Coral? Well, he was my grandfather and when I was a child he did everything to try and kidnap me. In one attempt he sent a teenage girl named Danika Darling to seduce me. It didn’t work and she went to jail. After I became an adult and my grandfather was in jail I ran into her again. She claimed to be reformed, and I believed her. By this time I’d been dating Coral for a while and we had plans to leave town together after her own birthday. However a few days before Coral’s birthday Danika called me and asked for my help in getting a job with the local paper. My family was sort of made up of minor celebrities and an interview would do wonders for her so I agreed to help.”
This is the part of the story Nico would rather not tell. “When we met for the interview she uh...” He sighs and decides to just say it. “Gem you never got to know her, and you should be happy for that. Your mother was the world’s biggest bitch. She decided on a whim it would be easier to just extort money and become a celebrity rather than get a job. Our ‘relationship’ was sparked from her demanding I act as if I loved her, otherwise she would tell everyone I was with Coral. I tried my hardest to go with it, and Coral tried to be strong certain it would all be over once Danika found someone else to latch onto, but before she could move on she got pregnant with you.”
“I saw that part.” Gem states with a shaky voice. “You said you you didn’t want me.”
“I said that to get her off my back.” Nico lies. “I wanted you but if I told her that she’d have even more over me. So I waited for you to be born and sued for custody.”
How anti-climatic. “So that’s it then? You got custody and my mom’s off somewhere being nuts?”
“Not quite...” Nico goes on. “I was winning the custody battle. There was no doubt really, my family was supportive, we lived in a good house and my mom knew the judges well so it was obvious I’d get you. But Danika couldn’t stand that so she...”
“She tried to kill me.” Gem finishes for him. “But how?”
“She didn’t just try to kill you.” Nico’s hands are shaking with anger now. It’s Danika’s actions that really made him give in to the darker side of him. He remembers looking at his baby boy in the hospital, skin sickly pale with no one able to tell him wether or not Gem would live. He remembers going to Danika’s house, remembers leaving her broken and alone in her basement, door locked. He doesn’t know who found her there eventually, but he knows she didn’t survive the attack.
“She... she gave you the vampire-be-gone cure. You were just a baby and she put the whole dosage on your bottle and then she packed her bags and left. A neighbor saw her leave without you and found you unconscious on the floor. Everyone thought you were going to die, the dosage was too much for a baby but you were strong and you made a full recovery. At least physically.”
“What do you mean?”
“Gem, can you read my mind? Anyone’s mind? Trinity can, she does it all the time and she’s half your age.”
That’s always been a sore spot for Gem. He can’t read minds, he isn’t a natural genius like the other vampires, he’s just... him. “No dad, I can’t. Why is Trinity to much stronger than me? When could you read minds?”
“I’ve been reading them since I was a child.” Nicolas explains. “But that’s because I’m a true vampire. So are Coral and Trinity. You... aren’t. I’ve seen the results of the cure on you as you grow up, one day you’ll become fully human. I don’t know when, but you’ll never be a full vampire. I wasn’t sure when to tell you, I kept hoping it wasn’t true but its obvious to me now that it is. I’m sorry, I wasn’t sure how to tell you.”
Gem feels his world break into pieces.
He goes out for a walk, noting his constantly ringing phone on his hip. He knows its probably Sophie, wondering where he is but he just can’t talk to her right now. What would he even say? He’s sure she doesn’t care either way if he’s a vampire or human but that’s almost part of the problem. She doesn’t care, and he needs someone who knows how big a deal this is, but won't make him feel like he’s being a burden.
Walking through the town park he catches a glimpse of white fairy wings from the corner of his eye. Pip Goodfellow. That must mean a certain brunette has to be around here somewhere...
He turns and she’s right behind him. Despite having no wings, Fawn’s steps are as a silent as if she really could fly. Perhaps if gem were a true vampire he could sense her coming, but he’s not, so she manages to sneak up on him every time. “I didn’t expect to run into you tonight, Gem. We haven’t talked in, like, forever! What’s going on?”
He doesn’t want to talk, but one look at her and he knows that she’s the only person he really can talk to right now. She’s the only one who might understand. “I uh, have you ever felt lost? Like you don’t know who you are anymore? Like you thought you did, but one sentence sends all that flying and you can’t even think because you don’t-”
“You know I do.” She interrupts, careful to keep her voice down so her father won’t hear. “Now what’s all this about? I thought you had, like, a good thing going on right now.”
He trusts her enough to tell her. “Today my dad told me that my birth mom tried to poison me with the vampire be-gone formula. I lived, but its turning me human with every passing day. I’m never going to be a full vampire, and I’m going to live a short life and then die as a human.”
“Oh Gem...” There’s such sadness in her voice, so much caring in her touch as she hugs him close. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that. But I’m here for you if you want to talk, I’ve gone through all of this too.”
As he pulls away from her hug their eyes meet. He’d never realized just how bright a blue they really were. She looked nothing like her parents, or her siblings.
He feels... safe with her, like he could tell her anything. They weren’t even friends really, not any more so he couldn’t explain the connection.
Fawn’s hands trail down his arms until they meet his. At the touch of her bare skin against his he feels a little jump in his chest. He was nervous suddenly, couldn’t think of what to say to her, and... were his hands sweaty? Oh great, they were sweaty.
“I uh... I...”
She smiles and he feels the jump again. “If you’re not ready to talk about it yet, don’t worry. I’ll be here when you need me.”
“Its not that...” He sighs, neither of them noticing Tristan Rodgers-Van Gould watching them from the other side of the park. “I just... I really need to go. Um, Sophie’s been calling and I really need to apologize for missing my date with her. I had some shit to go through, and just saying it out loud really helped. I appreciate it, but i have to go find my girlfriend, see if she’ll still be here for me if I’m a human.”
Fawn feels her heart breaking as he walks away. Of course Sophie will be there for him, vampire or human Gem’s still Gem. Sophie’d warned her to stay away from her boyfriend, and for the most part Fawn had behaved. Now she wasn’t so sure if letting Sophie bully her around would do anymore.
She’s so caught up in her own thoughts she doesn’t even notice Gem turn his face to look back at her as he leaves.
With his dad and new mother-in-law out for dinner Gator would normally be thrilled to see a teenage girl at his doorstep. But when he recognizes the girl as his best friend’s girlfriend his smile disappears. She’s crying, so despite his better judgement, Gator invites her inside.
She’s in his arms instantly, just bawling into his chest. He doesn’t know what to do, so he just pats her back softly. “There there? What’s uh... wrong?”
“He... he’s cheating on me...”
She says it in between sobs, but he understands her. Gem cheated on her? With whom? He figures the best bet would be Fawn, goodness knows Gator himself has tried to get with her enough times to find her iressistable, but she’s nothing compared to Sophie. “Are you sure? How do you know Gem cheated?”
She’s choking back her sobs now, trying to calm down as she pulls away. “My brother saw him with Fawn. He was supposed to be out with me, I waited for him for HOURS! I kept calling, scared that maybe he’d been in an accident or something and I knew he’d been at your house so I was on my way here to see if maybe he’d gotten distracted, then Tristan called and told me he was watching Gem making eyes at Fawn, and holding her hands and... and... I just didn’t know where else to go. I feel so alone.”
He invites her to sit down, taking a seat next to her. “There has to be an explanation, Sophie. Gem isn’t the kind of guy to do that. I’ve known him since our first day of elementary school, and he’s absolutely crazy over you.” It isn’t quite the truth. Sure he’s certain Gem does like Sophie, but he’s never specifically gone on and on about her like a lovesick puppy. Hell, he doesn’t even snap at Gator if he makes a sex joke about her!
In truth, the only time Gator’s ever seen Gem showing any kind of strong emotion was the day after he found the video about Gem’s parents. He’s watched it too, so he knows Gem’s dad and step-mom are related, but Gem threatened to murder him if he told anyone so Gator’s been keeping that a secret.
“I wish that were true.” Sophie sighs, speaking in reference to Gator's comment about Gem loving her. “But this is the second time now my brother’s caught them together. I was willing to believe last time that he was just being friendly, but I told Fawn to never go near him again! What if they’ve been doing this to me this whole time? I haven’t slept with Gem, but he doesn’t act like it matters so what if he’s doing it with her?”
“He’s not sleeping with her.” Gator states, completely certain of that. “And he told me he isn’t sleeping with you because your brother threatened to beat him to a pulp if he got you pregnant. And you know Gem would never do anything to get his pretty face dirty.”
Sophie actually smiles at that joke.
The grandfather clock in the room starts chiming the hour and with a sigh Sophie stands up. “I guess I’d better get going before it gets too late. My dad’ll be worried.”
Gator catches himself staring at her butt. Right now she’s vulnerable and feeling alone. It would be so easy to take advantage of that and finally see if he can find what his friend sees in her, but at the same time she’s his best friend’s girlfriend.
If there’s a line, Gator’s never been able to see it, and thus ignores its existence completely in moments like this.
He stands up after her, and turns her towards him, cupping her chin with his hand and giving her his best “caring eyes” expression. The one that never fails to make girls melt. “If Gem really is cheating on you he’s a fool. Fawn has nothing on you and never will. You’re beautiful, Sophie, and I’d give anything to have you.”
Even with all that, Gator expected a bit of a fight, maybe even a slap if she’d really loved Gem as much as she claimed to. Instead she instigates the kiss, melting into his arms as he wraps his own arms around her.
Well there's no going back from here. Been planning all these arcs for a while now and its nice to finally get over that last hump and have everything into play at long last.
Only one direction to go from here. And that's straight down.