"You know me too well, ma petite."
"Just answer the question."
"I was going to say, unpredictableness."
I wasn't sure that had really been what he'd meant to say, but I let it go. He'd answered the question the only way he was willing to. I knew by now when he'd given me everything he was going to. I'd learned to let it go after that, because anything else was just frustrating, and rarely gained me anything. "Fine, I believe that you don't know what the hell we're doing either. Is there anyone that would have a clue about what might be happening to us?"
"I will think upon that, ma petite. There is no one that I know that has ever managed to form two triumvirates that intersect as ours seem to. But there may be those who could provide some more general information on triumvirates, or necromancy, or... in truth, ma petite, I don't even know where to begin to ask an intelligent question. I cannot go to most master vampires in the world with these questions. They would see it as weakness. I will think upon it and see if there is anyone we can ask." He sounded perplexed, which I didn't hear often in his voice.
"Alright, I'll call Marianne and see if she or her coven have any insights. I might even ask Tammy when she and Larry get back from their honeymoon. She is a witch, and her branch of the church has been dealing with supernatural talents for centuries. Who knows, maybe they have archives?"
"That is a good thought," he said, "Damian seems most distressed."
"You could say that."
"I do not know for certain, but if he were to go to his coffin and you not be near, I think he might sleep as he is meant to during the day."
"What if he just goes buggers again?"
"Put someone downstairs to watch him. Someone, not you or Nathaniel or Richard, someone that is not part of either triumvirate. If your watcher does not see him sleep, then they can yell for you to come and comfort him."
It wasn't a bad idea as ideas went, and I had nothing better. Also, I didn't want to spend the day baby-sitting Damian, or anybody for that matter. "I'll talk it over with him and see if he wants to try it."
"If he refuses, then you will, what, hold his hand all day?" There was the tiniest edge of jealousy. I hadn't expected that.
I spoke before I had time to think, which I'd tried to stop doing. "You're not mad at Damian about the sex are you? It wasn't planned."
"Now, ma petite, not the sex, though I do not lightly share you, no matter how reasonable I seem. No, it is that the three of you seem to have shared all four marks, though until I see you all together in the flesh, I will not be able to check that for certain. But if you share four marks and suddenly Damian is able to walk about in the sunlight, I must ask myself, if I had completed our triumvirate, would I now be a daywalker?"
Oh. "I guess I can see that, but you've been as reluctant as I am to finish the fourth mark. You said you were no longer certain who would be master and who would be slave because of my necromancy."
"And I am even less certain of it now, but to walk about in daylight as easily as moonlight might be worth the risk. If you have lost the ability to order Damian about, then that might be a telling thing."
"I'll try to order him around later and let you know."
"But there is also that immortality thing, not aging, neither Richard nor I were sure we wanted to give up being mortal."
"And if you have bound yourself to Damian with the fourth mark, might it already be a moot point, ma petite."
I stood there in my kitchen and was suddenly scared. "Shit," I whispered.
"Oui, if you have truly completed all the marks, then your mortality may be a thing of the past. If that were true, then taking the fourth mark with me would lose you nothing."
"And gain you the ability to walk in the day," I said, and my voice wasn't friendly when I said it, because I'd heard the tiniest bit of eagerness when he talked about walking in the daylight. I couldn't blame him, but Jean-Claude had been working on his power base for too long not to see the advantages of things. I couldn't blame him, but part of me wanted to. Part of me still wondered if I was more important to him for the power or love. Most of me knew that I would never know for certain, and truthfully, probably neither would Jean-Claude. Love was not the nice, neat, linear thing I'd wanted it to be. It was not just one thing, but many things. I could admit that one of the reasons I loved him was that he was hard to kill. His chances of up and dying on me were smaller than if he'd been human. A large part of me really liked that. I'd seen enough of what death could do, and at too young an age, not to appreciate it.
"Perhaps, or perhaps not, ma petite, this is more art than science, or so it would seem." His voice held a thread of anger in it.
"What are you pissy about? I'm not the one trying to pick a language you can't understand so I can hide things from you."
"And I am not the one, ma petite, that has f**ked another vampire, a lesser vampire, one of my own underlings."
Put that way, it did sound like he had grounds to be pissed. "Am I supposed to apologize?"
"Non, but I do not have to like it. He has come to your body, and now he is free of the tyranny of the dark. One I could forgive, but not both. Both is a bitter thing, ma petite."
"I am sorry," I said, "I didn't plan any of this."
"Of that I am certain. I am even certain that Damian planned none of it. Only you, ma petite, could keep having such accidental sex."
Accidental sex. He made it sound like I fell down, and there just happened to be an erection in the way. I kept that observation to myself. See, I am getting smarter. Out loud I said, "Accidental sex. That's one way of putting it. Am I ever going to inherit a vampire power that doesn't have sex involved somewhere in it?"
"I would never say for certain with you, ma petite, your necromancy makes you too much the wild card, but it is doubtful. So far you have inherited my powers, or Belle's, or some version thereof. To my knowledge Belle's powers revolve around sex, as do mine."
"Great, can you at least give me a list, so I'll have some idea what to expect?"
"I could, if you truly desire one."
I sighed. "No, just tell me in person when we see you tonight."
"Tonight? I was hoping that you might come earlier."
"We can't transport Damian in full daylight, his body might be fine, but I don't think his sanity would be. Besides, I've got to work this afternoon."
"Always the work, no matter what else is happening around you."
"Look, Jean-Claude, you've never seen what happens around me when I've gone too long between zombie raisings. Let's just say that I don't want a line of roadkill trailing after me, or worse yet, some 'accidental' zombie come shambling into my room."
"Are you saying that unused, your power raises the dead even if you do not wish to?"
"Yeah, I thought I'd told you that."
"You have told me of raising the dead by accident when you were a child. I assumed that was merely from lack of training and discipline."
"No," I said, "it took me years to admit it, but no. If I don't raise the dead on purpose, then it happens accidentally, or I start getting followed around by ghosts, or the spirits of the newly dead. I hate that last one, they always want me to take messages to their nearest and dearest, and it's always stupid messages. I'm fine, I'm happy, don't worry about me. What kind of message is that to knock on someone's door with? I'm this complete stranger, but your dead son told me to hunt you down and say he's fine. Nothing else, nothing urgent, just, I'm fine, don't worry." I shook my head. It had been years since I'd thought about that. "I raise zombies, and the dead leave me alone."
"Do they? Do they really, ma petite?" There was an edge of humor, but it held darker things.
"You aren't dead, Jean-Claude. I've seen dead, and whatever you guys are when you're up and running, dead isn't it."
"There was a time when you did not believe that. I believe you once called me a handsome corpse."
"Look, I was young, and I didn't know any better."
"Are you certain at last, ma petite, that I am not just a 'cute dead guy'?" Again he was quoting me.
"Yeah, I'm certain."
He laughed then, that touchable, raise-goosebumps-all-over-your-body sound. "I am glad of that. Do you speak Italian, ma petite?"