When the night was finally over, No-name Shinoda drove Kaleb and us home. I acquainted them and they both said hi. I could have asked for Shinoda’s first name, but I preferred to see if he’d tell me himself, I doubted it.
He drove both of us to my house and we got out.
“Want to come up?” I asked him. “Meet my mom?”
“Oh wow, we’re at the meet the parents phase?” He said with a small laugh. “Can’t say I ever got there.” Unlike me, Kaleb had had other flames, mostly brief adventures that ended as soon as they started, homelessness wasn’t a big foundation for a relationship.
I took him by the hand and dragged him inside and up the eight flights of stairs to the fourth floor, sixty-four steps was quite a lot. I opened the door, it was around eleven and my mother was in the kitchen.
“Where were you?” She asked when she heard me, her tone was full of reproach.
“I was with Kaleb and we were at the--”
“Lauren, don’t lie to me. I saw you on television. What were you doing at Coil’s place don’t you know wha-- who is he?” She caught herself when her eyes settled on Kaleb.
“Yes mom, I know! -- Wait how long have you know he’s a vampire?”
“Lauren the boy--”
“He knows, about everything.” I answered. “How long?”
“Since before you were born. Your father once mentioned the vampire who held all of California for himself, he’s why I decided to come, the city is not overrun with vampires.”
“No, but it’s overrun with magicians and shapeshifters.” I muttered.
“What have you gotten involved into, Lauren?”
“What I was born for, I stopped pretending otherwise.”
She tried to come closer and put a hand on my shoulder. “Lauren I understand how you feel but--”
“Stop it!” I yelled. “Stop saying you understand, because you don’t! For fifteen years I tried to live as if everything was normal, ignore the hunger, ignore the urges, pretend I was human that I’m human but I’m not and I never will…” I was crying. “You accepted me being transgender, but never the fact I was a dhampir… Is it really that different?”
“It is, this world will kill you, Lauren, the things in the night are dangerous. Being transgender and accepting it isn’t.”
“Really, is it? Why don’t we ask the seven transwoman murdered in the last four months in america.”
All through this, Kaleb held my hand and made his presence felt even if he wasn’t speaking.
“I can’t go back now. Even if I could, I wouldn’t… I can’t go back to using all of my strength to be weak, to cage myself once again… Beside, I work for Coil now, I’m bound to him.”
“Don’t you understand, Coil is a monster, one that other monsters are afraid of.”
“I guess that makes me half of a monster.” I said bitterly. “But is he really? In the last two weeks he’s been nothing but courteous toward me, not once has he misgendered me, he’s forgiven me trying to assassinate him and he’s accepted all of the demands I’ve made. In that span of time, I made more than you do in twenty years. We - I don't have to live in misery… I’ve made friends, I’ve made a boyfriend” I looked at Kaleb, or rather the blurry shape of him.
“I think it’s time we leave.” I said to him. “This isn’t working…”
“Where are you going, Lauren?”
“I guess I’ll have to call it home now…”
We left, Kaleb called Shinoda back for me and he drove us back to my lair.
Kaleb and I just went to bed, he cuddled against me as I cried my heart out until I fell asleep in his arms.
I smelled bacon.
I stirred from the massive expanse of blankets and rolled off the bed. A quick look in the mirror that I’d set by the door showed me how bad I looked. My makeup had run down and it looked like a pen had exploded in my face.
I went into the kitchen in nothing but underwears and saw Kaleb was at the kitchen appliances, cooking something up. Something containing delicious bacon. One of my records played in a low tone and he hummed to it.
“Morning.” I said
“Damn!” He answered looking disappointed.
“What’s that for?”
“I thought I’d surprise you with breakfast in bed, give you a little something nice and sweet.”
“Well, I still appreciate the thought.” I came closer and kissed his neck, peeking into the pan. Bacon cooked alongside scrambled eggs, a second pan held small pancakes. “You went all out.” I commented.
“Well, I always liked cooking, even if I’m not great at it, and the base has nothing but a pair of hot plate. Hard to make decent food with that, mostly warm up cans and boil water for ramen. Speaking of which, you have this nice kitchen, but all I found were cans of ready-to-eat food and bread, what’s up with that?”
“I despise cooking. I’m too lazy for it. Buuuuut, seems like I picked the right boyfriend. I’ll be in the shower.”
I went in the bathroom, which I considered having rebuilt, in the original loft, it had been more of an afterthought, it wasn’t much bigger than the one I had at my mom’s home. If I could, I’d add a spa bath and a large glass shower. I took the time to remove my now horrible makeup and felt like half my face came with it before hopping in. I stayed in an ungodly amount of time, until the water turned cold.
I couldn’t help but play in repeat the events of last night in my head. I felt bad for being so harsh and for storming out… I just wanted to introduce my mother to Kaleb, bring her back into my life as I’d pushed her away recently and now I’d completely cut her off… That made me feel miserable…
I hopped out of the shower and dried myself. I didn’t bother putting any makeup on that day or wearing anything fancy. I skipped to the bedroom and put on a baggy tee and jeans. When I came out, Kaleb had put two plates for us on the table. We ate together and it was really nice and sweet of him of having put it together. I was pretty good too, although he did put ketchup on his eggs, which was just weird.
“So, what do you want to do?” Kaleb asked me when we were done.
“I need to see Coil about setting up a meeting with someone.”
“Can I ask whom?”
“Grigori Maxwell, the Downtown sorcerer.”
“Yeah, I know him. What do you want with him?”
“I want him to help me become a better sorceress.”
“Being a badass dhampir is not enough?” He asked, teasing me.
“Not if I want to be ruling this city in twenty or so years. Beside, I have three ghosts now bound to me I have to feed every so often and a bogeyman now turned plush on my bed table. I need to know what in god’s name I’m doing.”
“You have big plans.”
“They’re Coil’s really. Maybe it’s a little early but it seems like if I want this to work, I need to work on the long term plan and that means gaining allies.”
“Like the darksiders?”
“If they want to join me.”
“You’re becoming a really scary chick, you know that? A very scary and sexy lady.”
I dragged the big flattered closer into a kiss.
“I may only be half a vampire, but I’m not going to do things halfway.” I declared. “That includes taking over this city.”