Chapter 8Mature

Perry returned speedily and Maeve was disappointed to see him frowning at her as she let him in.

"Was it really necessary to be so nasty to her?" he asked as she closed the window, resignedly shutting him in with her.

"She's horrific," Maeve said. "How can she tell me to bow down to you?"

"If you had power, you'd understand," Perry said through clenched teeth. "You are naïve."

"I just believe in wrong and right," Maeve said calmly. "We should all treat each other fairly."

"The world doesn't work like that, Maeve. You can want equality and justice as much as you like but it will never arrive."

"Who are you to say that?" she questioned, her tone now edging on cross. "You don't know it won't turn out like that."

"Maeve, I'm psychic. I'm practically an expert on human nature. There are too many people out there who never stop to think about other people. This in an age where you have the TV, the radio, the newspapers and the Internet to alert you of their suffering. It takes a person to change themselves and that change rarely happens. But that's all beside the point. You were downright rude to Chloe."

"Why did you laugh at my joke, then?" Maeve asked plainly. "That didn't really discourage me."

Perry sighed. "I probably shouldn't have laughed. But it's one thing to think something like that and another to say it out loud. Especially since you're a human. It's extremely reckless to offend a preternatural being. If I were a stranger to you, I'd bite you if you angered me. You humans need putting in your place."

Maeve felt patronised and indignant and angry. How could he stand there talking to her like this?

"Perhaps I refuse to accept that I'm inferior!" was the resultant exclamation. She quietened down as she continued to communicate all the emotions which had built up over all of the time that Perry had been nasty. Her voice was low and intense: she had had enough.

"Have you ever been told that you're lower than someone else? It's horrible. It threatens to break your spirit and turn you into a shell of the person you used to be. It tries to take purpose away from your life. It attempts to destroy your self-esteem. I would rather be bitten a thousand times than let my life become a misery."

"I'd do worse after ten times," Perry said darkly. "I'd force you to do something great. Something that was totally against your moral code, something that symbolised, or, indeed, was a form of servitude. You wouldn't need to worry about your self-worth then."

Maeve found herself chilled to the core, especially by Perry's tone and the look in his eyes as he spoke.

"You can do that?" she whispered. "Before you implied it ... but I never really believed you. ... You can totally break me?"

"Mind control," Perry replied coldly, "is unlimited and infallible. ‘Yes' is your answer."

"So all those times when I thought I had a choice, all those times I marvelled at the free will of the human race..." Maeve was trembling inside, terrified by the idea they were talking about.

"You were being told the greatest lie of your life. Actually, there's one thing I can't make you do and that's commit suicide but when I can indirectly make you want to, I hardly think that's worth mentioning."

Maeve looked up into Perry's eyes, despairing as she found nothing which could indicate he was lying, and said "But there must be a sign of goodness and purity: there must!"

Perry shook his head.

Maeve slid heavily off her bed, landing on her knees. She didn't care about the physical pain: the inner pain was worse.

"I wouldn't do that to you if you behaved," Perry said quietly. "But you must promise not to insult Chloe again."

"I promise," she murmured.

***

Something about Maeve's defeat bothered Perry. He felt strongly that she wasn't meant to be this way. It wasn't her defiant personality, it wasn't the subtle proudness of her beauty, it was... It was the first thing he had noticed about her. The way that she was natural.

It was definitely unnatural for her to be kneeling on the floor at his feet, head bowed slightly, agreeing to a promise she probably wouldn't, had he not told her he could break her spirit.

Somewhere, somehow, Nature had got it wrong. Maeve wasn't meant to be a human. In fact, Perry would go as far as to say that she was meant to be a vampire.

He didn't say this, though. It took much more than seeming natural to gain the right to be Turned.

***

"So, am I your slave now?" Maeve asked numbly.

"No, of course not," Perry replied, with unexpected feeling.

Maeve was so torn up by what Perry had told her that her emotions had been messed up and aspects of her personality had briefly changed.

Dully, she said "So you're not my master?"

"Maeve, don't be this way," Perry implored her.

A flash of her defiance returned to her as she looked up at him and responded "Don't be how? Can't you see what's happened? Those things you said would come of an exploitation of your powers over me - it feels like that. And all it took was the awareness."

"Maeve, you still have free will."

"At what cost? What use is the strongest, most gratifying force in your life if you know it can be taken away?!"

"Don't you want to fight?" he asked quietly.

"Of course I do," she answered, re-averting her eyes. "I just don't see how I can presently."

"All hope isn't lost," Perry murmured. "It's just tucked away in some deep pocket of the universe, waiting for you to find it. Don't give up."

"What do I do about my inferiority, then?"

Perry paused, seeming uncomfortable.

Maeve waited patiently, still kneeling at his feet.

After a long silence, Perry sighed.

"You've still got to be careful. You can't stand up to supernatural creatures. But you don't have to feel inferior: just act it."

"Okay."

Perry's mood lightened, the evidence in his tone as he asked "Do you want me to make you lunch?"

"If you like. How's your thirst?"

Perry sounded shocked as he answered "It's fine! Maeve, I thought you were all right now."

"I am," Maeve said, rising to her feet. "I just feel a little different."

"Do I need to hypnotise you?" Perry asked, raising an eyebrow.

"No!" she said violently. "Enough messing up my life! If you can't deal with it, tough."

Perry smiled. "That's my girl."

"No to that as well. I'm still my own person and I intend to stay that way for a long time."

"Sure. Just don't annoy me."

Maeve nodded and left the room, leading Perry down to the kitchen. She fed Ebbie who came up to her and meowed as they entered before pretending to order Perry to cook her some pasta bolognese. Surprisingly he had been serious about making lunch. Soon, the kitchen was filled with the gorgeous smell of lamb mince as Perry displayed a surprising knowledge of the methods of human food preparation.

*

"I'm not usually this nice," Perry warned as he sat before Maeve and watched her tuck into the meal. "Girls who bitterly hate me are just harder to seduce. And completely submissive girls are pathetic."

Maeve rolled her eyes.

Perry scowled.

"Okay, okay," she said after swallowing a mouthful of bolognese. "I just don't think you should be ashamed if you are nice." She resumed eating.

"Well, I'm not."

"Did you ever think that niceness might be an attractive personality trait?" Maeve asked.

"Nope. Darkness wins every time. Even with the girls who think they don't like that in a guy." He winked at her.

"I told you I don't like cockiness," Maeve said calmly.

"I don't value a human's advice."

Maeve lowered her cutlery and sat back in her chair, folding her arms.

"Fine. I don't value you. And that means I don't appreciate the things you do for me, which means I'm not going to finish this food."

"Don't be daft," Perry said.

"Who's being daft? If you're going to rub my inferiority in my face, why should I show you any decency?"

"It's food, Maeve. You're hardly showing great admiration of me by eating it."

"I don't care. I owe you nothing."

Perry sighed. "Fine. But you're the one who's going to get hungry."

Maeve stood up from the table.

"Bye, Perry," she said cheerfully, and she went to the living room to call her mum to tell her she was going shopping. She fetched her handbag, purse and mobile from upstairs and returned to Perry, who was still sitting in the kitchen.

"Hey, I'm going shopping so you're going to have to decide whether you're staying here or going out yourself."

Perry looked amused. "Can I come with you?"

Maeve considered it.

"If you behave," she replied.

"And what happens if I don't?" he asked, standing up.

"I pretend I don't know you, ignore you. If you're really awful, I might tell a policeman you're scaring me."

Perry chuckled. "What if I use mind control on you?"

Maeve sighed and turned around, starting to head for her front door.

"Well, afterwards, I'll hate you forever but if it's possible during your exploitation of your power over me, I'll act totally submissive and overdo my subservience."

"That doesn't sound too bad," Perry remarked.

"Well, no, I didn't think it would to an evil person."

Perry chuckled again.

"Oh, and if we see any of my friends, you're my cousin," Maeve said as they stepped out of the house.

"Aw but where's the fun in that?" he asked.

She locked the door and turned to look up into his eyes.

"If my friends think that I like people whose character is like yours, they'll either think something major has happened to me or that I have two sides to my personality, neither of which situation I relish the thought of. And if you cause me to lose a friend..." Maeve trailed off, shaking her head at how far Perry might go to entertain himself.

"What can you do?" he finished for her, neither sounding triumphant nor jeering as he echoed the desolate thoughts which undercut Maeve's attempt to transform the resultant anger and hatred from his suggested action into a response that a non-violent, essentially lovely person would actually carry out.

"I don't know," she said in defeat. "But please don't, Perry; please don't."

Her tone and eyes, and even something in the way that her desperate heart was beating, were pleading but Perry merely shrugged. 

"It's not a promise I can keep," he said.

Maeve didn't say anything. She didn't speak a single word as they walked all the way to town.

*

Once in town - little more than a high street with rows of shops, linking upwards and downwards other lanes of shops about halfway down and lining the town square at the end - Maeve announced "I'm shopping for books, stationery and clothes while I'm here. I don't care where you go as long as you don't make trouble."

Perry didn't appear to be listening. He was gazing in the direction of a little alley beside the small theatre which Maeve knew led to the car park.

"Perry?" Maeve said, through gritted teeth.

Perry looked down and gave her an unnerving smile.

"Ever felt so much desire it took over?"

Maeve involuntarily stepped back.

"Don't," she hissed.

Perry suddenly took her hand and pulled her over to a bench. Maeve only allowed him to do this because she didn't want to cause a scene. At least he wasn't trying to do anything like kiss her.

"You know I desire you, right?" Perry asked. "That it's a strain sometimes to hold myself back?"

"Perry, shut up," Maeve moaned. "I don't want anything you're offering unless it involves love. And no, that does not include the thing you give to girls like Chloe."

"Oh, can you stop thinking about love?" Perry said in exasperation.

"No!" Maeve replied indignantly. "It's the only thing I think should define an intimate relationship."

"I should've remembered your lack of experience," Perry muttered. "Your emotions haven't matured enough for you to feel desire."

"That's not true," Maeve said quietly, ignoring the insult.

Perry laughed nastily. "And who was it for? Someone you couldn't have?"

"No," Maeve said, standing up angrily. "It was for someone I'm ashamed to feel anything for."

"Like me then?"

"No. It was you." She walked off in fury, almost muttering to herself about how horrid Perry was and how much she hated him but stopping herself so she didn't earn odd stares. She only calmed down as she entered her favourite bookstore.

***

The End

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