Ask Me Again
We left everyone in that club permanently changed. Every time I saw Aeryn she thoroughly surprised me and defied all expectations. She was so big; she had so many beautiful facets. For anyone only used to seeing in two dimensions in black and white she’d be invisible with her diamond and rainbow-reflecting light in three dimensions. Her very existence was a treasure. I wasn’t the only one who thought so. When I visited Mark’s room that night he was still very worked up. He yanked me into his room and kissed me before I could speak. I pushed his face away, saying, “Wait, wait. Not so fast. Calm down.”
He let me go and paced the room, baring his teeth. “It took all of my willpower not to take her on that floor. I bit a piece of my tongue off; that’s how much I was holding back. I already fucked Sam twice tonight but it didn’t help,” he groaned.
“Your tongue grew back, I hope?”
“It did.” He glanced at me and smirked.
“Why don’t we meditate? Calm you down some. As much as I’d love it we can’t spend all night having sex, which I can totally see you’re ready to do,” I stated pointedly.
He blushed a bit but managed to stop pacing. He stared out of the window. “I forget you read minds sometimes. But that’s a good idea. We do actually have business to complete tonight. And Evin, I know you’re watching us. You might as well make yourself visible. This will involve you, too,” he announced.
Grumbling, Evin appeared on top of the TV. “Shame on you, Evin. You promised you wouldn’t spy on me,” I scolded him.
“I’ve yet to see you make love to any vampire. I was simply curious, cherie,” Evin tried to explain.
“All you had to do is ask. You know better, Evin,” I sighed.
“Don’t be too angry with me, amour,” he begged. “I’ll behave now. I promise.”
“We’ll see.” I narrowed my eyes at him.
Mark seemed to blink in and out of existence as he moved to lay me down on the bed. “You can join if you like, Evin,” he invited. Evin laid down behind me as Mark and I matched breaths. I lowered my body temperature to better cool Mark down. Before long the energy from all three of us began to dance and merge. That thrum built up but we pulled it back before losing consciousness. We gently brought ourselves down and broke apart as we recovered. We lay there for about a half hour in companionate silence and then sat up. “I needed that,” Mark sighed contentedly. “Alright. Down to business.” He laid out the current plans for Aeryn and the vampires. Others would assume control of strategic resources, gather information about Others into a comprehensive educational platform, and assimilate humanity into the fold. They’d wipe out as many Soulless and Hunters as they could in the next 20 years. He thought Aeryn would be fit to rule within the next 15 years and he was preparing her castle for her. He trained and pruned containers to serve as her guard. He talked endlessly with the Vampire Council to garner support and set hard limits for power. The castle would be the perfect place for those closest to Aeryn. That’s why he wanted to move us to Italy, so that his family could protect ours if the shit hit the fan.
He wanted to have everyone of importance moved in within the next ten years. He would tell the Cambaccis, the Overlys, and my parents the reasons for the move and ask them to come as soon as they could. He’d personally pay for all of it; all we had to do was say yes. In the next year or so he would introduce us to his family so that we could learn to trust one another. Aeryn was due to “die” a little over five years from now. That’s when she’d be moved to Italy and begin assuming her role as queen of the vampires. Riel was working with the lycans and witches to provide extra support for the war. Right now vampires were dropping like flies. I suppose the Hunters had officially found their next target. By now we were seated out on the balcony. Mark had his feet propped up on the rail as he puffed away. Evin lay across the rail, listening intently. I sat across from Mark with my legs folded Indian style, admiring him. “The witches should be able to care for Ramailo’s coven. We can offer his family and coven space as well,” he added after a silence.
“I’ll let him know,” I informed him. “Can anything be done about the vampires?”
“We’re fighting back. And mobilizing containers. But they need their queen most of all. That’s the highest priority. It might seem fucked up but-”
“No need to explain. We understand,” Evin interrupted. “If Others are ever going to have room in the world she’s the one who can bring it about. Without her there are no Others,” he went on quietly, thoughtfully.
Mark nodded slowly. “You sensed it, then.”
“I’m quite a nosy ghost, if you haven’t noticed. I’ve been brushing up on my history and I put two and two together. I’m not all fun and games all the time. I do my homework,” Evin remarked.
“I’m impressed, Evin,” I piped up.
“Well done… Mm, I don’t know about the two of you but I could use a bit of fun and games right now,” Mark said, putting out his cigarette.
“I have an idea. Let’s see how good of a hunter you are,” I replied, setting my feet down flat and leaning forward. “Evin, you can play, too. Mark, I want you to come find me. I’ll turn invisible and hide somewhere. Evin will, too. If you find me first you get me. If you find Evin first then he gets me.”
Both of them perked up. “I like the sound of that. Mask as much of your scent and energy as you can,” Mark instructed me, his voice already husky.
“Can I at least watch if he catches you first?” Evin asked me.
“Of course you can, Evin. Thank you for asking,” I told him warmly. “Give us a half hour to hide,” I addressed Mark.
“Will do, lass. Let the game begin,” he agreed, full of anticipation. He went into the room and into the bathroom so he wouldn’t see which direction we went in. Evin vanished. I stood on the balcony, sealing off my smell and energy in separate realms. I turned invisible and jumped from the ledge, creating a barrier on which to land and run. I used my zoom-in vision to scope out potential hiding spots near and far. I hopped across cars and leaped through the trees. I finally holed up on the ledge of a cliff face some miles away. I laid down and stared up at the full moon and thousands of visible stars. I emptied my mind and simply took it in. Gorgeous. I zoomed in as much as I could. I could almost see the distorted space around the closest stars. Bent space. The world was nothing like it seemed to be. That reminded me of something Nathan Reighlight had told me years ago. I’d shown him and his husband some pages from my comic and Nathan had shared his idea with me for a new kind of ship. A spaceship, to be precise. He’d shown me drawings (lo and behold, he was a physicalist, as well!). He even had 3D painted models of the ship and the engine. The Bent Drive, as he affectionately called the engine, punctured space and twisted it so extremely that it broke through completely. Most designs for FTL travel relied on warping space or using other dimensions.
The Bent Drive pretty much said fuck all that and utterly destroyed the concept of space altogether. It fed off of potential energy and travelled by entanglement. That potential energy was the same energy that was supposed to explode every bit of space each and every moment. And the energy that everyone forgot to account for with warp drives-the energy that needed to dissipate after jumping through space that had to go somewhere-actually had a solution on an A Seriesen (Nathan’s name for his ship). The Bent Drive could reabsorb that massive amount of energy released from travelling by shortcut. In that way it was the finest example of a perpetual motion machine I’d ever seen. The overall design sounded fantastic. I’d told him that if he ever managed to make it reality I wanted to know about it. I’d been joking at the time but after talking with Soleceet I had to really wonder if Nathan was an alien. I wouldn’t have been surprised in the least. I hoped we’d get to see him again.
All of a sudden, Mark was on top of me. I jumped. “Where did you come from? How did you find me so easily?” I asked, becoming visible.
“I’m a world-class hunter, babe. You hid well but I’m better.” He grinned, lifting my shirt to run his hands over my skin. “Your temperature is different to what’s around you. Next time match it to the rocks.”
He started kissing my neck and moving lower. His fingers brushed my waist and hips. “I found you first, by the way.”
“Then we should go find Evin. I said he could watch. Besides, this rock isn’t the most comfortable,” I reminded him.
“Alright. Mean girl makin’ me wait,” he grumbled with a smirk.
“Hey. I’m just making sure you earn it.” I stuck my tongue out at him. He captured it between his lips and kissed me deeply. I moaned and he pulled away, smug. I jumped on his back and he took to the sky in search of Evin. I noticed he was whistling and asked him why.
“Ghosts have a different frequency than anything else in nature. I can hear subtle differences in the way things vibrate. I’m searching for a deviation that can’t be accounted for naturally,” he explained.
“Remind me to never cross you,” I mumbled as he resumed whistling. He squeezed my naked thigh (no point in wearing pants here; shorts and skirts only) and I did my best not to squeeze him with my legs. He had the best hands. To take my mind off of it I listened carefully to the way everything vibrated. I cast a realm over my eyes so that I could visualize the sounds since I couldn’t process every vibration. It reminded me of travelling through realms. That actually made perfect sense-the universe at large was really just vibrating energy. The fact that Mark had honed that reality to his advantage was monumentally fascinating. He was a formidable man. I searched the surrounding area for the deviations he was talking about. There wouldn’t be very many at all, seeing as there were so few ghosts left. “Over there,” Mark nodded towards the roof of a building. I saw one thin string that was severely out of tune with the general sound of the background. Mark landed, set me down, and pounced at it.
Evin laughed as he appeared beneath Mark. “Fantastique!” he praised.
Mark climbed to his feet and helped Evin up. “That was fun. We’ll have to make a regular thing of this. Keep my senses sharp,” he reasoned.
“We’d love to help,” Evin replied.
“Let’s get back to the room and sharpen your senses a different way,” I cooed to Mark, wrapping my arm around his neck and using my pinky to draw on his chest.
He shivered and picked me up. “Absolutely. Whatever you say, Ani.” He carried me back to the room and loved me so thoroughly I slept in until evening. They left me undisturbed and went out for the day. I walked a little funny back to my room to get showered and dressed and did some stretching to ease my sore muscles. As if he knew I was ready, Jack paged me to let me know where they were. I made my way to the hotel with the pirate ship water park where Joey, Aeryn, Sam, and Cal were chasing Mejir around. I kissed Jack good evening and sat down between Jesse and Davis. Davis hopped up and snuggled into the chair beside me, kissing my cheek. “Hey, sweetie. Mark wore you out good, huh?” he greeted.
“He always does.” I let out a breath as if still exhausted.
He chuckled. “Listen, love. I know you probably haven’t eaten yet. I took the liberty of having a meal sent up to the room. Will you join me there? There’s something I’d like to ask you,” he requested.
“Sure.” I rose to my feet and followed him back to the room.
“Go ahead and get comfy on the balcony. I need to grab something,” Davis informed me. I took a seat as he set the table. He went back in to wait for our dinner. The caterer showed up a few minutes later and Davis brought the food out and made our plates. He went inside one last time to grab his guitar and propped it up on the rail while we ate.
“Are you going to play for me finally?” I wondered.
“Yes, I am. Been working on something for a while now. Top secret stuff.” His green eyes gleamed with mischief.
“Ooh. Can’t wait. I can’t believe I’ve never seen you perform in the three years I’ve known you.” I shook my head.
“I have a bit of stage fright, believe it or not,” he divulged, passing me my dessert.
I dug in gratefully. He watched me closely while I ate, studying my face. “What is it?” I asked him.
“I love you. You’re so beautiful,” he spoke in that way that sent skitters through me. His pupils widened and I could sense his heart beat faster.
“Are you nervous?”
He nodded. “I’ve never done anything like this. I have no idea what you’ll think. So I’ll just get started.” He leaned down and picked up his guitar. I felt a bit nervous myself. I couldn’t read his mind at the moment and the way he was acting… What was he going to ask? I took a few deep breaths and smiled when he did the same. He closed his eyes after tuning his guitar and then started strumming chords. He played a soft intro followed by a complicated ballad. His fingers moved as if they were made for the strings, bringing life to the notes and the music. The rest of the world fell away as he played and there was nothing else but him. I was completely captivated. And when he began to sing my ears laughed. His head dipped to and fro as he rocked back and forth. He sang in Spanish so I only understood bits and pieces. The emotion and the gist of it were fairly easy to grasp. I could feel the love pouring out of his mouth, from his fingers and his body, even from the guitar itself. He glowed. He finished the song and bowed his head, breathing hard. I returned to Earth and noticed there were tears streaming down my face. Davis finally looked up at me and his eyes were all pupil. “Ani, sweetie…” he said, pulling something out of his pocket. A small black box. He pushed it across the table towards me.
With trembling hands I opened it. I furrowed my brow as I saw what was inside. This couldn’t be right. I gawked at it for a while and then glanced up at Davis to ask him what the hell only to find Jack now standing in front of me. I shrieked and nearly fell out of my chair but Jack caught me and righted me. He sat down in the free chair and smiled bashfully. “What’s the meaning of this? What are you boys up to?” I interrogated them, eyeing them both suspiciously.
“Ani, there’s something that’s been on my mind for a while now. I’m finally ready to find out the answer to a question I’ve had for so many months. Remember that thing I was writing about but couldn’t share with you? I’m brave enough to share it now. But I needed Davis’ help. I was too nervous to do it on my own,” he babbled, chuckling nervously. “Davis can always calm me down and that’s why I had him set it up this way. Originally I simply wanted Davis to sing a song while I handed this to you. It was actually Jesse’s idea to prank you like this. We hope you’re not too pissed.”
“Not pissed. Just very, very confused,” I replied.
“That’ll clear up in a moment. This box is from me,” he gulped. “Marry me, Ani?” he asked.
“What?” I blinked.
“Marry me,” he repeated in a firmer tone.
“You really expect me to wear this?” I raised an eyebrow.
“I’ll give you your proper ring later, I promise. But this one isn’t for your finger,” he laughed.
“So I noticed. The other ring is pink, too, is it?”
“The band is. I couldn’t resist. You know how much I love you in pink. So what do you say, little ma’am? Want me to be your Mister?”
“Oh, Jack. You know I love you, right?” I smiled at him.
“I love you, Ani. Sorry if I’ve never said.” He stroked my face.
“Let me know when you’re ready to get pierced for that. Evin wants to watch and Sam offered to do the piercing,” Davis piped up. “By the way, I actually do have a question.”
“So it wasn’t a complete ruse, then?” I giggled.
“Only a little bit. Jack, Ani, I’d love it if you lived with me until we move to Italy. Would you like to do that?”
I hopped into Jack’s lap and placed my feet in Davis’ lap. “Ask me again, Davis. After I punish you both for tricking me,” I grinned evilly.
They laughed and carried me inside.