Chapter 16:

What Do You Hold Dear?

Blood? Suckers!


“I want big room!”

Neve runs through the front door of our beautiful new apartment, making her way swiftly to the master bedroom.

The new house has a completely different feel to it; we are three stories up now, so a little higher than before.

The biggest difference between the two places is the amount of natural light; I felt comfortable in Bell’s house because of its dark nature. In contrast, between the white walls and the large windows, this place almost reminds me of a certain void between states of being I have made a trip to once.

I think about Death, which in turn makes me think of the next small human to make their way into my life, and how utterly similar the two of them are. They’d get along great I reckon.

“Don’t you just sleep in a coffin? Why do you need the big room, huh? You’d be fine in a linen closet.”

I pick up Neve under her shoulders and plop her down in front of the closet next to the master bedroom. It’s quite roomy if I say so myself.

“Have you ever seen me sleep in a coffin, huh? I sleep in a bed, just like you!”

Uh, Neve – you’re breaking character a little bit there.

The baby bloodsucker crosses her arms and menacingly stares directly into my eyes.

Okay, maybe you’re a little scary now! Please go back to old Neve, I know I said I missed you before but now I’ve gotten used to you. I promise I will never make fun of your child form again.

Before I can even think, I prostrate myself and lean into a bow.

“Please, Neve-sama! Please go back to the way you were before.”

I lift my head slightly with one eye open to get a peek at her reaction.

“Papa idiot, Neve same always. Jeez.”

She dons a cheeky smile, somewhat reminiscent of the one Bell emits from time to time; but there is a playfulness in hers that warms my heart in a completely different way.

What are these guys doing to me? I’m not even sure I like feeling this happy, where is the despair that I have shrouded myself in for so long? How can a smile break so many walls built over the years?

It’s uncomfortable; it’s like I want to run away as fast as I can but also protect their happiness. I want to return the favour but also return to the dark cave I came out of.

Maybe this is what having kids is like, hell, maybe this is what having people close to you in general feels like.

“Neve still mad, closet not home for child.”

She’s got me there.

I put my hand on Neve’s shoulder and guide her across the brand-new apartment. In its current state, the place looks immaculate – no furniture anywhere, freshly painted walls. I know this place will soon descend into the chaos of a regular household when it is furnished, but for now I appreciate the brightness of the open space.

Have I come a long way or what?

“Where we going?”

Neve looks up at me as we walk through the hallway leading to the other two rooms in the house.

“You have a room, dummy.”

A look of anticipation and determination paints Neve’s face as she balls her two hands into fists.

“Neve excited.”

Soon we are met with a door, but this one is different from the rest. Four letters made from wood in a childish font hang on the door.

NEVE.

Rustling can be heard on the other side of the wooden frame as Neve bites her lower lip.

“For me?”

I smile as wide and as bright as I can, I’m sure it won’t amount to the same kind of brightness that Bell and Neve manage to pull off, but I try my best.

Night takes time to turn into day after all.

“For you.”

I open the door as the sun’s light beams through and slowly encompasses the two of us.

Neve’s eyes grow wide as she stands in the entrance to her new room.

Despite the lack of furniture in the rest of the house, this room has been immaculately designed and decorated to what I would assume are the tastes of a child. To be honest, I’m relying on Bell for a lot of the intel here.

Speaking of, Bell is already in the room – quickly putting up the finishing touches on the room.

“I thought we were going to wait to show her until it was all done, Hiro!”

A tear falls down Neve’s cheek.

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see her figure wobbling and her feet losing their grip on the floor. Within seconds the child begins to fall to the ground out of shock.

With almost inhuman speed, I duck down to the floor and catch her before she hits her head.

“Are you okay? I know, I know. It’s a bit much, but we wanted you to feel comfortable here. If you don’t like any of the decorations, then we can change them out for whatever you want. If you want it to be a little more creepy or dark the-“

“Neve think perfect.”

While still reeling from the original shock, she weakly smiles.

“Well, I guess now that you’ve already seen it – would you like to help me finish this off before it gets dark?”

Neve jolts up with a newfound energy and quickly nods, running into the room with wonder.

That’s how we spent the first day in our brand-new apartment, not to mention that Bell and I didn’t manage to set up a single thing of our own in that time. That’s okay though, we are used to living so much worse than this, we just want Neve’s first room experience to be a blast.

I think about these things as I lay on the floor of my new room. I never thought I would be spending so much of my time not only with other people but putting their needs before mine.

It’s not a horrible thing to say the least, it’s just new to me.

As my eyes start to flicker and I feel the sleep demon creep up to my bed and send me to the realm of dreams, I hear a loud thump coming from Neve’s room.

Before I can even bring myself to get up, I hear several smaller noises getting faster and faster until they reach my doorstep.

My door opens with a creek as I see Neve peek through.

“What’s the matter? What was that loud bang?”

Neve steps through the door with tears in her eyes, quickly making her way to where I’m sleeping.

“Neve heard monster.”

I jump up at the thought of a monster in the house.

Wait?

Monsters don’t exist in this world; it must’ve just been one of our neighbours being noisy.

“Are you okay?”

Neve wipes the tears from her face as she lays down next to me on the floor.

“Yes, but Neve sleep here tonight.”

She must be really scared, that’s something I would never expect from a vampire. Even if I think back to some of my earliest memories, fear was never a part of them.

“You’re more of a kid than you let on.”

Neve turns away from me as she tries to get comfortable on the floor.

“Papa misunderstand, Neve protect.”

I guess I’m not the only one around here putting on a brave face.

The irony that a vampire is going to protect me from monsters isn’t lost on me, but that will have to wait for another day.

I, after all, have a vampire of my own to protect.

Momentie
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Ochroleucous
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Abraham B. A.
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