Nick had packed everything. Even if the Donor House didn’t work he wasn’t going to go back to the house he and Alice had left behind. It was time to move on to pastures new. He turned, glanced at Alice, and sighed, because he didn’t know what she’d do if the House didn’t work out. They always said they’d stay together, but maybe it was time for them to part, so she could begin living her own life again. She’d probably argue against it, the way she always did, saying that they were better off together, and he’d probably give in, even though he felt like he was the source of all her problems.
The box in Nick’s arms felt light, but he knew it wasn’t. A human wouldn’t have been able to take the weight, he wasn’t sure that Alice would be able to, and once again he felt good about being a vampire. That feeling would fade pretty quickly, so he’d once again hate what he was, so he basked in it, happy to be himself for the first time in months. He took one final step, staring at the door to what had once been a hotel, and waited for Alice and Issac to catch up with him.
“Are we really going to do this?” Nick asked, biting hard on his bottom lip.
Alice tapped his top lip. “Don’t do that.” She sighed. “It was your idea, Nick.”
Issac reached out and touched the handle of the door. “The House is ready, but are we really ready for the House.” Nick’s eyes met Issac’s. “If we do this we’re going to change the world and we need to be ready for that, so now is the time to back out if you’re scared.” Issac smiled. “I’m not.”
Breathing deeply Nick forced himself to stop biting his lip. It was one of his worst habits because he seemed to always stick his teeth through his lip, which didn’t hurt but it didn’t exactly look nice. He stared at the building in front of him. The creation of the House had been his idea, based on what he’d done with Alice before everything had been screwed up, and he wasn’t sure he was ready to change the world. Finally, pushing away his fears, he put his box on the floor, reached into his left pocket, and pulled out the key for the Donor House. With his free hand he took Alice’s hand.
As Alice gently squeezed his hand, showing her support, Nick put the key into the keyhole. He thought about what it had been like before their renovations, which had been extensive, what it had been like during the building process, and what it had been like during their first walk through the newly finished building. It had never felt like a home, but he wanted to make it into a home for both vampires and humans, even though he was terrified it was all going to go very wrong.
Issac and Alice both covered Nick’s hand with theirs and it made him smile, because he knew he wasn’t the only person who had put his heart and soul into something that could fall apart within days. Together they turned the key, breathing a collective sigh of relief when it worked, before Issac pulled his away and opened the door. He was the first of them to enter the House, pulling a large blue suitcase behind him. Alice followed, a bag over her shoulder and a small box in her arms. Nick watched them, still smiling, before picking up his box and following them into the building.
None of them moved from the reception. Nick put his box down near where Issac had left his suitcase and looked around. It was the first room anyone would see when they entered the Donor House, so it had been made to be welcoming, but Nick felt cold. He wasn’t sure if that was because he was worrying, again, or if it was something to do with the building. Alice shivered as she walked over to him and their eyes met.
“I think it would be really good if someone turned the heating on,” she said, running her hands up and down her arms. “If our first donor is arriving tomorrow we need the House to be warm and not the temperature of the freezer in the kitchen.”
“Yes, it would.” Nick shook his head, unable to believe how stupid he’d been, because there was almost always a logical explanation for problems. “Do you really still feel the cold?”
Raising an eyebrow Alice smiled. “Most vampires do to some extent, but older vampires are more likely to feel the heat than they are the cold. I still feel both because I was always more affected by both when I was a human.”
“How do you know more about vampires than I do?”
“I’m not still dealing with unresolved issues about being a vampire, so I find it all very interesting.” Alice reached out and gently stroked some of his hair off his face. “You need to let go of the past and move on, Nick, because all you’re doing is letting him win.”
Nick turned to look at where Issac had been standing, hoping he wasn’t there listening, but he should have known better. Alice would never have brought up Nick’s creator around anyone else, because she understood better than anyone else ever could. Their eyes met when he looked back at her and he could see the worry in hers.
“Maybe opening the House will help me as much as it will other vampires.” Nick stopped himself from reaching out and touching Alice, because he knew it would make him feel worse. “I don’t want to hate being a vampire any more, Alice.”
“I know and I’m hoping the House will help you too, because otherwise I think you might end up walking into the sun.”
“I’m never going to give up. No matter how much I hate being a vampire there are too many things I’m grateful for to even think about walking into the sun.” Nick smiled gently. “I wouldn’t want to leave you behind.”
“We both know that I’ve dealt with becoming a vampire much better than you have.”
“True, but you’re still only young. Wait until you’ve been alive as long as I have.”
“Wait until you’ve been alive as long as I have,” Issac said from behind them, a smile filling his voice. “Are we going to finish unpacking or are we going to stand in the reception having the same conversation we’ve had multiple times before?”
Alice looked at Nick. “I guess we could finish unpacking,” she said, grinning. “It’s not as though I have much left in the van.”
“Neither do I,” Issac replied, sounding just as amused as Alice. “Now, who was it that filled the van up with all his crap…”
“It’s not crap,” Nick muttered, trying to be grumpy with them and failing. “I just have a lot of stuff.”
“You have too much stuff.” Alice shook her head. “I thought you’d use the move to the House as a time to get rid of some of it.”
“I will,” Nick lied. “I promise I will get rid of some of it, but there was just too much to do before the move, and now that we’re here I should have a little more time on my hands.”
Nick knew that Alice had heard the lie because she shook her head, unable to stop smiling. “Yeah, and pigs might start flying tomorrow.”
“You never know, Alice.” Nick smiling. “Who’s having what room?”
“Good change of subject,” Issac replied. “Right, we planned on the vampires having the top two floors, with the top floor being offices and the floor under being bedrooms. All of the bedrooms are pretty much the same, so it’s not as though one of us will be getting the best bedroom, and I think that means we should each just pick a room.”
“Do we stay together?” Alice asked. “We do plan on having other vampires live here at some point and I don’t know how comfortable I’d be having someone I don’t know in the room next to mine.”
Smiling, Nick reached out and grasped Alice’s shoulder. “I had thought of that, Ally. If you take the bedroom at the end, I’ll take the room next to you, and you never have to be scared of strange vampires.”
“Don’t mock me, Nicholas. We don’t know who might end up here and sometimes I do worry about what strange vampires might do to me.”
“You know how careful we’re going to be, Alice,” Issac said, defusing some of the tension. “No one we’re not comfortable with is going to stay here and you get the veto, because you’re the female. I know how easy it can be for us to dismiss your worries, but we can’t know what it’s like to be a female vampire.”
Feeling guilty, Nick squeezed Alice’s shoulder. “I wasn’t really mocking you. I know it seemed that way, but I don’t want you to be scared. The House has to be comfortable for all vampires, no matter what, because this is where all the misfits are going to come. We know that. We are some of those misfits.”
“Let’s just unpack,” Alice muttered, shrugging and knocking Nick’s hand off her shoulder.
Nick watched as she walked away, seeing the slump in her shoulders and knew he’d been the cause of it. “Why do I always say the wrong thing?” he asked, sighing.
“You’d have been fine if you hadn’t said the last bit, Nick. It did seem rather insensitive, because I can understand why she’d be worried. Alice isn’t ever going to be one of the strongest vampires and she needs to feel like she doesn’t have to be scared, even though I think she is scared a lot of the time.”
“Why do you say that?”
“No one really knows what happened when Alice got turned into a vampire, but there’s a reason the two of you have been together for thirty years and I have a feeling it’s because of that.”
Sighing, Nick bit his lip. “She is scared because of what happened when she was changed, but that isn’t the whole reason we’ve been together for thirty years.”
“I know.” Issac smiled. “Anyone can see that you love each other.”
“Yeah… I think that’s part of the problem. I keep thinking that I should let her go if this scheme fails.”
“Can you really let someone go who wants to be there?”
“Sometimes I don’t think she does.”
“Sometimes she probably doesn’t, but let’s be honest here… it’s Alice. For every day she wants to kill you there’s going to be six when she doesn’t, because no matter what the two of you have a relationship that most vampires would die to have with their creator or child, and it’s got to be a joint decision.”
“I’m not going to leave anyway,” Alice said as she crossed the reception, “and if you think we’re having the same conversation again, Nick, I’m just going to gag you. That way you can’t say anything stupid.”
“Don’t even think about it.”
Shaking her head Alice walked over to where she’d put her things, grabbed both the box and her bag, before heading over to the lift. “We’re never going to have a normal relationship, there’s too much that’s happened, but I love you, Nick, and I’m not going anywhere.” As the door opened she stepped into the lift. “You need to come to terms with that.”
Words failed Nick, but he wouldn’t have had time to say anything because the door closed and Alice was gone. He turned to look at Issac, who just grinned at him, before Nick shook his head and walked out to the van to grab one of the many boxes he had in there. If it hadn’t been for his ‘crap’ they wouldn’t even have needed a van, but he wasn’t going to leave any of it behind. There was something reassuring about having something tangible there to remind him that he had lived a long life, even if half the stuff he’d got from antique stores because it was like something he’d had during his human life. He sighed. That was probably part of the reason Alice kept telling him he needed to come to terms with being a vampire.
Before he realised what he was doing he was biting hard on his lip again. Nick stopped himself, but nodded, having come to a decision he should have made years before. If he was going to come to terms with his human life he had to know what had happened to his family. When he’d been changed he’d had a wife and three children who’d all depended on him, but his creator wouldn’t let him go back to them. According to the vampire it had been for Nick’s own good, because he needed to sever all ties with who he was before, and yet every day he’d missed them more. That was part of the reason he’d walked away, even though he could never bring himself to go back to see how they were, terrified that they were all dead.
Smiling to himself Nick picked up one of the boxes. If they were dead there was nothing he could do about it and if they weren’t… well, maybe he had relatives somewhere, relatives who weren’t vampires. He doubted it very much, because he had a horrible feeling that his creator hadn’t just gone after him, but he needed to stop thinking about that. Turning, he stared at the house again. His crazy idea had really come to fruition and he couldn’t quite believe it. A donor would enter the House on the 1st of December and then, he hoped, the vampires would begin visiting around the middle of the month.
With the box in his arms he walked towards the Donor House and realised something very important that they’d all forgotten to do. Being the owners didn’t mean they were free to break the rules. Nick made his way into the reception, dumped his second box with the first one, and stopped. Once again he looked around the room, which was slowly becoming more welcoming as the House warmed up, but he didn’t know if it was ever going to feel like home to him. He wasn’t sure it mattered one way or the other, because he kept thinking it was going to be a failure. Something was going to go wrong.
“Stop it,” Alice said, as she stepped out of the lift. “Nothing is going to go wrong. The House is going to be a huge success, we’re going to have vampires and humans mixing, and it’s going to change the world.”
“How do you always know what I’m thinking?”
“Your emotions are always written on your face. I could read you even before I was a vampire and now it’s just even more obvious than it was before.” Alice tilted her head and looked at him. “If you keep thinking that bad things are going to happen then bad things are going to happen, so stop ill wishing us and start believing that your crazy idea is going to work. We do.”
“Alice is absolutely right,” Issac said, stepping up behind her, “and I believe it’s time for all of us to sign in, is it not, Nicholas?”
Nick looked at the sign in book. He’d thought that opening the door was the point of no return, but he’d been wrong. The point of no return was the moment the new book was first written in and he knew that they would make him go first, because creating the Donor House was his idea. Unsure he turned to look at Alice and Issac, who were waiting for him to make a move. It was going to be his decision whether he wrote his name in the book or not, his decision if he thought the House was going to work, and his decision if he actually believed his crazy idea was going to work.
Slowly Nick reached out a hand and picked up the pen they’d placed beside the book. Their names would be the first in the book, which meant something important to all of them, because it meant that they really had made a huge step in attempting to change the relationship vampires had with humans. It was past time someone did something and he knew why he’d made the choices he had. Finally, nodding to himself again, he wrote his name on the first line of the first page of their first sign on book.
Nicholas Reeves, vampire, 19.32 30/11/04
Issac pushed Alice ahead of him, even though he had done more work. Nick couldn’t help but smile at that, because he knew why Issac had done it, and Nick appreciated the old vampire even more than he had done before. Alice gently took the pen from Nick’s hand, telling him he was forgiven with a gentle brush over his fingers, and looked at the book.
“I can’t believe this is really happening,” she said, as she wrote on the second line.
Alice Penhallion, vampire, 19.32 30/11/04
Grinning, Alice turned and gave Issac the pen. Nodding, Issac took it from her and bent over the book to write on the third line.
Issac MacPherson, vampire, 19.32 30/11/04
When Issac stood his eyes met Nick’s and he smiled. “This was a fantastic idea, Nick, and even if it all goes very wrong I won’t ever regret having a chance to change the world.”
“Neither will I,” Alice said, reaching out to take Nick’s hand. “We have done the right thing for the world and now we just have to find out if the world’s ready for us.”<<< Donor House: Nick: Talking to Issac***Donor House: Saskia: Becoming a Vampire >>>