Best Friend For Hire Reprise, Entry 373
When Ariadne and I returned home, I caught a scent so pleasant that I could’ve missed the others for my joy. Portentia was here. After tasting her blood, nothing else had been satisfying, and the best part was that she wouldn’t even be injured by feeding any number of vampires.
“James, you’re not here to steal our staff, are you?” I asked, giving him a smile. If he were, then they would go. With Aaliyah’s backing, James could do anything, and I couldn’t begrudge vampires an even better life. “I know perfectly well that they’ll never want you to leave, having met you.” I commented, feeling his aura affecting me.
“Sorry. Papak is giving my family his part of the tour, so I volunteered to watch over this lot.” he told me, motioning to a bunch of hooligans that couldn’t handle the power within them. “They had a bit much of Portentia’s blood.”
“Ah. Yes. I do appreciate your consideration. Sorry to have left you alone with Papak, but we didn’t realize you’d be here quite so soon. That was quite the quick flight.” I pointed out, wondering if they even did fly. “Is Portentia still around? I thought I smelled her on the way in here.” I told him as nonchalantly as I could manage. The cravings her blood would incite around here would have to be stamped out when James left, but we still owed him for the easy and exceptional meals.
“She’s here. I hired her for the duration of the visit, so she could help feed everyone. Feel free to get a snack before stopping to talk.” he replied, not even bothered by our blood requirements anymore.
“Is my niece with you?” questioned Ariadne as she looked around warily.
James quickly and neatly made a spell that would prevent sound from leaving our vicinity. Then he said, “Always. You know her. She’s not officially here though, so Portentia and my daughter don’t know.”
Ariadne nodded, acknowledging the point. “Vito, would you mind tying them up, so James can join us? We brought souvenirs from our trip.”
“I’m surprised you don’t just…” he snapped and created a flash of light in obvious imitation of Ariadne’s powers. “I can’t imagine a reason you’d need to shop.”
“Need, no, but I do like to get out occasionally.” she insisted.
Meanwhile, I trapped my young brethren, planning on releasing them later, since I doubted any of them could figure out that particular spell before it would naturally dissipate.
Ariadne smiled up at me as she said, “Thank you, dear.” Then she told James “Let’s catch up with the others before Papak makes up too much about Vito and Zachary. They’ll be fighting for weeks if he gets too carried away.”
James followed behind us, but I was certain he could find his own way just as easily. Something was different about him since last we spoke.
“How’s Raine coming along?” I asked as we walked.
“Still skittish.” he replied immediately.
“But how’s her magic?” I prodded.
“She doesn’t consciously use any yet.” replied James, shrugging slightly.
“What?” asked Ariadne, turning around in surprise. “She could handle all of your shopping with ease if my niece didn’t. What I do doesn’t hold a candle to what she could do.”
James nodded and said, “I know. I need to work with her more, but I’ve been waiting for the right time.”
“I’d tell you that there’s no time like the present, but my niece is probably involved. That girl…” stated Ariadne, shaking her head.
James grinned, probably noticing the momentary smile on Ariadne’s face. “Keeps life interesting, doesn’t she.”
“That is certainly one way of putting it. Has she ever made you watch her use that scythe of hers?” I asked as I allowed myself a shudder. I immediately suppressed those memories as they tried bubbling forth.
“Too often. I don’t even get the bad memories anymore. You do know the scythe’s just for show, don’t you?” he asked, studying our reactions.
I frowned and said, “I’ve guessed, but that is still a terrifying weapon. She could no doubt devour the world with it.”
“She could snuff out a galaxy on a whim if she tossed it into a star, told it to conserve its energy, and left it for a while.” he told me with certainty.
“She speaks to it?” asked Ariadne, surprised again.
“You could say that.” he elusively replied.
“Aren’t you worried about saying too much? You obviously know more about that thing than we do at this point.” I told him with a note of warning.
“She’d just kill me again if that were a problem.” he said with a shrug.
“Again?” questioned Ariadne in surprise.
James shrugged again. “She’s Death. There’s really no difference to her whether someone is alive or dead. We might as well have on/off switches.”
Ariadne gently touched his arm and asked “What happened to you on your honeymoon?”
He smiled and gently patted her head as if she were the child she appeared to be. “Much. I can’t tell you a hundredth… well… less than that.”
Realization clicked in my mind. “You’ve aged, James.” I asserted. Looking into his eyes for some sign that I was right.
He acknowledged my assertion with a gentle smile. “Just don’t go calling me ‘old man’ yet.” he insisted. “My daughter’s only fifteen.”
“Most people will think you’re still going on twenty. If I didn’t know Carl, I’d be at a complete loss. As things are, I’m still very curious.” admitted Ariadne with a look that said she wanted to pry the story out of him.
“I know you’re patient. Give me a hundred years from your perspective, and I should be allowed to tell you a great deal more.” he assured us, speaking of a hundred years as if that was nothing to him as well.
“How long will that be for you?” I asked in surprise.
Ariadne elbowed me and said, “Be nice.”
“I honestly don’t keep count. If I knew my age, I’d probably brood about it.” he told us, actually sounding old for a moment.
I gave him a grin fit for a T.V. villain as I said, “Maybe Aaliyah will let us throw you a party when you pass us.”
Ariadne punched me in the gut. “Be nice!”
“Yes-yes. Always. I’d invite you.” I assured her as if that’s what she was worried about.
She sighed dramatically, looking to the ceiling and rolling her eyes.
I didn’t dodge as my brother charged down the hall toward us, grabbing James with one hand and scooping up Ariadne and me with the other as he flipped around. He carried the rest of us through the mansion far faster than I could have managed on my own, but that was his reward in return for stunted magical talent.
“Got them!” exclaimed Papak with a grin. “You’re up, Vito.”
“I see.” I told him as I unruffled Ariadne’s shirt. He could have been a little careful at least.
“Are you two dating!?” exclaimed a pink skinned girl with brilliant blue hair and amethyst eyes.
I had never seen anything like her. Despite the odd colorations, she was stunning to behold, even as she grinned like a kid in a candy store. How had she come to her conclusion so quickly?
“Dani, this is Ariadne and Vito.” stated James. Then he turned to face us as he said, “And this is my daughter, Dani.”
“She’s pink!” exclaimed Papak with a big grin as he pointed to Dani.
“Really?” I asked, feigning surprise. “Are you certain?”
Papak stuck his enormous head almost against me, saying, “Yes.”
“Well, thank you for informing me. I would never have figured that one out.” I told him, pretending to be grateful.
Dani ducked under Papak’s arm, tapped on his cheek, and asked “Are they dating!? They feel like they’re dating.”
“Do they?” questioned Papak as he eyed Dani.
She felt we were dating!? What sort of power was that!?
“Sorry. She’s exceptionally energetic today.” explained Alma, as she ducked around Papak to grab Dani, whom she smiled at affectionately.
“But Mom…” complained Dani as she was being pulled away.
Ariadne smiled at the two and said, “Yes, Dani. We’re dating.”
“See!” exclaimed Dani as she bounced on her feet.
“You are… quite interesting, aren’t you.” stated Ariadne, looking at Dani as curiously as I was while using her magic to see what I could not.
“Still doesn’t have Portentia beat.” stated Cosette with a smirk. She had been observing us by one of Papak’s old trinkets.
Dani frowned and tried to move toward Cosette despite Alma’s hold on her. “You don’t think I’m interesting!?”
Cosette kept up her smile, stepped forward and patted Dani’s arm. “You’re very interesting, but Ariadne’s an incredible healer. She was examining your physiology. You can tell by the soft glow around her.”
“Ooooh.” stated Dani. She quickly turned to face James and exclaimed “Daddy, don’t kill her!”
He sighed as if that was a typical overreaction of his daughter, walked over to her, and hugged her. “Dani, you know I don’t randomly kill people, even if they give random medical exams. Besides, Ariadne is Aaliyah’s aunt.”
“Is she really!?” asked Dani as she stared up at me. “That’s so cool! No wonder they look similar! She must know all sorts of things!” she exclaimed, making me wonder how much she knew of Aaliyah.
“Let me apologize in advance. I can’t compete with my niece for knowledge.” stated Ariadne immediately.
“Does Aaliyah really know that much?” questioned Portentia in legitimate confusion. Seeing everyone’s gaze turn to her, she said, “What? Aaliyah’s a super genius, but she’s… what… thirteen now?”
“Tell me what you think in a couple hundred years.” I told her in with a smile.
“Did James tell you that Portentia’s here as lunch?” questioned Papak.
“He mentioned it.” I replied, though I was craving her blood just looking at her.
“Wait. You think she’ll be around in a couple hundred years?” questioned Portentia in surprise.
“I thought you had found out that she doesn’t age. Interesting medical condition.” explained James.
She nodded and said, “Life’s so strange. Just a year ago, I thought I’d be wandering the streets alone forever. Half a year with James, and I’m surrounded by immortals.”
“I’m not!” exclaimed Dani with a grin. “Immortal that is. I’m going to grow old, sooo old. There will be wrinkles and everything! It’ll be so cool!” insisted Dani, weirdly excited about the idea.
James’ only reaction to her statement was to roll his eyes, but Alma looked quite amused by the idea, which was weird. When did Alma start looking like a content mother?
As Dani elaborated a little more at how cool growing old was, James’ eyes grew distant, as if he was remembering something or looking elsewhere. He actually managed to seem very old as he did, despite the obvious youth of his body. Waiting a hundred years for an answer to what had happened might actually seem like a long wait if he kept surprising me.