Remaining there, Fern watched Brook put his back to the wall and draw the lighter and a packet of cigarettes from his pocket. Clearly, the cold damp wall touching his bare back didn’t bother him. She watched him light up and take a long drag.
‘I guess we can’t die from cancer now,’ she called over.
Brook blew out the smoke, ‘only if you drink from someone who has it.’
Frowning, Fern sit up and swung her feet off the bed.
‘Same for any killing disease. It mutates the blood cells. What? You thought you were immortal and invincible now?’ Brook asked seeing her face drop.
‘Sweetheart, forget everything those romance novels taught you. We are vampires not Gods.’
‘So, I can still die?’ Fern said softly.
‘One hundred and one percent, yes.’
Brook placed one of his boot covered feet on the wall and bent his knee. With his free hand in plucked at some loose threads in the small hole at the knee. Fern hugged herself, her thoughts tumbling around in her head like a circus show. She blinked away the sharp light from the candle flames and took in a deep breath of liquorice scented air.
‘I trusted you,’ she whispered.
‘Well then, you can’t exactly blame me, can you? It was your mistake,’ Brook shot back.
Fern jumped up and quickly covered the distance between them, ‘Do you know how long I spent searching for you?’ she yelled.
Brook tipped the ash from the cigarette and put it in his mouth, ‘no idea.’
‘Ten whole years! Every waking second I was searching and researching and asking. Do you know how many goths and fake vampires I’ve hung out with?’ Fern screamed into his face. Brook pushed her away with one hand and blew the smoke off to the side. Fern tripped backwards, but stayed up right. She clenched her fists and thought about punching or slapping him.
‘There’s not many of us in England now,’ Brook said calmly, ‘it took me awhile. But that’s no excuse to get pissy at me. And I had to make sure you really wanted it and could handle it. Not like the wannabes.’
Fern stared at his body, watching the rise and fall of his muscles. The shadows were still underlining them. She unclenched her fists, suddenly feeling all the anger leaving her and sadness taking over. She put her arm up to her face and covered her eyes. She couldn’t think clearly, she was still changing.
‘You should count yourself lucky,’ Brook’s voice came to her, ‘my last two died.’
‘Huh?’ Fern responded.
She felt Brook take her elbow and move her arm. He guided down on to the camp bed and she realised he’d gotten rid of the cigarette. She spotted it still smouldering on the floor and a line of smoke twisting upwards. Brook let her go and placed his arms behind him as he rested back on his hands. The camp bed sink under their weights and Fern noticed how uncomfortable it was becoming.
‘Can’t we go out and find some other place?’ she asked.
‘The sun is rising. It’s too late. We are sensitive the light and not just the sunlight, other human made light can also affect us, but you won’t die from that. Just the sunlight. That’s one of the things fiction got right.’
‘Why? Is that what happened to those others…?’ Fern probed.
‘Our blood and skin are photosensitivity. It was some genetic condition The Parents had. No one knows way,’ Brook explained, ‘my last two died in transition. They weren’t strong enough.’
Fern rubbed her hands in her inner thighs.
‘Why do you care anyway?’ he cut in.
‘Just…you must have felt…bad,’ Fern said slowly.
Brook lay down and put his hands behind his head, ‘nope. And nor should you, or you wouldn’t be here right now.’
Fern pushed back her fringed, then tucked the longer strands back behind her ear. She turned to Brook and looked at him. He had shut his eyes and his face was unreadable. She thought about the first time she had seen him. He had been swimming in a lake, naked.
‘You brought me to you that day. Didn’t you?’ she asked carefully.
‘Of course. No one ever ‘stumbles’ across a vampire. We wouldn’t be very supernatural if that happened. Did you believe those ten years had finally paid off?’ Brook added with a chuckle, ‘you know, there are so many humans who spend their whole lives looking for us and never find us.’
Fern nodded, ‘you all ready told me that, in our first conversation.’
‘And I give you too many chances to get out.’
There was a pause then Fern said in soft voice, ‘you’ve always known haven’t you? Why I wanted this, why it had to happen?’
Brook cracked open an eye and looked at her, ‘yes. Your heart told me. You were dying and completely alone in the world. You wanted to cheat death.’
She bit her lip and tasted blood instantly.
Brook sat up and cupped her chin. He pulled her forward and kissed her. His tongue tip pressed over the tiny cut, catching the next drop of blood.
‘You must be careful. All your teeth are slightly sharper now,’ he explained, ‘we should rest.’
‘There’s not enough room,’ Fern said eyeing the camp bed.
‘I’ll find a coffin. Might have to empty it first though…’ Brook said as he got up and stretched.
‘Wait!’ Fern grabbed him, her fingers digging into his pocket, ‘that’s…not true is it? Do we have to sleep in coffins?’
‘No,’ Brook burst into laughter, ‘not unless you really want to. I prefer a feather bed, myself and some matching pillows.’
Fern’s fingers slipped from him, ‘you’re such a dick.’
‘Have you only just figured that out?’ he shot back with laughter to his words.
Fern dropped her head and gritted her teeth.
‘I got an inflatable mattress and some sleeping bags.’
She half raised her head and watched him pulling a large hiking rucksack from the back left corner. He tossed her a sleeping bag then a second one. Fern put them on the camp bed and listen to him dragging the air mattress out.
‘Is this how you live? Like a homeless person?’ she inquired.
‘Not really. Help me with this, will you,’ he asked.
Fern got up and helped him spread the air mattress across the floor. It was a double and took up the rest of the space. Brook showed her the foot pump and they took turns in pumping the bed up. On Fern’s last turn, Brook blew out most of the candles and unfurled the sleeping bags. He lay them on top of the bed, before taking over the foot pumping for a final time.
‘It looks all right,’ he announced.
Fern took off her shoes, jeans and bra before getting into a sleeping bag and laying down. Sighing, she rubbed her face and watched Brook take off his jeans and blew the rest of the candles out. He got into the other sleeping bag and they lay together in the darkness.
To Be Continued…