Having gotten dressed and feeling like she could have done with a shower and some clean clothes, Fern helped Brook create a space on the mausoleum floor. Brook, just wearing jeans, moved the candle on top of wide ledge amongst some unlit white ones. They put the airbed, the bedding and the camp bed to the far corner, where Fern saw a large metal trunk.
‘What’s in there?’ she asked.
‘Some more supplies,’ Brook answered.
‘I was thinking…now that everything is kind of over…Couldn’t we find a house to stay in?’
‘Can’t live without your girly necessities?’ Brook shot back.
Fern humped, ‘we both could do with a wash and some clean clothes.’
Brook shrugged, ‘We’ll go by mine tomorrow then. But right now, we need to stay here.’
‘Why?’ Fern asked as she finished piling the bedding up.
‘That man from the arcade is still creeping me out,’ Brook stated.
‘He didn’t do anything. I guess he could’ve gone to the police though,’ Fern pondered.
‘I don’t think he really saw anything…It was just…’
‘There something off about him.’
Fern frowned as they walked into the middle of the stone room. She fully remembered the brief conversation she had with Dacian and didn’t feel anything odd about him. The idea she should admit this to Brook gnawed at her, but she put it aside.
‘You can’t read minds can you?’ she cut in.
‘Sort of,’ Brook replied slowly, ‘you can pick things up from humans’ minds. But we can’t read each others. It’s not like telepathy though, it’s more like you guess what the human is going to do. Sometimes when you fed you can hear them, but that’s all down to connections.’
‘Oh, so I can’t learn how to do that?’ she asked making her disappointment seem real.
‘No. I’m going to teach you have to fight. You need to know how to attack and defend yourself,’ Brook stated.
‘But I’m more powerful then…I was before.’
‘It’s still useful to know about and I can show you how to ward off other vampires.’
Fern shuffled her feet on the floor, feeling hard dust and small stones underneath her. She glanced down then up at Brook, who for the moment seemed districted as he too was looking at the floor. The gap between them was only arm’s length and now the bedding wasn’t scattered around, Fern really felt like she was in tomb.
‘Can’t we go outside for this?’ she asked.
‘No. We can’t risk anyone seeing us,’ Brook cut in, ‘I’ll you show the basics.’
Fern nodded and they spent the next half an hour practising a mix of simple leg and arm movements. It felt more like a warm up before a gym session then actual fighting or as Fern thought about it later, the first steps of boxing. She learned to strike out with one fist then the other, to slide her feet forward and back, also to move quickly to the right and left to avoid on coming attacks.
‘I feel silly,’ she pointed out during their break.
Brook was smoking before the black candle with his back to her. She was sat opposite him, her back to damp stone wall.
‘Who taught you how to fight? I thought we were going to do karate or something,’ Fern continued.
‘I did boxing when I was a kid,’ Brook muttered.
‘That explains it. Maybe we should have a practise fight and see what happens?’
‘Sure, I’ll win though.’
Fern stared at his back and watched him flicking ash away. The room smelt heavily of liquorice. She brought her knees to her chest and fought the urge to go outside down. The idea of being trapped plagued her mind and she didn’t understand how anyone could live like this.
‘You ready?’ Brook called over.
She looked up. He had put the cig and the candle out. Dark grey smoke was curling up to the ceiling. Darkness settled back in, but only for a moment as a number of tiny flames broke out over the other candles. Fern got to her feet staring at them and convinced they hadn’t been light before.
‘I’ll teach you that too,’ Brook spoke with a grin.
‘How did you do that?’ she gasped.
‘Sleight of hand, fast movement and practise, just like a good magician.’
‘It’s useful for other stuff too, though?’
Brook nodded, ‘everything is when you learn it. Anyway…’
Swiftly, he crossed the space between them and locked his arms around Fern’s shoulders. Fern wiggled against him, hands on his chest and tried to escape. Brook though, got her into a headlock and bent her to the floor. She saw him bringing his knee up to her face and a panicked squeal escaped her throat. Instead, Brook neatly tumbled her to the floor and grabbed her hands to soft the blow.
‘That wasn’t fair!’ Fern snapped.
Brook yanked her up and she slammed into him.
‘Why? Because you weren’t ready?’ he asked cheekily as he held her tightly.
‘Yes,’ she cried out feeling slightly winded.
‘That’s going to happen. You’ve got to keen your senses into every little thing. You’ve got to know seconds before a thing happens and act on it then.’
Fern pushed against his chest and Brook let her go. Growling, she paced the floor before coming back to stand before him. Brook flexed his arms and shoulders, remaining casual.
‘Let’s try again,’ Fern demanded.
Brook smiled and stayed still.
Fern approached, her footsteps echoing softly. She got chest to chest with Brook then tried to put him in a headlock. However, he was far faster and had twisted her arm behind her back before she could fasten her arms around him. She cried out at a spike of pain then brought her other hand up and punched Brook in the face.
He let go of her arm, wheeling slightly. Fern both hands fists, rained a few blows on to his chest and stomach. Brook wiggled away from her, darting to the side then around the back of her. Fern twisted, snatching a deep breath before she tried to land another blow on him. Brook caught her hand and brought her arm up into the air alongside his. Fern went for a low punch, gritting her teeth as she did so. Brook twisted his hips away then collided their bodies together.
Fern grunted with pain and effort. She dropped her head and shut her eyes. Her lungs ached and she felt so unfit. Brook let go of her hand and her arm dropped uselessly to her side. Suddenly, she wanted to tell him all about Dacian. She wanted them both to get angry and knock each other senseless. Though as she caught her breath, she realised it would be foolish. Brook had already proven himself right.