The family begins to grow, as Fumio now must know the truth for her own safety.
By this time, Jean-Claude was heading back to his own room, thoroughly exhausted by the day’s events. He really wanted to get some sleep now. However, Ren intercepted him, and he said, “Thank you for proverbially knocking some sense into her.”
“Hey, that’s what big brothers are for, Ren,” said Jean-Claude.
“I know,” he said, “which makes me wonder how you got through to her and I could not.”
“It depends on the approach,” said Jean-Claude, “For her, it was the direct approach, and, maybe, more direct than what you may have tried in the past.”
“I would admit,” he said, “it was more direct.”
“Plus,” added Jean-Claude, “You have to know the source of the problem, and go after that. How much did you see?”
“I got back just in time to see you drag her to the back porch,” said Ren, “and I said to myself, ‘This could get interesting.’”
“Well, I hope I got through,” said Jean-Claude.
“I think you did,” said Ren, “and yet, there is something that I have to ask.”
“Fire away,” said Jean-Claude.
“Why did you say that about getting along with humans?” asked Ren.
“I believe it,” answered Jean-Claude.
“Then maybe its time someone gave you a wake up call,” probed Ren.
Jean-Claude looked at him a bit out of the corner of his eye, stroked his chin, and said, “Are you saying that I am dreaming?”
“I don’t understand how you think it could work when you know what happened with you,” said Ren.
Jean-Claude took a few moments to chew on this one, and then said, “You know, I don’t know what you may have seen, but one thing I have learned is how to make the best of a bad situation.”
“I cannot see how you can adhere to a God that allowed all that he did to you,” said Ren.
“Are you saying that he was unjust for all that?” asked Jean-Claude, knowing that he had gone through this line of questioning before.
“The mixing of the two worlds would never work—we’re too different,” answered Ren.
Jean-Claude turned to face Ren, smiled, but looked Ren right in the eyes. He said, “What I told Anjou earlier tonight was true. I miss them, I ask why they had to die like that, I would love to have it different, but none of that is ever going to happen. I don’t like it, but I have accepted it. Yet, you want to know something? I don’t blame God for it.”
Ren looked surprised and stared him. He then smiled, and said, “Now who is lying to who’s self?”
“I don’t,” said Jean-Claude, firmly, “and there are reasons.”
“I can’t wait to hear this,” said Ren, “Lay it on me!”
“By all means,” said Jean-Claude, “It is easy to love God when everything is going well. It is a whole other matter when things are going poorly. I know you are not a believer, but I would challenge you to read the book of Job, even if you think it is myth, for in there is a great moral lesson. He lost far more than I did, and yet he refused to blame God. When he was even near the point of death, but did not die, he would not curse God. He even wished for death, it never came, and he did not curse God. Even though he still had an issue with pride, he still knew God would bring him out the other side of the trial as if he had been gold tried in the fire. His friends were convinced that God was punishing him for his sins, and he proved that this was not the case. He only accusatively questioned God’s authority to do this to him, because he knew of nothing that he had done to deserve what he received. God finally showed up, and in laymen’s terms, told him to stand up like a man, and asked him if Job were there as He laid the foundations of the earth. Everyone’s sin was the fact that they thought they knew the mind of God to the point where they were trying to tell God why and how He should do things. Yet, God told them that He does what He wants, and we have no place to question it. Instead, what we should do is see what we are supposed to learn out of the trial, and say to God, ‘If you will not get me out of it, get me through it.’
When this is our attitude, then we can see the lesson. Who knows? There may be I time where I will meet someone who has faced what I have, and be able to give them strength through the trial. God knows that there are problems between our worlds, and I wonder if He thinks there may be a way that the two could mesh. If that is the case, who is to say that I didn’t go through this so I could learn to stop it from happening again. I could have been a raging beast, but God, through many others, turned me into an avenging angel. I will admit it wasn’t until tonight that I finally found the time properly to mourn their deaths, and that is still running around in me a bit. However, it was because of that conversation with Anjou that I now understand even better what I already believed. God did not take all that I had away from me unless He had something greater that He wanted to come out of it. Besides all that, just like Job got back twice all that he lost for facing the trial, defeating the trial, and had the last part of his life more blessed than the first, I, even this night, realize that I have gotten back far more than I lost. I got the victory over the trial, the right result came, and God gave back more than He took. God doesn’t just take everything from you when He is testing without having giving it back in mind when you come through. The Devil thought to destroy me, but all he made was someone that was going to wreak havoc on his kingdom. I wish it had not happened this way, but would I have had the attitude that I have now?”
Ren wanted to say something, but then he realized that it would be useless. How could he answer? He did not know if he could even attempt to respond to it. Jean-Claude then said, “If things did not turn out this way, what would have happened that night you were almost mugged? What would have happened when those four renegades showed up? Where would Karin be right now? Where would Yukiko be? Would Elda be the way she is right now? Would I have a bigger family than the one I lost? Would you be wining human allies like this? The gap can be bridged, but it would take some time. However, until that time, I’m going to continue to play avatar, and protect both worlds from attack from without, and strife from within. It’s all I can do. It’s either be like this, or curl up and die in a corner saying, ‘O woe is me,’ begging for pity that I know I would never get from others. Just because some humans did you dirty when you were younger does not represent all humans. Educate them, and you remove fear. Remember, fear is ignorance in a panicked state.”
Ren thought that he was going to straighten out Jean-Claude, but he was the one that got a lesson. Jean-Claude started to enter his bedroom, but then came back out, looked at Ren, and said, “Oh, by the way, even if you want to keep that chip on your shoulder, just remember that a bad attitude on your part does not constitute a problem on mine. Because if you want someone to feel sorry for any slights you received in your youth, you can forget it, because it isn’t going to happen. I welcome you to the real world, Ren—its time for you to grow up. Good night.”
He closed the door, and Ren stood there staring at the door for a good ten minutes. He wanted to become mad, but he did not know how. Jean-Claude was right, and he wanted so desperately for him to be wrong. That was not the way that he wanted things to go. Instead of trying to help rid Jean-Claude of what he considered pipe dreams, Jean-Claude turned the tables on him. It wasn’t as much what the answer had been as much as it had been how he answered it. It was the answer of a man that was so convinced of what he believed that he could not be talked out of it, and would have laughed at the attempt. Maybe there was something to it? He left the house to walk and think. He wondered if he could have been able to react the same way if the same thing had happened to him. What did Jean-Claude have that he did not?
On the next morning, Jean-Claude and Karin went down to Kenta’s place, and asked if he could come out for a bit. Kenta wondered why Jean-Claude was not in a church, but Jean-Claude had his reasons. He had tried at one time, but what always happened was that people would start asking too many questions, and trying to find out more about his private life than he cared. Rather than lie, which he knew was wrong, he had to stay away, and write it off as one of the casualties of the situation under which he had to exist. At this time, she said what was being planned. Kenta was not sure if telling his mother was a good thing. She said, “Kenta, one day, she is going to find out. If we are going to get married, there will come a point where we will not be able to hide this any more.”
Jean-Claude then added, “Besides all that, the both of you are in danger.”
That caught Kenta’s attention, and Jean-Claude assured him that it was not imminent. He then said, “However that does not mean that it does not exist. If they ever make a connection between you and Karin, where you two lived, you would be in danger. They would use you as some kind of tool to get at you and the rest of your family.”
“What do you have in mind?” asked Kenta.
“You two are going to have to live in the house on the hill until the danger has passed,” said Karin.
“What will my mother do?” asked Kenta.
“Oh, she’ll be able to live as normal,” said Jean-Claude, “but if danger hit, she would have to stay there until it is all over.”
Karin jumped in, and said, “That’s why both I and Anjou are coming to your place tonight.”
They were in earshot of the house, and Fumio came out when she heard that, saying, “You’re coming over tonight? Why don’t you come for dinner?”
Karin was taken off guard by this, but she took the opportunity, and said, “Well, I have to work today, but we’ll be over at about seven tonight, is that okay?”
“Sure, it would be perfect!” said Fumio, who then asked, “And who is Anjou?”
“She’s my little sister,” said Karin, “and she wants to meet you.”
“That would be great,” said Fumio, “I’ve always wanted to meet others from your family. I look forward to it!”
“See you then,” said Karin, and the three went their way.
“Well, that was easy,” said Kenta, “She always looks for chances to entertain guests.”
“That’s easier than what I have to do,” said Karin, “I don’t know what I am going to say to her.”
“Leave that to Corn Muffin,” said Jean-Claude, “That girl has a way with words." I think she’ll be able to do it in such a fashion that would not frighten Fumio…at least; I hope she will have the words.”
He then looked at the couple, and said, “Now, if you will excuse me, I have some devotionals I wish to do, and then I will catch up to you at Julian’s later. Catch you later.”
“Do you think it will go well?” asked Kenta.
“These days,” she answered, “I can’t tell how anything is going to go. Anyway, I hope I can catch up to Maki at the bookstore, because I need to talk to her as well.”
At the bookstore, Maki was behind the front counter, and Karin was glad that it was quiet that day. What she had to deal with could be a bit sensitive. Maki was her usual bubbly self, and greeted Karin warmly. Karin came up, and they hugged, exchanging pleasantries. Maki then said, “So, what’s up?”
Karin hesitated for a moment, and then she asked, “Maki-chan, how do you see me?”
Maki was confused, and said, “What do you mean? You’re my friend.”
“Yes, I know this,” said Karin, “but that’s not what I mean. How do you see me, I mean, what do you see when you see me?”
“Now I am completely lost,” said Maki, and then Kenta joined in, saying, “You’re confusing me now. What’s eating you, love?”
Karin thought for a moment, and then said, “Last night, I had a talk with Jean-Claude, learned some things that I didn’t want, and faced some things that I hadn’t faced until last night. It was rough, but I needed it. I guess I should start with this question: why did you not talk to me when Anjou fed on you that one day?”
Maki stopped, and thought for a moment. She then said, “When it happened, I did not know what to think, but while I slept, Anjou was in me, and I in her. She talked to me—it was so odd. She told me…” and then she stopped, not sure that she wanted to say anything. Maki then said, “…she told me things.”
Karin came up and softly put her hand on Maki’s, saying, “Maki-chan, I know what happened—everything.”
Maki was not sure how to react to this, but then she saw the look on Karin’s face, and she saw that Karin was not angry, but had a very loving look on her face. “Maki-chan, why were you jealous of me?”
“Karin, please don’t hate me,” she said, but Karin said, “I’m not angry. I just want to know. Why didn’t you talk to me?”
Tears began to well up in Maki’s eyes, and she said, “Karin, you were already having too many problems as it was, and that was before I found out just how deep things were. I didn’t want to burden you.”
“Didn’t you think what that would do to you inside?” asked Karin.
“Karin-chan, please, I know that I was acting like a spoiled brat,” said Maki, “I should not have been jealous of you. It just seemed you could always get the attention of the boys, and I could not. Yet, all it was was the fact that I had no confidence in myself that I could win anyone. But, you want to know something, after Anjou did what she did, I didn’t feel jealous anymore. In fact, she talked to me, showed me what I did wrong. It was as if the jealous spirit was siphoned out of me. Now that I know how things work, I guess that is what happened. I think I owe your kid sister some thanks! Because of her, I have Wiener now. Please forgive me for being jealous.”
“Maki-chan, I forgave you long ago,” said Karin, “I just wanted to be sure that you know that you can come and talk to me. No more secrets: let’s be more open than that.”
Maki was relieved to hear this, and then she said, “So, what’s the deal with, ‘How do you see me?’”
“Well, I guess it has to do with what happened with my sister,” said Karin, “I mean, weren’t you angry at what happened, or frightened?”
“Well, I didn’t understand what she was doing at first,” said Maki, “and then I saw the fangs. By the time I figured out what was going on, she popped me. I always thought that vampires would be more cruel, but I was so surprised. She was so gentle; in fact, it seemed she was making sure that she didn’t hurt me at all. Oddly enough, it felt peaceful, and even pleasurable.”
Maki’s eyes were actually looking dreamy, and Karin wasn’t ready for this reaction. “At first, I wanted to avoid you, but then I realized that, if you had meant me harm, you would have hurt me long ago. By being around you and your family, I realize that you guys are people like anyone else, just a little different. If it were to happen again, I don’t think anything bad would happen, because I know that you wouldn’t put me into a situation where you would harm me.”
Maki then looked at her, and said, “Wait a minute: are you afraid that I see you as a monster? Oh, please girl, I never did, and I still don’t. What brought that on?”
“I am going to admit something to you that took a long time for me to admit to myself,” said Karin, “I have secretly wished that I could be just a regular girl, and that I did not have this problem that I have. Yet, now I know that, I was ashamed of what I was, and that I really did not love myself. I mean, did you know that, when the both of us were in the infirmary that one day, I wanted to bite you, and I was too frightened? I may have, if I had the ability to erase your memory then as I do now. Yet, I wanted to release, because you were so unhappy. You were asleep anyway, so I thought it would be okay, but I was angry with myself for that. You’re my best friend. I couldn’t do that to you. It would have changed you, albeit temporarily.”
By this point, Maki was back to doing her chores in the shop, but she was still listening and talking. Without even looking up, she said, “So, why didn’t you bite me?”
Karin looked shocked. “Maki,” she said, “If you had woke up, and I could not have erased your memory of what had happened, how would you have reacted, not knowing what you know now?”
Maki stopped, thought about it for a moment or two, and said, “Yeah, I see your point. Still, if you had told me before you bit me what your problem was, maybe then it would have been all right. I mean, it would have shaken me a bit to know my best friend was a vampire, but I think it would have been the same: if you had meant to hurt me, you would have already done it. Actually, I would have thought it a bit cool then, knowing my friend was a good vampire. Because you are my friend, I want you to know that, if you ever have to release, and I am down, don’t hesitate. I know that you would help me if I were ever in trouble, so why can’t I help you? I accept you for what you are, why can’t you?”
Karin was crying, but joyous at the same time. She ran up and hugged Maki tight. “Okay, okay!” laughed Maki, “I love you too!”
Thus, on that day, a friendship strengthened, and took an interesting, but good turn, in that, there was a human that knew about vampires, did not care that she was a vampire, and would be willing to walk amongst them unafraid and unprejudiced, being able to love them like they were humans like herself.
After work, Jean-Claude walked back with everyone else, and Yuriya escorted her beau up the hill. Maki then saw Anjou approach, and she got a big smile on her face. She knelt down to see her eye to eye, and said, “Tomorrow night, your sister, Jean-Claude, and I will be doing some homework, and I want you to be there. Could you please be there? I want to talk to you, and I’ll have something for you!”
Anjou was not sure what that meant, but she read her aura, and saw only happiness, so she had nothing to fear. This was the first time they had been near each other since the “incident,” and she was not sure herself how Maki would react. She kicked herself for being sloppy and not remembering to erase her memory, but it turned out all right anyway. She grinned her gentle grin and said, “I will be there, and thank you for the invitation.”
Maki smiled, patted her on the head, and said, “Well, I’ll see you in class tomorrow!”
That left Kenta, Anjou, and Karin. Karin was still chewing on things, and she felt it would be better if they waited until after supper, when everyone would be feeling sociable and talkative. They went in, and Fumio was beaming. Things had been so much better now that she could hold down a job, and there was nothing over which to be depressed. It was a gracious spread despite the humble means by which it came, and everyone enjoyed themselves. However, Karin wondered how it was going for Anjou, considering that her taste for mortal food was dampened being what she was. On the other hand, Fumio was absolutely charmed by the young lady, complimenting her on her manners, although she wished she would not be so quiet. When the dinner was over, Anjou tried to help with the dishes, and Fumio, though flattered, insisted that she relax, because she was the guest. However, she would have none of it, and ended up helping Fumio anyway. It was at this point that Anjou became a bit more talkative, and was starting to build a rapport with Fumio—all a part of her strategy. Finally, they all sat down, and began some small talk. When it got quiet, Karin then said, “Um…Fumio…there was a main reason why my sister and I are here.”
“Oh, really,” asked Fumio, “Is there something wrong?”
Karin rubbed the back of her neck, and said, “Well, I’m not sure how to address that, I mean…”
Fumio looked at her, and then at Kenta, and said, “Oh no, Karin, your so young—didn’t you two take any precautions?”
Kenta’s face went beat red, and said, “Mother, it’s not like that, we haven’t…”
“It’s no reason to be embarrassed,” said Fumio, “I mean, you two have been together for a while now, and I figured…”
“We’re waiting,” said Karin.
“Oh good,” said Fumio, “Not many young people these days have such restraint.”
Then Fumio stopped, thought, and said, “If it’s not that, then what is the problem? I don’t understand?”
Anjou then spoke up, and said, “How much do you trust Karin?”
“I don’t understand?” said Fumio, confused to where this was going.
“If Karin were a bad person, do you think that she would have done something by now?” asked Anjou, very frankly.
“Well, since you put it that way,” said Fumio, still confused, “you could say she’s earned my trust. I mean, we’ve known each other for sometime now, so, if she had meant bad, I guess you could say she would have done it by now!”
“I’m so glad to hear you say that, Fumio,” said Anjou, “because what we have to tell you will be to your benefit.”
That took some of the edge off, and Fumio said, “Well, I am glad you said that, because you were frightening me for a bit there.”
“For some,” continued Anjou, “what we are going to tell you would be extremely frightening, but I believe that you can take it.”
“Is your family in trouble?” asked Fumio.
“No, it’s nothing like that,” said Karin, but Anjou jumped back in and said, “If people knew what we truly were, our lives would be at stake.”
Fumio thought for a moment, and said, “Have people been harassing you for being westerners? Those people are so stupid! I cannot stand people who hate people, just because they’re different!”
“That makes me even happier to hear,” said Anjou, “because with what we tell you, we know that you will not hate us. However, it has nothing to do with being western.”
Kenta saw how things were plodding along, and felt that, if it kept up with this game of “20 questions,” it would be Christmas before the matter was settled. Kenta figured that, if came from him, it might go better. He then said, “Mother, what do you believe about vampires?”
Fumio reacted as if she had smelled something bad, and said, “What does that have to do with anything?”
“It has everything to do with this conversation,” said Kenta, “because, whatever it is you do believe, you need to toss that aside.”
Fumio was trying to figure out what was going on, and then she looked over at the girls. Karin was looking a bit sheepish, not knowing how to continue, but Anjou took the cake. It was then that Fumio saw Anjou with a now healthy pair of canine teeth extending out of her mouth as it remained closed. “I think you knowing the truth is long overdue,” said Anjou. Karin could not believe what she saw, while Fumio was starting to turn pale, and she looked ready to faint. Before she could, Anjou was beside her in a split second, touching her forehead, and saying, “Fear not, we are your friends.”
Anjou was tapping into the pleasure centers of her brain, trying to help put her at ease. “Dearest Fumio,” said Anjou, “Take what I am doing right now as a notion of peace, for, if we meant to harm you, we would have already taken your blood. Besides, your blood is not what I prefer, because I like jealous young women, and Karin seeks unhappy people.”
Anjou knew that, if she did this, Fumio would be better able to receive the news. Anjou then said to Karin, “Extend your fangs, big sister, because she needs to see you this way as well.”
Karin, now knowing that there was nothing left to hide, did just that. Fumio then said, “Please tell me you have not bitten Kenta.”
“Mom,” said Kenta, “Karin is different. Haven’t you noticed that she walks in the daytime?”
Anjou took her hand away, because she knew that Fumio would not freak out at this point. “Fumio-san,” said Karin, “I am what some would call a un-vampire, because everything I am or can do is, or is done the opposite of, what a normal vampire does. I make blood, and I have to release it. My blood acts as a fertility drug to other vampires, and my kind show up about once every thousand years when there is a sharp drop in the birthrate of the vampires. Your son was my preference, and caused me to make blood. Normally, people bitten by me lose their depression for a time, but Kenta remained normal. He is unaffected, and so, if I need a release, he can receive it.”
“She…she bit you?” said Fumio.
“She still does,” said Kenta, “and because I told her to.”
“What!” she said, “You volunteer your neck?”
“It’s okay,” said Kenta, “It’s harmless.”
“In fact,” said Karin, “I even helped you one night, although you do not remember it. My brother took me out one night to find my preference, and we met you. You were very unhappy that night, and he, well, kind of forced me to bite you. For, you see, if I don’t release, I have massive nosebleeds, and it could be fatal if too much comes out. He would not let me nosebleed, and cause my vampire instincts to rise, and I bit you. After that, you were no longer depressed, and you attacked life with relish.”
“How come I don’t remember this?” asked Fumio, now more in a state of shock than fear.
“My brother erased your memories at a time that I was not able to do so,” she said, “That’s what we normally do when we feed.”
“But, you…I mean…why don’t I hear about deaths, and…” said Fumio, scared, shocked, and confused, all at the same time.
“Mother,” said Kenta, “I said to forget all you know.”
Unfortunately, the combination of emotions had a mix of unhappiness within it, and Karin’s blood started to rise. “Oh no!” she said, “Not now!” and she eyed Kenta.
Now Fumio began to display a bit of the mother bear in her and said, “Don’t you bite my Kenta! Leave him alone!”
This was going south fast, and so Anjou then suggested the only thing that she felt may resolve the situation, and said, “Karin, Fumio needs better convincing than what we have tried tonight.”
Fumio caught the hint, and even more so when she saw Karin turn towards her with a smile on her face. It was not evil, but it was anxious. Before Fumio could get up, Anjou touched her again, and calmed her. Fumio pleaded, and said, “Please, don’t hurt me!”
Anjou said, “Please, do not be frightened, Fumio-sama. You shall actually find this very enjoyable.”
With that, Karin approached, sniffed her neck a bit, stroked her face gently, and sank in her fangs. Fumio stiffened initially, but then she relaxed, and felt a peace overcome her. Anjou said into her ear, as she stroked her hair, “When you awake, you will be better able to handle what you hear. Karin is taking all your fears away.”
After about three minutes or so, Karin pulled out, looking quite contented herself, and Kenta laid her down. Kenta did not know if things needed to get to this point, but there was nothing that could be done now. He only hoped that Karin’s infusion would put her in a better mood to receive the other information that she needed to hear.
As Fumio lay there, she began to hear Karin’s voice, all pleasing and happy. It was as if she were seeing out of Karin’s eyes, and her own as well. The voice said, “You see, Fumio-san, there was nothing to fear. All you should feel right now is peace and bliss. We are not what you think, and we are not as the myths that you have heard. Feeding is how we live, but we seek not to harm anyone. We are a kind of people, as you are, but with different needs. Once you get to know us, you shall see that you have powerful friends, and that we want to get along with you as you wish with everyone else. I love you, and, if things go how I hope, you will make a fantastic mother-in-law. Wake up now, and see the world in a new and special way.”
Fumio awakened, feeling much better, and saw both Karin and Anjou smiling over her, fangs back in place, both of them doing what they could to make her comfortable. “How are you doing, Fumio-san?”
“I…I actually feel good,” she said.
“Did it hurt?” asked Anjou.
“The prick hurt a bit,” she said, “but then—and this seems so odd to me—I actually felt like I was enjoying it!”
“I have to admit, that it made me feel good too!” said Karin.
“There is so much that I do not know,” said Fumio, “Can you teach me?”
Anjou put that cute smile back on her face, and said, “I would love to!”
After educating her about vampires, they got to the other half of things. “First,” said Karin, “I wanted to tell you, because, if Kenta and I do get married, you would have to find out eventually. Yet, there is a more pressing reason.”
It was at that point they told her all that had been going on since Jean-Claude had arrived, and then they explained the danger in which she and Kenta rested. It was then that they said that their parents were opening up their home to the two of them, and that the sooner they moved the better. “I wouldn’t want to be a burden,” said Fumio.
Karin then said, “If the two of you can help offset the expenses, as Jean-Claude has been doing, then it would be no problem.”
“In fact,” said Anjou, “if you can help Karin around the house during the day, mother would love you.”
Kenta thought for a moment, and said, “How is your grandmother about all this?”
“She still is a little leery about humans,” said Karin, “but Victor has been helping with that. She says that there is so much of Alfred in him that it isn’t funny. They’re hitting it off. Give Victor some time, and that won’t ever be a problem.”
“We can move tomorrow,” said Fumio, understanding the concern, “We may not get it all up there in one day, but we can at least settle enough to be in there.”
“I will think of you like an aunt,” said Anjou, and she hugged Fumio.
All Karin could say was, “Welcome to the family!”